Wednesday, March 29, 2006


o.k. So I am sitting in an airport terminal (#2 to be exact) and because we are here about 2 hours early, thought I'd write a blog entry. I will say in advance that because I am using the laptop and it's Thor's, I can't enable the sorry about any spelling errors.

I have decided that although I really hate dropping 65,000 feet (heck I hate dropping 4 feet) flying is a must. If flying is a must then I prefer to go Jetblue. One reason is they have a "port" (is that what they call it?) in Long Beach aka John Wayne Airport. For S'mee this is a good thing. The drive from our house is faster than most of the other airports and the freeways we need to take to get there are usually less active than the other more crowded freeways, i.e. the 60, the 91...yikes.

Another reason is the parking is pretty hassle free. Easy to find number one. Have you ever tried to find the danged parking lots for the correct terminal at LAX? Holy Hannah! John Wayne has a small little lot and the shuttle drivers search you out and pick you up at your car, no hiking to the nearest tram stop. Yes, I am lazy when lugging heavy baggage and while toting my carry-on and wearing a wool coat in the rain. (and yes, I know that last sentence was really ugly, but I am way tired)

So here we are waiting for 8:00 to arrive. We went to bed last night at about 10:30 thinking we could get in a good night sleep and be fresh for the 3:30 wake up call and drive into town. Well it was as if we were both 10 years old and anticipating a trip to Disneyland for the first time. Neither of us could sleep a wink. Not even tired! UGH! So we laid there and watch Leno and even that didn't help. Up at 3:30 and in the car.

D.C. awaits our arrival. D.C. is always interesting. Thor never knows until sometime during a meeting or conference (which is it this time???) if he will get an invite to this party or that and if someone "important" will be there to glad hand or ask for money, support, or endorsements. Sometimes these rubber chicken dinners are actually a good time. Like the time he was invited to a company dinner (no expectations, just come and eat). Arrive at such in such Italian eatery and tell them the group name. At that he was led to the top floor of the building and sat down to an all night feed fest complete with strolling Italian musicians who led everyone in drinking songs after the meal was finished. There was the time we were entertained by the most amazing Flaminco dancers, so close to us you could feel the heat from their bodies and get an occasional splat of their sweat.

There was one breakfast here in SoCal when we were able to meet the (then) current governor. It sounds impressive until you realize the guy will never remember meeting you. That particular breakfast happens every year on the same day... it can be a recurring nightmare. For instance the years they had this little girl "entertain" us. She had a pretty good voice for a child, but let's get real. What the real important part was she had a very good stage mom who is somewhere as we speak trying, pushing that same sad little girl into pageants or American Idol for the preteen set. During one performance, not only did the little gal not know the correct words to our National Anthem (and the rockets did dare- to go up in the air...), but kept singing it over and over incorrectly. Follow that up by a horrendous rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings" sang personally to the awkwardly put on the spot governor who just stood there like "what the heck???". As the song was nearing it's tedious end the governor raised his hands over his head and waved them "in the air like he just don't care" and this gave her an opening to slide into another song.... the poor man had a look on his face like "SOMEONE STOP HER!!!" I kept waiting for Secret Service Agents to take her out, but your tax dollars were not at work that day. Two more 8 year old versions of country pop hits like "I'm Proud To Be An American" and pretty much everyone wanted to hurl.

Well gotta go, see you in D.C.!

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

knowledge and "useful" knowledge

With all talk about knowledge and how it can help one during life over at Conversation, it brought back a memory of mine.

Thor and I like to drive down to Santa Monica and hang out on a Friday or Saturday night at the 3rd Street promenade. It's a 3-5 block section of 3rd Street that is closed off to traffic making it a pedestrian strolling mall dotted with street performers and artists. Also, the stores along the street are trendy, high end and some are down right kooky. Bookstores have always been a place for us to hang out.

Way back in the day, before Barnes and Noble landed on the Promenade there was a large albeit funky bookstore with all sorts of nooks furnished with cozy chairs or couches for you to peruse a piece of interesting literature. Thor would usually pick up a book of sci-fi, religion, or a piece of history. S'mee? I went for the real crainial stuff one night: "How Do They Do That? Famous People explain how they do what it is they do that has made them famous!" It had all sorts of "famous" people in it, stunt riders, sword swallowers, and I picked it up and thumbed through it... "Chevy Chase -famous for prat falls down stairs." So I stood there for about a minute and read how he was able to throw himself down staircase after staircase and just stand right up and smile... unhurt. How does he do it???

