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Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Remember that Staples Office Products commercial with the kids dragging dejectedly behind the happy dad with the shopping cart while the
Christmas song,
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, is playing?

Fall really is my favorite time of the year!

The cooler nights and days.

The way we eat fresh food from the garden this month.
Today I picked a peach and walked back to house
peeling and eating it warm off the tree...yum!

All the jars of beautifully preserved foods lining
the counter and then the storage room shelves.

The v-shaped formations of Canadian Geese flying south for the winter.
Huge, honking birds which make such a contrast
against the early-morning, water-color-washed sky.

Fluffy tufts of milkweed popping out of pods
along the ditch banks.

Color sneaking into the leaves on the trees.
It seems to happen overnight.

Not using the furnace or the air conditioner...
I don't even mind getting my utility bills.

The sun slants across the yard differently in the fall
making everything seem more brilliant and sharply contrasted.
The sky seems bluer, the grass is greener,
the sunsets and sunrises are more spectacular.

I can wear my sweaters and jackets that have been unused all summer.
My tall boots with wool skirts.
Long sleeves and turtle necks.

Flannel sheets and an extra blanket on the bed.

Being forced into a schedule because Cami is back in school.
We're going to bed and getting up earlier each day.

Going off Day Light Savings Time!

Thank you, Lord, for giving us Autumn before slamming us with Winter.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Suppressed Random Childhood Memory

This week I was stung on the knee by a yellow jacket. That shouldn’t be a big deal, but it had been so long since the last sting I received, I had forgotten how much it hurts. A few days later, two of my children made references to Steig Larsson's trilogy, the third book of which is called The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Those experiences brought back a memory I had suppressed for years. When I was eight years old, my parent; brother, Jim; and I moved away from Hinckley for a few months. My dad took a construction position in Utah County building a condominium complex. While this project was going on, we lived in Pleasant Grove from October 1969 to May 1970 and in Provo from May to August 1970. I attended third grade at Central Elementary in Pleasant Grove and then we spent the summer before fourth grade living in a trailer next to the Provo River. When I lived in Provo as a student 12 years later, I went to the location of that trailer park and found it is now a city park.
I was pretty blue the summer of 1970. Jim and I only had each other to play with because we didn’t know any kids around there. Most of our belongings (books and toys) were packed in boxes and were staying that way because we would be moving back to our house in Hinckley in a short time. After a day or two of living in Provo, I found the best way to pass the time was to sit on a large, flat rock that overhung the river. I could throw sticks and rocks into the water, I could watch the wildlife in and around the water, or I could listen to the sound of the fast-moving water. I was quite fascinated by the river. On my first day visiting the river, I saw an enormous gray, papery wasp nest lying on the ground about 10 feet from the edge of the water. It was about 15 inches long and shaped like a fat football. Apparently a storm had blown it out of a nearby tree. I had to walk past the nest every day as I went to my favorite rock by the river. I instinctively gave it a wide birth, even though it seemed deserted and was lying on the ground instead of hanging in a tree as it had been at some previous point in time.

This routine went on for what seems like weeks, but was perhaps only days—I’d get up, dress in my shorts and t-shirt and walk down to the river. On this one particular day, I must have been feeling especially frustrated about living in a trailer down by the river because as I walked barefooted through the muddy grass to the river’s edge, I decided I was sick of seeing that old wasp nest lying on its side on the ground and I gave it a mighty kick. My bare foot sunk deep through the papery layers of the nest and as it was lifting off the ground and into the air it was tearing apart and wasps were pouring out of the shattered mess and looking for the culprit who had just destroyed their home.
Those wasps were mad as hornets! I was instantly engulfed in the swarm and stings were coming so hard, fast and furious all I could do was run, scream and swing my arms. I was wailing like a siren as I tore up the hill and down the road to home. It must have been quite a spectacle for all the residents of the trailer park who saw the skinny kid screaming and running over the speed-bump-riddled road surrounded by a swarm of furious, buzzing insects.
My mom had to swat and kill quite a few wasps which came right into the trailer with or attached to me and were still trying to seek revenge on their home wrecker. When Mom could finally get down to treating my stings it took her hours to cake my wounded body with baking soda plasters. There were lumps and bumps on nearly every inch of my little nine-year-old body; I even had stings between my toes.
The rest of that summer must have been even more boring because I only remember one more visit to the river and that was on the day we moved back to Hinckley. I walked down to look at my rock and the remains of the wasp nest. There wasn’t too much of it left, but the biggest chunk still had a few wasps circling it so I didn’t stay long.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weeks of Bryan

As my blog readers are aware, my son, Bryan, was serving a mission in Budapest, Hungary until July 19, 2010, when severe pain in both knees required him to be sent home for surgery.

He had bilateral knee surgery seven weeks ago on July 27. Since that time Bryan has been here at the house recovering and allowing me the chance of getting to know him on a new level.

