Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Plague

The weekend before the surprise party I flew out to Ben and Sharley’s to help them get a working bathroom. He had been renovating their master bathroom so it was in pieces and not really functional. In the midst of that, he was in his bathroom one time and thought he heard water running in his wall. He opened the wall and found a leaking pipe along with a whole lot of mold. In one weekend Ben and I were able to tear out the old tub, install a new one and tile the new tub. It was a tough weekend with a dozen trips to Home Depot but we got it far enough along that he can finish it up without too much trouble.
Do you like how my name will now be under his tile for the next several decades?
Sunday I hitched a ride with Alycia and her kids back to San Diego. It was great to have five and a half hours just to sit and visit. We used to do that all the time when she was a teenager and I miss it.
Monday was a normal workday but when I woke up on Tuesday my stomach felt a bit queasy. I didn’t think much of it and figured I would just be careful what I ate and I would be back to my normal healthy self.
Around 9:30 I had to go to the bathroom. After just a few minutes sitting there on the porcelain throne I could tell I was in trouble. I was barely able to finish the job before I found myself kneeling before the porcelain throne. After several violent dry heaves, (remember, I don’t eat breakfasts any more) it was all over. I was no longer nauseous and I no longer had the runs and I felt normal again, but now I was suddenly very tired. I came downstairs and told Lisa that I was going to lay down for an hour before going back to work.
I vaguely remember Lisa trying to wake me up, but that just wasn’t going to happen. Four hours later I managed to drag myself off the couch and got a few hours of work done that had to be done that day, but my mind was quite foggy and I’m sure it was not my best work. Finally I laid back down and Lisa woke me up at midnight to go to bed. I then slept until 8:00 the next morning and it was all over.
As far as I know, when you get stomach issues and it is all over within 24 hours it is almost always food poisoning and I was quite sure it was the leftover steak I ate Monday for lunch. Trevor had barbecued me a delicious rib eye steak and I took the left overs home with me. They sat in Alycia’s hot car for 5 or 6 hours but there was no way I was going to throw it out. It was delicious and I was willing to risk food poisoning.
I then learned that Ben and Sharley were also both throwing up the same day I was. Their symptoms were almost identical to mine. They certainly didn’t eat any of my delicious ribeye steak and I couldn’t think of any other place where we could have all three picked up the same food poisoning but who knows? That kind of stuff can be weird.
If I had doubts about food poisoning before, I was pretty sure it wasn’t food poisoning when Lisa started throwing up on Wednesday. From there it went downhill fast. Alycia started throwing up on Friday and then Sunday was the big day. Sarah, Alex, Lisa (Alex’s girlfriend) and Kira all threw up on Sunday. They all went through the same process as I did, runs, barf, tired. Some had headaches and not everyone recovered as quickly as I did, but otherwise it was pretty much the same. In every case, once your stomach felt queasy you were barfing within the hour.

The sad part was that Alex, Lisa and Sarah all threw up on the airplane. That would make for a miserable trip.
Out of the twelve adults who were here, only Justin, Trevor and Sam escaped the plague.
Sam was really scared. He just got hired on by the Wyoming Highway Patrol and he started training on Monday. He had to take a physical test on Thursday and if he failed it he would have been sent home. No excuses. I’m really glad he escaped, but he was also very diligent about not getting kissy and cuddly with the kids.
The kids pretty much followed the same schedule as the parents with only Freddie, Ella and Piper escaping the plague. I think Kira had the best experience when Evan and Cameron both started puking simultaneously on the plane. It is tough when one kid is puking but with two going at the same time? Poor Kira.

Not once in the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme does it mention that he’s an egg

Monday, August 20, 2018

Happy Birthday to Me

My actual birthday was last Sunday, August 12, the day after the surprise party and it turned out much like I was expecting the weekend would be. It was just my kids and grandkids plus the Sanchez’s and Vicky and Thomas McCormack who had both traveled quite a ways to be here.
Greg and his son Robert and his girlfriend left on Saturday night so they weren’t there for the Sunday dinner.
Landons birthday was Aug 4 but he sort of got lost in the flurry of activity up there in Canada so we celebrated our birthdays together. Lisa had ordered me another Star Trek cake. This one was quite creative.  And Landon had his own ice cream cake.

Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barbara Walters were born in the same year, 1929.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


Last Sunday at roughly 3:00AM I turned 60 years old. It seems weird to me that I have been alive for six decades. My children are now about the age I feel myself to be in my head.
I had imagined my birthday was going to be a special meal enjoyed by Lisa and myself and then perhaps she would let me pick out a movie to watch. We watch a whole lot of Hallmark movies around here.
As it turned out, Lisa had other plans in the works. I guess somewhere back around November my lovely wife created a chat room for her and the kids titled something like “Dad turns 60” and they’ve been planning a special birthday for me for the last 8 months. I had no clue.
I was quite excited when “coincidentally” three of my kids were going to be in town on my birthday. There really was no reason to be suspicious though since they all had good reasons to be here.
It all started when Kira and Justin and their friends decided to have a “friends” vacation in San Diego. They were here with their friends and stayed with their friends in a hotel. Their kids were quite confused as to why they were in San Diego but weren’t staying at Grandma’s house. The friends left on Friday though and Kira and her family were planning on staying here for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. Cool, I was excited.
Next was Alycia, she had planned to spend a week in San Diego this summer with her kids. The date wasn’t nailed down but when she learned that Kira was going to be here she decided to be here the same week and they could also spend my birthday weekend with me. Now I was getting even more excited.
Ben and Sharley are only a five hour drive away so when they learned that Kira and Alycia were going to be here they figured they should come and join them.
Now I was truly excited. Three of my six kids were going to be here on my birthday.
And that is how it was… until Thursday.
So Thursday is my day at the temple, but when I walked in the door after my shift there was Sarah sitting in the living room. I was in shock, it hadn’t even entered my mind that they would be coming. They have a big move coming up that they needed to be getting ready for. But Sarah is the one who hates to miss out on the fun so I just said, “hello Miss FOMO” and gave her a big hug.
Friday was kind of a “do your own thing” day. I got half a day of work in, Lisa went shopping for our “family” dinner on Sunday, Ben & Sharley and Kira & Justin went to some museum and Alycia & Trevor went out for their anniversary dinner while Lisa and I and Sarah and Sam babysat and watched a movie.
Later on Justin, Trevor, Ben and myself got a game of Star Trek Catan going and played games until all hours of the night.
At somewhere around 2:00AM in walks Alex and his girlfriend Lisa. I was speechless. I should have expected Alex would come once Sarah was here, but it never dawned on me that he would. That meant that Brandon was the only kid not in town for my birthday. My 60th birthday was shaping up to be the best one ever.
When I started looking around for Brandon to show up they assured me he wasn’t able to come. Serene is expecting a baby (#14) any day now so I guess he has a valid excuse.
So that was it. Saturday morning started out as a rather lazy day with plans to head out to the beach in the afternoon. Around 11:00 Lisa told me that there was a new “accessible” park that Kira wanted to check out for Evan, so we loaded up the kids and headed to Torrey Meadows Park over by Westview High School.
I pulled into the park and it looked like a cool park but I didn’t see our family anywhere. I was with Kira, Lisa, Piper and Evan. They all started walking to the other end of the park so I naturally followed along.
There was a large gazebo filled with people. I couldn’t see where our family was, but then all of the sudden about 50 people in the Gazebo turned around yelled “surprise” and started singing Happy Birthday to me.
I was in total shock. While I figured a family party was obvious for Sunday, (my actual birthday), the thought that fifty non-family people would come to a party for me was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t know what to say and I was sure hoping no one was expecting a speech. It was tremendous fun though and there were a few surprises for me as well.

