Working in the Yard

Today Reilly borrowed his dad’s truck and some chainsaws. He and my brother cut down some ugly trees from our yard. Trees that were rotting. And not providing useful shade. And blocking sunlight from plants we actually like. We’ve been meaning do this for years now, but we’ve finally got around to doing something about it. After cutting down the trees, Reilly and my brother made a couple of trips to the dump to dispose of them. The yard looks much better, which improves the facade of our house.

One of the trees exposed one side of a bush that desperately needs water and sunlight. The bush also needed trimming, which is what I worked on. I wish I’d taken a before photo, but here’s what the bush looks like now. I still need to take off another inch or two. By the way, it’s the other side of this bush that looks horrible and needs nurturing. Maybe once it grows back I can sculpt the whole bush into a family selfie or something:

Speaking of sculpting, handling those shears gave my shoulders a workout.

My arms are going to be sore tomorrow.

Fixing Clarinets

Today I took my newer, not-my-33-year-old-student-model, Bb clarinet to the shop. I told the repairman it needed its yearly maintenance tune-up and to look at the transition between open G and B5: the seal might not be completely closed for a smooth jump up the register. He said that my place in the queue puts repairs about 10 days out.

So I can play my student model and/or my A clarinet in the meantime.

I also took my Gretsch metal clarinet apart today. The head on one of the screws had worn completely flat, so I spent some time gently hammering my smallest flathead screwdriver into that screw to form a groove deep enough for unscrewing. It got to where if I pushed hard enough into the screw and turned lefty-loosey, enough of the screw would be above the hole for me to unscrew the rest using needlenose pliers.

Glad that worked.

Gotta look at the springs and clean the keys and screws; replace the rest of the pads. Then put it all back together. I wonder if I have to buy a junk metal clarinet for parts just so that I get screws the right length. The repair kit I have is for modern clarinets, and not all the screws are the same size as those from the metal clarinet. Most of the screws are still good, though–it’s just the one that has a bad head.

It looks cool. Even if I don’t get it playing perfectly or at all, working on it is pretty fun.

An Undeniably Complicated Day

(Mostly from Instagram)

Perspective shifts. Broadens and deepens.

We also celebrate nine years of marriage today.

Nine years are a big deal because it’s right before 10, which is always a big deal.

And this year in particular feels hopeful on the ever-so-slow upswing from the COVID-19 pandemic. We got through this year together. Like we can more robustly support efforts in increasingly struggling countries, because we have the reassurance of vaccination. We want to use our privilege to help others gain leverage. 

And we are on a sluggish yet fortunate political upswing since the election. Yeah, I went there. We’re lucky to support each other in this. Progress is observable and more measurable. This adds to our hope.

Grad school. Child. Homeownership. Loss. Healing. Compassion. Love. Love. Love. Love. We are happiest together. I love you, my man.

Nine years.

Let’s push for 90.

Ten Years Since Sénégal

I was emailing a friend whose birthday is today. And I know that only because it’s two days before mine. And I wouldn’t have known this except I became friends with him and his wife while studying abroad in Sénégal.

Ten years ago.

This occurred to me today, and so I texted a different classmate from the study abroad. This classmate remarked that we were babies then. Maybe she was; I wasn’t so much. I was 34 when we started the trip, and I turned 35 while in our fourth week. I think I’m about nine years older than the married couple who befriended me. Not like it’s a contest. But I tried hard not to feel self-conscious about my age at the time.

It was such an eye-opening experience. Although I struggled with the language, I picked up fragments of comprehension about slavery and colonialism. My French did improve over time, but wow, I hadn’t been challenged like that in a very, very long time.

I wasn’t sure if these costumes are just for show or are actually part of the culture.

It was good to walk among people of a different religion, too. There were rules to follow while visiting mosques. We heard the calls for prayer fives times every day. Y’all, America can be wonderful, but it isn’t the best all the time. Or even close to perfect.

What a beautiful country. It’s hard to believe that whole experience was 10 years ago. I’m grateful I went; going made me a more compassionate, open-minded person. I made lifelong friends. This part of the path opened up the way to where I am now. Which is where I want to be.

Privileges and Joys

I work from home: privilege.

We live in a privileged school district: privilege.

We live in a single family home: privilege.

We’ve come to a point where we don’t worry about whether we can make the mortgage payments: privilege.

The house sits on a plot just under 1/4 acre: privilege.

The back property line happens to adjoin a five-acre farm: joy.

We watch baby farm animals grow up: joy.

I wandered my back yard this morning. Watched the horses. Captured some photos of mid-spring. This afternoon I weeded the front yard for a little while. I like yard work quite a bit, but it does my allergies no favors.

These blossoms dropped from the cherry tree above it. Pink sprinkled in green. I sort of wish I could eat it.

Z loves to scatter dandelion fluff around the yard. For this reason roughly 62 trillion dandelions have popped up in the grass. I honestly don’t mind, because they make our kid happy.

I would suppose not worrying about our dandelion-weeds is also a privilege. Watching our girl play with them is a joy.

