Sunday, July 8, 2012

For Sale: 11 Months of Sunshine

Everybody who's anybody owns a vacation home in St. George, Utah. Or they want to.

You want to know why? Three words: Vitamin D, baby!

There are 11 months of sunshine in St. George. You might want to stay inside in January (and July), but by February, the little daffodils are popping their heads up all over town and everyone in the state, that is still sitting in snow, is watching the news saying...damn that St. George!

It is said that when Brigham Young settled the state, he sent some faithful Pioneers south, and told them to leave a group of Saints every 50 miles or so until.... I don't know why they stopped, actually, but I would have stopped in St. George too. In fact, Brigham Young built a vacation home for his family here and you can still take a tour of it.

I'm sure, when the pioneers first laid eyes on the place they didn't think, 100+ years later, it would be covered in golf courses, swimming pools and 165,000 retirees. Just kidding...there are only about 125,000 retirees. ;-) The rest work in the hospital, schools and real estate.

Anyway, when I got the opportunity to work in St. George, I envisioned the town I knew when I was a kid. My dad would take us camping in Zion or Snow Canyon. We would visit the bookstore at Dixie State College to get a t-shirt proving that we had been to "Utah's Dixie." We would drive down the town's main strip "The Boulevard," because we were cool like that. And we would go over to the visitors center at the St. George Temple, because we were Mormons like that.

This isn't what it still looks like.... but what it might have looked like in 1877 when the temple was dedicated.

St. George is so much bigger now but if you hate snow and love a $400 city bill, This Is Your Place.

I have the perfect vacation home for you too...I'll sell it to you CHEAP. In fact, thanks in part to Congress, or Fannie Mae or can have it for HALF of what I paid. Now that's a deal. (choke..hairball)

The town homes at Bristol Park. #14, the one on the end with the
two-car garage, is where we lived and it is up for sale!

The best part of this house is not the house at all. It's a great house, don't get me wrong. The best part of living here is the neighborhood. The people in #12, #9, #1...and so many more...are the reason to live there. It is so safe and they make you feel like family. They really look after each other. And if you're Mormon, you have hit the congregation jackpot.

For Sale - great town home in an amazing
neighborhood. Going cheap at half the price.

In fact, the best part of any house is the memories you build together while you are living there. I never thought we'd be in that house forever, I always wanted my own

house with a fenced in yard for the dogs. But in 2007 that kind of property was way out of our price range. So we found Bristol Park in Washington City, about 3 minutes North of St. George and 28 minutes from work while we waited for the prices to come down. Hahaha..and they sure did. And that explains the short make an offer and it's yours!

The back door and micro-patio

Let me tell you about it first. The backyard in Bristol Park is only about 16 feet from the door to the fence but one summer we bought a one foot deep, orange blow up pool (the kind you get when you have little kids) and we filled it up with about 10 inches of water. Then we threw the dogs in just to see what would happen. We're mean like that (and we thought they should learn to the desert). Since neither of them could touch bottom, they both just let nature kick in and started moving their mini legs back and forth and swam to the other side. It was awesome!!! This is another testimony of the loving nature of God. He made these little creatures, these friends to mankind, but they can't speak. They can't tell you how hungry they are, or if their back aches (Lily) or when are sad, however, they are filled with the most incredible instincts. As if they come pre-programmed with survival skills like swimming, barking at strangers and eating the placenta after they give birth to puppies (I just threw that in) for energy. Mind blowing.

Back to the pool...I digress.

Since the pool was round and slippery, Gus got this look on his face like, "what do I do now?" and kept swimming in a circle around the outer edge and the whining started. Gus is such a whiner. They got tired really fast since keeping 15 pounds afloat with four inch legs is quite a task apparently. But because I'm a bad parent, and because it was so hilarious in a viral-YouTube-kind of way, I had to get some video of it. They just looked like a two little (panicking) Vienna sausages floating around in a giant pot of water.

