13 August 2014

Baby Brother

     The best thing about having a baby brother is that you learn to nurture another human at a very early age. I was two when my brother John was born--an adorable with round, black pools and long lashes. He was irresistible for the first three or four years. The proof is in the myriad photos that our dad took of that little guy. We had video of him riding at lightening speed in his red pedal car. I am so grateful that John came into my life. He prepared me to be the mother of three sons and a daughter, all of whom I nurtured and raised lovingly. I was a strong parent to my kids, because I witnessed the opposite while growing up with my brothers.
     Once John started school, things ran amok. His hyperactivity interfered with his learning and disrupted classroom management. His 3rd grade teacher even made him wear a sign around his neck: "Smash, Rip, & Ruin." No, I'm not making this up. And by then his hyperactivity at home was taking its toll on my dad's patience. Spankings were commonplace, and as the years went on those spankings became beatings. In today's society, our dad would be arrested for these abuses, but back then lots of dads used violence to intimidate and control their children. The principal at school did the same, so John was getting spanked at home AND at school on a regular basis.
     By 4th grade a new drug, Ritalin, hit the market, and my parents asked our family doctor to prescribe it for John. I have no idea how effective it was, if at all, because I've never asked him about his experience on that medication. Nevertheless, things changed for John.
     As if the abuses weren't enough, we were victimized by a convicted sex offender. My friend Sheila and I were in 6th grade, John in 4th when a black man drove up to us one afternoon, stopped his car, and asked a question in a mumbled voice. We walked over to the car, only to encounter the man masturbating for us, like a performer. His act continued while the reality hit each child individually. He drove off only after we ran away in horror. Sheila and I recovered quickly from the ordeal, by talking and laughing about it. John would never be the same; he processed it with no one and perseverated on the experience. Years later he asked me if I ever thought about that experience. I told him that I did, maybe once a year. He said, "I think about it every single day. I've played that over in my mind thousands of times."
     By the time he was in his mid-teens, John was exposing himself to others. I don't know who or where or when. I just know that this behavior ruined two marriages, and landed him in prison three times. He was serving his last stint in 2004, when our mother drove four hours to visit him at the prison, even though he was set to be released four months later. Sadly, Mom died of a massive stroke before she could get out the door of her hotel room, before she could visit John once more. This has eaten at at my brother for a decade now.
     I pray for John. I pray he will find peace and love. I pray he will feel the love of God and his family. He once asked me, "Miracles happen all the time. Where's MY miracle?" That question prompted me to search the scriptures for answers to that question. And the best answers I could provide were found  Faith Precedes the Miracle, a book by Spencer W. Kimball. Here's a quote:
     “Whoever said that sin was not fun? Whoever claimed that Lucifer was not handsome, persuasive, easy, friendly? Sin is attractive and desirable. Transgression wears elegant gowns and sparkling apparel. It is highly perfumed; it has attractive features, a soft voice. It is found in educated circles and sophisticated groups. It provides sweet and comfortable luxuries. Sin is easy and has a big company of pleasant companions. It promises immunity from restrictions, temporary freedoms. It can momentarily satisfy hunger, thirst, desire, urges, passions, wants without immediately paying the price. But, it begins tiny, and grows to monumental proportions - drop by drop, inch by inch.” 

     John, you have been forgiven. And your sins have been paid for. Now forgive yourself.

07 August 2014

Football: Jump, Scream, and Swear

     Women aren't supposed to like football as much as men do, but a Renaissance Woman may not fit that stereotype. I have enjoyed watching football since I was a kid growing up in a house with two brothers and a dad who all played high school football. I played in the band, even directed our marching band as the Drum Major in 9th grade, so I watched a lot of football between ages 13 and 18.
     In four years of college, I went to only one football game. (Let's not dwell on that unfortunate occasion.) In my twenties, after I had married and had four babies, football became an inexpensive and ubiquitous luxury in our home. As the mother of three boys (and one daughter), I had a responsibility to introduce my boys to football at an early age, AND to model appropriate enthusiasm for the sport. Jumping, screaming and swearing were all part of that training. My kids still remember the 1984 National NCAA Football Championship when BYU won the National Title. Robbie Bosco was our QB and played injured to the last moment in the game, when we won. The screaming and jumping were modeled in top form THAT day.
     Because I grew up in Sacramento, the San Francisco 49ers were always my family's favorite team. I even watched a few of their training camp days in Santa Rosa. By 1985 Joe Montana and Steve Young were the hot QBs for the 49ers. But living in Utah turned my head eastward to Denver, when the amazing John Elway led the Broncos for several years. Since then, my team has remained the Broncos without question. We went through the lean years, the "Orange Crush" era, and watched a vast array of talent come through that team. But nothing will compare with the day in 2012 when Peyton Manning signed on as a Bronco. I could see a new day dawning for my team; indeed, they made it to the SuperBowl in February 2014.
     On a related note, my darling daughter-in-law Mandi Larsen Frost comes from a family of huge Norwegians, and she has four brothers who play football: Cody, Tyler, Zak, and Colin. They all went to Jordan High School (in SLC), and Cody played for Southern Utah University, while Tyler played in Northern Utah at Utah State University. Cody signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, where he played on the practice squad all season. We were disappointed that he wasn't used in the games. Then they let him go in May 2014. Argh!!
     Today, Cody plays defense for the Denver Broncos, and Tyler plays offense for the Miami Dolphins. How exciting does football get when your family members are playing? Well, let's just say that enthusiasm for football has risen to an all time high at my house, with me as head cheerleader. Okay, I don't have a uniform, but I can still jump, scream, and swear like nobody's business!!

