Saturday, June 23, 2012


This rock hard baseball has been sitting by the TV for at least a few days. Grandkids have come and visited.
Padre has watched his nightly Glenn Beck on Roku and must have seen it.
We've all been in the living room, seen it and no one, to my knowledge, has moved it.
Today I had to laugh that we have left it there like a bowl of candy for one of the kids to pick up and nail into the TV.

J's last game was a week ago and I don't know if it got pulled from his bag by a grandkid, set there by him, or what.

As if it were signed by Babe Ruth and
had to occupy a special place in the front room, there it has sat.


Today I picked it up, relieved none of the kids drove it into the china on the wall, a lamp or the
window. And of course had to take a picture becaue of the hilarity of
it all.

I also finally picked up J's dusty baseball cap that had been sitting on the nice,
embroidered piano bench since last Saturday as well. 

That item was consciously left on purpose- and I think I even had the Padre's go ahead to leave
the ball cap right where it was

cause it is J's and he is outta town.

Having it right there was akin to having my blooming Peonies out on display-
they both bring a smile to my face. Had he been home, it would have been different. He'd have been told to put it away- and to not put it there in the first place!


We have a coat/hat rack right by the door.

However, I wasn't home when he put it there and I wondered if he sat down on Mom's good bench in his
dusty baseball pants before he left and then left it there- or what.

Either way, 

It wasn't until Wed., when I got home, that I was able to follow the trail to his room of him dissassembling his baseball uniform to, and through out, his bedroom.

I should say THREW out his bedroom because that's what kind of haste the whole ordeal looked like when I entered his room; sport gear everywhere.

 Believe me, we have had the "post game taking care of uniform/gear conversation many times.
But it's different when you have to bolt to another state, prepare to get outta town without me there to have made the finishing touches on his suitcase.

In the days since,  I have located sock matches and, with his jerseys, they all made it into the dark navy wash today and tucked away ready for another ball day.

Or until one of his cousins sneeks into his room and pulls some bats, balls, and other tempting items out of his gear and comes up swinging.

I bet Padre loves this. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blogging: Today's Joy Luck Club

The book: The Joy Luck Club has been on my list of need to read in my lifetime for only 7 years. Finally, I friend picked it up for me and I started yesterday.

Yes, it's name implied an Asian theme and I  knew from looks on people's faces that had read it that it was "deeply" moving and talked about their struggles- but from there I didn't have any idea.

I pictured Chinatown in CA, some rickshaws, fireworks and bright colors but nothing more from there.


Whilst hand watering the dry patch out back, I opened the book jacket and read the line that hooked me; "..Amy Tan writes about what is lost- over the years, between generations, among friends, and what is saved."

Then the ball was hit out of the park with a review on the back that had to do with "the mystery of the mother daughther-bond". I was "in".

So I started. The reading was a little harder than Chinese Cinderella, in that I have to think more to mentally digest it and, well, we all know I don't digest and when I can't, the mental digesting of food gets hard, too.

But I learned that the club was basically a group of friends, that despite horrible circumstances in their lives- the Japanese are only going to descend upon them and they have their backs up to the Mountains with a concoction of all different ethnicities, social classes, etc.- they meet to play this game.

It isn't the game but the time together that is the key. The time they have to: "say stories" and what these women can draw from that time together hearing these stories. The methodical rolling of the dice, counting up the numbers, making the food and preparing their home for the game all adds to the ritual of sharing life.

Which made me think this is why I blog. There really is no other reason other than to "say stories" and I enjoy seeing others "stories on here".  And sometimes it can get right down religious!

The book is good- there are the daughter's points of view and the mothers. I found that reading each woman's story, then going to the chapter that is her daughter helped my brain keep the first couple women straight.

Blogging about Madre doesn't happen as often on here as Padre not because there is little to say about her. On the contrary. I just like to poke fun at my Dad- but she like Amy Tan says in her book is in the "bones" and very thread of me.

Every sentence, word and beauty that I have derived from life has emanated, somehow, through and because of, her. It's interesting and I think you'll see that in the book, and your own life how that can happen even if we seemingly are not "close" to our mothers. They are there in the very marrow of our bones!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chicken Shy and Garden Inventory

The last few weeks have been like this bird- minus the head.
End of school activities, school ENDING
sports camps.

Camping! (thank you ward/father's campout that didn't entail me!)
Before all the mayheim, or during it I was sitting in church thinking that I needed to somehow mark the moment, knowing that this summer would fly by in a blink
and J would be grown up or something.

I scribbled a note to him:
"We should measure you today and then at the end of the summer
to see how much you grow!"

He replied: "Good idea! We should measure you, too!"
He obviously isn't aware that we will need different measuring tools to record
the difference for


This bird has to be included into today's feelings. When I was taking tabby photos, this was the only one of my sister's hens that did not want to see what I was up to. She stayed aloof and at a safe distance from my camera.

In my mind she is the most beautiful and I wish she wouldn've come closer.
She most be suffering from some PTSD from the last raid on the chicken coop
some months ago or it is her breed. The feathers on her look black from a distance,
but are really a blue color.

I wish I could've captured it on film and that this blog could portray it becaue it is so

Anyway, since I have been away I had to do an inventory of my garden.

Padre's- mine; same thing.  

The snails are eating my flower's leaves. That will have to be remedied.
And there is simply no way to tell if some of the weeds are plants and you'd need a pair of tweezers, so it can wait while I read this book:

(thanks for the referall, dental hygiene gal friend)

get some strength back.

It felt so good to slip off my shoes and walk through the lush parts of the grass, place the weathered weave lawn chair out
and feel the growing going on in my back yard.

It actually warmed up, the wind died down to where the cool breeze and the greenery from the garden, and grass emanated in the late afternoon heat.

The only thing lacking was lemon aide and kids running through a sprinkler!

I had to move my chair around to enjoy different views of my garden, and to water the dry spots of

grass by hand.

Did I just admit that? Yes, I did.

It's highly relaxing and I suggest it to anyone, whether old or no. And drink prune juice.
(I love that I have one left over from the hospital cracked open there on the table)

These pics seem washed out. So I will leave a few more and close.

I had to pluck a few weeds and make sure the unsown parts of the garden trails are still marked.
After the 70 mph winds, I thought these rocks woul've been in the nieghbor's yard, or something.

And the A Trellis.
So the weeds have something to entwine themselves around.



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Be Here Now

The mood I had yesterday somewhat subsided as I took a handful of Rhubarb leaves to the garbages on the south side of the house. As I opened the chain link gate, I noticed the Peonies had suddenly blossomed.

The day before I walked by them and they were buds.... But today they had burst open!
It startled me that it could change so quickly.

Suddenly, I felt bad for being such a sore complainer. Those peonies seemed just for me.

So I put the elephant ear leaves into the garbages that the Peonies seem to want to wrap around and hug- and started to cut them for vases indoors.

And then I remembered a part in Lucy Grealy's book.

(Finally, after years of surgery, bone is crushed and formed into almost half of the jaw she was missing,)

She was using the bathroom before going in for her injection of chemo and there was a stall that had chiseled into the metal door hook the words: Be Here Now. The other bathroom had scratched into its door:

"God is Near".

Lucy would pick which door to enter depending on what she needed to feel that day. Most of the
time she went into the stall stating:

Be here Now.

I wondered if the writer/engraver had meant: "God be here now," or if it simply was a reminder; "Be in this moment, right now. No matter how painful. Take it all in. Be aware.

Lucy, like many of us, was always looking
forward to the next thing;
in her case it was a surgery that would take away the painful face that she
always identified with as the cause of her "pain" in

And formed her identity.

But I liked the thought of keeping in the present and
hoping that God was near-even if
I wasn't aware.

The last few sprigs of Rhubarb were enough for
Rhubarb Slush.
Which went great with Swiss Chicken and Stove Topping crumbles.

J. biffed it on his bike- getting the first of many huge scrapes of the summer
and even his game was rained out.

Now that dinner is over,
the sun

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

One of those "Ranting about Illness" Mornings

It's what I just said up there. I am rotating a heating pad from by back, neck, stomache, sides and butt. And letting J. sleep so I can just be. I'd had plans to teach him the real way of cleaning toilets and hit some scout achievement activities- but I am scratching them today. It's summer for cryin' out loud!

Truth is this:

The transistion from one chemo med (low dose) to an "anti organ rejection" drug to help with an auto-immune disease, in just a few short days, is a downer.  I went to semi-okay. To not okay.
And that isn't okay with me. I don't like it. I have things to do. Food I WANT to eat. I've planted a whole garden of stuff that I will have to blend on pulse for 10 minutes and hope that some of it absorbs into my body.

Last night, while enduring pain from eating throughout the day or a reaction to Cyclosporine, I read some of Nelson Mandela's auto-bio. The Long Walk to Freedom. After watching the movie Invictus I was reminded that The Torment (big bro. ) had suggested it [the book] to me a year ago.

