Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another First - or - That's What You Get For Thinkin'

Pedaling in to work recently, possibly even today, I happily reflected that having biked most days since early July (and having spent unholy sums getting my bike more ride-able), I have been quite fortunate that I have not had a flat.

Today I thought I might bike the several blocks (or maybe a Biblical few) from work to my class at the Sacramento City College Downtown Center and perhaps gain a couple of minutes study time.  Hmmm, I wondered - are the minutes taken locking and unlocking worth the minutes saved biking rather than walking.  Yes,  I'll bike!  Unlocked the bike, made my usual 'graceful' mount, and started pedaling.  Something didn't feel right.  A glance down revealed the answer, which you already know.  My tire was flat.  Which meant that I spent the time unlocking and locking and STILL had to walk to class.  I was not late, but I didn't study either.

Which also meant that after work (after working a half hour later than usual because the deal with the State and the class is half my time and half the State's time) I got to change my tire. (Front tire, fortunately.)  For the very first time!  Despite having had a bike shop guy "teach" me how to change a tire and having watched Joseph change my tire (with amazing speed and strength) explaining to me as he did so, and having the requisite items in my bike bag, I approached this task with images of me sitting in the gathering gloom of downtown dusk weeping amidst scattered bike parts.  Nothing like positive imaging, eh? 

Actually, it went quite well.  I had found "How to change a bicycle tire" on-line and printed it up (10 pages with pictures) to help guide me.   And I did it. The whole thing.  ok, at the very last, some guy biking in to work as I finished pumping up the tire hung around to make sure I got the wheel back on ok and reminded me about the easy brake release so I didn't let the air back out of my tire to get it past the brakes.

But I did it.  And it got me home.  Rode pretty well (i.e. soothly) - better than the ride in, come to think of it. 

Once home, I got out our pump with a gauge on it and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had gotten it to over 75 lbs.  Not bad!  My tires take 75 or 80  - to 100 lbs.  I am afraid to go all the way to 100 lest when I heave my bulk upon the saddle the back tire will burst, but I like to get it up well past 90.  Faster, smoother ride.  And I find that deuced difficult, I tell you.  Did you know that bike tires need to be pumped up at least once a week because rubber is not actually air tight?  More exercise than the biking itself and less fun.

Despite my amazing pumping job and Benjamin's still more amazing topping it off all the way to 100 -  maybe a little more -  when we told him my range, he let some air out.  Then he discovered the joys of cool compressed air and let a lot of air out.  Which was ok, because despite my amazing pumping accomplishment, Joseph and I decided it would be a good idea to take the whole thing apart again, because I had not been able to determine the cause of the flat.  Benjamin found the leak in the tube.  On the wheel side.  A spoke poke? Joseph thinks not , as it is smaller than a spoke and round.  (Spoke ends are not round?)  Also, I had and he did again check the rim tape which appeared to be fine.  Still not knowing why the flat, we put the wheel back together and back on my bike.  (Good luck tomorrow)

Then we put my recently purchased lights on, because it is getting to be that time of  year and I was not sure I would make it home before darkishness set in.  Images of a flat Mama whose affairs are not in order ( a rather large non-flat if you know what I mean flat Mama) - not pretty!  Or being pulled over and ticketed for riding without lights and being told I had to walk my bike home.  Unpleasant thoughts, which fortunately also did not materialize.

Dinner was late. (But it was good!) Now I am late to bed.  Wishing you all peaceful rest after happy and productive days.

First Fruit

Today, I ate an apple off our little baby apple tree which we planted a couple(?) of years ago.  A Golden Delicious.  The tree is a multi - I think it will have Grannies and Fujis (if we don't kill it with our ignorance and neglect.)  I wondered how good the apple would be as it has languished in the fridge for a week or two (the primary apple eater(s) holding out for a Granny or a Fuji), but it was very good indeed.  When I was a kid, Golden Delicious was my favorite.  But they must be crisp.  I think I started preferring Grannies and Fujis when I started eating them with sharp cheese.  It seems I prefer not to eat a tart apple by itself.  A good Golden is delicious by itself, as this one reminded me.  hmmmmm.  I think there is another one in the fridge.  Tomorrow!

