Graduate School as Dessert

Audrey Thompson

Audrey, Ivan, Yorkshire guest, Steve
Audrey, Ivan, Yorkshire guest, Steve

Every morning at breakfast in the Valley of the Gods, Ivan passed me the fruit from his plate. “Don’t you eat fruit, Ivan?” Steve asked him.

“Not unless it’s in a pie,” Ivan said.

“That surprises me,” Steve mused. “It seems like a vegetarian, especially a lactose-intolerant vegetarian, wouldn’t have that many food groups to choose from. If you don’t have fruit for breakfast, what do you have? Just bread?”

“Not bread,” I told Steve. “Candy.”

Explaining that candy is an under-acknowledged food group, Ivan added that pop is also a food group, although Ivan does not say “pop.” Ivan says “sody.” On formal occasions, like written exams, I say, “pop,” though usually I say “coke,” meaning Squirt. Ivan has coke, meaning Pepsi, every morning for breakfast to wash down his Carmello bars.

“Then what do you have for lunch?” Steve wanted to know. Ivan said that he doesn’t eat lunch. Usually, he is still full from breakfast. If he is hungry, he has potato chips. Ivan is an excellent cook, but he does not waste culinary effort on breakfast or lunch, when there is all that candy just for the asking.

The other day, I was making an orange-glazed pound cake. Ivan watched while nibbling at the crumbs that had come off the cake. “How will you make the glaze?” he wanted to know. “I thought it called for orange juice.” I pointed at the two oranges that I’d already used for the zest. “Oh, squeezed orange juice,” Ivan said. “Does juice straight from an orange count? I thought that for something to be orange juice it had to have. . . .” I waited for him to finish, but he didn’t.

“Preservatives?” I finally asked.

“No, sugar,” said Ivan.

Ivan does not like how I am telling this story. He thinks that the long pause I mentioned makes him look indecisive. “Do you have to write, ’I waited for him to finish, but he didn’t’?” he asked me. “Couldn’t you say, ’He thought deeply for a time’?” I reminded him that it was not going to help his case for him to be thinking deeply, if all he was going to come up with was “sugar.” Also, not that this would matter to Ivan, it is not true. As far as I could tell, Ivan had stopped thinking altogether.

In my family, that faraway look usually means that you are thinking about food, but with Ivan it could be a 1957 Chevy or a new Lego train. It would not be sugared orange juice.

Ivan’s assumption that orange juice has sugar added to it is not based on experience or even interest. You couldn’t pay him to drink orange juice. The only reason this topic came up was that he was concerned that there might not be sufficient sugar in the orange glaze to dilute the fruit taste.

“There is a cup of sugar in the glaze and only two tablespoons of juice,” I assured him. “There will be enough sugar.” He nodded. As long as I can give him exact measurements, he is satisfied. Ever since I made him a gooseberry pie a couple of years after we’d started dating, he hasn’t trusted my personal gauge of sweetness. When I made the gooseberry pie, I cut the sugar in half. I like things kind of tart. Ivan was very nice about the pie. “Zhis ihz jellizious,” he assured me through pursed lips.

Baking in Champaign
Baking in Champaign

We brought desserts along with us to the Valley of the Gods but they did not weather the journey well. Although it was only May, the temperature was 93°.
Cave Karma The view from Muley Point

In the desert, Donna wilted. She was quick to find handy caves. She has excellent cave karma.
Cave Karma Cave Karma

In the electric Subaru cooler, the lemon squares melted into a squarish soup and the Amaretto brownies folded in on themselves. We did not take any photographs. From the pictures Ivan did take of one of our dinners, you would not know that we had any desserts or even side dishes. Looking at his lustful close-ups of tuna and steak, one gains a strong impression of meat dinner.
Tuna Steak

