Friday, November 30, 2007


I shouldn't post this because I don't have permission but I'm going to do it anyway. Probably the only people who read this are my friends and a few nice people who's blogs I've read and loved and you wouldn't turn me in. Would you?

I "Googled" Ian Frazier and found a recording of him. Click on the following "RA" (whatever it is) to hear LAMENTATIONS OF A FATHER. (RA) The recording is a bit different than the text. How I love it. Good for a laugh. Good for a whole bunch of laughs. Hahaha. Oh, how funny. You must listen to this and please pray that I'm not going to get into trouble.

Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles; Lamentations of the Father by Ian Frazier, The Atlantic Monthly; February 1997

Laws When at Table: And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even when you have an interesting bandage to show, your feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke. Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk, and lick it off, you will be sent away. When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck; for you will be sent away.

When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your sister what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your brother or your sister has done the same to you. Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food; neither seize the table between your jaws, nor use the raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to you, do not touch it, but leave it as it is. And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why. And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that, that is why. Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.

For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. I will know, and you shall have no dessert.

On Screaming: Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault. Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome to you, and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your nose. For even now I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat of it myself, yet do not die.

Concerning Face and Hands: Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice thereon. And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner wonderful to see. Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances: Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub yourself against cars, nor against any building; nor eat sand.

Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not that humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

Complaints and Lamentations: O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometimes do you spit, and shout "stupid-head" and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straightaway, "Can I come out?" and I reply, "No, you may not come out." And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out.


Phil was leaving the house this morning.

"Don't leave without a kiss," I said.

He puckered, then, with a wicked gleam in his eye, licked his lips and puckered again.

He left the house without a kiss, after all.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


One of our neighbors, Eli's daddy called me, asking if I would look up a different neighbor's phone number for him. So, maybe all their phone books got left out in the rain or something, I gave it to him and he hung up. Pretty soon he called back. Would I go to Eli's preschool and pick up Eli? Eli's daddy wasn't home--therefore the mystery of having no one's phone number solved--and his wife was not home either.

If he only knew what I looked like. I just dyed my hair so at least I no longer look like I belong to the skunk family but my hair was wet and sticking up like a wet and furry animal that went through a knot hole, backwards.

I have no make-up on.

I just ate five almonds so I have nut fragments in my teeth. If there is anything that bugs me about old people--not that I'm old, but you know I'm always looking to the future for what I should or shouldn't do when I get there. So, nut fragments, blurry eyeglasses and crusty salt remnants under their eyes are what I see sometimes on old people. I had one symptom out of three.

I went to the preschool and who should be there but the woman Eli's daddy tried to call in the first place. She was picking up her preschooler and Eli.

"My mom's stuck," Eli said to nobody in particular.

"Are you picking up Eli?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, batting her big blue eyes that had just the right amount of eyeliner and mascara. "His mom called from Wal-Mart and asked me to. She called my cell phone just as I was driving in." She looked like she didn't have make-up on but had been digitally enhanced by someone who makes Oprah look age 25 on the covers of her magazine. She is also blond, the kind of blond that is sun bleached but probably came from expensive salon treatments, and it's thick and perfectly curled. And long. She must drive her husband wild with her digitally enhanced looks and that long lustrous hair. I noticed she is pregnant, child number five. Yup, she drives him wild.

"Oh, I said. Eli's daddy asked me to pick him up too."

"Oh," she said, looking at my wild-man-of-Borneo hair. "That was so nice of you," Which translated into, "And you came out looking like THAT?"

"My mom's stuck," Eli said.

Then the gorgeous neighbor smiled. I saw one of those diamond-facet-sparkling-rays-of-light coming off her perfectly white teeth. I promise, I did.

I smiled back, forgetting about the nut fragments until I saw her eyes widening. I could see the whites all around her pupils. "Alrighty, then.... I'll just take Eli home with me." Rather than send him home with you, who may have escaped from "the home."

"My Mom's stuck." Eli said to everyone as he left with the perfect neighbor.

I slunk home. I'm stuck too, I thought. And not at Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


There is no way around it, I'm a technological duffus. I can't figure out all the TV, VCR, DVD remotes, barely can figure out the DVR. The TV Guardian? Hah. If I ever want to hear a swear word I'll have to learn to read lips because I don't know how to change settings, I don't even know where it is among all the gadgets Phil has hooked up to the TV.

Today I was cleaning the kitchen--no, I'm still not done but I uncovered things that archaeologists would be excited to discover--and I wanted to listen to a Carol Tuttle CD while I worked--so I can shed my insecurities and become well adjusted. But I couldn't get the CD player to work.

One reason is the CD player has buttons with words so small only ants can read them. In my random button punching frenzy I opened and closed the CD door a few times, turned the radio on and off and punched the button I was sure should start my road to well adjustedness. Nothing.

I finally called the fixer of all my technological stupidity and he ejected the CD, took it out and said, "Here's your problem. What does that say?"

"DVD," I said.

He sighed. I slunk downstairs to choose another CD. I put it in. Punched buttons. Waited. I didn't particularly want to disturb him again because he was contemplating washing the windows and if there is anything I wanted today it is to see clearly outside before the darkness descends, but finally I had to call for help.

He ejected this CD looked at it and said a four letter word, "Crap," which is about as four letter as he gets. Then he sighed. Then he took it out and handed it to me and wordlessly pointed out the word "DVD."

I stuttered and stammered and finally realized I'd be better off just going away. Which I did.

He washed the windows. I learned to read. Not too bad for a know-it-all and a duffus.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I mopped the floor. I used ammonia and it felt sticky so I rinsed it twice. The papers--some of them--have been put into the recycle stack. One day at a time and tomorrow is another day.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I am sitting at the computer, thinking I should finish cleaning the kitchen. The dishes are done. The floor isn't. Its unwise to walk in the kitchen without shoes. I'm longing for the Sunday morning when my overachieving sprinkler enlisted Phil to do the floor cleaning (Cleaning the Kitchen Floor 101)

The counter has all manner of things that don't belong there, including a half-full jar of pickles--what should I do with them? Are they still good? I'm not going to be the taste tester. So I'll leave them there until Phil throws them out. He will eventually. He's always saying, "Do you want to keep this?" about something that isn't worth saving and I always say, "No" and then he throws it out and I think why couldn't I have done that?

There is a respectable sized stack of paper on the counter and another one on the table. I love paper, truly love paper but once it's been used I don't know what to do with it. Drawings by the grandchildren--how can you throw those away? Love notes. Letters from friends. Stacks of drafts that have gone through either my personal history group or my critique group. There might be valuable suggestions written on them. Why didn't I deal with them the day they came home with me?

I want the Shoemaker's Elves to come in the night and deal with all my lingering papers. I don't want to do it myself. In my defense I did start on them today and then my husband came into the kitchen to fix his own lunch--probably because of that dog food crack he made several weeks ago (Why Old People Get Sick and Die) and he doesn't trust me not to slip an Alpo sandwich on his plate. So, his being there, underfoot, was the perfect excuse to give up and go somewhere else.

"Did I chase you out?"


"Well, blah, blah, blah," he said.

I really wasn't interested in his theory of why I had the right to stay in there and clean so I tuned him out. I simply didn't want to stay and work so I let him take the blame for the mess that didn't get dealt with. Of course, he is a reasonable man and isn't going to take the blame but neither was I so I will have to blame the cat.

I think I learned this not finishing business early on. Certainly as early as high school. Patsy, Dick and I got kicked out of Mr. Hunsaker's English class. In order to be admitted back in we had to write a 5,000 word paper on "Why I shouldn't talk in class." I didn't care if I got back into class or not but I didn't want to be the only one not in there and I knew Patsy and Dick were reasonable people so I sat down that night to compose my pathetic paper. I don't know what Patsy and Dick wrote but I wrote everything I could think of and still only had it half done. I was a smart mouthed teenager so three fourth of it was sassy. I finally enlisted my brilliant oldest sister's help.

