Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I need to play catch-up, I know... But some project always jumps into my lap before I've settled into my seat in front of the computer, and I have to get right back up and take care of it. And so my little blog sits, neglected and forlorn.

But here I am! And am I using this blue-moon moment to catch up? Of course not! Because I'm Charity. And I'm a little bit ridiculous!

But there are just a few things from this past month that have really filled me with delight. And I thought it only appropriate, at this time of year when we seek out delightful things, to suggest them to all six of you that read my blog. :) Go check 'em out--any of 'em--and I can (almost) promise that wonder and delight will ensue....

And so here, in no particular order, are my endorsements for the month... and the year.... and (because a few of them are so lovely to me) the span of a lifetime....

 The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente

Okay, if the name and the cover alone don't make you want to pick this book up and read it (well, then you're strange!)... Then the writing absolutely will! This was my first exposure to Catherynne M. Valente's work, and I was immediately smitten! It is beautiful and lyrical and whimsical and fun and deep, all at the same time. It is a fun and fantastical adventure, and yet it pulls you--the characters have depth, there is something at stake, and you love the characters. As soon as I finished this book, I recommended it to everyone! And I went in search of the author's other works as well. I bought The Habitation of the Blessed on a whim, simply because it was hers...I was not disappointed. That one, an adult book rather than YA lit, was just as beautiful, infinitely deep. Ah! She is like the female fantasy version of Ray Bradbury!

 And this little baby came out in September, and I've been holding off--I'm getting both for Christmas, so I'm waiting to read the first one again before I read this second one. But my heart is a-flutter to continue the adventure!

Catherynne M. Valente--Go read her stuff. She has something to say.

Oh, what can I say?! You know that scene in BIG, where he goes to FAO Shwartz and it's like a life-sized Candyland to play in? Or in Home Alone 2?
Well, Blickenstaff's is kinda like that...that sense of being in toy heaven... but with the intimate cozy feeling of The Shop Around the Corner. We walked in, and my kiddos were instantly enthralled! Coco went running around, collecting all the giant stuffed animals he could get his hands on, setting them up in a circle and showing us his "friends."

Our Bear, on the other hand, never left the front of the store. Right when you walked in, just ten feet from the doors, was a small wooden dollhouse, full of furniture and those tender little Calico Critter families (which I remember so fondly because my sister owned a bunch of them twenty years ago now). Well, as soon as she saw that house, that was that. For the hour that we played in the store, she never left that spot, never even looked to see if we were still there (though we kept our eyes on her, of course). Totally, blissfully oblivious!

And my honey and I were kids again... We played with all the wind-up toys and the old-school knick knacks. We had to pick up everything we saw and show it to the other, with comments like, "Wouldn't this be perfect for..." "We really need this because..." Oh, if Willy Wonka were a toymaker.... Anyway, I think Santa will be stuffing our stocking with Blickenstaff's! And if you want to check out their delightsome selections yourself, go and visit! And if you don't live in Utah, go to Blickenstaffs.com. You won't be disappointed! You'll be a giddy schoolgirl/boy, for crying out loud!


Well, this movie's been around our house for a few years now. Another instant love.... I knew we were destined to be soulmates before I even saw the movie. How could I possibly know? Well, put together two of my favorite people--Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick--and how could it not be complete and utter obsession?! And it was! First of all, for those of you who haven't read the book, read it! Yes, you can even read it right before you watch the movie, and it will not ruin either for you. Yep, it's that good! The story has my favorite kind of otherworldly, fun but macabre feel to it; and the movie mimics that feeling perfectly. The music is superb. The voices are spot on... and that Coraline! What a little spitfire! Really, one of the most wonderfully realized animated (it counts as an animated film, right) characters ever, in my opinion. A favorite of mine and Coco's and my sister's, it's sure to be a classic!

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Since we're on the topic of stop-animation films, here's another beauty! This one's rougher, simpler in its creation, and it's still totally.... well, fantastic! You just can't go wrong with Wes Anderson anyway. And this, his first foray into animated films, still captures all the genius that his movies do. It's fun and quirky and light and deep and rich and layered and funny. It entertains kids and adults alike, and on both levels. Really a treasure, this one! You've got to give it a chance sometime!

