Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Do One Thing: Project Noah, week 6

Week 6: 1 large jar of honey. (The larger the better..nothing better than a peanut butter and honey sammich when you need a sweet lunch! Just remember this treat is only for those over two years old. No honey for little ones!) Did you know honey has a really long shelf life, and that if your honey crystallizes it doesn't mean it's gone bad, it can be brought back to it's thick smooth sweet goodness via warming! (I want some toast with honey now.)

Hint: Double check flashlight and battery supply.

Also, for those of you who live in California: We, the entire state, have been invited to participate in
the world's largest earthquake drill...ever! On November 13 at 10:01 a.m. we will "experience" a 7.8 earthquake along the San Andreas fault. This is only a drill! hehe! But hey, why not participate and see if you're as prepared as you think you are? Go to ShakeOut.org to sign up as a participant. It's free, and it's full of information on the drill. If you want other information on how to prepare for the actual event, the resources page has other videos, a webinar, and other website links to help you find information. Scroll the entire page, the good stuff is near the bottom. I personally viewed the webinar, and wow! there's some interesting stuff there.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Bwaaak Bakwaaak buk buk buk

That would be me lately, feeling a bit like the body of that chicken who's head has been lopped off. So many things to keep me busy and/or distracted.

I told someone the other day that I feel this whole year has been lived out of a suitcase, although I haven't really been anywhere to speak of, well, 'cept Bishop with the kids to catch some fish. All in all I have just driven back and forth and around in circles a lot.

This week we went back on the grid so to speak. About four or five months ago we left t.v., two days ago we decided it was a nice diversion so we are back on. This time (hopefully) with a system that will allow us to actually keep the stations we originally sign up for instead of losing them to the universe like some cosmic drip into outer space. We both have our favourites, Thor loves the Sci-Fi channel, History and Discovery (and when I say loves sci-fi, I mean it, there's something fishy going on there with his affair with all things beyond weird. If it seems absolutely ridiculous or impossible and has someone or thing with powers, watch out.) Me? I like Bravo, Travel and the DIY stuff. I say I like Bravo, although we have never had Bravo. But I like the idea of being able to watch Project Runway one show at a time instead of a season at a time 50,000 feet in the air while riding to D.C. once every two years. So yes, I will be tuning into Bravo as soon as I figure out the thingy with all the buttons. We both like BYU, which ironically is the reason we both got dish, cable, whatever in the first place and then the reason we turned it off...for whatever reason we got BYU for about 14 months or so then it went off. Because we bought the program at a state fair, we couldn't contact the seller to correct the situation (trust me we tried!) and the folks who took the money could not have cared less. So when the contract ran out, so did we. But conference is coming up again and, yes, we'd like to watch it from home like the rest of the world.

In order to get t.v. turned on again, we decided that we also needed to rearrange the house, literally switching two rooms and totally reconfiguring two others. We were told by Mr. Bay, our installing genius, that the latest technology we currently have (2 t.v. from the seventies) will no longer do the trick. I have heard rumors that they actually have t.v.s with flat bodies and screens with colour. Who knew? So we need to save to watch anything soon.

Thor informs me he had to block some "free" channels last night while I was at a stake meeting. Seems there is more than one meaning to free, and we just don't need that much freedom wandering around the atmosphere in our house. So click click and we are down a few channels. Good guy that Thor.

Today I finally go to get my hair trimmed again. I missed the last four or five appointments so my hair is all Johnny Depp in pretty much any movie he has done lately, arrgh or otherwise, I got some pretty good poof going. I am a white girl's answer to Don King. I need me some scissors.

And later today is the final touches for tomorrow...The Annual Women's Conference slash our Stake Enrichment; where we will gather all the women we can to cut, sew, fold and pack away as many blankets as we can for an emergency along with 250 baby kits that will be assembled, plus plus plus. One of our newest wards volunteered to make dinner for everyone, WOW, they are awesome! So we 'stakies' (really not fond of that title) will be helping out with the 200+ dinners. I like that job. Always lots of fun to be in the kitchen yakking it up with a bunch of ladies while we cook. So if you need me tomorrow, I'll be in the kitchen.

The sewing and assemblage will be prior to the televised conference. The conference is always so great I can't wait to see what we get to hear. Always uplifting, always full, always such a glad feeling that I went and participated. Pretty exciting for me!

