Friday, June 29, 2012

The Loading Place

If you stay on the road past the Clifton cemetery, you'll end up in what used to be called "The Loading Place." I'm not sure if it's all private property now or if there's still even access there but it was, at one time, a hub of summer activities, most significant of which were dutch oven dinners. I'm not so sure it was as fun for the Moms, but they never let on.

After milking, the family (plus any friends or other family who wanted to come) would load up in vehicles and head up the canyon. During the driest part of the summer, the vehicles not in the lead would set their pace well back, so as literally not to eat dirt. If you drove up past the Loading Place, the road would have such deep ruts that you just followed in them and hoped the heck nobody was coming from the other direction. Even farther on up, there was one point that had a little gully, sometimes water-filled, guaranteed to high-center any car, and sometimes even trucks.

At one point, we would come to a barbed-wire fence, usually closed. I recall getting out to open and shut it myself, and memory tells me that it took at least a tough farm girl to operate. The first time I heard Michael Martin Murphey's song "Cowboy Logic", I knew the answer to his query "If you see three men in a pickup truck, dressed alike from boot to hat, could you tell which one was the real cowboy, just from the way he sat?" before I heard it the first time.

Sometimes when riding in the back of the truck, if you hung out a little too far, you would get whapped in the face by a small branch. (I can smell the crisp summer canyon air in my mind right now.) As soon as we arrived at the Loading Place, the dads would gather firewood and make a fire, the moms would haul out the copious amounts of chicken and makings for fried potatoes in the dutch ovens, and the kids would wander around looking for sticks or bugs or those white berries on the trees called "kisses", because if you squished them on your cheeks, they gave you a little wet kiss. Still waiting for the food to cook, we would wander a short ways up the trail to an open artesian pipe that offered the coldest water you could ever imagine. The older kids would often take a shortcut to the pipe, but I was pretty convinced there might be a bear hiding in wait so I always stuck to the road.

When the food was FINALLY ready, we would all gather around the campfire, sitting on logs, eating, visiting and playing. And trying to move out of the smoke that somehow seemed to follow no matter where you sat around the fire. Why is that? The dutch-oven fried potatoes were so good that I honestly don't remember if we even had dessert and to this day actually consider them a type of dessert.

Finally someone would begrudgingly mention it was probably time to go home. The drive home was always at a more leisurely pace, perhaps because it was a little harder to anticipate the road curves in the dark, but more likely because we all wanted to savor the memories. And, oh, there were a lot of good memories made in the Loading Place!
One drawback to these canyon picnics was that sometimes a tick latched onto your body. Mother was vigilant about checking for ticks. It was considered potentially-fatal if its body broke off and left the head in your body. It must have happened, and I don't recall any deaths, but the threat was always there. The removal was accomplished by one of three methods (perhaps a combination of them): put a hot hat pin on it until it backed out, put a hot match on it until it backed out, or smother it with rubbing alcohol until it backed out gasping for breath.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Big Giraffe

I was watching a favorite tv show recently, Antiques Roadshow. A woman had brought in an old occasional table. It got me thinking. Is it so named because it's occasionally used, or because it's used for special occasions, or because it's occasionally used for special occasions? Wiki doesn't seem to know either.

In seventh grade, a teacher said something about a chest of drawers. Up until then, I always thought they were called "chester drawers", though personally I never knew anyone named Chester, other than Matt Dillon's deputy, but I assume he would have kept his drawers in a chest.

A coworker years ago was talking about how her brother's son would never go downstairs because he was scared of something down there...a big giraffe. Come to find out, he misunderstood when his grandmother told him not to go downstairs because there was a "big draft" down there.

And off the record, why is it called a funny bone when the only time you know you have one is when you're in waves of pain?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Over and Over and Over

The generation gap continues to live on. Kyle and I went somewhere the other day, which frankly is rather unusual. There was music playing in the business and one song came on that sounded like a stuck record. For those of you too young to know, a record was the grandfather of the current music cd. Now and then, the surface of a record would get scratched, and the same refrain would play over and over til it made you crazy enough to get up and fix it. This is how the music in the store the other day sounded to me. When I mentioned to Kyle that somebody needed to go "fix it", he informed me that scratching records weren't really an issue these days and that the actual song itself was recorded to sound like a scratching record. Now, isn't that sweet?

Yesterday I heard somebody's cell phone ring; they had it programmed to sound like a phone ring from days of yore....rriiinnnggg.