And yes, Cherry Sours! 

Random, I know, but I discovered these little beauties over the summer, when I needed a good road trip candy. Oh man! Instant addiction! These are the perfect candy, I've decided... just the right amount of tartness, soft and chewy, melt in your mouth. Oh boy, this is making me want to drive off to the store just to pick some up. I have to be oh-so-careful with how often I allow myself to buy these because once the bag is opened, it is eaten almost entirely by yours truly. I try to save one or two for my honey and the kiddos, but I can't ever guarantee they'll get them. Like a little taste of perfection on your tongue! And a whole lot less guilt than a bag of chocolate peanuts.

A Christmas Carol

And finally, because it is Christmastime, you should all pull out your bent and dusty copy of A Christmas Carol. Yes, I'm talking about the book. It's small enough that it only takes a couple of hours of your entire month, and yet it's the perfect way to really get yourself into the holiday season--into the mankind-loving, serving, blessing-acknowledging, basking side of the season. Which, let's be honest, is the very best part! So go read it! And then, yes, go watch the movie--and really, there are so many lovely versions out there! My preferred version is, of course, A Muppet Christmas Carol (which also happens to be my all-time favorite Christmas movie)... Michael Caine never disappoints; really great music; the quintessential Santa character, in my opinion (I'm sure you that have seen it know to whom I am referring); and, obviously, the Muppets, who I just really adore! My December is not complete without it. And actually, I usually save it till Christmas Eve--it's that tender for me! But if you're not a Muppet fan, well, you're crazy, first of all. :) But then go find another version. We were actually really impressed with the Disney one from a couple years ago--you know, that one with Jim Carrey that didn't get spectacular reviews....It's spot-on with the novel; and yes, though a little dark for kids, it still teaches the message wonderfully. Even Mickey's Christmas Carol is tender and heartfelt, all 25 minutes of it! Just get out there and find one, and bask in what it truly means to "keep Christmas well." Then go do it! 

Happy Christmas, one and all! Go pick up a good book, or watch a good movie, or listen to a good album, and enjoy the season! Before you know it, you'll be taking your tree back down, and the magic will be over. So savor it! I certainly will be!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I do not think the world will end in apocalypse.
I do not think it will magically become Utopia.

I do not believe one man is guilty of all the country's problems.
I do not believe one man can solve all the country's problems.

I believe we have a good system.

Not a perfect one.
A good one.
One I am grateful for.
And that I hope I never take for granted.

Whether or not I love my current leader.
And did or didn't vote for him.
Or his current policies.
Or the policies put into place by the next one.
Or the next.

I am an optimistic realist.
I think things can always get worse.
And probably will.

But wonderful things are happening too.

I choose not to believe that any of my leaders are all good... or all bad.

They are striving.
We are striving.
Even if that striving shows itself in many different forms and credos.

It is, overall, a good striving.
And nobody is perfect.
And we are all citizens of the same country.

And I think, no matter the outcome, we can all be civil.
And do our part:
Study the issues, vote our conscience.
Disagree like respectful adults.
(Isn't the system set up so that disagreement is healthy?)

And then accept the outcome--whichever side we're on--with grace.
Like respectful adults.

And love each other.
And do a good deed every day.
And appreciate our country.
And be happy.
And not worry.

I didn't see any zombies out my window today.... did you?

(....And that's about as publicly political as I get, Ladies and Gentlemen.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Family Reunions

Well, it was the year for reunions, apparently! We hit three of them, and we missed two others... Five! Five reunions in the same year. And you know what? I was a little bummed to miss the other two, because I LOVE REUNIONS! I do! I have heard that they're not for every family, and that makes me kinda sad for those families. Our family reunions--on all sides--are just lovely and nostalgic and happy and hilarious and tender and really, really great. So this summer full of reunions brought us much joy! Can't wait to do them again in a couple of years. Hooray!

....Well, for some reason, I just can't get the slideshow to work today.... So here's a smattering of pics from the three reunions. What a blast!

Reunion 2012

Just click that title up there, and enjoy!