"I can't think of one more word to write."

"How much do you have done so far?" she asked.

"About half."

She got a gleam in her eye and I knew I was saved. She wrote a poem, I'd pay money to have a copy of it but I didn't think it would ever be important and so I just copied it on the bottom of my paper and handed it in. It said something about my diligence, my devotion and the words, "Dear Mr. Hunsaker" were in there too. Then it said something like I've written 2,500 words and if he would just read it again I'd have made the required number of words. It was in rhyme and made me sound hard working and obedient. It lied.

I watched the next day as he read the last page. When he got to the last line he smiled. I was saved.

When I got the paper back he had written on the bottom, "This paper was 2,337 words long, not 2,500. He had counted every word! Who would have thought? I was a cheater even about the length of half of my required words.

And I'm still trying to get away with it. Send the Shoemaker's elves. You got in my space so I can't finish. It's the cat's fault. I have things I have to write. I'm too tired. I should just say I have an deficient tidy gene and call it good. I think I will.

Does it sound better to have an deficient tidy gene or to say I want to be a cheater and have things magically fixed, like they were in high school when I didn't have to write the other 2,663 words? I can't decide. One says I'm deficient and the other says I'm a cheater. I think I like being a cheater better because I can always repent but how can I repair a deficiency in my DNA? I don't want to be a cheater either. It gives me the shivers to even type the word. I just want it to be fixed and I guess I'm the only one who can fix it.

I need a class on Tidy 101. I sure hope I can find one on the Internet because I don't want to have to leave the house and go out in the dark and cold to take it. I'm boycotting the dark and cold this winter and I'd hate to have to go out in it and acknowledge that they actually exist.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I don't think I came from a world where there was night. I pretty sure I dislike this darkness that seeps in after the earth turns away from the sun. I like it dark to sleep in but I wonder, did we sleep in our life before here?

I like to see my neighbor's Christmas lights, which I couldn't see if there was no darkness. Three have them up, two across the street and one next door but I have to go outside--in the dark--to see the next door lights so unless I'm out driving or walking I won't see them much. Besides that, the dark here represents the cold and I dislike the cold, too.

So, I'm boycotting the darkness today. I am pretending that the sun is merely winking and the light will be back on in a minute. It will be warm outside and we can go play.

In the meantime, I go to the window, open the blinds and look out at the neighbor's houses. It makes me happy to see the color and cheer as long as I have to endure the darkness today. I should thank them. I should write them a nice letter--and then I will have only 72 letters left to make my last year's New Year's Resolution.

I should encourage Phil to put our lights up too so they can be happy to see our lights, just in case they are disliking the darkness today too.

And I guess I should quit whining because, really and truly, nobody likes a whiner. But I just had to whine a little because I am disliking the darkness, today. I simply am.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Maybe its not the builder's fault, maybe the fault lies in the architect's hands. As far as I am concerned the two most important things to consider when building a house are natural light plus the free heat from the glorious sun in the winter, and the view. Rechelle from The Country Doctor's Wife, agrees with me, or I agree with her, about the light. (Read her blog titled The Play of Light.)

We live in a mountain valley, sometimes referred to as Happy Valley. Sometimes that is serious and sometimes it is in jest. The ones who say "Happy Valley," with half closed eyes will find fault everywhere. Those who say it with seriousness would be happy anywhere. Happy Valley is a good place to live. We have all four seasons and wonderful mountain views. The sunsets aren't bad either. The summers are hot, just like summers are supposed to be--except for this last summer when we baked--the winters are cold, giving us a nice excuse to buy cute coats.

When we bought our house I was sad, and glad too, that our house faced east . East is where the view is. But east is not where the warming summer sun is. The warming winter sun hits the side of the garage. With just a little planning a room could have been built to take advantage of that wonderful winter sun.

I grew up in a house with a sun room and it was a glorious place. If you were home from school sick you could go lay on the couch in the sun room and bake the germs right out of your system. The heat that collected there spilled into the rest of the house. If I could afford it I'd tear our present house down and build a passive solar one with the solar room filled with flowering plants, ferns dripping with greenness and a hammock or two. I wouldn't build somewhere else unless I could take every neighbor with me so there will have to be tearing down done.

On our way home from the far north of the state--where we had Thanksgiving dinner with our son, his beautiful wife and their two funny dogs--we passed a new subdivision not far from our home. I am still shaking my head in wonder. South walls had either no windows at all or they built bathrooms on that side with tiny slits for windows. On the side of the house with the best mountain view they often put a garage. That makes no sense to me. What's the matter with people?

If I were in charge every house would have a view. Every house would have a room facing south. Every house would have a long porch, facing the view, with porch swings and a little table filled with lemonade and sugar cookies in the summer and the porch swings would be filled with friends. In the winter the porch would have a little table filled with hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies and the porch swings would be filled with friends bundled up in warm winter coats. There would be much visiting and laughter.

If I were in charge homes would have personality and lots of glorious daylight, winter and summer and always some kind of wonderful view. It's all about the light and the view, as far as I'm concerned.

And you know what else? Someone is going to pay a million dollars for those awful viewless, dark houses. Sometimes the madness of others is simply amazing.

Friday, November 23, 2007


My cousin, Dick and his wife, Lannie were in Arizona, at their daughter and son-in-law's house for Thanksgiving. He died in his sleep this morning. He didn't even meet the national life expectancy age.

I am so sad. He was older than me by a bunch--my sister's age so she knows him really well. I remember as a kid thinking he was simply the best. He was funny, smart and good looking, He went on a mission (two years) for our church (LDS) and when he came back he told me I had changed from a kid to a young lady. He kept telling me I was beautiful. I will never forget how I felt--I wanted to be thought of as grown up and I was thrilled to hear someone say it. The "beautiful" part was a bonus. I hugged him and got lipstick on his white shirt collar. I hoped he wouldn't know who was responsible as everyone was hugging him.

He met Lannie, who was from Arizona and she was the cutest girl alive. Honest, she was. (Still is.) She had gorgeous dark hair, a face like an angel, and had a personality that wouldn't quit. One day Dick was teasing me and I was mad at him so I stomped my foot and said, "You don't deserve Lannie!" He just laughed. Of course he deserved her.

They have parented a bunch of children and have a whole gaggle of grandchildren. Dick's dad, Uncle Virge--who I adore--has lived with them for a long time. Uncle Virge is ninety-six. He has lived to loose his wife and both of his sons. Today is a sad day. Today is also a thankful day for the way Dick lived his life and for the fine people he reared and taught right from wrong. I'm sorry I didn't tell him I loved him. I think he knew but gosh, why didn't I write him a letter and tell him so? I have lost the chance, now. Lost it forever.

One of my New Year's resolutions in January was to write one hundred letters. I did write a few, maybe twenty-five, maybe even as many as thirty-five. I didn't keep track. There are lots of people I love and admire. Some I sympathize with and want to tell them I'm sorry that they are going through hard times.

There are thirty-eight days before another New Year's Eve rolls around. I'm not going to make my goal.

Why have I put off doing this really important thing in my life? Email is fast and easy but not like a beautiful piece of stationery in an envelope with a stamp. Not like that perfect card you have spent 20 minutes hunting for at the Hallmark store. Not even like a note, scrawled on a piece of notebook paper, torn from the spiral binding with the "chads" still dangling. (They probably aren't "chads" but it seemed like the perfect word.)

