Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Purple Cow

I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one.
But I can tell you anyhow
I would rather see than be one.            Gelette Burgess

I have seen a purple cow and I loved her.

When I was young, maybe 8? I got a purple cow for Christmas.  I think from Santa.  A lovely stuffed purple cow.  My siblings and I really enjoyed Violet.  We used our Hi-Ho Cherry O game ( buckets to milk her.  She was an amazing cow. Each of her pink teats produced a different drink.  Milk, of course.  Chocolate milk. (are you surprised?)  some kind of juice maybe orange, I think. and strawberry milk or maybe apple juice.

I love stuffed animals (and real animals) and have had many.  Through all of life’s moves and changes, I kept my purple cow. 

Until one dark day.

Those of you who know me know that I struggle with time, money, and organization management.  I was never a really great house keeper, or even a really good one.  Then I had 8 children.  Not bad children at all, but children.  And most all of us were pack rats.  Some of them have overcome that now so that if you know them you may not believe me, but they were.   And I have struggled with (mild) depression much of my life.  What I didn’t realize until I got divorced was how much my marriage contributed to my depression.  As a result of all this, my house was quite cluttered and messy.

Anyway, David would be coming home from his mission soon.  I wanted to make home a little bit nicer to come to.  I decided to try to get rid of some of the clutter.   We had LOTS of stuffed animals and a charity truck was coming for donations.  I put aside a few of the nicest stuffed animals that I thought the children liked and filled two garbage bags with the rest. 

Including Violet.  It still makes me cry.  What was I thinking??  I think I was punishing myself for being such a lousy homemaker, mother, person, you name it.  Looking back I have found other times in my life when I have done something like that to hurt myself, to punish myself for being me.  This one still hurts. A surprising amount.

I put the bags out for the truck and the kids and I headed out on some errands.   I told them what I had done and they all protested that I should have kept the purple cow.  I said that if the bags were still there when we got home, I would save her.  But Violet was gone forever. 

I cannot even think that she was adopted by another little girl.  She was too old and worn to make it to the sales floor.   I killed an old, dear friend when I put her in that bag and took it out to the street.  I am pretty sure there are animals in heaven. I rather wish that there will be stuffed animals, too, but somehow I doubt it.

I have cried many a tear over my purple cow. I only wish that I felt such sincere regret over actual sins I have committed as over giving up that silly stuffed animal.  Siblings have nearly cried about Violet.

Once Benjamin drew me a purple cow. She is on my computer at home.

This Christmas Debi gave me a purple cow she sewed herself.  She is not the cow of my childhood, soft and rounded.  She is the cow Debi remembers, flat, but still cute.  No pink teats.  Those were long gone before Debi knew her.

I can tell you one thing.  I am not ever giving up this purple cow.  She carries a lot of love.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


“Everybody” talks about remembering the reason for the season.  A little easier said than done, it sometimes seems.  Here’s what I did, besides expressing gratitude in my daily prayers for Christ, for his love and sacrifice, for the Atonement, and the Resurrection  and trying (with more or less success) to always remember Him.

For me a special part of Christmas is Christmas Eve when we set aside all the things of the world and the hustle and bustle of getting presents, etc ready to truly remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior.  A time of reverent, joyous reflection. 

At least, that is my vision of it. 

As my family has grown up and expanded, I have lost some control of this whole thing (if I ever really had any) and we have had some Christmas Eve suppers that weren’t quite what I hoped for.  We had our traditional fruit, cheese and homemade bread – vaguely reminiscent of what Mary and Joseph might have had (but modern Americanized).  We even read the Christmas Story – but I had a feeling that it was in the spirit of “let’s get this over with for Mom”.  Then it was on to games, movies, and general fun family rowdiness.  Nothing bad, but not reverent, quiet and reflective.  And also, we often stayed up too late as my family tends to when we get together which really doesn’t work well for me.

This year, my daughter-in-law Teresa who shares my vision, and I decided to ‘get back’ Christmas Eve.  We invited everyone to our house.  We figured that if people wanted to play afterwards, they could go to Ruth & Tom’s when they took the children home to bed.  We planned a little program – the usual stuff  - reading Luke 2 and singing songs.  We planned a couple of Nativity oriented crafts for the kids.  It was a little bit like herding cats, but not too much and I think it went pretty well.

