Saturday, May 30, 2009

Benefits of Union Membership

Sometimes you spend forever to find great stuff and other times, you stumble right on it.

We head out to deliver some cookies, and my son Brad, takes us on a little side trip to a wonderful spot he found while driving his UPS truck around. My heart, stars and garters indeed, we found a baby shetland pony out grooving in the clover with his mother. He was beautiful. He wasn't afraid of us, either. He trotted over to the fence and sniffed our hands for sugar cubes or whatever he hoped for, and went on his way, nursing, resting, and generally being adorable.

Above is his picture with four-year-old Alison. That's how little he is. He is now about thirty pounds. He was fifteen pounds when he was born two weeks ago.

I love Brad's job with UPS. He shows us the best things. Union guys? They're a good thing.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Paralyzing Power of Headaches and Bad Movies

I didn't write yesterday nor today because I had nothing really good to say. Yesterday I stayed in bed with a killer headache and today I have the residuals. (By that I mean a tiny headache and still only a modicum of a will to live.)

Further, I saw a disappointing movie the night before. We saw "The Soloist" with Robert Downey Jr. (How could you go wrong?) and Jamie Foxx. We even went late at night since that was the only showing. It was good, but not great. I think a true critic would say it lacked focus. Fishermen would say the water was a little muddy. An artist would say the lines were blurred. I'd say that I came out of there wishing for more. Carl's response was that it wasn't his type of movie, but it could have been. The story is about a Julliard man who left because of schizophrenia and was living on the streets of LA playing a violin with two strings who dreams of recapturing his days with Beethoven. He is found by a newspaper reporter named Steve Lopez who tries to save him. The story is true. How could they lose? I don't know but it just wasn't great. Even popcorn and Diet Coke couldn't do it.

Tonight, however, recovery should take place. Sophia and Ali are in a dance recital. Right now they are in a two-hour practice session, which should be hilarious since they are six and four and have the attention spans of a two and four year old. It will redeem it all. I have hope. What have I more?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

From the Sublime to the Sublime

Yesterday while in line at Costco, I asked the man behind me to save my spot while I dashed for bandaids. When I returned, slightly breathless, he told me he was ninety years old last week. He was amazing. He looked much younger than I thought a ninety-year-old man should look, and his face was beautiful -- bright, smiling, intelligent -- I don't know what I expected but definitely something more decrepit. It was great to see him. He did me a world of good. He made me very happy just with his robust, charming good nature.

Then within an hour I was holding little McKenna Haacke, two-week-old daughter of Liesl and Corey Haacke and sister to CJ. She's tiny and beautiful. She also did me a world of good with her gentle smallness, her sleepy, trusting nature and her pliable little body adapting to my chest. Her head was warm like babies head's are, her little hands and arms were curled in and her legs were so skinny and small, they were barely noticeable. I was overwhelmed by her helplessness and by how protective of her I felt.

Sometimes when I get tired of not having the energy and strength that I used to have and seeming to some to be a little past useful, I need days like today. I love life in all its manifestations and I'm not going to forget these two people. They meant a lot to me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cemetaries Are Regenerative

We put flowers on my parents' graves in Provo yesterday, and it occurred to me that the race is on to be buried near them. We offspring have about five spots left around them, and the first to die win. I have four brothers and we own the plots as a group, and I guess respective spouses are planted nearby just by default. Do the math.

Our parents' plots in the Provo City Cemetery are in a wonderful place. Bullocks are near, and the Finlaysons. The Drs. Clark are nearby but I guess they are no longer a problem. And with my parents close by, the odds are better that we'll get flowers occasionally than if we're buried in South Jordan or Sandy though I'm sure Brad and Julia will stop by South Jordan to keep us company. My second choice, however, would be the Salt Lake Cemetery though I suppose my four grandparents are all ready knee-deep in neighbors with no more room for us.

