Friday, December 29, 2006

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

I read a translation of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" last night (Gads! I cannot remember the author's name, he won a Pulitzer and resides in Hawaii) and I want to recommend it to anyone who reads my tiny blog.

The reading goes quickly even though the style is archaic, and it provides a wonderful snapshot into the past. Gawain is actually one of four short poems attributed to "The Pearl Poet", an unknown possible cleric from the 14th century. He offers insights into the chivalric and daily mundane, a view into the old world and a moment of wreathed beauty and savagery twined together in an Aurthurian tale. It begins at Camelot and drags poor noble Gawain on a search for the Green Chapel in order to honorably keep his word. I will not tell more in order to keep it unspoiled (on the chance that you read the poem), but the Green Knight just might be Merlin (I side with the author on this one).

My words are weak here today, but the story is a metaphor for the stories of our own lives--a common theme we humans share--of virtue in a non-virtuous world, of trials and a testing effort to prove one's worth.

If you have an hour or two and want to read something out of the ordinary, pick up the book. You won't be dissaponted. You just may be mildly surprised (as I was) and find yourself wanting more when the tale is finished.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Whirlwind of a day!

Yesterday was the big dance, the whole enchilada, whole the ball of wax, the hot potato.

It started with my littlest waking up at 5 with a poopy diaper and a grump grump grump. She'd had enough of sleeping in a strange crib in a strange room. We were all tucked away in one of the spare bedrooms at Lynn and Karols, and vainly struggling to dream about dancing sugarplums, but in the end awoke to run to get medicine from home for Maddy and finally open presents.

What a great Christmas morning! Maddy and Griff were both so excited about every present being unwrapped, regardless of who it was for. They kept cheering and walking about the wrapping paper strewn floor to check out the loot. The older cousins were preoccupied with these fun tricycle/skateboard contraptions, and Melissa kept on saying how surprised she was and how much of a great job I did with her gifts. :)

We went to Great Grandma Jensen's house in Ogden, and due to the early hour of rising, we even made it to her house at 10:30-ish. We were the first ones there and got to enjoy her, Cliff, Lois, Ranelle, and Luann all to ourselves for about an hour and a half. Grandma of course spoiled us again with her inheritance money (this woman has close to 60 relatives she gives $ to each Christmas and birthday), and she cried and told us all how much she loves us. This is yet another woman in my life who is just an incredible person. Kind, hard working, and giving--she's an example to me. My miniscule words here are just a tiny smudge on her great canvas of life, but she always feels the need to have her family belong in that painting. Again, incredible woman.

We drove home, both the kids and Melissa snoozing in their seats. I wished I was asleep, but drove on, drinking Diet Dr Pepper and thinking.

By the time we got home I felt like I was in a dream. I was so tired, I tried to lay down, but Hyrum wanted some attention. He and I tried to snuggle for a bit, but Hyrum is 9/10ths wiggle worm and that lasted about 2 minutes. Dan came up the stairs to give us a Christmas Present of Hickory Farms Smoked Salmon (YUM!) and some mustard & horseradish sauce. He left for Dave & Tomas and we meant to join him shortly. Melissa and I loaded up the car with the remaining presents and the chocolates she has been painstakingly making these past weeks, and then went to wake up Maddy form her nap. She was grumpy, and after we carried her tot he car and proceeded to buckle her in, she promptly threw up all over the place. I am not talking cute little baby spit up; this was chunky industrial grade nuclear waste. And to top it all off, it just gets me right in the old ticker whenever one of my kids is sick, especially as babies. They don't know what the heck is going on, they are hurting, crying, messy, and the stuff is so smelly. I grabbed her from the car seat and carried her inside to the kitchen, she was all drippy and crying. Melissa and I rinsed her off in the sink, and then Mel whisked her off to the bathtub. I threw her clothes into the wash, then ran to Maverik, the only store thankfully crazy enough to be open on Christmas day. I bought a 2 liter of 7-up, and then came home. After kissing Melissa, Hyrum and I went to the Blair Party at Dave's house.