Fast forward about ten years. A friend of mine had a child who was having to testify in a very nasty court case. I went along with her to the County Seat to lend moral support. About the third day in, the day I happened to be in a red skirt and jacket with my favorite red suede heels, the court broke for lunch and we all headed out for a bite. The court room we were attending was on the third floor. The building is one of those magnificent old buildings with high vaulted ceilings, marble floors and grand marble staircases that took competition away from the one elevator. The kind of elevator that has a older gentleman to open the accordion gated door and actually hand operate the half moon style floor directory as it jolted to a start and stop.

For whatever reason we were the last to leave and I was at the end of the 40 or so person pack descending the staircase. I started down the staircase and my pretty red kitten heel became caught on (what's the luck?) the small sandpaper strip that is glued (or not) onto the edge of the slippery marble step to keep one from falling down the stairs. Did I mention this was the second step from the top? And that the staircase was very long as to accommodate the tall ceilings and actual floor heights? My foot came out of the shoe part of the way and hung on for dear life in the toe. Well, (you could see this coming right?) I began to fall.

And fall I did. And as I fell I could immediately see that the folks ahead of me on the descending stairs were turning to look at me, and seeing me -in all my red blurry glory heading straight for them- saved themselves and got out of my way by squishing themselves up against the railings. As this started to happen my mind raced back to the book on Chevy Chase. It's weird how fast your mind can work! "All I do is commit and go with it knowing if I resist I will get more bruising and broken bones than if I just relax. So I get a beating and land safely, but abruptly at the bottom in a heap."

I was literally doing somersaults like Chevy Chase on his best SNL skit -all the way down, passing the normal folks as they watched in stunned horror. SPLAT! I landed right at the bottom, head down first with one leg hooked in the railing, my red skirt over my head, and the other leg twisted around my body, arms flailed against my crumpled shoulders, in dead silence.

My girlfriend ran down the stairs while everyone else just stood and held their breath. She gently pulled the skirt from my face (checking to see if I was still alive perhaps), and then tried to de-prezelize my limbs. I was crying, but more than crying I was laughing. I mean really! (hey I am laughing again just remebering it!) This had to be pretty amazing to witness. I was, as Chevy Chase predicted, bruised and beat, but otherwise unscathed. The major injury was my dignity and modesty, and my panty hose. They were obliterated to say the least. When the witnesses could see I had survived a lone voice was heard: "In the middle of a court house and not one attorney to witness this."

One gentleman went back up the staircase to retrieve my lone shoe, still faithfully hanging onto the safety tape by it's little heel. I replaced the shoe, fluffed up my dignity and went to lunch with the crowd.

I swear, if I ever meet Chevy Chase in person I will hug him for literally saving my life. All because I read a couple of sentences he wrote on how to survive falling down a staircase.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Agency equals Power (and Magic!)

I was chatting with two different women from our ward this afternoon (at 2 different times) about the situation we all face. Both are aware of the stats and both admitted to me that [they] felt like [they] were a part of the problem. I needed to explain my frustration is not with people who need help...whatever kind of help it may be; my frustration comes from those who continually beg for help and then argue why they cannot use what it is that has been given them. (Mental illness, retardation and other medical/physical conditions are obviously situations where one's abilities are not capable of total independance. This discussion is for those who have certain ability.)

Example: If my body is lacking fuel it begins to tell me in ways that should not be ignored. If I feed my body- the signals for fuel stop. When the tank gets low again I must feed it or the growling becomes loud and annoying and eventually destructive to my health. This is normal.

If my mind is lacking a chemical it begins to send messages that also cannot be ignored. Doctors prescribe medications to fill the lack and my mind stops sending messages. If or when the chemical is lacking again, more signals will be sent or the mind begins to growl loudly, I can be annoying, and eventually the lack of chemical will cause destructive health problems. Taking prescription medications is just fine as long as you keep to the doctors orders.

If my Spirit is lacking there are also signs that can be detected. We have been taught how to feed the Spirit. This too, is a constant maintenance that must be monitored or our Spirit begins to fade, we become too loud to hear it and eventually without proper fuel, the lack of Spirit in our life allows destructive situations. This is part of an eternal plan, use it or lose it.

If someone has provided food for me to take, I should eat it. If I am supposed to take medications, I should do so properly, I should read my scriptures daily.

When I approach someone and beg them for advice, I should try to be receptive to that which they counsel me. I should not counter every tool of help with an excuse for non-use of that tool. I need to understand that although some people do not share all their past woes or histories, they may have indeed experienced particular hardships, trials, addictions, whatever... and that I am not the only person to have this burden or trial.

