Thursday, September 18, 2014

Roosevelts had Secrets; not Cool Kids

            I love hearing Jenna sing.  Often I am surprised to hear her sing along with songs that I have never even heard before.  One of those is the catchy “Cool Kids” by Echosmith.  Here is just one video with lyrics.

            As we were walking to school yesterday, she was not only singing the song, but made comments as well – how she and her friend Paul wish they were “cool kids”.  She was spending her recess with Paul and another boy who recently ditched them for his sports and Paul actually has safety patrol duty and so Jenna often feels alone.  She does have friends at Vantanna.  I KNOW she has friends.

            It’s not like her first school when she really was among the more popular kids at her school – in fact still is popular at her first school – which is funny; she hasn’t attended that school for over five years now. 

Popularity is not necessarily the greatest thing.  I had told her that before we moved.  What a devastating blow it’s been to her since we moved to West Valley.  Though she continues to seek friends, she is often a loner.

            I too, was a loner at school.  There were times I wish I hadn’t been treated like I was invisible, but I didn’t necessarily wish to give up my individualism in order to fit in. I did suppose that being treated as though I didn’t exist was better than being bullied.  I have often wondered what it is that makes “cool kids” cool and why they have such a following.

            I reminded Jenna that school popularity (or lack thereof) does not necessarily define who you will turn out to be.  I told her that there are many celebrities and historical figures that had been mistreated who still came to make a name for themselves.  Often times the result has had a positive effect or influence on many others.  There are also a number of “popular” kids that don’t know how to face the adult world once school has ended.

            Currently I am involved in watching the PBS series: “Roosevelts/An Intimate History”  Both Theodore and Franklin were bullied and teased in their youth.  They were not well liked.  And look at what an influence they had on the country that they served.  

            Eleanor had quite a difficult childhood and was verbally abused by her mother and not well accepted by her mother-in-law who seemed to have this insecure hold upon her son – casting Eleanor to the shadows at best.  I believe that Eleanor Roosevelt is the most quoted of any other first lady in American history.

            They had hard lives.  They had many secrets.  They kept their private lives private – tried to anyway.  Theodore went on to be the youngest president (though JFK was not much older) that we’ve ever had.  FDR served more years than any other president.  Both made considerable accomplishments – and contributions.  Not that their lives were ever what some might view as “sunshine and roses” but they did touch many other lives in a positive way.  Not everyone – but many.

            I think it’s great when we can turn our hardships to someone’s advantage (if not our own) and create positive things or examples of overcoming and becoming.  I think it’s great when “cool kids” are positive and friendly and don’t exclude.  I hope that Jenna will grow and stay herself and still be accepted.  We each have talents that make us cool.  Even though others may not recognize the “coolness” I hope she recognizes it in herself.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

94 in Death Valley

I so love this time of the year
In the morning just before the sun rises
At night – just as the sun is setting.
The weather is fair.  I like the cool air.
But the sun beats down in between.
It shouldn’t be this warm hot in September
I think it feels like Baker or Death Valley, California. 
I suppose that would be a slight exaggeration.
94 degrees might be considered cool for Death Valley


I remember one year my family was on our way to Bakersfield, California to see Corey in a play
We stopped off in Baker to get a bite to eat
The air was hot.  Unbearably hot. And dry. 
It was said the temperature was 117.
Patrick had gone into the men’s restroom to remove his shirt and douse it in water.  What a great idea!  I went to the women’s restroom and did the same. 
Our shirts were dry before we got back in the car.


Baker boasts to have the world’s tallest thermometer.  It is 134 feet tall.
The height represents the ground breaking Fahrenheit temperature of Death Valley’s hottest day. 
On the thermometer are the words: “Baker ca Gateway to Death Valley”
Corey had taken a picture back in the day before everybody had digital
He didn’t realize the word Valley had been cut off but posted his picture anyway
He thought it amusing and shared his photo
Baker ca Gateway to Death

Walking from the bus stop to the school and then back again is like walking through Death (or to Death – not the way I want to go)

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Be Chasing Shadows

I notice that when Jenna and I walk to school in the morning, the sun casts long shadows ahead of us.  Our shadows are tall and thin.  My morning shadow is not fat like I am.  People that know me now would never guess that I had once been mistaken for being anorexic.

