Friday, April 23, 2010

Happily Ever After

A thought for today in my email:

"Temple marriage covenants do not magically bring equality to a partnership. Those covenants commit us to a developmental process of learning and growing together—by practice. ". . . Equal partnerships are not made in heaven—they are made on earth, one choice at a time, one conversation at a time, one threshold crossing at a time. And getting there is hard work."
Bruce C. Hafen, "Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners," Ensign, Aug. 2007, 28

I can tell you that is true.  It sometimes seems that Mormons think that getting married in the temple guarantees a happily-ever-after.  The sealing covenants are, like pretty much everything else, promises with conditions.  We have to keep our part of the bargain - at least act in good faith.

My mother and husband #3 went to the temple to bolster a failing marriage.  That didn't work.  It only complicated things when they divorced and each married somebody else.

My ex and I were sealed in the temple, but sealings don't prevent or solve problems. 

I do believe in temple covenants and temple marriages.  Nothing can be more wonderful than knowing that you and your loved ones belong to each other forever.  It just takes a lot more than a ceremony performed by the proper authority, although that is necessary.   It takes truly loving each other as an unselfish active verb not just a warm feeling once in a while - a way of life, a deep personal commitment. It takes being close to the Lord.  Being honest with each other. It takes treating each other with respect and kindness.

I do believe in happily ever after and I wish it for all I love (oh, everyone else, too), but you have to work for it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Joseph uh... older today

Today, April 13, is Joseph's birthday.  (Don't tell ME that 13 is an unlucky number).

It is one of my many quirks and peculiarities that once my children become adult age, I no longer know how old they are.  I remember when they were born (or can at least work it out from one or two key dates that I never - so far- forget) and can therefore work out how old they are, but I don't just "know" their age.  My 6th child (Joseph) was born in 1986.  You know as much as I do now.  You figure it out.

Joseph is a wonderful young man.  Deceptively quiet with a great, quiet, sneaky sense of humor and dry wit.  He is my go-to tech guy. Good with animals and children.  Smart, analytical, interested in all kinds of things I do not understand.  Keenly interested in justice.  Also security, computers, and other geeky stuff, I know not what.  Lean, wiry, but strong.  He rides his bike 2 miles from home to light rail and then from light rail to work - and back again - year round in all weather.  Ok, maybe once or twice a year the weather will be so bad that I drive him (and I get to work a little late) then make him wait for me to pick him up late after work.  (If only the State would let him work to make while waiting for me in order to make up the time I lose by dropping him off.)  Joseph's co-workers esteem him highly.  So much, they chipped in to buy him a nice bicycle to replace the clunker he was pedaling to work.  And once they had a pizza party to celebrate him coming back after taking a few days on vacation.  They really like him.  I like him, too.  So does Jared. And Joseph is the only living thing his cat, Velox, likes as far as I can tell.

Joseph and I (when I finally tore free of fun with checks at work) each got off early today and met up for a little happy-birthday-Joseph trek around town.  Starkbucks gave him a chocolate-banana smoothie with extra chocolate.  Jack-in-the-Box gave him a piece of cake.  Cold Stone gave him some custom made ice cream - dark chocolate brownie.  Baskin Robbins gave him another scoop of ice cream - baseball nut - raspberry swirl and cashews.   Fun stuff!

I traded some of my life's blood (or rather plasma or is it platelets - I forget which) for another pint of Baskin Robbins ice cream - strawberry cheesecake. (Usually for a month or two during the summer, when you donate at the BloodSource, they give you a coupon for ice cream.  They call it a pint for a pint.  Actually, you only get 12 ounces of ice cream.  I don't know how much plasma (or platelets) they take either .  But they CALL it a Pint for a Pint. If you give whole blood, you do give a pint. You still only get 12 ounces of ice cream. Unless your server is generous!)

Joseph's plan was to bring all his treats home to share for a family movie and treat night.

But first, we decided to have real food.  Which is not necessarily to say healthy food.  We went to Squeeze Inn - at their new location a couple of blocks away from their old non wheelchair accessible location.  Joseph and I shared a BLT and a SqueezeBurger with famous cheese skirt.  Benjamin had a SqueezeBurger without cheese.  We shared fries.

So then we were too full to eat treats.  But the food has settled some now.  The boys have watched some Mission Impossible movie and I have done some bookkeeping.  We had family prayer and read a chapter in the Book of Mormon (the Nephites are facing their final destruction.  The Lamanites and Nephites are terribly depraved.  cheerful stuff)  It is past our bedtime.