Cemeteries are wonderful places, especially on Memorial Day. Even my granddaughters seemed to enjoy walking among the gravestones and flowers looking for the graves of babies. I love reading the dates on grave stones, love to read the odd and obscure comments and enjoy seeing names of families I knew from Provo. I only wish ordinances didn't prohibit more versatility and creativity among stones, but that's to be expected, I guess, if you want the lawns mowed. I like the benches, too. I've always told Carl I want a bench with the words "Come sit a spell" written on the side. Who knows? Maybe he'll provide me one. He just better not go first. I'll put a really rude comment on his bench if he does.

My parents graves, however, remind me that parents are missed no matter how much time has passed. It's been twenty years, almost since they died. I'm only one year younger than my mother was when she "shot-on-over" on Halloween night in 1988. What a perfect night to go. She would have loved it if she had not planned it. She had made the whole thing begin in a holiday mood by being born on the first day of spring, 1920. Was she terrific or what?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weighing in on American Idol

I was shocked when my Facebook pals were thrilled with the outcome of American Idol. I didn't even watch the show this year except for bits and pieces, but I was totally crazy about Adam Lambert from the moment I saw him sing "Ring of Fire". Then I played "Mad World" over and over again. I was never disappointed in what I saw on Utube.

Now I know he wears makeup and I'm not convinced that earrings on guys around here in Utah is the deal. But I like his hair, I like his style and I really like his low-key demeanor and terrific responses to the judges' reviews. I think he's a class guy with a whole pile of talent and appeal. Though his look is a little over the top, his presentation never is. I don't think he ever was disreputable. He never addressed "sexuality". He just sang like a champ.

The other guy -- Kris Allen. I am not a real fan of country music, but I don't think there's much memorable about him. He's kinda boring. Except for "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone." That's a great song even when I sing it, though.

Maybe I love Adam Lambert because I loved the big-hair bands and their craziness in days of yore. Maybe it's because people explain their gladness he didn't win because of fears of what he might represent. Haven't people done that for years? Elvis is an institution today but in the fifties, he was dangerous. I'm not so sure that the Christian vote, if that's what did it, made the right choice this time. But maybe it's just me.

I love Abbey on NCIS too.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Oquirrh Temple Open Houses Begin

We went to the neighborhood showing of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple this morning and were totally thrilled at how beautiful it is inside. It's tiny too. The rooms only accommodate about twenty-people, but there are sessions going on both sides which both end up in the same Celestial Room.

The decorating theme has alot of eternity circles in it and four-point stars in the opaque windows which catch the sun beautifully. Rich and elegant, but definitely with clean lines and lots of white and gold and open airiness.

Can't wait to get it open and functioning now.

I can definitely see why they chose that spot for the Temple and I'm so glad they did. It's on a unique promontory and you can see it from everywhere. It's always a nice reminder of who we are. It always gives me a little lift when I see it. It's so wonderful to have it in the neighborhood.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Steps and Mortar Boards

Granddaughter Ali has a certain swagger today. She graduated from Miss Karen's Preschool. It was a lovely morning, complete with caps and gowns. Max cried because his hat wouldn't stay on and boycotted the proceedings by sitting down, but other than some other hats coming off, everything went without a hitch.

The Alphabet Song was probably sung with most gusto, but "I Love to Eat, Eat, Eat Apples and Bananas" was close. Maybe ten or twelve songs in all, sung with waxing and waning heart. Then there was the parade of grads and a diploma, complete with a hug from Miss Karen. Cookies and water followed as the grads and their parents exchanged well-wishes for the summer.

