Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Ranch

Meili Johnson
9th Grade
Period 4

"No trespassing!" the dented metal gate exclaims. As I lift the end of it I struggle to move it to the side of the dirt road. Our family car passes by the open gate. I scamper into the car and we lurch onto the rusty red railroad bridge over the creek. Finally, we've made it to the ranch.

The warm breeze runs its delicate fingers through my hair as I walk through the spacious green field to the mountain of caves. While sauntering up the sandy rocks, I duck under small trees, pass by cactus, and spot an alert lizard on a rock. I finally climb into the familiar dugout I call a cave. Indian drawings scatter the walls and corn grinds lie in the floor. I look down and see abundant trees, fields, a pond, a stream, and best of all, Grandpa's red cabin with the pine-colored roof. I wave to my mom and dad, my aunts and cousins, or anyone who might be on the deck in the back of the cabin. I linger for a while, then start back down.

When the sun is high, my cousin stands next to me on the ledge urging me to jump. I look down into the clear, ice-cold creek. Butterflies flutter all through my body and I get a rush of excitement. I count in my head. "One, two, three!" My feet fling off the sturdy ledge. I prepare my knees to bend slightly as I hit the stinging-cold creek. It's so cold that my breath escapes my lungs and I spring to the surface. My legs scramble onto the rocky land as I grope for a dry towel. As soon as I'm somewhat dry and warm, I start to the ledge for another jump.

Later in the day, I stand at the bottom of Lizard Mountain, what used to be a hydropower plant. I gaze up to the top. My heart is full of ambition as I place my foot into the first groove in the grey rock. Holding fast to the cable wire, I make my way to the top, stopping only once for a breath. I stand majestically on the top and search the land below. Even though it's a different view from the Indian cave, I still see Grandpa's cabin. It's just a miniature red doll house from up here.

The hot tub is an end-of-the-day event. "Ooh! Hot!" My feet and legs burn with a tingle as I set them into the scalding water. The three-hundred gallon horse trough connected to a water heater makes a great hot tub. Once all the way in, my body temperature rises. "Let's go!" exclaims cousin Drew. Out we go, plummeting in the dark through the prickly grass, over the log fence, through the grass again, and onto the board that crosses over the stream. "You first," he says. I force myself into the ice-cold water. I stand, sit, and lie down all at the same time. It doesn't count unless every part of my body gets dunked. I fly out of the stream, my heart pounding. My bones ache from the cold. After Drew's turn, we each do it again. Dad says it's good for the heart. Then we sprint back to the hot tub, repeating the cycle.

Exhausted, I lie, gazing at the stars in the night sky. I snuggle cozily in my thick sleeping bag, searching for shooting stars or satellites. My eyes droop and my head nods as I doze off, dreaming of the fun I'll have tomorrow, when I'll begin the day by waking to the glow of the morning light.

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Plain or Peanut?

Greetings, ice cream lovers!

Why did I just call you an ice cream lover? Well, you are, aren't you? Is there anyone in this world who does not love ice cream? I think not (except for Ross on Friends: "It's too cold!" Yes, I know that show much too well for my own good.) Anyway, since I love you so much, and I love ice cream so much, I have decided that one of you deserves some free ice creamy goodness. That's right. I have an assignment for you. You ready?

Post a comment here with your guess on Baby Bell's gender. Please include your name and email address. (If you'd rather not post your info where everyone can see it, you can email me at If the little punk cooperates, we should know on July 2nd whether I will bring 
M&Ms to work the next day. (Get it? With nuts, or without...) Those who guess correctly will go into a drawing for a $15 gift card to Cold Stone!

If you win, may I suggest chocolate ice cream with brownies and Reese's peanut butter cups?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sassy Lady

Tonight my siblings (minus Jake) and I took our Great-Grandma Bell out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. She's a firecracker, let me tell you! She is 29 1/2 (or 94?), and even though she can barely see anymore, she still has the best fashion sense out of anyone in the room. Here are just a few Grandma Bell-isms we enjoyed tonight:
  • When enduring our "25-40" minute wait in the hot sun, "Is this the only restaurant in town? Let's go to Burger King!"
  • "By golly!"
  • Regarding Michael, "When is he going to grow his hair out?" (He replied that he would if he could.)
  • Regarding the plentiful portion sizes, "This is why all the American girls are so dad gum fat!"
  • "For heck's sake!"
  • In reference to the noise level in the restaurant, she exclaimed that she would like to stand up and yell, "Everybody, shut your tater trap!"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday is a Special Day

I have a pattern of behavior for Saturdays. It is my day to take my time, get some things done around the house, and take a nap if I so desire. (Yes, I realize this will change in about 6 months. I'm getting in all the napping I can now...) But I realized today that I always do the same thing. I have a small checklist of items that must be done, and then a small checklist of items that, at the beginning of the day I claim I will accomplish, but that I usually end up pushing back, back, back until the day is over. It is a sickness - a disease.

