Monday, March 30, 2009

You Can Go Home Again . . .

Sort of. (See the title of today's post above.) Over the weekend, as my husband and I traveled to yet another nephew's wedding, we decided to take the road less traveled and jaunt up to a tiny town called Roberts, Idaho, on our way to Menan, Idaho.

I had recently learned that a friend of mine has roots in this little village. As such I took the following picture, just for her:

If memory serves, I believe my friend worked in the office of this granary a few years ago, as a teen. I remember coming here years earlier as a child with my parents as we picked up interesting things like chicken feed. I wasn't sure this edifice would still be standing, but it is. So I took its picture, preserving a fond memory of the past that won't always exist.

On we drove to the east, to the 200+ acreage my paternal grandparents owned and attempted to farm many years ago. The old stucco house my grandfather built is gone, replaced by several large modern homes, part of the housing development this place has become:

The only portion of grandpa's land that looks the same is the east side of the property where you can still see the famed Menan Buttes (dead volcanoes, and the source of the lava rock that was used in numerous pioneer buildings in the area). The willows in the distance mark where the Snake River flows, something that cut through the property owned by my grandparents at one time.

We traveled across the river that separates Roberts from Menan and paused by the house my parents designed and had built on the 13 acres they were given by my grandfather. It was a beautiful buff brick home that my mother loved dearly. The past few times that we've driven by, a large semi truck has been parked directly in front by the current owners, which has caused us all dismay. Some things change forever, eh?

From the back, you can see the walk-out basement that my siblings and I thought was really neat. That door opened into the backyard which was planted into grass, and surrounded by lilacs and elm trees, the back planted in Russian Olives trees to provide a windbreak. Every one of those trees and shrubs survived, in part because of how my mother babied each one in this arid\alkaline soil.

West of our former home, across the road, lies the Snake River. As children, we were forbidden to cross that road by ourselves or go near the river. I was obedient to this edict most of the time, but there were moments when the river seemed to call to me. I would sit on a large rock and simply watch the water flow past. I found it calming, and to this day I find that I'm often in need of "water moments."

South of our former home, about a block away, lies an impressive-sized gravel pit. This is where I first learned how to ice skate, the December we all received ice skates as part of our Christmas. This gravel pit consists of several joined ponds of water, sub from the nearby Snake River. It was a great place to play in the water and on the ice during my formative years.

On we went with this journey down memory lane. We drove through the farms that make up most of the west side of Menan, then headed into nearby Lewisville, the place where my dad's maternal grandparents settled in the late 1800's. I attended first grade and a portion of second grade in Lewisville in the same black lava rock building that my grandmother once attended. (My first grade year was around 1967.) Here is a picture of all that is left of that school:

Those huge trees were great to play in. We often pretended they were houses during recess, allowing our imaginations to run wild.

Here is a shot of the house my great-grandfather, Thomas Clement, built for his family in the late 1800's in Lewisville. It is still standing and belongs to one of my distant cousins.

During my second grade year, we were moved into a brand new school called Midway Elementary. The old black rock building in Lewisville was torn down, because it was falling down around its ears. But Midway Elementary is still in existence and it seems to be in great shape:

Here is the LDS church my family attended during the time we lived in Menan:

And next door to this church house is the old lava rock building where I attended kindergarten:

All in all, it was a fun, but brief jaunt through a portion of my past. I took several pictures because I don't often get the chance to pass through this area. Every year, we journey to Lewisville to place flowers on my father's grave, but we're usually in such a hurry to make the annual loop into Wyoming, that I haven't taken much in the way of pictures of this location. I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to do just that this past weekend. And you'll be happy to know that we did make it in time for the wedding. Here is a picture of the happy couple:

We can't always go home again, and I have learned that home is where my family currently resides, wherever that may be. But it is fun sometimes to take a glimpse of the past and remember the good times that are a part of who we are.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

So the other night as my husband and I attended a community banquet at a local restaurant, we began swapping food tales with a nearby couple. This may come as a shock to some of you, but there are many of us who love good food. We love to sample, to create, and yes, even play with this fun element.