Before their journey, the lemon squares and Amaretto brownies had looked good. They were leftovers from when Deanna, Thomasania, and Darron came over one afternoon earlier in May. I had made a lot of desserts. I warned them in advance that it was a dessert event. Both Darron and Thomasania immediately wrote back mentioning meat. I do not cook much meat. Once, when I was making steak for myself, I had to call Ivan long distance from Champaign to find out what I’d done to make the steak so tough. Ivan listened carefully to my cooking process. I was using a frying pan, and to save on calories, I was frying the steak in water rather than butter. I kept having to add more water. The steak was unbelievably tough. “That’s because you’re not supposed to boil steak,” Ivan explained.
Deanna and Thomasania
Deanna and Thomasania
Audrey, Thomasania, Deanna, Darron
Audrey, Thomasania, Deanna, Darron

Surveying the coffee table after she arrived, Thomasania specifically mentioned the lack of meat. Originally, Thomasania had volunteered to make her daughter cook forty cocktail weenies; Sheila was going to have to come home from work specially to make them. “Why forty weenies?” I asked. “I only invited three guests.” “It’s forty weenies or nothing,” said Thomasania. So Sheila was off the hook.

Looking over the food, Thomasania proclaimed it “a very white spread. This is how white people cook.” I pointed out that I am white. Thomasania knows this already, but sometimes it is helpful to make a note. Over email, Darron had advised me not to serve carrot cake because it was too white. I passed this information along to Thomasania, who disagreed. I could have carrot cake, she said, but not only carrot cake: that was what was white. She claimed that Darron did not know this rule because of being a man. It is reassuring to discover that all the heavy-duty anti-essentialization education going on in our department has had such a profound effect.

In spite of all the warnings I had received about carrot cake, and in spite of the fact that the other choices included Amaretto brownies, lemon squares, olive bread, cream cheese and olive spread, celery, barbeque chips, and lemon-limeade, Darron and Thomasania ate nothing but carrot cake. Darron explained that he was having the carrot cake because it did not have raisins. I accepted this explanation. I am familiar with the system of making up the rules as you go along; in my family, it is pretty much the norm. Deanna did not make up any rules about food, possibly because she does not think about food all that much. Then again, I remember her telling me wistfully that she wished her family would call to ask her about things. Her family calls her every day; I know they ask her all about her life. “What things?” I asked. “Like what I had for dinner,” she said. This is not a topic I would ever ask about, myself. It is a sore point with my sister. There is nothing my sister likes to hear about more than what other people had for dinner. I know she would like to hear what Deanna had for dinner. I will tell her to call.

I don’t talk about food all that much, but I do think about it a lot. When Donna and I were planning the trip to Valley of the Gods, she had scads of great ideas for hikes, bike rides, and scenery viewing. None of my plans involved anything other than food. Not that all of my food plans were actual plans; some were more along the lines of fantasy.

Being stronger on action, Ivan did most of the actual grocery shopping, cooking, and cooler-packing. The danger you face in letting Ivan handle things like this is that he will figure out a way to buy new stuff as a result. Before he’d finished packing, Ivan had decided that we needed an additional cooler. I pointed out that we had used the one we have just three times. By the end of the trip, I was no longer in a strong position to argue for the single cooler concept. The only things I had packed were the lemon squares and brownies, which I put in plastic bags so that they would take up less room. There is a reason they ended up looking like square soup.

When we have people over for dinner, Ivan makes the main and side dishes. I do not have time to make the main dish or the vegetable side dishes. In my mind, I will be making salad, soup, two kinds of bread, and a couple of desserts, along with several hors d’oeuvres. I will also be busy cleaning the house, ironing the damask tablecloth, setting the table with Depression glassware, and creating a serene ambience that fools people into thinking that we live this way. I think of this as “expecting” to make bread and soup, iron the tablecloth, and so on, but what I really mean is “hoping.” “Expect” suggests that you have reason to believe it will happen. “Hope” means that you have no real reason to believe that it will happen but it would be great if it did.

