Archive for September, 2013

September 8, 2013

Music in My Life


Editorial: By Angela Rockwood

This is my Grandma Dixie and her beautiful violin.  I thought of her today as I was singing, joyously, out loud, in the car on the way home from church.

Grandma Dixie is the kind of grandma who loves the potential in you just as much as your kisses and smiles.  She sees us not just as who we are, now, but also as who and what we will become.  There are many conversations I had with her as a child that I know she meant for my older ears, in my future years.  Those lessons are precious to me. Grandma is one of the main people who taught me my family history, who made sure I knew who I was, where I came from, and what was important in life.  Isn’t that the ultimate role of grandma?  She helped give me my identity.  Part of that identity comes through music.

Grandma gave all of us the gift of music.  She made sure that her eight children had music lessons, and art lessons, even though it might have also meant hand-me-down clothes and home-made wheat bread to compensate in other areas of their family budget.  Music, art and family are that important.

When her children were nearly grown, her youngest son came to her in a fit over his music lessons. He told her he couldn’t figure out why he had to practice so much.  She told him he had a gift, and that he’d be able to use it all his life, perhaps even playing in the orchestra.  He continued the conversation in his flippant way, if she thought it was such a great gift, why she wasn’t she in an orchestra?  She went right out and joined the American River College Orchestra, and has been playing in the college orchestra every since.  She gained such a solid talent and skill, that she plays in a beautiful quartet, often accompanying weddings and other special occasions, as well as playing for her grandchildren.

For her birthday, grandma always tells us she doesn’t want presents.  She wants music.  For years we had Grandma Dixie’s Birthday Recital the day after Thanksgiving every year, in honor of her.  My uncle, who complained about expressing his music, is an illustration artist and works in advertising, using music and form to communicate ideas.  My other various aunts and uncles are all creative still as well.  One sews beautiful quilts and has painted with oils, another plays beautiful piano and organ.  My aunt Diane plays violin and fiddle, and is quite good. My mother studied piano in college and loves music theory.  She gives her own children and grandchildren piano lessons.  That’s how I learned, because not only was the gift of music passed from grandma Dixie to her children, but also her grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Last year, we had to move Grandma Dixie’s Birthday Recital to another day just to accommodate all the posterity that wished to play in it.  Grandma has 8 children, innumerable grandchildren, and many more great grandchildren.

Those that don’t play instruments, sing.  We all sing.  We don’t just sing popular stuff either, we sing our history.  We sing our heritage.  Songs my grandmothers have sung for a hundred years, perhaps more.  We sing around campfires, and around dinner tables, in living rooms, and reunions and while we drive in the car.  The skill is valuable, the tones and harmonies are beautiful, the heritage is rich treasure.

Grandma sang because her mother sang.  Her mother sang because her mother before her, also sang. This music is in us, given to us by our generations.  It is a beautiful thing.  Do I sing? For me the music comes out in paint, lace, poetry, and art as much as music.  It is all the same song.

The world has changed somewhat in the years since my grandmothers first taught their children the beauty of song.  There is something that was lost when recorded music came on the scene. Music played by the most skilled, most talented people of the day with state of the art equipment and percussion can hardly compare to a ragtag family chorus around the campfire, but there is something about music that has soul in it.

Music isn’t about perfection, it’s about expression.  We ought to sing.  We need to sing.  We need to sing together.

My children are still young enough that they don’t fully appreciate piano lessons, looking at art techniques or their mother singing in the car perhaps, but they know the music.  I’m teaching them the heritage.  It’s all a process.

Today my 13 year old daughter played organ prelude in sacrament meeting.  Friday my son served as DJ for the ward activity.  Last week another daughter played piano for the Spanish speaking ward who doesn’t have anyone who knows piano in their ward boundaries. This afternoon, my youngest daughter sang her heart out over her lunch snack.  It’s in there.

There are many things I want for my children, but one of things I want most is to pass on this legacy– that my children know who they are, feel the music in them, and however it comes, sing.

