Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rex Says, Part II

Rex: "How old did you say I was?"
Me: "Eighty-four."
Rex: "Eighty-four? I probably won't make it any more than 10,  maybe 15 years!"

"That was a wonderful poop."

Me: "Dad, why didn't you eat your sandwich?"
Rex: "Maybe it was gross. Did you ever consider that?"

After a conversation about me finding a husband, Rex says, "Maybe you'll have a better shot at it in the next life."

At the conclusion of another conversation about me finding a husband, Rex says, "You need to find a mate."
"Rex, I'm afraid that well has run dry."
"Oh, no. There's one more bucket."

After I return from shopping, Rex asks, "Did you find anything you like?"
"No, I'm too fat for that store."
"Oh, no, you're just right."

At a restaurant:
Rex: "What kind of pie are we going to have?"
Me: "You get a free cookie with your meal."
Rex: "Yeah. I'll save the cookie. Now what kind of pie are we going to have?"
(I then order the pie.)
Rex: "Are you having pie?"
Me: "Yes, we're going to share it."
Rex: "You're kidding… that's ok… we'll make up for it later."

Rex tells me I need to move to (middle of nowhere) Ritzville, WA...

… and start a beaver farm. For fur coats. I tell Rex absolutely not, but he tells me that I'd be "the talk of the county" and that Heavenly Father put the idea in his head. He tried to persuade me for about 3 solid hours.

After reading about the destruction of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, Rex says, "Wow. He [Heavenly Father] really burned their tail feathers, didn't He?"

"I'll love you forever if you make me some treats. I'll love you anyway, but it would kind of help the process along."

"A little snack would really spark up the day."

After church, Rex says, "The ladies sure had a hard time leaving me alone today, didn't they?"

Rex: "Have you got any treats?"
Me: "No."
Rex: "A fellow needs a little nourishment now and then!"

Waking out of a deep sleep and still groggy, Rex exclaims, "We haven't eaten in two days!"

Rex: "You got any small treats for us?"
Me: "No. I'm sorry, Rex."
Rex: "Yeah, me too."

Rex: "Do we have any more of those potato chips?"
Me: "Yes, but if you eat them, there won't be any left for tomorrow."
Rex: "Let's let tomorrow take care of tomorrow."

Rex: "Do we have any cookies?"
Me: "Dad, you just had some ice cream at Costco!"
Rex: "So what?"
Me: "Dad, we don't have any cookies."
Rex: "Then what the hell were we doing at Costco?"

"Randi, what are you doing?"
"Clearing off the table so you can have breakfast."

"Can I have a little crust of bread?"

Rex: "What time is it?"
Me: "12:20."
Rex: "12:20! We must have missed a meal!"

Rex: "Can we have some coffee?" [He means hot chocolate.]
Me: "Rex, you've already had two cups of coffee, plus chocolate milk and cookies. That's way too much sugar. We've got to cut it out."
Rex: "Yeah. Alright. Tomorrow."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Help a Sister (Johansen) Out

OK, Mormons… so I have to teach the lesson in Relief Society this week, and I need your help. I'm drawing a major blank. If you would all go read the following talks and then share your thoughts, I'd be most grateful.

My lesson is based on this talk:

But I also came across this article, which I thought was fabulous:

I need an outline. And a thesis. And some good conversation questions. And anything else you can come up with. Aaaaand go!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Got Treats?

My dad drives me crazy. Like tonight, when he asked me to take out his hearing aids and then ten minutes later complained, "Why can't I hear the TV?" Or when it's 91 degrees outside, but he tells me to turn up the heat because he's freezing to death. Other times, however, he cracks me up. I've started writing down my favorite moments, and I thought I'd share a few of them with you. See if you notice a theme.

Me: Darn! I forgot to drop something off at the Goodwill.
Rex: It wasn't me, was it?

Rex says: "I need an ice cream cone to calm my nerves."

Rex offers the bedtime prayer and starts off: "Dear Heavenly Father, I'm sorry I'm such a nerd."

After I help Rex into bed and shut off the light, he asks: "I guess we don't get no more cookies tonight, huh?"

Rex and I visit my best friend Rebecca and her five active kids. He asks her, "Is it all you dreamed it would be, Rebecca?"

Rex: You got any treats?
Me: Dad, you just had six cookies!
Rex: That was hours ago! [More like 15 minutes]

Me: You don't want to die, dad. There aren't any treats in the spirit world.
Rex: Hmm. Better not go, then.

Rex offers an explanation as to why I'm not married yet: "Maybe you need to change your toothpaste."

Rex: You think I'm going to die?
Me: One day. Probably not today, though.
Rex: Hmm... [thinks for a minute] Can we go out to lunch, then?

