Sunday, July 3, 2016

Mom's Birthplace

The first day of our trip to Iowa was emotional for me. We visited the place where Mom was born in 1905, Valley Junction Iowa. I knew the town had been swallowed up in Des Moines, but I wondered if I could find an old map that would tell me where it had been. When I checked, I found out it’s a thriving historical district.

The cement sidewalks were made of wood planks in those days, and the streets made of dirt. Mostly horses and buggies drove down those roads. Autos had been invented by then, so I assume there were a few around. Mom always told me she grew up in an amazing world that went from horse and buggy to men on the moon.

This picture is of me with my husband Dan and son Brian.

As I wandered down the street, I wondered which brick building had been the candy store. When Mom and her friend managed to get a dime each, they went to the candy store. Mom bought a handful of chocolates because they were so delicious. Her friend bought a full bag of cheap candy. They went back to the farm and savored the chocolates first. Then they would dig into her friend’s bag which would last the rest of the day.

Grandpa Stacy worked as a farm hand, so there wouldn’t be a record of their residence. The farm would be paved over by now anyway.

In 1910, her family was still in Iowa, but by 1920 they had moved to Missouri where she finished growing up. I don’t know how old she was when they moved.

The town hall was finished the same year she was born.

It was a fascinating experience with a feeling about the past I can’t describe. I never knew Grandpa Stacy; he died 3 years before Mom and Dad were married. Grandma lived with us until I was 9-years-old when she passed on.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Kanarraville Falls

I loved this hike with my daughter and her son. It’s a moderate to difficult hike, but not horrendous. Part of the hike is on a path, and some through the water.

The first time you need to choose, chose the water. If not, you’ll find yourself balancing, or sitting down and scooting across a pipe over a ravine. (Our pictures of it didn’t come out.)

If you plan to visit southern Utah, I highly recommend hiking Kanarraville falls after hiking the Narrows in Zion.

Do NOT attempt either one if there is a chance of rain. Not even a 5% chance.

Kanarraville Falls is more adventurous, what’s more it’s free. Just take the Kanarraville off-ramp from I 15 between St. George and Cedar City. Follow the road east to the town. Look for the small sign that points the way.

We went up the first ladder, including my 6 year-old grandson. The falls were outstanding. I managed to tweak my ankle and jerk my back when I fell, but on the doctor’s scale 1-10 for pain, I was about a .4, so I continued on.

Was it easy? No. Was it worth the effort absolutely yes! Not everything in life is easy, the truly important and exhilarating things are hard, but enjoyable at the same time.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Escape from Fire (Pizza Night)

Today I thought I'd post a tidbit from my novel Escape from Fire:

