08 December 2007

it's offically here

this week the Christmas season hit us like a big bag of oranges. on Wednesday night English, Ash and i did a little role playing for the ward's young women's activity. they held a 'Journey to Bethlehem' progressive dinner and we were invited to participate as the Holy Family. it was a bit awkward at first and i was amazed to see that many cell phones in use at one time but is was a quintessential experience - and the first time i'd ever dressed up to play in the Nativity. earlier in the day i was mentally going through our closets and drawers to create authentic New Testament garb and nothing was materializing. but what do you know? fifteen minutes before we were supposed to be on our way we threw together some pretty good costumes. English looked great as Joseph in the fool-proof dad bath robe accented with a yellow ocher bed sheet shawl and matching pillow case with ugly tie headdress. honestly, i looked less like Mary and more like the ghost of Christmas Pageants but i did wear sandals for that special touch. and Ash, well it didn't matter what she was wearing (white jammies and a flannel blanket)... everyone thought she was the best anyway.

besides looking the part English and i were also asked to share a few words concerning 'our thoughts' about the experience we'd had as Mary and Joseph. it went pretty well but the best modern rendition of Mary and Joseph's experince i heard on This American Life last Christmas. i was six months pregnant at the time so it was very dear to my heart. we listened to it again this year after the activity and it's still just as good. if you have eight minutes give it a listen (free on thislife.org). it's the last story but the whole show is worth the time too.

then last night was the ward Christmas Dinner and as one of two members of the activities committee i had a day filled with the usual party prep: pick up 13 cheesecakes from Costco, twist crepe paper down the length of several tables, figure out how to turn on the microphone in the cultural hall, rearrange the program at the last minute when the primary chorister doesn't show up, etc. fortunately my co-committee member is my good friend (and very organized) so we were able to get the thing off the ground without too much trouble. plus everyone loves turkey roast - even in Sanpete County. so it was a success! and it never ceases to amaze me how the clean up crew divides and conquers. i'm convinced that given an evening, a small group of Mormons could completely dismantle an entire town and folks driving through would never know that it was ever there.

the only negative feedback i got from the dinner was early this morning (around 1:00 am) when i awoke from a fitful sleep of repetitive dreams about consolidating pans and pans and never ending pans of funeral potatoes and i couldn't get back to sleep. i was compensated though... if i wouldn't have been awake, i wouldn't have heard or seen the half-dozen deer walking around our house and chewing on our lawn at 3:00 am. that was really neat.

01 December 2007


the first real snow of the season suitably fell last night, making the first of December a white one. it's quite lovely. this morning around 7:00 the power went out and everything was so quiet and still. an hour later the annual 'Shop With A Cop' brigade was sirening down main street toward Wal*Mart to take some needy kids Christmas shopping - it's the first time i've ever heard of that. of course we had to check it out... then we had to check out the snow.

i think she's a fan.

27 November 2007

Spiral Jetty, finally

after three years of encouraging my students to 'go see one of thee most famous earthworks - here in our very own state,' i finally went and did it myself the day after Thanksgiving. it was beautiful... and terribly cold.

19 November 2007

recess chronicles

Ash really enjoys watching the elementary school kids play during recess so we usually go out to the backyard once or twice a day to observe the goings on from our side of the chain link fence. some days are better than others but today during fourth grade recess was especially good. we saw a couple boys loading one side of a teeter-totter up with gravel then one of them says, 'let's launch it!!' he runs over to the other side and with all his might pulls the heavy, industrial strength teeter-totter down on his side. when the empty side hits the ground the gravel shoots about oh, seven or eight inches in the air. the boys are thrilled. 'awesome!!' and the game begins again. after launching gravel a couple more times one of the boys stands where the gravel used to be as the other boy tries with all of his might to move him up into the air (maybe he planned on launching him too). but as it turns out, there's nothin' doin' since the standing up boy must weigh 'a hundred pounds', according to the boy who is trying to launch him.

