Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Door Cometh!

After three years, over a dozen catalogs, innumerable websites and at least 10 visits to various showrooms, our new front door has been ordered and is due to arrive today! This is like the keystone of the arch that is the completion of this epic journey of remodeling that we began nigh these 2.5 years ago. Ah the agony and the ecstasy! Tim will put it in this week. YEA!!!!

Then comes the wood flooring in the hallway, carpet on the stairs, paint touch ups and voila!! Time for mirrors and pictures and frames and any other doodads that will make our house a home! It's hard to believe, really. Then...only the lounge is left. Only the lounge to fix up. Oh, and then the kids' rooms need to be painted and new furniture for Sarah's room and shelves in the cupboards in the girls' room and a dresser for our bedroom and...

Will it never end?

I suppose it's a good thing Tim is addicted to DIY*...


*(Do It Yourself projects.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And...

...and just a side note. Anyone who can remember the 80's will remember the bizarre (yet strangely fascinating) looks of English punk rockers. I have a sneaking suspicion that some have grown up and moved to my neighborhood. Else why would a couple of otherwise respectable-looking 40 year old mothers in the schoolyard be streaking their hair neon colors with just a hint of spike tossed in? At first I had to stop myself from staring. Now I just accept that time alone does not eradicate one's inner punk. Once a punk rocker, always a punk rocker. And why would you want it any other way? Right?

Those Wacky English

The English love to abbreviate. At Christmas-time you receive pressies not presents and you eat Christmas pud, not pudding during the hols when you're out of school. When you graduate from secondary school you attend uni, not university. If you describe something it might be fab, brill, and naf, although I'm not really sure that last one qualifies, since I haven't been able to find out from whence that word came. I think it's a fabulous, brilliant word though.

This practice extends into daily life as well. You may eat choccies or biccies but not at brekkie because no one eats chocolates or biscuits at breakfast. (Well, except maybe the kids of some of the parents I see at the primary school.) Though you could eat sarnies for lunch, preferably a lovely chicken salad on a bagette. Mmm...

If you're a sporty dude, you may play footie with the guys, but that doesn't mean you're trying to pick up on them. It just means you're playing football. Soccer, for the American readers. And you must don a cossi if you want to be able to swim. No one is allowed to swim in public without his or her swimming costume. Swimsuit, again for the Americans.

So, a conversation may go something like this:

"Mum! Where's my cossie for uni?"
"Don't know. Eat your brekkie. Did you get that pressie Gran sent you?
"Yeah. Sends choccies and biccies every year. Fab gran, she is."
"Packed your sarnie. When's your hols?"
"Next week. Playing footie lay-tuh."
"Fab. Bye!"
"Whatevuh. Right."

I love this country!

Just read this to Tim and asked if it was okay. He said, "Yeah. It's brill!" Honestly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kim

My friend Kim passed away peacefully on December 9, surrounded by her family, held close in the hearts and minds of her many friends worldwide. This woman lived. She influenced so many people, showed such love that several people commented on her website that they'd only met her once, but wouldn't forget her.

Her life causes me to reflect on my own and there are so many ways I want to live it more fully--and help my family to do the same. I will never forget her.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Gosh. It's been awhile. So much has happened, is happening--but that's true of everyone I know. The world is not a static place. Lives are not static. Something's always happening. And I'm not just the Queen of Zippergutting. I'm also the Queen of Obvious Statements.

I have this friend. I've known her since I was about 18 or 19. We've kept in touch off and on through the years with varying degrees of intensity and frequency. Regardless, I've always felt close to her. It didn't matter where she was, or where I was, I always felt Kim in my life.

I met her at what was then known as Ricks College in Idaho. We were both involved in the Theater Department. She was interesting to me on so many levels. She had this fascinating background: raised in Zimbabwe, parents from Scotland and Italy, cool accent, only one sister as contrasted with my multiplicity of siblings. She seemed so much more a person of the world than I ever was and yet still just pure and unjaded. And we were friends. She was accepting and loving and loyal.

I remember being out late one particular winter night wandering around the campus with our two male buddies. The night was surprisingly bright because of moonlight reflected on the snow. The sidewalks were clear but the snowbanks were so deep that we would spontaneously fall back into them and we'd say funny things to each other and laugh and giggle. Every once in awhile we'd have to hide behind trees to escape detection from campus security officers patrolling for curfew breakers, which also sent us into fits of laughter.

