Friday, December 29, 2006

Kindness Goes a Long Way(Guest post by Barb)

He sat with me in silence. It was one of the acts of kindness that I recall with fondness to this day. I have had a few occassions through the years when I can be rather hyper. This was one such time. A group of Young Single Adults were talking about a trip they were planning to Utah. I do not know if I had thought about it before, but I know in that moment I felt like I really needed to go to Utah to visit some old companions. They said there was not room. I think I added something about riding in the trunk or on top of the car. I didn't think that seemed entirely far-fetched in my state of mind. It really was unrealistic for me to even think of such a thing. Going places was very hard for me by that point and I scarcely went to Church due to my condition. I did go to Young Single Adults and School, and Work(unless this was between jobs), and Institute. But it was hard as I have problems everywhere I go. I may have broken myself of the habit of asking people if something was safe that was racing through my mind at this time having asked one too many people who made me feel like I was a pain in my asking. Eventually, I would just stop going and that is probably for the best. Avoidance of going places is still a strategy that serves me well today in surviving.

Then I told the small group that it was okay that I understood that they were not my friends. I didn't mean anything buy it. I don't remember if they usually hung out together or such, but I was thinking that they must as they arranged to go to Utah together.I think the one man and the woman in turn said they were my friends. I kind of knew the one and was fairly good friends with his brother. I think I replied I did not know him and think I made some comment of like nature to the woman who I don't think I knew. She seemed nice. That young men said that I had an attitude. I promptly agreed in the moment with a complete lack of attitude in my acceptance of his pronouncment.

The other young man said he was my friend.(This is the one who would stay). He was in my ward and I do recall inviting him to an activity shortly after he came home from his mission. I think he really thanked me for letting me know. We would see each other at Church or Institute and he was always friendly. But we were by no means close.

I'm not sure exactly the order of events or all that was said. I do recall telling him that he was just nice to me because I was not active in Church. From what I had gleaned, he had been a very hard working missionary. I think he was serving in some capacity as a Stake or Ward Missionary during that time frame. I sensed a little astonishement at my accusation in his voice when he asked if I thought he could be nice to me for so long for that reason. I am not sure exactly when the others left and it was just the two of us.

At one point, I had a very forlorn feeling come over me. It was then that he sat with me in silence. Time seemed suspended. Then, I dismissed him saying something about how I didn't need him. He must have left shortly after that point. I must have been carrying on to the point that those in the next room heard me as I think somebody repeated something I said. Of course, that is embarassing to know that my display was more public than was supposed by me.

I called the young man later to apologize and let him know that I did not mean anything by it. I said that it was more about the definition of friends versus acquintance.

"My friend" would fall from his lips often when I would see him in the future. I don't think he used that term of endearment before that time. He paid for me to go to a movie once after Institute Graduation. I think that was after the incident.

A couple times he would ask me questions that were a little personal and say that is what friends do is ask questions. I think one of the questions was whether I was afraid to die.

When I was trying to move out of an abusive situation, he gave me a ride to an elderly ladies home that I had heard about through the school list of those who take in borders. I had never talked to him about my situation and he wanted to know why I was moving out. I did not go into how very bad things could be. I just glossed over by saying that my dad yelled at me. He told me that no home is perfect and that I should just leave when he yelled at me at that time and tell him that he ruined my day. That is not so easy when you do not drive and also when you do not like to go places when you feel contaminated. I would only go places immediately after bathing and getting dressed and incidents are not likely to follow such a time table. Although he did not understand, it was so nice that he cared enough to ask and give advice. He thought the lady was nice when he took me. She thought he seemed like a fine LDS boy when I informed her of our faith. She was RLDS herself. Moving in with her fell through ,by the way, as she decided not to take in another border at the time.

I haven't seen this young man for years. He is married now with children. I think of him sometimes when I need to remember that men can be nice to women and not want anything out of it. I have an inner smile when I think of how he seemed to always try to insert "my friend" at least once when we ran across each other. I think of how comforting it was to have someone just sit with me. I do not doubt that he is my friend. He won more than my friendship. He won my respect.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Tagged by bookslinger

Barb e-mailed me and explained tagged. Hmmmm......I think you guys pretty much know everything about me.

1. How much I weigh - you will never know that. Only one person knows that, the doctor's nurse. She lets me fudge, so the doctor doesn't even know.

2. How's my sex life? You will never know.

3. How much money is in my checkbook? I never discuss money.

4. I am an extroverted introvert. There's an official word for it. I'm not shy and am very friendly, but I need to be alone 99% of the time. And I hate parties and get-togethers. I even tell my kids to go home after awhile. People who don't know me well are always surprised by that one because I seem so outgoing.

5. I am the laziest person on the planet. My favorite thing is to just lay on the couch and eat popcorn and click the remote. Or just lay. Lie? I can lay in one position for a whole hour and just feel my muscles relax and enjoy the whole process. People who know me well know this is no exaggeration.

I tag Jeff Lindsay, also. I miss your posts, Jeff.

Merry Christmas, everyone! We are having nine people for Christmas Eve dinner, Prime Rib and Shrimp. I am dreading it.

Monday, December 18, 2006


I've had an epiphany. I love visiting teaching and I have a testimony of this program in furthering God's work and serving others. I bellyache about those who don't and I complain about the hypocrisy of those who attend church regularly and bear their testimonies and don't do their visiting teaching. I know who they are because I'm the coordinater in my ward. Which is a totally thankless calling and I don't recommend it.

But somebody made an idle comment the other day that perhaps these people don't have a testimony of that particular principle, but they have a testimony of others. And I thought, "yeah, like how I don't like to go to church. I don't have a testimony of the importance of attending meetings."

And now I'm nicer to the ones who don't have that testimony, but have testimonies that I don't have. I'm also looking at myself nicer because it's not that I'm lazy and church is boring, it's that I don't have a testimony of it. Yet.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fast Food Times(Guest Post by Barb)

Working at a national fastfood hamburger chain was a very pivitol experience in my young adult years. Therefore, this is probably going to be long.

I started working at the fastfood job at 18 when I was in my first semester of college. I consider it to be my first real job. I was so nervous! In high school, I had so much anxiety about my future and could not envision my sucessfully holding a job due to my spacey nature.

I remember being trained to make hamburgers in the back and thinking it was cool when I learned how to fold the paper around them. They did not keep me in the back long. I was quickly moved to work up front.

Shortly after starting there, I waited on my grandpa and his lady friend of many years. His lady friend remarked how I looked just like my grandpa's grandaughter. They did not know I was working there. Finally, I said something like, grandpa with a tone of endearment and they knew it was me. We would have a good laugh over that through the years.

I gained a reputation as a somone who tried to stay busy. However, I was not noted for my quickness in filling orders. Once a co-worker saw me move faster than usual and said she never saw me move so fast. I was so surprised the first time they called me in for over-time. They actually wanted me around! There were a few weak areas such as the fact that when reviewed, I did not smile when waiting on the customers. I was very polite though. They liked how I was constantly picking up in the dining room when it slowed down enough. I think I was forever giving too many fries. I may have given too many napkins too. We had a slow volume store and managers were very edgy about profits. The owner owned a few in our area and one elsewhere. Once he came in to let us know that he just bought his son a BMW.

Having the owner around made me uneasy. I was even more nervous when the person who I think was the district manager would come around. He would stand behind my shoulder and I would feel so tense. The managers were usually pretty satisifed with my work and did not give a lot of feedback. There was a manager who started to work there a little while after I did. She was a nice person. However, she followed me around constantly. She had a pointer for everything from how to do the fries to cleaning the window. Finally, it was just too much and a stream of tears started falling and falling. I waited on the customer and kept going until I was composed again. I think she made an effort to be more laidback from there on out.

I was very shy and quiet in those days. I would apologize for the smallest things. If someone was mopping, I would say I was sorry if I happened to be in the way. I was also very meek when I needed to ask the back workers about the status of an item. I would be just audible enough for them to hear me. I think I was incapable of raising my voice in that setting.

I did gain skills such a dove-tailing as I had to stock things up and also start shutting down the salad bar between waiting on customers when I was on the closing shift.

Sometimes they would have me do the prep work on the salad bar. I always felt very inefficient as I had to ask a lot of questions of the regular prep person. One day day I was doing dishes and had the bright idea to make sure I got the tomatoe slicer very clean by taking the cloth against the blade. Don't try that one at home as I had to go directly to the doctor's office to get stitched up. Upon my return, they told me to take my break and get back to work. While my fingers were still in bandages, I worked a holiday when it was slow and had to try to find cleaning projects to do that I could manuever.

I consider myself to be one of the least mechanical people on the planet. I was so impressed when I was able to take the shake maching apart and later learn how to put it back together. When I closed, I would wash the parts. I liked the order of having an indented place in plastic to put the parts.

Closing was fun for me because we would play the popular music of the day into the front microphone. It could get to be long on my feet though. I think I started at 5 pm once and we did not get out of there until 5 am. That is not supposed to happen.

They had trouble getting me to take my breaks as I was supposed to as I was such a nervous type then that I did not like sitting out there. I was always worried if I was doing a good job. I also would not order their regular food, which was related to my shyness. I would order a shake. It was weird. They thought that I did not like the food when in reality I often had their food at home with my family.

