Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Losing Home, Discarding Memories & Wearing Out My Scanner

It will be a while before my next post – as I have TONS of photos and scrapbooking to go through.  I just simply don’t have the room for storing them – at least not the hard bound books (and there are many) but do have room on some drives to insert in the computer.

Blessed are they who can discard without sentimental attachment – for they don’t have to dejunk later on.  Their lives are made easier because they don’t save every little item.  They don’t have decades of clutter.

As Corey had mentioned in a previous post  Ellen and Nate have decided to throw out a bunch of mom’s junk.  And granted, it does look nicer than I think it has ever looked – and seems inviting.  But at the exact same time, it’s not
          I haven’t lived in mom’s house for over 11 years  but had always felt at home there.  I paid for the microwave that is in the kitchen.  I paid for the over-the-toilet cabinet downstairs.  Most of the pots and pans (that mostlikey don’t even get used anymore) are mine.  But we just don’t have room for them in our tiny house or ever tinier kitchen.  The house itself seemed to welcome me – but not anymore.  It hasn’t seemed to for the last year or so. 

Mom’s not the same.  And the house certainly isn’t.  I can’t just walk freely about the house as I had at one time.  The basement is now off limits – at least in my mind.  I feel like an unwanted guest so much of the time.  I don’t think Nate thinks very highly of me – not that his opinion of me matters.  But it’s hard enough visiting my mom as it is – and then to have the sane one act as though you don’t belong.  That he may be better than you. Here’s a salt shaker – why not just pour the salt into my wounds.
          And perhaps I’m just reading him wrong. I like things orderly and tidy too – though it doesn’t appear that way.  I’ve married into a family of slobs – except for Randy – who shows no sentimental attachment either and has no problem discarding ANYTHING.  And then there’s Tony and Jenna who are worse than I am about saving and hoarding.  And too often the sentiment is lost.
          I’m actually finding that right now with the things I have saved throughout the years.  I have embarrassed myself.  Why did I save this?  Why on earth did I save that?  What does this even mean?

          Last night I pulled pages out from two photo albums (the ones produced in the 70’s and 80’s; the ones with the magnetic pages that have tons of acid which eat away at the photos) and scanned a few memories;  pulled out the postcards for Jenna to send to her friends,  and ended up throwing away three scrapbooks this morning.  There’s really no purpose for me to hang onto it – especially because of the lack of space.

When we lost our first house, mom said I could store my memorabilia at her house.  She’s got tons of room.  She’d be in that house forever.  It would always be a part of us.  There was no reality for me three years ago when we moved.  Her memory was starting to go – but NOTHING like it is now.  The reality is that we may be selling mom’s house long before Roland and I can ever move from the one we are currently in.  Probably we’ll die here – and then our children will have to go through.  And Randy will be the only one who can throw it all away.  So I’m trying to help ease that burden now.  I am trying to consolidate and keep things simple.  Trying.  I just added to the overwhelmness pile.

The first album I went through included missionary photos – now nearly 30 years old.  There is very little sentimental (if any) left with that area or those I served.  I tried keeping in touch with those that I served with.  It made it hard when I was doing all the letter writing with very little (if any) correspondence on the other end.  And unlike Corey with a strong connection to many of those that he served, I lost track.  I don’t know these people.  And because the majority of them have faded and lost their color – it was easier to throw away. If worse comes to worse, I do still have the negatives  But is the technology for developing disc negatives still around? 

I actually did take this picture at Virginia Beach - I took it with
 my disc camera.  I was always impressed with the outcome

The second album started out with a week of summer activity.  Mom and Dad had gone with Corey on an excursion to  New York.  Kayla and I spent less money in the entire week than they did in just one day.  I removed those pages.

The remaining pages were of Patrick’s family.  Thus I will take it back to mom’s with a note for Sunny if she wishes to keep it or discard it will be her choice.  I am resigning myself from the position of family historian.

