Thursday, July 31, 2008

moving day

we moved last night. i meant to carefully document the mayhem for the purposes of this here blog, but the whole thing went off so quickly and well, i didn't even have time to try to remember where i had packed my camera. i did find it (i don't want anyone to worry) but by then it was too late, plus i was enjoying a root beer float. but, maybe i'll document the mounds of boxes and weird odds and ends that surfaced during the move, and which will certainly stay strewn about for long enough to be immortalized on digital film. (question: there is no such thing as digital film really, is there? but what do you call it, i wonder?)

but, i digress.

really what i am trying to say is, thank you! thank you! THANK YOU! to everyone who so graciously and effectively helped. mom mom and big baby brother ben even trekked all the way from denver to rescue me in my time of panic and need, and aunt emily cleaned my whole (old) kitchen and didn't even get mad when we accidentally stranded her at the old house, and all those boys didn't complain once about having to move a dining room table that weighs as much as an elephant. and so many other people did so much that i feel like i'll be returning favors for a lifetime, which i am perfectly happy to do. (we are also keeping your polaroids on the fridge. forever.)

so, thanks again.

the house, by the way, is darling and wonderful and already feeling like home, and you should all come and join us in warming it a few weeks from now. everyone is invited! even if you skipped out of helping us to play basketball.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

defrauded, bonus edition

it gives me great pleasure, and relief, to announce that the identity theft drama has come to an (apparent) end. my new debit card arrived and is working beautifully (probably too beautifully) and my long-awaited credit report came back clean as a whistle. (how clean is a whistle, anyway?) and so, i am sleeping again at night. these are all good things.

a few more mystery packages did sneak through to uncle bob's though, but now that i know they don't spell my financial doom, i can better enjoy them for the unintended hilarity they are. and so, as a little treat for all of us, here are some experts from a most intriguing letter i received last week.

it begins like this:

"frances, please forgive us, but we have just taken a closer look at your profile. it turns out you're more special than any of us imagined! did you know that you possess some very rare, hidden traits? in fact, there is a famous person (someone you would instantly recognize, he's on tv every night) who possesses these same special, incredibly rare traits. it turns out that people who possess these same rare and often hidden traits that you do are some of the most famous and successful people on this planet! frances, you are indeed blessed! i know those around you don't know this yet, but they will! down deep, you sense it, too. right? i'm so excited for you!"

a few thoughts.

1. it seems like a slightly misguided marketing ploy to imply that the people around me are so doltish as to not recognize my innate gifts and brilliance. that would be impossible. clearly. and offending people, or their friends and family, is not the way to get them to hop on your bandwagon.
2. why the specification of this planet? are there other planets on which my special and rare abilities are useless?
3. i can only hope that this alleged tv personality with whom i share so much is ryan seacrest. or maybe regis. he can be so funny sometimes.

the letter goes on to explain that there is a secret association of the wealthiest, smartest and most powerful people in the world who want to share their book of secrets with me, for free! can you believe it?

yeah, neither can i.

not that this doesn't sound tempting:

"after i received my package of inside secrets," the mystery author of the letter says, "i won a lot when i gambled! it was unbelievable! something else remarkable happened. with these secrets i actually knew what other people were thinking, as if i was reading their minds."

believe it yet?

the author also felt younger! healthier! more beautiful! and lost 30 pounds overnight! even her skin seemed to "rejuvenate into the glow of a teenager!" her husband is a "rich man-on-the-hill" and she is his trophy! and she loves it! (hillary clinton, is that you?)

also, with the association's big book of (free!) secrets, i can read the future. which should come in handy because i am about to enter "cycle two." what's that you ask? well, frankly, i am surprised you don't know. but, i'll tell you. it's only the most important of the seven fundamental cycles in life because "it's the cycle of breaking bondage, of discovering and being discovered."

at about this point i teared up with laugh-crying, but i did manage to take in this final paragraph:

"frances, if you're like i was before, you're probably experiencing some uneasiness, restlessness, a dissatisfaction with the world. is major success, an exciting and satisfying relationship, and real wealth truly unattainable? you long for it, i know. i always did. but if you cannot seem to achieve it, i am telling you, frances, instead of letting go of that desire, take a new direction. answer this calling today."

