Here is the 17th street band playing at the Grand Junction independence film festival, right before they had an outdoor movie. Nancy Rizzo who lives on 17th street and is a wonderful photographer took this picture. Things have really picked up for the band this month. We are having a great time playing around town. We got to play at the botanic garden outdoor theatre, live on KAFM, at a wedding in Ridgeway and at a black box theater after a play. Someone paid $500 as a pledge to the community radio station (KAFM) for us to play a gig for them. We are trying to get some good recordings of our songs so I can post them.

Here's Hank eating a tomato on the back porch.

Wyatt is having such a great time at preschool. One day I picked him up and he was wearing these "jet packs". He was flying all around and shooting out of the one on his arm. I love to see him using his imagination. I really like this preschool.

Wyatt tells us endless stories about his imaginary friend named Wyatt (it can get confusing) like, his friend Wyatt has 5 cats with braces, a car seat with jet packs, he just had a baby named Hank, he works in a cheese factory, he has 100 kids named Wyatt that died and just came back to life. His friend Wyatt also has a car that turns into a helicopter, he was recently baptized Mormon and before that he drank coffee. Once he said we couldn't go to the gym because his friend Wyatt was still sleeping. I suggested we call a babysitter (confirming how imaginary this friend was) and he laughed and said, "mom, he's not real".

Notice all the tomatoes behind him. I'm planting even less tomatoes next year.

Here is the garden overtaken by tomatoes. Yet another season of an overgrown but very productive garden.

This is our first season of grapes. Our vine is a couple years old. They are seedless concord grapes.

Our eggplant has been wonderful. I just love eggplant.

I love all my flowers. It's great having arrangements like this around the house all the time.

We got to pick a few boxes of free peaches from a friend of a friends orchard. We canned and froze them and constantly ate them but a few still wen to waste.

This subject has been on my mind for a while now. I normally don’t write about issues, but maybe that’s starting to change. Anyway, politics. I came into politics when I met Willie. He got me excited about it and I found an attractive intensity in him that reminded me of Marius Pon Merci from Les Miserables. I do remember when I was a kid I was a little confused between church leaders and Republican presidents. Once I even called Ducakis “Dukaka” to defend the Republican party of my family and my church. What I didn’t know about politics was a lot.

I still don’t confess to be any kind of expert but my personality and heart is interested less in big businesses and trickle down economics and more in caring for our poor, improving education, health care, the environment, etc. So you Republicans reading this are already thinking, What? Not Sally. As my dad says, “I don’t know what we did to have all four of our kids become liberals.” I like to remind any Mormon readers jumping to horrible stereotypes to remember President Foust was a Democrat and active member of the ACLU. Plus our church is politically neutral.

Today at Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart haters can gasp here), after a long shopping trip with a lame cart, I got out to the parking lot ready to unload and Hank’s foot was caught in a slot of the shopping cart. This happened last time and I just gave a firm push and it came out. Not today. He either got fatter in a week or my angle was all wrong but his ankle started to swell. There was no way I was going to get it out. Hank was screaming and I was about to try to find help when an older couple stopped by to see if they could help. Then another couple (both sets grandparents) then two men and finally about three Wal-Mart employees. I could not believe how many people stopped to help. Someone was holding up a sun shade to keep Hank out of the sun. Another man fetched some ice water from his car to fill my water bottle for Hank to suck on. Another man, a mechanic, drove down the street to his auto shop in search of bolt cutters. Another man was holding one of Hank’s hands while the mechanic started to cut the cart bars. By this point Hank was loving all the attention and forgot that he was stuck. The mechanic told the Wal-Mart employee, “sorry for cutting your cart.” The employee said, “I’d rather a broken cart then a hurt baby.” So they cut the bar and bent it back and I got Hank out.