We have come full circle. Can polyester leisure suits be far behind?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

3 times

I've cooked two times this week, which is kind of a record. To top it off, I made enough for leftovers. Kyle usually gets his own grub but did sit down and eat with me Monday night. We had mashed potatoes, gravy with turkey and fresh corn on the cob. Teelay had already eaten something. Tuesday night I warmed up the leftovers. Tee wasn't hungry, so I made two plates and took one to Kyle in his room. Wednesday night Jason came over to see if we could get my lawn mower started so I cooked up a double batch of Alfredo Tuna Helper, and yes, that is considered home cookin' at our house. Thursday I came home from work for lunch and warmed up some leftover Tuna Helper. There is still enough for another two or three rounds, but leftovers become unwelcome fare after Day Two. That includes Thanksgiving, but there's usually never any of that left over. I have a good recipe for Thanksgiving leftovers that involves turkey, stuffing, pie crusts, cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup and a goodly amount of gravy slathered on top; let me know if you need a copy.

It all reminded me of the Lionel Richie song "Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady, so I looked up the lyrics. If you insert "leftover" in place of "lady", you'll see how that might work:

Thanks for the times
That you've given me.
The memories are all in my mind
And now that we've come
To the end of our rainbow
There's something
I must say out loud.
You're once, twice
Three times a lady.
Yes, you're once twice
Three times a lady
And I love you.
When we are together
The moments I cherish
With every beat of my heart
To touch you, to hold you
To feel you, to need you
There's nothing to keep us apart.
You're once, twice
Three times a lady
And I love you
I love you.
(Unless you're served thrice)

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Dad would have turned 95 years old today.

I was reminiscing about things he used to have and do that bring back fond memories. Like:

Shaving soap in a dish, with the bristle brush

The smell of Old Spice aftershave

Suspenders (though Nik wears some now)

Oxblood shoe paste, probably going by a different name now. Sometimes he would "let" one of us polish and shines his shoes, and we considered it an honor.

Bolo grandson, Carver, wore one of his great-grandpa's bolo ties to Western Day in Cardston last month.

Sleeveless open-mesh t shirts, known now as "wife-beater shirts", an awful moniker.

Hats. Dad had one for every occasion and the dressy ones usually had a feather of some kind.

Leather gloves. If my dad had one splurge (besides malts in Downey), it was leather gloves.

Denim. After he passed away, there was a shirt hanging on a hook in the hallway at the top of the stairs. I buried my face into it to see if I could smell him, but he had washed it. It has since disappeared. My dad wore a lot of denim.

Haircuts. Even when he didn't have much hair left, he still drove to Preston to have it trimmed regularly.

Flippers and whip-cracking. The whip cracking was usually used as a noise-maker to get the cows rounded up. He didn't use it nearly as often as he used his flipper. If they had an Olympic event in flipper-flippering, my dad would have lead the team. He could shoot a fly off a cow at 30 yards. My dad's cows were pretty well-behaved, as cows go, and it's quite likely that's because they knew his aim with a flipper was deadly. He used to make his own flipper out of wood and medical tubing, but after he didn't have to spend all his money on us kids, he bought himself a real manufactured flipper. He was like Chuck Norris with that thing.

Thistles. Dad hated thistles almost as much as he hated Utah fishermen. Well do I remember the many times we would all grab our shovels and make human swaths through the fields to take out the thistles. Now and then one would have the audacity to show up in our yard, but it never lasted long enough to grow up. I was grown up myself before I realized that weeds could actually grow in gravel. Dad was always hauling gravel from his gravel pit into the yard, so it was everywhere. I thought he did it to prohibit weed-growing, not realizing his ongoing every-day battle to extinguish weeds. He got a good laugh when I told him that.

When Dad was waiting to go do chores or milk the cows, he would often sit with his head in his right hand, elbow to thigh. He wouldn't go out one minute early or one minute late, so this was his waiting posture. I always thought it was that he was dreading having to keep up the routine, and thinking back, it makes me a little sad.

Eye twitching. When Dad was really tired or really nervous, or somebody was visiting and he wanted them to leave but didn't quite say it, his eye twitched.

Handkerchiefs. Since Dad never needed a tie for Christmas or Father's Day, we defaulted to those big red or blue paisley-patterned handkerchiefs he always kept in his back pocket. Another default-gift was those flat carpenter pencils that he sharpened with his Schrade pocket knife. He must have had more of both than anyone could ever use, but he always acted delighted with our gift.

If it's true that necessity is the mother of invention, Dad was the father. He was so creative that he could have taken out a few patents...if he hadn't been so busy farming. He was also very very organized, as exemplified by the little cabinet behind his shed door. It had probably 20 cubbie holes, each filled with a different type nail, nut, or bolt, all labeled. They NEVER got intermixed.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Dad!