Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ushering in the Christmas season: My light hanging debacle

I got my Christmas lights put up on Thanksgiving morning. Actually, I had been invited to a Turkey Bowl football game, and had briefly considered running a 5k that morning. As it turned out, it was very cold, and for both playing football and running, a little colder than I would like. As for the football game, I wishfully considered it and then decided that it was a great opportunity for injury to occur--injury that would seriously hamper my ability to bring in income at my highest opportunity for overtime.
So, in order to reduce the risk of getting injured, I opted for putting up Christmas lights. I used to watch Bishop Stevenson (not really a bishop, but that's another long story) out there in the frigid air in his insulated coveralls putting up lights. He did it at night too, probably so he could see how they looked as he got them connected. Anyway that job looked very cold in the dark. I was doing it in the light.
And it was still very cold. I came in several times to get warm. Of course, it would've been a bit warmer if I'd had gloves on. As I began putting them up, I realized that for another year, I had forgotten to buy some new clips to attach to the rain gutter or shingles and I was going to be stuck with using the metal screwed in hooks that previous owners of the house had used. It was either that or wait until the next day off to get them up, and since it takes me a while to motivate myself to do it in the first place, that wasn't going to happen. It was now or never.
As I actually began hanging the first string of lights, I realized that last year, I had lost several of the metal hooks--never a good option because they fall out so easily--and that there were huge gaps between the places I'd need to secure the light strings. In some places the gaps were about eight feet long. This is not conducive to good, straight, uniform light hanging, but perfect for Dr. Seuss-type decorating. Did I mention that I'm a natural for the Dr. Seuss lighting?
Within an hour or two, I had the lights up and working, despite having started at the wrong end of the plug and having to figure out a new way to connect power. Now, all that's left is the star on top of the roof. I hope to get that done next week sometime and then maybe I'll take a pic and post it.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who take the time to read my posts. Sometimes the things I write may seem strange, incoherent, or just not your cup of tea, so to speak. Fair enough. As an individual, I have my own idiosyncrasies, my own way of looking at life. I'm thankful for all of you and your own differences and ways of looking a things. I wouldn't be posting anything if I wasn't getting readers, so a big THANK YOU to my loyal readers. I hope all of you have an amazing time today wherever you may be.

And if you can reach through my computer, give Scout a pat on the head.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gratitude: I'm grateful for picnics

In thinking about things I'm grateful for, often overlooked are picnics. Of course, spending time with loved ones is always a thing to be thankful for, but picnics are a special case. Picnics are special because by their very nature, they are outdoorsy kinds of things. I spend time on hikes now looking for good picnicking areas. I spend time on four-wheeling drives looking for likely spots as well. One never knows when one will stop and eat and it pays to know the landscape. In the long run, the food tastes better when you can relax and enjoy yourself, rather than have to just plop down anywhere because your hunger is insatiable. That being said, I think picnics, with few ants, are priceless.

Toenails: Reminding me of an excellent adventure

This past Labor Day, early in September, my brother Mike and I went on a hike up Lone Peak. The trail is very steep and as we came down, my toes were jammed into the front of my hiking shoes. Three of my toenails, on my left foot only, turned black underneath. Now, almost three months later, two of them still are black.

I wonder how long this lasts. I'm thinking I may need to do some research as to how I can keep this phenomenon from happening. On the other hand, it makes my foot a little more interesting. I won't let anyone paint my toenails later on so that I can keep up this image, but like scars, it reminds me of battles fought and won. It reminds me that I did something very challenging this past summer and that I have something to talk about. My toenails may not always be this color, but I'll remember that they once were and how they got that way for a good long time.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Super amazingness from the night sky: another thing for which I'm grateful