A Graduate

Patriarch of one of the oldest and largest families in the church in our area Wesley McA graduated this school of life.  Apparently, some of the family got the word while they were at Nathalie’s Pampered Chef party last Thursday.  To which I was invited, but didn’t make it.  She had booked off Ruth’s recent party (I got a garlic press, a garlic slicer and a little tube thing you put your garlic in, roll it back and forth, and the garlic peel comes right off. Now, I should probably buy some garlic.) and I should have supported her, but I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted, and of course, I am always having time/energy management problems.  Of course, if Ruth was there, she would probably sell me on something, but I don’t think she went.  But, I digress.  

Grandpa McA’s funeral will be between conference sessions Saturday at the Dover building.  We, of course, will not go because I already told the missionaries and the mission office that we are doing lunch at the Wisseman building.

I cannot be too sad about Wesley McA.  He lived a long and apparently faithful life.  He loves the Lord and he loves family.  He also loves learning things.  I am sure that in recent years, although he has enjoyed family here, there are many he missed who have gone beyond.  And I am sure that his opportunities for learning have been greatly reduced.  Oh, what opportunities he will have now!! And to be free of the pain and restrictions of an aged body!  I feel to rejoice for him.  Probably his earthly family have mixed feelings, but a lot of gladness for him and relief.

Congratulations on your graduation, Wesley!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur, a most holy Jewish day, a day of fasting and reflection, the end of the period of repentance, the day the Book of Life is sealed.  The Jews have Yom Kippur.  Many Christians observe Lent before Easter as a season of sacrifice, soul searching and repentance.  We Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) do not observe Lent or Yom Kippur although I like to take note of them. We have Fast Sunday every month when we fast, contribute to the needy, and reflect on our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Reflection and repentance ought to be a daily practice, particularly as we approach each Sabbath Day and renew our covenants by taking the Sacrament.


Is it sacrilege that my family once had a lovely Siamese cat named Yom Kippur?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

copied from a letter to Andrew - pretty boring, actually

You really should have signed up for a more interesting mother!
I saw Mrs Fabiano Friday night. ((Our next door neighbor who suffered several falls earlier this year and laid on the floor for hours each time before being found.)  She has been in care almost since you left. Her son, Leonard (not young nor hale himself) came from out of town I think and briefly sprang her from the private care home. They were getting ready to go pick up his daughter who was flying in to visit and they were planning a picnic or something for Saturday. Mrs. Fabiano looked, I thought, better than she had last time I saw her. She says the people at the care home are nice, but she still hopes to get back into her house. Fortunately, they now realize that can only happen if they find someone to stay with her. - I wonder how they afford to keep the house and have her in care, but the house is probably long since paid for.

I took my bike to the shop on Furlough Friday, hoping not to miss any commute days, but that didn’t work out. The loose handlebar was really bothering me. The handlebar not only moved up and down, but sideways quite a bit. It made me feel pretty unsteady. I was also hoping that they could fix my gears. The front shifters don’t really work at all and the back gears tend to pop. They kept the bike until Tuesday. I don’t think they even started on it until Tuesday, to tell the truth. They replaced the handlebar holder post or whatever. As for the gears, they would need complete replacing. The bike is not worth that. I think it did go more smoothly yesterday morning so they may have managed some adjustments. I need to start saving up and thinking about replacing the bike someday, but there is no rush.
Today, I had to light rail because the boys overslept and Benjamin was late for Seminary, - No way was he going to take the time to get out his bike. Fortunately, today was a decent light rail day. And I had some crocheting with me. Tuesday was horrid. First, the train was late. Then it was CROWDED. Third, they made the back two cars (me) empty out at 13th because they were taking the cars out of service. (??!) They said two more trains were coming along directly, but it took them awhile to move the now emptied cars out of the way and they didn't answer when we asked if there was going to be room on them when they did come through. There have been times when the relief trains were so crowded that people had to wait for the 3rd or 4th one to come along. Rumor spread that there was some difficulty moving them, which meant the trains behind them could not come through. I decided to walk the remaining what? 8 blocks. Fortunately, I was wearing decent shoes and not carrying a whole lot of stuff. Naturally, however, just before I got to the next stop, a nearly empty train passed me and left the stop just as I hurried around behind it. Two almost empty trains passed me before I got to work. I guessed wrong on that gamble. I was thinking, another reason to ride my bike!
Benjamin is starting to appreciate biking home from Seminary. Largely because it gives him the freedom to linger, chat with the teacher, help put up chairs – whatever – without worrying about making me late. Besides getting his PE in for the day and helping his dear old Mom try to be a little bit healthier.

