Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Budget and Bike - could be better, could be worse

– I think I told you relatively good news about California’s budget. The Big 5 (Governor and heads of the 2 legislative houses) agreed on a budget. Parks was not taking as big a hit as we feared and would probably only close about 20% of the Parks instead of 80%. (!) Parks would probably be able to avoid layoffs because of vacancies. Did I tell you all that? Never mind, that rosy picture didn't last long.

After the Big 5 did their thing, it went to the legislature, got changed a bit, then went to the Governor. He did some major slashing. The final signed budget cuts Parks about 21%. (Of course other important programs are slashed, too. There is plenty of pain to go around.)

It is now estimated that 100 parks will be closed and an undetermined number of jobs cut in the field and in headquarters. Back to worrying about losing my job. Sigh. Hopefully, not. They say we have quite a few vacancies which they hope will absorb the cuts. We are going to have a big Director’s meeting Friday. MAYBE we will find out more then.

A mile or so into my bicycle commute this morning, nearly to Tahoe Park, I must have done another bad shift because my chain popped off and got stuck good. While I was working on it, a couple of walking ladies stopped to make sure I was ok and not hurt. Another gal, about to drive off to meet her friend for breakfast, stopped and kept going back to her house for tools. Finally, wedging a screwdriver against the stuck chain part and whacking it with a hammer a good few times, we got the chain unstuck, I put it right and we each continued on our way. She also offered to call someone if I needed it. I thought it sweet that women look out for each other like that. I don’t know if any men passed by during my trouble, I was focused on my problem. I called in to work to say I was late, but actually I was in my office just on time, instead of a few minutes early for my personal computer time as usual.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What I learned today in church

Brother and Sister Bob and Beverly McAdams spoke today. He is in his late 70’s. Looking at him, I didn’t like the idea of having to work to support myself when I get that old, but, alas, such is the plan - unless Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes comes through.

They were very cool though. Bishop Young helped them with their mission papers, then we had the ward scramble and they went out from Brighton Ward, but he still claims them. Bro. McAdams rather feels betwixt and between - not really feeling totally at home in either Brighton or our ward. That will pass. They have served missions all over the world as a couple. I forget where all she said, but the earlier ones made this one sound exceedingly tame. They just got back from serving a CES (Church Education System) Mission in Montreal. Institute teaching. (University students) Not bad stuff.

They are also very cute. Individually and as a couple. He said, “Have you ever seen an angel? Why yes, I have.” Then he named the time and place - a class at BYU? I don’t remember. “And I married her.”

She talked about the importance and value of temporal education. We can and should better our situation through education. She also shared her information organization system. Any paper she wants to keep gets a number - consecutively as she gets it. She has folders labeled 1-25, 26-50, etc. The paper goes in the appropriate folder. Then she has alphabetized index cards. Tomatoes, how to grow Ah, # 13. She knows where to find it.

She quoted Marion D. Hanks, “Good Teachers Matter,” Ensign, Jul 1971, 60

Where to discover your interest and how to amass relevant information are illustrated in the story of an obscure spinster woman who insisted that she never had a chance. She muttered these words to Dr. Louis Agassiz, distinguished naturalist, after one of his lectures in London. In response to her complaint, he replied: “Do you say, madam, you never had a chance? What do you do?”

“I am single and help my sister run a boardinghouse.”

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I skin potatoes and chop onions.”

He said, “Madam, where do you sit during these interesting but homely duties?”

“On the bottom step of the kitchen stairs.”

“Where do your feet rest?”

“On the glazed brick.”

“What is glazed brick?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

He said, “How long have you been sitting there?”

She said, “Fifteen years.”

“Madam, here is my personal card,” said Dr. Agassiz. “Would you kindly write me a letter concerning the nature of a glazed brick?”

She took him seriously. She went home and explored the dictionary and discovered that a brick was a piece of baked clay. That definition seemed too simple to send to Dr. Agassiz, so after the dishes were washed, she went to the library and in an encyclopedia read that a glazed brick is vitrified kaolin and hydrous aluminum silicate. She didn’t know what that meant, but she was curious and found out. She took the word vitrified and read all she could find about it. Then she visited museums. She moved out of the basement of her life and into a new world on the wings of vitrified. And having started, she took the word hydrous, studied geology, and went back in her studies to the time when God started the world and laid the clay beds. One afternoon she went to a brickyard, where she found the history of more than 120 kinds of bricks and tiles, and why there have to be so many. Then she sat down and wrote thirty-six pages on the subject of glazed brick and tile.

Back came the letter from Dr. Agassiz: “Dear Madam, this is the best article I have ever seen on the subject. If you will kindly change the three words marked with asterisks, I will have it published and pay you for it.”

A short time later there came a letter that brought $250, and penciled on the bottom of this letter was this query: “What was under those bricks?” She had learned the value of time and answered with a single word: “Ants.” He wrote back and said, “Tell me about the ants.”

She began to study ants. She found there were between eighteen hundred and twenty-five hundred different kinds. There are ants so tiny you could put three head-to-head on a pin and have standing room left over for other ants; ants an inch long that march in solid armies half a mile wide, driving everything ahead of them; ants that are blind; ants that get wings on the afternoon of the day they die; ants that build anthills so tiny that you can cover one with a lady’s silver thimble; peasant ants that keep cows to milk, and then deliver the fresh milk to the apartment house of the aristocrat ants of the neighborhood.

After wide reading, much microscopic work, and deep study, the spinster sat down and wrote Dr. Agassiz 360 pages on the subject. He published the book and sent her the money, and she went to visit all the lands of her dreams on the proceeds of her work.