And some reunion highlights:
-LOTS and LOTS of water time--pools, lakes and beaches
-Having lots of cousins around for my chickens to hang with
-Family sing-alongs and solo performances
-Tubing behind a motorboat
-The "Nursing Tent" with my fellow cousin-mommies
-Running into smiling faces anywhere one turned
-Telling fairy tales to my son on an inner tube, and hearing him say, "I want another awesome story!"
-Delicious food and treats around campfires
-Staying up till all hours with my siblings
-White elephant exchanges
-Catnaps and mellow visiting time
-Being gathered in one place (or three consecutive places) with all of my greatest blessings around me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Girl is Two!!

 Yes, my BerMiss is two years old! And yes, that was back at the beginning of August, but I'm documenting it, at least. And that's what counts, right? A little hard to fathom, and a little bit amazing at how their growing-up seems to accelerate right before their second birthday--is it not so?? Curiouser.

So we had a little shindig here at the home. Invited a few friends and neighbors. The usual. Nothing big. She actually got excited about her gifts this time, since she actually understood what was happening. And she loved her cake and being sung to. Loved it! And every day the following week, she asked me to sing "Appydo" (which, being translated, is "Happy Birthday to You").

And she's definitely my girl--A girl through and through. Living proof that gender roles are not completely the result of nurture.... There's definitely nature in there, too, because I never taught her to cuddle dolls or accessorize with purses and hats or any of that! (Yes, I will take the blame for the bracelets--that was all me, I'm sure.) It's really a source of delight for Chad and me, when she steps into the room in whatever getup she's dug up from the corners of the house: bags, scripture cases, necklaces, my heels, Coren's snow boots, beanies, scarves, Coren's underwear.... you know, whatever's handy. She just isn't ready for the day without a few stylish accents....even if the accents make up the entire outfit.

And she's recently started quoting, something she's picked up from all three of us (yep, Coco's just as bad/good as his parents with the movie quotes). I suppose this is simply going to be a character trademark of the Chad Brooks family: Something happens, anything happens, and we inevitably have a quote for it. And Coren's really gotten quite clever with them. Risa's not there yet, but she has caught the quoting fever. And it's common to hear her walking through a room saying, "Muh. Muh! Cookie, cookie, cookie, cookie, cookie" (which is the Risa-tized version of Rango's first line in the film of the same name). Or she'll repeat the ape noises Tarzan makes when he's teaching Jane to say "Jane stay with Tarzan." Or sing snippets of songs from Dora or Diego. So fantastic!

She's our stone-faced stoic.... in public. It's rather a hilarious predicament, because everywhere we go--without fail--someone tries to engage her and is met with absolute aloofness. Never shyness--our girl isn't shy. It's almost like she lives on a higher plane and is unmoved by us mortals. She refuses to stoop to our level and actually reveal her emotions. The Gods forbid! A bizarre phenomenon, when at our home she is the melodramatic child, prone to diva-standard tantrums (not screaming fits, mind you, but a controlled and demonstrative display of sorrowful/infuriated/offended feelings) and an impressive array of goofball faces.
Always a good show, this one.

Now to some of her most recent favorites:

Food: watermelon, blueberries, pizza, ice cream, hot dogs, beans (black, kidney, pinto, etc), salad and applesauce

Songs: "Star Shining Brightly", "Frog", "Church" ("Here is the church...."), "Pumpkins"

Movies/Shows: "Yeehaw" (Toy Story, preferably one with Jessie), Dora the Explorer, My Little Pony, Ruby Gloom, Curious George, Leapfrog

She's still a water baby, all smiles in the pool or the bath. She loves to copy everything her brother does. And she holds her own when they get into their battles--a feisty one, this girl! And she's got the best mop of hair ever! 
Makes me want to sing "R-A-G-G-M-O-P-P, Rag Mop! Do de li do do do do!" Just like my dad sang to me as a little girl. Poor child--you will despise me for your hair until college, probably. And then you will make an uneasy peace with it. And then a boy you love will fall in love with it, and finally so will you. I apologize now for that. But trust me--your hair is a glory!

And she still has the most impressive thighs in the universe! How can you not love those??! Impossible to resist, I tell you! Impossible!

