Tuesday, March 20, 2007

catching up before I leave

I have been caught up again in a swirl of activities once again. Saturday was the dinner for the Stake Presidency, the clerks, and high council and their wives between sessions. It went well. Sunday was Stake Conference. Monday was my best friend's birthday and her mother's funeral. I was honoured to sing at the funeral. It was out of town, so I was gone from about 11:00 - 10:00. A long day, but worth it.

Today another meeting 8:30 - 12:00, followed by washing and packing and preparing to leave tomorrow for D.C. I am excited to go. I like the D.C. trip. Poor Thor gets stuck inside a conference room for ten day and I get to drive around and see the sights and museums and this trip...

a brand new baby!!! Yup I am hoping to catch up with my niece and Chronicler for a day and meet the new baby boy. I am very excited!!! Any who, I'll take a ton of photos and let you know all the details.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

from the tribe of Levi 501s

I love the Travel Channel. I love, was absolutely hooked on, "Living With The Kombai Tribe" and wish it would just go on, but it's over. A documentary type program of two journalists who join one of the last “prehistoric” societies on the planet for the span of three or four months, learning, eating and living as the tribe does and has for thousands of years. True “hunter and gatherers”: the men hunt, the women gather, everyone works from morning to night, and happily. If you get a chance, click on over there and check out the photos. I want you to see the women of the tribe, some beautiful women.

These women are very beautiful to me. They have dark chocolate skin, a tight knit scrub of short hair, wide noses and even wider charming smiles. Their eyes are friendly, deep, and jet-black, and they have wrinkles, sagging skin, and enormous feet for their height if compared to the rest of the women in the world their age. They wear skirts of large leaves, no shoes, no purses, and no make up. The only jewelry they possess is a necklace of dog’s teeth. Surprisingly pretty against their ebony necks, the white teeth adorn each bride and are added to as she goes through her life. These women, untouched by modern society, are natural and beautiful.

I also like those new "Dove" ads. Everything from shampoo to deodorant and lotion, one company saying it's o.k. for women to be real in an ad campaign. Real pretty, real thin, real plump, real old. Real wrinkly or full of real gray hair, or a woman who hasn't got any extra weight on her, but a real woman whose skin is a bit loose from years of wearing. Kind of like your favorite jeans: tight when you first put them on; and comfy and a bit saggy by the end of the day, your favorite pair of jeans; perhaps your favorite woman.

A little over a year ago I had the ol' girl parts yanked. It was a very good thing for me. I had been having some trouble with my body and when the only permanent solution was to have a hysterectomy I was on board. All in all it went as predicted. Some of my friends had been through this before and expressed that after two weeks I would feel better, after six months I would be a new woman...they were right on.

As in dominoes however, you topple one and others follow, it is the same with my "new" body. I have gained more weight than I expected in one year. I have drier skin than before, and then there are the wrinkles. I am 49. I have never felt a need to hide my age or worry about dying my gray hair. But I have to admit, before last February I had very few wrinkles to worry about, no "crows feet", not too many "laugh lines" and people complemented me on my 'flawless' skin. Not so much anymore. I have noticeable wrinkles and laugh lines and they are there even when my face is relaxed and expressionless. My eyes look as though they are made of damp sand and the crows have hopped all over and left their tiny little imprints before flying off to someone else. My face looks like I live with Robyn Williams.

I got very old in one year's time. That is the hard part for me. The gray hair came a strand at a time, the aches and pains also built slowly, but the wrinkles came all in a week I think! Even still they are my wrinkles and I am 49. I get that 50 ain't what it used to be -even as close as ten years ago, but let's get real...I am still hitting 50 next year and wrinkles and gray hair are a natural part of that. Throw in "spider" veins, Relief Society arms (under arm flab, bat wings, whatever you call them), falling arches, and sagging… well, everything, and you get the idea of what a natural woman looks like.

Every night I reach for my (as Chronicler labels) hope in a jar and slather myself like a tragic scene from those black and white movies in the 50’s. You know her, the house frau with the face full of night cream. At least I rub it in and go to bed without the white face. But slather and rub I do.

