Oct 20, 2012

Rivers


It’s interesting how you can be frightened of what you love. I grew up next to a gorgeous river. The South Yuba is a playground of smooth white granite, almost too hot to sit on during summer afternoons, but sizzlingly delicious when you come out of the water wet and dripping. The pools are turquoise-green, and the currents are smooth, strong, and loving. When I was younger, we stayed on the sandy beach, swam out to where the water was just above our heads, and quickly came back. As I got older I allowed my friends to convince me to venture further upstream, fighting rapids, clinging to rocky corners to catch my breath, standing on smooth, tall underwater boulders that we knew about only because we swam it so much. Carefully, we’d edge into the full wash of waterfalls, find a place to wedge ourselves, and pretend it was a particularly ferociously jetted tub.






Jeff and I camped on our honeymoon. We chose a few cheap, spartan tent-sites around Monterey Bay and followed a line along the coast up into the giant forests of Northern California. One of the places we made camp in Monterey was a mile walk from the beach. I remember hiking along a narrow trail through grassy fields overarched by eucalyptus trees. There were a lot of butterflies, particularly swallowtails. We picked some fennel that grew along the path and tasted it. The bay, when we got there, was beautiful--blue, warm and sunny,with a giant rocky arm stretching around to the North. Bodysurfers were using it to launch themselves into the waves. I waited on shore, sitting among piles of bleached white branches that lined the beach, and allowed the water to bury my ankles while Skywalker ventured further out. I tried not to think about giant tidal waves. I was glad when he returned.

We went whale watching. I enjoyed standing on the prow of the boat, but was relieved when we got back to shore. And while they were great memories, I was even more glad when we left the ocean and ventured into the redwoods.






My worst nightmares involve tidal waves. I actually dreamed of one the night before the Indonesian Tsunami. Sometimes they’re giant walls of water that send streams of vapor stretching into the sky as far as I can see. Sometimes they’re boiling masses of grey, rising up against a cliff or ledge where I am standing with my family.

The river I live close to now is mostly shallow, wide, and full of bright trout. The rocks on the bottom glow in jewel tones when the sun hits them just right. Grassy islands and trestle bridges, mysterious hollows and miniature forests make me think of some of the darker fairytales. Giant, white-winged birds squat in the middle to fish. In the summer, it is dark green. In the winter, it is an icy jade color. There is a spot at the city park where I can walk out onto a volcanic ledge and watch a terrible descent of rapids pour over jutting rocks, ricocheting out in spray patterns that remind me of feathered headdresses. One of my friends is convinced that the spirit of an Indian chief lives on the island just a stone’s throw from her front porch.






We have a pond in our backyard. I promised myself I’d take my kids out there every day this summer and teach them to swim. I don’t feel comfortable living around water. I worry, and sometimes dream of terrible things happening. But the odd thing is, sitting there right next to what could be (in my mind) instantaneous death can bring a sort of roaring peace. I don't know if it's the calm of sitting just next to ferocity, or the sound of rushing water itself filling the senses entirely so there's no room for anything else, but I am grateful for my rivers.



Jun 16, 2012

Review of Crater Lake, by Steve Westover



Steve Westover asked me to review the advance review copy of his middle-grade adventure and fantasy-fiction, Crater Lake: the Battle For Wizard Island.

Crater Lake was a fun and interesting read. It will appeal to its intended audience, and it is a rarity; a story directed to middle-grade boys. We need more of those.
I felt that the legend, geography, mythology and overall imaginative conceptualization of the world of Crater Lake were very well done. The characters are perfect—a quarreling pair of siblings, a jock/bully, a cute girl, the good boy scout. Any kid who picks this up will find someone to identify with. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters. I appreciated that they were generally consistent, without improbable changes in personality or behavior.

My favorite thing about this story is the sense that it’s not a cozy little world Westover has created; there is real danger. Overall there was a feeling of eeriness and impending adventure (or doom) throughout the story, which drives the reader in spite of the disturbing tragedies that occur in the course of the story. I did feel that there was a little bit more of that than I’d expect in a middle-grade book (tragedy, particularly as one of the tragedies remains unresolved at the end) but the violence isn’t such that I would keep my children from reading it. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone with grade-school aged children, boys in particular—they will love it.