Christmas Day was full of fun and family (and a bit of last last minute gift finishing and wrapping.  We remember that Christmas is to celebrate Christ’s birth, but more on this day, we celebrate being a family and the good things in life that Christ has made possible for us.

Sunday after church, Benjamin and I drove to the Oakland Temple Visitor’s Center to see the Reflections of Christ exhibit which was just finishing its two month run.  Beautiful.  I could try to describe it, but would not do it justice.  You might enjoy the website more.  And or this Reflections of Christ slide show

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Presents

Wonderful, stressful, whirlwind, peaceful, - it is so many things.  And now it is over for another year – except for taking down decorations (maybe New Year’s weekend?) and the “keep Christmas with you” part, which is the best part anyway.

No matter how much we agree that Christmas is not about presents, let’s face it, presents are a part of Christmas and if a mother doesn’t give presents to her children, it just seems wrong – especially to her, but doubtless to them, too.  This year, as usual, I had my time and money management problems,  procrastination and then added a few minor complications.  My presents were meager, but my children are kind and they received well.  For each of my girls, a necklace which I commissioned Debi to make – similar but not matching.  She did a good job choosing for each of them.  Except for Naomi who is too young for jewelry.  She got a stuffed puppy.  I crocheted each of my guys a camouflage scarf.  Ben had discovered the yarn when we were out once doing errands including getting yarn for Naomi’s blanket.  There were three different camouflage yards when we were there.  He told me which one was for him, Andrew, and Joseph.  I paired each of the younger brothers with one of the older brothers to make matching scarves.  Jared got one, too. That was yet another camouflage yarn picked up later.   I also gave the ladies trivets woven by Rwandan women – a gift for them that helps women in need.  And each of my children got a Preparedness notebook with all kinds of helps for preparing for emergencies.  I think that’s it.  So exciting.

My children are better givers than I.  They have a gift exchange – each gives a homemade gift and a store-bought (or homemade or mix) gift.  Their creativity and thoughtfulness amazes me.  I don’t enter the exchange because 1) I feel the need to give each of them a gift, however small, and 2) whoever had me as the giver would be gypped.  

I won’t remember all the wonderful and clever gifts, but here’s a good sampling.  I think I can remember most of the homemade gifts – they are the best.   Benjamin’s homemade gift was to Sariah – his cookie of the month calendar with family member’s pictures on their birthdays.  He gave her a jar of cookie ingredients which is featured on one of the months, but living hundreds of miles away, she will not get fresh baked cookies each month.  Sariah’s gift to Miriam was the Family Heritage Recipe Collection – in notebook for Miriam and with CDs for each of us (!).  David gave Ruth etched ornaments/magnets.  Tom made Debi a CD of music from the year she was born.  Miriam made pillows for Acadia. Joseph made chocolate dipped pretzels for Tom and has promised me a dipping session with almonds.    : )

They also gift me.  : )   I received a Nativity ornament, a Thomas Kincaid daily calendar, pictures of granddaughters, neck pet (what do they call those things?) which I can warm for muscle relief  (already used it and it feels great) or cool,  family recipes going as far back as my mother’s father’s mother’s mother (got that?), a crocheted scarf, early gift – book shelves for my Reader’s Digest Condensed Books (decades worth), a catalog of my Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, a framed photo of the Sacramento Temple with little pictures around it some of which I took, a purple cow (there’s a story).  I’ll tell you later.

We all enjoyed giving and receiving our presents (no matter how much we stressed over getting them ready).  But even more, we enjoyed each other’s presence – even though for a few that was by phone.  We will continue to enjoy both presents and presence through the coming years.  I am blessed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not Exactly As Planned

I was looking forward to a Flash Mob Hallelujah Sing-Along.  I was not alone.  Not by thousands. 

Monday David, Teresa & Benjamin left home about 4:30 to pick up Joseph from work, than meet me at Alhambra & T where I had bicycled from work.  David’s planning was good.  I only got there a few minutes before the car arrived.  We loaded up my bike and crowded into the car for the drive through rush hour and holiday traffic to the Roseville Galleria. (Why do they call it ‘rush hour’ when rapid movement is impossible?)

