Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When I've Got Some Lemons... I'll Make a Lemon Poppyseed Cake Filled With Lemon Pudding and Topped With Lemon Icing!

Concerning my last post, I've decided to take my girls to see their father. As if there really was any question. I've taken these trips before... to Richfield several times... to Fillmore a couple times... gotta love The Middle of Nowhere, Utah.

Life has given me some lemons as of late. I'm bringing home about one-half the paycheck I was last fall due to cut in hours because of the bad economy. But I AM grateful that I still have a great, full-time job even if I don't get any overtime for awhile. I still have insurance benefits and my 40 hours a week. I still love my job and the people with whom I work. However,the fact that I'm barely squeaking by has me thinking about cheap yet fun things I can do with the girls this spring/summer/fall.

Because of my decision to take the girls to see their father, I've managed to give myself some lemons. However, I've figured out a way to make some lemonade out of this trip AND it will be CHEAP too! Gunnison (the city in which he's now incarcerated) happens to be on the way to a great place I've wanted to take the girls for a few years now... GOBLIN VALLEY! If you're not from around these here parts, you probably have never heard of Goblin Valley, so I'll explain where it is and post some pictures.

Secluded Goblin Valley was first discovered by cowboys searching for cattle. Then, in the late 1920's, Arthur Chaffin, owner/operator of the Hite Ferry on the Colorado River, and two companions were searching for an alternate route between Green River and Cainsville. They came to a vantage point about a mile west of Goblin Valley and were awed by what they saw - five buttes and a valley of strange-shaped rock formations surrounded by a wall of eroded cliffs.


Wind and water have carved fantastic and unique goblin-like sculptures out of rock, creating an outdoor playground that inspires the imagination. Numerous rocks and coves offer unlimited walking, exploring, or hiking opportunities. It is well worth the time to hike through the area for a few hours, to enjoy the desert beauty and fascinating comical goblin forms that you find here. Along the way, there are fine views of the San Rafael Reef and the Henry Mountains.


Goblin Valley State Park is located in Emery County between the towns of Green River and Hanksville. From Green River, travel west on I-70 for 12 miles to exit 147 (Hanksville) and head south. After about 30 miles turn right at the Temple Mountain/Goblin Valley Junction. The entire road leading into the park is surfaced and improved. Travel west on that road for about 5 miles and then turn left (south) and continue to the park entrance. Goblins of infinite design will greet you.


The park is a photographer's paradise. Near the park area, history buffs can discover rock art left by ancient Indians and ruins left by early prospectors, miners, and ranchers. There are also great slot canyons for adventuresome hikers.


Hour and a half drive to Gunnison; two hour prison visit; grab a quick bite to eat at some local "mom and pop" drive-in; two and a half hour drive to Goblin Valley area; set up camp; cook some hot dogs over the fire; make some s'mores, tell ghost stories and go to bed. Next day, explore Goblin Valley, and if it's not raining or flooded, visit nearby Little Wild Horse Canyon too!


The Little Wild Horse Canyon/Bell Canyon loop hike is the most popular hike in the San Rafael Swell for good reason. The canyons are two of the best slot canyons in Utah. This hike is suitable for just about everyone. If you enjoy a long walk in the park then you can probably complete this hike with little problem. The canyons can be hiked individually for a short distance or connected together to provide an easy half day loop hike.


The Little Wild Horse Canyon/Bell Canyon loop hike is 8 miles round trip and will take about 4 hours to complete. Little Wild Horse Canyon is the better of the two canyons, so if you can only do part of the hike do Little Wild Horse.


The canyons can be hiked year round except when thunderstorms are possible. Spring and Fall are the preferred hiking seasons.

Corbin is coming with us also. I have to figure out something for him to do while the girls and I are at the prison. We'll figure something out...

We told the girls about our idea of making this a little weekend mini-mini-vacation (and I use the word "vacation" very loosely here), and they were ecstatic. They haven't been camping at all the last few years. Then we showed them pictures on the internet of Goblin Valley, and they got even more excited. I think they're going to have a lot of fun. I, personally, love Goblin Valley. It's one of the few outdoorsy places I like to visit (I'm an indoor kind of girl, ya know). I'll be sure to take 2.3 million pictures and post some of them here after our little trip.

Okay, I recant my previous derogatory statement about The Middle of Nowhere, Utah. It's not ALL desolate and creepy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

If I Were An Advice Columnist...

Dear Librafury,

My second ex-husband has been in prison since September 2005. He's supposed to be paroled in March 2010. He's been transferred to different correctional facilities throughout the state during his incarceration, and I've taken my little girls and my step-daughter to see him several times when he was being housed in small county jails. This was nothing new to them. I had taken them to see him many times when they were very small, during his short stints at Utah County Jail. Some of the visits went relatively well. He focused on the girls and didn't try to provoke me too much. A couple of the visits went horribly awry and the girls and I all ended up traumatized.

