Poem: Shady Grove

Shady Grove

Something about these

Electric, ocean-breezy, air-conditioned California summers is

Too easy and not easy enough.

We might all fly south for the summer,

Where it’s quiet but for crickets and hymn-singing,

To a house with a porch all around,

And a screen door that slams properly not-quite-shut,

And ice cubes that clink in a pitcher of tea—

Brewed, not grown in the sun like a corn stalk—

Sweet like the smell of a snowball bush.

“Are you hot, sugar? It stays cool and dark in Granny’s room,

And you can lie down a while.

Or else get a hat and Grandpa’ll take you down to the cemetery

And tell you about the tombstones.”

(Generations in red East Texas earth.)

“I thought we’d have cantaloupe for dessert this evening;

No sense turning the oven on. These smelled so good at the fruit stand.”

And in my all-electric kitchen I turn on

The oven. Outside it’s a hundred and two,

And I almost bought some cantaloupe at the supermarket,

But didn’t have the heart, here.

Lisa Bolin Hawkins (1982)

My Pandemic Year (Plus)-January 2020-June 2021

It began on March 12, 2020. Not that the concerns of life began then, because there were presidential primaries, the coronavirus was in the news, my right leg was aching and having trouble post–back surgery in January, and I was trying to set up ministering interviews for the sisters in my Relief Society district. But on that day, according to my journal for March 15, “This has been a crazy week with the world changing. Everything has been shut down as of Thursday because of the coronavirus pandemic. I am trying to ‘self-isolate.’” And so began our experience with the coronavirus pandemic that changed the world. We had it a lot easier than many, many people did, but it was still a memorable and distinctive, and sometimes terrible, experience.

My life didn’t change that much: I work from home; I don’t socialize often. Some things that we looked forward to (a show in Salt Lake City of the “Dancing with the Stars” troupe; the NCAA basketball tournament; several BYU arts and music events) were cancelled. I moved some aspects of life online—contact with the other members of the Relief Society presidency, the sisters in my district, and the sisters I minister to became matters of email, text, and Zoom. I began ordering groceries online from Smith’s and picking them up in their parking lot—a great, free service that I appreciated (although I wished I could select my own fruits and vegetables). Alan and I had our own sacrament meetings at home, with hymns and Come, Follow Me readings and him kneeling to bless the bread and then the water and passing them to me. No one knew how long we would be locked down; certainly the thought that all these precautions would last for a year or more was, well, unthinkable.

But things kept changing—increasing cases and deaths related to COVID-19, with many people in Italy dying and some cases and deaths even in Utah. People over age 50 were considered especially vulnerable to severe illness, hospitalization, and death, so we tried to be very careful, although Alan still went to work at his office at BYU. The stock market fell by a lot. On Wednesday, March 17, we were awakened by a 5.7 earthquake, centered in Magna, that destroyed or damaged some buildings and shook the trumpet off the Angel Moroni on top of the Salt Lake Temple—it all felt very apocalyptic.

There was no toilet paper (which I stock up on anyway, as part of our emergency storage) or hand sanitizer in the stores, and a lot of other things were out of stock—cleaning supplies were rare, meat was not as plentiful, and then occasionally there would be something inexplicable missing, like Knorr instant rice packets or cans of creamed corn. I think sometimes the packaging elements were needed elsewhere so the food item wasn’t available; shipping was also affected—but we never faced the empty shelves that were common in some parts of the United States, or the severe deprivations that people suffered elsewhere. Every three or four weeks we would go to the 7:00 a.m. “senior hour” and fill our basket, as the shelves seemed better stocked then. We never really went without anything; it changed the way we managed the shopping, though. And no eating out. I drove through Kneaders about every other week and we had Brick Oven pizza delivered a few times.

Meanwhile, my back and leg were giving me all sorts of trouble and I wasn’t able to exercise; it felt like there was an extra layer of anxiety over everything. Our daughter Caiti had been coming to dinner some Sundays before the shutdown, but said that she was around so many people and germy money at her work as a manager at Barnes & Noble that she didn’t feel good coming over to see us. So we lost some contact with her. Her employer never did shut down the store and was, in my opinion, somewhat lax concerning masking and distancing—they had the rules, but the employees could not enforce them with customers. We would take stuff to her house, leave it at her door, ring the doorbell, and then retreat down her stairs to talk to her from a distance. Our son Brian and his family invited us to join their “Zoom Church” two or three times, asking me to tell the story of my conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 17, asking Alan to tell about his mission to Japan in 1974–1976, and asking us how we met during our BYU freshman year in 1973–1974. I think Elliot and Michael were interested, although Michael spent much of the time hanging upside down off the couch. I had hoped we could have regular Zoom calls with them, but they were very busy, as were we, and we never managed to arrange it. We did start having monthly Zoom calls with Alan’s siblings and their spouses, which we enjoyed very much.

Meanwhile, life went on in some respects. I had an MRI for my back, kept working on my Zion book (how the principles of Zion can/should affect our social and political choices), the plumber and HVAC guys came to do needed repairs and checks, and the Relief Society was scrambling to keep people connected by virtual means. Alan still had high council meetings on Zoom at 7 a.m. on two Sundays of the month. He continued to go to work but was being very careful about masking and social distancing.

Masks! In March I started making cloth masks, at first the ones that look like paper hospital masks. I used leftover bias tape and piping to tie them on, and then some shoelaces I ordered. I made two each for us and two for Caiti. Then I made eight for Brian and his family. I used leftover “lamb quilt” material, which may not have gone over big with Elliot and Michael. I ordered a big roll of elastic, which took ages to get here from Amazon, and dipped into my quilt fabric and made better masks from the Relief Society’s pattern, four for Alan, two for me, four for Caiti, and I think 16 for Brian and his family. Angela doesn’t have a sewing machine so I felt that was a very important grandmotherly duty. Alan started getting more comfortable masks at work, and since I hardly ever go out, I was fine with my little supply.