You can buy a copy of Westover's book here.

May 31, 2012

Professional Whining


I'm whining over on my professional site today about how writing sometimes brings feelings you don't expect.

Yes, I realize that whining and professional are pretty much mutually exclusive. I'm not apologizing.

May 30, 2012

Introducing: Chumba


Our newest edition. (and yes, I used edition, not addition, purposefully. I'm punny like that.)



I was trying to come up with a good blog name for him. I sent this picture to my SIL's wall on facebook,





and she commented that he was a cute little Chumbawumba. IT fits, doesn't it?

Things We Say: Good Job!




So lately, baby Rose (who isn't so much baby anymore as toddler) has been cheering me on.

Rose: Mama, did you change Chumba's diaper?

NSG: yep.

Rose: (gasps) Good Job!




Rose: Mama, are you making lunch?

NSG: yes.

Rose: Oh, good job, mom. Good job!



Rose: Mama, did you shut the door?

NSG: Yep, I did.

Rose: Good job!!! (pats my hand)



It makes me giggle, but I realized something today. I like having a cheerleader. And I do a lot of little things that don't seem all that important but, when added up together, actually are pretty important to some people. Some important people.

So maybe I should let Rose's voice (which, let's face it... isn't always going to be there congratulating me) continue mentally. I should be telling myself, "good job," for the little things.


Or maybe Rose will always be my cheerleader. One can hope.

My poems are in a contest... go and vote!!


So Spring Runoff is coming to an end on Wilderness Interface Zone, the LDS nature-writing blog which I love and adore and have contributed to for a while. There are a lot of great poets and a lot of great poems in the running this year. I put the title the way it is to attract people to this blog post (because you guys are so awesome and loyal... I knew that if I wrote "go vote in a poetry contest" you wouldn't be as likely to come and see as if I put "my poems are in a contest") but I want you to read all the poems and vote for the ones you like. I mean, if you have the time. Or go read half and vote for the ones you like, or just read a few and vote for them if you like them. I just want more people to go and see that LDS poets are great, because sometimes we get a bad rap.
Instructions and voting ballot, and link to the poems are all here.

May 28, 2012

Regrets



I'm writing a story right now that elicits a lot of strange emotion in me. I find stuff that is usually buried much closer to the surface. Today, I don't know why, but I'm filled with a lot of sad nostalgia. Regrets. And a lot of wishing things were different...I'd done things differently, I'd known how to act in certain situations or been strong enough at the time to act in the way I knew I should, or I'd made different decisions.

places I have regrets about:

I miss home. I'm an eight-generation Californian, but none of my kids have been born in California, so I feel like I'm cutting off those roots. I love where I live now, but so many people here are deeply rooted here. I miss my river, my mediterranean climate, the wildflowers my mother has been bragging so much about on facebook lately.

I miss being a student. Specifically, I have deep regrets about changing my major from music to psych. It turned out right. It was what I was supposed to do, but the few times I've walked around on campus at BYU-Idaho, where I was a music major, the regret almost immobilizes me. I wish I hadn't let some guy tell me I can't sing. I wish I'd spent four years singing in the choirs, stuyding theory and pedagogy. I wish I'd switched to another teacher instead of letting that one negative message paralyze me and rob me of my talent.

I miss being a student. Specifically, I have deep regrets about not taking more literature and writing classes. Not getting to know such people at BYU as Margaret Young, Lance Larsen, Leslie Norris, Eugene England and others. I regret I didn't find my tribe until after I was no longer an official student.

I regret never serving a mission or doing something like ILP. Doing something big, something hugely out of my comfort zone, and seeing the world.




People I have regrets about:

Aya would be the first. Good memories=singing together in choir (first altos rock), getting to know your family, learning to love fish, learning how to properly make rice, learning what a beauitful person you are. I wish I'd been mature enough to know how to be less awkward and unintentionally insensitive at times, and that we were better friends now.

