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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wal-mart: Minds of Intelligence

Notice the date!  April First is April Fools' Day – Hence the title.  


I think customers are lacking in intelligence for going to Wal-Mart (or just admitting it) and waiting in endless lines to be waited on by clueless employees who appear even less intelligent than the customer (who, by the way, is still waiting in line)

I realize it’s wrong to stereotype, and I’m sure that somewhere in this Universe there really are happy Wal-Mart employees who seriously do understand their positions and really do enjoy being there as the Wal-Mart commercials would like us to believe.  I have personally just never met any of them.

Embarrassing as it is to admit this: yes, once again we ended up at Wal-Mart.  Roland wanted to get some head-phones to give to Jenna on her birthday.  I thought it was a great idea!  He chose Wal-Mart so that he could charge it.  NOT a great idea.  Especially since we didn’t actually have the card.  He had given it to me the other day before he left for work and I neglected to give it back to him.

He was certain that he could be issued a temporary if he went to the customer service.  The serpentine line that led to the customer service wasn’t moving.  I didn’t want to wait in line if we could help it.  I had given Jenna a time when we would return to the house.  We were off our mark by almost 30 minutes thanks to the endless Wal-Mart lines and lack of professional performance. 

Waiting in line: AS IF WE COULD REALLY HAVE AVOIDED IT!  We got in the express line in which the customer is supposed to have only ten items or less.  Why is it that there were three non-English speaking individuals filling bags with their groceries as the cashier continued to ring up all the items that filled their cart.  Really?  He couldn’t have communicated that they needed to be in another line? 

The other four clerks that were standing at the register on the side seemed like they were cluelessly trying to assist.  It reminded me of this  post on Corey’s blog.  It is really funny reading in a sad sort of a way – sad because it’s true.  It is kind of long however.  But a fine example of the Wal-Mart mentality.

As Roland and I stood in the line of clueless customers who must have thought the sign said, “100 items or less”, another employee took over as cashier and helped to move the line along – but not before losing a few individuals who really did have less than ten items.  But then who wants to wait in a line for 30 minutes to purchase a soft drink and a pack of gum?

Another check stand opened up.  Roland and I were waved through by an employee who seemed just as appalled at the express lane situation as I was.  When I looked over at Customer Service, there was no line.  The serpentine line of customers with carts had died down before the express line had.  Those same three people holding up the express line still hadn’t finished with their purchase when the customer service had died out.  But perhaps they all got tired of waiting also and left without resolving whatever issue each of them may have had. 

We’re creatures of habit who continue to do stupid things.  Why are we doing this to ourselves?  Why do we continue to keep Wal-Mart in business (not to mention our time)?  Could it be that our NON-intelligence exceeds the average Wal-Mart employee?  Why do we continue punishing ourselves over and over? How many Wal-Mart employees does it take to screw in a lighbulb?  Answer:  "What's a lightbulb?"

Monday, March 31, 2014

What Season is it Again?

Jenna’s off for ten days for
Spring Break. 
It appears that
spring is also
on a break.

It did make a brief appearance. 
But mostly it’s been
winter and fall. 
We have seen a few
trees in bloom.

We have also seen
autumn leaves on
the ground. 
I don’t recall ever seeing
autumn leaves in
January, let alone

On Monday I saw autumn leaves still
clung to the neighbors tree. 
They are gone now.
Winds have been howling.
It has been
spring, winter and fall all
in one day. 

Not much summer,
though there have
been some who’ve
jumped the gun and
were wearing shorts and
flip flops in February. 
I didn’t think it was
that warm. 

I’ve taken poor Highness for a walk only
 one day. 
It was warm. 
There may have been
a breeze.  But not the
heavy wind that usually
knocks me in a coma.

Yesterday we could hear the rain
 pounding on the
roof of the church. 
When we walked out to
the car, it was raining and
snowing at the same time. 
Wet messy sleet turned
into huge flakes of snow. 

I wonder what kind of weather
today will offer.