Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Continuing story.....

Silly joke just passed to me from Kevin: How does a doctor know what to do for swine flu versus bird flu? If you have swine flu, he gives you an oinkment. If you have bird flu, he gives you tweetment. GRRRROAN!

Ok, back to the May family.

Both lost their spouses in the month of March 1964.

At the time, Paul was 31 and on the high council. After considering his options, he told his Stake Pres (on a Sunday)he would be moving back to Burley, where his mom was caring for the new baby. That same night friends called him to attend a "fireside" just to get out of the house. It turned out to not be a fireside at all, but a set-up to meet Sharon, who was similarly conned by the same friends. Though not a bit interested romantically, they did find their common grief as a talking point. On Monday evening they talked until 1:30AM. On Tuesday evening they talked until 5AM. In retrospect, both say it was a relief to find someone who understood so clearly their devastation. On Wednesday night they went to a movie and he kissed her. On Thursday night he proposed and she said yes. By the end of the week, they considered themselves engaged.

Family reactions were not positive. His mother (who had bonded with the newborn and did not want to give her up): "You two are too dumb to care for this baby, let alone 7 children." Her mother: "You are being impulsive and stupid." Her former father-in-law, who turned out to be the beneficiary on his son's $10000.00 life insurance policy and who had hoped to step in as a father figure to Sharon'children, refused to share even a dime of the insurance.

Paul and Sharon married anyway, mid-summer 1964 and proceeded to move their 7 children into his 2-bedroom home. She got pregnant immediately, had six more children plus numerous miscarriages up until age 48. She continued her nursing career. He was an engineer and all-around fix-it guy. Together they raised their kids + whoever else needed raising. They've been married 45 years now. Twelve years ago, as a retirement project, they bought the ranch, with it's old farmhouse and a collection of rickety log out-buildings. Slowly they have repaired, built, added on, and improvised until now they are booked solid from June 15-Aug 15 with massive reunion groups. Their own descendants can come home and all the g-kids have room to run and beds to sleep in.

One note of sadness. On the 14th anniversary of the earthquake, Sharon's oldest daugher was killed in a car wreck.

So I had to ask, "Weren't there any adjustments with a courtship so brief?" "Heck Yes!" Sharon replied. "I used to wake up in Paul's arms crying because I missed Richard. When that happened we would get out of bed, get out the movie projector, and watch the 2 reels of 8mm film I salvaged from my home." (which contained brief snippets showing Richard)

I could go on and on. These are people you have to meet. He reminds me of a white-haired apostle Holland.

Grandma Ison says we should have the next reunion in 2011. Whadya think? The May Family Ranch would bankrupt our reunion fund. On the other hand, we sisters could have an affordable writer's retreat and probably not write even a sentence. You come too, Melanie.

Stay tuned for Part C. I'm not done with anniversary stories.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lightning, earthquake, true love & a chef!

Congrats to Angela on your new blog. New to me anyway.

I have skipped FHE on the lofty pretense of not spreading my cold about--a cold which I didn't have yesterday. Grrr. Anyway I took down the Halloween decorations and am supposed to be in bed, but Angela's blog distracted me.

How much anniversary can I write about in less than 30 minutes? Hang on......

Look up the May Family Ranch (Clayton, ID) on the net. Read every page and then save your dollars. What a grand Ison reunion we could have there! They can sleep 85 people and handle 200 (with tents or trailers). That's where we went.

We stayed in the big house/B&B, guests of Paul & Sharon May and "their" chef. Get this--Robert, the chef, was a nonpaying friend of the family, just moved down from Alaska. Robert is Japanese and has cooked under or with every big name chef you can think of. He's been on Iron Chef teams, taken classes from Julia Child, competed all over the world. Normally Sharon May does the cooking for her guests, but he was there and itching to be in the kitchen. The only restriction she put on him was "don't buy more food. Just use what's in the pantry." He cooked not only breakfast for us, but dinners too. What the man could do with a can of green beans and the spices in her cupboard!! HE said the seasonings must never overwhelm or disguise the flavor. "How do you know which and what and how much to use?" He couldn't explain. He just knew.

