Summer/Fall Obits

As always, the summer and early fall months provided a new crop of obituary notices: some humorous, and some poignant, and one–well, you decide.  Read on:

J.R…. “He enjoyed life, always ready and willing to lend a hand to anyone.  As a child he fell in love with the Incredible Hulk and always had the ability to burst out of his clothes turning into the Hulk leaving his clothes wherever he ripped them off.”

N.S…. “All children, their own plus any neighbors, relatives including friends of friends were all welcome at Smithville with several such gatherings occuring when all the Smiths were out of town.  If the doors were ever actualy locked, it was simply for show, since more keys to the home on ______ St. were carried by pseudo-Smiths than by actual family members.  N. often said the home could expand and contract and sleep 40 as comfortably as it slept one.”

B.E…. “She was our beloved ‘Beppe’ which means Grandma in the Friesian language, but it means so much more.  Beppe was a great cook and we’ll miss her kale and lasagna parties.”

M.L…. “Mom was feisty, sassy, smart and independent.  So Mom, we know you are looking down at us from heaven, dressed to the nines, with your sunglasses on.”

R.S…. “R. completed his circle of life and will be missed by his family…and especially his brother Herk, and sisters Linda, DoDo, Hoss, and Skinny.”

D.H…. “Razor Dave” … “[R]emembered for his sense of humor and antics which earned him his nickname.”

G.D…. “One day while working as a carhop at The Mug, she served one right-frosty Hires root beer to a dapper, handsome, and passionate young man, R.D.  Her eyes recommended his Little Joe image to her heart; to his heart was recommended the strawberry-haired Isolde in his eyes.  Pupils dilated, their souls mingled like mist and dew in a singular breeze on a sunlit, rosy, and meadowed morning.  He became she; she he, and the one-become-two became the two-became-three, the she-he he-she; we!  [Are you following this?]  Inseparable from then on.  They eloped not long after to Elko, NV where they married against all convention and reason [this was 1949], these Blue Denim lovers not about to be deterred by the objections of protocol, family, and God.  They were desperate.  They wrestled like struggling lovers, like saints in love with demons and angles; conceived and bore four pink and feisty sons and one daughter who survive to this day.  Life grew round and full like the ordeal it is…[Later] she and her daughter permed and colored each other’s hair and put on pounds like slap-happy pagans.”  Whew!  The writer of this obituary sounds like a frustrated novelist!  And this is only a 5th of it!  It finishes with a flourish: “Great things happen when a great soul dies.  The earth quakes.  The air sobs.  The sun stands still and pale.  Clouds attack.  And the moon gives up its last sliver of light and grieves.  Man sinks into the heath.  Surely a great soul has passed from the world only to radiate the world’s first and eastern light into our own bursting hearts.  Bones support flesh, but blood runs deep.  Like Mother.”

R.K…. “He had a lifelong love of flying and was an active member of The Ancient and Secret Order of Birdmen.”

D.J…. “Dad will be missed by his family and the many lifelong and now long-haired friends he made during his 50 year career as a barber.”

F.P…. “When asked what he wanted in his obituary, F. said just ‘That he wasn’t feeling well.'”

And finally a really poignant notice (grab the tissue box):

J.K…. “Lived two minutes, long enough to escort his twin sister, J., to this world and then leave to return to the angels.”  [Notice accompanied by a photograph of two baby footprints.]

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm  Comments (1)  

Fruits, Vegetables, Zombies…Zombies?????

Ah, the lure of a farmers’ market.  Once the gardens and fields start producing, you just can’t beat a farmers’ market for fresh, and often unusual, produce.  Utah has wonderful figs, apricots, cherries, and vegetables.  Most of the small towns surrounding us have their own Saturday markets, as does downtown Salt Lake City.  Not to be outdone, Ogden, too, offers a weekly farm market on Historic 25th Street (home of the monthly art stroll).  And like most farm markets, other vendors have joined the farmers in trying to hawk their goods: artisan cheeses, jewelry, handmade soaps, art and photographs, etc. 

Well, this summer a distinctively different vendor joined the Ogden booth merchants with his wares and just in time for Halloween planning: a zombie mask maker.  We found out by opening the August 17th Standard-Examiner  and seeing the following photo peering out at us from the front page, no less:

Front page of Standard-Examiner

Close-up of zombie head and creator.

My first thought was, Holy Cow, this could be scary for young kids in the morning seeing the newspaper and my second thought was echoed in the article about the artist, Russ Adams.  After two Saturdays of complaints by nearby vendors–one selling take-away food–Mr. Adams was politely asked to leave and take his latex zombie masks and shrunken heads with him.  He complied.  His stuff was deemed a bit much for the early morning crowd at the Ogden Farmers’ Market. 

