Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick or treat. Smell my feet.

October.

No matter where you live it's one of the most glorious months of the year, isn't it? Here in the Sonoran desert October not only brings relief from scorching summer heat, it begins the promise of seven months of lovely and good report.  Weather reports that is.  We don't have to go off to the beach seeking after them either.  Just open the door.
(All that's a reference to a Mormon thing which I'll explain later.)

October once brought me gold aspen leaves shimmering against a blue sky.  It's one of my most treasured mountain memories. Then too, the smell of fall in the high country woods is something I'm so grateful not to have missed in my lifetime. That mixture of cool wet earth, leaves underfoot and far off wood smoke is one of the best smells in life. Like a mountain creek in summer or the ocean any time.

That line of thinking brought my wandering mind to other good smells.  Life's full of them if you notice.   Like pine branches or any freshly cut wood.  At Christmas I always go to my local tree lot to buy or beg the trimmings from their trees to put in vases and decorate around the punch bowl. Our house is so little that the cuttings send fresh pine smell to fill even the back bedroom.

And one of the most comforting smells has to be supper cooking in the oven when you walk in the door hungry after a long day.   Especially pot roast, barbequed chicken, or baked ham.  Or loaves of bread baking. Or pans of rolls. Does anything on earth smell better than that?        Well, brownies maybe.        Or cupcakes.
No, bread wins.
Isn't it amazing how just a pot roast smell can make life seem so much better?  I remember a crockpot being a big help creating that "Welcome home, dinner's ready," smell when I was teaching.

And what about a clean baby?  My oldest daughter once took her children to a pediatrician she'll always remember fondly. She said whenever she brought a newborn in for a checkup he would never fail to sneak a sniff of the baby's head during the exam. She saw him.  Grandma's do that too.

They say that smell is one of the most powerful triggers of memories.  I think that might be true. I'm going to admit something crazy about one of my favorite smell memories. Even weird.  Don't tell anybody.

When I was 17 and dating my now husband of fifty years, I stole one of his shirts and slept with it because it smelled like him.  It was glorious.  Remember I was very young.  For some reason though, now that I'm sleeping with the actual man-- the smells have changed.  It's just not the same, I can tell you.

But other great smells come to mind.

Campfires when you're sitting around them with a stick and a burning marshmallow on the end.
Or laundry, dryer sheet fresh, warm from the dryer.  Even better, as I recall from back in the day, fresh and sun warm from a clothesline.

Soap smell on a clean fifth grader when he comes to your desk to get help with math is great. This happens only before recess. Then the clean kid smell changes to sweaty kid. Then too there's the hopeful, heady, aroma of too much aftershave on a gangly teenager.

Larry says, "A new car,"  but I think cars just smell like machines and oil.
He likes bacon frying too. Especially early in the morning if he's still in bed and someone else is cooking.  Usually he's the only early riser now.
And, I remember that he's always loved the smell of perfume on a beautiful woman. Never fails to notice and make a comment. And, if asked, he swears the smell he's looking so wistful about is me. The man may be a liar but he's not stupid.
He also recalls fondly the morning smell of coffee. That was before his Mormon days. He says he's grateful it never tasted as good as it smelled since he had to give it up when he was baptized.

Rain just as it starts to fall is glorious. And the smell of desert mesquite after one of our summer gully washers. That one's best in the cool of dawn, but it'll make you roll the car windows down no matter what the time or temperature.

Or a salty, sea-weedy ocean breeze.  Or grass being cut.

Or Larry's barbecue chicken when he's out on the patio grilling. That one can drive the whole block crazy.

Then there's popcorn popping, which always makes me want to put a Disney movie on the TV.

And come December slicing a lemon or lime fresh from our trees will fill the whole kitchen with one of my favorite smells.
If it's winter and there's snow outside you'll still think of lemonade. Cucumbers will do that too. Only then it's summer salads you'll remember.

Flowers like petunias or alyssum are winter smells down here in the lowland. Up in the mountains at that time of year I would hear people say "Smells like snow."   I never did get that.  But mint, basil, and tomatoes on the vine fill my patio pots in January if you happen to crush some leaves while watering.  And come March, orange blossoms send their sweet scent into the night on every breeze.

