I think it was back around high school or so when I started hearing a lot about this person. My mom, in her usual way, was very excited about connecting with her cousin - she had been a flower girl at the wedding of Joe's parents long long ago when she was five or six, and had grown up knowing him. Joe had become a potter, and has become quite well known. In fact, mom found out that someone had made a documentary about him called The Potter's Wheel. Mom and Dad made it a point to drive to Spring City once or twice a year to say hello and purchase some pottery. Slowly over the years our home began to fill with lots of fun (and heavy) items like giant salad bowls, 10" tall mugs, pitchers - amazing stuff. I think it's great how my mom showed her love of her cousin and of the arts by continually collecting so much pottery. Another cool thing about Joe is that he's married to an amazing artist - Lee Udall Bennion, who works in oils. She is also definitely on the map in the art world. I love her paintings so much. Google her.
I always felt an interest in the Bennions and was excited and grateful to have this connection, but every time I joined my parents in a trip to Spring City, they never happened to be around. But I always felt connected anyway. In the years since then Joe has taken an interest in social media and does a lot of posting on Facebook and Instagram. I was tickled to touch base that way, and have really really enjoyed learning more about this amazing couple through his posts. More and more I felt strongly that I wanted to get to Spring City and meet them myself and somehow get to be more personally friendly. Well, when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and as she steadily became more and more ill, Joe actually reached out to me, especially near the end of her life. We chatted a bit via email and such. I again felt a strengthening desire to build my own friendship with him and Lee.
In the summer, when mom passed, the Bennions were set to be out of town during her funeral and we were both disappointed that they'd miss the funeral as well as meeting one another. I let him know I'd make a visit as soon as I could, but the summer proved a challenging time to connect as he is often taking groups of folks on river trips. However, October finally ended up being the right time and I was so happy that my girls were game to make our traveling day a rather long one.
We had to fight some traffic getting out of town of course but eventually got to the countryside southwest of Nephi and really enjoyed the beautiful views. We found our way to Horseshoe Mountain Pottery and were very happy to finally meet Joe. Sadly, Lee was not around that day, so I guess I have to go back.
We chatted in his studio for a while - I was nervous that I'd really want to talk but would have nothing to say but Joe is an amiable guy and we didn't run out of conversation at all. I was so grateful to my girls for not once asking to leave or getting impatient. They really knew and respected how important this was to me. We picked out some treasures - a honey pot and a couple of little mini drinking vessels that I keep on the counter because there is just something about them that totally sparks my joy. We then strolled down to the local cafe, Das Cafe. I was so pleased when Joe suggested going since half of his posts seem to happen there as he meets with friends. I had always wanted to try it and was so happy he was willing to spend some time with us. The girls were cute and took a couple of pictures as we walked along.
I was so happy to finally get to Spring City. I just need to figure out how soon it's polite to go back and what else I can do to foster a real friendship. Don't ask me why this cousin-hood feels closer to me than so many of my mom's other 100s of cousins (literally) but it just does. I feel like these are my people I want to be more like them.
Getting out of Spring City caused me problems because I forgot to go back quite the same way I came in so our continuing trip to St. George was extra scenic, but that's ok. The girls and I had a lovely day traveling together, listening to music and getting treats. I just loved this day so much.
St. George was a treat as always. We filled our days with visits to the park, late night trips to get Sonic fries, and also we had this great afternoon in Sheri's parents' back yard. There's a climbing wall there and both of my girls were really hesitant to try it out and I could tell they both were going to feel really bad if they didn't try but were quite scared to climb it. I was very grateful to Sheri's dad who was calm and so supportive of them. They both climbed to the top and once they summited the first time they wanted to go about 20 times each again after that. Gordon was excited that they were excited and was happy for them to climb the wall as many times as they wanted. I was thrilled that they felt so successful.
Oh yes and also we went and had dinner with my dear friend Marsha who moved to St. George like four years ago. I really love her! It's so funny, we hardly stay in touch but when we see each other its so happy. Our girls get along so well, even though they don't really stay in touch either!! We just had burgers and Marsha was super nice and invited Peter and Sheri too - Peter teaches her son cello so that's awesome.
Another fun activity was taking a morning to see Siena and Cara compete in a Jr. Triathlon - wow. That's so foreign to our family. They were awesome!
A memorable weekend. I'm grateful for that weekend. And NOW can I start blogging about November?