Monthly Archives: January 2015

To Missy

I lost a dear friend this week…not because of a difference of opinion, not because time and distance edged us apart, not because we simply became too busy to interact. I lost a friend to cancer and death.

While I knew she had been sick, I had no idea how serious it was. You see, she lived in another state and wasn’t the kind of person to be complaining on Facebook, the phone, or through letters about her illness.

I should have called her over Christmas. I thought about it, just got busy with life and didn’t get around to it and now it’s too late. However, this isn’t one of those blogs about regrets or shouldves, wouldves, couldves.

It’s about friendship.

We met back in college when I was a shy, insecure freshman and she a self-assured, popular sophomore who didn’t have trouble including me among her friends. Even though we’ve lived states apart, we’ve stayed in touch. When my family was on furlough from overseas, and she was driving cross-country to see family, she stopped over. It was hoot the two of us, all of our eight kids and my husband at McDonalds, looking for all the world like a good Mormon family. (All the kids were blonde haired and blue eyed.) Our firstborn sons had the same first name and were only two weeks apart. When we were in her part of the world, she opened her home to us, took us sightseeing, spent time with our children.

Some would say we weren’t good friends because we didn’t talk that much on the phone, didn’t write often, seldom chatted on Facebook, etc. But she was the kind of friend that endures. Now matter how much time filled the gaps between touching base, we picked up right where we left off, no hesitation, no awkward silences, just the warmth and blessing of good friends who last a lifetime.

This week got me thinking about what makes a good friend and how expectations and obligations of culture can diminish or extinguish the light of friendship. If friendship is based on remembering birthdays and anniversaries, letter writing and phone calling, we are limited to only a certain personality type. If friendship is based on girls’ nights out, pedicures and manicures and movies or meals, we are limited by location and locale. If friendship is based on knowing every single detail of the other’s life and habits, we miss out on surprise and spontaneity.

I choose to remember my friend, not for all the things we didn’t do together, but for the things we did, the rare times we spent in each other’s company, secure in the knowledge we loved each other and supported each other. Because those times were few and far between, they are like precious jewels, diamonds in the fabric of our friendship. The quality of friendship I desire for all my children to experience–the blessing of a sustaining friend.

I’ll miss you, but I will never forget you.




Sand in the Sheets

I don’t usually write about those little things that are so unimportant, yet completely annoying and irritating, mainly because they fall under the realm of things I can’t do anything about.

However, after a full day of teaching I had to drive 40 miles to the grocery store and endure garbage music while trying to figure out what I needed to buy for the week. Of course, it would have been easier if I’d had a shopping list, but the decision to grocery shop was last minute due to a change in the weather situation. I know not everyone shares my taste in music. But in public places, music should be either non-existent or soothing–something that is unobtrusive and background. Not jarring. Not screaming from the rafters and rattling the windows. Music in shops used to be there for the customers’ benefit, designed to keep them soothed, happy, and shopping. Today, however, most music in grocery stores or businesses is for the employees’ benefit, not the customers. Whichever manager or clerk happens to have access to the radio chooses the music and most times this means the musical selection is NOT designed to keep customers in the store shopping.

We have become a society that is addicted to noise. We dread silence or being alone and frantically seek to fill every single moment of our day with some form of cacophony. Want to cut back on shoplifting? Make sure the store music is classical, not rap. Teens will avoid any lengthy time is such stores and those bent on mayhem will be obvious as their state of nerves ramps up exponentially. Meanwhile, the adults will have a soothing environment in which to stay and shop and shop and shop meaning more profits for the store.

Another pet peeve is technology-related: specifically Netflix and the Internet. I can’t tell how many times some twenty-something college grad decides to “tweak” the interface and make life more difficult. Not every new innovation is appreciated, necessary, or efficient. Certainly having to scroll through several screens before being able to select a movie or trying to figure out where “My List” disappeared to or why it was renamed adds nothing to customer satisfaction. Cutesy falling snowflakes on Yahoo mail are nice…if I had been given the choice to turn it on or off. The constant distraction becomes annoying after awhile. I don’t mind technological advances, but changing something just because you can isn’t always the smartest move. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a good policy for most things most of the time.

Perhaps my greatest irritation is with folks who overcorrect their usage of “he and I/him and me.” I understand why the phenomenon occurred. As teachers we spent so much time telling kids, “my friend and I went to town” whenever they said, “my friend and me went to town,” that it became a habit. However, we neglected to explain WHY. So instead of saying, “The teacher gave the apple to my friend and me,” everyone auto-corrects to, “The teacher gave the apple to my friend and I.”

Even educated people make the same mistake and I wince every time I hear it. I want to run screaming in the streets and grab people by the arm and shout, “NO! I comes before the verb; use me after the verb!” I realize if I try that I’m going to be locked up in the looney bin, so I wince, autocorrect them in my mind and continue with my life.

Like I said earlier, pet peeves aren’t important issues. Nobody is going to die if they aren’t fixed, the world will continue, and life goes on without a hitch. But it is an interesting commentary on who we are as individuals to see what it is that really bugs us.

Geek Out

My husband and I are complete nerds. In fact, we were nerds/geeks long before it was fashionable to be nerds–complete with glasses and pocket protectors.

Back then our geekiness was expressed in watching science fiction shows in the midst of small town, rural America, shooting off model rockets and playing chess. Today our nerdiness has a more erudite flavor: spotting the old original Star Trek minor characters in old episodes of Gunsmoke.

While it’s easy to spot the Big Four–Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty–identifying Elaan of Troyius is not so easy. (She’s been in two episodes so far). Other notables include Kang, Stonn, Miri, Jahn (also from the episode Miri), Zarabeth, the Romulan Commander, and Sam Cogley, to name just a few.

Back in our younger days we used to play “Name that Star Trek episode” to see how quickly we could identify the episode. Now the game is “which character is that and which episode did he star in?”   Sometimes it’s the voice or the shape of the eyes that identifies the character. Sometimes we have to watch the whole Gunsmoke episode and look the person up on IMB only to smack our heads in disgust that we didn’t recognize the character.

You’ll notice I named the characters, not the actors. It’s a peculiar habit we have of identifying with the character rather than the actor. My mom’s generation talked about their favorite actors and could name all the different movies they starred in. For us, it’s less about the actor (most of whom we might not even like as people) and more about how the character impacted or influenced our opinion of the episode. So when we spot Lenard Nimoy in Gunsmoke, we don’t yell, “There’s Lenard Nimoy.” We yell, “Hey, there’s Spock again.”

Most folks may think there’s no correlation between Gunsmoke and Star Trek, but they’d be wrong. Both series are about individuals dealing with the complexities of life in a not-so-safe environment. The series both used good, solid storylines that focused on individuals rather than society. Yes, society might be bad, might have misguided or wrong values, but here’s how John Ordinary dealt with it and made a difference.

Good storytelling is good storytelling no matter what genre.

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