Sunday, August 31, 2008


Yesterday, almost on the spur of the moment we decided to go and visit Brandon and Serene. We had a few items left to take up to them but that was just an excuse. Alex had a birthday party he wanted to go to so we left him behind and Mom, Sarah and I headed to Malibu. I never thought I would have a kid living in Malibu. It was really good to see them again. It seems that all of Brandon's hard work is beginning to pay off. He has always had hard classes and has always been in difficult programs so he has always struggled with his classes. He's always done well but he's never been the star. He's still being cautious but as far as he can tell he isn't working nearly as hard as he did in Biochemistry and he is understanding everything. The problem is that his entire grade is the final exam so he has no feedback on his performance until after the final. That is just a little too late to make any changes so he'd better get it right now. He is still putting in long days but nothing compared to last year. Serene also has their little home looking like a little home. At the Y they lived in a closet. I'm serious, that is about all it was. Their living room was a small bedroom, their kitchen was in the hallway and their bedroom was in the basement and was so small that they had about a foot of space on either side of the bed. This is a real treat for them to have a real apartment and it is actually a good sized apartment by any standard. The best part is that Sydney has her own bedroom. We visited with Brandon and Serene for a while and then we went for dinner. We decide to go for a pizza but I guess being Malibu we should have known better. They didn't have a "Pizza Hut" or a "Domino's" or anything like that so we stopped at what looked like a nice little pizza joint. I started getting nervous when we stopped and saw a couple of the waiters on their break. They were decked out in their white shirts and black pants with their aprons and little white towel over their arms. We go inside and this place is a suit and tie place with the fancy little table clothes and the works. It turned out to be a very swanky restaurant and we were just a little under dressed with out denim shorts etc. For such a classy restaurant it was actually still reasonably priced so we had a very nice meal with out too much of hit in the pocket book. I really enjoyed it. We stayed as long as we dared and Brandon and I had solved most of the worlds problems so we decided we'd better head for home. We got home much earlier than the last time we were in Malibu. It was a good weekend. Tomorrow is a holiday so I guess I will be making up for all the work I didn't do yesterday.
Rosemary is blessed with a surprisingly large number of talented artists for such a small town. I'm sure there is a lot of talent that I'm not aware of but we did leave Rosemary with some items that are precious to us. This painting was done by Dan Crapo. We made the decision to buy one of his paintings and we finally decided on this one for a number of reasons. The first reason is because this little stream is a place that Kira played quite often. It is on the Martins farm but after the Martins moved some friends of ours from Brooks moved to the farm. They were the Kaufmans and they had a daughter Kira's age and they used to play out there quite often. In the distance you can see Leonard Dressel's farm. The final reason we chose this picture is because of the snow. We really wanted a winter scene. This painting still hangs on our wall and the snow scene is even more appreciated right now. This is how I like my snow, in a picture. One interesting footnote about the Martin's farm. After the Kaufmans moved out, the house was rented to some people who grew marijuana in the basement. It would have been bad enough if they'd just grown the stuff hydroponically but they actually hauled a bunch of dirt into the basement to grow it in. They were eventually caught but they had destroyed the house. I understand it cost a lot of money to fix it up. This vase was made by Susan Lindved Jensen. It has a very unusual glaze on it. I don't know what it is called but it is made by removing the vase from the glazing oven while the glaze is still molten and then sitting it in some combustible material like straw and then it is sealed so air can't get to it. The straw is a reducing agent and reduces the glaze to the metal. The little flecks of metal give it a very unusual look. I think it is quite beautiful. I'm not sure who made this other vase. I know that one of these was given to Lisa by a friend and the other one she bought. I guess you'll have to ask Lisa for the details. All I know it is that I love to have a piece of Rosemary with us.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I guess I need to add one more step to my instructions on how to comment on my blog. I will update the instructions I posted earlier but after you type in the letters in the space marked "word verification", blogger wants you to identify yourself. There is a header that says, "choose an identity". Since I have a gmail account this field is always filled in for me so I never even realized it was there. You have four choices, each choice has a radio button and you need to select one of them. 1) google/blogger use this if you have a gmail account or if you have your own blog; 2) open ID, use this choice if you have an account on another popular internet group like AIM or WordPress; 3) name/URL use this if you want to simply write your name in but you don't want to sign up for anything (like a gmail account); 4) anonymous, use this if you don't want anyone to know who you are. Personally, I'd really like it if you used your name but if you want to stay anonymous that is better than nothing. So there you go. I hope that is clear enough for you. Of course what Dixie said is always true, you shouldn't leave a comment if you don't want the whole world to see it. I have an open blog and that means anyone can see it. I've been contacted by some unexpected people, but that is part of the fun. If you want to comment privately just send me an email.

Yesterday I received a late birthday present from Kira, the present was good but I LOVED the card. At the beginning of this blog is a video clip of me opening the card.

