Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hayden is Most Amusing (cont'd. thru C-mas)

Hayden actually likes to 'help.'  I told him, "When you grow up, you're going to be a hard worker - I can tell!"  "I know," he responded confidently, "and I'll have my own shovel."

Hayden said he didn't have germs.  I said everybody has germs.  "Boy's don't."  "Who told you that?"   "Johnny."

H. seems to be developing well in the formal manners department.  That, and/or he's spontaneously thoughtful.  When Uncle Grant left, he ran to the door and hollered, "Thanks for the snowman!"  On one of our trips to the fruit room to get more decorations, he said, "You have nice Christmas stuff!"

When I unveiled a heavy box and Hayden and I slowly pushed it from the closet to the living room, it was a few more minutes before he realized it contained a train and his excitement grew.  By the time we cranked it up, he said, "This is the BEST Christmas!"  And in a few minutes, "I speak the next turn!", so I said he'd not be having a 'turn,' only grown-ups could run the train.  He continued to be a tad too friendly for the train's health, so we had a 'talk' about its history and how the cousins have had to follow the rules too, and he's been totally fine since.

Jewel bought some kosher dill pickle halves.  Hayden asked for one.  After he ate it, he asked for another one and Jewel said at this rate she'd need to buy another jar for Christmas dinner.  He cheerfully said as if he'd solved everything, "Just buy two!" (Holding up two fingers.)

After lunch and the snowman, Hazel and Hayden had cookies and 'lukewarm' chocolate.  I handed Hazel a wipe when she was done and it dipped slightly into her cup.  Hayden cautioned her not to use it now and I said it was okay.  "It's poison."  I said, "Who says!" guessed it ... "Johnny."

Playing with He-Man figures and wanting arms reattached, I said he'd just take them off again.  Passing the buck blame, he said, "My sisters took it off."  (Meaning Hazel and Lucy.)

[FYI, Johnny's in the same scapegoat family as Hazel and Lucy.]

Jewel left the room for a moment and Johnny asked Hayden to get a certain gift from under the tree.  He wasn't sure so I picked it up and handed it to him, as Jewel came in.  So then she thought it was from me and Johnny said it was from Hayden.  (J&J had "agreed" not to buy gifts for each other.)  Hayden piped up, "It's not from me, I can't buy anything!"

Jewel made lots of yummy things for Christmas, and Hayden was impressed with the desserts - red velvet cupcakes and frosted sugar cookies.  He said, giving her legs a hug, "Wow, Mom's amazing!"  By now he was catching on that I was keeping this list and as I repeated it to make sure I got it right, he said in a stage-whisper, "... and you're not."  (Made me laugh as well as fondly think back to Grant's lack of enthusiasm over my posterity note-taking habits.)

And lastly, it's a Christmas miracle!!  Hayden asked me where Hazel and Lucy were going and I said to see your Grandpa Larry, the grandpa who gave you the rifle, remember the rifle?  He said sadly, "The rifle broke," then cheerfully as he bounced off, "Maybe he'll give me a new gun!"  And sure, enough, he did.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas 2008

Grant brought in the tracks & erected the tree.
Jewel fluffed.
Hayden and GG trimmed.
Jewel topped w/Angel.
Roscoe admired.
                                        Johnny bringing more presents!
Santa too!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jest 'fore Christmas

When I was in junior Primary I memorized a long poem, Mom dressed me up for the part and had me recite it at a ward party.  I can remember standing on the stage in the old 3rd Ward upstairs cultural hall, and she sat down in front and would mouth the next word if I got stuck. It was written by Eugene Field, 1850-1895 (Wynken, Blynken, and Nod). I’m betting it took many hours of patience for her to teach it to me, as much of it I wouldn’t have had a clue as to it’s meaning and she’d have been determined I pronounce it well enough that the adults could. Unfortunately it didn’t “stick” in my brain (sad to say, Daddy’s memory skill didn’t pass down to me!), and by the time I started searching, it took me forever to find it on the internet.  All I could remember was it had to do with so-and-so “calls me” the various varieties of the name Bill. Not remembering who the “so-and-so’s” were, complicated the search.


Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill!

Mighty glad I ain't a girl---ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes, curls, an' things that's worn by Fauntleroy!
Love to chawnk green apples an' go swimmin' in the lake---

Hate to take the castor-ile they give for bellyache!

'Most all the time, the whole year round, there ain't no flies on me,

But jest 'fore Christmas I'm as good as I kin be!

Got a yeller dog named Sport, sick him on the cat;

First thing she knows she doesn't know where she is at!

Got a clipper sled, an' when us kids goes out to slide,

'Long comes the grocery cart, an' we all hook a ride!

But sometimes when the grocery man is worrited an' cross,

He reaches at us with his whip, an' larrups up his hoss,

An' then I laff an' holler, "Oh, ye never teched me!"

But jest 'fore Christmas I'm as good as I kin be!

Gran'ma says she hopes that when I git to be a man,

I'll be a missionarer like her oldest brother, Dan,

As was et up by the cannibuls that lives in Ceylon's Isle,

Where every prospeck pleases, an' only man is vile!

But gran'ma she has never been to see a Wild West show,

Nor read the Life of Daniel Boone, or else I guess she'd know

That Buff'lo Bill an' cowboys is good enough for me!

Excep' jest 'fore Christmas, when I'm good as I kin be!

[I think she modified the above paragraph, as I can't remember a thing about a
"missonarer" or "cannibuls" or "Ceylon's Isle." 
The last four lines ring bells, though, as does the rest of the poem.]

And then old Sport he hangs around, so solemnlike an' still,
His eyes they seem a-sayin': "What's the matter, little Bill?"

The old cat sneaks down off her perch an' wonders what's become

Of them two enemies of hern that used to make things hum!

But I am so perlite an' tend so earnestly to biz,

That mother says to father: "How improved our Willie is!"

But father, havin' been a boy hisself, suspicions me

When, jest 'fore Christmas, I'm as good as I kin be! 

For Christmas, with its lots an' lots of candies, cakes, an' toys,

Was made, they say, for proper kids an' not for naughty boys;

So wash yer face an' bresh yer hair, an' mind yer p's and q's,

An' don't bust out yer pantaloons, and don't wear out yer shoes;

Say "Yessum" to the ladies, and "Yessur" to the men,

An' when they's company, don't pass yer plate for pie again;

But, thinkin' of the things yer'd like to see upon that tree,

Jest 'fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!

I must mention that this poem would have been descriptive of the years of her parents’ youth (both born 1882), and that her late teen/young adult years coincided with the Great Depression. Her family was very poor, as were many, even pre-depression. Her father made their shoes, and the children were expected to make them last a year. She said she tore hers somehow, beyond repair, and whenever he was around, she kept that shoe hidden - more out of recognition of the necessity for the anniversary date to arrive, than that she’d be in trouble. If she’d had a pantaloon problem, it would have been minor in comparison, as she was a skilled seamstress and designed her own patterns. She hired herself out to hoe beet fields. Once she walked to the lake (which was a lot further than she guessed), to fish, caught a catfish, which she proudly brought home and was informed it was too small to eat. So she put it in the cow’s trough where it grew to an approved edible size. She made hardship her friend, was remarkably industrious, and was valedictorian the year her high school class graduated. Once I accused her of being spoiled (by my Dad) and in truth she was, but she earned it. (So if you don’t get what you want, or what you figure you deserve, for Christmas, remember the hardships and hope of your heritage, and take heart.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Good, The Bad (but not necessarily The Ugly)

Those of you who really know me -- all two of you  who would ever read this -- know I have a bizarre sense of humor. Of late I’ve been fending off BP issues. I’ve actually done quite well in that department, given history, but the last few weeks I’ve “cracked myself up,” as one of our kitchen managers would say. I must also say that having Jewel and her loved ones here for Thanksgiving gave me a much appreciated reprieve which goes on the Good List. But, unfortunately, some days are just plain Bad.

