Thursday, September 26, 2013

When the Mountains Call

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
John Muir

September 20 - We have “down sized” our camping equipment since selling our trailer in July. It’s so different experiencing the out-of-doors as a twosome now. No need for the giant three burner camp stove or dutch ovens made to feed an army. Gave away five sleeping bags and kept just two for ourselves. We are now tent dwellers and everything we need fits in our little Civic (barely). Can’t do without the hammocks, or double-high air bed, or five gallon water container with spigot, you know.

Packed up yesterday morning and made the journey (of 15 minutes) to the mountains and Tanners Flat. It is amazing to me how we can be SO close to home and yet so far away. Beautiful spot #16 right by the rushing water. I can hear my mother exclaim, “Smell the pine trees!” The aspens are just beginning to display their golden Autumn colors. One whole day with nothing pressing to do.

We chose to read The Giver by Lois Lowry in REAL touchable, page-turnable book form. We took turns reading aloud, chapter after chapter until we finished.  Because of this compelling story, I find myself especially grateful for color and variety, for contrast, experience, emotion...

...and COLD -- which helps me appreciate warmth and sunshine. Yes, it got downright chilly last night. I forgot that tents don’t have heaters like trailers do. It was a challenge to keep my nose warm and still be able to breath!

Loved every minute.

Camping, even if it’s just for one night, rejuvenates the senses and renews the soul.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Bird's-Eye View

A helicopter ride
A first for me
A seat in front with the pilot
A gift from good friends
A breathtaking view
A mid-flight landing
Hundreds and hundreds of waterfalls
The wettest spot on earth
Ninety minutes of pure joy and exhilaration!

Photo source

“The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings."
― J.M. Barrie, The Little White Bird

Sunday, August 4, 2013

On the River - Boise Style

July 25, 2013 with Emily, Joe, and Potts

We started out dry and happy, feeling the exhilaration of being back on the Boise River. Floating was our favorite summertime family activity when we lived here twenty plus years ago. 

It's a two-and-one-half-hour ride from Barber Park on one end to Ann Morrison Park on the other. There are a couple of waterfalls to maneuver and some rapids here and there that threaten to sweep a floating vessel into the trees if paddles aren't a-movin'.

But for the most part, it is a nice, relaxing ride.

Or so we thought -- until we passed over the 2nd waterfall and were impaled by a rock or branch or something. Yes, this is an UNDERWATER picture of the rip in the bottom of our boat.

It wasn't long before we were filled with a foot and a half of water.

We balanced on the tube part of the raft 
until half of it partially deflated leaving us with half-a-raft.

I knew we were in trouble when passers by pointed and laughed.

The men had an idea -- What if we flipped the raft over. The water would drain out of the bottom, and we could ride with the hole on top!! So we did. Emily situated herself, Potts - himself, 
I got on one edge, 
then Joe pulled us back out into the current
and JUMPED onto the raft...

...catapulting me up into the air and down into the river.
Kind of like this:

Okay... Not quite, but it sure felt like it!

I want you to know that we actually made it the entire way! We were tattered and torn, but not beaten. And on dry land once again, we deflated what was left of the raft and stuffed it into the nearest garbage can.

Can't wait until we can go again! (With a new raft, of course!)

“Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.”
― Emma Smith

Monday, July 22, 2013

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Filled our 8-man raft to see if it still holds air after 19 some-odd years. It’s been rolled up in the garage pretty much since we moved here in 1994. Figured we’d better test it before we attempt to float the Boise River with Emily and Joe on Thursday. 

Yup! Still floats! Can’t believe it!

Can’t believe Randy put it in the pool - The water level is so high, he nearly went toppling over the edge!  Silly man!

“...Life is but a Dream.”

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Good Fortune

Received my third and last steroid injection this evening at Dr. Alldredge’s Bountiful office. He seemed pleased with the immediate and positive results. 

Dr. Digre’s office called me this morning. I explained my situation and chosen emergency treatment and it prompted a call from Barbara who is directing the clinical study. I am all set up for an MRI on Monday.

