BOTTLED

  • In order to succeed in life you need three things - a wish bone, a back bone and a funny bone. Reba Mcentire

Saturday, February 26, 2011

FENCED SHORT CUTS

The neighborhood thinks my yard is a shortcut.

A beaten path runs between us and the house next door.
Nothing stops the flow of traffic:
foot traffic, bicycles, baby strollers, you name it!
We ask - politely and firmly - they ignore.

When we are in the yard, out and about, most trespassers will at least walk along the other side of the house next door.  They know they are trespassing. They know they shouldn't ...
The neighboring house doesn't seem to be able to stop them either - they have a matching path on both sides of the house.

When trespassers think no one is looking (and even at times, brazenly knowing someone is) they do what they know is not right.  You can tell they know as they glance furtively about, duck their heads, avert their eyes, pretend deafness and to be looking ... somewhere, anywhere until they are past property lines and back on public sidewalks.

Landscaping and flowers don't stand a chance against the continued assault. Not even Irises lift a barrier or withstand the constant pounding. Neither do simple fences.

We put a simple wire fence along the back to break the pattern.  It is constantly sagging from those that don't leap it but have to lean on it as they cross. We continue to straighten and support it.  It at least diminishes the flow and makes vehicular traffic more difficult - not impossible - just awkward as the bikes and buggies have to be lifted over it and so those go the few extra steps it takes to use the neighbors unfenced yard.

My husband and I debate fences.  Are they junk and weed collectors and more work than they are worth? Or do they actually provide security for ourselves physically in some ways and morally for the careless and thoughtless misusing the property and time of others.

There is a boy, and his friends, that regularly 'get away with' using my yard as a shortcut.  I work at being kind to them and helping them learn honesty and consideration.  I have paid them for small bits of yard work when they come around asking for work.  I have given them flowers for their mothers, and fruit in season and explained the damages that 'the short cut' causes. They have promised to stop walking through - but there is no fence, and 'everyone else does it" so they often break their promise.

I hesitate to really trust them much.  Even thought I know they are young and wonder if they are properly schooled I hesitate - this year I may not hire them.  They are not young men that keep their word.  I will attempt to find help that is 'honest'. Breaking their word mostly hurts themselves.

As I age I need more and more help with the yard.  If those boys could show good faith and continued efforts to keep their promises, then, when they asked for work, I would be sure to hire them and maybe even make work for them or recommend them to friends and other neighbors. As it is I am unable to provide a reference for them to anyone.

When they come again I will teach them more about honesty. I may explain that I expect them to keep their promises and that it helps me to know if they are honest and can be trusted and 'hired'. Good kindness (and money) often helps to open ears - and make a pathways into hearts and at times even souls.

My father taught us to be honest, in every way, at all times.
Especially when no one is watching.

He taught that honesty is first for ourself. When we are honest we know within ourself the strength and power of choice - we know we have self control, diligence, and kind respect for ourselves and for others.

My father taught us that God also sees. This was not a threat - just an additional loving reminder of the blessings of knowing, and having, the love and respect of our Heavenly Father who knows not only our acts but our hearts even when our earthy father (or mother) may not.

The 13th Article of Faith begins with, "We believe in being honest, ..." and then adds what I consider synonyms for honesty within specific contexts "... true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men, ...."

My father jokingly claimed that locks were to keep honest  people honest - I have often pondered and thought about that - about how even very honest people think nothing of a small dishonesty when the opportunity presents itself. They seem to just not think. Locks and fences may present the needed barriers to help us remember we are honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and kind to those about us.

A well worn saying states that 'it is easier to get forgiveness than permission'. President Ezra Taft Benson explained "It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent."  

If money (or an object) lies on the ground do I pick it up? Keep it? Try to find the owner? or leave it lay so the owner may be able to retrace their steps and find that which was lost? I can choose the best option for each situation and experience (mine and that of others who can advise me) helps me to know what choice is good, better or best.

What locks and fences do you have in your life?

What locks and fences do I have in mine?