Jenna wishes she could touch the shadow, jump on top and hold it down or something – but knows that when she moves her shadow will too.  She knows she will never catch it.

I smile when I think about the animated series “Peep” which featured an episode about the three friends following their shadows.  Their destination is to visit the island located in the west.  They start their journey in the morning when their shadows are long. 

By noon they are tired and their shadows seem to have disappeared.  The three decide to take a nap under a tree and hope to find their shadows when they awake.  They do.

Not realizing the sun has cast their shadows into the opposite direction, they continue following their shadows back to where they started.  They don’t understand as they had followed their shadows the entire time. 

As they turn around to look at where they’d been, they notice the most amazing sunset.  The wisest of the three points out that even though they may not have found what they had set out for, they could still appreciate their journey and the unexpected result.

I like that philosophy. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thank you Rocky Mountain Power (and What Devastation)

            I didn’t realize that Jenna viewed the crab apple tree as a friend.  A good friend at that.  True, it often did provide shade over her trampoline.  She also got bonked by tree branches when she jumped too high.  And she was always having to sweep debris off the tarp – mostly from crab apples and leaves.

            There was a crab apple tree in the front yard of the house that I grew up in.  Beautiful pink blossoms filled the tree in spring.  Several of us spent hours climbing the trunk and branches.  I suppose it provided shade.  I didn’t dislike the tree, but I certainly didn’t love it.

I never got why anyone would purposely plant a tree that produced such horrible fruit.  What is the point of crab apples anyway?  Thousands of cherry-sized “apples” covered our lawn.  I am guessing that is why it never came up lush green.  The grass didn’t like crab apples either.

            The crab apple tree on our WV property was located at the end of the yard behind the house.  It had grown wild and needed pruning.  It seemed like I was always cutting branches whenever I’d hang clothes.  For the most part it was the only time I’d really take notice of the tree.

            The tree had been planted beneath power lines – both electrical and telephone lines.  A March wind had sent some branches to rub against the power lines earlier this year.  My neighbors said there were sparks.  I called RMP the next day.  I was told someone would be out at the beginning of summer.

            Summer came and went.  I never saw anybody.  But RMP had also had pressing challenges with the elements creating fires or floods and a lot of power outages.  The company had more than its fill, I’m sure.   I had only that one report of sparks flying.  Still . . . if a power outage were to happen, I wanted to be able to say that I had called and made a report that the tree had grown around the lines.

            I was told that someone had come out and looked at the tree and didn’t foresee a problem, but that they’d send someone out again.  On Thursday I was told that there were nine lines going through the tree and that someone would be out later that afternoon or else yesterday morning.  I knew I wouldn’t be home Thursday night and had left a note.  Whether they came last night or not, I don’t know.  But they were waiting for me when I got home yesterday morning.

            I had left the same note with a couple of changes.  I said I would be back between 9:00 and 9:30.  I arrived at 8:50.  At first I thought the city had sent a crew to repave the road when I saw a work sign and polycones paved on one side.  A truck was parked in front of my neighbor’s house.  It was a tree truck.  They must have been waiting.  I forgot to ask how long.


 I don’t know why it is I find I need to take so many pictures of transformation, but I do.  I like to see how this 

went to this 

 or this 

to this.  

 Or this 

to this.   

And I take a lot more pictures than I really need (although I don’t necessarily NEED any of them) but I like to have a variety to pick from – in case I need to use illustrations because my words just can’t seem to capture what the camera does.

            I thought the crew did a marvelous job.  One man said that what could be seen above was worse than what we predicted from the ground.  If we had had a worse wind, we could have had a fire.  There would have definitely been a power outage to who knows how many people would have been affected.  We have been blessed that we didn’t have to deal with that.  We’ve been blessed in many ways, actually.

            I think the removal of the tree is a good thing.  Roland agrees – though he’s always seen the tree as a catch 22.  But Jenna has been crying over the tree – literally. She liked the blossoms.  Yes, like I’m going to keep a tree just for two weeks of blossoms.  (They have never made it to three full weeks)

            I’m so sorry for your loss, Jenna, but you need to understand - the danger was more severe than we had imagined.  I am told the elements would have killed the tree eventually and the damage would have been much more severe.

