Saturday, April 28, 2018

Handcarts and Earbuds

This post is dedicated to some spectacular warriors I know who were saved for the last days.
I’m related to them and love them forever.


Several of my grandchildren will take part in an activity this summer that they’ll likely remember for the rest of their lives. A Pioneer Trek.

Treks are an opportunity for the youth of the chuch to experience just a taste of what pioneer Latter Day Saints faced.
For several days teenagers pull handcarts loaded with life’s bare neccessities along a wilderness trail. Along the way, after thousands of footprints and gallons of sweat, those young people begin to have a special appreciation for the sacrifices of the pioneers.
Many teens who’ve gone on a trek say the experience was life changing.

Virtually every Latter Day Saint is deeply grateful for the faith and strength of those first church members.
Many of them were driven from their homes. They faced starvation, disease, violence, and destruction at every turn. This deadly opposition came about because the Saints believed with all their hearts that they had found the true Church of Jesus Christ.
The adversary knew they'd found it.
So that opposition came accompanied with bullets and bloodthirsty mobs.

Fleeing from comfortable homes, sometimes in the dead of winter, they suffered hardships of body and heart that we can scarcely imagine. Even though angels walked at their sides and miracles strengthened them, precious loved ones died and were buried beside the trail.
Through every challenge they clung to their faith.

I'm in awe of what they did.

But I remember once, while listening to a talk about the courage of the pioneers, being puzzled by something else I’d learned.

What I'd been taught was that Heavenly Father's most valiant spirits have been saved for the very last days.

I’d heard it said that it’s then that He'll need to send special sons and daughters with a vital mission. His bravest, most skilled and steadfast souls will be needed at that time.
The fight for truth will become more fierce than ever before.

I remember wondering how our time could possibly be more challenging than that of the pioneers?

Starvation, bitter cold, blazing heat, angry mobs, disease, wild animals, death of loved ones, and destruction every single day!
How can it get any tougher than that?

I never would have survived as a pioneer, that's for sure.
I'm not brave when it comes to physical danger.
Plus, I don’t care much for pain.
I also depend on modern conveniences.

Thinking about these things I took a look back over my own life.
I realized that my husband was in charge of any danger.
Scary noises in the night, spiders, snakes, bears on the porch... anything like that. I don't recall any mobs, but he would have had to deal with them, not me.
I was in charge of cleaning the bathrooms.
That seemed fair.

Plus, now I live in the desert again, so air conditioning must be in working order wherever I go.
I think drive-thru’s were a major breakthrough in technology.
And those cars we use to drive-thru in are a necessity not a convenience.
Walking thousands of miles pulling everything I own just doesn’t seem humanly possible.

Other necessities in my opinion are indoor plumbing and ice.
Electric lights, cell phones, television and a washing machine are on the must-have list too.
I never would have survived the pioneer trail.

In fact, nowadays, most of us are never more than a few feet from food, water, warmth, and shelter.

Turning up or down the AC takes care of heat waves and blizzards.
If danger prowls, or fire, accident or illness threatens, we call 911.
A rescue team arrives in minutes!
Some of the rescuers will come with guns to protect us from enemies, some with hoses and ladders to put out fires, others with the latest medical equipment to help the sick or injured.
What would the early Saints say to that?

So what is it about the last days that will call for superhuman courage, faith, and strength to make it back to Heavenly Father?
Why will my grandchildren need to be as strong or  stronger than the settlers who suffered through so many trials?

Well, there may be lots of answers to that question that we can’t even imagine. 
But, I can see some things now in the lives of our young people that give me a glimpse.

One thing I see is that severe, unrelenting temptation to let go of the iron rod surrounds them. They're enticed to leave the path back to Heavenly Father constantly.
It’s everywhere. It's in surround sound, high definition, and virtual reality. It's right at their fingertips. And it starts at an ever earlier age.

Plus the adversary has gone high tech.
Twenty-four seven there he is. Waiting inside every electronic device.
Every hour, every minute. He never, never, never lets up!

For instance, almost every teenager, even those in modest circumstances, can get up from the warm comfort of bed at night, walk past indoor plumbing and a refrigerator full of food, to the computer in the family room. Many have “smart” phones and don’t even have to get out of bed!

Then they can push little buttons, and begin to lose their souls.

Children of God can play "games" full of horrendous violence and vile perversion of every kind.
They can spend hours of precious life watching TV filled with "beautiful" people living lives in darkness.                                                           
They can put little plugs in their ears and have filth beat into their brains in time to music.
They can spend more time with depraved killers than they spend with their eternal families.
They can waste their potential, their education, and their desire to be productive and do good.
They can fill their God given minds with stupidity, violence, and ugliness.
They can sink into a filthy cesspool of lies about life and Father's beautiful gift of sexual expression.
They can destroy their future families and break the hearts of the family they’ve been born into.
They can lose their testimony.
They can waste precious youth and glorious possibility.

With just their thumbs.

I’d like anyone who spends any of their time in this way to do something for me.

Think deep into your heart and soul.
Be completely honest.
Then answer these questions.

Should I be doing this?  Is this how I should spend my time?

What does the light of Christ that’s born within you tell you?


The pioneers had to bury loved ones alongside the trail and go on with broken hearts.
Children, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters were left behind.

But they didn’t lose the people they loved..
They had to leave them for only the rest of their lifetimes.

Today, we can really lose our beloved family.
We can lose them more surely than to death, and in our own, safe homes.

So, after some serious thinking, I’ve decided that we do need the bravest, most valiant spirits for this day and beyond.
Our time is full of dangers never even imagined by those who came before us.

The most valiant souls who choose the right in the midst of so much wrong really are needed today!
Those who will choose to grow in the light, and use their time to develop their talents and skills are needed now!
Those who will educate themselves to a useful profession are needed now!

We desperately need those who study the words of Heavenly Father and know the plan of happiness.
We need exceptional souls who will one day become wonderful parents and leaders in the Lord’s church.
We need those who can point to the path that leads home to Heavenly Father and Mother.

All of us can look back to the pioneer fathers and mothers for their inspiring examples of faith and strength.
We should be deeply grateful for them.

And then those valiant sons and daughters of God who were sent in these last days should get ready.
They must remember who they are!
They should “gird up their loins and fresh courage take.”

And then get ready for the fight of their lives.

So much depends on them.

Moroni Chapter 7: 12-19

12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the lightby which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

All Creatures.....Some Really Small.

* Update on Moose

After Larry passed away little Moose would run to his chair several times a day  looking for him.
Sometimes she'd sit by the door waiting.
It broke my heart. But it reminded me of blessings.

You see, one morning not long before he passed, Kelley was taking her dad to the doctor. She noticed him gently stroking his knee continually.
She asked, "Dad, what are you doing?"
He looked down and said in mild surprise, "Oh sorry..... just petting the dog."

That's what happened for hours each day. Dog petting.
I wonder who was comforted the most?

Now Moose rides in the front basket of my electric cart.
My cart is a huge blessing for which I'm extremely grateful, by the way.
Moose hates being cold so she's wrapped in a nest of blankets with only her little head sticking out.
We go everywhere like this. Even places where she's not allowed.  I just cover her up so that only her eyes show.
The girls bought her a little harness that says "Service Dog" but I don't feel it's honest. They say, "Sure it is, Ma. She's an official Crazy Old Lady Who's Finally Lost It, service dog. We can certify."