One of mine is being 100% honest (and a bit more if possible) with God - keeping my actions aligned with my innermost beliefs. This includes not only vigilant efforts to tell the truth and not cheat in small ways (like speeding just a little bit even) but of paying an honest tithe, fast offering and making other donations as much as possible for the betterment and assistance of my fellowmen. Heber J. Grant taught Malachi 3:8-18 as a law of prosperity (and successful happiness) to Latter Day Saints. He said,

"I believe that people are blessed in proportion to their liberality. I am not saying that they always make more dollars, perhaps, than the other man. But so far as an increase in the faith and in the testimony and the knowledge of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged, men that are honest with the Lord in the payment of their tithing grow as men never grow that are not honest. There is no question in my mind. Moreover, I am just foolish enough to believe that the Lord magnifies those who do pay their tithing and that they are more prosperous, on the average, than the men who do not. I believe that to those who are liberal [with their donations] the Lord gives ideas, and they grow in capacity and ability more rapidly than those that are stingy. I have that faith, and I have had it from the time I was a boy." 
Each of us must place fences, and locks as needed, on our own ideas and behaviors. 
It keeps us HONEST!
And true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and genuinely kind.
And full of hope too.
Honesty increases our power.
It increases our abilities to act -
to honor and help,
to love and lift
and to teach and train.

It increases our power to have and to GIVE hope.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

GROWING THINGS

Flowers and gardening amaze me.
The yard and growing, living things in general.

Every year I clean debris out of flower beds, garden plots and along the fences. Every year there is more - piles more!

Have you ever thought about where it all comes from?
Out of thin air?

Today after finding some spring flowers putting up the tips of their noses to test the weather I decided it is not too early to begin cleaning up. Usually I do so in the fall but on 'lazy years' I wait for Jack Frost to reduce the volume and make stalks brittle enough that most of last year's growth can be readily raked away.

ready to rake
- and is my cable wire hanging loose?
nice fix NCTV!!   NOT!
I know from experience to start slow. As I continue to rehabilitate my muscles, 'easing' into the work is really important this Spring.

I locate my gloves  *mental note: buy new ones sans holes*,
my rake, and out I go into the chilly afternoon sun. I know that the chill just means I won't break a sweat when I get going.

A few seconds later I realize I need a kneeling pad and pruners. Jack has been a bit lazy this year and many tougher flower stalks are still pretty vigorous.  Soon debris is strewn in a broad swath from the back patio to the corner by the driveway.  I rake it up and start on the other side.  My rake comes apart.  *Mental note: get a new one when I get the gloves*.

such a pile from so small and narrow a flower bed

I didn't intend to do anything but rake for a few minutes - HAH! - I have heard about roads paved with such intentions - I had no idea that a mere 20 minutes could equal any destination on that road!  I think it was a good thing that rake handle broke!

That's better - or will be when the cables are properly secured.

Each year I clean up the old growth and soon the new green shoots start and the cycle repeats. When I moved into this house there were no trees - I planted a few small single whips.  They are big enough now to make truck loads of wood if they are removed.  They make bags full of leaves every year.  I fill my compost bins and my garbage bins with weeds and yard/garden debris over and over and over again.

 I am left considering, again, where it all comes from. It can't be dirt - the dirt is still there each year! I suppose it could be water but what is holding that water? Chemicals? Minerals? Elements?

I take small seeds (and sticks), place them into the soil, and they become - what? Out of the water and dirt and air - a tree? buckets of tomatoes, heads of lettuce? or sacks of carrots? and vegetation that composts into enough dirt to top dress sections of the garden each year?

Isn't that marvelous?

That is a lot of stuff!
All that wood and  grass,
all those vegetables and delicious fruits,
and weeds - ah weeds (and leaves) - those are what started this cycle of thought back a few years ago! I came to realize they are not just dirt, or water or chemical compositions of various elements. They are a marvel!

So are we.

Where does it all come from?

I know it is divine - prepared by an omniscient creator with a plan and purpose. These things bear witness of themselves: every plant, every bird, every rock, every tree, every animal, every cycle and every season, even the dirt itself and the water and the very air.

I also know we are divine. I know we are.

All these things and our very bodies are a marvel and a miraculous witness of the creator and his wisdom.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CHANGES

The instant Valentine's was past
I put all the baby angel cupids away in their box
 and took out the spring flowers and such.