Dixie and Mark, tell me more about our future VP, I was hoping for Mitt Romney but I'm kind of excited about this Sarah Palin. Anyone who hunts Moose and has six kids can't be all that bad.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a group of countries surrounding the Northern part of the Atlantic ocean that have formed a treaty that they will protect each other. I don't know who all they include but the major countries are Canada, USA, England, France, Holland and the Scandinavian countries. One of the things that NATO does is control the export of sensitive information to non-NATO countries. This function is controlled by the Co-ordinating committee (COCOM). While I worked at Global, thermoelectric alloys were on the COCOM list as a controlled material. COCOM restricted the export of any thermoelectric alloy with a figure of merit above 0.75, our alloys had a figure of merit of 1.3. Before I started at Global no one really knew what our figure of merit was so every year when they renewed their export license they just signed the form that said we met this requirement. Once I started with Global they brought me the form to sign and I told them that we violated this clause. They were quite upset and told me to just sign it anyway. I refused to lie so I think they had someone else lie and then we went to work to get the restriction relaxed. Eventually I had to go to a COCOM meeting in Paris to argue that the requirement was outdated and that the Russians already had thermoelectric alloys with a figure of merit above 0.75. Of course, going to Paris would not be all that exciting without my wife so we made arrangements to have Lisa come with me. This was right after Alycia was born so I had to talk her into leaving her baby behind and that was real tough for her to do. She was torn because she really wanted to go to Paris but her baby was only a couple of months old. She finally decided to leave the baby with Don and Carol Gibb and the rest of the kids with Pat and Gary Norton. The day we left we dropped the kids off and as we're heading out on the freeway Lisa started getting all weepy and sad about leaving the kids and I had these visions of her being this way during the whole trip. I told her that she needed to decide right there if she was OK with this because I didn't want her being miserable the whole trip. She decided to get on board and we had a great time. We flew into Amsterdam and we got bumped up to first class. That was pretty cool. I then rented a car and drove through Holland, Belgium and France. I took the opportunity to stop and visit with a lot of people that I knew when I lived in Belgium. It was very cool. I saw the D'Hondt's (they named one of their kids Frederick, how about that?), Van Laere's, and three other familes that I can't think of right now.

I met up with a fellow from the Canadian External Affairs office. I acted as his "technical adviser". This was also right after the Libya bombing of that airplane that crashed in Scotland so there were a lot of talks going on about chemical warfare. There was a woman who traveled to the same meetings who was going to talk about chemical warfare. The meetings were right out of the "Get Smart" shows. We stayed in a hotel a few blocks off the Champs Elysees and we walked to our meetings. I remember we were walking down this narrow street and I was thinking, "where are we going?". There were high walls on either side of the street with very few doors. We came to this one door and on the wall was a keypad. There were no signs at all. My companion typed in a code and the door opened and we walked down a narrow tunnel and came out into a small courtyard. On one side of the courtyard was a glass wall and a glass door. We walked in the door and then it looked like we were in a government building. We had to be searched and go through a metal detector. When I went into the meeting I thought I was in a different world. It was just like in the movies. There was a very long and narrow table and all around the table were little signs from the different countries. Every chair had a little microphone. I really didn't want to talk into the dumb mic but I got through it. During one of the breaks I made a point of looking up the representative from Holland. He was quite thrilled to learn that I could speak Dutch and amazed that I had chosen to learn it even though I had no relatives who spoke Dutch. I voted in favor of our proposal. In the end the US were the stubborn ones and I could tell that they were not going to change the regulations without getting approval from someone back home. I later made a second trip where the rules were not only relaxed (as I had proposed) but were eliminated.

Meanwhile, while I was in daily meetings Lisa was taking tours all over the countryside. I was only able to see the Eiffel tower, the Notre Dame and the Louvre. They were pretty darn cool. I was also lucky enough to drive a car all over the city. That is pretty scary. I can say that I drove around the traffic circle with the arc de triomph. I have since been back a couple of times when I was able to see more things. One night Lisa and I decided to go out and have dinner with my government buddy and the chemical lady. She was a French Canadian and she kept going on and on about how wonderful it was that she could speak the language and she had a list of all these cool places that she should go see. One of the cool places was a quaint little restaurant and that is where we decided to go. We were walking on this narrow side walk and I was talking to the government guy and Lisa and the girl were behind us. I could here Lisa talking and she was telling this woman that we had four kids. The woman stopped and in a very loud voice said, "Four kids, are you nuts?". Lisa and I were a bit stunned but the guy leans over to me and in a low voice says, "and she's a diplomat". It was very funny. We get to the restaurant and it was very beautiful. There only about four tables in the place and it had these huge windows that opened out onto the street so it was essentially outdoor sitting. The guy explains the menu to Lisa and I and he places our orders. He was an east Indian so French was like his fourth language. He had never learned French but only picked up enough to get by on his many trips there. The woman then goes to place her order and the waitress couldn't understand her. The waitress then looks to the guy to translate for her and she then got all mad and yells, "I can place my own order thank you!". It took a while but she did finally get her order in. It was funny anyway but it was especially funny because we had been listening to her go on for days about how she could speak the language.