"Do you think Heavenly Father will slam me in the clink?"

Rex: Can I have an ice cream cone?
Me: You just had some cookies!
Rex: Yeah, and now I want an ice cream cone!

Rex: Take a look at my hands. See what's wrong with them.
Me: Dad, there's nothing wrong with your hands.
Rex: How about my mouth?
Me: Dad, your mouth is fine.
Rex: How about puttin' some food in it?

Rex: Do we have any more cookies?
Me: No, that was the last one.
Rex: Do we have anything that looks like a cookie?

Rex: We got any treats?
Me: Sorry, Rex.
Rex: I feel like Joseph Smith--like I'm being persecuted.

Rex: You wouldn't happen to have any more cookies, would you?
Me: Nope.
Rex: A lack of planning, I guess.

Rex: Do we have any cookies?
Me: No cookies, Rex, but here's a granola bar.
Rex: This might have very well saved my life.

Rex: We got any treats?
Me: Yeah, but I have to stick you with a needle [insulin] first.
Rex: Ow! That's not a treat!

Ahh... the man is funny. Whenever I feel the urge to choke him to death, I just read a few of these and it goes away. Can't wait to see what jokes tomorrow will bring!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Very Vegas Wedding

Dang! Four posts in one month? Am I a blogging machine or what? Unfortunately, it's probably all going to come to a screeching halt after this one because I've run out of outings to recap.

Last month I took a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas to attend my very dear friend Amy's wedding. She and I were roommates throughout our college years at BYU, and she lived with me in Boston for a year as well. Amy is my homegirl. We have logged many miles together through the years, and there was NO WAY I was going to miss her wedding. After making arrangements with my family to take care of my dad, I booked a quickie flight to the Silver State for the nuptials.

I got into Vegas pretty late on Friday, April 5th. One of Amy's brothers had hotel connections, so he arranged for the entire wedding party to stay at the same place. It was lovely--a huge bathroom, a full kitchen, and my own private smoking patio with a door that had a very complicated locking mechanism that appeared to be broken. This was a problem for me, seeing as how my room was on the ground floor. Amy and I tried to figure out the lock for about ten minutes, but then gave up and called the front desk. Two minutes later, a nice young maintenance man named Hector showed up at my door. Hector gave it his best shot, but eventually admitted defeat. He called the front desk to tell them of my predicament, but they said there was nothing they could do about it because the hotel was totally booked.

Great. I've got a hotel room on the ground floor with a broken patio door. I'm a poor, defenseless, devastatingly beautiful single girl staying all by myself, and Hector knows it. My mind starts running through worst case scenarios: Amy, annoyed that I haven't answered her calls and haven't shown up at her room to do her makeup, has someone at the front desk open my door where they finally discover my murdered body lying on the bathroom floor. Fortunately, during my last few seconds of life I had managed to scrawl out a message in my own blood: IT WAS HE C T O r...

I had to do something, but what? Frantically, I scanned the room looking for ideas. I began shoving furniture up against the patio door. Then I pulled out all of the glassware from the kitchen cabinets and balanced them precariously onto the furniture so that if anyone opened the door they would come crashing down, thereby alerting me to an intruder's presence. I also balanced a heavy artsy piece on the edge of the table for additional alarming potential. When I was done, it looked like this:

Boody trapped!

I still slept with one eye open, though. It wasn't my most peaceful night's sleep, that's for sure.

The next morning Amy and Paul went to get their marriage license, so the rest of us were free to spend the morning however we wanted. I'll bet you can guess how I spent MY morning:

BOOM! A two-stamper! Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam were a convenient half-hour drive from our hotel.

Sara "Bowman" Gardner, if you're still reading this blog, I apologize for not arranging a rendezvous while I was there. The pull of the NP passport stamp was just too strong. One day soon I will clasp you in my loving arms and you will have no choice but to forgive me.

After the stampin' frenzy, it was wedding time! I helped Amy put on her makeup, which was done hastily but still turned out pretty darned good. I love a girl who's not afraid of bold red lipstick! And fake eyelashes! If I ever get to have a wedding day, I'll be rocking both as well.

They got married in the Little Church of the West, which--although I never got to verify this--appears to be made of gingerbread. It was just so cute and so little! This church is the oldest building on The Strip, and boasts some high profile weddings: Angelina and Billy Bob, Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford, Elvis and Ann Margret in "Viva Las Vegas"... and now Amy Parkin and Paul Mulder!

What a good looking couple. Again, Amy is stealing my wedding ideas: I love a tea-length wedding dress! I will be rocking some ridiculous heels when my day comes, though. And there will be glitter. Lots and lots of glitter.

