Monday, July 28, 2008

Life Is (Was?) a Vacation

tThe nice thing about moving closer to home and close to vacation spots is that people come to visit you. Egg’s mom and step-dad came down for a week. Unpacking and moving furniture sucked the life out of the first few days but by Wednesday, we were in adventure mode. On Wednesday, up the ski lift to the highest peak. The chair lift was so slow— letting on people who do not usually ski takes many a brake-lever and backwards-moving motion. It was no quad so on top of the slow-down per rider, it went trudged up the hill but the views of the peaks and the valleys and the Grand Canyon off in the distance made it worth it. At the top, we learned about a prehistoric yellow-flowered plant whose protected status meant there was no climbing down the mountain. We weren’t planning to hike down anyway because we had the Z, but the thought of the slow-speeded chair lift almost made us want to attempt it. The next day, amazing ruins. The solidness of the Pueblo architecture impressed. The layers of rock and mortar lasting 500 years—most of them without the care (or the misguided re-building, ranger-living-inside-of, re-enactments-on-top-of and kicking the modern natives out of) and help of the National Forest Service. The next day, red rocks and Z climbing high on boulders and vortices and a shared porterhouse with my step-dad-in-law, known more easily as my Rick. Then, Z’s birthday with the mountain biking, Saturday’s Prairie Dog Town Visit and last week’s adventure to Lower Lake Mary (empty), Upper Lake Mary (wide and shallow) and Marshall Lake (odd and sedge-filled with many a noisy but hidden duck).

Whilst Dr. Write and Middlebrow and son visited (starring as the most delightful visitors of all time), we went to the in-town forested park to watch Egg and Middlebrow finish up their game of disc golf. We stopped downtown for a beer and then came home to tacos and more beer and wine. The next day, we drove both of our front-wheel drive cars toward the ski resort, taking a left down a bumpy and muddy Forest Road 245 and another left on Forest Service Road 171 to the damp and dark caves. The lava was hard on the knees and the climb hard on the thighs. The tourists were too many to enjoy the experience entirely but Z and Son did a great job climbing pretty far in. The sheer number of people made the place more claustrophobic than the narrow and the dark parts. I kept imagining having to climb over people to get out. And that would be rude. But necessary. We returned home to more rain, more wine and beer, more great times.

We have one more set of visitors due this weekend but it’s already feeling like the end of vacation times. Egg went to work at a horrible job because nothing great has turned up yet. I have to go back to GR for a student scholarship thing (not so fun) and a wedding (yay!) I am working on syllabi and readings and finishing up summer writing projects. I plan to visit Z’s school this week. Do dry-cleaning. Perhaps someone else can schedule a visit so the summer isn’t really over. I could live in vacation-time all the time. I really like adventures with such fine folks all around this town.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Copying Dr. Write

Who knew Dr. Write and I liked like so much.

We're metaphorists at heart. Or girls from the valley.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A little weird

This Ponderosa-filled town is weird. All towns are weird but this one seems particularly paradoxical. It's in the mountains but it's in the desert so it's hot with both the desert and sun so close but cool with the elevation and the monsoons. It's a small town but it appears to be transportation central--planes, trains and cars galore. It's pretty difficult to travel through because of all the other modes of transportation and other cars in your way. It's full of super rich people because people buy their summer homes here to escape the desert but super poor because there's no real industry except for the University to support those who live here year round. A summertime economy does not a middle-class make. There's a lot of chain stores and some cute boutiques but not so many locally-owned mid-sized shops. There lots of people here with fancy kitchens but no gourmet store. There are a lot of wine and beer shops but no real bakeries or deli's, at least as far as I've discovered. I'm still on the hunt for deliciousness and the farmer's market has been great. Tomatoes already!

The mountains are spectacular--we watch the sunset from the porch every night and the trails behind the house are lined with Indian Paintbrush and Lupine and little yellow flowers and Rabbit Brush and, of course, Ponderosas.

It's really beautiful, a little noisy, and the downtown area is full of cuteness. On Saturday night, we went downtown and ate good sushi. Z ate her edamame with chopsticks!

