Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Things they didn’t tell me

A--- thinks the wind is a whole lot of fun.
There are things no one told me about my town before we moved here. Most of them require some small adjustment before moving on, others are seriously annoying.
Our community is rimmed by military bases so there are many places I am just not allowed to go. One such base borders the road my husband uses to drive to work each day, and the border is patrolled. He said one day as he was driving to work he looked across the fence to see a hummer sprouting several machine-gun toting servicemen keeping pace with him.
I had only been here a month when I took my oldest son, who was then a first grader, to his first day of school. Among the parents walking with there children was a mother dressed in full military gear, holding her daughter’s hand.
I find the military presence in my community interesting and somewhat comforting.
I am less pleased with the wind.
My town is tucked against a mountain, facing a wide expanse of desert. The desert appears to be the world’s longest wind tunnel.
Every storm warning brings at least 24 hours of hurricane-force winds screaming around the house. Last night was one of those nights, and I was afraid to look out the window for fear of seeing a witch riding a bicycle in circles around our house. DH popped out of bed every hour or so to peer out the window and make sure we hadn’t been moved to Kansas in our sleep.
My oldest son has a white knuckle terror of wind. We live a block from his school, but he insisted I drive him there this morning so he didn’t have to walk in the squall. I did manage to get photographs of him, but I think the look on his face says it all.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Can different species co-exist?

Last week I was busily washing dishes in my dreams. Pile and piles of plates, dirty glasses and crusty pans were lined up awaiting a washing. Suddenly the light came on and I was abruptly awakened to my husband telling me about the Winter Olympics and a car accident in southern Utah.
Mind you, the dream about washing dishes was not the most interesting dream I have ever had; it’s not even in the top ten. But while DH was talking I was still trying to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to get my dream kitchen clean.
I said, as he talked about downhill bobsled and a woman pregnant with twins.
It was a classic moment of two different species trying to communicate with each other.
Species #1 night owl, that would be me, is completely unable to focus until at least 8 a.m.
Species #2 morning lark, as exhibited in DH, is unable to function after 8 p.m.
I usually feel chatty at about 11 p.m. This is not popular with my husband, as he is usually snoring by the time I climb in bed and start telling him about tomorrow’s weather report.
Since DH goes at 7:30 a.m. and returns at 5 p.m. that leaves a window three hours when we can actually talk to each other with both sides comprehending the conversation.
We have two children; the oldest is an owl, the youngest a lark.
After fighting the oldest every step of the way to go to bed every evening, the youngest was a refreshing change of pace. He quite cheerfully tucks himself in bed at or before bedtime, only requesting that one of his parents “check on me” before drifting off peacefully.
Alas, he’s right there with daddy at 6 a.m. ready to start the day. Meanwhile the oldest child and I are burrowing under the blankets, hoping if we ignore the day it will go away and let us sleep.
I suppose morning larks and night owls can peacefully co-exist. But it does take a lot of tolerance on both sides. I’ll never truly understand why DH and youngest son think getting up with the sun is preferable to staying all cozy in bed drifting along with your dreams.
But they will never understand the frustration of laying in bed in the dark, wide awake and restless, willing sleep to come.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Planning a pea encounter Updated!

I'm the third one from the right.

Today is a banner day for me. I’m going to meet a cyber friend in real life. It’s the first time I’ve ever done this, and I’m a wee bit nervous. No, I’m a lot nervous.
As I live in Utah there are so many scrappers you can’t swing a sheet of Bazzill without hitting one. Several of them are on my “home” message board, twopeasinabucket.com. In fact through one of my Two Peas scrapping friends I found out about Scrappin’ Trends and the design team opportunity. She is on the Scrappin’ Trends design team, too.
But she is not the friend I am meeting today.
I am meeting HaughtRox and her sister Beczilla. They live very close to Cabelas and I was able to convince my DH and the brothers-in-law to drop me of while they stopped by the sporting goods store.
Rox and I share a “paperkin” friendship. We both made paper dolls of ourselves and they have been traveling the United States, via the USPS. Mine has been on the Pacific and Atlantic coast this year. I wish I was as well traveled.
Although our paper doll selves have met and mingled, I have yet to meet Rox.
She lured me out of my basement with the promise of paper and embellishments!
Stay tune, I’m taking my camera and I’m not afraid to use it.

Update ... we have contact!

Just to clarify. The reason I was nervous to meet Rox and Becky is not because I feared I wouldn’t like them. On the contrary, I was afraid they wouldn’t like me and we would have nothing to say to each other.
I can’t answer for the first fear. But as far as the second fear goes, we had plenty to say to each other.
Rox and her sister, Becky, is adorable. Her scrap room is enviable ~ not just for all the goodies, but for the fantastic layouts laying around in it. And, she is generous beyond belief. This morning I had exactly two flowers in my stash, now I have piles and piles of Primas.
But the most amazing thing was being among “my” people. I think the moment I heard Rox use the word “Mojo” in a sentence without having to explain it to me, was the moment I knew I had found the mothership.
Among the Ya-Ya’s I am a much loved eccentric. They are all really into scrap books. But frankly, most of them can’t believe the size of my stash, the amount of time I spend scrapping, and my obsession with making money in this venture.
However, when I compare myself to Rox I’m just starting to take baby steps.
Now that I have made maid my first encounter of the scrap Pea kind, I am encouraged to continue with the venture of exploring new scraprooms, and boldly going to LSS no Ya~Ya has ever seen before.
Thanks Rox and Becky for luring me out of my basement with the promise of paper and Primas. I love all the goodies, but most of all I loved meeting you!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Which Star Trek Character are you?

Don't you love those silly on-line polls? I just took one custom made for nerds like myself. Which Star Trek character are you.