The wedding ceremony was short and sweet--just what you would expect from a wedding chapel that has a 15-minute turnaround time. I figure that's probably a good thing, though, because who wants to sit on folding chairs (or in our case, a wooden bench) for any longer than that? Wrap it up, preacher. That wedding cake ain't gonna eat itself.

After the ceremony, we toured the Neon Museum, which is a very hip and funky museum where all of the famous old neon signs from The Strip go to die. The lady with the awesome Australian accent who led the tour was very knowledgeable and told us all about the history of The Strip, which was FASCINATING. If you ever find yourself in the Vegas area, don't miss the Neon Museum! It was excellent. In addition to just giving tours, the museum also restores some of the old neon signs and put them back out onto the streets.

After the Neon Museum, we went to a tasty little restaurant for dinner, but I had to duck out early so that I could catch my flight back home. It was the quickest trip ever, but it was action-packed and so, so much fun! You always want to see your friends happy, and I've never seen Amy happier. Paul couldn't be more perfect for her if she had designed him herself, Weird Science-style. I love the guy. He is a wonderful addition to our circle of friends. Congrats you two crazy lovebirds!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This Post Ends On A Happy Note, I Promise

My mother passed away on Christmas Day 2008. I didn’t feel particularly festive on that day, but subsequent Christmases have been jolly and surprisingly free of any twinges of sadness over her death. I feel fine on her birthday, too. It’s really no different from any other day. Mother’s Day, on the other hand, is tough. Today is the day I feel her absence most keenly.  I wish I could buy her flowers and take her out to brunch like everyone else is doing for their mothers. I wish I could give her a hug and tell her how much I love her.

I had to play the organ at church this morning and I had to bathe my dad, so I needed to get up a little earlier than usual. I hate having to wake my dad up when he’s in a deep sleep. Sometimes he wakes up alert and ready to go. Other times he wakes up extremely groggy, like he’s waking up from surgery or something. When that happens, it’s best to just let him sleep. It’s dangerous for him to walk in that condition. He’s very wobbly and can barely pick up his feet. Today he woke up groggy, and so I knew church was out for him. I let him sleep until it was time for me to leave, and then I woke him up just to tell him that I was going to play the organ at church and then I’d be right back. He nodded, and then told me he needed to go to the bathroom. I helped him sit up and--I'll try to spare you the graphic details--discovered that it was too late for a trip to the bathroom. I tried to clean him up as quickly as I could. He was still half asleep and I don’t think he had any idea what had happened. He didn’t seem to notice me cleaning him with the cold wet wipes.

Church was awful. I barely arrived in time. Flustered, I sat down at the organ and bumbled my way through a hymn I had practiced earlier and felt comfortable with. The morning chaos had thrown me off my game. When it came time to play the Sacrament hymn, my fingers weren’t where I thought they were on the keyboard, and the first chord I played was just awful. I quickly corrected the placement of my fingers and played the rest of the hymn perfectly, but the sound of that first chord still rang in my ears. It was terrible. The next time you are near an organ, take off your shoes, put them on your hands, and press them anywhere you like on the keyboard. That’s what I sounded like this morning.

The high council speaker’s talk on mothers drove me crazy. It was the typical hagiographical mumbo jumbo that we all have come to expect on Mother’s Day.  He told a story from his childhood about coming home from school to find three loaves of freshly baked bread sitting on the kitchen table. After helping himself to all three loaves (I guess they were small loaves?), he learned that the bread was intended for a church function and not for the family. He said that his mother was not angry with him—she cheerfully whipped up another batch and all was well. I couldn’t conceal the look of disgust on my face. Oh really? She was totally cool with it? She just whistled a happy tune when she discovered that her FOUR-HOUR PROJECT had gone down the crapper? Your mom was PISSED, dude.  She probably excused herself and went into the next room to ask God for the strength not to murder you.

I wasn’t feeling very celestial today, as you can see. It was only 9:30 in the morning and the day was already shot to hell. And then that dreaded moment came, the moment when all of the women, mothers and barren spinsters alike, had to stand while the young men passed out chocolates and a letter from the bishopric. Now, I understand that holidays like these are tricky in the Church. We want to be inclusive. We don’t want anybody to feel left out and unappreciated, and I love my bishopric for that. It’s sweet of them. I know there are lots of single women out there who really enjoy being honored in that way. I am just not one of those women. I always feel super conspicuous. (“One of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not belong…”) Don’t get me wrong—I took the chocolate. I’m not an idiot. And considering that there is virtually nothing that a young mother does to care for a baby that I don’t also do for my elderly father, I felt totally justified. But still, it’s awkward and it feels condescending, although I KNOW that it’s not intended to be. I know that it is done in a spirit of gratitude for all of the “mothering” that we spinsters do to other people’s kids. I get it. But it still bugs me.

