Saturday, August 16, 2014

Terminal Trouble But I Got My Hug

         What a day!  Picking up my missionary proved to be a more of an adventure than expected.
          This a spoiler, but in case you don't read the whole story, I must warn you.  Check and DOUBLE check your missionary's itinerary. Don't just make sure you have read the information you were given correctly, but make sure that the information is current at the time of travel.  Contact Missionary Travel and confirm your missonary's flight itinerary.
         The sequences and timing may not be exactly right - things were crazy.
          The mission office forwarded Benjamin's itinerary to me the end of June.  I was so excited to get it and I made sure all my children had it, too.  Korean Airlines to Los Angeles, then American Airlines to Sacramento arriving at 2pm.  I checked the flight status repeatedly. Everything was good.
          We (my sons, Joseph and Andrew, and I) went to the airport, parked in economy parking, took the shuttle in, and were settled in to waiting by 1:30.  American Airlines Terminal B. Soon most of his siblings and I were waiting at the point beyond which only ticket people could go.  Watching eagerly as tram after tram arrived and emptied.  We checked the flight board.  On time.  We were sure he would be one of the last ones off - after helping others and waiting nicely, but still.....
         Then we heard a PA "Would the Robarts family please join their party at Terminal A information"  What?! Terminal A??!   Has Benjamin been waiting for us all this time at Terminal A?  How did we get different Terminals?!  So we dashed through the airport.  Up and down escalators, stairs, and elevators, through a parking garage, over  a sky way,  and breathlessly arrived at the Information Desk.  Where there was no Elder Robarts.  Someone asked who paged us. The information lady pointed - we thought at my ex-husband.  Why was he here at Terminal A when he was going to meet Benjamin, too?  Who cares? !  Now we were sure that Benjamin would finally arrive at Terminal B, but we would not be there.
         So, we dashed back!  Now, the fleet of foot hurried ahead of the pregnant sister and the old, slow mother.  I told them to hurry and to hug him!   One son went down to the baggage area to Scout around.  We got back to the nearly deserted tram stop, started down the escalator to the baggage area.  Halfway down one sister got a message from the brother that Benjamin was definitely NOT at baggage and neither was his luggage.  She and my grandchildren (her nieces and nephew) turned around and ran up the escalator.  I knew that was too much for me.  My pregnant daughter and I continued down.   I didn't see that the kids made it to the top of the escalator, but my daughter had to quit and ride back down, too.  (Don't worry there were at least one aunt and uncle at the top)
We scattered to different ways back up - another escalator, an elevator. We had people all over Terminal B.
         It was a little like The Amazing Race. Only less organized.
         Word came that Dad, my ex, had an itinerary a few weeks newer than mine which said Delta airlines Terminal A.  That flight was delayed.
          Well, my flight had come without Benjamin and his flight had not come yet.  His email was newer.  Drat!  I hate it when he's right and I'm wrong!  My daughter got through to Missionary Travel and confirmed that Elder Robarts' travel plans had been changed.  Then I realized.  Missionary Travel never had emailed me even though I had talked to them a few weeks before and made sure they had my email.  I had gotten mine from the mission office.  The mission office would not have cared about an update to the flight after the one they put the missionaries on.  Their job was done.  And they probably assumed that either I or Missionary Travel or both would have been more on top of things.
          The good news was that while the American flight was on time, the Delta flight was quite late and we had plenty of time to  go back up and down and over and through to Terminal A.
           A few minutes waiting and talking and then THERE HE WAS! coming down the escalator.   I think I yelled.  I know that we flew into each other's arms and that was one wonderful, long hug.
          Lots of hugs and pictures.  After politely waiting for family, Benjamin's very good friends Ben and Ahn and Ahn's little siblings (whom he loves) greeted him. So sweet!
           It's a good thing I had told the Stake Executive Secretary that a 4pm release appointment  was too quick to be sure we would be there on time.  Surprisingly after all that we were a bit early for the 4:30.  The whole family was there, but the Stake President only wanted Elder Robarts.
           The rest of the evening was sharing food and every body talking at once and the kids wanting to play with Uncle Benjamin and watching the video my son had taken as we ran through the airport back and forth. 
         He's home!  And pretty happy to be here, but not as happy as I am.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Never good enough.

