Monday, December 31, 2007


I swear, this is the actual title of an article in the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2007. I just couldn't resist using the title.

I wish this happened every single day of everyone's life, but today I paused and just realized how incredibly blessed I am. I was breathing without any pain (after bouts of pneumonia, I do appreciate this), I have a home with heat (our night's are getting down in the 20's still), a dog who adores me (how can anyone not love that?), I have really great relationships with all three of my kids (honestly, this is one of the most important things in my life to me), and I live in a free country. The list could go on and on, but it was a wonderful moment.

We all need more of those.

HOWEVER, mingled amongst those great things (including titles of articles) is an upcoming opportunity to take one of my adult children to re-qualify for her low-income medical assistance (a necessity if nothing else simply to cover the prescription medicines she is on). I don't really mind giving her a ride, but I have to insist that I do not go in with her for the appointment. When I am present, she lapses into the incredibly dependent child-mode, and wants me to take over in the interview - and she can do it by herself.

So I either escape to Target (and feel incredibly guilty) until she calls, or sit in an extra-stinky parking lot (it's outside of an auto supply place, and the smell of oil is overwhelming), read a book, and normally develop a bad headache.

An escape plan is required, and I am plotting as I write. I will need the following articles - something with a decent amount of caffeine, at least 2 lbs. worth of chocolate, an interesting-enough new book that nevertheless doesn't require too much concentration (I am trying to finish "Black Swans," and it midway turns from a very captivating view of random chance into some sort of mathematical boasting), and a parking spot as far away from Auto Depot as possible. And perhaps a fresh bottle of Febreeze or nose plugs.

Wish me luck, world.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2008 = 145 lbs. (if you divide it 2008 by 13.84... is that the amount of calories I should limit to daily... so one sip of water?!)

New Year’s Resolutions (or as a friend of mine said today, “New Year’s Revolutions!”) seem to be a tradition in failure. Very few of mine have lasted more than three weeks, and although the old adage is “If you do something for 29 days, it becomes a habit,” I guess I am just exceptionally good at breaking habits.

One of my bad habits is eating too much of good things. I don’t think my diet is incredibly bad (remember, chocolate is a food group in my house) - I eat a lot of yogurt, which is good... except when you eat a LOT of it. Peanut butter is a great source of protein, and since I eat very little meat, that’s important... except when you plaster it on my toast much like mortar (you can measure the level of peanut butter in inches... like 3-4 inches....). And I drink ONLY Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke... but hardly anything other than that. I eat a couple of apples a day, and that’s not terrible... right?

The main reason for my excess storage-space (i.e. FAT) is that my 52 year old body has gotten very well acquainted with afore-mentioned storage-space (i.e., FLAB) and remains committed to a long-term relationship with this cell-condition (i.e. ENDOMORPHIC).

But, ever the militant optimistic, I persevere in maintaining the yearly appointment with frustration. Armed with a tape measure, banishing the scale, and with a fridge newly stocked with yogurt (but not too much), sequestrating the sodas (now that is just keeping away... they still will be accessible with a little bit of work... well, actually, it won’t be that hard to get to... maybe I should go sink them into the horses’ water-tank or hid them inside one of the extremely prickly mesquite trees we have in abundance), and somehow believing it is possible, I once again set out in my quest to obtain my ideal weight (that is, what I weighed last time I left Hawaii, was running four miles a day, and actually looked GOOD in a bathing suit).

Wish me luck - or perhaps a miracle.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


You can be stumbling along happily in life, tripping over occasional bouts of sheer joy and falling into gaping holes of wonder (don’t those verbs just sound wrong used that way?). And suddenly you wander into a bright fluorescent-lit room with extremely unflattering large mirrors and staring back at you is a rather worn-looking 50ish woman on the incorrect side of chunky. Wearing rather ill-fitting clothing (granted, it was 20 degrees, and I was wearing about four layers of clothing), very very short hair with only about half of it spiked, and the rest just sticking out at odd angles. Complexion that suddenly appears rough, splotchy and uneven.

Add to this having NO place open to eat other than Denny’s (over an hour wait just for a table) and Carl’s Jr. One advantage of being related to a fast-food restaurant employee is that they can get behind locked doors, which my daughter did . . . and was directly assayed by management to put on a uniform and get to work.

So coming home this afternoon, having ingested two fast-food hamburgers and two highly- caffeinated drinks in the part 18 hours and having spent over an hour at the hospital watching a child of mine fight through a drunken stupor of a little bit too much anesthesia given during the procedure of a gastric look-and-see (I could not in my wildest dreams repeat the actual medical term for snaking a camera down a throat into the stomach and taking photos of the lining, in this case shooting a wonderful color image of an ulcer, most likely caused by handfuls of ibuprofen ingested daily)(if I only had a scanner, I would post it for you)(now what was I talking about), I arrived home desperate for a nap (I normally sleep in a snore-free zone, and last night was denied both my white-noise fan background noise and company of my furry, snore-free canine companion).