The first person I saw was Tad Hove. I haven’t seen him in ten years. He is doing well and it was good to see him.
The next surprise was Greg, my oldest brother. He lives in Vernal, Utah and he came all the way to San Diego for my birthday. It was so good to see him. The other surprise was Dan Allen, a fellow I used to work with at Hi-Z about fifteen years ago. Dan and I still go sailing a few times a year so I do see him, but it was certainly a surprise to see him there.

Lisa had managed to get some pictures of me growing up and made a small display about me. She did a great job. She also bought me a cool Star Trek cake. You may have heard that I’m a bit fond of that show.
I hesitate to name everyone who was there because I’m bound to forget someone, but here goes in alphabetical order.
Dan Allen
Reaghan & Joanne Beecroft
Trevor & Alycia Crowley & family
Rick Daynes
Ben & Desiree Heaton & family
Dave & Diane Evans
Larry & Carrie Farnes
Greg & Pam Gosch
Mike Gray & Family
Brad & Pattie Hatch
Tad Hove
Lisa Jones
Rebecca Knaphus & Family
Alex Leavitt & Lisa Buasum
Ben & Sharley Leavitt & family
Greg Leavitt
Robert & Michelle Leavitt
Kathy Marx
Thomas & Vicky McCormack
Craig & Marilyn McPhie
Rick & April Muir
Peter & Mandy Oldenwalder & family
Kira & Justin Palmer & family
Anne Pascal
Linda Petersen
Roger & Wendy Platt
Mahonry & Molly Sanchez & family
David & Sarah Walton

If I forgot anyone please let me know. What a fun and very unusual experience. The only other time I have been the center of attention like that was at our wedding, and let’s face it, everyone was there for the bride, not me.
So I tried to say “hi” to everyone there but I’m sure I missed someone. I’m sorry if I did. We did eventually make it to the beach Saturday afternoon and that was also a fun time. The water this summer is apparently warmer than it has been since 1902. I don’t know if it was this warm in 1902 or if that was when they started keeping records.

Saturday night was also an interesting experience. I’ve always wondered what Dungeons and Dragons is all about, well, now I know. For some reason Alex really wanted to get a game of D&D going, so Frank Criger came down to be our dungeon master and we played well into the night. 

Sunday, July 01, 2018


Several years back we remodeled the back half of our house. It looked really good but I guess Lisa figured it is time to repaint. I do not like to paint. Before the kids came home for Christmas we were able to get the entire downstairs painted and new blinds put up so the house looked quite nice.
I even replaced the original base boards to match what we had done in the back half of the house. It turned out that we weren’t able to match the baseboard we had in the family room but by cutting down a similar style we were finally able to match it. I then had to stain it the right color. That was a hassle I won’t go into but by the time kids got here it looked nice.
This picture shows the corner where the old base board on right meets the new baseboard on the left. I think we managed to match pretty well don’t you think?
The one thing that I didn’t get done was a curved wall that we have by the front door. It makes a 90° bend with maybe a one foot radius. I was scared to death to attempt to put baseboard around that bend. It wasn’t done for Christmas and I have managed to procrastinate until now. While Lisa has been quite patient, she has been commenting on the one unfinished wall more and more frequently. Last weekend I decided to go for it.  
I had always assumed that if I soaked the board in water for a day or two that it would soften enough that I could bend it but when I asked experts they all told me that the only way I could get it to bend that way would be to pressure steam it. Well, since I don’t have a large autoclave, I went with the more conventional approach.
I guess what you do is make many small cuts on the back of the board so that the remaining wood is thin and flexible. I experimented with a small board and convinced myself that it would work.
After more than 200 cuts, I wrapped the board around the curve and was quite alarmed to see that the bottom of the base board hugged the curve very nicely but the top edge bowed way out.
Because I was able to make the cut on the bottom come right to the front edge of the board, the remaining wood at that point was razor thin On the top of the base however, I had to stop the cut at the inside edge of the board. That left a quarter of an inch thick of wood on the top edge. This made the remaining wood thick and stiff at the top but thin and flexible at the bottom.
After stewing (and a bit of stressing) about the problem I decided to force the top of the board against the wall using sticks wedged against the opposite wall. This seemed to work quite well. I left the board wedged in place over the weekend hoping that the stress would relax a bit. It did relax a bit but not nearly as much as I had hoped.
In order to hold the top edge of the baseboard in place I located all the studs in the wall and nailed the top of the base board into the studs. I also glued the board in place.
To complicate matters, there is a door right where I needed to place some of the braces so I laid a 2x4 between the wall and the step and braced against the 2x4. When it was all done it was quite the maze. It was a bit treacherous walking through there.
That was on Monday. On Tuesday I removed the supports and the top moved out a little bit in one spot so I re-braced that spot and gave it a bit more glue and one more day.
When it was as good as I figured it was going to get I went and bought some caulking and tried to hide as much of the gap as I could. That caulking is amazing stuff. I think my baseboard almost looks professionally done.
So I removed the last board on Wednesday afternoon and then headed to the airport to pick up Lisa. She was arriving home for her 42 hour layover before going to Canada. She was home for about an hour before she noticed the new baseboard. She loves it so that makes me happy.
The pyramids were as old to the Romans as the Romans are to us