Since my husband and I do a bit of traveling, I thought it would be fun today to continue along the same vein as the other night and chat a little about foods we have discovered. Some items have been wonderful, others . . . well, I chalk those moments up to learning experiences. ;)

Among some of the most delightful food that we've enjoyed would be:

Drago's charbroiled oysters basted in a wonderful buttery garlic sauce. We experienced this delectable cuisine during our stay in New Orleans. Drago's Seafood Restaurant is located in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. I give this restaurant a huge five star rating.

While we're on the subject of "N'awlins," there are a couple of other food items I have to share. Muffelatta. Say it with me now. =) This is what it looks like:

This is a wonderful sandwich that originated in New Orleans. Made with Sicilian bread and stuffed with layers of meat, cheeses, olives, and filled with special seasonings, this is a treat for both the eyes, and the stomach. ;)

And I have to share the wonderment of the pralines, delicious pecan candies found in New Orleans. A caramelized coating makes this a mouth-watering treat. I'm giving you a link here if you ever want to order these and sample for yourself just how good they are. And here's a recipe if you want to make them yourself: Pralines.

Speaking of Brazilian delights . . . okay, we weren't but if we had been, I would recommend this Salt Lake City restaurant: Rodizio Grill. Especially for lunch. Not only are the prices better, but the food seems a bit more fresh. My second son served a mission to Brazil and he came home with a couple of favorite recipes, including one for the ever popular Brazilian beans and rice:

With just the right combination of spices, this can be a glorious dish for any dinner.

We've spent a bit of time along the coast in California and Oregon. While there we have loved sampling the fresh seafood. Menu delights like steamed shrimp served in a buttery garlic sauce:

Or fresh scallops grilled to perfection:

We learned something during one of our trips. This was a few years ago and we had taken our sons to Sea World in San Diego. While in that glorious city, we partook of numerous seafood delights. We left San Diego and journeyed to Las Vegas (I had a couple of booksignings in that location.) While in Las Vegas, we sampled the seafood in one of the famed buffets, and it tasted like chicken. What difference fresh seafood makes to the discerning pallet. It was a couple of weeks after we returned home that the frozen seafood we could purchase at a local store even began to taste like it was from the sea. ;)

Other tasty treats we've savored along the way would include delicious, homemade Italian cuisine we sampled while in St. Louis. I'll never be able to share how to get this family-owned restaurant, but I can say that this was some of the best Italian food I had ever sampled in my life.

I've also enjoyed one of the best steak fajitas ever in a little sidewalk cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

As you've probably guessed by now, I love most foods. In fact, I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. Here are a couple of items I mentioned recently that I really didn't care for:

Deep-fried blue crabs . . . and I normally love crab . . . just not this soft-shell variety. It reminded me of eating a giant spider.

Nor did I care for the side dish to the deep-fried blue crab . . . sweet potato fries. They just taste too sweet for me, and since I've never been a fan of yams or sweet potato dishes, this is not a favorite:

Nor do I care for liver, but that is a story for another day. Now that I've made us all hungry, feel free to share some of your favorite foods or restaurants. What do you love to eat?

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Grumble, grumble, complain some more . . .

Sorry I didn't get anything posted yesterday. I came down to Utah for a couple of doctor appointments. yay . . . ;) Actually, I know this kind of thing is important and good for me, but it usually turns into quite the adventure. Yesterday was no exception to this strange rule.

My first appointment was at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning. Since it is still quite wintry in our neck of the woods, and yet another winter storm was predicted, we (my oldest son and I) drove down a couple of days early. He was off for two days and needed a break, so he came with me to Utah land. Kennon had to work, so he kept the home fires burning. I have family in the Clinton area and we usually stay with them. This gives us a chance to visit, hangout, and have a right good time, softening the true reason behind our Utah jaunt.

I tried to leave my sister's abode at 8:00 a.m. to give myself plenty of time to make my appointment, which on a good day with light traffic, takes only about 15 minutes to travel. Naturally, it snowed quite heavily during the night\early morning hours, so my car was covered in about 3 inches of snow.

