Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

It was Tim's turn to speak on Sunday. Funny thing, since two weeks before, after church he turned to me and said, "Have we spoken in this ward since we moved back?"  Nope. I guess God or the Bishop heard him say that.

Anyway, it was an awesome talk, especially considering he left all his notes and everything at the studio the night before and didn't have time to go back to Erie to get them before he had to speak.

The topic, predictably, was gratitude. It is that week after all.

I found Tim's talk profound. I hadn't ever thought about gratitude on the grand scale, or even that there might be a grand scale to consider.

So here are some of Tim's thoughts (from the notes he retrieved today) on thanksgiving that I've been pondering this week and would like to share.

"Gratitude and thanksgiving are more than gladness or happiness. All the lepers were glad; they were all happy about the miraculous change. Yet only one felt the need to return and express thanks. A sincere expression of thanks is an act of humility.

"True gratitude is related to a shift in universal perspective. The natural man orients the universe on self. Around me the galaxies revolve, and I only deserve consideration. Honest thanksgiving is a re-orienting of the soul to align with things as they really are. We are dependent...The grateful heart acknowledges reliance on others and is not diminished by this knowledge."

"By design we depend on others: Friends, family, and the goodness of God to merely survive; depend on the atonement of our Savior for ultimate but also daily spiritual salvation...What is worship but fervent and soul-deep thanks to the Father?"

"Our willingness or refusal to express gratitude might be the soul's barometer, a measure of how I am aligned in relation to the Universe."

"True thanksgiving leads the faithful to a life of obedience and service and action."

"As our ability to comprehend spiritual things increases, we become aware of the true magnitude of what our heavenly parents have done for us: the great plan of happiness, the condescension of the Lamb, the Father's work and glory, the whole of creation and the intimacy of the still small voice--all for us."

He also talked about how who we are--our worth and value and personality and character--should not be defined by what we have or our circumstances, whether impoverished or wealthy.

Anyway, it was a lot of new ideas for me, and I've enjoyed pondering them for the last couple of days.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Adopt a Song

Early reviews of the album are coming in fantastic. I am so so anxious to get it out and available to people, but we can't get this CD mastered without some help, thanks to all the car repairs last month.

So, instead of doing a Kickstarter to get Tim's CD mastered, we're asking anyone who wants to help to adopt a song. $30 masters one song, and there are 19 songs. If you adopt one of the songs, the song gets mastered, and you get:
         An advanced copy of the song emailed to you as soon as it is done being mastered
         Both physical and digital copies of the album as soon as they are done
         Recognition in the liner notes for the song

If you want to adopt a song, you can do it here: http://mistertimdotcom.com/store/

There are 18 songs to adopt (possibly 19--we have one additional track that is ready to be mastered, but we're not sure if it's going on this CD or the next--it's marked with an asterisk below). That means if you love a particular song that you, personally, want to adopt, you could email Tim tonight to be sure you get the song you want most (tim@vocalitysingers.com).  Some of the songs are new ones that almost nobody outside my household has ever heard before, so if you want to have the first listen of a new song, adopt it. You'll get the first copy that goes out.

The track list for the full album:

Bang on the Door
Clearer Skies
The Fire That Consumes
I Have Become
There Must Be Something More
A Full Set of Heartbreaks
Fine Fine Line
Fire Can
A Question Like a Tiger
Are You Satisfied*
Stick Around

Monday, November 18, 2013

Did I just read that?

Google usually does pretty well at transcribing voicemail for me.

Today, it totally scrambled one--a pretty mundane voicemail, too, and easy to understand when I listened to it.. Transcription fail, with hilarious results:

"Hi. This is *******. I was listening back for the info box. I'm going to be helping a bowel. I have to the park it okay. I can swing by. Ami wayback. I just wanted to get your. I just real quick. Because, I hate you briefly in tired and box. I've talked to Mr. Simpson the other day. Pink you know I don't have anything important here and then I do have a that's I did and it was your address. Hello. If you can gimme a call back and just tell me. I just. I remember it on, told her across the street from 12. Hopefully you'll just find and I'm a if you can by. I don't know, okay. Give me your address are just give me a Irene, Thank you so much. I'll talk to you soon. Bye. "

Well, I hate you briefly, too. Have fun helping a bowel. Oh, and here's your Irene.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Did I just read that?

"Keep all your social media set to privacy and really only accept friends with people you know for sure and not someone who could be misinterpreting themselves," Hasty said.

"Oh, I'm sorry officers. I misinterpreted myself. I didn't understand what I was saying."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Positive Attitude

Today I finally made it to church. Benji was his usual hyperactive self times ten, so I didn't hear any of the meeting except two or three times I heard, "My topic is 'The Light of Christ and Having a Positive Attitude.'"

I did not hear a single talk. I was chasing Benji around the building. So I just want to clearly state that this is not a criticism of anything anyone said. I didn't hear anything anyone said, so how could I criticize it?

But, since that was the topic for the meeting, I thought about it some while I followed the boys and watched them throw ice from a pile they found on the lawn at the church.

I realized I have some hangups about the "having a positive attitude" part.

1. I don't see how having a positive attitude is related in any way, shape, or form to the light of Christ. So I'm guessing the bishopric speaking assignment was actually about something other than what I interpreted those words to mean. (So this isn't to say the bishopric gave a bad speaking assignment, either--just to say that particular phrase has meanings to me that bother me).

2. Speaking only about adults and children (teens might be different), my experience is that people don't need to be taught about having a positive attitude. Generally speaking, being positive is a self-rewarding behavior. It is its own reward, and most people seek to be positive and happy because it's inherently better. Most people have a generally positive attitude most of the time. And the people who do not have a generally positive attitude usually need help, not a lecture, because they are suffering from some disorder or other challenge--ADHD with a negative outlook, depression, and intensely difficult stretch of living they have to suffer through. None of those people is helped by being told, "Well, just change your attitude." People become negative when there is something wrong in their lives, and it seems like it would behoove us to find out what's wrong and help rather than lecturing people on their attitude. So this is a non-issue, or its a major issue that is best addressed in a more healthy, realistic, psychologically sound way. Or maybe this is a real issue and I've just been blessed to be surrounded by generally positive people in my life.

3. The scriptures never advise anyone to "have a positive attitude." Prophets have advised the people to not despair. There are scriptures about cheerfully doing all things in our power. And they push hope heavily. But it's not hope in general--it's hope in Christ.  Clearly, God wants us to choose happiness--and I recognize it is a choice. So I don't know why I get hung up on the phrase "Positive attitude."  Maybe it goes back to the business philosophy that says that if you're  a failure, it's your own fault for not believing hard enough because if you just have a positive mental attitude, you can do anything. And that's just a bunch of baloney. I think there is more to the "cheerfully going about" thing than just having a positive attitude.

4. To me, teaching "have a positive attitude" is teaching the gospel of me. The philosophy attached to that, in my mind, is that you can just try harder and things will magically work out. And, if you happen to be unhappy or miserable, it's your own fault for not being more positive, regardless of the circumstances.

I have a real issue with that last one.

Because what happens when you get to that point in life where you hit the wall? Where you've done everything you really truly can do, worked hard, had faith to the breaking point, and you really cannot go on? That point when your heart is truly broken? That point when your enemies are rallying against you, your friends are sure you're doing it all wrong, you need help and neither God nor man will step in and save you, and you are completely powerless to save yourself despite all you've done?  What about when you're hanging on by your fingernails, and the best possible outcome is terrifying or miserable, and everything else isn't worth living for, and when you cry out for help, the people around you cannot hear, or, worse, they mock you and criticize and tell you it's too bad you got yourself into trouble?

Surely I'm not the only person in this whole wide world who has been to that spot and tasted that despair, fear, sorrow, and exhaustion that comes from trials that just don't go away.

And I can tell you that, when you hit the bottom, having a more positive attitude just doesn't cut it. There really are times when you have literally--physically, emotionally, intellectually, psychologically--done everything you can possibly do. And you cannot find the willpower or the energy to just be positive so that everything will work out. And where you know, deep inside, that smiling at that dragon isn't going to stop him from eating you.

But the other thing I know is that God never leaves us alone, even when he refuses to rescue us, and when we get to that hopeless spot where you have truly done all you can do (and therefore cannot even dredge up even a mite of positive attitude, which is a lie and won't fix things anyway), that's what Jesus came for.  And you don't have to be sad, and you don't have to despair, and you don't have to hang on by your fingernails and you don't have to cry any more. You don't have to live in that dark place, and you don't even have to stay there, despite the trials not going away.

The thing is, you can go forward, cheerfully and with patience doing the will of the Lord, waiting on His time. But it's not because you tried harder to have a positive attitude. It's a gift from God that comes from choosing faith (the active kind, not just stating that you know God is there), from praying for patience, from having hope in Christ, and from turning to the atonement to heal your broken heart and help you through. It's not because YOU can do any more, but because God can. And will.

The answer is not a positive attitude. The answer is Jesus.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

So what's it about?

That's the question I failed to answer.

I know, I know--I keep writing about Tim's album. It's kind of a big deal for us here--lots of work and sacrifice has gone into this project, and I really like how it's turned out. And I'm anxious to share it, but I want people to go in prepared for what they're going to hear. So far, when we've tried to share Tim's music with people, it doesn't go well because people's expectations for what they're going to hear don't jive with what they experience. So we get comments like, "I can't dance to this." Or "You really can't sing along to this." (We hear that one a lot).  I think those are the reactions we hear because I say, "This is really cool," and the person I'm talking to (rightly) translates that to "Oh, it must be the same kind of music I think is really cool," and then they're disappointed. Because often it's not that, whatever "that" is.

You would never pick up a Andrea Bocelli album and say, "Well, I can't dance to that."  Of course you can't, but you go in not expecting to. Or, likewise, you wouldn't pick up a dubstep album and say, "But there's not really a singable melody here." That's not what dubstep is for.

