Sunday, January 31, 2010

Status Report

Here is an updated status report:

Monday, I have two weeks to finish my CS course. If I do nothing but CS until now and the 7th, I just might make it.

Tuesday, Grandma dies. I find out I am giving the Eulogy, hiring the bagpiper, calling family, and a bunch of other stuff. Fall asleep around 2 AM after writing the Obit.

Wednesday, working from home while madly working on Funeral preparations, calling people, trying to get the obit posted. Get a hotel for the night before the funeral. Fall asleep around 2 AM after finishing my reading for one of my CS assignments.

Thursday, dragged myself in to work, fielded a few phone calls during the day, including my 2nd cousin who wanted to talk for a long time. Also, played phone-tag/texty to try to help my sis make arrangements to come to town. Picked up a leg of lamb and fruit for Sunday dinner. Finally got a response from school that they would extend my extension to finish my class. Sigh of relief. Fell asleep around 2 AM after working on the Eulogy.

Friday, peeled myself out of bed, arrived at work around 9 (usually 7:30, folks), and actually managed to make progress on the Marketing Analysis document with which I have been tasked, and leave around 4. It's getting cloudy now. Don't quite recall what I did after that... Oh! Right! Hired the bagpiper, cleaned the house, and ... nope. sorry, still cloudy. I think I got to bed around midnight.

Saturday, mixed up the most spectacular Leg o'lamb marinade, had a brain overload when C asked me if I knew where the truck registration renewal card was located, and looked at my seriously disaster area office and had to walk away. He left to register the truck, and I proceeded to clean the office, find the renewal card and many other useful items while Kawi tore up the paper box covers on my CDs. C came home, I scraped together canned soup and pears for lunch, to which C replied, "I didn't know I was eating clam chowder for lunch." He handled my ensuing meltdown REASONABLY well (really, dear, it wasn't you), after which I completed my Sunday School lesson, and C took me out for dinner. We stopped by the store for milk, and upon arriving home, he mopped the floor and did extra deep cleaning while I made the bed for my sis and managed to clean the guest bathroom about thirty seconds before the doorbell rang. I tossed a "comfy" casual C some pants as I walked down the stairs, and paused just long enough for him to look normal when I opened the door and welcomed in my wonderful sis! We chatted until about 11:30 and I fell asleep shortly thereafter.

Sunday, woke up, set out the rolls to thaw and made puffy pancakes and turkey bacon, made preparations for dinner (sliced up fruit and veggies, grated Gruyere), chatted with my sis until 10:23 AM when I realized that if I didn't start the lamb now, I was out of luck. Roasted the lamb, got ready for Church, cooled and chilled the lamb, arrived at church on time, taught a great lesson, raced home after church and threw the dinner rolls (luckily I made, rolled, and froze the rolls the previous Sunday) in the oven, warmed the lamb, cooked the corn, tossed together the fruit salad (kiwi, sliced grapes and sliced strawberries) and green salad (turkey bacon, red peppers, Le Gruyere cheese, soybeans and romaine), and whipped together an impromptu sauce for the lamb. Dinner was ready within minutes of C and the President and Sister N arriving home. Everything went very well, and C whipped up a batch of perfection coconut oatmeal cookies for dessert AND cleaned up dinner AND did the dishes while I chatted. It was so wonderful to have them over! We showed them to the freeway, and I realized we weren't going to make it to the hotel on time. After some language barrier-busting, I managed to cancel the room without being charged, and we will drive through lots of snow tomorrow morning, hopefully arriving in time for the funeral. Ta-da!

I didn't want to bore you with all of the details, but you get the idea. Okay, now I just need to go finish the Eulogy (if I can stay awake...)

So, how was your week?

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Hired the Bagpiper Today

I came home from work today and pulled out the vinegar and olive oil, along with the Ezekiel bread. After eating a couple slices, I felt like I had just taken a wonder drug. I have stayed up every night past two and have not had time to exercise, so this was my indulgent comfort food moment. I think I just might get to sleep tonight.

I hired the bagpiper today, the one who will play for my grandma. It was what she wanted. She told three of us, but failed to mention it to the one paying for most of the funeral, so out of respect for the Grams, I gotcha covered on this one.