I remember feeling supremely happy that evening in particular and feeling that it was all serendipity--the perfect night. Best friends, lots of laughter, feeling like everything was right with the world. I didn't want the night to end. We stayed up really really late and I think we may have fallen asleep at the boys' house. I know it was one of many such nights--and days, really. Incredibly happy times.

Then there was the weekend the summer before my mission that another California-based friend and I drove up to Rexburg for one of those buddy's mission farewells. Kim was there doing summer theatre and while I don't remember exactly what we talked about, I remember us having a long and late, late conversation and thinking then how wise she was.

When she took a nannying job, we talked a few times on the phone and I remember how excited she was when she was leaving that job that her employers let her have their golden retriever. She was so attached to him that they knew he'd be happier with Kim.

One of my favorite memories of her is when she brought her fiance to meet me at my dad's veterinary clinic in Orem after she got engaged. We were both about 30 then. I have such a clear memory of them--how happy and giddy they were. Her beautiful smile--she positively beamed as they held each others' hands and they talked and looked at each other and I could tell how much they loved each other. I was so happy for her--so happy for him. She gave me hope that one could still marry at our ancient(!) age, find someone wonderful and be extremely happy.

Kim said something to me long before she ever met him, that she wanted to marry an angel with a little devil inside and when she introduced her Dean, she told me she'd finally found him! I loved that saying and it became my motto, too. I repeated it to friends often, always giving her credit, of course. And my Tim is that, too--so much an angel, but with that devilishly appealing side to him.

Over the years she's sent baby announcements and beautiful pictures of her two kids who are now about 10 and 5. We've talked on the phone, but most often our communication has been through Christmas cards, emails and other written updates. It was always a happy surprise to see her distinctive handwriting on an envelope and know I had something wonderful from Kim. I still have a Christmas music tape she sent to me a while back. I play it every year.

Without her knowing it, she has been a consistent part of my life since we were at Ricks. Even if we weren't in contact, I thought of her so often and sometimes thoughts of her and what she'd advise or do influenced some decisions. Isn't that funny?

Kim is gentle and kind. She is strong and determined. She is quietly immovable when she needs to be and so fluidly flexible when that is the right course. She always seemed to me to be able to be so very appropriate in any circumstance and to adapt to whatever came her way. Above all she is such a loving person. Genuine, beautiful, inclusive. She has influenced me for good my whole life, again, without even being physically near me.

And now, inconceivably, she is dying of colon cancer. Her husband writes poignantly about these last days with her:

"Kim is slipping away to a better place, slowly. Her mind has been traveling that path, unevenly, for two weeks; and now has all but disappeared in an underbrush of lost memories. We can hear her sorting through them: we've caught snippets of special occasions and happy times, good friends and even what sounded like lines from a theatre production or two. But mostly, she files away her everyday: she asks after the kids--we tell her, honestly, that they're o.k.; she asks about the rest of the house--we lie to her that it's just as clean and tidy as she left it; she resurrects lists of chores and honey-do's and and tells us impatiently to 'get on with it now'--we stall, or ignore her outright. These things, thankfully, haven't changed.

Her body will follow down the path, but more slowly. Her reserves of energy and wiry strength will carry her, the hospice nurses now say, for days or even weeks more.This is hard."

I knew a year and a half ago, when she sent word that a doctor's appointment made to explore a vague pain in her abdomen had led to the discovery of stage four colon cancer that things didn't look good. But she persevered and went through treatments and chemo and operations and there was always that sense of hope that she would be one of the lucky ones. I read internet stories of healing and statistics and thought that she would write her own tale of harrowing escape. But it was not to be.

I read the last entry from her husband and couldn't stop crying. I can't imagine this. It doesn't seem real. I think of Dean and their two children and I feel so sad for them. Then I think of my own husband and children going through this very thing four years ago and it all comes home. It reminds me of why this time of year is so hard for them because Christmas Day four years ago was a bit like the beginning of the end of their wife and mother's two plus years' fight with cancer. She spent half the day at home and the rest in the hospital. She was gone two months later.