I came home annoyed about my disastrous organ performance and annoyed that I was annoyed with a bunch of wonderful people who just wanted me—and all women—to feel loved and appreciated. My dad was lying in bed, fully awake by now, but resting quietly waiting for me to help him get up. I gathered up my dad’s bedding and threw it into the washing machine. I gave him a bath, helped him get dressed, and then guided him to the kitchen table for breakfast. “You want some coffee?” I asked, which is what my dad calls hot chocolate. “Yes. I’d really like some,” he replied, and then he added, “You’re a good girl, Randi.”

The words were my father’s, but I swear to you, I felt my mother’s arms around me as I stood there in the kitchen, stirring boiling water—and probably more than a few tears—into my dad’s coffee. The dark cloud that had been following me around all morning lifted. I didn't give a rip about the organ debacle, and I no longer wanted to strangle the high councilman. And I realized that the best gift I could give my mother on Mother’s Day was the gift I had been giving for the last several years. I’m sure that me taking care of her husband when she can’t means more to my mom than any silly old brunch or bouquet of flowers. I can’t prove it, but I know that she was close by me today. I felt her love for me as strongly as I ever felt it when she was alive. And if you can read blogs where you are, Mom, your message came through loud and clear. I hope you know how much I love you, too.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tulip Festival (And More National Parks Passport Opportunities!)

Every year the town of Mt. Vernon, WA (clever, I know!) hosts the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival where the two local tulip titans, Roozengaarde and Tulip Town, try to out-flower each other. Last year my friend Melenie and I checked out Roozengaarde. The tulip fields were only in partial bloom:

But the daffodils were going strong:

Another thing Roozengaarde had going for it was a pretty spectacular tulip garden, with signs that told you what variety of tulip you were looking at, in case you wanted to make a purchase:

It was lovely. I thought that Rex would love it, too, because he used to be a pretty good gardener back in the day. When I was growing up, our lawn was always the nicest one on the block and we always had tons of beautiful flowers and interesting plants in the front yard. We used to have a really fabulous garden in our back yard, too, with corn, rhubarb, potatoes, carrots, green beans, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, etc. It's a good thing my dad can't walk around freely anymore, so he doesn't know that the garden now looks like this:

Tragic. I don't understand how such a hardworking dad could have such lazy kids. We still have the rhubarb plant, though. That thing will never die.

Anyway, Rex and I hopped in the car and headed up to the tulip festival--and to Whidbey Island to get a stamp in my national parks passport! This time we went to Tulip Town. It was the last week of the festival, and everything was in full bloom:

The pictures do not do it justice. It was breathtaking. Tulip Town wins the battle of the fields, but I wish I could have seen Roozengaarde later in the season. I'm sure it would have been just as gorgeous. Plus, they had the awesome tulip garden. And funnel cakes. Winner: Roozengaarde!

After the tulips, we drove over to Whidbey Island. My parents used to live on Whidbey in the 50s when my dad was in the Navy. All of my brothers and sisters were born there except for me; I was born in Seattle. My parents loved living there. They talked about it all the time. I think it was their Boston.

You can get to Whidbey Island via ferry or via Deception Pass Bridge. After a 10 minute argument with my dad about how we would not be taking the ferry since we were only 15 minutes from the bridge, we I opted for the bridge route:

Again, I ask you: isn't Washington beautiful?

It was astounding to me that the closer we got to Whidbey Island, the more lucid my dad's mind became. Usually when we drive around Kent, he asks me every two minutes where we are. We'll leave our house, turn onto the main road, and he'll ask me what town we're in. ("Umm, still in Kent, Rex!") But up there, he would say things like, "Once we go around this corner, there will be a lake on the right hand side." Sure enough. "At the second light, turn left onto Cornet Bay Rd." "There's an oil refinery about a mile up the road. I used to work there when I got out of the Navy." Right on all counts.  Simply amazing.

We drove over to a place called Ebey's Landing, which for some reason is a National Historical Reserve:

It's supposedly a big deal because this patch of the island has been continuously farmed since Isaac Ebey moved here in 1850. Seven years later he was decapitated by a group of Indians who were looking to avenge the death of their chief and 27 other members of their tribe who had perished in the battle of Ft. Gamble. This was a bummer for Ebey, because he wasn't even at the battle of Ft. Gamble, but he was a prominent white dude and I guess that was good enough.

