Sunday, July 20, 2008

UT Trip: Final Odds & Ends

This is the last post about my trip to Utah.

The golf course by my friends' home is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation. This hole was nothing but dirt when I arrived. They dug drainage channels, put down barrier material and sand in the traps, contoured the ground, and rolled an enormous amount of sod. Everything but the actual green was finished when I left. The Park City ski resort is in the background.

More Flowers
My friends had oriental poppies in their yard. I'd never seen anything like them. The inside of the flower's cup looked smudged with the black from the center. In CA, we grew a variety that stood about 1' high but these orientals were about 3' tall!

On the Friday evening that I was in Utah, I was invited to join my friends at Shabbat dinner hosted by their friends. I'm pretty anti-organized religion and I probably wouldn't have gone 10 years ago. Maybe I've mellowed; maybe I've grown up.

Shabbat is the weekly day of rest symbolizing the seventh day in Genesis that is a day of celebration as well as one of prayer. It is observed from sundown on Friday until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact time therefore differs from week to week and from place to place.

It is customary to eat three festive meals on Shabbat. These include dinner on Friday night, lunch on Saturday and another meal later in the afternoon.

Aside from getting to meet a wonderful group of folks, 15 of us in all, I got the chance to observe another family's and culture's rituals.

• After gathering around the table, the hostess recitated kiddush, or "sanctification," over a cup of wine at the beginning of dinner. The wine was passed around the table and those that wished to share took a sip.
• She then made a blessing over two loaves of bread...a braided challah...and that was shared during the meal.
• Next was a charity ritual they called "kvetch" and "kvell". Starting at the left of the host, an ornate "piggy" bank was passed around the table to the guests. Each person expressed aloud a kvetch and/or kvell about what they experienced during the week. At the end of every person's turn, they deposited a dollar bill into the bank (placed by the host on the table at the top of the each guest's plate) before passing it on. Those monies are donated to a local charity.
Then it was on to a delicious dinner full of lively conversation around the table. It reminded me a bit of the Thanksgiving meals we had when I was a child. Only these new friends of mine make it a point to do it every week. I can see where this would be a community building activity. [Note: Neither my friends nor I are Jewish, but we were welcomed without a question or care!]

One of my friends is an architect in the area so they took me up into The Canyons to check out one of his sites currently under construction. Many of the bridges and retaining walls that hold up the roadbeds that snake along the sides of the mountains are made of metal cages filled with local reddish-orange Utah sandstone. It made me a little uneasy but I was assured that they were all attached together and then anchored to the mountain.

Not sure if you can tell in the pics below, but the driveway is going to be heated. You can see the tubing in the circular section around the tree ready for a final concrete pour. With feet and feet of snow, it would be impossible to get up to the house in the winter. Even with a plow, the driveway would be a sheet of ice.

I'm pretty sure they said the square footage of the house is ~10,000 sq. ft.

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