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday School

For the last several years I have taught the ten and eleven year old boys. That would be the boys who were either ten or eleven and January 1st of that year. I also have the eleven year old boys in scouts.
With all the sexual abuse that has been in the new the church has had a two deep leadership policy in the scouting program. That means that you can never have one leader together with one boy.  The church expanded this policy to all their youth classes. That means all primary classes, whether they are taught by women or not, must have two teachers in the classroom.
About a month ago Todd Groesbeck and I were in our primary class and in comes Bruce Brittain. He had just been called to the eleven year old primary class. That confused me because it really seemed to be overkill to have three men teaching two boys. Well somehow I’d missed the memo. When we got into sharing time we learned that Lisa and I were now both teaching her class. Take about a difference in class dynamics. We regularly have five very sweet girls and one calm, polite and thoughtful boy. Talk about a dream class. I love those kids.
With Lisa out of town for a month and a half I now have one of the dads sit in with me. What a group of intelligent and respectful kids. Every one of them is very bright and all of them participate. The kids in the class are:
      Camille Gray
      Clara Morin
      Sean Johnston
      Kate Ryan
      Jack Knaphus
      Addy Proctor
I love teaching these kids.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Missing Lisa

This summer, for Lisa and I, is going to be spent apart. Last Thursday, June 14th, I took Lisa to the airport and flew her to Texas. Brandon and Serene made a trip to Egypt and Lisa is watching their kids while they are gone. Isn't she cute with all those little girls?
Next Wednesday, June 27th, I will pick her up from the airport and we will have all of Thursday together. Well, not really, since I do have to work that day and then that is our temple night, but at least we get to wake up together and go to bed together. And then Friday I take her back to the airport and send her to Calgary so she can help Kira with the kids at SMA camp.
Normally Justin goes to the camp with Kira and the kids but there is some event going on that he can’t be there this year. That is a lot of work for just Kira and her bunch. It is one thing when she can coral them all in the house but with all the events going on it would be easy for one of the kids to disappear. So Lisa will be Calgary until July 15 at which point they will fly her down to Utah.
On Wednesday, July 18th, I will drive up to Salt Lake City and give my wife a big hug. July 19th, 20th and 21st is our ninth triannual (sort of) A Q Leavitt Family reunion. Greg and Gaylia are hosting it this year and it will be held on the Green River up near the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. I am looking forward to it.
Sunday, July 22nd, after a relaxed Sunday morning we will head south. Probably overnight somewhere along the I-15 and get home Monday morning. Not long after that Lisa will start school again. I think we will plan a "get away" weekend some time in the fall so we feel like we had a vacation. 

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Rick Marx

Our very good friend, Rick Marx recently passed away.

Lisa and I first met Rick roughly ten years ago. When Kathy found Rick she was quite excited to introduce us. We went out for dinner on a double date and I’ve loved Rick ever since that first day so long ago.

