Monday, December 19, 2011

a living eulogy for Dad

SHEEESH! I got busy with life and forgot my living eulogy for my Dad. SO here it is....
Frank Calvert Davis Jr. hhhhhmmmmmm. He got lots of names too. Perhaps my parents didn't give me a middle name because they had so many of their own -they must have thought I would be happy with two. (one eyebrow moment)

My Dad was a 99 and 9/10% happy all the time kind of guy. At least that is how I saw him when I was little. Dad was the jokester around our house. One of my very favorite memories was the game of "touched you last." Mom would decide it was bed time (probably because she had had enough of us) but I am thinking Dad wasn't in agreement. So while brushing my teeth, Dad would stand next to me with the pretense of making sure I got every last tooth, and then calmly tap me on the back and say touched you last, then he would streak out of the bathroom. Game on! I would run after him, come to a corner, smack him and yell touched YOU last. This went on for about 10 minutes, with us running like nuts all over the house screaming and laughing until Mom would say "Frank!" in that Mom voice which meant enough! So Dad would say ok truce and haul me off to bed. Sometimes my brothers got into the frenzy too and that was complete bedlam. He would put me in bed, lean down for a goodnight kiss and whisper "touched you last" GAHHHH! The entire shenanigans started all over again. We'd get away with it for about another 5 minutes and then the "FRANK" was real and we knew we couldn't push Mom much more- not that we didn't try, but it was a hoot.

My Dad made Christmas a time of magic- mostly because he could make you wait for everything- the tree, a picture taken, presents, candy parties, about any part of Christmas he could drag out and make into a waiting game for ever, until you were so whipped up into a frenzy you couldn't see straight, it was pretty heady stuff. He also took us on summer vacations that were so fun. I remember waiting for him to bring a trailer home that he had rented, and then we would pack it with food and clothes and mostly fishing tackle and at 4 am we would head out for parts unknown...wait... we always knew where we were going- Bear Lake and Yellowstone. But he did take us to California and Disneyland Colorado and Arizona and Canada and the entire west coast and many other great places. Sometimes he would make up songs while we were driving, and play games with us to keep us from killing each other on long drives.
I had a wonderful childhood!
My Dad was not around on Sundays a lot because he was always attending to one church calling or another, either in the stake or our ward. I remember him in bishoprics, as a stake or ward clerk and I remember that I knew that serving in the church was important because my Dad made it important. He was organized and meticulous and I learned that you don't say no and you do your best.
He worked at the Deseret News and I loved going and visiting him while he was at work. I remember the red grease pencils he used to edit the paper, and the metal plates that ran on a track on the floor to the different rooms and the huge rolls of paper whizzing past your head for miles. Dad took us to all kinds of events and he always had his "press pass" which he used to procure good parking spots and it always worked for some reason. Dad even introduced me to the love of my life...Ice hockey"
I think Dad spoiled us, but we didn't know it at the time. Only looking back now do I see that he gave us every wonderful childhood memory that a child could want.
He honored his parents. I did not know my Grandma or Grandpa Davis, but I was given a love of them through my Dad. He also honored my Mothers parents, and made sure they were a large part of our lives.
Dad was also a photographer. This brings back some not so fond memories as he took FOREVER to take a picture and wiggly kids aren't too fond of standing still, but he was good at it and I loved being in his darkroom "helping" him develop his film.
Dad was always fun and happy- except when we did something wrong and then he was just sad with us. I don't remember too many really angry times- but he really hated it if you left your shoes in the family room by the couch..Then you would hear your name and then 2 bangs as he threw them up the stairs. I hated that!
Dad was patient with us, and kind, but he didn't let us get away with things that weren't right. He taught us the gospel simply by his example. He taught us to work and to do a good job, and he taught us to have fun and joy in life. He took me fishing and to hockey games and sledding and we played tennis and racquetball and went snowmobiling and he didn't care if I was a girl. And when I got older and set him aside for other males, he waited patiently for any time I could give him, and he didn't complain about it.
He treated my mom, LJ he called her, with love and humor and respect, and he did NOT let us treat her any differently- If you want to see him mad, just disrespect my mother.
He loved animals and he let us have dogs. I thank him for that.
Words I would use to describe my Dad are honest, fun, hardworking, conscientious, intelligent,
a tad on the obsessive compulsive side, loyal, spiritual, thrifty, generous, and humble.
I have watched my Dad serve 3 church missions and countless hours on genealogy and temple work.
He was an avid fisherman, played many sports and loved airplanes. One of my favorite things to do with Dad was go out to the airport and watch the airplanes land and take off.
As Dad got older, he was plagued with health problems but this didn't stop him form church service. The saddest part of watching my parents age is that they are not the same people I grew up with, who made my youth so wonderful, but they are independent and they don't seem to want to be a burden, which might not be a bad thing. I think we morn our parent death twice. When they aren't who we grew up with and when they pass to the other side of the veil.
I love you Dad, and hope for you a joyous reunion with your parents and brothers and sister some day. In know that the Lord will be able to say well done, thou good and faithful servant.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I heart Vancouver!

Paige and Eric moved to Vancouver British Columbia at the end of August, and I just couldn't wait any longer to go for a visit- So last week, Stewie and I jumped on a plane (no small task for us rural folk) and flew to the most beautiful city in the entire world. Well I wouldn't know, because I haven't been in very many big cities- but compared to the ones I have been in- Salt Lake City, Athens, New York, London, Atlanta, LA, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, Chicago...hmmm I do have a few to compare it to. Vancouver is absolutely breath taking. You wouldn't know it from the few paltry pictures I took with my own camera- but there are some beauties on Paige's camera.
This is Paige and Eric at the Olympic torch.

The leaves were still on the trees... red maples everywhere. I couldn't get enough of them- Yellow oak trees and every shade of orange and pink. I was fascinated by the wet gray pavement and the colors of the leaves on top of it. I am hoping to get some pictures off of Paige's camera- I took a bunch of the maple trees. Here in Alberta, we have very few red trees and the leaves get blown off the trees so quickly and they dry up- In Vancouver the leaves are always wet and pretty, even on the ground. My next painting is going to have this wonderful color palette in it!! Vancouver is also the cleanest city I have ever been in- Not one SPECK of litter ...ANYWHERE!
We walked for hours- along the waterfront, in the city, in Stanley park and Granville Island.

It was amazing to me to be right there on the ocean, but have mountains right there too. The best of both worlds!! People live right on the water in the harbor, on house boats! It was a bit gray and rainy but it always seemed to clear and be nice for a while.
We also ate our way through the city. Wow it's expensive, but I now have 2 things on my list of best things I ever ate. 1. Salted caramel gelato from Bella Gelatoria on Burrard Street. YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS!!

Hands down the best thing I ever ate. I made everyone go there twice!
2. Crab cake at Le Crocodile- French food is not only delicious but it is always pretty to look at.
(I gained 4 pounds in 4 days...yikes)

We stood and watched the float planes land and take off right there in the harbor.
It kind of made my heart skip a beat to watch them come in at such a steep angle, look like they would never get off the water when they took off, and knowing that Paige will eventually be on one of those planes to go do court reporting/stenographer duties in Victoria. We didn't go to Victoria- but next time hopefully we can do that. It's 15 minutes to Nanaimo and a bit longer to Victoria by plane- 5 hours on the ferries. Both make my stomach turn but that's what they make gravol for, right? You only live once on this earth.
We also saw a bit of this...
Nap time- I guess we were just too much for the munchkins. Paige and Eric couldn't keep up with us.
On Sunday, we also got to be there for Eric's ordination to the Aaronic Priesthood. We will go back in the spring for Eric to be made an Elder. Happy days and Huzzah! We are truly blessed.
As AMERICAN Thanksgiving is almost upon us, I have so much to be grateful for.
A husband who spoils me totally and completely rotten and supports everything I do. 3 children who are the most amazing human beings and are my life, 2 son in laws who love my daughters and put up with our Robinson ways, 3 grandsons who have given me nothing but shear joy and bliss, goodly parents who gave me the perfect childhood and now face life's hardest challenges with little complaint, extended family who I see rarely but are always in my heart and have shaped my life more than they know, friends who support me, keep me company and amused and accept me even when I do and say stupid things, a job with good honest people who push me to better artwork, fairly good health to still play and hike and do the things that bring me joy, and most of all, a faith and testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And this year I am especially thankful for a sweet niece who when I was at my very worst gave me the very best of herself and forgave me for being small minded. Linds- I can never take back hurtful words, but I will never forget the lessons you taught me.
Happy thanksgiving to all and if you are ever in Canada- don't skip Alberta on your way to BC- both are beautiful in their own ways, EH!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I hate that cat!