I can't say I'm really surprised by the final result, but I am highly entertained by being 30 percent "Red Shirt." The security guard most likely to be killed.

Here's the link if you want to play too:

Your results:
You are Deanna Troi
Deanna Troi
Geordi LaForge
Beverly Crusher
Will Riker
Jean-Luc Picard
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
James T. Kirk (Captain)
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Mr. Scott
Mr. Sulu
You are a caring and loving individual.
You understand people's emotions and
you are able to comfort and counsel them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

No West for the Reary

Legend has it that during the days when an American pioneer traveled in stage coaches it became cost effective to put as many people in the coaches as possible. So limits were set on the amount of luggage one could carry, and the amount of space they could take in the coach.
In short, there was no west for the reary.

Things have changed. Now we live in a world of big lounge chairs for folks who like to watch television after a long day of work. We have one of those infamous recliners in our basement, it is well loved, and it shows.
In theory the chair is Daddy’s, but if the cat want’s it, she gets dibs.
But the chair, which we were given second hand more than fiver years ago, has finally collapsed under the weight of all that loving. So yesterday we went hunting for a new recliner.
As we were talking to the furniture store owner, trying to figure out the new fangled “rip chord” method of reclining, she mentioned she was in the process of ordering “Big Man” recliners.
That caught our attention. My husband is 6 foot 4 inches, and husky. He qualifies as a big man. So do his brothers, who may not be as tall, but they are certainly much wider. They frequently come to visit us, plopping their Buddha-like bulk in our basement.
Since she didn’t have any big man chairs in stock, we stopped in another store to check them out, sure enough, they are big.
Big enough for me.
Big enough for DH.
Big enough for both of our children to sit in it and have room for a bowl of popcorn between them. The chairs are even big enough for the brothers-in-law.
Alas, they are not beautiful.
So once again I face the battle. Do I want my family basement television room to be comfortable or beautiful? http://www.stantoninternational.com/442_in_sweet_destiny_chianti.htm Of course comfort will win the day.
While we were there I spotted an adorable little sofa and ottoman. The sofa was shaped like half of a parenthesizes and curled around the ottoman in what can only be called a charming matter o). It was the sort of sofa one would expect to find in a tea room or a parlor.
It is not the sort of sofa one would expect to find in a house with two pre-teen boys and a large man. *sigh* I suppose one day I’ll have my Relief Society parlor. But it’s not going to happen for a while.
In other news ~ today is a rather vivid example of the places I go with my newspaper job. This morning I finished up a story about the chemicals produced in the brain when we fall in love, develop bonds of companionship, and stay married long enough to develop mature love.
This afternoon I will be attending the funeral of a 21 year old woman who was raped and murdered by a 17-year-old boy in the group home where she worked.
Tonight I am going to serve up crock pot chicken to a group of church ladies.
It’s quite a cross section of what life has to offer, isn’t it?

Monday, February 20, 2006

No one can take just one

I have a confession to make. My digital camera has exposed a shameful greedy side of myself I hoped would never come to light. I can’t stop taking photographs. The beauty of a digital camera is you can take 64 photos of your left foot, decide which one you like the best and delete the rest. The ugly thing about digital cameras is you find yourself in love with each and every 64 shot of your left foot.
Case in point, the other day DH asked me to take two photographs, one of each of his snow shovels so he could put them on his blog.
So I went outside, gathered up said shovels and went to town. I did close ups, distance shots, the shovels together, and then separate. I focused on the handles, and the blades. I played around with light.
I was fascinated with the texture of snow on the blade of one shovel, the contrast of the wooden handle against our brick house. I had myself a good time.
So which photos did DH use?
He went for the basic shots. They say an artist is never appreciated in his {or her} own time.
In other photographs; my 11 year old Scout left early this morning to put flags up in the snow. It is a nifty little fundraiser. For a $30 fee, each participating household gets a flag put on their front lawn for holidays such as President’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July etc.
I was charmed by this tradition the first day I saw it. Now my son is involved I am even more impressed because the boy has always loved flags and he is so happy to be able to participate in this service.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tell about the places you’ve worked

I've challenged myself to do a weekly entry on topics assigned by my church {See the Jan 22 blog entry}