It was three or four years ago that Rick went to see his doctor about a pain in his hips. He thought it must have been a pulled muscle or something like that. He’d always been a healthy man and worked out regularly. Imagine our surprise when we learned that he had stage four cancer in his bones and a year to live. Rick was given many blessings and some of his blessings told him that it was not his time yet and he still had work to do here on earth. 

He has had many ups and downs since that first diagnosis. He went through a few rounds of chemotherapy and at one point he was on deaths door. He pulled through and recovered to the point that he was essentially cancer free. While we are sad to see him pass on, I can’t help but be grateful for the extra years he was granted.

I remember one day in the chapel just before church started I was playing “Clash of Clans” with my kids. In this game you create a clan and our clan would fight daily battles against other clans. It was a good game for me because it didn’t need to take more than ten minutes a day and yet it kept me in daily contact with my kids. It was fun and our clan at its max grew to about 50 people, all of whom were close friends or family of mine or friends of my kids.

At this point Rick was going through a tough spell in his fight against cancer and spent most of his day sitting around his house dwelling on his problems. I suggested he join the clan and “Rick the Rock” was born. The game was perfect for him and he was instantly thrown into a family of fifty or more members. Everyone loved Rick and it gave him something else to think about other than his own problems. 

The clan eventually went the way of everything else in life but Rick was now left with a new group of friends.

After years of great health, Ricks cancer finally returned and he declined quickly. The last week or two were very painful for Rick and he was finally taken to the hospital. Kathy had wanted him to stay home and have hospice come in but Rick was no longer able to get around. Rick is a big man and Kathy is a little girl. She needed help. 

I went to see him a few times in the hospital before he passed and I'm grateful I had that opportunity.  It was sad to see him laying their all drugged up to take away the pain. It was even worse to see Kathy sitting their holding his hand.

At 9:30 on the morning of June 5, 2017 Rick Marx passed away.

Kathy texted Lisa right away and told her that they would be doing a "Salute" for Rick at 11:30. We had no idea what that was but we wanted to participate and support Kathy so we both left work and headed right over.

The salute was pretty special. They had us all leave Ricks room and they put him on a stretcher, draped him in the American flag and then a fellow from the Veterans Association stood in the hall and rang a small bell. Two orderlies slowly wheeled him into the hallway while the VA guy loudly announced Ricks name and rank and his branch of service and other stuff. It was very solemn and almost spiritual.


I think Kathy was given more food than she could possibly eat but her son Colin and Ricks son Doug both spent a lot of time with Kathy both at home and at the hospital. I don't think Kathy has eaten much but I'm sure the two boys put a good dent in the food.

At some point Kathy felt inspired to ask Lisa if she would take care of all the arrangements for the memorial service and the interment. I don’t know if Kathy knew it or not but that is where Lisa shines. She can plan any event (including funerals) like no one else. It truly is a calling of hers and Lisa spent the next few days on the phone. She lined up a funeral home, made arrangements with the Military cemeteries, lined up the music, eulogies and food. What is unfortunate is that we had to leave for Brandon and Serenes on Thursday. Thank goodness for modern technology. We spent the days with the grand kids but Lisa spent her mornings and evenings on the phone and on email. She planned it all from a thousand miles away but she did have a lot of support from home

Lisa arrived home from Texas Saturday morning, June 17, 2017. I picked her up at the airport around 9:00 AM, drove her home, we changed and then headed over to the church to get the place ready for Ricks memorial service.

A lot of people helped out and I think the service was everything Kathy was hoping for. Steve Sharp prepared the program; Alan Bird prepared a wonderful slide show, the Relief Society prepared a nice little lunch for family and close friends, Trish Wolsey provided some beautiful flowers and several people helped set up displays etc.

slide show

Probably the highlight of the program was Scott Spurgiesz. That guy is a musical prodigy. When he plays the piano, I’m sure he is doing it all on the fly. He certainly has no music. It came together beautifully and I think Rick was happy.

The spirit was felt by all who were there. Thank goodness for the gospel. I don’t know how people without faith can survive this type of thing.