Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflection...by Jim Terry

 Re·flec·tion noun \ri-ˈflek-shən\

1. The act of reflecting or the state of being reflected.
2. Something, such as light, radiant heat, sound, or an image, that is reflected.
3.  a. Mental concentration; careful consideration.
    b. A thought or an opinion resulting from such consideration.
4. A manifestation or result.

At this time of year it’s so easy to “reflect” on what we did this past year.  Isn’t this how “New Year’s Resolutions” were formed?  As I was doing this very thing today, I was shocked to see that “REFLECTION” meant much more than the two definitions, I thought “reflection”, meant in my mind.  …Of course in now reading and seeing how the world defines “reflection,” I know that all of us, at one point or another, have used each and everyone of these defined contexts in our lives.

“The act of reflecting or the state of being reflected.”-This is easy isn’t it?  …What did I do this year? What should I have done this year?  What are my goals for next year?  Again, how a “resolution” was formed many years ago.  

“Something, such as light, radiant heat, sound, or an image, that is reflected”- This has been and probably always will be one of my favorite meanings of reflection.  I love serene setting.  Don’t you?  Picture a lake with the mountains being perfectly reflected in the lake below with the white puffy clouds embracing the mountain tops. …The cliffs of the pacific coast that crash into the ocean only to be encompassed by the sweet caress of the sun kissing the horizon at it reflects off of the surface of the water as it sets into the sea. I have had the privilege and have been so fortunate to see many of these very types of settings in my life.  I am always amazed at how nature and this type of setting seems to be so fulfilling and can refocus people.

 “Mental concentration: careful consideration; A thought or an opinion resulting from such consideration.”-  Similar to the first definition on this list but I think this one is more than just an “act.”  This one is more of a meditative state. …Think of those times when you have been all-alone and heard a specific song or experienced a specific smell and how that ONE thing can open a floodgate of memories, laughs, chuckles and sometimes tears.  …Take me for instance when I hear the song “Beautiful” by Mariah Carey.

My Mom, when this song came out, LOVED this song.  So each and every time I now hear this song I can’t help but to think of my Mom, my Dad, and my brother Mike during Mother’s Day this past year.  …I rented a convertible red mustang to take us all on a drive up through the mountains from Boise to my Mom’s favorite pancake house in McCall.  But before we left from my parent’s home with all of us being belted in, the top down and weather just perfect that day; I stopped for just a minute and plugged my phone into the auxiliary jack of the radio.  And before we left I remember telling my Mother, “This song is dedicated to you Mom. The title says it all with how we all feel about you.”  And as the song began to play and we started our journey north, you could tell with my Mom’s warm heart, affectionate eyes and a “Thank you Jim,” that she was touched by this tribute of a simple song.   

“A manifestation or result:”- Quite simply put one’s reflection of themselves can help us achieve and accomplish great things. For instance… I have seen my Dad accomplish more things and tasks during the day than most of us ever thought of taking on in a week. This is a true REFLECTION of his character and the good man he is. 

So as we all start this REFLECTION process at the end of 2013 remember to do and try a couple of things…

#1- Don’t sell yourself short. ...We tend to beat ourselves up and criticize ourselves more than others would.  It’s okay to NOT be "PERFECT.”


#2- TAKE OR MAKE THE TIME to find that coastline, that sunset, that mountain lake, that smell, that song or that SPOT that makes you feel most comfortable and REFLECT on what makes you most happy in your life.  I think you will find it’s exhilarating and will help you focus on what is really important…family, love, happiness and being content with what we have! 



Monday, December 30, 2013

Change...by Mary Hazlett

I had thought this to be the perfect title with the upcoming event on the calendar...you know...the New Year!  Where the heck did all last year go?  Okay, it is time again.  Time for those New Year's Resolutions...

If most of you are like me, the first four resolutions don't change from year to year... 1. lose weight... 2. lose weight... 3. save a little money... oh, and 4. lose weight.

I actually get a little sense of relief each January because I really don't have to be that creative in what I would really like to change about my life.  Which is mostly due to the fact that I always eat too much on the holidays and spend too much money on Christmas... so viola ... New Year's Resolutions DONE!

Change... seems like it should be a four letter word...doesn't it?  This fall as I was watching all the trees change and lose their leaves in the backyard,  I thought how that must just hurt for so many different reasons.  Those trees worked all summer on getting these beautiful leaves and growing and then fall comes along and BAM!  Leaves gone and here comes the freezing temperatures and SNOW!

