Thursday, July 31, 2014

16 Years

Our first OFFICIAL date story...

Our first official date together was at Greg's family cabin in Fairview, Utah.  Official because it was just us - no other couples, no ski/snowboard trips with the swim team and no more stumbling school dances.  Most importantly, we were finally acknowledging (albeit silently & separately) that there was definitely something between us.

It was the summer post high school graduation.  And BYU was right around the corner.

The previous weekend Greg and I had been at a friend's 4th of July party where he'd casually mentioned the cabin.  And then to my complete shock and delight, he'd asked me to go with him.  Woa!  The boy I really liked had asked me to spend an entire day with him.  Just us!  And not just for an evening.  This was the whole day! 

I was teaching swimming lessons that summer.  My last lesson finished at 10:00 and I remember racing home to shower and get ready.  He picked me up in his Dad's Isuzu Trooper - looking very prepared (and handsome) for a day of hiking and fishing.  We reached Fairview about 1:00 where he bought us lunch at a local grease spot called T-Cee's.  At the cabin we grabbed fishing gear and secured one of the canoes.  Greg was big into fishing that summer and very quickly convinced me that my Dad's long-held advice for worms was no good there.  No, no.  I needed to use jakes. 

I also needed to listen to this band called Rush. 

One of the things I liked about being with Greg was the ease of conversation.  Nothing ever felt awkward or strained.  And above all - he made me laugh.  A lot.  The boy had a sharp wit (still does) and I was very attracted to his calm confidence and unruffled approach to life.  He was also extremely good.  Solid and seemingly unaffected by the constant worries and insecurities that plagued my own life.      

We spent almost the entire time paddling together across the lake and back.  We fished everywhere.  He caught dozens of fish (kept 2 of them) and I caught nothing.  We laughed a lot about that.  At the other side of the lake we left the canoe on the banks and hiked above the water's edge to explore the beaver dams.  When we reached a particularly swampy section, Greg hoisted me onto his back and trekked over the wet spots so my sub-par boots wouldn't fall apart.  This meant I got to wrap my arms around his very strong shoulders (toned from years of hard swimming) while he held onto my legs.  And did I mention he smelled really good?   

(Yeah... favorite part of the date by far... sigh!)

At some point on the lake, Greg tried out (unbeknownst to me) what he thought was a stellar line to impress girls...

"Rachael, do you see those ducks over there on the water?"

"The ones at the end?" 


"What about them?"

"They're wild ducks."

(several moments of silence while I looked at him strangely and contemplated if a tame duck even existed) 

"Oh... yeah, I know that."

Tragic fail on Greg's part - though I didn't have a clue what he was talking about at the time.  But it's been 20 years since that summer (16 years of marriage) - and we still laugh about it.  

Back at the cabin, Greg showed me how to gut and grill the fish.  He also introduced me to lemon pepper, which was - according to him - a definite necessity when it came to cooking fish.  We ate on the deck while the sun was setting.   

And because we didn't want to say goodnight when we reached Provo (even though neither of us wanted to admit why), we rented The Burbs.  No hugging or hand holding.  And no kisses.  Just a really nice piggy back ride...   

I got home about midnight.   

(I don't have a picture of our first, official date.  But I have this - taken 2 weeks later when Greg took me to the cabin again during his family's annual reunion.  It's one of the earliest shots of our dating years.  Oh yes... we look way too young.  I know.) 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer 2014, Week 6

#1 - Field Trip - Annual McKinnon Reunion - Fairview Canyon, Utah.

#2 - Science Project - Clicking Quarters (properties of gas expansion)

#3 - Hike - Rocky Mouth (We hiked so much at the cabin, the kids needed something low key - so we fell back on a family favorite)

#4 - And then we did a little of this... (Continuing our summer evening bike rides and nights at the pool, resting after yard work and dinner with fellow roadies.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

My Summer With Jim Henson

This summer I'm trying to get through 5-6 books (typical me), but Jim Henson's latest biography was too tempting to wait at the bottom of my pile.  It slipped through - and I could barely put it down.  Except it was so engaging and absorbing that I purposefully started slowing down the closer I got to the end.  I've been savoring my time with him - not quite ready to say goodbye.   

I don't know why, but this time around a couple special things happened - which I wont go into here.  It was a very insightful experience.  And in the end - while I was uplifted - I felt his loss all over again.  Like a bittersweet reminder that a part of my foundation is no longer here.   

A few favorite passages -

"Simply, Jim Henson's greatest legacy will always be Jim himself: the way he was, and the way he encouraged and inspired others to be - the simple grace and soft spoken dignity he brought to the world (and expected, sometimes fruitlessly, of others), as well as his faith in a greater good that he believed he and his fellow inhabitants of the globe were capable of.  "Jim inspired people to be better than they thought they could be," said Bernie Brillstein warmly, "and more creative, more daring, more outrageous and ultimately more successful.  And he did it all without raising his voice." 

"I believe that we form our own lives, that we create our own reality, and that everything works out for the best."

“I really do believe that all of you are at the beginning of a wonderful journey.  As you start traveling down that road of life, remember this: There are never enough comfort stops. The places you're going to are never on the map. And once you get that map out, you won't be able to re-fold it no matter how smart you are.

So forget the map, roll down the windows, and whenever you can, pull over and have picnic with a pig. And if you can help it never fly as cargo.”

"I spend a few minutes in meditation and prayer each morning. I find that this really helps me to start the day with a good frame of reference. As part of my prayers, I thank whoever is helping me - I'm sure that somebody or something is - I express gratitude for all my blessings and try to forgive the people that I'm feeling negative toward. I try hard not to judge anyone, and I try to bless everyone who is part of my life, particularly anyone with whom I am having any problems."

Save a spot for me, Jim. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer 2014, Week 5

#1 - Field Trip - Utah State Capitol & lessons about the three branches of government. 

(During the last legislative session, I discovered the delicious cafeteria up on the hill.  I've been waiting months to take the troops.  And of course, no visit to downtown SLC is complete without stopping for frozen yogurt at my favorite spot - Luna Berry.  If you go, get pistachio - heaven!) 

#2 - Science Project - Alien Eggs (testing calcium carbonate properties)

(This was a hard one.  It took five days with various steps in between to complete.  And then we lost 3 of the 4 eggs.  Bleh.)

#3 - Hike - Albion Basin. 

#4 - And then we did a little of this... (This was a crazy week.  Many wonderful reunions, fireworks, BBQs, parades and a few tennis lessons.)

From the script of my clever cousin, Kelly...

 "After struggling through the untimely deaths of her husband and two of her three children, our Grandma Hoopes turned her focus to her eleven grandchildren. She planned family lunches, dinner and vacations, opened up her home, pantry and toilet paper supplies to sleepovers/toilet-papering-nights, she shared our good news and our sad, all with the hope of having her grandchildren be close to one another. Well Grandma, here we are!"

(Missing Drew, Jessica & Jordan)