On a random comment, iPad? Really? Didn't anyone have the courage to say, "Steve, this is not such a good idea. You realize that SNL writers skulk around like vultures searching for fodder worthy of horrible, tacky skits, right? Surely you realize that there will be some stigma around the name that will prevent people from even wanting to get their hands on one of these. And isn't it just a matter of time before another Shrek movie comes out with a giant gingerbread man attempting to use the iPad as an iPhone? Sorry guys. I LOVE the iPhone, but I do not have one ounce of interest in the iPad. I smell an Edsel hitting the market. +1 for the bad idea that managed to worm its way clear through an entire, successful organization without resistance and poke its hideous face out into plain view of the world just because the boss said so. Tisk, tisk. Who needs a huge iPhone that isn't a phone, and isn't a functional computer either?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's Raining Turtles and Porcupines

As if death and tragedy isn't enough, and as if my class ending in 1 1/2 weeks isn't enough, C took a tumble this morning. Did you ever see the Sesame Street clip where the chef presents a large number of some pastry or dessert, and then tumbles and falls into a pile of sugary mess?

This morning as we were getting ready to head out the door, I was putting the sheets from the downstairs guest bedroom in the washer for my sister's visit. I could hear Kawi and C exchanging "Goodbye Buddy's," and suddenly there was a loud crash and a groan from C. I raced up to find C lying at the bottom of the first landing, with All Bran, milk, a plastic (thank goodness) bowl, and his lunch scattered across the landing. I asked if he was okay, which more than anything, I think he was shocked. I told him not to get up, considering his face looked a little guacamole-ish, and proceeded to clean up the mess.

He had a pretty good goose egg on the back of his head, and while I was very concerned about him, I must admit he was unusually, but pleasantly chatty today. I think he talked the entire way into work, AND the entire way back! We have to hit him in the head more often!

On the way home we stopped at Costco for a leg of lamb. Here is the trick, see: Church lasts three hours. I am teaching a lesson on Adam and Eve and the fall second hour, then we invited my mission president to teach during the third hour of church, after which we invited them over for dinner. President's favorite dish is leg of lamb. We invited them prior to my grandmother's death, and considering that they live some distance away, we didn't want to uninvite them to dinner. How do you make a perfect rare leg of lamb if you are in church for three hours, and eating immediately afterward?
{Sigh.} Well, I'll figure something out. After dinner we will depart for the town where the funeral will be held and spend the night in a hotel with my sis. The next morning we will attend the funeral and somewhere between now and then I will find the time to prepare the Eulogy (you know, the sum-up-a-life-in-ten-minutes talk. That's about one minute per decade she was alive!
A note on obituaries, they are EXPENSIVE! I somehow wound up writing an obituary and let me tell you: if you want a nice long epitaph, save your pennies now, because it was going to be $75/day just for the photograph! Eeek! That didn't include the set up fee, nor any of the text! I am going to take a nap now, and then I am ready to program like mad.
I hope your week is going well, but if not, don't forget your brass umbrellas!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Goodbye, Reva

I know, I had this really great entry planned for today, but my grandma died today. I have never gotten so emotional at work that I have walked out of a meeting, but today I did. I took the stairwell up to the 9th floor and found a big, empty room. There I tried to collect myself in private. I am not a public crier. I spent the rest of the day just trying to hold back tears, and was pretty successful minus the meeting where my manager asked me what was wrong.

I got home and a friend stopped by to visit. I noticed my Dad trying to call. I immediately knew. Grandma was dead. I knew. I called my dad. "You know grandma is dead. I mean, you know, don't you?" He asked. I did. She died at almost the same moment I started crying at work. "I think I am going to go have a good cry now." He said. He was her baby boy.

The family asked me to give the Eulogy. I called my manager, who was very kind, and told me to take the time I needed. I called my brother. He will try to make it. I called my sister. She lives far away, but wants to come. She needs to come. I spoke with Grandma on Sunday. That day she told me to tell my sister and her family how much she loved them. I think she knew she wouldn't get a chance to say it in person, but wanted her to know.

My parents are divorced, and yet I know my mom will do everything she can to be there. She loved my grandma.