Oh how I pondered this change thing... and sitting underneath a gigantic maple at least fifty years old... it came.  Although fall and winter come with a cold harsh change... it is worth it.  These trees soon emerge with new found life and hardiness to endure the days ahead.  The sun will undoubtedly shine more and warm the earth and these trees will explode with life.  We have all seen it...SPRING!

So this year's resolutions... may be a little different for me!  Of course I still have the ever present lose weight and save money resolutions, but they have moved to the bottom of my priority list.  This year will be about change of heart.  A CHANGE that can give me the strength to endure the weather ahead.  So, I know you are dying to know my resolutions so here goes...

1. Listen to those around me more intently and have genuine concern for them.
2. Enjoy the life moment I am in...right now...and not pine for yesterday or tomorrow.
3. Tell each of my family members at least once every week... "I love you".
4. Remember Mother everyday and thank Heavenly Father for her life.

...and the others... you already know.  I am so glad that life experiences help us cherish life, love a little deeper, and share important things with those you love.  So, bring on the New Year and bring on the CHANGES...But until January 1st...Please pass me some chocolate!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sledding and life lessons... by Mary Hazlett

Why is it that this picture brings me sooo much joy??  Well, can I ask are you smiling looking at this picture?

Two winters ago was Benson's first ever sledding trip... and as you can see... he LOVED it!!!  So, in turn, so did I!  I wonder why is it that Benson has a smile from ear to ear as he is careening down a cold and bumpy mountain????  Well, look who is in control of his sled....Yep, his Daddy.. and you can bet he is sure that he will be safe and at the same time have a wonderful time experiencing something so crazy and still reach the end of the hill in one piece.

That got me thinkin....how does this relate to me... or rather to us.  Yea, life is a bumpy cold ride sometimes.... and why can't I smile like that???
Oh Yea, I've forgotten whose lap I am riding on and who is control of the sled.  Why is it.... that children remind us of all that is important....Why is it.... life gets overwhelming and we can't remember to enjoy the ride.... and.. Why is it.... we forget there is a larger plan for our lives and just sit back and laugh at the bumps.

Well, family and friends, here is to remembering that God is in control and he knows WAAAY more than we do..... So, I dare you to just SMILE, HOLD ON and know you are in HIS safe keeping!

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails!"

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cheers to a great story...by Gina Waite (and O. Henry)

Happy day-after-Christmas!  If you’re anything like my family you are trying to wake up, slightly sluggish from the previous day of  barely sleeping and overeating, possibly needing a little pick me up!  Diet Pepsi and a good read, usually worked for my Mom and me!   I've got my Diet Pepsi (hope you do too) and an excerpt from one of my Mom’s favorite stories, O. Henry’s, “The Gift of the Magi.” 

I’ll set up the scene:  Picture the early 1900’s…Mr. and Mrs. James Dillingham Young (Jim and Della) have fallen on difficult financial times.  Christmas Eve was usually an exciting day for Della, but this year she only had $1.87 to buy her husband, Jim, a gift.  Della so loved her Jim and wanted desperately to give him something wonderful for Christmas!  She glanced at herself in the mirror and let down her long, luxurious brown hair….I’ll let O. Henry tell you from here:

                        Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.
On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."
"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.
"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."
Down rippled the brown cascade.
"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
"Give it to me quick," said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.
"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"
At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.
Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."
The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Della wriggled off the table and went for him.
"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."
"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"
Jim looked about the room curiously.
"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"
And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."
Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Rough Draft...by Verl Terry

Hopefully you all are waking up today on this Christmas morning and sharing time with family, time with friends, time to remember those that are not there with you whether in the flesh or in spirit and time to just enjoy your surroundings.  There have been many Christmas’ that I remember well and there were a few aspects or elements of those Christmas’ that always seemed to be the same.

The tree would always display the beauty of the lights, the glass Christmas balls, the Santa Claus face representing the “Spirit of Christmas” buried next to the trunk of the tree, the homemade ornaments our family made together, the ice cycles and generally there was some sort of scene at the bottom of the tree.  Marlene had a “nack” to take all of these elements and decorate the tree in a way that was so perfect and beautiful. There has not been a year when we finally turned on the lights to blaze forth and enhance the beauty of the tree, that I don’t just take a minute or two to look at how wonderful she would make it for all of us.  

