Father’s Day … or Beetle Mania

Today was Father’s Day, which really has nothing to do with my story except that it names the day and perhaps gives you a clue that we are well into three digit hotness here in Ivins, Utah. The revolving sign at Walgreen’s gave us a solid 112 degrees this week, which is hotter than the news was willing to admit, but I live here and my vote goes with Walgreens.

My sweetie and I had a pleasant, quiet day up until about 9:30 tonight. He was able to talk to our “kids” either today or yesterday and after our afternoon naps we went for a little ride around our beautiful Red Mountains in search of hawks and eagles to photograph. We were a little disappointed when all we captured were a couple of quail, a few crows, and one lone hawk… but it was still good.

After we got back home my friend, came over to sit on my front porch and visit. Before long it was dark, and there we were still sitting out there rocking and laughing like teenagers. And when she went home … is where the rest of the story begins.

I came in the house and Lynn had prepared a nice little supper for us, so we sat in our easy chairs chatting and eating and I noticed my back had started to itch. I’m generally an itchy person so I really didn’t think much of it other than it was annoying and scratchy. I was leaning with my back on the leather recliner and when I’d get an extra sharp itch I would rub it back and forth on the leather to scratch it. (Makes me shudder now just to think of that.)

Okay … so here is where it starts to really go south. I needed to go to the bathroom and you have to know this; when I need to go to the bathroom, nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, better get in my way or try to change my course or I could just end up standing in a puddle of yellow foam.

So I am three strides down the first hall, dragging my oxygen and making good time, when I get what feels like a thumbtack sticking into my back and there’s not a darned thing I can do about it because I don’t have time to stop and fix it. I round the corner to the second hall, one giant step farther along and I get another sharp jab in the back like there is a cockle burr making a trail just below my shoulder blades and it keeps sticking me like that all the way to the bathroom, where I gratefully settle myself on the throne just as I get a really intense, cruel jab like from a needle.

Okay, now that I am sitting and have time to think about it for about a second and a half I realize that I am being attacked from all sides by an army of vicious creatures By this time I am yelling, “Ow! Ow! OW!” as I try to get Honey’s attention. That’s when I start peeling off layers of clothing until I get clear down to my birthday suit … all the time whilst sitting on the terlet and making sure that I stay seated until I’m done with the business that brought me there in the first place.

I hear Lynn in the bedroom and I yell out to him to come and see if something has been biting my back. I have to hand it to him; he is quite the gentleman and makes no snide remarks about me sitting there naked as a blue jay while he leans over to look at my back for blood and scratches.

He says, “I don’t see anything that looks like what you are describing. There are a few red marks but they’re scattered around, not in one spot.”

“You weren’t listening,” I sputter. “It was going around my back … all over it! Something was back there biting me!

“Oh, WAIT!” he says. “There IS something back here. Let me get closer so I can see.” And at that he is leaning clear over my bare back mumbling “Eww, you’re not going to like this.”

Well, those of you who know Lynn, would have thought the same thing I was thinking about then: that he was pulling my leg.

“Are you serious or are you trying to be funny?” I ask impatiently. “Something has been biting me and it hurts!”

“No, there is really something here. Let me catch it in a tissue.”

“Catch it in a tissue!” I scream as I frantically try to look between us over my own right shoulder. Of course I can’t see what he is doing. I can hardly breathe with him laying over me trying to catch something I’m not going to like. I’m still hoping he’s teasing me, in spite of the fact that my back feels like it has been chewed on by Dracula.

image“Got it!” he exclaims as he extends his two hands right in front of my eyeballs with a wad of toilet paper that is squeezed around a big, black creature with eyeballs and pinchers … and it’s wiggling and twisting to get free!

“Get it out of here!” I scream at his proud offering. Obviously he is starting to get a kick out of me sitting there without a stitch on, screaming orders at him in the key of a Very Sharp C.

“I think it’s just a common black beetle,” he tells me in a placating way that makes me want to kick him out of the bathroom with both feet. He seems to sense the danger just before I am ready to strike and leaves talking to himself about smorgasbords and common beetles and mountains out of molehills.

Finally alone, I set about getting myself ready for bed all the while knowing in my heart of hearts that I was attacked by a voracious, man eating beetle from the deepest jungles of Africa.

Of course, there are over a million kinds of beetles to choose from but somehow Lynn and Mr. Google have determined that this one is a probably just the very common black ground beetle from Europe. (Thanks a lot, Columbus.)

