Category Archives: Tales for Tuesdays

Uncle Terry

Mar

4

2012

This special edition of “Tales for Tuesday” is printed on Sunday, especially for Uncle Terry.

Where do you even start when you’re talking about Uncle Terry? In my family he was known as “Terry 1” because we had a plethora of Uncles by that name, but he was always first.

Uncle Terry could never talk without smiling. I think his smile muscles are extra short, for his mouth was always drawn up in a grin, and I never could decide if he was teasing me for being so serious all the time or adoring me because, well, he seemed to adore everyone.

Especially his kids. I never knew a dad in my entire scope of friends and family who spent more time with his kids – usually on the mountain tops. I remember the mixture of envy and terror I felt as he told me of the 25 mile hikes he would drag his kids on for a Saturday. Week long camp trips deep into the back country was how he vacationed. And no kid was too small or to weak for his excursions. Even my cousin, Zach, his son, who was born without abdominal muscles, was taken along, and had to keep up. Now on Facebook I see pictures of cousin Jeremy and his kids  – little toddlers out in the wilderness, and I laugh inwardly and feel the same mixture of delight and horror as he is doing the same thing.

It was the day after Christmas in 1996 – and my parents waved goodbye to Danny (18), me (17), Larry (15) and the little people in our family as we drove over five hundred miles in the old blue suburban to see Aunt Jill and Uncle Terry, who had invited us for a visit.

And it became a little nerve wracking as we drove over the Sierra Nevada mountains in a snow storm, and the Burb kept overheating. Danny would drive for a while ’til the thermostat was too much to ignore. Then we’d pull over, open the hood, and do the only thing we could think of to cool the car down – throw the accumulating snow from the side of the road onto the steaming engine.

Finally we couldn’t go any further, so, while Danny and the kids waited, I thumbed a ride into the next town to call Uncle Terry to come get us.

And when he came he had his typical grin, which made the stressful situation turn instantly into a silly and great adventure to tell my kids – someday.


This week we had the tragic news of Uncle Terry’s diagnosis of a terminal cancer. His time is limited, but his life seemed to be lived so fully, how can there be tragedy in that? The greatest sadness will only be for those of us who still need his grin to remind us not to take everything so serious, and to keep looking for the adventure in it all.





I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.






Painting the Roses Red
Or, dying the towels pink

Feb

28

2012

When I was nineteen I spent a semester living in Moscow.

And one time we went on a grand trip through northern Russia, across the border to Helsinki, Finland where this story begins, and then across the Baltic to Stockholm, Sweden, where this story ends.

Now, we start in Helsinki, where we arrived at five am after an overnight bus ride from St. Petersburg. Six of us girls stayed with an LDS family who lived outside the city. We spent the day in Helsinki, shopping, seeing the sights, etc. But when it came time to return to Ruska’s house (Ruska was the teenage girl of the host family), someone had the bright idea that we should all dye our hair matching shades of wild red. Michelle opted out, but the rest of us bought our own two-week-wash-out in the shade of our choice.

Now really, if your house was invaded by six foreign teenage girls, would you want them all in your bathroom, dying their hair? I cringe at the memory of this, but still, we did it, and had a grand time in doing so.

Big Trip Helsinki Dying Our Hair
In the process of dying our hair red. Silly girls!

And our coifs were wild and furious crimson by morning.

Well, the day or two after that we caught the overnight ferry over to Stockholm, where we planned to stay at the LDS Temple Hotel, the accommodations made for the members of the church who travel from around Europe to do their temple work. It was the nicest hostel at the best price available to us – but if we were going to take advantage of such an economic boon, we’d better do some temple work while we were at it.

And so we each brought our recommends to do baptisms for the dead, and spent the first morning in the Stockholm temple doing the work.

We visited with the workers of the temple, each were missionaries, most from the United States, called to serve and work here at the temple in the Sweden. I am relieved that they were American, for you can excuse the thoughtlessness of your own culture a little easier at times, and I hope they forgave us! Two or three girls had been in the font when someone mentioned that the water was looking a little pink. Then the girls took a closer look at their jump suits, and noticed a reddish tinge. And then the towels were noticed, bright bright red with the rinse of our hair dye!

Big Trip Day after Night of Beauty

After our fun night.

We all panicked at our thoughtless faux pas. But I remember the lovely temple matron chuckling and telling us not to worry, for hurray! We had given the women something to do that afternoon when the temple was empty, they would wash all the linens and empty and refill the font.

