Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Time and other Seasonings

She turned 45 today.

This morning I lay awake in the small hours, her warmth close-by. I pondered how best to communicate all that she means to me in my life. Thoughts and ideas flowed freely, filling my head.

For the past 26 years I have shared her birthdays, the first as a glorified boyfriend, the next quarter century as a family member. We've spent more than half of our lives together, working through life's challenges as a team.

This birthday seems a little harder for her than the past ones. Her mom died this spring; mortal frailty is making its presence felt. She voices her concerns and insecurities.

This morning as ideas ran through my mind, it occurred to me that she thinks of herself as a rose.

Recently, I had the opportunity, when she was ill, to represent her at my niece's bridal shower. New experience for me.

My daughter was in charge of the rose game: the Guests all estimate the number of petals in a chosen rose bud; the Bride pulls the rose apart, petal by petal, listing one fact she knows about the Groom for each petal; the petals are counted. The Bride did a wonderful job. I was stunned at how many petals are in a rosebud.

It seems to me that my wife thinks she is losing petals; that some of her outer petals are turning brown and discolored; that soon she is going to fall-apart completely.

My wife is not a rose.

Rather, her beauty is that of fine sculpture: the years may be rough on a masterpiece, knocking a finger off here, gouging a spot there, but the value remains. Even missing her arms, the Venus de Milo stands graceful, intriguing, full of beauty and more valuable than any sculpture created in the past two millennia. So, it is with my wife: though knocked about by life's regular trials, she greets all comers with a grin, and carries on, standing tall and unbowed by experience.

Her beauty is that of fine literature: the pages yellow with age; the binding cracks and falls apart; the pages tear, fall-out and are taped or re-glued; the margins are filled with notes. Still the volume is treasured for the wisdom, knowledge and language it contains. No one would cast it aside, rather it is stored carefully and taken out again and again, to drink deep of the truths that it holds.

For years I have realized that my outlook on life would be shallow indeed, but for her. She has regularly dragged me, kicking and complaining, from the box I lived in, with my hands over eyes and ears, out into the light to see the world with new perspectives. She doesn't accept surface explanations, but rather, looks into the meaning of words, and more important, where those meanings lead. She has never been afraid to lift up the corner of a rug to see what might lie underneath, whether a treasure could be hidden there.

Her beauty is that of fine architecture: basking in, absorbing and reflecting the unique characteristics of the light where she is. Her whole life has been dedicated to the light: finding it and making it a part of her.

As a new husband and father, I only thought my wife had women's intuition. She is marvelous judge of character as we move into new towns and situations. With the perspective that a quarter-century brings, I now realize that she has unique gifts that allow her to understand things about people that others don't. The empathy she feels for others is so pervasive that after she has spent a few hours with someone, she'll come back home speaking like that person, not as a form of imitation, flattery or mockery, but rather in a completely unconscious absorption of their speech habits, word choice and dialect.

Life with her has been a wonderful adventure.

I am thankful to be her partner and companion.

Happy Birthday, lady!

Friday, October 27, 2006


She wouldn't leave me be.

I was catching up on local obituaries yesterday, looking for people from my county of interest, or people who are related to me. I'd gotten behind and had to go through three weeks of online newspapers.

Well, as I scanned the obits, I noticed her, Joyce Janeen. Her obit was in the paper for several days running, so I saw her a few times.

She wouldn't leave me be.

I noted that she was raised in a town we'd moved away from last year and let it go at that.

She wouldn't leave me be.

I took a look at my database and saw that I had already entered some of her relatives, so after some consideration, I decided to copy her obituary and picture.

This afternoon I added the obituaries to my database. When I got to Joyce's record, I remembered the reticence I had, wasting my time on adding records for a person whose only connection is that she lived in a town I had lived in for a decade.

I finished entering records for her children and grandchildren (it was an amazingly complete obituary...) and took another, closer look.

Her husband is my 4th cousin. Her family is part of my family; for some reason she wanted them added to my database.

Sometimes the spirit has to whisper several times before I listen.

But I'm paying better attention.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Strange Visitors

A week ago Saturday my son asked if we could drive out to Nine Mile Canyon to look at the petroglyphs there. He arranged that my daughter would babysit his two boys while he, his wife, my wife and I took the little trip.

Trip it was.

We started at 2 pm; drove for 3 hours; entered the 40-mile-canyon and began to explore.

The only other time I had been there was with my mother-in-law about 9 years ago. It was hot. They had a blow out. I changed the tire on their van.

This time it was an amazingly cool day in a canyon in the middle of the desert. The road was damp. Our truck even got muddy.

We took lots of pictures. I took 154, not quite enough to fill my memory card. I have no idea how many my son and daughter-in-law took.

One shot we couldn't pass up. It's message was much more recent than most in that canyon:

I don't think the SS Enterprise has ever been close to the area, but I kept my eyes peeled.

