Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Daily Standard...

The poet William Stafford was asked by an interviewer about his habit of writing a poem every day. He told the person that yes - he started the poem in the morning before the kids got up, then he put it down while he made them breakfast, then he might work on it after the kids went to school and put it down for lunch and so on until by the end of the day it was done.

The interviewer, incredulous that anyone could write a poem every day asked Mr. Stafford, "How do you do it? How can you be inspired every day to write a poem?"

Mt Stafford replied, "I lower my standards.”

I suppose the same is true in context with adding a daily blog post. Forget inspiration, some days are just going to be haphazard entries!

I don’t write every single day, but I do get something down most down days. Mostly because I’m a creature of habit (some good ones, others bad). But daily means that lots of the time my writing won’t be eloquent or clever or polished. More often than not I have to lower my standard (how do you lower non excellence?) and I’m certainly not even attempting to be poetic. So, my hat is off to William Stafford, I can barely pull off prose day by day. I can’t even imagine waxing poetic on a daily schedule!

Stafford, whose poetry is often compared to that of Robert Frost, composed over 22,000 poems in his life. On the day he died of a sudden heart attack in 1993, his family found a poem he had been writing that day that contained the following lines:
“You don’t have to
prove anything,” my mother said. ‘Just be ready
for what God sends.’”

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A blight, a gloom, I know not what....

A Mood by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

A blight, a gloom, I know not what, has crept upon my gladness - -
Some vague, remote ancestral touch of sorrow, or of madness;
A fear that is not fear, a pain that has not pain’s insistence;
A sense of longing, or of loss, in some foregone existence;
A subtle hurt that never pen has writ nor tongue has spoken - -
Such hurt perchance as Nature feels when a blossomed bough is broken.

I’m not depressed, I just think this poem is well done. Very descriptive!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Get Over It...

“If you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” -Maya Angelou

Since Liz Walton is one of the kindest people on the planet, my ears perk up if Liz says anything with an edge or bite to it. Just like I notice sarcasm more when spoken by someone who doesn’t wallow in it.

So, I particularly liked some of Liz’s comments at the youth fireside Sunday night about working with young missionaries. Liz didn’t have a lot of sympathy for elders who whined about how strange and different things were in Portugal. Liz used both of the phrases “get over it” and “it’s not about you” to refer to her feelings about complainers.

Since missions are almost a little microcosm of life itself, I think there is a great message in these two maxims. In fact, they are probably apropos relative to many things we whine about in life generally. I can think of many occasions that these quips were exactly what I needed to hear for a good old reality check.

It’s easy for any of us to feel put out or bothered when things don’t go our way or when change disrupts life as we’ve come to know it. But getting angry when things aren’t fair or plans don’t conform to our wishes is at the heart of the center-of-the universe syndrome. The sooner I can catch myself and remember that it isn’t all about me, the better!

“Get mad. Then get over it.” -Colin Powell

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What part of “fine” don’t you understand?

“We are getting into semantics again. If we use words, there is a very grave danger they will be misinterpreted.” -H. R. Halderman

Oh, semantics! After my post yesterday about feeling less than thrilled after being told I’m competent, I received a text from Andie who said it reminded her of when she asks me how she looks and my reply is “fine.”

Andie and I have disagreed for years about how to interpret “fine.” Andie views “fine” as substandard, okay, just barely passing, whereas I only respond with “fine” if everything is a-okay (big difference between okay and a-okay in my book if that makes sense), looks good, no-issues, it’s-a-go fine.

So, when Andie wants outfit approval and asks me how she looks, if I say “fine” Andie might shrug, go back to her closet and start over. But I really mean, it looks fine, head out and have a good time!

The “fine” dilemma isn’t entirely over attire either. Andie might ask me what I think of a new guy she brings over or new cookie model she bakes. I guess if I am thinking “fine,” I need to learn more effusive language to get a more positive message across. Although with Andie now headquartered in Menlo Park, we’ve had fewer debates over implicit meanings of the word “fine.”

In a somewhat related topic, Anitabanita, who is practically my only non-family blog reader (wait, that’s not completely accurate since first of all, Anita IS family and secondly, occasionally Anna and Vicki might glance at the blog too, but I digress) ...anyway, Anita gave me some encouraging info on competence. Apparently, competent, comes from the Latin root competere, which is also the root for competition. In order to be competitive, one needs to be extremely competent. Whew! Good news all around!

