Thursday, January 31, 2008

crazy in the gardens

This past week has been very much up and down in the gardens. Lots of sh*t to deal with. Such is life. But yesterday I just lost it. I got home from work and started making dinner, chicken quesadillas with salsa and sour cream and refried beans, very yummy, if I do say so myself. Would have been much better if we hadn't all had several pumpkin chocolate chip cookies while we were waiting for the quesadillas to get done...

While I'm in the middle of buttering and grilling the tortillas, the phone rings. It's my mom calling to tell me that she saw the foot doctor about the surgery she had last week and he said he could tell from the swelling that she had been doing too much walking. Then she says luvya, bye and as soon as I hang up the phone, it rings again and it's mom telling me she'll be making 75 deviled eggs for the after-funeral meal at the church for my friend Shannon's family, because her mom, Anna, died on Sunday, just three hours before Gordon B. Hinckley died. *Imagine that, Anna could be in the choir of angels singing to welcome him into heaven, since she did have a lovely soprano voice. That would be plenty of time for her to rehearse. I agree that that sounds so nice for Anna.* I ask when and where the viewing and funeral will be and she says my dad hasn't seen the obituary in the paper yet and she hasn't had time to read it. I hang up again and not more than two minutes later, the phone rings again and *surprise* it's mom. Dad just didn't recognize Anna's picture. The obituary is in the paper. I say, "Okay, I'll check it online," since I am still trying to grill, not blacken the quesadillas. But then, my mom says, "Hmm, Anna Pearl Christensen Perry, born. . ." and she proceeds to read the entire obituary to me ON THE PHONE WHILE I'M TRYING TO COOK QUESADILLAS!!! I try to get her to stop by telling her that I'll look it up online after I finish cooking and eating dinner, but she can't stop herself until she READS THE WHOLE THING TO ME ON THE PHONE. So after she reads the part that says the service will be handled by Jenkins Soffe Mortuary *the best mortuary around, every other place uses too much makeup* we hang up again, and I swear, the phone rings as soon as I put it in the cradle. I look at Jack and screech, "I CAN'T TALK TO HER AGAIN RIGHT THIS MINUTE!!!" and he looks at me like, "Geez woman, pull yourself together."

I answer the phone AGAIN and answer in a less than friendly voice, "Hello?" And it's my daughter calling about what I don't know because it takes me three minutes into the conversation to calm down and behave rationally again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

one more chance

The thing we've noticed lately in the gardens is that plants go through a lot of stuff in their lives. They endure neglect and abuse and many times, survive, if given the appropriate treatment or care.

They begin their lives dependent on mother nature and/or a gardener to provide the soil, water, sunlight, and nutrients required for their survival, but they may experience extremes like drought, flood, sudden freezes, and intense storms. And don't even get me started on the effects of bugs and animals. Sometimes, plants survive and become stronger. Sometimes the effects of the drought or flood or storm are so severe that the plant dies.

Many years ago, we participated in a test planting of a new variety of tomato. The local county extension office wanted to obtain data about how this new variety of tomato would grow in our location. We dutifully planted the dozen or so healthy tomato plants provided to us--dug the holes, centered the plants and buried their roots, watered them in and applied fertilizer. They seemed happy in their new home. And then, during the night, one of those incredibly fierce early summer storms hit the gardens and the wind stripped every leaf off of those healthy plants, leaving tall green sticks where less than 12 hours before had stood healthy tomato plants, ready to grow and thrive and produce bushels of juicy, red tomatoes. What a tragic loss.

Another time we came home after a big wind storm to find a third of our massive globe willow tree laying on the ground, torn by the wind from its trunk. We debated about whether we should try to chain and bolt it back to the trunk or whether it would be best to save the remaining portion of the tree and remove the downed branches. In the end, we savagely severed the fallen part, leaving the once globe-shaped canopy of the tree looking like some tall Godzilla had chewed away a large part of it. Now, ten or so years later, when we drive by the old house, we can see that the tree has done its best to recover and is almost globe-shaped once again. Amazing.

The thing is, all plants endure trials in their lives. Sometimes they recover, sometimes they don't. But the accumulation of the trials will age the plant, eventually contributing to its demise.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

tag--you're it

The other day, my friend, Lisa, tagged me on her blog, indicating that I should make a list of three things that I love besides my husband, my children, or soda--Diet Coke in particular, since everybody loves their soda. I think the list of things I can't put on my list must also include my grandbabygirls because my love for them is simply, hello--a no-brainer.