Now, as you hear this story, do you feel acutely that all of us are sitting with our feet on pieces of vitrified kaolin and hydrous aluminum silicate—with ants under them? Lord Chesterton answers: “There are no uninteresting things; there are only uninterested people.”

The Lord expexts us to stretch our intellect. We should ask questions and look for answers.

Bro. McAdams talked about the Plan of Salvation as a continual train of spiritual education. We were learning in the Spirit World - some with eager zeal, some more or less, and some less. He said even there some learned a great deal academically, but not spiritually - say, Lucifier. We have been placed on earth to our best advantage.

from Relief Society - Pray before you react. One sister, at Girl’s Camp, kept getting that thought for a couple of days. Then one evening, there was some frightening malfunction, I forget what, but I think fire was involved, and she stood up and said, “Ladies, Pray before you react.”

Our Relief Society lesson was from Allan F Packer’s talk last conference “Finding Strength in Challenging Times”
When the winds blow and the rains pour, they blow and pour on all. Those who have built their foundations on bedrock rather than sand survive the storms. There is a way to build on bedrock by developing a deep personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing how to receive inspiration. We must know—and know that we know. We must stand spiritually and temporally independent of all worldly creatures. This begins by understanding that God the Father is the Father of our spirits and that He loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Savior, and that the Holy Ghost can communicate with our minds and our hearts. This is how we receive inspiration. We need to learn how to recognize and apply these promptings.

He talked of hearing and recognizing his coach’s voice in the tumult of a football game because he had grown to know it through all those practices and learned to trust it.

In Wonderland

My granddaughter, Esther turned 6 yesterday. Ruth and Tom put on an amazing Alice In Wonderland Party.

Ruth made a topsy turvy cake that was what 4 or 5 “hats” high stacked crookedly and topped with a teacup with cake inside it. (An amazing cake that would cost hundreds of dollars from a bakery) We had a “tea party” with lots of tea cups of all shapes, colors and sizes - Ruth and Esther had done major shopping at thrift stores! - strawberry lemonade for tea. Heart shaped cookies that said “Eat Me” or “Take One” - (Miriam spent 2 evenings putting the writing on.) Heart shaped peanut butter sandwiches. Other snacks, too.

On the fence was a big background paper with 3 trees / bushes painted on and lots of white fabric roses. We put kitchen trash bag smocks on all the kids and they “painted the roses red” - with the appropriate sound track going on during the whole party, naturally. When the trumpets sounded their fanfare, Ruth came out as the Queen of Hearts demanding to know who had painted her roses red and ordering “off with their heads!”

The children played croquet. No flamingo clubs, although Ruth tried to find some. A few small decorative flamingos on the croquet grounds, tho. They were hitting wooden balls, too, but there was a hedgehog ball that got batted around a bit.

The party was quite a hit - probably especially with the grown-ups who appreciated the theme and the work, but the kids had a great time.

If we had left when the party was officially over, we could have gone to the Ward BBQ and Swim Party at a park I don’t know. Not the one from last year. I think one with LESS parking. They said “park in the neighborhood, the neighbors are used to it.” I hear there were 3 pools and of course, in Sacrament Meeting today, they reported that everyone had a wonderful time.

We, however, stayed at Hinds. I visited a good bit with John and Heidi (you remember? Tom’s sister). The kids climbed on and otherwise abused the uncles. Katarina (Catarina?) (younger than Esther, I don’t know about Jared. A spunky, lively little thing. When her friends come over to play Princess, she is the Evil Queen and scares them) took a fancy to Benjamin - calling him her “Lovely Man”. He kept hiding from her. I mentioned that he could say we needed to get home to take care of Tuffy, but... he was .......too polite?

Someone (Ruth and her sisters? I was too busy visiting to notice - shame on me) made some pasta and broccoli. By then it was starting to darken, so Tom and John stretched Christmas lights across the strings of teacups, paper lanterns, etc that decorated the Tea Party Garden. It was quite nice. And getting late, so as soon as we finished eating. we went home. (I had helped clean up the Tea Party table and a bit else earlier. I wasn't a total parasite)

Friday, July 24, 2009

2 gallon of milk, 2 cucumbers & a bunch of green onions

Thursday's detour by Bel Air on the way home from work was successful.

Thanks to Audrey for finding and returning my bicycle bag!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Bag Lady or Awesome Audrey

Knowing that we were on our last gallon of milk, I decided to swing by Bel Air on my way home and buy a couple more. What shock when I got off my bicycle to find that my bicycle saddle bag (a $50 saddle bag with my bike pump, spare tubes, patch kit, umbrella, bungie cords and a few other things in it) already had (gotten off that, is) at an undisclosed location!

My first thought was to retrace my pedals to look for it. Then I realized, goodness! I am nearly home and backtracking will take another couple hours, go home and get the car. So I did. (with a prayer in my heart!) Good thing, too, because I had forgotten today is Wednesday and Benjamin had Youth Meeting.

Benjamin, sharp eyes, came along. I drove back the way I go to work, parts of the route of necessity different than the way home, and stopped at my office building. No bag by the bike rack, where I admit, today's evening mount up was a good bit shaky and it could have fallen off there. The building was locked so I couldn't check with the guards. I drove back home the way I rode earlier, including the detour through Wishing Well's parking lot to check their closing time (6pm Yes, I can go to Wishing Well on the way home if I so desire). No bag anywhere along the way.