Next were the gifts around the tree. Everyone would always do really well with his or her wrapping but it was Marlene’s that you could pick out every time. …Every single one of her gifts was adorned with the most beautiful handmade bows you could imagine. Her gifts, presented with only the touch that Marlene knew how to do, were ALWAYS the most beautiful and the most genuine under the tree.  It was almost a shame to open them every year, as they were just that perfect.

One of our traditions at Christmas each year is to buy for only one family member or sibling. We would limit the amount we could spend to $100 so we would not let the commercial aspect overtake the real meaning of Christmas.  The rotation continues so that you do not buy for the same person each year.  …On Christmas, and as we would open the gifts we purchased for each other, we would all sit in a circle and watch each person open that special gift from a brother, a sister or Mom and Dad.  

The individual receiving the gift, and before they could open their gift, would have to listen to the person that gave them that gift.  What they would have to listen to is some memory, some accomplishment or just why the person giving the gift loved the person receiving that gift.  It was such a special time for Marlene and myself. We learned how much our kids really loved each other and how many times they did wonderful acts of kindness throughout the year.   Many tears of joy have been shed; many warm embraces and many “I love yous” throughout the years on Christmas Day have been witnessed as we have continued this tradition.  I am so proud as a Father that my family could show each other such unconditional love. 

With all the presents from Santa Claus being hidden in our home, it was difficult for me to find and hide the gifts I had purchased for Marlene.  Every time I thought I had found the “secret place” I would find a present from Santa to one of our children.  As the years went by, I finally figured the best way to hide my gifts was in my shop and then on Christmas day send her on a treasure hunt to find them in many different locations.  

These “treasure hunts” over the years have yielded a variety of things that were dear to her but one of her favorite gifts she received from me was a simple set of 8x30 binoculars I bought at Cabelas so she could watch “her birds. “ Marlene loved birds and the many colors they displayed.  If there was a bird that landed in our yard that she didn’t know, she would immediately go to her special drawer that contained her bird book and her binoculars so she could quickly identify which species it was.  She would even call me on my cell phone with the excitement of a child to tell me about this new bird she had discovered.   I would remind her and of course try and tease her a bit when I would say, “Now Honey, remember that the most beautiful birds are all male due to their vivid colors.”  

Her reply…”Well, certainly this is not the case with humans.  …Think about Adam and Eve.  God had to make a ROUGH DRAFT first and then he created woman with all the beauty and love displayed like a mother bird tending to her family!”  

I always laughed when we were still here together having these wonderful conversations but she was totally right…Mankind would be lost without women.  Their wonderful love, kindness, forever forgiving, forever caring attitudes that makes the world a better place just like my Marlene did for us on several occasions including Christmas.  

So from this “Rough Draft” to you, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2014! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On This "Silent Night"...by Jim Terry

Well it’s that time of year again. …The day before Christmas and here we are at almost another year's end.  Hopefully you have made enough time in your agenda for fun, time for family and time to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

I remember growing up in a family that was, and still is mind you, full of love for each other and have been taught to do good to our fellow man.  I can thank my Mom and Dad for that.  They were always giving, always caring and always, ALWAYS looking to help those in need.

….I was about 14 years old when this next experience happened to me.

When my Dad and Mom would do well financially in construction and the economic fluctuation was on the positive upswing, they would always give or help those that were struggling with making ends meet.  Being a young teenager, I never quite “GOT IT” at the time, but now that I am an adult, I see all too clearly now why this memory has stuck with me.

My parents found out through the church we attended that there were several families that were in need this particular Christmas I am thinking of.  These families did not have enough money for the simplest of toys for young children, warm clothing to battle against the fierce winds and snows of an eastern Idaho winter or just enough funds to be able to purchase some food for a warm meal.  I know our family has had some ups and downs financially but non so desperate as the picture that was painted here.

So my parents decided to take it upon themselves to provided for two of the families that year that were in need.  I remember going shopping with my Mom and some of my siblings and each of us were able to help pick out some of the toys we thought would be a good match for some of the young children we would be giving to.  We also bought some clothing, which included warm coats and mittens, essential household goods and groceries.  When we returned home, we all helped bring in all the “loot” from Mom’s van and started to wrap all the gifts and sort though the necessities to divide them based upon each family’s needs.

