Jabberwocky for 2001

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: Test entry.

: My first entry on Crummy! Using my old puppy as a password, trying to write while being harassed by my new puppy.

: Travelogue: Europe.

: Travelogue: Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

: Travelogue: Utah.

: Yum! I bought a bag of cocoa hulls for mulch today instead of buying shredded bark as I usually do. I don't know why I didn't think about this, but they are actual COCOA bean hulls. My yard smells like chocolate.

: My poor little Jellybean is in the hospital with asthma. She'll have to be on medication now, possibly the rest of her life, plus I'll have an emergency shot to give her in the event of an attack. The temperature here is 108; I'm sure that doesn't help.

: Euphonium. It's not a double-belled one, though. Even though it's maybe 75 years old and silver. I got it at the neighbor's yard sale. She tried to sell me a doghouse too, but I was afraid Gretel would grow too big for it.

: Rachel and I went to a thrift store looking for an entry hall table and came out with some Princess House crystal. We got duplicates of much of what I already have, so my daughters won't have anything to fight over when I die. Besides washing crystal and finding places to put it, I got almost nothing done today except changing fish water and watering a few plants. Oh, and I hung the brackets and shelves in the vaccum cleaner closet and the display cupboard in Rachel's room. Most of the day I spent working on graphics for the church newsletter.

The brugmansias I bought in Davis when Rosalie and I went to her family reunion aren't doing so well. The weather's been too hot. Also, the lagerstromia and the acer negundo I planted on the back patio are looking wilted. As are the Sally Holmes roses. I hate this. I wish we'd finish installing the patio covers and I could clean up the yard,install the sprinkler systems, and have something besides dirt for landscaping.

Reuben must have spent all of a whole hour today working on the concrete. The whole exterior plan is agonizingly slow of accomplishment, due to the heat and to me having to hire it done because I'm not strong enough to do it myself anymore. I complained to the contractor about it. At least he listened politely.

Amanda took me to lunch at Fresh Choice to celebrate receiving her first paycheck from the veterinary hospital. The salad for July is a fairly bizarre concoction of mesclun, cranberries, water chestnuts and mandarin oranges in a raspberry vinaigrette. Come again? Who thinks up these ideas?

: Sunday. No wrought iron gate guy showed up today. Bleah. I'm soooo tired of this. Amanda did surgery on my foot this morning, utilizing all the expertise she has acquired at the veterinary hospital. She eventually extracted a small but deep thorn as well as a great deal of my sole. During the operation, Rachel reverted to her childhood role, i.e., to wince and cry for the patient.

: We worked really hard today doing a lot of nothing. I hung dining room curtains and experimented with polishing the euphonium. Rachel went to Target and complained that the suitcase set she bought in June is now on sale. Ruben Holguin started installing the patio cover-- thank goodness! I baked two pineapple upside down cakes and made three chuck roasts with mashed potatoes and gravy. Duane Black, the Cheney family, and the missionaries came to dinner. Tomorrow, 6 a.m., I have to leave to take girls to camp.

: Well, I'm back--temporarily-- from Camp. Here are the adventures so far:

We set off in a lovely caravan from our meetinghouse. I had two Beehives and an investigator (more on that later) in the back seat and Gretel beside me in the front. All went well until about the time we left the city limits and started up the canyon, whereupon the. investigator threw up. Red stuff. All. Over. My. New. White. Car. She didn't even ask me to pull over or anything-- in fact as of today, Wednesday, she has said nothing to anyone. Bleah. ( More on this later. ) This action inspired Gretel, who also threw up--a little more unpleasant for me, the driver, since it was dog food she was throwing up and I was one of the things she threw up on. Other things including my purse and the permission slips. I pulled off at the Lower Richbar campground and mopped a bit. The two Beehives had taken their Dramamine, as ordered.

We continued up through the canyon and most of us made our rendezvous at the little public park and store where everyone makes a traditional potty stop. People from other wards were there, and laughing at the condition of my vehicle. I put my nose in the air and ignored them. There was no toilet paper, a fact of which the (to remain nameless) brother who used the bathroom before me did not apprise me until it was too late. Men are not equipped to notice such things, are they? He left the seat up, too.

I had the girls trying to take Gretel potty out in the park, but she wouldn't, and the sprinklers came on, drenching everyone. So. Wet dog. Wet girls. Vomit. No TP. Heading up the mountain. Gretel rode okay until we left the "highway" and started climbing the serious mountain road whereupon she started retching again. I tried to tell her to sit up and look out the window and she would feel better but she insisted on lying down with head on the gearshift, miserable eyes glazed and staring at me with a pleading "how could you do this to me?" look. She wears a special doggy seat belt with chest pad that allows her to sit up if she wants, but she wasn't up to it, even when I coaxingly remarked that there were deer and squirrels.

Finally arrived at camp. The gentlemen--the Elders of Israel-- bailed. Second Counselor even remarked that he had dropped out of Scouting at age 12. Two adults-- the camp director-- who says she doesn't camp, and me. Nineteen girls. Most of junior high age, all of them berserk. We finally got some semblance of order, and made them a little bit tired digging drainage trenches around their tents. Threatened them some. I confirmed the "bears" rumor. Yes, it really happened, to my daughters, with the stake we were in six years ago, and yes, he was big and scratched that very tent you are planning to sleep in tonight, in the Ninth Ward campsite right over yonder so there.

" Oh, but that was a long time ago," one of the girls said. "He's gone by now."

"Wrong," said Ward Camp Director. "He's gotten married and has a lot of babies around here now."

By then it was seriously looking like rain. I cracked the whip over the ditch diggers like Pharaoh's overseer. Ward Camp Director and Youth Leader were about to kill someone.

It didn't rain-- so far!-- and I built a fire and made some Dutch oven brownies. Gretel started feeling much better. To say she was thrilled to be at Camp is the understatement of the century. Nobody does ecstasy like a large puppy. There were so many things to see and to smell, and when I put her on the long lead and let her out to run in the meadow she nearly became two puppies. One of the girls took her jogging, which helped, so we went back to camp and Gretel and I had naps.

When I woke up, the girls had trashed the campsite and the camp director was cooking dinner, alone, muttering imprecations as she hacked on a frozen chunk of shredded chicken meat. I asked her why she didn't get me up and she said she was trying to keep the girls quiet so I could sleep. As if. So I felt bad. We fed all bipeds and one quadruped, and then everyone but me went off to the fireside. I stayed behind babysitting Gretel, cleaning up the campsite, building the evening bonfire, cooking Dutch oven pineapple upside down cake, and enjoying the peace and the starlight with my dog. Gretel and I did walk down to hear the Stake Presidency message (from a discreet distance) and we walked out into the meadow during a lovely violin/flute number, drinking in the music, the surrounding mountains, and the night sky.

So far, the only wildlife Gretel has unearthed in the twilight was a very (Very) large toad, which discouraged her blandishments by the age-old Toad Pee Method of Defense. I went back to camp and lit the Coleman lantern and built up the bonfire so everyone could find us as they returned in the dark. Picked up more candy wrappers, and got more and more disgusted, so I packed all --I mean ALL-- the candy in a box and Took It Away. Camp Director was the first to return, and I told her, "Jill, I know this is not my place, but I really feel the need to put on my teacher face for these kids, so I hope you won't be offended if I speak to them for a few minutes." She said, through gritted teeth, "Somebody needs to!"

As they straggled in, I sat them down on logs around the campfire and wouldn't let them go potty, or go Snipe hunting, or anything, and wouldn't listen to them whine, and then I let them have it with a big speech about respect for Heavenly Father's world and respect for their Young Women leaders. And I told them their candy was G-O-N-E. Maybe, just maybe, when the YW pres. gets here later in the week, and if the campsite has been absolutely spotless for a few days, some of it may reappear.

Most of the girls were very contrite, apologized to us, straightened things up. The Investigator, however, smashed the Coleman lantern.

After we cleaned up the glass and gave the requisite lecture about shoes on at all times, we served the pineapple cake, and for the first time the girls ate politely, thanking me for baking it and saying how delicious it was. Then-- camp director seeming overwhelmed-- I took the girl who had been assigned family prayer aside and reminded her. She said, "Prayer? Huh? Whazzat?"

I said, "Oh, you know, all that old tiresome stuff you learned in Primary. Heavenly Father. We Thank Thee. We Ask Thee. In the Name of Jesus Christ Amen." She Got It, and said a lovely, lovely goodnight prayer, after which we sent them off to their tents with a much better feeling.

I folded down the back seats of my Pathfinder, and Gretel and I slept in there with the tailgate propped open, vomit towels drying on the spare tire rack. The longer the sun had been down, the more seriously cold it got. Gretel absolutely could NOT believe that she was being allowed to sleep cuddled up with Mommy, and I had to keep encouraging her to bring her warm doggy body closer. She was very obliging, but curled herself into such a little localized ball that she didn't do a lot of good for my feet. I had my flannel jammies, my sleeping bag, and a fuzzy Mexican blanket, (king size) but still froze most of the night. Of course I was loathe to make the requisite midnight biffy visit, so I suffered from that, too, but the stars and night air were lovely.

At one point Gretel sat bolt upright with her ears pricked and woofed, but when I turned my flashlight out into the campsite I couldn't see anything-- bear, raccoon, skunk, or otherwise that might have awakened her, so I hope it was a puppy dream. I hope.

Camp began to go smoothly. Jill told me the investigator girl had one missionary discussion Saturday and the missionaries told her she could go to camp. Girl seemed doubtful. YW President went to her house Sunday to fellowship the family, met mom, and the mom said, sure, I want her to go! Mom had no questions at all. Duh-oh. Send your kid off into the mountains for a week with a group of strangers she has known for 36 hours??

