Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Sign Came Down

            Near my daughter’s school is an assisted living facility – at least that’s how it is advertized.  I think it is more of a retirement home or independent living.  No memory care is provided (but there are many facilities that don’t have the memory care included). To me it appears that the residences are free to come and go.  I don’t know that for a fact.  It just appears that way.

            Two months before the family assigned me the task of looking into care facilities I looked into the one close to Vantanna.  The man who showed me around was very nice and gave me a binder of all I had seen and the cost.  He encouraged me to look into other facilities but guaranteed that all would be more expensive.  And he was right.

            I remember giving Corey the information.  He said he thought it was all too soon to worry about that.  I didn’t think it was.  But as there was no memory care I didn’t think it would work for my mom.  When Corey finally did get around to realizing that one day we would have to find a place for mom, he checked out the facility and walked away even less impressed than I was.  We both agreed that escaping from the facility would have been no challenge to our mom.

            Because it was only four months before we were forced into finding something where mom couldn’t escape from, I still get a bit nostalgic whenever we pass by the first facility near Jenna’s school.

            This morning she dismissed me before we got to the school.  I walked back to the bus stop near the assisted living.  As I approached I could see a couple of guys standing near the pillar with the facility’s name on it.  One was dressed like a grim reaper.  “How cruel,” I thought.  But as it turns out it was not for the residence but for the sign and pillar itself.  For it was being demolished.


            It makes me wonder if the facility has changed ownership and will receive a new name or if it will still be used as a retirement home or  if the families of the residence will have to find a new place to live and start paying more money.  I wasn’t the only one who was curious about it.  The bus driver who stopped for me had his head turned in wonderment as he watched the caterpillar at work.  It was the longest he ever stayed at that stop.

The Final Day of Halloween

When I was Jenna’s age, I don’t recall Halloween being dragged out the way it is now.  At school we dressed up in costume and then there was trick-or-treating.  One day.  One night.  Not all week and all month. 

Jenna dressed up in costume when she attended preschool but not with attending elementary. I don’t know of any schools who continue with that tradition.  Jenna’s school doesn’t.

Before we moved to West Valley we spent a week of Halloween going to different events each day.  Jenna had dressed as a fairy – from full outfit to just wings.

It started out with Sunny helping Jenna to create a wand – which we would use as a prop for her costume. There was the after school carnival that the high schoolers had put on for the children in elementary school, our own personal make-up party, a fall festival, and finally the trunk or treat.  We used to do an annual Halloween party in that particular ward, but I don’t recall a Halloween party taking place after the events I had written in this post.

This year Halloween has been stretched out for all of us as Roland had taken us to different events. Unfortunately my camera broke I wasn’t able to take pictures.

Friday was the school carnival.  I think I have only been to one other carnival since Jenna started at Vantanna.  The last time I’d gone, I was in the library all night with my brother, Corey. I had recruited him to read stories.  As always, he did a great job.

It’s so much different actually going around with your child than to be in a volunteering position all night.  I don’t recall Jenna having dressed up the last time.  But the children were encouraged to dress up as they would not have the opportunity as school.  Even some of the adults came in costume. 

Jenna started out the night by having her nails painted.  She “fished” for some prizes.  We watched a magic show.  It was fun to watch her dance before the costume contest started. The school was crowded.  I had a lot more elbow room when Corey and I volunteered in the library.

Saturday was our ward Halloween party.  Roland and I had dressed as Chefs.  I kept my costume on for the trunk-or-treat and put it on after dinner.  Too hot to wear while I ate and wrote down names of children having their picture taken in their costumes.  Roland emceed the event.

These two pictures were taken in the parking lot by the Relief Society President.  Lot of comments on our trunk.  Roland’s idea.  The costume, the theme – all Roland.  Jenna thought she would transform into the Pillsbury dough boy to keep with the theme, but the only white clothes we had were too big.  Roland padded her down with pillows before he put on what he thought might work.  It was like draping a sheet over Frankenstein’s monster.  She ended up going as Merida and NOT the Pillsbury dough boy.  But it’s not like the three of us were seen together throughout the night anyway.

We’d gone to another fall carnival with even less activity.  But Jenna had a super time, popping a balloon and performing an exercise, hitting the tether ghost and going through the unscary spook alley.
She and Roland both got eye tattoos on their hands.  She held her hand up to his and said, “Let’s have a staring contest”.  Now that would have been worth having a camera for.