We were only able to get about 10 miles into the canyon before it was time to turn around and head home. The only pointed ears I saw the whole day were on my son's head.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Perfect for the moment

Before thee, Lord, I bow my head
And thank thee for what has been said
My soul vibrates; my poor heart sings
When thy sweet spirit strikes the strings.

How sweet thy word I've heard this day!
Be thou my guide, O Lord, I pray.
May I in patience do my part.
Seal thou the word upon my heart.

Do thou, O Lord, anoint mine eyes
That I may see and win the prize.
My heart is full; mine eyes are wet.
Oh, help me, Lord, lest I forget.

So may my soul be filled with light
That I may see and win the fight,
And then at last exalted be,
In peace and rest, O Lord, with thee.

Look up, my soul; be not cast down.
Keep not thine eyes upon the ground.
Break off the shackles of the earth.
Receive, my soul, the spirit's birth.

And now as I go forth again
To mingle with my fellow-men,
Stay thou nearby, my steps to guide,
That I may in thy love abide.

Text and music: Joseph H. Dean, 1855-1947

Thank you Joseph.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Lots of un-finished stories.

Maybe they'll be told later.

But for now, I've got a hole in my face.

Not one of the normal ones: nose, mouth, ear holes.


I let my wife do some voodoo on me.

She did it on herself some time ago and I've watched the process with some interest.

It started when she purchased an herbal brew over the internet. She'd read about it, wasn't too grossed out by the pictures on the website and thought it might be something to try. She's got tiny scars on her body where she used it.

I cut myself one too many times while shaving and asked her ten days ago to do it to me.

You see I had a mole on my cheek. Not too big. Between the corner of my mouth and my ear, about 2/3 of the way back. Not terribly noticeable, but a danger when shaving.

So, a week ago Thursday, I asked her to put the herbal gunk on my mole. Remove it. Make it go.

I've been wearing a variety of bright band-aids ever since. They're from a box of "Madagascar" band-aids she bought for our grandson. Mostly I've had penguins on my cheek by my ear. People do ask. Generally I tell them that I'm having a mole removed. Sometimes I'll follow-up with an explanation that I'm using herbs to remove it. Heh. I think the active ingredient is something called "Blood Root". Conjures up all sorts of images in my mind, let me tell you.

When she applied it ten days ago, it felt as if something was immediately attacking my good ol' mole from the roots. Thereafter it was only a matter of keeping the spot moisturized and covered with a band-aid. Can do.

***Oddly gruesome description warning***

If you are pregnant or otherwise queasy already, don't read on.

***You have been warned***

Basically what happens when using this herbal remedy is that it attacks what ever shouldn't be part of my body. I have no idea how the herbs know what is me and what isn't, but this morning she removed the dried up little plug of matter that used to be a mole on my face. Where it used to reside is a small hole in my cheek, about 2/3 of the way back from the right corner of my mouth to my ear.

The strange thing when I checked out the new excavation site this morning after my shower: There were long, gray whiskers left behind growing from the hole in my face. After I had shaved. They are below the regular surface level of my skin. I guess they used to grow through my mole. The herbal stuff really does leave the normal parts of my body alone as it does its voodoo.

Now I've just got to keep the area moist and covered with a band-aid while the skin heals with a little scar tissue. It's already easier to shave.

Eventually we'll buy more band-aids. The decorating possibilities have me thinking.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Yesterday I took a walk in the mountains. I climbed the hills north and east of our apartment, starting at 5:00 am. I wanted to check out how it would be to walk with a full 72 hour kit on my back. I also wanted to see how I would do.

Well, it was a good test. I was able to carry the load. I learned, though, that it is much tougher to go down than it is to climb. Of course, I rested at the highest peak I climbed. My knees stiffened up and I could only manage baby steps as I walked out.

Sunrise in the Rockies is wonderful to see.

When I was in the hills I had plenty of time to ponder and pray. The rumble of the city was only a distant echo of the normal city hubbub and I was only about two miles away.

Recovery time for my expedition was more than I expected as well. Thank heavens for a hot tub and pool. And Tylenol. When I reported my experience to my friend, Gary, he told me the secret is Tylenol before, during and after a hike. Wish I'd known that before I started.

Slowly I learn what I need to do.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


The other day I left my keys at work.

There are several reasons for my forgetfulness, I suppose.

The fact that I still haven't quite gotten over the idea that I no longer ride the bus, is one reason. Rarely did I ever carry any keys with me when I rode the bus. I became accustomed to the idea that I didn't have to carry keys. Keeping keys in the pocket of a suit is a great way to wear holes through the fabric of that suit.

The more immediate reason I left my keys at work is that it was my first day at work after our wonderful/strange/odd trip last week. I was still getting my land legs back.

Still, I left the keys on my desk top.