Once the before mentioned activities were completed and on this very same special day of Christmas Eve about 30 years ago, my Dad, my Mom and all my siblings headed out the door to deliver what we had ALL worked on together to make someone else’s Christmas more joyous and wonderful. …It was almost a surreal experience now that I think about it. 

While we were driving to our destination to deliver the items we had put together for these families, we filled the car with joy by singing Christmas Carols, enjoyed seeing the beautiful and newly fallen snow and enjoyed every twinkle of every decoration, tree and light we noticed that paid tribute to the wonderful holiday we all know as “Christmas.”

We, the kids, were the ones who were to deliver the packages to the front door as “quietly as possible”, ring the doorbell and run as fast as we could to get out of sight and hide behind a snow drift, a car or whatever tree we could find to sit back and enjoy this wonderful gift our parents allowed us to experience called “GIVING.” 

I remember the family I helped deliver to. …It was our last stop before we headed back home to start our Christmas. Little did I recognize at the time in my life, that Christmas had already begun.

…Once hidden after we ran as quickly as we could after delivering the packages to the front door so the “giving” could remain anonymous, I remember the lady of the house came out to see who had rung her doorbell.  I hear her say, “Oh my" as she read the BIG hand written note on the gifts that just said, "Merry Christmas."   I then heard her start to sniffle a bit and then she started to cry.   Her kids also appeared shortly thereafter to see what their Mother was up to.   Their giggles and laughs told the whole story of a magical Christmas that was now complete.  And as they picked up their items we had left for them at their front door, the Mother paused for a moment, looked to the left and then to the right and then called out into the dimly lit streets, “Thank you so much!" ..."Merry Christmas!”  

As I walked back to our van after the front door closed on the home we just visited, I couldn’t help but to notice "On This Silent Night” my surroundings… like the quiet crunch of the snow beneath my boots.  …The calm of the night air. …The beautiful decorations adorning nearly every household on that street. …but most importantly I noticed the warmth I felt in my heart.  Experiencing a simple sniff, a tear, some kids giggling and the appreciation of a Mother ever so thankful of the gifts they just received made the warmth in my heart I experienced that night seem so positive and something so pure …And all this happened because of a simple act of kindness and because of the wisdom of loving parents who knew what was best for their children.

Starting our vehicle, peering out of the foggy windows into the winter wonderland that surrounded us and finally slowly leaving this quiet and serene setting as a family, there was absolute silence in our car.  Hope, kindness, charity, love and anything to do with good had filled all of our hearts and made all of us reflect on how lucky we are/were to have family and the faith that a Savior came to earth and died for us.  ...This peaceful silence was broken a few minutes later as my Mom quietly, yet angelically, began to sing “Silent Night, Holy Night…All is calm, All is bright…”  We all joined in the singing with a few sniffles and tears of our own and headed home.  Ever since that night the words to this song have held a special place and meaning in my heart.

So on this "Silent Night" 30 years later, I need to give thanks. ...“THANK YOU MOM AND DAD” for your knowledge, your judgement and for allowing me to experience GIVING!  The best gift a parent could ever offer a child. “MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

***My Christmas wish...a phone call to Heaven. This is what I would say..."Mom, my heart aches without you here with us this year on Christmas. However, I am so happy for you that you are spending your FIRST Christmas in Heaven with all those that also love you and were patiently waiting for you to return home. ...Like your Mom, Dad and sister who have dearly missed you while you were here on earth taking care of your family. WE LOVE YOU MOM and you are forever in our hearts!!!"

-The following video was made in loving memory of my Mother and contains one of my Mother's favorite renditions of Silent Night sung by Sarah McLachlan. So please take a short 4 minutes of your life and watch, ponder and listen to the words of this beautiful song. ...There is a Merry Christmas message at the end from my Mom and Dad to you wishing you a Very Merry Christmas 2013. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Inhale deeply ...by Marlene Terry

Marlene Terry
Tried to wave an old friend down who passed by me in her car outside a local grocery store recently. But it was obvious that she was intent on traveling to the temporary business set up on the other side of the parking lot. ... A Christmas tree lot, of all things.

By the time I caught up, was somewhere inside, looking through the hundreds of evergreens that were being displayed for sale.

... I'll just say "Hello" I thought as I followed suit and entered the lot myself.

