Picking Blueberries

Although the farm where we pick blueberries is only a few miles away, it feels like a world away. Even the drive is relaxing. Just off HWY 18 near Auburn, the two lane road weaves through old farm homes and fields bursting with various fruits and vegetables. lucapicking

We approach Canter Berry Farms and park in front of a large barn that was built in 1874. The grounds are dotted with all types of flowers. Reba the St. Bernard greets the kids before one of the helpful owners hands us picking buckets and leads us back to the area where we’ll be picking.

The surroundings are peaceful. The only sounds are my kids shoving blueberries into their mouths as fast as they can pluck them. That’s one of the benefits of picking at Canter Berry: you’re free to eat while you pick. Which is good because if they weighed Lincoln before and after the picking I’m sure we’d be on the hook for another twenty bucks.

Kim, Luca and I picked for about 90 minutes. Lincoln and Anna ate what they picked, but we still ended up with just over 18 lbs of blueberries.

Total cost: $36

That’s Luca above filling her bucket with berries. She’ll follow Kim or me around knowing she can reach the lower branches easier than we can.

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Anna Lynn with empty bucket but full stomach

Kim has been taking the kids for the past three years. Today was the first time I’ve gone with them, and I am kicking myself for not tagging along sooner.

The wind was light but the air was cool for an August afternoon. We saw people from all walks of life in the fields picking berries. What a wonderful activity for the family.

I helped Kim wash off the blueberries tonight. Well, she washed and kept her company by sharing blueberry facts I’d gathered on the internet such as, “Did you know there’s a variety of blueberry with a spicy flavor?”

She didn’t know that.

We’ll freeze a number of bags worth because they made such a good snack frozen. Maybe Kim will make jam from the rest.

If we can keep the kids from sneaking handfuls when we’re not looking.

Take The Way Home

No matter the weather forecast, the top to my Miata was staying down. That’s what I told myself as I started the 175 mile trip from Ogden to Rock Springs. I kept the radio off until I got through the twisty section of Highway 84 that winds up through Weber Canyon.

The steep canyons amplified the exhaust note. Rock on one side and the Weber River on the other. Taking corners just hard enough to squeal the tires. In any other car, I’d be alternating my attention between the digital clock and speedometer. But in a convertible my mind and reflexes were focused on the journey. Who cares how long the trip would take.

Take the way home that leads back to Sullivan Street
Past the shadows that fall down wherever we meet
Pretty soon now I won’t come around

Eventually the twisties gave way to straight expanses of highway with little more than a farmhouse or herd of cows to catch my attention. Back then the radio waves were dominated by the OJ trial.

Weeks earlier I caught the tail end of a video on MTV from the Counting Crows. I’d never heard of them before but liked their sound enough to pickup “August and Everything After”. I’d pop them into my cassette player just about the time I’d pass over the Utah border into Wyoming. It was the soundtrack to my journey.

If she remembers, she hides it whenever we meet
Either way now, I don’t really care
Cause I’m gone from there

I’d recently graduated from college, landed my first job and began to wonder if this is all post-college life had to offer. The melancholy mood of “August” matched my personal life at the time. I was “just another rider burned to the ground”. It was as if these songs were written for me.

As I learned the lyrics they began to sting a bit. Yet I couldn’t stop listening.

My career was just starting and I didn’t have a lot of responsibilities or people relying on me. I was naive and stupid. The highlight of my week was watching Letterman crank call the mattress shop. The world revolved around me and who was going to tell me otherwise?

It’s impossible to listen to Sullivan Street without imaging that cool canyon breeze rushing through my hair along with the angst and uncertainly that accompanied me on these trips.

I’m almost drowning in her seas
She’s nearly crawling on her knees
She’s down on her knees

I had no idea what lay ahead of me. I’m glad I couldn’t see into the future or it would have tarnished this magnificent time of reflection.

[audio:sullivanstreet.mp3]

He Won’t Notice

I considered skipping it.

When I’ve visited Lincoln’s kindergarten class in the past, I didn’t feel like it mattered if I was around or not.

He can be aloof at times.

Or he can become so focused on his art project or game that he doesn’t realize I’m there for him.

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He won’t notice if I skipped this morning’s kindergarten activity would he? I know it’s for students and their fathers. I can always tell him I had to work.

Those were my thoughts as I searched for a parking spot outside the school. I couldn’t locate a spot and nearly jumped back on the road and headed into work.

But I decided to ignore the “Faculty Only” sign and eventually ran onto the grass where the children and fathers had gathered. Surely he won’t notice I’m fifteen minutes late.

I scanned the schoolyard looking for my son. So many children running around like ants without a purpose. Parents herding kids from one area to another. The parachute and face painting areas were packed. Maybe he’s mixed in among one of them.

I wonder what he wore to school. Mom would have known and found him by now.

He’s probably found his best friend. I’m sure he’s having a great time without me. Why would he care if his dad showed up? I’m not very good with the sidewalk chalk and I’m too old to be much of a threat in the crab walk races. 