then a swarm of five or six girls, followed by one boy, runs by to the merry-go-round. the girls hop on while the boy, Bruce is obviously trying wreck things. two of the girls are very emphatic that Bruce stop touching the merry-go-round and they keep yelling, 'get away, Bruce! get away!' so Bruce takes off chasing one of the girls who wasn't on the merry-go-round yet.

and finally, three boys are playing tether ball only they aren't really playing they're just swatting at the ball and trying to hit each other with it. one of the boys, let's call him Short Sleeves, gets a pretty good run with the tether ball making another boy, let's call him Long Sleeves, pretty mad. mean while the third boy is just watching all of this play out. after all sorts of protesting and attempts to have the tether ball for himself Long Sleeves gets pretty mad and out of nowhere kicks Short Sleeves right in the crotch. Short Sleeves is obviously hurt but pulls himself together enough to start making his way toward the teacher who is playing jump rope with a some girls a few yards away. when Long Sleeves realizes where Short Sleeves is headed he starts booking it to get there first... and he does since Short Sleeves is a little slow due to his recent injury. before Short Sleeves even arrives Long Sleeves is pointing and saying, 'teacher, he kicked me!' Short Sleeves is outraged! 'no he kicked me!' and before he can even finish his side of the story Long Sleeves is making more false accusations (and of course lots of pointing at Short Sleeves and the tether ball and so forth). the teacher says something that i can't really hear and just as fast as it began it's over. Long Sleeves makes a run for some place else and Short Sleeves goes back to the tether ball to bring the third boy up to speed on what just happened. the bell rings and everyone makes a mad dash toward the school.

01 November 2007

why did Picasso cut off his ear?

last week in my 9:30 design class one of my students asked why Picasso cut off his ear. she also presented her first-person project on Michelangelo in a pinstriped button-up suit (dressed as the artist). yes, she has declared art as her major.

i got this email from a student who didn't show up to give his presentation.
hello Mrs brooks this is P im sorry i didn't come to class today i actually came late at 11:40 i know that is no excuse however i had my project done and was up all night finishing it. I was actually planning on pulling an all nighter and getting my character ready (what i was going to wear) though i know excuses wont get me anywhere. I would just like to explain that i took a nap and woke up at 11:30 i did however complete my project and would like to know if there is anyway i can still present it and if you could tell me what i missed in class to i would really appreciate that thank you for your time.

here's the reply i felt like sending...

please use punctuation. you're right, excuses aren't getting you anywhere. in fact, telling me about your all-nighter doesn't make me think you are a dedicated student or deserving of a little slack. it just affirms to me that you don't know how to manage your time and you need to pull it together. i'll admit procrastination is part of the game here but instead of taking a nap after staying up all night, drink a BooKoo so you can make it through the last few hours of your sleep deprivation experiment and get to class to present your project. oh, and remember how last time you asked me to fill you in on what you missed in class i reminded you that it's your responsibility to find out from a classmate? yeah, same deal.
i didn't reply though. i just talked to the student in class today and reminded him that if he misses his presentation day he has to take a zero on the project. but hey... that's what blogs are for!

22 October 2007

toothbrushes for Halloween - don't knock it

this year as we were brainstorming for pumpkin carving ideas we suddenly had the notion to carve my older brother's face into our awesome home-grown pumpkin. for obvious reasons it made both English and i laugh the whole way home. so here it is: the dentist of light...
third year for 'best over all' at the annual Pumpkin Carving and Wassail Party.

and here's a photo of my brother to reference (so you can tell that it's him and not Obama or someone else). he also hands out toothbrushes for Halloween like my Dad has for as many years as i can remember.

13 October 2007

the skeleton dance

until last week i hadn't seen this for 20 years. my dance teacher used to show it to us each Halloween. i love it (and i love YouTube for having it). man, Disney used to be so awesome!

