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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

once you're on the tiger's back he's going to take you places you never thought you'd go

Yesterday we went with our wonderful friends the McAllisters to the water park formerly known as Raging Waters. It's under new management by Seven Peaks, which means two things; 1. that it's on its way to being slightly cleaner, and 2. that they are going to kill you with the add-ons. We went to the Provo Seven Peaks last year, and by the time I had paid for parking, paid for tubes, and found out that if I wanted to use a "cabana," otherwise known as "the only shade in the park," I would need to pay another twenty--or was it thirty?--bucks, I was pretty much over the entire experience. Add to that the miasma emanating from the ancient mats around the wave pool that saturated the airspace of the entire park with the suffocating aroma of mildew and dirty feet, and you've got a place that I will gladly never visit again. I could have gotten past the extra charges, and my kids think that there might be a few more fun things to do in Provo, but I cannot abide the smell. It is inexcusable. Heads up, Seven Peaks: if you're going to charge like Disney, you'd better clean like Disney. So far the Salt Lake one does not smell. We shall see.

So it was a much better time had by all, although Jenny did get one and almost two of her towels stolen, which was a total bummer. People are weird and dishonest. In related news, I think I might start calling fake boobs "plastic boobs." I have a whole lecture re: the subliminal message and moral implications of plastic boobs that perhaps I will share with you once I get it distilled into articulate thoughts. You are eager, I am sure.

John thinks I'm crazy for wanting to live in a Quonset hut! But he says he's willing to listen to me and have me illustrate my vision. You guys, it would be so groovy. But I did read that they are wicked expensive to insulate because of their weird shape. I will brainstorm. Right now my preferred path forward is to keep this house and land, plus buy the apple orchard land down the street, and thus slowly proceed down my path toward total world domination.

I am reading "The Town that Food Saved" (link on the sidebar) right now, and it is so, so great. I had a little struggle getting into it, because his voice seemed a little bit manufactured at first, and I think I may have a fundamental disagreement with him on a couple of principles (I don't think EVERYONE should have to be a farmer, which it seems like he might be saying--I will reserve judgment until I finish), but it is engrossing and inspiring and full of the same kinds of questions I ask myself all the time, and I love it. The characters in it are so like the characters in my own life, the people I know and love and respect and from whom I have learned invaluable lessons. You must read this book.

Monday, June 27, 2011

so no one hears us but the sky

I am in a brown funk for which the dreadful Manti pageant is only partly to blame.

You know those times when it seems like you're trying to be a good parent and everybody is full of awesome advice and feedback about how you're too mean or too permissive or too inconsistent; or when you spend almost six years trying to make your house and grounds into a physical representation of your belief system and the city puts industrial zoning adjacent into your property; or when you find another place where you might possibly be able to be happy but it means you'd have to start over with a thirty-year mortgage instead of having your house paid off in twelve years; or when you are slaving away trying to complete a major project and you can't find your voice and everything comes out stupid and boring; or when you realize that everything that makes you unique is being done better by someone else? Those times? They are a drag.

I think I want to live in a Quonset hut. Hear me out: we could have one for common areas, with the kitchen and a living room, and one for bedrooms. I think it could be really cool and interesting.

I'm going to buy collars for the goat babies and start putting them on the milking stand. Long Tall Sally has one of those personalities that necessitate extreme handling to get her to comply with your wishes. But I think Julia and Lovely Rita are going to be great. They let me handle their junk, by which I mean the place where their udders will be, with minimal fuss.

Groceries was lost for a while. We were very sad and worried, but he came home last week. I don't know what he was doing for so long, but he came home with a pack of cigs rolled up in his sleeve, so I think he was into mischief.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

you mustn't squeeze the melon 'til you get the melon home

Okay. Here's the thing.

The Manti pageant is kind of stupid.