            Thank you RMP for keeping us safe and for doing such a great job and for sparing me for having any feelings of guilt had there been a power outage or fire . . . even though I had nothing to do with the existence of the tree.

            Someday Jenna may understand.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where’s My Rain?

         So often the weather forecast promises rain – and there are a few drops.  Sometimes we have showers that last almost twenty minutes.  Jenna and I will sit under the carport and watch the rain.  I love rain. 

         The promised rain always goes somewhere.  Often it is not received as a good thing.  It has caused the earth to moisten to the point of mud slide causing extreme financial damage – not to mention has left some homeless.   Or having I-15 close – in the dessert of all places.  That’s just mind-boggling.

         For me personally, Rain has always been a positive thing.  As I mentioned in this post, at least half my family vacations involved rain – not that we had planned it that way.  Dad always helped us to make the best of it, and we learned to accept and enjoy.

         I have fond memories not only of places that I’ve been, but the attitude of those that have surrounded me.  We always had fun in spite of the rain or because of it.

         There are several times I have taken my umbrella and have not needed it or purposely didn’t take it with me because I wanted to welcome the moisture.  Each time the forecast says “rain” – there is, but always elsewhere.

         I had planned to go to Kayla’s on Monday – right after I dropped Jenna off at school.  That day the wind was blowing – getting ready for the supposed expected storm.  The air was cool.  I might have enjoyed it, except for some reason it seemed all my energy (which lately isn’t a lot) had been sucked out of me.  I was so tired.  My presence wasn’t going to do either Kayla or the children any good.  And so I went home and slept.

         Yesterday morning was overcast – but hot.  And not a humid hot.  A dry hot.  Like when you are standing too close to the vent and it shoots a warm dry air up your body.  I found the thick heat to be smothering.  After I left Jenna, I got on the bus headed toward Kayla’s house.  When the bus turned the corner, black clouds had filled the air.  I could get rained on, I had decided.  And I welcomed the rain – though my backpack didn’t.  I hadn’t thought to bring an umbrella to keep my backpack dry.

The rain had stopped by the time I got off the second bus. By the time I left Kayla’s house, we couldn’t even prove that it had been raining - well, except for my overly damp backpack.

This morning seemed fair.  I wore a light jacket.  It came off before Jenna and I parted ways.  I am warm again.  I would much rather have the rain than the blaring heat of the sun or the hot dry air that makes me feel like I’m trapped in a sauna and can’t ever get out.  Why do people pay to sit in saunas anyway?  I know from experience that it is less costly just to sit in your car – particularly if it’s a dark one. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rambling Thoughts, Changes and Observations

Each morning as Jenna and I walk to the bus, we notice the sprinklers watering the lush green grass on the corner   
and I think how nice it would be to have lush green grass.

Never in my life has the yard outside of whatever house I’ve lived in, has there been lush green grass inviting my bare feet to run through it.

For the most part, if ever I have been brave enough to go barefooted, my feet scream at me and remind me that there are dry patches among the green but still non-lush.

I find that when I just wear sandals outside of the last two houses I have lived, the thorns and stickweed chock the life out of whatever we’d like to be growing. 
They scratch at my feet and my legs and imbed themselves
 into the soles of my shoes and often hitch rides into the house.

We did not water this year.  Water pressure is down 
devoting four hours a day to my less than promising lawn was not a priority.  Rather a waste of time
 (and water)

Our yard actually does not much worse than it has the years we have tried to nurture.

I ride the bus.
I notice many buses seem to be coming out of retirement.
They’re not all old relics.  But I was on one the other day that had the vinyl blue seat
The same vinyl seats I remember from the first time I had ever taken the bus.
But that was over 30 years ago.  Surely it’s not that old.

But the seats seemed to be closer to the floor
As my knees seemed more bent and up in my face somehow
And there was no legroom – or perhaps it just seemed that way because the seats are so close to the floor.
Sometimes those relics are used for training purposes. 
I have been a passenger on buses in which the driver is still training.
I wonder how long it takes to train before they get to be out on their own.