I have tried dejunking before.  Rationalizing that those who lived during Hitler’s reign were not able to hang onto their possessions.  With all the natural disasters that have taken place (floods, fires, Katrina, Sandy) so much is lost.  Why hang onto it?  What’s the point?
          I’ve made some scrapbook pages that I’m really quite proud of.  I would like to save those and pass them on.  I would like to save written words – they are so much more meaningful than what is typed into the computer – even if it does seem illegible.  I still have one more pile of scrapbooks.  And then the journals.  My pathetic journals.  Perhaps I’ll just throw those away.  I would like Jenna to have something.  But not so much that it will be overwhelming.

                                                          this would be an embarrassing page  

          Right now she’s fascinated with stuff from my childhood – asking questions.  Some I am able to answer.  Others I have no clue.  And I’m trying to teach her that if you can’t remember the reasons you were hanging onto something in the first place, perhaps they’re just not really worth hanging onto anymore.

          I did bring home a box she had made for the Reflections contest when she was in kindergarten.  There was an award ceremony that took place shortly after we moved.  I kept the box at mom’s house so that it wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle, and had actually forgotten about it.  Jenna enthusiastically retrieved it.  She thinks she’s going to keep it forever.  And maybe she will.  Maybe when she’s fifty she’ll decide she really doesn’t NEED it after all.

          And may my scanner last for many years and not break down in the middle of my “dejunking”  How grateful I am for modern technology which allows me to compact my memories.  I hope what I do save will prove to be useful for generations to come.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Some Tarry and Some Labor

Matthew 20:1-16 gives us the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  I had always looked at the parable as one about missionary work – about the hereafter, about those who spend their whole lives in the Church striving to do what is right and having someone who has put other’s through hell repent at the last hour. 
          I have labored so many hours in the hot burning sun – and God is telling me that if Maleficent should choose to repent, that her reward will be the same as my own.  That she is entitled to all the same blessings as my own.  I’ll admit that I haven’t accepted this interpretation very graciously.  But then who am I to think of myself as better if she truly surrendered herself and did/does repent and actual develop a "compassion" if you will? 

          Slaving in the vineyard is hard work.  I have often thought that I am really just so tired of being there.  I never gave another thought to those who are “waiting in line” – those would be laborers that remain at the job site in hopes that the master will return with something for them – any kind of a position that will give them some kind of wage.

          In today’s economy, it is easy to see why they would stay and tarry – but they would also hold signs that say, “I will work for food”  “Please help me.  I’m poor” and so forth. 

          I never gave the tarrying laborers a second thought.  I hadn’t thought of this parable with a different perspective until today.  And for the first time I saw myself as one of those who has stood in line more than once – and still find myself standing at times. 

          For the message that was shared today focused on those that are standing in line – for those who are doing everything diligently (to the best of their ability) and showing up at the labor site day in and day out and feel like they are just not being picked – that they, that we will never feel the blessings.

          Carrie is the wife of the second counselor, and I am married to the first.  We were actually on opposite ends of the room, but our eyes seemed to be connected to our mouths – that is every time we would make a comment or participated by reading, our eyes would leak and start a chain reaction of making our voices crack.

          She didn’t go into detail about why she was crying - but I think many understood.  She and Dan have been trying to adopt.  It’s been a painful process.  Why, when they attend their Church meetings, and hold callings, and serve diligently are they still waiting in line?  Why can they not labor in the vineyard?  For how long must they tarry? Why does it have to be in God’s due time?

          I have spent many years asking myself that one.  It was painful to watch those I had taught in sunbeams to get married and have children long before I even had a prospect.  People my age were experiencing their second and third season of life.  I was still in the first season and wondered if that was it. 

          The instructor who shared the lesson is in her 40’s and has never been married.  Actually there are several sisters in my ward who have never been married.  Some have friends moving through autumn and some have actually arrived in winter.  I’m probably somewhere between summer and fall – sort of like the weather is now.

          Surrendering ourselves to Him is hard.  We need to have faith that He really does know what’s best for us – that the trials we endure right now are just to make us stronger down the road.  That our “waiting in line” isn’t done in vain – that there is a purpose.  We need to endure while we wait – impatiently or not.  We can’t control His time.  So why not accept it graciously?  

