Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas lead up.

I realized on our second to last batch of cookies, that if I didn't take a picture now, I wouldn't get one. These are mostly for the kids' teachers,  with a few neighborhood families' cookies too. I've actually lost count how many batches we've done, maybe four? Of 4x the recipe each batch. However, I didn't let it stress me out this year. I just enjoyed. I put on Christmas music, or even a sappy Hallmark movie (you don't actually have to watch those, listening's enough they are so formulaic -love em), and just got lost in the creating.
I've decided it's one of my favorite things to deliver cookies to people. A lot of my friends talk a good game about no sugar, sugar is the devil, etc., but there is always somebody in the house glad to see you when you bring cookies.

 The other thing I've done with most of my December is visit Activity Day groups. I'm over this program in our Stake (group of ten congregations). It provides an activity for girls ages 8-11 twice a month after school. These leaders had such fun ideas for Christmas! It was a great time to visit for me (I'm hoping I don't get sued for using these pictures on my blog --no names at least!). This first group is wrapping caramels to deliver to their neighbors.

 These girls are "printmaking". They used red and green printer's ink, made a printing block out of a part of a foam sheet, then made the prints and used them on Christmas cards.

 These were mine. I loved them and packed them up to take home, then rushed out and left them. So sad.
 These girls made candy trains, 

 and read Christmas stories. I had no idea "The Little Match Girl" was so sad. I'd heard it before, but dang. It's heartbreaking.
 Last Saturday Tia sang in the Assembly Hall at Temple Square with her choir, and Jeff and I rode trax from my mom's to go see her.
 I got excited and took a picture right when we got in. At the last second the FLASH went off. I KNOW that was a huge no no during a performance and I was pretty embarrassed.
 We moved to get closer and I got a better shot at least of part of the choir. 

 The last song, an arrangement of "O Come All Ye Faithful" was especially amazing. It just filled up that room. Do you know that feeling where there's a balloon in your chest filling up, getting bigger and bigger and you can't catch your breath? I felt like that listening to that last song.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Growing up in Lemon Grove

I meant for this post to go somewhere, but it never fleshed out. I hate to throw it out completely so I'm going to post it as is. I love these pictures my Dad scanned and sent me.

I didn't really spend my whole childhood in Lemon Grove, but it is where I grew up. When I was 10 or 11, my family moved into my Great Grandpa's house. I didn't leave until college, and a lot changed in that time!
Lemon Grove is part of San Diego county, and although we call it "Ghetto Grove" sometimes, it was a nice small town kind of place to grow up. We had a huge yard with every kind of fruit tree that grows in a Mediterranean climate (even pomegranates and loquats). There were six of us kids, and if there weren't a lot of neighbor kids to play with, at least we had each other. It was kind of a strange little neighborhood. We had houses on one side of us and behind us, but across the street was a gas station, and on the other side of our house was a 7/11. Neither of those places brought in the best people. We were under the impression that it was a really bad area for a while, but my brother had to do a research paper for his class once, and called the police station to find out the amount of crime in the neighborhood, and there wasn't much. It was really kind of a sleepy little town attached to big bad San Diego. Until the trolley came through. That wasn't super good for the area

But. Until then, we played in the yard, got smoked fish from the retired Navy guy next door and New York Seltzers form 7/11, I learned about important things like the daily use of deodorant, and shoulder pads. The trolley line was soon installed to run alongside the train tracks from decades ago, and connected our little town all the way down to San Ysidro and Downtown San Diego. In my mind it's all the trolley's fault that Lemon Grove started going downhill, but that's probably not strictly true. The mid to late 80's meant a huge up-swell in gang culture everywhere, and it hit San Diego with a vengeance. We were all careful not to wear blue or red bandanas. My brother decided he wanted to be home-schooled for a couple of years because school seemed dangerous.  I had a friend  killed defending his younger brother who mouthed off to some gangbangers. 
 I had a great time in high school though. I dated a bunch, and had a great group of friends. I was only offered cocaine once --in pre-calculus class, and stayed out of the way of the aggressive black girls in the girl's bathroom. There were some serious racial undercurrents going on, but I kind of dodged as much as I could. Everyone knew I didn't drink or smoke or have sex, and it kept me out of trouble for the most part. 

I made it through graduation with some great friendships I took as prizes with me. Still admire these girls and keep in touch a little. They taught me how to be a friend to girls. It was the best place in the world for me to grow up. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Brenda and Rocks and Halloween

This is my cute friend, and my cute husband. We went on a double date to the shooting range. I wanted to write a little about this because I realized I've got complicated feelings about guns. I grew up in Southern California where regular use of guns for hunting, like around here in Utah, is not the norm. My exposure to guns was hearing about drive by shootings, and a gun tragedy at my Dad's employee's house. They weren't something good guys had. The bad guys had guns. 
 A few years ago Jeff talked me into getting my concealed carry permit. I remember being in the class as they handed around a gun to show us how to take it apart.  I was shaking and had a really hard time through most of the class. I felt like an idiot reacting this way, but as I remember and write all of this out, I'm inclined to give myself a pass. Anyway I got on board, and Jeff and I have had some really good times at the gun range with friends. 