And she's still the girl that won me over to girls (of course). And the little buddy I can have tea parties and snuggle-time with. And the girl who brought the rain. My Risa. How you take my breath away!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Every Now and Again.....

(lucysnowephotography on etsy.com)

There are moments when I see mothers and daughters talking. About nothing in particular. Just sharing the day. Just the every day living part of the day. Just talking.

And I am startled by a deep ache for my mom. When she wasn't even on my mind a moment before. And suddenly I miss her so intensely.

I want that mother and daughter to be us. I want to talk to her about my day. Tell her every mundane, unimportant detail of the last twenty-four hours. And I want to see her sitting there, next to me, listening and interested. And not because what I have to say is interesting. But because I am her little girl and I am interesting to her.

And it isn't so much a pitiful whine for a maternal influence--I have wonderful stepmothers and mothers-in-law and even sisters that fill those maternal roles for me. I recognize the blessings I do have. I am thankful for them.

But sometimes it's the need to be needed by the woman who dreamed of me, bore me, raised me, loved me.

To be the center of a mother's universe for a few minutes again.

To feel like there is someone out there whose thoughts turn towards me simply because I am hers.

I watch that mother and daughter and think, Please, can I have that for just an hour? For a moment?


"Let Me Explain" Pt. 2

Coren got to go to a few days of preschool camp this summer--I am so glad we did this! It gave me a couple hours of break time, and (probably more importantly) it gave him a couple of hours of break time. Each day he came home with his crafts and his costume, grinning from ear to ear. And it made me happy, to see him so happy.

And whilst Big Brother got his fun, we girls partied in our own way. I gave my little girl her first tea party. We dressed up, had all kinds of fancy hors d'oeuvres (we're talking fancy--lil smokies, deviled eggs, the works! Ha!), and I even pulled out my old school strawberry dishes. She loved it, and it made me feel like a little girl again myself. Lovely!

We smattered the rest of the summer with all kinds of outdoor activities.... That was my goal this year, to help my kids take full advantage of the sun. And, you know, we didn't do half-bad, really.....

So here's to a beautiful summer... I really wish it wasn't nearing it's end just yet; I could go another three months, at least!

..... Although this little heart is starting to beat to that Halloween rhythm, so I guess all good things must come to an end.... to make way for other good things. And so we bid summer (not quite yet, but it's coming) a fond farewell....

"Let Me Explain....

No, there is too much. Let me sum up...."

This is going to be a quick photo summary of the last three months or so--I'm desperately behind on my Blog! I've kept a few events aside to treat a little more personally in the next few blogs... and really I'd like to be able to for all of these events, but I just haven't the time--or stamina--anymore. So shall we press on?....

My fancy brother-in-law, Todd, married his sweetheart, Christine--Yes, back in April! And what a festive day it was. They couldn't be more perfect for each other! They've spent all summer up in Alaska for work and fun. Can you think of a better way to spend your first few months together?! What an adventure! And every time I read Christine's blog, I just grin.... She is absolutely fantastic. Todd, you did good, Buddy Boy!

There was a carnival in town.... Yes, also way back in May, during Pony Express Days here in Eagle Mountain. We took the kids on Dollar Day--what a bang for our buck! We'll definitely be doing that again next year. They both got more than their fill of rides, and we didn't spend over twenty dollars. Loved it!

As you probably heard (yep, way back when), there was a solar eclipse.... Awesome! It was kinda eerie and cool to watch the skies darken, as if the sun were going down in the evening; and yet, there it was, high in the sky. And a friendly neighbor taught us the nifty little trick of watching the eclipse through a CD, so we got to watch it without going blind. (That's what you see in the second picture there--the view through the CD--amazing, no?!)

Grandma Brooks and I took the kiddos to Farm Country at Thanksgiving Point. They had a special Dairy Days weekend, and we thought, why not? Surprisingly, it was rather empty, so the kids really had their run of the place. They got to make their own butter to eat with the crackers provided (delish!). They played some animal round-up games. They walked through the petting zoo. And they got to make their own ice cream in a bag (also delish)! A success all around. And thank you, Grandma, for helping to rein them in!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It's 11:15 p.m...

I'm not asleep because Chad is not here--
My bed has no draw for me if my hubby is not there.

