Monday, April 21, 2014

Thank You, Barbara Park, May You Rest in Peace.


In this post I mentioned the ability that Jenna has to create book projects to share about what books she has read.  One of her reports was a letter to the author of Junie B. Jones.  This is a letter which Jenna created for a grade.  We wanted to share it with the author who passed away in November.  We didn't realize that she had passed until we started searching for an address to send the letter to.  This is what Jenna wrote:

Dear Barbara, 

i’m a girl in 4th grade at [Vantana] Elementary in [Tannersville], Utah.  My name is [Jenna].  I absolutely love your books Junie b. Jones.  I’m going to tell you why.

First, Junie is like me: lonely but enthusiastic. 

Secondly, I’ve almost read the entire series of Junie b. Jones just not BOO . . . and I mean it and The Thanksgiving Light. Now I’m reading Cheater Pants

Thirdly, is Junie B from your childhood?

Lastly, Thanks for reading

From Jenna

It does seem a lot sweeter in her own print and mispells and charm.  But you get the jest.

There ARE MANY Perks to Eloping

A few of my posts have included dreams that I’ve had. Each of those posts concludes with how I don’t put much faith in dreams.  But there is one dream that I definitely interpreted to be quite meaningful.  I made a life changing decision as a result.

                  I met Roland for the first time on December 31, 2000.  He asked me out that night.  We would go downtown to celebrate the coming of the New Year.  I missed playing games with my family – a ritual I have enjoyed about New Years.

                  Roland was quite forward.  I had dismissed guys for being too forward – and none had ever been as forward as Roland had.  I didn’t understand why I felt so comfortable around him. By the end of our date we had set up a second. I don’t know if I knew then that we would be seeing the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks.

                  So during our second date, I cried and cried – not for Tom Hanks’ character, but because I thought of my dad.  Though he was never stranded on an island with a ball-turned-companion, I just remembered the frustration that dad must have felt in trying to communicate with anybody outside of his hospital bed. 

                  Roland was so gentle with me and seemed to understand.  He passed no judgment.  I was grateful for that. 

                  That night I had a dream that it was summer and my mom was trying to get all my sibs together for a family portrait.  In the dream Roland and I had been dating for six months.  He had not yet proposed, but I knew that he would be proposing.  I was wondering how to ask mom to allow Roland and the boys to be in our family picture, as I knew that we would be together by the end of the year.

                  In real life I shot out of bed.  I had met Roland only two days before.  We had only had our second date – a movie, at that. Why would I be dreaming that we would become an item?  I didn’t even know him!  I was less than thrilled about having this dream. 

                  The next day I went to work but returned home in less than four hours as I really didn’t feel well.  I told my brother that I’d be going back to bed and under any circumstances I was NOT to be disturbed.  But less than an hour later he knocked at my door to tell me that Roland was waiting for me.
                  For reals?  Or was I having another odd dream?  Roland was there to propose!  We had met just three days ago and he wanted to marry me!  Get real!  So of course my first thought was: “No, no, no, no, no . . . .”           actually the reaction was pretty much as it had been when I awoke from the dream.

Was there a connection?  Had my dream been a personal revelation?  Was this a test?  “No – no – I can’t accept a proposal of marriage.  I don’t even know this guy.  This goes against EVERYTHING I had planned for myself.  I wasn’t even going to date a guy I had known less than a year.  And now I was getting this message to marry this complete stranger?”

                  Of course I prayed about my decision – realizing that just because I accepted his proposal did not mean I couldn’t break it off at some point.  Three days?? That’s outrageous!!

                  Since I was knee high my dad had tried to brainwash me into believing that I wanted to elope when I had the opportunity.  To be honest, I really had no idea what he meant. It wasn’t until I got much older than I realized the elopement thing was not a bad idea.  Only by the time Roland came along, dad was gone and mom didn’t want me to elope.  I think my mom saw Roland as the Big Bad Wolf and was afraid for me.

                  Roland and I had changed our wedding date several times.  As I had mentioned in this post, we had wanted to do the right thing and start our life together with a temple marriage.