I need to understand that throughout life there will always be hurdles to overcome and that I alone have control over what I think and do with my life. Others may influence me, but the entire responsibility along with all the rewards and consequences are mine alone to reap.

I get to choose how I will respond to every situation in my life.

The first woman I talked with is one of the folks that has a pattern of finding fault with everyone and every situation... including herself; and also has perfected the art of deflection. No matter what you give her to help her out she finds a reason why it will not work for her. There is always an excuse. She remains continually unhappy although she is healthy and has a beautiful family and home; much beyond what most women her age and circumstance have.

The second woman is on anti-depression medications and has been for several years. She is bright, happy, and productive. She provides generously for her own family and others. She contributes to the church and it's auxiliaries and is a compassionate leader. She does, however feel weird that she is on meds and "not normal". The fact is -she is more normal than the first gal who refuses to accept her life. The first gal is constantly on the look out for someone who has it better than she, easier than she, more than she. The result is the first gal is constantly unhappy.

The difference between these two women is that the first gives all of her power away while the second recognizes her power and uses it wisely. The second, while clinically depressed, chooses to feed her brain what it lacks and then chooses to "live, work, and do." She chooses to be happy even when her brain is telling her it is almost impossible. She chooses to believe she has the power to change her stars; to make her life the way she wants it to be.

The first gives her power to whomever is around at the moment. Without her power she cannot choose for herself, others choose how she will feel, think, live. "Prudence made me feel ugly!" "Brutus said we were dull!" She is niether ugly nor dull, but gives others her power and accepts what they tell her.

Satan's plan was for us to give him our power. He would get to choose for us. We wouldn't need to be bothered or depressed. We probably would not have had as many sicknesses or bills to pay. Perhaps all of our children would have been lovely and intelligent. But the Saviour preferred to allow us to be depressed, in debt and not as pretty as the other girls. He also allowed us to choose how we would respond when someone made an ugly remark, when our brain lacked a chemical, or when we see our children do better than we ever expected. We get to choose.

In the end that is a key. I can choose to feed what needs to be fed and accept my trials. I can choose to stick to the plan or I can choose to give my power to one who demanded it in the beginning. As for me, I guess on earth I am a rebel. I choose to choose. I choose to be happy.

Sandra's seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll.
Laurie danced with withches once,
Charlie found some goblin's gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Suzy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I've had to make myself.
Magic -by Shel Silverstein

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Saturday, March 18, 2006


I have been absent on the blog entries more than usual lately. Our ward's Relief Society President took about five weeks off, we are about half way through those five weeks, things have been...what's the word???

In her absence, the Bishop assigned the other counselor and myself as co-presidents. His exact words were: "In ____absence, you two are in charge. Find things that need to be done. Find a way to fix them. If you think I need to know about it, call me. Let me know if you want changes or if something comes up that a Bishop needs to know. DO NOT call _____. If she calls you, just tell her things are fine and ask about her trip. Change the subject. If she does not go out of town and you see her in the store, ignore the fact that she is still here. She will "be gone" for at least 5 weeks; here or otherwise. She knows I am putting you two in change while she is gone and she should expect things to run smoothly, but with changes while she is gone. You are not going behind her back or over her head. You two are in effect the President. Call me and report when you need to." And at that point my co-partner and I fell to our knees.

Well, let me start out by saying that originally our ward was the ward to live in. It is the ward from which all other wards sprang. It is now the ward in which the newly wed or nearly dead flock to because of the cost of housing. It is also the best place to "hide". Both in the church and out, if you don't want people to find you - this is a good place to move. It has the largest square mileage of any of the wards within the stake and happens to have what are described by those in the know as "fuzzy borders", meaning there is only one strong definitive street while the other borders are mountains or rivers or landmarks which constitute you have gone over the edge -so to speak into another ward.

Our ward, because of those fuzzy borders and economic structure has the largest number of members; and the largest number (per capita, percentage wise, and by the regular numbers) of inactive or less active members. This reality means that literally half of our Relief Society sisters are on a "letter only" visiting teaching list and there are about 15 or so "DO NOT CONTACT"s as well. An example: When I was in Y.W. our part of the stake was reorganized and formed into new wards and realigned ward borders. When this happened, our ward lost 5 active girls and gained 7 inactive, 3 of those were "DO NOT CONTACT"s. We gained no active girls. This was typical of what happened to our ward families also. Prior to the ward change the majority of the stake leaders came from our ward, now, our ward has so few leadership possibilities that only the bare minimum is represented from our ward. Our stake leaders are advised not to call stake leaders from our ward unless absolutely no one else can be called simply because their are so few capable or worthy to hold leadership positions within the ward itself. The ward cannot afford to lose what leadership it has to the stake.

