All content on this blog is copyright by Marci Andrews Wahlquist as of its date of publication.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eagle Lake Summer

Eagle Lake (photo credit: USGS)
The summer I was 10 we spent a long vacation at Eagle Lake in northern California. We were there with two other families, the Rices, whose four boys were the same ages as my siblings and me, and the Bonderants, who were an older childless couple. Tents were pitched for the kids to sleep in, and the adult couples each had a trailer or camper to sleep in. Our camp sites, of course, were all together in a line along the south shore of the lake.

To get to the lake itself from our camp, we crossed an area of hard dirt that gave way to a marsh. Several long, narrow boards set end-to-end on pylons a foot above the water bridged the marsh. Beyond the marsh was the lake with its muddy and rocky bottom sloping down from the marsh area. We tied up our little boat there, and the Rices and the Bonderants also had their boats there.

Our boat had a small 5-horsepower motor. That year or maybe the next my dad bought a larger boat and a 35-horsepower motor, just enough power to pull a skinny teenage boy up on water skis if only one spotter rode in the boat with the driver. Our friends had more powerful boats and did most of the driving for the water skiers and the “aquaplane” riders. The aquaplane was a board with a rope handle at one end and small sides against which the rider could brace his or her feet--you stood on it holding the rope handle, and the boat pulled you up out of the water just like on water skis, but not quite so difficult to balance.

At the age of 10, all I could handle was the aquaplane, not water skis yet. I had terrible balance as a kid. I couldn’t ride a bicycle until I was nearly twelve years old because of my poor balance. I always had wanted to walk our fences like my brothers did, but I couldn’t. I’d practice and practice on a two-by-four board on the ground, and I just couldn’t stay on it. Anyway, I was so proud of myself the day I got up on the aquaplane and was towed around a large circle by that shore of Eagle Lake where we were camped.

Then disaster struck. I was walking that narrow board plank over the marsh when I lost my balance and had to jump down into the marsh so I didn’t fall over. It wasn’t all that deep, so I just walked alongside the board, heading toward the dry ground. But there was a bottle hidden in the marsh, and I stepped on it, and it broke into my foot. It sliced an arc right across the arch of my foot, cutting pretty deeply. I screamed and sat down on the bridge, holding my foot high, blood streaming out of it in a seeming waterfall.

One of my brothers was near and scooped me up in his arms and ran for the camp. The adults were all looking to see what was going on, and my relations dismissively said I’d probably stepped on a thorn or something and not to pay too much attention to my dramatic bid for attention. But the blood streaming out told a different story.

I was plunked into a chair, and Mrs. Bonderant, a nurse, knelt beside me to examine my foot. She told me to try to stop crying.

“Crying makes your blood run faster,” she said, which very effectively shut me up, except for the hiccups. It wasn’t hurting me. It was just that it was very scary to me to see all that blood coming out of my foot. I was in shock.

My mother sent one of my brothers to get one of my toys. I had a toy worm, which sounds the antithesis of a comforting thing, but it was actually a piece of sheepskin cut in a narrow oval about a foot long, dyed green, with black-and-white button eyes and a tiny pink tongue. If you put it on a piece of fabric-covered furniture and stroked its length, it appeared to undulate and was rather cute. I found a picture of a pink one on the internet at etsy. I couldn’t find one in the bright grass green color I remember mine was.

My foot was tightly bound in towels and my parents bundled me into the back of the station wagon with the seats all set down so I could lie flat with my mother beside me. My dad rode shotgun and Mr. Rice drove the winding 17-mile road to Susanville where the nearest hospital was. I think I chattered all the way, nervous but somehow excited too, to be the focus of all the adults’ attention for once, legitimately.

In the emergency room my mother told me to hold still and definitely not to wave my Wormy around, as it was a dirty, germy thing, she said. I waved it defiantly, but only once. I was shocked by the sight of the great big needle the doctor was going to stick into my foot. He told me to be very brave about it, so I screwed up my eyes and did not make another sound.

It seemed like he sewed and sewed and sewed forever, closing up the great gash. But after all he put in only eight stitches with elegant, thick, black silk. He did say that I had been very lucky, as one eighth of an inch deeper, I would never have walked on that foot again. I was too young to understand tendons.