This separation seems so cruel and unfair. The only thing that I can say with certainty is that God is in His heaven and that He loves each of us and watches over each of us. Somehow He helps us through. Somehow He helped my husband and family and somehow, He will help Kim's family as well.

But for now, what I want to say to Kim is this: Thank you for your goodness and grace. Thank you for being my friend. I miss you already.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Google Reader

Yeah, I just totally figured out how to use Google Reader, and now, you can't escape me. I'm subscribed, man. I get you. I get it quick. I'm not so very computer dumb. Pretty dumb, but not totally computer dumb. So yeah. I like Google Reader. I really like Google Reader.

Oh, and if you say "pri' ee" that means "pretty" here. By "here", I mean in the school yard of my kids' school, or any street in the near vicinity. And by "you", I mean tattooed-by-your-drunk friend, cigarette- danglin'-from-the-lip, bad-home-hair-dye-job, tube-top-three-sizes-too-small, belly-roll-showin', f-word-usin', not-likin'-to-shower type of person. Just for clarity.

Monday, July 21, 2008

On the Subject of Gardening...

So...I decided to get all busy and re-pot all the poor stray straggler plants that were uprooted with our building works two years ago. They look so lovely in their new homes! I set them out in front of our house to decorate our front drive and doorstep, feeling quite proud of myself and so happy for my little green friends. I asked our 17 yr old son to come out and help me arrange them. He looked at them, looked at me, looked at one particular pot and then said, "Why did you plant a weed?"

My husband says I have to tell you that the plants in England are all so lovely that even the weeds are worth potting.

I still haven't ripped it out.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

100th Post!

So I don't say anything for months on end and then I write about Tim Russert. Kinda bizarre. Kinda out in left field. Maybe at the time it was easier to talk about Tim Russert dying of a heart condition than about my father being hospitalized for his.

My dad was in the hospital. He had two angioplasties, receiving three stents. They also did a bunch of other scans and tests because he was in pain and they couldn't find the source. All that poking and prodding beat the stuffing out of him and yet he tried to go back to work a few days after getting out of the hospital. He's one of those old school hardworking types. Even so, being down there just an hour or so was too much.

Ya think??

When I had my stents put in, the medical minds had me basically tied to the bed for the first week. I'm thinking a 72-year-old man might need at least that.

There's no avoiding the issue. My dad isn't well. He's tired. His heart is in bad shape and getting worse. I used to joke that he worked harder than two men half his age. It wasn't really much of a joke. He seemed able to do anything.

My veterinarian father will be officially retiring as of July 10. I think giving up work will be the hardest thing he's ever done. It feels a little like a death in the family. We always said that work was the thing keeping Dad alive and that we'd know the end was near when he couldn't work anymore. Now that he really can't work anymore, I am hoping we were very, very wrong.

It is an interesting thing that these past few months my father's now scattered bits of energy are being spent mostly on his clients rather than on his family. I do not wish to sound critical. It is simply an observation.

I don't know if this is true of most men, that work appears to be more important than relationships. Or maybe it is that men have a different way of expressing their commitment to relationships. Maybe it is hard for my dad to give up his work because he will then feel that he is not providing for the people he loves most.

Are men mostly defined by what they do, while women are mostly defined by relationships? I think I read that somewhere. Maybe that's why he's seeing clients rather than seeing family. Maybe in a not-too-obvious way my dad is actually showing his love for my mother and for us, his children and grandchildren. I want that to be the explanation. I want that to be the truth.

I know my dad loves us. I know he worked hard to provide for us. I know he came from a generation of men who had less to do with child rearing than today's more involved fathers. I know all these things. I understand all these things. I accept all these things. And yet, I can't help but wish I had more of my father in my life and less of my father's work.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tim Russert

I came back from a weekend away with my husband to find out that Tim Russert had died suddenly of a heart attack at aged 58. You wouldn't think that the death of a news journalist would have the strong effect it has had on the industry, the nation, and on individuals. I've read the articles, watched the interview of his son by Matt Lauer and I feel stunned.

