Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mojave is hot but 'snot as hot as Redhots

When our family lived in Bishop, we went south to Los Angeles one weekend for a visit. On our way, we stopped at at Taco Bell in Mojave. While standing in line, Brad was studying the menu while eating Redhots. He had a few in the palm of his hand when he had to sneeze. Without thinking, he put his hand, with the Redhots up to his face to block the spray of his sneeze. After the sneeze, he sniffed before removing his hand from his nose and face. He got this concerned look on his face and his eyes got great big. He said, "I think I sniffed a redhot up my nose!" He was looking in his wet hand trying to remember how many Redhots were in his hand before he sneezed.
We started laughing and thought he was just joking around. But, his eyes were watering and his nose was beginning to run pink!!!! His nose was stinging like the Dickens and he was getting panicky. He finally figured that he needed to blow it out and was eventually successful in getting it out. However, his nose continued to leak red snot for a little while.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to avoid the Dole 101

When I was a young mother, I had a problem that cropped up because of the fact that my children didn’t appreciate the benefits they were receiving. We provided them food, shelter, clothing recreation and love. (They knew we loved them most days.) They knew that their father worked long hours to pay for food, shelter, and clothing for them and that I spent long hours washing their clothing, cooking and cleaning up after them. They were asked to keep their rooms tidy and do a few chores when they were old enough.
By and by, I discovered that there were clothes in the hamper that were not dirty. They decided it was easier to throw clean clothes into the hamper than to fold them or hang them up when I asked them to clean up their rooms. So, I decided that I should teach them to wash their own clothing. When the kids were about 12 years old, they were old enough to be taught how to wash clothing. I never got any complaints that they didn’t have clean underwear after that because they knew it was their own problem. They didn’t put clean clothes in the hamper, either. When I saw that they were being very responsible, I would reward them with some assistance in folding and putting the clothes away for them, occasionally
When my children began complaining that we weren’t buying designer clothing that was popular with their age group, we decided on a plan to make their dreams come true. We started giving them a generous allowance so they could purchase their own clothing. They had a tally sheet showing earned cash and we had pay day at the end of the pay period. They got paid for completing their chores and got paid very well for doing extra chores. We even paid them for brushing their teeth just so they’d have enough money for basic clothing. This really worked well. They started taking better care of their own clothing so it would last longer and they started looking at the price tags on clothing they were buying. In short, my kids became happy misers. They shopped the sales racks like pros. They also were dressed more stylishly because I didn’t know what was in style and they did.
There is a principle that is at work here and it is this: When someone is doing their own work and using their own money, they don’t waste. And conversely, when people are using other people’s money and having someone serve them, they are usually wasteful.
It makes you think. When the government starts giving you free this and that….how many resources are we wasting and how many lazy people are we creating. AND how many of us will be getting healthcare that we don’t want instead of shopping around for good deals and getting what we want. And don't forget, nothing is FREE!! SOME HARD WORKING PERSON IS PAYING FOR IT. Beware the nanny state! It will be chaos.

Monday, September 14, 2009

More Job Follies

I had a great job for two summers during my college years. I worked in the first visitors center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. We did office work, helped people in and out of theaters, helped with noon organ recitals at the tabernacle, and kept things organized in the first floor desks. I even got to give the accoustics demonstration in the tabernacle and walk into the attic of the tabernacle for an inside look at the materials used in the building such as square nails and plaster with horse hair in it to add strength. I was lucky to have the job.

On the 24th of July Pioneer Day, the parade went past the square and while everyone attended the parade, not many people came through the visitor's center. So, we had a little break in the back room for refreshments. We were sitting on a counter eating sweet rolls and a girl was pouring orange juice for everyone. I held my glass out to the person pouring. There was a girl sitting between me and the pourer. I saw that I had enough in my glass and pulled my glass out from under the pitcher and the pourer kept pouring onto the lap of my friend. I have no idea what made me lose my mind and leave her covered in orange juice. Of course she had nothing to change into so we found something to wrap her in while we washed her skirt. Susanne forgave me. He had a good sense of humor about it. That is a vivid memory.

On the country's bi-centenial, July 4, 1976, there was a bomb scare on temple square while I was working. They evacuated the area except for security personel and ME! They needed someone that was expendible to help them look through the visitors center to see if anyone looked out of the ordinary. We went room by room looking at and in garbage cans and shelves and corners for anything out of place or foreign. In the end, it was proven to be a hoax, but it was pretty exciting and what a great story. I figure I have but one life to give for my country....just kidding.

My next job and the last job I had before I began teaching school was my job at the Park City Golf Course. They called me the Greens Queen because I drove the machine that said "Greens King" on the side of it to mow the greens. When I was learning how to use it, my first time on it, I drove it into a little stream. It had no brakes. So when I started rolling backward, I couldn't get it to stop and I rolled backwards into the creek. I can still remember the helpless feeling I had rolling into the drink. No harm was done to the machine or me. So I got back on and learned from the experience.

I later drove the same machine into the lake when I was mowing an apron of the green that was inches away from the edge of the lake. I also drove a seven gang fairways mower that was a BIG machine. I could lower each set of blades one at a time or all at once. I could mow a large swath in one pass. It was pretty fancy. I had a cage-like seat area that protected me from golfers hitting balls at me for good reason. It was target practice many times. I had a tractor that dragged a 5 gang mower behind it and it was tricky to back up. I got a little too close to some little saplings sometimes and nearly took out some larger trees when I misjudged how close I was getting to the rough. I learned to back up in tight places and manipulate the blades after much sweat and nervous moments. But I never lost a tree. I surely got a great tan that summer.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What could be worse than a raccoon attack?

We were camping at Refugio a couple of years ago. Cassie and Hayley were in the tent with Glenn and I. We were about to go to sleep when we heard rustling in the garbage hanging to the side mirror of the car next to the tent. We had forgotten to take it to the dumpster. We had seen some raccoons around and thought we had one sharing our garbage. It walked up next to our tent and we could see a small body pressing on the tent. I gave it a good swift kick with the side of my bare foot and launched it a couple of feet away. It still continued making noise so we found a flashlight and unzipped a window slightly. To our shock and horror, our intruder was a very large skunk. I can't believe we weren't sprayed after I kicked it. Needless to say, we didn't pester it any further.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


The bridge was out on I-80 eastbound in Nebraska. There were no hotels except a scary smokey dive that didn't look clean. So, we drove on, finding an alternate route that the locals suggested. The state detour would have flung us way off course. When daylight hit, I was driving. We were back on I-80 and I spotted a rest stop. I was falling asleep and everyone in the car was asleep in the back of the van. I put the seat back and started to doze but Glenn popped up and said he was rested enough to drive. He decided to go use the restroom before setting off. We were about 1 1/2 hours from Omaha.
Just as Glenn strode off, I decided I'd better go to the restroom myself. Knowing that Glenn was faster than I was, I hurried. I was just steps behind him and I quickly washed my hands as I exited, not even drying them on a paper towel.
I looked up to see the van driving past me accelerating toward the freeway entrance. Not caring how foolish I looked, I took chase using my very loud whistle to try to flag him down. I was running after him in the on-ramp to the freeway waving my arms and being glad I was in a red shirt. Finally, one of the kids recognized my whistle and they stopped the van or maybe Glenn saw me in the rear view mirror. But, I can't help but wonder what all those people back at the rest stop thought when I livened up their Sunday morning and woke all the sleepy travelers taking a short nap. Glenn says he thought I crawled in the back of the van and went to sleep. Likely story......hmmmm.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

School Clothes

We lived in Bishop, California for eight years. There was a K-mart there and a very small JC Penney's store that you would have expected to see in Mayberry in the 50s. It was a glorified mail order store. We shopped at both but when it came to Christmas and buying a boatload of school clothes for 5 children, our kids were either all dressed alike for the school year or we had to leave town for a shopping trip.

When we went on vacation to Utah or Sacramento, we planned a shopping spree.We hopped in our big converted van equipped with a television and video player. We pulled a trailer that had a plywood top. Because of that trailer, we had breathing room inside the van. With 7 passengers, it would have been tight with all our trappings.

