Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Project B.S.E. - Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

While I was off getting my nerd on in Calgary, Tim and the kids were having a great time of their own.

 These pictures were taken when Tim took the kids to Bridal Veil Falls. He brought along a waterproof film camera (which technology baffled the kids, I'm sure.)

 Inveterate poser. She just can't stop herself.

 Zack's machine-pitch team finished its season while I was gone. I don't think Zack will miss it much.
 Brad went on the Pioneer Trek and when he came home, Tim noticed how tan Brad had gotten. And then Brad showered and came out as pale as he normally is...yeah, that's a lot of dirt on one kid.
 The night Ryan and I were heading home, Tim took the kids out to dinner at Outback Steakhouse to celebrate surviving a whole week of watching the kids single-handedly. And also because there was leftover funny money from the stash I had given Tim for the week. They all deserved it, in my book.

We got home while Tim and the kids were still gone, which, I have to say, makes for a very gentle re-entry. Coming home and adjusting to the chaos, noise, and constant barrage of requests is one of the hardest parts of a trip without kids. We made it a little easier on ourselves by Skyping with the kids a few times during the week. One night (maybe Friday?) Noah asked me via Skype where the pizza cutter was. I could be 1,000 miles away, and there could be a responsible adult not only in the same state but also in the very same room, and kids will still ask their mothers to do things for them. Hilarious. Overall, Ryan and I had a fantastic trip and some excellent marriage-strengthening alone time, the kids had a blast with their uncle Tim, and Tim got a serious lesson in the importance of birth control. (Darcey woke up 5 times a night many of the nights we were gone. Tim would wake up to see her looming over his face and it scared the garbage out of him. I find this absolutely hysterical. Also, I told Tim this explains why I've been in a bad mood for the last 14 years: lack of sleep. He seems to really get me now.)

Project B.S.E. - Week Four, MHA conference

So the ultimate purpose of our trip to Calgary was for me to attend the Mormon History Association conference. I've been researching Eve in Mormon thought for my UVU professor, starting with the Woman's Exponent, a women's newspaper published in Utah from 1872-1914. (I've recently moved on  researching Eve in women's poetry, which is quite interesting in itself.) Anyhow, my professor was presenting a paper at the MHA conference based in part on my research, so I was able to use money from a research fellowship to go to Calgary, attend the conference, and get to know people in the Mormon history community. I'm glad I had a purpose for being at the conference, albeit a minor one, because sitting in rooms with these really impressive scholars was intimidating enough. At least I had some coattails to ride.

From what I could tell, the main purpose of conferences such as this one was to provide an excuse for all of these scholars to be in the same room and talk shop. The socializing factor was major. The whole weekend could have felt like a giant clique that I wasn't a part of, but everyone I met was welcoming and inclusive and friendly. On Friday night there was a student reception, and that's when I felt most in my element--a room full of people who were mostly my age, balancing family and school, although they were working on masters and doctorates and it was possible that I was the lone undergraduate. Still, it was a lively gathering and I talked to lots of super interesting people.

The rest of the weekend was the same - chatting before and after sessions with fellow Mormon history fans, hearing the breadth of topics that interest people enough for them to devote their livelihoods and/or spare time to studying, watching people delve into the intricate details of seemingly simple subjects with a boundless enthusiasm. It spoke to my soul, really, sitting in these presentations, talking to scholars; it made me say, over and over, I want to be just like these people when I grow up. I've always had as a goal of mine to be an expert in something (actually, the wording of the goal is "I want to be such an expert about something that they'd mention me in a Jeopardy question." I will now append that to include "or interview me on Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me.")  Now I've narrowed down my potential area of focus. Mormon studies is a great field because it is just beginning to experience serious growth and there is so much interesting research that has yet to be done.  Surely I can carve a niche in this field somewhere.