When we got up in this morning, one of the girls--Angelica-- had a very red bite on the arm. We sent her to the nurse, fed kids (I made cinnamon rolls in the Dutch ovens) and then everyone went off to certification. Nobody had even dared mention the fact that there were no marshmallows for the hot chocolate. Gretel and I made another long leash hike to the meadow, where we got scared by a bull the size of the Eiffel Tower. Eventually the bitten girl returned, saying the nurse said it was a mosquito. HELLOOO? The size of a B29 bomber maybe. She lay down on a lawnchair in the sunshine, shivering, with two sweatshirts and a blanket, and conked out. We fed the girls lunch, Investigator still pretty out of it, not mixing with the other girls. I checked Angelica and her swollen arm was like fire, while her face was like ice, and her clothing was drenched. I hazarded a guess that perhaps we were not dealing with a mosquito but a brown recluse spider, and the Beehive President said, "Yeah, that's the same nurse who told my sister her leg wasn't broken last year!" So I made an executive decision to bring Angelica back down and take her to the ER. We figured Jill would be okay for a few hours alone, since YW President was coming up today.

Angelica seemed very weak. I strapped Gretel into her doggy seatbelt and lay Angelica in the back on my sleeping bag, underneath my fuzzy blanket. It's a three hour drive, and she mostly was passed out. I woke her up at one point to try to get her to call her mom, but couldn't get a network on my cell phone. She said her mom probably wouldn't take her to the doctor anyhow if we could find her at all. This is the mom who was a labor and delivery nurse in Mexico, too, and she should know better. What's with these parents nowadays?

We dropped by my house to leave Gretel in the yard and call the counselor in the bishopric who is a doctor. His receptionist said he was in surgery and we'd probably get faster help at Urgent Care, so I told her to tell him I'd reported in, and off we went.

Trip to the ER much like any other trip to the ER. You know the drill. When we pulled up, the security guards took one look at my car and said, "Wow, who threw up here?" The nerve. While we waited, forever, Angelica told me about Investigator, and stories from what it's like at school with her, and how twisted her whole family is. I really, really really think the missionaries should not teach kids without their parents. Bad idea all around. Eventually, the doctor confirmed spider bite, medicated her, and said she can go back to camp with ice and elevation, so I found her a ride back in the a.m., took her home, and told her to have fun taking a shower.

I'm going to take a shower too, and spend a night in my bed, and then take another shower, call the vet to see about Doggy Dramamine, and eat some real food and maybe even take ANOTHER shower before I go back.

I'm still deciding whether or not to wash my car before I head up the mountain again.

: It seems I will never get everything "done." I keep chipping away at minutiae and for every errand and chore accomplished, two spring up in its place. Hydra like. Hydraulic chores. Last night Rachel and I sat down with our Franklin Planners and could have planned for hours, but we had to quit go to the Book Group. Discussion was on Jacob the Baker, with continuing repercussions from Elie Weisel's Night. The August selection is James Alexander Thom's Follow the River. The September selection will be hosted at my house. Rachel is a little ambivalent because she will be gone off to college by then. The ladies assured her she would have plenty to read once she gets there. Darn it, I need to find the new 800 number for Mistix so I can make campground reservations for the family reunion. The AAA Campbook has the number wrong.

: I just made an online photo album of pictures from the recent Utah trip.

: Today I got up at 4 a.m. to take Rachel to LAX and barely made it back in time for church because of multiple road construction problems on every possible freeway. I can't wait to go get her Wednesday. Sheesh. After church I worked on the ward list until time for a baptism, then attended the baptism. It was really nice and gave me a needed boost. I almost didn't go because I was so tired, but was glad I went, and I only fell asleep once (while one of the missionaries was talking during the interval when the people were changing to dry clothing.) When I got home, Gretel and I walked over to the park, where we caught the last of the Sunday evening John Phillip Sousa concert. I put her on the long leash and let her frisk around, so she had a really good time.

: Today I finished reading Follow the River, had dinner at Jakes TexMex with Marlene Bursell, took the recycling in, and cleaned up in the yard one dumpster worth. Also cleaned the computer room and paid some bills. Marlene and I saw Stephanie Hale at Jakes. They talked shop a little while in line, which really made me feel out of it, since I haven't worked with them in five years.

: Yesterday I spent most of the day on a trip to Los Angeles. Karen Nations went with me and we went to the David Hockney retrospective at LAMOCA. We didn't have time to see much of the rest before it closed and they threw us out, but I was amazed to see an old Jackson Pollack canvas. It is the same painting I bought Dad a jigsaw puzzle of for Christmas one year when I was a little girl-- streaks of every color splashed onto a black background. He never forgave me for buying him the puzzle and muttered the whole time he was putting it together.

I was hoping to buy a poster of a Hockney work, but no such luck. They had no posters whatsoever in the gift shop, can you believe it? The did have some fairly bizarre things, including a sloppily sewn felt handbag for $210! I bought a bumper sticker that says "Don't Be a Jerk."

After the Museum, Karen and I went to Chinatown and had a very nice meal at the Golden Dragon and then windowshopped for a while. We decided that the Los Angeles Chinatown is so much nicer than San Francisco's because it's not a tourist trap. (surprise!) I bought a package of plastic turtles for Atticus and a pack of ginseng gum. I couldn't get Karen to try the gum.

Rachel's flight got in after 9 p.m., but they had lost her luggage in Houston and put it on a later flight so we didn't get away from the airport until almost 11, which put us home at 1 a.m. Karen fell asleep on the way home, but when I opened the sunroof to get some air she jerked into wakefullness and tried to pretend she hadn't been.

Today I opened a new bank account, bought some groceries, and worked on the fishpond. The thing that has been holding the fishpond project up is the partially dead Chinese elm tree, wound with dead grapevines, that leans over it. It was a real job to untangle that mess, clip the dead branches and vines, and drag everything out of the yard. As I suspected, the pond excavation was filled with litter and leaves by the time I was finished. I cleaned it out, laid the underliner and liner and filled it, but I have a little leak somewhere so I will have to investigate tomorrow when it is light. Hooked up the spitter to aquarium tubing using little teeny radiator hose clamps I got from Pioneer Hardware to repair the front porch fountain. It works well, but now another trip to Pioneer Hardware will be necessary.

In the interest of our new and improved financial austerity program I decided to try to freeze fruit juice in ice cube trays and make smoothies in the blender. The pina colada smoothies I made tonight turned out really delicious, so hopefully I'll get Rachel out of the Jamba Juice habit. I meant to buy some tofu to blend into them, but I forgot, so they were perhaps better than future smoothies will be.

: How to Kill a Fish (With apologies to Martha Stewart)

1. Plan his new habitat for months while he lives in a crystal punchbowl on the kitchen counter.

2. Buy only the very best rubber pond liner and spend all weekend dragging and spreading it, pleating around the edges.

3. Lift a lot of heavy bricks to make pond edging. (Be sure to manicure all fingernails first).

4. Learn the Latin names for a lot of sedge plants.

5. Obtain special hose clamps from the auto parts store to connect tubes, filters, and whimsical turtle spitter.

6. Visit the nursery to get waterlillies and Egyptian papyrus.

7. Drain it, take it apart, do it over.

8. Fill with fresh water mixed with aloe vera fish stress reliever and ecological startup powder.

9. Wring yourself off, go into house to announce to fish that his new home is prepared.

10. Find him gasping and floating on his back.

: Not much going on here. I started scrapbooking this summer's pictures. Also I read Driving Mr. Albert which I will now send to Leonard. It's a travelogue, not quite as interesting as those of ours of course, but the author didn't have our raw material. Only Einstein's brain in a Tupperware.

: I've been in Utah for a reunion of my great-grandfather's descendants. The shindig was put on by descendants of Uncle David, and was quite heavy on displaying their talents. Susie criticized me for taking so many pictures of the "talent." Next year, Justin and I are going to be in charge in California. I hope it's as much fun as the last beach bash Justin put on, oh, maybe six years ago. Susanna and I drove up to Bear Lake after her Friday class and camped at Bear Lake with Jonathan and his girls. At the KOA. Right by the highway, and I didn't sleep well. I was trying very hard not to be cranky because we got thoroughly lost trying to find the park where the dinner was and I didn't eat until about 8:30 p.m, and the whole thing messed up my medication schedule. However, Ray Oman sang the dead skunk song, accompanied on his accordian, and that was worth something. I felt better after sleeping in some and taking a hot shower. Breakfast was sweetrolls and canteloupe. There went the blood sugar. Sharon and I ditched the midday trip to the lake and went antiquing through Idaho. We found one hospital auxiliary store in Montpelier where they were having a bag sale-- everything you could stuff in a bag for $5-- so we cleaned up. I also got a counted cross-stitch sampler that says "Dull women have immaculate houses" for $.20. I re-donated the picture frame it was in. I would like to have an immaculate house, but not at the price of being a dull woman.

Back in Provo, it began to dawn upon me that nobody was going to take care of Susanna when she gets her teeth out if I didn't stay. Aly had gone off to Canada to Dave's family; she was my only reliable possibility. Therefore, I changed my ticket for Friday, and I've been mostly following S. around. They had cleaning checks scheduled for today, so I cleaned a bathroom and helped S. clean the stove. Nobody ever taught any of these girls how to clean. My mother would have been appalled. I actually had to clean out the toilet with my pocket knife. The brush I bought at the Orem WalMart did nothing for the buildup. (Note to self: Bleach knife. Run through dishwasher when I get home.) I tried to teach one of Susie's roommates how to get the soap scum off the tub and shower. It was so thick I had them scraping it with a pancake turner. I gave up and went to bed about midnight, leaving them scraping. This morning the girl hadn't even done an adequate job on the washbasin. S. had scraped a lot of scale out of the tub, but she has even not reached the Lower Devonian. I think I'll clean that bathroom tomorrow after her surgery and buy them some of that continuous clean spray stuff. The mystery is, who will use it if I buy it?

