Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Thoughts on The Giver

Last night I saw The Giver.

I first read The Giver in 8th grade. At the time, a lot of the themes of the book were beyond my understanding, but I fell in love with it. When I re-read the book as an adult, I began to comprehend just how profound the story really is. It sheds light on the purpose of opposition - we need to know pain and sickness so we can enjoy pleasure and health. We need to know sadness so we can understand happiness. We need to have agency so we can make wrong choices and learn and grow. Our world can sometimes feel disturbing and tainted, but it is also beautiful and astounding.

When I learned that this book I treasure so dearly was being made into a film, I was kind of disappointed. I worried that the movie would be catered so much to a teen audience that the depth of the story would be lost, and those teens would only care about how it compares to their popular dystopias of today. Some of my fears were put at bay when I watched an interview with Jeff Bridges, and he described his passion for the book and how long it had taken him to bring the movie to fruition. After hearing what he had to say, I decided to trust him, and I decided to focus on what the story means to me rather than what it means to the unknowing teenagers.

I won't go into a critical analysis of the movie, but if you beg the question, "Should I see it?" I will tell you, "Yes!"

The thought-provoking elements of the story are there. Go. Face them!

But with that recommendation comes the understanding that we will not all glean the same things from The Giver.

I went to see the movie with a friend who hated the book, and her presence beside me in the theater reminded me of this quote by C.S. Lewis:
You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw -- but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.
My friend and I were staring at the same landscape while a gulf yawned between us. Her criticism was, "It made me cry!" and my response was, "Good!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

10 Things I Can be Happy About Right Now

For the past couple of months, I've found myself in a funky, dark place. I've been anti-social, unmotivated, and disinterested. I'm prone to summer depression, so when I look at the big picture, I know that's what it is, but there's a pride in me that refuses to acknowledge that I have any sort of struggle with depression. There's also a guilt in me that says, "You should be able to control this!"

But depression is not really what I want to talk about right now. I have it. It comes and goes. I've been blessed to experience it mildy rather than in its deepest, most debilitating forms. I know what treatments work for me. That is all there is to say about it.

Because I'm in this dark place, I've been trying to focus on some of the bright things in my life, so today I want to make a list of Ten Things I Can be Happy About Right Now.

Thing 1: Scotty and I have laid the smack down on our veggies these past few weeks. We have jam, salsa, tomatoes, apricot nectar, and green beans galore!





Thing 2: For the first time since we planted our peach trees about eight years ago, we have a decent crop of peaches coming on.

Thing 3: I get to go to the temple tomorrow.


Thing 4: School starts next week!

The school routine helps with my depression immensely.

Thing 5: Scotty has Friday off, so we are going hiking.

Thing 6: We got a new washer today.

Bummer that our old one died, but what a blessing that it died at a time when there would be enough money to replace it.

Spending aside, I have never been so excited to do laundry!

Thing 7: We're going to a family camp out this weekend. There will be nachos and s'mores.

Thing 8: I get to go grocery shopping without kids tomorrow.

Thing 9: I haven't had to stress about watering the garden over the past few weeks because of the rain.

Thing 10: Fall is just around the corner!
There's a chill in the air that lifts my heart and makes my hair stand on end. Every moment feels meant for me. In October, I'm the star of my own movie - I hear the soundtrack in my head... and I have faith in my own rising action...I come alive in October... October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins.
-Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, 99

*Lest you be disturbed by my use of an outdoor stove for canning, I only use it for water bath canning, not pressure canning.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lofty Lake Loop

After our stop at the Provo River Falls, we continued on to our real destination: Lofty Lake Loop. Scotty has wanted to hike into Kamas Lake for a while. His ultimate goal is to camp there as a family, so we gave it a trial run by doing a day hike.

