Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FrankenFoot Gazette: Another Milestone

This evening after school, I got a pedicure. The first one since February. (I've been clipping my own toenails, just in case you might be thinking "EEEWWW....February??")  My toes look elegant and well-groomed and have a shiny mocha polish.

Now if only the rest of each foot looked as nice as the toes...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cool... house, that is! All hail air conditioning!  I just came home from the first day of school: footsore, sweaty and hoarse. And I opened the door and cool air flowed all around me. Yay!!!

The workers arrived at 11:00 and finished at 2:00, and even though the interior of our house is still at 90 degrees, the exterior is 112 this afternoon. (yes--112!!!) I got to stand outside the school and direct traffic for ten minutes at 3:30, and 112 on the pavement feels even hotter than 112 should feel.'s a good day for air conditioning. I love modern life. These guys are my heroes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Au Natural

And by that I mean our house...the air conditioner's compressor died sometime on Friday afternoon. CoolGuy was working in the garage and so when I got home about 6:40 from school and walked into the house, it seemed a bit warm. But to him, it was more comfortable than the garage, and it was. But as I started to prepare dinner, I thought, "No, this isn't just the usual "energy-saving" thermostat shut-down that the power company will do for 15 minutes during peak demand periods.

So, I mentioned it to CoolGuy who'd just come in to wash up for the cheese enchiladas. He went down the hall and checked the thermostat. It was blank. I mean dark, blank, nada. Hmmm...not a good sign. I put the cookies in the oven and watched him prop the ladder up to the roof. A few minutes later, I could feel air blowing down on me from the vent in the kitchen ceiling---ah, good sign. Then, it abruptly stopped--bad sign.

I took the cookies out of the oven and shut it off, but by then, of course, the kitchen was super hot from that. About 20 minutes later, after more air blowing followed by abrupt stopping-- blowing --off, blowing---off---he came in with the diagnosis: the compressor is dead. The air blowing was the fan, but without the compressor, the default position was to shut down the system by tripping the breaker.

We ate the enchiladas and the cookies and sweated, and then we just went out and got in the pool. Yes, dead compressor means no air conditioning. We slept on top of the covers.

The next morning, Saturday, I went to my classroom to work. CoolGuy texted me later that a technician would be over between 2 and 4. At 10:30 CoolGuy came over to join me in my classroom at my invitation and he set up, plugged in, and tested my student computers. We went to lunch (eating there of course) and then we went home to meet up with the guy. Yes...dead compressor. We can get another over here Monday morning. (!!)

So, we ate out on Saturday night, soaked in the pool again, slept on top of the covers again. Church was great!! Cool air...Sat in the pool all afternoon and read the newspaper. We'll sleep on top of the covers again tonight and tomorrow the new compressor arrives.Yeah!

Actually, most of the rooms aren't bad. We have ceiling fans, we've opened the doors so the air is moving. We have a well-insulated attic and tile floors, so really, because of the "dry heat" thing, it isn't so bad today. Yesterday, we had thunderstorms in the area, so it wasn't "dry heat". Today is better. I definitely wouldn't like to live like this all the time, but a few days...okay, we're not going to die.

Kitty Cats melt however: 

And the best place for lunch is in the pool---mangoes and ice cream:

Yes, it is hot here, by the way. The truck thermometer says 108, but it was in the sun, and this one is shaded by a large tree.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Forty Years

So, if you want to realize how old you really are, then go to your 40th high school reunion. Eeek! I keep saying that I still feel about 35 in my brain. (My feet, of course, are 102.) But, going to your high school reunion is a serious reality check. Yep...we're getting old.

One of the reality checks is my realization that when my parents were my age, I had decided that they were sooooo old that they didn't even have any way to relate to me. I was just so different from them. Now, I realize that they, too, were astonished at how quickly they'd turned into "old" people, and that they, too, felt about 35 in their brains, even though I'd always looked at them as "old" people. My dad died when he was 63 from leukemia and he'd gotten diagnosed finally at age 56, after feeling symptoms (but not knowing why he felt bad) for two years before that. So, I reflect on these things at age 58 and wish we had some way of knowing that no one is ever actually "old" in their own head, ever!

At the reunion, the mood was pleasant and festive. We were seriously happy to see one another. Ten of us have died since we left high school---a couple of those were within two or three years after graduation, tragically, but none of the others were less tragic. No one wants to lose young friends. Many of us married a classmate or someone who'd attended our small high school a year or two ahead or behind us.