Here's why- among other reasons. Last Sunday I came home from church and there were bird feathers ALL over my closet. I cleverly deduce that there has got to be a dead bird SOMEWHERE in there, (no shizzz, Sherlock...ya think?) but I can't find it. Stewart and I tear everything out of the closet- no small feat -and we couldn't find it. I am chucking shoes and pants and hiking equipment left right and center, all the while cringing because at any minute I am going to find that little beat up body and I just KNOW it's going to fall on me or touch me-SHUDDER! SO we figured maybe she ate it. Don't know why I thought that because she never eats them, just leaves them for us to dispose of. So we ignore it. I vacuumed up the feathers, put everything back and went about my business- knowing full well that at some point I am going to smell dead bird. The next day the cat is making a horrible sound. Kind of guttural and growly. And the day after that she can't meow at all- which is actually kind of nice, because she meows like she is being strangled and it's loud and annoying and wakes me up 2-3 times a night. Maybe she really did eat that bird and now it's lodged in here throat! BWAHHAH serves her right. It's not all bad, mind you. She just kind of squeaks or has that growly sound, which is actually quite funny. She sounds kind of like the girl in the Exorcist- I know that cat is possessed but now she even sounds like she is. It's a little scary.
So last night I walk in my room and I smell this dead smell, and I know there has GOT to be a dead bird in there- We again took EVERYTHING out of the closet and still we couldn't find it. GAHHH! The guy is at our house putting in carpet. I wonder could it be a glue smell? Nice try- it's not glue, dang it, and I know it. Maybe it's my hiking boots. That is a good possibility. They do get a good work out. I bravely stick my nose in my boots. CH#@UZ**SUSH! nope- not them- they stink but it's not the same stink. I throw all my shoes out of the closet. (seriously would you ever wear all these shoes...EVER???)

SIDE NOTE: Why do we keep every pair of shoes we've ever owned? Because our feet never gain weight or sag or get wobbly bits like the rest of us. They just hang out down there always being the same and shoes are easy to buy because you don't look fat in shoes, right? Think about it.

So yes, now all the shoes are all over the bedroom and I can't smell the smell in the closet as much-That should have been my clue- but no- I still think that tiny corps is in there, but can I find it? NO sir. I look into ever single shoe! No bird. I can't smell it now, so again I ignore it but for good measure, I douse the entire closet and it's contents with fabreeze. Now it smells like dead bird and purfume...really strong perfume. I am now thinking at some point this dead bird will become a skeleton and then it won't stink and my life will go on as before, ignorance is bliss and all.... SHUDDER! But I have to go help put stuff back in the newly carpeted rooms, so I leave the graveyard for now, in the hopes that it will just magically disappear.

Stewart came downstairs about an hour later and shoves my running shoe under my nose and says is this what you smelled? I am thinking "Well dang, you dolt, it's a running shoe. Of course it's not going to smell like roses!" GAG- it's the dead bird! Shoved right down low in the toe so I couldn't see it. Stewart wants to know why I didn't check ALL the shoes, and I said I did! I looked into every blessed one of them. BUT I was most certainly NOT going to shove my hand down into all those dark dank shoes with the knowledge my hand was going to light upon a dead, smelly, squishy bird.
ANOTHER SIDE NOTE! Have you ever felt a dead, lifeless anything? I don't know what it is but touching lifelessness is not something I relish. Once my old boyfriend had some huge geese he had shot and for some unknown reason I picked one up by the throat. I pride myself on not being a screaming girl. I dropped that bird so fast and yup- I screamed. Oh the shame. I will never forget how it felt. Soft but lifeless and limp and not at all what I expected..(not sure just what I expected) but ever since then touching something dead is not a pleasant experience.

My running shoe is now out in the garage, minus one bird, but not allowed back in the house. I don't quite know what to do with it. Right this very minute I am thinking about the horror that might have ins-sued should I have attempted to put that shoe on my unsuspecting foot. OH MY GOSH!!!! pfff - I don't love running, who needs running? I really do hate that cat!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

living wills and living eulogies!

This is a long one- written mostly for my own posterity and benefit. Proceed with caution: (Picture the school teacher in the Peanuts cartoon. wha WHAAH blah blah wha whaaaa wha!) Here I have been nagging Paige to get blogging and I notice quite sheepishly that she blogged 2 weeks ago and I hadn't blogged for 3 weeks...hhhmmmm-
Well I went to Utah last week to visit my parents. Might I just say here that someone took the Salt Lake City that I grew up in and replaced it with a bunch of crazed money grabbers! Recession? What recession? Apparently nobody in the state of Utah has heard you shouldn't live beyond your means...could be why Utah has the highest debt per ca pita in the USA, and I have heard tell they are the biggest consumers of Prozac. umm hummm. Can you say keeping up with the Jones'? I know I shouldn't judge or paint the entire town with the same brush but it's a crazy place these days. Just my gut reaction and I am sticking to it.
I did have such a great time with my Sister in Law, Cathy. Just talking (and yes, just the a tiniest bit of gossip) for hours and going to lunch and long walks was a slice of heaven- with just a bit of mischievous hell mixed in for good measure. I miss my brothers and sister in laws. It was amazing to see a good part of my nieces and nephews, all grown up and being parents to fun and rambunctious little kids. I AM MISSING THIS PART OF MY LIFE- PEOPLE!!! I visited with Melissa and Harper. Melissa and Keller are in the final weeks of adopting a baby. My fingers are crossed for them! We even tied a quilt one night. I got to see Megan and Shawn and Megan's new baby, Evangeline. What a cute little thing!! We had a dinner at Scott and Caths with Ian and Gracie, Joe, Lindsay, Indie and Isaiah. I had never met Joe or Indie so that was a treat.
I also went to dinner with some of my best friends from...I was going to say High School but we went to kindergarten through high school together and we have been fast friends all these years. Lots of laughs and some tears as well, because just two days before our date, Kris buried her Mother. Rest in peace, Louise.
This brings me to the reason I went to Utah. My parents. As I have gotten kids and grand kids and moved 12 hours away, and lets face it, become totally absorbed in my own life's challenges, I have neglected my parents. That is not something I am happy to admit to, but it's true. I feel bad about it. I need to repent and be better. Especially because it's a known fact that 85 and 83 year olds don't live forever- maybe not even for another year. As we sat and talked about Kris's Mom and the struggles with being the "sandwich" generation, Kris mentioned she had no regrets. I realized that this could be me next and I think I most definitely would have one regret. I have not been a very good daughter. I have not spent near enough time with my parents and they are aging and struggling and I don't know what to do about it. How can I help when I am so far away? What will I do when they can't take care of themselves? How do you take care of parents and work and take care of your family too? It's a dilemma to be sure. One I haven't done well with so I tend to put it out of my mind.
My Mom and I talked until 3 in the morning one night- about life and death and living wills and all that kind of scary stuff nobody likes to think about. As Kris read us her Mothers eulogy, I started to think, why do we wait until a person is dead to say all those nice things? We want living wills don't we? - so I am going to do a living eulogy! I know- it's a contradiction, but just go with me here. This week I will living eulogize my Mom- If I did both parents- it would be too long so I will split them into two blogs...
Ella Joyce Andrus Davis- that's my mom- See mom-look at how impressive all those names are. Look how many names YOU got! sigh.

My Mom is an amazing example of someone who serves others. I do not remember many times my Mom taking time just for herself. I am sure somewhere in her life she did, but in my mind all I see is Mom working. She cooked and cleaned, canned food, laundered and ironed and made my clothes. She served in the church and I think the one and only thing she did for herself was go bowling and even then I thought she did it to win turkeys for our thanksgiving dinners. I learned to work by watching her. I learned to serve in the church by watching her. I learned that when you say you'll do something you do it and you do it well. You never just not show up!
My Mom thinks of her husbands need before her own. I should have learned this from her but it doesn't stick all the time.

I got my sense of humor from her and my love of animals. I loved watching how my mom doted on our dogs. I get the feeling they were her one indulgence, as she didn't have many of those.
My mom is honest. She tells it like it is, but she tells it with some humor. But she doesn't take guff, except from Dad. Dad can get away with guff. I watch her swallow words I would have said and marvel at her patience and compassion. She doesn't believe in doing for another what they could and should do for themselves, but she is very giving when a person is in need.
I never heard my mom cuss. Hells bells or bat out of hell doesn't count. I do remember those once in a while. I did hear one cuss- once and only once- and I mention it because it was a one time never to be repeated or forgotten, mark this on your calendar thing, and to me that is a miracle. She was a new Relief Society President in a ward that had just been formed from 2 other wards. It was tough! She worked like mad to try and pull those women together. She had worked for hours making 3x5 cards of every woman in the ward- with all their info- phone numbers, birthdays, kids, husband, jobs, everything about that person she needed to know at a glance. Very organized and efficient which are 2 other qualities she sports.
Well she and I were coming home from church and it had been raining. She went to get out of the car and in trying to avoid the mud and water in the gutter, she knocked the card box into the gutter and all the cards fell into the mud and rainwater. She said the S word. I distinctly heard her say it and I remember it like it was yesterday because she NEVER said it and has never said it since. That was the day I realized my mother was a human being. Up until then she was Saint Joyce and to my knowledge had never done anything wrong. I seriously never saw or heard my mom do something she shouldn't do or say. I honestly was most shocked that she even knew that word.

Mom is a true worker bee. Even if she did sit down to watch TV, she was sewing, darning(who does that?) knitting or crocheting. Never just sitting. I NEVER saw my mom sick in bed. NEVER! Not once. I remember thinking my mom had some kind of super human body because she never got sick. I know now that she probably did get sick but she just worked through it.
I did not learn how to play from my mom. I learned that from Dad. I will write Dads living eulogy next week so stay tuned! Not that he didn't work!!! Quite the contrary. But he knew how to play too. Sometimes I think Mom didn't play enough.