In my kitchen window is a thank-you card from a friend. It has water spots on it from the kitchen sink. It is faded from the sun and you know what? It's been there since July. Why is it still there? Here's why: "...I do so appreciate our friendship. You are so fun and make me happy when ever I am with you. I love you so much. Fondly, Jo" I take it down and read it often. It makes me feel good. It reminds me that I have a good friend and hopefully have been a good friend back. It reminds me that I am loved.

So, even though I didn't make my goal of one hundred cards, notes or letters this year I think I will make the same goal this New Year's Eve.

I will write to Lannie. How will I ever be able to tell her how sad I am that her husband has died? How will I ever be able to tell her how much I love and admire her? I have to try, otherwise how will she know?

I will write to my kids. Hopefully they know they are wonderful and that I think they are exactly who they should be but I need to tell them that. How will they know I think they are wonderful and why, if I don't tell them?

I will write to my friends--so many I love for so many different reasons. They probably all would love to get a letter, a real letter in the mail.

I will write because it's important and is becoming a lost art. It's important. It's going to be one hundred times important next year. I promise.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Yesterday, a blog friend photographer posted a picture on his site of an abandoned chair. If you get there late and he has a new picture up, scroll down to the post called, Dedicated to Phil. So help me, I think I know that chair. Here's the story.

Once upon a time my sisters, doing what OLDER sisters do (sorry sisters, you are what you are) decided to brow beat me into having a garage sale. They thought cars should park in the garage. So, being the obedient younger sister that I am--Watch for the Pooka story one of these days--then you will know how much I was under their older-sisters-are-always-right-and-know-everything spell--I said okay, let's do it.

So we did. The garage spilled it's guts onto the driveway, lawn and porch--such as it is, the porch is so small it's really just a stoop, but stoop is such an ugly word and besides that I think stoops belong to New York City so we have a porch. Never mind that when the trick-or-treaters come, all bunched up like a gaggle of witches and ghosts, and you open the door, at least one of them is in danger of being catapulted into the darkness.

Anyway, the garage sale was a success. Monetarily and in the fun quota. I love a good visit and I met lots of nice people. When the day waned and we were dripping with exhaustion on the lawn swings I noticed an item that didn't come from the garage. A chair. A yellow kitchen chair, hovering on the outskirts of the lawn. Perhaps it saw the frivolity and wandered in to join the fun. Anyway, it had wandered into the wrong company. No force on earth was going to allow my sisters to allow the yellow stranger into the garage and so it got dumped in the back yard overlooking what in those days we laughingly call a garden. We do better in the garden skills now but that too is another story for another time.

When the new/old chair settled in and we lounged on it occasionally while wiping the sweat off our gardening brows. It migrated to the shade under the apple tree but we were not really apple growers and so the poor apple tree, who was trying it's very best, lost a limb each year to a heavy apple production. Finally, when the apple tree resembled an apple stalk The Chair got disgusted with us and wandered off to greener pastures. Honest it did.

In time we forgot about The Chair until the ever alert photographer posted a photograph of a chair, which, so help me, I think is The Chair with a new hairdo. I think it went into the Chair-witness-protection-program, changed it's look and went to greener pastures--or a greener wildflower meadow, as seen in the photograph.
I am happy to know it is safe and fulfilling the measure of it's creation, to bring rest to weary travelers or at least amusement to weary photographers. But, I am sad to see that it wore it's little legs off in the journey. But then again, maybe it's legs are folded up tidily in the lotus position and it is meditating, all the time communing with nature. Yes, that's what I think it is doing. Communing with nature.
So, there you have it. The rest of the story.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Tonight I went to my card class. I'm not really there because I'm a card maker. Last year I made ten Christmas cards and never sent them, in fact I don't even know where they are or I could send them this year. I go to the card class and I sit and look at the evening's project for a half hour before I even pick up the glue. I'm there for the friends.

Tonight our card teacher had four cards for us to make. Text already printed off, paper cut out to make poinsettias, paper cut to make Christmas ornaments, glue, ribbon, envelopes that fit each card and guess what? She won't let us pay for them. She pays for everything. We use all her materials, sit in her lovely home, surrounded by friends and good will. It's a good place to be.

One of tonight's cards was a quote by Howard W. Hunter (a member of the LDS church). It was set up to be in the shape of a Christmas Tree. I loved it--the card was beautiful--the "tree" words were printed on light green paper in dark green test. That paper was pasted on a piece of shiny dark green paper with the dark green border showing. Inside the card it simply said, "Merry Christmas."

This is my Thanksgiving gift to you. May you have a wonderful day with family and friends. If you are alone may you know you are loved and cherished by people unseen.

Be kind
Write a letter
Keep a promise
Try to understand
Give a soft answer
Laugh a little more
Express your gratitude
Think first of someone else
Seek out a forgotten friend
Gladden the heart of a child
Examine your demands on others
Speak your love, then speak it again
Manifest your loyalty in word and deed
Dismiss suspicion and replace it with truth
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth
Forgo a grudge
Mend a quarrel
Encourage a youth
Welcome a stranger
Howard W. Hunter
But, most of all, remember that you are loved. You are valuable. You count. Those of you who have commented on my blog have been kind, funny, interesting and most of all your comments lead me to your blogs which I have enjoyed so very much.
You count in this world. You really do.
Much love to you, from me, whether you are across the street, around the corner or miles and miles and miles away--in places I have no idea of.

Monday, November 19, 2007


The men in our neighborhood have been on their roofs lately. It started with my husband. He got on the roof to clean out all the offerings from our backyard maple trees. Every tree offers bounty to the world. In the spring the maples send buds. Lots and lots of little buds. In the fall we get whirlybird seeds. Lots and lots of whirlybird seed.

In the front yard we have several oak trees that our baby planted years ago. She must have been about six or eight. She’s now nineteen and threatens us with all manner of interesting things if we ever cut any of her trees down. The problem is, she planted them too close to the house and they actually overhang the rain gutters. They offer what seems like tons of acorns. Not the cute, smooth acorns with the charming little hats but BIG acorns with BIG hairy hats. If you step on one on the lawn you are in danger of falling over and breaking something. For the first few years they only offered leaves and we thought they were the perfect trees. Then they went through adolescence and it’s been downhill ever since.

Phil gets on the roof and cleans the gutters out just in case we should perchance get rain. With clean gutters the rain will go down the downspout and not spill over the edges. This spilling-over-the-edges phenomenon floods the basement where I have all kinds of goodies—that I haven’t actually seen in years—stored. Precious stuff. Valuables. I’m sure of it. Lots of valuables in boxes. These valuables are not to be confused with the valuables in the garage. The garage valuables can hold their own against garage dangers, the basement valuables are more tender, easily bruised, things Mother gave me. Things that came from Dad are used to pound, open, close, they are sturdy.

Actually, I’m anxious to find the boxes of kid’s books that are in the basement. One book I’m looking for in particular is about forest animals that were snowed in, inside a hollow tree. I think “Hollow Tree” was in the title. Anyway, that’s one of the valuables that Phil keeps protected by cleaning out the gutters on the roof.

The neighbors behind us have no trees but our trees generously share. I wonder if they resent our trees? Or us? Our trees keep their house cool in the summer months so maybe they are okay with the buds, the leaves, and the whirlybird seeds.

I have seen the daddy of this household on the roof twice in the last week. The first time his leaf blower sent showers of leaves to the earth. On Saturday he was up there again. Not blowing leaves out of the gutters but walking back and forth across the roof, making narrow sweeps with the leaf blower. Blowing what? There were no leaves. Blowing nothing, back and forth, back and forth. It took him a considerable amount of time. Why was he there? Did his wife have indoor chores he didn’t want to do? Was he lonely for the sky?

The neighbors across the street have been roof walkers too. One put up Christmas lights. He wore a rope around his waist; his wife and two of his kids had the other end, hoping if he fell they could keep him from falling all the way. Maybe he would be halted in his descent, mere inches from the ground, like Tom Cruise who was going to steal things.