But since I had drunken several malicious Diet Cokes (actually, just one Diet Coke - the other one was a Dr. Pepper . . . which is worse), I only laid quietly for a few minutes before my cat, denied my presence for, what, eighteen hours, jumped up on the bed and demanded close, physical contact with his chin and ears for about a half hour. I gave up eventually, kept myself awake vacuuming, taking out the trash that wasn’t taken out last night (read that STINKY remains from someone’s dinner), cleaning up the remains of someone’s dinner BEFORE it ended up in the trash, then awarded myself by (supposedly) the rest of the evening playing spider solitaire.

However, when that rest of the residents of my house stomped in about fourteen seconds after I had begun my first game, I made the fatal mistake of opening proclaiming, "I HAVE HAD A VERY ROUGH DAY AND I AM NOT IN A GOOD MOOD PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE."

Somewhere a long, long time ago I was taught that if you were direct and honest, you would get what you wanted. HA! This particular chunk of scrupulousness (another just cool word - it looks like either a very rare disfiguring disease or a medieval term issued to knights on horseback) caused an immediate disappearance of one individual and an extremely defensive stance from the other one. Within minutes, I was accused of being offensive (for using disinfection wipes on a common object - I just don’t want to catch someone else’s cold - and I wasn’t blatant about it, really), and was tiptoed around for the rest of the evening.

So now everyone has gone to bed, my dog is asleep at my feet, the dishwasher is loaded, and I have promised myself an extremely long, very hot bath, and then at least one disc of The Office while I eat the last bit of ice cream there is in the freezer.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


On Sunday, a letter I had written to the editor of our local (read that ‘small’) newspaper was published. The majority of human beings, I believe, simply read such articles, bellow their approval or disapproval to the spouse in the other room (the one who does the cooking, cleaning and laundry - and it ain’t always the woman, I know), and then the air is cleaned, at least in their mind.

For me, however, any bellowing on my part only starts the dogs yipping and my spouse becoming extremely agitated because I am agitated and begins planning bombing whatever-central-government-installation-or-business that has sparked off his wife.

Taking my pen in hand is not a option when you have arthritis and the temperature keeps hovering below freezing (but yes, it’s a DRY cold), but my nifty keyboard is always available for me to pound out my persuasion into Word Perfect. And if that action is not enough to vent my frustration/anger/irritation/astonishment/adoration, then I send it off into cyberspace to my blog or (in this particular instance) to the local newspaper.

Although my husband has been working security matters our entire marriage (except for a early and (mercifully) brief association with processing chickens (going from very alive to very dead and delivered to stores) - after that, almost anything would be an improvement), I often fail to consider possible consequences of my allowing my extremely unique name (both first and last) to be published (which is a requirement for letters to the editor). So far phone calls have been positive and supportive, but I didn’t even consider that I am the one and only **** ******** in the phone book for our entire county (which is right in between Delaware and Rhode Island for square miles - ain’t the Internet wonderful for trivia such as that being right at your fingertips?).

Therefore, next time I am not satisfied with simply noting down my displeasure with a certain news story or editorial opinion, I am going to pick an extremely controversial and volatile subject (let’s say a gay, black Mormon running for President; wouldn’t that make Romney proud?) (or, especially down here, the civil rights of people who are illegally entering our country) (or, even BETTER, the radical group of lisping chipmunks protesting the desugarization of Frosted Mini Wheats to improve cockroaches' dental hygiene), come out on whatever side is the most liberal (this is the state that produced Barry Goldwater, and has not moved much into the future as the years have passed), and simply wait for the fire-bombings to begin.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners are now my husband's responsibility (I resigned as head cook when my youngest moved out), and I have finally accepted the fact that he sees it as an absolute necessity to cook enough food to feed a small African country for approximately six months. We live far enough outside of a city that it's difficult to keep anything warm and deliver it to a food kitchen (to feed the homeless in our area for ten months), my dog is Jewish (he threw up every single last bit of ham he was fed this afternoon), and the horses strictly refuse to become carnivores (and since the stuffing was made with chicken broth, they won't even touch that). So I end up throwing aways three to four trash bags STUFFED with left-over food. Even if there was enough room in the refrigerator to store it all, I for one am sick and tired of it all after just ONE meal.

