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Every Life is a Story
    A place to share my own family stories

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Yesterday we went to the Dinosaur Museum. With Year-Round Elementary Schools, schools start in July, so this was our last chance for some summer fun. Except that right now summer fun means enduring triple digit temperatures, and a smoky atmosphere with all of the wildfires burning through the state. Naturally, we fled to an air-conditioned museum.

The museum was fabulous. There were many hands-on activities for the kids, and of course lots of dinosaur bones to see. We spent a couple of hours going through the exhibits, explaining the different geologic periods and what fossils they have found in each period. We played in the sand and water erosion tables, built our own stuffed dinosaur, did artwork, and dug in the sand for dinosaur bones. After lunch at the museum cafe, and shopping at the gift shop, we went home.

Yesterday was also the day that the video game "Guitar Hero Rocks the 80's" was released. My gamer husband couldn't wait for this game to come out. While we were gone, he took his lunch hour to buy the game, and come home to play it until he had to go back to work. The game was out on the coffee table when we got home. It didn't take long before we were playing.

I was finishing up some chores in the kitchen, when my youngest daughter started to play. I grinned as soon as the Go-Go's "We Got The Beat" came on, quickly finished my chores, and went to strap on the second guitar. We started playing multi-player, and when it was my turn to choose the song, I selected Scandal's "The Warrior", one of my favorites from high school. My youngest had never heard the song, and was surprised when I started singing the chorus along with the game, "Shootin' at the Walls of Heartache, Bang Bang, I am the Warrior..."

"You KNOW this song, Mom?"

"Honey, this is my music, I've loved these songs since I was in high school." I replied.

"Yeah, back in the Cretaceous Period." She shot back.

Why do they even HAVE these museums? That's what I want to know. What possible purpose could there be in arming these kids with dangerous knowledge like the geologic periods? Note to self: No more museums.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My piano heritage

I may not have pioneer heritage, but I DO have a rather unique heritage when it comes to the piano. I have ancestors that ached to be able to play the piano, and were willing to do almost anything to make it happen.

My great great grandmother wanted a piano badly, but with finances the way they were, it didn't look like they would ever be able to afford one. Miraculously, the family was able to get a piano for a great price, and her dreams came true. She loved the piano and would play as often as she could. That's when the house caught on fire. Everybody hurried to leave the burning building, except for my ancestor who pushed the piano out of the house herself rather than risk it burning up with all their other things.

My grandmother also wanted to be able to play the piano. There was no money for a piano or lessons, so my grandmother would sneak into the church to play the piano there. She told me how she would pretend the windowsill was a piano and she would play that. When she grew up she was determined that her children would be able to play the piano, but again, money was tight, and there wasn't a piano available. My grandmother got a job picking beans in the summers and saved every penny of her bean money to finally be able to purchase a piano.

I love the piano, and am grateful for my grandmother who saw to it that my mother learned, who saw to it that I learned. My children are now learning. When they complain about practicing I try telling them how much their ancestors wanted to play, and how important the piano was to them. Perhaps they aren't especially impressed by the stories, because they still complain. I do notice, however, that both of them are still taking lessons, and sticking with it in spite of the complaints. Another generation added to the generations of piano lovers.

Monday, July 2, 2007

No Pioneers Here

Living in Utah, we celebrate more than just Independence Day in July. We also have our Twenty-fourth of July celebration which honors the pioneers that helped settle the state. I love the history of this state, and reading about the things that the pioneers suffered on the trail to get here. I also feel a bit of an inferiority complex when I hear friends talk about all the great people they are related to. I have no pioneer heritage whatsoever. My family did come out west, but not until the 1920's and 1930's.

My great grandfather Edward was a murderer. The first man he murdered, the judge let him off because the man he killed "needed killing". The second was a young man who had come to the house and bothered his daughters. He shot the man as he was riding away. Now, had the man died on the property, it would have been considered self-defense. He died just a few feet OFF the property, however, and my great grandfather was convicted of murder and sentenced to the King Ranch. When he got out, he decided to take his family and move out west. On the trip, my grandmother got very sick. My great grandfather declared that he wasn't waiting for her, and dropped her off at the first family that would take her, and left. I don't believe she ever saw him again.

My grandmother recovered, and ended up marrying the son of the family that took her in. She was just 14 years old. This was during the time of the Oklahoma dust bowl, and everyone was looking to move out west. Because my Grandfather could fix cars, a wealthier couple made him a deal that if he kept their car running all the way to Oregon, my grandparents could come with them. They arrived in Oregon with only 10 cents to their name, and to make ends meet, my grandfather became a bootlegger.

On my mother's side of the family, the pioneer heritage isn't much better. My grandmother moved out to Oregon when she was a very young girl. I asked my mother, who has been doing genealogy for the family if we had ANY pioneer heritage in the family lineage. Her response was that she found one couple that settled in Kentucky- because that's where the train tracks ended.

I am actually very proud of my family heritage, and love them all, their faults and criminal tendencies included. They make for fabulous stories! I might not have the pioneer heritage like most native Utahns have, but my family made it out west. They suffered and sacrificed in their own, sometimes misguided way. I honor them for that.

"To be a person
is to have a story to tell."

- Isak Dinesen  

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