So, I've become the old lady on the cart with the little brown dog. Tooling around the neighborhood, Walmart and Loew's.
Believe me I never thought my life would come to this.

But, to be honest, there are advantages.
I can fetch and carry many things for people, easily saving time and steps. Too, on good days I can put in a 10 hour day and at the end of it my feet don't hurt. And I once beat the grandkids to Toontown on a Disney trip.  Life is full of  tender mercies. Just look for them.

So Moose has now become my constant companion.
A gift from Larry who was her first choice.
And when I reach inside her nest on the cart basket to be sure she's warm, she always turns to lick me.

 I wonder who's comforted most.

"And I, God, made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and everything which creepeth upon the earth after his kind; And I, God, saw that all these things were good."          Moses 2: 24-25                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
" The tender mercies of the Lord are over all,"           1 Nephi 1:20                                                                                                                                                                       

*Original Post     

All Creaures...Some Really Small

I've never been a "dog person" really.
I've always thought cats were less trouble for the most part.
Until recently I never met a dog that didn't cause me some kind of grief.
Usually this grief involves my having more work to do and less money to spend. Come to think of it I still haven't met one that doesn't cause more work and less money.

I know a lot about that dog grief thing too.
How? Because all of my married life we've had dogs. And more than one at a time too.
Why, you say?
Because, you see, even though I'm not, Larry definitely IS a dog person.  He's had dogs since he was a boy, and they've always had him.

Well, as we all know, marriage is often about compromise.
So, to be fair to me, Larry reluctantly compromised and said we could have cats to go along with the dogs and children.
And I was elected to be responsible for the care and feeding of all of them, including Larry.

Now something's happened concerning a dog that I'm almost reluctant to tell you. It's out of character for me and I'm afraid that people will think that I've become delusional along with whatever else I've become.
But I'm not delusional yet, and I was so touched that I must tell you about it.

You see, last night, an aging, nondescript, sometimes annoying little brown dog with one white spot, went out of her way to show compassion towards a being not even of her same species.
That species being human. That human being me.
And compassion it was, there was no mistaking it for anything else. Which leads to a whole lot of other deep animal questions to think about later.

Let me tell you about the dog.
She was rescued as a teeny, tiny pup by my son-in-law who found her while he was working in an empty house. He heard pitiful cries and went to help. She fit in the palm of his hand and was not even old enough to have been weaned. He checked with neighbors with no luck.
Being a compassionate yet smart man, he didn't take it home to his wife and seven kids. He knew a great truth was found in that old saying, "There's no such thing as a free puppy."
So instead he took it to his sisters-in-law.
Just as he'd figured, they immediately rushed it to the vet, paid the bill, and then stopped off at the nearest pet market to buy hundreds of dollars of dog stuff, most of it in pink. Included were little bottles of expensive dog formula which the vet recommended feeding every three hours round the clock for some weeks. This was years ago.

Well, that little pup grew into the smallest chihuahua-mutt-mix princess the vets had ever seen every six months for regular shots and check-ups. The girls named her "Daisy."
These daughters felt that Daisy and her border collie sibling, (another rescue), would be lonely if left alone too long, so they dropped them off early each morning to spend weekdays with us while the girls were teaching.
Larry, however, refused to have a dog in the house with such a "wuusie" name as Daisy.
So he renamed her "Moose."

Well, Moose is now older. She stays with us full-time while our dog Murphy, who is still an adolescent in dog years, and therefore trouble, stays with our daughters, who can handle trouble better than we can now.

Moose has a little pillow kept right between Larry and I on our bed where she sleeps at night. She has her own favorite blankets. She hates being cold so several times a night I reach in to her little nest to make sure she's warm and covered.

Well, sad to say, I now have geezer issues which cause pain whenever I move.
Last night I was trying to get more comfortable in bed and was attempting a turn which caused some moans of distress. After much tribulation I finally got settled.

As soon as I did, a sleepy little brown dog with one white spot emerged from her warm nest.
She came over to me, licked my arm exactly twice, turned around and went back inside the blankets to her bed.
There was no mistaking the message.
I knew instantly what those licks meant.
She was saying, "There, there. You're okay now. Go back to sleep."

Tender mercies.

I guess Father sends them in lots of ways.

Today I'm thankful for all his creatures great and small.
Once in the middle of a dark night a very small one brought comfort to me.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Watch Out For Angels

We are surrounded by angels, seen and unseen.
I'm helped at their hands on a daily basis.
Heavenly Father sends them.
Beautiful scriptures describe angelic beings. Here's just one;

"...For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."            D&C 84:88

The apostles have spoken to us about angels many times.
I especially love Jeffrey Holland's thoughts.
Read his beautiful conference talk, "The Ministry of Angels," to hear his counsel.

I personally live with two of the "seen" type of angels.
This is not just my opinion either.
My dear daughter-in-law once told me that she believed that both of the ones in my house will go straight to the celestial kingdom when they finish up here. Just a gold, non-stop pass straight to the top. No waiting around.

Other people think this about them too. Mainly because they have devoted their lives to the service of others.

They've spent years caring for the old, broken members of their family, bringing them into their home to do so.
Only someone who's taken care of old people 24/7 really knows what this means. They do this in their free time.

Beth says, 'Don't worry about us Ma," because she says she has a witness that they picked this assignment before coming here.

Some assignment. First they teach Seminary at 5:30 in the morning, after getting up at 4:00 to pray and prepare. Then off they go in the dark to hold up a light so the most valiant can see.

Then off they go to work.
This is so they can give every last bit of energy they possess to loving and guiding HUNDREDS of other teenagers, sometimes the most troubled ones.

When the workday is done they come home to care for some loved but ancient family member. Currently this is a broken, still bandaged mother, unable to stand or walk, who won't be still and insists that she be helped in and out of bed in order to do her mischief.

On weekends they often think it's a good idea to cook for the "Westside" family. They're concerned that we're a bit isolated out here in the wild west.
They want all the young people to feel "connected " to family and the Church.

Our "Eastside" loved ones are busily blessed with two of the cutest great-grandbabies ever, and are already surrounded by other church members and extended family.
Plus Lisa is there to care for them. They are well connected.

So Beth and Kelley think that spur of the moment barbeques and Disney movie nights will help kids "make connections." Kids includes Isaac, one of the cutest little two-year-olds ever, a grand-nephew. The angels say he needs the little ties that bind too.

As an added benefit, it's hoped that this frenzy of activity might give their tired sister and brother-in-law a break.
You see, Kim and Scott are the parents of seven kids, five of them currently teenagers.
This can make you really tired.

So on a Saturday afternoon Kelley heads out to fetch and then drag home carloads of groceries. Beth then begins to chop and grill them.
Soon the house fills up with 15 loud and hungry people looking to connect.

However, this angelic connection-promoting behavior, while praiseworthy, can sometimes lead to further, unplanned opportunities.

For instance, a few Sundays ago all the family were sitting together at Stake Conference.
A note came down the row to Beth.