And then I noticed a boy with wiry blond hair and silver glasses that slide down his nose. He was near the tug-o-war, away from the other kids. His hands were in his pockets and his head was down.

I walked towards him.

“Lincoln?”

He turned towards me. I notice a couple of tears making their way down his cheek after sliding under his glasses.

“DAD!! Hey, where have you been?”

“I’m sorry”

We spent the next hour going around to each of the activities. We shot baskets. We tossed water balloons. He didn’t let me out of his sight. He even kicked my butt at the crab walk.

Today he noticed.

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Laughter

It doesn’t take much. The smallest action. A certain word. Even a glance at the right time sets off a string of laughter. It usually starts with Anna Lynn. But it doesn’t take long before it spreads to Luca and Lincoln.

Within seconds all of them are laughing uncontrollably.

annalaughter

Luca laughs till tears roll down her cheeks. Anna Lynn’s laugh is loud and startling. And Lincoln laughs so hard he can barely breath.

Tonight I enlisted their help to wash our van. I asked Luca to wash the windows. Lincoln was supposed to wash the grill while Anna Lynn scrubbed the tires.

That’s how I planned it. But I should know better. Attempting to plan an activity that includes a bucket of water, a hose and a giant pink sponge results in sensory overload.

Things went as planned for at least 10 seconds.

Although the van wasn’t getting any cleaner, the kids were. Wet rags and went flying. Someone got squirted. And somehow I got smacked in the head with a sopping wet pink sponge.

And that’s when the laugher started. I wasn’t sure what to think as I cleared soap bubbles from my ears and attempted to regain my composure. Should I be upset? Should I send them to their rooms? Which kid possessed the accurate aim?

What would you do?

I decided to do what any reasonable father would do.

I took the sponge and dunked it in the bucket of water before chasing them around the yard.

Our van is a lot cleaner tonight.

And our family is a little closer.

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Apple iPhone = The Gateway Drug

Over at Marketwatch, John Dvorak wrote a column titled, “Microsoft’s Business Model Is Done”. The primary reason he gives for this is the cost of computer parts has decreased to the point where Microsoft Windows and Office have become prohibitively expensive.  And given the trend towards smaller, sub $400 netbooks fueled by the economic downturn, Dvorak believes many past Microsoft customers will be searching for low cost alternatives such as Linux along with one of many free Office alternatives such as Google Docs.

I tend to agree with a lot of what Dvorak says. It doesn’t make sense to spend $300 on a netbook then turn around and shell out $350 for Microsoft Office. But that’s just one of the problems Microsoft is currently facing. Dvorak touches on what I think is the larger issue and that is simplicity and near instant boot times of these inexpensive devices. The iPhone possesses both features.

iphoneI’ve had an iPhone for just over two weeks now and it’s changed how I access the internet and get work done. I use it to access and respond to most email. I do most of my RSS reading from it along with viewing my calendar and task list. In short, I’m spending a lot less time using Microsoft products to access the internet and get work done. Most of my time is now spent using Apple and Google products. Apple has raised the bar in what I expect from an ultra-portable computer, because that’s what the iPhone is: decent phone, fantastic little computer.

While I try to keep as few programs on my Windows PC (due to Windows rot) I love the tiny apps available for my iPhone. It takes a fair amount of patience to deal with the idiosyncrasies Windows tosses my way on a weekly basis. Sometimes it boots just fine. Other times it crashes or runs at a snails pace. The more programs I install it on, the slower it runs.

Yet the iPhone is a joy to use. It feels like it was created to suit how I work. It feels so very polished. Like someone spent the extra time to make sure the last 5% of the product was done right. Microsoft is creating products based on how I worked 10 years ago. The idea of spending 30 minutes to install Office and countless hours updating and patching it over time is an archaic model that must come to an end. And the registration and activation process for Windows is an absolute mess. Sometimes I feel like Microsoft is creating products for the IT Managers instead of consumers who shouldn’t have to learn how “Windows Genuine Advantage” works.

Having said that, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen in Windows 7. I just wish it were a free upgrade to all those who bought into the lost promises of Vista.

I’m not saying the iPhone will replace the PC. The PC is still the best device for writing more than a few paragraphs, and it provides the horsepower for processor and memory intensive applications. But the iPhone just might be my gateway drug to more Apple products in the same manner the iPod lead me to getting an iPhone.

And that should worry Microsoft. I stopped using Office in 2008 and I left Windows Mobile behind two weeks ago.

Could Windows be next?

The Perfect Day

Woke up late.

Had cinnamon sugar French toast at Sun Break Cafe.

Took kids to mall. Didn’t lose a single one.

Played “Ramblin Man” on Guitar Hero.

Sat on front steps listening to the rain hit the roof.

Chatted with my dad as we watched Utah wax Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

Listened to “River Man” from Till Bronner.

[audio:https://blog.nordquist.org/audio/riverman.mp3%5D