Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Staring of the Calves

Update on Husband: Sadly, I have to update here. Things seemed to be going oh, so well, until two weeks ago when Husband's blood results came back. Everything had dropped. In particular, his neutrophils had dropped so low that he was again neutropenic, which means that his immune system was pretty much non-functional. He had to go back to his low microbial diet (no raw foods) and stay away from everyone. We waited all week for his next blood test, hoping the results would be better; but, no. This week is the same.

Obviously, it's discouraging. The doctor says that it sometimes takes the particular chemotherapy he had (Cladribine) a while to work, and his blood may be up and down for a few months. Husband can work if he is on an antibiotic, and he's feeling fairly well despite his lack of hemoglobin and platelets. The problem is that he's BORED!!!


On Tuesday night, which is Taxi Mom night for me, I had to go to the church several times in order to drop off kids for various activities. The church is right across the street from a very small ranch, and there are often cows or horses in the pens beside the road or walking on the circular exerciser. The smell of manure wafts through the air on a Sunday morning.

Anyway, on Tuesday, the large pen was filled with calves. The first time I drove by, all the calves were standing alertly at attention. They were all pointing in the same direction, watching some men trim the trees that grow in the grassy margin alongside the church building. When I came back a little later, all the calves were again alertly at attention and pointing in the same direction, only this time they were looking toward the horse pens. I don't know what was so fascinating about the horse pens, but by golly! it was interesting enough to stand and watch closely.

I don't know much about calves. The closest I've ever gotten to a cow was -- okay, I have milked a cow, which is pretty dang close. But I'm not familiar with cow behavior. I just thought it was funny.

And if I had my NEW DIGITAL SLR CAMERA that Husband ordered for my birthday, I would have taken pictures of calves standing alertly at attention and posted them here for you to see. That's right! My battery-eating Kodak Easyshare is being relegated to becoming a toy for children once I have my new Canon in my hot little fists. I will also have a polarizing lens to play with. I'm so very excited!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Of Footwear and Vessles and Authenticate Increase, of Cruciferous Vegetables and Reigning Monarchs

It was my birthday on Wednesday. I turned 39. I decided to take stock of myself.

A few more wrinkles: check
Three gray hairs: check
The need to diet: check
Life satisfaction: check, check, and CHECK!

I am very happy with my life, which is a good thing to know as I speed through that last year before hitting middle age squarely in the tush. Therefore, I made some goals for me to reach before my next birthday.

  • Reach my ideal weight for health reasons (and telling myself it isn't in any way connected to my vanity, which I know to be a complete falsehood, but at least I know I'm lying to myself)
  •  Play my cello much more often
  • Hang out with my kids as much as possible
  • Take a vacation with Husband
As I was driving home from the library on Wednesday (it WAS my birthday and that IS one of my favorite places), Gabrielle asked how old I was. Then she said, "Wow! You don't look 39. You look 25."

Ah, that kid. I laughed until the tears came out of my eyes.

"No, Mom, it's true!" she protested. Then she was quiet for a moment while I continued to chuckle fondly. "Okay," she said, "You at least don't look any older than 30."

I think she's my favorite.

I got a wonderful birthday gift the day before my birthday. A friend I've know since my first area on my mission (who happens to be a follower of this blog) had a layover in The Big City during a business trip to an exotic South American country. Husband and I drove to the airport to pick him up and he treated us to lunch. It was fun to catch up.

Sian had a high school orchestra concert on Tuesday night. All the players wore their Halloween costumes, and my darling girl wore her Snow White costume I made for her last year because she looks just like Snow White. I did insist she put on more red lipstick for the "lips as red as a red, red rose" look, though.

Since my razzle grappling trashbiting camera doesn't work very well, my dad took her picture and emailed it to me. Ain't she purty?

Her chamber orchestra did very well, and the combined high school orchestra also sounded quite nice. My favorite piece was "Concerto for Three Kazoos and an Orchestra." Especially when the kazoos tuned up.

Today I have been working on editing a number of websites that were written by people whose first language is not English. That would be fine and all, since many people both speak and write English very well as a second language, but these particular writers are only shyly acquainted with our national language. They also use a thesaurus like many people use humor: indiscriminately and with blunt force. The results are often unintentionally hilarious. Who wouldn't want to read something entitled "A Favorite Pastime: Passion Ideas You Will Like"? Sadly, it was only about hobbies, however. Still, among the surprising ideas contained within was this one: "Individuals who live in a nation sometimes turn into fascinated with elevating decorative chickens, pigeons, or pheasants." Further encouraging the reader to take up raising birds as a hobby, the author noted, " can even increase some prize winners!"

