Friday, November 4, 2016

Life

Life. It touches everyone. Some for a brief second, others for many decades. It is sometimes dignified, sometimes dull, but aways fragile. A gift. There are times in life that make you question: what is the true meaning of life? is there life after death? Sometimes these questions can be answered during the simplest of moments. I had one of those moments this past week. As my dear grans health started to spiral into decline, I had many opportunities to sit with her and ponder life. Hers. Mine. If you have ever had a doubt about life after death, sit with someone who is preparing to leave this life. It is a very humbling experience. As I watched over my gran slipping in and out of sleep, holding her hand, I couldn't help but parallel that experience to the experience of a new baby. In the one case the life is brand new and loving parents hold their sleeping child close as they quietly comtemplate its future. They do for their child all of the things that the child is unable to do for themself; feed, bathe, clothe, and hold them with a feeling of reassurance and love when words fail. At the end of life, we come full circle. Now, instead of thinking of the future, we look back on the great life and accomplishments of our loved one. As I sat last week, feeding my grandma, I looked up at her calender and saw a picture of a happy baby, getting ready for a meal with the quote: "There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be love." It's true. This amazing woman before me had been that happy baby in that picture. She was loved and doted upon then later in life she had the opportunity to have babies of her own then grandchildren and great grandchildren to love and now at the end of her life she is having that love come back to her. My grandmother was loved, a lot. She was a kind and giving person who loved her family more than anything else in the world, and I think all of my family members felt that love because she always told us how proud she was of us and our accomplishments. She will be missed but thought of often and fondly. She was a great role model for me and I will always hold in my memory the times just her and I spent together, laughing and talking and enjoying each others company. Whether my life ends up being short or long, I know it will be happy because it is my privilege to have people like my gran in my life who love me and teach me love in return. Thanks for the lesson, gran.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

National Go Topless Day

(If you were hoping for a scandalous photo because of the title, sorry to disappoint!)

Well, I did it again! It somehow slipped my mind and I totally spaced National Go Topless Day! You would have thought that it would have crossed my mind many a time as I begrudgingly woke up and put on yet another bra and t-shirt. This year the event fell on a Sunday which meant I would probably have to skip the t-shirt for something even more frilly, possibly with buttons. The world is so oppressing. I mean, the one day where the world says it's okay to parade around practically nude and I have to have a total brain lapse and forget! After getting to church and looking around, I guess I wasn't the only one that forgot. I guess I am thankful I forgot, since everyone else did. Being the only one would have been awkward, not just because the air conditioner was on full blast, but because it was also high counsel Sunday. So does this mean that because I didn't remember to go topless today that I don't believe in equality between men and women? Darn straight I don't! In my world, men are men and women are women. We were built different on purpose for different purposes. I don't want to be a mans equal, heck, I don't want to be any ones equal, I want to be me! Why can't people accept that they were given their body, be it male or female, for a reason? This equality stuff is for the birds. If I were a mans equal then I should be expected to do everything a man is expected to do, including: lifting heavy things, registering for the draft, being the bread winner, lifting heavy things, providing for his family, etc. There are plenty of women, I am sure, that wouldn't mind lifting heavy things and would give up staying at home and spending more time in the kitchen, these are the same women that think that if a man can walk around without a shirt on, by dang, so can they. I'm not on board with that. I prefer to stay in the home, and yes, in the kitchen. I want to make use of the body God gave me by being feminine and some day bearing children. I don't want to run around topless and have to have people gawk and feel awkward around me, not to mention the back aches! Forget it. God made me a woman and like my Mother Eve, I have realized my nakedness and have decided to covered it up out of respect to God. I just wish the world would stop tearing each other down with this equality stuff and instead, build each gender up by celebrate how amazing our differences really are! Being a woman is awesome! I think men are awesome too! We are two different kinds of awesomeness, like peanut butter and grape jelly. Both pb and j are products of plants that grow totally opposite of each other, one on a vine that stretches up tall and the other from a bush buried deep in the soil. Their taste is unique, one earthy and hearty, the other sweet. The grape is totally different than the peanut and we can appreciate and celebrate them differently but if they were equal there would be no differences to celebrate and instead of enjoying a nutty and sweet sandwich, we would just have a bland sandwich. What I am trying to say is that we need the peanuts and the grapes! Love who and what you are. Celebrate your unique differences. Build up genders, stop trying to make them equal. And for pity sake, keep your shirts on!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thoughts on Getting Older... and a bit about love



A strange thing happened to me the other day. A customer whom I have known for several years dropped by with some seeds that he wanted me to start growing for him, a new and exciting tomato, anyway, towards the end of our conversation, I made a comment. I honestly have no idea what the comment was but my keen ears picked up the sound of my voice as if it were the first time I was hearing it, and it changed! MY VOICE CHANGED! It all of the sudden sounded--OLD!
It took me by horrified surprise. It was as if the world stopped and my mind sped up. I slipped into one of those mind conversations, you know, the type that only you and yourself are privy to.
"Was that me?"
"Yes that was you, who do you think it was?"
"It didn't sound like me!"
"It was you!"
"Maybe something got caught in my throat? What did we have for lunch today?"
"Nice try. You're old and it is about time you sound like it."
"No, you're not old, you're still young, why you practically leapt out if bed this morning!"
"Leapt? When was the last time you leapt........"

     ..... "Christina, Christina, about the seeds, what were you saying?"

I was forced back into reality but was only able to mumble something under my breath. He obviously had no idea of the crisis that I had just endured because he just thanked me and walked away.
It is amazing to me how my mind panicked in this small crisis and how quick it was able to jump from horror to horror. This was the workings of my mind for the rest of the day:

       Your voice has changed

       You're aging too rapidly!
            
                   You don't even have a husband yet!

                    Your poor barren womb!

           You're going to die alone!!!!

           VALENTINES DAY IS  THIS WEEK!!!

