Snow Day

It doesn’t snow much in Castle Valley (especially compared to Salt Lake — where the lake effect snow really brought the valley a lot of snow.

The mountains that make up the southern valley-boundary get several inches of snow almost weekly, but down the geology of the mountains and cliffs and mesas that surround the valley aren’t very nice to approaching storms, and so a lot of the individual storms are broken up before they arrive.

Last night, it starting snowing at around 7p.m.  Beth and I hit the hot tub then, because it’s really pretty fun sitting in the hot tub outside while it snows on your face, and everything around you is white and brighter than usual.

Castle Valley Snow

This morning, a low ceiling + the sunrise made for some pretty dramatic pictures.  As always, it is so much more vivid in person, but the pics are petty spectacular as well, especially this pic of our house with Porcupine Ridge looming behind it all brightly lit and snow-covered.

Sun House Snow

NYE 2015

Beth and I rang in the new year with homemade pizza, beer/wine, and a movie marathon. Oh, and we hit the hot tub for an intermission.

Me: pepperoni/ricotta pizza, CoConut Porter

Beth: eggplant/orange bell pepper/ricotta pizza, organic wine

We watched the second half of The Desolation of Smaug and the first half of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

It was a lovely night, and it was absolutely cold outside (in the teens), which made the hot tub both a delightful (settling into the 103f water) and miserable (walking back into the house) experience. But the 3/4 moon was amazingly bright, and the air very crisp.

Moving to Castle Valley in 2014

I really didn’t think, when we discovered and first flirted with the idea of moving to Castle Valley, that we’d make it out here before 2015 spring. But I was wrong. So the experience was extra special for me, being outside in the absolute quiet, the clean, smog-free air with the silhouette of various mesas, buttes, mountains, ridges, whatever they are.


At the start of the new year, a natural time for reflecting, I am especially grateful that Kitty is still with us. After being diagnosed with feline leukemia in 2011 and given ~ 6 months to live, she did unexpectedly well for several years, until November 2014, when she almost died. We rushed her to the vet E.R. one night—a 1.5 hour drive for an emergency blood transfusion. Her red blood cell count was ultimately 11% right before the transfusion (that’s really knocking on death’s door), but she recovered well. After the transfusion her RBC was 21%. A recent blood test showed her RBC to be 46%. Amazing.

As I write this, she is sitting on my chest, purring. Am so thankful.

It was a good night. I’m looking forward to 2015.  Am super happy I get to spend it with this girl:

beth and sean needles

Happy New Year!

Prehistoric Museum

To celebrate my surviving a very nasty encounter with what was most likely food poisoning, Beth and I visited the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum.  There, they had ACTUAL Utahraptor bones (including a real, not replica, fossil of a NASTY piece of bone known as the KILLING CLAW), a beautiful and in-tact Mammoth skeleton, and many Fremont Indian artifacts.

Here’s me and the Utahraptor:

It was a 2.25 hour drive, one way, and we drove through some (pretty) snow on highway 101.  Dinner was at Groggs Brew Pub, which was better than we thought it’d be!

My second favorite part of the museum (which included many full size dino replicas, such as Allosaurus and Stegosaurus), was the complete fossil of a mammoth.


Christmas 2014

Beth declared that Christmas is now Utahraptormas, so I made her a necklace of a velociraptor claw, and a website explaining the tradition.  It was fun. 🙂

beth with claw

Here is our rosemary tree with presents under it:

utahraptormas tree

And a lovely shot of our little garden space, with snow:

Sun House Yard and Snow

It has snowed a bit here and there in November and December, but this was the first really strong snow, that stuck.  Kind of magical!

We made seeded bread with marscapone + toasted hazelnuts + blackberry honey for breakfast, and had a nice oven roasted turkey and mashed potatoes in the evening.  After it got dark, we made vanilla bean + cinnamon ice cream and watched (2/3 0f) The Desolation of Smaugh.  [Spiders!!]


mugsAn early birthday present for Beth, I ordered these hand-made, beautiful mugs from Droste Pottery.  Fantastic.

divi1For a week now, we’ve had water coming out from the baseboards in the laundry room.  We finally got a plumber to come and check it out.  After cutting several holes in the drywall, he found the busted pipe, and spent most of the rest of the day fixing it.  There was water everywhere, and it’ll take a long time to dry out, but we got the leak fixed.

leaky pipe

Thankfully it wasn’t a leak in the concrete slab/foundation.

divi1After all the plumbing drama (the leak wouldn’t stop long enough to attach the new fitting at first, and then the water softener started leaking ALL over the laundry room), we went to dinner.