     Do other people have this problem?  I am never good enough.  I never do enough.  For instance.  Last night on the way home,  I stopped at Wendys (those Frosty tags!)  I saw a man sitting outside.  Not by the door, not bothering anyone, not looking too mangy, but looking homeless or something.  I bought a Jr hamburger for me, value fries for the 3 of us, and got 6 free Frosties.  Then I added another Jr hamburger and another Frosty (which I think they charged me for because I forgot to show them that I was carrying 8 tags).  I asked the man if he was waiting for someone and he said yes.  I asked if he was hungry and he said, “Yes, I am.”  So I gave him one burger and one Frosty.  He told me that he had a bicycle accident and got a concussion. He was in the hospital for something like 17 days.  No one knew where he was, so his landlord evicted him. (Joseph said that does not sound legal and I think he is right) He had a bag with things donated by some church. He was grateful that it’s summer and not raining.  I expressed sympathy, but I left.  Joseph asked me if I had gotten any contact information but I didn’t think of it.  
      So, good points – I gave him a little food and kind words.  Bad points – nothing more to help him.  And it wasn’t much food. Not quite good enough.  What should I have done?  I am not sure.  I really don’t think I am up to bringing strangers home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Brown (or Gold, if you prefer) is the New Green

       California is experiencing a drought.  I know it is serious, but I am rather amazed at how little it is affecting the daily life of most people.  Worries me a little. We do not take it seriously because it doesn't look like the drought on Westerns or like the great Dust Bowl.  (yet?)  With modern infrastructure, we city folk live a little too removed from nature and very well provided for - until it is REALLY, REALLY bad. 
       It is affecting daily life in The Patch - by choice. We are trying hard to conserve water and to be water conscious. 
     We have not watered the front "lawn"  (or weed patch we refer to as lawn) in so long that it is now straw.  We overlooked our poor camellia bush in the middle of that lawn which looks dead now.  We need to decide whether to attempt to revive it (which frankly does not look hopeful)  or remove the poor thing. 
     We have minimally watered our little apple tree and our orange trees, the oranges better than the poor little apple.  
     When we wash dishes, we re-use the rinse water.  Sometimes repeatedly.  When we are done with dishes, we often wash veggies in it.  Then we either put it in the bathroom bucket or water a plant. 
     We capture water warming up for showers and use it to flush the toilet. 
      Where I used to take nice long showers, followed by a soak in the tub if I had time, I now get wet, turn off the water, lather, rinse, turn off the water, use conditioner and shave, rinse.  Then I give myself a couple of inches of water with Skin-So-Soft instead of a tub full and splash it on me instead of soaking. Honestly, the water doesn't even reach the back of the tub before I turn it off.  It's the soak in the tub that feels like the biggest sacrifice right now.
      I think we are doing pretty well in our conservation efforts and I am pleased to say that Sacramento leads the state in reduced water use.  Surprisingly, some of our southern cities who want water from us northerners at the best of times, have increased their usage!! Shame on them!
        I am certainly grateful for the water we have and hope thar our voluntary efforts help - and that the situation does not get worse.
       Pray for rain. 


Temple Theater

Bit of background information:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than 100 operating temples around the world. Visitors are welcome to visit the temple grounds at all of these temples and attend open houses prior to dedication. However, only baptized members who are qualified and prepared are allowed to enter a temple after it is dedicated.

In temples, Church members participate in ordinances designed to unite their families together forever and help them return to God. In the temple, members:
  • Learn eternal truths.
  • Receive sacred ordinances, including those that bind husband and wife together for eternity, as well as join children and parents (Malachi 4:5-6).
  • Provide ordinances such as baptism for those who have died without the opportunity to
  • receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:29; 1 Peter 4:6)
One of the tools for learning is a film. (Except in a couple of very old temples, like Salt Lake, that still use live actors.  I must say that I am glad that I first learned from a film because it was easier to hear and understand, but I hope that the Salt Lake Temple always uses live actors. It is another special experience.) 