Ed Buendía with Depression glassware and damask tablecloth
Ed Buendía with Depression glassware and damask tablecloth

Normally, I am the first to admit that fantasizing is not the same as planning. It is actually a point I would like to have get around more. Last spring, I was talking with a group of undergraduate students about what it means to teach in diverse classrooms. Although interested, most of the students were not too worried about the specifics. As one of them assured me, “Of course, I hope that what I am doing in the classroom works for everyone.” This is not really the same as having a pedagogy. Hope is nice, I explained, but hope is not a plan.

Nevertheless, hope is pretty much how I run my part of getting ready to have guests over for dinner. One night last summer while Judith and Ellen were here for the SROP program, Ivan and I had them over to dinner. I laid my usual hopes: there would be homemade soup, homemade breads, various intricate European-style desserts, and wonderful appetizers. Also, the table would be beautifully set and the house would be clean. As it turned out, there were appetizers, because Ivan made them, but we ate on a plastic table on the porch and there was no bread or soup. More importantly, there was no dessert. I saw a way to turn this failure to my advantage. “I’m afraid there is no dessert,” I told Ellen and Judith with false regret, adding, “It looks like you will have to move to Salt Lake City and come to graduate school so that you can return for dessert.”

Judith and Ellen were about to go home to Monterey Bay, but they told me that they would keep me apprised of any plans to return. Obviously I need a fair amount of warning to make dessert.

One of the things they will find when they come here — as they are bound to do; who turns down dessert? — is that graduate school is dessert. I mean this both metaphorically and literally.

The literal part of this has to do with food. Maybe this is not true elsewhere, but at ECS, events are supposed to include food, and friends and colleagues are expected to come from wherever they are, including California, to get it. A few months ago, when Deanna was talking with Tony, who is at UCLA, she invited him to dinner. It meant that he had to fly in, and he did. This is the kind of response we like and expect. It shows seriousness about your social life.
Tony Dunbar with Jade
Tony Dunbar with Jade
Deanna Blackwell with Jade
Deanna Blackwell with Jade

While putting together the ECS newsletter a few months ago, a student asked me if I had any photos of students and faculty she could use. “Sure I do,” I told her, “but not of anyone teaching or reading or writing or anything like that. All of the pictures are of people eating, drinking, or playing with Jade.”

“The thing is, we may need some up-to-date pictures,” she said. “I think it would be a good idea to meet at restaurants and coffee shops around town and have our pictures taken there.”

“So that you can eat while the pictures are being taken?” I asked.

“Of course,” she told me. There was never really any question.
Jay Garcia with Jade
Jay Garcia with Jade
Vianey Moreno with Jade
Vianey Moreno with Jade
Paulette Cross
Paulette Cross
Tracy Stevens
Tracy Stevens
David Quijada and Mary Ann Villarreal
David Quijada and Mary Ann Villarreal
Janet, Harvey, and Donna
Janet, Harvey, and Donna
Donna with Harley
Donna with Harley
Frank and Ivan
Frank and Ivan

When Ellen and I were in Montreal to do our paper together, we ate a lot but we did not have dessert. We did have afternoon tea, but I do not count that as dessert because I don’t want Ellen to have dessert in other towns. Dessert is for Salt Lake City. Dessert is a metaphor for graduate school.
Afternoon tea
Afternoon tea
Audrey and Ellen Correa
Audrey and Ellen Correa

If some people had their way, graduate school would be sushi. If some people had their way, everything would be sushi. When I was at Dominique’s house having dinner, she told her mother she was finished, adding meaningfully that she would not have finished quite so soon if it had been sushi. “Someone never makes me sushi,” she explained with deep significance. It occurred to her suddenly that someone could make herself sushi. She went off to collect the fixings.
Dominique and self-made sushi
Dominique and self-made sushi
Tamara, who failed to make the sushi
Tamara, who failed to make the sushi

I told Dominique, “I had better take pictures, because Ivan is not going to believe that you are having sushi instead of dessert.” She suggested that I take a lot of pictures. She wanted Ivan to believe. Ivan did not have any trouble believing. He thought that Dominique seemed like a very rational sort of person. I am the one who is having all the trouble. I do not really understand the mindset of people who have sushi instead of dessert.