Lemme 'splain for all you peeps who aren't One of Us (yet--wait 'til you die, ha!). The Manti pageant (also known as The Mormon Miracle Pageant) is a play put on every summer by the good people of Manti, a smallish town in central Utah. It's a huge event that for two weeks swallows the city whole with tourists camping at the park, Manti's "Famous" BBQ Turkey Dinner (the quotes are theirs, which I find refreshingly honest) being served for minimal cost, quite polite protesters holding posters stating things like "Joseph Lied" and "Abortion is Murder" (not sure why with that second one--maybe they have not met our church's official position on abortion?), and general county fair-like gaiety. I have not attended before this year, but it is evidently a Big Deal. I went with our church young women's group.

The "famous" dinner is instant potatoes, canned/powdered gravy, canned green beans, rolls with margarine, heavily marinated Sanpete turkey, and box mix cake. I will now proceed with my snobby, graceless assessment.
1. potatoes: fake-tasting, could not finish them
2. gravy: fake-tasting, could not finish
3. green beans: wretched, inedible, with much non-bean plant matter mixed in
4. rolls: dry and bland, could not finish
5. margarine: fake-tasting, the worst I've ever had, did not eat
6. turkey: I have been acclimated to it by a former Sanpete resident and I thought it was nice and salty, ate it all
7. cake: fake-tasting and so sweet I think I have a cavity, choked it down

I felt bad for tossing the food, but it was too gross to eat. I'll be darned if I'm going to put up with all the bad press for being a wasteful American and not get the benefit of throwing away a plate of filling but unlikeable food.

I'm not sure what the overarching theme of the pageant is. It goes through Joseph Smith finding the golden plates and translating them, then flashes back to the civilizations chronicled in the Book of Mormon, then back to the days of the early Mormon pioneers. It's hard to figure out what they want you to take away from it. I think they want you to know that we believe that the soul, or spirit, or whatever you may call it, lives on after death, and that family relationships can also perpetuate after death. But they don't really talk about that until the last couple of minutes of the show, and the rest of the time they're just sort of telling stories that are boring to church members and probably confusing to non-members. It's about an hour too long, disjointed and scattered and in serious need of an outline, a stated purpose, a clear path from point A to point B, and a ruthless editor.

I did cry during the part where they depict a woman dying on the trek across the plains, and after she's buried her little daughter runs back and throws herself across the grave. I am a sucker for bereavement. Were I unlucky enough to have been in that situation I would have prayed every night to freeze to death so I wouldn't have to wake up the next day and have my hair chopped out of the ice with an axe, or try to dig a shallow grave in the frozen ground in which to lay the body of my most recently deceased child--a grave so shallow that the wolves would be in it as soon as my back was turned. But my path is not to be one of the early pioneers, thank goodness. Which makes me wonder what kind of crappy stuff I'm going to have to do to make it fair. It better not be organ harvesting.

We also visited Cove Fort, which I am not going to explain for you. It's interesting, and really hot. I hate central and southern Utah. But one of the sister missionaries commented that it was the boys' responsibility to gather and clean out all the chamber pots in the rooms, and that she would rather have done that than milk the cows, which was the girls' job. WHAT? I would never make that choice. What kind of person would rather handle human feces than udders? I've done both, and I'll take the udder every time.

On the drive down the girls in my car were prank calling some of the other leaders and playing fart sounds (with the Atomic Fart app--the more things change the more they stay the same, don't they?) into the phone, and calling boys they knew and asking questions like "do you like snow or dirt better?" Was this poor leadership on my part? Probably not.

You may think that the foul food, the ookiness of the production, the uncomfortable heat, and the prolonged sitting in the car would mean that I had a bad time. That is not the case. I had fun. But I'm not going back to Sanpete anytime soon, unless it's to dock sheep.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

a little fall of rain can hardly hurt me now

I really need to mail in the registration papers for our goats. But I don't have any envelopes! What to do?

For a while I was worried that Hazel was going to dry up, since she's let her kids know in no uncertain terms that they are not allowed back there anymore. But we conducted an experiment and milked her one morning after not separating the babies, and she had far less milk. I think they must sneak up on her in the night or something, when her defenses are weakened. Have I told you yet how much I love Hazel? How she is the best goat of all the goats?