I attended a breakfast for people interested in Mormon women's history. The person leading the presentation at the breakfast asked for all the undergraduate attendees to stand, and I was halfway out of my chair before I realized that no one else was standing up. So I quickly sat down, but since I was two seats away from the microphone, the presenter called me by name and made kind of a big deal of me being there. She had me stand up, so I did, but I knocked my plate into my glass at the same time so there was really no missing me in that room. I was more than a little embarrassed, but by then I felt comfortable with my place at the conference so it wasn't completely mortifying. I have a feeling that next year's conference, in Layton, Utah, will have a lot more undergraduates and non-scholars attending and I won't stand out quite so much.

My dad requested my notes from the presentations at MHA, so here they are, in all their unedited glory. They are fairly piecemeal, due to a few factors: 1) Papers are harder to paraphrase than lectures or speeches, 2) I wanted to enjoy the presentations and not be stressed out by extremely detailed note-taking, and 3) Typing on the iPad is freaking hard. I'm getting better at it, but if anyone (say, my dad) wants more detailed notes (say, at Education Week) then maybe he wants to bring me his wireless keyboard to use (hint, hint.) Or something like that.

**Please keep in mind that these are merely my notes, they may only slightly resemble the actual things these speakers said, but I've done the best I can.**

"The Transfer of Mormon Culture to Southern Alberta" by Lynn Rosenvall

80,000 members in Alberta - more mormons attend church than any other denomination. 22 YA wards in the area, 3 temples.

Transfer of Mormon culture - Calgary stampede/rodeo transferred from Utah, including signature white cowboy hats. Two religions transferred from Utah: mormonism and basketball.

Things that prevent culture from transferring: borders and weather.

First settlements in Nevada/Idaho thought they were in Utah, until borders were surveyed. Joke about man upon being told his property was actually in Montana, said, "I couldn't handle another Canadian winter!"

Borders change things. Church president doesn't sign checks in Canada, that was Bro. Rosenvall's job. Excess tithing/funds can't be sent back to mother church. Canadians raised $250K in special fast for Ethiopia, couldn't give money to Salt Lake so decided w/1st Pres. to send it to Canadian Red Cross. Money was matched twice by Canadian govt and they ended up sending $1 million.

Broker has to handle moving pews, podiums, songbooks, folding chairs, etc from US to Canada - all the transferring of physical culture takes great effort.

Straight line borders (like 49th parallel) show that the person who decided border had no idea what he was doing. A lot of LDS residents have dual citizenship.

Weather:  have to be brave to live through these winters. One sign of bravery is to not talk about winter. Average year-round temperature is lower than your refrigerator, can go down to zero any day of the year.

Seeds that you bring from another climate don't work. Wheat seed had to be sent from Russia and cattle from Europe when first LDS settlers came. Agriculture says that Book of Mormon settlers had to go to Baja, California because their Israelite seeds worked--they have a similar climate.

History: Charles Card not first LDS in Alberta - railway workers were. Canadian railway built in 1880's, pre-Cardston, aided by LDS workers, brought their families, good at organizing and hard workers. Calgary exists because railway came through town.

Many settlers stayed because of Cardston temple (although many left because of the weather.) It's the 6th oldest, 8th largest temple. 101,000 visitors to open house before rededication - not that many people live within 150 miles of the temple.  Site for Calgary temple bought in 1980 along with 5 chapel lots, had to wait for city to grow out to meet land before it could be built.

22 YA wards because BYU capped enrollment, LDS youth stay in Alberta - Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge becomes BYU of Canada, other canadian parents send kids to Alberta because church is strong there.

"Redeemed from the Curse Placed Upon Her: Dialogic Discourse on Eve in the Woman's Exponent" by Boyd Petersen

Virginia Woolf said women need freedom to write (room and money of their own) otherwise they are a looking glass reflecting what men want to see.

Mormon women were seen as slaved, victims, enslaved harems, but in Woman's Exponent, polygamy was seen as way to freedom.

Eve views are diverse. Current views laud her, 19th century men saw Eve as deceived but it worked out anyhow. Brigham Young reaffirmed regressive Eve views, Eve partook not to fulfill destiny but because she was deceived.