Setting appropriate expectations for Tim's music, so you can evaluate it on its own merits for what it is (instead of what it isn't), is particularly tricky because if I say, "It's classical music," you expect a different instrumentation and might be offended by the fact that Tim used pop and rock sounds and styles to write art songs. And if I say, "pop" or "rock," you would be expecting different content, different song structure.

Anyway, I've written about what the music is about musically (combining modern, contemporary sounds, instruments, musical idiom with classical vocal song structure and aims). But I haven't talked about what the album is about thematically.

Like any good poetry collection, "The Funky Introvert" is full of layers and has many meanings and layers of meanings. And Tim is usually fairly tight-lipped about what he intended when he wrote the songs. He says if he tells you what it means to him, you might not be able to find your own meanings in the songs. He wants to express things, but he also wants to leave it open to you to own the songs and have them speak to your heart what you need to hear. And he wants you to discover the meanings--and he trusts you can. (Obviously it's not wide open, but he keeps from listing out the meanings on purpose).

But I like a little direction going into a poem or collection of poetry. I like a framework to hang meaning on. So I'm telling you what it is about, to me. Obviously you can find your own meanings once you hear it. To me, "The Funky Introvert" is a collection of art songs about all the voices and experiences in life that compete to give meaning to life. There are songs about discovering that intellectualism is actually quite shallow, and songs about how consumerism actually makes you feel like you're locked out of life instead of giving it deep, satisfying meaning.  There are songs that delve into love, heroism, money, secrets, tradition...all the things that claim they are the way to have a valuable, meaningful life. The centerpiece of the album's meaning, to me, is track 4, "Monument". Everyone in life is seeking to make their lives a monument to something, to find satisfaction and solid meaning.

And, like in real life, the answer is there but it is hidden--not because we don't want you to have it, but because in life, the wrong answers are louder, more prominent, easier to access.

And, like in real life, you go through a bunch of ideas--including the one that has the secret right answer in it--before you even get to the question the songs are answering. At some point, everyone stops and says, "There must be something more to this...." And that question song is in the middle of the album, after you've committed to and tried many things and found they aren't the answer. The album starts with someone stepping back and noticing that the intellectual "nonconformity" that is actually alternate-conformity is really quite shallow and just a different face on the same old story everyone is telling. It ends with what I see as Las Vegas (and, by extension, the idea that money is the key) promoting its approach to life.

And, if you find the secret...the hidden verse (hidden in plain sight, but like a still, small voice instead of a big flashy show number) that is the key to everything--you'll see the album is about the journey a man takes in trying to become a Son of God, and everything that tries to stop him from getting there. It is about the experience of being a man in this world, about making this world into something important and making yourself into something valuable against all odds. It's about monuments and about altars and where you choose to sacrifice yourself (since we all sacrifice ourselves to one god or another--it's inevitable that the sacrifice is made; the altar upon which its made is the choice you have, not whether you participate) and what kind of monument you hope to become, and all the things that try to entice you into their camps.

And because all the songs are also poems, you can find all kinds of wonderful, specific meaning in them beyond this.

We're trying to work out how much more it would cost to include all the lyrics in the liner notes because these songs really beg to be listened to with the lyrics available because, like other poetry, the words beg to be analyzed, re-read, digested rather than just heard.

So, what's it about? You'll have to listen and find out, I guess. But now you know what it's about to me.

Monday, November 04, 2013

First attempts at drawing cartoons

I am trying my hand at cartoon characters to see if I can illustrate my own little books. It won't be fancy, but my goal is for the pictures to be better than the Bob Books (whose illustrations are rather awful). So I've done a lot of online tutorials in using the drawing program of my choice, and some on cartooning. And I've spent a lot of time saying, "Nope. It looks terrible" and putting it away, coming back the next day and saying, "Well, maybe if I just fiddle with this line using the skills I just learned...."

I illustrated 35 books in level 0 and the first 5 books in level 1 using public domain clip art. But I'm at a point where I need to start telling stories. I did a lot of editing pictures on the first 40 books and learned a lot about how people put things together. Now I'm just trying to learn how to make pictures from scratch.

So here's my first attempt at a person:
I can see things I can fix (like the lines being not the same weight, and the clothes being a little boxy still, and his hand being on backwards--oops!), but I'm encouraged. I might just learn this new skill after all!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Art Songs

I realize I might be creating confusion by calling Tim's album "art songs" and a "song cycle." I don't want anyone to be surprised or confused when they turn it on.

"Art Songs" brings to mind a guy standing by a piano singing Schubert or 19th century German Lieder. And "song cycle" calls up Wagnerian images.

And those aren't exactly it. Except they are. But not how you might think.

When you turn on Tim's album, you're not going to hear "classical" music. He didn't write a bunch of 19th-Century parlor songs. But he did do exactly what classical composers have always done. It's just "The Funky Introvert" are art songs for the 21st century, not the 19th. So if you're expecting pretty melody and a piano, you might be surprised because Tim's album is full of contemporary sounds--electric guitars, drums, heavy bass, etc.

But it is still an album of art songs. The lyrics are complex and poetic, the music is experimental and pushes boundaries (although not in an unpleasant way. No German boys screaming or long minutes of silence).

Like almost all of the famous composers, Tim is writing songs that use modern sounds and modern technology to express ideas and emotions. It's hard to experience most classical music that way now because we're listening to it many many years later.

But Beethoven wrote his songs using the most cutting-edge sounds and instruments and musical structures available to him. He even had a pianoforte made especially for him that pushed the boundaries of all pianofortes at the time. Mozart's operas were made for public consumption, not scholarly analysis. He was writing in a popular idiom, using new sounds, new instruments, new ideas, telling stories that were commentaries on popular themes and events.  Handel did not write "The Messiah" for a music professor somewhere. He was writing using a popular instrumentation (choir and orchestra) for real people to listen to. But it's not simple pop or parlor piece by any means. It's complicated and fascinating and....classical. I could go on and on: Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Paganini, Strauss....Strauss was a rockstar in Vienna in his day. We think of him as the composer of stately waltzes, but he was writing dance tunes. Paparazzi followed him around, writing down what he wore and where he ate in detail, and women swooned when they saw him and tried to get pieces of his clothing. You know....like the Beattles. These people wrote amazing music that has stayed popular not because some scholar said it was good. It's stuck around because people liked it. And people liked it because the composers made it accessible, familiar, and appealing by using the newest, coolest, in-style-est instruments, rhythms, musical styles, performance techniques, lyrics, sounds.

I'm not saying Tim's music is comparable to any of these masters. Or that it will stand the test of time. I'm just trying to point out that "classical" music was "popular, modern, cutting-edge, contemporary" music when it was written. It used new, interesting, "up-to-date" (for its time) sounds and styles and rhythms. It was never, ever written academically in an old-fashioned style.

So, what I'm saying is Tim has written art songs. And what makes his songs art songs?

Well, an art song is sometimes defined as a vocal song written in an old tradition for voice with piano. We have no art songs by that definition. But Art Songs also means a song (intended for voice) which is a musical setting of a poem (or other text) that is meant to be performed in a concert setting or other relatively formal musical event.  By this definition, Tim's songs are art songs. They are musical settings of poems. And they are intended to be performed in a concert setting. And they are a song cycle, very carefully arranged to be played in the order they appear on the album.  They're not Wagnerian. But Pink Floyd also wrote art songs that appear as a song cycle--think "The Wall".

Tim has spent the last 10 years (or more) doing an intensive study of all vocal music, in all genres he could find and study. He's delved into everything from Bulgarian women's choirs to 1920s men's collegiate a cappella clubs to opera to jazz...rock...pop...alternative rock...candy pop...classical choral...contemporary choral...modern...avante garde.... If sounds came out of someone's mouth and someone called it music, he wanted to hear, to try, to learn about that.  And, all the while, Tim, like a sponge, was sucking up all the good and filtering out all the bad, studying, learning, analyzing, writing, composing, writing more.  He would get up from dinner in the middle of a conversation and I'd find him three hours later emerging from his studio, music in hand. Our counters collected hundreds of little scraps of paper. Tim started carrying around little notebooks and a tape recorder everywhere, recording ideas, thoughts, snippets of poetry, observations, analyses of what he was seeing and hearing.  He went everywhere from rural Nebraska to Vegas, coast to coast both teaching and learning, observing, studying.

And writing.

Always songs. Usually for solo performer with a looping pedal, but sometimes with a vocal ensemble ranging from 2 to hundreds of people. I think there's a piece for violin, voice, and looping pedals (now if we can find a violinist who is interested in collaborating....). He became well-known for kazoo and comedy, but his computer filled up with Christmas cantatas, hymns, experimental choral pieces, solo-with-looping-pedals songs, amazing arrangements of choral works and popular songs alike. Art. That's what his soul produces. Commentary on society, poetry about finding God that can only be performed electronically because parts have to be played in reverse to fully express the ideas.

Ten years, Tim studied what makes something sound good. Or bad. What makes this chord right and that one wrong. What rules can be broken? What can you do with looping technology. He was writing looping songs--real songs, not just DJ beats--wiring the guitar effects pedals together himself, long before the looping technology was advanced enough to allow him to play the songs live. The technology has almost caught up. Tim has a looper designed, with six loops, on which he thinks he could perform any song he's ever written, live, using only his voice to make all the sounds. Nobody has made it yet, and when he's reached out to pedal companies, they have brushed him off. No demand. Really, that makes sense--no other loopers can do what Tim is doing, so there is no money in making a looping pedal that only he could use effectively.

And, despite the car troubles, he finally finished an album--one of many that the songs are already written for--that showcases his art music. His poetry. His heart and soul. It's not rock or pop music, even though you can hear lots of rock and pop sounds in there. It's not electronic music, even though you can hear that. You can hear jazz. You can hear all kinds of stuff. You can hear the poetry, and it begs to be parsed and played with. But what he's written are art songs for the 21st century, using (same as Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy, Liszt, etc) the instruments and sounds of our day to express ideas that apply to our day. It definitely pushes the boundaries of what is "choral" music, and challenges the definitions of choral, solo, vocal, live, looping...but it is all those things.

