Of Phases and Falconry.


I know I have spent a lot of time on this blog trying to explain my husband to my three faithful readers, usually because I am trying to understand him myself.  A recent episode really confounded me, so here we go again:

You see, Derrick is a man of expansive intellectual interests.  He is constantly learning about technology, design, business, writing–you name it.  Consequently, he is perpetually revamping the computer (with which he is freakishly talented), drafting new plans for his office or dream home and, of course, reading a ton:  business books, finance books, outdoor magazines, fiction, nonfiction, and of course, Where the Red Fern Grows for Ethan.  What can I say?  I married a thinker.  Which is a good thing.  I guess.

The rub is that alongside this thirst for knowledge comes a kind of tunnel vision that is truly all-consuming.  Once something piques Derrick’s interest, nothing else exists–including me (what’s new?)  And thus we enter the world of the Phase.  Derrick’s latest interest will always be read about in books, studied online, mapped out, sketched out, graphed out, improved upon, and discussed at the dinner table.  Any previous interests will drop like old chicken feathers as he engages mind, body and spirit into the new love of his life, whatever that may be.  In fact, I just now had an unpleasant thought:  could I have been merely one of Derrick’s Phases, kept around only because our marriage contract prohibited him from replacing me with the next Phase?  (I suppose it doesn’t matter now.  Too bad for him.)

The interesting thing about Derrick’s Phases is that, like any torrid love affair, they begin passionately and end quickly; a sudden, brutal sever that leaves an onlooker’s head spinning (usually the onlooker who’s watching all her Target money being spent on P90X videos and protein shakes.)   Below are just a few of the Phases Derrick has entered into and exited out of during the course of our life together; a separate blog would be necessary to recount them all.

1.  Abby.  The pure-bred border terrier that Derrick just had to have.  After months of saying “no way” I finally gave in when, cleaning our bedroom one Saturday, I discovered a stack of dog books hidden under his side of the bed.  No girlie magazines, just Choosing your Pure Bred Puppy and Dog Training for the Gentle Master.  The earnestness of his desire struck me, and I relented.  Thrilled, Derrick researched and researched and after weeks of careful survey decided to have a newborn, pedigreed border terrier flown into Salt Lake City from Kansas.  Kansas.  I am not kidding.  We both worked full time (pre-kids) and lived in a tiny, spotless, white-carpeted townhouse.  Derrick was militant about guests removing their shoes when they came over, but apparently thought it would be a good idea to have a spastically-bladdered, psychotic little canine marking her territory on the pristine floors.  Funny how in all his research, Derrick missed the part about border terriers being bred to hunt foxes in Scotland, not pace the walls of a condo in Orem.  In sum:  total disaster.  End of Abby Phase.

2.  Photography.  Again, in our childless years, he spent the better part of a full week on campus “building” what would become his very own pinhole camera.  After countless hours in the woodshop, he completed a single side of said camera.  It looked pretty good, like a wooden coaster with a slight ridge on it.  (For the record, I did not say one word about that 4×4 inch square taking him a week to complete.  I would never.)  That little square is all that was ever produced and all that I ever saw.  End of Photography Phase.

3.  Building a kayak.  We were living in Portland, managing apartments.  I had just had a baby and Derrick was working bazillion hours a week at his first engineering job, then coming home to blow leaves and snake out toilets at night.  Money was tight, space was tight, and time was tight.  And yet, one day, he purchased a beautiful twenty-five dollar book with glossy photos of how to Build Your Own Kayak.  He swooned over this book for about a week, planning and plotting, until one night my sister came over for a visit.  She asked him what he was reading about.  When he told her, she just smiled and said, “And what would stop you from building a kayak?  The fact that you don’t have a woodshop, or the tools, or the money, or the time?”  He glumly retorted, “Oh Jaimy, you are a killer of dreams!” and walked off with his book in tow.  But after that day, all talk of kayak building ceased in the Smith home.  End of Building a Kayak Phase.  (And Jaimy is a killer of dreams, but she’s also pretty funny.)