As long as we have access to some good fish, wine and beer, and fun places to walk, I think we're pretty happy.--except for the part when we actually might need to go back to work. I've already begun constructing lectures in my head. Lectures with the words "discipline" and "what is the point anyway" in them. Perhaps I'll take one more week to work on my own stuff before I start thinking of ways to torture my new students.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Z's Birthday

An open letter to Z, who turns three,
I think I finally get you. It’s mostly the talking but it’s also the way you make hard things—like moving across the country, saying hello and goodbye to so many people—seem easy. You laugh, over the top, at the tiniest joke. Your favorite joke is this: We don’t swim in your toilet, please don’t pee in our pool. And, for potty training purposes, I’ve adapted it to: We don’t sleep in your Pull-ups, please don’t pee in our bed. If you call out mom, and I answer “Bart” in a low voice, you giggle so hard you snort. Yesterday, in the car, you kept asking us where mom and dad were. I answered, “ummm, right here,” making the “right here” interrupt the “ummm” at new and surprising places. Mostly, you make me feel like a comic genius. Finally, someone recognizes my true talent and I thank you for being so perceptive.
You love to be surprised and so you like hide and seek the best although we’re not sure of the rules of your version. You run and hide for about two seconds and then come find us and say boo. If we’re feeling really lazy, we can get you to hide in a box and you jump out every minute or so and we jump as high as we can get our lazy bones to go, in absolute shock. Where were you? In that box? Just like you were a minute ago?
You do so love to count and yet you’ve banished the numbers 3 and 4 to the end of 10. I know this is just stubbornness on your part but when you start school next month, I bet I’ll sound like one of those poor mothers who really needs to get a grip and realize that her kid’s paste-eating is not a sign of future culinary skill. But really, the 3 and the 4, they pissed you off somehow. Perhaps now that you’re three, you’ll begin to forgive the pair.

You have the narrative gene that must have skipped a generation. Every time before nap, I get a rundown of what just happened and a preview of what will take place after the nap: “Brush teeth, go to the potty, change clothes, make coffee, go on a walk, eat breakfast, brush teeth, go to bed.” Then “Wake up (note that all the phrases lilt up in the end like a question. Not a question if that’s what’s going to happen but a question like, you’re getting this down, right?), play puzzle, hide & seek, play monster, make dinner, find Box (Box has been losing himself in the wilds in the day), change clothes, brush teeth, and go to bed.” Sometimes, we think you’re of Italian heritage because many verbs and nouns have an extra “a” to them: “We go-a to the park. We park-a the car. You also ask-a that if we take-a mom’s car, that I not turna so much. It makes me sick”. It does make you sick. You throw up if I turn too many u-turns looking for a parking place.

You got to spend a lot of time with your Maestra and your grandma and grandpa and your aunts. And your cousins. Lately, the narrative litany of activities included, “go to Maestras” or “Go to Lily and Cam’s,” “are Grandma and Grandpa here yet?” and “go to Salt Lake.” The number of activities attended this summer outweighs the sum total of your life up to this point. You went swimming with KJ, and with Cam and Lil, you went through the forest every day, Mice took you on a bus, on a light rail, and on a choo choo train all in one day. You went kayaking twice and swung on a swing either at Little Hands’ or at Grandma’s every single day. You went to Liberty Park and went on the Ferris Wheel and the Merry-Go-Round. Mice and Bart and I took you and Cam and Lil on the alpine slide. You rode your big wheel that Lil lent you. And, you learned how to be a cool cousin to Cam and Lil. You rode in the car to Ponderosa Town. You went to the peaks here and then the pueblos and then to Red Rock wonder. I hope your birthday holds new adventures: a trip to the lake, a bike ride, maybe a movie???

You still eat a lot of kinds of foods. You now like lettuce once in a while. The other day, you ate your taco like a normal person instead of like your mom who still keeps the meat separate from the cheese from the lettuce from the tortilla. Your palate may have already transcended mine. You still like raw onions, pickles, turkey, sausage, broccoli, peas, and red bell peppers but lately, you’ve liked salmon more than anything. At the wine bar, we had to order a second plate of smoked salmon. You loved it, although the capers, not so much. Two days ago, I was shucking corn and you sat on the counter and ate of two of the cobs, raw. And then you ate another cob for dinner. You love cherries, and, thanks to your grandma, eat around the pit. You love blueberries and strawberries and raspberries like all reasonable humans. You pretend to like coffee and then you take a sip and say “gah, what have I put in my mouth.”

You change clothes 4-5 times a day. You also like to tell me what to wear. “Go upstairs, find a dress, change your clothes. Wear a dress.” I usually comply although lately I’ve been saying, “you get to wear what you want; I’ll wear what I want.” This confounds you. Obviously, you have better fashion sense than I should listen to you. Mice bought you a new purple dress to replace your old purple dress which you wear every day. You also wear the dress that Little Hands got you. Every day. You still like purple but pink is even better. You still don’t like your clothes dirty, but sometimes it seems you spill just as an excuse to change your clothes. You have ways of the girl—all your stuffed animals are babies and you’re the mama. You also like to climb on rocks (and furniture) and go on hikes in the forest (both our backyard, Grandma’s backyard, and the real forest just behind our house). You love to swim and are learning to blow out rather than to suck in, albeit not as fast as you would like.

