Friday, September 15, 2017

Powder Mountain

Saturday was Abe’s first mountain bike race of the season. Mike had more than a full day of work he was supposed to do and van breaks needing fixed, so I talked the girls into tending for what I knew would be . . . a lot of hours, and Abe and I, after picking up a friend whose son had left for the race earlier than she had wanted to go, headed off to Powder Mountain.


These races aren’t small. There are schools from all over the state. Hundreds of racers. The races for all the different divisions taking up the majority of the daylight hours. So, at this particular race, they had a relatively small area near the “pit zone” (the field where all the schools’ pavilions, etc. are set up close to the starting line) where you could drop off your racers. Then you were expected to drive to a parking lot much further away where you could take a shuttle bus back to the race.


I pulled up to the drop off area, and, during the brief moment when my friend and I stepped out of the car to make sure Abe had his bike off the rack, etc., . . . I locked my keys . . . and phone . . . and camera in the car (along with my friends’ things). It was one of those dumb things that any number of small things would have prevented from happening. If I’d just left my door open while I helped Abe grab his bike. If I’d just stayed in the car altogether since Abe didn’t actually require any help. If I had left the keys in the ignition (thus stopping the “automatic door lock” from going off on Abe’s car). If I’d put the keys in my pocket. If . . . if . . . if.


Alas there I was – in the area forbidden for long-term parking – unable to do anything but . . . stay parked. We sent Abe off to warm up and find his friend. We talked to the Highway Patrol Officer we found (who said they didn’t carry kits anymore and couldn’t help me). We talked to the people directing traffic – explaining why we were parked . . . where no one was allowed to park. We walked until we found one small bar of reception on my friend’s phone. And then . . . I called Mike.

I couldn’t imagine that getting a locksmith way up there would be any less than a fortune. And I knew Mike’s whole day was impossibly busy. That the whole reason I was at the race and not him was because his day was impossibly busy. But I also knew, as I always know, that Mike would come to the rescue – that he would somehow solve the whole situation without making me feel like I’d inconvenienced him. 

And he did. (Though I did wander about for a bit after calling him asking for, and failing to find, hangers, etc. – hoping to somehow get the car unlocked before Mike had gathered tools and left on the hour-long drive.) Mike arrived, and, with the help of a hanger, something to wedge the door open a crack, and the friendly traffic director . . . got the door open, moved Abe’s car, moved our truck, and found his way to me with my camera just in time for me to catch Abe on the very final stretch of his race and at the finish line . . . covered in dirt. (So much dirt! Every kid in that race looked like they’d crashed in a pile of dirt and dust.)


It’s such a fun atmosphere at those races! It’s always somewhere beautiful. Fall weather setting in. People blowing horns and ringing cowbells as packs of racers go by. And walking through weeds and dirt and over rocks to try and get to another clearing where you might see your racer go by.

And . . . Mike did get to work a little on the van brakes . . . though perhaps not quite as early in the day as he might have wished. . . . (And, naturally, Jesse was with him. I’d tried to put him to bed, but it was just too too terrible to be borne. It’s fun having a little soul so insatiably curious and deeply interested in most anything we are ever trying to figure out. And that Mike. He’s a keeper too.)


Whatever On Earth I Felt Like Writing About

It’s hard to recall for certain if it’s been just since having babies, . . . or since college, . . . or since middle school (when I’d have to set my alarm clock across the room to stop myself from turning it off and falling directly back to sleep), but I think, possibly, I’ve been tired . . . my entire life. Have I? I can’t remember. Usually, after the initial morning struggle, I manage to scuffle and kick and round up all the tiredness. I shoo it all into a closet, turn the key in the lock and, for most of the day, manage to ignore its faint banging on the door. It works pretty well. But today . . . I must have never swept it into the closet (or even under the rug) to begin with because all day it’s been nagging me -- pulling on my sleeves, whining in my ear. But there’s hope of course. Hope for rest. The other morning, when I was surprised by my mom responding to a text at 6:30 AM and asked her what she was doing up so early, she responded that at about 5:00 AM she woke and got thinking about everything that needed to be done that day so she just got up and started on it. “But I can go back to bed later,” she said. “You’re up for the duration, aren’t you. But someday you’ll be 80 and can go back to bed if you want.” Hahaha. Yes. It’s almost as good as the comfort Mike once gave me that I’d have plenty of time to sleep . . . when I’m dead (and even that we weren’t truly certain of). But, when I’m 80. That’s something.

Speaking of my mom, whenever she made spaghetti, she would dump the sauce in the pan, then put a small amount of water in the jar, put the lid on, shake it vigorously, and dump the rest of the sauce (sauce that had been clinging to the jar and was now loosened up by the water) into the pan. I can’t ever just forget that when I make spaghetti myself. When I throw the jar away after the initial dumping out of sauce I always feel a bit guilty and extravagant. And when I take a minute and add the water (even as I fear it will water down my sauce), I feel rather thrifty and pleased with myself.

