Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Community Language

In Boulder, we have the opportunity to do the most interesting and unusual things if you have the courage to venture beyond your comfort zone and because my goal since moving here is to go beyond the usual, we venture. Last night we joined the gather of the Men and the Women’s Councils to celebrate the solstice. It was held at the silo at the Red House Farm, formerly owned by my great-grandfather, John King so it always has meaning to be there beyond just a nice place to be. It was a small gathering. The topic was a focus on community and understanding that we all have gifts and wounds. There were many interesting thoughts around the topic but one part that got me thinking beyond the evening was a comment about how each group in a community has its own language. If you possess the language, you are accepted into the group, if you do not it may be more difficult to be a part of the group. I think few of us understand this idea because usually everyone speaks English but it may take having those that do not to help us understand that there is also the language of the group.

Being a part of a group called Educators, this is really evident. We have lists and lists of acronyms we use to talk about almost everything including the students. Then we wonder why parents don’t participate in their student’s educational process. It is a different language and one that can make those without that language feel stupid. Even in this small town there are several different groups who possess their own language. There are the Mormons. You can easily identify them by their language. I was watching a couple on the Today Show whose son had nearly drowned. I knew they were Mormons even before it was confirmed that their home was in Provo. I appreciate knowing how to speak Mormon even if I’m not actively participating. I can connect with members of my own family as well as certain people in the community. There are the Intellectuals here in Boulder. I can usually speak their language fairly well although it’s more work and I’m not as comfortable but I always love the challenge it provides. There are the Laborers. I love their directness, their humor, even their crudeness. It is honest and refreshing. I can speak this language as much as girls are allowed to speak it. I know there is a part of the language that is never open to women but I like hanging out on the edges. There are the New Agers, not sure that is the best label but they find spirit in everything. It is a language I love although I’m far from fluent. I listen more here. You might think there is a language of the Environmentalist in this town but when you live in this town, you love the land. You miss it when you are away or even if you drive it in the dark. You find ways to be outside, to walk across a stretch of sandstone or through a grove of aspen. In Boulder, everyone is an Environmentalist.

All of these many languages I have described are interesting and beautiful. However, the language can also create a barrier keeping everyone else out if you aren’t careful. If you are only comfortable with those that speak your language, life is going to be pretty much the same every single day. You will begin to believe that only people who speak your language are good or worthy. You’ll probably even start looking alike in ways that aren’t very attractive. You’ll never find out that you are very similar to these people who don’t speak your language. You’ll find the more you talk to them that even your language will change. You’ll learn things you never knew about building, sharing, breathing and life. I think the most interesting people in this town are those that speak many languages and travel in and out of the many groups of this town.

So be courageous. Move beyond your comfort zone. You never know what you might find on the other side of some place you've never been. And when you gather with your tribe, listen for that person who doesn’t speak your language and invite them in. Teach them your language or better yet, learn theirs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Preparing for Christmas

Me going to the Christmas dance in Escalante

Geneya helped me make my blog more festive for Christmas. Since it has always been my favorite holiday, I figured I should get a new post on as well.

My earliest memories of Christmas were at my Grandma and Grandpa Roundy's house, waiting for Santa to arrive. Grandma always had a beautiful Christmas tree placed in front of the big picture window. It was most often a Ponderosa pine with heavy flocking, always full-limbed and balanced since my grandpa could insert limbs as easily as God did. My grandma created the traditions of wassel and sugar cookies. Christmas Eve included a Christmas program at the church and Santa handing out bags of candy. He always stopped at the house before taking off in his sleigh. Chrismas morning started early, usually because Grandpa couldn't wait any longer for us to wake up. After the presents were opened, we spent the morning visiting at Aunt Ruby's, then down to Aunt Fon's and finally, across the street to Evadean's. There was always a Christmas dance on Christmas night and it required a new Christmas dress for the occasion.

The adult Christmas can never match up, so luckily you have kids and grandkids to make it better. I love the Christmas tree, so I have to put one up even if no one will see it but Steve and I, after all I am related to Ott Roundy. I think a lot about the right present for those I love. Being in Boulder makes the shopping a little more challenging but I am learning how to get almost anything off the Internet. It's interesting to see what your adult kids take from the traditions you tried to build about Christmas, what matters to them as well. They both have their trees up already so that Roundy Christmas gene seems to be strong. I need to make a batch of wassel. Steve is trying to get the red lights up on the house. Hopefully we'll get that Christmas cookie contest in sometime over the holidays. We have Steve's Chinese Christmas dinner planned but not on Christmas so we can accommodate all of us. Tomorrow night will bring the yearly Palmer Christmas Party complete with Silly Santa. Colby, Taylee, and I are planning to make it to that party and see what Taylee thinks of that Santa, especially without her mother. Another great holiday season wishing each of you a Happy Holiday as well.
Here's a Christmas poem from a few years ago.

Each Christmas
Christmas 2005

I work harder and harder to make it the same,
the same as last year, the same as when I was seven.
Each Christmas I make gallons of wassel,
just like my Grandma made and her mother.
We sip it with friends, give it as gifts,
wrap fingers warm around those old Santa cups
filled golden with wassel and the reflection
of lights from the Christmas tree.
The tree we searched for once again
on the mountain tops or in pinion forests
depending on the weather and depth of snow.
We walk hillsides, assessing trees; the right size and shape,
Finish the trip with hot chocolate,
heated on the green stove in the back of our truck.

