Monday, June 28, 2010

Some Thoughts on Thoughts

I have literally at least 1500 letters to send out this week, but you know what I’m going to do instead? A blog post. I haven’t written anything for some time, and there’s no big hurry on those letters anyway.

I’ve been thinking. A few weeks ago we had a retirement social at the COB for a lady who has worked here for 20+ years. Her boss did the obligatory eulogy – people here like to call these socials “viewings” and refer to the talk as a “eulogy” because they are just that funny, and that old. While talking about the dearly departing, he said that he had never known her to have a bad day, to be grumpy or out of sorts, to say an angry word, blah, blah, blah. I thought to myself, “I don’t believe it.” And I still don’t. It’s not that I’ve had an encounter with this woman, I haven’t, it’s just that I know better than to think that anyone can get through 20 years at a job without a bad day. I haven’t gotten through the last 20 days without losing my cool. If a girl were to believe that her coworkers are models of perfection while she’s at her desk cursing under her breathe, she’d have the stuff of a huge guilt complex, and I don’t like huge guilt complexes. They get uncomfortable after a while.

But still, there is some honesty when a person gives that kind of praise. I think that at times of parting, or when a phase of our life is over and we look back on it, our minds automatically remember people with kindness. The bad stuff is cut out. That's a real blessing, isn't it? It's a wonderful ability we have.

Sometimes I think that the things I’ve put on this blog about my childhood on the farm are so idyllic, when the truth is that I whined about weeding the garden and hauling water and shelling peas and all of that work every day I had to do it. Farm life is difficult. Mom and Dad struggled against bad weather, sick calves, and poor crop and livestock prices just to make ends meet. It was hard. But now…now, while I’m still aware of the bad days, I think more about riding with Dad on the tractor, and following him while he used the tiller so that I could feel the cool, new dirt between my toes, and loving the smell of the air at night. It was so good, so that’s what I talk about. And besides, you don’t want to hear me still crying about having to pull weeds all day, 30 years later.

So the next time you’re in church, or Relief Society, or somewhere where a person is being praised for being a great mother, wife, coworker, friend, don’t compare that person to yourself and feel guilty. We’re all human. We all have our flaws. We’ve all said things we shouldn’t, and we’ve all had bad days. It’s just that the bad days don’t matter as much as the good, so they get erased from the brain over time. And really, no one is going to talk in sacrament meeting about all of the times her mother screamed her head off at her. That wouldn’t be appropriate.

A good part of life is choosing what to keep and what to throw away, including memories. Fortunately most of us choose the good.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In Crisis

This is about my 100th blog look in as many hours. I think I need some therapy for this identity crisis, and I don't think that the crisis is over yet.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my dad! Thank you for reading to me, for the long talks out in the garden, for playing the guitar and singing, for letting me ride on your back like a horse, for thinking that I'm funny, for giving me good brothers and a sister, for marrying mom, and for quietly supporting me all of these years since I grew up. I love you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


This is me with my cousin Kari (on the right) circa 1975. She and I were born within three weeks of each other, and grew up playing together on our Grandpa Olaf's farm. Her family lived close to Grandpa, so when we weren't at his house then we were at hers. We loved to reenact Little House on the Prairie, or to ride her family's horses, slowly for my sake. They had many acres of wooded land in Ashby, MN, with a small lake to go ice skating on in the winter. Her older brothers and mine are close to the same age, too, so our two families meshed perfectly. The boys like to go out into the woods and play war games (more literally than our parents would have approved of had they known). I can't think of one childhood memory with that side of the family that doesn't include Kari and her family.

Last week Kari and her sisters, Lori and Brit, and their kids came to Salt Lake for a visit! It was wonderful and so surreal to have them here. My Minnesota and Utah worlds came crashing together - you may have heard the kaboom. Since growing up and leaving home we haven't had much time together, so I was almost surprised at how easy it was to hang out again. We told stories from our collective childhood together, and then got caught up on what we're all doing now. Sunday evening we were at Aaron's house, and then Monday they came downtown to have lunch and see Temple Square. I loved showing them where I work. That evening we went to their hotel so that the kids could use the pool, and the grown ups sat and talked some more. It's strange that we're the grown ups now. It doesn't seem that long ago that we were the ones told to go and play, code for "leave us alone for a while".

I really loved having them here, and I loved having a reminder of where I came from. I'm going back in July for a family reunion, and will see them all again. I'll take lots of pictures so that you can see the places I've been talking about. Just thinking about it make me smile.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Week in Review

Hi. It’s Friday. This was a short work week with the holiday Monday, so Friday came quickly. And I was very ill (I’ll spare you the details) Tuesday through Thursday, which leaves me now realizing that I don’t remember much of the week…? I know that people say that getting sick is a blessing because it gives you a greater appreciation for good health. I think that I’d be ok with never getting this again, and just having a general liking of good health.

Let’s do a week in review.

Trains, No Planes, and One Automobile
Melissa and I drove the beloved Ford Taurus to the Golden Spike National Site on Monday. It’s about 30 or 40 miles west of Brigham City, a pleasant and easy drive. The site is the place where, in 1869, the construction of the Central Pacific railroad coming from California and the Union Pacific railroad coming from Iowa met. The last spike was driven here, finishing the first transcontinental railroad line. They had a ceremony highlighted by the placing of The Golden Spike. I kind of thought that, at the original ceremony, they drove a real golden spike into the rail tile and left it there, but they didn’t. The golden spike was ornamental, symbolic, and not to be driven with a huge sledge hammer into a wood tile. Only real spikes are in the tiles. I suppose that makes more sense.

Anyway, there was a reenactment of the ceremony, and then a demonstration on how the locomotives worked (they always said “locomotive” in the demonstration, not train). There were two things that I found very interesting. When the last spike was driven (again, not an actual golden spike), a telegraph message saying “DONE” went out to cities all over the country, and those cities held huge celebrations – fireworks, cannons, all kinds of tom foolery. When you think about it, having a transcontinental railway was a huge achievement for the country and well worth the attention.

The second interesting thing we learned was that the locomotives were powered by steam (I kind of knew that before). Water was held in a 2,000 gallon tank that went along the back part of the engine, and then they burned either wood or coal to create the steam. I don’t really know how to accurately describe how much wood they stocked up. They said that it was 5 cords, but really what does that mean to the average person? I’d say the pile was about 4 feet high 20 feet wide and 40 feet long - pretty big. That much would and water created enough steam to power the engine – for 30 miles. 2,000 gallons of water got them 30 miles. I couldn’t believe it! Burning coal instead of wood got them about 100 miles because coal burns more efficiently. I think that trains then went about 30 miles an hour, which meant that once an hour they had to stop for more water and wood. Geesh ,that sounds like a lot of work. But still, traveling by train would have been easier for people than walking along side a wagon or pulling a handcart across the plains. And the break gave them a chance to use the bathroom and get a big gulp at the local 7-Eleven.

Here are some photos.

I’m reading a novel called the "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society", and I love it! What a good book. It’s set on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands between England and France in 1946. The whole story is written in letters to and from the different characters. It’s lighthearted and fun, and yet there are sad pieces when the people are remembering their lives during the War. The sadness is real, but it’s not so heavy that it weighs down the whole book. There's a good balance of depth and humor. I highly recommend it.
I think that's it for today. Thanks, as always, for keeping in touch.
You are loved.