But two of my children came over, and actually we had a fairly nice time. We ended up watching a very silly movie about Nintendo games (talk about a dated movie - Super Mario?) with Fred Savage, Christian Slater and Bea Bridges - oh, yeah, it was bad. Again, if you take none of it seriously, and my son and I are allowed to heckle, it can be enormous fun (well, at least for my son and me).

Well, the evening is young (it's 9:45), my house is a shambles, and I have eight pots, one crock pot, three cooking sheets, and a stove-top covered with boiled-over gravy to clean up. Anyone wants to come over and help, I can guarantee watching the first "Shrek" and very poor singing along with the soundtrack.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Some days I am a little more short-tempered, and I think today is one of those days. I have had three different individuals saying, at different times today, "You hate me", two sort of kidding and one very serious when she told me she was not going to church. And I know they are looking for reassurance that yes, I do love them regardless. But some days I just want VERY much to say, "You know what, right now I'm not extremely fond of you, so you're kinda right!"

My dog never tells me anything except that he adores me (and he that he needs to pee every couple of hours), and my cat, although he does treat me most of the time with appropriate royal disdain, jumps into my lap a couple of times every day and confirms that I am the best available source of stroking (but only after he has attempted to have the dog groom him and given up on that as a bad idea). My horse even whinnies for me... well, if I am over 10 minutes late feeding him, and then it isn't exactly a whinny, it's kind of a "hey, lady, you're LATE!"

I know Heavenly Father loves me regardless of how silly I am, and thankfully I have an daughter who does seem appreciative of my motherly sympathy, being sisterly (i.e. church sister) appalled (i.e. actions of one Chris), and grandmotherly adoration of the two most remarkable children in the universe (i.e. her offspring and my grandchildren).

And that helps - a lot.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I am sore from laughing so much - there have been TWO Jeff Dunham specials on Comedy Central (the guy with the puppets - Walter, Peanut, Jalapeno On-A-Stick), and he is just too much. It doesn't help that my husband and son are not watching the show, they are watching me as I roll on the floor. Reminds me of the time Harmony and I went to some scary movie, and the guys in back of us were watching US jump instead of watching the movie.

My main accomplishment of the day has been (drum roll, please) getting the seven bales of hay that I had JUST purchased this week (translate that into $104.97) all covered up and tucked in comfortably with their teddy bears (not really - I only let them sleep with pacificers, but no toys) before the rain clouds hit (why do we say 'hit'? How about drop, or scatter, or relieve themselves - wait, forget that last one, that image is not one I want to think of). Everyone seems convinced that Arizona is all desert, and I'm here to tell you we have had WAY too much rain this year. I don't like having to watch for clouds, figure out which way the wind is blowing, and calculate how much time I have to get a leash on the greyhound, run out to the shed (which, unfortunately, still has a very incomplete roof due to the fact that Carls Jr. has re-claimed my son for the entire Christmas break, and I cannot lift the roof by myself), tie up the greyhound in a way that she will not kill herself (it's a complicated mixture of the right knots, threats, and orders to MY dog to watch her), cover the hay with a tarp... wait a minute, where is the tarp... oh, yes, it was obviously blown off LAST night, and it now at the far end of the horses' pasture, so I need to run down there and get it... and pray that the greyhound will NOT strangle herself... and then peel the tarp off the barbed wire... run back (and terrify both my horses as a galloping blue mass comes charging towards them), retie the greyhound (who has not killed herself, but has managed to get the leash around herself four times), throw the tarp over the hay, and then find enough heavy things to put over the tarp so (hopefully) I will NOT have to run to the far end of the pasture tomorrow.

Wow, I have to catch my breath now.

And I haven't even gone outside yet!

Thursday, December 20, 2007



There was a family in our ward that had FOUR children diagnosed with autism. Their oldest, a daughter, was not affected, but they had twin boys and then two single births, both boys. It’s interesting that autism is like four times more likely to occur in boys than girls. But I spent ONE afternoon watching the kids, and have the utmost admiration for their parents dealing with this 24/7.

For those who are not familiar with autism, I even downloaded some definitions from the Internet (and yes, these are actually real):

- Defective social or personal relatedness behaviors
- Communication difficulties
- Inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
- Preferred activities having a repetitive or stereotyped quality.

Someone who is autistic cannot comprehend another person’s view. They literally cannot put themselves into someone else’s shoes, or understand an expression such as "he knows that I don’t know."

Okay, try to stay and switch gears with me here, please.

