Friday, February 29
(Photo = Graduation from North High School w/I.B. Diploma)
The dilapidated house she lived in with 5 or 6 roommates when she graduated from BYU was impossible to describe; seeing it in person shouted volumes. It is the exposed electrical wires sparking by the leaking, rotted shower (just for starters) that will condemn the LDS slumlord that shamelessly profited by it when he stands before God at the judgment bar.
She has described multi-colored walls and the wishful plumbing of the tiny village at the base of an active volcano in Mexico, and tick-infested, dirt floor homes she visited as a missionary in Brazil. We saw some great pictures of her dodging scorpions and champion-sized cockroaches from thatched roof African huts she helped rebuild in Mozambique. We heard about G.A.'s she bumped shoulders with and the oppressive regulations suffered in the Church's Barlow Building in Washington D.C. where she lived during her internship. We imagined her apt. in Arlington (though 2 of her siblings got to see for themselves) when she was a producer at the t.v. station and the tiny hardwood floor apt. she rented solo in the beautiful Shenandoah River Valley area of Virginia where she was a t.v. reporter/anchor/writer.
Finally ~ we have been together with her in her newly married world in Seattle! Our night-time approach revealed the city and its trademark Spaceneedle gleaming like a be-jeweled magical post card. While Christian was at work, his wife played tour guide. Our hotel was within walking distance of the 'needle', which was very convenient and a lot of fun. These are the walking shoes of choice. But before we went anywhere, we had this to look at:...a 2 man jacuzzi in full view of the t.v., the kitchenette and the 2 full-sized beds for the girls! This was not very convenient and probably wouldn't be a lot of fun unless you are a partying rock star. Asia borrowed one of Robin's bathing suits and relished a good soak. Too bad this was not documented.
Defying a totally gloomy forecast, we enjoyed sunshine and completely unobstructed views of the breathtakingly beautiful Sound and the majestic, snow-capped Olympic Range. This was very good news for a Spaceneedle observation deck experience.You KNOW you're not in Phoenix when this is everywhere, ever-present:
Did you know moss flowers? I didn't. Here it is doing its thing. Dismiss the small-scale and pretend it is a mass of trees atop a great, granite cliff face. Do you see it?
Here are the girls, doing their thing:
The Public Market is a must-see. Abutting the wharf, it is a multi-leveled open air collection of crafts and wares, absolutely amazing fresh cut flowers, good food, interesting street musicians and of course ~ the famous fish market. Bidee ("Bee-dee" aka Robin) insisted we had to stand and wait for the fishermen to "throw a fish". We asked, "Why?" She said, "Because they're going to throw a fish!" After positioning ourselves, it wasn't long before a strange turn of events found Rachel up behind the fish counter (Robin said she's never seen anyone get asked to go up there before) getting pointers on how to catch an enormous, slimy, gutted fish almost half her size from a very burly, very hairy rubber-aproned fisherman. Why? Because they were going to throw it at her! The promised crowd magically materialized, and before we knew itthe fish was airborne, the fishermen were loudly chanting in unison, and Ray caught it to cheers and applause all around. UN-believable.
This is our beautiful, accomplished, A-personality daughter with her impressionable little sister. We are always telling her that life isn't so serious - lighten up. Admittedly, this could be the result of the stunning 200 yd. monorail ride - I don't know...