With each passing event, Merida lost more strands of her hair, and there is a definite bald spot in back.  But it is red and most people haven’t noticed. Tonight she will go trick-or-treating as Merida.  Tomorrow she will let me know what she plans to be for next year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

When the Networks promoted Values

Michael Cole portrait, nice close-up, 8 x 10 glossy

When I was younger I had a crush on Michael Cole who portrayed the character Pete Cochran on the Mod Squad.  I was probably more in love with the idea of Pete than I was infatuated with Michael.

Recently I watched an episode of the old TV Series and felt admiration all over again. Pete Cochran is a gentleman.  He opens doors for women.  He shows compassion. 

This particular episode was shot in its final season around Christmas time.  An acquaintance of Pete asked him if he could watch his daughter for an hour.  The acquaintance said there was some business he needed to take care of but that he’d be right back.  Pete willingly took his daughter and kept on eye on her for several hours actually.

Pete, estranged from his own parents, encouraged the little girl to pray.  She said that she didn’t believe in God and Pete’s answer introduced her to the world of hope.  I admired him for his carefully selected words.  And I admired the humility involved in his relationship with the girl and how he and Julie and Linc all care for one another.

The girl talks Pete into purchasing a tree, and while at the tree lot she discovers the nativity and walks toward it and looks upon it with wonder.  I enjoyed watching the show – not just for the memories of this awesome Pete Cochran – but also for the values that the networks had once incorporated into their television programming and for the messages on hope, prayer and the true meaning of Christmas.  Seems that so much of that has been lost in over the years – especially in what we’ve settled on in TV entertainment. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall: Beginning of the end

I saw the leaves scurry quickly
across the street when pushed
by the angry wind which has
been howling the last few days. 

It appears that autumn is
nearing its end this year.
But we have been blessed with
warmth and colors and
really awesome weather for the most part.


Some trees remain in their
brilliant state of gorgeous color
while others have been stripped naked -
skeletons ready for
the harshness of winter.


I hope it's not a harsh winter like
last year.  It was cold.
Always so cold.
Miserably cold.


And summer was unbearably hot.
But autumn was awesome.
autumn is awesome.
Let us keep that awesome feel.


Mother Nature please
don't strip the trees.
Let them radiate
throughout the year -
without the wind,
without the snow,
without the heat,
without the cold.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Design by Jenna

            My daughter LOVES arts and crafts.  In school she made a paper mask of a female skull.  She is quite proud of it and so wanted me to have my own skull, which she tried to make identical to her own.

            She decided that when we boarded the bus this morning, we would hold up our masks over our faces.  She made up lyrics on the way to the bus stop and sung them to the tune “Carol of the Bells”

            She made me learn her song before the bus came so that we could sing the song before we held up our masks.  I learned the song but told her that we would not be able to sing its entirety before boarding the bus.  And so she sung only the last line as we held up our masks.  Our bus driver laughed.

            Twin Skeletons, Twin Skeletons
            Found here and there
            Twin Skeletons, Twin Skeletons
            Both have yellow hair

            Twin Skeletons, Twin Skeletons
            Both wear a flower
            Twin Skeletons, Twin Skeletons
            Together we have power

            Twin Skeletons, Twin Skeletons
            Each wearing braces
            Twin Skeletons, Twin Skeletons
            We have skulls for faces

Okay, maybe it’s not exact, and the tune did change a bit as she sang.  But you get the jest.

            I love my daughter’s enthusiasm.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Think Roland Should be Driving for UTA

            Jenna and I got on the more crowded bus this morning but I took the less crowded one back to the house.  I was actually the only passenger for the first three lights.  And I was thinking that UTA really missed out for not hiring Roland as one of their drivers.

         He may have only applied that one time.  I don’t know if it even resulted with an interview or not.  Roland is a great driver.  I doubt he would be intimidated by the size of the bus.  He is a master behind the wheel in all kinds of weather.  He has exceptional people skills.  And I believe he enjoys driving.

         Not me.  I remember taking the bus one time – cold wet snowy day.  I got talking to the driver about my job and searching for another.  He said that UTA was hiring drivers.  I reminded him that I was taking the bus so that I didn’t have to drive.  Besides driving a station wagon was actually the biggest vehicle I wanted to go.  The bus is what?  Five times the size – maybe ten.  My driving skills  and a monster vehicle?  No thank you. 

