Monday, December 28, 2015

Memories of Papa (and childhood, when I was a little girl in Idaho)

I am very small. For whatever reason, I am spending the day with Dad in "the Shop"-- that's what my family called Plants West Floral, the business my parents ran for approximately the first decade of my life. It is lunchtime, and we are in the kitchen part of the shop-- the building was converted from a house my grandparents had once owned, so the part the customers came in is in front, but there is still a fully functioning kitchen in the back. Dad opens a can of ravioli and puts the can in some water in a crockpot, double-boiler style. I ask Dad what the ravioli is-- I'm somewhat unfamiliar with the concept of a food which can be eaten straight from a can (my mother cooks everything from scratch when we are at home.) He explains as best he can; I try it; canned ravioli becomes one of my favorite foods. Not that I got to eat it very often-- I didn't-- but to this day, I LOVE over-cooked pasta, and I'm pretty sure that this warm emotional association has something to do with that fact.

I remember other rooms in the Shop; I remember the huge (probably not that big, but I was little then) bathroom, which had not only a toilet and a sink but a large, claw-footed bathtub, in which at least once, maybe more than once, Dad bedded me down in for a nap. He laid a quilt in the bottom, and then went to help me hop in. Looking back, I'm sure that the other rooms were too loud for a kid to fall asleep in, and this was his solution to that. I am, again, surprised-- you can't sleep in a bathtub! I say-- but he points out that if there is no water in it, you most certainly can, and I do. And yes, I love claw-footed bathtubs now, too.

(Kiiiind of like the tub in this picture, but no curtain or showering apparatus, and the floor was green linoleum. In my memory, the bathroom is always dimly lit, which may have something to do with the fact that my memories seem to mostly have to do with sleeping there.)

Perhaps it was during one of these naps that I noticed some green-and-yellow wallpaper in the corner. Later on, at Christmas, we received a wooden kitchen playset which had been covered in that same paper. I had such a believing heart-- I still do, gets me in trouble sometimes-- that as soon as I had pointed out to my parents that the wallpaper on our new toys was the same I had seen in the bathroom, I immediately came to the conclusion, in wonderment, that somehow Santa had come into our shop in order to get the wallpaper to make our kitchen set nice.

One example of how being such a credulous kid got me into trouble: once I started the first grade (I was a kindergarten dropout-- another story for another day) I would stand outside at recess and look at the sky in wonder, thinking about how strange it was that the sky looked so real, and how much it felt like I really was outside. You see, when I learned the Pledge of Allegiance, I had learned (or thought I had learned) that we were one nation, underground, invisible, with liberty and justice for all. Being as how the Cold War was still on at that time, and my parents had explained a little bit about our enemies and the threat of nuclear war, I assumed that our nation had been moved underground so as to BE invisible, but I was truly astounded by the magnificent paint job which they had done, so very much like a real sky would look.

Last memory. I've always been a bit of an early bird, and this morning, I wake up and find my father messing with his camera in the living room. I ask him about it, and he explains a little bit about aperture, and film speed, and how at this time of day, you can get some nice silhouettes. He asks me if he can take my picture, and I say yes, and that picture is still around, in 2015, in my files. If I get around to it, I'll try to scan it so that I can at least send it to interested parties.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I Love My Job

I really love my job. I would keep it forever, if only they would pay me enough that I didn't have to live with my mother. They would actually be paying me that much if I were a "real teacher" instead of a paraeducator, but the thing is, I kind of love being a paraeducator-- I love not having to write tests, or grade tests, or give homework, or grade homework, or very most of all, turn grades in. OR turn in lesson plans.

Anyway. I hope you get a glimpse of why my job is so fun...

The students described in the exchange below are sixth-graders. Seventh-graders generally find grown-ups to be below their notice unless one does something truly spectacular.

Student: Ms. P, are you savage?
Myself: Am I what?
Student: Savage.
Myself, in slightly exaggerated but not totally fake shock: That is not a polite question!
Several students jump in now, explaining that "savage" means "cool."
Myself: Nope.
Student: But you seem cool.
Myself: It's an illusion.
Student: But--
Myself: It's an illusion.