          Perhaps if I dwell on the subject long enough, I can learn to accept it graciously.  I have been blessed.  And I need to focus more fully on those blessings.  Because right now I really am not very gracious about the whole tarrying matter.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Haunted Maze that Ruined Halloween

          The church was across the street from our first house.  The members used to do a Halloween party every year.  There would be a dinner, costumes and activities.
          People would gather in the multipurpose room to begin with.  And there were 4-6 rooms off to the side where the children could go and participate in various crafts, games and stories. 

          One Halloween my family was asked to host a room.  We found one that did not have windows.  We set up a large cardboard box in the middle of the room.  Roland and the boys worked from inside the box. 

          On the outside we had painted pictures of tombstones, skeletons, ghosts and maybe leaned toward the scary icons of Halloween and not the cute pumpkins and such.

          Our room was rather simple.  We turned out the lights and invited people to “walk through the maze” which was just a trip around the box.  We had placed “scary creatures” in three of the four corners of the room.  The first encounter was with a motion censored skeleton – as someone would approach, the eyes would glow and the skeleton would dance to the tune of “The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out . . . “

          In one corner was a homemade monster.  We had hanging eyeballs and had blown up a ton of balloons to be walked on.  Plus one of my four guys would operate a rat moving back and forth as he would push and pull out a fuzzy ball tied to the end of a broom stick.

          In our final corner was a button that read “DO NOT PUSH”.  Those who did got to hear the sounds of an obnoxious horn while having confetti thrown at them. 
          Our “haunted maze” was a big hit with the teenagers – but too frightening for the majority of children under eight maybe ten.  I think that was actually the last year that a Halloween party was held in the Church building.  They did (and still do) a trunk or treat out in the parking lot – but I don’t think they do the parties anymore.

I really think that was the last one. I can’t help but think our maze was the reason that the inside parties were done away with.  Maybe it’s just a coincidence. But it gives one something to think about.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

And the Hunting Begins

          Mom is at the point – and actually has been for some time – where she needs 24/7 care.  Oh, there are some days where she actually seems like her old self – someone we could leave alone and believe she’ll be fine for the two hours that she will be by herself.  It’s always another “personalitythat gets her lost.

          So we have taken upon ourselves the dreaded task of looking into assisted living – either or in or out of the house.  Corey would prefer in.  I think it may be time for mom to move on so that we can sell the house as that is what will be paying a good part of the expense. 

I had looked into one before – when Corey didn’t believe she was ready.  But I think he’s slowly realizing that he can’t undo the situation at hand and must face the possibility that we will have to move mom.

Corey and I went to a fabulous retirement home called “Sunrise” - that is where I would like Randy to put me should the need ever arise.  Actually, I expect that I will go before Roland.  But that’s beside the point.  Right now we are looking for  mom.  And we found a strong appreciation for what Sunrise has to offer. 

On mom’s budget we could keep her there for possibly over a year, but definitely not more than two.  We have to find something lower in price – unfortunately.  Because you really do get what you pay for in the way of Sunrise – so we’ll probably not get what we’re not paying for by putting her elsewhere.

Corey has scheduled to see some more places today and tomorrow.  And I’ve been invited to attend.  However today is my visit with mom and tomorrow I’ve scheduled an MRI and I’m not rescheduling.  It may be nothing – but I’ve already gambled on it for almost four weeks now.  But that will be another post.

Oh, the joys of growing old.  Most Life Insurances cannot be collected until one is deceased.  So really, why is it called “Life” insurance? There have been many who have put money into investments to assist with retirement age.  And many of those investments have been a gamble that has not paid well.  Many investments will not fork out more than two months worth of assisted living at Sunrise – maybe six at one that is less costly.

I feel so sorry for those who have no income or have lost their retirement due to the economy or those who have children who squander their savings only to have it gone when it is truly needed.

May we be able to find an assisted living that meets our expectations and may mom be able to adjust to it without too much emotion.  She doesn’t get what my brothers have already tried to explain to her.  I’m grateful that I didn’t have to try and explain it to her – I’m already an emotional boob as it is.