Steps in life generally increase in difficulty, but along with that comes increased competency, it is hoped. With cherished teachers like Miss Karen, how could we go wrong? But then we sometimes do. Maybe it does have to do with the hugs and cookies. Maybe also a mother who drives you to school both figuratively and literally?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fiction Compared to Bare Bones Truth

Just finished reading "the Lion's Game"' by Nelson DeMille. Really. Enjoyed it even though it dealt with a rather relentless Libyan assassin who was nasty throughout. Rex, my cute baby brother, gave me a bunch of books to listen to and all are good so far. Also finished "The Keeper's Son" by Homer Hickam, which was about an actually rumored attack on the Eastern Seaboard during the Second World War by German U-boats. For those of you who are purists and enjoy your history without embellishments, I've learned much about International relations, history, geography and our own government to satisfy most and the fictionalization that goes along with it is just fine with me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When Flaws Collide

Well, good morning. I woke up today with my right eyeball fully bright and red like the sun. It looks awful. Julia, the daughter-in-law, cringed, squeezed her eyes shut, turned her head away and said ewwwwwwwwwww.

I should go through crowds shouting "make way for one who is unclean". I feel hideous. Isn't there always something? Bad hair, big zit, pants too tight? This is infuriating. Yup. There's always something.

Further, I hate my phone. It's a Treo from Sprint and people always complain that I'm not answering my phone. On occasion, I hear a little "ping" from my phone and if I look, I'll find a contact (phone number) highlighted. But I don't usually hear the "ping". I just miss the call. Don't "Trouble Shoot" for me. I don't have wrong settings or my sound turned off or anything like that. It's just a crappy phone.

Today it hit the fan, though, because I missed a call from my doctor, as re: my eye. Two pains converged. When I called immediately back, I got the recording of course. This sucks. I'm heading to the Sprint store AGAIN to try to figure this out. While there, they won't be listening to me either because they'll be busy being grossed out by my eye.

And those of you who have great hair? Don't you ever complain to me or say you know just how I feel. Great hair is compensation for anything short of chemo. Bad eye, stupid phone, fat behind. All that would be okay, I bet, if I just had great hair, but too bad. Thanks for the moment. I needed the rant.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Written on my ITouch While Thinking about Mother's Day

(Written May 13, 2009)

On this day, a few days past Mother's Day, two incidents involving my mother-in-law come to mind.

The first was inadvertant. We were going home to Chicago after a short visit to my in-laws house in Wabash, Indiana. Nobody was ever overly affectionate in that household though I think everyone presumed they were loved. As we drove off, mindlessly I said "I love you" out the car window. I felt stupid but continued on with the business of going home. We'd forgotten something so we quickly turned around to get it. As we got there, Carl's mother was wiping away tears. I was profoundly amazed.

Years later, she and I were sitting in the back room watching television. Her feet were up on the couch. For whatever reason, I decided to rest my hand on her leg. I think it was because there was no room to lay my hand on the couch. She didn't move a muscle. I left it there for just a few minutes then moved it. I'm not sure why I remember that day so well or even at all, but I do remember it with great fondness and think how glad I am to have shown that tiny act of friendliness.

I miss her a lot. I wish I could hear the funny way she talked with her head cocked to the side. I wish I could hug her for the morning I was so appalled when I came in on her telling my two little sons the details of a horrendous crime she'd listened about on her police-band radio. I was always amazed at the way she could call up minutiae of facts, details and dates until I figured out she made up a lot of it as she went along. I’m so glad I told her I loved her even though it was just that once and I’m glad I showed her that little act of friendship for just a few seconds. She’s gone and I wish I’d shown her more, but I can’t. But I did show something.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nothing Like Picking Up a Good Book and ...

Sophia has learned to read. "No job too big or too small", she suddenly read on a sign just outside an auto repair shop. I was surprised and impressed.

It's hard to say when she learned to read. One day she was learning sight words in kindergarten, and the next she was reading.

I don't remember learning to read either though I did so in Mrs. Turner's First Grade class. One day we were assigned reading groups and we got together and read. The groups were called something like the "Frogs" or the "Bears" or the "Lions" though we all quickly figured out which one was the fast, the medium and the slow group. I think all of us in the class could read, though. It was just a matter of how speedy we were. We did like to learn in those days.

