Friday, July 31, 2009

Give a Mouse a Cookie

I'm sure most of you are familiar with this book. I seem to be living its storyline at the moment---in many facets of my life. Most recently, I received a post from a cousin indicating that we have a huge tangled mess on our family tree, compliments of the new family search program.

A confession: I love family history. I enjoy hearing the family stories, collecting pictures of ancestors, and putting together scrapbooks with this information for my kids. To me, delving into family history is like the greatest mystery of all time. And just when you think you've figured out the plot, a whole new set of clues emerge that indicate everything you once thought true, is not.

Case in point; I've been really excited to try out the new family search program. When it became available to our stake a few weeks ago, I eagerly took a look-see. I even watched most of the beginning tutorial, so I would be prepared to dabble. Then behold, as I worked my way through the handy pedigree thingy that is part of this exciting new program, I ran into a major glitch. It showed that my grandmother's temple work had never been done. Knowing this to be false, I made the mistake of showing my mother what I had discovered. She was personally insulted by this error.

So . . . I gave the mouse a cookie. I contacted the nice Family Search people and shared all of the ordinance dates in our possession with regard to my grandmother. (At the moment, we can't change anything ourselves on this new program.) A week went by and I received word that all was well, and the temple work had been added to my grandmother's history. I was relieved until I realized that these same nice and helpful Family Search people had helped themselves to the family milk.

Behold, as my youngest son is fond of saying, I received word earlier this morning from a cousin who is distraught that my grandmother is now linked to her grandparents in a most unbecoming fashion. Skipping my grandmother's parents, my grandmother is now linked to her grandparents instead as one of their children. How does this kind of thing happen?

In my defense, this has been an extremely crazy week and I haven't had five minutes to get onto the new Family Search site to check things out. I trusted the nice and helpful staff of the new Family Search program to get things right. Sigh . . . now I'm listed as the one who linked my grandmother to the wrong set of parents. I'm anticipating several more e-mails regarding this matter to surface in the near future, from other outraged cousins.

All I tried to do was to give a mouse a simple cookie. In trying to change one simple mistake, there now appears to be a domino effect taking place on our family line. And the really crazy part, I won't have time to address this issue properly until next week. Today I'm singing at yet another funeral, my in-laws are arriving for a family reunion that is taking place this weekend, & some of my youngest son's Canadian friends are arriving for a visit. I don't think I'm bored. ;)

Note to self: this is when I run screaming the other direction. And avoid handing out "cookies" to the nice and helpful Family Search people who have made my life ever so lovely at the moment. If you don't see anything new posted on Crane-ium for a while, it's because I've gone into hiding until I get this mess all straightened out.

Au Revoir.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Music Within

I believe most people are deeply touched by music. This is manifested in a myriad of ways. Some dance, others play musical instruments, sing, or simply enjoy listening to their favorite genre, whether it's classical, rock, easy listening, jazz, country western (I'm trying not to gag---that one's not my favorite), etc.

I was born into a musically inclined family. My paternal grandmother played the piano beautifully, despite suffering from a form of deafness. (She survived the 1918 flu epidemic, but lost most of her hearing as a result.)

My father was blessed with a rich bass voice. He began singing in public when quite young, often accompanied by his mother. In college, he sang solo parts for operettas like Handel's Messiah. It was through this venue that he met my mother. One of her roommates, Jean, also sang solo parts in the musical productions that Ricks College promoted at the time. After singing in several of these musicals with my father, Jean introduced my parents, thinking they were perfect for each other. It turned out Jean was right.

My mother also came from a musical background. Her paternal grandmother played the piano by ear and she would often supply the music for the dances held in Grays Lake, Idaho years ago. Her offspring all sang, and played various musical instruments by ear. Her descendants still carry on in that great tradition.

My brother began singing with our father at the tender age of 3. He was too young to be nervous and he would sing out in a booming fashion that thrilled the audience. Since he didn't know how to read at that point in his life, my mother had to help him memorize the lyrics to the songs. What a dedicated woman! ;)

My mother plays the piano by ear and she often accompanied my father and brother as they sang on a variety of programs. Not long after this, my parents decided it would be good for all of us to sing together, and my two sisters and I started to sing as well. We performed all over the place (or so it seemed to me) and we sang everything from spiritual numbers, to songs from popular musicals, Christmas carols, wedding ditties, and even some fairly silly stuff just for fun.