08 October 2007

so long

a couple months ago i started a post describing our saga with the new landlady at our old place - after all it was quite a story - that i planned on publishing after we got our deposit back. but after the major blowout i deleted the post in an effort to eliminate any remnant of her from myself. it was a good idea, very therapeutic. however, i still feel the need to tell the story though. i don't know... call it what you will but there's a need. so the following isn't the original post. in fact, it's a link to something English wrote a few nights ago (i did ask his permission) but it sums things up nicely... and the photos help too.

teenwolf exodus blues

04 October 2007

comfort food

Comfort food is typically inexpensive, uncomplicated, and easy to prepare. - courtesy Wikipedia

my comfort food is peanut butter and honey toast... preferably on Great Harvest honey whole wheat. of course i eat it on a regular basis but it was one of the only things i actually wanted to eat while suffering from postpartum depression and whether knowingly or not, i have it when i've had an exceptionally tough day... like yesterday (major blow out with the old landlady). peanut butter and honey toast truly is comforting.

what's your comfort food?

26 September 2007

an idea

i like necklaces. they are my accessory of choice. up until just recently didn't have them in any organized fashion and it was kind of a pain to get them untangled or not be able to find the one i was looking for. of course i thought of a jewelery box but i know i would just end up piling all the necklaces on top of the box after a week or two. so then i thought of a key rack, you know like you have near the back door. but then i'd have to drill two holes into the walls of wherever i was renting... plus i was having a hard time finding a cool key rack that didn't have cherubim or elk on it. so after a couple weeks of brain storming and throwing ideas back and forth i came up with this:

i took one of my panels (just a piece of board) and painted it with some acrylic paint - yellow ochre - one of my most favorite colors. then i hammered five little nails in and fitted the back with eyelets and picture wire so it would hang like a painting. then hang up the necklaces all organized and nice and you know, i have to say it is quite artistic, not to mention aesthetically pleasing. so, yeah i was feeling quite innovative and i thought i'd share.

22 September 2007

six months

and here we are a half year later. i'm completely enamored.

11 September 2007

best if used before

i have this memory - the visual is a bit hazy but the audio is clear - of my G'ma Jones and my Aunt Shirley cleaning out the fridge at my house. i was probably five or six, hence the haze, but the thing that is amazingly sharp is the phrase, 'when in doubt, throw out'.

certain things have a way of piling up in the fridge. for me it's little tubs of different kinds of cheese (feta, parmesan, etc.). at my family's cabin it's pickles, 2-liter sodas, mustard, jell-o cups, and containers of frosting (?).

while English, Ash and i were staying there for a few days we finally decided to clean out the fridge and make some space. it was a mix between spelunking and visiting the Medical Oddities Museum. as more and more and yet, more jars of pickles were stacked on the kitchen floor (all of which were open and partially gone) we realized the incredible nature of this event and we had to document.

that's ten, count 'em, ten jars of pickles.

each of these frosting containers had about half an inch of frosting in the bottom that was dried up and resembled an old clay river bed.

the oldest thing in the fridge... any guesses?

a jar of Nalley Horseradish Mustard (one of nine mustards). over twelve years old. and the second oldest thing... the same type and brand of mustard, just a few months younger. you don't believe me, i know - so here's the proof:

02 September 2007

o nine, o one, seventy-nine

you know those days when your shirt turns into a burp cloth?

i'm leaning into it.

in other news, English ran 28 miles along the Skyline Drive yesterday to celebrate his 28th birthday. Ash and i drove the 'support vehicle' and enjoyed the views. Ash chewed on her Grover at the stops and we chatted for most of the drive. English did great and the only casualty was that he sunburned the left side of his neck.

English & T.R. cresting the hill .......................... Ash passes some time
the finish line
so, does this make me an enabler?

30 August 2007

back to school

so we've moved four blocks south and a block and a half east - more on that later - and our new backyard shares a fence with the elementary school playground. on the first day of school i heard a swarm of first grade voices yelling, 'all aboard!' then lots of laughing and screaming. i looked out the window to see 2/3 of the grade on the merry-go-round! it was awesome!

i'm pretty sure these merry-go-rounds have been banned from most school playgrounds so it was good to see that Ephraim Elem. still has one (for better or worse).

of course seeing this brought back all sorts of memories. during the early grades my favorite place to play was the monkey bars. i tried to do a 'cherry drop' once and got the wind knocked out of me when i landed in the gravel on my side. then in 3rd and 4th grade i was pretty much the rockin'est 4-square player in the whole grade.

but when i think of 'back to school' there are a few things that stand out in my mind:

the smell of freshly mowed grass
brand-spankin'-new clothes
Pee-Chee© folders

i wish i could get my hands on some Pee-Chee folders. the doodling possibilities are endless!

