Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Brother!

Thirty-two years (1978) ago I learned I had a half-brother named David. I was 29 and had just had my first child. David was eight and his mom and our dad had just broken up. I was occupied with starting a family and loosing my grandparents for next several years. Time went by and I always thought about him and wondered if we would ever really get to know each other. He was always in the back of my mind.

Suddenly last year - we connected - through genealogy - on Ancestry. It was a miracle. We talked on the phone for months. We planned on meeting each other when Chrissy had her baby in October, since I already had a trip planned. That is exactly what happened.

I met him face-to-face last night for the first time. I could see my dad's features in his face - different, but he IS my dad's son. I felt comfortable immediately. He is TALL - about 6'3" or more and stocky. There aren't many in my family who are taller than me, and those are only taller by a little. David is TALLER! I just LOVED that!

This goes back a long way for me. It is like a prayer I've prayed my whole life has been answered. All the warm fuzzies I am feeling, I am just going to keep for myself right now. The Lord knows my heart - inside and outside. And He knows what heals an aching soul. And nothing is impossible through Him.

Tonight he brought his mom. Ardie and Bruce drove me to The Corner Cafe in north Kansas City and we all ate dinner together. It was so fun!

So - here's the new part of my family:

Bruce and Ardie

David, me and his mom, Rita

David and his Mom

Craft Fair - Baldwin City, Kansas

I spent the day with my cousin, Ardie, exploring probably the biggest craft fair I've ever seen. I naively imaged the proportions of, maybe, a city park with booths, etc. Baldwin is an out-of-the -way small town southwest of my hometown of Lenexa, Kansas. It is the home of Baker University. How big could their craft fair BE??

This big:

I walked MILES! and loved every minute of it! Ardie and I had so much fun, but I don't think it was just the craft fair. I think we would have fun doing anything AND nothing. The pace in Kansas is just different. The weather was amazing - hot, but with a constant breeze that made it so pleasant; clear, sunny skies ( I thought I was in an alien environment...), among friendly, outgoing people.
Picked up some samples of crocheted items that I think would be fun to make and marketable next year. Drooled over jewelry. Marveled over the sheer volume of talent on display.
All in all - an exceptional day!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Outstanding Sunday

Today I got to substitute for our Gospel Doctrine teacher. It was the first six chapters of Isaiah and I was in "hog heaven"! I so LOVE the Old Testament! I have such a love for it. I know it comes from my childhood and the Bible stories I grew up reading and hearing. It was so much fun.

I miss teaching and the structure it gave me for my scripture study. I miss the discovery and research. I learned so much more than I ever taught. I was afraid that my study would evaporate when I stopped teaching and I was pretty right.

I had borrowed Believing Christ from my branch president. I was previewing it to see about sending to my son. I found that he had access to that book already, but I enjoyed reading it on my own. I thought I had a testimony of the Atonement before, but the book opened so many things. The more I study the Atonement, the bigger it becomes. And the more humble I become.

I returned it to him and we talked about what we liked about the book. As I was leaving, he smiled and said "You looked real natural up there teaching this morning." I said, "I LOVE teaching...." I could think of nothing I'd love better than getting to do Gospel Doctrine again. Wish, wish, wish.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Crochet is a Sickness

I have crocheting more this year than ever before. Part of it came from being a partner in a "yarn goods" booth at the local farmer's market. I always wondered if there was a market for the things I made and this year taught me a lot. I shared the booth with a friend who knits and sews and we had a fairly good selection of things to offer. I learned marketing. I learned pricing. And I learned that I could not support myself that way if things ever got bad!! I COULD however make enough to cover my expenses when shopping at said market for the products of other vendors!! Especially the bread lady! YUM!

Now a certain discomfort sets in when I do not have access to needle and yarn. It's scary. I take a bag in the car with me, just in case. I mean, you don't know when you are going to stuck in traffic for hours...and what would I do with all those empty minutes and empty hands??

I have found a pattern that I am obsessed with at the moment. It is a scalloped hooded infant sweater. It can be varied many ways. This was my first attempt. I used a baby sports weight and a size H needle. Now, I crochet very tightly and it ended up tiny. Good for a preemie - or for the naked baby doll that my youngest granddaughter has been carrying around since the birth of her baby brother. Now the baby doll is no longer naked.

Then I made this one. The gray yarn is Red Heart's Homespun and very soft. I used an over-sized the hook to make it even softer.

Then I tried it without the hood. Again worsted weight. This time was Vanna's Choice yarn, which is also very soft.

