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Look carefully...at the seemingly small moments...in the constant shaping of souls.- Neal A.Maxwell

a piece of dad
     As of this past month 23-year old J is engaged, 19-year old C is gainfully employed and attending college and 15-year old B has his driver's learner's permit.  A lot has changed in the 9 years since I first wrote here.  Some things, however, will never change.  One of which is my love for family - immediate and extended, blood and non-blood.
     Tonight my brother and I were reminiscing about the past.  I mentioned a letter our dad had written to me 29 years ago that had a lasting affect on me.  After hanging up with my brother I pulled the letter out to read again.  Full of humor, trivia and advice here, in part, is a piece of my dad:

Thanksgiving Day 1988

Dear Chris,

     My mother still has an account on which I get statements showing one cent interest per quarter.  I wrote them and told them I thought we had finally closed it out after much hassle.  I closed…”I can tell the account is still alive and well and living in your files.  Surely someone there has a handbook of instructions which tells how to close an account.  Please ask around, thank you and good luck.”

  You cannot joke an enemy into a friend, but you may joke a friend into an enemy.

     I wonder if I would have had my sarcastic dream that very night had I not written that letter.  I dreamed your mom was in church and shaking hands with the bishop as she entered the chapel.  She said to him, “While sitting in church last Sunday we could see how families certainly can be together FOREVER.” – referring to our meeting of the previous Sunday which we thought would never end.  Humor in dreams interests me, how did I come up with that and then give the lines to her?

  Good jests bite like lambs, not like dogs.

 Saturday morning

      I just finished reading a story about General Dean.  He was captured during the Korean war.  Being a general he was kept separate and away from other American prisoners.  For three years he was kept with and watched over by Korean soldiers.  After his release, one of his observations was: things which used to make him angry ceased to do so.  One being they would kick him with bare feet to get him to wake up, move or get his attention.  Living closely with them he saw they kicked one another to get each others attention.  He realized he was not being treated differently than they treated each other in this regard.  It was their culture, their way of doing things.

     Chris...Individuals and families have different personalities just like nations...Don’t interpret others response to you by your own way of dealing with people...

  Do not break your shin on a stool that is not in your way.

      Not all people have the gift of perceiving how others may feel.  You are one, Eric is another.  He asked grandma if she minded living all alone and if she were afraid at night – and he is only eight.  I think I care, but sometimes too slowly to react...

He that pities another, remembers himself.

     We spent most of Thanksgiving Day watching my sister's grandbaby play and talk, she never cried.  She liked your brother N, grabbed his face and pounded on it with great excitement.  She has dimples and laughs a lot.  I felt guilty knowing how my sister would have loved to have been with us.  Our Thanksgiving snow storm dropped 20” in the mountains and was preceded by a strong south wind which swept our streets clean.  I guess the leaves ended up at the elementary school.

     Last night we went to the symphony.  Beethoven’s Symphony #5 was the last piece of the evening and the reason I selected the series I did.  The second piece – Concerto for Violin and Orchestra – was composed in 1980 and really had some good sounds, we liked it.  The person next to your mother was the kind whose personal space laps over into that of those around them.  I could sense it right off even with your mom acting as a buffer.  Right off she put hand cream on along with all her thrashing around.  It had a strong odor.  I thought of leaning over and asking her if she was planning to floss soon.  We traded seats at the half so your mom could have a break.

  She that would please all and herself too, undertakes what she cannot do.

      Your brother G must have gotten food poisoning Thanksgiving, we don’t think it is the flu.  Your mom and I were up cleaning carpet, floor and walls and unplugging toilets after him...

It is not enough to aim, you must hit.

And in closing out this anthology of news, observations and pioneer proverbs…

…My son is my son ‘til he hath got him a wife;But my daughter is my daughter all the days of her life.

