I was pleased to be invited to Visions of History’s Ladies Victorian Tea at The Grand America last month.
I was fully prepared for the social and genteel demands of this occasion. With my delicately-netted gloves, stiff taffeta skirt, puffed sleeves, and equally-puffed hair impeccably placed, I gracefully nibbled scones topped with clotted cream and lemon curd, macaroons, and cucumber sandwiches. I sipped tea with a perfectly-popped pinky while carrying on stylish conversations with my companions. Indeed, the tearoom was titivated by my refined presence.
My outfit was appropriately ruffled, puffed, and laced.
The Grand America provided the perfect setting for our elegant affair.
Not convinced of my overpowering poise? Okay, perhaps my charm was not quite sufficient for the fanciness of the affair. I spilled tea on my dress and had to hunch awkwardly a bit to keep from dribbling anything else. With that said, I had a splendid time chatting with my fellow history aficionados and we were the highlight of the memorable atmosphere for many of the ladies and little girls taking tea; we received a number of picture requests from these females.
It was a delightful afternoon spent in the company of fashionable foods, bygone vogues, and cultured companions.
Today, I am graciously giving you males out there some life-altering information and advice. Prepare for your world to be rocked.
My man is hot in a cravat!
Men, to 80% of the women you encounter you will never be hotter than when outfitted in Regency attire, like a Jane Austen character. Why do I feel compelled to give such random priceless wisdom? Well, frankly because you boys are a little dense.
I was tasked with creating flower arrangements for the ball again this year.
Jason and I were among the dance demonstrators at the ball.
Jason and I recently went to the Regency Romance Ball in Salt Lake City again. At this affair, attendees are carried back to the time of Jane Austen by elegant surroundings, tasteful food, period attire, and vintage dancing.
Every year I debate whether to make another outfit for the ball, I only have three after all.
This year, the ball sold out with around 300 attendees. As popular as it was, not everyone that wanted to go was able. You see, I’ve been privy to a lot of female protests over the years regarding the difficulties of securing male companions for this event. And, thus, the importance of my message emerges.
Obviously, a lot of men are wise and I’m sure they reap the rewards of their wisdom.
Jason is clever; he’s never once complained about wearing clothes that look supremely fine on him.
For I can only assume that if you blokes, being self-serving creatures, knew that attending such affairs would not only earn you an uncalculatable amount of brownie points but also elevate you from modern dud to Regency stud that you’d be all too eager to go. Therefore, I must conclude that you are grossly unaware of the facts… or were until a moment ago.
The food at the ball is elegant and tasty, another reason for you men to cease your objecting.
Men, you don’t need to understand Mr. Darcy’s appeal to benefit from it so I hope to see more of you at next year’s ball proudly pirouetting about in waistcoats and cravats while your ladies ogle you. Don’t say I never gave you nothing.
Can’t go on one more day without knowing how Jason and I fared in our 2016 races? I figured as much and thus I am willingly sharing these completely mediocre finish times with the world. You’re welcome.
Tulip Festival Half Marathon
Race Specs: This is the hardest half marathon in Utah. It’s not downhill like most. It’s a rollercoaster and, as with any notable coaster, vomit’s a standard.
Race Stats: I finished in two hours and 26 minutes. Overall, a much better run for me than my last tiptoe through the tulips. I didn’t break any land speed records but I kept a steady pace and met my time goal of less than two and a half hours. Further, I only walked up three or four of the steepest hills, which was quite an accomplishment considering the bountiful bumps on this course. Jason finished under two hours, which was his aim. He crossed the line at one hour and 53 minutes. Jason’s dad, Keith, also ran this race. We were proud of him for taking on the Hungarian Horntail of half marathons on his first half attempt and slaying it.
My parents walked the Tulip Festival 5K so we had a hefty cheering section at the finish line. Thanks Ben Norell for the great pict!
Race Repercussions: Following the race, my knees hurt dreadfully the rest of the day. It was embarrassingly difficult to go up and down stairs. By the next day, the aches had retreated to mostly just my thighs but stairs were still painful. However, my discomfort was lessened by Jason’s awkward shambles. That boy really struggled with his knees both the day of the race and the day after… and probably some days after that. Within 24 hours, his calves and thighs also limped onto that bandwagon. Yup, he ran like a little boy during the race and then hobbled like an old man for days.
Lehi Roundup 10K
Race Specs: This race isn’t exotic but it is generally well planned and has become a tradition of ours over the years.
I’m not a competitive person, my only rival is myself, but I still appreciate the exhilaration of a starting line.
Remember that whole fight or flight evolutionary thing? Well, Jason is very flighty.
Race Stats: Jason won first place in his age group with 46:44. I finished at exactly 1H:3M:26S, coming in seventh in my age group. While this is nothing to be proud of, it isn’t too awful considering that typically about half the participants in any given race inevitably end up being women in my age group.