So, yes after Anita’s reassuring email, I am feeling just “fine” about being “competent.” :)

“Whatever you say it is, it isn’t.” -Alfred Korzybski

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Alas, A Competent Person?

Our new home teachers, a married couple, are impressive; they haven’t missed visiting in their 3 month stint, they dutifully bring a message and they’re careful not to stay too long.

Since they are new to Los Gatos it’s been delightful to get to know them and since the husband has been a bishop and a stake president before moving to our ward he provides a good sounding board for Brent and someone to bounce ideas off.

But I’m a little perplexed by a comment they made during their visit on Sunday. I was told that after close observation they’ve decided that I am a very......(drumroll please).....competent person. Competent?

I’m not quite sure how to take this. Is this how I’m perceived by others? If people happen to think about me, I know, that's a little egotistical to imagine, but if they did, would they think “that K2, she is one competent person?” If so, I’m not sure I’d feel complimented.

I’m sure they didn’t mean it negatively (they’re genuinely good-hearted) but I guess I see competency differently than they do. I view competency as adequacy; like being “competent” at “x” or “y" means you’ve reached a certain level but you aren’t “great” at “x” or “y.” So, after their close observation, I was been pegged as competent, which feels a little more like a platitude than a remark I’d love to hear about myself. Oh, well!

But, they’re very nice home teachers (and people) so I really should give them the benefit of my doubt and assume they meant my competence in a positive way. After all, if it was a diss, it’s not likely they’d mention it. I guess it’s just after the build up of how closely they’d been observing me, I thought just maybe they’d come up with an adjective a little more charming than competent. So that was a tad disheartening. But, and not to sound facetious, I will say that they are very competent home teachers (and I mean that in their interpretation of the word)!

“Obscurity and competence - that is the life that is best worth living.” -Mark Twain

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Whelping Process...

“We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” -Paulo Coelho

Yesterday brought an unexpected surprise. A “right place at the right time” moment. A morning run with Jen started late (which is unusual), then we ran back to her house (which is unusual), and her neighbor’s dog was giving birth (which is quite unusual).

So everything was off by a bit but aligned perfectly so that I was on Stacia Drive at the moment this cute brittany spaniel was delivering her litter of six whelps. And I called Paige to come quick and observe the miracle of birth.

Jen and I arrived just after the third puppy made his debut after which the bitch (correct terminology for the pregnant female dog and that’s what they were calling her) took a little time in between (which gave Paige time to join our fairly large stream of spectators - poor dog!) The woman, who had assisted with multiple dogs giving birth, kept the eager kids somewhat subdued and we waited for number four.

A dog makes labor and delivery look relatively simple. Their natural instincts kick in and the dog can pretty much do everything without assistance. It’s incredible to watch how they push out a tiny puppy, chew apart the cord, lick the membrane clean until the new puppy wiggles about. Then the pup latches on to a nipple and starts sucking while the mom prepares to do it all again.

A newborn puppy isn’t quite as amazing as a newborn baby but it’s still fascinating to see. It’s definitely a memorable occurrence; a process I’d never viewed before. In fact, the last birth I watched (well, attended) was the delivery of Paige (which was all quite smooth for a baby, but unlike a dog, I did require some assistance - though minimal). So, it appears that female dogs are truly a little more independent than women (or at least me)!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thoughts as Thick as Fireflies...

Some People by Rachel Field

Isn’t it strange some people make
You feel so tired inside,
Your thoughts begin to shrivel up
Like leaves all brown and dried!

But when you’re with some other ones,
It’s stranger still to find
Your thoughts as thick as fireflies
All shiny in your mind.

I like this poem; it’s spot-on. Some people nearly always inspire me while others are completely draining to be around.

Obviously I prefer the company of those whose presence is welcome, encouraged, and engaging. And, of course, I don’t enjoy being around the ornery, the cantankerous or those who suck the air right out of the room.

But I can’t help be wonder/worry: Which type of “some people” am I? And, the answer is: probably both. It’s likely that I’m exhausting to some and invigorating to others.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Dog’s Best Friend...

“Every boy should have two things: a dog, and a mother willing to let him have one.” -Anonymous

Webb just barely had the second of those two important things! And today is the birthday of our boy who loves dogs!

I could put up an entire collage of pictures with Webb petting dogs in Russia on his mission, in Europe on study abroad programs or in the US on vacations. There seems to be a magnetic quality that pulls Webb and dogs together all over the globe. The pup in the photo is an island dog, on our holiday trip to the B.V. I.

Both Torrey and Kona, our 2 family dogs, were loved by every family member (it took some time in my case) but Webb clearly showed the most interest in both.

