Sunday, January 14, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: Falling Edition

My house and I have been falling to pieces, but I think things are finally starting to fall into place. This past week, I've been fighting a cold, which really isn't a big deal, except the symptoms are buggy and get in the way of things like sleeping and breathing. Fortunately, I won the battle and the war is drawing to a close.

1. I'm thankful it was just a cold. So many people seem to have been put out of commission with the flu this year; if I had to choose between a cold and the flu, I'd definitely pick a cold.

2. I'm thankful for Zicam. Of course, I have no idea whether it actually shortened the duration of my cold, but I'm on the mend and will gladly give Zicam the credit.

While I've been fighting a cold, I've been trying to orchestrate a kitchen demolition  and other home remodeling projects. The demolition is just about complete, which means that pretty soon progress will look like progress and not chaos!

3. I'm thankful for the contractor who tore out the old cabinets and pantry and will start repairing drywall next week.


Photo: A mostly-demolished kitchen, with some cabinets resting on the floor, copper pipes running from ceiling to floor, and light switches dangling on electrical wires from the ceiling
4. I'm thankful for the plumbers who moved some pipes from the old pantry wall to a remaining wall, and installed a gas line for the stove.


Photo: On the left, a photo that shows two copper pipes going into the kitchen floor. On the right, the pipes have been removed.

5. I'm thankful for the electricians who moved switches and outlets, and replaced and installed fixtures. 


Photo: The new light fixture on my living room ceiling. The circular, black metal fixture is flush-mounted, with three candalabra lights. Around the fixture are diamond-shaped panes of glass.
6. I'm thankful for designers and fabricators, who will soon turn our selections into new cabinets and counter tops.


Photo: A piece of natural maple with a dark glaze against a slab of dark granite
7. I'm thankful for ksl.com, whose classified ads are more popular than craigslist here in Utah. Though we don't have a fireplace, I wanted to find a mantle to create a focal point on the wall. I didn't want something new--I wanted one with character--and I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg. After looking off and on for months, I finally found one that met my requirements. It had been an original fixture in a house built in 1951, and it had some architectural detail. John and I picked it up today. Right now it is just leaning against the wall, waiting patiently for its turn in this remodeling process. 


Photo: A white fireplace mantle, with columns on either side of the opening, and a rectangular raised panel in the middle underneath the shelf
Though I have spent many hours at the house this week, much of my role has been supervisory.

8. I'm thankful for my oldest daughter playing Words with Friends with me. Though we don't have internet at the house yet, I could access the game on my phone. My daughter is a formidable opponent!

9. I'm thankful for a little radio, which allowed me to listen to the funeral proceedings for Thomas S. Monson. I had considered driving up to Salt Lake City to attend in person, but due to my cold I decided to stay away. 

10. As always, I am thankful for John. We recently were called to work as family history consultants for our ward. We enjoy serving together, and are thankful for the training we are receiving. Unrelated to family history, now that my cold is done, we are anxious to get back on the hiking trails! (I'm thankful for crampons, which make even icy trails easily navigable.)

Photo: A handsome John and a rather bedraggled me pose for a selfie on a snowy, icy trail

That wraps up my 10+ things of thankful for this week. What are you thankful for? Join in at the Ten Things of Thankful blog, and see what others are listing.




Pin It

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I'm Not Really a General Contractor

I'm a mom of five grown children; I know how to multi-task. When the kids were little, before each Mother's Day, John would read them a poem called, "Hats Off to Mother." The poem talked about some of the various roles that moms play, and it was accompanied by paper cutouts of a mother and the different hats she wore. 

I have felt like a taxi driver, a nurse, a chef, and other professions that the poem mentioned. One job the poem did not have is that of general contractor. 

John and I are having some changes made to our house prior to moving into it, and I'm finding myself struggling to coordinate everything. However, stressful though the job can be, it is also rather fun to pick colors and materials, and to see the changes occurring. Nothing is complete yet, but I thought I'd share some in-progress photos with you. 

