Becca Wilhite Blog

January 7, 2015

Crazy-Amazing

Filed under: gratitude,happiness,history,school,Where do I live? — becca @ 5:41 am

Some days you want to forget, you hear me? And then there are days like yesterday.

I never want to forget yesterday.

Because Amazing, is why.

So I got called down to the principal’s office, which is usually a good thing, but somehow it still has the power to make me a little nervous. (Full disclosure – is was the Assistant Principal of Academics and Whatnot, who is thirty-seven percent more intimidating than the main principal.) As we sat down, he told me he had good news. I happen to love good news, and said so. He told me that a businessman in town approached the administration with the desire and ability to support academic achievement at our high school. He told me a bit about this local businessman, about his reasons for generosity, about his work, about where he’d like his support to go. That he’d like me to be point-guy for the process.

My grin was genuine. It was all Very Good News Indeed. Remembering that I live in a very small town, I asked, “Do I know him? What is his name?”

When he told me the businessman’s name I pretty much said, “STOP.” Because it’s the same name as a very dear friend from college. And not a particularly common name. We identified that it was, in fact, the same friend. (One of my first thoughts was, “Hey, wait. I thought this ‘local businessman’ would be a grownup,” and then I remembered that I’m 41.) I laughed, probably loudly, when I said that he and I had been great friends in college, that we’d met early in our first year and had been very close. That I’d introduced him to my sister and they’d dated during a crucial time of his growing-up life.

Then I started two-minding. People say you can’t do this, but you can. You can give one of your minds – the whole, entire main one – to the conversation at hand while outlining thoughts to think about later with your “behind-mind.”

My main mind was engaged in a gratitude-and-wonder conversation with the administration. With discussion of ideas, vision, and plans.

My behind mind was making lists. Places I’d gone with this friend. (He was with me the first time I met Idaho, which you know [if you’ve met Idaho] is something you’d like to remember forever.) Late night conversations. So much laughing. Brick Oven pizzas (mine with cheese, his without). Football games. Studying. Playing. Walking. Me, doubting that his name was really his name. Him, doubting that I really had a step-twin. So much talking. The night we spent in the hospital with our mutual friend who thankfully failed in his attempt to end his own life. Disasters large and small. Successes large and small. A dozen-dozen memories.

And now, after twenty years, he walked back into my world. Or I into his, or something. The worlds, they collided, is what I’m saying. And when, by chance, he showed up at school again in the afternoon, the principal brought him to my classroom. And I laughed and hugged him and was unsurprised that his startling blue eyes and sincere smile haven’t changed. I told him I was thrilled and excited to see him and to be able to work with him. I think I forgot to say what was huge in my heart – the Thank You part – but I’ll be sure to lead with that at our next meeting.

When you think of old friends, don’t you sometimes throw out a prayer that they’re well? That they’re good and happy and fine? One of those prayers was answered yesterday. And I’d like to remember it.

July 4, 2013

How to Get it to Rain

Filed under: irony,Where do I live? — becca @ 8:48 am

(A Drought-Year User’s Guide)

1. Stare at wilting plants and withering grasses for a month.

2. Gasp in shock, every day, when you somehow forget what 90+ degrees feels like in your yard.

3. Sleep with the AC on, even though you live in the high mountain desert, and everyone knows it gets very cold every night (except when it doesn’t) so you should always sleep with the windows open (except when you can’t, because SWEATY).

4. Plan a river float trip for the 4th of July, including talking your Totally Adult, University-Attending Daughter into joining you.

5. Wake up on said Independence Day holiday to sheets of gorgeous rain.

Any questions?

June 25, 2013

Pigeons

Filed under: Where do I live? — becca @ 12:11 pm

I live in a little town in a mountain valley. It’s very lovely here, I tell you. Mountains out every window. At this moment, everything’s green and perfect — trees and plants and lawns sort of glimmer, and the hills have managed to keep enough of the scant water they got this winter to be stunning. And we have birds. One thing I missed when we moved here, lo these dozen years ago, was the bird noise. We moved into a new house with no landscaping in a neighborhood full of the same. But in the last years, our little stick trees have grown up into lovely yards, and we now have birds to populate them. Not all the birds are friendly — in fact, I wrote demon magpies into my last novel for a reason. (*Shudder*)

But what I’m finding more and more of, here in rural paradise, is pigeons. I’m told that across the valley there are old-timers who have kept pigeons for decades, training them to carry messages during wars or something. Which I guess might be illegal in some places. But these pigeons that hang out in my neighborhood are plentiful. Copious. And new-ish. A few years ago, I remember seeing a pigeon and thinking, “Huh, would you look at that. City birds. Wonder what they’re doing here?” Similar to the way that I thought about seagulls when I first migrated to Utah: “Seriously? Seagulls in Target parking lots? Where do they think they are? No ocean for hours and hours.” But now, the pigeons are EVERYWHERE. Ubiquitous pigeons. (Excellent band name, if anyone’s looking — feel free.) And they appear to have a plan.