On the way home from one of those vacations, I had been driving for a couple of hours and in Ely, Nevada, I switched with Glenn and took a turn sleeping in the bed in the back. That area of the desert is open ranch to hundreds if not thousands of cattle so there are lots of cattle guards on the roadways. I was awakened by a pretty big jolt as we went over a cattle guard about an hour or more after leaving Ely. I looked out the back window and the trailer had lost it's roof and more than a third of it's contents.

I hollered for Glenn to pull over. We assessed the situation and Glenn determined that he'd unhook the trailer and go back to see if he could find our stuff. We were on Highway 6 between Ely and Tonapah, Nevada. We might as well have been dumped onto the set of a wild west movie shot in the 50's. It would have been in color but there was nothing but gray and brown with a black road running through it. The sun was up when he left. Yes, I said HE left. He wanted us to stay with the trailer so no one would steal our suitcases and sleeping bags. So all 5 kids and I climbed out and stood by the side of the road next to an unhinged (literally) trailer.

Highway 6 to Bishop is not well traveled. We thought Glenn would go back and find everything on the side of the road, maybe shredded by a car running over it. But, we thought he'd be back rather quickly. We waited and waited and he didn't come back. In about an hour only 4 or 5 cars or fewer had passed us. But, they PASSED us and weren't curious enough to stop and see why a mother and 5 children were out in the desert with a trailer (too large for a handcart) and no vehicle to pull it. We could have been deserted by an abusive husband/father and left for the coyotes to devour. (Yes we could hear coyotes in the distance that were making Hayley nervous.)But more likely we were desert dwellers waiting for the pony express to bring us much needed supplies.

One hour passed and the kids decided to explore the packed items still in the trailer. Tennis rackets and balls were uncovered and we had a game of tennis on the highway. They scampered off like jackrabbits when the rare car blew by. That was a tennis game to remember. Finally after over two hours, Glenn came back with one pair of old tennis shoes and a pair of new socks that had been sitting conspicuously by the side of the road as if someone had just stepped out of them. Someone had picked up our bags and bags of new clothes and taken them home with them. Glenn had gone clear to Ely and reported it to the police but no one had reported finding any items. I suspected that the people in the truck that sped by, rather than slowing down a bit like the other vehicles, were the ones who took our stuff.

We pulled all the remaining items that were in the trailer into the van and attached the trailer to the back of the van. The trailer flew jovially over the remaining cattle guards enjoying it's lightened load while we contemplated our mail-order fate. It was only clothes. Nobody died.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ants in your pants?

My brother Phil stood on a red ant hill one day at the neighbors. Ants, if you don't know it, climb to the highest point. So, up they went to the top of Phil's head, biting as they went. He went screaming into our neighbors house for help. Ant's abandoned ship into her kitchen. She grabbed Phil and took him outside and hosed him down.

My daughter Hayley, coincidentally, did the same exact trick when she was about 4 years old. She found a bed of ants by the mailbox and stood in them. Lucky for me, I paid attention earlier and knew to grab a hose. I'm not sure Hayley thought I was helping out or torturing her. She screamed about the water as much as the ants. Come to think of it, that was Phil's reaction too.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Rabbit Died.

With the coming of new grandchildren, I have been reminded of the days when there were so many unknowns in pregnancy. First of all, there was not an internet to ask questions that you didn't want to ask just anyone.

In the 1930's a doctor would inject a woman's urine into a rabbit to see if she was pregnant. Then they'd do an autopsy on the rabbit to see if it's ovaries had burst. If they did, the woman was pregnant. The rabbit died whether she was pregnant or not.

Even in 1978, when I began having babies, there were no "early" pregnancy tests and there was nothing over-the-counter.

I remember calling my doctor one day and asking the nurse if I could come in to have a pregnancy test. She told me I had to wait for about a month more before they would do a blood test. That would be 10 weeks after conception. Believe me, by the time they did a pregnancy test, my nausea told me better than any stinking blood test.

On my first pregnancy, this is what I wrote, about two weeks after conception: " I have been feeling some indications that lead me to believe that I might be pregnant. I haven't been sick. I've been a little nauseated at times but always feel better when I eat something....We are worried that we won't be covered by my insurance.” I was very hungry for about 2 weeks. It would have been nice to have a little at-home test and a better date calculator. As it turned out, I was covered and little Whitney was born safe and sound the day after school got out. I was a third grade teacher.

Friday, June 5, 2009

When I was 30.....

1..... I wish I knew that my kids had Celiac Disease. I could have made them feel better sooner. I could have been fresher by getting more sleep rather than being awakened every night with sad little children with tummy aches.

2. ....I wish I knew that it was pointless to worry about things that might not happen. I needed to make the environment safe and listen to little warning promptings when they came.

3. ......I wish I knew that the time with my kids was going to go so fast.

4. .......I wish I had known that feelings of dread were often felt prior to big wonderful events that were going to be a lot of work but just had to be lived through, not eliminated. I always felt I should not go on a vacation, up until I was about to leave. If I had succumbed to the feeling of dread, I'd have never gone anywhere with the family. Once I was on the way, the feeling left. I had the same feelings right before an event I was in charge of running at church. The way I gauged whether it was just me or a heavenly prompting to cancel, was this: I proceeded to do the event or vacation. If the feeling didn't leave after I began the event or left on the vacation, I pulled the plug. Every time I planned to go to the temple, I felt like I shouldn't go. Once in the car, the feeling always left.

5..... I wish I had known it was okay to say no when someone asked me to watch their children, if I was already overwhelmed. I later learned that it is best to say (to someone who was phoning, except in an emergency), "Can I call you back and let you know if I'm able to help you? I need to check my schedule. I can't check it right now, I've got my hands full." Most of the time I could help, but many times, I needed more help than the person who was calling. And many times I said yes before I realized I already had something planned that I ended up canceling.

6. ....I wish I knew that it is best not to jam too many things into small time periods. It just creates a lot of frustration when it makes you late. It's best to toss out the least important items. Leave a little earlier than you need. I'm still working on this one. I know it now....but old habits are hard to break.

7. ......I wish I knew that kids need to be working next to a parent on household chores rather than just sending the kids off to do a chore while a parent does a different chore. A parent can make work fun with a little bit of creativity. It's a great time for heart to heart talks.

8. ........I wish I knew that troubling times need a quiet room and a logical mind that is not weary or hungry or angry. After I am fed, and rested and calmed down, I feel promptings come to me that help to let me know how to decide matters quickly.

9. ......I'm glad I knew that it was more important to have children that knew I loved them than it was to keep a spotless house. I'm glad my kids felt like there was no place like home. I'd rather be cleaning up a mess than wondering what my kids were playing at someone else's house.

10. ....I'm glad I said what I meant and meant what I said. I was honest with my children and with people I knew and loved. I did go climb in the shower sometimes so my kids could tell someone at the door I was in the shower but I never let them say I wasn't at home if I was really home. I'm glad my kids understand that I did my best and that is all anyone can ask.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Last night we went to the Dodger game. Aunt Ronnie, Glenn's aunt, invited us to the dugout club. Ronnie, Glenn, Diane (Glenn's sister) and I were at a red light turning lane that was going into the stadium on Academy Drive. We had three parking passes and only one car, so as we sat there waiting for the light, I jumped out of the car and knocked on the window of the car in front of us and gave them a pass. They were overjoyed. It saved them $20.00. Then, seeing the light was still red I went to the car behind us. They had a pass already.

This is where I lost my mind. I somehow lost focus of the fact that we were at a traffic light. I guess I thought I could be like one of those guys selling roses on the side of the road. I went to the car behind them and they also had a pass. Then I looked up and Glenn was gone. (How long can a light remain red?) The black RV next to me had no one in front of him so I tried opening their back door hoping to hitch a ride but it was locked. Yes, I know, these were strangers. But, remember I had lost my mind.

The funny thing is, I knocked on the door begging them to please let me in. The wife said, unlock the door. THEY DID. I thought their back seat was empty but to my surprise, There were people in there strapped into their seats. So I just pretended to be skinny and poured myself into the car taking two tries to shut the door behind me. I was sitting on the lap of someone. I think it was a female. But, it is such a blurr of apologies I can't exactly remember except that there was a very nice man who had watched where Glenn had motored off. I think he was so stunned by what he was watching that he didn't remember that he too was at a red light that had just turned green. He was two car lengths back from the light and NO ONE was in front of him as he rescued me.

