Where did your family go to eat for special occasions

(I need a new tag for my Ann Cannon prompts!)

Being the oldest of 6 kids, I don’t find it in any way surprising we did not go out to eat very much. But when we did, there were two places I remember as a kid. My dad’s favorite place was a buffet called The Kings Table. It had kind of medieval castle kind of feel and it must have been pretty a much meat and potatoes, European smorgasbord type of place. I’m sure we must have only eat there 2 or 3 times tops, but those 2 or 3 times stayed with me.

Another place we went on very rare occasion was a steak and seafood place. I want to say Black Angus, but I don’t think the original chain would have been around a way back when. Part of me wants to say it was the Sizzler, but that too would have been a very different Sizzler. Because this was quite good. I do recall going there with my dad at least once. What I mostly remembered was that he enjoyed a good steak. This was good, as we raised black angus on our farm.

But my primary memories of the good steak and seafood place were with my seminary teacher. Sister Wirrick made a special deal with all her seminary students that if we read the year’s scripture from cover to cover, she would take us out for steak and seafood at the end of the year.

And that’s how it came to be that as a naive youth I slogged through the Song of Solomon and what else have you.

When I first moved to Utah to attend BYU my maternal grandparents were still living in Southern (way Southern) California. I remember my Grandpa Jacobs taking me out to the Chuck-a-rama (at least once on a Sunday!) when he came to visit.

Family gatherings at the Chuck-a-rama (or somethings at the Golden Corral) likely merit their own blog post, so we’ll skip to Brick Oven.

My mother enjoyed Brick Oven. We, like much of the rest of Provo, went there to celebrate special occasions such as a graduation. When family came to town, we gathered there a few times with my mother once she was on hospice and feeling up to it, before she died. Those were good times.

El Azteca probably merits its own blog post as well, so now I have a prompt or two for a rainy day.

plain simple help

Since I am still in recovery on week 8 of what I expected to be a 6-week recovery, said recovery is still very much on my mind. Here are some things people said to me that encouraged me and made me feel better. (And let me tell you, this experience has been humbling. I can think of few times when I have needed encouragement more.)

1. I was talking to my friend Jane about operating from a place of fear. Like me, Jane has knee issues and has a serious knee surgery or two under her belt. I am generally not a fearful person, so I’ve been frustrated with myself for being so fearful, as well as puzzled by why this experience has been so different. Jane said, “It’s because we are older and we’ve been through a few things. We know how much time it takes to heal and we just don’t have time to go through it again.”

One, it felt good to know I was not alone. Two, coming to an understanding of something feels better, even when it doesn’t change things.

2. I did not bounce back from this as quickly as I expected and found my strength and my stamina nowhere what it was during my ACL surgery 14 years ago. My friend Cyndi and I were discussing the humbling effects of aging and the experience of finding yourself physically weak, when you are generally accustomed to being strong. Cyndi just finished training for occupational therapy, and has a lot of experience rehabbing people in a facility. She reassured me I was strong enough. “You’re stronger than you think. I’ve had a number of patients your age who were not strong enough to be released to recover at home.”

A perspective from someone with a broader experience than my limited one helped me be more grateful for the strength I did have.

3. Strength and stamina round 2. Still frustrated, I was lamenting over the effects of my desk job to my brother. (Again, comparing myself now to myself 14 years ago.) He too had another perspective. “I do physical labor.” (He is an electrician, but also now runs a small ranch primarily by himself.) “I have noticed a difference in my muscle mass just in the last 5 years.”

Hearing understanding and empathy was just what I needed to not feel this was somehow my fault.

4. My friend Vonda Gren told me emphatically in church on the first Sunday I was able to return, “I pray for you every day!”

And so it was when a physical therapist came knocking at my door later that evening and I heard a voice in my head say, “This is a direct answer to a prayer,” I knew exactly whose prayer it was.

***************

The gist of it is this.

Listen. Connect. Love.