I rode horses a little bit last week. Sometimes I wish we had a horse, but then I remember this equation:
(amount of work required for a Greater Swiss x 2) + (startup costs x 3) + (maintenance costs x 5) + (amount of danger inherent in ownership x eleventy) + (difficulty of disposal x 4) = responsibility of horse ownership
It's a drag, to be sure. In the town where I grew up there was a family whose horse died, and they just left it sitting out in the pasture until the city had so many complaints about the smell that they told the Westovers they had to get rid of it. So the Westovers got a bunch of old dead pieces of wood from their property, stacked it all over the horse, and had a bonfire.

I've found I quite enjoy weeding the garden with my kids, because it is turning out to be valuable indoctrination time. Yesterday we talked about bees and colony collapse disorder, and whether or not the widespread use of chemical inputs is to blame. Last week we discussed how quality suffers with each link added to the supply chain. The kids are being very receptive to my ranting, and all the while we're tearing out bindweed and common mallow. It is a good arrangement. I think next week we'll delve into the similarities between our government and the French aristocracy circa 1788.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

and if you'll smell shirley thompson's breath you'll find she's had a little nip of gin

You may have noticed that I have a new link over there in my extremely crowded sidebar. My poor blog. It is such a Grand Old Lady. Sorry I'm not a graphic designer, you guys.

But anyway, the new link is to our Protect Honeyville blog, for any of you who are interested in our ongoing fight against corruption and idiocy.

My mom makes nervous sounds when I wonder aloud about the feasibility of impeachment. She thinks I shouldn't try to make enemies, but I sort of feel like this:

Our town was out of debt during the last mayor's term. Now suddenly we are so deeply in the hole that we can't pay our water bill, and we're courting some sketchy dingbat to build a hideous metal building the size of a football field in the center of our town. Does not this seem like poor governance? Like serious misconduct, even? And bribery is not only possible, but probable. Seems like grounds for impeachment to me. That's not trying to make enemies, that's using the tools I've been given as a citizen to protect my interests from a predatory government.

Now I'm grumpy and thinking about the Patriot Act. I hate Orrin Hatch.

Monday, June 13, 2011

all now mysterious shall be bright at last

Yesterday we drove past a house that's for sale not too far from our house. It would add twenty minutes to John's commute, and my kids would go to a different high school--the pregnant high school instead of the druggie high school. But the house is very cute, aside from a weird addition on the back, and it has seven acres, a bunch of mature trees, barns and chicken coops and sheds and fencing, and FIFTEEN SHARES OF WATER. It boggles the mind.

I bought some liver on Friday, but we still haven't eaten it. I know the kids are going to be snots about it, just because it tastes like dirty blood. Don't they know that wolves eat the organs first? Do they want to be apex predators or not? I waited until they left to play at the neighbors' house and then put the slices into some lemon juice to soak. I ate liver now and then when I was little, but I haven't eaten it for years. When I was in fourth grade I was hospitalized for being anemic and people kept bringing it over to our house. That's when I began my love affair with red meat, and I've never looked back.

Three of my sisters and I are undertaking to play a two-piano, four-hand arrangement of Finlandia for a duet recital in July. I think it might be really awesome.

Friday, June 10, 2011

it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Hoo boy, I read a recent Bittman column, and was reminded of how crazy people are. There were abundant issues to address in the text of the article and its comments, but for now I'll just say this:

1. It's okay to eat meat, you guys. It is not okay to eat meat that has been abused.

2. Overpopulation is not a problem. Overconsumption IS a problem. For proof I will cite one of our kooky Mormon scriptures that says "the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare." Pardon me for using something that you may not believe in, but I do. Frankly, it seems fairly evident that there are abundant resources out there, but we're using them pretty stupidly and selfishly.

That is all.

In my continuing effort to alienate myself from my very mainstream and normal family I took a nutrition class last night from a very smart, very practical witch doctor, and it was extremely illuminating. There's going to be a lot of eating of liver and Brazil nuts around here. And I have retrenched and am attempting to cook almost exclusively from Nourishing Traditions. I'll be burned as a witch yet!