I went to the temple with my mom a few months ago and then to a bakery afterwards. (This no longer has anything to do with spaghetti sauce). We talked and talked about her courtship with my dad and his experiences in Japan and how, when he asked her to marry him, she had only dared hope that maybe maybe he might be going to ask her to “go steady”, but no, it was marriage! He wanted to MARRY her! She’d prayed for years to someday marry someone “just like Gordon Allred”. It probably couldn’t  be him of course. He was too old (nearly six years older than she was), too . . . distant of a goal. But if she could maybe be lucky enough to marry someone just like him . . . .

When she tells the story now – the surprise final answer to her prayers – she always says, “It turns out there was no one more like Gordon Allred than Gordon Allred himself!”

. . . And then my dad’s sister Penny, upon hearing the news, began jumping on the bed so exubberantly that she broke it. And of course they’d told my mom’s parents, but my dad’s parents were out of town so they agreed they should keep the news quiet until they had a chance to tell them. . . . My mom lasted til all of about 10:00 AM the next morning before she couldn’t stand it any longer and went running down the street to tell the news to her good friend Anne.

And . . . now . . . why was I writing this?? Oh yes. I was thinking of my mom. All the talking that night after the temple. My mom . . . well . . . she understands when I speak. And, as I eagerly poured out all my wonderings about connected spiritual experiences and about God’s shocking efficiency in arranging things being perhaps very different from our own ideas of efficient, it felt very much like I was living at home again – 12 years old and lying on the floor next to her sewing closet – asking her one hundred million questions (enough to exhaust even the most patient of souls) about what she thought The Millennium might be like, or the first-semester college student who was awed by having just scratched the surface of quantum physics and The Theory of Relativity and wanted someone to listen to the new ideas I was bursting to share. As we talked that night, I told her how I trusted my dad was close but hadn’t felt it very obviously. And then, without intending to, I burst out bawling as I told her we would need to find some way for her to more clearly let me know she was around once she left this life because I couldn’t bear not feeling certain of either of them close.

In other news. I had a surprise root canal the other day. I’d had a throbbing toothache for several days and was all trepidation heading to the dentist. The pain was all in the area of a bridge, and I didn’t want a big . . . “to do” in order to solve my problem. I wanted like . . . a rogue piece of a popcorn kernel to be discovered lodged in my gums. But . . . it was the worst case scenario. Which, it turns out, wasn’t actually that terrible. But now I’m sitting here with a missing tooth in my mouth and half a missing tooth where they only partially covered the one that needed the root canal due to time constraints from my unexpected situation. So . . . that’s nothing terribly interesting. Only it felt like it might garner me a little sympathy. “I had to have my bridge yanked off and then a ROOT CANAL the other day!” I feel the sympathy just pouring in. Trickling? Ah well. It wasn’t thrilling. But I’ve had root canals several times in my life and . . . shhhh . . . don’t tell . . . but they don’t actually deserve that much sympathy. It’s mostly just a little longer in the dental chair.

But let’s go back to my parents. That was more interesting.

Several weeks after my dad passed away, I dreamt that I was on an incredibly long and exhausting journey. The entire point of the journey was simply to get home to my dad. I crossed traffic-filled multi-lane roads and made my way along mountainous trails. Sometimes the paths were hard but clear. Other times they were incredibly overgrown and uncertain, and I would follow someone who I trusted knew the way. I never felt lost, but I always marveled that the weed and bush-covered trails did  finally open into clear and obvious paths again. I kept wearing out pairs of shoes – It was funny, I could see them in my dream: all of the colorful, various shoes that I’d worn through – lined up next to each other on an old wooden shelf. At times on my journey trusted companions had to leave me and could only point the way onward, but I kept going until at last I did make it home to my dad. When I got there I was a bit surprised that he didn’t think I’d been gone so very long. But, there was little time to worry about that. I had other friends who I had left – still out there on those overgrown trails, and I knew we needed to busy ourselves with helping them.

It was so clearly and unapologetically symbolic that it almost made me laugh. I was grateful for it though.

Moving on: I don’t know how to manage the fact that Mette won’t stay two forever. Or at least for . . . my entire lifetime. Mind you she has pulled my nerves and sanity as tight and far and see-through thin as they can go without snapping beyond all repair (with her clinging and demanding and sobbing).But . . . then . . . she is also impossibly glorious. She’s impossible AND glorious. And impossibly glorious. Everything. Everything. Her sturdy, bouncy little run. Her straight, bobbed little hair. Her telling me to “draw a duck” thirty times a day (and I’m still no good at it). How could I be allowed something so overwhelmingly wondrous? And how can I allow any bits of it to cease being?

