Thursday, July 31, 2008


It is said that originally, Chinese doctors were paid when the patient stayed well, not when he got sick. Which makes good sense to me.

Anyway. There is much to be said for Chinese medicine, acupuncture in particular. According to them, when our "chi" becomes unbalanced, we get sick, or experience pain. This can be visualized as rivers of energy (there are 2,000 acupuncture points on the body) that have become dammed up by the debris of stress, etc. Once this stuck debris is freed, the river becomes clear and moves easily through its channel. The pain decreases, or stops.

Acupuncture helps relax muscles and promotes blood circulation to areas where you feel pain, or tension and stress. It appears to work by stimulating the release of natural opiates in the body. My last visit, I walked through doors that said "Shanghai" and "Beijing." I counted 22 needles as they were put into my back--no pain, just a sort of mild pinch. When the needles are in place, the doctor brings out 2 electro-magnetic heat lamps that warm the area up nicely as they release 33 essential minerals which are vital to our cells and tissues. You lay there surrounded by pillows, Chinese flute music or the sound of bubbling brooks, ocean waves, etc, and you feel absolutely wonderful. This lasts for about 45 minutes. Then you are given a warming vial of Chinese magic oil (Wong To Yick Woodlock) to rub on the affected spot 3 or 4 times a day.

They say it's been used for 4,000 years, and they haven't lost a patient yet--at least none they could blame acupuncture as the cause of injury or death. My doctor, Doctor Ding Hai, is a graduate of Shanghai University of Chinese Medicine. His office (one of two--he has another office in Park City, where many of the biggest film stars have homes, where the Sundance Film Festival is held every year, an artsy little place full of art galleries and skiers) in Salt Lake is modest, tucked behind a small cafe called The Eggery. There is a large painting on one wall of a Chinese landscape, various pieces of Chinese sculpture, one with water flowing from Chinese mountains into Chinese valleys. There is also a small TV with a handwritten sign inviting you to watch a small collection of Chinese-American videos. The English is dubbed. One morning when I was there two children watched a western in which every other word was a swear-word. I don't think Dr Ding is aware that his videos sport all this profanity. %&!**$@&*!

Anyway. They didn't seem to notice it, and I was too blissed-out to care. I heartily recommend it! I'm going back in one month, and then seasonally for a "tune-up."

If you do this, make sure that your doctor is National Board Certified, is Licensed by your state to practice acupuncture, and uses disposable needles only.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Our Simon

Simon went to try out his bike on the sidewalks at his new "imaginary" house--one they should break ground on next week. Can you tell the sidewalk worked great for this boy and his bike?

Summer Camping

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Starfish and Bookworm lookin' good in the Big Woods.

Photo by Shok

After A Summer Rain

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Mist rising after a summer rainstorm, and K and I in a golden summer light....

Photos by Chris

Quote of the Day

"There are two ways to live: One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is a miracle."

--Albert Einstein


Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Work in Progress

NOTE: This is a quick view of Salt Lake City, currently a work in progress. Many of the downtown streets and buildings are blocked off in the process of becoming, therefore there are gaping holes and barricades and walls enclosing brigades of pile drivers and earth movers and cranes everywhere. I have used some pictures from the internet to show off our city. If you see your picture here and would like me to remove it from this slideshow, please tell me and I will remove it hastily. If not, then thanks to you all for sharing!

This Is The Place Monument is found at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, the spot where, after a long trek of more than a thousand miles, Brigham Young is said to have risen from his sickbed in one of the wagons, and, gazing off into the valley below, and having seen it before in a vision, uttered these words: This is the place. The first party rolled into the valley on this day in 1847, and included 143 men, 3 women, 2 boys, 72 wagons, 93 horses, 66 oxen, 52 mules, 19 cows, 17 dogs, and some chickens. The rest of the wagon train, 70,000 more tired people and worn wagons came a while later. It's said they didn't have a parade celebrating this event until two years later, because nobody wanted to walk. Heh.

They planted their first crops, and hoards of crickets descended upon them, devouring all they could. Those tired folks, after beating them off with their shovels and rakes into burning piles, thinking all was lost, dropped to their knees in prayer. When great dark clouds of seagulls came swooping in, they thought it was more clouds of crickets and despaired, but behold, those seagulls came in like gangbusters, ate crickets until they were stuffed, went off like the old Romans did after great feasting, to their vomitariums, spit them up, and went back time and again for more, and SAVED THE CROPS! Hence, the seagull is the Utah State Bird. We love seagulls, and have made a monument to them. This story is known in Utah as THE MIRACLE OF THE GULLS.

