ice dams

In the late Fall of 2006 the roof on the addition to our house started to leak a little bit as we were heading out to church on a lovely Sabbath morning. "We'll check it out later when we get home," said the husband (and the wife agreed).

Three hours later we came home to a huge hole in the roof where the soggy drywall had fallen down onto the carpet and spread a mess everywhere. About six months later my hubby and our dear friend Stephen finally got up there and fixed things up (we had temporarily patched it through the Winter). They not only replaced the drywall, but they ripped the whole area out all the way to the sky. It needed to be done over completely.

When the initial damage had been done Geo climbed onto the roof to find the cause of the problem. "Ice dams," he said to me as I waited for him just inside the glass doors. Ice dams? I had no idea what he meant. But then he explained how the roof had been pitched too low years ago when the addition had been done, and because of that low pitch the water moved off too slowly, sometimes refreezing right at the edge of the roof line. This refreezing would cause a back up when more snow and melt and refreezing happened, etc, etc. So, essentially our roof had been pooling up for weeks with the early snow we had been getting. Who knew?

We have mentioned those ice dams here and there whenever we get snow. A few times over this Christmas break Geo has made the familiar climb to the roof to scrape it off so that the dams can't even get started. There is real wisdom to preventative action. We know they might return and we do everything we can to stop them.

There is always some kind of ice dam rearing its cold and nasty head, but my goal is chip it away before the pooling does more damage than it needs to. There's my metaphor. brrrrrr

Musical Monday: And So It Goes

I decided to leave this one unspoiled and simple. It is a favorite of mine from Billy Joel and I thought it would be a good one for the blog.

Just a disclaimer here: I am happily married and an optimistic person (see... I even inserted a picture of me smiling to prove it). It's just that for some reason I find myself drawn to songs that are contemplative and sometimes even sad. Actually, I think there are more songs that fit into this category than the happy, smiley one. It's fine with me, because I think that maybe deep down we all have a place where we bury feelings of loneliness or insecurity.

So, here is the selection for today. Enjoy!

Kazzy's voice has been silenced by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(see the details here). Sorry you can't listen to her sing directly. But send her a message and she'll try to work something out.

The End

of 2008...

* I rediscovered blogging after attempting it a couple of years ago at a different location.

*I spent the entire year not seeing my handsome oldest son.

*The basement flooded.

*We got new carpet throughout the whole house because the basement flooded and the insurance company gave us a good pay out (because the basement flooded).

*We bought new furniture for the living room because we sent all of the old stuff down to the basement after getting the new carpet installed (because the basement flooded).

*We changed over to natural gas in the kitchen and got a new stove and really space age cool microwave after we took some money out of savings to finish updating the upstairs (after the basement flooded and the above improvements were made).

*Our second son earned his Eagle Scout award.

*He also applied to, and was accepted by, one of his college choices.

*I started working with the cub scouts and really enjoy it.

*Everyone in the family officially is a cell phone carrier.

*Geo's car broke down.

*Kazzy's SUV slid into a curb at 8 mph on some ice on Dec 23rd and is also in the shop getting a snapped off wheel replaced.

*Our insurance company that helped pay for our nifty new decor in the house is now going to pay for a nifty new wheel on the SUV.

*We are somehow managing even though we don't have a car right now.

*I rediscovered my love of singing.

*I actually have enjoyed playing Little Big Planet on the ps3 (and I am NOT a video gamer).

*I love my husband more than ever.

*My kids are even more important to me than they ever were, for some reason.

Just a smattering of events around here during these past twelve months. What is something you will remember about 2008?

the man with the chocolate voice

The call went something like this...

Perry: Hey there! Merry Christmas!

Me: Son, is that you?

Perry: Mom, I can talk to you twice today. Once before we go give service, and once at the end of my day. I have to go study now, but I will call in two hours and you can call me later when it is Christmas morning for you and Christmas night for me, okay?

Me: Okay! That sounds great!

Perry: I love you, Mama.

Me: I love you too, Perry. Talk to you in a couple of hours.

Perry: Okay, talk to you soon.


