As many of you know, I work in the Superhero business. I know superheros. And Julianne has proven time and again that she is a superhero. In fact, sometimes she is Captain Marvel. Other times she is Wonder Woman. All times she is Supergirl.
One of Julianne’s more impressive qualities is her quiet determination. I have watched her tackle all kinds of tasks and goals over the years and she has always had the chutzpah to accomplish them. Has she been perfect at accomplishing her objectives? No, but who is? But, she has always had the gumption to push through.
I probably can provide a billion examples of how she has tackled a project or a goal and then has worked her way through, solving the challenges, overcoming the obstacles and getting there.
One of the unique examples of this comes from her desire to create a process to make a type of fabric art, which she first called “Photo Fabrications” and then later coined “Photofabrique.” She had a concept in mind…make quilted fabric art out of photos and make them look realistic, like a photo. To accomplish this she first came up with ideas on how to break the photo down. This required her to learn how to use a software product called Photoshop. Back when she first started doing this, Photoshop was still a fairly new software product. So, she learned it and learned how to make five layers from a photo. After many many tries, she finally came up with the concept that worked.
With the success in doing this, and while working as a quilt specialist at Quilter’s Square, others wanted to learn the process. Though she wouldn’t teach the pattern making, she began making the patterns and teaching classes. For a few years she taught classes in numerous states, as far away as Montana, and many in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee. It became a venture for her and then introduced more challenges. She had to devise quicker methods. Her determination to do so helped her to learn techniques in Photoshop that would ultimately turn her pattern-making into a “scan and run an applet” type of thing. Her process evolved over a number of years. It was amazing to see her scale this mountain.
When her sister Maren visited on year, Julianne began to learn yoga. Once again, it was a challenge, but she was soon taking yoga classes and still, on occasion, does them today. It was hard for her, but she took on the challenge and learned.
Another big challenge for Julianne was learning Japanese. We lived in Japan as a family from 1987-1991. During that time, Julianne focused on learning to speak the language. By the time we left, she was able to converse freely and, nearly 28 years later she can still speak quite a bit. She never quit and it has stuck with her.
There will be more posts in the next couple of weeks covering other areas where Julianne has shown gumption, determination and guts in accomplishing her objectives. She most certainly knows how to look at the mountain from below and scale it!
One of the most endearing things about my wife of forty years is her endearing smile. Like anyone, that smile is not always on her face, but oh, when it is, it is endearing. Because of her smile, she makes the world more beautiful. So, in the effort to make the world more beautiful, here are some of my favorite smiley photos of Julianne from over the years.
I hope these smiley pictures will brighten your day as they brighten mine. The world is certainly a better place because of Julianne, and her smile adds to the warmth of the sunshine.
OK. Julianne has DEAGED over the last few years. Seems like each year she gets a year younger. Many would be surprised that she is the grandmother of ten lovely grandchildren. She cares about these sweet children so much. She always wants to kiss their sweet cheeks! She is such a COOL grandmother!
When were married in 1979, little did we know what would lay ahead on our journey. We had hoped for a few children (we were blessed with five). We even dreamed of having grandchildren, though a specific number was never in our mind. I would always just say “Children are like arrows, happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”
Julianne got to experience her first grandchild while she was in her forties. She now has TEN, and they are probably one of the biggest joys in her life. She has a HUGE place in her heart for them and loves each one dearly. She has an endless amount of kisses and hugs and smiles for them.
For this particular post, I am just going to let the photos below tell the story about this woman of love and care. Obviously, words can’t describe the feelings like the photos do. She is truly the Coolest grandmother around.
Over 40 years and Julianne never ceases to amaze me with her Can Do Spirit. She will take on almost any challenge. In fact, it is best not to say “I don’t think you can do that” to her, as she will strive to prove you wrong.
There are many examples I can provide herein, but she proved it big time just recently with the accomplishment of an amazingly monumental task — the complete redoing of a bathroom in our house, right down to the replacement of a brand new toilet.
It has been nearly 20 years since we moved into our house here in Lexington and a number of remodelish kind of things have been done. But the upstairs bathroom always remained, until April 2019, that is. I had no doubts about her doing most of the work in there, including the new flooring, the replacement of wallpaper, redoing the curtains. But, the toilet? That, to me, is tricky business. I said we should get a plumber. She said no.her efforts
So, off I went to Lowe’s to get a new one. It required a couple of neighbors and me to get that thing up the stairs. It was very heavy and bulky.