         My family was friends with a UTA employee.  He had a charming personality and most of his passengers were comfortable with his over friendliness.  He was in a high senior position when UTA brought in TRAX and so had the option of driving the train instead of the bus.  I remember him telling me that driving the train freaked him out and he wanted nothing to do with it.

         He has since retired and moved away.  I don’t know where he is living at present.  I had heard from some of his family members that he has dementia.  I wonder if they had to put him in an assisted living program like we did with mom.  I wonder what stage he is in.

         I have posted some opinions on public transportation before.  But not with Roland in mind.  I know he would do well driving busses.  But he’s now sixty.  I don’t think UTA would hire him.  Their loss.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sunshine and Rain

     Jenna and I got off the bus the other day.  It was raining – not a pouring rain, but the sky had definitely produced more than just a drizzle.  We needed our umbrellas (which we just happened to have).  The weird thing was that I also needed sunglasses.

     It seemed to be raining north of 3300, but once we turned the corner and continued on our way to the south side, we no longer needed our umbrellas.  We were in the house perhaps only ten minutes or so when we could hear a heavy hail beating all around us.  I looked out the window to see the sun shining still.  Weird.

     Yesterday was beautiful – though we started the morning wearing light jackets.  Janna and I took the train to Midvale and walked to the post office and made a stamp purchase and walked over to the library.  On our return I mentioned to Jenna that Ellen and Nate lived close to where we were.  She crossed the street to look at their street name while I tried getting a hold of one of them on the phone.  I didn’t think they’d be home.

     As it turns out, they went hiking with the family and too enjoyed the awesome weather.  The air was crisp but not cold.  I had packed my umbrella just in case.

     Jenna loves standing on the train and bus as they are moving.  She also likes to flirt with the regular bus drivers.  When we came home (with train transfer to the bus) Jenna noticed the afternoon bus driver was/is the same who drives us near our house.

     Last night the sky appeared to be giving us fog.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blanching Peppers

When Roland and I were on welfare, and we would get food from the bishop’s storehouse, I would bring home several bell peppers as Roland likes to cook with them and Jenna loves to eat them raw. But there were times when I sensed that the peppers might spoil before they were used. 

Our Relief Society president (at that time) was among the best (if not the best) cooks in the ward.  I remember asking her if we could freeze peppers.  She said I needed to cut them into strip and  blanch them first.  There must have been a puzzled look on my face as she continued with a definition of blanching.

I am to place the pieces in boiled water for three minutes and then lay them out singly on top of a paper towel (she lines them onto a cookie sheet) before packing them up for the freezer.


So a couple of nights ago, I noticed several small peppers (some honestly so small they may have passed for jalapenos or chilis)  and so I blanched them according to my understanding (the way I had done it before) and ended up with three sandwich bags full which I put into a quart sized freezer bag.

The next morning I noticed another batch of peppers on the machine – as though I hadn’t done anything.  There were probley about the same amount and sizes.  I started boiling water and cutting the peppers.  Jenna asked if she could assist.  Of course.

Jenna started slicing the peppers in round circles.  I explained to her that dad had taught me to cut them the long way.  But she’s got selective hearing and listening – like Tinkerbell does (see the end of this post for further clarification) 

Would you believe that I came home (from picking up Jenna) to find even more peppers?  Are you kidding me?  Jenna asks if she can slice them up.  I remind her to do it the long way.  For the most part the cuts have been made into circles.  I know Roland is going to ask me about it.  Oh, well

We still have several green tomatoes.  I had picked many and placed them in a bag.  Only a few have turned.  The majority remains green.  And we still have several green tomatoes on the vine. It's too bad I don't have all the ingredients I need to make a fine salsa.  I once tasted a salsa made from green tomatoes.  It was delicious! Perhaps one of the best salsas I've ever tasted.

Summer’s over. There’s been a chill in the air. It’s my favorite season!

Another Send Off - Returning Home

Before Jenna turned five she was introduced to Isaac – a cousin to Paula – who, at the time, was Biff’s platonic girlfriend. 
Roland asked Isaac how old he would be (or what age he’d just turned – I forget what time of the year it was) We both figured at least nine.  Both of us were quite floored when he answered seven..  He was too tall to be only seven. He was actually quite tall for nine.   Surely Jenna and Isaac were more than just two years apart.