UTA offers more than 100 routes.  I don’t know how many buses are needed for each route. 
I would guess more than a thousand buses. 
Some have been in recent crashes.
Some have just given out for whatever reason.
That’s a lot of buses – not to mention the flex buses and ski buses and whatever else.

When we got to the school, Jenna made some comment about what she’s learning
I don’t remember what it was, but I questioned it and compared to my own upbringing.
“It’s a different century mom.”
She’s right.  Both my mom and I had gone to school in the 20th century.
Jenna wasn’t even born until the 21st. 
Not the way she meant it, but it made me think.
We really are going two schools in two different centuries

I’ve brainstormed thoughts for a while now. 
But I either couldn’t sit down to form sentences
Or was just too tired to.
I have lacked motivation.
The weather is changing.
I wear a jacket to the bus stop
and when we walk to the school
But it usually comes off before I cross the street
to catch the return bus home
I prefer the cool weather.
I don’t like it when it’s hot.
I haven’t melted yet.
That’s something.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Complicated History of my Cell Phone Usage

I don’t recall how long it’s been since I first looked into purchasing my first cell phone.  I believe that Corey was on his mission and that I was experiencing problems with my car. 

I remember walking to a nearby strip mall after my car broke down.  Outside one of the stores stood two men with a table displaying information about cell phone plans with Voice Stream (which I had mentioned in this post).

I had asked one of the men if I could use his cell phone to call my mom – and that’s where she found me – being sucked into the world of cell phones.  I don’t know if I had already signed my contract before my mom showed or if I was about to.  But mom ended up showing interest in the convenience as well, and we ended up getting two phones on the same plan.

I don’t recall how long we had our plan before the bills stopped coming from Voice Stream.  Funny how I hadn’t noticed – though I did notice a tremendous amount of garbage from a place called T-Mobil – which I had never even heard of.  I already had a cell phone plan and didn’t need another. 

One month I did open what I thought was an advertisement.  It turned out to be a bill with this outrageous amount attached to it.  Why would they send me a bill?  I had never signed a contract with T-Mobil.!  Who the heck did they think they were?!  Turns out that either they had merged with Voice Stream or had bought Voice Stream out or whatever.  Oh . . .

So I was with T-Mobile for nearly twenty years.  I ddin’t have any qualms with them until the last two or three years.  I’ve come to hate T-Mobil – which is too bad.  There really was a time in my life that I was happy with them.

We joined Consumer Cellular (here) to cut the cost of what we were paying to T-Mobile.  Bill had made the same switch and seemed satisfied, and so we switched over as well.  But we did keep our T-Mobile phones.  Initially, anyway.
            Bill’s phone wouldn’t transfer.  He held onto (and was without service) for a month waiting for T-Mobile to unlock his phone and ended up purchasing a new one as T-Mobile had screwed up.  My phone seemed to set up just fine, but I know Roland had troubles with his. He still cannot receive the Internet.  Just as well.  An extra expense that we just don’t need.

            I loved my LG.  I think I had purchased it used.  It worked fine for almost a year after we had made the switch.  But then my calls started cutting out – like the battery was dead.  It wasn’t.  Texting and other features of the phone worked.  But when I had tried to call Consumer Cellular one day – like ten times in a row – and I kept getting cut off – I broke down and looked into purchasing a new phone.

            Consumer Cellular offered two that weren’t touch screen.  I was most interested in the Doro.  But when I was offered a “gently used” envoy for just fifteen.  I thought I’d take advantage.  I had my envoy for only three days as I had the volume up as loud as it was go and could only hear my phone ring if there was no other noise beside – yeah, like that was going to happen.  I take public transportation.  I am going to encounter noise much louder than any phone.  And because I don’t have ears like Horton, I traded it in once again.

            This time I encountered a problem like no other.  One that presented a problem of strangeness as poor Jake went from advisor to advisor on what suggestions they might have that he could try.

            About two hours before I started talking to Jake, I had been on the phone with Cindy.  I was using the Doro, but I had figured out the problem was with the Doro or the way that Consumer Cellular had somehow tied in my brother-in-law’s number with my sister’s.  After all, they are on the same plan, and they do have similar phone numbers.  But every time I had wanted to talk with Kayla, I would get Bill.

