Friday, January 29, 2010
And today I'm feeling so blessed!! I've just been reading a few of my favorite blogs and have been reminded of how very, very blessed my life is right now. Not perfect, in fact far from it. I'm always struggling with myself - I'm so unruly!! And feeling so deeply for my family, each with their own struggles. Mountains to climb, mountains to climb. And yet as I read about others and what they are dealing with I realize that I am so blessed. Just trying to live up to what I have and what is expected of me. Miles and miles and miles to go!! And piles and piles of gratitude!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Tonight our friends, the Scotts, had us over for dinner. Jim is a butcher. He fixed us steaks. He bought a whole tenderloin and cut the steaks himself. He asked us how we liked them to be cooked. One medium well, three - medium rare. Oh man - melt in your mouth delicious. So amazingly good. We had salad and potatoes. It was all delicious. And then cheesecake with homemade blackberry jam on top. Now that was some really good food!!
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
And my prayer is that each individual is blessed according to his or her individual need. That each individual can heal, find peace, solace, comfort.
Isaiah 41:10 ""Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
Isaiah 41:13 "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Fashion is so simple for kids, just put on the clothes you like the best. You know, the comfy ones. That is how the most fasion forward outfits were created. Starting with shorts, usually blue or red, a t-shirt (doesn't need to match the shorts but it is best if it says something really cool on it or has a picture of a super hero), and the final touch - the boots. Just pull 'em on, oh wait mom is making me taken 'em off and put socks on - bother!!
I don't think they ever noticed the smiles that appeared on faces when we were out and about. (I really believe those smiles were in part smiles of remembrance, either connected with a favorite pair of boots or some equally wonderful fashion statement.) You've seen those fashion forward kids. They're happy, carefree, adventurous, full of fun, and greatly admired/mocked. (And they have moms who are either viewed as not caring about how their kids look or who just don't get it themselves or who are the coolest moms in the entire world, take your pick!)
I hadn't thought about that style for a long time until yesterday. I was driving home from the University of Arkansas. Here he comes. A grown up (I mean we're talking 50 at least, I mean he had gray hair!) with his unleashed dog (read my other blog for more info about that), walking slowly up the street. He was wearing a t-shirt, complete with a picture and words, denim shorts, and ----- that's right, COWBOY BOOTS!! They were nearly knee high, the tops were bright yellow and red and the foot part was brown - I'm guessing ostrich leather. Oh they were fine lookin' boots and I'm sure they cost a pretty penny!!
And I am happy to see and to say that FASHION LIVES ON!!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Lots of people here have dogs. Lots of people here have big dogs. Lots of people here take their dogs with them everywhere they go. They go in some stores, ride in the back of trucks, and go to the Farmer's Market. And of course people take their dogs for walks. On the Mud Creek Trail the dogs are leashed and people are careful, usually, to clean up after their dogs. And I don't think I've ever seen anyone walking with more than two dogs.
Today on the Red Neck Trail I first encountered a woman with her big dog, unleashed. My leashed little dog immediately goes into attack mode because in his head he is a big dog. We pulled over to the side and waited for the "danger" to pass and then continued on with our walk. The big dog didn't pay the least bit of attention to Mr. Bear, probably thought he was a rather foolish little dog!! And this woman wasn't carrying a poop bag. A little later a big German Shepherd came down the path, unleashed and looking alone. (Oh great!) He was followed by a Golden Lab, also unleashed but obviously they were together. At this point Mr. Bear is pretty fit to be tied which means that I pick him up. He is fighting like crazy to get out of my arms and into the fray - or maybe to start the fray - whatever. But now a third dog of equal size, maybe bigger, romps up to join the other two and then a fourth thankfully with a man walks onto the scene.
"Oh don't worry," the man calls to me. "My dogs are very social, wouldn't hurt a fly!" Maybe he hasn't noticed that I am trying to control a pretty hysterical "little dog." "Well, my dog isn't social, that's the problem." He just looks at us and walks past and thankfully his dogs follow without even looking back.