Then, it came time to quit. Not to many months later, I had to return as I could not get the schedule I needed at my other job to work around my school schedule. One of my former managers hired me back on the spot. I so did not want to work there. My home life was stressful at that point to put it mildly, school was stressful as I wanted high grades, and this job was stressful. I think I had a break when I did not work and cocentrated on my studies. I had liked the job that I worked in the interim. It was telemarking- my niche in life.

Then, I quit again and vowed never to go back. After my mission, I was not able to get Sundays off at my telemarking job where I had worked previously. I had gained weight as a missionary and thought this would be convenient as it was close enough to home to walk and also that I would get exercise on the job. This was during the break between my first semester and second semester back to school after my mission that I started working there.

I was abysmal as usual in the back. I was moved up front and the one supervisor said kindly how things should be easier as that was what I was used to doing. I was all confused. The cash register was different. I do not recall having difficulty reading the print out before. In addition to combos, they had dinners. I had trouble reading the print out and also remembering what went with a dinner or a combo. There were only combos before. Ironically, I had thought that I would concentrate so well when I returned to this job that I would outshine my former performance and fill the orders so efficiently.

There were new health regulations and also a video about food safety that was new. I had episodes of ocd. One of these caused nightmares for me. This was when it all started spiralling out of control.

I couldn't go on. All the managers were different than my previous two times working there. One of the managers was rude and sarcastic in the little sampling of the week that I worked there.

He was on duty when I walked the frigid walk from my home. Oh, how bittter cold it was. I don't think I was scheduled that day. I don't think I told my parents I was quiting. It felt like one of those windshields and temperatures that were dangerous to be out in for more than a few minutes and I had a strange feeling about me like I almost didn't care if I were being marred for life from the damage of the low temperature. It was a strange and surreal determination. I told the manager I was quiting and asked him if he wanted me to work the next day I was scheduled. He said yes. I worked that day and one of my duties was to mop the floor, which was something I was never very good at as I got it too wet and probably sudsy. It was really a back staff duty before when I worked there so I may not have had a chance before. I did my time and left.

When my grandpa found out I no longer worked there, he said that he did not go there anymore. They went to the other hamburger chain just a few blocks away. The coffee going downhill at my place of employement was the reason that he offered.

Sometimes we go through the drive thru there. That was a position that I worked there quite often that not all the register people could do. You had to be able to do the math in counting back the dollars. There was a coin maching that would give the change. After working there so long, I often knew without even thinking the amount of change on some items. Yes, I gained a lot of confidence there. As you see, I also lost a part of myself there that I have never entirely regained. My worries multiplied in so many directions starting at that point. What started as isolated incidents became every moment of my day on some level of having ocd part of my being. I didn't know as I quit that my life was turning that inside out. It was like up was down and down was up.

I like to imagine that there is a disembodied me in there. The part of me that was able to function and somehow if I were to go in back there that I would get it back.

But how I hope that I never have to go back!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Grateful Day

Happy, Happy, Thanksgiving!

Well, like the early Pilgrims, I am thankful that I live in America and have enough food to eat. I'm thankful that the natives are mostly friendly.

Today and tomorrow I will attempt to manage my material blessings to accommodate the company that is coming for the holiday. Bill and I struggled to feed our children well for years and now we finally have that total year's supply. A lot of it is piled over the basement floor and I need to clean it up and freshen the bedrooms down there for the company.

I will be warm as I do this. I will get to take a hot shower afterward and will have a clean bathroom available for breaks. I will have lots of fresh, clean, cool water to drink and snacks up the ying-yang. I will not have to worry that gangs of thugs are going to break into my house and rape me or burn me alive.

I am going uptown to the bank later. I have enough money to get cash to be able to treat my grandchildren to Santaland and the movies. Odds are a car bomb isn't going to go off while we're at the parade.

There is much in my life that is good. What is good in yours?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Talking From the Heart(Guest Post by Barb)

About twenty years ago when I was in my teen years and still Catholic, I had some thoughts about using the lay population in the Catholic Church in a way to bring more life to the meeting. My ideas were very simple and probably not far reaching like the changes in Vatican II effecting the lay members. Before drifting off to sleep, I found myself thiking about how Mass would be more meaningful if people would stand up and share the feelings from their heart from time to time.

These thoughts were not tied to anything I had heard or seen at the time that I recollect. They may have been oddly out of place in the mind of a very content Catholic such as myself. I loved the beauty of the Catholic Mass. I enjoyed the parts where the flock would speak in unison a piece of creed or a prayer such as the Lord's prayer. I felt accomplished with the parts that I memorized through the repettition of attending Mass through the years. I liked the short sermons that seemed to make the Gospel readings of the day applicable to our lives. From the pettitions of prayer read as statements where the audience would respond with a phrase such as "Glory be to God" to the part of Mass somewhere in the middle where people were to share the sign of peace by shaking hands with people who were sometimes strangers if I did not know them from my Catholic school affiliations to the end when the Priest would tell us to go in peace but not as the world gives it, I found comfort in the Mass.

I recall as a youth hearing the Priest make the supplication that we were not worthy to receive the Communion but if God would only say the word we would be healed. Being of a rather literal mindset even later that children gernerally are, I would wonder what the "word" was. I would try to have very holy and noble thoughts as I grew and would approach the front of the Church where Communion was served. The meetings were also broken up with appropriate times to stand, to sit, and to kneel. The culmination of all this order was apart of what I expected from Church.

When I joined the LDS Church, I felt the Holy Spirit very present at the meetings. Yet, I longed for the traditions of old in the Catholic Church. The meetings seemed so plain and I felt so naked as I sat there without a kneeler and the only time I could speak was to say "Amen" or to join in song. Even the music seemed wrong in the LDS Church as I was accustomed to singing to guitar music. The melodies that I liked of the Catholic Church were simple and the tempo was what I was comfortable with. One of my favorite songs in the Catholic Church that we often song was about being raised up on Eagles wings. Such an experience. My voice seemed under the LDS music and airy and probably from the throat, which is always a no no in singing. But I could not find my way with the music.

Later I would have some favorites in the LDS Hymms such as "I Know that My Reedemer lives."

After becoming LDS, I don't know when it was that I had a vaguely remembered that I had pondered about bringing life to a meeting by people speaking from the heart. Upon reflecting on what I had envisoned before going to sleep one fine night, it was very much like Testimony Meeting and also the many occassions when members give talks in Sacrament, Family Home Evening, and Sunday School, Relief Society etc. It really is special to hear people speak with conviction whether it is polished or more humble in delivery. Some of my favorite talks or testimonies through the years were very basic. A sister who converted about a year before my entering her area shared a talk based on Articles of Faith and her understanding. I recall how a long-time member was touched by her words.

I heard a talk by a young man so drenched in enthusiasm as he was for the moment sober and sharing how Alma 32 applied right to his life. I am not sure if he stayed on the road of sobriety. If heart were enough, he would of surely been set free.

I also like talks of those who have become mature in the Gospel. I see a certain peace in those who have sought to live by drawing close to God and serving Him and especially love to hear Missionary Couples speak.. A testimony that stands out was a talk on sanctifcation by one of my friends from Young Single Adults who spoke of how he gained his testimony. That effort was required on his part surprised me as I figured he had his testimony handed to him on a silver platter based on his being related to the President Spencer. W. Kimball.

One of the older sisters in the ward who was a Stake Missionary really tried hard to ease my transition. She made an effort on what would have been Palm Sunday in the Catholic Church to be sensitive to the fact that we would not witness that tradition in LDS services. She also shared her testimony in private to me about when her son died and how her husband said that now is the time for them to decide if they really believe what they had been taught about Jesus Christ.

Through the years, I have come to love the LDS Sacrament Meeting, Stake Conferences, General Conferences, and Fast and Testimony Meetings as people speak right from the heart. As I have quietly listened to talks and testimonies, I have felt many messages so relevant to me and my life. And I have have loved the conviction of the members who share what they hold so precious.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Autumn, my friend (guest post by Barb)

Autumn was my five-year-old friend in the last area where I served on my mission. She had a way of looking right in my face and twisting her mouth in a positions where lips are stretched thin in various contortions. Her eagerness was very infectious and very energizing.
I remember how much Autumn liked one of my companions who had been serving there before I entered the area. I was in a three-some and it seemed to be Sister Lee who she called Sister Wee who Autumn gravitated to the most at that time. It probably wasn't too prophetic of Sister Lee to tell me that soon Autumn would be drawn to me in like matter. On visits to her parents home who were active members who allowed us to do laundry in their home and despite a limited budget would often feed us, Autumn seemed delightfully under foot at times. I recall her mother driving us somewhere with Autumn present. Autumn said she was going to draw a picture that included me. I let her know that I would send it home and instructed her not to draw the weight that I had gained as a missionary.
Autumn's primary was having a special missionary activity where adults who served missions would discuss their missions with children in small sections. My companion and I were invited to talk to the children about missionary work. I had heard a sister talk in my home ward to the primary children about missionary work and how her children when small loved to be missionaries and wanted to share the Book of Mormon. It is always easy to hit the angle about inviting children to primary too although it did not occur to me at the time.
I had an idea right before class to do some sort of object lesson with a pencil that I borrowed for that purpose. I must have heard a quote somewhere where Mother Teresa said she was like a pencil in God's hand or an instrument in his hand and I think I quoted her and shared the thoughts I had tied together in my head prior to my talk. My companion praised me for being a good speaker.
Later I would learn Autumn's assessment. Autumn said that she did not understand what I was trying to say.