How dose this relate to politics? I know we probably all had different political views. I was a textbook Democrat: a Subaru, a BPA-free camelback water bottle, and a cart full of canvas shopping bags. The only thing missing was an Obama sticker on the car and a bag of arugula. A little emergency like this brought us together no problem. I loved the people helping. I’d help them in an instant. I saw their good side. One guy even said this little one (Hank) had guardian angels.

So this situation brought a group of people together, old and young, Wal-Mart shoppers, people from Grand Junction, Americans. On the other hand politics would drive us apart. I would be an elitist (though a frugal one); I could probably find one of them to be freaky patriotic, racist or crazy into guns. The stereotypes and the passion behind politics is so dividing. I have two neighbors who have had family divisions happen because of the recent election. I get email forwards that are dripping with hate and usually in crazy fonts. I hear people talk about candidates like they aren’t real people. The whole thing can get depressing.

That doesn’t mean I throw up my hands. It doesn’t mean I don’t want someone as educated and capable and even-tempered like Obama to be my president. I just wish there was a way for our country to come together and to leave the anger and hate behind. Any ideas? I think a starting place is not to play into the negativity. For instance, don’t personally talk down candidates. Would you talk to them face to face like that? Have educated, non-emotional conversations about real political issues. If you are getting enraged, try to figure out what’s hitting a nerve. Wake up to the fact that neither party will ever have all the answers. All this is coming out right as Willie and I prepare to watch the presidential debate tonight. Maybe we’ll watch the debate and skip the commentary. (Except for The Daily Show.)

I love September. Later down the road, when I take up writing again, I’ll have a collection of memoirs called September. It’s a time of celebration and harvest in our family.

I was born in September so I have all kinds of memories about birthday parties and anticipation of gifts, extra spending money, etc. I remember one birthday we had a campout at the rock canyon campground. We all stayed up late talking and we woke up to someone playing bagpipes in our campsite.

Willie and I got married in September. This month we’ll celebrate our 8th anniversary. We spent our honeymoon up by Yellowstone and then several great anniversaries at Strawberry hot springs (video here). So the mating call of the Elk, the turning leaves and the cool weather will always remind me of us. Our first kiss wasn’t in September, maybe October, but I can remember it well. Willie was wearing a brown corduroy shirt and jeans. We kissed once in the living room of his apartment then he walked me out to my car and we kissed again. The night was cold, we could probably see our breath and I had butterflies. It was magical. I am one lucky woman to be married to this man.

My two children were born in September. I can’t tell you how sweet they are. They bring so much joy to Willie and me. Wyatt will turn 4 this month and Hank will be one.

I remember when I was on bed rest at the hospital in Boulder; I could get out of bed for one wheelchair ride a day. Willie would take me outside by a fountain with flowers around it. I remember feeling fall in the air, admiring the few blanket flowers still hanging in there. After Wyatt was born and still in the hospital I remember pumping during the night and hearing coyotes yipping outside. Willie and I would walk along the train tracks and creek path by the hospital enjoying the colorful foliage.

Last year when I was pregnant with Hank we came into so much produce. Someone gave us a box of grapes and peaches and apples. I remember staying up late working on canning so exhausted and hot and HUGE but feeling satisfied when I made good use of the local harvest. I remember the night before Hank was born, my contractions started suddenly, I took a shower (where my water conveniently broke) and we changed the sheets for my neighbor to come stay with Wyatt. We left a little before midnight and I remember it being a beautiful night, so quiet outside and peaceful as we drove to the hospital. We got green lights and tree lined streets the whole way. It wasn’t far, maybe two or three contractions away. Hank was born about 2 hrs later.

If you are still reading this lengthy tribute to September, you must love it too or you’re totally bored at work.

At the age of 95, my Grandma, Alda Strebel, died last night. As long as I can remember she has been eager to die. Not in a grim way, but in a spiritual, happy way. She lost her husband when I was maybe 3 and never remarried. She always talked about wanting to be with him again. She had a strong faith that life continues on after death, that they would be together and it would be a joyous occasion. Her quality of life had been very poor the last couple of years. She could no longer care for herself and was in a care facility. She could not hear. She was not always coherent and slept most of the day. Over Christmas I went to visit her and just bawled. She asked why I was crying and I told her it was hard for me to see her like that.

