Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh, Deer...Snow!

It's snowing in Oregon City! I realize that this is small news to the rest of the world, and that most of the Midwest and East are buried under many inches, or even feet, of snow...but Oregon City snow makes it's own kind of messy havoc with our lives. Here are a few pictures.

The yard deer with her snow blanket.

No canoeing today!

Winter scene - big maple tree.

A perfect little Christmas tree.

Molalla Avenue - on our way to rescue Holly and David and Arora, but they got their chains on before we arrived...they had been stuck by the old high school, but now they are on their way back home.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Journal

Near the end of 2006 I heard about a unique kind of journal from my friend, Paulene Kerr. It's a 10-year journal, where each page has space to write a few lines each day, year after year, on the same date. Not sure that made sense...for example, for today's date, my journal gave me 5 lines to write about Thursday, Dec 27, 2007; Saturday, Dec 27, 2008; tonight I'll write about Sunday, Dec 27, 2009; next year I'll write about Monday, Dec 27, 2010; etc.

I like it for several reasons. One, the space is so small that I can always write at least a line or two before I go to bed. (If I want to write more, there are "overflow" pages in the back.)

The most amazing thing about this journal is being able to look back and see what I was doing on this date a year ago, or two years ago. By the time I finish the journal in 2017, I will have (probably) retired, and I'll be able to look back on eleven years of memories, date by date.

Two years ago today we got up early to go to the temple with Bryan and Katie and Bryan's parents, so we could all enjoy that special quiet place before the wedding the next day. Last year we went with Greg and Cheryl to the Air Museum in McMinnville. Good memories.

It's interesting to watch the day-by-day progress toward goals...or the day-by-day unravelling of something headed into a mess. Even after just three years, it's easy to look back and nod knowingly to myself, as I see lessons learned and insights gained.

Sometimes I'll turn the page and catch my breath - something unexpected happened on that date a year or two before. Sometimes those were moments of joy; more often in life, those seem to be moments of heartbreak. We don't generally get up in the morning and wonder to ourselves what catastrophe will hit that day. They're more likely to come zinging out of the blue.

When I ordered my journal three years ago, I ordered it from the company's website. Now it looks like they are selling it through Amazon.com.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve at Dragonfly Cottage

Mark and Maleena and I are in Colville, Washington, visiting my parents (Ken and Nancy Jenkins) for Christmas. We arrived yesterday afternoon; we are staying at a little cottage nearby called "Dragonfly Cottage." It is a wonderful place to stay. Here's Mark on the porch after bringing in some more firewood.

The cottage is close to Rocky Lake, which is mostly frozen over. We saw a family ice skating on it this morning. Too bad we couldn't join them! But we didn't bring any skates...and even if we did, we don't know how to use them. Watching the skaters made me wish I could learn.

The interior of the cabin is made with fine details. Look at the specially-made space-saving stairs that lead up to Maleena's loft:

The last time I remember being this peaceful at Christmas was in 1973, the year before I married my first husband. My dad was a harbor manager at a small harbor on California's central coast. My parents and I went to a lighthouse near the harbor so the lighthouse keeper could spend Christmas away from the job. We stayed there at the lighthouse overnight, with just a handful of gifts to open in the morning. There wasn't much to do except enjoy one another and the beautiful place. Kind of like this year (except now in 2009 I'm "wired" to the internet to stay in touch with loved ones and friends).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Four Photos

I returned on Monday night from a four-day trip to Rexburg, Idaho, and then to Provo, Utah, to be with David for his graduation from BYU-Idaho. He and his wife, Holly, moved directly from Rexburg to his new job in Portland, Oregon, and since their daughter, Arora, doesn't travel well, she came back to Portland with me on the plane after a two-night stay in Provo, where I got to visit with Kendra and Katie and their families. (Kendra and her husband Chris, and their two children, Abbi and Charley, met me at the Salt Lake Airport and then we traveled together to Rexburg. It was wonderful to have them there for David & Holly's graduation, and they were a huge help with David & Holly's move.)

Here are photos from the trip--one for each day.

Holly, Arora, David, me. Arora sat with me and Kendra, Chris, and their two children, Abbi and Charlie, during the Convocation ceremony. Holly and David were among the last group to cross the stage, and Arora was getting pretty restless by then, so just before they walked across the stage, I slipped down to the main floor and handed Arora off to them. She crossed the stage with her parents, which was fitting, I think. David told me that one of his main motivations to stay focused and finish college on time and with good grades was having a wife and daughter. (Holly's cap & gown are blue because she completed an Associates Degree.)

