Friday, May 29, 2009

The Week in Pictures

Since this past week has been a blur of activities, I decided to share a few pictures in today's blog. Maybe this will make up for my absence on Monday. Long story short, after a week of whirlwind activities, I returned home with some sort of stomach bug\food poisoning and on Monday I was still deciding if I was going to live. =D Kidding . . . sort of. ;) Without further ado, here is a series of pictures and brief explanations. Enjoy!!!
First there was a camping adventure. Devin has been itching to do some camping and fishing since his return home, so he and Kennon camped up a local canyon for a couple of days last week. Kris and I joined them on Thursday. And yes, Devin out-fished his father . . . in case you were wondering.

It was a relaxing time of enjoying nature, good food, and soothing guitar ditties.

Not to mention delicious s'mores!

Kennon and I went for a 4-wheeler jaunt and saw that snow still exists up yonder.

If you examine the picture above closely, you'll see the rock chuck we spied, sitting on top of a large pile of rocks.

After deciding they had forgotten how to set up ye olde family tent, and realizing it was going to be cold, and they both had to work the next morning, our sons headed for the safety of home and Kennon and I stayed in camp that night. About 3:00 a.m. a piercing alarm effectively awakened us, and any hapless campers in the vicinity. Our camper battery was low and the CO alarm was screaming in protest. The only way we could get it to cease was to shut off the furnace. It was a very refreshing camping adventure. ;)

After returning home half-frozen the next morning (Friday) Kennon and I hurriedly put everything away, cleaned up, packed, and after decorating the graves in Bennington, we headed north. We drove up to the Lewisville Cemetery located about 20 minutes north of Idaho Falls and decorated family graves.

I left yellow roses on my dad's grave this year.

We then journeyed to Annis and decorated graves in that location. Then it was on to Rigby, where we were spending the night with my in-laws. After grabbing a quick bite to eat, Kennon and I went for a soothing walk along the nearby Snake River.
We left on our annual Memorial jaunt a day early for a very good reason---a close friend's beautiful daughter was getting married in the Rexburg Temple on Saturday morning. It was a wonderful ceremony, but as soon as it was over, Kennon and I headed to Wyoming to meet up with varied family members.

We caught up with my mother and sister in Swan Valley, Idaho in our quest for the famed square ice cream cones. From there we drove to Thayne, Wyoming where we were spending the night.
The next morning we met up with lots of other relatives and decorated the family graves located in Thayne.

Most of my kids met us for a picnic in Thayne. (Devin & Kennon had to speak in a ward in our stake Sunday morning, so they met up with us later in Grays Lake) And those interesting looking beverage bottles are filled with IBC rootbeer, in case anyone was wondering.

On we went to Grays Lake, Idaho to Aunt Mary's house where we visited with a plethora of relatives. Devin and Kennon met up with us here and my cute little granddaughter decided Uncle Devin was pretty cool.
All in all, a good time was had by all, aside from the little stomach glitch I experienced Sunday night\Monday. It was the first time my entire clan has been able to enjoy the annual Memorial Jaunt in several years. True, some of us did it in bits and pieces, but we had a lot of fun, shared family stories, and honored those who have gone on before us. And to me, that's what Memorial Day is all about.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Memories

By this time tomorrow, I will be embarking on a yearly tradition---the annual Memorial Day Loop, as we call it. We journey north, meeting up with family members in Pocatello.(They drive up from Utah, it's kind of a half-way stop for everyone.)

On we travel to Idaho Falls, where we always stop for a bite of lunch. Our favorite restaurant there is Smitty's, home of the famous pancake breakfast. We partake of savory cuisine, then before leaving the Idaho Falls area, we usually visit with relatives and close family friends who live in that location.

When we leave Idaho Falls, we head to Lewisville, to the beautiful cemetery where my father is buried. His parents, and a brother and sister are buried there as well, so we decorate all of the family graves, then drive on to Annis, Idaho. Here another aunt and uncle are buried as well as one of my childhood friends who died from a rare kidney disease when we were about eleven years old. We honor their memory by placing beautiful flowers on their graves, and then drive on to nearby Rigby where we refuel our vehicles. Then it's on to Swan Valley, Idaho.