     Isaac’s mom was involved with an Easter tradition.  Every year right after Church, the children would look for the plastic eggs that the adults had hid around the yard – her father’s yard to be exact.  Paula had outgrown the tradition and had asked Biff to bring Jenna so that Isaac and Paula’s brother weren’t hunting for eggs by themselves.  So from 2009 to 2012 Jenna has always done Easter with Isaac and his family.  


     Each year the hunt happened at Grandpa’s house – until last year.  Ruth and Nim had moved into a new house – she felt that her yard was ready.  Biff and Paula hadn’t spent much time together, but he was still friends with Isaac’s mom, Ruth.  She had asked him if he would assist with Easter set up.  He took Jenna with him and they spent the night.

Paula had told me that she came from a dysfunctional family.  I didn’t realize how dysfunctional until earlier this year. It’s true that Ruth had been excited to have Easter at her house – but it was not the same as it had been at grandpas.  I think Grandpa himself had been invited, but nobody else in the family had.  There had been a falling out, continuous squabbles – quite strained relationships among Ruth and her siblings.  It sounded horrible.  I feel quite grateful that I couldn’t (nor can) relate.

When Jenna was in first grade, Grandpa’s home was a sanctuary – I told her that if I was ever late picking her up, she was to wait for me at Paula and Isaac’s grandpa’s house. That was before the adult brother moved in and basically pushed his parents into the back room – taking away almost every inch of space from the house to store his worthless belongings and himself.  This year I told her NOT to go to Grandpas.  Even Ruth and Isaac would rather not be there.  I now understand why it takes him so long to cross the field.

Ruth, from what I understand, has always been insecure about her looks.  She has always felt overweight and unhealthy.  Others had made fun of her size and said unkind things that did hurt her emotionally.  But she was very strong willed and never unkind to anyone.  She was a friend to everyone – including those that had put her down. I thought she was beautiful both inside and out.

She did not have the Easter hunt this year.  Her health has been poor.  She was scheduled to have her hernia removed back in May.  But there was the issue with her weight.  She needed to lose several pounds and reschedule.  I don’t know how many times the surgery was postponed.  I had talked with her over the phone only a few times during the summer.  I had been to her house only one time.

Ruth’s home was always in chaos.  She just didn’t seem to have the strength to pick up after her two boys.  She considered them more than a blessing.  She said that Nim and the boys completed her life.   But somehow the boys didn’t appear to give her any help.  I don’t know why.  Isaac is such a sweet and thoughtful boy.  He has been a tremendous friend to Jenna. 

His little brother has a crush on Jenna.  He also looks older than he is – a little replica (well, smaller version – both boys are huge) of Isaac.  He just started kindergarten this year and Isaac will be starting junior high (or middle school) next year.

Ruth’s last surgery was scheduled for Friday, October 11.  She so wanted to lose the weight and get healthy not just for herself but for her boys. She died on the operating table.  I seem to be shedding more tears than with my own mom’s death.  I just feel so bad for Isaac and Marvin.  Marvin was so attached to his mother.  I don’t know if he will fully understand that mommy isn’t coming back or why.  He cannot depend on her anymore the way he used to.

Biff and I attended her funeral this afternoon.   We had gone early to attend the viewing.  I saw Ruth’s brother in the hall.  Her mom was near the casket – but that was all the family I saw.  No grandpa (her father) no Isaac, no Marvin, no Nim.  Ruth was in her casket smiling.  It was small, but still, it appeared as a smile. I don't think I've ever seen a smiling corpse before.

I visited with the principal of the school that both Isaac and Jenna attend.  She was the only person (besides Ruth) that I recognized. (How convenient it was for both of us that the funeral was just next door to the school.)  School let out before the funeral was over. 

You would think a family like that would have seen death before – but the funeral itself seemed to be a very unfamiliar situation for most of the family – at least from my point of view. I would imagine both Ruth and her dad have attended funerals before. 

Somebody escorted the two boys into the chapel.   I went to where they were seated and gave Isaac a hug and asked if he was okay.  He was holding a stack of homemade cards that I'm guessing had been created by his classmates. I started crying before I returned to my seat. I just couldn’t seem to pull myself together.

Nim joined his boys shortly after I sat down.  I’d never met him before and so introduced myself.  He looked broken.  They sat in the chapel with some other of his family members.  I don’t know if they were ever in the same room with the casket

Nim and the boys missed out on the family prayer as it was in the RS room and they were in the chapel.  Perhaps it was easier for them.  I don’t know. When the congregation was told to stand while the family filed in, Nim and his family stood along with the congregation and thus most all of the family members who filed in remained standing also. 