He's out with the scouts, which is where he should be.
So I'm glad.

But I am missing him...
This is our second consecutive week apart; I'm not that weak.

But almost.

So I stay up when he's gone. 
And think of a dozen mindless things to fill my time. 
And try not to think of my empty bed.

So until Saturday, Honey....

Thoughts of you warm my bones.

Good night.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Baby, You've Arrived!!

Oh, my Haakon Boy! How happy I am to have you here.... finally! You were certainly worth the wait! And now that you're a month old and already starting to do big things--smile, coo, hold your head up, etc--I should get your birth story down and your journal started. So here goes....

Like all my children, you were a week late. The beautiful thing about you, however, is that you came all by yourself! I didn't have to be induced--Hallelujah! Labor started sometime in the middle of the night. At first I thought I was dreaming about being in labor. But then the contractions started getting uncomfortable enough that each one would wake me up; I'd come up out of sleep, feel the peak, and then drift back into sleep. And then they were hard enough that there was no more sleeping. Hm, I thought, this is different. I waited another half hour to see if they'd go away. They stayed an even 4-5 minutes apart. So I woke up your dad. 

"Honey, I think I'm in labor."

"Really?" He sat up. "You think it's the real thing? How close are the contractions? Do you think we should get the kids up? Should we call Ciara?"

We timed the contractions for another forty-five minutes. Even and strong (quite strong). We decided that, yes, it was the real thing, and knowing my labors, we should probably get going soon or we'd be having you at home. So we grabbed our bags, buckled the sleepy kids in the van, and drove over to the Petersen's. The contractions were hard enough by now that I had to stop and breathe as each one peaked. When we got back in the van and on our way to the hospital, I began listening to my Hypnobabies tracks, trying to find a deep, calm place to go under. And it certainly relaxed me, but I was still feeling each pressure wave get stronger. 

We got into the hospital and into the natural birthing room, grateful that it was available this time around. Then, of course,the nurse went through all the paperwork and questions, etc, etc. And I started to get nervous, because now the contractions were moving farther apart. Still as strong as before, but about seven minutes apart now; and the nurse started talking about having to send me home. 

Home?! Not a chance, I thought. I am a week overdue, woman! A week! And this child is probably over ten pounds already! Just try sending me home! Try it--I dare you! 

She called my midwife, and they decided to come in and break my water to see if that would get things moving. And now I was nervous for another reason: I remembered how much harder the contractions were after they broke my water with Risa--a day and night difference! And my hypnosis still wasn't softening or anesthetizing any of the pain of the contractions. But well, there it was. Either I went or the water amniotic sac went.... It was NOT going to be me! So we waited for the midwife to show up. She came in--Hallelujah #2: it was one of my two favorite midwives in the group of six! How lucky! Seeing Jen Krebs walk in the room sealed the deal--I was having a baby today! And I was having it with a midwife that I actually wanted! What could be better?

I'll tell you what could be better--laboring in a big, warm jacuzzi tub! And that's exactly where I went just as soon as Jen broke my water. She wanted me in there and leaning over the edge to try to turn you around--it appears that somewhere in the very last week of my pregnancy, you moved yourself around from the optimal position to sunny side up! Naughty!! So she helped me undress and sent me over to the giant laboring tub. Ahhh! How.... relaxing?? No, not by any means. I was in serious pain now. But how much more bearable it made each contraction. I was actually really surprised at just how much it eased the pain at the peak of each contraction.

For a while. And then even the warm weightlessness of the bath could no longer help me. I had to get out, I had to start moving around; no more sitting or kneeling or laying still for me. We were in serious GO mode! Each contraction made me clench my fists and whimper (I really wanted to scream and punch something; ah well). Now I was climbing all over Chad, trying not to lose control....funny how much less control I had this time around! Yikes! Pretty soon it was absolutely unbearable! Agonizing! Each pressure wave! And Jen was a hero again, pushing against my knees, showing Chad how as well, easing the blow each time. 

Then I started panicking, thinking about how Coren was sunny side up, and it took me over an hour to push him out! To do that again with you, this time without medication?? No, no, no, no, no! I was not pushing a bowling ball through my lady parts for a whole hour without an epidural. I was definitely starting to panic. I told Chad that I wanted an epidural. 

