3/31/14

Writing Cards and Letters

I enjoy writing cards and letters.  It is somewhat of a lost art in our society, with the introduction of email, instant messaging, texts, tweets, and Facebook messages, to name a few.

Often I feel like some messages are better delivered written in my own handwriting. 

I have boxes of letters Paul wrote me before we were married.  I have other correspondence I have received over the years as well.

These things are tactile.  I can feel them.  I can touch them.

You can't do that with a message stored in a folder on your computer.

Receiving a hand written letter is part of an experience.  You have to physically open the envelope.  You unfold the letter or card.  You can see the hand writing of the person who sent you the message.  A part of that person was sent with the letter.

I spent part of my day today writing cards and letters.  I love doing this, and I don't do it often enough. 
 
It is a practice I hope to resurrect in my own life.....to send more written correspondence to people.
 

“How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.”
― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

There are certain cards I have received that I look at again and again, because their message was a great encouragement to me, and often, if I'm in a bad and depressed place, I can go back to the note and it makes me feel better.

That is one of the joys of sending a note....to encourage another.

And a joy of receiving a note.....to be encouraged by the sender.

If you agree with me on this, I challenge you.  Pick up your pen this week, put your pen to paper, and write someone some words of encouragement and pop it in the mail. 

As Haruki Murakami says in the quote above...."to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous."

3/30/14

Swearing

The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.
George Washington
 
I guess I have the sentiments of our first president.  My how things have changed in the last 238 years. 
 
My loathing of the swear word came during my 18th year on this earth.  Before that, I could swear with the best of them.  But not in front of adults.  I knew my boundaries(Yes, yet another way things have changed.)  But during the summer I turned 18, I was working with a group of kids the same age as me.  During lunch one day, I said some swear word, and the one of the kid's response was something like, "If you profess to be a Christian, why are you talking like that?"
 
Well, that got me thinking.  And it wasn't as if I liked swearing.  And I did try and stop on my own, because I knew in my heart I shouldn't talk that way.  But I couldn't do it. 
 
But then I went to church camp that summer.  And a lot changed in my life that week.  God's Holy Spirit is very powerful, and can make some big life changes in a person's life.  Such as eliminating swearing from your vocabulary.
 
That is what happened to me.  All of a sudden, it was gone.  It wasn't that I tried hard enough to stop it.  It was gone. 
 
But, with the elimination of those words from my vocabulary came a sensitivity to hearing those words that I hadn't really had before.  So I had to learn how to deal with being around people who swore on a regular basis.
 
I probably didn't handle it in the most loving way at first.  I was probably very judgmental.  I was probably very confused.  But I was 18, and life can be very confusing about a lot of things at that age.
 
Today, 32 years later, swearing is not a regular part of my vocabulary.  Oh, I am human, and occasionally something slips out that I wish wouldn't, but I ask for forgiveness and move on.
 
I realize I live in a world where people swear.  And I have learned to handle being around people who swear with a little more grace than I did 32 years ago.  But that doesn't mean I like it.
 
One of the things I like least working at schools is walking down the hallways and listening to the swear words, especially the F word, come out of kids mouths with quite a bit of regularity.  When I take groups of students on trips, I remind them to not swear, and that is usually all it takes.  So they do have the ability to not have it a part of their conversation all the time.
 
“Vulgarity is like a fine wine: it should only be uncorked on a special occasion, and then only shared with the right group of people.”
― James Rozoff
 
I like the above quote.  I don't see this as much in our culture today.  It is more common place. 
 
Maybe I'm old fashioned.  Maybe I'm like the Lion who is slowly becoming extinct:
 
It might be too late for lions. The number in the wild has dropped by as much as half in 20 years. Today there are an estimated 16,500 to 47,000 African lions, down from 400,000 in 1950. Their population has been carved up into ever-tightening, isolated ranges. Humans are spreading into these small pockets of space, and instability on the continent isn't conducive to conservation.
 
Here would be my write up on the non-swearer and the danger of them becoming extinct:
 
Like the lion, the number of non-swearers has dropped over the years.  We non-swearers population has been carved up into ever-tightening, isolated ranges.  Swearers are spreading into these small pockets of space, and instability on the continent isn't conducive, not to conservation, but to conversation!!
 
So my swearing write up isn't to convert swearers to become non-swearers.
 
In fact, some of you may be thinking this:
 
 
 
And that is okay.
 
But maybe, just maybe, my little write up on swearing will make you aware that there are a small number of us out there who do exist without trying to use swear words in our vocabulary, and that you may want to leave us what little land we have left to survive!!
 
 

3/29/14

Good Friday

Yesterday was a very good Friday.

I took my youngest daughter Cosette to my alma mater, The University of Idaho, to participate in Vandal Friday, where she learned more about the college, and registered for her fall classes.

The morning started out with the Vandal Marching Band performing.  Ah, such great memories of being a part of that group when I was in college.

Then we went to the informational fair on the floor of the Kibbie Dome.  It again brought back memories of working as a reporter at the "Argonaut", being a DJ at the college's radio station, KUOI, and being a part of Campus Crusade for Christ, now known as Cru.

Then we went to informational sessions on "Getting Involved on Campus" and "All About Music".  Boy I wish they would have done things like this when I started at the U of I.  I was sharing with Coco that I don't even remember how I registered for my first semester of classes.

