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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Tom Sawyer-ish Kind of Childhood

From the pen of one of my favorite seventh graders: "My perfect day was when I saddled my horse and rode all day. I rode all over. I didn't go to town. I cooked lunch over a campfire--it was a cup of soup. Then I got back on my horse and rode some more. I saw three deer, four bucks, a doe, and a fawn. They were all together. I target practiced and played with my dog. At one point my dog would not follow me anymore, so I put her up on the saddle with me and went up Maple Canyon. We rode way up there. We were all alone. It was the best thing in this whole world. When we got up the canyon I got off my horse and drank a Mountain Dew. I turned out of heaven, headed for town, and went home."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Random Photo Sunday

This guy is obviously very comfortable in his surroundings. Who wouldn't be? Hiking above Innsbruck in Austria IS as good as it gets. Believe me. I don't think I've seen Americans taking a leak along any hiking trails. We at least go off into the bushes. Don't we? Maybe I'm just not seeing it. But I will forgive this gentleman. At least he didn't drop his drawers!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Monday, September 17

My first bonding group: Linda in front, left to right in back--Liz, Bethany, Julee
(note to reader: If you find a lack of description of food in this narrative, it's because there just wasn't much. For instance, today's entry is Monday. Sunday apparently passed. We must have eaten. I have no record of it. I probably ought to also note that a large portion of my journal records my musings on the spiritual side of this experience. Please forgive me for omitting most of that. It's quite personal and is a story for another setting. I'm also choosing to not include some 20 year old boy/girl stuff that was happening between one of my "brothers" and me.)

(The girl in the striped pants with the safari helmet left the group along with a male friend of hers about 3 days later. I think one of them had come on the trip with some drug problems, as I recall. According to the contracts we signed, once we chose to leave the leaders would help us get to the nearest road and then we were on our own. BYU was then no longer responsible. I remember it was a downer for the group to have someone leave. Three left our group.)
"We left camp today at high noon. This morning we made an assembly line and fixed 38 portions of food for the week which we will carry wrapped up in Saran wrap in our army blankets on our backs. Brown sugar, oatmeal, raisins, cinnamon, flour, salt, rice(? It's written in my journal, but I have no recollection of ever eating it. How would we have cooked it? Rice steamer plugged into a current bush??), wheat and boullion. Ought to suffice! Girls hiked without the boys today. We chose a leader and took off over a mountain with a map and no water. Tonight was very very hard. We hiked 16 miles. We got into camp at 3 A.M. Everyone was very thirsty to the point of swollen mouths and aching bodies. So far, fortunately, I'm holding up well. I was needed today by Liz. She was having a difficult time to keep going. I looked into the sky and gained my strength by praying. We have a beautiful beautiful group of four to cook in. We seem to have a bond.
We missed the men today! When we joined them at 3 A.M. they were waiting with canteens for us and we kissed and kissed them. Spirits are better. I am at peace.

Tuesday, Sept. 18--I feel like Abe Lincoln tonight! We stopped early tonight, so we're lying on our blankets by a huge blazing fire eating our ration of raisins and brown sugar and writing bits and pieces for posterity in our journals. Very cozy. Wouldn't want to be anywhere else doing anything else. I have never experienced such love so quickly with complete strangers. This is priceless.

(Paco tried to revive this photo. This was taken in front of the Cookie Jar the morning I boarded the bus out of Provo. I'm obviously trying to "show a little leg" to reaffirm my femininity! It bears the scars of baking in countless sweltering garages over the decades but does capture a few things i.e. my red union suit legs, my possible bag hanging at my waist, my life-saving bandana, my insulated underwear shirt, and my indomitable hat--oh, that hat. Unfortunately on the LAST night of the trip, I was sleeping with my head too close to the fire and ignited myself. I remember being screamed out of a sound sleep by someone throwing dirt to put out the fire!! I kept that hat on my dresser for longer than I should have, but now it has gone the way...alas)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not So Trivial--Friday Night Pursuits

