Saturday, December 31, 2011

Crochet - The Patterns We Create

I have been thinking a little about the spiritual lessons I have learned from crocheting. The Lord uses whatever touches your heart to get his message across. The things you know and love and understand on a temporal level are just fertile soil for a personal “parable.” I have learned that following a crochet pattern is like taking all the small foundational steps in building a spiritual life.

No one stitch seems that important as you are working along. If you lose count, or miss a stitch, it might not even be noticeable for quite a while. But – you have been building a pattern. Patterns are built on symmetry. If you don’t follow the pattern – exactly – you end up with something different than the designer intended. Not necessarily unusable, but different. If you want to create what the Designer intended, you must follow the pattern step-by-step.

To do that, after you notice your mistake, you have to go back to the point where you error-ed , and fix your mistake. That means tearing out the stitches in-between where you are and the last true step you completed. (Like repentance) You start again, correcting your error and continuing along in the correct pattern. When you look back, you can see what your obedience to the pattern produced – a beautiful work of art!

To me this shows the importance of daily prayer, scripture reading, temple attendance, sacrament taking, service, charity, etc. Individually – important. Individually – not too significant, from a temporal standpoint. But when you look at the entire project – the pattern will be confusing and the symmetry will be missing. It is only when you are obedient and you get to see the Master Plan…the beautiful garment that had been designed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thoughts on Aging

I went to the doctor's.  Now, nothing good ever comes after that sentence, at least at my age. 

I NOW have FOUR medicines I have to take every day just to make my body perform in within normal ranges, chemically.  Three!  I don't even LIKE taking pills.  I have tried to ignore the situation, but when your body actually NEEDS can make your day very unpleasant when you don't take it.  Who is in charge here any way???  Obliviously, it's my body.  Crap.

I went in because I hurt my knee last month.  I have arthritis in both knees (and most of the rest of my body) and had decided that riding a bike would be a good exercise.  It was going well until I fell.  Of course, I hit my knee.  The good one. 

Structurally, it is fine.  I can stand and walk on level surfaces with no pain.  Anything else - there is pain.  The action determines HOW much pain.  Climbing stairs, going uphill or downhill, twisting, rising, lowering - you get the picture.  I went back to the doctor because I haven't gotten back to the functioning level I was before the fall.  The good news?  I probably won't without an orthopedic surgeon's help.  Now, later - it doesn't really matter.  I WILL be going if I want to stay mobile.  Yippie-ki-yay.

And I got a two-fer on this visit.  In addition to that good news, my blood pressure is high and I now have to take medicine for that. 

Which brings me to the title I chose.  I'm struggling with the concept that my body is wearing out.  I feel just the same inside as I ever did.  But I find my body not being able to keep up with my desires.  The things my body used to do without me even knowing or considering their importance, now, hold my activity hostage.

I don't remember ever even considering how important my kidneys were.  I doubt you have either.  The kidneys are important organs with many functions in the body, including producing hormones, absorbing minerals, and filtering blood and urine.  Now I have to consider what might harm them.  Seems a little late in the day for that.

I used to hike and run around and never even knew I had a butt.  But these days, all I do is drag it around.  There are days when it is all I can do to haul my wrinkly ol' keister out of the recliner.  I think of the poem that says "How do I know that my youth’s all spent?   Well, my get up and go has got up and went."  But INSIDE, I still want to go and do!

I don't even think I knew what a thyroid was when I younger.  I certainly didn't know what it controlled, which is almost everything.  It's like a mini-PLC (programmable logic control center) for your body.  I know I never thought about mine.  Now it controls ME.  My thyroid needs a back-up generator to keep my body on track.  And the generator I have to use (medication) is not self-regulating.  Unless you do the blood labs, you don't know how the dosage is fitting in with your body's activities.  My body used to do that all on it's own.

I'm afraid I am going to be appreciating more things I knew nothing about as time goes on.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Tag - My Life According to Google!

Type in the following and choose from the first description found. BE HONEST! Don't just pick out one to be funny. I tag my girls and whoever else wants to complete it. It was a fun one! Let me know if you fill it out!

1: Type in "[name] needs" in the Google search:
Paula needs to get out more.

2: Type in "[name] looks like" in Google search:
"Paula looks like cheddar

3: Type in "[name] hates" in Google search:
Paula hates Dragon Fly Dale Hollow Lake, Tennessee

4: Type in "[name] goes" OR "[name] has gone" in Google search:
Paula goes Italian.