Ivan himself believes in sushi and dessert.

Ivan takes the notion of graduate school as dessert perhaps a little too literally. It is not dessert every single day. One day he accompanied me to the office; I just had to run in for a few things, and I thought he might like to come and say hi to folks. When I asked him if he wanted to come in with me, he said, “No.” There was a pause. “Unless they would have chocolate?”

“Now, why would they give you chocolate just for coming into the office?” I asked him.

“Then I’m not coming,” he said. “There would be no point.”

Earlier this spring, Judith decided to come to Utah for her doctorate. She sent me an excited email. “I’m coming for dessert!” she wrote. Pointing out that she was giving me three months’ advance notice, she put in her order: strawberry cheesecake. I mulled this over. I am not absolutely sure that graduate school implies strawberry cheesecake. It has always seemed to me that graduate school is pie. But I made the strawberry cheesecake, and one thing you can say about cheesecake is you do have to leave room for it. It is not like having an after-dinner mint.

Judith Flores with strawberry cheesecake
Judith Flores with strawberry cheesecake

Metaphorically, graduate school is dessert because you have to leave room for all the extra stuff you will be reading and thinking about later, after you thought you were done. It is going to be great stuff and you would be unwise to fill up on Habermas and Hegel and Horkheimer and Heidegger when there is going to be a lot of stuff that doesn’t start with an H later on. Of course, things that seem to some people like dessert do not seem like dessert to other people. I once assigned a class a popular mainstream feminist book, mentioning that it was a fun read. One of the students came back to class outraged. “It was not a fun read,” she said. “Fun is a beach book.”

For some people, fun means not feminist. At her graduation party a few years ago, a student introduced me to her brother, a very nice man who had led something of a sheltered life. He was surprised to find out that feminists like chocolate. It came up because someone at the party was lamenting her lack of dietary discipline. “I can’t help it; I have to have dessert at least once a week,” the woman remarked.

“Really?” I said thoughtfully. I was surprised. It is hard to think of having dessert once a week as any kind of moral abandon. “I have chocolate every single day. Often several times a day. I don’t know if I would count that as dessert, though. I also have dessert most days.”

The brother looked at me in awe. “That is exactly how I feel myself,” he said. “And you’re a feminist?” he added, double checking.

Now, graduate school is not all chocolate. Nor is it all dessert. My point isn’t that you don’t need to read a lot of good-for-you stuff in graduate school; in graduate school you have to read a lot of stuff that is good and healthy for you, and some of it will taste good too. Some of it, on the other hand, will not taste so good. You will probably think to yourself more than once, “This had better be good for me because it is about as far from dessert as you can get.” At least most of what you read will not be as bad as The Pilgrim’s Progress, not that that’s saying much. Some of it will be pretty bad. You may want to read The Pilgrim’s Progress first, just for a point of comparison. In case I am being needlessly subtle, The Pilgrim’s Progress is my nomination for worst-ever book. I am only counting the books I have actually gotten through. I do not count a book if I couldn’t finish it. For all I know, those books got a lot better later, though I doubt it.

In order to compare complaints scientifically, I recently sent out emails to randomly selected friends, family, colleagues, and students asking for their nominations for the worst book that they had ever made it all the way through. It was a simple survey without a lot of complicated bubbles to fill in. Despite follow-up duns, I got only a few responses. Later I made up a complicated survey, because those are more scientific. I am very proud of my survey. It is too late to use it for this report, but there is no sense in wasting it.

Among the nominees were Kris Neville’s The Mutants, East of Eden, by John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, anything at all written by Thomas Pynchon, John Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks, In My Father’s House, by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Ernest Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa, Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, the collected works of Auguste Comte, Nemesis, by Isaac Asimov, and Stephen Baxter’s Manifold Time and Manifold Earth, with the strong suspicion that Manifold Anything was going to be bad news, along with anything else by Stephen Baxter except for Ring. It is not clear in the data whether Ring is a good book or only a good book for Stephen Baxter.