Mom taught the boys in scouts for years. She was the president of all the organizations in the church except Young Woman's. She didn't have much use for silly girls.Good thing she only got one. She was a counselor more times than I can count and a teacher many times over. She also served 3 missions with my Dad for the church. And she still teaches today.
I tell you this next tid bit because it is the only time I saw my mom REALLY let here hair down.
Our ward went to Bear Lake to waterski for a week every year. It was the highlight of the year and is to this day one of the highlights of my life. One year the kids started a small but respectable water fight. Soon the adults joined in and not soon after that, we kids got out of it and sat back and watched these adults who we respected and awed because they were the spiritual leaders and men and women who ran the church and our world, and they were saints one and all. They went INSANE!!! They were running around drenching everyone in site. No one was immune. People would drive up the beach and park and get out of their car and splat- instant baptism. I had never seen any of these adults act like that. And then there was my mild mother, for all intents and purposes, in an outer body experience because that was NOT my mom. She was now in a frenzied pack of women who were formerly our primary and young women leaders but now turned into demented water witches drooling and chanting... ALL MUST BE WET!!! Jim Lindsley had tried to escape them by running into a trailer and locking the door. The witches grabbed a kid- Jane Shields I think it was, and made her crawl through an outside storage door that was 12 inches wide. They just kept shoving poor Jane in that tiny hole, hoping she would unlock the door for them. Jim knew it was only a matter of time before he got wet, so he ran out of the trailer and jumped in the lake before the banshees could get to him. Well they were not happy with that. That was too easy for him. So my mom went into the trailer, got an armload of Jim's clothes, ran to the lake and she and the rest of the harpies proceeded to stomp all of his clothes into the water. I remember thinking who took my mom and replaced her with this thing? It was beautiful, wonderful, and glorious. I truly did not know she had that in her. I wish I could have seen more of that!

Words that I would use to describe mom are wise, practical, efficient, giving, organized, confident, compassionate, humble, independent, humorous, thoughtful, devoted, spiritual, strong, sensible, smart, down to earth, thrifty, honest. She is not worldly, self absorbed or selfish, mean, spiteful, frivolous, flighty or insensitive.

She lives by these adages: use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, give a man a fish you feed him for the night, teach a man to fish you feed him for his life, give a mouse a cookie...hhhmmm... She does not like being taken advantage of and she never takes advantage of anyone else. She is not one to ask for help- even now at 83. She is not someone who spends time or money on herself much. Most things she buys or does are for someone else.

Mom has many talents. I told someone once she could embroider, cross stitch, knit, crochet or sew a dump truck if she had to. She even made all the drapes for our house. Not just little toppers- full length huge hummers! Crazy says I!!! She is a good cook. Except Dad makes her cook meat until it is a hockey puck, but she is just cooking it like he likes it. WELL DONE. She keeps a spotless house, for the most part she kept spotless kids, taught us right from wrong in no uncertain terms, takes on any church job and does it well, never complains unless she feels someone isn't pulling their weight and then she shows them by example or teaches them how to do it right. Mom has a knack of saying what needs to be said. She doesn't skirt around the subject or think she needs to sugar coat things. But sometimes she doesn't say how she really is- if you ask her how she is she will always say oh I'm fine- even though she isn't. She just doesn't feel the need to put her burden on anyone else. That may change...but I doubt it.

Mom was a good daughter. I should have learned that lesson better from her. She spent time with her parents and was very much in their lives weekly if not daily. She made sure they were always taken care of in their later years.

She took people into our home and made them welcome and if they had the time she fed them. She would stay up at night and talk to us after our activities. She was always home when we came home form school. I can only count on one hand the times she wasn't there and those times she was helping someone else out. She disciplined us with fairness and consistency, dang it. What she said she meant and you knew it.

I do know that when my mom does graduate from this life to the next, she will be welcomed as a valiant servant and she will calmly and efficiently go right to work doing what she has always done and knows best. Serving others.

I wish my mom could have had more fun in her life. I wish she hadn't worked so hard, but that is what she just did and her example has helped me in my life. I wish that she wasn't burdened with aging, and I wish I was closer so I could help her more. I wish I was more like her. And I wish for her a quick and painless graduation day. What ever comes though I know she will try to do it without much fuss or burden to others.
I love you Mom.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Deep Thoughts...?

WOW- how time flies! True confession- I am not sure what to write about- thus the 3 week lag. I do, however, love lists so maybe I will just blab on about 10 random thoughts-which to be honest is all I really ever have, so what's new. These thoughts are not so very deep, as the blog title may suggest, and a pre-mentalpausal brain might not be the best place to root around in but- pfff - it's my blog, my thoughts. Actually, I should have titled this epistle "weird and or quirky things I do or think and wonder if anyone else does or thinks the same thing"...but that's painfully long. These aren't "Island of Misfit Toys" weird like you need to keep your children away, just a bit quirky says I.

1. Why do I work like a dog for 9 months, just seeming to wait for the summer so I can go play at the lake , and then most of the time at the lake I am wanting September to come so I can get back to a normal schedule??? I told you they were weird thoughts.

2. I have my hair cut by the same hairdresser a few times and when I don't like it , I want to change to another hairdresser but I am scared the first one will see me and be mad. And heaven forbid you change to another stylist in the same salon! Maybe that only happens in a small town, but that's a bit quirky. But really- have you ever wanted to rage at the stylist after they "style" your hair 4 3/4 inches above your head? I present the following rage that has popped into my head..."SERIOUSLY? That's the best you can do? Would you wear YOUR hair like this? Of course not. Look at you. Your hair is cute, hip and in style. Do you figure that just because I am older, I want to look like a throwback from Boy George?" You drive home all hunkered down in the seat praying you don't see anyone you know. Heck they wouldn't know you with that hair but they might wonder who is driving your car. I am only that brave in my head. I would never actually say that. On second thought, there may come a day when I am senile for real and that tirade may just come spilling out and then where will I of those old ladies that does her own and ends up with Easter colored hair, most likely. Oh the shame.

3. I fret and stew for months on end trying to make myself get an appointment for a mammogram. In all fairness, it's not the most pleasant experience. Sort of akin to repeatedly slamming your "mamm" in the refrigerator and then leaving it there whilst some total stranger makes small talk and tells you to hold still and don't breathe. I always want to chirp out " Well actually, just this very minute I was going to wiggle like crazy and take whopping, big huge breaths, in and out, in and out, just fill those lungs with life giving oxygen, but just for you, you are so darn sweet, I'll just hang hear. I'm all but breathless!" I hate those tools of the devil masquerading as medical tests. Colonoscopy? Don't even get me started. I know I know, they are for my own good but who thinks up these things? What demented brain conjures up the actual procedures? I can't even go there.

4. I have a hoarding problem. I know there are people out there who hoard fabric. My obsession isn't pathological, and I don't think I suffer from disposophobia. I hoard paper. Pretty paper, stationary, paper with interesting textures, paper bags, wrapping paper, scraps and big pieces alike. When last I was in New York, my friend took me to a hand made paper store and for sure and certain I had died and gone to mashed up pulp heaven! 2 hours, and $300 later I exited the store, drooling and mumbling, clutching my roll. Said roll of bliss had it's own seat on the subway. I don't know what I am going to do with it, I certainly can't CUT any of it. I am in hopes that some day when the novelty wheres off, some of it will end up in some artwork. And don't ask me to throw away a pretty gift bag. Unthinkable!

5. I can't hang my foot or arm over the bed. I have tried. I don't know if it hails from some childhood fear of Chester the Molester or Scary Larry being under there and grabbing my foot or arm but I just can't do it. Arms and legs inside the ride at all times is my motto! I don't even like to kneel by my bed to pray. I always want to kneel ON the bed. But Stewie doesn't think that's kosher so I have learned to kneel beside the bed... but please hurry!

6. I buy something new and then don't wear it, saving it for some special occasion that never comes. It only lasts for a month or two and then it's a slow process, only wearing it now an then. Until it gets paint on it. Then it's no big deal. Maybe I should just save myself the anguish and splat paint on everything new the minute it enters the house. All my clothes get paint on them at some point. Maybe that's where this stems from, but don't bet on it.

7. I love sarcasm. I am inexplicably drawn to sarcastic people. I love the humor. It is top notch humor in my book. It gets me into trouble more times than I want to count or remember. I should stop. I will stop when they stop. This is me stopping...hehehe.

8. I sit in the same seat every week at church. I get really ticked off when someone sits in my stall. If it's a Ned new guy, I give them the benefit of not knowing better, but if it's a regular, man that makes me mad. They should know that's my seat. I think they do it just to spite me! I know I am not the only one like this because our entire congregation does it. I don't go for the back row anymore in sacrament meeting- I am past that- but in classes- yea, there I am at the back. That would be me.

9. Are you a Mr. potatoes and gravy can't touch Mr. vegetables or salad? I used to be. I used to eat one thing on the plate at a time as well, until I had kids and actually wanted hot food. I learned to shovel it in and if all the Mr.s on the plate mixed and mingled, it was ok because they were all going to the same place anyway.

