Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Great Trek

It's been quite the week. On Thursday night (actually Friday morning) we left at around 1am for Utah via Las Vegas. We drove on the new bridge at the Hoover Dam and then went back to the dam and walked around. There was a line because they were working on the barriers. I know 'cause we asked them. We saw a mountain goat that had made its way down into the land next to the river.

Then we did a trek down the Strip in Las Vegas. It looks quite tawdry (shabby) in the daylight. Without its sheen of glittery light the cracks and rough places show up like an old

We went to find my publishers so I could talk to them. We were going to print with SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO but then they stopped it looking for another option. Anywho, because of rush hour we got there ten minutes late and my editor was gone and we never could meet back up. We had two missionary's stuff to take back to their parents's clear back by the Oqquir Mtn hour and a half back the other way. We got to the in-laws pretty late. They're so patient and understanding.

The next am we watched Conference the first session and then raced over to Salt Lake to see the second. Unfortunately we didn't have tickets and had to watch it from the Tabernacle...the hard wooden seats behind a pillar. But it was still cool. There's just something about being that close to truly great men. I loved the talks and can't wait to re-experience them in the Ensign. It was surreal being that close to the Prophet and Apostles, even though we were so far away that they looked like they were on TV. The bummer was that when the guy spoke in his own Portuguese we only had subtitles and I couldn't take good notes. While we waited for the men to get out of their meeting, I met John Bytheway and one of the actors for Saints and Soldiers 3 and another writer. Very cool. The picture was great!

Monday am we took off for Idaho. We had lunch at Idaho Falls. Bit and I fed the birds before we saw the don't feed the birds sign. Pretty fun. Then we went and saw my dorm at Rexburg and saw the temple. We ended up seeing 13 different temples this trip! We even saw the new Payson one. We got to Yellowstone late in the afternoon and had just enough time to set up camp and go for a walk before the sun went down. We saw lots of kicking, charging bison and I think we heard a whole pack of wolves that night. I contemplated for a few minutes the terribly thin nature of those ripstop nylon walls of our tent. We also saw a moose. What I didn't see was the full eclipse. I was trying so hard to just get a half hour of sleep that I refused to open my eyes at 4:30 when it occurred. I think that was the half hour I got.

The next day we did Yellowstone. Mostly in the morning it was very misty. I got some great pictures of the mist and steam, but not so good pics of guysers until it warmed up and the steam abated. We saw Old Faithful blow twice. I hoped to see the one that's bigger than Old Faithful go off, but we weren't that lucky. We saw all kinds of bubbly hot sulfur holes of all colors. I remembered Morning Glory pool fondly as a gorgeous blue hole. Apparently people dumped too many things in there and it lowered the temp of the water and now it's no longer a gorgeous blue. Now it's a gorgeous blue-green and red and yellow. Mostly green. I loved the hike, though. No people but me and the Hubs charging along ahead of my puffing, gasping self.

On the way out we saw a huge grizzly bear heading off into the weeds across the river. We also saw lots of elk and deer and a pretty little fox right on the side of the road. We went up to the Grand Teton Nat'l. park next. Wow those mountains were jagged and majestic! I loved them, especially the jagged-iness. We got pizza in Jackson Hole and saw all kinds of elk. We passed a plethora of tiny less-than-200-people towns. But that part of Wyoming was so much prettier with trees and mountains than the rest we saw before. There is just something so post apocalyptic and dreary about a sere landscape full of nothing but calf-high sagebrush.

That night we spent with my in-laws (got there late) and then the next morning we took off for Nevada and Lehman cave. It was a pretty cave. The operative word being WAS. Most of the stalactites had been chopped off. It was really sad. Apparently in the 20's they gave a stalactite to anyone who could pull it off the ceiling. Some of them had new little soda straws growing from the stubs. I think the Hubs and I knew more about the geology than the ranger did. I kept anticipating her spiel with questions. She told me I'd probably been there before and was amazed when I said I hadn't.

