Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Melba Miller: August 14, 1911 - April 26, 2011

My grandma passed away early this morning.  I got the call a little after 6am.  We were all gathered around her bed last night, taking turns stroking her forehead, holding her hand, whispering in her ear the things we wanted her to carry with her.  It was a sweet time.  As my sister in law put it: the ultimate family home evening.

I told her that Grandpa would come for her and she should look for him.  He would be anxious to see her and that she was so, so beautiful.  As far under as she was, that got a reaction from her.  I told her about the fun she would have with her 8 sisters and 2 brothers who were also waiting for her, and I wanted her to tell her sister Onie that she was my favorite.  We talked about the good times, and repeated funny stories.  I played her Enya on my iPod - kind of like angels singing.
She just couldn't seem to leave us just then.  A couple of times I thought she was gone, but then she came back.  My aunt was exhausted and so we all went home.  And so, this morning when all was quiet and it was just my aunt and the nurse, Grandma was finally able to go meet her sweet husband and have a joyful reunion with him after 34 years apart.  I keep trying to imagine that reunion - and I know it was joyful - but I'm having a hard time with it.  Selfish, I know.
Melba Miller loved life.  She loved people in all shapes and forms.  She never met a stranger.  She found fun in the mundane as well as the unusual.  She loved to dance, and was so light on her feet.  She wore her little white Keds with everything.  She was on a bowling team until she was 90-something.  She was a tickler of small children's arms.  She was a knitter of Christmas slippers and a seamstress of prom dresses.  She understood all when it seemed no one else did.  And when the great grandchildren came and grew, she extended her generous and exuberant spirit to them.  How many great grandchildren are lucky enough to have grown up knowing, loving, and being loved by their great grandmother?  And her great great grandchildren will grow up having baby pictures of them being held by one of the most amazing women ever created.

It was sweet to see the devotion and love shown by my children this past week towards Grandma.  She totally deserved it, and in better days she would have loved the attention.  Luckily, she was the recipient of their attention quite often.  To say they adored her would be an understatement.  This was the woman who traveled to Hawaii in her 90s to see Katie graduate from BYUH.  She wouldn't have missed it.

 And a few years later into her 90's she went to Utah to see Scott graduate from UVU.  Only natural, in her mind.  Miss it?  Never.  Her enthusiasm was contagious, and she hated to leave any kind of party.
And now she's moved on to another family gathering.  We're happy for her - we really are.  But our lives are suddenly poorer being deprived of her amazing spirit, and it's left us a little flat.  I long to sit by her once more and hold her hand.  I would give anything to see her whipping up a little something in the kitchen again, or serving my dad his extra big piece of pie.  She took care of her men, that's for sure.  She's been a most excellent example to me in every way.  Work hard, look for the good in everything, love your family.  And laugh.  A lot.
I found two verses that reminded me so of her.  The first:

Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you.
'Twas heaven to be here with you, I loved you so.
 - Isla Pascal Richardson

And my favorite:

I'm not going to die, I'm going home
like a shooting star.
 - Sojourner Truth

You go, Grandma.  You are well loved by so many and you'll be sorely missed.  Watch over us, and whisper your good advice to us in our sleep.  And save me a seat next to you so you can tickle my arm.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Week's End: Lexi Turns Five & Easter Wishes

Today was the closing of the office day.  So surreal.  Teresa, my former coworker, came in and brought us hot chocolate and cupcakes.  Strawberry lemonade ones - oh my they were good!  She and her bunch moved to their new office last week, and I've missed her humor and fun so much.  So then it was down to my other coworker, Olga, me, and my boss.  We all just kind of skimmed through the morning - too hard to say what we really wanted to.  Carey (my boss) went out and picked up lunch for all of us - a farewell Cafe Rio lunch.  Grilled salmon tacos will never taste the same.  Olga packed up and left around 2pm.  Carey and I helped her out to her car and I cried when she drove off.  She's 5 foot nothing and I'm going to miss her huge presence and bright smile so much.  I spent the rest of the day quietly finishing up immediate work, and about 4:00 I started to close up.  Unplug the phone and laptop.  Undo the labyrinth of cords.  I don't know how I'm ever going to get it all put back together again.  Somehow, some way, I'm supposed to program the digital phone in such a way that it will work.  I have grave misgivings.
Carey helped me haul my crap down to my tiny tiny car.  I was sincerely afraid the Miata wouldn't hold it all, but it turns out I'm a pretty good space planner and it all *just* fit.  He gave me a big hug, thanked me for everything, and I drove away before I could cry.  I really really like that man.  It's been such a pleasure working for him these past 9 years.  He wore jeans, a white shirt and hurrache sandals into work today.  He ended up walking barefoot around the office, and I thought the world was coming to an end. (You'd have to know Carey to know, under normal circumstances, he would NEVER be barefoot in the office.  I would, but not him.  Elegant man.  Very Tommy Bahamas.)  And then he was scrubbing around under my desk undoing all of the cords that held my laptop system together because he knew my arthritic old joints would hurt if I did it.  A gentleman to the end in a dusty white shirt.
And now I'm home feeling weird.  L is in Utah with Andrew and I'm lonely.  I didn't really feel like being with anyone tonight, but I'm lonely at the same time.  So I'm blogging.