One of the biggest changes we are making is in the kitchen. We chose to make changes to improve the functionality and to put our own touches on it, but it certainly would have served its purpose if we had kept it as-is. (Houses do not have to be updated to be homes!) Here are some before photos:


Photo: The kitchen as it came with the house. The cabinets are light maple and stop shy of the ceiling. There is a desk area on the left, with a sheet-rocked, closet-style pantry next to it. A peninsula extends from the right past the center of the room. Also on the right, is a triangular-shaped cabinet (a "Utah cabinet," I'm told) which juts out oddly from the wall.
Photo: Another photo of the kitchen, taken from a slightly different angle. Starting at the left and moving around the kitchen, we find: the desk area, the pantry, space for a refrigerator, a corner section of counter top, the stove, a tiny section of counter top, a corner sink (hard to see in the photo), more counter top, then the peninsula. The kitchen, minus the desk area, is about 10 feet by 10 feet.
Photo: The open stove door and the open dishwasher door touch. If someone were standing at the sink, that person would be trapped. (However, they might not mind because two big corner windows provide a great view of the outside.)
This next photo more accurately shows the current state of the kitchen: 

Photo: A nearly-empty kitchen, with most of the cabinets removed. Copper plumbing pipes run exposed from floor to ceiling, and electrical switches dangle from wires from the ceiling.
It will be a while yet before I can post an "after" photo. However, John and I did pick out granite this week for the counters. Here's a sneak peak of the cabinet stain sample against the granite:

Photo:  My hand holds a small piece of natural maple wood (with a dark Van Dyke glaze) against a dark "Aspen" granite slab
Tomorrow the plumber is coming to move the refrigerator water line. (He already moved the exposed copper pipes earlier this week.) On Thursday, the electrician is going to take care of the dangling light switches, and complete some other tasks. Once the demo is finished, we can start putting the kitchen back together. I'm excited to see the new look, and to take off my hard hat! 

Have you survived remodeling? Do you have any tips or advice?


Pin It

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Ten Things of Thankful: Prophet Edition

An informal portrait of President Thomas S. Monson combined with a quote by him: “Unless we lose ourselves in service … there is little purpose to our own lives.”
Photo: Thomas S. Monson, as a younger man, sits in a leather chair. A quote by him is spelled out on the photo: "Unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives." Source


The theme of this post has been percolating in my mind for a few days. I believe that most of my readers recognize that I am a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This past week, Thomas S. Monson, the prophet and president of the church, passed away. I am, of course, saddened that I will no longer be able to hear him speak at future conferences, but I also recognize he had been failing in health and now he can be reunited with his dear wife, who preceded him in death. I also know that church leadership continues to run smoothly and a new prophet will be called soon. 

While I know that some of my readers are also members of the LDS church, I know that many are not. From comments you have made on my blog, to private conversations we have had on Facebook or via email or text, I appreciate the sincere questions and respect that has been given. You are proof positive that it is possible for people to disagree on deeply-held beliefs--religious, political, social, or other--and yet be friendly, kind, and courteous. A difference of opinion does not negate friendship; when we seek the admirable traits in each other, our lives are enriched. 

Understandably, when Thomas S. Monson died, media outlets took note. Most of the reports were as one would expect. NPR tweeted, "Thomas S. Monson, president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has died at the age of 90." CNN reported, "Thomas S. Monson, Mormon church president, has died at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah, according to a statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Politicians from both sides of the aisle also took to Twitter. Al Gore wrote, "I send my condolences to the LDS Church and to the family of its leader, Thomas Monson." The White House issued a statement: "Melania and I are deeply saddened by the death of Thomas S. Monson, a beloved President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." 

All of those statements were respectful and to-the-point. Another major newspaper took a different approach, tweeting not just the fact that he died, but spending precious characters defining his service in a negative light. This publication's main gripe seemed to be that the church did not change its doctrine during President Monson's tenure. I understand that not everyone holds the same beliefs, but I'm saddened that a report of a death took a negative slant. 

This Ten Things of Thankful post will be my response to that newspaper's negativity: positive counsel given by Thomas S. Monson--counsel I am thankful for, that I think applies to us all (regardless of religious affiliation), and advice which I strive to obey.

