Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alternative Winter Break

Mike and I have an adventure in store for us this December. First off, it means that we will not be able to attend Aunt Tuny's Christmas Get-together, and for that I am very sad.

BUT, we are going to be advisers for the Service and Learning Center's Alternative Winter Break to Guaymas, Sonora Mexico. Tucson and straight down to the coast. It's a long drive from Cedar City, and we do the drive in two days. About 30 people will be in 5 vans and a pickup truck. There will be just three non-students (adults?), I believe--Mike and me and the Service and Learning Center director, Pam.

I had my first informal meeting with Pam last week and had a lot of questions answered. We don't stay in tents or anything like that. It's a "nice" hotel. Guaymas is on the Baha California coast, less than 100,000 people, and the S & L folks have been going back to the same area and to the same school and orphanage twice a year for the past several years. It's a very popular trip and students who go once can't wait to go again and hope they are able to sign up for it. They have built up relationships with local people, and an American couple who live in the area. Students built a storage shed to hold equipment and supplies some years ago so have to haul less stuff across the boarder. We bring a lot of our own food, buy some locally (I hear there is WalMart there) and eat at the hotel for breakfast. We provide our own lunches from the food supplies, then eat out at a local restaurant for dinner. We do haul our own bottled water. :-) That's why they bring a pickup truck. The hotel is also the same one used in the past and the owners allow the group to use their commercial refrigerator to store perishables for lunches, so that's a big help. I'm sure the rooms are quite basic. But, Hey! I've stayed at the Blue Angel in Las Vegas--I can stay ANYWHERE! ha.

Some of the projects they do are at an elementary school with clean-up and painting, providing some supplies; an orphanage--just playing and doing any other jobs like assembling equipment or playground stuff; some building projects; some clean up; humanitarian and educational-type projects. Pam hopes to add sewing this year if she can scrounge a few old sewing machines like from schools that are upgrading and getting rid of the older models. That would be right up my ally, the sewing part. I used to know how to sew. But I know how to garden and economize with water, etc. They've taught basic water purification and some basic gardening skills in the past. They also have an evening "pool side" reflections time with the students to reflect on the day's activities, lessons learned, etc. and specifically asked for help with that aspect to make it more meaningful this Christmas season. I don't know how that will go . . . not exactly my forte.

Mike has helped the Service and Learning group learn how to lay brick and block before they left on these trips in years past, and that is how Pam came to invite us to come along as leaders/advisers. The student leaders are really in charge of the organization of it all--we're just along to help keep people from doing stupid things. I don't know that it's possible, but we'll give it a shot. Oh, and to work hard, too. There is also a group from the Technology and Construction department at SUU who will be there at the same time, but they will be doing some very specific building projects, not related to the Service and Learning projects. Mike and Boyd from Construction management are friends from long time past--we've known Boyd's family for over 30 years. Boyd's students will be building block homes, I think. We'll find out! Boyd is on Mike's SWATC advisory committee, too.

I was surprised to learn that we travel on Saturday, Dec. 11 all day to Tuscon, spend the night and then arrive on Sunday late in the afternoon. We work all day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with an A.M and an P.M shift, lunch between, dinner after. Then on Friday A.M. we head back, spending the night in Flagstaff and get home on Saturday (the day of Aunt Tuny's get-together). "We only work for 4 days?" I asked the student leaders I met with. And they both nodded and said that it was four very long, very exhausting and fulfilling days.

So, you asked, Mom, and that's the answer! Off to Mexico. Mike finally applied for his passport just today. Students have to pay, but we don't, so that's a happy thought. It won't detract too much (money-wise) from our other big family trip in the summer, especially since I don't shop and Mike won't have any time to shop while we're down there. Mike will have to have a classroom substitute for the time we're gone, but I've got annual leave out the wazoo. I wish I could give him some of mine!!

I tried to find some photos on the SUU website of the past Alternative Winter Break, but couldn't find them. Fake ones from the internet will have to do. Adios! (Oh, by the way. Neither Mike nor I speak a word of Spanish!!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Foliage

Mike and I noticed how many of the leaves on the trees in the mountains were changing as we drove home from Provo on Sunday. We went for a drive up Cedar Mountain on Monday evening. Oh, I forgot to mention that he and Nick went to a BYU football game while we were up north, too. Nothing says Fall like Football, right? Whatever. :-)
So, here's some pretty leaves from our neck of the woods. Enjoy!

General Relief Society Meeting

Last Saturday was the General Relief Society Meeting in Salt Lake at the Conference Center. I don't know how it happened that all my family (well, most of them) have managed to attend meetings in the Conference Center but me, but it was the case. Mike and I were going to be in Provo for a family baby blessing (Eric and Brittney blessed their new baby on Sunday), and it just made sense to go a day early, so I decided I wanted to try and attend this meeting. I contacted a Provo friend and she got us tickets. Silly me, I didn't realize it would help to have tickets. Duh. I think we would have gotten in OK. Maybe even on the floor area and not in the balcony. But our seats were in the balcony and right in the middle. We were there in plenty of time. All those people and I didn't see anyone I knew. Suzanne saw a lady or two from her ward in Provo. I was watching for one of my student workers, but didn't see her. Like I said, I LOT of people.