Imagine yourself with a eighteen-month old baby. A child, a grandchild, a friend’s baby. Does this baby have:

- Less-than-perfect social behavior (i.e. crying at all hours for not always apparent reasons)
- Problems speaking to you (outside of "Mama", "Sit DOWN!" or "NO!")
- Preference for certain bath-time or bedtime customs (rocking, bath toys, a certain stuffed animal)
- Certain toys to be used in certain ways (i.e. a plastic hammer to bang on the brother’s head, a wooden playgate that needs to be inspected daily for possible defects)

Now, another big step back:

Suppose (and no, this is not sacrilegious and I don’t think you will be struck with lightening for imaging this - but wearing rubber-soled shoes wouldn’t hurt at all) that you are God. Yeah, the Big Guy Upstairs, with the white beard and Supreme Powers and all that.

Would He, looking down on Us, see us as:

- Less-than-perfect social behavior (jealously, anger, prejudices, inattention to family members, etc.)
- Communication problems with spouses, children, even with Yourself (remember, you are God in this)
- Insistent patterns (not necessarily positive) in friendship, marriages, family relations of conflict, arguments and resentment
- Physical self-abuse such as overindulgent behavior (food, sex, black pumps), exhaustion after repeatedly allowing only 4-6 hours for sleep (not counting watching "The Office" or "Firefly" reruns late a night), and improper use of your body (excluding, of course, consuming large amounts of Premium Choice Mint Moose Tracks Ice Cream or Diet Caffeine-Free Dr. Pepper sodas)

Now, if you are still with me, can you see Heavenly Father seeing all of us as spiritually autistic?

I don’t think that He looks at us in disgust or pity - He just acknowledges to Himself that we are just babies, and we have the capacity to grow, learn and reach beyond... IF we use the tools He has given us, to include prayer, the Holy Ghost, and the Atonement of His Son.

Wow, you really got this far - I am so proud of you!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In the spirit of honesty, goodwill, and shopping at the last minute for presents you give to people you don’t really care a whole lot about but am certain they are going to buy you some sort of cheap left-over trash for has already been marked down 50% on some random Wal-Mart shelf, so you have to find something almost as cheesy and tasteless but not enough that it comes across that you think they are that sort of person (even though they obviously are)...

Wait a minute, where am I?

Oh, yes, honesty. I actually wrote everything following this paragraph yesterday, and somehow had to make that point.

So now this, this part below was written yesterday. I am writing THIS today, but everything else is from yesterday. I mean, I know I already said that, but then I wrote this, so now THIS is the starting point... Right here.


Your children are always your children. Doesn’t matter how old they are, how long they have been on their own - they are still your children. And then they go right ahead and do something that makes them a child again.

Today we went and saw "I Am Legend." The only thing I will tell you is that if you are as much as of a sap as I am, bring a box of tissues. I cried TWICE in about the first twenty minutes.

However, I may very well see it again, just to concentrate on the special effects AND the incredible background. I am one of those viewers who (besides sitting through the ending credits the first time I see any movie) tries to focus not on the main action, but what is happening in the background. And they did an incredible job in this movie with... well, I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, but I think you’ll know what I mean when you see it... that is, IF you see it... and if you are the type of person who NOTICES things like that....

Monday, December 17, 2007

I, however mistakenly, think of myself as a logical, intelligent adult. Afternoons like this prove, as usual, that I am completely and totally wrong in this belief.

When I first came up with the brilliant idea of building a shed to store hay in, it was going to be an exercise, both physically and mentally. I had gotten, through, of course, several books about shed building and basic carpentry skills. I thought with a saw, hammer, and measuring tape, I was ready to go.

I started off with a basic foundation. Unfortunately, just thinking about the pouring a concrete base exhausted me. So I figured, okay, concrete blocks. But did you know that solid concrete blocks are like, really heavy? I figured the next size down wouldn’t be that bad - and hey, if you take one step, why not take two?

The concept of leveling the ground also seemed extreme. I mean, I live in a river valley - gently sloping down from the mountains to the river, granted, and not as flat as western Kansas, but still . . .

So I just laid out the blocks - kinda evenly - and then began the floor, and walls. However, putting walls up and attaching them to the floor becomes a bit of a quandary when you are working alone. I just got incredibly creative with props and braces and very odd methods of support, and managed to get it up, wall by wall.

So three walls up - let’s do the roof, which I had randomly decided would be peaked and tall enough to stand up in (at least in the middle). Neglecting measurements, being a little bit puffed up with the fact that I, alone, had constructed at least something of a building.

And it looked rather nice. Only problem was, since I had forgone measurements, it was missing a necessary 10 to 12 inches to span the top. So I took it apart, and in true Hope-fashion, let everything alone for approximately four months.

Now that my college-age son is back for two weeks between semesters, I actually have a chance to finish my . . . er, experiment in gravity (i.e., what will stand by itself). So today I spent about 45 minutes constructing sloping side panels to support a simpler leaning roof.

I’m exhausted.