10. If you are still reading I will put one more just to make it an even 10. I have to "accomplish" something. Every day. I could never just sit and read a book the entire day. Except at the lake, I give myself permission to laze about. Even when I am sick I have to clean the room I'm in.- I don't recall many times of entire days in bed- just snatches here and there. Except when I was pregnant the first time. Oh man was I ever green! I did lay around then. If I get an inner ear infection I have to stay flat too- but it makes me barking mad. Heaven help me if I ever broke my back or something and had to lay still for a long time. Just shoot me.

There you have it. If you can admit to some of these quirks, please do- if not- I don't really want to know how weird I am so just humor me. Pat my head, nod and smile.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Now that will get your blood pumping!

Awe, the joys of nature! Every summer we pack up 82% of our belongings (this usually takes 3 or 4 trips) and head south to West Glacier and Lake Five, where we camp, water ski, fish, water ski and water ski. This year as you may already know from past posts, I also trained for and completed a small triathlon. While in the midst of said triathlon training, I borrowed a very nice and expensive street bike. I made the mistake of saying out loud that said bike was really groovy. So on my 33rd wedding anniversary, Stewart surprised me with a new nice and very expensive street bike of my own. I should say here that I really wasn't all that surprised because this is what always happens in the life of someone related to Stewie. Actually, you don't even need to be related. Close friends have received items they commented on. You say you like it, or you express interest in it, or you play with the toy once and look remotely interested in it, soon it will be yours. My hiking buddies want Stewart to do their shopping and outfit them for the trail as he has done for me, but I keep this to myself because I would have to declare bankruptcy. Example, I commented on another fellow hikers wide mouthed platypus water bottle for hiking, thus allowing for a slice of lemon in the water and the next week I had one, complete with a brush and cleaning supplies. This is how we roll at our house. Stewart is very generous and kind but has a severe shopping addiction. The internet, coupled with thrift stores has amlified this addiction a hundred fold. Oh well, it is what it is, eh! I digress- on with my original story.

Having a new bike required road testing, which I did post haste. I road to the highway and back and then decided to test the uphill gears. Smoooooth! This expensive bike was expensive for a reason! But hey, let's not get carried away, so I turned around. I had gone quite a bit further up hill than normal so thankfully I was able to shift down all the way before it happened. Picture it- I am all alone on a back road with no shoulder in Montana, so just in case a car comes, I am hugging the side of the road like a good responsible biker. I am going pretty fast but thinking in my head, "I better not get too carried away" - because I flew out of the campground without my helmet. Safety first. Just when I am enjoying this ride, I hear some extremely loud crashing noises to my right. I turn my head and there 5 feet from me is the biggest most ginormous very round and huge, large, big BIG bear. I could have run right over his toes-but I swerved like any kind biker would. That would possibly have ticked him off- YA THINK???!!!
I am very ashamed to admit that the first words out of my mouth were not G rated. I did preface those "S" words with a "HOLY", which should count for something...a prayer of sorts, don't you agree? And let me tell you, that expensive bike was worth every penny, because it fairly sprouted wings and flew down that road. I mused as I peddled for my life that I hoped he wasn't running after me because I knew if I turned my head to look and see if he was behind me I would most assuredly crash my new shiny expensive bike, so I just kept peddling and praying my PG rated prayer and soon I was back to the campground, where I did have to slow down to turn. That is when I thankfully saw he hadn't followed me.
I told the family about my encounter. Pffff, big deal Mom. Paige and Eric did give me the satisfaction of making their eyes get a bit bigger, but Kurt's comment was "Mom, God wouldn't save you from the bear with that mouth." hmmm-
You may think this is the end of the story...OH CONTRARE!
The next day a few other people came upon this bear and they too commented on how big it was. They were lucky, they were in their cars. Then one day on the beach we look way across the lake and there is a bear in the water. I can tell right away this was not my bear because he wasn't big enough. A few days after that, I have skied once and just finished my swim, the lake has returned to glass so it's time for another ski. I step to the beach infront of the boat, dawn my life jacket, grab my gloves and pick up my ski. Stewart says you better hurry, which he always says lest someone beat us out onto the lake and steal my glass. This time was different though. I start looking around to see who the offensive glass stealer is and there walking right down the beach toward me is a bear. Not my bear mind you, but a pretty sizable bear none the less and he is walking straight toward me. I have one glove on, I throw the other one at the boat and tell Stewart to GO! He says you don't even have your ski on. I don't care just go. He drives the boat out in the water and throws me the rope. I have my ski on my foot but not done up and I don't care. The bear is now where I was standing on the beach. Stewart is enjoying the view- and why shouldn't he? He is out in the water in a boat, but I am laying there like chicken on a string. I yell hit it and manage to hang on with my ski boot flapping and only one ski glove on, but I am up and happy to be away from the bear. I usually ski around the lake twice, but this morning I am opting for maybe six times around. But on the second pass I can't see the bear, so I let go and swim in to find a present from my new friend...a big pile of fresh bear poop complete with five pounds of undigested berries, sitting where my ski usually sits. Thank you very much. I reason berries are better than people parts, especially my own people parts. I think he was miffed because he wanted a turn on the ski. We can see the bushes moving and figure the bear is refilling his system with more berries which is better than filling his system with me. I am safe for now.
Story is still not over.
Later that day, the beach is now packed with people. I am out on my floaty, tied to a buoy, reading my kindle, loving life, wishing I had thought to bring a pop and chips with me. I hear people yelling and screaming and I look up to see my furry friend from this morning walking back down the beach. He is now six feet away from Stewart, Paige and Eric, who sit there calmly watching him. Then the dog barks. The bear runs and finally Stewart gets to have a little adrenaline rush, as he actually got out of his chair and at least turned around to watch where the bear was headed. Paige and Eric just sat there. ??????? How can they just sit there not even phased????
I don't get it. How can they be so calm? I am terrified of bears. Maybe it's because every summer while I was growing up, we went to Yellowstone and the bears were as thick as flies and they were always roaming all over the campground and my dad, being the enthusiastic photographer that he was, would give me and my brothers slices of bread, sit us on the hood of the car and tell us to feed the bears so he could take pictures. SERIOUSLY!!! What the schmeellll was he thinking? Talk about instilling your kid with nightmarish terror!
I have hiked the Glacier and Waterton mountains for 15 years and have only encountered bears two or three times. I actually hiked with a man who had been attacked by a mother grizz. His name is Johan Otter- Look him up!!! He was back 2 years after his attack hiking the same trail with the helicopter crew who rescued him and his daughter, and a National Geographic camera crew. His story was on TV. He showed us his scars and told us his story. His daughter, who was also attacked, had started that day with him and the camera crew, but was too traumatized to continue. It was quite a day!! I have a healthy respect for bears and more than a healthy fear of them, apparently.

Mr. bear walked across the beach three more times that day until the beach was pretty much empty. The fish and game guy was called. He wanted to set up a trap. Hmmm... maybe not right in the campground, ya think? He would have had 13 kids in that trap. But Ron, the man who owns the campground, took his German Shepherd dog and herded Mr. bear out of the campground and far down the road. I don't know if the bear came back. We came home. But we are headed back down to retrieve now 89% of our belongings and cart it all home. I guess we will find out if he's still lurking about. Maybe this time he'll want to wake board.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Have you missed me?

Long time no see from me-eh! So much has been going on. Who ever said summer is a time to rest? It's been non-stop action around here. SO I will make a list and you can all say WHEEW at the end.
1. At the beginning of May we all went up to Edmonton for a trip to the West Ed mall and indoor water slide and amusement park. It was amusing. Roman went on every ride, Finn not so much. We did coax him onto the train, but he was very serious. We had also gone to attend Paige's graduation. Poor Paigie pooh (heavy on the pooh part) got food poisoning and ended up in the hospital, so she and Eric missed the water park. The waterslides were a blast. Finn liked it a bit more than the roller coaster stuff. Paige actually pulled it together enough to go to her graduation. She was in a 2 year, very intense court reporting and closed captioning course which only 5 of the 24 people finished in the 2 years. Paige was the 5th to finish- on her last testing she passed her last speed on the LAST day! Nothing like cutting it close! She said her new motto is just enough just in time. I like it!
2. Two weeks before we went to the Lake(you will hear me talk about "the lake" alot so explanation's are in order: Lake Five is where we have camped and water skied all summer for about 16 years. It's by West Glacier National Park so if you are in that area, drop by!) Anyway- 2 weeks before we went for the first time I was madly trying to get as much work done as possible so I could play all summer. I got a request from an art licenser to illustrate a children's Christmas music book- piece of cake...NOT. Well I actually did it and had the files sent to them the morning we left for the lake- just enough just in time again! Unfortunately, it rained for 8 days straight! I skied but man it was chilly! We had 2 good days and then the rain came back. I called it quits and we came home because.......
3. Eric got baptized! Huzzah and hurray! On Stewart's birthday, we got an email from Paige and Eric . They had drawn a picture of Eric in a blue box and Paige at the side clapping her hands and saying hallelujah. I didn't get it at first but Stewart did. You could hear us scream all the way to West Glacier! We attended Eric's baptism, then helped move and clean Eric and Paige's apartment. They will be living with us for the summer and then moving to Vancouver BC where Paige has a job(or 2 or 4 )lined up. She is quite in demand there!
4. We went back to the lake in July and played there for 2 weeks. I also trained for the super sprint Raymond Triathlon, which I actually finished on July 30. Hurray for me! Whitney and I did it together and it was really fun(except the run part) How a former soccer player could let herself get so far gone is a mystery to me...I am talking about myself. Whitney kicked my trash! I did quite well in the swim and on the bike but oh my grock, the run about killed me. I was out of gas! But I have a nifty tee shirt to prove I did it and I won my age division...there were only two of us old fogies, but hey, a win is a win!
5. I have been working the last 2 weeks and on Thursday last, I almost died....for real. I am happy to report I am still alive but just barely. My hiking club-The Mountain Mamas- well I should explain us. We have been hiking every Thursday for 15 years. These 15 or so women are my closest, dearest friends. We have drug each other up and down mountains, through many of the hardest storms life can throw at you: cancer, wayward children, weddings, church callings, bike crashes, aging parents and death, stupid children, grand children and yes, rain, hail, snow, dark, wind, bears, moose, sun and heat. We have laughed, cried and panted across Waterton peeks and Glacier trails. If I did not have these women in my life, I would not be a happy person, and I think I may not have made it through life's most challenging times. We are famous in these parts, and impressive in our own minds! But sometimes we take on a bit more than we can last Thursday. We thought we would toddle our way up Sofa Mountain. The word Mountain should have tipped us off- I can honestly say this is the scariest thing I have ever done in my life and the only thing that got me up that rock cliff was fear. I only went UP because down was even worse! I will try to post some pictures- you know me and technology- but the pictures do not do it justice. Suffice it to say that when I showed the pictures to my son Kurt, his eyes got big, he paused for a moment and then said "Mom, you guys are so stupid!" YUP!
This is just a part of the mountain- the part we had to come down...