We rode a ferry to Bainbridge Island. The ferry was huge! Tons of cars rolled into it's gaping belly while scores of people rushed aboard like there was a prize for first place. Inside were hot drinks, sandwiches, snacks, fresh pop-corn, newspapers and arcade games. It was incredible all the stuff supplied to keep people comfortable on their 30 minute ferry ride. We chose to tackle hurricane force winds on deck to gawk at the wonderful views.Saturday Christian could join us for our tour of the infamous Seattle Underground. It's like this; settlers picked the wrong spot to build and ignored pesky flooding that followed high-tide twice a day - until toilets were introduced. This being a brilliant idea, everyone had to have one - but once again, the laws of physics produced a spectacular back-flush from the humble "crapper" spouting 4-5' high IF you happened to be stupid enough to attempt a flush at high-tide. A fire conveniently leveled down-town and Seattlelites decided to create their own physics by building on top of the old foundations. They went straight up about 13' to 18'. Some of what was the original ground level is preserved for us tourists to explore. Our guide was really funny.I thought it was the inspiration of the "crapper" that gave him his good humor, but maybe it was because we all looked like this:Christian is unaware of the underworld living-dead attempting to savagely bite him.Asia was distraught when we saw graffiti was welcome at this point in the tour and no one had a sharpie. She was so ready to add to this lame post:
It's just as well. She signed the guest book thus: "This tour made me have to pee." Emerging up into fresh air again was a relief. Our historical adventure easily prompted really deep thoughts from everyone - well, almost everyone.Downtown is a rich display of colorful old brick, stone and ironwork.The narrow alleys teased with contrasts of light and shadow. It seemed like all we needed was a suspenseful movie soundtrack behind some of these scenes:This is Gasworks Park across Union Lake. The abandoned refinery is not considered an eye-sore, but is celebrated for "going green".This is the top of the last hill facing the water.
This point is the supernatural convergence of freezing Arctic winds that killed Woolly Mamoths in a matter of seconds while the locals frolic apparently immune to its effects. What a perfect spot to fly a kite! Or two, or three!Bi ("Bee" aka Robin) and her reflection during our final lunch together.
Good-bye, Seattle. Good-bye, Christian's car. Good-bye, Redskins' license plate holder.
Good-bye, dashing young Attorney husband who loves Robin,
Good-bye, our Beautiful Baby Bi.
Monday, February 25
1) My maiden name is Rose. It was misspelled and mispronounced my whole life, even after I explained, "like the flower". The name is an adulteration of the original Portuguese my great-grandfather changed to avoid 'la migra' since he and his brother stowed-away on a sailing ship America-bound. I always considered this ethnic aspect of my bloodlines extremely exotic, but have little to show for it besides a mustache and a love of Pickled Porkchops and Linguicia; all very Portuguese and very repulsive to most of my children.
2) My Portuguese people are from Pico, an island in the Azores. They have very interesting names like Isabela, Manuel, Ferdinand and Bernarda. It didn't take much research to learn they led very uninteresting lives stranded on a tiny volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic milking goats, eating fish, growing grapes and from the record - marrying their cousins for 500 years.
3) My 6th great-grandfather was enormously interesting; he was a bodyguard to General George Washington. His name was Conrad Kremmer. He was compelled to fight in the Revolutionary War as a Hessian soldier. Because of his size, he was selected and trained as the equivalent in those days like a Black Ops; he was a Grenadier. Yes, that's French for "Grenade". As such, he was distinguished in battle by his ridiculous mitered cap essential to cap-off official Grenadier garb. Supposedly it made really tall guys look superhuman to the enemy. It actually worked much of the time, as combatants often fled at the sight of them...that is, until they encountered Americans. He was captured at Trenton (the famous Washington crossing the Delaware event). Apparently relieved by this turn of events, he immediately defected to the Continental Army and in less than a year moved up in rank to become part of the personal guard who attended Washington. His Revolutionary Pension notes he was with Washington at Brandywine and many other key battles, in addition to the infamous winter at Valley Forge.
4) My earliest human memory is of walking on the cold, reddish-brown cement floor before new carpet was laid during the remodeling of our home in 1960. I was 3 years old.
5) I was a thumb-sucker. My mom painted my thumb with a bitter tasting stuff, she took me to the Doctor, I was threatened and bribed to stop - but nothing worked until one morning when my dad asked me to look at my thumb. Plucking it out of my mouth to oblige, he then asked me if it was pink - it was - he said that was proof it was about to fall off any minute. I was 5.