NOW, we are having our treats.  I am trying to have only a little (as I probably should not have any)

Thank you for helping.

I blame Matt

One of my duties at work is processing revolving fund checks.  As a carry-over from my old job until T who fell and badly sprained her wrist recovers (estimated 6 weeks) or until my old position is filled and trained (no estimate), I key in the information for automated checks, find someone to print them, type up manual checks,  find someone to run all the checks through the signer, match them to their documents, record check numbers on their documents, then take them to a supervisor for review.  I'm Done.  Sounds simple. Takes hours - when things go well.  The check printer, the check signer, and the check typewriter are all touchy temperamental machines. But that was not the problem here - at least not directly.

Usually Matt runs the printer and signer.  When I have my check batches entered and proofed, I find a safe access person and sign out the checks we need.  I enter the beginning check number in the computer, creating a batch of checks, and Matt prints them.  Once, when we had some one else (A) run the printer, the printer took off running before they were ready with the checks properly loaded.  So A requested that when she prints, we not create the batch of checks until after she has the printer loaded. Breaks my stride a little by changing the pattern, but OK.  Anyway, Matt went on vacation.  It's all his fault.

Today when a gentleman came to pick up one of yesterday's checks, one of the last 3 of a batch of 20 something to be disbursed, I discovered that the pre-printed check number did not match the computer printed check number on the check.  !!!  My super was away from the office.  I consulted with her second, and her former second who is now the Cashiering super.  Universally decided that the check was unacceptable.  But this check HAD to go out this afternoon.  We decided I should type him a check manually and take care of the paper/computer work later.  (Canceling the bad check and recording the new check).  Could not find a check signer operator or even my section manager, so went to an assistant deputy director for a hand signature.  The man was happy to get his check.

However, we realized that the ENTIRE batch yesterday was mis-numbered.  The computer thinks all the checks are 20 later than the actual pre-printed checks.  HOW did this happen????!!! and What to do??

Bad news.  Apparently, how this happened was I messed up.  I must have keyed in the wrong beginning check number. (I blame the break in our usual rhythm and a certain level of stress because of rush check jobs, trying to learn a new desk, etc).  The check printer is supposed to confirm that the checks are printing correctly - mainly that the numbers match.  The check signer records which check numbers are being signed.  I confirm that I am putting the correct check with the correct document.  The reviewer, as a higher level, makes sure it is all right.  The disburser records how each check is disbursed - in person, by mail.  NO ONE noticed the error until today after most of the checks had been disbursed.

Oh, not so.  The check printer HAD noticed the numbers didn't match, THOUGHT about asking me if that was a problem, but decided not to worry - Barbara knows what she is doing.

The reviewer (not my boss as usual because she was out sick) was concerned that supporting documents listed someone's middle name as Anne (with an E) but the check omitted the E.  (Or the other way around) and that a check going to AT&T had the correct address, but the supporting document and the check listed different ROOM numbers. Non critical discrepancies.  But she did NOT notice that the checks all had TWO DIFFERENT CHECK NUMBERS on them.

Today when I discovered the problem, my boss, still sick, was at work but out of the office.  Believe me, when she returned (briefly between meetings with higher ups) and I told her about it, it did not help her to feel better.

It was determined that we should void all the physical checks with the preprinted numbers which the computer thinks have been assigned.  EXCEPT, of course, that one manual check I did on an emergency basis for the gentleman who was waiting for it.  That one is one of the forbidden numbers.  How much worse that makes things, I do not know.

Tomorrow I have to cancel all the bad check numbers and re-enter all the transactions with the pre-printed numbers.  We are crossing our fingers that all the banks involved don't look too closely and honor the checks which were disbursed with the mismatched numbers.

I am sure that 1) this would not have happened at all or 2) certainly not have gone so far if Matt had been here to print the checks.

It is all his fault.

I hope he is enjoying his vacation.

How we made our bucket planters

Eva Aurora - Sorry to take so long in answering!  Me and my time management problems!

For our upside down planters, we took an old plastic bucket and cut out a whole in the middle of the bottom.   I don’t have an appropriate saw, so we simply drilled a series of small holes to outline the circle, then whacked the center with a hammer and out it popped.  We drilled 4 holes around the top of the bucket for the cord to hang it.  The one Topsy Turvy planter that I purchase came with a slit foam insert to put around the stem of the plant and keep the plant and dirt from falling out.  I  used some an (hopefully well washed and rinsed) kitchen sponge which I cut up the middle and made a little hole for the plant.  I used clothes line cord to hang mine.  (Make sure you have a strong hook ready in place before you plant)

Carefully put the plant through the hole, the sponge around the stem inside the bucket.  Carefully protecting your baby roots - and not setting your planter down and crushing your plant! This is where the buckets are so nice.  Being rigid, you can set the edge on something or put it between 2 sawhorses.  The Topsy Turvy planter, you must awkwardly hold, unless you have an assistant - fill with potting soil.  