September 8, 2013

A Man From Another Era


Fashion Special: By Angela Rockwood

Troy loves to dress up.  It’s funny.  Everyone always thinks I’m the creative one, but he’s the one with all the big ideas when it comes to dressing up.   Maybe it’s just that he’s braver than I am.  Troy is a social skippy bunny.  He is unafraid of anyone or anything.  He isn’t afraid of what they think either.  He isn’t bold, he’s just oblivious to things like mortal danger and fashion faux pas.  I think that’s how he always comes off looking so perfect.  He makes me bold.

Last night he was Mr. 1973.  We went to a dance, dressed in the era we were born. Troy looked great.  He is timeless.  He can appear at home and comfortable in any era.

When we met, he was Mr. 1980-something, pegged pants, button shirt, closed to the neck.  Yep, even the top button– and don’t forget the high-top converse shoes.  Yikes. It took us years to get him to loosen that top button. He likes what he likes.

The funny thing is, we were looking through his closet and his costume isn’t actually a costume, these are his real clothes.  Red corduroys.  He wears them.  He passed up the turquoise skinny jean cut corduroys this time.  Dodged a bullet maybe on that one.  The glasses and hair are all the costume he needed.

The voyage into facial hair options has opened whole new vistas to his sense of time and style.  He spent several years experimenting on “The Quest For Every Beard Type”.  More than once, Mr. 1890 has gleefully stepped out of the master bathroom wanting a kiss.

The music he listens to?  All of it.  He loves all music.  Old, new, classic, pop, instrumental.

The tech he plays with? He is a computational physicist, working on cutting edge technology.   He worked for the company that designed the internet.  He had email when I was still faxing letters home to my parents.  I was listening to cassette tapes while he was on mp3 audio books– yet he still writes love notes on old IBM punch cards.

He is a Man from Another Era.  Any era.  It’s all there.  He fits.

If souls are eternal, that would explain it.  The rest is just dressing on the cake.

September 7, 2013

The Big Bad Bluff– and the Gift of Laban’s Voice


Special Feature Article: By Angela Rockwood

I went to go pick our three boys up from their friend’s house on Wednesday and had a bit of an adventure.  The boys had been airsofting earlier in the afternoon and then without telling me, switched plans to swim and eat pizza at the Taylor’s house late into the evening.  It took some doing, but I finally tracked them down.  I parked in front of the Taylor’s house and called Gabrien’s cellphone to tell him I was there and that he and the rest of the boys needed to come out.  I wasn’t very happy with them.  No answer.  Hmm.  I called again.  No answer.  That was irritating.  I went to the door and rang the bell.  No answer.  Twice more, three times, while still calling Gabrien’s cell.  Could it possibly be that they’d changed plans again?  No answer.  The whole house was silent.   Why do I bother giving my children cellphones??

They were probably all in the back yard.  I went around to the side.  There was a gate!  No lock!  and I could hear big splashing boys!  My lucky day. I opened the gate and marched down the dark alley alongside the house.  I turned the corner to see all the boys in the ward raucously having a good swim– dogs barking excitedly, kids laughing, clowning around, and dunking each other.  No wonder they hadn’t heard me.  At the sight of me, all party stopped, and they scrambled out, dripping guiltily, realizing the lateness of the hour.  I must have looked as irritated as I felt, because they scrambled fast and headed straight for the house, clothes, feet and towels slapping wetly behind them.  I turned on my heel and frostily started back the way I’d come.

Ahead of me, I caught a brief glimpse of a big, black, sleek dog with a stub tail going around the corner of the house into the alley that I’d just come from.  I realized that I’d left the gate open, not wanting to lock myself in by accident, and he was heading right for it. Great.  I didn’t even know the Taylors had a dog or I would have closed the gate after me.  I sighed.  Something about the dog’s body language struck me as odd, but, it didn’t occur to me what it was until it was too late.  His head was down, and in the dark, his shoulders looked bunched up.  In my mind’s eye, I saw him him gleefully bolting for the open gate, tongue lolling as he bounded down the street, never to be seen again.  He headed purposely around the corner, and I thought “Yep.  There he goes. He’s going to get out, and I’m going to have to spend another hour chasing him down the street!”  After chasing boys down all afternoon, that was the last thing I felt like doing.  I marched after the dog with purpose, not running– I was too cranky to run– but definitely with purpose.

