Sunday, January 25, 2015

Busy Weekend

I am feeling dozy here on the bed in my pajamas with the rockets on them.  The kids are quiet - I think they have gone to bed.  I should, too.  Morning comes early:  I have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow so I can get Sara to school for an early-morning chemistry lab.

The weekend sort of blew me away.  How do I write about all of this?  I give up.

We had guests for supper three nights in a row.

Chuck's half-brother is in the ICU back in his hometown in Illinois.  He started a fight, but the other guy finished it.  Chuck's father called today to say it looks like Ben is going to live. 

Chuck has gone to contract on a four-plex.  This, along with my rental house, constitutes our real estate empire.

We had our river-trip consortium potluck tonight and applied collectively for permits for the Main Salmon, Middle Fork of the Salmon, Yampa, Selway, San Juan and Rogue Rivers.

No wonder my head is heavy.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


We're really going to have wedding rings!  We've been married a year and a half...

Here's the first mock-up from the jeweler:  white and 18 karat gold,  tiny hands of Fatima pointing to a semi-precious stone in the center.  I got back to the jeweler asking for smaller stone, bigger hands; so we'll see what he comes up with.

They are expensive!  I can't believe we're going to pay this much for rings.  Am I crazy?  Geeze, I could probably find something for a couple of hundred bucks.  My ring from my previous marriage was cheap. What if we pay all this money and then lose them?  Should I insure them?

Any married people out there who want to share how they made decisions regarding the cost of rings?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lies Versus Shenanigans

OK, confess.  How many of you told lies to your parents when you were teenagers?  I lied at times.  I can remember lying about my grades (remember when they couldn't be checked online?); about the company I was keeping; about what time I was going to be home.  I look back on it now that I am the parent of teens and think, wow.  Honesty and integrity were not my strong suits!  Yet today, I am honest.  This magically occurred a about the time  I became accountable to no one but myself for my behavior.  So, I guess I am (and was) fairly normal.

Sara got into a lot of trouble with her dad today.  Despite his constant nagging at both kids to remember their house keys, they often forget them and use the hide-a-key to get into his house after school.  They were disappointed a few days ago to arrive home not have a key between them, and to discover that their dad had forgotten to put the hide-a-key back in its place.  Sara's boyfriend was with them; and since he has a drivers license, he drove them all to a coffee shop to hang out until Simon got home.  At the coffee shop, they devised a story:  they had decided to go to the coffee shop for fun.  They weren't actually locked out.  They had their keys but decided not to use them.  Unfortunately the next day, Si confronted her and asked her whether it was not actually the case that she had locked herself out.  No, she did not!  She had her key the whole time!  Nathan caved, though, and confessed that in fact, they had been locked out.  Si hit the roof.  This was a serious moment for him - he had caught his daughter in a bold-faced lie.  He went ballistic:  called her "a disgusting child".

He told me all about it when I arrived to pick the kids up today.  From his perspective, she is a liar; and as such, he no longer feels that he can trust her.

Sara maintains that this was a "shenanigan" - a kid-lie that harmed no one.

When I was alone with the kids, I probed her motive for lying:  her fear of getting in trouble because she had forgotten her house key.  I explained to her that I agree that it wasn't a serious lie.  However, parents need to feel that they have a trusting relationship with their teenage kids. That's what gives us the confidence to allow more freedoms and responsibility.  It's her choice when to lie and when to tell the truth; but she undermines the confidence we have in her character.

Parents, where do you come down on this issue?  Do your kids lie to you?  What do you do when you catch them in a lie?  Is there truly a line between a lie and a "shenanigan"?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Letter to the Editor

I spent some time today writing a letter to the Salt Lake Tribune. In a coffee shop, with a big cup of coffee to help my genius burn.To my millions of fans who are not local to Salt Lake City, I'll briefly explain that we really struggle with our air quality in the winter.  Without frequent storms to keep things stirred up, cold, dirty air gets trapped in the Salt Lake Valley and the evil particulate matter called PM 2.5 makes the atmosphere unhealthy.  The Salt Lake Valley is home to refineries, incinerators, cars, more cars, and the world's largest open-pit mine.  In response to this mess, the state has decided to ban residential wood-burning of any kind.  Restaurants  with (for example) wood-burning pizza ovens are exempt, because I guess we don't want to clean up the air at the expense of yummy pizza.  In presenting this to the public, the state Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is maintaining that this ban could reduce the emission of PM 2.5 particulates by as much as.. [drum roll] 4%.  Wow.  Good to know that no businesses were harmed by this highly impactful and forward-thinking proposition.