After a wonderful two weeks in France we finally headed home to our babies. The Gibbs had really bonded to Alycia and they didn't want to give her back. They seemed to have a special bond to her the whole time we lived there and I'll bet they would love to talk to her now. She has grown to be such a wonderful young woman.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ice Storm

I guess I need to give instructions on how to post comments. I'm a bit surprised how many people don't know. First I'll explain how I have my blog set up. If you follow my link or if you just go to my blog you'll see my most recent seven entries displayed. If you click on the title of the post then it will show only that particular entry and at the bottom you'll see a link for the previous or following post. If you are looking at a single entry then you will also see any comments that have been made. You will also see the words "post a comment". Just click on those words and it will take you to a window where you can write a comment. If you are looking at the most recent seven entries then you won't see the comments but you will see a link in tiny little letters that says, "3 comments" or whatever number of comments there are. Click on that and it will take you to the same place. In the comment area you can read whatever comments have already been left and there is a place you can write your own comments. Just write your comments and then you have to copy the code into the space labeled "word verification". If I don't use that then I get all kinds of unwanted solicitations. Below the "word verification" there is a header that says, "choose an identity". You have four choices, each choice has a radio button and you need to select one of them. 1) google/blogger, use this if you have a gmail account or if you have your own blog on blogger; 2) open ID, use this choice if you have an account on another popular internet group like AIM or WordPress; 3) name/URL, use this if you want to simply write your name in but you don't want to sign up for anything (like a gmail account); 4) anonymous, use this if you don't want anyone to know who you are. Personally, I'd really like it if you used your name but if you want to stay anonymous that is better than nothing.Once you've typed in the code and selected one of the four radio buttons just hit the button that says, "publish your comment" and you're done. Easy eh? Now you have no excuses, leave me lots of comments.
Living in San Diego there are many things that I miss about living in Canada but there is one thing that I definitely do not miss. Snow!!! Actually, if I were to be more precise it is cold that I don't miss. If snow were warm then I'm sure I would enjoy snow perfectly fine. There is nothing good about cold. It is very wrong but here in San Diego I have a nice two car attached garage, in Rosemary I didn't have a garage. What do I need a garage here for? I needed it in Rosemary. Actually, the purpose of a garage in San Diego is to replace the basements that they don't have. It is where people keep all their junk. A few people park cars in their garage but most just store junk. Let me share with you my typical routine on a cold winter morning in Rosemary. First I wake up and eat breakfast, next I wipe the frost off the window and try to see what it is like outside, I really don't want to shovel the snow. I then take the next ten minutes and put on my down jacket, my toque, my gloves, my thick wool socks, my Sorel boots with the thick liners and head outside. If there's snow I shovel the my walk and our neighbor Retta Crapo's walk. I also make sure there wasn't too much snow behind my car. I then get out the window scraper and chisel the snow and ice off the windows. Because it was bitterly cold I usually just make a hole big enough to see through and let the defroster take over once I get on the road. I then open the door which is often a difficult feat because it is frozen shut. Once the door is open I sit in the car but the seat is so cold that the foam rubber in the seats feels like a block of rock hard ice. I then turn the ignition and hear the motor slowly turn over once and die. Trying not to use foul language I go out and check the plug on the block heater and find that it has some how come loose and isn't making a good connection. This has allowed the engine block to get too cold and the motor oil probably looks something like molasses. I also have a battery blanket on that keeps the battery warm but without the power the battery has something like 5% of it's original energy. All of the ice and filth from the road messes up the plugs pretty bad so a bad connection is not too unusual. I wiggle the plug around until I can hear the block heater bubbling and then I go back in the house for another half hour. My glasses immediately fog over and because I'm so bundled up I soon get way too hot and I have to remove all of my outer clothing. A half hour later I repeat the whole process but this time, after some pretty scary noises the engine fires to life and I let the car warm up. After a few minutes I unplug the block heater. You don't want to forget that step or you will be replacing the plug which may not be a bad thing because it will fix that loose connection. I then get back in the car and put the car in reverse. The engine bogs down and you feel the car try to move backwards but it doesn't go anywhere. I rev the engine up a little higher but it still won't move. I now realize that because there was a Chinook yesterday the snow has melted a little bit and I had parked in a water puddle. The water puddle was now a solid block of ice that holds my car fast to the ground. After rocking the car back and forth I finally get it to break loose from the grip of the ice and I back out of the drive way and start for work. As I slowly (you don't do anything quickly when it is that cold) drive down the street the car is going clunk, clunk clunk because the tires are not round. It is so cold that they are retaining the flat spot from where the tire was on the ground. As the tires slowly regain their natural round shape my breath is condensing on the cold window making it difficult for me to see through the small opening I have chiseled through the ice. I desperately check the defroster in the vain hope that there might be a higher heat setting but in the end I use the scrapper to keep my small opening clear until the engine finally warms up enough that the defroster can keep ahead of my breathing. After a few miles I am elated to see that my small view port is gradually growing bigger. I get real joy out of watching this hole grow over the next five miles until my entire window (except for the very edges) is clear. It always seems like a miracle. I also enjoy watching the view in the back window where the fine wires embedded in the glass cause horizontal lines to form in the frost on the rear window. At this point I can actually feel warmth come from the heater and just about the time I get to work the interior of the car is actually comfortable. I now try and decide if I want to park by an outlet so I can plug my car in or will the mass of the engine block keep the heat through my eight hour day (pray that I can leave on time). I finally can't bear the thought of pulling out the extension cord and fiddling with the plug when it is so cold so I take a chance and I don't plug the car in.