I rounded the corner about fifteen paces behind him. I changed my voice into a growly command and throwing it way ahead of me in the dark, demanded in short angry syllables, “Hey! Get away from that gate! Get back here!”  It was a lowish voice that surprised me.  I was still coming at him, with purpose.  I thought, “Wow.  I must be really cranky.  I sure sound and look really cranky.”  He had been sniffing the gate, and the ground just outside the gate, but at my voice, he ducked his head and began heading back toward me.  “Poor dog. I shouldn’t be this irritated, he didn’t even bolt through the gate.  What a good dog. I misjudged him.”  Then, as he trotted stiffly toward me,  I realized something else.  Maybe it was all the years of listening to Daddy’s appraiser dog stories, but something was definitely not right about this scenario.  That was odd.  I thought the dog would just take off through the gate at the first sign of freedom. Well, maybe he thought I was Brother Taylor.  At least I wouldn’t have to chase him down right?  But that feeling of unease was growing, fast.  What was it?

The kids were already through the house and loudly clamoring outside, headed for the van.  Why wasn’t the dog running after them to keep with the fun?  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I knew what it was that had been bothering me, that little niggling voice of truth rose up to the surface, and became dreadfully clear.  This wasn’t a fun type of dog exhibiting fun type body language.  He was a guard type of dog in full protector mode, checking his territory for invaders.  All at once, I realized that I was looking an awful lot like an invader.

In that one crucial moment, the niggling truth gained perfect clarity as it was seared into my brain that indeed this was not a happy dog and further, this was a very big, very sleek, very muscly, VERY UNHAPPY dog, with larger than average teeth. My ruse was up.  I was NOT Brother Taylor.  He must have realized in the dark as he passed me that I was not the authority I was pretending to be.

By this time I was half way through the dark alley, almost to the gate.  Luckily I was already marching through and moving quickly.  I kept right on going.  Almost there.  He passed me, with a hangdog sort of wag, and just as I thought, “Well, maybe he’s just a fun dog after all”  he abruptly halted, pivoted, and turned on me with a snarl. Catching my eyes with his, he exploded in a torrent of slathering, biting, slashing ferocity while the nails of his flailing legs tried to gain some traction as he came rushing at me, nails digging into the cement.

With a megaburst of adrenaline-fed superspeed the Lord only grants to those of his children in extreme mortal danger, I launched past the last few yards to the open gate, with a snarling, frothing, mad-with-rage rottweiler scrambling after me.  I grabbed the gate and pole vaulted with my arms in addition to my flying legs, using it as a shield as I flew through it. His body slammed into the gate, just as it closed and locked behind me.

So, here I am, not a scratch on me, but boy did I get an education about Nephi’s gift of Laban’s voice, and the wisdom of sneaking through the yards of big dogs.

Just another day in the life of a mother, right?

September 5, 2013

For the Things That Never End


Editorial: By Angela Rockwood

We finally got our family pictures updated.  I figure it is about time.  I am one of the luckiest women alive.  My family is precious to me.  Is there anything else that brings such happiness?

I was talking to someone recently who had no desire to be a mother.  I look at my life and the changes that have come to me since becoming a mother, and I can’t imagine not being where I am.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Everyone makes their choices in life.  Through infertility, I was given the opportunity to not be a mother.  I am so thankful I chose otherwise.

“Many voices in the world today marginalize the importance of having children or suggest delaying or limiting children in a family. My daughters recently referred me to a blog written by a Christian mother (not of our faith) with five children. She commented: “[Growing] up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood. … Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get.” She then adds: “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.” –Neil L. Andersen

Family is everything.  It’s what we do, it’s who we are.  We’re interconnected. These are the ties that bind, the essence of things that never end.