Thursday, December 29, 2011


Okay. After about passing out on the fumes of Clorox and Lysol used during a bout of J's flu and the hilarious event the other day with the mixing up of the rags- I had to finally post about it.

If you didn't know,Padre and his ancestors are cleaning coniseurs. So you can imagine the intimidation a consultant for a company touting a wash rag, that only needs water and a football field's length of silver to pull the bacteria into its micro-fiber fabulousness, felt while trying to sell the whole concept.

The put together gal selling the rags gave a great presentation but received more instruction from my family on cleaning ideas which, unfortunately, involve water! And a whole lot more adding a billion steps compared to the miraculous rag. I felt bad for the poor lady- trying to repeat over and over the beauty of the rag; rubbing butter on my Aunt's T.V. and wiping it off- leaving no streaks and other miracles. It just would not be a concept our family could wrap their minds around in this life time.

I have to admit it seems almost too good to be true. But I love the rags because it takes a million steps out of the cleaning process.

So recall my pic the other day of the apple?

It was fabricated. A fake apple. Me trying to re-create Christmas Eve. I cleaned off the counter to set up the picture take for the blog. But I used the MINT colored rag.

If Padre knew he'd flip. Thankfully Madre caught me using it and said it was the rag designated for the bathroom. Before Gma is hauled off to the hospital I want her to know the rag was just washed, Madre caught the infringement while it was taking placde and we pulled out the big guns.

(i.e. clorox and normal rags.) This seemed funnier the other day. But not after we've had the flu.
And this just gives Padre more ammo as to why the rags are the germ culprite.

Boy, I feel like a politician; I made promises to blog about certain topics and haven't gotten around to them yet!

I will.

Right now my arthritic joints are making it difficult- which could mean a couple things: we are going to get some serious moisture-snow/rain, or my body is blitzing.

Another promise was to concentrate on Lucie and my feelings on some insights connections. That's been hard because the topic because it has taken on some sacred meanings for me this time around.

I need to ponder it more, weigh which thoughts to blog and which ones to journal.

Just approaching Christ in Christmas this year has been a process. It isn't because I had been wildly shopping like the Whos in Jim Carrey's The Grinch or baking up a storm in order to get goodies to neighbors.

It hasn't been our bizarre blustery weather, blowing wrapping paper around in our snowless soggy wet yard, that we didn't get our white Christmas that Idaho USED to me known for.

And what is up with this wind? Yeh, we get crazy wind in Idaho but today's wind is acting like track season wind. (Springtime) Not December. You can bank on the fact it will eventually snow.

Just not until June.

Thanks Idaho. Guess we'll have to just have a cup of cheer. (Reference to a song off the Old School Rudolph the REd Nosed Reindeer. No, dear Reader, I haven't taken up drinking.

Where was I?

Oh, "What has been the reason for the difficult" for me to spiritually and mentally grab hold of the whole essence of the season.

I can't quite pin point why the whole intensity of Christ's birth didn't soak into my soul-

It feels a bit like going to the eye Dr. in the month of February and the sun is glaring off the white snow; they turn the lights off, dialate your pupils, to the size of a dime, complete your exam, turn the lights back on and non-chalantly send you out into the bright of day.

Yeh, they offer those temporary wrap around sunglasses you can shove between your face your glasses but it still is an ordeal.

So I guess the days leading up to that special day were incrementally special. Little tender, merciful moments that 'eased' me into the feeling; not one big swoop of gumdrops and gingerbread cookies.

That's what I like anyway; the build up to Christmas. The day itself is great. But it's the magic and anticipation of the holiday that has meaning to me.

Some people turn their lights off their trees and houses after the 25th. I can't. And I won't for a while. Because those lights give me hope.

So still keep your outdoor lights on! For Me! My son and I still need to drive around and look at them. It is a tradition on Christmas Eve but when you're divorced, improve comes into play.

However, even with that wrench to deal with, I have needed to rest. I even checked out books on tape so I could rest my throat and mind when reading to Jaden at night. But somehow books on tape aren't the same as reading aloud to each other. And, yes, I still read to my kid. We will take turns sometimes. I like to read to him.

My desperation has caused me ask Jaden to blog about Christmas day- he has done a paragraph.

It's a super cute paragraph. He read a bit to me:

The English major (for all of one semester at BYU-I) in me said:

"That first sentence should be put in the past tense."

Jaden: "Is this your post?"

Me, in the "you got me" mode I sheepishly replied: "No."

I tried to apoligize, reassure him it was his post, that it should be in his own words. Heck, I hated when my teachers bled red all over my papers, too. And you all can see how much I care to edit my own posts.

Jaden's final remark: "Okay then. Now let me write. I can't concentrate when you're talking."

Writers get so snippity some times! - I hesitate giving him a deadline.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I know I said I would post about the controversial norwex rag, but I have needed to conserve some energy.

The above picture is one of my favorites pencil drawings. It was done by my cousin, John Hart. It is a picture of Christ's hands carefully holding a bulb as He lifts it to the branch.

There are no more prints of this particular picture, but John has done many breathtaking paintings. I love to look at his work.

And I have to stop and wonder how a whole family, (John and his brothers) could be so darn smart.

Aunt Pam, we need to have a family get together soon!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kimmel Christmas

It may seem irreverent and mean to prank at Christmas but if you've seen Jimmy Kimmel's prank on kids this year, it could change your mind. The laughs it can bring are well worth getting stuck on the naughty list.

The possibilities for "unwanted" gifts are endless. Had J not seen the clips of children opening up items like a half eaten sandwich or a half empty bottle of tomato juice; he'd have gotten a few Kimmel gifts as well. (i.e. his laundry, folded and wrapped nicely with tissue; half a tub of vaseline- things of that nature.)

