Monday, April 29, 2013

Send 'im Home!

I read this book last week called Oh, Ranger! It's a collection of stories from National Park Rangers throughout the United States.

SPOILER ALERT! I am now going to summarize one of the stories called "The Food Web."

This was a ranger from Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco. He was working with an elementary school group using two animals: a banana slug from the Redwoods and a crab from the bay. They were comparing and contrasting the land animal to the sea animal.

The ranger described having all of the children sit down on the pier to keep anyone from accidentally taking a swim. Sounded like a very attentive group. This ranger had set a crab trap off the pier prior to the arrival of the school children so when it was time, he lifted the trap and there was exactly one crab in it (they usually catch more). He specifically mentioned that this crab was just perfect for the presentation--behaved well for the ranger's needs to teach about that animal. When he put the crab down to demonstrate walking, the crab actually walked nicely on cue, etc. So, when the ranger was finished, he held the crab up and called out to the children, who by this time had fallen in love with the thing, "Should we keep 'im or send 'im home?" Of course, the children wanted the crab to continue its happy crab existence and the ranger had successfully helped them connect to the resource, so they all shouted back, "Send 'im home!!!"

The ranger gently tossed the crab back into the water.

Just then, a seagull swooped by, picked up the crab, landed next to the wide-eyed children, and began ripping the crab's legs off one by one, demolishing the thing. I guess they really did "send 'im home!"

The reason I love this story so much is because I appreciate the perspective of all sides. I teach children so I can only imagine their reactions. I've been the park ranger giving a program that didn't exactly go as planned. And the seagull? Well, everyone's got to eat and you must credit the fellow for patiently sitting through the ranger's program before having a meal! I've been chuckling about this one all weekend.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Lunch

My husband is independent and was raised to be self-sufficient. So am I/was I. However, I always had it in my head that when I got married, my husband might let me cook for him. And he does. Sometimes. I am delighted that he cooks for me as well. It all works out. He just hardly ever lets me make lunch for him. And we really hardly ever have a chance to eat lunch together at home, but when we do, and I offer, he turns me down.

I notice this most on Sundays after Church. We get home and then we start rattling around in the kitchen. Two separate trajectories. For example, today I grabbed for the fresh spinach and a can of garbanzos because I have this great, fast, simple recipe for Garbanzo Spinach Dip (5 ingredients: beans, spinach, garlic, olive oil, and salt--that's it!). Right, yes, I DO know this would not be a top pick for K, however, I'm perfectly willing to set my lunch menu aside in order to make something for him. He started grabbing some things so I offered, "Would you like me to grill a sandwich for you?"

"No," he replied.

So I cooked and blended my dip and got out the tortilla chips, rejoicing in the protein and fiber from the beans and the medicinal, vitamin-rich properties of fresh spinach. I love this dip.

K made a meat and cheese sandwich (those processed lunch meats with "plastic" cheese slices) on white bread. Oh, and he heated up a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli to go with. Right.

I DID cook dinner and he loved it! I guess he just doesn't think I need to waste my time on making his lunch.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Milestone Memories

Mushy post:

I have been kissing the same boy for ten years now. Today is our kissing anniversary and K would not be very happy to know I just posted it here, so sshhh. For the record, he does not keep track of such things, I do.

He says I made the first move. I say he most definitely made the first move and knocked my socks off because I wasn't expecting it. Turns out the quiet park ranger wasn't that shy at all. It happened in the middle of a huge field on the west side of Utah Lake after a long and windy walk and we've never been back to that spot in all these ten years.

Today, before I remembered it was our "anniversary," we decided to go to the temple. The tulips were so pretty and the weather so lovely. I was overwhelmed with happiness. Afterward, we ate out and then grabbed a few household items at Target. We came home and logged receipts. As we looked ahead to the coming week and possible expenses, I saw in my little planner that today was the day. And I felt so happy all over again because we have had a splendid day together and that's all that matters. He is a good man and I am so lucky.

Just a normal day, a Saturday. Just taking care of things that seem important to us and enjoying the journey together. That's all.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Carpet Cleaning

The Mister announced recently, "I think we should get the carpets cleaned."

I said, "Okay!"

And then the other day he said, "The carpet cleaners are coming Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m."

I said, "Wow!" He had the coupon and everything. So last night I dutifully asked, "Well, should we move some furniture around to get ready for the carpet cleaners tomorrow?"

And he said, "Nope. I've got it. I'll do it in the morning."

I asked again, "Are you sure?"

He said, "Yep, I'll be fine."

And I thought of all the other times I've been involved in carpet cleaning and what a royal pain it is to move furniture and wait for things to dry (and clean while you're at it because hey, the furniture has to be moved anyway). And I thought about how I was too exhausted to insist.

And then I came home from work today to find stunningly clean carpets. He is a gem, I tell ya!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Civilize the Demise

Words. Millions are used perpetually. I model speech daily to impressionable ten and eleven year olds. Vocabulary is a big deal on end-of-level tests. Some days, I get the feeling we're not doing so well.

Today, I noticed something new--one young fellow in my class seems very fond of a certain "word." I was going over a note about an upcoming field trip which specifically mentions the busy traffic caused by the event. This boy raised his hand, politely waited to be called on, and asked, "If there's going to be a buttload of traffic, what time should we tell our parents we need to leave?" It was a good question, though tainted. I asked him to refrain from using that word in our classroom.

Later, our class was playing a vocabulary game simply called Dictionary. They were in teams of 3-4 students busily trying to find words in a dictionary that they guessed most of the class wouldn't know. The timer went off and a couple of teams lamented they hadn't had enough preparation. I said, "Too bad. We've got to get started with group presentations or we won't finish in time." The boy complained, "I suggested a buttload of words, but my team didn't like any of them!" No, I couldn't let it slide. He said he would do better.