                    We had the marriage certificate to present to our bishop for the following week, but he realized that he’d be out of town. And I was tired of it.  Tired of changing the date.  Tired of trying to appease everyone.  In fact, I had said to mom and brother, Corey, “why don’t you arrange a date that fits into both of your schedules and get back to us; You two make the arrangements and tell us when to show up.”
After several tears and a talk with mom, I went into the bishop and asked if he could marry us that night or the next. Our civil marriage took place September 9, 2001. Everybody (including the groom) who came to the wedding received an eight hour notice or less.  So it wasn’t an elopement exactly, but it wasn’t planned in the way that you would think a wedding should be.

On September 11, terrorists attacked our nation.  If Roland and I hadn’t already been married, I would have had him drive me to Vegas upon my return home from work.  For I fully believed that the world had come to an end.  I suppose in many aspects it symbolically did.

A month later we did an open house – mostly for the benefit of those who attended mom’s ward and made desires known that they wished I would have had a reception or something.  I purchased balloons, baskets and teddy bears for the decor and we’d gone to Sam’s Club for the hors-d'œuvre.  I think we spent 100 bucks tops.

So it wasn’t elaborate.  It worked.  I don’t ever look back on that day and say, “Oh, I wish I would have spent more money on more frivolous things.”
Okay, I’ll admit, I’ve never been overly enthusiastic about weddings.  If I have to be involved in a wedding, I have always enjoyed the simpler ones so much better than all that elaborate hoopla.  When I finally understood my dad’s wisdom, I had hoped that each of my boys would find girls who would want to elope. 

Actually, my first daughter-in-law and I have much in common as far as hoopla goes.  Her attitude pretty much matched my own.  Her family made the arrangements and she and Tony showed up.  Well, not entirely.  But I am under the impression that is how she felt.  It was important to her mom, and that is why she allowed it.  Rochelle’s mom passed away only two months after she and Tony were married.

I don’t know how much Carrie and I have in common.  She likes to visit, but Randy somehow always manages to steal her thunder.  His behavior resembles that of Captain Kirk or William Shatner where “I am important and therefore all attention should be on me”   

It was actually that behavior that Carrie found to be a turn off.  She could see right away that Randy is full of himself (which really most people don’t get because they are always awed by his charisma) I don’t recall why she agreed to go out with him, or why she allowed a second date (her description of their first date is less than flattering) but evidently had enough premonition to make a life with him.

Their wedding was expensive.  We did not contribute financially as we were on welfare when  both Randy and Tony were married to their wives. Perhaps that is part of why I have such a hang-up with the tremendous amount of money spent on weddings.  I have enough trouble  just staying afloat or trying to put food on the table.  Spending two paychecks for one-day event is OUTRAGEOUS.

Jeanie seemed all in favor of elopement initially.  But I think Biff wanted the hoopla – and what they had in mind initially seemed tasteful.  They would get married in the temple and have a luncheon with the family.  They wouldn’t send out announcements to friends until several weeks later to invite them to some kind of reception to pay a congratulations to the couple. At least that was my understanding.

But then it changed.  And changed again.  They couldn’t marry in the temple as they had planned and so they decided just to marry civilly.  They would include family members and have a luncheon afterward.  Later when they were granted temple marriage, they would have a reception to include all family and friends.

We received the announcement of their civil marriage and have been planning for that for over a month.  Two weeks ago Roland received a text from Biff to please escort him in the temple.  They are having their temple marriage on Friday and have changed their civil marriage to something else to accommodate those that are coming on Saturday. 

Two weeks is quite a healthy notice.  It’s not like Biff rushed into a proposal only three days after having met Jeanie.  And they have given us a lot more than just eight hours notice.  I can’t help but wonder what kind of example we set for them though. 

Still no scheduled reception – at least   that I know of.  I wonder if they are still planning on having more.  I think elopement would have been so much easier.  Definitely less expensive.  I can still plant the seeds for Jenna.  Let her know the pros and the cons.  I mean, it would be nice if we could afford something elaborate for her.  But gads, all that money for just one day?  Why not put the money towards a house or tuition or something that you will have with you with more than just a memory?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Horses, Elephants, Fairytales

Michael Morpurgo wasn’t born until some time after World War II had ended, and yet he was affected by the war as bombed ruins became his play ground.  It wasn’t until much later that he learned that the war had not only destroyed buildings – it had destroyed lives as well – including that of his own family.