This is the part we had to go up!

I look happy, eh! NOT! I freely admit I was soooo scared that when I got to a spot where I could stop clinging to the rocks, I was almost in tears and shaking so bad that Norma made me eat a chocolate mint bar. I said I am not hungry, she said eat it anyway- it will calm your nerves. Bear in mind that we have already climbed 2000 feet up to this point and there is nothing below us but air...and sharp rocks...and fear of having to look down!

This is not the top- there were 3 more sets of this stuff to climb. You can just make out the river clear down there in the top corner of the picture. hhhmmm Kurt was right, very prophetic of him. BUT you should see what we had to come DOWN!

ummmhummm this is down. A good time was had by...none. Well some of these silly women liked this stuff, but we have all decided that walking the next day was almost more painful than the actual hike, and going down stairs...forget it! See that rock lump in the top left hand corner- that was the up cliff.

One last picture to stop your heart. What goes up must come down, dang it!

Well enough of that. We are headed back to the Lake tomorrow for the rest of the summer. We will all be there for 8 days. My entire family together. It just doesn't get any better than that. The summer of 2011 will be one of the most memorable in my life. Great family, great adventures, great times. I LOVE MY LIFE...and I love it even more since I almost lost it on that mountain.

A fond farewell from all of us on top of the world!

side note: It took us a few minutes to actually stand up after this picture. OOOOOF!

Friday, July 1, 2011

CTR- not what you might think...

In Mormon-dom, CTR usually means Choose The Right. But not if you live in Raymond, Alberta Canada. Here, it means Come To Raymond. It is the first of July- Canada Day- and I am up at 5 am- what is with that?? I now live in Canada where it gets light in the summer at 3:45 AM!!Being an American, the first of July shouldn't be that big of a deal. But having lived in Canada for 21 years now, the first of July is kind of a big little deal. If you have never experienced a first of July in Raymond, Alberta- you haven't lived. For a small town of about 4500, they do it up BIG...HUGE! It is THEEEE place to BEEE! There is a family softball tournament- These games are taken quite seriously-family honor and all. I usually listen to more than watch because the mossies will eat you alive. But it's almost in my backyard, so I can hear when someone makes a good play. There is a 5 or 10 K run, a pancake breakfast, basketball tournaments, the hokiest parade you've ever seen but anyone can enter and it's a hoot. Each kid comes away with no less than one pound of candy. It amazes me how all of southern Alberta shows up for this event. The town quadruples in size. Sometimes there are car shows, a fair in downtown Raymond(which consists of one block of stores and businesses) but it's so small town it's a must do with the grand kids. There is a program and dance-which I avoid like the plague. Oh wait -I did go once when Stewart's Dad was the honorary cowboy. There is a huge rodeo- The Raymond Stampeed- first rodeo in Canada...Not sure if that's true but it's also gigantic - 2 days of it, literally in my back yard as we live on the street that buts up to the fairgrounds. I love to watch all the horses. One year there was a fancy schmancy horse group from the states with about 20 totally matched horses with checkerboards cut into the hair on their rumps- sounds very weird but they were beautiful horses- all precision riders and such. Fancy until they got out of the fairgrounds somehow and Stewart and I had to try to heard them all back in the gates. Fun times! Also in my backyard are the fireworks... at 11pm because dang it takes forever to get dark this far north! I love that you can walk or drive around town and there are gigantic family picnics in every yard. You can stop in at any one of them and eat yourself silly, because you know almost everyone. Family comes from all over the globe to be in Raymond for the 1st. It's a very big deal and you don't miss it if you can help it. One year Kurt got a hankeren to play his pipes in the parade. So he and his teacher and another student put on the kilt and marched and played the pipes- It was very cool! It about killed Kurt's teacher- it's not a short parade route! And blowing on those things for that long is quite a feat! Very few people even recognized Kurt. Could be because he had on sunglasses, but might also be the kilt and such.
Like most things in Canada, I have learned to love it. We sing all 5 verses of Oh Canada in church and it chokes me up every time. Do I feel disloyal to the United States? Honestly I do a little. The 4th of July used to be my favorite holiday. When we lived in Denver we used to CTR and then rush back for the 4th, so we got both holidays in! And for a while we skipped out on the 1st and went to the lake for the 4th- but our dogs were terrified of the fireworks that went on for an entire week at the lake so we stay home now. HOME. Canada is my home, maybe not my "Native Land", but I have grown very fond of the true north, strong and free. I really mean it when I sing God keep our land glorious and free. In this world, that is a blessing not be be taken lightly. Freedom to live your life the way you want to. Freedom to worship the God of your choice. Speaking of worship, this year we had a special bonus. Our son in law, Eric, was baptised a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a few days ago. I was so excited I couldn't see straight! He is a special young man. I have been blessed with two wonderful son in laws- I think of them as a BONUS! Instant sons with no puking pregnancy! Huzzah!
So I best go make my salad for the family do. Did I mention that I have my entire family here today! Wouldn't miss this day for anything. HAPPY CANADA DAY!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I love to make lists. I especially like to make "things to do lists" and then cross stuff off the list and re-write the list to see that it has become a smaller list. Sounds nuts, I know but I have actually passed this trait onto Whitney. I was at her house one day and she had a bunch of things to do and she had no less than a dozen lists stuck all over her refrigerator. She looked at one, got one eyebrow and yelled downstairs to Brad..."did you do such and such?" Brad said with pride, yes he had. She got all huffy and said "well, don't cross things off the list, I like to do that!" I couldn't hear him, but I am going to go out on a limb here and I will tell you what I think he was saying. ahem- " are you crazy, woman? No thank you for doing the job, just nagging on me because I crossed it off the list...seriously?" The ceremonial crossing of the list is the best part, for Henry's sake!!

I have noticed that a few "blog us fear" folk write a "10 on Tuesday" list. 10 random thoughts or things you did or want to do, that kind of thing. Well heck, I am random!!! That is my self appointed middle name, (since my own sweet mum omitted that tiny detail.)

SIDE NOTE: I actually have many a middle name. I am known far and wide for at least a rural block as "The Queen of IT 'L DO." That is short for- It's good enough for what (or who) it's for, it's done, and if it's only on stage for 2 minutes and nobody will remember it tomorrow so who gives a flying fig and/or they are just going to throw it away so quit with all the froo froo frills, would ya!" Yes. That would be me!

So even though it is actually Saturday, here is my 10 on Tuesday on Saturday.

1. I love watching the Stanley cup finals. I am so sad it's almost over and it will be another 3 months before hockey starts again. Hockey is an amazing sport.

2. I just finished illustrating a Children's Christmas song book. NEVER AGAIN! If I say that the Queen of IT 'L Do took a forced sabbatical because the book publisher was quite particular (imagine the nerve!) and it took 2 tries to get all the pencil sketches approved (pencil sketch? What is a pencil sketch? Thumbnails? Really, you want thumbnails? Check your hands, fussy pants! I never sketch anything! ) and I had to paint the illustrations in watercolor after painting strictly in oils and acrylics for the last 15 years, umm hummm= not my cup-o-postum!!

3. I miss Chief. Terribly. Stewart wants to get another boxer. He found a bunch on line. I said NO! Absolutely not! Right...I will cave, eventually. Who needs new carpet.

