Friday, February 26, 2016

SPRING Arrived Early

I realize that for each year that I've had this blog,  I have mentioned the crazy weather in Utah.  It's not just Utah.  It's my first February in Oregon, and so I really don't know any different.  Except I have asked and the response has always been "this is very unusual" about everything ever since our arrival.

          Jenna and I went for a walk last night (when the temperature had finally dropped from 76 degrees) and discovered blossoms and flowers and growth that we don't normally see for at least another month.  Thought I'd take pictures.

starting out

I love daffodils

Jenna has always liked these.  She would pick them when we lived in Kearns

I can't believe how quickly the trees have bloomed

Each morning the clouds hang low on the hills

This is often how it feels driving I5 from Myrtle Creek to Roseburg

actual pig that lives next door from this post


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kid's Corner

             Ester's birthday is coming up soon.  I thought we should get her a book.  She seemed to be into princesses the last time we had seen her,  and so I chose one with Disney princesses.  It's a step-into-reading treasury included with six stories, a two sided princess poster and 24 miniature princess stickers. I think she will like it.

             We were at Costco and Roland didn't seem in too much of a hurry and so I took my time looking through some other books that were on display.  I smiled as I read "Everybody Loves Bacon" written by Kelly Dipucchio and illustrated by Eric Wight. 

             Besides the wonderful illustration, I found it to be a clever story on remembering your friends and what might happen to someone who gets a swelled head.  I think Tony would have enjoyed the same humor that I found, but I don't know if Ester would have felt the same charge (she is turning four.  I actually don't know how she feels about bacon)

          There were two books by Eric Carle. Jenna has always LOVED anything Eric Carle.

             I felt the first one was too juvenile for Ester and guessed she will like the Disney Princess collection better.  Roland thought we should just send a gift card.  Granted, it would be more economical from our end.  But I don't like gift cards overall.  I think Ester will be more excited to receive a book in the mail than a gift card that she wouldn't understand.  

    I suppose it really would not be that outrageous for Tony and Rochelle (Ester's parents) as it seems like they are always out shopping.

    I really liked the  illustrations and photography of Pharrell Williams popularized song: "Happy"  Ester might like it, but Tony told me  that he was sick of hearing the song,  so I don't think he would be too excited to read it to her - though  I did  consider it.

             The next book I saw was called "Invisible Fred".  It looked interesting, but the illustrations became rather boring.  I couldn't see that it would hold anyone's attention for very long. 

            The last book that I picked up was called "Robo-Sauce" written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri.

         Once again it was a book that made me think of Jenna.  She's very into robots and imagination and creating.  That triggered some other memories of books that Jenna and I used to read together when we were still living in Kearns - some of which I have briefly mentioned in this post

            There are three or four stories which I would cry as I read.  One was called "The Robot and the Bluebird" by David Lucas.  A book about loneliness, love and sacrifice. 

            A bluebird, flying south for the winter, stops to rest with a robot who claims he has no heart.  He was left abandoned and is of no use to anybody.  He allows the bluebird to stay in the compartment which once housed his heart.  It is a beautiful story.

          Everything Max Lucado writes seems to be gold. Of course there are stories I like better than others.  The first Max Lucado I was introduced to was "You are Special". It is about a puppet who lives in the kingdom of toys (or at least that is how I perceive it; they are actually a made-up name called Wemmick's living in Wemmickville under their creator, Eli) where everyone is labeled. 

          Gold stars (I think it's gold stars; it's been a while since I've read it) are the best kind of labels.  Grey circles (or dots) are the worse.  The main character (whose name is Punchinello) seems to have more than his share of grey dots which he allows to affect his mood until he meets one who refuses to wear either dots or stars.  The message is simple.  The words were powerful enough to make the tears flow.  Even if I were to read it now, I am certain that the tears would come.

           On our return from Roseburg to Myrtle Creek, Jenna and I made comments about modern day fairytales, and how grateful we are that someone put a spin on things and made us stop and realize that it may have been Goldilocks who was at fault and the bears were the victims.  After all, she did break into their home, she stole their breakfast. She vandalized baby bear's chair.