The one time each year I will climb to the top rung of the ladder
to string lights and place those same special ornaments;
“first Christmas” daughter, first son, first grandson,
placed on draping branches with the other special treasures
gathered over a marriage.
Hang stockings on the fireplace, wait empty for the movie, the music, the candy
just the same as last year and the year before.
Bake sugar cookies that never taste as good as Grandma’s
so we spend our time with decorating contests.
Cook Mom’s fudge from the recipe
still on the back of the marshmallow jar,
lasting so many years after she is gone.
Watching another generation open pajamas on Christmas Eve
as his Mother begins her own set of the same traditions.

Each tradition allows us to pretend
this year is the same as the last and the one before that
even though this year we are nursing Raymond back to walking.
Knowing we can never healing his heart
forever damaged in his loss.
Plan the next place we’ll look for Uncle Dean, giving up one day
filled with hope on the next.
Always trying to understand his loss of mind,
how we will deal with the fading of his life
as well as that of our only remaining Mother.

Last year was not the same either or the one before
when we spent our first Christmas with an unexpected grandson.
Never imagining how he would turn our hearts and lives around,
making us all soft and amazed.

No Christmas has ever been the same as the year we spent in the hospital, transfixed by the blue of Grandma’s eyes,
knowing she was leaving us soon and so aware we were not ready.
Or the year after Mom died, leaving Colette and I
broken and extremely gifted, two green boxes of jewelry,
mine the elephant symbolizing her journey to another side.

It’s not the same as my first year as a wife.
Christmas so small and lonely, missing my Grandpa,
who would not have been home that year anyway,
his life lasting only enough years to see me marry this handsome man.
Or the Christmas no one wore new dresses to the dance
and I did. It was maroon velvet with a sparkling empire waist.
I went home early, too beautiful for girls without dresses.

It’s not the same as the first Christmas without my Mother.
Dad bringing a new wife to Grandpa’s that year,
my Mother declining the invitation to still come home for Christmas.
Or that first Christmas after my sister was born
I don’t remember that one because even with two years alone,
I don’t remember anything without her.
Or my first Christmas, when my Grandparents
became changed, their hearts soft and amazed because I was there.

It's not the same as the very first Christmas, Jesus nestled
in the crook of Mary’s arm and Joseph standing watch.
The star lighting the sky so angels could look down and see
all the Christmases to come.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Good Dose of Fall Creativity

It's been a great fall for sparking the creative. Started with the Cliff Notes Writing Conference/Hogsback Heritage Project with faculty David Lee, Dianne Oberhansly and Gailmarie Pahmeier. Dave was incredible as always. His direction for the Hogsback Heritage Project "Artifacts" got me going on a pretty good poem for the project. Dianne inspired me in so many ways. Gailmarie was new this year to the workshop and had several writing prompts that will keep me writing throughout the winter. I think each of their readings were about as good as you can get. Dave was reading from three new books released this year as well as from a couple of new ones that will be out in the future. Dianne's family piece was funny and encouraged me to think of my own family stories that I might take to written. Gailmarie was amazing as well.

Following our workshop was a six week writing workshop Writing the Rhythms of the Land that was put on by Boulder Community Alliance and Red House Farm with Billy and Grace. I only participated in one of the workshops but was able to attend all but one of the weeks. I picked this one because it included writing but also had elements of movement and sound but mostly because it made me very uncomfortable, especially the sound portion. I learned a lot about my self in my uncomfortableness. How being self conscious can get in the way of some incredible things, especially if you succumb to the compulsion to avoid that which makes you self conscious. These workshops ended on Saturday by bringing all the groups together to share pieces they had created in the workshop. It was open to the community and the pieces were shared in a rebuilt silo that included a circle of chairs around the silo all filled with people and then the floor covered with people sitting until you wondered if this floor could hold such a group. There were kids from age 7 to teenagers to ever age of adult. There were probably 50 people not all having participated in the workshop but it truly was a great event of creativity and community. I enjoyed getting to know Grace in this workshop. She is a great teacher of the creative. Below is one of the pieces I wrote from a prompt of writing what you believe. I read it in a silo located on the property that once belonged to my great grandfather John King.

