Friday, October 24, 2014

Biking Improves Intimacy

Oh, no, no, no…not “that” kind of intimacy. Though it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve written about that on this blog.

I mean the kind of closeness that comes when we remove the walls we put up.

In this case I’m talking about the physical walls of a car.

I have wanted to take on the challenge of biking my youngest child to her school—4 miles away. (My other children go to neighborhood schools that are close enough for them to walk.) I have been neglecting my bike a lot lately. My go-to vehicle has definitely been my car. So, I’m out of shape, out of practice and my kid just keeps growing bigger and heavier as time goes on. With the upcoming change in season, however, my window for biking was/is closing. Last week I did it! It took me 40 minutes, each way and the next day I couldn’t walk down the stairs without wincing. But I recovered and I did it again yesterday. And again today. (If you live in my area you know how delicious this weather has been. That’s not going to last.)

Here are examples of the intimacy you might experience while biking around town:

{I'm loving the colors}

Intimacy with the crunchy leaves and the sun on your arms and of the simple conversations with your darling child sitting in the trailer.

Intimacy with the laws of physics. And how fun it is to zoom down the big, big hill and scream “WAHOO” together with that child.

Intimacy, during that delighted screaming of “WAHOO,” of all the inadvertent protein that just flew into your mouth. Note: remember to floss tonight.


Intimacy with those same laws of physics on the way back UP that…big…..(pant, pant)……BIG……(huff…huff)….


Hey, for those who were hoping for some heavy breathing in this post, that was it.

(I’ll wait for you to catch your breath.)

Intimacy with some of the best parking spots at the store. Right. Up. Front. “In your face, cars!”

Intimacy with the elements. Blue skies, warm sun, colorful trees. You are not a fan of getting intimate with windy days, though. You two are not friends.

{Pedestrian and biking trail in between home and school}

Intimacy with the roads and the sidewalks. And the mental list your backside is making for the city maintenance crews.

Intimacy with cars. And drivers. You’ve got "special" words and "special" looks-with-your-eyes that you save for those really, really close, close moments together.

Intimacy with the subtle fragrance of the orchards as you pass by and with the crisp water that quenches your thirst while waiting at a stoplight.

Intimacy with the various places on your body that sweat perspire glow.

Intimacy with the people you see. When you’re rolling around on a bike, no barriers, you notice people more. You find that you’re much friendlier with others when biking. When you see other people out biking, you’re like, “Hey, look at us! We are BOTH biking! Look at that! We’re pretty much best friends now! Because we’re both biking!” The relative novelty of it all binds us together. The same secret-society phenomenon occurs when hiking trails in the wilderness. (I imagine this does not occur in places like Copenhagen, where EVERYONE bikes. Not so novel.)

By contrast, how many times do you make a new bosom friend when driving? At a stoplight, you look over and you wave and smile and gesture. The other driver rolls down the window and looks confused. “Look at us!!” you shout happily and point. “We’re BOTH driving!! In cars! Isn’t that great?!” Smile and wave and a big thumbs-up to your new best friend.

Yeah, maybe not so much.

{What kinds of things do you notice when you’re biking or walking?}

*I'm* not the best spokesmodel for bike culture, but *this* blog is drool-worthy fabulous:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Decorating Naturally

I found a perfect example of an all-natural Halloween decoration. It was at the top corner of my living room. Too bad that when I came back later with my camera it was only the cobweb. Unlike before, this time it was empty.

Hmm...must be camera-shy.

I'm sure she'll show up again. Somewhere.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thank You, Deseret News!

A big Thank You to Wendy Leonard and Michelle Tessier of the Deseret News for the story you did on our soggy, but warm-and-fuzzy, free swap yesterday. (Truth be told, it brought me to tears.)

Here's the link: The Spirit of Helping: 'Take Whatever You Need'

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Occasional Depth of My Youngest

"My spirit is climbing trees."--my 5-year-old daughter said as she climbed a tree in a park. 