So here I am, posting late, again, but I have news about yesterday's Enrichment activity and the conference. First, the gals who brought us lunch were amazing, really. They came with fall coloured table clothes and beautiful centerpieces, much more than we expected for a work type meeting. Gorgeous topiaries, teddy bears in pine wreaths, all kinds of fall foliage, gorgeous. They are from the mountains and what they brought down for us to enjoy said, "Mountains in Autumn!" Lovely.

Plus they absolutely would not accept any help in the kitchen, nope, they had it under control! We had a jam packed Taco Salad bar to beat anything I have ever seen at a great restaurant. You want it on a salad it was there, plus cream pies for dessert. Yup, we all wanted a nap after that meal!

Before the meal however, we met, cut, sewed and packed. All in all we sewed over 50 double sided fleece blanket/sleepers, and had donations from young adult sisters of another 50! We also had a young women's group donate blankets they had sewn, so I am still not sure of the total! We packed 250 baby kits and when everything was finished, the women filled box after box, labeled them on five sides and then toted them out to the shed for us. Amazing!

Originally our plan was to donate to the LDS Humanitarian Services. However, when we called about shipping addresses etc., they informed us that they were thrilled to see that we were preparing for ourselves in our area and to keep everything we had done and keep preparing! Evidently they like the idea of self reliance and not depending on the government agencies or the Humanitarian Services for immediate response. The Director told us that in an emergency that there is that (at least) three day wait due to shipping and so it was a better idea to prepare for ourselves first, then send extras on to Salt Lake for world wide distribution. So that was our goal.

We, along with other local stakes are preparing together for an event where shelter help would be needed. First, we personally prepare our own homes and families with a 72 hour kit, and from there a three week supply of food water, etc. (and if you have the means three months and up to two years!) Second is preparing for the community as a whole. Working with the Red Cross and also other organizations we are preparing for events that may occur in our area, fire, earthquake, etc.. Third, we are working to prepare at least 250 baby kits, hygiene kits, blanket/sleepers, and other items for shelter use in our building. The supplies are divided up between the stakes and each of us are working together to keep communication open and progress moving along. If there is a need in our area all will donate freely what we have prepared in a matter of hours, rather than days.

It felt really good to see the shed so full of items!!!

So I am of again today to visit family and I may or may not post during the week. Look for a post on Tuesday, it's scheduled and I will see all soon!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Getting Ready for Halloween Tutorial

I like a good Halloween. What's not to like about this pagan holiday? You get to dress goofy, beg for free candy, and scare people without fear of reprisal... well there is a risk of having your house t.p.'d but other than that, hey! Let's Party! Every year I try to deck the house out even though no one in our town really trick or treats anymore, unless they are looking for a way to satisfy their munchies, but still I love to do up the yard with luminaries, cool pumpkins and of course a silly graveyard.

O.k. I admit I pull this post out every other year, but hey, it's a good tutorial, quick, fun, EASY, and cheap! The main instructions are on the Flickr! page accessed via either clicking on the photo, or by clicking on the little Flickr! dookhickey on the right side near the bottom of the page. So without further ado... the DIY tombstone:

Flickr! page tute - click: Tombstones. Scroll down to the tombstone photos and follow the instruction beginning with "a" and finishing up with "g".

"Fred's Dead, Baby"
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

In the "spirit" of Halloween, I spent the afternoon in quiet solitude and carved up some fun! The undertaking? Tombstones!

This is the first of the new tombstones for this year. (2005) This one is 24" wide by 16" high and is made from 1" thick (I originally wrote 1 inch thick...but it's really 2 inches, oops.) foam board insulation that comes in a variety of sizes. (Lowes/Home Depot) I chose the 4'x8' sheets. About $12.00 out the door and into the minivan.

tombstone tutorial
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

If you are like S'mee, you will need to have the guys on the floor cut it into 2 pieces for you (so it can fit in your vehicle). As you can see in the photo, there are indeed "lines" that one could follow -if they wished to do so- the guys I was working with at the time were less than cooperative and decided to "freehand" it on the totally white side without marks and guidelines. UGH! and GRRR!

Make sure you stress the first cut along the lines, otherwise, like S'mee, you will lose one inch, or more, when they cut it diagonally. again UGH!

O.k. so click on that Flickr! link and get started, seriously, if you work in assembly line fashion, this only takes a few hours and you can whip out an entire graveyard!