"Well, Honey, if you're asking for it, that probably means that you're in transition. You're almost there!" 

"I know," I said. "But I can't push for an hour without medication. Please. I can't do it."

So Chad talked to Jen, and she was also reluctant. "If you're that close," she said, "you'll be done delivering your baby before the epidural kicks in. Let me check where you are." I was kneeling over the head of the bed, trying to moan through the pain, but I felt my equanimity very quickly ebbing away. She checked me and said, "Wow, okay, on your next wave, go ahead and push. You're there!" And really, she didn't even have to say it, because I felt that overwhelming urge on the very next one. It was time, and my body was automatically gearing up to push. I bore down; and with a quick twist of her hand she got you turned around. Just like that! Hooray for Jen!! Then she had me turn around and pull my knees up to my chest. I gave a couple more hard pushes, feeling with each one that I had nothing more to give. I was running out of energy so much faster this time around! What gives?! And I think I worried Chad a bit too--With Risa I silently bore through the whole thing. But with you, at the end there, I yelled a few times! It could not get over fast enough for me....

And it was fast! Four hours of labor, and seven minutes of pushing, and there you were! A big boy with the longest umbilical cord I've ever seen! Holy smokes! And you were gross and slimy and wrinkly and crying and absolutely beautiful! They pulled you out and handed you right to me--the first time I've ever been immediately handed my child. How amazing! To be exhausted and shaking, and yet to have the priceless result in my arms. So tender! So I held you for a few minutes; then it was time for me to finish laboring, and we both needed a good clean-up.

And an hour or so later, when everything was taken care of, and we were moved to our recovery room, and it was quiet and peaceful again, there we were: Dad and Mom and Baby. And we reveled again in those first few precious moments together, just the three of us. And how you took my breath away! All nine pounds, thirteen ounces of you! Your giant arms and hands and fingers. The length of you that shocked every nurse that looked after you (twenty-two inches!). The perfectness of everything about you. And that sweet just-come-into-the-world aura that surrounds you in those first days and weeks. You looked just exactly like Coren, which gave me a serious case of deja vu that first week of nursing. How happy we are that you're here, Haakon Joseph--Baby, you've arrived!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Things We Carried

The fire came in quietly. For me, anyway. I didn't realize it was there until Chad came home from work on Thursday night and made a harmless comment, an aside really... "It's funny how you don't think about how it would feel to lose your house in a fire until it's close to you."

I looked up from my word game, startled. "Is a fire close to us?"

"No. It's up over the hill. Not too close. I was just thinking about it."

And I went back to my game. And he went back to listening to his podcast. And we watched the kids climbing all over the playground. And that was that.

Until Friday morning, when I woke up to a phone call from a concerned aunt and a text from worried parents. "We heard Eagle Mountain is being evacuated. Do you have to leave? Do you have a place to go? Is your house safe?"

I was completely caught off guard. "Uh, I'm not actually sure." (Funny how you get out of touch with the news when you have no TV.) I jumped online and looked at the most recent updates from KSL and Eagle Mountain City's website. I called Chad to find out what he'd heard. And I peeked out the window. No flurries of activity. No clouds of smoke overhead--On the mountain, yes, but still miles from us, right?

Wrong. Saratoga Springs was evac'd. And the Eastern side of Eagle Mountain was leaving. Ciara called: "We're headed out. Keep us posted on what's going on with you guys." A mile away, and they were asked to leave. The fire was threatening us from a mile away.

And still it wasn't a serious threat for me. Not really. A mile and a main street away. It would take a fire indeed to reach us on the inside. "But it wouldn't hurt to pack up the most important things," Chad said. "Just to be prepared. Just in case." So I pulled a couple of empty bins out of the garage....

And then what? How does one begin packing for something like that? "Just in case the rest of our possessions burn down in our house, we should pack..." what? What can't I live without? What is absolutely irreplaceable?