Tomorrow is Lexi's 5th birthday.  I had a wonderful conversation with her on the phone tonight.  She'd gotten her Prince and Princess dolls that I'd sent, and Rex said she was kissing them.  Is there anything better than knowing you've just delighted one of the lights of your life?  She told me that I spoil her, and I told her that's what makes grandmas the most happy.  Here is my sweet birthday girl:
What I wouldn't give to be at her party tomorrow!  I'll be at Mia's this year, so I'll make a point of being at Lexi's next year.  I wish her all the love and happiness one Mema can wish.  She sounded excited about her friends coming to her party, and she invited me to come.  If only I could...
Matthew got on the phone and told me all about something.  Not sure what but I loved it.  He is excited for the Easter Bunny and has his basket ready.  He is going to give preschool a try and will probably love it.
Next, Grandma.  Seriously, the woman is a cat on her 8th life.  Wednesday I left her bedside in tears.  I was afraid she wouldn't see the end of the week, she was that weak.  I called Thursday evening on my way home from work to see how she was doing, and my aunt said "Well you won't believe this..."  Turns out my sister in law, Becky, went to visit and took her little grandson Cash with her.  Cash was sitting on her lap at Grandmas's bedside.  Grandma woke up and started playing with him.  Before too long she was sitting up saying she was hungry and wanted some applesauce.  So she had some applesauce, and visited with everyone for awhile.  Next time she sees me, she'll probably slap me upside the head for crying and telling her it was OK to leave if she needed to.  (Oh the drama...)  I guess the moral to this story is if you know someone on their last legs, try bringing in a cute baby, or maybe a puppy.  They may just snap out of it.  She's still very weak and tired.  I understand that she didn't eat or drink much today, but her pipes are still functioning, if you get my meaning.  My dad gave her a blessing a few nights ago and told her she would recover enough to enjoy her food.  I thought that was an odd thing to say, but now I understand.  I shouldn't have let my faith lag.  I don't know why that's so hard to remember, or so easy to forget, but it seems to be the human way.  Oh how I love this woman.  I'm so glad we're granted more time with her.  She is a rare jewel.  A shooting star, scattering her stardust over her family as long as I can remember.  We may have the 100th birthday celebration yet.
And speaking of family, I have to share a couple more pictures with you that I just love:
My favorite picture to date of Mia - she is rockin' that hat!

Daddy and Hayden.  Sweet...

I wish you all a very happy and blessed Easter holiday.  Scott and Ashley will come over for breakfast, church, and then dinner afterward.  L will be home from Utah in the early afternoon, and all will be right with my world again.  Tomorrow I'll shop and make preparations for dinner.  Visit Grandma.  Try to get up the energy to make the bunny cake - a Williams Sonoma mold that takes more energy to make and decorate than I think I've got, but maybe I'll find a hidden resource tomorrow.  Take the time to sit and think of the true meaning of Easter, and feel grateful for that knowledge and the love our Savior feels for each one of us.  
Wake up on Easter morning feeling rested and happy.  Eat a jelly bean or two or three.  It's Easter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