The Salt Lake Temple took them 40 years to build. They had built a couple of others earlier, in Ohio and Illinois, that were burned, or otherwise destroyed. They went up into the mountains (which are mostly solid granite) and quarried out the stones, and hauled them down into the valley. There are several other temples around the valley now. Worldwide, there are something like 112 temples altogether.

The Christus statue by Bertel Thorvaldsen is in the North Visitor's Center on Temple Square. It's placed before a painted backdrop of clouds, and stars and planets and galaxies of the cosmos. My daughter-in-law Grace, her mother, and Simon and Jacob in the picture give an idea of scale.

The Salt Palace was famous in its day. The first one was actually made of salt. They soaked the timbers, the chandelier wires, etc. in the Great Salt Lake until they were all covered with shiny thick salt crystals. That would've been something to see! They have conventions and things in the new (not made of salt) Palace. And the Utah Jazz plays next door in the New Solutions Arena. Go, Jazz! We also have a professional baseball team (the Bees) and a pro soccer team (the Reals--as in re-als).

The Gateway is a beautiful downtown outdoor Mall, which has shops, food courts, the Hansen Planetariam, fountains, flowers...a fun place to go. ZCMI Mall (one of the places being reconstructed)is also downtown. Southtown Mall is...well, south, and Fashion Place midtown. Valley Fair is west. Jordan Commons and Jordan Landing are two newer ones. All of them are full of people going to see The Dark Knight, or buy ice cream, or new shoes.

There is Lagoon, a fun park to the north, with roller coasters--a new one called WICKED, and lots of other stuff, water tubes, pools etc. I think one of the last times I was at Lagoon there were goats and a few sheep grazing under the roller coaster. That's how long it's been. Hogle Zoo is up toward the east mountains. There are Museums of Art and of Natural History, a huge genealogical library, and, of course, the University of Utah, my Alma Mater.

The Capitol Theater is home to the Utah Opera and Ballet West. Maurice Abravanel Hall houses the Utah Symphony. Trax will get you near to most places you want to go in the city, and the new Front Runner will take you up north to Odgen, and eventually down to Provo. There are four canyons nearby in the Wasatch for summer picnics and outings, and winter skiing and snowboarding. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Adore This Video

If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years.

--Bertrand Russell

Have a happy dancing day! (Click to view!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

...if you lived in Utah....

The time is 5:40 p.m., the temperature is 92 degrees, but cloudy. Tonight (as last night) there will be lightning storms, lots of thunder, but little rain. July in Utah is a time of picnics and parades and fireworks, rodeos, pageants...if you lived in Utah you'd get the day off work on the 24th. You could drive up into one of the canyons, take your fried chicken and potato salad and watermelon (cold from resting in a safe part of the creek full of snow melt) along for lunch, and cool off beside one of the lakes--Silver Lake, Mary's Lake, Bear Lake only a few of them. You could come back down in the evening for a backyard barbeque and fireworks.

The parades began on the Fourth, of course. There is always a Horse parade, where proud equestrians show off their washed and combed Appaloosa's and Arabian's, and Palamino's.... The Children's Parade is the day before the BIG Parade on the 24th, celebrating the day when the pioneers made it into the valley in 1847. Children dress up like pioneers in bonnets and cowboy hats, or as Indians, in feathers and face-paint. They pull their decorated wagons and ride their decorated bikes, and "end up sweaty and dragging their feet at Liberty Park for popsicles and cold drinks.

The Days of '47 Parade is a big one, with bands and police brigades on motorcycles and floats and fire trucks and clowns throwing out candy to the crowds, and Princesses of Whatever, and balloons--third largest parade in the nation, I think, second only to the Rose Parade and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Most of the month of July the churches dedicate their services to pioneer songs and stories of venerated ancestors. There are church-sponsored camp-outs, with dutch-oven cook-offs, campfire songs, weiner and marshmallow roasts, Father and Sons overnighters, girls camps, where everybody comes home smelling of woodsmoke and pine.

July is a busy month in Utah. Even the mailman gets the extra day-off.