So … this has been a very ordinary Father’s Day with the exception of a very unordinary, humongous black beetle. Even hours later, as I write about my night of Beetle Mania , my fingers quiver and I feel a shudder rolling up and down my spine. So, how was your day?

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Grandpa Aberquacky’s Timeliest Invention

Grandma Aberquacky was a little concerned as she watched the leaves change colors and begin to fall off the trees this one extremely particular year in Duck Creek. It was time to be shutting up the house and workshop, and getting things tightened down against another brrrrry, northern winter.

clip_image002[4]Year after wintery year it had been the same routine without question; the day after Halloween all ducks who had any sense at all began the migration. More times than Grandma A. wanted to remember, though, Grandpa Aberquacky had threatened to cancel their annual vacation so he could continue working on his many, many, many inventions.

This particular year it was looking more and more like he was going to stall them for too long, and Grandma A. had every reason to be worried. The rest of the Aberquacky’s in Duck Creek were ready for take-off; pacing and grumbling and otherwise waiting very impatiently. Grandma Aberquacky quacked at him non-stop all morning to finish up so they could join the others, but all of her efforts were like water off the old duck’s back. It just didn’t sink in!

“Grandma, qclip_image002[6]uit yer pestin’ me about it,” Grandpa quacked at her that final afternoon. “I’ve got me an invention here that will take care of that cold north wind comin’ through our house in the wintertime, and we are a gonna stay right here at Duck Creek!”

“Oh dear, oh dear”, muttered Granny as she waddled swiftly down the hall, her back tails swinging from side to side in a huff, “What has gotten into that old fool? He’s completely off his quacker! The children will have to quack some sense into him. I have a feeling that old Whackymacky and I will be staying here all by our freezing selves!” And off she hurried down the lane to deliver the bad news.

“You can’t be serious!” Kimmerwacky said preening her beautiful head of curly feathers. “Surely he knows how cold and hard the North Wind blows in the wintertime! Why would he give up palm trees and ocean breezes for that?”

“Are you sure he isn’t sick? He sounds a little quacked if you ask me,” said their other daughter, Angisnacky, batting her long, glittery eyelashes. “Maybe he should see a doctor.”

 clip_image002[8]“I am sure he’s only kidding,” Warywappy added absently as he stood tall and raised his dumbbells high above his head in a determined effort to build up enough muscle for all the flapping he knew was ahead.

Unfortunately, it turned out that Grandma A. was right. Neither she nor Grandpa A. would be flying anywhere this year because while Grandma was busy talking to her children, Grandpa climbed up to the very top of their house to seal it with his newest invention against the bitterly cold wind. Well, of course, he lost his balance and blew right off the roof, and, of course, he didn’t want tclip_image002[11]o drop his invention to flap his wings … so there they were … stuck at home for the winter. Thank goodness Grandma had a pantry full of seeds and grains … but how ever would they manage to stay warm through the blustery weather ahead?

The grandchildren stopped playing with the toys Grandpa had built for clip_image002[15]them and held a quick meeting. All of them, (Blabber, Clabber, Dabber, Flabber, Gabber, Jabber, Labber, Mabber, Nabber, Pabber, Quabber, Rabber, Slabber, Tabber, Vabber, Wabber, Zabber, and even little Freddy) decided they were NOT going to leave their grandpa and grandma alone for the winter. When they informed their parents, who were normally of sound mind, they were quickly given permission to stay behind afclip_image002[17]ter it was carefully pointed out by Jabberquacky that they would be able to swim beneath the warm southern sun without a bazillion goslings quacking at them day in and day out.

 clip_image002[19]So it was that the grandchildren, under the careful tutelage and watchful eye of Grandpa and Grandma A., prepared their home for the frosty months ahead … using none other than Grandpa A’s fandiddleyastic newest invention. Soon enough, they were all safe and warm inside the house preparing for their very first Christmas in the north. Grandma A. was busy knitting new warm flippens for their flat, orange feet, and brightly colored caps for their round, little heads. The north wind blew its best, but not a draft or a breeze stirred inside the cozy Aberquacky home.

Oh how the wind blew in December! On Christmas Eve Jabber and Tabber Aberquacky slipped outside on a secret errand aclip_image001nd returned with nothing else but a beautiful, mid-sized tumble weed. The goslings quickly painted it green and began to decorate it with pods, seeds, feathers, and string. Grandma roasted seeds and nuts over the fire and Grandpa sat smugly in his chair feeling warm and safe.