The other man had yet another leaf blower, cleaning out his acorns—cute, small ones with small hats--and acorn leaves. He also cut some of the branches out of the oak tree that is planted even closer to his house than ours is. A few years ago he pruned this tree and used the branches to made a rustic king sized bed for his daughter. Now his grandson wants one so our neighbor is pruning again. I think the tree can't stand more pruning, it's going to look naked but perhaps the lure of the roof makes the neighbor blind to the fact.

I think the men like being on the roofs. Perhaps they commune with God, enjoy solitude or simply avoid kitchen duty. I don’t know why they are all on the roof, but they are all up there. Walking back and forth, pretending they are Tom Cruise, pruning, doing immaginary cleaning, just sitting at the peak, enjoying the things that earth bound mortals cannot imagine. I’m just a little bit jealous.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I went to the mailbox and on the way back I saw two chairs in front of the garage door. Now whom do they belong to, I wondered. I’ll bet Lynne has something to do with it.

She knew all right. She bought them at a garage sale...oh, excuse me, a trunk sale--at Thanksgiving Point, mind you. As if anything bought at Thanksgiving Point was a good idea. And excuse me again; she said the "Chair Fairy" brought them. Did she think I would be charmed by her winning smile and adolescent cleverness? Not today.

She thought the chairs would be great to add to the garage full of junk we already have. Not today. Not tomorrow, either. Not ever. We need to start getting rid of the junk, not bringing more in. When will I ever convince her of that fact?

So we had a quiet discussion about the off chance that we did not need more junk. She did not think it was a quiet discussion. She said I was yelling. I do not yell. I am focused. Very focused.

Finally, in a pathetic little voice she said she'd give them away. That did it. The pathetic little voice gets me every time. I think she was serious too; she'd give them away.

The chairs went to the garage, next to the four black ones with the rush seats. Who knows when they were added to the junk-filled space that I laughingly call a garage. The chairs do come in handy. Not as handy as six folding chairs would be, six folding chairs that match, but folding chairs would be the sensible thing. No one ever said my wife was sensible.

"Here, son,” I say. “Sit on this chair. It's nice and sturdy."

I see her smile. She thinks she’s won and that I think her chairs are a good thing. I’ll let her keep her illusion. I guess I’ll continue to scrape ice off the windshield all winter while all her chairs—and who knows what else she has squirreled away in the garage--have a nice dry home.

I’ve decided to try and make my mind think that folding chairs are overrated. I might as well as there is another grandbaby on the way and the toddler grandson will have to give up the high chair for a real chair. I have a feeling that Lynne is keeping her eyes open for one—not a sensible folding chair but a sturdy, interesting one that doesn't match any of the six we already have

I think I'll go take a nap. Or get on the roof and blow something off with the leaf blower. Blowing things off the roof makes me feel like I'm in charge. And the view isn't so bad, either.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Several years ago, when I was anticipating that we were going to have Thanksgiving dinner here, I went to a Trunk Sale at Thanksgiving Point just to see if they might have something irresistible that I could use. A Trunk Sale is like a Garage Sale but people bring things in their cars and, in some cases, had backed up and opened the trunks to show their wares. We walked around--my daughters and daughters-in-law--and soon I spied something I anticipated we were going to need. Chairs! Sturdy ones.

My daughter's comment, "What will Dad say," deterred me not one bit. I bargained--well, I'd like to say I bargained but in reality I probably just happily paid the price the owners asked. Ten dollars, for two. When we got home and unloaded I put them right against the garage door, out of sight of the front windows.

"What are you going to do about Dad?" Hillary asked.

"After Dad goes to bed I'll sneak them into the back of the garage. When we need them for Thanksgiving he'll be glad."

"Right," Hillary said.

"He will," I said. "He really will."

She just shook her head, got in her car and drove away, waving with a little smirk on her face. A smirk that clearly said she didn't have much faith that her dad was going to be glad. She thought he was going to say something like, "More junk!"

It's not junk, I thought to myself. And he WILL be glad. I know it.

That was the last I thought of the chairs and my clever plan. The next day, when Phil brought in the mail, he also brought in an attitude.

"What is in front of the garage?" he said, in a not-quite-normal voice.

Great, I thought. I forgot all about them. And what a dumb question. Anybody can see they are chairs.



"The Chair Fairy brought them." How clever I was to think of such an amusing answer right on the spot. I smiled.

That was a mistake.


Now how do you answer a question like that? No, not crazy. I am clever and thinking of the future. And besides that, chairs don't have the capacity to be stupid. I thought I might point that out to him but one look at his face made me decide against it. I shrugged. Another mistake.

Have you ever seen someone with fire coming out of their eyes? It's a real experience. Everyone should experience that at least once.

He had a few more choice things to say, but by that time I was overwhelmed by all his non-appreciation of my good bargain and of my clever "chair fairy" comment and all I heard was "BLAH, BLAH, BLAH."

Finally I said--in my most humble voice, "I'll take them back."

Now, I knew I couldn't take them back but I figured I'd find someone to donate them to. Anything to get out of having to hear "blah, blah, blah." And being expected to come up with an answer to, "Was I crazy?" one more time.

Well, the end of the story is that he calmed down--after about three weeks--and the chairs reside in the garage with the other chairs I've bought at garage sales--those I successfully snuck into the garage and could say, "Oh, those chairs? I bought them ages ago." Some times the things you bought "ages ago" deflates the frustration that husbands might have over frivolous purchases. Not that any of my chairs have been frivolous purchases, mind you.

The last time we had a family dinner here I overheard Phil say to one of the boys, "Here, sit on this chair,"--one of the Chair Fairy chairs--"they're nice and sturdy."

I wanted to say something but didn't. No sense in reminding him that I was right and he was wrong. As long as one of us knows it, that's enough.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Last night Phil--who was fixing leftovers for himself for dinner--said, "I know why old people get sick and die. They just eat soup and sandwiches." He paused. "And dog food."

Now, I don't cook as much as I used to, it's true. He does fix his own breakfast--I offer--sometimes--but he usually fixes a smoothie or sometimes will just eat fruit. He fixes his own lunch, that's true too. He often eats Ramen soup, the Oriental kind, which I like about twice a year. Maybe once. He loves the stuff. I offer to fix his lunch but no, he likes to fix his own.

Sometimes I'll cook dinner but when I ask him what he wants for dinner he'll often say, "I think I'll just eat apples." Honest, he does.

So...where does the dog food crack come from? Do you think it's a comment on the food I do fix? Do you think that's why he wants to eat apples for dinner?

Tonight I cooked. I didn't open a can of Alpo and simmer it on the stove.* He ate a lot. He liked it, I think. Maybe we will be long lived after all.

*I baked it in the oven. Hee hee. JK

Thursday, November 15, 2007


My friend Pam tagged me with this:

1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Okay, Pam, first of all I don't know seven people with blogs to tag. So, I'm afraid that part will have to go unanswered. I keep telling my friends to start a blog (you are the only one who has minded) but they just look at me like I'm an adolescent, trapped in a grown-up's body and say, "What's a blog?" Then they say, "What's the purpose of a blog?" And then they say, "I don't get it." All the time they are giving me that look. I do visit a lot of blogs, almost daily, of people I've stumbled on but they are popular and probably wouldn't even read my comments. So, I'll do the weird or random facts.

By the way, what does it mean to tag 7 random people? Who are these random people? Am I a random person? What makes a person random? maybe that's a weird fact.