Each morning I wake up, get water as hot as I can stand and I lay a thick steamy washcloth across my face. I love the way it perks me up and refreshes my skin. I bend over the sink so that I can clearly see the reflection of "me" in the mirror. Usually I see my mother. It's o.k. My mother was very pretty in her day, and frankly, today she is pushing her mid 80's and she doesn't look over 60. She teeters and feigns a smile and nods when she can't hear a comment, she repeats her conversation sometimes, and doesn't do the things as accurately as she used to. You know what? It's o.k. She's 80 something years old and she’s supposed to do those things. So I look more and more like my mother each morning. Fine. She is where she needs to be, I am where I am supposed to be.

I have never worn make-up except on very special occasions. I know that I look tremendously better with make up, but I feel better without it. I can't work with my hair down so most days it's pulled uber tight into a ponytail rather than fluffed in a more flattering style down. My wardrobe is less than stellar. I am a sure candidate for "What Not To Wear" 99% of the time, but I clean up well and look presentable, again, when occasion merits the discomfort. I dress in suits for Sunday meetings and have dress slacks etc. for business. I actually have 10 or so evening gowns in rotation for Thor's business dinners and events- and I love to get all gussied up for those. I wear ugly shoes and my legs haven't seen the light of day for over 30 years. All but one piece of my jewelry is CZ or costume because I can't bear the thought of spending real money on something so trivial. I'm o.k. with me. I am o.k. with being 49. I’m o.k. with being “o.k.”

I don’t want to just "get old"; I want to fight it as much as the next gal. However, what I do not want –for me- is to go at it in a way that isn’t “me”. If I could, I would get lasik eye surgery, get rid of some fat, maybe a lid lift so that I fend off the blood-hound look that is rapidly hiding what little lashes I have. Chances of those options happening for me are nil. I never wore make up when I looked young and fresh, why start now? I don’t want to dye my hair, because frankly, I worry about that inch of root coming in when I don’t have the time or money to get a touch up. I am vain; I don’t want roots. I also don’t want to announce to the world that I am trying to regain some sex appeal by suddenly becoming a red head or a blonde or heaven forbid “high lights” –all of which scream “Mid Life Crisis!” to me. My cankles decided long ago that only sensible shoes are in the closet now. But I still have a weakness for a cute purse.

I guess what I am saying is that I am happy where I am at in life. And I am at 49. I have wrinkles, dry skin and gray hair. I have the experience that comes with 49 years. I have some wisdom. I am a wife. I am the mother of 5 adults. I am a gramma. I also have enough confidence to go out in public with out make up. I am a comfortable pair of jeans.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You're invited! (to a pity party)

Not that I want to give you a blow by blow account of my body fluids and what they have been up to lately, but hey, this hasn't been a fun past few weeks or days. It started with a cold, developed into a nasty allergic reaction to a drug (NOT fun), and ended up weakening me to the point of losing my voice and running into walls when I walked. Then we helped pack and move my son and his family 2 1/2 hours away (NOoOOooooo!), then followed a church assignment: I had to help put on a stake activity (not LDS? this equates to a party/with live entertainment, with a schmancy lunch for 200). There were four of us on the committee, and yours truly got stuck in the kitchen.

So after finishing up with the loveliness that was my "cold", I got to lift and work on my feet for 10 hours a day for a week and a half in a row, which took it's toll on my system -and if you know me, that means I didn't/couldn't walk for four days after that.

The move went well, we took two days to pack and clean/paint. The third day we packed the final stuff and drove to the new town. Through a comedy of errors Thor and I didn't have the address to the new place and drove around for an hour trying to find it. Eventually we hooked up on the phone and got directions. We unloaded what we brought and began to unpack some things until Mommy and her mother came later that night. I set up one bathroom and the kids' room as best I could so they could at least sleep in a bed. The guys put together the master bed and laundry room set up. Some of the front room furniture was arranged and we headed home at about 8:00 that night. By the time we got home we fell into bed.

Later came the luncheon for 200 and the "entertainment". Fortunately for me, and the rest of the committee, the program was planned and performed by another group and we just needed to do the set up and take down.

Three days before we went shopping. One of the gals has a retired fire fighter for a husband who (BLESS THAT MAN) volunteered to marinate and flame broil the chicken for us. His dear sweet wife asked if she could cut all the lettuce for us. This was the bulk of a lot of work! Each of the four of us made 100 mini muffins in different varieties, plus 8 -8 inch- round cakes. The other gals decided to make their cakes ahead of time, I waited until the day before to do my baking.

