Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gendering Mormonism Retreat at Timberlakes

 Last fall my friend Allyson wrote to me and told me she was doing something and that I should join up too. I've known Allyson for a dozen years now and she has never recommended anything or anyone that isn't stand-up-and-shout fabulous. So I started participating in an online discussion group following the readings for the Gendering Mormonism class at Claremont College. It consisted of about two dozen women who all did readings and then commented in an email group. The catch was that most everyone knew each other from their graduate student days at Notre Dame. I knew three people.
 Then, someone suggested a retreat (which was a reunion for everyone else) and I had to accept the fact that I'm kind of a retreat hussy. I'll go anywhere for any reason, and even with people I don't know. So I chipped in for that too. We stayed here at the Timberlakes, just outside Heber.
 These two were the masterminds (can you say mistressminds?): Liz, who organized the group and the cabin, and Melissa, who got all the readings up online and got our food and entertainment squared away.
 There was a hot tub. There was not a lot of sleep -- these women are hardcore; also a fair piece younger than I am now.
 Kennan was one of the others I'd known before. Here Kennan demonstrates crying on command for her latest job: she's an actress at a communications training center for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Doctors have to tell her bad news and she gets to be devastated umpteen times a day. Or she gets to be the crazy relative whom the doctor has to contain and control. Never a dull moment when Kennan's around!
 I had to put in one picture with the bison. The bison really set the mood, I think. Friday night we played a rousing good game of  Cards Against Humanity. I should warn that it is an NC-17 game, and we got an edited version. During the day, we took turns interviewing each other for the Claremont Women's Oral History Project. I was a reluctant participant up until about this point (I'm over on the right giving Allyson prompts) when Allyson expressed something that was so brilliant and she said it so gracefully that I thought it needed much wider press. So, I'm on board with that too.
Here is the whole group at the end of the retreat: Nadine, Alyssa, Jillian, Jennie, Hillary, Me, Kennan, Elaina, Allyson, Melissa, Kelli, Melissa, Lindsay, and Liz. They were an incredibly diverse, talented, articulate, warm and drama-free group, even with eight of us sleeping on bunk beds in the same room. I left with plenty of new viewpoints to consider and even new examples to follow in living a faithful LDS life. It was rejuvenating and thought provoking in a way that church just hasn't been for a long, long time. I hope we do it again!

Friday, June 28, 2013

I have a garden, I lovely garden . . .

 I also have a kindergartner who has been plucking cherries in all shades of pink, trying to hasten the harvest. Finally Papa said it was time and he was out there before breakfast, up on the ladder and shaking the tree.
 Joss, holding forth on the finer points of cherry picking (or explaining why he didn't have to wash them first -- Pesticides Ahoy! as Homstarrunner says).
 Various plants here. We've tried sweet peas for several years and this was the most successful to date, but they still turned out much shorter than the flowers of my childhood. Our onions are finally growing past the scallion stage and I have no idea what is different. We tried lettuce-leafed basil and you could make boats out of the leaves. And the zucchini is freakishly big this year. Waist-high before it produced a single fruit. The kids groaned when they saw it, because they know it's open zucchini season now.
Rob's plum trees have now nearly covered the sandbox. It felt like it was years before they produced fruit, but now we get mounds and mounds of them and they're all still eaten before we can make a single Zwetschgen tart or batch of jam.
OK, so it's small, but we still get a lot out of it. Already we've had rhubarb, dill, parsley, mint, cilantro, loads of arugula, leeks, cherries, basil and zucchini. We should be out picking apricots right now, but Rob's got some big editing deadlines and I'm sitting down. So shoot me.
This is the birdhouse that Rob and Sebastian had to make for some cub scout requirement. This was made entirely out of odds and ends from the garage, and it's been up now for more than six months. I've been impressed at how many birds it attracts right outside the kitchen and dining room windows. I thought the birds would quit coming when the snow thawed, but we've had a steady string of visitors even now in the heat of summer. Two great woodworking projects -- I can't wait to see what Rob and Joss make in a few years.
Best though, are the kids the yard attracts. They manage to find lots to do even in our tiny bowling alley-shaped backyard. Here's to the first tomato!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Trek Day Two

 Here is all of our ill-gotten booty. We had heard from leaders with increasing panic that the flags were missing and that they needed to have them for an activity.
 Rob and the kids mounted them all and brought them out at breakfast. Leaders were relieved. 
 Our trail the second day was all uphill until lunch; we were using a road that led to an old mine shaft. Silver mine, I think. It felt hotter, though I think it wasn't even 70 degrees. One of the things Rob got out of trek was how much worse life was for women simply because of the clothes. I felt ugly and hot, but not uncomfortable -- hiking boots and 15 yards of fabric is easier to wear than nylons and 4" heels in my book.
 We did do a women's pull, but with a very light hand. They guys were all running along side us and no one had to take a vow of silence or carry women across rivers or bury baby dolls . . . 
 And in our family, the girls had been pulling all along. We stopped for lunch up by the mine, then they posted the flags across the valley and made one person from each family run and go get them. Our hand cart could leave when our flag got picked up. Kudos to Brian for getting to our flag with out cardiac incident. I know I couldn't have done it!
We came down and stopped for lemonade. The leaders were great about breaks. The stake presidency was waiting at one point with Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches on the first day. They carted outhouses all along the trail for anyone. When Rob and I finally stopped to use one, we were hopelessly behind our family and we caught a ride on an ATV.