i'm not going to lie. i sort of want to do it. and not just for the glowing teenage skin, either. i mean, seriously, if this alleged book of secrets is even half as funny as this letter it would be worth it. well, almost worth it. but, actually, probably not worth it at all. so, sorry association. you'll have to get by without me. for now, anyway.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

my moon, no man

a week or so ago, elliot and i took a nighttime walk along the flat streets and struck up a conversation about the moon. elliot, you see, is a little freaked out by the moon, because the presence of the moon in our sky means the sun is shining somewhere else in the world where we can't see it, but we believe that it exists there nonetheless.

the only time i am freaked out by the moon, i told him, is when i can see the moon and the sun at the same time, in the same sky. there is something about that phenomenon that feels distinctly not right to me, i said. like the sun and the moon don't belong together or something.

elliot pounced. obviously, he said, you have some sort of subconscious angst related to gender relation, as the sun and moon are strong symbols of the masculine and feminine, respectively. uh-oh.

him: maybe you have a subconscious adherence to traditional gender roles, and you think men and women don't belong in the same sphere.
me: not likely.
him: no. not likely at all.


him: maybe you don't want to exist in the same sphere as men. you want to rule the sphere on your own.
me: more likely.
him: yeah, yeah.


me: or maybe i just don't quite understand how men and women can exist in the same sphere, happily and balanced. it is not that i don't believe it can be done. i see it done, and done well, around me all the time. but i still don't quite get it.
him: yeah, yeah.

it is this last assessment, i believe, that is the truth. or, at least, my truth.

now first, let me be very clear in saying that in no way does any of this mean that i am opposed to women and men coexisting. i am, in fact, very staunchly in favor. maybe my general confusion about the workings of male-female relationships stems from the fact that i can barely make it to a second date, let alone a lifetime commitment. but i do think there is something magical, mysterious and miraculous about two people deciding to spend forever together, something that cannot be understood from the outside.

i mention all of this because i leave in a few hours for portland, where sallee will become a mathews and enter forever the marriage vortex. again, not a bad thing. a good thing, in fact. a wonderful, happy, appropriate, joyful thing for which i am glad. but again, i just don't get it.

intellectually, of course, i understand. i have heard all the stories, the experiences, the processes. you ask questions and you get answers. you have concerns and they get addressed, or become less important. you think. you talk. you try. you pray. and then. you know. or rather, you know enough to take the next step. to make the choice.

emotionally though, spiritually even, it is still difficult (for me, at least) to understand how one might know. you just know? and that's it? because there has been at least one time in my life when i thought i knew something about this sort of thing and it turned out that i was, in fact, wrong. or, maybe more accurately, i came to know something different from what i thought i knew. and it was painful and hard.

it is also hard, i have come to believe, to watch people do things you don't understand, even when those things are very, very good. and it is, probably selfishly so, especially hard when those things involve a change in someone's life that changes your life, too. but, after my own thinking, trying and praying, i have learned this one, very important thing. i don't need to understand how it works for someone else. i don't need to understand how it works for someone else in order to rejoice when they rejoice, and i don't need to understand how it works for someone else in order to believe that it will work out someday for me, too. and, most importantly, the way that it works out for me is going to be just as strange and mysterious and difficult to understand for everyone else outside of my sphere, my sky.

and so i feel, at last, at peace. a little sad, of course. the bittersweet kind of happysad that always accompanies an occasion, and a revelation, of this sort. but, i am also most pleased to offer my joy and congratulations to the soon-to-be mr. and mrs. mathews. may your sky always be full of beauty, balance and love.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

why, most of the time, summer is awesome

the air conditioning in my car appears to be broken, which is, quite literally, not the coolest thing that can happen in the summertime. on the upside, it's just extra motivation to ride my bike places. if i am going to be sweating, i might as well be getting some exercise out of it, right?

and, luckily, there are plenty of other rad things about summer that make a lack of car air conditioning ok. like enjoying a delicious, organic lunch on the sunny patio of one world cafe with dave. one world cafe is an amazing salt lake institution where there is no menu; the food is prepared fresh every day from local, organic, healthy ingredients, and you just pay what you think your meal is worth. no joke. it can be sort of hit-or-miss as far as deliciousness, but we caught it on a particularly good day and i sauntered back into work a hour (or two) later, full and happy, before realizing that we had left without paying at all.

me in a text to dave: good call on lunch. i enjoyed it so much, i decided to go back and pay.
dave in response: holy crap.

or, there was the jonny lang concert at red butte garden, after which i very firmly decided that if i am to birth children in this life, i would like them to be his. i think you can see why. he is a dream-yacht indeed, not to mention a skilled and soulful musician who makes me want to clap and dance barefoot. and have his babies.

mykel, keri and i had a wonderful time drooling.

and even chelsea, who was a little skeptical at first...

came around by the end.

outdoor concerts also provide some prime people-watching (read: judging) opportunities. there was some extreme picnic-ing...