Before she could do the wallpaper and floor, we had to remove the old toilet. This was quite a job in and of itself. But Julianne tackled it almost with the finesse of a plumber. Its a yucky job and she dug right in (literally…if you have had to remove a toilet wax ring, you will know what I mean!). After that, off came the mouldling and trim.
Soon, she was all about replacing the wall paper, replacing the flooring, painting the walls and then adding the molding and trim. She cut the lengths for the chair rails (she added two of them) herself and added that to the wall. All the while, I did what I could do to assist, mostly being the gofer and the “look it up on YouTube” guy.
Everything was done but the toilet. We ripped open the box and together we got it ready. Steady hands always, Julianne added the new wax ring and we flipped the guy over. She assembled everything. And voila!! After some bolt tightening adjustments to stop any leaking, we had a working toilet and basically, a brand new, great looking bathroom.
Julianne has accomplished many other seemingly insurmountable tasks over the years. To Julianne, obstacles are like mountains; they’re not going to move themselves. She has always had the strength, gumption and ability to take action to overcome them. She has scaled the mountains in so many ways. I could go on with stories, but I’ll leave it to the one above as a prime example of Julianne’s Can Do Spirit! I am proud to know this amazing woman.
Julianne is not obnoxious. She is also not very outspoken or gregarious (like her husband). But, she has a goofy side. I think that our children picked up their “goofy” sides from her. I am just not as goofy…or am I?
One of my first memories of her goofiness was when she was having a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and then put the brown wrapper over her teeth. Or the “Orange Peel Smile.” One time our daughter caught her using spaghetti to make Dracula teeth…
She has done funny teeth things with pistachio shells too. You never know what she may come up with.
I got the biggest kick out of her a couple of years ago when she had to create a poster for a graphic arts class at the University of Kentucky. This poster is a prime example of her “creative goofiness.” I had to include it here. She did ALL of the art work…including the characterization of herself from actual photos….
Julianne is notorious for her photo-bombs and funny faces in photos. Here are a couple of them from the past.
A couple of Christmas seasons ago, we went around Lexington to take Christmasy pictures together. She insisted on hiding her face in each one..just for fun.
Always a master of disguise, she is happy to hide herself in plain site.
It is absolutely fun being with these sweet, fun-loving, sometimes downright goofy gal!! Love her to death (and life)!! Life with her is Happyville!
This series is all about my dear wife Julianne. She has stuck with me for 40 years. Through Thick and Thin. For this and the following 58 days until our actual wedding anniversary date of July 15, I plan to do and “attribute tribute” a day about why I love and adore this person so much. She has been the light (and perhaps even the guiding light) of my life all of these years.
Does this mean that things have always been good? Of course not, with any relationship there are ups and downs. Situations sometimes dictate and the high hills of joy can sometimes turn into low valleys of despair. But the key is always the longevity factor. Can we make it through the rough seas and back into the mainstream? I think the answer is yes.
Today I want to speak of kindness. I first met Julianne at a lonely bus stop in Provo, Utah in the fall of 1978. We had both missed the bus. I was enamored by her good looks. But I was taken, both literally and figuratively, by her kindness. We had both missed the bus. I never rode the bus, but my car had problems. I got there too late. She too arrived a couple of minutes late. I asked her about it. She said her roommate was coming to get her and she kindly offered me a ride. You see, it turned out that we both worked in J.C. Penney Department Store at the Orem Mall. She in the Cafe and me in the shoe department.
Julianne didn’t know me. She didn’t know if I was a good guy or a bad guy. But she was kind, she offered me a ride. (See…taken literally) And I was impressed by her thoughtful non-judgmental kindness. Perhaps kindness is one of her greatest attributes. She has a kind heart. She speaks kind words. She thinks kind thoughts. I am grateful for her kindness.
I have been waiting almost a year for this day. It is officially 60 days away from my 40th anniversary of marriage to my sweetheart Julianne.
What a momentous time for us! The past 40 years have brought so many wonderful blessings into our lives and offered us so many wonderful opportunities to grow closer and to learn about life and love. I have cherished every moment, even the difficult and challenging times.