There were a couple of half-hearted gestures made at nominating most books by Steinbeck, with a sentimental exception made for Travels with Charley, and anything by Michael Crichton, with the understanding that at least with Crichton you “never get that bloated, gassy feeling brought on by some of the ’heavier’ writers.” One nomination was sent in for an academic text that the reader didn’t much like. Self-help books that are of no help were lamented. All of these nominations lacked the brimming, resentful passion required for authentic nominations, and I am not counting them. Worst-ever books are not merely books that one hates, let alone dislikes. It is impossible not to dislike a book a month. A worst-ever book is a book that you almost want other people to read, just so they can understand how unbelievably bad it really is.

The most authentic nominations seethed with resentful details. Sometimes a grudge is born when you are expecting Fitzgerald and you have Dreiser thrust upon you. Sometimes the reader burns with resentment because the lectures being foisted on strangers in the guise of dialogue are pomposities that could only be forgiven by loving intimates bribed with whisky. Resentful readers seek out hostile reviews to corroborate their annoyance.

Authentic, brimming resentment was strongly in evidence in a couple of nominations that lacked titles. Matt Jackson did not like my category of books one has actually read. “What if you didn’t read it because you didn’t want to read it, but still had to hear all about it anyway?” he demanded. He is in a book club in which everyone vetoed reading some science fiction book involving the future and ice floes, but the man who wanted them to read it insisted on giving them a lengthy report on it regardless. Matt said that there should be a category for books like that. Any scientific survey would have to ask, “What is the worst book that you never read, didn’t want to read, and somebody reviewed that you didn’t want to have reviewed?” You can see why the makers of scientific surveys always use those bubbles. Otherwise, you get people quarreling with the survey.

Matt Jackson
Matt Jackson

My sister wrote back a quarrelsome email saying that it would be much better to ask about films because people watch bad films all the way through when they would never finish a book that was that bad. She herself did not even finish The Red Badge of Courage, although it was required in high school and was on the test. If the rules did not specify books that one had finished, she pointed out, she could nominate that. I wouldn’t have counted it anyway, though; her dislike of The Red Badge of Courage lacked conviction. What she felt strongly about were foreign films using a cinéma vérité technique. Personally, I don’t think you need to go to any foreign country to talk about the worst cinéma vérité movie, when there is Woody Allen’s ghastly Husbands and Wives just begging to be considered, but of course I would not dream of intruding my own opinions, what with this being a scientific survey. Barb’s view was that any book approximating cinéma vérité could be a contender for worst book. “There was one that was so verite in its cinema that I got to hear every forced breath as a woman crossed the street . . . and there was never anything of interest on the other side of the street. Is there any book that describes in bitter detail the laborious breathing of characters as they make their way through every banal episode of a given day? Then that is the book I most detest.” I am prepared to count hypothetical worst books, provided that the nomination demonstrates the requisite degree of intense resentment.

Barb with Annika
Barb with Annika, who did not nominate a book but whose longstanding
most-hated book is Girl of the Limberlost

Most of the people I surveyed said that they did not finish bad books except when required to for school, in which case they blanked them out as soon as they could. The exceptions were Ivan, Joe, Chuck, Steve Preskill, Georgia Johnson, Jay Hart, and Matt Birkhold. As you will gather, if you make a careful comparison of the voters with the book nominations, most of those surveyed did not confine themselves to one book. When asked about the worst book ever, they found it hard to pin things down. There were too many top-notch contenders.
Georgia
Georgia
Steve and Ivan
Steve and Ivan
Jay Hart
Jay Hart
Matt Birkhold (holding dessert)
Matt Birkhold (holding dessert)
Chuck and Joe
Chuck and Joe

There is an important question here regarding who finishes bad books and what they do with them afterwards. When a friend recommended Marabel Morgan’s The Total Woman to my mother, she bought a copy and read it in bed that night. After one chapter, she threw the book across the room, waking up Dad, which is not one of the things that the book recommends. Wilfred Samuels has told me that he would never destroy or even get rid of a book, no matter how bad it was; my mother, on the other hand, does not draw the line at violence towards books she so much as suspects might be offensive. When I was twenty, she found a paperback in my room called Mothers and Daughters, Daughters and Mothers. I forget what the equally wordy subtitle was, but it was something along the lines of “Exploring your relationship with one of the most important people in your life in order to find out what works and what doesn’t, why things happen, what they mean, how to flourish together, and how to live happily ever after.” There wasn’t room for a lot more words on the cover, but my mother managed to squeeze in a “Ha!” in ballpoint ink.