7 weird facts about me:

1. I slept on the front porch as a kid. It was dripping with Virginia Creeper (the vine, not a weird--or random--person from Virginia). The porch looked like an grotto. I slept in a real double, brass bed with a down comforter. I had a night stand with a lamp, a box of comics--later a stack of books, and a portable radio. Mom said I could sleep there until the first frost. I prayed for a late frost. I would have slept there all winter if she had let me. As you can probably tell I lived in a very safe, small town. Mom left the front door open (screen door closed) and her bedroom was ten feet away so don't think she was negligent. She was the best. I sleep in a bedroom now--I wish I could sleep outside--but the window is wide open, summer and winter.

2. I think I am thin. When I pass a mirror I am always startled--and disgusted.

3. I think I am young. When I see my face I am always startled--and disgusted. So I smile. Then I look better but I do not, under any circumstance look at my profile. I have considered wearing a chin strap to bed to firm up the profile but it sounds too much like a jock strap.

4. I used to be a good cook. I had dinner on the table at 6:00 pm sharp and it was tasty. Now I don't love to cook but still love to gather recipes, as if I'm going to go right to the kitchen and pull out pans and measuring spoons. I watch the food network--except for Emeril--I copy recipes off the Internet and put them in files. It's my hobby. Reading people's blog is my other hobby. I read people's food blogs, especially the vegetarian food blogs. I found a recipe on A Veggie Venture called SPICY THAI NOODLE SALAD that I did make and it was very good. I had to make a whole extra recipe of sauce though. So, out of perhaps 100 recipes that I have saved I have made one. One percent. Not a very good track record, is it?

5. I love to sleep but never get to bed early enough to do enough of it. Maybe that's not weird. Maybe it's just poor planning.

6. I love to give gifts. I used to take a little gift (a loaf of sweet bread, etc.) to the people I visit teach each month (visiting teaching is an LDS thing) and then one day two of them said it made them feel guilty so I quit. I have never understood that. Why would they feel guilty. I wanted them to feel loved. I also used to buy Wednesday gifts for my girls--the ones I gave birth to and the ones who married my boys. Not every Wednesday, not even one Wednesday a month. But if I found something and I couldn't wait until Christmas or their birthday's to give it to them I gave it early. Then my fortunes took a nosedive and I couldn't buy Wednesday gifts anymore. When my fortunes reverse I am going to buy Wednesday gifts again. I can hardly wait.

7. I know sugar is a poison. I know it in the depths of my being. So, why am I always making caramels, I wonder? I just finished making 500 caramels for one order--that's over sixteen pounds of the stuff, and twelve Thanksgiving bags with name tags for my sister for her Thanksgiving table. I am slowly contributing to people's ill health. Someone should shake me. But not before I get my chin strap on because I don't want that wonky chin flopping around because I think I'm really young and fit and I don't want anything flapping all over the place, giving hints that I'm not.

There, maybe those aren't weird. Maybe they're just random.

And this post is too long. I really must learn to condense.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Phil always goes to bed before I do and we have family prayer just before he does. By that time of night he's a walking zombie and sometimes he's almost too tired to stand up straight. Tonight was one of those nights. It was his turn to pray. (He was born on an even numbered day—24—reminiscent of the TV show he LOVES and that is not going to start on time in January--and I was born on an odd day—lucky 7--and so that's how we keep track.) Sometimes we pretend it's the other person's night as we are too tired to say meaningful things and want to just say "Mumble, mumble, blah, blah, blah." Poor Heavenly Father. He must hold his head in his hands. I'm sure we need a dose of repentance--or we could pray earlier.

Anyway, tonight it was Phil's turn to pray but he's falling down tired and he said, "It's your turn."

I looked at the calendar. "It's the fourteenth. Your turn.”

"The fourteenth," he said. "Valentine's Day?"

"You forgot to buy me a present." (I try not to miss an opportunity to get presents.)

"I took out the garbage," he said.

And that, my friends, is romance at our house. Even hot romance.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


It's almost midnight. Again. My mother always said that an hours sleep before midnight was worth two after. She could talk. She got a good 30 to 45 minutes in at about 9:30. That was worth an hour to and hour and half. Then she would wake up and say, "Did you see the end of my show?" I, of course, hadn't paid attention. "I'll have to call Lill or DeLynn tomorrow"--they were her sisters--"maybe they watched." Then she watched the news, which I also didn't watch and then she went to bed. I did not. I was--and sadly still am--an owl. Oh, how I wish I were a lark.

But I'm not and now I'm off to read more fascinating blogs of people I don't know but love for the tender or funny or NOT NICE SPIDER STORIES that they have to tell. I have to look at a photographer's deflated sports ball and wonder if he really thinks he's not wonderful. I have to eventually log off and then click on "just three" blogs that come up. Which isn't always a good thing. Once I clicked on a blog and a babe with her nakedness showed up. I'm still shuddering. But I found the photographer that way so I continue on with my time wasting habit. But then again, how can you call it time wasted when you read about people loving their families, or living life with their funny bone sticking right up where you can see it. So, I'm off to read blogs. How lucky can one person get?

Monday, November 12, 2007


The biology room windows were wide open and a bee flew in, slowly circled the room and finding no flowers exited out a different window. The girls dodged and the boys swatted at the bee until the teacher asked everyone to calm down.

That particular day, so many years ago, wasn’t test day, just a normal class so there was no real reason for me to be nervous. All of a sudden something cold hit my side. I gasped just a little but I knew what it was. It hit again. And again. Perspiration. It dripped almost all the way to my waist. Then the left side dripped—it was a slow starter. I had on a white blouse—I almost always had to wear white because it wasn’t as likely to show perspiration. I kept my head ducked and was absolutely still. If I didn’t say anything, if I didn’t move, nobody would notice. I especially didn’t want the boy I had a crush on to know I had a defect.

This happened every day. Holly had the dreaded armpit symptom too. We were two cousins with a curse.

We tried every deodorant sold in drugstores. We powdered our underarms. I dissolved alum in water and applied it and got puckering pits. We wore dress shields. Dress shields were made of cloth on one side and plastic on the other and attached with thin, round elastic bands under the arm. I was miserable wearing them. I thought I was a freak.

I was in Jr. High when the problem started. I had to wear dress shields whenever I had on clothing that changed color when wet. I wore dress shield’s to my sister, Julie’s wedding reception because my dress was powder blue. I perspired so much that the cotton absorbed all the perspiration it could and then the blue dress turned a darker blue around the edges. I was mortified. I danced the polka with a boy my age--he was three inches shorter than I was. I don't know if he noticed the powder blue dress with the interesting darker spots. He didn't say anything but then again, boys that age don't say much to girls anyway. And why there was polka music at Julie's reception was beyond understanding. Some things simply cannot be explained.

This drippy situation went on for several years and then in high school Holly and I found Mitchem’s deodorant. Mitchen’s was our own private miracle. Our armpits stayed completely dry. We could wear any color we wanted. No more gym-class-white blouses. We weren’t the kind of girls to cavort and dance in the halls but if we had been, we would have done cartwheels and cheers:

“Mitchem’s, Mitchem’s, it’s the best.
Mitchem’s passes armpit tests.”

Well, perhaps Holly was the cavorting and cartwheeling type as she was a cheerleader. I simply walked around with a secret Mona Lisa-type smile, knowing God was good and he loved me and helped, somehow in the Mitchem’s miracle. Possibly other people doubt that God participates in such small miracles, but not me. In fact it may be the small miracles that make me aware of his involvement in my life more than the big ones.

Holly and I used Mitchem’s into college and into marriage and motherhood. Then our armpits calmed down and so did Mitchem’s. The formula changed. It wasn’t as good as it used to be. Perhaps the original formula was carcinogenic. Perhaps the FDA got involved. Perhaps the chemists in charge of the original formula cut costs, by using less of whatever the miracle ingredient was.

