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O Pioneer Day!

Handcart Pioneers by C.C.A. Christensen
Handcart Pioneers by C.C.A. Christensen

Today is Pioneer Day, the day we celebrate the arrival of the first Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley.

Last night, children throughout the state lay in their beds, desperately trying to stay awake in hopes of catching a glimpse of Brigham Young flying through the dusky desert skies in his covered wagon, bearing pioneer gifts for all the good boys and girls of Utah. But eventually their drowsy, uncaffeinated eyelids closed and they drifted off to sleep with visions of horehound candy dancing in their heads.

Young Kyson awoke to find a pair of suspenders hanging from his bedpost, while little McKelsey found the bonnet of her dreams tucked under her pillow. Then they rushed downstairs to find the pioneer boots they’d left on the mantle the night before filled with hardtack biscuits and salt pork.

Later, after a hearty breakfast of cracked-wheat cereal and reconstituted dried milk, the children will change into their pioneer costumes, grab their bikes, trikes, and little red wagons, and head to the church where they will recreate the great migration west by parading around on the sidewalk of the church for two and a half hours until they are almost delirious from heat stroke. Then they will gaze across the blazing hot asphalt of the church parking in much the same way that Brigham Young gazed across the arid, inhospitable Great Basin and declare, “It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.”

The children will then break into four groups…

One group will divide the parking lot into a precise grid with “streets” wide enough to allow four bikes and a wagon to turn around easily.

West Side of East Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah
West Side of East Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah

Another group will build an elaborate irrigation infrastructure capable of moving thousands of cubic feet of water to any block of the parking lot within seconds.

1000 South Canal (Looking West), Salt Lake City, Utah
1000 South Canal (Looking West), Salt Lake City, Utah

And, in the center of the parking lot, the third group will start construction on a massive granite structure that won’t be completed in their lifetimes.

Laying the Capstone of the Salt Lake Temple
Laying the Capstone of the Salt Lake Temple

By 2:00pm the parking lot will have blossomed as the rose…at which point the fourth group, attracted by the affordable real estate prices, low crime rate, and high quality of life, will move in, take over the parking lot, and open a coffee shop on every corner where they can hang out and complain about the liquor laws.

In the evening, extended families will gather together for the traditional Jello buffet, showcasing all of nature’s bounty in suspended animation. Aunt Delsa will probably receive the “Best in Show” award again at this year’s Jello Mold-Off for her multi-tiered replica of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, constructed with alternating layers of lime Jello and baloney. Funeral potatoes will flow like a chunky, cheesy river, and there will be over a hundred “salads,” none of which will feature lettuce or any other type of leafy green.

Kids will bob for tater tots in vats of pink fry sauce and men will stand on the back porch, arms crossed, discussing this year’s vintage (rootage?) of root beers. Some will argue that A&W’s 2007 production has been disappointing, with a cloying vanillin sweetness and a weak finish, but just about everyone will agree that the 2006 Hires root beer, with its heavy sassafras notes, has only gotten better after spending a year in the food storage closet under the stairs.

Pioneer Day usually ends with the traditional Bonfire of the Zucchini, in which all of the neighborhood’s excess garden produce is piled into the middle of the street and set ablaze. Unfortunately, wildfire conditions this year have resulted in a strict ban on open flames, so most families will spend the evening indoors, baking dozens upon dozens of loaves of zucchini bread that they will then leave on each other’s doorsteps in the dark of night.

Then, as the children are tucked once again into bed, their parents will tell them harrowing stories of the hardships their pioneer ancestors endured so they could grow up to be the snotty, ungrateful, over-privileged, upper-middle-class layabouts with no sense of history that they are today. And they will explain to their children that they, too, are pioneers, blazing a trail for the generations of even snottier, more ungrateful, hyper-privileged, upper-upper-middle-class layabouts with even less sense of history that will follow.