Hold up! Get a grip! And what does Valentines Day and getting old have to do with each other? It is true that I may not be where my 18 year old self thought I would be--heck, I'm not even where my 30 year old self thought I would be. But the fact of the matter is, this is where I am and other than the change in my voice, I love where I am, I am happy here, and until something comes along that promises to make me happier, I should stop acting like I am being punished!
It is true, I am a lucky person. I belong to a rad family. I have friends that mean the world to me. I love my job and my plants, and my three cats make the perfect roommates. Life is good and it has been my experience that good generally leads to great. So I have greatness to look forward to. If I wanted to squander all that greatness, I could sit at home focusing on all the things I don't have and that greatness will never be achieved. 
I know that there are a lot of people in the same boat as me. I see the passive aggressive things you say about life and love on your various social media tools. Most of their anger seems to stem from their single statuses. To them I ask, if you aren't happy now, how is including a spouse into your life going to make you happier? What would you even want a spouse for in your miserable state? They would only be there with you to help you commiserate! That doesn't sound like any fun. Life is hard enough at times without purposely being dragged into someone else's pity party. Besides, no one ever brings cake to those miserable parties!
So what is a person to do when they have found themselves getting old with changing voices and over active minds telling them that happiness is slipping away? I'm glad you asked! Here are my suggestions:

    DANCE. Just turn on the radio to something with a beat and lose yourself for a few minutes. Never mind the neighbors. Mine are fully accustomed to my dance breaks and for the record, I think their faces tend to be more amazed at my awesomeness than appalled at my lack of rhythm and proper instruction.

   CALL A GRANDPARENT. You don't have a grandparent? Call someone else's then!

   GO OUTSIDE. Just go! Who cares about the weather, just go see something outside--take some bird seed with you. 

   PUT NEW SHEETS ON YOUR BED. Odd, I realize, but seriously, if your day didn't go as planned at least you have nice, crisp, fresh, clean sheets to jump into! 

   LEARN A NEW KNOCK KNOCK JOKE. After you have learned a few, try them out on your nieces and nephews. Don't have nieces and nephews? Try them out on someone else's. 

   TRY DRAWING AN ELEPHANT FROM MEMORY. Even if you can't draw. No peeking at any pictures either. This will make you laugh, guaranteed! I have found that no matter how many millions of images of elephants you have seen in your lifetime,  when it comes to drawing one out on paper, all of the sudden you will have no idea where the trunk actually attaches.

Now I realize that I am no doctor and these things may not cure you. They have worked for me at one time or another though. If they don't work for you, make your own list! But for heavens sake, don't get stuck feeling bad about yourself and your life. And don't blame it on your singleness or Valentines Day! As I see it, Valentines Day is a day to tell all the people in your life that you love, just how much you love them! It doesn't have to be a lover or a spouse, it could be your mail man for pete sake! Spread your love and it will come back to you--ten fold!
As a final note, you will be happy to know that I have decided to take my voice changing experience in stride. I have added it to my first few wrinkles and my strands of sparkling silver hair. I have found that despite the change, I am still happy! Not to mention I can now hit every note to Wham's, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go."







Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thankful



Isn't this quote the best? My friend Viki shared it with me a month or more ago and it has been on my mind ever since. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is about it but it really does strike up my heart strings! This year I have spent a bit more of my free time getting to know some of my ancestors through genealogy on family search and copies of their written histories. In one of my previous blog posts I shared a funny story that I had found about my fifth great grandmother and her "dancing cat". I am finding little stories about the lives of my family members that highlight their hard work, their wonderful sense of humor, their dedication to their faith, and their fierce love and devotion for one another. There are thousands of branches in my family tree! Like this quote states: I literally am the product of the love of thousands. I love this time of the years and I love this week especially, the week of Thanksgiving. It is a wonderful time to be together with my family and let them know of my love for them. Coming from a big family, there is always lots of love to go around. I love, and am so thankful for all of my 26 nieces and nephews. I hope they can feel the love of those who have come before them and I hope that they, someday are able to pass that love on. There is much gratitude in my heart and I believe that love it its driving force. Love was present in the very beginning of time when a God loved us so, He sent His son to be the Redeemer of all mankind. It was out of the love for His brothers a sisters that a sinless man went about doing His fathers will and was despised for it. He never, not for a second, stopped loving those that were His accusers. I am the product of His love also. Although I know that my love never can or ever will match His, I pray that my love will never run out. That I can be mindful to the sufferings of my brothers and sisters, here, and around the world and have the love and compassion needed to help ease their suffering rather than inflict more pain with my lack of understanding of their unique situations. I am thankful to be who I am, I am grateful for the knowledge of my potential, being the daughter of a divine father that loves me. Love.
It is all about love.
Love without end.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Peter Winstrup


In June of this year, national news made a report about an interesting find, a fetus, hidden in the coffin of a mummified Bishop. That is were my story begins. Being intrigued by the story, I read all about it. I became not only interested in the fetus, but also in the Bishop, Peder Winstrup. I had an upcoming trip to Denmark and I was excited to learn that Lund University, the University in charge of the study of Mr. Winstrup, was not far from where I would be. After making arrangements with the museums director, a date and time was set to meet the mummy of Peder Winstrup.