The Pigeon Hostile Takeover plan seems to revolve around some awesome scare tactics, namely ghosting. See, the dove-like, owlish quality of the coo-ing sounds very spooky when it floats through an open window. But even better than that, these little birds, possibly too dumb to move off the sidewalk for a kid on a trike, are clever enough to waddle across a roofline until they come to the air intake pipe, the laundry vent, or the chimney. Then they put their twitchy little heads inside and moan.

For real.

They wail this forlorn little song into the home openings, waiting, I imagine, for the family to freak out to the extent that they give up and drive away, leaving a door open as an invitation to roost inside and please, please not follow them out of the valley.

If I see one of these abandoned neighbor houses, covered in guano and feathers, glowing with an eerie green light, I just might move out, too.

August 1, 2011

Fun Things Happen Around Here

Filed under: Where do I live?,writing — becca @ 8:43 am

So, it’s August, kids.

I know.

How did that happen?

But hey. While time’s flying by, let’s take a minute to put a few things on the calendar, should we? (Oh, yes. Let’s.)

* August 8th, 10th and 12th (yes, that’s NEXT WEEK) I’m teaching a teen writer’s class at the Wasatch County Library in Heber City, Utah. It goes from 10:00 – 11:00 those 3 days, and guys — IT’S FREE. I know. I’m all about Community Service. Just ask my parole officer. [1]

We’re going to talk about some great writing tips. Great ones. So come, teens. You are all welcome. And wouldn’t it be excellent if we filled up a room? (Well, yes. Yes it would.)

* At some point near the end of the month (I know. Calendars. My nemesis. Nemeses?) the Community Ed class schedule will arrive in mailboxes throughout Wasatch County. I’ll be in there. Well, my NAME will be in there. Because I am teaching 2 classes. Fun ones. One will be an expanded Teen Writer’s class similar to the Library one (but longer… and, you know, not as free), and the other is about overcoming all the writing hurdles (like that long list of excuses we all have about why we haven’t written that book we’ve been meaning to write for EVER). If you don’t get a paper copy, call the UVU Wasatch Campus and ask for a catalog, because hey — WRITING CLASSES! As a personal favor, because I just Love You, here is the link to the actual registration page online. You’re welcome. Just CLICK THESE CAPITALIZED WORDS RIGHT HERE. Yes. You’re welcome. I’m all about making your life convenient. Classes start September 13th and run through October 18th on Tuesday evenings. Come. Bring a snack [2]. Let’s talk about writing books. Don’t live in the Heber Valley? Too bad. Just kidding — it’s not even guaranteed snow season yet. So brave the canyon and come join us. (Looks like each class is $54. BARGAIN!)

[1] THAT IS A JOKE. I do not have any sort of parole officer. I don’t even know anyone who is a parole officer. I have done nothing to deserve a parole officer. Or Community Service hours. I’m just a nice girl. Really, truly.

[2] I don’t actually know if you’re allowed to bring a snack. But I think probably you can. Because you’re so responsible. Like the kind of person who picks up wrappers and puts them in appropriate receptacles. Aren’t you?

May 19, 2011

She’s Positively Hilarious

Filed under: irony,school,spring is coming,Where do I live? — becca @ 7:48 am

Ha.

Ha ha.

Ha ha ha.

Mother Nature is absolutely having a joke with me.

It is snowing. Right now. Big, fat, wet flakes that are covering my tulips like white stocking caps. Isn’t that hysterical?

Snow is sticking to the grass. And the sidewalk. And the road. And the roofs.

And my soul.

(Just a little drama, so you didn’t forget who you were dealing with here.)

It IS May 19th, right?

I haven’t turned a few extra calendar pages by mistake, right?

Remember the groundhog? The one in Pennsylvania? The one who predicted an early spring? Remember him?

You’ll never see him again. I’ve taken care of that.*

I’m off to enjoy the snowy day with a class full of clever and delightful fourth-graders. Which, if you can manage it, is the best way to work through Mother Nature’s particular brand of silliness.