These very nice TOTAL STRANGERS took off around the same corner Glenn had turned on and pulled in front of Glenn who had stopped over to the side hoping I would get over to him somehow. (Sure, like I was going to cross over 4 lanes of Dodger traffic to get to him.) But, Glenn didn't see me get in the guys car. I just disappeared into thin air, to him. As the guy pulled in front of Glenn to drop me off I uttered a million thank yous and saw that Glenn and Ronnie and Diane were craning their necks backward looking at the fateful intersection for me. They were stunned to see me standing next to our car knocking on the window. They were so shocked to see me that their eyes nearly popped out of their heads. They were more surprised to think I had crawled into a car full of strangers. But, hey, here I was, no worse for the wear.

And thus I was saved from being mowed down like a rag doll, while standing between the turning lane and the lane going straight through the intersection on Dodger game Friday in the month of May.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Swine Flu vs. Crew Spew Flu

Three years ago we took a houseboat trip to Lake Powell with some of our favorite people, the Archibalds. If we had not enjoyed the company so much it would have been a disaster.

First of all, before we went, Brett got a boil on his back that was so large he named it Bob. He had Bob lanced before we left home and Bob had to have his dressing changed daily with gloved hands and no swimming for Brett and Bob.
Next, Whitney and David went to see grandparents in Utah and Idaho before coming on the trip. While there, they contracted an intestinal virus that was extremely contagious. They were over it at least a day before they boarded the boat but they evidently remained contagious OR we were exposed by other people simultaneously the day before we boarded the boat. The very first morning, I was the first to fall ill.

It dropped everyone one by one and two by two and then mass exposures. Only 3 people escaped without becoming ill. Hayley was so ill we were seriously worried about whether she'd make it til morning without dehydrating. Fun was had by those who didn't get sick for a few days. Jonas was the only one enjoying his eating. Strained carrots, mmmmm.

Then Brad fell down into a hole where Roger was working on the motor or something and he scraped up his leg and nearly killed himself. He came walking in from the front of the boat sipping a soda with his head tilted up and suddenly he disappeared from view. He had a lump on his leg for months. Weird things just kept happening.

While we were floating about Lake Powell with the Queasies, I kept thinking, I wonder if everyone on the whole lake is sick. I know I get delusional when I'm sick. Nope, it was just us. And maybe that's how this swine flu is going to end. Everyone thinking everyone has it when it's just a few and then it's gone.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tea Parties on the Ceiling?

In 1986, I had four little children between 14 months and six years old. Whitney was six and Cassie was five. They were both in school. Cassie was having a major problem with sleep walking. She walked out the front door one night in January. Thank heavens I heard the door open and thank heavens we live in California or she could have been in a snow bank. I wasn't getting much sleep because I had a teething baby and with Cassie wandering around it was like a three ring circus at night. Luckily, Whitney was turning into a very big help around the house. Brad and Brett played very well together and we had all the kids on strict diets to help their tummy aches. Life was not a bowl of cherries.

Brad was intrigued by death and asked me how you get to heaven after you die. I told him our spirits know the way home because they lived with God before they came here. Brad was also very scared of the dark and he prayed that he would not be afraid and was finally able to sleep without the hall light on. It was a very difficult time in many ways but some very funny things happened in a one month period.

Brett smeared shortening over his whole body. That was a fun clean up. He did the same thing to a jar of peanut butter and was sitting in the middle of the kitchen table covered from top to bottom with it. One of the kids had made themselves a sandwich and hadn't put up the peanut butter. Brett was a climber and he was fast. He could get in a mess in the time it took me to help one of the kids in the bathroom. He needed a leg chain and handcuffs.

Then, in the same week, Brett was tired and needed a nap by 9:00. I had just got Whitney and Cassie off to school. I was exhausted from almost no sleep the night before and Brad was watching cartoons, so I lay down with Brett to see if I could get him to fall asleep. I fell asleep. Horrors of horrors. I woke up not too many minutes later to find the front door ajar and Brad was gone. I searched everywhere inside and outside the house. He was nowhere to be found. I called the neighbors a few doors down. Most of the homes either didn't have kids or moms were at work and kids at the sitter. I walked down the block and thought I heard Brad crying but it was a child at the school. It wasn't him. Quickly my prayer was answered, I remembered the little girl that lived on the corner. They had recently moved in. There he was, sitting up to their counter eating a bowl of oatmeal. He told me that he sneaked out so I wouldn't say "no". He was so right. I would have said "no". Imagine a three year old wandering off to a friends alone. I felt like I needed to strike some fear into him. So, we had a long talk but the boy who was afraid of the dark was not afraid enough of other things that WERE dangerous. Our neighbor must have thought I was a piece of work.

Then, the funniest thing that happened next was 2 weeks later. Glenn woke up at his usual EARLY hour when it is still dark, to go to work. He dressed in the dark like he did every day. But this day was his birthday.
Our new dog we got from the pound had just had puppies, ELEVEN OF THEM, five days before. (Aren't we the luckiest people alive.) We chose a dog that was already pregnant when we got her. Anyway, Glenn had noticed that Cindy (our new cockapoo) had climbed over the gate (we had fixed it so that she and the puppies weren't wandering through the house in the night). They were shut in a linoleum floored room. Glenn put her back in and then went to the closet to slip into his shoes. The first shoe was on and now the second one was giving him some difficulty. There was a little surprise in the shoe. Cindy had messed in his shoe!!! Right in his shoe!! The sound that came out of Glenn when he realized what had just happened is impossible to imitate. I start laughing every time I think of it. He nearly woke up the whole neighborhood. The birthday boy invented a new dance, "The Poopy Shoestep."

I'm sure someone was enjoying the laughter so much in heaven that it wasn't more than a month later before baby Hayley decided to hop on board to join in the fun. And now you see why I have no brain cells left if I ever had any.

Water Brothers

Life in Bishop California was a Mayberry experience. As we walked along the path to Intake 2, west of Bishop, we could almost hear Andy Griffith's whistling theme as we walked with our fishing poles over our shoulders to the fishing hole. Life was fun amidst the streams, lakes and rivers of the Eastern Sierra. Brett and Brad shared many adventures that bring us to laughter every time we look back on their childhood. With three ponds on our property, many times they were covered with "pond stink" as they chased water snakes and had king of the hill competition on the blow-up rafts. They tubed down the canal and rivers, becoming mosquito food. It shouldn't surprise us that these two have pursued water related professions.

A funny story I found in my journal happened in 1987. Brad took a huge glass of water into the living room where the kids were watching cartoons. Brett was lying on the floor with his head propped on a pillow just below the chair where Brad was sitting. The glass was so large it held almost a quart of water. Brad dropped something to his side and as he leaned forward, the whole glass of water tipped forward and emptied the water on Brett's face and chest. Brett felt like he had just been drowned and was coughing and sputtering and half crying as he wondered what hit him. Whitney was luckily a witness to attest that it was an accident. But, she was turning inside out trying so hard not to laugh. Finally, Brett realized he could breath again and to Brad's great relief, he started to laugh with the rest of us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Kindly Barber

Jack Kuhni was a man who was very disabled. He was hard to understand when he talked. He walked with difficulty. We learned not to rush him in what he was trying to say. He was intelligent. He just had a hard time getting the words out. He went to school with my dad and mom, though he was a couple of years older than them. When he was an adult, his family dropped him off in town and he wandered around visiting with the town folks. It gave him something to do. My dad's barbershop was one of his favorite stopping spots. Dad opened at 4:00 in the afternoon and Jack stopped in shortly after that. Sometimes he was waiting at the door for dad to open. Dad suspected that some people who were uncomfortable with Jack's disability, did not come to get their hair cut from dad. But, dad didn't need customers like that.