They were pretty certain that Santa wouldn’t be visiting them in Duck Creek … on account of the fact that every single year Duck Creek had not had a single creature stirring … not even a mouse! Everyone and their dogs left town for Christmas! But, just in case, they weren’t taking any silly chances either. Their old fattens were hanging carefully on the wall by the fireplace … and just in case of a scrumdillyisious Christmas miracle, they were being very, very, very good!

They were safe from the weather, playing together, when out in their yard there arose such a clatter they sprang to the door full of feathers and chaclip_image002[21]tter. In my most grandocious of dreams you would not believe what met their eyes!

There, amid a tangle of reindeer hoofs, antlers, pieces of sleigh, scattered toys, and stupified elves was one very procifigated Santa Clause. Apparently the North Wind had gusted up under his sleigh as he was dozing and he over corrected the reindeer and then they had all rolled right out of the night sky into Grandpa Aberquacky’s back yard! Santa was walking around in a daze, picking up pieces of this and pieces of that, shaking his head and looking into his empty bag.

clip_image002[23]“This is bad. Not even my worst nightmare is this bad,” he mumbled. “There is no way in this life I will ever get the toys repaired and this sleigh fixed and back on the milky way in time to make my deliveries. The children will be so disappointed.”

Grandpa Aberquacky was out the door in a flash, hobbling along on his crutches and quacking so fast not a single duck or Santa Clause could understand a word he was saying.

“Now slow down there, Aberquacky,” Santa urged. “I’ve got me a real problem here and I don’t need you getting in the way and makin’ it worse!”

clip_image002[25]“Get my toolbox,” Grandpa called to the goslings. “We can fix up that sleigh and those broken toys in no time at all! Not even the north wind can blow it apart by the time we are finished!”

The scurrifying that followed was something you would have had to see to believe! Those little grand ducks looked like little furry elves running all over the place fixing this and fixing that, quacking and waddling here and there! Santa Clause sat back in amazement!

Soon, to his wondering eyes there appeared a beautiful multi-colored sleigh all hooked up to eight rather bewildered reindeer! Toys had been magically mended, packages had been re-wrapped, and all was ready once again for Santa!

“Ho Ho Ho,” said Santa with a new twinkle in his eye! “Come Dasher, Come Dancer, Come Comet and Blitzen … Come Donder & Cuclip_image002[29]pid and … Fancy and Scooter! Off we go to deliver our toys! Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho!” And in the distance they heard him exclaim as he rode right out of sight … “Merry Christmas to the Aberquacky’s and have a good night!”

“Hooray for Grandpa A.” shouted the goslings! “Hooray for Grandpa’s invention! It saved Christmas!” They were jubilant and excited as they all turned to go back into the house. As one after another came waddling clip_image002[31]through the front door they stopped and tripped and stumbled over each other as thirty-eight excited little eyes took in the bulging fattens hanging in a row and the stack of presents with their names on them that were beneath a beautiful Christmas tree. “Now when did he do that?” asked Tabberquacky in wonderment.

Grandma Aberquacky was dreamafied as she looked lovingly at her quirky little dear. “My quacky little ducky” she marveled, “you did it!” (Who would ever have believed it, she wisely thought to herself?) Then she added, “And now, you silly old quackermeister, what are you going to name this magically formulated concoction of yourclip_image002s?”

Grandpa Aberquacky chuckled and ruffled his feathers a bit before answering, “Well, I was thinking of simply calling it Duck Tape.” And so he did.

 

This is a rewrite of a story from 2006.  I hope you enjoyed it and I want to wish you all a very stupendillyisios  Christmas.   I plan to spend my time with family and friends and ponder the life of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  For after all … he is the very reason for the season.

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A Little Birdie Told Me …

 

A Shared Entrée from my Personal Journal,                         July 11, 2013

     I went out this afternoon to sit in the front yard, forgetting for a silly minute that it was 108 in the shade! I decided to water a couple of dry spots on the lawn while out there with all of my oxygen apparatus, so I turned the nozzle on the hose and began spraying the parched patch of grass that is just outside of the reach of the automatic sprinklers. 

     I finished with the closer spot and moved towards a dry area by the north tree however, my oxygen hose wouldn’t reach as far as I needed it to, which prompted me to change the nozzle from spray to a straighter, more forceful stream that reached farther out. It made a beautiful arch right to where I needed it to go, but a little rogue spray shot off with a mind of its own and the afternoon sun hitting those individual droplets of water made them sparkle until they seemed to explode with reflective color.