Of course, we had two wonderful phone calls where he filled us in on all of the terrific experiences he is having in Mombasa, Kenya. We chatted on speakerphone and sometimes more privately before hanging up for the four and a half months until Mothers' Day.

My 5' 10" 120-lb son (he was skinny before leaving for Africa, but is even skinnier now) has what has been referred to in our home as a "chocolate voice". Girls always commented on it, and men and women we attend church with have told him how distinctive his deep voice is.

I might have a few bags of chocolate on my kitchen counter, but I tasted the best kind of chocolate today when I got to speak with my boy. Life is good.

Musical Monday: Halleluiah

For the past twelve or thirteen years we have attended a music party every December where there is delicious food and wonderful company and cool music. This is the way it works: everyone brings a CD or an mp3 player with a song of their choosing which is played while the rest of us sit around and appreciate it. I have been introduced to some pretty incredible stuff that I am sure would have passed me by had I not been to this party. This year I especially enjoyed a track from Grace Potter.

Only the husband of the hosting couple and I usually perform something. Most of the time separate, but this year I called him a couple of days in advance and asked if he could play Leonard Cohen's Halleluiah on guitar for me to sing to. He was excited and it went well. After the party was winding down I asked if my husband could record him with his voice recorder so that I could blog it for Musical Monday. I then brought the recording home and added my own track on top of it. I intentionally kept the background party noise because I thought it added some humaness.

So here is Halleluiah by Mark Fullmer and Kazzy. Merry Christmas to my bloggy friends, and keep a Halleluiah in your heart.

Kazzy's voice has been silenced by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(see the details here). Sorry you can't listen to her sing directly. But send her a message and she'll try to work something out.

hot and cold

It has been about 25 degrees here all week, and when this weather hits I find myself dreaming about sunny North Carolina beaches that I have visited regularly since I was a kid. I don't mind the snow or the cold too much. I actually love it around Christmas. But I am already starting to predict my January blues. Does anyone else suffer from that? I am not prone to depression or getting into a deep funk, but January feels about 57 days too long most years, and I am doing that daydreaming thing again.

Our last hurrah before my son came home and submitted his mission papers
Nagshead, NC 2007

But instead of spending the big bucks to buy plane tickets to a warm place as therapy, I do things like get a red stripe in my hair to liven things up. Heather of the EO posted about coloring her hair and I wanted to chime in and agree with her. It is fun to have some way to brighten things up! I made sure to ask the hairdresser if I was too old to make this bold move and she just laughed.

How did she know I was doing it no matter what she said?

now and then

The husband stumbled on this photo last night and the first thing I thought when I saw it was, My blog friends have GOT to see that!

As much as older people sometimes dismiss modern technology as an emotionless, cold way to communicate, too many of us younger people dismiss the old ways. Hand-written letters and journals still have their place and purpose. Just get your hands on an old letter from a grandmother and you'll know of what I speak.

I am not sure if this antique computer is functional, but doesn't it make you think? How about an old-fashioned challenge to write (yes, with pen and paper) someone a letter this holiday season? We can do it. I think the pointy part with the ink coming out goes down toward the paper...

Musical Monday: In The Bleak Midwinter

This week I invited Juliana, from True Confessions of Mormon Mother, to record with me. Bleak Midwinter is a great piece of music with moody lyrics that set a great Winter scene, but also deliver a message of hope as we sing about giving our hearts over to the Savior.

It was fun to have Juliana over for the afternoon. We met blogging just a few months ago, and it seemed appropriate to come together for a little project. I am hoping to collaborate here and there. Anybody out there want to do some long-distance recording with me? So, here are the lyrics, and who sang what...

In The Bleak Midwinter

JULIANA (KAZZY on harmony)
In the bleak Midwinter, frosty wind made moan.
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.
Snow had fallen, snow on snow. Snow on snow.
In the bleak Midwinter, long, long ago.

Our God, Heav'n cannot hold him, nor earth sustain.
Heaven and earth
shall flee away, when He comes to reign.
In the bleak Midwinter, a stable place sufficed
The Lord, God Almighty. Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there.
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air.
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the Beloved, with a kiss.

