Sunday, November 30, 2008

Needs - It's a long one

I have been thinking about "needs" and what makes us do things. Why some things are important to me and others aren't. Why the things that ARE important to me don't always match what others think is important. Complex stuff. Trying to sort things out. I'm sure this is part of way I am taking care of my mom. We are learning from each other.

I remembered this chart. It is called Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The link will take you to wikipedia and explain what it represents. Our more primitive needs form the base. When there is a deficiency in that level, all other needs are ignored until those basic ones are filled. Once they ARE filled, we move in our motivation to the next level and not until then.

For instance, if someone has lost their home to a tornado, they won't really be concerned if the clothes they are wearing are color coordinated. They will be worried about whether their family is all safe and where they are going to sleep that night. They will be looking for food and water. Once those needs are met and they have a safe, secure place to stay, they will want to contact distant family and friends. Those needs will drive their actions.

This is a very simple example of what I am trying to share.

I was thinking in terms of blogging. What is it that drives us to write? Journaling, short stories, blogs, fan fiction - what makes us do it? I thought it was the desire to communicate, but when no one is commenting, I still write. It's a process of recording. But why? What drives it? In the LDS church, we are encouraged to document, record, remember, share. It is part of our history. If the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hadn't written, much of our unique history would be lost.

I taught a lesson on Mormon, Chapters 7-9, today. It is the record of a lone man who is left to maintain, observe the events and record what he sees. He received the records of his people from his father. He accepted the responsibility of safeguarding the record. His father was killed in warfare with another group of people. He is the only one of his "tribe" of people left alive. His enemies search out remnants of his people and seek to kill them. He has no one to talk to. He has no permanent home. He does what he promised his father he would do. He remains true to his religion and faith in God. And he writes. It seems to me that his writing are more intense BECAUSE he had no one mortal with whom to talk.

The material he had to write on was limited. He was alone and would not make more ore to write on. He was limited in space for his comments. He had to choose his words carefully. We don't have his difficulties.

What drives us? What inhibits us? There is more involved that just Maslow's chart. It has to do with what stage of life we are in. Sometimes crossing those age barriers is difficult. I don't know what life is like for my mom. I used to say that trying to explain why a mom worries so about her teenagers was like trying to speak Chinese. There just is no common ground of understanding. The mom has had experiences that her child hasn't. The child can't understand the experience the mom is trying to share.

As a mom, I wanted to "spare" my kids some unpleasant lessons. Sometimes it worked, but most often it didn't. There is a learning curve. "don't touch - it's HOT!" didn't mean anything until they had been burned. Then they had the concept of "owie." Owie could be used to teach other safety lessons. There has to be a common touch point (reference point) to share information.

Like learning the color "red" - then you can describe the color of an apple, the inside of a watermelon, the sky at sunset, blood - a variety of things. From one concept shared. Maybe we can't understand another's need unless we have experienced that need. Maybe sometimes we just feel like Moroni - alone. But like Moroni, we need to keep doing what we promised to do and living true to the principles we believe in. Unmovable.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Raccoon Hotel

The pest guy came Wednesday afternoon to repair the torn screen on the vent. He wanted to check in the crawl space before sealing it up, in case a raccoon or something else had already made themselves at home. He starts down the trapdoor and gets onto his knees when he stops suddenly. He stands back up and says -

(Come on - just guess....)

"There's a raccoon down here."
I guess the growling was a give-away.

He hops back up out of there (I don't blame him - I wouldn't want to tangle with one in a crawl space either...) Of course, it's the day before Thanksgiving and he won't be able to bring a trap by until next week. So we have house guests for the weekend. For any who might be concerned for the raccoon, he's bringing a "live" trap and he relocates the little darlings.

Myself - I have different wishes for them.............but I am evil.

The side issue is what this news does to my mom, who has paranoia about these critters. After living here a few months, I understand her plight better, but her reaction goes with her condition. She is back to hearing noises at night and not being able to sleep. It gets her sleeping pattern disrupted and that's not good.