Eventually I'll stop posting about compliments to myself. Perhaps I should post  just one more first, though, so that there will be an odd number. :)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

She Sussed Me Out

Student, turning a book in as he watches me begin to shelve some others: "Sorry I'm making more work for you.

Me: "Oh, no, it's great! We feel so loved when you check more books out."

Student: "I actually think it may mean that we love books."

Librarian: "I think Ms. P is including herself when she talks about books. Her Spirit Animal is a book."

Me: *I laugh so loud that I embarrass myself-- because, I'm in a library*

I don't think the student was very amused, but I felt loved anyway.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Another Poem: Poor Beautiful Delicious

Poor Beautiful Delicious

She sat under the
sea-swept stars she
found great big amazing

and underneath the apple tree

we found her there
and held her hand
and stroked her hair

no children
no children,
there for me

no children dance ‘neath my Christmas tree

and when we left
we found

she wishes-- the magic did not have to end.

She wishes her children would love her.

She dips into the cesspool of humanity
and finds a gem
and another
it is a gem-field

but again

she sleeps
Waters ripple and flow
all good things end
unless a corn of wheat fall to the ground


she is launched

and she was never mine to start with

no one is


how I wish
a part of me wishes
though I know it is evil
because it is not right

I did not have to make friends with them.
I have to figure them out.
I want not to.
I am tired.
But it is evil.
So I must.

We must make ourselves different,
And we find ourselves different.
Will I be acceptable now?
Or will I still know myself again?

How I wish
to lie under the starry skies
to see them all
to observe
to commune with that which
comes out
only under the stars
when one is alone

But it was not made for us to be alone
not permanent.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Happy Day

About a month ago, I thought about doing a post titled "Like a Backwards Country Song," fashioned after a joke my mother told me a couple decades ago: if you play a country song backwards, the dog comes alive, the truck gets fixed, the wife comes back... because, what happened to me was: I found my keys; I found my spare keys; I found my wallet, with my driver's license in it...

I've been less absentminded lately (hallelujah!) although not perfect; just a couple of days ago, I re-instituted the "I am not allowed to turn the stove on without also turning on the kitchen timer" rule, while wondering how it had ever fallen out of disuse in my life in the first place.

But I know why. When I am not scatterbrained, I KNOW I'm not scatterbrained, and I know I don't need the rule; but when I AM scatterbrained (short on sleep, short on food, upset), I tend to be less aware of basically everything, including both my own mental state and the existence of a pot I just put on to boil. Luckily no permanent harm was done, but I'm trying to re-remember that my personal rules are in place not for the times when I'm doing well and know I'm doing well, but for the times when I'm not doing well and am hazy about that fact.

Anyway, not to focus solely on my scatterbrained-ness: this summer has seen not only the triumph of my finishing the first draft of a novel (hooray!) but also, today, of my figuring out how to make the middle interesting enough to read (in case you were curious: add monsters).  Now I just have to decide/ figure out what kind: dragons? Crackens? Harpies? Two-year-olds-in-full-meltdown?

If all goes well, by the end of the summer I will have a slightly-less-rough-draft to pass out to all of the people who said, "Really? A novel? Can I read it, please?" I explained to them that I think it's rude to send out your very first draft. I remember when I was a writing TA, and people would bring in their drafts, and I would tell them to fix a Thing, and they would say, "Oh, I already knew that I should fix it," and my response would be, "Then why DIDN'T you fix it?"

If you would like to be one of those aforementioned readers, leave a comment (OR just email me).

A draft! Huzzah! And I know how to finish it (I think)! Double huzzah!

Monday, June 15, 2015

MORE temple in the fog

I wasn't at the temple on a foggy day again; I just decided that  I liked a couple more of these pictures more than I had realized.

An Poem

I'm pretty sure I wrote this within the last year. I'll probably put something up above it, so that I don't have to look at it every time I open the blog.


when you are unglued
your parts start to trail behind you
like bits of an exploded spacecraft
hinges, nuts, bolts
near-- but not-- attached
not functional


and yet the world still drifts along
and you gather in a basket
the jumbled parts
hobbling along
catching something (probably essential)

Yes, yes!
I'm coming
I will attend

But my heart is bleeding out
If I could but find rest
perhaps I could reassemble


if I could but find
someone who could listen

Earth-bound, clockwork man
If I recall-- I don't know if I do--
The clockwork condition
was caused by too many wounds
in the first place.