Mara opened the door and her niece, nine-year-old Celeste, burst through with a big hug, her six-year-old brother Eric tackled her from the other side, and they all landed on the floor with two-year-old Leanne climbing on top of them.
            “Mara! What did you do to your hair?” Lydia’s disapproval came through loud and clear.
            “Donated it to Locks of Love,” She enjoyed the perplexed look on Lydia’s face, a mixture of irritation and amusement. However, she felt a little guilty for not having told her before she came.
            Graham, Lydia’s husband was out of town for business, so he couldn’t make it. Lydia stood with her mouth open, not speaking while the rest untangled themselves and stood up. Lydia gave Mara a hug and said, “That’s so like you to help children. You can grow it out again.”
            Mara shook her head, “Not on your life. I don’t have headaches any more. That alone is reason enough to keep it short.”
            “But it’s so much a part of you.” Lydia reached out and stroked the ends of Mara’s shorter locks.
            Mara stepped back, “Not anymore.”
            Lydia glanced at her children. “Well, you sure look different.”
            Celeste piped up, “I like it. You look prettier. Put on makeup so I can see how pretty you look.”
            Mara gave her another hug, “I think you want me to put some on you, and paint your nails.”
            Celeste looked at her nails, “Cool.”
            “We’ll do that after dinner, but it’s time to make pizza.”
            Lydia’s children loved coming over to Aunt Mara’s for pizza. She made individual sized crusts and baked them until they barely started to brown. She also made sauce from scratch. She kept left over crusts in her freezer, and made pizza for a quick meal more often than she wanted to admit.
She took the toppings out and set them on the table: pineapple, olives, onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, Canadian bacon, sausage, and pepperoni. Mozzarella cheese finished it off. Eric loaded his with pepperoni and added one olive in the middle. Celeste put on everything except the bell pepper. Lydia added pineapple to Leanne’s, and put everything on her own. Mara used pineapple and olives on one side with pineapple and Canadian bacon on the other.
            The scent of pizza filled the room while the children ran around the cabin checking to see what Mara had saved from the fire. The deer were there along with the framed pictures including the large photo of the ocean her grandmother had taken that had hung over the fireplace.
            Eric tugged on Mara’s hand. “I want to go see where the house burned down.”
            “Me too,” Celeste chimed in.
            Lydia gave them a mommy look. “I’m sure Mara’s seen it enough times. Besides, it’s going to be dark soon.”
            “Maybe tomorrow?” Celeste had hope in her eyes.
            Lydia and Mara glanced at each other before Lydia responded. “Maybe we could go help clean the property with Helping Hands, if it isn’t on a school day.”
            Mara grabbed them into a big hug. “I’m glad you’re interested in my property, but I want to think about other things right now, okay?”
            “Like eating pizza?” Eric pointed toward the oven.
            Mara spread a beach towel under Leanne’s chair. The wooden high chair her grandfather had made out of scraps had gone up in smoke, but she was big enough to sit at the table on a phone book. That highchair was one more irreplaceable thing. It cost zero dollars, but was priceless.
            After they finished the pizza, Mara turned to the children, “I bought a couple of games yesterday, who wants to break them in?”
            Eric looked worried. “Why do you want to break new games?”
            Lydia turned to him. “To break in is an expression that means to be the first to use something. You’ve heard about breaking in horses.”
            Eric said, “Oh, that kind. I want to, if it isn’t a spelling game.”
            Mara took the games out of a cupboard. “One rule, this evening’s for fun. No more mention of the fire. I want to think about other things.”
            Celeste looked at Mara. “What about makeup and painting my nails?”
            “Your mother and Eric can break in Bople while we do that.”
            “Only four colors?” Celeste glanced at Mara. “Oh, I forgot.” Celeste’s eyes filled and she swallowed hard. “I like your whole bunch of eye shadows.”
“I forget sometimes too.” Mara picked out hot pink for her toenails, and Celeste chose the red. When the nails and makeup were finished, they joined the others in the living room.
            Lydia turned to her children, “Why don’t you two have some cookies and watch Leanne while I look at Mara’s room.”
            Mara knew why Lydia wanted to see her room without the children. She wanted to ignore the request, but knew Lydia meant well. She’d always looked up to her big sister, but her motherly attitude was getting worse since their grandparents’ death and becoming more and more aggravating. Sometimes she wanted Lydia’s suggestions, but not all the time, especially when she didn’t ask.
            It’d been like that all of her life. She remembered their mom telling Lydia not to be so bossy when they were little. She’d been twelve and Lydia almost sixteen when their mother died of the flu. Their father had died six months before that of double pneumonia.
Their grandparents had finished raising them. Mara didn’t need mothering any more. She needed an equal sister to lean on, part of the time, but she wanted the support to be mutual, and Lydia never asked her for anything, not even a cup of sugar. They reached the bedroom door. Mara gripped the handle for a few moments before opening it.
            Lydia looked around, “Your room’s cute.”
            Mara closed the door and put her hands on her hips, “You didn’t bring me in here to look at my room. What is it? My hair cut or do you also want to know whether I’m going to sell or not like the rest of the world?”
            Lydia brushed her fingers through her sister’s shorter hair, “You don’t look like yourself.”
            Mara retorted, “I’m not the same. Running from a fire’ll do that to you. I thought a lot about my life while driving down that smoke-filled road even with a stranger in the car.”

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Kanarraville Falls

I loved this hike with my husband, daughter, and her son. It’s a moderate to difficult hike, but not horrendous. Part of the hike is on a path, and some through the water. The first time you need to choose, chose the water. If not, you’ll find yourself balancing, or sitting down and scooting across a pipe over a ravine. (Our pictures of it didn’t come out.) Do not attempt if there is a chance of rain. I wouldn’t even if it was a 5% chance.

This is the first of 2 ladders. My 6-year-old grandson climbed it with Mom right behind.
The second one was, as my grandson said when he saw it before us, "torked." We by passed that one.

If you live in southern Utah, or plan to visit there, I highly recommend hiking Kanarraville falls. Wear good shoes. Special shoes made of hiking in water are recommended, but I did fine with my new running shoes that have very good traction.  It’s more adventurous than the Narrows in Zion, what’s more it’s free. Just take the Kanarraville off-ramp from I 15 between St. George and Cedar City. Follow the road east to the town. Look for the small sign that points the way.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Don't Leave the Porch Light on

We’re Empty Nesters at last. I have mixed feelings about marrying off the youngest. Not that I feel that way about the marriage, I’m delighted with my new son-in-law, and all is as it should be. I’m just feeling odd about the emptiness right now.

All totaled, my husband and I have lived alone with just the 2 of us probably less than 2 years our entire married life if you don’t count our mission. I know this post is a jumble. That’s okay, that’s how I feel right now.

Daily life isn’t that different, our daughter was rarely home. Sometimes we saw her in the morning before she went to work, and at night we often had family prayer with her after she came in. She was here a little more often than that, but not much.

Her room is nearly empty. All that’s left is the furniture, and they can’t move that until their apartment is finished. I’m itching to create my sewing/craft room. Still, I feel empty when I look in and don’t see her dozens of shoes, etc. It has filled up a little with wedding presents for now.