-by Barb

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hugging the Baby

Because my mother chose to live her life as a leech on society and I felt the humiliation of that, begging for food in poverty and degradation, I'm touchy about accepting favors, charity, accolades, gifts, or compliments. **That doesn't include those of you who constantly help keep my computer going, I don't know why my brain has made an exception there, but I will still be e-mailing you to fix something.**

But it hurts me to have to lean on others, including my husband. I'm very independent and I will crawl on a broken leg to do my laundry and the things I consider my part of the bargain in our marriage. I snap at him when he hovers. I feel guilty because I don't work and pay my way. I know that's not right, I know it, but it's how I'm wired. I take care of. Nobody takes care of me.

I've been ill the last few months, struggling to do basic things like get out of bed. And Bill has taken over a few things, the shopping. I stumble through my household chores in the few good hours I have a day and feel like a total slug because I literally lay around the rest of the time (or sit at the computer, that doesn't seem to tax my energy too much, although I haven't been as up to that as usual, either.)

In a desperate attempt to save our marriage (an attempt that has been going on for 25 years now:)) we are going to a therapist. Yesterday I told him how awful I felt that Bill was taking care of me and he smiled and said, "Did you ever have that one child who wouldn't cuddle? The one who would stiffen in your arms and want to get down and play? The one who you kind of enjoyed it when they were sick because you could hold them and rock them and love them?"

I said, "well, not really, but I had a grandchild like that."

He said, "that's you. You're the baby who won't let him love you and take care of you. He's enjoying this and he wants to take care of you. Let him."

I was like, "oh." Isn't that the most precious concept? I don't know how long I'll be able to let him be nice to me, but you know, I could get used to the foot rubs.

PS, I'm not dying, I'm just aging rather rapidly.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Book Review: His Favorite Wife, by Susan Ray Schmidt

I got this book yesterday at about 2 pm. I was busy until 9 pm, went to bed, read my scriptures, picked up Susan's book, and didn't fall asleep until 4 am. I finished the book. I just devoured it.

I ordered this book after reading a post on Viva Ned Flanders about Krakauer's book and being reminded of a quick news story I'd seen on TV about a woman (Susan) who'd written a book. She was commenting, as I recall, on Rena Chynoweth's listing on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted.

And I thought, "hey! I think a girl named Susan, who was married to Ervil LeBaron's brother lived across the street from me." So I checked it out and sure enough, she was the girl across the street with all the kids.

Memory is funny. I thought she was 27, had seven kids, and the oldest was a boy. She was 27, had six kids, and the oldest was a girl. I honestly don't know why we didn't become better friends, we were both young single mothers. I think I must have looked down on her, even shunned her, I don't know.

I'm pretty ashamed of myself after reading her story. You guys, this woman paid her dues in the school of life early and hard.

I've read a couple of books about fundamentalists, besides Krakauer's book. The thing that struck me the most is how much those men neglected their families' physical welfare. I remember one girl writing about taking onion sandwiches to school. Susan and her children did without in similar manners.

I'm rambling, but I recommend this book. For one thing, she tells some of the history in Krakauer (I cannot remember the name, it's early)--the missionary problem overseas after the war. It looks like they're all offshoots, related to each other, somehow. Oh, and here's a teaser: she almost married Ervil LeBaron. You'll want to know how that went. She was a pretty smart and strong 14 year old.

But more, she tells a love story. She loved her husband and he loved her. He was screwed up, she was a kid, but she loved him. She tells their story with unflinching honesty and expertise.

You guys, really good book. And I sort of knew her. Isn't life just so strange?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Everybody needs a kick-butt grandma

My grandma was a mean old lady. She'd make us go get our own stick and then she'd whip us with it. She beat the crap out of me once, for no good reason. It was absolutely abuse and I'll never forgive her for it.

On the other hand, she and Grandpa provided me with the only real home I had as a child. Most of the time, she was a pretty good grandma, not a perfect person, but she was overburdened. Long story.

I spanked Rowan yesterday. She keeps getting in all the mailboxes in my neighborhood. She opened a neighbor's mail one day and I found it in the yard. She opens my mail.

Yesterday I was out talking to a neighbor and I saw her head toward the mail boxes. Again! I yelled, "Rowan, you stay out of those mailboxes."

She ignored me and kept going.

I yelled again, "Don't you touch those mailboxes."


"Rowan, do NOT open that mailbox."

She did it. She opened the mailbox.

I lost it. I grabbed her arm, turned her around, and I smacked her a good one on her bottom. Just once, but I made sure it stung.

She didn't cry, she didn't seem upset, she got back on her bike and I said, "now you trade off with Janey in a minute" and she said, "okay, Grams."

I've spanked her once before, when she was three and wouldn't stay out of the wood stove. I hit her on her diaper then, softly, she was insulted, but she didn't cry. She never got in the stove again.

Last night, Bill and I were watching CSI and one of the stars made the comment (after a bunch of teenagers had gotten picked up for murders and beatings) "they need a Grandma to whup their butts." And Bill and I laughed and said, "Rowan's covered with that."

I'm all for corporal punishment in cases like this. A swat works for Rowan. Max is a different story. He takes it personal and acts out worse. We have to reason with him, but I also have to be consistent and follow up. I've never spanked any of my other grandchildren and I hope I never have to.

Of course, I cuddle them constantly. I think it balances out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


It's no secret that I like President Bush. I think he's a good person, trying to do the best he can in difficult situations. I don't like some of the things he's done, but I can say the same thing about God.

But I'm listening to his news conference as we speak and I am just about to fly to Washington and speak to him because it's bothering me. That is his pronounciation of the word nuclear.

He's the president of the (arguably) most powerful and rich country in the world and none of his advisors has mentioned to him that he's mispronouncing a word that he uses in almost every speech?

I keep wondering if he's doing it on purpose to sound dumb so people will underestimate him. I don't care, I want him to fix that.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

How Ya Doin?

So, how's everybody doing? I'm a mess. My chronic fatigue (yes, I own it) is back again with a super vengeance, worse than before and I am a true believer in this disease. Yesterday I literally couldn't get up till after 1 pm.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tim Russert for President

I've found my candidate. I've always liked Tim Russert, even though he is a confessed Democrat, I think he's the most reasonable reporter on TV. He doesn't bluster like Bill O'Reilly, but he doesn't get that hysterical look in eye that Katie Couric does when she's interviewing Republicans. He's respectful to all and he asks the questions I would ask.

I loved Tim's book about his dad, Big Russ. Despite my frequent irritation with my husband, I never underestimate his importance to our family and in my life. Because my father was absent and an abusive drunk when he was around, I realize what my husband gives to our children. He drives me and the kids crazy at times (you wouldn't believe the car ballet we have twice a week when we water the lawn), but he's the first one we reach out to when we need have a problem. Like Camilla Kimball, I'm starting to call him "Dad."

I read his newest book, "Wisdom of Our Fathers" in two days. It would have been one, but I had to help at a funeral.

Here are a couple of excerpts I loved (I dog ear the best parts :)):

(This is long, but you guys, it's so worth it):

The Room:

My father lived through the Holocaust. He had survived Auschwitz, the same camp Elie Wiesel had been in, and they were the same age. When I was fourteen I was reading Wiesel's ""Night" in school, but I had no idea that the Auschwitz he wrote about, where he had lived for a year, was the same place my father had been. But I did wonder why Wiesel hadn't been as lucky or as clever as my father and his companions.

My father's place was a kinder, gentler Auschwitz. As he described it, there was never a moment where people were dying in front of him. The worst had happened the first night, when they killed his parents and siblings. But from that moment on, as he described it, things were "not so bad."

He and the other boys kept outsmarting their Nazi captors, often by stealing food right from under their noses. As a child, I used to picture my dad in the cast of a black and white televeision show called Oscar and His Merry Men Meet the Nazis.

His four children, his kinderlach, as he called us, knew there was more to the story. We knew our playful and briny father had lost both parents, three younger sisters, and his older brother at Auschwitz. We knew which ones had died just a few hours after Dr. Mengele's "selection," and how Mengele, with his blue eyes, stared each inmate down as he decided who would live and who would die.

We also knew who had survived--at least for awhile--and who died just before the camp was liberated. We didn't know ther names. We didn't knwo what they looked like. We didn't know how the children sounded when they were torn from the arms of their parents. My father didn't want to frighten us. He wanted his children to feel safe in America "the best place to live."

But when he was very very sick in the hospital, and I knew we were losing him, I realized there was no going back. If I didn't make my move now, I could never again have access to his memories. If he died now, I would lose not only my father, I would also lose all the answers he held. Although he was very tired and sick, I said, "Dad, I need to ask you about your time in Auschwitz. I need to ask you some things. It's important."