The irony, actually, is that I have some gifts under the tree for J that weren't intended to be Kimmel-ish but are Startingly.

Three of the gifts, that have been sitting under the tree this whole month to torture Jaden, are gifts that he is gonna inccorectly think are Kimmel gifts!

Earlier this month I carefully wrapped a couple of Calvin and Hobbes books, I purchased for cheap off of ebay, put them in different sized boxes so it would throw off his guesses and put them under the tree to help build the excitement for Christmas.

And when I went to the Trackside Antique Store to look at Joel Sanda's village collection, I picked up a cheap Nutcracker. This was before J and I had time to read the book I'd checked out from the library of Hoffman's original, bizarre story. I was still under the dreamy "winter wonderland Nutcracker Sweet" impression. (See one of my favorite artists depiction of it below. We shoulda read this version... oh well.)

This is what took place:

Jaden, violently shaking the big box, with the word FRAGILE, written on it:

"This is the air hog I wanted from Wal-Mart isn't it?"

Me: Thinking up a quick Grinch-ish lie and trying to smother a smile,

"I dunnnnooo........ you'll have to just wait to open it Christmas morning!!!!"

Jaden: "I knew it!"

Well, the "warm up" Christmas present at least gave me an indication of what he really wanted. I think I'm going to have to record the look on his face Christmas morning and submit it to Kimmel with this post attached.

If there is one individual that the cosmic forces work against at Christmas time- it's Padre. This is due, in part, that he threatens and harasses Santa Claus the whole month of December.

There wasn't a holiday season in my youth that I wasn't petrified that Padre had offended Santa Claus in some way or another. He'd come home from shopping with Madre, or from work, and inform us kids that he'd seen or sent a message to St. Nick with a Grinch-ishly deceptive story.

Such as:

Santa had been accussed of shoplifting at the mall, Padre had turned him in and he was subsequently arrested and put in the IF jail with the possibility of work release.

Another story was that Santa was writing hot checks and being kept locked up til after Christmas.

Or the final desperate action that he'd be sure to keep the fire stoked on Christmas Eve to keep Santa Claus from coming down our chimney if he couldn't run him out of town first.

All us kids were as baffled as Kimmel's pranked kids and would bawl. We'd look to our exasperated Madre for help and she just shook her head in disgust. Christmas morning would come and to our relief, Santa Claus would have escaped prison, found the money to get our gifts and gotten past the traps Padre had set for him.

Can you imagine our elation?????????????????????????????????

One of our best Christmas mornings was when Santa brought a boom box-

a grey 80's Panasonic boom box,- that has since become a collectible and can be seen in MTV hip-hop videos- we'd received a decade earlier for Christmas, but had mysteriously gone missing.

Before it was resurrected and returned to the rightful, Grinch owner; it was one of Padre's well taken care of possessions. Anything belonging to him is meticulously cared for and Scroogely accounted for in the recesses of his computer-like brain. Each item is kept in collector-like status for the duration of its lifetime while under his care, and the box is preserved in a similiar fashion; mint, wedding dress preservation.

Middle brother, who has a panache for stealthy out right borrowing of Padre's treasures, exploits this quaulity in Padre. And he was the culprit who had "misplaced" the boom box during his post HS years. Before that info was uncovered, however, FBI-like questioning was leveled out on all of us children for years.


For years.

We'd be sitting at the breakfast table one morning or a family reunion and Padre would get a far off, sad look in his eye refer to the crisis.

"Where do you think that radio went? You don't remember using it, or a friend mentioning they wanted it? " Padre would ask.

We'd shrug, moan or wonder who the guilty sibling was that took the boom box.

The questioning would be systemic torture.

Did I mention this would continue like a broken record, for years?

With technology he can now use cell phones in his investigations. Padre will send mass text messages when an item comes up "missing" continuing to remind us how aggravated he is that, fill in the blank, has gone missing.

December 2011's missing item is a pair of $12.00 wool socks.

Padre has a deep affinity for his socks. They are kept as clean and neatly tucked in rows in his chest of drawers, as his white church shirts. (Actually the shirts hang in his closet beneath zip up bags from the dry cleaners. But you get the idea.)

Somehow, Madre mistakenly put them in Middle brother's things the last time he visited; thinking they were his. Middle brother lives in Island Park, rarely visits and is as easy to get ahold of as the President. He also happens to let his white lab, Emmy Lou live inside his cabin. (Padre and dogs are a whole different post. But for today you just need to know he doesn't care for dogs. Not in the house. Not in his backyard. Not looking at him. He doesn't DO dogs. Beleive me, we tried to cure him of this in our childhood and ended up sending dogs to friends, family, and the pound.)

Middle brother also likes to taunt/torture Padre with his own correspondic torture. Recently he sent a pics of his socks, laid out harmlessly on his bed.

When Padre recieved the pic of his socks on Jake's bed, his face broke out into a sweat and he turned grey. He started to choke on his toast. I thought he was coming down with the stomache flu that has been going around our house.

But it was really Jake's text, showing the beloved socks. In the days since, an ongoing text battle has ensued.

Middle brother has asked for a ransom in one text:

"Leave money in a brown paper bag on the porch."

Padre quickly pecked out: "I have a large body bag."

If you recall, or are new to this blog, or I haven't discussed this quality in him; Padre has an affinity for his socks. He takes care of them as he does his Nikon camera equipment. Because they touch his feet. Feet that have never set foot on bare ground in his entire life. At least since he went to Vietnam, where he learned to appreciate flip flops and has worn them to and from the shower ever since.

The other day J asked Papa if he'd ever walked bare foot across our kitchen floor.

