Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rockclimbing Mecca

Rock climbers from all over the world come to a forested area near us to test their skills. Maple Canyon is known not only for being a gathering place for climbers but also for its beautiful fall colors.

Yesterday various members of our extended family took a day trip to the canyon for picnicking, sightseeing and mild hiking and rock climbing. Enjoy the many beautiful sights of Maple Canyon!

Can you see a very tiny Weston waving near the top?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's in Your Backyard?

Utah has been home now for thirteen years. I wasn’t able to travel much for the first nine years, because of work schedules. Since I left the working world behind and no longer spend sixty hours a week consumed with managing a business, my backyard has suddenly gotten bigger, and the vista outside my window more expansive.

By adopting a one-income lifestyle, we have made many sacrifices.  One of the advantages though of reduced income is that we spend more time hanging out in our own neighborhood. We spend a day or an afternoon exploring the beauties of surrounding areas.

About 45 minutes away from our house is a mountain majesty that erupts from the landscape, unembarrassed at having shamed its more diminutive neighbors. From late fall until early summer the sharp peak is snow-capped and foreboding. For those brief few months during which the snow has melted, drivers attempt the winding ascent and are rewarded with regal beauty. 

Last Sunday we ventured upward, despite the area being blanketed by smoke from nearby forest fires. Sometimes our greatest adventures truly do take place in our own back yards. We timed our visit as the trees began their autumnal changing of the color guard.

As we swerved around one of the curves ( give a man a winding mountain road and he will navigate it as if he were James Bond,) we saw a sign that said "Geologic Outcrop."  Curious, we slowed, stopped, and got out of the car. From the road we had not seen a paved path that led away from the small parking lot.  Weston and Hoolie immediately saw the path as an invitation to run ahead so the adults dutifully followed behind.

At the end of the path, we realized that the "Geologic Outcrop" sign was woefully understated. Instead, the sign should have portrayed a stick figure waving madly saying, "Oh man, you have got to see this. If you don't stop that car RIGHT NOW you will regret it, I promise."


Look! It's Bluto from Labyrinth!

Right there in our own back yard. Forty-five minutes away. Who knew.
And a little farther down the road...

Oh yes. That's my son. Running toward a cliff.  If I make it til he's eighteen...

So. What's in your backyard?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

When You're Strange...

My daughter Em confesses that she cannot leave the house in the morning with the bed unmade. No matter what other distractions are going on in her life, she can claim “inner peace” if she knows her bed covers are neatly arranged. 

I have the same idiosyncrasy. A made bed is a place of instant refuge where I can fold clothes, spread out homework, or talk to a son. An unmade bed leaves me feeling that not only is my bed out of order, but my entire house.

Her confession got me thinking about the odd little things that make us unique--those things that mark us as individuals. For example, Gnome can mess up a cliché better than anyone I know.

Gnome: What’s it called when something is like a conglomeration for a tragedy?
Neo: You mean a recipe for disaster?

Son Weston also has his own little oddities.

1.    He refuses to eat from silverware. Only plastic will do. He doesn’t like metal in his mouth.

2.    He won’t wear work gloves if someone else wore them first because he doesn’t want to touch someone else’s sweat.

3.    At night, after I sit with him for a few minutes in his room, he must yell one more “I love you,” after I close his door. If he thinks I haven’t heard him, he will keep yelling it until he hears me yell it in return.

4.    He won’t let me dish up his food until he has inspected his plate and cup to make sure there are no residual food pieces that the dishwasher didn’t catch.  My word isn’t enough.

Computer Geek has a few little strange habits of his own.

1.    He is very mild tempered. He only yells when the TV is on and a politician is spouting some intentional disinformation. “Which is pretty much any time they talk,” he says. If the news is on, you can pretty much expect the obscenities to be rolling at our house. Loudly.

2.    When he drives, he gravitates toward oncoming traffic. It’s scawy.

3.    The eggs in the carton must always be symmetrical.  This is what I saw when I opened the carton the other day:

You didn’t think I would expose the bizarre habits of others without throwing in a few of my own, did you?

1.    I can fall asleep anytime, anywhere. I have been known to sit down at my computer after school and wake up an hour later. Today I sat on the couch and woke up three hours later. If CG and I are driving somewhere and it takes ten minutes, I can tell him “Wake me up when we get there,” and have a good nap. But, when it’s night, and it’s actually time to sleep in my bed I can’t go to sleep unless a fan is blowing.

2.    Onions are anathema to me. I look for them in the ingredients of any entrée. At restaurants, I always have to ask if the item is made with onions. I have discovered a truth—people who don’t hate onions lie. They tell me there are no onions when really there are. Mom.

3.    I could eat a whole carton of ice cream by myself. I’ve never done it, because I don’t want to have to admit to the rest of the family that I ate all the ice cream, but I know I could if I had to.

Well, it’s off to bed for me. With my fan. But before I go I want to know-- What are some of your little idiosyncrasies?

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm Turning Domestic, I Really Think So

When I was in high school my dad strongly suggested that I take typing courses.

