Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Holes in the Sky

We are in the midst of a severe heat wave. At the moment it has actually cooled off at night for the first time in several days. On Saturday night, we were leaving Target at 9:30 p.m. and a hot wind was blowing. It felt like St. George!!

We do not have central air. There are a number of reasons why we don't, and some of them are actually pretty good reasons. They have a lot to do with some construction issues that came with the house in the form of a badly executed add-on.

We do, however, have window units, and I am actually quite good at keeping the house pleasant with the judicious use of these units, combined with some gently oscillating fans. We have a whole house fan that is supposed to suck in the cool night air - and if there is indeed some cool night air to be sucked in, it works well. There just hasn't been much cool night air.

When it's hot like this, it tends to dominate the conversation. And the newspapers are rife with stories of global warming and the like. I have learned quite a bit from reading these articles - not the least of which is that "lush green lawns" while beautiful to behold, actually hold heat and prevent the evening "cool down" from happening as quickly. We have built up the desert so that we want to live here - but the price we are paying is in higher temperatures.

So I guess it really was cooler when I was a kid. I don't have memories of severe heat - it just seemed to be part of life. But I do have memories about heat waves over the last 25 years that are vivid and compelling. One year at Girls' Camp - near Valencia - it was so hot, we just went and stood in the pool!

I love warm oranges - because when it was summer, we picked oranges from the trees and ate them warm. Believe it or not, they were refreshing.

Our idea of a real treat was sneaking ice from the bag of ice Dad bought on the way home from church (I'm not sure how he squared that with not shopping on the sabbath!) It was a paper bag and as the melting ice weakened the bag, we would surreptiously take small handfuls and put them in our mouths. Dad would holler things like "You kids keep out of that ice or we won't have enough for the ice cream." (We always had enough though!!)

We cranked the ice cream in the shade of several orange trees in our yard. It didn't seem too hot to stand out there and beg to help turn the crank!

I still love to be hit by a sprinkler - "running through the sprinklers" was often the high point of my day. Once while doing this, at a neighbor's house, I cut my big toe almost off when I stepped on an overturned wagon with a sharp edge (I'm not sure where the sharp edge came from.)

Nobody sued anybody. The homeowner rushed me to the doctor in town, who stitched it back together. And everyday for a week, she came by and brought me little presents - color books, new crayons, paper dolls. I was under 8 - and though distressed at having to stay indoors with my foot up - I managed to cull wonderful memories from that experience. (I think in a large family, being the center of many people's attention is a desired position!)

There were lots of trees and we sat under them a lot - or in them - where it was just as shady. And we dragged our mattresses out on to the patio and slept under the stars. And the Good Humor man came every afternoon with frozen delights that could be had for a nickel!

It's too bad about global warming and how it has pretty much made a rather grim prognosis for the future. I'm not sure what to do about it. I try to conserve energy, but I'm sure I use a lot - but certainly not as much as lots of people.

I wonder what the "summer memories" of children who are small now will be in 50 years?

And how big the holes in sky will be?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"You Can't Go Home Again"

Thomas Wolfe said this and he wasn't just talking about going back to the old homestead. I was remeinded of this today as I was traversing the well-worn path between the carport and the garage/office/room-in-the-garage.

I was retrieveing Cheerios or detergent or something from our erstwhile pantry/all-purpose storage room-in-the-garage, and glanced to the south and saw the empty lawn swing. I thought about how I had coveted such a swing for many years until Dawn persuaded Harry the son that it would indeed be the perfect Mother's Day/Birthday gift for me. (For those not in the know, I had talked about buying one of these for many years - Dad usually had some dismissive remark about their relative tackiness, poor construction quality, etc. The great irony here of course is that he probably goes out and uses it more than anyone!! Sort of poetic justice I suppose - but I wish I was the one out using it!!)

But I digress - in my own circumlocutious way - from my point. And the point that came to me as I saw the swing was that there had been 2 or 3 summers after I got it that I did indeed go out in the early a.m. and lie upon it and read the paper or my latest novel - or late afternoon when it was cool and breezy and maybe I grabbed a little nap - or later evening when it was dark and cool and I drifted off to sleep. I had even had a baby grandchild or two on my chest who was soothed to sleep by the motion.