He shook his head. Laughing, Jaden asked him: "Don't you wonder what it feels like?"

Another head shake.

J: "What do you think it feels like?"

Padre: "Sand paper."

Sometimes Padre will think an item has gone missing that he actually lost. When this happens he concedes the mistake but only after mass texts messages have been sent, private investigators alerted, and Madre, and anyone within the sound of his voice- long distance relatives included- have endured long hours of disgruntled complaints.He acknowledges and forgets the occurence of the mistake much like the Korean War; "meh, it happened." And he goes on as usual.

Yes, every year is a "Kimmel Christmas" in our household and the joy is now being passed down to the grandkids.

If he knew I had used the mint colored Norwex rag (the one designated for the bathroom) the other day on the kitchen counter- it would ruin his Christmas. If you read this Padre, the counter top got re-cleaned with Clorox. Twice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Recipes for the Holidays-

These are my tried and true, hand-me down holiday staples. Enjoy.

Nutcracker Cheeseball (newly dubbed in light of the bacon present in the cheeseball,the King's love of bacon, which led to poor Princess Pirlipat's disastrous facial! Pobrecita!

( Note! Original recipe from the kitchen of Nicole Marcotte Smithers, British Columbia; Runner Up for Taste of Home Magazine, 2003 Contest)

1 round loaf (1 pound) Sourdough bread

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1-1/2 (12 ounces) sour cream

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3/4 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup chopped green onions

Assorted crackers

Cut the top fourth off the loal of bread; carefully hollow out the bottom, leaving a 1- in. shell. Cut the removed bread and top of loaf into cubes; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese. (Let this set out of the fridge for 45 minutes to soften at room temp.) Add the sour cream, cheddar cheese and Worcestershire sauce until combined; stir in bacon and onions.

Spoon into bread shell. Wrap in a piece of heavy-duty foil (about 24 in. x17 in. )

Bake at 325 for 1 hour or until heated through. Serve with crackers and reserved bread cubes. And a sword in case the 7 headed Mouse King, from E.T.A Hoffman's book The Nutcracker, tries to wreck your party. Yield: 4 cups.

The next recipe I had Christmas morning at Andrea's (a friend that is basically a sister)and have done it for subsequent Christmas mornings. The smells of brown sugar all mixed together with tart apples and other yummy ingredients on Christmas Eve are a great tradtion with your kids! I know it adds to an already hectic night. But, maybe, it will help you slow down and savor the night, with those who are most important to you!

(I love you Jaden! And miss you when you are not here! Even writing down this recipe brings back memories slicing apples with you on Christmas Eve! Wherever you are, so am I. You aren't here, it isn't just isn't Christmas! It is nice, however, to get a jump on Christmas Eve)

Over Night French Toast (a.k.a. Christmas Eve French Toast)

1-1/4 C. dark or light brown sugar, packed.

3/4 C. butter

2 T. light or dark corn syrup or maple syrup

4 C. tart apples, peeled or sliced

2 T. flour

Sprinkle of Cinnamon

4 eggs

1 C. Milk

2 tsp. Vanilla

Dash of Salt

One loaf, day old French bread (or fresh- if you're pressed for time. Tried it both ways. No big deal)

In glass measuring cup mix brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Microwave uncovered 3 minutes, stirring twice. Blend to thicken. Pour into ungreased 9x13" baking pan. Spread appleas over mixture and sprinkle with flour and cinnamon. Beat eggs,, milk, vanilla,, and salt. Dip bread slices into egg mixture until well soaked. Place slices close together over apples. Pour any remaining egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator about 30 min. before baking. Bake at 350, uncovered for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and apples are soft.

Serves 6. You will want to make wayyyyyyyyyyyy more than just six. (Because everyone will come to your house and eat these since it will become TRADITIoN!) Serve on cute plates, of course!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Nutcracker

My Dickens analogy will be postponed for a couple days.

I have to post on the book, The Nutcracker. Sure it's a pretty ballet Tchaikovsky whipped up to

the bizarre story, but have you actually read E.T.A Hoffman's book? The ballet and the book

are completely different and I was shocked how down right CreEpy the book is!

Several variations of the characters are part of the ornaments we hang on the tree. But I had

deleted the story line in liue of the fact it was bizarre.

It involves some Queens (one a mouse- on the lines of Madame DeFarge-, which is scary, a bacon

loving King (and bacon loving mice) The King, whose offspring is born pretty and, oddly, a full

set of teeth, is angered when his wife allows the mice to have bacon. His bacon. A mouse curse

ensues, on account of not enough bacon for the King, and lands Pirlipat looking quite different.

At least she keeps her nice straight teeth.

She, however, is alright with her looks -seeing how she has some astromer promise the curse will

be broken when a guy, who can crack even the hardest nuts with his own exceptional teeth, comes

along and breaks it.

The Mouse Queen makes sure he doesn't undo the facial she's given Princess Pirlipat. Tough tooth

guy trips over the hideous mouse and ends up looking like the girl he was trying to transform. ----

Which petrifies her to death.

Add a girl with fits of fevers who likes to get up in the night and then listen to her Godfather

Drosselmeir fill her in on why she has creepy events happening in the middle of the night, and you

have quite the tale.

J's reaction: "What does this have to do with Christmas?" and finally: "This seems sort of violent

for Christmas...."

Turns out Hoffman wrote fantasy and horror. Which explains the down right weird things that

happen. It truly is something you would dream about one night with a fever. Or several nights with

one. Thanfully the ballet is very different.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Grizzly in Lucie

(Felt: a medium for moments while on prednisone. However, the post isn't drizzled in the drug. No, it is the raw cog turning of my brain. Enjoy!)

