Monday, November 9, 2009

The post, Heroes, is by my son, Quin. This post is a response to an essay question for a scholarship he is applying for.

I would have to agree with Quin. These women are definitely my heroes.


When I was a boy, I lived for Saturday mornings.  I’d wait all week for that glorious morning where for hours I could sit uninterrupted.  Just me and a bowl full of highly condensed pieces of sugar drowning in cool milk.  I would sit enthralled as I watched the bravery of Batman.  I was stunned by the selflessness of Spiderman.  I watched the X-men work together to battle evil and help the world.  These were my heroes.  I dreamed of one day wielding a light saber in defense of truth and virtue, of having super powers that I used for the good of mankind, fighting the evil villains who I despised.  I wanted to fight the good fight and be on the front lines. But changes have occurred in my life.  I’d rather eat a healthful breakfast and catch a little football on Saturday mornings before running off to work or campus to study for an upcoming test.  Now instead of preparing to wear a cape and roam the streets at night, I’m preparing to be a father and to provide for my family. 

My fears and enemies are not dressed in creative costumes planning world domination.  Now the two things I fear are not being able to support my future family and physical illness.  Since my cartoons days until now, I have seen the reality and the destructive wake that cancer brings to individuals and families.  The story of James “Rhio” O’Connor is inspiring to me because I can relate to it.  In my mind he is a hero and an example of courage and bravery.  I love and respect James because he reminds me of my personal heroes.   All four of my grandparents have had cancer.  Both Grandfathers had skin cancer which was scary but the cancer was removed and they haven’t had any lasting effects.
During my teenage years, I watched my grandmother, Mary Staker, fight breast cancer.  I rejoiced with my family as she overcame this.  It was frightening and very hard for me to see her in so much pain.  Our joy was short lived as the cancer returned to her bones.  She took this cancer head on, continuing to fight even though doctors told her that this would take her life.  She decided not to go with chemotherapy because of how sick it made her.  She wanted to enjoy the time she had left with her loved ones.  She came to many of my basketball games, went on a church history tour, went to six flags and even though she was in a wheel chair she rode every ride.  She continued to show her miniature horse.  She was never happier in her life and never busier.  She decided to make the most of everyday and not let pain stop her from enjoying the time she had left.  She passed away just after I graduated from High School.  She never complained!  She taught me to endure and to do it happily. 

                  (Me and Grandma "S" at my high school graduation, about 7 weeks before she died)

A year later I found myself six months into a two year service mission for my church.  I was living in Virginia when I was informed over the phone that my other Grandma, Maxine Campbell, had ovarian cancer.  She was told she had less than a year to live.  I was crushed and feared I wouldn’t see her again in this life.  I’m happy to report that 3 years later she still continues to fight.   I am amazed at her attitude and astounded by the amount of research she has done to fight this deadly disease.  Along with chemotherapy and radiation, she does many things such as drinking certain kinds of water, eating different foods, exercising and combating cancer mentally as well. 
I went and visited her this summer.  Witnessing her fight against cancer first hand has changed my life.  It made me realize that it is not a matter of having problems in your life, you will have them.  What matters are your efforts in combating life’s problems.  I enjoyed every minute with her, except when I had a breakfast shake made from pure vegetables.   

            (Grandma "C" hiking at a family reunion in July 08, about a year after her diagnosis.)

The reality that one day I will have to fight cancer is very real to me and can be daunting.  Not smoking or drinking, eating healthful foods, and wearing sun screen are some of the things that I am doing to prevent cancer.
Upon my grandmother’s recommendation, I read two books this past summer, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne and Anti-Cancer; a New Way of Life, by David Servan-Schreiber. I hope and pray I never have to battle cancer.  But if I do, I feel it an imperative duty to my dear Grandmothers to do nothing less than my best, to use all available resources and come up with a plan to combat my form of cancer.  I have learned from the examples of James, Mary, and Maxine, that the most important thing in our personal struggles is the will to live and the courage to fight.  Vince Lombardi said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”  Because of the examples in my life, I to can be a hero as I face the challenges that life brings my way. 

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fish Food

I have this strange fascination/ horror with the ocean.  If I could be any animal, I would be a dolphin or a killer whale, yet on the other hand, my worst nightmare is to be lost at sea. My ancestors came over on a boat and very thankful I am to them.  All I’m saying is that if I weren’t born here, I wouldn’t be here.   Have you read all those Reader’s Digest stories about people bobbing up and down in the ocean holding onto a slivers of wood, sharks nibbling their toes, skin blistered and bleeding from the sun, or worse, dealing with the cold and sloshing around like ice cubes in a crazy carbonated glass of Coke watching boats pass by, dying from thirst while floating in a gazillion gallons of undrinkable water?  People, the ocean is scary!  Why would you go out in it unless you are a fish a BIG fish?

That is why, when I was sitting with my swine flu-infested daughter watching Animal Planet and a show came on about people who had survived shark attacks, I had to keep watching.  It’s all because of my sick, morbid, fascination. 

