Monday, October 31, 2011

Family Favorite Holiday Recipe

This family favorite is a Bisquick recipe!  It's so easy!  Modifications for diabetics included.


2 cups sugar (or 2 cups Splenda for Baking)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or 1/2 cup apple sauce)
1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups Bisquick baking mix (reduced fat)
2 tsps. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 13 X 9 X 2 inch pan.  Beat sugar, oil, pumpkin, and eggs in large mixer bowl on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.  Stir in baking mix, cinnamon, and raisins.  Pour into pan.  Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.   Cool.  Frost with cream cheese frosting, cut into bars, refrigerate leftover bars.


3 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup margarine
1 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat together.

Note:  I received no compensation from Bisquick or Splenda for this post.  The diabetic modifications are my own.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Apple Hill Splendor

UPDATE:  Cameron Park is about 10 miles west of the Apple Hill ranches, which are actually located in Camino, Placerville and Pollock Pines.  (Apple Hill Growers Association gives these directions -- sorry, I'm "directionally challenged.")

Wordless Wednesday (almost).

These pictures were taken at Apple Hill, Cameron Park (just above Placerville), California on October 26, 2011.  We've been going up there for years and years and I don't believe we've ever been down this particular road.  For the locals, this is Orchard 35 (Bill's Apples and Felicia's Dolls).  Very cool place.  We saw a doe just a couple hundred feet down the road from here.

Snapped this because I heard Brother Judd's voice in my head,
"Don't take pictures of things; take pictures of people.  When you get old,
you'll throw all the pictures of things in the garbage."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Beef with Medical People

I have a problem with medical personnel, and I'm curious to see how many of my readers have had similar experiences.  I'd love to hear what you have to say.  This is indeed my pet peeve.

My first beef with medical people:  They don't listen.

Several years ago, I went to see a doctor because I was having acute stomach pain.  Since several of my family members had previously had experience with this same type of pain, I told the doctor that I believed I may have gall stones.  I was sent for a series of tests -- and I mean serious testing.  Three weeks later, I received a phone call at work from a doctor I'd never met, who basically told me I was dying of lung cancer.  While I know that it is possible to have lung cancer when you've never smoked in your life, but I also know that's pretty rare.  At any rate, I was obviously quite upset at work, and my cubicle was not at all private, so basically everyone at work came to my rescue.  It was later determined that I just had scar tissue on my lung from several bouts of pneumonia.  When the doctor told me this, I said, "Yep, and I'll bet you've even forgotten what I originally came in here for."  As he began shuffling papers like crazy, I told him not to bother.  I told him that if I really did have gall stones, that they weren't going to miraculously disappear, and that the next time I had an attack, I would just go to the emergency room and have it taken care of that way.  He said, "Oh, no, you don't want to do that."  I told him that's exactly what I wanted to do, and that's exactly what I did two years later.

There was also the time that a doctor prescribed medication for me that literally made me crazy.  I was a raving maniac.  I went back to him and told him that he needed to give me something different because the medicine made me crazy.  He said, "Oh, that should have the opposite effect.  It should make you very mellow."  I told him again (and again), that it made me crazy, and he kept telling me that it shouldn't have that effect.  I finally said, "Look, I don't care what it should do, I'm telling you what it does do, and I'm NOT taking these meds."  He threatened me with cancer if I didn't take them.  So I said, "My children will understand if I die from cancer.  They will not understand if I get up on the freeway driving the wrong direction and take out an entire family with me!"  He left the room, slammed the door, left me sitting there for 20 minutes, and then came back with another doctor who prescribed a different medication (which was much better).

My second beef with medical people:   They are becoming extremely aggressive.

Then there was the time I went in for a PAP smear.  After he yelled at me for not having one for 18 years, he proceeded to tell me that a certain part of my anatomy was red and itchy.  I told him I did not itch.  He argued with me and told me that I indeed had an itch.  I repeated that I had no such problem, and that I didn't care if it was red or not because no one (including me) could see it.  He wrote me a prescription for the nonexistent itch.  I took it from him, ripped it up, and threw it in the garbage.

