About crh

I love British humor, pomp, and glamour; Latin color, passion, and weather. I love public television, community radio, and live music. I love my cats, my friends, my plants, and my red hair. I want travel and life-long learning. Cheers, crh

Samba Fogo!

Oh my god! I did it! I’ve dreamed for years of somehow, someday, getting back in competitive dance shape – and miraculously knowing how to samba – so I could audition for Samba Fogo, our local pro Samba dance company.

A couple of months ago, a beginner’s workshop popped up in my Facebook feed, and I jumped on it. Next week is the last of the 5-wk. course, and I’m a natural! I’m up there with the Latin girls as best-in-beginner. The ladies I “compete” with are from the salsa tradition, so they struggle with falling back into that rhythm. I never had it, so I just samba! I don’t know how I know how to shake like that, but the only thing I need is time to get my speed up. (I still look plenty awkward, but it’s in me. It won’t be long!)

This weekend is the audition for “Ala,” the community performance extension of the dance company, which I knew nothing about. I’ll be out of town camping (in the snow!). Yesterday, after class, I overheard Lorin –  founder of Samba Fogo, our teacher, and winner of the 2018 Female Malandro competition at the International Samba Congress in LA – talking with another student about what to expect. I asked if she holds auditions every six months (It’s a six-month commitment), and mentioned being out of town for this one. She invited me to join without an audition!

I’m in Samba Fogo! I get everything I want!

I get half-off dance classes, and world class training. I mean, are you kidding me? What took me so long!? Why did I live halfway ’til I was halfway through? What is that?

No matter. I’ve begun. I’m so excited! My goal is to get this binge body off of me for the last time, and settle for it no more. I didn’t have it while I was biking, obviously, but I’m 30 lbs overweight since I got a car. Three years! Ridiculous!

I do count myself fortunate, inasmuch as I could be well over 200 lbs. with someone else’s metabolism. I joke that skinny was my superpower, and I lost it. But I didn’t, really. I regularly eat 4-5000 calories a day. My best friend didn’t believe me until she recorded my intake in FitDay and saw for herself. I have a freebie.

Unfortunately, I’ve used it to become skinny fat. I still struggle with diet. My cooking classes have been inconsistent, for different reasons, but I’m making slow progress. I’m getting there. I’m totally confident that I’ll get my kit down in the kitchen.

With dance back in my life, I’m reclaiming my body, my health, my joy, for good. I’m not going back. My main concern is my left big toe joint, but that’s another story (Fibro+), a bridge to cross another day. Dancing. 😉

For the next 5 years, I’m going to practice healthy, responsible maintenance, and cruise into 50 looking like that hot shit with no right to be so high and tight, and HAPPY!

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Frontier House

I remember this rock house. My great-grandparents lived there.

Grandpa died when I was 4; Grandma lived until I was 9. She was only 4’11” and I was almost as tall as she was. I was very excited about that. That’s what I remember about my great-grandparents. Perhaps Grandma sold the house after Grandpa died. I don’t remember it after I was very young. It’s gone now, torn down.

Mormons were once inclined to write life sketches. I think my Grandpa Len wrote one, too. I don’t think Grandma will. She’s very modest, didn’t even save their love letters from WWII! It killed me! She had just thrown them away before I came for a weekend to interview her and write her life story myself. Oh, it still hurts when I think of the loss.

Great-grandma wrote in the 1920s of going shopping with her girlfriends. It was such an occasion, all the way to the 50s. People dressed for town. Great-grandma complained that even though she covered every bit of her skin, she “still came home brown!” That delights me. Generations later, her redheaded progeny would lay out all summer in the 80s. All I got was freckles, and skin cancer in 2015.

When we visited Utah while my great-grandparents were both alive, we would leave the car in a run for our lives. There was a white bulldog that came running from the large country yard to greet visitors. To a 4-yr-old girl, it was the end of times. That dog’s face is burned in my brain as it rounded the corner, as is the terror I felt at the sight of him. Would he reach me before I got in the door?!