Only I learned some really great news, the attack didn’t hurt too badly, at the time that is.  Later might have been a different story.  A lady who was attacked while swimming heard a pop and thought her hip had come out of socket.  SHE WAS SO WRONG.  Her entire leg had been taken off in one bite.  And another man, who only lost half his leg, said that he felt a lot of pressure and was shaken around like a rag doll but had no real pain.  So remember that happy news if you are being attacked by a shark.

Sharks are one of the reasons I prefer lakes.  I figure I can take on a fish.  Once at Lake Powell a fish nibbled on my toes while I was treading water.  At least I think it was a fish.  And, who could blame him?  My toes are kind of long and wormish looking. 

In fact, just a couple months ago, my husband and I, and friends (and no kids) were recreating on a lake.  The recreating was very fun, especially the part where there were no kids and the part where I, my friend, and my husband were jetting across the lake on wave runners.  I felt like Charlie’s Angels only my husband is not a woman, just an angel and my thighs were very jiggley, a bit more jiggley than the angel’s I think.  And then in an e-mail I got picture of a fish a man caught in the lake we were par-tay-ing in and it put a gloomy cloud over my happy lake memories.

I think it’s a good thing we didn’t take any kids.  Can you say fish food?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall, Brain Damage and Flies

Some of the better things about fall are that it is no longer necessary to mow the lawn, unless you are my husband. He continues to mow even though no one can tell. I think it’s a man thing because all the men in our neighborhood continue to mow. I think you get some kind of man prize for being the last mower. 

Another perk about autumn is that flies fly slower and I can actually swat some of them. The ones that I keep missing die soon anyway. Recently I had a medical condition that has left me a little unbalanced, forgetful, screwed up my depth perception, and messed with my hand-eye coordination. In other words I have a bit of brain damage, which, actually serves as a handy excuse in most situations, although it has not served me well when I am trying to swat flies.

Thirty five years ago this would not have been a problem because I was an anti-fly swatting, pest loving, tree hugging kind of girl. In other words I was weird. Okay, I probably had brain damage back then too.

Once in the third grade when I went out for recess on a cold fall day, I noticed that the flies could not fly. They stuck to the walls, poor things. Lucky they had me around. I scooped them up with my bare hands, which I’m sure I didn’t wash afterwards and this was long before hand sanitizer came on the market, and put them in my pencil box, which I put inside my desk when recess was over. Once inside, the flies warmed up. Of course I cracked the lid of the pencil box open not wanting them to suffocate. One by one they began to fly out of the box. They swarmed around my teacher’s head, who yelled, “Where are all these flies coming from?” She then got the fly swatter and killed them all in cold blood.

Traumatized and devastated, I came home from school and told my mom the whole sad story. Turns out she had done the exact same thing in elementary school. What are the odds? Anybody else out there have a similar experience?

Unfortunately or fortunately, my fly loving days are over. I am now an avid killer of flies and most of the time spiders. Sometimes, however I trap spiders under a cup and take them outside to freeze to death. At least I don’t have their blood directly on my hands, right?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Trouble With Boys

            When I was 4 months pregnant with our seventh child, my husband and I watched intently as I received the all telling which gender will the baby be, ultrasound. We left the kids home this time after our son last time, upon learning that he would have yet another sister, did the shouty-pouty routine accompanied with the stink-eye for the bad-news-bearer.  It was high drama I tell you. 
            As the technician slid the slimy probe across my belly, he asked about the brood we’d left at home.  “Five girls, one boy,” I told him.  “I’m pretty sure it’s a girl,” I said.   My mother-in-law, who has great intuition also thought “it” was a girl. 
            “Well, I have to tell you,” the technician said in long drawn out words, as we all ogled the monitor which looked like a bad Etch a Sketch drawing, “that you are definitely having another. . .boy.” My heart stopped.  The husband gasped.  We did a mental high five because with five daughters we had been experiencing a lot of horror-mones lately.
            This euphoric state lasted about 30 seconds, when it was quickly followed by a dark, troubling, horrific thought, PINEWOOD DERBY CAR!!!  How are two people who barely remember to have the oil changed in their car supposed to make a Pinewood Derby car?  How are two people that only carve turkey on Thanksgiving and pumpkins at Halloween, neither of which end up resembling a race car, supposed to take a block of wood and make it look like a vehicle???? 
            When we faced this terrifying dilemma with our first son, I had bachelor brothers who were easily amused and easily persuaded to participate in activities such as this.  These were the same brothers who just for fun choreographed a synchronized swimming routine in our above ground swimming pool to Carmina Burana, who ran naked through golf courses and who would spend entire days making marble runs out of old vhs cassette tape holders.  So you can imagine how thrilled they were at the time to have a Pinewood Derby project.
            My youngest brother actually participated in a pinewood derby as an adult.  Okay, as a young adult.  There is a difference.  This brother put a rocket engine on his car and rigged it so that it would ignite when the starting gate went down.  This would have worked great if the race track was outdoors.  After a few horrible seconds when everyone thought the church was going to blow up, the bishop turned to him as the smoke cleared and said, “I think that’s against the rules.” 
            Under the tutelage of these brothers, my son actually won first place one year.  Okay, it wasn’t tutelage it was more like complete and total take over and domination of an eight year old.  However, these selfish brothers don’t think about me as much anymore as they are occupied with things like law school, wives, children and jobs.  Too bad for me.
            So, we bought the Pinewood Derby car kit a month before the event and stared at it  on the desk.  We thought the kit would inspire us.  Instead, it gave us nightmares.  Finally, the week of the derby we took it out of the box.  My son drew the shape and my husband cut it out with some kind of hand saw that you power with your hand as opposed to a motor.  He managed to do this without swearing, cutting off his finger, or cutting into the kitchen chair that the block of wood was fastened too. 
            This was followed by a 9:55 p.m. run on a school night to Home Depot to get sandpaper.  The son sanded.  The mom (me) got on-line to see how much you could buy cars for.  Ninety-nine dollars!!  Can you believe that?  What a racket.  The mom (me) told the boy to keep sanding!  The mom (me) then Googles paint designs for Pinewood Derby Cars.  She finds a cool easy one with wild eyes and a fangy looking mouth.  But Son has his own ideas which are not nearly as cool as the mother’s. 
            Pinewood Derby night arrives.  The most important thing is “the speech.” “It’s not about winning or losing,” we tell him, “it’s about having fun.”  After the speech, the husband and I pray that the wheels won’t fall off the car and that he won’t come in last every heat. 
            The night was a success.  We, I mean he, got a second a few thirds and a fourth (out of four).  There were no raging horror-mones (as in the testosterone variety) or shouty-pouty tantrums by the son, the dad or the mom.  He had fun.  We held together.  Our wheels did not fall off and we stayed on the track.
            One year down, one to go.  Anybody want to buy a Pinewood Derby Car?  It’s a real steal at only $49.99.

