Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Saturday (Founder’s Day)

Photo Jun 23, 8 13 34 PM(Where pray tell is Summer in that picture? I thought for sure they were all in it. Maybe she was standing by me? Well . . . in any case, she isn’t still missing, so she must not have been too far off.)

Very early Saturday morning the cannons went off. Four times? I think it was four. (Because you keep thinking it’s just that one deafening sound and begin to lay your head back on your pillow when another blast goes off. And another and another.) It’s really always just the worst because I don’t know how it’s possible for them to be as loud as they are at our house without the sound waves alone knocking down and turning to deaf whoever it is that lights them off. They shake the house and wake whatever babies we have (and there have always been babies) and wake every non baby too. And some are old enough to shrug the cannons off, but others must be reminded (the night before) that the cannons will be going off in the morning and that they must remember that it’s just the cannons and not get scared (because the only other thing that could possibly come to a mind startled awake by their sound is that Armageddon had arrived and the world was exploding . . . or maybe imploding . . . I don’t know . . . something apocalyptic). And later the smaller kids talk about how they heard the cannons go off in an attitude of part pride, part excitement, and part . . . fear that they try to hide because they know they are too old to be scared of a few cannons going off.

But for all its . . . worstness I kind of like it. Because . . . I don’t know . . . it’s what I’ve grown to expect every last Saturday of June (when our little town celebrates its Founder’s Day), and I would be strangely sad if we simply quit being woken in such an awful fashion. It’s . . . tradition. And it does mark the start of a day that I have grown very fond of. Founder’s Day always feels like, “Now it’s really summer time”.

Photo Jun 23, 8 33 38 PMPhoto Jun 23, 8 34 21 PM

A good deal of it is due simply to where our house is positioned. If the kids go out in the backyard during the mornings leading up to Founder’s Day, they can often hear the high school band practicing in the field beyond our house. And on Founder’s Day itself, there’s the parade. Classic cars and floats and drummers and cheerleaders all lining up practically across the street from our house. The kids watch them from our front yard (shouting about every balloon, bagpiper and tractor they see) while I sunblock them up, and Mike pumps up bike tires, and Abe and Daisy trot down to just past the round-about (where the parade starts) to set up a blanket and chairs for us. And they watch them again as we walk past every parade entry on our way to the start of the parade. And they watch them again as the parade actually . . . well, parades down the street – shooting water guns, blaring sirens (that “the parade is starting” first fire truck terrifies the younger kids at least as much as the morning cannons), and mostly tossing out armloads of salt-water taffy and Tootsie Rolls (which our kids gather into plastic grocery bags and eat without pause for the rest of the day).

Photo Jun 23, 8 20 48 PMPhoto Jun 23, 8 21 13 PMPhoto Jun 23, 8 30 17 PMPhoto Jun 23, 8 36 34 PMPhoto Jun 23, 8 31 25 PMPhoto Jun 23, 8 36 52 PMPhoto Jun 23, 8 48 04 PMPhoto Jun 23, 8 48 21 PMPhoto Jun 24, 2 28 13 AM

And the rest of Saturday moves along fairly normally. We all walk home and we put little people for naps. And sometimes Mike wanders back to the park with a few kids who want to see what other games and festivities are afoot. And sometimes we just stay home, run errands, and do ordinary Saturday things.

This Saturday, Mike and Abe worked on getting things ready for their High Adventure camping trip; and someone (everyone was certain it was not them) spilled strawberry shortcake topping into an absolutely impossible number of spots in our fridge; and then we shattered a huge, glass, fridge shelf as we took it out to clean, and we spent about 90 minutes cleaning fridge and kitchen from all of that instead of doing whatever we might have imagined we’d be doing while babies napped; and Summer kept talking about how she was a big girl who was not going to bed but was going to stay up for fireworks and how Mette was not a big girl like her and would be going to bed before fireworks; and mostly everyone (well besides Hans and the not-as-big-of-a-girl-as-Summer Mette) stayed outside late into the night – running around, and coloring with chalk, and watching the stream of cars heading up to the high-school – while Mike planted a tree in a spot where one died last year, and I ran to the store to pick up a few ingredients for desserts for the mission farewells (Mike’s niece and my nephew) we were attending the next day, and I chatted with my neighbor who works at said grocery store (and was scheduled to be off at 10:00 PM) and crossed fingers for her that the fireworks would go off late so she wouldn’t miss them; and then we all gathered in our backyard and watched the fireworks and speculated, absently, that our neighbors had cut down that one tall tree that used to partially block our view solely so we could watch the Founder’s Day fireworks better.

