Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Who decided the New Year would begin on January 1st?

Since my partner in crime has had a convenient lapse in memory, I am forced to take on this rebellion in singular fashion. I'm boycotting the New Year beginining on January 1st. Not that I'm a religious resolution-setter anyway, but still. Think about it:

  • I'm supposed to be all googly excited about new starts when even Mother Nature's starts are frozen in the ground.

  • I'm supposed to be turning over a new leaf when the majority of them have been raked up and, if I do find one to turn over, it's all brown and moldy.

  • I'm supposed to feel rejuvenated and reborn when it's the middle of the dormant season. Animals are hybernating, for heaven's sake, why am I supposed to be all bubbly with energy?

Instead:

  • Why not think about new starts when the earth is oozing with little buds getting greener by the minute from the sunshine?

  • Why not consider turning over a new leaf when trees are bulging with little tiny backbones hunching, anticipating their breaking out into whispy little appendages?

  • Why not harness all my spiritual energy when the alive season is starting. "Spring" says it all. It's a come-alive word with images of Tigger bouncing all over the place and Eeyore isn't quite so blue from the cold.

So don't look for any miraculous, marvelous, monumental milestones from me until at least March. I've always been the black sheep; the one with rebel blood in my veins. Some things will never change no matter when resolutions are supposed to be made.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wholly Holey - Wholly Holy

This is a whole bunch of nothing but, so what else is new, right? I've been trying to crochet a scarf with some chunky Light & Lofty yarn. The kind of yarn that's so soft you could fill one of those ball bins with it, jump in, pull it all up around you and just stay there forever. However, because of all the chunkiness and texture, it's been difficult, to say the least, to crochet with. Where I've been is immediately filled up with the loftiness of it and where the next stitch needs to be is not just an open space crying out for the crochet hook to dive in. I've had to feel for the placement of each stitch. In fact, when I was first starting this project, I turned all the lights off. I figured since I had to feel for the space whether the light was on or not, I might as well enjoy the ambience of the flickering Christmas tree lights while I worked on it.



I couldn't help but think that this is how my mom crocheted hundreds of afghans - by feeling where to insert the crochet hook each time. After that many, her fingers were adept at staying in place and guiding her hook as she created masterpieces out of yarn. The Law of Compensation. Practice Makes Perfect. However you want to explain it. And, granted, like anything I persist at, I've noticed that over time I've developed the senses and abilities needed to be proficient. But still . . .



Well so then my next thought was . . . I bet this is how the Savior touches and works with us to create our Masterpiece. Obviously He's already proficient at the Process of Creation. Unlike my hands that become calloused after repitiously (is that a word?) doing the same thing, His hands would be soft and tender and He'd know right to put His hands to guide the stitches needed to make me Whole. I just need to trust, I guess and stop unraveling everything He does!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Birds and the Bees - Nativity Style

Bear with me as I try and be as discrete as possible.



Tyler and Layne came over this afternoon. Tyler was being taught how to be viscious and ruthless at checkers by Grampa so Layne helped me put out some Nativity sets. I have the Fisher Price set so I don't have to worry about little hands breaking pieces. I also have what's left of a very basic ceramic Nativity scene which I made in Relief Society umpteen years ago. I didn't make the whole array because I knew what the life expectancy of fragile niceties were in my house. I actually think Joseph bit the dust the first year. If not the first one, the second one. So I just have a donkey, a manger, Mary and baby Jesus. Well, this is what our first attempt looked like:



Notice anything (body) missing?



Yup. Baby Jesus is nowhere to be found. It's one thing to not have Joseph. He could be off visiting with the Wisemen or the Shepherds (if he was related to Alan). But no Baby? Layne and I look through the whole box of decorations and find no Baby. I know I try and pack the pieces away as carefully as possible so they are less likely to get broken or lost. So I'm racking my brain trying to think where I would have stored the Baby in hopes of avoiding this very situation. Then I remember. These ceramics are hollow.



With Layne by my side, I pick up Mary, give her a gentle shake, and,



 Lo and Behold . . .



"Gramma, look, Baby Jesus was inside Mary!"



I don't think the Angelic Choir could have announced it any more clearly. Luckily for Gramma there was no additional conversation or questions around the entire situation. {Ha! I just thought of something even more ironical. There is no Joseph and still . . . I'll leave the rest up to you.} 





Anyway, now the manger isn't empty and Mary has her baby to watch over and protect. She doesn't look all that bad for having just delivered a baby, either, does she?

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Dentist

I went to the dentist yesterday. Love that. I chipped a tooth while eating - what else - a frozen chocolate chip. Like the dentist said, at least it was worth it. As luck would have it, my tooth will need a crown. So, the dentist filed and sanded and drilled and squirted and sucked and molded and x-rayed and did whatever else it is dentists learn to do in their six plus years of school. An hour later, he was finished and my previously chipped tooth was ready for the temporary crown to be temporarily cemented in place. {As opposed to the permanent crown being permanently cemented in place} Thank goodness for several mouth-numbing injections and lots of nitrous oxide!!! I felt no pain while my tooth was being fitted for its crown.



Why, then, must I feel so much pain and anguish while I am being fitted for my eternal crown? Is an hour in the dentist chair equivelant to a lifetime? I know there are answers to those questions. There is prayer and scriptures and personal inspiration and temple attendance to help deal with the pain. And I guess it's got to hurt more because I'm being perfected and the dentist was merely putting a protective covering on my tooth.



Anyway, I was just wondering.



And I'm sure I'll still eat frozen chocolate chips because I do love chocolate. I guess I'm destined to keep making the same mistakes over and over and over. At least I know what my mistake was this time. Most of the time it seems I screw up just because I'm more addicted to being human than I am to chocolate.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Am My Own Evidence

One of my favorite TV shows is Cold Case. I especially love how they pull it all together at the end and show resolution and peace and forgiveness. Tonight the main part of the plot revolved around a teenager who was a member of the debate team at his school. There were a lot of mini plots where different aspects of debating were discussed and explained. It was quite interesting. In case you missed it, I'll spoil it for you and tell you the kid didn't commit suicide because he lost the debate - he was killed because he had come to the conclusion he needed to quit the team and his debate coach wasn't really excited about his decision.



Anyway, a couple of points that jumped out at me were:

  1. The only person who can judge you is you.

  2. I am my own evidence.

Specifically point #2. The main character spent all his time researching for every debate meet - thousands of pages he would read and memorize and take notes on - just to prove his side of the debate. He created his last case on his own and was sure he could win because it was about the kind of life he was familiar with. Therefore the statement, "I am my own evidence."



The only way I could ever come close to being a debater is if I could take at least a two hour recess and review everything and then come back and wrap it up - I'm not a spur of the moment thinker or talker. However, I seem to carry on quite a few debates with myself on an ongoing basis. And I can't help but wonder, what point is my evidence proving?



Is it proving that I know who I am and where I came from or is it proving that I am more natural man than spiritual? Does my evidence show specifics or vague blowing-in-the-wind ideas? Bottom line - what do I want my evidence to prove? Still thinking on this.



Off that subject, I changed the music for my blog. I love Christmas music. When the kids were little, I started playing Christmas music on Halloween night. I like variety but I can't hear enough of "The Little Drummer Boy". That is my all time favorite. So there are several different renditions of it. Roger Whitaker and Neil Diamond are at the top of the list too. And the Forgotten Carols - some of them anyway. With the sifting of snow we got yesterday, I'm definitely getting in the Christmas mood.