My son, the one on the end with the "tire" shaped mouth--his car, the fourth from the left on the back row.  Notice the brilliant Hershey car front row third from the left.  Now that's my kind of car.  Okay, so you can't really see it, but it's a block of wood with a Hershey candy-bar label.  LOVE IT!

Okay, so I stopped being lazy and did a bigger picture of the Hershey car.  Wasn't that nice of me?  I hope it helps somebody out.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Mind is Gone and So Am I

          I went to a writer's conference yesterday and got a great quote from Anita Stansfield: 
"As a writer you spend most of your time in the minds of people who don't exist which is the definition of schizophrenia."

--A gem.  This explains a lot.

Doggy Daze


             Three months ago I dreamed that my husband asked if we could get another dog.  In my dream I said, “In your dreams!”  My husband begged with puppy dog eyes, but I was resolute.
            What you should know is that my husband is not a dog lover.  At best he is a dog tolerator.  I am usually, no always, the beggar when it comes to pets.  I woke up thinking, wow, if Ric wants a dog, this must be really important.
            When I reminded him that he came to me in a dream begging for a puppy, he denied all recollection.  My question is, why would I dream that when he’s not a dog lover and I didn’t want another dog in the first place?  That is when I decided to give him the happy news that I had changed my mind because I am that kind of person.  You know the unselfish mother, always putting everybody else’s needs ahead of her own.  So I told him, since it is sooo important to you, we can get a dog.  He was speechless.
            Flash forward 2 weeks.  My son’s girlfriend’s sister’s dog who is the daughter of my son’s girlfriend’s dog had puppies.  (See pedigree chart of people and dogs at the end of this blog) and lucky me, I got to be there because I enjoy watching this kind of thing except I get a little gaggy when the mom eats the placenta.  But then again, I’ve never tried placenta, so who knows?  I wonder if I was not the fortunate beneficiary of modern medicine and had given birth crossing the plains or in the outback, would some natural animalistic instinct kicked in and would I have eaten placenta???  I doubt it.  How can you eat placenta when you are busy, screaming, throwing up, and yelling at the husband?
            In all honesty, newborn puppies are about as cute as naked mole rats.  Okay, I lied.  I just googled naked mole rats and puppies are a bit cuter, but not much.  (BTW – don’t you love Google?) 
            After I saw the puppies, then of course my children wanted to see the puppies.  Then we had to visit once a week, taking pictures to document their rapid growth.  All very scientific of course. 
            Then, that animal mind-speak thing started to happen.  Only, it wasn’t me speaking to the animals, it was the animals speaking to me.  The little white male of the litter started saying things like, “Look at me.  Aren’t I cute?  I will be your BFF.  I will make your children better children because having a pet makes them responsible and sensitive individuals.  I will lick up all the crumbs on your floor and you will never have to sweep again.  I will protect your family from harm and strangers, all four pounds of me.  I will wake you in the night if there’s a fire.  When your children have no friends, I will be that friend, forever.  I will only poop little tootsie-roll poops that are oh so cute and will just melt away. . .”
            Flash forward again, several weeks.  It is midnight.  Everybody is asleep except for me and McCoy, the mind-speaking, white, fur-ball.  He is not tired, so we are playing.  This is when I start thinking that his idea and my idea of a BFF are not the same.         
            It is now two weeks later than it was two weeks ago.  I have not gotten anything done.  I am tired from chasing him every waking moment.  My old BFF asks how my “baby” is and if she needs to bring me dinner.  I laugh and say no, but that is not what I’m thinking. 
            Finally, McCoy is asleep.  He is cute, especially when he is sleeping.  Most of what he mind-spoke to me was true, but he left a few things out, like:  “I will totally dominate your life.  I might pee on your leather couch.  My favorite pass time is digging holes in the carpet, I will be too little to go up and down stairs for awhile, so you will have to carry me, a lot.  (BTW – if there’s a fire, will you get me out of the house?)  I will probably find gum when we go outside and get it stuck all over me right after you’ve given me a bath.  I will wake you up early every morning, but I will look adorable.
            Next time the husband asks for a dog, I might not be so nice.