We can’t have mom wandering off.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Throughout the years I’ve written down a child’s interpretation (most from four year old minds) of what things are. Here are some of them:

Four years old, looking for a specific shade

Which one is “antler” brown?

On mortar:

Why are there grey lines
on grandma’s house?

Popeye looks just like Charlie
Brown, but he’s a smoker

On Saturday’s warrior video:

“It’s a happy sad show.  But
some of it is boring.”

“Are you sick because you’re
building a baby?”

tiger skin

snow snakes

Potato Paper

Why does the potato have trees

First corn dog discovery:

“There’s a hot dog inside!”

Egg Slobber

Adult complains about the small
amount of money that may accompany
a huge mound of paper work

“Well you are lucky.  I do
paper work at school all day long
and I don’t get paid anything”

The cave is scary
because it has teeth

 “If you look closely, you
can see feathers in the moon”

If you watch too much TV
you’ll get diarrhea

“I am so mad, I feel like a rhinoceros
that swallowed a rock”

“How do they get sunflowers
to grow inside of bagels?”

Trying to explain her first vomiting experience:

“My mouth broke”

Chucky fried Chicken

On Snowball Snacks

“I don’t really like the brown
part; I just like the skin.”

 “This cereal has no flavor”

It’s a twinkle twinkle little star

Set up for Easter egg hunt:

 “Where the Easter Eggs grow”

No matter who answered the phone:

 “Is this the number for
Grandma June’s House?”

Identifying Chewbacca

Han Solo’s lion

“Mama!  Mama!  God just took my picture!”

 Grape bones

“Mama! Mama!  Kayla ate the baby Jesus”

When Fival falls overboard my
niece is genuinely concerned:

“Does Fival ever get to see his mom
and dad get married in the temple?”

Sunday, October 21, 2012

We're Encouraged to Attend Often but it's not a Requirement

          I realize it’s been over two months since I last attended the temple.  Sad part about the whole ordeal is that I honestly haven’t missed going.

          I have a friend who attends two or three times a week.  She thrives on it – or at least she did when she lived in West Valley.  She has moved downtown Salt Lake and is actually a lot closer to the Salt Lake City Temple – I would think she still goes fairly often – perhaps even moreso.

          The first time my mom had gone through the temple, it was a terrible experience for her.  There was a lot that she didn’t understand.  Unbeknownst to her, she had gone on a session with a group who were hearing impaired.  Sign language was used for the benefit of those who were hearing impaired – but my mom didn’t understand that it was done in translation.  She thought it was some kind of symbolism that she was expected to memorize as a temple patron.

          Neither my mom’s parents nor dad’s parents were able to attend the temple with their children or see them get married.  There was an acquaintance there to assist mom.  Other than that she really didn’t know anyone – except for my dad – who was newly attending the temple himself.  It would be years before they returned.

          Patrick went through the temple a year and a half before I did.  Mom thought I would be nervous – but I wasn’t.  I didn’t know what I was expecting, but I remember that I didn’t find it there.  I think I was expecting it to be more special than it was.  But there was nothing there that doesn’t already exist in the scriptures.  I don’t know if disappointing is the correct term, but I didn’t feel the empowering Spirit or experience the sensational wonder that so many others have claimed and continue to feel. 

          I suppose there are a few times that I have felt uplifted and at peace.  But more often than not it’s just a routine experience or an actual hurtful event for me.  I think the last two times I actually felt put off and I guess that’s why I don’t miss it.

          I actually have quite a few memories about the temple – such as when both Corey and Kayla had gone through for the first time, or the many marriage ceremonies (including my own) that I’ve attended.  But out of respect to the Church and those who attend the temple, I will end my post here.  For even though I personally have not felt the awesomeness that many others have had (and will continue to have) there still is a definite sacredness that shouldn’t be tarnished upon the Internet.  And it’s not something that everybody is going to “get” anyway no matter how I try to explain it – which actually may cause deeper regrets on my end.

