Friday, February 10, 2017


Years ago I made friends with a woman whose son was in my son's grade school class.  Her son is disabled (cerebreal palsy).  Over the years, she and I, and even the son, became friends and had a lot of contact.  She went through a difficult divorce (I guess they are all difficult.), and I was a listening ear when times got tough.  She was a very different person from me, but we had a sort of spiritual connection.  I know this might sound weird, but I swear that months and months would go by without our talking,  then suddenly I would find myself thinking about her, and within a few days she would call me.  This happened over and over, even when she moved far away.  Her lifestyle was very different from mine.  She was a recovering alcoholic, I am an LDS non-drinker.  She lived with her boyfriend before marrying him.  I believe that one should be married to live with and have sex with a man.  She swears like a sailor, I abhor swearing.  I'm not saying all of this to say that I am superior, only to show how different we were.  Through it all, I remained supportive, and never once criticized or berrated her for her life choices.  I never told her how much I loathe swearing, or smoking.  I wanted to be a good friend, and allow her the freedom to live her life as she saw fit.  After I moved to China, we stopped talking on the phone.  (For obvious reasons). Even after I moved back to the States we never talked because we didn't have contact numbers anymore.  But eventually, to my surprise, we connected on Facebook.

After becoming Facebook friends, I noticed she posted many liberal memes.  I try not to post many political things, although I do "like" many political posts.  I did post something that she disagreed with.  Next thing I knew, she had unfriended me.  I was quite surprised because I thought we were close friends.  After a couple of months, I got another friend request from her.  I won't lie, I considered not accepting it.  I was still stinging from her unfriending, but mainly I had lost trust in her.  But I decided that I need to be tolerant and forgiving, so I accepted.

At first things were fine, although I remained guarded.  Then I noticed her posting highly offensive things.  I'm not just talking about anti-conservative things, these were sometimes explicit, and more often than not were founded on false news or half truths.  I wanted to preserve the friendship, so I just unfollowed her so that I wouldn't have to see the swearing and offensive falsehoods.  That seemed to work, and I felt things were going okay.

One day, out of the blue, she posted an offensive meme on my wall.  Then in the comment section, she posted some sort of explicit memes, and wrote things that I found distasteful and inappropriate.  I didn't want my friends exposed to them so I deleted the post.  She came back and posted in the comment section of a non-political post.  Once again, she posted very offensive things, and swore at me, and berrated my religion.  Somehow she tied my religion to my politics.  I deleted the explicit comments and replied that I felt we should keep politics out of our friendship.  She hurled more attacks at me, then unfriended me.

You might be tempted to say, "Well, she wasn't a good friend, was she?"  Well, she was initially.  To me, this is more about the current trend of anger and hate coming from the left.  They cry "tolerance and love", then turn around and spew intolerance and hate.  Never in my life have I seen a group so filled with hatred.  For those of you who are liberal, know that I don't paint you all with the same brush.  But there is a core majority that are raging.  It's the pure definition of inhumanity in my opinion.  The love of man has waxed cold.  If the left was truly tolerant, we would not be seeing rioting, or beatings of conservatives.  I can understand disagreeing about politics, but throwing away a friendship over it is shameful.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Making Christmas

I was remembering today the first Christmas I experienced in China.  We moved to Beijing in 1993.  At that time in China, Christmas wasn't really popular, so there weren't any decorations or Christmas music in public.  Now days you can find some decorations here and there.  But back then, it really was a foreign holiday, so it was hard to get in the Christmas spirit.  We had to work hard to make Christmas in our own home.

We lived in the "City Hotel", and at that time there was a florist shop just down the street.  Flowers were so inexpensive that I used to get a bouquet for my table almost every week.  I could have a beautiful bouquet of roses and other flowers for about $5 U.S.  One day when I went to get my weekly arrangement,  I happened to notice an artificial Christmas tree sitting in the middle of the room.  I quickly asked them how much it cost.  They told me that it would be about $15 U.S.  I told them I wanted to buy it.  I was so excited!  It was the only Christmas tree I had seen!

There was also a store not far away called "The Lufthansa Center".  Unlike most other stores in our neighborhood, it had souvenirs for sale.  One day while I was there, I happened to find Christmas ornaments for sale!  In China at that time, there were very rarely any Christian related products, but these ornaments had many!  There were embroidered angels, Mary and Jesus, Wise men etc.  I bought a whole bunch of them to use to decorate our tree.  I felt so lucky to have found them!

