Thursday, March 24, 2011

Relationships and Snow and Cacti

I made this wordle to help me remember my one lonely resolution of 2011: to focus on relationships. I was reminded of that focus in February, when we had our Ward Conference at church. During the Sunday School session, Presidents Anderson and Petersen conducted a discussion on "Improving Marriages and Other Important Relationships." One of their suggestions was to use the language of respect and request.

They described three types of roles in relationships, and the corresponding language for each. (These are roles I've heard described before, by Dr. John L. Lund.)
  • Parent/Boss - uses directive language, e.g. You should...; You ought to...; You must...
  • Child/Employee - uses permission language, e.g. May I...; Can I... 
  • Equal - uses Respect & Request language, e.g. I would appreciate it if...; It would mean a lot to me if...; Do you think we might be able to...   
In their discussion, of course, they emphasized that in a marriage of equals, there is no need to ask permission (like a child or an employee) or to direct each other (like a parent or a boss). Good - but hard - advice.

This whole discussion reminded me of a stake conference, long ago, when John Carmack spoke (he was then a member of the Quorum of the Seventy). He taught, "There is no room for criticism in marriage." I believe this was in the fall of 1988 (we were newlyweds). After more than 20 years I have never forgotten that counsel. I've not always followed it - Jim might say that I hardly ever follow it - but I've always returned to trying to heed that advice. That counsel fits well with the idea that husband and wife are equals. As equals, we need to speak with respect, not criticism, for each other.

I also remember that Brother Carmack quoted Robert Frost's poem, "Dust of Snow." Jim & I both liked that poem, and so his quoting it endeared him to us. And thinking of that reminds me that this morning, when I looked out the window, I was astonished to see snow - not a lot, mind you, just a dusting on the pavement and on our neighbor's roff - but still: Snow? Where did that come from? And  the cold? It was 29 degrees or so when Bonnie & I walked at lunch. Brrr!

I know, I know, this is Michigan, and such things shouldn't surprise me, but still... I love snow in November and December (which is pretty much still fall, you know). I still like snow in January, and even in February (maybe in early February). But this late in March, once spring has arrived (according to the calendar, anyway), any snow is Too Much Snow.
Too Much Snow
by Louis Jenkins

Unlike the Eskimos we only have one word for snow but we have a lot of modifiers for that word. There is too much snow, which, unlike rain, does not immediately run off. It falls and stays for months. Someone wished for this snow. Someone got a deal, five cents on the dollar, and spent the entire family fortune. It's the simple solution, it covers everything. We are never satisfied with the arrangement of the snow so we spend hours moving the snow from one place to another. Too much snow. I box it up and send it to family and friends. I send a big box to my cousin in California. I send a small box to my mother. She writes "Don't send so much. I'm all alone now. I'll never be able to use so much." To you I send a single snowflake, beautiful, complex and delicate; different from all the others.
Notwithstanding the cold, and the scattered snow, the sun was out on our walk, and we enjoyed ourselves, and I have pictures to share.

I think this is a prickly pear cactus, although the thought of cacti here in Michigan still astonishes me. There are similar plants near the park (these are in Friendship Village), and they've had beautiful flowers in past years. I'll keep an eye on these (once the snow is gone...!)

Another photo from Friendship Village. I'm hopeless when it comes to identifying flowers, but I am hopeful that these are daffodils...

Just a path in the woods (I can identify paths in the woods).

Check out the birches in the background; I don't think they are bouncing back from the ice storm...

ETA: added a label

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