Where the hampster wheel always turns

About Me

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Middle aged underweight high school graduate
"It is not advisable James to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener." - Francisco d'Anconia, Atlas Shrugged
"The soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now." - John F. Kennedy

Results of our Labors

Friday, July 31, 2009

Work is a big theme in our family. My husband declared a number of years ago that our job as parents was to teach our children to ‘Love the Lord and know how to work”. I agree in concept it’s just when I have to put it into practice it gets tricky.

Working along side the children seems to be the most effective mechanism for instruction. That way one can point out that a room is not clean if you still have to step over things on the floor. You can demonstrate that you actually need to make some sort of contact with the toilet to remove any sullied parts and get it clean, and it has the added benefit of adding nonverbal skills to one’s arsenal. Skills like the all effective Stink Eye, the Point and Frown and my favorite, the Cover and Gag.

Most if not all of these skills are employed during every Family Work Session. They’re really smart kids, you’d think they’d learn... But when your parents believe it’s some divine assignment it’s even harder to skirt one’s responsibilities.

It should be no surprise to us when one of our charges comes in, leans against a door and says “Dad, I’m not a fan of work.” Ooooo. Not smart. Dad of course springs into action with the decree that without work one cannot maintain that child’s current lifestyle. Someone unwilling to work quickly becomes homeless, so a cot would be erected in the garage for the child. Immediately piano lessons, soccer team, new clothes, air conditioning, swimming pool, vacations were going to be restricted. Even food was going to be altered as they were put on notice that if they were not willing to work then they didn’t earn the privilege of eating out with the rest of the family. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be packed for them whenever we went out.

Even I was impressed with how far he took it. (Usually I’m the one that pushes parental teaching moments a bit too far).

Sniffling, the child resigned themselves into returning to their chores. I couldn’t help but giggle, and be a little afraid as I also sprung into action. I didn’t want to sleep in the garage...

This weekend, after 30 minutes in the yard, unnamed child number one flops back in to the house for water. We believe in hydration so this is an acceptable break. The rest of the family follows only to hear the announcement that “I am sweating. I never sweat and this is not fair that I am sweating.” Yeah, poor thing. I look over at her dad who is dripping from head to toe. He’s been out there hours longer than the children, and I think again, they should be smarter than this and keep their mouths shut sometimes.

The kid is blotting, and wiping and being all southern belle dramatic when dad strides up with his own shirt as a visual aide. “Honey”, he drips, “I don’t sweat either.”

“Then what’s all that water all over your shirt, you’re dripping all over the floor.”

Grinning, and without missing a beat he looks down and says, “This, oh this is just body drool.”

Lovely. Since in our home the work is never going to end, all this week I’ve heard the repeated declarations, “Mooooom. piano practicing is making my body drool.” "I can't clean my room, my body will drool."

Yeah, I don’t blame you if you don’t come over either.

Don't Ask

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Like I’ve discussed before, I have wonderful and interesting people in my life. I’ve enjoyed connecting and reconnecting with many of them on the social networking site Facebook. People who matter to me, but who I have lost contact with, or who are outside my daily routine. Quite frankly, without e-mail people are lucky to hear from me once a year in my Christmas letter.

As I follow my ring of friends and family on Facebook, I’m struck with how much people in my life mean to me, and often, how little I know about them. Most of the time I consider this deficit of knowledge a bad thing and am interested in the varied status updates, quiz results and vacation photos.

Tonight I’m completely rethinking that point of view.

As I’m reading different posts from people in my life I come across one that puzzles me and makes me wince.

So and so sends so and so a “Don’t worry I won’t let go” card using Lesbian Greeting Cards.

Yes you read that right.

Now, this begs a few observations. Yes, I know this person is a lesbian and in general because it doesn’t come up in conversation it doesn’t bother me. It’s just something I choose not to discuss with any of my friends - gay or straight. None of my business really. Don’t ask, don’t tell; it’s very Clintonian of me.

I also understand the need to differentiate oneself in the marketplace, find your niche. But Lesbian Greeting Cards? Really? How are lesbian cards different from regular cards. Wait, don’t answer that.

So here’s my conundrum: do I really want to know stuff about people I care about or just the ones who reside within my comfort zone?