I can’t take credit for nurturing Webb’s puppy love. It came innate with his personality while I had to learn to tolerate the whole “family dog” proposition. Brent and the kids lobbied for getting Torrey, despite my protests. And I have to concede that Torrey was a winner. Eventually anyway; after we put up with her youthful labrador shenanigans.

Kona, of course, became the replacement dog you have to provide when kids lose their beloved pet. Then Kona went on to live twelve good years with Webb as her most ardent champion when the rest of us tired of Kona’s antics of roaming Los Gatos.

But back to the birthday boy and a quick story relative to dogs. Perhaps this was Webb’s first brush with a celebrity and it was definitely Kona’s first and only celebrity encounter. One night Brent and I spotted Dustin Hoffman and his wife walking in town and they headed into the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Co. to hear a jazz band gig. We high tailed it home to tell the kids who wanted to go back and gawk themselves.

Because Kona was just a pup, Webb didn’t want to leave her so he carried Kona along, only to find out his pet wasn’t welcome inside the coffee shop. So Webb sat outside the window while the girls went inside to spot Dustin Hoffman. While they were looking for the famous actor, Dustin Hoffman noticed Kona in Webb’s arms, wandered outside and started asking Webb about his puppy (breed? age? name? etc.).

So Dustin Hoffman is a dog lover too. And Webb is our dog loving birthday boy! Ernie, Webb’s 1 year old beagle, is very lucky dog to have an owner who has historically been a dog’s best friend to dogs all over the world! Happy Birthday to Webb, friend to dogs everywhere!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Motion (sickness that is)

Lately I’m generally driving the car instead of riding as a passenger so it’s been a long time since I've dealt with motion sickness. So long, in fact, I thought I might have outgrown the syndrome.

The last time my ailment was a problem was riding home from girl’s camp in Anita’s BMW over ten years ago. Anita and Teresa Richardson were in the front seat and I was in the back getting more nauseous at every turn but trying my darnedest to hold it together. Finally, I had to have Anita pull over and I promptly lost my dinner in the gutter (but saved the car, whew!). And the time before that was my infamous (to the whole family) grand exit from Space Mountain at Disneyland where I lost my lunch in the nearest trash can.

Apparently, a car (or amusement ride) on a winding trajectory stills wreak havoc on my sensitive stomach. On Thursday we filled Brian Kingsbury’s car with people and props for girl’s camp and headed for the mountains. Halfway up the shortcut way (translated: trading distance for winding roads) I started to feel beads of sweat and soon the queasiness set in. By our arrival at camp my t shirt was completely drenched but the nausea passed quickly. Or, at least until the drive home. During that stretch Paige was in the middle seat and covered for my predicament by keeping the friendly chatter going so no one realized I was on the verge of vomiting in Paige’s lululemon bag.

I guess if I get butterflies from swing sets I’m not likely going to ever outgrow my propensity for motion sickness. Clearly I have a sensitive stomach! Clearly I will not be a passenger in another car going to girl’s camp for a long time. It’s only behind the wheel for me in winding road car trips, although I’d still like to see if I can conquer Space Mountain on our next visit to the happiest place on earth!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Talent Night at Camp Ladasa...

Ah, girl’s camp! The last couple of years I have only gone to Camp Ladasa on skit day (I know, I’m a been-there, done-that slacker). I’ve probably gone a dozen times over the years but I do prefer my dirt in smaller doses.

So it’s nice to see a new crew of leaders at the helm. Now I’m purely a spectator, cheering on the bishoprics, stake presidency and young women who perform for the Camp Ladasa Talent (defined loosely) Night.

The girls who sign up to do a number aren’t always the most talented but they are usually the girls who look forward to girl’s camp all year, and adore every minute once they arrive. In other words, probably not my daughters (guess the apple didn’t fall far).

The men who perform are enlisted and are not the most talented either but they’re the good sports of the stake, the go-to guys, the kind of men who will drive the 2 hour round trip and potentially embarrass themselves in public simply because it comes with the calling. They are men who agree to serve in a bishopric/stake presidency even though it means mandatory skits at girl’s camp is part of the job (bless their hearts!).

Actually there is some latent talent in both camps (the girls & the men). For instance, I had no idea Ryan Lucas had such a great voice. There are always a few surprises we learn about in the mountains.

But for the most part Camp Ladasa Talent Night is probably akin to most. Every year there’s at least one (pray for only one!) skit that never ends. Every year has a skit that no one can hear and usually a skit you can hear but are still clueless to make sense of.