The Two Men I Met in Lund

Tucked behind the Lund Cathedral, which was founded in 1080, in the south of Sweden, lies the Lund University Historical Museum. It is a wonderful museum with rooms of varying interests ranging from Zoological displays, Medieval Church art, to  Iron and Stone Age artifacts. I met up with the museums director, Mr. Per Karsten, and he took me around for a guided tour of many of the different exhibits. I could sense his love of history and antiquity by the excitement in his voice as he shared valuable information with me about some of the artifacts that the museum houses. Before meeting Mr. Winstrup, Mr. Karsten wanted to introduce me to the life and times of the mummified Bishop. I was told that he was born in Denmark in 1605. He was a very well educated man, holding many titles including; Doctor of Theology, Chaplain to the Danish King, architect, and printer. He had a real love of learning. In 1658 at a dinner with the Swedish King, Carolus X, Peder made the suggestion to the King that a University should be established in Lund. This idea excited the King and 8 years later, Lund University was opened. Peder was knighted by the King. During the time that the University was up and running, Peder Winstrup held the position as Bishop, a title he would have for 41 years. He died in 1679 and was buried in the Lund Cathedral. Armed with this information of his life, I now had the background story to go along with the man I would shortly be meeting. Mr. Karsten drove us out to the warehouse facility where the conservation and observations on the mummy were taking place. For me, it was an incredible experience walking into a room that held the best preserved remains of a remarkable man from the 17th century! Details like hair and clothing came to life. Pictures just can not capture how intricate the clothes were stitched or how fine the details were on his leather gloves. Such a remarkably preserved time capsule. Mr. Winstrup was buried with his internal organs intact which makes him of considerable interest to those who study medicine. Information about his health, from his bones to his teeth as well as the food that he ate and the illnesses he may have had make him of great value to the medical world. There are actually many branches of education that this mummy is of interest to. Take for instance, the textile world. His clothing style as well as the materials used to make his clothing are pieces that can be studied. Also entomologists and my field, horticulturists, can gain information from the herbs that were used in the pillows and coffin "bed" he was lying on. A bed made of hyssops, hops, juniper berries, lavender, and other herbs. These herbs also attracted insects and their residue can be studied. In essence, the man who played such a pivotal role in education, continues even today to educate. CT scans and study's are ongoing and should be completed soon along with published information on all of the findings. The fetus that was found at the foot of the coffin will also undergo examinations to determine whether or not it is of relation, which seems unlikely. The fetus was an extra discovery as was a small sack containing 5 teeth that was tucked into the coffin. The mysteries of these two items will hopefully be solved in time. The museum is going to create a display for a few items including the original coffin and clothes of Mr. Winstrup. As for the body of the Bishop, he will be laid to rest in the Lund Cathedral, after a grand ceremony, December 11th, 2015.    So what did I learn from the remains of a 336 year old Bishop? I learned how important history is, not just history but the preservation of history. Advances in science and medical fields are forwarded by what we learn from studying the past. I am thankful for dedicated historians, like Per Karsten, that preserve the past and I know that many people owe their lives to discoveries made from delving into history. When the original story about the mummy of Peder Winstrup hit the press, it wasn't met with a lot of kindness. Most of the critics were upset that the dead was being disturbed to be poked and prodded at. I can assure you that this can't be further from the truth. Only the most professional care and respect has been shown to Mr. Winstrup. If it wouldn't have been for the intervening by Mr. Karsten and others, the coffin (which was headed out of the church to be buried in the ground) and all of its contents would have been buried forever. We would never have the information that we now have about life in the 1600's. All in all, it was a trip that I will never forget. I am so grateful for the time that was spent by Mr. Karsten on my behalf, helping to educate me so that I might do the same for others. If you are ever in Sweden and get the chance to visit the Lund Historical Museum, please do so, it will be well worth your time, tell them I sent you! To find out more information about Peder Winstrup and the ongoing study, please visit the University Museums website: http://www.luhm.lu.se/Main_eng.htm ,

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Gypsies

People are so interesting, don't you think? We are all like walking books. We all have stories. We all live such unique lives. I am always so curious about people. I love to silently study people and try to figure out anything I can about them from simple observation. I am sure I am wrong 50% of the time but it keeps my life interesting to guess none the less. I love foreigners the most. I feel like they have longer stories and with more drama, if they actually were books, in my world they would be the best sellers! They have lived their lives outside of my little realm and I find that fascinating. I have not met a group of foreigners that haven't sparked my curiosity. This past week was The Eastern Idaho State Fair, a people watchers heaven! Oh, and it did not disappoint! For the most part though, most of the people who attend the fair come from the surrounding areas so they are pretty much the normal sight in my day to day. There aren't many foreigners, unless of course, you happen to stop by the gypsy booth. You know the booth, even if you haven't seen it, it is the one with the banners promoting palm reading and tarot cards and the sound of bells and chimes is heard when the wind blows and there are a lot of long haired woman with scarves wrapped around their long skirts or tied up in their hair. These are the real gypsies, not the ones that call themselves gypsies because their parents gave them the name Willow and they have a fairy tattoo. Real ones! I like gypsies. They have an interesting history. Not all of it is pleasant, but they are still interesting. My beliefs and their beliefs don't jive at all, but I still respect their customs and ways. My friends have a booth at the fair and it just happens to be right next to the gypsies and every year it has been a custom of ours to buy a spell stone from them. It is all in fun and because I know that travelling fair gigs can't make anyone a millionaire, I don't mind giving them a dollar for the stone. Essentially, what a spell stone is, is a small glass rock with a hand painted symbol on it with a bit of glitter to make it sparkle. There are many symbols and they all have a bit of an explanation. What the gypsy asks you to do, after she has separated you from your dollar, is to close your eyes and think happy thoughts and reach into their giant purple, velvet bag, pull out the stone that you feel comfortable grabbing and hand it to the gypsy and she will tell you what it means and how it applies to your life. I realize it is all in fun and I would never use it as a gauge in which to live my life, that being said, I had to chuckle when I pulled out my stone and handed it to the reader. I had pulled the footprint symbol, the traveler. I immediately started to smile and chuckle to myself as she began to tell me that in a very short time I would be taking a trip, a vacation. But unlike other vacations, this was more of a vacation for learning rather than for fun. She told me that I would be safe and have a very unique experience and that the things I would learn would affect other people. Crazy! How did she know I would be heading for Denmark in a little over two weeks? I had to give her some props and we chatted about my upcoming trip. I told her that I was hoping to do some genealogy while I was there because that is something important not only for my family records but for the individuals that need their work done here on earth. She was very curious about what I was saying. I also told her about how I would be seeing my very first up close mummy at the University of Lund in Sweden and learning about the herbs used in his preservation. After talking to her, I actually think that her accurate reading of my stone even surprised her! It was nice to be able to share a bit of my beliefs with her and she share her customs with me, we were on mutual ground. A simple Idahoan and a gypsy. It just goes to show that we are all brothers and sister and we all are all bonded together, if by nothing else, by our Creator. That experience gave me something to think about and hopefully it did the same for her. I am excited for my trip and despite being told that it will be a safe trip, I will continue praying that it will be so, just in case!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Trial by Jury