In more terrestrial news, we finally heard back from the dismissive good ol' boy in charge of the land we want. It was a lean-and-slap moment, because his price for the off-road acres is very fair, and his price for the frontage acre is VAINGLORIOUSLY EXTRAVAGANT. We're going to arm ourselves with comparables and drop some real estate knowledge on his bad self.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

an open letter to bosch

Dear Bosch,

Your new mixer design stinks. Like, really stinks. It's the ugliest thing and the worst use of R&D dollars I've seen in a long time. I'm just glad I bought my Bosch almost thirteen years ago when you still had taste.

Sincerely,
Layne

Monday, June 6, 2011

t to the a to the s-t-y

Possums! I am home, and totally converted to Yellowstone in spring. Fall is for ninnies. I might even try Yellowstone in winter sometime. Fifty feet of snow in some places, the free documentaries about Yellowstone on Netflix tell me.

The geothermal features were stinky and impressive as ever, except Mammoth is almost totally dry, which is a big disappointment. Grand Prismatic Spring has colored steam, did you know that? Now you do.

We saw many bison, which is cool even for hardened, jaded Westerners like me. I had a college roommate whose dad was a bison rancher, you guys. One time they had a bull who got feeling cranky and he hooked one of the cows and threw her over the fence. They are so big, and so crazy with their matted fur all falling off in chunks. They really do look prehistoric.

We saw some elk, and some bighorn sheep ewes. We saw a couple of marmots. My parents saw a wolf pouncing on a mouse.

WE SAW BEARS. Grizzly bears. They are surprisingly fast. It was much cooler than seeing them in the zoo.

The boys all got their Junior Ranger badges (wolf for Ike, grizzly for Grant and Emmett). I recommend the Junior Ranger program, because it increases the children's enjoyment of and involvement in the trip about a hundredfold. Did you know there is a spot in Old Faithful's underground plumbing that is only four inches across? Did you know that it spits out roughly eight thousand gallons per eruption? Did you know that the water coming out is about five hundred years old? Now you do, and it's all because one of the badge requirements was to listen to a ranger presentation, and we chose the Geysers Galore talk by Ranger Collins.

On the way home we stopped at the Frostop diner/drive-in in Ashton, and boy, was that a mistake. Terrible food, loud idiotic country music celebrating all that I loathe about redneckery (can I adequately quantify for you my indomitable loathing for modern country music? nopes), skanky girls with cheapo boob jobs . . . it was really something. I'm just saying; if you work at a drive-in, then maybe instead of spending your money on a nasty boob job you should spend it on furthering your education, so you don't have to work at a drive-in. But what do I know?

When we got home I was so excited to see animals that I could see AND touch, with no signs saying WILDLIFE ARE DANGEROUS DO NOT APPROACH that I hugged Rex and Groceries almost in half and got their hair all over me. Then I went out to shut the chicken pen and there was A SKUNK INSIDE THE PEN. I screamed and ran for John, and when we came back out the skunk was gone. So I shut up the chicken pen like Fort Knox, and unless the skunk can chew through wood in one night the chickens are safe until tomorrow.

We separated the goats, and all the babies are so fat they look like they might be bloated. I hope not, because I am fresh out of trocars.

Then we checked the bees, and I am so proud of those little buggers. Look at what they have been doing!
So far I am a big fan of the top bar hive method. You can see that they are building their layers just like they are supposed to. It's almost like they know how to build stuff without a whole lot of direction from people. Like they've been doing it for a while on their own or something.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I love forget me nots, fluffernutters, sugar pops

Tomorrow we're leaving for Yellowstone, but you need to not steal stuff from us while we're gone. First of all, we don't have anything nice; second, even if we did have nice stuff we've hidden it where you'll never find it (and no, it's not in that pot right there); third, stealing is wrong.

Yellowstone is a magical place. It's incredible to see so many natural wonders in such a small area. Boiling mud? Smelly geysers? Pools of scorching hot mineral water that will melt the flesh off your bones? Bears chasing bison? Yes, please! I'm normally a very "hands off, government!" kind of girl, but I enthusiastically endorse our national parks. If Ulysses hadn't grabbed Yellowstone you know some Rockefeller or Carnegie would have snatched it up and strip-mined it and we'd never have seen it. Jerks.

Remember the Bog of Eternal Stench in Labyrinth? That was cool. David Bowie's leggings make me feel uncomfortable, though. He looks like he stuffs.