 At the end of day two, there were games set out, some kids dunked themselves in the lake, we had another fantastic meal, and then a testimony meeting. Here's Maddie with her friends Eliza and Abby. She looked good to me, but it turns out it was a lefthanded bow.
And here's my honey. He looks great, but I'm glad suspenders aren't part of his everyday attire!
We had a wonderful time. I would have kept going if only there had been showers or swimming at some point. And I decided that I'd happily have been a pioneer in the Grandview Stake.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Trek at Night

 Maddie and pals, once we got into camp: Lucy, Maddie, Hadley, McKay, and Toa. We had dinner, and I was completely converted to our leaders' way of doing things. We had fabulous food. We'd heard other groups getting beef jerky or bread and chicken broth to eat, but we had full-on feasts for breakfast and dinner, and they packed us picnics for lunch.
 After dinner they taught us two dances and the everyone tried them out.
 I love this one of Maddie. I think her orthodontist would too.
 Rob and I even matched up some of our "kids" with neighbors we knew and tried to keep them all with partners.
 Sam was chosen as bug-sprayer and he was just as effective as Caroline and the sunscreen.
 Here's the part where we're supposed to have a reflective time around the campfire sharing our stories of the day and emoting. Instead, one of the kids said "Let's steal all the other families' flags" and that is what we did. Kinley stuck one up her skirt. Katelyn and Brayden walked through another's campsite during their prayer and walked off with the flag. Rob and Caroline staged a heist out of the back of our neighbor's truck. By the end of it we had all of the flags and everyone in our group had participated. Rob claims the flag stealing was another excellent activity in building unity.
And it was gorgeous. GORGEOUS!
We adopted a bunch of kids who weren't ours, and I have no idea how many boys slept in the boys' tent, but I slept pretty well, and so it was all good by me.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Trek in Fairview Canyon

Back last fall, Rob and I were asked to go along on trek this June with the teenaged kids in our ward. This is a reenactment of the Mormon pioneers who came across the plains. While many of them came in covered wagons initially, it was more than some of them could afford. Brigham Young came up with  the idea to make "handcarts" which used people instead of a team of oxen to pull a family's belongings across most of America. One of my own pioneer ancestors, Mary Ann Argyle, was in the first company of handcarts that came out to Utah.
Going on trek is something that has trended since Rob and I were in our teens. Only one person of our generation went, and her experience was kind of hardcore (the leaders brought live chickens and made the kids figure out how to slaughter them) (ugh). Now, however, most teenagers around here get a chance to go on trek once between 14 and 18. This was the first time that our stake (a group of congregations) had put on a trek.
I was skeptical because we weren't getting a full-service trek where there are professionals along the path to help you out and show you how it's done. Instead we were using all stake people and provisions and heading out to a site not normally used for handcarts. But we borrowed our "pioneer drag" as Rob called it.
The McFarland family just setting out:(L to R) me, Rob, Brian, Katelyn, Brayden, Soa, Kinley, Caroline, and Sam. We had no idea how awesome they were at this point
Here is Maddie, starting out with her family. She was excited because for once she was the youngest -- with two older sisters!
The first bonus was that Sam's older sister, Jessica was back from grad school and had come to drive another brother back early. She, and her newly-rescued dog Moxie came along and were quickly adopted into our family. Yeah, that's right. We got a dog.
Here Soa and Brayden demonstrate the high-tech brakes.
And here Caroline, our sunscreen nazi, applies sunscreen to anything that stood still. We asked her if she could yell at people. When she said that she could, we knew she was the right person for the job. No sunburns here!
At various points along the trail, there were games and activities set up. Some were team building, some were mensa problems, and some were just games. Here we are playing tug-of-war.
This was a run-and-catch-your-neighbor's-stick game.
And stilts were just bizarre. It turned out that Rob and I both rocked the stilts even though none of our boss, athletic kids could. It was difficult terrain, filled with mole holes and tunnels. Later Maddie told us she was a stilt ninja too. Who knew?! Now we have to find a way to integrate this skill into everyday living.
Pa Rob shows his horseshoe throwing skills, which he kept at a fine sheen in Dorfgastein.
We lunched at a lake.
We fell behind the kids, who were racing down the trail.
By the time we caught up, the front handle had fallen off and they had come up with a very effective solution: the duct tape I'd brought for blisters, and some cord. This was probably the best team building and mensa exercise of the trip, and it certainly solidified our feeling that the kids were completely capable.
Rob, sporting his pioneer wear and his hippie, environmental, bleeding-heart liberal Sundance water bottle. Great grandpa Robert, that anti-suffrage signer of the Utah constitution is rolling in his grave.
We had a river crossing. I love this picture (which Maddie took) because it shows everyone helping. We found out later that in some families the boys had the handcart the whole time and the girls just walked along.
Not our family. Katelyn and Kinley certainly pulled their weight.
"For some must push and some must pull/ as we go marching up the hill"
And can we just stop and admire the scenery?! This is why Rob and I kept falling behind. It was GORGEOUS! Like Meg Ryan in "French Kiss": "Oh-hoh! Beautiful! Wish you were here!" 
Sam let a bee into the boys' tent and they were all screaming like toddlers at naptime. Poor Sam!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


 Zaniyah and Joss at breakfast.
Nelyana playing duck, duck, goose with Elsie, Joss, Ole, and Zaniyah.