There followed an extremely dreary week of not being allowed to walk anywhere. I spent it reading my parents’ paperback novels. I was introduced to Mickey Spillane and Erle Stanley Gardner that week by necessity; they hadn’t brought too much reading material. I liked Perry Mason; not so much Mike Hammer. There seemed to be a lot of sex in those novels, most of which I didn’t understand at all but felt vaguely was supposed to be naughty.

I wasn’t allowed to sleep in the tent with the other kids. I had to sleep in the trailer with my parents. Horrible. I thought I was being treated too much like a baby, but I was powerless to change anything. The worst thing was having to be packed around on one or another brother’s back when I had to use the outhouse. Very embarrassing, and most of my brothers didn’t like it either. My favorite brother sympathized and was nice about it though. He’d sit and play his harmonica for me and whistle his favorite song, which that summer was Mel Carter’s big hit, “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.”

My mother took me back into Susanville one morning to see the doctor at his office. I remember his office looked like a large old house on a residential street. He pronounced that the wound was healing just as it should, and that he could remove the stitches. I wanted to know if I could keep the stitches, and he grinned back at me, dropping them one by one into my cupped hand as he snipped them and pulled them out. He gave me a little pill bottle to keep them in so that I could show all my friends when I got back home.

I don’t remember anything more about Eagle Lake that summer, except a regret that I had not been able to go on the aquaplane again, nor try water skiiing.

But there would be another summer at the lake, and other lakes, and more opportunities.

It’s Really Very Simple

It’s really very simple. After a dangerous rise in nationalist and supremacist movements during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Second World War broke out in 1939. Our country joined the war in 1941 after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. We sent a generation of young people to fight that war, and our side won. The world was told in no uncertain terms that the majority of right-thinking people realized that these ideologies were wrong and dangerous and would not be tolerated.

Our country continued to fight the ideas of racial superiority and gender inequality through the next several decades. We still are fighting those battles, along with fight for the tolerance for differing beliefs and the continuing need to balance all these things with preserving freedom of speech for all.

It doesn’t take much logical thought to realize that when one is confronted with those who espouse oppression in any form, one must use that freedom of speech to speak up and protest those ideas. When the leader of our nation, which is supposed to stand for justice and equality for all under the law, meets a chance to declare what we stand for, that leader must take the opportunity to make a clear and positive declaration. Just say it. “We do not agree with Nazis. Our laws will not support racial supremacy, nor bigotry, nor gender discrimination, nor religious oppression of whatever kind, nor any other repugnant act against the equality of all people. We allow you the freedom to express your beliefs, but we do not allow you to act upon those beliefs if they infringe on the freedom of others.”

There is no room for wavering back and forth, for assigning “blame” to people who are protesting ideas that are absolutely opposed to what this country stands for, or for trying to justify the people advocating things that are clearly against our national values.

How I wish we did not have the president we now have. How grateful I am that I live in a country that allows me the freedom to express this opinion. I hope for better leadership in our future. I hope we survive to the end of this president’s term!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It Has to Stop or We Will Lose This War

Apparently not enough people were horrified at the end of World War II when the Nazi concentration camps were liberated and appalling photographs of the emaciated, suffering victims emerged, together with the truth of the killings of millions of human beings. These were people killed for who they were, not for anything they did or didn’t do, not for guilt nor any supposed threat to humanity.

Apparently a good many white parents of United States soldiers who had been sent overseas to fight the Nazis went right on teaching their children to believe that they were better than any other races, and that their religion made them better people than people of any other religion or of no religion, and that this or that attitude made them better than people with a different attitude or way of living.

Apparently too many of those soldiers came home and lapsed into bigoted ways themselves, despite what they’d fought and why they’d fought. Apparently they passed along their attitudes to their children and their grandchildren.

This past year has seen the rise of such people in greater numbers than I could ever have believed were possible, after all that we’ve seen in our lifetimes, after all that we know. And this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, we saw the hatred these people have nurtured and cultivated, grown into a terribly powerful wave, engulfing and destroying the love and inclusiveness that should be the hallmark of our society.