Remember
that purple wreath?

It's had a few changes.























I kind of like it this way now. 

Keep thinking Spring!

Monday, February 14, 2011

MIRACLES WANTED

Each winter, after the flurry of the holidays when winter blahs drag frosted mornings into dull afternoons, I start my own version of a yearly miracle.  I call it 'The Miracle of the Sticks'.



I start reminding my hubby that it is time to prune the fruit trees.

I gather a variety of the trimmings into a vase
or two ...

and wait.

Bloom times vary.
(1-6 weeks)
The sticks bloom,

sometimes more
and/or sooner
than other times.

First buds
then blooms open,
and they flower
in stages,

just like outside -
but sooner

first the soft fruits and the apples later.





I think the apricots are always first to pop;
quickly followed
and overtaken by
the cherries.


No wonder
the children sing
'Popcorn Popping On The Apricot Tree'.




And then
the peaches come -
in a cloud of pink.

This year has been odd.

Blossoms are sparse
and leaves prolific.


The apple trimmings are usually covered in massed umbels but only a few are opening this time.




I don't think I have seen that in the past -
(and after opening the blooms are quickly spent)

but that's OK.


Every bit of green life cheers me.



Each miracle is unique.

Each bud anticipated.

Each flower a joy.

Each leaf a reminder -

the REAL miracle
is still to come ...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

YES! IT IS

Spring is a comin'
YES! it is.

I believe that enough to cruise the yard looking for it.

I think, at times,
we have to wait
and watch
for the things we are hoping for.

Disappointing up until now -


BUT look what I found!

This may not be the 'sunny side of the street' but sure 'nough on the SW side of the house (where the afternoon sun is warm) the daffodil tips are emerging.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

ADD TEN


A son recently turned 25 years old.

One of his sisters is only a week short of being 10 years older.

I always know my kid's birthdays because they are all even numbers that have some significance to other dates or family events.

Soon my daughter will be 35 -
I know because I only have to add 10.


No matter how it's done, I think adding 10 is the easiest of math -
it's just
a 1 and a 0 - easypeasy!

Wouldn't we all like to add another 0 onto our bank balance, get 10 more miles per gallon on every tank of gas or earn 10% interest?

I always wanted at least 12 kids.

When child number 3 arrived she was the first of the 10 I wanted to add (alas, that didn't materialize).

Having one child took all my time.  Having two children took twice as much time. Oddly enough, having 3 children took only half as much time and seemed to be twice as much fun.

Her nickname was 'Cookie Monster' - she loved crackers and cookies. One night quite late (after recently moving into an older home we purchased and were renovating) I heard a fairly loud rustling sound in the kitchen.  I was worried the evicted mice had returned - but the rustling seemed rather loud and out of place for mice.  Investigation revealed her [age 2] sitting on the floor, in the dark, with a newly opened box of saltines.  She had several packages open and was working her way through them -  not breaking them - simply methodically eating them.  (Back then the waxed paper package merely folded around the crackers - in much the same way as butter quarters are wrapped now.)

A blue, furry 'cookie monster' often went where ever she did - Cookie ... and Babba. Babba was a Fisher Price, yellow, cloth bodied, meant-to-be-machine-washed-and-loved, doll  (yellow was her favorite color - I swear she was born loving yellow) with an angelic face similar in sweetness to the face of the girl that owned her.  Babba seldom left her owner's side and lives on at her house to this day.

This child has a special place in our family because she gives light and love - she adds 10 - exponentially! My mother delighted in her burbling laugh; it puts Elmo to shame. Her curiosity and keen intellect even now are a constant source of pleasure.  She was trying to read at age 3 and succeeding shortly thereafter.

Age 4
She is also a decent musician - on multiple instruments. With practice she could excel, on any or many of them, but her personality was always of the easy going sort and her interests too broad to be confined to repetitive and endless practicing.

I miss all my kids now they are adults - but especially this one.

Happy Birthday Cookie Monster!

Friday, February 11, 2011

HOP

There is a book my children love called 'Hop on Pop'.

That is a simple rhyme.

The book is full of simple and pleasing rhymes
that come to mind readily
and tend to get stuck.
Video link here.