Herewith is my list:

1. Chai tea. Several years ago, I was introduced to chai tea. After my first sip, I was hooked. This warm, sweet, spicy drink is always soothing and settles me physically and mentally. Recently I discovered iced chai. Who knew that I love iced chai as much as warm chai? Certainly not me. But again, one sip and I was hooked. Iced chai is a blessing in the heat of summer, a sweet, spicy, cold drink that isn't carbonated. What could be better?

2. Projects. I love projects. Projects require much listmaking (BONUS!!--I love listmaking, but that is as obvious as my grandbabygirl love)--which project first, cost of the project (always over budget in the end), materials required, step-by-step process (also typically inaccurate). I love to think about a project, prepare for the project, begin the project, rest from the project, restart the project, see progress on the project, make adjustments to the project, see more progress on the project, and finally, complete the project. Oh, and don't forget, all of the talking about the project--before, during, and after the project. It is all so very, very satisfying.

3. A cat to sleep with. As long as I can remember, I have loved to have a cat that would curl up to sleep with me. I love it when my cats nestle inside the bend of my knee, or snuggle up under my arm, or gently knead my belly before they circle into the nest they have made with the covers and my body. I love when I hear the purr of a kitty in my ear, find the warmth of its body against mine, or feel the flick of its tail or the rough surface of its tongue on my skin. There is something very comforting, very calming about a cat near to me when I'm ready to sleep. It's the quickest path to sweet dreams that I know.

And with that, I tag Jessie and Stu and wait anxiously to hear what you love! Remember no spouses, children or soda.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

a glorious Saturday afternoon in the garden

Yesterday afternoon in the garden we enjoyed several hours with our sweet little girls. Breanne and Audrey were both in the garden playing together, as best as a 22-month old and an 11-month old can play together. They enjoyed eating apples, reading books, doing puzzles, chasing the cats, and hanging out with gamama and boppa. Breanne continues to amaze with the avalanche of words she says and recognizes, and Audrey is delightful to watch as she begins taking her first steps--towards gamama and boppa. They are both bright, inquisitive, adorable, sweet little girls and we can hardly wait to meet the next wee girl in less than two months.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

breathtakingly peaceful

Last Saturday, Jack, Jack Jr and I took a drive to the middle of our mountain desert state to look at some recreational property that we wanted to buy. Unlike most people, we had made an offer that was accepted before we'd actually seen the property, although our offer was contingent upon an inspection of the property, so technically, we could have gotten out of the deal. But we (meaning I) knew as soon as the realtor sent us photos of the property that we would be purchasing the lot and building a cabin there. We knew from the photos that this was the place where we would build a cabin (and by build I mean literally build, with our own four hands--and the hands of our friends and our children and their friends). We knew it would be a retreat for us, our children, our grandchildren, and generations to come.

The realtor brought his 4-wheelers so we could drive down the public dirt road to our private road and then walk in to see the cabin site. Since the snow was three feet deep, he also brought snowshoes. Saturday was the first time I've ever been on a 4-wheeler, been on a 4-wheeler in the snow (hanging onto Jack's arms and back, since I was the rider and he was the driver), and it was the first time I've ever worn or walked in snowshoes. It was a perfect day, about 30 degrees, no wind, clear blue skies, and the snowshoes were a blast. Amazingly, just like on tv and in the movies, they do keep you almost on top of the snow. Who knew?

As we here in the gardens are nearly famous for our listmaking, we feel a list coming, entitled, "Why we are purchasing a lot on which to build a cabin."

1. The photo from the realtor
2. Photo of our private road with Jack Jr's footsteps following the tracks of a moose
3. Photo from the main road looking up towards our cabin site--we're the little tiny people in the middle of the picture
4. Photo of our land that surrounds our cabin site4. Close up photo taken from the main road of us standing on our cabin site
The photo at the top of this post is the view from our lot, taken where our private road meets the main road and we have the same view from our cabin site.

This place is a private, calm, beautiful escape from everything where we can choose to be with those we love. I can hardly wait to begin building.

I almost forgot--we made snow angels too. It was the best day in a long time.

