Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"It's not goodbye; it's goodnight."

Wayne Ricks
1943 ~ 2007
Ernest Wayne Ricks died June 26, 2007, after a courageous 16 year battle with cancer. He was born in Ammon, Idaho, September 10, 1943, to Lawrence and Zola Ricks who taught him on the family farm a work ethic that served him throughout his life. Wayne graduated from Bonneville High School and then served an LDS mission in North Germany. His marriage to Sue Ann Yospe on June 14, 1968, in the Salt Lake Temple was the beginning of a wonderful, eternal life together. He later earned an MA in Architecture from the U of U and became an accomplished architect and partner in the firm NJRA Architects. He belonged to the Sugarhouse Kiwanis Club where he had served as president and Division Lieutenant Governor. Wayne loved the Savior and faithfully served in many church callings including Bishop of the Stratford Ward, President of the SL Highland Stake singles branch, scout leader, teacher, and nursery leader, but his favorite callings were Dad and Grandpa. He attended Woodbadge and was recognized with the Silver Beaver Scouting Award and District Award of Merit. He enjoyed cheering for the Utes, golfing, fishing, and being with his family. He was a kind, compassionate man with a quiet sense of humor who was loved by all those who were privileged to be associated with him. Survived by his sweetheart Sue Ann, children Christine, Rebekah (Gabe) Turcsanski, Tim (Brandi), Deborah, Rachelle (Nate) Jeppson, grandchildren Ashlin, Jonah, Natalie, Taylor, and Kennedy, all who love and will miss him dearly. Two more sweet spirits will soon join his posterity. We thank all those who served his medical needs over the years and helped lengthen his time with us. Services will be held Saturday, June 30, at ll:00 a.m. at the Stratford Ward 2605 S 1500 E. Viewings will be held Friday, June 29, from 6-8 p.m. at Wasatch Lawn Mortuary 3401 S Highland Dr, and Saturday from 9:45 to l0:45 a.m. prior to services at the church.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Final Countdown

Amongst our differences, the two of us have always had one very strong trait in common. A short attention span with a touch of procrastination. A fabulous combination for completing major projects. Fortunately, we both have much respect for hard deadlines. Take our moving into the new house for example. We closed in mid-March and finished unloading the last box at the end of that same month. It's now June. We've had some neighborhood visitors and therefore had made most of our progress downstairs. The upstairs on the other hand, was still a bit of an obstacle course. Of course one of those rooms was the nursery that we've been working on. But it was mostly just an excuse. Enter Tim's parents. A short notice visit was just the kick in the pants that we needed. It was amazing just how "settled" we could become in a few days. We take no responsibility for the den.

We're hoping that this will be a precursor to the upcoming birth. We've been trying to distract ourselves with painting the nursery, buying many cute outfits and pieces of furniture. Anything to postponing the reality of child birth. We were getting really excited about taking an instructional parenting class offered by the hospital that would teach us all of the important care taking details. How to swaddle, change diapers, and the art of burping. We finally made the reservation call a few weeks before the scheduled class only to discover that these sorts of things tend to fill up. No room in the inn. We've got nothing. Tim doesn't even know the difference between a normal blanket and a receiving blanket (but let's be honest, neither does Brandi). Sure we're reading books and conducting serious online research, but just like the pain of labor, it's hard to think that any written description can adequately prepare for the first (or one thousandth) messy diaper.

Luckily for us, child birth comes with a pretty hard deadline (more or less - we do realize that it could happen a little sooner, but Brandi insists it won't be later). For us it's exactly four weeks from now. 28 days. Is that the Sandra Bullock movie or the one about the zombies? The closer we get to July 19, the easier it is to focus on. Sort of. We really don't know what we're doing. The problem of procrastination. A trait that's complimented by our open mindedness. So all you parents out there, feel free to throw your best advice at us. Wanna ride bikes?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tim Tries to Make Brandi Feel Like He Won't Murder Her

According to Nancy Grace, murder is the number one cause of death among pregnant women. This is a staggering statistic, especially if it's true. She didn't really take the next step, but the inference is that it's a result of domestic violence. Don't worry sweet ones, the only domestic violence in our home is limited to tiny feet into Brandi's ribs and the occasional cat claw. This post is pure Tim. I'm letting Brandi sit this one out. Given that this weekend was Father's day, I want to try and express some building thoughts concerning fatherhood. A topic that I don't know much about but hopefully I'm learning.

A few weeks ago I was introduced at work as, The Office Comedian. Under other circumstances, I'm sure that this would be rather flattering but that day it only caused me worry. Is this really how I come across? Not that there's anything wrong with being loose and jovial to break up the monotony. But when introduced, I want to hear the title Environmental Biologist. I didn't spend six years in school to be a comedian. I'm a biologist and take my job extremely seriously, so excuse me for thinking that I'm pretty good at what I do. I feel the same way about fatherhood. I tend to joke about my incapability all the time, but the truth is, I'm completely dedicated to and excited for the arrival of this perfect little person.