There was also a place near our hotel that focused on selling to foreigners.  I often went there to see what they had.  I was able to find embroidered Christmas stockings, tablecloths, and even a quilt.  I don't know if I can properly communicate how rare it was to find any Christmas decorations at all, and here I had hit the jackpot!

One thing that I have always tried to buy when I travel to other countries is a nativity.  I collect nativities, and decided it would be neat to get them from all over the world.  But at that time in China, I could not find one anywhere.  The embroidered ornaments would have to count.  But then one day my church visiting teacher came and brought me one of those Scandinavian Christmas candles.  It has different tiers with nativity figures on them, and a kind of windmill on top.  Candles are placed all around, and the heat causes the windmill to spin, which makes the nativity figures go round.  That is the only real nativity I brought home from China.

That was a great Christmas for us.  I don't think our presents were necessarily great, but we enjoyed having Christmas in our own home.   I still have most of those decorations now.  I brought them home and use them every year.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Tipping Point

The term "tipping point" has been going through my mind a lot this week.  Basically, I think there comes a time when you physically reach a tipping point, and things can go down hill very fast.  This last week I hurt my lower back.  Through this whole process of trying to heal it, I have learned that I let my health slide by for too long, and ended up getting hurt because of it.  I reached my tipping point.

I was in so much pain that I decided to go to the doctor.  He took an X-ray and told me that there isn't any kind of break or other damage.  But he did point out that I have some beginning arthritis.  He also pointed out some calcium deposits.  He sent me to a physical therapist.  I have to say that the therapy has been awesome!  It has really helped.  I wish I could have gone to them over the weekend when the pain was the worst.  I feel like I'm 90% healed now.  But what got me to this point?

The therapist also looked at the X-rays.  He said that I had a type of tendonitis, when the tendon in the back of the hip hardens.  I asked what could cause that.  He said either over use, or under use.  I assured him it was the latter.  While we were living in China, I just didn't get much activity.  The pollution was so bad that I didn't want to exercise outside.  I tried to do some indoor exercise, but honestly, that was really boring and just wasn't something that I enjoyed doing.  I did walk some, and did bike some, but not enough.  In combination with inactivity, I also started gaining weight.  That added to the tipping point.  See, when you gain weight and are inactive, then you get to a point where it's very difficult to exercise.  Because of my weight, my feet are bad.  Because of my inactivity, my muscles are weak and can't endure strenuous exercise.  The past two years I have had my mother living with me, and it has kind of tied me down.  But now I've had a wake up call and have decided that I have to take the time to get myself back over the other side of the tipping point and get stronger.

I have a neighbor who is kind of in the same position as me.  She has let her health go to far downhill.  She told me that what she really wanted to do was go to the recreation center and walk in the water.  I told her I would go with her!  But whenever I ask her what day she wants to go, she makes excuses for why she can't.  But this recent back problem convinced me I can't wait for anyone else, I need to get started now.   Thankfully, my son agreed to come with me the first time.  He has been quite inactive recently too, and I think was a little shocked at how out of shape he is.  But he has been a nice exercise companion.  I walk, and occasionally swim in the water.  He swims more than I do but occasionally walks with me.  Tonight we went for our second time.  They also have a hot tub, and that has helped my back too.

You know what I really like about this so far?  First of all, the pools are a good temperature, so it's not cold, even though outside winter is coming.  But after walking and swimming around for 45 minutes or so, my muscles feel so good!  And I have enjoyed spending the time with my son.  I'm going to keep this up because I have to.  I can't let myself go head long downhill again.  I have to check myself now, or I am going to be an invalid as an old person.  I can't wait until I get to the healthy, strong tipping point; the point where I begin to really get in good shape!

Monday, June 06, 2016


Life has been a little rough lately.  Living in "Dementiaville" can be taxing.  Not only did my mother have a brain bleed back in February, but her dementia has greatly increased since then.  I think she might have had another small brain bleed a month or so ago.  Some days I listen to her say the same things 20 times.  Right now her preoccupation is 1) with going home, even if she has to walk the 250 miles to get there, and 2) wondering where her husband is.  No matter how many times I tell her that he died 3 years ago, she can't remember.  She is also obsessed with calling her parents to come get her.  If they were alive today, they would be about 110-115 years old. She is always surprised when
I tell her they died some 30+ years ago.

