Thursday, October 31, 2013

Junk in the Trunk

 It was cold today.  So much so that I cooked our supper on wood and was grateful for the warmth.
 UPDATE from my previous post!  One of my students at Guadalupe School, Berenice Cruz, called me from Tenochtitlan Market to tell me that she had found sugar skulls!  YIPPEE!  There were thirteen of them.  I asked her to buy them all.  It is a minor bummer that they are already decorated.  It's kind of minimal, don't you think?  I think further decor is a possibility.
 I'm glad that search is over.  I had tried unsuccessfully at Rancho Market earlier in the day.  No sugar skulls; but I felt compelled to take a picture of these roach-killers.

This evening, I sorted out my old trunk.  There are family things in there; but also assorted books and fans and hankies and hats that are old, and cool, but have nothing to do with my family.  They are just things that people picked up at auction sales.  My grandfather had a weakness for auctions.  I think that is where we acquired the "Encyclopedia of Methodism".  Not an heirloom.  But what do you do with an antique book, published in the 1870s after it has floated around your house for a while?  Here are some things I found, though.
My grandfather Plueddeman's music theory book

Pieces of very, very old, woven bedspread.  There are two of these.  i think I will frame them and hang them up next to my 1876 sampler.

 Did any of you ever read "Devil in the White City"?  If so, you will be interested in the keepsake picture book of the 1898 Columbian Exhibition, or Chicago World's Fair that I found, wrapped carefully in cardboard and tissue.  I would strongly recommend that book.  It is an engrossing work of non-fiction and an astounding read.

Obituary for my great-great grandfather

My great-grandmother's wedding dress, which she sewed herself.  i had to show it to Sara - incredible how tiny women were then.  No one is every going to fit into this dress again!  

"Little Sally Mandy's Christmas Present" was a third birthday present to my dad from his grandmother in 1934.

 My great-grandmother's cook book.  I turned it to the pages all about how to cook rabbit, just to horrify Sara.
 Two of my grandmother's dolls are in the trunk.  The kids call them "the creepy dolls".  In fact, Sara used to have bad dreams about them climbing out of the trunk and coming to get her.  This one really is kind of hideous, because of her zombie eyes.
 This one isn't so bad, though.
 My great-great grandfather's eyeglasses.
And, most interesting was this photo of my grandfather, in an envelope addressed to my grandmother in 1922.   I will tell you what the letter says.
Dear Madam,

I have taken notice during the past few years that you have consistently remained single in spite of the possession of wonderful charms and singular talents, as well as fair features and graceful poise, not to mention a softly modulated voice and a quiet savoir faire.  I have often gazed for hours, unknown perhaps to you, into those angelic eyes and have seen there a love light which I have longed to claim for my own., but until now I have lacked the courage to make my feelings known to you.

All that I ask in this letter is an opportunity to tell you in a personal interview how I think that I could make you, the dream of my life, happy.  I am sure that I am fully qualified by past experience and education to treat you kindly and respectfully, and if you desire I can give you references from a number of other girls whom I have courted.

Enclosed you will find my photograph, which I assure you does not do me justice.  However, you will notice that I am very handsome.  Notice the high forehead denoting intelligence, the heavy lips signifying generosity, and the prominent ears, a sign of willingness to listen to reason.  Notice also the kindly sympathetic expression in the eyes and now, the neatness of apparel and luxuriant growth of hair; and do not fail to observe that no hirsute adornment mars the beauty of my upper lip.

I hope that  you will have read this letter thus far, and in that case I have but one request left.  Will you please grant me an engagement at which I can further press my suit, or take me on trial for several years, and if you do not find me satisfactory, I will grant you alimony for the rest of your life.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch

Patrice is feeling better this week and has posted some new questions for "Chats on the Farmhouse Porch".Come join in and kick back for a bit - wrapped in a blanket, because it's getting COLD out there!

