Friday, May 30, 2014

The End Is Near

Well, when we came back to school on Tuesday, after the three-day weekend because of Memorial Day, people were just over it.

All the rules!
Why do we have to keep working when school is almost over?
Who cares about it anymore?
There's too much stuff still!
Seriously? More papers to work on?
Who needs to know this stuff?
Why should we even care about it!
We just want to be home, maybe sleep in a little bit.
We're so tired of being with these people!
All year--it's just been "Work, work, work"-we never get to do anything fun around here anymore!

And that is just the teachers....Imagine how the students feel!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Happy Birthday Trish

Can't let the day go by without saying "Happy Birthday" to my (almost) twin sister. We weren't really twins. We were born 15 months apart on the same day of the month: the 23rd. She was my constant companion for almost 20 years, until I moved off to California. But you know it's a good relationship when you can not see one another for months and months, and then just drop in, and it's like you were together just the day before.

We shared a bed until I graduated from high school. We shared a bicycle. We shared our clothes, until I got mad one year because a blouse I wanted to wear was dirty, and I announced that she could never again wear my clothes!! Ooops...that also meant that I couldn't wear hers, and that messed up my wardrobe more than it inconvenienced her. Rats.

We loved the barn cats and made up elaborate names and life stories for the endless bunch of them that came and went during the years we shared milking duties. We schemed about boys, and studied vocabulary words, and memorized scriptures, and tormented our little brother while we milked.

We rode horses together. We picked flowers together. We made a cool "hospital" in the little hiding place under the lilac tree in the yard where we'd take care of our patients---the little brothers and sister. We'd put damp lilac leaves on their wounds. We'd get turnips from the garden, and peel, slice and eat them with salt there in our hiding place. Once a year, our mother and big sisters would give the cellar a thorough cleaning, and we'd set up "school" down there in the newly empty space. Our pupils were the brothers and sister who were small.

We were an unbeatable bale hauling team. I'd usually toss them up on the wagon and she'd stack. We liked stopping for a pop at the little store on the way back down the highway from a field our dad rented several summers in a row. She actually didn't like carbonated sodas, but she'd drink a non-fizzy orange something. We were tough enough to haul the milk cans into town, too, and unload them ourselves onto the creamery's loading dock. There was always a lot of work to do, and she was never a slacker. We were excellent hired hands.

She was beautiful, too. She had fabulous blond hair that was naturally platinum. When we were going to college in the same town, but different schools, it was fun to go places with her and watch boys try not to stare too obviously. She was lots of fun, too, and people liked to hang around with her. I wish she was still around to talk to. I wish she was still around to see her gorgeous, wonderful grandchildren growing up. I hope people tell them stories about Grandma Trish, and about how she was a helpful, giving, sharing person who overcame a lot of difficult things in her life to become a really fine woman. I loved her.
Here she is, forty years ago at my wedding, when our uncle tried to marry her off to CoolGuy. She was engaged at that point to another guy, so she wasn't too eager to marry my choice.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Forty years ago, my nervous uncle stood in a little church in Wyoming. He was getting ready to perform the first wedding since he'd been called to be the Mormon bishop for that congregation, and there was a fairly large crowd for that small building. Included in the spectators was the uncle of the groom, who also happened to be my uncle's supervisor. The mother of the bride was a little annoyed at the bride, so there was some tension in the room. The young couple took their places in between the best man and the maid of honor, who was the bride's sister. Then, as the eclectic crowd ---grandmothers, farmers, bikers, cousins, businessmen and lots of assorted relatives--- looked on, my uncle asked CoolGuy, "Do you take Trish to be your lawfully wedded wife?" A great question, except that she is my sister and was acting as maid of honor at this wedding for which, I, me, myself, was the bride.

It wasn't an unusual mistake for the time. My sister and I were born just 15 months apart---right on the same day of the month-- the 23rd. We were essentially raised as twins. We wore the handed-down matching dresses of our two older sisters. We were both little blonds, the 3rd and 4th girls born into our parents' family. Most people in our small community, and even our enormous extended family, rarely distinguished between us. We were just [EarthSignMama/Trish], all one word, most of our growing up years. To be confused at the wedding was actually kind of hilarious. I wasn't even annoyed at my dear anxious uncle.

CoolGuy just stood there, however, and blinked, and then said calmly, "Um, no...I want to marry [EarthSignMama]."  And that brought down the house! Loud guffaws ensued. My poor uncle turned bright red, apologized, started over, and this time, I was the one being offered as the wedded wife. And CoolGuy said, "Yes," and I did, too, and here we are, lo these many decades later. What a long, strange trip it's been.

