Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Making it work with another try

By Louise R. Shaw           

                I’d been there with my family some years earlier and was anxious to share it with my new husband, even if it meant spending part of the day on a long drive up a winding road when we could be sitting on a beach.

                There are just some things worth driving long distances for and the overlook of the Na Pali Coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai is one of them.

The Kalalau Lookout is 4,000-feet above sea level and the view into the ridges and peaks and valley below is nothing short of spectacular. The drive along Waimea Canyon, what has become known as “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” is also pretty breathtakingly amazing.

                We ascended, stopping at all lookouts, as is my want, and noticing as we did that more and more clouds were filling the sky.

                Four-thousand feet is pretty high up there. Even clouds are comfortable at 4,000 feet and sure enough, as we drove the last few hundred feet to the very end of the drive, we were enveloped in a cloud.

                And in that particular cloud, there were no views past the end of our arms, much less along the rugged cliffs of the Na Pali and down the Kalalau Valley to the ocean and beyond.

                It was a disappointment, but at least it wasn’t snowing like the time a few days earlier when we’d gotten up in the wee hours of the morning and driven up 10,000 feet to see the sunrise over Haleakala crater on Maui, just like everybody said you should.

Turns out you only should if you check the weather report first.

Sometimes you’re better off just sleeping in. And then sitting on a beach.

But we sighed and shrugged and tried not to be angry or disappointed and our nine-month-old marriage survived. And later we laughed and told the story and others laughed with us.

And now we are approaching our 42nd year together and there have been all kinds of sighs and shrugs and trying not to be angry or disappointed and laughing and sharing and learning along the way.

Sometimes the views have been clouded in. Sometimes they have been spectacular.

We kept at it.

It was a full 35 years later when we next attempted the 18-mile drive from sea level on the south shore of Kauai to the overlook on the north.

This time we knew better. This time we checked the weather report (easier now with internet) and got up early and drove straight to the top, where the views were … true to expectation … spectacular.

And we hiked around in warm sunshine and I took pictures from every possible angle – twice. Or maybe four times.

As we finished our hike the clouds started to fill in, at first dancing around the trees and cliffs, then filling them all in.

On the way back to our car, we passed a young couple who’d just pulled in.

By now, there was nothing but cloud to see.

We greeted them but said nothing at all about the conditions.

Until they asked.

Was it clear this morning? she said.

Yes, we answered, watching them smile and shrug and try not to be disappointed.

We were you 35 years ago, we said.

We missed the view then too, but we came back.

I hope they will too.

Because after that first time you know better when to come. You know to wait for the right conditions. To start early. Not to be distracted.

And it works.

And when it doesn’t work the first time, it’s even better the second.

Just don’t give up.





Monday, December 26, 2022

Being there for the news

 By Louise R. Shaw

              I no longer fall for it when anybody within 10 feet of me says something like, “It’s impossible to find news that’s fair.”

              Now that I think about it, I never really fell for it. But I used to let it go.

              I no longer let it go.

              You can find news that’s fair.

              And you need to.

              You’ll find it in the news section of a newspaper or on a news broadcast of any network channel and most streaming channels.

              And you’ll be better off for finding it. For finding just a straight up news broadcast or newspaper with straight up news.

              Because you’ll know what’s happening in the world, in the nation, in your community, depending on the scope of your media.

              And then, if you want some color, some righteous indignation, some reinforcement of your own opinions, you can read the opinion sections or watch the cable pundits or scroll Facebook according to your tastes.

As long as you note the difference.

There is news and there are views and they might be just a page or a channel apart, but the way you read or hear them should be miles different.

Thanks to the day and time we live in, if you still aren’t sure you’re getting it straight, there’s another option.

              Now that we all have Internet and now that Google can find anything we want to know and YouTube can show us anything we want to see, we can get our news unfiltered.

              We often can go right to the source and see the event for ourselves.

              City council meetings. Presidential speeches. Awards ceremonies. U.N. talks. Press conferences.