 Quite a few in our group have always lived in the little valley where we grew up, but most moved somewhere else. Some of those moves were to earn a different living than our parents (many were farmers or ranchers) and some of those moves were to get away from the small-town scene. Some people married a person who preferred a different location. For me--weather is the big thing. When I discovered the joys of year-round summer, I never looked back.

I was amused to discover a new thing about myself when a guy I'd dated my senior year walked through the door with his just-married (2nd) wife. I was nervous to go greet him. I knew I'd been the mean one. Our relationship was one of convenience for me. I was in charge of a couple of clubs my senior year in high school, and we sponsored dances and other events, so I had to be there. I definitely didn't want to go alone. I knew this guy through mutual acquaintences and he was okay: he was taller than me, he had a car, and he'd said "Yes" when I asked him to the girl's choice dance in October. Excellent--I had myself an escort to all the significant senior year events: Homecoming, New Year's Eve dance, Prom, weekly after-basketball dances, etc. etc.

I know that he felt stronger about me than I felt for him. And yes, I used that to my advantage. He continued to pursue me after high school when I worked in a nearby resort town. He called me up and dated me during Christmas break when I was home from college. He wrote me letters while he served his mission. And I wrote back--I actually wrote letters to several high school friends while they served missions. However, his communication started to be more serious as he approached his release date, so I obliquely said that I'd be at home when he returned and I needed to talk to him in person. Of course by then, CoolGuy and I were planning our May wedding. This guy was due home at Easter.

Then he extended his mission by a few weeks. Oh. So, he got home the day before I got married, and came to our wedding reception still wearing his missionary name tag, accompanied by a mutual friend. Oh. That was uncomfortable. There was never an opportunity to tell him what it was I wanted to talk to him about (getting married--not to him). I just didn't want to be the "Dear John" of his mission. But, seriously, he was not, and never was, The One for me. I realized then that I was his (hopefully) One. Oh, well...

So, now, forty years later, we meet again. He's been married, divorced and remarried. I was so uncomfortable. He smiled and greeted me, introduced me to his wife. I stood there and smiled and greeted her. Then I said, "He took me to the prom when we were seniors." And he said, "Yes, I did, didn't I?" And then we both laughed, "Ha ha long ago." And quickly moved on to other topics and soon, other conversations with folks.

Later we had the chance to chat again, and I asked him where he lived and what he did, and we had a more comfortable conversation about current life. Isn't is bizarre that after forty years, I could feel embarrassed and nervous to talk about something that happened so long ago, was never resolved and now will not be discussed together ever again? 

So, when you look at "old" people, remember---it's just their bodies that are old. In their brains, they may feel like they felt when they were 18 or 19 or 35. Only our bodies age---nothing else.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Where has the Time Gone?

Wow, I'm astounded that I've let weeks go by without posting anything. I've been doing a lot...just not blogging about it.

One of the things I did was attend a family reunion. I may have mentioned it. We had a great time, we ate and talked and shared pioneer ancestor stories. And we went swimming at a big resort in a teeny little town in Idaho. There is a natural hot springs there, and the pool was built years ago, and over the decades has been expanded until it is a mega-complex with diving platforms and three-story slides and picnic areas, etc. It's really terrific, and since the water comes from deep inside the earth, near the molten core (as explained to me by my four-year old grandson) the pools are pleasantly heated and quite comfortable.

However, even as the resort has grown, and people love to come there for family reunions, and small weekend vacations, or just to soak in the therapeutic original hot pools, the town has struggled to keep up. There are a few motels, some are pleasant and some are a little less pleasant. I didn't start looking for a room for me and my daughter's family until about a month before the reunion, and so I kept hearing from the desk clerks I'd call that they were all booked up. So, I felt relieved when finally one woman told me they'd had a cancellation and so they had a two bedroom suite available. I was looking at their site on-line and it seemed reasonable, so I grabbed it. It was a deal, too, but I assumed that their remote location might factor into it.

 Well, here it is: Napoleon Dynamite's Grandmother's Motel. This is actually the "veranda" just outside the office door. Yes, those are plastic flowers in that arrangement in front, along with the deer antlers. One could, I suppose, sit here in the shade on a warm afternoon, or enjoy a beverage during the cocktail hour in the evening. There's a liquor store across the highway.

Actually, as I walked around the edge of this area, looking for the office, there was a girl (turned out to be the maid) sitting there, reading a magazine and drinking a soda. I looked into the office, but saw no one. I looked around for a bell or something to ring, but not seeing anything, I called out, "Hello?" The girl still didn't say anything to me, but she did look at me without blinking. I heard a voice from a doorway shout, "Just a minute!" and then something flew right past my head across the little counter. A BAT!!!  It landed on the window frame by the opened doorway.

