Wednesday, August 24, 2016


In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for eight minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

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Last week due to a series of interesting events I found myself southbound on Highway 89 towards Kanab with my three daughters in the back seat of our van, Dragon's Breath.

We branded it: Girls Adventure.

Our first stop (outside of the every-50-miles-bathroom-break) was Coral Pink Sand Dunes, about four hours south of Provo. My Ever, at six years of age has anointed herself Queen of All Sand Dunes. So this particular adventure was for her as all good queens must take time to visit their constituency at least once in a lifetime.

When we arrived at the State Park we poured out of Dragon's Breath with eagerness. I spotted a huge desert thunderstorm across the pink valley and said a mother's prayer that our exploits wouldn't be rained out. The State Trooper assured me the storm was headed southeast.

"We haven't had rain here for days."

A short path lead us to the sea of sand. (Utah does have oceans, you know, they're just full of grains of earth and not salt water. But you can still float on them. And the sensation is strangely the same.) The vista was tremendous, piles and piles of pink sand hills, and 200 yards away from our observation point was a mammoth mountain of sand.

"Please bless these girls won't want to hike it," was my second mother's prayer that day.

"Let's go hike that mountain!" Four-year-old Erin said, and they all took off with shovels and pails in hands, feet discarded of shoes, hair blowing in the distant storm's residual wind. Oh the enthusiasm! I did not create a single female human who doesn't lack enthusiasm. So help me.

I followed their little bodies as they ran straight towards the mass, the mountain was somewhat three tiered. We climbed the first tier with some slight huffing. But by the second tier the two year old Iris, (still known as--and perhaps forever--"the baby") was floundering. Sand hiking is its own complicated sport. When the surface under your feet constantly sinks as you try to ascend it can make you feel like you're in a hamster wheel, going no where fast.

I heard a cracked little voice behind me, "I follow your footsteps, Mom." Placing her feet into my indentation made walking in the squishy sand easier for Iris. Erin trailed behind her. Ever, her majesty, scaled towards the top in front of us.

The storm was coming closer and for a minute I entertained the thought of a wind storm in the middle of a sand dune. We would be crushed. Was I being safe?

(If you don't ask yourself that at some point on the journey, you're not on a true adventure, I believe.)

I insisted we all stop for water breaks. The wind was picking up and we could see rain falling from the sky to our south. We were breathing heavy. Our faces red with blood. Pink sand crusted onto our faces where water had dribbled onto our faces from the water bottle.

"Should we stop?" I asked them.

"NO!" the enthusiasts replied.

And they picked up the trail and carried on to the top. Ever first, with a desert reed she had plucked out of the sand islands--they call them--spots of persistent plants in the sea of sand. Behind me, Erin and Iris at the tail end. We hiked silently with hard breaths. Storm clouds and thunder closing in.

To the top we made it one-by-one single file. We sat surveying the entirety, chests pumping, hair sweeping around our heads. Pink sand piles for miles. The desert in purples and reds, dotted with greens and sage. A grand kingdom to be sure.

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We stayed at the top for an hour or so, slid up and down, high jumped, crawled and rolled. A trickle of tourists speaking a host of languages would pass us by, weighted down by heavy camera equipment around their necks. We watched the blue storm sail off to the south. We immersed our body parts until they were "baptized" as Ever called it. We talked about how strong bodies come in all shapes and sizes and the point really was to know the thrill of exploring the folds of our planet. Then we played martians (because other planets are cool too).

We walked back slowly, Ever and Erin declared they were a velociraptor and dilophosaures coming back from their rocky graves to haunt me and the baby. The baby stayed the course. And suddenly we were back in Dragon's Breath headed to our next stop. Pink sand in every corner of our tired bodies.

There's metaphors in here I know. But why ruin a perfectly good story of adventure?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Utah Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship

When I posted a self-indulgent post of all the things we did this summer (thanks for reading! Mom, especially you!) some of you emailed/dm/pm/texted to ask if I would keep up the reporting of our adventures (were you just being nice?) so that your families could join in on the exploration. And I am here to say, YES. Thanks for twisting my arm. Just kidding, it didn't even take that much prodding.

So here's something coming up, the Utah Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship. It is so much fun. We went for the first time last year and sat fascinated by what we saw. Sheep herding by the smartest dogs on the planet, but also dock diving and agility competing. It's in Midway, Utah, Labor Day weekend the time of the year when the Wasatch Back begins to be tinged by fall colors.

Also, we took advantage of the food trucks (some special fair food just for the occasion), shopped at the arts and crafts booths (all the slingshots), employed some face painters, went to a wild animal show, and pet close to one million different dogs.

You gotta go.

What: Utah Soldier Hollow Classic Sheedpdog Championship
When: Labor Day Weekend, Sept 2,3, 4, 5
Where: Soldier Hollow, Midway, Utah
Tips: Bring water, sunscreen, binoculars, sunglasses and hats. Make a plan before you enter into the arena (like Disneyland!) and be early to the events you want to see. Seats get taken fast.