W.E. views:
-women helpmeet for man, not to usurp man's place but to assist him
-Eve will be @ head of a world
-only women emphasized Eve as a goddess
-toil not mentioned in Eve's curse
-Eve as a model for women
-polygamy offered all women opportunity to have children, fulfill multiply & replenish commandment
- Exponent didn't offer anti-polygamy views but did report anti-polygamy legislation
-Eve may be only wife of Adam on this earth, but maybe he had other wives on other earths
-curse of Eve - birth pains, desire to her husband, he will rule over her. Labor thought to remove curse, through hard work and grace. Brigham Young taught men could remove curse by turning Utah into Eden, said women must bear curse with patience.
-Is curse never to be removed?
-equality will be ultimate redemption. Woman suffrage seen as redemption.
-curse might be removed by living polygamy (trial=redemption model), focus on desire to husband that she is sharing/jealousy part of the curse, having to overcome insecurities, trials.

"From Lu Dalton to Stephenie Meyer: Dream Inspiration Among LDS Women Writers" by Susanna Morrill

Meyers is one of long line of women dreamers.
Lucy Mack Smith interacted with dreams w/in protestant religious tradition

Dream practices of 1870-1920's fall into several categories
1. Personal Prophetic
--marriage dreams, saw future husband
--death-of loved ones, children
--immediately applicable - help with math problem, finding a body
--help with specific religious question--seeing Joseph Smith, Jesus
2. Community Prophetic
--important happenings in church
--apocalyptic dreams
3. General Assurance
--religious path is correct
4. Instructive/Prescriptive
--an action they needed to take/avoid (have a baby)
--temple work for an ancestor
5. Uncategorized
--religious dreams with confusion about meaning

Repeated patterns of meaning--way to reach spirit world. Liminal space, personal interior between dreamer and spirit world.
Women spoke in tongues, prophetic gifts of women, gift of revelation: deflected authority, authority was indirect, safe behavior, neither speaker or mouth claimed prophetic authority.
As tongues waned, women could receive revelation through dreams. Dreamers needed interpreters to make dreams important. Literature becomes interpreter, communicated religious ideas in a safe way.

"Conversations with God: Revelation and agency", women's conversations with god, Lisa Olsen

Ability to receive and act on personal revelation...quote by Julie beck
But do we really believe it?
Idea is that women meekly obey. Doesn't take into account personal revelation. 

Terryl givens in hand of Mormon, shows difference between asking vs asking for

Agency is usually only examined in agency as resistance. Agency can also be used in reproduction of social structure, in supporting patriarchal structure, etc. 

Self interpretive revelation. Women decide what their own revelation means.

"Relief Society: Perspectives on Daughters in My Kingdom" by Taunalyn Rutherford

Julie beck, women need to know their history of rs. Not intended as full history, should be used as a missionary tool, written as message based not chronological.

History in curriculum, organized chronologically
Women in curriculum, church usually has womenless history. 

Last chapters are weakest, not willing to explore 1969-present.
Difference between ideal and real experience about priesthood authority and women's autonomy. 
Chapters 8-10 avoid talking about controversial topics and drop women's voices and instead have male church leaders speaking.
Chapter eight, equality brought up and women are reassured about their equality, which shows that it's an issue.

Is there a blessing in giving priesthood blessings, rather than just receiving them?
Are women given enough opportunities to serve, have influence? Is the lack of priesthood really the issue?

Chapter nine guardians of the hearth
Why spend a whole chapter on that topic in a history book?

"Monstrous Notions: Polygamy Controversies of the 1780's" by Sarah pearsall 

1780 controversy in England
Polygamy and reform of marriage law a huge issue at the time. A book was written pro polygamy, called thelyphthora, or a treatise on female ruin by Martin madan. He wanted to prevent female ruin. He proposed that a man should consider himself married to any woman he had sex with. He did not suggest men should control themselves, or that the church could make a marriage more one flesh--more than one wife would make men not have to consort with prostitutes.

Argued against polyandry because women were inferior to men, needed a husband to guide her, and social confusion would arise since women propagate the familial line.