I was teaching a 3 year old that letters make words.
One of our words was hop -
easy to demonstrate - right?

WRONG.

Actions can be harder than words.
Sometimes a body (or mind) just doesn't cooperate!

I made a valiant attempt.
I lifted my shoulders.
That lifted my arms.
I tightened all my muscles
and hopped,
of course on 2 feet silly,
but my feet never left the floor.

At least not the first time.

I tried again -
I felt my feet actually lift -
completely not touching the floor-
almost,
and then watched - yes it took that long -
watched as if in slow motion
as all that had gone up came down.

BE GLAD no one had a camera!
Just erase those mental images.

The 3 year old did not notice.
She was hopping around and around.
Hopping is a delightful game.
I watched.
Nothing there was slow motion.

I am going to work on muscle tone me thinks.

Third time was a charm, my feet had lift off.
THAT should not make me sore.
I, the me at my core, is appalled!
ABSOLUTELY APPALLED!!

There was a time when I could 'pepper' 100 skips just for exercise, do 10 reps of a calisthenic, and do another set of skips.  I worked my way up until I could pepper out 1000 when I was in a hurry.

I am going to hold that vision in my mind.

HOPPING.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

JUST BECAUSE

Remember.

Do you?

I want you to remember I love you.

I want you to know you are loved.

Many years ago, at a General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, President Spencer W. Kimball stood before a world wide television audience and spoke from his heart. He said (among other assurances about the love God feels for each of his children) "I love you, each one of you ..." He tenderly spoke of the feelings he has for every member of the church and for all of mankind.

A sister in law openly and loudly scoffed, "He does not - he doesn't even know me. He can't love everybody. He doesn't even know them!"

I was shocked.

I was honestly surprised that she thought he had to know her to love her.  And more especially that she could not personally accept his genuine profession.

I asked her, "Susie (Susie Somebody - closely related to Annabelle Anybody and Nelly Nobody) - Susie," I asked, "Don't you think that he would if he did?"

I have pondered that many, many times since then.
It often comes to mind and takes a circuit.

Do you know you are loved?

Even complete strangers are concerned for your happiness and pray for your well being.  I often ask God to be mindful of those who are poor, sick, in need or have cause to mourn - among other things. When I see you struggling with the cart and the baby, or the door and the walker, or at a distance with tears streaming down your face (or your face contorted in some unfathomable emotion) then, as my heart aches for you and again later as memories of the things I see or hear surface, I ask for comfort and strength - for you.  I do anything I physically can and then I call upon God, our Father in Heaven to look upon you, lift your burdens and help you find your way - to grant you all that will help you and bring you lasting happiness.

I won't divulge details of the conversations I have with God about those I know by name - that is very private - but even if you don't believe a real and lovingly concerned, omniscient parent watches out for our best good and interests you need to know that I care - at least all that I, as a hopelessly imperfect human being, possibly can.

I do want you to know that I think on each of you each day, personally, individually, by name and age, by face and problem, by joys and activities - among other things.  I look at your pictures.  I remember little things I know you like, or hate, and even if I am totally out of the park wrong I still find you on my mind.  I love you.

BTW - have I told you lately that I love you?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

DO AS I'M DOING

I have heard it said that whatever a mother does her child will do.

I think that applies to a much broader group than just mom.

David was counseled by a Bishop to hold my hand whenever we pray together. When one of my sons was visiting with his family they joined us at meal times and each evening for family prayer.

Their 2 year old watched her Papa hold her grandma's hand a few times and then insisted on holding one of their hands each time with them. She seemed content for a day or so and then began to insist that everyone at family prayer join hands in a circle.

Have you ever tried to 'discuss' something with a 2 year old?

Was if very comfortable to hold hands with an adult son?
 or his wife? Nope it really was not.

I am not a 'touchy feely' person. My father tells me that as a babe in arms if you hugged me I would 'stiff arm' you - that is push you away.  I have always felt that way about huggy kissy stuff - apparently I arrived hard wired that way.

[And I think my children are that way -
 nature or nuture? -
 they got it from both barrels -
except my youngest - he has always hugged his family - regularly.  He has always insisted on giving his parents a hug and a kiss good night, every night - even this old dog got better at that new trick.]