And then we all went in to bed while police lights flashed outside and officers helped direct the congestion of cars and people who weren’t lucky enough to live right where the fireworks could be seen.

The End. Except for, unrelated to Founder’s Day: Summer, Hans feet and hands, and every child that could possibly climb in a hammock . . . in a hammock.

Photo Jun 15, 4 10 34 AMPhoto Jun 15, 4 11 22 AM (1)Photo Jun 15, 10 10 10 AMPhoto Jun 21, 10 59 03 PMPhoto Jun 21, 11 00 49 PMPhoto Jun 22, 1 17 30 PMPhoto Jun 27, 4 35 41 PM (2)Photo Jun 27, 4 42 14 PM (1)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Friday Night

Friday evening, after feeding the kids a low-prep/low clean-up meal (Little Caesar's pizza), I gave instructions to the girls that went something like this: "Daisy, Goldie is taking care of Hans and putting him to bed, and she's getting Mette ready for bed, and then Penny is going to actually put Mette to bed. So, since Hans is kind of hard, I need you to put the boys and Summer to bed. . . ." At this point Daisy grimaced so I added, "She didn't have a nap today so it shouldn't be too hard. Just, even if she cries, just shut her door and she'll pass right out. And Dais and Gold, Penny is your assistant, so she can help make bottles or keep kids happy or whatever you need. And I told her you guys can bake more cookies, but not until after the little kids are in bed because they'll just get too messy again. But Penny, you still need to go to bed before too late because you were up early this morning and we will be up way late for fireworks tomorrow night. And Dais and Gold, by the time we get all the way up there and do what we need and then drive home, it will probably be super late, so you guys can just watch a movie, or rest on the couches or play games, or whatever you think. But please clean up first. I know, you guys always already do that, but since we'll be home so late, I just don't want to worry about cleaning up. Oh, and everyone needs to do their chores. And Daisy, I did most of your dishes, so can you wipe the counters for Abe since he's at work? And if the boys want to watch a show, tell them they need to get their pajamas on and take out their garbages first. But I already did all of Jesse's medicines and eye drops and stuff, so you don't have to worry about those. And girls, please just be really nice to each other and don't get frustrated with each other. Just . . . be patient and don't get mad, ok?"

(And, of course, it hasn't always been like this. We had to have kids. And give them 12 plus years of aging before we had competent babysitters who could take all that blathered instruction with a nod and eyes still fixed on the book they’re reading [because it’s all just run-of-the-mill routine around here and none of it a surprise or an unknown]. And then, we had to actually keep having babies so there would still be kids needing tended once anyone was old enough to tend. It was rather a lot of work all to have . . . kids who can watch kids while we head out for an evening. But it’s nice to be here all the same.)

Anyway, after the instructions, Mike and I headed off to Bear Lake. The hour and forty-minute drive stretched unaccountably to over two (due to the smallest stretch of construction around the tiniest, little, valley-town of Mantua [which is pronounced nothing like it is spelled . . . mant-away . . . man-away]). I asked him speculative questions about whether he thought certain calamitous circumstances could ever strip people enough of vanities and self-interest to push them towards becoming a more united, Zion-like people. (He didn’t know. Neither did I.) And I asked him about his grandpa Hansen and if he remembered him. And, of course, we talked about various bits of nonsense (like what a disservice a single-lane/construction-ahead sign turns out to be when its placed miles before the necessary merge [everyone jamming and squishing into one lane long before needed]).

Eventually we arrived at our little cabin. I stepped out of our truck and my heart nearly exploded with joy. It was just one of those moments of unexpected satisfaction and happiness. I hadn’t been to our place since February -- when it was cold and wet, and life was still impossible due to a newborn in the family, and the basement was flooded. But suddenly, here I was, and it was evening, and the sun was setting over the lake in the distance, and birds and bugs were sounding in greater abundance than they ever do at home, and a little chipmunk was zipping about, and I was trying to capture him in video on my phone to show the kids (we’ve seen ground squirrels a plenty and even a weasel -- fur changed all to white – dashing through winter snow and poking his head up to look at us over every new rocky hiding spot, but we’ve never seen a chipmunk at our place).

And I know that doesn’t sound like much. But I wish I could just . . . hand you the feel of that moment because I forgot that life is exhausting and complicated and full of demands, and I only felt like everything was simple and good and like everything . . . was happiness.