I've touched on why we stop there in other posts---those wonderful square ice cream cones. ;) I'm so looking forward to enjoying one of those this weekend. =D

From there we travel around the beautiful Palisades Lake and drop into Wyoming. Since my mother's family is from Thayne originally, we usually stay at a motel in that location called the Cabin Creek Inn. This place has wonderful cabins that are like a home away from home. And the breakfast they serve each morning makes my mouth water to think of it. Homemade biscuits and gravy, a variety of fruit, as well as waffles, cereal, and so forth.

We decorate several family graves in Thayne, and then spend some time at the Star Valley Cheese Factory where 3 generations of my family have worked. Both of my maternal grandparents worked in this facility, as well as my mother when she was a teenager, and several years ago, my brother worked there as well. This place holds a special place in our hearts and we enjoy purchasing cheese, and sometimes eating lunch in this fun location.
At some point during the weekend, we usually drive over to Grays Lake, Idaho where my mother's family has strong roots. Several of our ancestors are buried in the private cemetery in this location. Two of our aunts still live there and we try to spend time with them. From there, we part ways and journey home.

This loop has been an important tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, I remember traveling with my parents from cemetery to cemetery, helping to place flowers on the various graves. Some might think this is a morbid thing to do, but I was always taught that it's important to remember those who have gone on before. Decorating their graves is a way we can honor their memory, and keep important family stories alive. These stories have been passed down from one generation to another, and they are always shared during the Memorial Day Loop. It's one way we can strengthen the link between the generations, inspiring a sense of love and admiration for those who have paved the way for the rest of us.

It's not always possible for everyone to make the yearly journey, but I know that those who can't come with us this year, are with us in spirit. And as we set out flowers as both of my grandmothers used to do, we can't help but feel a bond. We are keeping an important tradition alive, hopefully passing the torch on one day to those who will follow in our footsteps.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Electrifying Moments

A few years ago when I was a little girl, there was a lot of hoopla over the space program. I remember how excited my parents were when they learned that men would eventually walk on the moon. My father, who was always eager to learn about new technology, was fascinated by the space age. He did quite a bit to encourage us to appreciate the era in which we lived. We gathered as a family, enthralled as rockets were launched into space.

This excitement made a huge impact on my overactive imagination. My mother has shared that I was always able to entertain myself, and my siblings as we grew up. I invented games for us to play, etc. The year I was almost five, I nearly met an early demise because of this vivid imagination, and the space program.

Back in days of yore, ice cream came in gallon-size cardboard containers that resembled small drums. My mother saved them to give to us to play with. Mine held toys, and variety of treasures. Then one day, soon after we had moved into a brand new brick home, I dumped everything out of one of those cardboard containers. I hauled it into the hallway onto my mother's prized and polished hardwood floor. Tipping it upside down, I pretended it was my launching pad. I stood on top of the former ice cream container and began a countdown.

My mother was busy fixing dinner in the kitchen and she said later that she heard my countdown, but wasn't sure what I was up to. Then she heard a disturbing noise and the lights in the house flashed. Rushing into the hall, she saw that I had jammed one of my metal barrettes into an outlet. Since our house wasn't grounded yet, I was receiving quite a bit of voltage up my arm. Fire shot out around me and effectively burned a half circle on the new hardwood floor.

Panicking, my mother raced into the kitchen, grabbed a wooden broom, and knocked me away from the outlet, saving my life. I tried to explain later on that my barrette was the key to my rocket ship, but no one seemed very amused by what I had imagined that day. All I can say is that my guardian angel was definitely on active duty that afternoon. I spent 2-3 days in bed, sick from the electrical burns I had received up that arm. But I recovered fully and I was much wiser with regard to things electrical.

Now lest you should think ill of my parents, I should stress that I was cautioned repeatedly about not sticking anything into the electrical outlets. (This was before outlet covers existed.) And I was usually an obedient child, but that day, my creative flare and excitement over the space program combined in an unruly fashion. I've never forgotten what I learned that day, and I've had a healthy respect for electricity ever since.

