The ApocEclipse that wasn’t

IMG_1198

IMG_1212

Today in my “sent” mail I found an email I sent to some of my family in November 2013 in which I recalled seeing a solar eclipse in totality in 1979 and I stated, “The next one is in 2017. Let’s go!”

I since tried a couple of other times to drum up interest and failed.

And then August 21, 2017 drew nearer and I was recovering from surgery that consumed my entire summer and no one else was interested but even if they were the hotels were all booked up or required a 3-night stay minimum.

And the ubiquitous “they” issued dire warnings about people getting stranded because there would be so many people and traffic would be so bad that grocery stores shelves would be emptied, McDonalds would run out of food, cell service would be disrupted, and gas stations would run out of gas.

I had one friend from Idaho predict that people would die.

So I felt smug in my wise decision not to settle for 90%.

Until Wednesday. I became curious and googled my brothers in Idaho and Oregon’s zip codes and realized that at least one of them was in the path of totality. I figured if I left at 6am Thursday morning I might miss the worst of the traffic. Then I could hunker down at his house and leave for my return trip sometime later this week.

And then my coworker shared stories of how grocery stores in Idaho had lines out the door since Monday and were already sold out of milk and bananas.

Bananas.

Turns out I could have left at 6am Thursday. Or 6pm Thursday. Or any time Friday (although, as is typical, it was a little messy and slow during peak Friday hours). Or Saturday. Or Sunday.

Or even this morning, but that would have had to have been well before dark.

The mayhem and disorder, at least from what I hear, BECAUSE I WAS NOT THERE TO SEE FOR MYSELF, never materialized.

The experts were wrong.

And I learned something important.

Next time I want to do something, important–like maybe twice in a lifetime important–I shouldn’t worry that no one wants to go with me. Or that “they” are predicting the worst. If I really want to do something, I should just do it. Even if it means I have to do it by myself.*

*my coworker told me today that her little mom drove all my herself to some campground in Wyoming and pitched her little tent and watched the eclipse in totality all by herself.

Brava!

Feeling tired

leisure

Note: This prompt was posted on a Friday. I saw it on a Friday afternoon. Friday is usually my night to unwind from the week and (hopefully) get a good sleep so I can hit the weekend running (well, as of late, not so much the run) Saturday morning and at least put a dent in thingthatgetneglectedthroughouttheweek.

True story. I keep hearing these commercials on the radio for Low T (testosterone) and as the guy lists the symptoms one by one my one thought is always, “Every woman I know has all these symptoms. Why are they only helping the men?”!

The biggest one is fatigue. Sometimes I am actual bone tired. Tired down to my bones. I don’t know why. But since, as I said, most every woman–particularly every MOTHER–I know is also this tired, I suspect it is just life. Or the fact that women are born with low testosterone.

In any case, the prompt asked for how we overcome. And my response is simply that we don’t. We just keep forcing our tired selves out of bed each day and lather, rinse, repeat. Off to work (rarely, but on a good day, some dishes or–even more rarely–meal prep in a crockpot might occur). Come home to hear “What’s for dinner” as we are mindfully picking up one foot and forcing it up the stairs before forcing ourselves to lift the other and will it to the next step. On most days (the exception sometimes being in spring or fall when I actually feel human for a few weeks while it is neither far too hot or far too cold) I find myself wishing I could walk straight through to my bedroom and pull on my pajamas and go to bed.

But I don’t.

In other words, I am still in that period of my life where I am always tired.

And I don’t know the answer. If I did, I certainly wouldn’t be tired any longer.

The end.

But wait. Here is what else I have to say about being tired. Remember when you were in nursery school at the presbyterian (or some other) church and you had to take an old, frayed, raggedy towel to class were told to lay down your head and nap for ten minutes and you never did because you thought a nap was the biggest waste of time in the history of the world?

You were wrong.

And little did you know that half a century later you wish you could have every single on of those refused naps right back.

Today’s prompt: what books made a difference in your life when you were a kid? Why?