She read,

"Our mother says we made her tired and she's going to take a nap after church. She won't cook for us. She says we are old enough to feed ourselves. Can we come home with you? Will you feed us?"
Signed by some teenager.

So angels then make dinner in less than 30 minutes, for a dozen hungry people, mostly teenagers, who walk in the door at the same time as the angels do, and want food RIGHT NOW, without any prior notice, warning, shopping or preparing. On a day of rest.

Nevertheless, all this being said, you need to know that these particular angels are not always exactly angelic.
There's another side.

I've found that angels can also be bossy, patronizing, devious, stubborn and annoying.
And highly opinionated.
For instance.
They will unjustly confiscate your paintbrushes, and spray paint, and eventually ban you from any painting at all.

Angels lie.
They tell falsehoods about where sharp implements are kept. This is so old people can't grate carrots.
And though they deny any knowlege of the whereabouts of the breadmaking machine, they've actually hidden it so you won't make a mess.

In fact, they hide all "dangerous or messy" items like potting soil.
Potting soil and paint are evil and are hidden in secret places somewhere deep in the garage.

Angels have bad taste at times too.
They don't like the best colors, underappreciate fine art, and think innocent flowers, like geraniums are "old fashioned."
You will not be allowed to plant geraniums.

Angels don't want you to go into their clean kitchen to make dinner.

Angels will tell you to be still, they will do it later.
Angels don't want you to do it now.

Angels will tell you that you are driving them crazy. Yet, there they sit, behind the steering wheel.

Remember, I warned you.
Watch out for angels.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Mystery That Is Man: The $1500 Paradox


For my beloved brother Mark, who's been blessed with some pretty serious adversity of late. A battle with a foe named cancer being among his challenges.

I hope my "looks back" bring him a smile.


Men are odd.

I can prove it too.
Just one case in point is that Larry, my husband of 51 years, passed away without my permission several months ago.
I think we should have discussed this first.  But he often didn't get permision before doing things.

So, we disagreed about that and other issues, including who was odd and who was not.
He thought men were NOT odd. He said women were the odd ones.
He was wrong.

Here's another for instance, if I may.

When Larry and I first met he was a member of a "Car Club."
This was a bunch of school friends who all drove heaps and spent weekends under them trying to make them go faster than the other guys' heaps.
Not to go any place in particular, just to get there faster.

I mistakenly thought this meant that he was interested in cars in general.
It took many years before the "$1500 Paradox" became clear to me.
Let me explain.

In an effort to be a good companion I tried to take an interest in this car thing.
It was hard.
So I figured that I could at least keep an eye out for spectacular cars that we saw on the road so that he could see and appreciate them and me.

So for years and years, I excitedly pointed out every Porsche and Corvette we saw on the road. I was showing an interest and thought he would enjoy seeing them. I was a good wife.
He always looked and said, "Nice ride," or something like that.

It wasn't until we moved to the mountains that I began to notice the $1500 Paradox.

This is expressed by a curious light in a man's eye and an almost perceptable rise in his blood pressure. You can feel it in the air.

It occurs when a male sees some pile of broken mechanical parts with tires. The sighting must be in another man's garage or side yard.
This pile can be a former car, motorcycle or even a tractor.
It must not be running or at least be on its last legs.
It's best if there is rust.

The man will pass by this pile and the light-in-the-eye will flash on. The atmospheric pressure rises in the air around you.

Then he will exclaim, "Hon, will you look!! It's a 1948 Alice Chalmers!!"
I'll bet that guy had to give $1500 for it! That #@%."
(For years I thought Alice Chalmers was an old girlfriend. It's not. It's a tractor.)

For some reason a Paradox sighting always involved the owner getting cussed. And the price is always $1500.

On the way home from "Alice" I ran a test. I pointed out a brand new, shiny, rust-free, Corvette.
He looked and said, "Nice ride."

Now I must include a caution.
This "Paradox" may be a widespread male occurrence.

When we lived in the mountains, I had a colleague who was a fine man, a wonderful teacher, friend to all, and possibly at the time, the high school girl's softball coach. I can't remember.
He owned an older red pick-up truck.
His name was Tim Slade and Tim is a man.

Tim's truck sat next to the ballfield during games and practices and had a smashed front windshield where it was assaulted by a foul ball.
I think this made it more attractive.

Well, Larry somehow talked Tim into selling that truck to him.  He had to pay more than the paradoxical $1500 because it was actually running.
But not much more.

Anyway, Larry reluctantly had the windshield replaced because he was afraid of getting a ticket.
He taught the girls that putting a hairbrush in the carbuerator thingy would get it started, should there be trouble. There was always trouble.
Beth eventually taught her friends at school the hairbrush trick should they require knowlege of it.
She said you could remove the hairbrush once it got started.

Then Larry and the girls drove that old, red truck for many happy miles until it died in our front yard next to the garage.
Where it remained for some time.

Now the truckbed was always handy.
So it was used to hold piles of pine needles and yard refuse waiting for transport to the compactor.

Then a male neighbor spotted it when he came over in response to another old car we were trying to sell. A GEO Tracker, I believe.
The man said he really didn't want the Tracker but was interested in the old red truck filled with pine needles.
Larry said the truck wasn't for sale.
Neighbor said that he'd only buy the Tracker if Larry would sell him the truck.

I thought,  "Be still my heart!!! Two piles of junk gone at once!!!" But I didn't say anything.

The man waved cash.
It was heartbreaking but too much for Larry. He took it.

Fast forward 20 years or so.

Just a few months ago, the super-talented, super-hero duo, Beth and Kelley, went up to the mountains to speak at a Relief Society function at the request of dear old friends.
On their way home they decided to drive by the old homestead.

As they drove into the subdivision Beth said, "Hey, isn't that Dad's old truck with a "For Sale" sign on it?
It was.

Overcome with a wave of sentiment Beth thought about buying it herself.
She then came to her senses and realized it would be way more expense and trouble than it would be worth. She wiped her tears.
When they got home they casually reported the truck sighting to Kim and her family.

The next day, Malachi, Larry's grandson, went up the mountain.
He took his dad, Scott, with him.
You know the rest.

So, lately, if you're looking for Malachi, check first under an old red truck parked discreetly in his parent's gated side yard.
Now and then his dad may be under there too.

That truck has now become a very, very, expensive vehicle.
Probably comparable to a Corvette.

Even so, the Homeowner's Association won't allow Malachi to stick his feet out from under it where they can be seen publicly.


"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them."     Genesis  1:27

"And the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."     Genesis  2:18


"And I, God, saw everything that I had made, and behold, all things which I had made were very good."    Book of Moses 2:37


" is not odd.  Man is good."    Sister Wagher

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Old People Can't Eat Tupperware Anymore

For my brother Mark.
He once told me as I teased him about getting older, "Yea, that's true Kath.... But remember... I'll always be younger than you."


I've been thinking about aging lately.
Pondering even, which is deeper and more serious.

It turns out that much of growing old is surprising.
And, now and again, I'm even startled to discover "old" strangely fascinating.

I'll look at some new physical development and say to myself;

"Goodness, THAT never happened before."