Friday, January 18, 2008

it left me speechless for a second

My mom has been begging my dad for almost two years to let her get a new puppy, a little, teensy sweetheart of a pup that, even when it is fully grown, I will be unable to call a dog because it will be so tiny and so cute (and that is said with a really high squeaky voice). Because of her increased interest in shopping, (the John Deere tractor for him, the new blue Grand Prix that she bought when she went to get the oil changed in her two-year-old gold Grand Prix--and many, many other purchases, large and small) he absolutely refuses to allow a new dog in the house. The only thing that has stopped her from getting a puppy is his constant threat that she better not get a puppy because he'd get rid of it and she better believe that he would.

She brought up the puppy again today and I suggested that perhaps if she promised dad that she wouldn't buy anything for three months, he might give in and get her the puppy. She said she didn't think he would ever give in, but that the first thing she was going to do after he died was to go out and get a puppy. And then she was going to go to Hawaii, because that is the other thing he won't agree to. I can just see it all now--dad passes away, mom gets the puppy and shows up at the services with the puppy in one of those puppy bags that Paris Hilton carries around, telling everyone who comes through the line to offer condolences, "Yes, this is a sad time, but I'm so glad I have my new little puppy, Bill, to keep me company and get me through this hard time." And every time the little puppy hears its name, Bill, it snarls at her. And she carries Bill on the plane with her to Hawaii...

Jack and I went to visit my parents tonight and of course, mom brought up the puppy and dad said, "Here we go again with the dog." I told him that I had suggested that she promise to not buy anything for three months and if she made it, he could get her a puppy and his response was, "I've been lied to before..."

Maybe you have to know them to see the humor...

Friday, January 11, 2008

don't read this post if you don't go to R-rated movies. seriously

The other day, my friend, Sugar, sent me an email with quotes from famous people about men, women, and sex. (OKAY, now you know I'm really serious about the R-rating. You know who you are, so just stop reading right now!)

These are some of the quotes. I have not confirmed whether or not the people identified as having spoken these deep thoughts are really the authors of the thoughts. But I think they are interesting and in some cases even, funny.

So, here they are:
  • According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are too judgmental, where, of course, men are just grateful... Robert De Niro
  • Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place... Billy Crystal
  • Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake whole relationships... Sharon Stone
  • Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is... Barbara Bush
All I'm saying is that if you think about any of these and you have any real life experience, you might see some truth or humor, or both. That's all I'm saying.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

growing plants in the garden

You may or may not be aware that plants, like most living things, typically require very little to grow. Inside a plant's cells are its marching orders--how to become what it is genetically programmed to become--and march they do. If a plant has soil, water, and sunlight, it stands a good chance of growing. But with just a bit more effort, a plant will not only survive, it will grow, thrive, and even flourish. Plants, like all living things, want to be their best. And it takes so little effort by the gardener.

To start, plants need soil that has nutrients and minerals that will encourage root growth. The nutrients should be the right mix for the type of plant--that is, a gardener wouldn't give too much nitrogen to a tomato plant, because nitrogen is responsible for green growth--a good thing if the gardener is growing grass or corn, but not so good if he wants red tomatoes. The nitrogen will encourage large, lush tomato plants, but not the desired fruit.

Plants also need soil that is a mix of sand, clay, and organic matter so that as water is applied to the soil, it can percolate down through the various particles of sand, clay, and organic matter, drawing oxygen to the roots of the plant, as well as distributing the nutrients and minerals that the plant needs to thrive. As the organic matter decomposes, it provides the necessary air pockets to move water and oxygen to the roots. Some plants, like those found in marshy areas, thrive with wet feet, but soggy soil will quickly kill a squash plant.

Plants also need the correct amount of water based on the individual needs of that plant. Too much water will drown one plant's roots and kill it, but that same amount may be perfect for another plant. The amount of water for a lush, healthy fern is vastly different than the amount of water for a cactus or other succulent.

Plants have different sunlight requirements. A clump of russian sage will thrive in a hot, dry, sunny area but the because of the large surface area of a its leaves, a hosta in that hot, dry, sunny area would quickly wilt and die.

And while many plants appreciate a mulch around their roots to hold moisture in the soil in the heat of August and to protect them from the freezing spells of January, some plants will fail to blossom if their roots are too deep in the soil or are covered with mulch.