 We all love you very much, Dad


mom's recipe

     Growing up I did not like my mom's homemade mac and cheese, I preferred the boxed stuff.  What was I thinking?  Now I would love to have mom's recipe.  She's gone so I can't ask her for it and it is not in her filebox.  Going through an old Betty Crocker cookbook I thought I found the recipe, and maybe I did.  I'm allergic to onions so those were omitted.  We didn't have any paprika so no to that.  We don't use white bread so I made crumbs from 9-grain bread.  We generally don't use a lot of added salt and because the butter and cheese were both salted I did not add the 2 tsps the recipe called for.  B is allergic to the coloring in cheddar cheese so I used mozzarella  (in retrospect Monterey Jack would have been much better).  The boys liked the dinner okay, me not so much.  Like I said, I may have found the right recipe but....

     I have had a political blog simmering inside for some time now.  It was initially quite lengthy but has been mentally rewritten and revised until it has been condensed to this:  I love my country.  I love the principles on which it was founded.  I am grateful we have the privilege to each vote our conscience as defined individually, person by person.  And yet as we vote as individuals, and regardless of who we choose to vote for, it is possible to remain united as family, as friends, as neighbors, as coworkers...as a nation - if we so choose, person by person.


      I heard the phrase recently "true and honest heart."  I have heard the phrase many times in the past but this last time it struck  a chord with me.  "What exactly," I wondered, "is a 'true and honest heart'"?  Using the topical guide in my bible I read some of the scriptures listed under "true."  Then I googled "define true."  This part of the definition gave me new insight, "bring (an object, wheel, or other construction) into the exact shape, alignment, or position required."  A true heart, at least in part, is one that is in alignment, defined as "a position of agreement or alliance." and looking up alliance, "a state of of being joined or associated. "


     I had chemical patch testing done recently.  8 patches each containing 10 different chemicals was placed on my back for 48 hours.  Allergic reactions were read 24 hours after the patches were removed.  The substances that caused a reaction were typed into a database and a list of products "safe" me was produced.  I had to change literally every product I was using.  Laundry detergent, dish detergent, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, make-up, tissue paper...  I already have a lengthy list of foods I have to avoid.  I laughed and joked with the Dr. as we went over the results but as the reality of the ramifications of the results settled in I admit to a feeling of despondency.  The list of safe products is narrow and, in many cases, expensive.  Going out to eat was already a challenge now any travel will be a challenge.  In addition there is no guarantee that my list of allergies won't continue to grow.    I fully acknowledge that there are hardships much more difficult than mine unfortunately , however, that knowledge did not negate my despondency.  


     I do yoga in the morning while listening to LDS conference talks (a practice that highly amuses 19-year old C).  I have been doing the same yoga poses for a long time.  So long, in fact, they have become routine and not very beneficial.  Last week I added some new exercises.  One of them requires putting your feet together and standing on tiptoe for 5-10 seconds repeated 5 times.  I could not stand on tiptoe.  I had to walk and even then I was wobbly and I would get mildly nauseous from the lack of balance.
     This morning I listened to Elder Bednar's Oct16 talk "If Ye Had Known Me"  ( https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/if-ye-had-known-me?lang=eng)  while I exercised.  His talk really spoke to me, so much that I listened to it 3 times.  In it he said:
"The exercise of faith in Jesus Christ is relying upon His merits, mercy, and grace.  We begin to come to know the Savior as we arouse our spiritual faculties and experiment upon His teachings, even until we can give place in our souls for a portion of His words.  As our faith in the Lord increases, we trust in Him and have confidence in His power to redeem, heal, and strengthen us." 

     This morning I was able to stand still on tiptoe in perfect balance for about 3 seconds before I started wobbling.  I had already realized that I was out of balance in my life and that was the root cause of despondency.  It was nice to see balance being restored physically and to start to understand, with Christ, how to restore it spiritually.

     I have been reading textbooks in preparation for the time I go back to school.  I am currently reading "The Making of a Therapist a Practical Guide for the Inner Journey" by Louis Cozolino.  Thus far it has been interesting food for thought.  On page 135 Coconino states: "Given the way our brains process information, we can never know others unalloyed by our own inner worlds.  Everyone we know is partly a reflection of ourselves."  There are times I am content to read by myself, other times I long for discussion.  This is an instance in which the latter is the case.

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