First Morning

Whether it was the excitement of moving in to a new house, or the fact that my bedroom is the designated “cat safe-room” while we put the rest of the house together (the cat food/water and litter box is in there), I did not sleep very well last night.

The wind woke me up around 1:30 a.m.  It was ripping through the tiny trees just outside my window.  I love these kinds of interesting weather moments, but I also needed to sleep.  July 4th was one of the more stressful days in recent memory.

It’s weird being in a new place, where everything is different.  I keep thinking… we really live here.  There’s no home to go back to in Salt Lake where everything is familiar, and I know where to find an F-ing pair of scissors when I need them!  …which is to say I guess the move hasn’t quite sunk in yet.  The house is a disaster, and we will definitely be spending the next several days (weeks??) putting the house together.

But this morning, because I did not sleep well, I woke up earlier than usual and decided to take the dogs for a drive, and then a walk along a section of the Colorado River called Sandy Beach.

I dunno if you’re tired of seeing this view, but I sure am not.  Here’s what it looked like when I left this morning:

sunrise castle valley

And here’s how it looked down on Sandy Beach:

Sandy Beach UT

I didn’t get it captured so well on camera, but for one stretch of the beautiful drive down along the Colorado, two deer popped out of the brush and ran along with me, one on either side of the road.  I slowed down to 15 m.p.h. and just drove behind them for a while, before they decided–seemingly at the same time–to pick one side of the road and sprint away.

It was a pretty fantastic morning, despite the lack of sleep and the chaos of the house!

Smog Fog and Snow

So far, this January has been better than the one from 2013.  We’re still dealing with some nasty smog, but the storms that drive it away are a) more frequent, and b) less severe.

As the country is currently being wrecked by a Polar Vortex, Salt Lake City is business as usual.  Smog, Fog, and Snow.

Smog and fog over the Salt Lake Valley


Snowfall obscuring Salt Lake

First Snow – 2013

Sean Markey | snow day

Say hello to the first snow storm of 2013.  It was quite unexpected!

I snapped this pic as Beth and I were leaving for work.  The only shoes I have are minimalist sandals, so it was a very interesting, cold morning.  Time to go shopping for some proper winter shoes, I guess!


Perfect Snowflakes

Today it snowed big giant flakes, and then it stopped.

And then it started snowing tiny perfect snowflakes.  Usually the snow is just a white blob, something undefined.  But these were visibly symmetrical.  It was really difficult to capture them on camera, but in a few pictures you can see one or two really well defined.  Just imagine that ALL the white ones looks like that.


(click to see a bigger version)

Snow Picture



Nano 2012

National Novel Writing MonthWe meet again, NaNoWriMo.

Since 2006, I have tried for nearly every year to complete this novel-writing challenge.  50,000 words in a month?  I should be able to do that.  I’m a fast typer, I like to write and am willing to devote hours to it at a time.

But it hasn’t been so easy.

I’ve struggled with being a neurotic perfectionist, and I’ve struggled with not planning my novels very well, so that I start flailing around after about 15,000 words, and then it’s all crash and burn.

This Time…

This year it will be different.  This year, with the help of my awesome wife, Beth, I have planned out my novel, and have done some good brain work to reduce the anxiety that I have about not writing a perfect, stellar first draft.

This year, it’s just about writing.  So I’m gonna write.  Maybe it won’t be very good, but it’ll be finished.  That’s the big goal.

Business + Nano

I think starting a business in October and spending a lot of time working on website and working with clients helps to minimize the amount of time spent worrying about the novel.  Previously, I could afford to spend hours THINKING and FREAKING about the novel, and a little time writing it.  Now, now I have Things To Do, and that’s SRS BSNSS, so I only have a little bit of spare time in which to write.

If all goes well, I’ll hit 50,000 words on November 30th, and will update on my progress along the way.

Now, I must got and write today’s 1667 words.

Wish me luck!