On top of that, I have a 1) spouse who is suffering from increasing bouts of severe paranoia, 2) son who is suffering from increased depression, and 3) daughter who is getting less and less hours of work, and thereby becoming more and more dependent financially on her parents.

Isn’t life fun?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I feel somewhat reassured when Elder Ballard says that there were too many conversations going on about the Church for Church representatives to respond to each individually, and that Church leaders "can’t answer every question, satisfy every inquiry and respond to every inaccuracy that exists." He advised students that they should consider sharing their views on blogs, responding to online news reports and using the "new media" in other ways.

See, I'm not wasting time, I'm just being a good missionary! ;-)

Today I am running just a little bit gun-shy. After a very full day at church, interacting with people who are (as always in our ward) very accepting, supportive, and kind, I made an 'inappropriate' shhhing sound at home, that could possibly be related to the same sound you make to an animal, which somebody sort of blew up at. I have no trouble with anyone comparing me to an animal, so it's kind of hard to understand - but then again, I'm not offended by a whole lot of things. Home should be the place where you should be able to relax - and sometimes for me it's the last place I can relax.

The cold weather has brought out an amazing view of the stars out here. Since we have regulations about light pollution out here (and that expression always seemed so incredible SILLY to me... until I moved out here and got to appreciate what it is like to have a clear night sky), you can literally see thousands of stars (haven't started counting them yet, but I know I'd run out of fingers and toes pretty quick). I keep meaning to ask my son-in-law if the cold affects the air molecules and stills them enough that you can see better, but almost every time I talk to him, I am actually calling to talk to my daughter, so I forget.

I am going to attempt to attach a photograph to this just to see if I can do (I do have a priceless one of my husband sticking his finger up his nose, but I'll try to find something a little bit nicer to put on).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Have I told anyone later that I have the most incredible children AND grandchildren?

First of all, I have the 'tipping point' of fashion and decorating styles, who also happens to be a daring photographer (who else would take, and have the nerve to PUBLISH a photo shot of bang's?), nurturing mother (of a 4 and 1 year old - and still retains her normal high I.Q. level... at least after the children are in bed and asleep), faithful military spouse (who has lived through, what, THREE six-month deployments - and the last one turned into nine-month one) AND serves as a sterling example and leader of young women in her church (perhaps best to demonstrate styles of bouffant hairdos).

Second, I am curs.... BLESSED with a slightly different child who, despite all dire predictions, has been living on her own and holding down a job for five+ years - who faithfully follows the housekeeping standards of a 14-year-old - steadfastly continues to spend her month worth of food stamps within three days - but also continues to work against a heap of prejudice at work but gathers a strong following of faithful customers who trailed her from one fast food drive-thru to the one a block away.

Last, but not least, my youngest is courageously tackling college, holding down a job, and making the major (albeit frightening) step of changing majors half-way through his higher education. He knows EXACTLY the right thing to say to his mom to help her feel better, but is still developing the necessary skills to successfully woo a girl.

Now, my grandchildren - besides inheriting the greatest looks from both sides of the family, and a heart-warming response to the collective 'tall' gene - show interest in both academia (tearing into books - literally sometimes) and sports (hammers and toys being used in both defensive and offense games). I don't even need to save my nickels and dimes to assist their education, since they have both qualified in advance for six Ivy League universities (are there six Ivy-League schools? Harvard, Yale...wait, are all I.L. schools on the east coast or something? Wait, Standford is one... I am going to have to research this further).

Whew. Enough bragging for one night. It's past midnight, and the early wake-up call at... let's see, it should be about 10 a.m.,.. will come soon enough! Plus I still have to check out some Christmas decorating photos tonight.

People seem to think that God just isn't too smart. That He doesn't realize you are praying / worshipping Him/Her unless you use the right title, the specific form and/or language of prayer, or be in the correct place at a particular time. And He/She obviously needs to find out from US what needs to happen, because we sure seem to want to be advisers rather than followers - and we WILL keep advising until things turn out the way we want it to be. Much easier than "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

I've been meeting with some nice folk who believe the Bible - excuse me, their version of the Bible - is word-perfect. As much as I believe in the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, I am certain there are some flaws - some from the original authors, some in translation. Since I can't write a full paragraph without a typo or misspelling, I figure I should grant the same chance-of-error even in scriptures (hey, Moses has a speaking disability - prophets are exempt from things, and whomever was taking notes for them).

I'll keep sharing with people what I know/feel/believe about God, but I also want to grant them the right to worship how, where or what they may (Hey! Sounds like the 11th Article of Faith, don't it?!). To some people, that works just fine if it's still Jesus Christ - but not Allah, Buddha or one of the Hindu gods. Listen, I really believe God knows when people are taking him into account, even if they call him something else. And He takes into account how they have been raised and taught.