This brings me to my current problem.  I was recently due for a stool test.  They sent me two stool tests in the mail, and then several letters reminding me to do it.  I finally gave in and did the stool test under duress.  It really bugs me, however, that this stuff goes through the mail.  I mean, I'd hate to be the postal worker who has to deal with my poop if the postage machine accidentally destroys the packaging!

I am also due for a mammogram and PAP smear -- neither of which I have any intention of getting -- mostly because just before I retired I received a voicemail at my place of employment, asking me to call back and schedule the appointment.  I was really ticked!  I called and told them that they needed to call my home number and leave a message on my answering machine.  They have called me a couple of times at home since then, and each time I've told them I don't have the inclination to do that right now.  At least those phone calls were live human beings.   This afternoon I received an automated phone call from my medical care provider telling me that they had information for me, but I had to verify who I was by saying my medical record number into the automated system.  So I had to run to the other room for my purse to find my record number.  After saying my number, the automated system repeated the number correctly, and then proceeded to tell me that it couldn't find any records for me.  I had to say the number again, and the process was repeated that I had no records.  "Please hold while I transfer you to an operator."  After holding, a live voice asked me for the purpose of my call.  "I have no idea!  You called me with your automated system!"  It turns out it was yet another reminder about the tests they want me to have.  With the help of the operator, I have now sent my doctor a nastygram telling him that I don't want his stinking tests, and I doubly don't want any more phone calls (especially the automated ones) about it!

My third beef with medical people:   They blame EVERYTHING on my weight.

I don't care if I go to the doctor for an ingrown toenail, it will be blamed on my weight.  As a kid, everything was blamed on the fact that I was skinny.  Now, it's because I'm "obese."  And what's with that awful term "obese," anyway!  I'm heavy.  Okay?  I'm fat.  Okay?  Obese?!!  Come on!  Way to make me totally depressed!

My fourth beef with medical people:  They think they are God.

I have a right to say how my medical care will be managed.  I have a right to turn down medical care.  I have a right to turn down medication.  By the way, most people in this country are so over-medicated, it saddens me.  A friend of mine who has some medical problems tells her doctors that she will only take six pills a day -- no more.  If they want to give her a new medication, they have to discontinue one.  I'll be 57 years old in December.  I have some arthritis in my hands and feet, which is creeping to my elbows and knees.  Now that I have a metal plate in my right ankle, arthritis is setting in there too.  I've had mild arthritis in my fingers since I was 18 years old.  To date, I have not taken any medication.  If I had decided to take meds at 18 years old, by now I would be immune to every arthritis medication out there.  At some point in the future when I really need to take something, I want it to work.  In the meantime, I run hot water on all sore joints in the morning.  I type and crochet to keep my fingers limber.  I make a point of wiggling my toes throughout the day to keep them limber.

So that's my rant for the day.  I'd be interested to hear if anyone besides me gets as irritated with medical people.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Baby

Joey as Buzz Lightyear 2011

Ella as Lion (with Hannah) 2011
The pictures above were taken at the church "Trunk-or-Treat" party on October 22, 2011 of two of my grandchildren.  These are Hannah and Dale's children, Joey, and Ella.

Trunk-or-Treat reminded me that I needed to buy Halloween candy.  As I purchased Halloween candy this morning, I was thinking of the first Halloween after my first child was born.  Molly was born October 3, 1977.  She was born with a lung cyst the size of a baseball, which is very rare and has the same symptoms as a diaphragmatic hernia, so her condition was originally misdiagnosed.  She had two major surgeries before she was 12 hours old, and we weren't sure for quite a while how long she would be with us.  Obviously, she didn't come home from the hospital right away.  As a matter of fact, she had only been home a few days prior to Halloween.

Danny was a very proud father!  He still is a very proud father of all his children!  As I purchased Halloween candy this morning, Danny was busy filling in the cashier on the latest news from one of our children.  Every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the street knows every detail of our lives because Danny will talk to anyone and everyone about his family!

The weather turned very cold for Halloween that year.  Proud Daddy decided he should put a San Francisco Giants baseball cap on our tiny little baby and take her trick-or-treating.  As I said, she had only been out of the hospital a few short days after a life-threatening illness.  Her surgical scars were not even completely healed!  Yeah, right -- trick-or-treating over my dead body!  We had a huge argument over this, and this was one argument that I was not about to lose!