4.  Judo.  This one was more recent, just a couple of years ago. Derrick wanted to get superfit, and months of research convinced him that Judo was the ultimate total body workout.  He bought the books, visited the websites, watched the videos, and signed up for a local class.  My three faithfuls, he even bought a gi.  What is a gi, you might ask?  Oh, only the most respected uniform in the ancient art of judo!  Think of the patch Mr. Miyagi bequeathed upon Daniel-san before the All-Valley Karate Tournament–that’s how important the gi is.  (Okay, so it was karate, not judo, but it’s all MysteriousAncientEastern stuff.  You get it.)  After three Judo classes, Derrick began roaming around the house slapping his knees and mock-punching anyone who crossed his path.  After the fourth class, he got called to be our ward bishop.  For those of you who aren’t LDS, serving as a bishop is like serving as a pastor of a congregation, except 1) you don’t choose to do it, you are asked, 2) you do it without pay, in addition to your full-time job, and 3) the hours you spend doing it will likely exceed that of your full-time job.  Needless to say, with the call of bishop:  end of Judo Phase.

And that, my friends, brings us to car ride my family was sharing a few weeks ago.  We were each quietly lost in our own thoughts when, out of nowhere, Derrick slapped me on the arm and proclaimed loudly,  “Hey, I just remembered a phase from when I was a kid that I never told you about!”

“What was it?”

He snapped his fingers, pointed to me, and smiled a thousand watts.  “Falconry.”

“Falconry?”  I was speechless.



“Yeah,” Derrick’s excitement mounted as the memory unfolded.  “I wanted to be a falconeer so bad.  I read about all the different kinds of falcons, how you trained them, what they could do.  I used to draw these really detailed pictures of all the different species.  You know…I wanted the big leather glove and everything…”  Here he stopped talking and thrust out his arm at me, bent squarely at the elbow to illustrate the bodily perch a falconeer would provide his feathered charge.  “At one time, I could have told you everything there was to know about the art of falconry.  Everything.”  He ended the sentence with a satisfied nod.  I looked at this strange man and asked:

“Why didn’t you just collect baseball cards like other little boys?”  To this, the strange man replied:

“Oh come on, Jen!  What kid doesn’t want their own bird of prey?”

Our conversation was cut short by the roaring laughter coming from the kids in the back.  Thinking it would help his case, Derrick began to carefully explain to them what falconry entailed, only to be met with further ridicule.  Rachael in particular couldn’t get over the image of her dad strutting around with a bird on his arm while talking to people at church.  In fact, the idea so delighted her that she went home and directly whipped up this little cartoon.

Rache came up with the name Destiny, but I bet Derrick wishes he’d thought of it.  Perfect for the man who’s perpetually fulfilling his own.


top ten things I never should have purchased:

  1. Shiny, ruffly, light blue pillows at Ross.  They were perfect for our master suite in my head, but when I got home I saw that they looked like my junior-year prom dress.  (Sorry about that, Justin.) ($11.99 ea)
  2. 2-pak Cocoa Puffs/Lucky Charms combo bag at Costco.  My kids haven’t eaten dinner in a week.  ($7.99)
  3. Motivated Moms Printable Chore Planning system.  It breaks down all of your housework into daily tasks so you never fall behind.  You just consult each day’s list and do the work required.  I got excited about this prospect, printed off ninety pages in eight-point font (yeah, that’s a lotta chores), and haven’t looked at it since.  In fact, I don’t even know where those ninety-pages ended up.  I guess finding printable chore planning system needs to be on page 1 of my next Printable Chore Planning System. ($8.00)
  4. Welcome mat from Target, tan with green birds on it.  Cute print, but way too small for my front porch, and way too whimsical (read: hip) for my age.  ($19.99)
  5. Re-fillable water bottles for the girls; one green, one blue.  What’s wrong with these, you ask?  Oh, just the fact that Who Gets The Blue One exploded into a full-on theater of war.  (And yes, my daughters are 10 and 12 years old.  And you were embarrassed about your own kids’ fights.) ($9.99)
  6. Weight Watchers frozen entrees.  I mean, really. ($2.25 ea)
  7. Four of the five pairs of high heels in my closet.  If looks could kill…wait, looks can kill, as evidenced by the torture inflicted on me from these four pair of gorgeous stems.  Last week Derrick asked me why I was staggering like a drunk on my way into the church.  I told him:  my shoes, duh.  I can’t walk in them.  He just shook his head and grimaced.  I guess some people will never get it. (Price of shoes undisclosed at this time.  I know you’re reading this, Derrick.)
  8. Eight-dollar sunglasses at Target to replace the twelve-dollar ones I thought I lost.  Wouldn’t you know, I found my twelve-dollar ones the very next day!  I now have twenty dollars worth of eye candy (literally) rolling around in my purse.  Oh the waste, the decadence… ($8.00)
  9. Twenty-dollars worth of gourmet popcorn from the Boy Scouts.  (See #6.  What am I doing?)  But in the interest of full disclosure, you should know that a) I work with the Boy Scouts who are selling the popcorn, and b) the particular variety I ordered is covered in chocolate.  So sue me. ($20.00)
  10. P90X.  Entire CD set.  Suffice it to say that I have not, as yet, quite obtained my money’s worth from this item.  (See #9.)  ($139.00.  That’s a lot of eight-dollar sunglasses.)

