Tuesday, May 31, 2005

They call the wind "Mariah", I could think of a different name...

Remember that last post, where I talked about the wind? Yeah, well, it blew. And because of the rain we experienced this winter we have a wonderful crop of foxtails this year. Lucky for us they all blew right onto the porch. INCHES THICK! I tell ya, it was like a scary fifties sci-fi movie. Black and white, a tad grainy and with that creepy rancher off in the distance.

foxtail nightmare
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The foxtails are literally shoved up against the walls of the porch and all in the seams, around the posts and under the windows. ICK! So it's time to pull them all out. There is a bonus to it all: the fox tails all stick together. Once you get a handful and begin to pull them off the cement, you get a huge pile. But they are sticking in the seams of the porch and sidewalk and they do not want to come out. UGH! So S'mee thinks I'll just power wash them off the cement. (yeah, I know it wastes water, but I am disparate.)

I go and get the hose. The nossle thing-y (don't you just love the sound of the word "nossle"?), anywho, I turn the water on full blast and squeeze the trigger hoping for a very powerful stream to blast out the foxtails.... the danged trigger doohickey snapped like a twig.

Hello almost finished remodeled department store! I saunter into the garden department. (You know it is spring when they bring out the colourful flowers and tropical plants that will never last two weeks here in the desert. Ahhh...) I carefully ponder which of the assorted hand held trigger power sprayers will do the deed and head up to the counter. Hmmm. Lookie there, one of those new fangled "fireman" hoses they sell on t.v. And, it's in a reel! You got me with the reel. I detest the fact that the only faucet is about two feet from our front door and the hose is ALWAYS unrolled and waiting to trip up any visitors. (Thor says it is a trap for wayward salesmen and the home teachers.) Every time I have bought a reel for the hose there has been a problem. But I see that this one is MADE for the hose and actually comes with it! How can I go wrong?

$20 later and I am on the porch again. I am a reader and follower of instructions. (geek alert) So I carefully open the packaging and find the info. "Attach the nossle (!) to the end of the hose. It is very important that the hose is completely off of the reel BEFORE attaching to the faucet and filling with water. " I can visualize the why for this -so I begin to unreel the hose. I get to the very end, the 'faucet end' of the hose and it is literally locked inside the reel and as far as I can figure CANNOT be removed without breaking the reel. I search the information again hoping to find the secret 'obvious' button that magically releases the hose. Nope. Not there. O.K. I will figure it out later it's getting too hot to be outside. I need to rid the porch of the foxtails!

I grab the other power nossle (thinking to self, "at least you decided to still get that! smart cookie!) and attach it to the old hose. Full force water here we come! I feel the pressure rising in the hose. I see the hose dance in anticipation of expelling H2O in a force yet unexperienced. I pull the trigger and WHOooooooooooosh dribble dribble .

Man! That was totally disappointing. I turn to the faucet, sure that I didn't give it enough of a turn. Nope, wide open. The stinky trigger nossle thing-y is just weak! WEAK! grrr. So now the foxtails are clean, wet, and stuck into the seams of my porch.

Well, tomorrow is a new day. I love returning stuff. oh well; could be worse. Could be stickers from the tumble weeds.

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Crash Test Dummy- Test Drive Dummy (potato-pahtahto)

Thor and I are in the process of deciding whether we should trade in the family car and get something with less mileage or stick it out and wait for the slow painful death that surely will come with the vehicle we currently own.

This is the deal. The vehicle we currently drive is running well, gets good MPGs, fits everyone -and their duck, cleans up well, has one small "Mom, I backed into the mailbox" dent that isn't too noticeable, and is nice -height and bulk- wise. Other than the high miles it is o.k. But before it begins to fall apart we are thinking maybe jump to a newer model. I want a tank, but I do not want to drive a tank. I have a small problem with most (not all) folks who drive ASSAULT VEHICLES and then expect everyone else to just get out of their way because they will win any fight. (hey, lady at the entrance of the remodel at the only local department store who blocked the ONLY entrance to the store for TEN MINUTES while she tried to get her car around the cones... I MEAN YOU!*) If you own one of these VEHICLES "yea!" for you, but realize with size comes responsibility, park in the spaces out there...yeah, over there in the acreage where you can maneuver that thing without taking us all out. Thanks.

Excuse me, I digress. I want size without feeling like the "before" photo in Jenny Craig. I also want something I can afford to drive. Forget the payment; it's the gas that kills me. Last week I put $57.00 in the car I currently have... and it's "midsized"! Oh, that, and the insurance.

Insurance. Holy Hannah! I am the official poster girl for that tiny little clause in your policy that states "unlucky driver". Yup. Blame me. I'm the reason. I have been hit by EVERY drunk driver* in the tri-state area and then some. If you are bombed outta yo' mind, feel free to just slam into me. If you are in the middle of peace treaty negotiations and just CANNOT hang up that cell phone*, never you mind - I am HERE for ya- and heck, it's been a while so go ahead, the front end of my car is wide open. Want to eat a spaghetti*, or finish that dermabrasion* while entering the 405 during rush hour? Hey I can take it, smash away! You're the doctor performing emergency surgery; that explains your speed*. O.k. then! I can't get mad that you took me out, losing control while passing on the shoulder, excuse me, sorry 'bout that. Turning into traffic is just too exhausting and you need a BRAKE*, I can help you stop and smell the roses for a while. Testing your NASCAR Skills and want to see how fast you can leave your drive way AFTER you see me coming*? Hey, my kids are young, they'll heal. You realize that stop signs* are just suggestions after 9:00 p.m. right? Go ahead, I'll try to stay out of your way. Oh, and I forgot to mention: If you are escaping "incarceration*", finishing up a "pharmaceutical*"deal, or "test driving*" a neighbor's vehicle and the brakes fail, no worries! I will be glad to be the one gal who helps you stop. Just try the passenger's side, it's completely dent free right now. Think of it as a blank canvas. Thanks. Please, don't fret that you NEVER carry insurance. That's what I am here for. By the way, I am independently wealthy, so I never worry about the "can't bleed a turnip" rule. I just forgive and forget and move on.

So yesterday we go to a dealership to peruse what's available. For the price of your own private island in the Bahamas you too can own a new car! It's that easy! I love how they make you feel like a complete loser if you "only have $5,000" to put down on a car. Hey buddy! My sister's first car was $500.00 COMPLETE! We only put $2,000.00 down on our first home! Even with the 5k down the payments would have come out to a mere $506.32! WHAT? And that 32 cents, you're kidding me right? Add that up. 32 times twelve, um dee do- times 5, carry the one, mumble mumble, that comes out to a whopping $19.20. By the time 5 years comes around, that won't even buy me a lousy car wash. 32 cents.

The car we were looking at had all the bells and whistles. You know what bugs me, they don't sell cars anymore without the bells and whistles! I admit I like the keyless entry. But frankly, I still have hands so I can open my own door if I have too. I am a huge fan of air bags (gee, I wonder why?), and I am not opposed to air conditioning in the desert. But really, how many c.d.s am I going to listen to at the same time? Do I need leather seats with lumbar support and heat? I agree they are nice, but do I need that? No, I do not, thank you. I like the idea of "someone" (cue sci-fi music: oooo weeeeeeoooooo) "knowing" when my airbags have deployed, (happens a lot with me, it would be nice to make a new friend while in excruciating pain). I think "all wheel"drive is a grand idea, but haven't all of my wheels been driving already? Just where the heck will I be driving that I will need to "climb". I don't think I want to go there. I just want a car with low miles and good MPGs. Something Thor can sit in and perhaps something to haul around a grandbaby and paint supplies.

Metallic paint. Oooooh! Pretty! I live in the desert. With wind. And dust. And (cue the Sons of the Pioneers...) tumbling tumble weeds. And wind. And coyotes. And wild dogs. And wind. And the neighbors cat. And wind. No matter what paint colour I choose it will most likely look like Apache Tan or Navajo Dusk or perhaps Mudflap Sunset. My dining room table looks like this and it's INSIDE! Hello, do you people live here at all? All I want is a basic paint job.

When the "manager" asks you to fill out paperwork that rivals anything you filled out for your house loan, you know you are in trouble. They wanted "next of kin"! Seriously! Do they think once we sign on, if we die, my brother in law will pay off this loan? If we die, we will feel lucky if our next of kin can come up with enough money to bury us, forget the car. Chances are if we die it will be IN the car anyway. Remember me? I am the unlucky driver!

