Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Michaelson Reunion 2008

Arriving is the moment you've all been waiting for: my in-depth coverage of the Michaelson Family Reunion in Star Valley, Wyoming! Following is many pictures, fun stories and all manner of great fantastic-y goodness! The reunion is ALWAYS held on the last weekend in July, and always the Ranch plays an central part of not only the festivities but also the feeling of the reunion. It is the starting point for us all. The place where our grandparents were born and raised, learning the lessons that shaped their lives and by extension, our lives. It is the ground in which our family tree took root, the land we all come back to. It is my first home. The Reunion officially began with the Hamburger Fry at the Ranch. Gathered below are my cousins and my uncle, discussing children while they await the sweet meaty yummies that Uncle Sid invariably creates on the famous griddle!
And Grumpy . . . uh, I mean . . . Tom waits patiently in line for his chance at the vittles.

The photo below is entitled "Lord of the Flies." G had quite taken control of his younger cousins with the great show of strength which was climbing into the back of the truck with the only soccer ball. He continued to lord his status over the other kids for nearly an hour, until my son, Captain Bairdo, was able to scramble up into the truck bed as well. Then it was more of a rule of judges rather than a dictatorship.
Rivulet tried to be the leader in her own little sphere as well. Here is Alex and Abbie in rapt attention.
But Abbie rejected the rule of Rivulet Rex when ordered to eat the plastic ice cream cone.
My princess was then able to make time enough to pose for a picture with her mommy.
(notice the broken ice cream cone in her hands!)

Captain Bairdo, after abandoning the truck for a hot dog and thence finishing said meal, retired to the sitting room to play with his cousin Olivia. Do you know where the marble is?
As my children were behaving themselves (like wild animals with their wild animal cousins) I was able to catch up with a few other relatives. Like my Beloved Grandma and Norda Beth.

Like my cousin Stacy, and her son Issac.

Like Tim. Yikes. I guess the fun is over!
After the dinner, I went back to the hotel and waited for my other cousins and sister to arrive. They did and after a good deal of hugging, we all went to sleep.
The next day was the REUNION Proper.
A Luau, to be exact.
Complete with grass skirts, laies and hula hoop competitions. Beginning with the children:

Rivulet soon discovered that she would have to fight to defend her title - and her hula hoop - from young encroachers.

I simply basked in my own beauty. Thanks to my cousin for the dress!
My cousin Debbie had spent a good many hours laboring on a quilt. The centerpiece of the quilt was this picture of my Grandmother's family. My grandma is the young girl smack dab in the center.

This is a larger view of the quilt, along with an enthusiastic "thumbs up" from my cousin,
Arizona Anna.
This girl is a hoot!
And here is my Grandma, all decked out in purple with a very realistic purple laie.
Love my Grammy!
Rivulet was tuckered out even before we ate. So she took a good long nap on the grass in the shade. Lucky duck.

My dad, who was taking pictures of the above mentioned cuteness, then showed me how he felt about having his picture taken. HA!

My sister, luckily, was not quite so adverse. Beautiful isn't she? For blogging purposes, she will be known here as she is known to her best friends:
The Japanese Jellyfish, who shall hereafter simply be known as PillBug, was able to make it down from Jackson Hole. Here he is, extensions and all, with our sister.

The Reunion was wonderful! The children played games and fought over plastic ice cream cones. The Lunch was delicious! And the Limbo contest sounded like a big hit!
Afterwards, we all headed back to our beds for a long summer nap. Captain Bairdo's head hit the pillow and kept bouncing up. I told him he could have a cookie if he would lay down with his eyes shut for just ten minutes. Three minutes of this and he was out for three hours!
During this time, Rivulet was unable to sleep, having napped earlier on the grass. I distracted her with T.V. and went outside to visit with my cousins.
We sat on our porches in plastic chairs and talked with the melodic freedom that one is grows accustomed to at a reunion. We see each other but once a year, twice if there is a death or marriage in the family, and yet the ties are strong and communication is open.
When StinkBug and Bairdo awoke, PillBug went back to Jackson for his show and the rest of us headed to the Red Baron for dinner and ice cream. Arizona Anna showed up with her husband and children. The next twenty minutes consisted of eating and laughing so hard the walls shook. Our other cousins, across the barrier could only wonder at what was so darn funny. Oh, the Uncle Vern stories and Grandma stories we could have told them!

Dinner finished, we made way to the Ranch again for CATAN and fireworks. We got Catan set up, and while waiting for the other players to show up, I went about taking pictures and carrying a few chairs over to the western side of the house.