: Arrrgh. The big story I wrote about where I am and what I am doing didn't add to my page, and now, no time, no time.

: I forgot to note that I'm writing this at the BYU computer lab-- such a place did not exist when I was a student here. They just had a mainframe.

: Up at dawn to go to the airport. When I got there, I found the incompetent airline reservation agent had booked me for YESTERDAY! Bother. Fortunately for me, a woman had forgotten her relative's baby shower and wanted to change her ticket, so I got her place into Las Vegas; then it was easy to catch a flight to Los Angeles. Came home, greeted pets, took a nap, finished "The Clan of the Cave Bear" (OK, I know it's about 20 years old, but I've only read one of the series -- I don't read much fiction.) I made split pea soup and some white bread and put the sourdough out to do its thing so I can make some sourdough bowls to serve the soup in tomorrow or Sunday. R. and I took Gretel for about a two mile walk. Paid bills. Made a bingo in netscrabble with the word "baddies". Figure that one out. I think I'll eat some freshly baked bread and go to bed. The white Angel's Trumpet is blooming-- or trying to at any rate. Rachel did not give adequate water while I was gone. Not her fault; I suppose I should have demonstrated just how much plants need in this zillion degree weather. I'm worried about the windmill palm.

: Jellybean won't let me out of her sight.

: Sigh. I spent ALL DAY yesterday working on the ward calendar. I think I finally have the thing whipped into some shape where it won't take me so long every week. Between that and cooking -- I've been cooking!-- I only got two scrapbook pages done. I'm in the middle of last Christmas. Last night I made a Star Bright page and a Sydney's First Christmas page. Wesley died inexpliciably while we were at church, so when Gretel and I go to PetsMart today to get her a new 50 lb. bag of dog food, we need to also get a new betta. I think I'm going to hold off on new fish for the pond until I get the tree trimed further and the filters cleaned. Quasimodo is happy in there alone and he is sharking around. I need to also resove the aborted attempt to surround the pond with the occasional planter brick because Gretel just digs them up. Mousetraps? Note to self: Ask Jill Langley to give me some algae snails. Off to the bank and the grocery store.

: I had the darndest thing happen to me. Actually, I was kind of waiting for it to happen, because it happens every year, but this year was different. Every year about this time I get frantic calls from the college, sometimes from three different departments, wanting me to just take a class or two because the students are hanging from the chandeliers and they are too cheap to hire more profs. Well, last night I said yes, so I started back today at my old job, teaching Basic Writing Development for the umpteen zillionth time. I just go in twice a week for two hours. It should be fun. Odella hinted very strongly that maybe I should do a Reading 62 class for her too, but I told her no, I can only do one class. (Never mind the fact that one semester I did Reading 62 full time and h-a-t-e-d it!) Debbie actually asked me to do a math course for Winter Semester. (Who does she think she is kidding????) Anyhow, it was really fun to be back at the college, getting hugs from old friends and seeing the students floundering around campus all lost. After a summer of the campus being like the Twilight Zone, the City picked this week-- the first week of school-- to tear up Mt. Vernon Ave., and have construction and orange cones all over the place. How smart is that? I got fresh asphalt splattered on my car, grrrr. I made arrangements with Cindy and Hillary to have lunch together every Wednesday, and Marlene is going to come over on Tuesdays and Thursdays to crash before her night class, so maybe I won't be too "empty nested" once Rachel leaves. Rachel and I need to plan a trip to San Francisco -- I want to see the Ansel Adams 100th birthday exhibit at SFMOMA and Cats will be there on a revival for a short time next month. The only problem is the best time for Leonardw is the weekend Rachel has to move into her dorm at UC Riverside. I actually would rather go to Aida, but it ends September 1 and I don't know if we can get away that soon.

: Debbie Cantrell, my former office mate from when I worked at the college before talked me into playing in the college band with her, so I borrowed a sax from Tom Jackman, who didn't take it off to BYU with him. I brought it home and played a few scales last night while Gretel howled. Amazingly enough, I remembered how to play the thing, but boy do I get winded quickly, and my whole lower face is s-o-r-e. Faculty get to take classes free, so there are a few of us. We meet from 9:00 to noon on Saturday mornings, plus football games. Last Saturday was audition time and this morning was the first rehearsal. We had the time of our lives mixing with the students and being kids again. The college is providing our uniform, except for black shoes. I have the good fortune to sit next to a girl I had as a student at EBHS last year-- it was fun to see her again, but she sure plays a lot better than I do. After rehearsal, I went to the music store and exchanged the beginner book I had bought for Book III and bought a new ligature and some softer reeds. I also ordered a stand (like the ones they use for jazz bands) so I can leave the instrument sitting out in the living room. I think I'll be more likely to pick it up and practice that way. Fun fun fun! I told the band director -- he's the guy who asked me NOT to audition for HAIR several years back-- about my euphonium from the neighbor's yard sale. He would like me to learn to play it, but I don't know. a) It's all I can do to blow that sax. b) It would probably cost a pretty penny to get it overhauled, and c) I looked through euphonium books at the music store and apparently this one is so old it's entirely different from what they use today. The newer ones have four valves, like a tuba, while mine has only three. One of which is stuck. Therefore, I suppose the fingerings are entirely different, and I've never played a brass instrument anyhow. Old dog, new tricks, you know. I hope to be back up to being good enough for the symphonic wind ensemble by Christmas concert time.

: This is the travelogue of last weekend's trip to San Francisco; I wrote it once before but somehow it went into a black hole instead of onto my weblog. Arrrgh! So here goes again.... I got up very early on Friday, September 7 to finish grading my papers and pay the bills before leaving. This was not, of course, the ideal way to begin a trip, but it had to be done! I wasn't even packed, because I spent Thursday baking and Thursday night with Duane Black trying to hook up our new television (an ordeal that involved searching through the garage and the garden shop by flashlight for a cable that I "thought" I might have but never did find.) This expedition was made scarier by the known presence of black widow spiders, which I have seen in there and which ate me alive last Wednesday night when I was moving lumber from the old fence to the dumpster. Anyhow, I never did find the cable, but Duane– bless his heart– had an extra at home, so we now have a VCR set up and can watch movies. I need to get my Disney Dinosaur videotape back from the Smiths.

Said black widow bites have kept me from sleeping well all week because of the itching and burning, and I am looking forward to cleaning out the garage to the accompaniment of puffs of Raid.

Rachel packed up the brownies and I cut some brugmansia cuttings for Doug and we headed off up I-5 about one p.m., Rachel driving and me grading baseline writing proficiency exams. We made really good time to Santa Nella, where we stopped at Pea Soup Anderson's for a late lunch/early dinner. (Lunner?) I had brought only my digital camera in my rush to pack for the trip, but I convinced Rachel and Red Doggie to pose behind the cutouts of Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee for a picture. One advantage of the digital camera (which doesn't make up for lesser print quality than 35mm, but oh well...) is that one can check one's shots immediately and therefore one doesn't need to expend breath in an effort to convince the subject into posing for a second "just in case" picture. Red Doggie looked especially handsome on the preview, so we hung the photography up and took him in for pea soup.

In the gift shop I bought a signature restaurant china bowl featuring the characters splitting peas on the bottom– always a treat as you get to the bottom of the soup and find the cartoons of Hap-Pea and Pea-Wee staring back at you. I had seen these bowls on previous visits but inexplicably never realized that they were for sale.

We decided to approach the city via Pacheco Pass and through San Jose– always my favorite way to go, and since the 85 freeway now connects Mountain View and Gilroy I really believe it's just as fast as going on the 580 through Livermore and Oakland. I drove up Blood Alley while Rachel napped, but I woke her up for the tour of San Andreas Fault sightings (shades of my long-ago geology class at DeAnza College!) We made a pit stop at the Crystal Springs rest area off the 280, where I took another brugmansia cutting from one that was growing in a pot by the ladies' room door. The plants I bought in Davis after the Benson family reunion this summer (cuttings of which were requested by Doug) are white and pink, but this one growing at Crystal Springs was a pastel yellow. I cut an extra for myself as well, and I hope it grows. Making a mental note that I should not use my pocket knife again, for fear of Datura poisoning, we loaded up our contraband and got to San Francisco, where Leonardr was waiting for us, just at dusk.

I put the cuttings in water in a Clinton/Gore coffee mug and Leonardr entertained us with some new videotapes of P.G. Wodehouse and eventually Leonardw came home and I went to bed after unsuccessfully trying to talk Miles into letting me pet him. You would have think that by now he would remember me between trips.

Even though Miles was certainly adverse to being petted, he was nevertheless willing to keep me awake half the night begging to go out. I didn't let him out because I didn't know if he was allowed out in front [I was sleeping on the couch], so between the spider bites and Miles I passed a dreadful and restless night.

In the morning, Leonardw and I made a project of cutting up brush to fit into the green waste bin while my children went off to the grocery store together. I observed that this was a sort of pleasant and mindless chore and Leonard said, "This reminds me of Dad", which was a pertinent observation, except that I honestly don't remember what Dad used to do with prunings and brush clippings. I can't imagine that he would have composted them, but I suppose that will have to be one of the mysteries pertaining to The Life of Our Parents.

Eventually Leonardw, Rachel and I rode the BART downtown to SFMOMA, where they are staging an centennial celebration exhibition of the work of Ansel Adams. Leonardr declined to come, even for Ansel Adams, as he is still for some reason boycotting SFMOMA. Rachel and I were gratified to learn that the august Mr. Adams was– [oh yeaah] a scrapbooker! I bought the exhibition catalog, which included a limited edition print of Aspens, Dolores River Canyon. This is the part of Colorado where we grew up, so the print has sentimental value as well. I told Leonardw that he may inherit it after I die.