He looked at me with real anger in his eyes. "Debbie, from the time you were a little girl, you always asked your questions. And I always told you, 'We got food, we got bread, we divided it up, we didn't suffer, It was fine.' And you kept bothering me and asking me these questions. And I kept telling you, as if I were in a room, 'Go away. Stop knocking on the door! I do not want to let you in this room. 'And yet you keep coming back, saying, 'Let me in.' So I'll ask you one more time to go away. If you knock again, this time, I'll let you in. But if I let you in this room, Debbie, you will never ever get out. So. Do you want to knock again and come in?"

I said, "Yes, I do, Dad." He was crying. He had covers on his body because he was very skinny and weak at the time, but he kicked off all the covers as if he were kicking down a door. "Fine," he said. "Come in, then. Come into a room that you can never leave."

"Can I ask you my questios?"

"You're in the room. You can ask me anything."

I asked him everything I ever wanted to ask. I asked him to tell me the real story, and he did. It was painful. And scary. And sickening. I felt that part of me had died.

My father was right. Once you're in that room, you can't get out. It's always with you.

-----Debra A. Fisher, Rye Brook, NY, occupation therapist, daughter of Oscar W. Fisher, importer (1928-1993)

And on a lighter note:

The Heisman

You wouldn't want to see a father do this too often, but once in a lifetime? What a memory!

My dad was born and raised in Ohio, and after WWII he attended Ohio State University.

I was in the eighth grade, sitting in math class, when I heard the school secretary over the intercom that I should come immediatedly to the office because my father was waiting for me there. Of course I feared the worst, but when i saw him standing there, he had a big grin on his face. When I asked why he had come, he said, "Archie Griffin won the Heisman Trophy aobut an hour ago and I wanted to tell you first." Archie Giffin was the great Ohio State halfback, and my father was so excited he just couldn't help himself.

--Jeremy Kahn, Olny, MD, sales, son of Jerry H. Kahn, insurance broker (1923-1990)

You guys, this is a wonderful book. I recommend it, and I'm going to read it to Bill on our next road trip.

And I'm going to draft Tim Russert for president. I think he'd rock.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Three things I've figured out about real sex offenders

I have a problem with the sex offender registry, which is why I I put the caveat "real" in there. I think there are quite a few guys on the sex offender registry who simply had consensual sex with a 16 year old girl who looked like she was 18, when they were 20. I feel really bad for those kids.

On the other hand, I know there are a lot of dangerous offenders who do not register. They slip in and out of our communities largely without incident. I'd like to see the registry make qualifications about the nature of the crimes and the age of the victims vs. the offender. Additionally, there needs to be a more concrete way of keeping track of dangerous offenders.

But because of my experience with my friend's son this last year, I've come to some very strong convictions about the nature of true offenders.

1. Offenders will always lie about their crimes, and probably about a lot of other things, as well. They have to learn to be very good liars--heck, I'm convinced they even believe their own lies. They have to, to keep telling them.

They will say things like, "it only happened once" or " I was drunk/on drugs and didn't realize what I was doing."

The other two things I've figured out are related to the lying:

2. They will conveniently forget the facts of their crimes. "It was so long ago." "I was pretty young myself and I don't remember exactly what happened. SOMETHING happened, but it's all a blur to me."

3. They believe that their victims enjoyed the abuse. Especially if the victim is a young child and the abuse wasn't violent, the abuser will convince themselves, and attempt to convince others, that the child somehow invited it. They believe no harm was done.

Did you know that even women who are violently raped can have an orgasm? And that young children can have orgasms? I cannot imagine the burden of guilt this puts on the victim. I believe this is a big reason why so much of this abuse is unreported. A victim must see these things in black and white and if the abuser brought pleasure to them, they believe they are at fault.

This case in my ward exemplifies these three things. The hard part for me to deal with is not what happened all those years ago--it happened approximately 20 years ago and went on for an unknown number of years. No one except perhaps the perpetrater knows how many victims there were.

What has tormented me in this case is how the family, particularly the mother and sisters of the abuser, has treated the victims and their families. The polarity in our ward has been intense, but the families of the victims hunkered down and stuck to their guns. This boy would have been convicted in juvenile court had his lawyer decided he should plead not guilty. His crimes would not have been publicized, he would not have had jail time, or had to register as a sex offender.

But when he chose to plead not guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence, the judge decided to bump the case to adult court, where he was forced to admit his guilt in a plea bargan.

His family, in return, feels they have been victimized. His stepfather (his father passed away) has accused the girls of simply enticing this boy, then turning on him. He was 13-17 (as far as we know)--his victims ranged in age from 5-8. When they got over the age of 8, they resisted and he went on to other victims.

His family feels these girls are simply promiscuous liars out for attention and possibly money, although I doubt anyone will ever file for restitution. I wouldn't touch their money, that's for sure.

His father was the bishop while this was going on. Because my James had caught this boy abusing our daughter, had pulled him off her, and punched him and reported it to us, we knew years before the other parents. We just didn't know there were other parents. Bill met with our bishop and told him discreetly about the problem and we let it go. We loved that kid and his family. When we found out that others had reported the problem to the bishop and that his mother was aware of one other incident, as well, we were appalled, just shocked to our toes.

We don't hate our bishop or condemn him. The times were different then. He did take some action, but probably, like us, he had no idea of the severity of the problem. They were truly different times.

But now there is awareness. His mother and stepfather are pillars of our ward and community. Several months before the abuse was made known, she gave a wonderful talk in my sister's ward about how we need to be vigilant and kind to the abused among us. She spoke of her friend (me) who had been sexually abused and how much she loved and sympathized with me, with my sister sitting in the congregation.

Now, though, that shoe is on the other foot. She refuses to believe the depth of this boy's deviant behaviors. She believes the two things I listed above because her son has lied to her and he's very good at it.

So I chose sides, against one of my oldest and dearest friends. But I've learned valuable lessons.

I don't know if they will help anyone out there, but know this: sex offenders are some of the best liars on the planet. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Do you feel comfortable in church?

Ned Flanders posts on his problems with the church are profound and though provoking, and Ann's honesty have validated my feelings. Last night as I was reading the latest post, I remembered something that happened last week.

I have chronic fatigue/epstein-barr and haven't been to church much in the last couple of months. Even before I had this latest relapse of illness, I had mixed emotions about church. My stake president doesn't like me (I bossed him and he took offense).

A former friend despises me. I also, as you would imagine, have many good and wonderful friends.

But church isn't about friendship. I have stayed active and in the church because I believe. I've said often that if I ever left the church, it would be because of the bad words who I run into fairly regularly. I told my sister, just the other day, as she was wondering if she should take the sacrament because she smokes, that she's just as good as the jerk sitting next to her who doesn't smoke. We're all sinners in the chapel during sacrament.

To my point: I had to go in on a Saturday to post the visiting teaching stats. I took my little grandson and his friend and their basketball and parked them in the gym as I walked down the silent building to the clerks office. I drank in the quiet of the surroundings and realized that I loved it there. I thought how sad it was that I don't feel that on Sundays when people are there.

The next day I attended church for the first time in a month with Bill and Maxwell for moral support. And I pondered the implication of the peaceful feeling I'd had the day before versus the onery feeling I had. I argued in my head with people who walked in and thought bad thoughts about them. Well, not all of them, many of them are good friends, like I said.

I believe that I am the problem and that no matter where I go, I will take myself. It's troubling to sit in a meeting and hear a testimony and not be able to agree. I agree with the truthfulness of the gospel, I just don't agree with the scorekeeping, the comparisons I hear, the crap. I wonder if I'll be able to stick it out and keep my mouth shut and remain faithful. I wonder if I'll get kicked out because I finally break and tell my stake president where to go.

It's a scary feeling to see the church with its flaws, to believe, and to not belong. I wonder where God stands in those equations.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

One week at the MTC and that's all they can take

We've had three missionaries come home after one week at the MTC in the last year. One was a girl who had panic attacks. Now she's overweight and we rarely see her. I think it's a classic sign of sexual abuse in her case.

Two boys only lasted a week, the last one had his farewell, left and came home in August. One is inactive, the other comes to church, looking stressed. I want to hug him and say, "hon, it's okay. You did the best you could." Probably Tiny whatever just ran them off.

Not really, you guys. I think these kids weren't ready to go on missions. Thank God they realized it soon after they left and didn't do themselves harm trying valiantly to measure up.

I just want them to know I love them.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Blogging thickens the skin

I write a column for our local paper once a month as part of a writers group. Last week my column was critical of The Vent, a practice I loathe. Our paper prints anonymous blurbs on Saturday. These usually are gripes about a neighbor's barking dog, or the local sheriff, or maybe a rant about Mormonism. It varies, but it's almost always a gripe.

I hate it. I think it's not good journalism. So I wrote a blistering column for last Wednesday, calling people cowards and urging them to grow a spine.

As you can imagine, people got mad at me. In this Saturday's vent, people complained about me and disagreed. Although they didn't sign their names, so I feel they made my point.

Yesterday at church several people came up and hugged me and attempted to comfort me because others were mad at me. I just laughed.

They don't know about the verbal fistfights we get on in blogging. What happened last week was mild compared to what I've been through here.