I have determined that I will keep the keys in a special pocket of my briefcase. That way they won't jingle around and wear holes in my pockets. And I will always know where they are.

Even so, there are worse things to forget than my keys.

Over a decade ago, I came home from work on a Friday evening. I walked from the bus stop to our apartment. I noticed that the car wasn't in our parking spot, so I figured that she'd taken the kids shopping or to a park, or something.

When I entered our apartment, my family was sitting on the couch watching TV.

"Where's the car?" I asked

"Well, you drove it to work this morning..." was her reply.

We left the kids on their own, walked together back to the bus stop, took the next bus back into the city, picked up the car and went on a date.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


We made it to the sea-side city of Long Beach with only a short detour through Watts this morning.

The room we found to stay in tonight is only about twice as expensive as the one we stayed in yesterday. That's okay, though. We were happy to get off the marvelously intricate system of highways in this part of the country. Those roads and the lack of mountains to help keep me going in the right direction magnified the feeling that we both experienced: We're not at home anymore.

When we first drove through town, we were unable to spot the regular signs for accommodation. Our return trip helped us to see more. We stopped at a hotel and I asked if they had rooms available. They did, so we checked in. I was only slightly surprised when they informed us of our assigned room: 911.

That's right. I'm writing this post in room 911.

The last time my wife and I traveled out the country was in September, 2001. We were in Greece, on the island of Rhodes, when we saw the World Trade Center towers struck and fall.

The feelings of ill-ease we felt at that time, were fulfilled.

I've felt similar feelings this past week.

Those feelings have been masked by my birth certificate stresses.

Still, we're staying in an odd room.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

So Far...

Monday morning I had an odd idea.

We'd discussed driving to California for our 25th Anniversary. I thought, "What if we drive down, then get on a cruise ship?"

She thought it was a great idea, too. 25th time's the charm. I finally got the anniversary thing done right.

The internet is a fun place. I found a deal on a Carnival cruise from Long Beach. I learned later that we'd need birth certificates or passports to get on board.

Our birth certificates and passports were stolen last November, so I got on-line and ordered new ones. Pronto.

Her's showed up at our apartment complex the next day before I got home from work.

Mine hasn't shown up yet.

I ordered them the same day. Michigan's bureaucracy must be more efficient than Ohio's.

I have a scanned image of my old one and a copy of my confirmed purchase order. The stress level is high.

Will I get on the boat? Or will we have wasted a good deal of money?

Time will tell.

Life is an adventure.

We drove to California today. Her first time to this state. My third. We're in Barstow, checking it out for my sister-in-law, who will be moving her brood down here in August. Poor chica.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I was allowed to type-up her obituary.

Petoskey News-Review, Thursday, 20 Apr 2006:

Joanne Marie Heinz Howse

Our beloved mother, wife, grandmother and great-grandmother, Joanne Marie Heinz Howse, peacefully passed away Monday afternoon, April 17, 2006, at Timpanogos Hospital in Orem, Utah. Death was caused by the effects of a stroke she suffered early last Thursday morning.

Joanne was born Dec. 6, 1942, in Petoskey, Emmet County, Michigan, the daughter of Leslie Eugene Heinz and Donna Joanne Price. She grew up in beautiful Northern Michigan, learning young to exercise her talents.

Mom graduated from Harbor Springs High School, a member of the class of 1960. As a teenager, she was the organist and pianist for several Presbyterian congregations in the area around Little Traverse Bay.

Joanne married Arnold Leroy Howse on Sept. 18, 1959, in Harbor Springs. They were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on June 15, 1965. Together, they raised a family of 12 children.

As their family grew, Arnold and Joanne worked at Crump's Candies in Harbor Springs, eventually acquiring the business and renaming it Howse's Candy Haus. They successfully introduced Northern Michigan-style fudge in Boca Raton, Fla., and in Provo and Park City, Utah.

Joanne met missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and embraced their teachings when she was a young mother. She and Arnold provided a place for the first LDS Sunday school in Northern Michigan and supplied roots for the establishment of the church in Northern Michigan. Mom has been actively engaged in church work, serving in the Primary, Young Women's and Relief Society organizations. She actively traced her family history, taking her family on trips around the country in pursuit of grave stones and other records of her past.

Joanne is survived by her husband, her twelve children, 40 grandchildren, with three more expected, and six great-grandchildren, with another due to arrive in October.

Joanne was preceded in death by her father, and, a month ago, by her granddaughter, Christina Shell Howse.

The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, April 21, at the Park 6th Ward Chapel on 4th West in Orem, Utah. A viewing will precede the funeral at 11:30 a.m. Arrangements are being made by Sundburg-Olpin Mortuary, 495 South State St., Orem, Utah 84058. Interment will be in the Orem City Cemetery.

