Life Renewed 2014-2015
The picture above was the view from my window in the post surgery wing of the Allen Pavilion. Three ½" incisions for laparoscopic surgical tools and a three inch incision above my navel where half of my large intestine and surrounding tissue, including 30 lymph nodes were removed, were the only signs of the surgery that took more than six hours.
Now and then I encounter elderly characters in fiction or essays who are portrayed as being filled with ennui, tired of life and kept from ending it only by fear. I think the authors must be relatively lacking elderly acquaintances and friends. As an old lady I've known many old people and they are usually less bored with life than most of the teen-agers I know. I admit to impatience with my ebbing strength and increasing folio of deviations from youthful health. I have so much I want to do and learn and less vigor to accomplish my projects such as building a 'three sisters' keyhole garden to replace the grass in my backyard. My problem with death is that it will end my work as an artist, at least for a while, and I won't be hugging grandchildren without a physical body to use. But since I believe that sometime after death I will receive a new and better version of my mortal body, I only fear the actual process of death. I truly relish the prospect of eternity to learn and work and love.
Faintness, fatigue and periodic painful episodes of what I identified as indigestion led me to suspect heart disease and diabetes were responsible. My lack of medical insurance aside from Medicare part a made me wary of getting involved in a search for answers. Finally, on October 18 my daughter Nancy, an MD, decided I should go to the emergency room. She suspected atrial fibrillation. She drove me to The Allen Wing of New York Presbyterian Hospital, a small hospital just south of Spuyten Duyvil Creek and The Bronx. Within minutes my pulse and blood pressure were being taken as I was admitted. Next I was led into a room where blood was taken and an EKG administered. Next I was led into a curtained area to wait on results of the various tests. Blood pressure normal, pulse normal, heart normal, but then the emergency room physician returned in something of a hurry. "We've found the problem. You have about 30% of normal hemoglobin and are severely anemic." I was given two units of blood then taken to a room. I discovered that my roommate was a Mormon woman from Puerto Rico named Liria Cruz-Pacheco and we enjoyed a lively conversation. When her problems with obtaining oxygen supplies were settled after a few days they brought in a young woman who had attempted suicide. She apparently resented the cheerful noises made by my visitors who included three granddaughters and a baby grandson with their assorted parents and requested a different room. She was taken to a room across the hall where the other patient moaned in evident pain or called for nurses. Before long she changed back to my room. Over the next few days I was given various tests includind a simultaneous endoscopy and colonoscopy. I was sufficiently aware to watch the monitor that showed the progress of the camera through my large intestine. I saw the narrowed opening and heard the radiologists confer about the blockage that prevented them from exploring any further. That night I was taken down to radiology again for a CT scan. An 'apple core'tumor, so named because the tumor left an apple core shaped opening less than a centimeter in circumference. I realized that my bouts of 'indigestion' resulted from temporary blockage. Surgery was recommended and I agreed. My son-i-law Lata, and his home teacher gave me a priesthood blessing. The tumor was causing bleeding and would soon close off my gut completely. I was taken to surgery on Friday evening,October 24. The anesthetist introduced himself and indicated the cross he wore around his neck. "I'll be praying for you." he said. Later, in the operating room, the nurses found that they had somehow misplaced a mat under me. They asked me to lift my hips and shoulders off the mattress at the same time so they could shift it down. I said I no longer levitated and I would lift my shoulders, then my hips. A few months later several of my young grandchildren demonstrated that they could balance on their heels and head with their bodies lifted. I'm simply not young and lithe enough. Meg came up from Virginia and waited through my operation, then sat up with me all night and chatted, sharply reducing my use of self administered morphia. I finally released her from my thrall and she was able to return to Nancy's apartment for sleep, returning later with avocados and sea weed to relieve my post surgery diet of 'clears' (a diet based on broth and jello). My attractive young surgeon stopped by on Sunday morning and said I was his favorite patient.
On Monday, two and a half days following my surgery I was released from the hospital with a few very small scars. The laparoscopic surgery had removed half of my large intestine from the exit of the small intestine to the center of the transverse section at the top of the square shaped loop, and much of the omentum with 30 lymph nodes and the associated blood vessels, all through a three inch long incision just above my navel. Several 1/2" incisions were made for various cameras and surgical tools including a stapler to join the edges of my shortened large intestine with the small intestine. I didn't feel the need to use the prescribed painkiller or laxative once I returned to the apartment. With a month old baby and a heart patient already in residence I knew I would have to see to my own needs, but I had not required nursing in the hospital. My recovery was rapid. I decided to use alternative methods to subdue whatever cancer may remain in my system. My doctor called with a pathology report and only three of the thirty lymph nodes removed showed signs of cancer.
Around a month after my surgery, Nancy, Miranda and I drove to Virginia to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. Rochelle flew down from Rochester. Meg and her family including Tara and David joined us at the home of my former husband Richard Chiu for the feast. Mary and her family stayed in New York City because Lata was on the heart transplnt list and needed to stay close to the hospital in case a donor was identified.