All I can say at this point, is - pass the turkey. I need the L-tryptophan-induced sleep.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankfulness, continued

Tom is thankful:

For the Lord's love and mercy towards him
That the Savior is patient with him
For having a new life through His atonement
For having such good kids - both natural and those we have "adopted"
For living in a country where you are free to travel without papers
For freedom of speech
For all the freedoms that we take for granted
For people who VOLUNTEER to serve in the armed forces of this country
For families who support those soldiers WHILE they serve
For all the love and joy he has had in his life
For those who have helped he and I get to the temple together

And lastly, he feels something that goes beyond "thankfulness." He reverences those who have served in the armed forces - protecting us - who have given their lives that we might enjoy the freedoms we do everyday.

We have a daughter living in Venezuela. We wish she didn't, but that is where she is. Sharing her experiences of living outside the borders of the U.S. opens my eyes to how many things we take for granted. Some of the things I've come to realize for great blessings are:

Having a mail service that delivers in a timely, routine, and untampered way. (In Venezuela, you can't even be sure the post office will be in the same place from week to week. They will move and post no notices. You can't send anothing of value, because the postal workers will open and steal.)

Having regular business hours in which we may contact businesses and government offices. (In Venezuela, some government offices are only open a few hours a day, once or twice a week.)

Having law enforcement. (There is no enforcement of traffic laws. Driving the highways is a free-for-all. You can't leave your home unattended - even during the day - if you have anything of worth at all. Your neighbors will break in and steal your belongings. Someone must be left at home at all times.)

Food supply in our stores. (In Venezuela there are massive food shortages. They can't even be sure they will be able to get dry milk from week to week. When they find it, they buy all they can, even if it takes most their grocery money, because they don't know when it will be available again.)

The freedom to travel freely. We can travel from state to state, town to town without showing papers, or getting a permit. We live in an amazingly blessed country.

24 Hour Countdown

Thanksgiving is almost here. I can hardly believe it. I'm cooking turkeys today for our church dinner tomorrow. I love that our congregation has an "empty-nest-er's" Thanksgiving feast. It makes it so fun to get together with your church family when your actual family is far away. I'm looking forward to it!

While preparing the bird for the oven, I started rolling things over in my mind and decided that I wanted to list the things I am thankful for. Mostly they are simple things, things you don't think about until you don't have them. And spiritual things.

I am grateful for:

The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for me
Having printed scriptures in my home that I can study for myself
Having a living prophet to lead and guide us
Sharing my life with a man who loves me and the Lord
Each and every one of my kids
Each adorable grandchild in my life
Having electricity available at the touch of a switch
Having indoor plumbing
Having clean drinking water available at the turn of a knob
Being able to bath with hot water in the privacy of my own bathroom
Having a warm and reasonably secure house to live in
Having shelter from the inclimate weather
Having a reliable vehicle to take me places
Having food available on the shelves of our stores
For truckers and suppliers who make the trips to provide those items
Having medicine that corrects my body's deficiencies
Having durable clothes of my own choosing to wear
Having comfortable shoes to protect my feet

More to come...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

House Woes - Or Why I Hate Raccoons!

Okay - This isn't really our house.
But it is the only thing we HAVEN'T had to deal with.

We live in a rural area, as the bear postings have made perfectly clear. We have raccoons and critters around all the time. I understand sharing the woods with them, but I draw the line at sharing the house with them. Call me civilized. They haven't accepted that as fact yet.

Since we moved in with my mom this summer, it has been one house issue after another. I haven't blogged about it because they have been the kind of things that happen when regular maintenance is not done. Because I was walking into repair after repair, and had some specific concerns, we scheduled a home inspection. I thought it would help me know what all I dealing with and help me prioritize things. HA!

I am going to make some handyman a very wealthy man. There is a VERY large list that needs to be taken care of.

A few weeks ago we had the pest guy come out and re-screen the vents around the foundation. It has to be done or the darling little critters will move in around the nice warm hot water pipes for the winter. Cunning little things.... Now we are talking, stainless steel, heavy duty wire here. The raccoons have already dismantled one screen. I have a year warranty, so the pest guy is coming back out tomorrow to repair the opening. The damage they have already done under the house is another thing. The insulation is torn down and things I don't even want to think about.

Raccoons are not cute and cuddly. They are destructive and dangerous. They have been known to kill dogs in the area.