One great oasis in the desert of the pandemic was General Conference on the weekend before Easter Week. We truly received living water from the prophets and apostles and others who spoke. They announced a new proclamation on the Restoration of the gospel, also a new symbol for the Church with the Christus statue as a central focus—very beautiful. (The meme on Facebook was a picture of the Angel Moroni next to the new symbol and says of Moroni: “He drops his trumpet one time [in the recent earthquake] and he gets replaced!”) We participated in the Hosanna Shout on Sunday morning. President Nelson announced a worldwide fast for help with the pandemic on that coming Friday, which was Good Friday. He announced eight new temples, including ones in Dubai (first in the Middle East), Shanghai (first in mainland China), and Pittsburgh (closer to our friends Jean and Dan). Even with everything closed, the work hastened on. Oh, and there were some great talks, too! Sister Bingham had me ready to stand and applaud (I settled for a hearty “Amen!”). I watched the first session with Alan, did mending and sewing during the Saturday afternoon session, watched the Saturday evening session while we ate dinner, hemmed up my temple dress (it was always too long and I am ¾ inch shorter since the first back surgery) during the Sunday morning session, and quilted during the Sunday afternoon session—if I just sit there and try to listen, I fall asleep!

The Holy Week preceding Easter felt more meaningful than it ever has—the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His willingness to create the path by which we can come to Earth—even with all its sorrows and sicknesses and death—and work with Him to become the covenant-keeping, spiritually mature, compassionate, patient (oh dear!), eventually exalted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Parents resonated so deeply in this time of death, illness, and anxiety. He is indeed the shadow of a great rock in a weary land (see Isaiah 32:1–2).

 I finally got to see my neurosurgeon via telehealth and he said the MRI showed the nerves had been released from their prison at L2-3 and L3-4, and there was some trouble still at L4-5 but that was “not a target of the surgery.” This would come back to haunt me. I got another cortisone shot and it helped until about January 2021.

We watched a 60 Minutes episode on a Sunday night in May and two of the three segments were about how people are suffering financially and otherwise during the pandemic. I ended up crying. Our family is so lucky compared to almost everyone else. Landlords were still evicting people for not paying rent until Congress passed a law against it—I think that is so cruel. I know landlords have expenses too but if everyone would just back off on enforcing their “rights” and stop thinking about what’s legal and start thinking about what’s moral the world would be so much better.

Although we didn’t lose anyone to COVID, we still had plenty of anxiety and grief—it was worrisome that people were not following the rules to wear masks and avoid going out. I was proud of the Church for being extra cautious. I worried about my kids and grandkids catching the virus and about all the people who were suffering in places like New York City, where the hospitals were overrun, and elsewhere. I worried about the people who were having to go to work as essential workers—some appreciated more than others—and risking their and their families’ lives in doing so. When George Floyd was murdered by the police in Minneapolis, the problems of racism in the United States were emphasized again, and there were peaceful demonstrations everywhere and even riots in a few big cities, although things don’t seem to have changed much for the better. The Trump administration never said a credible comforting word about the pandemic, which was left to the states to scramble to alleviate as best they could, or the killings of Black people by the police. Children of some of our close friends were having severe health problems, and two friends died unexpectedly of other causes—a close colleague of Alan’s and a good friend who lived in Boston. We attended their funerals via Zoom, which was a true blessing for many reasons during the pandemic, and also a pain sometimes for people who were trying to get used to meetings online. It was a strange and anxious time, and that only got us through the spring of 2020.

That summer, we cancelled all our travel and vacation plans. They started having Zoom church meetings again. As the pandemic continued into autumn, the “pandemic fatigue” seemed to get worse, as did some of the illness and death statistics as colder weather came. Once again, General Conference was reassuring and like an oasis in a desert of bad news and troubles for so many people.

I decided to give up make-up for life, and thought I was going to give up pierced earrings (I assumed the holes had grown back together) but changed my mind on the latter. My previously very short hair grew to my shoulders. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and the Republicans took her seat two weeks before the Presidential election (after saying they couldn’t approve an Obama appointee months before an election). Finally the Presidential election came and finally Trump lost, but he and his supporters immediately started saying the election had been “stolen” while unsuccessfully fighting it in the courts. It was such a relief that he lost and so bizarre that he and his followers wouldn’t accept it.

Covid cases started surging in Utah—it seemed that family gatherings and bars and restaurants were the main culprits, so of course they had closed the schools—and made life harder for a lot of parents, some of whom (mostly mothers) had to quit their jobs for lack of child care. The online school that took the place of in-person school was not as good an educational or social experience for the kids. I felt so bad for seniors in high school who missed all the fun things that are supposed to be part of that year, and for those entering universities with online classes and so many social restrictions (though some ignored them and spread COVID as a result). And for young adults who were graduating from college or graduate school, only to have their plans significantly affected or put on hold as a result of the pandemic, and their decisions undermined. And for the young men and women who were trying to decide whether to serve a mission at their planned time or to wait—the pandemic affected missionary work and sent much of it online, where it was headed anyway. But the missionaries in our area did not have enough to do, and some young people called on missions abroad were sent to missions in their home countries instead, and so missed that opportunity, but no doubt gained others. It will all sort out, but it was a hard time to be anything other than a well-established, older couple with resources and time to wait things out, as we are.

On Thanksgiving and Christmas we made our usual foods, but it was hard to take them to Caiti’s front porch instead of having the usual family dinner. I posted on Facebook as part of President Nelson’s invitation to #givethanks. I told Jack Welch that I would help with editing the BYU New Testament Commentary project, but got bait-and-switched to edit a book by Brent Schmidt, Relational Faith, which needed a lot of editing and took till June to finish.

January brought a needed surgery for Alan and worries about that, but he did fine. Also, Trump’s supporters of the false “stolen election” idea—after he urged them to do so—attacked the U.S. Capitol and would have harmed or killed some of the Senators and Representatives if they could have and stopped the electoral vote count. I watched it all in horror on TV, remembering other horrible things we watched on TV through the years, like President Kennedy’s funeral after his assassination, the 9/11 attacks, and the Challenger explosion. The insurrectionists didn’t succeed except they committed federal crimes and injured many members of the Capitol police. I was astonished that law enforcement was not more prepared, because the call to attack the Capitol was all over social media and many people were posting about their plans. I couldn’t help but think that if a Black Lives Matter demonstration had been planned for that day at the Capitol, the National Guard would have been out in force. But a bunch of crazed white supremacist Trump supporters didn’t rate the attention, and so tragedy ensued—a domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol. And still there were Republicans in Congress who supported the idea of the stolen election. It will linger on and do damage, something like the whole “lost cause” myth after the Civil War continues to do damage.