When I was 12 years old, I taught myself how to play the guitar. For years, my father's guitar had sat untouched in the corner of the living room---it was something he was always going to learn to play. I remember being terribly bored one afternoon, and I felt drawn to that musical instrument. I picked it up, carried into my bedroom, and thumbed through the book that had come with it. For some reason, it all made sense to me, and by that afternoon, I could play 2 guitar chords quite clearly, and a simple little song. My parents were stunned. I'm not sure why. ;) I tried not to be insulted by their surprised reaction, and continued developing this skill the rest of the summer.

That fall I began writing my own songs. True, most of those first attempts were rather silly (I will spare you the lyrics) but it was like a whole new world had opened up to me. As time went on, this budding talent gave me numerous opportunities. It seemed like I was constantly being asked to write songs for high school dances, friends who were in love . . . or heartbroken over a relationship that had soured---I was even asked to write a song for my high school graduation. When I wrote a song I entitled, "Moving On," I was then asked to sing it during our graduation ceremony. This proved to be a challenge, since I was moving from the area the week after graduation.

In college, this hobby provided some interesting experiences. A good friend of mine served on the student council of Ricks College and she asked me write a theme song for one of the preference dances. The theme that year was, "Feelings of Springtime," and they wanted a song written using that same title. It proved to be quite the challenge, but I persevered and finally came up with lyrics and music that worked. And yes, I had to perform this number in every ballroom about half-way through the dance. My poor date spent the entire night helping me haul around my guitar and wooden stool. =)

There were other adventures. I was asked to write a song for our student ward about leaving home and journeying out into the world. I came up with something I called, "Try Your Wings." It was so well received the night I performed it at a special ward fireside, I was asked to sing it the next fall at the opening ceremony for incoming freshmen at Ricks. I sang in front of the largest audience I had ever faced, and I was scared to death. I had moved outside of my comfort zone for this number and played a grand piano to accompany myself. Prayers were answered and I survived, even if I sang the wrong line during one of the verses. I comforted myself with the thought that since I had written the silly thing, no one else but me would know I messed up. ;)

A few months after that, I was given a chance to perform one of my songs at a young song-writer's pop concert also held at Ricks College. I was backed by a live band and it was one of the highlights of my college days. For a while, I toyed with the idea of becoming a professional singer. But after watching what that particular dream did to one of my cousins, I was content with singing for personal enjoyment.

I still dabble somewhat with writing music. Through the years I've written songs for local musicals, YW programs, and was once asked to write a theme song for a compilation of musical numbers that were recorded by several talented musicians in our valley. Music has been a wonderful outlet and an important stress release throughout my life.

Music has always touched me more deeply than the spoken or written word. I can sit, stoic-faced during a funeral, blocking out what is being said over the pulpit. But when musical numbers are performed, I dissolve into puddle of mush. How difficult it is for me to sing at funerals, especially when the person being remembered is a loved one. But that has often been my lot in life. I have had to learn how to distance myself from the loss, to become one with the music, tuning out why I'm there.

There was a time when the music within me died. This took place years ago, when my father chose to exit mortal mode. It was a long time before I could pick up the guitar, brush the keys of the piano, or sing following his untimely death. I tried . . . but it ended badly until I healed.

About 3 months after my father's death, I was asked to sing 2 Christmas numbers at a Christmas Party for the local hospital. A nagging inner voice nudged that I wasn't ready for this yet. But I ignored that warning, and suffered the consequences. I figured I could handle doing something I had done for years. So I practiced two of my favorite Christmas songs and journeyed into town to perform on the program that night. My husband stayed at home with our oldest son, Kris, who was 5 months old at the time, and suffering from a cold. Again, I figured I would fine on my own. WRONG. I made it halfway through the first song . . . and the music was gone. I was still carrying too much pain inside. All I could do is cry. I ran offstage, humiliated and heartbroken.