Talent night is fun and lighthearted but followed up the next night by a girl’s camp testimony meeting. And, while you have an occasional “friend”imony or all-about-me-amony, for the most part, the testimony meeting is tender and sweet and means a lot to the young campers. After a week together the campers have bonded with each other, their leaders, and hopefully developed a better relationship with the Savior as well. After all, it’s hard to beat a gorgeous setting in the mountains to showcase talents and heighten testimonies too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Nature of Things...

Mosquito is out,
it’s the end of the day;
she’s humming and hunting
her evening away.
Who knows why such hunger
arrives on such wings
at sundown? I guess
it’s the nature of things.

Midsummer Night Itch by N. M. Bodecker

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ward Families...

“The Lord does notice us, and he watches us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.” - President Spencer W. Kimball

Aside from religion there is definitely a community that comes from interaction in church. All churches offer it to some extent; our ward families are pretty spectacular at providing it. We are probably good at it, in part, because we’re a lay ministry. Since members hold callings and pretty much run organizations within a ward, we’ve honed a few service skills along the way.

In any given week there are countless examples of the nurturing each other that are a direct result of our church community.

Last week Brother Wardle spoke in Sacrament meeting and gave some details on a heart attack he’d suffered a few months ago. During his hospital stay the staff thought he must be a celebrity because he had so many visitors. His Bishop came, President Hodgman came, and a constant flow of visitors from his ward came. His popularity as a patient had some of the nurses convinced he was famous. But honestly, Brother Wardle is really just blessed to have a ward family.

Our ward has helped several young families move in recently and we’ve even helped a few leaving (though Brent prefers those arriving versus departing!). Our Elder’s quorum can load vans like professional movers.

Our ward family helped a young mom with rides after a seizure didn’t allowed her to drive for several months. Last week an older woman (how about 93 years old!) had health troubles and with one phone call her son had numerous ward members attending to her. And this week at our young women’s camp in the Santa Cruz mountains, leaders donate their entire week to be with teenage girls.

These things happen all the time, people rally, pitch in, and life goes on. Or, if it doesn’t (ie. death), the church community assists with funerals too! :)

Our ward sisters enjoyed our our annual garden brunch last Saturday and although it’s purely a social event, many hands make it happen (men set up tables and chairs, women bringing food, etc.).

So, whether it’s service or social, a birth or a death, moving in or out, sickness or injury, our church is stellar in it’s ability to mobilizes forces. So, yes, besides worship, it’s one of the things I love about church, the focus on serving each other. Which, if I think about it, service really is just another form of worship itself!

"Teenagers who do not to to church are adored by God, but they don’t get to meet some of the people who love God back.” -Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them...

“By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them.” -Matthew 7:20

Some women have big hearts and I’m grateful they teach me to be better and kinder by their actions (ie. by their fruits or variation thereof). Two recent examples show how lucky I am to have friends and women to look up to.

First, last month I inherited a big watermelon bowl from Carol Williams. Carol is alive and kicking but she’s been sorting and purging “stuff”(downsizing). Once I commented on a darling watermelon bowl she’d brought to a church function. Since Carol knew I liked the bowl and furthermore, that I love watermelon, she decided the bowl would find a good home in my cupboard. Naturally, I’m honored to receive it, albeit a little embarrassed that I coveted her bowl to the point that she’s given it to me.

Then, at Vicki Hodgman’s impromptu BBQ on the weekend, I commented on her cool kitchen gadget that scoops the stems off strawberries. I’d never seen such an item. Since Vicki had two of them (she would), she generously offered one to me. But I felt a like a mooch to actually take it, particularly since we came empty handed and were fed a delicious dinner! But, the next day I found the funky tool after Vicki snuck it into my bag at church.

It seems that I am walking proof that sometimes when you tell nice people you like something, they will insist that you take ownership! Or perhaps I appear a little needy or pathetic. Actually, I’m just fortunate to have people in my life who are generous to a fault, parting of their own supplies, much to my benefit, both in substance but mostly in inspiration! Or, to quote an old country song: “Little things mean a lot!”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Andie’s Crowning Glory...

“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” -Louis Pasteur

Andie had a rough morning yesterday but her chain of events demonstrates one of Andie’s finest attributes (maybe even her “crowning glory,” which happens to be tenacity). So, a shout out to Andie with the following story:

Right before church Andie called with a little drama on her hands. A crown on her tooth not only came out but when she went to re-insert the crown it fell into her bathroom sink and slid right down the drain. And, since it was Sunday (of course!), her dental office wasn’t open for emergencies.