David shaving - using the window as a mirror. This was taken Saturday morning. We arrived on Thursday night, and then we spent most of the day Friday loading the moving truck before going out to dinner and then to the Convocation. Saturday morning we were working hard to get the apartment all cleaned and ready for the final check-out. By the time David remembered to shave, both bathrooms had been thoroughly cleaned, and he didn't want to get in trouble for getting stubble in the sink. Voila - the window became a mirror. Yes, that's snow on the ground behind him.

After Kendra's family and Arora and  I returned to Provo, we had time for some playtime with Katie and her family, too. The weather was beautiful - blue skies, snow on the ground but not the roads. We took the kids for a brisk, invigorating walk. Kendra and Katie amaze me with their creativity in managing life with small children in small spaces--the Wymount apartments require space efficiency! These women are pros.

Have movie will travel--here's Arora in the Salt Lake Airport, watching "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" on my laptop for the 300th time. She was great on this trip. She's not quite two, so she traveled free with me--my first time traveling with a lap child. I was a little anxious about how this was going to work! She's only met me 5 or 6 times since she was born, and she is very much a Mommy-Daddy girl. Before the trip I sent her a book titled, "Arora and Grandma Kathy Ride on the Airplane," which showed her parents packing everything into boxes and driving a moving truck from Idaho to Oregon while she and Grandma Kathy chilled on the airplane. It must have helped, because she was a delight. (Of course, it also helped that we spent two days in Provo with Abbi, 3, and Charlie, 2--what fun to have cousin time--where Kendra is an experienced mama of preschoolers who has flown many times with children; she gave me some very helpful tips.) I'm not a fan of children watching lots of TV/movies (Arora doesn't), but what a godsend on this trip to keep her entertained with some delightful children's stories in video format.

Now it's 7:00 am Wednesday morning, and we're loading up the car--we're heading to Colville (1.5 hours north of Spokane) to spend Christmas with my parents. They live in a very small home, so Mark and Maleena and I are staying in a nearby cabin. We were hoping for snow, but it's all melted in the last week--great driving, but not so picturesque--oh, well. I haven't spent Christmas at my parents' home in over 30 years, so I'd say it's about time. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Writing Submissions

Here's an email I received from "Brevity," an online nonfiction journal. I submitted two short essays to them last month. Oh, well...

Ms. Haynie

Thank you for submitting your work to Brevity.  Although we do not have a place for your work in the issues for which we are currently reading, we wanted you to know that our readers read your essay closely.

We have been blessed with a large number of excellent submissions lately, and we hope that you understand that we can only publish a small fraction of the material we receive.  

Good luck with your writing,

The Editors

Then, a few days later I received this email, also from "Brevity," about the second piece I had submitted. I submitted both pieces at the same time, so I was greatly encouraged that they spent more time reading the second piece. Note that this time they address me as "Kathy" instead of "Ms. Haynie." They like me!


This one came very close, up to the final round of decision making, in fact, but we've decided to pass on this essay.

I don't know if that makes you feel good or if such "close but no cigar" news is just hard to hear, but we have been blessed with a large number of excellent submissions lately, and hope that you understand that we can only publish a small fraction of the material we receive.

We encourage you to submit your work elsewhere and to consider us again (remembering our rule, 
no more than two submissions per author per calendar year.)

Good luck with your writing,

The Editors

Yesterday I received this completely unexpected email. It's from "Oregon 150," a website that was set up last year to celebrate Oregon 150th birthday. I submitted a piece, along with requiring my students to submit writing several different terms. They really, really like my piece! It's going to be published in a book! I think I posted this link before, but if you haven't already read, "Volcano Weather," you can read it here. Or you can wait till the book gets published.  :)

Ooligan Press
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751
Portland, OR 97207
(503) 725-9748

Dear Kathy Haynie,

Congratulations! Ooligan Press will be including the story you submitted for the Oregon 150 Commission’s Oregon Stories project as part of a book by the same title that we will be publishing in the spring of 2010. The book will be comprised of 150 regional stories, which capture diverse Oregon experiences from myriad voices.

There were many potential pieces, and we enjoyed reviewing all of them. After much consideration, we have decided that your work fulfills our aspirations for the forthcoming book.