I retreated to my car and drove around for hours, trying to sort everything out. As I drove around, my hand hesitantly reached for the knob to the radio. Turning it on, I switched stations until I heard a song that seemed to grab me. I drove into a deserted church parking lot and sat, entranced by the music. It was loud. It was angry. This song expressed everything I was feeling and amazingly, it healed a tiny piece of my heart that night. When it was finished, I turned off the radio and sobbed for a very long time. This was also healing. By the time I went home, I was exhausted, but on the mend. It would be years before I could sing in public, but little by little, the music within me survived.

Music is a gift. It is also a two-edged sword. While it can be inspiring, healing, and calming, the opposite realm of the spectrum is available as well. Music I refer to as "noise," can be detrimental to our souls. We have to be so careful about the types of music we allow ourselves to absorb.

It has been a joy to see the family musical heritage passed on to my children, and now my grandchildren. In past years, I've loved watching my sons develop their musical talents. One son plays the guitar and mandolin by ear. Another plays bass guitar and he's currently teaching himself how to play the acoustic guitar. The third plays the drums, guitar, and piano by ear. All three can sing and harmonize.

My tiny granddaughter loves music. She claps her little hands when we sing. She dances whenever music is played. She giggles and tries to help me whenever I dig out my guitar. And, she even tries to sing along. I'm certain she's pure genius. (That's a grandmother's prerogative, eh?)

It fills my heart with joy to know this legacy will continue. I think it's important and I suspect that when this life is over, we will find that music will play an important role in the eternities. It's part of the heritage we received from heavenly Parents who knew how crucial music would be to us during our earthly journey.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chance to win autographed books

Greetings again. Just a quick note to let you know that two of my books are being offered in a book-give-away on this link:

If you're interested, click on the link above and follow the instructions located below the descriptions of my books, "Moment of Truth," and "The Girls Next Door."

Best of luck out there.

Pioneer Ponderings

Hi all,

Hope you're enjoying the weekend, with an occasional pondering directed toward pioneer ancestors and their accomplishments. Having said that, I'm going to share a brief thought I've had in recent days. It's something you've probably heard before---I'm convinced that someday, when we meet up with our pioneer ancestors, they will be just as impressed with all that we've accomplished during our day.

True, we haven't had to walk for miles, day after day, pushing or pulling handcarts. Nor have we been driven from our homes by angry mobs. (Unless you happen to be one of those who adores cranking up the stereo to ear-splitting levels, and this annoys the neighbors. My mother has a neighbor who not only cranks up the stereo, but she then sings along as loud as she can. Most interesting. Especially her selection of music which ranges from '70's ditties to those popular in the '80's. Awesome! )

Our trials are very different. We face tremendous stress every day, compliments of the current economy mess, numerous natural disasters, health conditions, and at times, choices made by family members who struggle greatly in today's crazy world. We are bombarded daily by negative images that show up on TV, in movies, magazines, on the internet, and even on our cell phones. We live in an amazing age and access to technological wonders is becoming common-place. Can you imagine one of our pioneer ancestors trying to figure out how to use an i-phone? The internet? W-ii?

The challenges we face are different, but we can show the same moral courage demonstrated by our ancestors from an era long ago. We can stand strong for the things that we believe in. We can continue on, even when our hearts are shattered. We can also set a good example for the generations who will come after us.

Someday, our descendants may reflect on all that we survived during our era. I'm not saying there will be parades and family cookouts commemorating these events, but I'm sure they will be impressed, knowing we persevered during an extremely challenging time. And that's what it's all about, right?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Classy Reunion

Over the weekend I attended a high school class reunion. I can't believe 30 years have passed by since my graduation from good old North Fremont High. But what fun it was to link up with people I haven't seen in years.

During the past 30 years, we have lost 6 of our classmates. Since there were only 53 of us to begin with, those losses have cut deep. We were close friends, and though we came from a variety of backgrounds, lifestyles, & religions, we blended nicely. We still do. My husband attended a class reunion with me a few years ago and he said later how impressed he was with the way we all get along. There are a couple of reasons for that.

We learned early on that it took all of us to keep things running. Since our high school was so small, there were no tryouts for the athletic teams. If you were interested in sports (and even if you weren't) you made the team. ;) Hence, I played on our high school girls' basketball team for two years. I was also involved in Honor Society, seminary, the pep club, drama, journalism, and I served as president of the entertainment club my senior year.