 I made the Grateful Dead connection because music has been a defining element of our relationship. When we first got together, we each had quite a collection of vinyl LPs. Not much else...but lots of records. We listened to music regularly; we went to many concerts; most of our children are quite good musicians. I wanted to celebrate this anniversary by including a few of the songs that will always have a special meaning for us. There is no particular order. Just sometimes, the way things were in our lives, these songs will always conjure up a memory. (CoolGuy tells me that Sugar Magnolia is the Dead song that reminds him of me.)

We saw the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band several times because they appeared at the San Diego County Fair quite often. We'd ride the motorcycle up there to the grandstands that overlooked the ocean, and listen to these guys. One song that means a lot is Stand a Little Rain. There were plenty of times when these lyrics were our motto. Another memory buster is High Horse.

Another group that would appear often at that fair was The Righteous Brothers. They loved that venue, as they'd enthusiastically point out each time they performed. And so they did a really great job, too! There really isn't just one that we liked the most, so here's a good one with a message for us--Unchained Melody. You may remember that it was in the movie "Ghost." He was overseas when it came out. I went by myself to see it--don't go to a love story movie featuring a dead guy when your husband is in the middle of a war. Just saying... He saw it on the plane on the way back to California. When I picked him at the airport, he put a cassette in the car tape player and hugged me while the Righteous Brothers played "our song." Sigh.

Early in the marriage, we both came home one day to marvel with each other about a song we'd heard on the radio. Who was that guy? Where did he come from? It was Willie Nelson. Where had he been? Writing songs for decades, performed by other singers, that both of us had loved--Hello Walls, Crazy, Funny How Time Slips Away.  But then, he started recording his own songs. We saw him in concert over and over, too. It was the best music event you could go to: he was having a great time! It seemed like he'd have done it without an audience. The concerts went on and on...two hours of him and his troupe playing their music, and all of us enjoying ourselves like you wouldn't believe! Here's that first song we heard that affected us so---Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.

We went to lots of concerts, did I say that already? It was SoCal in the 70's, and many groups came through there and tickets weren't expensive. Another group we saw more than once, because we couldn't stay away,  was The Bellamy Brothers. They were also a fantastic concert event. We even got to take all the kids to see them perform once as part of big festival sponsored by some family-friendly venue. The children had heard their records (or maybe we were using cassette tapes by then...) so many times that they could sing along! Here's Let Your Love Flow.

One day, CoolGuy peeked in the kitchen door from the garage and called, "Come and hear this guy on the radio! He's going to be huge, I tell you."  Here's what I heard--Guitars and Cadillacs by Dwight Yoakam. Yeah. He became huge. We saw him in concert several times, too. When CoolGuy was in Saudi Arabia helping the Marines during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, I sent him a video tape with one of Dwight's videos of a new song. It was warmly received in the wasteland of Saudi Arabia.

I could hardly chronicle the Music of Our Marriage without including The Eagles. We somehow managed to never get to one of their concerts, however. Rats. But we have so many memories of their music associated with our union. Here's a favorite--Best of My Love.

Another memorable concert from someone whose music we listened to constantly: Emmy Lou Harris. We got to see her in an intimate venue, alongside the water in San Diego. Here's Making Believe. 

This is getting crazy. The more I go back in my memory, the more I realized that this post might never end! George Thorogood, Junior Brown, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Blondie, B.B.King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Los Lobos, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, The Neville Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, The Kendalls--I guess since we listened to music waaaaay more than we watched television, it isn't too weird that music is the biggest memory maker for me.

I think I'll end it, though, with the quintessential musical performance of the relationship. We saw a Johnny Cash concert once. It was a stunning performance. We'd both loved his music long before we got together. It was unanimous that June and Johnny were near the top of the beloved performers list for us both. One day, as I drove back to our house in Maryland, I was listening to a bluegrass radio show in the car. This song came on, and I had to pull over to the side of the road because the tears in my eyes kept me from seeing the lines on the road. It perfectly sums up how we've always felt, and now...after 40 even more relevant.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Today, I had an afternoon sub so that I could go to the foot doctor. Yeah, who'd guess I'd be going to the foot doctor, right? Today, it was to check on the progress of the right foot--it is good, very little pain left. I'm to still wear the boot and see how it feels after five days. Then, if the swelling and pain stay away, I can take it off and go back to shoes. Second, the left foot needed a little podiatry attention. Two of my toes needed fixing a little. So, I left there with a numb left foot, and a booted right foot, and while I was still pain-free, I stopped at my favorite place in the world to browse: Whole Foods.

Now, I don't go there often, because the three stores here in Sin City are all located far, far from my neighborhood. Plus, the prices are ridiculous! However, my trips to the foot doctor are usually my excuse to go in there and admire organic vegetables, and more mushrooms than I knew existed. I also like to marvel at the vast number of cheese varieties--who knew? I buy a few things each time: usually whatever fresh vegetable is in season (today was asparagus) and I get a few selections from the olive bar (pitted Kalamata and some stuffed green ones). Then...I look over the prepared food selections. Sigh.

I can totally resist buying a new purse. In fact, I don't enjoy it at all when my purse wears out and I have to replace it. It's such agony to find one that is just right--not too big, not too small, not too heavy, not enough of the right little spaces. I don't even spend time in the shoe department any's just too sad. But I can barely resist sampling the amazing dishes that the cooks in the Whole Foods kitchens create. Golden beet salad!  Charred cauliflower with ginger and red onions! Roasted Brussels sprouts marinated in rice wine vinegar and bacon bits! Lemon capellini with capers!

So, knowing that I was to go home, lie on the couch, prop up my freshly doctored in-grown toenails, and rest, I purchased a couple of to-go servings of two of those delights, and this evening, CoolGuy can load up the plates, and toast and butter a couple of little ciabbatta rolls (Walmart) and we'll feast. Yes, food, glorious food, is irresistible.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

First Day!!

I came home from a friend's bridal shower this afternoon. I was hot and sweaty. I looked out in my backyard, and there beckoned the glimmering pool. So, I went out there, stretched out on the chaise lounge and got myself even more hot and sweaty (insurance). Then, I jumped in.

Why, yes, it was a bit chilly. But, I've swum in the ocean that was much chillier. The pool was actually fabulous! And, one can leap about, and run in place, and do jumping jacks, and not a bit of pounding occurs to the stupid feet! So, I lept and ran and jumped. It was delightful to get out there and get my blood pumping, and my limbs flinging around, and some muscles and tendons stretched and limbered.

I've been wearing the walking cast again since Thursday. I took it off the week before after all the stitches were removed. The doctor said to wear it for my comfort. And for about five days, my foot felt all right. I was still wearing a compression ankle-Velcro-y thing, and, of course, my shoe inserts and my hiking boots. Then, I decided to wear a different pair of shoes to school on Monday, this week. But, I forgot to put on the compression thing. By noon I was in agony. I had CoolGuy bring over the bandage. But even with my foot propped up all through lunch and the compression bandage, my foot was so painful--deep, achy pain. I went home, iced it and propped it up for a couple of hours. The next morning it was fine. I wore all my accessories, and the hiking boots, but afternoon, again---I felt like I'd like to just lop off the foot. Total agony. Wednesday morning I called the doctor's office and left a message (it was surgery day.) I got a message back that afternoon instructing me to come in on Thursday morning, first thing. So...he looked it all over, agreed it was swollen and a little warm, but said that the scar was healed nicely, no obvious infection or anything. Back in the boot---take a steroid pack. I'm going back next week.  Blah.

So, the pleasure of the pool cannot be emphasized enough! There is no need for foot protection. The feet are just hanging there, undisturbed by gravitational forces. Plus, with the water as cool as it is (about 73 degrees) it is also an excellent temperature for the swelling. Ahhhh, once again--swimming--best thing ever!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

More Birds

I left the temple last night just as twilight was fading into black. The air was fantastic. It was comfortable, with a little breeze, and the half moon was shining directly overhead. As I stepped through the doors into the night, I realized that birds were swooping through the air above me. I stood there transfixed as a dozen nighthawks wheeled and twirled and swept up and down through the spotlights illuminating the spires. They were scooping up the insects attracted to the bright beams, up there next to the big rock mountain. All around was darkness, except for the glowing white towers.It proved to be an irresistible lure for the bugs, making it a real Vegas Buffet experience for the birds.

I just waited there, my head tilted up and watched the hawks silently arcing through the air, flapping wings once or twice in each cycle, swirling in and out of the streams of light. They were so graceful and powerful. It was a magnificent event of choreography with so many birds circling round and round, each in its own pattern and avoiding collisions with the precision of the Thunderbirds performance team from the Air Force base just a few miles north.

I realized as I watched, my mind serene from the time I'd just spent inside, that all of God's creatures can come to the temple to be nourished---one way or another.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again!

I had just stepped out of the shower when I first heard it. I didn't really think much about it while I toweled off and spread lotion on my arms. But, when I sat on the edge of the bed to smooth the emollient on my pathetic feet, I realized that it was happening right outside the window.

Sure enough, when I peeked through the blind slats, there it was: a mockingbird--perched on the lowest branch of the short palm, shrieking and hopping from foot to foot in agitation. It could only mean one thing--Kit Kat must be outside.

Poor thing. She has a steady routine. In the morning, CoolGuy lets her out in the backyard. She steps over to her special place and nibbles a little grass. Then, she strolls over to various locations near the tree and sniffs this and that. She has a path around the perimeter of the pool, stopping off at each patch of plant life to sniff and check...whatever...and then move on to the next station.

Well, looking out the window, I realized that Kit Kat was trapped in the first stage of her pathway around the pool. The bird was now perched on the edge of the chaise lounge. Then, as I watched, the shrieking bird jumped down to the cushion and hopped around hollering in triumph or rage--difficult to interpret. I realized that Kit Kat was cowering under there.

So, I hustled to the patio door, and as I turned the lock tumbler, the kitty shot out from under the lounge and rushed toward the door, followed by the extremely agitated bird. I opened the door and Kit Kat dashed in between my feet and the frustrated birdie realized I was there and abruptly switched directions and landed up in the tree.

Poor Kit Kat retired to the bedroom where she is now recovering from the morning trauma. The mockingbird is still out there, singing her triumph song, waiting for the next encounter...

Friday, May 02, 2014

Feliz Cumpleanos!

Today is the birthday of our first daughter. She taught herself to read at age 3 1/2 and has not slowed down one bit since then. In fact---awesomeness in a career---she is a university librarian! Isn't that great? I can hardly think of a better career for one so dedicated to the written word.

When she was about 10, she came to me and asked if I would write a note for her to the city library. It seemed that because of her age, she was only allowed to check out books from the children's section of that library. She needed parental consent to get books from the adult section. She explained, "I've read all the books in the kid part." I don't think it was an exaggeration.

She also excelled in school, by design. Every subject wasn't easy for her, but she was determined, and therefore succeeded.When she was in third grade, we attended the local high school commencement to cheer on her piano teacher--a graduating senior. Reading the program, our daughter asked me what "valedictorian" meant. When I explained, she matter-of-factly replied, "Oh, that's what I want to be." She didn't quite make it, but only because the three people ahead of her (her good friends) were able to take extra credits that our daughter wasn't able to, due her willingness to attend early-morning seminary instead of the extra credit classes. She did, however, earn a full scholarship from the university of her choice, and they also paid for her to complete a master's degree. 

She has this same devotion to excellence in other areas of her life. Sports related activities were often a challenge, that not being her natural inclination. So, after spending more that two summers trying to conquer beginning swimming, she determined that in high school, she'd join her brother on the swim team. It's not that she was so good, but because she wanted to get better. And she really did. She worked hard and, while not becoming a medal winner, she did become a confident swimmer, and that was her goal all along.

She took Spanish in high school and college. Then she served a mission in Madrid, Spain, and became a fluent speaker, reader, and writer. One of her two bachelor's degrees is in translation, and the master's degree is in Spanish literature. She worked for a public library before working at the university, as the person who helped anyone who needed help in Spanish. I know she can also get along in Italian, speaking and reading. Literacy---it's her thing!

I could go on and on...but it's time to post cute and/or embarrassing photos!  Hope it's a great birthday! Eat cake! (She a fabulous cook, too.)

 Seven candles on this cake!

She was saying to Dad, "Take a picture of this!"

 On the carousel in San Diego

Just one of many awards for being a great student.

Receiving the Citizenship Award at 8th grade graduation. This fellow was also her customer for the paper route and he was big fan.

Reading is much more important than putting on your clothes.

Books were a omnipresent accessory.
(She gets this trait through the the gene pool, by the way.)

Another great obsession is the ocean and sea life.

Whale watching....

Whale hugging....

Comparing herself to a whale.

She visited us a couple of years ago on her birthday and we feasted. 

Now she has her own adorable little family! Where does the time go?

Happy Birthday!!