After dropping Benjamin at Young Men Activity (sports night, they played whiffle ball), I was at home reconciling my American Express bill (wondering why Bud's Buffet does not count as a restaurant and get 3% rebate instead of the general merchandise 1%), when someone came unexpectedly to the door. A lady asked if Barbara Robarts lived here. She had my bag!

Audrey, who has often passed me in the morning along our route on T street and, in fact, passed me twice today, found my bag where T crosses the railroad tracks. The only identification in my bag (this must change) was the return address on a thinking of you note I wrote to my neighbor (who I think is in a nursing home) today. Audrey who is obviously observant, honest and kind, as well as much more fit than I, lives in my neighborhood, on Alcott, just a few blocks west of here.

(Audrey passed me twice this morning because after passing me the first time, she stopped at a light at the foot of a hill. I stopped at the top of the hill and waited for the light to turn green before starting down. So she was starting from stop while I was working with gravity and for a few wonderful moments I was faster than her. On the level she surpassed me again. Easily.)

Thank the Lord and Audrey, I have my bicycle bag back!

Monday, July 20, 2009

High Council not so Dry

This was High Council Sunday.

Brother Godfrey said that since Bro. Uchtdorf talks about flying, he thought it was ok for him to talk about football. He shared some of his youthful football experiences and then related football to the gospel. Afterwards, Bishop Young (who was conducting) said something like “But Brother Godfrey, President Uchtdorf was a PROFESSIONAL flier.”

Brother Eickmeyer told us a little bit about what High Council is and what they do. He told us that each councilmember had a stewardship over an organization/program/auxillary of the church in the stake. His responsibility is Welfare. He also referred to an Ensign article about a former Stake President serving in Nursery. I thought he had been called to Nursery, but if I found the right one, he just helped out once. -

Steven H. Jensen, “My Turn in the Nursery,” Ensign, Aug 2003, p50

I had just been released as stake president and was relaxing in a Gospel Doctrine class one Sunday when sisters came in seeking volunteers to help in the nursery. Our lesson that Sunday was on the importance of following the Brethren, and for years I had preached the counsel of President J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961), a member of the First Presidency: “It is not where you serve but how” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1951, 154).

I watched the sign-up sheet come down the aisle toward me. I began thinking of all the possible excuses I could give. “Maybe,” I thought, “they want only sisters to sign up.” Then it was there: the sign-up sheet was in my hand. I imagined a number of eyes watching me to see what I would do. I finally signed up for a time four months away. Surely I’d have a new calling by then.
The months flew by, and one Saturday morning I received a call reminding me that I had volunteered to assist in the nursery on Sunday. The next day I found a room of youngsters waiting. All could walk, but none could talk. When I entered, they all ran to me, and I lifted two in my arms and walked over to look at some pictures. Soon I exchanged them for two other children. We read, played, hugged, and had a good time together.

At the end of Primary, I helped a sister restore order to the room. Soon her son and husband joined her in cleaning up, and I began reflecting on the hours of unseen service rendered by this family compared to the visible service I had rendered. The words of Jesus Christ came to me:
“But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth;
“That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly” (3 Ne. 13:3–4).

I had received many rewards for my service as a stake president. Yet this family too would receive their reward from a Father who knew well of their efforts on behalf of His children, and I felt it would be a great one.

Many thoughts rolled through my mind that day. The children didn’t care what I had once been or that I was well known to their parents. I was humbled, and I gained a deeper appreciation that it really doesn’t matter where you serve but how.

I liked that, but I would have liked it even better if he HAD been CALLED to Nursery. ; )

Sunday, July 19, 2009

People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.

Abraham Lincoln, in a book review
16th president of US (1809 - 1865)

The Lord has invited us to come to His house often. I am really good about going to my Sunday meetings, but somehow temple attendance is a little more challenging. Isn't that a laugh? No, it's really rather sorry. When I consider the many faithful who save for years, perhaps sell all they have, and travel for days by rickety bus on wretched tracks we would never call roads here. Oh, what a slacker I am! With a beautiful temple only minutes down the highway "I don't have time to go to the temple. "

While praying for my and my family's safety - financial among other things, it occurred to me that 1) the Lord and the governor have given me extra time and 2) if I want things from the Lord perhaps I should try a little harder to do the things He asks. "Come visit my house." Is that so much to ask?

Friday morning I reminded myself a bit of a character in a movie who somehow had been half taken over by someone else's spirit. He lurched about with half his body trying to go in one direction and do things a certain way and the other half trying to go and do things another way. Part of me was getting ready to go to the temple and part of me was causing delays. Somehow I made it.

Who is surprised to learn that as soon as I entered the temple, I felt peaceful and glad? When I read the name of the sister for whom I was acting I felt happy. I hope I was feeling some of her emotion to finally have her work done. Before the session began, they asked, as usual, if anyone wished to stay and help with sealings after the endowment. When no one else raised their hand except one brother, I did. As I knelt at the altar for each sister, I thought how happy she must be to be sealed to her husband - to be a bride again! and receive the blessings of Abraham. Or to be have her child sealed to her. Even though it is quickly done - a reverent assembly line, one after another - I felt a special joy for each one of them. I knelt in for half a dozen or so couple sealings and, I think 3 sealings of sons to parents. Then I left and others continued the work.

Friday evening, the boys went with a group of family and friends of family to see Harry Potter 6 while I babysat. Esther 1) didn't want her mom to go, and 2) was really upset that her kindergarten teacher was going and her parents got to see her but she, Esther, was missing out. She had a pretty good crying fit for quite a while, including kicking and pounding her fists on the floor. Pretty impressive, but I chose not to be impressed. I told her she could not cry like that in the family room, so she stayed on the landing. After a bit, I asked her what she thought she was going to accomplish by this. That gave her pause for thought. She tried crying again, but it lacked punch. After a little while, she joined Jared and me in playing board games. The rest of the evening was quite pleasant. When they tired of board games and returned to a movie they had started earlier, I got to look at some of Ruth's exciting Stampin'Up demonstrator previews. I also caught snatches of premier previews and interviews with the stars of HP6 so I had some idea of what the guys were talking about when they returned.