*Yes, all of these "accidents" have actually happened to S'mee. I have been in so many "accidents" I can't count them, yet, in every case, S'mee has been found innocent of cause, but lucky recipient of effect! I love science!

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

She's writing a story in a leather journal with home made paper inside.

When I was a little girl I would sit in quiet reflection and try to imagine another little girl, born the exact time as S'mee, on my birthday, whose mom gave her the same name I had. It was the whole parallel universe type of thing only I was too young to know that sci-fi thought this could happen.

I would see the other S'mee. She was black. Not Whitney Houston black, but the deep rich darkest black girl I could imagine. Her skin matched her eyes and she had pretty teeth. Her mom dressed her in orange and yellow and bright green and she would always be barefoot. She had a baby brother and her dad was tall and thin and had laughing eyes. She had a gramma who cuddled and told her terrific stories about the village where she lived. They had a grass house and the trees made her feel secure and cool all day. I wanted to trade her places; but I did not want her to have to trade back. So I left her in Africa.

I also saw S'mee in China. I had heard you could dig there if you tried long enough. She had tan skin and black almond eyes and was so shy she never spoke. Her mom dressed her in shiny pink and gold and told her to behave. She peeked out of her paper room but not too often. She liked her pet fish. They were named Goldie and Sam and they had their own home in a pond in her garden; but didn't talk much either. She was like me and didn't have a dad too often.

Then there was the S'mee who lived in the South. All I know is she had a syrupy swagger to her voice and she was "pleased as punch" a lot. She felt guilty for things and tried hard to spell, but she was good at finding stars and flowers. I could see stars through her eyes and I could smell her momma's perfume if I tried hard enough. She was able to catch fire flys in Mason jars.

One of my favorite S'mees was a Pirate. She was always on the sea in a boat with boys who got to play and swash-buckle and dance in colourful outfits and wear eye patches. That S'mee had the most fun and she didn't mind scrubbing the deck because sooner or later she could crawl up the mast and look out over the white caps for the island hideaway. She was good in a fight and she ate a lot of fruit. She didn't mind her manners and she said what she felt like without too much trouble. She also had a parrot that told her jokes.

We moved so much as a kid I think I developed an odd imagination and made these counter images from parts of myself. It was nice to know there was someone out there. I still wish my skin was that deep rich black. If I could I would have a pond with fish. I feel guilty all the time and math, well it may never happen for me. Sometimes I say what I feel and I don't care much if I get in trouble for it.

I still think about the other universe and wonder about all the other S'mees out there. What they are up to and if they ever wonder about this S'mee. Are you ever too old to "pretend"?

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Who says we don't have women in the scriptures?

14 Now Ammon seeing the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to his prayers upon the Lamanites, his brethren, who had been the cause of so much mourning among the Nephites, or among all the people of God because of their iniquities and their traditions, he fell upon his knees, and began to pour out his soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God for what he had done for his brethren; and he was also overpowered with joy; and thus they all three had sunk to the earth.
15 Now, when the servants of the king had seen that they had fallen, they also began to cry unto God, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them also, for it was they who had stood before the king and testified unto him concerning the great power of Ammon.
16 And it came to pass that they did call on the name of the Lord, in their might, even until they had all fallen to the earth, save it were one of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father—
17 Thus, having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it known, therefore, when she saw that all the servants of Lamoni had fallen to the earth, and also her mistress, the queen, and the king, and Ammon lay prostrate upon the earth, she knew that it was the power of God; and supposing that this opportunity, by making known unto the people what had happened among them, that by beholding this scene it would cause them to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people.
18 And they began to assemble themselves together unto the house of the king. And there came a multitude, and to their astonishment, they beheld the king, and the queen, and their servants prostrate upon the earth, and they all lay there as though they were dead; and they also saw Ammon, and behold, he was a Nephite.

Abish. A lamanite woman. A servent. A missionary who took opportunity and was an example.

Abish has very few lines in the book of Alma, in the Book of Mormon (Alma 19: 16 -18). Abish understands what is happening and seizes the opportunity to share what she has kept in her heart for many years; her testimony of the Lord. She runs - RUNS - from house to house telling all who would listen of the great miracle happening back at the palace. It is her goal to bring others to Christ so that they may experience what she knows and feels. As a result "a multitude" gather to witness the scene.

I had an "Abish" in my seminary class a few years ago. Perhaps you have met an "Abish" in one of your classes. You know her. The lone girl, quietly doing what is expected, but nothing out of the ordinary until the right opportunity comes along; then watch out, she is on fire and the Lord just works through her. My "Abish" stood for the right amoung her LDS peers. It is one thing to stand for the right against those who do not believe. But to challenge those who do believe and should behave better but don't because of pride, etc. - well that's hard. Real hard, especially for a teenager whose whole existence depends on peer respect and acceptance.

My "Abish" was bold, not loud. When challenged she did not back down in what she was defending. She took her Young Women's Promise ("We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are: Faith Divine Nature Individual Worth Knowledge Choice and Accountability Good Works and Integrity We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values,we will be prepared to strengthen home and family,make and keep sacred covenants,receive the ordinances of the temple,and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.") and ran with it. From person to person right there in my classroom, begging all to believe with her. Some did. Some mocked at laughed at her.

The following year, this same "Abish" from my class, led her other LDS classmates - about 28 of them- into the local school board meeting to protest the high school production in which all those 28 students were involved. The lead roles were all LDS. The board stood firm and said they could not change the night of the performances to exclude Sunday performances, they would loose too much money. Then "Abish" made a promise that silenced the room. "I promise you, WE promise you that the all of the other performances will be completely sold out if you allow us to remove the Sunday performances. If you cannot do that, then ALL 28 students who are here tonight will remove ourselves from the production." Again, there were some who felt she was pretty bold to promise a full house for the 6 other performances AND say they would all quit if they didn't get what they wanted. But not one of them said anything out loud, They all stood there firm. The school board relented, but with a condition that if they did not sell out all 6 performances, the money would be recovered from "prom" monies. This got the high school kids in an uproar and the 28 kids in relative trouble.

You know I am going to tell you that yes, all other performances were indeed sold out and everything went well. And it did. I think it did because my "Abish" found her legs the year before and stood among her LDS peers for what she believed. Line upon line, precept upon precept. Strength upon strength. Miracles after the trial of faith.

I am happy to also report the "Abish" from my class sent me an announcement that she was sealed last weekend to her "Ammon". She no longer is the lone girl sitting by herself. She has power and a story and a testimony to build her life on. She was able to run, to proclaim, and even bring the multitudes. She is a woman in the scriptures.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

computer junk 101 (better make that remedial comp. junk 78 - funky, but it has a nice beat and it's easy to dance to)

Dear Readers,
The following is an exercise in the ridiculous. Allow me to explain. About a week ago Peggy, from "Speak Up For Truth" sent me a "meme". (Hearing an operatic warm up right about now...) Evidently she got it from a friend who sent it to her. This is some kind of e-chair letter for all I can figure out. Peggy seems to be a nice gal, so I thought, "What the hey!" and thought I would try to send it along. This presented a few challenges for the rider of the "e" equivalent of the little bus.

#1. Who is Meme and why does she flit from one place to another and how exactly does she travel????
#2. Meme speaks techno-crat and is asking me about files and other hard questions like, what kind of music do I listen to. C'MON MEME! I AM NOT A SCIENTIST FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!
#3. Meme thinks I have readers and friends here on planet "E". Get real Meme, I just moved here and I haven't met the neighbors yet!

So, being the brilliant learner that I am, I contacted Chronicler over at "Food Chronicles". She is in the dictionary under "Queen of Patience" (although in this case Queen of Patients would work just as well). I hit her up every time I need to figure out how to do the really complicated techno moves, like cut and paste...

She informed me politely that I needed to get to the sending part of Meme (like yesterday) and so do this and then that and then stand under the Blue Moon after eating a jalepeno while holding a lightning rod and then press click. EASY enough. I try. I try again. Then the words everyone loves... "You've Got Mail!" Inside my mailbox is the copy of Meme. (Trust me, she ain't that good looking.) Along with instructions on how to get her into the bus, on the train, essentially, run Meme back to France from whence she came.

Copy. Copy. Copy. (accordion music is playing and I am envisioning the beheading of Marie Antoinette) A phone call is made. Yada, yada, yada, (muffled sounds of laughter in the background) hum-dee-doo, and I try again. Success! I have cut, copied and pasted Meme and sent her over to Chronicler and others! (cue the MLK speech, Free at last! Free at last!)

I get on the computer this morning. "You've Got Mail!" According to Chronicler, Meme was sent to the wrong port and is now being accosted by the Feds on the dock. I ring up Chronicler. Instead of "hello" I hear the roar of laughter on the other end. Fine. I know when I am licked. I know when I am in over my head. I know when I am being mocked!

Chronicler, once again, runs through the drill. She also explains that Meme is indeed French. French for "same" and presumes that someone decided to use this term when sending the same message to many people. (This is why S'mee took ASL instead of French) That and "it's pronounce mem -like men only with another m" -at least she left off the obligatory "idiot!". I gotta love that gal.

So here we are. "Paulie sent it to Peggy who sent it to S'mee" and now I am sending it out there to a bunch of folks and let's see what happens. (If you hear a big -KaBoOm!- it wasn't me. or Meme)

and I quote the following...
"Because Paulie Asked Paulie of The Commons at Paulie World (S'mee says, "Blame him!" stupid Paulie!) tagged me (this would be Peggy) to answer the following questions: (and then it's my turn...)

Total volume of music files on my computer:Would that be the manila ones of Thor's or my Primary folder? Both are stacked and balanced precariously on the printer. What- that doesn't count? Right, like after the above explanation about Meme you want me to do math? Computer math and count files??? What is this? This is just mean now!

The last CD I bought: My #5's CYMO 2005 Season.

Song playing now: nothing, the house is quiet except for someone singing in the shower.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
1. Oh Divine Redeemer, especially when sung by Constance Jensen
2. I Stand All Amazed
3. The Twelveth of Never, Johnny Mathis
4. You Are So Beautiful, Joe Cocker
5. My Old Addiction, k.d. lang

(but like Peggy says, this is a very hard question, too many choices, and next week this list may change)

YES. I admit to being a total geek music wise. Trust me, I do have some cool music somewhere, but you asked for favorites.

and 6. (see I told you and it's only been a few hours...) There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today - which I have instructed members of my family to sing at my funeral.

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton: (With my most humble apologies!)
Food Chronicles because she has been very helpful, that and between she and the "big guy" they are an encyclopedia of music and artists, and obviously the whole gigabite filegumbo computerwhizardry stuff doesn't throw her a bit.
The Golden Road to Samarqand 'cause she is like the coolest person on the planet and will most likely have songs none of us have ever heard.
Kathy, Kathy, and yet another Kathy
--Chronicler called again, said I can't just send this to an e-mail, 'needs to be a blogger...so with that in mind...)
Mo'Boy Blog hey this guy KNOWS music
Lisa'a Ramblings because she seems nice and won't be mean to me for sending it to her.
Mother of All because she is a poet and will probably come up with something clever.

Tag, you're it! go do it.

can i stop now?

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Monday, May 23, 2005

For Whom the Bell Tolls...

While reading the Wednesday post of The Golden Road to Samarqand, Amira wrote of her love and interest in cemeteries. After reading several of the comments on that post I realized I am among friends who all have an affinity towards the history and culture of cemeteries.

Recently Thor and I were afforded the opportunity to travel to New Orleans. I had a couple of friends who had been there and also know a friend who served his mission there. Anyone I asked suggested we take a cemetery tour.

Thor wasn't available to go on tours as he was in seminars. I decided to ask a friend if she wanted go. She became very nervous about the cemetery tour but suggested we stick to the tour bus that went through the city. I will exclude the points of the tour and our guide except for the parts he explained as we went to cemetery #3 (if I am remembering correctly). The following is what I gleaned from our tour guide.

New Orleans is wet. Very wet. And due to the nature of the swamp land, humidity, and general landscape of the Delta Region provisions and laws needed to be established and are in place to this day to a certain degree. The land is saturated by all of this moisture so much so that the land itself sinks at the rate of an inch per year if not halted by man.

Back in the day, the law was set at burial needing to be done within 48 hours of the deceased finality. The body would be cleansed, dressed, and readied for the family crypt. Little or no embalming would take place. If it was used in the preparations, a special fluid was used so that the body would only be "suspended" for a minimal time. The law stated the body needed to decompose quickly. A body would be placed in a crypt for a minimum of 365 complete days.
A family would purchase cemetery land as the family plot. Calculations were made as too how much land a family could afford and how much they would need. Land was and is expensive, so a family would try to figure out just how many members could die within a certain "year" and plan accordingly within their financial means. The land being wet, an indicator of one's wealth would be the size of the crypt and how high off the ground it would rise before entry.

monuments of angels
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The larger the crypt and the higher the stairs to enter the more wealth you had. One exception was the single crypt that stated in literal stone that whoever was buried there would be there "for eternity". This was a clue to those around that the crypt would not be shared.

Shared? Yes. Let's say you have a family plot and build a crypt large enough to house four tombs. What do you do when the fifth member of the family dies? Well, you throw Auntie Prudence down the family pit and move in Uncle Cleatus. This is accomplished rather cleverly.

out with the old in with the new
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
This photo is a great visual for the process. You can see in the photo that the crypt is built from brick. This was part of the law. Because of the plague and other diseases, bodies were required to be encased in brick, and sealed with concrete (lower right tomb) for the first 365. In this crypt there are 6 tombs, each (originally) with a facade of marble for genealogical information. As one body would complete there term the facade would be removed. This exposed the brick, which would be disassembled and exposed the casket. The caskets were made so that once the body had decayed, the ends could be removed. Auntie Prudence's remains, usually just bones, would then be pushed out of the casket via the open foot end and then would drop into the pit that was below each crypt, once there, Auntie Prudence would be taken into the earth naturally by Mother Nature over the years.
This particular crypt is in decay, most likely because the family who shares this plot have moved on to another area in the country and economics being what they are currently, they can afford to buried elsewhere.

neglect and nature
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
In this photo, you can see that neglect has exposed this crypt (in the center rear) to the elements and decay has set in, almost to the point where total reconstruction will need to take place. The crypt held three tombs. What we are viewing in this photo is the back of the tomb where much of the "work" was accomplished. It is a good photo in that it shows the extra length in the crypt and the construction that allows the process to happen. You can see the roof line, then a dark rectangular piece; that dark rectangle is actually and open part of the tomb, exposing the inner area of the top tomb. Broken and tumbling bricks are falling over due to gravity and into the area built to accommodate the falling bones. Exposure to the weather has evidently filled the open spaces of this crypt with enough soil, debris, etc, that plants are now filling the space. Although, in my limited knowledge, I think this would happen rather easily if not constantly maintained as we saw many city buildings that had ferns just growing into the exterior walls - many of them several stories up. Finding a crack in a wall is all it takes for a seed to find its' new home.

Also in this photo is a great example of a family plot whose finances were meager. Saying that, I somehow think this is where my family would have been buried. Perhaps in the old south this was a poor person, maybe today it would be the lower middle class? This is a ground level crypt. It has the cement borders and the tomb on the left still has the cement casing on the top. The wrought iron fence was there to show respect, but also to keep animals and visitors from walking on the crypt in an attempt to preserve the structure. Due to the level of the tombs, more than likely the caskets would have deteriorated right along with the body and sunk into the earth at a rapid rate.

The poor were left to rent community crypts. Essentially these were made of brick and usually made as the structure that surrounded the cemetery, looking like a tall, wide and thick brick wall. The front of the community crypts were built similar to the others with a false front and labeling system for identification. These crypts could also be rented for a one year (or more if needed) period by families whose plot was filled, but not legally able to be opened and rearranged to accommodate the new dead. Let's say Auntie Prudence was buried on May 24, 1823. She took her place in the vault. One more space was available and then Uncle Cleatus died two days later on May 26, 1823. Uncle Cleatus would take the last available space. Now because all the spaces are filled the family would hope no one would die until May 25 of 1824. Knowing that Gramma Jed had died earlier that same year, January 10, 1823 his space would become available on January 11, 1824 but he cannot be disturbed for 365 days. So when Gramma Edwina died May 30, 1823 she would have no where to go except the rental crypt. She also would have to stay there for the required 365 days; so if someone dies after her, say on February 28, 1824 they could slip in the family crypt BEFORE Gramma Edwina, because the Grampa could then be removed and she take his place for free. This would leave Edwina waiting for another available tomb in the family plot, extending her stay with the "undesirables" in the city plot.

nature finds a way
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

This is a photo that explains just what Nature is capable of. The arches on the bottom of the photo are actually the top of the tombs' "headstone"s, showing that this land has sunk considerably since the time of construction. The guide here told listeners that this area sank at the level of 1 inch annually. These tombs' headstones were originally at average eye level for an easy identification. Nature finds a way of recovering what is hers.

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...enjoys long walks on the beach, with toddlers...

After reading a post over at Mother of All I am having a terrible craving for salt air and sand in my shorts. I have a small penchant for the smell of a funky lagoon, the wharf and wet nappy hair. That coupled with a bunch of screaming kids makes my heart skip a beat. Throw in a warm smashed PB&J and a hot orange soda and I will elevate to seventh heaven!

Yes, I am talking about summer at the beach. The sting of being sun-kissed and the first gasp as you enter the briny shore take me back to my own childhood. It's funny, but back then it was o.k. to just drop off your kids for the day and pick them up sometime near 9:00 that night. As an adult the thought makes me cringe. Not so much about the child safety issues we deal with now-a-days, but if I were the drop off mom, I would just have to stay and hang out. There would be no getting me back into that car until sundown.

We were taught to swim almost in tandem with walking. We were given secrets such as the water won't keep bashing the tar out of you if you just swim past the breakers, and if you get caught in a rip tide, just swim parallel with the shore and in a very short distance you'll be free again. That and never put a dead jelly fish in your trunk to save for next Monday's Show and Tell.

One of my favorite past times was and still is: Making Sand Castles. While browsing the Deseret Bookstore last week I found a "must have" book for my collection: Sandcastles Made Easy by Lucinda "sandy feet" Wierenga. Not knowing how far I can go without breaking copyright laws I will neglect to post her photos of work...YOWSERS! So cool, so pretty, and so tempting to try.

I read the book in about 20 minutes, and although there are some laws of physics to memorize, it's not rocket science. She gives away her trade secrets and recipes for the perfect castle and sculpting sands. Who knew there was a science to it all? After reading her book I now understand why my attempts have been less than stellar, however well planned and executed. So watch out beach goers! I have knowledge. And knowledge is power! No sand is safe from now on. I am off to stake my foolish man's claim and build me a house on the sand.

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Here Come the Judge...

Lisa over at conversation has a post on "modesty and the modern world". I think it is a great post. I have some of the same "judging" issues as she does. I admit to casting a prejudice eye on those who stand on Holy ground, i.e. LDS Temples. I judge.

Perhaps it is because I have had some success in the area of the topic of concern, because I find myself rather tolerant of other things. (yes, I admit to a double standard) Lisa admits to this weakness as well. I think she is brave to stand at the e-world's front and say out loud she is saddened by what she witnessed. So THANK YOU LISA! You have drug me out into the open to stand with you.

I, S'mee, am saying it our loud: I am sick of the sight of inappropriate attire within the grounds of the temple. To be even more snarky (Lisa, I think, would never do this, she is extremely nice from what I have read of her)...on to being snarky... I am tired of the look of (many of) both genders within the hall of my local church chapel. (Thousands around the world now gasping! o.k. maybe just the ten people out there who read this blog)

(Using your best Rod Serling voice...) Imagine if you will, that we have been invited to a V.I.P. dinner at the White House. We will be sitting next to the President and his lovely wife. We have been asked there to represent ourself, our family, and an average citizen for our country. Other dignitaries will be present and will be introduced to us by name. This is their opportunity to see and converse with us -this one time- about how we feel about being an American citizen and what we believe.

Keep in mind these folks are pretty nice and they hail from the great state of Texas, where I presume, they enjoy a great pair of Levi's as much or more than the other guy. What would we wear?

Would we:
a. Knowing they are hunky dory with jeans and nice folks, show up in our comfy jeans. A little shaggy, but the President will know we are a hard worker and not mind our casual nature.
b. Say to ourself, "hmm, he's a nice guy, but hey, this is the White House, maybe I should wear my best khakis and a golf shirt."
c. Hear Cloris Leachman say, "I suggest you put on a tie!" and wear our suit.
d. Rent the best tux we can afford.

This is a State Dinner, think carefully, what would we do? Think about how we will feel with the others in the room. They, we understand, will be dressed in the finest attire their country requires. For some it will be a tuxedo, others it will be perhaps a special fabric tied in a unique way that symbolizes the importance of the occasion. What is the best choice for us?

Another question to think about. The conversation that will be had.
Will we
a. Think the best way to represent our family and self is to "be ourself", in other words, not change a thing about the way weill speak. They will get the same speech and language we would use at a ball game with our buddies.
b. Clean it up a tad. But hey, how will they really know us unless we keep it "real".
c. Watch our speech carefully.
d. Make sure we use clear language, speak a bit slower than we would in normal conversation, enunciate and try to use words that convey exactly what we feel and believe. Perhaps we will even go so far as to try to learn about the other countries that will be there so that we can ask them pertinent questions as well. Try to improve the level of our conversational skills for the evening.

Hopefully, if you think the way I do (yes, I know, I am the epitome of knowledge), you will have chosen "d" in both sections. Not that we want to misrepresent ourself, but rather show respect for the honour we have been given and to elevate those we represent as well.

Now, if we do these things for our president, should we not do these things for our God? I told you in a post that last week we had to find the "perfect dress" for prom. Do you think I expect anything less "perfect" for my daughter to go to worship her God? Granted she does not show up in a formal for Sacrament meeting, but she does show up showered, groomed, and in clothes that show respect for the occasion. She does not wear sandals and tank tops to Sacrament Meeting. Nor does she feel denim is a fabric of choice when worship is involved. Money is not at issue here. She does not need to purchase a suit from Nordstroms, an outfit from home will do just fine.

If all we have is a simple dress or khakis and a golf shirt, make sure they are clean, pressed and in the best repair possible. Bleach white shirts, keep them crisp and tucked in properly. Spot clean the ties so that they are presentable as well. Purchase clothing that fits well and does not cling. Keep all parts of our body between knees and shoulders covered. Keep hosiery in good repair and clean. Polish and dust shoes before worship. Attend to grooming in all areas. Our body should be as clean as possible before approaching the Lord in formal worship. Pay attention to the nail beds and tips, we carry and or pass the tokens of His Sacrament. Our hair should be clean, cut or styled in a manner befitting those who represent the Lord.

Speech is another issue. Acceptable slang is not appropriate for use in worship. Clean it up, think about what should be said in the House of the Lord, and in His chapels. Find out a little about Heavenly Father, His preferences, His choices, His way of thinking, His customs, so the conversation isn't always inward. Think of the responsibility we have as His representative, do we live up to that as best we can? Or do we think, "hey, He's a nice guy, He already has forgiven me and He doesn't expect me to come all dressed up, He just wants me there."

Doesn't He deserve the same respect we would give a concert, prom, or state dinner? Doesn't He deserve more?

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A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation

Last week before #5's concert, her dad convinced her that she needed to attend her senior prom. So on Monday we went in search of all things required to ready an 18 year old to have a good time at a schmancy event center in L.A. on Saturday.

Dress was purchased, altered, hemmed and dry cleaned. Flowers purchased for the date. Shoes were had, and also new "unders" of all kinds! Hair was cut and restyled, make up was applied and photos were taken.

We are happy to report the night was "fun". The traffic to the event went quicker than expected so the school kids arrived in L.A. too early. They were allowed to go into the building but had to stay in a specific area until the room was readied. They were on the top floor with a terrific view. #5 said they had a "really good" sit down dinner complete with chocolate strawberries and brownies for dessert. The music started and that was a tad disappointing for her date and she (she's a picky one), so they walked around the room seeing the city from up high and danced when they slow ones came on or it was a song with "decent lyrics". They watched two friends, a brother and sister, "tear it up" on the dance floor off in the corner of the room. "They are amazing!" according to #5. They also enjoyed watching the chaperons "watch us, it was like a spy movie." Her favorite teacher told her she looked "very nice", so she was happy. All in all it was worth the running around to get ready.

I am waiting anxiously for pictures to come home. Part of last week's situations required me to leave and go out of state to a wedding. More on that in a different post. Thor baby sat the grandbaby and taught him the words to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to mommy's surprise; and that when the sun goes "bye bye" it goes to "China". Trains squish pennies and "run fast", and you have to eat two nuggets before you get fries. There were also lessons on how many sodas one can have when with grampa and just how far you can throw a rock when you are two.

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Sometimes you have things happen in your week that words fail to describe what your heart is feeling. It has been a sad time for our family, but we have hope.

More posts later.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

A rose for Lilly...

Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Lillian Disney had two particular favorites in life, roses and Royal Delft porcelain. Frank Gehry decided to combine the two to create this tribute as a gift from her grand and great grandchildren.

Iron bars were reinforced to shape the petals of this rose. Wire mesh was filled with concrete and then waterproofed. Thousands of Royal Delft vases and tiles were broken on site and applied to the petals by an eight member team of artisans led by Tomas Oshinski. The mosaic pattern we see today is beautiful sitting amongst the flowering trees and plants basking in the rooftop sun.

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Walt Disney Concert Hall, L.A.

Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Located on the same block of Grand Avenue as The Mark Taper Forum, The Ahmanson Theatre, The Music Center, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion sits the architectural wonder: The Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Check out the photo gallery! Holy Hannah! Click on the model views of the interior of the concert hall. It is fabulous. The organ has gorgeous pipes and the ceiling structure is terrific!)

Designed by Frank Gehry, it is the newest structure in the : The Music Center. In 1987 Walt Disney's widow, Lillian, donated $50 million to create this hall. It took 16 years to come to fruition. This hall is now the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Also housed within the complex is the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theatre (REDCAT).

The hall contains 12,500 pieces of primary steel, which weigh over 11,000 tons.

Over 30,000 architectural drawings were used to produce the concert hall.

A 750,000-lb. crane was needed to erect the steel support structure.

300 tons of bolts and welds were used.

18,00 cubic yards of concrete were poured, including two roof slabs 15 inched thick.

8 skylights were designed with glass three inches thick to keep the interior naturally bright.

"Tree trunk" columns are made of Douglas fir and serve as supports and air conditioning, lighting, and supports in the lobby. This wood is used throughout the hall because of its aesthetic similarity to the wood used in musical instruments.

The outside of the building is stainless steel. Originally it was left polished and shining like a mirror. Now, only a few places on the building are still reflective. The bright California sun shone so brightly, neighboring buildings were being heated from the WDCH. Air conditioning units were being over run and still unable to cool the surrounding buildings. Eventually the steel was brushed to decrease the reflection. I can tell you, sitting on the rooftop patio, you can still feel the heat from the building!

Melinda Taylor designed the rooftop garden that covers nearly one acre! The plants and full sized trees were placed in specially designed planters to create the illusion that they are growing naturally our of the ground, but keep the building secure and free of root systems. The trees and plants were placed in the same sun facing direction as they were in their original locations, insuring fresh and colourful blooms and blossoms year round. The bumble bees were very happy about this yesterday as they danced from one tree to another and in and around all the flower beds! From the 34 foot high vantage point you can see across the L. A. basin. Yesterday we saw Dodger Stadium!

The REDCAT is home to cutting edge experimental theatre, music, and performance art. Additionally there is a 3, 000 sqft exhibition space and multipurpose cafe.

The lobby of the WDMC is open daily for tours and walk throughs. There is terrific shop with museum quality art and gifts in all price ranges. (I saw a nice metal mesh purse. If anyone is interested, I prefer the silver bag with the ruffle edge and stone closure. A tad over $650.00.) There is a "nice" bistro on site and also a cafeteria type eatery within the lobby.

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Artists' Wing!

Originally uploaded by S'mee.

I have to tell you there is really little to compare to the feeling you get when you see your child entering the "Artists'" entrance to a concert hall. Especially with out police being summoned afterward! (Don't ask)

Yup! There she is! My #5. She has been greatly greatly blessed and she has worked at developing what Heavenly Father has given her. Yesterday was one of the huge moments that will be in her life. She was pretty happy (stoked as they used to say) and about two feet off the ground. We did the whole Kodak moment thing out in front. I had her pose just about every way I could without attracting a crowd. (um, well enough of a crowd to, again, include law enforcement.) I am a mom. A huge fat crazy enormously proud mom. She has worked so hard for this and it was paying off!

Last night was terrific. She had several solos and when the set was over applause broke out and the conductor turned and bowed. He left the stage and the applause continued. He reenters and points to my #5 and gestures for her to stand. (AUGH!!!!) At that point, she rises and the crowd increased the volume of applause and whoops, I was crazy inside! My little girl was getting her ovation and the crowd was recognizing her good performance. It was so great! The rest of the night went very well and they had a standing ovation at the end of the performance. An encore was had and I think by the sounds of the gallery crowd, they wanted one more encore. The conductor had the orchestra rise on five different occasions at the end and finally he called it a night and went back stage. I think he was as proud of them as any mom in the audience. Whoo -hoo!

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

so much for the "Season Finale"...

O.k. For those of you who don't read the comments section in the posts:

The gals switched personalities and I have changed my vote! The gal from the mid-west totally blew her assignment in so many ways it was ridiculous and was condescending on top of it. It was hard to watch her.

The other gal, who before this assignment, I just couldn't take one more minute of -turned out to be a great boss and praised every team member and was able to turn her team around and impress the sponsors for whom she worked. She, for the first time, was genuine. I didn't feel that hidden agenda she put forth all the previous shows. She was too busy working to try and "work" the camera and impress the viewers. So good job for her. She would get my vote.

The main point for me was the way they both handled team members who they despised. The first gal just kept calling them names and belittling them. The second gal honestly tried to motivate them and turn them into productive players, she respected them for being there even when they had no stake in the venture anymore. The first gal didn't understand that, she showed no respect for those whom she had authority over.

Workers need to be clear on their job, praised for their efforts and above all respected for being willing to do the job.

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I can't help it, I am hooked, and it's a bad thing - I know

Revealing just how horrid and low I can be, I announce that tonight is the season finale to The Apprentice. I am rooting for the Mid-West mom with the Mary Kay background. If the self made real estate mogul wins, I will be upset.

Stay tuned for "best choice of the two" or "what was he thinking?" details tamale!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

With "god" and "diva" in it's name, how can you go wrong?

godiva cheesecake
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

I have nothing to say about this except that the 1 1/2 inch square of chocolate that sat atop this decadent slice of paradise1 didn't have an opportunity to be photographed before it was savoured slowly in the mouth of the author.

Sometimes having a lousy lunch means an excuse for a really great "dessert"!

1 Godiva Chocolate cheesecake, sans Godiva chocoalte square, uhem...

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How many wheat fields had to die for this?

This post will be a primer on the ridiculous. Yesterday I met with a good friend and we did some shopping, and had some lunch. We went to the Cheesecake Factory and after seeing the lengthly menu, I was overwhelmed. My friend made her choice, and confused at what to choose, I picked the first thing on the page I was currently viewing; a chicken pot pie. It seemed a benign choice at best and I figured I could have something to more exciting to write about later, during dinner. I was wrong.

bigger than your fist
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

The waitress took our order, gave us our drinks and casually asked if we would care for bread while we waited. My friend responded in the positive and soon a basket with delicious pumpernickel and sour dough slices was at our table.

After a few minutes I saw an odd look on my friend's face and turned to see what she was grimacing at. The waitress was headed our way with what looked like an alien invasion of Phyllo puffed pastry. She whispered to herself, "Please let that be for someone else, just keep walking..." No such deal. The mother ship had landed. Laughter began as giggles and eventually burst forth as we took in the enormity of the puffed pastry atop the chicken "pie". This this is larger than my hand, Larger than my head!

I like bug buns
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

My first reaction was, "This is why 3rd world nations hate us!" Which was followed immediately by, "This is why America is FAT!" Look at the size of this thing!

"It's takes a village...it feeds a village!"
"Does this qualify the waitress for workmen's comp?"
"If it hovered we could use it for Mars Attacks 2."
"It could frighten small children and elderly ladies."
"I like big buns and I cannot lie!...even white boys gotta shout!"
"APNews: Entire Pillsbury Dough Boy's Family Wiped Out At Local Restaurant. Witnesses report, "He has no enemies, although his ego has been inflated lately.""
"If only I had a Flint-mobile and a rack of Stegosaurus to hang on the outside of my car window..."
"Change this photo to black and white and you have the original first wheel."
"Does this lunch make my bun look big?"
"Can I have a U-HAUL car top carrying case instead of a doggy bag?"
"If I punched a small hole I could wear it like phyllo dough turban!"
"Forget Ninja Stars, throw this at the bad guy."
"You could use this like Captain America's shield!"
"Having an affair at work? Take your someone special to Cheesecake Factory for lunch and hide behind this. Your secret is safe!"
"Need to find out enemy secrets? Force them to eat this or tell. You'll be Head of the C.I.A. in no time!"

What was the waitress thinking when she asked us (knowing we had order the above monster) if we wanted bread? Was she kidding? Do they make bets everyday on what idiot will order the chicken pot pie and become the object of conversation in the restaurant? Seriously, the folks around us were laughing as well. One gal leaned over and asked us what "it" was! I have to admit the comment about the Flint-mobile came from one lady who thought it belonged to Fred Flintstone! It's nice when your lunch (normally a lighter meal of the day) is a party starter! Need to get a conversation going at your next event? Call the Cheesecake Factory and order this baby! Oh My HECK!

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

His name was Mike.

He had been highly educated at one time, "with several degrees from a university"; and in the mid-70's fell into drug abuse. He lost his family and career.

The local diner owner said she would feed him when ever he came in, although she would not serve the others who came in for hand outs. "Mike was different. He felt he liked this lifestyle. He needed to be alone. He was safe and a nice old man."

The grocery clerk said "he was a regular and the nicest man. He would never have hurt anyone."

Another homeless man named, Louie, said, "He was my friend. He was everyone's friend. Just last week he gave me his last dollar. He did that a lot for us guys." Louie also said, "last week some guys tried to take his check, there was a scuffle, but they didn't get it. He gave it to us."

The police report said, "he was asleep when he was attacked and didn't have much opportunity to save himself. He died just outside the children's church, curled up in a fetal position."

Mike. Perhaps he didn't know it last week, but he had friends.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Helaman 13:37

I read a post and all the comments over at The Baron of Deseret a few days ago regarding ambulances and fences. I have pondered many things after reading it. Today, as things sometimes happen, this random reading came back to my mind and with quite an impact.

This morning (at 7:00) I received a call from our Bishop's wife, a good friend of mine. She was asking if I knew anything about the incident that had happened down at out church. I live closer by and my #5 still goes to seminary...

The long story short is that sometime very early this morning a person down at the church called 911 and reported that a body was in the parking lot and had been obviously beaten, perhaps even unto death. Providence being what it is, there was no seminary this morning. I am still in hopes that the person who called was not an ill informed student who came and made the discovery.

My sister in law happened to go down to the church unknowingly and found the entire property surrounded by yellow tape and inquired of the officers there what was going on and what had happened. Although the details are not "on the record" yet, and a 8-10 hour investigation is still in the workings, the unofficial report is that "the older homeless gentleman who frequents our property had been beat beyond recognition sometime very late last night and possibly died from his beating."

My mind is having a hard time wrapping around this information. Our building is situated such that it is very inviting to anyone whom would like to take refuge from the elements or society. There are plenty of places to hide oneself; even while the building is in full use one can hide within 6 feet of doors and stay quietly unnoticed for days. Our facility has, on numerous occasions, had people use it as their safe place and once we even had an entire family hiding within the wind breaks and sheltered architectural structures.

When it has been necessary, dual priesthood holders would give gentle invitations for folks to "move on" or more stern requests to leave the property as soon as possible. There was an incident one YW/AP evening when a gentlemen relieved himself on one of the posts and was escorted immediately from the property. About 8 months ago a homeless women left in such a hurry that she left most of her belongings strewn around the less used entrance, but without incident. Never have we had an event that would have caused anyone alarm or fear.

Since the building was opened it has been the target of vandals, break ins and larceny. But our church is not alone, it seems every church in our valley has been a target at some time or the other - almost on a rotating basis. The bad guys are no longer afraid of God.

The neighborhood near our church building has increasingly been a haven for the homeless. They are seen in full view laying on sidewalks in front of the local grocery mart and other structures late at night, some setting up house keeping at dusk. Both the church and the grocery mart are on or close to the intersection of the two most prominent streets in our town. Did I mention that the local high school is also at this same intersection?

My point is this: The bad guys are no longer afraid of God, traffic, population, or the law enforcement that frequent this intersection. It is agreed that having the homeless camp out at the church was probably not the best solution, nor what the church would endorse. I think our unofficial stance was, "As long as they aren't "present" during church activities, let it go." I don't think the homeless were ever suspects for the break ins or vandalism, they did no harm other than un-nerving a few folks.

This old man had nothing to offer. Who would approach him and what would they gain from accosting him? My greatest fear is that the only thing he had to offer was an adrenaline rush at seeing someone's life diminish before their eyes and knowing they were the cause of another human's death.

I am mourning a man I never knew. And the mourning has quite a sting for I feel perhaps there was something better we, as a society need to be doing.

5:00 edition: Bishop's wife just called and the official statement say this elderly man was bitten and beat until dead on the property.

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear!

Don't you just hate it when you goof up? I woke up this morning in a panic. I had forgotten that I was to present a speech this evening at 6:30 and hadn't yet begun to prepare for it. So I hit the computer and have worked all day in hopes of presenting a half way decipherable message.

So here I sat in my pajamas ALL day and clicked and pointed my way through all kinds of search engines. (To make matters worse, at about 1:30 a young man from our family's past showed up- SURPRISE! I welcomed him in, handed him a cell phone and had him leave messages for everyone he wanted to surprise [besides me in my bathrobe] while I typed frantically.)

I called my sister and asked her opinion. That was a blessing as she directed me to a web site with invaluable insight and a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Whew! But more info meant MORE INFO! So I began to dig through and glean the best.

My only hope was that the speech was only for 15 minutes. But such a broad and deep topic that I was skeptical at accepting the assignment to begin with. Holy Hannah! It is currently 4:32 and I am finally done with my notes.

Here's the rub: At 3:50 or so, I realized today is Cinco De Mayo, May 5th. Umm, My speech doesn't get presented until the 19th. That's like what, 2 weeks away? Yeah, I'm stupid.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I think that song scorched my omlette...

We got up early this morning to attend a Chamber of Commerce Breakfast and for #5 to receive another $500.00 (THANK YOU! THANK YOU!) towards her collage fund!

It's an interesting thing. All my life I have always thought of civic leaders in a certain light. Suits, straight carriage, moral, etc. Then you eat with them. Kablooey! I should be used to this now, as I have eaten with politicians! Talk about dissolutions! But I digress. I also am surprised at what kids these days1 consider "business attire2". You'd be surprised. This stated, I will promptly back up and announce to the world that I am not an expert and make these same faux pas, however, I am not in a leadership capacity, nor do I represent anyone other than myself.

All in all the morning was quite interesting. The room was filled to capacity and everyone was really warm and friendly, very chatty and inquisitive. Nice really. I did note, however, that when addressing the audience that everyone of the speakers, informal and keynote, referred to the members of the room as "you guys"; which I was always brought up to be a major "no-no" within a social or business frame. Perhaps a more appropriate choice would be: "For those of you in attendance...", or "All who would like to...".

That and the use of gender specific titles, such as: "The girls in my office...". I have been told that one currently should use P.C. terms such as: "The co-workers in my office..." or even better, "My associates...", lest you offend those whom work for you, beside you, or have authority over you.

Credit goes out to the 4th grade children who presented a well planned program, including a power point presentation. They each stood straight and slowly enunciated their names and titles, then took a step back and allowed their class mate to do the same. During the speaking portion of their presentation they spoke distinctly and with factual information pertinent to the presentation.

Another part of the morning was the entertainment. Entertaining it was, although #5 and I were a tad blushed when the story-teller broke into song about "Hot hot Sadie, that brazen baby, that hot little lady they all knew!" The story lady was dressed like most story-tellers are, in bright bold colours and completed her ensemble with the obligatory wash board, kazoo, and bicycle horn. Her song was indicative of the 1800's ragtime, although the lyrics were as scorching as the firemen whom "dated" Ms. Sadie. I don't think any others in the crowd were offended at all. She received an ovation and whoops and whistles. Poor #5 was about to burst into flames.

The events were kept on time and on track by a man with a sledge hammer - seriously! He would bang a contraption similar to those used at the county fair to test your strength -DING!- if you went over your allotted time. Everyone had a good laugh over this "tradition", although for all the newbies in the room, it took us a couple of DING!s before we didn't jump and flinch any more.

So there you have it. The leadership folks in the community right next door, who evidently know how to party on a Wednesday morning! God Bless America!