Some people finish bad books out of stamina and moral determination. Some read them out of guilt or duty, others out of misplaced hope and optimism. Sometimes a person will read a bad book figuring it can’t be all that bad if it was written by an author they love. Others don’t really mind a bad book, as long as it is bad enough. I read impenetrable excerpts from Laura Riding Jackson on an almost daily basis for a while; I took an unquenchable delight in her prose (I never tried her poetry) and could read the same passages over and over. But obscurity is not for every reader of bad books. Some people can tolerate pretentiousness but not opacity. A few collect cliché-ridden prose, which they pore over with the avidity of the literary vigilante.

Some stubborn readers of bad prose are just too young to know better. Ivan got all the way through The Mutants only because when he was in high school “I couldn’t imagine not finishing a book.” After he finished The Mutants, his innocence was at an end. He threw the book in the garbage, even though “that was when I still considered books as sacred objects; once you had them, you had a moral obligation to keep them forever.” Obviously, if he had read The Pilgrim’s Progress, he would have known better. No one but me nominated The Pilgrim’s Progress as the worst book ever. That didn’t really surprise me. Probably they didn’t make it all the way through, like I did.

I read The Pilgrim’s Progress voluntarily in high school. Voluntarily, but with a kind of hopeless despair, a sense that this was my fate and there was no escaping it. I may not have known how to pronounce “slough of despond,” but no one knew better than I what it meant. Next I read Adam Bede. Mr. Fox, my English teacher, was certain that Adam Bede would be worse than The Pilgrim’s Progress. He had never read either book; he said that life was too short. He was in his thirties. Now that I am in my forties, I know what he meant, but at sixteen it made no sense at all. Still, he was wrong about Adam Bede. I liked Adam Bede. I liked it a whole lot better than The Pilgrim’s Progress. But you would have to read them both, to understand. If you are already in your forties, I don’t recommend doing so. As Anne Lamott’s friend told her, “Honey, you don’t have that kind of time.”

John Dewey did not appear in the results from my survey. Oddly enough, there were hardly any academics on the list. Normally, academics are at the top of people’s list of bad writers, and Dewey is often at the top of the top. Personally, I like Dewey, but many people find him boring. Dewey is very good for you, and you may or may not enjoy him, but he is not dessert by a long shot. One time Mike Hayes came to class all aglow. We waited to hear what was up. “Dewey made a joke!” he said. “Look, right here, on page . . . .” We all looked at the page. We pointed out that it was not a funny joke. Most of us had not even noticed that it was a joke at all. “It doesn’t matter that it’s not funny,” Mike said earnestly. “The point is, he’s trying.”

What I am calling graduate school dessert is not any particular group of writers but the “wow” feeling you get when you have had a good meal and then, just when you thought things were going well, they get even better: there are raspberries with crème anglaise for dessert. You begin to revisit the dinner, wondering if you shouldn’t have been warned about saving room for dessert. You ask yourself if you couldn’t just have started the meal with the raspberries and crème anglaise, being sure, of course, to leave room for dinner. If you were to start with Myles Horton, you could still always save room for Dewey.

The point about dessert is not that Horton isn’t just as good for you as Dewey; it’s that the leading-up-to is part of the surprise. For some people, Horton is the meal, not the dessert. But they will come to something else, and that will be the dessert. Just when they thought they were truly satisfied, they find out that they have to make room for something too good to pass up.

