Monday, August 29, 2011

What it Takes

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.
(Many thanks to Heidi Hathaway for posting this on FB.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Guess it's finally our turn to get hot, so I put up a great hot-weather fast-and-easy recipe on  I guess we have to be mature about this since the East Coast has had an earthquake, the rest of the country has had their heatwaves, and Texas has their drought.  I feel like we've been dodging a bullet this summer.  It's been the most pleasant I can ever remember: moderate in the mornings, and warm, but not scorching, in the afternoons.

I always knew the Real Summer would come to get us.  Look like it's time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Slammed by the Start of School

I came home from vacation about two weeks ago Sunday.  Monday I started in at the computer, cranking out documents for my class.  Tuesday: Orientation.  Wed, Thurs, more of the same then Friday we helped Dave's niece move to LA.  Saturday I prepared a lesson for the women in my church, Sunday I gave it and Monday I started teaching.  From one thing to another to another, this is the first moment I've had to breathe since we returned.  And as I speak, I'm washing bedding, laundry and hope to do a bathroom or two before the weekend is over (I'm not even mentioning the vacuuming!).

Busy is as busy does.

My nephew and his wife had a new baby.  My son and his wife welcomed the second of their soon-to-be-adopted children into their home (just found out yesterday), and his new job has him cooking at work about 12 hours a day on a the good days.  Another son spends his days, like me, on the computer, writing in-house code for their software.  My mother and father saw their granddaughter's college commencement, then a niece's baby blessed.  Another sister just completed Beach Week with her children-by-marriage and their families.  A friend has been setting up her classroom, moving desks, bookcases, putting stuff up on walls.  Another son and his family are settling in to their new house and are exploring and playing and talking walks in the creek behind their house.  (Yes.  IN the creek.)  And that same son is busy in his new job.  My daughter's husband begins dental school next week, and their children started school the same day as I.  Another friend is writing her syllabi for her classes.  Another friend is mounting an exhibition of her infrared images of Japanese Internment camps.

Busy is as busy does.

An old saying goes "better to wear out, than rust out," but there are some days when I just want to go back to that evening in southern Idaho when we stopped in a tiny town called Paris and photographed the sun setting on the mountains across the valley.  No one was on the streets, and the only people I saw were in cars that occasionally passed by on the road below.  We'd taken a side street up into a small hillside cemetery, where surely the town's fathers and forefathers had been laid to rest. We turned and looked across the valley, the scene changing moment by moment: golds and purples and rosy hues that compelled to stay and enjoy, to rest,  rather than hurrying down the 89 to our final destination.

So when the knots in your shoulders become like stone, take a moment and think about when you paused from the busy to let the day, the twilight, seep in.

And take a breath.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Interacting with LA

Going to LA is always an interesting experience for us in the hinterlands--aka, the glorious suburb of Los Angeles that stretches all the way to Vegas and Phoenix.  We are subsumed by this city.  If someone asks us where we are from (like they did when we were in Yellowstone this month), we don't say the name of our town.  We say "oh, about an hour east of LA."  They nod, because everyone knows where LA is, but nobody (well, hardly anyone) knows where our city is.

Our city is no slouch of a place, population-wise.  We're pushing 300,000 folks according to the official freeway signs.  If we were in the middle of Wyoming, we would BE the big city.  Or Utah.  Or Iowa, maybe.  I don't know.  But we ACT like the little sister, with few restaurants of a non-chain variety, a weak cultural vein of entertainment to mine, and downtown library that is a bit of an embarrassment, when compared to Salt Lake City's glorious edifice (I'm still impressed from when I was there two years ago).

So, we don't head to LA much, other than to visit Michael Levine's fabric emporium.  But now I'll have more reasons to go there: my husband's niece is going to USC grad school.  She and her mother (and a new dachshund puppy) arrived in a U-Haul truck, pulling Heidi's car behind on a hitch.

They spent the night, then we ditched the hitch at our local U-Haul place and drove into LA to move her into her place in the Big City: El-Lay.  We caravanned: me in our car, then Heidi in hers, then Dave and his sister Janice (Heidi's mom) in the U-Haul truck.  Tricky in traffic, that's for sure.