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Project Noah: Week 5

Week 5: CLOTHES & COMFORTS: 2-3 socks, underwear, change of clothes, t-shirt, pants, windbreaker, hat , sturdy shoes, a favourite teddy bear or blankie substitute, etc.

Thor and I packed all these plus sweat pants/shirt for layering. Comfort items: Scriptures, books, small travel type games, cards and dominoes, favorite toys, paper, pens/pencils/ crayons, music, etc. (um, I packed M&Ms and tootsie pops!)

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Monday, September 22, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons....

Buy Cookies! Robyn is whipping up batches of her famous Spritz cookies to help out with the Nie Nie fund raiser. She is selling them in TWO DOZEN batches, so you're getting a bargain and helping out! Click away and buy some cookies... I can endorse these with a full tummy- they're yummy!

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Contest/Fundraiser for NieNie!

Sue over at Navel Gazing At It's Finest has come up with a great way to generate FUNds to help with NieNie's and Christian's recovery costs: a Book Contest!

She is wanting authors to submit funny stories to be published in a book entitled "Sometimes Life is Funny!"

Robyn wrote me and encouraged me to submit a story. The rules say that you can submit a blog entry so I am sending in this post, and crossing my fingers! If my submission "wins", it will be in the book with other hilarious authors from all over the blogging world! The books will be ready to purchase in time for Christmas!

If you have a funny bone, the contest is still open, but hurry the contest closes on September 30th! Sue encourages everyone to at least try, you never know! In the mean time, spread the word on another fun way to help support this young family.

Click click click on the links, in the post, on the side bar, donate what and if you can, it'll make you feel good!

Now go on, scoot! Click! Then write something down, submit it, and spread the word!

Look for the book on sale soon!

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That there is a clean rib bone!

O.k. Here's the goods:

Before you start!!!
Calculate when you want to eat the ribs and go back 6.5 hours. If you want to serve at 5 those ribs have got to be in the oven with the door shut at 10:30. This is probably the most important step.

#1: Buy the absolute best ribs you can find. According to my mentor, they have more meat and meat is what you're after.

#2: Take them home, unwrap and set out on a good cutting board. Grab a sharp knife and make a good cut along the bone side of the ribs, this ain't easy, you're cutting into bone! Your goal: making a cut into the thin elastic funky whatever that is on the bones, the white membrane sheet of stuff. You're going to spend a bit of time picking and stretching as much of that membrane off as possible without jumping in the car and buying the ribs pre cooked elsewhere.

#3: Flip the rack over and go at the tendons and any other tough white material that may be on the meat side. Pliers work well for this, as does a nice sharp knife. You can grab a tube of the tendon-y stuff and pull tightly as your knife follows it and you scrap it from the rack. Don't get crazy, but get rid of as much of that stuff as possible.

#4. Wash the rack(s) under a good stream of water and pat dry. Set on a paper towel to catch drips.

#5: Dry Rub. This is my version, you can alter it if'n ya wanna.

2 Tbl. Kosher or Gray Salt
2 Tbl. White Sugar
4 Tbl. Brown Sugar
2 Tbl. Ground Cumin
1 Tbl. Chili Powder (more or less depending on who likes heat and who will be eatin'...)
1 Tbl. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp. Ground Cayenne Pepper
3 Tbl. Sweet Paprika
1 Tbl. Garlic Powder (not garlic salt!)
1 tsp. Ground Onion Powder (or 2 tsp. dried onion flakes if you prefer)
1 tsp. Mustard Seed

Mix this all together.

I usually cut my rack into four or five rib per piece chunks, makes it easier for me, but hey, no rules here.

Take your dry rub and be generous as you coat the rack on all sides. Really get it into all the layers and creases on both the meat and bone sides. Set aside, I like to have them sit in this marinade for an hour or so, or...

If I am not having ribs soon, I will coat them with the rub and seal them in my vacuum sealer and put them in the freezer. This way when I pull the ribs out to thaw, they are marinating and I don't have too much to do the day of the cooking.

#6: Again remember to calculate when you want to eat the ribs and go back 6.5 hours. If you want to serve at 5 those ribs have got to be in the oven with the door shut at 10:30. Preheat your oven 20 minutes prior to placing the ribs in the oven at 250. Yes. 250. That's as high as you want them to bake. Tender meat = Low and Slow!

