Monday, April 26, 2010

My Grown Up Hut

Ours was maybe the fourth or fifth house to be built on Littler Road in Sandy. When my family moved there in 1984, construction consumed the entire block. The lot next to our house was empty for years, and sometimes builders would toss their extra lumber and bricks over there.

I don’t remember when my sister Lisa and I first ventured to the empty lot next door, but at one point we walked over, picked up some wood and began “building” a hut. And then we decided to each build our own hut. Then we invited our cousin Liz over and she built a hut. We mapped out our territory; tapped into our inherent “gatherer” instincts and claimed lumber, rocks, bricks and whatever else we could find to make the space our own.

We created quite the community for ourselves. A common area served as an ampitheatre for town meetings and performances. The stage was made up of a large campaign sign for Steve Newton who ran for mayor or something. We might’ve even kept a piggy bank to pool our pennies to buy candy for a future occasion. We established a “rock store” where we could grab a rock or two during the construction of our huts. We called it the “Snooty Snotty Snyder Rock Store” (even at a young age we appreciated alliteration). The empty lot separated our house from the Snyders. I don’t remember why we didn’t like them. Lisa says it’s because they wouldn’t talk to us.

Our huts were designed for entertaining. We each had a central “fireplace” made of broken bricks. The bricks formed a circle surrounding twigs meant for a fire that we of course never made. And around the fireplace sat large rocks suitable for seating an appropriate number of guests.

We spent hours working on our huts. No hammering of nails took place; we just laid out boards where we wanted walls to be. We did dig and rake a lot. I remember digging in the dirt with a shovel to even out my little plot. It was hard work because that ground was chock-full of rocks. Every time one of us hit a rock we made an announcement to the others: “Wow, I hit a big one!” we’d call each other over to admire our new discovery and then to the rock store it would go.

The terrain was uneven and sagebrush sometimes got in the way of where we wanted a wall to be, but we worked with it. Once the huts were complete there wasn’t much to do besides remodel. We spent a lot of time visiting each others' hut and we held town meetings about ambitious projects that would never come to pass.

We called it “Sageville” and it was our home next door to home.

I don’t remember who it was that told me sagebrush could be brewed into tea. I had no interest in trying it, but the idea that Sageville produced a natural resource that could sustain its citizens pleased me.

Looking back I can see a quality in myself that carried through as I’ve grown older: my neurotic need to make things look pretty and establish order and cleanliness. I kept a garden rake out in my hut (much to my parent’s displeasure) because I liked the marks the rake left on the dirt when it was evened out and freshly turned. And if Dad was ever missing his little whisk broom, it’s because I had it in my hut to sweep dirt and gravel off the wood and rocks. I never kept my bedroom that clean, but my hut…that space was perfect, because even though I had the luxury of my own bedroom, somehow my hut was more…mine.

It’s interesting how kids have a need to delve into their imagination and create a world where they are independent – a world untouched by adult influence.

Years later more houses filled in empty lots, and eventually our huts were replaced by a real house. I might still have some toys or candy buried out there, who knows.

Even though my hut is gone, my desire to create personal spaces and craft something out of nothing remains. I still want some of the same things:

I want to create a beautiful space.
I want to take pride in producing something on my own.
I want to care for and tend to something that needs me.

So I built another hut:

This 4 x 4 square is not just dirt surrounded by lumber. In a few months it will be beautiful with colorful and wholesome fruits, vegetables, and herbs (now that I’m older and truly independent, I demand a return on my time and investment).

See how neat and tidy it is? The guy who came up with the square foot gardening system is even more neurotic than I am when it comes to clean lines and precision.

My plot is part of Wasatch Community Gardens, where I share a space with other gardeners.

We even have a common area where we hold important meetings about drip irrigation and stuff:

And not much different from the Snooty Snotty Snyder Rock Store, we keep a shed of tools that we share to maintain our gardens.

The produce I harvest from my new community will sustain me far better than a cup of tea from Sageville. Of course, if I want sage tea here I’ll have to grow the sage myself.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On Reading My Subconscious

One of the many reasons I love having Annie around...

Annie? Were you just singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead"?


Then why do I have that song in my head?

Because ten minutes ago you got a text message and your phone went "Ding Dong"

Monday, April 05, 2010

Going on Twenty...

If you're wondering why this parking validation is laminated, read on.

I've had this validation for almost twenty years. Don't believe me? See image of the back of the card below:

To say that I have had it for almost twenty years is only half true because my dad has had it as well. We take turns having it -- or not having it. It all started the night he got it after parking at the Lion House for my cousin's wedding reception. Which cousin? I'm not sure. Any of you guys read this? Who got married on May 8, 1991? My guess is Michael.

I remember Dad handed it to me to keep track of, and I said, "No, I don't want it. You take it." And he said, "Lar...hold onto this" and I was like, "No, you." Not in a bratty way. It was all very playful. Trust me.

To make the LONG story extremely short...we've been trading it back and forth for the past twenty years. We've stuck it in sock drawers, pockets, etc. Some exchanges have been more extravagant than others. I remember two in particular:

I was in 8th grade. I was in choir class when someone delivered an envelope to Mr. Farley. He said, "Laura, this is for you." It was BYU stationary. I was a little startled, "What does BYU want with me?" I thought. "Did I do something extraordinary? Am I invited to something?" I opened the envelope with a little anxiety until this little validation fell out. Nice one.

Naturally, I had to return it to him somehow. My dad sang in the Tabernacle Choir at the time and my 7th grade English teacher also sang in the MoTab. I had an idea. I went to Mrs. Christensen's classroom and asked her to do me a favor by putting the card in his "box" where the choir members pick up their music before rehearsal. Apparently when she got there, he had already picked up his music, so instead (this is even better), she went to the row where he was sitting, handed it to the guy at the end and said, "Will you pass this down to Tom?" So I bet having this card passed down in the Tabernacle from baritone to baritone (is that what part Dad sings?) was pretty unexpected. I was proud of that one.

At what point this card was laminated, I'm not sure. I think he mailed it to me from some foreign country when he was gone on choir business or work business and it was laminated. Good thing. It would have been totally trashed by now.

The last time I gave it to him was last May when I stayed with him and my mom in London. Right before I flew out, I stuck it in his New English Hymnal which he referred to frequently.

I forgot about it until I pulled these cherry tomatoes from my fridge tonight to make a salad. He must have slipped the card in the baggie I had in their fridge the night before (I was instructed to bring a salad for Easter dinner). Yes, if I have 4 tomatoes leftover I will bring them home.

I don't remember seeing it in there when I threw the ziploc baggie in my "to go home" bag. Well played Dad. Well played.