I just don't want anyone to be shocked when they turn it on. If we ever get to produce it (car repairs took the entire finishing and production budget. Grrrr....).  There are no kazoos. There are no pianos. There are lovely vocals, but there are also robot voices. There are lighthearted moments, but it's not comedy.

This is art music.

With rock and pop sounds.

But it's really, really good.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tim's new album

So, you might have noticed I used to blog a lot more.

Why did I cut back? I was waiting for a chance to share some good news. And it was a lot longer in coming than I thought it would be, so I just kept waiting.

But we're finally close to something good, so I'm going to write about it.

Fourteen months ago, Tim realized he needed to record a solo album. So, for a little over a year, every spare moment he has spent at the studio recording. Most of the songs were already written--he was performing a full-length live show, after all. Lots of them have been rewritten as he's worked, though.

There were several months where we spent long hours searching for someone who "got" the music enough to mix and master it for us. Tim, obviously, could hear it in his head. Somehow (not sure how this happened), I could hear what it was supposed to be. A very small handful of other people could hear what it was supposed to sound like, or at least when it wasn't hitting the mark. And nobody else could, including most of the sound engineers we sent it to. We tried getting songs mixed by several top-notch engineers, and the songs sounded great--but had been transformed into a different feel and sound than they were supposed to have. It quickly became apparent that the mixing engineers were all very talented, but somehow Tim was failing to convey to them exactly what he wanted the finished product to sound like. All the finished versions were shiny and pretty and poppy.

But that was a problem.

Because Tim wasn't writing an album of pop songs. It's an album of art songs.

With a lack of funds to pay engineers anyway, Tim took himself to the studio and learned how to do it himself. And he did so well that other engineers started telling him he should be taking clients--his mixing was superior. Even the mastering engineer he worked with said, when given a few tracks to master, that there wasn't very much for him to do. It all sounded great.

And now, 14 months and lots and lots of learning later, Tim's car broke down near the studio. So he walked on over there and worked all day, is spending the night, and will work all day tomorrow, and then it will be done. At least, the music will be. Then he has to get the songs mastered and the album mastered, and do the liner notes and CD cover design. But the music is done.

And it's really really good.

"The Funky Introvert" is an album of art songs--of lieder.  Truthfully, it's a song cycle, but Tim doesn't always perform them together live because the entire cycle is an hour long (and, when the companion album is finished--yes, it's half-way done, too--will be 2 hours long.).  Most people probably won't recognize them instantly as "art songs" because Tim is not a classical music nazi. He believes that all kinds of music have something to offer the world, so he's spent a decade studying every form of vocal music and has taken the best of all he's learned and incorporated it all into these songs.  There are elements of jazz, rock, pop, electronic, classical, etc. It is an exploration of the human voice, and the intersection between voice and technology (and, thematically, between humanity and technology). Technically, the songs are performed a cappella--there is nothing on the album except the human voice. But it doesn't sound like "Acapella" stylistically, and you'll swear you are hearing instruments.

We openly and frequently acknowledge that there is nothing truly "new" out there--that everything is part of a tradition, is derived from and influenced by something else. So I make no claims that you've never heard anything like this before. It's never true when people say that. But I will mention that one of the mixing engineers who listened to it said that, while there is nothing truly new out there, this is the closest he's ever heard to something that is truly unique.

It's an amazing piece of work, complex and layered and poetic and interesting. I can't wait until we have physical copies available that I can share.

For now, though, I'm thrilled that there's finally good news. The music is ready.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Did I just read that?

"Skydiver in Florida after parachute fails to open"

So does that mean Florida is heaven? Or hell?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Women and the Priesthood

Love how the church called the bluff of the Ordain Women "movement" (hard to claim 150 women as a "movement" since they aren't really moving anyone or anything), and in the process forced them to make a statement about what they're actually doing. They sure look silly right now (and, actually, always did).

I have had lots of ideas about women and the priesthood--how unsatisfying it is to say "well, women have motherhood...." because men have fatherhood, how the women have an integral part in the plan to get God's children home (which has two essential jobs done by those of us on earth: giving bodies and administering ordinances--and men get to do one and women the other), how women historically have been allowed to administer ordinances in places where it would be inappropriate for men to go (like a childbirth room in the 1800s) and it's a mistake to claim that meant God intended all women everywhere to always have the priesthood, how much the Ordain Women "movement" sound like Laman and Lemuel ("they STOLE it from us! We deserve the power and government!"), how it's hard to join a movement that is so selfish in action and intent when we are charged with serving others and (if we take Relief Society seriously) relieving all suffering we possibly can everywhere in the world (that's a hefty charge, if you think about it!), how the women seeking the priesthood claim they have revelation and the Apostles obviously don't--and if they think about what they're saying, that means they're seeking a fallen priesthood and I don't see the point in why they would want to do that, and how the women's actions show a great lack of faith and a lack of understanding about many, many things, about how they obviously believe that men have the power to thwart God's intentions and how silly that really is.  And about how the only really satisfying answer, to me, about why men have the priesthood and women don't is "I don't know, but God set it up this way and I trust him."

But then someone posted a link to this article, and it covers everything that needs to be said and elaborated on about the subject. Leave it to Elder Ballard to nail it.

It's a little long but a LOT worth reading.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Running away from Floods, part 4: Monday (and coming back to floods)

More from my journal:

September 18, 2013 12:58 am

I finally did get to sleep, though, and I slept until 10:00 am. Tim said he and the kids started a new fire while I was sleeping and they had fun roasting all kinds of things. Roasted mini powdered donuts was a big hit, apparently. They said that was really really good. I guess the chocolate covered minis were also good toasted over the fire, but they got a little drippy. Roasted pear was pretty good, except pears are not complemented by pine smoke flavoring (although roasting them is yummy).

By the time I woke up, Benji and Nathanael were back asleep again, Nathanael in the van and Benji in Tim's sleeping bag.

The other kids and Tim went on a little hike and learned there was a fence around the campground to keep buffalo out. Buffalo! While they explored the nature trail, I heard an elk bugling! Tim had warned me that he'd heard them early in the morning. It was a cool sound. Appropriate, too, since we were camping on “Elk Mountain,” which was so “mountainous” that even Elijah climbed to the top in about 10 minutes. Elk sort-of-Hill was more like it. Cool campground, though. Except they had discovered when they woke up that the burrs Anda had pulled out of her sweater were actually little round cacti! And there were little cacti growing all over our campsite on the ground! How the kids managed to avoid that when they were running around in their stocking feet the night before in the dark is beyond me. I had managed to drop her sweater on them when I dropped it on the ground. Surprising nobody else got them.

Anyway, while the kids explored with Tim (who hadn't sleep almost at all), I cleaned up the camp and started packing things away. Got clean clothes on everyone and then Tim re-packed the van, we put the fire out, and ate the rest of the breakfast food, and we set out for Mount Rushmore, which was supposedly 30 miles away.

It took us longer to get there than we planned because as we left the campground, we found a whole herd of buffalo, including young ones and babies, standing right beside the road by the van. They were so close that Tim didn't dare get out of the van to get his camera from the back . So we drove up the road a ways, got his camera, and circled back. Buffalo are very very large animals, and very impressive. They were so very cool to look at up close.

After we'd had our fill of gazing on buffalo, we continued on toward Rushmore. That whole area is AMAZING. Gorgeous forests, neat rocks, wildlife galore. We saw flocks of wild turkeys, herds of deer, antelopes, and buffalo. At least one rabbit, at least one chipmunk, at least one raccoon. Lots of birds. It was so cool.

The road to Rushmore is winding and cool. Takes you through some very impressive forests and mountains, with some amazing views. My favorite part were the tunnels blasted through rock in the 1920s—square tunnels, with only one lane through them. Some of the roads were split, with the two lanes going through different parts of the woods, so we felt like we were driving on a path (one lane, no shoulders or anything). As you come out of the tunnels, often you can see Rushmore in the distance. It was cool to go through the drive—felt very retro, like something you might have done in the 1940s. Also, the pigtail bridge curves were cool. They twist like a little piggy's tail, so that you can do hairpin curves without having to turn so sharply—so you do one leaf of a clover as the turn instead, going over and then immediately under the same bridge. Tim said it accommodated busses in the old days.

We were disappointed to find that it costs $11 to park at Mount Rushmore. Good for a year pass, but who wants to look at that place for a year?! I would gladly camp in those woods and mountains for days, but not Rushmore itself. It's a one-time-and-you've-seen-it kind of place.

Mount Rushmore is a giant monument to the hubris of the 1920s. It is a huge unfinished sculpture that's kind of amazing and kind of disgusting. It reminded me of the time my family went to the Grand Canyon and Ben looked down into it and said, “Where is it?” We said, “Where is what?” He said, “The Grand Canyon.” That's kind of how we all felt. And that was kind of how Rushmore felt. Oh, so they carved some big faces in the cliffs and left a giant tailings heap below? Cool? I mean, it's a big rock sculpture. Cool, I guess, but....in 10,000 years people are still going to see those faces there and...well, I just couldn't stop thinking about Ozymandias.

Oh, I forgot Hot Springs. On the way from Gordon, NE, to Mount Rushmore, you drive through Hot Springs, SD, and that was an awesome town! I want to go back there some day. It's nestled in mountains and was super cool. If we had known how cool it would be, we would have planned a day there all by itself. So much to see. Touristy town, for sure, but one with some class and a lot of quirkiness about it. It reminded me of Manitou Springs, CO.

Anyway, some of the kids tried to become Junior Rangers at Rushmore, but they all ended up having more fun running up and down in the giant amphitheater than working on the junior ranger badge requirements. They also loved the part of the museum exhibit about how Rushmore was made where you push a button to select a part of the statue, and then you push down the T-trigger to set off the dynamite, and it shows that part of the sculpture being blasted using historical footage on a screen. The boys thought that was a blast (hahaha...) getting a turn to explode the mountain themselves. Benji was disappointed, though, that dynamite looks a lot like a small toilet paper tube in real life. I was disappointed that we didn't have time to hike to the artists' cottage.