Over the next 59 days, I plan to post a different outlook on my sweet wife and what I cherish most about having been with her for 40 years. It has been a wonderful journey and I hope that it continues on for much longer.
All I want to say in this post, is that it has been a ride! In 40 years we have had five wonderful children, all of whom are, at the time of this writing, in their 30s. Four of our children have married and we have, through them, 10 wonderful and talented grandchildren, including two teenagers! In our 40 years we have lived in nine different cities, including four years in Oita, Japan. Both Julianne and I have had a variety of jobs, some full-time and some part-time over the years. Over the next 59 posts I will mention some of those as well. During the course of our marriage, we have owned 10 different cars, we have lived in 13 different houses and/or apartments, we have traveled all over the country both with our family and together as a couple. In 45 days from now we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of moving into the house that we currently reside in.
Through the ups and downs, the challenges and successes, the difficult times in the joyful times, ours has been an abundant journey. For this I can’t my blessings. I hope you will follow us over the course of the next 59 days as I spend a portion of each day celebrating The absolute love of my life, the woman and friend who is stuck with me through thick and thin over these 40 years.
A couple of days ago I was listening to the album Chicago VII, which is one of my all-time favorite compilations of music, and certainly my favorite Chicago album. The album represented a change in direction for the group as they added a few more jazzier tones to the typical rock that they had. In fact, that summer I got to see them in concert — my first-ever opportunity.
I have listened to this album well over one hundred times, but the other day was different. From the onset of the first three tracks (all instrumental) I was taken back to shortly after my graduation and my mind was flooded with old memories and images, many which I had forgotten about. It was really a strange, strange feeling. As each song from this double album set played, more memories came. Honestly, I was overwhelmed and by the time the album had completed, I realized that the two years of my life between graduation in 1974 and my departing on a mission to Japan for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1976 were probably the most fragile, tempestuous and most formative years of my life…even to this day in May 2019, 45 years later.
In May 1974, I graduated from Murray High School in Murray, Utah. It was the first event of my life that both of my parents attended. As exciting and fresh as that even was, earlier events from the previous two years were leading to what would become a number of major turning points in my life and really would alter the direction of it. As early as the winter of 1972, when the family lived in Bozeman, Montana and I was a junior in high school, I was becoming frustrated with the life around me. The family was dysfunctional, I was having to make new friends (this was my fifth school in five years) and I didn’t feel like a part of the family. I ran away from home twice that year, once as a trial run, hitchhiking my way to Billings and then finally choosing to go all out and head to Denver, as a 16 year old. That little trick ended up getting me thrown in a juvenile detention center overnight in Denver. But that is another story.
At the same time, I was searching for meaning in life. To be frank, I was a good kid. Never smoked, never drank, never did pot (and this was the 70s!). These were self-induced decisions, not religious ones. Yes, my adoptive mother Marge was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness at the time and I reluctantly attended with the family, but that really had no bearing my abstinence from these things. I just wasn’t interested. I got high listening to good music and reading fantasy and science fiction novels. But, I was also searching for some meaning in life. I believed in a God, but not the definition of the Jehovah’s Witness God. I have written about my religious leanings and LDS conversion in other posts. (See THIS POST as an example)
All of this led up to our move to the Salt Lake City area in the summer of 1973. Once again, I had to attend a new school, make new friends and adjust again. I was very fortunate to have fallen into a group of friends that were great examples to me and honestly cared about me. To this day I am grateful for that. But high school was still difficult for me. I was a non-Mormon in a predominantly Mormon (LDS) community and all of my friends at Murray were mostly LDS. I was definitely interested in the religion and was even taking an institute class…chiefly to learn more about the LDS interpretation of who God was. But I was still confused. I was depressed about my family situation…the dysfunction had gotten worse and the discord between my adoptive mother and my adoptive father Joe Kravetz had increased (and by 1977 they had divorced). I had a lust for life and thus was not suicidal, but I needed some help. By the second semester of high school I was seeing a counselor. They gave me an IQ test and I scored very high. Funny…that changed a great deal of my outlook. I was smarter than the average bear. I finished the last semester with almost straight A’s as a result. But, what I didn’t see coming was the massive tempest of REAL LIFE drama that would happen shortly after high school was done.