Mr. Bear calms down and goes back to sniffing the flora and fauna.
This man did not have a poop bag either. I wonder what size bag he would need?
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Beautiful, sunny, warm, fun, easy, friends, family, good food! The best day of the year!!
Sean, why did you bring your dog? Remember when Padrick decided he wanted to go in our canoe not in your kayak? Remember when he put his two front feet right through the top of the styrofoam cooler - I'm glad it was yours!!
Dad, remember when you decided you wanted to take Sean's kayak? Remember how much work it was?
Dave Sandburg, you are a most patriotic man. Not many would paint a flag on your toe!!
What a handsome group! Remember the lady who graciously said she'd snap the photo and then each time she thought she was done we handed yet another camera to take yet another group shot?
Remember the intensity of the green?
Remember the clouds that were so black and looked so threatening and then blew over? Remember that it poured in Minneapolis and we didn't get a drop of rain? Remember the people who didn't come because they thought it might rain and then their activities were cancelled because of rain?
I'm not sure why I love the 4th of July so much. It must have something to do with the weather - warm, sunny, wonderful!! And the tradition of honoring our country with fireworks no less - I do love that!! Being with friends - lovely!! Being with family - the best!!
It always starts with Music in Plymouth. This year's picnic was provided by Sean and Taste of Italy. It's not my favorite, far from it in fact, but everyone else loves it. The music this year was the best ever!! The acts before the Orchestra were fantastic, and the Orchestra was wonderful!!
And then the fireworks. Truly, the best fireworks show, every year it gets better. It goes on and on. It's loud, it's colorful, it's wonderful. We just love love love it!!
And then the day of the 4th of July itself ------------
Monday, June 22, 2009
But then one day in the spring Gretchen called me and asked if I would please go to camp again this year and in a weak moment and without a second's hesitation I said, "Sure!" So camp comes along and I was suddenly dreading it, just didn't want to go, thought about being totally irresponsible and just not showing up. But I packed up the car with tons of gear and headed north to Camp Tilden.
And then I found out why I was there:
1. The girls who greeted me with hugs and excitement that we'd be working together again for the 3rd year. Nothing replaces the feeling of being loved!!
2. The first night I had a very interesting conversation with a wonderful girl, Gus. I met her the first year I went, she is full of enthusiasm, joy, fun, clearly a role model for all of the other girls. The kind of girl you fall in love with immediately. That night I heard her whole story.
She comes from an incredibly disfunctional family, in fact she has lived with her grandmother for several years just to get away. No father in the picture. Brother is mentally wacked out as a result of drugs and mental disorder magnified by his drug abuse - he doesn't even know her anymore she explained. Other siblings struggling incredibly.
She was an angry young woman when she first went to camp. Picking fights with the other girls, wanting to run away, hard to deal with. She'd spend hours shooting baskets just to work off her anger. Leaders didn't know what to do with her or about her.
She explained that one day she took a hard look at the people around her and started to think about why some people were happy and others were miserable and decided it was the Gospel that made the difference. And at that point she decided that it had to become the central thing in her life. She set goals, Temple Marriage is a huge one for her, started to work hard at changing herself, focused on doing what would make her happy and living a Gospel centered life even though she had little support and even ridicule from those who should have been especially supportive. And there she is today, an amazing young woman. What a lesson she is to me, and what hope she exudes.
3. And then there's Sammy. Sammy owns and runs the camp, it is her family property. Had been an exclusive boys camp. now she hosts not only the girl's camp but other campers as well. She has canoes and tubes for those who want to canoe on the Big Sugar, she has cabins, and RV hookups. I met Sammy 3 years ago and we became instant friends. She is an amazing woman, a former dancer who still teaches master classes, I don't know her age but I'd guess she's in her late 70s or possibly early 80s. She is a classy woman, drives a bright red 4 wheeler she calls "The Streak", lives by herself, fords her road, that is water covered most of the time, to get in and out. She is devoted to the Church although when she joined the opposition she faced was huge, including her minister telling her husband to leave her if she decided to be baptized.
