August 2010


In high school, there was a weekly newscast by the school media class. One of my brother’s friends, Chad, had a little segment where he would push some interesting activity, like rock climbing or visiting a fish hatchery, and he would sing a little opening song: Stuff to do, stuff to do, here’s Chad with a tip for you, blah blah blah something something that you haven’t done but you may just like to try! I forgot some of the words in the middle. I get that song (or parts of it, anyway) stuck in my head when I’m trying to think of something to do. This week, my partner has been out of town again, and I’ve been trying to think of things to do with the kids that would be exciting enough to make them forget about video games and movies. They are grounded from games for 2 weeks, and I really think movies should happen once a week or less (not that this is how we do it, it’s just how I wish it were done). They have to do 1 hour of reading for every 20 minutes of video games, and there’s no credit. Calvin has successfully done at least 20 minutes of reading a day this week, but when he informed me that he was starting the Harry Potter series at the end of the second book, I had to object. He said the beginning is too boring, but sheesh. You can’t possibly know all that’s going on if you start with the basilisk battle. (He told me he was reading the part where Harry kills Slytherin. See? He doesn’t know what’s going on.)

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Last week, I took the kids to our local Audubon farm for a wagon ride and ice cream. While we were there, we visited some gardens, lots of chickens, geese, turkeys, pigs, goats, miniature horses, and sheep. On the wagon ride, the driver told us how the farm is mostly organic, and I found out you can get pastured eggs and beef and stuff in the gift shop. There’s this great big deep freeze just sittin’ there, and it’s even pretty cheap. Too bad the farm is 1/2 hour away. We’re going there next month for the apple festival, where you can press your own cider, get apples, apple butter as it’s being cooked in huge kettles with steam from a steam engine, make apple pie in dutch ovens, talk to lots of Amish and Mennonite folks, and eat funnel cakes, something I was not familiar with growing up in the West.

Yesterday, I took the kids rollerskating. This was pretty entertaining for me, since it was a complete shock for the two younger ones. Calvin has been skating before, but Zeeb and Kiki were pretty stunned at how different it was from walking. Which didn’t prevent them from attempting to walk. Kiki persevered valiantly for about and hour, Zeeb fell on his butt 3 too many times, and Calvin figured out how to let go of the wall and glide. It was so awesome. When I was a kid, one of my friend’s moms took a bunch of us skating every week, and I loved it so much. I had pretty much forgotten about skating until I watched Whip It last week and decided to join a Roller Derby team.

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Last week or so, I decided it’s about time for me to start riding a bike. Not the “around town” kind of biking that I already do and love, but the exercise kind that I have always hated. I have always thought cycling is just too hard on my neck and back, and that the cons outweigh the pros. Once, when I was 15 and just getting into mountain biking, I was crossing the campus of the University of Utah, and foolishly didn’t get off and walk where there were many pedestrians. In trying to avoid a collision, I got on the grass, but tried to hop the sidewalk at an awkward angle. My front tire hit the lip of the sidewalk and threw me off balance, and I somersaulted over the front of the bike, landing on my shoulder. Getting home was tricky with only one arm, but ever since then, my right shoulder has given me trouble. It doesn’t tell the weather or anything, but I can’t sleep on my right side, or my whole arm will go to sleep.

So anyway, last week, I took Derek’s hybrid bike out for a spin, and it turns out that no amount of riding around on a cruiser will prepare your butt for a regular bike seat. I managed a good 20 minutes, but it was painful, and I sure did wake up the next morning with a sore neck and shoulders.

I didn’t give up, though, and my ride today makes me think I may have a new obsession coming on. I think I may actually take up riding a couple days a week. I am suppressing the desire to seek out a cycling club just yet, but since I know so little about it, I keep thinking it may be fun to find someone to ride with. I wish I lived close to any of my three brothers, because they have all been doing it for years. Even though they sometimes crash. And sometimes break a foot.

But what do I do in the miserable winter? (Which I hope will not be as miserable this year, because we got a new furnace! I’m so excited to find out how much of difference it will make.)