Within our stake we have the largest number of families on Church Welfare and assistance, some of whom are considered "life time" recipients because of their circumstances. We also have the largest number of members who qualify for LDS Social Services (read: psychological counseling on a weekly basis). It is a daunting fact to read through the ward list and check off literally one half of our sisters as having clinical depression or other psychological problems, some who have been institutionalized for a period of time. When considering the spouses of these sisters you realize that there isn't a lot of support or understanding with most (not all) of the male counterparts in these homes. We also have brethren who have these same mental health issues.

For those of you who have read this blog from the beginning know that I used to write about how literally one half of our Primary was considered "special needs" due to mental illness or retardation. We are not talking about children who are behind or who struggle with ADD/ADHD. Add those to the mix and the numbers rise.

We have 178 sisters in our Relief Society. Out of our ward I can count 17 sisters who do not work to help support the family; 6 of those 17 are sisters over the age of 55- which brings the stay at home moms to 11. (If you are calculating... realize that most of our senior sisters also have to work to make ends meet.) Most of the folks in our ward who work, work with at least a 3 hour per day commute, some even more. This means both parents are out of the home for at least 11 hours each day. Some of these families decide that it is better to just "stay at work during the week" (meaning they find a hotel or other place to stay) because the commute doesn't equal the gas money spent or the hours just do not allow for the drive time. This means at least one parent without any physical contact with their children for at least 5 days a week. When the week end comes, usually it is clean up and chore time; time to finish all the stuff that didn't get done late at night during the week. Family time is still limited or consumed with other activity.

It has been a very sad battle for quite some time. I am not sure what to do except pray, and pray I do; hard. It is sad for me to face Sunday knowing the strife that comes with sisters who are so burdened with chronic illness, death, family struggles, depression, rejection, over work, neglect, poverty, and yes, the mentally ill -some of whom wreak havoc on a weekly basis.

Relief Society is, at best, a gamble each Sunday. Or as Forrest Gump's mother said, like a box of chocolates in that we never know what we will get. Even from some of the teachers, week to week is a stress filled surprise for me. I sit on the edge of my seat each week hoping, praying that no one says something hurtful or anti-doctrinal. Most weeks, we spend 20-40 minutes after the block trying to heal an offence that has occurred during a lesson.

I pray that the stress will be lifted from these women. I pray that the leadership we do have is strong enough to gently correct when need be and to lovingly forgive the same offenders over and over, and to encourage others to as well. I pray for inspiration and compassion. I pray for strength and endurance. I will be honest, I am weary of it all. I want normal again. I want easy. I want all the sisters to have what I think I have, happiness.

I am not sure what or why. I do know I am supposed to be learning something and that in the long run I will be thankful for all the things I am learning. My biggest fear is that somehow this is preparing me for even more frenzy and conflict. I am not good with confrontation and contention; had enough of that while I was a kid. But perhaps all that prepared me enough to go through this now and help balance the feelings in Relief Society. I sing to myself happy songs and try to find the positives in each week, and the motivations behind the hurt in the sisters. I come home most weeks and cry. But I keep going back because I know there is something I am not learning. I keep hearing in my head, "Be still, and know that I am God." It brings me a smile and hope and a warm feeling that I am not in this alone but with Heavenly Father, and it will be o.k.

It also brings to mind that only through the Fullness of the Gospel are we truly happy. Sometimes it is hard to be happy when surrounded by those who refuse to be or who are incapable of it. But being happy is mostly as gift we gift ourselves, an attitude, a goal of the heart and mind.

I am happy today for the sunshine, for the skies of gray or blue; for within my heart is the song of life: "I'll live, I'll work, I'll do!" No cloud can cast a shadow over courage such as mine; and I'll sing a song as I go along, "I'll live, I'll work, I'll do!" -Mr. & Mrs. N.W. Christiansen, Sing With Me! G-19

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Friday, March 10, 2006

AB 539

Hey folks, I am asking for a huge favor...
According to AB 539, the state of California is supposed to provide the state boards required for licensing dental hygienists every March, the next one being in 2007. The congress and other officials have decide to just blow this law off and thus make all the graduating students wait an addition 6 months and pay extra fees to take the boards.

This means that instead of being able to go directly to work and pay off student loans they will NOT be legally available. How would you like to work through school, graduate and then not be able to work just because the government wants you to wait - illegally breaking a law that regulates the tests that will get you to work? How would you begin to pay back those student loans on time?