I go to the temple most Fridays and recently I ended up puttering at work late enough that it unsuspectingly put me in the heart of the date crowd. It was most annoying. Not that the crowd was that crowd, just that it was big which translated into getting there at 6:15 and home at t-e-n-f-o-r-t-y-f-i-v-e-! I managed to remain relatively calm in the temple, but when I got in my car and was waiting for neighborhood traffic, which one would think nonexistent at that time of night, to let me in, I said, out loud, “Come onnnnnn, get a move on, would ya!!” Arrived at the MTC roadway and a car was sitting there, in no hurry to venture forward, and I continued to vocally bellyache. Then it dawned on me, light bulb time - I’d just left the temple and my elevated BP was already “back” which made me laugh out loud and continue chuckling for several blocks. (It’s a good thing, even better if it is humorous [wacky or otherwise], to realize you are behaving badly.)

Then a few days after that, I was late leaving work again, heading up the diagonal, got in line to turn right on 8th East. Now a few years ago, I got pulled over on that corner. Until recently, the white lane divider lines were very faded, I’d forgotten there was more than one lane (there isn’t on that street, the other side of that intersection) and the cop warned me I couldn’t turn directly into the “inside” lane. It would have been pointless of course to mention the practically invisible markings, which were even worse in the dark. Nowadays they are totally noticeable, no excuses allowed. I was second in line to turn, the left-hand turn lane in front of us was flowing, and I was loudly advising that car to “GET going, there are TWO lanes you know,” and then I commented, instantly, calmly, at the same time the 18-wheeler made the turn and was hogging the “outside” lane, “Well… maybe not … if you would actually rather not get squashed,” and then laughed and laughed for miles at my so-called BP-induced observation.

Actually, it may not all be BP. At work they’ve finally converted from an ancient boiler to more modern HVAC methods and mucked out the furnace room which is nearby our department. It has been definitely on my irritation list, the noise, the stink, the mess, the ineptness (permanently there will be no heat in the restrooms for one thing; muck missing the mark in tossing it onto the truck at the bottom of the ramp, left for days, and the masses tracking the filth back in, which would have been a mud flood had it rained). They created a gas leak that lasted forever before they finally figured out how to stop it, amid macho/lame explanations such as it takes awhile to dissipate (8 days?!) or the gas monitor always goes wild when you enter a building. In BP-complimentary frustration, I commented that it was Phil’s way of finishing us off, which cracked up the rest of the department. You’d have to know Phil to get that one. And hopefully, there is NO ONE out there in the reading audience who … actually, I CAN think of one… . I, lacking faith in our own people, finally called the gas company. If he said it six, he said it seven times (just like Proverbs!), natural gas can kill you from the explosion but it can’t make you sick. We were all feeling sickish, extra ornery, respiratory symptoms. Well, duh, it’s the stuff IN the gas that does that (per the MSDS sheet [not per the gas company]), and I don’t think very many people split distinguishing between “natural” gas and methyl mercaptan when they are complaining about leakage!

Some days are just so very Good. (And it’s a good thing or you’d just give up.) Just make the assumption upon arrival at church every week that you will be asked to give the closing prayer, and see how great it makes your day, actually paying attention in anticipation of that. It is going on five years I’ve attended Sacrament meeting, sans or as caboose. Of late it bothers me.  Well. It's bothered me, but of late it bothers me.  (BP "speaking," I'm sure.)  The week before, the nicest elderly sister came in late, sat beside me, whisper-chatted amiably. Came time for the next meeting which would be in the same room. A sister who has taken to ‘tending’ her wanted her to move and sit by her. She uses a walker and protested, the ‘tender’ persisted, so I got up and moved so she could have my seat and not make her move. Sigh. Once in Sacrament meeting the family who came after me and sat in the same row and then had more visitor family arrive, asked me to move. Double sigh. Once a married couple came along, two empty seats to the side of me and the husband took the one next to me. The wife chewed on his ear a moment and they switched seats. Triple sigh. (I suppose I should have been flattered at my age/appearance to be perceived as a threat.) But as I said, some days are extra Good.