At lunch, I ran into two friends from college, Barbie and Tony Tesnohlidek, who were there with their daughter.  Barbie was one of my pledge sisters, and Tony was in the Farmhouse Fraternity, where I was a Little Sister.  It was so great seeing them and catching up.  I can't even remember the last time I saw them.

I also saw another pledge sister's son in the bleachers in the Kibbie Dome.

A woman who was sitting in front of me at one point turned to ask me a question.  We got to talking, and we had both been in Marching Band together.

I ran into Lee Ely, who I graduated from high school with at Kellogg High School.  We also attended U of I at the same time.  His daughter is also attending U of I, and will be on the same dorm floor as Coco.

Other faces looked familiar.

I had a lot of emotions and memories flow over me yesterday.  I was proud that Coco is following in her parent's footsteps, and attending the University of Idaho. 

This was even signified on her nametag, as she was designated as a "Legacy"!!




I'm glad she is joining the U of I Marching Band, just like me.  I'm glad she is going to be a part of the Journalism and Mass Media Department, just like I was....even though it wasn't called that back then.  I'm glad the head of that department is a close family friend.  It always helps to have friends in high places.  And I believe her advisor will be someone we know as well, a woman who used to live in Kellogg, but now works at the U of I.

A lot has changed at the U of I, but some things remain the same.

Bruce Pittman is still the Dean of Students.  He gave a great talk to the parents about what to do next to help your child be a successful college student.

Even though there are lots of changes inside, the Tri-Delta Sorority, my home while at the U of I, looks about the same on the outside.

I'm looking forward to this fall, and taking the opportunity to attend the U of I home football games.  This, of course, will be to watch the marching band.  But I may watch a little football, too, as long as Paul is by my side explaining to me what is happening, just like he did back when we were in college.

I'm looking forward to Paul attending Dad's Weekend, and me attending Mom's Weekend, and all the festivities surrounding Homecoming.

And after spending a day on the U of I campus once again, I'm really glad the Coco made the choice to spend her next four years in Moscow.

3/28/14

Smart Phone

Thank goodness for my smart phone. If it wasn't for my Motorila Droid I could not compose my blog post tonight. I remembered to bring my laptop. But forgot to pack the power cord. Oops! And soon it will be time to update my smart phone at the end of April. What do I get next? Do I remain with an Android or look at an iPhone? Decisions, decisions. But one thing is for sure. I will remain with a smart phone. They are just very handy to have around.

3/27/14

Educated

Today we begin the process of getting our third daughter a college student.

Cosette and I are going to attend Vandal Friday tomorrow to get her registered for her classes to prepare for her freshman year at the University of Idaho.

I am very grateful to my parents who saw the importance of an education.

For my brother, sister and I, we all decided to get a college education.  It always seemed to me that as I grew up it wasn't "are you going to college", only  "where are you going to college".

I am thankful for my college education at the University of Idaho.

I am glad all three of my daughters are pursuing college degrees.

It will be exciting next fall to have all three girls attending college, each following their own path.

Right now, Cosette is looking at majoring in Broadcasting and Digital Media.  I was a Communication major at the U of I, and some of the classes Coco is required to take for her major were classes I took.

It is fun to see the excitement in Coco's face as she talks about going to college.

And I'm glad one of our girls has decided to attend college at their parent's alma mater!! 

GO VANDALS!!!

3/26/14

In My 50's

So, is it a mental thing, or do things really start to go downhill when you turn 50?

A few weeks ago I was gathered around a table with about 8 or 9 of my friends.  We all graduated the same year from high school, and had all turned 50 in the past year or so.  We started having a conversation about how things were happening to our bodies now that we are fifty.

Like today.  Today I have a weird pain in my lower left abdomen area.  It isn't my appendix.  Apparently that is located on the right hand side of the abdomen. 

It isn't a constant pain. But it is tender, and it hurts when I laugh...(uh oh!!)

It kind of feels like when you get a stitch in your side when you have been running.

Do I chalk it up to being 50?

I had a big day at work today.  It was the end of a month long activity, and I was in charge of a door decorating contest at the beginning of the day, an assembly at the end of the school day, then a dinner and scavenger hunt in the evening.  By the end of the day I was beat.  I came home, showered and crawled into bed.  I haven't left.  I am exhausted!!

It is because I'm 50?

Remember when we used to laugh at our parents when they would carry on conversations with their friends about their physical ailments?

Oh my gosh.....now we are our parents....now our children are probably laughing at us as we share about our most recent malady!

But I sure don't feel as old as I remember my parents when they were 50.  I look at my mom and dad the year I graduated from high school.....they were 50.

My youngest is graduating from high school when I am 50.....I am much younger!!

Is 50 the new 30?  I don't know.

But I do know that, whatever I go through in my 50's, I have a whole group of 50 something women who will help carry me through.

3/25/14

Slings and Arrows

In the fictional town of New Burbage, legendary theatrical madman Geoffrey Tennant returns to the New Burbage Theatre Festival, the site of his greatest triumph and most humiliating failure, to assume the artistic directorship after the sudden death of his mentor, Oliver Welles. When Geoffrey arrives he finds that Oliver is still there, in spirit anyway, and with his guidance (and often in spite of it) Geoffrey attempts to reconcile with his past while wrestling the festival back from the marketing department. Despite a bitter leading lady, a clueless leading man, and a scheming general manager, he manages to stage a remarkable production of Hamlet -- the play that drove him mad. - Written by The Movie Network - Synopsis

I was introduced to the Canadian television show "Slings and Arrows" when my brother bought me the first season on DVD for my birthday one year.  I remember popping it into my DVD player one day, but it didn't do much for me.