I have to apologize again for the lapse.  Life, it seems, has gone nuts.  The trip to San Francisco went well. I had more fun with Sue than I thought imaginable.  She fed me, entertained me, and we yakked for hours. So good for the soul.  And, if that weren't enough, when husband Dave got home he took us both out to dinner at a wonderful little local Italian restaurant.  I heart both of them for such kindness, and can't wait for them to come here so I can reciprocate!  I felt rested and ready for the next day: Interview Day.
Dave and I drove into the city where he escorted me and my too-big suitcase over to my interview office, wished me well, and strode off the two blocks to his own office.  I was almost 3 hours early so I had a lot of sitting time.  At last it was time, and the interviews went well.  Out the door, caught a cab, and off to the airport.  Again, about a 3 hour wait, but I was starving so it was good to have plenty of time to grab something to eat.  And I had my Kindle so I could read.  My eyes were fried, and I was a little head achey, but finally it was time to board and head home.    And it was SO GOOD to see L and get home.  I couldn't get into bed fast enough that night!
And, since then, I feel like everything has been non-stop, and it's hard to feel rested.  Saturday was spent fetching boxes, a file cabinet, a chair, and my printer from work.  Hauling it all upstairs and trying to find places to stuff everything took most of the evening.  I'm still having a hard time remembering where I put everything!  And Sunday...oooooh, the aching back from all the lifting and bending!  (I need to toughen up)
Back to work today but it was so sad.  Half of the office folk have moved out already and offices and much of the space is empty and lonely.  It's not a place I want to be anymore, and it'll be good when the week is over and we can get out of there.
On the way home I called my aunt to see if I could come visit her and my grandma.  I was told that Grandma took a bad turn last night and isn't doing well.  Hospice had been called.  She is having trouble breathing.  L and I went over there together as soon as we got home.  My mom and dad were there, and soon one of my brothers and his wife came also.  L and my dad gave my grandma a blessing, and I think she will rest easier tonight.  A hospital bed arrived and when we left Grandma was tucked into it, propped up, and was breathing easier.  She seemed more alert.  Earlier, she was really going in and out, and seemed to be looking at things beyond that only she could see.  It was heartbreaking to see her laboring so hard to breathe, and not being able to get comfortable, so it was a relief to get her into the hospital bed where she felt better.  I'm trying not to be selfish and will her to stay, although it makes me really sad to think of her not here.  Hopefully she has a few more lives left yet, and will feel better tomorrow.
Andrew has taken a manic turn for the worse and had to be hospitalized again.  They're having a hard time getting him to take his meds this time.  He's normally very compliant so this is something new.  L will fly back up to Utah on Friday to see him and encourage him to cooperate with the doctors.  The lesson learned this time is that he really cannot handle too much stress.  He was finishing the semester at school and was looking forward to moving to a "normal" complex.  Too much stress and change -  and it triggered a manic episode.  A hard lesson.  Slower changes next time, and one at a time.  It's hard to see him like this, and it's hard to see L coping with him like this.  I don't know who I feel worse for.
So it's been a roller coaster.  You can see why I haven't written - I didn't know where to start.  This week will be a busy one with Andrew, Grandma, closing the office and L traveling and coming back for Easter dinner.  And cooking Easter dinner.
Lexi turns 5 this weekend, and we've sent her a 4 Disney Princess and Prince dolls for her enjoyment.  Seems she likes having the Princesses, but has been annoyed that she didn't have the Princes as well.  I had quite a conversation with her on the phone Sunday. She told me she wanted a "human Ariel doll."  ??? Translate that to an Ariel doll that has *feet* instead of *fins*  Done.   She sounded so grown up that I missed her tremendously.  I so wish I could be at her party - maybe next year, as well as a visit sooner rather than later.
Katie, Mia and Hayden are home from Puerto Rico.  Planning Mia's 5th birthday and packing for Boston.  A good time was had by all in PR.  I'll end by attaching some pictures Katie took of their vacation.  They are enough to help me relax in the midst of all of life's current chaos.

The whole family

I love this one of Mia - looks like a print ad

If I could be on a Puerto Rican beach right now, I'd jump for joy too!


