Friday, July 31, 2009

Crosswords - Music - Mow Lawning

Just wait until you see how I can connect those three topics! The first is more funny. Probably just to me, but it makes me chuckle. I like to do puzzles: logic puzzles, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, anacrostic puzzles, any word puzzle (except Seek & Find), or just any type puzzle, really, but this is about crossword puzzles in particular. Sometimes the definitions they give are interesting, to say the least. A lot of them make me realize how difficult it would be to learn the English language - maybe any language. I've started keeping some of the more off-the-wall definitions in a little book. One definition really had me going, though, and it wasn't until I'd figured out all the words around and through that particular answer that I figured it out. Anyway, the definition was "Depression in a can". Okay, well, coming from my background, my first thought actually was, "They can 'can' that? Who would want to 'can' depression, let alone buy it once it was 'canned'?" I couldn't get past that. You've probably already figured it out. Anyway, I about fell off the toilet (sorry, that's where I do crossword puzzles most of the time) when the answer was revealed. Ready? The answer was 'dent'. Well, depression can put a 'dent' in a lot of things I've discovered, but a can?

What bothered me after I got over the humiliation of not immediately knowing the answer to that clue was how I literally got so hung up on the one channel of thought. My experiences immediately gave me not only a definition of depression but an emotional and somewhat spiritual knowledge of what it is and then all I could see was all of that 'stuff' pouring out of a can. I can hear your moans now. Anyway, that leads me to http://www.pandora.com/. It's a wonderful music website where you can type in a music genre, artist or song title and it not only plays the particular stuff you selected, but it also pulls various other music that they feel fits into the same type as what you specifically selected. I've discovered a new artist (not 'new' as in 'never been heard before' but 'new' as in 'I've never heard him before') - Joshua Kadison. I typed his name in and the website creators don't allow me to get 'stuck' on just him. They've pulled music from other artists that somewhat mimic or shadow the type of songs he sings, which has led me to discover several other 'new' artists who make me feel good with the words they sing and the notes they play. Artists and songs I wouldn't have discovered if I'd allowed myself to get stuck on Joshua Kadison alone, like I got stuck on one definition of depression and couldn't move beyond that.

This station does something interesting, though, because I'm not willing to pay for a membership. I'm allowed only 40 hours of free music a month. Since I listen to it constantly at work, 40 hours is really not much. Also, I guess to irritate me into buying a membership, every hour the music stops. I have to pull up the website and there is a little box that says, "We try not to play to an empty room" and then a button that says "I Am Still Listening" which I have to push in order to continue listening for another hour. Why doesn't the Holy Ghost come with a button like that?

I'm sure He doesn't like 'whispering into a deaf ear' any more than pandora.com likes 'playing to an empty room'. There are plenty of times when I could sure use a little nudge - total silence from pandora works well - and then the chance to regain my bearings, push a button, and return to listening. That's an area of my life I definitely need to work on . . . which brings me to a mow lawning experience I had last summer. "Mow lawning" because that's what it used to get called every so often by the kids when they were little and "last summer" because I've been a slacker this summer and haven't helped with the mowing as much. I was reminded of this experience during a conversation I was having with Carter this evening. He had asked if he could help me mow the lawn tomorrow.

I was noncommittal because the grass has grown so long, I explained, and therefore you have to walk so slow. Carter didn't understand why you had to walk slow. In my infinite black hole of visual explanations, I came up with the comparison to eating. If you eat your food too fast, you choke and have to eventually spit out your food (or have someone perform bone-breaking procedures which force you to hurl it out). The lawn mower was like that, I continued. If you feed it grass too fast, it chokes and either stalls or starts spitting grass out the sides. (I didn't want to go into how I have to stop the mower and reach my hand down there to dislodge the stuck grass sometimes - don't need him thinking he can do that, too). He thought that was pretty funny, though. Maybe it was the sound effects I attached to the visual???? Anyway, when mow lawning a lawn that has grown particularly long, I have to listen carefully to the machine I'm feeding grass to because there is an ever so slight shift in the sound of the engine when it starts 'choking' on the grass.

