Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lots to be Thankful For

My faith in mankind has been renewed!  Spent over a week trying to find someone to do my fall clean-up.  (Decided against coughing up half a lung every time I attempt it - or alternatively wearing an effective particulate restrictive mask but the labor intensive resultant heavier breathing created a major not good drowning impulse as well as increased wheezing.  Is definitely effective against the hacking reaction though.)

I'd called eight companies/people and one company and one person claimed they would come look it over the next Monday and give me an estimate.  I left Tuesday.  I'd given them my cell number and heard nary a word from those two, much less the rest I'd left messages with.  Left Vegas for home shortly upon awaking the following Monday morning so I could spend as much time when I got home as possible on it before dark.  Yay!!  Pulled into a fully swept yard including a mowing and edging.  (No edging since Grant was in charge.)  Charged me $50.00 and my yard was, the Olsens/Rawlinson can verify, buried in leaves.   He lives in the 6th ward and is in the YM presidency, so pretty likely he's a reliable guy. Lives across the street from Daryl and Lil Huish's house. Woo-hoo!  So it was with a light heart overriding scarred lungs, I tackled the few leaves that had fallen since, and those stuck in the flower beds and by dark an hour-and-a-half later, I had it just as spiffy as the last thorough whole yard clean-up I did on October 30th.  Did come inside and hack awhile as a result, though.  Feeling back in control of my environment, I even emailed the agent bishop for the building next door to ask if he'd swap me cleaning up after his tree that feeds my trash on my side vs. my trees debris which lands on the church side of the fence.  Plus I've been keeping the various vines off the fences.  For whatever reason, the church clean-up crew would chop my grape vines down every year ... just before harvesting!  Probably assumed I wasn't going to since I wait until the first freeze.  So this year I have them contained on my side, away from the fence, so add that to the swap.  (I've got my fingers crossed.)

So beginning with that good news, I'll now move back in time to the prior good news event.  Which was Thanksgiving.  Poor Grant/Ruth/girls get gypped (hopefully they think that) because I'm too tight to spend $600+ flying to visit them.  I watch faithfully the airlines that fly from/to SLC/Houston.  Early on when they moved there, I got great deals - a May trip and a Christmas trip.  Got a great deal on a trip there last February, but for whatever reason, Thanksgiving/Christmas and a lot of the rest of the year are outrageous. I was very happy to learn that Ruth's parents and some siblings came this year, though too quick of trip I'm sure.  Ruth has a sister who lives in El Paso, whom they visited on their drive back.  Who'd a thunk that would ever happen!  Children that far from home, two of theirs in Texas.  (And Alan near Dallas and Sheryl all the way to New Hampshire!)

It's always nice to spend time at Jewel's.  I drove down - cheaper, and the weather cooperated.  This year she mapped it out so perfectly we were ready to sit down to eat within 10 minutes of the projected dinner hour.  I copied her notes into my phone for the next time.  Not that it matters though in her neck of the woods.  "Scarboroughs" always come way early and munch on the veggie tray until dinner time, visiting or watching football together.  They are all very kind to me and make me feel welcome.  Hayden is still willing to give me his bed, which I appreciate.
Sweater from GG.

Raygen is just enough OCD and of a happy nature that she is a delight.  I've not met a child that gets such a kick out of turning on the bathroom light, going potty, washing hands, drying hands, turning out the light.  She has a very patient Dad who doesn't mind her stomping him to death while she climbs on his shoulders to be taken upstairs for a nap or whatever upstairs duty calls.   My job this year was the pie crusts, rolls, stuffing, and a banana cream pie on Saturday.  (Jewel's choice for her birthday when I'm around for it, which isn't often, due to work restraints and her choice I come for Raygen's instead.)

Loves her baby. 

Turkey shirt, all ready to go to preschool.

Decorating the kids' tree. 

 Snacks for church, all ready to go.

Pleasant event before that was having Don and Lois, Janeil and Eldon for lunch the prior Saturday, and Janeil and Eldon stay over and go to church with me the next day. Didn't do too good of job cooking it, but it was edible.

Volunteers moved the too-heavy-for-me couch so the table could be in the alcove.
Enjoying better access to the windows.

First blossom on the Christmas cactus.


Thanks for the suggestion on this plant, Janeil.

Eldon put up three coat hooks for me.  One of them is in the spot in the hall where there was a coat hook before the fire.  Daddy kept his Pendleton sweater there (which I bought in Pendleton passing through years before, for his birthday or Christmas).  Norma kept it there after he died.  Awhile later, seems like maybe a year, she told me it didn't smell like him any more, which made her sad, but she still kept it hanging there.

