Monday, December 12, 2011

Why I Never Took Part in Another School Christmas Pageant

This time of year has always been one of my favorites. As a child, (and an adult) I thoroughly enjoyed decorating the house, making Christmas cookies, and singing Christmas carols.Taking part in Christmas productions at school was another highlight that filled my heart with Christmas cheer.

One year while I was in elementary school, I was asked to portray the part of Mary in the school play. This could've been because I was one of the few girls my age who still had long, dark hair, (Pixie cuts were all the rage that year) but I also suspect the fact that my aunt happened to be my teacher had a lot more to do with it. ;) Regardless, I was thrilled and during rehearsals, I strived to live up to the expectations of this starring role.

The day of the much anticipated performance finally came. The night before I had been so excited, I could hardly sleep. When I woke up, I experienced waves of nausea, and was terribly unamused. This couldn't  be happening. I was supposed to be Mary that day!

I quickly dressed and hurried into the kitchen. Then I sat down on a chair to keep from collapsing onto the floor. By then I knew I had caught a vicious stomach bug that had been going around the school for a couple of weeks. The thought made me sicker than I already was. People were depending on me--I had a starring role. I had looked forward to this event for weeks and I wasn't about to let my uncooperative body ruin things for me.

Somehow I made it through breakfast--with the help of our family dog. I slipped her most of what was on my plate that morning. My mother had been so busy getting everyone else ready for the day that she hadn't noticed I was tilting sideways. It wasn't until she was helping me fix my hair for the play that she caught on that I was a bit pale. She asked if I was feeling all right and I assured her I was fine. She then counseled me to quit being so nervous, assuming that was the cause of the slightly green tint, and she continued helping me get ready.

I'm amazed I survived the bus ride to school. Plagued by a tendency to develop motion sickness under normal circumstances, the added nausea from the stomach bug was almost more than I could bear, but I was so determined to be the best Mary this school had ever seen, I gritted my teeth and forced my body to behave.

I arrived at the school, and hurried into the girls restroom where I splashed cold water on my face to ease the queasiness. Then I went into the classroom and laid my head down on my desk to make the world quit spinning.

Now I realize I shouldn't have attempted taking part in the school production that day--but in my seven-year-old mind, this was the most important thing that had ever come into my life. I had been picked to portray Mary, the mother of Jesus. It seemed like my entire world was centered on successfully seeing this part through to the finish.

The rest of that morning is pretty much a blur. I do remember my aunt asking if I was feeling all right, and I gave her the same answer I had shared with my mother earlier: "I'm fine." Then I forced a weak smile, hoping it looked convincing.

During lunch hour, I nibbled on a piece of bread, then when the lunch lady wasn't looking, I gave away most of the food on my tray to my friends, and threw the rest into the garbarge. My friends assumed I was experiencing a form of stage fright, and were only too happy to consume the special treats that had been prepared for us that day.

It was finally time for the production. All of our parents (mostly our mothers since our dads were still at work) arrived to cheer us on. I quickly dressed in the traditional Mary costume, experiencing a mixture of excitement, extreme nausea, and a bit of nervousness. This was the biggest part I had ever been assigned in a school production and I was determined to give it everything I had.

My mother sneaked in to where I was getting ready to make sure I was doing okay. She again commented on how pale I was and asked me a final time if I was all right. Assuring her that I was, I picked up the doll that would be playing the part of Jesus that day, and we hurried back into the room where everyone else had gathered.

The play progressed nicely that afternoon. All went well until it was time for me lay the baby Jesus into the small manger. Then disaster struck. The nausea I had been doing my best to ignore would no longer be denied. When I realized my body was taking the driver's seat, I dropped the doll into the manger, and ran off the small stage, but didn't quite make it out of the room in time.

Mortified by the mess I had made  . . . of everything . . . I ran into the girls' restroom to hide. My mother followed, and graciously helped me clean up. My aunt took care of the new carpet I had all but ruined in the other room. I heard later from some of my friends that she had not been amused by my performance, and was upset by the condition of the new carpet. (It was a brand new school we had moved into that fall. I have the honor of being the first kid who stained some of the new carpet.)

Later when I was lying in the comfort of my bed at home, I pulled a pillow over my face and cried, convinced I had ruined Christmas for everyone. I had shamed my family in a public fashion, desecrated the role of Mary, and ticked off my aunt. My life was in ruins . . . or so I thought.

My family rallied around me, my parents and younger siblings (I was the oldest in our clan) offering sympathy and love despite my less than stellar performance. My brother even commented on how cool it was that I had barfed in front of everyone. Boys always see things differently, even at that young age.

By Christmas Eve, I was feeling better, and my mother asked me to play the part of Mary in our own family production of the traditional Christmas Story. Donning a different costume (the other one was understandably thrown away) I gravely did my best to portray the mother of our Savior. With my brother playing the part of Joseph, our younger sister representing the shepherds, and our baby sister taking the part of the infant Jesus, we solemnly acted out the miraculous birth of our Elder Brother. My dad read from the book of Luke, and our mother furnished the piano accompaniment for songs like "The First Noel," "Silent Night," and "O, Little Town of Bethlehem." The only one in the audience that night was our chihuahua, Teeny, but she seemed very impressed by our performance.

I've never forgotten the sacred feeling I experienced that night. Though my life was in shambles, I still felt the love of our Savior during that Christmas season. And by the time I returned to school to start the new year, everyone had moved past my unfortunate performance . . . with the exception of my aunt who still had a pained look whenever she glanced my direction . . . and a young boy my age who was as impressed by my eruption as my brother. He later asked me to be his girlfriend. ;)

I learned some great lessons from that experience--the importance of never pushing one's body past the point of no return, boys are weird, and the love of our Savior is very real. May we all reflect upon His great love for us, and share it with others this holiday season. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Exciting New Way to Read Books Online

A few weeks ago I was contacted about an exciting new website, something called, Big World Network. This online reading service is provided at no cost. Anyone interested can read or listen to books that will be posted as a weekly series. Each week another episode or chapter from the book of your choice will be featured. This is similar to how popular series are followed on television, but in book form.

Books are rated based on content, which is a handy way to know if a certain book is one you would be interested in reading, or listening to, compliments of the audio form that is also available. Currently, fifteen books are listed for perusal. E-mail subscriptions are also being offered, which is a handy way to be notified when the next installment of the book you've selected is available. This way you will have immediate access when the next chapter or episode is released.

For writers, this is another way to expose your newest work to online readers, increasing the readership for your books. Submissions can be sent to this website for possible inclusion on their website.

I think this is a great way for new writers and established writers alike to secure online exposure, and an exciting new twist to online reading. Be sure to check out the website on this link: Click here and see what you think about this new online venue.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review: "Bitter Blessings"

The clock in the kitchen pounded out the seconds, and the neighbor's wind chimes clanged their chaotic melody until I thought my brain would explode, and then, finally, Gram said, "There was an accident on the highway this afternoon. Your mother was in it." And the world collapsed around me
. . . again.