Jason would be the second. Good memories=singing together, dancing together, white water rafting together, being taught by indulgent older ladies how to flirt to make it believable on-stage. Falling in huge like with you. The funny stories you told. The way you'd light up the stake dances and come up with completely improbable group date scenarios. I wish I'd known how to let you know I liked you without making you think I hated you, and I wish I'd known how to take rejection without actually thinking I hated you. I wish I hadn't blamed you for things you weren't responsible for. I wish our families were close enough to go fly fishing and hiking and rafting together so I could hear more of your stories.

Bishop Handley would be the third. And sadly good memories are hard to come up with, because I met you at a time when my life was at rock-bottom, and I was at my absolute worst. But... good memories. Seeing Barbara Kingsolver's "prodigal summer" on your shelf and realizing we were kindred spirits. Your wife's delicious pumpkin cookies (also a regret, because I ate half of them... my only excuse is will power goes out the window when you're in a stake of shock.) Getting to know Eliza at 10, who is a whole lot like my daughter Emma is now, and hearing her formulate her running-for-student-body president speech (and coming up with as many words as possible from her name. Watching Sister Handley run a busy household with skill and grace. Regrets: that life was so stupid when I met you, because you could have been a mentor.

Tyler would be the fourth. Good memories=whenI first saw you, and was blown away with like. When you told me I could call you whatever the hell I wanted. When you told me you were washing mickey mouse glasses. When you told me you like to watch TV while in the tub. How you taught me something really important--that the fact I was a single parent didn't render me utterly unnatractive and undatable. Regrets=everything else. Being crazy. Treating you wrong. Not knowing how to do it any better at the time. I wish you were my next door neighbor and we could talk to each other over the fence every once in a while, or as we were pulling our garbage out to the curb. Or at least in the same ward or something. I wish we could invite your family over for FHE. I wish I could get to KNOW your family. I wish I knew you more than I do.

Dr. B would be the fifth. Good memories=there are a whole lot. How you helped me know I actually am a good singer. Teaching me how self-consciousness makes you look even sillier in almost every situation (possibly every situation... I haven't tried them all yet.) Going to that one songwriter's recital together, even though it was totally wierd. When you gave me a much needed blessing. Laughing in voiceworks class. Emma and Jennie under an umbrella. The two of you (you and Debbie) singing, "I'd give it all for you," at my wedding. Regrets=that I was so crazy and mixed up there for a while, and you had to witness it. But then, that is probably also why one trusts another person. They see the worst and forgive you for it :)


We all have regrets about stuff. My hope is that nothing is un-fixable. Maybe someday, if heaven exists the way we conceptualize it (and I have faith it does) I'll have all of the great things I have now--friends, family, places, opportunities, but also an opportunity to go back and fix these kinds of things, kind of like dropped stitches in knitting. To me, that's heaven; being able to do everything you ever wanted, and be with every person who has ever touched your life or made an impression on you, made you want to be a better person. Or maybe there's a way to fix it in this life, too. Hopefully I have 60+ more years to play with. And hopefully I dont accumulate any more big ones in the meantime.

May 25, 2012

My "How-To" on Novel Writing



The Steps of Novel Writing

A post on my professional site, wherein I describe the different stages I've found I've gone through in writing each of the five novels I have completed so far.

May 20, 2012

Adam's Curse



You know how I blogged about our new house and how perfect it is? There is one thing.

Just one little thing.

Only technically, it isn't little. In order to portray the full scope of this problem, I'll just have to show you in pictures:


That's our neighbor to the right.


That's across the street.


That's the Seminary building to the left.

And this is US:


As you can see, we are blessed with diversity not only in our family, but in our lawn as well. We do have some grass

But I'm not sure if it's the right kind.

We are fond of our alfalfa. It is full of vitamins.

And our dandilions are quite lovely by twilight.


Yeah. We tried. Our plan this year was to mow down all the *previous* year's (or more likely years') tangle of alfalfa and various unmown vegetation as short as possible, seed all over and water like mad to get grass to grow and choke out weeds. You see the result.