What I Believe

I believe each of you has value, some of you just don’t know it yet. You must look back to the beginning before you started to believe other people’s words. I believe there are daily opportunities to demonstrate faith throughout your life. Call it what it is. I believe in children, they are always our hope for a better future. I believe in a good night’s sleep to settle and sort the best thoughts and breakfast for implementing them. I believe that each of us will always learn more from something that is challenging than from easy. I think secrets are rarely a good idea but something you must keep for a time until the person who owns the secret realizes that as well. I believe in honesty except for those small things that include judgment. I am against drinking milk from the carton and believe it is best to rinse milk from the cup before putting it in the sink. I believe you should never give up on your parents or your siblings until you have figured out why you got them and resolve the issue. I believe the stories of old people have the power to transform the future if we listen. I believe girlfriends are a necessity for all women and a hot bath can cure most ailments. I believe in eating off the fancy dishes, drinking from stemware, and wearing my most beautiful jewelry. I believe in socks in the winter and comfortable shoes always. I judge men by how much they truly like women and I judge women by how interesting their children, either those they birthed or dreamed, become. I learn most about both men and women by the books on their bookshelves. I believe art is a worthwhile investment even though you will never recoup the money you spent. If a dog likes you, that means something and if cats like you as well, you are truly something special. I believe in the power of touch and also its ability to damage when in the wrong hands. I think preteen girls can show us what incredible means and we could all learn to play from little boys. There is nothing more interesting than the language development of a two year old. Read every chance you get. Sing at least once a week whether you let anyone listen, that is up to you. Dance even when no one knows that’s what you are doing but always dance out loud with someone you love. A smile can change someone’s day but laughter changes everything. Everyone must have some creative outlet or they will explode, find yours. Sit outside often and don’t forget to look while you sit there. Nature calms and cures more than any church but go where you need to find the spirit and never judge someone else’s place. Drink water, eat chocolate, and pay attention to the moon.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Retiring Life

It is amazing all of the things one can become involved in for the retired life. Today's Grandma really isn't going to be sitting in that rocking chair except for a quick break. Election Day brought a new job as Garfield County School Board member. With that there will be a lot of preparation to get up to speed and being able to do it well. I'm excited to find ways to improve education for the students of Garfield County. I'm also working with a group of people here in Boulder to set up an arts council. This will be fun to see how we can get the community involved in creating the council and then putting together great art events as well. I'm also trying to help the Escalante Heritage Center figure out how to raise a couple of million dollars for a new center that spotlights the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition. Finally, I'm involved in the usual planning for the Boulder Heritage Festival for July, 2011. My personal goal for this year is to write more. That tends to be the thing that gets pushed back a bit more but I'm hoping with more alone time and the quiet of winter coming on that I will get at that goal better. We finished up another incredible creative writing conference last month and that should inspire me way into February.

So retirement is just right with getting to choose the things that I want to do but still having time to visit the kids and the grandkids. Travel is a little more reduced this year from last year, but that's ok too. I do love my life and living it in the most beautiful place in the world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Telling Your Story

Saturday, we had Meg Brady, a Folk Arts teacher at the University of Utah whose job is collecting and teaching people how to collect stories through Hospice and the Huntsman Cancer Center. She presented the whys and the myths of reminiscing and telling your story. I have understood the one side to the importance of telling our story; so it doesn't go to the grave with you, so our children and grand children get to know what our lives were like, to share what it was like in "the olden days." I didn't understand until this presentation how important telling our story is for the storyteller. She said in England they pay to have people facilitate reminiscing in old folks homes because the residents are more sociable and more connected with the present. So remembering the past doesn't mean that we are living in the past. More importantly, she talked about how by talking about and writing about our past that we begin to see the patterns of our lives, that our lives and the incidents of our lives are not just random occurrences but that they are a part of a life pattern. That makes our lives have meaning and we may not even understand what that meaning was until we write or revisit the events at the end of our lives. We may begin to see the theme of our lives and better understand the importance of why we were here. I had an epiphany today, that this is probably what we have to do when we die. We go to the writing room and begin to write our memoirs. We have to get this done before we can go hang out with God and get on with the next part. So if you've written your own history and thoroughly evaluated your life, you are ready to move on, otherwise you will be hanging out in the writing room for some time first. Do you hear that Dad, Roberta, Aunt Margie, me?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

As Mother's Day Continues to Change

The last Mother's Day for me was May, 1988. My Mother was consumed by the cancer that would take her from us in just a couple of weeks. I bought her red sweats that Mother's Day. They may have come from the children's dept. since they were so small to fit her shrinking body. We did have to cut out the waist because of her abdomen that was enlarged from effects of her cancer. She was struggling to eat anything and went from coherent to interacting with that world she was preparing to enter. We were still deluding ourselves with our talk of hope in beating cancer. She knew she wasn't winning the battle but she allowed our talk of hope. Her last words to me were "there's still so much I have to tell you." I will never know what those things might have been. She does present herself now in the most interesting and unusual ways if I choose to believe.

How do you continue to celebrate Mother's Day when your mother is gone? For me it has been a day of sadness, of remembering my loss, of calculating all the places that she is missing. I have gone through the motions, my own children deserve that but I'm sure they felt my sadness and loss as well. I have celebrated my mother-in-law and my stepmom but they have also been short changed by my sadness.

