Sunday, January 24, 2010

Digital Grandpa

I have become a digital grandpa!

Since our only granddaughter lives 7.5 hours from where live, we do not get to visit much. We were there the day she came home from the hospital and spent some time with her. While she was just a little thing, I think we bonded.

Then, when we returned from a conference in Santa Fe this past summer. we saw her again, changed her diaper, bathed her, clothed her in some real cute baby clothes, rocked her, listened to sleep in her new crib, held her until her mother said it was time for her to go to bed.

Then, we saw her again when she was blessed. Oh, she was so beautiful in her blessing dress--really her mother's wedding dress from which her grandma made her the most beautiful blessing dress ever. Plus, with that cute headband that she really didn't want on, she probably was the most beautifully dressed baby ever.

The biggest event was at Christmas when we were able to spend a good week with her. We played. We rocked. I taught her how to drink out of a sippy cup although she drooled more than she sipped. But she like to chug it anyway. We stared at each other. We rubbed noses. We had our pictures taken together. We giggled together. Sometimes, she cried. I took pictures of her, probably more than I should have, but she is soooooooooo....cute, just like her mother and her grandmothers. Yes, we had a ton of fun together over Christmas. But, alas, that was almost over a month ago. Now, we just chat via the video webcam...

Now, we can play peek-a-boo via the webcam, but I think she wonders who is that guy staring out at me on the camera. We talk, and sometimes she talks back or at least says something incoherent that I take as, "Hi, Grandpa! How are you doing? When are you going to come visit me again? I miss seeing you! I want to come to your house." For some reason, my daughter doesn't hear the same things that I do. She says it is mostly child gibberish.

I don't think they are coming until Easter unless we decide to trundle there, which is a very long trundle and getting longer every time we drive I-80, especially when it is snowing and blowing and the big semis run thick like salmon on their way to spawn. So, it's the webcam or nothing.

Even if I only get to see her via the webcam, I am okay with it because I am, at least, able to see her and talk to her. I don't want her to not know her grandfather. Via the webcam, she can see me, hear me talk to her, and understand that I am a real person although I appear only as a "digital" one.

Sometimes, she reaches out and tries to touch our faces on the screen. Deep down, I think she remembers us and wants to touch our faces and know that we are real. I am sure she remembers that one picture that I have now in my office of just the two of us--she sitting on my lap, her hand reaching out to touch my face or the other picture where we are both just staring at each other, wondering who will blink or look away first.

Yes, she loves her grandpa, even if I am a "digital grandpa."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Daily newspaper

Today, I couldn’t wait to get home from Church because we finally had a paper to read, yes even a Sunday newspaper. For the past several weeks, we haven’t had a newspaper because Joanne cancelled the paper on December 18, just before we went to Provo to spend Christmas. We spent a week there, and Anna Rose and Christiaan don’t get the paper. I did get to read one paper that Lonnie had brought with him. Then, when we went to Hinckley, I read their local paper. So, I have been going through withdrawals.

Yes, I have been reading the newspaper online, but it isn’t the same as yanking the paper, usually wrapped in an orange plastic wrapper, out of your box that is filled with snow. Then, when you get it home, you take it out of the plastic bag, smooth it out on the table, and then begin reading, being very careful when you turn the pages as not to tear it where the snow leaked in the bag and got some of the pages wet. From the national and local news on the front page to the weather section to the “news of record” section where I recognize some names periodically to the community page to the sports page and even the want ads, there is something about the touch and feel and read of a daily newspaper.

Joanne said, “Yes, we love to read the paper, but now I have to recycle it.”

Even that is newsworthy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fishing Rainey Creek for Memories of Long Gone Time

The Snake River meanders and rambles down through Swan Valley like a giant kid, taking its time in places and gushing in others, paying no heed to onlookers and the other creeks and streams that flow into it.

One of the creeks, Rainey Creek, ends its mountainous journey by dumping itself into the river about two miles from the Swan Valley store. Just past the store, toward Palisades Dam, stands the Palisades LDS Church, marking the road into the canyon from which Rainey Creek tumbles.

My brother-in-law John and I went to Rainey Creek on the opening day of fishing season many years ago. After leaving the paved road, we dodged mud puddles, swerved around rocks that had fallen onto the road and straddled ruts that caused my Volkswagen Rabbit to shimmy and shake.

We finally pulled off the main dirt road and onto another one, actually a two-rut path that runs along the creek and through various cedar patches. We rolled to a stop in the Cottonwoods, a campground so named because of the few trees that produce some semblance of shade and bits cotton-like fluff during the early summer.

We pulled on our waders, baited #6 hooks, placed green canvas creels around our necks, and headed upstream. We fished the new holes made by downed pine trees and the old holes that have run deep for years. We watched our lines drift quickly through each hole, periodically catching the bottom, tugging just a bit to give us the sensation of nibbling fish. Soon, we parted company and took turns fish the holes.