I wrote part of Grandma's history years ago, so tonight I opened the letters she wrote, and the details about her life, and breathed life back into her for a moment. Her spirit lives on, but for now, Goodbye Reva. Goodbye Grandma.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Parable of the Ice Cream Bar

At age 15 I started working at an ice cream store with my best friend. It was the most fun I'd ever had. Occasionally when scooping ice cream out of a bucket, the scoop fell down into the bottom of the freezer and there turned hard as stone. When it was slow, we would dig out a hardened scoop and shoot baskets with it into an old bucket.

Working with your best friend isn't like work at all. Our manager told us we could eat all of the ice cream we wanted, except for the pre-measured containers in the front freezer box and the ice cream bars. There was plenty of good icecream, so we didn't feel too deprived. I ate plenty of chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream every night.

One evening, when my best friend was not working, a fellow employee pulled out an ice cream bar and started eating it. When I told her I didn't think we were supposed to eat them, she said, "Sure we can. Here, try one!" I hesitated as much as a 15 year old would in that situation, and over the next few months ate 3 or 4 more icecream bars, each time feeling a little uncomfortable.

I didn't work there long after my friend moved on to work at a rootbeer stand, and I moved on to work a whole week at a doughnut shop until I watched the owner frying the doughnuts over the vat of boiling oil with a half-ash cigar hanging from his lips. I never could buy doughnuts at that store again.

Years flipped by, and every time I thought back on that job, all of that fun I had was tainted by my dishonesty. I had been given so much, and yet I still stole the one thing I was asked not to eat. I moved away for several years, but when I moved in proximity to this store years later, I visited it to try to find the previous owner and pay him back for those ice cream bars, plus interest. Unfortunately, I only knew his first name.

Once again, I moved away, but anytime I passed near that store, I thought of the need to repay the owner. A few months ago I got serious and contacted the county to locate any existing business records that could help me find the last name of the owner. I am pretty skilled at finding people if I know a name, but that is another blog post.

It took some time to locate the agency that housed the records I needed. As luck would have it, the records they had on file started just after the time period I needed. The clerk mentioned that the company was sold a couple of years after I had worked there. I asked her to give me the name of the second owner, hoping he could tell me the name of the previous owner. I then used my supersonic power-twins ring to find the second owner. He now owned a window washing business, and from the sounds of it, was not faring too well. He, too, did not remember the name of the previous owner.

Cut to five or six months later. I am sitting at work, and the name of the second owner keeps coming to mind. Brain says to me, "Maybe you should pay him the money." Heart wants so badly to find the original owner, but finally agrees. Brain says, "His name was Dennis X." Fingers pull up the phone number and address of the window washing company, and then jot the info down on a piece of paper.

Today on the way home, I parked across from the business address, but the window washing business was not there. I called and asked if his business was still at that address, but he sounded concerned and asked why I wanted to know. Flustered, I hung up. I took a deep breath and called back.

Me: You used to own X icecream store.

Dennis: Yes, how do you know that?

Me: The county records. When I was 15, ...."

I proceeded to tell him the story, and that because I could not locate the original owner, I would like to pay him the money. After telling me how poorly he had fared owning that store, he thanked me for calling. I told him I wanted to bring him the money, but he refused. "Don't worry about it." He said.

I insisted, and then he said the words that burned like fire through my heart, "You are forgiven." I couldn't speak for a moment. I caught my breath, and then with a trembling voice thanked him. For the next hour those words echoed in my mind and each time, I started to cry. I never knew that an ice cream bar could weigh so much. I was forgiven.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Evolution of a Song, Part I

When I was a baby, my mom used to put my playpin next to the stereo and play classical music. I loved music. I still do. I remember that old radio with a turn-table and wooden box speakers. It was on that same turn table that we listened to The Wiz, the Muppets, and the storybook version of The Rescuers. My mom received one of those offers from Columbia for so many records for a penny, and gave us each the sheet of stickers to choose one album. I was maybe 5 if that. I picked Crystal Gayle because she had long pretty hair that almost touched the ground. My brother picked a trumpeter named Barry M-something. My sister picked John Denver. I am pretty sure my mom picked Camelot because I remember a song that I would march around to on my stick horse - er, maybe that was the Fantasticks. We listened to a lot of showtunes and broadway musicals. (You can listen too, just click on the links!)

