America

After months of great anticipation, I finally made it to see Wonder Woman on Saturday. I loved it! I was so moved by it I wanted to stay still right there in my luxury lounger chair and watch it all over again.

As I reflected on the experience, I realized that particular day was the perfect time for me to have seen the film. Because as I watched the disillusionment spread across Diana’s face–not just her face but her whole self–I was, for the umpteenth time, feeling a similar disillusionment.

Here we are again, fighting Nazis and their terrible brand of hate. In my country, land that I love. In 2017.

I’m not naive enough to be unaware that this kind of hate persists, still continues to exist. What gut punches me is that to so many this brand of hate is simply seen as free speech. That it should somehow be accepted and even protected.

And while it wasn’t surprising–based on past experience, I knew better than to expect compassion–I was nonetheless disappointed with a complete lack of leadership when a bold and clear response was so clearly needed to call evil by its name and to declare it would not be tolerated.

For my friend Carina, calling it out was simple: “There are two sides, one has Nazis. You decide.”

And there we are.

Apparently among all the wonderful and terrible things we, as a country, are, we are still, also Nazis. I’m still working really hard to wrap my head around that.

But because I really don’t do bleak, I’m holding on to this–one of my favorite takeaways from the film:

Yes. Sadly, we may be all that. But we are also so much more.

So many of us are, hope to be, and are actively working to become so much more. These are not mere words. It is what we believe. And, to quote my friend Maria, “I have to believe that my choices matter.”

I unequivocally choose the side without the Nazis.

And once again I turn to the words of Dr. King:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

I unequivocally choose to seek the light.

I unequivocally choose to keep loving.

Changing relationships

Hahaha – I first read this as challenging relationships and I was avoiding it, as I am wont to do! I read it correctly just now and am much relieved!

I remember the first time I was conscious of a changing relationship. When, in my early 20s, my widowed mother was dating again. I watched her giddy as a school girl. I found her occasionally seeking relationship advice. I found myself thinking how odd and unprecedented it was that our roles had somehow flipped. And I found myself trying to not have an opinion on each relationship even though I did. Then trying to keep said opinion to myself and allow my mom the freedom to make her own way, even when it meant she got hurt. Sometimes we all got hurt.

I guess agency can bite no matter how old you are.

Our relationship changed the most when, just days into becoming a mother myself, I called her and told her “I’m sorry, I had no idea.” And “Thank you!” And “Oh. I get it.” Even though I only just…

Perhaps the mother-daughter relationship simply becomes more fluid as soon as the daughter enters adulthood? They can be mother-daughter. Friends. Frenemies. And, as it was when my mother had cancer, the daughter can mother the mother even through an experience where she perhaps needs nurture/mothering more than ever before in her life.

I watched my mother become a grandmother to my own kids and grandmother at least the oldest clear into adulthood. Sometimes I’m a little sad when I consider how much she would have loved being a great grandma. Although the fact she is not here doesn’t make her any less a great grandmother.

Libraries

The word library fills me with guilt on one level (which is something I generally try to remain from from), because I was never a good library mom. I did take my kids, but I didn’t take them often enough. And I never returned books on time. And I regret that (which is also something I try to avoid).

Sigh.

But my library is the Provo library. And it didn’t always look like it does now (eventually I may or may not add a photo), which is magnificent. It wasn’t always in the restored BY Academy, which I’m pretty sure my grandfather may have attended. Its current location is full of memories beyond the musty smell of overdue library books.

There are memories of wedding receptions, volunteer hours weeding the flower bed in order to earn my much neglected master gardener’s certificate, and promenades. Along with a couple of memorable guest lectures and visits by authors I love. And being corrected by people I attempted to save from grave misuse of the possessive apostrophe and a book signing at which I volunteered.

Sigh.

In any case, hooray for and long live libraries. And thank goodness my daughter-in-law Emily is a wonderful library mom. There is hope for the future after all.