What are some of your favorite smells?

The Articles of Faith were written when the Prophet was asked what Mormons believe.   The last one is my favorite.   It ends with, "If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."  At the very least I think that means we should notice and appreciate them.

Well, the wonderful smells of life are lovely and of good report.  Praiseworthy too.  They make me grateful for beauty, home, comfort and family.  I think I should seek after some.

So I'm going to try to create some good smells today. Give Heavenly Father a hand so to speak. First I'll plant a patio pot with allysum and then I'll put a pot roast in the oven.

And I won't forget to thank God for blessing me with both of them.

* PS
A daughter called to say that I forgot a very important smell.

She remembers telling me once when she was young that she was embarrassed to go to church with her father because he smelled like cigarette smoke. I shared with her that a bishop once told me that tobacco smell in a Mormon church was the most beautiful scent of all. It was the smell of someone trying to repent, trying to live the truths Father taught.

If any of you are struggling to live those truths you now know, come to Sacrament meeting.  Sit by me and Larry.  It took him a while but he finally conquered a 4 pack a day habit. He hasn't smoked in nearly 40 years. But it's only been 20 years since he quit reaching up to his empty shirt pocket for a cigarette. Seems habit is a very powerful force.

After winning that valiant fight he took his family to the temple. All of his now grown children go there regularly. Two of his granddaughters are now on missions.

Hang in there. Father loves you. He'll help.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Kim's Hyacinth

My oldest daughter lifted my spirits today.
It made up for some of the trouble she caused when she was a child.

Her family recently returned from a long awaited and much anticipated trip to Disneyland. Their oldest of seven, Mackenzie, leaves for her mission to Brazil in just a couple of weeks. While she's away serving, the next oldest, Malachi, will graduate high school and turn 18. He plans a mission also.  It's the last time their entire family will be together for several years.

Disneyland holds a special place in all their hearts. But a trip for such a big group requires clever budgeting. There's not much money for being frivolous when you have to multiply frivolity by 9. One Dole Whip or Mickey ice cream may not be much, but the expense looms large if the whole family wants one.

Anyway, knowing this, Larry and I made up a bag with a poem and a little card with $10 in it for each of them.  The poem is one of my favorite great thoughts. A misquote goes something like this...

If of all the world's goods thou art bereft,
And to thee alone but two loaves of bread are left,
Sell one, and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

Each was instructed to buy a hyacinth on the trip.  It was explained that hyacinths are flowers but theirs might look like a churro or Minnie Mouse key chain. Kim said it was great for each kid to have a little to spend without having to ask. Yea!
Mission accomplished.

Then today she told me about her "chrysanthemum" as she called it.  It took me a while to figure out what she was talking about.

It seems they had stopped at the beach on the day before they were to go to the parks. The kids all ran out to the ocean while she stayed at the van to make sandwiches. Hard at work she looked up to see a bedraggled woman pass by on the sidewalk. She looked worn down and possibly homeless. Kim thought of her $10 and ran with it to give to the woman. She actually had to chase her. The lady was so grateful it broke Kim's heart. So she touched the woman gently and asked her if she was hungry. Kim explained that she was making sandwiches and she had turkey and cheese or peanut butter and jelly. Would she like one? The lady said she'd like peanut butter and jelly.

Kim went back to make it.

While she was spreading peanut butter and jelly she said something very special happened.  It was almost like a voice actually spoke to her.

She heard, "You're making that sandwich for me."

She started to cry.

She didn't know what else to do.

So, still crying, she put more peanut butter.

Then she made up a little bag of "kid treats" to go with it.  Raisins, Vienna sausages, and the like. She took it and the sandwich to the lady.

I'm so grateful for my children.
They're all trying to live the truths of the gospel.
Larry and I may be raggedy old converts but our kids are covering up a multitude of our sins.

Sometimes with peanut butter and jelly.

May Heavenly Father always bless and protect them while they do what they can.
May He always bless and protect you and your efforts too.