Because the missing crown created a less than desirable look, Andie was super frustrated! When she and I discussed her options over the phone, they seemed kind of bleak for the day ahead. Sure, Andie could (and should) go to church as well as a dinner she was invited to, but who feels social or like being seen in public with an unsightly gap in your smile. Furthermore, even visiting the dentist on Monday for a new crown looked inconvenient with her work schedule.

I felt her pain (really! Mom’s always do!) but there just wasn’t much I could do to make things better. But I did have empathy, I lost an expensive earring down a bathroom sink once. Anyway, I left for church, all the while feeling bad about Andie’s current plight which happened to fall at the end of a frustrating week generally for her (we all know how when it rains, it pours).

Well, during my Sacrament meeting a high councilman was speaking about recent miracles in his life and how we often think things that happen are fortuitous coincidences when they are really small miracles. And suddenly a text from Andie appears on my phone that her crown has been retrieved! A small miracle! Honestly!

Personally I believe Andie was blessed because despite her frustration and funny look, she did go to church after setting up a plumber who would call her when he could come and attempt a crown retrieval from the drain. When the plumber arrived, he was successful and just maybe it’s a direct result of Andie being where she was supposed to be (at church).

Now Andie doesn’t have to pay for another crown, the dentist can just repair it; a big monetary difference. Yes, I’m sure they’ll sanitize the crown first! Even better, Andie was able to return to church with the crown intact (albeit loose) and enjoy the rest of her day without an awkward smile.

And best of all, I think Andie may have learned something about herself. Initially she was kind of worked up (think near meltdown) about the lost crown. After it dropped in the drain she started down the pity this-is-bad-so-everything-else-is-bad-too party. But she caught herself, thought about her options, and then took action. And things worked out!

The lost crown was not earth shattering, mostly frustrating, but Andie has dealt with some bonafide tough events in her life. And, she rallies! I like to think of it as tenacious! Andie always hangs in there, in fact, tenacity just might be Andie’s crowning glory! And one of the coolest things about tenacity (as pointed out in the quote below), is sometimes tenacity is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and to keep going!

“Tenacity is a pretty fair substitute for bravery, and the best form of tenacity I know is expressed in a Danish fur trapper’s principle: 'The next mile is the only one a person really has to make.’” -Eric Sevareid

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And what is more generous than a window?

The Patience of Ordinary Things -by Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and fourssquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?
-from Another River, New and Selected Poems

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable...

"Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable." -Mary Oliver

Isn't having an open mind similar to Mary Oliver’s idea? Sometimes religious beliefs require enacting room in our hearts for the unimaginable.

While some might find that approach disingenuous, it has always worked for me. If I lived life purely on things my mind completely understood and were completely rational there are too many amazing and miraculous things that wouldn’t pass muster.

With room in my heart for the unimaginable I don’t have to pick things apart. I don’t need to deconstruct. I don’t have to question ad nauseam (guess I just blog ad nauseam). Personally, life is just too short. I prefer to find wonder in beautiful things, for example, this Mary Oliver quote!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Library Loot...

“Medicine for the soul.” -inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes

While the quote above is true, trips to the library can also be hazardous to my health! It seems I always return home with an eclectic assortment of new books to devour. And while I haven’t actually eaten any yet, I do get sidetracked by a stack of good reads which can wreak havoc on exercise or getting off my duff. Basically with an armload of books all I want to do is read 24/7.

The greatest part of checking out versus purchasing books is the ability to load up a bundle and then peruse which ones are worthy of a skim, which are a waste of my time, and which books are so great I want to own them personally.

This week my library book pile includes: a book about the brain, a book about relationships, a book about world religions, a fitness book, two works of fiction, and last, but not least, the autobiography “Open” by Andre Agassi (which was the reason I stopped by the library in the first place). Yes, just like the grocery store, you may enter for that one thing but exit with unplanned but irresistible loot.

So far, I like all the books I checked out this week. Which means I need to discipline myself to specific book time lest I crawl up in a corner chair refusing to do anything else but read. So many books, so little time! Well, I suppose I do have 3 weeks until their due date, but who wants to wait that long!

“He fed his spirit with the bread of books.” -Edwin Markham

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Staging Our Own Parade...

Los Gatos doesn’t officially host a parade on the 4th of July. However, this year we provided some entertainment for the locals while attempting to transport the Harmer’s fancy balloon arch from the church to our home.