Oh, good grief, we were hair brained – literally.

 

 

And months later when I came home to the US of A, my sisters greeted me at the airport with bright red hair of their own, and even my dad had dyed his greys “just a little” to make good fun of me.

 

 

I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.

You can read all “Tales for Tuesdays” here.

Our Very First Valentines Day

Feb

14

2012

tonight i am typing on my laptop – something i try to avoid ever since calvin got a hold of it last spring and busted some keys – including the all important ‘shift’ – there will be no capitalization tonight. i may go back later to try and fix it. then again, i may not.

 

 

ten years ago today wyatt and i were celebrating our first valentines together by getting on an airplane and flying off to china. salt lake city was the toast of the world, hosting the 2002 winter olympics, and we were leaving the glowing hulabaloo for an unknown adventure in the heart of asia.

that morning i handed wyatt a brown paper bag – my first valentine to him – a few of his favorite candy bars for the flight, and a baseball, signed by yours truly.

and we spent the rest of the day in the air – watching the map on the in flight navigator as we climbed northward along the pacific coast, over alaska, across the bering sea and down the asian side of the pacific. it was very boring.

which sidetracks me to a list:

seas traversed in one way or another:

the bering sea
the baltic sea
the red sea
the dead sea
the mediterenean sea
the sea of galilea
the adriadic sea
the caribbean sea

interesting.

well, there should be more to this story than there is. but really, all of our very first valentines day was spent on airplanes to beijing. how romantic is that?

 

oh, don’t you worry, there will be a post tomorrow about our tenth valentines. it’s much more interesting.

 

 


Wednesday was Andi’s Birthday

Jan

24

2012

So I was going to write a “Tales for Tuesday” for her, and publish it on Wednesday. But Wednesday I forgot, I was participating in an online protest.

So today she shall have her story.

 

When Andi and I were eleven or twelve years old we would on occasion walk ourselves a mile down the road to the old Cottonwood Mall, where we would have lunch at TGI Fridays – chicken fingers, french fries and raspberry apple sauce. It felt very independent and very mature to be going to lunch by ourselves.

And the walk wasn’t so bad. There was water culvert to splash in on the hot days. There was a horse pasture where we could stop and pet an admiring Equine or two. And there was the Holiday cemetery – we never went in, but could entertain each other with stories as we walked trepidly past.

And on one such occasion we were about half way there – just past the pasture, coming up on the cemetery – when we passed by a giant raspberry bush, full and laden with the biggest, the reddest, the ripest raspberries you ever did see. They were just begging to be eaten – the hot sun reflecting on each perfect bubble of red deliciousness.

And so we helped ourselves. That bush was so full. I had never seen so many giant berries before or since, and have often wondered what particular species they were, they were so big.

We ate some. And then we ate some more. We sat down on the hot asphalt to make ourselves comfortable as we ate even more. And then, when we were sure we couldn’t eat any more raspberries, we decided to use our t-shirts as baskets, filling them with the remaining berries, picking that bush clean dry. We ate the rest as we walked home, abandoning our desires for any other lunch.

We ruined our shirts that day with big red splashy stains, convicting us of our guilt.

But of course no one knew a crime had been committed.

It wasn’t until years later — years and years – like just last year, that it occurred to me that those bushes probably actually belonged to someone.

So there they were, off on their way to work, or errands or where ever the wind was taking them that day, and they knew their bush was full and ready for them to come home and pick – ready to reap their harvest.

But when they returned not a berry was in sight!

 

And raspberries have been my favorite fruit ever since.

 

 

 

 

I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.

You can read all “Tales for Tuesdays” here.

Estonian Honey

Jan

10

2012
Big Trip Estonia Group on the ocean copy

Our group with friends from Estonia, on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

 

When I was nineteen I spent a semester living in Moscow, teaching English as a second language to ten year olds.

But that’s another story.

While there we went on a trip where we visited Helsinki, Stockholm, and Tallinn, Estonia.

And it’s at the port in Tallinn where this story begins.

We had left Moscow a week earlier, sharing the news with a Russian LDS kid of our plans . . . well, that Russian kid knew a Finnish girl from Youth Conference, and her mother knew an Estonian woman via the internet, and that Estonian woman knew some “Mormons” – and those Mormons were sure to let us stay with them.

Get it?