Technology

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Yikes. Guilty. I’m one of those people who believe wireless should be piped through the airways. Which reminds me. Last month in book club one of our friends reminded me about the time I saw an add for a new wireless bra on kickstarter and my first thought was that it was a bra that provided wireless Internet and I thought that was brilliant. (As moms, we all found some practical uses for that concept the more we thought about it.)

In any case, I have a huge extended family and I love how I can stay connected with them–even the ones I haven’t seen in years–on social media.

I’m not one of those people who pine away in jealously at everyone’s vacation pics on Instagram and Facebook, but rather, I feel like I’ve been to Europe over half a dozen times in 2017 alone thanks to social media and my friends’ and family’s wise use of the amazing $500 plane fare to Paris and Amsterdam most of spring and summer.

My Google maps bravely and safely and fearlessly guided me through my first times driving in Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami last year, as well as to fire stations all over the state of Utah.

24/7/365 access to Google when I want to know what something is and Merriam Webster when I want to know how to either use or spell a word properly or am looking for the precise word for exactly what I mean to say are necessities of life.

I love knowing the weather, the news, and a variety of other things exactly as they happen. One of my favorite things is being able to follow astronauts real time from the International Space Station.

Technology is a thing that happened practically without me while I was a SAHM but now I can’t imagine what it would be like without it. It helped me have a completely different and much better supported experience recovering from this surgery as my ACL, during which I was so very lonely and isolated.

On the flip side, it has also helped me be aware of the trials and troubles people I love are going through and allowed me numerous venues by which to reach out and connect with others in love and support. Words have power to heal as well as wound, and I hope to never pass by an opportunity to offer an encouraging word even from afar.

Technology has its dark side, but like everything else, if used in wisdom (which is not something I claim to have mastered even remotely) has a bright side. Technology makes my life easier and more interesting.

home

perfect day these are my people

My friend Sue Bradford stopped by to see me the other night. We haven’t seen each other in probably two years. Sue is one of those friends with whom it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since we saw each other, we simply pick back up where we left off. She has moved to Salt Lake since I saw her last. She was telling me about the move and how it’s different living in a rented condo after living in their family home for so long, but that she and her daughter realized soon after they got settled in that it was still home.

Home is the people you are with, not the building you are in.

That’s probably why even though I miss my family and our farm and am often nostalgic for Oregon, my neighborhood here on the Grandview Hill is home to me. We’ve lived in two houses here, but this one–though it has more room–feels no more like home to me than the last. And these people here are what kept us tethered so when we did move, it was only across the street. So many have come and gone. But they are still family and this is still home to all of us.

My family is spread out. But when we visit, it doesn’t matter if it is here or there, it is home. Idaho and even a couple of hours north of where I grew up in Oregon are home simply because when we are together as family it feels like home.

I missed my Dad’s family reunion this past weekend. And missing the love and hugs and catching up with my aunts and uncles–the closest reminder I have of my father here on earth–and cousins makes me homesick. This year the reunion was at the family property in the backcountry near Bear Lake. But it wouldn’t have mattered where we gathered. The people make it home.

Things are a little crazy at the current home in which I live. And, to be honest, sometimes I need a break. But even amidst the chaos, these are my people and they are home to me.

blueberries

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.01.14 PM Photo credit: Jeff Kubina

I don’t really care for blueberries. It’s not that I don’t like them. Or question their nutritional value. Or don’t appreciate them in homemade muffins with just the right amount of lemon zest. Or in jelly–one of the few instances in which I prefer jelly as to a chunky, fruit-filled jam–smeared across good generously buttered toast.

But they’re not my favorite. Strawberries. At least sun-ripened strawberries. Or blackberries. Or wild-growing marion/loganberries. Now those are real flavors. And that’s just the berries. Give me citrus. Tart, lip-puckering lemon, cool lime, or sweet orange (or even blood orange). Those are flavors.

Cherries. Peaches. Plums.

Something about blueberries always seems too easy (smooth skin, no seeds of notice). Too sweet? No tartness whatsoever. Or devoid of texture. Where’s the challenge in that?