This except from the new book, Bitter Blessings, caught my attention immediately. Found on the back cover, it left me feeling intrigued and despite my busy schedule the day this book arrived, I found time to read the first couple of chapters. Then the storyline managed to nag at me continuously until I finished the rest of the book.

Filled with twists and turns, this first time novel by Christine Mehring, provokes empathy and deep-seated emotions. Your heart will go out to the main characters who appear very real. I suspect we all know people who resemble the grandmother, and the three sisters. Their neighbor and friend, Adam, is the sort of kid we all long to meet: down-to-earth and helpful without being pushy.

This book appealed to me on many levels: as a young adult, my entire world was turned upside down by the actions of a family member. (My father died in a tragic manner when I was 22.) I related so much to what these three siblings were enduring with the loss of another parent. I understood how difficult it is to sort through the emotions that at times, tear you apart. Each sister grieved in a different way as they tried to make sense of a trial that made no sense at all. And on top of everything else, a mystery regarding their father, someone they thought was deceased, is thrown into the mix.

If you are looking for a good read, a novel that will keep you turning pages, then this is a book you will want to snatch up and savor. It's one I plan to reread in the near future--and that should tell you something. (I don't often read the same book twice unless it really impresses me.) 

Bitter Blessings will appeal to all ages, with an emphasis toward the youth. I think it's good for young people to read books that focus on the challenges that sometimes go with life. Not only will this novel inspire gratitude for their own home situations, but for those who are enduring similar trials, it can touch tender hearts in a good and positive way with messages like the importance of forgiveness when bad choices are made, and perseverance when heartache descends.

You can purchase Bitter Blessings by clicking on this link: CLICK ON ME

Monday, November 14, 2011

Walking the Tightrope of Diabetes

Lately I've been trying to get all of my proverbial ducks in a row, with regard to health. I am a Type 1 diabetic--a challenging condition I've endured for 31 years. Some would say that I've beaten the odds to live this long with diabetes and not have any major complications. To them I would have to say: "Attitude is everything!" ;)

I do not have perfect control of my blood sugar levels--the closest I ever came to that goal was during three pregnancies that produced three healthy sons. During that era, I kept a food diary, recording everything I ate, what time I ate, how much insulin I gave, how much I exercised, and what all of the food counts were. In short, I gave each pregnancy full attention and did amazingly well, all things considered.

Most days I simply do the best that I can. I try to balance carb counts with insulin and mix in exercise to counter fluctuating levels. The challenge for most of us who deal with this disease is the fact that everything affects our blood sugar levels. If I have a cold, my level runs rock bottom low, no matter what I do. If I have the stomach flu--that level runs high, even though I can't usually eat anything. If I'm in severe pain, the level runs low. If I have inflammation anywhere, it runs high. During the summer months, my levels run lower because of the heat. And as you might guess, during the winter months, those levels soar, so on and so forth. I was also told that there will days when "insulin bubbles" (Insulin the body stores for some strange unknown reason) can randomly burst, causing an insulin reaction from hades without warning.In short: this is a challenging disease and there are days when you feel like throwing your hands in the air and walking away.

For numerous years, I ran a diabetic support group for the diabetics in our county. I did this with the help of a very good friend who was also a Type 1 diabetic like me. The support group was actually Denise's idea. Once we both started seeing the same specialist who gave us "HOPE" for a brighter future--more so than we had ever received from any other doctor, she wanted us to share that positive message with other diabetics who were also struggling.

We met during monthly meetings at the nearby city hall, and later in a special room at the local hospital. We provided special inservice meetings with doctors, nurses, etc. We ran booths at the two health fairs held annually in our community, and met with newly diagnosed diabetics to help them realize they could live a full and productive life despite this illness.

You can imagine how Denise's death earlier this year affected us all. (She was 49) I've heard from a few of the younger Type 1's that we tried to help. Some are in panic mode. "But you two said we could live a long, normal life!" Etc. & so forth. After Denise's death, my blood pressure soared for a time, something it has never done before. (My blood pressure has always been good: most days it clocks in at 110 over 70.) And I've experienced a couple of other health glitches that have made me realize I need to slow down . . . a lot . . . at least for now.

Dealing with Type 1 diabetes is like walking a tightrope. One slip can mean a painful consequence, and unfortunately, complications, and sometimes death. We keep trying to move ahead on that thin wire, knowing that each step we make is crucial. Our balancing tools include: checking our blood sugar level often, counting carbs, and working in a bit of exercise. We all try to do the best that we can, and not allow ourselves to get overwhelmed in the process.

I've found that regardless of the challenge, attitude is everything, as stated above. Stress of any kind causes my blood sugar level to run high. So I have to keep stress to a minimum. Maintaining a positive outlook aids this process greatly. And I've started something new the past couple of months--I meditate each morning for about ten minutes. My version of meditation probably varies from the world's, but it works for me. I spend ten minutes listening to soothing music (usually "Calm-Meditation" from Pandora) and watch a computerized slideshow of nature shots that I've taken through the years with my trusty camera. I focus on my breathing and attempt to relax my entire body. I can't believe how much better I feel each day. The best news: my blood pressure level has returned to normal. My blood work was in the normal range last month. Now I have to tackle getting my blood sugar levels back under better control.

I am determined to continue walking this tightrope called diabetes. =D It's rather lonely, carrying that baton by myself now (someday Denise and I will talk about how she bailed on me in an untimely manner) but I have to think that it was simply her time to leave this mortal sphere. We've both endured too many near misses in the past to ever think otherwise.

My new goal: To live another 30 years with this challenging condition--thus proving to our younger Type 1's that this can be done. For a while, I may be cutting out other things to bring my life into better focus. (My entire family has been trying to teach me a handy two-letter word for years, something I'm finally starting to use.) I'm no longer trying to be "Wonder Woman," as I simply strive to be "Tight-Rope Girl." And in the end, perhaps the two titles will combine as I work harder than ever to stifle the effects of this disease.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween & Make Room for Thanksgiving!

Cool, I get to blog on yet another holiday. Halloween has always been one of my favorites. As a child, it meant getting to wear a fun costume, and going trick-or-treating--I.E. getting that important yearly stash of candy. ;) It also meant the beginning of the holiday season. Even as a child, I understood that once Halloween had come and gone, the traditional turkey day, Thanksgiving, was just around the corner, and then the all-important event, Christmas!!! It was indeed a fun time of year.

As an adult, I can truthfully say that I still enjoy this time of year. Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. It's not too hot (especially when it snows early on) and the trees are gorgeous in the nearby canyons. Plus as the holidays approach, one by one, I get to decorate for each occasion, and fix fun food.