We will be contacting you with more information as the publication date draws closer. If you would like more information about Ooligan Press or have specific questions about the project, please visit our website www.ooliganpress.pdx.edu or e-mail editing@ooliganpress.pdx.edu.

We thank you for your time and effort and for your Oregon story.


Lauren Saxton

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Canada Report

Ha ha! The title of this post is designed to strike terror into David's heart. He and I both remember, so well, that weekend...

It was near the end of 6th grade. Mark was his scoutmaster, and the troop was scheduled for a campout. I was looking forward to a little quiet "me" time at home. And then David dropped the bomb: his Canada Report, assigned weeks before, was due the following Monday. And he had barely started. And he was now panicked and fessing up.

Sad, sad day. We waved goodbye to Mark as he left to head out with the other scouts. We went to the library (pre internet days). We scrounged up facts about Canada. I was an unhappy mama and he was an unhappy son.

I shouldn't have been surprised. This wasn't the first time we had been surprised with an unfinished project. But there was something about the Canada Report weekend that really got to both me and David. I began to despair that he would ever be successful in school. It wasn't long after that l-o-n-g weekend that we discovered that David, although very bright and in the Talented and Gifted program at school, also had Attention Deficit Disorder. I remember a conversation with his 4th grade teacher, Nancy Johnson. "What will he ever be able to do?" I wondered. "Don't worry," she said. "David is a good thinker, and the world needs thinkers." Even though I agreed that David was an excellent thinker, I wasn't so sure that would ever translate into marketable skills.

In high school, David did great on tests, excelled in drama productions, stank at homework. We insisted he maintain a B average in order to drive, and somehow he managed to squeak by with good enough grades to keep the license. I celebrated his high school graduation with a sigh of relief - we made it! But that wasn't the end of education, of course.

David's first couple of terms at Clackamas Community College weren't stellar, but he hung in there. I did, too, trying to strike a balance between nagging him about his assignments and letting him figure out how to manage adult college life on his own. Then he went on his mission. Came home and started back to school, dated a wonderful girl named Holly. When he and Holly married, I warned her that it was now up to her to make sure he kept up with his homework. "He'll need a planner," I suggested.

So she got him a planner. And he got better about using it. He finished at CCC and transferred to BYU-Idaho in frigid barren windy cold Rexburg, Idaho. Where he found his niche and was brilliant. Where his beautiful daughter was born. Where his wife decided to go back to school and complete her AA degree. Where he and Holly will both walk the stage at graduation tomorrow night.

So here I am, sitting in the Portland Airport, waiting to board a plane to Salt Lake City. Kendra and Chris will meet me at the airport, along with their darling kiddos, and we'll drive through into the night to Rexburg, where I will laugh and cry at David's college graduation. Where I won't even remind him about the Canada Report. Maybe.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Helping Polly move in to her new home

Polly has moved to the Northwest! Eric will follow this weekend. Polly and the kids are getting settled into their new home in Granger, WA. Mark and I went up on Friday night to help her unpack and get organized. We stopped off at Multnomah Falls on the way home to enjoy the spectacular ice show.

Grandpa putting the crib together.

Seth climbing up on the "monkey bed" - Katie's bunk bed. Polly takes the ladder down for the day if the kids are being too reckless.

Polly making waffles in her new kitchen - so much roomier, with lots of nice cupboards.

The roomy living room with the Christmas-tree-with-an-attitude. Polly plans to have the kids string popcorn and cranberries soon. So far it has two strings of purple lights.

Rebecca sitting in a box - getting into the spirit of things.

Katie playing hide-and-seek in her mama's new big closet.

Multnomah Creek completely frozen over - we saw salmon swimming here a month ago.

Spectacular ice display at Multnomah Falls - all the frozen spray. Hard to believe Mark and I hiked here just last month.

Close-up of the pool at the base of Multnomah Falls - look at all those ice sickles!

At the end of our play day - time to head home!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Paying Bills

Last night I paid the bills.

Such an ordinary statement, but there are so many families who can't say that. It is too easy to take a job and a paycheck for granted, to complain about the bills, about getting up in the morning, about interest rates or coworkers.