When I was seven years old, we lived in an old farmhouse in the country. My mom taught a primary class and one night she pulled a square record out of the back of the primary book that looked something like this. She put it on my sister's Fisher Price record player while she sat on the floor. The song on the record made me want to march, and I was drawn out of my room as if by the pied piper's flute. Around age 8 or 9, I received as a gift an RCA cassette player, not unlike this one. I had two cassette tapes: Sing, and the Ghostbusters soundtrack.

I later located some of my father's cassette tapes, and quickly adopted his various music interests, including Lovin' Spoonful, The Who, Abba, and Best of Bread. I also stumbled upon Pink Floyd and suddenly I understood why my dad kept saying, "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat!". Somewhere in there I picked up a Yes cassette as well.

At age 11 or 12 I acquired a boom box. This was a big deal. It had a cassette player AND a radio! I fell in love with New Wave music. In case you didn't know, this would include A-ha, Tears for Fears, Dream Academy, and this crazy little one-hit song by Baltimora. I didn't know until many years later why one is all we got from him. AIDs was, well, still an unknown, and homosexuality was this weird thing that people talked about, but never something I believed was real.

80s music was the ultimate. It was like a musical feast with Men at Work, The Police, Thompson Twins, Toto, and a few years later New Order, Petshop Boys, Flock of Seagulls, and Erasure. Around this time we moved in next to a family with boys who wore their bangs long, and frequently swept them to one side while talking like surfers. They wore baggy Bugle Boy pants and broad stripe rugby shirts or t-shirts while riding skateboards until they could drive. They were the epitome of "cool." This was also the beginning of the Swatch era (and yes, I did own one). I guess if I had to be stuck in a decade, the 80s would be on my short list. So much fabulous technology came after the 80s that is hard to claim it as my top choice...

So sorry, we were discussing music, now weren't we? By my 14th or 15th birthday, I had received a new piece of musical technology: a stereo with a turn table, dual cassette players, AND a radio! Remember those boom boxes? I was dissecting those (out of sight at a neighbors house) and soldering the parts into other items. What good is electronic equipment if you can't figure out how it works? Terence Trent D'arby joined the music scene (let's just say that the only songs I heard were radio approved). The Moody Blues and Chicago also came to my attention, and I started to appreciate Peter Gabriel's music, although it wasn't until many years later that I started to realize how questionable many of the lyrics were.

That turntable stereo took me through the next several years. It took me through favorites including Falco, Phil Collins, and Billy Joel to select a few. At age 15 I posted several pictures on my wall and became an avid fan, and even concert attendee of the band Midnight Oil. The activist messages stirred something in this kid's heart, I guess.

I had a pretty open mind in the music world at this time, so when New Age music started on the scene, I sopped that up, too. If you don't know what New Age music is, let me give you an example, rather than attempting to take you through the lengthy list of possibilities. It was sort of that moment when Musicians started to reach back to their Irish, Native American, and Mother Earth roots all at once. I did fancy one magical group that I heard while strolling through a California wine and cheese festival with my family. My sister and I both purchased cassettes and listened to them often. Years later I found the company again and purchased music from the Elfin Music Company.

Well, that sums up part one of this journey. You'll know better when you see this title again. And what, may I ask, was your musical evolution?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bbbring, bbbring!

On Sunday I received a new calling. A calling is a job at church that you do as a volunteer. I really loved teaching the six year olds, but was VERY excited for this new job. I was asked to teach the adults the Old Testament and I was delighted! To make things that much better, my replacement teacher for the six year olds is so amazing! I know those little ones will be in good hands.

So here is a question for you: What about the Old Testament is difficult for you?
A. The stories seem so incredible, it is hard to believe.
B. The language is confusing. Why did they write like that?
C. It's R-rated, lots of people die and stuff.
D. Giants, unicorns, talking donkeys, and parting a sea? C'mon.