We took the opportunity to dine at the Mandarin since we were already in Bountiful. Enjoyed a wonderful meal together. The steroids leave an awful metallic taste in my mouth; water tastes like liquid ear wax, but lucky for me, my General Tso’s chicken tasted great. 

After dinner I cracked my fortune cookie and handed Randy the slip of serendipity to read -- my eyes were having some difficulty. I knew I was in trouble when he teared up and handed it back to me. I did my little squinty thing (it seems to help my vision a bit) and read:

God must have a hand in making fortune cookies. This particular one was made especially for me.
"I think miracles exist in part as gifts
 and in part as clues that there is something 
beyond the flat world we see"
-- Peggy Noonan

Sunday, July 14, 2013

After Nearly One Year

It’s been nearly one year since I experienced vision loss in my left eye and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

For the most part I have felt good. Once in a while I have tingling or numbness in my forearms and shins, and becoming overheated drains me completely. Sometimes I feel as though I can’t think clearly, but maybe age is creeping up on me. Many  days I could actually forget that I have MS at all.

I figure I have given myself 45 Injections of Avonex. That’s once a week. I use the “pen” and get a three month supply sent to my home in a refrigerated styrofoam box.  

The click of the trigger still freaks me out a bit, and the ten seconds that I keep the needle in my muscle isn’t very pleasant, but I am grateful that I am able to do something preventative. I have qualified for assistance from the pharmaceutical company for one more year and am not required to pay the $1000 a week at this point.  I take the injection at seven o’clock AM on Sunday mornings just before I drive downtown for Music and the Spoken Word. That gives me time to perform before the reactions set in six hours later. At that point a slight fever sets in causing my eyes to go a bit haywire, and I experience achiness especially through my neck and back.  I have found that the reactions are less severe when I drink lots of water and take four Advil every six hours with Tylenol in between...

...Until Mondays. Then something happens. Most days I am typically me -- pleasant, smily, kind of easy going. 
But on Mondays. I think I turn into Mrs. Hyde or something. Randy jokes that he has to hide the scissors, knives, and matches! I don’t like myself or anyone or anything else and I can’t do anything right! Gratefully it only lasts one day. It’s best  if I just stay home and hide.

The medication has given me insomnia for which I was prescribed the generic Ambien. It works well. I can sleep from 11:00 pm until 3:30 am. I wake up for a few minutes then sleep again until 6:00. I was concerned about being dependent, but I found when I tried to go off it a couple of weeks ago, that my sleep is more important than my pride. It is possible for me to do without it, but I wake nearly every hour and feel pretty messed up in the mornings. 

On to the Clinical Study -- I have donated hours and hours to the Moran Eye Institute as a part of their Optic Neuritis study. These are NOT my favorite days as they serve to remind me that I have a problem. I do receive a gift card of $25 each time I go. So far I have saved them up. I want to purchase something meaningful when all is said and done, but I have NO clue what. Let me know if you have any ideas.

As part of the study, I have received 8 or so MRIs. On some days they test a new coil mri -- a spooky mask of nuts, bolts, and various colored wires. During the MRIs, it is required that I keep completely still and stare at one spot for up to an hour. Ever tried doing that? If you do, be sure that you get plenty of sleep the night before. One time I fell asleep and they couldn’t get even one good image. Twice, the vibrations made my nose tickle and I had to sneeze, bonking my head on the machine. Botched again! I really don’t know if I am much help in that respect.

Periodically the results are read by Dr. Katz, head neurologist for the study, and once in a while they send me his remarks. Last time I received them, I read them, then handed the papers to Randy, who took one short look, threw them on the counter and exclaimed, “I have seen enough! 

You got an F in sex!” 

Okay! THAT caught me off guard! Gave us a good laugh together!

I’ll have to admit that this diagnosis has effected me more mentally and emotionally than physically -- Is this a symptom? Is that a symptom? When and where will the next nerve myelin be attacked? Is this affecting my behavior?

Nothing significant has happened until this week.