     While admiring the beauty of the moment I noticed a tiny little hummingbird a few feet forward of me and to my right.  It was hovering close to that smaller, misbehaving spray , and cocking its tiny little head in my direction as if trying to decide whether or not I could be trusted to not send it tumbling to kingdom come.  I must have passed muster because it soon began to dance beautifully in the water, swaying and bowing to an orchestral accompaniment it alone could hear.

      After a magnificent performance it suddenly pulled up and looked at me again before bravely dipping down and beneath the larger, faster arch of water … as if she (I’d quickly decided on her gender after such a spontaneous little recital), had decided to fly back for her turn at her well hidden nest of eggs. 

     Instead, she turned around and dipped back under the arch and buzzed quickly back and forth two or three times, as if to say, "Yippee, look at me!  How brave is that?",  and then she buzzed up to sit on a small branch above my head where she preened and shook off and prettied herself up before hovering briefly in front of me and flying quickly out of sight.

   I wonder … Is she the same little hummingbird who has been coming to hover right in the middle of our big east window once or twice every day to peek inside and see what we are up to?   Do you think Mother sent my new little summer pal to  check on me for her?   Today’s encounter only lasted a couple of minutes, yet every time I remember, it brings a smile to my heart. 

                                         humming bire           This picture is of a beautiful hummingbird that is part of a pair that my sister, Ann Peart, and I gave to our mother several years after our father passed away.  Mother loved hummingbirds and we thought they would remind her of us and the love we three shared.  After mother’s death Ann and I each took one to remind us of the same thing.  When I set this one in the sun, the colors sparkle and it sways gently to any breeze that comes its way.

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If you want to be happy, give something away

I found this poem while going through a Christmas book that was given to my mother by one of her friends.  I quite liked its message and thought I would like to pass it along.

Old Gentleman Gray … Author Unknown

Said Old Gentleman Gray, “On Christmas Day, if you want to be happy give something away.”

So he sent a fat turkey to Shoemaker Price, and the Shoemaker said, “What a big bird!  How nice!  And since such a good dinner is sent to me, I’ll send poor Widow Lee the fine chicken I bought.

“This fine chicken, oh see,” said the pleased widow Lee, “And the kindness that sent it, how precious to me.  I would like to make someone as happy as I.  I’ll send Washwoman Biddy, my big pumpkin pie!”

And, “Oh sure,” Biddy said, “Tis the queen of all pies!  Just to look at its yellow face gladdens my eyes.  Now it’s my turn, I think, and a sweet sugar cake for the motherless Finnegan children I’ll bake.”

Said the Finnegan children, Rose, Denny and Hugh, “It smells sweet of spice, and we’ll carry a slice to poor lame Jake … who has nothing that’s nice.”

“Oh, I thank you and thank you!” said little lame Jake.  “I’ll save all the crumbs, and give them to each little sparrow that comes.”

And the sparrows they twittered as if they could say, like old Gentleman Gray, “On a great Christmas Day, if you want to be happy, give something away.”

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A breath of fresh air

Having recently spent time in the hospital in the Intensive Care Unit and subsequent third floor follow up, I feel a welling of gratitude for the people who took care of me in any way.   I say this in all honesty; there was not one person there who didn’t treat me kindly and generously.   I give them all a standing ovation.  Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah, must have an outstanding Quality Assurance program and their employees are truly several giant steps above average.  Doctors, therapists, nurses, aids, kitchen staff, and cleaning crew … how can I think them enough?  If you are going to be critically ill, I suggest you do it here where the people who care for you really do seem to care about you

Not wanting to bore you with a lot of the details, let me just say this: Breathing is everything it is cracked up to be.   Not being able to take in enough air is frightening and tends to make you realize how precious life is as well as making you very desirous to live and be with your loved ones.   I am ever so grateful that our prayers were answered.

As for now, I am doing better every day.  I have been walking outside with the assistance of my fancy walker with a seat so I can rest when needed, and a little basket for my oxygen.  I manage to push a little farther each time we go for a stroll and it is good to be outside in the fresh air.  The last time we walked it was 3/8 of a mile.  

I was reading my son-in-law’s blog today about riding his bicycle to work in the cold weather and how happy he was that he didn’t go back for the car because of the weather.  I can relate, Brett.  It feels good to push yourself a little beyond what you think you can do … even if it is just a few more steps.