But the next time I watched it, I stuck with it, and fell in love with the show.  There are three seasons, and each season takes Shakespearian plays and you watch the characters perform them on stage, as well as the themes the characters are dealing with have to do with the Shakespearian plays that are being staged.  It is a rather clever concept for a show.

Now, if you don't like hearing a "F" word over and over, this may not be for you.  But I really don't like hearing that word over and over, but I got to the point where the writing, acting and show is just so darn good that I could overlook the language.



In the first season, the focus is "Hamlet".  Season two focuses on "Macbeth", and the third season looks at "King Lear".



If you want to try a great series, and learn a bit about Shakespeare, try "Slings and Arrows".

3/24/14

Gold Mining

While growing up in the Silver Valley, I don't think I realized the impact that Gold Mining had on this region.

So one summer when I was traveling home while living away from the Silver Valley, and I saw the Crystal Gold Mine along the road to Montgomery Gulch and Elizabeth Park, I thought to myself, "What kind of tourist trap is that?"  There was never a gold mine there!!

But, I was mistaken.  During my whole lifetime, there was a gold mine on that road, but it was hidden and nobody new it was there.  And then one day the started digging in the side of that mountain, and uncovered a gold mine that had been shut up. 

Here is what the website has to say about the mine:

The Crystal Gold Mine, near Kellogg, Idaho was one of the first hard rock mines in the Silver Valley. Worked during the 1880’s; closed by hiding the mine, it was rediscovered in 1991, reclaimed in 1996, and opened as a tourist historical attraction.
The work was all done in candlelight by hand. The guided underground tour explains how they drilled with "Hand Steels" using "Single Jacks" and "Double Jacks" (Hammers), how they traced the quartz vein using 1880 methods, how they tested the vein for gold. Beautiful stalactite crystals of smithsonite in an array of colors coat the walls. Gold and wire silver can still be seen in the quartz vein.

Here is some history about the mine:

Tom Irwin, a gold prospector, discovered a gold bearing vein in the silver valley in 1879. Tom built a cabin near this mine. His cabin was used as a landmark for many years. Although Tom was the first person to mine a quartz vein in Shoshone County, he did not receive credit for that in the history books (quote):
"Tom Irwin, a gold prospector, discovered a quartz vein and built a cabin at Montgomery Gulch in the spring of 1879. This cannot be verified as the quartz mine cannot be found."
We do not know for sure who mined this mine, but know Tom was in the area.
The mine hillside was blasted down to hide the mine, leaving tracks, mine car and tools inside -- a sure sign that they intended to come back. However, they did not, and the mine stayed hidden and lost for over a hundred years.
In the 1960’s the mine portal was exposed during the building of Interstate 90. In 1991, the owner saw water seeping out of the hillside. Hoping it was a spring; he dug into the portal and discovered more of the mine. The property owner put a piece of plywood over it. 1996, it was sold to a retired miner Bill & Judy Lane, who uncovered the rest of the mine and rejuvenated it as a tourist attraction.
While cleaning out the mine and scaling the ribs, Bill discovered some high- grade gold ore that was left behind. There is no record of how much gold or silver was taken out of the mine.

When we first moved back to Kellogg in 2000, we loved taking visitors on a tour of the Crystal Gold Mine.  It is a great story, and seeing all the old equipment in this old mine was very interesting. Plus you learn a little bit about how they mined for gold back in the late 1800's.

On this trip to the mine, our three daughters and our two nieces posed for a photo inside the gold mine.  We thought this picture was so funny that the girls got together a couple of years ago, and went back to the Crystal Gold Mine and recreated this photograph. 

I love the history of the Silver Valley.  And the Crystal Gold Mine is an interesting story that adds to the many tales told in my part of the world.

3/23/14

Kindred Spirits


I didn't read the Anne of Green Gables books until after I had graduated college.

But once I read the first one, I was hooked.  And I loved Anne's notion of having a "kindred spirit".

Dictionary.com defines kindred spirit this way:

Definition:   a person who shares beliefs, attitudes, feelings, or
 features with another; also called
kindred soul.

urbandictionary.com defines it like this:

Kindred Spirits are two people that make a special connection by sharing a bond that has joined them by the means of an experience that has drawn them together on a higher level of consciousness. This connection can be from the same experience at the same time or two separate experiences similar in nature. 

I am fortunate to have a very special friend in my life, who is also my kindred spirit.

My friend Anita.
Anita and I last year at a play at The College of Idaho.  Her son Evan also attends C of I along with my daughter Zoe.

As I look back on our friendship, I'm trying to figure out when we first realized our special connection.  Anita is Paul's first cousin, and I met her for the first time the summer of 1981. 

But we really didn't connect until Paul and I moved to Meridian in 1991, and at some point, we knew our friendship was special. 

There is something comforting about being with someone who you know loves you unconditionally, and accepts you for who you are....warts and all.  And you feel the same way toward her.  And we have a lot of similarities.  We like similar things, and have a similar world view.  I never feel any anxiety when I am with her, like I will say the wrong thing, or that I will somehow offend her in any way.  I am very relaxed around her. 

We don't get to see one another very often, but when we do, it is as if no time has passed between us.  We pick right up where we left off...sharing our joys and sorrows, our frustrations and triumphs.