As we were leaving, a couple asked us to take their picture. We did, and they said, 'Thanks, where're you from?” and I said, “Colorado,” and they said, 'Which part?” and I said, “Boulder County” and they said, “Oh, we've been watching the news. Is your house okay?” Everywhere I went, people were really nice and supportive about that, sending happy wishes and prayers with us that our home would be okay and our community would be able to rebuild, and looking for news. I was touched by how often this conversation played out and how often people were kind and supportive and truly mourning with us.

Around dinnertime, we left Rushmore and drove a mile into Keystone, SD. It's also a touristy town. The best parts are around the bends out of sight through town, but it lacked the charm of Hot Springs.

Unfortunately, everything in Keystone was closed for the season. Finally we found a Subway that was open and had free wi-fi so we could get dinner and the directions home. No interstate freeways go anywhere near Rushmore in any way that would be useful to us (I think one leads east from Rapid City, which is half an hour north of Rushmore—both wrong directions for us).

So we wrote down the directions to get home, and Tim was too tired to drive, so I set out. Every 15 minutes or so I would wake him and have him read me the next set of instructions, and we started the 5 ½ hour drive home at about 8:00 pm.

It was a easy drive, although I noticed just in time that I had turned the wrong way once—would have taken us 40 miles in the wrong direction if I hadn't noticed the sign said “East” and woken Tim up to figure out where I went wrong (I skipped a step).

I drove 3 hours before we stopped to go potty. Then Tim drove an hour.

And at midnight, we gave up. We were 45 miles north of Cheyenne, Wyoming, on I-25 when he realized he was too tired to drive anymore, and so was I. So we pulled off at a dark exit, one exit before Chugwater, to have a little nap. It was a cool spot, parked at the foot of this amazing rock formation with a balanced boulder on top, black against a brilliant starry sky with a nearly full moon.

Unfortunately, the front seats in the van don't recline. So Tim grabbed his pillow and fell asleep sitting upright in the driver's seat. I shuffled things about for a bit, nursed the baby, and got all the kids settled into sort-of-sleeping positions.

To our surprise (and the kids' fascination), we hadn't been parked more than 10 minutes before a big dark gray pitbull appeared and circled the van, watching the kids. After a while, it ran off. But then I was afraid to let anyone out of the van, and only Anda got out once (to go potty) because strange pitbulls in the dark in the middle of nowhere don't seem like a good idea for kids.

I drifted in and out of sleep, watched the moon set behind the cool balanced rock. Watched the stars. I kept waking up and praying that we needed to drive safely home now, and then falling dead asleep again. I had Jack in my arms and his car seat was inaccessible from my spot in the front seat. I was very uncomfortable, and kept waking to be sure I didn't drop him. Finally, I stole a stuffed animal from Nathanael and used it to prop Jack up so we could both sleep. Even then, though, it was very uncomfortable.

We finally woke up and got going again at 5:30 am, just before dawn. We stopped in Cheyenne for information on road closures (freeway was open!), and to let me drive. Tim promptly fell asleep again, and I got us home okay. It was a little bit of a shock to drive into Longmont at 7:30 am and find it was a serious traffic jam from I-25 seven miles to Hover Street, and then down Hover St. to 119. We got off and went around a back way because the traffic was terrible going south, so we went around and came at our house going north and that was much better.

We got home around 8:00 am (many hours later than we planned) and unloaded the van. Kids and I went to bed. Tim showered and went to work (and didn't get to go to bed until 9:00 pm!)

It was an amazing trip--difficult in many ways, especially for Tim, and super fun in other ways.  I'm not sure we'll be touring with Tim any more. He needs to sleep on trips, and he can't with us being awake all night. We don't have to decide now, though, so I might be wrong about that.

But certainly we have more adventures and trips in our future because I like them. Even with 7 kids in the car.

Running Away from Floods part 3: Sunday Evening

More from my journal:

September 18, 2013 12:58 am

We were only 2 ½ hours from Mount Rushmore, so we had decided that we ought to go visit. So the plan was to camp that night—first time for the kids—and then drive up the extra hour and see Rushmore in the morning, then drive home.

Two hours of driving got us to Wind Cave National Park—the first state or national campground we found—just as the sun was setting. So we quickly found a campsite as far from everyone else as we could and set up camp. Why so far? We're noisy. We didn't want to bother anyone.

We made a fire (had to borrow matches from the next campsite down for that) and roasted marshmallows, and hot dogs, and frozen burritos (that worked well, actually), and potatoes, and a yam (that was super yummy). I experienced my first properly roasted marshmallow (oh! That's why people do that!). The kids were in heaven.

Truly, we are not properly equipped for camping. We have 9 people and we own 4 sleeping bags. Well, five if you count that cheap one that is colder than wrapping up in a quilt. We actually put that one under Caleb as ground insulation. Tim bought 3 tarps before we left on our trip. And we ended up with 4 marshmallow roasting sticks and whatever food and supplies we had left over from the hotel stay plus what Tim grabbed at WalMart while he was getting the atlas (and, to his credit, he did really really well at supplying us with the necessities). I did manage to remember to bring woobies for everyone, but only Tim had a coat, and nobody had hats or gloves. And we had half a dozen pairs of Tim's socks, but no others for the kids (so even Jack wore Tim's socks). I forgot any kind of warm clothing for the baby (but I did have blankets and extra large woobies, so he stayed warm enough). Tim got a handful of cheap flashlights at WalMart on our way out. But we had no tent, no mosquito repellant, no camp stove, no lantern, no padding for sleeping on...

But Tim and I have camped before, and we figured we could make it work. So we roasted dinner and dessert over the fire. Then, while the kids played, running around the campground stocking-footed, mostly, even though we asked them to keep their shoes on, Tim fed the kids, supervised potty trips, and held the baby and I laid out beds for the kids. I put Benji, Nathanael, Elijah, Jack, and me spots in the van, so I could sleep on a bench instead of on the ground, which I knew would never work. I put down two tarps on the ground outside, and layered a few blankets on the tarps and then lay the four sleeping bags out there, each with a blanket tucked inside to keep the big kids and Tim warm. Even just standing around outside had left everything wet from condensation, so I laid out their pillows and special stuffed animals and then put another tarp over everything to keep them dry. Poor Tim was left with the sleeping bag that doesn't zip at all. Anda's only zipped half way. We really were not equipped.

Then the kids all went to bed. They saw a deer wander through the campground as they were getting into bed, and were thrilled to hear owls hooting and screeching.

And Tim and I sat up talking until 1:00 am or so. The moon was nearly full, but dark clouds kept racing across it, making it look very Halloweenish and spooky. To make things even more eerie, there was an owl hooting in the woods (Dan cried when he realized that, with a congested head, his ears were too stuffy to let him hear it!). And then a different owl started shrieking in a different part of the woods. Sounded like a child screaming. It was really, really spooky and super cool. Really fun.

At around 1:30, I got tired and it got cold, so Tim braced the top tarp over everyone with clips and bungie cords (it was windy and kept blowing off), and then it was weird to have to say good night and good bye to him as he went to sleep on the ground and I went to sleep on the van bench--almost like we'd been on a date and he had to go home now.

Neither of us slept much, as you can imagine.

Running Away from Floods Part 2: Sunday Morning

More from my journal:

September 18, 2013 12:58 am

Sunday morning came too soon. Saturday night more kids went to bed closer to on time. Tim tried to sleep. I got all the kids in bed by midnight-ish. Then I check on Longmont—lots of heartbreaking flood videos. My own tears started to echo them, especially when I saw people posting on facebook that they hadn't heard from parents, that grandparents homes were gone, that every single road to the west side of Boulder County is gone (and the roadbed is gone, and the ledge the road was built on is gone....so where do you rebuild?!). I cried a lot and felt so helpless and awed and confused and just so sad.

But not sleepy. So I wrote in my journal, and had a shower, and at 3:00 am put myself to bed. And lay there wide awake until 5:00 am. Alas—sleep disorders don't care if you have to wake up in the morning.
But I had to wake up in the morning, so when the alarm rang at 9:00 am, I got up. I got myself and all the kids ready for church, packed everything in the hotel room up so we could check out, and was just starting to haul stuff out when Tim got back. He had had to sing at a worship service as part of his contract for the tour, so he finished that and rushed back to get us to church.

No time to pack the van if we wanted to get the sacrament, so we left our stuff in the room and loaded the kids into the van. The church, it turned out, was about a mile from the hotel, and easy enough to find. We made it, coughing and wheezing, just in time for sacrament meeting. Which we coughed through. I was mortified.

Half way through the first talk, Tim turned to me and whispered, “We have to be out of the hotel in half an hour.” So I stayed in sacrament meeting with the little kids, and Tim took the four big kids to get the stuff out of the hotel room and check out.

Pause in the narrative to describe this situation a little better. We arrived at the church building and were startled to find it was a mini. Tiny little building with a tiny little parking lot. We walked in and it was a tiny little branch of the church with about 30 members there. Two or three families with kids, some couples...I saw lots of pants on women, T-shirts on women. The man blessing the sacrament was dressed in his finest—long (ankle-length) black duster coat, fancy black brocade cowboy vest, custom-made silver-and-leather bolo tie, fancy striped black button-up shirt. No hat, of course. He later told us he lived up there in the panhandle of Nebraska because he found a house for sale there on an acre for $9000. Good house, too, and the seller traded them their mustang for her house. Classic car for a house on an acre with no house payments ever sounds like a good trade to me!

 It was a tiny branch of the church, but it was totally full of Saints. The Spirit in the sacrament meeting was so, so strong. The first speaker gave a talk on President Benson's talk on pride, and everyone listened (and I know this because all the subsequent lessons and talks referred back to the first talk). Then the high councilman spoke and he was plain-spoken, straightforward, gospel-centered. He talked to the people, and they understood, and there was no pretension, no Carefully-Crafted talk intended to make people laugh and impress them. No stories about Sports (all our Longmont High Councilmen seem to be pining for the good-ole-days when they were star high school athletes...it's always disappointing when our High Councilmen come speak because their talks always seem short on gospel and long on peripheral stuff--this Nebraska talk was the opposite). He preached the gospel, exhorted the people to do righteously and live obedient to the commandments. The Spirit in that meeting was AMAZING. Something I've missed and been hungry for.

