Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Saturday was a little rocky


David and Teresa began their Saturday by helping clean the church building. Then they joined Andrew, Joseph, and I rock hunting. We went to SGL Materials and hand picked about 50 rocks to decorate and “hide” for Sacramento Rocks. We chatted a bit about rocks for my yard and I ordered some to be delivered this coming Saturday. Just for fun, I took them across the road to see the wall and paver rocks there. My interest is wall for raised garden beds.  In the bargain center we found a pallet of some free standing wall rock that we all like. (project clean up) Discussion began. John named his price and I agreed. Cash only. And they charge too much to deliver. So we went home to fetch trailer and cash. Teresa stayed at the house to fix lunch while the guys and I made 3 trips to get our stone. We didn't think our trailer could carry more weight safely. David, Andrew and Joseph were amazing stone movers! Teresa is an amazing lunch organizer!

So now I have about 90 Highland stone stacked along the driveway. We will use them to make raised garden boxes – size, shape, and exact site to be determined. They won't be enough, however. I want the walls to be 3 stone high. (sitting height) But we can start. I seem unable to draw my plan out, so I may just drag stones around and then draw what I end up with so we can move the stones back out and prepare the base.  I think I will try checking back with the stone yard for more project clean up Highland Stone.

Saturday we get 5 yards of rock dumped on the driveway (I hope we can still get in and out of the house) – cobble to outline and gravel for the base of the main walkway. We plan to make the walkway from pallet wood, gravel, and cobble. I have a source for pallet wood, unfortunately only available when I am at work. Some kinks to be worked out yet. But we can dig out the pathway, line it with landscape fabric, and lay down some gravel. Hopefully before the rains (hopefully) come. 

The yard project is less organized, a little more involved, and not as far along at the end of summer as I had hoped, but it is progressing. 

Little did David and Teresa or Joseph and Andrew suspect when they agreed to go rock hunting with me that they would spend most of the day shifting rock.  

My kids rock!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jesus, Savor, Walk With Me

As I heard the song, "Jesus, Savior, Walk with Me", I thought, "That's wrong. Jesus isn't supposed to walk with us, we are supposed to walk with Him." 

Then I realized where I was wrong. 

Jesus has already walked the path and gained eternal salvation and happiness.  We are somewhere far away struggling, perhaps heading in the wrong direction.  Wherever we are, no matter how far, if we will call, Jesus will come.  Away from His place of rest and comfort into the wilderness and storms.  When He reaches us, He will hold out His hand in invitation.  He will not grab us and pull us, He will give us His hand to take.  When we are holding His hand, He will hold on tightly enough to help us when we stumble, but gently and loosely enough that if we pull away, we are free to go. If we do take our hand from His,  He will invite.  He will look at us with love and sorrow.  He will speak, often so softly we have to really want to hear. But He will not restrain us. If we decide the path He is leading on is too hard and turn to follow another, He will not follow.  He will call.  He will wait. But He will not walk with us down the wrong path. When we realize our foolishness and yearn to be with Him again, we may try to retrace our steps but find the way too hard.  What looked like a gentle easy path becomes difficult and impassable on the way back.  If we will call Him, He will come. Again. And again.  Every time.  Somehow with Him, we can climb back up.  Slowly, painfully.  He will coach, He will guide, He will give us a boost, but He will not transport us.  We must make each step.  We must want to make it.  We must trust His love, wisdom and guidance.  And He will walk with us.  He will help carry our burden.  He will put His arms around us. He whisper words of encouragement. And with His help we will climb the highest mountains and gain the grandest views.  Jesus, Savior, Walk With Me!

I have to go to work Monday

As we were out running errands, my phone rang. Andrew took the call. A man announced he was from Publishers Clearing House and we had won a prize. There was some difficulty understanding each other, but eventually we ascertained that he wanted us to meet him at Walmart. I said , "No, thank you" He mumbled something that sounded slightly rude and the call (from Jamaica, btw) was ended. Sigh. Threw away our big chance at financial independence.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dog Years



A number of sources say that Labrador Retrievers live about 10-12 years. I adopted Anna on my birthday in 2004 when she was 8 months old. You do the math. No wonder she is starting to have trouble! If I remember right, Tuesday night our vet said 13-16 years which is a bit better. Either way, time is getting short.