Paco and I helped bring home the first place honors at a community-wide trivia contest held to raise money (over $3200!!) to update the community auditorum last night. Our team was sponsored by the middle school and consisted of three other teachers, a teacher's son, and an 8th grader we recruited from the crowd who actually knew the name of the Smurf's cat!!!!--Azrael. We were competing against 9 other teams from the mortuary, hospital, high school, a title company, the radio station--KVSI, and a couple of others. 10 rounds, 100 questions, 1 minute a question. Our strong suits seemed to be Storyland (missed the name of the deer in The Yearling, though: Flag) and Wild Weather, but we surprised ourselves with what we pulled off in Country Music. U.S. geography kicked us around a bit (Which state is bordered on the east and west by a river? Iowa), but we did surprisingly well in Olympics. The good news was that we could collaborate as each question was read before we had to write down an answer, AND we could purchase Mulligans to stick over questions we didn't know. We bought 10. Our team held the lead most of the game, although KVSI edged ahead a point or two which brought out our competitive edge. In the end we won by 7.5 points. It was a congenial (all right, semi) fun evening even when the judges ruled that Ritter would pass for Tex Ritter. I mean, come on... And in case anyone ever asks--Buchanan was the only president who never married. My best moment was attributing George Seurat to one of his paintings, and Paco, of course aced a couple of questions on Teddy Roosevelt for us. Mr. C's childhood in England insured that he knew a "spanner" is, in fact, the "wrench" in Clue. But for the life of me I never knew that the original Trivial Pursuit game was named "Genus". Did you? Bruce, our principal, is in Belize, but he's going to be so so proud.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Holding Hands, Kicking Roy, and a Carrot...

"At about 8 we had to stop and wait for the moon to come up so we could see to continue. I lay on the ground watching the stars and talking to Kayla. Found out she was a high school friend of my freshman boyfriend! Small world. We've all pretty much dropped any pretenses. We talk openly--and hug a lot. Lots and lots of hugging ALL the time!!! Some more than others. The moon came out, so we got up and hiked for another couple of hours just beyond the next pinnacle and then just beyond the next pinnacle, through huge reeds that snapped us in the face. We got to the campsite and then had to go still farther to the water which made you want to cry. Some of us did. Our waterhole that we'd been hiking hours and hours for was a mud puddle, the result of a recent rainstorm. All around the puddle was clay mud. Linda sank into it up to her knees and just stood there crying until someone pulled her out. Funniest thing, but I wanted to laugh! Here we were wading like zombies at two in the morning to find water to sustain our very lives, and we end up sinking to the depths of despair to get a before-bed glass of water!! But the Lord is good.
Saturday morning we pushed on out for base camp.I walked all day with Craig. He gave me a flint and steel and also the promise of kissing lessons later that night! (Back in the day here, I had very conservative kissing ideas. I'm assuming I must have educated him on those while we walked.) Today was cake. We got to rest while the sun was hot for a couple of hours.
Roy, who walked with me on the first night, is dehydrated. He throws up VERY VERY loudly. The sounds of that shake the whole canyon. The leaders can't get him to move. He is giving up the will to survive! Jeff is very patient with him and stands with him all the time he is throwing up.
A scorpion bit Larry (our main leader--Larry Mullins, survivor extraordinaire and bodyguard to President Kimball later). Larry is a beautiful person. He is so obviously sick from the bite/sting, but he said, "Don't have time to be sick or anything to take for medicine, so let's go!"
A glorious indescribable night. We climbed out of the canyon that had taken us the first two nights to hike into. Everyone was singing and laughing and pulling each other up. Food was secondary. Paula had a hard time, but we helped her. She has so many blisters. Two boys got on either side of Roy, and he found some will somewhere to almost run up the mountain! The whole experience of us singing and Roy going up was like the Lord had placed his hand down, and we had stepped into it for the journey up.
When we got to the top Craig and I lay on our back and talked about food (which I would soon learn was THE favorite topic of almost any conversation!) Craig is not Mormon. He spent the summer doing seasonal ranger work at Glen Canyon. Iowa boy, spent some time in foster care, graduate of Ames. When he was in college he got drunk, fell in a bathtub, and knocked some teeth out.) We hiked in the moonlight for 2 hours more. Craig took my hand very nonchalantly. (This too became the norm. EVERYONE held hands ALL the time--girls with girl, and boys with girls.) I was perfectly happy walking down a dusty road under the moon with a hand in mine. At one point we passed the boys with Roy. He was lying on the ground, and when they tried to pull him up, he wouldn't come. They had to kick him and yell because he had reached that point. Roy is very very large. There isn't going to be any carrying going on!! Very sad and too dramatic for me. Such a contrast to the perfect night.
We fell into camp. They gave us a carrot, which I thought odd, and then some lemonade to build up our blood sugar up, I guess."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Up the Proverbial Creek...