"It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times"

This Dickens quote comes from: A Tale of Two Cities. A title that even reflects the polar themes therein.

On one occasion, when Madame DeFarge descends upon Lucie and her child, with an enlisted mob to join her in her evil plans to destroy the offspring of Doctor Manette's daughter and the daughter herself,

Lucie instinctively kneels down on the ground, draws the child to her breast and protects her. DeFarge could seemingly smother the two in a short period of time because of Lucie's innocence and timid nature but Lucie stops her. She deflects DeFarges advances and attempts at annihilating her being.

One online forum on the characters, that I read the other night, says that Lucie is hardly the "personality to start a revolution".

I disagree.

Despite the daintiness of Lucie, inside she carries a strength that has power to deflect DeFarge;
inside she has the strength of a Female Grizzly protecting her young. And you don't want to mess with a Grizzly bear. She isn't weak. Her power is like the Snake River's undercurrent. Peaceful calm up top, turning strength beneath. That's why mothers and women are so powerful. Not weak.

The basketball court in the gym of the HS I attended, has a sweet picture of a Grizzly Bear tearing through the floor boards. I have mentioned this before in a post some time back. But I love the depiction of this in my mind when I feel the strength come over me to accomplish what I need to accomplish in my life for my son, and for myself. As a woman placed here on this earth, at this time. Sure there are times when my talents "stay beneath the surface."

I love when those moments come that I am able to defeat the obstacles in my path, rise up over adversity and rule over the events in my life- even with little to no reserves. -

When that strength is somehow tapped from somewhere else besides me, it feels incredibly powerful. Like the times I played sports; when all the practices and effort combined with a season well under way when I had achieved optimal endurance and my team was in sync with each other like one big heartbeat.

-- It is then that I feel like that grizzly tearing through floor boards like at Skyline High. Even as I am encapsulated in a "weak" frame like Lucie's; swallowed up in illness and the binding side-effects of meds, somehow I am endowed with ability that rips through it, shines past it and causes my soul to rise up and above, beyond all physical limitations- even death.

Women do possess the unequivocal power to exact a rising. For good or evil, mind you. (Recall DeF arge.)

Of course it doesn't feel like it when you are cleaning up throw up, sweeping the same linoleum for the 10th million time of your life, filling the sink with water to hand wash magically appearing dishes when there are state of the art dishwashers at Sears, all while simultaneously switching out laundry in a faraway location. (Think of Dr. Suess-like houses where the bathroom or laundry room are at opposite ends of each other.)

And that is what DeF arge wants us to feel; that she can overpower. So Look. Out. SHE is the one dominating the stage of life and is ready to duel if you so much as step out of your mind frame that you are more than just a maid and taxi driver and attempt to challenge her.

If you are like me, it is easier to battle when you know who your opponent is. It isn't your religion, your spouse, your nation or: fill in the blank, that is keeping you "down". But good 'ol Lucifer who barges into your life with his lies about who you are and what you can become. Lies that are so powerful; he can quite literally push you onto your back and force you to lie down- if you let him.

Circumstances, that, yes, we make by our choices- But that we aren't limited to if we can remember Christ and the redemption that can come through Him if we choose. More on that later...

Sometimes when I talk with my friends we bemoan "what could have been" had motherhood, or womanhood for that matter, entered into our life and put us at the bottom before the race even started. But that kind of talk is like a turtle spinning on its shell; fruitless.

Like Lucie our lives are actually quietly grinding a mark in mankind and making the most remarkable difference of all. Despite the generic-ness of the role.

True there are no rewards handed out, promotions given that acknowledge our hard work and gives us a tangible, even monetary, compensation for our effort. We need to keep up the mental accolades if we are going to remember who we are.

Recently I spoke with an individual that commented that women didn't need to "choose" a profession. And in that we were lucky. The comment wasn't necessarily well thought through and was simply a blanket statement assessed while attending a certain LDS University. Which does make me chuckle.

I admit that I had "that mentality" growing up, as well. In HS, when the career counselors were desperately trying to get us thinking about a career, I was pulling a blank and thinking: "But I just want to be a mom...." and then filled out all the college apps, scholarship and financial aide forms in the hopes that a career would manifest itself to me.

But, yeh, if I am to be completely honest, in the back of my mind I was relying on the "safety" that my boyfriend and (my male counter parts) at the time was pretty smart and knew what he was gonna be. And that was the safety net.

It wasn't my religion, but my need to grow and find out what it was I loved- and translate that into a career- that made me choose Child Development classes as a default at Ricks college.

He made a good point about the women in our faith, and possibly in general, not taking "the bull by the horns" and obtaining the skills necessary to compete in today's world. And we women need to take note and teach our kids the invaluable need for education. (See

Thankfully, the school of hard knocks made up what for what I couldn't obtain through formal education and faulty thinking in the beginning.

As that comment has sifted through my brain and my heart in the weeks since hearing it, I concluded that most women did in fact choose her "main" career- before we set foot here on earth. A difficult decision in an earlier time, that had earthly ramifications set in motion even before we got here. Which took courage. (PS- thanks for saying it to me. It has made me reflect..)

When we choose the "secondary career" it is, at times and for some, in direct conflict with our very nature. It can be a difficult but necessary decision in this day and age, but can be another selfless sacrifice we can choose to help mankind. That said, it doesn't mean we can't work outside the home and be mothers. In fact, today in many cases, it is necessary. But we CAN choose whether we will take on Lucie qualities or DeFarge ambitions as we multi-task those two roles.

I do believe we had a choice before coming here that we would be a mother, or mother, and that choice designates whether we create in a manner that breathes life or we knit a death sentence like DeFarge.

** I feel really sorry for English teachers in this day and age. If you are a kid writing a paper and getting ideas off my posts, you are one lucky smhuck. Someday, I encourage you to actually take the time to read the book. You will be glad you did!

(These pictures were illustrated by Hablot Browne, Dickens longstanding illustrator-23- years, whom he let go after these pictures were done for A Tale of Two Cities. It was believed that he was let go because the illustrations didn't fit his darker, more serious, later novels." (David Perdue's Charles Dickens. Charles Dicken' I feel they capture the nature of Lucie. But agree, wholeheartedly, that they don't portray DeFarge and the other dark aspects of the book, at all.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lovely Lucie

(The Traditional Gma Waffle Cookies)

Lucie is proving to be a much more difficult topic to write about than DeFarge. I think because I am trying to do it justice in my mind- and I don't think I can. I have to somehow encapsulate Christ.

It is interesting how sometimes the act of writing just flows; words come with ease and before you know, you have written a paper. Or book.

It is more than just writer's block that I can suffer from. More like writer's BlaCk HoLe. I get sucked into it and can't find a way to even start a sentence, much less a paragraph.

So here are my thoughts on Lucie: Her Dad was really grateful for her and her husband, amazed at her ability to affect so many others, said in awe:

"What is the magic secret, my darling, of your being everything to all of us, as if there were only one of us, yet never seeming to be hurried, or too have to much to do?"

(Part of that secret had to be that she didn't live in the time of technology, : ) Actually, I believe that despite this being a much crazier age, we can still be that calm in the center of the storm. Regardless her talents, love, and work were multiplied.

Once I read an article comparing a mother to the Sun. (Church News. Some years back)You don't notice the sun much and take for granted its existence unless something impedes its ability to touch you. It's light touches everything. Like breathing and your heartbeat, it carries on with its duties in a consistent, reliable manner.

When I can't keep up on the everyday routine of our lives like making good food to eat for a meal, keeping the laundry going, dishes washed and overall order to our lives- it causes chaos and disrupts, not just my life, but everyone's in the house.

Okay, I am realizing my writer's BlaCk HoLe is actually illness. When you don't feel good your brain hurts to think. Because the cells are very busy doing other things. Like asking one another if they have what is needed to make all the processes of living happen. And they have to tell one cell the same story, their flat broke. And so this causes writer's block.

It is dicrouraging to not be able to do the things necessary. Or at least do them in relative well-being. When I get to the end of a day and realize:

"Wow. All I did was dishes. That took it out of me."

It's pretty sad. But I feel that even that act is important, it has meaning for my family when I can create a clean spot for them to come to each day. And in that sense I am the tip of the sword. No matter if I get on here and do what I love.

But I do want to finish this project of Lucie especially as the holiday nears. For whatever reasons it is important for me to record my thoughts and "leave a trace". I feel that the words will come, if I let them. In their due time they will come and I will have the opportunity to say to what I want to say. That the things I'd like to get done will get done in a miraculous way.

Just have to wait for the right moment. I hope God bookmarks these thoughts I have had and let's me come back to them when I can translate it to words and put it on paper.

For now I listen to the play list at wendyandpals.blogspot- thanks, WEndy. I come into the coolest people. That is one thing this blimey illness gives me. Which when I think of it, I'd rather have friend than money, health or whatever this world offers.

***I think that the nauseau medicine, Zofran, is on par with Frankincense and Myrrh. Had there been a 4th Wise Man, he'd have brought Zofran to Mary. Thank you, Santa, for this early Christmas gift!

Two Cities Part II

I can't stop thinking about Madame DeFarge.

In trying to figure out why exactly that is and what makes her so memorable, it has driven my thoughts deeper than they have ever gone while reading The Tale of Two Cities.

Thanks to the flu, sleep was interrupted tonight. But with that time up and cleaning up, I was able to pin point the significance of the Madame.

She is a She Demon. Dickens drew another powerful paradox by taking and putting all those horrible qualities and putting them into the character a woman. A woman should conjure up feelings that are of a soft nature, kind, nurturing; the epitome of all things created. But when you put the unquenching fire of hate and vengeance in a woman.. then you are really, truly in trouble. Because a woman can exact more destruction than man alone. Her power is beyond a man's influence in her ability to affect future generations at the moment of conception....

And it makes sense that when I just googled the word VENGEANCE, the antonym is FORGIVENESS. Of course.

I sat in bed tonight, not able to sleep- not because of prednisone, pain or even pure fatigue, but thinking about Doctor Manette, his daughter, Lucie and of course Madame F. (shudder)

Why did Dickens not tell why or what
Doctor Manette did that landed him in the tower, in solitary confinement for 20 years? Because it doesn't matter. The punishment, in the form of torture was paid for by the human. Who was reduced to something lesser than even an animal. Because animals at least have the ability to find pleasure in their freedom. Not Manette. No, he became a machine that cobbled shoes repetitively to bury the pain of no interaction with mankind, save the person who brought him his food.

There is always a moment when you can choose to build and give life, forgiveness or any other Lucie characteristic which is the essence of the "milk of human kindness" or prescribe to Madame DeFarge avengement. No matter how seemingly another person deserves it, the moment you do choose that road of an eye for an eye, Satan has you. Because really DeFarge is Satan.

And just as I wrote that it is becoming clear. Why it is DeFarge bullies her way in front of all the other beautiful things of that book for me when I try to imagine the storyline. I can't see all the loveliness of it until I work through that soulless being. Which is exactly the human predicament, what I, myself have to work through before I can become the best me.

I have to sort through whether I will choose to be a "creator" or a destroyer- every day. I hope this is not coming off femi-natzi against man. The bold statement I am making in saying a woman has more "power" over a man. But I think Dickens made the same ascertation when he made the character DeFarge. And P.S. I am capitilizing the F on purpose.. One capital in that name just doesn't do.