Knowing when you want the ribs served, grab a baking sheet. Cover the bottom with a piece of parchment across the sheet so the bottom is covered, and the parchment hangs over each side. (I get my parchment in bulk, full sheet cake sized, from Smart and Final - cheap!) Lay the rack(s) on the parchment, fold the remaining parchment over the top of the rack and cover the entire thing in foil, sealed. My baking rack is a half sheet pan, so I have to double fold my foil and then cover the sheet. I tuck the ends in over and curl them around the sheet sides to make a good tight seal. This will steam and bake the ribs and keep the moisture in the meat.

Put them in the oven and close the door. Don't even think about peeking until 4:30.

#7: At 4:00 grab 2 cups of barbecue sauce. I use K.C. Masterpiece Original. Add 2 cups of your favourite honey, I use orange blossom, whisk these two together until blended and set aside. That's 1/2 sauce to 1/2 honey.

#8: At 4:30 open the door and get the ribs out. Remove the foil and drain the juices. I think it's easier to just pick up the rack (mine are usually all in four to five bone servings) with tongs and roll them gently in the sauce; coating them well on all sides.

Your ribs will now be so tender they will fall from the bone so be careful how you pick them up and roll them in the sauce!

Place the rack back on the sheet and when all the racks are coated, back into the oven while I set the table and get the other food on. Or, if you want folks to think you have done these ribs on the grill out back, now is the time to do that. Fire up the barbecue and set the coated ribs there to caramelize until you serve. To me, this means one more thing to clean up later, but hey, it's your party.

By the time the table is set and folks begin to gather, your ribs will be caramelized and making everyone drool. Get them on a platter and sit down ready to hear the praise and compliments. I guarantee everyone will love them.

Fresh pineapple, cut into slices and dipped a bit in brown sugar, set under the broiler for a few minutes to caramelize is not only easy, but almost dessert!

I add a bit of fresh minced pineapple to a head of grated cabbage, a grated carrot or two and two green onions chopped through to the green and beyond, 1 tsp. of celery seed, 2 Tbl. white sugar, and a half cup of (I know -ick!) Miracle Whip. Fresh ground black pepper to taste. I blend all this, about an hour ahead, and chill in the fridge until serving.

Corn -bread or muffins, a hearty green salad, and a glass of milk will keep you from eating for two days afterwards. Enjoy!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

dem bones

About five or so years ago I was shopping for ribs in Costco. I must have looked extremely intimidated as I shopped. I heard a smooth, deep, and slightly gravely voice slowly educate me. One of the largest men I have ever met stood behind me and asked,"You lookin' to cook up some ribs ma'am?" I turned (looked waaaay up) and replied a meager, confused and even discouraged "yeah." "Well, I don' mean no disrespec ma'am, but- you look in the mirror lately? You white! And ain't never been a white girl who kin make a good rib witout some hep. Lemme hep you out." (Grinning like a Cheshire cat at my silliness and holding back his giggles) "You see dem bones you lookin' at? They baaaad. You don' want dem missy, you want dese... ova here." I walk with him over to the expensive ribs. "You see ma'am, I use da be the head cook at a little rib joint down in Sanna Mon-ca."

At that point in the conversation my memory (and stomach) took an immediate turn to a hole in the wall on Santa Monica Boulevard where they made the best ribs in the world, or at least my world. They were amazingly moist, tender- so much so they did fall off the bone, and flavourful. The perfect combination of spice to sweet, and meaty enough to satisfy.

"You wouldn't mean 'Dem Bones' would you?" "Oh, you heard o' my little place? Yeeees ma'am. But those days is pass now. Now I find myself educatin' the likes of you folks, hehehe." "Well, please! I don't have a clue of how to start." So he clued me into a few of his tricks and from then on I have loved my version of his "dem bones" style ribs.

Last night we were scheduled to serve the missionaries dinner, so I thought a good end of summer treat would be a rack or two of ribs, fresh cole slaw and grilled pineapple. The two guys called to cancel at the last minute and so Thor and I sat down to a feast!

As you can tell from the photo, the ribs were juicy, tender enough for the bone to just sliiiide off perfectly clean and so goooooood! yum!

All because an extremely nice gentleman showed me his famous barbecue tricks! Thank you Dem Bones Man!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Welcome to the Fuzzy Borders Ward!