It turns out, all the value of our lives fit into two bins. Two bins. Two bins that contained everything I would be devastated to lose. That I could never replace or recreate. Chad's journals--volumes of his recorded life. Valuable indeed, since I am notoriously bad at keeping a journal. My children's baby books. All of our family history books. The camera, of course, and the hard drive. Photo albums--the most recent ones, at least, with all the pictures of Risa that have mysteriously disappeared from our hard drive. All my writing journals and dream notebooks and poetry. All the vital documents, obviously. The two portraits of Momma, and the baby quilt with the stitched outline of her hand. And her letter to me, written just months before she died. Our ipod, with thousands of songs, representing decades of collected music. Coren's Money and Risa's Bebe. And Chad's and my letters and emails and cards and love notes to each other.

And that was it. Those were the things we carried. The things I could never have parted with. The things that will never be found in a store or online or on a flash drive somewhere. Strange how your mind can go into emergency mode like that, and you can whittle your life down to those few most basic, most cherished things. The rest melts away... Well, truth be told, it doesn't entirely melt away--I still would have been heartbroken to lose my shelves and shelves of books and my carefully assembled wardrobe. But there we were, left with two bins that told the essence of what/who we were.

Thankfully, we never had to escape with our two small bins. My shelves are standing, still loaded with books. My clothes are hanging in my closet. My house is clean and ash-free (and a good thing, too, because I still forgot a few things that I would have kicked myself for later--patriarchal blessings and Momma's wedding ring). All is quiet and calm and under control. But, for a few quiet hours, I got to search myself; I got to choose the things that I would carry. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In Memoriam

Yes, I know I am rather behind on my blog posts--there are still some events from April I need to post about (my little brother-in-law's lovely wedding); and some big events that have happened recently (i.e. my third child's entrance into the world). And I will get on those this week.

But today, today I am in mourning.

I just read about the passing of Ray Bradbury two days ago. Those of you who know me well know my undying love for the man, for his writing. He looked at language the way a composer looks at music (I imagine, anyway, not having any real ability to draw from when it comes to composing music). He builds his sentences to ebb and flow, to run together in musical rivers, every word chosen to fit into the harmony of the sentence. You don't really read his words, you sing them. I am captivated by every paragraph. Enthralled. In ecstasies. And yes, that sounds rather dramatic. But if you've read much of Mr. Bradbury (no, not just Fahrenheit 451), you understand. And you probably agree. Yes, I will be presumptuous and say you agree.

I actually didn't read Fahrenheit 451 until college; and quite frankly, though it is beautiful, it is not my favorite of his works. The first Bradbury book I read was Something Wicked This Way Comes. I was astounded! And I was addicted. I bought books and books of his collections of short stories. I read them over and over. There is one in particular--"The Burning Man"--Nothing happens in the story. Nothing. A boy and his mom pick up a hitchhiker, who drives along with them for a while. Absolutely nothing. And I still remember feeling haunted, a sinister sense of something coming..... He can do that with zero action. That story made me want to be a writer. That one story about nothing that gave me chills and left me wondering.

And I've pretty much read everything else since. I love The Martian Chronicles, the way he created the Martian landscape in a new way, different and lovely and melancholy. And The Halloween Tree and From The Dust Returned speak to my eerie side, but with a touch of grace only he could write just perfectly. I love Dandelion Wine, it's poignant tribute to summers as a child. And did you know he wrote every single day of his adult life?

And so I bid farewell to a literary giant. A man to whom I have always wanted to dedicate my own published work someday. A man that built my imagination, and fueled it, and matured it. To the creator of Martian worlds and haunted carnivals and malevolent planets and captured childhood perfections and regal family reunions of the dead..... etc. etc.

To a writer, the first to change me. To Ray.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

3. California

We took a trip to California--a very, very abbreviated trip, indeed! So we'll be going again in July for a longer period of time to see all those we wanted to see and couldn't possibly in the two days we were there.... or because they were in Taiwan for the week. :)

And because I'm days away from birthing this child (fingers crossed), and therefore feeling rather exhausted/lazy, I will just post some of the pictures from the trip. Sorry, I'll find my upswing sometime soon.... or maybe next month.... or July, possibly.

And Cali, oh Cali! Say what you will about it's overpopulation, traffic, living expenses, failing economy, etc.... It's still Sunny CA to me!