"Why, all of a sudden, is my miraculous, heavenly inspired body leaving lines and marks all over it?"

"That hurts! It never hurt a few years ago."

"Why is my skin flaking off? I put my good lotion."

"What's that? Those body parts were never that low!"

"Again? I just went!"

And most especially, "What's going on with my digestion?"

I asked that question just this morning as a matter of fact.

You see, I've always been a fan of spicy foods.
This comes from being born and raised in the Sonorran desert where Mexican food is served directly after weaning.
As, of course. it should be.

I feel sorry for people who weren't born here and have no appreciation in their very blood for Mexican food. It truly is a gift from God.

Also, my father was born in Bangkok so I remember the amazing hot curries and coconut soups of Thailand.
I recall my dear Aunt Miriam, my dad's sister, who was new to America, coming to cook in our kitchen one day. She was grating fresh coconut into a cheesecloth so she could  squeeze the milk out into some heavenly sauce.
I watched in awe and I've still never seen anything like the love and care that went into that meal.

But some people haven't been  blessed with such a rich culinary heritage.
One is my dear son-in-law who was born in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle area.
This poor man grew up with nothing but smoked salmon in his veins.
I've always felt sorry for him.

Now, don't get me wrong, Larry and I had an absolutly wonderful Alder smoked salmon experience in Seattle one lovely summer night.

We were on the pier, late. We'd spent the day sightseeing and ferry boat riding. The sun still wasn't completely gone from the sky. This would make it around 8 in the evening in Arizona but in the Northwest it was after 11!

It was well past our dinnertime and we were hungry. Larry went up to a little salmon stand where a lovely glowing barbeque fire was almost spent. He ordered fish  dinners for the two of us.
As the nice man was filling our plates he said, "Hey, I'm closing up. Would you like the rest of this halibut, swordfish and salmon? I'll just give it to you."
Would we like it? Was he kidding?

Anyway, it was one of those "meals of a lifetime."  You know the ones.
They come along now and again because they're so special, in one way or another. The place and the people are as important as the food. But you never forget.

This one was on the pier, beautiful summer night, sun leaving only streaks of color in the sky, best friend stealing your tartar sauce. Wonderful smoked fish.
I'll never forget.

Nevertheless, morning always comes, even in Seattle.
And then, there you are, without a decent enchilada or refried bean to be found.

This tangent that I'm off on today was brought on by the fact that I'm unwell this morning.
Very, decidedly, unwell.
This unwellness was brought on because I ate Tupperware last night.

Let me explain.

Once, on a formerly popular television show, I heard a doctor trying to illustrate this idea to an aging patient.
She advised the man that when he was 25 years old his digestive system could handle almost anything he threw into it. He could eat the Tupperware that he'd packed his lunch in and still function.
But old people who eat Tupperware will have consequences, she said accusingly.

I can report that this is true. Here's my report.

My lovely daughter Beth is a fine, inspired cook.
She "creates" as she chops. After this chopping stops you can be sure that soon some delicious smell will be wafting through the house.
She will then tell everyone, "No, it isn't ready yet. I'm marinating."
It's actually torture. She knows this. (Beth has latent "Mother" issues.)

Now and again she puts things on the charcoal grill, and lets the torture spread to all the neighbors. Her father taught her this.
Delicious grilling smells always come from the whole block the day AFTER Beth cooks outside.

Well, yesterday she made a large vat of her most delectable Mexican shrimp cocktail.
It was chock full of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, cilantro, avocado, jalepeno peppers,  lime juice, and icy cold cooked shrimp.
This she engulfs in a delicious, spicy, gazpacho-like sauce with some sort of addictive additive, which she alone knows about.

This cocktail also happens to be very good for you!
No guilt. No fat. Except for avocados, (which is good fat!)
Tons of raw vegetables, fresh herbs, peppers and citrus juice, and non-fried shrimp.
Larry was among the many fans of Beth's shrimp cocktail.

Well, I was super excited for this culinary treat.
The whole house floated along  in a cloud of fresh lime, garlic, cilantro and  pepper smells while "marinating" worked its magic.

I ate Beth's cocktail.
Lots of it.
It was stupendous!

Except for the bottom of the bowl juices.
I didn't eat them.

You see, for some reason this bottom juice always seems to become very spicy as you go along.
I've noticed this happens with Thai coconut soup and curry too.
People are then forced to get another bowl because the top juice won't be so hot.

Is there a chemical reason for this?

Anyway, I woke up this morning with a clear message from my aging body.

It said,   "You ate Tupperware, didn't you?    You know that old people will have consequences and yet you still ate the Tupperware.  When are you ever going to learn that it's foolish to get into a war with old?"

Remember. And be well.

"And I the Lord God, said unto the woman: What is this thing which thou hast done? And the woman said: The serpent beguiled me and I did eat."
Genesis 3:13

"Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  Matthew 26:41

"To every thing there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heavens."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

"Old people can't eat tupperware anymore."
Sister Wagher

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trees Along the Banks

*This post is dedicated with love to my brother Mark. I hope it brings a smile.


Trees are good.
In fact, I can honestly say that I've never met a tree I didn't like.
Well, to be completely honest, maybe I didn't care for one or two that were causing trouble.

Concerning good trees.
Now that I'm old, I find myself gazing back into the past now and then and being surprised to find trees there. It's a bit odd.
One lazy afternoon I was surprised to see quite a few growing along the shady banks of my memory.
There they stood, beautiful and growing, filled with green and gold, sunlight and blue sky. And after all those passing years, they still "gladdened the heart and pleased the eye" as the scriptures say.
I wish them all well.

One tree I remember was actually a grove.

Larry and I had traveled from Arizona to California for our notorious family event, "Dueling Dinners." "Dinners" is now a family war of culinary braggarts started decades ago by a rude comment made by my brother Matt. This after I had graciously fed him some of my homemade lasagna.
I'll never forget it.
"Kath," he said when he should have kept quiet, "I can make better lasagna than this." Well, that was the first shot in a battle that's gone on for generations now.

Brother Mark was hosting the Duel that year. He always goes above and beyond in preparation for this event so everyone was super excited.

He'd made reservations at a lovely little lakeside campground for all the families coming with their various camping accomodations.
I remember beautiful large trees with multiple trunks growing along the lake shore and throughout the campsites. As the family arrived, tents began to pop-up among them.
Pup tents, room-sized tents, lean to's, temporary storerooms, shade providers, rain protectors, and canvas dressing rooms began to appear everywhere. It was quite a sight.
Pick-up trucks with sleeping bags in the back pulled in next to all the construction.
Then the show-off RV's packed with their cheating kitchens showed up. Hidden inside were their electric whisks and microwave ovens.
The huge beasts finally managed to park after numerous forward and reverse, forward, curse, reverse; forward, curse, reverse maneuvers.
Divine justice, all the trouble they had.

Mark hadn't forgotten Larry and I either. There was a comfortable hotel with a king sized bed and a real bathroom just down the road.
We used to love "roughing it," but in our old age we began to love room service. every thing there is a season.