Yup, I admit it. I live in the weird ward in our stake. You know the one, every stake has one.

In days past we were the "Newly Wed - Nearly Dead" ward; an interesting cacophony of crying babies and loud talkers. On any Sunday you could hear a particular sister "whispering" to her husband about her take on the speaker, or wonder just when those parents would finally give in and let that poor infant have a cheerio.

If you live anywhere else in the stake and have lived here for more than five years, chances are you were in our ward before a split or relocation. Most people buy or move to our ward first because of economics. Also, at one time our ward was the hub for the entire stake, as we grew the stake grew, one division after another. This is great, because most of the people in our ward know everyone in the stake.

On the one side of our boundaries we have folks who live in the typical tract home, 2-3 kids, sahm, 1/2 acre, middle income, and a dog or two in the minivan. These are they who show up to every meeting in their Sunday best, teach Primary or another auxiliary and are the first to sign up for the talent show. They do their home teaching and bake bread and their kids give the other kids rides to all the meetings.

On another border you'll find the lower middle income family of 8-10 kids, modest home, two small sedans about the same age as their oldest teen, 1/2 acre, and way too many cats to count. This is the family that show up every Saturday to clean the building, they are the first ones to arrive with funeral potatoes and a home made cake, they sing too quietly but cheer exuberantly for everyone else.

To the south you may find a family who bought a house on the hill overlooking the valley. They moved here from some other city or ward hoping to get lost -only to find out no matter how far out you go the middle of nowhere is still a mile off. Eventually they'll need socialization and they'll set up a rescue fire and we will come.

Heading east are the die hard cow pokes and stubborn mules who live on several acre ranches full of weeds or horses or both. They are the self reliant-s, they keep to themselves mainly, but they come running in the storms and fill their pick up trucks with broken hearts and bones and lend their hammers and muscles in repairs.

In the middle we have struggles and illness and concern. We can't stop smoking, we still have our hair too long and what am I supposed to do with that tattoo now that it's there? We also have eyes that can look away or be blind to weaknesses. We are the ward with little financial resource but keen creativity.We only have one person who can play the piano with any ease. We are lucky, she is a retired concert pianist. However she also is in advanced stages of Alzheimer's Disease, so when she begins to play "Lord, I Will Follow Thee" and in the third verse switches it up for "I Stand All Amazed", we really aren't, we just go with the flow and are grateful she can play so beautifully.

Somewhere somehow we grab everyone and anyone we can. We love that you are here because we want your company and help. Sometimes you stay, sometimes you feel the need to move up or out and we miss you when you go. Sometimes you move in, and we rejoice because we have literally prayed you into the ward. We need you. We want you. Although we may forget to visit you on a scheduled basis, say hello in the hallway as you walk by with your brood of children, or offer to help, but we will grab our coats as we head out at 2:30 a.m. when you call.

Our leadership is goofy (read: actual humans) but they try hard to lead with the Spirit. Our scout program could be better, and our activity, well, if everyone came we would have to make another two wards!

Friends are immediate when you live in the Fuzzy Borders Ward. Our acreage is as expansive as our love and need for you. Our numbers are small, but we do mighty work.

We are the ward with more people on assistance, the one with the crazy lady and the nutso family. We are the very definition of eclectic and diverse. Swing a cat and you will not hit two people who think, act, or live the same. We have loud Democrats and even louder Republicans... don't get me started on the Independents! We have home school-ers, tax dodgers, gardeners, old hippies, a tech specialist, a district attorney, teachers, bikers, a mortician, a union business agent, hot rod enthusiasts, (SERIOUS)base ball and BYU football fans, small business owners, dancers, singers and someone who throws and annual Faery Party each summer solstice. Artists, athletes, homestead-ers, nurses, rail road workers, septic tank service-rs, police and firemen, and a school lunch lady. Retirees and singles of every age bracket. Home builders, home wreckers, and a homeless person who hangs out at our building. Managers and delivery boys, one suspected millionaire and too many poor. We have long time marrieds, newly weds, divorcees, remarries, single parents, large families, blended families, and childless couples. We have White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Nordic, Native American, and probably a few other races/places/countries represented well.

Hey wait. Isn't that the same as your ward?