11 August 2007

ode to the garden

when we lived in Salt Lake on 2nd Avenue i grew tomatoes and basil plants in terra cotta pots on our balcony. i think i got five tomatoes... it was great! here in Sanpete where rent is cheap and land is abounding we've planted a 300 square foot garden with corn, pumpkins, zucinni, beans, peppers, peas, carrots, onions, potatoes, radishes, turnips, sunflowers, and of course, tomatoes and basil. this is the third year with our garden and i feel the need to sing its praise (with photos).

there really is nothing better than a garden tomato.

14 July 2007

that reminds me of a hymn

speaking of church... everyone has hymns that they like. ones that they look forward to singing with 'vigor and vim', to use a phrase from a primary song. i'd say my top five are:
  1. High On a Mountain Top - hymn no. 5
  2. For the Beauty of the Earth - no. 92
  3. In Humility, Our Savior - no. 172
  4. All Creatures of Our God and King - no. 62
  5. Abide with Me! - no. 166
likewise there are hymns that i really do not care for and even have trouble mustering up the desire to sing (gasp!) but that's the truth. my bottom five are (sorry if you like these ones):
  1. The Iron Rod - no. 274
  2. As Sisters in Zion - no. 309
  3. True to the Faith - no. 254
  4. Let Us Oft Speak Kinds Words to Each Other - no. 232
  5. Who's on the Lord's Side? - no.260
now, ye who are without dislikes, cast the first stone. just as i thought... no stones. admit it. there are hymns you don't like either.

30 June 2007

here's the church, here's the steeple

on Wednesday evening i was out talking with our next door neighbors, Lee and Leona (a newly married couple in their sixties who work for the county). they're nice folks and they watch out for us. anyway, Leona is from Delta and she was telling me about some friends of hers out there that had recently bought a new house - a church house actually - and had made it into their home. i was envisioning one of those old pioneer churches like the one in Pine Valley that would work as a house. but it turns out these friends of theirs actually bought a ward building for $50,000.00 and are living in it... just the two of them.

so what the heck, right? totally! well, they've made the chapel into a bedroom - but not their bedroom - Lee told me in a rather matter of fact way that they sleep in one of the other rooms. i didn't find out which one but i bet it's either the YW room or the Primary room. the cultural hall is the t.v. room - that's a no brainer - and they also host the family parties in there. oh, and they put their Christmas tree on the stage - Lee told me that part twice. they've got the huge parking lot surrounding them so there's no traffic to speak of but the do have three skunks living under the church. it wasn't clear whether or not they caught two of them, but the guy got sprayed. he had to throw all of his clothes and his wallet away. i asked them if he had to bathe in tomato juice and Leona told me, with a huge grin, yes... in oodles and oodles of tomato juice.

21 June 2007

sometimes i forget that i'm a painter

after a hiatus of sorts, i've started painting again... still exploring the elevated plastic idea. i finished this one on Tuesday.

it feels really good.

also, English has been working on getting the two grocery stores here in Ephraim (Kent's and Wal*Mart) to start crediting folks 5¢ for each bag of their own they bring for their stuff. that would be great!

12 June 2007

can Superman read minds?

okay, okay. about a month ago English and i were ranch-sitting again so we had access to cable tv. no, i didn't watch more Top Model (although i definitely could have) but i did watch Superman - the one from 1978 with Christopher Reeve. it had probably been a good fifteen, twenty years since i'd seen it last and i was surprised at how much of it i remembered: Lois making fresh-squeezed oj in her office, the helicopter dangling from the skyscraper, Lex Luthor putting the Kryptonite around Superman's neck and his assistant rescuing him from the pool (but not without a kiss first). i even remembered the interview that Superman gave Lois when he told her she was wearing pink underwear and looked through her to see her healthy lungs that weren't yet damaged by her smoking habit.

