Saturday, June 30, 2012

Some not-so-random-thoughts with a rather random photo!!

When Harry and I drove up to Provo to pick up little Harry after his first year at BYU, we stopped somewhere near Parowan and stayed in these charming little cabins - and you can see how very little they were.  They did not have bathrooms, but the communal bathroom was lovely and close by.  It was a bit chilly, but we had down comforters, so we were fine.  

Harry had told us in a conversation about a book he'd stayed up all night reading - we were flabbergasted because he'd been a hard kid to get reading much besides National Geographic.  The book was Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston.  We'd gotten hold of a copy - and were sharing it - so I think we spent the evening reading it to each other.  Funny the things you remember.

At any rate, that explains the photo.  The thought is about Social Media and my relative struggle with finding it meaningful.  Sometimes I find Facebook so unifying and bonding and appreciate how it helps me feel a connection to many people who would pretty much go unnoticed in my life - for no other reason than I don't see them often or ever even.

But of late, I find it so divisive that I'm tempted to give it up - maybe until after the election in the fall.  I am so tired of vicious, unkind, insulting, and obscene references to our current president that I'm ready to scream.  Harry says to just unfriend all those folks.  Unfortunately, many of the same ones doing it are folks I'd like to stay in touch with otherwise.  Perhaps someone should develop a political filter that could screen all that stuff out beforehand. 

I guess it doesn't occur to some of them that there are people in the world who appreciate President Obama's efforts to make our world a better place.  He is intelligent and thoughtful and very articulate.  But I'm not up to slamming all those who are against him just to make my point.

The filter idea keeps looking better and better!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

"I often go walking . . ."

I try to walk often - but it often doesn't happen!!  I have discovered that unless I am walking to a destination or I am meeting someone, I usually won't end up walking!!

So I have been thinking of places to walk each morning - during the school year I can often persuade myself to walk to school - the post office, the market,  the library.  Unfortunately, except for the post office, most places don't open until 9 or 10 - and then it's a little warm.  (I also often sleep in during the summer - which gets me up later too!)

So I have noticed the shade much more often.  And plan my routes based on how much shade is on that street!!

Today was no exception - and I found myself thinking about how hard it would be to walk in the sun all day!!  I'm pretty sure there was not much shade on the plains!!

This is the time of year to remember the pioneers - and applaud them for their strength and perseverance.  Hence the photos from a Pioneer Day celebration at Eisenhower Park some 10 or 15 years ago.  I was asked to be Sister Friendly at the party - a task I did monthly in Primary - hence my very cool Sister Friendly apron - and being the over-achiever I was then, I made a pioneer dress too.

It still fits!!  Guess I will keep walking!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Last Saturday, I took Ara, Esme and Annika to the funeral service for their good friend Anne Andrus.  We were privileged to know her too, and so I was thankful to be able to attend her service.
It is difficult to describe a funeral service without sounding cliched.  This one was lovely, sad, heartwarming, joyful, inspiring - but I also found it very instructive.
For one thing, since I didn't know her really well, it was instructive to hear about her life.  To find out the path she had followed that had led her to the place where she was.  To learn about her passion for life, learning and the lives of others.  Her husband delivered a moving eulogy.  I was impressed that he could do so in such a clear-eyed manner.  You could tell that he wanted to do this one last service for her - and do it well.  And he did. 
It was also instructive to hear from her children.  Two of her sons spoke.  They are 19 and 17 I believe. They each chose to focus on two characteristics of their mother - the one boy said devotion and curiosity were the qualities that defined his mother for him.  The other son said that dedication and compassion were the qualities he noted as being essential to his mother's life.  
The older son is studying at Oxford - but he had taken a year off to be at home.  He said that he had always felt that the study of history defined him. But as his mother's illness progressed, he wanted no more of history - he wanted to live in the present.  He said that now, his focus as he studies history will be to find out the effect of the events of history - not just the study of the events.  He wants to know how the event that was his mother's life will impact his life.
The younger son, in speaking on the devotion and curiosity of his mother, said that as a "fledgling teen" he now looks for those qualities in the people he has relationships with.  These are the qualities that matter most to him now.
Her sister and two of her sisters-in-law spoke next.  They related incidents that clarified my understanding of just who Anne was and very specifically how she related to others.  The one sister-in-law, Kat, was just 15 when she first met Anne.   Kat suggested a game of volleyball. Kat was an athlete - Anne was a dancer.  But Anne gamely played her best at game with which she had little experience.  Kat said, "I knew then that Anne loved me - that she wanted me to be happy - that she would do anything for me."  These three women had all been "nannies" to Anne's children.  Anne had always said that when her kids were bigger, she would "nanny" her nieces and nephews in return.  They were all saddened at the idea that this would not be occurring.  One nephew apparently said, "It's just going to be boring without Anne!"