Anyway, as we drove down a small hill into the campground I began to wonder at the trees, trying to figure out what kind they were. I hadn't seen them in Arizona.
Then, as I looked hard among the leafy green, I was startled to see eyes and faces beginning to peek out from the branches. Each tree had a child's face or two growing there along the limbs next to the bird nests!
After closer inspection I realized that those peeping faces belonged to my grandchildren!
How wonderful!
The trees were full of little fruits and they were all mine!

"And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after it's kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after its kind: and God said that it was good."       Gen 1:12 (Moses 2:12)
Another tree that grows along my memory banks is a huge ponderosa pine. It played an important part in our family's first week of life in the mountains after our move from the city.
Our home in the desert was surrounded by gravel lawns and citrus trees. Lemon, orange, grapefruit and Mexican lime trees are wonderful in every season but they don't grow to be very tall. Their branches start close to the ground and mature trees remind me of enormous bushes.
After the move to the little house in the big woods, where we stayed for 12 years, we now lived in one of the largest stands of ponderosa pines in the Southwest.
Ponderosas grow straight up and are enormous! They have rough bark and the first branches on the oldest trees don't appear until many feet up. I've heard them called mountain skyscrapers. Some of the trees that surrounded our cabin must have been over 100 feet tall.

So into the mountain forest we brought our desert city cat, "Blue," named for  his smoky-blue color. He was used to citrus trees which aren't much good for climbing. He must have been thrilled to see those huge pines! So up he went.

By the time he reached the first branches he was already in trouble.
Why is it that cats are so much like some people I know, just plunging along with no thought about where the path they're on may end up.
Anyway, Blue finally stopped to look down. He froze. He was now terrified.
He yowled and meowed loudly and pitifully. For 3 days. And nights.

It was during this little crises that our city slicker family put on a show for the local mountain folk. All kinds of antics were performed in an attempt to rescue that cat.
The performances ended with a heartstopping finale featuring Larry parking the Suburban under the tree, perching a huge ladder on top, and climbing it to try to get Blue down before he was killed himself.
To no avail. Blue was too scared to move.
The nights were the worst. I can still hear that pitiful meowing above the sound of the the wind whistling through the pines. And after each yowl some wild, hungry, predatory animal answered.

Then, miraculously, after several days, Blue appeared on the front porch. This time meowing to get in for food, water, and someone's warm bed.
We never knew how he'd managed to get down.

However, all this turmoil wasn't for naught.
Blue, the cat, had taught an important lesson. It's a caution for all to remember it.
Sometimes we have to do what has to be done even when we're scared, right? And you might as well do it before spending three cold nights up a tree.

"Wherefore if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today."
  D&C 64:25

"...O that we had repented before the great and terrible day..."
 3  Nephi 18:24

"If you have to swallow a frog it's best not to stare at him too long first."
  Mark Twain

I'll tell you about some more trees another time.
God bless you with many of your own to remember.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Warm Toes Legacy

Larry's been on my mind almost always lately.
I find him there even though he crossed to the other side of the veil some 17 months ago now.
I have a sense that he's very busy with important work and I know that I need to get busy with important work of my own. I'm going to try to do better with "improving the shining hour" as the old hymm says.

Even so, memories of little things during our 51 years together drift into my thoughts and bring a smile as I remember them.
One is covered toes.

You see for the last few years of our working life Larry had a job that required him to leave the house very early in the mornings. Long before dawn.
I was teaching high school and had the luxury of a couple more hours of sleep before the other alarm went off.

Each day after Larry showered and dressed for work he gathered his things quietly in the darkened room so I could sleep. Then as he headed out the door he never failed to stop to cover my sleeping toes with blankets. They had slipped out into the cold during the night.
I thought this was such a sweet thing to do.  I always pretended to sleep waiting for him. Those covered toes were a treasure then and they mean even more to me now.

I never told him that I like my feet uncovered, cold or not, and I was always careful not to pull the blanket off again until he was safely gone.

I hope there was some little thing that I did for him that he remembers with a smile.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

All Things Bear Record of Me: The Basement

I substituted as the teacher in the Gospel Doctrine Sunday school class a few weeks ago.
It was in our new ward and I was a bit nervous. It's been several years now since I've been blessed to teach in one of the Lord's classes. And one thing became immediately apparent.
Things have changed.

This time I rolled into the room on my trusty electric cart and one of my lovely daughters had to write the lesson essentials on the board in her very neat, teacher-writing style.
Then she turned the chalk sideways and surrounded everything she had written in MY usual chalky-cloud border.
I didn't even have to ask for the clouds. She just drew them.
It was very touching.

I taught the lesson.
Afterwards, my other lovely teacher daughter volunteered gently that I had done everything wrong.
She pointed out that this class is designed to include discussion. The instructor serves as the moderator who skillfully leads comments to touch on all doctrinal points outlined in the lesson.
Goofy stories about rocks were not discussion.

I agreed that class involvement is indeed a much better way to foster learning. I also have a feeling that both of my lovely teacher daughters are far more skilled than I in the logistics of this sometimes unwieldy teaching technique.

This brought to mind how wonderful it is to see your own children grow up to become mighty instruments in the hands of the Lord. Even when their skills far surpass your own in every way. Maybe especially when they do.

I would like to point out though that a major influence for one of those skilled daughters was the exceptional fifth grade teacher she was blessed to have in elementary school. We all know how important a favorite teacher can be. It was this one's influence that started her on the path of excellence that lasted a lifetime.
I was happy to have been that teacher and gratified to see the results.

Also, even though telling the goofy rock story was wrong, a person from the class did kindly ask for a "copy" of one of the other goofy stories I told.
Unfortunately I don't have copies of my stories. I keep them in unkempt, disorganized files in my head. And now I've noticed in alarm that pages are getting lost on a daily basis.

This particular story I heard decades ago. I've no idea where. It's not mine, of that I'm sure. But as soon as I heard it I began sharing it with my students. I've been telling it for years with unspoken gratitude to the author.

I'll attempt to remember it now for the nice lady who asked.

The Basement
Michael, a renowned professor of mathematics, lived with his family in a lovely home very near the university where he taught. His closest friend James, was a physicist who also taught at the university and lived with his family just two doors down the block. These two learned men had been associates for decades and their wives and children had also become close friends.

Yet, while the two men had a great deal in common, one major difference between them had caused much discussion over the years. The renowned professor of mathematics was a Christian and his friend was an atheist.
Many talks well into the night had not convinced either one of the other's viewpoint. But they were still friends in any case and over the years had become almost like brothers.

Well, one evening the two families were to have a barbeque at Mike the mathematician's home. The guests arrived. Children greeted each other noisily and ran out back to the festivities. Wives said hello and were off to the kitchen. Mike greeted his friend and headed out to the grill where he was creating his renowned hamburger masterpieces.
As he hurried out back to prevent burning he hollered over his shoulder, "Hey Jim, will you go down to the basement pantry and bring up a bottle of my famous barbeque sauce? I'm running low out here."
"Sure, but don't ruin dinner until I get there," was James's reply, as he opened the downstairs door.