I’d been experiencing a strange sensation in my right “good” eye for the past few days, and some pressure and tenderness to the touch since Thursday, plus my vision HAS seemed a bit distorted. I wondered if this is a precursor to another nerve attack?  I called Dr. Digre’s office on Friday but had to leave a message. I became increasingly concerned as the day wore on.

I might mention this has been an especially rough week. I haven’t felt myself. I had a feeling I was ramping up for another MS exacerbation. My eye had me a bit spooked.

Randy happened to take a business portrait this afternoon for Dr. Alldredge, the retinal specialist who donated his services and fixed the holes in Randy’s retina a few years back.  Randy expressed concern about my situation; Dr. Alldredge asked if I would be willing to meet him at his office in downtown Salt Lake tonight at 7:30pm -- I couldn’t believe he was willing to see me on a SATURDAY evening and was somewhat hesitant. Randy felt I should go.

Audrey invited me to attend the temple with her. While serving in initiatories, I received the distinct impression that I should go. And I did. Dr. Alldredge found that the optic nerve of my right eye was indeed, inflamed. Optic Neuritis again! Interesting that it is just shy of one year since I experienced vision loss in my left eye. The doctor gave me my first dose of solu medrol (a steroid) to reduce the swelling.  He will meet me tomorrow to do the same, and then check my situation on Monday.

I’m so grateful that I didn’t wait this time. I consider it a miracle, not just a coincidence that Dr. Alldredge came in for a portrait today. Three people listened to the whisperings of the Spirit and were an answer to my prayers. Dr. Alldredge who felt the need to have his picture taken after 21 years, Randy who expressed concern for my wellbeing, and Audrey who invited me to the temple where I could receive inspiration for myself. Today I experienced the hand of God in my life. I am truly blessed.

Tonight, and tomorrow night, you might pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children? I will do that. And then I will find a way to preserve that memory for the day that I, and those that I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him.
--Henry B. Eyring

Friday, July 12, 2013

Strawberry Success!

We've had a boatload this year! Most ripened while I was on tour and gave Randy toppings for his nightly bowl of ice cream, but I was able to make a nice plump fresh strawberry pie when I came home.

"Are Wild Strawberries really wild?
Will they scratch an adult, will they snap at a child?
Should you pet them, or let them run free where they roam?
Could they ever relax in a steam heated home?
Can they be trained to not growl at the guests?
Will a litterbox work or would they leave a mess?
Can we make them a Cowberry, herding the cows,
Or maybe a Muleberry pulling the plows,
Or maybe a Huntberry chasing the grouse,
Or maybe a Watchberry guarding the house,
And though they may curl up at your feet oh so sweetly,
Can you ever feel that you trust them completely?
Or should we make a pet out of something less scary,
Like the Domestic Prune, or the Imported Cherry,
Anyhow, you’ve been warned and I will not be blamed
If your Wild Strawberry cannot be tamed."
                                                            ― Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

I adore Shel Siverstein's poetry, don't you?

Grandbaby #13 - Andrew Collier Fairbank

I'm a hit and miss blogger... Mostly miss.  For me to blog, I have to be feeling fairly good, have a fairly large block of time, and have something in my head that I feel SOMEONE might find fairly interesting. Experiencing all three "fairly's" at one time seems to be a rarity these days.

This morning, I have a little guy on my mind. He was born nearly two months ago, and I haven't yet introduced him.

This is Andrew Collier Fairbank
 Born May 22  to Emily and Joseph

and of course, to a very proud, big brother, A.J.

He will be a valiant spirit to be sure!
He came to an amazing family!

“...a sweet new blossom of humanity, 
fresh fallen from God’s own home, 
to flower on earth.” 
Gerald Massey
(often quoted by President Thomas S. Monson)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

On Tour with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square

I found this fun infographic on line.
Picture Source

Prior to leaving on tour, we attend a manditory meeting in the Tabernacle. Designed to instruct, remind, and motivate, I like to think of it as a pre-tour pep rally. 

Works for me! I am highly motivated and ready to go!