Tuesday, the Relief Society had a Preparedness Enrichment Night. Liz R, recent convert, talked about solar ovens and about dehydrating. Allision H talked about sprouting. I was amazed how much more vitamins and protein one gets when one sprouts seeds! Where does it come from?

Ruth borrowed my camera for the longest time while her camera was sent back for repairs. When she returned it, she also gave me a very cute “camera” she made from a matchbox – using her Stampin’Up punches – that looked like mine. On the viewer she had a picture of the kids holding a thank you sign. Inside she had an accordion of pictures of the kids. (and some dark Hershey kisses) . Very clever. Now she has my camera again because hers is not working. They are in San Francisco on vacation all this week. Every day they send a cute email postcard with pictures they have taken. Looks like great fun! Is she sending them to you, too? If not, do you want me to forward them, or do you not have time?
Tuesday was the first day of Fall. Weather in the high 90s, even going triple digit in parts of Sacramento. Ah, that crisp, cool fall air.
We picked a couple of Golden Delicious apples off our little tree days ago. They are in the fridge. I keep forgetting to eat them. Might not be a fair evaluation by the time I do.
Our tomato plants seemed to be on hold for the longest time, but now we are getting a tomato here and there again. I had one for dinner last night and another for lunch today. Yummy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Many months ago, I decided to give myself the gift of spending my birthday at one of my favorite places - MacKerricher State Park 3 miles north of Fort Bragg.  I reserved my favorite campsite.  I let the kids know in case they wanted to/could come although it was such a casual mention so far in advance most of them didn't really notice.

As time drew near, Benjamin and Joseph agreed to come, although not with great enthusiasm.  When Benjamin registered for his classes at Sacramento City College, the only class he could get was a Friday only class.  That was a conflict with my desire to head out early Thursday.  Then, too, I have class meeting 11-1 on Tuesdays and Fridays.  I decided to wait for Benjamin's class and leave as soon as possible - like pick him up at the college and hit the freeway.

Then the Stake planned a Laurel-Priest raft trip for Saturday.  And the (older) Singles planned a fun-sounding BBQ.  But we decided to stick to our plans.

I rented a U-Haul trailer on Thursday so we could have it all packed up before Benjamin went to class.  Of course, it didn't work out that way.  I went to work in the morning, then to class, then to CalPers where they were too busy to help me, did a few other errands, fielded a few friendly but time consuming phone calls.

(Oh! One of the calls was from my ex.  I don' know if he meant it as a birthday present or not, but he told me that as I have had to deal with furloughs and he has not, that he does not plan to claim Benjamin on his income tax this year as he had earlier insisted, but will let me have the tax break.  In more good news along the character development line, he told me that he is working well on getting his credit card debt into shape and has not charged anything for a year.  He said he plans to repay me for the money that paid for his Prius instead of house repairs after he eliminates his credit card debts.  I will not hold my breath or take out a loan on that, but I was glad to hear that he is doing well and intends well.)

Anyway, here's something new and different in my life (I wish!) - time got away from me and I didn't get nearly as much done as I would have liked.

Benjamin and I spent much of Thursday evening playing with fire.  We found 3 campstoves and tested them.  One made hissing (leaking) noises when we turned on the propane.  When we (meaning Benjamin) tried to light it, flames shot out everywhere except the burners.  Seared the hair off his hand.   It takes a while for the flames to go out when you shut off the propane at the tank.  It may or may not be repairable, but I tossed it.  Stove number two, did not have electronic ignition and it looked old, dirty, and beat up, but it lit nicely.  Stove number 3 made with the bad hissing noises and joined stove number one.  It had taken me 3 or 4 stores before I found the right mantles for our lantern, but I did and we figured out how to work the lantern.