Here's where I made a huge mistake. I figured I would start the car and let it warm up while I cleaned off the snow. So I opened the door on the driver's side, started the engine, then thinking I could just use the window wipers to erase the snow off my windshield, I turned the button to activate this process. This proved to be a very bad idea as I was still standing outside the car, reaching in to activate the wipers . . . with the door open. I'll let your imagination fill in what happened next. Yeah . . . I totally filled the inside of my car with snow. I'm gifted like that. So instead of saving the time I had envisioned, I had to spend extra time scooping out the snow that had fallen on the seat, the floor, all over the inside of the door, etc. I was not amused.
Instead of leaving at 8:00 a.m., I left closer to 8:10 a.m. But I figured all would be well, and I hastened on my way.

Since my sister's house is rather close to a set of railroad tracks, I always manage to time things so that I have to sit and wait for a train to pass by before venturing forth. Yesterday was no exception. This took up another five minutes. Thankfully, after that I made good progress until I was about halfway down Riverdale Road. Then behold, a parade of semi-trucks were in the lane ahead of me. I figured they would continue on as I turned up a road that led to McKay-Dee Hospital. Wrong. They turned right in front of me, on the road I needed. This meant I had to follow them all the way to where I turned off at the hospital. Envision crawling along at a snail's pace. This did not help my quandary.

That early in the morning, it's not hard to find a good place to park. This factor saved me. I was only about five minutes late for my first appointment. The first doctor I was seeing that day was my rheumatologist. We'll call him Dr. Speedo. (This is a long story I may share someday.) Dr. Speedo should be renamed: Dr. Takes-His-Sweet-Time. So even though I hurried as best I could, I still had to wait nearly 45 minutes before seeing the good doctor. This concerned me in part because my next appointment was scheduled for 9:45 a.m. I had thought I had left more than enough time for this to work.

When it approached 9:15 a.m. and I was still sitting in the aptly named room, "waiting," I was getting a little nervous. But about then, the nurse called me back and all was well. Sort of.
Since I have a form of rheumatoid arthritis, it's important to stay on top of things so I don't end up looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

At the moment, our insurance dictates which doctors I can and cannot see, so I'm no longer seeing the doctor who initially diagnosed me with this condition. Have you ever noticed that doctors rarely believe each other? When I switched to the dude I'm now seeing for my arthritis, he refused to believe anything my other doctor sent inside a nice file for his (and my) benefit. So he runs his owns tests, comes up with his own version of what's wrong, etc. Good times.
Yesterday, Dr. Speedo\Takes-His-Sweet-Time, decided to run a plethora of tests to discover why my fingers are curving slightly. (DUH!!!)

Here's the really interesting part of our current insurance plan: not only do they pick which doctors I can see, they also are extremely picky about where any and all lab tests take place. To them, it makes perfect sense to allow me to see the doctors associated with one hospital, but to only allow lab tests to be run across town at the other hospital. Go figure. If we don't follow this guideline, then we have to pay the entire cost of the tests run. Nice.

Long story short, I did make it to my second appointment on time . . . barely. And I got my patty spanked a bit. Let's just say my diabetic specialist wasn't terribly amused over my slightly elevated average blood sugar level. (I got a gold star three months ago . . . sigh) In my defense, during the winter months my arthritis acts up a bit. This causes higher blood sugar moments. C'est la vie.

After surviving appointment number two, I then had to drive across town to the Ogden Regional Hospital and wait yet again for all of the tests Dr. Speedo\Takes-His-Sweet-Time wanted. Seven vials of blood, a complete urinalysis, and a series of x-rays later . . . I was finally done. Whew. Because of how long everything took, I had to reschedule a luncheon date with a good friend who lives in this area. But it all worked out, even if I still possess a nifty bruise on my arm from the nice phlebotomist\vampire people. ;)

I barely returned back to my sister's abode in time to help throw dinner together for the rest of our family who were coming by for a combined FHE moment. So I didn't get a blog written yesterday. My bad. ;) These are the kind of moments when it's important to be flexible, story of my life lately. I'm sure you can all relate. We live during crazy times when life continues to pick up speed, and throw us all curve balls when we least expect it. Sometimes all we can do is force a smile, be a sport, and clean the snow out of our cars. =D

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring has Sprung . . .

Or so they tell me. At the moment, it is warmer than we've seen in recent weeks (50 degrees) so maybe what I'm seeing in both my front yard, and the back yard will melt. I am quite certain that this event would not hurt my feelings . . . at all.