I don’t know the answer to that. I do know that while I do not want to receive a Lesbian Greeting Card, I do want to stay connected with this person.

Apparently, being friends with me is much like being in the military. I won’t ask and you, please, please, don’t tell.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Losing stuff is traumatic. Depending on what you lose, the trauma level increases.

Years ago our family awoke to the fact that our beloved hamster "Jumper" was gone. Living up to his name he had escaped from his cage on a high counter and at some point leapt or fell off into the oblivion of the house. The chances we were going to see Jumper ever again were slim to none.

Searching high and low, with the kids calling his name, which still makes me laugh. No, he was not a retriever hamster who came when he was called. We searched and searched. As time went on, Jumpers primary owner became more and more distraught. I was sad the hamster was gone, I was more sad at the prospect of finding a stinky dead hamster somewhere weeks later.

After all we could do, we knelt in prayer as a family and asked for divine help finding Jumper. Minutes later Jumper was found, safe and sound in a cup inside the pantry. The reunion was joyous.

Last night the same child wisely carried $90 around in their pocket. Of course, at some point the cash disappeared. Between feelings of anger at the irresponsibility, frustration at the wailing, and sympathy for the loss we searched for the money. Again, we knelt in prayer, and asked for help finding the money. We took apart sofas, looked behind furniture, went through trash bags to no avail. The trauma was palpable.

Continuing the search to the garage I crawled around on my hands and knees looking under the cars for the errant wad. The reality was, if we didn't find the money here then it was lost out somewhere in the world where its return was less likely than Jumper. Opening the passenger door I get inside and start to rummage around when suddenly there was a scream and a squeal of delight as the missing funds were spotted wedged inside the door frame.

Joy, singing, dancing, the reunion couldn't have been better.

As we reentered the house I mentioned to the child that they might want to show some appreciation. Immediately thanks overflowed to us as parents. This wasn't exactly what I meant.

Eight years ago our little family was working at the church. As us as parents scrubbed the building our toddlers played on the basketball court with other children. When it was time to go, our son was missing.

Not alarmed, we searched the building with a number of other people. We searched, and searched, and searched, and searched... there came a moment when all of the grown ups involved looked at each other and realized the two year old was not in the building. A group ran outside to search the surrounding area, I told hubby I was calling the police.

This was trauma.

Without hesitation hubby dropped to his knees and asked for help. I was a wreck, too distraught to think straight yet needing to keep thinking.

Hubby stood up from his prayer, walked directly into the women's restroom where I had been working. There, in the last stall, perched on all fours on the toilet was our missing son. Everyone who had searched the restroom, and it had been about eight adults, had gone through and looked under the doors. From where he was perched you couldn't see little feet.

Tears overflowed, gratitude welled up in my throat. Gratitude for divine help, for answered prayers, for my wise husband. I expressed gratitude for it all. And, gratitude that I had decided to do a good job on the toilets since my kid was hiding from the search party because he was having too much fun dipping his head in the toilet and flinging the water around the stall.

The reunion was still sweet.

Pioneer Day

Friday, July 24, 2009

Today is a big day in Mormondom. To the rest of the world the 24th of July is just another day, for us it constitutes at least a Utah State holiday, a parade and the sanctioning of firework displays.

The 24th of July is the day we commemorate the Mormon Pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley. After bring pillaged, driven, murdered and persecuted to their limit the westward trek offered escape from the torture of neighboring with those who misunderstood them.

The westward journey was no day hike. The trail from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake is littered with priceless possessions. Heirloom rocking chairs, dishes, and other material items who's weight became a burden against the harshness of travel. More heartbreaking are those lost in the journey, buried in unmarked graves, often too shallow to protect against wildlife. Those losses left unshedable burdens to their loved ones who journeyed on. It was a trail of tears.

While I don't have any family members who were a part of the famous migration, the footprints of those men, women and children have left an indelible imprint on my life. Much of what I hold dear is connected to the fruits of that journey.

Whether or not you're a Mormon, we all have pioneers in our heritage. Recognizing the sacrifice and courage of those who came before us give us perspective. Family members, community forefathers, inventors, settlers, founders, those who embraced the essence of America and made something out of nothing bless us all. So on this 24th of July take a moment to reflect on the gifts you inherited from those who went before you.