Dad said Jack got worse as time went on. We just know that he was pretty bad by the time we were able to know him. But, we always stopped and talked to him. He enjoyed seeing us grow up. I remember sitting in the barbershop watching dad cut hair while Jack laughed at stuff we'd say to dad. Dad's bowling and softball trophies lined the shelves in the shop and his antique cash register was a treasure. Dad had a bottle of stuff he put on the men's hair that made them smell good. He said it was Pigeon Milk. Jack asked Dad questions about his Wednesday night bowling league and Dad's fifth graders. Dad could tell a lot of stories and they weren't wasted on Jack. He loved laughing at Dad's jokes.

When dad retired, Jack was probably pretty sad. But, by then Jack was no longer able to get around anymore and dad went to his house and cut his hair. He cut his hair every month or so until he died at age 68. Jack wrote a symphony, note by note, which must have been very painstakingly done. He had very poor motor control in his twisted hands. I think I heard that the Midway Swiss Chorus performed some of his musical arrangements. I salute my dad for the kindness and care he gave to Jack Kuhni. Dad was a good friend.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Help an old woman across the street?

My brother David decided to dress up as an old woman and meet mom and dad at the grocery store. I accompanied him on my bike as he walked two blocks up to main street. Mom and Dad were at the grocery store and he came walking in dressed in a frumpy dress, clompy women's shoes and a head scarf and sunglasses. I located mom and dad so I could see their faces as he appeared. He walked bent over and found us in the produce section. Mom and Dad were shocked and then burst out laughing.

He walked out of the store as we followed him. He hopped on the bike as people stood looking shocked to see a 70 year old bent over woman hop on a bike and speed off.
He later told us he went down to the local Snow King (drive in hamburger joint) and pretended to tip the bike over while customers ran to his aid. He knew several people that were in line and they wanted to beat him when he took off the scarf to expose who he was.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sick of church? It could be worse

One day I was sitting in church with my friend Melodee. She was sitting on the aisle. To the right of her was a family with a sleeping child. During the closing prayer, the child sat bolt upright and threw up all over my friend and the guy in front of her. It shot clear across the aisle. Melodee and I didn't even wait for the amen to run to the restroom, of course. The mother of the child, with him in tow, beat us there. The mom was apologizing over and over. I went back in to ask my friends if someone had told the old guy in front of my friend that he had puke all over his shoulder and they said he just got up and went out the front door before anyone could say anything. My friends said he didn't act like he knew anything had hit him. He must have had a rude discovery upon taking his suit jacket off at home.

Another day when my kids were teens I was leading the music in church and a young man in the congregation threw up into the sacrament tray. His first reaction was to hand the tray to a lady in the back and run out the door. She and her daughter almost lost their cookies while trying to find a place to put the tray. I had the craziest vantage point of seeing the looks on every one's faces. I could hardly keep it together.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Understanding Death

My little playmate died when I was about 4 years old. He lived across the street diagonally to us. Brent Giles went to bed one night and died before morning of croup. I didn't realize how life-changing that was for me until I was recalling some of my childhood memories. I remember how my parents told me; where I was; what thoughts went through my head after they told me; and how it made me feel. I'm sure my parents didn't know that I was listening to their talk about the death because I distinctly remember them speaking in hushed tones so I wouldn't hear. But, I'm glad I did hear some of it. My snoopiness saved me.

It wasn't as if I needed a grief counselor at age 4. But, I wanted to talk about it to make sure I wasn't going to go to sleep one night and disappear. I asked questions and my mom answered them the best she could. But, I can't say it didn't affect my life. Even at that young age, I understood that people don't live forever and illness can be serious. But, I think the thing that helped me most was that my mom told me Brent was in Heaven and we'd see him again. I believed her and I still do.

In second grade, my friend around the corner, Dwight Seiter, got hit by a car while on his bike and was in a coma for a long time. He laid in a room in their house after he left the hospital while his mother cared for him and hoped he would fully recover. We visited him and prayed for him and took him Tickle Bee game. I think the fact that he got well did a lot for me. I had forgotten about the loss of Brent by the time Dwight was hit. But the memory flooded back temporarily until Dwight recovered miraculously.

When Helen Call, the mother of a large family that lived next to Dwight was killed in a head-on accident coming home from a BYU basketball game in a snowstorm, it shattered our neighborhood again. Her daughter, Carolyn, my babysitter was in the car too, and had so much plastic surgery we didn't recognize her afterwards. When I got old enough to babysit I never fell asleep. I waited while sitting on the counter looking out the window for the safe return of my parents.

My little sisters were very young when my neighbor across the street, Jeff Horrocks, died in a motor cycle crash four blocks from home when I was in High School and I'm not sure they understood what happened. But, in a small town where everyone knows everyone, there is a lot of support when neighbors suffer loss. More than that, though, we were a community of shared faith where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints answered our questions and gave us hope even at a young age.

A lot of people think that little children can't understand death. But, when my Grandma Dayton died when I was in 2nd grade, I was so glad I was able to see her body lying there in her coffin. She had been in the hospital in Salt Lake and I needed to be able to say goodbye. I don't think I was able to see Brent after he died. I think it would have been better if I could have. It would have made me see that his spirit just left his body. I'm so grateful that I believe that little children will resurrected as Christ was resurrected, with the promise of being raised to adulthood by their own righteous parents in the first resurrection.

Friday, March 27, 2009


My mom was a dental assistant before I was born. She worked throughout her pregnancy with me. As soon as I was born, she stayed home with me. I love her for that. She was there for my first smile, my first words, my first step (that was a long wait because I didn't walk til I was 16 months old or older). My foot had to be put in a cast shortly after I was born because it was bent back so my toes touched my shin. I could talk a streak but couldn't walk for a long time.

All my friends, but two, had moms that stayed home. The kids who had moms who worked were still great kids. But, I remember being so glad to have my mom home when I was little. My brothers and sisters and I always yelled, "MOM" when we walked through the door. She got quite a kick out of that and often wondered what we would think if she wasn't there when we called. She tried an experiment and hid in the basement with the tape recorder running upstairs when she saw my brother Phil coming home. He walked in, called for her, called again and then said, "Hell! Damn!". We had many a laugh over that tape. He loved having a greeting from his mom just like we all did.

Funny how I still love to go home and the first thing I yell is "MOM?" Dad hates that, so sometimes I mix it up and call for him first. But, there is nothing quite so nice as having a mom answer you back. I gave my kids a gift they really appreciated and still do. I stayed home. It wasn't easy. Sometimes I had to shut myself in my room for some needed privacy. Sometimes I took long walks or drives when daddy got home. I was lucky there were no extenuating circumstances that caused me to have to work outside the home. Early on, we had some very lean years with one car and a big mortgage. But, life has been good.

My built in sun visor from overhead sun

As I was talking to my sister, Linda, about some of the things we remember playing as children, she reminded me of a game that led to the emergency room. We had a staircase that was walled on both sides. We got into and on cardboard boxes and rode them down the stairs. Do not try this at home. Linda wears a scar on the underside of her chin where the cement floor at the bottom hit her going at a high rate of speed. We were some crazy kids, I think.

I had lots of trips to the emergency room or rather, Dr.'s office to get stitched up. But, NO broken bones. That is amazing to me when I think that all of my kids except Cassie have had broken bones in their childhoods. When I was a child, my forehead had a built-in visor from swelling caused by bumps. It's as if I didn't get the memo that you can put your hands out in front of you to catch yourself. I just fell right onto my head. I know what you are thinking....it's not nice of you to think I have brain damage.

I fell on my head while roller skating from grandma's house and got a bad bump. My friend Jeff pushed me off the porch and I hit my head. When in 6th grade, I was sliding on an ice runway we made for sliding on our shoes and I lost my balance and smacked my head so hard I was knocked out. That one blacked my eye for 2 months. I went from black, to blue, to green and then yellow. That one was the one that caused brain damage, smarty pants. I'm pretty sure that was a slight concussion.

I was watching a Shetland pony eat some grass and I was standing in front of his head looking down at him. He raised up to take a break and hit me in the chin. My bottom tooth went clear through my bottom lip and I bled like crazy. Speaking of Shetland ponies, I entered a little buckaroo rodeo when I was in grade school and was bucked off a pony going pretty fast and bucking hard. But, that time the ground was nice and soft.
And it should be noted that I stayed on til after the bell had sounded.