So, after sacrament meeting, Tim came back with the kids and said we were checked out of the hotel, and he had to get back to the Willow Tree Festival to perform. I said, “I need to stay with the Saints and be here. When is your show done?” He said he'd be done by one o'clock, so I had him send the kids back out of the van to join me, and we told him to come back for us after his show. We had to sit somewhere, and I'd rather sit in the church with the Saints than in a park festival, no matter how nice the festival was.

There were only a few kids in the primary, so they usually have two classes: junior primary and senior primary. The guy who blessed the sacrament teaches senior primary, and this awesome lady who wore a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt with her skirt to church taught the junior primary. They were both unassuming people, faithful and kind and generous and I was so impressed with them both, even as they tried to figure out how to double the size of their primary to accommodate all my kids. They joined the two classes and had them together (we in Longmont are so blessed that we have enough kids to have two primaries—junior and senior—to teach kids on their own levels. I cannot comprehend why my ward insists on doing it as one when we don't have to!).

 Benji refused to go to primary, and so did Elijah, so we sat in the hall. Caleb joined the 7 other teens in the youth program, and he had fun. And I was so thrilled when I checked on everyone that, unlike the children in town who had been so mean to the kids, the branch kids were having a great time and had accepted my children and made friends with them. It was cool. (I found out later that the kids who had made friends with my kids are also homeschoolers—I guess homeschoolers have their own culture, and they attract each other!)

So, sitting in the hall, we had the chance to talk to everyone in the branch. They were ALL amazing people. They were truly concerned about the situation with the flooding back home, and were kind and thoughtful and really sincerely interested in applying the gospel to their lives more fully, even though it seemed to me that they had completely embedded it in their lives already. I spent a lot of time talking to the high councilman's wife, Linda Wiseman (?) as she held another member's baby so she could run the primary. She knows bunches of members who work at the college in a nearby town, and thought she could get the college to bring Tim in to perform. I guess the rural areas are starving for entertainment because usually nobody will come out to them. Anyway, Linda told me success stories of homeschooling 2 of her 7 children, and how thrilled she has been that the homeschooled kids know how to learn and have curiosity and an ability to teach themselves, and the "college educated kids" really can't learn unless someone tells them both what and how. She's a big fan of homeschooling as a result.

After the meeting block, the members pulled out food. I guess they were having a potluck dinner, and they invited us to join them. I tried to decline—feeding 9 extra people who you hadn't planned on and who couldn't add anything to the feast is unfair—but they insisted and also insisted that we eat first. It was amazingly yummy food, and a huge blessing. So we stayed and hung out with the Saints there for as long as we could—until Tim had to get back to the festival for his final show.

It was balm to my soul to be with the Saints of God. My favorite part of touring is meeting the amazing people in the church all over the world. These Saints were especially wonderful with my kids. They were baffled as to why I would apologize for the kids' behavior, even when they got their feet on the table during dinner. "Kids! They're just kids. What's the problem?" They were so happy to have us there that nobody insisted Benji fit in or Nathie be quiet. They just accepted us and loved us as we are. Too bad that seems to be so hard in big wards. For all their advantages, they never seem hungry to have people there, and that's sad. I would have stayed all day.

But then we had to leave.

Back to the festival, we watched Tim's show. The final performance was MUCH better than the first I had watched. After the first, I had begun to wonder if we didn't need to kill the group (not the members, just the group as a performing entity) because it was so rough. But the last performance was fun and energetic and worthwhile. I enjoyed it and was relieved.

Then we wandered the festival while Tim was cleaning up. We found a booth where they were selling bracelets for a quarter—nice glass bead bracelets—so I bought one for each kid. The old cowboy running the booth sure thought it was peculiar that my boys each wanted a bracelet, too, after I bought one for Anda. I also bought them little hand-made wooden cars he was selling for 50 cents each. And, after Tim got all loaded out, we discovered we couldn't find the directions I had printed to get us to our next destination. (Of course we found them later—when we started unloading the van when we got home!).

So that necessitated us finding the WalMart in Chadron, the next town over, to buy an atlas. I was unhappy that we had to buy something on Sunday. Tim pointed out that we didn't have enough food for camping that night, either, so he took care of that while I got people out of their Sunday clothes.

I left Benji's Sunday pants on him. He found little snags in this pants and started pulling and actually pulled the threads out of the weave until there was a lovely, perfectly rectangular hole in the knee of his Sunday pants. He sure finds creative ways to ruin his clothes. I've never had a kid unmake clothes like that before, by unweaving the fabric!

Then we were off and driving through Nebraska, looking for South Dakota.

In Which we Run Away from Flooding and have an Adventure

The singers did make it out of Boulder, by the way. Both of their houses are intact.

We made it out of Longmont. Tour in Nebraska.

More from my journal:

September 15, 2013 1:59 am
Yesterday (my gosh was that just yesterday?) I hadn't slept much. I held Jack upright all night so I could be sure he was breathing, and he was having a rough enough go of it that I worried all night. Plus this sickness that everyone's had finally hit me full force. And I was worried about the whole city flooding and washing away—which is kind of what happened. Actually, the whole county.

So when it was time to get up and go, I had not slept much and I felt like crap. But Tim figured we could probably get to Nebraska, and if we didn't then we'd have no mortgage payment. So, dragging and unhappy, I helped load the van and the kids and we headed out. We forgot TONS of stuff—my whole kitchen kit I had prepared for hotels, Elijah's bottles (which would prove disastrous in the long run), and apparently my brain.

And I was so tired, I knew I couldn't drive. And Tim was so tired he could hardly drive.

But it was a 4 hour 45 minute drive—easy peasy, right?

So we set off at 4:30 pm, planning to be in Gordon, NE, by bedtime.

There was only one road out of Longmont that was intact. So we took Highway 66 out to I-25, and I-25 North toward Loveland. We noticed just in time to hit a turnaround that at Loveland, the traffic was backed up. Highway closed? Yup. Signs warning of that? Nope. We got off at the exit before the closure and took the frontage road until we came to a roadblock. MPs from the National Guard were stopping every car, one at a time, asking where they were going and telling them how to get around the flood. Nice of them, but thank goodness we got in the frontage road line instead of the freeway exit line. We had one car in front of us. The other line was many hours long.

So the nice man told us to head to Wilson Road, take Wilson up to 34, and 34 back to the freeway where we could get back on no problem.

So we headed out the direction he pointed. We don't know Loveland. We hit Lincoln—way out from the freeway—and it didn't look like the road we were on went through, so we turned. And we ran into road after road after road that were flooded over. We just kept following the traffic and eventually found Wilson. It's about 10 miles West of the Freeway. So we took Wilson to 34, followed the traffic there, and found ourselves on the only intact bridge across the Big Thompson River, which was in full flood.

That was an awesome and terrifying sight.

10 Miles back through Loveland and we got to the freeway, and it was closed in both directions, with a line of cars that had been let through from the exit we took but stopped at the next one. Glad we missed that! But the freeway was closed! So Tim headed east, knowing that about 40 miles from the freeway in the other direction was Highway 85. He got us to 85 and we headed north.

Normally, it takes about an hour to get to Cheyenne Wyoming from Longmont, Colorado. Yesterday, it took over 2 hours. Maybe over 3. It was well after dark when we got there, and we had left at 4:30 pm.

Feeling hugely relieved to have escaped the floods, we headed into a misty, abandoned landscape that felt like we had driven out of reality and onto the moors in Wuthering Heights. Misty and rolling and empty except for a farm that would appear out of nowhere suddenly and then disappear into the mist behind us. The mist grew thicker and thicker until it was rolling by the van, and then it was fog. Thick fog. Fog like you couldn't see 20 feet in front of you. Really amazing. It felt like riding through a fantasy novel—so the kids made one up that was quite entertaining.

Then we reached Cheyenne. We were glad to get there, and stopped at an Albertsons to go potty and buy some dinner. The kids were excited to actually touch fog as we walked from the van into the store. Everyone was happy to be free and finally having a grand adventure, away from the weather troubles that had beset us so far and were ravaging our county back home.

And then, just as we walked out of the Albertson's, the storm hit.

This was a STORM. Really, a STORM. Oh my gosh. A STORMSTORMSTORM. Within seconds, the downpour had drenched the parking lot and turned it into a lake. Tim ran and hopped into the van and pulled it up to the curb, and we still all got very wet climbing in. I had been about to take a turn driving, but Tim opted to drive instead.

I am grateful he did.

Cuz I'll be damned if that storm wasn't following us.

For the next hour we drove north in driving, sheeting rain. Huge raindrops pelted the van (and everything else)--more like buckets of water than drops. Freeway was slick. Roads were slick. So much rain the headlights caught the drops and made it hard to see the road through them. But so pitch black dark out there north of Cheyenne that without headlights you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. Except every 35 seconds or so when the place lit up like daylight because of bright, dramatic lightning. Such lightning as I have never before seen ever. Ever. It was amazing. Huge and dramatic and scary and lighting the whole storm around us so I felt like we were driving in an enormous upside down bowl with lightning in it.

Really scary. Then the fury of the storm would pause, like it was catching its breath, and then let loose again.

And then it was gone.

Just like that.

We drove right out of it.

There were a few pockets of rain after that, but nothing so amazing as That Storm.

Just about then, we hit the Nebraska border. It reminded me of a dramatic storm we drove through when I was a kid on vacation with my family--that one stopped right on the Kansas border, like it refused to set foot in Missouri. This one apparently was a Wyoming-only storm.