6) My mom believed in holistic medicine. As a result, we visited a Chiropractor for virtually every conceivable thing regularly. We had to swallow endless handfuls of nasty smelling and tasting natural supplements and chalky, s.u.v. proportioned vitamin c tablets every day. The only nice thing about these truly awful visits was the fact that we loved kindly Dr. Barlow and his wife, Effie. They lived around the corner from us, were friends of the family, attended our same Ward, and best of all - he always called me his little "Cinderella". The really bad thing about this relationship is that years later my dad left our family and married Dr. Barlow's daughter.
7) I was the second fastest girl in the 6th grade (Robin Barnes always won first place), and the two of us left every boy in the dust. I was also the very last girl picked for Friday square dancing in the 6th grade. Even 6 foot tall redheaded Linda Peoples (who was retarded) was asked to dance before I was.
8) Might have something to do with #7; I could fit a nickle between my two front teeth. When I finally got braces, I had to wear a headgear 24/7. Do you remember kids who were socially banished like this? Yeah. I thought so. This is not interesting.
9) I was knocked unconscious during dodge-ball in the 5th grade. Witnesses told me the ball happened to be under my feet as I was running away from it; I think I blacked-out in the air because I could hear my impact with the ground as if it were at a great distance, while everything was black and enveloped in a floating sensation.
10) We were just leaving Griffith Park on a school field trip when the great fire began there in 1966. Just a few minutes ago I discovered it was called "The Loop Fire". We were boarding our buses right as the hook & ladder trucks and multiple police cars were screaming in to evacuate the Observatory and the Zoo. It was probably the fastest any kids were ever loaded onto big yellow school buses.
11) When I was only 9 or 10, my 11 year old cousin Wendy died suddenly only a couple weeks after her leukemia diagnosis. I was terribly hurt that my dad refused to go to the hospital and bring her back to life. I was convinced that if we had enough faith, he could do it.
12) I was horse-crazy in the extreme. My equine Hero is Big Red himself, the great Man O'War. I even had my own horse in my own backyard for 2 years until she had to go back to one of my dad's tax clients; which was needless to say - a really big and really interesting surprise.
13) I was only 5 when we visited Disneyland. I screamed my guts out during the Mars ride. I thought we really were in outer space and would never get back to Earth. I felt incredibly betrayed that I had been taken into the spaceship without consent. That is the only thing I can remember about Disneyland.
14) My CPA dad used to bring tax returns home with him from the office during tax season. I was only about 4 years old when I got up real early one day and drew what could be compared to "My Little Ponies" all over the borders of scores of tax returns he had finished late the night before. I remember his adult largeness looming over me in a voice of terrible thunder that normally would have been sufficient to disintegrate me into the meaningless dust that I was, however, this time I was more angry than afraid; I knew I had made his work more attractive to his clients. I felt positive they would pay him more money once they saw all the pretty little horses with long eye-lashes, lipstick and flowing, curly manes and tails all over their tax returns.
15) I wanted to grow up to be a famous children's author & illustrate my own books. My first masterpiece was a multi-spiral bound notebook collection with a really interesting title: "Black Star, the Horse That Never Really Was". You will agree this was a brilliant p.r. move on my part. Unfortunately, the book never really is.
16) I am a terrible cook. I am the only Mormon woman I know who panics when assigned to take someone a meal. There should be a system in place to allow anonymous meal-giving.
17) I am a fantastic pie maker. My Grandma Rose taught me how. I brush the top crust with a beaten egg, not just the whites.
18) When my dad had his office in Canoga Park, there was a residential house right next door where a family of four all died in their sleep one night from carbon monoxide poisoning. I was prone to brooding about stuff like this and then imagining similar disasters happening to me. This might be why I don't mind a window always being open a crack.
19) As a very small child in Primary, I remember really taking to heart the interesting lesson on The Plan of Salvation. Once I realized Lucifer was our brother fallen from grace, it pained my heart. Being a faithful little girl, I prayed sincerely each night (for several nights) to the Devil asking him to repent and tell Heavenly Father he was really sorry. Finally, fearing the overwhelming sensation of something dark and foreboding surrounding my pink bedroom when ever I did this - I told my mom what I had been doing. She assured me quickly that Satan had made his choice and we didn't need to worry about him anymore.