Brad thought he'd learn to read on the first day of First Grade. He was a little disappointed, but it wasn't long after that that he did learn. He doesn't remember actually learning to read and neither does Ben nor Carl. It was just one of those amazing things that comes along and we get it. Things that great don't happen often in life, but when they do, they are stunning.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sometimes It Just Feels Like More Than Good Luck

A few nights back, I played Russian roulette with the car GPS. We went to dinner, as a result, to Razz's Bar and Grill, a surprisingly pricy spot here in Scottsdale, AZ. The chicken scallopini was absolutely delicious and the raspberry torte was perfect. Just the proper state of mushy. Ben even joined us for dessert making the evening complete.

Carl told me early on it was my birthday dinner because of the really heavy price tag even though it was a day early. That was fine with me because it was just what I would have wanted had I picked it. Sometimes luck feels like lots more than just that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Earth - The Movie

We went to see ‘Earth” today and it was magnificent. It was not the absolutely thrilling spectacle I had expected. Maybe it was due to the restraint held on the music rising and falling in the background. Also, it showed the plodding along of nature as the case often is, so it tended to be slow at times, but it was wonderful nonetheless. There also was no blood or graphic killing so it would not be alarming to the tender souls. But it was not for the really young children who were in the audience at the showing we attended as it didn’t keep their attention for very long -- all seemed kinda bored and one had to be taken out by a disappointed parent. That child preferred counting the seats although she couldn't count beyond 100 so she was a little restricted.

But I was stricken by the brilliance of the cycles and balances of nature, and to the great goodness of God in mix as I had anticipated. I probably wouldn’t buy it, but I definitely am glad I saw it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Daybreak -- Where We Live

The picture at the top is actually of my house. If you look about three-fourths of the distance from left to right, the white temple spire appears in the picture. My house is the one just to the right of that. The lake appears bigger than it actually is, but it's a really nice lake with a walking trail around it, a couple of beaches and eventually, an island -- hence my street, Isla Daybreak Road.

I have one son, a daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, two nephews and their families who live in Daybreak, too. It's wonderful here. Be sure that you stop by if you are out in this area -- 4493 Isla Dabreak Rd., South Jordan, Utah. And if you are of a mind to, we've got wonderful things going on out here and there's always room for more good neighbors. Think about it. I promise to bring cookies whenever Carl bakes them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Heading Towards the Cemetery

Today's my birthday and we are headed for Tombstone (pause for jokes and laughter.) I love my birthday. Carl sang to me before we even got up and I loved every beautiful word and note. Arizona is beautiful in the Spring. Bougainvillea is blooming everywhere.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Book Report -- A Debut of Sorts

Well, I really made a great impression, I'm sure, on my brand-new book club when I panned the book we read.

The book was Jodi Picoult's Vanishing Acts. The truth be known, I didn't like one of the characters in the whole book -- well maybe the four-year-old, but her part wasn't that big. I'd elaborate, but I'd spoil it for those who plan to read the book (unless I've all ready done that), and those who don't have such plans would be simply bored.

The word used by the group leader for me was "enthusiastic". Perhaps this is good, but maybe it's really a word that actually means, "You talked too much for a newbie at Book Club." I'll let you know later.

Our next book is Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Enemies, A Love Story." No doubt a much better book. I can say this without even opening the first page. If you have to ask me how I know this, don't even ask. Just Google the author's name. I'm just saying.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Great Place for Cheap Dates and Ice Cream on the Nose as a Bonus

There's not many better bargains than the McDonald's hot fudge sundae these days. You can sit for an hour-and-a-half laughing and talking while the children play on the indoor playground for about a dollar per head. Spring is here and I'm one of its celebrants. If you look outside, I'm the one there skipping and dancing in the orchard waving a billowing scarf over my head. Wahoo!