On the way back to Utah and Richfield where my cousin lives, we stopped at the state line and the Boy and I stood in two states at once and two different times. In other words, we were time travelers...rofl Now I expect The Doctor to swipe me for a little Companion action momentarily.

We tried to make it to Cove Fort that evening but we missed a turn and went to Oak city first. By the time we got there, the Fort was closed, so we went to KFC and then to my cousin's. The next morning we went to Fish Lake and saw the world's biggest living entity...a stand of aspens. They blazed with color. We bummed around a dilapidated lodge and I dreamed of what it would be like to buy it and clean it up and have all kinds of things there...reunions, SCA events, church camps, Boy Scout events. Would be cool. While we were there, we saw a muskrat chugging around in the marina. It was so cute.

On our way home, my cousin got a call saying that her youngest daughter had been hit with a baseball bat in P.E. She had to have stitches in her chin and they were watching her for a concussion. We couldn't do much, though, so we went to Cove Fort. It was a way cool little fort. My aunt and uncle worked there until 2 weeks ago. We just missed them. I'll show you the pictures when we get them off my camera.

We went back to the cousin's to sleep and in the morning we went to see Scipio where my book is set. I'm happy to say that most of what I wrote was pretty spot on. We took a few pictures and then went to a glorious little camp ground called Maple Grove. Talk about scarlets and golds and all flaming colors in between!!! It'd be a great place to have a family reunion, esp. in the fall. After that we took off for Richfield Walmart and then home.

We saw AZ, NV, UT, MT, WY, and ID. We saw bubbly mud, spouting steam, and gorgeous sulfur pools. Giant aspen stands, gorgeous Victorian houses, tiny towns, ancient barns, and miles and miles of empty, waterless land, sky-ripping mountains, ranks of pines both of the pinion and fir types. There were horses, cattle, elk, deer, mountain goats, regular goats, bears, moose, bison, chipmunks (mini-bears), squirrels, muskrat, llamas, dogs, cats, and maybe wolves.

The trip back was a total fly-by. I had a good book on my kindle, so I read until nearly dark. Amazingly there was very little sleep-age, which is weird since road trips render me comatose. We hardly even stopped except to get gas, making it home at around 7:45. It was pretty strange getting home before dinner time.

Pictures to come when I get them off my camera.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why I'm Late

My blog furniture and invisible books don't 'know' me anymore it's been so long. But I have reasons.

First of all my book is coming out momentarily!!! (I can't keep my pinkie off the exclamation point button. It goes there of its own volition today.) I've seen the last iteration of the cover and love it. I've examined every inch of the inside and the work has passed my strict magnifying glass, even down to kerning. (If there are kerning problems, they had to be there. Kerning is the space between words or letters.)

So here is the cover in all its glory:

I've blacked out a couple of places until I get the news I'm hoping for (hopefully) today. (Can I just say I HATE my paint program? I've used various programs and this one I seem to be stuck with is absolutely wretched. Anywho, back to the party.) I can't wait!!! I can't believe this book is finally coming to fruition. Plus I just got the word that we're going ahead with SUMMERHOUSE for Spring and they want a synopsis of LETTERS FOR STEPS. Finally, the train is pulling out of the station.

So that's the top news. Here are a couple of other things that have kept me from coming to write as much (besides doing massive edits on the book pictured above):

I'm working on a book called MARIN AT THE WELL, researching the Middle East in the time of Christ, plus parts in the New Testament which deal specifically with Christ before He was resurrected, and writing the story of Marin Peregrin.

I've also joined an amazing choir. (They just changed the name to Tucson Interfaith Choir--TIC) The music is, for me, quite difficult since I'm not the world's best sight reader. We're singing about twelve songs, two of them in German, and most with very complex melodies. I love it. Quite the challenge. We'll be performing on the 24th and 25th of October at the Ft. Lowell chapel and East Stake Center in Tucson respectively. We're also probably going to do parts of Bach's Christmas Oratorio for Christmas among other things. At least that's what I believe Brent said.