Well, once upon a time, I taught the scriptures. I know, actress, optometrist, pro tile-setter, computer programmer, seminary teacher? Seems almost as incredible as the O.T.! At any rate, I had the chance to teach other books of scripture, but never the O.T., and I love the O.T.! (Yes, even Isaiah. Maybe that is because he was a poet, and I am too.) I love making it easy for people to understand.

On an academic note, I finished my Computer Systems class on Friday night when I took my final exam. I can't say I am disappointed to set aside machine language (0's and 1's) and move forward with C++ programming. Machine language is one of those torturous things that old programmers decided every programmer needed to suffer through to be a REAL programmer, so there. I did it, I will probably NEVER use it again, but at least I can say, "Been there, done that." I can officially "speak" to a computer in its own language without a translator. Yippee.

On a political note, how about that Karzai? The US Government is just beaming with trust for that fella, wouldn't you say? {sigh} So much for the corrupt ballot. I can't imagine living in a country ruled with fear. Americans have it so good, and yet we gripe and complain and then fail to vote. Don't get me started on the over privileged, mentally siloed, and self-centric. We just don't realize how good we have it. Don't you just wish you could do something to help the Afghans? I do. Speaking of doing something, how wonderful that Mrs. Obama prepared an announcement on how to donate to Haiti fund via text message? Wasn't that just cool?

Now for a follow-up on the Budget. We have experienced some growing pains. I am rarely surprised by anything, but when I added up how much we spent on food between January 1-18, I gasped in shock. Well, that is the purpose of a budget, after all, to discover the leaks, and fill them! I guess this limits how many bottles of Bistro vinegar I can purchase now. We actually had a little moment yesterday where we were determining who was the big spender in the family. If there were more than two of us, it would make this conversation much easier.

Considering that the allotted funds for food was on the extreme end of spent, I was reasonably motivated this morning to get up a little earlier and put together some chicken wraps with swiss for lunch, not to mention the need to shave some poundage by eating a specified number of calories as well. I proudly pledge my allegiance to celery with raw peanut butter, and Wasa Crackers with Laughing Cow cheese in lieu of heftier snacks. I also took time to walk the stairs and stroll around during breaks between meetings. I dodged several bullets today, including Red Vines, Dove dark chocolate hearts, bagels with honey almond cream cheese, Snickers bars, and Jelly Life Savers. Well, speaking of fitness, I am off to exercise. I have conquered food today, and now to conquer my comfy bed's attempts to turn my body into a gelatinous mass for the evening.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Every Dollar Has It's Day...

I had good reason to hit the snooze so many times this morning. Last night, after many previous attempts, we finally did it! It is a monumental achievement. Every dollar has a name. Every purchase is under the watchful eye of THE BUDGET!!! Let me try that again. THE BUDGET!!!!!!!

Truly, it only took ten years to get around to it, during which time we have made some fairly sound decisions about money, but hammer down, baby! We are taking it to the next level. Once upon a time C was a director over a program that ran under the governmental financial policy: This is how much you get, and unless you use it all, you won't get this much next year. Last year an opportunity opened up for a possible change. He flirted with it, but not seriously, and lo and behold, he came out as the prime candidate to take over a different program, also as the director, but with financial goals and limitations for which he would be held responsible.

We do not make decisions based on financial gain. I personally believe there is a part of your soul that dies when you disregard all aspects of a decision and sell out for a sum of money. It's like stating that you have a price, and are for sale to the highest bidder. At any rate, after weighing the fact that C would be able to learn some important new skills and would have a great impact on the new program, he took the job.

Last night, I watched with admiration as he used these newfound skills to flip through the numbers I'd gathered from our finances (which have been entirely in my care for many years), and after tearing our hearts and livers out and stomping on them a few times, we produced a lovely budget. Having completely annihilated all consumer debt some time ago, and destroying all portals to consumer credit, we are ready to sign up for the no payments plan. No house payments, no anything payments.

I won't mention the part where we were up until 1:00 in the morning doing this, nor will I mention the part where we got grumpy at each other because I forgot to get the phone number from the tree pruners to tell them NOT to come yet, and because C was not interested in hearing my expert knowledge on how to properly define a food budget, but then I woke up this morning and saw this:

Did you know that dry erase markers are a celestial form of communication? Truly, they are, especially when left on the mirror with the words "I love you!" The "You be beautiful!" were pretty darn close as well.

