Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend at Breanna's

Hi, everyone!

Thought y'all would enjoy Pat's account of our trip to Utah.

Some names you may not recognize:

Pat and Virla-Breanna's parents-in-law

Matthew-Breanna's husband

Miriam-Matt's sister

Steve-Miriam's husband

Rebecca-Matt's other sister

Joshua, John, Ben, Daniel, Michael, Joseph, Sam- Matt's brothers

We traveled to Utah for the graduation of Matthew, Breanna, Miriam and Steve. We didn't have any trouble – we did, however, travel with a trailer, all the way up and all the way home. It was a 6 x 10 trailer, covered. Joshua went with us, as did John. Daniel had to stay home because of work. January's mother came to visit her and Ethan, so she didn't go either. I thought it was good to have John as an extra driver because I do nothing any more to help Dad. Our travel was uneventful, thank goodness, and we got there without any trouble.

We went to Grandpa's house in American Fork where Matt and Breanna are staying. They had gotten a hospital bed for Virla, so that made it easier for her.

The graduates had arranged to all walk together instead of in their separate colleges, which made it possible to see all of them receive their diplomas. Miriam arranged this, (we believe), so the other three were announced with their relationships to her. It was really good to see them all graduate – they came in order, one right after the other. Dad (Pat), of course, took some pictures – it's always good to have some pictures. Miriam graduated in Physics and Astronomy, Steve in Electrical Engineering, Breanna in Marriage, Family and Human Development, (those all Bachelor of Science) and Matt in History (the Bachelor of Arts). [Editor: there was some man I didn't recognize sitting in the audience, who, when we walked into the Wilkinson Center ballroom, indicated we should sit in certain seats. He seemed to know what he wanted us to do, and after we did, and a little time passed, I began to understand that if you have a light beard and at the same time shave your head, you could be Ben and not be known by your own father.] After the pictures and procession, Dad had to go home to get my medicine which he'd forgotten. While he was going, we saw a demonstration of physics principles in the Eyring Science Center (with the Foucault Pendulum) and ate some snacks which were provided. Then we went to the planetarium, where Miriam gave us a little program and demonstration. All of the Stevens' were there, including Dad, Joshua and me, Joseph, Jennifer, Jacob and Sierra, Matt and Breanna, all of Breanna's family, and Steve and his family too. We filled up about 25 seats. Miriam showed us the planets, constellations, and gave a little talk about the origins of the Astrology. She made a big deal of saying that Astrology is not taught at BYU, but some students didn't know the difference between Astrology and Astronomy. It was very interesting to hear her talk about it and run the planetarium projector. The seats leaned back enough so some, if tired, might snore a little while the rest of us listened to the program.

The group broke up and Dad and I went to Rebecca's lab. There she showed us a variety of things which, when immersed in liquid nitrogen, will freeze, and subsequently break. This happens whether they are dropped in the floor, squeezed in the heavily gloved hand, or thrown against the door. While this was all going on for an audience of Stevens, Joseph's children, and Whittams, there was a student or at least a person quietly rebuilding a piece of lab gear. All the accumulation on the floor didn't seem to bother him. Rebecca has no more official connection with the college, but such is her influence that said gear rebuilder said not a word and acted as if we were all sane. Jacob made sure no frozen piece of rubber hose went unpunished. Once released onto the floor he followed it around the room stomping vigorously. Matt, totally in the interest of science, was a little disappointed by the results of a tie, a perfectly good tie, which had so recently been worn as part of the graduation outfit, then willingly cut up and dipped in the dewar of bubbling liquid nitrogen, when it obstinately failed to shatter. Separating the inner foamy tie filling from the outer silky fabric didn't give any better results. The tie maintained its frozen shape but did not break apart. Must have been a winter tie.

Matt had bought a 'ding and dent' table, a little round coffee table, from a local furniture store, so after the mayhem at the lab, capped off by a full dewar of liquid being thrown down the hall, where it could be observed that the liquid runs amazingly quickly down the confined space of the hall, steaming and evaporating on the way, we picked up the table. And went home.

On the way back to the American Fork house, we saw an A&W root beer place, and were about to get some for all four of us, but when I saw the price for a cup and that for a gallon, just bought a gallon. When we arrived at the house, by the time I'd gotten the lift out and put Virla in the chair, said gallon had been guzzled. So, I went back and got two more gallons which had the courtesy to last a little longer. Clayton and Jean, his traveling companion, came with me and we talked about his recent knee surgeries and his plans to visit exotic locations with Jean.

Susan and Elizabeth also were able to come, and before the evening was over, we had Michael's boss and some of his family visiting as well. At first I thought they were from the West family, but it didn't matter – there was pizza and root beer, so they were all happy. While the light lasted a rather fierce game of Pickle was conducted across the street, and after everyone had sat for pictures, the Wii activity, participation TV, kept everyone's attention. It was entertaining to stand in the kitchen and look into the next room where the whole group was watching four people, each with the Wii motion sensor, waving in unison – first side to side, then up and down, in and out, all intensely serious and yet believing they were accomplishing a great deal. At intervals a cheer would arise from the group. Next time you're observing a behavior so odd that nothing in your experience would explain it, think that perhaps there is a TV somewhere, unseen to you but visible to the participants, being controlled by Wii, the combination of which might lend dignity to the occasion. Not.

On the morrow we slowly removed furniture which DeVirl and Beryl had given to Virla into the trailer and van. The boys helped even though after this exercise, the house had no chairs nor tables except one small coffee table from Dent n Ding, which wasn't visible at least upstairs. However, since the Wii was still going, no one seemed to mind.

Rebecca arrived with the most wonderful pizza, two imaginative layers, and we had that and various juices. Matt and Breanna (and probably Miriam and Steve) had planned well for this occasion. But we had to go, and so when the packing was done, we took our leave and found a relatively cheaper filling station. The credit card limit these days is 99 bucks, up from the previous 75, but still not enough. This is why you need to carry two cards. The trip home was equally uneventful, though at GrabApple Station, Yermo, CA, we fully expected the guards to sentence our remaining apple to the trash, but the sight of the trailer so consumed their attention that when they'd looked inside and found, instead of illegals, a lightly loaded trailer and the chair and lift at the very back, they waved us on through. A thoughtful food packer back in American Fork had given us four apples, but no one's appetite included apples that afternoon, so I manfully ate three of them on the way down, thinking it was, if not green, at least not wasteful.

A howling tailwind during the whole trip made it rather easy on fuel, though we were pulling a trailer, and the mpg was near 20.

Virla was happy to have made the trip – the extra effort is entirely worth it to see her happiness and contentment as she watched the graduators, and the large, happy group of family and friends, the children and children of former children. Life is good.

(Thanks, Pat, for letting me borrow your words--


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