This year something has changed once again. I am selfishly spending this Mother's Day in Boulder, just Steve and I. I received the usual Mother's Day greetings and then I went to the yard to rake and feel the dirt on my hands. I have sat in the sun and let it warm me. I have washed clothes and then felt the breeze as I hang them on the line. I did prepare ahead of time to celebrate my daughter for Mother's Day. She is celebrating that first Mother's Day having chosen motherhood and even though the previous Mother's Days have been well worth celebrating, it was also bittersweet in the way that it changed her life before it was time. She is an wonderful mother and I celebrate her without even a twinge of the sadness except her Grandma Rae would have loved the new girl that possesses her name. I also celebrate my mother-in-law who now speaks directly to her twin sister, dead now for years. I honor the decision to move her to more care as the dementia over takes her. She is more at peace than she has been for some time. I still question the why of this disease and who it is for, what we are all suppose to gain. I celebrate my step mother for her love and kindness through the years. How she decided friendship with my mother was the right step, leading the way to friendship with my sister and I. I celebrate my sister for example of mothering and for always being there for me. She is the one who always understands exactly what this day and so many others feels like and means. I celebrate my Grandma Roundy for teaching me so well about being a grandma. I celebrate the incredible aunts I have, my Aunt Renon for her support at all the events of my life, for my King aunts for inspiring me to write, and read, and think. I celebrate cousins who are great mothers and raise children that are as interesting as they are. I celebrate friends who choose to be a part of my life and allow me to be a part of their lives as well. I celebrate my new daughter-in-law and look forward to many wonderful life events together. Happy Mother's Day to all the incredible women in my life. You have made me so much better than I would have been without you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pushing My Limits

Each of us has our areas that are our strengths. I know that I can plan and organize. Few things are too overwhelming in this area unless they come too many at one time then that can overwhelm but in a different way. I know I can accomplish the task, I just have to figure out how to be super organized. I also know how to interact with others, especially in an individual, personal way. Even with hard problems, this is usually more satisfying than challenging. For me, my strengths are head and emotional connections but I have never felt very secure in the physical part of me. I always have wondered if this would have been different for me if I would have been a teenager during a time when girls sports were available like they are today. I was a tall teenager and I think I would have had athletic skill but there wasn't girls sports during my high school time. Girls could be cheerleaders or on the drill team. I did love dance, but never felt secure in that are either. So I spent the next 30+ years developing my head. I can pull off smart beyond my actual ability and I have confidence in this area of head. So what do you do when the man you love not only has the strength of head but also confidence in the physical. He wants to hike, walk through the backwoods, carry a pack across desert canyons. He does go to some beautiful places and I do enjoy time with him, so I decide to try "pushing my limits."

We planned this hike for quite sometime. We even found the other couple to trade cars at each side of the river. We would start in Harris Wash on the west side of the Escalante River. They would start in Silver Falls on the east side of the river. We would hike the 16+ miles across, meeting in the middle. We started putting together the things we would need to take for this over night hike. I overthink every possible scenario, therefore, planning too many clothes for me to pack in my backpack, too much food for two days. I'm nervous for days before. I plan and plan because that is my strength. I don't know my body well enough to know if I will be able to meet the task. I don't know if it gets too hard if I will be able to find what I need to finish. The middle of a sandstone canyon without water and a two hour drive to the nearest town, is not the place you want to find out you don't quite have it. My husband can compensate a bit, slow down, move some of my load to his, but he can't carry me back to the car and he sure doesn't want to hear me cry outloud, the whining is almost more than he can take. The beauty of the places we go and the enjoyment of going together, forces me to take on the challenge. I go, scared to death. I go in search of the limits of this body that would have been so much easier to test 30 years ago. I go to prove to myself that I can do this too. And it is always incredibly beautiful and it is time well spent with the man that I love. And I will go again because I have that thing that helps women forget what having that first baby was like and then we have another. And I will put too much stuff in the backpack, and I will cause my stomach to gurgle with nerves, and I will plan with every possible solution at least for the problems I have planned for, and I will find out the boundaries of this 50+ body. And maybe I will love this body even more than I did when it was young and firm.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I'm thinking about quilts today since I'm working with Sheree on trying to put together a video presentation about quilts that will be shown at both the Escalante Heritage Day and the Boulder Heritage Festival. I have collected some pictures of old quilts and taken a lot of pictures of the process of putting together a quilt that I did for my son's wedding. I also have my sister and her husband busy tying one of the quilts they did this winter. The quilt picture I have posted was the camp quilt that I received from my Grandma Roundy for my wedding. I love this quilt because it is so much of the time period it was created. If you looked at it, you would know I was married in the seventies because all the pieces are made of polyester. If you knew my Uncle Claron during that time, you would recognize many of the shirts Aunt Ruby made for him. It is tied with a crowfoot stitch and my Grandpa said that it was so warm you could just put it in the room with you. This tradition of giving a quilt for a marriage is long standing in my family. I'm not much of a quilter (yet) but I still feel compelled to get the quilt done for the wedding. A camp quilt is easier since it doesn't have to be perfect. When babies are born, that's also the time of the quilt. My sister just finished 6 or 7 baby quilts for Haiti children. Her husband is great at the tying. I have one picture of him that says "Real Men Quilt." I love that because he is a real man that has no qualms about quilting. I haven't done baby quilts but I usually crochet around flannel blankets. My grandma made beautiful quilts. I have a beautiful tricot quilt she made and also a pieced quilt that she made for my wedding in addition to the camp quilt. My step mom also gave me one of Grandma's old pieced quilts that I dearly love. The hardest part with quilts is that they are too beautiful to use so they end up in a cedar chest waiting for the next generation to own them. I think I might put them out and enjoy them if I didn't have dogs. Maybe after the dogs are gone, I will enjoy my quilts. I also have a quilt that my Grandma King made that was on my Mom's twin bed when she was growing up. That is an interesting quilt. I always loved quilts my Aunt Ann made for graduations, weddings, and babies. Her quilts were useful and get used. Every quilt has it's own story, I'm sure. Maybe I'll start working on those quilt stories. I'm thinking we will have the quilt display on Friday of the Festival and the Saddles on Saturday, both are so impressive. And then let the stories begin. Tell me your quilt story.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Poetry and Dreams