We thought we got there in pretty good time, but after more than half an hour driving around looking for a parking lot, we began to worry.  At last we parked and scurried through Macy’s into mall.  Along with ever increasing numbers of other, equally intense, purposefully striding, excited other people. We knew we had arrived when the crowds of people made movement almost impossible.  After a bit, it began to occur to us (and many others) that the mall had not been built for masses of people standing around on the second floor.  David and Teresa moved off to try to find a vantage to look around at the packed crowd.  The boys and I started to follow them but got separated and swept up in a current that arrived at the escalator.  So, we went down.  We didn’t feel any safer because if the terrace collapsed, it would come down on us, but we weren’t really worried.  We were excitedly waiting for the Flash to begin.

About 20 minutes before the event was to occur, we began hearing the Roseville Fire Department announcing that the Galleria was closed and that we were all to leave.  Disappointing!  But understandable.  Not to everyone; some people booed.  We moved out through Penney’s the nearest anchor store and walked around to our car where we met up with David and Teresa.  The parking lot was gridlocked – and more cars were backed up on the freeway wanting to come in.  We stood outside the car and sang Christmas songs for an hour or so.We came to sing and sing we did. 

We saw a helicopter circling on another side of the building.  What we didn’t know was that some of the flash mob had gathered in a courtyard on the other side of the Galleria and sang the Hallelujah chorus.  Wish we could have been there!  or that the mob had sung as we excited.  Or that someone had started it out in the parking lot.  I think there were so many people that we could have had  pretty good surround sound!

We all felt badly for the Galleria.  We had meant for this to be a positive thing,  Instead they got closed down hours early.  (Except for the big anchors with outside entries)

Our car was finally free from gridlock enough to join the slowly moving line exiting the parking lot and we were on our way. We decided to wend our way through the Fabulous Forties “on the way home” and enjoy the lovely Christmas lights.  Then through the little, humbler, but festive neighborhood off T street.  Lovely.

By the time we got home the lunar eclipse was beginning.  We looked a little, had family scriptures, looked again. David and Teresa stayed out for the show.   I got ready for bed and had a last peak at the nearly covered moon.  Good night, Moon.

“Where’s the Line to See Jesus?” a touching song inquires.

“Where’s the Line to See Jesus?” a touching song inquires. 
 A sweet reminder of the reason for the holiday.  Which is very good.  But in counterpoint I say I have been in lines to see Jesus. 

A week ago Benjamin and I drove up to Vancouver WA to visit Sariah and enjoy their Stake’s annual Festival of Nativities.  This festival is held every year Thursday through Sunday.  We went Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening.  Both times we found not only hundreds of beautiful, interesting, and unique Nativities, we found hundreds of people “in line to see Jesus.” 

Last Sunday we went to Miriam’s Stake’s Nativity display.  I am not sure if it was Sunday only or all weekend.  Again, hundreds of lovely and diverse Nativities (and a camel collection) and many, many people. 

Yes, the malls are full of shoppers and there are plenty of people in line to see Santa.  Many of them are the same people who stood in line to see Jesus and who strive to keep Him in their hearts. 

More importantly, although we had to get in line to see the beautiful representations and reminders of the birth of Christ, we never have to stand in line to come unto Him or to feel His love.   Jesus Christ, Lord, Savior and Friend always has His arms open to us whenever we turn to Him.  He loves each of us forever and always.  Wherever and whenever we come unto Him, He is there to welcome us -  no line.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Songs

Last night, Friday, was the High Priest Christmas Party - potluck
dinner, Joy To The World video & white elephant exchange. Pleasant.
The boys & I took a couple of VHS movies that were duplicates (not of
each other, silly! Of others we have) and got a small Christmoose
decoration which we have no idea what to do with. Save it for another
White Elephant exchange? Give it to DI? David & Teresa took some
coconut body lotion & got a box full of books from the 60s - I think
all church books. Pretty good really except they have nowhere to put
them. In addition to the books originally in the box, they ended up
with more white elephant books people had gotten, didn't want, & pit
in DT's box. : D