but folks, what i did not remember was the ridiculous poem that Lois's mind recites when Superman takes her for a fly after the interview. if you can picture the scene... Superman and Lois are sailing through the night sky above NYC, passing through clouds, dipping down near the Statue of Liberty, Lois even slips free of Superman's grip and starts plummeting for Earth (no worries, Superman saves her for sure). but as they're flying with the wind blowing through Lois's hair and chiffon dress and Superman's curl and cape, Lois starts narrating what you think is just stream of consciousness. but no, it's a poem of sorts:
Can you read my mind? Do you know what it is that you do to me?
I don't know who you are. Just a friend from another star.
Here I am, like a kid out of school. Holding hands with a god. I'm a fool.
Will you look at me? Quivering. Like a little girl, shivering.
You can see right through me. Can you read my mind?
Can you picture the things I'm thinking of?
Wondering why you are... all the wonderful things you are.
You can fly. You belong in the sky. You and I... could belong to each other.
If you need a friend... I'm the one to fly to.
If you need to be loved... here I am. Read my mind.
wow! or is it yikes!? and do you feel that uncanny feeling of eighth grade English class? or maybe it's a flashback of the poem in Cipher in the Snow.

08 June 2007

everybody sleeps, everybody sleeps...

every night we close our eyes
until the morning creeps
mountaineers on mountain tops
and divers in the deep
they like to sleep
how we you know it's so
'cause everybody, everybody sleeps

sleep is a big deal around here these days. just short of keeping a sleep log, i'm well aware of how much and how well everyone in the family is sleeping. this last week we've been making a sleep transition with Ash so i've been getting tips and advice from several sources. one of the things i've read talks about how the sleep habits we develop as a baby/child affect the way we sleep as a teen and even an adult. this got me wondering about the habits i developed as a child and how and if they affect me now.

i don't remember naps - that's not to say i didn't take them - but i don't remember taking them. except this one time, i remember very well: my mom told my sister and i that it was nap time, she closed the curtains (which created this weird half lit room - i remember that very well) we laid down on our beds on top of the covers, and she told us to go to sleep. well, my sister and i shared a room so we just looked at each other, then at the ceiling, then at the curtains, then at the ceiling... then we got up. but that was once. what i remember more is being very quiet sitting in the kitchen learning how to tie my shoe or hiding on the stairs (great hiding place) trying to blow a bubble with some big pink gum i wasn't supposed to have while my mom was taking a nap. oh, and i would always try to fake like i was asleep after driving home in the evening so Mom or Dad would carry me inside. i probably fooled them two or three times.

and now, all i really know is that it takes me a lot longer to fall asleep than it does for English to fall asleep and i have a thing called the sleep demon*.

so what does that mean for Ash? well, as far as i can tell she's a pretty good little sleeper and i don't think i can take much credit. she's been way smarter than me from the beginning. my only concern is that we'll be swaddling her until she's fifteen.

* sleep demon (n): an irritable spirit or fiend that inhabits the bodies of those who do not want to be awake, usually for only a short time, but can last up to several minutes. She was possessed by the sleep demon when someone woke her up from a much needed nap to ask her a silly question. do not provoke.

18 May 2007

apartment under new ownership

i really like our apartment. it's a one bedroom on the main floor of a house built around the turn of the 20th century. it's got tall ceilings, big windows and the kitchen is the biggest room in the house. oh, and it's got a yard with a huge garden spot to the east where we've had a butt-kickin' garden for the last two summers.

a week before we had Ash our landlady - who for all intents and purposes was a great landlady - called to tell us she was selling the house. in the words of our sixty-year-old neighbor, Lee it was a "dirty deal." three weeks later i was sprawled out on the futon talking with my sister about the hardships of being a new mom when the new landlady came to look at the place. since then she has bought the house, moved into the upstairs apartment and we're in a month to month contract. yeah, you could say we got lucky. she could have given us thirty days.

