Monday, August 31, 2009

The Power of a Book......

"It is not just that The Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that The Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find great power to resist temptation. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance." -President Ezra Taft Benson

That is a long quote to share but today was the first day of Seminary for the school year. We have a great class; fifteen awesome Los Gatos High School Youth! 100% attendance today! And this year the course of study is The Book of Mormon. When you read the promise above with a class of kids who are willing to show at 6:30 am every morning to study the scriptures; there is a great feeling (and power) in the room! We have an amazing combination this year of wonderful kids and a great topic to study! It feels like it is going to be The Perfect Storm for an incredible year in Seminary!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Wanted: A Wife!" or "Available for Adoption!"

"Everyone needs a wife. I mean that 1950s kind of wife that bakes and cleans and takes care of ALL THAT STUFF." -stated by a female author on a radio talk show

I can't decide whether I want to BE just like Gladys or HAVE a Gladys (as in Gladys could adopt me). Gladys Goertzen is Julie Holland's Very Amazing Mom! But I think it might just be a ruse. I think Gladys might really be MARY POPPINS (disguised as a suburban southern California grandmother).

Whenever Gladys visits the Hollands; she works non-stop and according to Julie, she likes to be busy! She helps Julie with the laundry, the housecleaning, the cooking, the carpool driving. She's a 24/7 Girl Friday! When the Hollands returned home from their European vacation last week, Gladys arrived a day early with baked goodies, did some grocery shopping and prepared a warm dinner for their arrival! When Gladys is in town it's almost like Julie has a wife!

The author who stated that EVERYONE needs a wife was not referring just to men. Her point was that we could all use "that someone who helps us keep our life running smoothly." With all the details in anyones day-to-day existence there are so many "details" (appointments to be scheduled, shopping to be done, maintenance of things we've bought, planning ahead, decisions, and minutiae galore). Quite honestly, we could all use a Gladys kind of person in our lives; she is low key but is there on the ready and willing to hunker down and work hard! Yes, Julie and the Hollands have a very good thing going!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Leaving On A Jet Plane! I Know When I'll Be Back Again!

"Parents! Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Live Without 'Em." -this quote is dedicated to frustrated offspring everywhere

So, Paige finally gets rid of me today! But not for long! Looks like BYU Parents Weekend is just a month away! And if you ever wondered "Whose Parents Actually Go To Parent's Weekend?" Well, that would be US!

We're your typical Helicopter Parents trying hard to be a little less intrusive in our Adult Children's Lives! They just have to learn a little patience; it's a PROCESS! I mean, you can't go from fixing their oatmeal and cutting their toenails, to letting them THINK they can actually carry on just fine without you? Can you?

My parents weren't the hovering type but I WAS Fiercely Independent so I do remember wanting to figure it out All-On-My-Own-Thank-You-Very-Much! Unless, of course, I WANTED help! Then, help couldn't come fast enough! I still remember a day when my car broke down at the intersection by the U campus that EVERYONE drove by. I was so upset and so embarrassed. I called my Dad at his office ranting as if the car problems were all HIS fault (simply because he was the car owner). I'm sure I was demanding and insolent while my Dad calmly solved the problem and rescued me!

I definitely remember feeling SORT OF grown up; at least wanting the rights and privileges of adulthood EXCEPT that darn "responsibilities" part! That sounded a little OMINOUS!

Our kids are still in the throes of this stage of interdependence and so far our family is surviving it (rustling a few feathers sometimes - but how could you not?) After a little rocky terrain, it seems like most families get it figured out so everyone is happy! For now, I think Paige was quite happy to have a little parental help getting her new digs all set up (and we both think it is looking pretty fine!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Moving In! Scoping out the Neighborhood!

"It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches." -Lemony Snicket

Yeah, it's a little sad to see Paige leave LG for awhile but today we'll be moving her into her new CRIB in The Avenues! I'm a pretty good mover; at least I like the challenge of setting up a room. Organizing! Seriously, what could be more fun?

By my third kid in college I'm getting adept at surveying the lay of the land and finding a good place for things. If I ever designed dorm rooms I would just have wall to wall, ceiling to floor shelving! Shelves Up, Shelves Down, Shelves Throughout! You can never have too many places to put things!

Half the battle for girls is the problem of too many clothes and too little closet space! Guys are lucky because if they wear the same thing over and over, nobody cares. But when I wear the same thing over and over; it gets dubbed my new "uniform!" Lately this has been my black capri pants with a plum Lacoste (but not today....I'm branching out a bit, blue capri and a pink Lacoste...maybe).

So, today we'll unload and then check out the neighborhood! Provo has changed quite a bit since I was at BYU 30 years ago! Private rooms for one thing: nobody lived in a private room back then (at least nobody I knew). Well, according to Gladys there is "alot of cleaning to do" so we'd better go and get started! The Gladys & K2 Cleaning Crew - We could start a new business venture!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Road Trip

"On the road again,
Just can't wait to get on the road again."
-Willie Nelson

This trip to Utah isn't a solo drive like my last voyage. This time it's a bona fide ROAD TRIP! Meaning, there are fun people along for the ride, multiple drivers, excitement galore! Well, okay, the Bay Area to Utah journey is hard to call "exciting" BUT we'll make sure it is an ADVENTURE!