Good news. I did labs recently and my bad chlorestrol is well under
control! My blood sugars were mildly high, but the doctor is not
changing my meds at this time. A few months ago they were threatening
to put me on insulin (shots). It seems my bike riding is doing some
good. :D

Teresa & David took some cute little Christmas stockings she crocheted
to a community event on Del Paso Blvd & sold A few. : )

David, Teresa, Benjamin and i were Christmas carolers at Fairytale
Town with Sister Eva Kim, a couple of 10 year olds & 3 14 year olds.
We had fun despite it being a rainy evening The kids were great kids.
You would have enjoyed it. It would have been even better if we could
have sung about Christ, but it eas fun singing fun songs. And we did
sing "Silent Night" once. We got free hot chocolate. : ). It was
amazing to see how much the little kids liked the singing. Now days
children seldom actually see real live people singing.

Because we were doing this small community service, I was unable to go
to the temple with my good friends Carlos & Debbie, but thinking of
them put another song in my heart.

You have heard of Flash Mobs? Suddenly without warning a group of
people show up in some public place & do something. Lately we keep
hearing about Flash Mobs singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. So cool!
We are going to be in one! I learned this evening that the Sacramento
Choral Society is planning a "random act of musical kindness" singing
the Hallelujah Chorus at the Roseville Galeris food court Monday the
20th. At 7:30 pm. They want 100s of people to come participate. I
hope we can get there on time!

Handel's Messiah is truly inspired music. I was just thinking today
that if I were to be only allowed to listen to one musical work the
rest of my life I would choose Handel's Messiah and if I could only
have one piece it would probably be The Hallelujah Chorus.

Sent from my iPod touch

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Same Names or What Are The Odds?

I have 8 children and 3 children-in-law:  Sariah, Ryan, David, Teresa, Miriam, Ruth, Tom, Deborah, Joseph, Andrew, Benjamin. 

My work unit has 8 people besides me: Jalpa, Natalya, Joseph, Mary, Rachael, Theresa, Matthew, Ruth.

One set of 11, another random set of 8 -  4 match/near matches.
It seems unusual to me that such small name pools have so much similarity

Monday, November 29, 2010

Two day work week, five day weekend. That’s more like it!

I took Wednesday off for preparation time, of course had Thanksgiving off and state workers still get the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Sweet!

Esther and Jared came over Wednesday while their parents and some of my other kids went to see Harry Potter.  They did a little bit of art.  We (Esther, Jared, Joseph, Anna & I) went out to the parkway, played Frisbee, and (they, but not Anna) climbed trees.  Esther, Jared & David played Wii.  We had fun.  The movie goers had fun, too. I also roasted turkey number 1, went shopping, and tried to get a few (very few) other things done.

Thanksgiving morning turkey, Benjamin and I went over to Ruth’s around 8 to start the (second) turkey cooking and help Ruth & Tom (especially Benjamin) with last minute preparations.  Others started coming over a bit after noon – bringing tasty bounty with them.  All my kids, except Andrew who is on his mission.  Five fun grandkids – cousins are so cute together!  Sariah’s in-laws. Lots of tasty food. It was a lovely traditional Thanksgiving dinner and very pleasant day.

Then came Forced Family Fun Friday (mostly planned by Debi, I think.  Good job, planner(s)!).  David and Teresa were off to her family’s traditional chocolate dipping, but the rest of us got together for family activities.  The grown-ups gained a new respect for Esther and Aurora and their teammates’ endurance in our family soccer game.  I mostly was on the sidelines with Naomi, Anna, and Sariah’s camcorder.  Unfortunately, I did go in briefly as a goalie – and let two goals get past me.  Lunch was turkey, rolls, coleslaw and chips.  Then stew went into the slow cooker for dinner.   After I took Anna and Joseph home, I joined the others in a letter-boxing expedition discovering the California First Public Library Series.  A nice walk through a lovely neighborhood.  I think I heard plans being made to read to the kids the books we found stamps representing: “The Black Stallion”, “Lad, a Story of a Dog”, “Smokey”, “Bob, Son of Battle” and “Misty” – all books I, like the letter-boxer, read in my youth.  After dinner (Joseph back with us) we played a great all-family sketch and guess the word game.  Much laughter and some incredible guessing skills.

