Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Leftovers: Home Leave

We spent the entire month of July on vacation. It felt wealthy. Phil's required to take home leave in order to "undergo reorientation and re-exposure" to the United States. I'm not making that up, that's actually in State Department regulations. 3 FAM 3431.1. I'm a lawyer.

When Phil finishes two years worth of continuous work overseas (or one year, if he's in a really crappy place), and is heading immediately to another international post, he has to pop back home for at least 20 days to make sure he stays American (my words). I'm not required to go with him, but I do it anyway, because it's convenient. 

You might laugh at the idea of an American having to reintegrate to American culture. I did, too, but I'm starting to understand it. Culture shock works all ways, even when the culture was yours to begin with. It was actually a pretty interesting experience to return stateside, so I'll save it for a time when I feel like writing better. Today, I no write real good, k?

Phil and I both got new phones at the start of our home leave. It embarrasses me to admit this, but I didn't realize I still had the protective film on my camera until the end of our trip (and yet, I kept wondering why all my photos were turning out a little hazy). See if you can figure out when I figured it out.

Annual rice krispie flags. Kate helped me this year. I just get better and better at these, don't I?

We started out at home in Utah for the Fourth of July. We participated in the neighborhood parade, with an awesome carousel wagon float that my sister designed. It would have worked beautifully, if one of the foam board horses hadn't done a bunk and flipped upside down in the first 10 yards. After the fourth, my sisters, mom, and I went to our extended family's property in Wyoming. You don't need to know where.

Bella in the window in Wyoming.

This cat, who my niece named "Cat," showed up on the property during our first evening. She stayed outside, lurking, until we came out, then harassed us until we gave her love and attention. She eventually won over every member of our party, though none of us could personally adopt her. My mom and sister took her to a local vet, who was unable to find a microchip, but agreed that she was a family cat, and had probably been dumped by said family. My aunt, a devoted reader of this humble publication, very kindly agreed to provide food and board. Cat's been roaming my aunt's neighborhood since then--happily, we assume, because there are way more people to harass where she is now.

The property.

On the road.

We came back from Wyoming, and attended the opening of my cousin's bakery. Our grandma used to host an annual grandgirls Christmas party, and baking was a big feature of it. We all loved baking with Grandma, but Jorden baked with her year-round. Shortly after Grandma died, Jorden purchased a food truck. She sold a lot of goods, but got tired of hauling herself around. She found a permanent location this year, and is absolutely crushing it at Poppies Bakery & Cafe. I'm so proud of her, and so angry that I can't eat here more often. It's good. It ought to be. Jorden has years of experience.

You can find Poppies in Salt Lake City at 1751 S 1100 E. You can check out her goods on instagram @poppiesbakeryslc. HERE's her website. She does custom orders.

At this point in our home leave, Phil and I split up to take on Arizona and California, respectively. He got to see the Grand Canyon, and I got to see my California relatives. I also made a triumphant return to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with my kid, my sister, my niece, and another cousin. We had a blast.

The jellies are the most photogenic. You can barely tell that there's a protective film on my camera lens.

These aren't jellies, but I decided to break it up a bit.

I sat in this room for a long time. It's like a lava lamp, but with fish.

There's a seal in this picture. The first person who tells me where it is gets a prize. I don't know what the prize is yet. TBD.

We stayed with our great aunt and uncle in their Bay Area home. I love it there, because of them. It's my third home.

I also like the street art. We all remember that I once wrote an "A" graded paper on street art and the law, right? Should I just publish that thing on here, so we can all crow over how smart I am about street art and law?

After Calizona, Phil and I went to Wyoming again, with Anne and Brandon. We took a guided whitewater tour of the Snake River. I can't show you that, because I wasn't willing to pay the $20 personal use fee for the pro photos they took. Anne and I had been down the Snake twice before on a family trip. This one went a little better, because the dude in back did 99% of the work, so the oars were more like props for us. It's so much more fun when you get to ride without the work. My river rat family members would probably oar-smack me if they read that. I didn't mean it, fam (I did mean it).

We took the 8am trip because it was the cheapest. It was also cold. We wore wetsuits. Phil looked like an assassin.

Brandon wore the short suit, and went into the water, twice, on purpose.

I might as well tell you now, since you're going to find out in a second anyway, but it was en route to this Wyoming trip that I discovered the plastic on my camera.

Much nicer, don't you think?

Anne and Brandon like to play board games. We don't do that in our household, and I'm not going to point fingers at the wet blanket, but it's not me, The Kid, or Bella. The only time we play is when we're with Anne and Brandon. They brought Betrayal at House on the Hill.

This is an intense, blurry action shot of the final ten minutes of the game, which came down to the two engineers debating the rules. They both eventually stood up. It was civil, calm, and rational. I like it when board games end with violence.

I'm tired of writing, so here are the rest of our photos, with short commentary in the captions.

Phil eating a skillet cookie. I can't remember how to spell the name of the dessert at this particular place, but it's pronounced fuhzookie. It is one cookie, one skillet, and a whole bunch of spoons. The original Hunger Games.

Anne and I took a few night walks with the dogs. This is Kate's dog, Charlie. There were some rogue fireworks, and he was a little tense. 

Phil's sister invited us to Albion basin to look at the wildflowers.

She knows most of the names of the plants, so she gave us a quick, guided tour. It was cool.

I went to Park City for lunch with my mom and sisters. It was rainy.

One of our last meals was at Bruges Waffles and Frites. Delicious.

This is the last of the leftover posts from our pre-Thailand days. I'll try to get you up to speed on Thailand soon. You should definitely view that "soon" in the context of my usual timeframe. It is not the common usage of the word.

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