My children can tell you that shopping is not a favorite activity of mine. I generally regard grocery shopping as a chore. But some years ago I had a friend whose husband was unemployed. They received food assistance from the church, for which they were grateful, but she shared with me that she longed to go grocery shopping, and choose the specific foods for her family. Ever since then, while I haven't been thrilled about going for groceries, I have at least been more aware of the privileged position I hold when I walk into the store with the ability to make a purchase.

This comes up in a book I've been reading about the author's adventures in Uzbekistan, called Chasing the Sea. At one point he realizes the gulf between him and his translator, simply because he (the author) comes from a stable economy. It is so easy to forget that what seems normal and ordinary to us in the U.S. would be miraculous in many other places.

For many of the people of the world, including a bunch of folks here in the US, even the families of some of my students, this post would be major, wonderful news.

Did you hear? I sat at the kitchen table last night and paid the bills.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nine things that made me happy today

1. Going into Portland on the MAX train to go to a seminar. The seminar was a dud - left after 2 hours - but the train ride is so good. I took the laptop and some work to do, and just puttered while the train took me into Portland. It was nice and warm inside the train, too.

2. Finding out more about my new students as I worked on the train. Yesterday (first day of the term) they wrote on a 3x5 card with their favorite activities, something unique about themselves, what they do well as a writer, what they want to improve. I was a little intimidated by the whole group of them yesterday--38 kids, 24 of them boys--but reading about them individually I can tell that they are such interesting people. I can't wait to get to know them better.

3. Finding my way to the seminar from the MAX station. I walked about 6 blocks, and found my way with no problem at all. I love walking, and I love being outdoors. It was such a nice thing to get to do.

4. Riding home on the MAX train and enjoying the beautiful blue sky. It's COLD out - never got over 30 degrees today, and there was a wind on top of that, but the sky was so, so pretty. And it was warm inside the train.

5. Coming back to school and seeing Mark in the teacher office on his prep period. He was wearing his beautiful purple shirt. He looks so handsome, and I was so glad to see him again.

6. Getting a phone message from Polly to let me know that she and Rebecca arrived ok in Granger. They drove over from Seattle today to move into their new house. She knew that I've been worried about her making this move by herself, since Eric is still in Berkeley finishing up his dissertation. She is brave to do all this on her own! It was so thoughtful of her to call and let me know that she's doing ok.

7. Going to Fred Meyers to buy a new 3-ring notebook for my class. The new term started yesterday, and it's time to set up a new notebook for lesson plans, grades, attendance, etc. I love getting all those sections organized and ready.

8. Going to the car wash on the way home. Even though it's below freezing, I'm glad I went and got the car clean. I love driving a clean car!

9. Paying the car wash guys a tip. As I was waiting for my turn, I could see that there was soapy ice all over the floor where they get the cars soaped up. At 28 degrees! They must have been freezing! So when I gave them $10.00 for the $6.00 car wash, I told the guy that the change was a tip for him and his buddy. It didn't seem like much, but they were excited. The guy at the window yelled to the other one, "Hey, a $4.00 tip!" and then the other guy waved at me, too. I'm sure they like the money, but I'll bet it's even better to just be noticed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Scouting for Food

Today was the annual scouting service project called "Scouting for Food." That's not when the cub scouts go on the prowl for snacks. It's a food drive for the local food bank. Scout troops and cub scout packs do this all over the US on the first Saturday in December. If any cub scouts come to your house and ask very nicely for a donation, you really should give them something, even if it's only one can, because those little kids are standing out there in the cold. They don't want to hear that you already gave to the food drive at the office. (We really do hear that, every year. Give me a break - just one little can???)

But for the most part, people are generous. This morning we started at 9:00 am and finished at 11:00 am. We had 4 cub scouts show up, 6 parents, 5 siblings, 2 den leaders, and 1 den leader husband. The 18 of us went door-to-door in 30-degree weather and collected 597 pounds of food in 2 hours! I think that is pretty remarkable, especially since we weren't in a ritzy neighborhood.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I always have such mixed feeling about Fridays.

On the one hand, of course I'm thrilled to have a weekend ahead, with all the promise it holds of leisure, getting caught up on the work I'm behind on, getting chores done, just some quiet down time.

Everybody loves Fridays, right?

On the other hand, each Friday is a marker to me of another week gone by. Another week of time I will never see again. Another week--I know this is taboo to talk about--closer to my death.