The trick to driving long distance is an ipod filled with good music, audio books, and podcasts. Listening to good stuff makes the hours fly by!

Leaving early is another trick but I had to compromise on the hour of departure. When I said "5 am," Paige recanted with "6 am," so I guess I should have lobbied for "4 am." Next time I'll be a more clever negotiator!

Those are the 2 tricks I have up my sleeve! One puzzle I'm still trying to solve is the dilemma of needing Diet Coke to stay alert but the Diet Coke increases the frequency of bathroom stops! Go figure?! I heard a rumor that Uncle Bruce just pees in a cup (or maybe he just forces that on his passengers; Webb's done it at least once riding to Sun Valley with the Olsens!). And I once read about a demented woman who drove long distance wearing a diaper! If that seems a little extreme I should add that she was headed to kidnap her ex-boyfriend's new flame. So the erratic behavior was just part of the package! How do you spell C-R-A-Z-Y?

So, for this drive, we'll depart at 6 am with our well stocked ipods, and no diapers so we'll be judicious about stopping for Big Gulps! Onward! Hit the Road, Jack! And Rachael, Paige, Gladys and Kathryn - Quite a Crew!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

She's baaaaack!.........Back to the Future!

"If you promise not to believe everything your child says happens at school, I'll promise not to believe everything he says happens at home!" - Anonymous Teacher

Andie is going "Back to School" ...yep, all the way back to Middle School! This time around she'll be Teaching at Fisher in Los Gatos; finishing up her Masters credential from Santa Clara University. Andie will be great with the 6th through 8th graders. She happened to have 2 extreme experiences during her own middle school years.

For 6th and 7th grade, Andie was at a large public middle school in Seattle, (actually Redmond) Washington. Those years are awkward anyway and big classrooms don't help. Nothing disastrous took place but overall they weren't stellar years in Andie's education either academically or socially! But by 8th grade we'd moved back to California (northern versus southern this time) and Andie had the good fortune to experience a small private school, Almaden Country School. She was embraced, loved, nurtured, and ACS left an indelible mark (for the better) on her psyche. Andie went from feeling like a "nobody" to someone who was every bit as "gifted" as the next guy. She developed a new sense of self; she was liked by her peers, encouraged by her teachers, and applauded by the cohesive staff generally. It was a healthy environment and we were impressed enough to keep Webb and Paige at the K thru 8th until they were off to high school!

While every school has challenges (class size, resources, funding, school politics, etc.); teachers do make a huge difference! They can cultivate a love of learning and inspire students to be their best!

Andie will be a great addition to the Special Ed. staff at Fisher. She'll be working hard for no pay (just like her Mom teaching Seminary! ha!) but the experience should be invaluable (again, just like her Moms)! But unlike her Mom, her apprenticeship should lead to "A Real Job" (with $$$, benefits, So, here's to a great semester for Andie as she goes Back to School! Hope she sees some of her friends there (Justin, Natasha, Christina N., Christina L., Kaden, Eric, Hannah, Clayton, etc.). Happy 1st Day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


"You have to eat oatmeal or you'll dry up. Anybody knows that." -Eloise, in Kay Thompson's Eloise

One of the best things about having Paigey around in the summer is having someone to make Breakfast for! She's leaving on Thursday for BYU and soon I'll have no one to make OATMEAL for in the mornings!

Women are hard-wired for nurturing and what better way to nurture and nourish than by fixing your daughter a warm bowl of oatmeal with fruit? I like a routine and happily for me, so does Paige. She's pretty content to eat oatmeal most mornings with some variations.

Most people who grew up in cold climates were brainwashed about the Power of Oatmeal! Mothers promised us: "Oatmeal will stick to your ribs! Oatmeal will sustain! Oatmeal is the proper fuel for inclement weather!" It appears that oatmeal is a WONDER GRAIN! In fact, some research shows that oatmeal can make dieting even easier because it keeps you feeling full longer!

Sadly, lots of people have no appreciation for oatmeal in their breakfast bowl! According to Kimberley Parsons, a pretty Texas lady: "We don't eat the stuff, we put it on our faces!" Well, those Texans can sport their face masks but the NorCal fit crowd knows that A Bowl of Oatmeal a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rest, Renewal, Rejuvenation!

The painting on the left, titled Renewal is by artist Rachel Baum. For her, the 7 boxes represent the year 2007. For me, the 7 boxes could represent the cycle of the week, culminating with The Sabbath Day (a time of Renewal for me).

I saw a cartoon of 2 kids out walking with the verse bubble stating: "Our Grandfathers called it The Sabbath, Our Fathers called it Sunday, .... And We call it The Weekend."

It feels like Saturdays and Sundays have secularly morphed into days without much to distinguish one day from the other. But it wasn't always this way. When we lived in Massachusetts in the early 1980's The Blue Laws were still in effect where retail stores were all closed on Sunday. It was kind of funny to move from Utah to Boston and have Boston be the place where everything was closed on Sunday. (Who'd have thought?!) Eventually the Blue Laws were deemed unconstitutional - I think in 1994(?) so I'm sure the retail in Massachusetts is like the rest of the country: crowded shopping malls all weekend long!

