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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why I Hate Brussel Sprouts - (ARCM)

My 16-year-old daughter believes this sudden rash of childhood memories represents some deep-seated mental problem, but my opinion is that I’ve often thought about these events; I’ve just never recorded them before so now I’m taking that opportunity.

Most people don’t love brussel sprouts, but not many people are horrified by them, like I am. It all stems from the ‘terrible brussel sprout accident of ‘73’.

Highway 5 runs past the north end of Hinckley. It is referred to as the “Loneliest Highway in America” and every year there are many accidents and deaths which occur on that long, straight stretch of road between Delta, Utah and Ely, Nevada. I believe it is because drivers just become so bored with the nothingness out there, they doze off and then over-correct. It is truly a problem, but until 1973 it had never affected me in a personal way.

11-year-olds are typically opinionated and picky about what they eat, but I don’t think I was particularly fussy. At our house we ate what we raised. We slaughtered chickens, ducks, turkeys, and rabbits every year on our property and hauled the larger animals—cows, sheep and pigs to the slaughter house in Delta to be butchered and packaged for our enormous chest freezer. We also grew loads of vegetables: corn, peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, radishes, beets, turnips, etc. which I ate plentifully all summer and also what my mother and I preserved in jars or dried for the other months of year.

Well one day there was an accident out on Highway 5 not far from Hinckley. A semi truck had its load shift and tip over spilling its entire shipment of brussel sprouts. A tractor trailer completely filled with brussel sprouts is A LOT of those little vegetables. Word spread through Hinckley like wildfire that everyone could go out to the accident scene and gather up brussel sprouts that were spread out around the overturned truck. I received the call from a well-meaning neighbor about this ‘bounty’ but didn’t even bother my mother with the news figuring she had plenty to do with my baby brother, the housework, the gardens, etc.

A few hours later another lady from town (definitely a busybody) showed up at our house with to two grocery bags (the biggest brown paper bags they used before plastic) filled completely to the brim with little green brussel sprouts. At first my mother was thrilled that we were able to partake of the prize, so she cooked up a bunch for dinner. The pan full she prepared didn’t even make a dent in the number we possessed. We ate them with dinner that night drenching them in butter and salt and choking down as many as possible. She continued to steam or boil them for the next couple of nights with each of us growing wearier of them each meal. On the fourth day my mother handed me the bags and sent me down to the chicken coops to dispose of them. With light heart and skipping feet, I carried those blasted veggies out the door, across the yard, through the pasture and out to our clucking poultry where I dumped what had to have been at least 20 pounds of brussel sprouts into the chicken run. The chickens were much like the family--they pecked at them for the first day or two and then they were just digging around them and acting disgusted about being served such nasty food. About a week later, my Dad sent me out there with a rake and a shovel. I had to bury the moldering sprouts because they were rotting on the ground and he was afraid they would make the chickens sick.
In the 37 years since that time, I have NEVER purchased, grown, prepared or eaten a brussel sprout and I don’t plan to, either!

For many years I've wondered why it couldn't have been a candy truck that spilled its load outside of my little town?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Bookmobile-A Millard County Classic and another Random Childhood Memory

Growing up in a very small town had many disadvantages for a child. When I was young, swimming lessons were nonexistent (except for my Dad throwing me into the reservoir when I was five); shopping for school clothes involved catalogs and weeks of waiting since the nearest mall was hours away; and everyone knew everyone else's business because there weren't enough people in town to dilute the nosiness. However, there were so many advantages to growing up in a small town I just wouldn't want to take up the time and space to list them all. It has taken 30 years since high school for me to realize that Hinckley was a great place to grow up.

One of the things I didn't recognize as a small-town disadvantage was the lack of a local library--because we had a Bookmobile! Oh how I loved the Bookmobile! The only problem with it was that it only came to Hinckley every other week. What a wonderful sight that pale yellow bus with the big eyes painted in the "O"s in 'Bookmobile' on the side was every other Wednesday!

During the school year, the Bookmobile parked next to Hinckley Elementary School and each class would get a 30 minute block of time in the 'book bus' as one of my teachers called it. But during the summer months, it came to Main Street in town.

My parents originally lived in an old adobe pioneer home with only one other house on the entire block. The blocks were huge and left open for gardens, corrals, pastures and animal shelters and that is exactly what my parents did with their land. We had two large garden plots on either side of the house, lots of fenced off areas for sheep and horses, the corral where we kept cows, chicken coops, goat and pig pens and even a fenced in pond where we kept ducks. We also had a row of rabbit hutches along our redwood fence, a root cellar with a shed on top where we housed the baby chicks under heat lamps until they could be moved to the coops. We lived in that house from the time I was three until I was 16. THEN we moved onto Main Street. I was not happy about that move with the exception of one thing--next to that house was the parking place of the Bookmobile every other week all summer.