Try to explain personal space to a 2 year old!

Nope! not going there!

Besides - maybe she is right -
perhaps a family should face each other,
join together in a circle,
touch each other -
actually form a united circle
as they talk to God ...

There is some food for thought.

We had to think quickly.
Her mom giggled.  I winked - and we joined hands.
She insisted on being between Papa and mommy.
We all felt that was a good place for her.

The new arrangement worked well. Holding onto two adults helped this 2 year old be more reverent - if nothing else somebody knew the instant she began any shenanigans.

Fast forward 6 months.

My son and his family are visiting again. At their (later) breakfast yesterday I watched from the living room computer as the 2 year old, now 3 and much more commanding, arranged her family into a unit. Each person had to be holding the hand of a person in the circle before the food could be blessed - she had to be part of a joined circle.

It was electrifying - I had goose bumps and chills.

I really had better mind my P's and Q's!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

TWO BITS

A quarter -
say that outloud (in your mind at least).

We all know what a quarter is -
right???

What image popped to mind first?


Money?


Cooking?


Math? measurements?
or ...
food? school, sports, a place to live, or time?

Did anyone think of time? of your time? of your life?

A son of mine is 25 years old today.
That is less than half my age.


Do you think of a quarter being part of
a dollar?
A fourth part?
25 cents?

Twenty five is a lot of pennies!

Would you rather put a quarter in your pocket or 25 pennies?

And speaking of pennies and pockets, insurance companies reduce your rates at 25! You are no longer a 'reckless' teen.

A quarter cup may seem like a lot of salt,
but not too much sugar.


A 'quart' is 1/4 of a gallon (in some places ...) and a cup is 1/4 of a quart - that is a lot of applesauce and not very many peaches.

Many recipes use only a quarter teaspoon of this or that to make the wonderful flavor that finishes a dish to definitely delicious.

Is a quarter a little or a lot?

If you sew you might think of a 'fat quarter' and if the first quarter inch of your measuring tape wears out (or accidentally gets cut off) you'll grind your teeth until you buy a new one. You can easily see a quarter mile and it might be just to your mail box but 'quarter' your steps and it will take you a long time to get that far.

Essentially a quarter is a division
or part of something.

In math 1/4 literally means four parts of one whole.
I hate math - ask someone else about it!


As a serving a quarter of an apple is not very much, but a quarter of a cake seems excessive.


A quarter of beef requires an awful lot of freezer space, but a quarter-pounder may sound pretty nice if you are hungry.

A quarter definitely speeds by for high school or college students as they enjoy watching their favorite teams give no quarter in the final quarter of any given sporting event, and how many of them need to tidy their living quarters? And do you ever travel to that quarter of the city/state/country?

Quarter not only starts with a funny letter it is a funny word.

By now you have the idea ...
Or do you ...?



How would you spend a quarter of an hour?
What can you do in 15 minutes?
60 minutes is so much, but is 15 enough?

How about your life?
Have you lived a quarter of it yet?

Many ancestors in our family have lived almost 100 years. Great Granny Bohne lived 4 months past her 105th birthday.

Does 25 does it feel like a weight of pennies? or a quarter of beef? A quart of cold lemonade on a hot day or an end worn ruler?

Analogies are fun to philosophize (feel free to flaunt a few)
and my 25 year old son is good at making them so I'll stop now.

So what do you think?

Is a quarter century old? or young?






Friday, February 4, 2011

EFFICIENCY

A short time a go I had some medical tests and went home to await the results.  I never received any. Later I called the clinic.  They couldn't tell me if there were results for tests because I did not have a signed release form specifying that the information could be released to me, myself or I!

Are you kidding me?

Then who is the information for?
Who CAN get the results?

The very nice sounding lady on the phone said if she could place me on hold she would check the file again to see if there were any signed permissions there. Sure enough - there were - my husband can pick it up! [Interesting that she could tell me that - without a signed form.]

I am infuriated!
I have seldom been so ticked in my entire life.

Seriously?

If I needed to sign a form for myself why, WHY, WHY, WHYWHY was I not given it at the same time that I signed the form that releases the information to my husband.  

