“Your rank is declining,” the Rocky Mountain Power Home Energy report said. Our rank: #92 of out 100 neighbors. [#1 is the most
efficient.] According to the report, we use 48% more electricity than our closest 100 neighbors which costs us about $436 extra per year.
The report caught my attention; its statistics a siren call for immediate change. However I have been totally unable to convey any sense of urgency to my family. I cannot, for love or money (and believe me, I have tried both) get my family members to turn off lights, shut down computers, or even close doors. When I come home from school, the house is lit up like a candelabrum on the eighth day of Hanukkah. My family turns off lights as often as Hislop men zip up their pants (which is NEVER unless they are reminded).
I cannot control the light switches in our home but I can control the thermostat. When I go to bed at night I turn the heater off. Off. It has been cold outside lately and our house has been pretty cold inside lately as well. This morning it was 53 degrees F when I got up. Lance does not complain about the cold, however. Though our bedroom is easily 5 degrees colder than the main rooms in the house (it was an addition and seems to have no insulation), he is not cold. The two down comforters on our bed are not enough to keep me warm in sub-50 degree sleeping quarters so I use him. Winter nights find me pegged to his side, warming myself in much the same way that victims of hypothermia reheat. Frigid
houses are not all bad.
Frigid college campuses are not all bad either.
Tuesday, at midnight plus one, Brandon Sanderson hosted a book signing for the final book in the Wheel of Time series. [It is a 13 book series originated by Robert Jordan. When Jordan died, Sanderson was asked to finish writing the fantasy saga.] Sunday hard core Wheel of Time aficionados gathered on the BYU campus to be counted. Those who got a number written on their hands Sunday afternoon and who spent the night OUTSIDE that night were given tickets Monday morning that guaranteed them a prime line location for the midnight book signing.
Chick, Tanah, and Lance are hard core Wheel of Time aficionados. Sunday afternoon the backs of their hands read 48, 49, and 50 and Sunday evening they bedded down on campus. At 2:15 a.m. the thermometer read 0 degrees F in Provo, UT.
Thanks to a LOT of help from friends and family, they survived the night. Chick slept in a tent borrowed from Hamilton Noel. Tanah slept under the stars on Marrissa Housley’s sleeping pad. Lance also slept out, but was on the foam pad I encouraged him to pack. Tammy Sheffield brought them breakfast and an open door invitation and Jeanna Nielson opened her home, shower, and refrigerator to them.
It was definitely a “life-is-the-stories-you-can-tell” event for the three of them. They played “Settlers of Catan” with other line dwellers (Lance won), , shared jokes comprehensible only to those who speak Wheel-of-Time-ese, participated in a
question/answer session the author and the wife of Robert Jordan, won door prizes (two backpacks) and met scores fascinating people, including the man who makes all the maps for Sanderson’s fantasy worlds. Of course the crowning event was the book signing, which happened shortly after midnight. They were home around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday and up again and headed for school by 6:30.
Thursday the temperatures warmed to above freezing (38 degrees F) for the first times in weeks. Snow, lots and lots of snow, accompanied the warmer air. The storm hit just before school let out Thursday and caused school closures across northern Utah on Friday, leaving 2 feet of snow on the valley floor and up to 5 feet on the benches. Yards of new snow blanket the mountain slopes.
I drove from OPA (my school) to SAA (Grace’s school) during the storm, hoping to see her play basketball. The 16 mile drive took me 92 minutes; even on the interstate, I did not go over 20 mph. I saw the last 2 minutes and 11 seconds of the game. (SAA won.)
The storms are gone and so are the warmer temperatures. It is 2 degrees F outside right now.
However, I expect to encounter warmer (MUCH warmer) temperatures soon (VERY soon). Do not expect a post from
me next Sunday as Lance and I will be in Costa Rica. Thanks to a generous grant from the Daniel Young Parkinson Foundation, Lance and I will board the plane (the SAME plane) at 12:05 a.m. Tuesday and will not return until 11:57 p.m. the next Tuesday. WHAAA-WHOOO!
P.S. I am NOT taking War and Peace on this trip to Costa Rica.
30 December 2012
“We could be home right now watching T.V. like a normal family,” Tanah said to me.
“We are not normal,” was my response.
