Thursday, March 2, 2017

THE FARM

I'm so excited that one of our families who has gone back to my roots...the farm! Saydi and Jeff have moved from Boston to a 140 acre farm that was recently bought by one of their friends who needed a family of caretakers until they can move in next year!  Jeff had been looking for a way to get back to the earth and Saydi was looking adventure and a way to make some great memories for her darling children who are at perfect ages to "remember"!

Even though we had just returned from our trip to London and CH, Richard and I saw a break in the rain in California on the weather forecast, we took off to join in the adventure! What we found was pure delight. From the old days when I was a kid, I immediately remembered how much idyllic it was when life felt like an adventure every day and how great it was to roam free on a beautiful piece of land. And as a Mother I also remembered how hard it is!

Here are Hazel and Em at their new front gate!


And an overview of the houses and barns from the top of the rise above the farm:


Just to get a little reality in the mix before I show you anything else, the house (in the background) has no central heating!  It's eleven-year-old Charlie's job to get a fire going in the cast iron stove in the living room every morning before everyone gets up.

Jeff leaves for work (setting up an office for his company in Silicone Valley) at 6 a.m. and gets home about 5, so Saydi and the kids are on their own on weekdays. It had been raining almost every day since they arrived and a giant mudslide came down the hill and took down a couple of fences on it's way (part of which you can see on the left of the picture above).

Soon after they arrived, a mountain lion came and killed one of their two sheep! That was a little disconcerting! There is a caretaker on the property and he tied the dead sheep to a tree hoping that the mountain lion would come back for more meat the next night so he could shoot it and eliminate the danger. They tried to get the only other sheep into the barn for safety but, as you may know, sheep are not the smartest animals and try as they might that woolly guy wouldn't cooperate. SO here is Charlie, pretty pleased about this dramatic story and....the carcasses of the first sheep with one leg tied to the tree and the other, who sadly met his demise the next night in the background. Real world farm life!



The other thing that was troubling upon arrival was the delivery of a new puppy which will grow into a very large dog very soon! As puppies do, she was nipping at the kids and jumping on them with dirty paws and Emmeline and Peter were terrified!  The first couple of weeks on the ranch, Saydi along with the enormous task of setting up a new/old farmhouse and a new life for their family, she also had two little children clinging to her legs for fear of the dog!  Sadly this is the only picture I got of that fluffy white pup! Luckily by the time we got there the dog had settled down a little and the kids had faced their fear and bravely made friends with him! 


Because of all the rain, the property looked like something straight out of Ireland! Brilliant green and moss covered trees were everywhere and Saydi was totally into feeling the joy! 



The kids are thrilled with their new charges: a gaggle of baby chicks, two fat little pigs. Hazel and Charlie immediately loved the dog who is settling into his place in the family! 





Let's take a closer look at those "little" pigs! Sorry about the low light in the barn! 


There is so much to explore and so much to learn! 





And such a sense of the freedom of childhood! 


Peter loves driving his own car around the grounds! 


There's always lots of work to do on a farm!  The owner had sent about 50 trees that needed to be planted so we all worked to get some of them in cloth bags surrounded by soil to prepare them to be put in the ground. 


I hope they don't plant this one:  


Luckily the wild California Coast is only about 10 minutes away.  We loved exploring that while we were there too. In about half an hour we could be at Half Moon Bay. We went there to enjoy a gorgeous sunset one night and a fire at the Ritz.  Dreamy! 


Saydi tries to have one day a week where each child is "the child of the day." when they get special time and attention. As you may have noticed, this was Emmeline's day. I had such a lot of fun helping this little musician with her violin lessons. Saydi is homeschooling and Richard and I got a chance to teach the kids. He taught them how to write poetry and I taught them what I had just learned in London about one of my new favorite people: William Wilberforce, the man who, along with a team of good people dedicated much of their lives to end slavery in England. The next day Richard did a lesson on writing prose and I had a chance to share some stories about my mom and her family. 


The sunset was simply spectacular! 




Last week, the owner sent over two baby goats!  Look at those kids' faces! 



Saydi produced some remarkable meals out of that old fashioned farm kitchen and we had some spectacular meals around their little table. It was so exciting to see that great family settle into"the dirty life" with a passion! Richard's brother and his wife joined us for a day and an evening and we were entertained by the kids' rendition of Hamilton! They know almost every word of that Broadway phenomenon! For lots more details, beautifully written from the mind and eye of Saydi and some fabulous photography, check out Saydi's blog here

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Switzerland and a Summit on Family Trends


Switzerland is in our blood! Literally! Not only do we love this place because Tal and his wonderful Swiss wife live there so we keep finding great reasons to go back but also because my grandmother Ida Weber Clark and her parents Samuel and Verena Goldenberger Weber were born in a little village not too far from where the our Swiss family now lives! 


This time we came, not only to enjoy our Swiss family but also to attend a Summit on Family Trends that we had been working on for a long time. It was planned and organized to be ground-work for a future film loosely based on our book, The Turning.  