I picture her now like the picture below when she was young. She had a lame leg since she was young and I imagine her dancing around now, amazed that she has full use of her body. I've always thought ahead to her death as a happy time. But I find myself tearing up now, with a red nose, because I wish I could have done more to love and care for her. I wish I knew her better so I could help my children know her. I wish I was by her side when she died. When Willie's grandpa died last month, I decided to print out my blog every week and send it to her but didn't and now it's too late. I'm assuming she can read my blog from the other side (an Internet cafe in paradise seems like a must). I hope she knows I love her.

I did not get to spend as much time with Grandma Strebel as my other grandparents but I still have many memories of her. She used to let us put the fizzy denture cleaner in a glass with her dentures at night. I can see Wyatt really liking something like that. She's give us back rubs with lotion and while she was giving a sibling a back rub another sibling would play tick tac toe in the lotion with her. I remember visiting her when I was in college and bringing boyfriends by for her approval. She could really jam on the piano. She'd play these old fashion peppy songs and sing along sometimes. I'm sure I danced around to it. She had a great sense of humor. Like after I had Wyatt, she said I finally looked like a woman with all my curves (not so subtle code for chub).

A great memory I have is of a "hike" I took her on in Eldorado canyon outside of boulder. It was Travis's wedding and i saw that they had a wheelchair accessible trail. So I brought her up there so she could experience something that really made me happy. She mentioned it for years after as something she loved. It was really bonding for us.

Now that I don't have any of my own grandparents on earth, I can't help but think about my children's grandparents. I really want them to spend time with them and know and love them. Grandparents can be so magical. I think it takes effort on both sides and sometime sacrifice of time and money but it's so worth it. My grandparents have shaped my life. They were a strong source of spiritual strength for me.
Goodbye Grandma Strebel, you finally get to be with Grandpa Strebel and be free of your physical ailments and your loneliness. Thanks for being a mother to my mom and a grandmother to me. I love you.

Yesterday we took a day trip to Telluride, Co. It's about 2 hrs from Grand Junction. I'm glad Willie urged me to do it. I don't like long car trips with the boys. Hank can really cry sometimes. It's also hard not having a home base to take naps and rest. So yes, I'm a bit of a party pooper sometimes but I'm really glad we went to Telluride. It was so beautiful and interesting. These pictures don't do it justice. The mountains are magnificent. The town is so good looking. Every house was right out of cottage living. The shops were interesting and very expensive. There was a film festival going on so there was a very urban feel with all the people around with flowy scarves and expensive jeans. It was great. the town reminded me a little of marblehead, Ma and it smelled like London, maybe a lot of cigarette smoke. The boys did great. Wyatt was excited and happy the whole time.

I mostly enjoyed the great cool weather and the wonderful scenery and just hanging with the family.

This is at the top of the mountain that the gondola goes over. It was so windy. They had a nature center where we got to touch pelts of wild animals and talk with a great ranger. The elevation is 10,500 feet.

Wyatt loved the gondola and also liked practicing funny faces with the camera.

Hank loves being in the stroller. he just looks around and enjoys the ride.

Wyatt is the cutest little otudoorsman. He kept asking when we were going to hike as soon as we were about 20 miles out of town.

Here's the main street will all kinds of interesting shops and restaurants. Look at the huge mountain right in the background.

Wyatt started preschool today. It was different for me to switch up our schedule. I missed him and just hanging out with Hank is very quiet compared to Wyatt's constant chatting. He had a great time with the kids at school. I signed him up for a Montessori program not far from our house. I think it will be great for him. he was really missed by the kids and nursery attendants at the gym. Everyone loves Wyatt.

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