While the Sabbath Day is founded on a religious premise; I think it's sage counsel for any community. There is merit in the idea of a work week of 5 days, a day of play (Saturday) and a day of rest (Sunday). Having a time of refuge is a healthy way to recharge! As it says in the Bible: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27

In the book, "Sabbath," Wayne Muller calls the Sabbath Day a time of "Pampering for the Soul." I love that description! Sundays can be a good day to disconnect from the frenzy of consuming and from all the stimulus competing for our attention. Muller talks about the seductions of modern life crying out to us all week long: "Buy me. Watch me. Try me. Drink me." A Sunday of relaxation leaves us feeling nourished spiritually and refreshed enough to take on the fast pace and challenges of the week ahead! I'm never as good as I should be about honoring the Sabbath but I definitely like the concept of pampering my soul!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Assault" and the Rest of the Story!

For the record, I should state that we have been blessed with great neighbors on both sides of our home!

The house below us has the most easy going people; NOTHING riles them (OUR kids throwing parties, THEIR kids throwing parties, noise at any hour, It's All Good!). They're tree-hugging-good-hearted-people and we've never had a problem with them.

The house above us has a very intense Mom (exact opposite scenario) but we've also never had any problems. They've been exceptionally tolerant of our pool noise and parties even though I know it was probably excruiciatingly painful for them to hear it non-stop during our kids teenage years. Our neighbors LOVED our dog, Kona, who was like their honorary family member. They've been wonderful neighbors and good friends to boot.

When I got a phone message that they'd been "assaulted" I was shocked! This IS NOT a high crime neighborhood! But then the message details went on to describe a classic case of getting TP'd. Yes, their home was Toilet Papered! This was particularly unsettling for this Mom who runs a tight ship and is diligent about rules and regulations! Her twins (just entering high school this year) have impeccable manners! The tee pee caper felt like a violation of the highest order! Frustrating my neighbor even more was her phone call to the local police who wouldn't take her seriously. So she spent the greater part of her day cleaning up toilet paper (46 rolls at last count)!

My initial reaction after listening to my neighbor's voicemail was thinking she seemed to come unglued over something relatively minor. But, here is the rub: After we finally talked together (versus trading messages) I learned that her younger sister had passed away a few days earlier (age 48, with kids still at home, completely unexpected). Suddenly it was obvious WHY she fell apart over the Toilet Paper mess. It really had more to do with grieving her sister's death than the alleged "assault." The teepeeing was kind of a "tipping point" event that put her over the edge!

How often I jump to conclusions about people or situations. And then I find out I only know part of the story. And the missing part is the link that makes it all makes sense! It's hard for me to suppress a little smile thinking about being "assaulted by toilet paper" but now when I think about the incident I'll remember how important the additional information was in understanding her severe reaction!

As a side illustration I once heard a story of a woman riding in a crowded elevator who has her foot stepped on by a man getting in and he offers no apology! The woman is incredulous about the clumsy, ill-mannered man until she looks down and realizes to her horror that his white cane (not his foot!) is what landed on her foot. The man is blind; which instantly changes her perspective completely!

Whether it is my neighbors or strangers in an elevator; I'm sure I'm better off withholding judgment and not jumping to conclusions based on the limited information I have of the whole situation!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Red, no White, and VICTORIOUS Blue! The PCG Olympics!

"All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy." -Egyptian proverb

PCG employees work hard! And when they play....they play hard too! The annual summer party is a friendly competition between two randomly (?) (okay, Stacy helps with equilibrium) selected teams.

The Events: Starting off with Volleyball, followed up by small group divisions of Darts, Foosball, or Ping Pong. Next it's off to the Bocce Ball courts in Los Gatos for bocce, drinks, and appetizers. And finishing off the Sports Challenges... the Basketball Free Throw.

All the action makes both teams hungry! Andale caters Mexican fare followed up with our traditional Carrot and Banana Cake from Iciing on the Cake for all contestants!

It is probably a more active company party than most; but this IS a group that champions "healthy living and aging." (straight from their mission statement!) So, they'd better be a Fit and Hearty bunch! It's always a fun event! Stacy and I have the party planning down to an art - Stace is the best to work with! And kudos to helpful party goers who stuck around for the Closing Ceremonies (aka clean up). Three cheers for Geoff and Westin!

This year the Award for the Cutest Kid...the Gold medal goes to Owen Schiller (1st birthday yesterday). Owen could have some stiff competition in 2010 with the Harts and the Bairds both expecting babies!

In a breaking development, there has been discussion about adding new Events to the line up. One possible new challenge that was previewed by a lucky few (who proceeded to TELL ALL - thank you Paige!) is the CAKE TOSS event! In a stunning performance, there was a special time trial/dry run where the skilled athlete managed to gracefully take not just one BUT TWO cakes from a fridge shelf catapulting both into an amazing mid air launch, soaring over the stove and landing on countertop and hardwood flooring in a complete 180! It was spectacular! But this event should only be attempted by serious, well trained athletes. It is not recommended to try the Cake Toss in your own home.