Nigh and Nether Story Problem

I have two offices I work from. The nigh office is 15 minutes from home, while the nether office is...X minutes from home. The variable X depends upon many factors.

A. If it is snowy or the roads are icy, add 15-45 minutes.

B. If a fellow driver is negligent or a vehicle fails to operate within the scope of its assigned parameters, add 15-60 minutes.

C. If you leave home by 7:00 AM or later, add 15-20 minutes.

If you leave home by 6:30, typically X = 44 minutes. On the return trip, if you leave between 4-4:20, then X = 45-55 minutes, except with factors A and B, with similar results. Factor D (heretofore not mentioned) includes holidays and Fridays, in which case, you must leave no later than 3:30 in order to maintain the lowest value of X.

Needless to say, I prefer the nigh office. Today I worked from the nigh office. This means I wake with my alarm, and hit snooze about 10-15 times and finally crawl out of bed at 7:30ish, throw on some clothes and walk out the door fifteen minutes later. It's almost like a vacation! Is it apparent that I have been programming like crazy for the past few weeks? What's that? You say it is running over into my writing? That's possible, I suppose...

Friday, January 8, 2010


I know I have mentioned that C is a Superhero. Maybe you didn't believe me. See, here is proof:
    • He brought me home chicken noodle soup when I couldn't eat anything

    • On the day I thought I was well enough to go in to work, he dropped me off, and then turned around two hours later and took me back home

    • When I stayed home, he checked in on me every few hours with a call or text
    • He was patient with me as I got up several times in the night and didn't complain that I kept waking him up

    • He rubbed my back on Weds because I wasn't well enough to go to Yoga.

    • While home sick this week, he surprised me with flowers and a nice card, just because, and told me I'd never let him down.

    • He helped with the dishes and didn't complain that I have hardly cooked anything for dinner all week.
Surely, now you believe me. What? You doubt still? Okay, then: He didn't say a word when I woke him at midnight to tell him I needed to go suprise a friend for her birthday!

Visions of police lights danced in my head as I drove through the neighborhood with my headlights dead; sneaked onto the porch where the candle won't light, thinking for sure the noise will cause a fright! Positioned the goodies, and ding-ding-ding thrice, then drove off in the night through the still and the ice. One last drive-by with my headlights blacked out, and the presents were gone, without any doubt. Then back to my sweetheart I drove through the night, Happy Birthday, dear friend, may you sleep better tonight.

This morning I received a text. In part it read:
Don'cha know I'm an OLD lady! You bout gave me heart failure!!!

Needless to say, I think she'll remember this birthday. Last night I couldn't sleep, so hid out in the spare bedroom to let C sleep while I looked through every photo of us stored on two of my external hard drives. I watched a video of us at Mesa Verda where we handed off the camera each other while climbing through this very narrow tunnel, and then a video where he pretended to drive his motorcycle in the kitchen while listening to some riding music I composed for him. I thought I'd share a photo of him popping a wheelie on a Ducati. He is fun and crazy, kind, and dependable, and doggonit! People like him! (SNL plug). Shhh. Don't tell, but it's true. I married a real, live superhero!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Your votes are needed!

I've considered re-naming this blog for a LONG time. I didn't even pull out the creative water pistols at the time I made this blog. It was just a half-hearted attempt to join the ranks of social media incognito, and in my infancy, I opted for the ampersand and our initials as a title. Creative, no?

After toying with a variety of words that demonstrate anonymity, such as incog, arcane, or recondite, I finally came up with something that says what I really want to say. For those who do not dabble in computer arts, allow me to elaborate.

Recursion is when something calls or defines itself. You might have experienced recursion by looking into one mirror with another mirror at your back; the image goes on and on. You may have also experienced recursion if you have been on a video or audio conference, and the microphone on the other end pics up your voice and bounces it back so that your speaker picks it up, bouncing it back to the speaker on the other end, and the audio (or video) bounces back and forth endlessly.

I was thinking about C and me, and we really define each other; where one ends, the other begins, and somewhere in between, something great happens. For 2010, we made a commitment to make our marriage EVEN BETTER, so here's to a new decade, and a new beginning in many ways.