Condolences may be sent to the family at

Monday, April 17, 2006


My mother-in-law suffered a massive stroke last Thursday morning.

Blood enzyme levels indicate that she also had a heart-attack at the same time. Her diabetic sores have become infected and gangrene has begun to spread. In her situation, amputation is no longer an option.

Her german roots include a tendency for stubborn persistence. She's waiting for her oldest daughter to get home.

She has had a remarkable life. She bore twelve children and brought them up to be successful, thoughtful and compasionate.

Mom and two of her daughters

The Hospital staff has been very considerate. Only a portion of her posterity is ever in the room at any given time, but it can become a circus very easily.

The last two daughters will arrive tonight. Another son is waiting for further word before he makes any travel plans.

Patience is a virtue.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Last Monday the doctor removed Gideon's arm restraints and the brace over his lip.

His next surgery is scheduled on July 11th, a day before his big brother's second birthday. They'll begin work on his soft palate, then. It'll be a three-day hospital stay.



Released from his bonds

At seven months, he is definitely my hero.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

First Kisses

Silas was at our house when I got home from work on Monday. His mother was experimenting with hair color, so we kept him out from under her feet for a while.

When it got time for us to return him, we told him we had to go Bye-Bye.

Silas stooped down by our small bookcase, picked-up the ceramic squirrel that lives there, and gave it a kiss.

We got the squirrel several years ago when her grandmother passed away. It has sat on different shelves of our small bookcase ever since then.

Silas has been attracted to the squirrel since he could crawl.

I've only had to glue it together once.

Silas has been giving us good-bye kisses for about a couple months now, I suppose.

When I mentioned for her to look at our grandson, Silas said, "Bye", stooped down, picked-up the squirrel and again gave it a kiss.

I guess that's as much as he can do since we had the cat move away.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


With the sale of our home finalized, we have been able to stabilize our finances somewhat.

That stabilization has opened new opportunities, as well.

She had been limping along with an old iMac we purchased before the turn of the century. The old system hardly was able to display most internet information. She had to install Netscape and use two browsers just to navigate at times. The old machine only had six gigs of space and the processor was SLOW. The old Blueberry iMac has performed for well over seven years. I figure our costs have been fully amortized.

With our new financial situation we were able to bring her computing into the 21st century.

We went down to the new Mac Store at the Gateway last Thursday and bought a Mac Mini with a super drive. We purchased a 19 inch flat panel monitor at CompUSA. We bought Bose speakers at Circuit City the next day. All together it cost less than the first MacPlus we bought back in 1988. The differences are astounding.

We're both just a little hesitant with the new Mac OS X. I have become accustomed to being able to worry about and manipulate directory structures. This system seems to allow you to forget about all that. It's a bit of a paradigm shift.

Of course, since it is her computer, I only have to offer tech support, very rarely will I have opportunity to use this fun new machine. I do want to experiment with iPhoto and iDVD, though. We'll see what happens.

I am posting from her desk while she's in bed, listening to Paul Simon's Graceland on iTunes.

Friday night we used it as a mini-entertainment center to watch a DVD.

Such a privilege to access and use current technology.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Saturday I stood a reference counter shift at the Library.

A lady approached me in the afternoon. She told me that she had been here at the library for the past 3 months. Saturday was her last day. She'd found a few things of note during her visit. She had wanted to find out more, but time had run out, she needed to get home.

She told me that she had recently learned to ask people at the reference counter for help. Now that she was going out the door, she asked for my help in evaluating her data and what she should do next.

I was astounded as I began to make suggestions for further study.


During that time she talked with other library patrons, and volunteers, but she didn't bother to approach the paid staff at the reference counters.

She wasn't using a computer to help organize her information, either. We have all the tools on over 200 computers in the Library, and she hadn't tried to use those tools to her advantage. I gave her the information on how to download a free copy of PAF. In the THREE MONTHS she had been here, she could have attended the 8-class course in using that program at least 4 times.

Unfortunately, I find that all too often I am just as blind to the obvious opportunities that stare me in the face.

What am I missing?

Gotta open my eyes.

Oh, That's it!

Yesterday she asked, "Do you love me?"

"Yup," I answered, no doubt in my mind.

"How come?"

That's it! I knew that I hadn't stated her regular query properly in the last post.

Her follow-up question always catches me flat-footed, emptying my brain of any rational thought. I have to stop and think, trying to put words to my most recent wave of feeling.

You'd think I could plan ahead.

Me, too.

But in this I am always unprepared.


Over 25 years the list has grown long and dusty. Finding new things to love and appreciate about her is a constant pleasure and keeps me alert.

I'm happy that she continues to ask.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


She's asked me for years.

"Why do you love me?"

I'm sure that some of my answers have become stale, but I always answered honestly, looking to see new ways that she has become important in my life.