My son-in-law Bruce was the concluding speaker.  He did an excellent job of exhorting all of us to honor Anne and pay tribute to her memory.  He quoted from C.S. Lewis and Pres. Eyring and St. Matthew - and I will try to get the references for a later post.  It was most instructive to me to focus on the idea that we honor someone whose life we admired by living those qualities ourselves.

When I was almost 8 - the age Annika is now - my best friend Barbara Britton died of a brain aneurysm.  It was sudden and unexpected.  My mother took me to the funeral at the Little Church of the Flowers at Forest Lawn.  I recall feeling very sad and wanting to cry.  But I was worried that I would be scolded for crying - most children often hear, "Stop crying right now" and I was no exception.  After the service, Barbara's mother requested that I come over to the limousine where she was sitting.  She thanked me for coming and gave me a hug.  I vividly recall how much I wanted to weep - but didn't.

In later years, I spoke to my mother about the experience. She was a little aghast.  "Oh dear.  I just thought you didn't understand!"  I'm certainly grateful that we are more open and accommodating with children now.

Much food for thought for me these past days - in fact this past year - hopefully the lessons will stay fresh in my mind.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What we do best -

Today I attended the funeral services for Anne Andrus, Bonny and Bruce's good friend and a member of their ward.  She had battled cancer for two years, but the battle ended last Tuesday with her untimely death.  Bonny's girls have been with me this week while she and Ella traipsed about Amsterdam and Paris, so I drove them out to the funeral this morning.

It was a beautiful service - I will write more when I'm not so tired and worn out from driving too and from Malibu - in Saturday traffic, it can be quite mind-numbing!!  But as I walked the halls looking to gather up the girls to drive them home, I looked in the kitchen at the Relief Society sisters - and an able priesthood brother - as they toiled away making sure that the funeral luncheon was moving along smoothly.

This funeral luncheon was a bit different - no ham and funeral potatoes here!  Tom, Anne's husband, announced at the end of his eulogy, that there was a luncheon after and he wanted everyone to stay because they were serving 4 of Anne's favorites - she wanted everyone to enjoy being together!  

There was Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese food - and Dominoe's Pizza!  It was great food, and everyone granted Anne her wish and enjoyed the food and fellowship that comes when we break bread together.  Part way into the afternoon, the family gathered everyone together to view a video that Anne had prepared.  She spoke of her children and her husband and her great love for them.  She ended with her testimony of eternal life and the knowledge that families are indeed forever.  It was very moving and touched many hearts.

Meanwhile the women of the ward were moving efficiently and mostly silently in the background.  Water pitchers got refilled, food was dished up and replenished as it became scarce, and used plates, cups and napkins were whisked away.  Needs were being met by the good women of Palisades Ward.  Just as they had helped and served Anne and her family for the last two years as she struggled with the challenge of her illness, the women were coming together this final time to make sure all was in order for their dear friend and sister.