August 2014

We've had some sketchy thunderstorms around here lately, and during monsoon season, it's easy to get stranded in the Uintas, so we came prepared with overnight supplies just in case


I won't bore you with all of the details of this hike, but know these facts:
  • We accidentally took the "long way"
  • It rained
  • The hike was pretty challenging for the kids
  • There are several small lakes along the loop
Also, imagine this for a moment:

You get out of your car at the trail head. Suddenly you hear a loud CRACK! echoing off the mountains. You wonder if someone has just been shot, and as you glance around, you realize that, no. No one has been shot. Instead, your ears have been graced by the sound of a boy scout cracking a whip. He is wearing a Chewbacca t-shirt. He proceeds to crack the whip over and over. You turn to your husband and say, "For the love of Pete! I hope he's not going to Kamas Lake!" Two hours later, as you make your final approach to the lake, you see George Lucas' biggest fan standing on the shore line with the whip in his hand. 

You hang your hammock. He cracks the whip.


You roast a hot dog. He cracks the whip.

You try to rock your toddler to sleep. He cracks the whip.

You know that there is no merit badge for that!

Finally, the scout leaders tell him to put the whip away. You say a prayer of thanksgiving.

But then...

The boy scouts begin a team building activity. They have to build a cairn out of rocks, and they are not allowed to speak to each other. You start to like the sound of this. But then they are told that they can still make noise. Thus begins a series of pterodactyl screeching throughout random places in the woods.



Fifteen minutes worth of conversation occurs in pterodactyl as they complete their challenge. 

When they finally pack up and leave, you breathe a sigh of relief, but that is when the storm clouds roll in, and you have to hurry and pack up and get the heck out of there so you don't get stranded.

Crazy boy scouts aside, it was a cool experience.

But it was challenging - we weren't sure if we'd get our kids in and out of there. The trail was covered in lose rocks - each kids fell at least a dozen times, and we'd accidentally left the first aid kit in the van. We were very lucky no one was seriously hurt.


Nicky insisted on wearing a mosquito net the entire time (there were no mosquitoes).

August 2014

Daisy wanted to pick every wildflower in sight.

August 2014

Zoe wanted to be independent and climb everything herself.


(Do you like her super hero shoes? I found them in the road by my house).

In the end, we made it out safely. We saw many beautiful things. We spoke many encouraging words to our kids.

But I don't think I'm going to try this hike with them again until they're a little (a lot?) older.

August 2014 

 August 2014

August 2014


Monday, August 18, 2014

Provo River Falls

There has been a lot of talk about Mirror Lake Highway around here lately, what with all the Fairy Foresting and Nude Ranching.

We've been spending a lot of time in the Uinta mountains this summer, so the Mirror Lake Highway posts aren't quite done yet.

Take this post, for example, wherein I will tell you about one of my favorite places of all time: Provo River Falls.

August 2014

The first time I saw the Provo River Falls as a child, my mind was blown. It was the first real water fall (i.e. something other than a trickle) that I had seen. I think I still feel a little bit of that child-like excitement when I see the Provo River Falls, and that's why I like them so much. Plus, it's one of few places where you can get out of your car and BAM! You're face to face with a waterfall!

(Hiking has its rewards and all, but sometimes it's nice to have the chance to see something beautiful while being completely lazy).

The last time I went to the Provo River Falls was when Nicky was a baby, so I was long overdue for a visit. Last weekend we headed up to the mountains, not intending to stop at the Falls, but with three children crying for a potty break, it was the perfect place to stop. I then thought, "Of course! My kids need to see the Falls! How have we not brought them here?"

All of my parenting mistakes were corrected in that moment.

The best part of the Provo River Falls is their plurality. It is not one waterfall, but several, so as you follow the trail downstream, you are met with additional waterfalls, and you can get very close to them (so don't be dumb like me and take only your long-range camera lens).

August 2014

August 2014

Though it did come in handy when photographing chipmunks.


Chipmunk 2


And wildflowers.

August 2014

Waterfalls, rodents, and flora.

You just can't beat a trifecta like that! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Thoughts from the Canner

It's canning season, which means my kitchen looks like this:

2012 04 11_2471

The photo doesn't do it justice because you can't see the pieces of pepper and onion dried to every surface, nor the murdered tomato remnants splattered up the walls. You also can't tell that I have so many dirty dishes that half of them are out in the yard waiting to be washed with the hose. 