Mandatory To-Do List
  • Clean master bathroom & shower
  • Clean guest bathroom
  • Dust
  • Work out
  • Water and sing to prize-winning tomatoes
  • Get ready for the day
Optional To-Do List
  • Practice hymns for church tomorrow
  • Practice guitar for lesson on Monday
  • Make 2 loaves banana bread with 4 almost-over-ripe bananas
  • Tidy junk room (I feel like Mary Poppins when I say "tidy.")
Every weekend, Tim makes a list. He's very proud and protective of this Saturday List; all the items are always checked off by the end of the day. Literally. With a pen. But the beauty of my flawed system is that I never write my checklist down. That way, if I don't accomplish something, no one has to know... not even me! Make banana bread with the quickly-browning bananas? That can wait until tomorrow. Organize the room that has turned into Mei's junk room, but which will soon become the baby's room? Nah, I still have 6 months for that.

So, I urge you. If you're going to make a Saturday To-Do list, make it in your head.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mes Freres

I have trois freres. That's three brothers to you lay people. And the beauty about these three brothers is that they are so different from each other. I have a tattooed Marine brother Michael, a recently-returned missionary brother David, and a red-bearded gay brother Jacob.

My favorite thing about Michael is his laugh. It is just so joyful and contagious that I want to be around him all the time. He is also known for his verbiage; I love being surprised by his unexpected language. He uses words like magnificent. And if you ever have a chance, ask to see his awesome angel tattoo. It's beautiful.

David is very much a people person. He is a magnet, and everyone loves him. He spoke in church last week, and he had so many friends show up that the bishop finally had to stand up and announce that the meeting was about to start so David would stop shaking hands and take a seat on the stand. He is inclusive and funny, and you'll never be bored when he's in the room. Plus, he has a Jim Carey-esque dancing style.

Jake is my fellow redhead. Except his hair is fantastically red, and mine is just reminiscent of the red that it used to be when I was a kid. Lately, he has been emphasizing his flaming hair by growing it on his face too. Jake dares to be different - to have a different opinion, and to share it freely. I always know that I can go to Jake with a question and get a straight answer. No need to sugar-coat things. But when he breaks into a smile, my heart melts. His eyes squint a little and his big ol' Johnson lips smile big. I love it.

Isn't diversity wonderful?

P.S. That's my little sis on the right. She doesn't belong in this post, as I'm talking about my male sibs. But I'd still like to say hello. Hi Sis!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Today I wore a skirt. A sassy, leopard print pencil skirt with black lace overlay. 

But the only thing that anyone noticed is my growing belly. The thing is, I am happy that my belly is growing. It's something to celebrate, and I'm not ashamed that I can no longer button anything. But when my coworker pointed at my tummy and said, "Oh! I can see your belly!" I became bashful and grabbed a notepad to hold strategically in front of my torso. What is the proper thing to say to a pregnant chick about her expanding waistline? I don't think it's necessary to ignore it. My condition is top of mind for me a lot of the time, and the beer belly is definitely a new look for me, so it's inevitable that people will stare once in a while. I mean, even I stare at other preggos, usually to discern how they are making clothes look semi-fashionable. So here is my question to you: what is the appropriate jargon for addressing the presence of a preggo belly?

Also, I find myself saying anything but the word pregnant. I just don't love the sound of it. Preggo works sometimes, as does preggers. And I've even been known to utter the words knocked up, in the presence of my mom and grandpa, who both looked a little offended. (I like to say things just to offend my mom, so that one was mostly for shock value.) When I say I'm expecting, I sound like my mom, which we all agree, is the very thing we girls try hardest to avoid. (No offense, Mom. Oh wait, didn't I just say that I like to offend my mom? I'm confused.) What's your favorite substitute for the word pregnant?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Something to Celebrate

Sunday was Father's Day. Last year, Dad was on my shit list and Tim wasn't a father yet (not even to a fetus), so there wasn't much celebrating on June 17, 2007. This year is different.

Dad is officially off the shit list!

He has cleaned up his act, and has an honest-to-blog job in place in the fall! He's going to be a 9th grade science teacher! Is that perfect for Mad Scientist Andy or what? I'm so happy for him, and his students. Before I even knew of this new position, I was enjoying the fruits of his labors. He has been substitute teaching at junior highs and high schools around Salt Lake for a few months, and he has been taking care of himself and his family. It's so great to have him in my life again. The real him. Not the drug-induced-coma him.

And now there is a new soon-to-be-father in my life. My man Tim! He received his first Father's Day gift this year. Golf balls. What else? Of course, I couldn't neglect to get the silly things because he had specially requested them. Twice. A man just can't live without his golf balls.
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