Saturday morning - no alarm clock Saturday! - (On Furlough Fridays I have to get up to do my weekday walk with Cyndi (human friend) and Anna (Lab partner) although my alarm is set for 6am, not 5ish. ) Even though I don't actually sleep in, I do lie in bed a bit and get little morning nap snatches. I so like no alarm clock days.

The boys and I went to City Bicycle Works for a (free) class on cleaning and lubing your bicycle. You just wash your bike like your car pretty much, except it is nice to use a brush to get into the gears and chain. They sell a nifty brush for that, but I forgot to buy one. He said you can use an old toothbrush, too, but it won't really fit in between the gears well. Then you let it dry in the sun and lube the chain and gears. He also showed us how to do the cable casings. It was helpful, but I didn't rush home and wash my bike. Too hot! I am sure it's not THAT dirty, right?

I lounged about a bit before succumbing to our, especially Joseph's, desire to support The Squeeze Inn. The 2 of us biked over. Pleasant surprise! the line was the shortest I had seen in all the times I have passed it (any time near opening hours) in the last couple of weeks - Only past a storefront or two and no winding through the parking lot. And the line was almost all in the shade! We read a few chapters of our "Reading Club" book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, before getting inside. (Inside, the chalkboard asks for customers to support them by writing our representatives. I have, but ought to again.) After ordering, we were fortunate to find a small table out back where we continued reading - and chatting with some other customers about the book - until our order came. This time Ben and I had regular burgers instead of the 1/3lb Squeeze Inn Burgers. I had cheese on mine - the famous cheese skirt. Joseph had a veggie burger. He, a better man than I am, is seriously cutting back on his meat consumption, working towards vegetarianism. Partly for health, the Word of Wisdom, but mostly for the sake of the animals.

Part of me would like to move towards vegetarianism, maybe just a little, but I really like meat and I am convinced that meat makes me feel good. I need to learn to cook good non-meat meals. If you know really good tasting recipes (that aren't too much work) and that have good protein, do share.

Later, we went to the church building to enjoy the Pioneer Day Commemoration Broadcast. We had the place entirely to ourselves. Even the AV guy was not there with us. The broadcast was as much a Mormon Tabernacle Choir 80th Anniversary Celebration as Pioneer Commemoration. Even more, the message I got was about faith and hope in difficult times. The presentation touched on many challenges from pioneer difficulties, to the Great Depression, WWII, 9-1-1 and more. Trials come. Despite them we can have peace, faith and hope. Music and the word of God help.

Books are bad for you, you know. They grab on to you and try to take over your life. Even such books as (for goodness sake!) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. We read some more after the broadcast until time for family prayer and scriptures. I wanted to read again afterwards, but forbore and went to bed. Where it was too hot to sleep for far too long.

So many things to do! I keep promising my self stamping time. I think I will go get ready for church and see if I can do some stamping before time to go to church. After church, we have Scout committee meeting and Youth Fireside. Then the weekend is over.

Too short even with 3 days!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.

-Thomas H. Huxley
Quotes are good. At least good ones are. Especially when you just cannot come up with a catchy post title.

Miriam wanted a tomato plant, but they came in 6 packs. She and her roommate planted one, Ruth planted one, and the rest of them were doomed to come to me. For reasons, uncertain, Miriam’s withered away. Ruth’s did not survive their move. Only mine, planted in kitchen compost in old laundry buckets and placed by the front porch (so I won’t forget to water them) remain. Thrive even, apparently. Who would have thunk? Monday, Joseph and I enjoyed our first tomato. Yesterday when I took Miriam to Kaiser, I took her a tomato – the 2nd one to ripen. More are coming. ; )

(Miriam was gong to Kaiser for a follow up on her hand surgery. They had to PULL OUT WIRES, take X-rays and then put a new “removable” cast on. She starts physical therapy Friday. Such fun.) --

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is more amusing to begin with and in theory, but several chapters in the novelty is less. It is still somewhat amusing, but as Joseph said (and I was happy to hear him do so), the original is much better. We are not reading both books chapter by chapter. We have all read enough now to see how nearly the one follows the other. To continue to read both would be simply tedious.

: ( Since I got Winnie the Peg, my iPod touch, I download news podcasts at night to listen to at work. My news is always old. ; ) A few days ago, I pushed the updates button in my applications file. Now, when I go to “Music” which has not only music, but also podcasts, all I get is a blank white screen. Grr! Joseph,my resident IT specialist, doesn’t think he can do anything. I need to contact the company to try to see what’s what, but they don’t make it easy to get hold of them. They have sets of answers up on their website. Unfortunately, so far none of them work for my problem.

After Kaiser was finally finished with her, Miriam and I went to the mall to the Apple Store to get advice about Winnie. Only the store is closed for renovation until August. The sign tells you to check on-line for the nearest store. Translation: there isn’t one. My walking buddy has relatives that work for Apple, so we might see if they can help. (Although ever since her common-law-son-in-law replaced my window motor, my car always whistles like the window is open because part of the window frame is bent slightly. A wind scoop to help my already sterling gas mileage. He did it for free in Welge’s driveway. Waddya expect.)