So thanks, you guys, for being here. It's been good for me :)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dancing with the Stars

First, let me say that I totally think Rock Star Supernova is fixed. I wondered last year, but this year when the devil woman from Australia lost, I totally smell a rat. I'll never watch that show again. Although I came to understand the appeal of Tommy Lee.

But this week Dancing With the Stars premiered and since Brian Gibson is a writer on that show, I watched with even more interest last night to see who would be voted off. I made Bill watch with me Tuesday night and we laughed because they can all dance better than he can. He's sort of stiff, I dance all around him and he stands there and bops a little. It's discouraging to try to give him a sense of rhythm.

I thought Harry Hamlin just totally sucked. Plus he looks gaunt, and like he's had bad plastic surgery. The poor guy probably has to drink coffee all day just to keep up with his wife. He was so mediocre he made Tucker Carlson and Jerry Springer (yes, Jerry Springer) look good.

I watched carefully to figure out what Brian wrote. Tom (can't remember his last name), the host, just annoys me, he seems so self-involved, but he told a good joke which I knew he couldn't have thought up on his own.

Emmett (don't know his last name) surprised me. He's a good dancer. Poor Sara Evans. I figured Viveca Fox would do well, I've always liked her chutzpah.

Jerry Springer was a hoot to watch, just happy to be there.

I love reality TV. Wife Swap is starting next week and I'll be glued. I try to figure out who they would trade me with, some sappy religious soul with a sweet nature. Bill would be so bored for two weeks and her husband would have to be committed.

Just love to watch these train wrecks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thought for the day

When we walk to the edge of all the light we have
And take the step into the darkness of the unknown,
We must believe one of two things will happen:
There will be something solid for us to stand on,
Or we will be taught to fly.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Me and psychics

Ever since James' death, I've been addicted to psychics. I keep trying to find out why, the exact circumstances that led to his suicide. I keep trying to talk to him. So far, nothing.

I always ask about psychics in the area I'm in, and Island Park was no different. I was referred to a woman who does work for the police. She is the editor of a small local paper there, as well. She does not advertise and was a little discomfited that anyone even knew she had this gift, but agreed to meet with me.

In the first few minutes, we established that she had a definite "in" with the other side. She knew things that she simply could not have known. She didn't tell me anything new, but we made friends and she's a wonderful person and I told her if she heard from James, to get in touch with me LOL.

I don't know how many psychics I've been to. The most memorable one was a transvestite in Vegas, who was a good palm reader, a less competent psychic, but a scary looking guy. Let me tell you, he was the world's ugliest woman. I kept thinking, "if he's really psychic, he'll know what I'm thinking." I kept waiting for him to go all Bette Davis on me and come across the table with a knife. But he didn't kill me and it was another experience for my memoirs.

This psychic is something I allow myself as part of my grieving process. I've only been to one, three weeks after James' death, who comforted me. Where I felt better, almost euphoric, after. Of course it didn't last.

I've told God over and over in no uncertain terms I want to talk to my son. I've demanded and raged and shouted and cussed at Him. Silence. Well, I'll show Him.

I figure whatever gets me through the day is all good. Like most things in my life, it's entertaining for those around me, they don't know I'm dead serious. You can get away with a lot if you laugh while you do it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

My boy toys

I'm back from a beautiful and restful place. I'm thinking of running away there permanently. I could blog from the pines with a gentle river running nearby. No dogs barking, no traffic or lawn mowers.

The people were pretty cool, also. As you would imagine, I now have several life long friends. Bill had a good time fishing and banging around at 5 am. Geez, Louise, the man is a menace.

I have lots of good stories, but the best one is what happened to me and Pauline Thursday night. The guys were late and we decided to go out to eat (we'd had Reflexology treatments earlier, the life of Riley).

We walked into the crowded restaurant our masseuse (no clue how to spell that) recommended and looked around without hope, thinking we'd have to go to Subway. They have a Subway in the forest.

The waitress came up and we asked if anybody was almost through and she said, "hey why don't you sit with these guys?" There were four young guys sitting at a large table and they were loudly amenable, so I went over and sat by them. Pauline just stood there, horrified. She said she couldn't sit with men she didn't know.

I thought, "oh, heck, Pauline, these are barely men. You have children older than they are." They looked like early 20's.

Finally I persuaded her to come sit with us and we ordered a great dinner. We had the best time with those guys. They were smart and funny and as it turns out, in their 30's. Everybody looks young to me nowadays. Three were married and one, the cutest, had to look at Jessie's picture. He had to because I made him.

One had read The Kite Runner, and they were impressed that I was a blogger. They were probably impressed that I even knew what a blog was. They showed me a Blackberry (guess what I'm getting for Christmas) and we had a good old time. We laughed and laughed. They were impressed that I could laugh without being drunk. I'm pretty sure they were on their way to a good drunk.

They were kind of like you young guys, funny and smart and good. And oh, guess what? One was a doctor and two were lawyers. The scruffy cute one, who I thought was the under achiever younger brother tag along was a lawyer!

Pauline was sort of mortified by our daring. She couldn't wait to tell Paul about our scandalous dinner with a bunch of guys we weren't married to. Paul and Bill were completely uninterested and underwhelmed. They were focused on fixing steaks for their dinner, repairing the boat, and lamenting a day without a lot of fish (they got skunked). They didn't even worry that their wives had dinner with young good looking smart guys. Well, who were younger than our children.

It's fun being the old broad because you don't have to worry if you eat like a pig and you can be yourself. I think I'll get me some boy toys.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Guest Post by my pal, Barb "My Institute Graduation Speech :)"

In my city, we have a wonderful building for the Institute of Religion near a local University. When I first started attending Institute here before we had our own building. We met at rooms at the Student Center on campus. The classes were very small in those days and we often sat in comfortable sofa chairs or around a board table.

I was invited to Institute by the same friend who introduced me to the LDS Church. I already had a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel, but I do not think I really knew about temples or Living Prophets at this point. I think it was a month or more before I had my first discussion with the Missionaries though I was so anxious for them to arrange them for me much sooner. There I sat in those early days in my sponge like state. I was so impressed by my Instructor and his ability to make sense out of chapters of the Old Testament that were so dry that I daydreamed when reading them.

I remember the excitement when we were trying to push for enough membership to get our building. The building was very large for our needs as it used to be a Church. The basement was set up with a pool table, ping pong tables, and that game where the wooden statue hit a ball through a goal etc. There was also a kitchen area and we had a lot of snacks with the honor system in those days of leaving cash in the little bowel or at least an I.O.U. until you could pay.

My instructor was always willing to drop his reading preparations to talk to me when I was in a talkative state or had concerns. It is hard to summarize years of lessons. What I do know is that in some areas, I had more knowledge than companions who were raised in active families.

What was most critical, was his relentless emphasis on making and keeping covenants. I knew that the Gospel was serious. I am not sure that I would have the roots without his explicit instruction. These teachings may have gone over my head in other settings.

In all, Institute was a great place to meet with people for class or to hang out among those who had like standards. When the day came for my long awaited graduation, I was surprised to learn that I would not be speaking. I had gone to so many graduations and had often envisioned myself on that day summing up my experience. I was asked to give a prayer.

This was a case of feeling a little slighted on my part. Even years later, I sometimes get a little mad when I think about although I don't think I am generally a petty person. Then, I remind myself that hardly anyone was even there for the talks as most did not arrive until the dinner afterwards. I guess it would have been more for me. A right of passage as you will. But I think my thinking is much more synthesized now to know how formative this experience was to me. So this is my belated talk. I am an Institute graduate!

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Nugget of Wisdom, suitable for blogging

I always read the Ensign cover to cover, but not the month I get it. I listen to most of conference and then read the talks I missed. I'm behind.

But last night I read this astounding bit of wisdom and thought it would work in the blogging world, so I want to share it:

(Instruments of the Lord's Peace, by Robert S. Wood)

"I recall that as a graduate student I wrote a critique of an important political philosopher. It was clear that I disagreed with him. My professor told me that my paper was good, but not good enough. Before you launch into your criticism, she said, you must first present the strongest case for the position you are opposing, one that the philosopher himself could accept."

"I redid the paper. I still had important differences with the philosopher, but I understood him better, and I saw the strengths and virtues, as well as limitations of his belief."

I think this is good advice for all bloggers. I'm going to try it next time I am mad at someone on the blog.

I'll be gone for a week starting Friday, plus I have to get ready, so won't be blogging for awhile. So long suckers, eat your hearts out. I'll be in Yellowstone.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An interesting link (the kid can write)

We have a few kids who've been columnists at the paper, some have left for missions and not returned. One actually ran for office in St. George last year. I would've voted for him in a New York minute.

This was the column this morning. I'm not sure I agree with this young man, but he's light years ahead of me in intellect and maturity and makes an interesting premise.

I hope I did that right.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Playing with Cathy's head

We got a new Relief Society president in our ward. It's the across the street neighbor and a dear friend.

I've taken some interest in this process since we were told we would be released in June. I'm the visiting teaching superviser, but I loathe this calling and was just putting in my time, enduring till June.

June came. And went. I was bellyaching to beat the band. What was up with this?

July came. And I thought, "oh, crap, what if I like the new Relief Society president and she needs me?" So I told the bishop I'd hang in there, but I'd rather be released.

