Thursday, July 30, 2015

Books I read July 2015

Is it possible I only read two books in July?  I've been busy elsewhere I guess.  The good news is, I liked both of them.

A Small Hotel ****
by Robert Olen Butler

This was a good one!

My only hesitation in recommending this book is that I know my sisters wouldn't like it.  It's not G rated.  Fair warning.

It was an excellent book though.  The writing was beautiful and up until the last page, I was holding my breath, unsure of what was going to happen and hoping against hope for a happy ending.

I won't tell you what happened.

It's about a divorce.  And a marriage.  It starts on the day of a divorce with lots of memories and flashbacks of each person.

So good.

A Patchwork Planet ***
by Anne Tyler

I always like Anne Tyler.  Her characters are impeccable.  I remember when I picked one of her books for book club and no one really liked it much.  It surprised me.  I guess she's not everyone's flavor.

This is about a guy who's kind of a loser (much like most of Anne Tyler's characters) but he's also very likable and he made strides and it made me think a lot.

What more can I want?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In progress

This is one of those projects that feels like it is never going to be finished.

The basement!

The good news is that it is painted.  I couldn't do the little bit at a time method.  It was making me crazy.  For one thing, it was very inefficient to get stuff out and clean it up every day.  For another thing, I just wanted. To. Be. Done.

Saturday Emma and Adam helped me.  Mark was just getting home from scout camp and unpacking and recuperating from that.  Braeden?  We gave him less dangerous jobs like going to get us lunch and mowing the lawn.

That kid and a paintbrush don't mix.

Here's a picture that really shows off how truly ugly that paint was.  (Emma wears an old referee shirt of Adam's to paint.)

Much better...

But then there's a problem, and it's called We Have Too Many Books.

Way too many.  We are trying to go through them and get rid of some and it is a long and slow process.  Also, I want them organized in a way that makes sense.  (Not by color...remember that disaster?)

The other day we were moving furniture back and Mark was maneuvering bookshelves and had a mishap:

This is the wall in the toy room...happily the holes are underneath a Canadian flag Mark has hanging on the wall--see the red shadow on the top of the picture?  Mark was mortified and disconsolate after the accident and Emma assured him that Canada had him covered.
So yeah, getting the basement rearranged has been all sorts of fun.  We may be at it for the rest of our lives...

In the meantime, there's one and only one part of the basement that is perfectly finished: the stairwell.

It's the small victories.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Last Friday night we drove into Spanish Fork Canyon for family night at Mark's scout camp.  (Mark had a sunburned neck and nose and arms and legs.  He got zero sympathy from his mother who sent him with a hat and sunscreen.  Mark remember that part where you are super white and have red hair?)

It was great to see that kid though.  I think he grew while he was there.  Can a sunburn prompt growth?

When we were driving into camp, I saw Amy, who I knew in college, sitting on the grass.  I pointed her out to Adam and he agreed that was her.  Then I doubted myself because she looked so young.  Then I kept seeing her from a distance while we were getting the dinner ready (Adam and I lucked out and were on the food committee...don't be jealous!) and I was convinced it was her.  Finally, everyone was served and I went and found Amy.

I said, "Are you Amy Kondris?"

She stared at me, trying to figure out who I was, recognizing me, but trying to place me in the chronology of someone who would know her maiden name.

It all came tumbling back to her and we talked and talked and talked.  We reported on college friends who are still connected with us.  We tried to remember the names of people.  I met her husband and kids and introduced her to our kids.  She gawked at the size and age of Braeden and said he reminded her of Adam.  We had a marvelous time reconnecting.  We live in the same stake!

We told each other a brief synopsis of our lives.  We've both have had little blips of unemployment and heartache in life.  She told me about some of the friends she still is in touch with and about some of the good and hard times they've had.

It made me happy to see her, to reconnect and remember.

Later I was thinking about the old friends she mentioned, people I hadn't thought about in years.  I thought about the college friends I am still in touch with.  They also have had hard things happen at times.

Last weekend when Enoch and his family were in town, we all met up with Ammon and his family at a restaurant that is managed by one of Enoch's high school classmates.  It was fun to see him.  I was catching up with him and I asked him about his older sister.  A shadow passed over his face and he told me that his sister had passed away a year and a half earlier.

I felt terrible.

I guess what it all makes me realize and remember is that life can be hard.  The older we get, the more battered we can become.   There are no guarantees in life and if you think someone else has a perfect life, you don't know them well enough.  For that reason, I want to be kinder.  I want to worry less about myself and give everyone around me a break.