Russ Adams is the owner of Escape Design Studios in Ogden and creates special effects for Hollywood horror films.  No one disputes his creativity and how real his gory handiwork looks, but all these scary faces amidst the market’s pastoral setting was not a good match.

Market officials had approved his request for a license after viewing only one of his masks that was gore- and blood-free.  Officials figured it would be a change of pace from the many jewelry and candle vendors.  When interviewed, Adams shared that his studio in Ogden is filled with replicas of torsos, torture devices, and human heads drenched with blood.   To give legitimacy to his trade, he also offered that he has made life masks for Hollywood stars such as Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie, and Drew Barrymore.  Life masks can then be used to create special effects for filming by fitting them with prosthetics.

I guess the effects were a bit too unsettling for the locals, althought the operator of Uncle B’s Hot Dog Stand didn’t have a problem: “He’s just doing his thing and trying to express himself.”  The folks at the Backcountry BBQ found it unappetizing and claimed his booth drove away business. 

It is reassuring, however, to know that you don’t need torches and pitchforks to drive away flesh-eating zombies; just politely asking them to leave does the trick.


Published in: on October 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm  Comments (1)  

Where Shall We Go For Dinner?

     Dining out choices are quite interesting in Utah.  Unless one travels to downtown Salt Lake City, most of the eateries are either chain restaurants: Cracker Barrel, Outback, Famous Dave’s BBQ, Appleby’s, Chili’s, and so on, or fast food spots: Carl’s, Wendy’s, Sonic, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Taco Time, Arctic Burger, and others of the same ilk.  Out here in the valley you have to look hard for other places to have a meal if you want different.
     There is a Mexican influence here and in the next town over is El Burrito, supposedly–if you believe their electronic signage–that they are a favorite spot for the best Mexican dishes around…but for some reason, they failed to make the recent Best of the Top of Utah newspaper list I shared last week.  I am not a patron; Mexican food gives me heartburn.
     Now, if you want a family-style buffet with that pioneer touch, you can choose the local chain called Chuck-a-Rama.  Apparently, it’s a favorite with the locals as it’s inexpensive and if you have a family with 5 or more kids, a real crowd pleaser!  I’ve been warned to avoid it by my family….
     There is also a local chain of hamburger restaurants in Utah started and run by a Greek family.  Surprisingly, there is a large Greek community in the Salt Lake City area and they carry on their culinary talents here.  Crown Burgers is where meat is a condiment for their burgers.   Pastrami is layered on along with the usual mustard, catsup, relish, and onions.  I’ve had one and vowed that was the last; it’s too meaty and greasy for my taste buds.  It must be an acquired taste.
     Down the street from us is the Limon Café which features Peruvian food.   (Don’t they eat guinea pigs in Peru?)  All kidding aside, even though it’s a modest establishment in a strip mall, apparently the food is great and the chef/owner is award-winning, having captured a national first prize on a TV Food Network cooking show contest.  Admittedly, we haven’t been yet, but it’s on out list, as is a Mongolian eatery further up Antelope Drive.
     I’ve saved the best for last as it was listed more than once in the Best of the Top of Utah list, most notably for the top romantic spot to dine.  I’ll let you decide if you agree with that.  The Prairie Schooner up in Ogden is unique to say the least.   We took my son, Ben, and daughter-in-law, April, when they visited last spring and I wanted to check it out as well.  My other son, Isaac, and his wife, Marj, had also been treated to the experience on a previous visit with family.  It’s definately got a western theme that’s obvious from the parking lot and hits you smack in the face once inside the door when your eyes acclimate to the dark interior.  The photo(provided by Ben from our visit) shows what greets guests.  We marveled at the layer of dust which had accumulated on the animal (doesn’t anyone think to vacuum it?).
Howling coyote greets lunch and dinner guests at the door.

     Once past the coyote, the hostess leads your party to your table, which literally glows in the dim interior; it’s one of about 20 or so covered wagons circled around a crackling “campfire.”  The day we were there, there weren’t many diners, but I’ll bet when the place is packed it’s a true marvel to see all those folks seated under canvas covered hoops and chatting and chewing at their tables which seat 4 comfortably. 

     The menu is predictable, but good (soups, salads, burgers, chicken dishes, etc.); however, trying to order wine is a trip.  Either they’re “just sold out” or the waitress (who eschews wine herself as she’s LDS) doesn’t have a clue as to what you’re ordering and brings red when you’ve ordered white.  (This is romantic?)
     While you’re waiting for your order to show up, you can now have a look around at the other decorative touches meant to create the ambiance of a wagon train overnight campfire, peacefully awaiting an Indian raid.  Your wagon train may be safe from that possibility, as one soon notices that propped up, rather stiffly, next to the fire is your faithful Indian guide, Fleet of Foot, (whose back is to us in the photo, also provided by Ben).   Someone should warn the poor guy a grizzly is advancing….