It is no secret that I have been an absolute mess this week. My emotions would rival that of a roller coaster. I can generally hide how I feel in certain situations by using my poker face or my humor, but due to the lack of sleep and my over active brain, I had forgotten, this past week, which face was my poker face. I have always been lucky. Luck isn't always a good thing though. This past Monday I hit the lucky lottery and got the rare and terrifying experience of being picked as one of 38 out of a room of over 100 to sit on a panel of prospective jurors for a criminal case. Luck made me #37 out of #38. Out of those 38, 14 jurors (12 jurors and 2 alternates) were picked. After answering a panel of personal questions presented to us by the defendant as well as the plaintiff, luck made me juror #14. Panic hit me when my name was called and I was asked to take my seat to the left of the judge in the jury box. I broke out into a terrible sweat and my mind instantly started to race. "How in the world did this happen?", "I can't be on this jury, what if I make a mistake?", "What if I find him guilty and he is innocent?", "What if I find him innocent and he is guilty?". I looked around the room to see if anyone else could hear the screams that were coming from my head but everyone else seemed calm and collected. No time was wasted and we jumped right into the case that we would be undertaking. A horrible case. The defendant, representing himself in court, was being tried by the State of Idaho on sexual assault charges against a minor, in this case a 5 year old boy. At this point I wish that I were blind and that I would only have been able to hear the case instead of see it because first impressions can be tricky and I have to admit, from the second I walked into the courtroom and saw the defendant....not even knowing at the time that he was the defendant...I knew that there was something different about him and immediately I suspected he was not okay. It is true what they say that good people, even people who are striving hard to be good, carry with them a light, a light that shines through their faces and brings warmth and comfort to those around them. This man had no light, I couldn't even detect a spark. For the next 10 minutes I tried to figure out what possible things had happened to him over the course of his life to extinguish his flame. He looked like a man who had suffered but at the same time, he spoke as if he had no remorse. I watched his body language. I watched how he interacted and who he made eye contact with. I tried to hold his stare to see how comfortable he was knowing I was watching him. As we got deeper into the assault accusations, the subject matter became harder and harder to listen to. We had several breaks that day and finally, by the end of it, we heard testimony from the first witness, the child's mother. It was absolutely clear that she wished she could be anywhere else at that moment. It was also clear that as she was giving her account of how the alleged abuse happened, she blamed herself for not being there a minute or two earlier to stop it from happening all together. This wasn't the first time she had been to court to testify, in fact, we found out the abuse happened in 2007 and there had already been two appeals and this was the third time that she was asked to testify. 8 years had taken its toll on her emotions. She broke down several times and you couldn't help but feel sorry for her especially when she was being drilled with questions by the very man that allegedly caused her and her son so much grief and misery. 5:00 rolled around and court was let out to reconvene the next morning. I left the court room sick to my stomach thinking maybe I should tell someone that I didn't think that I could continue to sit there and listen to such horrible things! I knew that I wasn't cut out to make that kind of decisions. Needless to say, I didn't sleep at all that night. The next morning started again where we had left off. Questioning, dismissing the jury for private matters, entering the courtroom again and listening and taking careful notes of the facts. There were many delays and hours spent in the juror quarters, I must say that I was very thankful for this time! Being put in a room full of people from all walks of life that all have their own stories and experiences is one of my favorite things! I love to meet new people and these people were all wonderful in their own ways! Thank heavens for their stories and their humor, it made a horrible situation a lot easier. After one of our breaks, to my horror, the next witness to be called to the stand was the victim, now 12 years old. It was almost unbearable to watch as the defendant/alleged abuser, drilled him with questions for hours, being descriptive and applying pressure to this poor child. I am not a mother but I have nieces and nephews and I would never ever have them go through what this poor boy was being put through. I was so thankful that we were able to break again that night and go home to work over in our minds who, under oath, was telling the truth. I went home again to another sleepless night. The next day in court we were beginning to wonder how many more days we were going to have on this case. The witnesses that we had seen didn't seem credible by any means and any one of them could have a motive to lie against the defendant, but what would they be gaining? It was a criminal case and there is no money involved so really the only thing on the line would be reputation and your good name. Wednesday was the hardest day of all, after both sides resting their cases and giving their final closing arguments, the jury was sent back to work with about 20% of the information given to us in court in order to make a decision that could potentially put a man away for life. I panicked. The sweat that had filled my brows and the sicking feeling I had managed to kept at bay, both snuck back over me. What if I made the wrong decision? I can't be a judge for another mans life! I prayed. I prayed quick and I prayed sincere. I prayed hard. My fellow jurors and I were extremely fair in looking at every fact that we had and drawing out a time line and keeping an open mind. Even if opinions had been formed already, we all still hashed over every single detail. A little over two hours later we came up with a guilty verdict. The next part of the trial was to hand down our decision to the judge. It was around 8:00 p.m. or so that night and we were all feeling a bit relieved to know that we had done our duty to the best of our ability and that we had been fair and impartial. Our decision was handed to the judge and then read out loud by the court clerk. The defendant, to my surprise did not break down or show emotion, in fact he did something that pricked the nerves on the back of my spine. He turned and smiled and winked at a woman who had been in court every day since the trial had started, I later found out it was his sister. It took me totally off guard. The defendant then requested that we stand and verbally announce, audibly, our verdict of guilty. It was horrifying. It was bad enough to write it down, now we had to look at him and tell him that we each, individually found him guilty. I was the last to do it and I was so relieved when we were walking out of the court room and the ordeal was over....or so we all thought. Time went by and we thought the last step of the trial was to listen to his sentencing, we were all totally wrong. We were ushered back into the court room to find out that due to the guilty verdict we had just made, we were going to proceed with the second phase of the trial. The SECOND phase?! What?? Because of there being a chance of prejudice, several things were hidden from us in this case, the main point being that the defendant had already been charged and found guilty on two other accounts of sexual assault and sexual crimes on two other boys that were 5 years old in Illinois. My heart sunk. I was sick again and was wondering if this was ever going to end. Our job now as a jury, was to find him guilty on those two charges and he would be put away for life. What little remorse that I had for him had totally dissipated. We were heading into the 9:00 p.m. hour and we had spent 12 hours of our day there, we were assured that this phase should only take an hour or less but as we headed into it, the defense objected to practically everything that was being said. Frustration was on everyone's faces in the room. What in the world is he objecting to? This went on and on and I must say, I was totally lost. After an hour we were again released just after 10 to go home and be back the next morning. I shuffled out again, upset and confused. Thursday was the day, the day it would all end. I took my seat in my usual spot in the jurors chambers, bags under my eyes from another sleepless night and tried to make light of the situation with my fellow jurors, it was clear that we were all worn out and emotionally weighed down. It is amazing how close I had become with all of them in a short amount of time. It was a comfort for me to know that by now we were all on the same page and that we respected each other and that we weren't having to go through this alone. We were all hoping for a half a day in court at the most and then we would watch him being hauled off and we would go back to our lives knowing that the justice system had won and a repeat offender was behind bars and that young boys could start or continue to heal without having to face the nightmares of appearing in other trials. None of this was to be. The State called their witness, the detective that worked on the case and both sides rested and then closed their cases. we were released to the juror room, this time NOT to hand down a verdict. When we were ushered back into the court room we had explained to us that the second phase was being thrown out due to an oversight. The defense found a loop hole. We were free to go. The defendant was hauled back off to jail to serve out his 25 year sentence of which he has already served 7. We were all shocked. What happened? How could this be? What is wrong with this picture? I was beginning to think that our court system had failed us, but it wasn't that. The trial was fair and it was handled in a fair manner and yes, their was a loop hole, and yes, he found it, but no one, in finding it did anything illegal, all proceeded as it should have. Don't think that that made things easier on any of us jurors though! I was steaming mad! I went home to think about what had happened since Monday. On Monday, I was dreading being the one who had to pass a judgement on another human being. By Thursday I was livid that he was able to get off so easy and wanted to see him wiped off the planet all together. What had changed? Obviously the knowledge that I had against the defendant played a big part in how I now felt but as I have spent the last few days thinking even deeper on it, my verdict of guilty means nothing at all in the big scheme of things. God is the ultimate judge. He doesn't look on the outside of us, he looks on the inside, on the heart. He knows our minds and he knows our intentions. I am comfortable in knowing that He is a just God which means that in the end, justice will be served. It is truly unfortunate that there are those out there that have become victims to other peoples trials or that their trials were thrust upon them unwillingly. They may struggle their whole lives to understand why things happened the way they did. They may choose to break the chain of abuse or they may choose to become another link. Who are we to judge. I wish that I could feel the way I felt the first day I walked into the trial, questioning myself and wondering who I was to be a judge, every time the desire to judge someone presents itself in front of me. This week has taught me a lot about myself and has prompted me to try harder, to do better, to judge less. It is a daily struggle, but given this experience and the time to come to this realization, maybe luck isn't so bad after all.