August 1 came. No new president. I'm extremely curious by this point why we're not released yet (heck, everybody was). I'd picked out my president back in June. It was Cathy across the street, but she swore up and down she wasn't it.

So I called a few other ladies. This is what I said, "well, I'm re-arranging the whole visiting teaching any way how I want and making a big mess of it. What do you think of that?" They all said, "that's okay with us, Anne." Nada. Zip. Zero. This person was the biggest secret west of the Mississippi.

Finally I'm told she'd been called. It would be a few weeks. The old president, also a good friend, told me she'd told the new president I'd stay on. I said, "why did you do that?"

"Anne, you like her."

"How do you know that? You thought I could keep a secret. You clearly don't know me."

And I stewed. Because how could I say, "Oh, I changed my mind. I want to be released." Since this person thought I liked her.

Cathy had a good time with me talking to her. "I'm in trouble. Because how can I gracefully quit now if I don't like her? How could they tell her that?"

Then a little bird told me my friend Cathy is the best secret keeper in the ward and the new Relief Society president. What fun she must have been having.

Hmmm.....sometimes I can keep a straight face. I went over and said, "Cathy, I have to change you. I have to take these two ladies and give you these two. I'm doing it tomorrow before the new president gets in Sunday. I'm making a bunch of changes the way I want it so she can't change it when she gets in." I discussed specific ladies. She said, "what if the new president doesn't want that?"

I said, "oh, screw her. she can fire me." Her son, the father of three kids, was sitting there. He laughed at me and said, "who's the new Relief Society president?"

Me and Cathy said, "we don't know."

Then she followed me out to the door saying, "Now, you might want to think about those changes." She knows I'm emotional and impulsive and I was geniunely worried about some of these ladies.

I said, "no, there's no time." Then I said, "You know what else me and Kim are going to do? Trade callings. She thinks this calling would be okay and I want hers bad (compassionate service). The new president won't know the difference, we'll just tell her they were mixed up and we'll trade callings."

She said, "you can't do that."

I said, "oh, sure I can, I've discovered you can do pretty much what you want as long as you pay your tithing and go to church on Sunday. Besides, who cares? Nobody else wants these callings."

Well, I probably overplayed my hand. But she sure didn't. She can keep her mouth shut. What an admirable quality. The only way I can keep my mouth shut is if I get my voice box removed. Which then I would be slapping people.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This n That'

I've been ill and haven't had much energy for blogging. Plus it's late summer and I hate summer. It's hot and noisy and smothery. So I lay around all day and try to endure. Is that lie around? Ly around? Whatever.

I'm reading Levi Peterson's autobiography slowly. He's incredibly honest and I find that delightful. I just read that he thought he might be gay. I find the thought process so funny, "hmm...maybe I am gay after all. Well, that would be a relief." Then he talks about how much he loves and lusts after his wife.

I wondered if all men wonder if they're gay. I don't think women wonder about that. We love each other without it being in the least bit sexual. Lately I've been hugged a lot and I've noticed how squishy womens bodies are. They feel comfy, like a stuffed animal and I realize how good it must feel to a man to hug a chubby woman. And I feel less conflicted about my own chubbiness.

I wanted to share something cool that I just read in Terri Hatcher's book (I finally finished it!):

". . .there's joy in what you've got, even if you can't see it by yourself.

That's why I wrote this book. I want us to be there for each other, by accident and on purpose. . . .I remember that for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. You toss a ball up in the air, it comes down. That's the way I see us affecting each other in life. The intensity of your passion in the world, whether you build houses or raise children or manufacture computer chips, and that action creates consequences. Those consequences have their own effects. So in everything we do, we're responsible, as a community--for our planet, for our society, and for each other."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dessie

Dessie is named after my grandmother. I love that name. I aspire to that name. Dessie used to be my funniest, energetic, and fun-nest sister. More talent and heart than the rest of us put together.

She's had a rough time of it the last 15 years. She began to remember abuse at the hands of my father and went off the deep end. She ended up being married three times, left her family, and met up with a couple of real jerks. Now she lives with a Catholic guy, who is a great cook, and a jerk. She says he loves her. I think he dominates her. Her relationship with her children is tenuous, careful.

When we get together, we could laugh for hours. Now Dessie takes a few extra seconds before she can process and more often just smiles quietly than her signature cackle-giggle. We used to eat the candy she shoplifted and fight the fights she would start as she--pit-bull-like--thought she was ten foot tall and bullet proof. We used to hold her down and punch her and she would laugh. That sounds so sick. But when you're poor, I guess you entertain yourself how you can.

I miss my sister. Today she turns 50. How weird it that? To have a younger sister who is the ancient age of 50. To have a younger sister who is light years older than you is sad.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Bill loses his temper

My husband is usually a dignified sort of person. He misses being a gentle giant by a hair because of his anal attitude towards tasks. He's like his mother, who used to offer her suggestions until I agreed with her just to shut her up. I've said it's like being beaten to death by a butterfly.

He and I bicker constantly because we are both OCD--I about people, he about tasks. So I see him mad quite a bit. It's a fair fight :).

Others, though, seldom see this side of him. But he came home from work yesterday disappointed with himself because he'd lost his temper with a co-worker. He was embarrassed, I thought it was funny.

A young man, our daughter's age, who works in the detail shop of the car dealership where Bill is a salesman, smarted off to Bill when he asked him to put gas in a car. Bill was at the wheel of said car at the time and the young man said, "you go do it, Bill. Do your job."

It's funny the things that can push a 60 year old bald-headed man over the edge. A man who never cusses. He says dog manure, not dog poop.

Bill put the car in park, got out and walked up to that kid, madder than heck, got in his face said, "You snot-snosed little shit, don't you ever talk to me that way again. You do your job." Bill said the boy stood there in shock, which was a good thing because he felt like punching him. The two other guys standing there kept their mouth shut, also.

And he got in the car and drove off. He's mortified. I'm entertained. I wonder what that kid will say to Sarah? "Your dad almost punched me out?"

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bill in the morning

When Bill and I were engaged, I went over to his house early one morning for some reason. I opened the kitchen door and he was sitting at the table with his head bowed, praying over his breakfast. He looked a little embarrassed, but I was impressed.

He never eats without blessing his food (not counting at McDonald's). I can look into the kitchen from my office. I cook his breakfast (or he does :)), set it on the table and go into the office. Then I watch for him to bow his head, as he invariably does, to bless his food. We have this moment of silence as I bow my head with him.

He is a good man.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Levi Peterson wrote me a letter

Yes, he did. I wrote to him with a whole new ending, or sequel to Aspen Marooney and he wrote me back.

And my butt is so gold.

The Girls

I am generally reading several books at once. I also read the Ensign cover to cover, which I consider obedience, and I often miss the good stuff that's there in my dogged devotion to reading the words in there, at the expense of quality. I brag about how I always read it, but am often reminded through the bloggernacle to go back and check out something especially profound. I read the scriptures daily.

I'm also reading Levi Peterson's autobiography, which started out very interesting, but is dragging as I read about his dating and college years. I think it will pick up. Oh, and a small book called Facing God which was recommended to me by my monk friend.

I always have three piles of books on my bookshelf. One is books from the bookmobile, which parks right in front of my house; one is a pile from the Cedar City library, and the other is books I have purchased.

I had a bunch of books checked out, so I put off reading The Girls by Lori Lansens (along with John Updike's The Terrorist, which I may never get to) so I could get all my borrowed books back to their respective facilities sometime in the year I checked them out.

The Girls is a worthy book. I will not donate this book, I will keep it. I recommend it to all readers. It's full of insight, but the story is compelling--about Siamese twins joined at the head. The author does a wonderful job of writing in both twins' voice and telling a compelling story. A teaser: one twin becomes pregnant at the age of 16 and gives the child up for adoption.

Here's a few passages that resonated with me:

(referring to a neighbor woman who mourned her son killed in a tornado) "She buried his bike under the apple tree. I always wondered if she thought Larry's spirit was speaking to her through Rose's poem. I'm not being sarcastic. I really believe it."

What I liked about that is sometimes I say strange things and people think I'm being sarcastic or funny, but I really believe most of what I say.

(Referring to a "true" story of how a man hits a deer with his car. The deer goes through the window and lands in a sitting position on his mistress, killing the woman): " 'What's a mistress?" (six year old) Ruby asked.
'Aunt Lovey had turned full circle to look at Ruby and me in the backseat. "A mistress is a woman who has sexual relations with a married man." Her policy was, if you're old enough to ask the question you're old enough to be told the truth.' "

(Ruby's comment after an interchange with her sister, Rose) "That made me feel good and quite annoyed at the same time, because I don't need her approval. But I do. You know?"

(Ruby, again ) "Rose really brooded about that. She likes a good brood. She does. But I choose to be happy." ( :) I am like Rose, I like a good brood)

And one last, funny thing: (Rose, this time) ". . .I had a flash of Ruby at about five years old, at the Jaycee Fair in Chatham. We'd gone on a child's ride. . .A crowd had gathered to watch us. i remember friendly faces for the most part, somewhat pitying, friendly faces, at lest until we got off the ride and Ruby shouted, "That made my vagina tingle!"

