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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Camera-Shy Corgi

My sister has three dogs in her family. Her dog is a 13-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever and Doberman mix who has been featured here on this blog before. Her daughter has a black Labrador Retriever - Border Collie named Sable who is basically nuts; he is now 5 years old and had been expected to grow out of that stage, but it seems to be permanent. Their third dog ostensibly belongs to my brother-in-law, but Welsh Corgis are so cute and inclusive that he belongs to everybody. He comes to visit us so often that he also includes us in his circle of people whom he likes to herd together. He loves everybody and everybody loves him. He is so cute that we camera-nut types love to photograph him.

But he hates to have his picture taken.

This was quite apparent this week when my niece and I drove her brother back to college and took the dog along. On the way back he was in the back seat, a little sad that one of his herd had been left behind, and very put out every time my niece pointed my camera his way. My niece tells me this is typical. She is getting more and more into photography and would like to use him as one of her principal models, but he refuses to cooperate. He turns his head away, lowers his ears, and looks pathetic the instant he realizes the camera is on him.

His history is that he is a sort-of rescue dog. My sister was the veterinarian in a small town in southern Utah where someone called her a few years ago and asked if she would board this Corgi puppy. She agreed, and at the end of the boarding period, someone came and got the dog. The next day the puppy was back at the front gate, asking frantically to be let in. My sister, unable to reach the original person she had dealt with, found out that the puppy had been left tied to the front door of the house that had been suddenly abandoned by the party that had been renting it, and that a kid in that neighborhood who had been asked to feed and water the puppy for a few days had untied the dog and let him run off. The sheriff told my sister that the supposed owner of the dog was unlikely to return, being wanted for a number of serious reasons. So the puppy had gone to where he felt his home was. My sister kept looking for the owner for a while, but the Corgi puppy grew up in her household and implanted himself in their hearts.

I suspect he is camera shy because he knows he is on the lam.
Sleeping in the sun, suddenly aware of the camera

Oh come on. Give a guy a break from this harassment!

Gotta get out of range of that thing.

You know I value my anonymity!

Unaware he's being watched.

Not again! Have you never heard of the Federal Witness
Protection Program?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


My brother is visiting us this Christmas and will be taking care of our mother here while the rest of us fly away for a much-needed break. I gave my brother the job of setting out the many nativity sets in my mother’s and my collection, and today he got them all in place—different places than where I’ve put them before—I felt I needed change this year.

Our mother started collecting these sets long ago and had over fifty when I started collecting them too. She moved in with me and we weeded out the duplicates and have acquired more over the years.

I went around the house and photographed a good share of them; here they are.

My dad had this one when he was a child. The poor donkey is long gone; I remember my siblings and me fighting over who got to play with him. Of course we were not supposed to be playing with any of the pieces, but we did and that is why the Christ child that originally belonged to this set is missing. It is also why the cow lacks ears or horns and everybody is worn smooth around all the edges.

Perhaps it is fitting that early on we should see the scenes of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem to be taxed. That the Savior of the world should be born to poor people struggling to comply with the inconvenient and difficult demands of a foreign government that kept them oppressed and under the thumb of a little tyrant is fitting. We (at least in the USA) cannot complain that much about our modern prosperity and relative freedom when we compare, can we? But we ought to take notice and watch what is happening right now lest the precious gifts we enjoy come under threat of loss.

This set was given us piece by piece over the course of ten nights by some neighbors who decided to be our “Secret Friend” many years ago. Our son was little then, and he was enchanted by the growing scene. The last piece to come, fittingly, was the babe in the manger. We never found out who gave us this gift, and thus we never lost the need to pay it forward. Piece by piece, a small deed at a time, we may make a change for good in this old world.

We bought this piece in Bethlehem ten years ago for my mother. It has been a treasure to her, and it reminds us of the lovely rocky hillside covered with scrub trees and rough desert forage for the herds of sheep that still graze that area. We had gone into a little cave in the side of one of the hills just outside the city, and there a Christian Arab told us about the traditions of the shepherds. We felt some of the wonder and awe that the story has always held for the believer.
This is the last gift from my brother Dan, who passed away almost a year ago. How I miss him!

My sister-in-law gave me this nesting egg set of scenes of the Savior’s life: His birth, baptism, teachings, Atonement, and Resurrection. He lives today. You can know Him. He certainly knows you.

He is our greatest Friend; if only we will love everyone, the easiest and the hardest alike, we can become like Him and all be the friends we were meant to be. Let us shine that Light in the darkness and banish that darkness.

A very merry Christmas to all, and a bright new year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


My ancestors began to arrive in the American colonies in 1630 and participated in the celebrations of harvests and of special days of thanksgiving from time to time through the years. George Washington proclaimed a thanksgiving day in 1777. The new nation celebrated thanksgiving days now and then through the years until the Civil War, and then President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in every November as a perpetual holiday.