Friday, June 19, 2015

If Flowers Were People

I have never kept the fact that I detest petunias and marigolds a secret. In my opinion, if flowers were people, petunias and marigolds would be the annoying Hollywood stars. People who think that they are super important and don't have time for the rest of us "little people". Like Hollywood stars, petunias and marigolds generally thrive in groups and can't hold it together on their own and they crowd out anything and everything in their paths. People can't seem to get enough of them. It isn't that they are not colorful and don't perform like they should, it is just that they are everyone's number one go to flower. Why is that? They both smell...awful. Petunias are sticky and attract slugs and marigolds need a constant dead-heading to look good. I think all flowers have their place in the garden, but in my garden, neither of these two would ever get the limelight! That spot is reserved for what I consider to be the 5 most underused plants in the garden.

# 5- Godetia
If petunias and marigolds are the Hollywood Stars, godetia would definately be like the girl/boy next door. They are tough and beautiful and they are not the type of flower to invade the space of other flowers. They mind their own business and sit quietly in the garden until the day that they decide to bloom and then all of the sudden...BAM!!... they are now stopping the show! Everyone wants to know what they are and how they can get their hands on some.
 #4- Iceland Poppies
I am not just picking this one because they are native to Iceland....the country of my dreams, I really, genuinely think that this flower could be more used in the garden! Iceland Poppies, if they were people, would be that cousin that is the same age as you that comes and stays for a few weeks in the summer and while they are visiting, you feel happy and carefree. When they go away, you are sad, but you know that they will be back next year and the advetures will pick up right where they left off.
 #3- Calendula
Okay, okay, I realize that the other name for this flower is pot marigold, but to me, it looks nothing like a marigold, the marigold probably wishes it could be as cool as the calendula! They are so bright and cheerful and they have been around for forever but best of all, they can be used in making homemade lotions and salves and soap that are really soft and sweet on the skin. Like the grandmothers in our lives, they are useful, constant, and up and alert from early morning until late in the evening.
 #2- Nicotiana
Quite literally, nicotianas are the real stars in the garden! Their happy little star shaped flowers have a faint smell that is wonderful. They are also some of the most beautiful shades of colors. My favorite is the lime green, chartreuse one. Nicotiana, if it were a person, would probably be the best friend. The friend that you don't have to spend every day with because they don't need to be doted on constantly, and you always know where you stand with them.
 #1- Nigella
By far, the most underused plant in the garden is the grand nigella. I can't believe when people I know, who are gardeners themselves, have never even heard of these beauties! They, unfortunately have turned into what they call, a garden antique and you generally don't see them around at all unless they are on some old homestead struggling for life in a corner somewhere. They deserve better! They are beautiful, bold, and absolutely unique not only in petal but also in foliage. No other flower comes close to it. They have a unique and mysterious look about them, like they know other lands. They are like a foreign exchange student, sharing their cultural beauty as well as soaking up and complimenting all those they come in contact with. People, I beg of you, try one or two of these flowers in your garden. Replace the petunias and marigolds. If you need seeds, I probably have a couple hundred or so. Let me help you help yourself.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mother Nature's Apprentice