We broke up during the first week we dated, because I felt things were "too physical." She's the only girl I've kissed since I returned from my mission so long ago. Three weeks later we began dating again. A few weeks thereafter, I called her Dad to ask permission for her hand in marriage. They showed up on her doorstep two days later.

I can't even begin to enumerate all the reasons I have listed over the years. Some were Great!; others inane; many inspired; all sincerely heartfelt.

The problem I have is that words are just words. They don't stack up against actions. Apparently my actions have always blasted away any words I have stated. Thus, her need for regular feedback.

Last night I arrived home two and a half hours late from work. I hadn't been able to warn her of my impending tardiness. I should have been more attuned to the depth of her hurt.

Midnight tears painted a picture of wounds inflicted, then barely scabbed over, before being ripped open again; scars building over a quarter century. My un-thinking, destructive actions weigh too heavily on the scales against my words and good intentions.

Early on, in my naivete', I figured I would bring joy and happiness into the life of the girl I married. I would be her hero.

All too often I'm just her chump.

She hasn't asked for a while. I figure that she probably doesn't care to know, right now. But here are a few weightless words rolling in my head this morning:
  • She brings me broad perspective
  • She helps me to consider more
  • She adds spice to my days and nights
  • She is spontaneous
  • Her desire to learn is infectious
  • She lets the Spirit guide her words
  • She fills my empty life with meaning
  • No one can believe she's a grandmother
  • She doesn't know that she is beautiful
  • She doesn't need anyone else's agreement to stand on her own
  • Her insight cuts through to the center truths of the matter
  • She likes mizithra cheese on her spaghetti

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Of course, the day we came home dawned bright and warm, the shirt-sleeve weather we'd expected.

Though we encountered some snow around Kanab, the trip home was pleasant.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


We thought that we'd take a trip to sunny Arizona.

We were surprised.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Hero

He always walks past me, going the other way: unkempt, dirty, bearded, matted hair, talking to himself.

Two days ago I saw him again. He no longer had the remnants of his old coat with him. It had fallen apart over the past two years or so. Somehow, someone helped him get a new coat. Not that what he was wearing was new, by any means.

I first noticed him about three and a half or four years ago. He was pushing himself in a wheelchair backwards up the sidewalk towards me. I only saw him when I was on my way to the bus stop. I was always in a bit of a time crunch, trying to make my commuter connections.

The spirit always suggested that I give him a push. But he was ALWAYS going the opposite direction than I was and I had a bus to catch.

No excuse.

When I fail to act on impressions the spirit sends me, my life changes.

Every few weeks I would see him, pushing with his good leg, working his way to where ever he was going, steadily, slowly, with concentrated effort. Wind, rain, sleet, slush, snow, he kept on his journey.

As the seasons passed, I noticed that he eventually got crutches. His shoes wore out. His coat became tatters. His progress seemed slower with the crutches than with his one-legged backward pushing of the wheelchair. No longer did I receive promptings to help push him along.

Whatever was wrong with his leg is healed. He is walking, unassisted, now.

He is in a constant state of communication with people I can't see. I am positive that he has never seen me. Always talking, gesturing, eyes focused elsewhere.

Regularly I wonder how I could ever break into his sphere of concentration, to offer him my old over coat, or a new pair of shoes. I've tried to catch his eye with a smile as we pass each other on the sidewalk. He is always focused on things that I'm not seeing.

Salt Lake is a city of compassion. There are folks spread around the city center every day asking for help from passersby. If they ask, they get help: food, coin, folding money, clothes, shelter.

I have never seen him with his hand out. Ever.

My esteem for him has grown over the years: his dogged determination to get where ever it is he goes; his concentration; his focus; his complete and utter disregard of the world around him; his apparent independence.

I wonder what I have missed.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Christina Shell

I didn't get a chance to meet my newest niece.

She arrived at 10:40 am yesterday. She left this morning at 5:30 am. My wife, daughter-in-law and grandkids went down yesterday to greet her. I'll get to see her picture in a while.

Though I didn't buy her casket or funeral plot, I have anticipated her arrival.

When my wife and daughter were discussing her imminent arrival last Wednesday, her spirit visited and said, Hi! while she was on her way to enter her destined physical abode. They said her spirit was strong and bright.

I miss her already.

I look forward to the day when we will meet her and experience her celestial glory.

I work steadily to qualify for that experience.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Memory, revisited

She told me what happened when Silas came over to our apartment the other night.

After I unzipped his coat, Silas took it off and went into our bedroom. He stood in the center of the room for a short space of time, thinking. Suddenly, he turned and went to the closet. The door happened to be open, so he opened the tall jar of candy there and got himself a treat.

Nothing spectacular. Most 19-month-olds probably remember the location of goodie bins from visit to visit at their grandparents.