Not having Winnie makes rote work long and dull. The work day seems longer. Also, my best news source lately is Benjamin who is watching the national news every day for a week as he works on his Citizen in the Nation merit badge. He tells me about some of the news stories when I get home.

Last night the Youth Activity was swimming at Perry’s. No lightening storm this time.

I am the new Ward Website Administrator. My predecessor says it hardly takes any time at all except at the beginning of the year (or whenever the ward leaders get their calendar out.) We shall see. (I don't think so) It has already eaten up large amounts of time, but much of that was just becoming familiarized. It is a bit of a clunky working site, I think. 1/4 - 1/2 of my children could probably program a more user friendly site. I am told that the church's best programers work in Family History. But I am excited and hope to keep the website up-to-date so that it will actually be useful to people. Mostly that means approving calendar submissions and keeping the calendar current. I don't have the freedom to add much spark or personality. I know, some of you are sure that's a good thing.

I asked Andrew what he would like in care packages. One of the things he mentioned was EFY (Especially For Youth) music. Yesterday after helping Miriam and deciding there was no point in going to work, one of my errands took me near the church bookstore where I bought a EFY CD for him. When I got home, I read Andrew's letter which informs us that the new mission president has dis-approved EFY music. Now, do I take it back or give it to someone else for Christmas?

Christmas! bah humbug. Except for it being a wonderful warm, friendly, spiritual, family time that commerates the birth of our Savior and has such sweet spirit, songs, stories and traditions - Christmas is stressful!! Nearly when EVER I think of it. It is surprising how hard it is for me to choose/find/make/whatever gifts for the ones I love. Another Not One of My Talents. (When/IF we find a my talent, please let me know!) Please update your wish lists. My family is big enough, forget gifts for friends, dear as they may be. Gift giving, washing dishes/laundry, and -when I had my whole crew - taking them to visit any one else's home - that's when I think/thought My, I have a big family. I hardly draw breath from one holiday or gift giving occasion than it's somebody else's birthday or another holiday. Fun, but more fun if I was better at it!

Good news! I got Ruth approval on my Christmas card plans and ordered the supplies I need. Pretty simple plan. If I get started soon, I might get them made in time to get out before Christmas.

Monday, July 13, 2009

sporting good company

A year or so ago I bought a High Sierra Hydration Pack for biking, hiking, whatever. It has been tucked away in my closet for awhile. Since I started biking, first to light rail, then all the way to work, I hauled it out, but alas! I seem to have lost the slide closure for the reservoir - making the hydration pack useless. I emailed High Sierra Sport Company to find out how I could get a new closure slide. Valerie at Customer Service said she couldn't get me a closure, so she sent me a new reservoir. It arrived today. That's customer service!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

pleasant but not that interesting

Furlough Friday - less money : (
more time : D

After doing some errands (I replaced my walking shoes which were completely worn through), we (the boys, Miriam, Anna and I) went to the beach.

It has been far too long since we have been there. So long, in fact, that I forgot the way, missed a critical turn, and ended up going through San Francisco instead of coming down 101 from the north. Bad news - we had to pay to cross a toll bridge. Good news - it was interesting driving around San Francisco and seeing some of the city (where I again got confused before finding the Golden Gate Bridge so we got to enjoy even more). We almost stopped at Golden Gate Park instead, but I wanted to go to Rodeo Beach as planned. Another time! Preferably a day we can spend all day there. Ruth's family is planning a week's vacation in the City in September. I am a little jealous.

We did finally make it to the beach. It was lovely! Perfect for walking and relaxing. We watched surfers and surf. Anna (always on leash) walked along the beach with us, but carefully avoided the water. She also got to meet a few nice dogs (and behaved herself). We just relaxed and appreciated the beautiful coast and the beautiful weather. Nothing exciting. Just good. Also good, we did not get sand in Miriam's cast.

On the way home, we stopped at Popeye's Chicken. good food, a little pricey, but good portions.

Miriam and I stayed up too late chatting.

Saturday, I didn't really accomplish any great things. I didn't go do dry pack canning as perhaps I ought to have. Joseph went to an Elder's Quorum Softball game for much of the day. They lost. Benjamin worked on cleaning and sorting (he's the best). I helped a little. We also talked a little about his Scout work. Need to get moving on his Eagle. I paid bills. (So glad to be able to do so! I hope I don't lose my job!) Ruth came by to borrow a stamp set and gave her approval to my Christmas card plans. : )

We did not go to Squeeze Inn. Not enough time and interest and I have already spent a little bit too much on eating out. I passed it a few times this weekend. Lines all around the parking lot each time. The last time I passed was shortly after closing time Saturday and there was still a long line out the door and past a couple of shops next to it. Their customers are showing their support! The owner says he cannot upgrade nor afford to fight the suit, so he plans to change locations. That will mean some loss of character even though he will take his eclectic decor.

Time to get ready for church. If we are ready early enough, Reading Club!

Fine Literature

Recently I re-read (actually listened to an audiobook) Pride and Prejudice. Delightful.

Yesterday while at Costco for gas and milk, on a whim I picked up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Amusing.?

Having read the first few chapters, I told Joseph about it this morning. Now, he is reading Pride and Prejudice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombis chapter by chapter. He told Benjamin, so they are switching off books. I think we will convert to Reading Club as soon as we finish our current book A Foreign Affair which only has a couple of dozen pages left.

; D

Friday, July 10, 2009

This is the show for Andrew and me!

I was writing to Andrew about this show and decided to post it. Sometimes I post and later copy to Andrew, sometimes Andrew then blog. Get what mileage I can out of my great literary efforts. ; )

“The Great American Road Trip” -sounds good already, doesn’t it?!! (This is something that reminds me of Andrew. He and I dream of going on a good road trip.)