One time I was walking on top of a fence that was very narrow on top and I slipped and fell. I hung by my shoulder blade to the board at the top of the fence, knocking the wind out of me. As I gasped for breath, I maneuvered myself off the fence and dropped to the ground. I stepped on nails and got tetanus shots regularly. I got beaned by a softball that smacked me, where? Yup, in the forehead. I was pitching to one of the Bates boys in the vacant lot next door. He hit it and smacked my so hard I dropped straight bodied, right to the ground. I really do think I saw little birdies flying above me that day. For years after I stopped bumping my head, I still had people ask me what happened to make the bumps on my forehead.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Washers, Ringers, and little Tom Tinker

An angel food cake pan was a pretty good substitute for a real washing machine for my little brother, Phil. He LOVED washing machines. When he was three and I was five, Mom had to be really careful that he didn't climb right in the washer. He loved watching it agitate. We got a child's size washer for Christmas one year. I think it was mine but Phil thought it was his. We could put water in it, wash some doll clothes and watch the water drain into the sink out of a tiny hose.

I remember when we got a ringer washing machine to rinse piddly diapers. Mom used it to soak diapers and then ring them out and dry them on the line before she got a full load to wash in the automatic washer. We loved using the ringer aparatus. You had to be quick so it didn't pull your hand into the roller. Aunt Hazel got her whole arm pulled into one and was injured pretty badly once.

We didn't have a dryer. We hung the clothes on the outside line in the summer and we had a clothesline in the basement for the winter. My grandma Dayton had a dryer long before we got one. When the clothes were dry, it played chimes to the tune "How dry I am." My cousin Jane and I sang along..."How dry I am. How wet I'll be...if I don't find the bathroom key."

When David and Linda came along, our sleeping arrangements were pretty crowded. We were all sleeping in the north bedroom of our house. We had a set of bunk beds and a double bed in our room. I remember it being very fun having that many kids in one room. It was pretty hard to get us to go to sleep, though. Ask any of our babysitters. They could make us go to bed but they couldn't stop us from giggling.

Later, Linda and I moved downstairs to sleep and dad cut a door between the north bedroom and the hall by the kitchen. For many years before that we had an unfinished basement. Dad let us make chalk hopscothes on the concrete downstairs. We roller skated there on the concrete after we moved the pool table out. Later we laid tile down and dad painted a shuffleboard court onto the tile. Dad painted a hopscotch on the driveway for us in bright yellow paint like the ones at school.

I still remember how scary it was to be downstairs alone. We had a coal chute where they dropped coal to fuel our furnace. Looking into the furnace was really exciting. I remember dad putting coal into the furnace from the coal room and then he took out clinkers (burned up coal) with claw like tongs when the coal had burned. Dad made chrystal gardens from the clinkers for his students by putting ammonia, bluing, and salt on the klinker and then letting it grow.

We all knew the song sung in a round: Little Tom Tinker got burned by a clinker and he began to cry, "Ma, Ma" Poor little innocent boy.

Even in the moonlight she looked lopsided

I got glasses when I was a Junior in high school. The Dr. and my parents told me it would take a little while to get used to them. I wore them mostly on the top of my head because I felt like I was going to throw up when I was playing sports with them on. I felt like the room was tilted to the left. I told everyone that would listen to me. But, they all said, "You'll get used to them." So I tried to never take them off.

It wasn't til I nearly killed myself walking on the icy sidewalk from the high school to the seminary building that my parents believed me. Someone said why are you walking so weird. I felt like I was walking in the fun house at Lagoon where the mirrors were all goofy. The sidewalk looked like it banked downward on the left.
I had tried to get used to them for 3 months. We finally went back to Provo to the optician that made them. He had ground them totally wrong. He had one lens the reverse of what it should have been. I'll bet you can guess what he said to me. "Why did you wait so long to have them checked?" Here's an idea: Parents should listen carefully to their kids. They might have something important to say.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Forsey's, Phones and Fire

My dad and mom had a common cousin, Ray Moulton. My mom's maiden name was Moulton and Ray's mother was a Giles (my dad's mom's maiden name was Giles). He was married to a very interesting woman. She spoke with a Midwestern accent of some sort. I would guess it was close to a Minnesota accent. She dressed very different than Heber people. She wore dark baggy skirts and a jacket and sometimes a hat She had a twinkle in her eye like she knew something that no one else knew. She looked kind of like a bag lady with money. Ray and Sunny never had any children.

One time when came into town, she took my cousin Jane and I to Forsey's (five and dime) store to buy us something fun. I remember walking around and around the store trying to decide what we would like. We were about 8 years old. I remember that while we were with her, no store clerks followed us around to make sure we didn't steal anything. She never rushed us; just patiently let us look at every plastic figure and every jacks set and jump rope. We loved her. She was very funny. Her name was Sunny. I didn't know what her real name was until last year. It was Hazel.

Sunny walked us to the store which was only a couple of blocks away. We passed by Safeway, my dad's barbershop (a different one than the one I described in a previous post), Christensens clothing store, Heber Drug store and the bank building. When we turned the corner we passed the telephone company, J. Harold Call's law office and then the Wave office. That's where the local newspaper was printed. I liked to look into the telephone company office. They had windows top to bottom and we could watch the operators sitting side by side in front of a huge switchboard like Lily Tomlin had saying "Number please." They moved their hands up and down at an amazing rate of speed connecting and disconnecting callers by plugging in keys in the right spot to complete the call.

My phone number back then was 339. That was all. We would pick up our phone that had no dial on it. The operator would ask ask for the number and then say "Just a moment please". We'd then be connected to our party. To disconnect, all we'd have to do is hang up. My aunt Helen worked for the phone company when she was young. They had a policy that you could not be married and work there. She got married and hid the fact from her family and the public for months because she needed the work. Finally the story got out and she had to quit.

One night before I was born,(when my Aunt Helen was still employed there) there was a fire on the block I just described. The phone company stayed open all night to take emergency calls even though the water being sprayed on the fire was running down the phone company's walls. They needed to keep the power on to that building and keep the phones running so the emergency personnel could be contacted throughout the fire. My Aunt Helen got a commendation for her dedication.

Years later when I was in the 9th grade that building burned again. My dad was called to let him know his barbershop was in danger. We headed up to see if they would let us retrieve anything. It was too late. But we ended up watching it burn. We watched dad's shop go from looking like it might be spared to lighting up brilliant white as the floor dropped out of it before being engulfed in flames. All those stores had a common attic and floor. The fire burned to the bank building that had a wall of sandstone between it and the burning buildings. It was like fireworks on the fourth of July.

Unfortunately, I didn't handle the smoke so well. And when I think of the toxic chemicals that were released into the air from the aerosol cans of pesticides to the plastics and refrigerants, I am not surprised at my reaction. The next morning I woke up with giant hives that made my face swell beyond recognition. The bottoms of my feet were no longer flat, but convex so that my toes didn't touch the ground when I tried to walk. They looked like tiny sausages. I kept feeling like I was going to pass out. They hauled me in to Dr. Green's office and he gave me a cortisone shot and benadryl. I was swollen for about a week and couldn't go to school.

When I finally went back to school, I remember sitting in Health class scratching my arms and then my back and my legs. Pretty soon everyone around me was scratching their arms and their heads and the itching was moving from me throughout the class. They were having sympathy itching. It was an interesting lesson that day in Mr. Tolley's class learning about the power of a yawn or an itch. For years I was highly reactive to pesticides and would swell up when I was exposed to them. But, after about 10 years, I went back to my odd little self.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Stroll down Main Street

My dad was a teacher at my school. He had to stay a half-hour after school let out and then he went straight to his barber shop on main street. The pool hall or tavern was on one side of his shop. My dad used to take the used beer bottles home and sterilize them so we could bottle root beer on the 4th of July. He thought it was great fun to serve people home made root beer from beer bottles. On the other side of the shop was a deaf shoemaker who repaired shoes. Next to that was the Crown Cafe.