Fairy Tale Fun Run
Race Specs: Although not a timed event, this is, as its name suggests, a fun run. The course winds through Thanksgiving Point’s gardens where mermaids, pirates, princesses, and bad wolves await. I’d highly recommend this race if you’d like to get some little ones interested in exercise or just want to take your family on a running stroll through enchanted greens.
This fairy didn’t get the dust memo.
Jason galloped through the Fairy Tale Run wearing that unicorn head even though he couldn’t see where he was going and the plastic fumes choked his brain.
Race Stats: None, unless you want the speed at which Jason killed off brain cells inside his unicorn mask.
Fallen Officers Memorial Run 5K
Race Specs: This race’s purpose is to raise funds and promote caring for the families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. It has a superhero theme and participants are encouraged to dress up. This year, Jason’s uncle was among the officers being honored so we felt particularly compelled to support the event.
Jason donned uncomfortable headgear again for the Fallen Officers Memorial Run for which he cut his nose and got his picture in the paper. Photo courtesy of Laura Seitz.
Race Stats: We were joined at this race by a small gang of family members. Jason, Jeremy, and Keith all placed first in their age groups. I came in 3rd in mine. Jason finished in 24 minutes exactly and Jeremy came in seconds behind him. It took me 29 minutes and 20 seconds to drag my cape to the line. How did we fit in the grand sprint? Jason came in 10th overall out of 267 participants and I came in 42nd.
Night of the Running Dead 5K
Race Specs: The Night of the Running Dead is an undying favorite of ours. It has changed management, style, and locations over the years. This time it crept over a dark route that went along parts of the Porter Rockwell Trail and unused portions of Highland Drive. Glow sticks placed here and there gave the only meager indication of the course direction. With leaves crunching unseen under our feet and a shrinking moon eyeing us behind a sharp breeze, the night felt deliciously fall. It was a far howl from previous, more theatrical, versions of this race where the undead danced about and the apocalypse was broadcasted. We’ve found all renditions terribly satisfying.
I used the strip of light from the timeclock to transform Jason into a brain biter.
Race Stats: Jason placed 2nd out of all the men. Good work Jason! His time of 26 minutes and 58 seconds was more sluggish than normal but the darkness and hills slowed everyone down. I placed 5th in my age group with a 9:56 mile average, not amazing but not too bad considering my putrid physique.
Yes, your life can go on now that you know Jason is still fast and continues to place often while I am still committed to maintaining my streak of mediocrity.
Do you live you in Utah? (If no, proceed to paragraph two.) Do you love movies? (If no, proceed to paragraph two.) Can you successfully sit for a couple hours? (If no, reflect on your unusual inability and its possible causes for a moment and then proceed to paragraph two.) If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, why don’t you go to the Sundance Film Festival? The Sundance Film Festival, unlike polygamy, is an actual perk of living in Utah so why not enjoy it?
Jason and I have been attending Sundance for many years now. Through it we have seen both obscure indies that have never been heard from again and shows that have gone on to earn Academy Award nominations. This year we saw five films, which is our typical Sundance load. They ranged from science nonfiction to science fiction but were all worthy of a watch.
Whatever your political position, you can’t deny that Al Gore is a remarkable speaker. We were thrilled to hear from him in person.
Our first festival film was Plastic China. Plastic China is a documentary that focuses on one family in a little Chinese village where thousands of small recyclers barely get by through melting down the world’s wastes. We thought it a poignant commentary on both the costs of global consumerism and the social norms in China. We attained some interesting insights from the film’s director and producers following the show.
This gang of scientists and crew members led a fascinating Q&A after Chasing Coral.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power was our second show. Yes, as the name suggests, it is a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth and has a similar theme. We quite enjoyed this cinematic call to action. As a bonus, Al Gore himself did a Q&A at the end of our screening; it was cool to hear from him personally. I have a policy against waxing political in public places so, without deviating much from that dogma, allow me to bring up one discussion point that’s been bothering me for some time: Why is there resistance in parts of the political arena to the possibility of global warming? If there is even a small chance that global warming is happening, why not embrace changes to counteract it? For if it isn’t happening and we act as if it is, what is the consequence? Cleaner air. Hmmm… cleaner air sounds okay to me. However, if we act as if it is not happening and it is, what is the consequence? A whole lot of catastrophic and horrible things… oh and, in the end, we run out of fossil fuels anyway. So why would any politician deny the possibility of global warming? Sadly, the answer is obvious. You fight against the notion of climate change if oil companies and other fossil fuel industries fund your career. And that is why I never trust politicians that proclaim global warming is irrelevant or a hoax; they either lack simple reasoning skills or they are looking out for their own best interests instead of those of the people they allegedly represent.
Danny Strong, the director and writer of Rebel in the Rye, was happy to interact with fans after his screening.