When my children—the ones who inherited the dreaded syndrome—tried Mitchem’s it barely fazed them. I hope they will grow out of it like I did, if not they can always try alum. Puckering pits are interesting and everyone ought to have varied experiences. When they are old they will have attention-grabbing subjects to tell their neighbors as they sit on the veranda of the rest home, rocking and nodding off occasionally. I can hear it now…”Did you know I had puckering armpits once in my life. Yes, sir-ee.” (I don’t know why old people say ‘yes, sir-ee’ but it seems they do. Unless they are saying “Yes Ma-am.”) Then they can have a stimulating discussion with some old codger who perhaps has an interesting experience of his own to share.

I think everyone should experience puckering armpits, just once. So if you are a non-sweating individual I’m sorry. You will just have to realize that you are missing out on one of life’s experiences and go forth and do something else interesting. Like roofing your own house, making your own cheese or living in a refrigerator box for a week with a cat, a sleeping bag and a box of books and a headlamp.

Do something interesting and then report back to me so I can be awed or amused or both. Try to make it an embarrassing, interesting experience so I won’t feel alone in my teen-age-freakness. Don’t wait until we are old and dithering, I probably won’t appreciate your interesting experiences then as I’ll be checking my three by five card with my Geritol schedule, my nap schedule and my appointment schedule to get my hair “blued”—at the in-house hair salon—and I won’t pay proper attention.

Hurry, I’m bored.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I know houses make noises. I grew up in a house that was built in 1909 and so, believe me, I know all about house noises. And witches. One walked up the seventeen steps to the second floor where I slept all the time. I scrunched down in bed, pulled the covers completely over me and prayed. I am pretty sure I was meant to be a brilliant person but because of oxygen deprivation during the "witch cometh" years I'm just ordinary.

The noises, I think--now that I'm older and can look at the problem objectively--were not a witch but a cooling heating-system and the seventeen steps, cooling and contracting along with it. Mother was thrifty and didn't keep the heat on until bedtime or I would have been asleep by the time the steps brought the witch closer and closer.

Tonight, in my daughter's bedroom, someone was roaming. Minkey, the annoying cat, was on my lap so I know it wasn't him. Pika, our sweet cat, who unfortunately won't sit on laps, was probably asleep in the huge ceramic pumpkin--that I really should put away before the next holiday--and so it wasn't her. Phil was sitting next to me, reading out loud--I love it when he reads out loud to me and if I didn't have that pesky oxygen deprivation problem my mind wouldn't wander and I wouldn't have to ask him to "read that last paragraph over again." We were all accounted for but the floorboards creaked overhead. I'm thinking that that witch from my childhood has finally tracked me down.

I'm going upstairs with...what? Garlic? No, that's for vampires. Silver bullets? What monster is that for? I've forgotten. Maybe it's just a Lone Ranger thing. (By the way, where did he get silver bullets, anyway? Did he have a secret silver mine somewhere? And since so many of those cowboy movies were shot in southern Utah shouldn't I be taking some excursions to dig up a little of that silver?) Should I take water upstairs with me to throw on the witch? That worked for the witch in The Wizard of Oz and also for those strange aliens in the Mel Gibson movie, Signs. Or should I just sleep down here, on the couch?

No, it's not a witch. There's no such thing as witches. Or aliens. And by the way, if water was so deadly to them how come they came to a planet that has so much water?

See, if I wasn't oxygen deprived I wouldn't ramble so much in this blog. I would have tight, interesting sentences that made sense. I'm pretty sure that besides the oxygen deprivation I have had a spell put upon me by that non-existent, creeping-up-the-stairs witch. I'm sure she hated all English classes in school and tried to distract me from learning properly.'s not my fault then, when I got kicked out of Mr. Hunsaker's class. The witch made me do it--talk in class like I did. Constantly. (She was diligent.) I must email Patsy and Dick (their last names began with "W" too--we went through all of our classes together, usually in the back of the classroom). They got kicked out with me. They will be so happy to know it's not their fault either.

I feel better now. I'm going upstairs with nothing to harm the poor old dear. I finally have someone to blame my non-spelling ability, my rambling sentences and incoherent thoughts on. It's comforting, in a sad ending-sentences-with-a-preposition sort of way but it's all I have and I'm sticking to it. I think I will lock the bedroom door though. There's no sense in being foolish.

Friday, November 9, 2007


It’s my baby’s birthday today. She’s nineteen. Yes, nineteen and yes, she is my baby but I don’t call her that to her face. She will always be my baby because she was my last-born.

I remember “going to town” with Mom to shop. She wanted to hold hands. I was embarassed. I pulled my hand away, knowing I was hurting her feelings but I simply couldn’t help it. I was grown up. Grown up girls didn’t hold their mother’s hands. (I must have been eleven or twelve.)

We met two of Mom’s friends on the sidewalk in front of the dress shop. “This is my baby,” Mom said. The women clucked over me like I was a newborn chick. I wanted to be anywhere else; I was mortified.

“I’m not your baby,” I said with a sassy attitude.

“You will always be my baby,” she said, ignoring my bad manners. “Always.”

We didn’t say “Whatever,” in those days but if we had I would have said it.

We went in and out of shops, Mom visiting with friends she met between racks of dresses, over bolts of cloth, comparing the price of one type of hand lotion against another. I heard it again and again, “This is my baby.”

Why she kept telling people was beyond a mystery because I was not charming. I was bratty. Today I understand. It was because I really was her baby, her precious child; even though I was doing my best to be obnoxious, she knew who I really was. She had years to know the real me. She perhaps knew that one day I would return, would want to hold her hand. Would be proud to be called her baby.

Mom died seventeen months before today’s birthday girl was born. I grieved over her death and then, nine months later, when I found out I was pregnant I was devastated. I needed my mom. When my baby was born I grieved again. I wanted my mom there, fussing over me and fussing over my newborn.

Now this precious little person is off on her own, not living in our house. She never says, “I love you,” unless I drag it out of her. Does she love me? I have no doubt. Will she give me a hug? Fat chance. When I give her one she stands like a wooden soldier unless I make her put her arms around me and then they are not arms, they are noodles.

If I called her “my baby” what would she do? Cringe, but it’s all right. She is, and one day she might, just might be proud to carry the title. Just like I am.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


It's late and I should be in bed but I've been reading other people's blogs, some so beautiful it amazes me. Some with photo's of things I would walk right by, not seeing the gift. Some funny, some thoughful. I wish I could give back to the world like these blogs do. I wish I had something profound to say. But, it's late and I am not profound, I am fuzzy headed from this head cold and worn to a frayed stump from the constant cough. I need to crawl into the waiting bed, which will warm and snuggle me in the room with the winter breath from the open window. So, here is a story I wrote for my Personal History group. I've belonged for a year now and have probably and even fifty stories written. I thought I had a bad memory, I was wrong. I am grateful.


It was late. We were in the family room but on our way to bed when we heard the toilet flush.

The sense of foreboding settled like ash after a volcanic eruption. “The toilet flushed!” we whispered in unison.

Trent’s arm hairs stood like quills on a startled porcupine. One long leg stepped out and the next thing I knew he was in the bathroom. I heard the door lock.

Taylor, not to be outdone for speed, plastered himself against the basement door, arms flat, fingers splayed. He sucked all unnecessary mass from his body, becoming one with the door. He looked like a Bobble-head cartoon.

I was left. A lone woman to face my garment clad husband who suddenly appeared at the top of the stairs.

“Where are the boys?” he said.

“Um, I’m not sure,” I was careful not to look at the ashen-faced twelve-year-old who was inches away. “One of them might be in the bathroom.”

“What have you been doing?”


“Nothing? It’s 2:00 am and you have kept the boys up, doing nothing?”