Saturday was a chores and catch up day for us while Rosers hit the road back to Washington. 

Best quote Sunday .. to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.” Thomas S. Monson, October 2010 General Conference.

This long (but not long enough, of course) weekend was a bit of heaven.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Say You

Benjamin is in the process of applying for the highest award Boy Scouts of America can bestow upon a youth member – the rank of Eagle.  He has worked for several years and if he is approved he will have earned a nationally recognized achievement that he will be proud of all his life.  Additionally, the rank of Eagle Scout will open many doors for him while at the same time placing upon him the expectation to set an example of high values and ethics.  It is awesome to be an Eagle.

Soon he will be called before the Eagle Scout Board of Review, a group of citizens of the Golden Empire Council, BSA to determine if he is worthy to be an Eagle Scout.  If you personally know Benjamin, I hope you will help the board as they make their decision by writing a letter of recommendation.

I apologize for being so late with this request.  We were so caught up in so many things, that this slipped our minds completely.  It would be best if we could have the letters as soon as possible - by the end of the month for him to turn in with his application.  The absolute deadline for the application is November 30 - before he turns 18 on the first.  He is hoping to turn it in Sunday the 28th.  Since the letters are actually for the Board of Review which will be scheduled after his application is accepted, late letters would still be appreciated.

Eagle Requirement # 2 is “Demonstrate that you live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law in your daily life.”  Please give your opinion.  Does Benjamin live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law?  Can you give some examples?

Scout Oath – “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

Scout Law – A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.

I would appreciate if you took the time to write what you think about Benjamin as a potential Eagle.  Tell how you know him / what your relationship to him is.

He is not supposed to see the letters before the Board of Review.  It is up to you if you want him to see your letter afterward.  You can send me the letter and let me know if he can see it later.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dreams Can Be Risky

This summer I had the opportunity to apply for a “dream job”  - still working for State Parks and living in one of my favorite places.  As I weighed my options, practical matters won out and I stayed where I am. 

A few months later, my well-loved and respected supervisor announced that she was retiring from Parks to pursue a dream of moving to Wyoming. Almost made me wish that I had made the leap to Mendocino County!

time goes by…

My dream of living on the coast deferred meant the stability of staying in my home of 30+ years.  Finances are always a concern, becoming more so now, but they would have been VERY challenging had I moved.  As it is, I have been able to help children in need that I could not have if I had made the change.

Sometimes dreams conflict and choices must be made.  When we are living a dream we sometimes fail to recognize it. In my case, the bigger dreams are being close to my children as much as possible and striving for financial stability. 

My super left California to pursue one dream for herself and daughter, but it didn’t work out.  We don’t hear from her, but the word is that her aged parents needed her and she came back to California.  Rumor is that she tried to come back here to Parks, but (Alas!!!) it was too late and the hiring process had begun on her replacement.  

So, what about dreams?  When do you follow and when do you play it safe?  It is good to have dreams, but dreams must be balanced with reality.  Risk assessment.  And, as I said, we would do well to recognize the dreams we are already living. 

Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I have ow-ies.

Minor ow-ies, thankfully.

Biking to work on garbage day on T street.   I tried to go around the curb side of a recycling can instead of going out into the street.  There was not quite enough room.  I clipped the can, bounced off it into curb and went down.  No major injuries.  My right elbow and forearm are scraped up and I have aches developing here and there.  Could be worse, glad it's not!

I am grateful I didn't go down the other way into the street in traffic.  Grateful that although battered, neither my bike nor I are greatly damaged.  Grateful for the bit of grass that took part of my fall.  Grateful I was wearing light gloves which protected my hands. Grateful for the little old Asian lady who asked if I was OK.