Part of the problem is the pump. We have a very high water-table, and there's a sort of cistern/pipe sunk into the corner of our yard that collects water that can then be pumped in a system of sprinkler-ports all over the yard. But... when we tried to turn on the pump, the casing broke. It hadn't been winterized while the house lay vacant (of course) so we had to buy a new one. Or actually, we tried everything we could including seeing if someone could weld it back together, look on craigslist for used ones and many other things before we came to the sad conclusion that we would have to buy a new one (and that we had wasted six weeks of the time we were hoping grass would be growing.)

We borrowed the bishop's lawnmower (we're not proud) and chopped everything down to lethal little nubbins that will gouge you if you try to run barefoot through the yard. What you see is what has grown up in two weeks.

My friend Tyler gave me advice about a year ago that we should till and re-seed. I think maybe he is right. Which means that we will be spending yet another summer as the giant field of embarrassment (really, can a yard look any worse than ours? And it's worse than you think. The kids are always leaving toys out. And I didn't post a picture of the few piles of dog poo.) (Dogs are potty training. It's not my fault). And the wind patterns are such that *all* the trash from the high school blows directly into our field. I've taken to paying the kids a penny per piece of garbage they pick up... I think I've paid out more than twenty dollars at this point.

And add to this... our yard is about an acre. The fountain in front, alone, is probably 1/4 acre. Oh, that's right, I forgot. Want to see our fountain/flowerbed? It welcomes all who traverse our circular drive.

Anyway, that's a lot of mowing. That's like four hours of every Saturday gone. That is *so much water* that we literally cannot afford to water it until our new pump arrives in the mail. That is a riding lawnmower... probably several bags of grass seed... likely a hired tractor-tiller. Which also mean hours and hours of removing the stone path (pictured above with alfalfa) that meanders throughout our yard and which the previous owners tell us took many hours of labor to put together.

I feel overwhelmed right now to the point that I'm actually starting to say, "Lawn? Who needs a lawn?" And then I look to the right, to the left, and across the street and realize that I'm in a neighborhood.

Am I complaining about where we live? NO, not at all. We have been blessed with exactly what we wanted. Sometimes being blessed with what you wanted is just hard work, is all. Our kids always wanted a playhouse, for instance. And they got one
Which unfortunately needs to be torn down before any neighbors will allow their kids to play in our yard.









May 16, 2012

Things We Say: Mothers' Day



(Setting: It's just after church on Mothers' day. The kids are gleefully piling my lap with cookies and little cute cards the primary helped them make. The four girls hand over their baggies, then turn and look expectantly at Squirt.)

Squirt: (mulish expression on face) these... Mom, these cookies are mine.

NSG: Yeah? They look yummy.

Squirt: They're for me to eat.

Bella: Squirt, they're for Mom! Give them to Mom!

NSG: Squirt, if you give me the cookies, I'll share some with everyone. This is a lot of cookies for me to eat.

Squirt: No! NO, they're mine. I...you can have all my papers. (hands over the card he made, plus a crayon picture and a coloring page from primary.)

NSG: Thank you, Squirt.

Skywalker: (Crouches down, looks him earnestly in the face): Squirt, don't you want to give Mom her cookies? Don't you love your Mom?

Squirt: (looks at floor) Yeah, I love her. I just don't love her that much.


*afternote: the cards were really cute. Here is what each of the kids wrote, monikers used to retain privacy*


My mom's name is: SERU

My mom is JAWS years old.

My mom's job is

My favorite thing to do with my mom is BACEN (baking??)

Love JAWS



(this one is written by a teacher)

My mom's name is: SARAH

My mom is 13 :) years old

My mom's job is MAKING LUNCH

My favorite thing to do with my mom is GIVES HIM FOOD

Love, SQUIRT


My mom's name is SARHA

My mom is 31 years old

My mom's job is to TAKE CARE OF US

My favorite thing to do with my mom is TO PLAY GAMES

Love, BELLA


My mom's name is SARAH

My mom is 31 years old

My mom's job is TAKING CARE OF KIDS

My favorite thing to do with my mom is GOING PLACES WITH HER

Love, Loli (written in cursive)


My mom's name is SARU

My mom is 31 years old

My mom's job is CLEZ HOUSE

My favorite thing to do with my mom is PLA GAMEAZA

Love, LOVEEM (MAYMAY)







May 11, 2012

First Time Fishing

So, I went fishing for the first time in a long time, and first time ever in the famous Henry's Fork River. It went something like this:

6:15 pm: NSG: (catches tackle on bush, spends five minutes getting it out.)