The House of Representatives impeached Trump (again) but it couldn’t go anywhere in the Senate. At the time of this writing (June 2021), I am reading The Abandonment of the Jews (by the United States and other Allies, during the Second World War) by David Wyman, and just read a biography of Lady Bird Johnson, and am living through the early part of the Biden administration. And I see that at during World War II, and during the 1960s, and now in 2021, the Republicans in Congress are obstructing every initiative they can to have the government properly involved in improving American lives, fighting racism and white supremacy, and trying to help people out of poverty and into minimally decent lives—the same problem, at all three times and at other times, too. People who are in trouble need help, and what’s the government (actually our fellow citizens) for, if not to help?

My left shoulder got inflamed and I had to have a cortisone shot. Meanwhile, the second surgery on Caiti’s hip was deteriorating and they scheduled her to have a hip replacement on February 4. She was having a hard time, in pain and sometimes having to use a crutch to get around. They changed the stake boundaries and we got a new bishop and 26 new Relief Society sisters in one fell swoop, so that made life interesting. As the first counselor in the Relief Society presidency, I had a lot of Zoom meetings all year, plus trying to somehow encourage ministering sisters without impinging on their agency, doing interviews by email and text, and creating the “Thursday Night News” each week. President Joe Biden’s inauguration put an end (sort of—lots of damage to try to undo) to a four-year nightmare. I spent a lot of time watching the news during the pandemic year. It is so good to have a decent, honest man as President.

On Saturday, January 23, Alan woke up with swollen lymph nodes and a little fever, and based on exposures at BYU, suspected he might have COVID. We put on masks and went to get a new (to us) car and tried to be in denial. On Sunday night, he started feeling worse and moved into the basement, so I delivered his meals and left them at the bottom of the stairs. He took his temperature and it went up to 105 degrees, and he felt pretty bad, but his fever broke in the night, he said. I called our doctor’s office and got busy ordering an oximeter and zinc tablets and other recommended things from Amazon (yay, 2-day delivery!). By Wednesday night, I knew that I was getting sick, too. Alan got a COVID test on Wednesday and got the positive result on Thursday. I called the doctor on Thursday and she ordered a COVID test for me, so we went to Springville—the test felt like an attempted lobotomy with a giant Q-tip. At 6 a.m. Friday I got the positive test results and when the doctor’s office opened I called and started lobbying for monoclonal antibodies, which they said I was probably too young to get. My friend Karen Lewis, knowing about my kidney disease and that every virus I get heads straight to my lungs, had given me her best doctorly advice to get them. By Saturday morning my throat hurt so much I could barely swallow, but a man from Intermountain Healthcare called and asked me questions and said I was eligible (I may have told him that I weigh more than I do). So by late Saturday morning I was at the Urgent Care, getting IV monoclonal antibodies, which I mostly slept through. And just like that—my COVID symptoms went away. I was still tired and a bit brain-foggy, but I didn’t get really sick (and the insurance didn’t pay for them—$500+ dollars; you’d think they’d rather pay for that than for me to be in the hospital, but it was worth it, anyway).

Unfortunately, Caiti was going in for surgery. Alan was just barely out of quarantine and so could take her up to the University of Utah for the operation (at 5:45 a.m.)—she had some cracks in her bone where screws from previous surgeries had been and so was ordered to keep her weight off her leg for two months, when most people who have hip replacements are up and walking the same day. Then her blood pressure dropped terribly and she was at the hospital for two nights, but she could tell right away that this time the surgery was going to work. As I was still in quarantine, she couldn’t come to our house to recover, so somehow she and Alan got her up the stairs to her apartment and since I didn’t have COVID anymore, once I was out of quarantine, I was able to bring her groceries and do her laundry and take out her trash and just visit. I took her to her first post-surgery appointment in a near-blizzard and that was a scary drive for us both.

On February 18 Alan and I celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary. On February 21, we attended our first (masked and distanced) in-person church meeting—no hymns and precautions around the administration of the sacrament and everyone masked, but still so good to (sort of) see people, and we felt confident in our natural immunity, for that time being. I got another cortisone shot, this time in my left hip—I have calcifications on the bones that are causing tendons to rub, or maybe the rubbing tendons are causing the calcifications. Whatever that problem was, I kept having trouble with it, and going back to the doctor, and getting an MRI, which showed that my January 2020 surgery did not cover as much as I thought it did. Meanwhile, I was in pain and it was hard to get things done. I scheduled surgery for May 24, hoping to resolve the pain situation and the back situation forever.

We spent some of our tax refund on a new laptop computer for me, as mine was out of warranty, at least a reasonably priced warranty. I lost some of my email contacts and it was generally a hassle to get the new one set up, but it is working well (except the lost email contacts). We waited our turns, and I waited 90 days post-monoclonal antibodies, and we did the quarantining, and finally got fully vaccinated against COVID with the Pfizer shots at Utah Valley Hospital. In the middle of April, Caiti (also vaccinated) started coming over again, and by June, we were told that we didn’t need to wear masks except in healthcare facilities and on public transportation. Things were opening up, which was both good and scary. Of course some people won’t get the vaccine (some can’t), which doesn’t help with the spread or with variants. But the case and death rates, at least in the United States, have gone way down.

My pandemic year was marked at the end with another back surgery at Utah Valley Hospital—surgery for a herniated disk that was just as bad when I had the first surgery, but that the doctor hadn’t planned to take care of, so he didn’t. So I was back 15 months later to have a similar surgery, which went fine, but because my medications were mismanaged, my three days and two nights in the hospital were hellish. And just as we had seen my son Brian and his family right before January 2020, we saw them again—first time in person since the pandemic began—in early June 2021. It was symmetrical somehow. I pray that our pandemic year has truly ended, and that cases and deaths will continue to drop in the United States and throughout the world—many countries are having trouble getting vaccines. These mRNA vaccines are a genuine miracle, and I hope they can be adapted to prevent future pandemics, which are likely to come in the future. And that is a summary of my pandemic year.