            At first I believed that Bill was just being silly in answering Kayla’s phone, and even having his voice mail on her phone – he just seems to have that kind of personality.  But when I had dialed Kayla’s number over and over again, Bill was at work believing that perhaps I had some kind of an emergency.

            It didn’t matter whose number I dialed – if I dialed it directly, speed dial or returned call.  It kicked into Bill’s cell.  For CRYING OUT LOUD!  I needed to get a hold of Kayla.  I was so frustrated – I’m sure, as Bill had been as his phone had gone off multiple times.  It was only those two phone numbers.  I was the only caller.  There hadn’t been a forwarding on her end.  But I finally realized that I had never been able to call her on the Doro itself. 

            So I tried Cindy’s tricks before I got off the bus.  Nothing.  I had to call back and go through the rigmarole of calling the number and pressing 2 and then 3 and sometimes not make it that far because they’d been closed for the holiday and so were experiencing a higher income of calls than on their normal Tuesdays. 

            So when I got to Kayla’s house, I called Consumer back from her phone.  So I had her phone and my phone, but no other phone.  Poor Jake would call her phone and have me hang up my phone or vice-versa and we would try a variety of security related fields to unlock or free. 

            It took over an hour.  Final was doing something on her phone while receiving instructions from my phone and then calling back on her phone so that I could hang up my phone and call her phone.  And it worked!  I was surprised.  Jake was surprised – so happy to be done with me – FINALLY.  And then I started an email to Bill.

            Before I hit send, I thought I would try calling Kayla one more time.  Oh, no.  Back to Bill’s phone.  I had not only wasted more than an hour of Jake’s time (not to mention however long with Cindy) but wore down my battery as well.  Really.  I had just charged it up Monday night.  Unbelievable.

            I recharged my phone before I left.  As I was waiting for the bus, and had the time anyway, I went over some of Jake’s tricks again.  We had gone in to do a master reset – but not a master clear.  I decided to try the master clear – which wiped out everything I had added to the phone.  Fortunately I had not transferred that many names.

            So I put Kayla back in the system.  Hers was the first number I entered.  I called it and got her voicemail.  Hallelujah!!!!  I have now added to numbers to my phone.  Before Disneyland I was carrying two phones around – my Doro and my LG.  LG still has a lot of numbers.  Many I may never transfer.  This time I will only add as I go (which is what I mostly did the first time around) but I will not be adding Bill this time.  I may not ever call his number from my phone again.  I haven’t decided.  It’s more important for me to get a hold of Kayla.

            Leave it to me to have this unique problem that has Consumer Cellular stumped.  May none of us have to go through this again.  What a pain!  But if ever this should happen to you – just start over.  You may just end up having to do that anyway.

            I hope I didn't wear Kayla's battery down as I did with my own.  Thank you for letting me use your phone.  It will be nice to talk with you again.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Deceit Among Heroes and Villains

Roland often tells this joke about Satan entering a congregation of worshipers.  Frightened with his presence, the parishioners begin to flee the church except for one man.  Satan sits next to him on the pew and after trying a few more scare tactics finally says to the man, “Why is it that you are not frightened of me.”

The man just looks at him and shakes his head and says, “Nothing you can do will frighten me.  After all, I’ve been married to your sister for the last twenty years”
Roland’s marriage to his last wife did not make it to twenty years however.  But I think that is who he thinks about when he tells the joke.
            When I saw the advertisements for Disney’s Maleficent, I thought to myself:  “How quaint.  A movie about Roland’s ex-wife”

            For those of you who have read my blog from the beginning, you will know that Maleficent is the name I assigned Roland’s ex.  WARNING:  I am now about to reveal some spoilers from the movie itself.  To distinguish Roland’s ex and the movie character, I will refer to Disney’s maleficent creature as “mal A” and Roland’s ex as “mal B”

            The movie starts out revealing mal A as a youth – though quite young, she appears to be the ruler.  She cares about the other creatures within the moors where they all live.  She has a sense of humor.  She flies with large black wings.  She is happy.

            I had once heard that mal B had a heart at one time – must have been many years before I crossed paths with her.  I had heard that she would give the shirt off her back to one who was in need.  I find that hard to believe.