I may post more on that later. It was a blast between watching Dave, Chip and the Nephews play "Guitar Hero" on the PS2, to eating, the gift exchange and white elephant, and shooting hoops. Mom and Grandmother came, and having the both of them there was very special. There was much laughter and a great night of memories with my family.

Finally Hyrum and I drove back to Lynn and Karols, Melissa had me put Maddy down for a nap in the basement, and I proceeded to load up the Christmas Loot and transport it home. I was so tired and ornery at this time, thankfully the Movie they were watching ended (The Devil Wears Prada), and it was time to go. I woke up Maddy, who threw up again (this time on me), and tried to wash her up in the sink again. Melissa and Karol helped, and I packed all the remaining stuff out to the car, shirtless, as my clothes along with Maddy's jammies were in a bag in the back seat.

We drove home, readied the kids for bed in record time, and lay down. Finally alone! Sleep and our own bed had never felt so good...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Letting My Grandmother Go...

My grandmother is dying. Mom called me this evening to let me know Dave and Chip were heading over to the house and that Dan and I should come. I woke up Dan, he and I zipped jackets on Hyrum and Madolin (Melissa is at work tonight), and we jumped into his car after he scraped the windows clean.

Once we were at mom's house, she met us at the door. "The dogs let me know you were here" she said as she met us with a smile "Come on downstairs, Dave and Chip are already down with Grandmother". She held the door open for me and Dan followed me in--I carried Maddy who was bare legged to the cold save for mismatched socks, and he carried Hyrum who was wearing shoes and no socks. We'd really tried to get over here pretty fast. We made or way downstairs and Dave and Chip were sitting with Grandmother and talking cheerily. I suppose I was expecting something a bit more solemn, and the conversation warmed me. We visited and swapped stories for nearly an hour, Grandmother mostly listening and observing, strangely quiet from her recent strokes. During our visit, she had a few odd moments--like not remembering if she liked donuts, or what her opinion on something was. I even caught her a few times studying my face as if she knew who I was yet couldn't quite place her finger on it. I didn't know what to do and it made me uncomfortable, but the hug and kiss I gave her were warm and familiar, and in the short moment I was in her arms, she became what she has always been to me--my " 'Mer". Her smell and her eyes jumped out at me first, then her voice tumbled over me. "Hi baby" she said, her slightly husky Southern timbre washing me in its familiarness. I had heard her voice for much of my life, and I wrapped it around me now, a kitten snuggled in against the cold. I hugged her back, knowing this was the place that I knew I belonged, where she knew me and I could hide, like that child who sat with her in the church pews years ago, snuggled against her soundly asleep.

Kathryn Sue Allsworth Stubbs was the first member of our family to convert to the LDS church and she has always felt to me to be the beginner of a legacy. Her presence is thick with it and I revere her for it, she is as immoveable and stubborn as a pillar of granite, sunk deep into God's loamy earth. She is the kind of person who you want on your side, a confidant who has instilled in me in these past few months a better sense of who she is--more than the child comforter of my youth, more than the woman who taught me manners southern style--how to say "yes ma’am" and "no ma’am" and who jabbed me into complying into table manners with the pointy end of a fork. She became someone I could talk with, and in turn listen to when I was confused or concerned or just plain old tired. She would feed me with her words and her cheeses, make me sit down and tell me how beautiful Melissa and my little family were, challenge me to do my best for them, and reassure me that I was making the right choices in my life.