Family/Girlfriend/Dog Pedigree Chart illustrated by a lame genealogist


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Naked Truth

I just had a thought.  Maybe that bread recipe doesn't work for anybody.  Maybe everybody is too afraid to tell the Deals to Meals Lady that it is a flop.  Maybe this whole incident is like the emperor's new clothes but with bread. . .

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What are the chances?

What are the chances that I would see the Deals to Meals lady in the parking lot at Costco the day after posting my horrific, bread making experience?  100%.  I know she recognized me because when I went to the "Save Money, Eat Better, Build Your Food Storage rah, rah, rah class," I sat next to her and said, "I don't recognize you.  Are you new to the group?"  She replied, "No I am the teacher."  I thought, how can you be so young and so smart?  Only she is (young) and she was (smart) except for she doesn't know much about bread or fools. 

Just for the record, I did not send her a loaf of spit-on-bread.  Thank heavens.  I did not spit on her or anything else in the parking lot.  I did not chew her out about her recipe.  I did not say hi.  What I did do was concentrate really hard on my feet.  That will show her.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bread, Freezer Jam and Spit

            I just finished making four lovely, tan bricks.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with them, but I’ve got a few ideas.  I could tie them to my cookbook and throw them in a lake;  I’ve got this door that won’t stay open, or I could get a couple of colorful sharpies, add some highlights, and pass them off as fruitcakes in a couple months.
            I got this recipe from the Deals to Meals Lady.  Apparently she has given it to hundreds of people in 5 different states and it is foolproof.  Until now.  I happen to be very good at ruining foolproof recipes.
            My friend taught a class on how to make strawberry freezer jam.  She said, “This recipe is foolproof.  I’ve only ruined it once when I was making it with Jill. . .”  I thought my jam was okay.  So what if I had to drink it instead of spread it. 
            My sister-in-law makes strawberry freezer jam to die for.  My children all request their own bottle for their birthdays.  On the way home with the coveted freezer jam from my domestic sister-in-law goddess, I had one child eat the whole thing with her tongue and bare hands.  This way, she would not have to share.  Not that I would stoop to anything so low.  Not that this sister-in-law and I have ever locked ourselves in a room and downed a whole container of Ben and Jerry’s so we wouldn’t have to share. 
     The sticky, (then 14-year-old) in the back seat of the car is not the only one who has a difficult time sharing.  I have seen the aunt’s freezer jam in our fridge bearing a sign that says, DO NOT EAT.  I HAVE SPIT IN THIS.
            Spitting in food dates back to when our children were quite small.  One night while sitting at the counter prolonging bedtime by slowly eating dishes of ice cream, my husband said, “Five more minutes, then the ice cream is mine.”  Without conversing, they simultaneously spit in their bowls.  That is pure, natural, raw animalistic instinct.   What else could it be?  We didn’t teach them that.
            Anyway, I am sure my bread will not need a sign that says, “Do not eat.  I spit on it.”  In fact, my children are doing a small victory dance and chanting, “Store-bought, white bread! Store-bought, white bread!”  The husband is silently gleeful. 
            I think I will spit on the loaf and send it to the Deals to Meals lady.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Having My Cake and Eating It Too

My fourth child left for college with an orange frying pan and a cook book from her aunt who is a fabulous cook. The cookbook is practical. The frying pan is necessary. The orange is fun. This great desire to learn the culinary arts came quickly and urgently last spring, when she spent a weekend with her older sister at Utah State University. They lived on Hot Tamales, not the Mexican kind, the candy kind. She is now rooming with her sister (brother is down the hall) and they have not eaten a single Hot Tamale, yet.

After years of me begging and pleading to teach her how to make good food, the tables finally turned. This summer SHE begged ME to teach her. Now, I am not a great chef nor am I a naturally qualified teacher. That’s why I taught her a few basics and sent her to school with a couple boxes of Pasta Roni and the number for Little Caesars.

I remember the first time my husband and I invited another couple over to eat in our small apartment, the husband sat next to his wife and said, “Look honey, biscuits. I love biscuits.” The wife kicked the husband under the table and said with strained enthusiasm, “No, dear, I think those are rolls.” She then picked one up and took a bite and said, “Oh honey, you were right. They are biscuits. . .” Only they weren’t and it had taken me all day to make them. They tasted like hockey pucks.