Here is the Barn.

And here is what I got for my trouble. Remember last year? Apparently I can't go to this reunion without getting blood on my sandals!

Sunset over Sid's van. The van marks where the fireworks will go off as soon as the sun is deeply asleep!
It was a beautiful show. Muad'Dib arrived just in time to see it, too! What a trouper. He had worked at 3 am, gotten off work around 3pm, saw Dark Knight and still made it to Afton by 9:30! *Sigh in affection*

The next morning was the traditional Pancake breakfast. Sid again is manning the grill/griddle.
Every year I am pleased to learn something a little more about how he makes such a splendid and scrumptious meal!
Tiggermama and her daughter pose for a pic!

And Muad'Dib enjoys the family fare!
We ate our food and finished the game of Catan. I was so nearly winning, but Muad'Dib was playing the devils (StinkBug's) Advocate, and pitting every other player against me! And quite unintentionally, Tiggermama won! It was a close game. And StinkBug was just happy because she finally discovered land AND was able to build on gold!

In the tradition, we then hiked up to the Intermittent Spring. And the way it all turned out, it was just me, Muad'Dib, Bairdo and Rivulet.

In fact, here are Bairdo and Rivulet!
Muad'Dib, not suprisingly, was the only one of us who made it to the very top. The water wasn't intermitting (if that's even a word) which made taking a two year old up the cliff a little precarious. And Bairdo simply didn't feel up to the climb.
We waited for Muad'Dib down by the sign, and were eaten alive by both mosquitoes and horseflies. But only on the ankles. PillBug knows what I mean.
When Muad'Dib came down, I was given the camera and he was given the children.
He seemed to have a difficult time keeping Rivulet from joining her namesake!

PillBug and StinkBug came up the trail to join us just as we were heading back. I had a picture of them here, and it got erased. So imagine it. bah.

As you can see here, Rivulet was ready to get back to the car and head home. Three days jam-packed with cousins, and playing and snacking and being outdoors makes a girl hungry for chocolate milk and Dora. As least, that's what it makes MY little girl hungry for. Rest. Rest was really what we all wanted.

The Reunion this year lacked only one thing: spending more time at the Ranch with my Grandma, Aunt and Uncles. A hotel is great, don't get me wrong. It still is no match for playing dominoes into the wee hours, talking about where the old chimney used to be or hearing about Great Great Grandpa Jacob and his families.
So now that everyone has enjoyed my narrative, I would ask you: do you know where you come from? If not then HURRY, take the time to find out! My generation of Michealsons barely bare the name, and most of us are beginning to feel the urgency, the great rush of desire to KNOW where we come from. Who came before us and how they got there. To set foot where they have, to touch the same wagons they touched, we all yearn for this fulfillment in heart and mind. And to have family. I'm sure it's clear that I deeply treasure my family connections. And I should hope we all would, however we can, and NOW!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sleeping Beauty

A few years ago, a friend of mine made an interesting parallel.

While discussing her past two marriages, she said, "Well, Snow White is my favorite fairy tale." When I further inquired what that had to do with anything at all, she relayed a theory to me: That women live their favorite fairy tale, complete with picking men like the prince in said fairy tale.

She, for example had chosen two men that she barely knew, who required a good deal of housecleaning before they would be kind to her. And she would watch all her nieces and nephews and so forth, without ever thinking of asking for payment. She felt she was living her fairy tale well.

It was easy for me to answer when she asked me what my favorite was.

My emotionally favorite Disney movie, and in fact favorite Fairy Tale, is The Sleeping Beauty. This love has gone so far as to almost name my daughter Aurora Nylie, rather than the name she currently possesses. (Yay for a rational husband!)

I have always desired long hair, to be like Aurora. I have always wanted to have a beautiful voice, to be like Aurora. I have always loved singing out doors above all other displays of my talent, to be like Aurora. I have a tendency to collect baskets; just in case some berries need picking.

And I usually put myself to sleep with the image of myself as a sleeping beauty in a tall tower overlooking the ocean

Of the women I have spoken to about this theory, not a single one of them sided with me. They want to be like Belle and tame the Beast. Or to be like Jasmine and break free of their really spoiled surroundings. They feel put upon and like Cinderella desire to be saved merely by riches. Some want to save their men, like the Disney Pocahontas, or Mulan. Others feel themselves unworthy of love, and will thereby sacrifice themselves to show it, like Meg. And still others love the idea of leaving their families for a prince, and giving up who they are to be accepted. You can see why I don't have a high opinion of the other princesses. I find fault with not necessarily their choice in men, but most often with their choices of how to obtain their men.