My oldest son came home over the weekend and he was pleased to see that despite the craziness of my life at the moment, I had still managed to decorate the house for Halloween. True, my decorations possibly fall into the "sappy" category (I tend to go for humor and light-hearted fun, not the morbid stuff that is also available for Halloween decor) but that's how I like it.

Tomorrow, I'll take down the Halloween decorations, and put up all of my Thanksgiving ornamentation. Thanksgiving is also an important family holiday for our clan, since some of our ancestors were there for that famed first gathering between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. (We actually have ancestors from both sides of the table.)

I only have one complaint this time of year---have you noticed how Thanksgiving gets crowded out of things these days? In the stores you can see that it's already going from Halloween to Christmas. It makes me want to drag out my little blue stool I use to work on the garden, stand upon it, and protest--"WHAT ABOUT THANKSGIVING?!!!" I was raised with an understanding that this time of year, following the harvest, etc. it's important to offer gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving in our clan has always been of greater importance than Halloween, and almost as wonderful as Christmas.

True, during these stressful times, when most families are being hit with so many challenges, it can be difficult, coming up with a list of items to be grateful for, but I believe that an attitude of gratitude is crucial to survive the days ahead. I suspect during that first Thanksgiving, hearts were fairly tender. My 11th great-grandmother (Elizabeth Tilley) was no doubt still grieving over the loss of her parents after that first, disastrous winter in the new Pilgrim colony. Her mother perished in 1620, and her father passed away a couple of months later during the January of 1621. I'm sure it was a difficult thing for fourteen-year-old newly orphaned Elizabeth to sit down to a small feast that celebrated life and harvest during the fall of 1621, and yet, she did. She later married another Pilgrim survivor, John Howland, and together they raised a large family that included my 10th great-great grandmother, Hope Howland. I'm sure this young lady was aptly named. ;)

So as Halloween activities wind down after tonight, let's all take a moment to consider the blessings in our lives. Make room between Halloween and Christmas for Thanksgiving. Today's wordly wisdom would have us skip over this important celebration of gratitude. Perhaps if more of us protested this trend, our nation would notice that Thanksgiving is much more than another chance to feast. It is a time of year when we need to extend our gratitude to the One who makes everything possible in our lives.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hope Smiling Brightly

It would be an understatement to say that life is crazy right now, filled with challenges and heartaches for so many people. Everywhere I look I see neighbors, friends, and family members bravely facing uphill battles as they strive to continue forward on their journey through life.

The trials faced vary: scary health conditions, financial worries, the loss of loved ones, family distress, and in some instances, overwhelming schedules that seem impossible to maintain. The adversary is also pulling out all of the stops to destroy self-esteem, marriages, and families. We are truly living in the latter-days and the war for souls is raging all around us in an intense manner that can fill the bravest hearts with fear and despair.

These days I'm often reminded of a scene from one of my favorite books, "The Return of the King," by J.R.R. Tolkien. Towards the end of the story, all seems lost. Death and mayhem are taking place everywhere as the battle between good and evil rages. As the fight continues, it becomes apparent that the forces for good are dwindling, and yet the survivors cling to the hope that they will triumph, despite overwhelming odds. The way is being paved for the return of the king, who will restore all that has been lost. Keeping that goal in mind, one by one, the main characters of this book push on, refusing to give up, despite the wounds sustained.

One brave small hobbit named Frodo feels as if he holds the fate of the world in his tiny hands. He risks everything that he is to push forward toward a goal that terrifies him, and yet, he knows that is the only way to banish the evil foe that threatens all he holds dear. It takes everything he can do to press on, and he reaches a point where he feels as though he can't take one more step. That is when his trusted friend, Sam, practically carries him up that final mountain. There Frodo battles with himself and finally achieves his goal, his courageous stance halting the adversary in his tracks.

It is my belief that we are all doing our best to climb the terrifying mountains that lie before us. We are not making that climb alone. Loved ones from the other side of the veil are cheering us on, every step of the way. When we stumble, neighbors, friends, and family members walk at our side, helping us to continue on. And when it all becomes too much, we are carried by the One who walked that pathway before us.

The other day as I silently grieved for all that a dear friend is currently facing, the following lyrics popped into my head:

When dark clouds of trouble hang o'er us, and threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us, and we know that deliverance is nigh--

It took me a few minutes to figure out which hymn those inspired words came from. These lyrics are from the second verse of hymn # 19, "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet." The inspired message of that sacred hymn brought a ray of hope into my life, filling my heart with a sense of comforting peace.

It is true: we are led by a prophet of God. If we will heed his counsel, we will not fail. Though our challenges today seem overpowering, we can continue forward with hope in our hearts. We were all saved for this current day for a reason. Our Father knew we possessed the talents, courage, and fortitude that would be necessary to succeed. Step by step, we will triumph, even when the battle rages all around. Through hope, faith, and charity, we will place the armor of God upon us, courageously facing the challenges that come into our lives during this mortal journey. Bear in mind we are paving the way for the return of our King, when all will be restored, and sorrowing tears will be dried. Until that day comes, look for the good. Do those things that will inspire peace of heart and mind, knowing our focus shouldn't rest upon the many wounds we've sustained along the way--how well we embraced hope when all seemed lost is what will matter most.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Temple in Star Valley, Wyoming!

I think I'm still in shock over the announcement that was made during the Saturday morning LDS Conference session. I was listening closely to President Monson as my husband and I were traveling to spend the weekend with loved ones in Utah. I smiled over each new temple site that was mentioned. In my opinion, our prophet saved the best news for last: a temple is to be built in Star Valley, Wyoming!!!

Star Valley has been like a second home for me since childhood. My mother grew up in Star Valley, which is only about 45 miles away from my current home. I spent many summers staying with my grandparents in this magical place. My mother has often commented through the years that returning to Star Valley is like recharging one's internal batteries. I totally agree. This beautiful area is such a peaceful place, surrounded by forest laden mountains, beautiful lakes and streams, and filled with down-to-earth people who work hard and play hard.

When I heard the news, I called my mother, who was doing the dance of joy in her living room. She had been listening to this same conference session and was so excited. She had never envisioned an LDS Temple in her former stomping grounds. She can hardly wait to attend the future dedication for this soon-to-be wonder.

Very soon after I talked to my mother about this news, I called my daughter-in -law, who also happens to hail from Star Valley. She was just as excited as my mother and I were over this announcement. She had just talked to her mother, who still lives in the area and told me that her mother was so happy she was crying over the news.

The closest temple to the Star Valley region lies in Idaho Falls, Idaho. That is where all of the temple ordinances have taken place for my mother's side of the family tree. To know that one will now be built in the Star Valley region is a dream come true, and the first temple to be built in the wonderful state of Wyoming!

Star Valley is part of the 7 stake region in our current neck of the woods. So for my husband and I, having a temple in Star Valley will be a wonderful thing. The closest temple for us lies in Logan, Utah, which is approximately 70 miles away. As I mentioned earlier, this new temple will be about 45 miles away, cutting the distance traveled by those in our area.