See if you can spot the misuse of a thesaurus in this sentence: "Pastime bicyclists have gotten more and more widespread to see cycling alongside lesser traveled highways seeing the countryside up shut and personal."

I laugh at these, but I would never attempt to write an article in another language. I don't know enough of another language to be even a little dangerous, much less only slightly comprehensible. At least they get paid for their unintentional hilarity.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Those Salty Vacuum Manufacturers!

Yesterday, I was helping to clean up after a particularly enjoyable Super Saturday at the chapel and I went to the janitor's closet for a vacuum. I noticed an old carpet sweeper shoved into a corner, and printed on top of it in fancy factory letters was the name, "The Shagger." You can bet I did not in any way make any comments or juvenile jokes about it. At all. To anyone who might have laughed until her face turned red and I had to quit talking just to let her breathe. No. That would have been completely inappropriate.


In non-naughty vacuum news: A few weeks back, Husband went right ahead and published his own book. He wasn't getting anything but rejection notes from the various publishers and agents he's sent it to, but so many people have asked to read it that he figured it was easier to pass it around in book form than as a massive 3-ring binder. He designed a cover and had three softcover books printed by a reputable printing company he found online. It only cost about $12 per book, which is very reasonable, considering he couldn't in any way claim a mass production discount. He's using one to edit again (still finding a few mistakes!) and he got permission to read the book to his class because it isn't published and he can't be accused of promoting sales to the children in his classroom. The people who have read it so far have loved it, and not all of them are close family members! (Ha ha ha. I hope you found the humor in that last sentence.) But, seriously, most people who are reading it find that they can't put it down. One reader (a colleague of Husband's) reported reading it all day and staying up into the wee hours to finish because he just had to know what happened next. He's begging for the sequel. I'd say that's a good sign.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Slammin' Farzle Rabbit Cramulation on a STICK!

When I went, last Saturday, to Sophia's play in which she had the part of Sleeping Beauty (the younger), I found two new batteries for our crappy, battery-eating camera. I handed the camera and brand new batteries to Gabrielle as we were climbing into the car on our way to the performance and told her to carefully insert them for the purpose of taking blurry, unsatisfying pictures in a show of solidarity for Sophia. Gabrielle did insert the new batteries, but forgot to turn off the camera; by the time I went to take pictures, the batteries had been completely drained.

The only reason I refrained from saying really awful words is my sense of decorum, the fact that there were many, many children surrounding me, and my friend, M, who was sitting next to me in order to watch her daughter, who played a fairy.

I was thinking I need some good "swear" words. Sian used to say "bucket!" quite a lot, until I pointed out that it's just a little too close to another obscenity for comfort. Now she says "pickles." I don't think that can be misunderstood.

The point of uttering an obscenity is to be able to say something harsh and release emotion without having to think too much. Thinking too much about what you're saying distracts you from feeling properly angry, which is why the tried-but-true obscenities will always be popular; they're shocking, they have become unthinking habit, and they convey the desired attitude of disgust or anger or surprise. For the very practiced, they also substitute for other words of more descriptive substance, which is when a person starts to sound very ignorant. It's a short and slippery slope from an occasional utterance to lethargic reliance.

I've often used the word "expletive," but I've always loved the grace and elegance of Booth Tarkington's put-upon father, Mr. Little, in Tarkington's book, The Fighting Littles. Mr. Little was expert in swearing without actually saying anything offensive. "Job jab the dob dab bastinadoed Hellespont!" Husband and I frequently shout "Black enameled bath plug!," but that's only when we want to make each other laugh by using a phrase Husband grew up hearing from his father. More often, I say "crap," which is a truly awful thing to hear echoed from the mouth of your cherub three year old. I gotta quit that.

What word(s) do you use, if you don't desire to truly offend with the normal list of obscenities? I am very interested to know. Please comment on that.

And, by the way, M took many pictures of Sophia for me on her camera, which she said she will email to me. When she does, I'll post them here so you can see my sweet Sleeping Beauty (the younger).

What's That Smell? Oh, it's Just My Blog Post.

I've been plowing through Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. All 1066 pages of it. I'm down to the last few pages, and all I can say is wow! that woman had a brilliant mind!

You thought you were going to get a book review, didn't you? Not this time. You're welcome. I like to keep my readers pleasantly surprised, at least once in a while. I won't review that book unless someone really wants me to.