This week the topic was vacations spent with family members. I drew a complete blank. So I decided to revisit the first challenge set forth. "Tell about the places you've worked."
So the question is ~ do I write about the physical environment?
The process of doing the job itself?
The wide variety of jobs themselves?
There are so many directions I can go with this challenge, I’m not exactly sure what to do. If anyone has been reading my musings for any length of time, you’ve figured out I can write 20 inches about what I found on the bottom of my shoe this morning. This topic is wide open, but I’ll try to boil it down.
My one and only non-printing related job was working as a clerk for a convenience store. I worked something like two summers between college at the Maverick Country Store, one of a chain of stores founded by people who attended my church.
I learned important skills from this job like how to make coffer, run a cash register and sass customers. The sassing has been a particularly useful skill as I have progressed in other areas of my life.
It’s hard to pinpoint my first job in the print industry. I took my first journalism class as a sophomore in high school and worked on the newspaper/ yearbook the next two years. During my senior year in high school I did an internship with the local weekly newspaper / printing press. Like most small newspapers of the day, the front of the shop was also a store where office supplies were sold.
This job introduced me to the glorious, mysterious part mechanical, part mental world of printing presses.
My first two years of college were spent in a two year school in Idaho. By the second year I had worked myself into the job of “Woman’s Editor.” I think I earned a small scholarship for the job, but I don’t remember.
When I moved on to Utah State University, I started working the teletype machine. I didn’t do much writing, but I read all the news, selected top national and world news stories, typed them, edited them and laid them out for the paper. For this I received the grand sum of $80 a month.
The first time I supported myself with my newspaper earnings was during a summer internship for the “Preston Citizen.” This newspaper is in a town on the Idaho/Utah border. I lived in Logan and commuted to work all summer.
The newspaper was in one of the oldest buildings in town.
I have since learned most newspapers are in one of the oldest buildings in town. It seems when pioneers settled into a community they built a church, then a printing press. The churches were eventually adopted by local historical societies or church headquarters and made into a museum or tabernacle. The newspaper buildings just kept adding onto the building, shoving aside old equipment as new equipment was added.
These buildings smell like dust, ink and newspaper. The newsroom is always in the least convenient part of building, and the advertising department is in the most attractive and easily accessible part of the building.
I have also come to know that advertising needs the pretty space to entertain the public / clients. Newsrooms, on the other hand, are kept isolated for fear our cynicism might spread and infect the rest of the population.
I believe I was officially injected with the printer’s ink that now flows in my blood while I was working at the “Preston Citizen.”
Publishers of this newspaper also owned and published papers in Grace, Idaho, Montpelier, Idaho and perhaps other towns, I don’t recall. But all of the newspapers were printed in Preston.
Since the employee parking lot was in the back, I walked through the press room on a regular basis to get to my little green Pontiac Venture with the white interior. One day as I passed through the press room I brushed up against a barrel of ink with my white vest. Unaware of the ink, I climbed into my car and smeared it generously around the white interior. For the record, if you think your newspaper is messy, try getting fresh printer’s ink out of a white lambs wool seat cover. It can’t be done.
My summer internship lead to a job as editor/writer of the “Montpelier News Examiner.” The “News Examiner” no longer had a printing press, but there was still plenty of old printing equipment knocking around the building. I’ll confess, I coveted the trays of movable type, the gynormous paper cutter and the reams of paper sitting around neglected in the back of the building.
The newspaper building was next to the town bar, and every now and then I was obliged to chase off an inebriated bar patron who had wandered in the wrong back door by mistake. But this didn’t happen often.
Although I had learned to use a computer on the college newspaper, the “News Examiner” didn’t cotton to the newfangled machines. I had a typewriter in my office where I filed my stories. I took my own photographs and developed and printed the photos in the office darkroom. Then I assembled the weekly newspaper after the typesetter entered it into the machine.
Truth to tell, I was in over my head. But I was young and stupid, so I just did the best I could and learned a lot along the way.
Eventually I moved on to a bigger newspaper. On Jan 2, 1985 I started a job as a reporter for “The Daily Spectrum.” I had a brand new car and a new car payment. I was in a strange city and I was starting a new year. It was heady business.
The job was great because finally I had co-workers and I was back on a computer. We stored our news stories on floppy disks, just like the computers I had used years ago when I worked on the college newspaper.
The newsroom was in the basement of the building. In the summer we shared our space with black widow spiders. In the winter we wore mittens as we typed because we were so cold.
One of the highlights of my year in Cedar City was covering the Utah Shakespearean Festival. I interviewed an up and coming actor, Patrick Page. He was cute as a button and very talented. Many years later I watched the television program “A Wedding Story” where Paige Davis married Patrick Page. Yep, the same Patrick page I interviewed for the USF. Paige Davis was the host for the popular television show “Trading Spaces” for a few years.
I was eventually moved from Cedar City to work with the main newspaper office in St. George, Utah.
This was a shock to my system, as the newspaper had just built a brand new building. What’s more, the newsroom wasn’t hidden in some dark corner; we were out there on the floor where any passing visitor could see us. That didn’t stop us from behaving like, well, a newsroom. The best times were working nights after the phones were silenced and there was no one around but our brash, irreverent selves.
I worked as editor of the weekly Church magazine for a while before I moved to work as editor of the features section. After several years I left the newspaper to focus on being a full time wife and mother.
When Logan was a baby I worked for a few hours a week at a printers supply company. (I did not like that job) before I started working as a clerk for Deseret Book selling tomes published by the company owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I loved this job. They let me take home books and read them so I would be knowledgeable about the subject. As I love to read, this was like getting manna from heaven.
I had to quit Deseret Book when I was pregnant with Adam. For several years I happily settled into being a mommy until Adam went to kindergarten. Then in February of 2006 I started working for a newspaper again.
This time I am working from home, filing my stories via the internet, downloading photos to the computer and sending it all off to be edited and printed with a few keystrokes.
I am rarely in the newsroom. But, still, the newspaper / printing press is one of the oldest buildings in town. The newsroom is on the second floor, up a set of rickety stairs. Old printing equipment has been pushed aside to make room for new. The place smells of newsprint, ink and dust.
I don’t usually “hear” the when the printing press starts up. But I still feel it. The printers ink in my blood vibrates with the rhythmic, mechanical, magical noise of thoughts becoming words, becoming newspapers.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Musing on muses …