So, storm-free, we moved on. It was dark and cool and we were heading toward Alliance when we hit fog again. This time it wasn't misty-and-then-foggy. It was like driving into a wall of pea soup fog like you read about in novels. The kind of fog that makes me want to dress in Victorian clothes and walk through just so people wonder if they really saw that mysterious figure disappear into the fog. Now we couldn't see 10 feet ahead, and the headlights made it worse. But still black as pitch outside without them, so on we went.

By the time we reached Alliance, we were out of the fog. Tim had done a residency in Alliance, so he showed us his old haunts there. And then we headed out of town.

And then CARHENGE!

Oh, I was so delighted when we stopped there and looked at all the cars planted in the ground and standing on end and stacked on top of each other. A perfect replica of Stonehenge made with cars. Tim got pictures while we waited in the car because it had closed an hour before. But COOL. So cool.

Another hour of driving brought us to Gordon, NE, and a lovely big hotel room.

And then the fact that I had forgotten the bottles became a disaster. We couldn't get Nathanael or Elijah to go to sleep. Elijah coudln't sleep without his baba. Nathanael couldn't sleep because Elijah was up.
FINALLY we got to fall asleep. At 5:00 am. After that harrowing 8 hour drive (instead of just under 5. Sigh.). After not sleeping the night before and being sick and so so so tired and worried about everything.
Then today we slept until about 2:00 and then had to get up and go to the festival in town here to watch Wonder Voice perform. They were decent, but not stellar. Maybe because they were singing while three of their home cities washed away? Bass wasn't quite right--I'm guessing due to the sound system because the singer is pretty talented usually. Sound guy squashed the heck out of the treble so there wasn't any high end in the girl's voices. But Kate and Shaw are awfully fun to watch on stage, even when their home town is washing away in floods. And Tim's percussion is awesome.

But it was muggy and hot and when our kids tried to play the local kids shut them out and Nathanael got into a shoving match with a boy (oh my gosh you should have seen those little guys run when I yelled to Nathie, “Stop it right now! Don't you know fighting is against the law?!”). These kids up here in rural Nebraska have different expectations of play—lots of taking sides and making teams and nobody can come into my fort—and they wouldn't let our kids in, not onto any of their teams and not to make their own teams. So that made me angry. And Tim took Benji potty and they were gone a long time and that frustrated me. And Tim needed to eat desperately and was shaking and couldn't help make decisions.

Kids were grouchy. Dan and Nathie have had a really hard time. So we stopped at a grocery store and everything cost a fortune but I had to buy food so I did anyway. But it cost $4 a gallon for milk!

EVERYTHING was awfully expensive. So then I didn't buy enough for tomorrow because I forgot it was Sunday and we were going camping...ooops.

Got back to the hotel room and Benji was melting down and dehydrated and the room was hot and we couldn't cool it off and Tim had to go back to some dinner for performers (but he was late and didn't get any but dessert)....

Not fun. At all.

But then we took the kids to the park across the street after dark when it was cool, and they had fun. And we chased a beacon across the sky and found it was a lighthouse at the airport!

I'm so tired.

Also, silly little quotes and pictures of dinner on facebook seem awfully shallow when everyone in my entire county knows someone who is struggling with significant loss and our whole landscape is changing permanently.


Blogger has been down for a week or more, so I couldn't post all the posts I wrote mentally, and then I forgot some, so I'm going to cover the same information with quotes from my journals, now that Blogger is up again.

September 13, 2013 4:22 am (or so)
I got a call at 4:30 am that said the schools were all closed for today because of flooding. I had already been alerted via facebook by Chris Schenk that something was going on with flooding in Boulder, but I was surprised they closed the schools here today. And tomorrow. The kids were disappointed and angry (isn't that funny?!).

Then it continued to rain all day. It's been raining for days now, and I love it. But the FLOODING. Oh my gosh. Several smallish dams washed out up the canyons, many roads washed out completely. No bridges have gone that I've heard of, but all the dams, even the ones that didn't wash out ,have been overtopped by flooding waters, and many of the bridges have water flowing over them. Roads are buckling. Several have collapsed completely. And all this within Boulder County! I see this stuff on the news all the time, but this time it's MY town, my ward, my stake that is being covered in water. It was a mix of unusual monsoon activity blown up here from Mexico that just hasn't stopped dumping water combined with mountains that were scarred by fire, eliminating their ability to hold water (all the spongy undergrowth burned up) and sealing the ground somewhat up high, so the water all runs down and down some more toward us. The ground, after 3 days of heavy rain, was saturated down here, so the water couldn't soak in. Perfect storm of ingredients for massive flooding, and that's what we have.

The normally low and slow St. Vrain River, where I even let my 2 year old wade across unaided because it's so gentle and shallow (12 inches at the deepest spots where we go), is raging along, ten feet deep and spilling out of its banks all over, flooding businesses and homes and the fairgrounds and roads ...and this time they're all roads I drive on all the time! It's flooded—severely--and they don't think it's peaked yet—cutting Longmont in half, and neither side can reach the other. We, luckily, are on the uphill side of the flood, so we're safe, but thousands of people are evacuated, and I was worried all day that Tim was out in Denver, on the other side of the flood, but he made it home safely enough by staying on the freeway past the flood and coming around and back down to our house. He made it just in time. An hour later the water overtopped the freeway, too, and now I-25 is closed.

So I spent all day glued to the computer, reading stories of Sister Fritz taking her granddaughter (3 years old) down the street from the house to look at the flood and then turning around and finding the flood waters had risen behind them to almost impassable in 3 minutes, and of members taking blankets and socks down to the evac centers. Looking at video people had taken from all around town.

When the rain let up just a little, I dressed all the kids and we walked south to the crest of the hill, right where the road is closed, to see if we could spot the flooding from a safe distance. We could only see a tiny bit. If it had just been me and Benji, we would have walked down there and looked up close. He's always wanted to see a real flood. But I didn't want to walk everyone down there because it's uphill coming back, and it's about a mile from the house. So a long walk to come back uphill in the rain after.

... [Then] Tim reminded me when he finally got home—we're supposed to leave on tour to Nebraska tomorrow. I hadn't prepared at all. He stopped at WalMart on the way home for tarps and diapers for our trip, and said the cashier was so cheerful with him and then she said, 'We lost everything. The flood filled our basement. My husband finally cut a pipe, and now the water is flowing out instead of in, but our house is ruined.” And there she was, at work. Tim's heart broke for her. He said we'll likely be hearing that story a lot in the next few days. Waiting to hear if everyone I know is still alive. 3 deaths have been reported so far, but no doubt more will come.

We got called by both our home teachers and my visiting teacher this morning, everyone checking if we're okay. I guess they activated all the phone trees for everyone to check on everyone and see if all the members were safe. So far, some houses have been damaged by water, but nobody is homeless that we know of.

Oh, and the floods are so severe, they've cut off several towns from any aid. Lyons (in our stake, and only about 6 miles from here), is completely cut off, with all roads into and out of town covered with water, and one of the two bridges into town about to collapse. The sewer, water, electricity, and gas and the only grocery store for the whole town is shut off now or destroyed, and the people are stuck, most of them having scrambled to higher ground in town, but left with only what water and food they had on hand for the next 72 hours.

I immediately thought, “Oh, no! What do we have on hand?” Thank goodness for the prophets' advice—we don't have a full years' supply, but we do have enough food and water stored to get through 72 hours if it were us cut off from the rest. Jamestown, up the mountain, is also completely cut off and might be completely destroyed. Highway 7, which we came down from one of our Monday Adventures, has been washed away in multiple places in ways that will be difficult if not impossible to fix. Estes Park has 3 major roads into and out of town, and all three have washed away—not just been covered with water. The only way in and out now is Trail Ridge Road, which is a dirt road that is impassable in wet or snowy weather and is due to be closed any day because it shuts for the season when it snows, and it's way high up and snows early there. Might have snowed already. Roads in Loveland and in Lafayette have washed away completely, including major arterial roads like 287 and Highway 34. Highway 66 is shut multiple places.

So. Much. Water.

Yucky, brown, churning water full of debris.

Seems like every time a stake I'm in fasts for water, we get floods. Happened in 1983 in Provo, too. Except here, they ran out of sandbags!

So we're pretty sure we can leave town for Tim's tour (and might be good, just in case the drinking water in Longmont is compromised). Pretty sure the two singers in Boulder can't get out. Will be an interesting show!

This could be miserable. I hope our flat roof doesn't fail while we're gone. Or while we're here for that matter.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why errand running is impossible with kids, even when they're being good....

Today I had 4 errands to run in order to get ready to go to Utah:
1. FedEx a broken toner cartridge back to the online store so they can send me a new one
2. Drop off paperwork for school with a friend so she can turn them in for me on Thursday when we're out of town.
3. Buy snacks for the trip.
4. Buy a part for the car.

Easy-peasy, right?

Here's how it went:
I told the kids I was leaving and they could stay home with Caleb if they wanted.

Four kids wanted to come with me to the FedEx shop because they'd never seen a print shop before. One wanted to come to the auto store and, since it's close to home, I promised to pick her up I FedExed my box so she could see the auto parts store but not have to come to the FedEx shop.

So went to send the box. Easy and I found the paper I want for the covers of a little book series I'm working on (60lb cover stock, just for reference).

Then back home and picked up Anda.

Then to the auto store. Benji invited himself into the employees only section in the back to look around and we didn't know it until he reappeared (no wonder we couldn't find him). I notice there that one kid is wearing oversized cowboy boots and another is wearing oversized snowboots--and it's hot hot hot outside! No wonder they're all sweating.  So five kids and I buy the car part we need.

Then two kids decided they'd rather not come to the other errands, so I take them home. But they add one errand to the list: "Mom, can you drop this off at the library? I forgot to turn it in when we took the books back last night."

Off to a store to buy snacks. But the store is closed. They went out of business this week and closed 3 days earlier than I thought they would. Of course I didn't notice this until I had taken 3 kids out of the car. Back into the car and we're all hot.

So off to the library. Drop the book off (refusing to let Benj go in). Benji wilts and asks to go home.