A month or two ago, early in the morning in the eastern sky, Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon were all grouped close together. As I would get up in the morning and leave for work, I saw them daily, just as the first twinge of light was beginning to appear above the Wasatch peaks. In my rush to accomplish many things prior to heading off to work, I would forget until I was leaving late, and the only camera available would be my phone--a poor substitute at best for my Canon SLR, especially at that time of day.
Gradually, the three heavenly bodies drifted further apart. Now, the Moon is nowhere to be seen near the two planets, and the two planets themselves have spaced themselves quite a distance apart. It's part of a recurring cycle. One day, in the not too distant future, they'll all be close together again in the sky. Maybe then, I'll get out the better camera and get a better shot.
I watched a documentary called John Denver: Country Boy on Netflix last night. I really liked it. One of the things it mentioned was that in the song "Rocky Mountain High" the line "I've seen it raining fire in the sky" refers to a time when he and his buds were out in the mountains during the time of the Perseids meteor shower. That would be awesome! I need to do that sometime.
I'm always grateful for the beautiful stars at night, and for sharing the view with those who are equally appreciative. One of these days, I'm just going to lay back on a hillside somewhere and stare up at the sky--maybe even during the Perseids meteor shower, but any time would be great.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Gratitude: I'm grateful for fabulous health product recommendations

So over the past year, I've discovered three items that have improved my life, thanks to the recommendation of others. These three items are coconut oil, psyllium husks, and melatonin.

Coconut oil can be used in a variety of ways. I have mostly used it for my dry skin. Since I work in an industry that requires me to be outdoors in harsh weather conditions, my hands can get extremely dry. When I remember to put in on my hands, it helps out a lot with this condition. I understand it makes a great massage oil too, though I have yet to try this usage.

The psyllium husks that I use come as a powder that I mix with water and drink. I have had diverticulitis twice this year and needed to find a way to get more fiber into my diet. In addition to providing that, psyllium husks provide other health benefits as well.

Melatonin was recommended to me as a way to reduce long hours of wakefulness in the middle of the night. It has worked amazingly well. For years, I've dreamed only rarely. Since I've begun taking the stuff, I have had dreams nearly every night. I think that might mean that I'm falling into deeper and thus more restful sleep. Certainly that's beneficial.

When people recommend great products to me, I think it's highly appropriate to thank them. So my gratitude goes out to those who have suggested the above products to me. They have made me life better, by helping me with some of my minor health issues. Thanks!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Today I'm grateful for butt-kicking good recipes

There's nothing like getting a treat from a neighbor or friend. It's especially nice when that treat is out of this world. Even better is when that friend shares the recipe with you.
The thing about the internet is that there are millions of people sharing a lot of great recipes...far too many to try in any one lifetime.
So, I narrow it down by things I must eat. And one of those things is great oatmeal cookies. I got a great oatmeal raisin cookie recipe a few months ago, and it was so good, that even though I made mistakes making it and when I put them in bags they turned into crumbs, I snarfed down the crumbs. And then I tried making it again after contacting the person who had posted the recipe and using the tips she gave me. They worked better, were still delicious, and still turned to crumbs. I guess I'm going to need to get a real baker to make them for me.
I've received other good recipes in the past year...a great cinnamon coffee cake recipe that I made for Christmas morning last year...that was fabulous! And many other great concoctions.
I'm grateful for people who share their recipes. Now, if I could only get them to cook for me, I'd be really grateful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Christmas Postal tide is rising

Just a quick pic to show you what today looked like in my mail truck. We are steadily increasing in our parcels and it will be peaking in just three or four weeks from now, but already, I'm having a tough time finding room for all the mail.

The thing most people don't know is that these trucks are ill-equipped for  the increase of online ordering and the corresponding increase in package delivery. There aren't any shelves in our trucks, so no matter how well we stack them, a few bumps, corners, or stops and the entire pile is soon jumbled. Within the next year or so, we'll be getting trucks with shelves, so that should help a lot.

Gratitude: Today, I'm thankful for Flo

So yesterday I was delivering my mail and there were a lot of Progressive ads going to homes along my route. I was looking at Flo all day.

I'm kind of thankful for Flo. Those commercials early on were appealing and something fresh. I know it sounds weird, but Flo is a bright spot in a world of stupid commercials and television programs. I don't typically like commercials, but there are a few entertaining ones and the ones with Flo in them are among the best. Besides that, I think the woman who portrays Flo is probably nice in real life, and the world needs more nice people, especially in the kind of world in which we live.