When January rolled around this year, I decided to make a few New Year's resolutions. I wanted to make one that I would really stick to the entire year. I didn't want to give up on it halfway through the year like I may or may not do with other goals. I didn't want it to be a hard goal, just something simple and worthwhile. I decided to devote a half an hour to an hour observing nature. Sounds simple right? I work in nature all day long! I have come to realize that being in nature and being part of nature are two different things. I'm always working in nature but sometimes I'm too busy to notice the things around me. I think that I miss out on a lot of things because I'm not paying attention. That was what my New Year's resolution was all about, being more observant. Before my grandmother passed away she gave me a nature diary. Just a small book with a few lines to write down something that I've observed each day in nature. There is also a lot of information about what is going on in nature during that particular month or season so it gives you something to look forward to observing. Well, I think my nature observation skills are starting to pay off! Each day at work I have been watching the birds and their habits. There a lot of different species that live around the greenhouses. I have noticed different types of swallows, killdeer, starlings, magpies, and of course the robins, pigeons, mourning doves, and occasional owl and small falcon. I have gotten to know all of their different sounds and tunes. I have watched them feed on different things and know where they tend to hang out during different hours of the day. I have even watched them akwardly show off for a mate. It has become a fun thing to watch them and know what they are up to. I think I've always taken for granted the song of a robin and the weird habits of the magpies. Now all their sounds are starting to make sense and I almost feel like I am part of a secret club! Today I overheard a crazy cry from a frantic killdeer. It was flying overhead at a very fast pace and going in circles. It was something I haven't seen before. I watched it circle several times, then land on the ground by its nest. It was then I noticed that a truck was threatening to run over its nest. It had gotten too close for the birds comfort and of course the driver hadn't been able to see the nest or the eggs that were camouflaged. I directed the truck away from the nest and the killdeer calmed down and went back to its less frantic noise making. I felt awesome that my nature observations saved the day! Nature is so awesome! God truly loves us because he gave us so many awesome things! I am trying to be a good steward of the earth. I find so many more things fascinating! I have made daily observations on the strawberries growing in my garden and have watched them grow from just a blossom. Today was my first harvest and you know, the fruit tastes sweeter now that I know all of the work that goes into producing it! All these years I have let nature just run its course without thinking much about it, how much awesomeness I have missed out on!! As an official, self proclaimed apprentice to Mother Nature, I promise to continue my commune with nature and to continue to find something to marvel at every day in my surroundings. Nature's rad, get out there and enjoy it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Cat That Could Cut Quite a Rug and Other Fabulous Stories

I love to read. I absolutely love a good story. I think books have always been a great way for me to temporarily escape the sometimes heavy chores in life. I love a great tale of fantasy as well as a well-written classic. I have never been too keen on romance but if a dragon or an amazing plot twist is involved, it can hold my attention for days. I have been active in a classic literature book club for several years now and I have found that my love for the classics is undying. Some I like more than others, I think my whole book club knows how I feel about books like the Picture of Dorian Gray and also about books like Alice in Wonderland. I definitely have a type of book that I am more drawn to but I am also open minded to new novels as well as young adult fiction. I wish that I had more time in the day to devote to reading. I usually end up reading daily, a little from the Scriptures and a little from whatever book we are reading in book club and I don't have much time for anything else. This month, I started my book club book, the wonderful Ivanhoe, early, and because I am ahead I felt like I had a little room to pick up another book. I happened to be spending some time with my grandparents a few weeks back and while I was there I asked my grandpa if I could look through his library for a book I remembered seeing several years ago. After doing a little bit of searching, I found the exact book I was looking for entitled, Thomas Daniels Brown and Esther Wardle, Their Ancestors and Descendants by Vance M Holland. A thick, red, leather bound book containing the life history and stories from my grandmother, Thelma Brown Welker's side of the family. The title characters are my fourth great grandfather and his wife. The record contained in this priceless book continues through each individual family clear up to my own mother and her cousins. The book is 848 pages long, complete with poems, pictures, a map of the counties of England and Wales, an index, and more than one appendix. I have been intrigued by the book since the first time, years ago, I took it off my grandpa's shelf and thumbed through it. After signing it out of his library, I tucked it up under my arm and was on my way. The book sat for a few days on my kitchen table while I was catching up on other things but about 3 days ago I sat down with it and started to read. I am now, completely hooked! This is exactly the kind of book that I love to read. I am nowhere near the end of it but here is a synopsis of the book thus far: Wigan, Lancashire, England 1856. The fourth son, Thomas, born into a family plagued with poverty has a secret. For some time now, he has been hiding his hard earned pennies in a slot that was well concealed in the floor boards of an upper room. He had a dream to someday use that money to make his way to America. As fate would have it, his mother caught a sickness that required special medicines and in order to save her life it became necessary for him to forgo his dream for the benefit of his mother's life. His mothers life was spared and the medicines restored her health and she made a full recovery thanks to the money that was given by little Thomas. This story continues to follow Thomas's life, through marriage, children, and eventually his immigration to America. I have been introduced to several new characters including my 4th great grandmother, Esther Wardle. She is my favorite so far. Not a lot is written about her but there are a few hilarious stories. She used to own a cat that could keep time dancing to the songs from a Jew harp, of course she outfitted the cat with slippers made from paper and rubber bands. She said, speaking about the cat, "it could cut quite the rug". It used to keep the kids entertained for hours. She was also something of a fortune teller. She would use her "skill" on young men who came around to call on her daughters. What the young men perceived as frighteningly accurate knowledge somehow rendered to her through tea leaves, was actually a simple case of her younger children dispatched as spies to follow the suitors around town and watch their every move and report back to their mother about their goings-on. The stories so far have been charming, witty, an action packed with just a touch of romance. My very favorite kind of book! And to think, I share genes with all the main characters. I still have a long way to go to finish this book but I am glad I at least started it. Family history can be such a fun adventure. Coming across recorded feelings of experiences that, had you been there, you would have felt the same way. Your heart goes out to these people that you love though have never met. I am glad that so many people took the time to write down their stories and thoughts so that I could learn and gain knowledge from their trials and triumphs! I am so blessed!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mom