Last week at the dinner table, Brandi found herself having to listen to me discuss those at the office that I felt that I could beat up. (Funny enough, this sizing up had nothing to do with the aforementioned experience. As a legal disclaimer, this discussion occurred before the obligatory Workplace Violence training and there isn't anyone at work that I could beat up.) Brandi diagnosed the aggressive behavior as pregnancy related hormones, specifically high testosterone levels. She is far and beyond smarter than I am, especially when it comes to the workings of the body, but on this occasion, I disagreed. In fact, I think that I'm guilty of the opposite. Not aggression, but protection. If women go through "nesting," I think it's totally acceptable for a guy to go through "defending the nest."

For the first time in my life, I've become territorial. Growing up with all sisters, I've had my fair share of being protective. Despite the instinct, my sisters have been independent, so there wasn't a lot of opportunity for me. Being a husband and a soon-to-be father, just like Brandi, I've felt something growing inside of me. Unlike Brandi, mine won't show up on an ultrasound. I know it's there, so the challenge has been trying to come up with a way to adequately describe what it feels like. I think I'm finally getting my fingers around it.

As a biologist, I've had the opportunity to work with and fight for many threatened and endangered species. I absolutely love what I do and take pride in working towards the greater good. It seems to me that people equate the title "biologist" with the visual of hippies running through the forests, tree-hugging, and saving all the fluffy little creatures. This idea usually gets expressed with questions wondering if I eat meat or ever go fishing. Let me assure you that the job isn't all flowers and sausages. The hard reality is that in order to do our jobs - the passionate fight towards the survival of a thing - in most cases, comes at the expense of some other thing. This is the day in which we live. A struggle to reclaim resources and habitats against invasive, exotic species. As a result, my fights have come at the cost of literally hundreds of thousands of other lives. Without hesitation, without regret.

Lately, that hesitation and regret have begun to change. We've been conducting a bioassessment study at work lately to try and quantify the bioaccumulation of contaminants into the environment. In order to accomplish this, we've been collecting stands of vegetation and...bird eggs. We've been targeting two species: killdeer and American coot. Not the prettiest birds in the world, but this activity has created a pretty obvious conflict of interest for me. One that I've felt in my guts. For weeks, I've been hunting down nests only to then force a mother off her clutch in order to steal one of her babies. Coot and killdeer tend to express quite different behaviors during this process. Upon approach, killdeer will come off the eggs and exhibit what's known as "broken wing" where the mother flails about while holding one wing at some unsightly angle trying to sell you (the predator) on the injury, to lure you away from her offspring. As you squat at the nest and the mother realizes that her theatrics fell short, she'll just stand there and stare at you from 20 feet, for the most part, without making a noise. But once in awhile, without breaking eye contact, she gives this high bleat - which if you want it too, sounds very much like "Please?" Coot have a different strategy. They'll stay committed to the nest until you practically have to push them off. Once off, they'll retreat and then rush towards you slapping their wings on the water and making a curdling squawk that peaks at desperation and then tumbles towards resignation. Either way, the result is the same as they are no match for my stoic determination as they can only watch me walk off with a precious little part of them. Now I know what you're thinking, and trust me, I'm usually the first to call someone out on anthropomorphism. But even though I watched from a distance as each mother settled down and returned to the remaining eggs in her nest, I can't help but feel that she felt the loss. Defending ones' offspring is innately biological. I made the mistake of watching her, watch me and I'm convinced more than ever that parenthood, in some form, crosses all boundaries. There's no more science, no more job, no more species. There's only violation and sorrow.

Finally, if there is a point, the point is this: as I type this, I can't say that I'm totally ready to be a father but I can say that I've never felt more ready to defend the women in my life at all cost. Being a pacifist, IE skinny, I've had my fair share of being pushed around, but in the last few years, I've never been more willing to come to someone's defense than that of Brandi's, and now Paisley's. So when I find myself sizing up my coworkers - or anyone else whose life my day crosses, it's not about egomania, it's about protection. The truth comes in the uncertainty of a messed up world and knowing that in the end, I can only do so much. When I let my mind go, I see myself trying to protect the two things that matter most and I'm only a bird. Tragedy takes nothing more than a single determined someone or something to walk into your pond and threaten what you have and challenge what you are. Eventually, this beautiful little girl who I will soon enough get to hold in my arms will grow up and walk out of my front door all by herself. I just hope that when that day comes that I will have been able to give her everything she needs and that I'll have offered her real protection, not just a bunch of noise and a faked injury. That day really scares the hell out of me.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pink-ish Envy

At first glance, it may appear that being on the male end of things during pregnancy is the best place to be. You don't have to watch your stomach grow over a period of nine months (although Tim insists that his is expanding too), the jungle juice mix of hormones, and all the other undeniably horrible components that lead up to the ultimate undeniably horrible event and all that mess. We mean that beautiful event.