My spiritual beliefs work great for me, and I would like to share them with other people. But I also have to allow other people that share their beliefs with me, and grant them the same privilege.

Can you believe this all began from a letter to the editor in our local newspaper, saying "A very prominent person in our government said, 'We all believe in the same God, just under different names.' I think this is a grievous and a very serious mistake to believe that. We know that Allah and Buddha was not the father of Jesus Christ," (grammar not corrected), "... I think you can call him any name you want as long as it is respectful and accept him as the father of Jesus Christ."

In other words, as long as it's a Christian belief.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

It is amazing how the holiday season brings out the most un-holiday spirits out in people. I saw two cars battling for the same handicapped parking space (and yes, both had handicapped plates). Somehow that it just wrong.

So I feel it is my ill-appointed duty (line from a song) to somehow turn peoples' attitudes around for at least 23 seconds. Today, I did get a scowling women (isn't scowling a cool word? You have to scowl to even READ it) in line at the pharmacy to laugh, a cashier to smile, and Target to report an increase of 0.0006% increase in their profits for this quarter. It helps that I have no shame and no embarrassment meter; if I can be silly, I'll be silly.

I'm very glad my truck (or rather the bumper-statements ON my truck) makes people smile - while walking by, in the car behind me, and (inevitably) the car right in my blind spot, but with the passenger reading them aloud for the driver. I have met, however, ONE person who is completely convinced that all my stickers are WRONG - "How do you think you are ever going to SELL it? Don't you know it's damaging the PAINT!'

And one more good thing about my truck - no one would ever dare steal it (I can just hear the Sierra Vista police car's radio: "Be on the look-out for that goofy truck with all the stickers - this town is small enough that most people KNOW it's my truck!).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

To me, this blog is an easy place to express my thoughts (or, more correctly, spew out blasphemy into cyberspace), and all you need to do it place a keyboard within range and keep the humidity low enough so my fingers can move without too much pain. I generally do a spell-check before I publish (since my spelling ability is lower than a Russian kindergartner in Missouri), once in a while actually proof read, but rarely edit or, in the words of one reader, 'agonize' over it.

Now I am beginning to wonder is that 'agony' is responsible for the high quality of materials in this one reader's script and photography? She is a little bit more of a perfectionist than I am (understatement of the century right there; I will wear anything to include things with large holes in sensitive areas, serve anything that doesn't have swarms of gnats over it, and greet people happily into my home with a large greyhound laying on the couch, cat and dog hair in matted wonder on the carpet, and dust thick and space available enough to write the first half of "War and Peace" (by the way, has anyone actually read all of War and Peace? I mean all of it? We all say we have, but I don't thing even professors of English lit get all the way to the second half - which is why I am only extolling the virtues of writing the first half in my ready-and-usable dust)).

Wait, where was I? And does it matter enough to even try to get back on this train (choo-choo!) of thought?

Okay, back to ME, the important point (ha!). I have promised myself some quality time with a particularly spoiled pet of mine (but since he weights 1,000+ lbs., I have to say that quickly only while I am indoors), so I am going to throw hay gleefully (I can't even read that word without smiling) over the fence, and then tackle cleaning some of the incredibly filthy hair (mud-encrusted at BEST).

Hmm... wonder if I can be taught over the Internet how to create a bouffant horse-hair style?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I am very, very seriously worried about me - there are advertisements on television for The Simpson Movie, and I KNOW who/what Spider Pig is. I can even sing the song. Comes from living with my daughter for eleven months.

I am also contemplating closing my business. The last three pianos I have tuned have ended up sounding worse when I was done. Although I have always made it clear I am a tuner and not a technician, it looks like I am going to end up paying for a broken string that occurred while I was tuning. I've been working on my own piano, and somehow whatever magic I've had in the past is gone - my OWN piano is still out-of-tune.

Plus the price of gas is rapidly making a difference in my profit - especially since the last three pianos have been over an hour's drive away. And the advertising costs are prohibitive enough that I have simply stopped anything outside of the yellow pages - and even that is only on-line.

It's tight enough financially even without the token earnings I make; should I just give it up and make do? I cannot tell you how much I LOVE not having a regular job - I'm getting enough sleep, am doing so many projects that I've put off for DECADES (and I am not exaggerating - I mean DECADES).

I'm making this a matter of prayer, but so far I am getting a definite impression that this is like asking Heavenly Father what brand of green beans to purchase - this is something I need to make the decision on.

Any advice?

Monday, December 10, 2007

There is only one good thing abut being ill - and that is the appreciation you feel when you get better.

I am surprising myself by a newly-discovered snarling, hackle-rising fury over a age-old (well, since electricity became available in houses) Christmas tradition - holiday lights. People put them all around the house, set up neon nativities, wired Santa & reindeer in the front yard, and happily flick the switch at dusk to allow the lit splendor (sic) to shine all night.