Right now, he's in the prison in Gunnison. Because this is a "prison" and not a "jail", he and his visitors can have actual physical contact, instead of visits through a bullet-proof glass partition. He has asked that I bring the girls for a visit so he can hug them. He hasn't had any physical contact with them since April 2005 when my little ones were put in foster care (he was sent to prison before I regained custody of them). I filled out the application for visitation privileges and returned it to the prison, hoping against hope that they would DENY me as a visitor because of the history of domestic violence and the fact that I was a victim (I HATE that word by the way) of him. Yesterday in the mail, I got my APPROVAL to visit him. Once again, I hold all the cards... I'm forced to decide whether or not to be the "bad guy"... it's up to me. It really always was... I just didn't see it when I was "in" [the relationship].

The last visit the girls and I had with him (last summer) went very well. I don't fear seeing him or even speaking with him. I want the girls to be able to see, speak with, and be hugged by their father. It's not their fault he is the way he is. On the other hand, do I really want to waste one entire day of my finite and rapidly passing life driving 90 miles through The Middle of Nowhere, Utah (no offense to those who live in The Middle of Nowhere, Utah) with two (possibly THREE) whiny, fighting girls in the back seat of the car, and ride herd on said girls during a 2- to 3-hour visit at a PRISON for a person who did his best to destroy me, and PUT HIMSELF in said prison by selling his family down the river for his own selfish, immature reasons? Um.... no. Make that a HELL, NO!

What do YOU think I should do?

Signed, The Hamster Running on Wheels in My Brain
Dear Hamster Brain,

You and I both know that you're not going to take any advice, and you're going to end up doing whatever YOU feel is right, so why are you wasting my time?

Sincerely, Librafury

P.S. Don't forget to get some good anti-anxiety med samples from your doctor before you go to The Middle of Nowhere, Utah!

Crazy Pills and Irony

There's nothing I like more than some good irony. I once saw some children in front of a store with a box of kittens, and the sign on the box read: FREE KITTENS - $1.00 EACH. I still laugh about that one. When I was working for Springville City, we purchased large quantities of envelopes. I was helping Accounts Payable by stuffing checks into envelopes and quickly realized that the remittance slip the ENVELOPE COMPANY had sent was about a half an inch too big to fit in their own REMITTANCE ENVELOPE.

Anywho... last Thursday, my dear friend, Suz (Of Jason, Suz and the Grunts) called me to chat, and during that chat we somehow got on the topic of my "crazy" pills (antidepressants). She suggested that I blog about my "crazy" pills, so here I go...

I became clinically depressed around the age of 13. Since I didn't have a traumatic childhood or anything, I'm convinced it was simply a combination of chemical imbalance and hormonal swings. I have been on some form of "crazy" pills or another on and off since I was 20. During the time I was with my abusive second husband, I didn't take "crazy" pills because HE didn't believe in them. For the last four years, I haven't been depressed... even without the "crazy" pills (funny how losing everything will really change one's perspective on life). However, I have been diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) due to the abuse I was subjected to for six years (no, people, you don't have to be a war veteran to have PTSD). The "crazy" pills I had had the most success with way back when were not cutting it with regard to the PTSD. So my doctor changed it up and put me on something that worked better.

I was telling Suz that I really only take the "crazy" pills for my kids' sake. If I were alone, my meltdowns wouldn't bother anyone. And if it were just Corbin and me, he could always leave the house if my meltdowns were too much for him to deal with. But my little girls are kind of stuck with me (at least for a few more years), and I can't imagine how much my meltdowns affect them. So, I take the "crazy" pills and my big meltdowns are few and far between.

Here comes the irony part. I was telling Suz that if I miss one dose, it doesn't really make much of a difference, but if I miss two days in a row, WATCH OUT. So what do I end up doing Friday night? I fell asleep at 7:00 and didn't take my "crazy" pill. Then I just plain forget to take my "crazy" pill Saturday night. Sunday, I felt so disconnected and weird (and not in the GOOD way)... it was kind of like "medicine head". I didn't know what I should be doing and couldn't think of how to do anything. I had trouble concentrating on simple tasks, the effects of that pesky serotonin not linking up like it should. I couldn't focus. I was literally driving myself to distraction. And then Penelope ended up bearing the brunt of it all because she wanted attention while I was trying to focus on something. I snapped at her, and yelled at her. This was irony at its WORST, my friends. I made damn sure to take my "crazy" pill Sunday night.

The after effects still lingered Monday morning, fighting the girls to get dressed and go to daycare/school, but by Monday night, all seemed normal (or normal for me anyway) again. I accept that I am a chemically-imbalanced, hormonal bitch; that I must seek outside help in the form of antidepressants; and that I am a much more balanced and calm person if I just take my "crazy" pills each and every day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rest in Peace, Flower

Flower the hamster was discovered by my step-daughter in the summer of 2007. While Indigo played outside her apartment in Salt Lake City, she noticed the little dwarf hamster running around the yard (you can all start humming "Born Free" right about now). Indigo captured the little creature and she and her mom brought Flower to me the next day. We had recently lost our third hamster, Rosabelle, and had an empty cage to fill.