I thought about how constant this quality is throughout the church.  I have never been to an LDS funeral that did not have able and loving sisters working hard behind the scenes to make that final act of service for the departed sister or brother.  What a great blessing to be able to serve one another one last time!  What a great blessing to be able to serve!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A thoughtful read -

Just finished The Maytrees by Annie Dillard.  Haven't read her in years. You may know her as the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek."  A few years ago I read The Living, a fascinating story about the early Native Americans who settled the San Juan Islands off the coast of  Washington state, also by Annie Dillard.  My neighbor was taking a trip there, so I suggested the novel to her - and she commented later that it had added to her enjoyment of her vacation.

So we were at Porter's piano recital last week, and a parent there noted that he was going kayaking in the San Juan Islands this summer.  So that reminded me about the book - but I could not remember the title.  So I went home and looked up Annie Dillard - because I could remember the author!!  Reading her website was instructive - learned more about Annie Dillard than I probably needed to know, but it was informative.  For example, she calls herself a "gregarious recluse."  Seems slightly oxymoronic doesn't it?

Anyway, found out the title - and also read about The Maytrees,  a novel published in 2007, her first since The Living, so I went to the library the next day and checked it out.  It is a strange novel - rather stream-of-consciousness - best read in a few sittings - but the prose, though obscure most of the time, is really quite beautiful - and thoughtful.

"She pushed the tiller hard over, came about, and set a slashing course upwind.  The one-room, ever-sparer dune shack was her chief dwelling from which only hurricane or frost exiled her.  Over decades, she had reclaimed what she had forfeited of her own mind, if any.  She took pains to keep outside the world's acceleration. An Athens marketplace amazed Diogenes with "How many things there are in the world of which Diogenes hath not need!"  Lou had long since cut out fashion and all radio but the Red Sox.  In the past few years she had let go her ties to people she did not like, to ironing, to dining out in town, and to buying things not necessary and that themselves needed care.  She ignored whatever did not interest her. With those blows she opened her days like a pinata.  A hundred freedoms fell on her.  She hitched free years to her lifespan like a kite tail.  Everyone envied her the time she had, not noticing that they had equal time."

I recommend it for your summer reading list - if you read it, let me know what you think.  Or maybe you've read it already!!  Let me know.  I recommend The Living too - but "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" didn't do much for me.  And I'm almost a hippie - not sure why it didn't grab me!!  (Annie Dillard is about 3 weeks older than me - maybe that's why we connect!)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day thoughts

  This is an old shot from someone's birthday - maybe my dad's.  In the photo - Bonny, Phoebe, Randy, and Harry.  I'm thinking it was 1979 - the year we moved to Monrovia.

This is how I remember my dad best.  He was still well and healthy.  Most of the photos of my dad in his waning years show the deterioration, but I really can't remember him that way.  Maybe I just don't want to remember him that way.

When we moved back to California, Harry had to go back for a month to wrap things up.  It was hard to be in a new house, new neighborhood, new ward, new state - and to be alone with the kids.  Harry and Phoebe were fine - Harry had made a new friend on the street and spent lots of time playing and having fun.  We walked down the alley and went swimming at the now defunct Monrovia Plunge.  (The location is now the Monrovia Historical Museum.)

Bonny found a friend, but she was old enough to miss her former home.  When things were not going well, she would blame it on where we were now.  I suspect she got her attitude from me - because I did the same thing! I missed being close to my sister and my friends in Utah.  I was not often a happy camper.

I took on several projects - the major one being refinishing a table and chairs for our kitchen.  I went out to GH to work on it.  My dad worked with me - showed me how to do it - critiqued my efforts and made suggestions.  He was patient with me - just like he was when I did school projects with him.  The new table and chairs - with the addition of curtains - made the kitchen quite charming.  The house felt homier.

Later on, after we'd pretty well adapted to being in California and were no longer longing to be back in Utah, my mom and I started making dolls, blankets, and other crafty items for boutiques.  My dad, now retired from the "shop," sat in our crafting sessions and offered suggestions and ideas.  And he made cradles and doll beds to sell too.   I wish I had a photo of us sitting around the table, making plans and patting ourselves on the back for our cleverness!