If you had gone to church with me the last couple of Sundays and sat beside me, you'd have seen the old bishop's boy make a cootie-catcher out of the paper program and annoy his older brother with it. You'd have heard the new bishop's mentally handicapped son (no longer a boy, but a man in his thirties) bless the sacramental bread--no small triumph for him. He is well-loved in the ward, loves to tell jokes. Our ward is quite cosmopolitan. On the other side of me from where you are sitting, sits my Filipina daughter-in-law and my two grandsons. The little one notices the scar under the sleeve on my right shoulder, and asks what that is. That's where the crocodile bit me, I tell him. It's the scar left from my melanoma surgery years ago, but that's too long a story. They entertain themselves with paper and crayons.See, this is you, grandma. And this is me, and this is Grandpa and Simon. This is our house. A few benches up sits Lily with her family. Lily is from Brazil, and I love to look at her because she looks almost exactly like our own Poet Mom, January. Sometimes I imagine she IS January. It makes me smile. Our old bishop and his family sit in the same row. His wife, Bi'shya, is from Taiwan. The speaker talks about emergency preparedness. He talks about earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis and tomatoes. He tells us about the head of one of the big corporations who made his employees practice fire drills even tho' they hated him for it and considered the drills a waste of time. He tells how, on the morning of 9-11, most of the people who died in the buildings were frozen at their desks, not knowing what to do. The folks (like 1,700 of them) who had practiced knew what to do, and only 13 of them were lost. The CEO went back into the building to look for the last them, and they found his body on the 9th floor. It was a good talk, interesting, and inspired me to find out where to turn my gas off if there should be an earthquake. Six young women sing, unaccompanied. The song sounds more like an Anonymous Four song from the Middle Ages than a pioneer hymn. It is lovely. The second speaker talks about obedience. Then we all sing "They, the Builders of the Nation."

They, the builders of the nation, Blazing trails along the way,
Stepping stones for generations were their deeds of every day.
Building new and firm foundations, Pushing on the wild frontier,
Forging onward, ever onward, Blessed honored pioneer!

UPDATE: July 24th--9:30 p.m. The parades are history. All the bronco's have been busted and the hogs tied. Fireworks are exploding all over the Valley. Mylie Cyrus, the Blue Man Group, and Glenn Beck are doing their stuff tonight in Provo, Kellie Pickler is at the Sandy Ampitheater (Sawyer Brown was there night before last), and the Osmonds (of course) will be joining the Mormon Tabernacle Choir tomorrow night in Temple Square...The Gallivan Center last night celebrated with an International Culture Fest featuring booths with Mexican, Greek, Asian and other cuisine showing off Utah's ethnic diversity. Am I going to any of these? No. I am staying home where it is cool and eat watermelon and watch TV.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Flaws in the Diamond

You can lie at a banquet, but you have to
be honest in the kitchen.

--William Stafford, "The Sparkle Depends on Flaws in the Diamond."

Kay Ryan

The Library of Congress announced Thursday the name of the new US Poet Laureate for 2008-2009: Congratulations Kay Ryan!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Holiness as rainwater, as roses

All Mormon temples have the inscription "Holiness To The Lord" somewhere on their exterior. This phrase is an allusion to Zechariah 14:20-21. "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS TO THE LORD....Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts."

I thought of Wendy, who is quiet about a lot of things, writing a post about finding God in her barn, in the manure pile, in laughter, and I was reminded of this poem by the mystical poet Rumi, the Persian, the Sufi, also known as Mohammed Jalaluddin Rumi:

God's joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flowerbeds.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
till one day it cracks them apart.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

No Bad Apples

For the last four months I have been limping around like the witch in Snow White. All I needed was a basket of poison apples. Day before yesterday, at the insistence of my sweet daughter-in-law, I went to have a massage. Yes, a m-a-s-s-a-g-e. A first. It was so wonderful, and worked so well to unkink all my jambed muscles and quiet the spasms, that I am going to go again! The lady was so gentle, and kind and concerned, and knowledgeable. She also recommended a doctor of acupuncture (Dr. Ding Hai --which translates into American as Hai Ding, so I'm hoping the law is not after him for impersonating a doctor!) and I have an appointment with him next week. I'm even looking forward to it!

If any of you have experienced acupuncture, I'd be interested to know what you think.... I have been taking so many pain pills that were not working too well anymore, and I have a very good friend (who now has a brand new blog) with a PhD in nutrition, etc., who recommended lots of natural painkillers I am going to try. You can check her out at

SHe also has a new book out that I am going to buy next time we go to lunch.

There are no bad apples here!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Cosmic Fireworks

This is SN 1006 Supernova Remnant, the brightest in recorded human history. It lit up the sky in the year 1006 AD, and it still lights up the skies in a great cosmic light show! HAPPY 4TH OF JULY, y'all! Hurray for the Red, White, and Blue!

Credit: X-ray--NASA/CXC/Rutgers/G,Cassam-Chenai/J. Hughes et al: Radio--NRAO/AUI/NSF/GBT/VLA/Dyer, Maddalena & Cornwell; Optical--Middlebury College/F. Winkler/NOAO/NSF/CTIO Schmidt & DSS