Life is good and there are many things to smile about.  

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What a Wonderful World ….

And I say to myself ….

This little boy is awesome! His rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” brought tears to my eyes! This song is the perfect end to my fun, fun day. Thank you Oleg!

      Today began as any other and who could have imagined the fun that was in store.   Lynn and I had to leave the house while a realtor showed it so I chose that we would go to the ocean.   Since it was really rather nippy outside, we bundled up extra warm for the drive north to Deception Pass, which is about 2 hours northeast as the crow doesn’t fly (for Lynn and I are not known for taking the most direct highway to anywhere). 

      We loaded the car with oxygen, our jackets, water, cameras, phones, snacks, and our GPS (of course you know that stands for Global Positioning System) and off we were!   First stop was the McDonald’s in Monroe where we each got a 32 ounce drink of our favorite beverage.  I know … it sounds like heavy drinking … but if I were to tell you that wasn’t the only time we made a stop like that on this particular day would it change your opinion of us forever?  Old people need a steady supply of liquid, don’t you know?  

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      We laughed ourselves along for a good hour, talking about this and that; enjoying the sights and the towns, and the trucks and the animals in the fields and finally we thought that perhaps we should listen to the Book of Mormon since we are both trying to finish it again before we leave for home in Utah.   Not long after that my heavy head pulled itself forward and my jaw relaxed sufficiently that my mouth could get comfortably open and I was fast asleep … with diet coke drool dropping slowly onto the collar of my white sweater.  I slept like that until just before we got to the pass.

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And now is when the story gets really exciting.  I suppose it could be the climax of the entire trip … it was that dramatic!  There is a pull off right before you actually get to Deception Pass, which is close to Oak Harbor, Washington.    The pass itself is a very high, majestic bridge that connects Whidbey Island to the mainland.  It looks down into the Sound and far off you can see that it opens out into the ocean … and as if all this isn’t enough … you add the beautiful trees and foliage, the tourists, and the wildlife … and the birds.

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    Just before the bridge there was a little look out area with a perfect view from my seat in the car and Lynn pulled over so I could sit comfortably and enjoy the view without having to go through all the work of changing my oxygen so I could get out.  I had just rolled down my window when I heard a screeching bird very close to the car and looked out and a bald eagle was diving straight into the tree just 10-15 feet from me. From where I sat I looked down into the little grove of trees where it was diving and I could hear birds yelling and such a clatter of screeching and suddenly here came a second bald eagle zooming down from the left … out swooped the first closely on the tail of a beautiful golden eagle and they zoomed in and out of the tree and up in the air and down … the two bald eagles intent on driving this one golden eagle away from whatever it had been doing … and they ended up doing just that as it suddenly made a hasty retreat to the west with both of the other eagles close on its tail … the three of them shrieking obscenities at the top of their lungs.   It was all over in a matter of minutes but our hearts were pounding from the excitement of it all.  The three birds were so close to the car it was like front row seats to one of natures grandest treats.   There was no time for pictures of the foray and if we’d have wasted the time trying to take them we’d have missed it entirely but Lynn was able to get a pretty good photo of one of the bald eagles afterwards as it kept a lookout above us in case the golden eagle tried to sneak in from another direction.

eagle

      We sat there for a good long while, talking about it and listening to the comments from other tourists who’d witnessed it with us.  It was actually too spectacular for words and just left us full of emotion and gratitude that we had pulled over to see it.   The timing and choreography of seeing those kinds of unexpected gifts from nature always fascinate me.  Just a few minutes later or sooner and we’d have missed a choice, choice experience.

      Even though the rest of the trip was just as fun … nothing quite compares to those few minutes on the top with the eagles … except for one other magic moment on the way home.    You can imagine that after we’d gone over the pass and had been driving for close to three hours it would be time to find ourselves another McDonalds.   This time, however, it was not so much to purchase more liquid as it was to get rid of the 32 ounces we had consumed.    The first McDonald’s we came to was hooked onto a gas station, Mini-Mart kind of place so it wasn’t ideal but in a pinch it would have to do.  I didn’t have time to switch to the portable oxygen so I just took off the oxygen that is attached to the big tank we carry in the car and hurried into the store.  I saw the sign pointing to the restrooms and made a beeline for the hall cluttered with empty boxes and brooms and buckets.  There was a man sitting on a chair at the end of the counter near the register and just as you enter the hall so I thought I should get his permission to use his loo since I was actually in the store and not at the McDonalds.  He just nodded his head on down the hall so I hurried past him and through the door at the back on the left.   It was such a small bathroom that if I’d of taken my oxygen it would have almost been too hard to manipulate with it.   It had a sink and a place to change a baby but you kind of had to stand in front of the door to use them, and then there was a door that led to an obvious stall and that was where I was headed.  I gave the door a tug and it didn’t open and it was deathly quiet in there so I figured I was alone and gave it a hearty yank … and it still didn’t open.  