20) I have a phobia of math and numbers in general - even phone numbers, so it makes no sense to me that I must count in my head for the length of time to do certain tasks - like, watering a plant. If it's the 3 matching verbena bushes in the front, I am compelled to give each of them an equal count of time they receive water. Not one more, not one less. (The count is 50, btw). This fills up the planting well just right. I don't want to do it, I am annoyed counting, but it always happens no matter what. I don't need any well-intentioned comments on this, thank you.
21) I have a weird tendency to personify inanimate objects. I have always done this. When I was little (most of us didn't have central air) I worried so much that a fan would get "tired" that I tried to stay awake long enough to appreciate feeling cool and then turn it off before I fell asleep. As an adult, I can't help thinking the car engine might get tired on long trips, or the lawn mower, or the plane, or...
22) I thank inanimate objects for their sacrifice. I felt particularly close to one apartment we lived in on 12th Place and Marlette. While David returned the rented moving truck and I finished cleaning, I made a point to stand for a moment in the entrance hall and tell the empty apartment "thank you" out loud.
23) The highlight of my life so far in meeting someone famous was when David surprised me with a limo and a ride to the Thursday night Scottsdale Art Walk during the height of art season a few years ago. We could see an elderly man drawing at an easel for people inside one gallery. I thought it was pathetic to make him a petty display for the over-dressed, over-cleavaged bubbly & cheese crowd like that. Then Dave pointed out a sign I hadn't seen before - it read "Tonight Only: RWA Artist Arnold Friberg". I almost fainted. It was my hero. The one and only master of the Book of Mormon paintings - literally decades before anyone else attempted quality renderings and unequaled to this day. We stayed for over an hour. I got to talk to him, to listen to him, to watch him work. I got his autograph. It was amazing. Wow.
24) I won the contract with the AZ Game & Fish Dept. to execute their State Indigenous Animals poster series, and the Endangered Species Poster. My watercolor renditions of the State bird, reptile, amphibian, etc. have been in thousands of Arizona schools, libraries and Universities. Most of my kids have been able to tell their biology teachers in whatever school district they have been in that the poster on the wall was painted by their mother. No one believes them until they point to my signature.
25) I was in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. They told us at the time it was 6.1, but now it is assigned a 6.6 for the historical record. It was 6 AM. I could hear it for what seemed like a long time before it hit. It was as loud as a freight train. The creepiest aspect by far in my rural style neighborhood in the middle of suburban Northridge, was all the horses up and down our street running in circles and screaming afterwards. I have never heard a horse before or after make that kind of sound. A child of the Southern California quake zone, I had been in many and slept through more, until this one. The tremendous aftershocks were absolutely terrifying for many, many weeks. Interestingly enough we moved to Arizona 6 months later.
26) I went to 3 different Scottsdale High Schools only because I was bored. It should be kind of interesting that I graduated in 3 1/2 years (officially out of school before Christmas vacation) and applied to BYU Winter Term with no clue that it was more of a process than just sending a letter and sewing some outfits before classes started in January. I was accepted for Summer.
27) As a young mother, I made it a policy to take long umbrella stroller walks as often as possible. The children and I had many adventures and imaginative exchanges without a hint of ipods, headphones, cell phones, light-up shoes or any other gadget considered essential today. 25 cents got us a single scoop ice cream cone at Thrifty.
28) I think my kids are really funny and endlessly clever. They must get their lightening-quick whit from their dad.
29) I appreciate weird, insignificant or even utterly ordinary things mostly over-looked by society at large. This tends to make me easily amused, for which I have no apology.
30) I was paddled by our school Principal Mr. Sands in the 2nd grade for being tardy. They were unimpressed by the fact that my mom always drove my brother to his private school first, before dropping me off at school. I still got the spanking. Once I was in the 3rd grade and allowed to ride a bike to school, I was free of the threat of corporal punishment and got myself to school on time.