Aw shucks. I’m feeling sorta cheesy and happy. I wish there were a way to blog about my thoughts without it being such a blog about my thoughts. I have been missing my dear Derek all week, while he’s been in Washington D.C. being all smart presenting at an engineering conference. I’ve been in charge of three very intense little people, and have done what I habitually do while Derek is away. I count the hours until he comes home, fantasizing about what I will do when I finally escape and he is home to take charge of the minions. I realized the other day that this isn’t probably the best way to spend my time. I realized that I actually have this fantastic, intelligent, kind person who I decided to live with and be with, and I can’t wait till he comes home so I can get a sitter and go be with him doing something fun that doesn’t involve patching potholes in the driveway. Which is how we spent last weekend. Did you know that there are people that do that for a living? Because the rest of us? We hate doing crap like that. It sux.

So yeah, I’ve been reading a boat-load (for some reason, it took 7 typings to get to boat-load, including boattoad and boat loat) about the idea of minimalist living. This is so incredibly appealing to me, and I’ve been making these tiny changes each day. Like getting rid of duplicate stuff. I have two little pots, tiny, really, that are the same size. I can’t remember ever having to use them both at the same time, so I’m pretty sure the universe will not collapse if I can pare down to just one. I also have just dozens of bottles and tubes of soap and lotion and stuff in the bathroom that I’m sure I will never use, but just can’t seem to part with because THE WASTE! I wonder if the local women’s shelter has any fancy smelling lotion. Or any lotion at all. Towels? Why do we have a dozen towels for 5 people? Why?

I have decided that my dream home will be much more like a hotel than most people would desire, or even tolerate. I have a specific hotel in mind, where nothing is made of junk, but there’s not much of it. A place to sleep, a place to sit, a tidy bathroom, a window (overlooking the Caribbean would be nice). This is so calm and peaceful to me. I have too much stuff. Too much junk. I don’t just want to de-clutter, I want to not have stuff. How? I don’t know. I’ll keep you posted. But I already feel a burden being lifted, just by thinking about it.

My cousin Liz and aunt Barbara are coming to visit tomorrow! I adore them both and can’t wait. They’re driving 3 hours just to come watch me sing in my first *real* recital. Did I mention I’ve been taking singing lessons? Tons of fun. I get to do this comical switcheroo with another singing student who is also a great accompanist. To save money, he plays for me and I play for him. Kind of a circus act. And we’re doing a duet where we have to look at each other and giggle. I mean, NOT giggle.

Also, today I made my first batch of sauerkraut! When I found out how little there is to do, I decided it was time to give it a go. All you have to do is chop, put in a crock, salt, pound, cover. I’m so excited, it should be ready in a couple of weeks. If you want to make some, watch this first.

Every few years, I get really anxious for a big change. I start wanting to move to another country, learn a new language, get a new career. I fantasize about my new life, and even start to make plans about how to make it come to pass. Once, I planned a whole life for us in Hawaii, where Derek would be a renewable energy engineer (with a specialty in wind turbines), and I would travel the islands, doing hikes and runs, and maybe the odd triathlon. I knew my kids would grow up weird, since every haole I’ve ever known was weird, and had a secret language. Kind of like kids who were home-schooled.

Sometimes I just fantasize about moving across town, or one state over (to be closer to family, or my best friend, or course). I try to come up with ways to pay the bills. I think Derek would make a fine professor, but that sort of depends on availability of positions. I think I would make a fine professor, but I’d have to find something to profess, first. My fantastic and wildly successful art career is still many imaginations away, and when I become an opera singer at the Met, it will be in that other life where I started taking singing lessons when I was three. I will never start my own business, having an innate distrust of small businesses started by myself, and, unfortunately, there’s not really a market for snooty menu editors (though any number of chainy, fake-Italian restaurants could undoubtedly benefit from my services).

Last year, I went back to school. I am completely in love with my school, a local community college. Every teacher I’ve had has been wonderful, and encouraging, and friendly. They all treat me like I have something to share with the world. This is a wildly different experience than the one I had at the large university where I got my BA, and I sometimes wonder how my course of life would have gone if I’d had that kind of care and respect the first time around. I’m probably just a sissy, but I’m definitely the kind of person who does better with kind encouragement than with yelling or meanness. Yes, I did have a teacher or two at BYU who were unaccountably mean.

So now what should I do? I’m still going to school, my kids are still in school, Derek still has the same job, we live in the same town we have lived in for 3 whole years. Any suggestions on a new hobby? One that is cheap? And requires learning a new skill?