The gutters have been cleaned. The offending overhanging limb has been removed. But before the man left, he brought to my attention that the wooden retaining wall, behind the house, isn't doing much "retaining" any more. It's starting to surrender. It is tilted and bulging. Yikes! It looks like a fat ladies foundation garment about to explode! Which would put the hillside right into my mom's bathroom.

The biggest issue on the inspection was the house foundation, which is sinking on the southeast corner. In a big way. I wasn't going to deal with it until we have to face selling the house, but with this new issue it bubbles up again as something that needs to be addressed. The same company who can do the retaining wall also does foundations. So - after Thanksgiving - they are going to come out and take a look at it and tell us what it will take to correct the situation.

All this brings back the old Sunday school song, "The foolish man built his house upon the sand..."

Saturday, November 22, 2008


It is something we think about, at least subconsciously. I actually never thought it would happen to me. Growing up in the 50's and 60's, I truly never thought I would see old age. There was so much talk of nuclear war. The Cold War was very HOT. There were so many assassinations of social icons. The theme of the sixties was "Don't trust anyone over 30." And we didn't. It never occurred to me that I would ever be one. I thought the world would end - one way or another - before that ever happened.

But here I am - almost 60. Twice the age I swore to never trust. It astounds me.

What is more surprising is what I enjoy about aging. Who knew grandkids would be so much fun?! No one mentioned how much you appreciate small things. How much fun it is to CHOOSE your path through each day. The Lord's creations seem more precious. I'm sad there are places I will never see now because of my mobility limitations, but it makes me want to see more of those places I can still handle. There are still jewels to be discovered.

Friday, November 21, 2008

First Day

I've been following a blog that encourages people to take minute out of their day and write. Today her prompt was to write about a first day in your life - any first day of doing something. There were great responses.

I thought of my first day in the desert, attending BYU's Survival class, years ago. We had a bus full of strangers reading for things that had only been described in words. It waited for us were lessons that you could only learn physically - not mentally. I remember being dropped off - miles and miles from any paved road. I remember the fear that came over me as the bus drove away. All my worldly belongings were laying along the side of the road, in an Army duffle bag. There wasn't a drop of water to be seen. Then the instructors put us in pairs and marched us off, away from our bags. Heading out into the desert, I felt naked. I felt unprepared. I was sure I had made a big mistake. And I wanted to go home.

That wouldn't happen for another 30 days. There were lessons to learn.


I got this one from Arya - you may be sorry you asked!
Here are the rules:
1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Write 7 random things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post.
4. Pass on the tag.

Here are 7 random things about me:
1. My toe is getting better.

2. I've just about finished a new afghan. I really like the colors in this one. Don't know who I'm giving it to yet.

3. I know where there is a Shih-tsu about to have puppies!

4. I like to play "Guess This Hymn" with Tom when we clean the chapel. The branch has a computer piano, with hymns programmed into it. Tom will pick a hymn and play a few notes and I try to guess the name.

5. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It isn't commercialized. It requires no presents. It just a time to be thankful and count your blessings. It is family oriented.

6. I'm starting to like cooking again.

7. I like playing Stronghold on the computer.


Ran several errands while we were out. I took my camera. It was a blustry day today. When the wind speed picks up, the seagull set down. Wherever they can. Talk about the bridge to nowhere - here is the south end of the Alsea bridge, going into Waldport. Little town. Great crabbing spot. Used to be a good salmon and steel head area, until the seal lions moved in and multiplied.
This is what happened to the beaches in the winter. The rainfall swells the rivers. The water level rises. The current undercuts the banks. The trees loose their footing and topple into the river. The bigger rivers carry them down stream, where they eventually make it in a bay. The tidal action drives them up on the beach. Bonfire material...fort building material...

Visiting Teachers

I have the BEST visiting teachers! They came by Tuesday and they always bring me something. One time it was home canned tuna - YUM! And this time it was homemade whole wheat bread. I had forgotten how GOOD it tastes.
It took me back to when I used to make all my own bread, when Matt and Ericka were really little. Money was tight and I just made everything I possibly could. Ericka was sitting at the table and I gave her a piece of the newly baked bread, of which she immediately took a bite. She hold it up and declared, "CAKE!" I didn't argue with her. It was that good.
I HAVE to start making bread again! All that good fiber and B vitamins.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


If this is as boring to read as it is to live through, I'm sorry.