After we both calmed down a bit and were able to discuss the matter in civil tones, the real issue surfaced.  Danny had not really been allowed to be much of a parent to his son, Matt, by his previous marriage -- an issue that continued for many more years to come.  He was afraid that I would be over-protective and not let him be a father to our children.  Apparently, that was his biggest fear.  I was able to ease his fears and let him know that he would be able take his children trick-or-treating and fully participate as a father.  I wouldn't have had it any other way!  Through the years I encouraged him to do all those fun things with his children, and I think I was particularly careful to do so because I realized how important it was for him.  He is a great Dad!  I hope my four children appreciate the great Dad they have.  I'm grateful that Danny was able to get closer to Matt at a later date before Matt died.  I wish for Matt's sake that it had been possible for Danny to be more a part of his life when he was younger.  Matt missed out on so much!

Each year after that, I would help the kids into their costumes and make-up, and Danny would take the kids trick-or-treating while I heated apple cider and got the donuts ready for consumption while I checked the collected candy for safety.

Well, the kids are gone, but now there are grandchildren to enjoy.  Danny is a great grandpa too!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Polly and Hedda's Day at the Dolly Spa

That's a hot water bottle under her head.

It's hard to see in the picture, but she has measles.
My mother instilled in me a great love of dolls, doll clothes, doll houses, and all things that have anything to do with dolls.

Mom had agoraphobia (one of those people who are afraid to leave their home) long before anyone knew what it was, so it was never diagnosed.  All Christmas shopping was done by the Speigel catalog.  I looked through the catalog one Christmas season and found these absolutely lovable little dolls, Polly-the-Lolly and Hedda-Get-Bedda.  Polly had pink hair with braids wired to stand straight up in the air.  Hedda had three faces; happy, asleep, and sick with measles.  I dog-eared the page and left the catalog open where the dolls could be seen.  Every time anyone left the catalog closed, I would open it back up to the proper page.  That Christmas Santa brought me Polly-the-Lolly.  Hedda-Get- Bedda arrived the following Christmas.  Now I loved these little dolls!  They were just the sweetest little things ever!  Unfortunately, I loved them so much that after a few years, they were a plastic bag full of stuffing.

As any little girl, I eventually grew up.  I got married.  I had children of my own.  There was always a little empty spot in my heart, however, for the little dolls that passed beyond the veil.  Mom went to a doll show, and who did she see???  Lo and behold, Polly-the-Lolly and Hedda-Get-Bedda apparently were in the first resurrection!  Mom paid more than double the price she originally paid for the dolls, but I received a special Christmas surprise.  She made clothes for the dolls that were as close as possible to the original wardrobe.  I loved those dolls!  A couple of years ago, I found Hedda's original accessories on E-bay and bought them.

Unfortunately, in the busy life that is raising children, I eventually had to put the dolls in my closet to make room for everyone else's "stuff."  We recently became "empty nesters," and I'm reclaiming my house.  I've been through every room in the house organizing closets and cupboards and throwing out the excess baggage that a family of six accumulates over 35 years.  I'm finally down to my closet and the garage.  I started on my closet this morning, and found Polly-the-Lolly and Hedda-Get-Bedda.  They were a tad bit dusty (cough, cough), and Polly's pink hair had faded to almost white.  Hedda's plastic nightcap was cracked because plastic wasn't as durable in the 1950's as it is now.

Needless to say, all work ceased on my closet until my babies had a day at the spa.  Clothes were washed, bodies were washed, Hedda's nightcap was repaired, and Polly's hair was washed, conditioned, dyed, braided, and curled.  They will now be displayed on the spare bed in my office.  (I love saying "my office," as opposed to a kid's bedroom!)

Thanks, Mom!  It took a good number of years, but Polly and Hedda finally have a home -- and I had an absolutely marvelous day!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Vacation Fun Is Exhausting!

We've just had 8 lovely days!  We drove to Salt Lake City for LDS General Conference, then on to Idaho to visit family and enjoy the desert scenery.  Conference was wonderful, and I'm still on a spiritual high!  There is nothing more relaxing to me that a drive through the desert, and we drove through some of the most beautiful desert scenery in the country this last week.  I told Danny that photographs and even an artist's painting can't do justice to the desert.  The shadows on the hillsides, the colors of pinks, browns, purples, and blues all blending together amidst puffs of clouds that you feel you can reach up and grab from the sky -- none of that can be recreated.  It truly takes the hand of the Master.