Well, I shall end with pictures as unconnected to this post as the paragraphs of this post itself were to one another.

An evening at the park. (Our AC was out for some time in early September. The temperatures were still often in the 90s and our house doesn’t seem to cool down at night even when outside cools down, so we spent a long time at the park one evening simply to escape the heat trapped in our house. I met a nice lady who I talked and talked to about raising kids and the like as if we’d known each other for years. And then we went our separate ways and I probably wouldn’t recognize her if I saw her again. But she was perfectly pleasant. And now our AC is finally fixed. And we don’t really need it because, as of yesterday, fall is here! Cold weather and rain and thunder. It makes me desperate for pumpkins on the porch and a bushel of peaches from the Perry fruit stands in my fridge.)


And an evening over at Mike’s parents. We stopped by with a cake and visited for a bit while kids jumped on the trampoline and checked on grandpa’s chickens (which are somehow far more novel than our own), and Mike’s brother stopped by and made some sort of flarp like substance with the kids.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Labor Day Weekend (After Some Initial Rambling)

Summer just screamed, “AAAAhh! Mette’s trying to eat something like a person!” I looked over in time to see Mette smile mischievously and make a snapping, biting motion towards Summer. Summer screamed again. Mette snapped again. . . . And then contritely apologized when I came rushing in. “No no Mette! Stop scaring Summer. We don’t eat people. Give her loves and tell her sorry.”

And I haven’t gotten over the strangeness that I now occasionally have to ask, “Where’s Hans?”

Off exploring. That’s where he always is. 

I’ve long since had to block the basement stairs, and he seems to regularly recall that there is a cabinet missing its door in the kitchen and just low enough that if he swipes his arm up (confined to his tummy as he still is in his wanderings) he can manage to knock out a slew of canteen-like water bottles that he can then roll under chairs and under counter edges and under dishwashers. Babies seem to take on so much more personality when you can see where they choose to go. The mobility combined with other “older” sorts of things have made him seem such . . . well . . . such an older baby of late. This week, in a day, he mastered sitting up, and holding his bottle; the other day he was looking at Mike and very clearly “yelled” to get Mike’s attention; and twice he slept for 12 plus hours at night. (True, some of my children were doing 12 hour stretches much much earlier than this, but considering I’ve done nothing particular to dissuade his night wakings, it’s a lovely development.)


In other news. We went off to Bear Lake over Labor Day weekend. Between having a newborn, the flood, and lots of Mike’s vacation days having been needed for other things, we’d only been up two times this year! TWO TIMES. So I was feeling extra lonesome for the place and anxious to be there. And so when the weekend went ahead and obligingly gave us possibly the warmest Labor Day we’ve had up there, I was quite happy! (The summer is often very short up there. We’ve had snow there on Memorial Day weekend and then cold jacket-wearing weather by Labor Day many times.) And while I’ve decided once and for all that October truly is my favorite month of the year, and while Mike prefers fall at the cabin himself, summer is what I most long for at Bear Lake.


We kept windows and cabin deck doors open. The days were warm and the nights cool. (We didn’t actually keep all the deck doors open. The kids and Mike were overly fond of the spider-web and frightening, furry spider who was using it that covered part of this door and kept telling me to close it again every time I opened it lest I disturb him.)

IMG_8519(I could not for the life of me figure how to get a clear picture of it. I tried sprinkling water droplets on it to make the web stand out, but I only succeeded in getting the window pane behind the web wet.)

But this was made up for by my getting to keep the door open in the loft that leads to the very tiny deck at the back of our cabin. I like that puny little deck in theory, but we rarely go out there or even open its door as it faces the front of our neighbor’s cabin and is placed in such a way that, when open, it feels oddly like we are staring at one another. This time however the sleeping pad that I put across the open doorway to block Hans from escaping out of it sufficiently obscured our view of our neighbor . . . and his view of us . . . to make leaving it open seem mostly acceptable.

We read some of A Face Like Glass, Mike let me sleep in, and we watched late movies. We went to the beach, ordered pizza, ate lots of treats (one time we ran out of treats during a Bear Lake trip and we nearly all died), and got shakes at Zipz on their last day open for the season. Mike took the older three kids on a long 4-wheeler ride to Peter Sinks (actually, he was uncertain when or if they were officially at Peter Sinks as it wasn’t perfectly clear – which disappointed him), and the younger kids he let ride go-carts at the local . . . go-cart . . . raceway . . . place (I don’t know what one calls it). We fed carp at the marina and arm-wrestled and stacked rocks (pebbles?) in contest on the beach, and, on the way home, when I mentioned how many dead deer we’d seen on the roads, Summer calmly said, “Well there’s some deer that aren’t dead,” and pointed to a herd of cows. It was a lovely trip.


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