For 2009 the scores were close but the Blue Team was dominant in the end! Winners received $25 itunes gift cards! And it's Back to Work for PCG!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ready or Not! HERE WE COME!

Wednesday night I was at a Jackson Browne concert in Oakland when it hit me! I'm not sure if I ever told our kids the story of how their Father learned the news that he was going to be a DAD! (You'll see the connection momentarily).

First of all, Brent has always loved Jackson Browne! So, when I was a little nervous about announcing that I was PREGNANT for the first time... who better to disclose the information but Jackson Browne. I knew Brent would be excited about impending fatherhood, BUT The timing WAS a little sooner than we'd Expected to be Expecting! I was working at Marriott Corporation in Management Engineering (which had nothing to do with my English major - but it was a cool job). AND I was in the throes of filling out business school applications and Brent was in his second year of law school. While Parenting was definitely in our plans; getting law school behind us seemed like a reasonable idea too (oh well!).

There happens to be a Jackson Browne song titled "Ready or Not" and some of the lyrics were perfect for our situation. So, I put a tape cassette of the song in Brent's car with a note to play it and then call me when he got to school (back in the day before CD's, ipods, and cell phones).

The song tells how Jackson Browne discovered his girlfriend was pregnant and the opening lines are: "Someone's going to have to explain it to me, I'm not really sure what it means. My baby's feeling funny in the morning, She's having trouble getting into her jeans. Her waist-line seems to be expanding, Although she never feels like eating a thing." And so on...

Ready or Not! It's a perfect tag line to describe taking on The Adventures of Parenting! Seriously, is anyone ever ready, really? I certainly read plenty of advice books: before kids, during kids, and I still read them even though my kids technically aren't "kids." Guess I am a classic example that you can read parenting manuals by the dozen but it's all a little trial and error! Or, as Dan Bennett noted: "Training a baby by the book is a good idea, only you need a different book for each baby." Customized Instruction Manuals! - that would be nice.

So, Ready or Not, They Came (3 of them)! Fortunately, children are pretty resilient; which is a good thing since most Moms and Dads are just winging it as we go along. Ready or Not!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

NieNie....A New Normal

I have never met Stephanie Nielson so it is a little odd to write about her but I am a big admirer! Stephanie writes the "NieNie" Dialogues" and survived a horrific plane crash one year ago. The lower photo is the first
picture Stephanie posted of herself since that accident.

As you can see, Stephanie is a beautiful woman who endured a horrendous year with amazing grace and dignity. When their small plane crashed in Arizona, Stephanie and her husband were critically injured, and their friend was killed. Stephanie's burns covered her entire body. Her husband's injuries were less serious so his hospital stay and rehabilitation were much shorter. The Nielson's 4 young children were cared for by extended family.

If you read Stephanie's blog (both before & after the crash) you realize that Stephanie has an Incredible Testimony about our purpose here on earth and What is Important in Life. She has a love for life; she loves her children, loves her husband, and has fit a whole lot of living into her years (I don't think she is even 30 years old).

The tragic accident that left her physical body disfigured would be an emotional devastation for anyone. But I have been so impressed with her candor about how difficult it has been but also very touched by her determination to make the best of a heart wrenching situation.

Stephanie is grateful to be alive. At the same time, there is the harsh reality of a changed body physically. A New Normal. And yet, my reaction to seeing Stephanie's picture was probably similar to anyone who has come to admire this family during their harrowing journey. I was struck by how beautiful she looked; albeit, a different, more of an ethereal beauty! But beauty nonetheless.

The day Stephanie posted the new picture of herself she included the most poignant quote by Washington Irving (it is almost eerie/uncanny how fitting it is):
"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire,
which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity;
but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."

Stephanie's sister, Courtney, is a gifted writer who also blogs ( and reading both of their touching posts are incredibly INSPIRING! These are two young women who really have a lot of Age Old Wisdom! Sometimes I whine and complain about trivial things and then I discover someone like Stephanie who has lived through a nightmare and Finds the Silver Linings! Amazing, Special People!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Grammy Quizzes! The Birthday Girl!

Today is my Mom's Birthday! She's been a wonderful example to me and my family in many ways. Grammy is kind, caring and always looking out for the Underdog! Since she is in impeccable health, Grammy should be celebrating lots of future birthdays, so there will be other blogs posts.

But today I wanted to write about "Grammy Quizzes!" When her Grandchildren were young there were several summers when Grammy put together a Summertime Quiz for all of her Grandchildren.

The Questions were always related to Information about Family (usually with a specific focus like "The Ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming" or "The Brighton Cabin" or "Sun Valley, Idaho" or"Family Trivia!" Questions were a mix: multiple choice, fill in the blank, true/false, etc.

And here is the perk: Correct Answers were worth ridiculous amounts of money for young Grandkids. If memory serves me right, sometimes there might be 20 questions for $5 per answer which could help a kid earn a fast $100. As long as they knew things like "What law school did Gramps attend?" or "Gramps did the legal work in 1977 when (fill in the blank) bought Sun Valley?" (Stanford, Earl Holding)

Grammy made sure that all the Grandkids scored well! As the test proctor she'd give credit for any answer that could be justified! The "Grammy Quizzes" were just a CLEVER way for her to make sure her Grandkids were learning about their ancestors, and about places that are special to our family, or our history, etc.