See you there!


In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for eight minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

In the spring there was an infestation along the Wasatch Front of horses. Big, breathing, wind-swept white horses on billboards. Sexy horses, you know what I mean? They weren't like horses you rode at your uncle's farm with big teeth and swatty tails. No, these are mysterious horses, illusive, you know. Like the kind of horse on a romance novel. If you get me.

At first there were two or three along the highway. What is this? We wondered.

Cavalia's Odysseo!

(What does this mean?)

"The Most Amazing Show!"

But in the coming weeks it was as though the horses were multiplying and suddenly there was a Cavalia' Odysseo billboard every five feet on the highway, on the freeway, on our town roads. Your eyes could not avert, there was no missing it. Every space of our lives was covered with a Cavalia image. It was a deluge! A flood! A smothering of advertisements. In restaurants! On buses! Trains! Commercials on our tv! It was shock and awe! SHOCK AND AWE.

"Wow. What was their advertising budget?" we wondered.

From Brigham City to Santaquin CAVALIA!


The Wasatch Front population of Utah united in our plight. We were together, billboard bombarded. No safe places. No shelter from the mystical. It was infiltration and we were the victims, all of us, together.

And then memes started on Twitter.


In our defense we supported each other with humor. We laughed at the situation on our respective platforms. It was funny. Really funny. People were so clever. A sense of pride grew into our hearts as a community. We were sharing and retweeting all the Cavalia jokes. Democrat, Republican, Mormon, Catholic. It was as though nothing else mattered excepted our shared Cavalia harassment.

But as the besiege continued after months we started checking in on each other at night. "You handling the Cavalia Situation ok buddy?" we asked our kids before bed. "Sure it's funny, but sometimes we laugh away the tears."

I only knew a handful of people who actually went. Paid money. Lots of it. But when you asked them how it was, you got a strange apathy. Almost like they were in a trance, they couldn't look at you straight or give you an answer with an adjective, "It was....really...and was over." Their eyes going to some distant place.

And then, one day, they packed up the big white circus tent on the freeway and the show was over. The billboards started to be replaced with our usual Utah plastic surgery obsession. We went back to our corners, our lives, our opinions and our prejudice. Soon we would forget what it felt to be under the onslaught of Cavalia until we would run into an abandoned billboard south on I-15. The sexy horse giving a side-eye, like, WE USED TO BE SO HOT, YOU AND I.

Months later we watched the presidential election heat up. The country and our state felt the pang of division and derision. We retreated to our sides.

But for the spring of 2016 we shared a space underneath the thumb print of Cavalia. And we will always ask ourselves: was it really just a cover for a government top-secret experiment on communal psychology and marketing?


The Most Amazing Show.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I Don't Remember

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for eight minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

I don't remember what it was like to have a flat belly. I had one once (I think). It wasn't flat like a board or a piece of paper. I don't think there's anything in my DNA that directs my physical disposition to be flat. Nothing on me doesn't have some curve. But for most of my life I've had a belly that perhaps pouched in some female way but not much.

Four babies (and one miscarried 14 week pregnancy) sculptured my stomach so that my carrying days are forever molded on my maternal shape. I wonder how many people I meet consider that I might be pregnant, though no one has asked me, but perhaps that's because the human race has learned some manners.

Who knows.

The mission becomes acceptance. This is where I am at. Trainer, body therapist and dietician all reassure that this is the new me. Unless I want to dedicate my life to defeating stomach extension or pay a lot of money for a tummy tuck. I don't have the time and I don't have the money. This is the new me. And this will likely be my daughter's bodies too, so it's up to me to change the narrative.

Bellies are beautiful.

Bellies are beautiful.

Stained with stretch marks, rounded with life.

Bellies are beautiful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I Remember When

In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for eight minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:

 I remember when my mom went back to school. The night before my father gave us blessings by putting his hand on our heads and pronouncing hopes and visions into our darkened living room. One-by-one until all the kids had been properly blessed, and then my mother. Who lifted off the couch and said with a voice I had never heard before (excitement? nervousness?), "I need a blessing! I am going back to school tomorrow too!"

I wasn't as shocked that my mother and I were both going to school for the first time, me to elementary, her to finish a degree at BYU, but that she had needs. She said, " I need..."

And I thought about that for awhile after the blessing fest was over, after everyone had emptied our living room. In the dark, yellow light from the kitchen made a stripe across our living room floor. I lied down on the carpet on my back and thought about my mother.

My mother, as it turned out, was a real human being. With needs and hopes and desires, insecurities. She was nervous. This was my first registration that adult females were human. (I knew my dad had needs, he was always hungry when he came home from work.) And suddenly, I cared about my mother in a pastoral way, I wanted her to be safe.

The next day I came home from school eager to hear about her day on campus. She was happy and tired. We sat on her bed and discussed our days. We always did that.

Hours later the noises my dad makes when he came home from work--engine, car door, back door, keys plopping on counter, shoes, "Where's your mother?" filled our home.

And she got up to make spaghetti.