Many people agreed with his analysis of the social problem of sexual disorder, prostitution, stds, etc, but couldn't agree with his solution. Some arguments against him brought up misogynistic arguments, making wives violent and sexually voracious. Assumed women would attack each other if they were forced to share a husband. 

Female debating society in 1780 was part of increase of women's participation of public life. One man said that no woman with morality or common decency would stand in front of people and debate. 

"Polygamy and divorce: Another Look at Udney Hay Jacob, The Peacemaker." - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Jacob approached a man, handing out pamphlets called the peacemaker, called himself Elijah, said he'd turn the hearts of the children to the fathers, via polygamy.
Book called the peacemaker by udney hay Jacob. Printed in nauvoo but Joseph smith disavowed it. Jacob believed that the bible had a argument for polygamy, but he wasn't trying to protect women, but he was fearing women's growing power. Women were still property, but he could see that society was changing. He despised abolitionists, because he was afraid of cultural shift, like companionate marriage and things that softened hierarchical patterns of the family. 

Lords of creation, originally meant as white men, but became a sardonic mocking phrase feminists used. 

Argued that eve enslaved Adam. 
Marriage is a double headed monster that pulls separate ways, he says, someone has to be in charge. Reinstitute polygamy and give man the sole power to instigate divorce. 

Western states like Illinois had liberal divorce law. Abraham Lincoln had a lively divorce practice. 2/3 of plaintiffs in divorce (in illinois?) were women. This is wrong, Jacob thought, because men married but women were given in marriage. Sole ground of divorce would be the wife's unwillingness to obey and if she wouldn't he was justified putting her away.

Currier and Ives print, the seven stages of matrimony.

Jacobs was accurately describing the problems in the world, the more frequent divorces. Of course there's very little proof that women got divorced easily.
Divorce actually reinforced gender norms, because women had to prove she had held up her side of the contract of dutiful wife and document her husbands desertion. Women with independent income or had extended family support were the most likely to divorce, otherwise it's too hard. Divorce was still quite uncommon.

Jacob abandoned his wife and ran off to winter quarters, took a plural wife who left him, then wandered around and ended up in Utah, tried to take a third wife, died in 1860. Wife ended up raising kids in pilot grove Illinois and the descendants largely forgot the man who called himself Elijah, wanting to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers.

"the Blackfoot, the dept of Indian affairs, and the 1890s confrontation over polygamy in southern Alberta." by Sarah Carter

Several models of marriage existed in western Canada, imposing monogamy was a problem. 1885 first nations chiefs had multiple wives. Laws to outlaw polygamy caused problems, because which wife is kept, who is abandoned. It was wrong to some ministers to force wives to be abandoned, children.

1877 treaty, put first nations on reserves. Govt knew about polygamy. Any legislation would involve difficulties, so had no intervention. Until Mormons arrived. Mormons asked to bring multiple wives but govt said no. Canadian law had to be amended to prohibit Mormon polygamy, but a wide net was cast around anyone who practiced polygamy. 

DIA didn't know how to stop polygamy among first nations. Took a census of polygamous relationships on reserves. Started to take dramatic action against first nations, removing new wives and putting them in a compulsory school. Eventually the govt found Bear Shinbone guilty of polygamy but not sentenced, told to get rid of extra wives. It didn't necessarily fix the problem, but eventually they enforced monogamy

Plenary session, Joseph smith papers project

Most people who buy book, visit website are educated Mormons who are not scholars, challenge in creating book for diverse audience. 

Marlin k Jensen, the single most important historical project of our generation. Creates a comprehensive corpus of josephs papers. Documentary editing, locates all documents, transcribe and verify the texts, annotate and publish the texts, to make the sources more widely available, preserve the manuscripts from loss, provide resources for studying early American life.
Modeled after other papers projects founding fathers. 

Richard bushman

How will these papers impact our view of the life of Joseph smith? 

Latter day sAints should not shake in fear that somewhere in a dark corner is a fact that will destroy their belief. 