Anna has been having trouble with her back legs. She is a lot slower than she used to be. Sometimes, but not often, she falls. She has had times when she could not get up for several minutes. Where she used to love riding in the car, now she just looks at it and then sadly goes back to the house because she cannot climb in. (Andrew gave her a boost Tuesday to go to the vet and back). We started her on pain pills. I deceive myself or she was moving more easily and comfortably next morning.  The old girl may have a few more good years.

As a friend said, their short lives is one of the hardest things about having pets.  Although I must say, that I think the predicament of parrots is sadder.  Parrot people tend to want to get a young one but they cannot usually afford a parrot until they themselves are middle aged or older.  Parrots live 50 years or more, some even 100.  And they bond to their people.   Then they are orphaned while they still have half their lives ahead of them and no one wants them because parrot people want young parrots.  We inherited a friend’s mother’s parrot once.  He was never happy with us. Turns out I am not a particularly good parrot parent.    He didn’t like me at all.  He liked my sons somewhat.  Because of our other pets and because he was not responsive to me, he had to stay in his cage most of the time.  A dull existence for an intelligent creature.  We were fortunate to find an educational sanctuary with large cages and other parrots with whom he made friends.  School children loved to visit him and he would regale them with imitation car alarms.  But a few years later, the facility closed for lack of funding.  I don’t know what became of him or the others.  If people truly love parrots, they would adopt these older orphans and not get young ones.  But I digress.

Most pets live much shorter lives than humans do.  Sad, but I think it serves good purpose.  We learn to love and to deal with grief.  It can help us when we have to deal with human loss.  Loss of loved ones whether human, furred, feathered, finned, or scaled can help us realize the importance of relationships.  Cherish them and treat them with love while you have them.  Don’t put off the good times too much, because the time will run out sooner than you realize.  Most of all, missing loved ones can help us think about how important it is to live so that we don’t have to miss them always but can be re-united and be with loved ones forever.  God has promised that families can be together forever (and I believe also friends of all types).  But there are conditions that must be met.  If we do not live righteously and with love, if we do not accept Christ and sacred ordinances, we have no promise.   I love my family dearly.  I want to be family forever.   The Lord has told me how I can.  Losing loved ones in this life reminds me how important it is.

In the meantime I still have my dog.  And my children and my grandchildren.  And some pretty nice friends.  I need to learn to cherish and enjoy them more.  And to live so that when I am gone, they will miss me at least a little and want to meet again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Donate a Day’s Wages to Charity Day




First, the wave of guilt.  Then the realization.  

(This is not to brag, but to remind myself and others like me that we ARE giving to charity.  We just do it so naturally and as part of our normal routine that we almost forget.  (I know, I have heard it said that if you do not feel it, increase it.  Something to think about, but not today’s topic.) We give quietly without  drives, pledges, fanfare, or in the public sector where our co-workers or others see.  (Goodness, now I do it on-line so I don’t even hand an envelope over and get a handshake.)
Sometimes we fail to give ourselves credit. 

Almost all my charitable contributions -  all my regular, routine contributions, are through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. How glad I am to have a trusted agency that will multiply my small donation, not just through the donations of others’ money, but through the donation of all the time freely give to distribute the money and to provide service.  When I receive income, I immediately pay tithing, 10% gross.  That is more like 2 days wages from my paycheck, plus any other income I might receive.  So I can rest easy about that Donate a Day’s Wages thing.  But that’s not all. Every month, I pay Fast Offering, even though I cannot fully fast for health reasons.  Gladly I contribute to feed the hungry or maybe help pay someone’s electric bill, or whatever the need.  I also make a small contribution each month to one of a few charitable causes like Perpetual Education and Humanitarian Services.  

On rare occasion, I will donate to an animal cause (I am a little sad that church contributions deal only/mainly with Heavenly Father’s children and not His creatures, but I am free to give, so why fuss) And Friends of Scouting get me every year.  And I like to carry small sack lunches in my car to give to a hungry person. 

 I am not a totally selfish person because I do not go for the Big Day of Giving or the Donate a Day’s Wages.  Those are more to help people who do not give as a regular part of daily life.  Good for them, but I don't need to join them unless I want to.