So two thumbs up for Flo. I hope she has a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Song for a Winter's Night

Eleven inches of snow in Tooele today. We didn't get anything here in West Valley. Still it was mighty cold. I felt it to both body and soul. Here's a great Gordon Lightfoot song for the day...Song for a Winter's Night.

Today I'm thankful I never got soaked, and other assorted topics

Winter has finally come to Utah. It's just as well. I was getting burned out of keeping up with the yard, and now, I can look forward to not having to do that kind of stuff until spring. I got the Accord finished with the safety and emissions inspection--it had failed because the bracket that holds the battery in had broken. Anyway, I replaced that today. I got a tool in the mail that's supposed to help with clearing obstructions from toilets. In our basement, where our daughter, Rebecca and her family live, the toilet is having issues. I had plunged it last week and got a toothbrush out, but then found out that there might be more toothbrushes and whatever else in there and that it was still sluggish. Rather than pull the toilet to clear it, I got online and looked for easier solutions. Anyway, I found out about the toilet auger that a bunch of people swear works well, then I checked the video that's mentioned in the comment section. In case you ever need to know this, here it is.

I put Rebecca's husband, Justin on the task this morning. I'm anxious to see how it went.

Ann and I are going to try and finish up our Christmas shopping for the kids and grandkids sometime today. We like to get it done early, so we don't have to worry about it. I still have a bunch to do for Ann, but what do you expect? Her birthday is December 12, then there's Christmas, and on December 30th, our anniversary. If I could figure out how to get Mother's Day and Valentine's Day into December, I would and then I could have the whole shebang over for the year.

On the writing front, I think I'm going to find some agents to whom I can submit my Christmas poem entitled The Cowboy's Mile: A Christmas Story. I feel that it would be easier to try and explain my idea for the poem with illustrations to an agent rather than to a publishing company. It's a lengthy poem--about two to three type written pages of verse--and it would lend itself well to a format with a stanza or two on a page with an illustration to go with it. I'm fairly certain both children and adults would like this story--I just need to find a way to get it published. I'm also confident that it would be well-received among the Christian book market, so maybe that's the kind of agent I need to approach.

As for gratitude today, I'm grateful I didn't ever stay out in the rain long enough to get soaking wet. It might have caused trouble with clothes clinging and all of that. Okay, I know, that sounds like a weird thing to be grateful for, but I have my reasons. And I am trying to think of things I don't normally think of for which to be grateful. Normally I don't mind getting soaking wet, especially when it's very hot. But this year, it seemed kind of like, well, it didn't ever really get hot enough to need that cool down effect, another thing for which I'm grateful. And, it's just plain hard to get out of the wet clothing. I'm thankful I never got that wet and that all my excursions this year were relatively tame. Well most of them. That's a story for another time.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Today I'm grateful for sunrises and sunsets

Earlier this year, during the summer, I went hiking specifically to take pictures of the sunset from the Salt Lake Overlook. It was a great experience that I enjoyed immensely. I have been treated to many great sunsets this year. I have been treated to spectacular sunrises. When I see them, I try to share them because, well, spreading the joy is always a good thing.
Sometimes when I see a beautiful sunrise, I cannot help but think of others sharing it too. That's one of the great things about both sunrises and sunsets--that many people can see them, if they take the time. Sunsets and sunrises lift the spirits and impress upon the mind the beauty of God's creations. And I kind of like that.
Sunset along the Kings Peak trail, 2014

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Gratitude: for advice that's worth more than I paid for it

In looking back over the past year, I've received a lot of good free advice. Some say, advice is worth what you pay for it. I say, that in the past year, the free advice I've gotten has been as valuable to me as if I'd paid a lot of money for it. I don't think that we often count free counsel by others when it come to gratitude, but this time, I'm going to. So thanks for the advice. It has been worth far more than I ever paid.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gratitude, green lights and geese

November is typically the month when we tend to think of gratitude a bit more frequently. Of course, that's associated with Thanksgiving Day. Really, we should be full of gratitude all the time for our great blessings. I've participated in the past in events that included listing some of the things I am thankful for on social media sites. Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be posting in this blog some of the things for which I'm grateful.
This first one is going to seem odd to some, not so odd to others. I'm thankful for green lights. That's right. Green lights. Far better than red lights, green lights suggest that it's okay. Okay to proceed, okay to go, okay to do a lot of everything. If I see two green lights in a row, I sometimes think that maybe this day, God is on my side a bit more than usual--and I can always use that kind of feeling.
I was a bit sad earlier today. Feeling blue. Blue's normally my color, but not when I'm sad. But then, something amazing happened. I hit two green lights in a row and somehow I knew that everything would be all right. So, I want to thank God for making sure I saw that today.