This is the lovely view from my front porch today.

And this is the delightful view of my backyard this morning. Very inspirational.

As you can see, though today is traditionally celebrated as the first day of spring in our culture, here in the boonies, also known as Bear Lake Valley, we're still in the midst of wintry moments. (Heavy sigh!)

Don't get me wrong, I like winter. I enjoy all four seasons. It just seems like here in our realm we only have two: Winter . . . summer about July, and back to winter in October. Sometimes our climate skips over important items like say, spring or fall. This makes it quite a challenge to grow things like flowers, gardens, etc. An interesting twist: any and all weeds thrive under these conditions. Go figure.

Still, our summers are beautiful, even if they only last two months. During that time, the sun shines brightly, the birds break forth into song, and if we're really lucky, important things like huckleberries flourish in the mountain tops. It's seldom too hot, also a bonus. That's why people enjoy spending their vacations in a place like Bear Lake.

So here we are today, celebrating spring as best we can in our location. According to the handy reference, Wikipedia, "Spring heralds the transition from winter into spring." Ahh. I think our valley doesn't understand this concept. ;)

When one thinks of spring, one envisions green grass, flowers blooming, colorful birds flying past in an endearing fashion (aside from that flock last week that left a nice token on the bay window in the living room) and baby animals. In our mountain valley, we see most of these items about July. So you can understand our lack of enthusiasm for today's celebration. We really try to be sports about the whole thing, but I'm just sayin' . . .

Years ago I learned a little poem. I'm sure it was during my formative years when I could still memorize with relative ease. It went something like this:

Spring has sprung
The grass has ris'
I wonder where
The flowers is.

In trying to find the original author of this poem, I found yet another version today:

Spring has sprung
The grass has ris'
I wonder where
The birdie is?

There he is
Up in the sky
He dropped some "white-wash"
In my eye.

I'm not a sissy,
I won't cry,
I'm just very glad
That cows can't fly.

Now I have shared two poems and I still have no idea who the original author is of either one. So I will compose my own version:

Spring has sprung
Or so they say
Here it's another
Winter day.

Flowers aren't blooming
Snow lies on the ground
Whoever thought today was spring
Isn't really very sound.

Along about June, or perhaps July
We might see the sun up in the sky
The grass might be green, the flowers in bloom
Until then keep me in a padded room.

Cheri J. Crane
March 20, 2009

Happy spring out there. And if any of you would like to share what you're doing today to celebrate, feel free to comment. As for myself, I think I'll build yet another snowman. ;)

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Choose to Dance

Our family experienced a fun celebration over the weekend. A nephew, on my husband's side of the family tree, married the love of his life and we all gathered to wish them well. And a good time was had by all. This event gave everyone a chance to relax, let their hair down, and have a really good time. It was a much needed break for everyone involved.

There was a live band that played classic hits to keep things festive:

Yummy refreshments in the form of cheesecake. (Need I say more?)

A good-sized crowd bearing gifts:

Not to mention the happy couple, who were really tired of having their picture taken by this point in the evening, but were trying to be good sports about that anyway. ;)

We laughed, visited, partook of delicious refreshments, and some of us tried to dance. In short, we had a really good time, and we even posed for a picture or two ourselves:

(Kennon's siblings and mother)

You would never guess from looking at these pictures that this family suffered a tragic loss nearly a year ago. Kennon's oldest brother passed away last April, but this family has survived and is currently flourishing. This doesn't mean we all are trial-free at the moment. Each family has had its shares of ups and downs during this past year. As with most who dwell in our nation, the economy has taken its toll. There have been health glitches in every family, and other challenging moments to deal with. But I suspect it's a good sign that we can all still find reasons to smile.

I believe that's how we're going to survive this troubled time in our nation. We need to smile, laugh, and not dwell on the icky stuff that comes our way. This is not always an easy thing, but I have found in my own life that laughter is truly the best medicine when life goes awry. Allowing ourselves to become discouraged is asking for trouble, something none of us need.