I was distressed when I got to camp to learn that she was in the hospital with heart problems. But then she and her daughter drove up to check things out - she had just been released from the hospital and was on her way home but wanted to make sure things were okay. She was dressed stylishly and was happy and passed hugs all around. I could tell she was tired though, and a little breathless.
The following day I led my girls on a hike, maybe we should say a walk down the road, to her house where we worked on certification and then she invited us in and showed us amazing pictures dating back to the late 1800s. Pictures of the original camp and the store her grandfather had started in Cyclone, MO which no longer exists, the swinging bridge that people had to use to get to the store, the camp when it was an exclusive boys camp (they even had a golf range), and post cards autographed by Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda when they were filming "Jessie James" there. She shared her conversion story with the girls and her testimony.
We went back again the next day and pulled weeds from her flower gardens and her tomato plants. And later she treated us to ice cream at the camp store.
She and I spent a couple of hours talking about life and the future and politics and love and marriage. Her advice to me, "Do something for yourself!" I'll take that to heart.
My visit with her was totally worth the camp experience. How often are blessings found in the most unexpected places when we are doing the things that we'd least like to be doing!!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Now here's the problem with the story, there isn't enough information. We don't know how long this mom had put up with the bickering girls. We don't know what they were bickering about or how intense the fighting had gotten. We don't know what kind of neighborhood she dropped them off in nor do we know if she drove around the block and came back for them. And we don't know what she was really contemplating doing to them when she decided it was safer for all concerned to just kick them out of the car and drive away. We just don't know enough. But I will say this, my sympathies are totally with the mom!!
I was remembering two separate incidents when my parents threatened me and my brother as a result of our bickering.
The first was on a Christmas trip to California. We had gotten to the half way point and probably had driven our parents nuts. We stopped for the night and they announced to us that we were heading back home in the morning because they couldn't take our fighting any more!! I remember crying myself to sleep and resolving that the fighting would end immediately. The next morning we got in the car and to our immense relief they continued driving to Calif. I doubt that we fought for even one second the rest of the way, probably bent over backwards being kind and loving. But I bet, can't say that I remember for sure, we picked up the fighting once we were headed back for home after the Calif. Christmas - after all, what could they threaten us with then?
The second incident occurred when we were on our way back to our farm from somewhere - I don't remember where. I guess we were carrying on in the back seat beyond endurance because my dad finally stopped the car and we were ordered out and told to walk home. No neighbors nearby, no stores, we were waaaaaayyyyyy out in the country. As our parents drove away leaving us in a cloud of dust they shouted, "We hope the bears don't get you!!" Now I think we should have been scared or sorry but instead we became a team with a mission to accomplish. We started walking and then remembered that dad had told us about a shortcut that he used to take through a quaking aspen patch and so we left the road and headed for that patch of trees. We truly fought our way through the undergrowth and the trees, we could have used a machete, and we were having a great time. We had made pretty good progress when we heard our parents frantic voices calling our names. We headed back to the road to find them, talk about trauma and emotional scarring, mom and dad were beside themselves with fear and panic. They acted all brave and everything but they also told us they were worried that the bears really had gotten us. I don't remember them ever ordering us out of the car again. I guess they learned their lesson!!
Now let's talk about emotional scarring and trauma - when I was a kid my dentist didn't use novacaine. And I still can't handle going to the dentist!! Yep, scarred for life!!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Maybe it's not true of everyone but with each big life event that has occurred in our family I have always had this slight concern that just maybe things might not turn out okay. No particular reason, in this case it was probably just a mother's concern for her child and deep hope that he'll always have everything he needs to be happy. Concern based on the unknown - the future. And then at some point comes the peace and the calm feeling that everything is just right and "God's in His heaven" looking over us all. It happened twice during this week of wedding festivities, once when I was alone and silently contemplating and praying. The knowledge that this is a good match and that this is right. And then the seecond time as the sealing was taking place, seeing the absolute joy and excitement on the faces of Morgan and Chris - absolutely no denying that they were nearly bursting with joy and excitement!! After that it was easy to just sit back and bask in the glow of the wedding festivities!!