I certainly don't hate Fridays, but they do make me a little nervous. They remind me of my mortality. Some day I'll say hello to Friday for the last time, and I suspect that even if that is many, many years from now, I still won't feel like I have everything done.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Things that go bump in the night

One of the worst feelings is to have a child far away and not be able to help. (Probably the child feels worse about that.) Last night Katie called to tell us that Kendra was in the emergency room, very ill, with constant vomiting + diarrhea after 3 hours, lots of pain. She came home during the night, then went back to the ER this morning because she blacked out and conked her head and hurt her arm.

I just wanted to get in the car and drive from Oregon to Utah, to try to help out.

But instead, of course, I went to work and waited for a phone call with some kind of news. I finally heard that Kendra is doing better. She was passing out because she was so dehydrated, so they gave her more IV fluids. Now she's keeping fluids and bland foods down - she told me she never knew that a cup of broth would taste so good!

I remember years ago when Polly was on such a tight budget at college and I worried if she had enough in her food budget. Or when Julia was living in Wisconsin and nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning. So far away. So little I can do. I pray and try to not fuss and make the situation worse. I try to be sensible and useful.

But it's hard when you worry and there's really not much else to do in the middle of the night.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Free handmade book giveaway

My daughter Kendra makes very very cool handmade books. She is hosting a giveaway of a book and some handmade cards. You can learn more about how to win one of her wonderful books by going to her blog.

I am kind of a handmade book snob, now that I own FIVE of Kendra's books! No wait, it's SIX! She's an amazing independent bookbinder. Do visit her webpage to learn more about her awesome books.

And you can even see her on You Tube! She recently completed a 3-foot-square (that's HUGE!) book for an artist. He custom-ordered it for his painting projects.

Wow, what a talented gal she is. Go to her blog now and see if you can win the prize!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What kind of "vert" is Jesus?

Today during the sacrament I got to wondering whether Jesus is an introvert or an extrovert.

First I thought an introvert. He was alone for 40 days in the wilderness, and there were times when he just wanted to get away from all the people. He teaches to pray and to listen to the spirit.

But then I thought that can't be right, look at how he reached out to everyone. He truly loved everyone and wanted to let them know that. He told the leaders to let the little children come to him, and he hugged and loved every one of them. When he struggled, alone, in Gethsemane, he wished he had others there to help him.

So of course it's silly to even think this way. To be an "introvert" or and "extrovert" implies that a person is one thing or the other. The concept is built on the notion that a person is lacking one thing or the other. Most of us probably are. But Jesus is whole, our perfect exemplar. We are trying to be like Him, and I'm pretty sure that must mean he is perfectly able to look within, and perfectly able to reach out.

In one way, it is helpful to me to know that I have the tendency to be introverted. This self-knowledge helps me to understand my weaknesses and to be realistic about the expectations I place on myself. But in another way, it's important that I not use this concept as an excuse to avoid the challenges that are difficult to me. If I'm going to be fully Christlike, I have to be both introverted and extroverted.

He promised that my weaknesses can become my strengths. I need to presume welcome.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Clean Pantry!

The pantry was driving me NUTS!
It is so deep that things get lost in it. Ugh.
Mark and I went to Fred Meyers and bought some little shelves.

I pulled everything out and organized!


Mark even installed some little lights in the pantry.
Now it's so fun to open the pantry and just enjoy...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving at My House

We had a very happy day yesterday. It was just a few of us who live here; a very relaxed and easy day.

Maleena did a major kitchen clean up to help prepare the area for the food preparations.

Mark and I wrote our Thanksgiving poems.

Julia and Mike made fruit salads.

Mark carved the turkey while I made the gravy.

And then we enjoyed our beautiful, yummy feast.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Annual Thanksgiving Poem

The rule at our house is: no pie until you share your (original) Thanksgiving poem!

Hooray! I get pie this year! Here's my poem:

Lazy Thanksgiving Sonnet

The turkey’s in the oven roasting slow
I’ll cran the berries into sauce at ten
It’s raining lightly, but no chance of snow.
You mash the yams and thaw the pies and then

We’ll nap. The day will laze along till one
We might go for a stroll around the block.
By then the turkey should be almost done
We’ll set the table, take a picture, talk.

We won’t have children running in and out.
The dishes won’t take hours and hours to wash.
All day, in fact, we can do just about
Whate’er we want without a care, by gosh.

Oh happy crowd of last year, stay away--*
I love a quiet, calm Thanksgiving Day.