We walked across to the Moscone Center, where we ate at a jook joint and rode the carousel (more pictures!). Some kind of Japanese Friendship celebration was going on in the park, so we sat on the ledge of the fountain eating cheesecake and listening to the musicians. Actually, the set of traditional Japanese music finished right after we sat down, and they brought out a jazz trio. The musicians were still Japanese (or at least two of them were; the drummer was black) but they put on a respectable showing with the jazz. I didn't in reality have cheesecake; I had some kind of concoction called "Chocolate Cloud" which consisted of white and dark chocolate mousse marbled together and piled atop a very spongy ganache and decorated with curled wings of white chocolate. I couldn't eat it all, nor did I get much help from my dining companions, so, regretfully, bye, bye ganache.

On the way to San Jose to see Disney's Beauty and the Beast musical, I entertained Rachel with stories of how, when they opened the Center for Performing Arts with a huge production of Aida, the roof fell in. I recall that my high school friend Kathy Erickson was in the pit playing flute and got plaster in her hair. Rachel became alarmed until I reassured her that no elephants were harmed. The ceiling appears to be stable now, after these many years, and Evita is playing in January and February, so we may have to go back.

Beauty and the Beast was well worth seeing. I especially enjoyed the sets and the costumes. My only quibble was that the "new" songs added for the Broadway production aren't (I think) quite up to the same level as the original music, although I could certainly see the rhetorical rationale for adding more music and dialogue in order to flesh out the characters. It certainly would be a tall order for any composer to patch in more numbers to a beloved score, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

In the morning, Leonardr, Rachel and I rode the BART to Berkeley, where we met Rachel's friend Robert and Leonard's friend Sumana for brunch. Robert had been unable to join us for the theatre because he plays in the band for Cal and there had been a game on Saturday. Actually, Cal played BYU and was trounced quite badly (to the disgust of the San Francisco Chronicle), so we razzed Robert. If I had realized BYU was playing I would have gone to the football game and screamed for them, so it's just as well. We ate at a crepe place, nouvelle California cuisine, very heavy on the pesto. I had never previously supposed it was possible to have too much pesto. After breakfast, Rachel and I rode the BART back home, Leonard stayed with Sumana, and Robert returned to his dorm to do homework.

Upon our return, we found Doug in the back yard potting up various orchid cuttings for me. He had even been to Home Depot to buy shredded bark for them, which was very sweet. We loaded up orchids, luggage, Adams print and ourselves and hit the freeway, stopping only to get gas and an elephant garlic at Casa de Fruita. Elephant garlic, by the way, is not to be recommended; I roasted it for supper and it was quite insipid, so I guess I'll never plant any.

: Today I moved cinder blocks. Lots of them. There are still a lot more to move, and I'm exhausted. I put a lot of them in the back yard to use as stepping stones with ground cover between, and square of them outlining what will be my backyard chessboard. I transplanted the Carolina jessamine, cleaned up some more mess, and laid out the rest of the back yard garden. Tomorrow I need to finish moving blocks and map out where the sprinkler lines go, so we can get Dan Romo and his tractor over here and get this show on the road.

: I am practicing the National Anthem to play tomorrow evening at the football game. (I used to have it memorized , but it's been years!) We are doing the Marine Band's President's Own arrangement, very snappy and rapid tempo with lots of brass and snare. Dr. Martinez expects us to practically stand up and salute and I keep crashing and burning-- trying to play and can't. Kickoff will go on as scheduled against West Valley College, but there will be a memorial service and moment of silence before the game starts. Today during the Church's memorial service-- one of my few chances to sing with the MOTAB and I blew it. I couldn't even sing I was so choked up.

: I finished moving cinder blocks today. Now I have to finish moving dirt.

: I'm going to plant a chitalpa in my front yard -- it blooms 10 months of the year. Gardening friend Jill Langley warns that a chitalpa grows open and leggy, ("ragged" she called it) but that's okay by me because I'm putting iris, daffodils, and lilies under it and they need sun. I went to the nursery today to scope out Japanese maples for the Japanese garden outside my bedroom window and they didn't look so great--not nearly as nice as they were this spring. At the nursery they have them in a lath house with misters, even, and if I put one where I want it in my yard it will be on the hot seat in the western sun. I think I'm going with a brachychiton populenis. Okay, so it won't be an authentic Japanese garden, but this ain't Japan, after all. Does anyone here in California grow peonies? They are rated for my zone, but I don't recall ever seeing them in anyone's yard anywhere in the state, except for the one that Aunt Jeuney transplanted from her sheltered patio in Sunnyvale to my sheltered patio at Comanche Point and Rocky dug it up after its first bloom. So, I'm looking at 7 redwood trees, the chitalpa, the brachychiton, and four fruit trees, in the 15 gallon size at around $50 a pop. Accck, aaaack!

: Got up early today and went to band practice. The football game for tonight is changed to October 13, so I will be able to work in the yard when it cools down this afternoon. I guess I'm playing a little better, but need to graduate to a harder reed now. I made friends with the kid who is playing first. I'm playing second. Sabrina didn't show, and poor Debbie was all alone on tenor. We got our uniforms today and I took Tom's sax to the hospital (Armas Music) to see if they could overhaul it by Thursday night. I won't be able to practice before our public appearance then, but oh well, maybe I'll sound better once the loose felts and bent springs are fixed. They are supposed to call me if they can't get to it by Thursday so that I can come bail it out to use as is if it's not overhauled. Dr. Martinez accused me of playing an "almost" A major instead of B flat concert. Sheesh. I had it pushed in as far as it would go.

: Today I stupidly locked my keys and wallet in the car. Susan McQuerrey took me to lunch after class and then I spent most of the afternoon out in the hot sun waiting for a locksmith. I'd be dangerous if I only had a brain.

: I finished cleaning up in the front yard and then Gretel and I went to White Forest Nursery and bought 25 bags of steer manure. Had a really nice conversation with Charlie there, and Gretel and I explored the nursery while they were loading up our manure. Marlene drove up just as I was getting home, so I made a late lunch and then we went to Cooper's to look for some crape myrtles for her. Everything looked overheated and wilted, so she didn't buy anything. We noticed a paucity of United States flags lining Stockdale Highway (in preparation for the annual business conference) and wondered if someone is stealing them.

: Today we got gates! Yay! The yard is coming along. I got up early and made breakfast for the missionaries, who then spread my manure for me. (Now the neighborhood reeks.) I also got lattices to put up against the west windows and solanum jasmodium to plant to grow up them. That's for tomorrow. Tonight was the annual Bakersfield College athletic barbecue, and I got a free steak dinner for playing in the band. I knew where I was in the music almost all the time, even if I wasn't playing the right notes. My uniform is way too big. Tom's sax is playing better since I took it to the hospital. I had to beg them on bended knee to get it overhauled before tonight since they (Armas Music) are so busy this time of year. They re-glued some pads, replaced some corks, tightened some springs, and did some word I've never heard of-- swinged the neck. The American Heritage Dictionary says that to swinge is an archaic form meaning to punish with blows, thrash, beat, but I seriously doubt Mr. Armas did that to Tom's saxophone.

: How cute is this? I found flannel at JoAnn's that had pizza, leaning towers, and maps of Italy. Annnndddd.... it is on sale! I'm going to make Jonathan some jammies.

: Sigh. I took Rachel off to college yesterday and moved her into her dowm. Listened to Les Mis on the way home. CD #1 has a scratch, and I barely bought it six months ago. The real bummer of the day, however, was the telephone call from Susanna that was waiting on the answering machine. Jamie Manty, from our old ward, is dead of a brain aneurysm. She was only 19 years old, and a lovely and intelligent young lady. I just talked to her and her mom, Judy, at a baptism a couple of weeks ago. I talked to David Rasmussen and Mary Sue Ellsworth about it. Nobody knows when the funeral will be yet. Today I bought a sympathy card and when I got to the car it wasn't in my bag. I retraced my steps and found it on the floor of Albertsons sans envelope. The bagboy offered to go get me another envelope, but he was sick and sniffling, so I told him just stay there and I would get one myself. Then when I got home I dropped the card in the gutter. I also got a call from Bob at American Car Specialty. It seems Rachel's car is overheating because someone tried to patch up a leak with stopleak stuff and the stuff is clotting up the whole cooling system and it could be a very, very big repair. I got a letter from AAA saying we've used up our alottment of service calls for the year. What else can go wrong? I think I need some chocolate.

: I took my baby Gretel to the vet to be spayed this morning. They told me that if I go to the Humane Society, I can get a $20 voucher toward the cost of the spay. Naturally, I went over there. I haven't been to the Humane Society in years and years, but the minute I got out of the car the rack of jackets on the sidewalk flagged me down and said, "Looky, looky!" So I bought a beautiful parka -- new!-- for $25. I got my voucher, but I don't think I made a profit.

: I went to the county fair by myself tonight. I couldn't find anyone who could go with me, and I figured, well, get used to doing stuff alone or sit home. I really wanted to go to the fair this year because I wanted a new cheese grater thingy, but my children are all gone and friends out of commission except for folks who want to go on Sunday or something. I chose tonight to go because Gretel is in the hospital getting spayed, so I wouldn't have to leave her home alone.

Anyhow, I had a really good time because I just visited whatever exhibits I wanted to see, took as long, or as little time as I wanted to, went to the cookware show and bought my grater, and wandered a little. For the first time in my life, I got to go into the Hall of Minerals and look at the dinosaur bones and crystals and stuff because nobody was with me telling me I couldn't and they didn't wanna, etc.

Noticed that my brother in law Garry had won best of show for his peaches (commercial grower.) Go Richardson Farms! Boy they looked good too. I guess I need to go out there one of these days and look hungry.