What a beautiful day - perfect weather, the whole family together, in the perfect place. Who could ask for anything more?
Saturday, March 7, 2009
We went to bed hoping that in the light of morning he would look better, like maybe it was just a bad dream or a nightmare!! NO SUCH LUCK!!
My first phone call this morning was to Carrie who just happened to be back from vacation and could cut him at 9:30 am. She laughed and laughed and then wisely said, "You just never know what this recession will drive people to do!" and then she added, "Now you probably appreciate what skill professional dog groomers have."
She trimmed him up, we call it a buzz, and I tipped her handsomely!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I've been going through photos looking for a variety of Chris pictures for a slide show. What an experience. It's a little like watching years slide through your fingers. Years that I now realize just dissolved. I thought they'd last forever. And so many questions come to my mind - questions that I can't answer and questions that might not ever get answered. Questions about me, about my parenting, about my kids, about their choices, about the future and the past, funny no questions about Jere, he's a rock. Maybe not always right but always resolved and always trying to do better and move forward. And questions about now, right now. I love Scarlett O'Hara: I'll think about that tomorrow!!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
A couple of years ago there was a flood in her basement. I went home with her to help clean it up and discovered two absolute treasures, an old diary and a collection of letters from my dad to her. They were written during the same time period. It was fascinating to have a glimpse into her life when she was in her late teens and early twenties. It was strange to read about her going to play tennis or going skiing when I've never seen her do either of those things. It was strange to read about a man named Gordon, who she was dating when she met my dad, and to continue reading about her emerging feelings for Craig, my dad.
It has been hard. I'm not sure what to do for her. She is stubborn and independent and wants more than anything to preserve her house as my brother's and my inheritence. That isn't going to work because she needs that money to live on. And that's exactly what she should use it for.
Aging - it's just hard to watch. It's hard to cope with. It's hard to deal with. It's just hard, hard, hard. I love her and at the same time she drives me crazy. I constantly remember the good things though, all of the years and the things, so many things, that she had done for me. I wish I could be better. I wish things could be better for her.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
That sun is tricky. As soon as I get outside, it ducks behind a cloud and the beauty has vanished. I play the go in and go out game. I'm not very satisfied with my pictures. I just can't capture the incredible beauty but I try my best.
As the sun is shining we start hearing the dripping of melting ice. Along with continual cracking and crashing. I think maybe some of the branches were glued up there and as the ice melts they continue to fall. So along with the beauty there is still the awful sound of destruction.
Still no power so the Sisters decide to stay the night again. But another miracle is about to occur, just around the time the Garff's come back with Arby's the lights go on, the furnace starts up, the fridge starts to hum and the tv, well - it doesn't come back. Something about trying to find a signal. Oh well, we're okay without it.
We play Cheese and Crackers again and again and again and then the Garffs decide to head back to their apartment to sleep there. (I find out later that they didn't have power, and yes it was another freezing night for them.) We snuggle down in beds in the bedrooms, which I had up to this point kept closed off to keep the heat in the middle of the house. Life is good!!
One look out my front window shows me terrible devestation. I'm so sad. I call our Senior Missionaries. They have no power, it's so cold in their apartment. I invite them over. They tell me that as soon as they can chip their way into their car they'll come over. We eat breakfast. And then I make the most wonderful discovery of all time - I have hot water!! That beautiful gas water heater has been quietly doing its job and there is hot water!! Two seconds later I'm in the shower, feeling rather luxurious. Still no power but I'm not so concerned about that now, I just sit by the fire and dry my hair. The Sisters take turns having showers. It's the most wonderful thing in the world!!
Elder and Sister Garff finally pull into the driveway in their heavily ice laden car. The roads aren't too bad but trees are down all over. So this seems like the perfect time to - that's right - make a craft. I pull out pretty paper, composition notebooks, glue sticks, ribbon, stamps, you name it, and the ladies get busy and make beautiful notebooks. Takes us the rest of the morning. Elder Garff alternately studies and dozes. We've got beautiful music on the battery powered CD player and that wonderful fireplace keeping us warm.