Before the Summit started Tal and Anita were able to stay with us for a night at the resort where the Summit was being held. We had SO much fun! We went sleigh riding and ice skating and even got to see a large group doing the most-popular (JK) event at Olympics....Curling. Can't figure that game out but it was sure fun to watch! 



It's not often that Richard feels like a "Little Guy" but Tal does that for him!  



The following day, Summit members began to gather at this spectacular five star resort in the Alps called Guarda Val. There we spent two and a half days with fascinating people from all over the world with amazing backgrounds and stellar educations that concerned some aspect of expertise in the family! Over half were from the U.S. but others were from Switzerland, Austria, Lithuania and China. 

There's nothing that makes the Wasatch Mountains seem like "hills" like The Swiss Alps! 




The meetings were held here and the surrounding ski resorts, including downhill and cross country skiing are very popular in this area of Switzerland's winter wonderland!


The rooms were enchanting:


In the building to the right is the spa where there are two big "beds" of hay where you can relax and forget all your troubles : )! It took me right back to my farm roots and actually produced the desired result!


The food was the best of local food as well as a restaurant with a Michelin Star chef!  It's a place where Roger Federer and his wife sometimes dine, as he has a house in the next valley!  Just FYI.



We took hikes between meetings and on the last day we walked to the village nearby for a fun ride in two horse-drawn sleighs!




One of the drivers was a great guy who looked like Heidi's Father!  Perfect!


Here's a close-up! This guy driving the horses has been running this business for many years and knows what he's doing!


The afterglow of our amazing experience there lasted all the way back to Zurich, where we did a workshop on family for the Eyre's Stake congregation there. The ride back was spectacular and we had such a fun group of parents at the meeting as well as two terrific translators who did a great job! Tal introduced us in High German! A first and a big effort for him! He is trying to hard to learn German but it has been so hard with his extensive travel schedule for work. He was delighted that people laughed at his jokes so he knew they were understanding what he was saying! Thanks not only for that Tal, but also for adding so much to the discussion. There's nothing like having  someone who was raised in our house there to explain "the real deal"!


A dear friend with lots of "resources" handed Richard a set of keys when he shook his hand upon our arrival....which belonged to a beautiful Ferrari, that he was kind enough to let us use for the next few days until we left! What can we say?  Richard and Tal were like kids in a candy store, checking that thing out! 




We spent a few more days with Tal and Anita and even though Anita wasn't feeling well, we had lots of great talks and a chance to see their little cutie's kindergarten class on the play ground and their stampede to the schoolroom when the bell rang. Wish I had a video because it was so cute. This is all I got: 


Wish I had thought to take pictures of the prices at the grocery story. Darn! It was amazing! Just incredibly expensive but also beautiful, fresh food! 

The Ride to the airport was pretty great! It was hard to keep Richard from putting "the pedal to the medal" but the extensive video cameras on the roads and the exorbitant fines kept him pretty well in the bounds of the very strict Swiss speed limits!  The views were amazing as we approached Zurich. 




It will probably take a couple of years for the film to come to the theaters but the direction we should go settled in our minds as we digested what we learned! We grew to love all the participants of the Summit and are so grateful for their input!

It was a trip we'll never forget! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

GREAT Britain!

The past three weeks has been quite an amazing journey in Europe with our kids in London and Switzerland as well as at a remarkable Summit on Family Trends in the Alps! I'm starting with our good time in England and will add Switzerland ASAP!

England has become our second home as of late! This is our fourth trip in the past year and a half. However, the three years we spent from 1976-79 when Richard was a Mission President for the church there is starting to seem like a dim memory from the past1 We were young parents in those days with four little children: Saren, was not quite six, Shawni  4 1/2, Josh, 2 1/2 and Saydi 11 months.. Richard was 31 and I was 28 when they called by the church to go to London and supervise 200 young missionaries stationed there. I was especially excited because I had never been outside of US except for Canada and Mexico.

If we could have been transported into the future forty years, we would simply would not have believed what we saw: three of our children would have served as missionaries there, two would have studied abroad with the BYU program and our youngest (one of the ones who served there), would be living there...semi-permanently!

Are we ever happy now that we have a good excuse to go back and visit our beloved country at regular internals and stay in a cozy apartment right in the middle of London!

Charity has been there about 18 months and she knows that city like the back of her hand!  What fun we had when we took off with sweet Moses in his new "buggy" and saw the wonders of London:

The Lego store at Leister Square (This Big Ben is made entirely out of Legos):



One of the great wonders of department stores in the city is Fortnum and Mason. The variety of things that you can find in this store are unbelievable! It includes hundreds of varieties of honey and jelly from all over the world


With a lovely little sign that explains each one: 



These beautiful tea sets are so very British:


We found astonishing arrays of food at Charity's favorite lunch place in a different part of town:





Dad got tired of walking after that and went home for a nap while Charity and i took off for Notting Hill. Is this a great place or what?




With such a sweet baby in tow we had a memorable afternoon.



For Christmas, Charity and Ian gave us tickets to a Musical called Beautiful: The Carol King Story which we loved! Such an fascinating story and great music from the 50's and 60;s. We recognized most of the songs and Charity and Ian did not!  BUT the story and the music were excellent!