5: Type in "[name] loves" in Google search:
Paula loves Josh. (Wait until Tom finds out!)

6: Type in "[name] eats" in Google search:
Paula eats a lasagna sandwich.

7: Type in "[name] has" in Google search:
Paula has a record day.

8: Type in "[name] works" in Google search:
Paula works in Washington, D. C

9: Type in"[name] lives" in Google search:
Paula lives in Vancouver. 

10: Type in "[name] died" in Google search:
Paula died today?

11.Type in "[name] does" in Google search:
Paula does pasta.  (Probably because I went Italian?)

12: Type in "[name] will" in Google search:
Paula will not return to "Idol"

13.Type in "[name] is" in Google search:
Paula is stunned by Ellen.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Many Lives of Socks

My ex-sister-in-law gave me a pattern for making sock dolls years ago.  she made some and they were SO cute!   I've held onto it for years thinking that "one day" I would make some.   It came to the point where I was either going to make them - or toss the pattern. Luckily, I decided to make some!

They are so easy and so cute - I think I am addicted.  I hate it when I procrastinate on something and then find out I love it.  I have made about 10 so far.  I am planning to give them as Christmas presents.

This is my first one.  She already has a home.  I sent her off - naked  - with one of my non-biological daughters.  I didn't have a good clothes pattern at first.  So I am delivering her outfit next Monday!

I forgot to take pictures after I embroidered her face and put her hair in ponytails.  I will get a finished picture of her dressed next week, when I see her new Mom.

The bodies are easy and I like seeing them come together.  It is the quickest part.  It wasn't long before I had several naked, bald, armless babies!  I have been experimenting on hair styles as I have gone along.  I found there was a learning curve on handling the yarn on my sewing machine!  My first couple "wigs" were interesting! 

I wanted to try boys as well as girls - and immediately came up with Orville!  His name just came with him and the red hair!  I want to dress him in overalls!

This was my first short hair try.  It was harder than I thought it would be, but I like it.

After seeing some babies on-line, I thought I would try making smaller...babies.  I love them but don't think I can dress them.  I'm just going to wrap them in a soft blanket.

My first two "completed" dolls!  Not sure they really ARE completed...I keep thinking of other things that might look good.

I think these two are my favorite hair styles!  I'm running out of ideas.

As I work on the next set of dolls, I think I will make a tutorial and post it.  Too cute and too much fun not to share! 

Who knew socks could be so cute!!  They never looked that good on my feet!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Best Friends Animal Society

There is an amazing place hidden away in the middle of nowhere. It's the Best Friends Animal Society

located just north of Kanab, Utah.

View Larger Map

It's location is in what is known as the Grand Circle of national parks.  You can a magnificent view of the Grand Staircase, where I spent some of my BYU Survival class experience.  The canyons of the Escalante are some the most beautiful I have ever seen.

Best Friends offers free van tours and their huge operation.  We had a great tour guide, a native of the area, who works dedicated for the benefit of the animals they rescue.

They have quite an amazing history, and reputation, but I hadn't heard of them until my son told me of his visit there.  There are seven animal areas at the sanctuary and each of them welcomes volunteers: Bunny House, Cat World, Dogtown, Horse Haven, Parrot Garden, Piggy Paradise, and Wild Friends.  They are a non-kill shelter. 

They have a separate section for older dogs.  All the buildings are named after animals that holds a place in the heart of staff and volunteers.  The dog buildings are built in an octagon shape.  Six of the eight sides are formed into dog runs/kennels.  Each unit is designed with the comfort of the dogs in mind.  The units are roomy, have swamp coolers, radiant heating in the floors, and large runs.

The elderly dogs have soft, elevated beds.  So thoughtful.  My arthritis problems enable me to truly appreciate the blessings of not having to lie on hard concrete, and the increased ease of lying down, and rising from an elevated surface.  Each unit has two doggy-doors to the outside yard.

They keep current info on each dog for accurate transfer of information between the shifts of volunteers.

The runs are spacious.  The concrete walkways around the fence are for the security of the dogs.  They prevent the dogs digging out, and predators from digging in.

The setting of this shelter is BEAUTIFUL!  It's a retreat for the humans working there as well.  As a visitor, I was jealous.