The day before two of the gals went and picked up plants, trees and shrubbery to be used as a back drop scenery for the entertainment part of the program. The tables were set up by a group of men (THANKS!) and the chairs were draped with chair covers, the tables with clothes.

That afternoon we four met at the building to assemble the fruit skewers and cakes. The idea was that each layer cake would be thick enough to divide into two inch thin pieces. We would take three layers and make one cake. The bottom filled with vanilla pudding the top layer with strawberry jam. The whole thing would be cover with a 7-minute frosting. What's that they say about all good plans??? Well, the cakes made by the other gals were extremely thin, some even thinner than the one inch needed for one layer. Most could not be divided at all. But when they took their cakes from their ovens, each of the other gals made more than their 8 required cakes. That was a good idea. Because I have worked with Chronicler, and because I have had much experience with making and decorating cakes I understood what was required to make a nice thick moist cake. I also used professional pans so the sides of my cakes were straight up and down. (I want to say here that I tried to warn and advise the other bakers, but to no avail...they knew better than I at the original decision making meeting. Things changed while we were struggling the night before.) Another difficulty we encountered was the choice of filling. While tasty and probable for a "eat the same day" cake...not so much if the cake needs to sit over night. The weight of the top layers, along with their instability and cracks made for quite a sliding catastrophe. The 7 minute frosting turned into 70 minute marshmallow goo and was waging its' own war against gravity. These cakes were the centerpieces for each table. We made 16 that night and went home at 10 p.m..

Most of the cakes managed to survive the night, however the marshmallow did as most marshmallow does and became a thick and chewy covering. During the opening greetings we noticed that our numbers had increased and we needed to add an additional table, with settings, and yup, another cake centerpiece. So I grabbed two more cakes from the fridge (thank goodness we did not throw them away the night before) and grabbed a can of frosting from a cupboard and managed to make a similar cake (#17) for the newly added table. We also had 12 more servings to come up with.

At the last minute the other two gals were asked to join two numbers in the program, one each; so they were unable to come back and help serve. We had one hour to get our lunch assembled. Luckily we had a simple menu and most of the prep work was done. I got busy portioning lettuce so we could add dressing and ingredients rapidly and with accuracy. The other gal set out the plates in table groups and as I got the lettuce dressed she added chicken, croutons, etc. We put crescent rolls and fruit skewers on the plate and held our breath until they were all set.

The two other gals had long left the kitchen and so we got working rather quickly and efficiently to get as many plates up and onto serving trays as possible. We were stacking plates by table size and hoped that when the time came we could just walk out a tray at a time and the natives would remain happy. For the most part that is exactly what happened. There were a few folks who somehow forgot that there were only two women working the kitchen and had something pleasant to remark. grrrr Oh yes, and the one gal who insisted we made her plate "to go" because she had a shopping trip to go to with two friends who, btw, "need a plate as well". I wanted to throw food at her, but we had plenty so I just asked her to wait until we got those who were staying fed. She groused a bit, but at that point I didn't care.

I just kept cleaning and serving and cleaning and serving and tried to keep the final clean up as little as it could get. For the most part we just had to throw things away and clean up cake plates. The majority of the other dishes I had already finished by the time it was time to clean up and go home. We had to fold 200 chair backs, gather linens to wash at home and get all the borrowed trees and bushes back into trucks. All in all it was a long couple of days. But the event was a huge success.

The following four days I had a very difficult time walking and ran into several people and walls! I waited until Monday to do my share of the laundry... I was pooped!

I hope that you feel pity for me. Send chocolate. Somebody call the Waaaambulance!

I have a few projects in the works and hope to blog about them soon.

In the mean time I am excited for my niece. The one who thought babies would be something the other girls would experience. Congratulations to the first daughter, to her hubby, and of course gramma and grampa. This is a stranger event than expected -they have the first boy in the family for a long time. Wooohooo! New babies are such fun! He's a real cutie too. Go check him out at Chronicler's.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

ugh! Sorry folks, I am SICK! Yikes, I think I caught whatever Lisa has through reading her blog! It's taken me a couple of days just to get this post up and will probably take a few more days to get another post. Just thought I'd let everyone know I am alive, but not enough to do anything. I'll write soon. Thanks for hanging in there with me, see you soon.

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