Don did me the favor of replacing a downstairs light which I was afraid I was going to ruin the fasteners to the ceiling, trying to take the fixture cover off.  He did it slick as a whistle (me, I'd been up/down the ladder several times trying/giving up), and I wrote down the instructions to do it myself next time the bulb needs changing.  It matches the adjacent fixture in the kitchen.  Trouble was, I'd changed it early in 2010 but didn't put the cover back on properly.  Then this house blew up down across the street from the Purple Turtle one evening as I was sitting on the bed, and the jolt of the gas explosion not only lifted the bed off the floor and slammed it back down, the cover fell off, smashing the white glass to smithereens.  Had a smokey glass cut to fit it (so you couldn't see the bare bulb) and put in a fridge bulb since the clearance was reduced too much for a normal bulb.  It burned out almost immediately.  Too hot I figure.  Tried hard to find a the glass part that would "match", no luck, not surprisingly, so then I started DI shopping for anything that might suffice and got the idea to buy a Corelle small white bowl, which not only fit perfectly, but is translucent.

Original kitchen light.

 "Hall" light with the same fixture, new glass.

Now you'd have to be almost 68 years old, live alone, be a tightwad, live in an old family house, treasure it beyond measure, and you'd understand how pleasing all that is to me.  Next job sometime this winter I hope to get the last of my rippling carpets restretched (poor choice in carpet beater cleaner people).

Pleasant event before that was driving to Vegas to tend while Jewel ran Ragnar.  She ran 26.5 miles if I remember correctly, in three stints.  Got a second medal for running two Ragnars in one year, Wasatch Back and Vegas ("Saints & Sinners").  A couple of tech guys from work also ran both and high-fived me when I congratulated them after I got back home.  The kids were easy, mostly because Johnny put himself on call one of the days, after he got back from going out in the middle of the night, spent several hours volunteer car parking for the event.

Church those three Sundays was extra good.  The Ragnar one their former bishop subbed for Sunday School and was excellent.  Then Janeil and Eldon at my ward, perfectly comfortable contributing to our Sunday School, which was fun for me.  I felt a lot more at home there, having them with me.  Eldon remarked to the teacher, also a PG old timer, that she should remember his name as the Olsens were as "known" as Fugals, and Janeil added that both families came over on the same ship in 1868 (The Emerald Isle).  Lots of people recognized Janeil.  She visited some with Jessie and Bob, and shed a few tears when we left.  I asked if it was because of Jessie getting old or Jessie having big health problems.  (Parkinsons and Leukemia.)  She said it was because she knew she wouldn't get to see her again in this life.  I visited Blake's wife later that day and she confirmed that the doctor said it's time for family to come spend time with her.  Then this last Sunday Jewel's current bishop's wife gave the R.S. lesson and it was superb.  She taught the marriage class back when Johnny came to church and he confirmed what a gifted teacher she is.  It was L. Tom Perry's conference talk about secularism.  I was grateful to be there.  L. Tom Perry is so "grandfatherly" I really hadn't grasp his serious message.  She talked about going to the dump and trying to isolate the smells - not possible.  But if you walk into a museum and see a piece of paper on the floor you recognize it as trash immediately.  Meaning, keep your life clean so you readily recognize what's trash.  She talked about arming our children against secularism so that when they're in school the opposition will be like water running of a duck's back.  She said to reinforce daily, not just FHE.  Said to put a prophet or temple or "Return with Honor" picture/plaque by the front door and draw attention to using them as reminders every time anyone leaves home.  She talked about Gerald Lund, a confirming testimony experience he had while getting his PhD at Pepperdine, hearing the professor's reference to a bible quote which was totally inaccurate given what he knew the Book of Mormon added to its understanding.  Loved every minute of all three meetings.

I am grateful to live in this time, in this house, in this town, in this ward, and I know that God loves me and watches over me and kindly and generously and patiently provides me growing opportunities that often I don't take advantage of nor even recognize.  I'm grateful for the atonement in my life, both for the final outcome, and for the spiritual witness of it that I have been blessed with.  I love being able to sit with Jewel in church and talk about church stuff and feel of her sweet spirit which she exudes courtesy of her faithfulness.  I have fond memories of the same over the years with Grant.  My prayer is that they can endure to the end and my hope that I can too.  And that they are blessed to bring their families along with them in the journey.  Life IS hard ... and then you die, but as Daddy quoted, "why fear death - it's life's greatest adventure."  I need to better prepare myself to be of more use in that hereafter, "to go no more out" after hopefully landing in a place where I can associate with my family and with my Dad and Mom, and Norma, other loved ones, and our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Father.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


... as in what goes around, comes around (or judge not that ye be not judged)!

But ... before I tell that story, here's some friendly school district kitchen competition Halloween pictures (and kids hamming it up, as encouraged by their kitchen manager, in this case a guy who is always teasing about needing his feminine side for this job, but is NOTHING like your typical [or atypical for that matter] "lunch lady"):

So.  Back in the day when Norma lived in this house for 23 years-ish, 18 of them alone, the last few years she would often tell me she wasn't sure how much longer she could stay here - too much yard work for her agedness.  (Which reminds me fondly, of another thing she would say, "I see no point in living past 90!" She made it to 87, and I am 99% positive she willed herself to go and, per usual, God listened to her.)