(these goblet holders kill me. it's like the ultimate form of indulgent laziness)

and darling little kids...

(i would have put this kid in my pocket and taken him home if there hadn't been so much security there. long hair? a guitar t-shirt? painfully cute. i am also pretty sure his equally hip dad is either divorced or a widow, as a thorough ring scan turned up nothing. i told keri and mykel that one of them should tap that, but it went undone. alas.)

also some pretty amazing dancing...

check out keri's magical parking job. a jonny lang miracle!

and did i mention hardcore rocking out and a back-up guitarist who looked like he walked out of the cartoon "fat albert"? because there was some of that, too.

summer is also the perfect time to ride your motorcycle from denver to the arctic circle. if you are my dad, that is.

or, there was the free josh ritter and andrew bird concert at the gallivan center. it was my first official friend-date with anna, which i had been looking forward to for a while. i think it was a success. i hope she asks me out again. i love the gallivan center concerts because we get to watch such incredible music-making for nothing more than the price of battling approximately three million other people (many of them having given up shirts and hygiene) trying to do the same. as a highly dedicated fan(atic), nate was particularly pleased to be there. and i think he decided that if he is to birth children in this life, he would like them to be andrew bird's.

anna and i rounded out the night with mcdonald's sundaes on the porch swing. so there, air conditioning. you can't ruin summer no matter how hard you try.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

frances cake, take seven: the "it's a girl!" edition

ever since i started a blog, joelle has been one of my most faithful readers. we served on the board at the ywca together and usually only saw each other once a month, but she always knew everything that was going on in my life, which seems like it would be sort of creepy except that it was actually really nice and flattering and exciting to have my very own blog-stalker.

because she was such a loyal fan, we were always trying to think of ways to get joelle on the blog. and we came up with some pretty awesome ideas, but frances cake seemed like the most logical. and the most fun. and the most cake-related, which is never a bad thing. so, joelle came over this week for frances cake! and now her dream of being on my blog has come true. (i am here for you, people. really.)

joelle is going to be a baby mama in november...

... and it's a girl, so we decided to celebrate with a pink cake. did you know that you can turn an ordinary white cake pink by adding a package of red-flavored jell-o? neither did we! but that is what we did, to marvelous effect.

the frosting tripped me up again (i accidentally melted the butter all the way instead of just softening it, which, by the way, makes a mess of your frosting and your microwave) but a lot of extra powdered sugar works sort of like a miracle when it comes to these things, and the final product was delicious indeed. it had the charmingly homemade, whimsical look of a cake prepared by a child, making it a perfect fit for the evening's theme.

in fact, i fully intend to make this very cake again for joelle with the help of her offspring, when the time is right. and, i also fully intend that said offspring will call me "aunt frannie."

another great thing about the evening was that joelle let me touch her cute baby-belly all i wanted. we also talked about how her mom is going crazy with baby clothes, and how labor is sort of freaky, and how being a parent is sort of freaky, and how she has to pee all the time. and lots of other things. but if you guessed that those things were mostly related to babies, then you guessed right. which normally would have made me crazy. but with cake and joelle, i didn't mind at all. in fact, (sssh! don't tell!) i might have even liked it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

sallee has a shower*

we celebrated sallee's fast-impending nuptials with a bridal shower of the sexy underwear variety over the weekend. so as not to ruin any wedding night surprises (because, nathan, i know you are reading this!) pictures of the event will have to wait. but, sufficeth to say, i think everyone will be pleased.

and, my first attempt at chocolate cupcakes filled with strawberry ganache was also a smashing success.

