Monday, June 29, 2009

Family Time

I've been very busy during the last week preparing for my family reunion. When my mom died three years ago, we all agreed, in a meeting following the service, that we would have a formal family reunion each year. Our parents worked very hard to maintain family ties with their extended families, and in some cases, that took a lot of effort. So we made a decision, unanimously, that day when we all became orphans, to meet each year. We divided up the responsibility for host duties so that two of us would be in charge each year. This year it fell to me and my youngest sister, so we decided to have the party at her home in our home town.

She and her husband were heroic! They hosted 46 people for two or three days! We ate there, we slept there and at different relatives' homes around the valley, but the main event on Saturday from noon to 6:00 was all at her house. He got several of his horses from a distant pasture so we could take rides with our little grandchildren. He helped cook breakfast and dinner on the grill and in Dutch ovens. He put up with non-stop talking and laughing. I really appreciate his willingness and sportsmanlike attitude. She was a human dynamo! She is so calm with all the amazing chaos around her. She made a variety of huge salads the day before, she constantly answered questions of "Do you have..." "Where is the..." "Can I get a ..." with patience and calm and everything turned out fabulously. We simply had a terrific reunion and I totally credit them with a large portion of the success because of their incredible hosting.

We had a chance to sit and discuss the life of our Dad, who died 25 years ago. I'd prepared a presentation with pictures and narration that came from memoirs that each of my brothers and sisters wrote and sent to me. We made a disc for every adult in the family (so I can send them to those who weren't there) and included the pictures, the articles, and several other documents that are relevant to our Dad's life story. I did a good job, thank you, and it was all due to my very difficult graduate class from this winter where I learned to make a really good presentation using PowerPoint. Anyway, it turned out great, I had a fine time creating it, and Cool Guy outdid himself in converting it to a format that everyone can use, and adding the documents. Then, he copied all the discs for me AND made a really awesome label. The label was the crowning touch. Then he and our son set up and ran the technology so we could all view it.

So we had a good trip, we enjoyed the camraderie of relatives, Star Valley was exquisitely green and blooming, the weather cooperated by being perfect. I am relieved that it is finished, we've been plotting it for a year. And I'm relieved that it was so fine. So thanks to everyone in my family who helped and we'll look forward to next year! It'll be great too!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

I've spent the better part of the last three days making a presentation for my upcoming family reunion. It is the reunion of my parents' family and, since this year is the 25th anniversary of his death, we are going to highlight my dad's life. Most of the grandchildren don't remember him or weren't even born yet during his life. I've been putting captions with photos telling about his childhood and the years of our family as they added one child after another until all eight of us were born. I've been having a great time, and each of my brothers and sisters have sent me a memoir of him from their growing-up years. We have a theme: his love for us, his hard work, and the way he took care of people less fortunate than himself.

I hope our children will also be able to look back and appreciate their father, too. I'm confident that they will, because I think they appreciate him now. I know we all appreciated our dad at the time, too, as well as in retrospect. But here are a few examples of why Cool Guy was/is a great dad.

He was never afraid to get right in there and be the dad. He changed diapers and cleaned up vomit and walked all night with sick babies. This might not seem so amazing, but when we started with the baby-having time in our lives, this wasn't common place for men to do.

He set a good example that work was for everyone. He got up from the table one day when the first ones were very small and said, "Would you rather have me give baths, or clean up the kitchen?" I was taken aback. He'd already worked his job all day, and the home was my job. But he said he felt dumb sitting there reading or whatever while I did all of it, and it was no problem for him to join in. So, he'd choose a "helper" and the two of them would clean up the table and wash the dishes while Mom bathed the babies. Everyone took their turn helping Dad and learned that it isn't just Mom's house--we all live here, so we should all help doing the work. Plus, he has had a paycheck-paying job since he was 12 years old. That, all by itself, is a legacy for our children...who all work to support themselves and their families in a very responsible way.

He's very funny. Humor is a great quality to have in a family. If you can't laugh at things that happen, then you're in for a very difficult life. He doesn't make fun of others, he's just able to laugh at himself and at situations. It's a good skill to have with teenagers, because a little laughter helps people to not take themselves too seriously and lightens the atmosphere for all.