On the night he cooked trout, I begged to watch since I love fish and always ruin it. All four burners were occupied. Three vegetable dishes going, plus a pan to carmelize onions, truckloads of butter, great splashes of extra virgin olive oil. Do you dip fish in a pan of mere milk and dredge in mere flour? NO. There must be curry, oregano, garlic, parmesan, a variety of pepper powders and green bits of this and that--each step in the process narrated with, "Is this not nice? This is lovely. This is beautiful. This will be perfect." He literally worshipped the food with his hands and words and eyes. He had no sense of humor whatsoever. I don't mean he was mean. I mean he was reverent and this was no place to crack jokes about too many zucchinis in the world. He regretted he was serving family style as opposed to plating the food. And you felt as you ate (with him eating right next to you) a lack of adequate adjectives to describe the pleasure. shoot me, but it was impressive.

Now, back to the Mays, Paul & Sharon. Between them, they had 13 children, 3 Indian Placement students, exchange students every year, plus a 6-member Vietnamese family for several weeks. They've never let the beds get cold, so they don't treat you as a paying guest. You're family. Thus we learned their unbelievable life stories.

At age 15, Sharon May was at a girls camp outside of Driggs when a thunder storm came up. Lightning struck the tree under which she and several girls were eating lunch. Four girls and one adult woman leader died. She herself suffered burns on the bottom of her feet, at every rivet point on her jeans, and on her right hip where a flashlight was stuffed in her pocket. The two girls on sitting on either side of her were some of those who died. What she remembers is waking on her stomach, with face in the dirt, feeling overwhelmingly sleepy. The lone Priesthood leader, who was knocked unconscious himself for a time, had to virtually perform triage on the mountain--sending some girls down for help, building a fire to keep the living/injured (8 or 9 girls) from further shock, and staying until men rode horses up to carry out the dead. Boy scouts climbed the mountain and improvised stretchers from logs and blankets. Sharon remembers being carried down and feeling scared because the climb up was so rocky steep, she wondered how they would get her safely down in the mud and rain.

At age 27, she was living in Valdez Alaska with her first husband and 3 little children. He made a living operating a tourist fishing boat, but supplemented with occasional longshoreman duties when cargo ships docked. On Good Friday, March 1964 he was on the dock unloading when the 9.0 earthquake hit. The dock, everyone on it, and a fish cannery disappeared into the bay forever. She was at work--a nurse--when the hospital walls split open and black sludge sewage spilled through. Her children, in the care of a babysitter, survived being thrown across a developing fissure when escaping their home, but the babysitter broke ribs and a leg attempting to jump it.
The quake lasted 5 minutes and the contents of her home were destroyed in the 4 ensuing tsunami waves that hit over the next 24 hours. Four days post-quake, as a shell-shocked new widow, still wearing the same clothes, the church flew she & her children home to her mother in SLC. Thirty three people died in Valdez, only 2 bodies recovered. That was the end of Alaska for her.

But the story gets better.

In the same month, Paul May, living in Granger, UT lost his wife to heart problems one month after she gave birth to their 4th child, a premature 2lb baby. The baby went to live with his mother while he regrouped with his children.

Whoa.....I've got to go to bed. Stay tuned for Part B.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bang! Bang!

I've never seen a gun in real life, never touched a gun, never shot one. When the guys in our singles ward heard this, they determined to "give Sister Nelson a proper education" in the sport of target shooting.

Thus Kevin and I joined 4 young adult gun lovers + our 77-yr-old ward clerk at the George Nourse outdoor gun range on Labor Day for a morning of bang-banging.

I was shocked. How many guns does a person need to have? How about 6 or 7 each, some inherited from their fathers, but most purchased at $450.00 each, at least. Then there's the bullets, ranging from $1.00 each to a box of 50 for $20.

So anyway, they set up targets by taping paper bull-eyes to cardboard boxes, weighted the boxes with rocks and we were in business for the next two hours.

Clip-loading: Hurts,pinches, requires some finger & hand strength.

Aiming: Right eye is useless, so that means shooting left-handed. Left hand has had a
tremor for several years.

Pulling triggers: No apparent strength in my left hand. Pulling, pulling, pulling, cringing and eyes mostly closed. Hey, why isn't this thing working? Then BANG!
I have shot my first gun--a magnum something or other. Frankly it looked like a toy, but the noise--OUCH! Yes I was wearing earplugs, but still it reminded me of a crack of thunder directly overhead. Physically painful in the ear.

So I shot half a dozen type of guns, ranging from a stubby handgun to magnums, glocks,
military rifles. Rifles are heavy, especially since I was using my weaker left side. I couldn't get through a 15-bullet clip without resting.

What did I hit? Hard to know. The bullets ripped through the boxes and raised alot of dust in the distant dirt.