My day consisted a few necessary, but tedious tasks. I started out getting a hold of a gutter cleaning service. In the last rain storm, the rain was pouring out over the tops of the gutters. In walking around to check them, I found stuff GROWING out of the back gutters. I'd say it's been a while since they were cleaned.

The guy I called, stopped by and had a good laugh, checking out all the eves. When he started writing wildly with a mechanical pencil, flipping through the pages of his notebook and powering up the calculator, I knew we were in trouble. His partner walked down to the street and started talking on his cell phone. I figure he was calling in reinforcements. Or his wife, to tell her she could go Christmas shopping - he had the expenses covered.

He's coming back Monday and will take care the tree branch and gutters.

Our place backs up to a bluff. There is a hillside, right at the back of the house. There are trees and brush growing on this hill. It is a freeway for raccoons and various critters. This summer the family above us had a geologist come out for an appraisal of the hill's stability. He mentioned that there is one tree that needed some of the lower, western-facing branches should be trimmed. This gutter guy also trims trees. (I didn't ask why.) But most of the debree on our roof covers from that tree. He is going to take down that large branch and that will lessen the risk of it coming down in a storm and will decrease the downhill creep.

Another Fall Favorite!

This is why I brought the camera downstairs. I found the most beautiful pomegranates at the store. They were huge and colorful.

These have always been a favorite of mine. I remember raiding an tree in a vacant lot on my route home from grammar school. We started picking them before they were totally ripe! Grandma Tooley had a tree in her yard in Pomona. Mom and Poppo had one in their yard in Rowland Heights. I miss
pomegranates growing around here.

Don't they look like little jewels? I love peeling and seeing all the little fleshy clusters.

But it always comes down to this - EATING them!

In memorium - a little pomegranate art...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tom Got the Camera Again

It get dark so early now. It's dark by 5:30pm. That means a LOT of time indoors in the evening....we sometimes get a little bored watching TV with Mom. Tom fights back...

I had just re-charged my camera battery and took it downstairs at dinner. Tom took the camera and next thing I knew - I had the following shots.... Doesn't he have beautiful eyes?!

I don't know - I think I like this shot better than the nostril shot. What do YOU think?

He got his hair cut today and a beard trim. Coleen always brings out the perfect shape. He's wearing it shorter this winter. Lots of gray...AWESOME!

She got the hair trimmed back on his upper lip - it was starting to crawl in. Now you can see his teeth.

We tried something new. We took a picture of the cupboards through the binoculars. (Did I mention how bored we have been?)

This was my Mom's reaction to our adventures. Good thing she has a good sense of humor.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Emergency Preparedness - Revisited

The subject of emergency preparedness came up again this weekend. We had guest speakers: Bro & Sis Johnson. They used to be in the Eugene Oregon Mission, and now are the regional church welfare specialists. The Spirit was very strong. They explained the width and breadth of the welfare program. They emphasized the importance of having a three month supply of every day products. They said the church no longer asks for a "year's supply." They suggest "extended" store as much as legally possible."

Maybe it is the cost of obtaining a year's supply that has changed. I remember while the kids were little that the thought was that if we didn't get our whole supply in then, we wouldn't be able to afford to do it later. We could rotate it and maintain it, but it would be very expensive to buy it outright later. To buy the assortment pictured above at once would cost almost $2500.

Here is our emergency evacuate kit. I put it all in a wheeled trash can (food, water and supplies).

Our first aid kit is in an old camera bag.

I also have a suitcase with our toiletries and a change of clothes for each of us. I have worked on organizing the garage to make room for our camping gear, which is currently stored in our storage unit.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Day

Nature is my greatest teacher. My favorite tree, the beach, and the sunshine this morning. When I get depressed, it seems like the situation is like a big blanket that someone threw over me. I can't find the edge and crawl out from under it. It seems like that is all there is. I start thinking that it is forever.

But it never is. There is always a new day coming. Sometimes, someone else lifts the edge of the blanket and shows me the reality of what I am dealing with. It was just a situation I hadn't dealt with before. Sometimes the blanket is just a clue that I need to find some new tools. I feel like that now.