      It didn’t take me too long to realize that I was not the only one in the restroom but I figured they knew I was in there by now so I might as well stand there and maybe they would get the hint and hurry.  I was feeling the affects of not having the oxygen available so I moved over where I could lean on the area by the sink for support while I waited, and finally I heard the toilet paper roll getting spun … and spun … and spun … and I am thinking, “Oh great, she is going to clog the toilet and I won’t get to use it and it will be all over for me.”   Then it spun … and spun … and spun again … and I finally hear some shuffling around in there and the sound of pants getting zipped up and the click of metal against metal … and then the door opens and I am face to face with a guy in a McDonald’s shirt and apron.

      “Holy Cow!”  My first thought is that it’s a He/She sort of bathroom but that is proven false when I say, “I bet this isn’t the ladies room, is it?”  And he says, “No, that would be the one across the hall.”    “Wouldn’t you know it?” says I, as we begin to do the shuffle from left to right trying to pass each other.  He was trying to get to the sink, and I was trying to get to the door and there is only room there for one person.   “I am really sorry,” I say … not being able to think of anything else to talk about.   “Oh don’t worry.  It’s all good.”  I’m thinking that no it is not all good since I can’t seem to get around him to get out of the men’s bathroom!   I was almost ready to dive into the stall and just use the danged toilet when I got close enough to the door to open it.   I should have said goodbye considering how close we’d gotten in such a short time … but I just left … retreated into the hall and disappeared behind door number two where I stayed as long as I dared, and then I briskly (with my eyes on the front door) made my retreat.     

      In looking back over the day I am supposing that in our lives we are gifted with these quick little three minute interludes every once in a while for a reason.   The gift of the eagles was a gift of the highest order… and we have thoroughly enjoyed reliving it over and over.  It is something we will always remember and will probably tell it to strangers we find in our travels.     The bathroom incident … well it had to have had a purpose, too.   I know when I told it later to my sister, Ann, she had such a good hearty laugh I was grateful it had happened.   I have imagined her telling it again and again and supposing that the audience gets bigger and better each time … as does the tale.   I know it made the day of the two men in the store … and probably a good many of their customers have heard it as well.   Lynn seemed to have been uplifted by it and how here I am … doing what I love to do most  … retelling it to the world.  I know it will make the day of at least one of my nieces.  Nothing would make her happier than me telling how I got caught in the men’s room.    So, there you go … that’s the way it was …

      “And I say to myself … What a wonderful world!

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Today … A Trip in the Time Machine

      Okay … admittedly I have been a slacker.  I’ve spent hours trying to explain about dealing with Pulmonary Hypertension but it sounds like whining so I erase and  begin again. This time we will just move on to today.   Today we went for a ride in the Time Machine.  It’s one of the things we both enjoy and it always leaves me feeling relaxed and happy.

      The Time Machine looks surprisingly like a 2011 tan Prius.  How it all works is for the scientists to manage … all we do is fill it up with the most inexpensive gasoline we can find and get its oil changed every so often.  So far it has been relatively easy.

      The old country roads that weave through small out of the way towns are some of our most promising locations to set things in motion and there are many such locations in King County, Washington.  Today it began as we drove past what looked to be the crippled skeleton of a Size XXL old barn. It was built much after the fashion of the barn on Little House on the Prairie but its walls were far from the color of freshly cut lumber and many of it’s reinforcing timbers were no longer there to keep it tall and stately so it leaned decidedly to the left (which may have been what drew me to it in the first place.) 