            Mal A meets Stefan – a young pauper who has a desire to be a king one day so that he can live in the grand Castle and rule over the humans.  Mal A lets Stefan know that humans are not welcome in the moors. Stefan is the first to make a sacrifice to save their friendship when he tosses his iron ring so that he may never hurt mal A and she is truly touched by his sacrifice. It seems like an unrealistic friendship for either one of them to pursue but each does wish to see the other again.
            As the years go by, Stefan comes around less often and seems to disappear altogether.  He had made his way into the human palace and stands a chance of gaining favor with the king.  A king who would like to make the moors part of his kingdom – but not the creatures themselves.  He promises each of his sires that whichever one of them will kill mal A and bring him proof – that sire will get to marry the king’s daughter and rule as king when the current ruler has passed on.

            Stefan goes to the moors to warn mal A that the king has sent out a death threat against her because he wishes for more land.  I found Stefan to be sincere – yet I knew that he desired to rule as king – and according to legend is the father of Aurora.

            Stefan drugs mal A and holds up a knife to stab her, but is unable to do it.  He clips her wings instead.  When mal A wakes up from her sleep, she immediately notices that her wings have been removed and she cries out with so many emotions: sadness, pain, anger, resentment . . .

            I had heard that mal B had been robbed of her innocence when she was younger – though I don’t know how young.  But I heard that it had been by people whom she trusted – those that should have protected her.  She may have felt their presence disappear the way mal A had with Stefan.  At some point she may have felt betrayed, as though her metaphorical wings (whatever that may have been) had been removed.

            Stefan is gone when mal A wakes, so obviously he must be responsible.  Mal A seeks vengeance upon him.  He must pay for doing her harm.

            Because she has no wings, she finds somebody who does.  A raven caught in a snare.  At first I think she saves him just out of habit – but when he asks she decides to make him her servant.  His first assignment is to find Stefan.

            After the raven finds Stefan, he reports back to mal A that Stefan has become king and that a princess has been born and that there will be a celebration.  Mal A, of course, has not been invited, but she shows up nonetheless.  Mal B used people all the time – still uses people I would imagine.  And ALWAYS inviting herself into positions where she is not welcome. 

            Mal A curses Aurora with a spell that she will prick herself upon the spindle of a spinning will and fall into an eternal sleep that only true love’s kiss can wake.  Mal A doesn’t believe in true love.  I would imagine that mal B may have believed in true love at one time, but she doesn’t anymore.  I think any flicker of love that may have been left has gone out from her life. And I wonder if she will ever get it back.

            Stefan is upset that mal A has intruded upon his little family.  He is upset with the very idea that she has cursed his little girl.  But I think that deep down he is more upset with himself – for the price he had paid to become a king.  For once he had betrayed his friendship with mal A, he had lost what once made him happy – never to find it again.  He’d allowed himself to be engulfed in the pain.  But instead of trying to repair the damage, he made things worse for himself and for his kingdom.  He fell into a state of darkness – darker than mal A dressed.

            That made me wonder if mal B was truly the victim or if she had gone after her desires in a way that Stefan had and had betrayed someone she loved and never got over it and allowed the pain to envelop her so much that she’d forgotten what made her angry in the first place.  Her heart needs to be softened.  Problem is that no one can find it.

            Mal A watches over Aurora who constantly smiles at her.  She has a beautiful smile.  Meanwhile Stefan seems to forget about Aurora as he makes plans on how to destroy mal A.  His pride continues to eat at him.  And he is never happy.  But mal A becomes happy as she watches over Aurora – which she had never intended and does try to fight it a first. Aurora finds mal A’s heart – who wishes to undo the curse, but just can’t seem to.

            I love the twist of events as the end when Phillip kisses Aurora and what follows when she doesn’t wake up from his kiss.  I would hope that perhaps one day mal B’s heart can be found and that she may go from hero (Stefan) to Villain (mal A) the way that this movie has depicted.

            Often we may label what makes a hero and what makes a villain.  But there is always deception.  Maybe not always, but often enough.  We read about it in history.  We live with it in the court rooms.  We’ve seen corrupt rulers and governments and we have seen true heroes that wish to remain silent.  For that’s what true heroes are.