(Cricket chirps. Wolf howls in the distance.)


So here is where I share some random thoughts that have been floating through my head.

Random thoughts (in no particular order):

I have to compose a version of Silent Night involving two violins, a cello, a piano, and possibly a flute. It has to be done soon so we can practice for a Christmas performance. No stress. Nope, no stress whatsoever.

Pure science and pure religion are one and the same.

I never, ever will get over pie. I love pie. I must accept this and quit fighting it.

Why is it that the smells of autumn remind me so much of new beginnings? Sure, I know it's all about the start of a new school year that's so ingrained in me, but just the wafting scent of old leaves makes me want to jump with excitement.

Go to bed already, you idiot! (that wasn't random at all.)

Y'all know I write this blog for myself, don't you? It's the only way I can explain why I write what I do. I've always written my journals as if I was writing to someone -- some fuzzy idea of a future descendant who would be reading about me from a dusty, faded notebook. This isn't exactly as revealing as my journal, of course, but I like knowing you're out there, whether I know you or not.

I'm going to bed before I really stink up this post even worse than I have.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I tried out for a one of those very rare alto solo parts in the choir (alto solos are rare in any choir, really). I told myself to do it because it's not one of those things I want to regret for the rest of my life. I've become a lot more bold in my "old" age, realizing that life should be lived and not feared.

I didn't get the part, but when I found out the results, I was pleased that the only pang of disappointment I felt was the selfish disappointment that I don't have a wonderful natural singing voice without having to put in any effort. I wasn't jealous of the two who did get the parts because, frankly, I would have made the same choices, were I director. My voice was inferior to both of theirs.

My kids, thinking I would feel badly, kept telling me I have a wonderful voice. I wonder if all this "everyone is equally great" crap they teach in schools makes them worried that I will think less of myself for not getting a solo. I told them that I know that I didn't have the best audition and I didn't have the pipes for it, but at least I tried. I know I have a good voice for a choir. I blend well, I have pretty good pitch, I am good at sight-reading, and I love the challenge of the music our director chooses. I love singing in that choir. When I have made it a priority to spend the time and money on getting voice lessons and improving the sound and quality of my voice, I'll try again for a solo. Until then, I still enjoy singing in the choir, at home, in the car, in the shower, and even in my head.

In other news, Husband is itchy. He had a terrific drug reaction to one of the three antibiotics he was taking, so the other day we spent hours at the Huntsman clinic making sure the rash he developed all over wasn't dangerous. His doctor gave him the Best Rash of the Day award and sent us to the dermatologist, who validated the award and told us it wasn't anything to be worried about since the blood results indicated the liver hasn't been damaged. The rash is disappearing, but the itching is driving him crazy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stink Bugs Make for Excellent Distractions

A note: Today's Blog of Note on Blogger is this one:

I suggest you take a look. I laughed particularly heartily at the post entitled "Just the one, Mrs. Wembley?," but I'm not going to give you the link to it just so you have to read a bit. This is how I wish I sounded, but since I'm not a British comedian, I have totally missed the mark.

Yesterday, during Relief Society, I was sitting at the front with M, S, and A (the other members of the presidency), when S spotted a crawly thing on the floor and pointed excitedly. I narrowed my eyes and saw it was a huge black stink bug, so I turned around, grabbed a tissue, and whisked the offensive insect from the floor. Not about to crush it (ew!), I took it quietly outside and set it loose in the grass. When I got back in the room and sat down, some horrible juvenile impulse caused me to catch M's eye and make a gesture like I was eating the stink bug out of the tissue, which was still in my hand. I even made a little crunching sound, tiny enough to only be heard by her. She nearly snorted out loud and then spent about five minutes trying to control the kind of helpless laughter you only suffer from when you should be grown up and sitting quietly and attentively listening to a very solemn and spiritual lesson about repentance. It made things worse that we were in full view of all the rest of the women and I couldn't help but laugh at her laughing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why the Old Testament is a Good Read

Today was my first day in a while that I was able to attend all my church meetings, including the after-church meeting for the Relief Society Presidency. Plus visits to various women in our ward. Some people complain about one hour at church. I spent six there today.

And, oh, what a feast it was.

I was thinking during the last lesson, which was on repentance, how so many people have read the Old Testament and completely misunderstood the nature of God. When a person reads the Old Testament (which, yes, can be a bit of a slog at times during the "begats" and listings of various specific layout dimensions for the Temple of Solomon and the sometimes obscure laws of the Law of Moses) and comes out thinking that God is vengeful, spiteful, and violent, he or she has not read deeply enough. In fact, just the opposite is true.