So I take him home.

When I drop him off, two more kids pop up and say they want to come to the store after all!

So we load up, and Benji brings me a cup of cold water (ahhh--melt my heart that he's so thoughtful!) and I give him popsicles and we're off again, only Benji stays home.

So I'm heading off to the store with four kids and me, just like we started, but it's a different four kids. (!)

We drop off the paperwork with a friend and I dont' even turn the car off because if anyone gets out, we'll never get home because we'll stay to play.

Then we shop for a long time buying snacks and still forget that we're out of mayonnaise (good thing we won't need it for a couple of weeks!).

FINALLY get home and the kids say, "Oh, but we wanted pizza for dinner! Can you go buy some?"


45 minutes of errands took well over 2 hours. And that was with no meltdowns except Jack (and you kind of expect that from a baby after they've been in a car seat for over an hour).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

With stats like these, why would you not homeschool?

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up
Source: TopMastersInEducation.com

Making a spectacle of myself....by buying groceries.

I went shopping tonight. Lots of food on sale--good sales--at various stores around town, but I needed to refill Caleb's asthma prescription, so I went to WalMart and decided to match all the ads there.

So I loaded up one cart with tired preschoolers (3 kids and the oldest is 4--the rest stayed home), and one cart with:

32 lbs of strawberries
20 lbs of peaches
25 ears of corn
5 lb of bananas
5 lbs of pears
5 lbs of nectarines
5 lbs of grapes
1 large watermelon
1 package of cardstock
1 refilled asthma prescription (10 minutes flat to refill it--they did really well this time!)

At that point, Jack's diaper started leaking AND he had a melt down (I didn't let him eat the plastic he ripped off the bag of nectarines while he was trying to get at the nectarines, and apparently that's the end of the world when you're 7 months old and hungry).  So I stopped shopping and decided to get milk and mayonnaise and snacks for our upcoming trip to Utah at another time.

I took my two full carts to the checkout, still juggling the screaming baby, and started matching ads.

That's when the lady came up and asked if she could take a picture of my cart full of strawberries. I said yes. She said her dad would get a kick out of it because he's 81 and she hates strawberries. Okay?

It was a good thing she thought it was funny and liked the kids even though Jack was screaming and the other two were quite literally running in circles, because after I matched all those ads to get all that food (for $65--they were good sales), the computer rejected it. Said that the difference between the sales items I claimed and WalMart's prices were too great, and a manager had to come over. I learned a long time ago that even though WalMart can't require you to produce the actual ads in order to match them (their own policy), it's a really good idea to have them on hand and show the cashiers while you match the ads. That was a lifesaver this time. The cashier had to call the manager because the computer was accusing me of lying, but she could vouch for every single ad price I gave them, so they had to do some kind of rigamarole with managers keys and secret codes typed into the computers and they finally let me pay for everything.

"Is it fun to have three boys?" the cashier asked as Jack finally calmed down. I guess she couldn't see that his leaking diaper had soaked the front of my shirt with pee? I know she could see the little ones running in circles, though.

"I have six boys," I answered absently. Then I kicked myself. The right answer was, "Yes!" I didn't need to make myself more of a spectacle!

The cashier said, "Six boys and one girl?" And I couldn't figure out how she knew that one girl part. Maybe I was babbling earlier and mentioned that? Probably. I talk to cashiers. Anyway, they kept insisting I needed help out to the car, and I kept insisting I didn't, even when the cashier ran after me and Jack started screaming again and I was juggling two full carts.... I never want people to help me out to the car because I don't really need them looking into the back of the van, where I have a bin of coats and blankets (for hiking), a double stroller that isn't folded because why go to the trouble when it fits, three baby backpacks, two camp chairs, and a giant rock Benji rescued from the river. It's kind of a tetris game to get the groceries in safely where nothing will fall on them, and I don't like to play that with someone standing there waiting to "help"--it just means I can't work slowly and put the kids in the car first, and I always feel guilty about feeding them unwashed grapes to keep them quiet while I load the groceries, and it really is just easier for me to do it myself at my own speed and in my own way.

Then on the way out to the car, the people who parked next to our big old van asked if I was a canner? (Uh--have you EVER seen someone can strawberries?!). No. She always wanted a big family, she said, and she saw all those berries and thought I must have a big family and then she saw the van, and she knew, but her husband won't let her have a big family (he was quietly loading the groceries into his car and nodded vigorously at that)...

And I realized everywhere I turned in the store, people were looking at me and my cart full of strawberries.

Next time I'll just wear a sign that says, "I have seven kids and they eat this much." Or maybe "I freeze them and use them instead of popsicles for my kids."

32 lbs of strawberries isn't so much. I've bought 50 lbs before. And I regularly buy 25-lb boxes of peaches and nectarines. And 25 ears of corn isn't SO many. Is it? I mean, we ate them all for dinner. That seems a pretty reasonable amount for 9 people.

One more reason to shop in the middle of the night: I'm a person then, not a circus sideshow.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Advantages of Night

We're shifting our schedules forward again, much to my dismay. I tried everything I could for a month to shift back to a normal time, and it didn't work. But school is starting, and we have a trip to Utah coming up, and we want to be daytime people for those.

I hate hate hate shifting the schedule forward, though. It's so disorienting. We have nobody sleeping at the same times, and nobody knows what day it is, let alone which meal we're supposed to be eating or when.

Plus it doesn't work any more. Last time we shifted forward, within a week we were back going to bed at 4:00 am. Even with trying to stick to a normal schedule, if one little thing comes up that lasts more than 2 nights keeping me awake past bedtime, the schedule is shot. (Last time, the kids got sick.) I think it's all part of fibro--I MUST have enough sleep in order to function with fibro, so if I go to bed late, I have to just keep sleeping until I've slept enough. I can't just go without like most women do for a day or two and then catch up.

Anyway, this time, I've noticed that I don't even like being awake during the day.

For one thing, it's much, much too hot and muggy. Nights are cool and drier.

For another, day is noisy. Night is quiet and fairly still--no visual or auditory noise on our busy, busy street.

Also, people! Oh my! People come out en  masse during the day. I know you're probably laughing at me. Don't get me wrong--I like people. I chat with grocery store clerks and people at bus stops. I'm not really an extrovert, but I'm not really an introvert, either.  But there are certain advantages to being out when most of the people are not out.

For example, I never have to stand in line for anything ever. Not at the library, not at the grocery store, not anywhere. Two days in a row we've gone out at noon, and I had to stand in line everywhere I went. Lines and fibro are very much not friends. I hate lines. I can't stand in them. And I can't stand still and wait for someone to finish doing something--getting peaches, reading ads, whatever. It hurts to wait for someone to get out of my way, so I don't like to have to wait.

I also never find myself in anyone's way, even with 7 kids around me, when we go out at night. And the kids never bother anyone, even if they sit on the floor or get loud. And they're easier to spot if they drift (or run) away from me a little because there isn't anyone else around at night.

Plus I can work at my own speed at night. If I feel like going fast, nobody is in the way. If I want to mosey, I'm not in anyone else's way.

It was quite a shock to go the library in the middle of the day and find it crammed full of families. I'm used to taking my kids to the library from 8-9 pm (every week, even)--and nobody is there. They get to play with the legos by themselves. They can sit and look for books without getting anyone's way. They can play the puppet stage or watch the model trains or use the felt friends or sit in the beanbag sea (yes, we have a very cool library for a small town) without waiting for someone else to get done. And, more importantly, the kids can approach the librarians themselves and get the help they need without standing in line, without the phones ringing, without being hurried along so the next person can get help. We can stand and chat with the librarians, and it's okay because nobody is waiting and nobody is breaking the rules. The little ones (even Elijah) can get themselves on the kids' computers and nobody cares if they used them for half an hour or 45 minutes because nobody is waiting.

A lot of our stores put out the discount and scratch-and-dent things as the night shift starts (like 10:30 or 11 pm), so I always get first go at those things. And, because they stock at night, the open-all-night stores have all the things that are on sale right there in stock when I go. (And, obviously, I'm less likely to go to a store that isn't open all night!).  During the day, I often find sale items are out of stock, but in the night, I rarely find empty shelves.

The night staff at stores is much nicer than the day staff. Less stressed, less busy, more inclined to chat, nicer to the kids. They remember, too, what we talked about last time and ask about things. The night staff is less stressed, under less pressure, and less likely to be overworked. Plus they get paid more, so they seem happier to be working.

Traffic during the day is not fun. At night, at least in our town, they turn a lot of the lights to flashing yellow lights, so getting around town is super easy. During the day? Not so much.

Plus, nighttime is full of beauty and stillness and mystery and creativity. The day time is hot and noisy and smoggy and full of everyone's problems. Night is full of everyone's dreams.

Day is convenient. And day is right in a lot of ways.

But I do love the night.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Time Capsule Amusement Park

Every year, for the summer reading program at the library, the kids earn free tickets to Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver.

The last couple of years, Tim took the big kids only.

This year, we all went.

Oh. My. Goodness.

That place is heaven for people like me, who love all things cultural history and old.

The amusement park has been in the same place since 1908. It has grown over the years, but only in adding things, not in remodeling or remaking or replacing things. The result is a fantastic, mostly unrestored museum of amusement park history, with signs, rides, and ticket booths highlighting different eras in design and history.

Many of the rides appear to be vintage. At least one is a non-functioning antique that has been there so long the trees have grown up into the ride.  Even the kiddie rides appear to be vintage--car racers, chrome-and-steel roller coaster, 40's style bombers.  There are some awesome art deco things going on there--a "Whip" ride that is all chrome-and-deco. Ticket booths that are quintessential art deco. There are some very very 60s color-block buildings and signs, some oh-so-50s "future world" kinds of signs. Fountains hidden in bushes because they changed things up. 1920s once-fountains that are now planters scattered around, the lion heads on the sides still painted gold.

The place is a treasure!

My favorite parts were the 100+ year old carousel and the defunct mini-train that used to circle the lake.