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

God Bless America

Today is an anniversary, and not a happy one. Because of events that happened in 2001 our nation has been twisted and torn away from what it used to be. Many of us stand in the challenge, some of us live in fear, and like the person who wrote on "Post Secret", some of us took opportunity when we saw it and ran away from our former lives forever.

A renewed patriotism rolled over our collective hearts and we sat a little taller, voted a little more, took a harder look, looked away a bit more often, found compassion in being lowered, and felt empathy, some for the first times in our lives.

I am a child of the fifties, granted the late fifties, but still the era of hula hoops, metal skates, staying out until the street lights came on playing Man From Uncle, and practicing "duck and cover" during school. I remember sitting on top of the hill where we lived. I was in first grade and I could see all the way (about 2 miles!) to the ocean. I also remember the fear I felt during the "air raid drills" and when the Marines from Camp Pendleton exploded their bombs off the coast. I saw the clouds from those bombs and their shapes and the boom. It is still there in my head, even now.

I remember sitting with the grown ups and hearing "gloom and doom" stories, prophecies that insured that I would never grow up, and if I did, more than likely I would never have kids of my own... the world would have been over by then and we would be living in a post apocalyptic scene reminiscent of The Road. I remember families, hippies, protesters, and the Marines all in the same place, all fighting for the same exact thing and the only one who seemed to see they were all on the same side were the grade school kids. Everyone loved their country and freedom, all were expressing it their own way, which as a kid I thought was o.k. to do, and yet everyone was opposed and angry and pointing fingers at each other as if the other one did not care. No one listened to the others. The point that day was no one liked war, no one.

I can remember hushed tones when mothers talked quietly consoling a friend who's daughter was "in trouble", or young boy who went to "juvi". It was sad when the family down the street suddenly had a "broken home" and their dad moved across town. It was shameful and unexpected when we found out that Mr. Simpson had cheated on his wife. It was shocking when we found out our President had broken laws and bent truth, and it hurt when he defiantly stood and told us he was not a crook. We took it personally. It didn't matter which party we belonged to, he betrayed all of us.

We went to churches and worshiped our Gods, and we had a lot of them to choose from -even back then. We wore play clothes and school clothes, work clothes and dress up clothes, and on our respective Sabbaths, we wore our "best" in respect for our God. We said please, and thank you, held the door open as we walked through it, and stood as the flag went by. Their were some kids in my class who had religious beliefs that did not allow them to pledge allegiance, so they quietly sat. Other kids silently prayed each morning as they came into the class. No one ever said a word either way. We knew and understood right and wrong.

Time went by, no bombs were dropped, Russia became our 'friend', a wall came down in Germany; and my memories of the black and white movie that showed people running and crying while a radio voice pleads, "This is Hungary calling! This is Hungary calling!" softly began to find a quiet spot in my brain. (although writing those words causes my eyes to tear again) Little children no longer say "Booooombs over Tokyo!" when they drop a water balloon on their friends from the upstairs window. They no longer decide who is first by using racial epitaphs in sing songy voices. I don't know a kid who can tell me who Bazooka Joe is; or who can identify the dimple on a coke bottle and why it had significance. We found out JFK had a girlfriend on the side, but by the time we found out, no one was shocked any more.

Progress. Good and bad, and we sort through it to try and find the best and to be politically correct. This has worked, in my opinion, very well for about 90% of life. I am bad with math, my percentages could be wrong. I like that we no longer use racial slurs without thought. I await the day when someone can be nominated or elected and gender, religion, or race will not even be in the headline, it will be a moot point. I am sad however that some things have gone the way of the dinosaur and will never come back.

I feel we, as the most blessed nation on earth, have become spoiled, complacent, apathetic, and willing to go with the flow. We have exchanged our moral agency to become followers in the Church of the Feelgood and Happening Now because we are afraid of being politically incorrect or hurting a friend or family member because of our/their choices. We have lost sight of right and wrong through amazing shades of gray. I do not and will not ever condone abusing anyone for their race, religion, creed, or lifestyle. I believe firmly and allow all people to worship who, what, and where they may. I expect others to allow me the same. I also believe we still need to act morally. We currently live in fear of those who "educate" us, instructing us that what was correct 5 years ago is now simply a moral issue and therefore cannot be put into the calculation for decision making. If a answer or solution has a moral aspect it is now discarded.