You sing. A lot. Going on a trip and then add in the people above houses to which we’ll go and mom and dad. Or you’ll sing “we’re on a bike ride, going on a bike ride, bike ride, bike ride” if we are, for instance, on a bike ride. You dance too and can do an arabesque, a leap and downward dog using your head instead of your hands. Many talents you have.

There are some cute and yet, what is the euphemism, challenging elements to the Z. You ask why a lot. Like why are there two lights and three over there? Where is there a stair there? Why is that my plate? Where is the chicken? (In your mouth…) When can I see some ducks? You also say “what” a lot even though you’ve heard exactly what I said (methinks you get this from your dad). My favorite thing about you is how nothing gets by—which is why there’s all those why’s and what’s. A pinecone in the road makes you mad. “Put it over there.” An empty Coke cup in the road, “why?” A raven caws, “what’s that.” The refrigerator kicks on, “what’s that.” You remind me that noise is called “thunder” every time the clouds bang together. You tell me how bright it is when the sun is out and that you need your glasses. Which you keep in your purse. Along with your sunscreen and lip stuff.

You also have a mommy-thing lately which, while sweet for me, isn’t very friendly and is a bit wearing. “Can daddy take you to bed?” No, mommy take you. My likes mommy.” My is I around here sometimes. And sometimes “you” is “me.” I can’t wait to teach her about the accusative case and direct objects. However, you do ask “May I have one more gummy bear” with the diction of a blue blood. I will be sad when proper grammar takes over entirely.

She also refuses to sleep in her new princess room. She sleeps with us. Sometimes she sleeps vertically but not every night. But the cuddling. It’s not so bad. And, you’re a bit of a romantic kisser. One arm behind my neck and you pull me to you like so many princes. You pucker nicely. And the random hugging is pretty nice.

So far this morning we found my sunglasses! Yay! And then we went for a bike ride on your trike with Cleo and you pedaled and steered. Simultaneously. And then your dad and I took you mountain biking on the trails behind the house. You went in the bike seat on the back of my bike. You weigh 33 pounds. Ow. My legs.

We’re off to lunch and then maybe to the lake to see those ducks you’re always asking about.

I hope you have a good birthday Z. I can’t wait to see what adventure is next.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Good and the Bad

I should just follow Lisa B.'s approach toward positive attitudes and such but I think that grousing and kevetching is too much my personality to give up. But I have many goods to counterbalance the bads about Town Named after a Post on which to Hang Something.

The Bads:
  1. The street our house is located on is a highway. It has double solid lines in the middle of it. 5 cars drive down a minute (to be fair, there are many minutes when there are no cars). Still, it gets in the way of my peace and tranquility as well as adds stress to the kid/dog/cat running in the street factor.
  2. This car (really truck), fast driving problem is compounded by the fact that the area we live in does not allow fences. We had to buy an electronic fence for Cleo and it makes me wonder if how humane it is, although it does give off a warning beep. Cleo only got shocked once and it was my fault since I didn't think it was working and called her over to the neighbors'. (Lisa B.--that possessive is for you!) It was traumatic but she seems to acknowledge her boundaries.
  3. The house is far from school. 12 minutes but I hate to use any gas at all any more. I'm going to try riding my bike although the hill we live up is a big one.
  4. It's hotter than they say. It's about 10 degrees hotter everyday than Yahoo weather predicts. This means that living without air-conditioning is a test of one's commitment to use less energy.
  5. The sales tax is 8.2%
  6. The kitchen in our house has cabinets with shelves but 4 inches high, an ELECTRIC stove with a malfunctioning burner and strange wood-laminate countertops.
  7. You have to import dirt to grow anything. I plan to bring in enough to at least grow an herb garden.

OK. Enough grousing even for me.
The goods
  1. The street behind ours opens up into state trust forest land. You can run for miles under ponderosa pines.
  2. There are many more kinds of birds than I thought. When I first visited, I saw only ravens but now I've seen hummingbirds and vultures, blue birds and flickers.
  3. The sunsets are amazing and you can see them from any of the three balconies, including the one off the bedroom.
  4. The bathtub is round and big.
  5. The people are the nicest people I've ever met.
  6. It gets good and cold at night.
  7. The mountains are flush with ferns and aspens, as well as pines.
  8. The grill is up and working (to offset my lack of working burner).
  9. The likelihood that people will come visit on their way to Phoenix or elsewhere is high.
In the end, I think the speeding cars down the interstate will always drive me crazy but that everything else will work out fine. I'm taking my boxes of books to the University tomorrow. May my office window (I do think I have an office window) be automobile traffic free!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Where Have All the Calories Gone?

In my stomach!
Here's a post to food as a guide to where the time has gone.

I often plan to make lists to post. Two recent posting ideas included previous Halloween Costume's and Bob's Red Mill grains in alphabetical order. The latter was one of my methods to fall asleep. Amaranth grain, bulgur, corn meal...I'll spare you the rest.

