Who Brought The Snacks?

Well, we flew into Salt Lake yesterday, and after a brief trip to REI for supplies and dinner/drinks at Squatter's downtown (and some gummy raspberries in honor of my sister), we've piled into our [awesome] burnt orange rental car, and are headed off into the dusty hills. Have I ever mentioned the love affair C and I have for burnt orange? Well, we do. If I can talk him into it, we'll take a picture of us with all of our burnt orange apparel and gear, leaning against our burnt orange Dodge Caliber. You'll like it, and it will affirm the idea that we're as un-trendy as two people could possibly be. This traveling roadshow likes us some burnt orange as well as some deep, satisfying 1991-era teal green. Yeah, we aren't just out of style, we're out of touch.


Blow Out Them Candles, Girl

  • She shared her toys with me.
  • She and I wore matching outfits at each Christmas service, thanks to Grandma V.
  • She helped me build innumerable forts in the living room, with space for all of our animals (which was no easy task).
  • She wore stretchy pants with me during the 80's, and taught me how to tie a knot in the bottom of my oversized t-shirt, a la Saved By The Bell.
  • She traded candy with me at Easter and Halloween, so that she could have all the Sugar Daddies.
  • As a child she took my punishment 99.9% of the time (I don't know that I've ever adequately thanked you).
  • She chased me into a cedar tree, then threw acorns at me during the Harvest Party of 1996, accompanied by dozens of our classmates (I do still hate you a little for that). 
(A quick glimpse into how popular I was in middle school.)
  • She shared her high school experience with an annoying younger tag-along. 
  • She shared her college experience with an annoying younger tag-along.
  • She taught me how to study harder, work more diligently, and be more faithful to my friends (I think that I, in turn, taught her how to neglect her work and stay up late making cookies).
  • To this day, she is a refuge and confidant for those who are struggling or in pain; quick to listen and slow to speak.
  • She is a breathtaking example of service and dedication to work or peers.
  • She is strong, but humble.
  • She manages to out-do, out-give, out-think, out-laugh and out-smile anyone I know.  
And she does all this while being the most gorgeous woman alive.

The world needs more people like you, R.  But I only need one. 

Happy Birthday, big sister.  You make my world a better place.


And It Was A Day That Lived On In Their Hearts And Minds

C and I are on the road today, traveling south for a work meeting plus some quality time with the family dentist, and something monumental just happened.

I looked up to see C pull off of the highway. He explained that he needed to stop and take a leak.


I can't remember the last time that C asked to use a bathroom. He never has to, because I need to pee the same way a mom of eight needs a moment of silence. One learns that you must take every available opportunity, because who knows when you will find yourself stuck on the George Washington Bridge in a van full of children with nary a public bathroom in sight. I once relieved myself in the JFK short-term parking lot, and ever since then I refuse to miss a potty stop (or wooded area).

So, I repeat, this is monumental. And I literally cannot remember the last time this happened. Probably, it never did.


Flash Cards Would Have Helped

Here's some northern vocabulary for you to touch up on before you plan your next visit.  Along with a map, some freeze dried game meat and an emergency blanket, C and I are thinking of including this sheet in a little "welcome to the woods" travel kit.  What do you think?

Feller Buncher: No, this doesn’t pile your favorite bachelors into a nice heap.  It is that oil-burning piece of heavy machinery you might remember from Fern Gulley (I believe it breathed fire, had rather sinister eyes, and was called Hexxus), and is currently used to harvest trees in the logging industry.

A gift idea for that little forester in the family. 

Coppah Wiyah: This is used by electricians and north country dentists.  As in, you wrap that coppah wiyah ‘round your tooth and ‘round a big rock, then drop that rock off a second story window.  Bangah!  

Sled: Let that image of a flexible flyer slide right off the edge of the perfect snow hill of your memory.  For me, the term now conjures up the smell of a two-stroke engine, giant helmets and a duct-taped seat.  I’d like to go back to my childhood, please. 

Flatlander: In a nutshell, this applies to you, me, and everyone except the speaker, even if they’re secretly not from around heya' themselves.  Also, this is generally used as a derogatory term, but I'm starting to embrace it.  There may or may not be Flatlander bike jerseys in the works. 

Beaverish: I assume this was originally used by a couple of old trappers to describe a water body frequented by beavers, but C and I use this term to refer to any shifty-looking liquid.  I think that an Arnold Palmer on ice looks mighty beaverish, but that’s just me.  C seems to like the beverage just fine.  

(By the way, how wonderfully cute is Arnold Palmer??)

Downrivah:  If you aren't headed to Canada, you're going this way.

When you come up for a visit, it will help if you study these terms before you leave home.  Also, practice employing them in daily conversation.  

For example: I've had enough of the beaverish coffee up heya' - it's rotted my teeth so bad that I'm running out of coppah wiyah.