Aiden Bryan, our passenger, thought we were half crazy and Becca Peterson was so amused she took this photo, sending it to me with the text: “my favorite part of the day. :)” But even Aiden and Becca would have to agree that the arch made a lovely decoration for Andie’s birthday/swim party.

Obviously the arch wouldn’t fit inside the car but Brent assumed if I drove slow enough that he and Aiden could each hold one end and keep the arch intact. A few naysayers wondered if the arch was too high to clear traffic lights and Aiden seemed a little nervous he might get electrocuted if the balloons touched a PG&E pole (poor guy was probably regretting not riding his bike home).

But, slowly (excruciatingly slowly) we made it safely home and the arch looked awesome for the rest of the day. The laborious transfer was worth the effort. Although I don’t recommend trying this at home (or again, or for more than a block, or without at least 3 adults).

I thought I should post Becca’s picture because for someone who doesn’t like to draw attention to myself, I certainly had plenty of heads turning to look at us the entire drive! But, I will say that after a few blocks, I relaxed, Aiden got into the spirit of the craziness, and we may have even attempted a few garish waves along our self-staged parade route!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

All About Options...

One of my favorite things about my darling friend, Linda Dunn, is her obsession with options. Her son, Brady, even wrote a funny tribute to Linda’s option expertise on her 50th birthday that described it perfectly.

Basically Linda always presents friends and family with options. We can do “a” or “b” or “c.” There is never just one route or one way with Linda nearby, there are always options. It may be that one option is mentioned with a biased or prejudicial slant, but still, Linda does give you options. It’s pretty much in her DNA.

So last weekend was never an exact and calculated plan. Oh no, we always had options! Linda is a gifted leader and just to make sure no one accuses her of taking charge (aka being the mom), she’s perfected the art of rattling off a few ideas (generally presented as options) just to make sure no one feels manipulated, boxed in or powerless.

I should have tallied the number of times we used the words “options” over the weekend because Linda’s example is contagious. After a few hours, all of us were discussing things in terms of options. Actually, it’s a pretty good skill to hone and I think I got some good practice.

Here’s one amusing but classic Linda option. She and I decided to run (with some walking too) the 15 mile Wasatch Crest Trail all the way to Millcreek Canyon at which point Linda was sure we’d have options to get a ride back up Big Cottonwood Canyon (Mike, Brady, a friendly hiker with a car, etc.). But when we finally made it to the Log Haven Restaurant in Millcreek and didn’t find hikers nor did our phones have cell service, Linda pointed out that another option would be to just keep going. I agreed. This option looked like our best strategy at that point (truthfully we were lacking any others but option oriented people don’t readily admit to that). I wondered aloud how much further "keep going” meant and Linda casually noted the additional mileage was just 10 more miles. 10 more miles! After going 15 already! Yes, thinking of 10 miles (after finishing 15) as no big deal is why Linda can compete in Ultra Distance running and why I can’t (I happen to think of marathons as a long haul).

Well, we soldiered on down the new trail at least half of the way and eventually did go with our earlier option to get a ride out of Millcreek canyon by hikers and further rescued by Mike at Einstein’s bagels. Quite frankly, Linda and her never ending supply of options is one of the things I dearly love about her. After all, I did end up with 20 plus miles under my belt and without Linda I would probably never attempt such exhilarating adventures. So, I’ve learned that when I have an option to spend time with Linda, that is always a great option!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Magic of Brighton...

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” -John Muir

There is something magical about Brighton, Utah. For me, it’s probably a lot about nostalgia but the beauty is a big part of the draw too.

In the winter, Brighton Ski Resort, is perfect for no frills skiing (a favorite for the locals) but due to my warm weather preference, it’s the summer months when I really adore the place.

We had a memorable weekend at Julie’s incredible cabin. “Das Alpen Haus” has to be the coolest place to stay in Big Cottonwood Canyon and we’re lucky Julie is so generous to host our girlfriend get togethers.

As far as hikes that lead to gorgeous destinations, Brighton can’t be beat. Lake Mary, Lake Martha and Lake Catherine are all relatively close to each other with quite spectacular views. This year we were shocked at how much snow remained on the trails. In fact, we were hiking with trax (think mini crampons) and the higher we climbed the trickier the snow terrain. Eventually our Friday goal of hiking from Brighton all the way to Alta was thwarted by too much snow. In July! It’s bizarre to still have snow on the trail in mid summer but Utah did have an unusual and never ending winter.