I think it is an honor to be a woman, really. To be the gender that symbolizes the life the Savior brought to mankind not just physically, but spiritually. And when I don't live up to that mantel, dishonor life by destroying it through whatever ways and means possible- which are a few when you think about it- then I am in essence betraying the Atonement.

This is very deep. I will stop there. I hesitated to write these musings on here, but it is what I am thinking about tonight. And I am realizing where my battle has been and thinking about the times when I have been Madame DeFarge. Gulp.

That is the hardest thing to have to imagine. It's one thing to see her barreling down the road toward Lucie with her young child, amassing mobs together to assist in blotting out mankind and quite another to allow her to slip into my being and then carry out her agenda for her. Horrible. The story could aptly have been called: The Tale of Two Souls.
. Except does Lucifer even have a soul? ugh. Gives me the shivers.

My next blog will be about Lucie; the embodiment of Forgiveness and Jesus Christ-Because it is Christmas....

I want to get that feeling back. Without it, this month is cold and dark and hopeless. I don't care what month He was technically born. The fact we get to celebrate it this month gives a lot of meaning. This little reflection tonight helped me make another analogy of why we celebrate it in the last, most dark part of the year.

Okay, whoa. Even I am getting too serious for myself tonight and this last part is getting pretty preachy. I will stop and hope that whatever it is J has, skips me. Doubtful. But I can hope. By the way, the html issue of how my posts were posting is under Settings and then Options. The html needs to be shown literally. So click that tab and the click Press Enter for line breaks. For any other unbeknownst bloggers who changed to the new interface.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Madame DeFarge

We need a good snowstorm in order to have a white Christmas. Dead grass can still be seen amidst the crusted snow patches on the lawns. When I complained about this to J the other day he reminded me: "Mom, it's only BEGINNING to look a lot like Christmas. Ya have to give it some time to actually LOOK like Christmas." 'O little wise man. I picked up one of my fav. books recently: A Tale of Two Cities. The beginning of the book, with its dark shadows seems to epitome the somberness of cold winter evenings. Even if I can't read it intensely right now, or expect to finish it before Christmas, the memories from it are stoked simply by podering its contents. Without exception when the book comes to mind I am bound to initially think of Madame DeFarge. It isn't the exceptional mothering of sweet Lucie rehabing her father who has been in solitary confinement up in a tower making shoes for a couple decades. Or even the pompous lawyer, in love with Lucie, battling alcoholism and jealousy toward her perfect husband; eventually overcoming all these things to do the most selfless act of love by the end of the book. Yes, all these personalities make the story and supply me many wonderful parallels to life. But Madame DeFarge CRUSHES these characters' chance of being the first to be thought of. Her dominating persona ensures that the other characters come secondary in my mind when I recall the book. It is her that I must first think through before I can enoy the others. Which is quite a testament to Dicken's ability to write. Madame DeFarge appears in my mind in the same manner every time: exiting a pub and crossing a cobbled dirt road. Toward whatever it is she is after, the large, buxom woman moves hastily- her skirt swishes out of the way of her vengeful agenda. She narrows in on her prey with steely cold, laser-like precision. Even in crossing the landscape of my mind, she accomplishes her same goal in the book. No modern warfare technology can compete with Madame DeFarge's ability to annhilate what she deems unworthy to continue on in life. She is never empty handed. Or if she is empty handed you are aware that she has knitting kneedles somewhere ready to whip out and viciously create something. Which is quite the contrary activity you'd imagine someone of her nature doing. Knitting. Knitting is for nice people, warm cozy people. A calming, mothering/grandmothering activity. That produces dish rags and afghans you put over you when you are sick or cold and it warms you up. Knitting is all the soft and pretty different kinds of wool wound round spools in a shop downtown. NOT the sort of thing that would be connected with Madame DeFarge. Which is the exact sickening feeling Dickens is able to stymy us with in his book. A cruel, unrelenting bully of a person knitting while others squirmed and shrunk from her evil glance. But Madame DeFarge is larger in life than just herself. She can't exist in your mind as a solitary person with likes and dislikes, friends and hobbies. No, she is more. If Hitler himself had been able to pick up knitting needles, it would have not even reached the culminating evil that is Madame DeFarge. Ugh. Once Madame DeFarge crosses the road, knits while watching those sentenced to the Guillitine, then, only THEN can Carlton's ride in the cart staring into the eyes of the innocent and petrifiedyoung woman, doomed to the same fate, surrounded by all the noise and chaos, yet cocooned in calm and peace, enter into my mind. Dickens is brillaint. I think of him a lot when I take walks outside and try to imagine him weaving through London during the night, surrounded by dank fog. Witnessing the plight of the poor. Experiencing their plight. Did he wonder the same things I wonder? Like how to make a living, his family and their circumstances, the political nature at the time and what was to come? Did he realize the difference he could make? Did he know that his talent could create stories that would be so memorable and timeless that even one of his characters could become so large she seizes the stage of mankind and can only be compared to an evil that enters into the hearts of man? He was brillaint. Of course he knew. I love to re-read Dickens. Go get A Tale of Two Cities. His sense of humor is endearing and makes these larger than life characters easier to swallow!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Whenever I come completely off prednisone, I feel like the part in Cinderella, when the clock has struck midnight and the carriage turns into a pumpkin, her beautiful dress is transformed back into rags and she now is afoot to get home.
  Prednisone is like a fairy godmother,
    it gives you all the abilities to accomplish your goals. No matter how many times I've been "left in the road in the middle of the night after a great night of dancing",
I can't approach and endure the time on it any differently. I go about making all of the things happen in my life that I WANT to happen. And with out fail I sit in the middle of all the mess at the end, after the dream is up, in a perplexed fashion.
  Being able to be up doing things like driving kids to practice, attending basketball games and even getting ready for the day, can be taken for granted. Being able to have a meaningful conversation with a friend, get onto your email account or blog and figure out why it isn't posting like it should are all activities that prednisone magically makes easy in your life.
  At least at first. Like Cinderella's night on the town, it is a short lived moment. And, unfortunately, no one comes later to tell you it actually can become real-if the slipper fits. The nightmare begins when you have been on it too long. The aches slowly creep into your bones and suck the marrow out of them. Literally.
  The adrenal gland is acting more like Snow White- goes to sleep while prednisone makes everything happen, and is rudely awakened to a bigger job than before. Trying to get up to speed and 'equilibrate' is a nightmare.
You'd think you could sleep like a baby when you haven't slept for days- but you are beyond sleep. I can sit wide eyed reading Shingles forums into the night trying to figure out an answer to the problem.
Or crying over other blogs.
 (A good one is but only go there if you want a good healthy cry.) I sat by the tree last night, glad for the comfort of Christmas lights and village lit up in the darkness.
 Believe me, I am grateful for the fact I have parents that have stayed together, work hard and believe in family. They are a testament to why the family unit is so important. **last night I actually got some sleep. I still need to post about The Villages this month. Stay tuned because it's a neat story. And I putting some sweet recipes on here. I think about good food when times are tough. Odd. I know.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Call of The Wild

I misprinted Jack London's book in my earlier post. 'Slips' that happen late at night. I confused it with Into the Wild. Read the one about the dog. The above decoration is made with a large brown pom pom, smaller on for the nose. It is for Abby's gift. Replica of her Blue Tick Hound Dog, Sonny. Jaden helped make it. They are easy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Spirit

I love when the Christmas spirit comes unexpectedly. At the beginning of each December I

anticipate it and hope that I will feel it again. But like the seasons, I too seem to be nearing

the cold, harsh part of hope and so I initially wonder: "Will I feel it this year?" I don't

know if it is the Idaho weather that makes me go into that kind of state or if it is a natural

cycle that we all go through that only Christmas can satisfy. All I know is a surrender has to

proceed it. And sometimes that is hard. Really hard. The decorations go up, I start listening

to the music and think of gifts to give; yet that familiar feeling doesn't automatically happen.

It isn't until I get down on 'Little Drummer Boy' status that I can tap into the true meaning of

Christmas, look outward instead of inward, and allow God to carve out the space needed inside me

for Him to fill. And often it is really painful. Because there is always deep wanting to

overcome. -The aching I feel for whatever it is in my life that only the birth of the Savior can

satisfy. But when it comes! It is so worth it. Simple things like the sun shining becomes enough.

The needs melt away and you are left with an appreciation for life and what you have. And,

finally, when that moment the spirit of Christmas surprises you, hope is restored. And all the

twinkling lights around town and on the tree signify it. But it amazes me how you have to fight

to get it back because it doesn't stay. I was glad to have felt it the other day in a

conversation. About religion. Before the conversation took place I had been slow getting ready for

the day. A long, painful night had proceded it. I looked down and noticed the dust accumulating on

my bureau. so I found a rag, knelt down and clean it off. I carefully removed all the items,

dusted my typewriter, shook the doilies off, and finally ran the soft cloth over the picture frames

of my son as a baby. In front of one was a current smaller picture taken over at the school. This

tid bit comes into play later in the post. The conversation was concerning celebrating Christmas

at all. The holiday in general. The person posed to me that Christ is a King, that in her religion

they didn't dwell on Christ as a Baby. She gave an analogy of not putting on a diaper or handing

me a bottle, that those things were done away, now that we were adults. My mind went back to

dusting the pictures of my son and I shared that with the person. It wasn't a dramatic,

clandestine experience. Just a sweet, peaceful feeling that filled the empty space in me with joy.

A gratitude to be able to celebrate His birth at this time of year, no matter when He was born

washed over me. When I looked at the Christmas decorations
my parents have accrued, the villages, manger/nativity the boughs hung on the mantel fireplace, I

was so glad for the holiday. The symbolism in all of the traditions, that I have to consciously

keep in balance, all point toward Christ's birth. I am glad for the freedom to keep them in

balance and believe in Santa Claus. My favorite is the fact that God's gift to me, in addition to

His Son, is all He has. Can you imagine? I can't. And I have to remind myself of it. Even the

anticipation of opening gifts reminds me of the big surprise he has in store for me. (and you) I

need to think about that aspect more. It makes this part, here, on earth worth it. But I don't

think it is necessarily reserved for then either. It (the enjoyment) can happen now. Since that

conversation, Christmas has had full sway. Tender mercies are abundant. One evening I was across

town past my point of abilities and yet I was able to endure.-My head bobbled calmly down 17th

street, in 5 o' clock traffic while the Carpenters sang: There's No Place Like Home for the

Holidays. I am grateful to have those small miracles each day. Even the aspect of what book

Jaden and I read is a treat.(I recommend The Cricket in Times Square and The Call of the Wild by Jack London for this month! And of course anything Dickens.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santa and Mrs. Claus

My neighbors look identical to The Claus' up north.

At the end of each summer 'Santa'begins to grow out his white beard just in time for the holidays and his wife, of course, simply wore her beautiful snow white hair in the usual done up way.

The two of them have costumes to wear around this time of year. Not cheesy, mall type Santa Claus outfits, but real white fur outlining just the right red colored suit for Santa. A black leather belt with a nice gold buckle. I have no idea where he got the charcoal boots but they are perfect. He even had a matching soft velvet sack. Mrs. Claus wears a green velvet skirt, white shirt and with her milky white complexion and rosy cheeks, she looks as cute as a gingerbread cookie.