              It’s one of the amazing positives of the time we live in and one we can take advantage of when we want to make sure we are getting things straight.

              You can’t watch everything, even on delay. That’s why news in newspapers and on broadcasts is so valuable. But only so much fits in a headline.

And only so much even fits in an article and it’s what the writer deems most important.

              I can say that because I used to write headlines and I used to write articles and I couldn’t include everything all the time.

There is so much that comes from observing the body language and hearing the words first-hand, much of it that can’t fit in a story.

              Pres. Biden’s speech about the nation’s efforts to thwart the newest strain of coronavirus is an example. The headline read, “President says it’s not like March 2020,” but I wanted to know more than that and more than what was included in the article that followed.

              A quick search on YouTube took me to the 22-minute speech, where I could hear the pleading in Pres. Biden’s voice one minute and the anger another, and feel the passion in his conclusion:

“I want to sincerely thank you for your perseverance, your courage, your countless acts of kindness, love and sacrifice during these last two years,” he said, after acknowledging we were tired and frustrated.

“Throughout our history we’ve been tested as a people and as a nation,” he said. “Through war and turmoil, when asked whether we’d be safe, whether it would be OK, whether we’d get back to who we are, we’ve always endured because remember there’s no challenge too big for America. I mean this -- from the bottom of my heart – no challenge. We’ve come through better and stronger because we stay together as the United States of America. That’s what we have to keep doing today. We can do this together, I guarantee you.”

Maybe the place you get your news didn’t include that. Maybe it wasn’t as important as the parts of the speech that outlined the latest steps being taken.

But it was important to me to hear that.

              Yes, we have news. Lots of it. And when it comes from the right source it is fair.  And we need it.

And then, when we choose, we can get every last word and every small nuance by going to the source. We can read it, watch it, relive it.

Because news matters. Learning for ourselves matters.

And getting it straight matters.


First published in the Davis Journal, December 2021

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

What you learn when you keep trying

By Louise R. Shaw
First published on March 14, 2013 in the Davis Clipper

One of these days it might be necessary to admit to myself that it is becoming ever more likely that I will never be entirely fluent in French.

Despite the workshops, the workbooks, the CDs, the story books, the tapes, the emails, the classes and the trips I've dabbled in here and there over the years, I might not ever make it to conversant.

In my defense, this is not because I'm totally inept, though I may have lost a few connections in the brain - synapses or something - that younger language students still have.

This is not because I haven't been motivated, though I'm equally motivated in about five other areas and spend equal dabbles of time on perhaps too large an array of projects.

This is simply because there are just too many French words and too many ways to string them together, some of which require too many ways of conjugating. And that's not even to mention that every noun is either male or female (car is feminine, taxi is masculine) and every adjective must be either masculine or feminine to match.

It may also be time to admit to myself that all those books in my basement that I printed thinking people would want to read them, may remain in my basement.

This is not because I haven't tried to find people to love them through bookstores and galleries and websites.

This is because ... I don't know why this is because. Or I don't want to admit I know why.

But not learning French and not selling books is not failing.

And that is because of all I've seen and done, all I've learned and felt, everyone I've met and every way I've grown in the process of trying.

I loved meeting the French people (all six of them), whose English was worse than my French so they listened long enough to try and figure out what I was saying.

I've loved opening my mind to a second language and developing a greater appreciation for another culture.

I'm glad I could learn more about my own language by studying another.

It's good to have a greater understanding of what others go through as they try to learn English (which not only has more words but has more exceptions to rules).

And just maybe I'm keeping a few more synapses in the brain functioning by continued studying and memorizing.

As for publishing a book, I loved when someone wrote to tell me the thoughts in my book had meaning to them or inspired them to do something or helped them recognize something meaningful they would otherwise have missed in their own lives.

And reading again the words penned in a different phase of life has kept the memories of that phase, and all its richness and all its challenges, alive.

Sometimes trying has its own reward.

Admitting that my dreams may be a bit out of reach, sometimes because of my own limits and sometimes because of things over which I have no control, will not make me quit trying.