Saturday sessions

Tanner lecture, "The Latter Day Saints, The "Doughnut" and Post-Christian Canada" by David Marshall

Tim Horton a hockey player, Toronto maple leafs, the donut a Canadian history

"No religion" is the third largest religion in Canada, after Catholics and all Protestants. People who are disillusioned with traditional church, who think church impedes spiritual growth, on their own spiritual quest thru personal reflection not thru priests, clergy, church. Reject creeds and bible, but read other books, more popular books etc. 

Rodney stark, sociologist, Mormons in Canada need to look to the places with a large number of no religion. Are they the fertile soil? Or do they represent the trend of secularization? They look to themselves for authority not the church. God isnt a being or person, he's an impersonal force or something inside. Jesus was a man, prophet, teacher, son of god, maybe, died on cross sure, resurrected, not sure.

Secularization can happen within churches, can be spiritual not religious, have doubts about possibility of miraculous, supernatural, eat away at the kernel of religion. Losing supernatural means a great deal has been lost. Some people think SBNR people is a new religious revival, religion is vibrant but outside the church, but it looks like its more secularization. Is this bad? We won't know until we see how they turn out, what do their children do, choose religion or no?
A lot of people in the churches are sbnr, they don't attend church very often but still for some reason identify with a faith. 1960s 60% attendance, now 23% church attendance , especially low for mainstream Protestants. 

Charter of rights and freedoms, 1982 document outlining fundamental freedoms to be enjoyed by all Canadians. There was no bill of rights before. By end of ww2 it was clear that parliament wasn't protecting rights, for example Japanese internment camps. Minority rights not being protected. In Quebec, Jehovah's witnesses were barred from assembling, bars and restaurants owned by jw were padlocked by govt to prevent jw from assembling. Canada in 1944 instituted flag assemblies in the morning in school, jw can't pledge allegiance, govt took kids from their families and put them in foster homes because parents weren't putting kids in school. 

Govt Trudeau insisted in separation of church and state, became prime minister and instituted charter of rights and freedoms. Trudeau didn't want god mentioned in preamble. He lost but the question is, does it matter if god is in there?

This document is the most important event in Canadian religious history. 

Legislation since 1906 prevented transactions on Sunday. Supreme court struck it down, because it was based on the assumption that people are Christian so its biased or coercive, denies people freedom to do what they want on Sunday.

Religious exercises in schools couldn't happen, put undue pressure on individuals. Even though they weren't mandatory, parents had to go to school to remove kid, so they were declaring a faith and that was unconstitutional. 

Holding bible study in school was unconstitutional. All schools were to be secular. Secular was by definition neutral. Religious people (Hindu, Muslim, orthodox Jews, etc) said secular was as religious as religious schools were. Asked for funding for religious schools. State said no, said secular is neutral, but go ahead and build your own schools, no funding from us.

State said holiday breaks were coincidental not religious, removed religious element from Christmas and Easter. Forced the schools to remove Christmas celebration from school year, now winter fest etc. 

After 9/11 a vigil was held, state said all clergy could be present but no prayers could be said, no creeds recited, absolutely no mention of god. 

Religion must be private only. Beliefs can't be separated from public life, though, from dress and behavior etc. 

Supreme court said indirect discrimination : applied generally with no intent to discriminate against a minority, but ends up being discriminatory. Like businesses being closed on Sunday, discriminates against Jews.

Sikh who wants to be a mountie, wear a turban, court decided that it's a reasonable accommodation to wear a turban. Next reasonable accommodation was allowed to wear ceremonial sword to school, then require prayer rooms at schools.

Suggestion to stop the craziness is to invite religion back into public sphere. Teach about religions that surround them. Unless we do this, all the religions are going to be ghettoized and there will be more confusion etc. we cannot separate religion for public sphere. If we keep it separate it will cause problems. Bouchard Taylor recommendations say to bring religion back, will create tolerance thru knowledge of each others beliefs. Don't teach one religion, promote one religion, embrace them in public life.