So whether or not the music is playing, choose to dance. Pick yourselves up and dust yourselves off when life flings you across the room, and smile. Find a reason to laugh, and soon you will discover that you don't need a reason to laugh. Laughing out loud dispels dark thoughts. And recently I heard this following phrase: "Faith and fear cannot dwell inside the same heart and mind." This means that faith dispels fear. Only the adversary would have us exist inside a darkened state of mind filled with doubting fear. It is our Father's hope that we will all learn to seek the joy in life, and to remain grateful for our blessings, even when bad things happen.

Look around today and see if you can't find a reason to smile\laugh. I can promise that once you start laughing, darkened thoughts will evaporate. And to my way of thinking, that's a better way to live. Choose to dance, to sing, to smile . . . or in other words, choose to live.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jackson, Wyoming

(Hidden Falls)

I think it's important to have a fun escape location, one that's fairly close, but far enough away that it is an escape. ;) There are a few places like this that I love to visit, and as you may have guessed by now, Jackson, Wyoming is one such area.

I remember going to Jackson as a kid. It always seemed like a great adventure. Not only did our family possess the same name (my maiden name is Jackson) but there was so much to see and do. We would ride a boat across nearby Jenny Lake and enjoy hiking up the mountain side to see Hidden Falls or if you were really adventurous, hiking further up the trail to the impressive Inspiration Point. The view from this lookout is gorgeous. And depending on the time of year you embark upon this adventure, huckleberries line the trail, a tasty snack as you hike.

One year as our family made this climb, one of my younger sisters found a small huckleberry patch and made the most out of eating every berry in sight. A couple of tourists walked along the trail and totally freaked.

"Little girl, you are not supposed to eat berries in the forest!" one of them exclaimed.

My sister gave them both a disgusted look and said: "Lady, these are huckleberries." Turning, she consumed another handful. =) My mother then made an appearance; she had walked back down the trail to find my sister when she realized Heather was missing . . . again. She assured the troubled tourists that all was well, and encouraged them to sample the delicious purple berries for themselves. Fun memories of a most excellent day. ;)

I remember staying one year at the Colter Bay Lodge at Jackson Lake and absolutely loving it. Our family stayed in a rustic cabin and we all enjoyed this great adventure. It was like reliving the wild west, or so I thought at that tender age. =D

During another adventure, my family thought it would be great fun to ride the tram in Teton Village. I've always been plagued by a lovely fear of heights. One of my earliest memories is riding a tall Ferris wheel with one of my uncles when I was about three and screaming in an endearing fashion. ;) Since that time, heights have not been my friend. But I bravely went along with my family the day we rode the tram. I'm ashamed to admit I spent most of that trip huddling on the floor so I couldn't see how high up we were. Not one of my stellar moments, but I understand the view if one had looked, was spectacular. =D

In the years that followed, Jackson has been a fun place to visit. The town itself has so many things to see and do. Filled with fun shops that cater to tourists, you could spend a couple of days just browsing in all of them. There are also fun art galleries, a nifty bookstore, and great places to eat.

For several years, my husband served as an EMT here in Bear Lake. This is a volunteer organization in our community, but one of the perks was the annual EMT conference held in Jackson, Wyoming. My husband and I looked forward to it each year. After sticking someone with our kids, (we called this quality bonding moments with the grandparents, aunts, etc.) we would leave for 2-3 days to thoroughly enjoy ourselves in this vacation hot spot. While my husband dutifully attended his classes each day, I would wander the shops with some of the other wives who were also there for this same conference. Since these conferences usually took place during the winter months, the fun shops weren't crowded and we could window shop to our hearts' content.

One year we ladies entered a store filled with expensive fur coats. Everything in that store was way out of our price range, but we had fun trying them on anyway and modeling for each other. ;) Then we'd find a candy store, or an ice cream parlor and enjoy a tasty treat as we continued to explore. At night, we would rejoin our husbands and savor a wonderful meal at one of the local restaurants. Our selections ranged from delicious Mexican food, to Chinese, to BBQ, depending on everyone's current mood. The important thing was, a good time was had by all.

We've taken our sons to Jackson quite often through the years. They've always enjoyed places like the famed Jackson Fish Hatchery, seeing the Elk Refuge, or buying treasures at the Jackson Visitors' Center.