Alan and I went Christmas shopping yesterday. Miracle of miracles, we spent the entire day together and we both lived to tell about it! Anyway, I bought me a shirt at Sears that just says "Don't Stop Believin'". I won't. Not in the magic or the fun or the poignant or the miraculous or the spiritual or the 'Black Friday Fun'. I believe in it all. So, as I play Christmas music more and more often, and don my new t-shirt and work away in my sewing room, my evidence will prove it is a joyous season of the year. And I LOVE IT!!!



Now if I can just get my tree up before the family party Wednesday!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chin Up

I always felt there was a deeper meaning to me telling my kids to keep their chin up during struggles. However, I think I've come to realize just how inspired I am to use that particular instruction as one of my many trite pieces of advice.



I have an old Charlie Brown comic strip where Lucy is showing Charlie Brown a handful of coins she has found. He is immediately interested and asks her how she found all that money. Lucy tells him she keeps her eyes on the ground at all times. Of course, Charlie Brown is not going to be left out, so he immediately adopts her philosophy and hunches over so he can see the ground while he walks around. In the last frame, you see a $5 bill floating past in the air above him. Naturally he doesn't see it because his eyes are on the ground looking for the pennies and nickels and dimes. So now add that to what I was reminded of in Primary Sunday . . .



. . . When Heavenly Father wanted to help the wisemen find Baby Jesus, what sign did He give them? A Star. And where was that sign? UP in the sky. And when Heavenly Father wanted the shepherds to be able to know about Baby Jesus' birth, how did He tell them? Angels singing. And where were those Angels? UP in the heavens. Where does Heavenly Father have us look for signs? UP. I was thinking of a gazillion examples of this in the scriptures. Always, we need only look UP.



If the chin is up, so are the eyes. If the eyes are up, signs are seen. Worth more than $5 bills.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Regular Shih Tzu Pro'dog'jee

Yup, I've got to admit it. I have the beginnings of the smartest dog on the block. (And he doesn't even have the benefit of a SmartCard!) Carter has been reading to him in order to give him a jump start on the so-called 'normal' puppies.





I've been working on the house breaking routine. Which, by the way, is different from breaking the house, which he is doing one chunk of wall, one piece of floor tile at a time. That we have down pat. As for house breaking Herbie, I got him a litter box and I keep spraying it with a product invented by a mad scientist who boiled his dirty socks and his dirty underwear together in the same pot until it boiled dry. Then he bottled that aroma and talked somebody into marketing it as an attractant so a dog will have the insatiable desire to do his business wherever you spray it. It's definitely attracting Herbie, but not necessarily for all the right reasons.





As you can see, Herbie is sleeping in the litter box.



Now, before you go thinking sleeping in the litter box makes him not so smart, just imagine sleeping on a surface that conforms to every - and I mean every - lump, bump, curve, dimple, joint and angle of your body. I mean litter doesn't cost near as much as those beds they advertise on the informercials. (Which, by the way, has to leave you wondering what they do with the beds that are returned after a customer's "90 day in home trial" is less than satisfying.) And litter won't leak like a water bed, either. Maybe Herbie is actually smarter than we think and is on his way to making millions of dollars with the Litterpedic Bed System. Hmmmm. Surely I would get a percentage of the royalties since I bought him his first litter box and bag of litter!



Anyway, back to getting Herbie Tate house broken. A long time ago, like the last century long time ago, Alan bought some of those nasty yellow gooey fly strips guaranteed to annihilate the fly population. After hours - maybe even days - of not getting the promised results, and suffering from exasperation, Alan started using the fly swatter to kill all the flies. Then he stuck them on the fly strip. Somehow he thought the sight of a smashed dead fly on a sticky yellow streamer would scream out to other flies in the vicinity so they would want to be stuck just like he was. Well, since I figured Alan was so smart with that scenario, I figured the same technique might work for what I'm trying to accomplish. So....



I collected a small piece of Herbie's #2 and placed it in the litter box. Surely, not only the smell, but the sight of his bodily byproduct actually in the litter box would entice him to add to it. The end results of my little experiment weren't exactly what I was working towards. However, it did reinforce how smart Herbie actually is. He dug the sample out of the litter box, put it out on the floor in another room and then walked away.



Now, tell me, honestly, how many dogs do you know who are not only able, but willing, to clean out their own litter box????? Herbie Tate's off the charts!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Frosty Mornings

Even though I would love a garage - or even a carport - there is one thing I love about frosty windshield mornings. I love watching the ice slowly melt off the windshield. All the vehicles are equipped with long-handled ice scrapers but I'm not a scraper. Alan puts a tarp over his windshield every night so he doesn't have to be bothered with the frost, but I'm not a tarp-putter-onner either.



I love to get in the car, crank the defrost up to the max and watch as the melted spots slowly take over the icy spots until I have a clear windshield to look out of. There's something mesmerizing about it and I find myself wondering if I'm watching more than ice melt.



I think I'm also watching my life. Not melt away, by any means. But I think each new good thing I learn, each good choice I make, each time my testimony is strengthened, a little more clear glass is revealed. Maybe if I can get my entire 'windshield' frost-free, I'll be able to see a little of His countenance in me. Maybe. Maybe if I'm lucky someone else will be able to see His countenance in me, too.



There's been a time or two I haven't had as much time and I've headed down the road with more than a safe amount of frost still clouding my forward vision. It's amazing watching everything out there become clearer and more in focus and how much more I appreciate it after having squinted through the frost.



Why is it the rear defroster always works faster? I know it's got those little heater wires going through it but I figure it must be mimicking life again. Hindsight's 20/20, right???

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Grateful to be a Grandma

I don't think I could ever feel any grander than when Mariah introduced me to her class as "Grandma Janis". What better title in all the world is there? Besides "Mother", of course.



I had the most fantastic afternoon with Mariah at Grandparents Day in her Kindergarten class. They sang songs to us - one that made me want to cry - and then made us do the actions to a funny song with them. Then we got to decorate paper grocery bags that the teacher will take back to the store and when you buy groceries at that particular store, you just might get a decorated bag. Whoever gets Mariah's will get the best one in the whole place!!! She made a wild turkey under a rainbow and with a bear chasing it (the black place is a bear paw print). I have a new appreciation for Kindergarten teachers!



When we were done, we got to get Jodi out early and we went and had root beer floats/freezes. Hmmm. Doesn't get much better than grandmahood!

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Two Trees

Crazy, I know, but these two trees are my most favorite trees in the whole yard. I wanted to have a foresty looking frontyard but it hasn't really 'grown' into what I had originally imagined. Go figure.



Both these trees were planted at the same time. They're both evergreens. One has obviously grown up while the other has grown out.



When they were still fairly new, one of them got run over when the drunk driver ran through our front yard. The other one suffered from a massive infusion of salt to its roots when the Culligan Man dumped the remaining salt water out of a water softener in a spot that was slightly uphill from where the tree was. Path of least resistance had the tree smack dab in its crosshairs.



So, one of my trees suffered an external conflict. The other tree was attacked internally by such a vicious plot that its very roots were involved. However, they both bounced back from their individual afflictions in very different, character-creating ways. And, yes, so glad Heavenly Father looks beyond our outward appearance!!!  It's definitely what's inside that counts! Anyway, that's why they're my favorite trees.

PS: You may find me chained to the most 'interestingly' shaped tree one of these days, though, as I continually find it in the crosshairs of Alan's chainsaw.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Appreciating My Position in the Battle

Obviously, given the time of year, I've been thinking a lot about all I have to be grateful for. It seems I'm standing outside a lot trying to watch out of the corner of my eye for Herbie to poop so that has become my thinking time. Fall has definitely fell and he loves playing in each and every leaf of it.



My list of everything I'm grateful for is endless. That's a rather trite phrase but it's true. This particular thing I'm grateful for will be judged differently by everyone but, just the same, it's something that is at the forefront of my life. At points it may take on a discouraged tone, but that is how it has to be in order for me to truly appreciate and be grateful for the epiphelation that I have been given in the acceptance of it. Besides, you'd be shocked if anything I wrote on here made straightforward sense!