I will probably be doing the dance of joy started by my mother for quite some time. It still doesn't seem real, and probably won't until we see the spires of this future edifice. =) What a wonderful time we live in, despite all of the challenges! These new temples that are being built will affect many lives for the better. Numerous blessings will take place as a result of these inspired decisions--truly a sign that we are loved and watched over in more ways than any of us can imagine!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Woman Who Lived

(Not that I have much in common with Harry Potter, but we've both survived some interesting things.) I've heard that certain adventures come in threes. In our neck of the woods, this is not always a good thing. ;) But in this particular instance, perhaps it is. In less than 3 months, I've survived 3 separate adventures that could have been life-threatening. Last night was the third such incident.

I won't bore you with many details of the first two brushes with death. The first one involved a 4-wheeler roll-over, if that gives you any idea. ;) I was truly watched over that day: my worst injury was a severely bruised hip that was also knocked out of place. Once it was prodded back into alignment, life was much better, although it still lets me know from time to time that getting wedged between a tree and a rolling 4-wheeler is not a very cool thing to do.

The second incident took place after a busy day of running about. I had experienced 4-5 insulin reactions in a row (I'm a type 1 diabetic) and evidently my body was once again not amused. I can usually push through to accomplish what I need to do, even on days when I feel less than wonderful. On this day, my body pushed back . . . and scared me into realizing I need to slow down . . . a lot.

Then last night happened . . . and the fact that I'm sitting here typing this blog is evidence that we don't leave this mortal sphere until it's our time to go. Just sayin' . . .

So there I was, minding my business, watching the nine o'clock news. Suddenly it dawned on me that I needed to unhook the hose from a faucet in the front yard. Earlier, my husband (who was working a midnight shift that night) and I had agreed to take some safety measures to keep the faucets from being ruined by frost, since the temperature was supposed to reach around 27 degrees that night. When the news was over, I walked into the utility room to slip on some shoes to take care of this task.

I thought about going out through the garage, which would have saved me from what happened next, but decided it would be simpler to return to the living room and exit out the front door. I reasoned that all of our pets were safely tucked into bed in the garage and I would just disturb them if I took that route. Opening the front door, I quickly shut it behind me to prevent the moths from zooming inside. The porch light was still on, and they were doing their nightly frantic dance of trying to perish in the fire.

It wasn't until after the door was shut that it dawned on me that I had just locked myself out of the house. Our door handle is the type that allows you to exit, even when it's locked. Shrugging this off as a minor inconvenience, I figured I could find another way back in, and I unhooked the hose from the faucet. Then I jiggled the front door, and found that it was indeed locked. I tried the front walk-in door to the garage next, and it was locked, too. I fiddled with both garage doors, but they were both sealed tight.

Walking around to the back yard, I was still refusing to panic. Surely I could enter from the back door to the garage, and if it was already locked, I could access the extra key we keep outside. Au contraire. The back door was indeed locked tight, and the key that was supposed to be in its usual place outside, was hanging inside the house. I had used it two days earlier to enter the house and had forgotten to replace it. Strike two.

My next thought was that I could open the French doors that lead into the dining room, but when I tried that option, I discovered I had been quite adept at locking things up for the night. All of the windows were shut, and all of the doors were locked, and this is when it dawned on me how serious my situation was.

Now, normally, we keep our camper locked, but luckily for me, as it turned out, it (unlike everything else) was unlocked. We had been unloading stuff from it all week from our recent camping adventure in Yellowstone Park, and hadn't bothered to lock it up. I climbed inside the camper and found a handy flashlight. Taking it with me, I retried all of the doors to the house. By then it was about 10:20 p.m. I glanced hopefully at our next door neighbors' abode, but couldn't tell if there were any lights on. I walked over, silently praying that someone would be up still, but when I arrived, I could see that all of the lights were out inside the house. Most uncool. I knew they had already gone to bed, since my neighbor's husband had to be up around 4:30 a.m to go to work. I glanced down the street and saw that another neighbor's house was also cloaked in darkness, and wondered what was up with everyone going to bed on time for once.

Here was my dilemma: not only was it cold and I was not wearing a jacket or coat since my little chore was only supposed to take a couple of minutes, but I had also given myself a hefty bolus of insulin around 9:30 p.m. For some reason my blood sugar level had been rather high the last time I had checked, and so I had given about 4 units of insulin to bring it down into the normal range. I had figured that I would eat a snack before bed and all would be well. Now all of the circumstances had changed and I knew I was in trouble. The only thing I had access to eat outside were the sour apples from our tree in the front yard (and they are really sour this year) and I wasn't sure they would provide enough carbs if my blood sugar plummeted. Some of my worst reactions take place in the middle of the night--so you can understand my concern, especially after what I'd endured about 3 weeks ago.

I weighed my options and decided I would continue trying to break into my house, since everything I needed was inside. I knew if I had to, I could sleep inside the camper--it had a furnace and I knew how to turn it on and set it to a comfortable range. The bedding we had used while in Yellowstone was all still in place, but the camper had been stripped of all food sources, and that was the major concern.

I spent a good 40 minutes or so trying to get in through the French doors. I figured that was my best bet, since it would be easy to enter the house from that location. Reluctant to break the glass, I tried to jimmy the door handle. I knew we could easily replace it, but I was unable to find our crowbar. It would amuse you to see the assortment of tools I dragged out of the shed to try damaging the door handle--everything from a wrench, to a large set of pruning sheers, to a heavy maul, which was my last resort if I couldn't open the door through breaking the handle. I knew it was heavy enough to break the glass if needed.

The stupid handle wouldn't budge. I discovered that my house is much like a fortress when everything is locked up tight. This means I'm much safer than I ever assumed when here alone at night, but I digress. ;) I moved down to the room we're turning into a kid's guest room and saw that a piece of the curtain was caught in the window. This gave me false hope, as I assumed that I could somehow open the window and climb inside. I quickly removed the screen from this window, then had to retreat to the camper to find a butter knife---the window wouldn't budge. It was locked up as tight as Fort Knox, and even with the butter knife . . . which busted in half I might mention, I wasn't able to get that window to move at all.

I tried one of the side windows to the front room bay window, but after removing its screen, I saw that it was locked up tight, too, and wouldn't budge. I had thought if I could open it, I could slip at least a hand inside and try to unlock the front door. It didn't dawn on me until this morning that my arms weren't long enough, nor are they made of rubber. It would've taken a talented contortionist to reach that door handle.

Many prayers had been offered silently throughout this adventure, and I'm sorry to say that I began losing hope. It was growing colder; by then it was almost midnight and I was still unable to remedy my situation. I knew that any of my neighbors would've been happy to help, but I was reluctant to bother them, unless I had no choice. So I walked around my house, praying once again for guidance and help. Then I saw it--the kitchen window wasn't latched like all of the other windows.