The last thing that kept me away this last week was a trip North. I'll tell that in another post so this one isn't so long. Plus hopefully I'll have pics by that time. I have some glorious ones of the fall colors and Yellowstone in the mist and of temples (especially the Salt Lake Temple) and the family members who went.

So those things plus driving the kids everywhere (I thought when I had fewer of them home things would calm down. NOT.) and doing Rel. Soc. President-y things and Boy Scout-y things make for a huge pile of excuses. I'm going to take a running start and fling myself into that pile, like landing in a big pile of gold and scarlet leaves, scattering them everywhere.

Anyway, now I've got to go contribute to another couple of blogs and put clothes away and jump around like a crazy person and have breakfast (it's 1:50), and whittle (more like hack at with an ax) my mountainous to-do list. I have not forgotten you...;o)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Escaped Hippopotamus Alert

 Maybe you've seen me running down the side of the road. I use the word 'running' loosely. It's more like slowly falling forward and catching myself with each footstep. And if you did witness such a spectacle, you might have thought to yourself, "Wow. There's an escaped hippopotamus lumbering down the street! I wonder if I should give the zoo a call."

Don't call. It's just me trying to shed a couple of tons of flopping blubber. It probably looks as if I sit home every day eating bon bons and watching soaps, which isn't true. Actually I run at least three times a week and do probably 15 or so hours per week of service--often free house cleaning help, among other things.

I also think about doing massive amounts of sit-ups and leg lifts and other exercises. Apparently thinking about it isn't quite enough. Which is wretched. I think when I do mental calisthenics and when I turn down chunk-inducing food I should get points which, when totaled, take off a pound or two. If that were the case, I'd be another 25 lbs. lighter.

I never thought of myself as being one of "those" people who had so much time on their hands that they could sit around counting calories and obsessing over their tonnage. I was always too busy doing things.

Besides running, I like to dance, swim, and occasionally hike, fight, and climb a little. I work for the Boy Scouts and Church and I'm the Attendance Clerk for my international writing club. I ride herd on a family of eight with three teens still at home. I sing in three choirs, play several instruments, and do art gigs. I also read and write. Lots. So that means the scales of injustice are tipping unforgivably towards a widening posterior and stomach.

The funny thing is, the 'me' inside my head looks nothing like this horrid mirror apparition. (Who let that hag in? She needs to go back to being the doorkeeper at Hogwarts.) Inside Me is twenty five, slender, gorgeous, gifted, and successful. For her, the running and dancing and swimming and climbing, and sword-fighting has paid off quite well. Outer Me is always flummoxed (it even sounds like a FAT word) at the viscous nature of fat. Man, that gunk sticks to everything! Maybe glue companies should research fat as a new kind of glue.

Someone said I should carry weights when I'm running. To them I say, I already am. I carry a tube of it around my middle and two fanny packs worth on my behind. Hasn't helped.

The other thing that annoys the heck out of me is the recalcitrance of that torture implement squirreled away under my bathroom sink called a scales. Whoever invented that contraption should be put to the rack. It taunts me when I go in to brush my teeth. This is the gist of the conversation:

Scales: If you climb on, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Me: Right.
Scales: No really. You look like you've lost a little around the chest area.
Me: Yeah thanks. No.
Scales: Don't you feel a little lighter? And you didn't have that extra helping at dinner. You probably dropped a whole pound.
Me: Not likely.
Scales: Oh come on. You have to know how much you weigh. They ask you in all kinds of places.
Me: It's none of their business, really.
Scales: But you should know the number so you can know if you're healthy or not.
Me: Your weight isn't the be-all and end-all of the health index.
Scales: That's an excuse.
Me: *sigh* All right. All right. Shut up. I know I should at least check it out. But it's night time and I still have clothes on. It'll throw things off if I'm still wearing my watch and clothes. And they all say you should weigh yourself at the same time of day.
Scales: I'll be lying in wait. Hah! Pun intended.
The next morning.
Scales: Okay, Chubby. Put up or shut up.
Me: Don't let me weigh more than ***. It's GOT to be under ***.
I step on, quivering. The dang thing bursts into horrid little snickers. I step off and back on several times, hoping it was asleep or lying or I can trick it into reading less. No dice. The tonnage glows at me maleficently. 
Scales: I'll be waiting. Again, pun intended.