        The books he writes tell of the history but also give hope to the reader.  I have not yet read “War Horse” but it is on my books-to-read list.  The first book that I’ve read by this author is “An Elephant in the Garden

Before the bombs had dropped on Berlin, the keeper of the Berlin Zoo had mentioned when the destruction came, all of the big animals at the zoo would have to be killed.  A woman who worked at the zoo asked if she could take a baby elephant she was attached to.  Every night when the zoo closed, she would take the elephant home and every morning she would bring it back – until the bombs came.  And then there was no point.

Morpurgo took this true account and another of a woman whose husband had joined the team of those who had tried to assassinate Hitler.  After he was executed, she took refugees into her home. 

From my understanding “War Horse” takes place in England whereas “An Elephant in the Garden” takes place in Germany.  Instead of Berlin, Morpurgo starts the story out in Dresden.  He gives the account of three family members who flee from one horrific scene to another while traveling with an elephant.

I like his style. There are so many truths about how it was for far too many.  Families torn apart before the war because of political disagreement, abandoning their houses whether willingly or not, fear of the unknown. “An Elephant in the Garden” is written in first person.  I’m hoping his other work is as well.  

I have a second book on reserve at the library.  I will have to go and pick it up within the next three days.  Looking forward to reading more.  Not just the historical fiction that he’s written, but some of his other work – like rewritten fairytales.  I LOVE fairytales with a new perspective.  My favorite thus far is called “Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter” by Diane Stanley.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rambling Thoughts

            Last week I purchased bus passes for Jenna and me as Minerva (our neighbor who has been taking Jenna to school) said that her son wanted to start riding the bus again.  I am okay either way.  Morning commute’s not so bad – at least going to school.  Road painting caused delays on the return.

            I was returning from the library the other day when a man at the bus stop insisted on talking to me.  I was far more interested in the book I was holding than in anything that he was saying and actually annoyed with his ignorance that I was trying to read.  He said he was looking for a job. Taking baths in the Jordan Canal is getting too cold.  He used to live in those apartments over there.  He still knows people. 

            He hadn’t shaved because he doesn’t have a razor.  He didn’t look homeless, but he didn’t seem dressed for hire. .I don’t know what kind of work he was looking for.  He was wearing camouflage coveralls.  They looked as if though they had been recently removed from a sales rack. 

            He soon tired of waiting for the bus, just as I tired of what I thought might be endless talk on his part.  Another guy got off the train and asked how soon the bus would come.  I told him that it shouldn’t be long any how UTA had just changed most all of the buss schedules (I mean, after all,  it has been a grand total of four months since the last change) to accommodate for meeting TRAX on schedule – yeah, like that’s really going to happen.  Perhaps if they schedule buses to run every ten minutes they will have a fighting chance.  But some of the routes are schedule to run only every thirty.  The train can always run on time, but I don’t think UTA has taken in consideration of UDOT traffic on the road. 

            When I mentioned the construction, the guy gets a less-than-thrilled look on his face and says, “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.”

            How could you forget?  The orange barrels and polycones are a sign that spring has officially started – though there is usually 3-7 days of cold wet weather which takes place right after the cones are in place.

            The other night the wind was blowing hard.  I usually don’t hear it from my bedroom – but it was loud enough outside my bedroom door that I wondered what it was. 

After I got up, I could hear the wind blowing outside.  I saw flashes of lightening – what I thought was lightening anyway.  Turns out that it was really sparks from the power lines.  Our backyard neighbor mentioned it in Church.  He said the wind was blowing so hard that our tree was knocking into the power lines.  Fortunately it did not knock them down.  Today I called Rocky Mountain Power to make them aware. And hopefully they will be able to cut it down to where it’s either tamed or null (though I think I’d actually prefer the latter)

            Since we have moved to West Valley, I can only remember the power going out just once – well, just one time in our neighborhood.  I’ve been affected by West Valley Power outages when I was driving.  I’m evidently on a different transformer than the surrounding areas which have been affected.

