Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Sealed on 26 June, 2004.

Congratulations, Smith family. Keep the clan strong.
There was a Lifeways Gala Event last night up at the Stokes cabin.

Holly, my sister-in-law, is running her summer primitive-skills program again. Every so often, she has an open house for her students and select members of the community (read: her family and friends.) Last night was one of those.

She has four interns right now. Two from the Northwest of the country, one from Syracuse, NY, and one from Switzerland. Very interesting individuals all, we enjoyed a skills presentation, pot-luck dinner with s'mores for dessert, and a bit of therapeutic drumming. A fine evening as a whole.

The main event, however, is usually the whole non-Utah crew's reaction and interaction with our crew of six. I know ours isn't by any means huge by the standards of thirty plus years ago in rural Utah or even rural America for that matter, but nowadays, people are simply amazed by our family. Especially if those being amazed are single twenty or thirty somethings out improving themselves and finding bliss or whatever they happen to questing after today.

The kids fell right in, asking questions and enrolling people to play hide and seek or "donkey doughnuts" (a story for another time, believe me), and having a great time with new and exciting people. They love to interact with people unworn by time and the wheel of active children, and it was fun to watch them play together. One can learn from children, both young and older, many things.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Over the weekend, we trapped an unintended guest.

I have a live trap set up out in our field to catch stray cats so I can set them loose farther out in the country after getting them spayed or neutered. We have a bunch of aggressive toms beating up on our little male cat.

The kids came running up to the truck as I pulled in after getting the mail on Saturday, "Daddy, Daddy! Go check the trap!" They were far too excited for something so mundane as an old cat, so I was prepared for anything from a raccoon to a small child. Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts.

Sneaking up on the wire cage, I saw the telltale black and white scheme. How was I going to release this pungent, angry, and generally nerved up skunk? Thinking and furrowing my own nervous brow, I angled toward the woodpile.

Two viable, though not ideal choices were all I found. A couple of sheets of plywood, one only a foot and a half wide by four feet and the other almost whole were what I could choose from as a shield and protection from certain sprayage. Choosing economy and totability over complete safety, I picked up the smaller of the two and walked to within ten feet of the little beady-eyed LePeuian.

The next ten feet were traversed with great care over the space of the next four or five minutes so as not to surprise the skunk. Finally, after getting the board just a few inches away from the release mechanism, I carefully and very slowly twisted and pulled the pin out from the door. To my horror, the door began to fall free, and knowing that the board wasn't far enough away to let it fall into the grass, I braced for the inevitable clunk of metal against wood. Unfortunately, the skunk wasn't prepared for that 'clunk.'

luckily for me, his first salvo was a warning spurt directed in the direction of the noise, at the bottom of my little shield. Only my hand was affected, though quite affected it was.

I backed away with even more care than I approached with, tossing my envenomed shield to the ground when I was far enough away to do so safely.

The little guy was not going anywhere while my brood and I were about, so he just sat and bided his time where he felt most comfortable.

The inevitable happened only an hour or so later, with Hyrum and Tor unable to resist the temptation of throwing Legos and sticks at the little creature to "get him to get out." Hy took a direct hit to the neck and side of the head. He wasn't happy, and neither was Mom or Dad. The rest of the family was delighted with the adventure and scientific spirit of it all, the skunk had sprayed again, this time with a much more exciting result!

We bathed Hyrum in a storage bin with Lemon Fresh Joy, (with very little effect, I hasten to report) followed by a few rinses of tomato sauce and water to cut the stench, through a sort of folksy chemical reaction. The sauce worked, he only smelled awful if one came within a foot or so. That was more or less acceptable to Hy and the family.

Mr. Skunk hung around for most of the day, although the kids left him well enough alone after Hyrum's troubling experiment. He enjoyed the free lodging until sometime around nightfall, when unobserved, he must have waddled off to his home, probably down by the creek on the next block.
Summer is a strange beast for schoolteachers.

There is a buildup of tension and expectation leading up to the last days of school, but for me, there is a wad of frustration just the other side of Memorial Day.

There is so much to do, so much that I need to get done; I only get a small portion of the needful things done and a smaller fraction of the things I want to do put on the 'completed' list by the end.

I've gotten a few things out of the way already, but the money factor is a huge problem. There is not enough of it to spread over the list of things that are really necessary, let alone on a trip to the ocean that I sorely wish we could take. I haven't been to a beach in eleven years. It probably wasn't a good idea to introduce me to the sea when I was a child, I spent too much formative time there years ago. Deep inside, I think there is a part of me that feels cheated by the long absence of the ocean from my soul.