So far, the weather has been pretty favorable for us bicycling commuters.  What rain we have gotten thus far has been at night or on weekends.  I know the day is coming when I am going to have to face biking in the rain - I have a Costco rainsuit - need to something about my feet, I think- and leaving my poor bike to sit out in it all day.  I sure wish I had one of those bicycle lockers!!  I might talk to a gal I know who has one.  Maybe she would let me use it for the winter?  I think she hardly uses it.  I think I could bike in rain, especially light rain. Mix in the wind and I think I will light rail. Joseph bikes 2miles - light rails - bikes 2 miles year round. What a guy!

(I also wish I could put my arm rest down.  My arm keeps getting blood on it. And repeated contact and wiping my arm with disinfectant is slowing the natural sealing off process.  aww, poor me)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

San Simeon Weekend

An on-line work conversation led to an offer to comp me a campsite and Hearst Castle tickets.  It’s great working for State Parks for many reasons!

I managed to get a little lost on the way Thursday and arrived at camp tired, discouraged and a little grumpy with poor Benjamin and Anna as my prisoners.  Fortunately, David and Teresa in their car already knew the way and got there an hour ahead of us.  They checked in and the ranger gave us a great site!  in probably the best site in San Simeon State Park – best for us at least.  

 Roasting hot dogs over a campfire helped restore my spirits, although there was more of a nip in the air than I had anticipated.  We had family prayer, scriptures, and reading club by phone with Joseph.

Anna enjoyed camping, but she thinks she would have enjoyed it more if I had let her run out to explore the interesting things she heard and smelled.  She spent much of Thursday night bouncing around the tent.  Around 2am, she actually managed to get out the back.  Benjamin and I scrambled for our shoes calling her name, but by the time I opened the front flap, she was there and we got her back in.  Smelling funny.  as in not good and not the way she smelled when she left.  Not full on skunk, thank goodness!  I don’t know what it was, but it was definitely something.  Later in the night we heard coyotes yipping.  She whined to join them, not believing me when I told her they would most likely eat her.  Friday night was less rowdy except for barking at other dogs barking in other camps and a little whining for the wild life.

Friday morning we took the Hearst Castle Tour 1. What an amazing place!  A bit much for my personal taste, but breathtaking.  There are several tours which each show different parts of the castle (although I think they all begin and end at the same places).  I strongly suspect that even if you took all the tours, you would not see all the castle.

Here you see the Enchanted Hill from the Visitor's Center.

It's a 5 mile bus ride from the Visitor's Center to the castle along the same road the Hearst and his guests used.   People would train in to San Luis Obispo or fly to Hearst's own landing strip not far from the Visitor's Center and be driven up by limo.

Oh, great.  I am out of storage space for photos.  I didn't even know I had Picsasa, but apparently that is where my photos go when I put them on the blog. ?  must learn more .  kater ,   when I have time.  (ha)

Meanwhile you can see more and better pictures of Hearst Castle here:  Hearst enjoyed collecting art, building this place to showcase it, and sharing the art, the place, and good times. 

Julia Morgan was architect for both Asilomar and Hearst Castle. Each has its own style and beauty.  My personal preference runs towards Asilomar.

We spent most of the day at Hearst Castle and Visitor's Center - tour in the morning, movie and visitor's center in the afternoon. 

Later, I made a post office run with a missionary Christmas package, followed by a visit to the Elephant Seal Boardwalk.  Then Benjamin, Anna and I enjoyed the beach at sunset. 

Saturday morning we all, David, Teresa, Benjamin, Anna and I, spent some time on the beach again.  Then lunch and a game of  Phase 10 before heading home.  

We had a lovely weekend.  Joseph enjoyed quiet time having the house to himself and working on cleaning and organizing his room - trying to refind Andrew's space which he had taken over.  (Before Benjamin finds the space for him!) 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pictures from Asilomar

My room - I had the bed by the window
Deer Lodge - I was in the upstairs room you see

Looking out my window. 

The Boardwalk - looking from the road by the beach towards the conference grounds

20-25 deer live at Asilomar

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Long and Short

It's been a long time away from family. Eased by nightly telephone conference for prayer & scriptures. And by learning Internet access is not as limited as I had been told. For instance, Asilomar does not have Internet in its guest rooms, but the Mott Training Center has the Internet which reaches to our lodge & my roommate told me the password. Love Facebook!