These students need your help.

If you agree that this is unfair and would like to try to influence these congress would you please send s'mee an e-mail? All you need to do is send an e-mail with your first and last name and address, and I will place it on a letter and send it off for you. THANKS!!! If you want to read the letter before you agree to have your signature placed, write requesting a copy and I will send it to you asap!

If this can happen in CA it can happen anywhere. Let's stop this if we can. THANKS!

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

may I suggest...

Wow. Every once in a while you read a post that just knocks you down inside. For S'mee today's such post was from Danny Gregory at Everyday Matters entitled: Gran. Go have a look, take in what he has to say and then go do something amazing today.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

More fun...

I have to admit that I am not sure if I am a good guy or a bad guy... I am the only person on the planet who doesn't read Harry Potter... but at David B.'s blog he suggests a fun game to find out who you really are. Here are my result. Please tell me is I am o.k. or not in Harry potter World!

You scored as Albus Dumbledore. You are very wise, observant, and analyctical. You have a very "well-organized" mind, which makes you function in a calm and fair manner. Though you get angered easily, its rare of you to ever act our of temper. You are constantly seeing the good in people and are naturally forgiving because of it. You're easy to please and a great person to learn from.

Albus Dumbledore


Hermione Granger


Luna Lovegood


Remus Lupin


Sirius Black


Oliver Wood


Harry Potter


Neville Longbottom


Bellatrix Lestrange


Ron Weasley


Lord Voldemort


Severus Snape


Percy Weasley


Draco Malfoy


Harry Potter Character Combatibility Test
created with

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Sunday, March 05, 2006


Jewel on the Cryptic Lady's Couch Tagged me! THANKS!!! (i love this stuff) Here it GOES!

Four Jobs I Have Had in My Life:
1. Door to door saleman for both Current Cards (first actual money/check getting job -as a 10 year old) and Mason Shoes, which trust me, as a ten year old, this was a tough job, but I actually made some money.
2. Manager for a Sanrio Surprises! Store (Hello Kitty! One of the most fun jobs I have had)
3. not quite like this guy but definitely a Wedding Gopher (Best friend owned a Bridal Consulting/Wedding Planner business and I did everything from decorating cakes to designing sets for theme weddings, catering to floral designs...yikes, one of the hardest most time consuming jobs...ever!)
4. ASLTeaching-Instructional Aide/Main-Stream interpreter for the hearing impaired K-12

Four Movies I Watch Over and Over
1. A&E Pride and Prejudice (at least once a month or we're just not living)
2. The Princess Bride
3. Chocolat and Dark Chocolate!
4. Life is Beautiful (Italian version with English sub-titles)

Four Places I've Lived (understanding that S'mee and siblings moved about 20+ times before I graduated from High School, sometimes two and three times a year. This list could go on forever....)
1. San Diego, CA, and especially this part of it.
2. Hemet, CA (don't know where this is??? ask a gramma or grampa, they can tell you)
3. Carlsbad, CA
4. Oceanside, CA

Four TV shows you love to watch
1. No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain
2. Samantha Brown Great Hotels/Passport to Europe with Samantha Brown
3. Sugar Rush with Warren Brown
4. pretty much anything on Public Television

Four Websites you visit daily
1. My sis Chronicler's two sites:Food and Cooper
2. eye candy
3. more eye candy
4. yet even more...eye candy
---they just inspire and make me happy everyday!

Four of My Favorite Foods
1. Chocolate (you are what you eat)
2. Yum!Steamed Salmon with Creamed Peas
3. Gramma's recipes for: goulash, oatmeal, cocoa with toast, pork chops, chocolate mayo cake, lemon coconut cake, date cake and date cookies
4. a really great juicy Teddy's cheeseburger with a terrific side salad made with euro greens, add onion rings, plus a killer malt (with crunchy tiny bits of actual malt) and I am a happy girl.

Four Places I'd rather be right now (know that all these require the presence of Thor or I would just as soon stay where I am at!)
1. any clean warm beach
2. Hawaii!
3. Alaska!
4. Tahiti!

Four folks to pass this on to:
1. Big Dave B. over at The Whole Note (he is much more formal, "David B.", but frankly, if he were in my circle of "real" life friends, I am sure after about two weeks he'd be "Big Dave".)
2. Holli Jo otherwise know as Mrs. Ronk
3. Chubby Hubby you gotta check this cook out!
4. Susan from Strange Pulse!

Hey thanks for reading! Thanks to those who will (hopefully) participate! I am kind of curious to see what these interesting and completely different folks have to say!

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