I wanted to be chosen! For my beauty, for my talents, for the feeling of strength and peace I could offer a man.

I loved the idea of a man being chosen by my Father, who would, on his own, also chose me, and I him. We would dance. We would sing together, we would enjoy the outdoors and he would overcome all manner of obstacles simply to secure me forever! He would be my hero.

Of course, I have heard the argument that Sleeping Beauty has very little personality. BUT let's consider that the movie, and in fact the fairy tale, focus on her opposition rather than on her. It was assumed from day one that she could not handle the truth of her life or the curse that hung over it. If someone had just said, "Hey, be sure you don't touch any spindles, or you'll die." I have a feeling she'd have stayed away from that glowing green spindle! And, she was smart enough to fall in love with Phillip, who was an awesome guy. So she can't have been all that dumb.

So, say what you will about my Sleeping Beauty like tendencies, but it cannot be denied that at the end of the day I am super smart if for no other reason than that I chose Muad'Dib. And I can't be all bad, because even aware of my 'curses,' dragons' 'enemies' and odd perceptions: that manly prince of a man also chose ME!

So, what's your favorite fairy tale?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A certain kind of magnet

It has come to my attention - not for the first time - that I seem to attract people with SUPER bad customer service skills. I kid you not!

The most recent example of this odd and disagreeable sort of magnetism was yesterday, when a person in a customer service position accuse me of the following:


Being disloyal to my father/employer.

Being a time waster

Intimidating her staff

Lying again.

Misrepresentation of my needs.

and being a coward.

What the heck!

It's not often that I am at a loss for words, particularly when confronted. And here was a case where I was so caught off guard by ludicrous behavior that I was simply silent on the other end of the line.

And this is not, I repeat NOT the first time I have had a downright MEAN customer service person attend me and call me names with full on accusatory tones.

They also attack me with sarcasm, condescension in tone and remark, snippyness and stupidity.

This same person then sent me an email about three hours later to simply say, "I apologize for my miscommunication. Would you consider our offices working together in the future?"

My reply was kind, humorous and concise. It was also in the negative.

So I ask this question of the universe and my intelligent readers, as Muad'Dib did of me in the car: Why do I attract these situations? What is there to learn? I myself have been trained from before I entered the work force to have fantastic and pleasant, bend-over-backward customer service skills. So what gives?

To illustrate my point: I have been making phone calls to an executive in every state in our beloved union, hoping to confirm contact information for the state leadership of a particular association. This task was part of my job, hoping to bring supporters to a campaign in which my boss is involved.
Having finished these calls last week, the leader of the Utah branch was surprised to receive a call from the leader of the South Carolina branch of this association of which they are both members. This leader of South Carolina is also a big wig in the industry, as well as the national association.
And this leader of South Carolina had called the leader of Utah to say:
"I had the most pleasant call from a lady out your way last week. I understand (insert campaign name here) was looking for contact information. Whoever you had doing these calls was wonderful. She was upbeat and capable. I have rarely had such a pleasant phone conversation." and the like.

So why? WHY in the name of all that's eight legged and crawly am I tortured so?!

P.S. Just to clarify, it's not the people I try to serve that are big meanies, it's the people I pay to SERVE ME!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Captain Bairdo!

Meet Captain Bairdo.
I met him when he barged into my office, interrupting my work with a very formal, " 'Scuse me, ma'am."
"Yes sir?"
"No, my name is Captain Bairdo."
"Oh?" I replied, suprised. "And just who is Captain Bairdo?"
With a very serious face, he begins to explain: "I'm very tough. Very muscle-y. I can turn my eyes on so I can see what's in the dark. And I make everything frozen with my sword. And when I scream it makes my protect sheild. Then I can fight fast and not lose my sheild.
And I can blow fire."
He then turns away, suddenly spinning back to face me with sword drawn, teeth bared and sheild arm ready, exclaiming: "Captain Bairdo is tougher than anyone!"

"I see that!" I say, quite in awe of the little man.

Captain Bairdo marches off in short order, only to return a moment later to clarify one point: "I'm Captain Bairdo only when I put on this hat and my suit with my sword and my sheild. Because I don't have a mask."

After a formal salute this heroic figure of a man swiftly goes back to his room, because - apparently - his puppies need saving.