I think it is the first LDS funeral I’ve been to where I have seen the family stand and not take their seats once they had filed in. I know I've taken my seat as a family member while the congregation stood for us.

The services were nice.  Ruth is very well loved.  I enjoyed learning more about the great woman that she was.  I hope Isaac will remember the love and that he will take the advice of the speakers.  She will definitely be missed.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Passion for Parables

Hank and Stewart can look at the same tree and see it in two different ways.  Stewart will see a tree.  You can climb it.  You can sit under its shade when there are leaves.  Hank will visualize what that tree can become – what can be built with it.

Our theme this month is on “becoming more Christ like”.  My first lesson was on parables, why Jesus taught in parables, and perhaps the class could share some of their favorites and why.

Hank let out a sigh.  “I HATE parables!”  he said.  “I just don’t understand them.”

Stewart said he likes them.  Not only are they entertaining, but you can also learn something.

Why did Jesus teach in parables?  The Pharisees had condemned him from teaching.  Threatening him with prisonment, I believe.

But this is the answer he gave to his disciples: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven . . .” – Matt 13:11                   

Those that were in tune to the Spirit found a message in these stories – while those that were hard-hearted (such as the Pharisees) saw him as nothing more than a story teller.  At least he wasn’t trying to profess religion, right.

It wasn’t until I was giving this lesson that it occurred to me that those being taught received the message that they needed to hear – and it may not have been the same message as others may have heard.  They took home the message that was needed in their lives at that given time.

Take “The Prodigal Son” for instance.  There may be one in the audience who finds the story as one of repentance and may see the father in the story as Our Father in Heaven who will always be excited to see us – no matter what mistakes we have made.

Another may see this as a story of forgiveness – that we love our children unconditionally and accept their willingness to return to us.

I had always looked at this story from his brother’s point of view:  “Are you kidding me?  I have worked my fingers to the bone while my brother is out splurging his inheritance and now you are ready to give him a fancy feast as though he has done nothing wrong?  When was the last time you honored me at a party?” 

For me, this has been a story about pride.  I need to change my heart and be as overjoyed as the Father that my brother or my sister is returning.  I should think of others and not dwell on how I was treated unfairly.  Some people compare this scripture to the parable of the lost talent or the parable of the lost sheep.  I compare it to the parable of the laborers in the vineyard who have sweat and labored all day only to have the last shift waltz in at the last hour to get the same exact wages as I do.  It wasn’t until I had this lesson that I looked at the parable in a new light.

Hank made many great comments as he participated in class.  One of them was that he believes that sometimes we tarry, sometimes we labor – which we do.  He also said that one of his most favorite things about church was/is the diversity.  He didn’t actually use the word diversity, but he said he enjoyed listening to others make comments and realize that there are different ways of looking at the same tree.

Of course the tree is just a metaphor.  I didn’t actually use the word “tree” anywhere in my lesson.  I focused on parables from Matthew 25 and the parable of “the Good Samaritan.”  I also pointed out that those who are in tune may find messages in other works of literature such as Les Miserable in which M. Russell Ballard uses the account of Jean Vel Jean  found in this post or Dieter F. Uchtdorfs mention of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch found in this post or my own mention of comparing the sneetches to the parable of the sheep and the goats or this post comparing Brave's "will-o-the-wisp" to Liahona.

Actually there is a lot we can find in what we watch. Allow me to use “Tinkerbell” as an example.  It doesn’t seem to matter which version – overall she seems to have a good heart, but ends up allowing pride to overshadow obedience to command. In the story of "Peter Pan" Tinkerbell jumps to conclusions and stops listening to what Pan or even Wendy is trying to tell her.  

In the movie "Tinkerbell" she isn't happy with her assigned role as a tinker and (despite the advise or command of the head fairy) uses her free agency to explore the roles of each of the other fairies hoping to find a more exciting job than tinker.  She ends up making things worse not only for herself but for all the fairies and all those that depend on the talents of the fairies.

And the most recent (at least that I know of) is abc's "Once Upon a Time" in which she meets Regina - the wicked and miserable queen.  Tinkerbell believes that she can repair damage that was done and help Regina regain hope and lose the anger.  The Blue Fairy tells Tinkerbell that Regina is too far gone and cannot be saved, but Tinkerbell insists she can.  She disobeys the Blue Fairy and puts her own self at risk - which results in hardening her heart and entering the same darkness as Regina.