Giving blesses my life all year long.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Plumb Exciting


I have from time to time had drainage problems.  A plumber acquaintance told me that my pipes are improperly supported, bowing, and  collecting sludge which caused the  back-ups and worsened the bows.  He suggested that he fix it independently for $3000.  I thought that was high especially since those pipes were put in new only 10 years ago (just before the divorce) and supposedly had a lifetime guarantee.  Well, the guarantee is meaningless, just an unsigned, undated bit of advertising really.  I called the contractor who said they would come out for $125 and look it over.  I must say I was not delighted with their attitude, but I don't think they cared for my call, either as I was pushing the idea of a guarantee.  But they also called the guy who worked on it at the time with a company since defunct.  Dave the plumber has moved to the Bay Area and said he had no legal obligation, but felt a personal pride of work and moral obligation.  He came out yesterday.  Right off I gave him (unbidden) $50 for gas. Which he appreciated.   Anyway, he went under, took pictures, and did a little bit of banging.  He said my pipes are properly supported by straps at every floor joist. (I think it was joist).  There is slight, but normal bowing between straps.  There was one pipe from tub to the out drain (or whatever) that lacked a strap, but he strapped it (hence the banging). He said part of the problem is we have only a slight fall from kitchen to drain.  Also, we have been trying to conserve water, so we have not been flushing our pipes.  The water goes down and we are foolishly happy, but the water outruns anything it is carrying and then it builds up.  The solution?  Once a week or more, put a little cleaner - Dawn dish soap, bleach, vinegar, whatever - in the drain, fill the sink, and flush out the pipes, maybe running the water another minute or so after the sink empties.  No need to replace pipes.  It sounds right to me.  When he finished and went to leave, I paid him (again unbidden) $100.  He was very happy.  So was I.  He sounded and felt honest and he saved me potential thousands.  Yes, it cost me a little more than the other company for a look-see, but I trust him more.

I had taken the entire day off on vacation since I had no idea how long the plumbing thing would take.  I started feeling unwell Monday, which got progressively worse.  By the time I got home, I just went home and let my guys take over. (Bless them)  I was fairly ill Tuesday, but rallied for the plumbing episode.  I could not present as a responsible homeowner unwashed and in PJs.  So I dressed and did light make-up and tried to be grown up.  As soon as he left, it was PJs again. I expected to be back to normal by evening, but missed the deadline.  Today I was better enough to come to work.  I knew I would fret about some things if I didn't.  Although some systems are a little touchy, I feel better in other ways for the day of resting. I think I will change my time-sheet to sick leave rather than vacation.

And happy day - Miriam drove herself to a doctor appointment and then picked up And,rew when he missed a transit connection.  It's great that she can do some things now.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Adam and Eve


     When teacher repeats a message, that usually indicates that it is important. Take note. It may be on a test. Or perhaps even necessary to master whatever discipline you are studying. (Do we remember that we are taking the class to learn something, possibly to progress towards a goal not just to pass a test and get a grade?) 

     We are all involved in the greatest school and test. The Teacher has given has texts to help us master the information and skills we need to graduate and progress towards our goal of becoming like Him. Much of the information in the texts is in the form of stories of the experiences of those who have gone before. Not many stories are told more than once. The story of Jesus Christ, the Savior is related several times because it is the most important information in the world (and beyond). There is only one other story that I can remember that is told more than once in the scriptures. The Creation and the fall of Adam and Eve. (ok, you can count that as multiple stories, I suppose, but you get my drift)

      Today I am teaching a Sunday School class about the Fall of Adam and Eve.
Why is it important that we learn about and understand the fall of Adam and Eve? What difference does it make in our lives? Well yes, it makes all the difference because as a result of the fall we have our mortal lives at all. But what difference does it make in our living them now?  

     Whenever I hear the story of Adam and Eve, I am yelling inside my head, “Wait! Don't do it! Ask Heavenly Father first!” I wonder why they didn't. Here's what I think. Adam and Eve were like innocent, little children. They were open, honest and without guile. No street smarts. They had not experienced lies and deceit. When Satan told them his half-truths and lies, they didn't have reason to disbelieve him. They accepted what he said at face value. 

     I think that while they were in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had not yet learned about prayer. Not really. God may have talked to them about it, but that's just it. In the Garden, I am pretty sure that they walked and talked with God. He visited them and I think He taught them things they would need to know when everything changed. Because they were accustomed to one on one conversation face to face, they had not yet learned the power of prayer and that it can provide instant access to the source of all knowledge. (Who usually directs you and helps you find and recognize answers, but sometimes flat out tells you right away) 

      I think Adam and Eve just didn't think 1) that what Satan said could be false because they knew no falsehood, and 2) they didn't think to pray.

      Adam and Eve were the first. They had no parents or examples to show them how things work. They were most pioneering of all pioneers. Their knowledge and memory of life before earth was veiled and they were on their own. Which is why I think they had the Garden of Eden interlude. God probably gave them some basic instructions about living in the real world. But they had not had the opportunity to practice and learn from experience. 