Yep, my Mom is your classic School Teacher, full of creative ideas and ways to find teaching moments and make it fun! And considering how much cash she offered for those quizzes, clearly she is not opposed to bribery either!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Hecka Cute Kid! The Singing Sunbeam!

This is a year-old picture of Ryan Barth (taken at age 2 and he is now 3 and Potty Trained) but it is TOO CUTE not to use! It was taken in the Nursery while the Toddlers were singing "Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam." Thus the Sunbeam Hat/Halo atop his head! Ryan was the most animated singer in the class! At first he didn't want to wear the Sunbeam headdress and then he didn't want to take it off!

Two other highlights for Ryan in the Nursery are the Bubble Machine (it is pretty cool) and Marching around to the song "Called to Serve." He could do it endlessly and always with a proud march and a big smile!

So, this past week Tia has been back east visiting her brother in Washington, D.C. She has organized a crew of volunteers to help with the kids. Today Ryan and I had this little conversation that I wish I could have videotaped. It was one of those tender moments that you can't recreate and even though I'll share it with Tia it won't be quite the same.

While we were driving along in their Mom Van; Ryan was telling me that he was missing his Mom (not in a sad way but just very matter-of-fact). Then he proceeded to tell me that "Ashley misses my Mom, and Natalie misses my Mom, and my Dad misses my Mom (again, he wasn't upset - just factual). Soon he said: "We Pretty Much ALL Miss My Mom!"

Ryan was quiet for a minute, then said very seriously: "Kaf-run, Do You Miss My Mom Too?" And, since my 12 mile run on Saturday ended up as a 9 miler because Tia wasn't around to spur me along (distance/misery loves company); I was honestly able to say: "Yes, Ryan, I miss your Mom too!"

Another silence and then to console me Ryan said: "It's okay Kaf-run. She isn't going to be gone forever!" Whew!....that is good to know Ryan! There is nothing quite like getting sincere reassurance from a 3 year old!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Potter's Wheel

Today's post is just a poem I like titled The Potter's Wheel by Marilyn Ferguson. It really needs no further commentary....

When you're troubled and discouraged,
In the darkness of the night.
When obstruction clouds your vision,
And you just can't see the light.

When life's trials overcome you,
And you have nowhere to turn.
When you've reached the very bottom,
There are lessons you must learn.

For the clay is being molded,
It's been twisted, pulled, and tossed.
It's been rolled and it's been pounded,
Till the ego has been lost.

He will put you through the furnace,
You'll be tested to the brim.
Your life will be in pieces,
Till you give your soul to Him.

From blemish to perfection,
His hands will form the clay.
This human piece of rubble,
Must let God have his way.

When you come to him all battered,
In the form of mortal man.
When you cry to Him in mercy,
You will find the Potter's hand.

He will grind you, mold, and chisel,
The friction you will feel.
Till he gently carves and shapes you,
Upon the Potter's wheel.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Lunatic Watch Repairman is driving me CRAZY!

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat. "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here." - Lewis Carroll

I think I am going a little mad! I KNOW I have seen what "crazy" looks like!

So, it seems that Webb's Broken NIXON Watch is being held Hostage!

After Webb' graduation in May I brought his broken watch home with a plan to: a) get it fixed locally, or b) send it to Nixon Watches for customer repair. Since I have a local guy I've used for years to replace watch batteries, take out links in a watchband, etc., it seemed like a reasonable "Mom Errand" to me. All in a day's work!

In the past I'd WAIT for the repair, pay, and leave WITH my watch. But this time the shop was busy and the Watch Repairman thought things looked more complicated. He suggested I leave the watch which was my first big mistake!

It has been over 3 months and I'm desperately trying to get the watch back (fixed or not at this point). Initially I was told it was repaired but when I went in to pick it up he fudged...something about the replacement part being bad. Then, he turned the watch over to an "expert" who purportedly has the watch in His Possession. Personally I think this other guy/expert is a figment of the repairman's imagination or an alter ego of himself. I get the same story every time I call (which is practically daily). Basically, he claims the expert guy is coming in later that day (which never happens) bringing the Nixon watch among others (guess I'm not the only watch owner involved in the ruse)!

Despite my badgering I'm having NO LUCK! I should know that reasoning with CRAZY PEOPLE is a little, ...well, CRAZY! I've pleaded: "My son will be in town this weekend" or "It's my son's birthday in 3 days" or "My daughters are going down to LA - they could deliver it!" No matter how desperate or anxious I sound, this nutcase repair guy nonchalantly repeats his suspect story!

I can't decide whether he LOST the watch and keeps hoping it will turn up OR whether he wants me to VALIDATE the complexity of watch repair (ie. you are an amazing, brilliant man to be able to bring dead watches back to life!) But the guy is just weird! Although, if you think about it, couldn't any sane person eventually go BONKERS looking at minuscule screws and bolts 24/7?! Gosh, I'm practically insane just from the whole experience! Stay tuned for updates, ransom notes for the watch, etc.!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"The Leprechaun Trap!" or "Wisdom from a 5 Year Old!"