They are an arena for dogs who have been kept on a chain all their lives.  They are unfamiliar with being confined, and being indoors.  It provides a great training opportunity.  It is used for agility training.  They have staircases in there, linoleum floors, wood floors - all things the outdoor dogs haven't experienced before.

It was a great experience.  Best Friends is the largest employer in Kane county, Utah, employing 500 people, including two vets who take care of all the medical needs of the animals living there.  For the full length of their lives, or until the animals can be adopted into their new "forever home."

I found a blog, One Bark at a Time, written by one of Best Friends' volunteers.  Fred is a Canadian, who works with the Toronto Animal Services.  He came for a week.  That isn't uncommon.  Volunteers come from all over.  Some make the visit their annual vacation.  Volunteers are a large part of Best Friends' success.

I can't wait to go back again.  It's an amazing place.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mental Health Day

When I was working, the time would come when I would become sick...sick of being at work.  (Okay - I wasn't always the MOST dedicated employee.  The truth can now come out!)  I would call in sick and consider it a "mental health" day.   We're taking one today...Tom and retirees.

I've been dealing with a lot of stuff lately.  You too?  Seems to be going around. 

We are going to a place my son told me about.  He visited it when he was working at Zion Ponderosa .  He was pretty impressed.  So we are going to Best Friends Animal Society.  I will take my camera and post pictures later.


Autumn comes on silent feet;
You hardly know it's there.
Until one day you chance to meet
A crispness in the air.

Attitude Can Change Everything

So many of my blog entries seems to deal with my struggles with accepting current situations.  I seem to have such a hard time keeping a positive attitude. 

I watched this video today.  I was overwhelmed.

If someone with so many limitations can live so fully, so happily....what's wrong with me??? 

My body is not the body I had 20 years ago. As I age, my body reacts.  And, still, I have more physical blessings to work with than this man.  But I am not enjoying HIS quality of life.

What makes the difference?  What made it possible for him to go from being suicidal at the age of eight to being a motivational speaker now?  He changed his attitude.    He subscribes to the belief that "Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude."

I need to work on mine.  A lot.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

30 Uses For a Wire Hanger

Tonight I am bored out of my mind.  I found a creative writing prompt - and here we have the result!

1.  Hanging clothes

2,  A back scratcher

3.  Hot dog skewer

4.  Make-shift marshmallow roaster - I hate them because the wire heats up and melts the marshmallow from the inside before it get toasty brown on the outside.  It slips off into the coals.

5.  I made a replacement hook for my recliner out of one when the original hook broke and flew across the room.

6.  Framework for butterfly wings on a child's Halloween costume

7.  Framework for angel wings on child's Christmas costume

8.  Framework for a flower garland

9.  Framework for a wreath

10.  A tool for unlocking your car door - desperate times call for desperate measures!

11.  Sometimes fatal abortion tool - we're going old school here

12.  Hook for reaching ceiling fan chain

13.  Slip a nylon stocking over it, bend it a little bit, and it makes a good cleaner for rain gutters

14.  A electric outlet circuit tester - ask my son about the time the lights all dimmed and his hair stood on end

15.  Cleaning out a clogged drain - take it apart and put a little hook in the end.

16.  By rounding out the big opening, leaving the hook intact , cover it in aluminum foil and you can use it as a frying pan.

17.  a radio or TV antenna

18.  Repair a sagging car seat spring - cut the wire, and use it to retie the springs together.

19.  A poster hanger

20.  Temporary cotter pin

21.  Paper-mache frame

22.  Using the same pattern as #16, you can use it to make big bubbles to keep your kids entertained

23.  A means to secure your trunk lid when you have to drive your too-long Christmas tree home

24.  Repairing a chain-link fence

25.  Make shift toilet paper holder

26.  Row markers in a garden - put seed packet on them to show what's planted where

27.  Gun-cleaning rod - straightened out, with cloth wad on the tip

28.  Replacement hinge pin

28.  Mobile hanger - one of those Sunday School teaching aids

29.  Make-shift IV bottle hanger

30,  To hold up a broker muffler until you can get it replaced

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Charity Begins at Home

It's taken me a year to start to blog about my son being in prison.  I think they call that denial.  It's always on my mind, but I don't talk about it much.  There is an amount of shame that goes with it.  The loss of his company and ease of contact has been very difficult for me.  I have a hard time with the fact that most of the family doesn't seem to grieve his absence.  His behavior and treatment of others bred this.  He is not an innocent victim. 