When we lived in Kearns, it seemed we were without power almost as often as we had power – slight exaggeration perhaps.  But I remember not having power many a time.  I remember meeting in the cultural hall of the church because somebody thought it would let in the strongest amount of light.  Only one meeting was held.

            I have many thoughts in my head that remain unsorted.  Posts won’t write themselves and often I am too lazy to do it.  Or my thoughts just don’t seem to flow together and flow smoothly.  Take this post for instance.  Not flowing.  Jumbled.  Boring.  You don’t have to read it.  So why are you?

            After I walked Jenna to school I went to a few stores in search of Vick’s VapoSyrup because my throat has been dry the last couple of days, and VapSsyrup works.  I don’t recall where I even got it last time.  Three stores and none of them had even an empty space for it.  I need something that will work for me.  I need to feel better and stop being tired and get back on track.

Friday, April 11, 2014

100 Things I'm Grateful for

I started this list several months ago.  I had 89 things at the time.  They are now in alphabetical order so I could type without repeating myself. 

1 aides (such as glasses, hearing)
2 air conditioner
3 angels

4 art

5 assistance

6 autumn

7 baby wipes
8 balance

9 binders

10 blankets

11 boxes

12 bus drivers
13 calenders

14 camera

15 choices

16 clocks

17 clothes lines
18 coats 

19 communication
20 companionship of the Holy Ghost
21 copy machines 
22 crossing guards
23 diversity

24 doctors

25 doors

26 educaton

27 educators

28 enthusiasm
29 family

30 fans (the air circulating kind)
31 farmers

32 firefighters
33 foot wear

34 forefathers
35 freedom

36 freezer

37 furniture

38 growth

39 hair dressers
40 hairbrush

41 health care facilities
42 hearing

43 historians

44 hope

45 hospitals

46 humidifiers
47 humor

48 imagination
49 improvement
50 individualism
51 inventors

52 journals

53 learning

54 libraries

55 light bulb

56 medicine

57 microwave oven
58 minds

59 music

60 nature

61 options

62 order

63 paint

64 paper

65 paper cutter
66 pen

67 photo shop
68 photos

69 pioneers

70 printers

71 promptings of the Spirit
72 prophets

73 recognition of blessings
74 recorders

75 rest

76 retirement homes and staff
77 sanitation workers
78 scanners

79 scissors

80 scrapbooking options
81 scriptures

82 service

83 shelves

84 sight

85 sleep

86 space

87 spell check
88 storage space
89 stores

90 talents

91 tissues

92 transportation
93 truck drivers
94 usbs

95 variety

96 voices

97 washing machines
98 water

99 wikepedia

100 windows

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Making Frozen Dinners

I’m not one to advocate or endorse products.  I know I need to lose weight.  I get soooooo tired of all the weight loss commercials featuring Marie Osmond or Jessica Simpson. I have tasted one of the two products advertized and was not impressed.  But then there was another celebrity diet with food I have tried and liked and best of all:  we could also purchase the products at a regular grocery store.  We wouldn’t have to rely on the mail or join a weight loss club and be on the mailing list for eternity. 

Once at the store, we learned that said product was twice as much as any other frozen dinner – as well it should be.  The products offered just taste a whole lot better.  But still any of the brands added up to costly. 

We decided that we would skip the frozen breakfast and just eat smaller portions of whatever we prepared for Jenna's morning meal.  And then we began our first week of frozen dinners (which is still not the greatest way, but is the option we chose) and I’m happy to report, that even the knock off brands really did curve my appetite.  I could really feel my stomach shrink.  But my pallet really wasn’t satisfied.   

In less than a week after we started, I decided that I would just make my own frozen dinners.  Roland and I often have leftovers, and rather than refrigerate the entire lump sum, I would divvy it out into small portions and freeze them and use those as our dinners – though they might contain the same fibers that were/are needed to lose weight.

The first thing I thought of was enchiladas – mostly because I just didn’t care for the knock-off brand taste.  The thing was drown in heavily spiced sauce and I’m a dweeb when it comes to anything remotely spicy.  I have been freezing my enchiladas each time I have made them because the recipe makes more than we can handle – though I could cut the recipe in half or forth it, I don’t have a pan that accommodates less than six enchiladas.