The point is that with almost no care from a gardener, a plant can grow. Seeds dropped from the mouths of birds that land in a place with adequate soil, sunlight, and water, can sprout and grow into seedlings, and depending on the conditions in which they are planted, may eventually become mighty trees that withstand everything nature throws their way--high winds, ice storms, or intense heat.

With just a bit of effort--water, nutrient-rich soil, and sunlight--a garden can flourish. A gardener might like the combination of red, white, and blue blossums and find plants with similar requirements like red geraniums with white petunias and blue gerbina. Or, gardeners who prefer perennials, might plant entire beds with grasses, clumping plants, and every variety of leaf, color, blossom, and scent, that will take root in the first year, grow the second year, and thrive the third year and ever after. It takes very little effort to fill a bed with annuals that a gardener can enjoy for a season or perennials that may last forever.

But if a gardener wants his plants to flourish, he will need to invest a bit more--research into the needs of each plant so that each one is planted in an area that provides the proper intensity of sunlight, the right nutrients, the correct amount of water. The gardener must be aware if a plant's needs are not being met and respond to that observation--whether it means transplanting a plant that has inadequate light or one that exhibits signs of excessive water. And if one gardener neglects his garden, perhaps another gardener can rescue the ailing plants, recognize their needs, respond to them, and save them from certain death.

Plants can fail, survive, or thrive--or with just a bit of attention to their individual needs, they can flourish to become a living source of joy, a blessing even, in the gardener's world. It is much easier to move a seedling that was planted in a place where it will grow roots into the sidewalk or limbs into the power lines, then to try to move a full-size tree or prune its branches away from wires or its roots away from the sidewalk. It would be better still to understand the tree enough to plant it in a place where it can set down roots, grow strong and tall, and become a source of shade or fruit--thereby allowing it to become what it is genetically meant to become.

And so it is with children. They can fail, survive, thrive, or flourish depending on whether or not their individual needs are met. Most children, in spite of--or because of--the adults in their lives, will survive. With slightly more than a minimum amount of care, many children will thrive. But the children who will flourish are the ones who are cared for by adults who recognize their individual needs and respond to those needs. The adults in their lives do not try to make them survive in a hot, dry environment if they are a child who needs a dark, moist tropical forest floor to be what they are genetically programmed to become. The adults in the lives of children who flourish provide enough, but not too much, of the nutrients and minerals, sun and water, soil, mulch, and space that each child needs to flourish and become a joy to all in the garden, even the world. The adults in the lives of children who flourish care for each child in the way that each child needs, not in the way that is easiest or most convenient or the way that the adult would have it--each child's needs are recognized and willingly, lovingly met.

Sadly, some children are never given enough of their basic needs. They fail to thrive. They are planted in the wrong place and their emotional growth is stunted. These children receive enough of the basics to stay alive, but receive none of the little bit of additional nurturing, the little bit of additional attention, the little bit of additional recognition of their unique nature that would have helped them grow into healthy, flourishing adults. While their lives can be tragic, there is still hope. Just as a gardener can rescue an abandoned plant and give it what it needs to grow, adult children can recognize the developmental areas that were lacking in their formative years and work to restore the balance that their lives need. Just as a large tree may need pruning to avoid contact with power lines, adults may need help making changes that will allow growth in their lives. But oh, how much easier it is to develop that balance in a child instead of waiting to correct it in an adult. How much easier it is to lay down solid roots that grow deep into the soil and hold firm in big wind. How much easier it is to know and accept your potential--who you are and what you are capable of--and know that you can achieve it. That is when children and adults--and plants--flourish.

one more treasure from the cedar chest

Earlier this week while sorting through my gramma's cedar chest, I found a small box that contained one of those slide-viewing devices from the 60's. I was about to add it to the box of things headed off to new adventures, but luckily decided to open the box and look at the contents. Inside was the viewer as well as purchased slides from Yellowstone and one slide of my gramma with her first post-grandpa male friend, Dick. He was a fun man that loved her and enjoyed her company after grandpa died.