What I have learned through this process, so far, is the meaning of true charity.  In our religion, we see the definition of charity as the "pure love of Christ."  Think about that.  To love as Christ loves.  I pair that definition with the old motto - "Charity begins at home."  I DON'T interpret that as meaning we have to GIVE to family first.   I take it to mean we should love as Christ loves, judge as Christ judges - and begin this practice within our own family first.  That doesn't always happen, does it?  We tend to treat (and judge) our family members harder and with less compassion than those outside our home.  Our defenses are down and it's easy to snap out a harsh judgement, a less-than-flattering comment, or be short tempered and selfish.  Our home is our training ground in so MANY areas.  Of course it would be the place to practice selfless love!

Have I always done that?  Do I do it every day now?  No.  Am I aware of the task before me, the challenge the Lord was placed in my development?  Absolutely.  The only TRUE success I have had so far is in seeing my son as a child of God rather than the accumulation of his actions, choices, and past history.  Through is experience, I can now see the child of God in each matter how despicable.  I KNOW how the Lord views each of us.  Despite all our choices, actions, and deaf ears.  That love has no bounds.  He loves Hitler as much as he loves Christ.  Chew on that one a while.  He LOVES each and every one of his children, no matter how they feel about Him.  Or if they recognize Him.  Of if they blaspheme His name. 

He doesn't approve of their actions.  He doesn't excuse their choices.  He mourns them.  He aches over the loss of their company in the eternities ahead.  He sees them for what they are - and LOVES them - and hopes, beyond hope, that they will change and come back to His way.  And I think His process goes way beyond what I can even conceive or communicate.  I know, in a small mother's way, the depth of His love and concern for those who do not walk  in His footsteps.  And it overwhelms me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Favorite Old Record!

I can't believe I found this song!  When I was in 4th grade, my mom taught me to dance with this record!  So fun to hear again!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Running the Gauntlet

This is what my September has felt like so far.

Challenge #1:  My Mom's health is declining.  She has Alzheimer's and is in an assisted living facility.  She is more confused, not wanting to eat and staying in bed most of the day.  She has been fighting nausea and diarrhea the past several weeks.  Her doctor feels she will benefit from going into hospice care.  He feels she is very frail and may not last more than six months.  I had to evaluate the information, talk to family members and make a decision.

Challenge #2:  Tom began having health issues.  There are now concerns with the condition of his heart.  He is on oxygen now.  We are doing tests to see exactly what is going on with his heart.  This is on-going.

Challenge #3:  I went for a bike ride and took a small fall.  Didn't brake or skin-up anything.  My right knee (which is the better one) took a HARD hit in the area below my kneecap.  It flat part of that knee (the area you kneel on) has been numb since the fall.  Totally no feeling on the surface.  I'm walking fine - I can weight-bear.  Mostly soft tissue damage, probably irritated the heck out of that bursa and it is healing slowly.

Challenge #4:  Came from dealing with Challenge #3.  After a week of my knee not getting better and being scared about having no feeling there, I went to the doctor.  (I have no insurance, so going to the doctor is a last resort situation.  Tom has VA  to help him, thank God!)  In taking my history, the doctor learned I hadn't had a mammogram for two years.  She told me about a program that offered free mammograms to those who met the criteria.  I met it.  I got one. 

I got a call the next morning that they had found a spot in my right breast and they wanted to take another mammogram to double check it.  Of course they called on a Friday and couldn't get me in until Monday.  WHY does bad news always come on a Friday??  And you have all weekend to stew and worry before you can actually DO anything about it??? 

It was a very LONG weekend - but by Saturday I had turned it over to the Lord.  I figured He already knew the outcome of the test.  He knew what was in store for me.  Me worrying wouldn't do anything to change the situation.  I decided to put myself in His hands (again) and through His strength I would be able to handle whatever the outcome would be.  It worked out wonderfully.  Turns out what they saw was a lymph node and it was perfectly normal.  Amazing how a scare like that puts everything into perspective...

All of that within the same two weeks! 

Walls Do Not a Prison Make

I spend last weekend visiting my son.  (Hadn't realized that I hadn't posted since my last visit with him.)  This visit went much better!  I still learned a lot of things, without the car problems.

I flew down alone and got a rental car.  I stayed in the town where the prison is located and got to have three eight-hour visits with him, over the weekend.