A person who thinks God is unnecessarily harsh has never read with wonder the words of Isaiah as he talked about the coming Savior (who was the Jehovah of the Old Testament). Isaiah loved Jehovah to the point of poetry, and even if what he says takes some deciphering, once it is deciphered, you cannot come out at the other end of the Book of Isaiah without -- at the very least -- a profound respect for the personage who would come to save the world because of his unimaginably great love for us.

A person who rails against God's punishments has missed the fact that Heavenly Father promised Amos (Amos 3:7) the He, God, would do nothing "but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." Therefore, we as people are always warned or enlightened through a prophet on the earth who receives guidance and direction for the whole world from Jesus Christ. Nothing happened to the ancient Israelites and other peoples without years and years of warning. And if, as it states in the Bible, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He still warns us through a prophet. Are we any less loved and important to the Father of us all than the people of ancient scripture?

Most importantly, a person who despises God has never had a personal relationship with Him. Through prayer and quiet ponderings, I have learned that Heavenly Father carries a love for me so deep and unutterably exquisite that I absolutely know my life, though a tiny little speck in relation to the vastness of the cosmos, is important to Him. My needs, my desires, my struggles and triumphs -- He asks me to tell Him every day and then guides me through his Holy Spirit. I feel joy underlying all my ups and downs through mortal life. I love my Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ, and when I read the Old Testament, I understand how much they love all of us.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Need Your Opinion as Long as It's the Correct Opinion

Update on Husband: I think this might be my last update for a while. Things are looking very, very good. Today, we went into The Big City for a doctor's follow-up visit, and learned that his blood counts are improving. His platelets leaped up by 30,000, though his hemoglobin remained the same and his white blood cell count actually dropped. The reason it dropped is because we finished the shots of Neupogen, which were inspiring his bone marrow to produce white blood cells far faster than it would have if left to its own devices. Now that the bone marrow is on its own, it will begin finding that natural balance again. The count is still high enough that the doctor told Husband to quit taking the two antibiotics he's been on.



I was wearing one of my favorite necklaces today. I love necklaces. I could probably spend thousands of dollars on necklaces. I don't wear watches, bracelets, or earrings (my ears aren't pierced. I know! What century do I live in??), but I loves me a great necklace. I prefer necklaces that are shorter, as I don't find the long dangly kind all that flattering on me. Shorter necklaces draw the eyes up.

Anyway, while we were sitting in the lobby, waiting for Husband's doctor appointment, Husband jokingly told me that my necklace looked like someone had slashed my throat and I was bleeding silver blood.

I ask you this: should I have hit him right there in full view of various cancer patients or is he right? Personally, I like wearing the necklace because it's sparkly. I'm like a monkey or a raccoon that way.

[Author's Note: Husband was joking, honestly. I feel I need to point that out just so no one thinks he's some kind of jerk. He tells me every day that he thinks I'm beautiful and how lucky he is to be married to me. Poor, sweet, deluded man.]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sleeping Beauty Never Had to Put Up With Chocolate That Tastes Like Wax

Update on Husband: Big news today! Husband has an immune system! He's got enough white blood cells to fight off most stuff and he can eat raw foods again. The raw foods thing won't really affect his diet all that much, as he wasn't actually craving a salad or an orange. He's not into popping edamame like peanuts, either. Still, this means I can relax my vigilant recipe scouring for anything not cooked enough.

The kids have delighted in giving him hugs at long last. Little Gary got to snuggle up while his daddy read Chikka Chikka Boom Boom to him this morning.

I gave Husband his last Neupogen shot today. Dang! I was just starting to get good at those.


I have to say it: American chocolate is awful -- at least the stuff you buy in the grocery store. I know there are a couple American chocolate companies that are producing a quality product on par with Europe, but it ain't Hersheys. Eating a Hershey's Special Dark bar is like eating a chocolate-flavored candle. Even when I slather it in peanut butter I can't get over the feeling that I could stick a wick in it and light it on fire. That's probably for the best, however, as I certainly don't need any extra empty calories. I packed on five or six pounds of stress over the last few weeks, and I'll need all my superpowers to overcome and lose them.

To that end, I went on a walk after the kids left for school. It's been a while, but I have been craving the exercise. I even ran a bit, although I practiced landing on the balls of my feet and not my heels in order to reduce the impact on my knees and back. Still, I'm ouchy this afternoon, sore and stiff. Good. Bring it on.