I specifically remember the time I was mowing last summer when I realized how carefully I was listening to the mower - for the warning sounds of an impending mess - in hopes of avoiding the mess altogether by dumping the bag before it 'choked'. I wondered then - and I still wonder now - why I don't listen that carefully and concentrated in my every day life for warning sounds of impending messes that, quite possibly, could be alleviated? Maybe if I 'dumped my bag' to Heavenly Father a little more frequently, making use of the Atonement He has so freely given me, I wouldn't find myself choking and flapping my arms as if flying (Amber will understand that visual), hoping someone sees and helps me out.

So, see, not getting stuck on one definition on a crossword puzzle leads to a music station that doesn't let me get stuck on one artist but also requires me to acknowledge I'm listening which leads to mow lawning where I need to listen to the mower to alleviate choking. Makes sense, right???

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I'm Spoiled

I know I'm spoiled. Alan's so good to take me camping on a whim! We made it to Power House over the Pioneer Day weekend. We pretty well got the last available spot but it was great - of course. It rained just enough to remind that Heavenly Father also has a sense of humor and that seems to have become our personal little joke this year! There was no testosterone challenge this time. Alan didn't try to overstep his capacities - or the capacities of his HomeLite.

Amber & Hunter came up a couple of times. Nellie came for supper Friday and brought Tyler and Layne - that was an unexpected surprise! Grampa took us on a hike and we enjoyed the creek and all the wild flowers.

Alan and I went hiking Saturday morning. I have to say I was wondering, if heat rises, why do we go to the mountains to cool off? Even though the thermometers in the vehicles all registered a 20° drop in temperature by the time we reached Power House, I still spent a vast majority of the time sweating. I did have some epiphelations (combination of an epipheny and revelation - like an 'oh-duh' moment) while hiking, though.

The trail was rocky and uphill and it reminded me of the Death March we went on in June. There was a difference, though, and it took me a minute to figure it out. On the Death March, we were headed somewhere in particular - the cave. No matter what condition the trail, it's easier for me when I have a goal on the outset. It's easier to keep going when I know there's something waiting at the end that will make it all worth it instead of walking aimlessley wondering when I have gone as far as I want to go and should turn around.
At a fork in the road, almost unnoticed because of the overgrown grass and flowers, is the sign giving the names of the different trails and the directions to take. It was not easily visible. I had to walk off the trail a ways so I could get close enough to take the pictures. I wonder how many signs I miss because they're not stuck right out in front of my face, making it easy to recognize them? Actually, I guess I'll never know the answer to that question. I wonder how many wrong roads I took because I didn't take the time to look for the signs?

If I take pictures while we are hiking, they're mostly of Alan's backside because that's all I usually see. My knees do better if I can take it slower. Going slower and pacing myself gives me a chance to look around and enjoy the beauty of it all, too. Coming back down, we were almost at our starting point before I even realized it and that caused me to think. When I'm struggling a little with a rocky path or an uphill trail, I tend to pay attention to my surroundings more. I'm going slower, trying to be aware of everything I'm going through or past or around. Coming back down of course, was easier and I hadn't paid attention to anything. I hadn't appreciated any of the sights and sounds - except for the pesky blow fly who felt entitled to a free ride down the mountain - like I had going up. It didn't take me long to realize that's the way I go through life, too. When it's easy, I don't end up with anything much and really, overall, don't enjoy the journey as much. When it's rougher going, I'm more aware of everything else in my world and have a greater desire for my Heavenly Father to be aware of me, too. Just random epiphelations.
As for the blow fly, it's been a long time since I was that annoyed by something. That's maybe why I got down the mountain so fast. Chalk another one up for Janis, too, I even continued on up the trail after having to walk through the creek that ran across the trail. I had to think about it but I crossed it - and lived to tell about it!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tribute to Manhood

I was downloading pictures from my camera and was reminded of this testosterone moment gone bad. Poor Alan. Where to start . . .