It’s all fun and games until Grock wants your money.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about Primal Eating.  Have you?  I’m sure you have, since I’m usually about two years behind anything that’s trendy or cool.  If you are unfamiliar with the Primal Diet, here is the short version:

You can’t eat anything except grass-fed meat and certain vegetables.  For real.

Everything else has too much sugar and too many carbs, including most fruit.  And grains of any kind?  Wheat, rice, quinoa, barley, bulgar, farro, kasha?  Forget it.  Grains are disdained–no, feared–on the Primal Diet.

The diet is based on the assumption that cavemen (Primal eaters call him “Grok”) lived a much healthier, leaner life than we do today.  Thus, we should try to mimic Grok’s prehistoric diet, which existed before grains, sugar, and even most fruits were introduced to the human family.  Mark Sisson, one of the leading Primal Diet gurus, also advises against dairy or artificial additives of any kind.  Even some seasonings are off limits, because hey–Grok didn’t have them!  Why should we?

For all my cynicism, I must begrudgingly admit that this diet holds a certain appeal.  Mark Sisson looks like a bodybuilder, his wife like a model, and they have an enormous following of believers whose lives have apparently been changed by cutting out the modern garbage the rest of us (I) eat regularly.  I think Mr. Sisson seems like a nice guy who’s sincerely convinced of, and committed to, the Primal lifestyle.  The whole back-to-Mother-Earth thing is attractive, and I was intrigued by his approach to health when I first started reading about it.  For over an hour, I even thought about trying it.  And then I saw something that gave me pause.

It was a video of Mark Sisson selling a recovery drink.  A recovery drink!   As in, something man-made in a lab, full of synthesized arginine and glutamine and creatine and–hold onto your clubs, my three cavewoman–carbohydrates!  In fact, there were more carbs in it than anything else.  Yep, Grok’s favored drink is chock stinking full of man’s vilest invention.  And for two bucks a pop, no less.  And yes, your body needs at least one of these “primal” drinks per day.

And then it all began to take shape.  Sincere as Mr. Sisson is (and I believe he is), effective as this diet may be (and I believe it is), there is still, and ever will be, a buck to be made.  And you know what?  That realization made me feel better.  It tempered some of the guilt I’d been feeling about giving my kids string cheese after school and baking whole-wheat bread.  Sure, Grok didn’t have string cheese, but he didn’t have a recovery drink, either.  So why should we?

Here’s the deal, Primal Diet:  You spend your money on grass-fed ribeyes and recovery drinks.  I, on the other hand, will be buying that new bedding I’ve been eyeing at Target, and getting the pretzel/icee combo while I’m there.  Altogether, we’ll break about even for the month.  And next month I’ll still have my new duvet cover, but you’ll have to buy a whole new round of magic powder.  How did cavemen pay for their recovery drinks in 10,000 B.C.?  However they did, I’m sure it was in a cleaner, purer form than we do today.  After all, besides chapstick and toilet paper, what good has humanity come up with since then?