Starting at Wriggly’s Field in Chicago, 7 families of 4 each in a BIG RV are driving to California on famous, historic Route 66. It is not a race. Each week there are 2 challenges. The winner of King of the Road gets a special reward. The 3 losers compete in End of the Road to see who has to go home.

The first challenge was at Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois. One parent had to pick up as many votes as they coud, work their way through the Rose Garden maze, climb over the Cabinet, and struggle through a field of red tape, the race to deposit the votes in their ballot box while wearing a giant President’s head with VERY limited vision. The kids were Special Agents who tried to guide their president safely through. The most votes (69?) won. For the prize a fire truck picked up the family at the campground and took them to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge (now actually a pedestrian/bicycle bridge) an historic Missippippi crossing on Route 66 for a candlelite dinner.

The End of the Road Challenge was at the foot of the great Arch in St Louis. The families were timed rolling a GIANT ball - with a family member inside - through a series of arches. The ball had a rope attached that was long enough - as long as they went through in the right order.

Great fun. I would love to drive America but I want to go further east than Illinois! I want to visit all the early American history sites, New York City and see Washington DC again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

To The Governor

I often say that it is not enough to vote and certainly not enough to simply complain. I believe that we all need to write to our representatives - often! - even though we know that our appeals will often fall on deaf ears. Today again, I emailed Arnold.

Dear Mr. Schwarzenegger,

1)I understand that California is in crises and that we all must do our part. However, you CAN NOT balance the budget on the backs of the State workers. We have been cut 3 times already while taxes, licenses, fees and other costs of living keep going up. We ARE doing our part! Not all of us can afford to work for $1 / year. We work hard and we are struggling. We cannot keep taking cuts. We do NOT have 20% discretionary income.

We need to balance the budget, but face it, we cannot fix decades of mess in one year. Go for a good 5 year plan. Too many cuts too fast will break us.

2)Beware of false economies. Slashing programs that will come back at double, triple and more the cost is not fiscally sound. For instance,if we close our parks - either we pay to protect them while they stop bringing in any revenue OR we leave them to criminals and vandals to endanger citizens and destroy irreplaceable resources. The cost, even in the short term, is likely to outweigh any savings. In the long term, these closures will be disastrous. That is not taking into consideration the fiscal impact on surrounding communities from loss of tourists or the emotional/educational impact on the people and guests of California.

3)My friend, a prison guard's wife, tells me that they keep getting the pay cuts, but they have not been allowed to use their furlough days. That is just wrong.

I know you have an incredibly difficult task, but please reconsider these damaging measures.

at the sound of the chime

I promise to stop boring you with my biking times - after this -
unless I accomplish something really great

yesterday - when Big Ben on my Palm chimed 5pm I was sitting at my
desk, when it chimed 6 I was sitting on my bed changing my shoes
this morning - 7:09am Kitchen 8:04 office

Not bad for a fat, old lady

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Squeeze Inn

Looking for a small cause to support?

The Squeeze Inn, a fairly famous LITTLE hamburger place on Fruitridge near us, is being sued for not being ADA compliant.

Hopefully, here is a link to the news story:

It is tiny. Only 12 stools. The boys and I went there a while back just because here we are living by a famous place and never had been there. While not Wowed, we enjoyed it. But that's not the point.

I do think that there should be reasonable accomodation for people with various limitations, however, let's be real. My thing is, I don't think small businesses in old buildings should be ruined because they cannot afford to become ADA compliant.

I had not really planned on eating there again, because it was good, but.... I don't eat out much and it wasn't THAT exciting. But now, the boys and I are planning to eat there this weekend as a show of support. Also, we are trying to figure out to whom to write.

If you decide to eat there, too, be warned - there is almost always a long line. My guess is that many of its sometimes customers are going to find a newly awaked loyalty and hunger - like us.


I wrote to City Councilman Kevin McCarty and to Congresswoman Doris Matsui:
You may have heard that the famous little burger place The Squeeze Inn is being sued for ADA compliance. The Squeeze Inn is a tiny OLD place. It only seats 12. There is no way they can afford to make the changes to become ADA compliant. This law suit will help no one. It will just close down a business, put more people out of work, and eliminate a Sacamento landmark.

Is there anything you and I can do to help protect small businesses like the Squeeze Inn from being ruined by ADA law suits?

I do think that there should be reasonable accomodation for people with various limitations, however, let's be real. Small businesses in old buildings should be not ruined because they cannot afford to become ADA compliant.

Thank you!

just under 55

Not miles per hour! Minutes to work today. More like about 8 miles
per hour. For me, pretty good! No mishaps, just had to wait a couple
of minutes for a train.

I thought I was doing well when from office to home I made it in an
hour and a couple of minutes - including putting my front brake cable
back in place before leaving and having to put the chain back on its
gears after a bad gear shift at an unexpected light change.

I am losing a few minutes of computer time before work. : ( But I
haven't found any other time or form of exercise that works for me.
Even Wii - I just don't manage the time, or sometimes the will. I
hope THIS works.

Last night, Benjamin and I went to Twilight Tuesday at the zoo. It
was Across the Pond night. Cool British roadsters on display and
music that reminded me of the old Beatles era. I was surprised how
few animals were actually out, though. You would think they would
enjoy the cool, quiet evening hours. It was pleasant just walking
around the zoo. Ben seemed a bit impatient. '

Next week, I may just bike over from work. Even if I don't stay long,
it will be a pleasant interlude for which I have already paid. I
bought a member plus guest membership when Joseph and I went. I don't
think I want to bike through Oak Park in the evening though! which
would be the shortest way home from the zoo. I don't know if I can
lift my bike up on to the light rail car either. I will probably take
the long route and bike Fruitridge.

