Garden Veggies

Garden Veggies
Made into tile for my stove backsplash

Portland Rose Garden

Portland Rose Garden
Mike and my 2 youngest sons Ian and Leif

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons
With son Beau, Grandson Luke and his mom Jennifer


I cut this out of a wedding line. I must take more pictures of her.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Written as a word of the day writing adventure - CONDUCTING

There are times in the car or at home when I am listening to my favorite music that I am transported in my mind to a stand where I am conducting an orchestra or choir with great gusto. Every part of my being feels the beat pattern and time. I can pick it up in perfect sequence in any part of the music. It feels as natural as the beats of my heart. Sometimes in church when we sing I can’t stop myself from beating little patterns under the hymnbook. I get very weary when songs drag because I have a strong sense of meter. But I am not a musician. I know a little music but very little. I learned all I know about conducting from Brother Belnap in the Wellington Church and in my teen years I had lots of practice conducting music.
Wellington is a dusty little town, close to Price, on the edge of the dessert. During my sojourn in the town there were a few farmers but most men worked in the coal mine, including my dad. There was an old school with three wings, 1-3, 4-6 and 7-9. Moving within these wings was like advancing to another cosmos. Wellington school had no kindergarten and since my birthday is in November, I was almost 7 when I started first grade.

On Tuesdays instead of waiting the usual hour for the bus after school I would tag along with the little girls my age, two blocks, to the church for Primary. My mother was not active so this was my first experience with the gospel. Today when we sing "The Light Divine," in meetings, I am wafted away to those long wooden benches in the old church. The afternoon light is soft, coming through the tall windows. I feel the spirit come into my young soul and it whispers, "God is here, for you." After Primary someone, who lived out of town like I did, would load me and my brothers into their car and drop me home. It was my favorite day. I loved Primary.

My mother began to attend church when I was 11 because some lovely women knew my mother had a special soprano voice and they invited her to sing in programs and church. It was a sweet time for us then. My mother quit smoking and was called to be in the Primary so she was there in the chapel with the soft light, after school. She always looked nice in one of her few home made shirt-dresses. Her hair was naturally curly with soft brown waves around her face. I liked it that she wore mascara and lipstick on Primary day. She conducted the music. I could hear her strong voice with its angelic tones above the children. It was good to have her with me at this time of spiritual awakening for both of us.

My mother had a strong clear soprano voice. She could have sung professional opera. I wanted to sing like my mother but it wasn’t to be. God had other plans for me. I tried. Once my mother and I sang "Teach Me to Walk in the Light of His Love," at a program. There are 3 verses, one for the child, one for the parent and one together. I sang my part, but I never had her gift. My brothers all had better voices than I did. I resented it a little. It seemed to me that my mother’s only daughter should get her talent. My mother sang with a group of ladies and occasionally I went with her to their practice sessions. They sang the "Bridge Builder" often and I learned every verse with them. I still know all the words.

An old man going a lone highway.
Came at even' tide cold and gray.
To a cavern vast and wide and steep.
With waters rolling cold and deep.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim.
The swollen stream held no fear for him.
But he turned when safe on the other side.
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Good friend", said a fellow pilgrimed near.
"You are wasting your strength with building here.
Your journey will end at the close of day.
You never again shall pass this way.
You've crossed the ravine deep and dark and wide,
Why, why build this bridge at even' tide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head,
"Good friend, in the path I have come", he said.
"There followeth after me this day,
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
The chasm that was naught to me.
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He too must cross in the twilight dim.
Good friend I'm building this bridge for him.
Now when I think of this song I know why I loved the words. I understood that bridges were being built for me.
When I was about 13 I was called to conduct the music in Jr. Sunday School. I don’t even know if I knew what I was doing until Brother Belnap came to town and I don’t know how old I was when he was sent by the church to rural Utah Wards to teach, anyone who wanted to learn, how to lead music. (I think he also taught piano players how to play the organ as accompaniment.) We met for several weeks and he drilled us on conducting skills over and over until we all could do it perfectly. Brother Belnap was young and handsome and I am sure I had a crush on him or I wouldn’t remember his name today.

I led music for years in Jr. Sunday school, Jr. Primary and Mutual. When my grandpa retired and moved to Wellington (this was his first church activity) he worked with the scouts. I liked seeing his beaming face in the MIA crowd. He often expressed his joy at my ability to conduct music.

I attended CEU junior college in Price, and lived at home, for two years. After that conducting experiences all came to a halt when I went to Utah State to finish my last two years of college. Now, 40 years later I volunteered in my new ward to lead in Relief Society once and now I fill in on occasion when needed. I don’t think I ever conducted music in my 29 years living in Somerset. There always seemed to be plenty of musical talent in the Ward. The opportunity to conduct in Wellington at such a young age blessed my life. Knowing how to conduct makes listening to music more interesting to me. There are times when I see me in my next life as the guest conductor of a heavenly choir, just like I have practiced in my kitchen, where my mother will sing the solo part. I can hear her belt out one of her famous high notes, right now. 

1 comment:

Barb said...

Love it, Charmaine! Farm. 8th ward does have so much talent in every field. It was fun to read about your childhood and music. I didn't know your mother had a beautiful voice.