I am melancholy today for many reasons. The anniversary that causes too many questions still unanswered, a war that lingers on and a debate over that war that only history and time will clear up, a society that lives by safety colour codes and diminishing constitutional rights for security sake. I am sad for leadership with cloudy backgrounds and immoral precursors, and that it seems we can't swing a cat at any of our choices without some suspicion. I wonder if my vote really counts and if it does, I am damned if I do, damned if I don't in regard to which chad I punch through. Most of all, I am tired of living in fear. Fear of other nations, fear of our own leadership, fear of voicing my opinion, fear of offending the popular kids, fear of being afraid.

One thing remains. I still have moral agency. I still have obligation. I still have choice and responsibility. I still live in the best nation, albeit a messy one at the moment. I still can raise my voice in those things I think are immoral or unlawful. I can still have an opinion no matter how biased or unfair, no matter how religious right or liberal left I am. I can still write a letter, make a phone call, sign a petition, and ask others to do the same. I still feel the hand of the Lord in my life. I still feel an obligation to God and my fellow human beings. I still feel accountable to God for how I treat people and the earth and those things I have been given stewardship over. I still feel that prayer is real and that it works, and that all things are for our benefit.

I still feel the need to say God bless America, and mean it deeply.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Project Noah: Week 4 - Rice

Hey! Did any body know to day is Wednesday? Well, heck I thought yesterday was Monday -all day long and so today's Tuesday Tutorial is a day late! (ding! that would be the light going on in my head)

Week 4: 10 pounds Rice. (considering the situation this year in India...not a bad idea, this food storage)

Hint: Check that you have sufficient clothing (that fits) for one year (or fabric and necessities for sewing clothing).

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Monday, September 08, 2008


A couple of weeks back I sat in on a combined Sunday School class. All the adults who weren't otherwise occupied were invited to listen to a presentation on the LDS Family Services. The presenter spoke reverently and respectfully about mental illness, marriages, families, adoption, addiction recovery in all its' forms, job placement, and many other quick points on the services they provide, who is eligible and how one goes about receiving assistance from them. After a ten minute or so presentation the remainder of the time was given to a young woman, "Sarah".

"Sarah" told us her very personal struggle with placing her newborn infant with an adoptive couple and how she came to make the decision. It was amazing to watch this young woman bear her deepest thoughts and heartbreak in front of so many strangers. She was poised and Spiritually mature beyond her years, and spoke with such conviction and purpose. Most everyone in the room had tears in their eyes as she spoke; and we could fully understand her decision process and determination for her new baby. Her words were filled with wisdom, and complete and unselfish love for this little baby, and hopes for this child's welfare above her own situation of ache and grief. It was a privilege to have witnessed her speak and feel the Spirit in the room that day.

She wanted to assure us that she made the decision fully on her own; and that no one had "guilted" or coerced her into it. She was given all the opportunities and options, a counselor, and availability to others who had been in her situation who had made various decisions.

I have to say that I have been in attendance (at these same kinds of presentations) a few other times, as recently as a few months ago, where other mothers have shared their stories, also beautiful and filled with love; however "Sarah" will being my heart and mind for a very long time, I hope, forever. She humbled me.

She shared an analogy that I had never heard before. She asked us to imagine a young mother and father who were outside, playing with their toddler. While the parents are inattentive, only for a moment, it is long enough for their toddler to wander out into the street where a swiftly approaching car is racing down the street. The parents have a choice to make:

A: They can stand frozen in fear and allow the child to be hit by the car, which would surely kill the toddler, but more than likely cause lifelong emotional harm to the parents who were not able to rescue their child.

B: They can, together, run to the child, wrap their arms around each other and take the hit. Chances are all three will be injured, and most likely have life long injuries, but they will all live.

C: Mother can run to the child, while dad goes for help. Mommy wraps her body around the toddler, and together they take the hit. Mommy and child will both receive injuries that will be life long and difficult, however they will live.

D: Mom can run to the toddler with such force she pushes the child out of the street and into the arms of another couple standing on the other side. Mommy will suffer injuries that will last a life time, baby may also have a few scrapes and bruises, however the baby will be safe.

Her analogies were this:
A: is like an abortion, the baby dies. "Sarah" explained to us that she could not even think of this option, although many in her situation have and do. For her, the emotional scars would have been too difficult to bear and she could not think of a life with that kind of hurt.