I know we haven’t headed into the utopian society that some of us in the 1960s envisioned for our futures. I know that my white privilege has blinded me to how much of this is unsurprising to my brothers and sisters of color here in the United States. I’m ashamed that I haven’t yelled louder, written more forcefully, fought harder against this evil that is threatening us all. I don’t really know how.

But I do know how to write, and I must do what I can.

There can be no justification for prejudice, no rational way to describe bigotry, no mitigating circumstances explaining the subjugation of and discrimination against human beings by other human beings.

It’s wrong. It’s evil.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today issued a statement that said in part, “White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them.” Their statement quoted Jesus explaining to His disciples the first and second great commandments in religious law: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37–39).

There is no greater way to fight evil than to spread love.

I don’t mean that you must not fight back. But I do know that love conquers all; that fighting while using love is different from fighting with hatred as a motivation.

Tomorrow when you go out and meet people in the course of your day, love everyone you meet. Fight your own tendency to be annoyed with the people who make mistakes in driving, the people who force you to take evasive action, the folks who delay you when you’re in a hurry, the people who want to talk to you when you’re trying to concentrate, that person at work who does everything wrong.

What’s harder is when you have made an enemy, and that person vows to get even with you, or works to destroy you before you can be the one doing the destroying. You have to get a grip on yourself, eradicate revenge from your nature, and turn around. You have to figure out how to make that person into your friend. It may be the hardest challenge you’ve ever accepted, but it can be done if you want it badly enough. You have to use every ounce of imagination, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and energy. Sometimes you’ll think you’ll never succeed, that the bitterness has just plain gone too deep and can never be eliminated. But I say it can, even if it takes years and years and years. I think the end result is worth any effort.

Work to love them. Your love is the most powerful force in the world and it will spread its influence to every single person with whom you come in contact, and you will be known as the person who spreads peace all around you.

If enough people do this, the world will change for the better. We will win this war.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Garden Report: Never Give Up

Not much is doing lately, except that I’m rereading all of the Harry Potter books this week. I started five days ago and am halfway through book 5 in the series right now. I love these books; they give me such pure enjoyment.

So since you have obviously (!) been wondering about my garden after two years ago when it was such a disaster after the fiasco of filling all the grow boxes with rabbit and cow manure that had not aged long enough and that burned up the plants scarcely a week after I planted them, I decided to give you an update. (But remember that the plants eventually came back and finally produced something of a harvest, even though it was late and the cold weather put a stop to it before we got much.)

This year we planted things rather late. We have no excuse. We just did not feel like planting until the last week in May. Many of our neighbors planted in late April, which hereabouts is risky as there is always the threat of one last snow storm, one last freeze before mid-May. And that is what happened. We had that brief snow and we had frost in mid-May, and people were putting blankets all over their plants, vegetable and ornamental, throughout the neighborhood.
Blankets cover new plants May 18th when we had a freeze

We were feeling smug. We had not planted. We did not need to rush out with whatever old quilts or blankets or sheets or bedspreads we could find.

When finally my husband went to the garden store to buy plants, the selection was pretty limited. He bought three tomatoes, a pumpkin, and two sweet bell pepper plants. We had wanted acorn squash. We love acorn squash. He had wanted zucchini, and I was secretly glad he couldn’t find any. Last year our zucchini went wild and we had to throw half of it away, there was so much. From two plants we got over 50 zucchinis. I baked, fried, grilled, grated, pureed, and froze zucchini until I was heartily sick of it.

We have had a harvest of one tomato so far. There are a lot green tomatoes on the plants, growing larger every day. There are a lot of pumpkins down there; I haven’t been able to count them all yet. We’ve had a green pepper, but the weather turned so very hot that no blossoms set fruit for a few weeks. It’s been at or over 100 degrees F. for a month now and we hope the weather simmers down a little. This last week the thunderstorms cooled things off a little and the forecast says this week will be the same.

Well, that’s the Garden Report for this year! We’ll have a decent harvest of tomatoes and pumpkins, that’s certain. Come by around Halloween and see our harvest.

Update: picked a tomato on August 5

Monday, July 10, 2017

Patriotism Rampant

In my neighborhood, patriotism shows up not only for Independence Day on the Fourth of July, but for the entire month of July. My state has two holidays in July that are celebrated with fireworks and lots of flag waving, and my morning walks offer a glimpse of lots of flag-related decorations. I call this rampant because there is so much that you have to say patriotism is standing on its hind legs with its tail in the air, like the lion in heraldry. (Whatever!)