But before I had even started the enchiladas, I had some ham in the refrigerator that was in need of side dishes.  Because we did not have whole potatoes, I had to resort to the instant potatoes or use the frozen hash browns from our freezer.  I decided I would go for the hash browns and make funeral potatoes – which I love.  At first I decided to cut the recipe in half – mostly due to my weakness for something that should not be included on a weight-loss diet, but then thought better of it and made what was obviously too much for us but decided that I would make some ham dinners (with funeral potatoes as its side) to put in the freezer. 

The enchiladas came two days later. 

I got the recipe from a sister who used to live in the ward.  She actually boils her meat (yuck!) while I steam it so that I can add salt and seasoning and flavor to the chicken.  I also add olives for variety.  She doesn’t care for olives though.  But because it’s an easy recipe as well as one that makes my taste buds happy, I tend to make it quite often.

Normally I will use large tortillas but as we only had small ones I ended up making 18 small enchiladas instead of the usual ten.  Worked out nicely I thought as I was able to freeze most of them – but only did one with the sides.  But they are the perfect size for these really small meals that I’ve been making. 
Here is what I have loaded into our freezer thus far: currently there are 10 ham meals, 4 turkey meals (that was from last night) 3 enchiladas (so much for losing weight, huh?) and one fish meal.  Tonight I’ll be making spaghetti.  I don’t know how well that will freeze.

 So here are the recipes for two of my meals: 

Funeral Potatoes

32 oz shredded frozen hash browns
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 C  sour cream
1 ½ c grated cheddar cheese
½ c melted butter
½ c chopped onion
2 C crushed corn flakes

In a large bowl combine soups, sour cream, cheese, onions and ½ C melted butter

Fold hash browns into mixture

Spoon out mixture into greased baking pan

Combine crushed cornflakes with 2 T butter and sprinkle on top

Bake for 30 min at 350


10 – 12 flour tortillas

16 oz sour cream
1 jar green Verde sauce
1 sm can green chilies
4-6 chicken breast
3 C cheese

Precook chicken by steaming meat and let cool.  Chop or shred.

Mix sour cream, chilies and half of Verde sauce with chicken and just over 2 C cheese

Spoon mixture into tortillas and roll

Pour with remaining Verde sauce and cheese

Bake 25-30 min at 350

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Very Small Amount of Water Transportation

If I had to gander a guess, I would say there are more forms of transportation in the water than on the land.  But I’m just guessing.

There are tugboats, canoes, kayaks, yachts, ships, motorboats, sail boats, house boats, ferry boats, water taxies, steam boats, rafts, jet skis, paddle boats, surf boards and submarines to name a few. 

Most of the water transportation that I’ve been on have been rides at amusement parks – rides that may very well work without the water, so I don’t guess they count – though the Water Skeeters at Lagoon and the Canoe Ride at Disneyland did require physical work unlike the tugboat kiddie ride or Tom Sawyers raft.

So, outside of the amusement park I have ridden a ferry – well a few of them rather.  But the ferry in British Columbia was quite different from the said ferry that takes passengers on a guided tour.  We (or dad, rather) actually drove our car onto the ferry in British Columbia and disembarked at another destination.

The thing I remember the most is being in a lock chamber – that is when water levels were raised or lowered to accommodate boat to fit with the water level on the other side.  That was interesting.

I have also been on a cruise ship.  It was when I was single and had money.  For the most part I was okay with it.  I recall only one night being sea sick.  I went with my mom and her mom on a princess liner cruise to Alaska.

Two of the side trips we took were going down Mendenhall River on a raft and enjoying the Misty Fjords in a float plane.  It was actually my birthday when we visited Misty Fjords. That was cool.  I don’t know many people who have been on a float plane during his or her lifetime.  Mom and I actually stepped out from the float plane after we had landed on the water, but grandma remained seated inside.