A very old lady came around the edge of the door behind the counter, using a cane. She said, "Are you looking for a room?" I just pointed and said, "Um...a bat just flew through here, and it is perched on the window ledge right here." 

"Oh, that silly bat! He's not supposed to be in here. He needs to be outside. Hold on a minute, Honey."  She wobbled back through the door, returned with a handful of paper towels, and shuffled to the window frame. Her first pass at the bat was a miss, and he fluttered up and circled over my head as she waved her arm toward him. Then he landed on the window sill again, so she attempted to capture him a second time, but, fortunately her gesture scared him toward the open doorway and he flew outside and away. This all took about a minute. I think bats should live outdoors, too. Really. It was a small bat, about as big as a sparrow, but still...bat (!!!!!) flying around my head in a tiny room. (!!!!)

So, we got me checked in. She wrote a phone number on a small piece of paper that would me connect to the Internet, but I didn't bring a computer, so, hey.

I walked down the sidewalk, found room 4. Very interesting...The door isn't all that unusual, it was yellow--really yellow--but it had an interesting, arty touch at the bottom. It looked designed, as though someone had a plan.

That was the last time I thought anything at all about a plan, however, because when I saw the wall paint in the first room, I realized that, actually, someone just had a lot of yellow paint. Perhaps left over from when they put the stripes on the highway?  And the paintings on all the walls---Deseret Industries or maybe a motel furnishings sale? And there were lots of paintings. Every wall had several.

These are the curtains at the window by the door. Yes, they are big towels. I think I learned how to make these in Homemaking, in 1976. My granddaughter commented on them. "Hey, Grandma, why do they have towels hanging in the windows?"  Indeed---but the yellow matched the walls.

Here we are in the second room of the "suite." It seems to have formerly been a screen porch. But with a little clever carpentering, and lots of wood paneling, it has been transformed into a bedroom/sitting room. There is a queen bed, and a single platform-type bed along one wall. The love seat faces a television that had a VCR balanced atop it. Behind the television stand was a fold-up cot that, frankly, I'm not sure would have fit into the room anywhere.

This is the "twin bed" in the second room of our suite. Note all the paintings on the walls. Actually, there were several wall treatments back here. Some sections were cinder block, some painted wallboard (yellow, of course) and some wood paneling. The ceiling was wood paneling, too. I kept expecting Uncle Rico to drop by.

When I made the reservation on the phone, she pointed out that this was the handicapped room, and so there was only a curtain, no door, on the bathroom. I said that it wouldn't be a problem for us. Of course, I'm thinking standard motel room bathroom. But, frankly, I don't think that this bathroom could have had a door on it anyway. The edges of the doorway weren't parallel. But, we just needed a place to brush our teeth and go potty, so we were good.

The bedding was also fascinating. It seemed to have selected it so that nothing matched anything else. It was awesome. Note my bed, as an example: quilted polyester floral bedspread, plaid flannel sheets, paisley brocade pillow covers.

But, the water worked, the refrigerator worked (we ate cereal, as we sat on our beds, for breakfast), and we were able to sleep very nicely. There was a bit of an off odor. I'd gone to the grocery store to get some yogurt and dried fruit and I picked up an air freshener spray--which I left for the next lucky patrons. But after we spritzed around the "suite" it smelled a little fresher.

The next morning, I walked down to the office to drop off the key, and I noticed another man video-taping his room interior. I leaned in his door and said, "The real name of this place is "Napoleon Dynamite's Grandmother's House." He looked at me for a sec and then burst out laughing as he nodded and replied, "Yes! That's it!"

I probably won't be back. But it was an adventure! And I'm also really, really glad that I didn't need to stay there any longer than one night. My lips would probably have gotten chapped real bad.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


I'm still cleaning off piles of paper from my desk and sorting through pieces of paper in boxes. I found a notebook I evidently first obtained in 1970. It has a interesting assortment of musings and mottos that I apparently liked. Some of them are still relevant.

Here are some poems I wrote that I found in it. I know that they were written between 1971 and 1973, but I can't date them exactly. The first one is about the view from the barn door during the morning milking.

Slowly and carefully
The morning sun
Dribbles its rays on the tips of the mountains.
Gathering speed and losing caution,
It spills light into the valley
Like a pot of molten gold.

This one is about driving through the marshes between Evanston and Randolph on Highway 89.

Ducks on a twilight pond
Kissing "goodnight"
The fading wet image of sunset.

This poem doesn't have a title. But it's the view of the sky in June when the milking is finished and we were just hanging out on the lawn, or maybe playing ball in the field.

As the last of the dragon sunset dies
Down behind the hill,
A single little star peeks out cautiously.
"It's safe now!"
He gleefully calls.
His pals twinkle out to play.

I think I've already put this poem on here once before. But here it is again. It's about my parents.

To My Parents
Everyday I see
another Chicken Little
"The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"
How nice
That my sky is held firm
By the eternal rafters
Of your love.

I've probably written this one here too, but it was also printed in the New Era in 1974, so I'm quite proud of it and, since I wrote it in this notebook, I'll include it. It's about the weather in Wyoming where I grew up.

Enter October
Wrapped in the feather boa of
The Season's Premier Snowstorm
October makes her entrance.
But, after the introduction,
She drops the frozen front and gleams gold so bright
That wild geese echo the musical applause
Long after the last curtain call
That cuts into November's ice act.

So, here are some remnants of my life that I am glad I kept hauling around in a tattered box. This notebook has managed to survive for 40 years. It remains precious to me. Don't be in a hurry to throw away stuff. Be discerning. Some things will maintain their value through the years. People are in this catagory, too, you know.

Monday, August 01, 2011

My New Way to Choose

I was cleaning out pieces of paper from a box last night, in my never-ending quest to winnow and sort and reduce, and this was written on one of them, (it's a book title, I think.)
Normal Is Just a Setting On Your Dryer
 I remember, especially after each baby was born, thinking "Well, when things get back to normal..." then, I'd realize (finally) that this was the new normal and I'd just better adjust. So, for all of us who think that some time in the past was better, or some future period of our life is going to be better or calmer or less stressful, let's all just fix this new motto into our psyches. Normal should be coming from within: we can be normally cheerful or normally irritated. What do we choose?  

Yesterday in church, I heard a talk that taught me how to make this choice. I know that we're supposed to be inspired at church, and frequently I am.  But this time I honestly got a whole new outlook on a familiar topic. Read the scripture in Moroni 7:45. The new, to me, reflection on this scripture about the characteristics of charity was that charity enables us to cope.

Charity, the pure love of Christ, gives us the power to endure all things, and rejoice in the truth, and be not easily provoked. Previously, I've read this scripture and was actually a little discouraged by it. I knew I was, in fact, easily provoked quite often. I whine, rather than endure. I am generally kind, but I totally envy selected people. And so, as verse 46 states, I sometimes feel like nothing because developing these traits of charity is such a challenge to me. I felt that I had to work really hard to become this person so I would be acceptable to Christ--be in His Club of Charitable Ones.

But, yesterday, I got a whole new vision. Christ isn't saying that we must develop these abilities and then come to Him and show Him we're ready now. He is saying that by believing Him, and believing in Him, we can get help from Him in dealing with all the challenges of our mortal lives. His pure love "endureth forever" and by relying on it, and accepting it into our lives, we will be transformed. We cannot do it alone. He will help us cope.

Life isn't easy. Life is often very difficult. And I don't mean things like cancer or tornadoes. I mean dealing with co-workers; talking to your spouse about money; acknowledging that your little children's constant bickering is deeply irritating and you aren't handling it well; disappointments over failed dreams.  But, we can get help in coping with it all.

Do you hope to become a person who is less easily provoked? Christ can help with that. Do you need to graciously bear some relationship things that you cannot change?  Christ can give you the power. He isn't demanding you develop these attributes in a vacuum. He's the source. Cling to Him, call on Him. Do all you can and He'll do the rest.

When the scripture says, "Charity never faileth" I've always thought of the long-suffering, ever-present Relief Society who pitches in and hangs in and keeps showing up. I'm one of those ladies. But yesterday I realized that Moroni wasn't talking about people. He was pointing out that Christ will never fail us. That if we rely on Christ as our power, then we will never fail. The Relief Society probably has this motto because those original sisters already figured out what I finally understood yesterday.

We aren't being told to get perfect...or this scripture. We are being told that we have the ultimate resource for coping with life, and the only way to survive our mortal journey well. That's what one part of the scripture says:  v. 47 Whosoever is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.  It just means that we cannot do it alone. We were never required to do it alone. The whole idea was that Christ would enable us to do it with Him.

But we have to choose. We can choose love or despair. Despair makes me want to give up. Don't give up. Choose love. Choose charity. I'm going to strive for it to be my new normal.