This was an original homestead in Hyrum, Utah, built by my ancestor in the 1860s.

rock house hyrum utah

Settlers House/ Hyrum, Utah

I just found this photo on FamilySearch. I meticulously combed through the names on the left to locate my direct relatives, and to see, once again, if I could weave together the polygamous tapestry of Andrew Andersen’s family.

I’m writing because they’re gone. The sisters he married, with whom he had children, are not photographed here. This is all extended family through my ancestor, his first wife. Children, in-laws, grandchildren, of Alice Brooks and Mr. Andersen.

What of those women? This was taken, I think, in 1899? Polygamy was disavowed in 1890, in a “Manifesto” by the prophet Wilford Woodruff. Where did they go?

Modern Mormons believe the end of polygamy was brought about by divine revelation. God lifted the order. He didn’t. Utah wanted statehood by the late 1800s, and couldn’t get it with multiple wives.

Wilford Woodruff himself continued performing plural marriages after 1890 in Mexico, and technically, Mormons still practice a kind of polygamy, in the form of remarriage available to widows, depending on their gender. Men who remarry can be sealed for Time and All Eternity to any wife that isn’t already sealed to another man, however many times he’s widowed. A woman can remarry for Time only. She’s sealed already.

Of course, it’s known that polygamy was kept something on the down low, even before it was written out of our history. It was always reviled. Men were jailed. Women and children starved. But I had a cab driver once whose ancestor was a legislator at the time of statehood. He wouldn’t disavow his multiple wife, so he was run out of office.

What do you mean, “disavow”? She never existed?

How were these families supported? What of their feelings? Betrayal, heartache, confusion, disgust? “I served the Church and the Lord, and now I disappear?”

It hurts my heart, all of it.

Come to think of it, Mr. Andersen isn’t in the photograph above. He’s among the “not pictured,” top right. Was my ancestor, the first wife, also a wife left? Did she get the house, and another woman, the singular marriage? Mr. Andersen was alive at the time of this photo. Where was he? They did go on missions at all ages back then, even with families, not the pimply-faced children on bicycles of today. Why is he absent?

Where What Why When How?

The whole scenario has my head spinning. It’s painful to consider the actual people. I do understand why. It’s in Bible. These good people really, really believed they were practicing the Restoration of the Gospel. That’s what it’s called to this day. Come hell or high water, polygamy was practiced in God’s ancient church, and would be again.

But why, really? You know?

I don’t like thinking this when I remember the pretty rock house of my childhood.

Your Weird Isn’t Weird In Here

That’s the best compliment I ever got.

My friend Natalia stopped by today and walked through my place. She oohed and aahed over gold trimmings and tall, arched ceilings and walkways.

“Your weird isn’t weird in here,” she said.

“THANK YOU!”

Really, I think that’s among the best compliments I’ve ever had.

I’ve been here for almost two months. I’ve been so busy with two new dance classes, and my nutritionist, that I haven’t posted pictures. Have I?

Well, no matter. Here’s my pretty home. My favorite home. Seriously, even more than childhood, I love this home more than any place I’ve lived.

Penny likes it, too.

colored glasswomen who dared

puppet christie

Mascot for Christie’s Corner… Yank her chain!

buddhadancing catsimpressionist catsi could pee on thiswomen and cats

penny likes it here

Pretty Penny

coxy cornercricket's rock

disco shower

disco shower!

poop

A little birdie told me.

picasso

Picasso illustrates the function of this room.

T21 3.21 8.21

I know I’m crazy about numbers, but you got gotta give me this one.

My little friend with Down Syndrome is celebrating her FIRST BIRTHDAY today!!! Down Syndrome is the common name for Trisomy 21, a condition that results from an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.

World Down Syndrome Awareness Day is recognized on March 21st, which was the day last year that we found out our little girl was extra.

And she was born on August 21st. Come on!

Oh, how I love her. I wish I were in Texas to celebrate with the family. I wish I were in Texas so I could see her every day and have an active, ongoing, meaningful relationship with her instead of a visiting one. I want to be close.