JULIANA (KAZZY on harmony)
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wiseman, I would do my part.
Yet, what I can I give Him.
Give Him my heart.

Click here

Kazzy's voice has been silenced by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(see the details here). Sorry you can't listen to her sing directly. But send her a message and she'll try to work something out.

Sent at 10:12 PM on Sunday

the sacred elephant

We attended a white elephant party tonight that we have been going to for about twelve years or so now. Usually my husband and I come home with the cheesiest gifts that came to the party, disguised in pretty paper. Our past winners have been a single diaper, a container of gel that made some pretty crude noises when you stuck your finger in it, and an extreme close-up photo of one of the couples that also comes to the party annually (we actually have some devious plans for the photo for next year, like t-shirts, etc., even though the shot shows straight up their noses).

It was interesting to learn about the history of the "white elephant" tradition. Since white elephants were sacred in Asia, disgruntled kings and nobles would strategically give them to lesser nobles, who were obligated to maintain them, often to their bankruptcy. A fascinating way to punish someone, don't you think?

So, as you punish someone this holiday season with a useless, trivial white elephant gift, just remember to try to do it with love and kindness. And make sure the camera is zoomed in and angled right up your nose.

phone phrustration

I got on the phone early this morning to make a car payment and my battery died right after I had already hit about 57 buttons to get me to the correct menu. Growling, I think I may have frightened my youngest son when I said through a clenched jaw how much I dislike those automated phone systems (I know this because as I grabbed my purse to leave for work he jumped up and opened the door for me and gave me a huge hug, sensing that I needed it).

Pulling up to my parking lot, which is only a mile from my house, I quickly tried again to make the call and make the payment. The zip code you just entered is not recognized in our system. What? So I entered my zip code again, only to be told the same nonsense about it being unrecognizable. Just then the bus with our little angels was getting ready to pull up to the school and I hurriedly hung up and decided to try again later. More growling ensued.

My lunch break always flies by as I attempt to get some errands done. So, as I was driving through town I tried again, and found that I had never set up to use my debit card on this system. There was the bus again, coming back with the afternoon kids. I am just not meant to own this car, I thought to myself!

So, just now I walked into the house, ready to bask in the few quiet moments before everyone else piles in, and I tried one more time. Finally my e-check went through and I am officially legal, as far as the car is concerned, but not without herculean effort on my part.

Now I have this insatiable craving to go on a nice long drive. Without my phone.

Musical Monday: A Duet with Myself

I have decided to give Musical Monday another try. I just downloaded a cool recording program tonight and had fun doing a couple of tracks. It's a bit rough, but I had a blast sitting in my bed singing!

The Friendly Beasts
is a Christmas song that many different artists have recorded, and I discovered it a couple of years ago. Last year we had our special ed kids hold up pictures of the animals as a recording played, and it was incredibly sweet. It is a new favorite of mine, and we are using it for our Christmas program again this year.

Sorry, you will need to click on the link below and download it. I am still trying to figure out an easier way to attach it here.


Kazzy's voice has been silenced by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act(see the details here). Sorry you can't listen to her sing directly. But send her a message and she'll try to work something out.

musings on a museum

Here is a photo of me hanging in the Museum of the Blogosphere

I am a bit of a museum nerd. Growing up just outside of Washington DC, I never realized how good I had it as a kid. We would go to the Smithsonian Institute for field trips. We would visit the Museum of Natural History, which was magical, with the gigantic mastodon in the middle of the main level, and with it's larger-than-life exhibits.

The National Archives which houses our country's most precious documents. The Air and Space Museum where I learned about magical flying machines and the development of the space travel program. Not to mention all of the national memorials at my fingertips sitting there proudly along the Potomac River. The Jefferson Memorial, the National Monument (which, when I was young, you could climb to the top of. *sigh*), the Lincoln Memorial, which is set so beautifully amongst trees and a reflecting pool. I still cry every time I read the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation which are carved into the granite walls beside Lincoln's Greek god-like, huge, seated statue.

Mount Vernon right down the highway, where my revolutionary crush, George Washington, lived. I love that man. My husband laughs at the way I almost swoon when I read about him and his part in our nation's history. Only a couple of hours away was Philadelphia. Eight hours, Boston. And the list goes on. Not to mention wonderful things I have been privileged to see in Europe.

