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What is Fossilized

By Lara Niedermeyer

Sometimes I remember being there– I feel tectonic grooves being worn, the coastline cracking as ice shelves hem its edges, flood basalt hissing as it slides, geo-morphing into stairs and plateaus, the basins we quarry now, the surging mantle we scale. I breathe in sagebrush and dung, stained muslin that shifts against my shoulder blades– …

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Family à la Mode

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

A year or so ago I sent a vial of my saliva off to Ancestry DNA. The results were not  surprising since I’ve been tracking my genealogy for decades now. I’m Scandinavian (most specifically southeastern Sweden) where my mother’s parents came from in the late 1800’s. I’m also German/European where my father’s progenitors came from in the mid-1800s. There are a few other odd bits in there, presumably just to keep me engaged in family history research.

Besides my pie-chart, Ancestry DNA also lists other spit contributors who share some of my DNA.

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My Body Has Many Names

By Ashmae Hoiland

What piece of me was already squirming through the indescribable infinities of her body on July 17, 1920 in Red Lodge, Montana the day my maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, was born. She died long before I came round-headed and bald into this world, but I cannot shake her presence and the stories I barely know of …

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To Toss or to Keep: Haiku on Decluttering

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

 

Since last March I have been sorting and culling through my belongings. This is primarily because of selling a home and moving after decades of accumulating “stuff.” Systematically trying to see what “sparks joy” also sparks ennui, longing, regret, trepidation and sometimes laughter. It’s enough to drive a person crazy. It’s a stark face off with childhood naivety and the realities of years of life’s complexities. It ties you to generations back in time and makes you wonder about the next generations for whom artifacts pale in comparison to digital records and thumb drives.

It is necessary. It is brutal. It is wrenching.

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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

img_3554I’m still licking my fingers from a delicious Thanksgiving feast and already I’m figuring out the spread for Christmas. In our family, the menu is pretty similar – although the Thanksgiving turkey can give way to other main dish meats. Easter’s not that different either, although there are more marshmallows involved. Sometimes we’ll throw in a wild card – curried something, or a little Tex Mex. For the most part the recipes are the favorite familiars. It’s a way, I think, of recalling the favorite familiar people who may no longer be at the table with us.

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A Portrait in Green

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

                        My daughter arrived the other day with her husband, their two little girls and a trailer full of plants. While their family waits for their new home in Colorado to be completed, we enjoy their company and the extra oxygen the plants provide …

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Names

By Justine Dorton

MY GRANDMA HAS LIVED two lives. She’s lived one life here, in St. Louis, as my Grammie—feeding her grandchildren cucumbers dipped in sugar, taking her first driver’s ed class when she was seventy-two, yelling into the telephone to make sure her voice made it all the way to my house, bossing her daughter (my mother) around …

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How to: Keep a “Journal”

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

freezer door journal

What are your most creative ways of journal keeping? Could cell phone images of your freezer be the most accurate way of depicting you life? Is a more formal option too intimidating? Are you terrified at the prospect that “angels may quote from” your Facebook postings through the eternities? Back in 1975 when President Spencer W. Kimball referred to keeping journals could he have envisioned the “branding” we can create for ourselves in a digital age?

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Surprise: Happy, Happy, Happy Anniversary

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

Engagement photoIn July of 1994, my two sisters and I sifted through the belongings in our widowed mother’s home. She lay in a hospital nearby, unconscious and dying of a massive stroke at the age of 78. She lingered in that condition for nearly three weeks before she finally passed.

During those weeks, we hunted through the disarray of her home for documents, policies, and other papers that might be helpful for the disposition of her estate. It was grim and devastating work.

One trip to the dumpster behind her apartment complex allowed me (at last) to get rid of the embarrassingly poor plaster sculpture I’d made in high school two decades previously. I had never liked it, but my mom kept it in a place of honor. While there was a frisson of relief to see that thing go, my knees buckled with wordless grief when a set of Mom’s dentures tumbled with other “trash” into the dumpster, too. That she would never need them, never speak again, was more than I could fathom. My being the only Mormon in the family didn’t make my grief any easier to bear right in the midst of our loss.

My sisters Susan and Holly meanwhile had discovered Mom’s car insurance policy tucked into the 50th Rockford High School reunion program; stock certificates for companies long since defunct in one stack of papers; and boxes of old family photos – few of them labeled.

Holly pulled a small metal lock box out from one pile. Among the papers inside was one that baffled us all.

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