My options were to make a special trip to the clinic to sign the needed papers and then I could ask for test results.  I tried calling my doctor, her nurse, her secretary - anybody -everybody - and then because I needed to know I knuckled under and had my husband pick up the results - along with a form for me to sign.

And I called back to make sure things would be ready for him on his lunch. I did wonder why I could discuss everything but the test results on the phone and set that all up but not get the results. He brought home a very nice letter, the form and the results. All is well.

I am still furious.

I am so mad it makes me well.

The form clearly says the clinic can release information to 'self'.  This is so seriously efficiency run amok.  I do not believe any such thing was actually required. I think said clerk was simply on a mixed up power trip.  She needs to be retrained.  I signed all the needed papers for 'privacy' when I first went to the clinic. That is why there is one on file for my husband. I checked and double checked at way back when.  My doctor will be hearing about the staff.

Early Monday morning the clinic called to tell me it is time to schedule another follow up test and ask where I would like the tests done. I told them the location and my availability and they promised to call back with the appointment.

A couple hours later the clinic called. Different person - "would I like to schedule my follow up tests or have them do it for me?" and then  "Where would I like them to schedule it at?"

I asked if they were in the same office as the last caller - uuhhmmm - they were. I asked if this was an additional appointment or the same one. It was the same test. I asked why it is necessary for both of them to call me.  I don't think she even got it!

She then asked me if I am authorizing setting up the appointment because I do not carry insurance at this time - why yes as a matter of fact I do and have not had any changes! "Oh", she apologized, "you haven't been in for more than 3 months so it isn't listed. We have just had a major change in our computers and perhaps your information has not been entered yet - do you still want me to make the appointment?"

I snapped. I had had enough.  "Not coming in for 3 months is a good thing, isn't it?" I asked her. The line was absolutely silent.  "That means I am healthy. That is a good thing right?"

She stuttered, "I-iii - ssssuppppose ssso."

"Isn't your co-worker making this appointment?"

She blustered and continued to stutter and said she would check. I have now spent more than an hour, between the two calls, on the phone with the clinic over the course of the morning. It is a necessary appointment.  I am trying to be patient and polite.  She comes back and says they will call me when the appointment is scheduled.

I thank her and hang up.

The phone rings in the middle of the afternoon.  It is the clinic.  They can't schedule the appointment yet because it is not due for x number of weeks and the test lab does not schedule that far in advance!

Seriously?

She promised to call back when it can be scheduled.

I am simply on the edge of my seat - aren't you?

Am I pleased with the girls at the clinic? Seriously?

I intend to stay as far away from medical facilities and staff as possible.
SERIOUSLY!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

COLD FEET

I have NEVER had cold feet.

It is standard (known among those that know me) that every chance I get shoes and socks come off and my feet lead the way all the way to my brain as my soul goes, "AAAaaahhhhhhwwww!!

At night I am in prison if my feet are covered.  One of the first things I do in most hotels is un-tuck the foot of the bed. Stockings are useful in cold weather, in boots, and in athletic shoes - otherwise fagitaboutem!

So why are my feet suddenly feeling cold enough for me to put them on?

Why am I considering buying a pair of slippers?

WHY have I sought out the rice packs? I hate those things - they absorb moisture and always smell and feel slightly clammy. They are next door to blankets over my feet at night! That has been a guaranteed way to awaken me - just cover my feet. So why am I heating rice bags and placing them under my feet everywhere I sit down? At least my feet are no where near my nose and don't care what the rice bags smell like!

At first I blamed the new seating arrangements in the LR and at the computer - there were drafts! And this is an excellent cool area for the computer BTW - there IS a cold draft here. I don't think that accounts for other rooms and locales and activities however.

The obvious answer is that I have cold feet.

Of course that begs the question, 'cold feet about what?'

I think it must be about getting older - I would rather skip some of the more strenuous parts of aging - especially cold feet - or cold generally.  And it seems to be headed downhill that way.  Were it only me I might think - well, you know - that it was only me!

It isn't.

My hubby is worse - and he brags he is younger.  Let me whisper though, loud and clear, that younger means less than 60 days - that's right, less than 2 months - only 42 days, so not even a month and a half.
Phhoohey - he is on the same skid row I am.

COLD FEET - bah! humbug!