This author wrote another book, which I am going to have to order. Bill and I are going to West Yellowstone in September and I will ride all comfy in the back seat, tranquilized and with a pile of books.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Side blogs

I want to say two things: I very much enjoy the side blogs. I'm just realizing that other blogs besides Times and Seasons do that. I appreciate it very much because it's so hard to get in all the good stuff. I think it's a good thing you are all doing. I must learn how to do it. After I finish the ironing. Which will happen after I start the ironing.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

what have you forgotten?

There is a test one can take that supposedly diagnoses the possibility of Alzheimer's. I'm a classic hypochondriac and as soon as I read about the test, I went in to my doctor to take it. I said, "Doc, I think I need physical therapy on my foot (I'd cut my achilles tendon) and my hip is bothering me, maybe I need a new one, and I think I have alzheimer's. I want that new test."

He laughed, but I took the test and it was positive, which stunned us both. Although the test has problems because a positive can mean one has other problems. We found I'd had a TIA and some other physical things. Long story, although I enjoy discussing it. LOL So we aren't sure what's going on.

I've shared this with my friends, but they don't care, they can't remember squat either.

Yesterday I dropped over to my neighbor with a plate of cookies, I'm her visiting teacher. She and her husband were on the porch. Her husband said, "hey, what about your dogs?"

I replied, "are they bugging you?"

He said, "no, you left that message on our machine last week."

I said, "hmm. . .no, I didn't call you about my dogs."

He said, "you said something about three kinds of food?"

I pondered, then I remembered. I'd played a practical joke on them last week.

I'd called and said, "Hi, could you guys take care of my dogs while we're gone for a week? It's really easy, there are only three kinds of dog foods and I'll have to explain, each dog gets a different kind and the fourth just eats whatever. Oh, and you'll need to put Toby in and out or he poops in the house and if it thunders and rains, you'll have to come home and put Shelby in, because he panics. You'll have to put him downstairs, but check him after an hour or he'll tear it up."

" Oh, and if they bark, all you have to do is go put the bark collars on them. I don't have to do it every night, maybe two or three nights a week. But they usually don't do it till 4 in the morning."

"I would really really appreciate it, you guys. Thanks."

They're so sweet they didn't even hesitate, so it wasn't as good a joke as it could have been. I was hoping to hear their excuses. I wanted to hear, "Are you crazy? We hate your dogs."

And we all laughed because I forgot my own joke. I used to have an almost photographic memory, I didn't have to write any thing down. Now it doesn't matter if I write it, I'll lose the piece of paper.

The part I probably find the most bothersome is my inability to recognize people. Many people look alike to me now. If they're together, I know them, but if they're apart, I have to ask them who they are. It's interesting, but on a scale of one to 10, as far as problems go, I would consider this a 3.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

unthinkable thoughts

Scott Bronson's post over at Popcorn Popping bothers me. His refusal to accept that his writing was way off base bothers me. I know through experience that this will probably come home to bite him, and he will recognize his own ignorance.

These are pictures of my loved ones. The bottom is my husband and son, taken 6 weeks before they drowned.

As I sat in the hospital waiting room, surrounded by family, as the doctors were trying to save my son (my husband was already pronounced dead), I thought two things I would never have voiced:

"Give me back my husband, take my son."

"I'm afraid--I think the plane will crash." (They were life flighting Davey, he died before they got there) I still feel guilty for thinking of my own welfare, for the physical fear I had. I'd flown quite a lot before that. I didn't get on an airplane again for 18 years, after James died.

His is the top picture, taken two years before his death. What a sweet, sweet boy.

The unthinkable thoughts I had when the two Marines came to tell me that James had committed suicide were, "I wish he'd died in an accident, that I could think this was an act of God."

"I wish it were someone else's child. Take my sister's son."

"I won't have to worry about money. The military will pay for everything."

"That chicken salad looks so good."

I could go on. When those two boys were abducted and tortured and murdered by insurgents in Iraq early this month, I thought, "thank God he died before he went to Iraq."

But I never, not once, worried that anybody would pity me. My husband and I never had that discussion. I totally did not give a crap about that.

The fact that Scott so totally missed what he was trying to portray tells me that he was aiming for shock, not excellence in his writing.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Judge orders teen to cancer treatment

I read this headline this morning when I checked in on the Drudge Report. I find this immensely troubling.

Bill and I have a solid agreement that we will make individual decisions should we ever become ill with cancer. We have agreed not to force chemotherapy or radiation on the other. I have decided I will never have chemotherapy and he says, for now, that he will honor my wishes.

I think this 16 year old boy is mature enough to decide for himself what treatment he must endure. I guess, ideally, his parents have explained his options to him and he would rather go with alternative treatment. I think it should be his decision.

I've seen success with both types of treatments; but more often, I've seen people waste valuable time fighting cancer with chemotherapy and spending their dying days unable to function in any way. They are not able to enjoy the last days with their family because of the treatment, not the disease. They do not die with dignity.

One man I know was diagnosed with colon cancer and opted not to have chemo or radiation in order to buy time. He died so peacefully. He lost weight, but never got as sick as another friend, who did try radiation to prolong his time. Both these men were going to die from cancer, but the one who had treatment died a more horrible death.

What scares me with the state's forcing this boy into treatment is my fear that I will be forced to have treatment I don't want in order to prolong my life. I don't think the state has any right to interfere here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Blogging and self-esteem, and Trevor's first words

Apparently we're insignifcant microbes in the TTLB Ecosystem. I choose to think that something is wrong with the way the ecosystem rankings are calculated. I know you guys all love us (ok, I realize that you come here for annegb and not me).

My youngest child, Trevor, said his first words this week. They are "Thank you" (or "tick too"). He says it whenever someone gives him something he likes, such as a toy or a cracker. It's quite cute. I'm sure that "no" isn't far behind, but for now, he's the most polite baby we know.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Good advice, you guys. No lie.

Bill and I are going to Costco this week sometime and we are stocking up on cigarettes and coffee. That really bothers him, but I said, "honey we can't afford silver or gold and these things will be really good barter, if times get tough."

I think the end is beginning. The war in the middle east scares the crap out of me and makes my heart ache for those poor people. I see pictures of little boys and girls and it just rips me.

We are fortunate in America, but we should be prepared. Get some water on hand and store some coffee and cigarettes. During the holocaust these things were as good as gold to trade. Also light bulbs were a shortage.

Oh, also, put in some extra toothbrushes and soap and aluminum foil and paper plates in case you have to take in refugees.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Favorite movies

Quick, name five really great movies you've seen.

Let me see: Searching for Bobby Fisher
Shawshank Redemption
Children of a Lesser God
The Abyss

I haven't seen a really good movie in so long I can't remember when it was. Bill and I rented Shopgirl (sad ending), Syriana (sad, confusing ending), and we went to see The Breakup, which was an unexpected bummer.

I read that Hollywood is having a rough time. They make a big deal out of Pirates of the Caribbean being #1. I think it's just because there's nothing better to see. I am looking forward to M. Night Shymalan's new movie. Although he can never quite top The Sixth Sense.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


My family and I are moving from Durham, NC, where we have spent the last ten years of our lives, to Harrisonburg, VA, where I have accepted a job. I have two weeks to get things packed. Yuck.

Any advice?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Spotlight: Jessie

I got Jessie when I married her dad. She was three years old and sort of traumatized. Her mother had left the family a year before and she'd had a mean babysitter.

She was the cutest little thing. The first time I tended her, I told her no for something, candy or something small, and she spouted: "dumb-dumb butthole asshole" and ran into her room. I laughed that a little kid knew those words and cuddled her.

She began to call me Mommy on her own, naturally. She still calls me Mommy. She calls me "Mother" in a deeply condescending tone when we are arguing.

I wouldn't have believed that tiny girl would turn into an Amazon. She's 6' tall now. The picture on the right is her today, with her boyfriend, Jack, who we love.

The picture right is a famous one, sort of. Jessie won a contest when she was eight years old. Kids were encouraged to enter pictures for the Primary Children's Medical Center alphabet block contest. Jessie's mermaid won for the "M" block. 25,000 kids entered this contest. Jessie's picture was in the Children's Friend that year, it's on t-shirts that the hospital gift shop sells, it's in coloring books they give to children waiting for care, it's on blocks all over the hospital. The original picture is framed and on display in the cafateria or the snack shop, I can't remember.

She said when she was the wise old age of ten: "I could make a much better mermaid now."

Jessie and I have been through so much together. I flew to Denver to rescue her from her four year marriage to a beast. I rented a little red mustang, went to her place, called the cops, and stuffed her possessions into the trunk and back seat of that little car and took my girl home. It was a total God thing.

She is the most beautiful, charming, and talented person I know in real life. Her life has not been easy. But she has chosen to be a good person, a giving person, and she lights up a room like nobody I know. She is a gift in my life.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Good advice

I heard a good saying "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." I am my own worst enemy and it takes a long time for me to learn my lesson. I've been tilting at windmills all my life and it mostly just gets people mad at me.

I thought I would share that little saying. Today I'm going to ask myself, "what do I normally do?" and do the opposite. Which pretty much entails keeping my mouth shut.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday question: adolescent stupidities

What's the stupidest (riskiest) thing you did as an adolescent?