Nathan gave Alan an old HomeLite chainsaw for Father's Day. Nothing heavy duty - mostly just to use for cutting wet firewood when we're camping. So Alan has a new chain put on it and packs it on our camping trip over the 4th of July. The last day we were at camp, we went for a ride up the road. Maybe half a mile up, there was a quaking aspen laying across the road about waist-chest high. It wasn't there the night before but Alan remembers seeing it leaning and wondering if and when it was going to fall all the way. The blowing wind through the night evidently was all it took. We weren't the first ones to come upon the fallen tree, however.

There was another grampa with his grandson and that grampa was carving his grandson's name in a chunk of the tree. Alan gets out and talks to him for a bit and I can tell by his hand motions he wants to be able to have the name-carved chunk saved. So . . . you see where this is leading? Yup. After some deliberation as to whether Alan has the correct oil or not, Alan goes back to camp and gets his chainsaw. Can you hear the motor revving already??



He makes the first cut. No problem. Alan's pumped. He attempts the second cut. Problem. Not only does the tree split right through the middle of the name-carved chunk, but Alan's chainsaw is trapped in the tree.



Enter a couple camping a little ways away who have heard the chainsaw. Hmmm. How can I describe this gentleman and his wife? Suffice it to say, we may camp redneck. They totally looked it. They're older than us. She's skinny, skinny and in Daisy Mae shorts and a spaghetti strapped tank top with flip flops. He's twice her size; bearded, pony-tailed, wearing a sleeveless muscle shirt, levis and boots. He sees Alan's dilemma and immediately returns to camp for his "Husqvarna". While he's gone, the little wife mentions her husband's "Husqvarna" several times and how it will save the day. Never a chain saw. Always his "Husqvarna". Something about he worked one whole summer to buy her a vacuum and him this "Husqvarna". His "Husqvarna" will save Alan and his "HomeLite".

Pretty soon Redneck comes back with his "Husqvarna" hoisted up on his shoulder, holding it up there by the tip of the blade. He revs the motor and his first cut frees Alan's "HomeLite". And Redneck keeps cutting. Alan's not going to be outdone - even though there's not much of the tree left to cut. Alan starts his "HomeLite" again - it takes him awhile because his "HomeLite" doesn't have an electric start like Redneck's "Husqvarna". And Alan makes one more successful cut. His "HomeLite" and his manhood have been redeemed!


PS - I did finally add the picture of Alan's pup tent to the previous post, too!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Memories for Sale

Yes, I know. It's rolled into Saturday. Somewhere along the line a spring sprung in my internal clock or something. Anyway, we're having a yard sale tomorrow. I mean today. As always, I'm running around in the last minute pulling stuff off shelves and out of drawers and totes and bags and corners and sheds and wherever else it has sat for the last umpteen years not being used. I used to think of this as simplifying but I read something that said simplifying doesn't mean making do with less but rather appreciating the important things more. How do you figure out what's important? Is it important if it's more useful? Or is it important because it's older? Maybe if it's seen more action than something else? What about if it talks???

So, Alan's out in the shed showing me all the stuff I can pull out and sell. He points to a pile of stuff and starts listing off what's in the pile - a canopy, some old fishing paraphernalia, some old tents. When he gets to the tent part I see our first tent.




Oh, my gosh, if that tent could talk. We thought we were in hog heaven because it was plenty big enough for us and all our stuff. Us being me, Alan and baby Nate. It was a pain to put up, though. The maiden voyage for this tent was in June 1978, when Nathan was about nine months old. We went to Mirror Lake. We took one step out of the car and were immediately bombarded by the biggest mosquitoes I had ever seen up to that point and I've never seen bigger since. I sat in the car with Nathan while Alan put up the tent and then we dashed him into the tent, zipped it up and spent the rest of the time in there. It's a six-man tent but as the years went by, it barely held two adults and four little kids.