Then it hit me. That smell, fresh and mountainy, the scent of a REAL tree, multiplied exponentially. And immediately I was beset with the memory of browsing through one of those tree lots with my family when I was young.

Back then EVERYBODY had a real tree or no tree at all. And the aroma, although normal for that time, always had an affect.

We (my sisters and I) could hardly wait for my dad to get the tree we'd picked out and secure it on top of our car. Then after we arrived home, he'd bring it into the house to sit for the night and "warm up," Mom would say. ... That way it would be ready to decorate the next day. 

Sleeping for me on that night was almost as difficult as on Christmas Eve, what with that wonderful odor permeating our house and maybe not visions of "sugarplums" dancing through MY head to keep me wide awake, but certainly the  anticipation of whether or not Grandma's Christmas tree light would turn on again that year.
... That old light, in the shape of a cluster of grapes, was already decades old when we got it. But it never failed to blaze forth for the several decades more that we used it.

... Bubble lights, the old-fashioned kind that heated up, boiled and exploded at times, were also a favorite.
... And then there were the icicles.

Most people don't use them anymore, those silvery strings that my mom insisted be placed on the tree "one at a time," and hung barely by the tip. That way they would stream down the tree in a continuous shiny cover.

... And the results?

We'd start at the bottom of the tree and work up. And after hours ... and I'm not exaggerating the time it took at all ... of painstaking work, Dad would finally top the tree with the star. ... And then we'd turn off all the regular lights in the house and plug in the tree.

I honestly don't have the words to describe how beautiful and magical everything became, when with the scent of that wonderful tree in our home, and after the electrical cord sparked slightly from the overload, the lights on the Christmas tree would come on and it was suddenly Christmas. ... So I'll just offer a quote that I think says it pretty well.

"... freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin — Inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night."  — John Geddes

(inhale deeply)...Ahhhhh!

♦ Hope you'll let me share YOUR stories and photos here at my residence "In a Nutshell." Email me at nutshellstories@gmail.com. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tradition...by Mary Hazlett

Instantly when the word tradition is said...I think of Tevya on Fiddler on the Roof singing and dancing about and talking about tradition... "Our balance is all because of tradition"  he says.

Christmas is all about tradition...isn't it?  Carolers, Christmas cards, fudge, Santa, giving of presents.... and... oh,  THE CHRISTMAS TREE!!

Every Christmas time, our family would gather round our tree...sometimes we did cut it down and sometimes we assembled it from a box... and watch the majesty of a beautiful symbol of Christmas materialize, perfectly decorated, in our family room.  True, some years we had two Christmas trees. One for the upstairs window...which was not to be touched by anyone other than my mother; and one downstairs for the children to help decorate and which Santa was to deliver the presents to.

Real or fake...the tree was the same result...a masterpiece.  My favorite part was the old fashioned bubble lights...remember those?  We would all wait until the water heated up enough to create a mesmerizing motion inside those little glass cylinders...AWESOME...that is until you touched it and had the very recognizable smell of burning flesh.

We loved our Christmas trees through the years.  It has been awesome to see how the trees evolved over the years with the tinsel icicles to the teddy bears and finally...which are still hung on the tree today... our homemade ornaments.  Cinnamon stick Santas with Snowtex beards and jute string.  Bird houses painted with brown and blue.  Dried apple slices... and, Mom's favorite..of course painted by my super talented brother Mike , the long Santa face placed near the trunk of the tree to symbolize the Spirit of Christmas.

So in the spirit of tradition...we all pitched in once again this year to create a beautiful masterpiece.  Despite the fact that wonderful Marlene has moved on from this earth...we had to do it...for her...for dad...for all of the family...for tradition.  The tree...

Just like Mom would have liked it...Perfection!  And as Tevya says,"  Because of tradition we know who we are and what God expects of us."  Thank you Mom...once again for your traditions that you have given to all of us!!  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vulcanized...by Gina Waite

To say I’m a huge Star Trek fan would be a gross overstatement.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Star Trek and I especially feel grateful for the story lines that allowed my Mom’s mind to travel to “Space…the final frontier!”  But most recently I am happy that my lack of Star Trek movie folklore, my Mom’s love of Trek memorabilia, created a situation that prompted a wonderful expression of love that I will remember for the rest of my life!