As James turned on the light and descended the stairs he was stopped in his tracks by an amazing sight.
There on a large table, almost filling the entire room, was the most intricate, astounding model of the solar system he'd ever seen!
There were no words to describe it's marvels and beauty.
All of the planets appeared in correct relative size and color. The detail was unbelieveable. Jupiter's stormy eye swirled! Saturn's individual rings seemed suspended and glowing. Every planet had the correct number of moons, all revolving in precise mathematical orbits. He could see craters on the earth's moons in their proper place and size. There was even a ring of asteroids that whirled between the inner and outer planets!
All this revolved around a center light representing the sun which was incredibly bright and seemed suspended from nowhere!

Jim stood, mouth agape in astonishment until he heard Mike hollering for
sauce from above.
He bounded up the stairs, without the sauce, to pummel his friend with questions.
He started even before he reached his friend and the grill.
"Mike, where in the world did you get such an astounding model!!! I've never in my entire life seen anything so incredible!! It should be in the Smithsonian after a world tour!!! Does the university president know about this? Come on, tell me everything!!!

He waited as he looked at his friend who was still turning hamburgers and hot dogs.

"Oh, you mean in the basement?" Mike asked casually.
"Well, it was the strangest thing. Mary and I had just gone to bed last night when suddenly we heard this terrific explosion coming from the basement. We both rushed down in a panic to see if we needed to evacuate the kids. When we got to the bottom of the stairs, there it was! We stood there watching it for the longest time before we could tear ourselves away and get back to bed. Beautiful isn't it?"

Jim looked at his friend as if he had lost his mind.
"Oh, come on, Mike! Do you think I'm an idiot! Nothing that intricate, detailed, and mathematically precise could come out of an explosion! Someone of astouding intelligence had to think this up and make it!!!

Mike locked gazes with his good friend and said, "Jim, that's what I've been telling you for years."

Lovely youngest daughter read this post and pointed out that I was in error once again.
I wasn't her favorite teacher. I was mean to her. Plus I didn't teach properly.
Mr. Honsigner, Mr. Tenney and Mr Cheney were never mean to her. And they knew cool stuff.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Tender Mercy

It's been quite a while since I've scribbled any new thoughts.
I have an excuse though.
My mind always did wander, but lately it's been off meandering around in some strange and foreign lands.
It keeps getting lost in unfamiliar landscapes.
You see this old retired teacher now finds herself in the first months of being a widow. After 51 years of being married I've been left behind.

Here I am, sent back to school to master a difficult life lesson, and being forced to pay attention to boot!

Whatever I'm supposed to learn from this experience must be critically important too, considering the sheer number of Father's children who are faced with a similar lesson plan.

So, even though I often find myself gazing wistfully out the window, daydreaming about past picnics on the beach, I'll pray to be a good student.

When my mind wanders off I'll send it back to the classroom where I must have said a thousand times to some teenaged kid meandering on paths of their own....

 "Hector! (Or Lucinda, or whomever) Will you please pay attention! You're smart, you can get this, but you need to focus or you won't pass Algebra! This is your last chance, Hector! If you don't pass Algebra this time you won't graduate! Focus please!"

Well you know what they say about paybacks.

In any case I'm surely not alone in deep water.
Virtually all of Father's beloved children are faced with these really hard life lessons at one time or another. The ones that knock the breath right out of you.
I can understand that too, because as a parent I know what a disaster it would be for my children to grow up in complete ease, without any difficult challenges.
What a mess they'd be, right? Weaklings for sure.
And heaven knows that the mightiest warriors are needed for today's battles.

Still, these past months, something that's been especially hard for me to see is my beloved children struggling under the burden of their own sorrow.

But now I have a new appreciation for Heavenly Father's perfect grit.

That he allowed his innocent Son to suffer so much was an amazing act of love for all the rest of us.
Mercy cannot rob justice and the Atonement was a perfect act of mercy and justice.
I can only imagine how much it cost Father to allow.

So, as I try to understand all that's in this "widow" lesson plan, I'll pray that each one in our family will move through their own grief, growing and figuring out important eternal principles as they do.

One thing I've learned is that Father doesn't leave us alone out here. I know that we're surrounded by his helpers, day and night, seen and unseen. I live with two of them.

And Larry himself came to help me a few months ago when I needed help most.

It was right after a beautiful Thanksgiving at our son's home. The first without Larry.

All of our kids, most of the grands, nieces, and many various other posterity were there. Everything was lovely and everyone was doing their best to be of good cheer.

We "West-sider" family had also used this day to bring baby gifts to shower our sweet Meg who was about to deliver our first great-grandbaby.

In addition, some of my wonderful family had given me a very precious gift.
It was a once in a lifetime labor of love that I will cherish always.

It was one of those "diamond days." This time filled with love and sadness at the same time.

Yet in the midst of all these bIessings I felt myself beginning to sink into a deep, paralyzing sadness. It was as if I were slowly falling into a dark hole.

It was the start of the holiday season and Larry wasn't here physically.

He always loved the holidays. For the first time in 51 years we wouldn't be together for all the happiness.
I was learning that the incomparable blessing of eternal marriage and knowlege of truth doesn't stop the aching of missing someone who's away.

After we left our son's home that afternoon I managed to tell the girls that I thought it would be best for me to skip Christmas this year.
I didn't think I'd be able to bear it without their father.
I hoped they would understand if I stayed at home by myself through all the rest of the festivities.
I didn't want to ruin everyone's happiness with my selfish tears.
They responded with quiet. Maybe they were praying.

Late that night something happened that changed everything for me.

Heavenly Father sent Larry with a message.
I feel it's okay to share it with you in hopes it may help someone else.

Most likely in a situation such as this you would expect a message from the other side to be filled with words of great comfort, gentle love, and encouragement.

But this is an exact quote of what Larry said to me. I recognized his irritated tone immediately.

"Knock it off, Babe! You're gonna ruin Christmas for a bunch of people on both sides of the veil if everybody has to worry about you! All I did was die! You know I like Christmas. And you know I love you and I'm waiting for you.
And, another thing. You have to quit wanting to come here all the time. You can't come here until you finish your mission."
Then he was gone. He didn't even say goodbye. He seemed to be in some kind of a big hurry.

Everything began to change then.

The dense, paralyzing fog started to lift. I found myself back in the realm of regular widow sadness. I'd already learned that giving service to others, no matter how small, helps with that.

I'm so grateful for the Lord's tender mercies.
It's amazing to me that He cares for each one of His children personally, knowing the exact nature of their needs.
I'm also grateful to know that Larry is so busy while waiting for me. I know he's growing in knowlege every day and has many opportunities to serve.

I have a message of my own for him. From this side. I send it with my love.

"Thanks Babe. It is Babe isn't it?"

He'll understand.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

That Famous Old Snake Story

There's a famous story that's been around a long, long, time. It's about a snake.
You may have heard it. 

Most likely, hundreds of teachers, including myself, have told it to the young people in their charge. 
I don't know who the original author might have been, but they have my gratitude. I'm grateful because one or two of the young people who heard the tale in my class said that it made them think. 

Thinking is a wonderful thing in a teenager.

So, just in case you haven't heard about snakes, or know a kid who's fooling around with one, here it is. 

There once was an Indian people who made their home on the vast plains of a beautiful land. Majestic mountains stood guard in the distance. 
This tribe had many honored traditions handed down from generation to generation. Among those traditions was a right of passage that all the young braves and maidens undertook as they left childhood and became adults. 
It involved a sacred journey.  
This is the story of one.