I don’t recall if we ever grew blueberries (yes, it’s possible I was that disinterested). If we didn’t, it’s likely I’ve never even picked them for myself.

Blueberries are right down there with melons (with the except of the perfectly sun-ripened Green River cantaloup, which I will relish for a time in its season.

Couldn’t be less interested.

Except for when that spoiled child grew into a giant blueberry in Charlie in the Chocolate factory. That was not forgettable.

Watching movies

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I wish I’d watched more movies with my mom. She enjoyed them and was always good company. I’m glad my kids would go with her once they were older. And that we often invited her to join us even though we went infrequently. And especially that we did go with her that one last time.

Now I mostly miss movies while they are still in the theater (too many to mention, but note to self: go see Wonder Woman even if you have to go by yourself! In fact, just start going to movies by yourself so you stop missing them in the theater!).

But one of my favorite things about watching movies is how not every year, but more often that not, a new Star Wars or Star Trek movie will come out in December. That is just awesome. Because it’s my birthday in December. And one of the things I most like to do in all the world is get my entire family together to go see a movie. And to go see a new Star Wars or a new Star Trek movie is one of the things I second (or at least third) most like to do. So it’s a great excuse to get everyone together and to do something at least most of us enjoy.

Aside from that, here is what else I recall about watching movies:

Bambi was in the the theaters when my little sister and I had chicken pox. So my parents took us to see Bambi at the drive-in. In our pajamas. My mom may or may not have made us Bambi pajamas to wear in the car at the drive-in theater while we watched Bambi. (Even if that didn’t happen, it is a generous memory about something potentially wonderful about my childhood, so I’m going to let it stay.) Two sad things, however. Bambi, like Dumbo, is traumatic for a child. I can still hear the retort of the gunshot when Bambi’s Dad (or was it his Mom? I don’t recall, just that losing a parent is traumatic even in animated forest animal fantasies) was shot. As is having your baby elephant torn from your trunk simply because you are a mother bear protecting said baby elephant. I cried during both. But somehow went on to forgive Disney anyway.

The second thing–and this was, perhaps, my first lesson in the fact that life isn’t fair–is that when my sister and I got chicken pox, my sister was terribly sick. She had the pox all over her body and between her toes and inside her ears and her nose and down her throat and who knows else where. And I had all of maybe 3 pox. One on my chest, opposite of where I put my hand on my heart. So she was miserable. And I was only mildly and minimally itchy. And yet I got an undeserved share in all the wonderful attempts my mom made to comfort, distract, and otherwise help my sister endure her miserable affliction. Including watching Bambi at the drive-in in homemade Bambi pajamas.

And that’s what I remember about watching movies.

things i’ve ruined

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 8.33.12 PM photo credit, united art and education

This might be too deep of a subject for me. Perhaps it’s too painful. Or perhaps I, perpetual optimist that I am, never really give up on things. Or people. Or relationships? Or perhaps it’s all those things wrapped up in one.

In any case, I’ll see if I can think of a short list.

I’ve ruined a few of my favorite t-shirts and sweaters by snagging them on the pointed brass handle of the one red door that is hanging on my linen closet in the hallway. I painted the hall and main living area and the kitchen once–with bad paint that has since been peeling–and when we went to rehang the linen closet door it has never been the same. I couldn’t tell you where the other one–the one we never hung after we realized what a disappointment the first one was–even is. Except that is somewhere. And it will be rehung, crooked or not, someday.

Since I am the kind of person who never gives up–and who has to be cut out or ghosted or abandoned because I will never be the one who stops trying and just gives up–I would at least hope I haven’t ruined any relationships. Especially since, as imperfect as I am, the words “preserve the relationship” are indelibly etched across my brain, my heart, my soul.

I ruined every single canvas on which I’ve tried to paint. Apparently I can tole paint. I can paint by number. (I can, just now, envision the smattering of tiny numbered sections of browns and auburn and roan reds with a little patch of white on my first paint-by-number horse. I was always drawing horses. And that was my first choice for my first paint by number. Back in the day before all hopes I might have had of being an artist were dashed.