Mother’s Day 2012 was just around the corner!  I wanted so desperately to find something perfect for Mom.  I started scouring through magazines containing Mother’s Day gift ideas: An amazing home-foot-spa…hmm…that would probably never be used because my Mom would actually have to sit down to properly use such an item; Beautiful books with poems about Mother’s…my Mom could write better than the poems I found showcased in those books; the heart-shaped jewelry with stones representing the birth month of each child…couldn't find a necklace that would contain more than six stones, my Mom needed eight!
 My mom had so many wonderful passions, finding a gift for my Mom, was usually very easy for me.  For some strange reason finding a fun, affordable gift was more difficult than usual  for me…that was until I typed in "Star Trek memorabilia!"  I spotted a white, vinyl, symbol (after reading the description I noted that it was the Starfleet symbol!)  The description of this item also told me, “place it anywhere your Starfleet-loving-heart would like it to go, safe for all surfaces!”  …Really...Anywhere????   Visions of Trekkie’s across the country sporting white vinyl Starfleet insignia’s across their foreheads, with pointy, Spock-inspired ears made me laugh condescendingly to myself.  The thought was quickly replaced with the joy I most assuredly would feel in giving my Mom such a fun, customized gift!  After all, she could put it on the back lower-left window of her car and drive around at “warp-speed” all she wanted!  I had to get it…I couldn't type in “quantity, purchase or pay” fast enough!

The day my Mother’s Day gift arrived in the mail, I will never forget.  As I reached in my mailbox and pulled out the usual white-enveloped financial reminders and colorful credit card applications, I quickly noticed a plain white envelope that had an Oregon return address.  I started to think of the people I knew from Oregon...my sister lived in Oregon, but not the city this envelope had traveled from.  I took my car key and used it as an letter opener (a wonderful skill my Mother taught me) and was surprised to find that the piece of postage contained in the dull-white envelope was a receipt from my Starfleet purchase with the small vinyl sticker ready to be placed wherever my Mom’s “Starfleet-loving-heart” would like it to go!  I suppose the anticlimactic arrival of the Starfleet Symbol seemed wrong…"Damn-it Jim"...this was a Star Trek Symbol.  Surely the people who would sell such an item would be sending it in envelope mapping out the universe of the Star Trek World.  Where was all the fanfare an item like this should be accompanied with?  I truly was shocked at the lack luster way my Mom’s gift arrived.

With Mother’s Day only about a week away, I was elated that my mom would be coming to my house for a visit!  I had planned to execute the presentation of her Mother’s Day gift with great precision.  While she was in my house, hugging and doting on her precious grandchildren, I would sneak out of the house, clean her back car window and apply the vinyl treasure!  Then I would take her to the car (blind folded, of course) only to reveal her newly-acquired acceptance into the Starfleet family then drive her off to the lunch of her choosing, at warp speed!  Everything went according to plan except, when I removed the blind fold my Mother’s sweet and loving expression wasn't quite the reaction I had in my mind.  She was happy and loved it, but something kept her from the overly zealous reaction I knew would be more typical of the “Trekkie” I knew my Mom to be!  What was it????  Perhaps she wanted a BIGGER Starfleet emblem, or maybe the color wasn't quite the shade she would like it to be?  Thoughts started pouring through my mind but in that instant, my Mom grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “I love it!  Thank you Geenie!”  The reassuring hug and quick takeoff for our lunch destination persuaded me not to think about it again … that is until my sweet brother-in-law kindly pointed out that my Mother was driving around with the Starfleet emblem upside down!

Blonde qualities are not limited to people with blonde hair…in this case my hair color guided me in my extensive planning and plotting about the presentation of the gift,  and complete inattention to how the gift should be placed.  Imagine the wave of heat my body experienced at the realization of my mistake when my Brother-in-law, who is a very detail-oriented person, chuckled under his breath and noted my Mom had put her Starfleet symbol upside down.  My gracious Mother had known of my blonde blunder and didn't say a thing to me!  In my defense, I thought the symbol was supposed to be an artistic expression of the letter “V"…for "Vulcan" or "Victory" over the Klingon's!  I thought christening my Mom's vehicle with that type of emblem would be to admit our love of the Vulcans...her car had been Vulcanized.  Obviously my Star Trek knowledge was limited...that, coupled with my love for my Mom and enthusiasm for her gift completely overruled any forethought that there may be a specific way the Starfleet symbol should be pointing...perhaps it shouldn't be headed toward the bumper of my Mother's car!