Mostly I want to get to the point where I don't have to keep reminding myself of that.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A tale to tell

My apologies to the heroes of the story if I get the details wrong, this story was told to me and I want to keep it and remember it and I want my children to go back and read and remember.

So hence the blog post.

Friday night and into Saturday morning, the young men in the stake where a lot of my family live did a 50/20.  They walked fifty miles in twenty hours.

Yes, you read that right.

They left at 2:00 in the afternoon and walked through the night.  At 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning they were going to be done, whether or not the fifty miles were accomplished.

You can imagine the motherly trepidation as Marianne and Jennifer sent their 12 and 13 year old boys.

Marianne went to bed on Friday night and at 1:00 a.m., Deseret called her.  She had been at a leadership camp and it was time to go meet the bus because they were home.

After picking Desi up, they talked about the boys (and Robert) out doing their walk.  Desi, who was somehow wired and energetic at 1:00 a.m., said, "We should go see them!"

Marianne declined, but Desi talked her into it.  Desi can pretty much talk her mother into anything but Marianne sort of deserves that because she was a very similar kind of teenager.

They stopped off at home to change shoes and drove out into the night, to find the walkers.

They met them at mile 36.  At mile 35, Morgan had called it quits.  And that is amazing.  He pushed himself to the end of his limit and Marianne was exceedingly proud of him.  (So am I.)

Robert and Hyrum and Isaiah and some others were sojourning along.  Desi aimed all of her considerable enthusiasm at them and it was perfect timing.  They needed the boost.  She encouraged them and lifted their spirits and walked happily alongside them.  Marianne was getting ready to head back home (after walking with them for 4 miles!) and Robert said, "You can't take Desi.  We need her.  She has to stay."

Desi, of course agreed.  She was just coming off a leadership camp (in the history of teenagers I  think kids always come home from something like that exhausted), but they needed her and Desi is as tough as nails.

Probably tougher.

Marianne left them in Desi's capable hands.  Early in the morning, she heard from Robert.  He and Hyrum had made it; Isaiah and Desi were still on their way.

Marianne later heard more about their adventure.  As they walked together, Desi told Isaiah about every date she'd ever been on.  She told him about other adventures she'd had including when she'd been at Philmont scout camp earlier in the summer and a chicken had relieved itself on her head.  Isaiah told her a detailed description of the plot of Jurassic World.

And they walked.

The going was slow and Desi was worried they wouldn't reach the end before the 10:00 a.m. cutoff.  At that point it was mental strength and mental strength alone that was keeping them going.  Desi knew that, so she reminded Isaiah what a waste it would be if they didn't finish after all the huge effort he had already put it.

She convinced him to run.

How on earth Desi even considered running when she'd been at a camp, been up all night, and just walked nearly fourteen miles is beyond me.

How on earth Desi could convince a twelve year old boy to run after he had walked nearly 50 miles is beyond me.

How on earth Isaiah mustered the strength to run after walking nearly 50 miles is beyond me.

How on earth I could be related to such kids is beyond me.

They made it!

I am incredibly proud of them:  Robert, Hyrum, Morgan, Isaiah and Desi.  They are heroes.  For the rest of their lives, those boys will know they can do hard things.

For the rest of his life Isaiah will know something else too.  He will know he has a cousin who has. His. Back.

We were sitting around the kitchen table when I told this story to my family.  I started crying when I described the hand held radio report that Robert overheard, "Some boy and his sister are running!" and so did Braeden and Emma because that's the kind of sops we are.

Adam looked up at the clock.  "What time is it?" he asked.  "I want to drive there right now and see them."

We didn't drive there. We were halfway done painting our basement and we had responsibilities around here on Sunday.

We all felt it though.

These people are amazing and we want to see them and hug them and tell them they're amazing.

We would like some of that amazing dust to rub off on us.

Friday, July 24, 2015

She doesn't deserve us

one of my favorite pictures in the world:  a goldfish funeral

My mom is only minimally cheeky.  We all get it from my dad.  I'm pretty sure of that.

I emailed my siblings, telling them Braeden would be speaking in church on August 31.

That's the date our bishop gave us, so I forwarded it on.

Turns out that day is a Monday.  And I know that because of the barrage of cheeky emails my siblings sent.

Olivia said she didn't know how we did it in Utah, but in Nevada, Sunday was still the sabbath.