We get perspective, not in an overly humbling way, like we might when we hear stories of sacrifices people have had to make, or when we hear about poverty-stricken countries. But we get the kind of perspective that says in our minds, Aren't you happy to be alive?

coincidental milestones

Today makes one year since I last saw my son. No tears here, at least not today. He feels good about his life. I feel good about him.

Forget yourself in serving others. Teach the gospel. Help single mothers garden. Clean hospital walls. Clean chicken coops.
A mother's wish. Leave your family for awhile and return two years later more of a man with a worldwide perspective. Learn to appreciate your blessings.

Today I also celebrate the 18th birthday of my next son. He is a joy. He is happy. He is helpful. He is optimistic.
I feel loved and lucky today. It is chilly and cloudy , but I am warm and sunny.

Miss Kazzy Speaks Her Mind

I found myself waking this morning with a sudden craving for a ride in the country, or a lesson in pruning roses, or even the prospect of attending a ball. Miss Delacourt and her companions have crept into my thoughts and decided to stay for awhile, and you won't find me objecting.

When my husband saw me standing in the middle of the kitchen reading this book, as I simultaneously made lunches for the kids, he knew something had reeled me in and was insistent on finding out what. Being an English professor he loves a good teaser, so I told him I was getting acquainted with a Spencer Tracy/ Katherine Hepburn duo in Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind.

One of the things I appreciate about this genre of British-set romance or parlor writing is the banter between the characters. It seems to be an art form that is lost on current writers, in general. But Heidi, or in keeping with the code of her characters, Mrs. Ashworth, gets it right in her book, without the dialogue ever seeming too stiff or forced. In Chapter Four there is a slight disagreement between the two main characters of Ginny (Miss Delacourt) and Sir Anthony when Ginny finally blurts out her distaste for her traveling companion. Anthony replies, "It does feel good to express one's feelings, does it not, Miss Delacourt?" And I found myself thinking Why yes, it does.

Mrs. Ashworth's sense of humor also shines through as she incorporates moments of hilarity. The one in particular that I found myself reading twice is found in the tenth chapter, when the romantic foil, Lord Avery, accidentally catches his golden locks on fire. I am using real restraint here in not quoting more from this passage. The beauty to Ashworth's humor is that it is not there solely as entertainment, but it is a clever way to develop her characters, which she does so well.

And what woman does not want a little Petruccio in her man? We see it here in Sir Anthony as he secretly begins to appreciate the Kate in Ginny. When he jerks her into his arms and she gasps in protest, only to find herself melting into him, I admit I put the book down to go and get a cold glass of water. And Anthony never feels overbearing, because we are also allowed to see his more tender side when he struggles with feelings of jealousy or regret. The romance is sweet, and each person involved gets to be true to themselves.

The supporting characters in Miss Delacourt were also very enjoyable as they became an important engine to the forward movement of the story. The Barringtons jumped off the page with their high drama and demanding personalities, and I enjoyed seeing the way that they incidentally, through their own character flaws, helped the story get where it needed to be. When Lucinda complains about her fat suitors sweating and creaking in their corsets it says so much more about her than it does about them. This is what supporting characters should do, and Mrs. Ashworth nailed it.

I enjoyed this book tremendously, and, as the dowager duchess says toward the end of the book, I never repeat myself. So let me say that Heidi Ashworth has had her own coming out party in Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind, and it is a coming out that even Miss Lucinda Barrington would be proud of.



maybe musical mondays in december?

in our service

It's not just anyone who has the protection of thirty nutcrackers at her disposal. They were making sure to keep watch in the living room so that no unannounced person could wander in and disturb our peace. They insured our tranquility and quiet for the evening, and they stood guard over our tree and slowly growing population of gifts under it.

My boys gave them their orders and they readily obeyed. Thank you to all of our kings, drummers, swordsmen, and soldiers. Now they stand at attention atop the piano, until we all leave tomorrow to our various destinations and they come down to resume their duties. Ah, the security of it all.