Silas had a rough night. He wasn't comfortable sleeping at our apartment, apparently. She brought him in, sang him lullabies, rubbed his back and got him to sleep. He woke a few times thereafter, but eventually settled down.

He didn't wake up when I got up for work. But I must've made too much noise after my shower, closing a drawer too loudly, I guess. Anyway, Silas awoke with a start. He rubbed his eyes and rolled out of bed. I was standing in the closet doorway, putting on my shirt.

He looked my way.

To my surprise, he walked past me to the candy storage jar in the closet, pulled-out a tootsie roll, unwrapped it and popped it in his mouth.

We need to keep that closet door closed from now on.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


This morning I had breakfast with Silas.

Just him and me at the table together. I had a bowl of Cheerios. He made sure his was a mix of Apple Jacks and Cheerios.

He carefully placed a Jack on his spoon, then lifted it to his mouth. When the Jack fell to his lap, I helped him retrieve it and put it on the table. He promptly decided that the middle-man wasn't needed and put the Jack directly into his mouth.

Silas was over at our apartment because his little brother had a sleep-over of his own going on. The docs wanted to check him for sleep apnia, so he and his mom spent the night at Primary Children's Hospital. They've been giving Gid a full battery of tests since he was diagnosed with Cri du Chat (also known as 5p-minus).

It was fun to have another kid with me at the table this morning before I headed out the door.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


We spent a lot of time and money rebuilding our 72-hour-kits this past weekend.

The focus switched as we organized this time around. Funny, how your perspective will change when you have to re-do something.

This time we purchased water filters. One for her and one for me.

We also bought new backpacks and made sure they had pretty much the same stuff in them in case we get separated.

Trying to prepare for prophesied calamities is about like trying to catch a fly with tweezers. Lots and lots and lots of variables.

At least with bug-out bags ready, we'll be prepared to leave the house in minutes with little effort. I have this sneaking suspicion that when we do leave we probably won't be back in three days. Look at what happened in New Orleans.

There were no Rook cards at Wal-Mart when we went looking. Hmmmm. Still, I did put my new travel Scrabble game in the First Aid duffel bag.

This time we'll keep our packs waiting in the apartment instead of in the back of the Jimmy.

Thank Heavens for my extra job right now...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ages, revisited

Once there was a little boy who thought he was twenty.

He pretended that he was like big people around him. He listened to their words so that he could talk like them. He tried to think like them, but never quite got the hang of it.

Eventually he became twenty, himself. He figured his grasp on life was pretty solid. Things fit comfortably into the box. But he still didn't quite think like everybody else, and, as a result, he didn't talk like others at times.

A friend punched him once: "I agree with everything you say, I just can't stand the way you say it!" POW!

The little boy thought about that for a long time.

Eventually he found his match. She was the part that helped him feel whole. She added her perspective to his. He found out the box was shaped much differently than he'd thought previously. She helped him learn how to talk with folks a little better.

They had experiences. They grew common understanding between them. They filled a small apartment with children, then a small house with a big yard.

They followed promptings to move from place to place. They had more experiences. They collected friends. They learned. They grew apart and then back together, successfully. He grew overweight, gray and balder. He listened more and protested less.

Their children married and moved away. The bubses came along.

Funny, he still feels like he is twenty.

He is better able to communicate. But that box has all but disappeared. Things that used to be boxable, out-grew the box a long time ago.

He's still a little boy. At times he pretends he's like the young people around him. When he visited campus a couple months ago, though, he felt like quite an alien.

His understanding about life around him is more tenuous than ever.

He is impatient: has always had a tough time waiting through Christmas eve. The Grand Return is close, and he can't wait for things to get cleaned-up so that He can come back.

Even so, that Return is closer than it has ever been.

He waits; pretending that he's like the people around him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


We stopped into a Vision Center last night to get my frames adjusted. The optometrist was working late, so I decided to get my eyes examined while I was there. It has been over 3 years since the last time I bought glasses and things are getting a bit fuzzy again.

He gave me a thorough exam, dilation and all. He told me that the nerve in my left eye is larger than the nerve in my right eye. Because that is not the normal situation and a possible (very) early symptom of glaucoma, he suggested further testing with a specialist. None of the other tests suggested any problems...

It could be that my optic nerves have been this way my whole life. Getting an image taken of the nerve will establish a baseline for comparison and diagnosis in the future. I'll make the call today.

Having my eyes dilated is always a fun experience. I enjoyed watching things get a little misty as my pupils expanded. It felt as if my field of vision narrowed a bit.

This was probably the first time I'd had my eyes dilated during the evening. The drive home was a spectacle that only I could see. Head and street lights had long, skinny pokers of light protruding in an extended crescent from the lower half of each glowing globe.

Stoplights, on the other hand, had soft, fat streaks extending around them, like using the wide side of a magic marker to draw instead of a sharpie fine point.