1.  Do you have any special plans for this week?

Yes, indeed!  First of all, I have my kids for 10 straight days, because their dad is abroad on business.  this is easier on the kids - they can unpack and stay awhile!  they have outgrown Halloween, which, some of my long-time readers may understand has left me a bit bereft.  So, we'll have a Day of the Dead party instead.  I'm making Chicken mole and Pork Posole (which rhyme, but that is not the reason I chose them) and something for dessert...I don't know yet.  We will play Loteria for cheesy prizes after supper.  I was thinking that it would be funny to put prizes in brown bags and let people pick when they win.  Then, after the first winner, subsequent winners could either choose a paper bag or they could steal the prize of someone else.  The prizes are fabulous!  Groucho Marx nose; Pink flamingo, etc...  Both adults and kids will be there, including Sara's boyfriend, Nick, whom I will be meeting for the first time.  hey have "liked" each other for over a year, but his parents are so strict that they would not allow him to come over and spend time with us.  There are a few folks in Utah who take local religious differences to an extreme - they have been considering whether to allow Nick to accept our invitation for two weeks.

the only thing ruining my fun is that I can't find Sugar Skulls.  I have checked four Mexican bakeries, all the Mexican supermarket chains and a catering company, to no avail.  If I had known they would be so difficult to find, I would have ordered a mold online weeks ago and made them myself.  now it's too late.  one of the volunteers that works here at Adult Education with me left me this voicemail on Friday:

"Kate!  Girlfriend, you are TRYING too hard!  My Mexican friends tell me that, out in this part of town (West Valley), you can get sugar skulls everywhere! Winco, Costco, Walmart..."

I called her back and told her that, if she could find me 15, I would reimburse her and give her a bunch of roasted chiles I have in my freezer.

I got another voicemail today.

"Hey!@  My Mexican neighbors are LOCO!"  Sure, they have sugar skulls at Mexico!"

I haven't given up quite yet, but I"m losing hope.

2.  What's the mos relaxing thing you do?

My hot bath every Friday night.  Candles, adult beverages, contemplative leg-shaving...

3.  Have you every worn a wig?

In high school, when I played Veta in "the Canterville Ghost".

4.  Do you have an office or special place for your computer?

At home, Chuck and I have our desks situated back-to-back in our bedroom.  The bedroom is ridiculously large.  If we had a kitchenette up there, we would never need to come out.  I have a second-hand oak roll-top in there.

5.  What is your favorite kind of socks?

Whatever works with the shoe du jour.  Like my kids, I no longer care if they match or not.  If the show covers my whole foot and no one will see (or sometimes, even when people WILL see), I may have a black one that says "Noel" on the ankle; and another that is turquoise.  It;'s great!  now, when I get a hole in a sock, I don't throw out the pair;  I just throw out the sock.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Back Ache

This was one of those "git 'er done" weekends.  Chuck and I are like bears.  Like muskrats.  We can sense the aging of the season and it makes us feel compelled to prepare and stock up.  The forecast tomorrow is for rain and the following day for snow.  I have an uneasy feeling that our Indian Summer is over.
Cook-stove wood needs to be cut to a length that can be easily and quickly shoved into the burner hole.  I like a lot of different widths, but nothing bigger around than my forearm.  Chuck set up the chop-saw on the driveway for me so I could cut limbs to the length I wanted, then haul them to their storage area under the deck.  This is about a third of what I have put up, but I need a bit more.
Firewood is piling up at a factory-like rate.  Chuck and I took down a friend's dead birch tree last weekend; and this weekend, he hauled away a bunch of dead aspens from another friend's vacant lot.  It all needs to be cut, split and stacked.  Annnnd.... we'll probably need to buy another cord.
 Chuck built me these boxes a few weeks ago, and I spent a lot of time this weekend leveling them.  This was the back-achy work.  The area where I want to put them is steeply sloped.  So, I had to clamber down into the dry creek-bed and haul rocks up here.  Some of them were heavy (what I call "two-hand rocks") and had to be positioned and re-positioned as I placed them and then examined the effect with a spirit-level.  Now, I just have to get some dirt in there and amend the soil and we will be all set for spring:  asparagus and rhubarb.  So worth the effort!

I took my creaky, achy self into the house at the end of the day, where my crock pot had been making a delicious Brazilian stew.  Nate surprised me with "Mom!  I need to make tortillas!  It's a school project!  Due tomorrow!"  Add more exclamation points if you like.  There were plenty.  [Deep sigh].  "OK, Nate.  Look up a recipe and hope that we have the ingredients we need, because I DO NOT want to run out to the store.  I'm pooped".  Luckily, this is an EASY recipe!  No big deal to make tortillas.  You can see by the pictures Nate took that we all joined in and experimented with patting and rolling them flat.