I will rust if I cry too long.
I may cry forever.

But this much I know:
moving keeps the rust at bay
      for now.

How do you become real again?
When-- how-- will I gain flesh and blood again?
How do I become myself again?

Is it true, what they say?
Is it true that God heals all wounds?
Is it true that He can turn
     try into do
     a stone into flesh
                         or bread?
The unreal into real?

They say
He created man from a clot of blood-- or clay--
a wound, beginning to heal-- a piece of raw material
should I not qualify?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What I Said in Church Today

[Yesterday evening, at my ward's Passover Seder, one of the counselors in the Bishopric came and sat next to me and asked if I would be willing to share a brief, five-minute-ish testimony during church today. He said that maybe it could be about the Atonement, or Resurrection, or something. I knew what I had been through recently, and I thought to myself: am I going to be able to keep it together for something like that? And I thought, no, I am not. So I told him yes, but I think I'm likely to cry. He said, that's OK, that's often a part of peoples' experiences when they share their testimonies. I didn't trust myself not to cry even then, by explaining more, so I just went ahead the next day.

As advertised, I did indeed cry through much of this. On the other hand, it was kind of cathartic, and, if you think it's a good thing (it probably is, though I don't always love it) everyone in the ward is now aware of the saddest thing going on in my life right now. So.]

As I thought about what to say today, some personal experiences come to mind. I know that not everyone loves to hear about personal experiences, but the thing is, I was asked to share my testimony, and a testimony is about things you know, and I don't know anyone else's experiences better than I know my own. So I'm going to share them.

Several years ago, because I was living in the area where I had grown up, I ended up going to seven funerals in one year. That was kind of a rough year for me. I was talking to someone about it one day, and she suggested that I should keep a gratitude journal, so that I wouldn't focus on the negative so much. I thought to myself, "But this is my life!" But it was good advice, and I tried keeping a gratitude journal and I try even today to focus on gratitude, because it's a true principle, and it is helpful. I do think that it's appropriate to be sad when sad things happen in your life, though.

Nevertheless, after a while, it gets boring to only have one emotion, and I began to look for ways to be happier, even amid all my trouble. I tried to take Elder Faust's advice, to take happiness in the small things: to enjoy relationships, notice the trees and nature around me, to rejoice in even small victories and so on. And this was good advice, and I still try to do this, too.

But it was much later when I found the real answer. A couple of years ago, a man gave a talk in a ward I was in, in which he told a story from his mission in Russia. He was assigned to visit a very small branch-- and this branch would not be growing. It had once been bigger, but it was in an industrial area which was closing down, and so this one family was all that was left of the branch, and it was all there was going to be until they moved or died. The missionary who was visiting them was very surprised at how happy they were-- they were just very joyful in the Gospel. He asked them about it, and he found out that they were happy because they knew that they were doing what they should, and that was enough for them.

A year ago this Easter-- last Easter, in 2014-- I had kind of an odd day. I spent it in the company of a lady who was 103, and who happened to be dying that day. It was an odd Easter, but it was very satisfying.

Then, this Easter, I ended up spending the day with my dad, who is also kind of dying. He has lots of health problems: he has this bone marrow cancer, he keeps having strokes, and he has congestive heart failure. It's like his body is trying to kill him. He keeps saying he's ready to go, but I keep telling him that I'm not ready for him to go. I told my sister this, and she said that he kept telling her that he's ready to go, too, and she would say, "Well, Cornelia's getting here on Monday; can you wait 'til Monday?"

And he did. I flew in, and my younger sister very kindly picked me up at the airport, and she was going to drop me off at the train station, but I missed the train by, like four minutes, and it was going to be another hour to the next train, and it was like 10:30 at night, so we were sitting in the parking lot trying to figure out whether she could maybe take me halfway and then have my older sister pick me up or something. Then we got a call that Dad was having severe vomiting and he was blacking out, and they were taking him by ambulance to the hospital. We didn't know which hospital he was going to, but my sister had a feeling about which hospital he would be at, and she took me there, and she was right.