The church has added a 3rd new temple film to the mix.  I look forward to seeing it! 

LDS Living Magazine :
 “ A year after the LDS Church began using a new film for temple instruction for the first time in 20 years, and six months after introducing a second, a third new film is in rotation.
“The latest film presentation began showing Tuesday in 30 of the 143 operating temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a church spokesman confirmed.
“The new film is only in English for now. Like the others, its use will expand to other temples around the world over time and as translations are prepared.
“The script in each of the films is the same. The films are shown in a rotation to provide variety to temple instruction.”

Adds a little zest to temple attendance. J  There are things I particularly favor in each of the 2 currently in use.  It will be fun to see what’s different in this one.  There are advantages to modern life .

The script is the same.  It is interesting to see the different tone and feeling that can be given to the same words.  The difference in personalities even though they say the same thing.  In the case of Lucifer, it reminds me that he will present himself to us in any number of different ways to throw us off guard or appeal to our particular nature, but he is still the same and up to no good no matter what face he puts on. 

         I read on LDS Living a list of temples showing the new film.  Sacramento was not on the list. Yet.  Sigh.  All 14 of the Utah temples have it and a scattering of others – like Fresno and, I think LA.  Not sure how many because the leader said 30 temples but the list header said 27.   I didn’t count them.

             I went to the temple Thursday, as usual.   It was new film #2.  I call it the Aspen Forest one.   I am telling you I like the lone and dreary world!  Better than heaven which is paved with gold. (Does that make me a sinner?)   Not that I have anything against gold, but basically that’s all there is.  And a nice view of earth.  New film #1 I think of as Utah canyons.  I have no idea where the canyons really are, but there is a lot of barren rock.  Impressive, but much more lone and dreary.  Even by the sweat of their brow, don’t know how they are going to get food there.  

            I will be back many times and I will enjoy the films and their variety as well as be enlightened and uplifted by unchanging, eternal truths. 

           If you do not have a temple recommend, make it a goal  The Lord has a gift for you, but you must prepare to receive it. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Don't wait for Disneyland

         Don't wait for Disneyland. 
         Disneyland bills itself as "The Happiest Place on Earth".  It is a lot of fun and there is definitely magic there.  But it shouldn't be the happiest place on earth. That should be home. 
        Home is where the heart is.  Where one feels welcome and safe. Where your favorite people are glad to see you.  A place of learning, laughter, songs, prayer, and companionable quiet.
        The happiest place on earth should be wherever you are with your family.  Shopping in Costco on a busy Saturday, I saw a father pushing the cart along the crowded aisles laughing and joking with his children as he had them help look for the items they needed. 
       Disneyland can be a great family vacation.  But it can be very expensive.  Don't wait until you can afford a super vacation to have fun with your family.  Be goofy at home.  Take walks together.  Play in the park.  Explore your neighborhood. Go to free or inexpensive community events.  Play games. Work together - chatting as you work.  Share yourselves with each other.
        My daughter took me to Disney World for a week.  I had a WONDERFUL time.  I want to go again.  But besides the attractions and the rides, the joy was that my daughter wanted to share it with me.  The magic was that cast members treated me - and everyone - like they were so glad to see me / them.  We can create that magic in our homes. 


   My parents were only 17 when I was born.  Their marriage did not last.  I did not see my birth father again until after I had a child of my own.  During my childhood there were two more men my mother married, who adopted me, divorced, and moved on without looking back. She married a fourth time after I was married, so he didn't adopt me. We never developed a deep relationship.
     I did a little better in providing a father for my children.  We were sealed in the temple and all my children were sired by the same man.  He provided for us enough that I could stay home with the children, but we always had to scrimp, while he did not.  He didn't just send his family to church; we all went.  He served well and faithfully in many church callings, too.  But whether or he loved us as best he could, it was not enough.  None of us are perfect, I know.  But he didn't love his wife and children as we should have been loved, provide for us as well as he could, preside in the home, or treat us with courtesy. 
      Partly because of the disappointments of the fathers in my life, in contrast I greatly admire and appreciate the men who are true  fathers.  Most of all, I am grateful that my grandchildren have good fathers. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ava's baptism