4. I love listening to Finn talk. He is my 2nd grandson and he has Verbal Apraxia. That is when there is a glitch in the brain that makes it so your mouth can't form the words your brain is thinking. As I have said many times, wouldn't that come in handy sometimes in life when your mouth decides to actually blurt out the words your brain is thinking but shouldn't. Finn is going to "Talk School" ( speech therapy) and it has been so exciting to watch him start to jabber and talk. He is the funniest little guy. He calls me mamma or bamma- I love it and answer to both.

5. I am going to the Lake on Monday come rain or high water. Well silly me, that is EXACTLY what the weather forecast has called for...flooding and rain. How special. Never fear, I have a brand spanking new full body wet suit and I will be water skiing daily. Count on it!

6. I hiked 2 mountain peaks Thursday, then went to a 1 hour zumba class. I am still alive. AND the amazing part of this is I wasn't sore the next day. That, my friends, is a small miracle at my age! Whoah!

7. I am jazzed beyond words and pee my britches excited that Paige and Eric are coming to Raymond to live with us for the summer before they move to Vancouver. Can you say P.A.R.T.Y? I thought you could! Can you say extra 10 pounds when it's all said and done?

8. I have 3 grandsons- Roman-5, Finn-2 1/2, Oscar- 4 months. They are heaven on legs with matching ties on Sundays! I once asked Stewart if we were this enamored with our own children. (Don't answer that, I whispered.) Being "Bramma" is the sweet dessert to my life's dinner.

9. I am going to attempt a mini triathlon this summer. If I make it, I will blog about it to be sure because you just have to know there will be a great story there, but first I have to squeeze into one of those tight little triathlon suits. There is not enough Lycra in the world......

10. I am so thankful for my family, friends, job, health, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I keep waiting for God to say, "Ok Carol, that's it, you've used up your alotment of good things, you don't deserve anymore." One of the greatest blessings in my life is to look back and see that God's hand has been in my life constantly. I am so very blessed.

Monday, May 30, 2011

technology strikes again!!

Ok folks- something has gone wrong with the comment button. It works on all my old posts but it won't work on the I heart new york post. SOOOOO will somebody try this one and see if it works. My theory is that whilst I was clicking and cussing around trying to put the pictures in the last post, I inadvertently clicked something I wasn't supposed to click and now things are all snafu-ed!
If anyone knows how to fix this problem, please tell me. I went into my settings and made sure everything was kosher, but still it's not working.

Fingers crossed that it's just a one time thing. I live for comments, dang it!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I heart New York!!!

Not withstanding I had to fly in an airplane to get there, I really love New York. BUT...I Love Weehawken New Jersey even MORE!!! If you don't know where Weehawken is, just stand in Manhattan and look across the river. See all those old beautiful houses on the cliff? That is Weehawken, and also Hoboken, which is another great NJ town.

The great thing about these places is they are so close to NYC but you don't hear the noise or have the traffic and your view of Manhattan is AMAZING! These places are like small towns- quiet streets lined with beautiful old homes and trees. I fell in love instantly. Janet Tava, a fellow artist, was so generous and let me bunk at her 100 year old house. She showed me all around her home town and I was smitten. One nice thing among many were the little cha-chittah buses. They call them that either because they aren't full grown buses and they are cheats, or because of the sound they make-I can't remember which, but for $2.50 they get you to Manhattan in about 8 minutes- zip- through the Lincoln tunnel and bang, you are back in the city that never sleeps.
I was there for 4 days and it is all a blur, but I remember one thing. It was amazing.

We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Twice. One trip just wasn't enough! We saw an exhibit of Alexander McQueen at the museum. If you want to see genius, google his exhibit at the Met. It was called "Alexander McQueen, Savage Beauty." Dresses made out of razor clam shells or metal or shiny plastic or feathers - sounds strange but they were gorgeous! He was a British fashion designer who last year killed himself. We commented that we kind of understood why he exited this life... he left it all on that floor! I couldn't imagine having to always top myself like that. Sad- he was extremely talented. The exhibit was mind boggling and breath taking. The art in the Met was also amazing, and yes I blew off my art show to go back the next day. I could live in that museum. Just camp out right under a painting and look at it for hours. All the art that I studied in high school was there- the impressionists that I love- Monet, Degas, Manet, Van Gogh. Pinched myself a few times. All that remarkable talent in one building is overwhelming.

I sat next to a Father and Daughter in the crowded cafeteria and over heard them talking about not understanding the MORMONS. That was all it took- I asked them what don't you understand and we talked for an hour and a half. What a cool experience that was!!! After all it was Sunday. They were excited to see what they could learn about genealogy and finding their family line. They asked a bunch of questions and I did my best to answer them. The Father wanted to know if he was divorced if he could go to heaven- Of course you can go to heaven, silly man. I explained to him about different parts of heaven and eternal increase, which to him translated into eternal S.E.X. He wanted to know if I could hook him up with a Mormon so he could get to the "top level." We had a great time and I hope some of what I told them sticks and they want to learn more. The daughter got very teary a few times, as did I.

My camera battery died and I didn't have a charger so we went to the most incredible store- B&H- if you want a lesson in Jewish efficiency- just go there. OMGOSH! 280 Hasidic Jewish men in full garb-shatnez, tzitzits, yarmulke and forelocks (say that fast three times I dare ya) as far as the eye could see, all lined up at counters where you inquired, ordered, paid for and picked up your camera battery, each step at a different counter-the last counter at the end of the little sky track that brought your order down in bins from on high. They were all buzzing and yelling and looking frazzled because there were no less than one million customers in there. The traffic was directed all by them waving and yelling and it was like being a cow in a feed lot- It was an experience to be sure!

We ate at Katz Deli- where "Harry Met Sally" and the counter guys there YELLED at you to get up hear and order- get over there and pick up you food!!! The pastrami melted in your mouth!
We also went to The Cake Boss where I ate the most delectable thing I have EVER eaten. It's called a lobster tail and its a thousand layers of flaky pastry filled with some kind of custard cream and it did to you what Harry thought was happening to Sally if you get my drift. Well not quite, but almost!

We did go to the Surtex art show- gave cheek kisses to all the Galaxy of Graphics folks then blew out of there to immerse ourselves at some great art supply stores in Soho, where I spent money like it was water. Oh dear- the handmade paper! Another Harry met Sally moment!
The food, the noise, the fact that if you can't find it in NYC, you don't need it and never will need it, the architecture and churches, the people, the diversity, the rain and humidity, hot one second, cold and wet the next, the shopping, the taxi's, the buses, the TRAFFIC, which is INSANE! Not sure I would want to live there. I think I could go for Weehawken in a heart beat though. Yup, I do heart New York!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hail to the Chief!!

If you don't love animals like I do (nobody does-it's unhealthy!) you can go read something else. I just sent chief to heaven. This is a horrible, crappy, sad day.
The first time I met chief he was a stringy puppy living illegally in an apartment of stupid boys in Rexburg, Idaho. He was pretty shy. All the boys said they liked him, but I think one of them didn't because he was very nervous and a bit shy. If I ever find out who abused him, that person is toast. Anyway- the boys got caught with the dog and so his owner took him to Salk Lake to live with his sister, who hated him, didn't want him and kept him in the garage. She decided she couldn't keep him, allergies or some such excuse, and that is where Whitney came in. She called and asked if she could bring him home. GAH! Not another dog. We already had a Boarder Collie. I tried to scare her by telling her she would never get him through the border- She was not deterred. He had papers- pure bread stuff. I said you can bring him home if you find another place for him. She drove all the way home from Salt Lake with him on the front seat, where he accidentally shifted the car into neutral on the I-15 luge! They made it unscathed, barely.
Oh my he was silly looking. He stayed on a bed in the spare room and didn't come out. It was obvious he had been mistreated. Our other dog hated him at first. She growled at him and bared her teeth- like he need that! After a while Stewart got him to come out of the room and Nicky tolerated him but I insisted that Whitney find him another home. There was a lady who had boxers so we took him over to her house to make sure chief would be ok. It looked good- he played with the other boxers and I felt great- this is a good deal. Paige however was not ok. We got in the car and she started to bawl. One of the few times I have seen her cry. I got all mother knows best on her and told her we couldn't keep him, this is a good arrangement, etc. This was a Friday. The lady was out of town for the weekend and said she would pick him up on Monday.
TOO LATE. She came over one more time to see him and I brought him down to the living room. He was acting so scared and shy. I knelt down to try and give him some reassurance and he draped his head on my neck and actually hugged me. That was all it took. We had us a Big Boy Brindle Boxer.
He was always a bit scared of stuff but around our house he was the biggest goof ball. Very affectionate and all 65 pounds of him in the mindset of a lap dog. Always trying to sit on your lap, always with some part of his big body against you or on you. Once I had a really bad inner ear infection and he stayed on the bed next to me for an entire week.
He had what we called the spin move. When he got to go for a walk, he would spin in little circles all over the back yard. He loved to run and he and Nicky would chase each other with no thought for what was around them. One day Chief literally took a friend of mine out at the knees- knocked her flat on her back. You had to watch out for him because he was so big.
When he was about 3 years old we noticed he was limping and trying to walk only on his front legs. Something was wrong. We took him to the vet and he said it was probably his back. This was not good news. Stewart stayed home from a family ski trip to take him to a specialist in Calgary. We found out he had torn both of his ACL ligaments. The specialist could fix him- for $3000.00 a leg. Stew was on board but I thought that was a lot of money. We all cried because I said no-that is just too much money and it was a horrible recovery for the dog. Stewart brought him home so we could all say goodbye. We thought he was just too young to go- there had to be something we could do. We are of the mindset that when you have animals you take care of them and you don't just put them down because they have a chink in their armor. We made a last ditch effort to talk the vet in Lethbridge into fixing Chiefs legs. He said he could do a different operation that was half the cost and the recovery wasn't as hard. So one leg at a time Chief was fixed. The first leg went pretty well, but the second leg was really rough. But he was a trooper, and soon he was back to his old self. Not doing the spin moves- we had to break him of that for his legs sake, but doing great. Until Nicky died.
He turned into an old man over night. He would lay around and sulked all day. SO up to Edmonton Stewart and Paige went and got a female boxer puppy- Mattie, to cheer Chief up. He was a new man!
He lasted for another 7 years, until we knew that he couldn't see very well, or hear and he had some weird things growing in weird places and he snored so bad I had to sleep in another room. We knew he would not be able to make the yearly summer trip to the lake. We knew we wouldn't get any sleep with him snoring like that in the trailer. So today, he went to the vet. He was very excited to get in the truck. Little did he know.
Do dogs really go to heaven? Somebody tell me they do, even if it's a lie. I kind of believe all things that God created are resurrected at some point. Mattie is sitting here looking out the window. It breaks my already broken heart. I hope she doesn't decline because Chief is gone. I am afraid of that. Right now I say no more dogs. I just get too attached. It is much easier when you know they are really sick. Chief was just old. So it's harder.
I loved that dog. His only vice was eating horse poop- yeah, I know it's gross- He was brave and sweet and loving and gentle. He never bit even when the babies would pull his ears or poke him or pet him too hard. He was handsome and big and goofy and I loved him very much. I will miss him every day. I never got tired of petting him or hugging him. I always wondered if the novelty of him would wear off- it never did. Each morning when he snorted and got all feisty, throwing his head around and boxing you with his front paws, it was a treat.
Can you love a dog too much? Yes and no. I know the hurt goes away, thank heaven. But today it's agony.
I love you, Chiefy boy! Rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