So I spent the first couple of days of my vacation with my dad in the hospital. The significance of the severe nausea is, he was just taken off of one chemo drug because of the side effects, and it's possible that the nausea is a reaction to the new drug, and if he is rejecting that one, then he is kind of out of options. I spent time with him during the week, and then on Easter Sunday, my sisters wanted to spend some time with me, but I said, "I don't know if I'll see Dad alive again," and I ended up spending most of the day with him. I mean, if he gets another year, I won't complain, but I just don't know. In some ways it might be a mercy for him and for us if he went quickly, but I'm going to take all the time I can get, for now.

Because of the strokes, his brain doesn't work like it used to, and he doesn't enjoy the strategy games he used to enjoy, like Clue or Pandemic, but I found one that he enjoys and is good at. [Population Bracketology, in case anyone is curious. It's been pretty fun for all but the very young.] We played it several times on Easter evening, and when I asked if he wanted to play it one more time, he said, no, he wanted to play it at least twice more. He enjoyed the game a lot, and he told me that it was the best day he had had in a long time, and thanked me for it. He also really likes opera, and I happened to have a CD out from the library with an operatic soprano on it. I put it on as he was going to sleep, and he really enjoyed that, too. And I was happy, because I felt like I had done what I could.

Every time I see a dead body in a coffin-- though it sounds macabre, and in our society, we don't like dead bodies, and we think they are scary-- but when I see one, I feel a strong sense that the resurrection is real. I know that the resurrection will happen because of Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus Christ took upon himself our sicknesses, and sorrows, and pain. He never says, "You're too sad." And even though God is bound by the rules of the Universe, and can't always give us the things we want Him to, he does want us to be happy, and he works for our happiness. In fact, he has done everything for our happiness.

And that is my testimony of the Atonement, and of the Resurrection. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

[This is just my record-from-memory of what I said, as I remember it or, in a few small instances, as I wish I had said it.]

 [As of this afternoon: I just got off the phone with my mom, who went with Dad to his cancer doctor's appointment on Friday. His doctors think he has about a year left, maybe two.]

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Christmas and Winter, in Papa's childhood

PLEASE BE ADVISED: do NOT, repeat, NOT attempt to follow my father/your grandfather's more dangerous attempts at winter amusement. IF I or your parents ever catch you so much as thinking about attaching yourself to a motorized vehicle while you yourself are outside said vehicle, you will be in such very, very deep trouble.

Also, I believe that sort of thing is illegal, these days.

Even if it isn't, just DON'T.

Thanks. I do love you.