I'm made of sterner, stubboner, more irrational stuff.

Not making it to the end of a journey doesn't make the sights you pass along the way any less worthwhile.

There is still a chance and only quitting would take that chance away.

No matter if it's likely or a stretch, I'm going for that chance.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

When it hits you

It's been three years!! It is time to share again. 

This column first appeared in the Davis Journal in January, 2021. I hope it gave the Davis County readers something to think about, and now I am sharing it with you. 

I have been publishing a column in Davis County's newspaper for more than 10 years. My messages cover everything from politics to people, gifts to gratitude. I hope to share a few more with you, some current, some past.

Please enjoy ...   

In This Together: When it hits you

Jan 21, 2021 11:09AM ● By Louise R. Shaw

Every once in a while, it hits you, how much things have changed.

It hits you when you see the photo of your granddaughter waiting in line for her kindergarten class to start, standing six feet away from the other students. Each with a mask on.

It hits when you have to push the “unmute” button before anyone will hear what you’re saying.

It hits you when you’re sitting at your computer watching a ballet, dancers having been taped performing on the street instead of in a theater, their faces covered by masks that match their costumes, accompanied by a chorus singing from little squares on your monitor.

It hits you when you need to decide what to do at home another night because the restaurants aren’t safe and your friends have been exposed to someone who’s been sick.

And then you kind of get a twinge inside. A twinge because your granddaughter isn’t hugging and smiling with her little friends. And because those dancers can’t smile at their audience or hear their applause. And because you don’t have a grandchild on your lap or a friend across the table.

There has been a lot of twinging going on lately.

But those twinges over those little sacrifices are nothing compared to the punch in the gut you get when you hear of a group that picketed the home of a government official who was trying to keep them healthy by establishing safety protocols.

Or when you hear of someone getting a sickness that could kill them because someone else refused to wear a mask.

Or when you see someone walking around the grocery store without a mask, knowing they wore it to get in and their defiance is nothing short of dishonest.

There is a lot that we’ve had to adjust to, and some of us have done better than others.

Kindergarteners don’t seem to mind at all. But too many grown-ups have shown us their “doesn’t play well with others” side.

More disheartening than the response to the battle to contain the coronavirus, is the battle to restore civility in our country.

When you see a woman harass a United States Senator in an airport, for example, you get a twinge.

That kind of behavior didn’t used to be acceptable, much less something one would be so proud of they’d broadcast it online.

And when you see angry protestors attack the U.S. Capitol after being whipped to a frenzy by the president of the United States, you get a punch in the gut. And the heart.

Things have changed. 

We’re the only ones who can change them back.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A wish for the newest generation

While two of my granddaughters stayed with us last week, we tried to keep busy every minute.

One of the activities was to listen to a song by Lee Ann Womack, "I hope you dance."

I have a children's book in my office with pictures that accompany the song -- the only children's book in that room -- so after the colored pencils and the magnets have been played with, the globe has been twirled and the easy chair has been jumped on and spun around, the book comes out. And when I can't exactly remember the melody, I find the old CD player and we hear it sung right.

The words were written by Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers and so perfectly capture the feelings I have as I watch these little spirits take on the world.

Here are a few:

"I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes, I hope one door opens.
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance.
And when you get the choicer to sit it our or dance ..

"I hope you dance."

That has been my wish for all my children, and now my grandchildren. It is something I have always tried to do.

And it is a great blessing to see them embrace the world and its beauties and opportunities.

And stand beside the ocean.

And dance.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Bison Roundup - a taste of the Wild West

I wasn't sure I'd be the one to cover it this year, but was glad to be at the Antelope Island Bison Roundup one more time. It's always fun to see the training -- and warnings -- the riders get, to see them head out, to be at the Mulberry Grove when the bison pass, to watch the finely tuned ballet as 300 riders drive 700 bison to corrals for testing and immunizations. Like so many I spoke with said, it's a rare chance to see the action of the Wild West so close to home. I was glad for yet another chance.