All Quiet on the Western Front impacted me in that I realized as I read it and found myself feeling empathy for the characters that my empathy was for people I had grown up believing were my enemy. There are two takeaways from this. Sometimes people may be forced to do things they neither understand nor have their heart into. I’m sure the disillusionment was felt on both sides. So it’s entirely possible we may have more in common with someone we see as our enemy or at the very least “on the other side” than we realize. And two, Seeing things from someone else’s point of view can evoke compassion and empathy. I’ve felt this time and time again through reading. As noted by Azar Nafisi in Reading Lolita in Tehran:

Empathy lies at the heart of Gatsby, like so many other great novels–the biggest sin is to be blind to others’ problems and pains. Not seeing them means denying their existence.

I found Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl both humbling and empowering. It kind of punched me in the heart with the realization that our happiness is not a product of our circumstances. We have the power to choose happiness even when others try–or go to great extremes–to rob us of basic necessities and human dignity. This reminds me of a number of other books I’ve read about WWII and the Holocaust whose message is that when all is lost–or, more honestly–taken from us–we can still choose kindness.

Where did your family go to eat for special occasions

(I need a new tag for my Ann Cannon prompts!)

Being the oldest of 6 kids, I don’t find it in any way surprising we did not go out to eat very much. But when we did, there were two places I remember as a kid. My dad’s favorite place was a buffet called The Kings Table. It had kind of medieval castle kind of feel and it must have been pretty a much meat and potatoes, European smorgasbord type of place. I’m sure we must have only eat there 2 or 3 times tops, but those 2 or 3 times stayed with me.

Another place we went on very rare occasion was a steak and seafood place. I want to say Black Angus, but I don’t think the original chain would have been around a way back when. Part of me wants to say it was the Sizzler, but that too would have been a very different Sizzler. Because this was quite good. I do recall going there with my dad at least once. What I mostly remembered was that he enjoyed a good steak. This was good, as we raised black angus on our farm.

But my primary memories of the good steak and seafood place were with my seminary teacher. Sister Wirrick made a special deal with all her seminary students that if we read the year’s scripture from cover to cover, she would take us out for steak and seafood at the end of the year.

And that’s how it came to be that as a naive youth I slogged through the Song of Solomon and what else have you.

When I first moved to Utah to attend BYU my maternal grandparents were still living in Southern (way Southern) California. I remember my Grandpa Jacobs taking me out to the Chuck-a-rama (at least once on a Sunday!) when he came to visit.

Family gatherings at the Chuck-a-rama (or somethings at the Golden Corral) likely merit their own blog post, so we’ll skip to Brick Oven.

My mother enjoyed Brick Oven. We, like much of the rest of Provo, went there to celebrate special occasions such as a graduation. When family came to town, we gathered there a few times with my mother once she was on hospice and feeling up to it, before she died. Those were good times.

El Azteca probably merits its own blog post as well, so now I have a prompt or two for a rainy day.

plain simple help

Since I am still in recovery on week 8 of what I expected to be a 6-week recovery, said recovery is still very much on my mind. Here are some things people said to me that encouraged me and made me feel better. (And let me tell you, this experience has been humbling. I can think of few times when I have needed encouragement more.)

1. I was talking to my friend Jane about operating from a place of fear. Like me, Jane has knee issues and has a serious knee surgery or two under her belt. I am generally not a fearful person, so I’ve been frustrated with myself for being so fearful, as well as puzzled by why this experience has been so different. Jane said, “It’s because we are older and we’ve been through a few things. We know how much time it takes to heal and we just don’t have time to go through it again.”

One, it felt good to know I was not alone. Two, coming to an understanding of something feels better, even when it doesn’t change things.

2. I did not bounce back from this as quickly as I expected and found my strength and my stamina nowhere what it was during my ACL surgery 14 years ago. My friend Cyndi and I were discussing the humbling effects of aging and the experience of finding yourself physically weak, when you are generally accustomed to being strong. Cyndi just finished training for occupational therapy, and has a lot of experience rehabbing people in a facility. She reassured me I was strong enough. “You’re stronger than you think. I’ve had a number of patients your age who were not strong enough to be released to recover at home.”