Twenty-thousand women, visiting before the meeting and then


not in a wave-type pattern, but

very suddenly

EVERYone was on their feet and silent as the Prophet and his counselors walked onto the stage.

It was very impressive.

You could hear a pin drop. No whispers, no talking. Utter and complete respectful silence.

The meeting was awesome as well. I enjoyed all the speakers very very much.

above is a link to the highlights.

Suzanne and I went out to eat after the meeting and we had a nice time visiting. We were back to Provo by 10 pm, so it was a long afternoon. We left Provo around 4 pm to get there in time to park, walk to the conference center.

You know, just the logistics of all those people were quite amazing. I've been into the Conference Center for tours, I've been to listen to the MoTab during a Thursday night rehearsal while I was at a Library Conference some time ago. I attended a Christmas program some years ago with Eric when it was his choir who were the "warm up" for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. ha. [Not really. The kids sang in the lobby of the Conference Center before the Christmas program. There's a CD of that very concert and I sent it to Eric for Christmas last year, without knowing when I bought it that it was the same concert. Nice coincidence. I just thought I was sending him some MoTab Christmas music.] But in all those other times in the Conference Center, there were not the full crowds. This Saturday brought crowds. And they flowed very smoothly.

I was also very impressed with the choir. They all looked perfect. The sounded great, of course. They never moved, they didn't fidget (granted, they WERE adults--but still!! that's hard to not move and scratch your nose. ha) and were all sitting just so. And the choir director was always in the right spot at the right time when the lights moved off the concluding speaker and onto the choir. They stood up in unison, perfectly. Well, it looked pretty perfect to me, anyway. The big cameras were fun to watch, too. And the monitors are essential to anyone viewing a meeting. The place is so big that it's impossible to tell who is who as the podium is so ffffaaaaaaaaarrrrr away from your eyes. Opera glasses would be in order, perhaps. Funny, I've never seen anyone at Conference using opera glasses. The monitors work quite well. ;-)

So, that was my fun experience at the Conference Center. Thanks, Suzanne! Couldn't have done it without you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Drain Game

Sometimes it seems futile to try and keep up with EVERYthing. I mean, really. There's just a lot of stuff to occupy one's time. We have house work and yard work. And work-work. And there are meals to prepare (but very VERY few--thank you very much, Gail Dear), dishes to wash and produce to preserve--IF the tomatoes ever produce anything worth eating. And there are committees to serve on and meetings to attend and stuff. Just more and more and more stuff.

People (other people, not me) have been known to say, "Gee, there's nothing to do in this small little po-dunk town!"

But, I beg to differ. There's too much. Football games (college AND high school--two HS and Mike knows and teaches players on both teams) are going right now. And volley ball and soccer. There's probably more sports, too. Later there will be basketball and gymnastics. And there's always some sort of festival of sorts going on. Or a fun run, or a bake sale. There are cultural events out the wazoo. We just got invited to attend the Orchestra of Southern Utah events. We have tickets to Cedar City Music Arts, thanks to the generous gift of my Mother-in-Law. There are still some Fall season plays going for the Utah Shakespearean Festival. I could get tickets for the SUU visual and performing arts events, including drama and musical productions.

I didn't mention that we have a third-grade grand-daughter living here and she's probably going to have some sort of a production in the coming months. They always do. And my co-worker is having a baby, so we need to schedule a shower in there, too. Mike has some scout camps and stuff coming up. Stuff. Always stuff.

And, truly, it is the STUFF that life is made of. Really. I'm not complaining. But I am rebelling.

Sort of.

I usually obtain tickets to the university plays, music, etc. Last year we enjoyed a few plays, other concerts, BBall games and Gymnastics meets. But this year, I've decided to just lay low. I WANT to be home. I WANT to spend time in my house. I did not get tickets for the music or arts or athletics on campus this year. I have already used all my vouchers for USF, so that's done. We do have tickets for a few events between now and April, but that's about it. Music Arts is once a month only. And I'm done. I don't want to see all the STUFF this year.

I don't think I'll be missing out, or be anti-social. I'll still go to my water-aerobics class when I can (it's been a while....I'm working on it), and maybe yoga once or twice a week. I got to read a few novels lately and it was FUN. I'm a librarian, for pete's sake, and I seldom have time to read! So, I think now I will. Notice, I didn't promise to get the dishes done or the lawn aerated ;-)

I have my priorities! ( I didn't even mention all the Church stuff. They're still on the list of things to keep, so I'll be plenty busy.)