Imprint in the side of the freeway divider.  I could take this photo because it was the 101-Hollywood Freeway and at noon on a Friday, we were in stop-and-go traffic.  Welcome to LA.  We made our way to her apartment building, and by some miracle, both Heidi and I found parking places; Janice parked the U-Haul in front of the building.

She's here!!

Dave and I, keeping an eye on our time, started to help unload the truck.  Janice and I traded turns digging out the boxes from the truck/running the stuff to her apartment (first floor, blessedly!).  Within two hours, it was all unloaded, our faces were red, we were tired, but Heidi was moved in to her studio apartment.  It was 2:20 and Dave and I jumped back into our car and drove home, catching some of the Friday traffic, but mostly ahead of it.  I didn't get a shot of her apartment, filled with boxes, some furniture and a bicycle, but imagine something like this:


More like this.  
While we were there we got to see the underground economy at work: Two men, one older and graying (named Juan) were transporting scads of bottles, cans, etc. in giant plastic sacks down to the front of the  building.  A few more men with these bags filled with recyclables showed up as well.  Soon, another truck showed up, collected these bottles and cans and paid the men.  Juan offered to help us a bit, carrying a few lightweight things up to Heidi's apartment (she has seven steps to go up), a kind gesture for a new neighbor.  The helados (ice-cream cart) man who was passing even brought up some planter boxes of hers to her apartment, his gold-teeth glinting as he smiled (not in a sinister way).  I suggested to Heidi that she may want to learn some Spanish, as nearly everyone in her building had a foreign-sounding last name, coupled with the fact that her landlady barely speaks English (the landlady had brought her daughter to help translate).

Los Angeles has been called a "great big freeway" by some.  But I think of it more as a place where there are lots of little neighborhoods, each with their own flavor.  This idea is common in many big cities, but somehow when we think of LA, we tend to ignore this idea, focusing instead on Hollywood, or the numerous freeways, or its sprawl.

But yesterday I got a chance to focus in on the human side of this place, to see a neighborhood in action, to participate.  It was lovely.

Welcome to Los Angleles, Heidi!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our Anniversary Celebration

So we decided to skip the polishing/shining thing, and instead we packed a picnic and took off to our favorite park.

Where we had pinwheel sandwiches (only took me 2 hours to find the lahvosh cracker bread), roasted beet and miniature tomatoes in lemon vinaigrette, melon wrapped with proscuitto, two kinds of exotic soda from LA and for dessert. . .

. . . Fresh Berry Tart.

And chocolates.  And a romantic view of the. . .
When we came back to the car, Riverside City had honored us with a momento of our time there: a parking ticket (we thought we'd checked thoroughly).  Truly memorable.

Here's to another twenty-two years!

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Yes, we've been married for some time now. 
Thought you'd like the flashback photo of us on our wedding day.
We plan to celebrate by doing prep work for our teaching, surviving the hot summer, and polishing our crown and medals. 
We do this once a year, whether we need it or not.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


by Marguerite Stewart

When I went to the door, at the whisper of knocking,
I saw Simeon Gantner's daughter, Kathleen, standing
There, in her shawl and her shame, sent to ask
"Forgiveness Flour" for her bread. "Forgiveness Flour,"
We call it in our corner. If one has erred, one
Is sent to ask for flour of his neighbors. If they loan it
To him, that means he can stay, but if they refuse, he had
Best take himself off. I looked at Kathleen . . .
What a jewel of a daughter, though not much like her
Father, more's the pity. "I'll give you flour," I
Said, and went to measure it. Measuring was the rub.
If I gave too much, neighbors would think I made sin
Easy, but if I gave too little, they would label me
"Close." While I stood measuring, Joel, my husband,
Came in from the mill, a great bag of flour on his
Shoulder, and seeing her there, shrinking in the
Doorway, he tossed the bag at her feet. "Here, take
All of it." And so she had flour for many loaves,
While I stood measuring.

And *this,* too.
The older I get the more I depend on the blessing and power of forgiveness in my life.  When I went to the Springville Art Museum while in Utah this past 11 days, I saw this statue and immediately thought of the the poem Forgiveness Flour (above).  In tracking down information about the poem, I came upon a speech on forgiveness given at BYU, a powerful address that I plan to print out and place in my scriptures.  It's the link just below the poem.