*Dear ASPCA: That was a joke. I don’t even KNOW anyone who would take a hit job like that. Phil is fine. Really. Thank you.

May 17, 2011

Wherein I Stare Vacantly at the Monitor

Filed under: dumb things I do,food,Where do I live?,word count — becca @ 10:07 am

I’m watching for it, that brilliant post. I’m waiting for it to arrive. I stare, purposefully if you wish, at the monitor. Here’s what I see. No brilliant blog post on the horizon. Rather, my head’s reflection, and the blowy trees in the back yard. This is the kind of mirror I can really mesh with, as it only shows the cuteness of today’s flip hair and the leafing trees out behind the patio.

I love it when the leaves come.

And they’re coming. Finally.

Also, there is a snowflake logo on my phone’s weather forecast. Twice. For today and for Thursday.

Update: I have just thrown away my phone.

(Don’t worry, Husband. That was a lie. Remember, everyone, that I lie? Well, I do.)

I’ve had ideas for posts. Isn’t that nice? And I haven’t written any of the ideas down. Hence, no posts.

I learned something, yesterday, though. Shall I share? I’m a much happier substitute teacher (specifically for the first grade) when I lower my classroom expectations just a smidge. When I don’t demand that everyone is actually LEARNING something at all times, everyone is a whole lot more glad. When I don’t expect all the kids to actually LISTEN to me, all is well. Shall I apply that to my life? No. I think not.

I love the produce man at my grocery store. (Don’t worry. Not that kind of love.) Here’s what happened. I scooted over to the store on Saturday because I had a couple of hours. And so, naturally, I should make jam. Strawberries were on sale for $1.50 a pound or something, so I grabbed up a lot of pounds. And Mr. Produce Man saw me. And stopped me from buying the pretty berries. And handed me 5 flats of slightly less pretty berries, for which he charged me something like $20. Like $.63 per pound. And told me I’d have to throw away a few. Which I did. Maybe one pound worth. I made 14 batches of freezer jam (the less sugar kind, because that’s how I roll) plus had enough halved berries to fill 2 gallon sized freezer bags, for smoothies. All for $20. (And some slave labor by Kid 3, who hulled berries like nobody’s business. I could not have done that little project without her. What a Kid.)

When I scooted over to the store to buy bananas and spinach and watermelon this morning, he waved me over and asked how the berries turned out. He was glad I’d had some big success, even if he maybe-possibly wished I’d had to throw away a few more pounds. The berries weren’t as bad as he’d thought, apparently.

WORD COUNT UPDATE:

I am more than half way to my word count goal for the current Work. (I like to call it Work. That makes it sound so terribly important. And prosperous, or something.) Strange things are happening on the pages (and off) in this story, and it’s fun to see it sort of moving along on its own steam, even when I ignore it for a couple of days so I can sub Kid 4’s class.

Which reminds me, I really should be writing at that story right now.

Instead of staring at my hair’s silhouette in the monitor.

April 23, 2011

Skunked

Filed under: animals,anxiety,spring is coming,Where do I live? — becca @ 11:21 am

Okay. Remember that Springtime I’ve been waiting for? It is coming. Coldly, but coming. And it’s bringing with it an unexpected bonus.

That’s right, friends. I have a skunk. It’s decided that it wants to live here. At my home. Behind/beneath my little shed, to be exact. I have a tenant, except it doesn’t pay rent. I guess that means I have a squatter.

I’m a little afraid of my squatter.

Or of ever, ever retrieving my lawnmower. Ever again.

Here’s how it happened. So I was chatting with my cute family in the pre-soccer-game morning, and I looked out the glass door and saw a really fat cat. Or not. I said, “Hey, guys. Look at that. Please don’t bang on the glass, because there’s a skunk traveling through our backyard.” (See what an optimist I am?) I told them this was pretty cool, because all my scientific research points to skunks being nocturnal. (All that research based on me thinking I’ve probably never hit one crossing the road during the day.) We watched it scratch at some dead grassy weeds that grew up a lilac bush, and I said, hey, isn’t that nice, since I’m so bad at weeding that patch. Then we watched it sort of curl the dry weeds under its chin parts and scoot backwards along the line of lilacs. About this point, knowledge started to dawn. The kind of knowledge that says, “if that thing doesn’t reemerge on the other side of your shed, you’ve got some issues on your hands.”

It didn’t reemerge on the other side of the shed. In fact, it twiddled its thumbs for a few seconds and then came back from the same side of the shed, did its little scratch-and-drag dance again, and scooted back to the shed.