Under the viewer and slides, I noticed a photo envelope--the kind that has a window so you can see the photo inside. I realized it was a picture of my beautiful grandma, probably from the mid-60's. She was truly a beauty, all of her life. There was another photo tucked in behind the bathing beauty photo--a picture of her and my grandpa on the beach and that photo is the first time I ever saw anything other than a smile on her face. It cracked me up. She looks so irate or angry or something and my grandpa has almost a look like, "What have I done now?" But in my mind it is more likely that whoever took the photo just caught her at an off moment, like maybe a grain of sand blew into her eye or something. Like I said, whenever I saw her, she had a look of pleasure, even delight, to be spending time with me again. I love her so much still. And always.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

and some white Penaljo shoelaces

Last night, I decided it was time to sort through my gramma's cedar chest and decide what to keep and what to not keep. The cedar chest has finally made its way from gramma's room, into my bedroom, into the guest room, and now into the livingroom and it seemed somehow irreverent to keep all of the boxes of cough drops and q-tips and nail files that belonged to gramma, right in the livingroom for all to explore, because you have to know that if you put a cedar chest in the livingroom, company will open it and well, it just didn't seem right.

It has been over two years since my beloved gramma passed away. She was my biggest cheerleader, all of my life. We spent countless hours together, for as long ago as I can remember. We talked about everything from politics to religion to recipes to family gossip and everything in between. We wept together, we laughed heartily, we played games and we took drives in her car to eat lunch, to shop, and to sightsee. She cared for me throughout my life, and I was privileged to care for her during that last year of her amazing life.

When I was a little girl, I remember asking my gramma about her cedar chest. She explained to me that it had been her mother's chest first and when her mother passed away, she inherited it. She told me then and always after that the chest would one day be mine.

After she passed away, slowly, a little bit at a time, I sorted through gramma's things. First I executed her wishes in her will. After that, I cleared out her financial documents, and because they represented a very painful time in her final years, shredding them was a good release of some of the anger I felt at the pain she lived with during that last year. Next, I moved her bedroom set to the basement for Jack Jr to use. That move involved clearing out her dresser and nightstand. At that time, the pain of losing her was still too raw, so rather than organizing and discarding her things, I collected what she hadn't already given away and carefully packed it into her cedar chest.

Now, two years later, it seemed like the right time to look through her things once again. I opened the chest and immediately, the cedar smell reminded me of time spent with her looking into the chest. I carefully removed the items and looked at each before deciding what to keep and what to send off for new adventures in somebody else's cedar chest of life. I was having a difficult time thinking about giving away her things, until I realized I could take photos of the items and share them with you, my internet friends, and always be able to look back at them.

So here is the list of most of the things I kept:
  • The porcelain doll that was gramma's pioneer great-gramma's and was brought across the plains in a covered wagon.
  • The plum-colored bumpy glass tray that was always on gramma's color tv.
  • The small round mirror from gramma's dresser that she kept her bottles of nail polish and perfume on.
  • The little yellow plastic box that she kept all of her manicure tools in, along with all of the tools and the red rubber band that held the lid in place.
  • A black box, lined with foil, that she kept her makeup in, and all of her makeup--powder, eye shadow, mascara, rouge--not blush, rouge-- and lipstick.
  • The last purse she carried, a large, black soft leather bag with a shoulder strap, and all of the things she kept inside of it--her wallet (with her state ID card that she got when she gave up her driver's license), nail files, chap stick, a bit of change, her three pairs of sunglasses, dental floss, and half a box of kleenex (or so).
  • A yellowed copy of the newspaper from the day JFK died and laminated copies of newspaper articles describing my grandpa's death. I added a copy of her obituary to the other newspaper clippings.
  • A bowling trophy and bowling patch she won as champion of the 1958-59 ladies bowling league.
  • A small half-full bottle of Sea Breeze.
  • A pair of white Penaljo shoelaces "for ladies who wear white."
Some of the things I am prepared to send to new adventures include:
  • The flowered neck support pillow she slept with and the furry vibrating pillow that always made her laugh when I sat on it
  • The Ladybug shaving kit
  • And, last but certainly not least, the GE sunlamp she used years ago

Last night, I sorted through my gramma's things--

smiling, wiping away tears, and remembering.

And it was okay.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

chicken parm

I love the way you taste--crunchy-tender, spicy-sweet
I love the way you sound--chicken pahm, chicken pahm
I love the way you smell--tomatoey-rich-red, homemade-real

Thank you Carmella Soprano for chicken parm

One other sweet gift

As mentioned in a previous post, I don't like to rank gifts, but I have to mention one of the gifts that Jack gave me this year.