B: is like a marriage for marriage's sake and not one that was planned for or inevitable, a marriage of convenience that would most likely fail, harming all three parties. Another choice "Sarah" said was not even an option for her in her situation.

C: would be like rearing the child as a single mother, hoping for help that may or may not come, a father who is more absent than constant, and that would, again, harm all three parties for life. She said she felt that this was an option for her as she had great support from her family.

D: is like adoption. She would save her baby and harm herself knowingly.
She admitted that it was the single most difficult decision she has ever made; and that it has hurt her more than any other situation in her life... however the thought of her baby having both a mother and a father who could love her baby, support her baby, and give her baby 'saving ordinances' (scroll to "Sealing Authority" ) that she could not yet give her baby, those were the things that she felt her baby deserved. So she pushed the baby into loving arms and took the worst hit of her life.

She shared with us photos of her baby and her baby's adoptive family. She told us the happiest she has felt since finding out she was pregnant was the day she went to wait outside the temple as the adoptive family were sealed for all time and eternity. She said there would never be anything that would help her heart heal more than knowing her baby had a forever family. She was sure she had made the correct decision.

I have to tell you, it was hard to watch her tell her story, and I pray that if I were ever in her situation that I would have the faith to do what was best for the child. She truly amazed and humble everyone in that room.

For those of you reading who are LDS, this post probably makes a lot of sense. For my readers who are unfamiliar with LDS beliefs and would like to know more by reading information from the source --these links can help. No one will call on you unless you specifically request it. And of course you may always ask me, I would enjoy helping you understand what I am writing about!


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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Where's Waldo?

Alison made a comment that echos my sentiments regarding camouflage and animals. Amazing! So, for fun here are a few uncropped unedited photos. How many Waldos can you find?

There are ten in the top photo! Did you find them all?

Thanks Alison, fun game!

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Saturday, September 06, 2008


So we are on our way back from a conference and we are traveling through the desert between Baker and Barstow California. Anyone who has traveled that road very much recognizes the road sign to Zzyzx. Thor and I have past that road sign for the past 50 or so years on every trip to Vegas and beyond into Utah. He has been out to the hot springs before, looked around a bit, but I never have. Today we decided to wander out and see what was still out there.

Once on the road there is sign that tells you you are about to enter The Mojave National Reserve, actually BLM land currently managed by Cal State University and used for a Desert Studies Center. yeah. The road sign also informs you that it's a short 4 mile trip down a narrow, but paved, well except for about 100 yds (that looks as if it constantly is being washed out) road to get to a Visitor's Center. More on that later.

We had gone about half way and saw an icon sign that indicated big horn sheep. Both Thor and I said that we would love for that to happen, but it was 11:00 in the morning, and no way had that ever happened to either of us -when we look up and walking slowly out of the tall reedy marsh were a herd of them!

Their leader seemed a tad more concerned than the group and he made his way quickly up the steep rocks and turned as if to say "Hey, you idiots, those are people! Helllo! Danger danger! Get up the hill!" Most of them just mozied across the street and a few even waited for us to catch up so they could get a good look at us too! Let me tell you; you probably have seen big horn sheep if you have seen a sign indicating they are around. THEY ARE INVISIBLE! Once they were on the rocks, if it weren't for their snowy white bums, we would never have noticed them. Thank goodness for snowy white bums.

So we snapped away and went on to the Visitor's Center. At the end of the road there is another sign that instructs "invited guests to park, walk to the Center and check in, and all public vehicles and visitors to park in the lot over there--->." Um, o.k. How do you interpret that sign, can uninvited folks go to the Center too? Or just park and use the potty? We got out, took a short walk (in the 100 some degree heat) and decided that today probably wasn't a "visitor" day. Oh well. Back in the car and off we drove.

Lucky for us the mountain goats or big horn sheep or whatever it was we saw the first time out were still on the hillside, white bums showing and we took in a few more photos. Great side trip.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Project Noah: week three! Milk Products

Week 3: 1 large box or ten envelopes of instant milk.

A friend of mine suggests adding a box or two of your favourite milk flavouring, like Ovaltine, because most folks aren't super fond of powdered milk. Adding chocolate to it will make it more palatable!

Also, remember that milk isn't just for drinking but also for cooking.

Plus, if you have or think you will have someone in need of formula or soy milk, better add those as well.

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H 2 ohhhh!

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