Rarely were those gifts created without paying a great price.

Burning Steel

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I have tried to raise up my family in a tradition of manners and decorum. While I concede they are no Stepford children, we usually accomplish a trip in public without major incident. In fact, they are often complemented on their social graces.


Then there’s living with them. Totally different story.

Currently an unnamed child is working with me on keeping their room in such a manner that the state health board doesn’t condemn it. Aside from the myriad of dried out cereal bowls with the spoon adhered tight enough you can lift the apparatus to the moldy bags of lunches long gone, whenever I’m in the pack rat paradise I wear gloves and a mask.

The surprising thing is the room must be gutted weekly for the said child to engage in any social activities so it’s not like this thing has festered for months.

Being the supportive mother I am I try and work along side my children. It makes it easier for them to hear my yelling.

As we’re purging the bookcase, under the bed, behind the door I’m appalled at the half eaten candy wrappers, wet paper, thankfully sealed ziplock bags encasing black slime... it is amazingly vile. Then we head to the closet. Timidly I swing open the door... looks relatively safe. We enter together - I’m not going to die alone in there - and start sorting. The indescribable collection of filth causes me to opt for the non communication parenting style. As said child chatters away I just nod and repeat mentally “I can survive this. I can survive this.”

890 filled trash bags later we’ve made a dent. Reaching to the back of a shelf I discover one of my favorite mixing bowls. Kitchen mixing bowls. Oh crap. Literally. It’s filled to overflowing with dirty underwear. Are you kidding me? I turn to face a grinning unnamed child who starts giggling and says “Mom, at least I organized them all.”

Now I have to figure out how to burn stainless steel.

The Saga Continues

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

For those of you who have been following the saga of the mammogram, this is an update. If you don't know what I'm talking about - click on the link above to catch up before you read on.


The day before we left on vacation the Mammofreak clinic called again. Of course, the digital pictures they took of my boob-in-a-vice didn’t turn out clear enough so we needed to repeat them “immediately.”

The word immediate is not a good word when used by the medical profession. It’s perfectly fine when used by us patients: “I need to see the Podiatrist immediately.” “I’m having the baby immediately.” Our panic is always tempered by the triage system. The urgency we express is rarely reciprocated by medics so there is rarely rushing and bumbling.

Now, when an actual medical professional uses the word “immediately” to a patient this is bad. Nothing good in medical treatment is immediate. I’ve had it used a couple of times on me and both times it involved the loss of large amounts of blood and emergency surgery. So to me “immediately” = “bad”.

I take a deep breath, still frustrated at my first exchange and ask a really stupid question...”Since you read the films as I’m in the gown, why was this not determined when I was here before?” Shame on me, that would have made sense. Making sense is not what they are paid to do. The nice lady on the other end of the line stutters a bit and then just repeats her first request “We need you to come in immediately to retake the images.”

Well, it was not going to happen. My real life was in the way so I made the appointment for when I returned (6 weeks later, which was yesterday). This seemed appropriately immediate to me.

Before I go I give myself a little pep talk: “Be nice to the people this time.” “This is a necessary procedure.” “Everything’s gonna be OK.” I admit, I was a little scared.

Check-in and patient dismantling this time went much more smoothly. As I sat alone, robed, with Regis and Kelly blaring in the waiting room I swung my legs back and forth like a child. I was nervous.

The technician summoned me, at least I think it was me, it’s hard to tell ‘cause people can rarely pronounce my name but the last name was correct so I went with it.

In the darkened room she showed me the original images, explained what was wrong and then said casually “Take your arm out of your sleeve.”

I understand when you mammo for a living, this gets rather mundane, but since I don’t strip for a living even in an clinical setting I was a little timid. She matter-of-factly tapes a BB imbedded Hello Kitty band-aid on my nipple so “we can tell which is which.”
I suppose that makes sense, but Hello Kitty? I’m indignant.

Having none of my nonsense she lunges forward grabs me in some sort of mammo death grip, slings my arm over the machine and wenches me in. I giggle inappropriately and she says “Oh honey, are you ticklish?”