Lucy Montgomery was on to something when she had Anne Shirley talk about her kindred spirits.  It is truly something special to have kindred spirits. 

And it is truly special to have a friend like Anita.






3/22/14

Singing

Today most of my day was spent getting ready to sing.

I sing for a lot of different occasions.  I sing in church.  I sing in our local community theater.  I sing at home. 

Today was a new experience.  Today Paul and I sang as part of a Catholic Mass funeral service.

I was a little out of my comfort zone.

Adding to this, I had to sing "Ave Maria", which I had never done before. 



Again, a little out of my comfort zone.

But it ended up going rather well. 

And I played "Amazing Grace" on the flute for about 15 minutes straight.  And survived!!

It was nice being able to be of comfort to a family I have known practically my whole life as they said goodbye to their mother, aunt, grandma, sister-in-law and friend.

And another wonderful "coincidence" of this service.  Paul's mom and dad sang at this person's mother's funeral.  And we sang for the next generation.  That really made it special.

It is nice to sing for applause.  It is nice to sing for laughs.

But the greatest reward is to share your singing to help comfort a family.

So, every once it a while, it is worth stepping out of your comfort zone.

3/21/14

War

This evening we stopped by the home of a young man we have known for many years who will be heading off the Fort Sill, Oklahoma to go to boot camp for the next nine weeks.

Our friend Jon is one of the nicest young men I have ever met.  I met Jon when he was in seventh grade.  He was one of my Gear Up students, and even back in middle school, I think he had two career dreams....to join the military or be a preacher.  Well, he is starting one of those career paths this week.



As we stood in his parent's living room, and his mother, through tears, shared how much she would miss him, yet also showing her pride in the fact that he wants to serve his country, it got me to thinking about the men and women who serve our country.

And how hard it is, as a parent, to have a child in war.

We have some very close friends whose son was recently deployed to Afghanistan.  I recently talked briefly with this young man's mother, and you could hear the concern in her voice as she talked about him being there.  Yes, she has a very strong faith, and knows God is in control, but the trepidation of having their only son over in the Middle East is real.

I also remember my Grandma Woolum, and how the death of my Uncle Bill had such a profound impact on her.  He was in the Navy, and was in the Pacific Arena during World War II, and his ship was attacked and he was killed.  This event had an incredible impact on her life, losing her oldest son. 

In our local paper, the Shoshone News Press, a writer by the name of David Bond has a weekly column called the "Wallace Street Journal".  To be perfectly honest, I usually don't agree with most of the things he writes.  But when I saw his headline of his column in today's paper, "Why I Am Becoming a Pacifist", I had to read what he had to say.

I like being surprised.  I loved what he had to say today.

Here is an excerpt from today column:

The soldiers come back with lost limbs, lost bodily functions, with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and can't deal with family life anymore. These kids feel abandoned by their daddies, veterans who spend their new civilian time looking for jobs and for snipers and IEDs. Helluva life. Welcome home.
“We Support Our Troops.” I am so sick of that bumper-sticker I could hurl a pineapple into the next rig I see wearing one. Of course we support our troops. They are our countrymen. We should be supporting our Steel Workers and Iron Workers and Electrical Workers, and our miners and plumbers, too. We're all cut from the same cloth.  
How about a new bumper sticker: “We Support Our Troops but Damn Our Foreign Policy.” These brave young men and women who come home with their limbs torn off are patriots but the foreign policy that sends them into danger is anything but patriotic. They are sent off on a fool's errand, to defend America's hegemony in the Middle East and elsewhere and for what? Liberty? Freedom? Oil? Gas? Coal?
So we send our children into the IEDs and the flamethrowers to prove to the world that we're still the big dogs.  
Why? Certainly we need a Department of Defense, and it should be just that. Our country is vulnerable to missile attacks, so let's spend our money trying our best to defend ourselves. But the DoD's job is  defense, not war.
The men (and I am sure women) who founded this nation were refugees from an empire. Why must we repeat this empire mistake, and throw our children in the wood-chippers of modern technology in the process? We have the copper, silver, gold, coal, oil and rare-earth metals to supply the planet for a century. Other folks want it. Let us peacefully trade with them, and bring our kids home.
If you would like to read the entire column, you can find it here.
I like that men and women want to serve our country.  I don't necessarily like the reasons why they have to go into the Middle East, or other places in the world where there may be conflict, and encounter the things they have to encounter. 
I found this song that Perry Como sang in the 1950's called "Prayer for Peace".  It is just as relevant now as it was in his time.
Come and join me in a prayer, 
In a humble prayer for peace. 
One voice may be weak, 
But together we’ll be heard . . . 

Let us gather ‘round and pray, 
For a life of peace and love, 
In a world that’s free from want, 
And free from fear. 

Pray for the hearts of all mankind, 
That they may find, 
New faith and trust in each other, 
And peace of mind! 

Come and join me in a prayer, 
If we all kneel side by side, 
In a prayer for peace, 
How can we be denied? 

If we only pray for the hearts of all mankind, 
That they may find . . . 
New faith and trust in each other, 
And peace of mind! 

Come and join me in a prayer, 
If we all kneel side by side, 
In a prayer for peace, 
How can we be denied?

3/20/14

Dancing

When the AC/DC song "Shook Me All Night Long" started playing tonight at Kellogg High School, I was transported to another time, but the same place.

The other time was between the fall of 1978 and the spring of 1981, when I was a student at Kellogg High School.