... which are also known in scrapbook circles as mojo or creative energy.
I often read laments, or write my own sob stories about how my mojo has taken off, leaving me with no creativity.
We discuss how we can lure our muses back, we wonder why they wander. What, we wonder, are we without mojo?
I had an epiphany of sorts, the other day while I was driving. Most of my epiphanies come while I am driving, in the shower, just dozing off to sleep or otherwise unable to capture my thoughts on paper.
But this particular epiphany was about the mojo. My mojo does not dwell in a cluttered environment.
Maybe the clutter is external. If my house, my family or other duties are screaming for attention I can muffle them for a little while, but eventually the chaos seeps into my mind and sends mojo on a vacation.
However, I could work through the physical clutter. What I can’t overlook is mental clutter.
Mojo will not dwell where there is a lack of focus.
When I watch the Winter Olympics I am fascinated by what people are capable of doing with their bodies. Tonight I saw a few moments of the skeleton and listened to a commentator talk about perfect form and getting extra speed in the straight away. I had no idea how or what the skeleton athlete was doing to get the extra speed. I just new it was beautiful and exciting.
Skaters whirl and jump and glide, I don’t know how they do it. Snowboarders perform acrobatics beyond anything humanly possible, or so it would seem. It is all so dangerous, beautiful and flawless. I can’t image how any of them ever mustered up the courage or the self confidence to take that first leap.
Yet I do know. It is all mental.
Sure, it looks physical, it takes a physical form. But being able to slide down a mountain over a ski jump then have the presence of mind to twist bodies and skis in spectacular forms ~ that’s just not normal. An athlete has to be in control of his or her mind as well as body. After a while the muscle memory takes over, but the fact remains when you get in a high pressure situation like the Olympics, you have to have the mental strength to find the calm place inside yourself.
You have to know how to focus.
When I have the mojo, the concentration, the focus, when I go into my right brain and rummage around that illusive place where dreams and creativity and focus live, the rest of the world simply disappears.
I have heard other artists explain this as channeling, of gaining the power from someplace outside of themselves. I can’t fully explain it, but I enjoy it, and I want to harness this power. Mojo is symptomatic of being in harmony with your true self.
With the mojo I can view the world with peace, with creativity, with joy.
I read one writer who called this creative energy the Holy Ghost. While I don’t believe she is entirely true, there is truth to the statement.
When I am in the midst of creative energy I have the sense that God is in His heaven and all is right with the world.

Blog housekeeping, don't forget the toilet!

Just a little blog housekeeping, some ideas I’ve been tossing around, and assorted odds and ends.

For those of you trying to figure out my scavenger hunt challenge, here’s a link to the page where I posted it. http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/scrappintrends/vpost?id=906753. I kind of did yesterday’s blog on the fly, so I’m sorry if I was confusing.
I have another toot, of sorts. I have been asked to edit the monthly newsletter for the Scrappin Trends Design Team. I’m still not entirely sure what it will involve, but since I can put out a newsletter in my sleep, it should be fun and a good little resume builder.

Here is another page I did for a challenge http://www.scrappintrends.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=356&limit=recent This challenge was to use “themed paper” (as in Christmas, birthday, happy Halloween) in something other than it’s intended purpose. I chose to use my “girly” paper for my cat, since she is the only female in the house besides me. I need more girls. Attention family members, please send me photographs or your girl children. Or send the girl children themselves so I can take pictures of them.

On a completely different subject, someone posted this link at my Two Peas in a Bucket message board. http://www.bathroom-redesign.com/Worlds-top-ten-bathrooms-1.htm. I must say, I love the idea of great bathrooms. I am something of a bathroom connoisseur although you couldn’t tell from any bathrooms in my house.
One of my favorite women’s rooms was on the third floor of the Utah State University (ack! I can’t remember the name of the main building) where the “Utah Statesman” was published. It was an old-school ladies room with a lounge area, containing a couch, separated from the toilet area. I was one of a handful of women working for the paper at the time, and we could always escape to our own private lounge to talk, take naps, etc.
Years later, whenever I took the long drive home from St. George to Afton, Wyo. I always stopped at Utah State University to use the restroom. It was the nicest facility along the way.
On the other hand I hate with a white hot passion restrooms found at rest stops and gas stations. They are nasty, dirty and just too darn public for my taste. Again, when I traveled alone I always stopped at a store to do my “resting.” Usually the upscale clothing stores were the best place to stop.
I have other thoughts rattling around in my head about keeping my mojo going, etc. But the kids are home from school today and they are currently engaging in a lively game of beating on each other so I need to get them (and me!) out of the house.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

This goes with my previous post. I couldn't down load this layout when I posted the first time, so I had to do a different post for the art.

Volunteering for a challenge

My life has suddenly become somewhat unwieldy. It isn’t anything serious, just a lot of demands on my limited talents and not enough time to take care of everything.
Now, however, it looks like I have the all clear. True, I have two more news stories to write. But the deadline isn’t looming, and I have the interviews done, I just have to discipline myself to sit down and work.
While a lot of these demands have been unavoidable, I have volunteered for some of it as well.
Science fair projects for two children, well that is a combination of unavoidable and volunteered.
Teaching in church, unavoidable, having the Ya-Ya’s and their six children in my house for six hours, volunteered.
Writing a news story about the Muscular Dystrophy lock up, unavoidable, attending the “Celebrate the Magic” Valentine’s Day dinner, entertainment volunteer.
Scrappin Trends DT brainstorming about the March newsletter, unavoidable. Taking up a scavenger hunt challenge for a scrapbook layout, volunteered.
But I had to do the scavenger hunt. Not only was it a really funny challenge, there is a possibility of free paper attached.
The challenge was to create a layout using as many of the following photographs as possible
1. You cannot create a LO designed specifically for this post--meaning you can't create one titled "scavenger hunt" and just randomly post pictures--the LO MUST make sense and have a definite theme.
2. You can use as many photos as you want, but the LO cannot be more than a 2 page spread.
3. You only get credit (points) for using each item once.
4. Use photos that you already have-Do NOT take new photos for this challenge!!!!!
5. You must tally up your own points, winner with the most will receive a gift, in the event of a tie, I will draw the winner from those with the highest point value.
6. Items must be in the photos-not stickers or embellishments on the page or a pattern in the paper....