The best penny candy in town was at the Crown Cafe. It was in a glass case that had to be reached from the inside by the workers and put in little brown bags. They hated waiting on little kids that sat and stared at the candy while trying to decide what to buy. They had a huge assortment of nickel candy bars and nickel ice cream bars called milk nickels, creamcicles and fudgecicles. My favorite candy bars were Idaho Spuds, Cherry-a-let and Heath Bars. Some of the penny candy were really a bargain. They were two for a penny. I loved getting the wide taffy, six-lets, and cinnamon bears.

The Crown had an ice cream fountain with soft drinks and sodas but we never stayed there long. The best treat there was their homemade ice cream. I loved the lemon custard. But, when we wanted a soft drink, we went to the drug store. It was more friendly. Back then, drug stores had soda fountains like they had in "It's a Wonderful Life."

There were two drug stores in town. They didn't mind when we asked them to make us crazy drinks. There was the "crab-apple". That was cherry flavoring with soda water and a twist of fresh lime. A chocolate coke or chocolate root beer was fun. An Iron port was root beer with a little vanilla flavoring in it, I think. We also liked a fresh lime which was simple syrup, soda water and a twist of lime. Every soda was better with a package of peanuts or cashews to go with it.

We had a couple of public drinking fountains outside each drug store. I was getting a drink from one of them one day and a guy said to me, "Your going to get what I got if you drink from that fountain." I looked nervous as if I was going to get a dread disease. I said "What did you get?" He said, "Water."

We had two theaters in town. The Ideal theater was next to the Crown Cafe. The Avon was two blocks down. I remember going to a movie that I didn't know was a little bit too adult for me. The owner let me go in and sit down with my friends. Then she called my mom and told her I shouldn't be seeing that movie. So, she kept mom on the phone and then came and got me to tell me my mom wanted me on the phone. Mom told me to come home. I lived three blocks from the theater. My friends left with me but they were pretty annoyed. I still remember the name of the movie: "The Family Way." I was 10 years old.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flooded with Fun

Irrigation day was as important as any holiday to us. When we were older, we helped the neighbors put the metal plates into the ditch that rerouted the flow into their yards and gardens. Horrocks had raspberry plants they watered; Giles had grass to water; Grandma Moulton flooded her yard. We loved romping through water in our swimming suits or shorts. Never mind that the water was cold enough to turn your lips blue in early summer. It was a time for moms to bring their kids together for fun for free. Mud and water were more entertaining than any expensive toy.

Later on in the day, neighborhood kids planned little parades where we'd ride bikes, pull wagons, twirl batons, and dress up in funny garb to walk down the street in parade regailia. We did circuses in our back yards. The only circus we had ever seen was on TV. We had seen lots and lots of horse parades. We also had two great parades every summer during fair days. Our town was the only town I know of that had the parade go down one side of main street and then when they reached the other end, they turned around and came back on the other side of the island; we got to see the other side of the floats and bands as they marched back from whence they came. We saw the exact same parade the next night but we were always there for both parades.

There was a little parade in Charleston on the 24th of July, Pioneer day celebration. Then everyone congregated at the Charleston park for a day of fun topped off by a fabulous fireworks show at the end of the day. They had a talent show where local talent was showcased most of the day. I remember doing a song and dance number to "By the Sea" on the flatbed truck they had fashioned into a stage.

Back to some of our summer pastimes, We made tents out of quilts hung over our clotheslines. Large rocks would hold the corners of the quilt out so we could get into our makeshift tent. We took old catalogs and cut out paper dolls. We cut out a mom and a dad and the children. They had lots of different clothes (We just cut out the same model in a different outfit) We spent hours cutting and laughing and pretending they had exciting adventures. We had shoeboxes of paperdolls by the end of the summer. We also played house where we were the characters with dramatic lives.

We had jack tournaments on smooth concrete porches. We played chinese jump rope and regular jump rope. We ran through sprinklers and went swimming at the Wasatch Motel swimming pool. Sometimes we'd go to the hotpots (Midway had two swimming pools, the Homestead and the Mountain Spa, that were warmed by geothermal hot springs) and swim.
We took swimming lessons every year at the Mountain Spa.

Every yard had a sandbox but Seiters was the biggest and most fun. More people could fit in it and they also had a huge swing set. We'd loosen our shoes and have a shoe kicking contest. Just as we reached the furthest point forward on our swing, we'd kick off a shoe as far as we could send it flying. Then someone else would take a turn. At the end, the person whose shoe was the farthest from the swing was the winner. We also jumped out of the swing to see who could land the furthest without breaking a leg. We had to time our launch at the most forward low point.

When it got later in the day we'd play "Anti-I-Over" at Seiters. They had a freestanding garage that we'd throw a tennis ball over. The kids on the other side would try to catch it. If they dropped it, they threw it back saying Anti-I-Over. If they caught it, they'd run around the other side of the garage and try to hit someone on the other side with the ball. Then they had to stay on the other team. The goal was to get the most people on your side.

Our parents knew we loved those games and we had to get our work done before we could go play. It was great incentive to work quickly. Softball games in vacant lots were an every-day occurance. We played Butts up, Flies out, and kickball, too. Night games started as soon as it was dark. We played dozens of hide and seek variations like No Bears are Out Tonight, Eggs and Bacon, Sardines,and Kick the Can. Summer was a time to celebrate.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I was FAST in kindergarten. I outran every boy. I had to. They'd kiss me if I didn't. Those were the days when kids could be kids.

I remember Mrs. Giles first grade class doing a Columbus Day program. I sang a duet with Bonnie Bingley. "Columbus sailed the ocean blue, in fourteen hundred ninety two."

Bonnie was shorter than me for a little while. So was Vanette Ryan. Then Bonnie grew. I was second shortest kid clear through high school. So, I got to play Michael in the play, Peter Pan when I was a Sophomore. I wore a wig because I had long hair. I looked pretty cute carrying a teddy bear and wearing footed pajamas.
On our performance for the elementary students, I flew off the bed toward the audience and my cable got caught on Wendy's cable. I began spinning around and around about eight feet off the ground while Wendy hung limply below me. Tiger Lily broke her ankle that day too when she fell off the stage.

I did a humorous reading " Eloise" at state drama meet and other meets around the state. I was a city child and I lived at the Plaza. I had a turtle named Skipperdee and he wore sneakers and ate raisens. I liked to scratch his back with a wire hanger...."

I was also a Cinderella type character named April in a skit for our Junior Prom assembly. I had a fairy Godfather that carried a violin case. I had two dimwitted step brothers and my fairy Godfather was so inept that he blew me up at the end and there was nothing left but "Pieces of April". That was our Jr. Prom themesong.

I was in drill team. We were the Waspettes. Vanette and I had to be at the front of two lines marching on and off the field. We tried having the tall girls lead. Vanette and I looked like two little kids chasing after the big kids saying "Wait for me." We were lovely. We wore go-go type black knee high boots and our hair had to be up in a bun. 70's all the way.

Our colors were Black and gold. Wasatch Wasps. Say that one a few times really fast. Our football stadium and track was out behind Cyril Hicken's barn. Air quality was tolerable unless the wind blew west. Fresh manure smell wafting through the air..... the smell of football and track meets.

I was in a barbershop quartet that was pretty good.We sang at the talent competition at the Utah State Fair after we won at the county level. We even sang on TV a couple of times on the Salt Lake KSL TV station; once for a March of Dimes Telathon and once on the Eugene Jelesnik, amature hour. We started singing when we were in the 5th grade. We had some pretty tight harmonies. We were 13 years old when we got on TV. Melodee Clark sang tenor. I sang lead. Jane Rasband sang baritone. Carolee Bethers sang bass. Merle Rasband, my aunt was our teacher and trainer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


My first job that had a real employer and a twice a month paycheck was at the Hub Cafe. I was a bus girl. I was so nervous on my first day that I had to call in sick because I was throwing up. When I went in the next day, I learned my job and never looked back. One day, one of the customers reported that a waitress had spilled water on her. The cashier said, "Oh well, it's Sunday tomorrow, you needed a bath anyway."

My next job was a the Snow King Drive Inn. My least favorite question asked was, "What kind of shakes do you have?" I answered as fast as I could, "Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, marshmallow,cherry, black raspberry, caramel, banana, rootbeer, ...." I know my sister Linda still remembers all of the flavors. She worked there too.