Most of my classmates participated in a similar list of activities. We worked hard together, and we played hard together. We learned to respect each other, even if our core beliefs differed greatly. Nothing was gained by arguing over who was right. We marched to the beat of our individual drums, and occasionally, beautiful music was created as a result.

My husband was unable to attend this year's event. He flew out to Alaska on the fishing trip of a lifetime on the same day that I headed to Ashton for my class reunion. My date this year was one of my sons, Derek. (He's such a lucky kid . . . and a very good sport. And he didn't want his mommy driving back to Rexburg in the dark. Let's just say her night vision isn't quite up to par these days. Not long ago, my eye doctor asked if I drive at night. When I said, "Yes," he replied simply: "Don't!" I think that was a hint.)

Derek & Jan posing at 5-11

After arriving in Ashton, Derek and I met up with one of my closest high school friends, Jan, who still lives in what I consider to be my hometown. From there, we drove over to my former Laurel leader's abode where we had a nice visit.

Then it was off to the former location of City Drug, the drugstore my dad used to manage while we lived in Ashton. No longer a drugstore, this store has been transformed into a deli\pizzeria. It is now known as 5-11, and it looks awesome. And the best part: they kept the original soda fountain intact.

I worked behind that soda fountain for a couple of years when I was in teeny-bopper mode. It was a popular hangout. We served sodas, malts, shakes, a variety of fountain drinks, and ice cream cones. The ice cream used was the real stuff. This produced strong muscles as I dug out the ice cream needed for each order. ;) True character building moments.

Back: Tammy & Moi; Front: Jan & Tawnie

Since none of us had eaten lunch, Jan, Derek, & I ordered a pizza while we were there. And as we were waiting for it to be prepared, two of our former high school buddies walked in. Tawnie also graduated in '79, and she had traveled to Ashton from Boise for our class reunion. It was awesome to see her. (She hasn't changed a bit since high school. She's also as hilarious as always.) While we were visiting with Tawnie and her hubby, in walked Tammy, a young lady we haven't seen in years. She was a year younger than the rest of us---but still a good high school friend.She played on the girls' basketball team with Tawnie & me. The four of us posed together as Derek (dubbed "photo-boy" most of the day\night.) took our picture. Tammy and her husband were in town because her father was in the hospital. While I was sad to hear that news, it was a neat coincidence that we all happened to be in the same place at the same time.

After enjoying a good visit and pizza, we left the 5-11 and drove north east to the location of the reunion, near the scenic Snake River. We enjoyed more good food & visits as we spent the next few hours strolling down memory lane.

I think it's important to reflect on where we came from, and then to ponder the growth that has taken place during the subsequent years. High school is a launching pad to the future. The choices we make can determine the path we'll follow throughout our lives.

There is a special bond between those who attend\survive high school together. We face that important transition between childhood and the adult world, learning significant lessons along the way.

I was blessed with wonderful friends during that era of my life. They were a big influence during a time when my world was filled with confusion. I don't think my friends ever knew how much of a stabilizing factor they were. My father struggled with serious health problems during my teen years. Normally a very kind-hearted man who served others in a gracious fashion, he was not himself when I was in high school. Because of his illness, there were times when he lashed out in an unreasonable fashion over silly things that didn't matter. Our family took the brunt of these outbursts. It was something I never talked about. It wasn't until after his death that we realized his behavior was a direct result of his condition.

How grateful I am that my friends filled an important void. They taught me crucial things that aided in the decisions I would make. Their encouragement and example would become pivotal lifelines on dark days. We laughed and cried together, although most of them never knew the cause of my tears. I will be forever grateful for their unconditional love and support.

Two of them are gone now---they left this mortal world much too soon. Glenda was taken from us compliments of an aneurysm. Verlene died of complications from lupus. Both were solid rocks and I will always honor their memory.Verlene was the first friend I made when my family moved to Ashton. She took me under her wing when I felt extremely lost and vulnerable. We were in the same ward and we often teamed up in silliness, much to our leaders' dismay. Glenda played on the girls' basketball team with me, and we served together during our senior year on the seminary council. Her quick wit and strong beliefs impacted me greatly. I look forward to a future reunion with both ladies when we can compare notes about our journey in mortal mode.