I’ve got plenty to be thankful for. In the spirit of the holiday, I’m looking back at the last eleven Thanksgiving days and remembering specific things among the myriad heaps of things I could name that I am grateful for.

Eleven years ago my brother Dan was still alive and joined us for the holiday at my sister’s house. My! The boys were young then!

Look carefully and you can see the glowing eyes of my dog in the kitchen. Just beside his leg you can see more glowing eyes—the cat Daisy, who was crouching under the open dishwasher door where the dog couldn’t reach her without getting his nose scratched. He got his nose badly scratched. The dogs who belonged to the household no doubt warned my dog, but my dog was not one to take advice from anybody when it came to investigating cats and chasing them if possible. He had to learn the hard way that Daisy was In Charge of that household. Daisy is still alive, but my dog has been gone now for three years. How I miss him!

How I miss my brother Dan! He passed away just last January, and we never had another Thanksgiving together after this one this year pictured here. My family didn’t get together very often, and this had been the first time since another brother, Larry, passed away in 1998. We had gotten together that April to celebrate our parents’ golden wedding anniversary at my house. I am so glad that we did that. We couldn’t have known that that fall would see Larry suddenly leave us, and then my sister’s youngest child a month later.

Thanksgiving 1998 was so very hard. Larry’s funeral was the day before. I flew home Thanksgiving morning, grieving terribly, and my daughter picked me up at the airport, crying because one of my husband’s relatives became angry at her having gone and found her birth family. The entire family that was gathered at my sister-in-law’s house was so tense over the situation that nobody paid one iota of attention to me, nobody spoke one word of sympathy or acknowledgement that I had just lost my brother, the one who was dearest to me of all, the one who had spoiled me from the time I was little and who had made himself one of my best friends. I simply stood in the place of a buffer to my daughter, ensuring that nobody spoke one more word to her that wasn’t polite. I just wanted to get out of there. That year I was thankful at least that I had had a brother who was such a good friend to me.

My siblings and parents, as I said, rarely got together after that terrible year. But eleven years ago we were all together at my sister’s house and there was no drama, there were no hard feelings, no arguments or anything but a lot of laughter and a lot of fun.

The next year we went to Denver to visit our daughter and granddaughter. How thankful I am for these two! They have brought such happiness and fun into my life that I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is to have this daughter, this granddaughter (and my son, looking on), in my life.

The next year we were back at my sister-in-law’s house. Here is one of my grand-nephews, the one who is now working on becoming a television star. He is looking at the television and hoping dinner won’t be too long delayed. Can’t you just see the star quality he exudes?  He’s probably also thinking how he is going to be on that screen some day. I love my sister-in-law, the one who hosts Thanksgiving most years for us. She is one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. She hosts everybody who comes through her town. Her door is always open and there’s always a bed for any relative who needs one. She comes to our house every week and is indispensable to our family. I can never thank her enough for all that she does for us.

The next year we had a different set of relatives join us at the same house. My sister and her kids came, and another of my brothers was living with us at the time. Another of my husband’s brothers and wife came. Sometime in the past years of buying new computers and moving everything from older to newer, I accidentally deleted all my photographs of that year, so this scan of an album will have to do. This is the year I learned that my sister, of all my siblings, is devoted to Thanksgiving Day American football games. Whoever is playing, she has to watch. My husband and I are about the world’s worst sports fans. We never know what teams are playing in the tournaments, never attended our college games and never follow their teams, not for any sport. I was amused by my sister’s need to spend hours in the freezing cold basement watching a game.

The year after that my sister-in-law retired after 55 years of teaching and promptly came down with a life-threatening illness. She was in hospitals for more than two months, and so for Thanksgiving my sister and her children, two of my brothers, my mom (who had come to live with me permanently), and my little family were gathered at my house for the dinner of gratitude. Then while my husband and son and I went to visit the Sick, my family cleared everything up, washed and put away all the china and silver, picked all the meat off the turkey carcass and made soup stock with the bones for me. We were able to enjoy the afternoon as much as possible, happily noting that my sister-in-law had turned a corner and was finally on the mend. How grateful I am for my sister and brothers! They were so helpful that year of crisis.