But out in the country, at least our country, we have some pretty strict light-pollution laws already in place. When I first moved out here almost eight years ago, I quietly giggled at the concept of light "pollution" and dismissed it as a nit-picky code for people to use when the 100 watt bulb on their neighbor's porch was too bright, and they would take them to court to get a 60 watt bulb in instead.

However, now that the lights of the nearest (and rapidly growing) city are washing out some of our night-sky views, and the flood-lights of the latest Border Patrol substation west of Naco are on ALL night, I begin to realize that, unless checked, this may become as bad as L.A. when I was growing up - if you could see five to ten stars at night, that was a big deal.

And I thoroughly enjoy each (non-overcast) night (which is the majority here) the incredible expanse of night-sky - the Milky Way in all it's glory - the meteorite showers that surprise you with their quickness and brightness - how more and more stars appear the longer you stay out until your head begins to spin with the sheer magnitude of space.

We do not have streetlights of any sort out here, all outside lighting is supposed to be 'shielded', and with rural zoning, land parcels must be a minimum of four acres. But with the 'new' people moving out, wanting paved roads and convenience stores, this is all coming under attack.

So I have discovered that I am an OLD FASHIONED SAYING NO TO PROGRESS SHOOT OUT THE NEW LIGHTS GOSH DARN WITH MY PISTOL B&^TCH!! Well, not shooting anything out... yet. But quite suddenly all of those Christmas lights are NOT on my good list.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I need to go back to school, get a degree in mental health, and get PAID for all the free counseling / advice I simply GIVE away every day. Either that or someone needs to make up a legitimate-sounding-enough alphabet-soup that can follow my name and give me enough credibility to publish a book. How about W.L.T.G.T.C.J.F.E.A.N.A.D (Whole-Lotta-Time-Going-To-College-Just-For-Education-And-Not-A-Degree)?

However, I obviously have not been banned completely from the Benson School District - I got a call today for another piano tuning at the middle school. The only problem is that they need it done NOW (early next week), so I'm going to have another day of crazy driving in opposite directions to get to (now) two tunings AND a church event (showing support for a very small - read that three sisters last time - group that is writing our missionaries and/or service people every month).

And why am I complaining? I'm getting paid for all of this - two with money, one spiritually.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I am seriously beginning to doubt myself. I mean, I have been tuning pianos off and on for more than a few years, and generally when I am done with a piano, it sounds better. That's the entire idea.

Now I have made THREE trips to Benson for TWO pianos - and will be going the third time to another one in Hereford. What is wrong with me?! Or are there evil genies hiding behind the keyboards and messing me up on purpose? A curse from another tuner I don't know about in town?

So I am dealing with it the only way I know; forcing myself to PRACTICE more. I have a decent Yamaha at home, and I can play/work with it for hours if I need to - and I think I need to.

However, it is also n0t a whole lot of fun to untune your piano and then retune it. I guess I should look positively at the situation - I will have a fridge full of Caffeine-Free-Diet-Dr-Pepper on hand, two dogs will will watch me adoringly, and a cat will will insist on walking on the keyboard occasionally to play "As Time Goes By." And I can take a break anytime I want without having to worry about the person who is paying me walking in.

Okay, now can someone remind me of these wonderful aspects tomorrow when I have to take my Yamaha apart?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I am officially an old person now.

Driving has always been a major form of recreation to me. I mean, I grew up in L.A., and if you can't deal with the freeways, you don't survive (actually, not quite that bad, but....). In fact, I got a great quote forwarded to me today: "If you raise your children to be nice and polite, they'll never be able to merge onto a freeway."

But (back to driving) some of my best memories are from cross-country driving trips... well, maybe I better admit that those are cross-country trips with my DAUGHTER. Although the Kalamazoo to Las Vegas straight-through-no-stops-except-for-bathroom-breaks-with-a-puppy-in-the-car-through-MAJOR-rain-deludes-and-tornado-warnings was sort of fun also...

However, after driving to Benson, ONLY 48 miles north of me, on Friday, yesterday AND today - my butt is tired, my eyes are tired, I am even tired of iPod songs that I have CHANGED for each ride!!!!

So there is an old lady inside of me whining and complaining, and I'm afraid, VERY afraid, that I am going to start LISTING to her!!


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Okay, I have been dealing with a professionally paranoid, cynical and negative individual for some thirty years. This dude has made a living from thinking of what bad people could do, and then figuring out how to build a defense against that. Suffering from severe depression all of his life may have helped some of that destructive thought-process, but again, this is nothing new.