            Hansel and Gretel were trespassing when they came upon the witches house.  Did they ever think to knock on her door and ask for help? They broke off pieces of the witches home and helped themselves.

            I have also seen an account where Cinderella was the one stuck on herself and the step sisters are the ones who were excluded and did have moments of displaying displeasure because of how they had been treated. 

            My favorite story from another's point of view was "Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter" by Diane Stanley.

            Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter tricks  the king into serving his subjects so that they will serve him in a respectful manner.  Her name is revealed at the end of the story.  So clever.

             There are dozens of versions of "The Monkeys and the Mangos"  I had actually never even heard of it until I checked out a book of stories retold.  I can't even remember who compiled it - though I think I do have it written down somewhere.  It's just a matter of finding which flash drive it may be on. 

            Jenna has often requested for me to tell this one, though it is very hard for me to get through - though I find a condensed version doesn't break out as many tears as the first version I read.  Here is just one version 

            I miss reading those stories to my small family members.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Pig Next Door

         Aside from being overly quiet, my dad seemed very unobservant.  A running joke was that my mom could shave her head bald and spraypaint her scalp gold and he wouldn’t notice.  He said he would.  And perhaps he did notice things but never let on that he noticed – therefore we assumed he just wasn’t observant.

         But now it is I who misses out.  I wish I was more observant than I am.  I think one of the greatest things about spending time with small children is that they observe everything.  They notice so many things that I have taken for granted.  I love it when I have the opportunity to explore the world through their eyes.

         Roland is very observant.  Hopefully Jenna will continue to take after him and both of them will point out the things that I continue to miss.  Jenna always pays attention to the pig next door and tells us when a change is made.


         The couple to the north of us have lived on the street over 40 years – though they started out in a different house at the other end of the street.  I think  they said they’ve lived in the house next door for 30 years.  From my understanding the pig had been left on the mantle and was left there for a few months before they brought it outside. 

         I don’t know what color the pig was before they went out of town, but they said when they returned the pig had been spray painted green and had a yellow O painted on the side.  There appear to be a many Oregon “Duck” fans.  The painted pig served as a reminder.

         The couple moved the pig away from the house and further down the driveway so that it could be seen from the street.  It changes colors and wears various hats according to the holiday (or whatever other occasion) I guess it became a challenge for neighbors to “up” the appearance of the pig. 

         I don’t know how many years  or how many others participated.  Since we’ve been here, I think the pig has been through seven make-overs – but I think the only participants are the couple next door – perhaps children who visit.

         The pig has been black, yellow, red, white and pink. It may have been orange around Halloween.  Jenna has always been able to report its latest fashion.  I personally don’t pay that much attention.  Nor do I pass it as often as she does.  I do remember a top hat, white bonnet, red bow tie, heart sunglasses, eyepatch, etc.  Sometimes the pig looked larger than it seems to at this present time. 

         It’s larger than a standard “piggy” bank.  I don’t even know what material the pig is made of.  It looks ceramic, but doesn’t appear to have been chipped – at least from my point of view.  I haven’t touched it nor have I participated in the “make-over” game.  Jenna has enjoyed watching its transformations.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Killer Whales: A New Perspective for Sea World

            I remember listening to a ranger who loved and respected bears and did not care for zoos.  As a child, I thought zoos were wonderful.  Seeing pictures of bears is not the same as seeing a real live bear.  Many don't have the means to travel and search for bears in their natural habitat - and even then - watching through binoculars is still not the same as being close - though having an animal remain behind bars seems cruel.

            A zoo can never provide the same amount of space for each animal as each animal is given in the wild.  The animals don't have to share inversion with humans as they do in the city - where their space is very limited.  Animals in captivity don't necessarily live longer than animals in the wild.  Perhaps the contrary.  There will always be two sets of answers.  That doesn't make them accurate.