So- which are you, ladies? OL stands for old lady- YAH stands for young and hip. Apparently there are strict rules to how one dresses and if you aren't careful, you could fall into the Old Lady category- FOR SHAME!!! I don't think I fall into either category because I dress solely for comfort. That should be it's own category I think.
The rules state if you are all matchy pooh, you are an OL. hmmm- If I pair black with other black then go with more black and accessorize with just a hint of black, am I matchy pooh?

I think I have learned the do's and don'ts. I have made some real fox paws (yes I meant to say it that way) I did do the tights and tunics at one point- but at that juncture in time, it was YAH! And I was skinny. I also went through a coverall stage. What was I thinking???Oh right- cover ALL- says it all don't you think? And the comfort category rides again.
Layers- that is YAH. But then you run into menopause and the more layers you have on the more deadly you become flinging them off in the throws of a hot flash! Nope- no layers for me!
Then there are mom pants. I haven't made that mistake for many years. You do, at some point, know when to stop "tucking!" Well some people never do figure that one out. Sad but true.
I think my problem is I HATE TO SHOP!!!!! I just do NOT get the attraction. I know people who shop 2 or 3 times a week and there are those who shop daily! REALLY? Either on line or walking the malls, it is the most tedious torchure I can think of- I would rather clean toilets! I am not kidding. Here, let's put all these tiny clothes out on racks and have you shuffle through them all, knowing full well they won't look one thing like they do on the hanger once you put it on you!
Let's prove to you once and for all that you really are fatter and shorter than you think you are and you truly are built like a lump, all the while knowing you also have the added insult of paying big bucks at the end of this humiliation. Shoes aren't so bad- my feet haven't changed too much, but swim suits?? Forget about it!
My closet is full of stuff I bought that I have seldom worn because it never fit right in the first place but it's better than going home empty handed. And I hate that when you have some money and you really need something- nothing is cute and nothing fits, but when you are broke- everything looks cute. Happens every time, am I right? The shopping Gods truly despise me!
I have 3 categories of clothes in my arsenal.
1. Church clothes- mostly some form of black-interchangeable, 5 sets as there are only 4-5 given Sundays in a month...easy. Done. And with OL legs- thank the Gods for knee length black boots!!! Those would be what you call an old stand by, especially in Canada- 6 months of the year, and some years you can stretch it to 7 or 8!-WHOOT WHOOT!
2. Comfortable painting clothes, which almost everything becomes at some point in time, (even my pajamas have paint on them)- with the exception of Sunday clothes because I don't paint on Sunday and I am out of that stuff in 8.7 seconds anyway!
3. Hiking, skiing, snow shoeing clothes. Stewart is a lucky guy- he always knows what to get me for my birthday or Mother's day- Hiking stuff!
That's about it- oh and swim suits and wet suits for the summer. I am not a fashion plate- never have been, never will be. Just can't be bothered. Oh dear...I think I just fell into the OL category.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Planes-check, trains-check, extra credit for bus-check, on to automobiles.
My good friend Jackie decided that we needed to go to Utah to visit our respective families. Sounded like a good idea, except that it was in the middle of winter. No worries- in Canada- if you stayed home because it was a bit blustery outside, you would never leave your house. So off we went. After 5 days of- well -staring at the walls because it's also winter in Utah- I had had enough, and when Jack called to ask do you want to go home tomorrow, a day earlier than we planned, I said YES PLEEEEEASE!!! Problem was another huge storm was supposed to hit. We didn't care, we were done like dinner! Looking back on it now- dinner should have stayed in the oven a bit longer because that was one heck of a storm.
We got out of Utah with little incident but when we hit Mallad Pass in Idaho, all traffic had come to a blizzard induced hault. The pass was closed. We sat in the truck under a bridge for a couple of hours. We made our own playing cards out of paper. ummm hmmm it was a good time. When we saw that the snow plows were headed up the pass we squeaked in behind them and drove about 10 miles per hour but we were moving toward home so we didn't care. There was a problem though. The windshield wipers couldn't keep up with all the snow and they were freezing up with ice. Jackie drove with one hand on the wheel and the other one out the window, constantly flicking the wiper on her side, trying to free the snow and ice so she could see. I traveled with my head out the other window attempting to tell her where the side of the road was in case we went in the ditch. A good time was had by...well...neither of us, but hey- we were not sitting in condo's in Utah with our elderly parents trying to entertain ourselves!

Side note. Do NOT get me wrong. We love our parents and it was nice to visit- but after 5 days of it and being stuck inside because of extremely bad weather- you get a little stir crazy. Jackies Dad had Alzheimers, and my Dad had been taking pain killers for some reason and couldn't figure out why he was throwing up all the time- you all know how much I like throwing up so can you understand why it was imparitive that we GO HOME??? I did save my Dad, literally, so it was a good thing I was there- I was the one who figured out why he was so sick. Idiot Doctors- another story for another time-

After 10 hours, we made it to a gas station in Idaho Falls- which should have taken only 4 hours, but we were that much closer to home so we were happy campers. Here is where the fun really starts though. Jackie decides she has had enough with flicking the windshield wipers so she politely asked the gas station attendant if he would replace the blades, a perfectly reasonable request under the circumstances. One teeny tiny problem though: Jackie is a bit blind at the best of times and a tad unobservant. She had not noticed that the attendant was minus one arm. She blissfully walks off to pay for the gas and leaves me in the truck with the one armed man. He was trying his darndest to change the windshield wipers with one hand and he was reeeeealy mad- can you just see it? And there I sit not knowing what to do- should I get out and offer to help? Sure- like I know how to change wiper blades!! Not a clue! I thought, maybe I could just get out and go inside the gas station and hide, but then that would look really rude. No, I just sat there trying not to watch the train wreck in front of me, and that guy was really ticked off. At some point I look over longingly at the gas station and there stands Jackie, first she is looking horrified at the situation, then she must have seen MY annoyed face because she breaks out in very inappropriate laughter which in turn starts my inappropriate laughter. I just hid my face as best I could and prayed he couldn't see my shoulders shaking.

It must be said here that Jackie and I have this very adverse effect on each other- for 33 years now we have been the seemingly insensitive brats in every awkward or embarrassing situation. We should know by now to avoid any eye contact in dire situations because this is what happens. It doesn't help that we are both very easily amused. Like the time we had a self breast examination class for Relief Society, complete with a movie- we shouldn't have looked at each other then either. Or the time I was giving a lesson in Relief Society and the little old ladies who are deaf and don't know how to whisper were really kicking it up making a racket and I looked at Jackie and put my gun finger to my head and pulled the trigger. That was a mistake! It's just an immature sad disaster each and every time, but we can't help ourselves.
I really don't know how the one armed gas man got the blades changed. It took an agonizingly long time. I know because I was stuck in that truck inches away from his angry eyes for the duration thereof. As we drove off, both of us in tears at this poor mans expense, and with me telling Jackie that if she ever did that to me again, I would personally throttle her with my own two hands, we noticed that the blades were still collecting ice and snow and they weren't one bit better. I watched the ineffective blades for a while and then I told Jackie to pull over. I got out and grabbed the wiper, reefed on it for all I was worth and Sheazamm. They worked. The only thing that was wrong with them was they had been pulled out too far by Jackie's constant flicking and they weren't touching the window. The blades that had been replaced by the one armed bandit were perfectly fine. We laughed ourselves silly all the way to Helena, Montana.