A few weeks ago, we endured quite an adventure compliments of a nearby power pole. My oldest son, Kris, and I had just returned from a trip to town and we had only been home about 5 minutes when the power went out. Since it was storming in a most impressive fashion, we figured it was responsible for the power outage. Then Kris walked into our living room and glanced out the bay window. That's when we learned that the power lines that cross our front yard were beginning to sag. We raced outside and saw the following catastrophe near our home:

If you study these two pictures closely, you'll note that the top of the power pole had collapsed on top of the transformer, causing it to arc, sending flames into the air, and effectively ruining what was left of the top of that pole. We were later told that because of the moisture this storm had furnished, the rotting wood of this old pole caved in on top of itself. Good times.

This particular power pole is located in the corner of our neighbor's front yard, right beside our pasture. Because of what took place, the power lines were hanging extremely low, causing yet another danger. Unaware that he could have easily been zapped in a violent fashion, Kris darted across our yard to "rescue" his car. He parked it a short, safe distance away, then risked his life again as he crossed underneath those sagging live wires to approach our home.

We had already called for help. I had contacted the power company and my son had dialed 911 because of the fire danger. It only took both organizations about 10 minutes to respond and we were told to keep our distance while they attempted to get things under control.

A bright orange cautionary cone was placed in our driveway, underneath the sagging power lines. Then the race was on as the weather raged, the fire burned, and the power lines were rendered harmless. One power truck had responded to the initial emergency call. As time marched on, four more trucks would show up to help. Evidently this was a serious situation. I don't think I've ever seen that many power trucks arriving to fix the same problem before.

Kris and I obediently stayed inside the safety of the house, taking pictures from the windows in the living room and garage as these courageous men toiled to contain the fire, remove the damaged pole, and insert a new one.

Eventually, Kris had to leave to go to work, but since the power had been cut to the lines, he was okay to leave. Not long after that, my husband returned home from his job and he was given permission to walk across the power lines that were lying in our driveway by then.

Four hours later, the new pole was in place and all was well. My husband walked out to thank these men for their valiant efforts. They had worked in extremely cold conditions, but had stayed with it until the job was done. They are to be commended for all they did that day.

After the power came back on, things returned to normal, aside from a little glitch with a local internet tower. The power outage had fried some of the delicate parts of this tower and so we were without the internet for a little over 24 hours.

This entire adventure has made me realize how much I sometimes take for granted. When you ponder all that electricity makes possible, it becomes a new miracle all over again. Lights, heat, music, TV, computers, not to mention little things like the ability to keep food cold, or curling irons hot are all a direct result of electricity. Combine that with the ability to communicate instantaneously with people throughout the nation or world, and as my father emphasized years ago, we do indeed live during a marvelous time. There may be a lot of negative things taking place in this world, but when you truly consider all that we have been blessed with, it rather gives you an entire new slant to life during this current age. I know I for one, would not enjoy going back to the days of fire and kerosene. What think the rest of you?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Busy Week =)

The past few days have been crazy in our neck of the woods. If you read the last blog post, you're aware that our youngest son, Devin, returned home from serving a two-year mission in Edmonton, Canada. He spoke in our ward last Sunday, and numerous family members and friends came for this event. Devin did an awesome job, and later on that day, we held a feast in his honor.

It was quite the Mother's Day celebration. ;) It was wonderful and exhausting all at once. It was great having all of my kids home, something that hasn't happened in quite some time. And it was fun visiting with family members and friends that we don't see that often anymore.

Yesterday was another landmark event. Most of my husband's family gathered together as the temple work for one family member was taken care of in the Idaho Falls Temple. It was a spiritual high, and yet extremely tender for many reasons.
These days, life seems filled with never-ending roller-coaster rides. We were talking about riding the roller-coaster just the other day. My first experience wasn't exactly a pleasant one. I possess a fear of heights. Despite this, some well-meaning friends talked me into riding the roller-coaster at Lagoon one spring day, shortly before high school was dismissed for the summer.