Russian Boy –> Finnish Girl –> Finnish Mother –> Internet –> Estonian Woman –> Mormon Family

Only trouble was, this was all hearsay when we loaded the ship to cross the Baltic sea from Stockholm to Tallinn. When we arrived at the port we weren’t really sure what was to happen, never having actually made contact with these supposed Mormons.

But when we arrived there was a teenage girl, about fifteen, and her dad standing behind her, holding a sign that read “LDS Friends.”

We figured it was for us.

Kristi, the teenage girl, had taken the day off school, and her father the day off work, because they didn’t know what time their “LDS friends” would arrive in port. All they knew was that we would come on Friday. They had been standing there all morning with their sign, watching as each ship came to port, waiting for us, their “LDS Friends” to arrive. Kristi was the only one in the family to speak English, and her father was the only one who could drive, so they were both imperative to getting us where we needed to be.

Now, to appreciate this story you have to understand a little bit about the recent history of Estonia. It was a part of the former Soviet Union, and only gained complete independence in 1994, just five years prior to this trip. As part of the post-soviet landscape, the economy was particularly hard hit, and most Estonians struggled to provide basic necessities for their families. The Mormon father who met us at the dock provided for his family by using his van in running a taxi service.

But he took the entire weekend off work that particular weekend to cart the ten of us Americans (okay, one British, and one Canuk was with us), around Tallinn for our touristy pleasure.

He also called the entire branch and arranged for housing accommodations for all of us.

But I was lucky, Lyndsi & I got to stay with this gentleman, his daughter (Kristi) and his entire family of nine children. Apparently generosity didn’t end at the American tourists. He and his wife had adopted two children from the local orphanages because they had severe health conditions (one needed a heart transplant!) and would otherwise die in the impoverished state run institutions.

That night he, and the entire branch, took us all out to see “Bolshoy Pappa” — in America it’s called “Big Daddy.” To this day it’s the only Adam Sandler movie that I like, and it’s only because of my memories of this weekend.

Anyway, he wouldn’t let us pay for our own tickets. Believe me, we tried. When was the last time you paid for ten extra people at the movie theater?

The next day we needed to run some errands to the embassy and Russian embassy for visas and what not. Then he carted us around to all the beautiful and amazing sights the city had to offer. Tallinn really is the best kept secret in Europe in my opinion. It was such a beautiful city.

Well, it turned out we chose the VERY BEST WEEKEND to visit Estonia, because that Sunday they were dedicating the very first chapel in all of the Baltic States! So that Saturday night there was an open house at the chapel and a dance. It was so much fun to spend an evening with the Saints and missionaries from all over Tallinn as they celebrated their new building.

That night Kristi and her dad drove everyone home (oh yeah, Kristi’s dad also gave everyone rides to church each week – picking up branch members from all over the city because he was one of the few who owned his own vehicle).

And then he took us home, but on our way he stopped at a gas station by the sea, and got us each hot dogs. Gas station hot dogs are the best, even in Estonia. So we sat by the sea, and watched the stars and ate hot dogs, and it might have been the best night ever.

The next day was the dedication of the chapel. As the intermittent hymn we sang “The Spirit of God” and man, oh man the spirit was strong when three languages (Finnish, English and Estonian) each sang the hymn and then all came together for the “Hosanna.”

That afternoon we had to board our train back to Moscow. We set our bags out and gave hugs to our unbelievable hosts. Our Estonian mother gave Lyndsi and I a bag of food to share with the others on the train. In the bag was enough food to last the ten of us a week! As she gave us our final hugs she handed each of us a little glass jar. In it was her own home-grown honey from her own bees she kept behind her house. With tears in her eyes she told us that she hoped to someday be able to go to the temple, though she couldn’t imagine how. I couldn’t either, but I hoped.

A year later or so President Hinkley announced that a temple would be built in Helsinki, and my heart flew with happiness. Helsinki was just a short boat trip across the sea and surely my Estonian mother would be able to go to the temple as she wished.

These days life is very busy. Life is very full. Wyatt and I each comment at times that though we’ve had our own adventures in our youth, they dim in our memories in comparison the the adventures of today. But when ever I pull out a new bottle of honey, I always think of my Estonian family, of the sacrifices they made for me, a complete stranger. I think about how I will never be able to repay them. I think about how my testimony grew on the other side of the world where the gospel was new and young and tender. I think about the stars, shining over the Baltic, reflecting in the sea, and eating hot dogs with a family who would forever be in my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.