* i might add that this blog title has a clever double meaning, as the day of the shower (party) was also the first time sallee had taken a shower (hygiene) in three days. sorry. i couldn't help but mention it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

the sky is falling, the sky is falling!

as we were leaving for church this afternoon, ck closed the front door with no particular force and the window at the top of the door fell right out, narrowly and thankfully missing ck's head, and shattering on the front porch.

so, for a while, our front door looked like this.

and now it looks like this.

which is cool, because it doesn't look ghetto or trashy or anything.

and i'm not mad or anything that the landlord hasn't called us back yet. not mad at all. not one bit.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

my (big) baby brother has a birthday

one summer when i was home from college i decided that i wanted a new, fancy camera. like the kind with a big lens and lots of complicated features that looked professional and, more importantly, cool.

i begged and begged my parents to help me pay for it. i needed it, i said. i wanted it, i pleaded. i was hoping to do a semester abroad during my next year of college, and didn't they want me to be able to take beautiful photographs of wherever i went? if i had a nice camera, i reasoned, i could do freelance projects and sell stories and photos together. couldn't they see it was for my professional well-being? i asked.

i even agreed to have the camera count for an extraordinary amount of gifts all wrapped into one. two birthdays and christmas! two christmases! and i'll never ask for anything, ever again! ever! but to no avail.

then one morning my mom came into my room. an anonymous donor had stepped forward to help finance my camera, she said. i asked who, but she wouldn't tell me. i thought maybe it was grandparents, or a generous aunt. or maybe even my parents in disguise (or without my dad knowing). in the end, it didn't matter. i was getting my camera! it was the best day of my life!

happily we went off to the camera store, my little brother and his friend tagging along. we found a salesman. we asked lots of questions. we looked at lots of cameras. but i knew just what i wanted, a sleek, sexy nikon with all the trappings. i stared at it. i held it. i loved it. my brother looked over my shoulder. he watched. he waited.

out of the store we went, everyone else walking on the pavement, and me a few inches above. i could already imagine all the adventures my camera and i would have. i named her nobility, because that's what she was to me.

a few steps from the car, i asked again. who was this generous stranger who had helped my dream come true? who? who?

my little brother, 14 years old, saving nickels and dimes from mowing the lawn and cleaning out the garage all summer long, put his arm around my shoulder. he looked at me and squeezed. and then quietly he said, "it was me."

and so, to the kindest, lovingest, most sacrificing and dear baby brother there is, a happy, happy birthday to you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

defrauded, part 2

i headed up to uncle bob's last night to do some laundry (no clean underwear, remember?) and when i walked in the door there were two packages waiting for me. it was really exciting for about twopointfiveseconds until i recognized the company name on the side of one of the boxes as the same company name that had appeared so unwelcome on my bank statement, attached to charges i did not make.

massive panic (my specialty) set in as it dawned on me that the mystery perp has not only my (now-cancelled) card number, but my name and my address, though thankfully it was an old address where i haven't lived for a year now. it was creepy and weird and i didn't like it at all.

first i called home. panic. then i called the bank. again. panic. i explained my situation. i wanted to cry. and panic. the operator on the other end encouraged me to "keep your wits."

her: "you have to be smarter than them. always thinking one step ahead."
me: "i just don't understand how this could have happened!" (panic!)
her: "oh, honey, if i told you all the ways people can get your information..."

she was a lovely lady, but that was a most unhelpful thing to say.

more panic.

the cruel irony is, i am freakishly paranoid about this kind of thing. i almost never order things online. i tear all my receipts into teeny, tiny, miniscule pieces and throw them away in separate garbage cans. not a living soul knows my p.i.n. (and, by the way, i hate it when people say "p.i.n. number." what do they think the 'n' stands for?)

so, anyway, that i find myself in this situation seems supremely unfair, like getting a cavity when you don't eat sugar, or getting pregnant when you're on birth control. or something. the point i am trying to make is: not fair! not fair! not fair! panic! panic! panic!

but, despite her one anxiety-inducing misstep, last night's operator really was calm and helpful and i felt a lot better once i hung up the phone. my card has been cancelled and a new one is on the way. an identity theft protection officer is on the case. and my credit report should be back in a few days, hopefully clean with no weird loans or accounts taken out in my name. it will all be over soon.

and, in the meantime, i have the "double your dating cd series" to keep me occupied (thanks perp!). you might not know this, but it is the most important educational program on the planet earth, money-back-guaranteed to drastically increase your success with... women.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

will the real adult please stand up?

one of my family's favorite movies is "grosse pointe blank," wherein john cusack (also known as the companion of my future life) plays a professional killer trying to decide whether or not to attend his 10-year high school reunion. the possibility is fraught with peril as his line of work makes for slightly awkward conversations (old high school friend: "i'm a dentist." john cusack: "i killed the president of paraguay with a fork.") and because he will come face to face with his high school flame, debbie, who is still sort of mad that he abandoned her on prom night and never, ever called again. hilarity, 80s dancing, romance and a few gruesome murders ensue. a good time is had by all.