The year after that we went back to the home of my sister-in-law for dinner. That morning I was out in my back yard taking pictures of my brother, who needed a new portrait of himself to use in a new online business venture. He wanted to try several changes of shirt and use a number of different props, so while he was getting things ready, I took this picture of my dog. We got this dog one early November day at the local Humane Society, ten years before this picture. He weighed 7 pounds and was the cutest, fuzzy little ball of goofy clumsiness you could imagine. He grew extremely fast and became, to our dismay, a biter. He bit everybody, not in any anger or by way of attack, but as a way of expressing his happiness at seeing and being with people—any person at all. We took him to numerous training sessions and finally found some guys who specialized in “aggressive” dogs. This wasn’t an aggressive dog though, we learned, he was one of the most intrinsically excited, energetic dogs ever. Most of the time he was supposedly still, he was trembling or at least panting a lot. We learned to treat him in a way that totally cured the biting and chewing and learned to channel his excess energy. He was a great dog! I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to have this dog in my life.

The next year we grew our first pumpkin in our garden. This picture shows the little jack-o-lantern picture drawn on the side of that pumpkin—I couldn’t carve it, it would have seemed like sacrilege to cut up that cute little globe. The other pumpkins came from my neighbor and were turned into pies. The acorn squash, grown in our garden, supplemented our Thanksgiving leftovers dinners. My sister-in-law always made everything for our Thanksgiving dinners herself and didn’t want any help with anything. Except one thing—my cranberry-orange relish. She always has me make that dish and bring it to her house. Our other sister-in-law had chickens and usually brought deviled eggs, which we sat around and ate during the morning while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on television.

The following year we were at the same home of my sister-in-law, with the in-laws who had the chickens. But it had been the election year in the U.S. and I had run afoul of my husband’s family by answering truthfully whom I had voted for. And it wasn’t the approved choice of the rest of my husband’s family. I was made to know how terrible it was that I had voted the way I did. Not that it had mattered one bit in the state of Utah where I live! The majority of voters in the state always votes differently from the way I do and I’m sure that will always be the case. I did not answer—did not even acknowledge the rudeness.

This picture reminds me not of that part of the occasion, but of the charming habit my sister-in-law has of decorating every surface in her main rooms with seasonal objects. There is always something new to see there. One thing she has a lot of—nesting dolls. Her biggest set has thirty-two pieces and the tiniest is the size of a grain of rice. Most of her sets are Christmas-related, but here is one for Thanksgiving. She gave me one for Halloween, skeletons that glow in the dark.

And the following year all the surfaces were decorated similarly, everyone was the same, everything seemed to be a copy, but I found myself treated with solicitous kindness and interest, and I thought it was an interesting way of making it up to me. No verbal apology that would have completely cleared the air, but somehow the communication lines were open and I could tell I was expected to forgive and forget. I did forgive but of course haven’t forgotten. It is interesting that this election year, the relatives called up my sister-in-law and asked whom we all had voted for. She said that not one of us had voted for Donald Trump, and that yes, I had voted for the person they thought I would be voting for. But this year I was joined by my husband and son in voting for the same person. And this year the other relatives have decided not to join us. Perhaps it is best that we not meet until the election has faded from people’s memories somewhat. Politics should never part families. I am thankful that my extended family has negotiated a way not to allow that to happen.

The next year my daughter didn’t have anyone to eat Thanksgiving dinner with her, so we had her come home to us and join us in going to our usual place. My sister-in-law helped raise my daughter when she was a tiny girl and my husband and his first wife newly divorced, and she is very, very close to my daughter. It was wonderful to stay there and get up first thing in the morning before the parade was to begin and take a long walk with my daughter up the side of the mountain behind the house. We met these geese on our walk, hissing angrily at our intrusion into their territory. They should have been thankful they were not scheduled to be on the menu!

Here is a view of that wonderful things my sister-in-law makes, from last year. Besides turkey and stuffing, she makes an excellent gravy. The only person whose gravy comes close to hers is her youngest brother’s gravy. They both learned from the master cook, their mother. My husband was not interested in learning to make gravy, so when we have gravy, I have to do it. Mine isn’t bad, but it isn’t like theirs. Oh my. There are the sweet potatoes, and the cranberry relish sauce. I have a little dish of creamed pearl onions and a plate of “Grandma Salad,” which is green jello with cottage cheese, cream, mayonnaise, celery, walnuts, pineapple, and horseradish added. I don’t know if I know all the ingredients, but we all love this salad. The other green salad always has avocadoes, which I love, and radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and either bibb lettuce or romaine. This picture is funny because of the missing green beans. She had steamed the green beans, but we all had forgotten about them and they sat in the steamer until we were cleaning up later and found them.

I took a walk that afternoon up the same trail my daughter and I had taken the year before. Here are some of the “friends” I saw along my way.