There was a post on FaceBook by my niece. She said, "I'm glad my daughter can talk to me about anything." Her daughter is eight years old and that is definitely an accomplishment to be proud of. A trust like that does not come without a lot of concentrated effort.



I like to trick myself into believing I had that kind of relationship with my children. I loved talking to them and prided myself that they would come to me. Now they're older, though, I wonder if I'm stuck in the past. I'm not sure I grew up with their problems and concerns. I still want to have a small one come and sit on my lap and let me read to them or comfort a broken heart by making cookies or put a band-aid on their latest owey or ask me to help them build with their bricks or blocks. I want to be invited into their fantasies one more time. Put our imaginations together to create a world where everyone is safe and ice goes in drinks instead of smashed fingers.



It seems like all I say now is, "What do you think?"; "How does that make you feel?" or "That's a decision only you can make." I don't have a place within the immediate walls of their world now. I live on the other side of the moat and must wait patiently for the drawbridge to be lowered, allowing me entrance.



There were no fireworks or massive fanfares or a ritual passing of batons. The change occurred unnoticed by everyone involved at first. Unnoticed, that is, until a block tipped over or a page in the book ripped or the band-aid fell off. That's when I realized I was watching from a greater distance and must pull back into the forest while someone else tended to the repairs, the entertainment and even the maintenance.



So much of life we aren't prepped for - can't be, actually. Kind of a different feeling still wearing the armor but not being on the front lines.



But, you know what? Even across the moat; even when the bridge is up; even when I may not be heard - I can cheer! There is a constant conversation going on in my head and my heart as I pray in a 'cheer'ful way! I will always be found rooting for the good guys! And when one of them tells me things are better because they prayed, I will do a somersault! It might not be pretty, but I'll do it. Now, if you were to ask for the splits, we might have to have a conversation!

 

Thanks to all of you for allowing me the chance to cheer for you!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Too Funny

I'm sitting here surfing the net for Christmas ideas. I'm looking for instructions to make a trunk for 18" dolls. Grampa thinks maybe he could do something basic. I just love search engines. All of a sudden, across my screen flashes a photo of Ken in a pair of knitted swimming trunks. Probably would have to be in my frame of mind to find that as hilarious as I did, but I thought I'd share anyway. You just never know where those links will take you and what images you'll be exposed to!!!! I need to go get a large Max!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From the Mouth (or should I say 'nose') of Babes



I have the opportunity of babysitting Hunter for a couple of days. Which means he got to accompany me to my work while I did my CPR recertification. He was fine until I made him use hand sanitizer on his hands after playing with a toy in the reception area. Then he started itching his eye. And wouldn't stop. Pretty soon he looked like a poor little homeless urchin with his red, swollen eye. Then he sneezed several times, creating a trail of stuff that is beyond words. In exasperation I asked, "Where is all this coming from, Hunter?" [Meaning, of course, "Why all of a sudden are you looking like I beat you and acting like your sick?" Like people aren't already hypervigilant enough with all the flu scare going on!]



Hunter's reply was swift and to the point, "From Hunter's nose, Ma-ma." Duh.

I Have a Card that Says So

I am officially certified again until November 2010. I can give rescue breaths or CPR or whatever it's called now. Blow air into someone who for some reason is temporarily unable to take oxygen into their body on their own. Amazing to realize how absolutely necessary that air is for these bodies Heavenly Father created for us. Every internal organ requires oxygen to perform its function. And now I have a card that certifies I can administer that life-saving ingredient. Wow.



May I just say, I hope I am never in a situation where someone's life depends on me to give them that air.



Or maybe I already am. Maybe I've been in that type of situation since the day I was born. Maybe we all have. I wonder how many people's internal organs have suffered because I wasn't in a position to give them the life-saving help they needed? Was I being selfish or was I blissfully ignorant to their needs? Or was I gasping for air myself? Kind of hard to give what you don't have. I wonder what training it takes to be certified to give spiritual rescue breaths? The test said I have to remember to do these three things:

1, Check the scene

           - what caused this situation; is it safe now?

2. Call for help

           - has more specialized, professional help been called for?

3. Check for circulation

           - is there blood spurting (or just oozing ever so slightly) from some unseen wound?

Maybe the test I took today for the Red Cross and my employment actually empowered me with the same knowledge I need in any situation - physical or spiritual or emotional or mental. Maybe there's more truth to what I say when I jokingly tell someone (or myself), "Breathe, breathe," when the stress of the moment is taking control. Slowly taking in life-carrying oxygen so those internal organs can do what they do best - function efficiently and maintain their optimum output. Hmmmm

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

Just sharing a couple of thoughts I've had recently and a couple of things I feel I've learned. Your ideas and comments are welcome as I don't expect everyone to agree with me. As I've been reading here and there about the importance of our thoughts and the Law of Attraction and such, I worried that I might be getting carried away with the 'mingling with the philosophy of men' part of the warnings we hear about Satan's techniques. However, more and more I feel like what I've been reading has fallen into the truth of the Gospel and, in some cases, enhanced it for me.



One of the basic tenets of the Law of Attraction is never forgetting to express gratitude for all the good in your life and acknowledging the true source of all that goodness. In Primary a couple of weeks ago, Sharing Time was on being thankful for our families. Doctrine & Covenants 78:19 was quoted:

"And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea more."
I felt like it was being confirmed to me that all this new stuff I've been learning is good and is of benefit and is not taking away from my testimony of the gospel. I'm actually becoming more grateful for the little things and allowing (or rather accepting) bigger things to come into my life.



The second thing I read is from a book about 'shifting' and explores 12 keys to helping women through various transitions they may encounter in their lives. Right at the first my attention was peaked when the author wrote:

"The key to heaven also opens the door to hell. We need to learn how to open the right doors in order to overcome the obstacles which life presents us with. Life is not unfair but it is difficult ... We all need...to become, in a sense, like water. Water can change from liquid to solid to vapor depending on the conditions it meets in order to survive. It knows how to find its way around and over all obstacles it meets, and you never hear water complain because it knows how to find its way through life."

Not only do I love the analogy but my immediate thought was the Primary song, "Give Said the Little Stream". And again, maybe simplistically, I felt a validation that I was learning things that could or already were helping me in my life in a positive way.



Just wanted to share as I rambled. Something else I read said,

"When there's a strong desire in you to express or create something, know that feeling is Divine discontent. Your longing is your calling -- and no matter what it is, if you go with it, you'll be guided, guarded and assured of success."
So, if you keep reading my blog, be prepared as I guess I'll keep on writing and rambling in the name of Divine discontent.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

And the Correct Answer is . . .



The final answer is: Herbie Tate. Herbie (thanks to Alan) as in Herbie Hairball; Herbie (thanks to Janis) as in the Love Bug and hers was orange, back in the day; Herbie (for the grandkids) as in they all like the Disney movies about Herbie. Tate (thanks to Carter) because that was his suggestion for a name and his definition of 'suggestion' is 'this is what it will be'. So, Herbie Tate it is. At least in formal settings. At this point (two months old) he enjoys digging in and burying himself in his litter box and peeing on the floor. And that particular chew toy Herbie Tate is so cutely playing with is now in two pieces so: BEWARE OF DOG!