Ticklish? TICKLISH? Yeah, that’s what I”m feeling right now. I can barely breathe the pain is so acute so I, as kindly as a person having part of their body squeezed off can, through gritted teeth ask her to “TAKE THE PHOTO!”

She shuffles over to the controls, snaps the photo and releases me. I cover up, having survived the ordeal and stand looking over her shoulder at my images. She’s chatting away about what she sees when out pops: “Hmmm, I don’t quite like that one, the last technician used more compression. Let’s do it again!”

My ears start ringing, and I’ve forgotten to breathe, but somehow she wrangles me back into the mammo grip, cinches me in securely enough I can lift my feet off the ground. I believe at one point I passed out since the next thing I remember is her reading the second photos and me doubled over with my hands on my knees breathing deeply.

My self pep talk has long worn off and now it’s just a matter of survival. Of course I want potential bad news early so it’s easier to treat, but at this point I’m not sure if my boob can handle all this attention. I look down to make sure it’s still there and wasn’t pinched off by the machine.

Before I can even get my bearings this deceptively slight technician has me back in the machine, cranking the control until she says, smiling that evil villain torture smile “Well, this is as tight as it goes.”

I don’t remember much after that. Next thing I know I’m back with Regis and Kelly, still in a gown and numb on the right side of my body. Suddenly in pops Nurse Ratched, smiling and telling me that everything is “normal.”

Although I intuited that all would be fine, this is still a relief to me. But as I’m dressing I feel the disingenuous reality behind her statements. When we start calling what I just went through “normal” us girls are in trouble.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for technology, people who know how to use it, doctors, access to health care, but the day a fully dressed woman decorates your private parts with kiddie bandaids, grabs one shoulder and your other boob and smashes them between two cold plastic plates to take pictures is normal, means we’ve entered the Twilight Zone.

I'll Keep My Day Job

Monday, July 20, 2009

My mother tells me I should be a travel writer. It’s very true I’ve been incredibly blessed to see a wonderful array of locations, cultures and climes. Usually when I do travel I spend time watching the local wildlife. Wildlife that sleeps in dens and caves as well as wildlife that drive minivans. The flaw in Mom’s suggestion is that while I do love to travel, and having some successful publications might offset the financial burden, early in my travels I came to the realization that my favorite places are those that the rest of you don’t know about, so why would I mess that up?

I still pout about my experience in the Sistine chapel, crammed elbow to elbow on a 100 degree day with literally thousands of people trying to take in the majesty of the artwork. Craning my neck I was stepped on, goosed, body checked, felt up and experienced an adrenal surge when armed guards yelled at the crowd to ‘Siliencio!!’ Not only was I not able to focus on anything I had come so far to see, I had an all out panic attack. Blotting beads of cold sweat and trying desperately to breathe I had to get out of there.

Not wanting to become separated from our group, but feeling my feet go numb from the asphyxiation I was surely experiencing, I pressed my way to a small bench at the side of the room. There I sat, looking at the belts, backs and bottoms of the kabillion other tourists who had come to see where Michelangelo lay on his back quietly communing with God. I’m still mourning the experience I had against the experience I wanted.

Right now I’m sitting in an undisclosed location, somewhere in Maine. The quaint tiny town is a collection of farmers markets, bed and breakfasts and coastline. Reclining on the porch of a beach house, the ocean lapping at my feet. There is a lone sailboat amid the lobster boats that dot the horizon and mother sea birds teach their fledgling young to dive for lunch.

The cove I’m overlooking forms a perfect arc so the New England cottages butting up to the seaside are just within view to give a perfect frame to the vast ocean. A lighthouse in the distance completes this postcard scene just for me. Sometimes the wind gusts catch the screens just right and drone a deep, soothing almost tantric hum. There is not a soul in sight. It couldn’t be more idyllic.

After getting settled in my spacious lodgings I set out to explore. The New England architecture,

The immaculately kept details, seemingly fresh paint set against the backdrop of bright green lawns, wooded back yards and blue sky are stunning.

A bit farther down the road I come across Kennebunkport of the Bush family fame. It's a charming little town mixing both elegance and kitsch seamlessly.

Lest I think life here is without challenge I come upon a photo of the home where I am staying. Fortunately this was taken in the winter, months away from when I will be here, but the four story home is engulfed by mother nature.