Because St. George boasts three-digit temperatures for six months of the year, instead of fishing them out, we just got into the pool with them. That was a great day! It's also a great way to empty one of those pools of its water, instantly. I wish I had a picture of Andy, me, Gus and Lily in the $10 kiddie pool. I'll pull that off my eternal hard-drive in the next life and scrapbook it. (Yeah, right) We actually filled the pool up a couple of times that summer and just laid in it. Though the dogs always thought it was weird....

Pretty railing, ceiling fans, vaulted ceiling

When you walk into #14 Bristol Park, you have the stairs on the left and the living room straight ahead. I like that, because people don't immediately see your sink full of dirty dishes if they are standing in your entry way trying to convince you to buy the Dish Network, or delivering your pizza. ;-) The coat closet (white door) was full of memories and housed two important pieces of clothing. No, not coats. We rarely used a coat in St. George. But my wedding dress, and Andy's Santa Suit. It also housed the Monopoly game. I won't say a lot about that *!@* game except that Andy has loved it since childhood and I hate it. The one and only time we played, I was so far in debt to him that by the end of the game, one of us was naked. Ah, good times.

Living room has three super tall windows, two-toned paint.

The living room reminds me of Gus and Lily chasing each other in a perfect circle for hours around the coffee table. It also reminds me of the "Lost" parties, getting hooked on "24," "Modern Family," and The Food Network, which Andy calls "porn for fat people." I love T.V. Because I produce plays for a living, it's nice to have someone else entertain ME.

Kitchen, Party Potty

Pantry of the Gods

The kitchen holds so many memories, most of which involve wedding cakes, cookie parties, Halloween parties, Thai food and crepes. Food is our drug of choice, so we spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Mormons are encouraged to keep a years supply of food and that pantry would definitely hold that much if it weren't for the weird appliances, gadgets, cake pans and cookie cutter collection that dominated the space.

Since we don't have kids, we simply borrow our nieces and nephews for holiday parties. Hence the titles "FAVORITE" Aunt and Uncle. See how that works?

The kitchen has sliding glass doors to the backyard, or as we have lovingly called it, the "back yardage." The window over the sink looks out to a beautiful pomegranate tree that blooms bright red in the spring and is ready for picking in November. I identify with the pomegranate. They aren't the prettiest of God's fruits but they are complex, lumpy, both sweet and bitter and can withstand a lot of bird pecking. Although the ones that grew near the fence got cracked apart by a mother Quail and her babies. She had new babies every year. I don't mind sharing in trade for those breathtaking memories.

Kitchen desk

The picture to the left is the bank of cabinets that held things like scriptures, candlesticks, checkbooks, receipts, place mats and the universal "junk drawer," doesn't everybody have one? The sacred drawer with expired coupons, random rubberbands that were pulled off the celery and became hair ties later on, nail files that say "Bank of American Fork," and a 6-pack of 9 volt batteries for the anti-barking device and 5 AA batteries floating around for the remote controls. Why not 6? Who knows. The hallmark of the junk drawer is the collection of pens and pencils that either don't work, or need to be sharpened. You can never find a working writing utensil in that drawer to save your life.

This is also where the family computer was. Andy received his teaching certificate at this desk two summers back. The bills were paid here. Primary manuals lived in those cabinets alongside a healthy collection of Justin Timberlake, Mo Tab and Andy Shelton CD's.

The memory of this little side desk is vivid for me. It's where I wrote my blog. I bought a tall chair from the thrift store I just sat down one day and started taking all the rocks out of my pockets and leaving them there. Just looking at the picture makes me a little emotional. As you can tell, I found a corner at my mom's to continue dumping rocks.

Guest bedrooms, office

If you are standing at the top of the stairs and you turn right, you are a guest and those are your bedrooms and bathroom. We've had many guests at the Hunsaker Hotel. Enough, that I wrote a blog about it many moons ago (CLICK HERE) Normal people would have kids in those rooms. I absolutely LOVED having the space to take visitors.

If you are standing at the top of the stairs and you are Jan, you go straight forward and check to see the current state of the laundry because...drum roll please....the exact thing that clinched the sale of the house for me, was that the laundry room was upstairs next to the master bedroom. WOOT! Those laundry room closets hid a lot of Christmas presents over the years. There were thousands of costumes washed in that room. It worked harder than all the other rooms combined and all we ever fed it was socks.