And finally, Hayden with a big smile. She loved the beach!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Polishing The Exterior, Preparing The Interior

This is the week.  The INTERVIEW WEEK.  And I don't mind telling you that I've worked myself up into a little panic over it.  Some of it resolved on Saturday when I made a pilgrimage to Loft and found that the entire store - including sale items - was 30% off.  I was kind of hoping to find a dress, but I found out that I won't be wearing any of their dresses until sometime in the future when I'm several pounds less fluffy.  (Wow.  That wasn't pretty...)  I tried on many things, got hot and frustrated in the little dressing room, and ended up finding a couple of things that will go with a skirt I already have.  The thing I'm most excited about is a black cropped jacket, originally $90, marked down to $69, which I then got for about $50.  Beautifully made and all lined.  So I've got my interview ensemble.
I also got my hairs and nails did.  So my coif is trimmed and shiny, the color is fresh, and my nails are perfect.  I got one of those shellac manicures - the polish lasts for 2 weeks without chipping.  It's awesome.  It's also a little pricey but this week I need the extra confidence boost.
I keep getting ideas for things to add to my interview presentation - so typical that they're coming to me last minute - my best ideas ALWAYS come to me in the 11th hour.  I don't know why, but it seems to be the way I'm wired.  I'm feeling pretty good about the whole thing, but I think that's what's scaring me.  You know, like I'll get there and realize I forgot something really crucial while I was feeling so good about being me.  I kept hearing about everyone putting together a little package to present and that's when I started to sweat.  I mean, I was just going to go and wing it.  When I said that to L he almost fell down laughing, and said it was so me.  So now that I'm copying everyone else and putting together a package, I'm doubting my own good sense and judgement, which has led to my present case of nerves.
*just breathe*
Luckily, I have a dear friend who lives in the Bay Area who invited me to spend the day Wednesday and then overnight at her house.  It will be a welcome distraction and will keep me from picking at my manicure.  Hopefully it will keep me from busting out a big zit on my face the night before the interview - the cruelest twist of random fate.  A good friend, laughter, a good night's sleep - all of these are part of the recipe for remaining calm and blemish free.  I'm starting to be grateful for all of those piano recitals, church talks, and countless other nerve wracking experiences through the years.  I think because of those things, I'm a little more confident facing the big boys up in San Francisco.  I mean, if I can memorize an entire sonatina and play it for a judge, or speak in front of an entire congregation on charity, surely, surely I can speak intelligently about a job I've had for the past 9 years.  Right?  *nodding vigorously*  Right.  Yeah - I hope I don't turn into an idiot, too.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Mixed Bag of Salt Lake Goodness

I'm back from my big conference weekend in Salt Lake City!  It was a whirlwind trip, full of fun stuff, 1 disappointment, and more fun stuff.  We drove, which may have been mistake #1.  We made really good time, but apparently we missed the memo about the major construction going on all along the freeway in Provo/Orem.  L and Andrew needed to be in Salt Lake for an 8:30 Lakers'Jazz game.  I was supposed to meet my niece for dinner.  We didn't get to the hotel until 8:00pm.  I had to cancel dinner with my niece as it was long past dinnertime, and the boys just threw their stuff into the room and ran off to their game.  It was a little bit lonely until I remembered about room service.  Good food that comes to you - in this case a steak salad and creme brulee.  Enjoyed all by myself.  And after dinner?  A good book I'd downloaded on the way to Utah on my Kindle.  (LOVE my Kindle!)  I called Jess and we made plans for the next day.  I was so excited!
On Saturday morning we discovered that the outlet in the bathroom didn't work.  No hair drying would go on in there.  I was about 1/4 of the way through drying my hair out in the bedroom when L came in and said we had to change rooms right then.  What the?!?  So while I blew my hair dry in my undies (too much information?) L went in and out moving our stuff from our room to the next room.  We had to change right then because they were completely booked that night and we needed to vacate our room with the bad outlet so someone else could be in it.  Whatever.  After that little snafu, I waited for Jess to come pick me up while the boys left me alone again to go on a hike on Y mountain.
I have to tell you all that Jess is AWESOME.  I took her picture, but pictures don't come close to doing her justice.  She has the most amazing green eyes.  And she's nice, and down to earth, and everything I value in a friend.  I highly recommend seeking her out and meeting her.

Cute haircut too, don't you think?  I loved it!  I was doubly lucky in that she brought her daughter, Emma, to hang out with us.  We went to an outdoor mall called The Gateway.  We walked and talked and shopped.  Emma is quite the shopper and it was fun looking at all the bling she kept loving.