But Tinkerbell is always given the opportunity to repent.  She may make the same mistakes again and again but eventually she is forgiven.  Our Father's love will always forgive.  We do make mistakes.  We need to in order to grow.  It's part of the plan.  It's what makes us stronger - if we have the desire to change.

My next lesson will be from this talk.   If we humble ourselves to be teachable, we will understand the message we need to understand at the time we need to understand it. The parable we think we know so well will all the sudden have new meaning.  God does speak to us through scriptures, but He also works through other parts of the media if we will allow ourselves to be humble so that we may see.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Please Check the Collar

After we got Highness (our dog) we went and got him tagged and I went online to change the information on the chip (though I don’t think it’s taken) and somehow lost the tag within the first week or two.  I sent off the renewal fees this morning – but I’ve been informed that he is to wear his original tag.  He had four of them hanging on him this morning.  And now there are two – the newest being the one given for his rabid shots.

When our first dog, Houdini, escaped, animal control picked him up all too often – though we did occasionally receive calls from others who had found him – those that took the time to find the information attached to his collar. We loved Houdini.  But we just couldn’t afford to bail him out of jail.  He was a good dog, but apparently some saw him as a threat.  


Highness is a good dog overall.  I’m surprised he hasn’t spent time in jail.  There was only one time when animal control was called – but I called him in not realizing the animal control was about to step in. Still, I wish I could attach the following note (for those times that he does escape and someone will take the time to read it:

Dear Sir or Madam::

            My name is Highness Romero. I live in West Valley.  I’m basically a good dog, but if you are reading this, I’ve obviously escaped.  But do not worry.  I will not harm you or your animals.  If you heard me yowling or barking, it’s because I am excited.  I would like to sniff your cat or dog.  Once I’ve done that, I will be on my way.

            You can call my owners if you would like to (provide number) but I don’t have dementia and I can find my way home.  I’m sorry if my yowling scares you.  I don’t mean to be frightening.  I don’t bite.  Even when I am taunted and your animal is biting me, I don’t bite back.  I am a good dog.  I’m also adventurous.  Please don’t call animal control on me.  My owners can’t afford it.  It’s really not their fault that I’ve escaped.  For the most part, they don’t even know I’m gone.

            Thank you for taking the time to read about me.  Thank you for being my friend.

                                                Love, Highness

Okay, maybe it’s a bit cheesy.  I guess the name and phone number I’ve written on the collar will have to do.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lions of Little Rock

I love Love LOVE this book.  I think it’s the best piece of historical fiction that I have read EVER . . .

Kristin Levine did a lot of research before writing this book found in the juvenile fiction.  Originally she thought she would do a story on the Little Rock Nine but as she was doing her research she learned about the WEC (Women’s Emergency Committee) and the STOP (Stop this Outrageous Purge) and the battle of Segregation/Integration and the closing of schools that followed the Little Rock Nine.

The author’s mother had left Little Rock in 1954 – three years before the nine were admitted to Central High.  She hadn’t had a first hand experience in the events explained in the story.

The story is told through the eyes of Marlee, a twelve – thirteen year old white girl who makes friends with Elizabeth – the new girl who is light enough to pass for white, but really she is what was then referred to as colored or Negro.  Today we say African American or black . . .

The junior highs in this story are opened, but all the high schools are closed.  Marlee attends junior high, but her sister attends high school. Judy (the sister), has a hard time with it as she would like to associate with her friends and perhaps get educated as well. 

Marlee also has a brother, David, who is away at college.  She loves her brother and sister dearly and misses David as he is at college and then misses Judy as she is sent away to live with her grandmother so that she is able to attend high school in another city.

Marlee is a math genius.  She loves numbers.  She’s not great with words however.  She hardly ever speaks.  Many of her peers just assume she’s mute.

Elizabeth (Liz) is quite outgoing and assists Marlee in overcoming her shyness.  They work on a project together and practice their parts.  Marlee’s greatest incentive is a “Magic Squares” math book which Liz uses for a reward.

But when it’s discovered that Liz is not white, both girls are forbidden to have any further contact with one another – which upsets Marlee’s world even further.  We are then introduced to WEC and STOP and the racial prejudices and the fears and taking a stand and “mixing races”

The title of the book has symbolic meaning. And there are questions at the end of the book.  Thought provoking questions.  And references to non-fiction material of events that occurred in Little Rock in the late 50’s and early 60’s. 