The same place was the Kellogg High School cafeteria, the sight of many high school dances I attended as a student at KHS. 

I was in the KHS Cafeteria tonight, listening to "Shook Me All Night Long", because I was chaperoning the Spring Fling, the dance the Leadership class at KHS was sponsoring tonight to help raise money for the American Cancer Society.

It is very interesting watching students at a dance.  At first, they all huddle together in groups, with people they are comfortable with.  Then the "Cha Cha Slide" song comes on, which involves getting in lines and all dancing the same motions to the song.  My daughter Coco is at the front, leading the way.

Tonight was a pretty easy chaperoning gig.  The students there were all behaving.  There was one couple out on the floor we kind of had to watch, but it wasn't bad.

I love the variety of music kids will dance to these days.  From country to Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball", and, again, taking it back to the 70's dancing to The Village People's :YMCA".

I probably attended numerous dances in the KHS cafeteria when I was a student there, but I have a very vivid memory of dancing with Tony Arnold at one dance to the song "Brick House" by The Commodores.  I think because he always went down on a knee when they sang the words brick house.  Don't ask me why I remember that, but I do.

I know I attended quite a few dances with the guy I dated throughout high school, from the end of my sophomore year, to the beginning of my senior year, but I don't have any memories of dancing with him at any dances.  But I know we went, because I have some photographs taken at the dance that proves it.

Who would have thought, 33 years after I left high school, that I would be one of those chaperones at the dance.  But there Paul and I were, standing against the wall, walking around the dance floor, making sure everyone is behaving themselves and acting appropriately. 

But it is fun to watch the dance.....the social interactions....the social hierarchy on the dance floor...and for a brief moment get a glimpse into the lives of the KHS teen.

Dancing....


3/19/14

Death

My favorite author is Madeleine L'Engle.

One of her books is called "The Summer of the Great Grandmother".  It is a book about her mother spending the summer at her big farmhouse in Connecticut, the summer she dies.

It is how one family, with four generations under one roof, dealt with the death of the great grandmother.

They experienced the death.  They let her die in this house.  They all experienced the pain of death and dying.

I remember rereading this book when my father was dieing.  It was very comforting.

Each death is different.  The way we experience death, in each circumstance, is different.

Death can change us.  We can be devastated by a person's death.

We can be shocked, because a death can be unexpected.

We can be thankful for a death, because of the way our loved one is living, and knowing that they are now in Heaven and are no longer suffering is a blessing.

There is not a formula to how we respond to death.  Everyone responds in their own way.  And I think we should let people respond in their own way. 

 It is hard.  It is unique. 

Some people are affected for years and years by someone's death.

Some people are affected in more public ways.

But let them be.  Let people grieve as they see fit.

We are not to judge the grieving process of someone.

When I recently went and saw the play "W!t", the main character is a  professor who studies John Donne poems, and she quoted from this poem:
 
72. "Death be not proud, though some have called thee"
 
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
 
 
To me death is not a scary thing.  To me, death is being in the presence of God for ever and ever and worshiping Him.  But however you view death, I hope that view brings you peace.


3/18/14

Star Wars

Who would have thought when Star Wars first came out that it would be such a phenomenon?



My first recollection of anything to do with Star Wars was a skit in 9th grade drama class.  That was in the fall of 1977. 

Star Wars had just come out, so we were pretty cutting edge at Kellogg Junior High School.  As I recall, I was one of the members of the Cantina Band.

I don't think I actually saw Star Wars until the summer of 1980.  It was at the drive-in in Smelterville.  I'm not sure you get the full Star Wars experience watching it in a car at the drive-in.  Because I remember not really getting it.

I also saw "The Empire Strikes Back" a few years after it was originally released.  This is how I remember all of this:



It was Christmas time, in the year 1982.  Paul and I had started "going out" over the summer.  He had returned to college at Western Montana College in Dillon, and I returned to the University of Idaho.  Many mushy and romantic letters were exchanged back and forth over the months between August and December.  For my Christmas present, Paul had a special dinner prepared for me at "Maison des Roberts".  (This was his mom making dinner, with us being served by his sister Laurie and his cousin Di at his parent's house in Kellogg).  Then we drove to Spokane to watch "The Empire Strikes Back".  There was a cold spell going on at the time, where the temperature was somewhere between 0 and 10 degrees.  When we got to the theater, it was really cold because the heat wasn't working.  But the show must go on, so we watched the show anyway.

When we returned back to Kellogg, it was my turn to give Paul his Christmas presents.  I have no idea what I gave him for Christmas that year, but I do remember what I wrote in his Christmas card.  I wrote and told him that I had fallen in love with him, and told him "I Love You" for the first time since we had started dating.  Then he hugged me, and said he loved me too.

I have no idea when I saw the third Star Wars movie, "Return of the Jedi", but I'm sure Paul and I saw it together. 

 
Now, I am proud to say, 37 years after "Star Wars" was first released, I have a 23 year old daughter that is a bit of a Star Wars nerd.  She owns a Princess Leia costume, a Yoda backpack, and I gave her a Star Wars cookbook for Christmas. 

And I have since come to understand what the story is all about, regarding the Empire, the Death Star, the Rebel Forces and "the force".  I realized it was more than just furry little Ewoks, or droids named C3-P0 and R2D2. 

It is storytelling that transcends decades and generations.