Chasing Coral was the third show we saw and our favorite film this year. It won the Audience Award in the U.S. Documentary category so we weren’t the only ones captivated by this vibrant movie. It provides a bittersweet look at the mysterious underwater forests of coral that have been dying at an unprecedented rate in recent years. (Spoiler alert: it’s global warming that’s killing them.) Chasing Coral is both a beautifully wondrous and incredibly distressing show.
Marjorie Prime, our fourth movie, won the Sloan Feature Film Prize, an award given to outstanding pictures with a science or technology focus. It offers a thought-provoking, and somewhat depressing, look at the science and science fiction of memory.
Along with fantastic films, part of the appeal of the Sundance Film Festival is hanging with friends.
The last screening we went to was for Rebel in the Rye, an excellent way to finish up the festival. This well-done film is about J.D. Salinger, the cloistered author of Catcher in the Rye. Jason and I both appreciated its themes about the process and price of creation.
The Sundance Film Festival supplied ample company, commentaries, and curiosities of thought this year. Good thing this event is for real, unlike Utahans extra wives.
Jason and I are more about accumulating experiences than accumulating things (with the exception of my LEGO Minifigures collection of course). Therefore, one of the primary gifts I gave him for Christmas this year was a break from winter’s crankiness via a long weekend in Phoenix.
Although not too opulent by today’s standards, the Wrigley Mansion was interesting.
Our first night in Phoenix we visited the Wrigley Mansion, the house that gum built. No, the bricks were not held together by Big Red but one room was completely lined with foil from the factory.
Saguaros are a classic emblem of the American Southwest.
The next day, we hiked to the top of Camelback Mountain via the Cholla Trail. This path gains 1,253 feet in only 1.4 miles. In combination with some rocky sections where scrambling is necessary, that steepness has earned Cholla a double black diamond rating. But that grade doesn’t adequately elucidate what we saw up there that day. I’ve never come across so many timid hikers (or so many pairs of yoga pants) in my life. As a Utahan, I was shocked by the number of trekkers that were seemingly puzzled by the concept of putting one foot in front of the other or clinging to rocks like they were dangling on the edge of the Great Pit of Carkoon. Were these natives or were they tourists? And how did they not know how to walk up a hill? Double black diamond or not, this trail seemed pretty standard to us but the people we encountered on it didn’t.
Camelback’s spine twisted like a stony serpent.
We spent that evening wandering around the Desert Botanical Garden. Its display of 23,000 cacti, succulents, and other desert flora was both informative and picturesque. Desert plants have always fascinated me, perhaps because I can relate to their inventive stubbornness.
The Cholla Trail was a little intense but not intense enough to account for the petrified and confused hikers we encountered.
Our last day in Phoenix, I requested more time out in the mid-sixties sunshine, something essential I’d be missing in Utah for a while. So, we headed to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and trekked around the Bajada Nature Trail, Saguaro Trail, and Saguaro Loop Trail. We walked about a mile and a half while looking at educational signs and examining native spikers. It wasn’t exactly exercise but it was peaceful and pleasant.
Phoenix’s mountains are sporadically spaced- a peak here, a peak there- with urban sprawl spanning the gaps in between.
Strolling through the Desert Botanical Garden was Jason’s favorite part of our whole trip.
Next, we stopped at Butterfly Wonderland, the largest butterfly conservatory in America. There, 3,000 butterflies and moths, some of them startlingly enormous, flitted around us like graceful and animated bobbins weaving a lofty tapestry. Pretty awesome!
Bristly saguaros silhouetted by a technicolored sky make for a mighty memorable sunset.
We finished off the day at the Musical Instrument Museum. At that institution, we saw everything from Johnny Cash’s guitar to the first Steinway piano. Also awesome? Yes!
At Butterfly Wonderland, thousands of butterflies and moths fly freely around you.
With so many winged creatures fluttering about, it was difficult to decide which way to flutter ourselves.
On a side note, during this trip we stayed at a resort out in the desert. It was both inconveniently located and beautifully situated. Nature seemed barely held back by its bits of development. Bunnies and birds bobbed about each morning and at dusk coyotes howled twilight serenades.
The Atlas moth is the biggest moth in the world. It’s bigger than many birds and Jason’s hands.
On a far side note, one night we tried to start a fire in our casita’s fireplace with wood provided by the resort, strange desert wood. It refused to light but then, three hours later at 1:30 AM, it set itself ablaze suddenly. Waking up to flames is not a comfortable experience.
Saguaro cacti only grow in the Sonoran Desert but they do so with zest, living hundreds of years.
We flew to Phoenix less than a week after our return from Yellowstone so we underwent a 100-degree temperature variation within a few days. Warmth was the point of Phoenix but I wasn’t sure what else we could fill a few days there with. Now I know, we could have filled a few more easily. Merry Christmas my love!