Enslaved Babies: Indexing Pre-Civil War Virginia Birth Records

Each Sunday I try to index at least one batch of records on FamilySearch.org. Last Sunday, I chose to index Prince William County, Virginia, birth records and ended up with a batch from 1857. The batch presented as a ledger with one record per line; on this page there were 43 lines, so 43 babies recorded. Each line had a space for the child’s color, and an indication whether the child was born free or slave, in addition to the expected male or female. There was also a space for the father’s name, but the instructions made clear that some fathers’ names were owners’ names for children born into slavery, and the indexing form had places for both father’s names and owner’s names. Father’s place of residence (all Prince William County) and mother’s name were also listed. The ledger was all in the same handwriting and the dates were not in order, which made me think it was probably a transcript of original records submitted to the county.

A pattern soon became apparent. Sometimes the name of the child was listed as “no name,” but all white, male children had names. The children who were listed as slaves had only first names, no last names. If a child was white, a W was placed in the box for the child’s color. If a child was not white, the color box was left blank. If a child was white, the free or slave boxes were left blank (after all, no white child would be born a slave in that era; they were all free). If the color box was blank, then the free or slave box would be filled in, depending on the child’s status. If the child was a slave, the “father” listed was actually the child’s owner (and possible biological father, given that enslaved women were sometimes raped to produce more “property” for their enslavers). The fathers’ occupations were almost all farmers, with a couple of coopers (barrel-makers) and a merchant. Free, nonwhite children’s fathers’ names were listed. For white children and nonwhite free children, the mother’s full married name was listed; for enslaved children, only the mother’s first name was listed. The relationship of the informant was, for white and nonwhite free children, listed as father; for enslaved children, the relationship was owner.

There were three free, nonwhite families listed; twenty white families; twenty-three enslaved children with their owners and mothers (hardly to be considered families). I have tried to imagine what life must have been like in Prince William County in 1857. The Civil War search engine at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, “House Divided,” reports about 1857:

After a contentious presidential election during the previous year, many Americans hoped that 1857 would finally bring political calm. They were sorely disappointed. Two days after James Buchanan (Class of 1809) was inaugurated president, Chief Justice Roger Taney (Class of 1795) announced the Supreme Court’s controversial verdict in the Dred Scott Case. The result was more outrage and greater division over slavery. But by the year’s end, bad economic news trumped the political storm as nearly five thousand businesses failed during what became known as the Panic of 1857.

 “The Year in Review: 1857,” House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/almanac/1857

Prince William County, with a border on the Potomac River and encompassing locales that later became the Northern Virginia metro area of Washington D.C., had been an area of tobacco plantations before the Revolutionary War, but exhaustion of the soil and changes in the market led planters to cultivate other crops after about 1790. In that year, the population of the county was 58% white, with the remainder being enslaved Black people; a few enslavers freed their slaves after the American Revolution (Wikipedia, s.v., “Prince William County, Virginia,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_William_County,_Virginia). Ronald Ray Turner’s website on Prince William County, in the African American Records section, lists court, contract, and deed records concerning free and (mostly) enslaved African Americans from 1784–1859, with 1857 transcripts involving rewards for runaway slaves, the rental of unnamed slaves who were part of the estate of a man who had died, and many letters and other proceedings concerning the conviction and death penalty pronounced upon five slaves who killed their master in 1856.

I assume that at the time the children listed in the 1857 record were born, the county was roiling from the brutal murder of George E. Green by his slaves Nelly, James, and Newman, who were hanged, and 14-year-old twins Elias and Eliza, whose sentences were later commuted to sale and transportation “beyond the boundaries of the United States.” (The adults testified that Green was “a hard master,” starved them, would not let them leave his property or do other things that other people’s “servants” were allowed to do, and made them work during the Christmas holidays, contrary to tradition.) (“Virginia Governors Executive Papers—Henry Wise; Commonwealth v. Nelly and Others”; “Prince William County Clerk’s Loose Papers, December 16, 1856,” obtained through Ronald Ray Turner, “Prince William County: African American Records,” http://www.pwcvabooks.com/RonsRamblings.htm)

Based on that assumption, I expect that there was a crackdown on the Black population of the county that year by the white population, with a lot of fear among white people because five slaves had dared to kill their master the previous Christmastime. Both free and enslaved Black people probably had to tiptoe on eggshells even more than usual, lest their white enslavers and the other white people of the county see them as threats, with possibly dire or even fatal consequences to a Black man, woman, or child considered “uppity.” The entire country was undoubtedly aware of slave revolts taking place from 1712 to that present day; runaway slaves were being hunted; the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 made all politically conscious minds aware of the debate in white society over whether new states were going to be free or slave; John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry was only two years in the future (Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America [New York: Bold Type Books, 2016], 69–208; 202–203; 207–208). The Civil War would begin in about five years, in 1861.

It was, perhaps, no time or place to be bringing a Black child into the world. If they survived early childhood, both white and Black children’s circumstances were probably affected by the economic Panic of 1857. They would be only eight years old when the Civil War ended in 1865, having seen the First and Second Battles of Bull Run (Manassas) take place in their county, along with other, lesser-known battles and skirmishes. The county hosted Confederate soldiers and was occupied by Union soldiers during the war; 25 places are listed on the county’s “Civil War Heritage Trail” (Prince William County, “Visit Prince William County,” n.d., https://www.visitpwc.com/history/civil-war-trail/).  

And yet, by the time the Civil War ended, those Black children born in 1857 would have been declared free. They would live through the hopeful era of Reconstruction, only to see any progress made eroded by the institution of Jim Crow laws and the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists. (See generally, Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy [New York: One World, 2017]; Henry Louis Gates Jr., Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow [New York: Penguin Books, 2020].) Between the end of the Civil War and the end of World War II, when those children would be 88 years old, they would see their country undergo years of segregation and discrimination against Black people, and perhaps have a glimmer of hope that things might change—although that hope would rise and then be dashed again and again.

As I thought of those 43 children who were defined from the beginning of their lives by their color, I realized that they now had the privilege of being indexed so their records will be available to people searching out their family histories. I have no illusions that African American genealogical research, especially for descendants of enslaved people, is easy. That enslaved children and their mothers were given no last names, and no biological fathers were recorded, means that connections are almost impossible to make without additional records that are almost always nonexistent. The Prince William County courthouse burned in 1863 (like so many Southern courthouses during the Civil War), and that makes research for the descendants of this “class of 1857” even more difficult.