That's Ali, Julz and Soph from left to right. I love these people.

Do Not Think I've Given Up on this

If you happen to be a regular reader which is highly unlikely, I know, please do not abandon me. I'm having difficulty getting online with any regularity since I'm in ARIZONA and my timeshare no longer offers online accessibility as I like it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Addition of Ads

I'm certain some of you have noticed the ads beside my blog for sexy wallpaper and tattoos here in the Salt Lake area. Rest assured that I'm not promoting either. I simply clicked the adsense icon and said "yes" and that's what I got. I'm also sure that if I earn a quarter off the whole deal, I'll be lucky, but give me some time to figure this out. Who knows? Maybe it'll be enough to share with all of you? Actually, I've noticed that the ads sort of coincide with my topics. For example, my blog on insomnia had about five sleep clinics listed at the side. I'm thinking that there must be some odd little program in some great computer in the sky that scans for words in the blog. Perhaps if I mention that I might kill someone for some reason, ads for gun stores or at best, pawn shops will appear. Maybe today? Check. I'll report how much I make.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mme Heftybutt Makes a Decision

I am joining Weight Watchers. Rejoining, actually, but they took a signup fee so I think I must be considered a new chunky to them.

Atkins worked for me for so many years that I just couldn't make the shift. In 1989, Dr. Robert Payne suggested that I stop eating white flour and sugar just to see if that might be the cause of my killer migraines. The headaches stopped within two days and I never looked back (except on those occasions when I couldn't resist and paid with a big headache.) I took the additional step of eschewing carbs altogether and the rest is history: I lost twenty pounds and sustained a size ten for years and years with no problem. Then as life started getting more sedentary and the body chemistry started failing, I plumped. I was whapped with the fat brush. It painted me rounder and rounder until my size fourteens really hurt some days. I did lose twenty pounds last year, but ten is back now. I'm not the purist I was back in the days. Places like Cafe Rio have ruined me with their rice and beans.

Atkins could probably be working still, but there is a limit to the number of calories even that can withstand. Besides, remember the beans and rice? But I must do something. I can't stand it any longer.

I did try Weight Watchers once a couple of years ago when I went to a meeting with Marki Baxter from LDSBC. All that happened then is I threw money at a desk clerk, attended one meeting and forgot the whole thing. No weight was lost because no weight was watched. I don't like counting and measuring. Maybe this time I'll see if I can't just eyeball things for amounts. I really used to cook so I know what a half-cup looks like.

Before you is a desperate woman. I know at this age, I'll never really look comely in a bikini. But I do know that with the stairs we've got in our house, my knees will greatly appreciate thirty pounds less. We'll see just how desperate I am.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I is for Insomnia, Ipods and Idiocy

Insomnia is a beast. It's what makes me lay awake nights, looking at the ceiling, thinking about nonsense. I'm not worrying, but just letting a Rolodex of junk run through my head. It's what's driving this writing right now. I look at my clock and it says 3:51 AM.

It usually begins around 3:30AM and goes until about 6. Sometimes I get up and sometimes I just lie there, checking the time light on the ceiling, bleary and wrecked until I finally go to sleep again, hours later. Even after mother started into her dementia, she told me she would wake up and listen to Art Bell's "Coast to Coast" on KSL on a little plug-in radio earpiece she'd place under her pillow so she wouldn't disturb Dad. I wonder now what she thought about telepathy, astral projection and the extra-terrestrials Art would love to talk about. Too bad she's not here to ask about it. That was the last Mother's Day gift I gave her: a replacement earpiece because her other one broke.

If I'm smart, I grab my Ipod and listen to books on tape. I can tell when they've worked when I start losing the story and know I'm drifting back off to sleep. I turn off the book and usually fall asleep. That's really what I ought to be doing right now, but, oh well. Who's thinking clearly at this point.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Shout Out to the Toad

My brother, Mark, was always the good one until, at least, baby brother, Rex, came along. Mark always was a happy, smiling kid. When he was a toddler, he had tons of curls encircling his dimpled, little face. We girls in the neighborhood dressed him up like a doll, and he looked adorable. No wonder mother loved him so much.