A perspective from someone with a broader experience than my limited one helped me be more grateful for the strength I did have.

3. Strength and stamina round 2. Still frustrated, I was lamenting over the effects of my desk job to my brother. (Again, comparing myself now to myself 14 years ago.) He too had another perspective. “I do physical labor.” (He is an electrician, but also now runs a small ranch primarily by himself.) “I have noticed a difference in my muscle mass just in the last 5 years.”

Hearing understanding and empathy was just what I needed to not feel this was somehow my fault.

4. My friend Vonda Gren told me emphatically in church on the first Sunday I was able to return, “I pray for you every day!”

And so it was when a physical therapist came knocking at my door later that evening and I heard a voice in my head say, “This is a direct answer to a prayer,” I knew exactly whose prayer it was.

***************

The gist of it is this.

Listen. Connect. Love.

Help, plain and simple.

America

After months of great anticipation, I finally made it to see Wonder Woman on Saturday. I loved it! I was so moved by it I wanted to stay still right there in my luxury lounger chair and watch it all over again.

As I reflected on the experience, I realized that particular day was the perfect time for me to have seen the film. Because as I watched the disillusionment spread across Diana’s face–not just her face but her whole self–I was, for the umpteenth time, feeling a similar disillusionment.

Here we are again, fighting Nazis and their terrible brand of hate. In my country, land that I love. In 2017.

I’m not naive enough to be unaware that this kind of hate persists, still continues to exist. What gut punches me is that to so many this brand of hate is simply seen as free speech. That it should somehow be accepted and even protected.

And while it wasn’t surprising–based on past experience, I knew better than to expect compassion–I was nonetheless disappointed with a complete lack of leadership when a bold and clear response was so clearly needed to call evil by its name and to declare it would not be tolerated.

For my friend Carina, calling it out was simple: “There are two sides, one has Nazis. You decide.”

And there we are.

Apparently among all the wonderful and terrible things we, as a country, are, we are still, also Nazis. I’m still working really hard to wrap my head around that.

But because I really don’t do bleak, I’m holding on to this–one of my favorite takeaways from the film:

Yes. Sadly, we may be all that. But we are also so much more.

So many of us are, hope to be, and are actively working to become so much more. These are not mere words. It is what we believe. And, to quote my friend Maria, “I have to believe that my choices matter.”

I unequivocally choose the side without the Nazis.

And once again I turn to the words of Dr. King:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

I unequivocally choose to seek the light.

I unequivocally choose to keep loving.

Must love dogs

Screen Shot 2017-02-17 at 9.00.37 AM It’s a good thing she’s so cute.

This summer I had foot surgery that laid me up for-seemingly-ever.

Someone rear-ended my car on the freeway and so my car has been in the shop for-seemingly-ever.

And our dog almost died.

dogIV

Make no mistake. This dog had disrupted my life greatly. (As duly noted previously.) But I still love her. Dogs love you unconditionally, and that is a truly rare and beautiful gift in this life.

But she got an infection. And then she got another infection. And lost 10-or-so pounds in a matter of days. And thus required an emergency visit on a holiday weekend to the after-hours clinic for pets. (Did you know that unlike human medical bills, pet medical bills are not financable (not a word, but should be) and one must pay in full when one picks up one’s pet?

I stopped keeping track of the money and am making an honest effort not to look at next month’s credit card bill, because the truth is, pets are like family. This crazy wild 5-yo puppy that ate most of my chickens and thinks she is part kangaroo has my heart. And seeing her so sick broke my heart. There was no question we wouldn’t do everything we could to save her. And so we ok’d emergency surgery and I laid awake most the night we weren’t sure she would make it through praying for and worrying over her.

ginger

And seeing her so sick she lived in the house for an entire night and most of one day and could barely raise her head off the floor but still kept trying to wag her tail undid me.

I’m happy to report Ginger pulled through. Couldn’t even manage a second night in the house. And when, a week ago Monday, Lindsay took her back to the vet for her follow-up (after wrestling with her extensively just to get the required leash on), the vet said, “Who is this dog?!” They didn’t even know her because she was finally her same wild self again.

Grateful.

