Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


My second mom passed away today.

My friend Annette and I first met in a 7th grade art class - we worked on a mural of Africa together, and she was, even then, an awesome artist. She did all the savanna animals - zebras, giraffes, elephants.

The rest of us colored the ground and the grasses. And I think one other person did the trees.

Annette and I were soon inseparable friends.

And her family completely stunned me. It was the first family I'd ever met that, well, liked each other - wanted to spend time together - did things together.

It was the first time I'd seen this in real life, other than just the facade that some families can put on in public.

But Mom Shurtliff was always the kick. She always had a laugh ready - she never, ever seemed to be completely serious about almost anything.

Which was especially endearing to me.

And no matter how many evenings, nights, days, weeks and MONTHS (and believe me, there were months) I was at her house, she was always happy to see me - always happy to FEED me - always happen to include me.

It was also great to see her relationship with her daughters. My own mother and I had a strained relationship, even at our best of times.

But Mom S. and her girls were... well, like friends. GOOD friends.

When my husband I were married in 1978 in the Provo temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Mom and Dad Shurtliff came up to be at the ceremony, since my own parents were not able to attend.

(Isn't this a pretty picture? We got married on May 6th - and it snowed.)

And I realize now why I have no photographs of Mom S. outside the temple or at the reception - she was dodging the camera.

The one and only photo I could locate was from Annette's graduation from BYU, with Annette, her at-the-time-fiance-and-now-husband, and Mom S... checking the camera for a photo she was taking (this was in the dark ages before digital cameras - you took a photo and didn't see the outcome sometimes for WEEKS).

Through the years, I would call Mom and Dad S. occasionally - once Mom was introduced to the internet, she was great at forwarding silly jokes - but really haven't seen either of them for years. I know Mom had a series of strokes, this last one incapacitating her for the last several months.

I am certain she is now free of her physical limitations, and I am certain I am going to see her again some day.

But today - today I am missing her, and wishing there was some better way to express how much I have loved her than babbling in this blog.

4 4 4

I'm not into numbers.

I mean, I am into numbers with things such as 6 is a great number, but 3 is petty and mean.

42 is a mellow number, and 87 is just spiteful.

But 666 being a sign of Satan - heck, my land line that just got dropped when I began wireless internet has a 666 in it. I don't think that increased the numbers of telemarketers who called.

I especially get confused with things like the word Hello → 8 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 6 = 25 → 2 + 5 = 7, which means that you shouldn't ride elevators in months ending in the letter Q.

And Tom Cruise being born 7-3-1962, so break down the birthday numbers: 7 + 3 + 1 + 9 + 6 + 2 = 282 + 8 =101 + 0= 11 is his "lifepath" number - could that be why he's only 5'7"?

Did the people who come up with these things get beat up by a calculator in their youth and are fighting the repressed memories? Have an incredible crush on their trigonometry teacher? Were locked in rooms for long periods of time with only accounting logs available for amusement?

Here is another example from

"I have been receiving a steadily increasing number of e-mails from people who have noticed repeating patterns of numbers. Most people report three repeating digits . . .

"Where do these repeating numbers show up? .. order confirmation and reference numbers, "pin" numbers, car registration numbers and license plates, (and the) digital clock.

"It’s a lot easier to notice repeating numbers on a digital clock than on a traditional "big hand-little hand" clock. Multiples such as 3:33, 4:44 or 11:11 are hard to even spot on a traditional clock."

Harder to spot? Are you kidding?! Has anyone in their entire life ever looked at an analog clock and thought, "Wow! It's two-twenty-two, and that's three number in a role!"

(However, I will openly admit to opening my eyes in the middle of the night, seeing "1:09" and lying awake then until it becomes 1:11)

So I guess it's different if you just like numbers, but a little weird when you believe numbers.

This entire rambling blog began because I noticed a significant number sequence to night - two blogs ago, I posted my 444th blog on this website.

If that isn't more than a little scary, I don't know what it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


There are a few things that I absolutely know that I taught my kids:

- How to make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

- How to shovel snow... in 1994 when Maryland had the first legitimate winter in 27 years, and we for the first time had a LOOOONNG driveway

- How to do their own laundry

- How to write their own school excuses... no, wait a minute, they picked that up on their own.

- How to set the table

- How to load the dishwasher (I don't think anyone ever learned to actually do dishes)

- And to always say "THANK YOU."

I even had a little catch phrase that I would use when I had not been thanked for, say, preparing a meal, or taking care of some one's laundry.

I would simply say, "One, two, three..." and they would response with "Thank you, Mom, for the (insert proper verb/noun here)."

Granted, sometimes in an extremely sarcastic tone at times, but nevertheless, they would thank me.

Today has been... well, let me list some things that I feel have NOT been recognized and I am tired and grumpy enough to write about tonight:

- Driving two hours to get a child of mine up to an appointment in Tucson.

- Driving two hours to return a child of mine from an appointment in Tucson.

- Purchasing aforementioned child lunch, a drink, and another drink.