I wish I didn’t hate Texas, haha! I mean, I love Texas, but only for visiting.

Rats! I wish my best friend were still here.

Happy birthday, baby girl! We don’t know how we got so lucky, but thank you for coming to us. I love you so much! I miss you. I’m glad that you were born.

My Book Is A Bust

I’ve joked for decades that the title of my memoir would be My Parents Are Too Closely Related And That’s The Problem. The hook would be to open to a standard family tree that shows how my early polygamous ancestors all married each other.

I confess I’m more of a talker than a doer, so I never did set out to see if such a thing might be possible. My voyage through FamilySearch.com last week got me energized, and today I searched for that union.

In fact, only one ancestor on my mother’s side was a polygamist. There were quite a few on my dad’s side.

One bigamous marriage seemed to be quite satisfactory for all involved. He had some material success and took a second wife, my ancestor, who named one of her daughters after the first wife. She wrote very highly of him in her own life sketch. She died young, and he never took another wife. He and his first wife were childhood sweethearts and each died very, very old.

(It’s a common claim in the modern church that polygamy was only practiced by the wealthy. In this case, that seems to be true, but I suspect that’s a bit of whitewashing.)

I was in a show once where one of the cast-members told me she thought we might be related. Her grandmother had my last name. “Then we are,” I answered. “I’ll found out how and let you know.” (It’s an unusual surname.)

I went to the next rehearsal with news. “Mr. So-and-so married such-and-such a gal. Later, he took a second wife. You’re from wife one. I’m from wife two,” I reported, laughing. Polygamy is just totally absurd and laughable to me. Maybe because none of the dogma ever rang true, I’m able to get a strange kick out of it. I mean, it’s a really trippy thing to trace your existence to such a bizarre and scandalous period of history.

My poor friend, now cousin, wasn’t remotely amused. Her whole energy sank. She’s still devout, and it’s a humiliating piece of who we are. We sanitize it and distance ourselves from it, excommunicating anyone who continues to practice it – for over a century now – but it’s still who we are and where we come from, and the reality of present-day extremist communities that dot the West are our legacy. That has to be hard when you still count yourself among the Saints.

I think it’s wild, but I have a weird sense of humor.

Today, my own connection to polygamy pissed me off for the first time. I found a dude who had 11 wives. That’s full-on Fundamentalist bullshit. All I can picture is those sick towns in southern Utah, where children are married off and raped. It’s disgusting.

Those women were not happy.

(I found a woman who seems to have left her polygamous husband. She was wife #3, and died in Oregon. Everyone else in the plural marriage died in Utah.)

I have known for some time of a polygamist who was not my progenitor. He was the second husband of my favorite ancestor, Abigail Smith Abbott, who became my first angel or spirit guide. She introduced herself to me when I was 10.

Her husband, Stephen Abbott, and a James Brown (later Captain) worked together and had an agreement to care for each others’ wives and children if anything happened to the other. Well, it did. Stephen died, so James married Abigail.

They embarked on the journey west with the pioneers. James pushed across the river with supplies, promising to make arrangements on the other side and send for her. Instead, he decided to join the Mormon Battalion and fight in the Mexican-American War. He left her on the banks of the Mississippi without a word.

Abigail’s son-in-law ultimately helped her finish the voyage. He’d served under Capt. Brown, and rejoined his family immediately at the end of the war.

In the meantime, she’d scraped on a little further with another widow to a place called Garden Grove. Later, she made it to Winter Quarters and settled in for a year. In both places, Abigail farmed (cleared 2 acres of land!), taught, sewed, spun wool, did everything she could to provide for herself and her younger children, abandoned in a fort in the middle of open land. Finally, she left her garden before harvest and came to Salt Lake, feeding others who would walk the trail behind her.

By the time she arrived, this man had married her daughter. (All told, he took THIRTEEN wives!) She never spoke to him again. She built her own home, in which her daughter was welcome. He was not.