I can't tell how much these visits mean to me.  I don't get to go down as often as I would like, but know that the frequency would be much further apart if i were still living in Oregon.  Every other month is better than once a year.  I look forward to the visits, relish the time I have with him and then mourn the separation all over again.  Leaving is like loosing him all over again.

This time I got a clearer picture of his day-to-day existence.  It is so bleak, so boring, so limited.  He has been incarcerated over a year now.  He has seven more ahead of him.  I don't see how he copes.  the boredom factor.  The lack of privacy.  The deprivation.  The loneliness.  The isolation from family.  I have no illusions as to his innocence.  This is his restitution.  As his mother, this is hard to watch.

His only break is getting mail and having visits.  Those are his only touch with the outside world.  That is his only touch with family.  And it happens SO does he cope?  He almost never complains.  He promotes a positive attitude and works to feel close to the Lord.  he makes me laugh when I visit.  HOW does he do it??

I have less confinement and more freedom and feel oppressed.  I have more connection with people, and feel alone.  I have transportation and funds, but mostly sit in the house.  I have phones, computers and  test messaging but seldom reach out.  Do we make our own prisons? 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thy Will Be Done

I've been updating my son's blog for him  and it got me thinking. (His birthday is this weekend, so he is much on my mind.  This will be the second birthday that I haven't been able to see him.)  He was writing about our visit, just a couple weeks ago.  One of the things we talked about was adversity...go figure.  It seemed to be a good topic, considering.

We were saying how wonderful hindsight is.  It's always 20/20!  Looking back at a hard time, it's always easy to see the blessings and the good that came to you because of that particular experience.  It's easy to feel grateful then.  But what about DURING?  How do you feel during the hard times?  For me - I am not happy. 

Now, I have an unusual way of looking at trials.  I admit it. 

I actually CAN express gratitude during the dark times because I know (if I listen and trust the Lord), it will ALWAYS turn out better than it was before the trial.  I've been through enough of them - I DID learn that fact!  I will never say "why me" again.  I've whined enough in my younger years; I'm not doing that now!  I express faith in His wisdom and love.  AND I have been known to tell Him I don't see the purpose at this point, and I'm not enjoying the experience.  But I always end with "Thy will be done."  And I always end up on higher ground than when it all started.  Sometimes I am a little skinned-up and emotionally bruised, but they were lessons I needed to learn  - truly.  I am always grateful on the other side.

My son has been studying a series of tapes about learning to become spiritually centered.  He shared the idea that to be spiritually centered, one should be happy DURING the trial, as well as after.  We had a good opportunity to examine that idea. 

My husband and I had big car problems during our trip to visit my son.  The van was in the shop five days and the repair bill was in four figures.  It looked like, in the beginning, that I might not be able to make my visit with my son happen at all.  My son asked if I was happy during all the stress of the situation.

I told him no.  I told him that I had told the Lord that I trusted Him and that I knew there was a reason for this.  I didn't have a clue what that might be.  I told Him, "Thy will be done."  What I learned was that I didn't really mean it.  In my head, somewhere, I was thinking - "He knows how much I want to see my son.  He knows how much this visit means to my son.  He will make it possible for me to see him." 

The first day that didn't happen.  I believe that the Lord never closes one door without opening another one somewhere - and I was LOOKING for that other door!!  But it wasn't there.  We ran into road block after road block.  No - I wasn't happy.

I went to bed in tears.  I realized that I might NOT get to see Matt.  I remember that I had said "They will be done" in the morning.  I accepted and released.  I felt peace.  The next morning, the whole picture changed.  We were able to get a rental (don't even ask my about why we couldn't get one the day before!!) and I got to visit.

Matt knew all this when he asked if I had been happy in the process.  I realized the limit I had put on my accepting God's will.  Matt shared that the tapes talk about this very thing.  He said when a crisis arises - you should imagine the worse possible outcome.

For him, when I didn't show up on Saturday for our first visit; he knew that wasn't in my character.  I would never just not show up.  But he had no way of calling us, to make sure we were okay.  He knew we were driving a long way and there is always the possibility of an accident.  So - he imagined the worse possible outcome:  there was an accident and we had been killed.  Then he thought how that might be a blessing.  He remembered that Tom and I had been sealed.  He had been born under the covenant.  We were an eternal family.  Though he might miss me here on earth, he could have me forever.  With that reassurance, his worst fears dealt with, anything that developed after that, he was ready to handle.  So, I was late - but I was there.  His spiritual self helped him through a scary time.