Laundry room

I don't have a picture of the master bedroom for some reason, but it had a vaulted ceiling with a fan that also worked it's butt off for six years. I once let it rest so I could dust it...once. So many things happened in that room. Good and bad. The walls are full of conversations about students, the city bill, and mundane things like whose turn is it to go downstairs and get new batteries for the television remote. I won't tell you about my "other" memories of the master bedroom, but take my word for it...they are S.W.E.E.T. (brown chicken brown cow!)

If you are Andy you only climb the stairs once, you look at the laundry room straight ahead and say "Eff-you laundry room," turn left while dropping your pants, taking off your shirt, turning on the fan, and dying dramatically on the bed. See you tomorrow. need to poop. Then you go to the special room: "Andy's room." Don't forget to take your I-pad. Too honest?

Andy's Room

Walk in closet

Master Bath

In addition to "Andy's room," the master suite contains a walk-in shower, walk-in closet and a big jacuzzi tub that was only ever used a few times post miscarriage. Who has time for a bath? Looking back, we should have used it more. A good bath can dissolve a crummy work day...then can a good Ambien with a lot less water usage in the desert.


We lived in a nice town home and we were very grateful for it. It is full of sweet and bitter memories as every house is. But we put it up on the market and walked out of it forever on Tuesday to start again in Salt Lake City. It was hard to shut that door. The spirit was so strong in that house. But I did it, and I didn't turn back because I know it doesn't really matter where you live, it's WHO you live with. And that, my friends, is the conundrum of the week.

There are two important families that I also moved away from this week and it's killing me. My sisters Penny and JoEllen each married "Southern Utah Boys" which is sort of unforgivable except that both of my brothers-in-law are outstanding humans and generally perfect in my eyes. Not sure how we bossy Shelton girls all married so well...but not going to question that either. Between the two families, they are raising nine God-and-Country loving kids. They are making a huge difference in their neighborhoods and at their jobs. They are educators like us and it was a strengthening common bond between us (and the fact that we all loved Thai food). I love them so much and will miss having access to them whenever I want.

I will miss having the kids in my plays when I needed them, the cookie/karaoke parties, having Joel for a bus driver, commiserating with Kyle about the state of college students, having the blessed company of my sisters as we all went through a pregnancy, a birth, a death and some miscarriages together, all on my behalf! Oh and don't let me forget to know your sisters love you when you have carpel tunnel surgery on both hands (at the same time because it's cheaper) and they have to come and make a wedding cake for you and....wipe your bum for you while your husband is at work. it's out there forever. That's love right there. That's love.

My mom used to break up our fights by saying "love each other!" I think that's genius now, looking back. She didn't say "Stop that," or "Don't make me kill you," but she encouraged a positive Maybe we took it a little too seriously, because my heart is simply breaking. I feel like I'm walking around in a fog of hurt even though my Yankee siblings are already getting me up and involved in this end of my world and I have missed them so much while I was in Dixie. Why can't we all just live on the same block?!

I have moved from my pretty town home in St. George this week to live in the basement of my parent's home for now. We are up to our armpits in boxes, Gus tried to bite the neighbor, I can't find my work notes, and I miss everybody in St. George terribly. But I am with my gorgeous husband and our parents and that's all that counts. My Facebook followed me, carefully packed in a box marked "Eternal - Handle With Care." So, technically, I brought those 1000+ people with me too. Thanks Facebook.

I believe that you will only take two things with you into the next life, your knowledge and your relationships. Love is eternal. I will always have my Southern family too...they are mine forever! So no matter where you are, if you love the people around you and don't forget to repair the tough relationships, you are building an eternal neighborhood with endless sunshine and mansions for everybody. Think of that!

P.S. Mansion requests: Andy - adult-sized swimming pool, Jan - eternal laundry service, Gus - endless beef jerky, Lily - an eternal population of small badgers. Thank you!

From this.......

To this. Not a bad trade eh?