I would have no part of it. Typing courses were for those girls who would settle for being secretaries, while I had more important courses to take, such as chemistry, trigonometry, analysis, psychology and world literature. Why waste a valuable class hour on business math (snicker) or typing?

“I’m just saying that if you have typing skills, you’ll always have something to fall back on.”

“Dad, I’m not going to be a secretary. I’m going to have a secretary.”

I grew up and for nine years after college was a bookkeeper for a local restaurant. Part of my job involved, um, typing. I had to type the daily menus for the display board, type letters to customers and vendors, and type updates for the region-wide employee newsletter. Boy, was I shocked when my boss gave me a nice flower arrangement for Secretary’s Day!

During that nine years I had two beautiful baby girls and went through a financially devastating divorce. Also during that nine years, an astounding piece of work called the personal computer was made available for home use.

I left the restaurant and went to work for an audiologist (more secretarial work,) and ended up working at a business that manufactured personal computers.  There I graduated from typing on a typewriter to pounding the keys on a Gateway programmable keyboard, oh yeah! I worked in management there as a team leader until I moved to Utah, where I got a job managing a cell phone store. More business math, more typing, and more establishing my identity as a business manager and working mother.  My favorite TV show was The Apprentice, because I could identify. It also gave me the stamina to face another day at work.

For those who have never been working mothers, let me tell you a little secret—working moms don’t have time to eat properly, much less learn to can vegetables or sew or plant a garden. Working mothers get by. They make sure their living rooms are spotless so that when company comes, they can confine them to the one room they had time to clean. Never ask to use a working mother’s bathroom when you visit her at home because she will die just a little inside.

When my husband told me in 2007, that I could quit working at the cell phone store that I had managed for eight years, I was ecstatic, yet dumbfounded. How would I spend that extra sixty hours per week?  Would I become one of those women for whom I had previously had very little patience? You know, one of those women who thought going to the grocery store qualified as stress?

One of the first things I did was to plant a garden, with the help of the family. I think we got about four or five tomatoes, a cucumber, a cantaloupe that turned rotten on the vine before I knew it was there, and a watermelon that never grew past fist size.

I also took sewing lessons, where I made these cool-guy camo curtains for my son’s room, and a pair of pajama pants for him.

In the fall of that year, I began teaching school, but because I teach where my son attends, I still consider myself a stay at home mom( SAHM in internet lingo.) I spend about 35 hours a week on school, between teaching, preparing, and grading, but because I get a massive four month vacation in the summer and because I love teaching, I feel that I am still in the ranks of the SAHMs.

This year, for the first time in four years, our garden has produced food that we can eat. Saturday, Computer Geek and I pulled the following from our garden—about one hundred cherry tomatoes, around thirty regular tomatoes, ten-ish green peppers, ten-ish jalapeno peppers, two heads of red cabbage, and some broccoli. We are still waiting on the pumpkins (we had six at last count,) the corn, the potatoes and more tomatoes. We are slicing off lettuce leaves as we need them.

I proudly display here my first batch of salsa, using tomatoes and green and jalapeno peppers from the garden.

 I am woman!

I had to borrow an onion from Em, because being an avowed onion-hater, I had no such item in my home. (Perhaps I will enlighten you on this phobia in another post.)  For those of you who have been domesticated for a long time, I realize that this is not canned properly. It is for short term use in my fridge. Learning how to can is a domestic adventure for another year.  For now, I am happy to have sewn something four years ago, and to have had a successful garden for the first time ever this year.  And maybe, just maybe, in a year soon to come, I will break away from my three-fingered habit and learn how to type. But don’t tell my dad.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Toughness---It's Hereditary

Support your local tough guy today!

Unca G 
"U make-a funna my shirt, I smacka u face."

"Yeah, so I like Pink. She's still a rock star. She's got her rock moves. I'm gonna get
in trouble, I wanna start a fight."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weston's World

My baby turned twelve the other day.  He’s now the same age as my previous baby (Kay) was, when I had him. As I left the hospital, they told me that I would qualify for the government WIC [Women, Infants, Children] program because of three factors—

1.    Maternal age. I was thirty-eight.
2.    Income. I had not been working because I had a blood clot in my lung and was bedridden due to going into labor at four months.
3.    Short time since last pregnancy.  Serious?  Really? Twelve years since I had my last child and they consider that a short time between pregnancies?

So. He’s twelve. Time for another one?  No way!  I am having too much fun watching grandchildren come into the world and playing with them.  I do enjoy, however, that there is only a five year difference between my son and my first grandson.  It’s fun to see them play together and I like seeing Weston’s clothes revamped into use for Avatar.

I interviewed Weston in honor of his birthday.  I hope that you enjoy getting to know him better.

1.    If you could eat anything you wanted for a meal, what would you pick?  A sixteen-inch meat combo Cavalier’s [local place] pizza, seven-layer bars, really great purple grapes and Welch’s grape juice.