Yes, we are all pioneers in our own snotty, ungrateful, over-privileged, upper-middle-class-layabout-with-no-sense-of-history way. And this is our day.

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Please Have A Fun Time

Kasugai Strawberry Gummy
Kasugai Strawberry Gummy

Kasugai’s strawberry gummy, made from fresh strawberry juice, is a very delicious gummy. Please have a fun time with this strawberry gummy.

Offer Admiring Feelings of a Graceful Lady

Kasugai Muscat Gummy
Kasugai Muscat Gummy

Its translucent color so alluring and taste and aroma so gentle and mellow offer admiring feelings of a graceful lady. Enjoy soft and juicy Kasugai Muscat Gummy.

This is the Kasugai product description to which jo was referring, and, as I mentioned there, the first time I saw this bag on the shelf, I thought it said “Kasugai Muskrat Gummy.”

The muscat (or muscatel) grape is one of the oldest grape varieties in the world and it’s often described as having an “earthy” or “musky” flavor, but I think Kasugai may have taken that too literally. Because, despite their claims on the front of the packaging, I wouldn’t liken the taste of these things to a “graceful lady” unless that graceful lady was infected with black rot and had been putrifying in a compost heap for a week and a half.

Man, these things are nasty. They’ve got an overripe, vegetal bouquet, a full-bodied, almost loamy flavor that you can usually only experience by chewing moss, and an appalling finish that somehow brings to mind a worm farm.

It’s odd that Kasugai even offers a separate muscat-flavored gummy, since they already have the more generic Kasugai Grape Gummy that actually tastes like grapes. But I must admit I’m not familiar with the muscatel grape. Perhaps this is an accurate reproduction of its flavor. If so, I’m with the The Count of Monte Cristo.

The count looked at Mercédès as if to interrogate her, but she continued to walk on in silence, and he refrained from speaking. They reached the building, ornamented with magnificent fruits, which ripen at the beginning of July in the artificial temperature which takes the place of the sun, so frequently absent in our climate. The countess left the arm of Monte Cristo, and gathered a bunch of Muscatel grapes. “See, count,” she said, with a smile so sad in its expression that one could almost detect the tears on her eyelids — “see, our French grapes are not to be compared, I know, with yours of Sicily and Cyprus, but you will make allowance for our northern sun.” The count bowed, but stepped back. “Do you refuse?” said Mercédès, in a tremulous voice. “Pray excuse me, madame,” replied Monte Cristo, “but I never eat Muscatel grapes.”


The countess placed herself before Monte Cristo, still holding in her hand a portion of the perfumed grapes. “Take some,” she said. “Madame, I never eat Muscatel grapes,” replied Monte Cristo, as if the subject had not been mentioned before. The countess dashed the grapes into the nearest thicket, with a gesture of despair. “Inflexible man!” she murmured. Monte Cristo remained as unmoved as if the reproach had not been addressed to him.

Finding Dr. Right

by Lisa B. Kamps (2007)
Finding Dr. Right

“When Will You Take A Chance?”

It was a question Catherine Wilson had asked herself–when would she stop worrying about her son and start focusing on life?

The truth was she was scared her son would relapse; scared she had forgotten how to live; scared the emotions one particular man brought to life would lead to heartbreak.

Catherine wanted to be brave. And accepting Nathan Conners into her family’s life was one of the toughest decisions she had to make. Because if she wasn’t careful, Nathan would not only make Catherine believe in herself again…but also in love…

This is another one of Emma’s thrift store finds. Published this year, no less. She was worried that it might not qualify for the Tiny Pineapple Nurse Book Collection since the main female character is a doctor, not a nurse. But I pointed out that we have a number of other titles in the collection that feature female characters who, while not strictly nurses, have still found rewarding and romance-conducive careers in the health care industry.

It’s just that the “Tiny Pineapple Collection of Books Featuring Female Characters With Various Rewarding and Romance-Conducive Careers in the Health Care Industry” seems a little wordy.