I found a rusty old horse shoe in the parking lot. Good luck, I suppose, unless the luck is all rusted out of it.

I ate some corn on the cob roasted in its husk at Bubba's Big Red Barn or some such place. It was wonderful! I didn't eat a cinnamon roll this time because I just made a batch yesterday, and I think I've gotten it down to where my homemade ones are better.

: Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I finally found a US flag to buy. At the Havana House Cigarette Cigarette Outlet! I have a pole and bracket for it that Rachel and I bought at Beverly's like two weeks ago, but nobody has had flags. I do own an Argentina flag (courtesy of DH's missionary days) and a Korea flag (they were giving them out at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Olympics) but I don't think it would "fly" to hang one of those out. As soon as my backhoe and tractor guys are finished stirring up dirt in the front yard I guess I'll climb up and mount that bracket. I also got a little stars and stripes grosgrain ribbon cockade at the Democratic Party booth at the county fair. It has a little label that says Proud to be an American and a Democrat. They were giving them away to any woman who is a registered Democrat. I don't know what they were giving to men. I'm just so patriotic!

: Today was a very bad terrible horrible miserable awful no good day. First thing that happened was a friend woke me up banging on my bedroom window because I didn't answer the door. (It was early! She was unannounced! I was asleep!) Then I stepped out on the porch to get the newspaper-- not dressed, no shower, no breakfast, no glasses on, no medicine, had to go to the bathroom, no shoes-- and she reached behind me and slammed the door shut. Whaddya go and do that for? She sez her husband doesn't like the front door to be open. Well excuuuuuse me, it's not HIS front door. So I spent all morning half dressed running around this town while she found a locksmith. He couldn't pick the lock and had to ruin the doorknob drilling holes in it.

Meanwhile, guess who didn't show up to work on the yard. The tractor guys. I couldn't go get Gretel from the vet-- locked out, no money, no car keys, no leash, no pet bed to put her in. By the time I got back in my house of course they were closed for surgery and I had to wait until afternoon. Finally when I did go to get her, I was still out of it and shaking from medicine schedule being messed up and I accidentally shut my finger in the vet hospital door. Now it's blue and throbbing and I'll probably lose a nail.

Then my home teacher was supposed to come at 6 p.m. and I fixed a wonderful dinner, per his request. Chicken Enchilada casserole from scratch, even homemade broth in the sauce. Spanish rice. He never showed up, and I can't unload my pickup (full of mulch) by myself because the pain in my elbows is too much. [I was packed in ice in bed when I got locked out of the house, but then I was locked away from the ice packs!]

Also, I was supposed to take Sara Langley to lunch for her birthday but she had to work and cancelled. The rest of the day I spent installing software on Rachel's new computer, and we all know just how fun that is. Plus I kept having to interrupt myself while doing it because I was making that fancy dinner that nobody came to eat and now I'm stuck with a big pile of food. Bleah. Couldn't find anyone who hadn't eaten yet to come help me eat it. Gretel won't eat and appears to be in pain. Well, no wonder.

The one bright spot of my day was Marlene's afternoon visit. Except even during her visit, the mail came and I got not one, but TWO!!! nasty letters from the bank. They have put a hold on my account for the amount of my disability insurance check until it clears. Up theirs.

I'd take a shower now, but what if someone else comes to the door, finding it open? I'll have to put a new doorknob on. I'd give up and go to bed but I have papers to grade and someone would probably just wake me up again.

Actually, another bright spot. I saw Sam, one of last year's students, at the vet. I was so ratty and unshowered and scragglyhaired he didn't recognize me at first, but he looked good and says he's doing well. He's a big Senior now, polite enough not to tell me I looked like death warmed over. Oh. And I smell like dog vomit.

: Below is the text of the response I sent the editors of this scandal sheet re the referenced article.

http://www.meridianmagazine.com/breakingnews/011004assault.html I really resent the rhetorical tone of this article, as well as the assumption that every single time some lawmakers try to pick up the slack left by the deterioration of the traditional family they are "attacking the family." Most children (in case you don't live in the real world) don't even have a family, or parents who even feed them breakfast in the morning, let alone who teach them morals. Some of these fundamentalist LDS seem to think that if only they could impose their values on everyone, all the world's evils would instantly be solved. Got an announcement: that was Satan's plan too.

I was just getting quite ticked at Governor Davis for his bungling of California's energy crisis, but you can bet he is going to get a call from me now-- in SUPPORT of every one of these bills. I'm going back into his corner, where I'm going to stay (allegorically) until the Affirmation people or the PFLAG people, or whoever it may be drag me out to go support their cause in the next and nearest available Gay Pride Parade, where on one side I will hold the hand of my gay brother while with the other hand I will wave my temple recommend and a large poster of my high school students, who unfortunately know more about sex,drugs, parental abdication of responsibility, and every other societal evil than I ever hoped to know.

Frances Whitney

: Wheee! The tractor guys are done. They ripped out the old dead lawn (thatch was about 6 inches thick!) and scraped and leveled the yard, blending in thetruckload of steer manure the missionaries spread for me. They yanked out the old nonfunctional) sprinkler system, which was patched together with-- can you believe it?--- electrical conduit. Bzzzzzt. They piled all the extra dirt (from fishpond and sidewalk excavation that the YM did) into nicely shaped landscape mounds and placed my new granite boulders thereon. They also hauled off a dump truck load of junque from the back yard.

I think I'm almost finished with throwing away junk, trash, and underbrush now. I'm still cleaning up after the roofers, but just little stuff-- nails, staples, bits of lath and shingle.

When Bro. Romo came to do the job earlier in the week he brought his little Bobcat tractor, and the poor thing just bounced off the earth, it was so packed. So went back home and got his giant backhoe, and today he brought the backhoe back and also his big bulldozer/loader/scraper thingy. It was just like that children's road construction video in our yard all day! I have never seen so much traffic on our street. We've been like a sideshow, with gawkers, lookers, and advice givers. The project has been especially popular with the elementary school children who walk past her on their way home. One little boy told me, "This sure is COOL!" (I think so too, but then I'm Lew Whitney's granddaughter!)

Even deep down, the dirt is just like fine talcum powder, straight out of the desert. Despite the obvious burial of mummies and plastic bags and pieces of old shag carpeting, the land is practically sterile. I have not yet found a single earthworm in my yard. No, not one. You would think that land that would support cockroaches would support worms, wouldn't you. Well, that's gonna change. I've been faithfully blending kitchen scraps in the blender and dumping them out there, and I got 25 bags of mix & mulch from the nursery, along with three more bags of cocoa hulls (so we can smell like chocolate.)

I have a call in to Bro. Alvarez, who owes me some work, but haven't reached him yet. I have the pipe all ready for him to trench for new sprinklers. We may survive this project yet.

: I collapsed all day yesterday. Went this morning and taught my class, and then came home and collapsed some more, reading the Garrison Kiellor novel my darling son sent me. Autographed, to me! no less. I need to get out and work in the yard and also bathe Gretel, but I'm plum tuckered out.

I took pictures of Erika Orr and Adam, her boyfriend, for their wedding invitations, and today I took the roll of film to be developed. I certainly hope they turn out okay.

: Today I went to get my bloodwork done and the line at the lab was clear out the door, so I skipped it. I went to Pioneer Hardware to exchange a bolt I bought to try to repair my desk chair, and visited with Richard Porter, from our old ward, who was there picking up a tool he had special ordered.

Then, I went and taught my class and was observed by Hillary Neumeister, and we planned an in-class baby shower for a student who is expecting a baby on December 3, the day of the first phase of the writing proficiency exam. (She will need to cross her legs.)

After class, another student interviewed me about teaching careers for her counseling class-- I suspect about the 50th time I've been interviewed by a student clutching this questionnaire over the last decade and a half. Then I met Cindy-- uh-- Shepherd uh-- Hare -- uh-- Rock -- uh -- Hubbell, anyhow, Cindy, for lunch in the faculty lunchroom. Cashew chicken salad not to be recommended, but we had a nice visit. Tim, a PE teacher who plays trumpet in the band with me, was there too, as was Susan McQuerrey.

I am busy prewashing flannel to make nursing nightgowns for all the baby showers coming up in my life. It's a nice gift I can put together for not a lot of money.

Drat. I got a letter from the high school district saying they want me to send them a check for $478.38 to cover the expense of my insurance coverage for September and October. I sure hope this isn't going to be a regular expense. I don't know how I'm going to pay it.

Plus, the dishwasher has broken. It's only 8 months old! I suspect the dishwasher knew all my kids were going to be home this weekend, and in the ineffable way of appliances, it decided that this is a good time to take a vacation. I got an appliance repair guy to come yesterday and he spent all day and couldn't fix it. He's coming back in the morning. I sure hope he doesn't charge by the hour for all his hopeless hours.

Other news in the mail-- a wedding invitation from Joel Ellsworth.

: I got my bloodwork done today. There was only one person in line ahead of me, and then a cashier came back and opened up another station so I went over there. Thirty seconds later, there was a line of people behind me clear out the door. Talk about luck! I visited with the office manager about billing problems with the send-out lab, and why I have gotten EOB from my insurance company but not a statement from the alternative send out lab they have been using since I made such a fuss about the incompetence of the old one. Folks, it does do some good to file complaints with the Better Business Bureau!

After blood I spent the day cutting out jammies and directing the electrical work Andy Smith is finishing for me (I already paid him for it months ago) and wishing... and... hoping.... and wishing.... and hoping.... the dishwasher repair guy would enter my life again. I called and the girl in the office had nary a word to say in my behalf. If I don't hear from them tomorrow, I'm going to call Mike James and weep.