After leaving Salt Lake, we stopped in Brigham City to visit the grave site of my third great grandmother, Ingeborg M. Nielsen Jensen, who was a handcart pioneer.  A few years ago, our family took up a collection to place a grave stone for Ingeborg.  We finally purchased the stone, took it to Brigham City, but there was too much snow to place the stone, so the cemetery had to place the stone after we left Utah.  So this time I was able to get pictures of the stone placed in the cemetery for the family.

We traveled to Pocatello, Idaho, which is one of the few places in Idaho I had never seen.  Quite by accident, we discovered Garrett Road, and the Garrett Business Center.  My father-in-law, Lon White, was a truck driver for Garrett Freightlines for 25 years.  A few years ago, Garrett went out of business, so the old trucking facility in Pocatello has been turned into a business park.  It was so much fun to walk around and take pictures.  I only wish I could have gotten a good picture of the street sign, but it would have required standing in the middle of a very busy 4-lane street, and I value my life.

Trust me, there's a road sign there that says "Garrett Way."
Neely, Idaho is the site of a beautiful cemetery which has a great number of relatives, so we stopped there for a bit and marveled at the beautiful view on all sides of the cemetery!  We stopped briefly in Burley, Idaho to see a cousin, Dale Whipple.  It was pouring down rain when we got to Burley, but by the time we left, the sun was beginning to shine again.  I always feel so much at home in Dale's house, and he's a real sweet man.  I was glad we were able to connect with him, even if it was only for a few minutes.

We spent that night in Twin Falls -- and Danny scored with the hotel room!  The Shilo Inn in Twin Falls is beautiful, and for $76, we had a full suite -- with not one, but two television sets!  Actually, we didn't have a bad room for the entire trip, but the Shilo Inn in Twin Falls and the Best Western Plus in Winnemucca were the best.  (Best Western Plus was a little more expensive.)  Danny was born in Twin Falls, so we enjoyed cruising the area, especially around the new temple.  We had the opportunity on a previous trip to Idaho to attend the open house of the Twin Falls Temple, and it is a really beautiful temple.

We drove to the Nampa/Caldwell area, and spent two nights in Nampa visiting Danny's brother and sister-in-law.  It is always fun to spend time with Dick and Barbara.  We took a tour of all the old stomping grounds in Caldwell where Danny was raised, and visited Danny's parents' graves, as well as the grave of his best friend, Colin Lamb, who was killed in Vietnam.  (I had been inspired the day before to get all the details on the Lamb family in the cemetery, because now that Colin's parents have passed, we can easily do the temple ordinances for Colin and his family.  Danny was thrilled at the thought, and especially that we might be able to get our son, Ezra, whose middle name is Colin, to do some of the work.)

We also checked up on my daughter's rental home in Caldwell to make sure it is looking good.

One night we went to Boise to have dinner with Danny's nephew's ex-wife and her husband.  Diane will always be my special friend, and she will always be part of our family.  I made up my mind that Ed and Diane may have divorced, but we didn't divorce Ed OR Diane.  Her second husband, Fred, is a really fine man, and it turns out that Danny went to school with Fred's brother.  Diane's youngest, Spencer, was with us for dinner, and it was fun to see him again.  He was very young the last time we saw him, and he didn't remember us, but we remember him!

The 20 or 30-mile trip back from Boise to Nampa that night was eventful -- to say the least!  I don't know how we got back to the hotel alive!  Some roads were extremely confusing on our trip -- and that night trip back from Boise included my navigator directing me down the wrong way on a freeway ramp -- among other things!

We had a truly lovely drive from Nampa to Winnemucca, Nevada.  We got into Winnemucca about 2:00 or 2:30 p.m., so we had some time to explore.  We walked a block or two down to the only theater in Winnemucca to see the movie "Dolphin Tale."  We were the only people there, so we had a private showing, which was really kind of fun!  After a bite to eat, we vegged in front of a wide flat screen television in our room.