- Going to Costco in Tucson for both food and supplies for the house, where two people other than myself reside (can't really expect the dogs and the cat to appreciate their food, litter, and chew bones)

- Loading $209 worth of purchases onto my truck, including 65 lbs. of dog food and 40 lbs. of cat litter.

- Securing Costco purchases for the two hour drive back in the back of my truck.

- Unloading $209 of Costco purchases from said truck into house, including 65 lb. of dog food and 40 lbs. of cat litter.

- Taking care of purchases, sink full of dirty dishes, left-over laundry from spouse, cleaning cat box, sweeping laundry room, feeding all animals, talking child down by phone from panic attack over missed bank deposit, calling and talking to mother-in-law for 40 minutes, washing kitchen floor, combining my son's laundry with my laundry....

Okay, all of you out in cyber-land, please join me in SCREAMING aloud, until we get the proper response....

"ONE, TWO, THREE......"

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Before my husband joined the military, I had limited exposure to acronyms.

I mean, other than the regular ones, like ASAP, CPR, FUBR and PBJ.

But then the Army stomped all over us with TDY, PCS, CI, RIMPAC, MILPO, MOS...

I cringed at even the thought of acronyms for years. To understand my husband at all, I was forced to address my phobia, and even stop my support of the AAAAAA - the Association for the Abolition of Abused Abbreviations and Asinine Acronyms.

And becoming a member of the LDS church... well, that contributed to my dread, but I also had to learn to deal with it constantly (hence the title, for you fellow Mormons).

Then I went back to full-time, regular employment.

Suddenly I was up to my NECK in AHA lingo (AHA is American Heart Association).

And not just CPR or the HHA (at first we were the Hawaii Heart Association, and later became AHA, Hawaii Affiliate).

But ALL the programs that AHA offered back then - Schoolsite, Worksite, Communitysite and Healthsite - and the acronyms that AHA used, HHA used, the Programs Department (all two of us), and I created myself.

(Okay, well, maybe the ones I invented weren't so tough for me to deal with)

But now I can deal with almost any acronym - so I'm going to share a couple I found:

H.O.P.E - Housing Opportunities For People Everywhere - also Helping Other Parents Endure and Help Overcome Professional Explotation

R.B.B.B. - it doesn't just stand for Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers; it also stands for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Check it out yourself at . Put in your name and see what it comes up with.

Friday, April 24, 2009


My son and I were watching "The Incredibles" last night (since we couldn't agree on any other show), and we agree there should be more superheros.

We just differ on the type of superhero we think we need.

My son would like super warriors, leaping tall buildings and shooting weapons, accompanied by well-endowed yet muscular female cohort (well, he didn't actually say that, but since he's a fairly normal young man....).

I want a masseuse super-hero - one that shows up right when you realize your back is sore, but long before it's sore enough that you realize you are taking far more than the daily-recommended-allowance of extra-strength Tylenol. (and yeah, I do like the look of this guy).

My daughter would assign me a personal-shopper super-hero - one that can purchase clothes that I look good in, in the correct size and color, deliver them to me and (most important of all) remind me when it would be my best clothing choice.

I am so anti-style that if left to my own devices, I'd wear my jeans, an old t-shirt and my boots anywhere - including church.

And I need someone around who will monitor my diet 24/7, to offer me oranges and cored apples to lead me away from the mass of chocolate I devour hourly, serve me tall glasses of Crystal Light with ice and mint juleps to keep me away from my Dr. Peppers and Diet Cokes.

Of course, this last super hero would have to be invisible, silent, and able to withstand all my crankiness about not getting what I originally wanted.

So, what super hero would you create just for yourself?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I am openly... conflicted.

There. At least I admit it.

I grew up in the 60's and 70's - the whole woman's lib, going bra-less (yeah, I used to be able to get away with it, can you believe it?), wearing jeans, equal jobs, equal pay...

Well, we are still working on the last two, right?

But I was a feminist.

I wouldn't let guys open doors for me - I would ask them to dance rather than wait to be asked (which, at least at high school dances, guaranteed a lot of time dancing) - I at least three times got hired for jobs that were supposed to be 'male' jobs (and had to go through a whole lot of convincing, all three times).

I had to re-train my husband when we first began dating; he had been taught that the girl/woman should wait in the car until the guy came around to open the car door for her.

Yeah, that happened. Once.

I have no problem with politeness - my sole objection was being treated in a different manner because I was female.

Now, fast forward about 35 years.

I am at that age where I am not quite ready to be given a senior discount... but I'll ask for one. I'm proud to be a grandmother... but I secretly enjoy it when people say, "No! You're not old enough to be a grandmother!" and all those polite expressions that are used.

And I admit that I enjoy being, well, mistaken for a MATURE individual - someone who has had experience. I have enough gray hairs that I can b.s. my way through a WHOLE lot of stuff.

So when a man opens a door for me NOW, I now take it as a sign of RESPECT, not sexism rearing its ugly head.