6:20 pm: NSG: (giant cast. Line seems to be pointing up into the sky). NSG:(looking up) oh, it's caught over that telephone wire.

6:30 pm: NSG: (trying desperately to reel the line in, but spinner is yeilding no visible results)

Random guy who appears mysteriously out of the bushes: Do you need a net?

NSG: Huh? Oh, no. I think it's caught on a rock.

Random guy: you know, not that it's my business or anything, I mean, you can keep fishing here.

NSG: Huh?

Random guy: this side's not opened yet. I wouldn't want you to get in trouble.

NSG: (Glancing at the dam) Opened?

Random guy: you're not supposed to fish here yet. It opens on the first.

NSG: The first of what?

Random guy: The first of June. You know, the fishermens' breakfast?

NSG: Oh. I think I've heard of that. (pause) Can you help me get my line in?

Random guy: I think you're going to have to break it.

6:50 pm: (alone once more, casting in a more legal location)

fish:jumps out of the water and snaps at wildly-cast, flying tackle

NSG: (drops pole on ground)

NSG: (screams)

NSG: I guess there are fish here, then.

May 7, 2012

My Novel

I've kinda gypped you guys here. (Though I'm not sure how many of you worry enough to feel gypped.) But... my novel. It's published. You can learn all about it here. It's got a pretty cool cover. You should go look. (eeeee!) OK. And I've realized I don't have time to write everything I want to write, and so some things (you may have noticed) have fallen clear off the table. I'm not sure when that will change. But... if you would like, please update your rss feeds to my professional blog, where I'll likely be writing more often from now on. Or you could just like, add it to your list. Or whatever you want. My latest blog post over there: Writing Out the Murky Subconscious Wherein I talk of ghostwriting... that is, exorcizing ghosts of the past through writing.

Jan 28, 2012

The Saga of the House Hunt, Part II

I posted the first part of our house-hunt story several months ago. I wanted to collect enough pictures, and have a real block of time to do this post right when I got down to it.

I ended that last post describing how discouraged I was feeling. That I realized we can't get the house of our dreams because we couldn't afford to heat and maintain it.

Well, the very next day, a house that I'd been eyeing but not really eyeing was reduced drastically in price (by about thirty thousand dollars) so that it finally fell within our practical price range. It had five bedrooms. It had five acres. It was built in 2006. So I jumped at the chance to look at it. IN fact, I called the realtor that day and he happened to have an opening that afternoon, so it's likely we were one of the first couples to come and see it after the price reduction.

Skywalker and I walked through the house. We kept eyeing each other, like, "do you think this is as cool as I think it is?"

Suffice it to say, by the end of the tour, we were both ready to make an offer. Which is kind of a miracle in itself, because Skywalker isn't someone to jump the gun. Or really, do anything fast at all. He's the yin to my yang. I'll be like, "let's not miss this opportunity, now's the time to strike," and he'll want a few weeks or months or perhaps even years to make an important decision. It's good, because we tend to balance each other out. But in this case, he was right with me.

There was another couple bidding on it. We didn't know their bid. We put in ours.

The bank came back saying the bids were so close, that they wanted both of us to put in our best possible offer for consideration. After a bit of fretting and some prayer, we put in an offer we felt was reasonable (we were capable of handling the mortgage, and it wouldn't strain our budget so it was uncomfortable to live).

We got the house.
And moved in one month later.

It felt kind of insane to me. WE've never bought a house, neither one of us. To go from renting teeny little spaces to owning a place that is not a starter home... it's our home, our permanent place... has been a dream come true and hugely overwhelming at the same time. We are incredibly blessed.