In this last week, the dreams are battering me, one after another, each strong and filled with potential meaning. As the dreams come, so do the poems. Arriving one after another. So since all my writing is coming in poetry, it probably should appear here as well. (brand new hot off the press)

Boulder Love Poem

This place has always held me,
from the cradle of sandstone to each rock,
each curve on the road, to the tops of towering ledges.
They have witnessed those who came before me,
each generation linking one to another
to culminate in me.
At fourteen, I was drunk with this place.
Overwhelmed by all it possessed,
maybe it was that time of life when I could not control
the effect or I may have chosen
not to ignore it. I was madly in love,
the passion of place consumed me like a fire,
threatening to destroy me with intensity.
I was released from the hold just a little
when I found the one who would become my husband,
sharing my desire between place and man.
I learned moderation of this place,
small doses, a weekend, a week,
creeping up to three weeks and a month.
I would once again be dragged back
to the edge of desire, to sit on a sandstone peak,
wade in Calf Creek or allow the sun
to hike across my body while I leaned on a rock
at the edge of Grass Lake.
As I ride my fifties, I am embolden,
for the children are raised and a retirement check
arrives each month. I have lived a good life.
I return bravely to sleep night after night
on the banks of Boulder Creek.
I invite the beautiful of snow on Maggie’s Ledge,
to burn my eyes. My legs carry me
to each entrance of the Escalante River.
I embrace Upper Falls as winter breaks to spring,
allowing myself to fall so deeply in love
that I should be afraid. I will never escape
something this beautiful.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Next Generation of Mothers

Tonight my only daughter returns to work after having her own little daughter just 3 months ago. I'm so glad she had the three months with her daughter. Her last child was born before she was ready and pushed her to adulthood. This tiny girl came when she wanted her most and was ready with a marriage, health insurance, and a means to support her. Even in this time of preparation, the day comes when Mom returns to work. I remember going back to work when she was just almost 6 months old. I had enjoyed my time with her but I had also made her unwilling to drink from a bottle so I would race to the sitter's house down the street from the school I worked at and feed her at lunch. She also moved to cereals and other foods sooner so she could get through the day. We had a glorious time after school, sitting in the rocker and reconnecting with a little nursing time. I went back to work sooner with my son, but the sitter was his Dad, so that felt like a good time for them. I still raced to where ever he was for the next several months to have a quick feed during the lunch hour. He was so easy because he could eat both sides in a matter of minutes and send me back to work.

My son-in-law has duty tonight with his tiny daughter who is spending her first night without her mom. It will be good for both of them to learn how to meet each others needs. But I know that tonight my daughter is fretting on the 3rd floor of the Medical Center. Wishing she was home with her daughter and wondering if she still knows how to be the nurse those patients on the 3rd floor need. On the news tonight, they talked about the scientific research on the benefits of breastfeeding for 6 months but yet even in the best of circumstances, 3 months is what mom and baby get. In this time of health care debate, I wish we were further along the debate to be talking about getting at least those 6 months that they are finding to be so critical. I hope my daughter can find a way to keep the breastfeeding going beyond this go back to work time. I hope that we can become a nation that can adapt to what we find is most important for babies and for helping mom's to make it work. Good luck my daughter and kisses to Dad and baby tonight!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Going Political

One of the interesting parts of retiring, especially retiring at 50, is that you really have to think of another half of a life of things to do with yourself. Also knowing that you are on the short end of life, you try to think of things that have meaning, importance, durability, significance to others, and on and on. I had some ideas of what that might be before I retired. I knew that I wanted my tasks on this side of retirement to involved more creativity. I also knew that I wanted to be my own boss. I also wanted to make contributions to the things that matter most to me. I do believe that I am an educator at heart and my mission is education. Even with the Boulder Heritage Foundation and the Festival, I want to learn more and I want others to learn as well. That's why I'm in charge of the educational components of the festival and have added birding and creative writing as additional projects. But I also believe in the importance of public education. All children must have the opportunity for a free, relevant, rigorous education. It is the most important thing that we should spend our tax dollars on. So one other goal in retirement was to find ways to be involved in strengthening public education. I was always interested in the Garfield educational system and conducted inservices in Garfield County every chance I got. Well I'm taking my next step as a resident and have recently filed to run for school board for Garfield County School District. The area this position serves is Boulder, Antimony, Ticaboo, and Hatch, an interesting collection of the smallest of the small. Garfield Co. has struggled recently with some major financial problems and lawsuits. I hope these issues will not get in the way of providing the best possible education for these students. I look forward to this run and getting the chance to hear from parents, students, teachers, and other residents in this area. It will be interesting since I think the last family member that ventured to the political was Aunt Nethella and she served in a democratically dominated house right here in the State of Utah. So it's been a while. But venturing to this new arena should definitely shape my retirement and the goals I have for this new place in the second half of my life.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Girl Friends