 My friend's husband is a great hunter as is Brenda herself. They have been very generous with elk and fish --not a bad gig to be their friends! The guns themselves are fun -- like high tech toys. You just have to always keep in mind at the same time that they are dangerous. It's an odd juxtaposition.
 The bullets themselves are pretty --like shiny jewelry. As you shoot, the bullet backs (the brass) pop out of the back of the gun, and they are HOT. One of them popped right into the neck of my blouse and burned the heck out of my chest before I could get it out. Turtlenecks only for me from now on at the range.
 Monte brought his high powered rifle to let us try. I was scared to shoot it because I remembered the kick of a shotgun and how much it hurt my shoulder, but there was next to no kick on this guy --it was just LOUD. That was one drawback of a date to the range, you can't really have a ...conversation!
 The next day Brenda and I had our Haunted half marathon up the south fork of Provo Canyon. It was beautiful. One of the prettiest courses I'd ever seen. Huge race though --there must have been 2,000 people there, and most were in costume. We saw: the Jamaican bobsled team, Wolverine, the Joker, Tweedle dee and dum, a Home teacher on the last day of the month (that was hilarious. He was in a  full suit and tie), lots of witches and Minnies and Mickys. I wish I could remember all of them. 

 Great props.

 Oh! Alice in Wonderland.
 I liked the big markers --you weren't going to miss them!
 I loved this -- a group of friends dressed as the Pink Ladies. They welcomed us to the finish line. We took our time this race :)

 This last Thursday I needed some centering, and indulged in a drive up to Rock Canyon for my run. Most of the leaves are gone now, but I still loved it. The rock formations are spectacular here. 
 I saw a Western Blue Jay --can you see him? I may buy a dang telephoto lens for my phone camera!

 I don't know why this happens, but every once in a while you see a candle flame of a tree left with its glory. 

 Halloween itself we went to our neighborhood's street of treats. Who need trunks?? My friend Kelli puts herself on the line year after year organizing it, and it's a wonderful time to talk with everyone and just enjoy yourself. When I was little we would have ward potluck dinners that I loved (I have great memories of running up and down the halls --reverence? What's that?), and this reminds me of that casual, fun atmosphere although it's a neighborhood thing instead of church. 
 We take our Halloween seriously around here!

 It was my turn to plan the date night, and I really wanted to go do this Sleepy Hollow ride that Brenda had told me about. Her husband was hunting, and this was the last weekend, so I booked Jeff and I for Halloween night. I felt kind of bad leaving the trick or treating early, but the kids were good with a movie and PLENTY of treats, so we went for it. My other friend called last minute to ask me for a good date idea for her and her husband, and I asked them to come along. Made it twice as fun. We hadn't done anything with them in a long time. 

 I still had my orange "Merida" hair from street of treats, but I figured it matched Halloween.

These were gorgeous horses. They pulled us through Sleepy Hollow village, and we saw Ichabod's school, and Katrina van Tassel's house, and raced through the forest with the Headless Horseman chasing us. The story played in the cart, and they had the whole thing set up around us. It was really cool. I highly recommend it! I tried to take a picture of the Headless Horseman, horse, dark night... you couldn't see much. 

Now I want to go back for this. Brenda are you up for it? I stole your idea for Halloween so I owe you!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's all beautiful...

 I've been doing a lot of avoidance strategies lately: facebook, netflix, reading blogs. I realized I was so busy for a while, it gave me a great sense of purpose. When things slowed down a little bit, I had a hole I needed to fill. Add to that a scare I had the other day (well, it hasn't gone away yet really) with a friend's health, and I found I was trying to escape my own life. 
 I was reading John Scalzi's blog, and ran across a post that really resonated: It's all beautiful and nothing lasts.   He talked about a dream he had, and this is something he says in the dream. What struck me, was that it wasn't defeatist, it was motivational: it doesn't last so enjoy the heck out of life while you have it --whatever it is. 
 I went to my daughter's choir concert last night, and they had a mentally handicapped girl there participating. At the end of the first song, she screamed "more more" so the choir sang her favorite song for her. She was so over-stimulated that she kind of lost control, and was rubbing her face and shouting, and flailing, and I thought --her parents! The pain they must feel right now! The pain they feel every day! But I looked at the choir, and those kids just saw that they were making this girl happy. They saw beauty. I realized that you could see the moment in two different ways. I've been looking at things wrong a lot. 
 Excuse the clichéed simile with autumn and death. Each week I see more and more leaves fall, each week the beauty moves down the mountain. At first the brightest colors are the furthest away, but as winter and death gets closer, the color moves down towards the valley, toward my own front yard. Soon the aspens by my driveway will be bright gold; then they will be dead for winter. 
 With more intense feelings, even bad ones, come more beauty. I valued my friend more as I feared for her health. I mourn the loss of having little babies in the house, and passed a mom with a 6 month old in the grocery store yesterday, and said "you are so lucky!" I saw the beauty in the little baby girl precisely because my baby days were over. I don't remember if I knew how lucky I was when I had babies. I hope I did, but there is beauty in the remembering and yearning too. 
 So I run up the mountain, and enjoy the beauty even of the leaves that have fallen. When winter comes, I will no doubt exclaim over snow and ice crystals. I hope I can stop and enjoy listening to Ari and Kai's chatter after school today. Tia still thinks I'm funny sometimes. I hope I appreciate that now -- It won't last!
 To see the beauty, I have to look for it in each moment. Remember with fondness, and not block the pain --there is beauty in the fallen leaves too.