*Note to my darling and wonderful relatives. You know I love you. You know I love to have us gathered together. So please don't take this personally! It's just after last year, with 22 people at the house, and 2 years in a row with a December wedding, that I am rather fond of only having a few people in the house today. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The determining factor

This quote from President Uchtdorf's talk in October General Conference make me think:

God does not need us to love Him. But oh, how we need to love God!
For what we love determines what we seek.
What we seek determines what we think and do.
What we think and do determines who we are--and who we will become.

I recommend his entire talk, which can be found here. It is titled, "The Love of God," and I found the entire article to be thought-provoking.

I appreciate his counsel not to get trapped into expectations, but to "stay aligned with [the] weightier matters." Of keeping the commandments, he warns that, "there are so many 'shoulds' and 'should nots' that merely keeping track of them can be a challenge...gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of 'good ideas.'"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Three Things I Take for Granted

Getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist
Can you guess where I went this afternoon? What a luxury, when you think about it. To lie back in a comfortable chair, open my mouth, and have another human pick out the crusty plaque built up along my gum line. (Makes me think of gorillas picking bugs off each other.) Without the assistance of my friendly dental hygienist, I would probably have very few teeth left. We complain about going to the dentist, but really, we are so spoiled.

Hot, clean water
Oh, my. We have so much of this. Last week one of the twins was complaining because her bath water wasn't so hot after several of us had already showered that morning. I explained to her that she already had more almost-hot water in the tub than pioneer children would have had. She had more almost-hot water in the tub than my grandparents had let me use in their tub when I visited as a child. When I stayed in Costa Rica, the shower water was heated by an element right at the shower head (scary). The only way to have warm water was to turn the water on to just a trickle. Brrrr. I enjoy a hot shower whenever I want.

Comfortable shoes
I just assume that I can go to the store, try on several pairs, and find something that will fit. My everyday shoes right now are trail runners by Salomon. They have Gore-Tex uppers and they are VERY comfortable. I am sad that I can't wear them on Sundays. I wonder how many people it required to make my shoes? What is their standard of living, and how far away are they. I'm fairly certain they live overseas in reduced circumstances. I wish the world could be more fair. I love my shoes.

I hope you have figured out that there are WAAAAAY more than three things I take for granted. I might write more about them some other time. But these are the three I am writing about tonight. What do you take for granted?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thin shoulder blades beneath a white shirt

We had quite an assortment of deacons passing the sacrament in church today. I smiled to notice their diversity. Here was the lineup:

Navarro, 12.  He has milk-chocolate-brown skin and dark curly hair, and is a newly baptized member of the church.
Philip, 12. Because he has autism, he has to be shepherded by his father or another adult (today it was Mark).
Mike, 40-something. He is a big guy over six feet tall; my son-in-law, he was baptized about a year ago.
Michael, 34. Sometimes his Down's syndrome makes it difficult to understand his speech, but he faithfully passes the sacrament.
Jordan, 12, the ward's youngest deacon. His family has been less-active for years, but they have been coming more regularly now that Jordan is 12 and serving in the priesthood.
Max, 20-something. Also over 6 feet tall and skinny, and also also newly baptized, he is Maleena's boyfriend.

I was sitting on the stand with the choir, so I could watch the deacons as they made sure that each member of the congregation received the bits of bread and little cups of water. It was a normal Sunday. The deacons had their routes around the chapel to take care of, which they did without fanfare. They were reverent, and the chapel was quiet.

I noticed an interchange between two of the deacons just before they returned the trays to the front of the chapel. They were all lined up, except for Jordan. He approached the line, but instead of joining the other deacons, he exchanged trays with Max (who apparently still had some water on his tray; Jordan's must have been empty). Max, so tall, and Jordan, so young and new. Then Jordan turned and went with his new tray to the back of the chapel to finish serving the families on the back row. From my vantage point, I could see Jordan's thin shoulder blades beneath his white shirt as he managed the tray.

I was deeply touched by the service of this young boy. He was calm, doing what needed to be done so that everyone present could receive the sacrament emblems. It was a tender moment, a sacred moment: Christ's priesthood servants taking care of His business.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Recurring dreams

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, following a vivid dream about a house. I have had recurring dreams about houses for years. This might seem like a very boring dream subject--no flying, no adventure, no danger--but my house dreams are always deeply satisfying. They always contain a sense of mystery and anticipation.