For the Birds

After two years living in a country (South Korea) where there is virtually no wildlife, including BIRDS, I  returned to the USA last summer and settled in the most amazing valley full of birds. That may not sound like a huge blessing, but I've had some profound experiences with birds over the past 12 months, since moving to Sanpete County in the geographic center of Utah.

  • A few months back, a robin built her nest in the tree outside my living room window, where 3 babies grew for several days. They disappeared one day -- most likely due to a cat, a raccoon, or a large bird. Bittersweet!
  • A frequent visitor to my front porch is a large hummingbird, who seems to be as interested in observing me as I am in gawking at it.
  • Springtime introduced our neighborhood to a busy woodpecker, who spent most mornings at work in the upper reaches of one of our 100-year-old trees here in the old part of town.
  • Daily, I am enthralled by the large birds of prey that soar above Sanpete County. Redtail hawks are easy to spot on sunny days, with their rusty-colored tails. Check out photos on this formidable website: http://ninnescahlife.wichita.edu/node/618  National Geographic posted this remarkable footage of a red-tail hawk besting a rattlesnake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjmJla-q880
  •  Ferruginous hawks, with their white breasts, are highly visible when perched atop fence posts and telephone poles. Most of all, I find the bald eagles inspiring, and spotting young eagles in the nests is a bonus!

I could go on about my appreciation for birds; however, I'll end this post by pointing out that birds play an important part in this world, and I am grateful to live where they are so abundant.

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a brief comment below.

11 June 2014

Does your blog have a purpose?

My first choice for the title of my blog was "Renaissance Women" but someone named Deborah had already taken that title. Sadly, Deborah has NEVER, EVER posted a single word to her blog, including who she is or how to contact her. After nine years, I still need this title, because  I'm ready to begin posting the stories of women whom I consider to be "Renaissance Women." But I need to use the title RENAISSANCE WOMEN to present my stories.

Does anyone have a suggestion on how I can contact Deborah to ask her to relinquish her blog title to me????
Help, please!!

06 February 2014

Know Read Meet

I posted this article back in January 2014, but I've decided to update the content, the organization, and the message. So it will be worth a second reading by my followers. Here goes!

The title of this entry is significant, "Know Read Meet," as a tribute to my college students who struggle with spelling, syntax, sentence structure, and punctuation. No Read Meet, No Red Mete, Know Read Meat. See what I mean? I teach Freshman Composition at "The Best Small College in America -- Snow College (Ephraim, Utah). My poor freshmen struggle with writing, especially the ESL students who have to make sense of the English language. I expend a tremendous amount of energy trying to interest my students in the mechanics of English. I've been known to use a Russian accent, copious anecdotes, mild swearing, and doggedness to help hold their attention, but it is always an uphill battle.

On the other hand, my students teach me a lot. For example, I have read several research papers showing the connection between e coli in beef and the symptoms of Alzheimers Disease that show up in humans who have eaten infected beef and pork. OMG!!! I'm not making this up. In fact, all the literature on autoimmune disorders strongly suggests that red meats can have a negative impact on the digestive system and overall wellness of individuals with autoimmune (Lupus, MS, Fibromyalgia, ALS, Crone's, etc).  Therefore, in January 2014, I made a conscious decision to forego eating beef and pork from now on. I can honestly say I have never found myself craving meat, so it hasn't been a super sacrifice. My step-daughter Rebecca is a natural-born vegetarian; when she was little, she seldom ate the meat we served on her plate. She ate everything else, but just didn't have an affinity for meat.

Eat Mor Chikin

I came across this cool graphic representing "Integrative Nutrition" - a reference to the basic needs of the evolved human. The inner circle breaks down our physical needs into the common denominators: water, oils, fruits, grains, protein, and veggies. The outer circle refers to the social/emotional needs of modern woMan: relationships, spirituality, activity, and career.

The foods in each of those colored quadrants remind me of my healthy favorites:
apples and carrots, quinoa, pasta, and rice;
eggs and cheese;
squash, broccoli, and tomatoes;
beans, including refried and humus.