It caused something of a scandal. There was whispering among the judgy hens that Abigail shouldn’t be buried in her temple clothes, because she refused to live with her husband once she made it to the valley. (He tried to absorb her back into his harem.)

Abigail was a woman of the 1800s who did not defer to a man.

I love her. She wrote a pointed paragraph at the end her life-sketch of her personal worthiness to meet the Lord, and she was buried in her temple clothes.

Family histories written by his progeny try to rebut Abigail’s story. (She didn’t disparage him. I do. Her account of 1852 just says he promised to send for her, and didn’t. After that, she records the work she did to get out here and doesn’t mention him.) His descendants claim he gave her 28 dollars, calling it a significant sum in 1849. There’s no documentation of that and, in fact, it was a paltry sum to support a family during his 2-year absence, and to outfit them for transcontinental travel. He ditched her.

So, you ready for totals?

Eight. Eight men had twenty-seven wives between them.

In addition to Abigail, there’s another woman who married a polygamist after she was widowed. Those men are not numbered in my totals – I’m not related to them – but these two women join my polygamous history, bringing the total to 29. I should mention that this woman’s daughter also married that man (Was that common?), and there are countless other indirect relations who signed on for plural marriage.

Weird.

Depite all that, I don’t seem to be related to myself.

Damn. It would have been a best-seller. How now, cash cow?

Conversation with Cricket

I had another session with Danielle Tremblay of Insight With Animals mainly to connect with Cricket. I checked in with Penny, too, just to make sure she likes the new apartment and to see if there’s anything more I can do for her right now.

Penny likes the new space, says it’s light and bright, and warm, safe, and comfortable. She feels like I’m not finished unpacking. In fact I am, but she complained that “all of the objects aren’t out for me to look at.” I think because we’ve had roommates for so many years now she’s used to seeing the bookshelf in my bedroom, where most of the chotchkies sit. It’s in the dining area now, the least used room in the house because I’m a bachelor and I eat dinner on the couch watching TV. They’re spread out on the mantel, as well, and throughout the shelving in the main entryway, and all over, really.

It always amazes and amuses me when Danielle can tell me what my homes look like from what my cats show her. Penny likes one room in particular with a “wall of windows,” she said. “Wow! A wall of windows!” She also told Danielle that the ceilings are “very tall.” Well, yes, they are.

When we lived at Jax’s house, I asked Cricket how she liked it, and she did. She made sure to tell Danielle of another apartment she expressly did not like, showing her a narrow, dark space. “It’s true!’ I said. “I called it The Rail Car, because it was long and narrow, and it had such bad natural light that all of my plants died but one.”

Oh, Cricket.

First, she showed Danielle the image of her wrapped around me like a hug, while seated on a desk or a table. That’s exactly how we were! The exam table comes down at the vet, and I sat on a bench just below it. We were wrapped around each other, and I whispered my love to her while she purred to her last beautiful breath.

Next, Cricket gave a big sigh and told Danielle, “Mom has to know that I am so relieved.”

I knew she was. That last night was so hard. I told her a couple of times, “Don’t worry, honey. We’ll see the vet tomorrow, and you get to go.”

She said, “Thank you.” She was so tired, and also, curiously, couldn’t seem to get out of her body herself, so she needed that support. “Thank you for understanding.”

Then I was scared that maybe I’d waited too long, that I shouldn’t even have made her suffer the ups and downs of never quite finding our stable dose, but for those last several weeks. Of course, she had told Danielle back then that she was content to stay in body while we sorted it out, even though she felt lousy.

Danielle reassured me that I hadn’t waited too long. “I’m glad that you tried,” Cricket said. “It would have been a bit of a shock to go sooner.”

“She loved being with you in the physical, and she continues to love being with you now,”  Danielle told me, adding that she sits on the bed near my head. Yep. That’s where she slept.

Penny reported that she’s on the ottoman sometimes, too, next to the bed.