Not that my husband was complaining. His tastes are simple. To be happy, he needs white bread, cereal, Oreos and additional chocolate in any form. He is the inventor of the bread sandwich. The first time he asked for one, I asked for instructions. I will now pass this family heirloom recipe to you. Take note: The bread sandwich is two pieces of bread with a piece of bread in the middle. Voila! My husband is also the genius behind homemade Oreo cereal. Recipe: Put several Oreos in a bowl. Cover with milk. Let sit for about 2 minutes. Eat with spoon. Drink milk from bowl when cookies are gone. Very easy. I’ve memorized them both. I think I will write a family cookbook.

As newlyweds, we were eating dinner with his brother and wife who were only slightly less newlywed. The wife brought out a beautiful cake and announced that she had made it from scratch. My husband took a bite and gave her the best compliment he could think of, “Wow, this tastes as good as a mix. . .” This is the man I cook for and it has been a fairly easy task. Thank heavens.

Yesterday was my birthday and I actually got a year younger. I thought I was turning 45, but my brother, on the eve of my birthday, informed me that I was only 43 turning 44. For an entire year I thought I was 44. . . I’m not sure if I feel like I got an extra year, or that I missed out on my whole 43rd year. I’ll let you know. Anyhoo—

It was my birthday so I wanted to drive to Utah State with the husband and 3 kids to be with the 3 kids that are there and make sure they got a good meal because I am also having some sort of a mid-life crisis thingy. Although my house is much quieter and miraculously cleaner with 4 of the 7 gone, THEY ARE STILL GONE and I haven’t quite figured out how to not feel guilty while I enjoy it, because a part of me misses waking up and finding them and their friends asleep on the floor, and buying groceries just to have them eaten in an hour, and having a shoe of every sort and size by my front and back door, and having a rainbow colored assortment of sports bras and spankys (spandex) drying on my family room railing.

Anyway, I took all the fixings for spaghetti because I have figured that one out after 25 years. I did garlic toast too and I miraculously burned only one pan of the three. (Why is it that 2 minutes after you’ve taken the burnt pan from the oven all the helpful voices chime in, “Check the bread? I think it’s burning.” Thanks.)

We all ate; the roommates ate. We laughed and took funny pictures. The kids commented on how well they were eating. They told me about the great dinners they’d been making. My son actually said that he was eating better at college than at home. If I was the jealous type, I would have been, but I’m not, so I wasn’t.

Then said son pulled out a birthday cake. It sagged in the middle, but it was dripping with chocolate frosting and love. They put 44 candles on it because I am not 45 this year, and tried to light them. Only nobody had a match. So we lit cardboard on the stove burner which burns quite faster and bigger than a match or candle and puts off a lot of ash and fyi-- if you light candles with a candle, it drips wax all over the cake. So, I finally blew out a mere 20 or so candles, feeling 20 at heart anyway, to save the cake from being an ashy, waxy, molten mess.

The cake was dished up and passed around. Everybody eagerly dug in. I’m not quite sure how it’s possible, but the cake tasted like dish soap. If I was the jealous, revengeful type, I would have smiled smugly, but I am not. We Campbells, generally speaking, are hardy, resourceful folk, so we rolled up our sleeves and ate it anyway. It was the best birthday cake ever.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Hello everybody. I've had a few people tell me that they would like to receive some sort of notice when I update so they can make sure they are not the subject of my blog. If you happen to be one of those people, e-mail me at and I will notify you.

BTW--there are lots of great things I could write about many of you. . .those things might include things like scrambled omelets, karate moves, mechanical skunks, NGCR, some of you know what that is, moose sitings, caramel apples, and the point and snap.

p.s. I never would have guessed omelet was spelled like that. Who knew?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Marley and NOT Me

I finally saw the movie Marley and Me. I was on a flight to San Diego. Actually, I was on a plane that was supposed to be going to San Diego but was sitting at the gate for an hour instead. (I think to be classified as a flight, the plane would actually have to be in the air.) Anyway, to make us feel better about sitting in a plane instead of flying in one, the airline handed out free headsets and showed the Marley movie.

I should say right up front if you haven’t seen Marley and Me this blog could be a spoiler. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. READ NO FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED. Okay, the dog dies. Not soon enough. If I had a dog like that (which I have) I would get rid of it, kill it (okay I wouldn’t really kill it, because I can’t even kill spiders. . . most of the time) or have myself locked away somewhere where there is lots of padding.

As much as I hate to admit it, I did get a little tear in my eye when Marley went to that great dog kennel in the sky. NOT because I was going to miss a dog like that, but because I thought of my sweet, blind, diabetic dog who died a couple years ago. BTW --(By the way, that stands for by the way.) -- I would highly recommend owning a blind, diabetic dog, but that’s another story.