So tonight I got just a little bit scared when he calls from the grocery store (commissary, to us military types) and is undergoing a panic attack - just simple fear of being surrounded by people. And by the time he got home, he was convinced that 'someone' was outside - asking me, "do you always have the shades part way up? Can they be put down?" and "Why did the porch light just go on?" "There is someone outside, I am certain!"

The only positive aspect of this is that he RECOGNIZES that this is paranoid and abnormal behavior, and he doesn't usually feel like this. And he did agree fairly quickly to taking a sleeping pill and going to bed.

It's probably a good thing that I know his psychiatrist as well as I do - an appointment tomorrow will be made if this is still happening in the morning.

I'm also trying how to work tomorrow. I went up to Benson (about an hour and a half drive) Friday morning REAL early for a two-piano job - went back TODAY since they have a concert tonight, and it needed a touch-up.... and now am expected back TOMORROW for the follow-up on the second piano and since they have a half-day... but I also have to be up in Benson DAY after tomorrow for a counseling appointment!

Gas ain't cheap anymore, my truck doesn't get hybrid mileage, and I am honestly TIRED of making this three hour drive every day. But I also want to keep the business, the customers happy, and the work moving along. So I guess the idea of going out tonight and letting the air out of my own tires isn't such a great idea, is it?

Any other suggestions, I am open to. But I may be checking the afore-mentioned-individual into a Tucson mental institution - that would a very novel excuse, and it would save me from telling a lie.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I here admit publicly (how much more public can you get than the Internet?) that I am a biased, prejudiced, very unfair individual. I normally (following my husband's teachings that over-tipping generally leads to much better service & attention the next time) (although I don't necessary tip as drastically as he does - 20% is okay, 60% is silly) tip whomever loads my hay at the feed store onto my truck (and sincerely wish that I could tip them enough to take them home and the UNload the stuff - oh, my aching back!).

And today I did NOT tip the dude that loaded my seven bales of alfalfa because he ended up being almost the epitome of a redneck - self-described "Irish Kentuckian" former Army Ranger, who maintains that 70% of the oil drilled in Alaska goes to the Japanese, "who own most the U.S. and we should have just bombed all to *@)$(* at the end of WWII", same option for the Middle East after the first Gulf War, and "there is MORE than enough oil for EVERY one in the world in the Texas and Arkansas fields - they just cap the wells and keep it a secret from everyone."

So... does that make me as bad as he is? I honestly believe any person capable of making you angry can control you - and I let this guy REALLY irritate me!

I also don't recycle my Caffeine-Free Diet Dr. Pepper soda cans - so I'm going straight to hell, I know.

However, I am incredibly proud of how professionally I handed not one but TWO calls today about, um, er... pianos not holding their entire tune from past week. I masterfully blamed it on our rather extreme weather over the weekend (rain, dropping temperatures, and CRAZY wind up to 80 mph which blew over a lot of trees, roofs, and brick walls... really!), and immediately offered a return visit for a free 'fix-it." Both clients/customers gratefully accepted, and I breathed a great big sigh of relief when I hung up. One thing a piano tuner does NOT need is unhappy piano-players - we really do rely on repeat business.

And I was also unrighteously proud of my daughter's observation of me starting and (hopefully) my own business - it is so nice to have hard work (and a real leap-of-faith for m) acknowledged. So thanks, kiddo (besides, you are the only one who reads this late-night ramblings of mine!!).

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Harmony mentioned something yesterday that I hadn't really thought about before; she was having a difficult coming up with something for her blog if she didn't 'feel' like writing. I guess I just always imagine I am talking to someone who can't interrupt, can't argue, and HAS to pay attention to whatever I am saying! Sort of like talking to Murray.

I am trying to write this, finish up my laundry, watch re-runs of "Firefly", watch for essential email updates so I can hopefully get the ward bulletin done TONIGHT instead of the 9:25 a.m. Sunday morning scramble, AND deal with a headache (which I think is simply my eyes trying to tell me that I've been on the computer for too many hours today).

I think the expression "multi-tasking' came into play with some man came up with it to make himself sound better on his work evaluation - it's what we women have been doing for centuries before.

I was jokingly accused of 'bribery' tonight when I ordered a pizza for my second child (it's a deal we have - if she works more hours than she is scheduled to, I get her a combination pepperoni/ supreme medium). And although it's four hours until the Sabbath, and I will probably be struck with lightening for this observation, isn't sort-of long-term bribery what Heavenly Father uses on us? Promise for celestial glory - eternal families - exaltation? I guess it sounds better to say 'promises', and it definitely isn't instant gratification (which is what my second child works on), but really, isn't it bribery?

(Okay, I'm ready for that zap - KABOOM!!!!!)