NOTE: I’m watching this all from the kitchen and mudroom windows, because it would take some kind of serious to get me outside at this point.

I called animal control. Want to know how that turned out? I got a recording. For the Police Station. Saying, “If you’ve called us during our regular office hours, seven a.m. through seven p.m. Monday through Thursday, we’re either helping someone else or on our lunch break.” 7 to 7? At the police station? Monday through Thursday?

Um, okay. Do you know what I’m dealing with here?

So we just watched some more.

As it rolled its little snuggly bed parts under my shed. And called the moving van over and unloaded its furniture.

And then that other kind of knowledge started to dawn. The kind of knowledge that says, “if it’s spring and that guy is moving in, chances are it’s not a guy at all. Pretty soon you’re going to have a whole skunky family on your hands.”

Oh, goody. I’ve got a pregnant squatter with a loaded gun sleeping under my shed. Kid 4 has named her “El Mustachio Grande.” Because, why not? Welcome, Spring. I’ve been skunked.

(All images from Google. Because if you think I’m going out there and aiming any kind of electronics at that thing, you don’t know me at ALL.)

March 28, 2011

Tap, tap… is this thing still on?

Filed under: anxiety,familyness,happiness,school,visiting,Where do I live? — becca @ 4:33 pm

Oh, there you are.

Oh, here I am.

It has been a crazy, busy few days, and that is all the excuse I have for leaving blogland in the dust. I taught biotechnology and chemistry on Thursday. It was grand. Fun. I mean it. And then the Wilhites gathered around the computer to watch basketball. And we didn’t actually cry, but we had sadness when the Gators* whupped up on our Jimmer.

And Friday? Oh, Friday. It was Writers’ Fest at Clark N. Johnsen Junior High school. Their amazing committee (Hi, Mrs. Blythe!) put on a Great Show. Loads of authors (and at least one illustrator) came to talk and talk and talk about the craft, the joy, the pain, the love, the headaches and the chocolate. Okay, I didn’t talk about chocolate, but I brought plenty home. I was assigned two adorable minions (Hi, Amy! Hi, Katie!) who made sure I was where I was supposed to be and that I never dried up my bottled water or my sense of humor. For some of the classes we talked about cupcakes, and how cupcakes are good, but if you eat nothing but cupcakes you will have issues. Likewise, if you only read one kind of writing, you might get some issues as well. So… balance in diet and in literacy = good. In some classes we talked about money, and getting blocked, and people who have very good hair, and favorite junk foods, and hey, it’s okay if you hate to read, just make sure you do it anyway.

And Saturday we painted in the bedroom at my MIL’s house. I am sadly incapable of painting without wearing the paint. I do a fine job actually painting, but I’m not one of those people who can paint for a few hours and nobody knows about it. Oh, you’ll know about it when I’ve been at it. I had honeywood paint freckles upon my face and in my contacts. I am not making this up.

And Saturday was the Festival of Color, the closest Utah gets to India. I didn’t go. But the photos are glorious, and I want to throw paint. Note to self: Get there next year.

Also, Saturday evening, Kids 1 and 2 and I rediscovered that our Sympathetic Vomiter chromosome is alive and kicking. I’m happy to report that none of us actually vomited, but, oh, we wanted to. I’ll spare you the details. You’re welcome.

Tonight Kid 1 leaves for New York City. I’m giddy with excitement for her. And I’m having very few nerves. (That’s her Daddy’s job this time.) She will see many shows and, if all goes according to plan, keep all her friends. *crossing fingers* And her chaperone has asked me to sub, so I get to spend the week teaching AP English and theatre. Don’t cry for me, Argentina**. I think I’ll do just fine.

Also someone (who is not us) is using my credit card. If it is you, I’m asking you nicely to knock it off. Right now. And the nice customer service lady from India said it would stop. So I hope. (She was very proper, but kind of patronizing, and I had to keep reminding myself that it’s the middle of the night where she’s working, or she’d be more patient with me. That’s the downside of outsourcing, I guess.)

*That word always reminds me of that funny scene in Monsters, Inc. when Randall gets pushed through a door at the end. ” ‘Nother gator, Mama.” ” ‘Nother gator? Gimme that shovel.”

** Did you ever see the movie Kronk’s New Groove? Probably not. It’s the sequel to The Emperor’s New Groove, and isn’t very much what I would call entertaining. But it has one funny line, where Kronk’s two secretaries, Tina and Marge, get a little weepy, and he says, “Don’t cry for me, Marge and Tina.” Ha. There. Now you don’t have to see it.

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