            I have never been Seaworld in Florida.  I don't know if I'd ever gone to the one in California.  I'm thinking not.  I actually don't think I was ever given opportunity. My answer just last week may have been for going, but I know that if I was given the opportunity right now, I'd have to decline.  Roland and I have recently watched a documentary called Blackfish (trailer found here) and it's made me rethink a lot about animals who are in captivity and how the focus on "bringing in money" often has a higher cost than we can imagine.  In this case, to the killer whales trapped in a space too small for growth, a trainer named  Dawn Brancheauand marketing "cover-ups".  This documentary was a real eye opener.

            The emotions of animals are real.  Just because humans are not able to communicate with animals on the same level as we do with one another does not mean feelings don't exist.  Animals are capable of loving and grieving.  And just like us, they need room to grow.  It is wrong to take an animal out of the ocean and put it in a much smaller container - no matter how large the container, it will never be as large as the ocean.

            Animals are beautiful creatures.  Like us, they need a place to grow.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Scrambled Weekend

            Yesterday felt like a Saturday.  Jenna was off because of parent teacher conference – which evidently was by invitation only.  I hadn’t been contacted – which they say is a good thing – but they said I could make a last minute appointment if they had the room.

            So our appointment was for 7:50.  I dragged Roland to get a feel of what was needed for her math assignments and to assist with anything else.  He has worked a lot of parent-teacher conferences.  A LOT!  I remember many a years attempting to visit with the boys’ teachers all by myself.  Once it was 21 teachers for all three boys together.  I also had the challenge of maneuvering Jenna in her stroller when the boys were in high school.

            Parent-Teacher conferences are done differently in Myrtle Creek than in Salt Lake.  Appointments in Salt Lake were made for elementary school, but not junior high and high school.  At Coffenbury (the middle school where Jenna attends) appoinments are made to meet with all instructors at once – though I’ve actually never met with all seven of them at one time.  Yesterday there were only four, but our concerns were met.  We had left Jenna at home.

            Yesterday felt like a Saturday overall.  We had gone to  big city of Roseburg to do some shopping.  Jenna had some specific things that she wanted to get in order to make a science project (something she has been doing since kindergarten – even when there was no assignment) and we decided to get some groceries while we were in town. 

            Roland was off because he is working today.  Once a month he has to work a Saturday and is usually off the proceeding Friday – but we’ve made acceptions for other days before he went on his remote assignment.  Before we moved to Oregon.

            In Utah, he would work from 7 – 4.  He still does those hours – still on mountain time.  But as we're now on Pacific time,  he is really working from 6 – 3.  It is nice having him get off at three.  Except for Thursdays.  On Thursdays he works from 10 – 7.

            As Roland is at work at Jenna is home, and I’m forcing her to help me do laundry, it still feels like a weekday instead of a Saturday.  I don’t know where my mind will be focused on tomorrow.

            We won’t have our regular church meetings tomorrow.  There will be a live broadcast from Salt Lake to be viewed by the western region (or so is my understanding) and so we’ll be returning to the big city of Roseburg.  

            Monday’s a holiday.  Both Roland and Jenna are off.  I’m guessing we’ll end up in Roseburg again.  Roland has been wanting to go to the movies for the last two months.  We had actually made plans for a date for yesterday afternoon.  That was before we realized that Jenna would not be going to school.  We did have breakfast together yesterday morning.  But I know he still wants to go to the movie.  Perhaps we’ll make a trip out to Grants Pass or Medford.  We’ll have to see.

            Four day weekend for Jenna.  Seems like her four day weekends always fall on the Saturdays when Roland is scheduled to work.  Weird.  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

4:30 temperature is Perfect

This month started out with the pattern of sunshine, sunshine, overcast, rain, sunshine, sunshine, overcast, rain.  I thought it might continue, but the last few days have been rather warm. Well, compared to Februarys’ past.

It’s crazy that I would wish the air conditioners were up.  Never would I have ever considered turning on the A/C in February while living in Utah.  There is still snow on the ground and I generally don’t want take walks outside.  But I am fine being outdoors in Oregon. 