Here is what I would like to remember from the meeting:

Be ready for each and every performance.
Go out, make a SPLASH, and come home. 
Let people feel the Spirit through you and your music.
Things that have happened on past tours are still bearing fruit today.
When you are tempted to complain, STOP IT !
Think of it as being with 600 of your closest friends on a “little retreat.”
You are now in the Lord’s hands.
Things will happen as He directs this great work.

You are an ambassador of the Lord and of His church.
There is no way of measuring the lives that will be touched.
May the Lord be with you and your families in your absence.
Being with the choir and orchestra is not for the faint of heart.
Music is a powerful means to communicate with the Lord.
Make God’s purpose your purpose, and you will experience spiritual perfection.

My large bag and concert clothing are packed, ready, and delivered. The luggage trucks will leave on Tuesday. We leave in ten days.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

At War - Part II

For some unknown reason, my strawberries are doing beautifully this year. The plants are tall and prolific. A few of the large berries are beginning to ripen. I walked out to check on them last night and found one of the biggest strawberries laying on the cement half-eaten!  Magpies!!! 

Remember this post in 2011?
For the last two years, we have hung CD’s in the garden. The movement in the wind and the subsequent reflection of the sun was suppose to frighten them away. Frighten a magpie? Huh.

So this year, Potts came up with an ingenious contraption utilizing PVC pipe and bird netting. 

The top is even hinged so I can lift it up to weed! Pretty cool, isn't it? I’m crossing my fingers that it will keep the magpies away and this year I will win the war; I’ll let you know how it goes.

"I was acquainted with a tame magpie in Melbourne. He had lived in a lady's house several years, and believed he owned it. The lady had tamed him, and in return he had tamed the lady. He was always on deck when not wanted, always having his own way, always tyrannizing over the dog, and always making the cat's life a slow sorrow and a martyrdom. He knew a number of tunes and could sing them in perfect time and tune; and would do it, too, at any time that silence was wanted; and then encore himself and do it again; but if he was asked to sing he would go out and take a walk."
---Mark Twain

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Time for a Mini-Getaway

Tuesday, May 14 through Thursday, May 16 

It was time to get away. We just felt it in our bones. Randy and I had three days with virtually nothing “set in stone,” (I can’t remember the last time this has been the case) so we packed a bag and took off. 

We drove to Jackson Hole, WY through Evanston and the little town of Randolph, UT, notable for the fact that it’s population of 496 had the highest percentage of people of any city in the country vote for George W. Bush in the 2004 election. (Thought you might enjoy that tidbit of information.)

Randolph in Randolph!

It also boasts a home of Wilford Woodruff 

Utah's smallest store

And a striking tabernacle built in 1902.

It happened to be the “off season” in Jackson and many of the shops and galleries were closed, but we didn’t mind. It wasn’t the destination that was important anyway.
The Tetons were still snow-covered and the ice on the lakes had just melted the week before. 

You know me and water;  I couldn’t resist. 

We came back through Bear Lake and Logan Canyon, a drive that I adore!

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 
-- Ernest Hemingway

General Conference Photographs

This has to be Potts' favorite assignment. For the past three conferences, he has been asked to help photograph General Conference along with nine other photographers. To fulfill this task, he pretty much lives on Temple Square for two full days, then edits and prepares his favorite 100 images the next day. He puts his whole heart and soul into this undertaking (as he does any photographic assignment.)

There's a story behind this photograph --

Potts listens to as much of Conference as he is able with his ear buds and iPhone. As he was listening to President Packer"s message of the finches and the snake in the ivy, he thought to himself, "I don't think I've seen many birds on Temple Square. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a few flew in just for this occasion?" And then, a dozen little birds flew onto the tree right next to him. They stayed just long enough for him to photograph and then flew away. Potts felt a sense of love and awe, realizing just Who is in charge. When he came home, out of curiosity he looked up what type of tiny birds these were.  He discovered they were actually finches!

Besides the above bird that was used to illustrate President Packer's message, eleven other of Potts' images were published in the May issue of the Ensign.

Here are a few more of MY favorites -