I never kept the boys up. Trent, at age sixteen always had something interesting to say, thereby keeping me up. I often told him, “Quit being interesting. I need to go to bed.” That encouraged him to say more interesting things. Taylor was a twelve-year-old willing participant; two interesting boys were too much temptation.

“Well?” he said.

I shrugged.

His nostrils flared. Too late I realized shrugging implied casual indifference.

“I suggest you find them and then I suggest you get them in bed. Now,” he said. His words were slow, crisp.

I nodded.

“And you need to get in bed too.”

I nodded again. “I know.”

“I know you know. Just do it.”

“I will.”

He rubbed one hand over his face, tired. Tired of having a wife who was always up late. Tired of trying to deal with uncommunicative teen-age boys. Tired of being the disciplinarian. Just plain tired.

“I’ll find the boys and get them to bed,” I said in a semi-whisper.

“Thank you.” He sighed, “and please, just come to bed.”

“I will.”

A slight smile came and went so quick I thought I imagined it. He nodded and then was gone. The stairs creaked, the bedroom door clicked shut.

Taylor’s indrawn breath sounded like a dozen cans of soda opening at once. His head looked regular size again as his body pinked and plumped to normal proportions.

Trent peered around the corner on a telescoping neck, then glided in. We stood in reverenced silence.

And then it happened. Someone snorted.

When disaster is averted, laughter—or a changing of the underwear—usually follows. That night it was laughter.

“Come on, boys, let’s get to bed,” I said when I could finally breathe. I put my arms around them and they came willingly. There was a feeling of peace and goodwill in the house.To this day, the words, “The toilet flushed,” bring panic, followed by euphoria. And laughter. Always there is laughter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I'm not from Toledo. I'm not Hungarian. I've never eaten a Tony Packo hot dog or anything else Tony Packoish but my friend, Pam, who goes homeward bound at least once a year brought me a jar of Tony Packo pickles. It sat on my counter for a month while my fridge complained about the number of jars I have stuffed in it's stomach. Finally I said, "I'm the keeper of the kitchen and if I want a jar of curry sauce in your innards I'll have a jar of curry sauce there."

Just between you and me I have no desire to make curry soon or maybe even ever. Nor do I have plans for the Vietnamese chili sauce, the red piping gel or the organic unpasteurized miso sauce but I paid good money for know how it goes. But the jar of pickles, now that is something I would eat so in the fridge they went, nestled with the sweet and sour sauce, crushed garlic and ginger, three kinds of homemade jam and a jar of malted barley powder. What on earth did I buy malted barley powder for. If I throw it out I'll need it by Friday.

One night, went I was fanaticizing about the deliciousness, satisfaction and guilt that two dozen hot chocolate chip cookies would bring into my sugar-deprived life, I searched desperately for something, anything to take the craving away. One bite of the sweet, hot, very salty Tony Packo pickle was just what I wanted.

Who knew this was the cure for sugar cravings? Does the Universe know? Weight Watchers? Do they know? Do the Tony Packo people, themselves know?

Shouldn't these unusual pickles be packed four to a nifty little plastic package and sold in vending machines as the alternative for people contemplating Hershey diabetic comas?

Shouldn't someone notify Tony Packo's and tell them of my brilliant idea?

And grocery stores everywhere should sell Tony Packo's pickles so I can get my next fix without paying $12.95 for two jars and $11.87 shipping. If I want the pickles to get here in three days I can pay $24.55 shipping or $32.59 for the two day rush. Good grief! It would be cheaper to staple my lips together and pay the drugstore for penicillin.

While I was rummaging in the fridge I found six pint jars of unidentifiable homemade something or other. Salad dressing maybe? Shouldn't I clean the fridge out? Wouldn't that be the responsible thing to do? Shouldn't I throw the bottle out that held Bubbies Sauerkraut and now just hold Bubbies Sauerkraut juice with a stray kraut floating here and there? No. I shouldn't. I have to blog and read other people's blogs. That's a perfectly good reason.

And I need to contact the Tony Packo people and get them right on to that vending machine idea. Now that's the responsible thing to do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I don't have one yet--a Thankful Journal. I need to buy one--a journal that only thankful things are written in. Carol Tuttle's family--check her out on Amazon--has been keeping a November Thankful Journal for ages. Her family writes one thousand things they are thankful for, starting on November 1st and finishing by Thanksgiving. They have done it for so many years that a whole big journal is filled and they are starting on their second one. Their daughter, who is on a mission in one of those end-of-the-earth missions--some place like Lithuania or the Baltic something-or-other, really, the end of the earth--she wrote home and said she is starting her own thankful journal and is going to have one thousand things to be thankful for by Thanksgiving. I think some of her things might be, "I am thankful that I have a crust of bread today," or "I am thankful that I didn't freeze to death today." Actually I don't know what her situation is. She is thankful to be serving the Lord, that much I do know.

A few days ago a dear friend sent me an email called "What the World Eats." I was astounded. It showed families from different countries, told how much they spent on food a week and the family was shown with all the food products displayed. Some families had a gluttonous amount of food—the family spending the most spent $500 a week on food. A WEEK! Some had very little. The family spending the least spent $1.23 cents a week. Their pile of food was pitiful but I imagine both were thankful for what they had.

So, tonight, I'm going to put a few things I am thankful for.

1. I am thankful I live in a safe neighborhood.
2. I am thankful I am warm tonight--I just called time and temperature and it's 41 degrees and expected to be in the low 30's tonight.
3. I am thankful I have a clean comfortable bed.
4. I am thankful my husband got on the roof today and blew all the leaves out of the gutter. It looked like it was snowing autumn.
5. I am thankful I have a present--actually three--for my daughter that she will like for her birthday on Friday when she turns nineteen.
6. I am thankful I got an email from my daughter-in-law today.
7. I am thankful my daughter-in-law calls me occasionally to tend their four-year-old chatterbox.
8. I am thankful my visiting teachers came today. They love me. I even got a present and it's darling. A tiny wooden bowl, on a tiny wooden stand with a basket of flowers painted on the bowl. It looks so Thanksgivingish.
9. I am thankful I can blog
10. I am thankful I can read other people's blogs, they are so interesting and full of vitality and goodness. Some are so funny. How lucky I am to be able to read about all these people's interesting lives.
11. I am thankful I know I am a daughter of Heavenly Father.
12. I am thankful I was born to my angel mother--yes, she let me fret about the knick-knack shelve but she was such a perfect mother for me. I miss her more than I thought was possible.
13. I am thankful for Glide floss. What did people do before they could floss their teeth? Maybe that is why, when I was a kid, I thought old men smelled like sewers. They had decaying food in-between their teeth. Ick.
14. I am thankful I don't have to live through the teen-age years again.
15. I am thankful I know some people who are stinkers. And to know they don't belong to me. Well, they don't belong to me too much. We all belong to each other, really but I don't have to have Christmas dinner with them.
16. I am glad I don't smoke, drink or have an insatiable desire to be too good or too bad.
17. I am glad the dog next door doesn't belong to me.
18. I am glad my annoying cats are only two annoying cats and not three annoying cats. The other day Minkey made a pest of himself when my next-door neighbor was here--she does not like cats--and then the other cat, Pika, came in and hawked up a fur-ball, practically on her shoe. I about died. It was not funny.
19. I am thankful I can see.
20. I am thankful I can write. I'd like to be able to write better but I am what I am.
21. And I'm thankful for that too. I am what I am and it's good enough.

And with that I'll say goodnight and go upstairs to my wonderfully comfortable bed to sleep. Sweet sleep, which will be interrupted by Minkey, yowling in the hall, for who knows what reason.