And, I must admit, that when I have 1,050 lbs. of hay to unload from my pickup and into a hay shed...

I would like a man to at least OFFER to help.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


What's the expression, birthdays are good for you - the more you have the longer you live?

My three siblings and I all have birthdays within a one month period. We are Taurus - er, Taureans? Tauruses? Taurui? Well, which ever one of those that is correct - I'm going to root for Taurui.

I have always loved being a Taurus - they list qualities like loyal, endurance, stability, patience... okay, okay, let's forget that last one.

And Taurus, although the sign if that of the bull, is a feminine sign in astrology, which tickles me no end.

Our weaknesses? Stubbornness, tendency to be overly possesive and materialistic.

My siblings and I are spread over a couple of decades - my oldest sister and I are 22 years apart in age - we have different fathers, we grew up in radically different circumstances, and we haven't really kept in touch very well over the years.

Today, I was actually thinking ahead... okay, truth be told, my MSN calendar reminded me that my first-in-birthday-order-sibling's.

I got all organized about 8 years ago and put in everyone's birthday - my family's (it is embarrasing when you forget your own kids' birthdays), my animals (try to explain to a cat why you didn't get him a present), my dentist (hey, do you wanna tick off someone who can pull your teeth out if he wants to?).

The nicest things? People's birthdays don't change. Although I know some women who change the YEAR of their birth from time to time.

So I began addressing the envelopes for the birthday cards to send to each of my siblings - one to California, one to Wisconsin, one to Michigan.

And suddenly I was crying.

Because April 27th doesn't talk to May 17th. May 17th doesn't talk to April 27th. May 11th and May 13th chat about once a month, but May 11th hasn't spoken to either April 27th or May 17th in about, what, thirty years? Maybe longer - I don't know.

So it's more than California, Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan. It's that our parents have died. It's that we're all getting older. It's that it shouldn't be this way.

And if wishes were horses, then beggers would ride - if wishes were fishes, we'd all cast our nets - right?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


This letter to the editor in our local paper down here puts it in a much kinder, succinct manner that I would (slightly edited for space):

To the Editor:

I read with interest the account of the local “tea bag” event. I am puzzled by the actions being taken.

Where was the outrage when this horrible crisis was being created?

George W. Bush came into office with an advantage few presidents have enjoyed — a $230 billion surplus. But his $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001, a $1.5 trillion tax cut in 2003 and a massive defense buildup through the Iraq and Afghanistan wars quickly blew through that surplus.

After the financial crisis emerged last fall and the ensuing bank bailouts, Bush’s budget deficit ballooned to more than $1.2 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That is 8.3 percent of gross domestic product.

As Center for American Progress Vice President for Economic Policy Michael Ettlinger explained, budget deficits swelled under Bush because his supply-side tax policies slashed revenues while failing to deliver strong economic performance.

No tea bags then. None to any of the Republicans who passed all Bush’s budgets.

It seems this was simply an anti-Obama, anti-Democrat event.

People are entitled to gather for that purpose. They should, however, be honest about it.

Stephanie L. Koppenhafer


Monday, April 20, 2009


My youngest daughter cannot drive, so I end up being her primary mode of transportation.

I usually end up driving her any place further than three blocks from her apartment that the city bus doesn't drive to.

We drive up to Tucson to a specialist in pain management usually once a month - but at least we pass a Costco, so I can 'catch two pigeons with one bean' (isn't that kinder than 'killing two birds with one stone'? It's Italian).
And today it was Douglas; which is only about 45 miles.

But I have to drive back to pick her up about 23 miles - then past where I live, and on to Douglas - then past my home again the 23 miles to her apartment - and then 23 miles back to my home.

So round-trip, about 136 miles.

Of not really wonderful scenery.

Do you see why I have a headache tonight?

I do love driving. Long-distance driving. I've been from Maryland to Oregon - Michigan to California - Arizona to Hawaii.... no, wait a minute, I guess I didn't drive that, did I?

But it's been not quite three days since I was been slammed to the hard ground by a hungry 900+ lbs. horse, bruised my kidneys and am still aching incredibly across my shoulders, back of my neck and the back of my head....

Whine, whine, whine. But it wasn't quite a pleasure drive this time.

Add to this the fact that it was to Douglas. Douglas is... well, it's a border time, adjoining to Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, which is... well, it's one of those places you've heard about in the news lately. A lot of bodies. People kidnapped. Mayors and police chiefs who have either disappeared or came over to the U.S. requesting asylum.

So after two hours plus at the place, we headed back home... only to be turned around by the Border Patrol on the only direct highway back home. There was an ambulance with sirens on - couple of autos smashed - a helicopter flying overhead - bunches of Border Patrol, Cochise County Sheriffs and unmarked vans....

Well, I think you can guess that it wasn't a elementary school outing.

So we turned back - hung out at the local Pizza Hut for 45 minutes - and then drove back when the highway was re-opened.

I need to take three more Tylenol extra strength now just from writing about it.