2.    If you could have anything you wanted for your birthday, what would it be?  A four-wheeler that can jump really well, an extremely good laptop, and a Jamis Parker mountain bike.

3.    What chore do you hate the worst?  Unloading the dishwasher.

4.    What is your favorite color?  Blue.

5.    What is your favorite movie? Avatar, the James Cameron one, not Airbender.

6.    What is your favorite song?  Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell. [The boy is right. Awesome song. Go here to listen for yourself.]

7.    What are your favorite TV shows?  Cake Boss, Bear Grylls [Man vs. Wild,] Wipeout, 24, Lost and How It’s Made.

8.    What place that you’ve visited was your favorite?  Seven Peaks.

9.    If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  To the best biking place ever.

10.  What is your favorite class at school?  Computers.

11.  What is the worst problem in the world?  You mean the worst math problem? No, I mean a problem that affects people in the world. Wars.

12.    What is your favorite book?  The Percy Jackson series.

13.    What was the scariest thing that ever happened to you?  It was when I was stuck on a ridge at Goblin Valley. On one side it was a fifty foot drop. On the other side it was a ten foot drop into soft sand but I couldn’t jump there because Brian peed there. Brian finally came and helped me down because he is 6’6”.

14.    What is the best thing that ever happened in your life?  I was born.

Here are a few more facts about Weston that weren’t covered in the interview.

He can’t sit still. If someone tries to make him, he will immediately start making sound effects, which turns into motions to accompany those sounds, which means he is no longer sitting still.

He began making sound effects when he was about sixteen months old. I first noticed it one morning when I saw him pushing around a piece of cereal, making vroom noises.

I was on the phone talking to a friend when he was eighteen months old. He toddled into my bedroom and handed me a bolt.  I said, “Thank you,” and continued talking. He came back in carrying a nut. I again thanked him, and went on talking to my friend. On his third trip to my room, I thought it a little odd that he was bringing me more nuts and bolts. Had he gotten into the tool drawer, which I thought only contained hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches? I remarked to the friend, “He keeps bringing me nuts and bolts.” We both laughed. It was when he brought me a foot-long piece of wood that I told the friend to hang on because I had to go see what he was doing. I came back to tell her that he had dismantled, without any tools, my magazine rack. 

Pink used to be his favorite color, but at long last he has succumbed to peer pressure and says his favorite color is blue. He has a t-shirt that says “Tough Guys Wear Pink.”

He detests onions. I am so proud.

When he was young he used to try to sing like an opera star. He loves Il Divo.

He hates to read, but loves to be read to.

School is torture for him but we can spend hours each week looking up answers to his questions.

He is a businessman at heart. When I managed a cell phone store, he used to open the door for my customers and offer to get them a drink. He would keep them busy talking while they were waiting for help. Last year he bought calendars and sold them at a profit. He currently has more money in his wallet than I do.

I have never had to worry about his cleanliness.  This kid has loved to take long showers since toddlerhood, sometimes more than one in a day. The down side? He inspects every plate, cup and fork before eating his meal. Felix. Felix Unger.

Weston’s bestest bud since he could crawl is a sensitive redhead we call He’s Hot. [Because he really is. Just ask him.]  Weston and He’s Hot have looked out for each other since they were small guys. They’ve got each other's backs. We gave He’s Hot a ride home one time when he was lots younger. As he ran up his driveway, he wiped out on the gravel and got hurt. Weston saw it happen and said, “I wish that would have happened to me instead.”  Another time, Weston was left standing outside the school building after classes by a delinquent parental unit.  He’s Hot asked his mom to please take Weston home. “Mom, friends don’t let friends stand in the cold.”  Recently Weston remarked, “Mom, no one understands me like He’s Hot.”

As far as inanimate best friends go, the winner would definitely be Monkey.  Monkey is a stuffed monkey, natch, that rarely spends a night away from Weston. In fact, Monkey insists on sleeping right next to Weston every night. Monkey has owned Weston for about six years.  They were brought together by Weston’s father, who was living far away in California at the time.  On Weston’s sixth birthday, he opened the box that was UPS’d from California to find Monkey staring right at him. The imprinting was immediate and complete.

[What? Oh, okay. Monkey wants me to tell you the story of how he almost died.] Two years ago, my husband was one of several winners of a workplace contest. As a winner, he and his family were to be treated to a weekend on his boss’s houseboat at Lake Powell. When we got there, we had to wheel all of our belongings in a cart down through the maze of docks, until we reached the houseboat. It was the farthest away because it was the largest houseboat on the lake. Monkey, sitting on top of the cart, had gotten jostled during the long ride. When we finally reached the houseboat, Monkey did an amazing dive from the cart and landed face-first in the water between the dock and the houseboat. [I did not push you!]  Luckily Weston was small enough to wiggle his body down in the tight space and was able to retrieve Monkey before he was saturated and faced an untimely drowning. It was a horrific few moments for all of us.

Happy twelfth birthday, Weston, and Happy sixth birthday, Monkey. May you have many more wonderful years ahead of you.
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