22. I'm thankful Minkey's not twins.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Before I start this post I have to refer to the one a couple of days ago--BEING ALONE. I think this is what this post is all about--I wrote it for my Personal History group today. Now I'm going to say something that is probably really stupid but it's my theory and what use is a theory if you don't voice it? I think, if someone would have helped me with the horrible knick-knack shelves and I would have had dusting success when I was a wee person that my housekeeping abilities (I say "abilities" with a wicked little smile) would be better today than they are. Or aren't.

It's really all about doing things together, learning together, living together, going through "stuff" together and for single folks you are part of our togetherness too, it's not just immediate family togetherness. The women in my ward who are single I simply adore. I wish I could spend more time with them. I feel part of them, they would probably be shocked to know that but I do. We are all one family. One day we will know it.

Okay, one other point I need to clear up before you read today's story. My Personal History group know all about me and so know when I talk about Mom "loosing another husband" that she lost two husbands to death. My two sister's daddy died in a car accident and my dad died in a small airplane crash in a snow storm before I was two.

Also, I love my sisters but it's so delicious to cast them as the evil sisters here. So with that said please read todays blog and think about working with your little people, helping them to have 100% success.


Pat and Julie learned to do housework by a Mom who was young enough and with enough energy to supervise and enforce. By the time I was old enough to actually contribute to the household duties she had lost another husband—I tell you, Mom was always misplacing husbands. Anyway, with all the single parenting duties and the work it took to find and snag a new husband she was too tired to train me properly. Or perhaps it was because I was her favorite child and she pampered me.

But, one day Mom decided I was old enough for the housework brigade; she handed me a dust cloth and led me to the corner knick-knack shelves. I sat on the floor and looked at all the little glass animals, some of them I had bought myself with fistfuls of warm nickels and dimes. I had wrapped my gifts in wads of white tissue and wound the wads with curling ribbon.

I looked at the knick-knack shelves—four of them and knew that there were three and a half shelves more than I could dust. I sat there for a long time while everyone else was in the kitchen, eating heavenly little snacks and drinking Cokes. Okay, so they weren’t eating heavenly little snacks and drinking Cokes but they weren’t in the living room with me, giving encouragement and help either. I finally started to cry.

“Oh for Pete’s sake,” one of my evil sister’s called from the kitchen. “You could be done by now.”

It was true but her words didn’t inspire me--actually they were such an insult that I sat on the floor and bawled and sniveled and finally I lay down. I looked at the nick-knack shelves, which loomed taller, like a Jack’s beanstalk sort of a nick-knack shelve. Little glass animals peered over the edge at me, wondering why they were standing in dusty spots while their dust-remover-person was obviously a slacker. The evil sisters thought I was a slacker too and they cackled from the kitchen.

I was there two hours, they told me. I don’t know how anyone can let a little person be in overwhelming-dusty-knick-knack-depression for two hours before they send help so maybe it wasn’t that long. Maybe their evilness made them exaggerate the amount of time so I would feel guilty forever.

Mom’s knick-knack shelves disappeared soon after that. I am choosing to believe that the little animals went to loving homes where they could run free on lemon scented, polished wood. I have my doubts, because Mom was a great believer in donating what you didn’t want to the trash dump so others, like her, could rummage around and bring home surprising finds, but that’s a story for another day.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I heard a great quote today on the radio. I'd give credit but I'm down with a nasty cold and didn't catch who said it. Perhaps he didn't originate it anyway, but at any rate I apologize.

"Stress plus time equals humor."

If you don't believe it read the my blog "A story from the past, Phil's Turn to get up with Bentley." (September 15. 2007) This was NOT funny at the time. It was a major stress for all of us but, hey, it's funny now.

Carol Tuttle, a woman with great insight--buy her book, Remembering Wholeness--you won't be disappointed--says we don't live in the present. We live in the past or the future. We fret over the past, we do the should'have's, could'have's, would'have's. I've done this several thousand times. I should have taught the kids better, should have had Family Home Evening better, should have read the scriptures with them better--there's a list so long that I couldn't list them all.

Or we live in the future. What if such and such happens or what if such and such doesn't happen?

Pretty soon our stress level is beyond measure.

Then we get sick. Like today for me. Or we get depressed. Or we decide to cut our losses and run. There are lots of things people run from--relationships, religion, jobs, marriages--some people just clam up and don't talk. That's running too. Or we blame someone else.

I don't necessarily have any answers how not to live in the past or the future but I know if we lived in the present we'd be better off. Right now my handout for tomorrow--I have to teach in Relief Society--is frozen. I know that it will probably stay frozen and I'll have to close it down and start all over. See, living in the future. Anyway, it will be funny tomorrow but not right now as I really want to go to bed or have Phil rub my feet and tell me I'm a wonderful person or I want to sit in front of the fire and eat hot popcorn with browned butter. Well, maybe not. Maybe tomorrow, when I'll be completely well. Or...maybe I'll be completely well right now, in the present.

Anyway, it's worth looking at, this stress business, given some time, becoming funny. And it's worth looking into living in the present too.

Friday, November 2, 2007


About a week or so ago I saw one of those black hairy spiders doing his spider-dance all over the dashboard. I tried to get in the car quick enough to whack him but he went down one of the windshield vents. I don't know what I would have whacked him with. I told Phil about the spider and he said what he always says about things I cannot do anything about, "Don't worry about it."

Now I ask you, how can you not worry about a hairy spider crawling up you leg while you are driving? You can't.

I took the girls to Salt Lake last Saturday. We went to Ikea and Gardener Village. Archibald Gardner is one of my ancestors and so I have a tender spot in my heart for the mill. But the whole time I was driving I was worrying about the spider. Would he climb out of the heat vents and run up Elizabeth's leg? Would he run up mine and then I would run off the road?

Every time we get in the car Phil stomps his feet sometimes during the driving time and I freak out, thinking he saw the spider. He then laughs his maniacal laugh. He has actually seen the spider once since that first day. It was, of course on the passenger side of the car but by the time I came out and got in the car he had disappeared. Who knows where.

I hope to never see him again. No, that's not true. I hope to see him, curled up on his back, dry and dead. Then I will quit worrying, unless it was a momma spider, who laid eggs. I guess I won't know until spring and if it was, and if she did, I will be walking.


I have come to the conclusion that we are not alone--do not want to be alone--we are somehow all linked to one another--everyone on the planet. I, of course, believe we all grew up together before we came to this earth life and so know everyone on the earth, intimately. We just can't remember, but sometimes I've seen someone, perhaps in the grocery store and thought, I'd like to know them. It's almost a tangable thing--my wanting to know who they are. Of course, I already do know them, have just forgotten, but somehow just seeing them plucks a string of remembrance.

Maybe this is why friends are so important to me. I want to hear from them often, play with them, email and visit with them. I think this is why the new program for the Relief Society (LDS Church) is so inspired. It gets us together in small groups where we can make real friendships. Lasting friendships. I love the card class I go to even though I am not card-gifted. I sit and look at my pile of materials for 20 minutes before I even start. Other's in the class are busy making more and more cards. I get one done. I'm there for the friendships.

The personal history class is wonderful. So wonderful that I go to the morning class and the afternoon one too. Now, I am happy to get some of my stories on paper but even more I like to get to know each person in the group. Wonderful women! How I appreciate the struggles, the joys, the silliness they have shared. Pam once wrote a whole essay on chin hairs. It was hilarious and we laughed until we were nearly sick. Now, how can you not be friends with someone who writes about chin hairs?

One of my granddaughters hates to unload the dishwasher. I am convinced it's because it's a lonely activity. Her sister is only two but I think if her Mom would position the two-year-old next to the seven-year-old and show her what she could put away--like the plastic cups--that the seven year old would like it better.

I think we all need to work together. Be together. Life is not meant to be lonely. It's meant to be full and rich with family and friends.