A few years ago I made a list of things I wanted in my dream home. I found it a little while after we purchased this home and I was struck by how much Heavenly Father listened to me, even though it was just a little list... little things that I didn't really expect to have.


On the list:

A bedroom with a large east window so that the sun could come in and wake us up.
Our bedroom's east window.


A large laundry room with lots of storage space and chutes going from the upstairs so that I don't have to carry dirty laundry all the time.


The kids' upstairs bathroom--that cupboard under the sink is the chute opening.

\
That's one of the chute openings--directly into the laundry room. There are two. The other comes from the master bath. ANd the laundry room is the right size for raising (eventually) nine kids... with a giant set of shelves lining the wall big enough to tuck laundry baskets into.

(from the list) A bigger kitchen, with windows that look out into the backyard so I can watch the kids playing while I do housewifely work.

You see in the above picture that the floors are concrete. One of the things on my (and Skywalker's) wish-list was radiant floor heating. We *never* thought we'd be buying a house with it already installed, we always assumed, since it is kind of a rare and quirky thing for people to do, that we'd have to build a house ourselves before we'd have it. This house has radiant floor heating. This is what heats the radiant floor heating:
This is a boiler (the radiant floor contains tubes, and hot water is what heats the floor). It runs on either electricity or (as you can see) a wood stove. Skywalker's big project this fall and winter has been to get the boiler going and the stove working. Because it lay dormant over a winter and hadn't been maintained properly for a few years, He's had to get in and scrub out the tank

And replace and adjust some hardware.

Luckily, he's had plenty of help.

This project has been a combination of headache and love story for Skywalker. He's always been interested in alternative heating/technology. Our plan has always been to try eventually to live completely off-grid. One of the facets of our plan is to build a greenhouse/atrium that completely encases the southern and eastern sides of our house. This would heat the home (passive heating) during the winter, and also provide us an opportunity to grow fresh vegetables (and possibly fruits) year-round. The first thing we noticed when we looked at our home, was the bones of our greenhouse.


In case you can't tell, that long side is the south side, and the porch goes on around to the east. Again, this is something we never thought we'd be able to purchase already completed (or ready to be completed), we thought we'd have to build our own home in order to do this. In fact, there are some coils from the boiler that emerge inside this porch, we think the previous owners (and builders) of this home had planned on it becoming a greenhouse, and the coils are meant to create some heated beds inside.

Some other things not pictured:
I've always wanted a seperate room for toys, where I can just shut the door and not care about the mess. And there is a room on the first floor that we immediately designated the "toy room."

I've always wanted a school room.

The upstairs living room is large enough, and sort of in two parts. One side is perfect for our Schoolroom


The other has become our den/living room.

Skywalker has always wanted a secluded office/storage space where he can occasionally work from home, and with storage for all his electronics. Just off the master bedroom is:
It's a long nook, filled mostly with giant shelves--enough even to satisfy my husband with his love affair with electronics of all kinds, including salvaged cables, collections of power strips... all things that I admit have come in handy but we've had a hard time finding a good place for (where they won't drive me crazy because to me, they look like clutter). ANd there's a nice nook for his desk. There's even a window (admittedly, it looks into our neighbor's backyard, but oh well.) Best thing of all-- it has a keyed lock on the door. So he feels like his stuff is safe from the kids.



Other unexpected blessings:

The dining room. We got the table and chairs for a really, really great price off of KSL, and almost blew out our transmission dragging it home.

You'll see in that image a French Door... that is another wishlist item for me. I love French doors. ANd with the two there on the east side of living room/kitchen, and all the big windows, I feel like I'm out in nature. I can watch it snow. I always know where my kids are. It feels very peaceful, looking out on the grassy fields. All our neighbors have horses; it's wonderful to watch them grazing or sometimes cantering across the fields that surround our property. Speaking of which:


That's the view from the balcony off the master bedroom. The property line ends that kind of brownish furrow you see (there's a pond right there), and it continues for some ways south of us, bordering the lot of the seminary building (no driving kids to semiary, yay! And... the high school is also *right* across the street.) When we lived in Provo, we hoped, hoped, hoped for 1 acre. We moved to Idaho, and our hopes expanded... we very likely could end up with two acres. Maybe three, if the house was a fixer-upper. We never in a million years thought we'd end up with five, and a house that we didn't have to retrofit quite a bit to make liveable.