"Material Encounters with Spiritual Legacy: Cooking , Trekking and Crafting Mormonism"

"Learning to Play with Fire: 100 Years of Cooking at Girls Camp" by Kate Holbrook

Domesticity was a way to broaden women's participation in the world
woman's role in the home is more about the immediate family today instead of the world. 

1934--the challenge of leisure is here. The Mia must meet it!
Purpose was joy, rest, recreation and companionship in beautiful circumstances.
Polly Reynolds said the bigness of woman's place in the world is through the home.
Ann cannon always spoke of mutual as mutual improvement. Created system of goals, 800 ways to meet those goals.
1915 beehive girls - 14 and older. 1929 12 and 14 year olds called nymphs but not in program. By 1950 beehives are 12-14. 
Purpose of camp to develop our womanhood.
Inspired by a book about bees by mederlink, bees and queen bees, thats why they are beehives.

Like mother nature herself the camp should have a mother heart, gathering all ones into the happy shelter of their friendly home

Went from being goal oriented and fun to gospel oriented
Change due to international increase in membership
80% of women surveyed received their testimonies at camp in sociological survey. 

"We Baked a Lot of Bread: Reconceptualizing Mormon Women and Ritual Objects" by Kristine Wright

Women spent thousands of hours making crocheted items for the San Antonio temple. Had spiritual experiences, dreams, etc.
Things help us create belief. Ritual objects can be evidence of what believers do with material things.
The body is the site of religion so doing things creates religion. 
Bread important part of sacrament service. Production of sacrament bread creates sacred space in kitchen. Sacramental meals and food practices enables women to have power in families and communities. 
One woman baked her best bread, sliced off crust, placed on special crystal plates covered in linen towel. 
Women used to prepare sacramental table as it never appeared on list of priesthood duties until 1936. Cleaning table, linens, trays, etc were women's roles. Women frequently funded the purchase of tablecloths and silver pitchers and two handed sacrament cups. Young women in 1943 washed and sterilized the sacramental service items. Replacing glass cups with paper ended dishwashing and woman's part in sacramental service.

Clothing changes the person-- clothing becomes the body, is essential to life cycle rituals. Design, construction, manufacturing process of sacred cloth, for clothing or temple veils etc. women made garments for men, it bound women to the ordinances they were part of. Jane manning James had a mystical experience while doing the laundry on her first day as Joseph's servant. 

Sewing has often been a communal activity. Quilting, weaving rugs for temple was community. Dressing of the dead was a shared activity. Creating sacred clothing became a solitary activity, though, and couldn't embroider or sew in relief society meetings. Sacred textile work remained women's role until manufacturing became more factory based. Garments were done at many different factories but then it was centralized. Women were responsible for the design of garment patterns. 

Religious value of baking, washing, etc. this is how belief is embodied and created. The creation of a sacred object and using it creates a matrix that creates belief.

Project B.S.E. Week Four - Thursday

Today we joined the Mormon History Association for their guided tour of Banff and Lake Louise. It was a pricey tour, but somehow when I was signing up for this trip it didn't occur to me that if a bus could get to Banff from Calgary, so could our car, and for a heck of a lot cheaper. However, we were both pretty tired of driving and the one thing our car didn't have was 40 random strangers talking about Mormon history. So the tour was a good choice...for me, anyway.

One point I should mention about this tour. Ryan and I were the last people to arrive at the bus in the morning (my fault, or maybe I should blame Facebook for being so darn interesting...okay, okay, my fault) so when we got on the bus it was full and the only open seats were in the back. As we worked our way past I realized that we were the youngest people on the bus by a good 15-20 years. It was...uncomfortable. Not that there is anything wrong with hanging out with people my parents' age, but I felt conspicuously different and I really do not like that feeling. I prefer some social camouflage, a little bit of wallflowerness and not the shining spotlight of uniqueness. They were all very, very nice people and made me feel included the whole weekend, but I felt a little out of place. And that first walk down the long, long aisle to the back of the bus took forever.