Had a wonderful evening Saturday night at Dianne's house where she taught us about making sauces and gave us the opportunity to eat all of the amazing food she was instructing. It was an evening of girlfriends. I am feeling very lucky to be included in a group of amazing girlfriends so soon after moving here. They truly are incredible women. Another added advantage was getting to take my daughter with me as well (Steve may not have seen it as such an advantage since Taylee cried most of the time she was gone). It was great to let her see how important girlfriends can be and also the interesting and creative ways in which you can gather. She left talking about how she should do this - invite her friends over and do something as unusual as cooking great food together and serving it beautifully. I hope it will inspire her connections with other women as much as it has inspired me. When you go to this much trouble in the connecting, it is such a valuing of those friends in your life and a message about how special they are to you. I was also inspired to be more adventurous and bold in the kitchen. I have always felt like a terrible cook but I now have the recipe for Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce. This evening could change my perception of my own adequacy in the kitchen and therefore change my life in small kitchen kind of ways. I'm getting my shopping list together so I can have all necessary ingredients to make Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Balsamic Syrup. I may even venture to Hollandaise Sauce so I will be ready when those asparagus heads start peeking out of the grass along the creek. (I have plenty of time to practice since there is about two feet of snow down there now.) Once again thanks to Dianne for allowing me to be a part of creative and delicious cooking, beautiful table settings and stemware, and most of all interesting and intelligent women of Boulder.

Friday, March 5, 2010

History Keepers

Why is it that some of us are so fascinated with the past and not just our own past but with the stories and the events of dead great grandmothers and their grandfathers. Women and men that we have never known. Yet we search those black and white photos looking for eyes that resemble our own or the lips of our children. We tell their stories over and over as if we were there or maybe we believe there is a secret message that if we listen closely and often to the story, we will know the answer. What is so interesting about looking through genealogy pages to see how families grew and connected? Like the most amazing jigsaw puzzle we have ever worked.

I am the keeper of the history of my family. A family that includes little diversity with most all family members being brought to Mormonism from Wales, Scotland, or New York. Coming to this new church early as a grandfather Hyrum supporting brother Joseph in this quest or other grandfathers and grandmothers called to travel with Joseph to each new place that would be called Zion for a time. Faith never waivering with moves further and further west until Shadrach helped deliver Brigham and the first group of settlers to Utah. Creating a lineage from Shadrach to Lorenzo to Napoleon to Bert to Otto to Vernon to me, seven generations in this place. Consumed with the stories of Lorenzo's drowning or Napoleon's shooting match.

Now I seek understanding of two friends coming from Millard County to run cows in Boulder. John Black and John King bringing cows here, first someone elses and then their own. Clearing the land of sagebrush, pinon, and juniper to make green fields in the center of a sandstone circle of cliffs. How one man's granddaughter and the other man's grandson found each other for just a moment to make me, the history keeper. The one who will spend retirement looking back and celebrating this incredible history through the Boulder Heritage Foundation. Legitimizing the role of the history keeper. Giving more and more ways to explore and share the past. There must be some reason for it all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Finding the Old in the New


It is on the first page of grandma's old photo album
glued to a black page
like we would never want it any place but here.
It could be my granddaughter, born just a month ago,
the same face that is the wallpaper on my phone
round cheeks, dark hair, widows peak, frowny white eyebrows.
This photo is black and white and is my mother
taken over seventy years ago probably
someplace up the hill or across the creek from here.
Her face finding its place once again
on my own first granddaughter.
I hope she also possess her great grandmother's heart,
her intellect, her creative eye, her sense of fairness.
It will make travel in this world more difficult
but worth it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

That Which Abides

Last week, many of the people working on writing histories of the Women of Boulder through the Hogsback Heritage Project, met to talk about and share their projects. I was the one guiding the meeting so I decided to check my Runes to see what might be important to focus on that I might not be seeing. Not much was revealed but one line seemed especially important. It talked about focus on "that which abides." I thought that sounded beautiful but I also wasn't sure I understood abide. Then Friday at the funeral for Jim Turner, the opening song was "Abide with Me." I thought it was interesting that in my consideration of "abide" that this would be the song. So I thought of this word in considering, examining, and writing about someone's life "that which abides". What is the essence of us in the end. Who are we when each day of our action and activities are done. What does it all boil down to when it is all done. Who are we? What will be the common things said of us once we are gone? That is "that which abides." We can think we have balance in our lives or try to do right things but there is that essence of who we are. It is that thing that I recognize when I see my mother in a dream or my grandfather. They don't look the same in my dream but I know their essence. It is that characteristic that I'm trying to find as I write about my Great Grandma Black for this project. I want to find that which abides as her beyond the grave. That which she was at her core for her lifetime and beyond. I thought a lot about it for Jim Turner as we heard his children and friends speak of him at his funeral. That which abides of Jim Turner is not his time as a highway patrolman or as a father but the essence of how he approached each of those jobs. What he brought there, his time, his attention, his caring. That is "that what abides" of Jim Turner. It causes me to think of myself. What will that be when I am gone, that essence that goes beyond my jobs or my roles but how I approached and interacted with those jobs and roles and the people who passed through those positions I held. It is much more difficult to control that which abides because it is at the core of everything.