Benjamin hauled out tents, sleeping bags, and camp chairs before class. I loaded the trailer and with all that, randomly selected food, and firewood.

While I was running around haphazardly, Joseph was not functioning well at all.  Finally he told me that he didn't want to go.  Sadly, I accepted.  Although, I did mention to him a few times that he could still change his mind.  Miriam told us Thursday she was considering coming, but had trouble actually deciding.  Finally, Friday afternoon, she made the leap.  I arranged to pick her up after I picked up Benjamin.

With all my lack of organization, it was surprising that I was only a few minutes late getting Benjamin.  Picking up Miriam took us in the opposite direction of our trip, but it was worth it.  She rode up front with me and helped navigate.  Benjamin rode in the back with Anna.

It's a long drive, but much of it is pretty.  We stopped for dinner at Burger King in Willits (I had coupons) but their machine was down and they couldn't take credit cards.  It was probably better that way as the 30+ miles between Willits and the coast are notorious.   The good thing about them looming so evilly in our memories (and us having only some snacks in our tummies - neither too much nor too little food)  is that the trip didn't seem as bad as we feared it would be.  Not bad at all. Except it was night by then and I worried about hitting a deer.  That's the one thing I do not like about night driving.  We saw no deer until we got to the entrance of MacKerricher where two of them were grazing by the sign.  Nice!

We made a good team setting up camp in the dark.  In my favorite camp site.    Decided it was too late for a fire.  Benjamin had brought a cot that Glen used to use for me, but although I had laid on it to test it for a couple of minutes at home, I hadn't been on it 5 minutes before my back started to complain and I folded it up.  Maybe it was more than 5 minutes, was Benjamin asleep already? He used the cot the next night.

Funny thing.  A couple of years ago, I had bought myself a tent from ing direct with my 15% birthday discount.  I have yet to sleep in it.  People have gone camping without me.  I took it to SLO last month, but there wasn't room for it at the campsite.   This trip Miriam and her air mattress got it.  Bad news, Miriam!  I like the air mattress idea, will probably get one before I go camping again, and I will sleep in my tent. As Joseph mentioned when we returned, I do have 2 air mattresses, but they are double size and mostly for house guests.  (Probably would just fit in my tent, though) Although, MAYBE Benjamin would have been willing to share with me had we brought one,  I  am thinking about getting a single.

Anna liked camp right away.  She would have liked to not be tied up - so much to see and explore, but she only complained when I walked to the rest room.  Once coming back with Miriam, we encountered another camper who looked at me and said, "Your dog misses you."  I could only say, "Sorry."  But it wasn't really too bad.  She barked a little bit when she heard people moving around after we had retired to our tent, but settled quickly.

Once in the night she heard something making a purring like sound and scratching. Oh! How she wanted out of the tent!  But she was good about it.  Stayed awake listening alertly for a good while.

It was great at the coast!  Cool at night, but not cold.  Not cold at all in the morning.  I was up before 6 both mornings and it was lovely.   Saturday Anna and I went down to the beach and watched the crashing waves for awhile before the others were up.  It was not until we came back up off the beach to the logging road that I say the sign saying that dogs were not allowed on that part of the beach.  oops.  Benjamin met us coming back.  He was following our tracks and showed me how my hiking shoe tracks were different from the other shoes on that trail. 

We had a great breakfast - there were sausage, bacon, eggs.  Did the kids get the s'more stuff out then?  I had packed biscuit dough left over from something Benjamin had done before, so there was experimenting with it.  They wanted to do Woofums which David and Teresa had introduced at the sibling camp last year, but I didn't have woofum sticks or corks.  (If you don't know woofums, this fellow wrote about them on his blog.)  They did all kinds of interesting things.  Was it breakfast, lunch, dinner?  or all of the above.  It was an lazy, easy going day and all a bit blurred now.

A lovely somewhat overcast and misty day much of the day, I like it.