Someday I'm going to loft that thing into a running creek. Or a landfill right before the dozer shoves dirt over it. Or the desert along with a half ton of other garbage. (Just kidding. I'm not a litterer. Just plump.)

No. Wait. I hear hippos can be pretty vicious. I'm going to bite that thing in half and then stomp on it until the stinkin' springs pop out. Yeah. We hippopotami can be sneaky.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Own Miracle

About twelve years ago I slipped on a hidden book and dislocated my shoulder. I also broke the part of the bone off where the ligament attaches to the shoulder. Instant excruciating pain! It lasted well over three hours while the hospital needlessly (and unknown to me) waited for my Hubs to sign paperwork. I hope never to repeat that kind of searing, burning, mind-robbing pain.

A few weeks ago I revisited some of that misery. For unknown reasons, my shoulder injured itself in my sleep or something. Apparently it swelled up inside and became inflamed and the muscle "froze" up. Which is a misnomer since nothing felt icy at all. There was PLENTY of heat. In fact, there was so much ache that I couldn't lift my arm more than two inches away from straight down.

The bad thing was that my babies were here from Texas. Most of the time they were here I spent in a pain-scarred haze. All I could do was sit on the couch and veg. If people jumped into my arms I went into orbit around Saturn. Not fun.

On Sunday I consulted a couple of my chiropractor friends at church. One of them did some tests that made me dance with agony. They told me my shoulder was frozen and that, beyond some exercises, they couldn't really do anything.

I decided I needed to have a blessing. I knew that my faith plus that Priesthood blessing would make me, if not completely whole immediately, at least able to function. In my mind, I knew it would happen in a day or so. So I got my Hubs and my daughter's boyfriend to bless me. That night, for the first night since The Pain began, I slept through the night. The next day the arm was noticeably better.

Then I looked up Frozen Shoulder on the Internet and several sites (Mayo Clinic etc) said this pain would last anywhere from a year to two years. I was floored. That long? No Way. Wasn't happening. I'd had a blessing.

That day I got a call from my friend Christine, who does therapeutic massage and kinesio taping. She's very good and always studying and perfecting. (I can put you in touch with her.) Immediately she asked me what was wrong. I've got to say this isn't really that normal for her to instantly ask what's wrong. We usually chat about a bunch of things and sometimes don't get around to my own problems. It's just that kind of give and take friendship. We deal with what's happening.

That day, right to the bacon.

I told her what I'd been experiencing and she scolded me for not immediately calling her. She nearly flew over here and taped up my shoulder. She could see I was still suffering terribly and she knows the kind of pain threshold I have. I sword-fight for fun. I get honking bruises on a regular basis and don't even blink at them. I had 5 of my 6 children without any kind of pain meds. With the first baby I only had a shot of local anesthetic. So when Christine saw me wince, she knew I was feeling as if a bull shark was tearing off my arm.

I'm here to say that by the end of that day, I could lift my arm to horizontal. Without pain.

I'm not kidding. And the healing went on from there. She saw me one other time to do some massage on it and was completely amazed. We took the tape off to see if the pain would still hold off and it did.

Don't get me wrong. There's still some kind of impingement in there. But I can raise my arm clear up to vertical. I can dress myself and lift loads. I can put my arm behind my back.

I know that the power of the Priesthood is real. It calmed the agony in such a graphic way that I could never ignore it. It sent my friend to call me and then to do the things she could do to help me. She told me herself that when she saw how much pain I was in, she didn't think she could do much for me. Alone she probably couldn't have. But together with the blessing, she did it. There's no good reason why it should have worked so completely, except that the Lord needed to use me to show what He can do.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good-bye My Babies

Every time I came out to check on the dog, there were more skeins of yarn he was starting a knitting project. The sign says: Where's my scarf, Howdy?
 Sigh...Big sigh. The Grand Monsters (lovingly said, of course) went home today, back to the land of the giant star. At last my home is quiet. Almost too quiet. Nobody is demanding that I fill up their candy container. There are no calls for cartoons or mass fairy book readings. Nowhere is there a baby climbing up to clutch at things on the table or frazzled moms grabbing them back down. No one scrambles to catch the dog before it escapes out the front door to go sniff everything or eats a W&W off the floor. There are no more horse clopping sounds or shouts of, "Stand and Deliver!" or "Reach for da sky!" (I have BRILLIANT babies.)

