Writing My Life

Now and Then

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“Face-Lifting” a Fabulous Foto

New Fallen Snow

Photograph by Colleen Ussery Down

One of my sweet friends from my days in Hidden Valley posted this enchanting photo on FaceBook. So many elements came together to create this image: new fallen snow, a full moon, Christmas Day, and a thoughtful photographer.

I told her I wanted to steal it for my blog banner, and she “liked” my comment; therefore, I am accepting that as approval! And I am giving her credit and my thanks! And I am customizing my banner to feature Utah in winter!


Memorial Day – aka “Decoration Day” – 2012

This is actually one of my favorite holidays, and I am touched when we make the cemetery rounds and find hundreds of families and folks still paying homage to their loved ones.

Today, we left mums, small versions of Old Glory, and lots of love at the grave sites of our fathers and mother. We have not forgotten you, Daddy, Chuck, and Pat. AND we miss you oh so very much.

Love Renae and Gary

Our traditional, yearly photo op: Connie B, Cute Mama, and me.

The “past-its-prime” flower and note are from a Cub Scout den, and they are saying thanks for Dad’s service to his country. Sweet, huh?

This man was a great son to his parents, and he’s a wonderful husband to me!

It’s wonderful to see that their 5 children honor Charles Harold and Jenny (Pat) with flowers and loves!

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Keep Your Vampire Lovers, I’ll Take THE VIRGINIAN Any Day

The Virginian?” you ask.

This 1902 novel by Owen Wister, “almost single-handedly established the cowboy archetype” (Recorded Books Classic Library).

While today’s readers may be disappointed that scenes of hanging and shooting don’t occur until three-quarters in, some might appreciate the story’s deep philosophical character study. BUT what female can resist the romantic hero? Why the cowpuncher’s three-year courtship of high-spirited Molly Wood of Vermont is more tender than even Jane Austen could have imagined.

Interestingly, Wister’s description of the handsome hero did not make me envision Gary Cooper or James Drury, but rather my great-grandfather, a once-living ringer for the fictional character.

Great Grandmother Elizabeth's brand of beauty may not have been considered adequate for the screen role of Miss Molly Wood, but in reality, she was a perfect match for the school teacher.

Yes, Great-Grandpa Henry's photo fits Wister's description of the nameless cowpuncher perfectly.

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October Remembered in December: Pictures and Poetry

October ~ brings about a

Culmination of colors to celebrate

The death of a season in an

Ostentatious flourish like no other.

Bidding farewell to days of light, the

Eve of All Hallows

Rouses the sleepers beneath stones.

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Autumn Reverie: San Diego in September

Technically, winter isn’t officially here until December 22nd – also known as the shortest day of the year and the winter solstice. That means I can still write about Fall 2011 – a very challenging time this year.  BUT the months were also sprinkled with great moments, and those are the ones I want to review – mostly in photos.

Busy times ramped up starting in August. With school starting, there is always tons to do at the school district office,  and even more so this year. My terrific friend and boss headed for Great Britain for 3 – yes, I said 3 – weeks. She deserved the get-away, and so I didn’t mind the extra workload.

In spite of the insanity, I was able to fly to San Diego on September 15th for an amazingly cheap price with the purpose of spending a couple of days exploring the San Diego Zoo and Sea World with two of my grandaughters. (Why can’t I spell grand daughters with one “d”? It makes total sense to me?”)

I don’t know why I feel I have to explain my reason for leaving at such a busy time, but I do. It’s the guilt complex I have cultivated over many years, I guess. Anyway, I originally volunteered to go so that my daughter-in-law would not have to drive back to Salt Lake City alone with her 5 and 2-years-old girls. AND I found the cheap flight.

Before even leaving, I learned that my son did not have to stay at the conference as long as he anticipated, and he could drive back after all. But I HAD to go because I purchased that inexpensive airline ticket, right? So I went; shared the tiniest room the Hilton Hotel offers with 2 adults, 2 little ones, and 15,000 pounds of luggage. Nevertheless, it was a great time, and here are the pix to prove it.

San Sea Diego Zoo World!

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… house divided … capture the flag – Utah vs. BYU …

G.E. recently purchased his THIRD University of Utah flag. It seems the weather here in Utah County is not kind to these cloth representatives of that university to the north. Near the end of football season, the red U on a field of BLACK is pretty much obliterated. (So sad.)

To counter the winds of fate, my husband brought home a new flag that boasts the dimensions of a KING-SIZED bed-sheet! And hung it from the rafters above our garage door – the traditional place of honor for said flag.

But G.E. didn’t forget his darling wife and her loyalties which differ slightly from his own. Out of the kindness of his heart he purchased a BYU flag to replace the one that mysteriously disappeared last spring. (G.E. claims the wind blew away with it, too. Sure.)

Anyway here are his purchases:

The bed sheet!

The hankie. >_<

BUT I figured a way to even the score – at least on THIS blog:


the mini-flagette!

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… visual stories …

When I write one of my mini-stories, I don’t feel that it’s finished until I find a photo or art work to include with it. So I spend another hour or so searching Flickr or other resources to find something that fits – sometimes perfectly and sometimes “not so much.”

Tonight I thought I’d start with the art work and then write the story. I’ve played around with a variety of genres – from historical fiction to paranormal parody to science fiction – and now I’d like to dip into dystopia. With that in mind, I want to introduce you to the work of digital painter Marek Okon.

Here is what he says about where he gets his inspiration:

When its a book cover, inspiration comes from the story I’m reading. During reading I see all the scenes in my imagination and then I pick one that will fit the cover best, one that will draw attention of the people passing by this book. When its personal works I usually create my own little story around the picture, so every piece of equipment presented, every location and character has its part in the world presented. I rarely go and create something accidental.

I hope Marek doesn’t mind if I “create my own little story around” one of his pictures. I haven’t decided which of the two I’ve included here, but return tomorrow and see what I come up with.

I also invite YOU to try your hand at this as well. Choose a picture as inspiration for your own 50-worder, and share it with me. Please.

Til tomorrow, caio.

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… summer lovers …

Okay, these snaps were captured LAST summer.

We had an EX.TREME.LY late spring this year.

And so I’m not really sure WHEN or IF I will catch these huggers kissing and doing other romantic stuff. 

Zuch Smackers!

Ahhh. Must be a first kiss!

Now you know why one zucchini and/or one crookneck plant can feed the entire neighborhood.


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… whiling away the summer … more pix of CUTE kidz …

What to do on a rainy June day …


What to do if nobody can play …

Call the ONE friend who is ALWAYS there! She's a real "doll!"

What to do if you’re laid up for most of the summer with a bum foot … 

Create a cross-bow, one of many "MINI-WEAPONS of MASS DESTRUCTION!"

What to do if you’re scared of McDonald’s play-place …

Stick close to your SISTER!

What to do if you can’t walk in the rain …

RUN in the SUN ... with MOM!