He and my mom came out often to visit and help out.  By then Eliza had been born, and we soon moved to Primrose.  We took in Bernie.  They were always helpful and supportive.  One time they came and Eliza had burned her hand by grabbing a still-hot curling iron.  She was inconsolable.  My folks walked in on this chaos.  My dad picked Eliza up and took her for a walk - she was about 15 months old.  When they came back she was fine.

Hey Dad, thanks for the memories!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Being a "California Girl"

Have been driving back and forth between GH and Monrovia this week - listening to the Beach Boys, Pete Seeger, and some oldies but goodies just to break up the NPR fare - sometimes you get duplicates.

This is a shot from a Clayton family reunion of yore - not sure which yore though!!

Alice talked about how much she wanted to rent a place by the beach - and have a big gathering.   I always envision that too - hasn't happened often though.

The beach is romanticized in story and song - that's for sure.  And Leslie likes to say that "you can take the girl out of California, but you can't take California out of the girl" and maybe she's right.

I'm a California girl who's still here, and I can't seem to get to the beach very often!!

We will keep trying though - and we'll let you know when the party starts - and how much per night it is!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Packing up to go somewhere!

This photo is from 1968 - I posed dramatically coming out of the powder room in our house on 7th and 7th in Provo.  And it has little to do with anything, but I always like to include a photo!!

I am getting ready to go out to my mom's house to spend the night.  Alice is here,  and we are heading out to Bonny's in the a.m.  Donna has taken the day off, and whenever Alice comes, she likes to visit the beach!!  As Leslie always says, "You can take the girl out of California, but you can't take California out of the girl!"

I sometimes spend the night at my mom's, and I decided that I should have a toiletries bag that I only took when I traveled - with all the things I always need and want to have with me.  I thought, "I won't have to pack each time - I will just grab this bag."

So I trundled off to CVS and purchased the items - it was not a cheap proposition.  When we went to Yosemite last week, I grabbed my bags and thought I was one slick chick for figuring this all out.

Alas, I had forgotten one item - a make up brush that I depend on.  So I bought a toothbrush and just used it to separate the lashes when applying mascara.  It worked fine.

But I discovered that your daily makeup and toiletry items are like old friends - and getting used to new ones can be a pain.

I'm wondering about the clothing items stored in my 72 hour flee kit - will I not be comfortable because the clothes are not old friends?

Well, someone has to worry about these things!!

Friday, June 08, 2012

"Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime. . ."

School is out for the next 11 weeks - it seems to get shorter every year!!  I packed up my room today - an odious task - made more odious by the pressure to be done - pressure from the librarian, the nurse, the custodian, and the office manager who have to sign you out!

Usually I start two weeks before - doing a little every day - that way I don't overburden my 3 paltry wastebaskets!!

But this year I didn't.  I did some last week - but not much.  I should have thrown more away - instead I just stuffed it all into cupboards and closets.  It will all be there in August - and I will wonder why I didn't pack up more carefully!!

It's this way most years.  In fact, I do lots of things that way.

But I'm not going to let it spoil my holiday!!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Sunday Night Thoughts

Harry's new High Council calling has him in the role of the new Seminary principal!!  I told him I loved the idea of being married to a principal!

I hadn't been to a Seminary graduation for several years - probably not since Noah's.  It made me think of my Seminary years - I'm sure they had a graduation - because I have a Seminary diploma.  But I'm thinking they handed them to us in Sacrament meeting maybe.

And of course, thinking about graduating from Seminary made me think of graduating from high school.  And thinking about graduating from high school made me think of going to college.  And thinking of going to college reminded me of what a great experience it was to live with and come to love some wonderful women.  Women who still stay in touch - not as much as I'd like - but then few are correspondents like I am - but when we do get together, the years melt away!

I guess I need to plan a reunion or something!

(I am getting together with some high school friends this month - and looking forward to it - I will report!!)

Meanwhile I will go get a glass of milk to go with the cookie I gave the mouse!