The groups that were ready began to present which is to say we started actually playing the game. When the above mentioned boy's team took their turn, he happily announced to the class, "Our word is "BUTTress!"

I just stared at him and responded with a flat tone, "Of course it is."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Best Part of Spring Break?

Well, there were a lot of bests. I loved General Conference! The California Trail Interpretive Center near Elko, Nevada was suberb. Spending time with my eternal companion is never taken for granted. I had this Vietnamese dish called "Shaking Beef with Garlic Noodles." No, I can't really rank it all. However...

Mr. Park Ranger has been out of uniform since June 7th and while we were in San Francisco, he was interviewed and hired to work at Yellowstone National Park this summer. I don't have a picture of his smiling face at that moment, but it will be etched in my memory for a long time. I am so excited for him. He loves to learn. He loves the parks. He is a steward over the gems and jewels in America's crown. And those uniforms in the closet will be off their hangers pretty soon! We are on to our next adventure!

Oregon Caves National Monument

We finally made it to Oregon Caves. It's a destination, to be sure, not something you just stop off and do. It's actually just one cave, but that's the name because there are multiple entrances and they used to think there were multiple caves. The cave is marble which metamorphized (another word?) from limestone. The moss made for a slippery entrance and we weren't allowed to use our own lights (they were afraid we would shine them into the faces of other visitors...I would think using our own lights would make things more safe), but we got through everything okay. Some people chose to leave the tour with a volunteer because it was getting a little long (90 minute tour) and sketchy for them. They have lots of Harvesters in their cave, especially in the really long exit tunnel and we also saw a bat (myotis). We always manage to find snow on Spring Break and there it was, at the exit.

More New Friends in Northern California

We discovered a new place for viewing sea lions and seals. K relented and took me there no less than three times. We went there once, once more before bed, and once more in the morning to say "goodbye" before heading to Oregon. Sigh. Just look at those faces! I was less than five feet away from some of them! One of the sleeping ones kept opening one eye every now and then to check on me, but I didn't dare snap the photo with the eye in the open position. I love the one sleeping on rocks. "Ah, this will do--so comfy...just the place for my afternoon nap!" We were impressed with their ability to "hike" up the steep rocky slopes to the top. All of this joy for free!

Aquarium in Crescent City, California

It was pouring rain one day in Crescent City, so we went to a lighthouse which got us even more drenched. After the lighthouse, we went to the aquarium. It looked pretty lame, but turned out to be nice. They said we could touch everything and pick everything in the tide pool up, so we did. That first sea star smells like garlic on the underside. We loved seeing all the fish, got to pet some leopard sharks several times and even held an egg that a leopard shark laid (looks like a seaweed corkscrew and was bigger than my hand). And then they took us to see the sea lions and the seal, Cora. Cora is a "ham" and a "monster" and a "show-off." Their words, not mine. She's four years old and learns fast. Her main goal in life is to get more fish, so she's willing to do pretty much anything. They said she learned to do a flip in three days (pretty fast). In fact, not only did she learn to flip, but on her own, she started flipping twice in order to get double treats." Marina on the other hand is 34 years old. She just lays around in the sun whenever possible, but when commanded to "kiss" her neighbor, she does so and opens wide for the treat. When the show was over, Cora's trainer disappeared into the building with her bucket of herring and Cora was just yelling and chasing and barking after her, "Come BACK! I'll do more tricks! Don't go! Feed me! Don't leave!" It was pretty funny.

Redwood National and State Parks

There's just no way to capture the Redwoods, but I sure tried! We can now say we've been "from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream Waters." The moss is sometimes other worldly. That little toad/frog was so well hidden on the trail! The mist was magical (no more dry hands from desert living and school district soap). Like Muir Woods and the beach, the redwoods are soothing and healing.

Point Reyes National Seashore and Other Beaches

We left San Francisco and drove Highway 1 north. We stopped at many beaches, the names of which I cannot recall. We explored here and there and took pictures. It was slow working our way up the coast, but it was rewarding at the same time. The sea is soothing and we were happy to be there in any type of weather. There were three guys doing some serious clamming at one beach. They looked like experts!


We went to Japantown to do some shopping. I thought I would spend more money, but I held myself to a few necessities such as furikake! We'll get back there someday, earlier in the day. The peace park was beautiful. We got back from Spring Break late last night and the first thing I did this morning was cook rice!

John Muir National Historic Site and Muir Woods National Monument

Don't be deceived...these two parks are quite a distance away from each other. However, we just had to go back to both of them. John Muir is one of my favorites. I've read some of his writings, but not nearly enough. I loved touring his home and seeing his Scribble Room. I hope to have a Scribble Room of my own someday. For now, it's a corner of our dining room.

It is soothing to walk around his property amongst the vineyards and orchards. And yet, according to his wife, this wasn't quite good enough. If he spent too much time here, he would get what she coined "low altitude sickness" and he would have to pack up to sleep on a glacier in Yosemite in order to be restored to full health.

Which reminds me...some of my fifth graders have recently been confused by the name Yosemite. Instead, they've been saying Gethsemane, which makes me chuckle every time.

Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park

We've been to this park before, but now they have a new Visitor Center. This is my kind of park! I love teaching this part of American History to my fifth graders! We watched a film called "Blossoms and Thorns" about the Japanese interment situation. The rangers here were excellent as well as the volunteers. Time to get our own Victory Garden going this year.