Saturday, May 3, 2014

Life is good

A lot has been going in for me recently, most of which I don't feel comfortable talking about at the moment on this blog.
May flowers 2014

But I'm struck by the fact that no matter what's going on, life is good.  Life is pretty amazing, in fact.  And I remain in awe (when I remember to be) that I'm here and that I have as many opportunities that I have.  Gratitude for all the opportunities that I was fortunate to experience.

Many local people complain about this past winter (it was a difficult winter).  And it's wonderful now that the winter is over, and at least here, it's firmly spring with flowering trees and warmer temperatures. So life is good.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Eleven Years in the Same Location

It was incredibly surreal for me when I realized that I had lived in this house eleven years, longer than any other home growing up.  We moved around a lot - back to Utah for my Dad to go to grad school - to various jobs.  My parents have lived in their current home for longer, but I haven't lived with them.

My Mom would call it the family wanderlust - every two or three years men in my Dad's family would have the urge to move.  It's hard to say what really was going on there. Job loss, better opportunities - in my experience, I think mormon families do tend to move around a great deal.  There is a built in social safety net of sorts, so a person doesn't have to worry about trying to find the best doctor or babysitter after moving (ward members will probably know).  Whenever my siblings were born, it was a fellow ward member who would come over to our house so my Dad could be at the hospital.  We didn't need to live in the same town as grandparents or extended family.

I've almost lived in this current city more than where I grew up - which is also odd.  I have no intention of changing cities anytime soon - I like my job and my kids are in relatively good schools.  I feel a strong sense of community here.

I must have some of the wanderlust my Mom spoke of, however, because I am still interested in moving (at some point) to a smaller location.  That's not the way it's supposed to work.  You're supposed to buy a house before having kids, and stay in a house and maintain it (including the lawn).  It's part of the American dream.  It's the investment you're support to grow old on.  It's like going to certain vacation destinations with your kids.  It's tradition.

But I don't want to spend all my time maintaining a home.  I don't mind gardening.  There are many "volunteer" flowers that come up every year.

But with the house (and yard) - I feel like I'm always behind the eight ball.  There is always a mountain of things to do, clean, sort, weed.  My sister said I should consider paying someone to do some of that for me, and she has a point.  But I don't want to pay someone to do those things for me, I want a smaller space so I can do it myself.  Much like this post - it's discovering that what everyone else wants for me or thinks I should want, I don't necessarily want for myself.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thoughts about the Ukrainian conflict

I've been watching the news in Ukraine with interest.  Obviously, as an ethnic Ukrainian I have an interest in what happens to the country.  Also as a Russian history major  I have an interest in how the two countries work out their differences.

Some brief thoughts about the conflict:
-Many Russians consider themselves the same ethnicity as Ukrainians. Ukraine is just another province or state, much like Alaska is for the U.S.  (Or  Quebec is for Canada).  So it's not cut and dry, but many Russians see this differently than Ukrainians.

-History is everywhere with this conflict.  Stalin and the Soviet Union committed genocide against the Ukrainian people. He starved millions of Ukrainians and had armed guards around the granaries.  He punished people for speaking Ukrainian. My great uncle returned to Ukraine in the 1980s as a Ukranian speaker and teacher.

Thanks for nothing Khrushchev!
-Crimea itself was a part of Russia/the Soviet Union until 1954 when Khrushchev gave it back to Ukraine in a political gesture.  This piece of land has been fought over for a long time and has changed hands often.

-In fact, my great-great grandfather lived in the same place in Ukraine but was a citizen for four different countries.  Austria-Hungary, Romania, Ukraine and Russia.  The territory has been fought over and changed hands often (as Colbert points out, anyone who plays Risk knows this).

-East vs. West in Russia and Ukraine has been a long standing tension/philosophy.  Most historians agree it started with Peter the Great.  Throughout modern Russian history figuring out that balance of embracing the west and western culture while keeping the unique parts of Slavic culture has been a challenge.  Anyone who doesn't see that tension doesn't understand some of what's going on behind the scenes in this conflict.

-While the Soviet Union was a great geo-political power, that country failed.  The political system failed, for many reasons.  Returning to those days is not feasible.  Both countries need to move forward, to continue to grow and reform.  Sure, lots of older people/pensioners in Russia wish for the day when things were stable and guaranteed.  But that stability was based on the blood of many dissidents and on genocide.  Going back is not tenable. Both countries will need to reform and make changes (some difficult changes) to make things fair and equitable.
Communist rally Moscow 1996

I support de-escalation of the conflict - a diplomatic solution.  There may yet be a diplomatic solution possible.

I don't support countries invading other countries' sovereign territory.  I support Ukraine.

It is in the U.S. interest for both our political parties to work together for a resolution to this conflict - not to let party politics get in the way.