As I think about my high school friends, I know we missed out on numerous opportunities that were available in bigger schools. I don't think any of us would trade what we gained from attending a small school.
Dedicated teachers made a huge impact in our lives. The time spent together shaped us in a myriad of ways. The ties between us are eternal. This is why I'm already looking forward to our next reunion. It will be held in five years. We decided Saturday night that life is too uncertain---and we've already lost too many members of our graduating class to let too many years lag between reunions. We'll meet together soon and enjoy another opportunity to renew old friendships and relive a wonderful time in our lives.

As Derek and I drove back to his home in Rexburg late Saturday night, he commented on how neat he thought it was that we were all so laid back at our reunion. "None of you were there to impress each other." It's because there is no need. We are who we are, and we love each other for it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Reasons Why I Haven't Posted Lately

Hello to you! ;) It has been brought to my attention that I've missed blogging for several days in a row. Actually, I was aware of that fact . . . it has just been a really crazy couple of weeks. To atone, I will share a few pictures that will help illustrate why I've been away from my computer.

First, my husband took me on a surprise trip to Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho. The Snake River is about as full as we've ever seen it this year, so the falls are spectacular, as you can see above. It was my birthday that week, and this was a fun way to celebrate.

After enjoying the beautiful Shoshone Falls, we drove into Twin Falls, crossing Snake River Canyon over the the famed Perrine Bridge.

We stayed in Twin Falls that night, and wanted to hit a session at the fairly new Twin Falls Temple. But when we arrived, we learned that the sessions only run every 2 hours. So we settled for doing sealings instead. It was a wonderful way to start out my birthday.

After spending time in this beautiful temple, we changed, ate a bite of lunch at an impressive Chinese buffet, then we went exploring. We found the Perrine Falls. This waterfall is one of the longest I've ever seen. It starts at the top of Snake River Canyon and plummets to the ground below. This is what it looks like up close at the bottom:

We headed next to explore the Shoshone Indian Ice Caves, located north of Twin Falls. This was a fun adventure. It was so hot that day, the ice cave felt wonderful. It is about 40 degrees inside this cave. For a while, I felt like I could live there. ;)

We eventually headed home, after meeting up with Kennon's siblings and spouses at a favorite Greek Restaurant for dinner that night in Pocatello. Then we geared up for the weekend.

That weekend (July 10-12) a huge reunion on my mother's side of the family tree took place. My son, Derek, his wife, Kristen, and their cute little girl, Aari, came down on Friday. Saturday morning, we headed to nearby Bear Lake to enjoy a picnic, and to play in the sand and water. As you can see, Aari had a blast. So did her grandmother. =D

My mother then arrived at our abode that afternoon with her brother, his wife, and his m-i-l. We enjoyed a good visit, fun food, and prepared to head up to Star Valley for the annual James Lowery & Genevieve Sibbett reunion. A good time was had by all.

Above you can see some of my cousins, and their mother, one of my favorite aunts, singing a touching number. (Music is huge on this side of our family tree.)

After the reunion, we prepared for the annual girls' camp adventure that took place this past week in our stake. (July 14-17)This year we journeyed once again to Camp Honock, located near Soda Springs. Once again a good time was had by all.

And you'll be happy to know that there weren't any serious injuries this year. (Yep, we put up our huge cabin tent without it caving in on my head.) My oldest son, Kris, pictured above with his cute mommy, helped us out a ton as we put our campsite together.

All in all, it has been a crazy couple of weeks---and the craziness continues. In a few minutes, I'm leaving for Ashton, Idaho for my 30 year class reunion. Wow, how the time flies by.

I wish you all a safe, fun weekend, and I'll be back sometime next week.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 4th Celebration

What a fun, crazy weekend! I'm sure most of you can say the same thing. I suspect most of us were out celebrating the birth of our nation, enjoying family traditions and food. This year, we decided to make up some fun things to eat. We created shish-kebabs.

We grilled them outside and they cooked up in a hurry.