Today we drove from Winnemucca through Reno and back to Sacramento over Donner Summit.  It was a beautiful drive.  The sun was shining, and the snow had all melted from the road, but the snow was still on the trees, making a splendid winter wonderland!  It was a wonderful trip, but I'm glad to be home -- and from the looks of it, my dog is glad we're home too.  We had a house sitter for the first time, and it was great to know that everything was being watched over while we were gone, and that our dog was in good hands.  We have had dog watchers before, but we've never had someone (other than our kids) actually stay in the house and take care of things, but I'm so glad we did it.

Just a bit of commentary:  While California gave back some of their "stimulus money" because they didn't spend it on road construction fast enough, Utah, Idaho, and Nevada apparently spent every penny offered to them.  The roads will be beautiful when they are finished, but I'm here to tell you that there is an abundance of road construction projects!  I love the fact that we are restoring the infrastructure in this country, but I would like it even more if they would just say, "Hey, our roads stink, and we're going to spend a gazillion dollars fixing them."  While they are putting lots of road construction crews to work (at least in three states), I'm not sure what that is doing to "stimulate" the rest of the economy.  Hey, Washington, D.C., there are plenty of other people out of work besides road crews!  Also, a reminder to those of us driving through these construction zones -- please be careful, slow down, and remember that these highway workers want to go home to their families at the end of the day just as we do!

Monday, October 3, 2011

General Conference October 2011

I'm blogging from a hotel in Twin Falls, Idaho, so if someone comes to use the computer, this may be cut short.

My husband and I just attended General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  You call us Mormons.  It was an absolutely wonderful conference!  I felt so at peace to be there with thousands of people who share one common goal:  To try a little harder each day to become more like the Saviour.  There were talks from the prophet and President of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other general officers of the Church.  I took great notes, but I won't try to summarize them because they are in one of my suitcases, and I'm not sure which one at this point -- and I'm pretty tired tonight.

The one talk that does stand out in my mind, however, was a talk by Elaine S. Dalton (oh, I do hope I got her name right), the Young Women's General President.  Usually, when a member of the Young Women's Presidency speaks, she speaks to the young women of the Church.  This time, this wonderfully inspired leader spoke to the fathers of the Church.  It was quite apparent that she knows that families are falling apart, and she felt inspired to speak to fathers about keeping their families together, honoring their priesthood responsibilities, and staying close to their daughters (and sons).  It was a powerful and moving talk.

I was also thrilled at the new temples that were announced in Wyoming, the Congo, Columbia, and South Africa, and that the Church is going ahead with plans for a temple in Paris, France.  The historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah that burned down a few months back will be completely restored -- but not as a tabernacle -- as a new temple!

It was also announced that a new fund has been set up to help families who live far away from a temple to make a one-time trip to a temple to do family ordinances and seal their families together for eternity.  What a wonderful opportunity!  I can definitely sink my teeth into that, and will be making my first donation to the fund shortly.

On a more personal note, between the Saturday sessions of conference, I was thrilled to be able to personally meet Kathryn Skaggs (aka LDSNana, aka A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman).  I have been in awe of this woman's talents since I first "met" her on Twitter a couple of years ago.  Kathryn has her own story to tell about conference, and I won't tell it here and spoil her fun.  She's probably already done it, but the hotel where I'm staying doesn't allow patrons to use social media on the hotel computer, so I can't check to see what she's posted to Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ about conference -- that will have to wait until I can get to a more "friendly" computer.  By the way, Kathryn is as beautiful as her pictures -- besides being a completely genuine person.

The main lesson learned from attending conference:  When I was walking back and forth between the hotel and the conference center, I kept telling myself to fight through the pain because my third great grandmother, Ingeborg Mortensen Jensen, pushed a handcart all the way across the country to the Salt Lake Valley, and I shouldn't complain.  As I recall (and my family will correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure), Ingeborg was about 15 years old (or at least a young woman), she was a little bit of a thing (not overweight), and she did not have a metal plate and several screws in her ankle.  Those Vicodin that I didn't take after my surgery and just threw in the 72-hour kit in case somebody needed them someday -- yeah, I should have grabbed them for the trip.  Let's just say that I had two nights of total agony, and I made Danny go find food last night (walking because the whole area around the hotel was a huge construction site) and bring it back to the room.

I'll blog about our trip to Idaho in a couple of days.