I am lucky enough to have a picture of what Herbie Tate will look like when he grows up. Either that or it's Alan trying to look like Herbie Tate in an effort to get as much affection. Actually, Alan sent this to me before Halloween and it was the perfect opportunity for me to prepare him for the fact that I was looking for a Shih Tzu with that same coloring. I don't think he realized how serious I was at the time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Never to be Forgotten



Sunday, November 5, 1978. Another one of those days that is a big piece of our family history but one I definitely wouldn't want to relive. Nathan was in the middle of that lovely stay in Shriner's Hospital. The stay that was only supposed to be two weeks and ended up being six. Anyway, 8:20pm Stephanie came and left - leaving my arms with nothing to do but put the blessing dress away for another spell.



I wonder what our family life would be like if Stephanie had lived? Would she have survived anyway . . . being in between Nathan and Joseph? That would have been interesting! Maybe she would have been our true redhead. She probably would have had to be to survive in the middle of those two. How many more grandchildren would I have? If she had stayed, would I have been able to give her as much as she has given me by not staying?



I know she, too, had a choice regarding her role in this space we call life. I know she only needed a body and that she returned to a loving Heavenly Father perfect. Sometimes, though, a mother still needs that warmth cradling in her arms and when it's not there, it's easier to feel the lack than remember the wholeness. When she was stillborn, in the 'olden days', they didn't even let me see her or hold her. I wasn't given the opportunity to say 'I love you' and 'Goodbye'; giving me closure. We were concerned with finding out if there was anything physically wrong with her that had caused this early birth, so they whisked her off to perform tests and an autopsy. All the medical profession's tests proved what we already knew:  Stephanie was perfect.



What will it be like to be able to raise her in that other realm? Am I living my life so I really will have that opportunity and privilege? Sometimes. I'm not doing as well as I should. Or as I could. It's easy for me to lose sight of that awaiting responsibility. Joseph posed a question to me a few years ago:  "Do you wish you could raise your kids over again, knowing what you know now?" Not sure. I don't know if I'd really be any better; different - but not necessarily better. Wonder if it will be easier or more challenging to raise a child when Satan is chained up?



Happy 31st Birthday, Steph. I'll celebrate more with you at another time. Don't give up on me. Love you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Solution to the Empty Nest Syndrome

I don't dare ask my grandkids for name suggestions for fear they'll all feel bad if I don't choose their idea but I'm open to suggestions and ideas. Right now two potential names (courtesy of Alan) are Seis or Once. The first is the Spanish word for six and the second is actually the Spanish word for eleven, which are his tentative numbers in one of our packs. I need to decide which pack - child or grandchild. The first is pronounced Says, with a long 'a' sound and the second is pronounced On-say, with a long 'o' sound. The puppy is a boy, if that narrows down the choices at all. He is a pure bred Shih Tzu and has been around young children. He's still a little low to the ground so it's a rather difficult to know when he's done outside but I imagine the colder it gets, the quicker I'll assume he's done.





Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meet My New Personal Trainer

There's a lot about my new fitness trainer that I like. He's got some coordination issues similar to mine and he seems to also prefer the path of least resistance. However, he didn't seem to have a warm up or wind down period. Other than that, I think he's got the routine. He is building "muscles in his shoulders so he will be strong". I haven't learned to say "weeeeeeee" as well as he does while working out, however. I'm too busy sweating and trying to stay vertical and it's hard for me to do more than one thing at a time - particularly on a piece of exercise equipment, stationary or not.





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Saturday, October 24, 2009

A COOL HALLOWEEN TRICK {Per Tyler, Age 9}



You get a sack and put chocolate candy in it. Then you put it on someone's doorstep and light it on fire. Then you knock on the door and run. When they open the door, they see the fire and stomp on it and melted chocolate goes everywhere.



Thank you Tyler! May you always be so innocent! LY

Friday, October 23, 2009

Eyeball Soup with Cat's Claws and Witch's Warts

Chaos reigned supreme as the grandkids came and decorated spookie cookies. Everyone got fed soup with snakes on the side and witch's brew to drink. I think they had fun. When it was winding down, I actually laid on the floor and thought I could have them come and decorate Christmas cookies so it must not have been too bad.





Well, maybe not everyone was having a crazy time





The finished products:







After the cookie mess was over, I was amazed to see little boys so excited to chase each other with Eeyore purses slung over their shoulders! They were screaming like girls, though, so I guess it all fit. Nate even got into the melee and allowed himself to be tormented which is pretty well a first. We missed Joe and his family (they're deer hunting) but I'm sure we'll catch them another time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

1 Picture = 1,000 Words

I was so jealous of Betty getting to keep the Smart Card the day we went into Chicago. I couldn't sleep. I had trouble eating (ha, ha). I wandered around wringing my hands wondering how I could convince her to give it to me. Finally, on Monday, my last day in Illinois, I was forced to come to the realization she was not going to give up her Smart Card. I proceeded to concoct a plan whereby I could coerce my sis into making a special trip back to the Barrington Train Station so I could get my very own Smart Card. My plan worked and I felt immediate relief. Especially since I ended up so much smarter than her: My $20 Smart Card cost me $21. Betty's only cost her $20. I immediately put my card in a secure place in my purse so I could totally absorb the full effect of it later. I felt empowered as I left the train station, knowing I would soon be smart in two states, Illinois and Utah!!



And then it was home. I decided next year I will select one of the seats by the emergency exits. They have lots of leg room and overhead storage space. Besides, who would know if I got the emergency door opened and slid down the chute first without helping everyone else? The television cameras usually aren't on scene that fast and it would hopefully take anyone still alive longer than that to locate their cell phones and turn them on. Anyway, that's the plan at this point.



My life was waiting for me, too. The escalator had barely started its descent when I recognized his shoes. I'll have to think about that for awhile. It was the same feeling I had when I finally saw Betty and Allen at O'Hare. Relief mixed with happiness mixed with comfort tied together with a lot of gratitude for someone ready and willing to rescue me from blending into anonymity. I wonder if there will be the same proportion of strangers to friendly faces in heaven as there was at the airport? I hope the numbers will lean more towards friendly ones. Are there gates and escalators in heaven? Security? Let's hope I've packed my bags more efficiently by then and hopefully not all my baggage will catch up with me!!!! I could ramble for quite awhile on this but I think I'll quit now. It's good to be home. I'm stinking excited to go back.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Layman's Theory of the Suitcase

  1. The efficiency in which one can pack one's suitcase for a short trip is a direct indication of how efficiently one uses one's time in one's own life.  

  2. The way one's suitcase looks after living out of it during said short trip is in direct correlation to how one left one's house before said short trip. 

  3. The closeness to which one can repack one's suitcase after said short trip is directly proportionate to one's ability to merge seamlessly back into reality after returning from said short trip. 

  4. The percentage of items hanging out of one's suitcase or stuck in the zipper of one's suitcase after finally getting it closed is equal to or less than the number of items in one's life still hanging out there undone, waiting upon one's return. 

  5. The weight of one's suitcase after repacking to return after said short trip is equal to or less than the weight one gained on said short trip.  

If any of the above-mentioned theorems can be proved true through either mathematical or practical methods, I am in deep doo-doo. Not just up to the tongue of my shoe deep doo-doo but, at the very minimum, mid-calf deep doo-doo. Not like any of it would be any great surprise, though.



I went with Betty and Allen to my niece's house and had dinner with her and my two nephews and their families. Oh, my! Amazing to see how their children each have characteristics of them when they were little and playing with my kids. Or rather my kids were bugging them. Rich brought me some pictures he had taken that contained members of my family from 1981. I thought I was going to cry! I now can honestly say I have an angelic picture of Nathan! And there's a picture of him in front of my orange VW Beetle. I loved that car. Anyway, I had a ball watching all their kids play together and pick on their grandpa. Thanks for the fun time!



I guess it's home tomorrow. And then the countdown begins . . .

Saturday, October 10, 2009

First Annual Chicago Shopping Spree!