It smells of fairy wing glue, and spilled dog food and faintly of dirty diaper and W&W's and the duct tape with which all good knights repair their swords. It no longer reeks of old doll clothes and ancient books and childhood, as they took the bags of dolls and toys we bestowed upon them, some to keep and some to give to others. It smells of Uno cards and defeat at the hands of El Scarifo. And the spicy scents of a large Pasketti dinner still hang about the dish mountain.

I must say that a few tears always escape my eyes when I see the back end of their car pulling into the distance. Such scenes are always accompanied by the echoing strains of the song from Fiddler on the Roof, Far From the Home I Love. There's always that hint of a question, "When will I see them again?"

The simple answer is, "Never." Never at that adorable age will I see them again--that moment caught in magical amber. By the next time they'll have learned to speak in full sentences, perform complex algorithms, tie theirs and other people's shoes (together), and dance the pas de deux from Swan Lake. They'll have learned to speak several different languages and crochet doilies and lop the heads off dragons with one fell swoop. 

Or something.

Will I ever be vanquished again by a sword I just gave the boy? Who knows? Will the Boo ever give such deliciously messy kisses? No clue. Will he ever come to my knee and gently eat all my breakfast? Maybe. Will he still enjoy drinking Ranch dressing straight, no chasers? Doubtful. Will the Ace ever need my help deciphering Presidential facts? Probably not. She'll be running for president soon.

Howdy-the-Dog will be greatly missed as well, even though he killed a sock, a peanut butter lid, two W&W containers, and several skeins of yarn. What will we do for jolting dog-hop exercise now? And how will we ever get our feet licked clean? My son is definitely going to miss his snoring buddy. He wants a dog so much he can taste it.

So. Even though several things lie in more pieces than they did before the Rumbling Herd got here, and even though I got exactly Zero words written, and even though we were up until well after midnight every night trying to corner the market on flax or swipe El Scarifo's rifle, I already miss them.

Ah for Christmas vacation. We shall be armed with more W&W's than even the Glazed Donut Monster can consume in a month, chew toys we don't care about, and a hefty supply of card-game vengeance.

Bring it on, Babies.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Boy in a Boat

This is my nod to Scouting leadership.

A Boy in a Boat

I set a boy adrift in a boat, out on a choppy sea.
The waves were high, 
Crashing over the bow
So I bid him come back to me.

But I gave him no oars nor a brave coxswain
Nor a captain to guide his hand
I expected the boy to save himself
Tho he truly did not understand.

Who, then, should I blame if the boy in the boat
Founders and sinks 'neath the waves?
I stood safely on shore, merely looking on
'Stead of being the one who saves.

Be the brave lighthouse, be the Captain, the rope
Be the person who shows the boy in
Don't let him founder for want of a guide
Be the one he can count on to win.

Give him the oars he can use himself
To pull the boat into the shore
Then light his way o'er the rocks and the shoals
For that's what a leader is for.
© 2014 by H. Linn Murphy

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Swamp Camping

Recently we went camping with another family with lots of little children. Those children are brilliant, as geeky as we in our family are, and hilarious. I just had to get that in there.
Ramming speed, Girl!

So we trundled out to the area, not in the mountains as once I had hoped, but in a valley. Here in the desert that means normally it would be hotter than a smoker in the Marianas Trench (pretty toasty for those of you who don't keep up with marine biology or watch Blue Planet). To add to that, the campsite was located on a road between two weed-filled ponds. I envisioned hoards of goat-sized mosquitoes plunging from the clouds to siphon up gallons of our blood. I also envisioned one or more of the tots flinging themselves (or accidentally falling) into any of three large ponds.