Last night, I took Sophia, Elannah, and Joseph to auditions for the play "Sleeping Beauty." It's not a professional play with a big production; the rehearsals only last a week and there are two performances on Saturday. I was surprised Joseph wanted to try out, but he gamely stood with the other 70 or so kids and spoke up when it was his turn. He had to run over to me for a few kisses of assurance at first, but as time dragged on and on, he started running over to me with complaints about his hungry tummy. Finally, the hunger grew too great and he decided to go home and get something to eat, unconcerned by then that he would not be in the play. Sophia and Elannah, however, stuck it out. Sophia landed the lead role as Sleeping Beauty, but Elannah did not receive a part. Like the last time this sort of thing happened, there was both elation and tears.  Sophia quietly pointed out to Elannah that Elannah's last play had been a much grander production, spanning several months of intense rehearsal. I told Elannah that tears of disappointment were okay, but there would be no jealousy or whining, just as I had told Sophia months before. Fortunately, Elannah is happily philosophical today. Sophia is ecstatic.

On a completely different note, someone left the garage freezer door wide open all night and probably most of yesterday. Everything in there was completely defrosted by the time Husband noticed this morning, so I had to scramble to pull out all the meat and get it cooked. I still have about 10 pounds of organic ground beef to fry up, but I picked the wrong day to stand around cooking for hours on end (see above about my sore legs). I have done the bulk of it, but the rest will have to wait until tomorrow. I've also cleaned up the blood on the garage floor, in the freezer, and the drips on the kitchen floor. It's enough to make me vegetarian.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm So Stuffed I Could Pop

Update on Husband: You get the guy out of the hospital and the hospital gets out of the guy. Or...wait. I'm not sure that's a real saying since I just made it up. What I mean is this: Take an ailing Husband home and within a couple days his color is coming back and he's got an appetite for home cookin'!

That's right! Blood levels are looking good, with an uptick in platelets and an increase in red blood cells. I am giving him daily injections of Neupogen, which is an extremely expensive drug that stimulates the production of white blood cells. It's all in the wrist. The injections that is, not the growth of white blood cells.

Around the house, Husband wears a mask and we have to keep Lysol wipes in strategic places to make sure things are wiped down and sterile. In our bedroom and in his office, he is the only one who is allowed to go in (besides me, of course). The kids can't hug him yet. A couple more weeks and his immune system will be strong enough for all these precautions to be set aside, which will be nice. Every day he feels stronger!


I was taking the boys to the libry when Sian called for a ride. She had been playing with the Chamber Strings on a float during the high school Homecoming parade (HOW?? I don't know. Playing a stringed instrument on a rocking flatbed trailer has got to be tricky.), and as I had just pulled up to the intersection outside her school, I was there in 30 seconds.

She got in the car and said, "I'll make dinner tonight. I just decided."

Well! Never looking a gift horse in the mouth, I happily accepted.

"Let's get home, then," she said.

I told her I had been on my way to take the boys to the library, a place where she could easily spend hours and hours (like her mother, of course), but she seemed agitated about it. Odd. But we went nevertheless, and I had her watch the littlest boy play with the toys while I tracked down Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and one of those old crafting books from the '80s that so plentifully populate the shelves in the mid 700s. I thought the girls could get some inspiration for a project or two.

Joseph decided on an armful of Dr. Seuss books, Sian ran after Little Gary repeatedly, and I got us checked out.

When we pulled up at home, there were people waiting on the front porch. Sian seemed not at all surprised. In fact, she nodded knowingly and hauled Little Gary off down the street and around the corner, her sisters and Joseph in tow. The people on my front porch were three angels bearing gifts: a homemade dinner for two, complete with yellow rose in vase and candles with matches, and a BLUEBERRY Marie Callendar's pie (someone's been reading my blog!). The kids were taken care of for a couple hours so Husband and I could enjoy a Friday night date. Then I understood that Sian had been in the know and trying to get me home.

Now, a lot of people have done a lot of lovely things for us (for which I can't express enough appreciation), but I was never so surprised. What a perfectly beautiful gesture that was. Although Husband couldn't eat the lettuce or the dressing in the Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa Salad with Creamy Tomatillo Dressing (he is on a reduced microbial diet, meaning he can't eat anything that isn't fully cooked), both of us happily munched away. When the kids came home, we let them have some pie.

Thank you, Linnea, Denise, Denise's husband, and Bro. and Sis. B. for putting that together. Husband and I appreciated the time alone to just enjoy our delicious meal and unwind a bit.