Argh! Biking does steal computer time! I am now late for work. Bye!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy Tell The Truth Day! - shouldn't that be every day?!

Happy Ice Cream Cone Day!
Happy Strawberry Sundae Day!
Happy Chocolate Day! - can we celebrate them all?!

Good quotes I came across yesterday and today each of which I could talk/or write a great deal about if only I had time, but I am sure you can think up some good stuff on your own:

"Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it." Tallulah Bankhead (1903-1968)

"If someone offers you a gift, and you decline to accept it, the other person sit owns that gift. The same is true of insults and verbal attacks." Steve Pavlina, How to Win an Argument

"When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

News I just must share:
There is the famous Nathan's Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest – 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes this year setting a new record which is really bad enough, but when I saw 3 elephants lined up in front of a pile of hot dog buns July 3, I was dismayed. I don't think
elephants eat hot dogs. It can't be good for them. Relax! There were no hot dogs in those buns. It was a Coney Island Man Team vs Elephant Team Hot Dog BUN Eating Contest. Three against three. The human's frantically stuffed themselves in the 6 minute contest.

From the (who else to report on Coney Island?!)
" In the fight of pachyderms vs. people - the pachyderms now have the upper trunk.
Three circus elephants scored a decisive victory over three human competitive eaters at a cross-species eating contest Friday, chomping down on 505 hot dog buns in six minutes. The humans forced down only 143 buns in the bout at Brooklyn's Coney Island.

The elephants, Bunny, Susie and Minnie - all in their 40s - ate at what appeared to be a leisurely pace from behind a table piled high with buns. They even paused to eat some fresh fruit, which was not counted toward scoring."

Wallet Stolen In 1982 Found In NYC Tree - $20 Gone From Wallet Found In Tree

NEW YORK -- Money doesn't grow on trees, but a tree-care supervisor in New York City's Central Park found an old wallet inside a dead one.

The blue leather wallet had been stolen by a pickpocket 27 years ago.
It was found in the hollow of a dying cherry tree. It was near where
Ruth Bendik had hers swiped while she watched the New York City
Marathon in 1982.
The 69-year-old Upper East Side resident says the only thing missing was $20 in cash. Her credit cards were still there. So were her student ID from Columbia University Teachers College and an employee ID from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The park worker says he found the wallet last week under five feet of
compost. Police tracked down Bendik the next day.

Closer to home: During our morning walk today, we were halted in our tracks by a kitten's urgent mews. (S)he(?) was up on the top crossboard of a good neighbor fence looking at us intently and mewing for all he (for the sake of simplicity) was worth. Us? No, not us, Anna. After a pause and exclamation, Cyndi W and I walked a bit ahead letting out the extendo leash as Anna gazed longingly at the kitten. The kitten focused on Anna and uttered its plea. When she moved, the kitten moved. I was worried the kitten was going to jump down and follow us, so I called a reluctant Anna away, telling her that I was sure that Kitty belonged in that yard and the people had let it out thinking it was too little to climb the fence. We do NOT need another
cat as the two we have are sworn enemies AND cat box duty is not very popular.

Prepare to be amazed : Joseph's bike pump arrived in the mail yesterday. (Pretty quick, but not the really amazing part.) So he sold me his old pump. (Not amazing) I rode my bike to work today. (Now, isn't that amazing?! ! Until I tell you that it took me nearly an hour and 20 minutes. Of course, part of that time was a brief stop to try to get my old little walkman radio to work, but I heard more buzz than news, and a considerably less brief stop to try to re-connect my front brake which I had disconnected to show Joseph how easy it is so you can change your tire more easily but forgot to put it back – and was unable to this morning. Good thing my back brake is good and I go so slowly it doesn't take much to stop me. )

Speaking of brakes, my lunch break is over (no hot dogs).

Write to me, friends and family who are also my friends! Please.
Thank you! to those who do or blog which is just about the same thing.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

I have heard people say that they don't like our national anthem. Some have even said that they though it meaningless today. I disagree. This song invariably moves me. It also challenges me.

If you do not know the history of the writing of The Star Spangled Banner, you can find it and more here.

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

I think of the great relief Francis Key felt when he realized the flag still flew. I think about the freedoms that flag represents, all who have sacrificed, the threats they have faced and the threats we continue to face. The battle continues.

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Some people think that we offend and insult the British by continuing to sing these. Oh, no. They are our friends. However, there are large haughty hosts of foes assailing this country and her freedoms, within and without her borders. The battle's confusion is very much in the cacophony of loud voices and even more the quiet, subtle voices undermining America's moral fabric and challenging her freedoms and responsibilities. The greatest dangers are from within.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Is this still the home of the brave? I am not very brave. But if we don't defend freedom, we will lose it. America needs soldiers, not only uniformed soldiers, but citizen soldiers.

It isn't easy. I am bombarded with more information than I can handle. There is more to learn and do than any of us can manage. We cannot do everything, but we can do something. Read a little, learn a little, write our representatives, vote, discuss.

My prayer is that we will learn when and where to stand as freemen.

Fourth Story

7/4/09 6:42 am
I am no fan of alarm clock Saturdays. This morning we woke up at 5am to be at the Cordova building at 6 for the guys to help set up tables & chairs for the Stake Fourth of July Breakfast . We were on time, but the work was already well under way. Last night we were not quite 10 minutes late to the Wisseman building to load up the tables & chairs and it was already done. Lots of good workers!