      We have parents, teachers, books, the experiences of others, the internet to learn from. We have the scriptures. And we have prayer. We need to use our resources better.

      Satan deceived Eve by telling her partial truths and stuffing them with lies. He made a logical and compelling argument for what he wanted her to do. 

     We are faced constantly with persuasive arguments and information. Facts and logic are presented powerfully. We would have to be stupid not to agree. Except. Often false information is wrapped up in partial truths. Often the logic, while convictive, is faulty. It is easy to think we are making an informed decision, when we are actually making a mis-informed decision. “Wait! Don't do it! Ask Heavenly Father first!” We must learn and remember to consult the font of all wisdom first. We must learn to feel and hear the promptings of the Spirit either confirming or warning against the arguments presented. 

These are some of my thoughts on Adam and Eve. I need to get ready to go now.

Monday, November 2, 2015

detours

  I bicycle commute to work almost every day following basically the same route.  It balances safety, comfort, shade, prettiness, traffic, and distance.  It is a good route.  Every now and then, I get restless, bored, or curious and decide to vary my route. Inevitably I find that the variant is not as satisfactory as the way I usually go.

   Whether I take this street or that doesn't make much difference as long as they get me to work and home again.  Variety can be interesting.  Detours need not keep me from my goal.  But I was thinking that once we find the path to eternal life, even though it may be tedious, repetitious, and even difficult, it is vital that we stay on that path.  Detours can be dangerous and lead us off in the wrong direction. Hold to the rod.  Stay on the true path.  It is the only way to get where we want to go.

Where do I stand?



Complications  of diabetes has long while back cost my ex half a leg.  The stump continues to have sores and trouble healing, so the doctor ordered him to stay off of it.  For a time he was granted special accommodation to work from home.  Apparently, however, the time on that expired and was not renewed.  He still stayed home because he had to stay off his stump and could not use his prosthesis or drive.  (I do not know why he did not use a wheelchair and handicap transportation).  He burned through his vacation and sick leave by mid-October, so the 2nd half of the last month was unpaid leave.  It occurred to him that he might as well retire, because then he would get a pay check.  I do not know how quickly the wheels turn.  His paycheck for October will only be about half.  He will be paid retroactively if they set his retirement date back to when his leave expired.  But when will that money start to come?  I somewhat suspect that I will not get my support money this month.  At least not timely.  Also, I have not been able to learn what my share of his retirement will be, which will replace the support money he was paying.  I am a little anxious.  I have increased my responsibilities and my expenses.  I do not earn nearly enough to support my household without that support.  I can go a little bit  on my savings.  Hopefully, the new payment will kick in before things get dire.  And hopefully, it will not be less. 

In today’s world some think it is selfish of me to expect support.  We were married over 30 years with the marital agreement that he would support the family and I would be the homemaker and take care of the children.  I was not nearly as good a homemaker as I should have been, but I was as thrifty as I could be. And believe me, as a single head of house, I now better realize how valuable a homemaking partner can be!  I wish I had one!  The time, energy, and money such a partner saves the household!!  

 At the age when many people are retiring, when divorce was imminent I returned to work,  but my earning capacity is not what it might have been had I not been a full-time mother.  No regrets there.  His income really should be enough for both of us to live, modestly but not desperately.  I am sure it will all work out..  Eventually.  Pretty sure.  I hope and pray.

----------------------

2015.11.02 1530  CalPERS tells me that it may be 60 days before they figure out what his retirement will be and what my share will be.  Which sounds like it may be 2 months (or so?) before either of us gets a check.  This may be a little unpleasant for me and difficult for him.  He had said he was going to check into getting his Foresters (401K?).  It isn't much, but could help tide him over.   CalPERS said one should start the paperwork 3 months before retiring.  oh.  I guess we find out "next year."

_-------
2016.08.14
I should have updated. My savings were quite adequate to keep us going until my retirement share kicked in. My share is just a bit more than my support money was. I was able to repay my savings ( very necessary because my insurance and property taxes are not included in my mortgage. I have to save and 
pay semi-annually.) We are ok as long as I am careful. 

Theoretically I could earn more money if I took one more accounting class, passed a state test, and applied for a higher job. But I am too tired and stressed already. Plus, when I read the job descriptions for the advancement jobs, I just want to cry. I don't want the additional stress and more real accounting.. I like the job I have and I don't want those other jobs. So, here I stay. Enough to get along as long as I am careful. And, honesty, better off, much better off, than when I was married to a man with a fairly well-paying job. I don't know where the money went, but it didn't all make it to supporting the family.