They've also enjoyed seeing or experiencing everything I listed earlier. In Jackson, there is always something to go do or see. Not only does this scenic mountain village offer great photo opportunities, but it also provides lots of cultural events like free concerts, mountain man rendezvous, historical re-enactments, and art fairs, depending on the time of year.

During the winter months, snowmobile races are a hot attraction, or so my husband tells me. =) Basically, one watches as brave snowmobilers attempt to climb one of the local ski hills. Good times. ;)

If you feel adventurous, there are helicopter tours, river rafting adventures, skiing, and snowmobile tours, depending on the time of year. There are also a plethora (this means a lot) of fun campsites all around this area.

Myself, I enjoy Jackson for a variety of reasons. Since I'm a little bit of a shutter-bug (okay, I take my camera everywhere, always waiting for a fine photo moment) I love going to Jackson to capture the scenic beauty. We usually drive through Snake River Canyon to get to Jackson and it is always gorgeous, no matter what time of year you see it.

I also enjoy trying the different kinds of food available in Jackson. I mean, how often do you get a chance to enjoy a tasty buffalo burger? ;)

I also enjoy Jackson Town Square with my husband, enjoying the sights, sounds, and fun shops at night. To me, this is a romantic setting. This is especially fun around Christmas time. Even the famed elk horn arch is covered with lights, making it an added attraction.

So, if you're looking for a fun place to de-stress, I heartily recommend Jackson. There is something for everyone in this fun town, and even though some things are quite pricey, you can still find frugal ways to enjoy this area. As I've mentioned, I love just walking through the art and photo galleries, window shopping, and savoring the atmosphere. Since I also enjoy people watching, there are usually plenty of those to observe. ;) And places like the Elk Refuge, don't charge a penny to view their featured critters. There are a lot of other things to do for free that are enjoyable. Sometimes it's just good for the soul to get away and bask in the beauty our Creator provided for us in this world. Words to live by. =)

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Entertaining Moments

So it snowed again today . . . and last night . . . and it's still snowing.
Sigh . . . =) Joys of living in a mountain valley. We experienced one day of wonderful weather this past week, and it made everyone antsy for spring. As such, I've decided that today's blog will consist of ways to keep ourselves entertained, despite the less-than-spring-like weather.

1.) Have a relaxing massage. I do this twice a month and it helps a great deal with the arthritis thing. In fact, I braved the scary roads to drive in for one of these earlier this morning. Now I can move with what I hope is grace the rest of the day. =) Not only do massages relax a person in general, massages can help ease the muscle strain that takes place for someone like me who endures a form of rheumatoid arthritis.

2.) Read a good book. I love to read, and I don't always find the time to do so. On yucky days like today, I don't feel so guilty spending quality time reading a good book. Incidentally, I just finished JoAnn Arnold's "Prince Etcheon" and loved it. Thumbs way up on that book. If you enjoy fantasy novels, you have to read this one. Currently I'm reading "Almost Sisters," by Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, & Carroll Hofeling Morris. It is also a good read. I'm enjoying it in part because I've met several "almost sisters," throughout my life. They've made my life an enjoyable journey.

3.) Catch up on those projects you've been putting off. Like the scrapbook\family history book I'm trying to finish for son # 3 before he returns home from his mission this May. His was the only book I didn't have to have finished by Christmas. Now I'm paying for that. ;)

4.) Write a letter. It's old-fashioned, I know, but sometimes writing a letter instead of the instant e-mail option is a needful thing, and it means a lot to the person on the receiving end.

5.) Watch a funny movie. That always perks me up on a grey day. Laughter truly is the best medicine, as far as I'm concerned.

6.) Do a jigsaw puzzle. I love tackling one of these. Again, I don't usually have time to mess with them during these busy days I call my life at the moment. A stormy day like today gives me that excuse.

7.) Call someone you haven't talked to in a while and have a good visit. That always boosts spirits on both sides of the telephone line . . . or should I say on the cordless, wireless, cell phone thingy?

8.) Browse through a seed catalogue like Gurney's. I did that the other day and I've already picked out what we'll plant in our garden this year. Since I love to play in the dirt, this always cheers me up. Incidentally, you can browse
Gurney's on the internet. Just click on the highlighted word in the last sentence. Enjoy!