the only flaw is that john cusack was really too old (31 years old, in fact), to play a character going to a 10-year high school reunion. (that, by the way, makes him 42 years old today, which, for the record, is totally fine with me...) i think this discrepancy made me believe, as i watched the movie over and over again, that i would never be old enough to have a 10-year high school reunion. or that by the time my 10-year high school reunion did come along, i would feel like and be a for-real adult who could take down a nasty assassin opponent with a fountain pen, or at least remember to put out the garbage and not run out of clean underwear.

well, i got an e-mail about my high school reunion a few days ago, and i am wearing my last pair of clean unmentionables, so you do the math. the thing of it is, a 10-year reunion doesn't make me feel old. it makes me feel... unready. like i should be something by now that i'm not. or like i should have more figured out, or more done. just something more. but more what? i am not exactly sure. all i know is, i am still waiting to feel grown up.

at times like these, it is easy to fall into the "things i have NOT accomplished" trap. i don't own a house or have a master's degree. my parents had to buy my car. the only furniture i own is a bed, a desk, a bookshelf and a few end tables. my salary and my age are practically the same number. i don't have a husband, kids or a 401 (k). i still eat pasta a couple times a week, if i remember to eat dinner at all. i am still paying off student loans, i sleep late on saturdays and i let my room get really, really messy. and there are about a million other things i don't know how to do, or do badly.

but, instead of dwelling on all of that (too late?), i am going to think about all the things i HAVE accomplished in the past 10 years (or really, just nine years since my reunion isn't until next summer. so, even better!). here is just a small sampling:

lived in boston, london, florida, japan, denver and now, slc.
helped tune an organ
traveled to spain, italy, france, austria, the czech republic, california, seattle, scotland, wales, montana, idaho, washington d.c., new york city, india, argentina and uruguay
on a related note: rode an elephant, punched someone in the paris metro, saw a play on broadway and an opera in vienna, danced with a gaucho
summitted a mountain
shook jake gyllenhaal's hand (and managed not to wet myself. hurrah for adulthood!)
sewed a quilt
bought a bike and rode it for 102 miles
fell in love
met a pet psychic
mastered peanut butter bon-bons and spinach artichoke dip
kept a ficus tree alive
marched in a protest
learned to forgive
found my own mechanic
learned a new language, and how to fill my car tires with air
slept on a houseboat
worked at a high-circulation daily newspaper
drove across the country
finally got up on water skis
became the president of something (that is not a mia maid class)
bought my very own christmas tree

there. that feels better.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

fourth on third

i am not super into patriotism. but i am super into days off work. and i am super super into my grandma's potato salad, which is served every year at the johnson family fourth of july celebration. which we have on the third. here are some other things i am super into...

god bless america.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


has anyone seen that episode of "friends" where someone steals monica's identity and when she figures out who the person is and goes to confront her, the fraudulent monica is so cool and fun and zany that the real monica decides to be friends with her instead of turn her in?

well, that is not the reaction i had when i got a little phone call from the wells fargo fraud prevention department last night. for starters, i am not interested in being chummy with anyone who would use my card to order things online from nutriscience, trimday and colon cleanse. yep, you read that right. colon cleanse. awesome.

the good news is, the wells fargo fraud prevention department is on the ball. none of the charges went through, my card was quickly deactivated and a new one is in the mail. to operator mark, code ZN, wherever you are, i would kiss you if i could.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

come to zion, come to zion!

here is a small list of things i am rarely (if ever) inclined to do:

pee outside (my aversion to this deserves a category, and probably even a whole blog post, of its own)
scramble over boulders
skip showers
scale jagged cliff faces
propel myself from high ledges into dark and narrow canyons
wear a wetsuit
get clotheslined by cacti
wade through murky (and possibly disease-carrying) water
shimmy down logs
hike in my bathing suit
hike in my bathing suit along a major road

so, with that list in mind, i think you can see why my weekend was so remarkable. it went something like this...

piled people and gear into my magical mary poppins' carpet bag car (seriously, it never runs out of room!) and drove down to zion national park...

...with susan...

... and dave...