Or: I'm going to need to take the sled out to have a look at that broken down feller buncher on the trail.  

Or, C's favorite: M, there's a sled for sale downrivah, and it's just your size...

Practice makes perfect, so get cracking.  There's plenty more where this came from.


C just informed me that proper coppah wiyah use is as following:

1. Climb tree.
2. Tie coppah wiyah to tooth.
3. Tie coppah wiyah to tree.
4. Jump.

Also, this is apparently called "jumping a tooth".  I can't imagine why.


Seven Plus Five

In exactly twelve days, I will be on a plane, headed west.  I cannot adequately phrase how overwhelmed I am by childlike anticipation for this trip.  Believe it or not, I may be more excited for this 10-day stretch than I was for our honeymoon.  All we had to do on that jaunt was decide if so much guacamole could be considered unhealthy, and whether we should deposit our bits and pieces by the interconnected pool or on the secluded beach (as well as where to stash the bacon we lifted from the breakfast buffet).

C and I are soon headed to what is becoming one of our favorite places on earth: Utah.  Before your mind starts swimming in thoughts of the two of us on some compound in the hills, me barefoot and struggling to hold one screaming infant in each arm, C walking a plow behind a mule, and our 15 other sister-wives inside the pueblo peeling potatoes and making baskets to sell to the tourists, hold up.  Last fall, we decided to celebrate our 5th anniversary with a crazy camping vacation to the southwest.  See, both of us have been fortunate enough to, during our respective childhoods, travel overseas a little bit, and I for one, have found in my relative adulthood that I have a feverish desire to see America. 

Our 2010 plans took us to Zion Canyon, in southwest Utah, where we found ourselves completely dwarfed by the orange stripes of Navajo sandstone and pale gold limestone rising half a mile above us.  Zion is what Shangri-La must look like after a day crisping in the sun.  It is simultaneously arid and cool, lofty and shallow, extremely sparse and astoundingly fertile.  I have never found myself in a place so very welcoming while also so unapologetically austere.  It’s hard to describe, but as we prepare to return to the area (this time to the southeast of the state), I randomly find myself fantasizing of my first moments in that bright, sandy landscape.  All I want is to lay my body down on the hot rusty stone and stare into the bright turquoise expanse of sky – to feel the beating rays of the sun on my face and the radiant heat of the earth on my back.  I want to taste the dust in my mouth and feel the swirling aroma of pine and juniper overwhelm my senses.

The north end of Zion Canyon narrows to a small chute at a point named the Temple of Sinawava (Sinawava was the Coyote god of the Paiutes).  It seems obvious that people would come to a place like this and expect to offer some form of worship.  There are geographic landmarks with names like Angel’s Landing, Court of the Patriarchs, and The Great White Throne which all allude to the canyon's role in various spiritual traditions.  I do acknowledge that many of the titles administered to Zion’s landscape can be attributed to the influence of Mormon settlers in the mid-nineteenth century, and that some may find the imagery of The Altar of Sacrifice a teensy bit sinister.  I have to admit that likewise, I don’t really want to hike up and check for bloodstains. However, the canyon’s vast panoramic nature does demand a certain humility and submission from it’s patrons, not unlike the spiritual kind.  It’s like the earth speaks and insists that you think of more than yourself for a little while.  It practically begs it of you.

If you shut your eyes and inhale deeply, I swear you can almost feel the warm, dusty breeze.

Twelve days


And That's Why I Run Like Someone's Chasing Me

I went for a jog yesterday, to let my arms and legs swim in that fall air a little bit and feel the sun on my increasingly pasty, lifeless skin (and hopefully to leave behind a little of the extra butt jiggle I’ve accumulated in the last couple of busy, hurried-dinner months).  There was a point, after I’d turned around and was clip-clopping back home when I looked up into the cloudy sky to see a group of falcons that had gathered overhead.  Like any normal person, I figured that they must have found some weak or dying prey to feast on.  That poor animal.  What a way to go – picked apart by birds, which of course are the closest descendants of dinosaurs, with fewer scales and less soul. 

But suddenly I was filled with a deep dread.  They’ve seen me run. 

There are some days when if you were to ask me if I was athletic, I’d respond with something like. “Sure, I do stuff”.   However, I’m realizing that in life, if you play soccer with the preschool crowd at camp, it doesn’t make you a soccer player, and if you do a log roll down a hill, (and this was the hard one, folks) it doesn’t make you a competitive gymnast, even if there are others rolling with you.  These lessons have not come easy to me, but one truth that is totally clear at this point is that I am an ugly runner.  I mean, ugly as sin.  Every time I see a picture of what I look like during a jog, I think that there must be someone walking briskly 20 yards behind me, scrubbed-up and ready with a gurney and a defibrillator.  When I run, I look like I’m going to have a heart attack and die.  And this is only my opinion.  Imagine what other people think.