The carousel is AMAZING. It has all original, antique wooden animals. The horses still have real horsehair tails! Seriously. I couldn't believe they let people ride these old, collectible horses, but we went round and round, up and down, riding horses, pigs, rabbits, zebras, gazelle. It was gorgeous and amazing, all at once. I hear it's the oldest continuously-functioning carousel in the US, but I don't remember where I heard that. It was amazing, though (and the girl who ran it, Mariah, was super awesome). I still can't believe that people are allowed to touch that thing. It should be in the Smithsonian.

Anyway, the little railway line had two trains--a very Disneyland-style little open train like they have at a lot of zoos (and Disneyland), and a mini chrome-plated art deco train that was unbelievably cool. The tracks went around the lake, and past a vintage grandstand that was all in disarray that looked over the lake. Tim told me they used to have speed boats on the lake as part of the park. The dock is still there, but the little walking bridges that go over the train tracks are falling apart, so you can't get to the dock. And the boats are gone.

There is also a early 1900s white wooden roller coaster. And an old ferris wheel. Both still functioning, of course.

Oh, and next to the parking lot is an old wooden "Speedway". It's closed, and we didn't try to get inside even though I really, really wanted to. I could see from the parking lot, though, that trees were growing up through the grandstand seating area, so I'm guessing it hasn't been used in well over 50 years. I want to go inside and look around, though. Wouldn't that be the coolest thing? I just want to go explore and excavate the history! It's so incredible. All of it was.

The whole place was really amazing. You could trace the growth of the park by looking at the lamp posts. As they added new sections, they made no efforts to make the lamp posts match the rest of the park. Instead, they added newest-latest-coolest lampposts. So you can walk through the park and see lampposts from the 1900s, and the 1930s, and the 1950s...it's super amazingly cool.

I would pay to park there and not have any rides--just walk around and enjoy the old stuff.

What I think they should do with that place is put a little money into restoring it, and then open it as a living history amusement park. I don't think there are any of those around. I've never heard of one. So you let people ride the rides still, but you put the ride operators in vintage costumes (if they'd go for it--mostly they had teens trying to make a buck on a summer job running things). And you put up displays, signs, etc identifying the history, the historical design elements, talking about how people had fun through the ages, etc. The thing this place has that other places don't have is a handful of vintage rides from each of the major eras (note that we didn't see much from the 40s--wartime materials shortages would have prevented them from building new stuff, I imagine), so you could have a wonderful walk through history where people could actually still ride and try and experience the history instead of just gaze and ask questions.

As it is, if you don't want to try the rides--if you just want to see--it costs $2.50 per person to go in. Very reasonable for a museum, even if they think they're an amusement park. And super cool.

They just need signs on all those exhibits....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Did I just read that?

First line of an article in the New York Times (especially confusing because I thought I was reading the Deseret News: "Across the street from Tiffany and other luxury stores at the City Creek Center, the Salt Lake Temple stands as a symbol of the commercial investment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/realestate/commercial/mormon-backed-mall-breathes-life-into-salt-lake-city.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

I'm not sure that's what they meant to say. The temple isn't a symbol of commercial ANYTHING.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Did I just read that?

Homeless woman knives subway rider...

Knifes....knives.....what's the difference, right?  Oh, wait...I get it. We can never have twenty knifes because that's bad grammar, so obviously, we have to use "knives" for everything. Kind of like "and I"--it's the only way to say it.

("Gibberish!" says my 11 yo).

Drudge Report tried to correct it: Homeless woman steak-knifes subway rider...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Did I just read that?

Google likes to transcribe my voicemail messages for me. Sometimes they get it right. Today? They said the topic for the Primary Scripture tomorrow at church is "Whenever you can't, I can be forgiven."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

New blog, just for ice cream experiments


It's not pretty yet. My thinking is First get the ideas down before I forget what we've tried and how it came out, Then worry about the pictures.

Also, start taking pictures of the ice creams I make.

But at least I'm getting the recipes down before I forget!

Did I just read that?

From Foxnews.com: "Man shoots pictures of wolf chasing him on motorcycle in Canada"
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/06/21/man-shoots-pictures-wolf-chasing-him-on-motorcycle-in-canada/?intcmp=obinsite#ixzz2WwMtm1M

If a wolf were on a motorcycle, I'd take pictures, too. Even if he wasn't chasing me! 

I guess Canadian wolves are more talented than our local wolves here in Colorado.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Ribose and Fibromyalgia

My mom and sister bought me ribose to try as a fibro treatment. Normally, I do nothing for my fibro because  I've never heard anyone say something really actually worked.

But my mom tried this, and her sister did, and it worked for both of them.

I was still skeptical, but since Mom and Beth actually had the stuff sent to my house, I figured I had to try it.

When I was in first grade, I remember looking at the trees along the very top of the mountain ridge and thinking they looked like they were trekking along up there, like a pioneer train. By the time I was in sixth grade, I had forgotten I'd ever thought that. Had it even occurred to me, I might have thought I was mistaken. But the next year, in 8th grade, I got glasses. And then I could see the trees up there on their everlasting pioneer trek across the mountain ridges, and I remembered that I used to delight in looking at them. I had forgotten they existed because I couldn't see them anymore.

Taking ribose has been like that.

Just like I didn't know I couldn't see, I didn't know I didn't have any energy.

I had defined having energy as the opposite of being tired. And I knew how I felt when I woke up and I knew it took all day to get tired, and I didn't wake up tired or feel tired or sleepy all day. And my limbs weren't weary like they are after I go hiking or lift a lot of boxes, so I wasn't that kind of tired either. So it never occurred to me that I was lacking in energy.

But then I took ribose.

And--oh! This is what normal people feel like?  You mean moms take their kids places and do stuff on purpose because they want to, not because they have to? Oh! I remember feeling like this! No wonder I could walk 10 miles a day in Europe without blinking. And go hiking with my friends. And play ultimate frisbee. And have a job and, you know, do the job.

The first day, after just one dose, I got a headache. I had read this happens to some people, and to ignore it for the first 3 days. That night, when Tim came home, I was a little bouncy. I talked straight through, skipping from subject to subject, for at least an hour. Maybe two. He sat there a little stunned and then smiling and then just about laughing at me with a sparkle in his eye.

I haven't been hyperactive since then, though. No headache either. My body adjusted.

The first two weeks I took it, I took 1 tsp 3 times a day, stirred in water. I took it with food always to avoid the headache. And I had energy. Not buzzing with energy like the first night, but the ability to do work. The ability to engage my brain and have a conversation and get up and DO stuff. Any stuff.  But I also couldn't settle in and go to sleep at bedtime. I just wasn't tired. And that pushed my bedtime later every night, so it was a good thing you only are supposed to take 3 doses for 2 weeks because I was going to bed long past dawn (like 9:00 am!) at the end of the first two weeks. And 3 doses made it so that I just couldn't wake up in the morning. I was so drugged, I couldn't shake it off, even after 10+ hours of sleep.

I seem to have hit a sweet spot with 2 doses a day, taken at breakfast and at lunch or between lunch and dinner with a snack. One dose and I spend a long time just sitting in my chair all evening, and I can't get the kids to bed on time because I don't have the energy to get up and do the work it takes. Two doses makes me feel like a normal person, energy-wise, though. I feel like I did in college, before  my mission (which is when the fibro struck). I did stuff then. Took dance classes. Worked. Walked everywhere. My mind was engaged and curious and questioning and active.

Tim noticed. He noticed that I took the kids hiking with him. All the kids--all 7 of them. And I talk to him. And I'm up doing stuff with the kids. We made a goal to make every kind of cookie in our cookie cook book this year--and we're actually working on it steadily. We planted a freakin' garden. Seriously. A garden! I actually wrestled with Benji on the bed on purpose and was glad afterward. I smile more. We shook cream in jars to make homemade butter and I made not one but two lumps worth. I shook a jar for 20 minutes! Twice! And was glad afterward! I made 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 12 dozen snickerdoodles, a double batch of lemon bars, and 4 dozen orange cookies in 2 days for a party. And it didn't kill me! Or even phase me. The kids noticed that I talk to them more and for longer periods of time. I can engage with them more. There is no brain fog. Ever. Any time during any day.

Also, amazingly, I don't crave sugar anymore. I actually crave the kinds of foods I used to want to eat when I was a kid (apples!).

The downside, other than figuring out the doses so I can get the right sleep at the right hours, has been pain. I am feeling more fibro pain more often. I think that's because I moved around as little as possible for many years, and my body isn't used to moving around. At first, I felt a lot of pain every day. Now I feel less than I did at first--I don't know if that's because I added magnesium to my daily vitamins or because I'm adjusting to having energy. I'm hoping my body adjusts and that, as I have more energy, I can get more gentle exercise and that will help with the pain and movement. I certainly have had to learn how to treat my body gently even when I have energy. Before, I didn't have the option to not be gentle--I didn't have enough energy to not be gentle with myself. Now I have to choose gentle--and the pain is there to remind me when I miss the mark. It is pain without brain fog to numb it, too, so I notice it more acutely. But it's not unbearable pain. And it's not a new thing. This is my old familiar fibro pain. I know this pain, and I know enough not to be distressed by it because I know it is liar pain, not indicating my body is damaged or in danger, much like PMS is liar emotion, caused by hormones instead of human experience that needs to be processed and dealt with. Liar pain and liar emotion can safely be ignored, even though it's real. But the pain does still stop me from cleaning the house, even though now I have the energy to do it.

Is it worth it to gain more energy and pay by gaining more pain at the same time?

Are you kidding? Is there even a question?

Suddenly, out of the blue, I feel human again. And I didn't even know I lost that. I feel like a capable person who can do amazing things, think amazing thoughts, raise amazing kids, finish things, start things, dream things, make things, solve problems...Live.

I don't feel like superwoman. But I do feel like me again--a me I forgot existed.

What a lovely blessing. Who knew that a little box, ordered by my mom and sister, had a new life for me inside it--one that I didn't even know I wanted or needed.

Of course it's worth it.