This year we will not be staying overnight at my sister-in-law’s house as we have been doing ever since our dog died. (She did not welcome our dog in her house.) My mother can’t do as much as she used to, so it is best that we go down there early in the morning. Today I have been making the cranberry sauce and some pies. My sister-in-law has suffered me to make pies in recent years. She always makes a mince pie, and I make pumpkin and apple pies. I love pie and love to make them. My mother never did learn to make pie crust, but she encouraged all of my siblings and me to try and to perfect our abilities. My grandmother used the method of “Well, you take a little bit of this, about a handful of that, and a pinch of this other”—and somehow that all made a lot of sense to me while it never did to my mother. I always put extra spices in my pumpkin pie. We all like a spicy pie, so it has ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice in it. I am a clove fiend. If I had my way, I’d spice the apple pie with cloves too. But my relatives have limits on what I can do. Anyway, I’m thankful for the opportunity to make pies and cranberry and go to my favorite sister-in-law’s house tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody who is celebrating. “Be in thanksgiving daily,” says a scripture that I particularly like. Let’s be. Thankful.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tales My Father Told Me One Summer Solstice Day

My father died in 2008, and I don’t remember what year he told me these stories. He usually spent the early part of the summer with me and my family from the early 1990s onward. These were probably told between 2000 – 2004.

When I was a Boy Scout, we went to summer camp at Camp Meriwether on the Oregon coast. We spent a lot of time poking around in the rocks and tide pools around the base of Cape Lookout and that’s where I saw a sea star one time with about twenty legs. There were all kinds of marine animals around there. We had a little dock built out into the ocean, and one time I caught a squid off that dock. I hauled him in, but just as I got him up near the dock, there was a flash of black ink and he disappeared back into the water.

The Struan
The place had been the property of a pioneer family called the Chamberlains. The parents at one time had decided to go to Tillamook for supplies and things [this was in December 1890] and left the children at home. Out at sea a three-masted schooner, the Struan, had run into a storm and lost its rudder and sails. They had drifted about for a week or two before the crew was rescued and the ship abandoned. While the parents were gone, this schooner ran straight in toward the shore of this property that the Chamberlains owned. It hit the beach and broke up. It was full of lumber, 12x12s and what all, an immense amount of lumber. The family salvaged it and used it, and in the 1930s there was still plenty left for us to use to build some of our buildings at the Scout camp. I can’t remember that anybody ever claimed the ship or its cargo.

Don Findlay and I went to that Scout camp when we were 13, 14, and 15 years old [1934, 1935, and 1936]. Once I was walking along this one trail at the camp, and suddenly it was as if I had stepped onto a magic carpet—as though I had somehow been there before—in fact, I knew that somehow I had been there before—it was that real to me.

I had another couple times of this sort of déjà vu experience. When I was five or six years old I was at the house next door [in Portland, Oregon], coming down the front steps. At the last step it was as if I’d stepped off and was floating. It was very vivid, very strange. It lasted only a moment.

I used to have a memory of one of these type of “conduit” places. I’d come down and concentrate on a certain place—I always thought it was the gym in my school [Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland, Oregon]. I have a vague feeling that it repeated itself there. But now the memory isn’t quite strong enough to describe well.

Note: My dad was in the Army during World War II, but instead of being sent to combat, he was sent to school for advanced training in electronics and radio communications systems. The Army students were expected to carry a double load of classes, do their Army training and other duties, and make straight A grades or be sent immediately overseas.

In Louisiana during the War there were a lot of cockroaches where we were stationed at the college at Baton Rouge. I remember once there was a cockroach behind the slate in the shower with 3-inch feelers sticking out. We couldn’t see the cockroach itself, but to have 3-inch feelers! Nobody had the nerve to stick a hand in and grab him.

We had the pump kind of insecticide and we glued a piece of candle onto it. With that we could shoot a flame clear across the room. We’d hit the cockroaches and they’d go up in flames. We had ’em trained to mop up under our beds. Good thing the beds never caught on fire!

Once I hit a roach and it fell to the floor onto an ant trail. They swarmed right over it and it disappeared. That was the end of that one.

I opened my foot locker one day and discovered an ant trail had gone inside. They had discovered the cookies Aunt Ruth had sent me. I had to throw them all out—empty the footlocker and wash it out completely.

Another time I had a stick, a mop handle or something like that, and I was poking roaches and killing them. This one roach I hit didn’t die but rose up in the air on its wings and came straight at me! I squared up the stick like a baseball bat and swung when the roach got within striking distance, and I hit it out the door with a Whack! We all ran out on the balcony to see what had happened to it. Darned if it hadn’t fallen to the ground one floor below and was getting up to come at me again. I squared up my bat and hit it again. Third time apparently was the charm. It lay dead. The ubiquitous ants crawled over and retrieved it and carried it off in triumph.

Giant Burrowing Roach at the Audubon Butterfly Garden
and Insectarium in New Orleans on Thursday, July 2, 2015
(Photo by Chris Granger, | The Times-Picayune)