Those children’s lives surely had the happiness and sadness that we all experience, but their birth in the turmoil of the mid-nineteenth century seems the first step on what, for many of them, must have been a hard road. I picture them as precious, cute, chubby babies, each a beloved child of God, their earthly parents proud or perhaps unhappy to welcome them into what must have seemed a world embroiled in trouble and uncertainty—with more to come. Some of my ancestors owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, and I am ashamed of that aspect of my heritage. I have been reading a lot for the past three years about the history of African Americans in the United States and of racism in the world. I am trying to be an anti-racist and wish there were something more I could do to advance the cause of anti-racism and see that Black people are given the help and opportunities they need and deserve. I plan to learn more about African American genealogical research and I hope to choose indexing batches where I can record more of those precious lives; lives that deserve to be recorded and cherished in memory by their descendants and by us all.

Poem: Persistence

Persistence

What time is it on Dali’s clocks? Can’t tell.

Persistence of memory is perverse—some things

are engraved in my mind as I think they happened,

but not as they really were. (I know this because

my sister tells the same, but not the same, stories.)

I’ve told my memories in certain ways for years,

but are they memories or stories of memories?

Events reel out in my mind, with jerks and jumps—

no persistence of vision smooths the frames into film.

Persistent anxieties flicker by: the projector may stick

and memory and executive function burn away

from inside to outside edge—would I know?

I’ve heard that if I can’t remember where I put my keys, that’s okay,

but if I can’t remember what keys are for, then my internal clocks

are melting. Memories persistent, but wrong. Memories gone.

I remember, therefore I am. Maybe.

Lisa Bolin Hawkins

Sacred Disruptions

In a recent Sunday School lesson, on Zoom, a couple of sisters wondered if their children had been noisy and distracting in our in-person sacrament meeting earlier that day. Other members assured them that they were not.

My husband was a member of a bishopric in a Young Single Adult ward for three years. When he returned to our family ward, one of the things he noticed was how quiet the YSA ward had been in comparison. You’d have thought those young adults were waiting at the back of the Tabernacle to hear a pin drop, it was so quiet, especially during the sacrament ordinance.

Those sacred silences can help us. As the Primary song says, “It shouldn’t be hard to sit very still, to think about Jesus, his cross on the hill …” (Mabel Jones Gabbot, “To Think about Jesus,” Children’s Songbook) and I always want to add, at the end of the song, a whispered “but sometimes it is.” We can use the silences to focus on the Savior and the meaning of the sacrament He introduced at the Last Supper. We can think about last week and next week and what we might do differently and better. We can remember our covenants. We can be grateful. And sometimes we are distracted by our own thoughts, or by other people.

But when I hear babies cry or children get restless while we are in church meetings, I often think about Jesus telling His disciples to allow little children to come to Him (Luke 18:15–17). If I had been a mother in Jesus’ time, I hope I would have tried to bring my babies and send my older children to Him. I would have liked to sit at His feet myself. No wonder there were crowds around Him all the time—we are hungry for His presence; we are all His little children.

Sister Sam Ryan in our ward described the moments when children make noise in our meetings as “sacred disruptions.” We wouldn’t want to leave our children out of our meetings—although sometimes a child needs to be taken out and calmed or fed or changed. But those years of tending to children’s needs while trying to concentrate in church meetings are all too short. Those of us who are not holding babies or sitting with children can, when the pandemic is over, help those who are. Certainly we can consider how Jesus would respond to those sacred disruptions—with love, with knowing that the kingdom of heaven is like a little child.

Family History Work as a Blessing and Protection

I have been blessed many times through family history, genealogy, and temple work. I want to share one of those times.

Heading to College with $150

In 1973, I had been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for one year. I left for Brigham Young University with $150 and a half-tuition scholarship. I also brought with me to college many burdens resulting from adverse childhood experiences that affected my mental and physical health. My mood would swing between confidence that I could somehow excel, pay my way, and do all that I needed and wanted to do, and near-despair that I was deeply flawed and everything would soon fall apart.

Although I had a full class schedule and a part-time job, I tried to spend at least an hour every week on family history research—although once you get started, it’s hard to stop at the one-hour mark! The thrill of having the BYU Family History Library and all its resources housed in the BYU campus library was an opportunity not to be missed. That may sound like a sacrifice on my part, but I believe it had a genuinely protective and helpful role in getting me through college on almost no money and with enough mental and physical health to survive my undergraduate years.

Elder Dale A. Renlund, in his April 2018 General Conference talk, “Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing,” listed among several blessings of temple and family history work:

Increased family blessings, no matter our current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect our family tree may be . . . . Increased assistance to mend troubled, broken, or anxious hearts and make the wounded whole.

If you have prayed for any of these blessings, participate in family history and temple work. As you do so, your prayers will be answered. When ordinances are performed on behalf of the deceased, God’s children on earth are healed.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/04/family-history-and-temple-work-sealing-and-healing?lang=eng

I think these blessings were granted to me and that my ancestors were cheering me on, hoping I would find their records and submit them to the temple, appreciating the time and work that I gave to remember and learn about them, and also praying for me to be blessed temporally and spiritually.

The Nancy Drew of Family History Work

This was real detective work—there was no internet and few records had been indexed. Birth, death, and marriage certificates were available, if you could figure out the county to request them from and if the event had been recorded, for a $2.00 or $3.00 search fee from county clerks. I sent a lot of letters that came back with an official “sorry.” But it was so exciting when a letter came with results in it, and another line on a genealogy form could reliably be completed.

I spent one memorable afternoon in front of a microfilm reader at the BYU library, looking at every family in the unindexed 1860 U.S. Census of Anderson County, South Carolina (almost 23,000 people, Wikipedia tells me now), hoping to find a Harper family with an 8-year-old John B. Harper—my great-grandfather, who had gone to Texas and whose parents’ names were unknown. After poring through many pages of faded census-takers’ script, there he was, with his parents and sisters. Of course, I had to look through the rest of the census to be sure theirs was the only family that fit the criteria, but how exciting it was to crank the microfilm reader through many turns, squinting at pages and pages of records, and feel the jolt of recognition when the lines of script focused into in the names I was searching for! I felt like the Nancy Drew of family history research.