For lunch I’m walking up the road to a purveyor of lobsters. He recommends the soft shell variety because they aren’t as dry when they are cooked. Selecting my entree he tells me to come back in a half an hour. I wander the streets making my way to a pick-your-own stand. Of course I must pick my own raspberries and blueberries. Making a corn selection I’ve completed the meal preparations all within 200 yards of the surf.

My lobster comes already cooked, cracked and neatly wrapped in a foil-lined lobbie bag (doesn’t make sense to call it a doggie bag). I cross the street to my lodgings proud of my purchases.

Laying the spread before me I’m confident that while I’ve tried lobster, corn and fresh fruit before - this promises to surpass any culinary experience I’ve had. There’s something exhilarating and empowering being this close to my food production. the blueberries pop in my mouth they are so fresh, the lobster, blanketed in melted butter, has a briny essence that is unreplicateable. To have this kind of experience you have to be here. To select your own lobster from the tank, harvest your own berries, rest your own feet in the sand...

It's wonderful all by myself!

No... I can’t be a travel writer.

Fishy Man

Sunday, July 19, 2009

When I was a child - about six years old - we lived next door to a wonderful couple Mr. and Mrs. Weir. I have no idea what their first names were, I was only allowed to call them Mr. and Mrs. Despite the seeming formality, they were my very best friends. I would climb through the hedges and show up at their doorstep, unannounced. I was always granted admission into their lives. Whether it was watching the Price is Right while making latch hook rugs and eating corn flakes with whipped cream or working in their rose garden, I was never turned away.

I still vividly remember releasing ladybugs into the garden. The wonder at this experience is etched in my emotional psyche. It was one of those magical perfect moments in life with ladybugs crawling all over my outstretched hands. As they reached the tips of my fingers they would part their half shell wings and take flight. For a six year old tomboy there couldn’t have been anything much better.

They expanded my world all while making me feel welcome, safe and loved.

I was lucky to have them as friends and cried bitterly when they moved away to a smaller, more manageable home. Despite their white hair, I never thought of them as older than me. It never crossed my mind. They were just my friends.

There is a special emotion a mother feels toward someone who sees her children a little bit like she sees them. I often look at my own children, and well up with emotion on how wonderful they are. My children are fortunate enough to have people in their lives who treat them with the same welcome.

Ever since they could walk my youngest have had a bond with “Fishy Man”. Every Sunday morning they would run to find Fishy Man who would dig in his pockets for the red Swedish Fish he kept for such occasions. He would ask them about their lives and then ask "Who's the greatest?" To which they were required to reply that he was the “King of the Universe” or “Master of All” before they were granted a fish. It was the highlight of their church service.

Fishy Man was never without fish, and he was never without a moment for my children. Despite the demands upon him he would always stop to converse with them in his grown up voice. My kids always used their very best grown up voices with him. When they returned to me, bearing fish, the fish was secondary to the experience they had being with him. they felt welcome, safe and loved.

While I had my own relationship with Fishy Man, I loved him even more because he loved my children.

Fishy Man passed away this weekend. His family is dear to me and I mourn with them. I also mourn the loss for my children.

Everyone needs such a friend.

I Can't Leave Him Alone

Thursday, July 16, 2009

While I was traveling this summer hubby stayed behind in order to support my lavish lifestyle. It's grueling work but it must be done. The thing I didn't quite take into account is how deeply he relies on me for rather mundane tasks. I also was completely unaware what can happen when he's left alone for long periods of time.

I did make plans for my dog, who throws temper tantrums when left alone too long. The dog usually eats butter and any homemade baked goods he can pull off the counter. He does not however, eat store bought baked goods but shreds the packaging and the contents all over the carpet as a statement of protest. Upon my return he won't make eye contact and does everything he can to avoid the scene of the crime. I think my dog is pretty smart.

On the other hand, when I returned home from my long absence hubby did not display any of the same street smarts. Kinda makes a girl eyeball the man then the dog and wonder a few things.

For instance, hubby is an incredibly hard worker. A fantastic quality I enjoy watching. He spends hours in the yard mowing, pruning, repairing, raking, leaf blowing - irregardless of the temperature. For a variety of reasons - some legitimate, some not - I avoid high heat yardwork like the plague. Each weekend he can expect a supportive wave from me through a window as I sip my lemonade in air conditioned splendor. He's so fortunate to be married to me.