I am not a tall person. In stocking feet I stand at 5'2". I had been using a decrepit sawhorse to reach the other windows to our house, and I had already fallen off once already, scraping up one leg. I was hesitant to climb on the sawhorse again, but there was no other choice; all of our ladders were nestled in the safety of the garage.

So I dragged the saw horse over by the smaller kitchen window (naturally it was smaller than all of our other windows) and climbed carefully onto the crumbling wood, hoping it would sustain me. I was quite aware that if I fell and broke something, it would only make matters worse. Once again, I popped a screen out of the window. Then I used a second butter knife retrieved from the camper to pry the window open. I was so elated when it finally pushed open, I nearly cheered for joy. Then I realized that while I had been able to reach up enough to open the window, I was not high enough to even think about trying to climb in through that window, nor was I certain that I would fit through that small opening.

As I stood on top of the sawhorse, filled with dismay, it was like someone whispered inside my head: "Think. Now you can access something you need." I looked again through the open window and saw that a partial loaf of freshly made banana bread was lying on a nearby counter, wrapped in a plastic bag. I carefully removed the curtains that were hanging in the window, and used the curtain rod to drag the banana bread to where I could reach it. I felt an immediate sense of peace and knew that my prayers had indeed been heard. Now I had something I could use if my blood sugar dropped.

I made two more trips to that window to retrieve water (a small pitcher was still located in the camper. This proved to be very useful, since we had already drained all of the water out of the camper) and some medication that I needed that happened to be sitting on the window sill.

I spent what remained of the night in the camper. I made use of most of the bedding to stay warm, and turned on the camper furnace, hoping the propane wouldn't run out before morning arrived.

It wasn't the most restful night I've ever had, but I stayed warm, I had access to something that would help if my blood sugar tanked, and I was safe. I had survived a perilous situation that in my case, could've been life-threatening. If I had fallen off that sawhorse and broken something, no one would've known I was in trouble. My cell phone was inside the house, resting on the comfortable couch, along with my glucose monitor.

I learned a lot from last night's adventure: always check the door handle before exiting the house; keep the spare key outside where it belongs; listen to promptings; & trust in God. Prayers are indeed answered, but not often in the way we envision. I had believed all along that I would find a way inside my house last night. It was with great reluctance that I gave in to the plan that actually saved my life. A way was provided, and that prayer for help was answered, proof once again that during our most critical moments, we are never alone.

Before I went to sleep, huddled inside the camper, I wondered if any of my pioneer ancestors had been watching my attempts at survival. I smiled, certain that some of them were blaming each other for my obvious lack of intelligence, since what happened was once again my fault. ;) But there was also a sense that just maybe, some of them were proud of my efforts to survive, a trait I'm sure they passed down through the generations. I am certain that some of their determination exists in many of their posterity, and that is what will get us all through these crazy latter days, when we don't know from one day to the next what challenges life will bring our way.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Review: The Latter Rain

I was recently asked to review an exciting new book called, "The Latter Rain," written by James M. Conis. When I was approached about doing a review of this book, I was thrilled. I appreciate symbolism in books, and will confess I'm an armchair scripturist. (It's a word. I looked it up. It means: One who is strongly attached . . . to the scriptures. Click on this link to see more: scripturist.)  I've often longed to comprehend the writings of Isaiah--so to have access to a great reference tool like this is wonderful.

As I've read through "The Latter Rain," I've been so impressed by the interpretations made by James Conis. In an easy-to-read format, he breaks down scriptures from Isaiah and other books of scripture (Like Daniel, Ezekiel, etc.) and points to a pattern that truly does help the reader understand important concepts. He uses the imagery of rain throughout the book, pointing to the numerous scripture references that indicate the gospel of Jesus Christ is like a refreshing rain. He shows that whenever gospel truths are shunned, a famine of epic proportions takes place, and the scriptural imagery of drought is emphasized.

Drawing on scriptural metaphors, Conis makes quite a case in support of LDS doctrine. He never refers to the LDS Church, but everything points that direction. For anyone who is LDS, they will recognize the interpretations that indicate a need for a restoration of the full gospel of Jesus Christ. For others, it will be a unique way of learning why there is such a need for "Latter Rain," or a flooding into today's parched world of important gospel truths.

This book has been a huge influence on how I look at the scriptures. Several years ago, I formed the habit of reading the scriptures before retiring for the night. Two nights ago I stumbled upon a scripture reference regarding other worlds. When I looked at the cross references, a scripture from Job was mentioned. I eagerly turned to it, and it gave me a reference to Isaiah regarding this same doctrine. I read that entire chapter of Isaiah, and found another scripture that alludes to other worlds. Scripture passages that might not have popped out at me in a clear manner, were making sense. From Conis' book, I have learned to delve deeper into the symbolism Isaiah, and other books of scripture contain.

I would have to say that this book, "The Latter Rain," is possibly one of the most important books that I've ever reviewed. As I've been putting this blog post together, an analogy has come to mind with regard to this handy reference tool: it's like a light being flipped on in a darkened room. This is a book for anyone who is serious about studying the scriptures and recognizing important insights. In the author's own words, taken from page 304:

"The purpose of this book has been to establish truth using the symbols and types derived from an analysis of the Book of Isaiah. We used Isaiah's writings to elucidate truth and derive knowledge from the other books of the Holy Bible."

Some of you may be wondering what makes James M. Conis such an expert. On the page that shares about the author it reveals:

Mr. Conis' interest in the scriptures began when he took a course on the New Testament at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The main lecturer for the course was an orthodox Jewish professor, while the recitation sections for the class were taught by lecturers from Christian faiths. The resulting dynamic of this course created deep philosophical questions concerning the doctrines and truths found in the Bible and those espoused by modern-day religion. This led to a life-long quest on the part of Mr. Conis to understand the true meaning intended by the ancient prophets.

I would have to say that Mr. Conis has indeed done his homework with regard to the writings of Isaiah. The symbols he interprets ring true. The best part--throughout the book, he encourages the reader to pray about the truths learned, to discover on an individual basis whether this doctrine is valid.

You can purchase this book by using this link: BUY THIS BOOK  And here is a fun link to the author's website regarding this book: BUY THIS BOOK USING THIS LINK. If you read his blog and use the online coupon code TOUR when you check out, using the links available on that blog, you will receive 20 % off the original price.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Two New & Exciting Books

Today I'm pleased to introduce two new books that I was recently given a chance to review. The first one touches on a popular four-letter word: DIET. Yes, you heard right, I said the dreaded, "D" word. It's something I've lived with for a long time as a Type 1 diabetic. For years I've tried very hard to count carbs and behave with regard to food consumption. I've clung to the belief that sticking to a 45 carb per meal approach is the way to go and I have avoided all of the fad diets that numerous family members and friends have touted. None of them have ever appealed to me or seemed like a healthy alternative. I've never been impressed with any of them . . . until now. I'm happy to say that the book, "All Diets Work: that's the problem," is a wonderful approach to the age old problem of losing weight in a healthy fashion.