It's bad.

So bad.

Which, of course, makes me wonder whether canning is worth it.

It's not.

But it is.

July 2013
It's not... because it's time-consuming and messy. I have to neglect my children for a really long time to process a batch of food, and then I have to neglect them even more to clean up the mess. 

It's not... because sometimes the jars don't seal, and I have to eat the food ASAP or re-process it, causing it to need a new lid (not cheap!) and to overcook a bit.

It's not... because it's actually quite costly to can food even when I get the produce out of my own yard. First there's the expense of having a garden, then the cost of the supplies (canners, jars, lids, rings, etc), and the cost of ingredients (vinegar, lemon juice, salt, spices, etc). I invest far more time and money into canning than I would invest into a case lot sale.

It's not... because it's hard work. I have to prepare every bit of food, which means hours of blanching tomatoes, chopping onions, pureeing apricots, or what have you, and I always get half-way into it and realize that I've forgotten something or that I don't have enough of something. So there are many spontaneous trips to the store with three kids in tow. Last week I had a batch of carrots ready to put in the canner, and I couldn't find the pressure regulator. I'd set it on the counter, and it disappeared, so I called every kitchen supply store within a 15 mile radius. None of them carry regulators. I ended up having to go buy an entirely new canner ($70) because I couldn't lose my carrots! Darn those costly carrots!*

But it's worth it.

It's worth it because my kids are old enough to help, and they can participate in the process of growing food, harvesting it, preparing it, and eating it - knowing that the end result is from their hard work.

And there's something very satisfying about watching the jars add up batch after batch.

And it's an amazing feeling to open a jar of food we prepared ourselves.

And the quality of food is better, and I know exactly what's in it.

And jars of food are pretty.

*The regulator has since been found, but by the time we found it, I'd become totally sold on the idea of running two pressure canners at once, so the new one is here to stay! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Not Nudist Ranch

For as long as I can remember, there has been a Beaver Creek Nudist Ranch sign along Mirror Lake Highway in Kamas (or Samak, if you want to get specific). I remember always looking for it when I went camping with my family as a child. Back then it wasn't as close to the road as it is now, so it was harder to spot. Whenever I would find it, I would point and laugh, "Nudist ranch! Nudist ranch! Tee hee. Tee hee." And then I would secretly scan the mountain terrain looking for naked people.

Now as an adult, I know the history of the sign. There is not really a nudist ranch there. Thirty years ago or so, the sign was put up as a joke, and it has continued to grace the landscape ever since. 

(I'm sure the nearby houses get some interesting inquiries).

Last weekend, we went on a hike near Mirror Lake, so I decided it was time to get a picture with the landmark.


I also left my mark on the board.


Monday, August 4, 2014


A couple weeks ago, I retired my first pair of running shoes.

They were very inexpensive (compared to quality running shoes), and they served me very well!

In fact, I got along with them far better than I do with my new Asics that were double the price.

(Other than losing a toenail 8 times).

(Is it weird that I want to string my toenails on a necklace?)

(I promise I throw them away).

(I just think about the necklace thing each time one falls off).

These shoes saw me through my beginnings of running. I ran hundreds of miles in them and quite a few races: 3-4 5Ks, Ragnar Colorado, a 10K, a half-marathon, the Dirty Dash, and the Spartan Race to name a few.

They have been wonderful running companions, but sadly, the Spartan Race marked their final journey. With holes in the toes, I gave them one last turn in the washer so they'd go out clean...ish, and then tossed them in an emotional moment of goodbye.

2012 03 14_2369 copy

Friday, August 1, 2014

In This Day and Age...'s perfectly normal to make your husband take a picture of you and your hot dog every time you eat at jDawgs. Right?


...especially when they come swaddled like wee little babies...


Dirty dash

It's a good thing they don't have faces!

Oh, who am I kidding?

I'd still eat them.