And this is my newest experiment. I left the sleeves short, lengthened the "skirt" and closed up the front (which you can't see). So it is more like a little dress. With a hood. And pom-pom. Don't ask me why. I told you it was an illness... Maybe Yoda is looking for a new outfit....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Best Pastrami Ever!

Tom has a love affair with the Food Network. I accept it. From Bobby Flay to the Iron Chef. Mario Batali to Guy Fieri.

He loves watching Triple D ("Diners, Drive-ins and Dives") and then trying the places we come in contact with. So far it has been a fun experience and we've enjoyed some great food in places we would never have tried otherwise.

We had another adventure this last week. We had to make a trip up to Portland, in the extended effort to get Tom registered for VA health benefits. We decided to visit a family owned sausage factory in Portland that had been featured on Triple D.

There on the corner of Woodstock was a store, with a barbecue cooking away. The line of people waiting went down the block. There were picnic tables along the sidewalk. You COULD eat inside, but enjoying the rare sunshine in Portland, we took the outside option. The dogs were good - freshly grilled and hot. We bought some samples for Ericka and got some of their homemade pastrami to take home.

We made hot pastrami sandwiches for lunch today out of their pastrami. Holy Cow! I love pastrami -but have never had one better than this! Next trip to Portland will definitely include a stop at Otto's!!

Recipes Galore!

We have a spot in out little post office where people drop off books, magazines, and catologs that they don't want and others may claim them. A couple days ago, I went in to get our mail and found a treasure. Someone had left about four years of "Quick Cooking" and "Taste of Home" magazines there, packaged in zip lock bags.

These magazines have a history in our family. Ericka's mother-in-shared them with her when she was first married. She told me about them and I enjoyed them. I ended up gifting them to my daughters for Christmas. I immediately claimed them. Ericka used a method of noting which recipes she liked in each issue. She placed a post-it on the cover and wrote the recipe name and page on the post-it. That way she didn't have to shuffle through each magazine to find her favorites.

Whoever left these magazines did the same thing!!

I'm thinking I will sort though and collect and share. I might end up with a nice recipe book for a gift some future Christmas.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I feel like I am climbing out of the hole I fell into. Our family has been on shaky ground for the last six months. I, personally, fell into a crevasse about a month or so ago. It felt like one of those "drop off the end of the earth" situations. I didn't know if I was going to get out or not.
I started seeing a counselor and was given some new "tools" that helped me sort and handle things better.

I have no embarrassment about going to a therapist. I take my car to be tuned and adjusted. I see a physician to address my body's areas of malfunction. I have gone to a massage therapist to work out knotted muscles...a chiropractor to adjust misalignment's...etc. Our mental and emotional health is just as important.

The guy I started seeing is amazing and always make me laugh. We were talking about all the issues that have come up in the last six months - which boggled even my mind. And he asked me what course of action was recommended in "the handbook." I was confused. I thought maybe he was talking about the Bible... And he explained.

"When each human being reaches the age of about 7 or eight, they are issued a hand book." I'm of Mormon? He goes on. "it's about 1800 hundred pages of instructions regarding the issues we would encounter during our life. It's called the "How to be Human Instruction Manual! Did you loose your copy???"

He smilingly chided me about being so careless. HE still had his! We played around with that idea for quite a while and had a lot of laughs. He said that if I had KEPT mine, and read it, that it clearly states (on page 738) which types of people we should marry. That would have been so helpful the first time around..... Of course, there is NO instruction book.

But the books I thought of - the Bible, the Book of Mormon, all our scriptures are there for our guidance. A direct guideline. Why is it that I forget that so easily? And why is it that as soon as I turn to it again, I get immediate guidance, comfort and strength? Heavenly Father never once has withheld his support.

I have found that I treat myself worse than I would a stranger in a similar situation. We role-played some situations of how I would react if i saw a little girl stepping out into oncoming traffic as I was driving along. I would stop and try to get her out of the street. I would try to warn the cars and protect her. UNLESS that little girl was me. In that case I would yell at her for being in the street in the first place! I'd jerk her back on the curb. She SHOULD know better than to go into traffic.

But HOW could she know? She lost her copy of the "Instruction Manual"!! I could go on for hours about the damage the woulds, shoulds, coulds, oughts and musts can bring into our lives. And WE are the ones inflicting them - ON OUR SELVES!! People! Stop it!

If I were the one answering my plea for help in a time of emergency, my response might be something like this:

"OOOOOOHH! NOW you want an answer, huh??
What about all those little promptings I gave you? 'Hey - why not read a little before going to work?' 'You ought to take your scriptures with you...' 'What was that scripture in Alma?'