Here Devin is showing off the finished product.

We also made up a favorite triple-layer jello salad.

And to top everything off, we made homemade huckleberry ice cream. Jealous? ;)

Later we went into town and listened to a live band that was performing at the park. After that, we enjoyed the fireworks display that was launched from M-Hill in Montpelier. I forgot to bring in my camera, so I didn't get any cool shots that night.

All weekend I've been thinking about past 4th of July festivities and I realized that one of my favorite celebrations took place in Nauvoo, Illinois a couple of years ago. We had journeyed back to see all of the historical LDS sites that summer and happened to be in Nauvoo on the 4th of July. We started that day by taking a fun wagon ride around this beautiful city.

After that, we watched the 4th of July parade. It was smaller than our usual hometown parade, but it was still great to see. Most of the entries were compliments of the LDS missionaries who were serving in the area.

Above you'll see some of the actors & actresses from the Nauvoo Pageant.

And here is the famed Nauvoo Brass Band.

After the parade, we walked around a local craft fair and found all kinds of neat things, including some of the best home-made fudge ever. Then we traveled to nearby Carthage, Illinois and toured Carthage Jail. This was the second time that I've seen this heart-rending landmark. It tears at my heart whenever I think about what Joseph and Hyrum Smith suffered inside this jail. But there is a difference now. Since the completion of the new Nauvoo Temple, there is a feeling of peace in the area. That is what I experienced during most of the time we spent in Carthage. There is a sense of closure now that wasn't there before.

We left Carthage, and drove across the Mississippi River into nearby Keokuk. There we were privileged to watch as a huge barge traveled through a river lock and dam.

We returned to Nauvoo, grabbed a quick bite of lunch, then watched a rehearsal of the Nauvoo Pageant. We were leaving Nauvoo the next day to head to Adam-Ondi-Ahman and Liberty Jail, and since the pageant wasn't being performed the night of the 4th for obvious reasons, we were told to watch the afternoon rehearsal. It was an enjoyable performance, enacted below the temple.

My favorite part of the entire day took place that night. We gathered in front of the lighted Nauvoo Temple and watched the fireworks display that was launched across the Mississippi River.

I've always loved celebrating the 4th of July. My maternal grandfather was born on July 4th, so it was a traditional family gathering each year. We ate wonderful food, spent time visiting with everyone, and thoroughly enjoyed the fireworks at night. Flags were flown and waved as we remembered those who sacrificed so much to make this nation free. I found it ironic that on July 4, 2007, we also reflected on the sacrifices made by Joseph and his beloved brother, Hyrum as we visited the Nauvoo area. All of these sacrifices pale in comparison to the price our Savior paid for all of us. Things of worth seem to require a tremendous cost. I pray we'll always be grateful for those who were willing to lay down their lives on our behalf. Honoring their memory will help us keep the perspective we'll need to survive the days ahead.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Giving Life My Best Shot

As some of you know, I'm a Type 1 diabetic. I developed this chronic challenge while in college at the tender age of 19. Since I'm now 29, I've had it ten years. =D And if you believe that one . . . actually, for the record, I'm currently 47. I'll let you do the math. ;)

When I was first diagnosed, I was told helpful things like: "Hey, Mary Tyler Moore has it too." That was such a comfort . . . NOT!!! To me, it was a relief to finally be diagnosed. I had been sick for months and had dropped down to 88 pounds. I had experienced severe headaches and had started enduring minor seizures. Because of this, I had been told that I had likely developed a brain tumor. After series of brain scans revealed there was no tumor involved (just a bit of scar tissue from a handful of head injuries---something my youngest sister still teases me about, but I digress . . .) they then wondered if I had a form of epilepsy. I was placed on medication to control the seizures and the good doctors patted themselves on the back, figuring they had solved the puzzle. They hadn't . . . and I continued to be very ill.

Finally we were guided toward a gifted specialist in Salt Lake City, Dr. Elizabeth Atkins Tor. I remember her name clearly because she was the only one to ever call me "Cheddie Cane." (I was married by this point in time to Sir Kennon.) I believe Dr. Tor was from Switzerland, if memory serves, despite the scar tissue on my brain, (Ha, I said it before you did, Trudi), and she possessed a way cool accent.