Did you know the average handgun requires 6 lbs of finger pressure on the trigger, but a hair-trigger guns requires only 2lbs pressure? These are supposed to be strictly police-issue guns, though Bro. Barton managed to snag one years ago and was happily ping-pinging away.

Did you know the difference between regular and hollow-point bullets? Regular bullets leave the same size hole both entering and exiting the target. Hollow-points spread on impact and tear a much larger exit hole.

Did you know guns spit out shells as you shoot and they are HHHHHOTTT! I didn't know that until one landed on my neck and hung up on my shirt. I did a little dance of surprise with loaded gun in left hand. ouch, ouch and brushed it off with right hand. It raised a microscopic blister which I was proud to show off at work the next day. "Look at my wound from target shooting. Cool, huh?" By the way, as I am doing this dance, B.A. tells me, "Sis Nelson, When not actually shooting, keep your gun pointed at the ground instead of waving about towards whoever you're talking to."

The blister was not my only wound. I kept removing my earplugs to hear instructions. Bad idea. Now my right ear "hears" with the effect of being underwater. After one week, still no improvement.

Now that I have shooted, I can't see the attraction of going again. The boys love the sport enough to buy numerous guns, truckloads of ammo, concealed weapon permits, and they carry loaded guns everywhere, except church. They also love to watch violent movies and TV shows which, in my opinion, creates a mental paranoia of trouble lurking at every corner. Not ironically, each of these kids are stunted in post-mission life, doing nothing to further their education or marital prospects.

Today at church, B.A. approached me with great enthusiasm. "Sis Nelson, you've got to come with us again. This time we'll teach you how to shoot western rifles." (Think Matt Dillon and Gunsmoke.)

There you have it. I have lost my innocence. By the way, I also shot gangster style.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Holy haircut!

I suffered a new haircutter person this week. My former cutter of many years retired due to cancer. I decided to take a risk, spend more money than the usual $15 and try out the place getting all the publicity nowdays. Studio D, situated halfway between home and work. I made an appointment with Sarah somebody, the telephone Enthusiasm Queen. YES, she would love to touch my thin, fine, gray hair. OUCH!!! $35.00 minus $10.00 for being a new client. OK so---I walk in and right away notice:

1. My $35 will be paying for the gorgeous layout, decor, and streamside setting
2. My $35 will be paying for the drinks they keep plying while I wait for Sarah
3. My $35 is paying for a shampoo/conditioning/head massage that takes twice as long as I spend in the shower daily. But I concede the massage just might be worth it.
4. I am decades older than anyone (client or stylist) in the building.
5. The woman Sarah has just styled looks like a skunk. As in bright, bright blonde hair on top. Black, black roots & underneath hair. Sarah has evidently also fried the blonde parts with a straightener giving the top tuft a straw-like appearance. But the customer is happy and still preening before the mirror as she pins her hair into a perfect bump-top ponytail.

"What-the-heck" I think as I unfold the 2 photographs I pulled off the internet the night before. Go ahead, Sarah. Try and make my hair look like an approximation of these pictures. Sarah studies the pictures and says "mullet" under her breath. She questions me carefully about length of hair on my neck and here's where I make my fatal mistake. I tell her the length I want, but forget to mention how much my hair shrinks from wet to dry. WHACK go her scissors and there will never be a mullet again. Me and my naked neck are still in shock. However I do like the rest of the style and other people seem to be complimentary. Sarah used the straightener appliance on me too, so I have been using Arielle's here at home. I'm able to do a decent job of looking more contemporary, spikey, strawish or whatever.

Will I go back? I'm on the fence, mainly because of the price. By the way, this is such a fancy schmancy salon, they even scanned my internet photos into their computer, expecting they have snagged a lifetime customer.

Wouldn't it be great if we had a functional camera right now?
Have I explained the latest about my work, the economy, and how CHI plans to handle things? Here goes.

After months and months of emails from CHI headquarters bemoaning their sorry state and how employment freezes, retirements, and possible layoffs are the order of the day, we are notified of a special meeting on May 1. On May 1, we meet for a power point presentation where we learn:

1. One year earlier, before the economy tanked, CHI paid $6 million for a consultant group to study the revenue-generating process in CHI's 81 hospitals.
2. The consultancy says CHI is missing out on a considerable chunk of cash because of poor registration procedures when a patient checks in.
(I won't explain that, but it is a legitimate problem area.)
3. Registration departments need to be trained and trained and trained. (Never mind that this is an area of high turnover because of the in-your-face-stress of handling emergency situations. You can train and train all you want and the next day, you might have all new employees because this month's hires gave up.)
4. In order to accomplish all this needed training, CHI will divide their 81 hospitals into 7 geographic area and HIRE 26 NEW EXECUTIVES to
administer the training.
5. How will the new exec's be paid? Why of course--with all the additional money generated by improved registration procedures.
6. There will be no layoffs for us.