Here are a few possible recursion titles, please cast your vote below or offer a suggestion:
A. Recursively Speaking (or Speaking Recursively)
B. C&A, Recursively
C. Recursive Enlightenment
D. (Recursion is a big word. Nobody will get it.)

And on the lighter side, here are a few other options:
E. Insanely Arcane
F. Kawi's Peeps
G. Incog-Neat-O!
H. In Spite of Recondite
I. (Recon-What?)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twoo Wuv

Have you ever learned how to read a love poem in another language? Somehow, when those words are arranged in a different way, it makes a world of difference.

I love to see successful love. Not the obsessive, strange, or lustful kind, but the enduring, sacrificing, pure kind. Our love story isn't perfect, but it is perfect for me. What defines a successful love? When selfishness and pride are not at the center of the relationship, where intimacy is a sacred ground that is never used to manipulate, objectify, or subjugate, but rather to find peace, joy, and unity. Success is the place where both participants attempt to improve and fortify, rather than excuse and justify, and where arguments and disagreements are the internal catalyst for change, pulling together, and reaching for a higher level, rather than fodder for conversation with family and friends.

Successful love is looking for the best when the best is hard to find, being content with what is going right rather than always looking at what is going wrong. It is loving unconditionally. It's about ending a heated conversation with laughter, rather than tears, because you know that even though what was said was stupid or hurtful, that person really loves you and finds no pleasure in hurting you. It is the moment when you forgive quickly because you realize you were forgiven of that same stupid thing last week and he forgave you without a second thought. It is feeling excited to hear that voice, or see that smile, year after year, decade after decade. It is knowing that when age melts away all of the frosting, you will find that your hearts have been welded together.

Love is learning another language, and letting your heart hear words that you otherwise might not understand. It is recognizing that the person who has spent years living with you just might have some suggestions for improvement. It is welcoming honest communication, so that the truth has no need to hide behind fear.

Successful love is fortifying your marriage when someone attempts to tear it down, and knowing that your hearts are ever changing and growing. It is knowing that you can never let love grow stagnant, because those are the times when hearts wander, searching for something better when the very best is right here. It's looking back over the years and realizing that it just keeps getting better and better.

Successful love is realizing that this is the person who makes up those pieces in you that are missing. Even after many years, you realize that this isn't really the person you married, but instead this is someone who has exceeded your greatest hopes and dreams. This is your eternity.

Thank you, C, for being all I ever hoped and more than I could have ever dreamed!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Old New Friends

Sometimes the best new friends are old friendships, rediscovered.

Disclaimer: Sigh. I added this "Read more" template, but psych. This is just a really short post. I need to fiddle with it, but not at the moment. . .

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Ringing" in the New Year

As a teacher of the 6-7 year olds at Church, I had to hunt down some little rings yesterday. I read my lesson a week ahead of time, but somewhere between Christmas and the New Year, I forgot to purchase the rings. After hunting high and low, and driving a county away, I finally found the rings for my new little class!

This little ring is used to teach children to make good choices. The letters stand for Choose The Right. I guess it is an early introduction to learning the value of integrity, or the ability to make right choices even if nobody else is around. We ALL make dumb choices, but it's fun to hear stories from children who look at their rings and are reminded to choose the right in difficult situations.

We don't believe little children can sin, and because they can't sin, they can't repent. While we encourage and teach them to make good choices at a young age, little children shouldn't feel guilty for things they do wrong, because guilt is an emotion meant to move you toward repentance. Once they are accountable for their actions, then they will learn how to repent. We also don't teach the whole, hellfire and damnation in our church. Repentence is a means for us to move forward and leave the past in the past. We teach a very loving Father in Heaven who wants us to be like Him and that the objective of our lives is to be happy! Making good choices is part of how we build a personal relationship with Him. We don't believe in forcing or manipulating people to do good things, and while we don't support wrong choices, we respect other's agency to make incorrect choices, even if it makes them and others around them unhappy.

There are several possible variations on the "CTR" theme for adults as well. C had the bottom ring custom made years ago when at age 25 he read the Book of Mormon and prayed to know if it was true. The top right ring I had made that has a special purpose in connection with my Jewish ancestry, but it carries a similar meaning.