We all walked along the old logging road away from the dog banned beach to an unsigned one.  Enjoyed the rocks and waves.  Tide wasn't low enough for exploring tide pools, though. Miriam started playing with my camera and took some nice pictures - mostly of flora. (Maybe I will manage to get some up later.) On our way back, Anna went sniffed out something exciting.  She pounced and sniffed, dug a little,  and had a great time until I drug her away feeling sorry for her terrified little intended quarry.  After we were gone, Benjamin lifted up the log and saw a little lizard. 

We had watermelon, hot dogs and biscuit experiments for lunch.

I had to go into town to get ice for the ice chest, a toothbrush because somehow I forgot mine, and corn because I kept thinking I smelled corn and I wanted some. While I was gone, new camp neighbors came in, but didn't have a lighter.   They came over to borrow fire and walked back to camp carrying a flaming magazine (!).  The flame got too close to the woman's hand and she dropped it! Miriam yelled for her to step on it and ran over with our shovel to put it out.  Really! I am surprised my kids let her carry an open flame, but I am glad she knew to use the shovel. 

I had made foil dinners and even used Benjamin's wet paper towel trick.  But if you leave them in the fire long enough, they still will burn.  Fortunately, I had made PLENTY.  Some of the dinners were partially edible and some totally good.  Anna took care of the burnt food.  The corn came out great. 

Despite a lazy day, we were tired and turned in early.

Two not so great things about camp this time.  1) The showers were closed for repair.  2)The water looked, at best, like ice tea.   At worse, use your imagination.  Overnight brown sediment settled to the bottom of our water pot. Looked bad.  When the water was heated it stirred up looking worse than before.  It was 'ok' in oatmeal and hot cocoa.  Fortunately, we also had some good Sacramento water for the occasional drink.  Also, milk and chocolate milk. Had to use baby wipes to clean ourselves.  But we got ourselves decent, went to Sacrament Meeting, then broke camp.  It had been misty, but as soon as we finished putting the tarp on the trailer, it became sprinkly and by the time we had made our potty and dump the trash stop. it was raining.  Nice timing for us!  We didn't have to take down wet equipment.

A pleasantly, uneventful drive home.  Uneventful for us.  As I said, it had started raining.  We took the curving, hill hugging Hwy 20 to Willits slowly.  At one curve, we spotted a car completely off the road pretty much on it's side against a tree.  Of course we stopped.  The lady was fine.  She had her cell phone, had called her husband, and help was on the way.  She was warning drivers coming the other way to slow down.  Reassured, we drove on. 

It was good to see Joseph who had enjoyed having the house to himself.  I was delighted to see he was in church clothes and to learn that he had biked to church.  It is always nice to get home to your own plumbing and bed.

I took today off to unload and return the trailer, put stuff away and recoup a bit.  I did some of what I meant to do. sigh.

It was a short visit, but a good one. We all thoroughly enjoyed it.  It seemed like a good idea, and it was.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.

Michel de Montaigne French essayist (1533 - 1592)
The quote and link to other quotes by this author are, no doubt, much the best part of this post!

Hard to believe that it is September already! I keep writing August on things - trying to hold back the rapid passage of time.

Starting to worry about getting things done for Christmas. Especially as this will be an extra busy December with David's graduation. We will be going to SLO for that and then doing some kind of celebration here in Sacramento. But, that's not really my problem. My problem is big family and small budget, energy , creativity, and management skills (time and money).

I finally finished the tow package on the Cavalier. Meaning I bought the ball and had U-Haul install wiring for trailer lights. I reserved a small utility trailer for our trip to Fort Bragg next week NEXT WEEK!! It will slow us down and cost a bit, but it should make things a lot easier. Trying to decide if we should take our bikes, Anna being the drawback there.

Although, we are going to be gone such a short time, I almost wonder if we need the trailer. Friday night to Sunday is all. With the trailer, we have plenty of room for tents, cooler, firewood. Tough call, the car is a little too small, the trailer is a little too big. We will take it and see what we think about future trips.