“No, Mother,” she said, her blue eyes drilling mine across the six inch gap that separated our faces. Pushing firmly on my nose with her index finger, she continued, “You are not normal. We could be normal very easily.”
I guess most people would consider her feelings normal. At the time of her declaration we were outside; it was 6:30 p.m. and completely dark with temperatures hovering around 170 F. We had been on Antelope Island for an hour or so, hiking uphill through calf-deep snow.
"FULL MOON WALK. See the last full moon of the year! Join Antelope Island’s Park Naturalist for a 3 mile, semi-strenuous hike to Dooley Peak. Bring flashlights and water” the newspaper announcement read. The children liked the idea when I pitched it to them the Saturday previous but things definitely changed in-situ. Miles cried about cold toes and nose; Chick complained about I’m not sure what but his complaints were loud and vehement; Tanah’s conversation is recorded above; Grace, bless her heart, repeatedly told me how fabulous she though the experience was.
It took our group of 15 or so about two hours to reach Dooley Peak, Antelope Island’s second highest point. Wendi, the Park Naturalist, stopped us at the base of the large boulders that formed the top and said, “This is it. You can continue to the very top if you want but this is certainly good enough. We will be able to see the moon clearly from here.”
She was wrong on both counts. A serious cloud bank hid the moon for another hour or so; we did not see the moon clearly (or dimly) from there. And, stopping there was not “good enough”. I watched
with mild surprise as my oldest three passed the naturalist and made their way to the top. I watched with
total incredulity as my whining, crying, I-hate-this, I-want-to-go-home-this-instant, nine year old son scrambled past Wendi on his way to the top.
There must have been something in the air; their attitudes changed radically with the altitude. Complaints and criticism ceased; snappiness and sharpness stopped. They laughed and chatted their way around and over the boulders on the peak and continued contentedly all the way down the mountain and to the
cars. Back in the car (9:00 p.m.), all four children thanked me sincerely for taking them on the hike; it was “so fun”.
On the way home Miles said, “I noticed something Mom. When I had a bad attitude my toes and nose were freezing and I felt horrible. When I had a good attitude my toes and nose did not bother me at all and
I felt great.” He taught himself a great lesson. Will he remember that lesson on the next taxing hike? And if he doesn’t remember it, will reminding him of it be beneficial? Hum…..
FUN FACTS: The full moon in every month has a name. December’s full moon has two names. It is called the “Long Night Moon” because December’s nights are the longest nights of the year and December’s full moon spends the longest time in the sky. It is also called the “Cold Moon” for reasons my children can explain to
you. Also, when a flashlight is shined directly into the eyes of an animal and the eyes appear yellow, it is probably a badger; if they are yellow-green, it is probably a coyote; if they are green, bobcat; white, deer.
In all honesty, I so did NOT want to go on the “Full Moon” hike (a normal feeling) but feigned enthusiasm precisely because I do not want to be normal. I was in the exactly the same position earlier in the week.
Wednesday’s snow storm brought the snow level to almost 12 inches and Thursday brought clear skies. I knew it was time to go sledding. “Why do I do this?” I questioned as I orchestrated the gathering of sleds, finding of gloves, fitting of boots, and zipping of coats and fought my teen’s
“Why do I do this?” I wondered as I thought about all the extra work I was causing myself—gathering all the winter gear before going and drying it all and putting it all away after sledding. “Why do I do this?” I
queried as I thought about tasks still occupying my to-do list. “Why do I do this?” I asked Lance. Completely NON-enthusiastic about the adventure himself, he could not give me a good reason.
On my first slide down the hill I knew exactly why I did it; sledding is SO fun! “Sledding downhill is fun to do, fun to do, fun to do. Sledding downhill is fun to do, to do, to do, to do!” And it is fun for the whole family. Grace, Tanah, and Miles laughed up and down the hill. I trudged up the hill and screamed down it. Zorro (the dog) raced with the sleds down the hill and then pulled the girls’ sleds up the hills. [They tied their sled ropes to his collar giving a new meaning to the term “sled dog”.] Even Chick, who reluctantly promised me he would sled once before retreating to the car to read his book, enjoyed himself; he spent nearly an hour on the slope before turning
to car and book.
We’ve had a great time post-Christmas: bowling with Miles for his birthday; Tanah, Chick and I getting our food handler’s permits; family movie matinees (“The Hobbit” and “Rise of the Guardians”), sledding, hiking… We also had great time before and during Christmas.