Stuff I never expected but am very grateful for: the bedrooms are very large, and all have walk-in closets with tons of bars and shelves for the kids to put all their clothes/stuff/toys. The master bedroom is huge with a giant walk-in closet with two sides, which is helpful to Skywalker's and my relationship... in the past, I have hogged 2/3 of the closet space, and he has room to spread out, now.

And last but not least... my favorite room of the house...


WHen we first looked at it I kind of snickered (like, who puts marble floors in a bathroom, and who needs a jetted tub) but oh man. I've gotten uuuuuused to it. And I loooove it. And I hope that's not a sin.

I need to go on a little. Because we bought our house, not sure we'd like where we chose to live. Our town is a tiny little town, 3500 people. It's an old town, which was promising to me; I love places with history. And there is of course the beautiful river.

I love my town. Love it. People are so friendly. And they all know each other. And they say hi on the streets. I've had fun conversations with so many of the business owners in town already--they love my kids, and I enjoy living in a place where people actually act like a community. Some of my favorite things:
That's the movie theater. IT plays one movie at a time. The cost is five bucks :) and they have a few couches at the back, and a raised dias with cool leather chairs and footstools, supposedly for big contributors to claim but generally speaking, you can sit there if you want. It's truly wonderful. Sometimes it's packed; sometimes you have the whole theater to yourself.

I'm not going to take pictures of the whole town for confidentiality reasons, but there's also the drug store (opposite from the Roxy). It truly is like an old-time drug store... they sell everything there, from prescriptions (and the guy is soooo nice... I sometimes go back there just to say hi) to craft supplies to electronics...and they have one of those long counters with a raised line of soda-fountain era stools. They sell ice cream kiddie cones for fifty cents. THey serve breakfast and dinner and cookies and brownies and all kinds of good stuff. And the ladies there are chatty and they remember you (well of course they do, there are only 3500 people in town).



This town has a wild-west, rough-and-rowdy history. It was the place the non-mormon people went. It was a hideout for outlaws, because of the proximity to the river and also the train, which stopped here, not in Rexburg. So the main street is old. 1800's brick facades that remind me of a (much smaller) version of my hometown. They're not well-preserved... they're charmingly crumbly with some boarded up windows here and there. Scattered throughout town are retrofitted victorian and turn-of-the-century era buildings and houses.







ONe of those was a brothel, back in the day. See if you can guess which one :) It happens to be just two houses down from the courthouse (also pictured above.)

ONe day while I was driving through town, I saw this sign.

Can you read it? It says "To Sandbar" with an arrow pointing off to the right.
What is this sandbar, I wondered. I turned right, and found this:


This isn't the best time of year to take pictures of it. It's a park, on the river's edge. In the summertime, they buoy off a section right there next to the shore--it's a calm, shallowish little eddy of the river. You can see the tube slide going down to it--there are nozzles at the top that spray water down into it so the (life-jacketed) kids can slide. And they truck in tons of sand and pour it all over there, for kids to play in and enjoy. We got to it on the last day of summer. We'll be taking full advantage of it next year.

And then, there's the river itself:


I think it is the most beautiful in the winter. It goes right through the middle of town. There's a paved nature trail that follows it several miles downstream. You can hike, run, bike... and in the winter, cross-country-ski along it. It's a famous river for fly-fishing. Each year our town hosts a fisherman's breakfast on the first day of the season. I want to learn... I've been aspiring to start by learning to tie flies. Skywalker got me a gift certificate so I can purchase a fishing license this year, which I will do *after* I get book and baby out of the way.

So... all in all... we feel incredibly blessed. Heavenly Father knows what he's doing. We didn't buy a house for six years, even though we could have... instead we adopted two girls. And in the end, that decision has blessed us with a great deal more than we ever expected, because we ended up in the right place, at the right time.