Monday, May 31, 2010

City of Rocks

Bowl of pancake batter in hand, I peeked into the kitchen at the Almo Outpost Steakhouse to ask if they'd mind cooking our pancakes on their stovetop, since our kitchenette next door only had a microwave. Almo Idaho, population 140, is in the middle of nowhere, so we didn't have many other options.

"I'm too busy to cook your pancakes, but you can come back here and cook them yourself!" the 50-ish lady told me as she placed a heavy cast iron pan on the stove. She reached for one of the 20 plastic bottles of melted butter she kept above the stove, squeezed a generous amount of butter into the pan, handed me a spatula, and suddenly I was having my first experience as a short order cook.

I enjoyed visiting with the lady as we cooked. She was good at multi-tasking, and fast, even using a pair of scissors to cut the toast, explaining that it was faster than cutting with a knife. She lives about 15 miles south of Almo, just over the Utah border.

My friends Dori, Brittney, and Melissa loved the pancakes; they were the best I'd ever cooked. (The butter helped, I'm sure!) The four of us were staying in Almo because of its location at the entrance to the City of Rocks National Reserve.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Iosepa: Utah's Hawaiian Ghost Town

When my two young nieces saw the flower in my hair as I met them to attend a Hawaiian celebration in Utah's west desert, they wanted a flower in THEIR hair too. Fortunately, they were staying with their Grandma Ruby, who is an expert at improvisation. Grandma Ruby quickly pulled two daffodils off her silk flower arrangement, grabbed a glue gun and some barrettes, and soon the little girls had flowers for their hair too:


Three-year-old Paul didn't want to be left out, but doesn't have long enough hair for a barrett, so he got to have a flower hung over his ear:


Before leaving my parents' Salt Lake City apartment for our 70-mile drive to the Memorial weekend celebration held at the Hawaiian ghost town of Iosepa, I snapped this photo of my parents with my sister Julie and her five children, who are visiting from Maryland.


There's not much to see in Iosepa, the former site of a town settled by Hawaiians in Utah's barren skull valley, but it is interesting to visit because of its story.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Playing with my coworkers

"You're a big jerk! You should have given her more of a chance!" one of my coworkers joked to the other who had just eliminated me from the game of "lightning" we were playing at our team party. At that moment, I realized that me playing this game with my male coworkers put them in a no-win situation.

If they eliminate me, the only woman on our team of software developers, then they're a jerk.

If the one, not-very-athletic woman on the team eliminates them, then they've lost face.

So I decided to be a spectator. I'd just spent a delightful hour playing volleyball with 7 of them. I was tired, and had jammed my thumb during the volleyball game (clearly the reason I missed my basket!), and so was happy for the chance to relax and snap a few photos.

Here's a video of the lightning game, where you are eliminated if the person behind you in line makes a basket before you do:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In defense of 15-year-old boys

Recently my coworkers were discussing 15-year-old boys. They reminisced about what a painful and difficult age that had been for them, and about how lazy and annoying they were at that age. One of them figured that most 15-year-old boys were a big pain, because of all the transitions they were experiencing.

I happen to have a 15-year-old boy living with me right now, and my experience with my nephew Parker has been the opposite of what my coworkers described.

Parker is charming. He's currently learning to play the ukulele, and one of the pleasures of my life is to hear the sweet sounds of him playing and singing each day. Here's a video of a song he recently performed at a year-end concert at his Jr. High School. He was dissatisfied with this performance, because he was a little nervous to be performing in front of so many peers and such a large audience, but it will still give you a sense of his sweet music: