January 30, 2011

Snow Storm: Part 1

Wednesday night I was concerned.  We were we pretty unprepared for a big storm that had just blown in, and our power had been flirting with the possibility of going out.  It would go out, and then 30 seconds later it would flit back on again, causing us to hurry up and load the dishes into the dishwasher, and to quickly find flashlights in the various flashlight hide-outs of our home.  However my main reason for concern was that T was still on his way home from work and the storm was looking bad. He had called to say that his drive was going about as slow as possible.  He was literally inching his way home.  Little Girl did a cute impression of how fast his car was moving by placing a flattened hand on the table and telling us "this is Daddy's car" and then moving her hand at it's slowest possible pace.  I figured it would take him an extra hour or so to get home.  I figured wrong, and the longer it took him the more on edge I became.  I think I have a pretty unhealthy fear of losing a loved one since my mother passed away when I was 20.  I often dream of being widowed, then I wake up with such relief that I can't really describe it.  It's only second or third to the other nightmares I have of being an old maid or being cheated on by my husband.  I think I need therapy.  But I digress...

Finally our power did go out forcing us to bed.  I had my fire-starter middle son start us a fire downstairs for some warmth. We looked outside at our small wood pile and hoped we could make it last as long as it was needed.  Unfortunately T and I were not successful in replenishing that pile.  Just two days before, we had tried a few places without luck.  We saw huge wood piles just sitting there with signs saying "For Sale" but no one around to buy it from.  Weird.  If we weren't honest people we could have just helped ourselves. Without power our home gets cold pretty fast and so some of us slept downstairs in front of the fire.  I let the two girls sleep in my bed with me and they thought it was a great-girly-sleepover-party.  I tried to act happy but by now I was feeling the stress.  Last year we lost power for a day and were snowed in for a week with back to back storms breaking all kinds of snowfall records.  The memory of last year is still a bit too fresh I'm afraid.

After everyone was asleep I drifted off for a bit then woke up worried.  Still no T.  I texted my husband and asked if he was OK.  He replied that he was.  I asked how his gas tank was holding out.  It was now about 9:30 pm.  He had been on the road since 4:00.  He didn't reply.  I tried to convince myself that it was because he was driving faster and so he couldn't text.  But soon my overactive imagination crept in and told me it was because he was stuck or hurt or kidnapped, who can guess?!  My rational side calmed me down and I waited.  I waited and waited and waited.  I started to hear trees cracking under the pressure of the storm and ice tumbling down my rain gutters (or so I imagined).  Then I heard a new sound.  The sound of a car stuck in the snow trying to get up the hill, tires spinning.  I thought to myself "poor sap."  It also occurred to me that this was the first car I had heard outside for some time.  No plow sounds either.  'No one was getting in this neighborhood tonight' I thought.  I worried more.  It sounded like the sap was giving up hope of getting unstuck.  His car stopped.  Then about 10 minutes later I heard a loud and alarming bang bang bang on the door.  I jolted upright and dropped my cell phone I'd been clutching behind the mattress at the top of my bed. Shoot!  I'd have to fish that out later.  I fumbled for my flashlight and my robe.  I ran to the door thinking it might be a stranger who needed to borrow a shovel and I was trying to decide weather to err on the side of caution or humanity.  There is no need to tell you how super relieved I was to see that the poor sap at the door was, in fact, my husband!  He was the driver of the poor stuck car!!!  Happy day!  And just as I was letting my stress bubble pop he said something to me that, at the time, seemed like such a strange thing.  He said "what a blessing!"  Not the first thing you'd think to hear after the man spent 6 hrs on the road without dinner.  I acted confused and he explained how lucky he felt to have gotten stuck just outside our home.  How fortunate it was that at the last minute he decided that a quarter tank of gas might not be enough, so he filled up the tank.  I guess he'd had a few close calls on his journey, almost getting stuck.  Cars were being abandoned right and left.  He had thought about walking the last 8 miles home but he was wearing ankle socks and sneakers.  So, then I understood how "blessed" we were.  He woke up a willing helper (middle boy) who loves to shovel and the two of them spent the next hour not only shoveling his car out but our entire driveway as well.  We ended up letting a couple neighbors park their cars in our drive overnight.

As I watched them shoveling from my front window, (too wound up to go back to sleep yet) I noticed an exodus of walkers coming down the streets without their cars and felt we really did have cause to be grateful.  I am not sure how I would have handled it if T hadn't made it home.  I had been sick for the past few days with a painful sinus infection.  The kids had been home due to school closures, etc and I have been a bit of a mess emotionally.  So I am so thankful for this bright spot this week.  Maybe now the normal 45 minute commute won't feel quite so bad for either of us.

January 24, 2011

Cheese Evolution

I was just doing a fridge-rummage  getting some ingredients together for my Sunday dinner.  I counted 13 different kinds of cheese in my dairy drawer.  Is that too many kinds of cheese?  It seemed like a lot to me.  I grew up in a family where we had one kind of cheese in our home.  Cheddar cheese.  Usually it was purchased in large one foot long blocks, grated up with Mom's food processor, and put into a large plastic container for easy access.  A handful of grated cheese made a quick snack at my home.  Sometimes there may have been a block of swiss (so fancy!).  If there was an extra sharp block of cheese it was reserved for slicing and sharing.  When my husband-to-be came up to my home one time, and he felt a great sense of acceptance into the family when my father shared a precious slice of cheese from the "sharp block."  Still that is only 3 types of cheese that I had been exposed to by the time I was 23 yrs old.  I was totally confused as a teenager when a rival school teenager made an insulting comment one night after a basketball game.  He asked me "So are you from Provo High?"  I told him yes (he was from Timpview), and he tried to make a stupid joke comparing Provo High to provolone cheese.  Something like "What do they serve you guys for lunch over there a bunch of provolone?"  I wasn't even sure what provolone was and I had to go and look it up.  And in case you were curious, no that didn't get him far with me and no, our cafeteria did not in fact serve provolone cheese, although it would make perfect sense right?

Recently I got a bit of flack from one of my Utah relatives over my post observing Utahisms that I notice whenever I am in town.  I even got a call from my brother who ribbed me a bit telling me that I shouldn't make fun of Utah when I am a Utah girl.  I remember (back when I had never lived outside Utah) feeling offended by non-Utah people bashing Utah when they would come there for college.  I'd think "why are you here then? If you don't like it then leave, just don't complain to the locals for heavens sake!"  Now I understand a bit more about where they are coming from.  I still don't think you should poop where you live.  Having lived in many places I think you should always look for what is good about your place of residence.  Especially when you are among the natives.  But his statement about me being a Utah girl makes me wonder... Am I still a Utahn?  It's where I came from and I am proud of that.  But I have changed in many ways since I moved away in 1994.  I think one of those ways might be cheese related.  Would I have evolved in the world of cheese if I had stayed put?  Maybe.  I can't really say.  I can say that I'm grateful that now, my dairy is varied.  I recommend branching out.  So, now I'm curious, tell me fellow bloggers... what cheese is in your fridge and where are you living? (I promise I won't judge)  For the record here are my cheeses: cottage, ricotta, string, swiss, cheddar,velveeta (maybe I shouldn't count that), parmesan, mozzarella, havarti, monterey jack, babybel, laughing cow, cream cheese and we just ran out of gorgonzola!

January 22, 2011

Reflections on the Wedding

My bloggy friend Noyb (aka: Single Mormon Chick) has requested that I blog about the events of the wedding.  She finds LDS men who re-marry quickly a fascinating topic.  I must say that the timing of the wedding six months after his wife passed away was not at all shocking to any of us.  This is the second time he has rebounded quickly after losing a wife to cancer.  The first time was with my mother and his single life lasted about 3 months that time.  There are no shortage of widows in Utah Valley and my Dad was definitely looking to re-marry as soon as possible.  He just doesn't do well without a spouse.  My sisters and I cleaned his house for him before the reception of people that were coming, and it was pretty clear that clutter and dust (not to mention urine stains) don't bother him much.  He could totally afford a cleaning lady if he wanted one, but it was just not a priority.  His priority was finding a new bride.  I would call and talk to him about once a week  from Maryland and hear about all the new gals he'd been taking out.  I knew it wouldn't be long.  I can't really explain it except to say that he is an 81 yr old who is a mover and a shaker!

I am glad to report that his new bride seemed to be everything I had heard from those who knew her.  When we first met and I introduced myself she hugged me once and said "that's for being you" then hugged me twice and said "and that's for coming so far to be here"  I was tickled with this validating way to greet me.  She was witty, fun, welcoming, artsy, eclectic, nervous, and lovely.  Her home was where she wanted to be married and although I didn't understand that at first, (why not a chapel where more family members could be present?), after seeing her place it made more sense to me.  When you walked through the entry way there was another set of doors to go through but before that, you were greeted by a huge 20 yr old rubber-tree plant that had been growing up through the earth below.  They must have built the house around it and I sensed that this home was special to her.  She had placed votive candles throughout the leaves and branches.  I loved looking at all the old photos of her family on the walls in her home.  There were old school photos of her children, black and white photos of her as an airline stewardess in front of a plane, photos of her first husband who'd been killed in Vietnam who was quite the looker!  Prom photos, family photos, kids with dreadlocks and bare shoulders on the beaches of Hawaii, kids playing violin or rock climbing. It was not a fancy display with matching frames equally spaced and level, but it was a testament of a loving mother, and it touched me.  Another thing that touched me was the glass display case full of dolls from all nations.  Not only was the amount impressive but the fact that I interpreted this to mean that she appreciated diversity, and that she was accepting.  Not always an easy trait to find in a step mother I have found.  The ceremony was simple and she recited some John Denver lyrics to my Dad and he repeated them back to her.  There was a flower giving and taking with kisses on cheeks arranged by her I am certain.  It was sweet.  Then her cute grand daughter threw petals in celebration.  My uncle made a horrible insulting toast and my 'cream of the crop' brother redeemed our family with some more appropriate words about how my Dad accepted his step children (calling them "chosen" children) wholeheartedly some 41 years ago.  I know there was to be some cataract surgery on the groom the following Monday and my Dad said they would be honeymooning in a cave up the canyon somewhere, so I haven't called.  I wish them all the best.  Especially when they try and combine all her stuff with his into one house.  That will be quite the test indeed.  If they can make it through that they can make it through anything.

January 15, 2011

Blogging From the West

As it turns out I nabbed myself a last minute plane ticket (and an invitation-wahoo) to my Father's wedding so I am in Utah for the weekend.  I know it may seem odd that I wasn't invited at first.  Let's just say it's complicated and an 81 yr old man without much patience or taste for sentimentallity didn't mind the exclusion of family.  He still loves us and all.  I guess that's the main thing. 

I am anxious to meet his fiance.  She sounds like a lovely lady.  An ex-stewardess who has travelled the world, speaks multiple languages, and wears beres with matching plad skirts to church.  What's not to like?!  I have been assigned the job of taking photos at the wedding.  Oh how I wish now that I had packed my Nikkon D90.  I am not sure borrowing my brother-in-law's point and shoot will even compare.  I had limited space in my carry on luggage, and we all know that the D90 takes up quite a bit of space. 

So one of my favorite things to do whenever I come to Utah is notice the cultural differences compared to where I live in the East.  Everyone's got a happy springy outlook which I love.  The lady at the Alamo car rental counter couldn't have been more shiny.  But almost 5 minutes into my drive from the airport in my Hyundai, I noticed a distinct undefinable difference in (of all things) the commercials on the radio station.  The first commercial was a scripted ad read by the disc jockey.  It endorsed lazer hair removal which in and of itself is not Utah specific.  We have our fair share of hair in unwanted places.  It was the angle the ad was coming from.  The last line he said was "don't worry about it being an indulgence ladies, just think about all the service you could render to others with the extra time on your hands not having to do your own hair removal!"  I wondered how he could even read that without cracking up!  I mean all that shaving in the shower was starting to give me a guilty concience lately.  I could have been baking cookies for someone, or taking a widow without a car to the grocery store or something.  But, you know... all that hair removal I spend my time on has been getting in the way and I feel I need to re-evaluate my priorities. 

The next two commercials were about tanning beds and safire rings on sale at the jewelers.  By the time I got to Provo I began to have low self esteem due to hairy white legs and lack of bling.  No wonder there are rumors that anti-depressants are prescribed in high amounts to the women here.  So much pressure to be perfect angels of service without roots that ever need toching up.  Maybe I am too harsh.  It's just that these things really stick out when I visit. 

One last obervation before I click 'publish post' and get my day started.  We went on BYU's campus to go through the Harris Fine Arts center.  The exhibit was amazing!  The IPad walking tour really added to the experience and the Carl Bloch paintings up close were breathtaking.  I love me some art!  But that isn't what I wanted to write about.  The second we saw the Zoobies (students) I couldn't stop giggling.  They all looked so young!  My memories of Provo are to when I was young myself and the students on BYU's campus looked older than me or my same age.  I used to feel intimidated by them and now they looked like punks who should be wearing more than just a hoodie in 20 degree weather.  I jokingly called out to one of them from my car and told them about the pimple that needed popping on their chin and did their mother know they were wearing shorts in January.  I was tickled.  I'm a big girl now I guess.  Now excuse my while I go spend a selfish amont of time shaving my legs.  I may even indulge in some lotion afterwards.

January 11, 2011

Nothing More Than Feelings

A feverish child needing medication and hugging in the night makes me feel needed and worried.

A sick child who can't make it to the potty (darn those footsie PJs!) in time at 2:00 am makes me feel tired.

A new storm coming our way tonight makes me feel excited.   It also makes me want to get more milk and Motrin.

A sassy teenager makes me feel angry and sad.

Hearing my sons play church hymns together makes me feel proud.

Hearing those same sons argue over who is messing up makes me feel like a parental failure.

Seeing my Little Boy's feelings get hurt by his brother makes me cry inside for him.

Talking to my friend on the phone for a long time makes me feel validated.

Cleaning the house angry makes me feel productive.

Reading updates on Facebook  for too long, makes me feel like a bit of a loser.

Wondering what is for dinner makes me feel stressed.

Having my husband hug me after arriving home from work makes me feel relieved.

Not being invited to a wedding in Utah makes me feel hurt.  

Talking it over with another uninvited sister makes me feel better.

January 07, 2011

No Spam Please

So I am doing pretty good with my goal this year to give myself a break and not worrying so much.  Today for instance, after I got Big Girl, (Audrey) (- that was for you Paula-) off to early morning French today, I climbed back into my bed (unshowered btw) and went back to sleep while Little Girl (Eliza) watched Shrek the 3rd.  [An aside: Shrek the third is possibly the worst of the Shrek movies with the exception of the Snow White scream/sing scene].  I had intended to actually cuddle up with my daughter and watch a movie while the dishes sat undone but soon it turned into a nap.  A nap at 8:00 am!  Can you believe how incredibly well I am doing at relaxing?  Now let me assure you of my non-laziness.  The previous day I never stopped for a moment.  And the day before that was a very similar story.  So I was due for some rest.  I am also doing great this year at avoiding getting sick.  People around me have been getting sick right and left!  Even in my own home.  I don't know how I am doing it but I think changing the filter in our heater at the beginning of the cold months has helped.  Someone said it would and I believed them.  Now that I have said this openly I will probably be sick by the weekend.  Keep me in your thoughts please!

Now for my next resolution (just recently made) I am trying to cut out spam in my life.  Due to online shopping (a weakness) I am cursed with an incredible amount of emails from vendors that I would just assume not be getting.  I will come to them if and when I am interested but I don't want to hear about every sale going on 10 times a day.  Oh my goodness!  I just checked my email in the midst of writing this post and got some spam comment on my blog.  Lovesecrets.com is calling and I don't want to answer.  That has to be some sort of weird fate.  It's like Big Brother is always watching and He can see what I am writing about.  I guess I better put my spam blocking word verification back up.

To stop all the emails I have been "unsubscribing" like crazy for the past week.  I know it takes time for the block to work but I am not seeing any improvement yet.  The ones I hate are the ones where you are directed to the shopping site itself in order to unsubscribe.  They are just counting on someone as impatient as me to forget about reading all the fine print, possibly go shopping for a bit, and keep getting their stupid junk mail.  Yes, I mean you QVC.  And I never even bought from you but I had to sign on with an account just to look.  Pretty sneaky Sis!  Someone showed me a trick of 'bouncing' the email back to the sender making it seem as if it's not a valid email address.  I haven't had much luck doing this.  Maybe I am not bouncing the right way.  If anyone knows of some good suggestions for me I am all ears.  Those are some emails I would be glad to click on.  I will also be glad to open up a can of processed meat and grill it up for dinner.  We can all use more of that kind of Spam in my opinion.  

January 05, 2011

"Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow"

"...Creeps in it's petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.  Out out brief candle!  Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.  It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury; Signifying nothing."

This was one of the Shakespeare quotes that my high school english teacher had us memorize.  It's nice and dark.  It sometimes comes into my mind while I am washing dishes, or reading Christmas cards (you know the kind don't you?), or while folding the laundry (also "Out out damned spot" is a good one for the laundry).  January is the time for reflection on the past and looking forward with hope to the future.  In our family we have a tradition that is hanging on by a thread.  We like to make predictions for the coming year and then we stash them in a box.  Then on New Year's Day the following year we open the box and see how accurate we were.  Then we predict (or make goals) for the next year.  The problem is that sometimes (like this year), we can't find our prediction box...  I predict that next year we won't have any predictions if we don't find that box soon.

It always seems that my predictions are (predictably) about getting in better shape.  I would also like to read more and have more peace in our home.  We'll see if any of that happens.  I can really relate to Shakespeare's line in the quote above about strutting and fretting our hour upon the stage.  Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve something big every January?  It makes the month of January a bit of a downer for me.  Why not make January a month of looking back at what you did do the previous year and give yourself a nice pat on the back or a cheeseburger at Five Guys?  To say "I made it this year" "I am still here!"  "I may not be perfect but none of us is perfect and that is OK!"

For Christmas this year we got a movie I am adoring more and more each time a watch 5-10 minutes of it here and there.  We all know I can't sit down and waste time watching an entire movie downstairs with the kids.  My TV watching is limited to the times when I have to fold laundry.  Maybe that should be my resolution for this year, to sit back and relax more with my kids and let the laundry and housework wait.  Anyways, back to my point which was the movie I am loving... It's Fantastic Mr Fox and there is some interesting and confusing symbolism in it.  I am still trying to figure out the scene where he waves to the Wolf.  There is a running theme that we shouldn't have to live up to what others (or even we) expect of ourselves.  There is also the theme that no matter what we try to be underneath we are all just what we were meant to be "wild" or "different."

So we can make goals of course, but let's be realistic.  Most of us look exactly the same in the Christmas card photo year after year.  Most of us should just focus on learning to be content with the money we make, the achievements we have done thus far, the people we have helped along the way.  Let's just focus on being content this year.  That is my goal... BTW my arms hurt today from starting off the first Monday of the year with some good effort at my Pilates on the Ball with Lizbeth Garcia.  Happy New Year!