      I don’t know when the Time Machine did it’s magic but suddenly there I was, riding the plains with my friend Donna as we sat proudly atop our faithful steeds.  Mine was a beautiful large white horse with reddish/brown patches …. and don’t tell me there isn’t such a horse because I rode him through many a battle in my days as a Sheriff in the old West.  His name was Star because of the white star that sat in the middle of a brown spot on his forehead.   The actuality of it all was that we never really left the barn because our horses were dusty old saddles that straddled lumber in the old gray, fragile barn on the Dibb farm in Draper, Utah, in the year 1954.  We often lived the lives of Hop-a-long Cassidy, Roy Rodgers, Sunset Carson, or the Lone Ranger as we scoured hills and dales looking for bank robbers and fought the painted Indians who attacked at dawn.  We knew the words to many of the cowboy songs sung by Gene Autry and we would warble them  at the top of our lungs as we rambled through the valleys looking for our lost cattle.   We were seven years old. 

     I loved to play at my best friend, Donna’s, house.  Her back yard, which was typical of that of old farm houses then, farm buildings, farm equipment, fields of soft soil and the common areas of packed down dirt and a few scattered shade trees.  They probably had one of the the biggest climbing trees in Draper that was so wide that 2 or 3 children could hide behind it during a rousting game of Kick the Can, and its branches were thick and strong and placed perfectly for climbing … there were several spots big enough for human nests where we could get comfortable with our books or dolls and spend the summer afternoons high enough that we were cooled by the gentle wind.  

     There was a very standard little wooden, out house next to it that was  was where we went when we needed to do our Number Ones and Number Twos.  Even when they got their indoor plumbing the outhouse stood steadfastly in the sun and got plenty of use from us kids who would run to it when we were too busy to take the time to go inside the house.  There was a latch on the outside of the door to keep it closed when it wasn’t in use and occasionally it was your misfortune to be the reciprocate of one of the brother’s pranks and you would get locked inside and would have to call and bang on the door for someone to come and let you out. 

      Behind the tree and the outhouse there was a humongous stack of bailed hay that we climbed on when no one was around to see.  One summer the haystack caught on fire and its flames were so high and hot that it damaged some of the branches of the good ole tree and was probably the demise of the outhouse as well.  It was a scary fire and the fire department worked feverishly to keep it from catching onto the big empty barn or the house.  

     The back yard was big enough to play a game of soft ball and on a good day when we had enough neighborhood kids we would kick up a lot of dust as we swung the bats, connected solidly, and ran the bases for our team.  Sweat would run down our faces and backs as we played our best not to let the “brothers” down  who would hit the home runs that would bring all the little kids running into home plate.  

     If it wasn’t baseball then it was Basketball, although the bigger the boys were on the teams the less tolerance there was for us younger kids to play and thus we ran a higher risk of getting trampled.  The rule seemed to be “play if you dare” and more often than not, I didn’t dare.   Playing ball was a hot, dusty way to spend an afternoon and the icy cold water from the garden hose was more refreshing than you can even imagine; especially if you compare it to what comes out of the hose in the middle of the summer in Ivins, Utah.

      And suddenly, the time machine comes in for a landing as Lynn pulls quietly into the driveway that leads to our little cabin in the woods in Duvall, Washington, where we have lived for the last five months.   How nice it was to visit Draper, Utah, in the summer of 1954.

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The Joy of Christmas Programs Past

I was feeling kind of bad that I hadn’t finished my Christmas Pasts … I mean there are so many good memories:

School Christmas programs the kids were in all through the years:  I don’t want to get too particular (because they were all unique and special no matter how many we went to) but one program really stands out in my mind when I could smell something like electrical wires melting just prior to the kids walking in to the auditorium.    I wondered why my daughter hadn’t combed her hair one final time  before the program started because although one side of it seemed styled pretty, the other seemed sort of all over the place.    It wasn’t until after the show that she told me her hair had caught on fire from the candles they were holding and it was all melted together on one side because of the hair spray. (That was what I smelled … my daughter on fire!)  I think that was the last time they used real candles in any of the programs.

When my children were young we used to love to visit the nursing homes where we would deliver treats and sing Christmas carols.    In Blanding we used to go with other families and do a live performance of the nativity.   In St. George we used to take our children’s singing group, The Music Makers, who would perform.   The residents loved the singing and especially to see the children.       

I sang in a sextet for years that would be very involved in programs through the holidays.    It was the only group I ever got to sing with because the rest of the time I was the accompanist.    We always came away from each performance, whether as a child or as an adult, with joyful hearts for having taken the time to practice and share our talents.    When my mother got older and was at a facility for a short time I was able to see it all from the other side as I saw the joy it brought to my mother to benefit from programs that were taken there.   