31) There were 5 Cindys in my 5th grade class. I changed the spelling to 'Cindi' in 7th grade, rejecting a friend's suggestion for 'Sindee' as completely idiotic. Guess what? I've seen this. A lot.
32) I was a docent at the 1894 Peterson House on Southern & Priest in Tempe. I also worked with the Tempe Historical Society as an artist, writer and event planner. They had an acquisitions committee, but said they couldn't "talk money" with anyone. So I said I would. I figured people would only say yes or no. They mostly said yes, including the United Dairymen of AZ who gave me a check for $500 and 1200 cartons of milk for our big event.
33) As part of the above community p.r. effort, I was featured (in Victorian dress) on 3 different Wallace & Ladmo t.v. shows to tell the kids all about our Statehood event at the Peterson House.
34) Robin's tag-list indicated that she considers Oprah the Anti-Christ; but I said it first.
35) Finally, I admit I still feel like I will really do something when I "grow up". At this point in life, I figure this is not interesting at all, but a problem I should be working on.
Saturday, February 16
We all remember Columbine; but that was only shooting #21 on the list. The
It is the fact that these horrific scenes are perpetrated in places we send our children to be safe that evokes the horror and fear changing our culture. After each headlining incident, school boards scramble to instigate new security and discipline policies. Parents swarm to hitherto sparsely attended PTO meetings and issue demands. Psychological counseling efforts are reexamined and invasive searches of students and their belongings and metal detectors (especially after Columbine) at some schools reflect the panic swirling in the aftermath of such senseless crimes.
Some experts describe these resultant fears in society as something called moral panic. Society reacts to “a perceived threat to a moral value or norm held by a society normally stimulated by glorification within the mass media or 'folk legend' within societies.” - (
U.S. Secret Service profilers have dedicated earnest study to what the rest of us can only guess at – what makes a school shooter? They caution against too-broad profiling that could paint any student a potential perpetrator, or profiles that are too narrow. Not every “loner” in a big coat is an imminent threat. Not every killer was socially rejected, abused as a child or in and out of an incompetent mental health system.
Neither is accessibility to a gun a sure-fire path to violence. I grew up with a well-oiled mini arsenal locked in an attractive gun cabinet in the den where we gathered as a family to pop corn in the fireplace and watch t.v. So did countless other kids for generations. And statistically speaking, the young die in car accidents with shocking regularity, usually taking a number of their friends and other motorists with them. These tragedies disturb us and cause localized mourning, but they do not horrify us as a people.
Interestingly, researchers have discovered that school killers do not “snap”; they plan. While their backgrounds are diverse, they do exhibit similar traits in their often long-term and oft-expressed but unrecognized path to mayhem. Most unexplored publicly anyway, is the gender bias of school shooters. They are almost exclusively young males.
This week was the first time I thought about one of my own children being targeted at school by some deviant fulfilling his twisted dream of social validation. I could feel a kind of panic in my chest as I pictured my 22 year old son Leiland sitting in one of his one door in and out windows painted shut classrooms at Phoenix College 12 minutes away from our home. A returned missionary approaching his one year wedding anniversary, anxious to start a family, ambitiously on track towards enrolling in ASU this fall and then pursuing his passion for
We naturally ask “why” something so unspeakable keeps happening. Yet there are many things in life that impact us without warning, without invitation, and without good reason. Sitting at a city bus stop should not evoke trepidation. But for me (and other members of my family), I never pass one casually...not anymore. I always notice who is at one as we approach. I note if there are children waiting there, how many, and what is immediately around the bus stop. I am looking for escape routes. It has become a split-second assessment I do and cannot stop myself from doing ever since April 6, 2004. Thankfully, I have NEVER wondered what might have been had I picked
I am like millions of other mothers who send her children to school five days out of the week with confidence that they are in the right place. I have been sending my children to school every Monday morning since 1983. Besides teaching them what they must know to be safe and independent, as parents we have tried to keep our children morally safe as well. But life is full of variables. We have also crossed the street or gone to the store or flown across time zones in a plane or have simply been at home with our family safely day in and day out year after year. I have personally waited at many bus stops without incident. Yet many others have not been safe doing the very same things. We never know when our life path may be interrupted by someone else’s actions, or by some natural disaster beyond our control.