One day I finished my break and took my half finished milkshake with me into the back room to get a dust pan out of the broom box. I reached down and as I tipped so did the contents of my cup. I poured the whole thing in the box. I went into a full laughing attack that kept me in the back room peeling potatoes for a half hour after I cleaned up my mess. Everytime I thought I had control, I'd re-live the moment and begin laughing again with tears running down my cheeks.

One summer, I worked at the clothing factory (that used to be the pea factory) making t-shirts, or parts of t-shirts. It was assembly line style. My first day, I was being trained and I got the go- ahead to try it on my own. Surprised by the power and speed of the machine, the material surged forward and the needle on the big industrial sized machine hit my middle fingernail right square in the middle. It's good that fingers have bones so the needle didn't go clear through. And luckily the machine stopped dead so we could ease my finger off the needle. One thing worse than a needle in your finger would have been for it go several times into your finger. So my first day at work, I got sent to get a tetanus shot and went home early. That was a long summer but I made really good money once I got started.

Before the clothing factory, I worked at the Stardust Inn Best Western. I cleaned rooms at first and then took over the main office when the managers were away as well. One day I locked up the office and went to run some cash to the bank. The managers were out of town. I put a "Back Later" sign out and off I ran to the car. I had the car key in one hand and the "house key" in the other. The house key opened every room in the motel and the main office. I jumped in the car and the house key flew off the key ring, hit the inside windshield, and slid down the defrost vent on the driver's side. I had pretty small fingers but I couldn't reach the key. I couldn't even see the key.

Being young and dumb, I thought maybe it could be reached from down below, above the gas pedal. I got my head down there and looked up. I couldn't see what I was doing so I put my head clear down near the gas pedal. I could see a space up there. I reached up but to get a better angle, I moved the seat back and squirmed in so one leg was out the door and the other was draped over the seat. I was on my back with my head fully on the gas pedal. I thought I could see better if I moved my head under the brake. It was a tight fit but I moved so my forehead was under the brake and then the gas pedal flipped back up to upright position and wedged me there.

I tried to push the gas back down but the angle I was pushing from was so awkward I didn't have the leverage. I tried every-which-way to get out of that vise-like grip the brake had on my forehead. But, finally, there on main street, I resorted to the only thing I knew to do.....I started honking the horn. I honked and honked. Finally, the laundry lady heard me from way in the back and came to see whose legs were sticking out of the open car door. She saved my bacon because she had stayed late when everyone else had gone home. She hadn't locked up the laundry room so she had a spare "house key" since mine was swallowed up forever in a hungry defrost vent.

Susan's Female Crawlers

My most successful business was a worm business. I sold "Susan's Female Night Crawlers". I had some regular customers that stopped for fishing worms on their way to Strawberry Reservoir; some famous ones like Fireman Frank (surely you 50 somethings from Utah remember morning cartoons with Fireman Frank!); and lots and lots of drop ins. Everyone wanted to know how I knew my worms were female. I told them I turned them loose down mainstreet and the ones that went in and out of the stores were female. I let the males go on out of town. The females had a cuter wiggle.

Before the worms, I mowed lawns with my brother Phil. Believe it or not, I liked the worms better. This was not just my business. My name was on it but it was a family business. We watched Perry Mason after the 10:00 news on the days our friend's sheep pastures were irrigated. After Perry Mason was over, it was late enough to know the worms were out. It was great if there was a full moon. We could see the worms glistening in the moonlight halfway out of their holes. If you weren't quick enough, they'd be gone back down the hole in a flash. We hung our flashlights by a strap on our heads and carried a number 10 can with us to put them in after we caught them. Sometimes, you could get two at once if you were quick enough. The water was about an inch deep or less on the grass that had been nibbled down by grazing sheep that kept us company as we caught the worms. Only whispering was allowed besides the occasional bleat of a sheep.

We caught hundreds of worms a night. We kept them in a worm pit at our house and kept them cool with wet burlap. It was a great money earner at 20 cents a dozen at first then prices went up every year or so. We bought a tent trailer with our profits. It wasn't a fancy one but it was great fun camping in it.

The thing was, worming was ALL profit. We had only our labor to compensate. We used old vegetable cans we collected with wet peet moss in it to deliver the worms to the customers. They were nice and lively little squirmers. Phil loved to make the little kids scream by putting them on his tongue.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark

My first pet was a gift from the Easter Bunny. I got a little chicken and my brother got one too. We chose names for the little biddies that started with the first letters of our names. Mine had to start with an "S", so I chose Snoopy. Phil's had to start with a "P", so he chose Poopy. They fit their names well. Mostly they fit Phil's chicken's name. Mom and dad explained, after not so many days had passed, that these chickens were getting very very tired of our house and wanted to be with other chickens. They disappeared one day and were taken to a chicken coop about 4 blocks away where we never saw them again. It's funny because we probably didn't miss them much. Chickens are not the most cuddly pets after they loose the downy feathers.

We got a bunny that was black and we called him Whiskers. He was a cute little bunny. Dad built him a pen that was elevated off the ground and had a little feeder for fresh produce and a little bowl for rabbit food. Sadly, he got stuck under his feeder in the winter and froze to death. Just the beginning of the many pet tragedies we encountered.

When Phil and I were little, our neighbors had a pig pen in the field next to us. There is nothing quite like pig smell. I'd know it anywhere. But, the oinking and rooting of those big old porkers used to fascinate us. There were horses behind Kuhnie's house. We used to give them grass through the fence. There was a barn next to the fence, by the horses. The barns were so much fun . Everything creaked in the old barns. It was like playing Russian Roulette to see which board would actually hold you as you walked along the rafters.

Our first pet that actually knew how to interact with us was a dog named Sport. I think he was part Collie but mostly just a mutt. My dad was sitting in the bathroom, on what he called "the throne", if you'll pardon my details. It is only important to tell you what he was doing because I thought he was very negligent as a Father that day because he didn't come to my aid immediately.

My dog, Sport, got away from me. I was 5 years old and I couldn't leave the yard alone and my dad couldn't understand that I needed his help right then. He was enjoying the newspaper and wasn't about to be interrupted. He said, "Susan, he'll be back. He will come home on his own." I cried and kept pleading but to no avail. I was glad that he was right. Good old Sport did come home.

My friend, Melodee, and I each got a white kitten from a neighbor lady. They were from the same litter. She called hers Puffy. I called mine Fluffy. We were into rhyming. Fluffy fell down the window well of my friend's house (probably looking for her sister Puffy). But we didn't find her for a couple of days. Lucky for us, Melodee's dad found her and returned her to us, a little dehydrated but not too much worse for the wear.

When Fluffy died shortly after giving birth to a stillborn kitty, we didn't get any more cats. We got a new puppy we named Bounce. I practiced my hair cutting skills on him when he got older. He just seemed so hot, I thought he needed a new summer hair-do.

Bounce was named after my dad's childhood dog. I learned about "the birds and the bees" by chasing after him one day when he ran off. My uncle Don went with me to find Bounce and was shocked that I couldn't figure out what was happening. He chastized my parents jokingly for not filling me in on the finer points of animal breeding patterns. He said "What's the use growing up in a farm community if you don't use it to teach your kids stuff." A little squirt of water from a neighbor's hose and Bounce was trotting off on his way home very cheerfully. It was hard to believe that Bounce had enough pride to go off looking for ladies with that haircut he was sporting.

We had a cute little black dog named Mitzi and a sweet little brown dog named Daisy. They gave me a terrible reputation. Mitzi followed the car around the corner when I was driving Linda to her friend Lynda's on my way somewhere. I didn't know Mitzi followed us and I ran over her. We were all so sad to hear that her back was broken and she had to be put to sleep. Daisy had a terrible habit of chasing cars. She left the yard and chased a car one day and I yelled for her to stop. She turned and looked at me and was partially run over. We thought she was going to make it. I stayed up with her all night holding her to make her comfortable, but she died while I was at school. I loved these little dogs and I was tortured with guilt for a long time.