1. "Let us speak to others with love and respect, ever keeping our language clean and avoiding words or comments that would wound or offend. May we follow the example of the Savior, who spoke with tolerance and kindness throughout His ministry." (Be an Example and a Light, October 2015 General Conference)

2. "I am confident there are within our sphere of influence those who are lonely, those who are ill, and those who feel discouraged. Ours is the opportunity to help them and to lift their spirits. The Savior brought hope to the hopeless and strength to the weak. He healed the sick; He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. Throughout His ministry He reached out in charity to any in need. As we emulate His example, we will bless lives, including our own." (Be an Example and a Light, October 2015 General Conference)

3. ". . .let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. And as we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home." (Kindness, Charity, and Love, April 2017 General Conference)

4. "May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong." (Choices, April 2016 General Conference)

5. "We cannot truly love God if we do not love our fellow travelers on this mortal journey." (Love--the Essence of the Gospel, April 2014 General Conference.) 

6. President Monson had a gift for storytelling. This next item is a video clip, so you can appreciate his talent, as he teaches the concept of "judge not." 


 7. "We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude." (The Divine Gift of Gratitude, October 2010 General Conference)

8. "Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved." (Finding Joy in the Journey, October 2008 General Conference)

9. "If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry." (School Thy Feelings, O My Brother, October 2009 General Conference)

10. Finally, I'll end with another video clip. President Monson leaves behind a legacy of service, and this clip shows how his example has spread.


Did any of those quotes ring true to you? 

What are you thankful for this week? Please join us at The Ten Things of Thankful blog, and link your own post. 





Pin It

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy 101th Birthday, Grandma!

Even as a girl, I knew my grandma would become a centenarian. Today she turns 101 years old. Though she is not physically imposing, and Alzheimer's is taking a toll on her mind now, she has always been physically and mentally strong. It was impossible to imagine that she wouldn't make it to the 100 mark. Now she has done that, plus one year.

When I was in high school, our family moved, and Grandma was the one who loaded up our 100-pound barrels of wheat. (I remember my dad coming out to move them and being surprised to find them already moved.) She was always doing things like that: trying cartwheels in her living room when she was in her 70's, to see if she remembered how;  and attending water aerobics classes well into her 80's. Not only did she stay physically active, she also kept her mind busy. As a senior, she learned how to play the piano and use a computer.

She lived through the Great Depression, moved from the Ozarks in Arkansas to the Central Valley in California, then finally settled in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. She worked hard, both in and out of the home, serving as a secretary to a state senator, and still managing the 100-acre farm with my grandpa. In the early 1950's, she checked out a book about electrical wiring from the library and then successfully wired the upstairs bedrooms in the farmhouse--thus providing light for my mom and my uncle. 

Photo: Grandma, wearing a coat and hat, smiles (with eyes closed) for the camera on her wedding day. In the background are two sedans, parked facing each other. 

Though (or maybe because) she kept busy and worked hard, she always wore a smile on her face. She is a gentle soul, and her kind heart belies her fierce determination to accomplish whatever task is ahead of her. Many people, both in and out of the family, have benefited from her service. She visited "old people" who were younger than she when they moved into nursing homes, and helped them not feel so lonely. She crocheted blankets--baby and full-size--for her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and who knows how many other individuals. She did extensive family history work. She served in the church and was a temple worker. Her neighbors knew and loved her. 

Photo: Grandma and her brother, Lucas, sit together in her house. They are both in their older years in this photo.

A few years ago, when her house and many of her things were sold, the most prized possessions for buyers were those items on which she had carefully printed her name. Friends and neighbors wanted old Tupperware containers, not because they needed more plastic ware, but because they loved seeing her name on the bottom. Those containers (and other items) reminded them of her loving service. The individuals who purchased them had probably seen those items before, when Grandma had brought over dinner when her neighbors were sick, or had taken a potluck dish to the church party.

She has given me a wonderful example of aging gracefully, which basically is this: Ignore the number of candles on the cake, do what needs to be done, don't be afraid to try new things, stay busy, and serve others. 

Happy birthday, Grandma!

Photo: Me, Grandma, and my sister at Grandma's 100th birthday party last year

What are your memories of your grandparents or other relatives?
Pin It

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Thomas S. Monson: Leaving a Legacy of Love

I woke up this morning to the news that Thomas S. Monson, Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died last night. Though President Monson's health has been declining, I'm still saddened that I will no longer be able to hear him speak at General Conference. He was a gentle man with a sense of humor, great story-telling skills, and a particularly soft heart for the lonely, infirm, and elderly. 




President Monson, you will be missed, but I imagine you are rejoicing now in being reunited with your beloved wife. 


Pin It