Here is the list with point values:

1 point:
1. Candle
2. Coffee Maker
3. Hair Rollers
4. Hello Kitty
5. Telephone
6. Mask
7. Iron
8. Toilet Tissue
9. Book shelf
10. Plunger
12. Blender
13. Peanut Butter
14. Book
15. Pool Toy
16. Bird of Paradise
17. Flag
18. left shoe
19. Snow Shovel
5 points:
1. Mustard
2. Calendar
3. Switch plate cover
4. Grecian Urn
5. Grape vine
6. Box of Hair Dye
7. Cutting Board
8. Water Cooler
9. Anteater
10. Stuffed Orca
11. Snowman with a button nose
12. Batman action figure
13. Cosmopolitan Magazine
10 Points:
1. Lime Green Windbreaker/Jacket
2. Post-it Note
3. Hippo
4. Hand Lotion
5. Woman in Pink bathing suit
6. Fish
7. Witch
8. White picket fence
9. Rusted out vehicle
10. Blue teapot
20 points:
1. "Hang in There" poster
2. Robot from Lost in Space
3. An animal made from wicker or grapevine

So here is the page I produced:

I racked up 28 points. Alas, the next person had a tally of 32 points, so I am not the winner.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hearts and flowers

What are your favorite flowers?
This being Valentine’s Day and all, and with my spring challenge yesterday, I’ve been thinking about flowers. I have a long list of favorites, and each one seems to have an emotional connection for me.
I love bulb flowers because they remind me of spring, my Dutch grandmother, and my childhood on the ranch in Idaho.
Proof of spring comes every year when the first crocus pokes their heads out of the ground. I delight in this cheerful splash of color, often cheerful bright reds and yellows against a snowy backdrop. Daffodils come next, with riotous cups and saucers, followed by the more dignified, elegant shapes of tulips. Meanwhile shy grape hyacinths cover the ground in a carpet of purple.
I might love grape hyacinths best, because they grew wild in the grass. I believe they had originally been planted to border the sidewalk to the ranch house. But they had long since broke the orderly boundaries and wandered willy-nilly across the lawn.
We picked them and put them in vases to decorate the table of our little playhouse. The berries made colorful additions to our mud pies. When I see grape hyacinths I am reminded of a carefree childhood running barefoot and free in the open spaces of our Idaho ranch.
Tulips, on the other hand, remind me of my proper grandmother. Somehow, in spite of living miles from civilization, living with her cattleman husband, surrounded by cows, flies and her half-wild grandchildren, she still managed to be a lady.
I had to grow to love tulips, as I had to grow to love my grandmother. As a child I didn’t quite appreciate the layers involved in both the flower and the woman.
Lilacs are another favorite flower. I am enamored of their beauty, the rich purples, lavenders and whites growing together in glorious bunch. To me they smell like summer. They are the gentile ladies of the flower world. I have tried and tried to get lilac bushes to grow around my home, but so far I have had no luck. But that won’t stop me from trying.
Columbine speak to me of alpine summers. I remember “sucking the nectar” out of the flowers when I was young. Now I just admire the delicate colors and remarkable structure of the blooms.
Who doesn’t love roses, with their rich, fruity smell? The scent of roses is faintly reminiscent of raspberries and my favorite soda pop, Dr Pepper. If you don’t believe me, think of these two things the next time you sniff a rose and see if you can pick up the scent.
But I am also partial to wild roses. The simple, five petal flowers of a gentle pink hue bring such charm to any woodland scene.
Then there are the saucy faces of pansies and jonny-jump-ups, the showy glory of mums, and the fanciful shapes of flowers we called bleeding hearts, although I don’t know their scientific name.
I love giant sunflowers, with their bold, bright beauty, and the delicate wash of color found in Indian paintbrush growing wild among sagebrush of the open western planes.
The truth is I love them all. I love the blossoms on cactus, fruit trees and weeds. Maybe one day I can be as generous with my love of all people.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Perfect Spring Day

My writing assignment for today is:
Describe the perfect spring day and activities done that day.

The question is, do I describe a perfect alpine spring day, where the air is still cold enough to numb your nose, but you go coatless anyway because it feels so darn good to see the sunshine.
Or, the perfect desert spring day, when prickly pear start to bloom and lizards (and Dixie College co-eds) can be seen sunning themselves on the red rocks.
The difference between the two, besides about four months, is really negligible compared to the universal feeling of being in a fresh world were all things are new. All life is full of possibilities, hope and growth abound.
I’ll start with the perfect spring day in St. George. Where by some miracle I am not suffering from an allergic reaction to Mulberries. The sky is an impossible blue, as it usually is in southern Utah. The air is warm, without the wilting heat of summer, it’s the middle of the week so the plethora of spring visitors from northern Utah are still slogging through snow and not clogging the Boulevard.
Flowers are blooming, the grass is green, and the air smells clean.
On this perfect spring day, by some miracle, I am able to take my family to the St. George Art’s festival in the morning without fighting crowds. Bands are playing cheerful music, wind toys hung from the eves of booths dance and swing in the breeze, spreading flashes of light and color.
I am relaxed, my husband and children are happy. The air smells of Navajo tacos and kettle corn. After viewing the art, we buy a lunch and settle down on a spot of grass to eat and people watch.
Or maybe it is a gardening day. We start by taking the children to the nursery where we are given little red wagons to use as shopping carts. We wander around the flowers and trees, studying plants. The children stop and play in a fountain where goldfish swim lazily around lily pads, and we dream about one day having a pond in our own yard.
I suspect the dream is better than the actual pond, because in the dream the fish don’t die and we don’t have to keep the pump running.
We pick out a few flowers, probably pansies, and take them home to plant them in our tiny backyard plot. Logan works very hard, cleaning up his spot, planting the flowers, tending to them. Adam loses interest almost immediately and starts whacking things with a stick.

