Thanks to a lovely December temperature inversion, I’ve been spending most of the past week indoors. The air is so toxic and nasty, taking the dog for a 30 minute walk on Monday made my throat hurt for hours after. For both our health, we are putting walks on the shelf until this nastiness clears out.
When too much gunk and moisture get trapped in the valley, dense fog forms, and as it is super cold as well, these lovely layers of hoar frost form on everything. I’d find it beautiful if it hadn’t been created by toxic air.
I’ve lived in the Salt Lake Valley most of my life, and this is the one thing that makes me wish I lived somewhere else. Sometimes these inversions last weeks, and along with the health risks, winter depression settles in. The hours of light are already fewer, and when you add gray skies, bad air, below freezing temperatures, warmer, sunnier days can seem far away indeed.
I usually enjoy winter. And more often than not, it is spectacular here in Utah.
I try to remember that beauty, but it is hard when I’m trapped indoors, experiencing the same day over and over.
So, in an attempt to keep my chin up and talk about more interesting things. I’m presenting this photo of five of my favorite reads from this past year, and—
hoping you fine readers will share your favorites with me.
I wouldn’t really call the following paragraphs reviews. Think of them as reasons I liked and recommend these titles.
I found it nearly impossible to pick a favorite this year, but My Absolute Darling came as close as any. I almost hesitate to recommend it as the subject matter (emotional, physical and sexual abuse) are difficult topics for many, and this book does not shy away or hide the horror. That said, it is an important book, and Gabriel Tallent is a fantastic writer.
History of Wolves vexed me. It is a coming of age story that refuses to fit the mold. It took me several days of pondering to decide if liked the book. Months later I realized I loved it. I’m a sucker for flawed characters, and this book is full of them. The ending left many feeling confused and frustrated, but the ambiguity worked for me. I didn’t need to have everything explained, and the answers I was offered were satisfying.
Good Morning, Midnight is also atypical of its supposed genre. An post Apocalyptic novel that ignored many tropes. Themes of regret, loneliness, ambition, loss, redemption are beautifully explored. I highly recommend this one. Also, it made me cry three tears.
The Nix surprised me over and over. Nathan Hill weaves a very compelling story about a son trying to understand his estranged mother. I laughed out loud several times, felt disgust and sadness, and found myself completely wrapped up in events. Again, this book is filled with awesomely flawed characters who might get it right in the end, but maybe not.
American War offers a glimpse of a very likely future for the United States- A second civil war. Omar El Akkad gives striking insight into how someone becomes indoctrinated, and how quickly that indoctrination can lead to extremism and horrible acts of violence.
Don’t forget, I want to know your favorites as well.
A mostly Wordless Wednesday post-
Athena is almost 6 months old. While still a puppy, she is no longer the tiny little thing we brought home in July. She just passed the 50 pound mark. I can already see the adult dog she will become, and she will be amazing. Her guard instincts have kicked in and she spends many content hours staring out the windows, waiting and watching. I love her more and more.
Last Saturday my brother Robbie got married. It was a grand night, filled with family, fun, love, and some craziness. The venue (Publik Coffee) was near perfect. I’m a sucker for exposed brick walls, so I was impressed with this place the moment we entered.
Families and friends mingled on either side of the room. A testament to how well we all get along. There was very little awkwardness.
I’ve liked my brothers girlfriend/fiance/wife, Emily since the first time we met. She has the right balance of class and irreverence, which makes her perfect for my brother and our family.
I can admit, there was a time I thought Robbie would never marry (which isn’t a bad thing. That sort of commitment isn’t for everyone), so as he stood in front of this room and said his amazing vows, I teared up over and over. More tears were shed when Emily took her turn. When two people have been through hell and fire, then find happiness together, well, I’m a sucker for that sort of story.
Here are some more lovely images.
This was taken just before the toasts.
First dance. Also, I love dancing at weddings. It is a time when you can just be silly, dance like a crazy person, and have a grand time. The dancing at this wedding was particularly awesome, with all sorts of insanity. I hope there is epic video.
I really dig this lady next to me, by the way. My wife is top notch.
See you next week, friends.
As I looked up, streaks of pale pink and yellow stared back at me me. For a moment, it seemed as if the sky were moving at an incredible rate of speed, stretching the clouds, and the earth lurched to keep pace. I stumbled, confused and dizzy, forgetting why I had come to the city, who I intended to meet. A passing stranger spoke to me, but his words were a jumble of incoherent sounds. I could only stare at the fading light, awestruck.
Three deep breaths, three rapid blinks, and I regained a recollection of my surroundings, who and where I was. She was waiting for me in the bar around the corner, a cold beer already placed on the table in front of the empty chair I would soon occupy. I was excited to see her again, share some conversation, one hundred laughs with someone I did not see enough of during the autumn months.
And in that moment, as I fumbled with my phone, framed a picture, instead of thinking how much she would appreciate the stunning sunset, the mountains dark silhouette like an oil painting, all I could think was how I wished you were right here to see this with me instead.
college football season begins for my beloved Utes. I’m excited.
Is (college) football your thing? What teams do you follow?
This has been a (mostly) Wordless Wednesday post.
In October of 2015 the time came to put down our 14 year old German Shepherd, Keyara. Being a stay at home dad (and before that, mostly part time at the library), I’d spent more time with her than anyone else in the family. It isn’t an exaggeration to say I was closer to that dog than most humans. Making the decision to euthanize her was difficult and the actual act was heartbreaking. I still tear up looking at this picture, taken during her last few hours.
I think of her every day, along with her adopted sister, Sage (who died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 9).
I had determined I would not be ready to adopt another dog for several years, maybe never. My heart hurt too much, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever be over the loss of both my beautiful girls.
Things change and time makes some wounds easier to deal with.
Last Friday, after likely not enough thought or conversation, we took the plunge and adopted another beautiful German Shepherd Puppy.
This is Athena.
She is 11 weeks old, loves to test my patience by chewing on everything in sight, eating pill bugs (rolly-polly, potato bugs) by the dozens, munching on bark mulch faster than I can get it out of her mouth, biting my toes, spilling her water bowl each time I fill it. And we won’t mention bedtime or crate training…
She is also absolutely adorable. And while I have moments of absolute terror at what we’ve done, hours of depression brought on by too much thinking, I already love her deeply. She makes me laugh with her silly prancing, her determination to get her own way, and the sweet kisses she offers me each day.
She already knows her name, how to sit. We are working on *leave it* (silly bark mulch), and will get to *stay* next week.
I know I shouldn’t let her on the bed, but I’m gonna anyway.
As you might expect, taking care of her requites almost all my time and effort. She has so much to learn, and everything is new to her. My writing has been put on hold, along with almost everything else. That will change as the weeks roll by, and soon enough our routines will be established, and she will not demand as much attention. But for now, I will be mostly absent from Social Media. That will likely be great news to some of you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve a puppy to smother with affections.