We’ve come a long way.  Unfortunately not everybody has been on board with the whole racial issue.  The Klu Klux Klan has thinned out tremendously, but there are still some active members.  I’d like to send each member of each group a pedigree of every member – prove to them that no one of them is pure. 
The whole racial thing has bothered me my entire life.  And Jenna yells at the top of her lungs, “What difference does it make?”

It shouldn’t make a difference.  And it’s sad that so many believed that it did – or still believe.  We are all children of God.  I don’t get the trials that so many have put themselves through due to skin differences.  How stupid!

I’m so grateful for those who have made a difference, who have carved a path to make it a little bit easier for those who followed.  I hope the prejudice dies and having a different skin, or religion, or favoring gender or a tattooed covered body doesn’t threaten anyone.  We’re all different.  And still, we’re all the same.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ahead of Schedule

When I was younger there were two bus routes that I could catch on State Street near my mom's house.  The #7 to Highland or the #5 to Parley's way.  One of them went all the way to the zoo - but I don't know which one.

When I was working downtown, the route names or destinations had changed.  There were four busses that ran along State Street between 6400 and 100 South.  I could catch the 25 Midvale or the 22 West Sandy where I had caught the two mentioned in the first paragraph.  Or I could walk over to the mall to catch the 24 East Sandy or 12 Murray.  It wasn't that big of a deal to walk from 6400 to my mom's house.  And even though 25 and 22 were closer, I preferred the coming home on the 24 only because I didn't have to cross the street to go back home.

Thus far Jenna and I have been fortunate not to have to cross the street when we have ridden to school.  We even have the option of catching a bus near the school without having to cross the street. We do have to cross a busy street near our house however.  Don’t like that much.  And then there is the walking.

It’s too bad that we can’t take Highness with us.  I think he would enjoy the walks – but alas – no dogs allowed.  And there is no way that Highness would ever pass for a service dog.  What a hilarious thought.

So this morning we left the house earlier than on Tuesday (Roland was able to take her yesterday – and occasionally she may get a ride from Biff in the future – depending on how well he takes care of the car, or if it will pass inspection . . .)

I don’t know why three out of four of my kids find it necessary to be to the school 30 to 60 minutes before the first bell rings.  But Jenna really does get upset if she hasn’t been given over twenty minutes to play before line up.  When there are snow days and children are kept inside – guess who will go out to the playground if given a choice?

We stood between buses – and ended up taking the same one we had on Tuesday – so it did not get her to school any earlier.  But I am already at the bus for the return home when the first bell rings.

Right now the walk from the bus stop to the school is comfortable.  The air is not too hot. Not too cold.  Perhaps a little cool in the morning – but I would rather have the coolness (or the cold even) rather than scorching rays of the sun.  Jenna’s probably the opposite.  But for me it is perfect weather right now.

Anyway, the bus did come early.  Two stops later the bus doors opened while the driver and passengers waited.  Jenna asked why this bus wasn’t moving.  “It’s ahead of schedule” which is a rare thing – or at least it was before TRAX. 


 All bus routes have changed – due to construction – do to modernization and growth.  I think that they all go to TRAX at some point along their route.  But I don’t know.  Perhaps I’ll become more familiar with the bus system as I go, but for now I am very limited in my knowledge.

The stop where Jenna and I have been getting off and on near her school is in front of an assisted living facility – the first one I had looked into when my brothers were both in denial that mom would need to be moved so soon.  It was the least expensive of all those we had looked at.  But it did not have memory care.  Mom could have escaped from there quite easily.

I was told that the stop will be eliminated.  Right now the bus actually goes through SLCC   – but after December it will remain on Redwood and no longer through the campus.  Though I have seen students get off and on.  Perhaps it’s just not popular enough?  I don’t know.  

I was going to suggest we try another option when I pick her up this afternoon.  But as we will have to do it three months from now, I suppose there’s no hurry.  We’ll try the alternate soon enough.  In the snow. Hey, but at least we’re both getting much needed exercise. And it seems like more quality time than having her jabber on endlessly while I am trying to concentrate on the road.

Perhaps one day when I am gone, she will look back and remember this time.  And perhaps it will be more meaningful to her than it is right now.