     This morning I attended the baptism of one of our Primary girls who had recently turned 8.  Time taken away from always too-full Saturday.  This was a Stake youth baptism.  In our Stake, baptisms for all the children who have turned 8 are held on the 2nd Saturday.  Everyone meets together in the chapel for opening song, prayer, talk on baptism and perhaps a musical number.  Then one by one, each ward is dismissed to the Primary/font room for the baptism ordinance.  Baptism complete, the ward leaves the Primary room to another assigned room to wait while the baptizer and baptized change into dry clothes.  While waiting, they might listen to music or watch a video.  When all are together again, there is a talk about the Holy Ghost, the ordinance of confirmation, and welcome by a member of the Bishopric and then by a member of the Primary presidency.  Song, prayer, done.  Today 8 youth from 3 wards were baptized.  We went first, maybe because we had only one baptism and would be quickest.  Completely done in an hour. Time well invested.

     The meeting was very nice.  Nice talks.  The music touched me.

The opening song "When I am Baptized" is one of my favorites.

"I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain
And ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again.
I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again. 
"I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away,
And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.
I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again. "
Then children singing "I Stand All Amazed" - another favorite
"I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
"Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me! 
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!"
      That was all lovely.  But when the Priesthood holder, dressed in white, stepped into the water and reached his hand to help young Ava, also dressed in white, step down, I began to cry.  Filled to overflow with a witness of the spirit. So happy for this beautiful, young girl to be making this major step in her life.  So grateful that the Priesthood has been restored on the earth and saving ordinances given to us.  The spirit witnesses to me that this is truth and life.  
     Nearly everyone there was damp of eye.   After the closing prayer, Ava, brimming with tears and smiles, hugged pretty much everyone who had come to her baptism.  She clearly "received the Holy Ghost" as invited and felt his witness and Heavenly Father's love.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Should Have Stayed Home In Bed

     2014.03.19  Wednesday 0815 
     One hour of overtime like slogging through mud.  Received a query – forwarded by my boss – “why hasn’t my claim been paid”? No sign of the claim anywhere – not in action queues, not in approver’s queues, not in archives, not as paid or as returned, not in draft.  I cannot find it anywhere in my electronic search or in our paper files of completed claims or stacks of claims waiting to be done. 
     Next, a claim where the employee used a non-contracted non-approved car rental company.  Claims he got a discount, but it looks more expensive than our contracted company.  Same person training either for or from Fish and Wildlife – no authorization or certificate of completion.  Same person - he is charging Parks for tips he paid on not fully documented but expensive shuttle rides. I cannot reimburse the shuttle ride without out a receipt – what he gave us was a schedule. And Parks does not pay tips.  Employees who pay tips can claim it out of their incidentals not charge it as transportation costs.  Three claims from that one person – none of them actionable at the moment. This person may not be my pick for employee of the month.  
    It’s been a long day already and now my regular workday begins.  Let’s hope it gets better.  Bound to, don’t you think?
    0937 Not yet.  Everything I pick up has some kind of unusual problem.  I try to get as much information as I can, run into a dead-end, try another angle and hit another roadblock.  Finally consult a co-worker (Amar, the only one) or Boss to the 2nd Power (all other bosses are out of office at some training thing –giving training, I think).  Amar and Kathryn both stymied.  We all retreat in different directions to look up more information or another person who might know something or finally set it aside to await some miraculous brainwave.  Then I pick up the next item.  Another unique problem I cannot readily understand or resolve.   I think I should have stayed home today.  Possibly stayed in bed.  Aaaah! Sounds so good.
   1030 But wait!  There’s more.  It just keeps coming. In January I scheduled some Travel Reimbursements including one to Larry which, as it turns out, was mysterious $40 too much.  No supporting documentation for the $40 although I reference a Travel Expense Claim we now cannot find.  (I only hope that it actually got scheduled correctly in another schedule).  Tried to contact Larry to either return the check when it arrived or to reimburse Parks the $40.  I have no direct contact information for him, so I was contacting his approver.  I know his approver reached out to him, but I have gotten no word back. Then the Controller’s Office sends me notice that the check they sent out was undeliverable and what do I want them to do – I can give them a corrected address or something else or they can return the funds.  Aha! Yes! Return the funds and we will request a check for the correct amount when we get a good address. Easy fix, right?  So my boss and I think.   I contact the approver and use the e-address he used for Larry and ask both of them for an address update.  Nothing yet. In the meantime, after consulting with my super, I reverse the entries for his (incorrect) reimbursement.   Today I am on the error file. It took half an hour of research to figure out what the error was related to and then I learned that I should not have reversed the entries because that is done by GL (General Ledger) when they get the abatement from SCO (Controllers) (that makes sense, why didn’t I think of that?).  So I had to reverse the reversal to correct the incorrect correction so GL can correct it later.  Got that?
     All the way to morning break without really accomplishing anything except dealing with strange problems most of which without resolution yet. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