"Or mountains. My spirit is climbing trees and mountains. Any kind of climbing."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fall Free SWAP Coming Up! Spread the News and/or Come Volunteer

{flyer posted up at my youngest's school}

The next SWAP is coming up soon. Help us spread the word. Below are links to downloadable color/photo flyers like the one in the photo above. Print them out and post them up. Or pass them around electronically--email, Facebook, Twitter, you know the drill.

c o m m u n i t y   f r e e   s : w . a . p .

for everyone and anyone
Saturday, September 27, 2014
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Orem City Center Park—Rotary Pavilion
North side of Center St. midway between State St. & 400 E.

It’s like a yard sale where everything is free.  Clear out clutter, pass along items you no longer need.   Item donations are welcome—from furniture to home d├ęcor to sporting equipment, with special consideration for seasonal items and cold weather gear.  Please limit donations to items that can be carried by one or two people; nothing that needs special moving equipment—i.e. dollies for refrigerators, etc.—unless you can assume responsibility for transport to its new home.  Simply bring items to the community free s:w.a.p. and then stay and browse the rest of the selection for anything that you could use. 

Note: NO DONATION REQUIRED; feel free to take what you can use.

There will also be a collection bin for any food bank items guests wish to bring which will later be delivered to the community Food Bank in Provo. 

Volunteers needed! 
Get together a group of friends and join us!  
Email desertgreengoddess(at)gmail(dot)com

Any other questions can be emailed to above address.

Facebook group: 
Community FREE S:W.A.P. (Sharing: We All Prosper) - Utah County

s h a r i n g  :  w e . a l l . p r o s p e r .

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bidding Summer Farewell

{foot selfie in the river with the daughter of a friend}

We have just finished the third week of school and the weather has been a bit unseasonably cool. It would seem the summer holidays are, indeed, behind us. And so I indulgently remember and celebrate.

We were fortunate to meet up with some friends we met while living in Singapore. They are amazing, amazing people currently on assignment in West Africa, but this summer they had a whirlwind tour all around the U.S. We snagged them for a quick al fresco breakfast up the canyon. Lucky us!

{A and my son tending the fire. There is something about a fire; it speaks to a primal urge in all of us.}

{My daughters, G, and ME heading into the woods to play by the river. I love this image: the fairy woods, the sunshine, and the innocence of youth.}

It was during another outing, with some of my in-laws, that I discovered where our fantasy weekend cabin would be: Midway, Utah. Oh, that place is a dream.

{Had a delightful time exploring with Gramma, Grampa, and Uncle J.}

{the youngest and the oldest at the Wasatch Mountain State Park in Midway}

Here's our outing with long-time dear friend, K, and her kids. (They're pretty much family.) Considering we grew up in CA and went our separate ways, it's really quite something that we ended up separated only by a 25-minute drive, two states over in Utah!

{Picnic at South Fork Park in Provo Canyon. Green note: You might notice cloth napkins, reusable lidded containers, glass jars, washable cutlery and reusable water bottles.}

{Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon--it's hard to see in this photo, but several of the older kids climbed up to the upper water fall. We've visited quite a few times before, but this was their first time climbing to the top. They loved it.}

Next up: Lovely, lovely family dinner up Santaquin Canyon with my in-law family, hosted by the generous K and J. My husband is 2nd of 7 children. And though my father-in-law's military service took the family all over the U.S., in turns out that the parents and five of the seven children now live within an hour-and-a-half's drive. How fortunate we are. And what a gorgeous location; loved it. 

{Trumboldt day use area--oh, it smelled good, too! All those pine and fir trees.}

{Yes, please! More of this. So beautiful. I tagged along while the youngest and her cousin climbed around up and down the banks of the frigid, but thankfully, shallow, river.}

Final stop: This year I've got the oldest starting jr. high school, the middle at our trusty neighborhood school, and the youngest trying out a charter school in the neighboring city. The day before school started, we attended the Back-to-School picnic for the youngest's school; it was up Provo Canyon at South Fork Park. (I'll share more about this school and my hopes for it in another post. The short version is that I've given it a nickname: hippie school.)

