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!


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
  • 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!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Literally a Handful!

Don't these pictures show a parent's responsibility and devotion and love so simply? I was amazed when I looked at them side by side as I could see how a parent 1)walks by your side to be able to pull you back before you do a serious face plant in the dirt; 2)stands behind you, believing in you and supporting you no matter what you want to attempt; and 3)steps out in front of the bus, so to speak, to protect you from harm (sometimes yourself).

I think the clearest picture memory I have of my babies is holding each of them and looking in their deep, bottomless black eyes and promising that I would never let anything or anybody hurt them. I've made a fool of myself several times keeping that promise, too. I've made enemies, sometimes of those I meant to protect. Does every mother make that promise or was I just too young and naive to know what all a promise like that would commit me to? I'd like to think every mother makes a similar promise and that we have every good intention of keeping it . . . up until . . . well, I don't know as I'll ever quit throwing my arm across the front seat when I suddenly hit the brakes, protecting some shadow of a child from years gone by from flying through the windshield. Sorry kids.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Learning Something New . . . Again

We learned something new today. These 25-30 skunk birds that have settled in our little space bubble are all orphans and . . . a protected specie! Evidently this is the time of year when all the mommy and daddy skunk birds gather their young ones together for one last group hug and then push them out of the nest. As these myriads of orphaned skunk birds take off through the sky to scavenge their futures, naturally, they start to band together. There's safety in numbers, right?

So, not only do these poor little orphans get free food from our garden, they also get a free ride to some spot far, far away. (That's a pretty accurate description of the majority of the clients where I work.) Sorry. I shouldn't editorialize so randomly. Anyway, hopefully we get the birds far enough out of town so they can't find their way back to our garden. Tonight I was starting to get worried Alan was going to go to jail for killing one of these victims of the generational rules of society while trying to get it out of the cage. Evidently it didn't trust Alan. How strange?? No trust for the trap setter??

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Update of Sorts

Well, not sure how honest I should be with our skunk update. Suffice it to say the smaller skunk met its demise in a barrel of water. 'Someone' told Alan they don't spray that way. I was feeling a little guilty about the whole thing. I mean, Heavenly Father created skunks, too, and even blessed them with a means of survival. However, we've also been commanded to harvest a garden and put up food in order to be more self-sufficient. This has become one of those areas I generally try to avoid. The day after the skunk departed this world, I went out the basement door only to have the immediate feeling I had been thrust into a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "The Birds". The backyard became winged and from the grass to the trees, it took flight. . . with skunk birds! I was sure the little skunk had been reincarnated and was bringing revenge down on us all. I slammed the door and went running upstairs to alert Alan of the wrath he had brought down upon us all.

There's a reason Alan is in my life. He calmed me down and quickly educated me to the fact that they were not skunk birds but magpies. Magpies may not be skunks, but they are similar in that they are also enjoying a free feast in our garden this year.

Well, back to the real skunks. Alan has figured out 'his' skunk is too big for the trap he has borrowed from Scott. Every night the bait is gone and the trap is tripped (say that three times fast) but there is no skunk. He's thinking the skunk is so big, it gets in and reaches the bait but is still in the way of the door so it can't shut and trap him in there. Saturday night, the mighty hunter came home with the mother of all traps! (Why do we always refer to something that is the biggest or the meanest as the "mother" of all????) The box says you can catch coyote, fox or possibly a small cow. Okay, now Alan's fish story talent is rubbing off on me and I'm exaggerating. But the trap is big. Carter stayed with me all day Saturday, spent the night (all by himself!!!) and went to church with us the next morning. Before going to bed Saturday, he helped Grampa set up the 'big' trap so they could catch the 'big' skunk. Grampa had him shining the flashlight down the rows of corn to make sure the skunk wasn't already there. Nothing like sacrificing the grandson! It didn't last long, though, as Carter got spooked and came in to get mean old brave Gramma. Needless to say, Carter went to sleep that night with visions of trapped skunks in his head.

First thing in the morning, he had to go out and check the trap. He came back in all excited. The trap had worked! "We've caught a cat! And it's mad!" Sure enough. There was a great big, long-haired gray cat in the trap. It could be heard yowling the minute you opened the door. It was hissing things that I'm sure we shouldn't be hearing at all, let alone on a Sunday! Grampa was hesitant to just let it out, thinking it was just going to come back. Ummmm. . .I don't think so. Unless it's really not very smart.

And then, later this afternoon, a couple of skunk birds flew into the trap. So, we're catching everything but Alan's 'big' skunk. We have been able to eat more of this new crop of corn, though, and it's yummy! The skunk birds are sucking the insides out of the tomatoes so we'll have to figure that one out. Gotta have our salsa!

Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, August 6, 2009

$2 Well Spent

I went to the grocery store this morning. Just outside the door was a young boy standing next to his bike. The bike had a basket on it and in that basket were some paper flowers. There was a sign taped to his bike that read, "Ethan's Origami". His smile was genuine and filled his whole face. He was one who would possibly have been shunned in most social settings because he had obvious mannerisms indicating lack of control over a lot of his muscles. I don't know even how to describe him. When he made eye contact, said "Hi" and waved at me, I melted. I walked over and had him describe his 'product' to me. His sales pitch was simple, with absolutely no pressure. As I selected the one I wanted and gave him my money, he added, "Half of the money goes to Primary Children's Hospital, too." Wow. He's possibly spent time there. Looking at him, I not only felt compassion but also gratitude that I lack his challenges in my life. Yet even with his challenges, he has found something he can do and sees others in need of his help. I returned to my car and watched him for a bit. Forget the chicken turning green in the back and the Max getting warm enough to explode. I was fascinated. He treated everyone the same, greeting them with a wave and a smile-filled "Hi!". And when no one was around, he danced! Joyfully. There was no music any of the rest of us could hear but, oh, how I would liked to have had him share the music he heard. Judging by his magnificently simple movements, it must have been a song of gratitude for the beautiful world he felt shining on him!