A lovely young maid stood at the edge of her village at dawn on a summer's day. It was her fifteenth birthday and now it was time to make her way into adulthood. Her family and friends surrounded her to wish her well. 
The sun rose as she walked across the golden fields, until finally at midday she reached the sacred mountains. This was where she was to make the difficult climb to a lofty overlook. She began to make her way over the jagged rocks and after several hours at last she could see the secluded ledge. It was large, sheltered from the wind, and faced beautiful vistas of the valley below.

When she reached the ledge the maiden sat to rest, and then to contemplate her future and her place in it. She watched as the sun set and the stars began to appear. She prepared a place to sleep and built a fire for warmth and to prepare her food.  The night passed with the young woman deep in thought, surounded by the beauty of the stars and sky.  
Dawn broke and the maiden prepared to return home. As she did, there came a rustle fom some brush and nearby rocks. Turning toward the sound, she saw a large rattlesnake beginning to coil and raise it's deadly head. 

In fear she began to slowly back away. She was grateful to see that she was just out of reach of the deadly serpent. 
But then an amazing thing happened. Something she could scarcely believe. As the snake raised it's ugly head from its coils it began to speak to her! 
"Lovely maiden," he hissed, "There's no need to be afraid. I mean you no harm. In fact, I need your help." 

In astonishment she listened as the snake continued.

"You see, I find myself unable to get down from this ledge and back to my home on the plains below. The sharp rocks make it impassible. But, if you will carry me down with you I will repay the favor with great gifts."
The snake hissed on, "Wondrous gifts await you, I promise! You'll see colors you've never imagined, hear sounds never before heard, and feel amazing sensations that defy description!" 

The young girl stepped back and said in disgust, "No, never! You're a deadly snake! You'll surely kill me."

"You can trust me, young maiden," he went on. "I'd never hurt you! Believe me. To prove it, I'll even give you a special treasure. I'll bestow great confidence and beauty upon you! Everyone will find you irresistable! I promise."

So, enticed by his silky words, the maiden lowered her hand to the ground. 

The snake slowly slithered up her arm and draped himself around her shoulders, his huge head poised to whisper in her ear. 
She shuddered, but then began working her way around the sharp rocks. All the while the snake repeated his golden promises. 

At last she reached the base of the mountain. She lowered her arm so the snake could slither off, glad to be rid of him forever.
Just as his tail slipped off her fingertips, the great snake turned its head, as if to say goodbye. 

Instead he lunged, sinking his venom filled fangs deep into her neck.

She screamed. 

As the maiden writhed in agony and fell to the ground, she called out in disbelief, "You lied! You promised! You said you wouldn't hurt me!"
The snake was already slithering away. But he paused just long enough to turn,

"Really, you foolish girl." he smirked, 
"You can't possibly be suprised."

As he slithered off he hissed with an evil grin, 
"You knew I was a snake when you picked me up."

Think about it. 
Thinking is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Christmas Envelope

Dear Readers,
This is a story that I read somewhere many years ago. I share it now so that my wonderful family will understand their Christmas presents.
May they, and all of you, be blessed with the peace and love brought to us by that tiny babe born under a shining star, and then laid in a manger.

The Christmas Envelope

It was getting on in the month of November.
A long married, well to do couple were heading out to a wrestling tournament where their youngest son, a high school senior, was to compete. This couple, Walter and Emily, had two older children... a daughter, now out of college and married, and another son in his last year of law school.

Walter and Emily had spent many a Saturday afternoon sitting on cold, hard benches watching one sporting event or another as their children grew up. As this day unfolded it crossed both their minds that "bleacher bum" was to end with their last child's graduation.
Strangely, it made them both a little bit melancholy.

They entered the gym and sat with old friends. As usual the men began talking of weighty matters like sports and the women of home and family.
The topic of Christmas shopping came up with the women.
Emily mentioned to her friend that this year she really wanted to give her husband something truly special. She didn't know why, but she wanted Walt to know how much he meant to her, and for once to get him something he truly loved.
"That man is so frustrating!" she complained, "He has everything he wants and I've looked all over town to find just the right thing. Nothing's right!"

Just then their sons' team began jogging into the gym accompanied by loud cheers and whistles, so conversation stopped.
The boys looked great in its bright school colors and insignias. Each athlete wore warm-up jackets with a fierce "Panther" embroidered on the back, long pants covering their wrestling singlets, and special wrestling shoes in team colors. The coaches all had shirts, ties and jackets tastefully embroidered with the team logo. The team manager came in pushing a huge cart full of equipment including all kinds of safety gear. As the "Panthers" got settled on their side of the gym the other team came in.

There was just a smattering of clapping and whistles for the opponents.
The other school was quite a distance away, in fact located in the inner city. Not many fans had made the long trip.
The wrestlers weren't dressed as a team, instead wearing t-shirts, sweats and jeans to cover their wrestling singlets. The coaches were in street clothes. The ref was talking to them while pointing at one of their boys shoes.
The match began and ended quickly. It was a rout.
The inner city kids fought a good fight but were hopelessly outmatched. Once a match was stopped while the opponents stopped to borrow a small sized headgear for one of their players, the one he was wearing was slipping. All the boys were good sports, each making sure to shake the hand of the winner.

As the crowd exited the gym Emily happened to overhear her husband say to his friend, "What a shame those kids don't have the gear they need. They've got heart that's for sure."
Emily was suddenly inspired!

Weeks passed and Christmas came. All the kids were coming home for their traditional Christmas Eve dinner and opening of gifts. The dinner was lovely as usual and then the family settled around the tree. Gifts were passed around and opened, everyone getting something on their wish list.
Emily opened a big box from her husband to find a gorgeous painting. She had admired it months before when the two of them were out together. She couldn't believe he remembered it! She was thrilled.
The kids began to clear away the wrapping debris when the youngest son said, "Mom, what'd you get for Dad?"

Emily went to the back of the tree and brought out an envelope hidden in the branches.
She handed it to Walter with a kiss and a "Merry Christmas darling, I hope it fits."

He opened it and found a card which said,
"In your honor the inner city wrestling team has been outfitted with jackets, warm-ups, shoes, and safety gear. The coaches have tastefully monogramed team blazers. All are in the school colors with a fierce mascot embroidered on the back."
Emily looked at Walter's face as he read the note. She could see by his expression and then by the big hug that she had finally found something he really wanted!

That's not the end of the story though. You see, soon the wonderful holiday season was over and then late in the fall of the next year, Walter died in a car accident.

The entire family was devastated but relying on faith and love to make it through each sad day.
Christmas was coming once again.
Emily had no heart for it but the children were coming home and she knew Walter wouldn't want them to be sad. He loved Christmas.
So the lovely dinner was prepared and afterwards they all gathered around the tree. Everyone was trying to be cheerful.
Presents were opened and the wrappings cleared away. As the family settled around the lights of the tree, all got quiet. Then the youngest son said, "Mom, I have a gift for Dad. Would you open it?"