So on my side - the worse possible scenario was not getting to see Matt.  I was not wiling to accept that possibility on Saturday.  I SAID I accepted His will - but REALLY it was only as long as it matched MY will.  I learned an important lesson.  To accept His will means to be at peace with even the worse eventuality.  To release and submit.  I have never been good at that.  Ask my husband!  But I going to get better.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Break Out the Sparkling Apple Cider!

Mark this day in your journals!  Today - for the first time in almost 12 months - MY STREET HAS BLACKTOP!  Asphalt, before my very eyes!

Now, we have not had to deal with the inconvenience that long.  We only moved in two month ago, and were told by the public works guy that it would be finished in two to three weeks.  The bugger lied.  For the past month, we haven't even been able to drive up to our driveway.  They had open trenches all the way down our block, that they never worked on. 

We had to park at the end of the block and walk in and out.  On trash day, everyone had to pull their trash cans to the end of the street and line them up.  Good exercise, admittedly, but a hassle when you are trying to buy groceries and get them in the house.  (I know...whine, whine, whine...)  (I'd give you cheese with that whine, but I'd have to carry it all the way down the street......oh wait...not any more!!!)

It's been another one of those "you don't appreciate what you have until you loose it" experiences.  Who knew what a blessing it was to be able to drive our fully-loaded van up into our garage and unload it at our leisure?  Another thing to add to my Grateful List!

Never Believe in Coincidences (Or "Doing Hard time" Part 2)

When I last posted we were in Arizona, on a Saturday night, and Sunday looked very bleak.  How symbolic, huh?  The Saturday before the Resurrection must have seemed very dark, indeed.  Well, we are safely back home...with our non-ailing car...and another testimony of the power of faith under our belts.

To continue the story:

I went to bed, after talking to my oldest daughter.  I shared my pity party with her.  I kept hanging onto the thought that I HAD said "Thy will be done." in my prayer about the car.  Turns out my heart wasn't really in it, it seems.  I would accept His will, but I wasn't HAPPY about it.  (That particular point is very important.)  Tom and I had thought of ONE more possibility of renting a car that night, but we couldn't do anything about it until morning.  I went to sleep with the feeling that things were going to work out.

I learned later that my daughter and her husband prayed VERY hard that night on our behalf.  I came to terms with the possibility that I might NOT get to see Matt.  If my one little hair-brained scheme didn't work, I would let it go.  But not until I had tried all options.  I felt I needed to think "outside the box."  The local agencies had plenty of customers for their limited supplies of vehicles.  They didn't need to work with me.  I considered that the renting rules might not be so strenuous at the airport car rentals.  They have plenty of cars.  So, I took a taxi to the airport as soon as their counters were opened and found a FABULOUS deal at a rental agency called Fox Car Rental.  Forty-five minutes later, I was DRIVING back to the motel in a Toyota Camry!!  Suddenly - everything was solved!  We had a car until ours would be finished.  I could see Matt half a day on Sunday and a full eight hours on Monday!  Tom could make his pilgrimage to Bass Pro Shop and Cabala's.  Hallelujah!!

I flippantly write that now.  It was MUCH more powerful at the moment.  I truly did feel like shouting Hosanna!  And I feel it was more than my faith that helped the situation.  I feel it happened because of the faith of my kids in praying on our behalf.  My faith that night was a little tattered.

The car continued to be a headache.  What had died in the van was it's car brain.  ECU (Engine Control Unit - read that "computer").  They ordered, received, and installed a new one.  Car still wouldn't run right.  It DID start now, but ran like a wheat thrasher.  (Never heard a wheat thrasher?  Count your lucky stars!)  They wanted to know if it had sounded like that before it broke down.  I assured them it had NEVER run badly.  They were running out of options and were of the option that it was an "internal engine problem."  Really?  They said we should tow it to the dealers - after we paid them $1200.  The car is only worth about $1500-$2000 to begin with!

We had NO idea when or if the car was going to be fixed.  We were tired and just wanted to go home.  We decided that we would rather RENT a car, go home and wait for news at our own house.  We called the repair place Wednesday morning and told them to "button it up" and we would be sending a tow truck to take it to the dealership. The manager asked if we would give him one more hour.  He wanted to put two guys on it and have them go over everything one more time to see if they had missed anything.  After five days, what difference did one more hour make?  We agreed, knowing that one way or another, we would be sleeping in our own beds that night.