Did you pay attention to Me then??? No-o-o-o. Little miss "I'm-doing-fine-all-by-myself"!

You think I'm going to drop all the important details OF THE UNIVERSE I have to look after - just to help you - right now because you finally decided to come to Me ??

Luckily, I AM NOT on the receiving end of my prayers and pleas. My Heavenly Father is and His answer is ALWAYS:

"Yes, my beloved daughter, I WILL help. I love you more than you can ever imagine....."

Waldport - New Presidency

We had branch conference last Sunday and as expected our current branch president was released. He had been in for almost six years! He's had some health issues, We have limited active priesthood available for leadership positions, since we are such a small group. I was thrilled with the stake's decision for our new president. They drafted someone from Newport Ward!! I'm so excited. I have great feelings about this presidency!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Feng Shui and Emotional Constipation

"The reason most people avoid clearing the clutter is not because it takes effort and it can be time consuming. The real reason is the fact that clutter clearing is a very emotional process that feels like therapy, and it takes emotional stamina to go through it. The good news, though, is that once you clear most of your clutter ... you will start experiencing high energy levels, more clarity, and a heightened sense of well-being..."


"For every piece of clutter that has piled up because we've been too busy or too distracted to deal with it, there's probably at least one piece that you have avoided dealing with for emotional reasons. The underlying problem is not procrastination, it's that dealing with clutter means dealing with our own difficult emotions:

1. Getting rid of clothes we'll never fit into again means accepting our current shape and level (or lack) of fitness.

2. Getting rid of an expensive item we never use means admitting that we made a poor decision when we bought it.

3. Getting rid of books and magazines we don't have time to read means accepting that we will never have enough time or attention to explore every topic that's of interest to us.

4. Getting rid of possessions remaining after a loved one has died means coming to terms with our loss and grief.

Acknowledge to yourself that clearing out your clutter will involve some emotional risk. Start by exploring why keeping certain kinds of clutter feels comforting to you."

BOY! That has been where I have been for at least a month. Dealing with getting rid of my mom's things has been overwhelming. I had someone tell me that maybe I just wasn't READY to let go.

BLING!! Light bulb moment!

I THOUGHT I was. I decided to prove to myself I was ready. Monday I filled the van with paintings, pictures, and boxes, planning to take them to the consignment place. But once loaded, I was too tired ... it was too late...yada-yada. (Easy to see the pattern NOW...)

The next day it rained and was really windy and I didn't want to deal with unloading everything in THAT kind of weather...(interesting, huh?)

Which brought me to yesterday. I had the car full and was irritated with myself for it still being in the car and not delivered. The weather was good and I had no excuses. It STILL took me most of the morning to get bathed, dressed and out the door. (And the funny thing was that I was oblivious to all this....)

At the Antique Mall, a lady came and helped me unload. And here is where it gets weird - ok? As I UNLOADED stuff, I started feeling "lighter." Weird, huh? I started getting happy. Now that's something I haven't felt for a while. I got all those abstract paintings out and felt really good about it - for about a minute.

Then - BAM! The guilt hits me. I was feeling really good about getting rid of something that meant so much to my parents. Now - that has to be wrong, right? What kind of a kid would be happy about getting rid of the things that were part of her parents lives? They spent years accumulating just the right things - and I was getting rid of them.

It is a weird world I live in right now. I had NO idea I felt that way, until - I felt that way. I decided to go with the "Woo-Hoo" feeling I had first. It goes back to my philosophy of things.

Things are just things.

Their treasures were treasures to THEM. My treasures won't mean any more to my kids when I am gone then my parents belongings mean to me. The only reasons I can think of for "things" to become valuable are:
1. the Quality of the craftsmanship
2. Memories attached to it
3. the Value of the components
Memories are only motivating if they are YOUR memories. So much of what I am dealing with, materially here, truly has no value for me. I can't hold on to everything I ever saw my mom use.
What I THINK I want is a connection to the past my mom and I shared. Things aren't going to give me that. My mom can't give me that. There is no amount of money that could be received from the sell of these things that will replace what Alzheimer's has stolen from me.
There is NOTHING redeeming about Alzheimer's. No part of it is fun. It's just a big, gaping black hole that eats up everything.
Clutter doesn't just consist of material items. I've got a lot of emotional things foing on, too. I'm working my way through it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dog Days

With Tom on a visit to see his family in CA, I have been left to care of our two "puppies." He and I have laughed about how taking care of the puppies has reminded us of raising our kids. Well, I have learned that as a "single parent," this week - I haven't been able to keep track of both dog's activities.