It has been a long time away from my own home, my own bed, & my own shower. But it has been a short time away from all the responsibility. It has been a short time having someone come make up the bed with fresh sheets everyday!

It has been a short time living amongst the pines by the sea with black-tailed deer for neighbors.

It has been a very SHORT time away from the stress of my office.

Tomorrow we check out before class begins. I do not look forward to packing up and returning my key. Class all morning and then it's over. I haven't decided whether to stay for lunch or not. It has been a short time not worrying about shopping, cooking, or dishes. I have planned all along to take my own sweet time before leaving the coast. I probably will as this is so rate an opportunity, but I feel the pull of home.

Tomorrow I will trade in the sound of the ocean through my open window for my ocean cd I at at night. But tomorrow I will trade in my nightly telephone text hugs for real ones.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Refuge By The Sea

Asilomar means "refuge by the sea". It is,indeed, a peCeful & beautiful place.

This week I am in training, taking "Introduction to State Parks" at the Mott Training Center at Asilomar Conference Grounds and State Beach in Pacific Grove near Monterey. It is beautiful. The weather has been perfect. The surf wild, beautiful & dangerous.

It is wonderful to take these classes in this remarkable place - and enjoy a respite from the stress at work. And get paid for it!

The classes are interesting & informative. I have learned many things! Including about the laws which give Parks it's authority & some of the legal questions & challenges Parks faces. We have learned Parks history and philosophy. Department organization. Somethings about various programs within the department.

Parks people really do believe in Parks' mission: " provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state's extraordinary biological diversity, protecting it's most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. My classmates are from all over the state & many parts of the department They all care about Parks and what it stands for.

Today I was surprised to learn - among other things - how Off-Highway Vehicle Parks help the environment. Yesterday's stunner was the danger of drowning and how hard the Department's Aquatic Safety Program - our Ranger Lifeguards - work to save lives.

We are really sad that Prop 21 failed. Today our director Ruth Coleman has a video conference with all Parks employees. She tells it like it is, but she doesn't quit. She reminded us that the vote was not onthe VALUE of Parks, just on how to fund them. We are in to hard times, but we will strive to be true to our mission. We will go on looking for creative ways to manage. We will also look to all the Prop 21 supporters for help.

I know that time this week at Asilomar is solace to my soul. Living the mission.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Too Many

When I was a girl, my mother sent me in to make her bed telling me to report to her how many times I went back and forth around the bed to get it right. I was clueless.  I thought she was testing how WELL I made the bed.  Oh! I was so careful!  Smoothing each piece to perfection then going around to the other side to do the same.  I don’t remember how many trips around the bed I made.  It sure looked good when I was done.  I confidently reported back.  She made no comment about how good the bed looked, but she scolded me for inefficiently going back and forth so many times instead of smoothing the sheet and several blankets on one side before going to do the other. 

Sometimes not much changes in life. 

We have to submit a contribution report to our supervisor each month reporting how many of each form we process, phone calls we field, etc.  In today’s staff meeting, we were scolded for sending and receiving too many emails – answering questions about the status of something or how to submit a claim, etc.  Without being asked what kind of emails we were sending and receiving we were told we must not be answering questions effectively to have so many emails. 

It would help if we knew what they were looking for.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Workplace Woes

By mid Monday morning it had already been a long week and it hasn't gotten a whole lot better.  Additionally, we are having to adjust our mindset to a full 5 day work week after having Furlough Fridays for so long.  Once we had gotten over the money shock, we became addicted to the time.  sigh.  We don't know how we come out financially on the new program.  Our retirement contribution will be increased and we will have one unpaid leave day a month, we are far from getting back a full paycheck, but it should be a little more than it was with 3 furloughs.

The good news/bad news is that with the budget finally passed, we can do our regular work.  Of course, we have a nearly 4 month back-log and people wanting the checks they have had to wait so long for NOW.  Being busy is good.  Being behind and badgered not so good.