It was a fun drive home.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lessons Learned

One last night and another this morning:

We went to see how Steve Martin did in casting himself as Inspector Clouseau. I enjoyed it. She laughed a couple times. Normal, I guess. We didn't start learning until we returned to our vehicle.

Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never go to the movies at the Gateway on a Friday night.

Did I suggest that you should consider other entertainment options than the Gateway on a Friday? Do so.

It took us twenty minutes to ascend from the depths of the parking structure. Twenty.

By the time we got to the Parking Attendant, we needed an extra validation to get out without paying. The movie validation was only good for three hours. We'd been there three hours and 10 minutes...

#1. Gateway. Friday night: go somewhere else.

This morning I'd just bitten into a fresh toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese spread on it, when my cell phone went off. My hands were full (I was taking the other half to her...) so I missed the call. Pity.

When I'd delivered the other bagel half, I noticed blood on my fingers. I knew I hadn't cut myself when splitting the bagel (it was pre-cut, I used my fingers to pry it apart...), and the butter knife isn't sharp enough to inflict an unnoticed injury.

Quickly I realized there was more than cream cheese on my lip. My lip was bleeding. I knew that I hadn't bitten it. But it was bleeding. Profusely. I grabbed a handful of tp and started dabbing my lip between bagel bites.

When they bagel was gone, I began to apply continuous direct pressure, expressing my dismay to her about the volume of blood that continued to flow from a non-existent injury to my lip.

Eventually I traded the tp for a paper towel. It steadily filled with my leaky fluid too.

After about fifteen minutes with no slowing of the flow, she suggested that I use a wet wash cloth. I hesitated a nano second, before I located an older wash cloth and ran it under cool water. Surprisingly, the blood flow slowed, then stopped after another few minutes.

Now, I've had minor problems with nose bleeds during the dry of a cold winter, but I've never had my lip spontaneously split before. I put on some lip balm.

By that time our daughter had arrived. While she was there the blood flow unexpectedly started up again. I applied the cool, wet cloth again and brought it under control. I came to work.

Just a few minutes ago I sneezed and things started up again. Luckily my leaky lip responded to direct pressure and stopped bleeding in less than a minute. I applied more lip balm.

#2. Bleeding lips respond better to cool, wet cloth than scratchy, dry paper.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Last week I watched an odd DVD.

It was a 4-hour-long presentation by Ian Xel Lungold. I watched it from 8 pm until midnight, so my cognitive skills might not have been clicking at their most effective rate. However, I think I learned some good stuff. So, I'll summarize here.

Mr. Lungold taught of Conciousness and Calendars. His presentation revolved around learnings he's gleaned from the Mayan calendar. I'm not going to go into all the background information he presented, just the stuff that hit me:

According to the Mr. Lungold's understanding of the Mayan calendar, from about 1755 to the beginning of 1999 we were in an era when periods of progress lasted 19.7 years. In January 1999 we started a period of time in which the periods of progress last 360 days.

That is, the amount of progress I experienced over the course of 19.7 years when I was growing up, now takes place in a little under one year.

Oh my.

No wonder it feels like things are going faster than usual.

Mr. Lungold explains that the final era on the Mayan calendar will begin in 2011. At that time things will be multiplied again and the period of progress will be 20 days. That means in 2011 things'll be happening in 20 days which previously took 19.7 years to accomplish.

We are in a time when information is being processed in millionths and billionths of a second. Our minds, on the other hand, process information and pictures in 24ths of a second. Mr. Lungold suggests that as we get deeper into this consciousness crunch we will go "out of our minds". Literally. Our minds will not be able to process all that is coming our way.

He states that when we go out of our minds, all we will have left to use is intuition. While that is an interesting concept, and valid as far as it goes, I feel that we will also have access to one other resource to make it through the difficult times ahead: trust in the Lord.

The Lord has assured us that all things will give us experience and will be for our good. So I am getting ready to go out of my mind and put my trust in Him.

There are those who feel I've already achieved the first part of that last statement. Maybe this post could be used as an example.

But as for me and my house, we will trust in the Lord.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


My boss retrieved a voice-mail yesterday, late in the afternoon.

We were the only ones in the room. I heard the message because he was on speaker.

When the caller mentioned a problem with the screens on the Patron Desktop, my ears perked up. That's my job. I got up and walked over to his cubby to hear some more.

She said that it had come to her attention that we used the word "website" on the Desktop screens. She went on to tell him that "website" is an improper word and doesn't follow the corporate style guide. The corporate style guide details that "web site", with a space between the two words, is the preferred usage. She asked us to please make appropriate changes to the Patron Desktop screens...


I was dumbfounded.

Some of the thoughts that flew through my cranium:
  • I didn't know there was a style guide...
  • I didn't know there were folks tasked to check out and report on style guide infractions...
  • Someone has time to check out my style?
  • The Desktop screens are a little over two years old, I've been sinning for quite a while now...
  • Not a big deal, but this really demanded a phone call?