Written by Jen Brewer, an inspired dietician, "All Diets Work," offers 25 tools to help us lose weight in a manner our bodies will like. I love Jen's proposal: "Stop dieting . . . & start eating in a way that helps your body become the healthy, strong body that you want." Jen's wisdom and fun sense of humor shine throughout this 132 page book. I'll share some snippets as an example:

"The function of water is simple: if you don't have it, you die." 

"Some diets tout an eating plan that has you stop eating at 6:00 p.m. Here's the fact--your body does not have an alarm clock that suddenly sounds at 6:00 p.m. and states: "I have now passed  the calorie-burning phase and will being the calorie-storing phase, so anything you eat after this point turns into fat."

"Face your stuff, don't stuff your face."

"I used to be motivated by wanting to look better. Now I don't care what I look like--when you get to be my age, some droopiness is inevitable. What motivates me is waking up and feeling good . . ."

In my opinion, "All Diets Work," is a work of pure genius. Jen Brewer has compiled some very basic, but proven ways to lose weight permanently. This is a book you will want to keep close and study repeatedly. The twenty-five tools that she shares are crucial to healthy weight loss, and the entire book is loaded with common sense. I found myself nodding as I read it through it the first time, agreeing with Jen's suggestions. Finally, I have been handed something that will work for me and won't sabotage the tightrope I walk daily as a Type 1 diabetic. This is the healthiest approach that I've seen in a very long time to losing weight and keeping fit. I'm giving this book, "All Diets Work," a tremendous thumbs up!  You can purchase a copy for yourself by clicking on this link: 

This is Jen's website:  Click here for an inspiring website that will change your life

Jen Brewer also sent me a copy of smaller book written by herself and a woman named Amy Stucky. The title alone hooked me: "Be the Chocolate Chip!" (Okay, I'll freely admit that I'm a chocoholic.) This little booklet contains a wonderful analogy. In it we are reminded that chocolate chips don't melt into nothingness when facing tremendous heat. Written for the youth, it challenges them to remember that they can choose to be 'in the cookie, but not of the cookie.' As a long-time leader of the youth in my ward, I heartily recommend this book. In my opinion, this is something every teen should read and absorb.

 You can purchase this booklet by clicking on this link:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: "All That Was Promised"

Once in a while a book comes along that possesses the ability to link the reader to the past.  All that was Promised is one such novel. Written by Vickie Hall, this historical book plunges the reader into the challenges faced by the early Welsh saints. Persecuted by family, friends, and neighbors, faithful Welsh members of the LDS Church faced overwhelming trials. I've heard similar stories from my husband's side of the family tree. Several of his ancestors originated from Wales, and that may be why this book struck such a chord for me. It also gave me a greater appreciation for how difficult it was for those valiant ancestors who persevered during that volatile era.

I found myself caught up in the storyline from the first chapter. Vickie accurately portrays the setting in Wales and her characters are well developed. My only complaint would be the tendency to jump from one point of view to another within the same scene. Aside from that, I found this book to be an extremely good read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or who has an interest in the Welsh culture.

This is the storyline as described on the back of the book: "An encounter with a Mormon missionary and his unusual message of a 'restored gospel' leaves Richard Kenyon, a young Methodist minister questioning his life's work . . . Richard soon finds himself struggling to recognize the promised blessings of the gospel when violent persecution shakes the fledgling Church in Wales."

All that was Promised is Vickie Hall's debut novel. I look forward to her future works, and I am proud to help promote this new author. All that was Promised can be purchased by clicking on this link: Buy this book

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is It August Already?

So does anyone else wonder where the month of July went? I can't believe it's already the first day of August. On the other hand, between reunions, camping adventures, girls' camp, etc. is it any wonder that the past four weeks were a blur of activity? ;) I think we were all trying to make up for the fact that winter kept us in its chilly clutches for far too long. We pretty much skipped spring and went right to summer about the end of June. =D

I'll post a few pictures today, to prove that we really did have a partial summer this year, complete with cook-outs, camp-outs, and even an excursion or two to Bear Lake. 

We began July with the annual Crane Reunion. This year it was held at the Heise Hotsprings Campground near Ririe, Idaho. A good time was had by all.

Here some of the Crane Clan are enjoying an unique bean bag toss game.

This is a cute shot of our son, Devin, his wife, Emily, my husband, Kennon, and little Parker Crane, enjoying a moment in the shade.

The next weekend we journeyed to Lava, Idaho to enjoy a reunion from my side of the family tree: the annual Glenn Sibbett Reunion. In this shot my mother is posing with her sister and brothers. They are surrounding a painting rendered by my talented uncle (Ben Sibbett). The painting depicts the Wyoming ranch where my mother and her siblings grew up. Very cool. 
And here is a random picture of the reunion itself. Good times--and awesome food. 

 Another event that took place around the second week of July: I hit the half-century mark with regard to age. ;) Yep, my family made fun of me . . . a lot. These are shots from a family BBQ where we celebrated several July birthdays in the Jackson clan. My siblings had a riot commemorating my landmark BD. Pictured above: sacks that highlight the year I was born. Below: special cupcakes made by my talented s-i-l, Shar. It was a fun occasion, and again, wonderful food.

Sadly, I learned later, immediately after the family BBQ mentioned above, that my husband's cousin, Kacey Crane, was killed in a plane crash in Grace, Idaho. This was a tragic loss that tore at all of our hearts. Kacey was only 35 and leaves behind two little boys and a beautiful wife. Our hearts go out to his entire family. Here is a link for a fundraiser for Kacey's family. Several items are up for bid: Crane Family Fundraiser

Kennon has caught some impressive fish this summer. Here's a trout he caught in Bear Lake, out fishing on a boat with his good brother, Jeffy.

This is a random shot of girls' camp this year, held the third week of July. Yep, Bennington Ward was assigned the value color, red, yet again this year. It's okay--we like red. ;) Here the girls are practicing their skit for the program that night.

 From girls' camp we headed to a camp-out with family and friends at Palisades Lake, located between Wyoming and Idaho.

Here Jody & I are hamming it up on good brother-in-law, Jeffy's, boat as the menfolk troll for fish on Palisades Lake. We didn't catch any fish, but we had a lot of fun that day. Thank you Jeff and Dannyel for letting us ride around on your boat.

This is a shot of all three couples: Jody & Doran, Jeff & Dannyel, and Kennon & me at the famed Bar J in Jackson, Wyoming. This is a family oriented dinner and show type of thing. If you've never been, you should check it out sometime. The food is excellent, and the show is hilarious. 
A really cool thing happened during the dinner show. A young couple from our neck of the woods (Bear Lake) got engaged onstage that night. Kelly thought she was winning a door prize and went onstage, not aware that her soon-to-be fiance, Austin, was about to propose. We were thrilled to be there for this event.