A bit blurry - Nate has a hard time holding the camera steady.  They were very yummy!  Our compliments to the chef.

And then, it was off to the hot-tub to soak my aching back.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Crisp, fall weather today.  The high point of my day today was the long run I took along Top of the World Drive.  I ran in the shadow of the mountain for the first 6 miles or so, then came out into the sunshine, still feeling strong. 

I really had to pee, though.  Sara told me that, the other day when she was running with the cross country team, one of the girls had to pee and just went and knocked on a door. 

Wow!  Did the person let her in?

No, they just closed the door in her face. 

Some people are just bolder than others.

The low point of my day was in the ladies' locker room at the rec center, where I changed after running.  I have never really noticed this before, but my left boob is hideous when it's cold!  The circulation isn't great, because the mastectomy side is a thin layer of living tissue stretched over a water balloon.  It looks purple and splotchy, like hands do when they are cold and chapped.  You can see the exact line of the implant. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch

Time for a "Chat on the Farmhouse Porch".  Go check out Patrice at Everyday Ruralty!

How many animals do you have?

Not as many as Patrice!  We have Scarlett, out spoiled princess of a Rose-Breasted Cockatoo; and Tobi, our adorable rabbit.  As my daughter Sara says, "Look at that face!  Awwwww......  Look at that face!"

Have you begun Christmas plans:  travel; decorations; crafts; menu...?

WHAT!?!  No way!  Wait!  What month is it?

Do you celebrate harvest season or Halloween?  

Well, my kids still like Halloween a little, but they are starting to grow out of it.  Chuck and I like to dress up and find a party, preferably one with dancing and flirting.  This year, I think I will go as a chimney sweep!  I also want to have a Dia de los Muertos party.  I was thinking sugar skulls... La Loteria...  suggestions?

How do you heat your house?

Well, we do not live on a natural gas line, unfortunately.  We have to buy propane, which is very expensive, to heat the house using under-floor and in-wall water pipes.  We try to use this as little as possible and rely mainly on our wood stove and our 1927 cook stove for heat.

Do you like dishes with white centers or centers with patterns?  

I don't even notice whether the dishes match or not.  Bad, huh?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Slumber Party

It is getting colder at our house.  Time to get the stoves ready for cooking and heating.

 This has me thinking about Halloween and whether I could make a cute Chimney Sweep costume.  Black top hat...leotard...muffler...soot smudges (we have real soot!).  On the other hand, these are not cuddly brushes.  They are sharp, stiff wire. Not good in the dance floor.

I am sitting at one of those wireless Internet stations in the airport, waiting for my flight for Phoenix to board.  Ah, in fact it has started boarding; but I like to be one of the last people to get on.  I'll wait a little.  I have had some stress this morning already.  I was so sure hat I had booked this flight under my old name; I held off on changing my name on my drivers licence and my credit cards for this reason.  Imagine my surprise when I went to check myself in and saw that I had booked in my new name.  SHIT.  Turns out that this problem can be solved, for $50 and a long wait at the desk.   

The line to board is moving faster.  I am going to see my aunt, who has not been well and has been asking for me. I have postponed this trip long enough  Finally, I stopped trying to block out a three-day visit and am just going. My aunt protested, "That's not much of a visit!"  Don't think of it as a visit, Aunt Marian.  Think of it as a slumber party. 

Gotta fly. No time to edit.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch

It is late in the evening, and I am almost ready to go home from the night school where I teach.  It is sweltering in here - we have turned on the school's boiler, but the weather has warmed up again.  I'm thinking that I would like to go home and have a soak in the hot tub with an adult beverage.  Did everybody else have a great day?  Let's hang out with Patrice on the Farmhouse Porch for a little while.

1.  Are you doing any crafts or DIY projects right now?  No!  I wish!  I am feeling so un-creative at the moment.  Mostly I'm just too busy with Mom stuff and teacher stuff to do the more home-like projects I would enjoy.