C: What kinds of gifts did your grandma make for you?
P: I don't remember. Socks. Oh, shirts. I remember one time she made me a t-shirt that was just the exact opposite of what I would have wanted. I don't think she had any idea that a boy my age could have any sense of fashion.
C: What was it like, and how was that different from what you would have wanted?
P: It was just a plain t-shirt. Uuuh-- what can I say. I would have had a button-up shirt if I would have had my choice. I just remember I wasn't very impressed with it. It was a shirt, though, that I could wear to school. It was one I needed, but didn't want. It was just very plain. I made some comment that I didn't need it or like it, and for some reason that didn't go over real well.
C: You played pass the button [at the Christmas parties]?
P: Yeah. They had a string they'd put it all around the room for the grandkids to hold, and tried to hide it from the person in the middle, and when they found the button, they traded places with them.
C: Were Christmas presents wrapped? If so, how?
P: Oh, yeah. We all wrapped our own presents for other people. There was a pile of wrapped presents for other people. Well, some were wrapped in just a grocery bag.
C: So, that IS a family tradition, then. [We have a running joke at Christmas that presents still in the bags they were bought in are "Starflower traditional wrapping paper." I find that Dad seems to be highly suggestible these days, so I am sort of wondering if this part of the conversation wasn't more influenced by his memories when he was a dad than from when he was a kid.]
P: Well, most of them were wrapped. I remember H saying that he wanted to stay up and help wrap.
C: So were your presents from Santa wrapped, or not?
P:  Some of them were wrapped, and some of them weren't.
[Since I have clear memories of my parents saying that Dad's family didn't wrap presents from Santa, and Mom's did, I will be checking this one out with Mom and/or the uncles.]
C: What was your best Christmas present ever?
P: Santa Claus had brought a rifle, a cap rifle, and you had to put a cap in at a time, and you shoot it, and it was-- I remember that, I really enjoyed it. We'd go out in the haystack, and we'd have war with each other. I don't remember if anyone else got one, but I remember it was mine, and I really liked it. You took the cap out and put it in the chamber, and pulled the trigger, and pop!
C: I remember you said you had Lincoln Logs. What other kinds of things did you have?
P: Yeah, and, oh, we had American Bricks, they were always a favorite. Instead of building houses, we would build tanks, or at least I would, we would build war pieces, throw one at each other and that was shooting.
C: Were they like like Legos?
P: Yeah, but not as tight.
I could build a tank by putting two rows together, and build my own army by making war pieces.
[Link to photographs of American Bricks over the years:]
C: Did you have toy cars, trains, or wagons?
P: I don't remember specifically. We could build all that stuff with our Legos. That was by far my favorite toys that I could remember.
C: Did they have wheels?
P: No. They didn't need wheels. We could drag them along the ground.
C: Did you go sledding in winter?
P: Yeah. Let's see if I can remember. Seems like we went to Presto Hill a few times. A lot of people went there, Presto Bench. Not even sure how to pronounce it, Presto Bench was how it sounded to me. [Presto Hill's much-neglected Facebook page:]
I remember having a sled, with runners on it, and the runners were several inches below the sled, and held the sled above it.
I don't know what else to say about it.
We tied the sled to the car a time or two.
C: That sounds dangerous.
P: I think if you're going slow enough it isn't dangerous.
Oh, I don't think it was that dangerous.
My dad wasn't reckless or anything. I mean, it was country roads and stuff.
I mean, one of the things we would do is hang on to the bumper, and slide along on our shoes.
C: Oh dad! I'm glad you're still alive!
P: I don't think it was that dangerous. I mean, I don't think he ever got out of second gear, maybe not even first. I mean, what was he going to do, back up and run over you? You were already on the ground-- it wasn't like it was that far to fall.
C: Did you do this on your family car, or other peoples' cars, too?
P: Oh, just family car.
Oh, I think maybe my brothers did others' cars, too. I think wasn't uncommon to see a car coming and latch on and sled for a while.
C: Did you build snowmen?
P: Yeah, and snow forts. Well, I remember when we had a big heavy snowstorm, the wind would come along and pack it, and I could walk along and it would be thick enough I wouldn't break through. And sometimes I could dig under it, and at least when I was small, I could have walked on it. I mean, we would build snow caves. We probably only did it when we was small-- probably only did it once or twice.

N.B.: This isn't an exact transcript. I type pretty fast, but not quite as fast as my dad talks, and I've found that interrupting him to catch up often means that I loose the end of a story. I WILL find that voice recorder--eventually-- and in the mean time, if you want the original transcript instead of the cleaned-up one with my best reconstruction of the conversation as I recall, just email me and it's done.

NB II: The pictures are from the Graphics Fairy. I have NO IDEA whether/how much they resemble the things they are meant to illustrate. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Watching in the Hour of Death

My grandmother, Tommy Leota Greenhaw, passed away this last November. All of her children and grandchildren were able to come out to be with her in her final days; the last time she was conscious, we were all (but one) in the room with her. At that point it was past two in the morning, and some of us had been traveling since mid-morning the previous day. Since predicting the hour of death is not an exact science, all of the gathered children and all but three of the grandchildren went back to their respective homes and hotel rooms to rest after she drifted off that last time. I and my two youngest sisters stayed at the hospital.

After that, Ivy and Day stayed in the room while I slept in the hall on one of those hospital recliners-- they aren't quite as comfortable as the overstuffed ones that a lot of homes have, but it sure as heck beat leaning my head against the wall while sitting on a metal folding chair, which was what I had been doing before one of the nurses offered to bring the recliner out.

At around six in the morning, Ivy came out and told me Grandma had stopped breathing.