I made it through BYU, somehow paid for it, earned good grades, and met lifelong friends and my beloved husband. To this day (48 years after setting foot on the BYU campus for the first time), I sincerely believe that the time I made for my own and others’ family history work led to blessings of physical, emotional, and financial health—sometimes barely scraping by, but able to get by, all the same. These blessings are still reverberating through my life. Time and effort spent in doing family history work is satisfying, builds our testimonies, and has a protecting and supporting influence on our lives. Our ancestors are indeed cheering for us as we remember and do temple work for them.

. . . keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You,”
https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2016/04/tomorrow-the-lord-will-do-wonders-among-you?lang=eng

(To learn more about why Latter-day Saints do family history and temple work, see https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/topics/family-history/purpose-family-history-work?lang=eng  To see the 2021 sessions of the RootsTech family history conference, go to  rootstech.org—it’s all free!)

Abortion Is Only One Moral Issue Involved in the Upcoming Election

The upcoming national, state, and local elections are about much more than abortion. The best elected leaders are those who can bring conscience, character, and reverence for life to every issue they influence. The defense of the lives of unborn children is important, but if we choose candidates based solely on their positions on abortion, we may end up voting for candidates who will have little or no influence over that issue but who could have important influence over other moral issues. Further, that single-issue vote may result in the election of candidates who are affiliated with the “pro-life party” (perhaps for tactical rather than moral reasons) but who are of lower character and have less respect for the U.S. Constitution than candidates affiliated with the other major party.

Moral issues influence the way government and laws affect the poor, needy, and otherwise vulnerable, including children born and unborn. They influence the manner in which those with minority status are respected or disrespected in our society. They influence the level of violence, outrage, and polarization in our cultural conversations. They influence the ethics of government and are examples of the way those in public life should conduct themselves. 

Presently, when people of differing beliefs are figuratively at war with one another over abortion, we can emphasize what is lost when advocates discuss only the individual rights of women, as though there were no other lives involved in the decision to have an abortion. But we can also avoid the hypocrisy that the unborn child is the only life involved, as though the mother is not also important. Those who support the right to abortion sometimes protest that people who call themselves “pro-life” are concerned about children only before they are born, pointing to the large number of children and adults who live in poverty and other severe difficulties. Gracy Olmstead writes: “A 2005 Guttmacher Institute study found that approximately one-quarter of women who had an abortion said they did so because they could not afford to have a baby.  . . . This might be an issue fought best not just through anti-abortion policy but also through efforts, at both the local and national levels, to empower and support women who need better health care access, better wages and better community supports.”[1]

The middle ground in the abortion debate, between legally allowing abortion in all cases at all times during pregnancy and never allowing abortion in any case at any time during pregnancy—a middle ground where most Americans’ beliefs lie, according to a 2019 PBS Newshour/NPR/Marist poll[2]—can be difficult to navigate. Caitlin Flanagan writes movingly that viewing the 3D ultrasound of a 12-week-old fetus was a “Rorschach test,” as some people see only “the possibility of a developed baby,” but she sees a living human being who would suddenly cease to live if aborted. Equally terrible to Flanagan, though, are the dreadful and deadly consequences for women of botched illegal abortions—which women can be desperately willing to get.[3]

Columnist Michael Gerson maintains that pro-life Americans are going to convince others in the abortion debate only “if we persuade enough people to join our side of the argument,” not by “gaining power and imposing our view,” and that to have our arguments associated with immoral political candidates is likely to hurt rather than help the Christian cause.[4] One way to persuade people to re-think their views about abortion is to elect leaders with the morality, wisdom, and compassion to consider the implications for human lives of every decision they face.


[1] Gracy Olmstead, “How Abortion Warps Our Politics,” New York Times, February 5, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/opinion/abortion-trump.html

[2] Gretchen Frazee, “New Abortion Laws Are Too Extreme for Most Americans, Poll Shows,” NPR, June 7, 2019, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/new-abortion-laws-are-too-extreme-for-most-americans-poll-shows

[3] Caitlin Flanagan, “The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate,” The Atlantic, December 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/12/the-things-we-cant-face/600769/

[4] Michael Gerson, “It’s Difficult for Pro-Lifers to Vote Democrat. But It’s Better Than Trump.” Washington Post, February 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/yes-christians-can-be-both-anti-abortion-and-anti-trump/2020/02/13/9afd9654-4e97-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story.html

Oxymorons

oxymoron

Oxymorons are words that contain contradictory ideas, like “bittersweet” and “instant classic.” It seems we are living in contradictory times. The little article quoted below contains some awfully great (did you catch that?) oxymorons for your consideration and enjoyment. What’s your favorite?

John Atkinson, from “At the Oxymoron Museum,”
Time, July 31, 2017, p. 26
Recent past
Lost discoveries
New artifacts
Civil war
Neoclassic
Virtual reality
Individual collections
Permanent loans
Private exhibits
Current history
Extinct life
Restored ruins
Authentic models
Primitive advancements

I think the best (and saddest) is “civil war.”

Series Rereading for Calm Bedtimes

woman reading

If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads but what he rereads.

—François Mariac

In these anxious days (aren’t we all kind of anxious these days, what with the pandemic and the need to combat racism?), I find it helps to have calm when I read in bed at night. I want to read something with an engrossing story, nothing too scary or too exciting, just a good read that I can escape into and that helps me drift off to sleep and pick up again tomorrow night. Even better is a great series, where the characters stay with me for many nights, like friends that grow dearer the more I read about them. These are all series that I reread—well-written comfort reading, like well-prepared comfort food. There are other books and series that I reread, but these are especially good for bedtime. If that sounds good to you, here are some suggestions (in no particular order):

Mitford/Father Tim series, by Jan Karon
At Home in Mitford
This series is centered on Father Timothy Kavanaugh, the Episcopal priest at Lord’s Chapel in the town of Mitford, North Carolina. You wouldn’t think much could happen in the life of an Episcopal priest, but Father Tim’s life is populated with situations and characters that will become part of your heart and rereading life. These are listed not in the order in which they were published, but in the order that they happen in the lives of the characters:
1 At Home in Mitford
2 A Light in the Window
3 A Common Life: The Wedding Story
4 These High Green Hills
5 Out to Canaan
6 A New Song
7 In This Mountain
8 Shepherds Abiding
9 Light from Heaven
10 Home to Holly Springs
11 In the Company of Others
12 Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good
13 Come Rain or Come Shine
14 To Be Where You Are

Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters
A Morbid Taste for Bones
Brother Cadfael is a medieval monk and former Crusader, living at the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, during the English civil war  (1141–1153). These are “cozy mysteries,” with a non-gory homicide near the beginning of the story, which Brother Cadfael solves. For a medieval monk, Brother Cadfael gets around, in part because he is an herbalist and so is called out to treat ailments in the town. He is a wise, thoughtful man and the people around him are equally memorable as his life develops throughout the series.
1 A Morbid Taste for Bones
2 One Corpse Too Many
3 Monk’s Hood
4 Saint Peter’s Fair
5 The Leper of Saint Giles
6 The Virgin in the Ice
7 The Sanctuary Sparrow
8 The Devil’s Novice
9 Dead Man’s Ransom
10 The Pilgrim of Hate
11 An Excellent Mystery
12 The Raven in the Foregate
13 The Rose Rent
14 The Hermit of Eyton Forest
15 The Confession of Brother Haluin
16 The Heretic’s Apprentice
17 The Potter’s Field
18 The Summer of the Danes
19 The Holy Thief
20 Brother Cadfael’s Penance
21 A Rare Benedictine

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny
Still Life
This series includes some of the best, most thoughtful books going, and the good news is that Penny is still adding books to the series. Armand Gamache, the chief inspector of the Sûreté de Quebec—which investigates homicides in the Canadian province—and his investigators Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Isabelle Lacoste, his wife Reine-Marie, and the residents of the village of Three Pines (in the Eastern Townships, south of Montreal) are some of the most memorable characters you will ever encounter. This series contains some unfortunate language and more violence than cozy mystery series do, but it is so worthwhile that I don’t care. The series weaves together art, music, poetry, and the human condition with humor and grace. The books make me want to move to Three Pines, if Canada would have me and I could find the village (not everyone can), and improve my French.
1 Still Life
2 A Fatal Grace
3 The Cruellest Month
4 A Rule Against Murder
5 The Brutal Telling
6 Bury Your Dead
7 A Trick of the Light
8 The Beautiful Mystery
9 How the Light Gets In
10 The Long Way Home
11 The Nature of the Beast
12 A Great Reckoning
13 Glass Houses
14 Kingdom of the Blind
15 A Better Man
16 All the Devils Are Here

Sister Frevisse series, followed by the Joliffe the Player series, by Margaret Frazer
Sister Frevisse is a nun in Oxfordshire, England, in the 1400s. She gets out a lot for a cloistered nun and solves murders (this being a “cozy mystery” series). The insights into the life of the period and the way the convent runs are interesting and the stories and characters are great. Joliffe the Player, a travelling minstrel, is introduced in the Sister Frevisse series and his stories are worth reading after you finish reading about her.
Sister Frevisse
Novice's Tale
1 The Novice’s Tale
2 The Servant’s Tale
3 The Outlaw’s Tale
4 The Bishop’s Tale
5 The Boy’s Tale
6 The Murderer’s Tale
7 The Prioress’s Tale
8 The Maiden’s Tale
9 The Reeve’s Tale
10 The Squire’s Tale
11 The Clerk’s Tale
12 The Bastard’s Tale
13 The Hunter’s Tale
14 The Widow’s Tale
15 The Sempster’s Tale
16 The Traitor’s Tale
17 The Apostate’s Tale
Joliffe the Player
A Play of Isaac
1 A Play of Isaac
2 A Play of Dux Moraud (this one has some sexual abuse themes and is not as calm as the others)
3 A Play of Knaves
4 A Play of Lords
5 A Play of Treachery
6 A Play of Piety
7 A Play of Heresy

Elm Creek Quilts series by Jennifer Chiaverini
Quilter's Apprentice
This terrific series, set in the present day and a bit in the Civil War era and the Great Depression, centers on a group of quilters who run a quilt camp and support each other through their personal and collective stories. These books made me want to learn to quilt, but so far I am better at reading about quilting and buying fabric than I am at making quilts.
1 The Quilter’s Apprentice
2 Round Robin
3 The Cross-Country Quilters
4 The Runaway Quilt
5 The Quilter’s Legacy
6 The Master Quilter
7 The Sugar Camp Quilt
8 The Christmas Quilt
9 Circle of Quilters
10 The Quilter’s Homecoming
11 The New Year’s Quilt
12 The Winding Ways Quilt
13 The Quilter’s Kitchen
14 The Lost Quilter
15 A Quilter’s Holiday
16 The Aloha Quilt
17 The Union Quilters
18 The Wedding Quilt
19 Sonoma Rose
20 The Giving Quilt

Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers
Sayers wrote about a dozen Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, which are fun, before she got to the books with Harriet Vane, which I find most worth rereading. These books take place after the First World War in England. The Sayers estate did a fine job of choosing Jill Paton Walsh to continue the series when Sayers’ fans clamored for more.
by Dorothy L. Sayers
Strong Poison
1 Strong Poison
2 Have His Carcase (a little gory when the body is found)
3 Gaudy Night
4 Busman’s Honeymoon
Thrones, Dominations
by Jill Paton Walsh
5 Thrones, Dominations (begun by Sayers and finished by Walsh)
6 A Presumption of Death
7 The Attenbury Emeralds
8 The Late Scholar