Paddling in a dugout canoe at a Powhatan village in Jamestown, VA., during our October getaway. It looks as if we washed ashore and then all water immediately evaporated. Somebody must have left the door of the rest home unlocked for we have veritably escaped--goofy smiles and all. Seriously who warned me that I was going to have to watch my siblings turn into geezers and myself along with them??????????

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday!! Thanks for 20 Great Years!

Me and Mine have been Wallace and Gromit fans almost since their inception. In fact, I haven't taken the newest short, "A Matter of Loaf and Death" out of the cellophane--waiting until I can garner a few fans to watch it with me. Thomas? Season? I'll bring the cheese...Incidentally this is the UK Google Doodle homage to the charming duo. We, on the other side of the pond, got pretty caught up in the 40th brouhaha over Sesame Street with nary a nod to our British "rock stars".

Sunday, September 16, 1973--IMPACT...The First Three Days

"Words to write. I feel the obligation--possibly not the prompting--but my heart and mind are full and brimming. Besides, no one would believe me in a month unless I write it down as living proof now. Today is Sunday. We are R & R ing (resting and recuperating). We had a short simple Relief Society. Seems like my life has been reduced to a simple matter of keeping track of my Dr. Pepper can! My existence would be very feeble should I be deprived of it. As for my last three days, they've been REAL! We've hiked and hiked and drunk water and thrown a little sleep in here and there. VERY little here and there! I'm sitting here on the side of a small dune up to my waist in sand listening to two kids playing a guitar and singing. Beautiful. It was right that they meet now and sing together so well. Lots of people are harmonizing in other ways.
Here are some highlights of the adventure so far: The bus dropped us off literally in the middle of nowhere. Actually I think we passed nowhere and went beyond it! We had a prayer, tanked up on water from coolers on the bus like camels and buckled our possible bags (like fanny packs which carried small necessaries like our soda cans, pocket knives, journals, pens and a toothbrush. My dad and I had great fun picking mine out of a WWII surplus store heap.) on. Our first landmark, Keg Knoll, seemed so far away. But then we were looking back on it several hours later. You can't imagine the type of thoughts that pass through your mind as you travel blindly in the dark up a road out in the desert. You're scared and your bladder is having second thoughts as well! One girl and I were ahead of the group because we were excited and overwhelmed by the allness of it. Meanwhile the group had taken off the road. We had to run, and we couldn't find them! It was a unique sense of panic for about 15 minutes! We hiked until about 4 A.M. down two huge sandstone canyons. We set up camp which merely meant that we built fires and dropped in our tracks huddled around the fire. I'm a little worried about the water that we drank. It smelled strongly of fungus. Water is going to be a big deal, I can tell. Earlier this evening on the way down the canyon in the dark, I came upon a group of the kids crouched down. Lo and and behold they were sucking water out of a mud puddle through an old piece of cord. It tasted scrumptious!!!
Friday we crawled mostly through 7 foot tall bullrushes on cliffs above the Green River. When we got down to the river, Yosemite (one of our student leaders--bright red hair and handlebar moustache)gave a special prayer to bless the water. (the first of many many many prayers sent up on behalf of water!) We had been told that we could watch animal footprints flow by in the river! It didn't really flow; it slugged along. We dipped it up and strained it through our bandanas. That was to be our source of water for the day. In the afternoon we were in the hot hot sun which was hard. The group stopped, and we felt the pure sheer please of life's simple necessities--quenching thirst and cooling off. It changed our whole outlook! be continued"