That's Lame

    Today my knee has been really bothering me.  Usually when I put on my brace it feels ok, but not today. Fortunately, it likes biking better than walking.
     Biking home all seemed fine until at still about 4 miles out or so, suddenly the pedals didn't want to go forward.  The nice thing is that as soon as I dismounted and started looking at my bike, another bicyclist showed up to see if I was OK.  I could back-pedal and then it would forward pedal again, so I sent him on. But! it turned out I could only forward pedal a little before I had to back pedal again.  Sometimes I could not even forward pedal half a rotation.  But I could move.  It was that way all the way home, back and forthing sort of like those hand chargers you squeeze and release and squeeze and release. Sometimes I could get several rotations in and begin to hope, when it would stop again. I stopped another time to see if I could see anything wrong and right away a couple of joggers stopped to help.  We find anything.  I told them it wasn't far anyway, and sent them on.  Distance is relative, but I was sure glad my problem wasn't worse.  I could sort of pedal and the bicycle moved along faster than people walking - probably not all that much slower than my usual pace although it felt that way.  I was only a bit over 20 minutes late.  Joseph looked at the bike and can't figure it out either.  We think it's a shop problem.  Now I get to figure out when I can find time to take it in and how to pay for it. 
    I am grateful that the weather is nice.  Nice people stopped to help.  And I made it home.  Also, I have the option of driving to light rail and getting to work by transit.  I am quite blessed even if I do think Sylvia (the bike) going lame is inconvenient.  I am also glad that "Sylvia" doesn't feel pain.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Midnight Miracle and lessons learned

I went on two trips I had never before even dreamed of - each with and as a gift from a (different) special and wonderful person who loves me.  But definitely one of my most significant experiences in 2013 involved a lost dog.

I shared it in testimony meeting and most of you already know about the Midnight Miracle as you suffered through it with me via my blog or in person, but to me it was a really big thing and I contemplate it again and again.

In short my boys found a lost dog which we took in.  We could not find her home and she did not fit in our home.  In fact, she, our other dog, and we were all very, very unhappy.  The dogs wanted to fight and we could not find a safe way to keep them apart without one of them being in total isolation. 

Finally after trying everything we could, we resigned ourselves to sending her to the pound. 

Diamond Cut Loyalty Canine Rescue & Pit Bull Rehabilitation up in Portland,OR (donate if you can) tried to help us in our plight. On that last fateful day their gal was on the phone all day even after the dog had been surrendered.  She talked with every contact she had in our area and others.   Miraculously one of her cat rescue contacts was talking to a friend who was temporarily dogless.  Hearing about the dog we called Miss Jane Pitman, he hurried to the shelter and rescued her just at closing time. 

She and his family are a perfect fit and they love each other. Miss Jane is now Midnight and one happy lucky dog. Mello Mel and I are now FB friends.  I rejoice at the miracle whenever I think of it. 

 lessons - We had to suffer, work, pray, and do all that we could do.  When we thought we had run out of all hope, the miracle happened.  If the Lord will work a miracle for a homeless dog, what does He have in store for His faithful children? We have to do what we can, pray, exercise our faith, and we may suffer, but through it all keep faith the Lord knows you, He knows your problem, and He has blessings in store for you - probably more than you even thought possible.