The drive to Banff was an hour and a half, but it went quickly with the bus driver's narration. Have I mentioned how much I love random trivia? I so want to be a tour guide when I grow up. The bus driver would just ramble about the different things that he saw out the window, so we learned about the summer uses of the Olympic ski jumps, the construction of the Trans-Canadian Highway, animal rights in national parks, etc. It was more interesting than I'm making it sound.

We got to Banff and took a gondola ride to a vantage point that overlooks the town. It was pretty. These are the views from the observation deck.

Standing on the observation deck and taking these pictures, I felt a soft fuzzy feeling on my right foot. I looked down and saw a chipmunk running away and all of the other tourists staring at my feet. Even though the offending chipmunk was long gone, I still jumped when I realized that the chipmunk, three seconds ago, had actually been touching my skin. Blargh. I like my nature encounters to take place at arm's length, or better yet, on tv.
We got an official tour guide in Banff, and he explained that the red trees you see are trees that have been attacked by some kind of insect. There is no way to detect the bugs' presence until the tree turns red, and by then the tree is already dead. Kind of takes the fun out of a colorful-tree-spotting experience.

After the gondola ride, we went into town for lunch at a restaurant. We sat next to a man and his son - the son was in his 50's, my guess, and the dad maybe 70's? The dad had written several books and articles for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and the son was, I think, on the MHA board but not a Mormon scholar. They were interesting to talk to, although here is the absolute most hilarious thing about the entire MHA trip: the son, after chatting with me about my research and scholarly interests, turns to Ryan and asks, "So what do you do?" Ryan replies with, "I'm an animator." The guy looked blankly at Ryan for several seconds, clearly racking his brain to come up with something, anything to talk to an animator about, came up empty-handed, and turned back to me. This has literally never happened before in our entire marriage. You say the word "animator" and your conversation immediately revolves around Hollywood, movie stars, cartoons, etc. The stay-at-home mother generally has very little to contribute to a conversation like this, and never is able to trump "animator" with "homemaker." It's never bothered me before, but to see the tables turned was fascinating and, I'm not ashamed to admit, it was a little heady. *I* was the one people wanted to talk to, who had a tiny little bit of something interesting to contribute to the conversation. It was an interesting role-reversal.

We snuck out of lunch before dessert was served so that we had twenty minutes to walk around the town.
But I didn't want to be completely dessert-free so we stopped at a place that claimed to have the world's best ice cream. I would challenge that title, but it wasn't too shabby. I had a scoop of Cowie-Wowie and Ooey-Mooey. I have no recollection of what was in the ice cream except for mini-reese's cups, but those names are quite awesome.
Then we loaded back in the bus and drove to Lake Louise. Banff was pretty but in a Park City kind of way - touristy, upscale, removed from actual nature (except for the rogue chipmunk) but still pretty. Lake Louise was prettier and you could pretend that it wasn't touristy when you were facing the mountains and the lake.

I said to Ryan, this is how Darcey would pose if she were here. And it is true, that girl knows how to pose.
I've got some buck-teeth action going on. Maybe someone wants to photoshop that for me?
We walked around the lake a ways and took this picture of the hotel. It's gorgeous. I preferred Lake Louise, not only for the increased prettiness but also because we had lots of leisure time to walk around and take in the sights. It was relaxing and did I mention pretty?
The whole place, Banff and Lake Louise, reminded me of Switzerland - the mountains, the icy blue color of the water, the crisp air, the Cadbury chocolate in the gift shops.  The drive home was uneventful, although the bus driver had much less to say when reviewing the same scenery from the way up. Ryan and I shared my earbuds and listened to an episode of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and enjoyed not driving. I made the mistake of going to the bathroom while the bus was going down a windy, bumpy road--turns out that the lights in the bathroom only go on while the driver is accelerating.  So while taking care of business, the lights kept going on and off and at one point while trying to pull up my pants I went crashing into the side of the bathroom and almost fell over completely. I left the bathroom laughing; Ryan said he could hear me crashing around in there. Lesson for the day: Go before you leave.