Friday, November 6, 2009

September 13, 1973

"I'm sitting here propped up in my seat in the bus. We've been waiting for the back-up crew here in Green River, Utah, for over two hours. Everyone super-scarfed for about a half hour. I ate an apple, some apricot nectar, some celery, and cheese. I'm sitting here with milk-soaked bib overalls. Someone got a little feisty and doused me--probably nerves. I am quite excited sitting with my boots off inhaling what are going to soon be sour milk funes. This is ironic. I am writing so light-heartedly, and in a matter of possibly two or three hours I'll be out floundering in sand with thoughts of 'What kind of fool am I?' ringing in my dust-studded ears. Such is life--laugh about it today and dig it out of your skin the next.
The kid behind me is blowing his brains out on the harmonica. My companions are interesting. We're all getting a bit punchy. I can't wait for the REAL HARDSHIPS to begin. It will be enlightening to see facades fade and real spirits shine through. Most of all I'm looking to see what I am--just how much of my mortality I can shed. I hope I can learn so much about my eternal self that what I am going through will only serve to make me aware. Someone is pulling my toes.
September 14, 1973--Last night we climbed down canyon after canyon--big huge goblin rocks all around. My hiking partner Roy was truly my lifesaver. He was my wall to jump onto and my railing all the way. My muscles started to shake, but all the water I drank helped. Before we left Green River the leaders had told us to drink. I drank 7 Dr. Pepper cans of water. On the way to the desert, we obviously had to make a pit stop! Picture this! 36 posteriors exposed simultaneously to the air!! What a relief!!!! I had almost exploded!
It was beautiful beautiful gorgeous on the desert. We walked up over a rise, and the moon was full and orange. I have a new friend, Bethany. She is an opera singer from Salt Lake. We immediately connected. I'm in an adventure now.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not For the Faint of Heart

When I was 20 I packed an army blanket, a pocket knife, my toothbrush, a couple of books, a journal, a primitive camera and a few changes of socks and underwear and headed for the desert of southern Utah with this motley group of strangers. This experience was affectionately known as Survival, but on my BYU transcript it somewhat sterily comes up at Youth Leadership 480. A bus dropped us off in the general vicinity of Green River, UT, and picked us up in Escalante, UT, exactly 30 days later. We filled that month with walking, starving, climbing, walking, bonding, huddling around campfires, hiking, orienteering, losing one another, finding one another, eating cactus and wild berries, talking ad nauseum about food, and generally having the time of our young lives. A few of us started the trip with drug addictions, a few of us were on the trip to escape troubles, and at least one of us joined the Church and took up a whole new lifepath as a result. We read a lot of books, discussed even more, and at the end of the trip we spent 3 days entirely alone figuring it all out. We cooked a couple of snakes and learned amazing culinary variations using only flour, salt, a little cheese, and rosehips if we could scrounge them out. We held Church services and passed around a canteen and some nuts we found rollling around on the ground for sacramental purposes We drank some pretty rank water out of the Dirty Devil River--after we'd rung it out of our bandanas. But most of the time we just walked. Lots of walking. They estimated we covered over 500 miles in that month. The amazing part of this story is that I carry this experience so deeply in me that it rarely surfaces in conversation--yet it has colored the very lenses through which I view life daily. Go figure. This picture shows us at the gathering we held at the "Cookie Jar"--my place of residence for 2 years--a day or so after we returned. We've cleaned up obviously. Notice that all the girls pretty much insisted on wearing dresses. What I wouldn't give to wrap my arms around just one of these necks...and drop back for awhile. Where are you all? Oh in case you haven't found me--I'm the head on the back row under the right arm of Don perched above the group looking off into the distance. I think I'll go dig out my journal and post some stuff out of it. Do you mind?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween by Proxy

I could barely utter my own name yesterday and spent a good deal of the day thinking how glorious it would be to pass on to the other side. But I took great comfort in knowing that "they to whom I have passed on my genes" were celebrating in the traditional style. Had I been able to match a costume to the antics of the swine flu in my body, I would have truly scared the tights off of one and all...Out Maryland way

...Over in Colorado
Down in Happy Valley

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley