Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Miss W.

She loves Elvis.

Originally uploaded by greenolive4.

Not the old Vegas-y Elvis, but back when he was young, fresh and sexy. Back when he was something new and dangerous! She loves classic rock and dancing. She loves sleeping in and taking her time to get up. She loves to eat out and to shop and to organize her things into categories and her clothes according to the day she will wear them. She loves to laugh and tell stories and she loves to sing simple child like songs.

She is eager to learn and to change. She did a lot of changing in the past 18 months, so much so that folks who knew her then are surprised when they see her now. She is humble and sweet and willing. She enjoys helping out wherever someone can use her. She shows up to all the "clean the building" assignments. She was first in line to do baptisms for the dead whenever the opportunity happened. She was so excited to recieve her own endowment.

She is the mother of two sons. She is the friend of many. She has been far from family for so long they would not recognize her at all. Some are willing but unable to see her and some are still living too much in the past to reconcile with her. Either way it is time for her to return to eternal friends and family. She has kidney failure and such heart failure that she will not be able to recover. All "heroic" measures have been waved with much difficulty by the only one willing and able to do so. Mercy is hard to give when it is your mother and you still wish her to stay. But doing the "right" thing is so hard. Harder still the knowledge that your mother will die without family and that her funeral will not be attended by any blood relatives.

We go each day and talk with her and sing to her. Last night she was moved from her room in the ICU to the floor, and today to hospice care; away from monitors and beeping and pumps and full attention. She was met in her new room by eager friends who came to say "hello, we love you, sleep sweetly, and let go". A chorus of about 12 sang for several hours and had a light time watching her switch gears away from meds and stupors into more pain and awareness, but the inability to communicate other than with eyes that fluttered. A squeeze of her hand at times to those who could connect and a few moans of frustration. She perked up while we talked of Elvis, perhaps she'll get his autograph soon...

We are going to miss you W. We will miss your sweet little face, the skin that made young prime women jealous and the heart that made us all feel warm and loved so well. We will miss you W. Have a safe journey. Happy Graduation Day.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Drink up me hearties, yo ho!

Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Last Thursday we went to Disneyland with #2 and his family to celebrate his birthday. I love going with the baby boy. He is getting totally into the whole experience and sings all the way down the freeway. His little arm pumps back and forth as he sings "Yo Yo Yo Yo pirate life for ME!" Then as we get closer by he can actually direct you on the streets and tell when to turn here or there and get you into the parking structure. During the first ride (the tram from the parking lot) we raise our hands high in the air and get ready for the scary rides.

We even get to meet celebrities, such as Tigger! He is a huge fan. We had to wait a bit in line, but when he walked around the corner and finally saw Tigger he ran so fast and hard to get a hug he pushed Tigger to the ground. They went completely on their bottoms full of the springs, which came in handy when it was time to try and stand again. He was just so happy to see him again.

Originally uploaded by S'mee.

As the day went on we ended up at the ride formally known as "Rocket-Jets". This is one of his favorite rides. Last time he got to ride with mommy, but mommy is busy making a "brudder" so daddy took him on the ride. After the first go round he came off crying. Mommy ran over to him to see if he was afraid, no, he wanted another turn. Normally everyone would have said no way, but it was a walk on, so why not? Daddy took him for "one more ride" and when he got off this time he was all smiles. "That was SO fun! Mommy!" and he ran over to where mommy, grampa and gramma were. He took one look at grampa's soda and said, "I gotta get me some of that!" We all were laughing so hard it was crazy. Where does he get this stuff?

Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Another one of his favorite rides is Buzz Lightyear! This is fun for everyone really. You get to sit in a car and as you travel slowly through the ride there are targets to aim at. Each car is equipped with two "laser guns" that record your scores individually as you aim at and zap your way through the black lit scenery made to look like the inside of a game. After the ride is finished you can stand in line to find your photo. About mid way a photo is taken of you pointing your laser gun and you are able to download this picture and send it to yourself via e-mail (and this is the surprise part) FOR FREE! Who knew you could do anything at Disneyland for free? When you get home there is an e-mail from Buzz that gives you a code to use ONLY ONCE to view and print out your photo. This is a great idea for scrapbookers or grammas with a brag book. There is only one problem with this idea. When you receive the photo there is a very cute logo type banner across the bottom, which unfortunately cuts across the bottom part of the ride...cutting out anyone not tall enough to be seen over it. Baby boy is behind the banner. Grrrrr. Maybe next year.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I couldn't sleep at all last night...doot doo doo doot.

As a little girl, whenever I was feeling ill, in pain, or achy there were two responses from my mom. One was a look of doubt that came along with a lecturette on how the pain was (in essence) in my head and I could get rid of it if I got myself busy. The other remedy was taking some of her prescription medication or a hit of peppermint schnapps.

The backs of my legs would ache like crazy and the diagnosis was always (imagined) "growing pains". I have those same aches to this day- and trust me, I am as grown as anyone can get. Those pains would come with the cold, the rain, or a quick weather change and I would feel it's intensity, just like an old lady. Eventually the pains came with activity and went into my other joints, but by the time I was in high school I learned not to complain about it, because I knew it was "in my head".

Upon physically maturing more problems came. Such aching in my legs and abdomen that at times, my very healthy, strong and fit body of 95-115 pounds would be brought to a fetal position for days at a time. I would cry and moan and at times clench my fist and bang the pillow. I would miss at least three consecutive days a month for years. The diagnosis from mom was that I was a "late bloomer and eventually, after having a baby all this [would] go away, drink this." A hit of strong peppermint alcohol, that I used to think was just to punish me for complaining, but it would knock me out for a day and I would sleep the pain away. To this day I can smell alcohol at about 12 feet and I become immediately nauseated by it.

One particular day my complaint got my mother's attention to the point of her having me take one of her prescription meds. My mother is very intelligent, college educated and was a registered nurse all of my childhood. She taught nursing, ran hospitals as an administrator and seemed to have expertise in about every area of a hospital one could work. She did it all and she was very good at it. But prescribing meds perhaps was not her forte and what she gave me that day was, #1 out of code, and #2 sent me to an e.r. with life threatening issues and a week's stay.

This brings me up to date. I loathe taking drugs. Even over the counter drugs...not a good thing for me to do. I do not react well to everyday things like cough syrup or p.m. tylenol - they knock me out for days at a time. When things get painful I resort to the lowest dose of whatever it takes to get the job done. For years those leg pains went ignored, but eventually Thor demanded a Dr. "either find out what is wrong with [me] or find a good psychiatrist, because the pain was real to [me] and it needed to stop one way or another." It was because of Thor that the doctors finally looked for a solution and took me seriously. Seems the pain is real, and related to a funky syndrome that has a name, but other than that the doctors really have no clue as to what to do about it. So big fat hairy deal. The doctors prescribed muscle relaxers and anti-depression medications for the folks who deal with mess . I tried them both and decided that the pain stayed but I went away. I couldn't function anymore. I quit my job and was in a stupor. I took myself off the meds and now I just take a tylenol when things get too painful. At first it was every night for years and now it is down to about four or five nights a month.

My legs fight sleep. My body fights sleep. I dream vivid dreams every night which is both a symptom and a cause of not getting enough restorative sleep to allow my body to recover from the days' work. I am in some form of pain most of my days. I have almost gotten used to the pain and when I wake up on occasion without pain, watch out! I have so much energy that I want to paint the house or catch-up on all the stuff I have struggled to get done for months. My legs are heavy and unlike most folks my size, my legs are hard as rocks.

If I walk too much (around the mall), work too much (painting a room or standing on a ladder for two hours) or sit too long (a three hour trip in the car) my legs and feet swell up and become incredibly painful. This disrupts my life like you can't imagine. I still do all of those things because even though I know what the result will be, I refuse to allow the pain to stop me from having fun or being 'normal'. But the price is usually another three to four days of just sitting, some small walks around the house and tons of cat naps. During the night my legs "dance" as Thor calls it. Twitching, flinching, spasms that bring sharp pain to the bottom of my feet, the joints in my legs and cramped muscles that must be squeezed to get out of their rigid rock like phase. It is as if my legs are going into rigor mortis while I am still alive.

In addition to the leg problems come the "girl problems" (again a Thor term). When my cycle hits I get the same intensity of pain in my legs, at times keeping me from being able to walk normally or at all. Mygraine headaches come with all the typical markers- halos, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, vomiting, etc. Lately, with menopause looming on the horizon, other funky things add to the mix, unusual bleeding, hair loss, mood swings, pain in weird places, and severe weakness (anemia); so much so that in February I am scheduled for surgery to help alleviate this part of my physical problems. Most women balk or protest when given the news of a hysterectomy, I just about kissed my doctor.

This is the current situation. Surgery is knocking at the door (yippy!) but until then I cannot take tylenol, aspirin, motrin, vitamin e, or herbal remedies (among others). What I can do is wrap my painful parts in heat wraps. Last night was one of the tough nights. I could not sleep for the life of me. I got up at 12:30 or so to wrap mt feet in heat wraps, hoping to take the pain away enough to sleep through it. No such luck. Most of the night I fall asleeps for about twenty minutes only to awaken myself with pain or the constant dancing and rolling. I roll like a 'gater drowning his next meal. All night long, and frankly, on nights such as last night I am not sure how Thor sleeps through it...if he does sleep at all.

So I woke up this moring full of vivid dreams, rolled up bed linens and rocks for legs. I am tired of complaining. I am tired of aching. I am tired of being tired. But hopes is on the way so I will stay the course and be a good girl. Until then, I look like a mess and not too much is being done around the house. Through it all Thor loves me and takes care of me. He doesn't expect much and is always happy and smiling in the morning. Some days, like this morning, he is very stealth-like and leaves without waking me up at all. He gives me the time I need to get what little sleep comes in the morning. Mostly he has always believed me when I had pain and insisted the doctors do something about it. He has been sweet to me when I am grouchy and he rubs my legs when I can't take it anymore. He is a good man and I am SO lucky. Thanks for being so good to me Thor.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

love is in the air...

elephant seals trip
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Last weekend we were invited to go with #1 and his wife for a short over-nighter in their "new" motor home. They had never been up to Piedras Blancas to see the elephant seals, so it sounded like a terrific trip.

Along the beach, safely behind a fence, hundreds of tourists use binoculars, cameras and bare eyes to observe the mating rituals of these enormous beasts. Adult males, weighing in at 4-5,000 pounds, are quite impressive. At first site one is taken back by the car sized mammals laying on the beach. These particular seals are relatively new to the area, having come ashore first in 1990 to make Piedras Blancas their beach front love nest. This is highly unusual as they prefer remote island at sea. Lucky for us, they now like the sunny, if not windy and cold beaches of the Central California Coast. Literally thousands come ashore. November brings the first of the females, teenagers follow in December and the Male/bulls show up in January ready for lovin'.

elephant seals trip-
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

It is hard to imagine just how large they can be. The photo shop illustration (bad as it is) shows what it would be like for a 6 foot man to stand next to a posturing bull. These guys are BIG! Heck, the mommas are big. Even new babies are the size of small children.

When one drives along the highway they can hear the seals loudly communicating with each other. The bulls belch, bellow, chortle, bark and make - what a nearby teenager stated as - "a 4500 pound old man 'passing gas'"- to put it politely. And yes, that is a good description. Mommies bark, and the babies squeal -like monkeys. It's nuts.

elephant seals trip
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
When the bulls beach they are in the mood for love, and because they are so handsome they figure they can spread themselves around and gather a harem. This is fine, until another Mr. Right comes along, then you get trouble. When a new male approaches territory already claimed by a bull, a challenge is presented by throwing a head back, arching a back and bellowing loudly (to impress the ladies). The other bull is alerted and does a great 80's disco "worm", waddling quickly to face off with the challenger. Sometimes barking, belching and a few head tosses is all it takes to discourage a younger or less virile guy. But if Mr. Big Stuff comes along and thinks he can take over the harem- a fight is more than gesture and posturing, it gets down right nasty. Bulls have very large canine teeth that can rip through flesh easily, tearing the blubber right off the hide of a weaker opponent. Head buts, neck bites, and rolling result in torn flesh and blood loss. Eventually the weaker one will get the hint and leave the stronger fellow to the gals.

elephant seals trip
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Once dominance is established, the big boys get to work impressing the ladies one at a time. Sometimes even all the muscles in the world are not enough to sway a new momma, or a gal with high standards. Here, our new mom has had enough. Although he is very aggressive, she is able to dissuade his affection by swatting sand, barking objectively, and making her way away from the advance. He is disappointed, but only for a short while as other beauties are within a short distance and all it takes with some of them is a nice profile. Some girls are easier than others! This photo shows the size differences in a fairly new pup, mom, and bull.

elephant seals trip
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Elephant seals get the majority of attention on the beach, however there are other wildlife to see. The chipmunks have gotten so used to the photographers and gawkers that they almost pose in hopes of making it into someone's photo album. Sand pipers, gulls, cranes and hawks are all easily photographed if you have a camera ready. There are zebras and other exotic animals down the road on Hearst Castle property.

Piedras Blancas is on the Central Coast about 5 miles north of San Simeon. Just south of this particular beach is one of the "world's best wind surfing, kite surfing beaches" according to the signs. So, when you get your fill of aggressive blubber filled mammals you can drive south a minute and watch aggressive testosterone filled mammals one-up each other in the surf and wind.

Most of the action takes place around Valentine's Day (how appropriate, but true!). The more alpha males come ashore the less females are available, so the fighting reaches quite a peak. Thor and I make this trip several times a year and we always stop for at least a half an hour to take in the sight. There are usually some elephant seals on the beach year 'round, however, the action and activity is only in the January and February mating season. Other times they are just resting or feeding off shore, and there are no guarantees they will be there when you drive by.

The closest "big city" is Morro Bay, which ain't saying much. There is limited camping at San Simeon, and know that the small town is catering to the tourists who flock to Hearst Castle...read $$$ for hotels, food, gas, etc. Other camp sites are about two hours either direction and the drive is easy and scenic. Pack a lunch and make it easy (read:cheap) on yourself.

Parking is available, although not paved. Warning: DO NOT park on the highway. There are police officers (even when you can't see them) who would like nothing more than having the tourists donate funds to the local economy via a parking fine. Take your time and drive through the lot provided, I promise you will find a space. The area for viewing is about a half mile(?) and easy to walk. You will want to walk the entire length to see all you can. Lots of the same thing, but a good fight or birth is worth the trip if your timing is right.

Bring a coat, gloves, and a hat as it is cold and windy here most of the year. Bring a camera with lots of film, and if you can afford it, one with a telephoto lens. A video camera is well worth it also. Binoculars will afford you spectacular close ups, but you are fairly close to the action and can see plenty without them. Be aware that if you bring little ones or the teenagers you will have to explain procreation, birth, the whole circle of life as it is happening right there in front of them and hard to avoid. There are, on occasion, dead babies that roll in and out of the surf, which is hard to witness too.

Docents are on site most of January and February to answer all sorts of questions; but there are also informational signs provided in English, Spanish, and other languages.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006


What a couple of days! I just got back home; after church, later tonight, I will try to post with photos... s'mee you soon!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Light bulbs, bells, whistles...all going off

Have you ever thought, "dang it! I just bought these jeans! WHY DON'T THEY FIT LIKE THEY DID IN THE STORE?"

Kathleen explains it all! Jump on over to Fashion Incubator and check out her January 17 post on pet peeves... you too will understand why you just "gained weight" in a matter of days.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

I've got you ...under my skin, I feel you...deep in the heart of s'mee!

in the bag
Originally uploaded by Stitch.

Everyday people all over the world make little "to do " lists. This morning, mine included a stop by the local blood bank to donate a unit.

I am usually very prompt. I showed up for my 10:00 appointment at 9:28. I knew something was up when I followed a little black jeep into the empty lot. The jeep in front of me parked in the "reserved for blood bank staff" space, and the owner popped out of the jeep and into the building. I found my space and by the time I looked up I didn't notice who had left, but I did notice a few other things.

One was the cartoon nurse on the rear window. This is an indication of the owner of said vehicle being a nurse. Not a complicated code, pretty obvious. The other thing I noticed? Well the license plate frame which read: "PSYCHO *ITCH FROM H*LL!" Just the thing you want to see as you are about to lay down on the big blue chair and expose a vein.

If you will recall, last week I made reference to my low blood pressure and the inability of most folks to actually find a pulse, beat, evidence of life at all within my veins. After the initial paper work I was called back into the screening room for the interview portion of the competition. Ms. F was my LVN for the day and she seemed fairly nice. We chatted as she fought to find the required life form cursing through my body; once found, she smiled and I could see a bead of perspiration gently fall towards her cheek. The finger stick revealed that I was indeed anemic but right at the cut off point for the offering I was to give. She also remarked that I was "remarkably relaxed". Where have I heard that before?

She explained the procedure and we went over to the comfy big blue chairs. She asked if I had a preferred arm, "no", and went to work. She pumped the BP cuff and had me squeeze a small rubber globe while she palpated my arm for just the right spot. She explained that the needle was larger than a regular needle and that I might want to look the other way, but that she had done this thousands of times and would try to make it as painless as possible. (yeah right, they all say that don't they?) She remarked that she found a good vein and with a few -almost undetectable- pokes she was satisfied and began to reach for other things. In my head I was very impressed. She did know what she was doing! I barely felt it at all! She was by far the best needle poker I have ever had! I decided to take a peek at the needle, kind of that looking at the accident as you slowly drive by morbidity. I turned my head and found the spot. She poked me alright, with the back end of a bic pen! It made a hard little indented target for the real thing. She asked me not to move and went in search of her tools.

Things were going well until I heard her gasp.

"Oh shoot. I am so sorry. NATALIE! NATALIE! HAS ANYONE SEEN NATALIE? I NEED NATALIE STAT!" At this point she asks me to "look away" and assures me, "although this isn't normal, it does happen on occasion...NATALIE! I am so sorry, are you in pain?" (should I be???) I really wasn't feeling anything other than the intense grip she had on my arm and a little tingly.

Eventually another gal came over... the head honcho of the blood bank(according to her badge and demeanor), the one that just happened to be substituting from the county head quarters today and had been heard previously in less than happy tones. She put on her happy face, one so happy that I was thinking "she doesn't want me to get mad and sue" -seriously her face was strangely happy. You know, the face they save for telling the terminally ill they "have three weeks to live" happy. She followed with an apology and a string of questions to find out if I responded in this manner when I gave blood before. I managed a glance at my now revealed arm and there was not only a large bruise, but a large swelling also. They were busily wrapping it and instructing me on how to get the swelling and bruising to come down quicker.

side bar: If I had this reaction when I give, donate, otherwise leak blood, it begs the question "Why would I do this again?" So much for reason.

On to the other arm. After having to re-set up the instruments she found a vein and stuck in the needle. This time it stung internally like all get out and the sting stayed for about five minutes. Now they didn't say anything, but I am wondering if there was some magic potion on that needle to prevent my arm from ballooning up. We may never know. She put warm pack all over that same arm and had me hold a warm pack instead of the squishy ball everyone else had. All went well, but I am a little bruised on both arms. Pretty.

As I walked into the canteen a very friendly little gal offered me my choice of beverage and some cookies. The gal at the table next to me had two bags of chips -doritos and cheetos, and 3 assorted Pepperage Farm cookies - the good ones. Hefty guy across from me had a small sandwich, three chocolate chip cookies and was in the process of asking for another bag of cheetos and another room temperature water. I received my pine-orange-banana and had a couple of iced raisin cookies...one of my favorites, but honestly, I had been there now for almost 3 hours and I wanted someone to drive up the block and grab an IN-N-OUT cheeseburger for me. (I did stay long enough to see Madagascar two and a half times through...I wanted to move it, move it, right outta there.)

While I was waiting the canteen gal brought me a red t-shirt and thanked me for "bleeding for the martyrs". She also gave me paper work for other freebies for donating this particular day. I felt pretty guilty, MLK day was yesterday and frankly the appointment was given to me not by choice, but necessity. I didn't make the connection until she mentioned it.

On the way out three really sweet little ladies asked me to take their photo in front of Martin Luther King's poster o-the day and the U.S. flag as they held a flyer with his picture on it as well. One of them hugged me "for Dr. King" and then another replied that it was "nice of a white woman to honour Dr. King by donating blood". I felt really guilty then, but didn't want to seem like a goof, so I just smiled and left. Sorry Martin, you are a great guy, I just forget because #2 shares your birthday and I remember him instead of you; it's a mom thing more then a national issue.

So all's well that ends swell I guess. In the immortal words of Roseanne Roseanna Danna: "It's always something!"

(thanks to Stitch for the photo!)

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Dim Sun...

Well a few years back my dear sister proposed a terrific idea and today, dear readers, it's here!

The SunspOt! (click on the little logo at the right) This amazingly simple little device will eliminate that horrid glare through the window as you drive into the sunset. It just flips on and flips off to be placed where ever you need to dim the sun! It just sticks to the window without any glue of gooey stuff, it just sticks! She has a great little border on it so it also removes with a flick of your finger, you don't need to pick away at it, just grab the edge and it's off to be moved else where. I LOVE IT!

O.k. one flaw... she designed it for the car only and so her instructions talk only about the car. (in your best "ronco" voice) BUT THERE'S MORE! I actually have another one for in my family room, because of the west facing window in there. Holy Hannah! For the last two sunlit hours of the day you feel as though you are sitting on the surface of the sun. The glare is amazing. So now I just pop my SunspOt over that part of the window. I get the sunshine without the blinding glare! Yeah!!!!

She has two sizes to choose from, (6" and 10"x4") both are priced under $11.00. with shipping included! You won't get a free shop vac and you won't get to try it free for thirty days and keep the lint brush, but you will have that one nasty little bright spot dimmed perfectly! If you think you could use one of these little guys just click on the SunspOt logo at the right and the link will get you all set up. Thanks!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

a family favorite...

"Give" said the little stream, "Give, oh give, give oh give!"
"Give" said the little stream as it hurried down the hill.
"I'm small I know, but wherever I go the fields grow greener still."

"Give" said the little rain, "Give, oh give, give, oh give!"
"Give" said the little rain as it fell upon the flowers.
"I'll raise their drooping heads again!" as it fell upon the flowers.

Give then, for Jesus give. Give, oh give, give, oh give!
Give then, for Jesue give, there is something all can give.
Do as the streams and flowers do, For God and others live.

Singing, singing all the day, "Give away, oh give away!"
Singing, singing all the day, "Give, oh give away!"

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There is something all can give...

Susan over at Strange Pulse wrote about doing service projects, which got s'mee thinking this morning.

Wow. When the kids were very little we found little ways for them to serve. We tried to teach them that there were even secret ways to serve, and the reward was similar to what Santa Claus feels when he drops off toys without expecting any himself. It worked. They also found that there were ways to contribute that people would be aware of their efforts and that feeling was also good.

Thor was a great teacher when it came to service. He would counsel the kids that if service was given with a frown or heavy sighs throughout -it didn't count as service but as an additional burden towards whomever was on the receiving end. Teaching that being served is at times very difficult for some independent souls to bare. So when you serve it should always be with a happy face and some singing (made up songs optional). Nothing incurred wrath more strongly than if you worked with Thor and made a big deal about it.

As the kids grew up the duty to serve others also grew. There were ample opportunities and sometimes the choices for service, whether community or otherwise, were overwhelming. Sometimes it would be easy. Collect unused books for the boys' home in town. Pack last year's back pack with grooming items and a sweat suit, a blanket, sox and a pair of shoes for the shelter. Clear out the old toys for to make room for new ones by donating them to the D.I..

When the choices became too varied we would have to work our way backwards. If #1 was into the outdoors, then we took that talent or interest and tried to find way that he could serve outdoors. Helping someone landscape, building a community park, cleaning the highway, being the moving guy, etc. #2 was into sports so he could volunteer at the community center, show little kids how to obtain a certain skill, painting and detail work was also a good service for him,#3 was patient and understanding so serving in medical facilities and shelters was perfect for her. #4 was nicknamed "Superman" very early on because he wanted to save someone every day. While still a cub scout he took to heart the pledge to do a good turn daily and made it a goal to never let a day go by without helping someone. He would come home with stories of this guy or that gal who needed some physical help or car fixing. He managed to be home late most every day and to most of his dates. His wife says he still (on occasion) shows up to church 20 minutes late with greasy fingers from changing a tire or fixing a belt. #5 worked performing for the elderly on a regular basis and also within the shelters.

Some charities require volunteers to have specific training, tools, skills, and committed schedules of service. Some require spur of the moment commitments while others allow you to drop in. Some invite you to serve from your home, but using your personal equipment, computers, phone and utilities, etc. Some just want your money, others want the use of your vehicle, others want your confidentiality and a contract before you can volunteer. There are age limits, gender limits and with some, a background search with fingerprinting, vaccinations, waivers, etc.

The key to voluntarism is that we understand our limits. It is hard to commit to a time schedule when it is something we dislike or can't handle. Emotions can run deep in some circumstances and trigger past hurts or joys which should be considered. If we have been in a specific situation (past or present) it can both help and hinder our effectiveness within a given organization. If we find that we have chosen the wrong place, explain it as soon as possible to the supervisor and find another place/area to serve.

The main thing is to have fun and like Thor recommends serve with that happy face and a song.

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Now I just need that ticket to Paris...

Mark at Mo'Boy Blog had this quiz and suggested his readers take it. The following is my result.

You scored as Art.
You should be an Art major! How bohemian!





























Somehow I thought the math scores would be at the bottom. I have thought about Anthropology, but then I thought again. Engineering, English, Chemistry, and Biology were never even on my radar screen, which eludes to something...You can also find out if you took the correct major in college or if your passion has somehow been misdirected by clicking on the link below!
What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with QuizFarm.com

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

a day at the dental spa...

So here it is. I have been sketchy at best for the last few weeks, particularly at reading blogs and writing in this one. As I read them I am seeing a trend, a theme perhaps...The resolutions, goals, or even reviews of the past year.

I am almost two weeks into 2006 and my house is still filled to the brim with Christmas. I have managed to take down the Christmas stockings and pack up my nested boxes, but that's as far as it went. The Bishop came over to my house the other night (to discuss all the mess in our ward and also the deaths, etc.) and as he was leaving pulled me aside and complemented me on the decorations at the church, mainly the tree in the foyer. I had to correct him, telling him that because of the other conflicts I had to delegate that usual assignment to Sister F., who did indeed do a fine job. He looked me straight in the eye and said, I noticed the difference in the style, I was eluding to the fact that you need to take it down or make that assignment also. Ugh.

Along side of the ill cleaning and packing, I have had a few surprises that have taken my attention and time away, and some appointments that I knew about that did the same. I will be lucky if I get that tree and other decorations put away by next Sunday, but it will get done - somehow.

One appointment that I had this week was yesterday, and it was one I have looked forward to for quite some time. I got to be my daughter's patient. Thor and I went down to her school and checked in to see her and after a few minutes she came out in her lab coat and scrubs and asked for Thor. She looked so cute, um, professional. It was soon my turn and she did a great job. She had to do all the regular prep/assessments that dental hygienist's do.

After the exam #3 pronounced, "Mom! You have a very nice mouth!" (I was pleased) and then she quickly giggled and said, "I bet you don't hear that everyday!" ( I am sure she meant it as -"that's a weird compliment" - but I know there is a "My mom has a potty mouth" slam in there somewhere) I was both pleased and shamed! She later said she didn't remember saying that, but she was laughing pretty hard when I was retelling the story to Thor. hmmmm.

Evidently I also take pain better than Thor in her eyes as she gave me the harder assignment of getting "x-rays no modern dental office would ever use, but we have to learn how to take them anyway." I guess modern technology has eliminated this particular procedure and the pain that goes with it. However, as she was pulling the rather large plastic covered film from my mouth I sprayed her like an anemone being poked on a sunny day. "Wow Mom! You have a great 'whatever the anatomically correct name is for that squishy thing under your tongue that squirts when you open your mouth too wide- I mean really- WOW!" (I hate it that my kids know the name of that thing and I don't and that the squirty action has a name as well - gleek or something like that. e-gads I'm dumb!)

One problem, I have very low blood pressure. In the doctor's offices I have been to all my life no one has ever gotten a good reading on it the first time out. Never once has an automated machine been able to get it. So, for s'mee, it always goes like this:

S'mee: I have low BP, so you may need to take it manually.
Nurse: This will get it, don't worry.
Machine then pumps the living day-lights out of my ample arm while pinching my delicate and oh so sensitive skin. Eventually it begins to slowly release air and tries to make a reading. This is repeated at least twice, but more than likely three times before the nurse finally realizes "This stupid machine isn't working today!" Frustrated she grabs the manual cuff and again, pumps it up so high and so hard I wince which is always followed by a "UM, yeah right! NO one your size can have low blood pressure and so I HAVE to pump it up into atmosphere so I can get it to read your HIGH BP numbers" face.
Nurse: I don't know why this isn't working either. Let's try it like this.
S'mee: If you put the cuff here (adjusting) and the stethoscope here (adjusting) ... pump it about half as much as you do. You can look at the meter and it will begin to twitch slightly and then stop and I will signal you when I feel it begin and end.
Nurse glaring and re-adjusting back to her postitioning: This is the correct position and REALLY, I know what I am doing.
Now we go through her way at least once more and frustrated she goes to the chart and tries to find out what my BP has been in the past. As she walks to the chart I say: it's usually right around 75 over 50, or 80 over 55 if I am stressed. I have some days when it is 70 over 40..." When the nurse will always remark, "You'd be in serious trouble if.... oh, um...(reading reading)..Let's try this one more time.
Finally they get a reading and yes it is usually about 75 over 50.

Yesterday my daughter had the opportunity to try and find the BP. She actually listened to what I said, placed the instruments where I said they would be more successful, and tried. She tried twice and then said. "You DO have a low pressure mom, I can't hear it at all. So I am going to let the nurse on duty give it a try. I can see it wiggle, but I am not sure I would be too accurate." The nurse comes over and she explains that I have very low BP -especially for someone my size- and that she needs more information on how to hear it. The nurse tries and she looks and me and says: "You have very low pressure, you sure you're alive? haha! Well, I am going to try and grab the doc, she'll find it." The doctor comes over and she tries -twice- before she gets a reading and asks, "Are you one medication?" "No, nothing but a vitamin and I just started those yesterday." "Wow, you've got low pressure!" At that point my daughter replies, "She's very relaxed."

All in all the reading was 78 over 58 and I guess the pulse reading was also very low. Yeah, I'm relaxed. Being in a dental chair was the most relaxing part of all last week. How many of us can ever say that?

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Good Man

Today was Chris' funeral. He was only 22 years old but had a great impact on a great many people. The chapel was filled to overflowing with friends and family who came to hear the message of the young man's life.

A theme throughout the service was how generous and sweet this shy hulky man was. His smile and big bear hugs were famous, as was the 32 ounce cup of the soda of the day. This is a man who walked away from gossip, clung to truth and learning; and had a habit of finding ways to give away money, rides, service and even his clothes when needed. If a stranger needed something, he found a way to give it. He was a defender of young women and pretty much anyone or anything weaker than himself. He had a reputation of seeing good in everyone and his Patriarchal Blessing was quoted, stating his "divine gift for loving the unloveable."

Folks who knew him well wondered what he would think of all the fuss and all the crying at his funeral. Then almost as if he answered each of us, we understood, that Chris would have looked at us with that shy smile and said, "hey, whatever you guys need to get through this is o.k. by me. Just don't get too ridiculous." Whatever it took to make others more comfortable than himself.

He served an honourable but shortened mission. One to always be physically active, he was on a service project when he injured his back. He was sent home in hopes of a short recovery and then back to serving more. After two surgeries he was in so much pain and difficulty, permanently disable to the point of not being able to sit, stand or sleep for more than three hour increments. His life had gone from one of extreme physicality to one of constant monitoring, therapy and pain. Through it all he persevered and tried to see what positives he could in life.

Chris passed away on New Year's Day from an enlarged heart, caused by meds and other complications. In a way we all knew his heart was larger than most. It seemed a conclusion this was Heavenly Father's way of letting us all know it was o.k. and it was his time. He always was searching for more truth and deep understanding of the Gospel. He wanted to know the answers to the hard questions and more than anything he wanted to return to his mission. Heavenly Father allowed Chris the opportunity to relieve his body of pain, find out the answers to his questions from those who have gone on before, and to serve on a new mission where enlightened Gospel truths now are more fully understood.

Chris was laid to rest under an olive tree and near the boulders he loved to climb. The sun was bright and the sky was clear. It was appropriate for this young man who was so dear to us all.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

He walks the line...

power lines-06 001
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
There we go! Thought I'd put up photos of the new shiny poles. I guess the next time the winds blow that hard these new steel poles will put up a bigger fight.

power lines-06 002
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Oh and as a side note, I found out my nephew was on the crew that put these babies up. Way to go, kid!

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006


From before the beginning of the world we knew the plan. We would wait for our turn on Earth, grab a body, learn as much as we could, experience life, and be tested...again, and again, and again.

For Chris, well, he followed the plan to almost perfection. He was one of the valiant, saved for the latter days, to be tried and tested and learn and grow. He had this warm shy smile that got him into both your heart and into "fun". Some of his tests were more difficult than others but he always found a way to pass. Some who didn't know him well enough may have thought he was full of spit and vinegar or perhaps walked to close to the edge. To those of us who know him, we "get" him. We know that he felt if you weren't living on the edge you were probably taking up too much room. He explored everything good and exciting. He enjoyed company. He made a friend of pretty much everyone.

Chris was at our house from a very early age. His giggle was more often heard than words, and his help offered more than a complaint. He seriously would have given you anything you required of him and was always happy to share. Not a normal thing for a small kid or even a teen aged boy, and magnified as a young adult. He had no rules for friendship, other than everyone deserves a friend. Even a stranger. Sometimes that scared those of us who had a bit more wisdom, but somehow he always came out ahead of the game because of his generosity.

He was constantly encouraging our son to this or that and they had so many adventures. After talking with #4, I think those adventures have now become sacred to him. He thinks of Chris as his brother, he felt it when he passed away, before any one could explain to him, #4 "just knew".
I went to to personally tell #4. I went to his church and went in search of him, thinking I would pull him out of the main worship service. As I walked down the main hall I saw #4 standing there, looking confused. When he saw me, he began to tear. I started to ask him. "Did some.." And he stopped me short. "Mom. Your here to tell me Chris died, right?" "Yes. Who told you?" "No one. I just felt it. I felt it all morning. Seeing you just confirmed it." And he began to cry.

Chris has so much pain recently. So much change in his life that he could not control. He was struggling with making new life plans, finding his way on an altered course. Trying to be optimistic about remaking his life to fit his new body. He had been given so many tests.

They say we are here to take tests. Chris passed. He passed all of his tests well and now he has graduated with honours. He is on to greater, higher education. And as in most graduations, there are tears of both sadness and joy. Hope for the future and what will be accomplished and fondness in the memories of the days we all shared while learning together.

I know Chris is a smart young man. I know he knows what his future holds and I am positive he is making new friends, renewing old relationships and shyly giggling while being a friend to everyone he meets.

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The rainbow connection

-power lines-06 048
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Never in my life have I seen such beautiful and vivid rainbows! It doesn't show how gorgeous they were, but yesterday as we drove around and searched the desert for interesting things, we saw many full bows, all so bright!

I wish I had a camera that would have accommodated the size and arch of these, they were truly amazing. The rainbow in this picture was actually a double full arch, SOOO pretty!

Just when you think life is dreary, God sends you a rainbow!

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A lineman for the county...

We had some wind. Or should I say we had some wind!

power lines-06 032
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

We have lived in this same little town since 1979 and we have seen some winds. Heck, it's almost a town motto. If you look up the stats on our town you will find that the wind-she does indeed blow- and just about every day. That's why it's called a desert and nothing grows. It is too busy blowing the seeds north or south for anything thing to stick long enough to sprout. But then there was January 1, 2006.

We had such hard wind that things got tossed around a bit.

power lines-06 024
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
In the top photo you can see that from one of the main intersections on the west (left) for about 2/3 mile to the east, power lines came crashing across the "main drag". They just snapped in two and fell across the highway. The photos I took are from standing in a parking lot, which is on what they have here (horrid idea btw) - the outer highway. The poles you see still standing are snapped in half. In the second photo you can get a better idea of just how intense the wind was and just how fast these lines went down. That's a steel post that looks triangular.

bell mt.-power lines-06 030
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
In the third photo it shows one of the first poles still hanging in the air. The tension on the highwires was so that all the insulators (the cap-like pieces between the wire and the pole arms) were pulled towards the west at a tight angle; and this for over a mile in opposite directions.

The wind (and rain!) continued throughout the day and well into last night as the linemen worked getting the power back on. We were out of power for about 10 hours. It was interesting to watch the repair work being done and just how and what needed to be done to insure the safety of the men. This is a huge part of Thor's family trade. His dad was a lineman. It was fun to sit next to Thor (who was home with a pretty bad 'thor' throat) in the car as he explained a lot of it to s'mee. It was particularly nice, because this time there were visuals to accompany the explanation! Did you know that the transformers (white canister looking thing on the pole - 3 in the 2nd photo, on the ground) contain an oil?

We were able to stay far enough away from the men as they worked but close enough to witness; and would stop by a couple of times during the day and night to see the different processes at rebuilding the line. They had to work on some of the line while it was still hot, then after a while they were able to shut some of it down.

Poles had to be stabilized and then eventually cut into manageable pieces (still to heavy for three men to pick up) and be removed along with all the wires and pieces of the pole that had been damaged. A couple of the poles at either end were literally bowed by the weight and stress and were being tethered to the ground with cables or actually held into a secure position by line trucks or booms. New holes had to be drilled and new pole set into place. Section of wire had to be reinstalled and others had to stay in place and be readjusted. A haz-mat team was sent to clean up certain spots where the oil spilled, while other crew members scoured the street and area for debris. I am still amazed that they could re-lay an entire 2/3 mile of line in one day.

I suggest that if you want a clearer look, click on the photos. All in all it was an interesting New Year's Day.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006


Sk8 Silueta
Originally uploaded by EPIDEMIA_.
We woke up this morning to very sad news. The best friend of our #4 passed away sometime late last night or early this morning. It was a shock to hear this news as he is only 21 years old.

He was at our house constantly as a little kid. It was at his house that #4 had most of his growing up fun. Making things, teasing the sisters, learning about birds and gardening; eventually driving cars, skateboarding, making home videos, and chasing the girls while staying out of trouble. They both had the same first names and there for a while, it seemed like every boy that age was named the same. Yell at one and they all came running.

His mom and dad are wonderful folks and good parents. His "little" sister, I am sure is going to be quite lost without him around. His grandparents are going to miss one of the best grandsons ever.

Big blue eyes, a head full of amazing blonde curls, a strong heart and willing Spirit. He could converse with anyone, make all his friend, and was generous to a fault. He could see what others missed, potential. He was great at finding the good in folks and making sure they knew he saw it in them. He had a keen sense of fun and adventure, and a husky giggle that would send the girls into space. Shy, quiet, and deep down sweet.

I, among many, will miss this great young man deeply.

Happy Graduation Day, see you soon buddy.

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