Sunday, May 31, 2009

Neighborhood Happenings

There's a group of boys, ages 10-13, who like to come play basketball on my driveway. I like that they comfortable being there and that there is a safe, off-the-street place for them to play. Being boys, and tweens, sometimes they get a bit rowdy and rough but overall they seem like really good kids.

On Monday afternoon last week one of my backyard neighbors was robbed. They are in Florida on vacation. Someone went in through a window, ransacked the house, stole some video games and equipment and found the keys to their brand new car... Totalled in a high speed chase through the construction zone out on State 201. The lady who lives next door to them on the south started telling people around the neighborhood on Tuesday that it was one of the boys who play ball out here and that he'd scoped the place out by climbing on top of my playset and got into their yard by climbing the fence. She didn't say it to me; just my other neighbors started calling and telling me about it. Tempers were flaring and everyone was angry with the boys, and, to some degree, me for letting them play out there. To give everyone time to cool down and sort the issues out, I asked them to stop playing for a few days. Part of the reason was for me to sort it out, part was that I feared for their safety. I could almost imagine an altercation coming out of all this... Turns out she was wrong. It wasn't one of our homegrown Rose Park thugs at all. The burglar was a 14 year-old gang member who had also hit several other houses in this general area. How come is it that when there's older folks and teenagers around the assumption is always that the kids did something bad?

Anyway, I made up some 'rules' for play out here that I'm going to post in the next day or two. Then I'm going to let them come back. First I want to talk to the boys about why I asked them not play there for a few days. Right now they know it has something to do with the burglary but I don't think they know that they were being implicated and that there was practically a call for a lynch mob. I also think one of my next projects is going to be build a firepit (or if that's against city code, conveniently excavate one that's been here for years) and periodically invite these same boys to stay around after we light a fire to talk, tell stories, make s'mores. I think it would be one way for me to influence them, and hopefully lots of other kids, for good.

While I was trying to find out what had really happened Monday and what the real situation was between these boys and a couple of neighbors who seemed to have the most problem with them, I was outside talking to people. One time my guy friend from down the street a few doors came ambling up kind of full of bravado and talking about how he was going to enforce some discipline with them and that they were getting too comfortable out there... I was thinking to myself, "Dude, you don't need to fight my battles." But I'm really glad I bit my tongue because after I thought about it, I decided it was pretty cute that he wanted to.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oh! My Aching Knees

The great season of yard work has arrived! And with it the first time some of my muscles have been used since last season. For this first few weeks every year, those muscles are not happy! This year it seems to be the ones around my knees that have taken the major hit. Luckily it is the muscles, rather than the joints, that hurt so I do have hope they'll get better with passing time and work.

It's been a busy week or so with garden prep, weeding flowerbeds (mighty piles of weeds!), trimming a couple of bushes back, cutting grass, pulling field bind weed, vinca and crab grass from around the foundations of the house and garages and dragging the hose around to give the lawn and new plantings a drink. Wow! Makes me tired just to list it...

I kind of wish it would rain - just not today. I'd love some for tomorrow. It would be the first in two weeks so things are getting kind of dry. I don't want rain this afternoon because we are going to a Relief Society activity and I was planning on walking the two blocks to the Church with a big pan of brownies in my arms. Rain today definitely wouldn't be a good thing. But as Elder Wirthlin said in his last Conference address, "Come what may and love it."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Certain Miss Emily Dow Partridge

The following is a quote from a recent email from a very distant cousin in England.

"Now here is something else to "wind you up " with . According to what I have gathered together Joseph Smith Jnr approached a Emily Dow Partridge aged 19 with this proposition. "The Lord has has commanded me to enter into a plural marriage and has given you to me. " He married her Sister Eliza aged 22 four days later . "

My first thought was "so what?" The second, not much kinder... "If he's digging all this crap up just to wind me up, I wish he'd quit." Actually, my wish that he'd quit digging up the dirt, so to speak, isn't that the questions annoy me. It's the suspicion in the back of my mind that his purpose is just to get me upset about something. On some of these subjects, I feel a bit like Rhett Butler (Gone With The Wind) when he says "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"

But just to humor my dear cousin, I googled Miss Emily Dow Partridge. She apparently did not have a pleasant life. Click here for a picture and autobiographical sketch: And here for a very sympathetic treatise on her life by Todd Compton: As I dug around, I learned she later married Brigham Young and also found him to be a disagreeable husband. Was she mistreated by these two men? Possibly. Over and above the fact that they are regarded as prophets, they were men and as prone to sin and error as any other man. Was her marriage experience all that different than other women of the time, plural or not? Probably not. The history of women in America is not a pretty picture. Too often and for too long, women were regarded as possessions much as one would regard the family dog or a new ox to pull the farm's plow. I'm glad times have changed... I think I like the battles I need to fight better than these!

So what do I think of Ms. Patridge's marriage to Joseph Smith? I think that when we focus so much on the frailties and inconsistencies of those long dead (and therefore not here to tell us what they really thought or did or said) and expect to be able to reconcile and figure it out as a condition for having a testimony of the Church's divinity misses the big picture. This focus makes you concentrate so much time on the trees that you miss, entirely, that there is a forest.

Is Joseph Smith, polygamy, or the Church itself on trial here? I would have to think, instead, that we are. Will we accept God's truth even when it comes to us via a flawed man? Or when we have unanswered questions about some of the details? I've always learned that faith is the hope of things that are true but not yet fully understood. What does it say about my faith if I struggle against these ancillairy details to the point that I won't allow myself to believe in the larger body of good works?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

One Big Bug

This is my boss's brother-in-law on a recent trip to Australia. The bug he's holding is called a Goliath Walking Stick. I think it's an over-sized cousin to our common Praying Mantis. We were guessing the thing must be a foot (or more) long from toe to tail... When he first sent this around the office, I said something like "Wow, don't think I'd be picking that up." Ever quick-witted, Mark dryly responded "What? The bug or my brother-in-law?" Hmmm.....