This pisses me off.  Chuck and I have a special wood stove equipped with filters; and are interested upgrading to one with an even better filter.  This matters not to the DAQ.  A blanket ban on burning is easier to enforce, they say.  All this for 4%.  What we really need to do is move dirty industry out of the inversion zone and stop driving so much.  And it would be helpful if people would stop burning fireplace fires.  About 4% helpful.  But for those of us who have high-tech wood stoves so that we can consume fewer fossil fuels, this conversation has become frustrating.  Here's my letter.  I'll publish it here because it won't be accepted by the Tribune.  They have a 200-word limit for letters (even though very few people submit letters anymore and there is plenty of space on the letters page for high school girls to write in and rant about how much they hate it when other high school girls wear leggings as if they were pants), and this letter is 284 words.  I just couldn't pare it down any more though, and still have it make sense.  I sent it in with a note asking them to consider it despite its length.  We'll see how it goes.  


My family lives in a house featured in the 2004 Green Parade of Homes: praised for its utilization of recycled materials and reduced emissions of greenhouse gasses. Our desire to do our small part to reduce global climate change influenced our decision to choose wood for winter heat and cooking; along with an EPA approved wood stove, which reduces the emission of PM 2.5 particulates by 20 times that of the emissions from an open fireplace. Recently, we have been shopping for a new stove with the latest particulate filtering technology, which would reduce our particulate emissions by an additional 10 times over the current EPA standard. Our decisions are influenced not only by our desire to be good stewards of the earth, but are also grounded in economics: our neighborhood is not served by a natural gas line. Consequently, our backup fuel is volatile and expensive propane, at three times the price of natural gas. Heating entirely with propane would be not only more costly, but would increase our current environmental impact. I question the value of a complete ban on wood burning with no consideration of modern technologies. I would suggest DAQ apply a more surgical approach: the sole-source permitting process should be revamped to allow households to apply for wood stove permits based on their use of cutting edge technologies for particulate filtration. I realize this would complicate enforcement – however, as we move toward a community culture that cares deeply about the quality of our air both locally and globally, we need to welcome solutions, not create more problems in the name of expediency. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Not all wood stoves are created equal. 

In other news, I have one of those heavy headaches caused by too much crying.  Why does Sara insist on watching these teen tear-jerkers?  First it was "The Fault in our Stars", which made me sob audibly; and tonight, it was "If I Stay".  Jeeze.  Chuck had to mop my face off with his sleeve.  I cry even when I know the story is lame.  I cry over Pepsi commercials.  I cry when Timmy is in the well, even when I know Lassie is coming to the rescue.  Real-life trauma?  No tears.  "The Notebook"?  Snot everywhere. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Two Days in a Row!

Yes!  I did it!  A second day of blogging!  Having a hard time reaching your goals?  Set the bar veeeery low.  No, lower.  And a little lower.

Chuck and I are back in our matching recliners.  I have a little glass of High West Double Rye (local distillery; and so, so good) at my elbow, to lubricate my thoughts.

Today was a happy day, although uneventful.

We have a cute little Canyon Wren hanging around the house this winter, and he managed to get inside today.  He flew high up into the rafters and there he stayed:  flying around, finding little crumbs to eat, chirping, flicking his tail and generally being adorable.  There was no hope of catching him.  We just waited until he was hopping around the living room looking out the French doors; we opened them and he went out (kind of reluctantly).

Oatmeal with coconut and dates sprinkled on it.

A few licks on my latest project:  reupholstering my great-grandmother's rocking chair.  I will track the progress of this project here, and start by saying that I have no idea what I am doing. As I take off the old upholstery,  I just try to pay close attention, so I can cut the new upholstery and put it on in the same way.  Pray for me.  Why can't I just pay a professional and spare myself the humiliation?  On the other hand, it's very fulfilling to pull tacks.
I took down the Christmas tree and enjoyed that strange, empty, light feeling you always have for a few hours after you remove the Christmas tree. 

I got a hose out of the woodshed and topped up the hot tub.  We had a big teenager party last week, and they overflowed it.

I was planning to go in search of cranberries and make my favorite cranberry upside down cake, but decided not to drive all over the place trying to find something as elusive as cranberries after the holidays.  I was dumb not to buy a whole bunch and freeze them when I had the chance.  There was banana bread in the freezer,so I just thawed that out for dessert.