I have to admit that I often feel burnout.  Her reasoning ability is completely gone.  She can't follow even simple directions.  For example, her cane might be leaning against the wall, and I will say, "Grab your cane so we can go."  She reaches for her coat, "This?"  This exercise usually continues with her reaching for every other item nearby until I come close and point to her cane.

Today I had a flasback to an MRI I had once.  They strapped me in so that I couldn't move my arms.  As I entered the tube like machine, I started to feel a little claustrophobic.  I had to take my mind to a different place.  I had to do two passes that lasted 15 minutes each.  There was nothing I could do but wait it out, and try to think about something else.  Sometimes that's how I feel now.  I feel like I just have to grit my teeth and bear the dementia craziness until things change.  I can try to find distractions for my mind, but I just have to live through it.  And sometimes I remind myself that eventually it will get much worse as things progress.  But like the MRI, I just have to tough it out.

I know it's my mother, but in some ways it's not.  Sometimes I feel more like the parent.  In some ways her personality is still there, but in many ways this is a very different person.  So it's not really like I can enjoy being with my Mom.  This is the scrambled eggs version of her.

So for now I will just try to take my mind to another place the twenty fifth time she asks me how far it is to her home, or scurries over to wash my dishes by rubbing them in her hands under cold water, or puts away the clean dishes in places I would never imagine.  I will continue to make sure her hair gets washed when she showers, and that she brushes her teeth. (After I find where she tucked away her toothbrush). I will make sure she doesn't put back on her dirty clothes after she showers, and I will try to make sure she doesn't fill her cereal bowl with cornchips she finds in a bag on on the counter.  I hope that somehow I'm building Karma, because I will probably follow in her footsteps.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Lessons in Humanity

I was at DI (church thrift store) and found myself in an aisle with a strange looking man.  He looked like someone who had lost several hundred pounds.  His legs and feet were still quite large, but the rest of him looked like he had lost weight after being morbidly obese.  He was wearing a knitted cap, and looked disheveled.  As I got nearer to him, I noticed a very strong odor coming from him.  It was over powering!  I tried to lag behind him aways so that I would be out of reach of the stench, but even 4 or 5 feet away was not enough.  I finally had to leave the aisle and go elsewhere.

After I left the aisle, I told my mother that I couldn't stand the smell.   But then  I felt bad for this man, and felt bad for turning away from him.   I decided that I was going to try to find a way to reach out to him in some small way.  While my brother and his wife were checking out, I went to put my cart back and noticed that man sitting on a bench at the front of the store.  I think he was resting.  He had seemed to have trouble walking.  I looked at him and smiled and said something about how sometimes we need a rest.  He just looked at me and smiled.  I wonder if anyone else had even spoken to him that day.

Don't think that I feel magnanimous because of this.  I feel bad that I let the physical things get in the way of seeing this man as a child of God.  I am used to working with those who are mentally disabled, but I haven't really had much contact with the homeless; which I think he was.  I feel like this man helped me to learn a lesson that day.  I hope I can remember him next time I'm in a similar situation.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Low Sodium Diet

I have to have a test done on my thyroid next week.  It will be using a radioactive ultrasound.  It's pretty routine.  But the hard part about this test is that I have to be on a low sodium diet until after the test.  I never realized before how much sodium is in every food!  I decided to write this post so that I can share some tips with others who might have to do this diet.

So the diet prohibits:
--milk products
--red dye
--egg yolks
--soy beans, soy products

Once I started looking around at labels, I found that almost everything has sodium in it!  It has been really hard to figure out what to eat.  Here are some things I've had success with so far.

Every loaf of bread I looked at in the store had 120g of sodium in each slice.  Bagels are almost double that.  I did find that corn tortillas have only 10g per tortilla, but my diet says it should be below 5g.  But the first day, when I had nothing else to eat, I did eat two corn tortillas.
The diet mentioned that homemade bread and muffins are okay.  I made 3 large loaves of bread and put in only 1/2 tablespoon for the entire batch.  So now I have something to eat!

I love milk!  Going without milk has been difficult.  I thought I would buy almond or rice milk, but they all have about 60g of sodium per serving.  Finally I found a coconut milk that doesn't have any sodium.  It's a little chunky, but it satisfies my craving for cow's milk.