We had journeyed all the way from Ashton, Idaho to Lagoon for an entertaining day.
There I was, being dragged along with my friends into the line for the roller-coaster. I distinctly remember protesting, proclaiming that I would much prefer waiting on the nice safe ground while my friends placed their lives in what I considered to be danger.

They just laughed and kept a firm grip on me, stuffing me inside a cramped metal car when it was our turn to ride this "glorious" thing.
"You'll be fine," I was told. Then, before I could argue that fact, the ride began. Our line of metal cars was propelled along a track, climbing higher and higher into the air. Terrified, I closed my eyes and began to pray like crazy. When the cars reached the summit, I opened my eyes and gazed with horror at what awaited us below. Certain I was about to die, I tried very hard to make my peace with God. Then without warning, the roller-coaster shot down the track at what I considered break-neck speed. Gritting my teeth, I survived. Up we journeyed again, toward the top of the next peak, only to plunge down again, repeating this process several times before the ride ended.

When it was finally over, my friends said that they had to pry my hands loose from the metal safety bar. They apologized all over the place when they saw how pale I had become. But all was not lost. In fact, I rode that same roller-coaster twice more before the day was over. I had learned to conquer fear, drawing on an inner strength I didn't know I possessed. It was quite the character-building moment for me.

I'm still not a fan of roller-coasters, but I have learned that some of what I experienced that day long ago, still applies to my life today. We all face mortal mode with some trepidation. It is a new frontier, gaining a body, learning how to control it, not to mention striving to help those around us who are floundering. Without warning, we find ourselves hurtling up toward an unknown adventure. We feel a rush at the summit, and then plummet below at a dizzying speed that takes its toll.

Highs and lows are a necessary part of our lives here on earth. We all experience our share of both, in a variety of ways. I think the trick is to learn to enjoy the ride, wherever we may be on our mortal roller-coaster. Someday it will end and we'll exit onto that final platform in a daze. There we will determine just what kind of ride we enjoyed. Good or bad, I truly believe that our attitude will affect our perspective, no matter what may come our way.

Friday, May 8, 2009

He's Finally Home!!!

Yep, Elder Crane the 3rd (our youngest and 3rd son to serve a mission) is home. He flew in to the SLC airport on Wednesday morning from where he was serving a mission in Canada (Canada--Edmonton Mission).

There we were, gathered below the escalators waiting near the baggage retrieval area. His flight plans indicated that he would arrive at approximately 8:40 a.m. Aunts, cousins, a grandmother, and our entire immediate family had all met up around 8:00 a.m. and found that we didn't have long to wait. This particular flight beat the odds and came in early. Elder Crane rode down the escalator at 8:15 a.m. Then, spying all of the banners and signs everyone was holding up, he retreated back up the escalator, thinking it was funny. =)

The pull of gravity and another elder guided him back down to where he was welcomed home with style. Okay, maybe not style, but with loving arms as we all hugged the stuffings out of this valiant young man.

In lieu of a wordy blog post today, I'm simply going to paste in pictures for your enjoyment. Our entire family is here at my humble abode, and it's almost time for me to fix a gi-normous breakfast in honor of the occasion. ;)

Here is a banner my other two sons held up in celebration of the moment. (Okay, their mother may have made the banner and asked them to pose with it for a "Kodak moment," but it's still cool.) =D

This is one of the signs my nieces made in honor of their cousin's arrival home.

And here is yet another sign welcoming Elder Devin into our midst.

Even my tiny granddaughter was excited. This would be the first time she would see her Uncle Devin in person.

And then he finally came down the escalator and Elder Devin reunited with his family. It was glorious!

Numerous pictures were taken . . .

Here's a shot of Devin with 2 of the elders who also flew home that day.

Then it was time to head to G-ma J.'s abode for a traditional feast.

Elder Devin got acquainted with his new little niece . . .

Bonded with his brothers . . .

And then we drove home to Bear Lake where Devin modeled a certain cool coat he brought home with him from Canada.

Later that night, he met with our stake president and was officially released from his mission. It was a tender moment that made us all cry. Last night he reported to the high council of our stake, also making us (okay . . . maybe just me) cry. He'll speak in our ward this coming Sunday and will more than likely make his mommy cry yet again. It's all good---they're happy tears!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tristi's New Book

Hi all. I'm excited to announce Tristi Pinkston's newest book, "Agent in Old Lace." It sounds like a fascinating read and I can hardly wait to read it myself.