Spring cleaning has arrived at my house and to help pass the time, I turned on Sister Oscarson's address from this past General Woman's Meeting. Her talk was on being defenders of the Family Proclamation. I love that woman and her amazing talks. I was going through my bookshelf just as she was quoting President Thomas S. Monson when he said, "May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and our earthly mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one." The timing could not have been more perfect because just as she was talking, this picture fell out of one of my books. My young mother, Rhonda Welker. What a complete babe! I think of her often. I am not sure where this picture came from or how I even came to have it. I have very few pictures of my mother and no recollection of her. Her visit to this earth was short but from what I know of it, it was not without its impact. The things I know about my mother make me very proud to be her daughter! I know that my mother loved art and loved to draw, I have some of her pictures. I know that my mother loved to write, poetry in particular. One of her poems about the family, hangs framed in bedroom. I know that my mother enjoyed plants and worked in a greenhouse when she was a teenager. I also know that she loved people and loved working on her family history and filling out genealogy charts, some day I am going to pick up where she left off! Those are the things that I know for sure about my mom because that is what other people have told me. I think about other traits that she had that I could have developed from her, here are a few conclusions that I have come to: I think my mom had an itch for adventure. I don't think that is a trait I developed 100% on my own and if you met my father, you would know that it probably didn't come from his side of the family. I would like to think that we would have made very good travel companions! I also like to think that she was a fierce defender of truth and wasn't afraid to stand up for what she knew to be right. I have some of her personal thoughts written down and reading through them, I can tell that she loved her Heavenly Father and her family very much. I am positive that she had a great sense of humor, you can't be from the Welker side of the family and NOT have some kind of humor! I am grateful for her impact on my life. I am so lucky to have been sent to her and put in her care for a short while on earth, but the best part, she gets to be my guardian angel! I have felt her near me many times and on many, many occasions. I have never felt as close to her as I do when I am in the Temple though. I know that she has her own work to do on the other side, but, like the good mother that she is, she makes time to watch over her family and maybe even has a hand in smoothing out some bumps in our road. I would like to think that she had a hand in lining my parents up because I don't think that it was a coincidence that two single people who hated to dance, would just happen to show up on the same night at the same place, to do just that, DANCE. I am sure there was some divine intervention going on there. I laugh when I think that she could have been put in charge, by God, to pick out another earthly mother to care for me. I imagine that the conversation went something like this: "You know, that youngest daughter of yours, she might only be 6 months old now, but I gave her your fierceness and she just might turn out to be a handful. You might want to pick someone who can put up with her stubborn, bull headedness, which she WILL develop, trust me." Well, I think that she picked just the right sort of woman that she knew I would need to help keep me focused and on the right track while growing up. She knew she would be firm but loving, and she was right. What a blessing it is for me to have two mothers! I am so blessed and I thank my Heavenly Father often for such a thoughtful gift! President Monson was right, you can't forget mother and remember God or remember mother and forget God. Mother's are such wonderful people! I absolutely LOVE seeing new mothers with their sweet new babies. The love and care and the attention that they give to them make me turn my thoughts to how things were in heaven before I left for earth. To think, these little babies just days or weeks before were in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father and loving family members, embracing and saying their farewells before their earthly journey. Our sweet mothers are, of course, the first people to greet us here on earth and with her first embrace, things that are so new, now, have to feel so familiar to each small baby. It is the feeling of love. God loved us so He sent His son. His son loved us so He created mothers.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How We View Ourselves

Life can be hard. I forget this sometimes. I get breezing along thinking everything is going well and while my head is in the clouds, I don't see the oncoming brick walls. I have hit several walls lately and just as if I were hitting those walls with a car, I am afraid the dents and dings and damage are starting to become noticeable. This negative thought has been affecting my self esteem. Just as the dents and dings reduce a cars value, I begin to second guess my own value. I was lucky to get a boost this week though and I got it from the simplest act of kindness. While in the depths of self pity, I got out of the house to clear my head and ended up at a friends. I thought her new puppies would be just the thing to cheer me up! When I arrived, I was greeted not only by 4 adorable puppies, but also by some of her sweet children. I settled in with two little balls of fuzz on my lap and began shooting the breeze about life and some of the negative things that were on my mind. One of her sons, Miles, started looking at me with, what seemed to be, a very keen interest. He would come into the room and quietly observe me and then disappear around a corner and then would repeat this action. Once he even came in and asked me what color my eyes were and before I could answer, whispered, "blue" and then turned around and disappeared again. After a time, he showed up with a huge grin on his face and presented me with a portrait he had drawn. It was of me. I laughed and thanked him and later, went on my way, portrait in tow. The picture was carelessly left on the kitchen table that night and, still filling horrible about myself, I spent another sleepless night trying to figure out life. The next morning I was up early, not having slept much and not being able to shake my mood from the previous night. I begrudgingly got ready for the day, avoiding all of my reflections in the mirrors around the house, knowing good and well what my frowning face looked like. I didn't have to see it, I could feel it. Then as I was reaching for my keys, the corner of my eye caught the picture from Miles. I was stunned. He had drawn me happy. He had drawn a sunny day. The grass was green. I was wearing my favorite skirt and my favorite sweater. It was the smile that caught my eye the most. Even though, I am sure I had not shown a single hint of a smile the night before, he gave me one anyway. It is interesting how we view each other, and how we view ourselves. We see our flaws and our dings and dents as if they are larger than life. They affect our self worth. I think we would be surprised to know that others take a different view. I am grateful that Miles saw past my hurting frown and my horrible mood. I am also grateful that my Heavenly Father can see past my many flaws. This picture reminds me that life is okay, hard, but still worth smiling about. I don't have to focus on all the distractions and curve balls thrown in my direction. I can be happy with just a sunny day and green grass and my favorite skirt and sweater. I have the things in life I need to be happy. I have the love of my Father in Heaven, my family, and my knowledge of the gospel. Those three are enough to chase away the gloomy days! I am going to hang this picture as a reminder to myself that even when I am having a bad day and view myself as nothing more than a frowning face, there is someone else out there that views me differently. Thanks for the reminder, Miles.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

You're gonna have to leave me now, I know. But I'll see you in the sky above, in the tall grass, in the ones I love, you're gonna make me lonesome when you go.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Music: The Bad

Well, you've seen the Good List, here are the songs that have made it onto my Bad List. I apologize in advance if one of your favorites has ended up on my Bad List but, to each his or her own I guess.