I’ve also been river rafting with the young men and young women down the Snake River. We had three rafts – one of mostly leaders, one of young men and one with young women.  Or perhaps there were only two rafts and one that had only one guide whose raft carried the food and supplies. We’d alternate after we would stop to camp.  On the last day one of our young women was shivering so hard that the boat would move without our having to paddle.

I had always thought that the sailboat looked like such a relaxing form of transportation.  It wasn’t! The hardest work I have ever encountered on water transportation was not due to a paddle, oar, or pedal.  I thought the water transportation demanding the most physical work was with the sail.  Perhaps the elements were off that day.  I don’t remember.  I have only gone sailing that one time and I remember being exhausted and not relaxed at all.

The young men and young woman had decided that they would like to spend a day on the lake – either water skiing or just riding in the boat.  We had almost the same amount of leaders as we did youth as those who drove the boats had brought their partners.  There ended up being two motor boats and a sail boat.  More than half the youth had gone with the motor boats and most of the young women were left with the sailboat – which held only three.  And since the only experienced sailor was Alan, he was always one of three, and thus the rest of us could go only two at a time – which made the experience filled with long waiting.

The girls felt gypped as the water activity ended before they were given the opportunity to ride in the motorized boats or water ski.  And so a make –up activity was allowed for those who hadn’t had the opportunity to ski and we took another week to venture out on the boat with just those young women who had missed out.

I don’t know how long we were out.  I think each of us had a turn to water ski or to be pulled in the tube.  I vaguely remember riding in the tube.  The boat moved only a little bit and then it stopped. I don’t know why we were stranded or how I got back into the boat. Either the driver miscalculated how much gas was in the boat or else a part came off or got wrecked or something.  We couldn’t move.

The highlight of the trip for the young women was not water skiing or being in the tube.  The highlight (for most of them) happened after we got stranded and a boat full of boy scouts offered to pull us into shore.  You would think that all of the boy scouts were heart throb celebrities from the reaction the girls had on their faces.  How exciting and memorable that make-up trip became for them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Last Two Books

We have only two months left of the mother-daughter book group.  After our last meeting the librarian had placed the next book near the back of the room. I don’t know how many copies were there. Jenna and I were the last ones to retrieve.

The book for this month is Flint Heart by Katherine and John Paterson.  It appeared to be easy reading, but I also saw the words “pixies”, “fairies”, and “trolls” perhaps.  No, no, no, no.  Had it been written in first person, maybe.  But overall it is NOT something that appeals to me.  I loathe fantasies and all of those fantasy creatures and all the bizarre names of characters and places. 
I checked out a book and a CD figuring Jenna could read along at her own pace as she has always seemed to enjoy that make-believe aspect.  But her comments thus far have been, “It’s weird.” Though I guess it’s been weird in a good way, she hasn’t gone into detail about why.

Meanwhile I decided to place a hold on Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. When I went to the library to pick it up, I was quite surprised at the thickness of the book.  THICK.  I figured I had placed a hold on the wrong book and flipped through its pages and noticed several illustrated pages.  (I did not count them, but the description indicates over 400 of them) Okay.  I still had no clue about what I had checked out.

Thus far it is among one of the more interesting books I have ever read (and looked at) and look forward to reading more about the author but have decided I will finish this book before reading any material I’ve come across on the website so I don’t risk possibly running  into any spoilers.

            The written part of the story takes place in 1977.  Ben lives by Gunflint Lake in Minnesota.  He’s been left in the care of his aunt and uncle as his mom has passed away.  He has never met his dad but decides to go look for him in New York.

The illustrations  start out with another story.  They tell the story of Rose who lived in New Jersey fifty years earlier.  She also goes to New York in search of stage and silent screen star, Lillian Meyhew, who she seemingly seems to idolize.  

I have appreciated how the pictures have connected, though two different stories.  But as Ben experiences the storm (through words) in 1977 the illustrations show us another storm that took place in 1927.  The words describe how Ben sees the museum in 1977.  The illustrations that follow show the same museum from Rose’s point of view in 1927.

I have had the book for only three days and am nearly finished with the story part and am starting to see more of a connection between the two characters.  It has been a rather quick and interesting journey.  I can honestly say I have never seen another book   like it.  I am interested to what the girls will have to say about it when we meet together in May