 

3/17/14

Band

I started playing the flute the summer before I was in fifth grade.  Back then, Mr. Benson, our band teacher, had what was known as "summer band".  I'm not sure how long we were in "summer band" in the summer, but I do remember walking with my friend Tina, who played alto saxophone, and I played flute, and I was glad I only had to carry a flute.



I was 9 or 10 when I started playing the flute.  I imagine I picked the flute, because that is what my older sister Christy played.  I guess the baritone, the instrument my older brother Bill played, didn't appeal to me as much. 

When I entered fifth grade, we had "band" once a week with Mr. Benson.  He would travel to all the elementary schools and we would meet for about half an hour and learn songs.  The same happened in sixth grade.  One thing I remember about being in the sixth grade band was playing in the annual Christmas program put on by the sixth graders.  I played my flute offstage, during one particular part of the program that told the story of "Greensleeves", and I was the flute player for that.  And, if I remember correctly, I got to direct the band in sixth grade during the Christmas program.  And I did it in a red gingham maxi dress.

As I entered school at Kellogg Junior High School, I continued begin in band.  I was in A Band, I think they called it.  That means you played in elementary school.  B Band was for those students who started playing their instrument in junior high.  So in junior high, I was in band with 7th graders, 8th graders and 9th graders.  Mr. Benson continued to be my band teacher all through junior high. 

Now there is a term called "Band Geek" that refers to those students who play in band.  I'm not sure in junior high, we were band geeks.  Most of the people who played in band in junior high were pretty cool.  And we had a huge band.  We all loved being a part of  the band.

I still remember being in 9th grade, and learning how to play the piccolo.  Marian Russell and I always vied to get first chair in the flute section.  Spring of our 9th grade year was very memorable, because we had two piccolos in our band, and we each got to play one when we played "Stars and Stripes Forever".  It was a very difficult part to play on the piccolo, but we both learned it and played it very well. 

As I moved into high school, I continued to be in band.  Usually I was one of the top flute players in the band.  But gone were the days of Mr. Benson.  We had a new band teacher my sophomore year at Kellogg High School, that was there all three years I was in high school, Al Taylor.  He was a good trumpet player, but I'm not sure he was the best teacher.  But I enjoyed band in high school.  I remember making it to the state boys basketball tournament my junior year, and getting to direct the band at the state tournament.  That was pretty cool.

I have many fond memories of band in high school, whether I was a band geek or not.  All three of my girls stared out playing in band, but Coco is the only one who has stuck with it all through high school.  And she is following in her mother's footsteps of being a part of the University of Idaho Marching Band next fall. 

We may have been "Band Geeks", but there is also a certain coolness to being a band geek.

I will always be proud of being a member of the Kellogg band program.

And here I am, over 40 years from the time I started playing the flute, still playing it at church, or at home at Christmas, or at an occasional funeral.  I love making music on my flute. 

I'm glad I have stayed with it after all these years.

3/16/14

The West Wing

The West Wing is one of my most favorite television series of all time.

We own all seven seasons on DVD, and I have watched all seven seasons at least seven times.

And each time I watch it, I still laugh in the same places.

And I cry at the same things.

I love well-written television shows.  And, in my opinion, Aaron Sorkin knows how to write.  Even though he stopped writing the series after the fourth season, his influence was still there.

I also like ensemble dramas.  Especially when the members of the ensemble keep coming back season after season and you see their character evolve.

I'll never forget the scene us the National Cathedral when President Bartlet lashes out at God in Latin after the death of his secretary Mrs. Landingham.

And C. J. Gregg performing "The Jackal".

Watching Charlie go from Personal Aide to the President in season one, to ending up as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff in seasons six and seven.

Watching President Bartlet and his staff deal with the president's MS.

Dealing with the death of Leo McGarry because of the real death of John Spencer.

Getting a fascinating history lesson in the episode "Isaac and Ishamael" as staffer debate about terrorism when it is found there may be a suspected terrorist working in the White House.

I didn't watch "The West Wing" when it first started in the fall of 1999.  But the following year, we moved to Kellogg and lived with my mom from August to November, and started watching it at her house during the second season.  Then I was hooked.  When we moved out of Mom's, she faithfully taped the show each week on VHS for us.

Once it ended, I was still hooked, so, over time, we purchased all seven seasons.

And, whenever I feel the urge to see some really good television, I put in a DVD, and enjoy watching episodes of "The West Wing".


3/15/14

Insulating Insecurities

As I have made my way through adulthood, one thing I have learned to do is what I have come to call "insulating insecurities".

This is a way of staying away from things that make me uncomfortable, or things I am insecure about trying or doing.

I like to do a lot of different things.  I have a lot of interests.

But the majority of things I do I can somewhat predict the outcome.  Or at least it won't involve my humiliation.

That is a big part of insulating insecurities....avoiding at all costs being made a fool of, or being humiliated.

So I surround myself with things I know I can do.  And focus on them.  Oh, sure, I try new things, but I take a while to weigh if I can deal with trying something without being made a fool.

Oh, it doesn't always work.  Sometimes something slips through my armor, and I am in a predicament.  But I survive, red faced and all.

Sometimes I laugh.

Sometimes I cry.

Sometimes I can't even talk about it.

But it shapes who I am, warts and all.  And that is okay.  A momentary affliction in my life. 

And I will survive!!

3/14/14

Travel

I love to visit new places, and travel to places I have been before that I enjoy visiting.

But I like doing it on my terms.

Sometimes I travel for work, and it gets my schedule out of whack.