They are the real deal. However, this year is different because Mrs. Claus has cancer.

We have gotten used to not seeing them because they had been gone on a mission. But after they had returned home the cancer took over within a short time. You don't expect that sort of thing- I guess I don't. They had been healthy, had served and you simply expect that you get some sort of temporal reward. Not cancer. It seems unfair. Although I know God has his reasons it is still difficult to understand.

It is even more difficult to know what to say to people, or do when they experience something so huge and you want to somehow bare their burden with them. Alleviate the pain somehow. But often the only thing you end up doing is thinking about them. Praying of course. But mainly wondering a lot. At least I do.

When my son mowed the lawn, I felt bad because I knew that the noise hurt her body. So in the uncertainty of NOT knowing what to do, I seemed to back off with my interactions. Whenever they would be out going to Dr.s appts. my initial reaction was to run up to her and talk but I figured that would make her tired so I settled with a wave and almost felt guilty for it.

Odd, isn't it? Maybe it is simply a way for reverencing life? I'm not sure.

Now her time is becoming shorter, and it is a special time of year, especially for the two of them, I am remembering the things that I wanted to say to her and they seem to pile up along with the lump in my throat. Whether in a letter or in person and am kicking myself for not saying so- sooner.

One experience was from the month of June when one little girl on J's baseball team, who barely could hold a bat, hit the ball. She came from a difficult situation and to see that made me simply think of hope and it epitomized life. She was ecstatic and so was I that she hit the ball! For some reason I had made a mental note to share this with Mrs. Claus thinking it would bring a smile to her face. But I didn't.

For myself, it seemed important to know that life continued in a joyous way just as simultaneously as the winding down moments in others' lives. That the cycle was repetitive and continues. Life doesn't end with death and either does that joy. Maybe Mrs. Clause already knows this.

I want to hug my neighbor and thank her for the talks over the fence while I weeded my garden, her bright cheery laughter and advice for me when I had concerns about Jaden. I want her to know that we will take care of Santa for her when he needs a good homemade chili or the Rhubarb juice that I made up a few summers ago and shared with them that they liked so much.

The vision of them both dressed up as the Claus will stick with me and Jaden throughout our lives. They brought a lot of memories. But another image that will stick with me, or does so more right now, is that of him taking care of her.

On some of my walks I would look up into the window when I passed by their house. to see how she was doing. They left the curtains open, always had a warm glowing light from the lamp on and you could see Mrs. Claus on the couch, Santa close by in his recliner. This was always comforting to me. That even though something as scary as cancer, losing your hair and death could be bound up in love.

That is how it is supposed to be in life- that we take care of one another. And I hope I can remember that.

Friday, December 2, 2011

BEWARE-ness Week

Well, I found out that the Senate passed a new week for December.. the 1-7 is now "Crohns and Colitis Awareness Week". I told J.

"So does that mean we need to get away from you guys or something and beware of you?" he asked sincerely. He'd just seen a Beware of Dog sign that must have prompted the misunderstanding. I tried to explain it. "Do they hate you?"

I laughed. "If I'm on prednisone, maybe they ought to 'beware'. I tried to explain more.

"What, I have to get you a present or something?"


The above pom poms are super cute, I had to put them on this post.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Who's Herod?

"Who's Herod in this play?" Claude Herdman

Gladys Herdman: "Uh, Herod isn't in this play."

Leroy Herdman: "You mean he's out to kill the baby, and he isn't even in the play?"

Oh, my. J and I laughed pretty hard at the scene The Herdman family conjures up during this holiday time as we read: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I see them slamming the garage door up and down on each other, their hair arranged like a rat's nest, and Imogene Herdman playing Mary in her hiking boots, newly pierced ears and smoking a cigar in the ladies room. Which the church members thought was a fire due to all the smoke. Which is what happened tonight when I realized more late than soon in the game that I failed to pull the flew open...

I simultaneously called Padre at a Christmas party to give him a "heads up" that smoke was rolling out into the living room and NOT up the chimney but not to be alarmed.

I quickly did some calculations on how fast it would leave soot on all the Christmas decorations, had J open the front door and turn on the fan. The padres came home fast, surmised the situation, and left for McD's or something.

When they asked about the fire later on, I said: "What fire?" as casually as I could.

"I sort of thought you recalled how to do that." Padre commented.

I thought I did, too.

Apparently the little latch on the right of the fireplace wasn't connected to the flew. Lesson quickly learned. So much for recreating cozy atmosphere from the other night. Isn't how it is? When you try, it fudges. When you let it happen...

I tucked J in tonight and we lamented about our day. It was a tough one. Besides the lingering smell of smoke in the house, school had gotten out early, friends couldn't play, and he had to go to bball. Which he usually is up for, but today he wanted to do other things- like play bball games, not practice.

Later he confessed he'd ditched the drill part by hanging out dribbling in the racquetball court next to the gym. nice.

I found this out right before parent teacher conference. It must have been a primer.

"I've been in hot water all day." he said matter of fact.

"Me, too." I replied and before I knew it, he was out.

I had to hug him extra tight and laugh at the newspaper print smudge on his nose still from the fire incident. Feeling like a Herdman I had to really wonder if I was stranded in the woods,I could get a fire going. Three days worth of newspapers, a couple of logs from the neighbors, that were dry as a bone, and... nothing.

Granted air helps. But still..... Sigh.

At least Madre's Christmas village isn't smudged over in soot, our house is still intact, and we made it through December 1. 24 more days to go.

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