          I’m grateful to the enthusiasm that others have shared and for their desire to attend as often as possible.  It’s just not there for me.  Never has been.  Even when I was trying to attend regularly.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Looking for Letters in the Mail: Introducing My Child to a Lost Art

          I don’t know that pen palling is really a lost art.  It just seems with the internet and facebook and email and such – the written letters seem to be a thing of the past.
          Earlier I created this post.  Jenna and her cousin Melody had promised to write one another every day.  And for an entire week Jenna really did – though I did not mail on a daily basis.  I would accumulate and then mail.

          I ended up sending two or three pieces of mail.  Jenna was really disappointed that Melody hadn’t written back.  I actually believe that Melody did write – perhaps every day in the beginning – but I don’t believe it was a priority for either mom or dad to address the envelope and put a stamp on it.  Thus they never got mailed.

          For a while I would leave letters in the box for Jenna.  They had all been signed, “Your Secret Friend”. She had actually given Melody the credit and has written back to her.  Still nothing from Melody though.

          And so I went on a pen pal search.  I Googled and brought up some sites – some wanted money – though not a lot.  I’m cheap and still looked for another alternate.  And I found a blog site that gave the suggestion of finding friends through friends.

          I have several friends on facebook who live out of state – there are even a couple that live out of the country – but until Jenna is willing to build up her vocabulary and actually write more than two sentences, I am not willing to pay over a dollar per ½ ounce sent.  So we are remaining in the states for the time being.

          As of now she is up to seven pen pals.  Six have written back.  Two are actually facebook friends who are many years older than Jenna (one actually closer to my age) and a distant cousin and none she’s ever met.

          But it is truly a joy to watch her excitement as she retrieves any mail that has her name on it.  Two Halloween cards.  And lots of treasures – the latest with a bonus letter – because even though the initial letter was sent to Paul, his younger sister saw Jenna’s picture and decided that she was beautiful and would like to write to her herself. 

          Interestingly enough, Paul and Jenna each attend a school with the very same name. They both like music, singing, acting and arts.  He writes how his three sisters drive him crazy and she wrote back that her three brothers drive her bananas – which is actually not true.

          Biff is the only one who lives with us.  True, he does get on her nerves at times, but that is because he works graveyards and thus likes to sleep during the day – which often is a challenge as Jenna is usually so loud and dramatic.

          Randy (the most mature of my three boys) drops by occasionally to use the computer.  He is very gentle with her and speaks kindly to her and often challenges her intellect.  (Not to say that Biff isn’t kind – but he’s definitely not as gentle.  Pokes and teases her – and she is mostly never in the mood)

We rarely see Tony as he is in another state. Jenna adores him.  I don’t think he has ever driven her bonkers – but then again . . . I can remember them arguing in the backseat of the car as though they were two five year olds – what is really sad as that they are sixteen years apart.

          Jenna was off school yesterday and again today.  We will send letters to at least four friends this weekend.  And if we get another letter, we will just add to the friendship list.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Don’t Yell at Aunt Gertrude

         Somebody had suggested that someone take a mom for a drive to look at the fall.  Knowing my own vehicle wasn’t going to make it up the canyon (it actually was too sluggish to get near the base) I chose an alternate, perhaps a more scenic route and asked if she would like to visit my 91 year old great-aunt. 
          Aunt Trudy has ALWAYS been active.  Over the years she has become hard of hearing, but she is still sharp as ever with brand new driver’s license in hand.  She was so excited to see my mom and me (as it has been a while) and we visited just briefly.

          “Well, it was so good to see you,” my mom kept on saying – as though we’d be leaving fairly soon.  What was her problem?

          Aunt Trudy would ask a question which mom would answer – but in her quiet voice and then I would loudly repeat it for Aunt Trudy.  Mom excused herself again.  “Well, I need to get back home.”

          “What do you need to get home for?” I asked.

          “I just need to go home!” she yelled.

          “I guess our visit is over,” I said to Aunt Trudy, while trying my hardest to use an apologetic tone and expression.