John Malan began watching for his secret Santa in the evenings so I began delivering his gift early in the morning. Christmas Eve, on my way back from delivering John’s gift, I backed into my normal spot in the driveway. Sadly, Lance’s truck was not parked in its normal spot; it was parked in my normal spot. SMASH! Two autos cannot occupy the same spot at the same time. [See laws of physics.]
“I think I’ve found a way to make Zorro more annoying,”Tanah said. Impossible, we
thought. Possible, we discovered. She attached a silver bell to his collar so everywhere he went, he jingled.
Chick gave me multiple coupons for my birthday, one of which read, “Go for one long run when you want to get me out of the house.” Christmas Eve I cashed the coupon, more because I wanted him to exercise than because I wanted to get rid of him, but the outcome was the same. Sadly for him, I sentenced him to a six mile loop at the same time that 25 mph winds were delivering sleet and snow. At the end of his run he entered the house white (snow) and red (mad). “I had to run 2 miles into the storm,” he fumed, “I could not see a thing so I ran into three cars and a fence.” Three cars and a fence? I was laughing too hard to ask for details.
We visited our dearly beloved former neighbor, Mrs. Wempe, to deliver her annual loaf of zucchini bread. While there she told us now she had fainted at Wal-Mart recently. “I was so disgusted,” she said. “I threw up!! I have only fainted twice in my life and both times I have thrown up. It makes me SO mad!! Throwing up ruins all the romance of fainting!!” Romance of fainting?
On the last day of school, Lance passed several of his colleagues practicing the number they would be performinin the afternoon’s Christmas concert. When he teased them about using their talent to make blatant his lack thereof, they invited him to join their band.
They were the concert’s finale, playing the lastand most magnificent piece. The other (truly talented) members of the band did a fabulous job. One played bass guitar in a rock band for 15 years; another was a concert violinist; the third and fourth, accomplished pianist and cellist. The music was amazing. During the entire performance, Lance stood stock still, posed dramatically, waiting for his moment. The crescendo came and then as the music began to fade, Lance’s moment came as well. On cue, he hit his single note….on the triangle. The crowd went wild! Clapping, calls, whistles, cheers! Jumping to their feet, theygave the band a standing ovation. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Grace gave Lance a triangle for Christmas so that he could begin practicing for his solo career.
Let’s chat a bit about this “normal” thing….. Is anyone really normal? Everywhere I go, I
see examples of extra ordinary people. Take Jeanna Nielson for example. We attended Lance’s father’s aunt’s funeral last week and saw her there. In a matter of minutes she truly made me feel like a million bucks. She did the same for Lance and Chick and Dianne and Jill and Katie. “That is the way Jeanna is, “ Jill summarized. Yes it
is. Jeanna is a maker of million-buck-feelings.
Linda, Lance’s aunt, is another extra-ordinary person. Responding to the Connecticut killings in Christ’s way, she has started and is determined to complete 26 random acts of kindness, one for each individual killed in Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14, 2012. Responding to violence with love; that is not “normal”.
“I am a child of God” is the 2013 Primary theme. We are children of God, all of us. And, as such, we are not “normal”, none of us. The scriptures tell us that we are created in God’s likeness and image (Moses 2:26): LIKENESS and IMAGE.
To be created in His image means that our physical form is like His. Example: Lance is the “spittin’ image” of his
father; he looks just like him. We are created in God’s image.
We are also created in his likeness. We have divine DNA, so to speak, and we can be like our Father in Heaven. Example: Lance is just like his father in many ways; both are honest, intelligent men who treat their wives with reverence and respect. We are created in God’s likeness. Like Him, we can be loving and compassionate, righteous and wise, builders of men and powerful in doing good.
We, as God’s children, are not normal; we are all extra-ordinary. C.S. Lewis said that if we could see our neighbors as God sees them, we would be tempted to kneel and worship them. (The Weight of Glory). No, Tanah, you could not easily be normal!!!
Full quote: “It is a serious
thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the
dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which
,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror
and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day
long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these
destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with
the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our
dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations,
cultures, arts, civilizations - These are mortal, and their life is to ours as
the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry,
snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
― C.S. Lewis,The Weight of