So the falcons have seen me.  And now I know that I’m never going to make it home…I’m going to trip and fall on the shoulder of this road, injured and alone, and no one’s going to drive by (no surprise), and the birds are going to tear me apart, bit by stringy bit.  It was as if these things just took one look at the way I was running, and thought, “Yeah, we could go chase injured mice and scoop dead fish up out of the river, but come on, this one has all the makings of an easy dinner.  She’s doing the work for us”.

As you can guess, this was awesome for my self-esteem.

So I pick up my pace a little (to the speed of your average toddler) and focus my eyes on the pavement in front of my feet.  I will not trip, I will not trip, I will not trip.  I know that if I trip and skin my knee, the birds will smell the blood in the air and be on me like mud on a pig, and it will be over faster than you can say “road-kill cafe”.

So I slowly jogged my way home, meandering the whole way, because after all, my gaze was firmly centered on the 5-foot length in front of my shoes.  And I must have been a sight, huffing and puffing with my path squiggling this way and that, while randomly snatching quick glances overhead with an expression of fear that would suggest that I had experienced a complete psychological breakdown.  And when I scrambled in the front door and slammed it loudly behind me, you would have thought that I just escaped the grasp of a deadly assassin. 

And I had.  And it was scaly and smelly and clawed.  So today, I will conduct my athletic alchemy indoors, via dvd.  But I know the falcons are still perched somewhere out there, watching and waiting.  I'll have to come out one day, and they'll be ready for me.


And Now I Pronounce You Husband And Cat-Lady

6 years ago yesterday, I walked barefoot down my childhood front lawn and skittered into place alongside the Adonis that I woke up next to this morning. Scratch that – he woke up at 6am, I woke up at 9:45, so I suppose that should read “that guy that I fell asleep next to last night.”

Marriage is a delicate piece of art, I think: beautifully intricate with sharp edges and complex details, hard to balance, and ultimately… wicked easy to break.  I like to think that I’m still pretty young [at 28], but even now, I have peers at seemingly every stage of the marriage game. 

Some friends are experiencing that intoxicating punch-drunk love of a new relationship, hanging on the every chirp of their lover, and sweeping most contradictions or character flaws under the living room carpet, knowing for sure that “they won’t always be like that”.  While sweet, this makes me giggle and snort a little, because the substance of what C had to deal with years ago… well, let’s just say that they don’t make rugs that big.

Other friends have just tied the knot/sealed the deal/bit the bullet/jumped the broom/taken the plunge.  If you are, or have ever been married, you remember the mixed emotions that live here: you are elated to finally have crossed such a thick line intact, but are repeatedly faced with the reality that your spouse is in one day able to slide into a hot getup for a friend’s wedding in the afternoon, then impress you post-event by farting under the covers all night due to the amount of cocktail hour pot-stickers he/she consumed at the expense of Mrs. Newlywed’s parents.  I like to refer to this stage of marriage as the “shock and awe” segment of the game.  The jury is still out back deliberating punishment for crimes like this.

I have friends and mentors that are nearing (or have reached) the 30 and 40-year marks of their journey, and they have somehow (my parents included) managed not to kill each other, if only by a small margin of error.  Still, these are my heroes.  In that instance when I find every drawer open and the toilet unflushed (again), I wonder how these individuals restrained from putting a few drops of laxative in the next morning’s French roast.  Though when I realize that I’ve begged him to scratch my back/rub my feet/massage my scalp every night for the last 5+ years (and he has obliged, more than 1,800 times), I’m surprised that C hasn’t suffocated me in my sleep and rolled me out the back door, if only because his hands just can’t take it anymore

There are others in my life that are going through, or have already endured the indescribable pain and confusion of dissolving their marriages.  When I’ve watched this process or heard their stories, I think of how an amputee must feel after surgery.  Regardless of the disease, the gangrene, the pain of the limb in question, the loss is felt at almost an atomic level.  Something that was, is no longer.  I know that my tears don’t change or mend any part of the wound, but most of the time I can’t help but offer them anyway.  I can only be thankful for what I, at this moment, do have. 

So C, thanks a bunch.  You’ve made this 6-year road trip a good one.  Thanks for hitting all the rest stops (and some of the wooded areas) so that I can pee every half-hour, and for letting us get ice cream to break up the long stretches.  When you’ve felt like leaving me at the Auntie Anne’s Pretzel shop because I’ve asked you to slow down again, or I’ve brought the cat in the car with us, which is always a bad idea, thank you for instead parking us at a scenic overlook so we can each take a short walk in opposite directions and start the next leg of the trip fresh. 

Thank you, I love you.  You make my life a better journey. 

With more snacks.

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