So summer thrums by for me, summer school follows a week or so of vacation closely shadowed again by another teaching stint, and I get very little done besides laundry and children discipline. The Notch Peak trip will survive a long time in my memory, especially since it was the first time I was able to take one of my kids, but there is a part of me that seeks for more. More adventure, more questing, and more big water.

Gratitude for what has already been received is easy to talk about, but a bit harder to work into my schedule of things to do. But I'll keep working on it.

Monday, June 28, 2004

We ascended the north approach to the Notch yesterday, this time I took Jesse, Ryan and his eldest boy. It was transcendent.

But now I must rest.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

We had our last day of the June session of summer school today. Our destinations were a marble quarry in the foothills below Mt. Nebo and Maple Canyon on the west side of our little valley. The kids loved breaking up rocks for a half an hour or so, and even enjoyed picking up Mormon Crickets for a local angler in a field east of the canyon. Well, some enjoyed it.

The biggest problem I had was driving the district's 2004 Suburban around all day. That is the way to go, I'm here to tell you. Much better than a tired out old '89 former service vehicle with various panels and parts from junkyards all over central Utah. Now if all six or seven of you loyal readers of this silly blog would contribute a trifling five k to my 2004 3/4 ton Suburban fund, I think we'll be able to afford one soon!

Kinda obnoxious, no?

Our old S'burb will do just fine, I'm sure.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Here's the story of Father's Day.

"That is the thankless position of the father in the family-the provider for all, and the enemy of all." -- J. August Strindberg

Happy Father's Day to all.

Hyrum had a great day harassing the ducks and geese into and out of the little wading pond we set up for their first dips. I spent much of the day working on their pen, the kids did a great job of helping.

And then there's Jeru. She just lost her first upper front tooth, and she's pretty excited about it. This is only one of around ten cheezy shots she went through to get something both amusing and recognizable as my sweet daughter. Somewhat recognizeable.

Friday, June 18, 2004

The great state of Utah is reconsidering its decision to opt out of the shadowy MATRIX database. No doubt much money, power and dominion is being shuffled about and offered to those who might stand to gain from the like.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

'Twas a productive day of sorts. Much was ventured, we'll see what is gained from today's varied efforts soon enough, I reckon.

Best to you, whatever you do.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

We needed a trip to the Horseshoe this morning, so we headed up, Ryan, his dog Rufus, old Moshe and me.

Leaving at seven thirty, we made our way in beautiful June sunshine and cool temperatures. Moshe was beside himself with joy to be heading up the hill, yapping, whining and running to and fro.

We paid special attention, perhaps too much attention at times, to the aspen signatures and found at least three that Ryan's Great Grandfather had done between 1910 and 1926. That is an amazing thing to find, and though there are those who say that it is vandalism and bad for trees, it doesn't seem to have bothered too many of the aspens up there. One had the date of 1895, and was still going strong.

It's a good carpe diem experience to see all of those old names, people who had been up in the mountains just like us, many years ago. Quite a few names we recognized won't be heading up that mountain any more in their lives or have passed on already. Happy trails to all of them.

I just hope I live my life in a manner that brings about the same honor and memories as many of those names have brought to their people.

Looking north, a door to the sunlight.

There were a couple of patches of these flowers, very hardy and petite.

One of the characteristics of the aspen writing is a chronicle of the ancient feud between sheepmen and cowboys. Here is a challenge to the sheepmen on one tree, "IM Looking (At) A Bunch OF wooLy Basterds(sic)."

And the response? On another tree nearby, "This is sheep contery(sic), an't(sic) (for them) cow feed". It got pretty contentious at times in this area.

Aspens, pines and the bluer sky.

A view of the left side of the Horseshoe, looking to the south.

Some more aspens just below the Horseshoe, where we ate our humble repast of kippered snacks, Viennas, bard-boiled eggs and a Braeburn apple from New Zealand.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Here's a photo of one of the Brookies as we were filleting over to Ryan's house right after we got home. Note the sagging, bloodshot eyes, a result of keeping pace with the Syme Expedition Crew for two days. What doesn't kill you, makes you really stiff the next day, I'll tell ya.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

I had the opportunity to go on a fishing trip with Ryan and two of his brothers over the last couple of days. We headed up to a group of lakes west of Escalante, where his family has a very long history of hunting and fishing.

They know the land well, and we had fun to last for weeks, even if the Brook Trout we caught will not last much past tomorrow afternoon. Lasting supplies of that species for us would take up much more of my life than I am able to spare at this point in time, though. I am grateful for any time I can spend in that pursuit, nevertheless.