No offense, National Park Service, but this site was kinda lame. Historic farmland? Whoop-dee-do. It's so lame, in fact, that it doesn't even have a visitor center. What self-respecting national historical reserve doesn't have a visitor center? I had to drive into the (adorable!) town of Coupeville and stop at the Island County Historical Society to get the stamp. There was a cute little old man--at least 100 years old--behind the counter. I was just going to stamp and run, but I took one look at that leathery old mug and the next thing I know, I'm handing over $3 to tour the museum. I tried to be as quick as possible, because Rex was waiting for me in the car.

The museum housed some interesting items, including the first car on Whidbey Island, a 1902 Holsman:

That's right. That is a car. Weird. But not as weird as this piano with a picture of the 1923 Seattle Ku Klux Klan on top:

"Hey, Stanley! Where do you want me to put this picture of the Klan?"
"I think it would look nice on top of the old piano, don't you? Move the bust of Mozart if you have to!"

What the... ?

After the museum, we stopped by to visit some old friends, the Quintons:

My dad used to be branch president (like a pastor, for any non-Mormons who might be reading this) on Whidbey, and Brother Quinton was his 1st counselor. They had a very sweet reunion, and I feel bad that I grumbled a bit when my dad asked me to look them up. Not cool, I know.

All in all, it was a lovely trip with my dad. He enjoyed the tulips, and I think he was pretty excited to visit Whidbey Island again. When we got home he told my sister, "It was a really nice trip--with the exception of a couple flare-ups."


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

America's Best Idea

I have a very addictive personality. It's a good thing I'm Mormon, because it limits my potential vices. The naughtiest thing we Mormons allow ourselves is sugar, but I really wish we would add it to the list of illicit substances because I think it would be so much easier to resist the stuff if I had a religious imperative to abstain. Anyway, we can now add the national parks to my list of socially acceptable, yet completely out-of-control obsessions.

If we have spoken within the last two years, I've probably talked your ear off about my national parks passport, and I also might have chided you for not having one yourself on all of the trips you've taken to or through national parks. Sorry about that. I'm trying not to be so pushy and judgmental. (But really, go get a passport already. What's wrong with you people? Why do you hate America?)

I bought my passport when I visited Chicago with my friends Carrie, C Nash (real name: Cari), and Shanon in 2009. Shanon has been a national parks freak for many years, and he always scouts out the national parks situation before any trip he takes. Unfortunately, he doesn't always scout out the directions to said parks, which is how we ended up here:

instead of here:

The Indiana Sand Dunes, in case you were wondering. It's a long story that is still steeped in controversy to this day.

We drove down to Springfield to visit Abraham Lincoln's home and pick up three stamps:

It's always exhilarating when one site yields multiple stamps! We picked the right year to go to Illinois, it being the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth and all. I guess we really should have gone to Kentucky since that's where he was born, but hey--it's a cool stamp and I'll take it. As for the Underground Railroad stamp, one house in Lincoln's 'hood was a stop on the UR, which turned out to be convenient for both me and fugitive slaves. (Did I just cross a line?)

Aaaanyway, that's how this whole obsession started and it's still going strong. I only regret not starting sooner, because now I have to revisit all of the national parks I've already been to in order to get a stamp. Right now I'm focused on wrapping up the parks in Washington state. I need to get Mt. Rainier NP, which is practically in my back yard, but I want to go in the summertime when the wildflowers are in bloom and it looks like this:

Isn't Washington beautiful??? That's an active volcano, by the way. Yikes! Don't forget your running shoes when you come visit!

Every time I get a stamp in the ol' passport I have to text a picture of it to Shanon, even if he already has the stamp himself. He's a good cheerleader and an expert stamper. He has tried to show me the ropes, but I'm a slow learner, as you can tell by the following stamping faux pas:

1) Forgot to bring my passport, so I had to stamp a random piece of paper and glue it in later.

2) Stamped off the damn page.

3) Took up too much space and now I can't fit any other stamps on the page.

4) Didn't check to make sure the date was right before I stamped.

That last one really burns my biscuits. Rookie mistake.

So yeah. Suffice it to say, I love the national parks. Too bad so many of them involve hiking, because I do not love wheezing and sweating and getting dirty. I would like to be a hiker, though. I like the idea of it; I just hate the reality of it. If only I could get a helicopter to drop me off at the summit... I could meet the rest of you there with juice and sandwiches... 

And now I leave you with a thought from the great American writer Wallace Stegner:
"Ever since I was old enough to be cynical, I have been visiting national parks, and they are a cure for cynicism, an exhilarating rest from the competitive avarice we call the American Way... National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst."
No get out there and get to stampin'!