I went into her room again, and saw that it was true. The three of us just stood there, chatting for a bit. Grandma's mouth was hanging open, as it often did when she slept, but of course trying to close it (which I foolishly did) did no good. There was a feeling in that room-- to me; you'd have to check with my sisters-- of relief, of happiness and even joy. After those first few moments, we pulled out our respective cell phones and started figuring out who had whose contact information, and started trying to get the news out.

Because both my older and my just-younger sister were pregnant at that time, they especially needed to be careful about pushing their bodies too hard. It was about an hour before everyone made it out to the hospital again. Klari took a beautiful photograph of the sunrise as they were driving out-- I've written to ask her to send a copy, so I may update this post with it later on. (Update: I got it!) Both babies have been born now; both were preemies; and both are now home from the hospital and doing mostly OK. It has been kind of a stressful year for our extended family.
Throughout that night-- the part of it when I was actually or sometimes just ostensibly sleeping-- I would periodically poke my head up and look over my shoulder, out the huge window at the end of the hall. There was this weird purplish light that kept faking me out into thinking that it might be the dawn, but it never was-- it was just an exterior light at the hospital, lighting up the steam from some exhaust vent and the wall behind it. After I came out of Grandma's room, after she died, I looked again, and then I could see that it was the REAL dawn, and it seemed like one of the most glorious I had ever seen.

This is the funny thing about death. It is pretty strange, and sometimes awful, but somehow along with those things, there can be parts that are glorious and redemptive and even funny. The only funeral I've ever been to that was truly depressing was a suicide funeral. Now, I readily admit that this is probably a function of the fact that of the 20 or so funerals I've been to, all but one were Mormon funerals*, but if you look at other cultures, you can often find at least hints of this brighter view of death there, too. (OK, in the case of the Day of the Dead, definitely more than hints.) What I have discovered over time is that the more experience I have with the dead, the less scary the whole thing becomes.

Anyway, that's why I volunteered to dress my grandmother's body for burial. There was a part of me that felt hesitant, but I was pretty sure I would be glad I had done it, and I was right. But that's a different story for a different day.

The photograph of Grandma-- sorry for the poor quality, but I really wanted to put some sort of illustration up-- is one I took just now of a print from several years ago, when Grandma came out to visit, and she and Mom visited Colonial Williamsburg together. To me, this is classic Grandma: she LOVED guided tours. I remember driving from Alabama to California with her and my older sister (who was then not yet Mrs. Weathercolour) in six days, and Grandma naturally assumed that we were going to stop both at the Petrified Forest (in New Mexico) and at Yosemite National Park, in California. And since it was her car and she did most of the driving, that is what we did. At the time, I thought it was a little weird to take the hours out of such a busy traveling schedule to visit places that I hardly knew about and didn't really care about-- but now I feel deeply grateful to have had the opportunity.

This last photograph is of the Sacramento River at sunset, taken from the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay. When I was out visiting Grandma for about a month-- mm-- seven years ago?-- she kept saying that we should make it out there, but we never did during that visit. I finally made it out on the very day I left California this last time. She was right again-- it was definitely worth the visit.

I will try to write more about Grandma herself later-- I realize this isn't much-- but I wanted to get this much up while it was still relatively fresh in my memory. I feel lucky/grateful/blessed that my youngest sister had come out about a week before Grandma died, when things were looking pretty serious, and that she talked to and especially listened to Grandma about what she wanted. It was my sister's listening and then advocacy that had us all there with Grandma, as Grandma wished, just before she died. It was, as I told that same sister this morning about something else, an honor to be asked and a privilege to do.

*Mormon funerals tend to be a little bit solemn but in general relatively cheerful and often quite uplifting. If you've never been to one, I strongly encourage you to go if you can-- crash one, if you feel brave enough. (I don't think anyone would mind, frankly. There are seldom complaints from any faith-- or even non-faith-- tradition about there being too many mourners at a funeral.) At the best funerals, I will usually both laugh and cry. Yes, I have opinions about funerals-- you would too, if you'd been to as many as I have. And now, to prevent this from becoming its own blog-post-within-a-blog-post, I will stop.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Papa Hauling Hay

(The hay photograph is by David Shankbone. I got it through Wikipedia.)