P.S. We’re fully vaccinated over here. Go get vaxxed or wear a mask and come hang out with us!

Mother’s Day 2021, Continued: In Photos

  1. Time on the treadmill
  2. Stretching
  3. New hat Reilly got me when he went to last night’s Jazz game (they won)
  4. Posing with a clarinet
  5. Shirt that my brother got me, filter 1
  6. Shirt that my brother got me, filter 2
  7. Shirt that my brother got me, filter 3
  8. Sweetest DM from a friend

Thanks for all the love, everyone.

Mother’s Day 2021

This is my mom and I, sometime in 1976. My resting face has not changed all these years.

I love my mom. I love being a mom. Every Mother’s Day I think about people who didn’t have wonderful mothers or had a particularly difficult childhood, or struggle with becoming a mom or are striving to be a good mom. Or mourn or grieve in any way because of Mother’s Day. And it’s weird because I don’t know how to think of these people without them thinking that I think I’m superior to them. Or that they want pity. Or that I’m gloating. I don’t want to be condescending. I hate comparing, and I hate being compared to.

But I do think it’s important to acknowledge people’s individual weariness. Because I want them to know they’re not alone. Maybe that’s also being condescending. I hope to get this right someday. I’ve found value in listening. That’s probably the best I can do.

I am grateful, though. And I want to acknowledge the amazing women in my life and how they’ve empowered me. My mom is wonderful. Generous, kind. Good teacher. I’m grateful to have known and grown to love my mother-in-law. She showed gentleness, strength, and grace through her last moments on this earth.

I’m grateful for friends who’ve shared wisdom and courage in and beyond their own circumstances.

I’m grateful for my daughter’s continuous patience and endless forgiveness.

I don’t ever want to take any of you for granted.

May Day, Social Media Roundup

My name is May.

May is my favorite month.

I was born in May.

Today is May 1.

I tend to be in a great mood all month long.

And sort of obnoxious.

On Twitter I tweeted:

Did I do it right? Maybe I should be showing more skin? I mean, the shirt is supposed to highlight the irony of the thirst trap this isn’t. But I don’t know if people got that. I barely have over 100 followers, and I lie low not using a ton of hashtags or mentions. So I wonder if the four people who are active saw this post and got it. Probably, they’re pretty smart.

On Twitter and Instagram I also posted these:

Right? More irony, maybe? Because I’m not really trying?

But the following May Day photo was fun, because I got it on the first take. Maybe because I’ve taken jumping selfies before, and I know just when to jump before the snap. Also the angle makes a huge difference. Setting the phone on the ground at a slight angle up seems best for showing the biggest air.

Here’s one of me under the apple tree, with the neighbor’s farm and the mountains in the background. I think we may never move, because the view stuns me every time:

And, finally, to close out May Day, here’s my fair-skinned husband weeding our flower beds. He’s such a great guy, and I’m lucky to celebrate May Day with him. One of dogs keeps watch. The blooms on that tree are ridiculous. Wow.

Happy month of May, everyone!

Living Close Enough to Nature

Utah is beautiful in the spring. It’s undeniable. Watching flowers bloom and color return to the world invigorates my soul.

One of our cherry trees has reached full bloom. It’s starting to drop its petals to make way for leaves and fruit. Those petals on the ground almost look like snow. Spring here tends to be temperamental and unpredictable. It could still snow, but the vegetation will keep insisting it’s spring. And I will only agree with that idea.

Our apple tree has started to bud. The fruit won’t show up until the fall, but the flowers right now sure brighten my day.

I built that swing and that bench last spring, as the overwhelming desire to do something with my hands during the pandemic and isolation prompted me to, well, build stuff. We’ve enjoyed sitting and swinging under that apple tree this past year. We’re gonna do a lot more of it.

The view of the neighboring farm always calms my spirit. I mean, look: the big field, the red barn, the (blurry) horse. To think I wouldn’t be living here long-term. Utah has succeeded in changing my mind. So grateful we live here.

May 19, 2019

Disclaimer: I’m grieving and have more feelings than I know what to do with. Writing is one way to sort through them. Not sure if they’ll make sense, but here they are.

We all went out to dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day at Ruby River Steakhouse in Provo. We were supposed to have gone to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse up in Park City on May 12 for the official Mother’s Day, but snow was (not) strangely in the forecast. Geez, Utah.

The whole lot of us. Eleven of us. We talked and ate. I sat at the opposite end of the table from Nana Carla. I looked over at her every once in a while, and I would see her sometimes lost in thought. Or nibbling at her food. Or talking to another family member. Or taking photos with her phone. More often than not I saw her smiling.

A deep, underlying sadness lay just below the surface of … me? My soul? The dinner? Did everyone know or sense this would be our last Mother’s Day celebration with Nana Carla’s actual, physical presence? I know we smiled for her, too.

On the morning of Monday, May 20, Carla sent five photos from the last night’s dinner to my phone. (Three not pictured here.) I replied.

Screenshot_20190614-003939

Ours, too, Nana.

We miss you so much.