Yup. We've decided to try and make this an annual event. Which means that the first one has been a riot!





Today, Betty and I conquered not only the train but also downtown Chicago! We are woman, hear us roar! We bought a "Smart Card" and boy was it worth its weight in feathers! We were smarter from the get-go only not everyone around us realized it. Had they been aware of the smartness they were sitting around, they would have gleaned all they could from us. As it was, we just had to revel in it ourselves.



We also got more than our fair share of exercise in because we lost the caramel popcorn store we had smelled when our expedition first began. Between Betty's OCD and my just plain directional stupidity, we did relocate it. Third time around. I was assured this delicious, third-generation recipe caramel popcorn would last until I got home but there were no specifics as to whether that was in the bag or on my thighs. I give you one guess . . .



We found killer deals at Macy's, too. Lots of their stuff was 50% off. This is one bargain neither one of us could pass up! I have such a purse fetish anyway. Who wouldn't expect me to come home with a new one? And bigger. Forget the fact that I'm flying on a very small plane!



Check out the sale price on this can't-live-without-it bag:











Yes, folks, a mere $214.00 for this purse. Sale prices are marked. Now that Alan has fallen off his chair in shock and total disbelief (ha, ha), I want you to know I resisted the impulse to snatch up two of these money-saving deals (if something is half price, it's only reasonable to buy two of them). I maintained my country-bumpkin dignity.



And, dang it, I forgot to take a picture of this so you'll just have to take my word for it, (sit down - it will be difficult) but please believe me when I say I really did go to not just one, but two different WalMart's. Shocking, I know.



And, highlight of highlights, you can buy Max in a six-pack of 24-oz bottles here. When I saw them at the store, I just stood there and caressed a pack. Then I noticed a lady was trying to get around me. Betty apologized for me and the lady actually acknowledged that it was fine, she had recognized the special moment for what it was and was more than willing to treat it with respectable reverence. Could I have been that obvious??????

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Did You Know. . .

Mary Traverse died a couple of weeks ago. She was the 'Mary' in 'Peter, Paul & Mary'. I mention that now, not only because I like - love - Peter, Paul & Mary, but because I got to act out one of the songs they sang so harmoniously - Leaving on a Jet Plane.



Yup, I did it, left on a jet plane. I think it was a jet. It was certainly smaller than I expected. My first clue regarding its size was when they announced from the boarding gate that any carry-ons larger than a duffle bag would need to be "Pink Tagged" and left in the JetWay. The plane was too small to store any of the larger carry-ons. Which, by the way, they'd said nothing at all about on the website and during all the confirming and reminding and such. All "Pink Tagged" bags would be waiting in the JetWay at O'Hare to be picked up. I had a quick little vision of a scene from Bewitched or Star Trek where something was there one minute and in some other planetary system the next. However they did it, though, it worked.



My second clue as to the size of the plane was when we started actually boarding. The door was tiny. I seriously did a double take before reaching it. I wasn't sure I could do it. Then I convinced myself it was only a door and doors open up into much larger spaces. Hmmm. Not always that much bigger. Any flight attendant working on this airplane would have to weigh less than 100 lbs and have no body in her hair whatsoever. My seat # was 20D. May I just tell you now, there were only 20 rows of seats and, of course, 'D' was against the wall. Not window - wall. I'm pretty sure seat 20D is situated directly over one of the two GE Turbo Engines that help keep the plane in the air (I read the little info card situated directly behind my barf bag in the seat pocket in front of me). I tried not to think about emergency landings, crash landings, storage compartment doors flying open and duffle bags flying out, engines catching fire or me being trapped here in this corner flailing my arms wildly while biting, scratching and screaming my way out from underneath it all. I guess maybe smaller planes don't have the smoothest rides, either, because it was pretty bumpy. But. . . I made it!!!!!!



I stepped off the plane into the JetWay, found my "Pink Tagged" carry-on had been beamed to Chicago just like they said it would be and then walked down the corridor into a new world. I just stood there. Going from a claustrophobic position to more space than I knew what to do with was a little overwhelming. Talk about Country Rat visits City Mouse! All that aside, I had to go to the bathroom. No way was I going to see how small the lavatory facilities were on that little plane! I figured it was best to go now while I was still somewhat lost and disoriented.



Well, that was the best decision I have ever made! They have the coolest toilets! It perked me right up to the point I had to take a picture. You pass your hand over a sensor and the plastic cover on the toilet seat rotates to place a clean seat cover for you. Of course my dear sweet Amber had to question as to whether or not it was actually a 'clean' one or they were just rotating through the same ones. I have to believe it was a clean one. Sometimes you just have to take things on faith! I guess I should have actually taken a video of it as it rotated. Oh, well, take my word for it.



Anyway, I'm here. Betty and Allen were waiting for me, just as they said they would be - with smiles but no signs (and no guns). And I have my own room with a basket of chocolate and other yummy stuff and Max in the fridge. What can I say???

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Not Just Greener . . . Bigger . . . on the Other Side of the Fence.

About a week ago some family members, including grandkids, and I were out picking garden stuff. I will try not to use identifying names in order to protect the guilty. Off and on there have been two large labs that visit our house. One is  black and one is white. They're big but they're friendly. When I try and shoo them off, they come and lick my hand or roll over so I can rub their belly. On this particular day they happened to be cavorting around the neighborhood when they evidently heard noises from the backyard and thought they were invited to join the fun. However, one of the 'generic' grandkids is extremely afraid of dogs. Except it's a fear that's not that cut and dried.



He's brave when it's on his terms - like when the animal in question is considerably smaller than him or when there's a fence between them or lots of adults around he can turn to for protection. For instance, he's quite proud of himself for becoming friendly with the horses that are pasteured in the lot next to our house. He'll throw a leaf or two over to them to eat or gently pet their nose when they stick their head over the fence to eat our grass.



So, anyway, we're all in the garden, black and white labs join us - totally surprising him. He was caught between the garden and the fence and saw his only escape route to be jumping over the fence. Which he did. His peace for escaping the dogs was short lived as he no sooner got on the other side of the fence than one of the horses thought someone had come to either play with him or feed him. The horse came trotting towards him. That's when I hear the total meltdown.



Have you ever heard a meltdown? The sound of it is about as uniquely identifying as the mushroom shape after the bomb. I didn't get to see the feat that went with the sound, but according to his mom, he didn't climb back over the fence, he didn't jump back over the fence, he "threw himself back over the fence".



I've been thinking about this incident a lot the last few days. I can't help but wonder how many times I throw myself out of the way of something I see coming that I'm not ready for or willing to deal with at the time. I make a choice to detour instead of facing it head on. And how many of those 'detour' times, do I find something worse waiting in the wings? I can't express my gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who allows me the otherwise impossible option of being able to jump back over the fence or 'throw myself back over the fence', returning to a much safer place.



I had to talk till I was blue in the face to convince my grandson that I wasn't laughing 'at' his fears, just at what it looked like when he chose to react the way he did. He finally cracked a smile. I wonder if I were sitting off on the sidelines watching myself if I'd be doubled over in laughter, too. Are my 'detour' choices, and the antics involved in surviving their consequences, as comical as his were? It's definitely given me a new visual to consider when facing some situations.



Ramble, ramble, ramble, blah, blah, blah.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Can You Say: "That's one mell of a hess!!!"



And that was at 2:30am.



Can I just express my gratitude that the reaping season is going to freeze tonight? I'm still going to bottle apple pie filling. I think. But at least the bulk of it is over.