#15-Pine Cones and Holly Berries

Gross. It is no secret, I am not an Osmond fan, at all. One of the craziest mysteries is why people in England are such huge Osmond fans!

#14- Auld Lang Syne

I mainly just hate this song because I am not a huge fan of stalkers in the frozen food aisles in the grocery store.

#13- Here Comes Santa Claus- Elvis Presley

It isn't that I don't like this song, I do, when Elvis sings it though....?! He is the most irresponsible consonant user ever! Talk about a mouth full of marbles! (I realize if my dad ever sees this I am in sooooo deep).

#12- War is Over

This is going to surprise many people who know me well, I dare say. I may be one of John Lennon's biggest fans. And not just John, The Beatles! But I am sorry, when Yoko got invited to sing back vocals on the chorus, well, there was no saving this song.

#11- Blue Christmas

Seriously? Make everyone else blue with this song why don't ya!

#10- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Kids have enough problems in this world that we are living in these days, they don't need something else to confuse them!

#9- Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

I even like Brenda Lee, I blame the over use of this song on radio stations though. Or maybe I don't get the sentimental feeling when I hear voices singing lets be jolly?

#8- I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas

Have you ever cleaned up after a hippopotamus? Just sayin'. Stick with the tinker toys!

#7- Any version of Last Christmas other than Wham's

AAAAHAHAHHAHHAHHHHHHHHH!! If this were a perfect world, this version would not even exist!

#6- 12 Days of Christmas Parodies

This song is already annoying enough.

#5- Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer

*sigh* you can't drink too much egg nog.

#4- Do They Know it's Christmas

How dare I hate such a delightful 80's compilation?! Well, it isn't the singers believe me, I gave George Michael the #2 spot in my Good List for pete sake! And don't think it was Sting or Bono that caused it to end up here, it was the lyric writing! One sentence to be exact: "tonight thank God it's them instead of you"?! What?! I can honestly never say I have thanked God in my nightly prayers that someone else is going through something horrible instead of me......total lyric fail!

#3- Christmas Shoes

There are too many inconsistencies in this song to make it be believable: a man standing in another line? a young boy who knows his mother's shoe size? a cashier who takes time to count pennies? I don't buy it.

#2- Any Christmas song sung by Celine Dion

When I was a kid, my mom used to shout at the top of the stair at me. Things like "Come up here and get your dinner", or "Is your room clean"...being a few floors down I could always tell that she was saying something, I just could never tell what it was exactly, it just sounded like a bunch of noise. That is what every Celine song does for me.

#1- The Little Drummer Boy

I have an idea, rather than saying "par rump pa pum pum" why not just use a drum?! Every time I here this song I die a little inside.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully no one is too upset with me and no one is curled up in a ball in the corner, mumbling about how I discredited your favorite Yuletide classic.

Christmas Music: The Good

Ahhh, Christmas. I love Christmas! I love Christmas music! Nothing gets me in the spirit of Christmas quite like snow and music. I have been wanting to post my top 15 Christmas Songs list for some time now but I just haven't had a second to sit down and think about it. Well, I found a little time today! Without further ado, here is basically (I only had 10 minutes and it was a lot of pressure!) my top 15:

#15- Marshmallow World

I like all of the versions of this song, this is my favorite! It is just a fun song!

#14- Christmas All Alone- The Lettermen

This was one of my very favorites as a kid, when I got older, I didn't like the ending much but it is such a beautiful song and one only done by one group! I am glad it hasn't been picked up by the likes of Justin Bieber!

#13- Baby It's Cold Outside

I love Zooey, she sounds like Judy Garland. I haven't heard a duet of this I haven't liked....yet. Rod Stewart does it great!

#12- What Child is This (Greensleeves)

I am not a huge fan of the singing version of this song but there is nothing like two gypsies playing it on a guitar and a violin!

#11- Angels We Have Heard On High

I love this version the very best, straight from out of the hymn book! There is a horrible, horrible version done by Neil Diamond that sounds like everyone is mad, definately not my favorite!

#10- What Can I Give You This Christmas- The Letterman

Oh yes, The Lettermen have made it on my list yet again. Again, they are the only ones that I know of that sing this sweet little Christmas song. It is just so great!

#9- Lucy and Linus

Nothing can get me into the Christmas spirit like a little jazz piano and dancing like you are a character from Peanuts! My favorite dance is the one where you keep your head down and shuffle your feet and move your neck, like the little twin girls!

#8- Christmas in Sarajevo

So great!

#7- Sleigh Ride

You really can't go wrong with this song! Every time I hear it I am reminded of my Grandma Welker frantically playing it on the piano, she does an amazing job of it if she has a fast page turner. This is my favorite version.

#6- Anything Ella Fitzgerald Sings

I know that is a lot of Christmas songs but seriously, Ella can sing some serious Christmas tunes! I couldn't even pick a favorite so I randomly chose this one, a great one with Bing.

#5- O Come, O Come, Emanuel

I have always loved this song. I sang it long ago for a Christmas program and wanted to know more about the lyrics and read up on it and was fascinated. It is so beautiful, just like out of the old lands. It also shows, politically, what my stance is with Israel :D.

#4- Merry Christmas, Darling- Karen Carpenter

What a very lovely song. When Karen sings, it sounds like she really means it. She does this one wonderfully. I heard Vanessa Williams attempt it the other day...fail.

#3- Silent Night

This is another one that I love to sing and listen to, I have sung it in German and in Spanish, I would love to learn it in old Irish. Also, it is another song with a wonderfully, beautiful story! Stevie Nicks' version is gross though.

#2- Last Christmas- Wham

Hahaha! Yes, I am so serious! Say what you will, I will always love this song! The boys at work know how crazy I am for this song. It is the only one I will actually sing out loud in public. I was grossed out when other people started singing it because, really, no one does it like Wham!

#1- Christmas Waltz- The Lettermen

This is by far, my very favorite Christmas song, it has been since I was a little girl. The memories I have of my siblings and I dancing and singing to this song and the whole album in our front living room with just the lights on the tree shining are some of my very best memories!

So there is is, my Good List. Wondering what's on my bad list? Only time will tell! What's your favorite Christmas song?