Flower was tiny (hence the "dwarf" title) and was missing one ear. She was white with a little pale gray stripe down her tiny back. She was the sweetest little thing and loved to play in her cage and on her wheel. My girls were kept awake many a night by Flower's exercise regimen. She loved to climb up the inside of the cage and squeak at anyone who would listen, including Timmy the Wonder Cat.

She and Timmy had a funny relationship. Timmy would sit beside her cage for hours on end just watching Flower. Flower would climb up on the cage and squeak and Timmy would sniff her and bat her back down into the cage. One morning, after hearing strange squeaky noises emanating from the girls' room, I turned on the light to discover Timmy chasing an escaped Flower around the bedroom floor, but not trying to claw her or actually catch her.

Maya and Penelope took Flower to daycare several times in a little hamster travel carrier. The other kids at daycare loved having her there. She was friendly and gentle and didn't scare easily.

Two weeks ago, our little Flower dug into and curled up under her bed of fluff and passed away in her sleep. When I noticed that she hadn't hidden her food and hadn't been heard running on her wheel for a couple days, I mentioned to Corbin that I thought she may have died. He checked on her and broke the news to me.

Corbin, the girls and I made Flower a little casket lined with her favorite... cotton balls. Corbin dug a small grave in the front flower bed and Penelope helped cover her casket with dirt. We used a nice, smooth, rather large rock to mark her grave, and Penelope and Maya told her "goodbye".

After the funeral, Penelope wrote the following:

You wer sach a grate hamster
I miss you so mach
Love, Penelope
I love you
By, Flower

So sweet!

I'm ashamed to say that this is the only photo I could find of Flower. One of my girls took it. She was so adorable, and the girls had her out of the cage so many times, I don't know why I didn't take pictures of her.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Scars and Forgiveness

"It has been said, "time heals all wounds". I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind (protecting its sanity), covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone." ~ Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

This is one of my favorite quotes. I have scars. There are a bunch from my bout with chicken pox when I was ten. There's the one on the back of my leg from a childhood accident involving a shoe rack. There are a few small surgical scars and various other small, insignificant ones. Time healed those wounds... healed them well enough that it doesn't even cause me pain to touch the scars that cover them.

I have other scars too. Ones that can't be seen. They tie my stomach in knots, make my head spin, leave me fighting to catch my breath as if I had the wind knocked out of me. These are the scars that cause me grief. They will never fully heal. I picture myself old and decrepit, hobbling around my house with the physical pains of age... and those pains being overpowered still by the emotional wounds of a young woman. This young woman, completely ignorant of the "red flags" all abusers wave, who walked... no RAN... headfirst into a relationship with a sociopath.

These awful wounds were not caused by this man. They weren't caused by any of the horrible things he said or did. I feel no shame about HIS actions. I have healed enough to understand that his actions speak NOTHING of me. They speak VOLUMES about him and the kind of person he is. The wounds he inflicted upon me cause me discomfort at times, but no real pain.

What does cause the gut-wrenching anguish are the choices I made... and the fact that my children, my BABIES, carry the scars of my choices. They had NO CHOICE. I let them down. I didn't protect them. I didn't fight for them. I allowed someone else to use manipulation and control to dictate my actions. I wish I could take it all back... I wish I could have gotten my head on straight and DONE something at the time. God, what was I thinking? How could I have fucked up so badly?!

It's been almost ten years... I'm still having such a difficult time forgiving myself. Why is it that I've managed to forgive HIM, forgive my mother for her part in the whole thing, forgive the lawyers and the social workers who were "just doing their jobs", and I still haven't been able to forgive ME?

Obviously, I don't think I deserve it. Forget about whether or not my children will forgive me. I don't deserve their forgiveness. I pray that their lives will be happy and full despite MY choices.

"Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past." ~Unknown

Another one of my favorite quotes. I suppose I should stop working on the time machine in my closet.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Quick Post ~ How Easily Amused am I?

Last weekend, my mom gave my little girls some new clothes. Threaded through the belt loops on Penelope's new jeans was a colorful piece of lightweight fabric. Attached to the fabric was this...


I looked at it and started laughing (the crazy laughter of the insane I'm quite sure)... "I am a Belt ~ I am a Scarf ~ I am a Headband". "NO! - You are a TAG!" :) Then, being the easily-amused person that I am, I proceeded to place the tag where a belt buckle would go on my pants... then place it on the front of my neck... and finally on top of my head... just to illustrate to the TAG that it was most certainly NOT a belt, scarf or headband! And while doing all this, I was thinking that I just HAD to save the TAG and scan it so that I could blog about just how easily amused I am.

Seriously, give me a paperclip and a rubberband and I'll keep myself occupied for hours!