Listening to this, I'm running a simple math equation in my head. X (new money generated) - Z (salaries of new execs) = $0 Why not just improve registration processes and make more money? You gotta love consultants. If they don't stir the pot, they're not doing their job. But at least I'm not losing my job. I just have to work harder to pay for more middlemen.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ode to the kitty

One of our cats was killed by a pitbull yesterday. She (the cat) was on the porch watching Kevin mow the lawn. Kevin saw the dog come from nowhere, running into our open garage to explore. The cat sort of stalked towards the garage to keep her eyes on the dog. The dog saw her and gave chase. She ran into the garage where he snapped her up, shook her, and came out with her still in his jaws. Kevin grabbed the garden hose and hosed him down. The dog dropped the cat and ran down the street.

She wasn't torn up, but she's an old frail cat and she was obviously dying. He called me out wondering what to do. She just laid on her side moaning. Within minutes she died. Kevin wrapped and put her in the garbage can.

Right then Chanel arrived from Boise for her family b-day party. This cat was her childhood pet, born in 1996.

We went in the house crying & Kevin continued mowing. About 10 minutes later a lady was walking her min-pin across the street from our house. The pitbull showed up again, spun the lady, grabbed her dog, shook it, and ran. Traffic stopped in both directions and Kevin called the police. Police & animal control officer arrived. The min pin lost a piece of one haunch and it's back skin was hanging. It wasn't dead but wouldn't let anyone touch it.

While the police took Kevin's & the lady's story, the pit bull owner showed up. He was a kid in his 20's who said the dog had escaped his yard through his open garage and had only been gone 10 minutes before coming home.
The owner was very upset to hear what the dog had done, but he signed papers to have it put down Monday morning and animal control hauled him off. Meanwhile the min-pin was rolled into a carrier box and taken to a vet.

That's the story. We're surprised by our grief for an animal and to have a member of the family gone so suddenly and so strangely. She was our bulemic cat whom I thought would die from old age or starvation eventually. Never occurred to me that sitting on the porch was dangerous. Our big cat, who is 2 years older and never cared for the other that much, has paced the floors tonight.

I will not miss Pooperki's carpet messes or her Siamese voice, but she was very affectionate and good to have on a lap when watching TV. She liked us. The big cat barely tolerates us.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Playing the odds

Prequel to the story: I work for Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), a corporation which owns many,many hospitals all over the nation. My office is called a central billing office (CBO) because we bill for 8 hospitals. CHI has 3 CBOs in Nampa, Fargo, and Kentucky. My particular billing niche is commercial insurances such as all the Blue Cross plans + several dozen others insurances. Other coworkers bill the Medicare/Medicaid plans. And a third section of our office bills patients. All together we are expected to collect between $33-$36 million/monthly. The hospitals set the target--this is what it takes to keep their doors open, payrolls solvent, and capitol improvement projects funded. Generally we hit the goal, but there have been months (spread over the 8 years I've worked there) where we've missed by as much as
$4million in a month.

SO last week an email came from headquarters bemoaning the sorry state of the economy.
same old, same old. i.e. CHI's stock market investments are shriveling (just like everybody else's) so they can't use market profits to compensate for our collection shortfalls. With so many workers losing their jobs/insurances, patient censusses are down plus it's virtually impossible to get patients to pay big chunks of money such as an insurance company would.

Bottom line: There will be layoffs at the CBO. When or who? Nobody knows. There are 60 people in my office and management could spin the dice any which way. Going by seniority, I win. (Eight years is an eternity in my job.) Going by productivity level, I win again. Going by seniority in my particular dept, dicey. Going by steadfast personality (as opposed to drama, drama, drama) I really win. Going by cutest-grandchild-ever picture displays, I WIN BIG TIME!!!

Odds are I will stay employed. If not, I plan to turn alot of cartwheels to celebrate my freedom the first week. After that I guess I'll wake up & wonder why I didn't get
eyelids done and all those other surgeries that would have been free under my ins plan.

Stay tuned.............