There was something else I saw today that had God's mark all over it. I was at the gym, having just completed my workout and I was walking around just thinking for a minute. I walked down to the west doors and looked up at the magnificent sky. The perfect mixture of blue, gray, and pink warmed my heart, but just then a flock of geese flew past, heading north. Within seconds another flock flew by, this time heading south, and then a third group, heading south as well. Big, beautiful birds bringing to me, a message of peace. God knew my heart needed it this morning and he delivered, as he always does when I decide to trust in and honor him.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Have you seen her? Betcha by golly wow!

I like sad songs from time to time. That doesn't mean I'm sad every time I listen to them. Far from it. There are times though. I remember times in the past when I've been sad. And songs of lost love are usually the saddest. Now, this singing group, the Chi-lites....they are great. They also have some nice Afros. I had an Afro once, believe it or not. It kind of reminds me of the old NBA announcer who once asked, "How tall is that guy?" and his side-kick said, "Six foot two if you count his hair."

Another great song is the Stylistic's "Betcha By Golly Wow" This is just a great song that isn't a sad song. Some of these old Mo-town groups are fabulous! Sit back and enjoy a couple of classics!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Life's trials stink

Two days ago I got a call from my daughter (who with her family, lives in our basement) while I was at work.
"There's water everywhere and it's coming from the floor drain in the basement. Sewage has backed up into the bathtub. What should I do?
I have used up all my leave time for the year. I couldn't go home to assess the situation myself. "Call a plumber," I said. "Go with whichever one can get there first".
Hoping that she could handle the situation from there, I worked the last three hours until quitting time, and then went straight home, abandoning my plans for a workout at my local gym.
When I finally got to take a look at things, they seemed rather dire. The plumber would not be there for a couple of hours, so I set about using the shop vac to suck up water. I knew I wouldn't be able to dump it until the plumber arrived and fixed things.
When the plumber got there, he got the drains clear, but emphasized a problem I already knew we had...that somewhere in the main line going out to the street there's a "belly" in the line. This can lead and has already led to multiple backing up problems. He left and I got back to work, mopping, cleaning tubs. Trying to deal with another problem that the plumber had found, which was that the basement toilet was not working properly and that there was likely something lodged within. I was trying to dump shop vac water into it and flush it down, but it didn't want to go down. Only by adding additional water after pushing the handle would the thing go all the way down, but eventually even that stopped. I thought I'd be calling the plumber back the next day to pull the toilet.
However, in the process of trying to plunge the water down, the object that was blocking things actually became dislodged and floated partway into the bowl, I could see the brush end of a toothbrush. I plunged my ungloved hand into the tank and grabbed it. It didn't want to come, but I insisted. Once I got that out and washed my hands, I tried flushing the toilet again. It worked! Rebecca had been carrying water up the 12 steps all day to dump it somewhere, and was all done in, so I washed all the sopping towels, semi-cleaned the toilet, sprayed out the tub (it would still need a good scrubbing), sucked up the remaining water off the floor, and after a long, hot shower, called it a night.
So, this year we've had the freezer go out, the roof replaced, and a flood in the basement. Things come in threes, as a friend reminded me, and we've had our three. No more necessary this year! I think I will schedule a plumber from now on every six months to run a cable through the lines, and if that doesn't work, well, I guess we'll have to take more drastic measures. One of the neighbors said that the same thing happened to them and the guy who fixed theirs said that the houses in the neighborhood had settled since they'd been built and the lines going out to the street have virtually no downhill gradient. Good to know...
Yeah, I'm fairly certain that we'll be moving again. I was fairly certain before, so now I'm even more so. I'm just glad that life's adventures don't all involve cleaning up sewage.