I don’t consider the very first quilt I made ruined just because my kids splattered black craft paint on the back. First, I wasn’t fond of the back anyway–it was my first and last time using sheets instead of a modge-podge of leftover fabrics for a crazy back, if you will. And stains, like scars and grey hairs, are simply stories of things that happened to you or someone or something you may have invested yourself in and therefore cared about. Sometimes at the hands of people you also care about. So you simply let it go.

my childhood journal

I don’t recall ever keeping a journal as a child, per se, however I do recall various fits and starts trying to keep one in my tweens, early teens. I know that just as I did when I was a young mother and thought I would–could–remember all the important things–baby’s first words, steps, funny things they said, funny things they did–I would have been just as wrong as a youth as I was as a young mom.

That said, I do know that at some point along the way I had some bit of success writing with some regularity when I was around 13 years old.

The reason I know this is because when I was in my late twenties and asked to serve as a leader with all the girls in my congregation who were 12 and 13 years old (there were just over two dozen of them) I stumbled upon that journal and had a read.

I cried. I laughed. But mostly I cried. And I felt. I felt again how it was to feel so insecure. So wanting. So wounded by the world. I felt fleeting hope over the most superfluous things. I felt embarrassed. Disappointed. In adequate. Unsure. And still joy over the simplest of things. And still a less fleeting hope–an optimism–that I could be better. That things would be better. That cup-half-full kind of girl was somehow present in the messy scrawl across the pages even amidst all the teen angst.

And it was good–and not by chance–I stumbled upon that angsty journal. I fell in love with those girls easily. Because I remembered. I judged less and loved more when they came before me with their own heartbreaks and drama. When they were sassy or–walls up over wounded hearts–rude. And now–through the gift of Facebook and that way kids have of coming home once in awhile–I get to see them all grown up–amazing and wonderful resilient women–friends and wives and mothers and all–well past all our teen angst, but no less tried and proven by the world. They are truly amazing women and I’m grateful to have known and loved them as I did, connected through the trials of being 13.

Something I don’t want to lose

sunsetshinypumpkins

Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.–L.M. Montgomery

I don’t remember the sound of my father’s voice. I’m not sure, really, what to make of that. I remember his words. I remember the way he stole our caramel frosting off the spice cake when we weren’t looking. I remember the twinkle in his eye. But I cannot remember his voice. It is only the sure knowledge I have that I will see him again that makes this loss somewhat bearable.

I keep a voicemail or two from my mother still on my phone. One of them, I haven’t even listened to yet. Because I called her back. Back when I could call her back. I can’t bear to listen to them yet. Even though they are over 2 years old. I don’t know when or if I will be able to. But I know that they are there. And I won’t forget.

I remember when my kids were little. It didn’t matter how messy the chaos that was my house or my life. It didn’t matter how tired I was. But there was always a moment at the end of each day when I would snuggle them before bed and nestle my nose in the top of their tow-topped heads, close my eyes, and breathe deeply, willing the moment to sear itself in my memory, willing myself to never forget their smell, their sound, their energy. Those moments of closeness now too far past, but which I still keep in my memory. Even know I lure the very curious, active James into my lap on the pretense of reading a story, but mostly to snatch a near-still moment in which to nuzzle his head with my nose and breathe him in, sealing up the memory while I can.

There is one other (you see–I still have trouble following the rules and have failed at limiting myself just to one) ? of my mortal experience that I desperately try to sear into my heart in the hopes of never forgetting. The warmth of the sun on my face and my arms, breeze in my hair, big skies in my view and whatever nature has to offer–mountains, streams, fields, or farmlands– lit by that perfect light of early morning or just before sunset–grounding me to the earth. These are the moments I want to hold on to. In which I tell myself that whatever turmoil or worry is in my head, whatever anguish or heartbreak or loss is in my heart, it was worth it to come to earth just to experience this moment. This reminder that God created this beautiful world–a world so beautiful it almost hurts to take it in–for me.