 This is the final event we attended that weekend: the PBR Bull riding competition held in Afton, Wyoming that Saturday night. We had excellent seats and could see everything quite clearly. Once again, a good time was had by all--
with the exception of the cowboys who hit the ground fairly hard that night. The bulls were in fine form, giving each cowboy the ride of his life.

The final event of this busy month of July: our immediate family gathered together for a fun time, the first annual Kennon Crane Reunion. We enjoyed a cook-out Friday night, a day at Bear Lake on Saturday, and on Sunday, our cute new grandson, Ryker Glenn, was blessed in church. 

 Here is a picture of our entire family, and my mother. What a fun, wonderful day.

All in all, we did enjoy quite a few events this past month. I still can't believe August is upon us.  ;) I think I could use another month between July and August, but that's just me. I am so not ready for fall to make its way onto the seasonal stage. =D What think the rest of you out there?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Writing--A Half-Century of Change

So I hit a landmark occasion over the weekend and can now claim that I am a half-century in age. Wow . . . when you word it that way, it makes one sound rather old. ;) And since I seem to be approaching AARP mode, I feel it's only natural that I wax eloquently about some of the changes I've observed during my loooonnngg years in this mortal existence, especially as a writer.

First of all, despite what my children may think, we did have access to items like books when I was a kid. ;) Parchment documents were before my time. The big change here would be a subject matter that has been discussed lately on this blog: the advent of items like the Kindle or Nook. Books are now available in a computer format for easy download on these devices. Gone are the days when one could browse happily in the bosom of a favorite bookstore. Now most books (Hardbound editions are still available) can be purchased online, or in larger bookstore chains that are surviving the impact of E-Books.

While I'm enthralled with the idea of possessing an E-book reader that contains an unlimited library of books that can be carried around in one's purse, I will still want my old-fashioned books. In fact, to honor my noteworthy birthday this year, my kids got together and created a new library for me near the family room of our home, complete with brand new bookshelves. They are already filled with my collection of books, and most are organized into specific genres. I'm calling this my Kindle, the home edition. ;)

Another change: keyboarding had an entirely different meaning when I was in high school. It meant spending an hour in typing class every day, learning how to use an electric typewriter. In college, I enhanced this skill by taking advanced typing classes, figuring this knowledge could help me secure gainful employment. And those skills have come in handy with the career that developed in the writing world, so all of that training was not a waste of time. I can type faster than any of my kids, and they are impressed with my dexterity.

My first manuscript was composed on a sleek electric typewriter that was top of the line in its day. While it was impressive and even possessed a small memory capacity, if I decided to make any changes in a chapter, it meant retyping the entire thing. Let's just say that I was thrilled with my first computer, and the word processor it contained. This advancing technology has made that aspect of writing much easier. My current best friend: a nifty new laptop my husband bought for me last year. It uses Windows 7 and possesses more memory that I seem to have at the moment. =D

Back in the day, research for my books meant a series of interviews, hours spent at the local library, and traveling about the countryside. I still travel about the countryside when researching a setting for a book, but I use the internet to research details I can find at the click of a button. Instead of seeking out an expert mechanic to learn how to use the latest jack while changing a tire, I can use a Google search to find out the same information in much less time. I also cheat these days and tend to use an online dictionary and thesaurus. It saves time, and often comes up with more meanings or synonyms than I can find in my worn reference books in my new library downstairs.

Selling books these days is very different. My first book was published in 1994. To get word out, it meant advertising in newspapers, radio interviews, and booksignings. Booksignings still exist, and advertising compliments of newspapers and interviews still take place, but most of that can be done once again, compliments of the internet. Most newspapers and radio stations are available online. Utilizing items like Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and online groups like the ForeverFriends Readers' list, grants access to an untold audience.

All in all, there have been many good changes during the past few years. While I will always treasure old-fashioned items like my books, I am impressed with the technology that in my opinion, has made it much easier to write.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Climb Every Mountain

This past week I had the opportunity to help take our Laurels to a nearby canyon for a rappelling adventure. Originally, four of our girls were planning on participating. By the actual day of this activity, we were down to two who could still attend. Both girls are remarkable young ladies, but one has faced tremendous challenges. Her name is Sam, short for Samantha. She was in a horrible car accident about 8 months ago. Comatose for a time, she has fought an intense battle to regain abilities and skills most of us take for granted. She is still waging war on a daily basis against obstacles like double vision. I have no doubt that she will conquer these trials--she is a determined young woman and it is amazing to see the progress she has made.

Sam was an honor student in the past, and it was not surprising to me to see her name back on that same honor roll this past May at the end of the school year. She is also playing the piano for us in Y. W. again although she usually accomplishes this task by keeping one eye closed. She is a wonderful example of perseverance and courage and the light of Christ shines from her eyes when she shares her testimony of those things that matter most.

As we stood together, waiting for her turn to tackle the mountain on Saturday, she told me something I will always try to remember. She was sharing her secret for succeeding in life. It is simply this: "If I do well at something like cooking, I enjoy my efforts. If I'm not thrilled by what I've done, I can either accept it as is and be grateful for it, or try again and improve. The main thing is to be happy."

I suspect that is the key in life. We all face trials in this mortal realm. It's part of why we're here, part of our growing and learning process. Our attitude will determine how well we will do. Sam's positive mindset has helped her overcome tremendous challenges this past year. I was visiting with Sam and her mother at the hospital on a day when a physical therapist was trying to help Sam relearn to walk up steps. I was so touched by how hard Sam concentrated on lifting her foot, one step at a time. Ironically, I had brought her a framed picture that afternoon, something that has hung in a place of honor on the wall of my computer room for several years. It shows someone walking up a golden staircase, one step at a time. I had originally bought that picture to help remind me that all things are possible when we believe in ourselves. After the accident, I  purchased a new frame for it, and presented it to Sam, knowing of the challenges she faced at the time.

I thought of that picture again on Saturday as I tearfully watched Sam climb up the face of a mountain, step by step. I was not at all surprised when she reached the top, grinning over her victory that day. I know it took a tremendous effort for her to accomplish that feat. At one point, one of her legs began to tremble uncontrollably, but she ignored it, and continued to push herself, determined to conquer this challenge. The joy in her step at she rappelled down that same mountain several minutes later was obvious to us all. She had successfully attained a goal, believing in herself every step of the way. And to me, that is the secret of living this life to the fullest.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer is Simmering

Like many who dwell in our neck of the woods, we've been hopefully awaiting summer's arrival. It has been a looooong (emphasis on looooong) winter and we are craving sunshine, warm days, and all of the fun things that go with this time of year like camping, boating, fishing, reunions (did I really mention that last item?), etc.

Summer is on its way. This past weekend, we saw glimpses of the sun and it was lovely. My husband made good use of the brief nice weather and helped me plant our garden, and all three flower beds. Then it turned off cold and nasty again and froze 3 nights in a row. Sigh . . .