Before the sweet, blind dog, we had dogs from Hell. Exhibit A. Toby. Dalmation. That dog not only had spots, he had me seeing spots. He ate everything. I planted rose bushes. He ate them. Didn’t chew them, engulfed them, swallowed them thorns and all. No more roses. I baked plates of brownies as Christmas gifts for my neighbors. He got them off the counter, not quite sure how, and ate every last crumb. Chocolate is supposed to be toxic to dogs. Apparently it’s not toxic enough. He ate his own collar while it was on his neck. How do I know this? After his collar turned up missing, I found it again. Coming out his back end. He’s lucky he didn’t turn himself inside out.

The worst was when he would get out, which was often. The front door would open and he would plow through small children, frazzled mothers, and terrified visitors like a crazed woman at Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving.

Now I am not one to be messed with. Actually, I’m a total pushover. But you know, one can only take so much. So I devised this ingenious plan. I would go out the front door and stand against the house with a newspaper. . . okay it was a frying pan. One of my children would then open the front door. When Toby bolted, I would give him a little thump, thus teaching him never to plow through the door again. Dang. That plan still looks good on paper. . .

However, I didn’t reckon on him being so fast and me being so old and slow. Missing my big chance as he flew through the door, I dropped the pan and dove for him. (What was I thinking??) I managed to grab his back legs as he/we sailed off the front porch. He landed on his feet in the front yard while I landed on my stomach and was dragged a few feet before his feet slid out of my hands. I laid there with a mouthful of front lawn and grass stained clothes wondering if I was alive and how many of the neighbors saw.

Now with this kind of dog, you just want to let them go and hope they never come back. But everybody knows when you have a monstrous, abominable Dalmation. The phone starts ringing: “Your dog’s out again.” (I should be so lucky.) “Your dog just pooped on my lawn.” (I’ll bill you later for the fertilizer.) “My kids would like to ride their bikes, but your dog keeps chasing them. . .” (Tell them to pedal faster.)

So, you leave a 5 year old in charge of the 3 & 2 & 1 year old while you go catch the dog from Hell, bring him home, just so you can repeat the whole process in an hour.

I finally found a good home for Toby, and no I absolutely did not cry when he left. I did the victory dance with a capital V. A Hell’s Angel biker man bought him. Even paid me money. I braced myself for the worst when Toby ran at tough-biker-Hell’s-angel guy full speed. (He was a pretty protective dog, when he was around.) Toby planted his front paws squarely on biker man’s chest. His tail started wagging and he licked his face. Hell’s-angel-biker man cried tears from heaven (for me). He took him away (for-e-ver), telling me they were going to sit in the recliner, watch t.v., eat pizza and drink beer every night. “Rock on,” I thought, “rock on.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Animal Communication 101

Monday I read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about a woman who could communicate with animals. People would actually take their dogs and cats to her to see what they were thinking. Her remarkable skill was not limited to domestic animals, but to wild animals as well. I believe she said that a bird said to her while trapped in her backyard that it wanted out. Hmmmmmm. I may be going out on a limb here along with the bird, but I bet I can communicate with animals too. In fact according to this woman, we all can. It’s something we’re born with that we lose.

Yes, I have to say, I am a firm believer. I think that I have been communicating with animals my whole life. I had more animal friends as a child than people friends. That could still be true.

Candy was my best friend when I was twelve. Candy was a horse. We were two souls living in one body or maybe that’s one soul living in two bodies or something like that. I was sure that we were so in sync that we could communicate without halter, bridle, saddle, not even a stinking carrot. So, I jumped on my naked horse and nudged him through the open corral fence. I hugged his neck, feeling his mane gently brush my cheek. I felt the rhythm of his breathing, the beating of his heart. His muscles quivered beneath me. I willed him with my mind to be one with me, to go where I wanted. I pictured the headlines: Girl Rides Horse Using Mental Telepathy, or Girl and Horse Share One Mind (or maybe that’s brain. . .)

Upon closer examination, Candy communicated to me the following: I really don’t care a rat’s whisker where you want to go. I would personally like to leave my footprints in the neighbor’s newly planted lawn. I would like to trample and eat most of the vegetables in the Terry’s and Ferre’s gardens. I would love to run at small children just to hear them scream. And the last, hardest blow from my mind speaking session with my soul mate: I know you think that I like you to ride me, but you are really just an added burden, a burr under my saddle so to speak, and I think you’d be happier here in the mud with the neighbors all yelling at you, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Now that you KNOW what I’m thinking, just try and explain to them what you were thinking. Then he mind-spoke a little “hee, hee, hee” to me as he trotted off. Actually, he might have said the hee hee hee out loud.

After this episode, we were not one soul living in two bodies, but two souls living in two bodies, one in the pasture and one in the doghouse. Speaking of dogs. . .