Now on the ride home I start thinking about another problem. The gas light on the car is on and the tank is at the E mark. I pass several gas stations, each has a rather long lines of cars and the prices seem to be too high, I'm sure I can find it cheaper, so I continue on my merry way assuming that the stations nearer my house will be best. OH NO, White Oak Station is closed. OH NO, the station on the corner is closed. OH NO, the one down the street is closed. At this point we just head for home.
We light candles, turn on my little lanterns, and fire up the few briquettes I have. While I am cooking dinner on the grill I am constantly hearing the sharp "CRACK" and crash of limbs falling. Some are so close that we run to the front door to look, and right across the street the trees that tower over the two-story house are cracking and falling to the ground. Right next door, limbs are littering the yard and totally blocking their front door. At this point this sound has changed from awesome to terrible and terribly sad! Throughout the evening we continue to hear the "CRACK"/crash. It's awful.
The gas fireplace makes the house cozy inside. I heat up water on the grill and we drink hot cocoa and play "Cheese and Crackers." It's so dark. At 7 pm I'm ready to just climb into bed. Still no power. Not a light along the street. I'm wondering how the ward members are doing. My cell phone is about to die and I don't want to charge it in the gasless car. We last until about 10, the Sisters make beds on the couches and I fill up an air mattress so I can sleep comfortably in the living room too. We read scriptures, have a prayer, say our own prayers, and fall asleep.
I'm wishing I could take a nice warm shower. Should have done it earlier!!
We stop at Taco Bell for lunch. On our way back to the Sister's apartment they let me know that they can't do any work today (by the way, at this point we have learned that the U of A is closed, many stores are closed, the government buildings are closed, AND they are starting to cancel basketball games, this is getting serious!!) so could they do anything to help me? Thinking quickly I say, "Yes, I want to move some furniture and if you're sure it's okay I'd love to have some help." We start to notice that the trees are bending down and branches are hanging pretty low under the weight of the quickly accumulating ice. While I'm waiting at their apartment I start to hear the loud crack and crash of branches snapping off and falling to the ground. Let me tell you, that's an awesome sound, at least I thought so then. A huge pine by their apartment has lost its top and it's bending way over.
As we drive to my house the fun (????) really begins. Along Lakeview, a street lined with huge trees - many overhanging the road, we start to see branches - no let's make that limbs - falling. One whole huge tree has fallen and is part way into the road. In some places it is now a one lane road. At one point we're stopped under the deeply drooping branches of a huge tree waiting for oncoming traffic to get past, still seeing and hearing branches falling in front and behind us. Okay, this is getting really frightening, I don't like it one little bit. I don't want to die in my car crushed by an ice laden tree!! Luckily we make it home without incident.
It's cold inside, okay not really but my idea of cold is where I've started to take sides with the Arkansans, and I think 65 is pretty nippy. Luckily I've got a gas fireplace and it quickly begins to heat up the house. We laugh and move furniture. I locate lanterns and candles and flashlights. And then it's time to take them back to their apartment.
Tuesday - the day I take the Sisters grocery shopping. We always go out for lunch. It's our tradition!! (Actually Sister Lemmon calls it "our party"!)
I check outside to see just how bad it is. The streets are wet but not at all icy. Lots of traffic going past the house. The bushes and grass is glazed and really quite beautiful. Mr. Bear and I hop in the car, camera in hand, to check things out and to take a few photos. Amazingly pretty!! Ice is accumulating on things but the roads are in great shape. When we get home I start putting the pictures on the computer. Flicker go the lights, off goes the computer. In a matter of seconds everything is going again and I start the computer and go back to my photo task. Flicker go the lights, off goes the computer. Once again it's only a matter of seconds before we're back in business. Once again, flicker, off, and then this strange sound - like a toy when it runs out of wind-up. Furnace is off, fridge is silent, tv is quiet, and things are just a little darker inside. "Hmmmmmm, I should have showered, now my blow drier won't work!" Silly me.