All is not lost, I'm keeping the tomatoes and pepper plants covered. I only planted hardy flowers that could survive at the North Pole, and our garden isn't up yet. When it does surface, it will mostly consist of root crops that don't freeze, like carrots, beets, onions,  and so forth.

I snapped several photos (I know . . . gasp! . . . .) over the weekend and decided to share a few of them in this post. It is proof that summer is on its way and one of these days, the sun will shine and stay that way . . . at least for a little while.

This is a photo that was actually snapped on May 22, the day my new grandson was born. Yep, that's me holding the cute little tyke.

See, the four foot drift over our front yard has finally melted. This is a quick shot I took the other day of our dog, Brandy, and our cat, Cleo, who were both enjoying a warm nap in the sun.

Here's a shot I took over the weekend at Mud Lake, also known as Dingle Marsh, north of the famed Bear Lake. As you can see, it's full of water due to this year's impressive run-off.

Here is a shot I took that same night near Bear Lake. The past few years, we've been able to drive down that boat ramp you can see to cross the beach to play in the water. That won't be happening this year because of the water depth. We may be lucky to have any beach left when the snow all melts. ;)

This is another shot of Mud Lake, the south end, across the road from Bear Lake.

As you can see, we smacked into a plethora of bugs on our trip around the lake that night. (Yep, our windshield looked the same.) This doesn't bode well for future camping trips. I suspect we'll endure numerous mosquitoes this year.

Numerous homes that line the east side of Bear Lake are enjoying true lake front property this year. =D

The pelicans were enjoying the high tide as well.

This is a shot of the sun dipping low over the lake.

Sunsets are beautiful over Bear Lake. This is a photo I shot near the south end of the lake.

Time to call it a day.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Diet Coke Run

Typically when most people envision a Diet Coke run, they think of jaunting to a local convenience store to fill their mugs, or perhaps to a local favorite eatery to grab a refreshing drink. Some may think this is a new type of marathon race, considering how many of those are in existence. For me, a Diet Coke run was something I shared with a dear friend whenever we could work it into our crazy schedules. For several years, this good friend and I shared many things in common. Both Type 1 diabetics, we fought the same daily battle. Teaming up in diabetic rebellion, we faced doctor appointments together, and even ran the local county diabetic support group for many years. We always went for a Diet Coke run afterwards to touch base and toast our continuing war against a dreaded disease.

Today, I purchased two Diet Cokes from a local store, and headed up a lonely road. Stopping near a recent mound of earth, I pulled out a cheery bouquet of sunflowers, and both Diet Cokes. I placed the bouquet of sunflowers near the other flowers that were set there over the weekend, and placed one bottle of Diet Coke near the sunflowers. Then I pulled out the second bottle, removed its lid, and drank a toast to my friend. It was my way of showing respect and honor to Denise, letting her and her family know this valiant woman is not forgotten.

It is the traditionally celebrated Memorial Day today. Numerous tributes have been taking place all weekend. We've been decorating graves since Saturday, reminiscing about ancestors and close family members and friends who have passed from this mortal existence. Last night, we watched a tribute on TV for veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Tonight, I'll be helping my husband take down all of the American flags that were set in place on veterans' graves last Thursday night in the local cemetery. Since Kennon is the head of the Bennington Cemetery Board, it's one of his responsibilities to make sure those flags are only in place for the allotted time during this commemorative holiday.

There are many ways to remember those who are no longer in mortal mode. Each year, a close friend and I make the rounds of several cemeteries in our valley, leaving behind small tokens of love on the graves of six special people who were taken in an instant from our lives in a fatal car accident. It's something we have done now for 14 years--our way of letting their families know we're thinking of them on this tender day. We will continue to do so until we are no longer in mortal mode ourselves.

Some people think this is a morbid tradition. I've actually heard some people say that it's a form of worshiping the dead. I beg to differ. I was raised in a family who spent Memorial Weekend decorating the graves of loved ones. In my opinion, it is an important tradition. It was upon these occasions that I learned family stories and legends that are part of our treasured family history. These stories need to be passed onto future generations as we pay tribute to those who paved the way for us, and those who gave their lives for our freedom.

It is up to us to decide how we will honor those who have gone before. I know for many people, this is the weekend that marks the beginning of summer. Lots of camping, boating, and traveling adventures are taking place. There is nothing wrong with that, but I hope that at some point during this holiday, most will pause for a moment to ponder the lives of those who are no longer with us. Though I doubt the deceased  care how many flowers are left near their headstones, I suspect it does matter that they are not forgotten.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

You Know It's Time to Consult Miss Clairol When . . .

So there I was, standing innocently in line at a local store, minding my own business, when I was once again asked an insulting question: "Ma'am, do you qualify for the senior discount?" I'm sure the look on my face spoke volumes. ;)

I've noticed this kind of thing happens when the following trends take place:

A) I've had a bad week.
B) I've endured an arthritis flare-up from Hades.
C) My true roots begin to surface.
D) The clerk is a sweet young thing who pops chewing gum for entertainment.

This week I would have to add: E) All of the above. I tried to comfort myself by pondering that the diaper-clad clerk (okay, she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt) was trying to save me money. These days, that counts for quite a bit. On the other hand, I still feel insulted since I'm about ten years shy of the qualification standards for this thoughtful discount.

Since I wasn't prepared to offer a witty reply, I merely said something like: "Gee, I wish." To which the sweet young thing responded . . . "Oh, well, have a nice day."

Right. I've just been called an old person, and now I'm supposed to enjoy the rest of my day. In my defense, I've been fighting a family trend for years. I started going grey in my twenties. I have cousins who gave up dyeing their hair and were totally white-headed by the time they were in their forties. To my credit, I've been successfully keeping this character-building trait a secret for years. Evidently I'm slipping a bit.

So . . . I went to another store and bought a nice box of hair accentuation. I promptly used it the next day, and my husband remarked that it was good to see that I was feeling better. Ah. So maybe I was looking a bit gray around the gills this past week. I blame the weather. A lot. I suffer from a form of rheumatoid arthritis and when the barometric pressure changes, I become a great weather forecaster. This past week has been most impressive with regard to pressurization. The other day I felt like I was a walking canker sore; every part of my body hurt. And that's the day I was asked if I qualified for special privileges. 

Two weeks ago I received an invitation to join the AARP. Now if this stood for: Arty Articulate Really Cool Person, I would've been excited. (I know, then it would be the AARCP) Instead it means: Any Airhead can Ridicule this Person. To my credit, I am reaching a landmark birthday this year. The kind that is celebrated with black balloons, etc. That does not mean I'm ready for nursing home mode!

So . . . to counter all of this I am going to start an exercise program, keep my hair looking as it should at this age, and wear a badge that says: "Ask stupid questions at your own risk!" I will also attempt to keep my sense of humor intact, since it's looking like that will be the best defense of all.