Emily looked up in surprise as he went to the back of the tree and brought out an envelope. She opened it and read, "To Dad, in your honor this winter I've been clearing the snow from the walks of an elderly couple that live by the school. Merry Christmas! Love from your son.
Emily's eyes filled as she hugged their son.
Then, she could scarcely believe it when their daughter and oldest son got up and reached behind the tree too. They brought their envelopes to their mom. "These are for Dad." Acts of love and service were described inside.
Tears began to fall and she asked if someone would look on the top branch at the back. There was another envelope. It said, "To my darling Walter, Merry Christmas, From Emily."

So Walter may have moved on. But his legacy continues in his family. It's a legacy of love and service and exactly what Christ would want for Christmas.

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
                                                                                                    Matthew 25: 40

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
                                                                                                      Luke 2:11

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Mystery That Is Man

I've updated this post for our grandson Malachi.
He was over again today on one of his countless rescue missions in this now all-female household.
This time it was to fell an errant tree in the backyard that was in danger of doing damage.

As he headed his Eagle Scout self out back, he was armed.
Carrying a huge ladder and many sharp objects, including a fierce ax, he strode past me muttering enthusiastically about different ways to start a fire to burn the mountain of tree debris. Apparently green wood may need encouragement.

I listened in increasing alarm.

He mentioned that reinforcements had been called in to assist. His cousin and my nephew, Ivan, another male, is thankfully always willing to help us too. Mal thought that maybe he'd have some good ideas about that burning thing.

I was suddenly struck down by a wave of deja-vu.  "There it is," I thought.  "All over again, as they say."

Then from inside my head came a shout, "This kid reminds me of his grandfather!"

So, here's to you, Malachi.
And thank you so very much for taking such good care of us.
We never would have made it through the last year without you.


I may have shared this with you before but my memory is like a sieve now. Anyway, this subject's been on my mind lately.
The subject of men that is.
Or more precisely the mystery of the male animal.
You'd think that since I've been married for half a century, and all that time to a man, and because I’m not a stupid woman, some kind of insight concerning male thinking would naturally develop.
Sadly you’d be wrong.

This "man pondering" was brought on by our gorgeous desert fall weather, by the way.
Let me explain.

It’s planting time down here in our sunny valley.
Other folks in the northern hemisphere may be putting up storm windows and shoveling flakes but I’ve been keeping a sharp lookout at the big box stores for the first six packs of flowering annuals.
I nearly shouted with glee the other day when I scored some Johnny-jump ups.
I swear they looked like little purple and yellow giggles bobbing in the breeze….you couldn’t help but smile.

I even managed to get them planted in the back patio pots all by myself.
Grandkids had previously lugged the heavy bags of potting soil and filled them for me.
I snuck them in among the petunias, geraniums and dianthus already getting started.

Then as I surveyed my work my eyes cast over our entire backyard.
When we moved here years ago there wasn’t a green growing thing anywhere.
A few dried tumbleweeds had blown into the corners of the block fence, the only sign of life to be found.
So we planted trees and shrubs galore, hoping for shade from the relentless desert sun among other things.

As I looked around I realized how wildly successful we’d been.
In addition to what we’d planted on purpose there’d been a couple of volunteers now grown to huge trees. One mesquite will soon reach above the house.

In fact, it’s kind of a jungle out here now.
Something will need to be done, I worried.
Then my eyes fell on a bare spot along the fence. Once I’d planted a beautiful “String of Pearls” bouganvillia there but it didn’t make it.
I remembered the day I found out why.
It was one of those “the mystery that is man” days.

It was the first February we’d lived here. All our plantings were still new and tentative looking.
All except the weeds that were coming up in a solid carpet of green where nothing but dirt had been when we moved in.
Somehow the winter rains had magically found weed seeds waiting for moisture.
Nature’s miracle had happened in our own backyard. Front yard too, actually.

Well, the miracle must be stopped.
And it must be stopped right away because the homeowners association would send us an ugly letter if weeds were spotted from the street.
Don’t get me wrong. We’re actually grateful for our HO. It protects the neighborhood property values from people like us.

So Larry was put in charge of getting rid of the weeds.
I didn’t even have to nag him because he’s afraid of the Homeowners Ass. (As he fondly calls it.)
I was thinking some kind of herbicide spray would do the trick. And maybe some pulling.
But then I was not Larry, who is a man.

The first thought that came to his mind when given the task of weed removal was to build a contraption out of a two wheeled dolly (that thing you move heavy appliances with), a long sprayer device, and a propane tank from the barbeque filled with explosives.
This wouldn’t have occurred to me.
His invention shot fire out the end of the sprayer and made a terrifying blasting, whoosing noise like a hot air balloon being filled before liftoff. A neighbor actually called.
He drug it along behind him as he went from weed to weed incinerating it. It left awful black burn marks all over the yard and caused dogs to bark from blocks away.
It was horrible.

One day our daughter and son-in-law came over when Larry was “weeding,” as he now loved to do.
Scott, who is also a man, thought this remarkable invention was a stroke of genius and asked to borrow it for their yard.
I joyfully convinced Larry that he needed to share. It made him sad but he agreed.

A couple of days later I got a frantic call from Kim.
“Ma, tell Dad to come get his fire blower. Scott is burning up the whole yard and black splotches are everywhere. Today I caught the boys looking at it and I know they were trying to figure out how it works. That thing is dangerous! Get him over here quick before someone gets hurt!”

I did notice that none of their five daughters were reported to have tried to figure out how it worked.
Only the males who would one day become men.
Apparently this thing starts early.

Anyway, a few weeks later Larry and I were again out in the yard working when I noticed my lovely “String of Pearls” bouganvillia over along the fence. This variety was a hard to find delicate pinkish white. I was anxious to see it in color.
To my great dismay it looked sick. In fact it looked dead.
I said to my dear husband, “Oh no…..look at my bouganvillia! And it was doing so well!

Larry stopped what he was doing and gazed across the yard to my poor plant.
“That’s too bad, Hon.” he said in a sympathetic tone.
He stopped to stare quietly for a minute and then remarked, “I think it must get too hot over there by the fence.”

“Too hot!” I cried. No, that can’t be it. Bouganvillia love the heat.”
I walked sadly over to investigate.
There among the black scorch marks on the ground were poking the charred roots of my once promising plant.

I turned and sent an accusing look over at my husband.

He actually said without shame, “Look….there’re no weeds around it.”

This whole thing got me to thinking about the scriptures.
Specifically about Adam in the garden of Eden. As I recall it tells about a time when Adam was left alone there.
Father looked down on him and said something like…….
“Will you look at that. There’s Adam all alone in the garden. Well, that certainly is NOT good!"

I think He may have added, "Good grief he needs help! Quick, hurry and get a woman or there’s no telling what will happen.”
Perhaps there wasn't room to include everything.

And so woman was put on the earth.
If you think about this even a little you’ll realize that one of the divine purposes of woman’s existence is to stop men from doing all the crazy stuff they want to do.
You can read all about it in the Old Testament.
You’ll notice that there’s no mention of Adam making a fire blowing weed killer.
Thank you Eve.

It’s amazing to me how the scriptures, most of them written long ago, still apply to our lives today.
I guess some things never change, do they?