While in high school I had a job as a clerk at the Camera Department for Skaggs Drug Store in Murray. I loved the job. I got to interact with all kinds of people and I got to sell cameras and things. And, the clerks in the Camera Depart were also responsible for the Record and Tape Department…and I was (and still am) quite the music lover.
It was good to have a job and some income. I was saving for a car and had some spending money to by record albums which I would listen to in my basement bedroom late at night. That was my escape. My happy place.
By June of 1974, I had expressed an interest in joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My parents were not happy with that at all. In the 1970s many considered the Mormons to be a cult, and my adoptive parents were in that group. In June I was basically told to leave the house because my parents did not want me influencing my siblings with this strange religious philosophy, despite my Dad knowing many of the members and the local Bishop pretty well. And thus the storm had begun. I was welcome to come over to the house and visit, as long as church was not brought up, but I had to move out on my own. I was still 17 and was already having to find a place to live, pay rent and become an adult really fast. My job helped, but I needed more. Fortunately, my friendly persona and interest in music had managed to make an influence on Alan Ferguson, one of the managers for Alta Distributing Company, the group that managed the record and tape distribution for Skaggs and dozens of other large retail outlets. One day, as I perused the new releases, Alan came up to me. He knew I was on my own and that I needed something more than a part-time job. He told me that they were looking for someone who could be on the road for them five days a week to fill the record racks in stores in Price and Vernal, Utah and also in Rock Springs and Evanston, Wyoming. They would provide me with a van, which I could also use for personal use since I didn’t have a car. It was a dream job for this young 17 year old music lover.
After a couple of weeks of training, I was on the road driving a white Dodge van filled with music and loving every minute of it. I was staying in hotels four nights a week, eating at good restaurants and driving on long drives with music blaring in the background. I soon made friends in some of the towns that I stayed in each week and would spend evenings with them.
In the meantime, I was having to wait until October before I could consider being baptized into the church. It was not until January 1975 before I was able to get baptized. My best friend Jonathan Jensen baptized me shortly before he left on his LDS Mission to Sweden.
Soon, all of my friends were leaving on missions. As for me, as a fledgling member of the church and one who was struggling to live on his own, Jonathan’s family became my family. I would visit there often, or visit my other friend, Russ Graves, at his house.
Not long after that, a family in the Murray 20th Ward, the Thomas family, knew that I needed something more stable and “family like” and offered me a room in their home. They lived across the street from the Jensens and were only two blocks from my family, so it was a nice arrangement.
The Thomas family was a good example to me and something I needed. But, I also needed someone my age.
I believe it was at a Stake dance that I met Penny Strong, a senior in high school from Cottonwood High School. I honestly don’t recall how we met. But, what I do remember, is that she became like a sister to me. Yes, I was interested in a girlfriend, but I had never had one. But, somehow, my relationship with Penny was so much more than a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. In fact, I can still recall how often I would confide in her and her family. They were the final cementing agent I needed to remain happy and well. Ultimately, Penny was the person that gave me strength when I needed it. Her father Wayne was a good man and would always give me good advice. She had an older sister that was there as well. To me, Penny was a Godsend to a young man that was struggling to keep a good direction in his life. I will always be grateful to Penny for being there for me.
But my struggles weren’t over. I was a hustler. I was a people person. Even back in the 1970s, I had never met a stranger. These characteristics helped me immensely in my work for Alta Distributing. Sales in Price and Vernal increased nearly 300% in my year and a half. So much so that Alta had decided they were going to open a record store in Price and, at the age of 18, they offered me the role of managing the store at a salary of $30,000, which was, to me, a mind-blowing amount of money. I thought about all of the things I could do. And, I would be in the music business still.
But, one obstacle remained in my mind. As a member of the church I would be able to serve an LDS mission. All of my good friends were off on theirs by this time. Yet, I had not even been a member for one year. I was lost in my decision making. I would discuss this situation — good job and good future vs. two years of sacrifice and serving the Lord. I would talk about this with Penny, the Thomas family, Bishop Jensen, etc.