New supe lacks people skills, supervisory skills, team skills, and leadership skills.  She does occasionally bring in bagels or muffins. And calls us 'dear' and 'friend.'  She has told at least 2 of my co-workers that she doesn't like their attitude, which I do not think from my observations was justified.  People are disgruntled, anxious, and edgy.  I haven't had it too bad except not being given time to give platelets and being told I might be denied my family reunion vacation time this spring!!!  Battles to be fought later  - after I let things settle and consider my strategies.

Today I am required to attend a meeting that begins 15 minutes before my work time.  We, however, are not allowed to adjust our schedule coming in early/late to meet personal needs. 

When I went out to my bike - a little later than I wished, as usual -  I found the back tire nearly flat. I fumbled with pumping it up - wondering if it would completely flat out mid-commute - gave up and made a dash for the Light Rail.  We pay parking now.  It took me a few minutes to figure out how. The good news is I had found my mis-placed novel "We'll Always Have Parrots" by Donna Andrews - good author - humor mystery - and I actually got a seat on the train.  So, it was a pleasant ride in.

Now, time for that meeting.

I hope your woes are no worse than mine and that you have a good day!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Family Home Haunting

Last night for Family Home Evening we came together with paper, pens, scissors and scriptures.  The assignment? Make a ghost and write a scripture on it about ghost or spirit.   We ended up with several ghosts, including Casper The Friendly Ghost, a skeleton, a very small tree and a lot of giggling.  Several ghosts were hung from the blades of the ceiling fan.  We learned that even on low, the fan was a bit too fast for them.

 I am not sure how spiritual it was, but we had fun.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday or Busy Day Special or Supper

I am having leftover Busy Day Special (formerly Tuesday Night Special) (or is it Supper?) for lunch which Teresa made for dinner last night.

It started out as Tuesday Night Special.  Long ago, the kids and I went around the neighborhood every Tuesday afternoon collecting old newspapers and cans that the neighbors saved for us.  We would try to get to the recycling center before it closed that evening.  We were earning money for our Marine World /Africa USA memberships.  Back when there was a Marine World / Africa USA and they had memberships.  Back before the city started recycling. 

Before we left, I would brown up some ground beef, add uncooked rice, water, tomatoes and either green beans or corn, some taco seasoning and leave it on low.  When we got back, I would add cheese on top and dinner was ready.

The kids and I worked hard, earned our annual memberships and went to Marine World often. Good times!

I miss Marine World / Africa USA.  To me it was a hint of paradise on earth.  I loved seeing the animals and how the trainers interacted with them.  I felt safe and peaceful there.  Although I have been accused of being over protective and was somewhat protective there, at Marine World, especially during the off-season, I felt comfortable letting the children sometimes go their own way with regular check in times and places.  I think we learned a bit about relationships as we learned how the trainers taught the animals. It was a wonderful place.

It broke my heart a little when Marine World / Africa USA became Six Flags Marine World.  While not my thing, amusement parks are alright in their place, but I don't think it is good for amusement rides to be in such close proximity to the animals.   I imagine that the animals are under a lot of stress now.  It just makes me sad.  I am also sad that my younger children didn't get to grow up with Marine World as a regular part of our life.

Nothing has replaced Marine World in our lives. If only we lived closer to Sea World that would help. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The spirit of the times

I have ghosts all around in my cubicle, each with a scripture about the Holy Ghost or the Spirit.

They are having a door decorating contest.
This entrance to my office

Sideways view of the side view

Sideways view of the other side.  I emailed these from my cell phone and I don't know how to turn them.  I also do not know why they are different sizes.

This is the door of my office going out

I hope you are in good spirits! 

Benjamin's Eagle Project - The Effie Yeaw Nature Center Amphitheater - Ta da!

In which I show you many several pictures of the finished product. I am so proud of the job Benjamin did and grateful for the support he received.

Approaching on the little trail from the front of the Nature Center.  (A more accessible trail can be accessed going around the building the other way.)  To your left a deer (not people) fence crossing.

The (more accessible) trail comes around from the back of the Nature Center continues behind the deck and on to hiking trails.

Nice touches - raised railing for easy clean-off and the rocks lining the back of the deck.

A little bit of clean up.

The deck is flush with the ground at one end.

The access trail behind the Nature Center.

A lovely end to a lovely and productive day.

Feeling good about a job well done.