It is helpful to remember that graduate school is, metaphorically, dessert because there isn’t that much time to make any actual desserts. When Amir and Farah came over, Amir asked which desserts were homemade, because those were the ones he was going to have. Farah never makes him homemade desserts anymore, he said. She advised him that it could be a while; he might be wise to have more than one apple harvest square.
Amir and Farah
Amir and Farah
Desserts

In my department, people will come to anything if you promise them lunch. The faculty, usually having forgotten to bring lunch, are especially likely to come. Marty is better prepared. He brings his lunch. One day a few years ago I overheard him ask whether “Bryan and them” (meaning faculty) were out of the meeting room so that he, Jay, Nola, and Vianey could use it for lunch. Unwisely, I complained that I hadn’t been invited to join them for lunch.

You’re supposed to take Jay and me out to lunch!” Marty retorted. I always take them out to a belated lunch for Secretaries’ Day — usually in June, though a lot earlier in June than this was.

“Oh, that’s right,” I said, “I need to take you guys out for lunch for Secretaries’ Day, don’t I?”

“Yes,” said Marty. “You owe us lunch.”

“Isn’t ‘owe’ a little strong?” I asked. “It’s supposed to be a gift.”

“Well,” Jay pointed out, “you didn’t give us a gift, so now you owe us lunch.”

Needless to say, lunch came with dessert.

Jay and Marty before they started in on my dessert
Jay and Marty before they started in on my dessert

It is easier to work off dessert if you engage in a sport or two. Many people in our department engage in a sport or three. Most people ski, some swim or bike, some run, some do yoga, some play basketball, some hike. Octavio and Charise had a softball wedding reception. Some of us run for the bus.
Donna and Frank biking in the Valley of the Gods
Donna and Frank biking in the Valley of the Gods
David, Gina, Donna, and Sandra hiking near Brighton
David, Gina, Donna, and Sandra hiking near Brighton
Gina and David at Dog Lake
Gina and David at Dog Lake
Frank and Gina near Lake Mary
Frank and Gina near Lake Mary
Donna and Sandra at Lake Catherine
Donna and Sandra at Lake Catherine

As far as I know, no one in the department plays badminton. I mention this because the bed and breakfast owners in the Valley of the Gods told us about some tourists who stopped their car in the dirt road outside the inn to play badminton. They set up a badminton net right there in the road, in front of the front gate, and proceeded to play, getting in the way of traffic; they were profoundly disgruntled when asked to close down operations because no cars could get through. Frank did not seem to find this story all that odd; he says that the desert makes people do strange things. But it is not just a question of being surreal. It is surreal to play badminton outside someone’s gate in the middle of a dirt road in the desert, yes, but that is not the point. The point is, people who play badminton under these conditions are not just acting on a whim. To act on that kind of whim, you have to come prepared.

Prime badminton turf
Prime badminton turf

Although a great place, the desert is not a good place to get dessert, especially if you had in mind raspberries with crème anglaise. In the Valley of the Gods, it is an eleven-mile round trip to Mexican Hat just to get water; while you are there you might pick up a couple of Carmello bars, but not crème anglaise.
Desert flowers
Prickly pear Wild life
The Mexican Hat

Judith and Ellen do not like the desert much, so we are sticking with dessert as our theme.

When Ellen comes to Salt Lake, there is going to be a lovely dessert and a great big welcome from all of us. I will be second in line to greet her. You may think I mean second in line behind Judith, and Judith may think I mean behind Judith, but what I really mean is second in line behind Gaston, who is head of the welcoming committee. With Gaston in charge, it is frankly hard to get in line at all. He likes to run the welcome committee all by himself so that he can have all the kisses.
Gaston greets Sandra Buendía
Gaston greets Sandra Buendía Gaston greets Sandra Buendía

The aloofness of cats has been greatly exaggerated.

To my teachers,
especially
Miss Doris Rushton (Ecolint)
Mr. Robert Shade (Ecolint)
Mr. Jim Fox (IVCHS)
Dr. Ralph Page (UIUC)

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