Playing or directing or singing in the ward choir was a huge part of my life until about ten years ago when my lungs and arthritis interfered.    Now I am one of the “listeners”.

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Memories six, seven, & eight …

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Due to the fact that I am sick with bronchitis we will be combining memories 6, 7, and 8.    This picture is taken in either 1980 or 1981.

Memory 6: See that little elf sitting just under the bells that are hanging on the wall?   His name is Ichabod and he has been in the family for years … watching for who is naughty and nice.    I think he liked the kids and only took in the “nice” list because Santa always brought them a bag full of toys and no lumps of coal.

Memory 7: The kids got to open one present on Christmas Eve – which was always new pajamas or sweats.    The picture shows the boys in their favorite pajamas of all time:   Warren loved the Rams, Ryan the Steelers, and Brett the Cowboys.    My children from left to right, Warren, Ryan, Brett, Kimberly, Angella.  

angispinwheel Memory #8: The Spinning Wheel:   This is the inside of the box that the children are standing in front of above.   It was made by my grandfather, John B. Matheson around 1956 (my siblings may remember better than I do on this).   Grandpa used to stock it with full sized candy bars and prizes and would share with his neighbors and friends as they went to his house during the holiday season.    When we had our big family party he would stock it with special candy and prizes.   When we would spin that bicycle wheel it would go around and around until it stopped with the “clicker” pointing at a number.    Whatever number it stopped at would represent a kind of candy bar and that is what we would win.   If it stopped on one of the red numbers we got a candy plus we got to pick one of the prizes from the shelves or those hanging on the door. 

When Grandpa passed away his children took care of his estate and when all was said and done, the spinning wheel hadn’t been taken by someone … and I was delighted when I asked for it and it became mine.    I didn’t realize what a responsibility it would be once the tradition was started!  

I would shop for great deals all year long that would work for prizes, and right after Halloween I would stock up on miniature candy bars (quite a step down from the large candy bars Grandpa used to supply).

We would put the spinning wheel up on the 1st of December but we kept it locked except for one night a week when we would let the children have a spin … or unless they talked us into more than that.    I use the word “locked” rather lightly because my children soon learned how to sneak candy out of it in in spite of our efforts to keep them out.

We were all excited to make invitations for the families in our small town to come to our annual open house and we would drive around and the children would run the invitations to each door.    We would bake Christmas cookies and clean our house and the Saturday before Christmas we would have company all afternoon as families came to spin Grandpa’s Spinning Wheel.     It was always a huge success and such a fun way to spread the Christmas cheer.

The last year I worked, 2006, I loaned it to TURN Community Services to be used as an incentive program in their employment day program for adults with disabilities.    You can imagine how sad I was when I went to pick it up for Christmas in 2007, and it was gone.    No one knew where it had been taken or where it was.    And it has never showed up again.   I miss it.

If wishing would bring it back … the spinning wheel would be in my front room, set up and ready for the Christmas Eve Open House once again.    But since it’s not, we can all be grateful for the many, fun memories it created for over fifty years.   Thank you, Grandpa Matheson.

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The Fifth Memory of Christmas

Today’s memory is brought to you via our Christmas Letter from 1977.  Just so you know …  We have five children, our youngest being born May 5, 1977, and our oldest turning 9 on December 9, 1977.    

“Twas the week before Christmas, and all through our house

Not one person was pleasant, not even our mouse.

The whole fam’ly was sick, with some kind of flu,

Even PaPa was home having aches and pains too.

And he with his hanky, to catch all the sneezing,

Was trying to help MaMa reduce some of the wheezing.

And Kimmy, the baby, so sweet and so happy,

Had just settled down for her afternoon nappy.

When from her room there arose such a clatter,

We sprang from our sick beds to see what was the matter.

She was jolly and plump, a real cute little elf …

But I gagged when I saw her, in spite of myself.

She was covered with poop from her head to her feet,

And so was her blanket, and pillow, and sheet.

Lynn spoke not a word but went straight to his work,

Since she’d filled both her stockings, she went with a jerk

To the john, and was stripped and put in her tubby,

By St. Nick himself, who looked just like my hubby.

He laid both of his fingers aside of his nose,

As the smell from the child in the tubby arose.

And giving a sigh and a nod of his head,

He sent me to clean up the stuff in her bed.

She cleaned up quite well and and was smelling quite nice,

When I saw Lynn in his work clothes and splashing Old Spice.

And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight.

“It’s much safer at work.   I’ll see you tonight!”

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