Marlene Bursell spent the afternoon with us, talking shop with Susie and letting me pack her torn achilles tendon in ice. We are quite the pair, Marlene and I, with her ice on the foot and my ice on the elbow. Gretel and I got stopped twice on our afternoon walk so people could tell her how beautiful she is. The kids say she is better behaved than she was-- good. I'm glad they notice and I hope it's really true that she's learning how to be a good doggie. She was banished to Outer Darkness while the electrician was here because of the way she kept trying to help him.

My children are all home, Rachel just having arrived. Susie and Leonard and I played Clue (I won one and Leonard won one) and Scrabble (Leonard won, as usual, but I came closer to beating him than I ever have. I mean since he was a three year old genius or so.)

: Today after class I went to White Forest Nursery and picked up a brachychiton, three coast redwoods, two trumpet vines, a pink jasimine, a lemon, a grapefruit, a navel orange, and a Valencia orange. Then Gretel and I went back and we got a load of mulch. I spent the afternoon putting sprinkler pipe in the trenches my kids (mostly Leonard!) dug for me. The neighbor says she thinks it's going to look better than the cactus. (Ya think so?) My email is not working and Inreach says they don't know when it will be back. I can receive but not send. Oh well.

: Here is my questionnaire for the Iron Rod Group. 1. What kind of things do you have in and on your bedside table? Right now? Lamp, alarm clock, water glass (on a doily crocheted by my friend Nancy) a "Blue Elf" aloe (NOT aloe vera) plant in a small Chinese pot, picture frame with my kids in it, dispenser full of Mary Kay Hydrating Hand and Body Lotion, a bottle of itch gel and a tube of itch cream (black widow bites), a pattern for men's pajamas, size XL, Tad Callister's book on the Atonement, a dog biscuit, and a key that I don't know where it goes.

2. Describe autumn in your area of the world. My favorite season. All the roses (not mine; I don't have any... yet...) are again going full blast, the weather has cooled off (mid-70s now), but the leaves haven't fallen yet. My yard is entirely dug up ready for sprinkler pipes and fall planting. I hauled home three coast redwoods, a brachychiton, four citrus, a jasminium polyanthum, and two campsis radicans from the nursery this afternoon. In addition,I have three hydrangeas, two clemantis, a huckleberry, a daylily, a crocus collection (100 bulbs)! and a "daffodil grab bag" (50 bulbs!) that came in the mail on Saturday sitting in the dining room and six lycoris of various genera in the refrigerator.

3. If you were a season which one would you be? I suppose again autumn-- cf. Shakespeare's Sonnet LXXIII.

4. Do you decorate the fall season/holidays in your home? If so, how? I have a pumpkin (uncarved) plopped on my doorstep. The kids bought it when they came to visit me this weekend. I used to have a door wreath that I could change with the holidays, and last year it had been on Labor Day through the holidays and the entire year until the NEXT Christmas, whereupon it stayed Christmas until Easter and I took it down and threw it away. I'm a pretty busy person.

5. What volunteer or service experiences have you had lately? Uhhh... my first meeting as a member of the Ward Scout Committee was last night. Zehr interesante.

6. Are you fearful of world conditions right now? Nope. Armageddon... bring it on!

: Yesterday, I ran all the pipe for the sprinkler systems in the front and side yards and installed my antique crusher chain on posts around the curve at the northeast corner of the yard. I also sold my red truck to Marlene and Chuck Bursell. (I'm sad, sad, sad to see it go.)

I attended a baby shower for Michelle (Cumberworth) Calderon, but had to give her an IOU for the nightgown I am making her since my hands were too sore to sew. By the end of the day that I had to take one of the pain pills Dr. Patel gave me after my hysterectomy. I never took even one of them, post surgery, but my elbow is in such agony I couldn't sleep. Just for the record, how badly does my arm hurt? As bad as a broken bone. As a matter of fact, I've never taken painkillers for broken bones, either, or for childbirth, but boy I needed it last night.

Today I had lunch after class with Hillary Neumeister and then I bought a different kind of elbow brace and another [different kind of] tendon pressurizer at Big 5. (Now, doesn't that sound like some sort of Adolph's one would sprinkle on a pot roast?)

Marlene and Chuck came over to get the truck and we did the DMV stuff and changed the license plates over. I retained my BYU Alumni frame, but it is really thrashed. Truth be told, the license plates are thrashed too, but oh well. I baked some brownies to take to the Boy Scouts tonight but I burned them. (Drat-- I was baking a pan for me too!) Axeman came to visit me, bringing his lovely niece Lisa instead of Edward, and then I went to the Scout troop meeting to do a merit badge clinic in environmental science. Seven boys were in attendance: Davin Amundsen, Joey Nations, Joseph DeLuna, Joe Cumberworth, Travis Whitten, Curtis Smith, and Matt Mitchell. We did three of the requirements and I made them commit to goals for all the others. This, I am pleased to report, I did without pulling any teeth although I thought at times I would have to. They are to bring me a recycling survey by Sunday and a report on an endangered species by next week; then, some other time I will do the oil spill lab with them. The habitat study I think they will need to do on a campout, so maybe I can talk the Scoutmaster into letting me and Gretel come camping with them. Ya think? I believe the particulate lab, the soil erosion study, and the ecosystem they can do at home, but I suspect I'll have to ride some of them to get it done. Matthew claims he did all this in third grade, and I'm sure he did, but if he can't produce his work, he is going to have to do another report. Travis sez he already has this merit badge. Yeah, right. Like he already had his Gospel in Action Award and already had been baptized. Then he's been granted early admission to MIT, too. I've been THERE before. Working with these Boy Scouts, I wonder how I survived teaching junior high all those years. Well, they are a cute group, and they should be allowed to blow off a little steam at Scouts.

The book I ordered for tomorrow night's book discussion from Amazon.com has not arrived. Supposedly it was shipped long ago. It's Joseph Ellis's The Founding Brothers, and rumor has it that it reads like a textbook, not like a novel. That's okay... I don't read that many novels anyhow, but it looks like I won't read this book at all for the discussion because it didn't come today. Karen Nations phoned me in a panic wanting discussion suggestions, but I couldn't help her because of no book. I suggested we just discuss a little, consume something chocolate, and continue the same book for next month.

Also tonight I hugged Karen Olson and we talked at some length about how her (deceased) son Trevor must be feeling about Barry Bonds's home run record. I wonder how that works, in the next life? Surely he would be allowed just a little peek at the Giants, if only because his hero is doing so well. The Giants, as the world knows, and as Justin, the other alto sax player keeps reminding me, dropped out of playoff contention long ago, and I am highly disappointed. Hillary is getting out her old Yankees shirt, so I had to stick my tongue out at her.

: I spent all day on the yard, testing pipe for leaks and filling in trenches. I am almost finished leveling the area I've been calling "Japanese Garden. " It's probably going to turn out to be more a Mediterranean Courtyard garden, what with this climate zone and all. I transplanted the weeping crabapple to the corner, planted the brachychiton, and rigged the lattices so that they can't blow or tip over. (Using framing clips and a 10 foot length of pressure treated 4X6, which features a caution label that says the State of California knows this product has arsenic in it.) Well, nobody better go out there and chew on the top of the block wall! I planted the clemantis against the lattice, but they are only tiny sprouts right now. I think I have finally gotten the front porch fountain to work, but I need to go to Pioneer in the morning to get more hose clamps por las dudas. My arm is just killing me.

: Today I spread mulch, etc., etc., and gave up and went to Home Depot and bought myself a little mini-tiller. It's very lightweight and should be easy to use. The box even claims it's easy! However, like many other things, assembly required.

I called Parks and complained about my order. When I redid the landscape on San Emidio, they didn't send my irises and explained to me that they always ship to the cold winter areas of the nation first. So, while they were shipping to the cold winter areas, they were using up their inventory and I kept getting little postcards in the mail saying such-and-so-variety is out of stock. Today when I opened my Parks order, I had one lousy iris and the rest backordered. I told the customer service rep that I don't think it's fair that I should be penalized for living in California, especially since I placed my order in July! She said, "Well, it works both ways because the same thing happens to people in Vermont in the springtime!" I expressed my displeasure with that marketing strategy and she flagged my iris order to be shipped out on Monday.

I went to Dr. Amin and my viral load is down again. He took x-rays of both of my arms to see why I'm in pain. Not broken, not significant arthritis, so it must be a tendon injury. He said to put warm packs on it, and here I've been using ice for months. After Dr. Amin I went to Michaels and JoAnns to take advantage of sales of certain holiday decor items. I'm going to make stockings and a tree skirt out of the scraps from the upholstery.

: I am just beat. I took a look at the tiller and decided machines of that ilk should be left to folks with a Y chromosomes, so I took it back yesterday and bought a spading fork and a prong cultivator instead. With which I did half of the front yard. I planted redwood trees, hydrangeas, and various bulbs. Then I drowned the whole thing, using a portable sprinkler and a hose, since Mike James hasn't made it over to connect the sprinkler plumbing yet. The trees look good.

I didn't go to play saxophone at the football game last night because of my arm, but I read in the paper that we won. I did stay up until 1 a.m. grading all my papers; fortunately, it is the time change and so I gained an hour. It seems such a pity to gain an hour and use it grading papers.

I came home from church after Sacrament Meeting and took a very long nap, and now I am sorry because the house fairies didn't clean it while I was sleeping. Did I mention we have lots of mud tracked in?

I bought a different kind of betta food at CLS and they just love it. They really turn into sharks when they see me coming past their bowls. Also at CLS, I bought a sort of mouse/hamster/guinea pig replication that has a vibrating mechanism it it. You pull its little tail out and it sits and chitters, supposedly making life exciting for your cat. Well, my cats are very blase and it takes a lot more than a chittering fake fur blob to get them interested. They can't be bothered even with real rodents. Such pillow denters. However, Gretel found it and was carrying it around in her mouth, so it occurred to me that I could pull the tail and make it chitter while she had it in her mouth, and that would bring some excitement into the household. It did.