I didn’t even care that inside the cabin was a rather intimidating collection of dead bugs (who had snuck in early in the winter and never found their way back out) waiting to be swept up, or that all the contents of the basement – bed rails and headboards, mattresses and bedding, pak-n-plays and miscellany – were currently smashed into the entirety of the main-floor living area. Nor did I care that we weren’t there to relax, we were there to work.

So Mike and I set ourselves to popping all the basement doors off their hinges (carpet was coming in a few days and, apparently, we were supposed to have doors removed before that happened) and carrying them ever-so-cautiously up a staircase with a sharp turn and placing them next to all the other things that had, of necessity, migrated upstairs. (Incidentally, Abe asked me recently what I will do once he is on his mission and not here to help Mike lift things. And I had no answer for him. It is almost always Abe who is Mike’s partner for all things strenuous these days, and I don’t know how we ever managed before he came – and grew strapping – or how we shall ever manage with him not here again.) Then Mike emptied some rocks out of our truck that he plans on placing near the cabin, watered our few small pines, and moved more things upstairs; and I wiped the dust off of counters that had sat unused for four months and swept up all the bugs I could get to around bunk bed parts in the kitchen, etc. And then Mike took me down to the one little highway running through town, and we bought fries and hamburgers and corn-dogs at LaBeau’s (and we should have bought raspberry shakes as that’s kind of what people do at Bear Lake but . . . it was cold). (I will add, that, despite LaBeau’s being where we went that night, and despite it being the most traditional favorite-food joint at Bear Lake, Mike and I are also rather attached to Zipz – which advertises its shakes as “least famous” as opposed to LaBeau’s “most famous”, is usually much less crowded, and has the cutest little old motor boats made into tables.)

Photo Jun 23, 9 19 59 PM

After that we drove home and talked about the danger of hitting deer at night on those roads. And Mike assured me it was much less a danger in summer when they had plenty to eat up higher. And I probably told him about the time when a perfectly black cow was right along that road in the middle of a perfectly black night, and I almost gave myself a perfect heart attack by almost hitting it (even though I’ve certainly told him about it before . . . and I was probably less close to hitting it than I believed). And I wondered out loud why my memories of going to Bear Lake as a child seemed to always be at night even though my dad had summers off and would have been around for us to leave at any time of day. And we stopped at a gas station and Mike came out with some packs of Starburst, and I decided once and for all that yellow and orange were the only colors worth eating if one was going to eat a Starburst at all (even though I know my kids think it’s pink).

And then, a little after midnight, we were home. Abe had just returned from work, Daisy and Goldie admitted to watching an episode of the British Baking Show without me, and all six of the other little people were sound asleep with shoes by their doors waiting to be filled with a treat from “the shoe fairy” (because it’s a tending tradition Daisy started for the kids to help them go to bed without too much trouble and it always must happen now . . . even if it is a strain on the shoe fairy to remember to bring treats).

Photo Jun 23, 3 15 16 PM

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Beginning of Lots of Posts

I started a new little blog post yesterday. Well, . . . one sentence of a new post. I added a period. Pursed my lips and poised my fingers above the keyboard. . . . And then Mette (who had been playing happily outside for a moment) was suddenly at the sliding glass door. She was wailing piteously, and hitting it with her sticky little palms, and smooshing her tear-stained cheeks and forehead against the glass. Summer was only a step behind her (and following a similar course of melodramatic action). (Oh my poor windows: never clean for more than 20 minutes.)

Photo Jun 19, 2 18 32 AM

And my typed sentence? It sat there, crossing its little fingers, full of naïve expectation that it might yet become something more (a paragraph? a story?), and blithely unaware that I'd already left it. Just like I'd left the first sentences of ten other newly-begun blog posts before it.

"I'm sitting in the dark outside of Summer's room eating yogurt (which I keep spilling on my pants because, for some reason, I’m using a baby spoon), and acting as sentry to a little girl who won’t stay in her bed."

"After searching for weeks (with varying degrees of intensity) for an errant little Ziploc bag of bolts, we finally assembled a crib for Hans."

"The other day I found an Idaho Spud (the candy bar) under my bed."

"Mike recently purchased a sturdy little basketball hoop and hung it over the coat-closet door in our entryway."

Poor little lonely sentences. Abandoned possibilities. All of them.

And it’s a shame really because it’s kind of entertaining to hear Abe, when he’s bored and for want of anything better to do, standing at an imaginary free-throw line tossing a little blue ball into the hoop Mike bought while he calls out wildly random predictions, makes decisions for members of the family, and offers outrageous claims – with all their truth hinging on whether or not he makes the shot.