There is no argument that women pay a price that men will never come close to being able to reimburse. But sometimes, somewhere in all that drama, when the birthing seems far away, a little jealousy creeps into the male mentality. For Tim, these moments seem to be directly connected to the sound of the cash register and the bagging up of some new outfit. Remember the post about the benefits of being impregnated by a metrosexual? This definitely counts as one of the disadvantages. Of course, a disadvantage that could easily be solved by more money in the wallet, so hopefully Tim can kick his penny slot addiction soon. Kidding. The blame falls directly on the shoulders of responsibility and budgeting. Luckily, the jealousy doesn't last long for two reasons: the new baby outfits are unbelievably cute, and the realization that even with the huge advances made in maternity wear in the last 7 1/2 years, it's still maternity wear.

Everyone knows that parenthood offers countless opportunities for sacrifice, what is less obvious is that sacrifice occurs long before sleepless nights and diaper changes. Brandi is either getting more sensitive to the growing jealousy or Tim is throwing more tantrums; either way, on Saturday EVERYONE got new pjs!

Friday, June 8, 2007

A Win-Win Situation

After the last post, we'd hate to leave the impression that our Sasquatch experience as a whole was 100% miserable. It was like low 70's at worst. It really turned out to be another fun road trip with friends and good music. So, even though the last post dripped with surrender, we thought we'd share a little photo log (with a touch of commentary) of the experience.

Saturday's highlights (for us, anyway) included Bjork, Arcade Fire, Electrelane, Ghostland Observatory, Grizzly Bear, and the Beastie Boys. The Long Winters probably would have been a highlight as well, though sadly we're pretty sure we spent that hour waiting in line for a couple of footlongs; which were worth EVERY minute.
Earlier that day, while enjoying Electrelane's show, Brandi spotted Napoleon Dynamite; or at least that's who we thought he was emulating 2 years ago when we saw him running past us at Coachella. As it turns out, it was Richard Parry of Arcade Fire. So we decided we'd pull out the camera (hopefully, without him noticing).

Not to be outdone, we were joined by another member of the Arcade Fire later on the same stage during Grizzly Bear. Win Butler! How cool are we? Two members of one of the biggest it bands in the world on two different occasions, gravitating right to us to enjoy two of the bands that we all think are pretty cool. These pictures are only slightly staged by maybe a few feet. (If you question just how close we were, Win wears a 36x36 dungaree.) With the exception of one annoying tall dude with a pony tail, no one even bothered them. Here's a shot of Brandi trying to kiss a rock star and Tim trying to find the aforementioned rock star in order to protect his honor.
The rest of the weekend was a bit of a blur, which is a surprise since we weren't even dropping "e" like Nate and Tonia. But who needs drugs when you're learning how to suck Diet Pepsi through a candy straw? (Is it just us, or is Nate pulling off a great Chris Isaak here?)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Day The Music Died

The title really should be "days" since it has been a work in process. The omen began with the death of our iPods. Brandi's gave up on her several months ago and we made the blank screen discovery of Tim's just before embarking on a full 36 hour drive to Sasquatch and back. I have no doubt that we'll replace them some day, i.e., the day Paisley's full ride scholarship arrives in the mail. We reverted to cds and now know what the pioneers had to deal with on their little road trip.

The second painful realization was a process in and of itself. This was our first experience with the Sasquatch Music Festival but for the most part, it's all pretty much the same big party. The obvious difference was that the goal of Coachella is avoiding heat stroke, at Sasquatch, the threat was hypothermia. The setting overlooking the Columbia River was quite inspiring but it's hard to stay inspired through the nicotine (if you're lucky) haze and crowded collection of circus freak rejects. We had supposed that Coachella had outgrown us this year, but the harsh reality is that we've probably outgrown Coachella, and Sasquatch, and Lollapalooza, and Glastonbury. And in defense of poor Paisley, not all of it is her fault. Sure Brandi was a bit hampered by the tummy but Tim wasn't exactly skipping circles - except for when the line to the "Honey Bucket" (port-a-potty) wasn't moving fast enough. Sasquatch probably had half the attendees as Coachella but maybe 1/3 of the space, so it was always crowded. Brandi coined the term "festival intolerance."

Going into the event, we tried to convince ourselves that we could be one of those "cool" couples that haul their children around for two days forcing them to this insanity. But it would be unforgivable to rob these little ones of their innocence before they can even utter the words "how" and "why." Sure it was the perfect photo opt for Gwyneth and Apple with the little pink ear covers, but being married to Chris Martin means that you don't have to try and explain why the guy next to you is using your name's sake fruit to smoke their drugs.

Yes, we're getting old and have added blankets, snacks, and ear plugs to the festival bag. But even though music will still play a big part in our lives (even if they're cds), it looks like we've both accepted the idea of trading in the festival bag for a diaper bag. A rite of passage that reveals our budding maturity in our ability to accept and adjust. The music isn't dead, these days, it's just in bed by 8 p.m. Does anyone know if The Lawrence Welk Show is still on?