My boss and I had a little chuckle. I agreed to make the changes, then got ready and went home, thinking no more of the incident.

I pulled the latest issue of Time magazine from the mailbox on the way up to our apartment. After I changed my clothes, I was glancing through it, when I noticed "website" right there on the page. Hmmm?

It's okay to use the word that way in Time.

I made a quick check of the Official Word List of the National Scrabble Association. Yup. "Website" is an acceptable play in Scrabble.

I just used spell-check here on Yup. "Website" is spelled correctly.

Thinking back, I remember that Brother Brigham counseled us to have a style of our own. I wonder if this is really what he was talking about.

I just didn't realize that such minor details would matter so much.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gotta Dance

We first noticed it last Memorial Day.

It is memorable because the day was extraordinary. It rained that day. Lots. Water came into the basement. My son and his family came over in the afternoon to help me pull up the carpet.

After we had cleaned as much as possible in the basement, we were relaxing upstairs. I was playing music over my new computer speakers and we saw it.

Silas started to bounce.

Classic rock seemed to get him going most easily. He was 10 months old, just barely able to stand and make his way around tables and chairs. But the music got him to dance.

Thereafter whenever we had him in the car with us and a tune with a good beat came on he'd get his head nod going. My grandson, the headbanger at 10 months.

Tuesday we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. While we were waiting for a table we observed another toddler. He obviously heard some music that made him move. He was just outside the restaurant entrance. There was a hubbub of sound. But he zeroed in on some music and it made him move.

He would take three steps forward, pause, then take three steps back. Over and over again. He was obviously having a wonderful time. I couldn't hear the music that made him dance, but it was clear that he was motivated.

Apparently, there is something in some music that makes you want to move. It's silly and people try to supress the urge, but it's there. As I look at things, I think that expressing the enjoyment of good music through dance is probably a good thing. I'll do it more often.

Just not in public.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


The house selling experience has had its ups and downs.

We're on the down-side right now.

The last potential buyer let her children tell her the house was too far away from them. She cancelled the deal one week before closing.

We've heard nothing from our realtor since she told us that the laws concerning earnest money in Utah favor the home buyer, not the seller. We won't be collecting any earnest money from this last lady.

That's okay.

It's in the Lord's hands.

Half of a miracle is its timing.

I'm looking for the lesson that I'm supposed to be learning from these experiences. Patience is definitely a part of the picture. Trust is most likely another part.

I'm thankful that I can still learn new things.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


The thought occured to me yesterday: my alarm clock is off.

Since our move to the city, I've been walking to and from work. It has been healthier for me to walk the 3 blocks down the hill each morning and, more especially, up the hill each evening. The three flights of stairs at the top of the hill help my aerobic health as well.

An extra result of my walks to work: no more public transportation.

I turned in my bus pass yesterday.

For twelve and a half years I regularly rode the bus to work. I didn't ride 100% of the time each week, but probably averaged in the high 80's over that period. The other rides were with members of my family. Especially when she needed to get away from home.

Still, my habit was to ride each day. Mornings were filled with scriptures, prayer and napping; afternoons with journal writing, reading and more napping. It was routine.

My routine has been shattered.

Yesterday I realized that since I no longer am bound by the bus schedule, I had no real concern about when my work day ended. I walked home later than normal.

Likewise, my morning schedule is looser than it was previously. I sleep in later than when I was a bus rider. And, since I no longer need to have my bus pass, I have left my employee ID at home. TWICE.

The first time, I was at the bottom of the hill when I realized my lack. I had to walk back up the hill and retrieve my ID. I swore to myself that it wouldn't happen again.

She dropped me off one morning, on her way out of town. I was in the Library and upstairs before I realized that I'd forgotten my pass (I couldn't get past the doors to my office...). I had to walk home again.

Each trip up the hill gets me better able to walk up the hill later.

Still another consequence of my turn away from public transportation: irregular journal keeping.

It takes more concerted effort to remember to sit down and write in my journal.

I have new habits to create. That can be a good thing.

I hope.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Warrior

Last week we received confirmation.

Gideon cries like a kitten.

Of course, we knew that from the first wonderful moment we saw him a little over 3 months ago.

Still, now we know he suffers from cri du chat syndrome. He is missing part of his 5th chromosome.

His large solemn eyes haven't changed a bit. His happy smiles still shine bright. His constant gaze at those I can't see still cause wonder.

An angel baby has been sent to my family. He chose to come get a broken body and he chose our family to grow in.

Think of all the blessings to come! What we'll learn! The mysterious hope of the future looms brightly ahead.

Sure the road will be difficult, but that's why we're here.

What a blessing it is to be Gideon's grandpa.

I just hope I can keep up with him.