Maybe I lack his apparent handicaps and challenges, but I think I'm realizing today that he is much less challenged than I am in not-so-obvious ways. If all my lessons were so inexpensive and at the same time, so powerful.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Just a Warning!

These are the future drivers. These are the ones that will shuffle me back and forth between my doctor appointments, the grocery store and my nursing home.
And I wonder why I'm worried about growing old???

Where is the Fun?

  • No more spitting contests.
  • No more spitting seeds at your sisters (or brothers, if you dare).
  • No more volunteer watermelon plants coming up in the lawn or flower beds.
  • No more threats of, "If you eat the seeds, watermelon will grow out your ears!"
  • No more threats of, "If you eat the seeds, watermelon will grow out your mouth!"
  • No more looking in the mirror, wide-mouthed, trying to see the start of a watermelon vine coming up your throat.
  • No more seeds?????
Thank goodness they haven't mutated out the grin shape or the red-stained face!
And, by the way, it's 'waterbutton' to him and, yes, he's wearing a Halloween Indian costume Joe wore in Kindergarten!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Skunked Skunk-Hunter

Alan has found a new challenge to his manhood - a skunk in the garden. Make that two skunks in the garden. That he knows of, anyway. He says he's noticed for awhile now that some little varmint (the words have been softened to protect the reader) has been eating his new corn. He's been assuming it was a racoon. Whatever the little varmint(s) is/are, it's not polite when eating corn. It doesn't just pick an ear and eat it or take it home and share with the kinfolk. It knocks a whole stalk down and then nibbles off each ear on the stalk. Last Sunday morning Alan walked out into the garden to pick some corn and stumbled across a large, well-fed skunk.

Slowly he backed his way out of the garden and came in to get his 22 (that's a skunk gun, evidently). Of course, the skunk was nowhere to be found when he got back to ground zero. So, on the way back up to bring me home from camping, he stopped at Scott and Amber's and borrowed Scott's trap. Scott trapped six or seven skunks this spring, so Alan picked his brain for ideas on how to catch this skunk. Evidently the skunk likes the corn better than the bait Alan put in the trap because corn stalks were still being toppled. One morning he goes out and finds the can of tuna fish bait has been pulled out of the trap and through the garden and is now lying under one of the peach trees - licked clean. The trap isn't tripped. If you're gonna have a skunk in your garden, it might as well be smart, clever and agile!

That night I was riding my exercise bike when Alan came around the corner. Why I didn't grab my camera, I will never understand. He had his headlight flashlight strapped to his head (of course), his large lantern-type flashlight in one hand and his skunk gun in the other hand. In a very redneck voice, he announced, "I'm gonna hunt me a skunk!" I about fell off my bike I was laughing so hard. Needless to say, a little while later he came back in without a trophy, but he didn't stink, either. Kind of reminds me of "Children of the Corn" only it's a skunk family that lives in the corn field and eventually they will devour the whole world - one corn farmer at a time. I'm not really sure Alan knows what he's going to do if and when he does catch 'his skunk'. However, this time a couple of neighbors saw the skunk, too, so he is enlisting other vigilantes. Later that night he hears a gunshot. None of the neighbors admit to shooting anything, though, so we're not sure what happened or by whom.

The garden is still under attack. A couple of nights later, he is giddy with excitement because he and one of his fellow vigilantes are going on a skunk hunt. He almost didn't make it through supper, he was so excited. I asked him if we shouldn't start a bonfire (after getting a burn permit, of course) and if there wasn't some kind of dance or chant we could perform, but he declined any help I had to offer in this area. Once again he garbed up. This time he actually dressed up for the occassion, though, which I also thought was kind of funny.

Well, the outcome to this hunt was the same as the others and the skunk hunters were skunked again. He really should have danced around the bonfire and called out to all the local skunk spirits. Didn't Kevin Costner see his wolf or a buffalo shortly after dancing around his bonfire? If it works in the movies . . . okay, never mind.

However, he called me at work this morning - ooh, just looked at the time, I guess he called me at work yesterday morning - and proudly announced there was a skunk in the trap. Just a little one, though, not his 'big' one. (Almost sounds like one of his fish stories, huh?) He hasn't seen the big one since the night he heard the gunshot. After sharing his trapped-skunk news with me, he left town to go watch Joe's kids for a little bit and now he's hiking and camping with the scouts and I'm the one with the skunk in the trap. Was this in the fine print under "For better or worse"? I'm amazed at how much got fit under there! However, I'm thinking this falls more under the 'HIS' jobs and 'HER' jobs section. And this 'HER' ain't going near the skunk!

After Nellie got Carter home from his dad's tonight (yipee), he was concerned about what should be done with the skunk. Tyler and Layne came over to play for a bit and Tyler and Carter couldn't get their minds off the skunk in the trap. Alan has the trap in a cardboard box (one of Scott's suggestions) so the skunk is not easily visible. These boys and their imaginations, though. One minute they're sure the skunk is dead. The next minute one of them saw him move. Then one of them is saying the cage was shaking violently and they're sure the skunk is getting out. I went out to see what they were doing at one point and they came running up to me, both shouting at the same time, "We're making big plans for that skunk and we're going to need lots of flashlights, lots of guns and lots of tomato juice!" At least they were being realistic enough to plan for the worst!!

Well, the saga may or may not continue. Only time - and felled corn stalks - will tell.