While living in Alaska, I once met a fellow who wore a ring similar to the first one shown. I automatically assumed that he must be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As it turned out, a female friend of his bought it for him, and let me tell you, here was a fellow who really lived up to the phrase, "choose the right," even if he did not choose to be a member of my church.

Well, this wasn't really the direction I intended to go with this entry. I meant to discuss how funny it was hunting for these rings, how we had to have them held at the store ahead of time, and how when we arrived, another woman was at the store who lived in the same county I live in and she also drove up to buy these little rings for her four-year old class.

Just a final note on teaching these little ones; last week was my last class with all of my cute little 7-year olds. One little girl made me a card, and one little boy came up after class and gave me a hug. After they left, I shed a few tears while I gathered up my things. It's hard to see them move on, but I am excited to welcome eight new little six-year olds into my class today!

Friday, January 1, 2010

They were watching us like HAWKS!

We both worked on the 31st, and stopped by a healthy salad buffet on our way home. C insisted that I pick our table, and I innocently selected a table across from an elderly couple. While C left to wash his hands, I arranged our plates, and then headed off for a little soup. A few minutes later, C met me next to the soup.

"You had to pick THAT table? They are going to stare at us the WHOLE time!"

I brushed it off, thinking that he was just being a bit paranoid, and reminded him that he had been adamant about me selecting our seat. We sat down, and the couple turned their heads to look at us. What happened next made me feel a bit like I had just entered the Twilight Zone (great movie, by the way). They not only turned their heads to look at us, but they physically shifted their bodies so that they were completely facing us! And they stayed that way THE ENTIRE MEAL, watching us! Ironically, even though they had arrived long before we did, they did not leave until we did, which made our meal feel a bit like we were in a fishbowl.

We did our best to have a nice meal together, but you certainly limit your conversation when two people are intently staring at you. I hope we provided some good entertainment, at least. I glanced their direction once or twice, but they just kept staring. We had a good laugh after the fact, and when they got up to leave, I even smiled and politely nodded to the woman. "Okay, you were right," I said to C. "They DID stare at us the whole time." Touche. Maybe they are in league with the white-clad woman at the Olive Garden, and as part of a secret geriatric society, they vow to avenge wrongs directed at the well-seasoned ilk of society. Stranger things have happened, my friends.

I had this GRAND idea for our New Year's celebration. I am sure you have seen the old, open a wine bottle with a machete trick. No? Well, considering our Mormon no-alcohol status, my mind leaped to the bottles of Martinelli's Cider in the basement. Considering we are sword-deficient (although we have a machete somewhere . . . ) I next thought of the knife my dad gave to me. It's ALMOST as big as a short sword.

I let C do the honors. He gave it a good shake, even though that is NOT recommended. "I really don't think this is going to work." He said, skeptically. Then came the movie-worthy POP! and the top of the bottle shot off somewhere across the yard, hopefully missing the quail hiding out in our blue spruce. Apple juice poured out in splendor, and C took a sip straight from the bottle. It was a glorious success. I KNOW! You are DYING to try it? Okay, okay, here is the trick:

1. find the seam on the bottle
2. firmly hold the bottle almost horizontal to the ground with the seam facing up
3. don't aim the bottle at anything you prize or don't want to get sued for
4. with a large, heavy knife, short sword, machete, or other heavy sword, quickly slide up the seam along the neck and strike right where the lip meets the seam, making sure that the flat part of the knife strikes as much of the lip as possible
5. let some of the contents spill out to remove any glass shards, pour into a glass and check again for shards before serving

And there it is! Five easy steps to make you popular at parties! (if they trust you enough to let you in with a machete).

P.S. In case you were wondering, the knife struck on the tallest part of the bottle. When you get good at this, you can make a straight break at the lip.

One last hurrah for New Year's Day; while I was taking the picture of the knife, I glanced up and saw this prismatic abstraction of our beautiful Christmas tree. We are taking it down tomorrow, so this is a final shot of this beautiful creation gracing our home and adding to the Christmas Spirit.

And Resolutions? Do share, if you will!

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