Cricket told me that Penny needs extra TLC, even though she’s acting normal. She’s still adjusting and needs extra attention. Danielle reported that Penny didn’t go through a period of mourning. She understood that Cricket was sick, and she intuited and understood everything that was going on. “This is what happens.” She did agree, though, that quiet time is “extra quiet” without Cricket’s physical presence.

I asked Danielle if she could tell me about the days immediately following Cricket’s passing, and you’ll never guess. She tapped into that dream! I woke up with a feeling of her on my chest – and with a cat that girthy, it was unmistakably Cricket – and remembered her biting me in my dream. Cricket told Danielle that the bite was so I would know it was real, and that’s exactly what made it real for me! It was so physical and tangible, I couldn’t dismiss it as my imagination.

Danielle complimented Cricket on how well she got my attention. 🙂

I asked about the song, and Cricket’s reply was interesting. She didn’t send it. It was from the general universe. Of course it was! I believe in a loving Universe, and I see signs and magic nearly every day. Why should Source not have my back on such a day, losing my big fat belly cat? I still marvel at the lyrics of that song, the timing of it starting – first strum of the first note – just as I turned the engine, and especially that it was a new to me. Having never known the words, I heard Cricket’s voice.

It felt as though she was speaking directly to me. I could feel her right next to me, separated by a millisecond. I could see what she must be newly experiencing, “standing at the center of time as it curls.”

It will forever remain one of the most miraculous things I’ve experienced.

Danielle validated Cricket amplifying the volume, and volume, of crickets I heard in the days after she passed. She told Danielle, “I chirp,” and showed an image of a megaphone. It’s true! The crickets were louder in the days following her passing. I haven’t been in my home long enough to grow numb to the sounds of it, but already that chorus is quieter than those first astounding nights. It was deafening!

Danielle was quite amazed herself by the moments Cricket and I were describing, and Cricket said to her, “Well, it’s all real, Danielle!”

“I don’t doubt that it’s real,” she chuckled.

Cricket told her she knows that most people don’t often believe or understand.

Cricket also told Danielle that sometimes humans who are in distress at the passing of another “almost un-gel” from their bodies. According to Cricket, that’s why Penny sat on me like she did those first three mornings. If I hadn’t had to get up, she’d have stayed there all day. Normally, she’d wake me and then head straight for her food after a cuddle and a kiss or two. I love her for holding me.

It’s so Penny to do so. In our first meeting with Danielle, Penny said it was her job to care for the grounds, to sweep energy. She did “rounds” several times a day, walking through every room but one in Jax’s house. (That was a curious detail to get right.)

I’ve always called her The Queen. I teased her that it’s all hers, everything under the sun. In fact, it’s hers because it’s her job. She’s proud of her work and takes it seriously.

I’m glad it’s her job to take care of me. Oh, Penny. You started it all, this feline magic.

Danielle was so supportive and validating. She said that the three of us are co-creating all of this together, and we have a beautiful connection that she appreciated witnessing.

I’m so grateful for her. It was everything I wanted and more.

Cricket’s paw print arrived just days before the reading, perfectly cricky, just like her.

Cricket's paw print

At first glance, I didn’t like it. You can tell she’s not pushing back and her claws are wonky. It quickly grew on me. It suits her. She was always just a little “off.” She reminds me of my disheveled high school English teacher, whose slip was always showing. Oh, my sweet Cricket.

I’m A Mormon

“I’m a Mormon! Yes, I am!” It’s a jaunty Primary song we sang as kids.

Consequently, my genealogy’s been done to death. (Thank you.) I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t expect the ancestry portion of 23andMe to be interesting, because I already know it all. (I’m NOT a know-it-all!)

That’s only half the story. I was raised by my mother. I forgot there’s a whole ‘nother side to the story. My dad’s people are as American as they are Mormon. Furthermore, they came here specifically to join the Plymouth Bay Colony. With rare exception, those who came before the Mormon conversion swept northern Europe arrived in the early 1600s!