Last night after not loading chairs we went to watch the Rivercats' fireworks. We had gone Thursday at the spur of the moment, but were looking (in vain) for parking when the fireworks went off. Although we arrived earlier last night, there was no free or inexpensive parking to be had, not much expensive parking either even. We crossed the river into West Sacramento, wandered around past full, mildly expensive, and no parking areas before ending up behind the Ziggurat by the River Walk. We set on the Raley's Field side & enjoyed hamburgers & Reading Club. In front of us was a large empty field fenced off. A man came by & told us to stay out of the field. When the fireworks began we found out why-they were launching from the other end! We were practically right under them! Awesome. Tonight we will stay home with the animals & watch fireworks on TV-if we can get reception.

Sunday, July 5 8am
The breakfast went well. I was a bit disappointed in our flag ceremony. The "Scouts" who raised the flag were not in uniform and had not practiced. However, the flag rising and flying is always a stirring sight and the sister sang the national anthem with feeling and without unnecessary flourishes. The boys and I got our breakfast, then helped serve. Several times I was told we had completely run out of sausage, but then a few minutes later more would "miraculously" appear. The band, as usual, filled the air and our hearts as they played wonderful patriotic songs. Children enjoyed cotton candy, face painting and bubbles. "My" Hinds came. It is so cute how much Jared loves Joseph. The kids love their uncles, but I think Joseph and Jared may have something special. Ben helped a bit with putting up tables and chairs, but we skipped out on most of the clean-up. Hinds went to the Rancho Cordova community parade. We went home.

I worked a bit more trying to figure out my Christmas card. It's a good thing I am getting started "early" - only 172 days until Christmas! le gasp! when you have a big family, it doesn't do to delay. I am already, as usual, behind where I should be. Sometimes I find something I think someone would like for Christmas and get all happy because I have a gift already. Then I realize that their birthday is coming. Well, good, I have a birthday present, but nothing for Christmas again. Anyway, good thing I am getting started on my cards, because it's taking me a while. Simplify, simplify. Again, I think I have a plan. A fairly simple plan, mostly using things I already have. Pretty good. I just need to get more cardstock (when I can stop waffling on the color!) and a bit of embossing powder. Anyway, working on my cards really is work in a way, but fun.

I have been riding my bike 2 miles to light rail for a whole week now, plus a couple of days. This is going so well, I am toying with the idea of riding my bike to work. With that in mind, I rode to my office (6 or 7 miles) yesterday late afternoon/early evening. From bike shed back to bike shed it was 2 hours (I know, I am slow) - with some time spent trying (without success) to find the closure clip for my hydration pack. 2 hours in pretty much no traffic and hitting some lucky lights. If I make the 7:30am train, my commute is about 40 minutes from home. Miss the train and add 15 minutes. So, biking is just a few minutes more. Unless traffic adds a lot. I might try it. I don't have a bike pump yet, so a flat would be mildly disastrous instead of deucedly inconvenient. Still, the thought is tempting.

As entertaining as light rail can sometimes be - One day last week 2 quys (who looked like street people but not real bad) had a rousing agruememt which I feared would come to blows over whether one of them was going to heaven. - And sometimes I can manage to read or crochet on light rail. More often, I am standing. Sometimes in close quarters with people who smoke (gag) or use foul language. Most of the people on light rail during commute especially are ok, nice even. I have experienced acts of chivalry, seen others, and enjoyed pleasant conversations. But some.... ugh. It might be pleasant to ride. And dare I hope that it would actually do my health any good? Theoretically, it should, but I bike easy. My speeds are slow and slower.

Back at home, I made pasta salad and put some hamburgers on the grill. Did a couple of things in the house. Came back to find flames shooting out in all directions. I turned off the gas and opened it up. The bottom and sides were on fire. Maybe the grill needs cleaning out? I spritzed out the fire. We ate charbroiled burgers.

Anna took the explosions all around outside quietly, trembling, and needing to be constantly touched for reassurance. Princess Attila the Mouse Hun of Kitty Hen Spoiled Cat Face (the cat we rightfully stole) seemed to ignore the whole thing. Velox (as usual) was not anywhere in sight. Velox in hiding is the regular thing as still Attila terrorizes her.

We watched Nova - Fireworks (again, but it is interesting) and the Capitol Fourth while eating Red, White and No More Blues Ice Cream.

Happy Birthday, America!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Furlough Friday Fun

It's official, we get 3 free Fridays a month.

Free as in we won't go to work, but we won't get paid either.

In July we get the 10th, 17th, and 24th. (No time off for
Independence Day.) After that we get the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Friday
each month through June 2010.

We lucky State Workers now get 3 Three Day Weekends each and every month!

I think that it will be almost as hard going to work on that 4th
Friday as it is going to be adjusting to a 14.23% paycut (oh, big
ouch!), but I am sure that given time, the Governator will take care
of that first problem.

Then we can adjust to a total 19% pay reduction with which he will NOT
help, unless you call increasing licensing fees, etc help.

Despite that, I am just happy to have and hoping to keep my job!

- Of course the mathematical geniuses I mentioned in an earlier post
will have to deal with a 28.46% (then a total 38% reduction), right?
If this is how they do math, their finances probably are in big
trouble. Have they been helping run the State? -

We will find plenty to do on our Furlough Fridays! There's endless
work to do around the house. We can run errands when the streets and
stores are slightly less crowded. Along with all the other state
workers, of course.

But first, I think we are going to go to the beach! I can hardly wait!