We planted them Friday and 4 days later they are not dead yet.  So far so good.  It would look nice, I think to plant something in the top of the bucket, but I haven’t done that yet. The Topsy Turvy planter has a plastic lid that sets on the top.  Helps reduce weeds and evaporation.  

I like my buckets better than the Topsy Turvy planter.  Easier to handle and to plant.  The Topsy Turvy lid doesn’t really want to stay nicely in place.  Also, with the buckets I can see where the water is.

Saturday, a gal in our ward (Mormon congregation) invited people to share gardening ideas and experiences.  She taught us how to make self-watering planters with 5 gallon buckets, a disposable drinking cup and a  foot and a half or couple of feet of PCP pipe.  I will try to describe them.  Two buckets will sit one inside the other.  The bottom or outside bucket is the reservoir bucket.  Drill a few small holes around the side of the reservoir bucket about an inch below where the bottom of the inner or planter bucket will sit.  This will prevent overfilling and drowning your plants and also allow aeration. The planter bucket is more interesting.  You need a large plastic drinking cup in which you will cut slits.  In the middle of the planter bucket, cut a whole to fit the drinking cup down through so it sits in the bottom of the reservoir bucket and comes up at least to the bottom of the planter bucket.  Also drill several drainage holes in the bottom of the planter.  And a hole near the side for the pcp pipe.  Cut one end of the pcp pipe so that it will NOT sit flat down in the reservoir.  Sit the planter bucket down in the reservoir bucket.  Put the drinking cup down the hole of the planter bucket and the pipe down its hole.  Put dirt in the drinking cup to wick the water up into the planter.  ( a good mix of peat and potting soil would be good – the peat will draw better).  Fill the planter bucket with soil and plant.  If you want a weed free planter, they recommend you slightly overfill the planter, cut a piece of plastic to fit (with a hole or X for your plant) and secure it around the bucket.   Fill your reservoir via the pipe and your planter should be good for several days – did they say 2 weeks?   My friend saw this on You tube, so you can no doubt get better instructions with visuals there.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Don't throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water. - Swedish proverb

Saturday, April 10

Yesterday was Furlough Friday.  It almost wasn't.  Maybe.  The union and the Governor have been fighting in the courts pretty much since furloughs began.  As March came to an end, a judge ruled that some state departments should not have been furloughed and that furloughs were to stop.  Both Joseph's department (Consumer Affairs) and mind (Parks) were on the list.  We didn't know until March 31 whether we would be furloughed on April 2.  I would have taken it off on vacation anyway, as that was my day to shop for and prepare food for General Conference - breakfast croissantwiches for my family and lunch for my family and the missionaries.  I spent all afternoon (with some help from Benjamin) making colored deviled eggs.  

Furlough Fridays end at the end of the Fiscal Year anyway.  So why waste time and money fighting it now? 

 We will miss the time!  We are not assured of getting our full pay back, either.  The word is that our wages will be cut 5% now and another 5% later (I am not sure how much later) and that another 5% will be taken out for retirement.  So we will be working full-full time, but possibly take home even less than when we were furloughed as furlough was not quite 15%.   Such a deal.  I am not sure how much we have our union to thank for this.  And of course the Governator.  

I will have you know that although the jokes about state workers must be based on something, in the offices I have worked, we do meaningful work and work hard.  

Anyway, yesterday was Furlough Friday.  

I got some strawberries for the strawberry pot I picked up at the grocery store recently.  And some tomato plants as our tomato seedlings are just not doing well.  We planted one in a Topsy Turvy planter I bought somewhere and made two more upside down planters from buckets.  So we have 3 upside down tomato plants.  I planted another couple in  right side up laundry buckets - one an Early Girl. 

Our other seedlings that we planted out a couple of weeks ago are mostly holding their own.  Most of them neither dying nor growing much.  We lost a green bean plant, but still have 4.  Some more still in the seedling cells in the house.  We lost a transplanted squash, so I replaced it from one of those still in the house.  I lost a couple of beets, but a couple in the house look like I can take them out.  A cuke, as well.   Lots of little seedlings left.  I hope they hang in there until I get to them.