The other day I was walking out through the garden to pick salsa ingredients. I was stumbling across downed brown corn stalks, naked ears of corn waiting to decompose and already withered bean plants. I couldn't help it but my first thought was, "I am so glad this garden is getting so empty!" Right on the heels of that thought, however, was the reminder of a day only a month or two earlier when I was once again walking out through the garden. My thought then (after the "Oh, crap, I hope I don't run into Alan's skunk!" thought), was, "Look how beautiful all this green stuff is. It's alive and growing and I love the freedom of going out and picking fresh food. I'm so glad Alan is willing to work so hard to provide that luxury!" Didn't take me long to change my tune, did it? Some people just keep hoping for the best of a dozen different worlds at the same time, I guess. From the pea picking festival to picking the one (1) pumpkin, Alan's garden has created a gazillion family memories and traditions and opportunities (not as many as Alan would like, I'm sure) to spend time together. A bunch of us did get together and help him weed it once this year! Some of the most fun times I've had have been having my girls (all four of them) come and help with the canning projects, too.



Anyway, Alan, here's your much neglected "Thank You"  for all your hard work.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Victims of the Great Trapper's Trap

I do think he's done for the season. I hope.



STILL AT LARGE



1 deer, as evidenced by tracks in the corn (will he buy an even bigger trap???)

1 LARGE Skunk, sneaky, agile, whereabouts still unknown



CAUGHT

1 very mad gray cat, let loose

1 small skunk, no longer in this realm

1 very mad gray cat, let loose

12 skunk birds, relocated to various locations

1 squirrel, died of causes unknown

1 very dumb and mad gray cat, relocated to a more trap-free environment

1 neighbor's dog, returned to owner

1 gray striped cat, relocated to Amber's

1 squirrel, still alive at this point (2nd one)

1 squirrel (3rd one)

1 claustrophobic, psychotic cat, last seen running into the sunset

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Faith

There is an underlying connection between both of my previous ramblings and a comment that was left has hit on it so I decided I'd officially join them.



There was the sunlight shining through the trees validating my existence and reminding me I am always heard. Then there was the light from Alan's headlights that guided even a little scrub oak like myself back to where I needed to be (even though I didn't realize it was not where I thought I was headed). Knowing the extreme level to which I am directionally challenged, I would have had a total meltdown if I'd ended up at the original campsite and couldn't see any familiar faces. I would have entered camp all Tigger-bouncy because of my pride in completing my little trek and ended up all Eeyore-droopy when I realized those I cared about weren't there to share my exhileration.



Sometimes roads lead us where we need to be, not to where we thought we wanted to be.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Real Self-Esteem Boosting Weekend!

Alan and I went camping with our neighbors. They like going to the Unitas and wanted to take us with them this time. I wasn't too excited, sorry to say. What's camping without my family? I checked my attitude at the door before I shut and locked it, however, and ended up having a fun time. It was scary for a minute when there was a swing hanging from a tree right by where we parked the trailer. I had a few heartaches knowing the grandkids would be having a ball with that. But I soon regained my self-control.



It was dark when we first got there and, of course, Labor Day Weekend, so there were a lot of campers already filling up the good spots. We pulled in the last one we could see, which was not very ideal. Our neighbor's wife was not happy. Did I say not happy? She wanted to be closer to the lake. He just wanted to make camp before it got any darker. I think if we hadn't been there and could have been called as witnesses, they would have killed each other before the night was over. I, on the other hand, was ecstatic because I'm pretty sure there were bats flying around and I know for sure there was a live little mouse running around in the fire pit. And I was wearing pants with loose legs. I could feel the little rodent running up my pant legs every time I turned by back on the pit. Anyway, we went to bed. The men went riding 4-wheelers in the morning with no definite returning-home time. By 10:45am the other trailer was still quiet so I decided to go on a short little hike. Before Alan had left on his ride, he told me the lake was only about 1/4 mile away and was only about 3/4 mile long. I figured that would be an energizing walk - about 1 1/2 miles round trip. Does anyone see anything wrong here except the fact I was making an assumption based on 'facts' (and I use the term loosely) given to me by Alan, who had also 'assumed'?



I had started to pack a little backpack with some granola bars and water and jolly ranchers but decided against taking it as it made me look a little too 'boy scoutish'. After all, I was just going on a short hike around the lake and I wasn't planning on getting lost or being gone over night. I could carry the bottle of water without any problem and put a few jolly ranchers in my jacket pocket. When I grabbed my cell phone (we had sporadic service), I noticed it only had one bar of battery left so I figured it wasn't worth taking. I plugged it into the charger. I left Alan a note telling him I was walking towards the water and the time I was leaving and headed out. 



Alan was right that the lake was only about 1/4 mile away. I hiked across to the far side first figuring that way I'd come back on our side of the lake and should just come right back to the trailer (second wrong assumption). I hadn't gone far down the other side when I thought it would be a good idea to get a drink of water. That's when I realized I'd forgotten the water. Oops. I did have the jolly ranchers in my jacket pocket. Besides, it was only going to be a short hike. I would be fine. Forget the fact I had no water, no cell phone and no partner.



On the far side of the lake there were trails up through the trees I could take when the shore got too steep or rocky. On the near side of the lake, that wasn't the case. Or at lease I didn't feel as comfortable taking them because there were more people camping on the near side and I was afraid I would walk into someone's camp. I'd walked quite a ways on the far side when I started to doubt Alan's information as to the length of Whitney Lake. And, the lake wasn't a basic shape like I had assumed it was. It's more amoeba-like and so I had to go out around everyone of those appendages. All those little outcroppings must have added at least a half mile onto the entire trek. At least. I was starting to think I should turn around; that perhaps I wasn't going to be able to hike all around the lake. At the last couple of appendages I'd say to myself, "I'll go around this one and if I can't see the end of the lake I'll turn around." A lot of places were steep and rocky and I 'slipped and slid' my way across. I found myself thinking, "Yeah, you're so smart. You won't ride the 4-wheelers without a helmet but you'll go off hiking by yourself, without any water, fall down on the rocks and die or get traumatic brain injury." Oh, well.



Finally I saw the end. False end. Sort of. I had to walk a little farther in order to cross over this amoeba's tail. The lake didn't really come to an 'end' as I was thinking it would. It just trickled down and broke off into three or four little streams. I got across there okay and thought I was home free as I headed up the near side of the lake.



I had been good about landmarks the whole way. I had even actually been able to see our campsite off and on and even now could see it and knew the end was in sight. Ha, ha. This was a very lopsided amoeba lake as there were more appendages on this side; more muddy places I had to cross.



One of those muddy places found me sliding the last three feet right up to the water's edge. By the time I came to a stop, my feet were buried up to the tongues of my shoes in the mud. That made my shoes slippery and so I slipped into the water a couple of times trying to cross over this little spot. There had been a guy fishing just up ahead and I'd watched him watching me. When I finally made it over to where he was and was walking behind him, he greeted me with a silly grin (bottom lip fat with chew) and asked me how I was doing. Duh. I gave him the 'thumbs up' sign and said I was just great, knowing he'd been watching me even when I was on the other side and through the mud sliding and all. Then he asks, "How's the fishing over there?" Duh. Like I said, he's been watching me long enough to know I haven't put a pole in the water. Come to think of it, maybe he meant when I about fell in the water!



After rounding a few more appendages, I see our campsite. Or rather I see our trailers. I 'assumed' they were at 'our' campsite. The same campsite I'd left earlier. In the back of my head, however, I wondered why the headlights were on in Alan's truck. Also I could tell the neighbor's trailer had been moved and was facing a different direction. Then I thought, they've found a better spot for his wife and they're moving the trailers. "Lucky for me I'll make it back before they move!", I thought (third wrong assumption). I was excited, though, because I had made it all around the lake and so shoved the inconsistencies to the back of my mind.