"The Journey is the Reward" -Chinese Proverb & Apple Founder Steve Jobs

Yesterday Ashley Barth gave me a excruciatingly detailed description of a "Leprechaun Trap" she made this year. I personally have never made a Leprechaun Trap but according to Ashley it involves one box (cardboard or wood, she said either works fine), LOTS of TAPE, LOTS of GLUE and then, even more TAPE!

Then Ashley and I had the following exchange:
Me (mildly curious about the trap): "So, how did the Leprechaun Trap work out?"
Ashley (very animated): "Oh, it worked GREAT!"
Me (a little surprised/skeptical): "Really? That's cool. Did you catch a Leprechaun?"
Ashley (still enthusiastic!): "Oh, No. But it worked great!"

Now, as an "enlightened" ADULT if I made a Leprechaun Trap that didn't CATCH ANYTHING; I'd consider the project a flop! But Ashley gave Rave Reviews on the Trap! To her, it wasn't just about "catching" Leprechauns; the "Process," making that trap - THAT was where the ADVENTURE was for Ashley! And, that part, (and I quote): "Worked Great!"

How often I miss this point entirely! I'm so Focused on the END RESULT that I don't stop to enjoy and acknowledge the JOY in the journey!

Fortunately, sometimes Children "Get It" more than Adults! So, we are especially "LUCKY" if we have five year olds in our lives who remind us how thrilling it can be to make a Leprechaun Trap whether it catches Leprechauns or not!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Southpaw! I May Be Left Handed But I'm Always "Right!"

Apparently yesterday, Thursday, August 13th, 2009 was National Left Handed Day! Did you miss it?

I'm a Southpaw and I didn't receive any cards! I guess there isn't a lot of support for the holiday. Less than 10% of the population is left handed and most of us were unaware we had a special day to celebrate.

Being a "Lefty" has a few pro's & a few cons but overall I think we are just another quirky minority. But, people still like to postulate all sorts of theories, everything from whether left handers have a higher rate of car crashes (I'll say no) to whether we have higher IQ's (I'll say YES!).

There are some impressive lefties in history, including: Benjamin Franklin, Michaelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, Babe Ruth and even Beatle Paul McCartney. And a few less than impressive ones like Jack the Ripper and the Boston Strangler.

Most people don't realize that our world favors Right Handedness. Handwriting is a classic example where I find 3 ring binders a big annoyance as well as the constant smudge of my left hand smearing fresh ink as I write. I'm not ambidextrous but you do figure out how to function in a world with a "right" bias. For example: I found it was easier to learn to cut with regular scissors than to try to find decent left handed pairs!

By definition, "RIGHT" can mean virtuous, correct, fitting, and suitable whereas "LEFT" might imply evil, ominous, sinister. People even have superstitions like getting out of bed with the left foot means that you'll have a bad day and be bad tempered! But I get out of bed with my left foot EVERY DAY and have way more good days than bad. But who knows? Maybe I have Temper Tantrums (I'll never tell!).

Here is some interesting trivia: It turns out that women's clothes button opposite from mens because long ago women were dressed by servants who were mostly right handed and they faced the woman so.....well, you get the idea. Since men apparently had to dress themselves their buttons favor righties.

Well, Happy (belated/yesterday) Left Handed Day to Southpaws Everywhere!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Johnny Lingo's 8 Cow Wife! Brent Knudsen's 8 Car Wife!

There is an old church video about a clever Polynesian man, Johnny Lingo, offering 8 Cows for a Wife that everyone speculated was worth only 1 Cow at best. Suddenly her status in the community skyrocketed! No woman was considered an 8 cow wife! Women went from ridiculing her to worshipping her!

In an unrelated theme (except the play on #8); it dawned on me that I am an 8 CAR WIFE! Yikes! How did this happen?

Roughly 10 plus years ago we were a Happy 2 Car Family; a Discovery for Mom, a Mercedes for Dad. Then the Little People started to turn 16. Next thing you knew Andie took over the Discovery and the Car Additions (and a few Depletions along the way) began! "Depletions" is my loose definition for cars that little (or big) people crashed and burned, totaled, etc. Paige might be exempt from having that misfortune befall her (and this is where Andie would say: "But, then, we all know that Paige is Perfect!")

So, now we have 5 drivers and 8 cars! But Technically I HAVE 8 CARS because the TITLE to every car is in MY NAME. It appears that I became the DMV paperwork-by-default-person! Can you imagine what my Carbon Footprint must look like with 8 Car Titles! I'm probably on the Hit List of an extreme "Save the Planet" organization! (in my defense, one car is a hybrid!)

I am Not-the-Proud-Owner but Very-Embarrassed-Owner of 2 Volvos, 1 Jetta, 1 Jeep Cherokee, 1 Freelander, 1 Toyota Prius, 1 Defender (the only car we can claim has maintained it's value) and last but not least, 1 Aston Martin! It's quite a collection for someone like me who isn't really THAT into cars! Fortunately I'm pawning off a few vehicles: Andie & Webb have pretty much either paid off or earned ownership (just need to transfer titles) and Brent's business might buy the Prius as a Company Car (well, so much for defending myself with 1 hybrid). Very Soon I could be a 5 Car Wife, which is a marginal improvement but doesn't quite have the same ring to it as an 8 Car Wife!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When it Rains, It Pours!