... and jessica (and jessie and reece who, sadly, do not have candid car photos of their own)...

stopping on the way in new harmony, ancestral homeland for susan and dave (they're cousins, you know), and also a great place to get a killer view of the fingers of kolob...

after arriving at our campsite (with no bathroom, i might add), i overheard this bedtime conversation between dave and susan:

susan: what's your favorite kind of lettuce?
dave: arugula, for sure.
susan: really?
dave: yeah. i prefer the dark, smooth lettuces.

after a massive fit of laughter, i slept peacefully under the stars (and on top of a heavenly "princess pad")...

then woke up the next morning...

to tackle the subway, a fine piece of "technical canyoneering" in the left fork of north creek. consider this brief explanation before you judge me for worrying it was in said canyon that i would meet my death: "willing participants will battle climbing down boulders, ledges and waterfalls that bar the way. the route contains several short swims through chilly pools and miles of wading in ankle deep water..."

i'm not going to lie. it was grueling and hard but it was also the most spectacular experience, unlike anything i have ever undertaken before. there is something completely inexplicable and truly awe-inspiring about being in the middle of the earth like that. i feel like a badass for having done it. and, i might add, having done it well.

we hiked up for a while...

and then took a little rest to let some of the other groups pass us, so we weren't bottlenecked later along the trail. (i had a really reassuring "i can do it" moment when i saw a pregnant woman go by.)

then it was down into the canyon, and to our first rappel. sitting waiting for a group ahead of us to complete the same rappel i heard a conversation that went something like this:

woman about to rappel: blah, blah, blah, blah...
man about to rappel: blah, blah, blah, shattered spine, blah, blah, blah...

having never rappelled before, this did not fill me with glee. but dave was an incredibly kind and patient and encouraging teacher and i made it to the bottom with no problems.

as did everyone else. even dave, who just wedged his way down with no ropes. like you do sometimes.

the subway got its name (at least i think this is true) from one little section with a fault line across the floor (ground?) that looks like tracks, and walls coming up and around like a tunnel. it's truly breathtaking.

we took off our packs and had some snacks (i'm a rhymer and i didn't know it!) and even took a little dip in one of the pools before we headed out again.

the rest of the day involved shimmying down logs...

and running streams and stunning waterfalls...

several slips and falls, an unfortunate run-in (literally) with a cactus (that was me) and an intensely steep climb out of the canyon to ultimate triumph.

though after all that excitement, susan found waiting for dave to bring the second car back a little dull.

we were all completely wiped out (the whole hike took us about 12 hours) and i thought maybe we would give up the idea of doing another hike on sunday, but there i found myself, sunday morning, getting ready to tackle keyhole canyon.

first we went to rent wetsuits, because the canyon is narrow and shady and filled with cold and, frankly, disgusting water. (dave thought it was really funny, when we were actually in the canyon, to pretend like we were in the trash compactor from "star wars." and it was funny. the first time.) just for the record, getting wetsuits on is a feat of strength in and of itself and i expended basically all of my remaining energy doing it. though i didn't expend as much energy as jessica, who put hers on backwards the first time around and had to try again.

then we went to practice our rappelling, because you have to rappel all the way down into keyhole canyon. some of the maneuvers were pretty tricky, but we all succeeded. we look like pros, eh?

(and yes, i realize i put up two pictures of myself and only one of everyone else, but it's my blog so i'm allowed.)

driving to the canyon i was chastized by a park ranger who thought i was trying to drive through some cones set up to make people stop. but, she forgave all when she found out i was a libra, as she had just read a study that said libras are the worst drivers ever. and she can say that because she's a libra, too.

now, here is the tricky thing about keyhole canyon. there is a 15 or 20 minute hike up to the first rappel point and it's exposed and hot, so you don't want to put your wetsuit on until you absolutely have to. but, the canyon is also really super narrow so you don't want to take any packs with you. and if you don't have your pack, you don't have anywhere to put clothes that you would take off to put on your wetsuit. so, i think you can see how i ended up hiking along the side of the road, and then through the wilderness, (un)dressed like this:

the hike was worth it though (no packs also=no cameras, so you'll have to take my word for it). we spent a lot of time scooting along with our bums against one wall and our feet against the other, and i really felt like we had traveled through the center of the earth and come out the other end. i also felt like, in our wetsuits, we could totally fight crime.

and then, wasted and happy, we headed back home.

a quick inventory of my battle wounds reveals:

a few minor gouges from catus spines
major difficulty going up and down stairs, though that seems to be getting better
completely raw knuckles on three fingers
two scraped knees
one leg pretty much covered with bruises
wicked rock burn on my right elbow

and every single one was totally worth it.