She was very particular about the odds and ends.  I'd offer to do something to help and she'd firmly decline because it was outside of the "plan".  Me, I'd think (but never say, of course), what's so hard about it?  It's a tiny lot, her kids did the spring clean-up for her, the Scouts did her leaves (one of the jobs I tried to get her to let me help with), one of her home teachers did all the snow removal (and inherited her snowblower when she died, which was kind of her kids), the other one was on call and tells me he trimmed the roses regularly as well, and Grant mowed her lawn and trimmed the bushes and painted all the wooden exterior.

While Grant was on his mission, she gave Daddy's lawnmower to one of her sons and had a service take care of the yard.  When Grant got back, he insisted he'd take care of it again.  He'd bring our mower down weekly which made his father unhappy so I bought a mower to keep here.  When we were going through all of her things after she died, I didn't tell them that I'd be moving in, so when I cleaned out the west shed of all her things they didn't want, and left only those that were Daddy's, I moved the lawnmower inside, hopefully a "message" reminder that it was mine.  It disappeared.  I'm not good at confrontation but finally when her oldest son called and was talking odds and ends, I mentioned it.  He then called me back and said one of the brothers was sure it belonged to Norma.  I made a photocopy of the invoice which had my name on it and the mower's serial number, and left it on the kitchen table.  (They were still in/out getting things for a couple of months after she died.)  It then reappeared in the shed.  I'm still using it, eight years later.

So the Karma part is ... here I am, almost 68, so still a kid in her eyes, I'm sure (she was Stake R.S. president when she was 78, and really only noticeably slowed down the last couple of years), and had I anyone who cared, to mention it too, I'd be saying ... I've about had my fill of the yard upkeep!  I actually could readily justify hiring someone to do it (though I know also, like Norma, I'd not be happy if it weren't just so), but I'm  holding off as long as possible just because I'm not much on exercise and were I to give in, I think I'd quickly get pretty much to the slug stage due to having one leg shorter than the other (meniscus removal), constant pain in that knee, arthritis in my hands, and scar tissue in my lungs. I get a wheeze early fall that lasts through the winter.  I did wise-up this fall, though.  Mowed the front several weeks ago and about paid a trip to the doctor as a result of the hacking it created, stirring up the dust from the leaves I mowed.  So thereafter I've worn a mask which works very well, and I wished I'd wised-up sooner.  Winterized the lawnmower this week, covered the grow box, leveled the peonies, put away all the yard furniture, and now it's rake/rake/rake for the next month or so.

Other than yard clean-up, life's good. (LOL)
One last garden picture of the last bell pepper of the season.
Had lots of fun at work for Halloween.  I borrowed this wig last year
and didn't dare ask for it again.
I wrote down all the tag info and searched for it online, no luck.
Shopping for a wig this year, still couldn't find it,
but I did find (just one) the same brand, and it was almost as good.
My boss had us all dress as gypsies last year and she gave psychic readings based on colors in her crystal ball.  So this year she did a repeat and it was ridiculously hilarious - people waiting in line in my office, commenting on the things that came true in last year's reading, and one lady actually said to one and all, "Ohhh, I am sooo nervous!!"  (Last year my boss told me I would meet a man.  Didn't come true, I reminded her, other than if maybe she meant I would say "hi" to a man I met.  (LOL)  This year she claims I will decide to spend a lot of money on something fun I normally wouldn't consider doing, and that I'd laugh A L-O-T.)  Hurrump.  She must be have been looking into the past - as my trip to Disney World would have filled that bill.  (The laughter part sounds good though.)

Here's a few more fun work pictures for 'tis the season:
We hosted a "farm day" at an elementary.  Channel 2 came.  

Brought in a cow who was unbelievable patient with all who wanted to pet her
and a number who tried to milk her.
(The news girl must have been a farm girl - she doused the camera first try.)
Brought in a tractor (and worried about kids falling off it).
Brought in a beekeeper (from Pleasant Grove), and he brought his own honey.
I heard more than one child say, "I didn't know honey came from real  bees!"

 These guys were from Midway, Heber Valley Dairy,
and served flavored "squeaky" cheese.
This couple used to bartend in Vegas, now live in SLC,
and supply our district with hummus via our produce provider,
Muir Copper Canyon Farms, also in SLC.
They have all kinds of flavors - fire roasted bell pepper,
roasted garlic and tomato, suesabi ... and plain.
I asked them where the name came from - well ...
he affectionately calls her "Monkey"
and they were in Vegas on the receiving end
of the bartending ... and that's as far as they'd go with the story,
with an elementary school roof over their heads.