Here's a link for a contest that Tristi is currently sponsoring where you can win all kinds of cool things: CLICK HERE

And if you're interested in purchasing the book mentioned above, click on this link:

Have a good day!!!


So it turns out I may be colorblind. Not with the common variety either. It seems every time I pick out a color I think will look sharp with regard to paint, dye and such, it never turns out to be what I envision. Is it me, or is this a strange phenomenon we endure in our society?

I've been told I'm too trusting. This is why a few years ago I believed the nice box of hair color when it promised to coat my cute gray hairs a rich brunette color. I was anxious to have my hair looking sharp since we were traveling with two other families to Nauvoo and I wanted to look like a person. The trip we had planned would take approximately a week and a half and I didn't want to worry about my hair, which has been turning prematurely gray since I was about 25. So girding up, I bought the hair color that promised to restore things to my original color and I hurried home to make myself look beautiful.

Imagine my horror when instead of the natural brunette shade the box had promised, I was sporting a look that would be acceptable in most "Goth" circles. It was coal black---not brunette. And there wasn't a thing I could do about it. I tried washing it repeatedly and it simply looked like clean black hair. This was not a cool time in my life. Even though most people said things like "WOW!" I knew it wasn't complimentary. They were in shock, and so was I.

Then there was the time I wanted to redo the main bathroom of our house. Tiring of the bland cream color most of our rooms possess, I decided to add a little color. Emphasis on "little color." Since I was going through a peach phase, and I had purchased peach-colored shower curtains and towels, I decided to paint that room a nice shade of light peach. This proved to be a huge mistake. (Incidentally, don't make fun. This occurred during the 80's when peach was slightly an "in" color.)

I went to a local store and explained what I wanted. I picked out a paint sample that was the exact color. All should have been well. It wasn't. Envision, if you will, fluorescent orange. I'm not kidding. Even without the lights turned on in that room, it glowed out into the hallway. With the lights, it was nearly blinding. We had to use sunglasses to tolerate this room until I could fix it. (Yep, I hurriedly changed it back to a nice bland color, choosing to decorate with accessories that happen to be the color they really are. This comforts me somewhat.)

The color moment I will possibly never live down involves what we painted our house several years ago. Once again trusting the nice people who mix the paint to be my friends, I bravely picked out a color scheme I thought looked wonderful. When I showed my husband the paint samples I liked best, he thought they looked great. I had picked out a soft cocoa color with dark brown trim. It looked gorgeous when I held up the samples. It looked pink when the paint was applied to our house. Pale pink with dark brown trim. Beautiful!!! NOT!!! That's when I was beginning to see the attraction of painting a house a simple white color with black trim.

My children (all boys, mind you) made fun of that house color for a very long time. They still say things like, "Remember the time when Mom painted our house pink." To which I offer a rebuttal. "It wasn't pink, it was COCOA!!!"

Fortunately, when we added our garage a few years ago, we opted to go with vinyl siding for it and the house, so it's a soothing cream colored home with dark brown trim. Vinyl siding doesn't lie like paint samples do. You get the actual color that you pick out.

This past week, we finally finished the downstairs bathroom. Now every room in our house is finished, for the moment. (As homeowners know, upkeep is something that will always be with us.) Since two of our sons will be living in the basement this summer, one of them our missionary son who will be returning home THIS WEEK!!! . . . we figured it was time to get that third bathroom finished.

Remembering my unfortunate bathroom painting episode of days gone by, I was trying to be extremely conservative. We wanted to paint it a soothing color that was "manly" at the same time. We narrowed our options down to an olive green color with cream trim, or a gray\blue color with white trim, or a light tannish brown color that seems to be all the rage of late, with a dark brown trim.