Help, plain and simple.

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.

Must love dogs

Screen Shot 2017-02-17 at 9.00.37 AM It’s a good thing she’s so cute.

This summer I had foot surgery that laid me up for-seemingly-ever.

Someone rear-ended my car on the freeway and so my car has been in the shop for-seemingly-ever.

And our dog almost died.

dogIV

Make no mistake. This dog had disrupted my life greatly. (As duly noted previously.) But I still love her. Dogs love you unconditionally, and that is a truly rare and beautiful gift in this life.

But she got an infection. And then she got another infection. And lost 10-or-so pounds in a matter of days. And thus required an emergency visit on a holiday weekend to the after-hours clinic for pets. (Did you know that unlike human medical bills, pet medical bills are not financable (not a word, but should be) and one must pay in full when one picks up one’s pet?

I stopped keeping track of the money and am making an honest effort not to look at next month’s credit card bill, because the truth is, pets are like family. This crazy wild 5-yo puppy that ate most of my chickens and thinks she is part kangaroo has my heart. And seeing her so sick broke my heart. There was no question we wouldn’t do everything we could to save her. And so we ok’d emergency surgery and I laid awake most the night we weren’t sure she would make it through praying for and worrying over her.

ginger

And seeing her so sick she lived in the house for an entire night and most of one day and could barely raise her head off the floor but still kept trying to wag her tail undid me.

I’m happy to report Ginger pulled through. Couldn’t even manage a second night in the house. And when, a week ago Monday, Lindsay took her back to the vet for her follow-up (after wrestling with her extensively just to get the required leash on), the vet said, “Who is this dog?!” They didn’t even know her because she was finally her same wild self again.

Grateful.

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

hand

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.

Have you ever read a letter or note that wasn’t intended for you?

I can’t say I’ve ever read anything not intended for me, but I learned an interesting lesson a couple of times by 1. reading from someone’s thoughts that were open to me to read, but which I generally chose not to read and 2. by knowing who wrote a comment on a blog post I once wrote even though they thought they were posting anonymously.

The first time was after my ACL surgery, which was one of the most painful experiences I’ve had. I read the words, “Dalene doesn’t seem to be in much pain.” In fact I was in a good deal of pain and I was quite overwhelmed with having to juggle crutches and timing three different meds taken at different and not entirely divisible intervals. And due to certain circumstances, I found myself for a couple of days at a time being the only adult home and therefore responsible for four kids. I remember one occasion in particular when my daughter, who was about 8 at the time, had a horrible stomach ache. She crawled from her room into the hall way, where she was doubled in pain. All I could do was lower my lame self to the floor in the hall, not at all certain I would be able to get up again with just one leg, and stroke her head and cry right with her. I don’t know how we both got through that time, but somehow, as one does, we did. It wasn’t just that no one had any idea how hard that time was for me, but also that somehow I was creating a misperception that it was somehow easy, that made me feel truly isolated and alone.

The second incident was also painful, but in a different way. I’d written something raw and honest and shared it in what nonetheless was a fairly safe place, amongst a community of my sisters. Granted readers are welcome to comment their agreements or disagreements as they wish, but at least at that time, people were generally up front with their identities, so when they did bring something to the table, they more or less looked you in the eye when they laid their cards down. On this one occasion someone I knew commented in disguise in a way that was hurtful to me on a number of levels. I felt betrayed in a place that should have been safe.

Both incidents taught me that we can no more know what is in others’ hearts, minds, and bodies, than they can know what is in ours. While never perfectly and often poorly, I’ve tried to use this knowledge to try to be aware more of others’ pain–both what they’re telling me, and what they’re not telling me. I try to remember to seek to understand and to give others the benefit of the doubt. And I continue my efforts to progress in forgiveness (because forgiveness–like healing one’s wounded heart–is a work in progress).

This might have been an Ann Cannon prompt I’ve been putting off. But there. Now it’s done.