          It hadn’t dawned on me until almost three hours later that my voice raising or yelling was the cause of what was bothering mom.  Corey confirmed that when he said she didn’t like loud noises.  That would explain the tension between her and Jenna – though all of us have complained that Jenna’s volume really can get too loud.  Our level of tolerance seems to be more civil than my mom’s. She gets frailer with each passing day.

          Daddy was frail before he left this earth.  But he still had his mind.  Mom’s physical condition is okay, but her mind is not.  That’s a lot harder, I think.  On us anyway.  I think it’s hard on her – but not the same way that physical pain is. Soon she’ll forget that there was any emotional pain.  She’ll resort back to a place where we just won’t be able to find her.  Often she already thinks that I grew up with her in San Francisco and is always surprised when she asks me and I tell her that I have never lived in San Francisco, only visited.
          I need to visit Aunt Trudy again – but without mom or with mom on one side of the room and me on the other.  I think I ought to invite Kayla and her two to come with me.  I don’t know that Aunt Trudy has ever seen Garrett.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

Another example that illustrates the title of my blog

what lies beneath could bear an element of surprise

Beneath the Wraps

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We Love Andrew Clements

Fortunately for me (at least in this point in time), Jenna likes to experiment with things that she’s watched or read. The latest comes from a book “No Talking" by Andrew Clements.  A boy, interested in Ghandi, decides to experiment with no talking.  His experiment eventually turns into a contest between the fifth grade girls and boys – which group can go the longest without talking for two whole days?

This sounded quite probable to Jenna – who not only talks quite a bit but does it rather LOUDLY despite everyone’s efforts to get her to tone it down.  I have told her countless times that it really is possible to be excited without being loud.  I don’t necessarily want her to stop talking, but it would be nice to have volume control.

So (as we are reading this book) I look at her and say, “I bet you wouldn’t even make it for twelve hours without talking.”  She has taken me up on my offer.  Her first attempt was on Labor Day.  She did 3 and a half hours without saying more than 20 words. Her attempt the following Saturday was even more pathetic.

          I introduced Jenna to Andrew Clements just this year.  I like his stories for the most part.  I read one called “Extra Credit” about letter correspondence between a sixth grade girl from the United States and a fifth grade boy (via his younger sister) from Afghanistan.  Of course with that, Jenna wants the opportunity to have a foreign pen pal.  Now there’s a dying art – correspondence through the post office and not just email or facebook.

          We checked out some books on CD for her to listen to while she’s supposed to be sleeping.  So far she likes Andrew Clements books the best.

          Last night we went over the sign language alphabet. This morning she has decided to experiment with “No Talking” once again.  Just in case she should actually make it into the school without having said a word (though I did say that Spanish is permitted) I sent a warning to each of her teachers should they call on her.  I think it will be quite awesome if she actually does make it for more than four hours.  (Though our initial bet was twelve)

Monday, October 8, 2012

“Go Ahead . . . I’m Napkin Man”

My brother Corey has many talents.  One he started early on was with drawing comics.  He would entertain himself for hours on end drawing his comics and then reading them. 

          One year he received a giant drawing pad and a green ballpoint pen for Christmas.  He had filled the pad in less than two days.  By day three, the pen was out of ink. 

          One of his comic series I think was similar to “Spy Vs. Spy” - which eventually turned into a game between him and my brother Patrick, though it did not last long.

          Patrick read one of Corey’s comic strips and imitated his style as he added to it and killed off the characters in different ways and Corey would always resurrect them.  Some of the deaths were challenging to overcome, but I think it was fun for both of them for a while.

          The funniest comic that I remember happened after my dad had had a series of strokes.  I don’t even know where we were – perhaps on our way to the airport to see Corey off or maybe when we had stopped off for lunch on our way to the MTC.

          I don’t know what made Corey feel the need to draw during that time, but he had drawn a caped superhero on a napkin with the caption: “Go ahead.  Blow your nose in me.  I can handle it.  I’m napkin man” and then gave his drawing to my dad who obviously needed a napkin.

          I don’t remember if my dad laughed about it or not.  I think so.  I laughed.  I thought it was funny.  I still smile when I think about this unique memory.