In the alpine scenario we are experiencing a spring day in Afton with my family. It is Easter, and the houses are practically bulging with children. We go for a walk in the canyon, letting the children run ahead and explore the path.
Later in the day we fill plastic eggs with candy and hide them in the back yard, letting the children loose to hunt for the goodies. Everyone gets plenty; there is no crying, no sadness, just joy.
At the end of the day our children collapse in bed, smiles and the faintest chocolate smears on their faces. We gather together, eating and laughing and talking into the wee hours, just enjoying each other’s company.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bless the children

I have a date for Valentines Day. My DH and I are going to a prime rib dinner, humorous talk about marriage and dancing (as if!)
This was all brought about by my job.
I’ll be covering the event as a reporter. So we get in free. It’s one of the perks of being a reporter. I suppose it makes up for all those nights sitting in industrial government buildings talking about sewer systems.
Earlier this week, after my boss offered me the chance to cover this story, he called and asked me to cover another story about “Grandfamilies, a kinship parenting program.” In a nutshell, a program for grandparents, aunts and uncles raising children abandoned by their drug addicted parents.
He said the woman assigned to cover the story would “switch” with me so she could cover the sweethearts event. HaHaHa! No.
If I am going to be obliged to listen to depressing stories of babies wandering the streets in diapers because mommy is in a drug-induced crash state, I jolly well want to get the joyful coverage of happy marriages, too.
And let’s not fool ourselves; the Grandfamilies meeting about methamphetamines was plenty heartbreaking.
I don’t know what was worse, seeing the dirty children in the arms of policemen wearing haz-mat protection, or the image of a child on a couch with his mother next to him, face down, handcuffs behind her back, or the story of the baby who drank pure meth oil thinking it was apple juice. He’s alive, but still eating through a tube.
The good news is, these are the lucky children. The are the ones being rescued from a life of chaos and squalor. They have kinship families stepping in to pick up the slack.
If I ever think my house is a pigpen again, all I have to do is remember the images of cockroach infested kitchens, sinks full of beer cans, refrigerators with open cans of spaghetti O’s, a lively mold population, and who knows what else.
Yes, my bathrooms could use a good scrubbing, but they are not open cesspools. True, I should make the bed more often, but I don’t allow my babies to flop where they will, on bare mattresses stained with blood and urine, on blankets flecked with meth shards, in rooms where handguns are cocked and loaded on coffee tables.
I know some of my blog friends have a much closer view of this situation than I do. A much closer view than I ever wish to see. When I tuck my children in at night, I need to remember what a blessing it is to know they are safe, to know, with all my faults that I am a good mother.
Tuesday, when I go to the prime rib dinner, comical speaker and dancing (as if!) I will hold my husband extra close and think him for being the husband and father he is to my children.
I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Get a Life {list}

I read the challenge from StephanieBond.com to create a life list. http://www.stephaniebond.com/create_a_life_list!.htm And decided it would be a good challenge for my blog today. I have a long list of “I always wanted toos” But I have never put them in print.
So here they are, in no particular order, just as the ideas occurred to me.

My Life List

Send my sons on missions for the LDS church
Witness my sons marriages in the LDS temple
Hold my grandchildren
Watch my children graduate from high school, then college
Go on an LDS mission with my husband
Take my children to Disneyland and Sea World
Take a cruise around the Greek Isles
Redecorate my house from top to bottom
Buy / refurnish my own furniture
Get all the laundry washed, folded, ironed and put away at the same time
Have one month of my life where I earn as much as a designer as I am currently earning in a year as a writer.
Write a novel
Write a children’s book and get it published
Have my scrapbook pages published in a magazine
Have a scrapbook magazine ask me to submit instead of begging them to take me
Spend $500 at one time on scrapbook supplies (can include totes, tools and storage equipment)
Own my own SLR digital ~ with lenses
Work on a DT for a scrapbook manufacturer ~ one that I love, of course
Meet some of my cyber friends (you know who you are!)
Attend CKU (Creating Keepsakes University)
Learn Spanish
Visit the Netherlands when the tulips are in bloom
See the works of the Dutch Masters
Visit the town in Denmark where my grandfather Sorenson was born
Visit the pyramids of Central and South America
Visit Nauvoo
Eat at a very expensive restaurant in an exotic location
Spend a week in Bora Bora in one of those bungalows built on the water
Rent a lodge big enough for my entire extended family to each have their own suites for a giant Christmas party week
Spend the night in a tree house
Pan for gold
Go geocaching
Take a trip in a steam engine train and spend the night in a sleeper car
Stay a night in the bridge room at the Atlantis Hotel
Tour a chocolate factory
Take a trip with my family to the Smithsonian museum
Meet President Bush ~ 43
Go skinny dipping at night in a warm spring
Get hypnotherapy for weight loss
Attend a semi-annual conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints
Take a class on web page design
Take a watercolor class
Own a car built in the 21st century
Find a cure for the eczema on my skin
Own a cabin in Star Valley
Grow a productive vegetable garden
Plant fruit trees in my yard
Own a custom made, not off-the-rack suit
learn how to quilt
Learn how to work a spinning wheel
Learn how to weave
Adopt a baby girl from China

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Three Wishes

It is the classic gift, a chance to have three wishes granted. I have thought about this a lot at different times in my life, and in the end it always comes down to the same basic three desires:

Physical perfection
Financial security
Spiritual perfection

Physical perfection
As a teenager my wishes involved a desire to get rid of my hated glasses, the occasional acne breakout on my otherwise flawless skin, and what I thought was an excessive amount of weight. Now I wish I had the figure and the skin I had as a teenager. I did not know ~ back in the days of Farah Fawcett with her big teeth, big hair and tiny chest ~ that I was built like a brick house.
I did not have a tiny chest. The girls were large, high and firm ~ an attribute much desired by today’s teenagers, some of whom go under the knife at 15 to get the same effect. Duh!
I did get an occasional acne breakout, something that could have been simply resolved with a visit to the dermatologist, if I had only known. But a short lived pimple on the chin is a whole lot better than wrinkles around the eyes, the constant itching and rawness from eczema on my legs and arms, and yes, I still get those pesky pimples on my chin.
I still wear glasses, now they are bifocals and they don’t do the job. While I’m wishing for my teenaged self, I’d be okay with getting my old teeth and hair back, too.
The one thing I have now that I didn’t have then was comfort in my own skin. I truly thought I was an ugly duckling as a teenager, but I had no hope of ever turning into a swan. I wish I had known then the one thing keeping me from swanhood was my head. All I needed was a little self confidence.