I'm not the least bit embarrassed to admit that I have shed tears over a man that I've never met. To me he was the only member of the press that I felt I could trust. It didn't matter to me what political leanings he had. I felt that he was honest and as unbiased as he could be. I also felt intuitively that he was a moral man, a man of good character, someone genuine and real. It doesn't surprise me to find out that he was strongly religious and that he valued his family. It doesn't surprise me to find out that he was a loving father, husband and son. He was the kind of man you would love to live next door to and be buddies with.

I look at Tim Russert and I think about how easy it was to read him. Who he was permeated all he did and said. I am touched by the kind things his colleagues say about him and I'm somehow relieved and renewed to know that I wasn't wrong, that he really was as good as I thought. It gives me hope to think that not everyone in the public eye is corrupt, that some of the most public of figures can be admirable--honorable even. I have become so jaded about politics and government and all it entails. It was nice to know that there was at least one man who I could trust.

I think the lesson of Tim Russert for me is that who we are permeates all we say and do, too, even if we don't want it to. No matter how hard we may try to hide it, who we are is out there for all to see. He really was who he seemed to be, a truly good and moral man. Tim Russert makes me want to be more like him, and more to the point, more like the Person he put his own faith in.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Old Before My Time...

First I had to have my knee replaced...about 20 years too soon.

Then the viscous fluid in my eye pulled away from the back wall of the socket--which is perfectly normal--after you're 65.

A year ago I had to have my rotator cuff repaired after a massive tear, which usually doesn't occur before you're retirement age.

Now I've really gone and done it. I've managed to have a mild heart attack...at 44. What the hell is going on???

I got out of the hospital today. Yesterday the one blockage I had was repaired with angioplasty and stents (possibly a UK spelling) placed in the artery. I'll be taking 5 different medications from now on, most for the rest of my life.

The good news is, I should make a complete recovery and, even better news, I have a really cool story to tell at dinner parties!

This trend has got to stop, though. The story telling may be fun, but the treatment and recovery from these things aren't. I've had enough.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Something Else...

After reading an article about Pres Hinckley's death, I slid down the page to the comments section. I was taken completely by surprise. I expected warm comments from little old ladies in Utah saying what a good man he was. The vitriol bubbling off the page was unexpected, to say the least. Some people really hate Mormons. Some of the most rabid comments came from fellow "Christians". I appreciated the statement one person made, that comments such as these would not be made by any Mormons after the Pope or any other religious leader passed away. I hope that is true. Another asked why the hateful ones felt the need to spend their time bashing instead of building their own church. I agree. I honestly don't understand why they do it. I felt really yucky after reading it. I just wanted to read nice messages about Pres. Hinckley, not about how leaving the #%$&# Mormon church had made one man's @#$% life so @$%^ much better than it had ever been and how @#$%*& happy he was about it. Call me cynical, but he didn't really sound too @#$% happy.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

I just called and cancelled a dinner appointment with the sister missionaries in our ward. I think I would feel guilty, except for the fact that they've cancelled on me twice and the elders have cancelled on me three times. They say it's because of "other obligations", "P-Day rules", "Zone Conference" or "teaching appointments". I say it's because they don't like my cooking.

But that's impossible. I haven't screwed up a recipe in ages. Well...not since Christmas Eve when I mixed jalapenos into the enchilada filling instead of mild chillies. I didn't even know I owned a can of chopped jalapenos until I took a big bite of the chicken filling and gasped in fire-breathing pain. Grabbed the wrong cans off that Walmart shelf on my last trip to the US I guess, dagnabit.

At least we didn't have the missionaries over for dinner that night...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Hot cross buns are in stores again. I bought two packs, knowing they usually disappear too fast once I get them home to warrant a single pack buy. It wasn't until I was putting the groceries away that I realized there are only two people in our family who eat them. One is in Ghana for the next 21 months and the other is in Japan for the next week. It made me miss them both more. I put one pack in the freezer and, because I'd already opened the other, polished it off single-handedly over the next two days.

Why is it that I can't throw away food? What part of my brain gives me the green light to ingest untold quantities of cold ex-dinners, thus slapping it directly onto my already too-large hind quarters, rather than scrape it all into the compost bucket? I know there are starving children in Africa, but me having a rear the size of Manhattan isn't gonna help 'em.