9.) Try a new recipe. This is always an adventurous pastime. I call it playing with food. ;) And since I love to do just that, this is generally a good time. Of course there was that one time when I tried making quiche. That was the day I learned that real men (ie: my husband) don't like quiche at all. Even if it looked wonderful and I thought was rather tasty.

10.) Take a bubble bath. Soak in warm water and pretend you're playing in the Carribean. Or enjoy a lengthy soak and read a good book. This is a wonderful way to relax unless you drop the book. Then it becomes a tragic moment. So be careful. ;)

11.) Go shopping, even if it's the "window" variety. Just being out and about around other people tends to lift my spirits.

12.) Play fun games. This works best if you can talk other people into playing them with you. =D

13.) Savor pictures of the grandchildren. That's why I posted one of those at the beginning of this blog. This is a recent picture of my little granddaughter, Aari. =) I can't help but cheer up when I look at pictures like this one.

14.) Tackle something you've always wanted to do. Develop a new talent. Myself, I've always wanted to paint landscapes and one of these days, I'm going to do just that.

I'm sure if you think about it, you can come up with other fun\entertaining ways to perk things up on a dreary day. Spring will eventually come (in our realm, about June or so) until then, dress in bright vivid colors, make snow angels, and try to make the best of things until the sun decides to shine again.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Medicinal Miracles

So I'm sitting here today in a hospital in Idaho Falls. Since this kind of adventure tends to happen frequently in all of our lives, I guess I'll will touch on the amazing part of our culture known as health care.

If you think about it, it is astounding what is possible in today's world, compliments of medical technology. Take this morning for instance. We received a phone call from my mother-in-law, telling us that her husband had experienced a heart attack. Not cool. So we (my husband and I) flew to Idaho Falls . . . going the speed limit mind you, since we are very safe drivers . . . picked up Kennon's sister on our way up, and arrived in Idaho Falls around 1:00 p.m. this afternoon

In the length of time that it took us to arrive at the hospital, my step-father-in-law, Bob, had been rushed from the Rexburg hospital to the one in Idaho Falls by ambulance, endured an angioplasty procedure, and was in a hospital room recovering when we arrived. And he looked great, all things considered. Whew!!!

They discovered during the procedure that a collection of small clots was the culprit. Luckily they were in a lesser vein---the main vein looked good. The heart specialist decided that it was too risky to try to remove the clots, so they'll be using blood thinners to take care of the problem.

My step-father-in-law is 83 years old, but he looks and acts like he's in his 60's. It is still amazing to me that he is alive lying in his hospital bed this afternoon, joking around with all of us about his very busy day. ;) And you should hear what he has ordered for his meals tomorrow. =D Today's adventure hasn't slowed him down a bit.

We're all very relieved that things turned out the way that they did. We know that we're still not out of the woods quite yet, but for the moment, all is well. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the fast-acting medical personnel who responded as quickly as they did. In Rexburg, Bob was given medication to keep things going until he reached Idaho Falls. And here in Idaho Falls, he has received excellent care.

So while things in the world may seem a bit scary and dismal with regard to the economy, etc. think about how lucky we are to live during a time when precious lives can be spared because of the technology that is ours.

I suppose I'm a walking example of that as well. I'm a Type 1 diabetic who uses an insulin pump. I've been told by my diabetic specialist as well as the eye specialist that I see a couple of times a year, that this technology has not only spared my life, but it has kept me from developing complications that used to be quite common for diabetics. I still have to watch what I'm doing with regard to diet, exercise, etc. but the pump makes it possible for me to lead a fairly normal life.

I could go on and on, and but I think you get what I'm saying. We live in a remarkable time and tremendous things are possible because of the advances in medical technology. So on those days when life seems to inhale, ponder the good stuff taking place. This afternoon, I'm counting my blessings for the tiny miracle we witnessed today. ;)

P.S. My step-father-in-law (Bob) is currently discussing a trip to Alaska that he will be making with my husband and a few other family members this summer. I don't think today's adventure made a dent in any of his future plans. =D Way cool.