I think, though, that all that made my father a little nervous, because when Mark went along for the ride one day with older brother, Brent, and Dad, he came back thrilled and running on chubby little legs to show mother his shorn locks. All the distance, he ran rubbing his fuzzy little head. His hair wasn't just cut, it was buzzed.

His hair never quite grew back the same. Mother cried. She literally cried. She said she knew what had happened as soon as she heard the whoops of joy from Brent and Mark as they ran down the sidewalk. Maybe she did.

Dad never really apologized. That was the fifties, for sure, when father knew best. But also, I think he might have felt that his actions were necessary, regardless of the outcome. Something like an intervention. I also think Mother probably conceded Dad was right, too. This was the fifties, after all. Hippie days were still more than ten years away. And even then my parents wouldn't have approved. But it was still painful to have her little cherub become just one of the boys. And boys, indeed, it was. I had four little brothers, though Rex was an afterthought of nine years. Afterthought? Wrong choice of words. Surprise he was, though he turned out to be Mom's favorite anyway. More on that later, however.

Carl and I spent ten days with Mark and Marci, Mark's beautiful wife, in Florida in February. Though the weather was definitely better than here, that wasn't what made it wonderful. Mark and Marci made Carl and me feel more welcome than the Spring blossoms. We visited here and there and saw manatees, a state fair, the Gulf of Mexico and where the World Series was played. But better than that, we talked. We talked about everything: the past, the future, secrets, our families, hopes, ideas, doctrines, the economy, you name it, we talked about it. We talked until 2:00 AM a couple of times. We talked constantly as we drove. We began in the morning and didn't stop until it was night. It was perfect. It was a reawakening for me to the joy that family is. My brothers are the best. Their wives are the best. But today, Mark, on your birthday, you are the best. If you were here, I'd squeeze you. You've won my heart again. Your kindness, insights and the enduring happy smiling face are all it takes to make me remember how much I love you. Eat gobs o' cake.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Covet for the Day

My all-time favorite calling in the Church was teaching Sunday School out at the Oquirrh Facility of the Utah State Prison. These inmates I taught were mostly sex offenders and drug addicts with the occasional murderer thrown in and all were very sorry for the crimes they had committed. Since most crime is a result of drugs and scrambled brains, sobriety brought on in prison brought new light on things. Most of my students were former members of the church with several being former High Priests. Each week I'd have a full house of people eager to hear my lesson prepared from LeGrand Richards' Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Most weeks we would cover little more than a page from the book and most lessons would have the imprint of hope upon them. Most of these men felt their sins had rendered them unforgivable, so each of them needed more than anything to hear that they could believe that forgiveness could be out there for any one of them. None was beyond the ability of the Lord to forgive. Never have I had more eager students and never have I felt the spirit as strongly as I did out there among those men.

Here's where my coveting comes in. My brother, Brent, has a new Church call out at the Utah County Jail to teach Sunday School. Ed Leary, my good friend and former neighbor, has a call to the Bishopric of the Oquirrh Facility at the Utah State Prison. Betty, his wife, gets to go along with him each Sunday. This is exactly the place where I taught. As can be imagined, I am envious of all of them. Each of them knows what I'm talking about when I say what a wonderful experience it was for me. I wish I could ride along in a pocket with them and be there to enjoy what is going on. The Lord loves all of his children, even those who have drifted far off the path and that was evident every Sunday.

Above is a picture that one of the inmates drew. Though the Utah State Facility is farther away from the Jordan River Temple than this drawing shows, and none of the prisoners had a view of the direction of the Temple, it still represents the longing that is there. Those are the prisoner's scriptures resting on his cot.

Friday, May 1, 2009