When it came down to picking out the final color, I was on my own. My husband was busy gathering bathroom fixtures in the lovely Home Depot store, and I had been sent to "get the paint." I almost cringe when I hear those words, but I gathered my courage and approached the paint section of this vast store. This time I utilized modern technology and took advantage of the computerized program that shows you what the colors will look like in the room of choice. I fell in love with how the light tannish brown color looked in a bathroom setting. Figuring it would be perfect with the tile we had selected for the floor, I picked that color and bravely told the nice paint man what I wanted.

I was so excited to see those colors in that new bathroom. Light tannish brown with dark brown trim. It would be gorgeous. I bought dark brown towels and other accessories for accent. My husband and number two son spent one entire afternoon painting while I tended my little granddaughter. I didn't get to see the room until it was finished. Then behold . . . I walked inside our new bathroom and wanted to cry. It was pink . . . again . . . just like the time I had tried to paint our house a lovely cocoa color. ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

My husband and son said helpful things like, "It will look better after it dries." Guess what, IT STILL LOOKS PINK!!! I even sent a picture of it to my youngest sister, hoping for sympathy. Instead, she laughed at my pain. "It looks pink to me, too. Good job!!!"

So my sons will be enduring a "pink" downstairs bathroom. But at least they'll have manly-looking brown towels to go with it. ;)

Does this kind of thing ever happen to anyone else? Or am I the only doomed person on the planet with this kind of color-blindness? (This is where you offer tremendous sympathy and make me feel better about things like my new downstairs bathroom.) =D
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Friday, May 1, 2009


(Baldy Mountain is the left eye of the "frog." This is the view out my dining room window.)

Years ago I experienced quite an ordeal. We were told that for the stake YM\YW super summer activity, we would climb a mountain not far from my home. Since I was serving in the YW of our ward at that time, this challenging feat would involve me.

As many of you know, I'm a Type 1 diabetic. This was a concern for my husband and our bishop. Both cautioned me with regard to this particular activity. Neither of them thought I should attempt this climb. I assured both men that I would be fine. I promised to carefully watch my blood sugar level, to take along carb snacks, and to pace myself. I figured I was in fairly good health, all things considered. After all, I walked 5 days a week with a good friend. We usually walked about 3 miles at a somewhat brisk pace. That mountain didn't scare me--until I was halfway up, struggling beyond what I had envisioned.

We began this exciting adventure near the base of a mountain known in our neck of the woods as Baldy. (It earned this nickname from the lack of trees on top. In comparison to the neighborning mountains, it looks bald.) It's also the left eye of what is also commonly known as "the frog" here in Bennington. If you look at the picture posted above, you may see how it received that name. ;)

I figured we would start climbing Baldy right off the bat. It wasn't until we had all gathered at the designated meeting place that we learned we would actually be climbing two smaller mountains\hills first. It would be a seven mile hike straight uphill.

Gathering my courage, I was still determined to participate. This was the first big activity for my oldest son in the YM's program and he had been excited to hike with me that day. Plus most of my Mia Maid class had come to take part in the climb, and they were cheering me on as well, since quite a few of the adult leaders in our stake had bowed out of this activity.

Things started out well. We were all in good spirits and eager to prove ourselves. Then, about halfway up that first hill, my left leg began to cramp up in a horrible fashion. I figured it was because of the damage this leg had experienced a few years earlier due to a blood clot adventure. The circulation has never been very good in that leg as a result. Later on I would learn that I was in the beginning stages of a crippling form of rheumatoid arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis), and it was the true culprit that day.

I was in so much pain by the time I reached the top of that first hill, I was ready to throw in the towel. In fact, I did just that. "I'm sorry, I can't go on," I told my son and my Mia Maids. They said they understood, but the sad look in their eyes haunted me. Doing my best to ignore that, I limped to a nearby pine tree, sat down, and ran a check on my blood sugar. Severe pain tends to drop that level and it was on its way down. So I relaxed against that tree in the shade and sipped apple juice, watching as everyone else went on without me. (A couple of the other leaders had volunteered to stay with me, but I assured everyone I would be fine by myself, and that I would wait there for their return later on that day.)

As I watched while the others climbed the second, taller hill, I felt a little nudge of guilt. I've usually never been one to give up easily. And yet, I had allowed some discomfort to stand in the way of accomplishing something I knew in my heart I had really wanted to achieve. Gathering my courage, I stuffed everything back inside my backpack and continued on my way.