: "It's been a quiet day in " Baketown. I cleaned house some in the a.m., then went and taught my class. My order came in from Wanda Boardman's Pampered Chef party. Yay! No more struggling with a half-melted egg separator. The PC one is metal and won't "travel" in the dishwasher. (IF I ever have a dishwasher again--no word from Mike James!) The citrus peeler is exactly like the one you win free at Tupperware parties. It's a racket, I tell you. The frosting spreader came with a recipe for butter pecan fudge, which I gave to Wanda and Midge Ladd, since they seemed interested in making it and I am not.

After work I went by Henley's to pick up my repaired camera flash and was waited upon by the Head Cheese himself, who slashed my repair bill in half. Whattaguy. Then I visited with Jill Langley. I took her a set of the Christmas ornaments I made and I petted Bartholomew, who sat on me and purred and purred.

Came home and fell apart the rest of the afternoon. I don't know why I'm so tired-- perhaps the pain killers are wiping me out still. I am back to cleaning house now. It looks like rain--the first of the season.

: Strange day. The person I sold the red truck to rolled it. Bye bye red truck.

I spent most of the day cleaning the house because it was raining--the first storm of the season. Gretel had no idea what to do! She was freaked.

I knew I was in trouble when Robert Harmon called me to arrange for the Bishop to visit me tonight. He wants me to be Ward Activities Chairperson. Aaaaack! Aaaaack! Christmas party coming up on December 14.

: I've had a lot of trick or treaters so far. I've been through four bags of Snickers bars. My first one was little Peter Handy, dressed as Bam-Bam, who came over to my neighborhood especially to see me. I went as Mary Kay with Pink Hair to work and to Tarjiay today, but ditched the costume this afternoon because I was itchy, and now I'm wearing sweats. That's even scarier. Rachel bought a Dracula costume for the Gretel, and she was helping me answer the door for a while until she got the idea that the kids had c-a-n-d-y in the bags and I had to put her in the back yard. I don't have any decorations up or anything, but I'm having a good time grading papers and answering the door. I missed all this when I lived in the country; I'm glad I don't live there anymore.

: We had a very interesting discussion in class about the grammatical implications of the difference between the imperfect tense in Spanish and the present perfect tense in English.

When I was in college, there were reference books for sale in the bookstore: 501 Spanish Verbs, Fully Conjugated In All The Tenses! 501 French Verbs, Fully Conjugated In All The Tenses! 501 German Verbs, Fully Conjugated In All The Tenses! If one were not sure of the conjugation, one could look it up before using it in one's term paper. There is no English equivalent reference book, but it occurs to me that one would be a nice security blanket for ESL students.

Bakersfield College is no longer going to have ESL students, instead; they will be known by some tongue twisting and very forgettable acronym which supposedly will be more PC.

: Some of the kids who came trick or treating -- the same ones who smashed my pumpkin-- were eating pomegranites, which they said they had obtained "from a tree." I wish I had a pomegranite. It occurs to me that I know where a tree is, hanging over a fence into the back alley. Maybe I'll take the dog for a walk and go liberate one, unless it's the very tree those kids already raided.

There is evidence of ancient folklore that Eve ate a pomegranite in the Garden of Eden, not an apple. Probably unbeknownst to the Church filmmakers, who nevertheless picked a pomegranite tree for the starring role in the temple film [but glued plastic fruit to it.] I'm talking about the old temple film that they don't show anymore, not the current one, which is a vast improvement, though nowadays the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is played by an actor pertaining to the genus Malus. Shrubbery, shrubbery. So many of our beliefs are culturally filtered.

: Today I tested the remainder of the sprinkler pipes and found two leaks under pressure in the pipe that will carry the drip to the chitalpa tree. Replaced the joints. I put the sprinkler heads down the streetside line and began to bury the pipe. Mike PROMISES to come do plumbing tomorrow, 9 a.m.

Ruth Davis came over with Clayton to borrow my earth auger and my DeWalt drill. When I got the drill out, I discovered the cord has been puppyized. Ruth says she has some electrical tape and will fix it. Clayton had a good time playing hide and seek among the bullrushes with Quasimodo.

Every day when I go out, there are more sprouts reminiscent of the one Susanna got in her salad at Buchart Gardens poking their little heads up. They look like zinnia seedlings at first, but then they begin to grow like trees. I pulled them all out again this afternoon.

After a day of using a product called Decal-it to decalize Italic printing of Latin names of plants, I have decided it would be faster and more efficient to learn calligraphy and just do it on the rocks directly with a paint pen. I had to make the names on the computer (first finding the font, among my 3000 or so,) then flip the text, print it out and put six layers of the decal plasticy stuff, letting it dry between each coat. Now it has to dry for six hours, soak in water for 30 minutes, and then I have to peel the paper off before I have a decal. Even after all that, I don't know how it will go on a rock.

I did, however, make a decal that says "Si hoc legere scis nimium eruitionis habes" to podge onto the exterior wall of the garage. Highly experimental.

: Hooray! We have a dishwasher once again! Mike is supposed to come back in the morning and start putting the sprinkler valves in. I have twelve count 'em twelve lines running of a faucet in the side yard and I will have to tunnel under the sidewalk for each one. Gretel, however, already started the tunnel for me.

I made a calligraphy rock that says Acer negundo 'flamingo' and it looks okay, so I guess I'll go that route rather than keep trying to make the decals.

: Today I picked up Karen Nations and Kim Cornett and we went over to Beardsley School to watch Leeann Olson play volleball. I think she was a little embarassed but pleased to have all the "aunties" show up at her game. She played well and agressively, and I can't wait to watch her play basketball (starts in January.) "Our" team lost, but I took a lot of pictures, including one really good portrait of her standing in her sweaty uniform holding a volleyball under her arm. I'm looking forward to getting them developed.

After the game, we went with Karen Olson to lunch at Renee's for Karen Nations's birthday. Of course we had to spend a lot of time in Room With a View next door. The two grannies had a ball looking at all the cute baby things they have for sale in there. I asked KO if she thought I would become that silly when I am a grandma. Her reply: "I don't know, you are already plenty silly."

When I got home, Mike was here installing the gas log in the fireplace. It looks great! When he was finished, Gretel and I went out to hike on the Kern River Parkway and take the recycling in. Then, I had dinner with the Thiessens and the missionaries and we played a game of Scrabble, which I won due to a devious bingo over a double word score. Bro. Theiessen tried to cheat and play the word "roven" as in "We'll go no more aroven by the light of the moon", so I challenged him on it. This is the first time in my life I've ever had someone not back down when I challenged a word, but it wasn't in the dictionary, so I got the point and he lost his turn. It seems to me I should have had all the points he would have had if his word had been right, but we didn't know what the rule is and the rule book is missing from my Scrabble game.

: So. Yesterday I was sustained and set apart as Ward Activities Chairperson. This means I have to throw together a Christmas party on December 14.

Today I substituted for Odella Johnson, taught my class, came home, ate salad, went over to the Orrs so Erika could cut my hair, came home,worked in yard. I killed a huge black widow by hitting her with a hammer, got bit by something, moved a lot of lumber, and made more planter boxes for the garden. I worked out there until it got dark. Tomorrow I have to pick up dog poop and finish cleaning up after the roofers, and if I can, transplant the gelsenium and plant the citrus trees. I do have my papers all graded for Wednesday.

: Today I taught my class, went to Michaels to use my 40% off coupon on a picture frame for the family picture we are having taken in a couple of weeks, went to Vons and bought some [I suspect closeout] Pyrex refrigerator dishes on Vons Club. The question now is, should I dump the Tupperware?

I raked up all extraneous material in the back yard and the YM came and dug sprinkler trenches. Yay! Almost done! Except another box came from Parks. More to plant. Busy busy.

: The calligraphy is going well. I got the names of all the irises put onto rocks so I can plant them in the morning. Both irises and rocks. Park's Giant Rainbow of Iris Collection! (There's a redundancy in there... or a couple of them....) I planted all the lycoris and did their rocks. This was AFTER I dug mulch into mounds, filled in the rest of the sprinkler trenches in front, and dumped several wheelbarrow loads of old Bermuda grass, sticks, and roots. I did the biggest rock in my "collection" (not to be confused with any collections arriving via mail from Parks) for the sequoia sempervirens. I'm only going to label one of them. I figure people can surmise it's the same species of tree by the process of deduction. Or induction. Or association. Or they can just lookit the durn things.

Woohoo! We have a Cost Plus World Market here now, and today was the grand opening. They had a $10 coupon in the paper, and advertised a papasan chair for $35, so I went and bought one for my deck. Everyone in town was there for the grand opening. On the down side, House2Home has filed for bankruptcy, and will be closing their wonderful store.

: Rachel is home; we had a bridal shower for her friend Erika yesterday and went to Stake Conference. We also went to the House2Home bankruptcy sale and bought a porch glider and a dozen bags of cocoa mulch.

Mike came and started hooking up the sprinklers and I spread landscape weed cloth (bought from the Lumberjack bankruptcy sale) and bark. Tomorrow a dump truck full of sand arrives.

: Today I tunnelled under a sidewalk with eight lines of Sch. 40 PVC (with the help of Gretel). Then I planted all the citrus trees and ran sprinkler pipe for them and for the vegetable-garden-to-be. Then it started raining. Is now pouring.

Time to walk the talk. I said I got a puppy so I'd have to walk a couple miles every day no matter what the weather. Grrrrr.