I remember one morning when I woke up we had no power. This wasn't too unusual for Rosemary so I didn't give it much thought. I had a breakfast of cold cereal and went through a process similar to the one I just described and headed over to Georges house. It was his turn to drive that week. In spite of it being below the freezing point this was a very beautiful day. We had experienced an ice storm during the night and there was ice everywhere. It had rained sleet (a freezing rain) and there were huge ice cycles on everything. The trees were covered with ice cycles, the road was covered with ice (glad George was driving) and the power lines were covered with an inch of ice and long dangling ice cycles. Even the cars had a thick layer of ice on them. It was beautiful but treacherous. We get out on the highway and we were carefully progressing to Bassano when all of the sudden we notice that there is a power line dangling across the highway about a foot above the pavement. With the ice it was impossible to stop in time so we just hit the power line and slowly came to a stop. We didn't see any sparks flying so we were quite confident that the power line was dead but we were still very nervous getting out of the truck. We confirmed that there was no damage so we got back in and even more carefully continued on into work. Once in Bassano we learned that there was no power there either and without power we weren't going to be able to accomplish much so we headed home. Listening to the radio we learned that the major transmission lines were down and that most of the southeast corner of Alberta was with out power and some rural areas probably would be for several days. We then covered the food in our freezer with blankets to help them stay frozen longer and went to visit mom and dad in Edmonton. It was a week before all of the power was restored. That was some ice storm.

I often wonder why it took me 35 years before I figured out that there are warmer places to live than Alberta.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pamela Hunter

What a wonderful weekend this has been. Very busy, very hectic and a bit confusing but it has been fun. I'm going to have to tell several stories and they will all tie in at the end. Story number one. This picture on the left is of Pamela Hunter. Their family moved into our ward from American Fork when I was about ten years old (just guessing there) and Lester and I became pretty good friends with Pam and her sister Christine. I was a bit of a nerd in school and Pam was one of the few people who was actually nice to me. A few people were mean but most just ignored me. Pam was actually nice. Her dad was my band teacher and he really scared me. Pam confirmed to me that he actually was in the military. I always figured he was. I remember one time Wayne Wheeler (the drummer) ticked Mr Hunter off so he told him to leave. Wayne wouldn't go so Mr Hunter stormed to the back of the room, picked Wayne up and physically threw him out into the hallway. It was quite funny but I can tell you that room was very quiet after that. Mr Hunter made our marching band the best band in Canada. We were good, I wasn't good but the band was. Pam played the Oboe and I loved it. That is why when they asked for volunteers to play the Oboe in Kira's band I encouraged her to go for it. There you go Kira, you can thank Pam for your Oboe. When I went on my mission Pam threw me a going away party. I was thrilled. She was dating some guy named Dan Court when I left and while I was on my mission she married him. I never heard anything about Pam after that day in August 1976 until a few months ago when she found Lester on Face book and he gave her my email address. Since then we've emailed a couple of times and on this trip we went and visited the Courts.

Now for story number two. Before my mission I did a year at BYU but when I came home it was late in August and Mom had registered me for the University of Alberta. The dollar was low and she wanted me closer to home. I, of course, hadn't done anything about BYU so I was home for a couple of days and then off to Edmonton. I lived with my brother Greg for that first year and attended Edmonton fifth ward. In the ward they had a fairly large Young Adult group that I hung out with.
------------------------------------------------------------ Edmonton 5th Ward Young Adult Group
back row left to right - Roseanne Anderson, Dave Butler, Barb Hodges, Lester Leavitt, ?,
Renee Shapcott, Wilf Gotzman
middle row - Bill Shapcott, ?, ?, Glenn Fern, Fred Leavitt
front row - Donna O'Soup, Gaylene Cooper, David Gander, Wendy Wallbank, Rob McGaskell, Lisa Shaw, Linda, Greg Rolls
The picture was taken by Carol Labonte and she is the one who remembers most of the names not me. Since Carol took the picture I guess that would explain why she isn't in the picture. Click on her name for a link to more about Carol
I soon became friends with Dave Gander and we decided to room together. Lisa and Gaylene were good friends and because they were in Greg's ward they knew I was coming home. The plan was to try and hook me up with Gaylene but as things turned out Gaylene ended marrying my room mate, Dave and I ended up marrying Lisa. It was a pretty good arrangement I think. Gaylene's mom was Lisa's young womans adviser so we were pretty good friends with the family. After we married we stayed in the ward and so we kept in touch. Gaylene had a little sister named Loretta. Loretta ended up getting pregnant not long after Lisa got pregnant. She was only sixteen and still in school so Lisa took her under her arm and they went through their pregnancies together. Kira was born in September and Loretta's little girl was born shortly after. Lisa was in the delivery room with her. Loretta had the courage to give her little girl to a family who disparately wanted a baby and Lisa consoled her through the whole process.

Story number 3. When I was seven years old we moved off the farm into Cardston. Our next door neighbors were the Olsen's. Nan Olsen was a widow and raising her four girls and one boy. Oldest to youngest the Olsen's were Laura, Dena, Jessie, Diane and Susan. We had a sort of love-hate relationship. We really were good friends but we had a huge tree that went over the Olsen's yard and we had a pretty white fence between the yards. I loved to climb the tree and hang above their yard and I loved to walk on the fence. Nan, of course, hated it when I would do that and so being a boy I would only do it more to irritate her. I believe I was quite successful. In spite of that, Lester and I were good friends with Diane (my age) and Susan (Lesters age). We would walk to mutual together and all of that. I remember one time Susan was eating a sandwich and I begged a bite off of her. It was honey and it was the best I had ever tasted. It was years later before I figured out that the reason it was so delicious is that it was made with butter and our family always used margarine. Isn't it funny the things you remember?