I don't think there is such a thing as a non-sodium salt substitute.  But I read online that red wine vinegar only has 1g per tablespoon.  I've been using red wine vinegar instead of salt on meats, salads etc.
Here are some foods that I have had success with:
--Oatmeal (old fashioned). I put in some cinnamon and banana
--salad with a dressing made from red wine vinegar and olive oil
--chicken sauteed with a sauce made of red wine vinegar, olive oil, basil, and honey.  I also put a little bit of the sauce on the potato wedges I boiled.  That tasted pretty good.
--Green beans with garlic, no salt.
--Tonight I made Chinese food for the family.  I ate some of the rice, but cooked my vegetables and meat separate with some vinegar and honey.

I went to the whole foods market here and got some unsalted snacks.
---unsalted sunflower seeds
--unsalted pumpkin seeds
--unsweetened dried banana chips
--unsalted almonds

So far I am getting enough to eat, and it tastes pretty good.  I bought some peanut butter without salt. It really lacks something without the salt, but if I put a little honey on top it tastes good.

I decided that I really just have to make myself a different meal from what I feed my family.  If I plan it just right, I can use most of the same ingredients, just season it differently.

My one hope is that with this diet I might actually lose a little weight!  That being said, I'm already thinking about what I want to eat once I can eat salt again.  :)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Busy Week

Our Chinese exchange students left this week.   They were here 11 days.  They were very nice boys, and we only had two problems with them.  First of all, the dog would not stop barking at them!  I finally told them that the dog is like a mirror.  Whatever they project to him, he will give back to them.  So then they started to relax and talk to him.  He stopped barking.  But it took 4 days for that to happen!  One morning, one of the boys went to the bathroom and the dog started barking at him.  (And remember my dog is part mastiff, and weighs 125 pounds!). When the boy left the bathroom he RAN up stairs!  The dog chased him, barking all the way!  We had to start locking the dog in the bedroom when they were home.  I was sure relieved when they all worked things out.

The second problem was that there were two chinese girls staying with a family nearby.  Sometimes they would come to our house, and then the four of them would get in an argument and the girls would pout, and the boys looked shell shocked.  I'm sure glad I had two boys instead of 2 moody girls!

One thing we did while they were here was go bowling.  They had never bowled before, but ended up doing really well.  My husband also took them shooting one day.  The truck got stuck in the snow and they had to work for about an hour to get it out.  But all in all they enjoyed the day.  The night before they left, we had hot pot here at our house and invited the girls to come too.  It was the end of Chinese new year, and these kids are only about 13.  It's hard for them to be away during the most important holiday of the year!  So I think it helped to have hot pot here.  The boys decided to make dumplings for us.  They were SO SLOW!  I finally told them I would help and I grabbed the cleaver and quickly chopped up the vegetables.  They thought I was amazing.  Lol

My mother finished up her physical therapy and occupational therapy this week.  We still have speech therapy coming, and a nurse that comes to help her with showers.  I will miss the nurse most of all when they stop coming.  But I'm glad that my Mom is physically doing better.  Her brain is still a little scrambled though.  This morning she couldn't find her brush.  I told her it was in the drawer.  When she came back out, her hair did look brushed.  She said she had used a little one.  It wasn't until later that I realized it was probably her tooth brush.....  She is obsessed with the thought of going home.  She wants more than anything else to go to her own house.  I keep telling her that she can't live there alone, that she needs someone to take care of her.  But her dementia makes it hard for her to understand reason.  Any time someone comes to our house, she tries to figure out a way to get them to take her home.  I don't know if this will ever change.  And I know that even if she had someone to live with her in her home, she probably still wouldn't be happy.  I told her that she needs to learn to be happy in the now, and appreciate the life she has instead of always wanting something else.  But the dementia rules in these discussions.  Her life can never be what it was.  I guess it does bother me to hear her talk like that because I involve her in what I'm doing, and I take her places.  She doesn't seem to recognize all I do to try to help her keep busy and be happy.  And when I talk to her about it, she just says she wants to die.  I keep thinking about one of the ten commandments that says that we should honor our father and our mother that our days may be long upon the earth.  I'm not sure that living long is always something to look forward to.

We are really enjoying volunteering at the MTC.  It's amazing how quickly these missionaries learn.  We only see them a few times before they graduate to teaching people through SKYPE.  But it's amazing in those few weeks how quickly they improve.

I wrote before about my chinese friend that I was reunited with.  We had her and her family over for hot pot last night.  It was great to visit with them and reminisce about old times.  We definitely need to get together again soon.