Royal series; Undercurrents series; Saint Squad/Guardians/Stand-Alone series; and Romance series by Traci Hunter Abramson
In a market glutted with romance/suspense novels, these books by Latter-day Saint author Traci Hunter Abramson are among the best being written today. Abramson formerly worked for the CIA and can take any incredible situation and make it credible and fascinating. The groupings and order of the list below are sort of chronological and sort of my idea of the best order to read them in—characters recur, especially in what I have called the “Saint Squad/Guardians/Stand-Alone” series; Abramson groups the books differently in the front matter of her books. The “Saint Squad/Guardians/Stand-Alone” series can get pretty exciting, so they might not be your choice for bedtime reading (but I read them then, anyway). The “Romance” books are stand-alones, with A Change of Fortune being really excellent. Fortunately, Abramson writes a new book about every year to add to your collection.
Royal series
Royal Target
1 Royal Target
2 Royal Secrets
3 Royal Brides
4 Royal Heir
Undercurrents series
Undercurrents
1 Undercurrents
2 Ripple Effect
3 The Deep End
Saint Squad/Guardian/Stand-Alone series
Freefall
1 Freefall
2 Lockdown
3 Crossfire
4 Obsession
5 Smokescreen
6 Code Word
7 Backlash
8 Lock & Key
9 Deep Cover
10 Drop Zone
11 Failsafe
12 Spotlight
13 Tripwire
14 Kept Secrets
15 Proximity
16 Sanctuary
11 Mistaken Reality
Romance
Chances Are
1 Chances Are
2 A Chance for Home
3 A Change of Fortune

Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie Dobbs
Maisie is a young woman making her way in England after the First World War. The series (which may have more entries to come) takes her through the years between the wars and into the Second World War. She is a private investigator in London but does more and has more distinctive methods than most private investigators that turn up in books.
1 Maisie Dobbs
2 Birds of a Feather
3 Pardonable Lies
4 Messenger of Truth
5 An Incomplete Revenge
6 Among the Mad
7 The Mapping of Love and Death
8 A Lesson in Secrets
9 Elegy for Eddie
10 Leaving Everything Most Loved
11 A Dangerous Place
12 Journey to Munich
13 In this Grave Hour
14 To Die but Once
15 The American Agent

Cobbled Court Quilts series by Marie Bostwick
A Single Thread
This series, set in the present day, takes a group of women affiliated with a quilt shop in Connecticut through the ups and downs of their lives and friendships. The last two books take up the life of Mary Dell Templeton and her son, Howard, two of Texas’ favorite productions, who are introduced in the Cobbled Court Quilt books.  
1 A Single Thread
2 A Thread of Truth
3 Threading the Needle
4 A Thread So Thin
5 Ties that Bind
6 Apart at the Seams
7 From Here to Home
8 Between Heaven and Texas

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert
Hilltop Farm
Set in England’s Lake District in the early 1900s, these books are a fictionalization of Potter’s life and the mysteries she solves. If you had ever told me I’d be reading and rereading a series with talking animals in it, I’d have said you were crazy, but these are really good.
1 The Tale of Hill Top Farm
2 The Tale of Holly How
3 The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood
4 The Tale of Hawthorn House
5 The Tale of Briar Bank
6 The Tale of Applebeck Orchard
7 The Tale of Oat Cake Crag
8 The Tale of Castle Cottage

Goddesses Anonymous and Shenandoah Album series by Emilie Richards
Richards has written several series that I have enjoyed more or less, but these are the ones I recommend. They follow the present-day lives of two groups of women, the “goddesses” unrelated but trying to do some good in their community, and the “Shenandoah Album” women part of the same family, in the Appalachian Mountains and Asheville, North Carolina. The choices and friendships they make come together in engrossing stories.
Goddesses Anonymous
One Mountain Away
1 One Mountain Away
2 Somewhere Between Luck and Trust
3 No River too Wide
4 The Color of Light
Shenandoah Album
Wedding Ring
1 Wedding Ring
2 Endless Chain
3 Lovers’ Knot
4 Touching Stars
5 Sisters’ Choice

Children of the Promise and Hearts of the Children series by Dean Hughes
The “Children of the Promise” series follows a Latter-day Saint family before and during World War II, and the “Hearts of the Children” series takes the family into the next generation and into the 1960s. Hughes takes us with his characters around the world in fascinating times, places, and relationships.
Children of the Promise
Rumors of War
1 Rumors of War
2 Since You Went Away
3 Far from Home
4 When We Meet Again
5 As Long as I Have You
Hearts of the Children
Writing on the Wall
1 The Writing on the Wall
2 Troubled Waters
3 How Many Roads
4 Take Me Home
5 So Much of Life Ahead
6 Promises to Keep: Diane’s Story

Cutting Your Bangs the Old-Fashioned Way, with Scotch Tape

scotch-magic-tape

Back when we were kids and could not afford to go to a salon to get our bangs cut, my sister, Rachel, and I would use Scotch tape to cut our bangs when they got so long we couldn’t stand to have them in our eyes. In these socially isolated days, when salons aren’t open or you don’t feel good about going to one, or don’t have a talented, virus-free friend who can cut your bangs, here’s what you can do:

  1. Comb your bangs down onto your forehead and into your eyes. (If you remember Cousin Itt from The Addams Family, you can put on your glasses or sunglasses and remember those ancient TV days.) Cousin Itt
  2. Get your roll of Scotch Brand Magic Tape—not cellophane tape or masking tape, and certainly not duct tape.
  3. Pull off a piece of tape a bit wider than your forehead.
  4. Place the tape across your bangs as far down as it will go, perhaps just above your eyebrows. Place it in a gentle curve with the ends longer at either side of your bangs. The tape should like a parenthesis—one of these: )— lying on its two ends with the opening toward your nose. It is especially important to place the tape low on your bangs if you have curly hair, because even if it seems like you are cutting your bangs longer than you would like them to be, once you wash your hair your bangs will shrink up shorter.
  5. With a sharp pair of scissors, carefully cut above the tape so that most of the cut-off hair will be caught in the tape, thus saving you from cleaning up almost all the hair that falls off when you cut.
  6. Throw the hairy tape away and clean up any hair that wasn’t caught in its stickiness. Resist the temptation to cut your bangs any shorter or even them out if they look uneven—this is the road to disaster, with bangs that are too short.
  7. Enjoy being able to see and not having to swipe your hair out of your eyes all the time.

You can do this to your children, too, but be careful with the scissors near their eyes. Tell them to hold very still. Anyone who has seen me (and it’s been a while, except hollering to neighbors across the street) knows that I am not the world’s greatest hair stylist. But this is a way, in a pinch, to get acceptable results when you can’t afford to go to a salon or when COVID-19 keeps you away from the rest of humanity. And the (only?) good thing about the latter situation is that it will give your bangs time to grow again and perhaps you can consult a professional next time you need a haircut.