Sara went skiing, so Nate and Chuck and I went out in the woods and worked on the luge run we build every winter.  We built a few banks at the corners of the run and got it working pretty well.  Now we just need a bunch of kids to slick it down. 

I made Chinese beef and cabbage for supper, and spaghetti sauce for tomorrow's supper (I have to work late); scrubbed out the cupboard under the sink; and that was my day.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Can't Get Back to Where I Started From

Back to my girl-genius blogger days, I mean.

So, as I recall, I used to be pretty good at blogging.  My entries were funny, observant, sometimes moving and always an honest reflection of who I was and what I was thinking.

So that the hell happened?

Beats me!
I think I might be too happy to write the way I used to.
Or too busy.
Or maybe I suck. Or at least my writing does, because the flame of my talent has sputtered and died; and is now lying, limp and gummy, in a cliche-pit, half buried by trite metaphors.

I shouldn't credit myself with all that drama.  More likely it's because we only have hot-spotting for Internet, and the slowness drives me ape-shit.

Or because my job is trying to eat me.

Or maybe it's because I sleep at night instead of blogging which cuts into my writing time and also means that  I'm well rested and view the world as a more normal and less noteworthy place.  Yes.  I'll blame sleep.

Or maybe it's because I don't have a secret life in my own mind anymore.  I used to write from a place that doesn't exist now, because I tell everything to Chuck and then it evaporates.  No kidding. As soon as it leaves my lips, I don't want to blog about it any more.  I need to remember:  when Chuck asks, "What are you blogging about?" I need to say, "Nothin' much..."

Or maybe it's because I've been enjoying reading so much that I don't want other things to interfere.  I quit my book club, which means I can finally read the things I want to read instead of the mindless crap my fellow club members were always picking.  And never finished anyway!  Each book club meeting would be a chorus of, "I didn't finish. Me neither."  Geeze.  And they aren't even very nice people.

Maybe I am so hung up on whether I can write well that I choose not to write at all.

But I want to have this.  I want to write about life, as I have been doing in one form or another since I was 13.  Like my grandpa did, creating fascinating journal entries for his descendants to read, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE SOOOOOOOOOO MUNDANE.

Why do I have to be so...performance based, anyway?  DO I have to be brilliant to have fun?

Today, for example.  Noting much happened today.  We got home from California last night, so I spent the day doing laundry, running errands, paying bills, and all the other stuff you have to catch up on when you have been out of town for a week.

The drive home was uneventful, except we listened to all twelve episodes of Season 1 of "Serial". Otherwise, the tedium was only punctuated by Chuck running out of gas between LA and Victorville.  This happens from time to time, as he pushes the envelope of his time / space / gas continuum.  The kids hardly seemed surprised.  We all just climbed out of the car and started walking.  This time, we were fortunate to make it as far as an off-ramp before the car rolled to a stop.  Unfortunately, the off-ramp was uphill, or we would've made it to the gas station / convenience store.  Which was called the "Extra Mile".

And I'm sitting here now in the recliner in front of the toasty wood stove, wishing I was not wearing workout clothes under my regular clothes.  I put them on like this in the morning, thinking it would make it that much easier to make it to the gym to work out.  Of course, it didn't and I didn't; and now I am sitting here roasting and blogging.

The recliner vibrates from some sort of chewing or pulling antic of Tobi the rabbit, who gets roaming privileges after supper.

Chuck is next to me in his matching recliner, browsing bicycle forks; Nathan is in his room playing video games; and Sara is out on a double date with her boyfriend, Ilan, at the climbing gym.  She sent me an "emoji"-filled text just now to tell me that she will be home at 10:30.

I am also texting with our friend / attorney,Chad.  I want him to come over tomorrow to eat spaghetti and watch "Sharknado".  He's the one who told me that there was such a movie and promised that he would watch it with me if I ordered it from Netflix.  Now he is resisting this plan, asking for a rain check.  I told him I would send "Sharknado" back, but return it straight to the queue; and when it comes up again, he had better be ready to watch it.

Is this mundane enough, Grandpa?  Grandpa would say it is only too mundane if I tell what I had to eat for supper or what the newspaper headline was for the day.

I would say that it's my New Year's Resolution to start blogging again.  But I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions.  And any time I try to commit to one, I always fuck it up.  Let's say the goal is to write in the blog two while days in a row.  Today and tomorrow.  That's a pretty low bar.