And then we move to the song. That need each of us has to experience something great "Abide with me." This abiding and being abided is big and powerful and comforting. Maybe it is truly when someone is so with us; when their essences is given; when it is not just their role or position but the very core of their existence, that is what we need especially in our darkest hour but probably always. Because that essence is unchanging and recognizable always.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Paying Attention to Dreams

Last Thursday, I woke up remembering a dream I had about my mother-in-law. I dreamed we were in Hurricane or some place like that and we were going to activities, ballgames, etc. She was getting tired and laid down on a bed. I went over to her and covered her up and patted her for a few minutes. I noticed in my dream that she was wearing her shoes in the bed. Then I woke up. She is in assisted living and is struggling with dementia. When I dream about her, I think it is my warning that she needs some attention but since we were going over to see her the next day, I figured I would check it out then. That day a person from her assisted living called and wanted to meet with us on Monday to talk about some behaviors. We figured she was getting fisty with residents again and thought we might need to talk to her doctor after to change medication. So I figured that was what my dream was about. On Saturday morning, I got a phone call from the hospital. Her assisted living people had called the ambulance because she was having severe back and chest pains. They had left a message on the home phone, so I didn't know she was there. The hospital had decided to send her home. I told them I would come over and get her. I raced over and went into the Emergency Room with her. She was glad to see me and doing much better. The doctor had decided that the problem was muscular and that she would be ok. I waited until they prepared the paperwork to discharge her. When it was time to go, I started to help her get out of the bed so she could get dressed. When I pulled back the covers, she still had her shoes on in the bed. My dream was very accurate. I took her home and helped her to shower. I wanted her to rest but she can't stand to stay in her room. When we met about behavior on Monday, she is following the workers around. She is at a new stage of the dementia. She follows us as well. We take her to our house to see her dog and the kids and then take her back home. She follows us back to the car and doesn't know this is her home. She isn't as agitated when she's with us but she's more lost. It's probably time to increase care, but we are trying to decide the next best place so she doesn't need another change. These are tough decisions. I'm glad we had her live with us for a couple of years so I know that it wouldn't work to move her back, because I'm compelled at each stage but I know better. It's hard to see her lost and confused it's easier as she gets less aware but also harder. She can't help much with telling what she needs or what would make things better so I'll pay close attention to my dreams.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Glen Canyon Betrayed

I just finished this book, new title "Glen Canyon Betrayed" by Katie Lee. It is the selection for January for the Boulder Book Club. It always amazes me that you find the right book at the right time, when you are ready for it. This book includes the journal entries, pictures, stories, and songs of Katie Lee when she made her numerous treks down the Colorado River through the Glen Canyon before Glen Canyon Dam was built. I better understand her descriptions of the canyons after exploring the canyons around the Escalante River and the "River" makes more sense to me after my own first trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon this year. On my own trip, I struggled with words that could describe the incredible beauty of what I was seeing and experiencing. Katie Lee finds those words and they are words of the healing power of the canyon and the river, the way both help in finding out who we really are, as well an incredible sensuality that I could never imagine would describe this place but does so well. Maybe because it takes us to such a core place of ourselves when we connect to the land in such a profound way, it removes the barriers between me and everything else. I am a part of everything else but I only understand that when my feet are in the water, my hands are in the sand, and I can stretch my body across warm sandstone. My eyes want to take everything I see and burn it some place deep in my soul for later when I need it again. I kept feeling like if I could just paint or sculpt, I might get closer to what the Grand Canyon looks like, what it feels like.

This book however, is a book of a lost canyon, The Glen, now beneath "Reservoir Powell" (her term). I think I've hidden from this issue, not wanting to place my own opinion here because I have spent many incredible days on the shores of Lake Powell. I say the shores because I'm not the water sports type. Cruising up the lake looking at the amazing canyon walls or hiking up to Rainbow Bridge are my extent of water sports. My best times have been sitting on the back of the houseboat as the sun is beginning to set or when everyone else has gone to the marina; just me, the beauty of Tower Butte or Navajo Canyon and a cold drink in my hands. But the part that I have loved most has been the part made of sandstone along with the back drop of the Kaiparowitz Plateau, Navajo Mountain, and all that amazing country that stretches from the lake to my home in Boulder. So through this book, I see what we lost. It's a loss you can't dwell too much on because there is no reconciling what has happened, no way to go back. But maybe it's helps us to think a little more about some of these other incredible places and try to find better ways not to love them to death. Katie even gives us hope, because in "river time" the river will reclaim what once was even if we won't be here to see it. Thank you Katie for sharing a Glen Canyon that began disappearing the year I was born. I will remember it every time I hike one of the canyons that once fed your beautiful canyon and river.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weather Can Consume You