My house dreams used to always be about my great-grandmother's house, although the dream houses never looked like her house. Now my house dreams are always about my own house, although the dream houses still never look like 916 Laurel Lane. The common element to ALL of my house dreams is that I find new spaces in the house. I open a door that has been there all along, one which I just hadn't noticed, and when I open it there is a whole new room to my house.

Before I went back to college, I used to dream about Grandma Polly's house a lot. I was in her house, and it was too small, too cramped, I felt confined. Then I would open a door and there would be this room, and I had all the space I needed. I think going to college in my 30s gave me some space I needed. After I had been in college for a while, I stopped dreaming about Grandma Polly's house, and I thought I had outgrown my house dreams. That made me a little sad, but it was worth it to have a college degree.

But lately I've been having them again. Usually when I wake up and remember a house dream, like this morning, I know that the dream is very familiar. I think I dream them many times without remembering them. This morning's dream was about a huge house - 5 or 6 stories tall, with 2 levels of basements, and 2 different levels of attics. It was built in the style of the open-beam, big-timbered lodge up on Scouter's Mountain (like I said, the dream houses do not resemble the house I actually live in).

I was exploring the basements, which were very satisfying. They had sooooo much space to store camping equipment. I had lots! Then I went up to the main floors, where the rooms were huge and filled with things that were interesting, aesthetically pleasing, and also very useful. I meant to get up into the attics, but I didn't get around to it. There was so much to hold my interest on the main floor.

Then I woke up. I wonder what was in those attics? I'm curious, but not worried. I know I'll dream about them again.

PS: I think it's fun to go to the online Dream Dictionary to see what the symbols in my dreams might suggest. I don't always agree with their definitions, but it's interesting to see what they have to say.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Black Hole

In high school physics class
Mr. Shaw explained
that light reflected
off of everything.
The only black
truly black thing
we could see
was a hole
in a box
painted black

The hole
--not a thing--
was the blackest

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stopping to breathe

My life at work has been intense and stressful lately. I love my job, and I am happy to do the work I do, but with all the budget cuts, we are doing more with fewer people, and so sometimes I forget to take any time out for myself.

This morning I was powering along between one task and another on my computer, when this photo popped up on my desktop. (You really should click on it so it will be big, beautiful, and clear.)

Seeing the photo suddenly pop up again was like magic. I am certain that my heart rate and breathing rate slowed down. I felt myself taking deeper breaths.

I took this photo on the backpacking trip to Jefferson Park with Mark in August. It was a magical time. Mark was recovering from cancer surgery, and we were so, so, so happy to be out there together. The flowers, which were far more amazing than this photo conveys, really captured the glorious spirit of that outing.

As I sat here at my computer and just breathed for a few minutes, my eyes were drawn to the background of the photo. The flowers, so bright and lovely, would be just a bunch of wildflowers without the dark background of the firs. There is a sense of hidden mystery to that darkness. At the forefront, you can make out the shapes of the firs, but then it all recedes into black. Trials and difficulties in our lives are a lot like that, too. There is so much that is unknown. So much we have to take on faith.

We need contrast in our lives. Without the dark times, it would be more difficult to appreciate the light. The sadnesses and struggles throw joyful times into sharp relief. The hike into Jefferson Park would have been amazing in any season, but coming after Mark's cancer surgery and recuperation, it was pure, pure joy. My stressful days at work are countered by the intimacy of reading students' writing and watching them open their hearts.

So, to de-stress your morning, and to help you feel joy, I will share the hiking song I made up for myself while hiking into Jefferson Park. It goes to the tune of "I love the flowers, I love the daffodils, etc." You know the one with all the "Boom-dee-adda"s at the end. You are welcome to stop whatever you are doing right now, and sing along:

I love the rocky trails, I love the PCT,*
I love the skeeters,* gosh what's come over me?
I love adventuring with my one true love,
Boom-dee-adda, Boom-dee-adda, Boom-dee-adda, Boom-dee-adda.

I love the ridges, I love the gentle breeze,
I love the huckleberries, I love the Doug Fir trees,
I love the talus slopes with their views so grand,
Boom-dee-adda, Boom-dee-adda, Boom-dee-adda, Boom-dee-adda.

There, don't you feel better and less stressed now? I know I sure do.
*PCT = Pacific Crest Trail, *skeeters = mosquitos