But I have hardly been on it for what seems like an uncommonly long time. Summers of late have not been lazy and slow and peaceful and restful and rejuvenating. I'm not sure why the last 2 or 3 years have been so hectic - we haven't had a summer wedding since 2000.

I was reminded of my experience with Girl's Camp. I first went in 1989, when Phoebe was almsot 12. I was informed that no adults from our ward were going with our girls. I was horrified - "Oh, the Stake Leaders promised to look after them!" I was told. I was not at all at ease with such a proposal, so I got a baby sitter for the three little kids - who were 2, 4 and 6 at the time - and went to camp.

What a lot of fun it was!! I helped drive, I helped put up tents, I helped solve some inevitable conflicts, I helped at crafts, I helped at mealtimes, I took long walks around the lake, I sat in a camp chair and read, I looked at the stars at night. I wasn't in charge of anything, and I had a wonderful time.

So of course I volunteered to go the next year. It was at the beach and was fun too, but they gave me an assignment or two. Nothing excessive, but I now had a responsibility! I enjoyed it and even said yes the next year when we went to Catalina, and they asked me to be in charge of the food.

Being in charge of the food almost took all the fun out of it, so I thought about not going. But I was working in Young Women by then and really wasn't given a choice. So I promptly volunteered to be in charge of crafts, since I knew it was a much easier job than food. And even though it was a rough year with bees, excessive heat, and some nasty conflicts between an adult and some other girls and adults, I was pretty much locked in to the idea of going to camp every year.

I went to Girl's Camp every year for 15 years - until Hannah had her last year - and then didn't flinch when I told them I really couldn't go anymore. I thought I'd feel sad, but I didn't. For one thing, my calling was in R.S. by then. Hannah was away at college, and we were getting ready for Eliza's wedding. Dawn and Eve were holding down the fort here while Harry finished up at BYU, so we took care of Eve when Dawn worked. An era had passed.

And my point is - some things have a dreamy quality to them when they aren't happening any more. And some things start out being "fun" but then change as the nature of the experience changes. The first year at camp was a vacation in the true sense of the word. After that it was a job - but a fulfilling job.

I'm not sure about the lawn swing - maybe everyone else has discovered what I knew all along and so I have to fight for my right to use it at will! Or maybe that vacation is over and I need to look for another kind.

St. George was a true vacation experience - and you have to be a Terrill to truly understand that. The last time we went, it was actually a work vacation because we did Phoebe and David's invites and some other stuff. We often talk about recreating that experience - I think we need to reinvent it somewhere else though.

Meanwhile, I will pass the swing and think pleasant thoughts of lazy summer days gone by.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

" . . .who only stand and wait."

Sue G. and I went and visited Dorothy I., a former member of our ward, who moved to Upland. She is dying of pancreatic cancer - and her 24 year old daughter is getting married tomorrow in the Redlands Temple. Her husband has arranged medical transport and a gurney so she can attend the wedding. Her less-active sister has put together all the arrangements for the reception, which will be held in the home - so family can come into the bedroom and visit with Dorothy if she is up to it.

I was nervous about going - I have not had a lot of experience with death and wasn't sure if I would know what to say that would be helpful. Her husband sends regular email updates, so I was aware of her medical condition but wasn't sure how it would be emotionally.

Surprisingly she looked very good. Apparently her doctor says that she looks much healthier than she really is. She laid there with her eyes closed most of the time, occasionally pushing on her morphine pump. But she would participate in the conversation and seemed to want to talk to us about her experience.

I have felt overwhelmed of late with all the issues in my life, none of which are as devastating as hers. However, we all know that the worst trials are the ones with which we are personally dealing. So I didn't go away thinking, "Well, it certainly could be worse."

What impressed me was her concern that she was handling her trial well. She was concerned about dying in a way that would be a credit to her and a blessing to her family. Concerned that she could keep the faith and not succumb to discouragement and despair. Concerned that she was setting the right example to those around her.

And that caused me to reflect on how I am handling my trials. Am I handling them in a way that is a credit to me and a blessing to those around me? Am I keeping the faith? Not succumbing to discouragement and despair? Setting the right example to those around me?

I want to let her know how much she helped me - she who is feeling that she isn't doing anything. They do truly serve "who only stand and wait."