but in some ways i kind of wish she had. i mean, she's nice and all but it's been really tough to have her take over. she's got all of these plans and projects for the place, which is typical and expected for a new home owner. but the crappy thing is some of these plans affect us in a negative way. for example, she wants to put lawn in over the garden spot. fortunately English put his foot down insisting we need a garden so she said we could have half. she's going to sod half this year and half next year. why not wait and do it all next year? good question. i have to admit we took a bit more than half - about four feet more - and that chaps her hide. i happen to know this because i saw her out our window complaining about it to someone she was showing the place to: "the garden was supposed to end at that post." hopefully she'll see how great the garden is and realize that four feet is not a big deal.

in the mean time we're trying to keep a good attitude while drawing very specific boundaries with her (she's asked a couple time to bring her family though - grand kids and all - to show them the place while Ash and i have been taking naps). however, i can't help but think that she's got us on a month to month in hopes that she'll drive us crazy and we'll move. well, we've got the garden planted so i hope that's not the case.

porch decor: our bird feeder and her mobile made from beer cans and golf balls. no, we're not on the same wave length.

08 May 2007

check them grades

school is officially out. campus is quiet, Ephraim has lost about a quarter of its population, and i need to enter final grades. i actually don't mind entering grades. it's kind of a nice way to put the cap on a semester. but there's always that tug-o-war my sympathetic side plays when i know a student has a failing grade coming to them.

it's tough because i know they don't deserve anything better based on their performance in the class but i can't help but feel bad that they failed my class. i mean, honestly, i start every semester thinking that it will be the one when everyone passes. but alas, 'tis not so. i have to admit my hopes for such a semester grow dim when i have students who come to me minutes before the final critique and ask me to make an exception. or worse, they show up minutes after the final expecting to turn in their project. no, really. it happens.

a final in an art class is typically not a written final. it's usually a project, right? and more often than not there's a class critique as well. so i make sure to explain to my students how art finals are different but require the same amount of work - if not more - than their BIO 100 final and that they need to be present and on time for the critique. i try to be clear but i have to wonder sometimes...

for instance, as i'm getting set up for my 2D design final (the project is an artist's book) that starts at 9:30, one of my students comes to me and asks if she can present hers half way through the critique. why? because the photos that are supposed to be part of the book won't be finished at Wal*Mart until 10:00. are you kidding me? then as we're finishing the up the critique nearly and hour and forty-five minutes later, a different student comes in and sits down kind of behind all the other students - trying to blend in. after everything is finished and i'm putting my little post-it notes of comments on their projects, i happen to notice someone hovering around the table where all the projects are. i'm pretty preoccupied with writing down comments, recording grades and getting it all done before i need to get home to feed Ash so i keep working. as get to the last few projects i notice a book that wasn't there before and wasn't presented in the critique. you can't be serious. what do you take me for?

so that was design class. the drawing final is quite similar. everyone comes with their final drawings and we have a class critique. it usually takes one to two hours and i let the students know they have to be there for the entire time to receive credit. it went very well for those who came. then just as i'm stacking the graded drawings in a place where students can come pick them up a student comes in and asks if she can still turn in the final. um... no.

there's something both frustrating and satisfying about having to tell a student 'it's your problem' when it comes to botching the final. maybe that's mean but somehow i feel okay about it.

18 April 2007

the meaning of change

besides being asked if we were having a boy or a girl the second most common exchange we heard while i was pregnant was, 'your lives are going to change.'

of course i was aware of this... heck, i read scores of pages to study up on and prepare for this change. i knew that a full night's sleep was on the endangered species list three months into the whole gig and realized that it too would go the way of the dodo. i could see that picking up and leaving in a moment's notice wasn't going to be possible. i was well aware that my priorities were going to shift dramatically. i understood that my time, energy and body were not going to be mine (i've typed most of this with one hand so far).

but in actuality i did not understand any of it.

the meaning of change can only sink in so much when you're not there yet - when you haven't experienced it first hand. and so it was with me. i knew there would be change, but i could not comprehend it.

now i'm coming to understand bit by bit, day by day... sometimes hour by hour. and amazingly it's all okay and completely worth it because of this little bug.