Ammon said we were doing a pilot program, having missionaries speak on Monday rather than Sunday because they take up too much time during sacrament meeting.

It went on and on.

Then my mom sent us some emails.  There are a few things that belonged to our grandma and grandpa Dahl that are up for grabs.  We are not very cutthroat about such things, although there are a few things more than one of us would like.  My mom is the epitome of fairness and wants to make sure that everyone has an equal chance to end up with something they like.  So the emails.  She included pictures.

More cheekiness ensued.  Including but not limited to me threatening to tie Enoch up on the front porch with jump ropes like we used to do when we babysat him.  (I would need my sisters' help, possibly my sisters in law too.  I'm pretty sure I can count on their assistance.)

Upon hearing that, and remembering the conversation we had at Ammon's birthday party where we talked about how I used to hold him over the banister of the stairs when he was a baby, just to terrorize him, Emma said, "I used to think I did mean things to Mark but when I hear about things you did to your brothers, I think I have always been very nice to him."

In my defense, Ammon said that I wasn't the only one that held him over the banister like that.

He was our real live action toy we could get an impressive reaction out of.

(I'm not sure that's really a good defense.)

I was reading the stream of emails to Braeden because he appreciates the humor (few would appreciate it--it's a times). 

At one point, Braeden shook his head.  "Your poor mom," he said.

And I agree.  She deserves better.  As for me, my siblings are pretty much a delight.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I don't know what to title this post, but the point is that I miss Mark

I haven't made dinner since Mark's been at scout camp and looking at the rest of the week, I realize I won't be making dinner once while Mark is at scout camp.

Braeden asked, "Is that Ginger the only thing holding this family together?  Good thing he's not going on a mission."

"Yeah," I said, "We won't even notice you're gone.  Braeden?  Braeden who?"

Except I will.  Because my boys are alike in many ways and one of them is their talking.  They talk.  And talk.  They remind and harass and talk.  And talk.

The crazy thing is that as much as they talk, Emma doesn't.

Emma had some friends over on Tuesday night.  She'd asked me over a month ago if that would work and I told her yes and then she didn't bring it up again until I wondered about our Tuesday night plans.

"I'm having friends over," she said.

"Wait, what?"

So she reminded me and I had a shaky recollection and if it had been the boys, we'd have talked about it at great length every day.

I asked Emma about food for dinner and snacks and we bought some provisions.  Then she told me something she had to do Wednesday morning (a neighborhood plant watering and chicken taking care of gig).  She said, "I'll have to let my friends know."

Wait, what?

"You are going over to water/take care of chickens Tuesday night?"

"No, my friends and I are sleeping in the backyard so they'll be here Wednesday morning."

Wait, what?

"We talked about this."

Yeah, a month ago.  Vaguely.  I think I need the daily hashing things out that my boys provide.

So Emma doesn't communicate much but she got up early and made pancakes and eggs for her friends and then she cleaned the kitchen.  I think I'll keep her.

Maybe I'll talk her into making dinner.

Since I can't seem to without Mark around.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Braeden got his first checkbook.  He's had a debit card (that he's fairly fast and loose with) for awhile but he wanted checks to make it easier to pay tithing.  I was explaining to him about the duplicate check feature.  I showed him the check register.  He looked at me blankly.  "I don't know why you would need to do that."

I was grateful neither of his accountant grandmas were here to see my failings as a mother.

I explained it again.

"Still," he said, "Why do you need to keep track?"

"So you don't, you know, spend more money than you have?"

There are holes in my parenting.  Some big ones.

In my mind, Braeden is still this age:

Braeden's twelve in that picture.  Mark, currently twelve, is at scout camp right now, using that backpack!

If Braeden's still twelve, I have time to teach him all the things he needs to know before he goes out in the world.

But then I remember he's not twelve.

I have shown him how to iron a shirt, but I don't know if he can actually do it.  Same goes for sewing on a button.  We have our lapse in money management instruction.  Does he know how to cook enough food to keep himself alive?

Yesterday he made a fried egg sandwich for lunch and declared it perfection.  He said he would make one every morning while on his mission.  He didn't however, clean up after himself. 

Braeden is confident and personable and has a strong sense of purpose when it comes to why he wants to serve a mission.  He knows that following Jesus Christ will make people happy and he wants to share that message with them.  I feel pretty good about Braeden's readiness to go in some ways.

In the meantime, I'll be here frantically trying to patch up parental holes.


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