So I return home to a slightly disheveled house, which is fine. (Remember, he supported my lavish travels hither and yon.) As I'm picking up the family room I spot a hat behind the couch. I pick up the hat and have a surreal moment. It's a women's hat. I'm no dummy. Immediately I know I've been replaced by a high-temperature yard-working woman he found while I was lounging on a beach. Sad thing is, I can't blame him. I'd have replaced me long ago.

Lifting the hat I say accusingly, "What is THIS??" He says straightfacedly - "It's my hat."

Now this exchange has gone on countless unfortunate times in eons of marriages. "Who's lace thong is this?" "Um, mine?" "Who's bra is this?" "Um, It's not yours?" "Who's lipstick is on your collar?" "Um, it must be my grandmas."

I'm no dummy, I'm not falling for these shenanigans. "Hubby", I say, "This is a woman's hat"
Unfazed he replies, "Well, I bought it in the Men's section at WalMart (the kicker...) "while you were gone."

Now, we know, he does have a polyester red jumpsuit he wears at work. He's got the sandals and black socks look mastered. There's the collection of too large pants that gather at his waist because he's been working out like a madman but won't buy new pants. He's got floods, a deerskin coat from high school, fanny packs, speedos... I am under no delusions the man is a fashion plate but really, I leave town and he runs to WalMart to purchase a woman's hat?

I bury my face in my hands, waiting for the rest.

"Yeah, I love the wide brim and the air flow through the macrame weave. I've been wearing it every day for weeks. People honk when they drive by."

I bet they do...

Yep, there it is. My job is to keep his fashion disasters within certain parameters. Clearly I can not leave him or the dog alone anymore. Still, there's hope for the dog - at least he shows some shame.

Dang, where'd he hide that hat?

Potayto... Po-Ta-To

Monday, July 13, 2009

This summer I was able to travel with my children to Idaho. It was my first trip to the land of the potato. We went to see family but I admit my attention was completely captured by some of the local color.

I love museums. You could drop me off in almost any museum and pick me up a week later. You’d find me blissfully happy and extremely well read. I have an extremely hard time passing up plaques, inscriptions, and notecards explaining the dates and details of the items on display. I’m sure I get this affectation from my father, who is the only person alive who can out read me in a museum.

Because I remember the tortuous hours spent reclined on museum benches waiting for my own father to finish reading, and because I’m a renowned team player, I temper my reading for my family and try and keep pace. Sheepishly I admit, I have been known to return to local museums the day after our initial visit, unbeknownst to my spouse or progeny to finish reading where I left off. (My secret is now out of the bag).

So imagine my delight when researching ‘things to do in Blackfoot, Idaho I discover that the World Potato Expo is based there, now renamed the “Idaho Potato Museum.” I mean, really, how can you pass something like this up? Not only does it promise to educate patrons on the workings of the potato, but it also boasts the world’s largest baked potato sculpture.

I quivered with kitschy anticipation. We arrived on a Monday, but couldn’t attend until Thursday. Because Blackfoot is not a large town, we would drive by the establishment taunting my with the promise of unfolding knowledge and a free box of hash-browns.

I didn’t know anything about potatoes except they grow underground and taste good with bacon, so in preparation for my visit I set out to explore a local potato field. On a morning run, I found myself squatting next to a furrow, examining the bright green leaves. Fortunately Blackfoot is not densely populated so I was not interrupted as I tried desperately to figure out how they planted, harvested and especially watered the crop.

The giant wheeled sprinkler apparatuses seemed designed to move across the field, but also seemed cumbersome to push and not hooked up to other mechanics. I made a mental note to find out if there were potato elves or an enslaved race of teenagers bonded to push the giant sprinklers. Sadly, no one I talked to knew how they moved the giant sprinklers. I had to go to the source of all knowledge "Wikipedia" to learn about lateral move and central pivot irrigation systems. More sadly, there is not an oppressed group that facilitates either system's movements.