On Saturday, Linda and I did a run/walk down the 15 mile Wasatch Crest Trail (with some additional mileage at the bottom of Millcreek Canyon just to wear us out completely!) And, for an additional scare, Kim and Julie took a night hike on Saturday after hot tubbing and met up with a moose on the trail. Fortunately they made it back to the cabin without getting charged (no small feat)!

Brighton brings us together and time dissipates, suddenly we’re women in our 50’s who feel like teenagers. I guess that is a big part of the magic!

“You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.” -Lito Tejada-Flores

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dining at the Ocean View Restaurant...

The blog hiatus since last Thursday was due to a fun cabin vacation with my darling high school girlfriends.

So, in honor of meeting up with longtime friends, below is something Julie Glenn shared with us that might only be appreciated by those who’ve started the lovely aging process (and all that it entails)!

The Restaurant

A group of 40 year old girlfriends discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally it was agreed upon that they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the waiters there had tight pants and nice buns.

10 years later, at 50 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the food there was very good and the wine selection was good also.

10 years later, at 60 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because they could eat there in peace and quiet and the restaurant had a beautiful view of the ocean.

10 years later, at 70 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the restaurant was wheel chair accessible and they even had an elevator.

10 years later, at 80 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because they had never been there before.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Adventure Begins...

I’m off to the Utah Mountains for a hiking/biking girlfriend weekend. When Linda Dunn takes charge of our girls adventures, they are not for the faint of heart! Linda takes her sports and fitness seriously so it could be a grueling couple of days ahead. What were we thinking letting an ironman triathlete make the plans?

The emailed schedule, which keeps getting tweaked, could be daunting. I’m nervous that I’ll be the “weak link” in our group of five. This is one fit crew I’m traveling with. I know, you are probably wondering how I made the cut.

Our schedule says we are biking the Wasatch Crest Trail from Brighton to Millcreek tomorrow (see map). Make note of "Puke Hill,” purportedly a 2 mile stretch of unrelenting hills that climbs to an elevation of over 9000 feet. Gotta love that Utah altitude! If anyone loses their lunch along the Puke Hill stretch, I’d place a bet it will be the wimp from Nor Cal (aka K2)!

But despite my challenges athletically, how lucky I am to have friends who push me physically but more importantly, always stretch me to be better in other ways too. What a blessing it has been to have wonderful friends that go back to my childhood days!

“My friends are my estate.” -Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Boost of Encouragement...

“We should carry jumper and tow cables not only in our cars, but also in our hearts, by which we can send the needed boost or charge of encouragement or the added momentum to mortal neighbors.” -Neal Maxwell

Yesterday I could have used a set of jumper cables for the heart. Not for my heart, but someone who needed a boost. Instead I struggled coming up with helpful words of encouragement.

When I read the Neal Maxwell quote it sounds simple enough. And when everything is going swimmingly, it’s actually not so tough to jumpstart and give others a boost. But when I’m frustrated myself or even just busy, it’s a bigger challenge to muster up the energy and the inclination to be service oriented.

So, what sounds pretty basic can actually be tricky. And yesterday I was at a loss as to how to fix things. Maybe I need to learn that there are some things I can’t change or fix but I can still find ways to boost, encourage, and show compassion for others.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -Dalai Lama

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

William Wordsworth’s Spots of Time

"There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain,
A renovating virtue, whence, depressed
By false opinion and contentious thought,
Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse, our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired."
-William Wordsworth, from The Prelude

We can all create "spots of time" for others. Many times these are simple acts of kindness. Something that might seem insignificant to us can turn a life around. I’ve been the recipient of actions that touch me deeply yet the other person might not even be aware that their gesture or words had a huge impact on me.

In another poem Wordsworth called these acts of service as "the best portion of a good man's life.” I’m blessed by so many good men and good women; people I look up to and learn from. Or, as Wordsworth said, through their virtues my mind is nourished and invisibly repaired.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Showing Her Independence!

Andie is our 4th of July Birthday Girl! This year July brought a host of changes for the birthday girl. Namely a new place to live and a new livelihood. Both acquired independently of any help from parents!

First, the move. Andie’s old but charming diggs in Palo Alto were rented to a couple taking over the whole house, hence Andie had to find a new place. Fortunately some cute girls in her Stanford Ward were looking for a roommate replacement. Best of all, they live right in downtown Menlo Park. Lucky Andie, now she can walk to Kepler’s Bookstore (one of my favorites)!