So, Happy Father's Day, Cool Guy. I appreciate the awesome children you helped me create. I hope they'll always appreciate you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Bathing Suit Solution

I've worn out all my swimming suits. My one really favorite one was killed by an overdose of chlorine from the pool at the hotel in San Diego at Christmas. But the others have just deteriorated through the four years I've been swimming here in my own pool. We don't have to use as many chemicals as a commercial pool because it is usually just the two of us. The filter can keep up with our cooties with just a little boost from a floating chlorine tablet basket. But, the sun and the years and the chemicals have finally wrecked all of my suits and I have been shopping for a new one.

What a drag. Quite a few parts of me have changed in the four or five years since I last bought a suit. None of them for the better. I'm just a bit too larded to comfortably fit into the biggest Misses size, but I'm not quite yet one of the X know--20X, 22X, etc.

So, I've come to the realization that the ultimate solution is: just go to nude beaches for the rest of my life. You see, there I wouldn't need to worry about looking like a pregnant grandma encased in Lycra. Nor would I look like a German sausage in floral casing. I would just be another person in skin. I'm guessing that most people at a nude beach aren't there to make judgements about the rest of the naturalists. So, I could just calmly be a little saggy, a little too chubby here and there, a little wrinkled and cellulitish without a qualm.

Or, I could try and lose 10-15 pounds this summer by exercising and eating more salad and fewer cookies.

Hmm...I'll have to give this some thought.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Not-so-Dusty Winnemucca Road

If you're a Johnny Cash fan, then the title should provoke humming. If it. But, we were in Winnemucca on Friday and it was definitely not dusty. It rained most of the way across northern Nevada on I-80 all day Friday and Saturday. It was beautiful and green. And orange--as in safety cones funneling us all into one lane of the interstate while crews fixed the other lane--either widening it or repaving it. Blah. We spent a great deal of time wedged between 18-wheelers inching our way along. Then, we'd break free for a few miles and it would start raining again. And not just rain, but torrential downpours that forced us to drive slowly again. So, instead of traveling at 80 on 80 (as is traditional in Nevada) we alternated between 40 and 60. But, it was a pleasant drive anyway with hilarious commentary between Lil' Dude and SBoogie in the back seat.

"But, I don't want to be a mountain."

"Yes, you have to be a mountain and I will be the clouds.."

"No, mountains have grass on dem. I don't want to have grass."

And on, and on.

Oh, pleasant, except for the, ahem, cramping and nausea. I just finished a dose of antibiotics to wipe out a sinus infection before I flew up to Sacramento and I wiped out more than the infection. I also apparently wiped out all the good flora and fauna in my digestive system, too. So, about one hour after I'd eat anything, the pain would start. It is actually quite a long way between rest stops in Nevada. Pepto Bismol helped for a few hours, but ultimately we had to find somewhere to stop for a few minutes for Grandma. Geez, I'm such an old lady. I got some meds this afternoon to restore everything to normal. Whew, because I've "gone" everywhere, man.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Coed Redux

Yesterday, I had my photo taken and was given my 5th college ID card. It's not that I lose them. I mean, it was the fifth college for which I've needed an ID card. And that doesn't include the three other colleges I've attended for just a single class through an affiliation with a school in which I was enrolled. Or, I attended a week-long or week-end seminar, and was allowed to receive credits by having seat-time and writing a big paper. Whenever I request transcripts, it is quite a production.

I intend to complete my master's degree here at UNLV and then---that's it! NO more degrees, no more transcript requests. No more ID cards. Too bad I didn't keep all of them, it would be a cool post to scan them all in and see how I've changed over the years.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

June Zoom

Well, if you look at my calendar for June there are very few days that do not have an appointment. Sigh. But, it's all my own fault. I agreed to be on a textbook selection committee way back in January. That is four days worth. Then, I signed up for a graduate class--hey--It's 3 credits in four weeks! That's a deal. Then I only have to take one class per semester next winter and spring to fullfill my required 3 classes per year. But, it's a doozy and is MTW from 4:00-6:45 and she pointed out that we would not be finishing early. Ever. There's the family reunion. There are two doctor appointments. I must go to physical therapy three times a week to try and help my pathetic right leg. And, minor detail, I have school the rest of this week and next Monday (the last two days are teacher days) and I have to pack up my entire room to be moved out so they can rip out the ceilings and replace the air-conditioning.

So, if I'm not blogging much in June, it's because I don't have a spare minute. See you in July.