Tonight seeing her half there, seeing her in confusion and hesitant because her mind limited her vocabulary made my heart feel heavy. I wanted her to be the same and it made me sad, yet knowing from mom that she was tired and ready to pass to the other side made me anxious for her. I know she is tired, and has lived a rich full life. I do not desire her to stay just for my benefit, and I know she is ready to continue on the great journey of her life. In my belief, the afterlife isn't just some projection we make of our wishes and fears, it is real. I can't explain it without faith, and my words seem feeble this evening as I try to tangibly hash out something which will provide evidence that post mortal existence is true, but I feel it is there. I feel my loved ones reaching out to me, in a caring and interested manner. That what I do matters, and it matters to them. I believe they are all around us, and they know who we are--and in turn are just as concerned for our well being as Grandmother is in me. This makes my heart want to echo those beautiful words from 1 Corinthians 15:55 "Oh death where is thy sting, or grave where is thy victory?" I know I will see her again, not just as a wonderful Grandmotherly sage who has gone through everything in life (including two hip replacement surgeries). I will see her as a woman in her prime, released form this veil of cares and woe, working on her own progression in that celestial sphere. I know this time of her passing into the next life is painful and I will miss her, but I have faith that she and I will meet again, and talk about concerns and struggles we passed though in life. Perhaps we'll laugh at the smallness of our thinking back in the old days when these tiny bodies of clay limited us. Perhaps we'll sup with God in the great Mansions he has prepared for all who believe on his name. I cannot see the times ahead as my eyes are veiled by these mortal eyes, but I do know my Grandmother is at peace tonight. And if she passes into the next world tonight or a thousand nights from now, my love for her will not wane.

I am proud to be one of her grandsons, proud to have gone tonight with my three brothers to be with her and give her some peace through her latest struggles. Tonight I thank God for the grace he has for all of us, if we'll but open our eyes to it. His "grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before [him]...". All it really takes is us realizing He is there in everything we go through. I really believe that God can show me how to live my life, through all the trials, and still see his hand in it. For what purpose? His. And I thank Him for Grandparents and Parents who care enough to love me, show me faith, and lead me in a way that makes me want to reach back to him in gratitude. I just realized it, but life is truly one eternal round, all of us linked together forming the line stretched and curved back to God.

Friday, December 08, 2006

We Wish You a Warmy Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Today Melissa and her mom went shopping for wreath decor and I was left home with a sleepy 21 month old. I lay Maddy down, deadbolted the front door (so you can see I am a responsible father), and commenced to go to the garage to play. I may not have a damnable location, but the garage is definately MY SPACE. I love it there, my 5 bikes are hanging from the rafters, the tools all organized, the household stuff is trundled in their own boxes, etc. I am renting, so the place is not tweaked just the way I'd have it (insulation, polymer coated flooring, neon clocks, pinball machine, TV), but all in all it is more than fine.

Today I had planned just bolting together the child carrier mod which has been pending (cold weather, no walks) for a month, but after buttoning it together, I started looking at the couch and the ill positioned motoroil stained work bench. To paraphrase Apocalypse Now "I love the smell of [light demolition] in the morning." I tore it down, albeit carefully. To do so, I used a Craftsman hammer and a Craftsman hand woodsaw (to date no royalties have been paid to me for this plug for them), my miniature Buck Bros hacksaw to cut the nails so I didn't have to pull them (10 penny nails are pretty damn big), and an alternation of jumping on the top and lifting from the bottom. It worked quite well! I still need to pilot drill for where I am mounting the table on the new wall (the car, the couch, the motorcycle will fit much better now), all 38 3/4 from the ground so the salvaged legs can be reused, and I will be done. Voila, worktable moved from one side of the garage to another.

After the light demolotion, I washed a few sawdusty toys (dusty, compliments of my table saw-owning brother in law Dave--who stores a few tools at my place at no cost to me) :), swept up my mess, and washed my motorcycle. Beauty! I sure like the way it shines when cleaned up!

All this was done in the warm 40 degree December air. I love Utah! It can be winter, and colder than the Wicked Witch of the North's nipple, but if the sun is shining and the wind isn't blowing then it generally feels pretty balmy.

It has been a busy day--lots of chores, and generally I have felt tired. I have caught some funky cold immediately after getting over my last one (my symptoms are different, more of a nasal thing). The house looks great, my wife is fantastic, my babies are growing and darn cute, and my dog is going to make me some coin this year.

Peace out ninjas

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Little Holiday Cheer Bicycle Style!

So I had this forwarded to me this morning from my intrepid father-in-law--in the spirit of the season, I just had to post it here!