"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable." -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

On a scale of 1 to 10; if the dumb quote yesterday is a negative digit, today is a plus 10! There isn't a lot I can add or expound upon. Except that I wholeheartedly agree with Lindbergh's wisdom! No one escapes this journey through life unscathed. Challenges and adversity test all of us along the way!

When something in our life feels bleak it is terribly disheartening when it gets worse before it gets better! It Feels Relentless!

But as much as everyone Hates to hear it; the line Coaches use is actually True: We do Learn more from Losing than Winning. But, like the Lindbergh quote, we only learn from Losing/Suffering when we open ourselves up to the Lessons. Which is not easy because no one is much in the mood to open our hearts to listen and learn when things are not working out.

As a child my Mom never let me sulk for long. She made me memorize a little ditty that is trite but still insightful! It went like this: "The Guy that's Worthwhile, is the Guy that can Smile, when Everything goes Dead Wrong." And I was summoned to recite it if I was moping around (which I'm sure I did with a pouty face!).

The best news about the "When it Rains, It Pours" refrain is the fact that it Works in Both Directions! When the tides turn and Good Things start happening; they usually come in droves and abundance as well! Thank goodness for that!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mea Culpa! Mea Maxima Culpa!

One of the DUMBEST SAYINGS I have EVER HEARD is the line "Love means you never have to say you're sorry!" The quote originated from the movie "Love Story;" a blockbuster from my teen days. In the 70's all young girls devoured the Erich Segal book and adored the movie starring Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal (two heartthrobs back in the day). The chick flick was a "bring your Kleenex" movie for our generation complete with the handsome boy, gorgeous girl, wealth, Ivy league settings, and DRAMA!

But as enamored as I was with the book, the movie and charmed by the stunning beauty of Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal, EVEN I (under the spell-of-it-all) thought it was TOTALLY LAME when the byline was said first by Jenny (played by McGraw) and later on by Oliver (played by O'Neal). I can honestly remembered thinking: "What in the heck does that mean? Love Means you Never Have To Say You're Sorry?! Really? Huh? Guess I am JUST TOO YOUNG to understand the nuances of LOVE!" HA! Turns out that my goofy young self was actually smarter than I gave myself credit for!

IN FACT, it turns out that LOVE is ALL ABOUT saying you are sorry! Often! When we really love people we are willing to concede that we make mistakes, that we blow it big time, that we hurt them, that apologies are important, yadda, yadda! When when we LOVE OTHERS we say we are sorry because even though it is a HARD THING to do we LOVE THEM!

Sadly, it has taken me YEARS & YEARS to recognize that I often give Half Hearted Apologies. I'm a PRO at the "I'm-Sorry-BUT-Apology!" I have it perfected to an art! This is when I AM genuinely sorry EXCEPT I happen to have a very good, a very legitimate explanation for my reasoning, my behavior, my whatever! So the Mea Culpa only begins with "I'm Sorry" and then continues with my ranting diatribe of skewed justification!

Apparently John Lennon transposed the quote and said: "Love means having to say you're sorry every fifteen minutes" which sounds excessive until you remember that his spouse was the domineering Yoko Ono (then his version makes total sense!).

I've find that sincere apologies are actually EMPOWERING! When I've occasionally been BIG ENOUGH to man up and take responsibility I've learned that feeling conciliatory about my actions usually starts me on a better path anyway!

Since I mostly blog about quotes I LOVE; I just threw in a STUPID quote today to shake things up a bit! And "I'm Sorry" to anyone who actually LIKES the Love Story Quote!

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Dissecting" the Frog Parable....

The Story about the Proper Method of Boiling a FROG is a cautionary tale most of us are familiar with. We're told that if you try to put a frog in water that is Boiling, it jumps right out. But if you put a frog into a pot of Cold Water and SLOWLY turn up the Heat the frog doesn't notice until IT IS TOO LATE! Ta Da! Boiled Frog!

The story is usually told to warn us about being LULLED into Bad Things. I find the story interesting because the "Moral" is a True Phenomenon but the "Story" itself kind of ridiculous. Or, the "casting" is weak but the "plot" dead on!

First, the Story/Casting: It's Cute! I mean just look at those darling frogs in the picture. Or think Kermit the Frog, the adorable Muppet. BUT, as a kid I used to catch REAL frogs at Hebgen Lake in Montana and THOSE frogs were no shrinking violets; they'd jump out of ANY pot irregardless of temperature! That is what frogs do! So it seems the story only works if I picture a Disneyesque Frog versus a Creepy, Mottled, Warts-&-All Living Specimen!

But, the Moral/Plot; Now, here is a "human nature" concept demonstrated by frogs that I find hard to argue with. The Premise that we BARELY NOTICE CHANGE when it comes upon us incrementally! If the heat is too intense we are instantly aware but give us small doses and soon we're toast/scorched/doomed!