I was not hep at going the following week, knowing I was going to purposefully put myself outside the possibility of having to move (or exacerbate my current sensitivities). I was asked to give the closing prayer. The theme was treating Sacrament meetings and the sacrament with more sacredness. It was good for my temporarily tender soul to have to pay better attention. The next meeting (still safe in my corner of the room), I was in a better position and frame of mind to notice things. Other things beside how I-I-I felt about life. The prior bishop who so kindly gave me such a good start in this ward, stopped to congratulate a sister who is about my age and has just gotten her recommend after 13 years. It was a joy, observing both their joy, and thinking back of his kindness to me and the great callings he gave me to help me adjust.

My growing up neighbor came in late and sat beside me (hopefully he dares do that in future should his wife hear about it! ). At one point the people who sit by the audio knobs were fiddling and the teacher asked what the problem was. His dad, who is rather crotchety, said he couldn’t hear a word and his son gave a big sigh. Me, I thought that as confirming the crotchety-ness, but then he whispered - ‘Watch, she’ll tone her voice down to offset the upped mike’ and sure enough. So his sigh was in sympathy, not criticism of his dad, which was a tender revelation.

The lesson was the book of Mormon. We summarized the signs of those times with the question, which ones apply to this day? …wars, wickedness, unbelief, sorceries, witchcraft. One of the older folks commented in a very matter of fact nonconfrontational way, the possibly potential stepping stone of all the book/movie hype that of the last few years consumes the “popular” interest. (The “vice is a monster” adage.) I thought of all the older folks I get to mingle with, many of them still hanging in from my growing up years, and what a blessing that is, even for me, if not aged myself, for sure old.

We talked about being worthy of having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion, and concluded from D&C 121:44-46, that to get it, we must have charity towards all men and unceasingly virtuous thoughts. I always appreciate the concepts that are covenants; do this=get this. Another question, who were Mormon’s words written for? Sister Bastian, probably the oldest woman in the ward, said, “Me!” Who else, was the question, “Raymond!” (Her husband.) We all laughed.

Then sacrament meeting was the icing on the cake, the HC speaker was our prior bishopric counselor, which was a treat. (Both former bc’s are HC’s.) He talked about how blessed we were that in this day our meetings let out at a set time, that they often droned on in “the olden days.” Once when J. Golden Kimball was partnered with an apostle, it was a fast Sunday and the meeting went way over, and the apostle instead of closing the meeting, asked him to get up and speak of the virtues of the newly published Era magazine, to boost subscriptions. He got up and said, ‘If all of you will raise your hands that you will subscribe to the Era, we will conclude this meeting,’ to which they did, and he sat down. The HCman also stated (quoting) that “The Lord is in the details,” meaning He knows, don’t ever think He doesn’t, and that the details do matter. He told of a farmer who lost his peach crop and quit coming to church, thinking God didn’t care about him so why should he. The bishop paid him a visit and said he didn’t know if God sent the frost to kill his peaches, but he knew God sent the frost to firm the farmer’s spiritual commitment. The farmer came back. Soul food, all of it, just because I walked in the door and was handed a need to pay better attention. And reconfirm that my spiritual commitment matters … it’s all in the details.

Last year's card from Jewel & Hayden:

"There's only one thing better than what we find on our Thanksgiving table...

(Plays the Charlie Brown theme when you open it.)

...It's what we find around it!"

(And now it's part of the centerpiece tradition.)