A few years after Loretta's baby was born we learned that Laura and her husband Wilf had adopted her. By this time we were living in Rosemary and so we made arrangements to drive into Calgary and visit them. It was quite a special experience to see little Amber.

Many years later Loretta called up Lisa. Amber was older now and had made contact with her birth mother. Loretta wanted to share the experience with Lisa. Not long after that Loretta called Lisa and told her that Amber was getting married. She didn't want to go alone so Lisa met up with her in Las Vegas and they drove to the Bountiful temple. Lisa was Loretta's eyes and ears in the temple. It was another special experience.

Ok, now with those stories told I'll tell you about my weekend. Lisa, Alycia and I loaded up her stuff and headed to Utah so she could start at the University of Utah. After much stress we finally got her an apartment last week. Nothing like the last minute. We arrived late Thursday and stayed with the Sanchez's. Molly and Mahonri Sanchez lived in our ward here in San Diego and moved to Utah just last week. They were still living out of boxes but welcomed us anyway. They live in Cedar Hills. Friday we toured the campus (mostly for my benefit since Lisa and Alycia toured it last year) and took care of some things at the U and also got Alycia signed up for an institute class. What a beautiful building. We also found out that Alycia's apartment wouldn't be ready until the end of the next week (that would be this week). Now it was panic time. I suggested she live in the park but no one thought that was funny. Sanchez's would be glad to have her but that would be a 51 minute drive. We thought of the Alsup's in Ogden but that would be even further. The Welch's are also too far out. Pam had invited her to stay with them and that would only be a 39 minute drive. We graciously accepted Pams invitation because they were the closest. Our first thought was of course Aunt Nola but we had talked to her earlier and learned that her grandsons family was living with them. We were just grateful that even though none of the options were ideal we knew that we had many friends and that Alycia wouldn't be sleeping on the park bench. In the end Aunt Nola was able to put Alycia up in Uncle Merlin's den and her commute is a mere 14 minutes. Thanks Pam for your offer and I apologize for making you clean the room.

Friday was Laurel Sanchez's eleventh birthday. We celebrated with hot cinnamon buns. It was funny because they were so hot that they melted the candles. Do you notice how the candles are starting to tip over. By the time we finished "happy birthday" some of them were laying down. After a relaxed morning we ran into Provo to pick some stuff up from Alycia's old room mate. Since we were there we did some shopping and then headed into Salt Lake. We decided to go to Pam's first. It was so good to see her after 32 years. It was also amazing what a small world this is. Pam and Dan were very good friends with Dave and Gaylene. We had a great time coming up to speed on them. We also learned that that Wilf and Laura were good friends of theirs and we were surprised to learn that they lived close by. In fact Wilf was Dan's best man at their wedding. I told them that Dave was my best man. Pam's daughter was having a baby shower that night so we made plans to come by after and meet everyone. Best of all, Amber was going to be there with her brand new baby. We then headed off to see Aunt Nola. She had invited us to come by and we wanted to see her. We had a good visit with Aunt Nola and then we talked her into coming to dinner with us. There was a missionary who served in our ward and his family owned a restaurant in Salt Lake. The Sanchez's also met us there. We had such a good time visiting that we were way late getting to Pams and we missed everyone. They then told us Amber's baby was getting blessed in church the next morning so we made plans to go to their meeting.

Saturday was a late day all day long. We got up late, we went to Provo late, we got to Pam and Dan's late, we were late getting to Aunt Nola's, we got to the restaurant late (but Mahonri and Molly were late too so that was OK, and we got back to the Courts late. It was a day of lates but every visit was wonderful. It took some fancy arranging but we were able to go to Amber's baby's blessing on Sunday morning. It meant that I had to get up early (after a very late night) and we would get to San Diego late but it was worth it. What was even better was that the Olsen's had all been down to Utah for a reunion and so most of their family was at the baby blessing. It had been 32 years since I saw Pam but it had been almost as long since I saw the Olsen's.

The blessing was a beautiful blessing and then we went over to Amber's house for a get together. I took pictures of a lot of people but I know I missed some and please forgive me but I have also forgotten most of the names. Feel free to send me the missing names and I will gladly update the posting.
--------------------------------------------------- Laura and Wilf
Amber and Lisa
Amber with her husband and daughter Yazzi and son Taten
Amber's daughter Yazzi
Amber's son Taten
Dena (formerly Olsen)
Jessie and Lori Olsen
Lori's maiden name was May and she went to school with Me and Pam and Diane. We were all in the same grade.
Pam, Laura's twin daughter, Yazzi
Dena's daughter and Laura's other twin daughter. A few years after Amber was adopted Wilf and Laura were blessed with twin girls.
-----------------------------------------Jessie's son, Jessie's grandson and Jessie Olsen

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bum Pie

Today we are in Utah getting Alycia all settled into college at the U of U. That is a story in itself. I'll abbreviate it. Alycia had planned to room with a good friend of hers. They looked around for an apartment but finally they had decided that they would live in her friends house because it was empty while her parents were in Brazil. About two weeks before school starts the friend decides that she's going to go stay in Brazil with her parents. Alycia now has no room. Lisa was on the phone daily but it is difficult arranging an apartment from San Diego because people want to meet Alycia plus the best source of available rooms is the board in the institute. We finally were able to get a good deal and this morning as we check up on it we learn that it won't be ready until the end of the week. We have several options and I'll let you know how it works out. I've noticed they have some nice parks here and I think I could enjoy camping out. It shouldn't hurt Alycia any. The institute and the campus here are beautiful.