The final trek to the trailer was the worst. I could see a trail going up the hill but it would have meant going around another appendage and so I opted to go straight up the hill. Not a good choice. That little stretch was the most strenuous of the whole hike. When I topped the hill, however, I was confused. I know I was winded and was wondering if the confusion was because I was actually having a stroke or getting ready to pass out or something. I was pretty sure that I recognized Alan smirking and pointing at me as I topped the hill but there wasn't a flagpole at our last camp. This was not the firepit where I'd watched the little mouse do his dance last night. Alan and the neighbor weren't 'moving' camp - they'd already 'moved' camp! I walked into a totally unfamiliar campsite with our trailers parked in it. That was weird.



Well, it had been two hours almost to the minute since I'd left on my little jaunt. I didn't realize how long I'd been gone. I guess everyone had taken turns looking for me on the 4-wheelers and during one of the searches, they'd stumbled upon this empty campsite. The only reason I'd headed for this spot instead of the old campsite was because the headlights of Alan's truck had caught my attention. I didn't realize they were in a different spot because I knew I had always been able to see our trailers.



So, now I'm trying to process the fact that Alan moved without leaving a forwarding address. Talk about going to school and coming home and finding the family has moved! When I questioned him, he said, "Well I looked for you but couldn't find you, so we moved the trailer." I can't quite wrap my head around that. Something just doesn't feel right. Then he said, "I called and left a message on your cell phone so if you ever got service, you'd know." I quickly pointed out what a good idea that was since my cell phone was in the trailer charging. He was just as quick to point out that I had 'stupid' written on my forehead for going off and leaving it . . . and going by myself . . . with no water . . .



And, yes, it did rain during this campout, too.

Hear I Am! Here I Am!

As part of our campout in the Unitas this weekend, I went on a hike by myself (see post above). Much of the trail I followed went through forested areas and then would open up on beautiful spreading meadows. It was amazing. There was one small clearing that was protected by tall pine trees and quakies. Some older trees had fallen down and created a natural barrier around a small spot that had obviously been used by campers. The sun wasn't quite straight up yet and so it was struggling to get through the pines. It was actually quite spiritual for me. As I looked around, I couldn't help wondering how often I am like the tallest of the pine trees and can feel the light and heat of the sun readily. I then compared that to how much more often I feel like the tiny scrub oaks and Charlie Brown Christmas trees that are struggling to get the smallest ray of light and be acknowledged as to their existence.



Joshua Kadison has a song entitled "Invisible Man". In the song he talks about waking up one morning with a strange feeling that he can't identify. He goes to the mirror to confirm the fact he is still there. Then he goes over to the window and opens it and shouts out of it, "Here I am! Here I am!" Lights start coming on all around and people yell out their windows, "Will the crazy man go back to sleep?" He just stands at his window feeling so good and laughing because someone actually heard what he said and so he knows he really does exist and has not been forgotten. Then he says,

"Well it's no big thing, no revelation

No answer to these lives we lead

But I think I do know one thing

Sometimes I think we all need to say

"Here I am, here I am, here I am"

When life makes us feel like the invisible man".
That's kind of how I felt in those trees. I guess even on the days I'm a scrub oak, I can shout, "Here I am" and know I am heard.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gotta Do It

Alan is possessed! However, he has merged his new role as mighty trapper with that of mighty matchmaker.



IFA has been plagued by a squirrel. So, who you gonna call???? Alan, of course. He goes home to get his trap so he can save the day at IFA. Low and behold, what does he find? He's already got a squirrel in the trap!
He gets the brilliant idea to use his garden squirrel as bait for his IFA squirrel. I didn't dare ask him if he had deduced whether they were of the opposite sex or not. Some things are just best left unasked . . . and unknown. Well, I hate to admit it, but his little scheme worked.
Alan can now take credit for his first attempt at matchmaking. I wonder how many people in arranged marriages feel . . . 'trapped'?? Anyway, I guess I can no longer refer to Alan as unromantic!

PS: Krisy says there's a dead skunk in the middle of the road by their house. Maybe Alan should have tried his truck instead of the trap??

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Swine Flu



Sometimes Alan comes across as a hypochondriac. Someone (I'm sure in the medical profession) sent him this picture as a warning sign that you might have Swine (I mean H1N1) Flu. I suppose I should start monitoring how many times he purposely looks in the mirror, huh? LY

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Three Days in a Row!!!

Three days now I've learned or re-learned something new! Yes, I'm patting myself on the back! I actually gleaned this new study from a magazine at the doctor's office.



Walking Backward May Sharpen Thinking

Facing a Challenge? Backing Yourself Out of It -- Literally -- May Help

By Miranda Hitti WebMD Health News



The next time you're facing a challenge, you might not want to stand your ground. Maybe you should try walking backward instead, Dutch researchers suggest.



Whenever you encounter a difficult situation, stepping backward may boost your capability to deal with it effectively," Severine Koch, PhD, and colleagues write in May's edition of Psychological Science.



Koch's team works for the social and cultural psychology department at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. They were interested in the effects that "approach" movements, like walking toward something or pulling something toward you, and "avoidance" movements, such backing away from something, have on mental functioning.



The researchers reasoned that the body and mind are on higher alert when they're in avoidance mode. So they put that theory to the test by studying 38 students at Radboud University Nijmegen. Each student took word tests in which they read a color word -- like red -- that was sometimes displayed in matching ink (like "red" written in red ink) and sometimes shown in another color (like "red" written in blue ink).



The students had to name, as quickly as possible, the color of the ink. And, they had to do that while walking forward, backward, or stepping sideways.



When the test was easy -- and the color names and inks matched -- reaction times for correct answers were just as good while the students walked forward, backward, or sideways. But when the test was tough -- and the color names and inks clashed -- reaction times for correct answers were quickest while walking backward. Reaction times while walking forward or stepping sideways were similar.



Researchers say that "backward locomotion appears to be a very powerful trigger to mobilize cognitive resources."



Try it. Next time you're in a tough situation, take a step back -- literally. Just be sure to watch where you're going.
I just thought it was interesting that they've actually found a physical, measurable foundation for a psychological response that may possibly help with stressful situations. "Take a step back" means a little more to me now.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

If the Tiara Fits . . .





I almost didn't recognize my husband in the parade. Good thing he told me what number he was or I might have totally ignored him. I wonder why?? At least we got more than our fair share of candy out of this particular entry!! What some people won't do in the name of P.R. work. He certainly has gotten plenty of attention. I walked through the fair with him Thursday night and everyone was wondering where his hair had gone. Funny though, no one wondered about the absence of the tiara?!?! Gotta love him!

SPLAT!

A Guru friend of mine shared this story with me and I loved it so much that I got permission to share it. Everyone will interpret it a little different based on the particular set of circumstances each has faced. Off the wall, I related it to a camping trip a few years ago where I made a million (ok, that's an exaggeration) trips up Logan Canyon trying to follow Alan's directions to a particular campsite. I finally returned home, beaten, at like 2:00 in the morning. The next evening Alan took me up there and I'd only been about 1/4 mile from the spot when I'd turned around the last time. It was a beautiful spot, too, and we ended up having a lot of fun. Anyway, enjoy the story according to your own situation.
A man meets a guru in the road. The man asks the guru, "Which way is success?"

The bearded sage speaks not but points to a place off in the distance.

The man, thrilled by the prospect of quick and easy success, rushes off in the appropriate direction. Suddenly, there comes a loud "Splat!!!" Eventually, the man limps back, tattered and stunned, assuming he must have misinterpreted the message.

He repeats his question to the guru, who again points silently in the same direction. The man obediently walks off once more.

This time the splat is deafening, and when the man crawls back, he is bloody, broken, tattered, and irate.