I ran away from home and hitchhiked to Las Vegas when I was 14, accepting a ride from three boys who were total strangers. I got picked up by the police when I got there and taken to a juvenile detention center and my parents picked me up. It's a long story.

But I could have been killed. I was headed to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco to do drugs and be a hippie. I didn't have a clue about sex, it wasn't about the free love for me. I was so stupid. And lucky.

This is off the topic of my own post, but it's on meditating. I'm reading a book called Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. She relates to an Indian monk her problems meditating, keeping her mind still and he replies: "It's a pity you're the only person in the history of the world who ever had this problem." Who thought there was a sarcastic Indian monk?

Which I loved because yesterday I tried to meditate to my mantra for fifteen minutes and my mind kept wandering and I thought I was a failure at meditating.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Check this out

This guy named Tyler wrote a wonderful post about the atonement I would like to share with the world.

check it out:


I printed off a post on Sunstone about Mormon Mantras
by a guy named Philip McLemore and studied it. I'm going to study it more, but I recommend it as a guide for meditation. Maybe beginning meditation.

I have wavered in my mantras in my two efforts in the last week at meditation. One was "Jesus, thou son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner" and the other "Create in me a clean heart, o Lord."

I haven't done it enough to know if I will have the same results as Mr. McLemore, but I'll report back. I think there might be something to it.

Here's the link:

Monday, July 03, 2006

I,Too, Sing America

I have only discovered poetry in the last few years and I'm no expert. Walt Whitman was my first discovery. I picked up Leaves of Grass in a book store and stood there, mesmerized, reading through the whole book.

I love his joy, his honesty. One of my favorite lines is, "death is different than we suppose, and luckier." I know I didn't quote that exactly, but I knew what he was talking about.

But I found this poem by Langston Hughes a few years ago in a book I found in a used bookstore. I suppose it's a response to Whitman's words, "I hear America singing."

I, Too

I, too, sing America

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed.

I, too, sing America.
-Langston Hughes

I am so glad I am an American. Not so much for the big reasons, freedom and all that. But because of progress, hot water, medicine, and good food. I'm willing to share, not as apt to fight off the immigration from the south. I think there's enough and to spare. I love this country.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Losing friends

Have you ever lost a really close friend, through your own choice or theirs?

Once, in eighth grade, my best friend chose to start a fight with the most disliked girl in school (I was the second most disliked, but I did have this one loyal friend). You know, the homely socially backward type (my family was the white trash, drunk of the town type). I objected and didn't speak to my friend for two weeks. Instead of attending a big party she'd planned, I spent the night with this social reject girl. I took a stand.

I had to do something like that this week--the result was jail time for my friend's child. I've done harder things, but not much. I'm sad and afraid because there is a lot of hatred and animosity on the part of her family. I'm disappointed in my friend. And church is going to be pretty hard tomorrow.

We've been friends for 27 years. We've laughed and debated ideas, she's my smartest friend. We've buried children and struggled through terrible things in life. This is yet another terrible time.

She showed me this poem by Carol Lyn Pearson, I don't know the title:

I dim, I dim
I have no doubt
If someone blew,
I would go out.

I did not.
I must be stronger
Than I thought.

I treasure my friends. This is a time of grieving.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cleaning the oven

Sarah, aka loving known as Princess Buttgold, moved last week. The whole family assembled to help her move her stuff and clean.

I told her I'd clean her oven. In a moment of weakness when she was sick and I felt sorry for her.

I came prepared with Easy-off and rubber gloves, resigned, keeping my word.

We had to drive to Wal-Mart to get new pans to go under the burners and curtains for her new house and as we were driving she made the idle comment, "You know, Mom, I'm so glad you're cleaning the oven because that just doesn't seem like a fun job to me at all."

I replied, "Yeah, I could hardly sleep for the excitement. All night I thought, 'oh, goody, I get to clean the oven in the morning. It was like Christmas all over again.'" She laughed a little, but I think the sarcasm was mostly lost on her since she has yet to clean an oven.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Do you have any phobias or fears? I'm scared to death of bees. I will scream and run around and get hysterical. I can't help it.

Bill and his friend, Paul, went fishing the other day at Minersville and fished late into the night. They spotted something in the water towards the end of the evening and went over to take a look. It was a snake! They watched it climb up their motor and wrap itself around the top of it, and went on fishing.

Bill said he knew it was just a blowsnake and he's not scared of them, but Paul sure was nervous the rest of the night. He kept looking back to see if the snake was still on the motor and not headed toward him in the boat.

Then as they headed back to shore, they saw another snake! Another blowsnake. Bill got his net out and fished it out of the water, leaving it in the net till they got to shore. Then he just reached in, grabbed it by it's neck (do snakes have necks), and let it go to safety.

Then they wondered how to get the other snake off the motor. Paul had just spent a week at his ranch doing repairs and had killed four rattlesnakes. He was leery. So he went around the back and nudged the snake with a stick and when it stuck its head up, Bill grabbed it, unwrapped it and they let it go to safety, too.

It gives me chills just thinking about it. Also, I think Bill is very brave. Also maybe stupid, what if it were a cottonmouth. But he says they're not in the west.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

James' Patriarchial Blessing

My nephew named his son after my son, James. James the second was born shortly before James I's death.

He is the sweetest kid. He's almost 16, taking driver's ed, doing well in school, nice to his grandma and his mom, just a joy. A great big kid, too, tall and handsome.

So last Sunday his mom and his grandma (my nephew isn't active or near) took James to get his patriarchial blessing. The patriarch set James up in the comfortable hard back chair with the soft insides and placed his hands on the boy's head and began.

My sister sat reverently at this sacred event for her oldest grandchild, head bowed, arms folded, eyes closed. And began to hear a strange sort of wheezing sound as the blessing progressed. She risked a peek around only to see her grandson sound asleep during his blessing, breathing deeply, rythmically. She widened her eyes in ?horror?amusement?--for a few seconds, then watched him jerk awake. She bowed her head again.

After a few more seconds, she heard another sound. Snoring. She peeked again, sure enough, he'd fallen back asleep. This time she just bowed her head back. And heard her daughter-in-law making a strange sound, sort of coughing. She peeked over at Rita, who appeared to be crying, her head bowed, arms folded, eyes closed, sort of folded over into her lap. She felt the spirituality of the moment. . .for a moment. . .until she realized Rita was trying to hold in her guffaws. James slept peacefully through the rest of the blessing and I guess the patriarch never noticed.

Well, they made it through that one. James had a good nap and I guess it was good for everybody. Chris said James was given a wonderful blessing and someday he'll know what it said.

Monday, June 19, 2006

LaRue sobers up

Yesterday in church a sweet and kind man spoke of his father and he mentioned in passing his father taking a drink once in awhile.

As we gathered for Relief Society, a convert lady and I started joking about our drinking days. I was sitting next to a quiet woman in our ward, she seldom says anything, she's very active, conservative and orthodox. She smiled at me and said, "what are you talking about?"

"Our drinking days," I replied. "Did you ever drink, LaRue?" Totally knowing she'd never touched a drop in her life.

"Well, I tasted beer once! It was awful, I don't know how anybody could drink that stuff. Then when I turned 21, my parents took me to Wendover. The bartender told me this drink was mostly 7up and it was really good, so I had several! But I didn't get drunk, I could think and I knew what I was doing. I was sure sick the next day, though."

I just looked at her and laughed and said, "LaRue, you were drunk!" She denied it, but laughed a lot and we all had a good laugh.

Then in the beginning where they ask for the good news, I looked at her and thought, "should I tell them she sobered up?" She looked back and giggled. I was so tempted, but I kept my mouth shut. For now.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all you guys out there, even those who aren't dads yet. The world needs good men and you are they. or them. whatever.

My husband is one of the most deeply flawed and maddening men on the planet, but he's a good man and he is the strength of our family. He kills the spiders and shoos the bees out of the house, pumps the bike tires, goes over to help Sarah with her plumbing, and gives blessings to our children who are inactive, smoke and drink, and do not believe in religion.

But they get a hangnail and over goes old Dad with his bottle of oil. Not really, they wait till it goes gangrenous.

I, too, rely on him immensely. His steadiness and commitment. He will be ready to kill me for smarting off, but he will still come and change my tire when I get a flat at the grocery store.

From my office, as I sit at the desk typing here, I can see to his chair at the kitchen table. I'll call him in from yard work to eat lunch, then go back to my computer. He'll come in, wash up, sit at the table, and bow his head to silently bless his food. I stop and bow with him. I've never seen him eat without blessing his food. I don't know, maybe he does it in his head at Golden Corral.

He took two days off work last week to spend time with Maxwell, our little grandson. He took him fishing at Otter Creek. Bill would make sure he had one hooked and hand Max the pole and that little boy would get so excited, catching his fish. On the way home, Maxwell asked, "Grandpa, when you get old, will you give me this boat?"

Last month he took two days off so he could chaperone our grandson, Alex's school trip to Zion.

He's a good dad, a good husband, and a good grandpa. I never love him more than when I see him tenderly holding the baby, looking at her with wonder.

And like I said, he's tremendously flawed and maddening and all that. So guys, take hope, God was once a man.