I remember the anticipation on every other Wednesday during the months we were out of school waiting for that lumbering vehicle to make its appearance. It probably meant more to the kids in Hinckley than an ice cream truck (we didn't have any idea what an ice cream truck was). It would make the turn off the highway onto Main Street and immediately people would start following it to its destination under the large, shady trees next to my house. For the next three or four hours, the young and old of Hinckley would bring back their previously checked-out books and choose new ones. The driver of the Bookmobile was also the librarian. He was very nice and would take requests written on little cards. If he was able to fill those requests, he would have your books up at the front in a box by the steering wheel. That was so cool to have a special book reserved with your name tucked inside the front cover.

I am sure that my love of reading started when I was five years old and the Kindergarteners were able to choose their own books. Today when I walk into a well-stocked library I feel that same sense of excitement about the new adventure I will find in a book just as I did many years ago climbing up the two high steps into a bus with shelves along both walls and the back and a desk with a steering wheel and a driving librarian behind it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Goats, Another Random Childhood Memory

When my children where small they would beg me to tell them stories about when I was a child. Some of my stories have become staples in the family history repertoire. A couple of the favorites revolve around our goats. We only had two goats and only for a few years. We had a male and a female and they had tremendous personalities, yet I cannot recall their names (how sad is that?).

One memorable event with the goats happened one spring day:

In Hinckley, Morris Merc (Mercantile) (the local store with a little bit of a lot of stuff) sold kites... but only in the spring. Every kid wanted a kite and a few sticks of twine and it was a huge deal to see who could get their kites to fly the highest, thus using the most twine. For a couple of years I had purchased bad kites which I could hardly get off the ground. I had a great deal of sympathy for Charlie Brown during that time. But when I was 9, I had a killer kite! It was bright yellow and had a red Chinese Dragon on it. It was so cool! That was another thing about buying kites at the Merc is you really didn't know what your kite would look like because it came all rolled up around the balsa wood sticks and wrapped in paper. Boy, oh boy, was I excited when I opened this one and found such a cool-looking kite.

Shortly after my purchase, I went out in our pasture with my newly assembled my kite. My Mom had done a great job of adding a tail made of scraps of fabric. There was a nice, stiff breeze blowing (which is nothing new in Hinckley where the wind blows 350 days a year) and before long I had to fasten one end of a ball of twine to a second and then it was nearly gone too. That kite was so high, I could hardly see it! Kite flying is actually quite difficult work and after awhile I was tired so I started rolling up the twine and bringing that kite in. This was a dandy specimin and I was going to show it to all my friends and tell them how high in the sky it had been!
Down, down, down came my kite growing brighter and larger by the minute. Suddenly a gust of wind grabbed it and slammed it to the ground off in the distance, so I started walking and winding towards where it fell. We lived on a farm and on a fairly big lot so I couldn't see where it was, but I just kept walking and winding knowing I would get to it eventually.

I walked past the chicken coops, rolling and rolling. I walked past the pig pen, winding and winding. I thought it must be out in the tall horse grass. I saw the twine was stretched over the top of the goat pen so I stepped up on the bottom rail of the fence to continue winding. But horror of I looked over the top rail of the pen I saw the two goats munching on the very last bits of my beautiful kite. One had a little piece of yellow paper stuck to his beard and the other one had a few inches of balsa wood sticking out of her mouth as she chewed. Nothing else was left but the twine hanging loosely over the rail.

I don't remember if I screamed and threw a fit (I probably did); but the mental picture of that kite being chewed up by goats is seared in my memory forever.

About a year after the kite incident those goats escaped from their pen and in my attempt to heard them back in, one of them knocked me down and gave me a concussion. For some reason, I have very few memories of the goats after that.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Fridays are my favorite day of the week.

I really love Friday!

For the last few months, I've been taking Fridays off from work, so I usually sleep in a little bit (which starts the day off nicely). I also get to catch up on all the things I've wanted to do during the work week, but just didn't get the chance to do.

Today for example, I had the pleasure of snowshoeing this morning with my good friend Mary Kay Pfost. She owns two sets of snowshoes and allowed me to tag along for her morning excersise. In the past, I haven't found winter sports to my liking but that changed today as we hiked up the hills above town in the most beautiful sparkling snow you can imagine. Mary Kay was identifying deer, rabbit and bobcat tracks in the otherwise untouched snow. The sky was so blue and the snow so white; the air so crisp and the view so spectacular; the company so fun and the excersise so exhilerating, I couldn't help loving this adventure. (I hope Mary Kay will invite me again soon...hint, hint).

When I got home, I had a quick shower and the auto glass guy came and installed a new windshield in the Jeep. I washed the bedsheets, vacummed the floors, folded all the laundry and put it away, took a load of stuff to the Deseret Industries and dusted all the furniture. I also roasted a turkey, made homemade gravy, mashed potatoes and a huge salad. The house smelled delicious and felt clean. I am in such a good mood after my wonderful Friday, I would almost wish every day were Friday...but then Fridays wouldn't be special and I wouldn't appreciate them like I do right now.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010

We were privileged to be included in a small group of very fun people to celebrate in the New Year last night. We ate and visited until 1:00 a.m. with just a small interlude of noisemakers and poppers right at midnight to usher in 2010. We feel so blessed to have such great friends and neighbors who are so kind to us and such good examples of righteous living.

Here's my wish that we may all be blessed with a year of health, happiness and love of family in 2010!