I wondered why, when I removed the blind fold from my Mother's eyes, her head tilted slightly to one side to get a good view of her vinyl surprise...it all made sense now! What also made sense was my Mother, trying so hard not to ruin my excitement, was gracious and kind all while the veins in her body (that most assuredly carried part-Vulcan blood) were working twice as hard as usual!  That white vinyl Starfleet emblem, which thanks to a loving and gracious brother, now graces all of my Mom's children's (and grandchildren's) vehicles...and to my urging, ALL emblems have been placed upside down.  We have ALL been Vulcanized (okay at least that's what I'm calling it!)

What does the Starfleet emblem mean, you may ask?  As a sweet sister recently looked it up to educate me in Star Trekkism, it is representative of the Starfleet Commanding Officer who embodies leadership and honor.  Leadership and honor...in the face of trial and frustration for challenges untold (or Starfleet symbols placed upside down by mistake) a gracious and dignified way of handling things.  I find this quite a fitting emblem to be associated with my Mom!  So Mom, if you see any of us driving around with those Starfleet emblems upside down on the back window of our cars...Remember, "We have been...and always shall be...your friend!" \V/

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Integrity....by Marlene Terry

Integrity's more than just a noble word,
For it's secret comes straight from the heart.
It tell us, "GO ON" for more than the extra mile, 
Giving all, and doing our part!

It means that our word, is worth more than gold,
When we deal with the world or a friend,
It  means not complaining, when the task grows hard, 
Always striving and enduring to the end.

It makes us kneel down at the end of the day,
With gratitude and humility so strong,
And then thank God for the trial we all share,
And admitting, YES, sometimes we're wrong.

It's knowing why we're here, they trying each day, 
In the face of mass confusion and strife,
To remember the example that for us was set,
By our Savior so we might have life.

It's ever so fragile and fleeting and then gone,
When the pressure we allow to close in,
But only in danger when we choose not to try,
Then with courage, we go forth, on to WIN.

Integrity's more than, just a noble word
Though our souls, grown nobler with each test.
It's doing and caring, standing up for what's right, 
Every day, every way to DO OUR BEST!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chosen...by Verl Terry

As I have thought back, 53 years now, regarding Marlene and her life with our family and myself, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I had chosen one of God’s choicest daughters to be my wife and mother to eight children.  What is really comforting is she chose me also to be her “Superman” as she stated in one of her before mentioned blogs.

Marlene loved movies. She especially loved movies that had anything to do about space (Star Trek), Romance/Comedy (Romancing the Stone) and other great stories that deal with family and love.  I would like to try and paint a picture for you and put my memories of my sweet wife, my sweetheart, mother, teacher and wonderful grandmother into a movie trailer for you.

I met Marlene at a dance in Logan, Utah at Utah State University.  She was wearing a bright red dress.  This was her uniform for the Sparta Pep Club from South Cache High School.  She performed marching and dancing programs at half time at the football and basketball games. Man what a knockout and a beautiful woman I thought she was. …She was a gorgeous lady with olive skin, black hair, large brown eyes-that when she looked at you she could melt your heart, and she had a gorgeous figure.  I was very proud to be her partner at that dance and had a wonderful time.  As the night came to an end and being an evening I enjoyed immensely, I wondered if I would ever see her again?

Like a “dummy”, I didn’t ask her for her phone number. But guess what?  The very next day I saw her and her friend dragging Main Street in Logan.  We followed them to the Arctic Circle drive-in.  I asked Marlene and her friend if they would come in with me for a “Coke date.”  They said, “yes” and we enjoyed visiting, laughing about the dance the night before and how “by accident” here we were meeting up on the very next day.  In my heart, I never believed it was by accident. …It was meant to be.  As we continued to visit, I became more nervous as I wanted to pop what I thought was the golden question at that time in my life, “ Will you go out with me on an ‘official’ date and introduce me to your family?”

Her reply was an excited, “YES!” …Can’t tell you exactly what a “pitter-pat” of the heart is but I believe that is what I experienced that day.

