Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Long-Awaited Backpack

I have been lazy about posting. This is partly because it is so stinkin' frustrating to put photos in Blogger; and it's hard to blog when my sweaty arms stick to the vinyl tablecloth; and it's hard to blog when I am preoccupied by work. And I'm not feeling witty at the moment, either. But, here I am, sticky and witless, ready to try to get my groove back.

Finally! After years of waiting until both kids could carry enough weight that we could get into the back country, we managed to pull off a two-night backpacking trip. There was a time when Simon and I had this down to such a science that we knew exactly which piece of gear went into each pocket, how many packets of instant oatmeal we needed and which bungee cord was just the right size for which sleeping bag. We didn't go very far: just three miles to little Wier Lake, which we had to ourselves the whole time. We hiked in and set up a base camp, then spent the second day just goofing off. We hiked out on the third day. Usually Simon and I relocate every day, but this is the way to do it with kids.
Unless you do it this way, of course. We met these guys coming out as we were going in. So, they rented these llamas from...are you ready for this? The Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork. So unlikely on so many fronts: that Spanish Fork has a Krishna Temple; that the Krishna Temple has a llama rental service. Si wondered if there was a llama named Dalai. "No, Honey. That would be rude to the Buddhists." This one was a real ham. As soon as I took out my camera, he walked right up to me and showed my his best side. Now the kids are all for chucking the backpacks and renting llamas.

We had perfect weather, which is miraculous in the Uintas. No moon, either, so the firmament was perfectly complete from horizon to horizon both nights. The Perseid's meteor shower is visible in Utah this week; the experts said that it would not be visible until 3:00-4:00 AM and that any other shooting stars would be "incidental". I beg to differ, as we sat there from 9:30-11:00 PM going "OOOOOH!" and "AHHHHH!" every ten minutes or so as HUGE meteors shot across the sky, often with long, thick tails.

Car camping is fun, especially down in the desert. But I like backpacking better. Less crap=fewer chores. I am perfectly happy with two pairs of undies, two pairs of socks, one shirt, one pair of pants. I have my same little kitchen I have had since college. Simon, though, unbeknownst to me, hauled in a bottle of Cabernet and a couple of these cheesy plastic wine glasses. Then he had the nerve to complain that he was the only one who didn't have room to bring a paperback. Oh, whah. Yeah, we actually had a little reading time, since we didn't move camp. And time to take a hike to some other lakes in the area.

We found this perfect, throne-shaped rock by the bridge at the bottom of Long Lake. If only there had been, like, four of them. At our camp. We just sat on the ground, so we had lustful thoughts about this rock. We also found, stashed in the memory of the GPS, a geocache we had programmed in years ago but never hunted. It was nearby, so we went and found it.

There was even time for a little bit of this!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A New Name

So, the name of the program I work for is VIP, which stands for Voluntary Improvement Program. Who the hell thought of this lame-ass name? Uh, yeah, everyone really is OK with being here. As opposed to that other, involuntary improvement program across town.

I have carried this burden of hate for 18 years. Then a new member of the Board of Directors ventured to call it a little bit strange; and I said that there was nothing I would love more than to change it, if I only could. My boss looked surprised and relieved. "I always thought we couldn't suggest that to you, because you loved the name so much." What?? Are you kidding me?!? How soon can we change it? "As soon as you can think of a new name," she said.



It's not as easy as it seems.

First of all, let's list some very, VERY overused components: English; Language; Study; Skills; Center; Learning. Here in Salt Lake, you can find the English Language Center, the English Skills Learning Center, the English Language Study Center. So, forget that.

So, how about something metaphorical? You've got your peaks, your horizons, your bridges, your helping hands, and loads of other trite, shopworn names. I know of a program called something like The Blossoming of the Flowers of Learning.

And I have an aversion to acronyms as well.

My colleague, B. had a good idea. Why not just choose a word that we like and build the new name's acronym around that word? Hmmmmm... Of course, the first pleasant word that came to me was EAT. "English... for Adult.... uh..... T. T. English for Adult....T.T.T.T.

B. thought of ACNE. Adult Classes iN English.

I love it! I wonder if my boss will embrace it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

But What About This Delicious Chickpea Fennel Stew I made For You?

OK, so, how big a deal is this, really? It's bugging me! I could use some advice.

Ever since Sara was born 11 years ago, I have made a point to have a Family Supper Table (F! S! T!). I work evenings twice a week, but on every other night of the week, I've made a home-cooked meal from scratch and we've eaten together. I try out one or two new recipes every week, I experiment with unsual ingredients. It has kind of passed as a hobby for a busy working mom who doesn't have time for hobbies.

But now, Nathan wants to play club-level soccer. This means that, in addition to his Tuesday afternoon practice for our little local soccer program, he would also have practices on Monday and Wednesday nights. 6:30-8:00, so he would need to be out the door a little bit after 6:00 PM. If I were a stay-at home mom, I wouldn't have a problem with it. I could get supper on the table by 5:00 or 5:30. But I usually don't walk in the door until that time. We usually eat a little late: maybe 6:30 or 7:00. I just don't see how I can keep up the family meal thing, unless we eat at 8:30 PM, and that's kind of late for me.

I voiced my concern about the loss of two more nights of eating together, but Nathan and Simon are not concerned. They can't believe that I would care about this. I've tried warning them of the dire effects it could have on the family if we don't eat together. The life of crime that awaits Nate if we don't share a hot nutritious meal. How Sara will start having sex f we don't all come together once a day.

How often does your family eat together? How do you make it work? Working moms, how do you get your meals together in time? How do you keep it healthy and not resort of carry-out? Got wisdom?