I don't have retirement savings, so I am going to need to work a long time before my state retirement is nearly enough to live on ( with my retirement share from Glen).. May my health continue to be sufficient!  I have been blessed so far. 😉

Thursday, August 6, 2015

No Empty Nesting in My Slider Puzzle

My life, or at least my house, is in a bit of upheaval.

Miriam went with Ruth and family to visit Sariah for a week over the 4th of July.  She did not participate in a lot of their activities - a hike, a day a the zoo.  She took it somewhat easy.  They got back Tuesday.  Miriam had dinner at Ruth's, went home, and didn't get out of bed except to use the bathroom until she called Ruth Thursday asking for help.  Ruth called me.  Miriam and her landlady that she rents a room from she would say are friends.  But they didn’t pay any attention at all to the other's comings and goings and Miriam could expect any help from her. Like knowing if she was sick in bed, bringing ice for her swollen legs,or helping her if she could not go downstairs for food.  Ruth brought her home and  mother henned Miriam a little, for almost a month. thank goodness! 

I had suspected that this time would come, but these things almost always come sooner than expected. I told Miriam long ago that she didn't have to struggle to be on her own, that she would have a home here.  The plan pretty much would be for her to live/home base here and visit her siblings when she needs to get away.

However before Miriam could move,  I needed to do some serious de-junking and shuffling, so we would have a room for her. I had thought that after Benjamin got married and moved out, that I would start working on the house. But we began to realize an urgency.  I took a family sick day one Friday early to get started.  David and Teresa came over to help the next day.  We worked at it a bit on evenings and more on Saturdays.

The plan was to clean out the "office/craft room/stow it/cat room" and paint it.  Move Joseph and Andrew in there, me and the office/craft room into the "master" bedroom which the three guys occupied, and give Miriam the corner bedroom I was.  It's a room she shared with Sariah long ago and has a door handle easier for her to use.  I feel a little guilty taking the biggest room and not giving it to her - but I do have the office and craft stuff.  And David and Teresa are pretty sure that she would feel too much of a imposition if she had the master room.

Getting things out took much longer than I figured. I am so disorganized and have so much junk that this was a major undertaking. We had to postpone plans to paint the guys' room - which would have been so much fun!  We plan to paint it camouflage and I imaged a bit of a wild painting party.  Some sorting and dejunking happened, but in reality, I have probably months of sorting to do - if I am diligent.

Benjamin and Bethany are wed and on their honeymoon, but do not have an apartment.  It took a lot of doing, but they have completed all the paperwork for one.  Last I heard, the previous tenant who was supposed to be out weeks ago, wasn't.  Hopefully the apartment will be available when they get back.  If not, what do do?  Options are:  Stay in Bethany's old room.  Nobody seems to like the idea. and it's far from anywhere or from public transportation. 2.  stay in a hotel/motel for a few days.  Hopefully a few days.  OR 3.  stay in my family room. Not much privacy, but they are welcome.

Until they get a place, Benjamin's stuff is stacked about in the front room.

Despite my boss to  the 3rd power  decreeing that no one in Accounting may have vacation in June, July, or August, I took a week of family sick leave to dig out Miriam's room. We got the room pretty nice, but the rest of the house remains a shambles.  It will take me quite awhile to attain order.  I come home from work too tired to do much of anything so it will be slow going.

Also, Miriam needs to do the same thing with the room she has been renting.  Sort, pack, and move things from a not really big, but bigger room and garage storage area to her new room.  And we need to help her, of course. She is not feeling well and needs to stay off her feet because of sores. Naturally there is a time limit.  We don't want her to have to pay rent after this month. I think we can do it. 

You may recall that I was recently released as Primary President.  I was sad about it at the time.  Now I see that the Lord knew my plate was going to be pretty full and He gave me one less set of responsibilities to worry about.  And sent a friend to do the wedding brunch as a gift to Benjamin and I.  What a blessing!  The wedding was at the end of move-in week and I simply could not have done it as I had thought before I knew Miriam needed to come home (even with the help of darling daughters).  AND He inspired another friend to call and volunteer use of his trailer to help move Miriam's furniture later this month.  We had not thought to ask these friends.  We did not know that they could help.  But the Lord knew and they listened to His promptings.  Tender Mercies!