We reminisce about this event all the time, and we feel guilty and we try to keep straight faces in honor of the one armed man who replaced perfectly good wiper blades for two ditsy blonds who had no business being on the roads in a class 10 blizzard. We feel kind of bad...really we -snicker,! Honest!

Monday, April 25, 2011


IT"S SPRING....sort of. No buds on the trees yet, but the snow is melted in the yard and there are flowers poking up through the mud. That's good enough for me!!!
Speaking of spring- I promised a story about trains and New York so here it is! SPRING STREET!
A few years ago, I took Paige to New York with me on one of my art show trips. We had such a ball, but yes, Matilda, we had a few country hick moments.
We had met Colleen, my art director and Janet, an artist friend of mine who was born a raised in New York, for a walk through Central Park-BEAUTIFUL, by the way! We were thoroughly and completely google eyed at the richy rich houses on the upper East side. The ending to the day was a trip to Soho. We walked to the subway and found it to be very crowded. As the train pulled in, we saw that the cars were cram packed as well. It's always a crap shoot as to which door to stand in front of and you have to make an uneducated guess as to which car will have room for you. Paige and I got our game on very quickly and being the shrewd strategical wizards that we were, decided to walk a few cars down the track, because no body ever thinks of that! Everybody always tries to get into the middle cars, so we would outsmart them. I told Paige be ready and shove her way in! Big rogo on the rogometer! Got it, Mom, over and out.
The doors open and there is no room in the inn! BUT- I am not to be deterred- we are small, we will fit. So I jump into the 4 inches of space that is left in front of the door, and because Paige is a dutiful daughter, she makes the attempt to follow me. I turn around and see her sweet little face with her huge eyeballs popping, with so much determination to get on the train, but to my horror, Paige is flying into the subway car just as the doors are shutting. I have visions of "the 3rd rail"... (what ever that is- I don't really know what it is but I have heard of it on shows like Law and Order and someone is always dead because of it, so I know it's bad)- It will zap and sputter my youngest child into a crispy critter- so I grab her arm and pull.

Interesting side note. I always thought the doors would pop back open if something was caught in them, but not so! OH NO- They just keeeeeep closing.
Paige is sandwiched in the door half in the car and half out and that can't be good so I yank with all I've got and spfwwip! She lands in the car, with a triumphant smile on her face- WE DID IT!!! We got on that subway car when there wasn't a single inch of room- How New Yorker is THAT! WHOOOAHHH! We look around and we realize just a tad too late that our guide to Soho and points south is still on the subway platform with a look of horror on her face. I am thinking good heavens girl, buck up- you are from New York for Pete sake, you should be good at this catching the train and all. I couldn't believe these two rural Sallies had bested her at jumpin the train!!! I know now that this look of dismay was not because she didn't catch the train. She just couldn't believe we were so insane! As the train pulls out, she snaps back into chaperon mode. I will never forget the site of Janet, running along the subway cars screaming at the top of her lungs- and of course in her thick Hoboken accent "Git aff an Spring Street!!!" SPRIIING STREEEEET!!
Spring street- no problem- got cha! SUCKAS!!
We got off and waited for oh about 2 minutes. (This 2 minutes has great significance)
When Janet and Colleen caught up to us, Janet is most wide eyed and asks us "What were you thinking???" Well, this was our train and we had to catch it, right? We were just making darn good and certain we didn't miss our train. Pretty good eh!
" You realize another one comes along in 2 minutes, right? " IF the train is full, all you have to do is wait for the next one. You don't split Paige in half trying to cram into a full car as the doors are shutting!"
OOOOHHHH! Hadn't thought of that, to be honest! heheheheh
They thought we were such hicks, and we were but man we had some fun in the city that never sleeps! I could tell you about going to the Roxy every night and eating cheesecake until we popped and going to WICKED, and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and walking up Manhattan in the rain so hungry and not being able to decide on a place to eat and Paige is getting low blood sugar grumpies and just when she can't go another step and she is at the end of her rope the wind blows her umbrella inside out!! You had to laugh!! I wet my pants but it was all good because we were soaked anyway. I love New York. I don't even care that I am from Raymond with a population of 4500. I don't even care that I cry when I see the Statue of Liberty and ground zero. Nope- I relish every sight and sound and smell-(well maybe not EVERY smell,) but I do have me some GOOOOOD time in that thar city!
And speaking of spring....
Happy day after Easter. I was so looking forward to Easter Sunday and the spirit you feel at church on that most special of Sundays. I was very disappointed though, when it seems the folks in charge forgot it was Easter or something. No talks on the Savior or his Atonement and Resurrection. So I just had to find things to read and watch on my own. If you haven't watched "The Passion of the Christ" you should. It always gives me such a feeling of gratitude and awe for Jesus Christ, what he went through for all of us, so that we don't have to suffer for our mistakes and weaknesses. I am one very blessed girl from rural Alberta! And watch out New York- I am coming in a few weeks and I am taking on the buses!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Planes, trains, and automobiles.

Well you know about the planes. Enough said on that subject. I don't hate trains. In fact they are pretty fun as far as transportation goes. I had never been on a passenger train so a few years ago, Paige and I had Stewart drop us off in Shelby, Montana, and we rode the Amtrak to West Glacier National Park, which is 8 miles away from Lake 5 where we spend the summers. It was a hoot, and as far as I know, nobody got sick on the train, and if they did they could get to a loo, so no technicolored yawning into a tiny little bag.
SIDE NOTE: Sean Davis-Brads brother, who is an EMT in Calgary and deals with my most hated thing every day, told me to use Vic's Vapo rub, earplugs, and a mask and get on the dang plane already. He calls it the technicolored yawn. Love that- my new favorite saying. Covers all the bases, don't you think!!
I do, however have a love hate relationship with subway trains. I love the fact that once you get your directions straight and you figure out how to use them, you can get around pretty well and for not too much money. But I have had a few mishaps to be sure.
When Whitney and I and Brad went to Greece the spring before Whit got married, we learned the ropes pretty quickly and we were peeling all over Athens in no time. The only problem was that at random, very inopportune moments, the subway workers would go on strike- apparently they had something better to do that day. You would go to get on the train and the doors would be shut with a hand scribbled note stuck to the gate, sometimes in English, mostly in Greek- but we got the gist..ON STRIKE... So we would get stuck in far away places with no way to get back to home base. Well we did try to get a cab. PPPFFF! I am not sure how cab drivers in Greece make money, because all they do is drive around in an empty cab, yelling, honking and smoking. In Greece the proper way to hale a cab is, you stand on the side of the road and yell out where you want to go. So we tried it. All we got was very rude and annoying uplifted chins. Translation- "No freaken way lady, I am not going to interrupt my day to go there. SO we thought maybe they just don't like to turn the cab around. Maybe U turns are some kind of bad Greek karma that might invite the evil eye or something. Maybe we have to be on the other side of the street so that they are already headed North. We tried that- more ignorant chin lifting. We stood there yelling Naonia for 45 minutes until a bus came that was heading north so we just jumped on. We didn't have a clue how to pay, so we didn't, figuring if they really wanted money from us, they could jolly well come and get it-which we knew would NEVER happen because there were 256 people crammed on that bus which seated maybe 40. AND to make matters worse, because of the strike, the bus stopped every 15 feet-(I am not exaggerating) and more people would cram in. The stop and go effect had adverse effects on Whit. I looked at her and she was the color of cotton. I said are you ok? NO I feel like I'm going to...yup... up favorite thing in the whole wide world. So I start frantically pushing all the buttons and pulling on all the ropes I could get my clammy hands on, which really wasn't necessary because the bus stopped every few feet as it was but it gave me something to do other than panic and ZHAZAM, the bus stopped. Out we go spilling onto the crowded sidewalk where Whitney, to my amazement, bent it comes oh crap I can't watch... wait- she held it together! Halleluia! How she didn't lose it is beyond me. When I started walking away so I could pretend I didn't know the girl puking on the sidewalk, she must have got scared I would leave her in the middle of Athens- Brad had sort of wondered off as well. Can you blame us? Well yeah you can but on with the story.
All right, what are our options here. No bus-that's out, can't even buy a cab, let alone rent one, and the subway is still closed. We do know we are headed North, which is where we are staying- Northern Athens, in Naonia, so the only option left to us is we walk...and's 300 degrees in the middle of the day. In retrospect, it was kind of a unique way to see many parts of Athens. Every once in a while we would ask someone if we were going to eventually get to Naonia. Sometimes we got an answer, sometimes not. We figured as long as we kept the subway on our right side, we would get there and eventually, 2 long hours later we stumbled onto our beloved Naonia and our street. It was a modern day miracle of the highest possible order! We fell into our apartment, we each took a cold shower and slept the rest of the day away. We deserved it!
Next time I will tell you about the New York Subway. Gotta love trains!! I bet you just can't WAIT!!