In an amazing first, Andie moved all her stuff without recruiting us for slave labor. What a nice surprise! We showed up ready to pack and load and the work had been done! Even her bed, mattress, and furniture. Go Andie!

Next, the new job. Teaching at Sunnyvale Middle School was an improvement over last year’s East San Jose school but it still didn’t quite fit the bill for Andie’s expertise. Then Andie learned about a private school devoted entirely to autism and special education that sounded perfect. She interviewed and was offered positions at both school locations (Palo Alto and San Jose). Needless to say, the Palo Alto school feels like the best of all worlds. And best of all, her salary increases too! Good job landing a better job Andie!

So, in Dick and Jane style:
See Andie.
See Andie move.
See Andie get a new job.
Good work Andie.
Andie is happy.
Happy happy Andie.
Happy Birthday Andie!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The 4th coming 4th of July...

Growing up in Utah the 24th of July Pioneer Day celebration was as grand, if not more so, than the 4th of July. In fact, as a young kid I sometimes got the two holidays mixed up. But I knew they both signaled sparklers and fireworks! Woo hoo!

By junior high I’d figured out which day represented our nation’s independence and which was related to our state’s heritage of coming across the plains. And, I’d also figured out that we could buy fireworks on trips to our grandparents ranch near Jackson Hole, Wyoming that were illegal to purchase in Utah. So friends sent me with cash and orders for contraband firecrackers. My grandparents were amused but my parents weren’t thrilled about crossing the state line with delinquent children and our stash of fireworks. Thinking back and knowing my parents obedience to all laws of the land, it’s a marvel they let us waste money on illegal (not to mention dangerous) pyrotechnics.

It’s also an odd coincidence that my first two children both arrived on these two July holidays. Especially since they shared the same July 15th due date (but 2 years apart). Andie’s early arrival on the 4th is typical, never wanting to miss a celebration. Perhaps Webb’s 9 day delay was a little reluctance on his part, who wouldn’t be a tad nervous to join our raucous bunch! Ironically, no matter where we are on July 4th there is always pomp and circumstance (which Andie adores) while Webb has never lived in Utah so he doesn’t entirely understand the fuss about sharing his birth day with the Days of ’47 pioneer events.

For a slice of American trivia, did you know that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the 4th of July in 1826, fifty years after the adoption of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence? The country took their July 4th deaths as a sign of America’s divinity.

“We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.” -Robert J. McCracken

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fresh, Local, Seasonal Ingredients...

We finally dined at Chez Panisse! Actually I’ve been to the cafe with friends but this was our first time at the price fixe restaurant. If Chez Panisse had a mantra it would likely be: "Fresh, Local, and Seasonal Ingredients!”

Chef Alice Waters opened the unpretentious Berkeley restaurant in 1971. While checking local farms for ingredients with the best taste, Waters came upon organically grown produce and has been one of the biggest champions for organic food ever since.

One cook at the restaurant claims there has always been a joke with the staff that Alice thinks she invented food. And Chez Panisse does always fall in the top 50 of the World’s Best Restaurants.

The Chez Panisse Foundation has worked with the Berkeley School District to educate young people about food. Part of that foundation is The Edible Schoolyard, an organic garden maintained and used by Berkeley middle school students. Alice Waters has a vision to teach subjects like history, science and art through food. Her passion about organic food influenced 1st lady, Michelle Obama, to plant an organic garden at The White House.

Our dinner was excellent and best of all, it tasted fresh and heathy! The cuisine reminds me of Mallory Lake, our favorite organic culinary friend!

“Alice Waters is a visionary, a pioneer, ‘the mother of American cooking’ and ‘the most important figure in the culinary history of North America’, she is certainly one of the most influential figures in American cooking of the last 50 years.” -from the S. Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants Association

Friday, July 1, 2011

Slow & Steady......

"Actually, you can be bad at something . . . but if you love doing it, that will be enough." -August Boatwright in The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

I'm not a particularly fast runner. Okay, I’m actually slow. But the older I get, the more I’m okay with that. Like the quote above, loving it is enough.

There is nothing like a track workout to confirm my lack of sprinting genes. The Lululemon running group had a track workout Wednesday night at the high school. Most of the runners I’m ahead of in distance runs can easily sprint past me on the track. Sheesh!

I also find it hard to switch up my pace. If one lap is supposed to be a full push and the next a recovery lap, my laps don’t have the variance they probably should.

The bottom line is simply that track workouts are humbling for distance runners. Especially old (and way past their peak) distance runners. Just the same, I still love to run!

"It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop." -Confucious