Underneath that tent, in an unfamiliar army-green duffel bag, Alan points out another old tent. One his mom made for him when he was 12 years old and going off to Maple Dell for Scout camp. News to me. I've never known about this tent. He claims he's had it ever since we got married but I'm not buying it. Anyway, no way he's selling that tent! It's kind of a penthouse of pup tents in that it's taller than I think a pup tent usually is. He's put it up now and we'll see how long it takes the grandkids to fall in love with it. I think I can figure out how she made it and I may have to add it to my menagerie of tent ideas. Obviously, I can't take a picture now, but I'll get one in the morning and add it.

So here's the tent. The wind was blowing so it looks a little scraggly. Well, it is a little scraggly considering . . . well . . . how old is Alan now???? I was right, though, the grandkids loved it. And . . . drum roll, please . . . I was also right that it hasn't been around since we got married! Nathan went and looked at it and said he remembers Joe and him pulling it out of Grandma C's basement and playing with it at her house. Being right once in awhile feels so good!


So, here's to memories past - some of them for sale!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yes, I'm Rambling Again!

I watched most of a new TV show last night and I think I'm going to like it. Maybe. I was expecting to watch a different show and, actually, an actor from the one I expected to watch was in this new one, only with glasses, and I spent a good part of the new show trying to figure out what the actor from the old show was undercover for. Got that??? However, the main actor in this new show also plays George in "George and the Dragon", one of my many favorite movies, and I think he's cute so that kept me watching and made up for my confusion about the other actor. Got that???? Well, the show had a couple of good one-liners. One of them was, "People may not behave the way you want them to behave but that doesn't mean the way they behave is wrong." It was just a different way of saying, "Walk a mile in my shoes" or "Don't judge a book by its cover" or any other adage along those lines only said in a way that wasn't so ambiguous to me. The other little memento I gleaned from the show was at the very end when the two partners are toasting each other. One of them says, "Here's to memories past." The other one counters with, "Here's to memories yet to come."

That struck me because sometimes I find myself looking backwards as if I'm thumbing through a photograph album. I look at all the 4x6 memories and somewhere inside I'm thinking all those things 'just happened'. What I need to remember is I'm creating - right now, this very minute - future memories.
I am creating them.
I have the control.
I can choose what tomorrow's 4x6 will look like.
Or rather what the 4x6 I'm looking at tomorrow will look like.

It's making me think. It's also giving me a headache. Could the two be related????

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Overdues

I've been called a lot of things and now I've been called a slacker. In this case, it's more than true, though. My blog is long overdue for an update. I kind of left it a little negative. Well that's about to change.


This past weekend was even more overdue than a new blog entry. Twelve years overdue, to be exact. My sis and her husband drove out from Chicago (Fox Lake, to be exact) and we got to spend some time together. I will definitely be attaching photos so there will be no denying that it actually happened. Visiting and laughing and catching up and laughing and eating and laughing were all fabulous and - did I say this already? - long overdue.


After Grampa started the tractor-train, there was a random, unexpected change of drivers as my brother-in-law, Allen, jumped up and kicked Grampa out of the driver's seat.




So, here's the proof it really happened. There's no denying it now, Allen, because if it's on the internet, it's gospel truth!





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At one point, Hunter looked back and realized Grampa was no longer driving the tractor-train. These are before and after pictures:




Needless to say, the time went too fast. However, Alan's had a couple of trips to Texas, one to Iowa and a couple of week-long scout camps over the years. I now have plans to start making it even - one trip to Chicago at a time!

Here we are! And just so you know - neither one of us are gray - we just have an overabundance of stress highlights.




In an earlier post, I was trying to decide if I really wanted to be able to have 'do-overs' or not. Well, I can certainly tell you I absolutely don't want any more 'over-dues'!!!!