Financial security
As a teenager this meant I could go to the mall and buy myself pretty clothes, thereby granting an instant in with the “popular crowd.”
Now financial security means I have enough money to pay the bills, buy groceries and have a little left over for paper.
Actually, were I to dream big. Financial security would mean I would have a house in St. George Utah and another one in Star Valley Wyoming. I would have a car big enough for the entire family ~ and our luggage. I might even own a people mover with a DVD player in the back seat so the children could watch shows instead of argue over space when we traveled back and fourth from Wyoming to Utah.
While I’m dreaming I’d like a thriving career as a freelance designer / writer. It would be the kind of career where I was paid a lot of money and I didn’t have to work really hard for it.
The problem with my financial security dream is, the line keeps moving out of reach. I read on a bumper sticker these words “all I want is a little bit more than I will ever have!” This pretty much sums it up for me, too.
In reality, financial security is not having all you want, but wanting all you have. I’m still working on that goal.

Spiritual perfection
This is the ultimate goal, and let’s just say I’m a long way from reaching it. Like financial security the goal line keeps moving.
But the interesting thing about my spiritual goal is, should I concentrate on it not only would the other goals be unimportant, should I ever reach the goal of spiritual perfection, the other goals will fall into place.
So why is it always the last thing on my three wishes list, when it should be the first and only wish, goal and desire of my heart?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Her Value is Greater than Diamonds

It has been a blessing in my life to be surrounded by good women. They are women who are strong, talented and funny. Some are family members, others are good friends.
I was reminded of this when I opened the mail Saturday to find a stack of photos from my
friend in Georgia. She had sent photographs of her daughter, Megan. As I looked through the snapshots, smiling at the little dark-eyed beauty I was taken back to memories of how she came to be on this earth.
Megan’s mother, Kendra is one of those women who are larger than life in every way; she is tall, outgoing and stalwart. Her heart is enormous, she loves everyone, tries desperately not to gossip about anyone, and works very hard not to be judgmental.
I first met her when our children were in the church nursery together. Her second son is just a few weeks younger than my youngest son. At that time her son Dalen was still a babe in arms.
I liked her then, but I didn’t get to know her well until we were assigned to work together on a church job. Alas, we never were very faithful with our church job, but we quickly became good friends.
Kendra started a club of sort that eventually became the Ya-Ya Scrappers. At first a group of about six of us met monthly to exchange page kits. Less than a year into this project we discovered although we all loved scrapping, and we all enjoyed spending time with each other, the kit exchange had to go.
But the page exchange had served its purpose by helping me get acquainted with other people in the community.
As the Ya-Ya Scrapper group was starting to coalesce; Kendra had a fourth child, yet another boy. Since her oldest son is the same age as my oldest son, and her second child is the same age as my second boy, we served as the babysitters when she went to the hospital to give birth to the fourth, Carter.
Kendra continued on with her busy life, running a day-care center out of her home, making wedding cakes and catering the occasional party on the side, and calling every member of the Ya-Ya Scrappers every morning to check up on us and chat.
Somewhere along the way, she became pregnant again. Shortly after discovering a fifth baby was on the way her husband, who works in the airline industry, decided it would be prudent to apply for a transfer to Georgia to protect his job security.
Since he and Kendra had moved to Utah from Georgia, most of their family was still in the Atlanta area.

Sure enough, his transfer was accepted, and in January he started working out of Georgia, camping at his in-laws house while Kendra continued living in Utah with the family. Pregnant with her fifth child, she continued babysitting, raising four children, and getting the house ready for the move.
The couple had plenty of help from community and friends, but in July, days before Megan was to arrive, Kendra and her husband were packing moving vans and cleaning carpets to get ready for the move. The four children were put on an airplane and sent to stay with grandma when Kendra went in to give birth to Megan. Her husband was there for the event.
But shortly thereafter he flew to Georgia. I went to pick her up at the hospital and brought her home to my house for an hour or so until a relative came to take her home where she rested for a day or two before getting on the airplane and rejoining the rest of the family in their new home.
With friends like Kendra, its no wonder I often feel inadequate because often it is all I can do to shower, wash a load of clothes and get dinner on the table.

Kendra: If you are reading this, I can't find my disk with baby Megan photos on it. Can you copy it and send it too me please.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I don't camp