Changing relationships

Hahaha – I first read this as challenging relationships and I was avoiding it, as I am wont to do! I read it correctly just now and am much relieved!

I remember the first time I was conscious of a changing relationship. When, in my early 20s, my widowed mother was dating again. I watched her giddy as a school girl. I found her occasionally seeking relationship advice. I found myself thinking how odd and unprecedented it was that our roles had somehow flipped. And I found myself trying to not have an opinion on each relationship even though I did. Then trying to keep said opinion to myself and allow my mom the freedom to make her own way, even when it meant she got hurt. Sometimes we all got hurt.

I guess agency can bite no matter how old you are.

Our relationship changed the most when, just days into becoming a mother myself, I called her and told her “I’m sorry, I had no idea.” And “Thank you!” And “Oh. I get it.” Even though I only just…

Perhaps the mother-daughter relationship simply becomes more fluid as soon as the daughter enters adulthood? They can be mother-daughter. Friends. Frenemies. And, as it was when my mother had cancer, the daughter can mother the mother even through an experience where she perhaps needs nurture/mothering more than ever before in her life.

I watched my mother become a grandmother to my own kids and grandmother at least the oldest clear into adulthood. Sometimes I’m a little sad when I consider how much she would have loved being a great grandma. Although the fact she is not here doesn’t make her any less a great grandmother.

Libraries

The word library fills me with guilt on one level (which is something I generally try to remain from from), because I was never a good library mom. I did take my kids, but I didn’t take them often enough. And I never returned books on time. And I regret that (which is also something I try to avoid).

Sigh.

But my library is the Provo library. And it didn’t always look like it does now (eventually I may or may not add a photo), which is magnificent. It wasn’t always in the restored BY Academy, which I’m pretty sure my grandfather may have attended. Its current location is full of memories beyond the musty smell of overdue library books.

There are memories of wedding receptions, volunteer hours weeding the flower bed in order to earn my much neglected master gardener’s certificate, and promenades. Along with a couple of memorable guest lectures and visits by authors I love. And being corrected by people I attempted to save from grave misuse of the possessive apostrophe and a book signing at which I volunteered.

Sigh.

In any case, hooray for and long live libraries. And thank goodness my daughter-in-law Emily is a wonderful library mom. There is hope for the future after all.

Technology

hand

Yikes. Guilty. I’m one of those people who believe wireless should be piped through the airways. Which reminds me. Last month in book club one of our friends reminded me about the time I saw an add for a new wireless bra on kickstarter and my first thought was that it was a bra that provided wireless Internet and I thought that was brilliant. (As moms, we all found some practical uses for that concept the more we thought about it.)

In any case, I have a huge extended family and I love how I can stay connected with them–even the ones I haven’t seen in years–on social media.

I’m not one of those people who pine away in jealously at everyone’s vacation pics on Instagram and Facebook, but rather, I feel like I’ve been to Europe over half a dozen times in 2017 alone thanks to social media and my friends’ and family’s wise use of the amazing $500 plane fare to Paris and Amsterdam most of spring and summer.

My Google maps bravely and safely and fearlessly guided me through my first times driving in Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami last year, as well as to fire stations all over the state of Utah.

24/7/365 access to Google when I want to know what something is and Merriam Webster when I want to know how to either use or spell a word properly or am looking for the precise word for exactly what I mean to say are necessities of life.

I love knowing the weather, the news, and a variety of other things exactly as they happen. One of my favorite things is being able to follow astronauts real time from the International Space Station.

Technology is a thing that happened practically without me while I was a SAHM but now I can’t imagine what it would be like without it. It helped me have a completely different and much better supported experience recovering from this surgery as my ACL, during which I was so very lonely and isolated.

On the flip side, it has also helped me be aware of the trials and troubles people I love are going through and allowed me numerous venues by which to reach out and connect with others in love and support. Words have power to heal as well as wound, and I hope to never pass by an opportunity to offer an encouraging word even from afar.

Technology has its dark side, but like everything else, if used in wisdom (which is not something I claim to have mastered even remotely) has a bright side. Technology makes my life easier and more interesting.