I don't want to see open war between the two countries, and I hope that doesn't happen.  It would be (for me) a little like the U.S. going to war with Canada.  It would be a poor solution and no one would win.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oh yeah, I used to be mormon once

It was a little over twenty years ago that I stopped believing in mormonism.  I still attended the main church service (sacrament meeting), but it was under subtle and not so subtle protest. (Some not so subtle protests included doing homework during the sacrament meeting service and wearing pants I had made myself.  Unfortunately I do not have a photo of myself wearing those pants, which were amazing).

So I was shocked and amused recently when one of my husband's friends didn't believe that I used to be mormon, and thought maybe I had been part of an offshoot sect.

With all due respect, I have plenty of mormon cred.  Baptized at 8 - I remember going to the Washington D.C. temple with my parents, and folding my arms and being especially quiet to be reverent in the visitor's center. Just being that close to the temple was special and holy. (For the record, this would show some of my early tendency towards scrupulosity).  I remember wanting to sing the "I'm a Mormon" song to other people to tell them about my faith.

And that's not mentioning the fact that one of my ancestors crossed the plains from Nauvoo, and some were polygamists. One (some amount of greats) aunt was married to Joseph Smith.

Maybe this is another version of the "She wasn't a *real* mormon" type criticism of former mormons.  That's possible.

But what I hope that it is is that I have moved past processing my mormon heritage and faith (the initial insanity that some people go through upon disaffecting).

Being raised mormon is a part of who I am and won't change.  And I do read blogs, listen to podcasts, participate on boards because mormons and former mormons are just so interesting.

But unlike the young family with Utah plates and three kids under the age of 4 wearing short sleeves on the hottest day in summer (and the RULDS2 bumper sticker), there's not a flashing neon sign on my head that reads mormon.  (Or one that reads former mormon).

And for that, I'm grateful.

I have worked very hard to figure out what normal is, if such a thing exists.

And I have nothing against mormons/believing mormons.  I know/love many people who are active, faithful people (including my parents).

It's true, there is a part of me who wants to sit down with my husband's faithful friend and explain all this mormon cred.  I know who the current prophet is and I know what some of the talks said in the past general conference.  Then talk about all the stuff I know about mormonism.  But I want to respect his right to his own beliefs.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sochi 1996

I have such mixed feelings about the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Sochi 1996 view from hotel
I've been watching them for a week now, and been just thrilled to see the competition (but also thrilled to see such a beautiful location).

We visited Sochi on a weekend trip back in December 1996.  We rode the train there and stayed in hostels.  Many friends actually swam (it was that warm).  I just remembered all the plants, the architecture was amazing.




But I am distressed by the human rights actions in Russia (and have been for some time).  The imprisonment of Pussy Riot, the freedom of the press.  I am pro-GLBT rights, pro human rights.  
Me @Sochi 1996

So I'm conflicted that by supporting the games, I'm supporting the Russian government and its policies.  

One thing I did learn, all those years ago was that the people were separate from the government.  That just because the American government decided to do things that I supported their actions.  And that the Russian people were generally the same.  It is a complex issue.  So I support the athletes, and I support the peaceful protesters.  

And I do wish I were there now, despite losing most of my Russian language skills.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

I won!

It was earlier this week, but I won a Brodie! I'm so thrilled!

It was for this post last March about traditional marriage.

Thanks to everyone who voted!  There were lots of great entries (as always).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January update

It was cold last week.  While I've been one to ponder the cold in the past, this was colder than I've seen in awhile.
wine bottle 2014

We had a bottle of wine in our garage.  I noticed that it was frozen, but didn't take a photo.

Once it had warmed up (from -40 F) I went back to check on the bottle.  I found that the cork had popped, without a wine opener. FYI - frozen wine is not recommended, nor is leaving wine in your garage when it's freezing.

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In other updates, my phone died.  I had wanted to wait a few months before getting a new phone.  I hadn't backed up my photos or contacts.  One day, I could no longer get it to respond when I typed on the screen.   I called customer service, to no avail.

So I have a new phone, which my kids have been asking me about for at least  a year.  I am not the type of person who needs to get the latest phone or gadget.  I suspect it's my midwestern values.  My goal, as I age, is to become more frugal, not cheap.  So having a working phone is important, but having an exciting phone for my kids is not.

I like my new phone, but I would have liked to get old photos and contacts from my other phone.  It's unfortunate that the company's policy is to delete all personal data on the phone when it arrives and to charge the customer to fix it.  I won't be shopping there again.
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As a family, we got two games for the holidays.  I highly recommend both.  The first, Set, I first played at the family reunion with chanson.  It's not easy, but it's something both kids and parents enjoy.

The second, Rush Hour, was recommended by a friend.  (My son played at a friend's party and was hooked).  I'm not going to link to places you can purchase the games - I hope you visit a local business or follow a link to support your favorite cause to order online.

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 Anyway - life is good.  I don't have much time to blog (like I used to). I do want to rehab this blog format and bring it into the 2010s. We'll see.