I once owned a dog that said to me in mind-speak, I want to make you look like a total idiot in front of all your friends and neighbors. And he did. When I put him outside, he would make a sound like I was peeling the flesh from his bones. When I’d try to bring him in, he’d move out of reach and crank up the volume on the death scream. Naturally this forced me to chase him harder and yell at him louder as he would move faster and scream louder drawing a small crowd on the other side of my fence angrily accusing me of boiling him alive which I certainly would have done by this time if I had a fire, a pot and some hot water. . .and if I could catch him. (Deep Breath)

My amazing ability to communicate with animals does not just include my own. I once saw a dog that said, I want to eat your hot dog. The drool, the jumping up on and knocking down of my body were all sure signs that I was not mistaken.

I saw a dog the other day and do you know what he said to me telepathically? He said, I want to sniff your nether-regions. I replied, all telepathically of course, I don’t think so dog. Don’t even try it. As I juggled an armload of stuff, trying to free a hand to stop a protruding nose, he replied, I’m sorry. Was that a telepathic message from you because I don’t mind-speak with people. He said this with a big dog smile of course as he took a big SNIFF.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Miss My Mom

I miss my mom. She’s been gone for three years this week and I still occasionally pick up the phone to call her. Ouch. I want to ask her how she kept all the chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom of her picnic cake recipe. I should have made it when she was alive but she always did. Sometimes I just want to tell her about my day, get her advice, or tell her something funny that one of the kids did. But then, she probably already knows.

There is only ONE good thing about my mom being dead. When someone (especially a salesperson) calls and asks, “Is your mom there?” I can reply, “No, she’s dead.” For some reason, I get a kick out of this. (I like to think my mom does too.) I tried this on my sister-in-law once and she did not think it was funny. Before you go thinking I am a total schmutz, you should know that I probably get this irreverent, playful attribute from my mother.

When we moved to a new neighborhood with our three legged dog, someone asked, “What’s wrong with your dog’s front leg?” My mom looked at the dog, looked at the person and said, “What leg?”

Mom was known to start water fights not only outside, but inside. Wild, wet, crazy fun. (Side note: if any of my children are reading, do not try this at home. I will not think it is funny, really.) I remember frantically trying to get inches of water off the kitchen floor before my dad got home.

One day my brother and his friends were working in the yard. They found a huge earthworm and decided to go scare my mom with it. When they dangled it in front of her face, she grabbed it and started chasing them with it.

Mom had a theory that you could balance an egg on end during the Winter or Summer Solstice. My brother sat at the kitchen table trying to disprove her theory. As he rolled the egg between the table top and the palm of his hand, my mom got tired of his know-it-all behavior, smacked the top of his hand which crushed the egg.

In grade school, mom cried and cried one day on the steps of her school. She wouldn’t go inside. When her mother arrived at the school to sort through the problem, she was told by my sweet mother that she was crying because God made her a little girl and not a horse.

I never got the rest of the story—what my grandmother did. That is another thing I would ask my mom.

If my mom was a horse, she would be the kind that was all playful, and kind. She would give you sweet rides on her back and then when you were least expecting it, she would kick up her heels and you would slide down her neck into the soft grass. (Yes, she would make sure you landed on something soft.) You would look up at her like, “What was that for?”

She would bat her big horse eyelashes with a look of “Who me?” That’s the kind of horse my mom would be.

When she lost all her hair to cancer, she had a very stylish wig. It was great hair. She never had a bad hair day—all she had to do was put it on. No fuss. No problem. When complimented on her great hair (by people who did not know it was a wig), she would lift it straight off her head and say, “Thanks, do you want to borrow it.”

My mom thought of a great invention before she left. If you’ve ever had to buy a coffin, you know how crazy expensive they are. And for what when you think about it. It’s not like you try it out before you go to see if it’s comfortable. It’s not like people will be looking at it for years to come.

You lay in it at the viewing while people say you look great or peaceful when what you really look is dead.

But on the other hand, if you buried your loved one in a cardboard box, people would think you were pond scum. So, here’s the beauty of the invention. You buy (and use for several family members) or rent a coffin. At the cemetery the coffin is reverently lowered into the ground while someone is playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Then when everybody leaves, somebody pushes a button on a remote control device which opens the trap door on the bottom of the coffin. The body falls out, and the coffin is pulled back up and reused.

My mom. A thrifty, funny lady. I miss her.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hormones. . .

Getting older isn't too bad when you compare it with the alternative. Death. But what's up with this "hang-over?" I'm talking about the thing hanging over my belt; the 15lbs. that has magically appeared and is not budging as if to say, "Howdy, I"m here for the long haul." And do I really have to have zits again? And what's up with standing up? Everything rises except my hip which remains anchored to the chair by my butt. Everything is falling, sagging or puddling like wax dripping from a birthday candle. My husband is faring a bit better. The hair he's losing on his head is being replaced by new growth in his nose and ears.

When my daughter and I sat through the fifth grade maturation program and got the 411 on pu-ber-ty, wide-eyed she turned to me and said, "Now I know why they call them HORRORMOMES."

I know what she's talkin about.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

As First Lady I Solemnly Swear. . .

Apparently Michelle Obama dresses quite nicely. I haven’t noticed this. I’m sure she probably does. I don’t tend to notice what people are wearing, I do notice however if they are wearing something as opposed to not wearing something. So while not a great advocate of fashion, I am a great advocate of clothes. Everybody should wear them.