I stopped just above the big hole near the main campground. There was a white canvas tent and a beat up old truck parked nearby, but tent or no tent I was going to fish that hole, the best on the creek. I waded the creek and sneaked up on the back side. I dropped my in the swift current, and let it drift into the hole while I skirted the edge of the camp so I could stand on the bank.

As I watched my line drift, I was mesmerized by the swirling ripples under a branch that dipped low and touched the water like a baby playing patty cake.

All of a sudden, a real fish grabbed my hook and headed downstream. I tried to steer him to the bank, but he fought to stay in the current. Finally, when I had guided him almost in, he spit out the hook and started to roll back into the water. I rushed the fish and tried kicking him up on the bank, realizing why I was never very good at soccer. I missed him completely, and he disappeared downstream.
Disappointed, I reeled in my line and headed upstream to find John. He hadn’t caught any fish either, and we trundled to the car to eat.

In my old blue cooler I’d packed the “fisherman’s delight” (or at least one fisherman’s delight)–white bread, no butter, wrapped around cold hot dogs, with granny apples for dessert.

We ate silently in the car while two wild canaries played tag in the trees along the creek. A truck rumbled down the upper road and interrupted the silence for a few moments. Bits of dust lingered in the air and settled on the cedars along the roadside. About a quarter-mile downstream, a lone dog barked at the muffled tone of an old motorcycle. Two small kids, both wearing helmets, saw us and began to turn around, bouncing through the sagebrush until they had straightened their course back to their campgrounds.

We didn’t catch any fish that day, but as I sat there, munching on lunch and contemplating Rainey Creek, I caught instead random visions of my youth: wading in the creek in faded Levis and black Converse tennis shoes; my cousins and I racing our trail bikes down the dirt paths; climbing the hill just above camp, hoping to find a deer antler or some cool find; making rock dams across the creek next to the main campground; and watching my Uncle J.D.’s chest waders fill with water while leaning down to get a big rock for us; eating plateful after plateful of Dutch oven stew.

As I munched on my apple, I thought of Dylan Thomas’ “Fern Hill”:

“Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means....
In the pebbles of the holy streams.”

Surely I found a holy stream at Rainey Creek.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Past Decade and a New Decade

Amazingly, we just finished another decade! Congratulations to everyone! This decade has been one of the most interesting one I believe I have personally experienced. Take a look:

We moved from Lewiston, Idaho, to Miles City, Montana, and took a college presidency at Miles Community College.

President Bush served two terms.

Terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Another plane flown by terrorists crashed into the woods in Pennsylvania because brave people on the flight did not want it to crash into other buildings.

Two daughters graduated from high school. Both were all-state in music, speech and drama, and tennis.

The same two daughters graduated from a community college--Miles Community College and Laramie County Community College.

The same two daughters transferred to Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo.

We moved from Miles City to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to be the president at Laramie County Community College.

Mother Boltz came to live with us.

Joanne and I traveled to China, Korea, and Viet Nam.

We traveled to Sharon, Vermont, the birthplace of the prophet Joseph. We also visited Palmyra, New York; the Sacred Grove; Kirtland, Ohio, with a stop over at Niagra Falls.

Anna Rose, Hailey, and I traveled with students and faculty from Laramie County Community College to Costa Rica.

I traveled to Moscow and Saratov, Russia, with a group of Rotarians from Wyoming and Colorado.

We visited Nauvoo, Illinois, and Carthage Jail and walked down Parley Street to the Mississippi River and attended the Nauvoo Temple. Oh, what an experience that was.

Our daughters graduated from BYU. We are very proud of their accomplishments.

Both daughters married fine young men, both returned missionaries, in the temple--Idaho Falls Temple and Mt. Timpanogas Temple.

My wife and I vacationed in Cancun, Mexico.

The eldest daughter and her husband had our first grandchild, a beautiful baby girl.

We traveled to New York City, had the opportunity to capture a wonderful picture of the Statute of Liberty just as the sun went down, were lucky to capture great seats for Wicked. We also attended the Manhattan, New York Temple.

Barack Obama was elected President of the U.S., the first African-American president.

My wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary and are more in love now than when we were first married.

My wife and I took a trip of a life time--We returned to southern Chile, where I served as a missionary many years ago. What a wonderful trip we had! We had the privilege to attend the Santiago Temple. You can read more about the trip in my previous blogs.

And many, many more things that would take even more space.

Ah, the last ten years have been good ones although not without our own challenges. But the Lord has blessed us greatly, and we will continue doing the right things for the right reasons.

May we all have another wonderful decade, hopefully with more peace spread throughout the world.