What I did not envision was that directly after dinner the first salad plate-sized drops of an all-night deluge would begin. Luckily we'd already set up our tents...on the road in a line. I quickly questioned the parents of aforesaid tots about whether there was any history of sleepwalking in their family, as our own is rife with it. Luckily none of their children had sleepwalked while camping. A felicitous thought.

Normally I make three or four trips to the facilities each night. I was dreading the thought. I made one trek out to the outhouses down a muck-glazed road. Before I'd gotten ten feet I looked as if I'd fallen in the pond. I found that what had been touted as a rain poncho on the cover, was actually a windbreaker sans hat. So much for being prepared for every eventuality. To add to that and the knee-deep mud, the hand washing hose pump was solar-powered. Hence no water. Which wasn't a problem right then. I could simply hold my hands in the air and they'd be washed clean in under thirty seconds.
Hunting the great carp

Upon getting back to the tents after nearly slipping to my drowning death in the pond nearby, I found that not only was I covered in mud, but I really had no wish to sit outside in the rain and chat, as my Hubs was. So I went to bed. Which would have been pleasant, except that the rain was making it inside in about eight different ways. I tried unsuccessfully to make my bed an island. It was warm enough that I slept on top of the sleeping bag in a blanket sack I'd made as a liner for cold weather camps. Unfortunately that sack made a fabulous wick. The tip of it dipped into the burgeoning puddle and as the night wore on, wicked up further and further. Finally I sat up and yelled, "OK! TAKE THE REST OF IT!" at the puddle and donated the sack to the cause of sopping up the water so that it wouldn't soak my clothes. Which didn't work.

So everything was soaking wet. I could deal with that for a night. No problem. I wasn't even chilly. What I had a rougher time hacking was the chorus of bullfrog mating honks. All night. LOUD. Right next to us. I wanted to yell, "GET A ROOM!!!" until I realized we were sitting in their room. Around two pm we heard something that seemed to be trying to get into our food coolers. Anticipating a coon or a ring-tailed cat or coatimundi, the Hubs shone his flashlight out there and the rustles retreated to the tree. We continued to chat and suddenly heard a Ca-RACKKKK and a SPLOOSH. The Hubs and I doubled over in laughter thinking that that coon had fallen into the pond. But we didn't hear any splashing of a struggle. So apparently it either didn't fall in and was still lurking in the tree somewhere, or was immediately consumed by the cow-sized carp that lurk in the ponds. At any rate, it left the coolers alone. I got maybe an hour of light dozing that night.

The next day dawned watery but sunny. We aired things out clear up until we left, not wanting to haul home exceeding amounts of muck. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and sausage, we packed up most of it and went canoing.
We can beat 'em on the turn

The ponds could be called tiny lakes. I believe those things were mostly under five feet deep. I reached my paddle down to the bottom several times to check. Also, they were infested with lake weed which rose above the surface in many places. So for the giant carp to navigate, much of their bodies were above the surface. They left wakes like a motorboat. The Hubs was in front and saw several of the monsters. We chased them all over the pond. I wanted to see them up close too, but the bounders were too fast. Later when I went back out with my friend Lisa, we could find none of them. We found out that they had made their way to an underground culvert, which they used to escape to another of the ponds for safety.

After much pirate talk and plans to "ram the beggars" which we nixed after we saw how easy it would be to hole a canoe, we packed up the cars and wended our way home. That afternoon the house looked as if it was infested with mud monsters from the Black Lagoon. I still have several loads of tent and sleeping bags to wash and dry and put back together. And I hope none of those coolers contain anything other than bullrushes and air.

That 'squint-into-the-sun selfie
And of course there was the dialogue about what we'd do differently as we drove home. For one thing, I'm bringing my REAL poncho, not that stupid windbreaker. And for another, there's got to be a better way to keep the water out of our tent. And earplugs for the bullfrogs.