Turns out I’m a Daughter of the American Revolution as much as I’m a Daughter of the Utah Pioneers! It also turns out that the branches of family trees that reach into our colonial history are more like tentacles. I’m at once energized and overwhelmed.

Mormon history is much easier to trace. It was but a moment back, as these things go.

I want to know everything! Everything, is a lot. It’s too much! There are so many. I can never know it all! Ooph, that’s hard for me. (I’m a know-it-all.)

How do I know their ships? How do I find their war records?

I found a line that links me to Pres. Warren G. Harding (reputed, before Dump, to be the worst president in U.S. history. But that was before George W and, yeah, the dump we live in now) and to Tonya Harding, as it turns out, haha! Our ancestors go back to a patriot, Capt. Stephen Harding, who founded a town in Pennsylvania and got his name on a monument. His family split, with one brother staying loyal to the crown!

Wow.

I found a fellow about whom it was written, “He did not agree with the Salem Puritans in their extreme measures and, with Rev. Samuel Whitney, was opposed to persecution.”

There was another line of colonists to Virginia and North Carolina. Never in my life have I imagined I might have ancestors who owned slaves. It horrifies me to wonder now. Many Plymouth Bay ancestors were prosperous. I’m hoping the Southerners were poor as church mice. (Writing that, I immediately recognize that the poor would have been just as racist as the wealthy of the time. Perhaps more so, since the poor are always led to believe that the Other is to blame for their circumstance. And the rich get richer…)

Completely pre-U.S. anthing, I found direct lineage to King Henry III. This may not seem as impressive to others as it does to me, but I’m a descendant of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, founder of the Plantagenet dynasty. I’m a Plantagenet! Henry the 8th killed every remaining Plantagenet he could find during his reign, because any of them could make a claim to the throne equal to his own.

I’m also related to Charlemagne, as in Pater Europae, Father of Europe, King of The Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, and still another royal line went no further than a King of something, who was born and died BC. The Mormons don’t really go before Christ, even though the Old Testament is a part of our canon. 😉

The Mormons are right. Genealogy is fun!

I should go back to church and do baptisms for the dead for the House of Plantagenet. The monarchy can’t object. I’m entitled to do temple work for my family.

Speaking of church, just to climb down my family tree yesterday with some sense of control, I – oh god, this is embarrassing to admit – I made a list of every single Mormon convert ancestor, including the wagon/handcart trains each took across this land!

Precisely 50 persons drank the juice and came over. Three are listed in Utah Pioneer records as having come with unknown companies. Seven came after the railroad was completed, ending the Mormon Pioneer period. The remainder came on 17 separate wagon trains and one handcart company, which I’ve mentioned more than once. I’m enormously proud of my ancestors who survived the Martin Handcart Company crossing, and all of them, really – but that one, wow. I find them heroic.

It was very satisfying to wrap that up in a nice, neat bow after a painfully slow work day. I felt so accomplished. Early on, I was so tired at my desk I had that panicked feeling, “Oh my god, how am I gonna make it til 5:00!” You know? I could have continued ’til midnight but, alas, the bell rang and I went to dance.

****

Just to be perfectly accurate – we are talking history here – I’m not actually Mormon. I let them “keep my name” to bolster their numbers with my paltry one. I had no stance to take. I love my history. I’m proud of my people. I find it as fascinating and enriching as I do strange. It gives me a sense of place in history. I feel like I can connect with the religious fervor of the time, known as the Second Great Awakening. (The First took place during Thomas Jefferson’s life.) Of course, the original fever brought the Puritans.

A couple of years ago, however, The Church made a move I couldn’t endorse with my continued membership, be it in name only or not. They took away the rights of children of gay parents to be baptized and/or serve a mission, until they’re 18 and unless they disavow their parents’ union. This hurt many people. It hurt me, and it had no direct impact on me. It absolutely broke my heart. There was a lot of pain in this valley during that devastating period, and a mass exodus of those of us who hadn’t participated for many years but hadn’t made the divorce official.

Losing My Religion Nov. 20, 2015