About an hour later, the manager called.  Our car was perfect.  We could come pick it up.  (You've GOT to be kidding!????!)  He wasn't.  Seemed they missed checking ( or whatever) the coil.  The coil had a dead spot in it and it was what shorted-out the old computer.  They replaced the coil - and ANOTHER  "Hallelujah" moment!!  Life was beautiful!  The sun came out (Boy, Howdy!  We were in Tempe!!  It is out with a vengeance!)  And we hit the road!

I WILL go visit Matt again.  But hell will have to freeze over before I DRIVE to the greater Phoenix area again!  I shall fly  - and rent a car.  A lovely, air conditioned, late-model, RENTED car.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Doing "Hard Time" in a Motel 6

There's an old quote:  "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."  Sometimes I think it was quoted for me.

I ALWAYS have the best of intentions...and nine times out of ten they don't turn out the way I thought they would.  I think it is my inattention to details, glossing over with my enthusiasm, and never taking the limits of time and energy into consideration.  I want to please everyone - which only brings conflict because it is impossible.  Who am I to take "impossible" for the last word???  There HAS to be a way around that....

Such is the story of my weekend. 

Almost year ago my son was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Probably only a handful of people know.  Such is the shame level that comes from having someone you love screw up in a huge way.  I've worked through whatever that was. I have never believed in "family secrets."  They breed shame and low self-confidence.  Yet, I succumbed.  It's taken me a year to "come out of the closet."

I don't know what I thought was going to happen.  Maybe people wouldn't notice that he is no longer in our family get-togethers?  Maybe people wouldn't notice he was gone?  Maybe they wouldn't notice the sad look in my eyes, at times, when I spoke of him?  Now I find I can't share the happiest of getting to see him on the limited opportunities I have.  People don't understand the importance of getting a letter from him.  They probably wonder why we don't phone and text like the rest of the world.  Letter-writing is becoming a lost art.

His prison is in a different state from where I live, so face-to-face visits, though possible, don't happen often.  He has been in almost a year and I have only gotten to visit him twice.  Once in February, and the next time was to be this weekend.  He set up a special visit for me, since I DO live out of state; and we were have three consecutive days to see each other.  It didn't turn out QUITE that way.

We arrived safely on Friday, after an eight hour drive, at our motel and settled in for the night.  Early Saturday morning, we got ready to run the errands we needed to before making the trip to the prison.  Surprise!  During the night our van had given up the ghost.  Will not start.  No how.  No way. 

What to do?  What to do? 

My analytical mind snaps into action.  "We'll get a rental car - and life will go on..."  We get a tow truck.  Get the van fixed.  Carefully going down all the logical steps to getting the problem solved and us back on the road.  Right?  Wrong.

Van may not be resurrect-able.  Due to our successful accomplishment of passing the Utah written driver's license test, we are now the proud holders of a TEMPORARY Utah DL.  The rental car companies were not so impressed by our accomplishments.  They don't rent cars to mere "Temporary" drivers license holders.  You must have the actual CARD in your hand - which, by the way, WILL be delivered by mail in about two weeks.  Yippee-I-Ki-Yay!  We followed every lead, reasonable and non, and still found ourselves car- less, stuck in our Motel 6 room.

Now the problem with prisons is that they don't have voicemail for each inmate.  They don't take messages.  My son knew nothing of our frustrations.  I had no way of letting him know WHY I wasn't there for our visit.  He only knew he had set up a visit for me on Saturday and that I did not show up.  He knows I had a long drive.  He doesn't know if there was an accident.  He doesn't know if I changed my mind?  He doesn't know and has no way to check things out.  I felt so bad that he was looking for a visitor and no one was there for him.

Saturday ends with us knowing our car will be visiting with the mechanics at least another 24 hours.  We have no transportation.   We know no one in town.  We don't know what this is all going to cost! I know it is God's hand.  I have to believe it is going to work out - somehow.  (to be continued)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Geocaching and Pigs

Ever since getting my "smart" phone, I have become addicted to geocaching!  I found my first cache in Tempe with my middle daughter.

Since then, I have shared the experience with the rest of my daughters.  Then I infected my grandkids...and it continues to spread.  This was Faith's first find, but all shared the bounty.

And Cayden's first, again sharing.

I have found a variety of caches and had some great fun, but now I'm excited to create some of my own.  Having seen some different ideas and hiding techniques, I have some ideas of what I want to place in my new home.  Most of mine, to this point, have been urban hides.  My new town seems to focus on the off-road variety.  Of course, with the scenery around here, I know why.