Bryan and I have had some opportunities to do things together in a way that has not happened since he was my little buddy while his older siblings were in school all day. Some of the things we’ve enjoyed over the past few weeks are:

Taking in a temple session every Wednesday

Driving to and from Arizona together

Visiting and laughing with one another

Riding bikes all over Pleasant View and North Ogden

Attending doctor and physical therapy appointments

Going out to lunch together

Talking seriously about his future

Watching/listening to him ‘whip’ with his Hungarian whip

Learning about Hungary’s culture, people and language

In a little over two weeks, Bryan and I will once again go to Dr. Pepper Murray’s office in Bountiful. This time it will be to hear the final verdict on whether this surgeon will allow Bryan to return to missionary service or not. Dr. Murray has already made it perfectly clear that he will not support Bryan returning to Hungary (which is heartbreaking for my son). But on September 30, we will learn if he will permit Bryan to resubmit mission papers to serve in another location; one that doesn’t require him to climb stairs or walk great distances on his arthritic knees. I hope and pray that both of us will be prepared to hear that verdict and move forward with faith in whatever comes next.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Confessions of an Evil Egg Flinger

During a recent visit with my Mother, I finally came clean about an incident that happened more than 32 years ago. Since Mom is now aware of this episode and Dad was probably informed when he arrived in heaven a few years ago, it is time to make it known to anyone else who is willing to read my ramblings.

This event took place that same summer we moved onto Main Street, Hinckley when I was 16 years old. After we transported the chickens, Jim and I were given the responsibility of moving the eggs stored in our cold room. Mom and Dad evidently had not realized just how many eggs were stored there because the area prepared in the new house for egg storage wasn’t nearly large enough to hold all those dozens of eggs. The cartons were stored by date, so Jim and I took the newest eggs and stacked them in the fridge in the mud room of the new house. After filling that fridge to capacity, we still had 114 dozen eggs left with no place to put them. So what do you do when you have that many eggs? When you are 16 and 13 years old and your parents are in Salt Lake City for the day, you simply divide them equally between the two of you; set up your fortress of cartons on your side of the long sidewalk that equally divides the front yard; and you have a huge egg fight.

That’s right, we threw eggs at each other in what we are sure was the largest egg war in the history of Hinckley, Utah.

The house on Main Street had two very distinct features that made it the perfect egg-fight venue. First, even though it was on Main Street, it was completely private due to the nine-foot-high hedge that grew around the entire front yard. (I was the trimmer of that hedge and that is another story for another blog post). Second, this yard was huge. You don’t see gigantic front yards anymore. Now days the lot is divided so the extra space is in the back of the house for yards, gardens, decks, pools, etc. But in the late 1800s when this home was built, it was a boarding house (where Camilla Kimball lived when she taught Home Economics at the Millard Academy in Hinckley—possibly another blog post someday?) and it had a very long sidewalk from the gate near the road to the large front porch. That long, straight sidewalk made a perfect division for our battleground.

I claimed the south side of the lawn, which I thought would be the best side for combat--it had the biggest and the most trees in the yard. I figured I’d be able to stand behind the trees and hurl eggs at Jim on his less protected side of the lawn. I assumed my three years of superior understanding and knowledge would serve me well; but that wasn’t the case at all. As the fight began, Jim quickly realized I didn’t have a very good throwing arm. He also recognized that by throwing the eggs in the limbs of the tree I was hiding behind, they dripped and dribbled down on me. He didn’t have to be accurate; he smashed those eggs into tree branches above my head and drenched me in the wet, sticky mess. I figured we each had nearly 700 eggs. Most of mine ended up in the grass or the hedge behind Jim, but it doesn’t take very many eggs on your clothes and hair to make a huge mess. I think most of Jim’s eggs were smeared all over my body. I could have stood over a skillet and made an enormous omelet with the egg dripping off of just one arm.

When the last egg was tossed, we met at the sidewalk and we started laughing at each other. Our hair was plastered to our heads by yellow-tinged slime. Even our eye lashes were stuck together in the gunk that streamed off of us. We laughed and laughed and then suddenly we stopped laughing because as we looked around the yard, we realized we had a lot of work to do to hide the evidence of our 'clash of smash'. The grass was completely covered in the shattered shells, not to mention the ooze of egg still dripping from tree trunks, limbs, the hedge and even the brick of the house.

Oh, we were going to be in so much trouble if we didn’t get this mess cleaned up soon! We each grabbed a hose and started washing down trees, bushes, the house, grass, each other, etc. We gathered arm loads of shells and tried to find a place to hide them. We eventually filled the wheelbarrow and hauled them into the garden and buried them to conceal the evidence that could be used against us.

Even after the hose washing, our hair and clothes stiffened as we dried. We removed clothing at the back door and slipped into the bathroom to shower, shampoo and repeat many times to get the goo off. We also had to do that load of laundry several times. The egg just kept sudsing and foaming up in the washing machine.

Jim and I thought we did a fairly good cleaning job; we looked spick and span by the time the parents showed up. But a few days later when our irrigation turn came and the water was turned down our ditch, I was helping Mom irrigate the yard and garden when I noticed millions of egg shell shards floating everywhere. I don’t know how Mom didn’t notice, but apparently until last Tuesday, she was completely unaware of our escapades with eggs all those years ago.

It makes me wonder what kind of antics I'm completely oblivious about that my kids will share with me a few years down the road...