The view from the Griffin Top, an area at the highest point in the Escalante Mountains southwest of the Boulder. About five hundred feet down in elevation from here is the area of lakes that we fished.

Here I am at Long Willow Bottoms. It's a lake where I paddled and casted quite extensively, only getting one strike during around two hours. But hey, it's a great place to be for much more than two hours.

Joe Lay lake. A few strikes, but no fish landed. Even more beautiful than the Willow Bottoms, though.

Here are the Syme Brothers suiting up for another expedition onto Joe Lay.

Here is one of the lakes that yielded amazing enjoyment and quite a few nice-sized and exceedingly beautiful Brookies, Flat Lake. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending upon perspective) there is an up and down walk of a mile or so to the lake from the trailhead and about fifty feet of floating mat that is very permeable to human feet between the ground and where one can cast or put in a float tube after that walk . It's difficult to fish to boot, with all of that cover for the fish to tangle line and cause much frustration.

Of course, all this serves to discourage over-fishing and non-brookie fanatics from hanging out there for very long, so it's a heavenly place, to my sensibilities.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Drie and I went over to Casey's Lunch on this moisty afternoon for a break bestowed upon us by our good friend Greg. We ate a couple of greasy grill soul burgers and pleasurably yacked at each other for a good hour and a half.

On the way home, the rain continued off and on throughout the valley. From the west side looking toward the east, there was an amazing ground rainbow glowing furiously across the valley.

Here's the beautiful thing, preserved in a somewhat less brilliant form for your viewing pleasure, here at bloggenpucky.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

The sheepmen are beginning to take their flocks up to the mountain. The cycles of life in our little valley are still tied to the land, from the persistant school year tied to the agricultural seasons, to the herds and flocks being moved around from winter to spring to summer pastures.

It reminds one of the persistance of life and of its way of swinging along in a grand motion, with the seasons turning and the stars changing in the night sky. Life changes, and along with life, so do we.

Each day can bring imperceptable or obvious change just as the earth's seasons and upheavals can bring slow or sudden change.

It's good to see the sheep on the roads, I'm glad they still move with the seasons.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

I went over to Fairview to get a new guide bar for the old Husqvarna and took this photo of a barn that has caught my eye for the view of the Horseshoe just to the left and the little sign on the side. It's a S and H green stamps sign.

Haven't seen those for a while.

Monday, June 7, 2004

Summer school started today.

We arrived at the school to get things ready this morning, and to our utter surprise, the temperature in the school was around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It was downright uncomfortable and very annoying, so we just set up for an outside day in the shade of the west side of the building.

Unfortunately, my room was affected a bit more than the others. It has two heat vents in the ceiling, so the temp was even hotter in there. That caused many of my plants to die and all of my fish to succumb to the stifling heat. They were basically parboiled in their little habitats. Very sad, but what can I do? Complain to Snow College? Ha! The physical plant people wish we would get off the campus anyway. They see our students as another liability and source of more work.

I just gave the fish a decent resting place under a tree, performed triage and various surgeries on the plants, and will try again with the fish when the new year starts in August. I'll miss them over the summer, but who knows when some custodian will do something odd with the boiler again when we're not there for a few days?

On a much happier note, the boys and I went on a sunset drive out west of Spring city. Here are our photographic offerings from that wee outing.

Sunday, June 6, 2004

The parties went well, although not many were able to make the trek down here yesterday.

We broke the feasting up into two fests, eating a mexican food feast on Saturday for Jesse's baptism and Asher's blessing fete-apres and a roasted turkey and grilled corn with Ryan's family on tonight.

Both days were great fun, and we appreciated all who came to support the two boys.

I think they're well worth the trouble.

Thursday, June 3, 2004

I'll be heading down to Nephi this morning, I've a friend who has a VA Doctor's appointment down there. His transmission is no good and, well, duty calls.

Other than that, there is yard work and housework. We've a big day planned for Saturday with baby blessing and baptism, and it's never good policy to drive away our infrequent visitors with messes and chaos.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

School is out and my life is my own until next Monday when I go back to teach summer school half-time.

I've been here and I've been there (too much running around, to tell you the truth.) Tor's birthday was celebrated yesterday, he sure enjoyed his day. We went to Casey's City Lunch for the piece de resistance meal together. It's fun to watch him eat chicken strips.

I hope you enjoy these photos from a trip up to the Forks of the Huntington just over the mountain from here.

I caught a couple of fish and thoroughly scraped the skin from my shins; while Ryan and Matt caught a few more fish than me, as usual. It sure is beautiful up there, worth the expensive gasoline and skin abrasions.