Placing a cache, for the most part, is a way of sharing something or some place special to the one who creates it.  There can be themes, or a series created.  What I have enjoyed the most is the stories of these anonymous people who take me to a location, or a view point that I never would have known about without finding their cache.  It is a good way to discover the  hidden or historical places of interest in an area.

I personally like the ones that have room enough for treasures, called S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get).  They are my grandkids favorites too.  SWAG can be whatever you have - marbles, toy cars, little toys, deck of cards, coins, plastic animals, erasers - you get the idea.    When you locate one, you may EXCHANGE treasures.  Try to make them of equal or better value. 

What goes into it is determined by the size of the cache container.  There is always a log book that you sign to prove you found it.  If there is room (some are QUITE small), there will be a pencil - and whatever "trades" you want to include. 

I have found some VERY creative containers in my hunting, which is what brought me to this stage of my "hobby."  I decided, after seeing it done by someone else, that I am going to put out one cache for each of my ten grandkids.  It will be named after them, or something that they like.  I'm starting with my oldest granddaughters (who will be visiting me next month).  I will have the containers ready and, together, we will place them and publish them for other geocachers to locate.

One granddaughter, Faith, loves LOVES pigs!  She claims the nickname of "Pig."  I know not why...She collects pigs.  She draws pigs.  She makes up pig words.  (Source for another WHOLE posting)  So, of course, she wants her cache to have a pig theme.  It's name will be "Pigs of Faith."  Of course.

W--E--L--L......Today I found the perfect container! 

The pig of Faith.
It is a hard plastic pig made by Radio Shack, as a dieting aide.  You put a battery in it, stick it into your refrigerator, and every time you open the door, it OINKS!  LOL!  Well - it won't be oinking long!  I am going to morph it into a hollowed out container and this little porker will go down in geocaching history. 

Oh - and the lady at the consignment shop, where I found it?  I got her too!  She's looking up geocaching tonight.  They called the woman who was an unknowing carrier of typhoid fever "Typhoid Mary."  What would they call someone who spreads a "disease" knowingly???

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Textures of the Desert

Tumbleweeds in the spring.

Dried Foxtails

I don't know its name, but they are in lots of yards, including ours.

Same with this one.  The bees and I love it.

Picking Assignment

Yesterday at church they mentioned an apricot picking assignment for this morning at 6AM.  I was so excited!  I have never lived where they had a church farm.  I have volunteered for the church canneries before, but to be part of getting those fruits to the canneries is just COOL!

I arrived a little after six o'clock and the parking area along the road was already packed!  There were tons of people, whole families, seniors, everybody.  A VERY fun elderly man, an amputee, was directing cars to open parking areas with a big smile.  Told me everyone calls him "Grandpa Rick."  I immediately adopted him.

They had picking baskets that you attached to a shoulder harness, so that your hands could be free.  There were ladders available for the younger folks.  Instructions were given as to what kind of fruit we were picking and what a ripe one looked like, and off I walked. 

This was the first picking, so there were many still not ripe.  We get to go back Wednesday, 6AM.

There were trailers in every other row. 

When our baskets were full, we emptied them in the trailer and went back for more.

As the ripe ones started disappearing, it became like an Easter egg hunt!  Trying to find the elusive ready-to-pick fruit!

When the hunt was over, our foreman "fired" us and we went home.

It went too quickly.  I can't wait for Wednesday!  I would love to start each day like this!

So incredibly beautiful....

So Utah...
if you look closely at the picture, you will see TWO LDS chapels....across the street from each other!  Gotta love it!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Living in Utah

Here I am - an Utah Mormon. How did THIS happen??
Let's see...we've been here a little over a month and there's absolutely nothing here that I hate! Instead, it seems that every morning I wake up happy - and it STAYS that way! What kind of a place have I moved too???
The perfect place - for us!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I can officially declare spring has arrived! I wait for four signs every year. First comes the daffodils! I love seeing them pop out of the ground and wait anxiously for the blooms

The next arrival I look for are the robins. We live in an area where they migrate away and I look forward to their return.

Today I saw my first chipmunk!! Sign number three! They have come out of hibernation

And sure sign number four - I heard tree frogs last night when I took the dogs out! I forget I haven't heard them until they come back. It's a subtle night music that I'm glad is back.