This morning Sarah called us from school and she's feeling sick. She's had stomach aches for a couple of months now. They've gotten worse and she's been to see the doctor. They took blood tests (freaked Sarah out big time) and took stool samples (grossed Sarah out big time) and they all came back negative. When the doctor learned that she was getting worse and she's lost 9 pounds he got quite concerned and wanted to do more tests. Because we were heading to Utah we scheduled that for next week. So today things got worse than they've been before. She didn't want to miss her English class so we told her to hang out at the nurses office until her class. To make a long story short, Sarah called at least twenty times and right now as I write this she is in the hospital with Desiree Heaton passed out with an IV in her arm. Lisa is near hysteria but they think they've narrowed the problem down to "gastritis". This may actually be a blessing in disguise because if we were home we would have taken her to urgent care where they can't do the tests that they need to do. Ben Heaton is an ER doctor and took her straight to the hospital. I'll keep you up to date on Sarah's progress and Alycia's home in the park.
Once we became good friends with the Huber's we learned that they celebrated both Canadian Thanksgiving and US Thanksgiving. That is a tradition we have carried with us to San Diego. One year we made a bunch of food and put it in the back of the van and prepared to head out to the Hubers for our feast. Brandon and Ben were being very rambunctious and we did our best to settle them down. We finally got everybody into the van and off we went to a wonderful meal. At the Hubers we were unloading the food from the back of the van and Lisa was walking out to the van and Warren calls out to her saying, "Lisa, I don't think you'd better come out here". This of course got Lisa very concerned and she insisted on finding out what was going on. Finally Warren relented and let her see the back of the van. There was Lisa's beautiful pumpkin pie with the perfect print of the pocket from a pair of Levi's jeans. Apparently Ben and Brandon had been hiding from each other and Ben had hopped into the back of the van after we had put the food in the car. Ben had sat in the pie and the bum print was so perfect that you could see the stitching in the pocket and the word "Levi". I think Ben was worried that he was going to be in big trouble but we all laughed pretty hard. From that time until now we always call pumpkin pie "bum pie". Also from that time until now it seems like Lisa's bum pie is destined for some type of tragedy. Some examples; one year a bottle of spice fell out of the cupboard and landed in the pie, another year the cat walked through the pie, another year Brandon and Kira celebrated Thanksgiving at BYU and Brandon sat in their pie. Every year we can't wait to see what is going to happen to our bum pie.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Wow!! These last few days have been a whirlwind of activity. Saturday Ben and Sharley headed back to college, Monday, Brandon, Serene and Sydney flew home from Alaska, Tuesday, Alex and Sarah started school and we helped Brandon and his family move into their apartment in Malibu and right now we're packing getting ready to take Alycia up to Salt Lake City for college. I am thoroughly exhausted. As I said earlier, Sarah and I shared a birthday since we won't be here on her birthday (Sunday) and we decided to wait for Brandon and his family for mine. My birthday dinner on Sunday was roast beef and Sarah's birthday dinner Monday was lasagna. She is a major pasta girl. You'll never guess what my main birthday present is, I got a lot of them but the best one is a balloon ride. I guess the 50 helium balloons in my office should have been a clue. They were enough to almost get me off the ground. I also got a book about Henry Eyreng from Ben and Sharley. That man was an amazing man and some of the things I was taught in Chemistry were his idea's. A balloon ride from the family, a steak dinner at Outback from Sarah (can't wait to use that one), a cool San Diego shirt from Alycia (I'm wearing it in the pictures), a DVD from Craig and a bunch of really cool cards. You can get some pretty fancy cards when you turn fifty. Sarah did well too but I think her best present was this pretty little wooden heart that her dad carved for her out of a stick. Yesterday I got up early and went to pick up Brandon's moving van. We'd ordered a ten footer but as luck would have it they didn't have one. It is so frustration when they do that. They were going to make phone calls all over town and try and find one but we were rushed and I saw a big truck in the lot. I asked if we could have it for the same price. He gave it to us. It was twenty four feet long. Huge. I was worried about getting everything in the ten footer and rightly so. We didn't have a whole lot of empty space in the big van. After many delays that I won't go into we finally started packing Brandon's life's possessions in the van at about 2:00pm. By the time we got up to Malibu it was 7:30pm. What a beautiful school Pepperdine is. The picture of the ocean was taken from Brandon's law school. To make it better his apartment is directly across the street from the law school. It is literally a two minute walk from his front door to the law school. His apartment is also a very nice place. There is only one thing wrong with it. When I parked the van on the street his apartment is the farthest from the van as you can get. It is on the far end of the building on the third floor. We were dripping wet with sweat by the time we were done. We then put the crib together and then started on his bed. One of the reasons we were so late is because we made a shopping trip to Ikea for a bed (and more). I would have guessed that the bed would take an hour to put together, try three hours with all four of us working on it. What a night mare. It was after 2:00am before we had their bed made. They tried talking us into spending the night but I knew Lisa would not do well on the couch so we gassed up the big truck ($100) and dropped it off and then headed south to San Diego. We crawled (literally) into bed at 4:30 this morning. We then got up at 5:30 and got the kids up for school. The plan was to go to bed early tonight so I won't fall asleep driving to Utah tomorrow.
One of the coolest things about Rosemary is the burning barrel. To save cost in hauling garbage you are not only encouraged but rather you are required to burn your garbage. To a pyro like myself that is pure joy. Of course, this much burning doesn't come without some hazards. My first set back was when we still lived in Bassano. The screen that covers the barrel to keep ashes from flying had been hanging down the side of the barrel and I hadn't noticed that it was leaning right against the side of the barrel and was very hot. I foolishly grabbed the screen to put it on top of the barrel and received the worst burn of my life. My skin was instantly branded and burned so bad that I didn't even feel it. It only took a minute or two before the pain took over. It hurt extremely bad and I could only stand it if I had a bag of ice on my hand. That afternoon we were at the Hall's and Elna cut up a few leaves from her Aloe Vera plant and laid them across my burn. She then wrapped it in a gauze. It was a true miracle. The pain was worse than if I had ice on my hand but it was bearable whereas before it was truly unbearable. I left the Aloe on overnight and the next day I had no blisters and very little pain. I am now a true believer in Aloe Vera. What a wonderful plant.