But since I've been trying to do some accounting of where the hell the time has gone, I thought I would try to reconstruct what I've done, at least in the evenings, (with some memorable days added in) since I got to the town with salt and mountains, in blog backwards time fashion.

Be warned, this may be as interesting as "millet, n...(i can't think if an "n" grain or baking product), oats, potato flour, rye..."

Starting with the future:
Saturday--leave for town with mountains but no salt.
Friday--Day, alpine slide. Night, Sue's with kids.
Thursday--Day, visit grandma. Night, Napoli pizza with Egg.
Wednesday--Day, hike with Egg. Night, Paris with M and Little Hands.

Now the past:
Tuesday--Day, lunch with Chapman at Finn's--lovely open-faced sandwiches. Night, delicious dinner with lemon and pancetta pasta made by Little Hands.
Monday--Afternoon, great time with grad school friends. Night, OK time at Egg's aunt's house.
Sunday--Day, swimming with Little Hands and kids. Night, Z's birthday with the fam at El and Rick's! New York steaks with red bell pepper vinaigrette, trout with pine nut butter, salmon with leftover lime-jalepeno butter. Plus mac & cheese.

Saturday--Day, family reunion on mom's side. Night, party at Rick's friend's house. Brats.
Friday--Dinner with mom & co. Sleepover at mom's (Missed Dr. Write's and other folks' reading. Still feeling bad about it).
Thursday--Day, writing group. Night, dinner at Trio, wedding at a ward in West Jordan.
Wednesday--Day, lunch with ex-boyfriend from long, long ago (although he looks young so it makes me feel much less old) Red Rocks. Veggie Sandwich. Night, dinner at Em's with Em! Pate. For dinner.
Tuesday--Night, lamb thanks to mom at Val's.
Monday--Kyoto with mom. Ate 1000 times too much sushi. Z used chopsticks!
Sunday--Day, Kayak with El and Rick and Z and Egg. Night?

Saturday--Day, by to Kendall Jackson, prep for big Sibs (Ell's siblings'). Night, sib's dinner. Rick made corn husk wrapped snapper with lime-jalepeno butter. Delicious.
Friday--Goodbye dinner with P. Little Hand's fabulous pork, my everyday tacos. Sue, Van, Tim and Camille.
Thursday--Reading at King's English. Dinner at Paris with Pam. Artichoke pizza--too salty.
Wednesday-- Night, Oyster Bar with KJ, Little Hands and mom.
Tuesday--Iron Chef Mushroom (another would-be blog post). See KJ and Little Hands for details.
Monday--Tres Hombres with everyone, including KJ. Not good food. Not at all.
Sunday--Father's Day Day: Kayak on the Jetta with KJ, Little Hands, kids, El & Rick and Egg!--Rib-eyes thanks to Little Hands at El and Rick's.

Saturday--KJ's delicious: Red Snapper with ginger lime sauce, quinoa and baby artichokes.
Friday--Greenstreet. Not delicious.
Thursday--KJ comes to salty town. Day: lunch at Training Table. Night ?

OK. That gets me to June 12th. Other great times included Trio lunch with Dr. Write, brie with apple & nut compote, writing group, tabbouleh and hummuses (regular, red bell pepper, chipotle) made by me, roasted chickens by Little Hands (delicious) twice--once with Em & beau and kids, another Paris meal with Little Hands and friend including Steak Tartar and the charcuterie plate (delicious), Hires (twice. Pretty good), wine at Scorpion's Tail, Rick's family over for dinner, Rick's friends over for dinner, halibut tacos which George loved, halibut and mashed potatoes for Em, Beautiful lunch with mom at Oasis (Mediterranean Salad), OK lunch at Oasis with El and Joyce, Erik and Z, three dinners, always stuffed poblanos, at Red Butte Cafe, one odd brunch at the downtown OB after Gay Pride.

Missing? Hong Kong Tea House. Pho. Street tacos. Red Iguana. This new Acme Burger.

Fortunately, I've gotten quite a bit of running in in between these many meals. Still, who eats this much? My life as a Michelin Restaurant Guide. But I am so lucky to eat so well with so many fine folks. There will be less eating in Ponderosa Mountain Town. Unless you all come to visit!

I didn't just eat. I had a bit of productivity. I also wrote 40 pages of crazy, 1 poem, 238 emails, mentored my mentee, installed wireless internet and more memory for my mom's computer, read 4 books including the best book ever (The Road Home), Dead Lucky, The Snow Leopard and Love Medicine. I started the very bad Eat, Pray, Love.

If anyone notices any food or fun I neglected, please let me know.

Next posting from Town Filled with Ponderosa.