I didn't grow up during the Depression. I don't have any horror stories of begging in the streets to save my sickly baby brother from starvation. I didn't ever go to bed hungry except as a rare yet effective punishment. I have no rational explanation for my inability to chuck that half cup of green beans or that last 1/16th slice of the apple pie-ish dessert thing Hannah whipped up the other night. It all goes into the fridge for a short layover before it reaches one of two final destinations: the compost heap (moldy and stinky) or my saddlebags (flabby and ripply).

Maybe we should invest in a garbage disposal.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Might as well start now...

I said I'd write again.

I'm still in England. I'm still married. We still have 6 children and the house is still under construction. We do have a beautiful working kitchen, but no radiators yet or flooring--just plywood. It will come. I think we're ordering a new front door before Tim leaves for Japan again on Sunday.

Tim is leaving for Japan on Sunday. He was there in December for two weeks which we did not enjoy, and he will travel there again after he's been home for two weeks after this trip. Too bad he has an aversion to Japanese food. What a colossal sushi opportunity flushed down the drain.

I got this cookbookhttps://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_/105-3253596-6898038?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=nigella+express (I wish I knew how to do the cool linking thing computer literate people know how to do.) for Christmas and her other book, Feasts. I love this woman, this Nigella Lawson. She's this gorgeous, voluptuous woman who makes no excuses for her love of food. Were I not a married heterosexual and she the same, well, who knows.

Last Saturday Tim and I traveled to one of the Home Office branches near us and applied in person for my Residence Permit that grants me "indefinite leave to remain in the UK." So what you have to do when you marry someone British is get the initial visa to stay here and then, after two years you have to apply to stay for real. They require documentation showing that you've been living together (documents from both years), that you're really settled In England and that you understand both the English language and the English culture. To the first I say, sure. I can usually make myself understood and I can usually understand. Unless the accent is too thick. And then I just nod and smile. The second? Uh. Well? Maybe. Can anyone? Really?

There is an official test one must take to "prove" you have command of the language and the culture. It is called The Life in the UK Test. There's a book you buy, read and study, then a fee you pay, (there's always a fee), then you take the test, then they give you a paper that says you passed. Cling to that paper, as they will not print another one and the Home Office expects to see it when you go to them begging not to be deported.

So, with great procrastinatorial aplomb, I finished reading the book about 10 minutes before we left for the test. We were allowed 45 minutes to take the test of 24 multiple-choice questions. I finished in two. Then I took another minute to check my answers. I thought I missed one. Found out at the Home Office I missed two. Darned if that mystery missed answer hasn't haunted me since. I know I got the one wrong about who gets a discount on train fare, but I thought I had the rest. Sample of questions: What holiday is the day after Christmas? What does a trade union representative do? How many million people are there in England? True or false: All eye exams are free in Scotland. (That would be true, by the way.)

Having passed the test, last Saturday we presented all our documents and our most earnest, non-terrorist countenances at glass window 11 and waited for the verdict. And....I'm in! much to the chagrin of the oldest children who feigned grave disappointment. At least I think they feigned.

Kathryn is not dropping off to sleepy-time land very quickly lately and will sometimes climb out of bed and say in her best 3 year old voice (she's 5 by the way) "I had a scawy dweam!" to justify her noncompliance with our wishes that she remain firmly ensconced in own comfy little bed. The other night she hadn't been in bed long enough to dream so scrambled for a quick justification and came up with this one: "I had a scawy life!"

I think it's best that I end with that.

Blogday, November 28, 2005

I was curious how easily my children or other people I know could find my blog with just one key word and found it to be frighteningly easy. I thought there would be more anonymity, but no. Does it really matter? I haven't written regularly for ages, so probably not.

I do have a request, though. Through the online search I found a blog entry of one of my friends http://foxyj.blogspot.com/ (an excellent blog!) where she celebrated her Blogday by using an idea of another blogfriend who asked for "lurkers" to come out of the woodwork and reveal who they were and how they found her blog. I'm guessing, due to lack of regular entries of late, that there will not be many, but I'd love to hear anyway! Sure my real, official Blogday was back in November, but I was on a plane, so cut me some slack, yeah?

I will start writing again. It's a New Year's resolution. Happy New Year to all!