And be sure to visit the neighborhood and check out all of the neat futures available there.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Through the Glass Darkly

I love imagery. While reading a good book, I've always been able to picture the images hinted at compliments of a vivid imagination. Symbolic icons often help me understand important concepts.

One of my favorite scriptures possesses symbolic imagery. Taken from one of the epistles of Paul, it is as follows:

"For now we see through a glass, darkly . . . now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

To me this means there will be times in our lives when we won't understand everything that is taking place, nor why it has to be. Those are the moments when we have to cling to faith and hope for a better day. And someday, possibly when it won't matter anymore, we'll comprehend why we endured a particular trial or challenging test. I think what matters most is how we respond to the set of circumstances during the traumatic event. Did we allow it to be a learning experience, using it later on to help others who may walk a similar path? Or did we allow this hurdle, whatever it may be, to block us from continuing on? Was it a stepping stone, or an obstacle? Often it is our attitude that determines the outcome.

A popular adage states that an optimist sees the glass half-full while a pessimist focuses on the fact that it is half-empty. Or to quote a poem I memorized in school years ago:

"Twixt the optimist and pessimist
The difference is droll:
The optimist sees the doughnut
But the pessimist sees the hole."

McLandburgh Wilson

During my adventures in life, I have tried to look on the bright side of things. I don't always succeed in this. There have been moments when I've thrown tremendous temper tantrums over
challenging obstacles. Like the time I was told that I had Graves Disease. Shortly after this diagnosis, I remember walking with a good friend, venting quite a bit about my unwillingness to endure this particular trial. Wasn't the fact that I was already dealing with diabetes and lupus enough? Did I have to endure this current affliction as well? I threw myself quite a pity party for a short time.

In an interesting twist, a part of me refused to believe that I had to deal with this condition, too. The stubborn part of myself came to the fore and I beat the odds. The Graves Disease faded into nothingness, kicking into remission on what I hope is a permanent basis. My doctors were stunned. They had told me from the beginning that I possessed a 1 in 1000 chance of winning this particular battle. They had been trying to decide if surgery or an interesting chemo treatment would be required to fix the problem. My vote was neither . . . and I won. Not necessarily because I was being a good sport about things . . . I just refused to believe that I would be saddled with this condition. I suppose it was the power of positive thinking . . . my version. =D

I am learning that thinking in a positive manner is one of the keys to succeeding in life. When we focus on the negative things taking place and ignore the good stuff going on, it can plummet us to the depths of despair and discouragement, two of the adversary's favorite tools. It takes courage and determination to rise above the dark thoughts that plague us all---the doubting fears that hold us back.

A few years ago, I experienced an extremely vivid dream. I know most dreams are silly nonsense, our mind's way to clean house, but I also believe that once in a while we can receive an important message through that format. This dream was one of those.

In this dream, I was making my way through a darkened tunnel with three others that I know and love. We were understandably frightened, not knowing what lay ahead, or if we would ever see the light of day again. Finally, we came to a sheer drop-off. Pausing, we looked things over, in agreement that to continue would be extremely dangerous. And yet, I was drawn to continuing forward.

It was pointed out to me that the cliff that descended below was made of glass. I was cautioned that I would be cut to shreds if I pressed on. I knew what my fellow travelers were telling me was true, but I couldn't ignore the strong impression that burned within. To find what I was seeking, I had to continue forward.

Shaking their heads, those who had been with me, turned around and trudged back the way we had already come. I stood, uncertain, contemplating all I would suffer by climbing down the cliff. Then, gathering my courage, I did just that. And it wasn't as bad as I had feared. I did receive a few minor cuts, but for the most part, I wasn't seriously injured. Turning, I saw the end of the tunnel ahead, something that had been out of view from the top of the cliff. I had found the way out of this particular tunnel by pressing forward, despite the risks involved.

Elated, I hurried toward the light that I could see, and walked out into the sunshine, where I was surrounded by loved ones.

I've reflected on that dream quite often through the years, especially when trials descend. I hope I will remember the lessons I have already learned and keep my face toward the sunshine, where all shadows fall behind, to quote Helen Keller. We do indeed live during a challenging time, but to my way of thinking, as long as we'll hold tight to hope and keep our faith intact, we'll eventually walk out of the darkened tunnels that lie ahead.