I still eat chicken on occasion, but it's probably no safer than the others. However, the more I read about the foods fed to cattle and hogs, the more I find myself  unable and unwilling to eat red meat; the antibiotics and growth hormones given to livestock, the diseases these animals carry, and the GMOs (genetically modified organisms) they eat are far from safe for human consumption. My already-compromised immune system does not need red meat. In fact, I'm certain the break from these meats will reap positive results. I'll revisit this topic later in the year. In the meantime, I would love to read your comments. Feel free to agree or disagree. Let's get this issue on the table. :)

07 July 2013

Days 6 and 7: The Lake House

Day 6 and 7: Took a nap this morning while the kids went swimming with Telene. We said goodbye at noon and headed for Stephenville, TX to see my Jimison relatives. Winding roads into the countryside finally brought us to a sleep valley filled with the most placid, picturesque setting imaginable. And there on the hill just above the water sits my cousin Virginia Zubik’s home, flanked by a newly-acquired cabin. My cousins Dee and Elaine were there, along with my Aunt Opal, who everyone calls “Mimi”. What a passel of folks are here! Kids, grandkids, cousins, stepkids, friends, live-ins – you name it. And more food than you could eat in a week! Not just food, but dishes like “Corn Bread Salad” and “Peach Cobbler” and meats galore.

Cornbread Salad:

Layer in a trifle dish --
1 package of cornbread, cut into chunks
1 can pinto beans (well drained)
1 can of corn (well drained)
1 diced red onion
1 layer of grated cheese
Cover with Ranch Dressing
Let sit for 2 hrs before serving
(can make the night before)

Virginia, Mel, Mark and I all went for a boat ride today, after which we jumped into the lake and Beer-Bobbed. We talked and laughed in the water that was a perfect temperature for swimming. Then we got dressed and drove into a podunk town to eat at Mary's. Cool place. Came home as the sun was setting and went for a boat ride around the lake in the dark. We'll be sorry to leave tomorrow.

Next 4th of July will most likely find us back here. It was great!

04 July 2013

Day 5: San Antonio to Austin

Happy Fourth of July! Independence Day means as much to Americans as any sacred holiday ever. We do NOT take for granted the freedoms this great nation allows us. And we know that we are not "entitled" to or "given" anything in America that is not worth fighting for. I'm grateful that I can own and carry my own firearm. I'm even more grateful that I have never needed to use one to protect myself (knock on wood).

We decided to save money by moving on to Austin where Mark's niece, Telene and Shawn Griffiths live with their 4 kids (India, Ava, Max, Zane). Shawn and Telene met us at Rudy’s Bar-b-que in Leander, where we ate some of the most succulent meat I’ve ever tasted: brisket, turkey, and pork. The kids were so happy to see us, and they called us Grandpa and Grandma We had a great visit with them and their four kids – all adorable. Eva and India let us sleep in their bed, which was heavenly. And we tagged along to a barbeque, then home to watch fireworks in the neighborhood.
We're looking forward to spending the holiday and fireworks with them all. India and Ava love Grandma Kelli, cuz she sews for them. I will try to make a Barbie outfit for each of them before we leave tomorrow.

Sorry for not adding the promised photos, but I don't have a cord to attach to Mark's camera. As soon as I get one, I'll upload a bunch of pictures that exemplify our stops along this rich sojourn into America's heartland. In the meantime, KYAL (know you are loved) !

Day 4: West Texas to San Antonio

Day 4: West Texas
Didn’t sleep real well, so we didn’t wait for the alarm to go off; instead, we got up at 4:30am and repacked the car. Ate oatmeal for brecky at McDonald’s and headed southwest for San Antonio. Oil fields galore, cattle ranches, and a whole lot a’ nothin’ across West Texas.
Arrived in San Antonio around 3:30pm, dumped stuff in our modest downtown motel room so that we could get out and see the city. In spite of the heat, we jumped on a downtown trolley that took us to the Alamo, where Mark made good use of the camera. Then we crossed the street and began our stroll along the Riverwalk, lined with amazing architecture, ducks, shops, and tons of eating establishments. Since we weren't really hungry, we shared an order of fish and chips at an Irish Pub on the river. 

Everywhere we turned in San Antonio, hoards of Christian youth and their chaperones appeared (wearing turquoise backpacks adorned with penticosal slogans. My personal fave: SWAG - Saved With Amazing Grace. Evidently there's a national Christian Youth Conference taking place this week in San Antonio, where thousands of young people in colorful t-shirts have converged. Nevertheless, these kids are clean-cut, polite, non-smoking, non-cussing, and friendly.

We asked around about the downtown Fourth of July activities, only to find that 300,000 people would be joining us near the Alamo to enjoy outdoor activities, attractions, concerts, and fireworks. Hmmm, not so big on crowds over 100,000, so Mark went online to look at prices for Sea World and Six Flags here in San Antonio. Ouch! We went to bed pondering our high-priced choices...