That happened a couple of weeks ago.

Sometimes I spend months planning a trip, making all kinds of plans, and then I think by the time the trip comes, I am mentally ready and prepared.to go.

And sometimes I go on trips, and I feel very unprepared.  I arrive in a new area, and feel like I don't know anything about the place, and feel like a fish out of water.

But I usually have control over my traveling.  Even if I have to do it for work, I make travel arrangements and know where I am going.

But I just finished reading about a book based on a true story about children who were forced to travel from their home in the eastern part of the country to the Midwest to find a new home. 

The book is called "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline. 

 
Here is an overview of the book:


Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude? As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship.

I had no idea this happened in our nation's history.  I found it very interesting the whole story behind doing this with the children.  This book is a wonderful story blending the story of one of the riders on the orphan train with a modern day girls currently in the foster care system. 

Here is a television show about this part of history:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/orphan/

And here is another video that talks about it as well:  http://youtu.be/cWTTcNBfaRw

As you read through some of the stories, some children did have wonderful experiences. 

Others did not. 

But at the time, they thought sending them to good homes in the Midwest was better than having them live in Orphanages.  But after a while, they must have realized this wasn't the best solution.



3/13/14

Harlem

This week there was an explosion in East Harlem near where we helped out this last summer.

My heart goes out to this community and the people and families affected by this explosion.

http://youtu.be/QzI3m4wkkNI


In this video is shows the Manhattan Citadel Salvation Army helping out the people from this tragedy.  Our friend Lt. Stephen Mayes is talking on this video.  We know Steve's heart, and that he and all the staff at the Manhattan Citadel have broken hearts because of this tragedy in their community.

Pray for this community.  Pray for the people involved in this explosion.

I know I am.

3/12/14

Slowing Down

January started off pretty good with not a lot of commitments.

I enjoyed January.

Then February came with lots of things to do, so I wasn't home in the evenings quite as much, but still had some home time.

Then March came, and it seems like, go, go, go.

But I do kind of get out of whack when I travel, and since I was gone for about five days a week ago, that didn't help.

For those of you who know me, I am not a violent person.  But if I hear the words, "you are the busiest person I know" come out of someone's mouth, I may just have to smack them!!

Ha! Ha!  But I'm really trying to not be so busy.  But my being less busy still probably looks really busy to a casual observer. 

But I am really trying to not have my evenings so tied up.  This week has about killed me. 

Monday night:  Senior Parent Meeting
Tuesday night:  Sixth Street Board Meeting
Tonight:  Gave a report at the School Board Meeting.

I do think I have tomorrow night free.  Yay!!

But then Friday night I have something.

I am committed to something all day Saturday.

Sunday afternoon is looking rather promising!!

I just went into the kitchen trolling for a little snack, and discovered a fortune cookie on the counter.  When I read the fortune it said this:

 
 
Your free time this week will lead to great benefits.  Serendipity!!

H-m-m-m-m-m-m.  Free time. Benefits.  Like finishing a book, or reading the movie script my friend dropped off for me to read that she just finished writing, or ........

Yes, I can find some benefits in free time.  Let's see what happens tomorrow night!!

3/11/14

House Cleaning

House cleaning is not one of my favorite things to do.

But it is a necessary evil.

But sometimes house cleaning is forced upon us because of circumstances beyond our control.

Like today, for instance.

Remember yesterday, I shared about daughter Zoe sharing the "bad news" first?

Well, today it was daughter Molly's turn to share a little bad news with her dad.  And this truly was bad news.

She discovered there was quite a bit of water in our basement.

Fortunately the last time this happened, probably 3 years ago or so, I put many things in plastic tubs.  So we didn't lose too many things.  But water is never easy to deal with in your home. 

And I know many of my friends have it FAR worse than we do at their homes.  Some people are dealing with actual flooding.  With us, it looks as if it is ground water seeping up through a crack in the cement floor.


If you look close, you can see the crack in the floor at the bottom of this picture.  That is where the water keeps seeping up, and seeping up.  And Paul keeps using the Shop Vac to suck it up....suck it up.  Of course, ours wasn't working, so he had to go borrow one from Mom.

There is our yellow Shop Vac in the upper right hand corner that isn't working.

And there is the view looking from the back of the basement toward the front. 

But, like I said, it could have been much worse.  Once all the water is sucked up and under some control, we'll have to go do some cleaning and drying out of things. 

Well, the basement has needed a good cleaning for quite a while.

And it did help me find a box of papers that were old bank statements and receipts from when we lived in Meridian.  That was 14 years ago.  I think I can throw away the items in that box.  There was even one with burn marks on it that had survived the fire that happened when we moved up to Kellogg.

We also found many other precious treasures as we cleaned out some of the cardboard boxes that got wet on the bottom.  Old photos....the girl's old church camp journals.....birthday cards.....school awards.....we had quite the trip down memory lane, and that was only a few boxes.

I guess I know what is on my agenda tomorrow night!!

3/10/14

Time Wasters

I was visiting with my daughter Zoe, who is a sophomore in college.  It is always a bit unsettling when one of your children start the conversation with the words, "Well, let me tell you the bad news first."  Well, her bad news wasn't that bad.  She did something to her laptop that requires her to take it to the IT department on campus tomorrow.  Because her laptop is out of commission, she had to go to the library and work on a computer there.  She said that she was amazed how quickly she got all her homework done because she didn't have all the distractions she usually does on her own computer, such as Facebook, Netflix, Instagram, etc.