Several years later I was fulfilling my husbandly duties of taking the garbage out in the morning on my way to work. Lisa had no trouble getting me to take out the garbage in Rosemary, now she has to hound me mercilessly before I take the garbage out. So I set the garbage on fire and headed on into work. As I said, this was in the spring. The snow was mostly melted and the grass hadn't started to grow so it was very dry. At some point some burning garbage fell out of the burning barrel onto the ground. The grass was short so it didn't start on fire but it did smolder. It took hours but finally the smoldering grass made it's way over to my storage shed which was at the back of the yard and sadly the shed finally caught on fire. This was about noon when this happened. Let me give a sample of some of the things that I kept in my shed. Five gallon can of gasoline, 20 pound bottle of propane, about ten 1 pound bottles of propane, a case of motor oil and I think you can get the picture. I am told that you could see the flames from Rod and JoAnne Dycks house out on the highway (2 - 3 miles away). You could see smoke from Duchess (about ten miles away). Lisa called me at work in near panic. I guess the heat was so intense that the neighbors wanted her out of the house for fear it would start on fire. The shed was at least a hundred feet away but I guess a bottle of propane is quite spectacular when it blows. My kids were all at school and you can imagine the excitement the kids at school had during recess. My kids were famous once they figured out it was my shed burning. The heat was so intense that even the aluminum from my bikes and ladders all burned, there was nothing left. I had a root cellar underneath the shed and by the time I got home from work the shed and all of its contents had fallen into the root cellar and the whole ash pile was pretty much level with the ground. The most surprising thing about it all is when we sat down with the insurance adjuster (I believe it was Mr Forest). We added up the replacement cost of everything that I'd lost and it came to over $10,000. If you'd asked me I would have guessed it all at maybe $3,000. The one thing I couldn't replace though was my moose antlers. I had a really nice rack and it was gone. The other sad thing is that the tree next to the shed was half dead. It looked really funny when the tree finally budded out, half the tree was covered with beautiful green leaves and the other half was dead branches without a speck of green on them.

Of course the final humiliation came when I had to go to my next volunteer fire department meeting. They were merciless and teased me relentlessly. My biggest regret is that because I worked in Bassano, I had now missed the second biggest fire that happened in the ten years I lived in Rosemary, my own shed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's a Boy

As February of 1986 drew to a close Lisa's belly grew larger and larger. Ben was preparing to enter the world. His due date was the 25th but we were kind of hoping that he would go a week or so late. Kira was born Sep 2nd, Brandon was born June 2nd so we thought it would be kind of cool if Ben was born March 2nd. Dumb eh? Lisa had gone a couple of weeks late with Kira so we figured it could happen with Ben and maybe he could be born on March 2nd. It wasn't to happen and on her due date Lisa went into labor. By this time Lisa figured she was an old pro and since she'd spent the entire night in labor with Kira (twelve hours) and she'd spent the entire night in labor with Brandon she did not want to spend so many hours in the hospital in labor with this one. She was bored and so we decided we'd go and visit Pat and Gary Norton. We were having a good visit but we were a bit oblivious to the fact that every time Lisa would have a contraction Gary would go more and more green around the gills. Finally Pat pointed out that Gary was extremely uncomfortable with Lisa being in labor so we decided to give him and break and leave. I thought it was so funny that this big old rancher who'd delivered hundreds of calves himself couldn't handle a woman in labor. Lisa finally decided that she'd like to go shopping. We were in Safeway going up and down the isles and I finally told Lisa that we'd better leave because I really didn't want to be in the store when her water broke. That would be very embarrassing. Finally she gave in and so we headed off to the hospital. As we were walking into the hospital we passed our Doctor, Dr Oberg. After our experiences with the first two we told him to go have a good nights sleep because we'd probably be here all night long. We were expecting the baby to be born early the next morning just like the other two. As it turned out, he maybe should have just stayed. Lisa got changed, got checked out and then they called Dr Oberg and told him he'd better come back. My sister Jackies birthday is February 26 and I thought it would be pretty cool if she waited until her birthday. After all, Kira was born on my Uncle Jay's birthday, Brandon was born on my sister Fara's birthday so Ben should be born on my sister Jackies' birthday. The contractions were coming stronger and stronger and I noticed it was after 11:00 pm so I suggested that maybe she should try and pant out the contractions and hold on until midnight. They about threw me out of the delivery room. Women in labor don't have much of a sense of humor. They all decided that Ben would have his own birthday. He was born February 25, 1986 right around 11:30 pm.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Branding & Proposition 8

I'm posting this blog at risk of being considered intolerant but please believe me when I say that I truly believe that we all have the right to live our lives how we choose as long as it doesn't affect other peoples lives. I believe that tolerance means that we all respect each others beliefs and that they in turn respect mine.