The movie made me cry at points. And not just because of Matt Damon's cool accent and Rugby players strength and muscle. It was a well made movie and I don't care about all the politics- I just saw a man who spent 27 years in jail work with the Cappie of the South African team and... it was beautiful. When they went out to play with the township children with hardly any clothes. Who'd played soccer but when they saw the black Chester--- they all jumped around these men.

So I read a few pages of the book last night.

Then I slept.

I woke up in pain and sat there waiting for the strength to get out of bed- when the urge "to go" got me out of bed faster than.... something. Can't think of anything clever right there.

Flushed and exhausted from that ride, I went upstairs and surmised the pills. The different colors. Even on the same pill;
Turquise and blue
powdery white
pure white
round white

With their little numbers and letters indented on them or printed so I know what I am taking. Or a chemist knows.

The act of actually taking what is making me nauseas and whatever, makes it ironic. I am sick. But I am making myself more sick so I can get better.

 And apparently opening myself up to side effects that can cause some hair in unwanted places, and a host of other things. (Please know this is not a plea for herbal remedies.- Tried it, almost died. And I have found that not eating or drinking takes away all painful symptoms until dehydration sets in.

Eating my Rice chex I garnered the strength to swallow the poison and went back downstairs.

I wrote an email to Dr. Kathleen Boynton, at the U. of U. hospital, as I let an anti-nausea med dissolve under my tongue. I hope she write back- soon. Even her empathy is half way healing. We all are in this and have huge question marks about it all. That only some of us have to do the trials or whatever and find out what works. Create a path. Scratch out others.

Where are the pharm companies? Who can I write to either thank or give pleas to? Is there one guy at the head of all this "healing" that waves a magic wand on what is made or what money is designated for what illness? Do the scientists really care about finding the gene or whatever that will fix this prob, or is it a goal that will fulfill the wish of a lifetime for them to win some medal or Nobel Prize?

Kathleen is

 One of the best Dr.s.

She listens.

I can call her Kathleen. We email each other. About stuff. Other than disease. But she knows my disease. I just can't get to her. It's hours away. There are labs. Needed constantly. So we talk on occassion and I see my Dr. here, who I have to admit is just as stymied about this as I am.

What do I expect? Often I go in the office for an appointment or even into the hospital and figure they can "heal" me on that visit. That my probs will go away. I will get up out of the bed, change from my tattered hospital robe, put on my regular clothes and walk out a new woman.

I dream about things like:

not feeling arthritis- after exercising I can feel the strength of the work I've done, not the undoing of what I have achieved at in "healing".

To be able to order what I want at a restaraunt and not be haunted by it within minutes, praying to the porcelain Gods.

But who doesn't hurt? I am finding everyone does. From the play off bball players on down to me. We all are working hard and hurting.

Will some biochemist find a cure? Can I please have an immune system transplant, pronto?

Or maybe I cab buck up and  navigate this ordeal! Come on, woman. Get over it.

Heck, I just finished a book: Autobiography of a Face. A book about a woman who had cancer at 9 that left more than 2/3 of her jaw gone. She endured an ever evolving face. Over 30 surgeries- most which were a wash becuase of the two and half years of radiation and chemo made it just absorb back into her body. Until she had bone from her leg crushed and then made into a jaw.

Miss Grealy felt the epitome of ugliness her whole life. Can you imagine? Heck, I get unnerved over a zit. And here was a woman who was taunted, children feared. A woman who looked in the mirror and saw a diff. face each time. Or had to avoid the mirror because it was too painful.

The book is written without too much emotion. She chronicles her faces as a Dr. would a medical chart. It is very well written. Lots of detail. But void of her emotional feelings toward it. You can imagine it though.

So what do I have to cry about today?

But that is just it, we all have things we worry about and cause us stress on levels that even Miss Grealy realized reached the levels she felt.


When I start to water my flowers the freezing joints will lessen. I'll go slow so my gutt can handle the heavy hose. yeh, the hose is heavy when the water is in it this last couple days. yay.

Pretty soon J. will say: "I'm bored." Because it is summertime. I'll tell him: "me, too." and see if he can come up with a project I can check off of my Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Which reminds me, last night, as he told me of his adventures with his friend I stared at him and told him he ought to be writing this down. He asked me if I'd help him write a "Bestseller".

I didn't know he even knew the word.

"Sure." I said. So I guess that is what we are doing today; Writing a best seller.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Cat Story- finally!

Innocent, cute farm kitty.

Well! After snapping some pictures of a benign looking cat at my sister's, this family history of cat lore, seems to not be so scary. However, the cat above did scare Gma just by being around the porch when she went to visit once, and it startled her so badly that she fell. She was lucky to not have broken her hip!

But I got the cat story out of the bag for all posterity, because many of us in the fam had it wrong.
While trying to get some shots of this useful, mouse catching cat above, I did encounter something scary on the farm/ranch.:

These gals ARE truly scary.

Beady, blank look in the eyes. And one mean peck.

As I snapped the pics of the innocent tabby,

these stealthy, menacing looking chicks


 walked up to me and before I knew it,
were with in an inch from pecking my feet and legs.


How do you get them outta the way anyway? I shoo-ed them and screamed, then chased.
But they are curious and kept coming back after I had composed myself!

I promised to tell about the origins of why CATS make certain family members squimish- which I always thought originated from Padre's mother;

NOT talk about these egg laying chickens!

Without any more delay I will relay the investigating and interviewing
process to get to the bottom of this CAT
deal we have.

Asking my Gma to tell me about the time that the "cat jumped on her head", she said: "Oh, Mandy, that didn't happen to me. It happened to my sister."

You're kiddin'? I said astonished. All this time I thought it was you who had a cat jump on your head when someone opened a door, or something
to that effect.

(come to find out, many of the other cousins thought the same thing.)

"No, that was Aunt Betty and she has the details that I can't remember.
 you'll have to call her."
It seemed sort of anti-climatic with all the hullabaloo surrounding
the story of how it all began!

One phone call to soutern Utah later -I had the gruesome details and it became
climatic again.

It had been a warm evening in the small town of Preston, Idaho. Neighborhood kids were out playing night games.
In the dark night,
Aunt Betty went to hide and as she passed under a high pitched roof onto a porch bearing a small light,
a boy, perched atop this roof, threw a cat onto her back.

As you can imagine, the cat was as equally horrified as Betty, and thus, sunk its claws into her back so it could climb to the top of her head, where it assessed the situation,
then lowered itself

ONTO her face where it sunk its claws in once last time in an effort to jump
off her face
 to safety.

(my reaction inside upon hearing the story)
Aunty Betty, who was 7 or 8 ,went on to explain that she fell to the ground after this horrific experience, doesn't even remember the little shister's name who threw the cat,
and that  shortly afterward, she got up and ran home where they
tended to all of the wounds
on her body.


The sight and story obviously scared her 'lil sis, and
 scaredy cat syndrome was born.

"After that," Aunt Betty said in a matter of fact tone, "I didn't care much
for cats."

I don't blame you, Aunt Betty!
I don't think many cat lovers would blame you either!
So her little sister, with this monstrously mean prank in her brain; a fear implanted so deep, caused us to think it was heriditary;
to carry this fear
for a good 65 to 70 years now. 

For Padre, it's really just the fact that they are bothersome when they get in
your garden, sit on your flowers,
poop in the dirt where you weed the garden and flowers
and otherwise just get on Padre's nerves.

He shudders at the thought of their hair possibly getting into food,
a kid's mouth or collecting somewhere that he is.

To his great fortune,

There is now a law  that citizens can be fined here in I.F.
their tabbies cause destruction
to your yard.

It's new this year.

So, now cats will have to go against their instincts
to roam- like their ancestors
in Africa
settle on being house cats.

One last thing- little kittens were NOT released during Lil Sis'

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Summer Scents

This honeysuckle plant and clematis are a huge part of my
summertime memories.

They are in full bloom, the hummingbirds are visiting the honeysuckles
and I am opening my window
in the evenings.

The Idaho breeze brings the mixture of the two flowers floating into the house
and my bedroom.

Bringing the familiar smells and nostalgia of
times gone by.

I love creating new ones with
the grandkids.

Padre, as I expected, took my trellis idea and really ran with it.
I initially wanted a trellis for pumpkins and
possibly squash.

He has gone above and beyond.

I will post pics when he puts the netting on the trellises.

This garden better turn out, or else!

Diet Coke Garden

This year's garden is planted again; with the naive and daring belief that
something will come of it.

Thanks to, James, at Town and Country, and their little climate tested packets of seeds, I was able to
buy the usual:

onions (walla walla and a couple rows of Bunching Tokyo Long Whites)
Carrots (Danvers)
Pumpkins (Autumn Gold)
Red potatoes

I was also able to surmise the veggies that will do best in the shade our garden is doomed for.  Unless we take out one of the remaining, large branches from the tree that got hit earlier by the snow fall that took down other branches. Just not the one that would give sun to the garden.

So here is the list:

Early Wonder Beets
Butter Crunch Lettuce
Lettuce- Salad Bowl variety

Tickled that the garden was tilled by Little brother, and that I was planning on Padre building a couple of trellis' to make the pumpkins and peas grow vertical, I went confidently outside with a Diet Coke and my seed packets in a flat carboard box.

I put in the radishes. Followed by the onions.

Painstakingly I followed the rules by taking in account of the timing (relative in Idaho), depth, distance of the seeds for a row and the distance between rows. "Digging" 1/8 inch 'holes' is a pain. One, because a breeze could pick up and blow that much dirt off and your seeds away. Two; it could rain. And if it rains too hard- like it did on Saturday- it could pack down the earth too much where they can't grow or they just get swept away by a Tsunami in the garden.

There were probably birds sitting on a telephone wire doing the
exact calculations ,of depth and distance,
so they could eat the seeds.

But before any of those travesties could occur, I planted the carrots. I marked them with sticks, tied twine around each to keep kids out, left walking room in between the diff. varieties- to make for easy weeding and I even made a main walk way lined with a flat of discount petunias in
Double Pink Rose Madness.
I like the
Madness part.

Then I had to take a break. Clouds that had been looming were finally starting to sprinkle and I didn't want my packets to get wet. Trying to carry a hoe, small shovel, gloves and balance the cardboardbox with my opened Diet Coke, I stumbled over the hose in my turquoise rubber gardening clogs.

The pop spilled into the box. Frantically, I dropped everything except the box and started throwing packets out. 

However, a few packets absorbed 
Diet Coke.

Town and Country has probably not tested this along side Idaho climate in their horticulture labs.
So that makes me a first and a soon to be expert in
that department.

'Lettuce' bawl into our salad bowls anyway, shall we?

Each wet packet had to be emptied onto a paper plate,
dried and put in new envelopes.

Later, I planted the Diet Coke dipped seeds into the rest of the garden.

J. let that cat out of the bag later when Padre asked why I put all the seeds in new envelopes.
Padre could only shake his head.

And this was before Madre made the comment that it took a lot of 'faith' to try and grow a garden. She was eluding to the weather and futile efforts of previous years. But if you look at the size of the seeds...

(some of the seeds got dropped in my bed so I am expecting something to sprout in the coming week.
If they don't come in a week- it's into the wash they go. Not willing to experiment by keeping the same sheets for a few months.)
It kinda does feel quite gutsy to try such a feat as growing a garden.

 Especially when you can just run to the store and buy some red potatoes. Who eats Rutabaga?

I don't.
But we are gonna cause that is what grows in our garden.

Now, we will have to not only hope that little slivers of seeds will erupt from the ground and grow, but do so after a bath
Diet Coke.

 At this point the garden should be an "experiment".

Lessens the internal/emotional pain.  

But I have to keep a positive attitude because Padre is already on trellis' that involve rebar, electrical conduit poles and corners (corner back brackets) that have to do with plumbing material or maybe buidling buildings. Oh, and 3/8 inch nylon string that apparently you can get at Home Depot.

And just a quick tip- 1/2 inch rebar will FIT in 1/2 inch conduit. Small lesson learned. They are measured differently. One on the inside- the other on the outside. So don't fall for the  person at the steel place telling you that you need 3/8 inch rebar to fit in the conduit. (the rebar comes in 20 foot poles.)

Oh, and once you have your trellis and a Squash tree you can plant rutabaga or Tyhee hybrid Spinach at its base; maximizing your garden space.

Stay tuned on the Trellis making. It's turning into a Memorial Day project for Padre. And I am really wondering if it will give more light to the plants, keep bugs off and be an overall awesome idea I pulled from someone else's ideas from Google and Youtube!

Thanks, John, from: for youtube interviewing Tyler, from Future Farms; (who tells about growing pumpkins, vertically.) a guy who farms in his back yard as a side job and does farmer's markets somewhere in California. Which is key. California= SUN.

Side note: I will include measurement sizes of the electrical conduit, rebar, and where to find the netting, pricing and whatever when Padre shows me the extent of all his efforts.(which at the posting of this story- it is now passed Mem. Day and into a weekend and Padre is still working on my Squash Trellis and the trellis for my peas. He's slow because of everything on his plate.

Blog Archive