Ambiance of circled wagons with stiff Indian and growling bear next to campfire.

     The photo also gives you a good sense of the cheek-to-jowl arrangement of the prairie schooners.  Kids love the place, so, again, not sure how this qualifies as romantic, but hey, whatever floats your boat.  It’s a one of a kind!  Warning: if you come out to visit, you just might get taken here for the dinner experience!

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 5:45 pm  Comments (2)  

The 2010 “Best of the Top of Utah” Awards

No different from Philly, New York, Baltimore, or other major cities, little Ogden has annual readers’ choice awards that are voted on by locals in support of favorite businesses and establishments.  First, second, and third place honors are given to the Top of Utah winners.  These awards create quite a snapshot of life here in the northern third of the beehive state and present the local flavor of what’s available (and more importantly, what isn’t from the categories of what’s missing!).

So here’s the favorites list for 2010 given in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place order:

Pizza (and there are a lot of choices)–Ogden Pizzeria, Pizza Hut, The Pie

Dounts–Krispy Kreme, The Hole, Tasty’s (No, we don’t have a Dunkin’ Donuts!)

Fast Food–Warren’s (no relation), Wendy’s, Subway

BBQ–Famous Dave’s, Goodwoods, Texas Roadhouse

General Dining–Maddox, Timbermine, Texas Roadhouse

Steak House–Texas Roadhouse, Timbermine, Prairie Schooner (will write an entire blog on this restaurant soon!)

Italian–Olive Garden, La Ferrovia, Zucca’s

Asian–Maple Gardens, Zhangs, ABC Mandarin

Ice Cream/Yogurt Shop–Farr’s Ice Cream, Coldstone Creamery, Frosted Rock

Mexican–Javier’s, El Matador, Café Rio

Seafood–Red Lobster, McGrath’s, Timbermine

Greek Food (Yes, there is a large Greek community here)–Andy’s, University Broiler, The Athenian

Coffee (a surprise as LDS folks are not supposed to drink coffee)–Daily Rise, Starbucks, Grounds for Coffee

Wedding Reception Facility (lots of LDS weddings here)–Ivy Lane, Chantilly Mansion, Edgewood

Craft Store (many scrapbookers here)–Michael’s, Jo Ann’s, Ben Franklin

Shopping Center–Newgate Mall, Layton Hills Mall, Wal-Mart (this speaks volumes!)

Clothing Store–Dillard’s, Kohl’s, JC Penny’s (Odd that the Deseret Industries [DI] store is absent.  The DI is Utah’s version of Goodwill and lots of people use that for their clothing store.)

Tire Store (not sure what the presence of this category implies…)–Big O Tire, Discount Tire, Les Schwab

Family Theme Center/Museum–Treehouse Museum (sort of a please touch museum), Dinosaur Park (fossils, dino skeletons and outdoor re-creation of Mesozoic time period), Lagoon (amusement/water park)

Ski Resort (predictably!)–Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, Wolf Creek

Romantic Date–Prairie Schooner, Timbermine, Grey Cliff ($$$)

There were a few other categories like, auto dealership, furniture/appliance store, florist, credit union, and workout place, but the company names wouldn’t mean much if you’re not out here.  As you can see, the focus is on food, but the odd thing is most choices here are national chain franchises.  There are only a few one-offs or private enterprises.  And it seems that the Timbermine and Texas Roadhouse are perennial favorites in more than one category.  Prairie Schooner also made it into more than one list and that place is unique (more will be said about it shortly, as it truly deserves its own blog entry!).

Also, the categories omit smaller and more specific items, like best butcher (I’d vote for Don’s, our guys), best scones (not what you’re thinking–more like fried Indian bread in Utah), best BLT (no cheesteaks or strombolis out here), best whatever….  Notice , too, there is no whiff of alcohol, taverns, clubs, or the best martini….  They exist, but I doubt the Standard-Examiner newspaper that sponsors this list would dare sully its reputation or dare to lose any readers by offering controversial categories like that.

If they add a best film festival, a top contender would have to be Ogden’s own Gangrene Film Festival; a yearly extravaganza of campy new comedy horror shorts.  A sampling of this year’s titles: Regurgitation, Andy’s Spic and Span, Wipe and Fold, The Eater, Whaling and the Inherent Dangers Therein, and finally continuing in the nautical vein, The Adventures of Cap’n Blackbone and the Crew of the Fetid Scallop.

Published in: on October 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm  Comments (2)