You'd think mom and dad would have said no more pets until Susan is out of the house. But, the neighbor dog, Butters had puppies and we got Ebony, a little black dog. Ebony survived me being around and lived until he had lots and lots of grey hair. He and mom's little canaries Cookie and then later, Boyd, kept mom and dad and Phil company for many years. Boyd even saved Mom's life when he kept falling off his perch. We surmized that maybe there was some gas leaking in the house and he was reacting to it. Sure enough. He was the best carbon monoxide detector anybody could ever have. Mom was at home all day and all night so she was affected more than Dad and Phil. Mom started feeling less dizzy and Boyd got back on his perch.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


CHEATED. I had been cheated I didn't get a sunny summer. It rained a lot and was cloudy which wasn't typical of a Utah summer. My mom was working in the yard and I was complaining that I wanted a nice day so we could go swimming. It was only days before school would start and summer was over!

I didn't get as many days to climb our neighbor's monstrous tree where I sat in a rustic homemade tree house and read Nancy Drew and Happy Holister mysteries. The upside was that I hadn't been stuck up on a too-high limb desperately hoping someone would hear me yelling for my dad to come and help me down. Thank heavens for fathers who eventually come and rescue adventuresome daughters when they are out on a limb.

Lake Creek, the stream that ran by my house was always flowing full tilt that year, instead of being slowed to a trickle, off and on, by irrigation upstream. That made it so we couldn't be daring and wade through shallow puddles under the culverts that ran under the streets (always warning each other to listen for "big water"). Big water sounded like a trickle at first and then grew to sound like limbs and branches being banged about and rocks rolling along in front of a mini-freight train.

To tell the truth, we were rarely in the creek when the water started flowing. We were always under the assumption that we could be drowned at any minute (never mind that the creek never got deeper than 2-3 feet). In defense of all the warnings by parents, the water did flow swiftly at peak season. I used to dream that my brother, Phillip, didn't heed the warning and I had to do a swift water rescue when he jumped off a rock into Lake Creek and nearly drowned.

We often pretended that an evil troll, the bloody Red Baron, lived under culverts and hid in dark spaces where two pipes of different sizes joined together. We caught minnows, crawdads and a fish called a "Sucker" in the puddles left by receding water. We collected rusty junk and treasures galore. I pictured myself as a coon hunter that set traps for raccoons in the river bottoms in Where the Red Fern Grows. We made friends with horses that were on our route down the creek. It was so fun to meet up with kids downstream who were also making their own make-believe tales.

Old ladies hated that we were traipsing up and down the creek bottoms from main street to 400 west, under fences and through stables and yards and pastures. Even though we were (of course) harmless, sweet, and darling children, sometimes an old lady or two would think it her civic duty to tell us to get off their property or to tell us they were going to call our mothers. We knew the creek was city property and thought we were within our rights to just stay in the creek. We just got sneakier when near their property and didn't care if they called our moms. Our moms knew where we were. I vowed to never be one of those old biddies that growled at kids for sport.

When the water was slow, a frothy foam of brownish white would form and we called it "Indian soap". That was to go with the Indian Tobacco that was a dried rusty plant that grew near Lake Creek and crumbled into a palmful of stuff that looked like the insides of a cigarette. There were some wild hops that grew next to the the creek next to our dentist's office near main street. We pretended to make beer. I'm not sure they were really hops. But, they were fun to pop to make a little noise. We had to leave the ditch once or twice to follow the creek to our house because there was a grid over the culverts in some spots to keep junk from plugging the creek and flooding. So we scampered as fast as we could across the street to get back in the ditch.

It might have been that year that we had a terrible spring flood when all the streams and rivers overflowed. We were afraid our basement would flood but we were on the high side of the creek bed. Ellis Clyde, the town clown, got in a row boat and rowed down main street, bringing everyone to laughter when main street was flooded. The water was up to the tops of the car wheels. Every store on main street had flood damage that year.

There is always a bright side to everything. I developed a skill that rainy summer that made me quite a long jumper. We called it the "broad" jump back then. My friend Nancy Moulton and I jumped Lake Creek when it was at it's fullest. Back and forth we jumped, trying wider and wider spots until we could jump great distances. We did it running and we did it standing in place. We fell in the water sometimes. But, we kept drier the more we practised. We jumped into grass at the waters edge that sometimes came up to our thighs and we sunk into the muddy bank with a thud. It was a Huck Finn existence. But, the next year brought much sweet sunshine and appreciated adventures.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hymn with Him or a Whole new side

I play the organ sometimes in church meetings. I made sure I checked what the opening song was, put a marker in the book, and began playing prelude. I wasn't paying close attention when the song was announced but when the bishop sat down I opened the book and began playing.

The chorister looked over at me kind of funny but I kept playing without regard to his curious look.

The bishop announced the next hymn by saying, "The alleged hymn will be "There is a Green Hill Far Away on page.....". After the meeting was over, my husband told me that I played one hymn while half the congregation sang it and the other half sang the song on the opposing page that the chorister was singing.

In a different chapel, I climbed onto the organ bench just as the meeting was about to begin and caught the slit of my skirt on the bench. I heard a rip and reached back to find that my skirt had ripped clear up to the waistband. I had to have my daughter run home to get me a new skirt but I couldn't change until the meeting was over. Thank goodness organs are often backed up against the wall because I had to sit up to the organ for the whole meeting. If I had moved to a different location I would have revealed a whole new side of myself.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What the heck is that?

Last night we were awakened by a LOUD alarm outside our bedroom. We thought we had a fire. We took off to find the source of the alarm. We realized there was no fire, no smell of smoke, nothing. We were being bombarded with the shrill sound, nevertheless. I had been sick for a couple of days and was foggy in the brain to begin with. Glenn and I went from smoke detector to smoke detector trying to find the culprit. None seemed to be blaring. Glenn got the ladder and we looked like Laurel and Hardy running aimlessly from one to another. We finally realized the sound might be coming from downstairs and down we went.

This sound increased in intensity as we went downstairs and we were encouraged but still there were no smoke alarms near the sound. I finally looked down and saw that our carbon monoxide detector was blinking. I snatched it out of the wall. I opened the doors to air out the house and turned on fans. I opened up the window to our bedroom. Then I plugged the detector back in. Silence.

We kept the house opened up while I shut off both furnaces. We had noticed on Friday that the downstairs furnace was not working. We changed the filters, climbed up in the attic and took a look but resolved to call the repairman when it was not the weekend since the temp. here is not that cold. We made one mistake, however. We should have shut off the faulty furnace. It continued to try to start up every time it got cool enough to trigger the thermostat.

This is the third time our family has been affected by carbon monoxide. My mother's parakeet kept falling off it's perch one winter and I remembered the parakeet in the mine story and how parakeets are affected by gasses earlier than humans. They came and tested her home and found a leak.

Meg, my daughter-in-law was feeling very ill and sleeping for long periods and we found out that their apartment had a leak a few years ago. Long story short.....get a carbon monoxide detector. The life you save could be your own.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brand New Start

Don't you just love a new year. This morning I woke up at home after traveling from Utah yesterday. I say yesterday because I started the day before but didn't arrive until 1:30 in the morning (yesterday). I felt like I slept most of yesterday because I fell asleep everytime I stopped moving.

I woke up this morning and cleaned a drawer and dusted off my journal. I got excited about organizing my house. All of my children are married now and even though they've all been out of the house on their own for several years, it feels final now. So, I'm going to clean out the closets and permanently reorganize everything. It just feels like a fun thing to do.
I've been finding funny stuff in the drawers like Cassie's New Years resolutions in a notebook she had when she was in High School. Two of her top ones were: Get organized and don't criticise.
That's a pretty simple start for a new year. So, since I've already started the organization part....I'm going to make a point to not criticise. Glenn will like that.

Oh, and I hope to laugh a lot. Hope you'll laugh along with me. It'll make us all feel younger.
Here's one to start us off.

My mom gave out homemade choke cherry jelly to her friends this year for Christmas. She handed them the jars of jelly telling them it is great on pancakes. When she arrived home, she looked for a jar of pickled beets that she received from a friend the day before. They were not there. She realized that she had given out the beets instead of the jelly. The mystery of who got the beets was solved when her friend called and told her the choke cherry jam mom gave them, looked rather like pickled beets. I wonder how they tasted on pancakes.