Afterward Charity and I ran a few blocks away from their flat for gelato. And not just ordinary gelato. Creative gelato, made to look like flowers, one topped with a yummy macaron!




We spent lots of time walking and walking and walking and my fitbit now loves me! Here we are at the Natural History Museum where I had spent a lot of time as a young mother when we were there with the missionaries. While Richard interviewed missionaries, I walked the halls of nearby museums with new babies (I gave birth to two while we were there). Who knew that I'd be back four decades later watching fun tricks with a GRAND baby?




Although most people in Britain are "so lovely" and "so helpful and kind, just like anywhere else, you find a mean old man once in a while who is obsessed with following the rules. One day on our journey on the Tube an enthusiastic group of young musicians jumped on the tube at our door with instruments and a "boom box" and started to play some lively music to a add a little spice to the bored riders and with the hopes of getting a few monetary contributions from the listeners. An older man immediately marched up to them and told them they were NOT supposed to be doing that! They tried to encourage him to enjoy the music but he persisted and got more and more angry. Other passengers encouraged him to stop pestering them with no avail. Again I wish that I knew how to post video because, red-faced and totally exasperated, the dour old guy marched over to the emergency stop button and pulled it to the astonishment of the musicians.  The train immediately slowed down and stopped at the next station. The musicians made a quick exit amidst authorities there who were trying to figure out what was going on. The man in the trench coat stormed away!  Yikes! What a guy!


We left the next day for Switzerland where would be having fun with the Eyre Family there and attending a Summit in the Alps on World Family Trends (post coming next).

Then we went back to London where we spent one day with our family there before Charity, Ian and Moses took off for Sri Lanka and and the Maldives. It's Ian's last few days of paternity leave (the Europeans have got maternity and paternity leave right)! She'll be posting that great trip on her blog soon at drippingwithpassion.blogspot.com. 

We did have one more fun day with Charity in London before they left. While Ian was wrapping things up at work we took a walk over to the place where Moses was born and took some pictures of Moses at this very cute age!


Before they left Charity took us to a fun restaurant just around the corner from her house called The Flat Iron. It was a unique menu with only two choices for a main course: steak sliced beautifully on a flat iron or a hamburger. There were many sides and sauces on the menu to go with the meat! Reasonable prices (in fact everything seemed to be reasonably priced because of the strength of the dollar right now).



At the end of the meal we were give a little charm to present at the front door where we were given a yummy ice cream cone. The flavor of the day was chocolate with salted caramel


While we waited for our cones we could see a butcher cutting up a beef carcass through a window on the left which would soon be consumed by the customers. Seeing that made me sort of sad that we had just eaten part of a similar creature! :)


After our little family left I have to admit that we still managed to have quite a good time!

We have discovered that The National Portrait Gallery is one of our favorite places in London! Since it is so close to Charity's flat, we visited several times!  I was thrilled to learn that the book I am presently reading about William Wilberforce's decades long struggle for abolition in Britain was represented in a whole roomful of portraits there The book is Amazing Grace and I was astonished to see the portraits of so many great people involved in that great cause. I took pictures of almost all in that room along with the explanation of the picture so I would know what the people looked like as I read their names in the book.

What a man William Wilberforce was and what an incredible thing he and his colleagues did to finally bring to pass freedom for hundreds of thousands of horribly treated African slaves along with promoting better moral values in Great Britain!

I love this unfinished portrait of his kind and gentle face. His story is story is just remarkable!


Here they are at a the Conference for the Abolition of Slavery led by Clarkston. Every face in the crowd showed someone who was actually at the conference.


At Charity's suggestion before she left, we had lunch at the top of the Gallery with breathtaking views of London and some great food too!




Another favorite places in London that also happens to be in Charity's neighborhood is Covent Garden! There are always fun things to see and entertainment in the courtyards! 

We were there the day that Apple announced unexpected positive earnings and the Apple Store there was packed! 


Apple is known for their use of glass in their stores and though much of their building is exposed brick, they did have a beautiful glass staircase which was well-used! 



Covent Garden is filled with beautiful streets and fun things to see.  


I love seeing these buses. If only our ancestors who were shunned and abused and excluded from society when they lived in England could see this bus!  Even though they might not want to see the play, and most people haven't, this is great advertising for the Mormon church don't you think?  :) 


We did not get to this play but just seeing this building is almost as good!



We did ride bikes over to see a matinee of a Cirque show at Royal Albert Hall which was astonishing! 


And Richard bought a new hat on our way to see The Glass Menagerie. Such a great play! 



We finished off our "show fetish" with Aladdin! Amazing costumes and a stellar Genie with an astonishing silk curtain that simply fell at the beginning instead of being drawn! 


We had loved our three weeks in Europe but we were happy to pack our bags, clean the apartment for friends of Charity's who were coming to stay for a few days while Charity and Ian were gone and fly on home!

I love those 10 hour flights during the daytime when I can get so much done without interruption Those long flight (when they aren't overnighters) are simply one of my favorite things!



Our grand time in Switzerland coming next!