I tried to begin writing about how my dad used to haul hay with his dad, and sometimes his brothers (I inferred...), and realized I had a lot of questions. I tried to ask the internet for the details I was missing, but it was kind of slow going, and finally I thought: wait. Dad is very sick, but he isn't dead yet. In fact, he is in the hospital at this very moment, which means that a) he might appreciate the company of a phone call more than usual, and b) the phone he has available can be answered by just picking it up. (Mom thought that maybe the reason that he has not been answering my calls of late is because he has forgotten how to answer his cell phone.)

Anyway, this is a rough transcript of our conversation. I typed as we talked; occasionally I would say "wait!" so that I could finish typing what he had just said. I also went over it afterwards to correct what grammatical/other errors I could find, and to add in bits that came to mind.

C stands for Cornelia; P stands for Papa; and I've set editorial comments off in parenthesis without a letter in front of them.  Also, the events in this story happened in and around Blackfoot, Idaho, USA.

C: What kinds of plants made up the hay were you baling?
P: We didn't bale hay. Usually what we were hauling was alfalfa hay. I don't remember ever baling hay.

(He kept repeating that they never baled hay. I regretted my ignorance in using the wrong word, but after this conversation, I will surely never get the two mixed up again.)

C: What kinds of animals was the hay grown for?
P: Horses or cows ate it.

C: How long did the season last? early summer to maybe early fall?
P: Yeah, early summer to even later.
C: So, mid-fall?
P: Yeah. We would get a call that they were ready for us to come haul it. It would depend. I mean, it would keep-- I don't even remember-- a long time in the field. The bales would [last a long time].

C: I'm glad you're talking slow, because I don't type that fast.
(He laughs.)

C: What kind of trucks did you use?
P: Generally a dodge, flatbed truck, fairly large-- I don't know how to describe how big it was. I recall we sometimes we got 200 bales of hay on it. 150, 200 bales, something like that.

(You may notice, as I did, that here he says that they could get 200 bales of hay on a truck, and then later on he says that they could haul 200 bales in a day, in seven or eight trips. However, he kept begging that he couldn't remember clearly, since it had been so long; he was aware that maybe his guesstimates were off. Perhaps tomorrow I shall detective-ize by calling an uncle or two on the telephone, since our foot of snow (in Maryland!) means that I won't be stirring from my home without a snow shovel in hand-- and, unsurprisingly, church has been cancelled.)

C: How big was a bale? How many feet by how many feet?
P: A foot and a half by three feet long, maybe 100, 150, maybe 200 pounds. I don't know how accurate that is; it's been a lot of years since we did that.

C: Was the truck like one of those old-fashioned, round trucks?
P: The cab was generally like a pickup cab. You could probably visit a place that sells trucks and look at one, and it would be pretty similar.

C: You were in High School when you did this, mostly? College?
P: Well, all through. When T L came up-- you remember that story?

(There is a pause so I can catch up with typing. When it is over, he has clearly forgotten about the T L thread, which is 100% OK with me, because that is a totally different story-- which I will try to get down at a different day, but today I want the basic hauling hay story.)

P: I remember, Dodge seemed to be our favorite truck. I think Dodge kind of built for farmers.

C: Was it your family's truck that you took?
P: Dad had one. Although when we went out to work for Glen Talley, as I recall, he had a truck we would use. He had a farm, and he liked to hire Dad to do it, 'cause he knew Dad would do a good job. We would haul between 100 and 200 bales of hay in a day. I remember hauling for him quite a bit. I know there were other farmers, but I don't remember them as well.

(We worked for a bit to correct the spelling of Glen Talley's name, but he wasn't sure he had gotten it right-- this is something I will try to remember to check with one or more of my uncles. Later note: I found him on a fellow by this exact name, born in 1915, died in 2006 in Blackfoot, which seems likely enough for me. Long-time readers will remember that I use pseudonyms or the second letter of the name for living persons, but use the full, correct names of the dead.)