“Mom will lose all her limbs.”

“Mom already has lost all her limbs but she's a cyborg.”

“Mom hasn't lost any limbs but she's still a cyborg.”

“Goldie is made up of a colony of small squirrels who control her.”

“Yes, Jesse, in answer to your question. Penny DOES want to paint outside with you right now.”

Photo May 27, 12 42 58 AM

And Hans and the crib. He had grown to completely fill his little bassinet, so it was high time for a change. But he’d looked so snug and cozy all . . . practically swaddled by his bassinet, and it feels cold and lonesome seeing him in his vast crib . . . a full flight of stairs and loft away from where I sleep. I haven’t moved his bassinet from next to my bed yet. I think I’m partly hoping he’ll decide to return to it.

Photo Jun 15, 8 40 05 AMPhoto Jun 15, 8 40 58 AMPhoto May 25, 10 16 49 AMPhoto May 25, 10 17 00 AMPhoto May 25, 10 17 39 AM

But! Summer-time has been going smashingly. Kids have been learning to swim, and Daisy and Goldie have been mowing our lawn, and Abe got his first job (serving shakes and ice cream at the ice cream store from my childhood [and probably my parents’ childhood too]). We still feel like it’s just begun – like we still have all the time in the world for every summer-time adventure and project we’d ever imagined. And . . . it HAS just begun really. It has! But somehow . . . we are down to only 2/3rds of it left.

Photo Jun 07, 6 55 28 AMPhoto Jun 07, 6 56 34 AMPhoto Jun 07, 7 02 41 AM

In any case. Here are a few pictures from a Memorial Day weekend get-together at the farm.

Photo May 27, 1 00 51 AMPhoto May 27, 1 08 04 AMPhoto May 27, 1 45 25 AMPhoto May 27, 12 26 18 AMPhoto May 27, 12 37 52 AMPhoto May 27, 12 38 27 AMPhoto May 27, 12 38 49 AMPhoto May 27, 12 56 37 AMPhoto May 27, 12 47 23 AMPhoto May 27, 12 46 35 AMPhoto May 27, 12 47 51 AMPhoto May 27, 12 53 56 AMPhoto May 27, 12 59 00 AMPhoto May 28, 4 01 31 AM

And a few pictures of Goldie planting us a little flower garden in our front yard. (We’ve been in a constant battle with the snails ever since in an effort to let her garden grow. They are merciless.)

Photo Jun 01, 3 12 55 AMPhoto Jun 01, 5 29 09 PMPhoto Jun 01, 3 15 06 AMPhoto Jun 01, 3 16 53 AMPhoto Jun 01, 3 18 56 AM

And some rather magical pictures taken during Goldie’s softball game when the cottonwood trees were in rare form.

Photo May 23, 8 42 38 PMPhoto May 23, 9 10 13 PM

When I first pulled up to the park I couldn’t quite make sense of things for a minute. It felt dream-like. I knew logically that it was summer, but it truly looked like winter the ground was so totally covered with white fluff. I was a bit worried about allergies going insane for all of us (Jesse’s eyes and asthma in particular.) But I am a bit nostalgically fond of the cotton. Our neighbor’s had cottonwood trees when I was young, so every June cotton floated about our backyard, and, because we never had AC and often left deck doors open at night, we’d wake to our living room carpeted with the stuff at least once every summer.

Photo Jun 13, 12 57 46 PMPhoto May 23, 5 40 51 AMPhoto May 23, 5 41 54 AMPhoto May 23, 5 52 49 AMPhoto May 23, 5 56 21 AMPhoto May 23, 5 59 17 AMPhoto May 23, 8 40 04 PM

And here are a few other pictures of goings on around here.

Photo Jun 03, 4 28 27 PMPhoto Jun 03, 11 02 40 AMPhoto Jun 05, 11 12 52 PMPhoto Jun 03, 8 48 33 AMPhoto Jun 09, 8 18 49 PMPhoto Jun 09, 8 20 57 PMPhoto Jun 13, 1 10 54 PMPhoto May 21, 5 54 16 AMPhoto May 21, 6 41 49 AMPhoto May 23, 3 19 22 AMPhoto May 29, 1 26 38 AM

The end. (And hopefully writing begets writing and I don’t go another month without posting. Of course no matter how much one post might inspire another, one can never eliminate the possibility of rogue interference . . . babies crying at sliding glass doors and the like. So, we shall see.)

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