1 - Yes, I have become my mother, thank you very much. 2. jeans, logo t-shirt and basketball tennish shoes; skin tigh black leggings (I thought those went out inthe 90's) with a very thin skin tight turquois t-shirt and bright yellow sking tight shrug wrapped around Dolly Parton-esque torso, with neon strappy stillettos; or camoflage - um, we can still see you.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you get sent to your room!

elephant seals
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Here's a life lesson we should all teach ourselves and those we care about: LauGh! Laughter is GOOD for you. This University of Maryland Medical Center study has research that suggests "that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. Laughter appears to cause the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow." "At the very least, laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium." In layman's terms: Lighten up and enjoy life.

Some of you may be thinking, "yeah right. I've got bills to pay, a kid with studs in her eyelid, and my wife is joining a cult that forces her to only eat broccoli!" Well the scriptures, and I have plenty of them if you want 'em (see the topical guide under "joy" & "adversity"), tell us that EVERYTHING that happens on this floating rock is here for our benefit. Hey, That means the now airline safety check challenged youth and your broccoli eating wife are all part-o- the plan! No one can tell you your kid ain't got a magnetic personality! Hey, your wife makes us green with envy! And the bills? At our house they are so big we give 'em the respect they deserve and address them as "William(s)". (think about it a minute - it will come to you.) If we don't learn to laugh and have a sense of humour, we'll just cry and make ourselves miserable.

I broke both of my ankles on a handicapped access ramp. It hurt like the dickens, and all I could think of at the time was, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" After one foot was put in a cast and the other in some funky boot the size of Kentucky, I kind of stuck out in the crowd. Telling folks you fell off a handicapped ramp defines you as one village idiot. I began to tell folks I did it hang gliding, or saving a puppy from a run away car... (you need to visualize here, trust me, I am not the running into the middle of the street kind of gal, nor will you ever catch me near the edge of a cliff!)

Point here is this: It could be worse. You could be a "majestic creature of the sea" such as my friend at the top, Mr. Elephant Seal. e-gads.

p.s. I sent a copy of this post over to Converstion, so it will be the exact post; but hey, they have all kinds of other great ideas today. Go take a peek!

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Carlton's Log: Day Three, traffic JAMMIN'!

Traffic Jammin'
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

First off can you believe that freeway? I have found the secret to driving in L.A. -hit the road at 5:30 a.m.

We had an early start for our trip home. We needed to travel into Hemet (south east of Riverside in the Inland Empire of SoCAL) for a baby blessing. Yowsers! This little guy actually lives with his ma, pa, and two big brothers in Viva Las Vegas! But the majority of family lives near Hemet where both set of (you guessed it) Grandparents live! The drive was faster than we thought it would be BECAUSE NO ONE DRIVES AT 5:30 IN THE MORNING - ON A SUNDAY IN L.A.! hahah! We be jammin!

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Carlton's Log: Day Two, explore!

After the initial drive around town I made mental notes of where I wanted to explore while Thor was in meetings all day. I set out for State Street. Famous for it's promenade, but also for it's gorgeous and magnificent buildings.

Trinity Episcopal Chapel
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

One of my immediate favorites is Trinity Episcopal Church. This wonderful specimen of Gothic style architecture is a treat for the eyes. I could spend hours just looking at each hand hewn brick with their thousand colours of sand. The linear structure is fascinating as several stacked blocks are equivalent to one, each row of bricks being equal in height. The carved details in the stone arched windows and entries were perfect. To imagine the hands and minds that built this structure makes one feel like they are in the presence of genius. This is not modern technology, this is old world craftsmanship. The serenity of the whole property was peace inducing. The bells in the tower rang on the half hour, calling the worshipers into the sanctuary. On this warm spring morning, it was a great place to sit and sketch in my diary.

Trinity Episcopal Maze
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

In the garden to the side of the chapel is a terrific maze patio. As I sat and sketched the window details, a young woman parked her car, got out and purposely and quietly made her way around and around to the center of the maze. It took her about ten minutes. As she was leaving she came over, looked at my sketches and struck up conversation. It seems she has attended the university here for the past four years. Any time she had questions about life she would walk the maze and meditation on her answers. Graduation is soon and today she was contemplating a job offer and move to Louisiana. Far away from family, friends and security. It seems the maze has always helped her feel closer to the One who will always give her an answer and be there when family and friends are so far away.

Stained Glass
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Walk to a door way and you are greeted with enormous wood doors with strong iron hinges. The doors are open and welcome you to enter. Inside the sanctuary the room is divided into three with two aisles leading to the front pulpit. All four sides of the room have large stained glass windows which glitter in the sunlight streaming through them. They tell the life of Christ in glorious colour and detailed images. The picture of the window here depicts the birth of Christ. Jesus in Mary's arms, surrounded by worshiping shepherds. The windows are tall enough to extend to the top of the second floor gallery and beyond. They are glorious and inspiring. The aisles are supported and divided by tall gothic pillars, carved with more detailed scroll work and high arches that build in layers to a point. There are trefoils everywhere, I am sure to signify the Holy Trinity.

Jesuit Fathers
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Down one block and over one block stands the fantastic edifice of Jesuit Fathers with it's Cake and Icing details that make this one delicious building to look at! Bright white with contrasting sand coloured amazing scroll work and carved pillars, this is another example of artisans glorifying God. This corner facing church is across from a city park but has so many flowers, shrubs and palm trees to practically qualify as a park itself. The greenery shades and gives a coolness to this hot in the sun white structure. Gardens on both sides invite parishioners and passers by to sit and reflect on it's benches and low walled flower beds.

Detail of Door Pillars
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The picture here shows some of the minute details in this gorgeous door frame. All the doors in this church are surrounded by these arched carved beauties. I can't imagine the time and skill involved in hand crafting these! Wow, absolutely magnificent!

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Carlton's Log: Day Two, the shopping

Scroll Work on the promenade
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Everywhere you go in the city of Santa Barbara you can find some beautiful architecture. In old town, the promenade at State Street, there are hundreds of examples like the one pictured on the right. This is a detail of a doorway on an obscure building off the beaten track. The arch way border itself is about three feet wide, making a graceful arch at the top. It descends into the doorway about another three feet. For me, the amazing thing is that the detail in this scroll work is not repeated more than 3 times in the relief which is three stories high. Crazy! There are, in this particular doorway, 5 different "stripes" of relief connecting together to make one huge border. This example has fruit as the theme. The others had scrolls, animals, leaves, and cherubs. All for a doorway! This grand entrance now belongs to the delivery entrance for a store on the promenade, which has an even more grandiose welcome for it's guests. Whew!

I managed to walk through a botanical garden, actual two, that are just one block over from State street. AMAZING flowers and shrubs. The pathways are winding and help you relax and just drink in all this nature. The birds sing and chirp and there are nannies with strollers, lovers hand in hand, and plenty of old timers who are willing to explain this or that flower or tree if you just ask. I could have spent plenty of film in these parks!

After walking through the parks I headed for the promenade and set my sights on Sur Le Table where I picked up some goodies for home and kids. It was nice to have a slow shopping experience and read all the labels and pick up things, explore, and browse the store shelves. I even made a few phone calls to folks to share my finds, which was fun!

Thor called me just about the same time my tummy was, so I grabbed the world's largest grilled chicken burritos (thanks to Tony's on the promenade) and headed back to meet Thor for lunch. We split one burrito and thought we were going to burst! Thor went back to work and I decided to take in the hotel and snap up some pictures of the great blessing we were sharing!

Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Check it out! We have a couple of parents hanging out on the porch. They were busy all day long bring food, and chirping to the little ones tucked behind the wires. I believe they are robins, as daddy bird has a flaming red breast. On the opposite pillar we have another set of parents, big black birds who built their nest on the outer side of the pillars next to a conveniently placed drain spot. They too were busy flitting in and out feeding their newly hatched offspring. Needless to say we have one busy and chirping porch!

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New Blog News! Get in on the Conversation!

I have been invited to join a blog group of intelligent women (hey every village needs it's -well you know). Conversation is comprised of several LDS women who will gather together and have a conversation about different topics (new ones each Monday and Thursday) both LDS related and otherwise. Today's opening topic is Life Long Learning.

I invite all of you readers to go over and get in on the conversation! It should be great getting to know these women and learn a few things from them, and perhaps teach us a few things also. There are various ages, backgrounds, careers, interests and should prove to be an interesting mix. We have travelers, artists, foodies, and even a poet! Moms and grammas, wives and single gals. Highly educated to the gals who walked the road less taken. Perspective is our forte!

Grab a chair and bring something to the table. Comments are not only welcome but encouraged! See you there!

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Sunday, May 01, 2005


Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The host of the conference gave each attendee a list of personal local favorites. He has been a resident of Santa Barbara all his life and so you'd think he would know a little about the town.

Going back in time before I tackle the present. About 15 years ago, Thor and I went to Santa Barbara on a small trip. I had done some research and the best advice I could come up with in regard to dining out in an unfamiliar area was "stick to your chain favorites. If you like Jason's Smokehouse #17, chances are you'll like Jason's Smokehouse #6. Or check the parking lot for local license plate frames; such as Santa Barbara - Harrison Ford (I have waited a very long time to do that joke you better be laughing right now.) We followed that advice and yes, the old time favorites were fine, but we're someplace new! Let's be adventurous! We went in search of local license plate frames. We came upon a steak house with nothing but Santa Barbara plates. Turned out we got food poisoning and it ruined our trip - for three most miserable days.

So with some trepidation we looked at the list provided. As stated in the previous post, we ran into Arnoldi's quite by accident. According to the list Arnoldi's is such a locals only establishment that it isn't even listed in the phone book. The list provided only phone numbers and so finding it by chance was just that. Especially given the neighborhood we were in. Neighborhood is the exact word. There were nothing but houses around this tiny little brick building. A school down the block and a church. (We'll in fairness, S.B. is somewhat like Utah. Throw a rock and hit a church.) We drove around the corner and parked with ease. Not a car in sight. (That's always a good sign of a great restaraunt right?)

The hostess greeted us right off with a huge smile and sat us down by the window. I noticed that a sign across the room stated "MAXIMUM SEATING 55". We're talking intimate dining. The place was dimly lit with tiny candles on each table. A white cloth covered the wood and a little vase of fresh flowers were at the side next to the salt and pepper. Rolled linen napkins with flatware. Almost immediately our server came by with water and wine glasses. Asked if we wanted a wine list or a suggestion for the evening and went in search of Thor's Pepsi and S'mee's 7-up. (hey the sign out front pretty much demanded that someone drink 7-up) As we waited for the drinks I took a look around. Several small tables comfortably apart, and a bar that ran about 3/4 length on the opposite side of the entrance. Above the bar were two t.v.s on each end. A Sci-Fi channel re-run on crop circles was playing and the gal from Scotland seemed sure they were from alien creatures who were trying to communicate with us. Above the bar were assorted deer head and fish (think Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, "I use antlers in all of my decorating"). A terrific sign, vintage I believe, was still in motion. A picturesque tranquil scene of the mountains at night, ahh, with the stars twinkling over the lake and eventually coming together to read Hamm's Beer! All I could think of was the gingle from my childhood: "From the land of sky blue waters..." and that goofy bear wandering, staggering? into the woods. Around the room are other photos. Black and white renderings of the original owners, the original paperwork for the building permit hangs over my right shoulder. Black and white photos of sailors going to war over the left and around the windows. There they are, giving hugs and smiling for the camera while standing in front of Arnoldi's. Plenty of these memories, framed and taken care of over the years hang as a memorial all around the room. There is an invitation placard on the far end of the bar welcoming all to join in the co-ed bocci ball team. Go Arnoldi's!

We decided this place was full of character(s). It was a schizophrenic atmosphere! On the one side we felt we had dropped back into the sixties and into a family bar and deli. On the other hand we were in a quaint Italian bistro with terrific attentive wait staff. Speaking of our waiter, he takes our order and scurries off to the kitchen. Thor decided on the Lasagna and I took the suggestion of the waiter and went with the Penne Pomendoro with mushrooms and sausage.

Each meal came with soup and salad. Our bread bowl had already arrived (and would keep arriving at the slightest look off being emptied) filled with the perfect baguette, thickly sliced, warm and overflowing the small basket. The bread was aromatic, chewy, full of large holes and had the perfect crust. It was served with butter, lots of butter. I would have preferred oil and balsamic vinegar, but the butter was fine and the bread delicious. Our soup came almost immediately from the kitchen; hot and with an aroma that hit the table five steps before the bowl. About a cup of thick vegetable soup, chunky tender vegetables with a puree of veggies in the broth. Broccoli was the star of the soup, but the carrots took a fine second billing. The salad was served in the icy-est bowl I have ever felt. Perfect for the European greens and balsamic vinaigrette. Probably the best I have ever had. Almost raspberry in flavor, very tasty! After inquiring about the recipe I was told there was a hint of garlic and also some grated cheese. It was incredible!

The pasta dishes arrived on steaming flat bowls overflowing with food. Thor's lasagna was out of this world. The layers of fresh cheese and meats were blended to perfection and the sauce was made strictly for this dish. (don't you hate it when your dish's sauce is the exact same sauce as your partners - and they had something "completely" different?) The sauce was a wonderful red, spiced well and thick enough that when Thor was done, it puddled but didn't bleed apart like some sauces do. The meats were so blended you couldn't really define them, and the layers were thin, but packed with ricotta, mozzarella, and meat.

The penne pomendoro was also spectacular. The pasta was al dente and flavorful standing on it's own without sauce. The sauce however was indeed terrific. A deep rich sauce, full of ripe tomatoes and spices that stood up to but not against the flavors of the portabello mushrooms. It was infused with so much cheese that the sauce had become a deep rosey colour. The sauce had been mixed into the pasto so that every nook and cranny of the penne was coated or filled. YUM! The sausage was also ground into tiny bits that it was more a part of the sauce than chunks here and there. This insured a taste of delicious sausage in every single bite! The portebellos were sliced into 1/2 inch slices and left the length of the original mushroom - can I tell you how good these tasted? Nope, indescribable! We were so full after this meal I don't think we ate breakfast the next day!

Conversation was interesting at Arnoldi's. A very friendly gentleman was quietly chatting about the crop circles with the bartender. He came over and asked us how our soup was. "Really good!" "Great, I think I'm having that later, you never know around here what they'll give me." and walked away. We chuckled a bit and thought he must be the local hang around Arnoldi's guy. Every few minutes someone from the wait staff would inquire if we needed anything and how was the meal. Very attentive. Eventually the gentleman from the bar sat down at the table nearest us and invited the hostess to sit with him. They ordered their meals and then turned to us, again to inquire if we were having a good time. I replied that the meal was a great suggestion from a local man who was the host of our conference. "What's his name?" "Joe." "Oh my goodness! Joe ____? I grew up as his next door neighbor! We have known each other since we were kids. He comes in here all the time. Those folks over there are from the conference also, but they didn't say Joe sent them! Hey you guys! Why didn't you tell me Joe sent you?" Laughter engulfs the entire restaraunt and she turns her attention back to us. A short history lesson follows.

Arnoldi's was built in 1940 (April 2nd, 1940) and hasn't changed a bit since the original owners established it. It has been the local hangout for family and friends. The original idea had to be fought for- hence keeping the building permit up lest anyone contend. The original owners eventually had to sell due to age and that's where DeeDee and Jim (the guy from the bar) come in. They bought it and have run it ever since. They LOVE this place. You can tell it really means something for them to have this place and to serve it up right to those friends who wander in. The place "really jumps" on Fridays and Saturdays and their are often receptions and parties in the back. "Go ahead and leave through the back and look at the girls who are practicing bocci tonight, they love it here!" They are proud of the feel of the "joint". They are eager to please. They are eager to thank Joe for sending over new friends! I tell them I know an amateur food critic, the gal over at Food Chronicles. This sends DeeDee into all kinds of joy! She then tells me how Fess Parker comes in as a regular and what a nice, nice man he is and expounds on his resort and how hard it was for him to get it up and running.... and Oprah! Oprah came in, she loved this place too! How great! A food critic! So Chronicler here's the scoop:

Next time you are in or traveling through Santa Barbara take the 101 to the Milpas exit. Take Milpas up away from the beach to Cota. Hang a left and go to Olive. On the corner of Olive and Cota sits Arnoldi's. And as the sign reads, it is definitely Good Food! (if you don't believe me, just ask Oprah!) While you're there say hello to DeeDee and Jim Nonn and tell them I sent you.

good food!
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Arnoldi's Cafe 600 Olive Street, Santa Barbara, 93101

tel (805) 962-5394 fax (805) 962-4552

Lasgna Dinner: $15.00

Penne Pomendoro: $19.00

Experience: priceless! Thanks for the tip Joe!

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