She ran a few tests of her own, and then told me the following: I was Type 1 diabetic, I had every classic symptom, and because I was so far out of control with my blood sugar levels, I was experiencing seizures. (She wasn't the one who told me about Mary Tyler Moore. That was a local doctor who diagnosed me as a Type 1 diabetic, but then took it back when my blood sugar levels were normal for a couple of days in a row.) Dr. Tor explained the reason the local doctors had been confused---I had been enduring the "honeymoon stage" of Type 1 diabetes. During this stage, which can last several months, the pancreas hasn't fully died. It still puts out spurts of insulin.

By the time I saw Dr. Tor, my pancreas had pretty well given up the ship. I was hospitalized yet again for several days, taught to give myself insulin injections, and I spent hours learning about the roles that diet and exercise play in a diabetic's life. It was such a relief to finally know what was going on, I took the news about my condition rather well.

In the years that followed, I experienced several diabetic adventures. I learned to recognize the signs if my blood sugar plummeted to China. I also learned what it felt like when my level was too high. After several years of balancing insulin injections with my crazy life, I became an insulin pump patient. The insulin pump made things so much easier. I was no longer at the mercy of differing forms of insulin that peaked at interesting times. The pump acted more like my original pancreas, and I wasn't on such a tight schedule.

Each insulin pump lasts about 4-5 years before things go haywire. I believe I'm currently utilizing pump # 5. And along the way I've learned the following:

1) Wearing an insulin pump in my bra is a bad idea, even if there is plenty of room. Spontaneous hugs tend to embed said pump into the chest realm which is a bit painful.

2) Intense heat can cause the insulin inside the pump to gel. This is so not cool. Not only does it cause tremendously high blood sugar levels as a result, but it makes a huge mess out of the reservoir that stores the insulin.

3) Airport people tend to think you're wearing a bomb when you try to pass through inspection. Most humiliating.

4) The pump will beep loud warnings on occasion. This is always helpful when you're sitting in a quiet meeting. I've learned to look around like everyone else whenever this happens to me. ;)

5) One has to be very careful when putting on or taking off pantyhose if the pump IV site happens to be in either leg. Yes, I've ripped out several sites in this fashion.

6) The insulin pump has prevented me from developing numerous complications that sometimes go along with diabetes and I love it dearly, despite all of the adventures.

Several years ago, a good friend and I started up a county diabetic support group. The local hospital supported this effort and we held most of our meetings in a hospital board room. It was our goal to help those who were also struggling with this disease to realize there is life after being diagnosed. We brought in doctors, nurses, showed important videos, and led discussions regarding the latest technology. We spent hours working with newly diagnosed diabetics who were overwhelmed by all that goes along with this particular challenge.

Truthfully, it is something you deal with every day. You quickly learn that everything affects your blood sugar level--pain, illness, stress, heat . . . everything. It's like a balancing act that never ends. You can eat and exercise exactly the same way two days in a row, and never achieve the same blood sugar levels on those days.

It was explained to me that our bodies absorb some of the insulin that we give through shots, or the insulin pump. So on those days, the body doesn't use the amount of insulin given, causing higher blood sugar levels. Then on random days, these insulin bubbles pop, adding to the insulin already given that day. So on those days, you run low for no reason at all.

Despite the best efforts, there is no way to achieve perfect control. Good control, yes, perfect control, no. Keeping a sense of humor about it all is crucial.

Sometimes though, despite the best attitude in the world, despite monumental efforts to keep everything balanced, the unthinkable happens. This past week, I lost a very dear diabetic friend. He had been part of our support group for years, one of those who cheered us all with his positive attitude. Dean was one of the first diabetics that Denise and I tried to help. Then once he got the hang of things, he did his best to help us help others. We will miss him greatly. I've been mourning his loss all week. Today, however, the sun seems to shine a little brighter and I've decided that to honor his memory, I will continue the battle. We used to tease each other about fighting the good fight. And though, he is no longer fighting at my side, I know he will be checking in on his diabetic buddies from time to time---and I don't want to disappoint him. I will continue this challenging balancing act. I will continue giving life my best shot.