2.  If I could snap my fingers, I'd make Curried Chicken Pot Pie for dinner.  I have been craving it.  It's a little bit fiddly, but so yummy.  Maybe this weekend...

3.  What author would you like to have lunch with?  Diana Gabaldon, who writes the "Outlander" series.  I would try to pry some details about the next installment out of her.  Perhaps I would have to ply her with mojitos or something.

4.  I wanted to tell all you folks at "Chats" that I really do have a front porch (with a swing)!  But because of the isolated location of the house, I don't get to sit and chat in real life with very many people.

5.  My rental property has been on my mind a lot lately.  I have to do an upgrade of the electrical system that is going to cost over $3,000; and my brand new tenants are moving out already!  They signed a year's lease.  But the wife is a brittle asthmatic and is allergic to something in the house.  She has been at the Instacare already and coughs incessantly in the apartment.  I decided to  let them go.  But it is going to cost me...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nine Mile Canyon

 It has been a frigid week in Utah.  We had snow at our house, so we welcomed the opportunity to toss our stuff in the car and drive south, to the Central Plateau and Nine Mile Canyon.  We were there as volunteers For the Central Plateau Archaeological Association:  Nine Mile Canyon is absolutely packed with prehistoric ruins and art; it also has a lot of mineral resources.  Over the past ten years or so, as the extraction industry has ramped up their activity in the area, the archaeologists have been working hard to find and document everything in the canyon, so they can work to preserve it.  We drove down Friday afternoon and met up with Jerry, the lead archaeologist for the CPAA, his wife Donna, and about 15 other volunteers.  A lot of them were archaeology students; some were members of the faculty at Southern Utah University; some were local ranchers and property owners; some were (like us) just friends who like to go camping.
Chuck, setting up our tent
We took our warmest tent, sleeping bags, clothing, etc... It was really cold.  We would wake up to temperatures in the 20s, and I don't think the high temperature hit 50 at all while we were out there.  I wore every layer I had and slept in my hat.  The clear, cold skies were good for star-gazing.  The firmament in the Utah deserts is still clear and sparkling from horizon to horizon.

Staying warm by the fire

By the fire with Jerry and Donna
 One of the volunteers put up huge supply of firewood.  Normally, I don't approve of big campfires; but this one (on which we could have roasted a whole pig) was welcome.
 On the first day, we drove to the part of the Canyon Jerry wanted to work on and split into teams.  He had been there earlier and found some sites down low near the creek bottom.  Those needed to be recorded; and he wanted our team to climb high up the canyon walls, searching for more sites. No trails.  We just scrambled up the sides of the canyon, like what you can see behind Chuck in this picture, fanned out, and started picking our way up and along each cliff band, searching for  arrow heads, pottery shards, rocks that looked as if they had been deliberately stacked, rocks buried perpendicular in the ground, or rock art.

 We climbed higher and higher...

...and explored our assigned side of the canyon carefully, but found nothing.  Finally, Jerry radioed and asked us to come back down to work on recording some sites that had been found earlier.

Nothing that needed to be recorded was spectacular.  Let me show you an example of spectacular rock art, for example.
The Great Hunt
We did not find this.

The team found this.  NOT spectacular, but it still needed to be recorded.
 What you can't see is that, on the little slab to the right of the petroglyph is the scratched graffiti of a guy named Cecil from Vernal, who found this spot in 1961.  There is graffiti in the canyon from the 1800s up through the 60s or so.  People mostly know better now.  Mostly.  The graffiti gets recorded, too.
 We also recorded this, which is a piece of wall... is this slightly better specimen.

 I knew nothing about recording sites, but they showed me what to do.  You have to sketch what you see, map its location, measure everything, fill out forms and create a  description narrative.

It was fun, and a beautiful day, despite the cold.