"I asked you which way is success," he screams at the guru. "I followed the direction you indicated, and all I got was splatted! No more of this pointing. Talk!"

Only then does the guru speak, and what he says is this: "Success is that way, just a little after the splat."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Would I Remember? Will You Remember?

I've started re-reading a book I first read about a year ago. I pretty well highlighted the whole thing then so now I'm having to use a different color. The book is by Carol Tuttle and is entitled "Remembering Wholeness". My sister has introduced me to a lot of interesting books over the last couple of years and this is a really good one. The author tries to explain how our spirit is already perfect, always has been, and the experiences we have here on this earth are to help us remember that. At one of my favorite parts, she quotes from another book, "Conversations With God: An Uncommon Dialogue" to explain some of the experiences we encounter while trying to get used to our physical body. I think I'm going to have to order this book, too. From the way I understand it, there is a Little Soul conversing with God and they are in Heaven. God asks the Little Soul what God-like characteristic he would like the most. He thinks for a few minutes and then replies, "Forgiveness."

Well, they're in Heaven and everyone is still perfect and God points that out to the Little Soul. How can he hope to learn forgiveness when no one is going to do anything that will need forgiveness? The Little Soul turns around and looks at all the spirits gathered there and realizes none are less perfect than himself and he asks God, "Who, then, shall I have to forgive?"

Just then one of the spirits steps forward and tells the Little Soul that he can forgive him. Little Soul wonders what for and the Friendly Soul says, "I will come into your physical lifetime and do something for you to forgive." Little Soul wonders what in the world this fellow being of such Perfect Light could possibly do to make him want to forgive him. Friendly Soul tells him they will think of something.

Now Little Soul is concerned as to why Friendly Soul would want to slow down his vibration to the point he would choose to do something bad. (now I'm quoting directly)

"Simple," the Friendly Soul explained, "I would do it because I love you. You want to experience your Self as Forgiving, don't you?... I ask only one thing in return," the Friendly Soul declared.

"Anything! Anything," the Little Soul cried. He was excited now to know that he could experience every Divine Aspect of God. He understood, now, The Plan.

"In the moment that I strike you and smite you," said the Friendly Soul, "in the moment that I do the worst to you that you could ever imagine -- in that self-same moment . . . remember Who I Really Am."

"Oh, I won't forget!" promised the Little Soul, "I will see you in the perfection with which I hold you now, and I will remember Who You Are, always."

I like to think that we offered to help each other out, even if it wasn't always through something positive. We knew the end result would be worth it. I wonder if I really treat others in a way that shows I remember who they are. I'm pretty judgmental of some of the people I see at my work. Maybe they agreed to help me learn compassion, asking only one thing of me, ". . . remember Who I Really Am." I wonder how this world would be if this was the case. Maybe I could even help someone else remember. Hmmm.

Yup, rambled again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Can You Believe It?

I actually had a coworker approach me yesterday with an interesting request. She said, "Janis, please don't go camping this weekend. We're planning on going camping and we don't want to get rained on." I think if it wasn't so true, I would be offended! So, anyway, look for fair weather this weekend as I will be staying home, either sewing or bottling salsa or freezing corn. I'd rather be camping!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Statistical Update

To date the mighty hunter and his trap(s) have caught:
  • 1 small skunk, no longer in this realm
  • 1 very mad cat, who knows where
  • 1 squirrel, heart attack victim or some other unknown cause
    and
  • 11 skunk birds, which have been relocated
Still at large and on Alan's most wanted list:

  • 1 HUGE skunk
When the kids were little, I always felt like they could come and film the Wild Kingdom at my house most anytime. However, I'm feeling it more now with Alan. I can just imagine what the commercials would be: no-fail live traps that shut no matter how big the prey, GPS systems with the nearest bird refuges already mapped in, electric fences???, tomato juice, and perhaps artificial corn stalks with ears of corn that are like fly traps or they squeak or have some other alert system built in. I see a long-running series coming already with lots of offshoot shows as they follow each of the mis-trapped victims through rehab. Definitely on one of the educational channels, too!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yes, It Rained Again!

Alan and I parked the trailer up Franklin Basin something or other on Wednesday and I went back up Thursday night to have some 'quiet time'. I was a basket case by the time I found the trailer between leaving later than I intended and forgetting small, minute parts of the directions (like bridges and rights instead of lefts). We'd backed the trailer into the trees so well that I was sure it had been stolen. I got settled in and stuff put away and was feeling pretty comfortable when a flash of light went past the trailer windows on one side. I was sure it was someone with a flashlight but just as I was going for the scissors (always my first weapon of choice), the clap of thunder shook the surrounding air. Well, I'm at 100% this summer for getting rained on while camping! Not a big deal. I can take a joke.

Did I mention, however, that we were backed up into the trees? Really tall, aspen and pine trees? I mean, lightening rod tall. So obviously as the thunder and lightening continued, I started to . . . not really panic, but make plans in case I had to make a hasty retreat. I packed up some of my personal stuff that I had unpacked. Put my laptop and camera under the kitchen table so if a tree did fall on the trailer, hopefully the table would protect the equipment (kind of like school kids under their desks in an earthquake). Then I started working up scenarios in my brain of 'acts of God' that could possibly happen and what I would do if they did. My thinking was four-fold: it was dry so lightening could possibly start a forest fire; I was under tall trees so lightening could turn one (or more) of them into premature firewood for some future camper (with a Husqvarna); since the bowhunt was starting on Saturday, there could be drunk hunters out there who had lost their way back to their own camp; and, last but not least, bears.

There is a little light at the front of the trailer, kind of like the little light that illuminates a truck bed while you unload it. To cover the first two possibilities, I thought maybe I should turn that little light on. After all, I was tucked back so far I'd even had a hard time seeing the trailer and I knew it was there. If emergency people were clearing the area, they might not look beyond a once over if nothing caught their attention. So, I flipped the light on and tried to go to sleep. That's when the third scenario came into view in my little mind. What if my light attracted some drunken hunter who'd gone into the woods for various reasons and lost his bearings or maybe a hunter had fallen out of one of those little shelves they put up in trees to sit on and watch for animals and hit his head and was deliriously lost? Maybe it would be better if no one could see me. Hmmm. Leave the light on and die at the hands of a drunken or delirious hunter or turn the light off and die in a forest fire or under a lightening-felled tree? I jumped up and turned the light off. And, actually, once I made that decision, said a few prayers and zipped myself up in my sleeping bag, the thunder became fainter as it moved around me and brought just a gentle rainstorm. Sigh of relief! At least now I was calm enough to figure out what I'd do if a bear should lumber into my camp and smash his hand through one of the windows.

Since I'd given Nellie directions, the same directions I remembered and had left out the bridge and the difference between right and left and when each one was appropriate, the next morning I rode Alan's bike down to the entrance of this particular area and proceeded to leave your typical redneck paper plate and duct tape signs. I then parked Grampa's bike a little ways in front of the trailer. After all that effort, the bike was the only sign they saw and recognized. It was a fun camp, of course. Hikes and bike rides and good food. And, see the earlier post, birthday cake and homemade ice cream! While the ice cream was freezing, Grampa had the captive audience he needed to tell his scarey skunk stories around the campfire. Can it get any better? There was another thunderstorm Friday night and more rain - even into Saturday morning but the kids made stew out of the mud and we got to go into Bear Lake for milkshakes. So, I say again, can it get any better?

I love this beautiful world Heavenly Father has created. It is magnificent. Whenever I get back in the mountains, I wonder what the pioneers thought when they saw all this for the first time. Probably not totally consumed with its awesome beauty as I'm sure they saw if for the ruggedness and challenges that it also possessed. I'm glad they stuck it out, though!




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