These are things some people refer to as "Time Wasters".  Now all social media is not bad.  And every time you visit a social media site, it is not wasting time.  But, I admit it, I often spend way too much time mindlessly scanning through Facebook, which then leads me to the Buzzfeed quiz I just HAVE to take so I find out what U.S. President I Would Be, What Dog Breed, What country I should live in, or what Joss Whedon character I would be. 

I just took one that used the answer to the questions "Who is your favorite Kardashian" and "What is your favorite Girl Scout Cookie" to help determine what Disney ride I would be.  Who knew?  (In case you are wondering, I would be "It's A Small World".)

Others I know can get sucked into the Pinterest vortex.  I have a Pinterest page, and I will often post recipes on there I want to try, but that site I do not spend a lot of time on.

Same with Twitter or Instagram.  I think I have only tweeted once or twice. I enjoy reading my Twitter feed occasionally, but I need to understand a bit more how it all works.

I follow people on Instagram, but I have yet to take or post a photo on there.  But my family sure has some great photos I can see on there, that often don't make it to Facebook.

I love social media.  Personally, I just need to make sure I don't waste too much time online when I should be doing other things.

For me, I just need to watch myself.  And make sure I'm not spending too much time watching too many pug videos, or looking at cute pug photos, or I may never get any work done!!

Like finding this photo for my friend Linda who is a big Green Bay Packer fan...a Cheese Head Pug...



Or this photo with two of my favorite things....Pugs and Sunflowers!!

Okay, we are moving into the danger zone.  I need to tell myself to stop finding cute Pug photos and posting them.

It is time to go to bed.

Goodnight!!

3/9/14

Napping

Sundays are wonderful days to take a nap.

And today, a nap was especially needed as my body adjusts to



Usually it takes about a week for my body to adjust to the time change.

Someone told me today that the changing of the time is really not good for our bodies.

It makes sense to me.

But, after about a week, I'll adjust, and my rhythms will be put right again.

That doesn't mean I won't look forward to my next Sunday afternoon nap.

Another reason I like naps are the dreams.  I always tend to have vivid, weird dreams when I nap.

And I can usually remember them, too.

Well, off to bed, to see if I can get to sleep since I did nap today.

Oh, I know sleep will take over eventually.


3/8/14

How Is Your Book Coming Along?

I often run into people throughout the week who ask me this question.

How is your book coming?

That is because I made a rather public display when I left my job as a reporter at our local newspaper by writing in my farewell column that I was leaving my job to work on writing a book.

So I spent the next year researching and working on writing the first of three historical fiction books about the Silver Valley.

I gathered some people together and met with them on a monthly basis, and I would read to them what I had written.

I also had a friend who let me use her "Sparrow's Nest" house up Burke Canyon outside of Wallace, Idaho as my writing space.

I got a lot done that year.

I worked on and off on my book.  One summer I even spent a weekend in author Frank Peretti's loft above his garage to continue working on my book.  That was the summer of 2008.

Then things stopped.  I started writing, directing and acting in productions at our local community theater.  My attention was diverted to other creative projects.

But I wanted 2014 to be different, and I wanted to be reunited with the characters from my book, and the story, and start working on it again.

And this is happening with the help of my three Aprils.

Yes, I have three wonderful friends named April, and I spent some time with each of them today.

Most of my day today was spent at April #1's house with some of my wonderful high school friends.  We have started a monthly group called "Creative Masterminds".  We have assignments each month and write and explore ourselves and our creativity and share these with one another.  We spent five hours today enjoying each other's company, enjoying the wonderful food everyone brought, and sharing very personal things to a group of women who we have known the majority of our lives, and who are safe and are willing to take time to come and listen and share with one another.  This group has also kindled my passion for writing again through self-reflection writings, and writing these daily blog posts.  And I know the time spent with these women with help encourage me to get back to writing my book once again.

Last night, I ran into April #2.  She asked me if I would stop by her house this afternoon to let her dog out, because she was going to Spokane with a friend, and would be gone most of the day.  Later her and her dog showed up at my house with a nice bouquet of flowers to say thank you.  April #2 was part of my "Canyon Creek Creatives" group when we met up Burke Canyon, and she would encourage me in the writing of my book.  We would often meet for breakfast or lunch, and she would share with me her book ideas, and her sketches.  April #2 is a dreamer.  She is a one of a kind friend, and reconnecting with her today felt very serendipitous. 

This evening I spent over an hour talking on the phone with April #3.  We briefly saw one another last weekend when I traveled but didn't have a chance to really visit with one another.  So we made a "date" to talk to one another on the phone tonight.  It was great catching up.  April #3 started writing a book around the time I started writing mine.  But she has actually submitted material to publishers.  Again, talking to her sparks my creativity and desire to get back to working on my book.  And it made me realize we need to spend more time talking about our various projects on a more regular basis.  We have already started looking for a date in the not to distant future to spend a weekend together.

Today reminds me of a song I used to sing in youth group at church when I was young...
It only takes a spark, to get a fire going, and soon all those around, can warm up in its' glowing...

That is what happened to me today.  Spending time with my "Aprils" and my other friends created a glow from all the sparks I encountered.  And instead of moving on with other projects, other busyness, other things, I need to fan this creative flame, and center my energy on writing my book.

Thank you to my three wonderful Aprils (plus all the other women that were with us at April #1's house today!!)