Sunday, January 31, 2016

Baking for my Husband

Is there anything so domestically picturesque as a plateful of peanut butter cookies?

On the drive back from the funeral, my husband asked me about making these cookies. Apparently I haven't made them since before we were engaged! I couldn't believe it! He doesn't ask me for much, so I thought I would oblige.

But first, I needed a nap. We had lunch here at home once we unpacked the car and then I collapsed straight away. Just prior to doing so I instructed my husband to wake we up at any time, especially if it looked like I might sleep forever, so that I could be up for awhile before going to bed at a normal time. I went down at 1:15 and he gently woke me up at 4:30. I was shocked.

I actually apologized to him for wasting a Saturday afternoon when we could have been out snowshoeing or something. I muttered something about not being the fun ranger girl I was earlier in our marriage. He just leaned over me on the bed and said, "I'll take you just the way you are."

I smiled, "THAT was the PERFECT answer! You WIN!!!"

Then he informed me he was headed to the grocery store and did I need anything else and oh-by-the-way-I'm-going-through-the-McDonald's-drive-thru-for-my-dinner-would-you-like-me-to-bring-anything-back-for-you?

And I said something like no-I-don't-think-so-but-can-you-get-the-mail?

So I got out of bed and busied myself in the kitchen to be all domestic and I felt SO rejuvenated after that nap! In the midst of all this I chatted by phone with four of my five sisters. My husband brought some tortilla chips home to go along with the home-canned chili sauce Cousin Mike gave to us from his mom's shelf (Aunt Chris), so I sampled that along with a cookie and that was enough for my dinner. These relaxing and lazy times where I really should be somewhere doing something (classroom, homework, church work, temple) are just so pleasant. I decided to block all of my other responsibilities out of my mind and just enjoy these rare moments at home with husband as those big fluffy flakes of snow piled up outside.

While the chocolate was cooling, we watched some videos our bishop emailed to us regarding Sabbath Day Observance and talked about those. It was a perfect evening.

My husband thanked me profusely for going to the funeral with him (taking a day off from school) and kept praising me for all the things I do for him and our family. I just laughed my head off because while I was napping...he cleaned both toilets with absolutely no hint or assignment or suggestion from me! He doesn't know how good I have it! Cookies are such a small request.

The Living Go On Living

The funeral was beautiful and so peaceful. We arrived just before 9:00 a.m. for the family viewing and then others arrived at 9:30 a.m. At 10:45 a.m., the funeral director closed the doors for The Family Prayer. He invited anyone who wanted to come up to the casket for a last look to do so. After that, he invited any of the grandchildren who wanted to come to "help tuck Grandma in." One grandson approached and got to do that. It was so sweet. The funeral was full of wonderful music and some great talks. The graveside dedication was lovely. A daughter-in-law who lost her dad to the same disease at age 7, brought balloons for all of the grandchildren to release, something she remembers doing for her dad at his graveside. I loved the idea of it because it's something the children will likely always remember and I think it transitioned them from this long somber time back into something more childlike and familiar.

I have to say, my mother-in-law is now an honorary citizen of this small Nevada community. People who didn't know I was her daughter-in-law were standing around at the cemetery singing her praises. She is such a Christlike woman leaving home to help her sister-in-law at a time of crisis not knowing when she would get back. Four weeks later, she finally made it home. She was so helpful not only with the personal care of Aunt Chris in the hospital but with the funeral planning and all the emotional support. She washed dishes, swept floors, did laundry, played scribe as cards were opened, and any other thing she needed to do. It's the kind of person she is. People were hugging her at the funeral. After she got up to greet one couple, she sat back down next to me and I asked, "Who were they?" She whispered back, "I don't know!"

So we left the cemetery to head back to the church for the luncheon: BBQ pork sandwiches on homemade rolls with side salads and a variety of chips and cake. After the attention-grabbing, life-altering, emotional roller coaster of losing a family member, the Living just go on Living. We ate. We ate lunch as if it's the most normal thing ever. Because it is. The kids got bored and began chasing each other around the cultural hall. We went back to the house. We changed into casual clothes. The kids were playing all over Grandma's house even shoving sippy cups out the doggy door. But Grandma wasn't there.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Aunt Chris Has Progressed

Just a bad little snapshot (taken at Grandpa's farm in September) of a lady who crossed over to the other side around 4:00 p.m. this afternoon. She was a bit upset a couple of days ago because the only person she hadn't seen but really wanted to see before she passed was her brother, Steve. Steve didn't have money to hop on a plane from Cali until this Tuesday. However, Steve's relatives pitched in and got him a plane ticket. He arrived last night and got to see his sis. She breathed her last today. I guess that was all she needed.

Some people are taken without warning. Some people, like Aunt Chris, get to have a lot of visitors while they are of sound mind. Some leave while alone and some are surrounded by family members. It all plays out differently, but the important thing is she is not in physical pain anymore and trapped by all those diseases. What a gift to be able to say goodbye to so many and keep your wits about you. Her diagnosis was a month ago--shorter battle than some. So glad we got to see her a week ago today. Hope I can be strong and peaceful when my time comes.

Bless you Dear Aunt Chris. Alma 40:11.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Purple Prickly Pear and Stuff at Zion National Park (NOT "Zion's!")

Let's be clear. The name of the place is Zion National Park. It's not Zions or Zion's or ZiON. Just Zion. Try it! Try to be correct on this one detail. Thanks.

After a sad goodbye, we headed North yesterday and stopped by Zion National Park. It was chilly and the trails were icy, so we only tried a couple of them and didn't get all that far. We need to buy some YakTrax (or however the company spells that). Still, it was fun to be outside and it made me think about what a wonderful thing my parents did for us by raising us in the woods. I am so comfortable in the outdoors because of it and the park was just FUN. After visiting the main canyon we drove through the tunnel and out toward Checkerboard Mesa. Yeah. My Checkerboard Mesa was covered in snow and then...there was a mini-avalanche on the road which we drove through/over. Snow in Zion--a first for us. Sigh. A lovely weekend with my ranger. The national parks served as bookends to an emotionally upsetting time. How have the parks healed you?

Kidnapping My Adorable Mother-in-Law From the Hospital

K's mom loves rocks. Loves geology. In fact, we gave her a couple of geodes for Christmas (don't worry...along with other stuff). When we walk on Grandpa's farm, she grabs a hammer to smash rocks open in hopes of finding terrific fossils. She's the kind of person who chats about concretions with great enthusiasm.

She's also a nurse. She's been helping with Aunt Chris for over two weeks now--flew in from out of state. Goes to the hospital every morning and leaves late at night to stay with K's cousin and family. She's an emotional rock for her brother and sister-in-law and all the family really.

So we kidnapped her from the hospital and took her on a little walk at Pioneer Park. Just what she needed. We thought of Snow Canyon Stake Park but she felt like that was a little too far away from the hospital, so we settled on this wonderful playground of meandering.

And that's about all the medicine we had for our suffering family members.

Anyway, she's amazing. Too bad most of you don't know her.

Hoodoo Hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park

As bookends to a tough visit with Aunt Chris, we visited a couple of National Park Service sites. Neither of us had been to Bryce in the winter, so we stopped by for snowshoeing and it was glorious! The day wasn't too cold and once we got a few steps from the parking lot, the entire trail, the entire rim, the entire PARK was OURS!! We had a lot of fun hiking and chatting and taking photos. I am so thankful that I have the legs to walk and the eyes to see and the husband with whom to play. We loved the way the light was playing on the ridges. Do you see the lines of light? I couldn't get enough.