Each wave of moisture that moves from it's destruction in California to it's dumping of snow in Flagstaff has become the direction of our lives. Not only has it been inundating Flagstaff with snow but our decision to winter in Boulder has brought the most snow in many years, most of it this week. We arrived to a new inch on the ground with probably another 6 inches of old snow on the ground. Add another inch the first night home and another 8 inches or so on Tuesday and then 3 or 4 on Wednesday, all waiting for the big storm to hit. It did with 14 inches of snow. We get up each day and shovel an area for the dogs to go out and pee and clear all the snow off the porch. We kept the car by the house until Wednesday when we pushed snow with our bumper as we drove up the hill. We decided it might be time to park the car up by the road, a very good decision indeed. Steve helped Camille and Doug clear over a foot of snow off the top of their business roofs yesterday only to add the same today. We plan to clear our roof off but decide to wait since we don't know where to put that snow anyway since our snow piles are now over our heads. Steve's legs are worn out with all the shoveling and my back has a hitch especially after missing yoga last night due to the "big one." We plan for the power outage during these storms. It has stayed on more than we imaged it would but we did head for bed about 8:30 last night until the power miraculously returned. We listen when we wake in the morning for the sound of the snow plows and this morning we watched the school bus head the 28 miles over the slick rock to Escalante to the high school even with 14 inches of new snow on the ground. I doubt I would have put my own kids on that bus today, but this is Boulder. Our goal everyday is to get to the car and go to the mail. We aren't even expecting much in the mail, it just feels like we aren't trapped if we can at least go to the mail and see how others in our community are fairing. So tonight we wait to see if that one more storm will arrive in the night. It is all so incredibly beautiful and the best part is that we don't have anywhere to go but a day without shoveling would be a welcome relief to so many. And if we whine for even a minute, we remember those in California with houses full of mud and even more those incredible Haitians trying to survive what seems so unfair to a people who started with so little.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Changes A Week Can Bring

I am home once again, sitting at my computer and waiting for it to snow but so much has changed since sitting here just a little over a week ago. I made my trek to my daughter's to wait for the arrival of my granddaughter. I was listening to intuition strongly since I'm so far away I figured I would need a better sign than labor. My daughter was worried that I was coming down and would just have to sit around so I brought lot's of jobs to entertainment myself. We got one day of completing our distractions. I spent much of the day reading old letters and newsletters from 1960 to 1968 that my Aunt Margie let me borrow. It was an interesting task to be doing on this day because probably 80% of the letters were written by my Mom. I felt that I spent the day with her as well as my daughter. I was feeling almost a little crazy by the time my daughter was deciding to go to the hospital after a day of minor contractions to see how things were progressing. It was one of those times when I felt that I should be able to see and converse with my mom, she was so strong with me. It made more sense when my beautiful granddaughter, Taylee Rae was born just two hours after her mom and dad made that trip to the hospital. They didn't think they would be staying so didn't even take anything with them. I was waiting next to my sleeping grandson when a picture pops up on my phone of this beautiful new addition to the family. And she is beautiful. We spent this week getting her to figure out the nursing. My daughter has become such a confident mother. She keeps working and working even when things are struggling a bit. She didn't even need me to spell her in the nights, just got up and fed the baby then both dozed in the chair a bit and back to bed. She may succeed at having one not sleep with her but probably not since they were usually curled up together in the morning when I checked on them. Papa Steve arrived Wednesday when we brought both of them home. The big brother was loving to hold this new sister and asked his mom if it was ok if he kissed her head. He is also in charge of making sure everyone that arrives to see her have put the hand sanitizer on before touching her. Saturday my niece did a great Annie Leibowitz impersonation with incredible photos of the tiny girl. She also did a engagement photo shoot with my son and his fiance at Sand Hollow Reservoir. So they also got a little time with the new niece as well. So it was a wonderful week with changes that will shape the nature of of family forever.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Being the Mother

There are those times when it feels a bit strange being the mother. I feel so much like I still need a mother and now I must be that mother that I wish for. I'm in Boulder trying to decide if I should turn around and head back to St. George to provide the comfort and moral support that a very pregnant girl needs from her mother. Her doctor visit last week put her about halfway there and yesterday she lost the mucus plug and spent the rest of the day and night with nausea and diarrhea. She was trying to decide if it was a symptom of labor that would arrive soon or if she had just picked up a bug at work since no one has been sick at home. Boulder is a long way from the action, especially if it comes fast. Then there is the need for "the mother" when the tiny baby arrives and you're trying to get her to nurse and determine if everything is alright and keep her that way. I keep thinking "and what do I know about all this other than I have two that survived to adulthood." But I do miss my mother for back-up and reinforcements or even just a second opinion. I do hope that I have the opportunity to stick around long enough to be that secondary reinforcement for Geneya and this new little granddaughter that is planning her arrival as I write this. I also know that all I have to do is listen in that different way of hearing and my mother will provide that assistance I need now as well.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010

We brought the New Year in right with card games, a movie, sparklers and some great toasts with the sparkling cider and grape juice. Colby got right into the toasts, making toast to "all" to "Geoff's marriage," and to "his new sister." Today we have a great visit with long time friends the Moores and the Singletons, sharing so many stories of all of our past adventures and updating on all the new. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family and friends.

It is exciting to begin a new decade. You reflect on the last decade and think of all the changes that have occurred in the last 10 years and you know that there will be that many changes in the next 10 years. You just can't possibly imagine what those changes will be. The kids will become a part of their career choices and that will guide the nature of their days. The grandkids get older and taller. They will become who they are meant to be. We will watch ourselves become senior citizens with all the aches and pains that go with that but also enjoy the liberation of that as well. We will lose those people we love, some as planned and some as surprises. There will be new people born to our families. It will all be a very interesting and exciting drama with a litttle touch of comedy.