I am reading Joseph Ellis's The Founding Brothers, which my brother Robert also picked up. The difference is that Robert chose to listen to the author reading this book. The college professor droning on and on really made Robert numb during his long commute. I don't think I would enjoy hearing the book read aloud at all, but it's a real page turner for me as a silent read. Funny thing. My book group friends didn't like it at all. I suppose they don't go in for all that analytical stuff. Reading this book has made me hungry to read the recent biography of Franklin.

: Mummy redux. I think I dug up another grave while digging holes for the Valencia orange tree. This one was ancient-- vintage Upper Whackotian, perhaps. "It" had been wrapped in a sheet of that bamboo slat fence cover stuff, which has long ago disintegrated. Remaining are the wire mesh woven ties that once held the bamboo together, and a bale of six inch long bamboo splits. No body, just black earth. And, hooray (!) one earthworm. Lots and lots of bamboo-- the stuff must be indestructable. Chinese fingernail torture, anyone?

: Now the neighbors all know I'm crazy. They all came out on their porches to watch me and Cheryl Settlemeyer drag a huge pile of trimmed tree branches home two blocks from the neighbor who pruned his trees. We're going to use them to decorate for the church Christmas party.

: Whoooeeeee! The phenochryst-bearing shale drill core sample has resurfaced!!!! I have been heartbroken since 1985 because I couldn't find it in Dad's rock collection and I thought perhaps Annetta had thrown it away before she forked over the rocks. But today, sorting through the boxes, I found it.

: The elders came into ward council last week and asked everyone to take a challenge to pray for a missionary opportunity. When I did, I kept thinking of the tree service guy, so this morning I called his number out of the yellow pages.

Bummer. His wife answered (all hysterical) and said he had suddenly collapsed with cancer all through and is not expected to make it. So I talked to her all morning and told her that my DH had died when my kids were in elementary school and if she ever wants someone to listen to her or give her support, call me. I gave her my name and number. She said "You are the first person who has ever offered support to me." They have four kids. He is in the VA hospital in Los Angeles indefinitely, so I told her I would put his name in the temple there to get prayed for and he could see the temple from the hospital.

I invited her to the ward Christmas party but she said she's taking the kids down to see him that day. Poor thing, not only dealing with all this but having to deal with the VA red tape too. Plus the veterans' cemetery is right next to the hospital, so guess what they get to see all the time?

Then I was telling this experience to Terry Thiessen and he says he knows this tree service guy, knows where he lives, and it's in our ward! He has a reversing phone directory, so he's going to double check the address with the phone. So maybe we can do something for this family.

I HATE cancer. I think they should do away with it.

: Today I more or less finished "cleaning" more or less the garage and storage room more or less. It was a two day project that left me filthy. I have a very very big pile of yard sale stuff, but didn't make it to Rosalie's yard sale with it today.

My car is still stuffed full of white poinsettias and tulle from Erika Orr's wedding.

Also today I made three huge pans of make-ahead mashed potato recipe and put them in the freezer. This will feed 75 people. The potato bag said the bag would make 225 servings, and that is WITHOUT all the Make Ahead super secret ingredients (mostly fattening) that I added. Bleah. So, in the morning, off to Smart and Final to buy two more bags of potato flakes and more sour cream.

: I'm also making a gazillon ice cubes with a cranberry and a mint leaf frozen within each.

: Today I built a manger. Where is Saint Joseph the Carpenter when you need him?

: We have finally survived the Ward Christmas Party. Winter Wonderland. The menu was make-ahead-mashed potatoes (made by me and heated up by everyone else), spiral cut glazed ham, green beans, cranberry sauce, roll and butter, and eclair cake (also made by me.) We had an horsdourve table with a social hour featuring Cheryl Settlemeyer's holiday cheese balls, veggie trays with ranch dressing, and Aunt Jeuney's Hot Buttered Cranberry Punch. Served from crystal bowls into crystal cups.

The decorations were dead tree branches sprayed white, with silver glitter balls, silver tinsel, silver snowflakes, white snowflakes, and white, silver, and blue star garlands. Around the trees we put lots of white plastic left over from Erika Orr's wedding, and we hung giant glittery styrofoam snowflakes from the ceiling. Centerpieces were flowerpots planted with purple pansies, white pansies, white stock, candytuft, dusty miller, and festuca glauca . The pots on the serving table also contained silver helichrysum and pink and white cyclamens. Pots were wrapped in white trash bags, then in snowman patterned cellophane, and tied with blue shimmer tulle. Lots of silver mesh bows around, and frosted eucalyptus wreaths on the doors and front of the serving table. Santa sat in a purple armchair under a white garden arch decorated with branches, balls, snowflakes, and star garland. On the wall behind him we hung Jill Langley's Mary Engelbreit Father Christmas banner, and on the wall behind the serving table we hung my snowman banner. White tablecloths, silverware tied in white napkins with blue ribbon and silver jingle bells. Also on the tables were program booklets containing the script and music for the songs, as well as recipes and a thought from the bishop. We had these with colored pencils five to a table in little decorated Christmas bags (decorated by Ethan Ledbetter with glitter stars. Tess Orr stapled the booklets and then Tess and Ethan filled 200 souffle cups with cranberry sauce.)

We set the manger scene (live people) up on risers with dark blue backdrop, and borrowed Andy Smith's electrician spotlight to shine through the backdrop onto the manger, so it was surrounded with blue light.

The manger itself was built by me out of scraps from the neighbor's tree branches and lined with Gretel's sheepskin. A lot of the screws poked through, so we didn't put the baby in the manger. Otherwise, we would have gotten to skip 30 years of New Testament history, going straight from the stable to the crucifixion.

Cheryl Settlemeyer wrote a nice (short) program of scriptures and carols into a Spotlight Dinner Theatre, which was well performed and well received.

The Hardings did a really good job as Kitchen Gestapo. Erin Tarjan and Danielle Torgersen really pulled the laboring oar in the kitchen as well, as did Lori Moncur. We had planned for the YM to serve, but had to recruit the Young Women too, and a lot of them had attitudes and I had to kick some butt. When Santa arrived, he made the bishop sit on his lap and tell whether or not he'd been a good boy. Then the bishop received a present-- a 2002 In-N-Out T Shirt-- and all the little kids sat on his lap and got a candy cane. The reason for the T Shirt is In-N-Out is where the bishop always has to stop on the way home from temple trips--he doesn't want to spend the $$$ to go anywhere else.

The EQ did a fantastic job of the cleanup, and Duane Black hauled all the branches to the dump the next day. I had the brainstorm to call Pres. Waite and tell him we were leaving the chairs and tables set up for their party, so that was a win/win for both of us. (Although the custodians complained.)

Then today at church the 5th Ward RSPres screamed at me for using "their" tablecloths. They don't even need them until the 22nd, and Doris Jackman took them right home and laundered them and had them back today, but she was still really po'd at me. Said, "Didn't you think to ASK???" I said, no it never occurred to me to ask, since all the furnishings of the building belong to everyone share and share alike. Sheesh. Doris had to clorox them twice even to get them decent. We're going to make our own tablecloths to use and keep them hidden away.

We had 268 chairs set up, and every one of them was occupied. That doesn't include those of us who never sat down. I bought enough green beans for 300, and we used them all. I think it was the biggest party Second Ward ever had.

: Here are my answers to the questionnaire for the Iron Rod Group:

1. What's on your wish list for Christmas? I've been eyeing an enormous antique chemical beaker engraved with a crest design and "Paris". A Very Large Box has appeared, which I have been told not to shake, so I'm hopeful.

2. What Christmas goodies are a must in your household? Swedish Pepparkokkar (Don't know if I spelled it right!)

3. What is your traditional Christmas dinner? We always go to my inlaws, whose idea of a good time is a deli tray from Costco. Bleah. By the time that ordeal is over, I don't have what it takes to make any real food. Usually we just pick at whatever and play board games.

4. What makes a good Christmas card? Lots of news from the people I love.

5. Are you ready for Christmas? No. I was in charge of the Christmas party at church and made dinner for 300, then the very next morning I had to take in a stray girl and we haven't even gotten a tree yet. Things are really hectic around here. This girl is a more or less permanent arrangement, so we are having to do some serious shuffling around.

6. Who gets to be Santa at your house? Whaddya mean? Isn't it the real Santa who comes?

: Today I borrowed eight-year-old Michelle Bean and we went to see Monsters Inc and then to Hometown Buffet for dinner. The house still needs cleaning, but we have trees.

: My family and I went to see The Fellowship of the Ring last night, and we didn't have a single complaint about the movie adaptation. We thought it was just great. The backdrops were just as I had imagined them in my head, or even more so. The casting was excellent. The girls, of course, were panting over Legolas, and I can't WAIT to see the actor who plays Aragorn crowned in his majesty in 2003. (Ok, I'll stop drooling on the keyboard now....)

We had a really "circular" discussion about what happens next because Sumana hasn't read the trilogy and Leonard forbade us to spoil it for her, and Rachel was pretty frustrated because she can't remember the ending-- she was too young when we read it aloud, LOL. I overheard one man at the ending saying "That's cold, man, that's a dirty trick!" I guess he'll have to come back next year, tee hee.

I've spent the last two days in the kitchen, and the house is all decorated.

The reason I've posted nothing recently (well, one of the reasons) is that Gretel got hit by a car. It was just awful. The girls were walking her and the leash broke and she ran into the street. She has a couple of cracked ribs and a concussion, and right now it's hard to breath because of the injury to her nose, but she's going to be OK. I hope she learned to stay with Mommy. /p/ We did the rushing to the vet thing, running red lights, everyone covered with blood, girls sobbing. Not fun, not fun. I'm really, really worried about how I'll pay the bill.

When something like that happens, you really appreciate the small, normal things.

Jabberwocky for 2001

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© 2001-2006 Frances Whitney.