Toby is sweet and easy going. He loves attention and wants to be with you. He has the sweetest temperament. Shelby is evil. She's cute and adorable - and as crafty as a fox. They are Shih-tzu-Poodle blends and we refer to them as Shih-Poo's. this week Shelby is just being called a little "Shih."

I haven't been cooking much, since he has been gone, but one night I decided to heat up some Foster Farms grilled breast strips and have some vegetables. I set up my meal in the living room on a TV tray and put in a DVD. (Dinner and a movie is something we do occasionally) I can't remember why, but I went back to the bedroom for a moment. I moved the TV tray away from the chair and left the TV on.

Toby, dutifully, followed me in and sat at my feet. Shelby didn't come. Hmmm. She doesn't like to be alone and ALWAYS follows Toby. Hmmmm. I called her and she didn't come. I got a real bad feeling and went to check on her. I figured she was using my absence to potty somewhere she shouldn't. Wrong. There, poised ever so carefully, was Shelby. Hind legs on the arm of my recliner, front legs on the TV tray - eating my chicken! I'm telling you, a cat has nothing on this little dog!

She saw me and knew her goose was cooked. she immediately jumped down, dropped her head and wagged her tail. I think it was the tail wag that made me so mad. It was like she was trying to look mortified at her actions, but her tail betrayed how REALLY happy she was that she found that chicken. She got a time-out in her crate, IN her playpen! Mama was NOT happy. There was no more chicken.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Random Thoughts

I haven't been keeping this blog current. I have many things on my mind, but have been keeping my thoughts private. That isn't really working out too well for me. I need to process them and for me that involves writing.

So - here I go again.

Since last fall, there have been a series of developments that have been basically awful. Not everything. But there have been "significant events" that, if delivered one at a time, would have been difficult to deal with. But no - they came pancaking down and I struggled. I guess I went to survival mode and withdrew.

I was given a really good analogy. There's a saying that goes, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonaid." And I think that is what I initially did. But it kept going on and on. My sweet daughter-in-law was feeling the same. She posted on facebook "I'm tired of making lemonaid..." I laughed AND cried. I knew exactly what she was saying.

So - there we are. Lemons get delivered - we start cutting them up and trying to make lemonaid. And they keep coming. Boxes of them. And then they start bring in limes. We say - "Wait, I'm still working on the lemons..." And they drop them off any way.

We are running out of buckets to put the lemons in, when the next delivery arrives - of grapefruits! "Ah - could you hold off just a minutes - we are still working on the lemons - and the limes are waiting..." Crash! The crate of grapefruits hits the floor. Before the dust has settled, the next truck is backing in with the barrels of sauerkraut!


How can you cope with ONE thing, when the calamities just keep piling up??

Friday, January 15, 2010

Leg of Lamb for the Slow Cooker / Crock Pot - 218860 - Recipezaar

Leg of Lamb for the Slow Cooker / Crock Pot - 218860 - Recipezaar

January - new beginnings

Mom and Tom have left for their hair cut appointments and it's just the puppies and me on our own. Wind is steadily blowing the rain against the windows in sheets. With 35 mph winds, it is a horizontal rain day.

I've been through a tough few months and I tend to cocoon myself when this happens. Finally feel like I stick my head out and reevaluate the geography. Mom has been very ill and it was hard on us all. She health is in such precarious balance that if we loose one footing, everything else just spirals down. It was a learning experience and, I think, a preparatory one. I needed to know how fragile her health actually was. And where my limits in being the solo caregiver are, as well.

A couple weeks ago, a friend who raises sheep had a marauder (bear or cougar) come through his flocks and kill a few animals. In addition to the ones he ate, he scared five yearling lambs into the canal, where they got hypothermia. By the time he found them, it was too late to warm most of them and save them. They died as he was trying to get them warm. So, he and to butcher, rather than see them go to waste. He knew I LOVE lamb and called me to see if I could use some meat.

Tom and I drove out to Toledo and he already had help with the skinning. I helped him while he cleaned them and then packed them into our van and took them to the butcher. It takes a while to prepare the carcase before they cut and wrap, so we didn't get our meat until yesterday. We ended up with about 75 pounds of cut and wrapped meat from the two lambs!

Most people think of lambs like this:

I think of them like this:

I am cooking one of the legs of lamb tonight! I'm trying a crock pot recipe I found. It follows this post. Tom is looking for the peanut butter and jelly.