A few years ago California passed proposition 22 by a 61% majority. The proposition essentially stated that "only marriage between a man and woman is valid and recognized in California". Earlier this year four supreme court judges overturned the proposition saying that it was unconstitutional. They based their decision on an old law that was meant to allow inter-racial marriages. That was obviously a good law but the problem is that the old law did not refer to inter-racial marriage but rather it was worded something like "alternative" marriages. The law clearly intended inter-racial marriages but four of the seven judges interpreted it to include gay marriages. The funny thing is that based on this law polygamy is now legal in California. According to this interpretation of the law, a marriage can include multiple wives, multiple husbands and you can even marry your dog.

Proposition 8 is intended to amend the California constitution to include the wording of prop 22. This means that four judges can't overturn the will of the people. I have to confess that when I first got involved with Prop 22 I was skeptical. What does it hurt if a gay couple wants to get married? My philosophy has always been that as long as what they do doesn't hurt me or my children, then go for it. What does it hurt if a gay couple wants to say they are married? When the church made the decision to get heavily involved in Prop 22 (and now Prop 8) I figured I'd better take a much closer look at the whole concept of gay marriage. This is what I learned. Actually, before I discuss that, let me assure you that I do believe in equal rights for everyone and in California gay couples have all of the same rights as a traditional couple. They have visitation rights, medical benefits, wills, everything. This isn't a question of equal rights. That already exists. Here are my concerns:

1) Now that gay marriage is the law it is being taught in our schools starting in kindergarten. They are taught that gay marriage is just as valid as any other marriage. I don't want that taught to my children. I believe that a traditional marriage is preferred.
2) In Massachusetts, where gay marriage is already the law, all adoption agencies must allow gay couples to adopt their children. This has forced all of the Catholic adoption agencies to close down. That is definitely not good for the children. I don't know what it means for the church family services, I suppose they will close too.
3) In Canada, where gay marriage is legal, a minister has now been charged with hate crimes and is in jail because he preached against homosexuality. The same thing could easily happen here. If a gay relationship becomes legitimatized then the next step is to outlaw any Christian church that preaches the bible. That is not a road I want to go down.

So, off my soap box. I introduced Prop 8 because yesterday I was asked to go survey people in the precincts about the proposition. Going door to door is one of my least favorite things to do on a Saturday morning but Warren Beecroft and I headed out knocking on doors. One of the first doors we came to was this woman who seemed quite nervous. When I asked her how she would vote on prop 8 if the election were today she asked me how I would vote. I thought that was weird until I told her I was for prop 8 and she looked greatly relieved. I then realized that she thought Warren and I were a gay couple. It was pretty funny.
One of my absolutely most favorite activities from the time I lived in Rosemary is branding. In the spring, the new calves are all born so before summer when the cows are put out to pasture together they have to be branded. I had the privilege of branding with the Halls, the Nortons and the Hubers. What a production this is. The innocent little calves are all held in a corral and then one of the unsuspecting bovines are fed into a chute. As soon as he hits the squeeze he is clamped so tight he can't breath and simultaneously six things happen: 1) a red hot brand is shoved into the middle of the calf's ribs. I smell the burning hair and flesh as I write this. 2) another hot iron shaped like a circle is used to burn the little stubs that will grow into horns. 3) another person shoots a monstrous needle into the animals rear and fills him full of antibiotics. 4) someone sticks an even larger needle in the calf's ear and inserts a pellet of growth hormone. 5) a tag is stuck through the ear and 6) if the calf is a male, they suffer the greatest indignation. A small rubber band is slipped over the testicles. This cuts off the blood supply and in a few days the shriveled up testicles simply fall off. The amazing thing is that all of the six events happen simultaneously and are over within thirty seconds. It is such a shock to the calf that he bawls like a baby (which I suppose he is). My biggest single disappointment is that most people used the rubber bands to do the castrating. The Halls actually used these big pinchers that literally pinched of the blood vessels leading to the testicles. It had the same result as the rubber band. I was hoping that someone actually went in and cut the testicles off. I've always wanted to try rocky mountain oysters and you can't do that if the testicle stay with the calf. I've eaten some strange food in my life including horse, dog, tongue, eyeballs, chickens feet, shark fin and water buffalo ears but I haven't had rocky mountain oysters and I'm from Alberta. It isn't right.

So one year we're out at Huber's and I'm working the needle that inserts the hormone pellets into the ears. You can imagine that with everything that is going on there is a lot of confusion. This case was worse however, because we were only doing a few calves and so we didn't bother with the chute and squeeze but just roped him and held him down. The calve kicked and I had to sit the needle (shaped like a gun) on the ground. This needle was about an eighth inch in diameter since it actually fed a pellet through it. I was on the ground struggling with the calf and when I shifted position I drove the needle into my knee. That really hurt. It could be my imagination but not long after my hormone shot I started growing hair on my chest and gaining weight. I wonder!?!?!