P: I remember we would get seven or eight loads in a day. You know, somewhere between 100 and 200 bales. I don't remember-- it's been a loong time. We would push it; a couple of reasons. One is, it's less boring to push it. I was impressed with how much my dad could do. I would watch him get a bale of hay and stretch out the whole length of his body to get it on top of the truck. When you're working hard, the time goes faster.

We'd set up a pattern. Like, I'd go three bales wide, and six bales long, and we'd set it up so they would be made to support each other. So, maybe three of them wide on the first layer, the long way and the second layer, we would interlock it so they would hold on better. You know what I mean?

C: Yes, because I used to play with Legos.

P: Yeah, it was like that.

And we would know about how many loads we could do. So I knew just about how long it would take to get number of bales done in the day.

C: You would work with your dad. Were your brothers there?
P: I remember working with Leigh. I don't remember working with A or Charlie or Lloyd. I do remember taking E and A and Y with me at different times. I remember taking-- I think it was just
Y, and being impressed with what we could haul. I do remember that the thing was, the faster you worked, not only the more you got done, but the faster the time went by.

Usually what we had was an old Dodge truck.

C: Was the bed made of wood?
P: I don't remember.
C: Were the sides made of metal?
P: It was a flat bed. There were slots so you could build sides, but I don't remember ever doing it. I do remember being impressed with the kind of work my dad could do.

C: So, it was mostly farmers calling you up?
P: Or, Dad would go to them and work out a deal. Remember the story about him going with Mom down to Pocatello?*
C: Yes.
P: He wasn't a real salesman or anything, he just worked hard and knew a lot of people, and they appreciated having someone willing to come out with his sons and do a good job for them.

Well, that's where I learned to swim-- we'd come back from hauling hay, and we'd go swimming. At the Blackfoot pool that they'd just built, I'd take a shower, and we'd go swim.

It seems like I hauled hay with Y quite a bit, but I don't remember. You could call him.

C: Yes, I think I should.

*The story: Mom (a.k.a. Nana) rode with my Grandpa, Papa's dad, from Blackfoot (Idaho, USA) to Pocatello (also Idaho, USA) one time, and for every single house they passed, he told her a story about the people who lived there. There are just over twenty miles between Blackfoot and Pocatello, and to be honest, even in 2015, there aren't tons of houses along that stretch of road-- but I nevertheless find myself impressed. Also, it seems that I come by my love of stories honestly. ;)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Maude Greenhaw: lost (or misunderstood), then found

I was at my BFF's, poking around my family tree (she's a family history fiend) and we were merging a record-- or something; she was showing me how, and I was doing what she said to, but not necessarily following everything. Anyway, we found a census record showing a Maude Greenhaw in this family, aged five, in 1900. The family record only showed her as having been born, then died only a few days later, in 1903.

Now, I know enough to be aware that sometimes families would name a child after an earlier one who had died; but this seemed... odd. So we looked at her death record, which was a death certificate uploaded to find-a-grave. Lo and behold, she died and was buried a few days apart in 1903; but her age at the time of death was eight years and twenty-four days!

So I corrected the record in FamilySearch, and I put in notes about why it had been one way and why I was pretty sure it should be the other way; and, through the magic of computers and the internet, I reserved the privilege of being baptized for and in behalf of my great-great-aunt (if I counted that right).

As a Mormon, my belief is that children who die before the age of eight go straight back to their Heavenly Father, no questions asked; they aren't old enough to make their own meaningful choices, and the Atonement of Christ automatically covers them. At eight years and twenty-four days, however, Maude was old enough to have understood and accepted the covenant of baptism-- a choice she would need to make in order to be accepted into the Kingdom of God, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus. By being baptized for an in behalf of her, I didn't force her to accept that baptism; I just gave her the opportunity to accept it. This is very similar to how the Atonement of Jesus Christ gives us the option to repent, but does not force us to.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Clouds on the ground

It was a gloriously eerie, foggy day, and I spent about an hour taking pictures-- but once I downloaded them, I found that they weren't quite as wonderful as I had thought.
Still, they aren't so terrible that I have to keep them back. Some turned out not as bad.
For some reason, I like this crooked one a lot. I wish I were better at noticing these little things as I was taking the pictures.

This was a random bush in the parking lot, which the fog made look AMAZING.  Or, so I thought.