This week I am thinking about the unanswerable puzzle of random crisis that violate our safe places. I am thinking about it, but I have decided I am not afraid of it. Americans are not accustomed to fear. I hope we never are. There is no “reason” why Asia was hit at a bus stop and our whole family has been changed because of it, just as none of us can tell – not for all the studies and expert analysis in the world – why some precious few of our beautiful young people with their whole future in front of them have succumbed to he who declares defiantly that he will “reign with blood and horror on this earth”. Horror is also revulsion, shock, awfulness and terror. The antonym eerily enough is ‘delight’.
If we are afraid, we are virtually giving power to Evil. We can choose to be unafraid and nullify just a little bit that great Satan, who, as only Ozzie can put it, “...laughing, spreads his wings...” over our dilemma. Our rejection of fear is not to be unaware, surely not careless, but diligently and ever so gratefully, unafraid in wherever we find our safe places as much as we can make it so.
Monday, February 11
See this picture? This is not me, and that was never any of my three daughters. Even the coming-of-age shopping for the first bra was a memorable moment for my girls that never had me in it. Their Daddy took them shopping. It is not just an issue of lacking patience or imagination or whatever else might be the reason an American female would reject the National pastime. It might be a phobia.
An anthropological approach to shopping could possibly develop into a very worthy discussion about marketing, surplus resources, portable medium of exchange and distribution. There has already been much to-do about our high-pressure cultural expectations of what a woman should look like, and as a result what goods and services are necessary to sustain that image-lust. Unfortunately, not all of the social pressure is just talk.
Feminists blame it on Barbie, but a 100 years before her voluptuous plastic debut women were squeezing into whalebone corsets accented by cartoonish hoop skirts pursuing the Scarlet O'Hara 18" waist. To heck with Slavery and States rights, the Civil War was obviously fought to protect Southern women's shopping rights. It was a girl-thing.
Hollywood types (current child-custody-psyche-ward headliners excepted) promote the ideal shopping image without breaking a sweat. Terry Hatcher is almost my age; she looks amazing. See the relaxed, happy body language of mother and daughter fresh on the trail of another successful shopping adventure together.
When I go shopping, I do break a sweat - and an elevated heart rate, hyperventilation and some public tears to cap off a really crappy experience that I vow to avoid again for a really long time. But I have to go shopping now - we're going to visit Robin in Seattle; and I don't fit into my other pants.
There seems to be a lot of self-image issues that contaminate
the shopping ritual beyond what is emotionally tolerable.
My shopping companion last Saturday was 13 year old Rachel. When I was ready to give up in utter humiliation after trying on the 7th pair of jeans, she said in her best soothing voice, "Hey Mom, just think: you're not half as fat as a lot of other ladies!" My primal wail sent her running out of the dressing room with instructions to "hold on" ~ she would go find me things to try on. She returned in a flash with an armload of really decent selections, no kidding. I was impressed and touched by her eagerness to take control of my melt-down.
She un-clipped a swell pair of Dockers from the hanger for me, chattering away about how she was sure they would be flattering. She offered her opinion the navy ones were preferred to the khaki. When we were eyeing results in the mirror, she kept a fashion show running-commentary on the positive aspects of the style, the cut, or the decorative top-stitching of each item. When I tried on her choice of jeans and turned around for the inevitable question of how the back-side looked, she was quick to interject that the pockets must be appealing - they were the thing that made my "butt hot". Before I could absorb this, she spanked my rear and said, "See? Totally hot, mom!"
I made the purchase.