Depression is something I have fought most of my life. I'm genetically-wired for this problem. I have medical conditions that contribute to it. I have been warned against submitting to it in my patriarchial blessing. Controlling it, overcoming it, and thriving is an on-going project. I have posted about this in the past and I'm sure my moods will chart out in the future. They fluctuate. The thing to always remember, though, is that there is always a point where it ends. No one knows what tomorrow will bringm BUT the sun ALWAYS comes after the rain. The miracles come AFTER the trial of our faith.

Excuse me - I've gotta go enjoy the sun!

Quiet Book Project

I'll apologize up front for the way some of these pictures uploaded. I can't seem to get all them horizontal. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

I started this project nearly a year ago, for Cayden. Things happened and it got set aside. With a little more time this year, I am trying again. It isn't elegant or professional-looking, but I think it is functional enough. I tend to suffer from the same traits as Chrissy - those of perfectionism. If I can't do something that measures up to my internal standards, I tend not to do it at all. I have learned to "adapt" some of my standards enough to be functional in some situations. My criteria for this project is : #1 - I'm not selling it. #2 - It's for a little boy who won't know the difference for many years. #3 - It's better than doing nothing. Now - how sad is that? BUT - it's getting the book done!

On to the book! This page will have a fishing pole attached to the dog's hand with a lanyard type hook on it. The fish snap onto the "pond" and will have rings in their noses, so they can be caught.
This is my favorite page so far. The penguin is a stacking toy. It unzips and has a smaller penguin inside. That penguin has an egg inside of it. The egg has a tiny penguin baby in it. The facing page is a bed, with a sheet and blanket. It will fasten (haven't decided how yet) to hold a figure in the bed. It will also have a pillow attached.

This page has an egg with a chick inside. I think I will make a few other things that could go in it - like a baby dino. They could be changed out for a surprise on different times. The bear holds a pencil and pad of paper (no there yet) for drawing pictures, etc.

I think this page is kind of lame. It has clothes that snap on and can be taken off and put in the pocket/basket. Maybe I should make more clothes so they could be changed out. If I were to do it again, I think I would draw a person and then have clothes they could snap on to change the outfits.

This page has apples that can be picked and put into a basket and flowers that need watering.

This page has a tic-tac-toe board that holds the pieces. It Velcro's shut so they will stay inside when no being used. The facing page will be a girl with long hair that can be braided and will have barrettes.

I'm not done with this page. It is a flower garden and has a bee that needs to go to each flower. The flowers are attached. The bee will be snapped or Velcro-ed, with an elastic strap.

I have some other pages planned by not put together yet. I will post the new ones as I get them done.

I (heart) This Tree

I was going to take a picture of it all summer, and never got it done. Now I'm kind of glad. It seems more appropriate in a storm. What I get from this tree is:
Where there is a will, there is a way.

Sometimes we start out, thinking we are going one way and we end up in a different situation than we planned. Should we give up? This tree didn't. I'm sure it planned on being the tallest in the forest. But it rooting got disrupted, and nearly destroyed. It adapted. It improvised. It overcame. (I think my kids will remember those words....) It still sought the vertical connection. And so should we. There is a Plan. It's called the Plan of Happiness for a reason. We have an infinite capacity for joy. There are forces at work who want to steal that from us. We need to make a choice. Like this tree, seek the "vertical connection." Pray. Read God's word. Meditate. Seek the Light.

Wonderful Weather for Ducks

Welcome to Oregon! This is what we live in nine months out of the year...

Having 20-30 mph winds has transferred most of our fall color from the trees to the ground. The bushes are trying but the little leaves just can't hang on.

Even the seagulls are walking.

Or hanging out at the dock of the Port of Alsea, hoping for handouts, or easy pickings from the crabbers.

But the crabbers are fighting back and defending their hard-caught payload. This guy was hitting the water, the boat, the deck - whatever - just to keep the gulls off his catch.
It was a dreary day. Rain, wind and fog.
One thing I DO like about winter is the contrast of the evergreens in the fog. I never tire of watching the peek-boo layering of the forest. It makes me want to paint.
And the ghostly appearance of the seabirds out across the bay. Sailing in from the ocean, cutting their way through the fog... coming into a safe harbor.

So should we all.