You can read all “Tales for Tuesdays” here.

Two Travel Tales

Dec

20

2011

Today I will feature two Tales for Tuesday – because they’re both short.

One:

The Time I was Smooshed By a Large Lady while Crash Landing in a Hot Air Balloon

When I was in third, maybe fourth grade, I went on a trip to Palm Springs, California, where we took a hot air balloon ride. I’m not exactly sure what happened (adult stuff I wasn’t privy too), but for some reason the pilot of the vessel decided to take us on a real ride, rather than just tethering us to the ground.

So, off we went across the California dessert . . . until we ran out of fuel. And then there was trouble. We started loosing altitude. We were so far out, and this was the days before cell phones or what not. There must have been a radio or walkie talkie or something, but all I know is we were far enough out into the desert that we weren’t going to make it back to the hotel. So instead, we braced for a crash landing.

And we crashed.

And the large lady fell on top of me and smooshed me, which was the scariest part of it all.

Then we had to wander around in the desert until we found a trailer house and borrowed their phone and then waited for an hour for someone to come pick us up. Good times.

 

Two:

In which I was Featured in A Norwegian Newspaper During the 1994 Winter Olympics.

When I was in 8th grade we went to Norway to watch the Winter Olympics, which were being held in Oslo. Oslo is a beautiful city, and the events were so exciting. But the greatest fun was the activities after the events. One such activity was when we went dog sledding across the Norwegian country side.

Each person rode with the driver, meaning you went by yourself on a little loop through the woods and open fields before returned back to the group where the next person got their turn.

As we came around the bend back to the group all I saw was  bunch a people with cameras around their necks. So I blurted out (without thinking, which, unfortunately is just like me):

“Feel free to take my picture now!”

And it turns out one of the photographers worked for an Oslo newspaper, and my picture appeared the next day.

Oh, didn’t you know I’m an international super star?

 

 

I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.

The Roof

Dec

13

2011

IMG_4247The house in which I grew up, which was (and is) referred to as simply, “The Yellow House,” had a very steep roof. This was a simple fact of my childhood, confirmed into impressive reality when my brother-in-law, Lance, who roofed houses as a profession for a time, gave his considered opinion that the house was an 8-10 or maybe even a 9-10 pitch.

And a very steep roof is good for many things.

One of which was told to me in hilarious fashion by my brother Larry this past weekend as we were visiting him. We were recalling the miracle that we escaped our own childhoods with our lives, and even congratulating ourselves on our, for the most part, minor injuries when we recalled that a neighbor friend had very badly broken his wrist at our house.

Larry told the story:

They were playing on the pool house roof (which, it must be said, was not as steep as the rest of the roof), as the roof was being finished. There was tar paper on the bottom two feet of the structure, but above that only plywood covered by a giant tarp. As the workers were gone for the day, there seemed nothing more fun than to utilize the giant slip and slide that seemed to be made just for us.

And so Larry, so clever, grabbed the garden hose and hauled it up to the roofline, in tow with a giant bottle of dish soap. A perfect slippery mess was made, and each child enjoyed their ride down the slope, stopping themselves before the two foot edge and drop to the back yard below.

But then Josh, a childhood friend of Larry’s went very last, after the tarp was all slicked up real good. He was unable to stop himself, and fell the full ten feet to the yard below.

Surgery was required.

 

 

And of course, the story that lives in infamy in the Brock children annals happened in the snow storm of 1993. A great amount of snow accumulated – so much that school was closed for two days straight.

And when the plow came through our drive, shoving great piles several of snow several feet high up onto the flower beds, what was there to do, but to go sledding?

And so, out the upstairs bathroom we climbed, sledding tobogans tied to our wrists, as we built make shift stairs in the snow on the roof – up to the ridgeline we climbed. We walked the ridgeline to where we found a suitable launch site. The day was spent – down the roof, down the snow piles, down the driveway, down the hill to the middle front yard. Then back through the downstairs entry way, up the stairs to the bathroom, out the window, and back up the roof line.

That was great fun.

I wonder now at the water we must have tracked through the house in the form of melting snow, or the day spent with the window wide open during a snow storm.

 

 

I’m going to try and write down memories I have – for my little lovelies who always ask “Tell me a story of when you were a kid . . .”

I’m going to call them “Tales for Tuesdays” – and will try to write one a week . . . unless of course something else happens. In which case I won’t.