While frogs aren't likely candidates for REALLY sitting in that slow warming pot on the stove; I personally have fallen prey to this trick many times.....both in benign and harmful ways! The parable is often invoked as a "Sunday School" type of warning to watch out for complacency, beware of gradual conditioning that leads to our own demise. But, the applications are overarching and even Hillary Clinton used the tale to describe how the Bush administration slowly lulled us into accepting higher gas prices.

Without overanalyzing or overstating (I can ruin things with my propensity to both); and frogs withstanding, the story IS a good reminder and a clever warning about subtle, slow conditioning that creeps in until we're too weakened to react! Hmm....To avoid the "Boiled Frog" Syndrome the phrase "Leap like a Frog" comes to my mind!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hakuna Matada!

We used to call it the "Living Room" but due to Wear and Tear of all that "living" the room is now in DIRE need of a few NEW items (mainly a new couch and a new rug).

So, the Big Bonus to a old rugs and old couches that already have STAINS in Abundance; you no longer have to WORRY about spilling on them! (been there, done that!) Despite a No-Food-in-the-Living-Room-RULE the upholstery has taken a beating over the last 14 years! Our "No Eating in the Living Room" mandate also appears to be quite subjective! In other words, it applies to everyone BUT the Person who, at that very moment, would very much like to take THEIR sandwich or THEIR diet coke, etc. into the Living Room JUST THIS ONCE because surely you meant that rule for my other Siblings and NOT ME, right?!

So, in honor of a couch that needs an Upholstery Makeover and Carpet that needs Coit Cleaners, I hereby rename our Living Room the "No Worries" or "Hakuna Matada" Room! Since I'm planning to replace the couch and rug anyway, we might as well let everyone Kick Back, Snack Away, and Enjoy the last stages of these furnishings before their Imposed Retirement! Just don't try to extend the boundaries! "No Worries" long as you stick to the Rules!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Singing with the Best of Them!

"Music can noble hints impart,
Engender fury, kindle love,
With unsuspected eloquence can move,
And manage all the man with secret art."
-Joseph Addison

I LOVE Music! But sadly, the musical GENE Skipped my Entire Generation; possibly my Whole Family Ancestry! But what I lack in Skill, I make up for in pure ADORATION! I'm oblivious about things like carrying a tune (let's just assume I can't/don't); but I still like to try. Off Key? Likely. Perfect Pitch? Not a Chance!

But I'm Savvy enough NOT to BELT out Tunes; at the very least I Know What I Don't Know (and in this case I don't know how to sing Melody, Harmony, Soprano, get the idea?!) Yes, I've learned to be Discreet. If I'm coerced into singing with an all member Relief Society Choir in church I've figured out how to Lip Synch right along so I don't spoil the Special Musical Number! Trust me, I harbor no Secret Aspirations to be an American Idol contestant!

But, Musicians need their Fan base and I am a Proud and Loyal Fan of GOOD Music (and even some of the cheesy, sappy stuff). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called Music "the Universal Language of Mankind" and Leo Tolstoy called it "the Shorthand of Emotion." It's hard to imagine a World Without Music! What an uninspired place that would be!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"The Case of the Missing Car Key!" & "What to Do If You Get Lost in the Woods!"

Paige, her friend Jill, and 3 boys went on an Adventure Trail Run in the backwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. After a LONG Run they return to Paige's car and discover her KEY has fallen out of her pocket during the run! So I receive a phone call from Paige's phone but it's Jill on the line who tells me about the Missing Key. I tell Jill not to worry; I'll get the spare and start the Trek towards Felton.

When I'm almost there I get another call from Paige's cell; again it's Jill, who seems a little nervous to tell me there is ONE OTHER LITTLE PROBLEM besides the lost key: they can't find Paige! Which I find a bit more concerning than the dumb key! Perspective! The lost key; who cares about that? Where is Paige?!

Apparently, they went off in different directions to look for the key but Paige never returned and it had been quite awhile. Since the top is off Paige's car, Jill was able to climb in the back without a key and retrieve Paige's cell and phone me (smart girl that she is!) and didn't alarm me at first hoping Paige would show up before I arrived with the spare key. When I was got close and Paige was STILL lost, Jill had to mention this Minor Detail but she handled it with diplomacy (even though I could tell she was worried). Long-story-short: Paige eventually makes it back before anyone had to call the Search & Rescue but she is pretty shaken up! Kudos to Jill for thinking clearly, calling me, and being a good friend!

So, I think it's appropriate to give a Few Tips that I learned about CHILD SURVIVAL if you get lost in the woods. I think most Adults will feel like a kid if they get lost so the advice below is probably universal: 1. Nobody likes being scared or frightened. 2. Help yourself keep calm by singing, whistling, or even telling yourself jokes or stories. Try using your imagination to pretend you are somewhere else that you really enjoy. 3. You usually do not have to worry about wild animals. They do not like to be near people and if they hear or smell you, they will usually run away. ....Well, the list goes on and reminds kids that they won't be in trouble for getting lost; their parents will be happy to see them and there are Friendly Strangers (police officers, fire fighters etc.) who will help them.

So, Take Heed and Happy (and Safe) Trails to All!