Several years ago, I developed a taste for chai tea. There is something very soothing about that warm, spicy, sweet taste on a cold day. Especially in the house, by the fire with snowflakes falling outside. But it works equally well in the almost-warmed-up car on the way to work in a blizzard.

Several weeks before Christmas, I noticed Jack googling around on the internet. Then I noticed him checking his email every night after work. I was suspicious that he had ordered something for me for Christmas, but it is difficult to guess what he plans to give to me, because he gives limited, very not-helpful clues. As opposed to me who purchases something and then give so many clues in such a short time that I then have to go back to the Home Depot and purchase additional tools, which I clue him in to and have to go buy more and that is why Jack has such an extensive tool collection in his less than amazing wood shop that is certainly not adequate for a man with his skills.

On Christmas eve, while I was at the hospital with the firstborn, Jack headed out to buy my already-purchased internet gift locally because the internet purchase wasn't going to arrive in time for the holiday. Jack came to the hospital to take me home to open my presents after a long, stressful night of worry, and the gift he had purchased was waiting for me to open it so he could make me a warm, soothing cup of chai. He bought me my own milk frother/foamer and better still, he has made me some of the most delicious cups of tea I've ever tasted. Might be the foamer, but more likely the love.

Worse than shopping for bras???

Yes, I think that today in the gardens we shopped for something that was worse than shopping for bras, perhaps because it has never been an issue before, or perhaps because it is just another reminder of the passage of time and truth of the laws about gravity and weight or some other concept I don't understand because I'm the only one in my family who has never finished a college physics course--unless you count the babies. Which is another thing I adore about them, but that is a post for another day.

Today Jack and I went to buy boots for me. I spent enough at Kohl's on Christmas gifts that I earned $60 in Kohl's cash and figured boots would be on sale, so we set out to get three pairs of boots--one pair of black high heeled boots, one pair of brown ankle boots, and one pair of some kind of funky, furry, overstuffed-looking boots to wear with my new jeans (oh, man, yet another humiliating shopping experience. Not only big-girl bras now, but also big girl jeans...sheesh.)

We went into Kohl's and the first problem we encountered was that they either had size 6 or size 10 in the remaining boots on the shelf. I found a couple of cute pairs of boots in size 8 and sat down to try them on. I just want to know when did everybody who wears boots grow skinny little dowels for legs and when did my ankles and calves get so large that I couldn't pull on a boot or if I could pull it on, couldn't zip it up?

We eventually found a pair of brown suede boots that will look good with the jeans (which even though they are bigger, still look pretty dang nice) and as a consolation prize, Jack found a really soft fluffy white robe that ties around the waist--my favorite kind of robe, and best of all, it was regularly $50 but on sale for $10---Jackpot!!

Dear Jack, I fear it is definitely time to finally put up that full-length mirror that was buried under a pile of stuff in the bedroom so I can get a sense of exactly what physics and gravity are really about.... Or not.

2008 resolution? Don't write down resolutions until after the first of the year

2008 promises to be the year that we in the gardens take my resolutions seriously.

We will not make resolutions that we cannot live by so that by the middle of January we feel like the rest of the year will be a mess.

We will not make resolutions that are so simple that they have no value like the year we resolved to wear earrings every day and ended up wearing the same black and silver posts all year.

In fact, we are not making resolutions at all this year. Resolution sounds like a whole lot more commitment to some vague ideas floating around our heads. Instead, we will make plans. These are the plans for 2008. And by we, I mean me.

1. I plan to be honest--with family, friends, strangers, and myself. This is not an excuse to be mean spirited to others.

2. I plan to listen to my body and give it what it needs, whether that is food, exercise, treats, or any other thing it calls for. This is not an excuse to overeat and not exercise.

3. I plan to enjoy as much time as possible with my loved ones--Jack, Stu, Shi, Cory, Jessie, Herschel, and Jake, and of course, Breanne, Audrey, and the unnamed one.

4. I plan to forgive others--family, friends, strangers, and especially myself.

5. I plan to care more for my dogs--more brushing, more chatting, more sitting together, more dog bones, and more of whatever the old sweethearts think they need.

6. I plan to give time, the one thing I have control over, to my parents and Jack's mother.

7. I plan to see my friends as often as we can, whether newly established friendships, or lifelong relationships.

8. I plan to do the hard, valuable work that I need to do.