I read about First Lady Obama’s great fashion look in USA Today. I don’t usually read USA Today, but I was staying at the “Del. That’s what everyone called it, which I find funny because isn’t “del” a preposition? So are they really saying, “Welcome to the Of The?” Wouldn’t you say, welcome to the Hotel Del Coronado or maybe the Coronado, but the Del?

Back to USA Today. Evidently Michelle (can I call the first lady that?) has this oh so nice white blouse (which reportedly she’s worn more than once—SHOCKING), and some green pumps, (green is my favorite color) and a smashing belt. And here’s the good news. I can get knock-offs of all these things for a couple hundred dollars, each!

Hello people. Hello first lady. Did you know that we are in a recession? That is more than my clothing budget for an entire year. If I bought that, I’d have to wear it every day. I wonder how it looks inside out? (Remember the 80’s when you wore your sweat shirt inside out for a different look. . . or was that just me?) Also slacks or a skirt were not mentioned. This creates a small problem.

My dream—a first lady that shops at Target. Say it like “Tar-jay,” you’ll feel better. And while the green pumps were very appealing, if I was going to do as much walking as the first lady, I would opt for green sneakers. And would it kill the first lady to wear sweats once in a while? It would do a heap of good for my morale.

So here is my first campaign promise if I am ever elected first lady. I solemnly swear (with my hand on a bag of chocolate chips) that I will not wear designer clothes. Not even knock-offs. I will make women everywhere feel better by wearing sweats, jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, sneakers and flip flops with maybe an occasional pajama bottom. If I have to wear a dress, I will be on my way to church and my feet will be happy feet in my sensible but colorful flats. You should be able to duplicate my wardrobe by shopping the clearance rack at any Tar-jay, Ross Dress for Less, or Deseret Industries.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Life as a Guppie

My neighbors had a yard sale over the weekend and actually made money. They are business people with thick-skins and tough-spines who also happen to be fun to go to dinner with and will do the carpool for you when you are in a bind.

I have banned myself from having yard sales because I am of the lily-livered, weak spined-kind. My husband is just as weak, maybe weaker except he is taller and can count the money we don't make better than I can because he is of the accounting kind.

In our old neighborhood our neighbors had a sale and we decided we would set out our entertainment center. As we were hoisting the thing up the stairs subconsciously working on my husband's upcoming hernia, we made a solemn pledge not to take less than $100.00. We had bought it within the last year for $300.00 and it was in great shape.

We were dragging it onto the porch when a "garage sailor" (these are people of the sail-around-on-Saturdays-from-yard-to-yard-looking-for-an-easy-kill-kind) slyly sneaks up on us and says, "I'll give you $50.00 for that. My husband and I look at each other. For some reason we are frozen, unable to speak, like deer in the headlights. We both weakly nod and my husband squeaks out an, "Okay." The shark moves in closer and asks, "Can you deliver it to my house?" We both nod, wondering how this all went so wrong.

We end up delivering the entertainment center to the guy, picking up pizza for him on the way there and dropping off his dry cleaning when we leave. Then we go home and sit in front of our t.v. which is sitting on the floor and pinky-swear that we will never attempt to sell anything again because we are just a couple of guppies.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fantasy Land

I started reading my first adult fantasy book. That means that all the Harry Potters and Fablehavens did not count (according to my husband) even though they have a gazillion pages. Who knew?

Fantasy is really quite complicated. Just ask Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull or L.E. Modesitt Jr., I mean really, how do they keep track of all those characters, their secret powers, the powers of various objects, mythical creatures, the kingdoms where they live, blah, blah, blah? All of a sudden, I need a reference sheet to tell me what I just read and I'm only 100 pages into the book. My mind starts to leave—you know, the light is on but nobody’s home. I’m just wondering when he (said super fantasy hero) is going to kiss the girl. And who cares if the dragon comes back because dragons aren’t real anyways. Okay, really, I try to be scared when I read about the dragon/demon/evil power, but I just can't because, well, I don't want to blow it for you, but it's NOT real.

And that is when I had my little epiphany. As I reviewed in my wee brain all the many people I know who enjoy fantasy, they were all folks not like me. Fantasy readers aren’t right-brained creative folk, they are left brained, record keeping factual folk. I think. However, this is hard for me to decipher since most times I can’t find either side of my brain.

I shared this remarkable insight with my husband who is totally left-brained; he also functions as my left brain, and he was totally not surprised. He also happens to be a huge reader and lover of fantasy. He has always said, “Why should I read about something that could actually happen?” I always say, “Why should I read about something that could never happen?”

He explained that right brained people live in a fantasy world all the time. So, why on earth do they need to escape? While, left-brained people, like himself, live, work and breathe in the real world. That’s why they need fantasy—to escape. . .

So all this time I’ve been living in fantasy land doing fantasy laundry, making fantasy mac n’ cheese, and shopping at the fantasy grocery kingdom. I guess driving the carpool is my idea of fantasy too. Maybe I need to escape to the real world.