{Yes, the hippie school picnic saw potluck dishes like quinoa salad and heirloom tomatoes fresh from the garden. But hippies like Doritos and Cheetos plenty! As you can see by the bright orange on my children's plates. ;)}

Nature is my therapy. Visiting with friends and family is my therapy. So summer outings that combine the two...ahhh. Heavenly.

As great as summer can be, let's get real, people: it's the season that reminds me that school is the best. invention. ever!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Globetrotting: Japan, Part 5

Here we are near the end of our 5-day trip organized by Rural Japan Explorer (now called Satoyama Experience). This was the day we would tour the countryside via bicycle. We couldn't help it...the rice fields, the warm summer day in Japan, the biking, we just had to whistle the theme song from My Neighbor Totoro. Our guide was pleasantly surprised at our children's familiarity with Hayao Miyazaki's films (for those who are unfamiliar with him, he's kind of like Japan's incarnation of Walt Disney, with a twist).

Oh, this day was such a delight.

{local gentleman giving out bread for feeding the koi fish}


 {there is so much signature Japan in this photo}

{our guide--I believe his name was Pazu (I know it's a name from one of the Miyazaki films we have seen)--stopped us every now and then to teach us about the area; he did well, very amiable, with an adorable smile.}

{I love this photo by my husband}

{biking-while-photographing skills were tested on this ride}

{Pazu took us to a natural spring where we could fill up our water bottles. The small red shrine is a charming pop of color in all this luxurious green.}

{mini-picnic rest stop for the group--rice cookies with wheat tea}

{by the river--needed to test my biking-while-photographing-backwards skills}

Whew, what a ride! So, so lovely. What a great way to get out and see the countryside. (If you can go biking on your next getaway, do it!) When we returned to the bike shop our guide gave us a recommendation for a lunch spot that turned out to be a charming, artistic, East-meets-West joint. I tell you it was delightfully strange to hear American jazz music at a Japanese restaurant. After lunch it was time to take a van-ride to our final night's stay in the rural mountains of Japan.

Oh, man.


Tanekura is a mountain village with a population of . . . wait for it . . . 22 people. Talk about a sleepy mountain hamlet. Perfect. It is known regionally for its soba noodles and in the fall of the year hosts a festival in honor of its celebrated export.

Oh, but this place might just be heaven on earth. I wish I could capture the whole experience: the heat, the sweat, the quiet of the noisy cicadas, the fragrance, the falling water. 

The peace.

I just pleasantly sighed as I read that. 

{part of the village--photo by my husband}

We arrived at a kind of upscale-rustic lodge, where we were to be the sole guests for the night. The proprietors did not speak a lick of English--so it was a relief that we had our own translator (my husband speaks fluent Japanese)--but they thoroughly spoke the language of grace and hospitality.

{looking down into the entry from our rooms upstairs}

After unloading our luggage and settling in, we joined our host on a tour of the village. (My husband worked hard on this trip--constantly translating so his family could understand and be enriched by this Japanese experience.)

Oh, it was hot that day. Really hot. But the calm was invigorating.

{old grain house, specifically buckwheat--photo by my husband}

Upon returning, our host invited us to wait by the pond while he retrieved the fishing gear. The kids had a nervously-grand time being mentored by both our gracious host and by Daddy. And each kid caught at least one fish! (I'm going out on a limb here, I'm guessing the fish did not have as great a time as the kids did!)

{returning the fish back to their home}

After a group bath . . .

(wait . . . what?!)

More on that in another post. When in Rome, baby.

. . . the kids changed into jammies and my husband and I changed into the traditional Japanese robes provided to adult guests. It was time for dinner. 

We had the place to ourselves. Which was good considering the children were a little tired-wacky; it had been a long, physically-demanding day. We have some, ahem, Loud-American tendencies in our family (all except my husband who is more sensitive to the quiet Japanese culture--well, quiet when the booze isn't free-flowing, that is, because they can let loose when inhibitions are down). Another beautiful multi-course meal in an absolutely stunning setting. Ahhhh.

{this woman was so sweet tending to the littlest}

{this was quite a culinary excursion--the kids ate traditional Japanese foods the entire 9-day trip}

{we even ate fish that looked like fish}

I would do this day again in a heartbeat.
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