Today Lynda P is having a first garden enrichment group get together.  She says they have a backyard farm, including chickens - here in our neighborhood!  I am interested to see what and how.  Lasagna garden, regular garden, raised beds, vermicompost bin (worm composting), fruit trees, grapes, rhubarb, berries, etc.  

Which reminds me of an April Fools I saw that they did years ago - Spaghetti Trees in Italy.  From Wikipedia: 
The spaghetti tree hoax is a famous 3-minute hoax report broadcast on April Fools' Day 1957 by the BBC current affairs programme Panorama. It told a tale of a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the fictitious spaghetti tree, broadcast at a time when this Italian dish was not widely eaten in the UK and some Britons were unaware spaghetti is a pasta made from wheat flour and water. Hundreds of viewers phoned into the BBC, either to say the story was not true, or wondering about it, with some even asking how to grow their own spaghetti trees. Decades later CNN called this broadcast "the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled."
Panorama cameraman Charles de Jaeger dreamed up the story after remembering how teachers at his school in Austria teased his classmates for being so stupid, if they were told spaghetti grew on trees they would believe it.
The report was produced as an April Fools' Day joke in 1957, showing a family in the canton of Ticino in southern Switzerland as they gathered a bumper spaghetti harvest after a mild winter and "virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil". Footage of a traditional "Harvest Festival" was aired along with a discussion of the breeding necessary to develop a strain to produce the perfect length. Some scenes were filmed at the (now closed) Pasta Foods factory on London Road, St Albans in Hertfordshire and at a hotel in Castiglione, Switzerland.
The report was made more believable through its voiceover by respected broadcaster Richard Dimbleby. Pasta was not an everyday food in 1950s Britain, known mainly from tinned spaghetti in tomato sauce and considered by many to be an exotic delicacy.[2]
At the time there were 7 million homes in Britain with television sets, out of a total of 15.8 million homes.[3] An estimated 8 million people watched the programme on April 1 and hundreds phoned in the following day to question the authenticity of the story or ask for more information about spaghetti cultivation and how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. The BBC reportedly told them to "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best".

The other exciting accomplishment yesterday was putting 'wood' contact paper on a laundry bucket for Benjamin's Pioneer Trek in June. Fun.  Looks pretty good. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We the People - my politcal rant

My response to a friend who wrote "We do have a corrupt government."

We certainly do have corruption in our government. Unfortunately, I think we (as a people) have the government we deserve and have chosen.  I firmly believe our government was established by inspiration and that there is much that is good. I also believe that many of our problems are because we are an uninformed, lazy electorate.  I know that I am.  We really cannot solely blame the politicians nor the media.  We put them in power and keep them in power. We should keep an eye on them.  Write to them often.  Vote in trustworthy individuals and vote out those that disappoint.  Still, I find that too many Americans like to complain and protest without accepting responsibility as citizens.

Of course being informed is much easier said than done! I find that I am so busy and so tired, it is hard to become educated. When I try to read up, it just hurts my head.  Even more, where does one find an honest fair report or evaluation?  All the ranting and screaming on both sides repulses me and does not truly inform. I get scads of political emails, but pretty much all total rants - no balance, no perspective.  One side thinks the other side is in league with the devil.  The other side thinks the first side are imps from *heck* (as Ben says). Each side claims they and only they have America's interest at heart.  I cannot stomach reading or listening to the hateful bias from either side.

Besides being too long without really saying much. Who has time or fortitude to wade through all this garbage?

Excuses, I know. 

I actually believe that many politicians do care about America and Americans and have the same ultimate goals, but disagree strongly on technique and method.  I do not truly believe that all Democrats want to turn the country socialist nor that all Republicans care only for the rich and big companies. I wish they would all stop calling each other names and voting the party line, and instead, sit down, find out what they do agree on and start from there. 

If I ruled the government:
*Laws would have to be simple and single purpose.  No mixing purposes, hiding pork, etc.  Each law would do one understandable thing.
*Our representatives would pass the parts they agree on and then work on the other parts bit by bit.
*We would have legislative review committees whose purpose is to evaluate laws already on the books and present obsolete or outdated laws for revision or repeal. (I am not worried about the you cannot dance with a chicken downtown on Tuesdays kind of laws. - I made that one up, but you know what I mean)
*Legislators would have to stay on the job.  Campaign on their own time, not when they are supposed to be doing the job we elected them to. 

Break is over.  Back to earning an honest living.