75 degrees really is not that hot.  But 69 is perfect.  I like being outdoors when it’s between 68 and 72.  Anything above 72 seems too warm to me.  And the inside temperature is always hotter than the outside.

Roland had turned the heat down in the bedroom.  He’s unable to turn his own heat down, however.  And he likes to cuddle.  Snuggling with his is like being smothered by a humongous hot water bottle.  I left the bed and went into the living room and opened the door that leads to the garage.  I fell asleep comfortably.

At the Roland’s request, I have started packing up boxes.  One of the boxes I packed contains shorts.  I’m finding the denim is too warm on my legs and may be returning to the garage to reclaim my packed shorts.  But then it will probably rain for sure.

I really do like the weather in Oregon.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Pioneer Trek - Then and Now

            BYU had sponsored a bunch of youth activities over the years.  I remember staying at the dorms one time when our stake had gone for an activity for four or five days.  We’d have workshops and activities to do each day.  I remember having had enjoyed myself. 

            I don’t recall the year that I was introduced to pioneer trek.  I was looking for some history online, but thus far all I’ve come across is this article that barely mentions BYU’s involvement in the 1970s.

            Our stake and at least one other would be making the trek together.  We were divided into groups.  There were three in my group that I knew from my stake.  Everybody else was from the other stake located in another county and thus I had never met them before.

            The two that led the group were referred to as “Ma” and “Pa” – in actuality both students at BYU who themselves may not have had any contact with one another except through trek.  I don’t know if there experience in being there was part of their grade or part of their major or what. 

            Each group was supposed to pick a name.  Our group was known as “the Kettles” although I think it was changed to “F-Troop” after the first or second day.  Someone in the group had mentioned that most of the “families” or groups had “cool names” and Kettles sounded so lame.  I don’t think I cared one way or the other.

            We weren’t supposed to bring anything modern with us – except for maybe our sleeping bags and footwear.  We were told we could take two pairs – one to walk/hike in and a pair to change into for when we made camp. I don’t even know if sunglasses were allowed.

 We were told that we could bring cameras so that we could record our memories.  Our outdoor experience was to be as authenticated as possible – which meant using leaves and not toilet paper when Mother Nature called.

            Now mind you, this was in the day before digital and disposable cameras.  Film had to be loaded into the camera.  My brother and I knew of youth who’s taken cameras loaded with toilet paper – although I can’t imagine it would have been enough.  Pioneers did not have that option. 

            Our group had killed a snake on the trail.  One of my “sisters” held the snake and squeezed out a mouse that hadn’t been in their long enough to be digested.  That night each group was told to make a simple stew.  We were the only group to add meat (the snake) to our stew. 

            I don’t recall how many handcarts we had in our company.  I know we started out as the second wagon.  We had started that way but ended up second to last as our one of our wheels kept falling off.  (I think it may have been an authentic handcart) The last handcart in the company had the sturdiest cart and were assigned to be the last cart in the company in order to make certain all participants were ahead and no one got left behind – otherwise we would have been left behind – or cartless – which would have slowed us down even more.  Often by the time we arrived to the designated campsite, everyone else had eaten or set up or played games or whatever, and we – along with the family with the assigned last cart – felt forgotten.  At least I did.

            When I write about it now, it sounds like I had a horrible experience – which I really didn’t.  My skin cleared up.  I learned to love my family members.  I probably gained a better appreciation for the pioneers.  There were positive things although I remember thinking I would probably not go again if given the opportunity.  I was actually never given another opportunity.

            My three boys were given an opportunity about ten years ago.  All three enjoyed the experience.  There was some rave.  Our middle son Tony asked if he could go with Jenna when it came her time to go.  I smile at the thought of his desire, but I had no clue where he’d be when/if her time would come.  Like I would have the authority to send him with her.  I never dreamed her opportunity would come after we moved to another state.