Here are the decorations I noticed this morning.
I saw this house this morning but used a photograph I took last week.
They do it up in grand style. Even their mailbox is covered with
red-white-and-blue ribbons.

The flags are definitely flying, with lots of houses flying the flag every day, not just on the holidays.
People fly little flags, big flags, and alternative styles of flags.

I like bunting on porch railings. It has that old fashioned feel, like being wafted into the movie The Music Man.

People even continue the red-white-and-blue
theme in the flowers they plant in the yard.

Flags fly on trucks too!

One of my good friends has been posting on Facebook about the largest U.S. flag ever flown that is hanging between the walls of a canyon near where she lives. You can see a picture of it here and read the article. Yep, Utah does love waving the flag.

In the words of George M. Cohan: “You’re a grand old flag”

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Memories of Lloyd Alvero Read, part 6


1 Introducing Ancestors

2 Childhood and Youth

3 Responsibilities

4 Shifting Fortunes

5 I Retired and Retired and Retired . . .

6 The Ending

6 The Ending

Lloyd Read continued to preach guest sermons for various Christian churches in Marion County, and he continued to sing solos until an advanced age. I heard him sing “The Holy City” at a church dinner I attended in the 1970s, and everybody was amazed at the power of his voice in his mid-80s.

He continued to work in his garden until he was in his 90s.

When I moved to Oregon after graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in English, he asked me if I would write his biography, and we started these interviews in the spring of 1980. We worked on the project through the spring and into the summer, and when we were finished with the interviews, he gave me some of his diaries to read and to make notes. But soon I had to find a job and get some money coming in to pay my bills, and when I went back to school to get advanced degrees, this project got put aside.

I took this picture of Lillie and Lloyd in 1986
I stayed with Grammy and Grandpa many weekends when I could get away from University of Oregon the year I was there working on a Ph.D. degree. We had good times those weekends, but we never somehow focused on this project again. Grandpa was active until very late in his life, and he was as sharp and clear in his mind as always. But he was increasingly feeble. One weekend Grammy had me cut his toenails because nobody else could do it anymore; his nails were very thick and yellow with fungus.

About a year after I left University of Oregon in June 1986, he had to go to a nursing home at Sublimity to live. Grammy couldn’t take care of him anymore. He had been staying in bed all day, sleeping more and more, eating very little, complaining that nothing tasted good enough anymore. Grammy made him go to the home when he refused to get up at all and stopped eating. He came home for visits, but that stopped after a while.

Back during those weekends I spent with them, he had talked with me a couple of times about why the Lord would make him keep living when he felt he ought to be going on; he was tired and he wanted to go. He asked me if I thought that the Lord was making him stay to pay for the things he had done wrong in his life. I remember my answer— that it didn’t matter whether he made the payment here or in the hereafter, but that I believed that he had to pay for the wrongs he had told me about. He did not answer directly. But his eyes filled up with tears and he left the room in a hurry. He did have a dark side; I have chosen not to talk more about it than this paragraph. He made choices and took actions that I told him had been wrong, and when he tried to justify his choices, I was able to convince him he was absolutely wrong. I don't know why he took that from me, but perhaps it had to do with the fact that he had asked me to write his story, the story of a Christian gentleman, but I could not write it the way he had wanted it; it needed that crucial conversation and a sign of some kind that he had acted like a Christian in acknowledging his need for repentance, for forgiveness. I do not know whether he will ever get forgiveness from some of his kin. But at least I know that in the end, he had come to the realization he needed it. I believe in the hereafter; I believe in the power of Jesus Christ to wipe away the sins of those who truly repent. I believe my grandfather will experience a sore repentance, with many bitter tears and much, much sorrow, for the things he did were quite serious and consequential. I believe he had taken the first steps on that difficult road, and I hope he paid his debts in the end, to whatever extent justice and mercy both demand. May God heal all the hearts broken so far.

I visited him in Sublimity each time I returned to Oregon; he passed away on April 29, 1989, at the age of 98 years and almost 9 months.