Her bathroom is also empty. Thankfully, she left the bathroom rugs. I don’t think hot pink is her new husband’s idea of decor. I didn’t plan to, but I moved my makeup into it because she has much better light.

What are we going to do with left-over treats when she isn’t here to take them to work?

I won’t see her friends any more.

I’ll miss her smile, and talking to her even if only for a few minutes here and there.

I’ll miss the evenings she and her friends came over to watch TV and play games.

The house is too quiet.

Going back to another reason the house seems so empty. I’m thankful our daughter that moved in with us when we moved in was here when we arrived home from our 9 month trip with her 2 children (one was born while they were living here). Those first few days I really missed the patter of little feet and childish voices even if we could at last set up our office in what had been the grandchildren’s room.

When they moved out, I missed having a “dish fairy.” Her husband always did our dishes. If he was home, he removed them from the table as we finished eating and washed them. The pans were already done. Sometimes when we got home for a later than usual dinner, he had something ready for us. He is a great cook, and has cooked as a chef for restaurants. He often worked the night shift, so we also left the porch light on for him.

It was great to have adults to talk to in the house as well as the charming grandchildren. There’s much more, but I don’t want to write a novel. This post is too long as it is.

Yes. We are in a better state, and the children are as well. Life marches on. I try to live like my mother said, “Enjoy each stage of your life while in it. Don’t waste your youth wishing you were older, or your older years wishing you were younger.”

I miss leaving the porch light on, but hey, we are saving on electricity. Now to tell you why we spent so little time as just the two of us in our marriage:

Our eldest son was in a hurry to get here, and was born a couple of months short of 1 year after we were married. We were alone for a short time after our youngest started college and before we went on our mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 1 ½ years in Thailand. During the last 5-6 months of that time, our son lived with us so he and his family could watch our house while we were gone.

We were alone while remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms so we could sell our 2 story house. We were also in an apartment for 5 months while looking for a house. When we moved in here, we had the pleasure of welcoming our daughter, son-in-law, and their 1-year-old daughter with us temporarily. That’s why we almost always had to leave the porch light on. He worked the evening shift, and wouldn’t get in until the wee hours of the morning.

We asked them to stay a little longer than they had planned so they could be here while we went on a 9 month road trip. When we got back, our youngest daughter had come back home. That brings us back to last Friday, and her marriage that now leaves us with our empty nest, and hardly any need to turn on the porch light. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

48 Years of Marriage

My husband and I had our 48th anniversary last month. A few ideas on how to make a marriage last:

Becoming one in the Biblical sense of the word doesn’t mean you feel the same way about everything. For example: You may have very different taste in movies. Dan goes for the adventure type of movies—when a movie is “R” rated, he’s disappointed. We don’t see “R” movies for any reason. At the same time, I relish the idea because I don’t like that type of movie with a few exceptions—Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and maybe a couple more. I know when to close my eyes like when Indiana Jones and What’s Her Name tie themselves to a pole. I don’t open them until the music changes, or when Luke falls into the pit with the monster.

It’s rare indeed when we both order the same thing at a restaurant.

We do agree on politics with very few exceptions, and even then it’s in the details, not the overall scope.

Having the same spiritual goals is imperative. Do you read scriptures and pray as a family? Maybe not quite imperative, but it can be extremely difficult if you aren’t on the same wavelength.

When you come together in marriage, bring some of your family traditions, and allow your husband/wife to do the same. There is no right or wrong. Christmas can be especially difficult. If you both feel strongly about how your family did things, it can lead to arguments. Either one will dominate and the other will feel put upon, or you will end up with the same fight every year. It's also VERY important to develop new traditions that don't belong to either family. These are your very own.

Both people need to give some in all aspects. Wives, if your husband is a huge sports fan, ask enough questions that you can follow the game with at least moderate interest. Husbands, your wife will be much more willing to attend sporting events if you will take her to the type of entertainment she likes.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. The most important thing is to work together, and spend time together. Also have time when you do individual things. The children will one day leave and you don’t want to be living with a stranger.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Mondays come fast. I had something planned for today, but didn’t make the time to prepare it last week, so I’m on to plan B, my opinion on making New Year’s resolutions:

Making goals is a good thing. The start of a new year is a good time to do so, and to reflect on the ones you made the previous year; however, you can make goals or re-fresh old ones any time.

When you slip, don’t tell yourself you are a failure. Start again, that day. For example, if your goal is to exercise daily, and miss a day, don’t give up. Go for it the next day. (Okay, I’m going to do my Yoga as soon as I post this.)

Without goals, we can drift with a vague “I’ll do better” attitude. That doesn’t help much. At least for myself, I need to be more specific than that, something measurable. Kick discouragement out the door.

One example: I made the resolution to get regular on this blog January 1st, but didn’t get to it until last week. I could mope and make even more excuses, but I won’t. Here it is. See you next week.