I was nervous the whole day before our date.  Meeting her parents and her family was a really scary thing for me.  I don’t know why I was so nervous?  Her Father, James Kelly, treated me like a son almost immediately and as I got to know him found out we had a lot in common.  We both loved the outdoors including hunting, fishing, riding horses and just a common love of God’s creations or the outdoors.  

Marlene’s Mother, Hattie, was a bit more skeptical and concerned about me. After all I was from Nevada where there where “lots of young men who were gamblers, card sharks and womanizers!” …Makes me laugh just thinking about it.  After several months of dating, family picnics, movies, dinners etc., Hattie finally started to relent her fears and showed a very special and genuine kindness that I had only known in my own Mother.  Hattie became, and still is even with her passing back in 1991, a very special and beautiful woman to me.

Dating in Logan was a wonderful experience. We would go to Logan Canyon next to the first dam on the Logan River.  Picnics, playing in the water, talking about our future, fishing, sunsets, the mountains and the beginning of the night with the heavens glowing were just a few of the activities Marlene and I enjoyed together.  

Time. …It was really hard for me to take Marlene home at the appointed time.  Time seemed to be in our way because we enjoyed being with each other so much and time always flew by when we were together.  However, I was always prompt in returning Marlene to her home minutes before the hour she was expected so I didn’t ruin the trust I had built with her family but especially her Mother.  When I was not with her time stood still. …And here I am again waiting on “TIME” to be with my sweetheart again.

There was one night I recall my ‘51 Merc wouldn’t start. It was just minutes after the appointed hour to have Marlene home. We got to a phone as quickly as possible and called Marlene’s Mother to let her know of our dilemma.  It appeared that the battery was dead. So I called one of my college buddies to come and give us a jump-start.  …I’m sure we caused the battery to go dead by listening to Lucky Lager Music Time on my radio. It was one of our favorites and always brings back such fond memories.

The weeks of dating flew by and I returned to Ely, Nevada, to work for Kennecott Copper Company.  During that time, Marlene would write to me three times a week. She expressed her feelings very well but due to my in abilities to express myself, I would only write two or three letters a month.   With phone calls costing a lot back in those days since Marlene and I would talk for hours at times, we deemed it was finally time for her to also meet my family.  …She arranged for a bus ride to Ely and I must admit, I COULD NOT wait to see her.  I was really excited to have my family meet her and see, as I did, what a wonderful and beautiful person she was not only on the outside but within her beautiful heart and soul.

The day of her arrival finally came and I couldn’t wait to embrace her and tell her how much I missed her.  She looked beautiful, as always, and in my heart I KNEW I was going to ask her to be my wife. My family loved Marlene and told me so.   Her beauty. …Her sense of humor. …Her wit and charm. …Just her ability to love easily won the hearts of my family very quickly.   As time once again flew by while she was there, I was saddened and dismayed that she had to return to Logan to be with her family.

During the next few months, I worked hard so I could buy and chose the perfect engagement ring fit for a queen and planned a trip to Logan, during the Christmas Holiday, to see her and ask for her hand in marriage.  Of course as tradition would have it, that also included asking her Father for her hand.   They were both elated when I finally did ask and I was a very happy man.

The night I asked for Marlene’s hand and the night I gave her the engagement ring was a very exciting time in my life.   I was nervous all day and I planned to take her to the same location that we had spent so many other magical moments together…just under the dam on the river and up in the mountains.  
As I fumbled in my pockets to find the ring I had placed there, I finally was able to grab it and with much excitement, put the ring on her finger and asked her to marry me.  She was in tears and said, “YES” without hesitation. What a wonderful experience for me and for her as we were both overwhelmed with joy and with happiness.

Marlene CHOSE to be a great example in the lives of many and she recently was chosen by her Heavenly Father to return home where she can do much good for those spirits in Heaven and also still influence her family here on earth.  Her example, her ability to teach and her wonderful ability to write have touched many who have known her or who have simply been able to read one of her columns. 

Marlene has such a beautiful spirit and was so full of life and I now know that she is experiencing all that God offers and sees the full purpose of the plan of salvation.  Her legacy of love in this life will continue to inspire her husband, her family and all those that knew her for years to come. 

I am so thankful on this day to have CHOSEN Marlene as my dear wife, my confidant, and my best friend so that we could share our lives together here on earth.  She will be dearly missed and is forever greatly appreciated by all who knew her.

...'Til we meet again “Sweetheart.”

Your loving, caring and humble “Superman”…Verl