As we looked across to the other side of the canyon though, we were very excited to see a really big structure in the cliff face.  It was visible from the road, if you know what to look for; so we were pretty sure that someone must have visited it before.  But it had never been recorded, so Jerry was excited.  You cannot see the structure in this picture.  It was too hard to see for me to get a good picture.  And I was sure that I would get a chance to take great close up photos the next day when we climbed up to it.  We were a little unsure of HOW, though.
This is NOT the structure I am describing.  This is just an example, so you get an idea of what we saw high up in the cliff face.  It was a structure like these.  Only five of us went over to try to access the structure the next day:  Jerry, Donna, Chuck, me and another guy.  The remaining volunteers went to climb a butte that had the remains of an entire village on its top.  Our group started bush-whacking our way across the creek bottom.  We bridged the creek by tossing logs across until we had something stable enough to walk on, then made our way to the cliff face.  The others went up; but I didn't, and I was so sad!  First, I needed to stand below and out a little way from the cliff so I could call out directions to Chuck, who is a really good climber, as to where it looked like he could find hand and foot holds.  Then Jerry, Donna and the other guy had a go, and managed with great difficulty.  Jerry's wife needed to be boosted from below and pulled from above to get up trickiest part of the 20 foot cliff-band, after which here was a bunch more scrambling that sent rocks plummeting noisily down.  They all made it eventually, but I was still down below and knew I was going to need a boost like Donna did, if I was going to get up there.  I was bummed to be left behind and had a little sniffle while I waited below for them to do all the recording.  However, I stopped regretting it when I saw them trying to descend.  Even Chuck had a hard time.  The other three really struggled and Jerry's wife panicked at the tricky part.  .Why is going down always so much harder than going up?

That was all we had time for this weekend.  But maybe we will get to go along again next year. There is still a lot out there, waiting to be found.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thursday Thirteen [Thirteen Tiny Things]

1.  Queen Jody, the school cook, loves to steal my coffee mug and surreptitiously wash it.  She looks inside it and thinks, "Gross!"  I look inside it and think "Flavor patina."
2.  I got to use the word "internecine" in a sentence this week.
3.  At the local grocery store the avocados are coded wrong. They currently require me to show ID in order to purchase them.
5.  Chuck and I took our tandem on a ride with another couple on their tandem and made quite a stir with our tandem tandems.
6.  Random edibles:  banana candy from Vietnam.  Think of a brown Gummy Bear mating with a Bit-o-Honey bar.
7.  Finally found out the giver of my mysterious wedding gift.  A wind chime and a giant fortune cookie appeared on my desk when I returned from my wedding trip.  There was no card and no one that I asked know anything about it.  Turned out to be one of the teachers on my staff, who realized that she had not included a card, became embarrassed, didn't tell me it was from her...  etc...  After a few days had passed, she got even more embarrassed.  She finally, after about a month, she told a colleague, who in turn told me.  I sent her a thank you card, apologizing for the lateness!  HAHAHAHAHA!
8.  I went to the store late last night, with a horrible hankering for some "Abuelita" brand Mexican chocolate.  It makes the BEST cocoa!  They didn't have it!  Had to settle for a box of Junior Mints.
9.  Gift pack from United Way, to thank me for being a teacher.  Two pens, two pencils, sticky notes, and three Jolly Ranchers.
10.  I got a sunburn during the Marathon last week, and am now peeling so horribly that people are looking at me, then looking away...
11.  A former student came to the school last night and asked me if I remembered him.  He shook my hand and then held it for a while while I was talking to his daughter-in-law.  It was very heart-warming.
12.  We have a little boy who will be staying in our babysitting room while his mother takes English classes.  He is autistic and  keens loudly for the entire time his mother is studying.  I do not know how I am going to handle this.
13.  Until Saturday, I am letting myself eat anything I want, 'cuz I just ran a Marathon, so there!  I went and got a big ol' burger and fries from Wendy's today.  I haven't eaten fast food in months!  it was soo gooood!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I did it!  Thank God, because I was boring myself silly with all those long runs at the end; and I was sick of my Six Word Saturday postings being about running, running, running.

So, the nickel version:
I finished.
In finished in under 5 hours (4:58!)
I ran the whole way.
I was not last.
I sprinted the last 100 yards, which made me almost barf.
I did not barf.

I have been pampering my knee for several weeks, and it paid off.  It didn't hurt much.  Not as much as some other things.  Or, I guess I could say that everything hurt as much as my knee by the time I was done.

My muscles are starting to feel better.  It's my sunburned face that is the problem.

Will I ever do this again?  I hope not.  However, I have a funny feeling that, once recovered, I could forget the pain, rather like childbirth, and foolishly sign up for another one.

 Don't let me.