Emma is a shopping force, and I loved every minute spent in her company.  Beauty and brains - that's Emma.  Well, it's Jess, too, actually.  We had lunch, and then Jess took me to The Sweet Tooth Fairy for a cupcake - a VaNiela cupcake with chocolate frosting for me.  Soooo delicious!  We took Emma to a park for a little while so she could burn off some energy and then we just went to Jess's house and talked some more.  I learned so much about her and, well - she's just amazing.  It was an afternoon well spent, and I hope I can do it again next time I'm in her neck of the woods.
That night the snowstorm hit.  With a vengeance.  The power went out and we discovered just around midnight that our neighbors in the next room seemed to be U of U students.  Lots of them.  In and out.  Yelling and laughing and in and out and slamming doors and tromping up stairs because the elevators didn't work.  And yelling some more because the halls were pitch black.  We asked them once to be quiet.  Didn't work.  At 3am the power went back on and we were able to call the front desk.  They said they'd handle it.  They didn't.  At 3:30 am we called again.  They finally sent security up and things quieted down by 4am.  At 6am my alarm went off to get up and get ready for conference.  L groaned and said to go back to bed - we weren't going.  I felt half sick so I obeyed.  At 8:00 the other person we were possibly meeting for conference called to say he was definitely going.  So L got up.  I didn't have time to get ready by that point.  So I watched it on TV.  That was the major disappointment - that I didn't go to the actual conference.  But L said they had to park about 1/4 mile away and walk in heavy snow.  I wouldn't have liked that either so maybe it was just as well.  Yeah, I know.  I'm a lightweight.
We went to visit my brother Matt, his wife Greta, and their 5 year old daughter, Ari.  They've just moved to Utah from Indiana.  We had a fun visit while Ari (who is obsessed with Scooby Doo) kept saying she'd found some clues, and that the mystery was almost solved.  (We never knew what the clues were or what mystery was being solved...) It's been a long time since I've seen Matt, and it was so fun laughing and visiting with him.  Love my brother.
Monday was spent out and about with the camera, taking pictures of the lovely architecture in Salt Lake City.  There's a wonderful 100 year old cathedral there that has fascinated me since I was a little girl.  On Monday I finally went inside and oh my - it was amazing!  The outside is awesome enough: tall and massive with ornate carvings and even gargoyles looking down from the top.

But when you go inside, your senses will explode from the beautiful ornateness of it all.  I have to apologize for this first image.  I jiggled the camera and it's blurry, but you can get the idea of what the chapel looked like from the back looking forward:

Isn't that just amazing?!?  And here's a detail of the ceiling:

Gorgeous.  The floors were the loveliest hardwood and all softly burnished from the years of use.  I think the church is called St Madeleine.  In the front of the cathedral high up, there's a large round stained glass window with a loft and the organ pipes just adjacent.  It was hard to get a decent picture but here is a picture of that:

Actually, there were stained glass windows, tall and thin, that lined the walls from front to back.
Breathtaking.  I know it sounds odd to be so enamored of an old cathedral, but the craftmanship and art were truly awesome.  And I'd love to know the history of how that cathedral came to be built only about 40 years after the LDS temple.
Next door is a Presbyterian church.  Not quite as magnificent as the cathedral, but beautiful nonetheless.  Kind of grim and stern, yet stoic with it's heavy stone construction.

And the best for last: the LDS temple.  I've taken pictures of it during the day.  I wanted some of how it looks lit up at night - because I'm trying to learn how to do things with my camera.  And these turned out pretty well, I think:

We ended the day by driving up into Emigration Canyon to Ruth's Diner.  It's been there since the 1930s.  My friends, because I love you I'm telling you to go there immediately.  To start, we had deep fried Mac 'n Cheese.  I can't even describe the incredible deliciousness of that.  Creamy and cheesey with a crunchy crust.  Delectable.  I had grilled salmon with the freshest garden vegetables I've ever tasted (and no nasty broccoli).  For dessert: wild blueberry crisp with vanilla bean ice cream.  I didn't think I had a corner left to put it, but it was so good I couldn't help myself.  If you live in the area you need to go - no, RUN - to eat at Ruth's. And if you're not in the area, get on a plane.  You're welcome.
So that's the trip in a nutshell.  There was so much more, but this post is turning into a book.  Salt Lake City is one of my favorite cities.  Didn't used to be, but I find it so beautiful now.  It's kind of a mixture of Victorian charm mixed with the buzz of the university and the eclectic tossed salad of people. I really REALLY could have done without so much university buzz on Saturday night though.  U of U students should never be your next door neighbors on the 9th floor on a snowy Saturday night when the power goes out.

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