Ironically, I had submitted my mission papers sometime in November 1975, not even a member for a year at that time. It seemed like I had to wait an eternity for my mission call. Alta had made the job offer to me on a Monday or Tuesday in mid-December, near Christmas. They were banking on me accepting the job. And I was seriously considering it. By that Friday, they said they needed to move on the store and needed an answer by the next Monday morning. And, as luck would have it, I got my mission call on Saturday in the mail… Nagoya Japan. Leaving in February 1976. So, I was left with the mentally grueling task of making a VERY MAJOR life decision on a Sunday…basically had about 36 hours to make this decision…Mission or Record Shop? And the tough thing was that nobody could answer me. Either decision would have been a “righteous” and good decision.
I knew that I had come to a crossroads in my life. I knew that whatever decision I would make…indeed, the toughest decision I had ever made in my short 19 years of life…would set the course and direction of my life. (And, little did I know how very true that would be!!). Honestly, I think had I gotten a mission call to the United States, I may have decided on the job. But, the wanderlust in me. The adventurous heart in me, looked at Japan as a wonderful challenge and opportunity.
In the end, I chose to serve a mission to Japan. Monday morning at Alta did NOT go well. In one fell swoop I went from the good graces as an all-star in the company, to basically a company reject. They pulled me from the route I was doing and put me on a local, less attractive route in Salt Lake City. They said that they would consider hiring me back when I returned from my mission, but couldn’t promise anything, and certainly the store option was out of the question.
I was brokenhearted. I had worked so hard. I was not sure what the Japan mission would do for my future, but I moved on with faith. I learned the language and served faithfully, as well as I could, as a one-year convert.
In conclusion, that two year period BEFORE I departed on my mission to Japan (ages 17-19) was my first true trial by fire. Did I make the right decisions? I will never know for sure, but I think I did in the long run. The Japan mission for me really set the course of my life as I have had many jobs that were directly a result of my language skills. Now, in 2019, as I approach my 40th anniversary of my marriage to my sweet wife Julianne, I can look back on all of the richness (not in terms of money, but in terms of experiences) my life has given me — five children, ten grandchildren, friends all around the world, amazing travel experiences and a propensity to be happy despite any circumstances. And my heart is filled with gratitude, especially to those wonderful folks mentioned above that were there for me in my time of need back then.
Did you know I have a couple of books published? These two books are about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, hopefully coming in late Spring 2019!!
By the time I was ready to depart on the solo part of my journey, at the age of 17, I had already determined a few things regarding my future. Having grown up with a good deal of dysfunction and unhappiness in my own adoptive family, I had determined that if I ever had a family of my own, that kind of dysfunction and heartache would not happen on my watch. I am not saying that everything in my family was bad, but there were many things that just weren’t right and I wanted to make sure I fixed these things for my own offspring, if I was ever blessed to have one.
Now, at age 62, I am thankful to say that, overall, we have had a loving family and I believe that most of my resolutions in terms of family pretty much came true. My children have not had to experience a divorce between their parents. My children were loved and nurtured and had a fairly stable family. Unlike my situation where my parents never came to any of my school activities (other than my high school graduation and later my college graduation), my wife and I strived to attend as many activities of our children as we could possibly do. To be sure, there were times where three different functions occurred simultaneously, and thus one of the children had to miss out on parents being there. But, but if we could be there, we were.
I am grateful that my children have had so many wonderful life experiences prior to their departures on their own separate life journeys. I’m grateful that for at least 17 or 18 years of their lives they were able to join Julianne and I on our journey as we lived in Japan, lived in different parts of the country, and had many opportunities provided for us to travel, participate in many activities and do many things that most families never really get to do.
We have never had a “rich” life in terms of money, and that has been perfectly okay. We’ve never been dirt poor either. We have always been blessed to have what we needed and sometimes even a little bit more. Our children never did without the necessities of life and for that I am deeply grateful. My children never had to have their heads shaved like my mom used to do. She gave us our haircuts and I didn’t like it. If our children desired that kind of haircut, then it was fine even though I still did not like how they looked. Fortunately, I believe that we were very good about allowing our children to make guided choices during their youth.
And now, 45 years after I had left my own home and set forth on my personal journey and traveled these many years on this journey with my family, I feel “rich“ in the abundance of family. I feel rich in joy and experiences. I have had a rich life because of my children and my grandchildren and this will be something I will be able to always have with me.