            From my understanding, the Roseburg stake offers this activity every four years.  She’s not happy that we are sending her.  Hopefully in four years she will WANT to go rather than be forced.

            Jenna is in primary but will be turning twelve in less than two months.  She will be continuing with her primary class but will go in with young women’s instead of singing time and primary closing exercises.

            This morning we took Jenna the big city of Roseburg for the first “Pioneer Trek” meeting.  She couldn’t understand why she was there.  Her photos showed confusion and less than thrilled to be there.  

            I think her biggest hang-up about going is having to wear a long dress – or just a dress for that matter.  Jenna HATES wearing dresses!  She does enjoy the stick pull however.  Glad something could make her smile.

            I’m happy to hear that the youth will be offered porta-pottys – though not conducive to authentic pioneering, does seem more hygienic than the “leaves-in-the-bush-thing” that I had the joy of dealing with

            There do seem to be more conveniences offered to youth now.  First aid stand-by (which was also available to us) and modern conveniences for times of emergency that weren’t offered to the youth when I went (such as the cell phone given to specific leaders who would use them in an emergency situation)

            Situations have changed.  “Ma” and “Pa” are now married couples from the stake – who still have to go through at least one year of training (or so it seems) and the invention of the women’s pull (which they may or may not do – but have done before) which was not a part of the pioneer trek I had gone on – or even church history for that matter.

            As I mentioned in this post the Mormon Battalion was recruited in 1846 when the company first came out in wagons.  Handcarts weren’t used until ten years later.  There was no women’s pull.  But all of the feedback I have read or heard has been positive.  I guess that’s why they keep it.  I just think the youth and leaders really ought to know that not all the reenactments really are not  “reenactments” but “what ifs”

            I’ll hopefully have a better post sometime in July.  And hopefully I’ll have more and better pictures.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Jumping the Gun

    “Jumping the Gun” is a phrase I’ve used before – and although I knew what it meant, I didn’t understand its origin – so why on earth would I use a phrase that I myself didn’t understand?

    I looked it up online and came across an explanation of foot racing (though I suppose it could find to any other kind as well) in which a gun was fired to start the race.  The runner who was “jumping the gun” was the runner who took off (or attempted to) before the gun was fired.  Thus “jumping the gun” is acting before the proper time.

    We have been house hunting since before Christmas.  Our initial offer made on a house (here in Oregon) was made on December 1.  But we couldn’t get the kind of loan that we had planned for, and so we had to withdraw. 

    Meanwhile, we still owned a house in Utah but have signed that over to our youngest son.  He and his wife have signed the papers.  We have signed the papers.  We’re just waiting for it to record.  It was supposed to record January 29.  

    Our youngest son called us to complain that the house hadn’t been put in his name.  What does he want us to do about it?  We can’t get the other loan that would work for us as long as we own property with the same kind of loan.  And the closing DRAGS ON.

    Our offer was accepted after a painful wait (paper work resigned, countering to another offer) – same house as before.  And we have been approved for a loan – almost twice the amount as what we need.  We’ve been approved.  We don’t actually HAVE the loan.  I don’t know how long the waiting process is here in Oregon, but in my experience with Utah – closings seldom ever happen on first specified closing date – sometimes not even on the third try.  I hope things run more smoothly for us in Oregon.

    Roland told me to start packing, which in my opinion, is jumping the gun.  We don’t know what red flags (another phrase with this possible lengthy story) the creditor is going to find.  Our WV house not recording would definitely be a red flag.  And believe you me, if there’s something to find (and even when there isn’t) they will find.

    When we left Utah, all the boxes I had packed were sealed shut, to be put on a truck for a 13 hour drive.  I don't have to shut boxes for the move here.  Just fold them shut - if I choose to fold them at all.  Roland wants everything taken in the car - everything that will fit anyway, and he will rent a truck for the furniture that obviously isn't going to fit.  Thus we'll have to make several trips between houses.  It will take longer to load and offload than the drive itself.  Hopefully our loan will go through and there won't be any bumps.  I would love to experience a smooth ride.