I haven't biked with Anna since the crash. Haven't walked her much either. Cyndi has been working extra long hours at the gym - they just changed locations and had to move computer records - I don't know what all. I don't really enjoy walking Anna as I should since I haven't trained her to behave. And I feel ok about exercise since I am biking to work. Also, Tuffy is with us for about 2 weeks, I think they should play together and exercise each other. (Not that that is how it actually works out.)

I was very surprised Monday to get an e-mail from Teresa asking if we would be ok with them coming to visit starting Tuesday. What do you THINK I said?!

I have to work late on Tuesdays and Thursdays to make up time for the class I am taking. Then I stopped at the store to get milk. I was surprised not to see their car in front of our house as I thought she had mentioned an ETA of around 6. Coming in the house, I said something about that and asked Ben if he had heard from them. He said yes in a kind of funny way, but he is so strange sometimes that I thought nothing of it. We spoke briefly, then this voice says, "Hi, Mom!" David! They had arrived around 6 or so and then Teresa went on to drive her sister to Placerville.

Teresa came back and Miriam came over and naturally we all stayed up a little too late talking. Not a lot, though, I just don't have it in me.

Wednesday evening, David and Teresa went to Apple Hill with friends. Benjamin and I went to Young Men. He played Ultimate Frisbee. I sat on several Boards of Review for advancing Scouts. Court of Honor next week.

Thursday, we thought a friend was coming to visit, but something came up. That night, Benjamin and much of the Priests quorum worked at the cannery doing tomatoes until 1:30am. I drove him over there a little before their meet up time. We parked out back near the cannery door and waited (while some other ward members waiting to work razzed us a little). Then around the corner strode YM President McCord leading several other Priests looking like Captain Moroni and his stripling warriors. Ben jumped out of the car to join the ranks. I was so proud of them all.

Now it is Friday afternoon. Benjamin is off at class at City College. We have been trying to figure out what we are doing today. (The answer: not much) Joseph is working on doing something with a new hard drive that arrived yesterday. I think this will create a backup for the eMac. I am not sure what all he is up to. (even though he told me). David was playing with the Wii (I am told he played until 3ish one night). Now he is showing a talk by Ezra Taft Benson on the tv through the internet on the Wii. Teresa is on Hal. It is kind of a lazy day. I am getting my laundry done - pretty much.

Tonight we are going over to Debi’s. Everyone is bringing stuff to put together for Chinese. Ruth is bringing their game It Came To Pass.

We (barely) started working on plans for David’s Graduation Celebration. They want to do a BBQ in their landlord’s backyard in SLO graduation day. Here in Sacramento, we want to have dance party on Saturday, December 26 - hopefully in the Dover building. We have the DJ ; ) and are trying to get the building.

Teresa might not “walk” for her graduation. Disappointing and not decided yet, I think, but there are good reasons. Her walk day in June is on Sunday and she doesn’t feel comfortable with that. Feels it is too ‘me’ oriented for the Sabbath. Besides that, they have heard that it is very uncomfortable - hours in the sun in June. I think they do the June grads in a big area. Actually, they might have the big speeches in the area, then each college goes off to a different venue to “walk.” Worse, it has been known for them not to walk individuals at all - just tell the entire college graduating class to stand up and then tell them Congratulations, you graduated. How disappointing. They certainly deserve more recognition than that!

I hope she still gets herself a cap and gown. I want to take pictures of each and both of them all over Cal Poly in their caps and gowns.

We will certainly plan a Graduation Celebration for Teresa here in the spring or summer. Maybe we will have her “walk” then!!

Benjamin graduates (high school) this spring, too. I am getting old. I keep rejoicing that this is my last year for Seminary! Yippee!!! (unless - *gasp* groan* shudder* you get the idea - they call me to TEACH someday) but I keep forgetting that means Benjamin GRADUATES from high school.

Final reckoning with Horizon Charter School - oh that will be fun. And possibly good-bye to this old computer which came from them second hand at least. Old it may be, but it is something.

All my babies grown! This is going to be an adjustment. Not only am I obviously quite old, but being a mother was my life’s work. Over?! I don’t feel like I did a great job - although my children are great. And who and what am/will I be now? Wierd. Scary.