Sunday. Time once again to write on the topic assigned by my church ladies. This week the topic is:
Did/Do you go camping? Tell you experiences doing it.
Hahahahahahahaha HaH!
Do you suppose the opening line is enough to qualify for having done the challenge?
Camping is of very little interest to me. It’s not that I am a girly girl or have an aversion to getting dirty or breaking a fingernail. On any given moment my fingers are covered with spray paint and / or ink sealed with a fine layer of Mod Podge.
But I am partial to my creature comforts. I prefer things like mattresses, flush toilets, roofs, walls, flush toilets, running water, and flush toilets. To me roughing it involves eating by candlelight.
However I am a member of a camp centric church. Most of my camping experiences can be traced to something brought about by my church membership.
The first such experience was girls’ camp when I was a teenager. I have been taught to swim, but I’m not very good at it, so the obsession with playing in the lake (actually more of a glorified mud puddle) rather escaped me. I have two or three strong memories of the event, one good, and two qualify as things never to be mentioned again.
The good memory was the fun we had lashing everything in camp. We lashed tables, chairs, the latrine, even a TP roll holder for the latrine. We were the lashing queens.
The bad experiences convinced me never to go camping again.
I held to that promise for more than 10 years until the church once again roped me into thinking camping would be fun. This time I was part of a Singles Ward with a generous bishop who owned a houseboat on Lake Powell. Every summer he invited the entire congregation to spend a long weekend on the houseboat. We did have a flush toilet. But since we also had way more people than is recommended in houseboat brochures, we spent a lot of time “wading into the water” to take care of the call of nature.
Then we went swimming.
As my swimming skills had not improved over the years, and the water had become a group potty for the party, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the water.
I wasn’t hot on the camping, but I did enjoy the company and had a good time overall.
Since the goal of the Singles Ward bishop was to abolish the congregation two by two, and the houseboat outings were not doing the job, we also took a couple of river trips down the San Juan.
Again the bathroom facilities were less then stellar. But I really did enjoy the long, lazy float down the river. The San Juan is in a protected area with Indian reservation on one side and Bureau of Land Management land on the other, so the scenery was reasonably unspoiled.
I and a group of friends compensated the kayaks to use as mattresses during our two night stay. But I quickly became disgusted with many members of the party who behaved like 12-year-olds on their first field trip. By the end of the trip it was pretty clear tome why everyone was still single. After three days I wanted to get shed of the lot of them, (except the three people who were sharing kayaks with me).
On the bus ride home as I watched people in their 30s behave like badly behaved teenagers, I resolved to do whatever I had to do avoid any more trips of this nature.
Ironically, later that summer I went on one more camping trip. This time I went with a group of friends in early fall. The weather was fine, the leaves were starting to turn and the acorns were ripe on the trees.
This trip restored my faith in camping. We took walks together, talked about hopes and dreams, pitched in to cook and clean up and simply enjoyed each other’s company. Best of all there was a flush toilet down the road.
I guess my experiences with camping have led me to the conclusion that in camping as well as in life a few luxuries go a long way. But the thing that can make or break constant contact with people in a primitive setting is the company you keep.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

An ordinary life

It’s funny the different pieces that make up a person’s life, how a collection of seemingly random interests and activities dovetail together to make up a personality.
I was thinking about my week last night as I was getting ready to attend an art show featuring local water color artists.
The artists included a local businesswoman who studied art in college for one year before marriage; children and helping her husband build a business came before her artistic yearnings. But still, she painted lovely little controlled pieces of old buildings around our town. She sells the prints at their store, although she hasn’t painted in years.
A second artist, a middle-aged man with a thriving career as an air traffic controller, walked into his first art class two and one half years ago at the urging of his co-workers. The man loved to doodle, and his free-hand drawings so impressed everyone who saw them, they urged him to study art.
His works were lovely, bold and technically strong. The man is a born artist. Although he couldn’t tell by looking the difference between burnt sienna and raw umber, his colors are beautiful, his drawings true, his brushstrokes bold.
A third artist, who I was unable to interview, had what the gallery owner freely admitted was her favorite piece in the show, a painting not much bigger than a post card of the head and shoulders of a Herford cow. It was the sort of illustration one might expect to see in a children’s book. Clearly it was a cow, but it had some human characteristics too. The cow appeared to be smiling.
It was fascinating to see how each artist’s personality came through so clearly in their work. Knowing their history made the artwork even more interesting.
After the show as I walked to my car I noticed how different my little town looks at night. The streetlights, traffic, and reflections of moonlight on snow gave it a urban look I don’t usually associate with the community.
Before driving home I snapped a few photographs of the park and an aging hotel now converted into an apartment complex.
As I wandered around in my professional art gallery clothes, camera in hand I remembered that at the same time a week earlier I was sitting around a dining room table with seven of my closest friends. We were wearing pajamas, laughing and swilling down peanut M&M’s and Pepsi.
This has been an extraordinary week for me, yet very typical. I did the usual chores, washed and folded laundry, cooked dinner, paid bills, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher.
I spent time with a friend looking at her layouts and scanning them on my printer. I wrote a newspaper story about a couple with an enduring marriage. I spent a lot of time in my scraproom, and a lot more time on the computer. I cuddled with my babies and my DH, listened to my youngest son read, helped my boys set up science fair projects and watched television.
It all sounds rather ordinary.
But it is my life, and I love it.

Update: I just posted my first project on Scrappin Trends. Here's the link to my work: http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/mb/scrappintrends?forum=40745

Friday, February 03, 2006

A bit of this an that

Not much new to report today except I did get one of my projects done, and it looks fabulous! Seriously, I am really pleased with the results.
It’s a little out of my norm. It is still very much in my style, but I haven’t done a lot of altering. This is altering in the true sense of the word ~ I not only embellished my project but I altered one object to be used in a completely different way.
I know, my explanation is vague and a bit of a tease. But I don’t feel comfortable posting the project here because I’m making it for Scrappin Trends, I’ll let you know, and provide a link, when I get both projects posted at the site. It should be sometime this weekend

. “Survivor” was fun!
I love the “old man” tribe. I think the astronaut and the jet fighter pilot are going to make it to the end. Of course I always think this kind of thing about the strong, fatherly older man. One could say I have a daddy complex. I’m usually right until the last two or three episodes, then the stronger older man gets toppled by a young buck or a sweet, stacked darlin’
I forgot to tape it for David, who had to work late. I put the tape in the machine, but the kids were watching something on Animal Planet just before “Survivor” started, and I was pretty sure David didn’t want me to tape their show. Alas, I was so excited when I heard the opening song of “Survivor,” I forgot to press record.
I remembered just as the show was winding down, and I said a few bad words. But I did manage to tape “CSI” and “ER” for him.