Mercifully Thursday finally came. The children took no coaxing to perch on and around the ginormous potato complete with sour cream and butter. I had gathered other willing attendees for my excursion, so we had quite a group for the museum. As we entered the shrine of potatoness there were all sorts of photos, diagrams and exhibits explaining the origins, life cycle and deification of the potato. In some ancient cultures there was a potato god. America arguably has continued the ancient tradition with our addiction to the french fry.

The rooms unfolded displays of vital potato information

ancient potato sacrifice tools, the largest collection of mashers in the world,

the world’s largest potato chip (donated by Pringles),

heart shaped potatoes, and in a wonderful display of not taking one’s self too seriously, a potato signed by Dan Quayle himself. Complete with a letter of authenticity (potato spelled correctly.)

I can’t tell you how I glowed with potato delight. Even the gift shop was selling a cornucopia of potato novelties. We bought “Idaho Spud” candy bars to sample (did-that-not-doin'-it-again), keychains, magnets and my absolute favorite a new “Darth Tater” apron for when I cook up my complimentary box of hash browns.

Having reached a new hight of culinary fashion, I was completely satisfied for the day.

Now, I wonder what’s in Pocatello?

Living in the Lore

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Of course I love John Adams even though for most of my life I've been disappointed that his above statement hasn't turned out to be true. (It's my birthday) But how can you not love a guy who writes a 'to do' list and the second item from the bottom is "Declaration of Independency", yep THE Declaration of Independency - or Independence as we like to call it today. That's an impressive 'to do' list. All I've ever had on mine is 'buy milk', 'pick up kids', 'shave dog'. Nothing that would ever make historians sit up and notice.

So much of our history is taught through legend and lore. Was there really a cherry tree that got chopped down? Historians say, probably not. Did Thomas Jefferson write the Constitution? Well, some of it, but not the part we all know by heart. The preamble was written by a guy no one has heard of (unless you're a nerd) named Gouverneur Morris (PA). And how about this big celebration we're all about to have on July 4th. Isn't that the day that Thomas Jefferson signed his John Hancock on the aforementioned Declaration of Independence? Well, despite the memories of men who were there, historians have proven that Jefferson was shopping on July 4th and that the actual signing took place on August 8th.

So what's a girl to believe? I bought enough fireworks at Costco to singlehandedly light up the Utah sky in a couple of days. If I wait until August I will likely be arrested - for two reasons, I'll be back in Arizona where they are smart enough to ban consumer fireworks, and in August they'll be illegal in Utah as the window of permissibility will have closed by then. Since by some miracle I haven't yet been arrested, I'm going to light them all on the 4th with the rest of the crazies.

Being a pragmatist, I've realized some things in my old age. In theory it would be good to keep a detailed journal. This would have prevented Jefferson and Adams to later insist that the signing took place on the 4th. It would have saved us a whole lot of confusion. Yet, despite the confusion, the reality is, life goes on in the lore. The important part of the celebration is the sacrifice, the liberty, the miracle of the whole thing. Whether it happened on July 4th or August 8th is really of little consequence.

Which brings me to how this relates to me. I've lived to the ripe old age of 40. Many before me have crossed this milestone, and likely with more fanfare than I plan for the occasion. In the wisdom of the sage (me) I've realized that the moments and milestones that have made up that life are what should be celebrated. It is of little consequence which day they actually happened. It is of consequence that I remember the details. I report what I learned, share the color that has made me, me.

My kids don't care what day I competed in a beauty pageant. They do care that during the evening gown section I stepped on the netting of my dress, yanked my torso forward and ripped the dress a new train almost tipping my escort over. They don't care what day I landed in the Phoenix airport with my few month old baby. They do want to know every detail of when comedian Adam Sandler stopped me, cootchie cooed said baby and then and kissed the baby.

One day, the stories will be less for entertainment. They won't care to know the date of my first kiss, but they will want the details of it because they're experiencing their first love. They won't ask for an affidavit when our family moved from a beloved place to a new one, but they will want some support as they go through the same. They won't ask the date I attended my grandmother's funeral, but they will want to know my belief in the afterlife.

And it doesn't matter to me that by some monumental goof we celebrate the signing of our independence on the wrong day, it does matter that inspired brave men worked tirelessly, sacrificed greatly, and suffered mightily that they might win that independence.

What greater birthday gift could a girl ever want?