It wasn't too bad going downhill. I was still limping, but my leg functioned somewhat normally. Then I began climbing the second hill and found I was in just as much pain as I had been in earlier. I did my best to ignore it, sucked on pieces of hard candy to keep my blood sugar level where it needed to be, and I made it to the top of the second hill.

Winded, but determined now to finish this thing, I hobbled down the back of the second hill. About halfway down, one of the stake YM leaders who had been assigned the "difficult" task of driving his truck up to the base of Baldy with a load of water coolers, spotted me limping down that second hill and he drove up to where I was struggling. He told me to climb inside the truck, which I obediently did, and he then drove us down to the base of Baldy Mountain. Along the way I received a lecture about overdoing, and was counseled to give up.

"You don't need to finish this climb," he stressed to me. "I can tell you're in a lot of pain---you've more than gone the extra mile with this activity, just relax now and wait for everyone to return."

I sat there for a few minutes, recovering, but as I watched everyone else struggle up Baldy Mountain, I couldn't ignore what I was feeling inside. This had become a personal vendetta between myself, my wayward body, and Baldy.

Climbing out of the truck, I thanked the nice stake leader for his concern and told him this was something I needed to do. I couldn't explain why that was to either of us, but I was determined to see this thing through to the end.

With renewed vigor, I began to climb that final mountain. And it was more difficult than the other two hills combined. Halfway up, my left leg collapsed on me, and I nearly rolled down the mountain as a result. I sat there, uncertain of what to do. Above me, I could hear my son and Mia Maids calling to me. Around me, since I had managed to catch up with some of the other leaders, I was being told to stay put. Closing my eyes, I prayed. I explained to our Father in heaven how much I wanted to finish this climb, but I wasn't sure I could. I asked for His help, and it was granted. A thought came to mind quite strong, and I knew it was my answer. I remained in a sitting position, and began to use my arms and right leg to propel myself up the rest of that mountain.

That climb took everything I could do, and then some. But when I finally reached the top of that mountain, there was such a feeling of exhilaration. An emotional reunion took place as my son and Mia Maids hugged the stuffings out of me. They had seen how much I had endured to make that climb and we all cried together.

After several minutes, I was able to put weight on my left leg. I stood, and gazed out at the view before me, pondering all I would have missed if I had stayed in the shade under that pine tree down below.

A strong analogy came to mind that afternoon, as it was impressed upon me that sometimes, during painful trials, we have to trust in God, gather our courage, and continue on. The climb, though arduous, is always worth every effort made.

Six months later, one of my Mia Maids who had climbed Baldy with me that day, was killed in a car accident. That experience of climbing Baldy would help us all to survive the pain of losing this sweet young woman. The bond formed while climbing Baldy, would prove crucial as we pulled together to climb that mountain of grief.

Since that time, I have often pondered the lessons learned on that day of climbing mountains. I even wrote a poem about it I entitled Alpiniste, which is French for mountain climber:


Darkness overwhelms
It is too much
I cannot climb
The sheer rock
That slices ‘til I bleed.
There is no strength to face this challenge.

But I have come this far—
To give up now makes a mockery of all that has passed before.
Closing my eyes, I am led by an inner peace that beckons,
Reminding me of a presence that has been there all along.
Slowly, I make my way, clutching at handholds that guide—
The Sun shines bright upon my face as I make the final stretch,
Reaching for what most would deem beyond my grasp.

It is finished.
I have learned to face the wind
The clouds
The rain.
I have conquered the fear that held me back.
At the summit is a beauty that was always there
Beyond my limited sight.

I turn and see another mountain—
But I have learned to climb.

Cheri J. Crane

I will end with a thought given to me by a wonderful friend who is facing an entire mountain range at the moment. It is simply this: "Remember when you see a woman on top of a mountain, she didn't fall there."

(If you'll click on this picture, it will enlarge for a closer look. It was taken the day we climbed Baldy. You'll possibly spot me on the front row, kneeling in the midst of my Mia Maids. A camera case is slung over one shoulder.)