After I returned from Virginia in December of 2014 I visited my doctor and he recommended vitamin C but he didn't endorse any other plan for restoring my health. I did research on the Internet and after making the decision to first go through a period of cleansing that took about two months, I begin to use apricot seeds which provided a substance called Laetrile which was involved in some controversy years ago but which has a continued reputation for efficacy among alternative health practitioner. I also began to take Budwig formula; flaxseed oil in combination with cottage cheese and blueberries. I read that microgreens could be a good addition to my diet and I set up a growing station using available materials; a drying rack I had created for drying plums several years before, lights that I had originally purchased to put in my greenhouse. I purchased planting trays and seeds as well as seeding mats to complete the set up. I charted out the dates for starting seeds and carefully followed the procedures. Unfortunately I did not like the flavors of the microgreens provided in the kit I purchased. I began to use the same set up to grow seedlings to transplant into my greenhouse and I was able to grow tomato plants from seeds as well as parsley and lettuce. Unfortunately I didn't utilize the produce as successfully as I should have. Meanwhile I began to invite Lucinda's children to come up daily except for Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. I started to teach Adam Calvin and Jacqueline various sets of skills beginning with First Aid.
For several years I had planned to prune the plum tree in my backyard which created a mess every year since most of the fruit grew too high on the tree for me to reach it. I had taken my chainsaw in to be sharpened several years before that because of the illness I had not been able to achieve my ambitions finally I began to prune the branches so that the tree would not be any higher than 7 feet. I used to saw and the lopper to reduce the larger branches down until I had several piles of short bows and how large pile of branches that I felt I could feed into my small wood chipper. Rain intervened after I had to chip about half of the pile of branches and I was left with the yard in which a large pile of older branches and the new pile of green branches were dominant.
When Calvin dropped by and asked if I had any task that he could do in order to purchase books I thought of the many branches in my backyard and I asked him to take the pile of branches that I had intended to chip into the larger pile under the apricot tree. He did so very quickly and I realized that my grandchildren provided a resource for tasks I had delayed. I invited Calvin and Adam to come and help me clean up my backyard branches while I used the chainsaw to reduce the larger pieces of wood into the woodpile that could be burned. The two of them took smaller branches and put them in the back of the pickup truck. Eventually we took seven loads of branches to spring clean up containers that had been placed in Seven Peaks parking area. The two of them helped create a pallet of aluminum bars from an old tent that fit into the bottom of the slide tower I had created years before. They neatly stacked the wood under the slide tower and I found that some shutters I had purchased because I couldn't resist the price, fit neatly as closures in the openings on the tower, preventing rain or snow from dampening the wood. With the rewards of their labor I helped them purchase books and then a telescope from Amazon.com. Jacqueline wanted to do something to help and I realized that the long delayed task of cleaning up my work area could be greatly helped by engaging these three eager workers.
The spring cleanup containers had been moved from Seven Peaks but were in a new location not far away on a road called Timpview Drive. First we removed odd pieces of plywood I had accumulated while constructing various projects. Short pieces of hardwood and pine were put in a bucket for future projects such as building little cars or catapults. Eventually we worked our way down to the piles of sawdust that hid small objects such as screws. They combed through the sawdust with magnets and retrieved several pounds of assorted metal bits including screws, nails and tools. We filled old chicken feed bags with the remaining sawdust until an inch or so remained. I put a plastic grid that is usually used for florescent lights down on the floor and one of the children vacuumed through the grid to remove the sawdust and leave potentially clogging detritus behind. Within a day or so we took several loads of scrap wood and saw dust to the trash containers and I was left with a relatively clean work area. The children have also helped with pruning and other yard jobs.
Sam returned from his deployment in Djibouti and not long afterward his family made a trip west to visit us along with visits to Eliza in Florida and taking in the sights such as Grand Canyon and Yellowstone traveling as it were in the tracks of Eliza and Phillip's previous summer trip in 2014.
David decided to put his house on the market and asked if he and his family could live in the area downstairs. I agreed to the request and not long afterward Mary contacted me to ask if she could occupy the apartment when they moved west from New York City. The area is too small for two families and so Mary decided that when they came to Utah they would live with her in-laws. Mary and her family left New York City and spent a brief period with her father in Virginia then they drove to Utah and settled in West Jordan.
In May 2015 I was trying to show someone one of my websites and I discovered that it had been hacked. All of the images and links went to a Canadian pharmacy site that featured various brands such as Cialis and Viagra.
I contacted Bluehost which is the host of my websites and they put a stop to further activity however before long I discovered that the damage was profound. The advisor at bluehost said he had never seen a more extensive infection with over 50,000 files jammed into every site. They offered me a service to mend the damage for about $250 but I soon realized it would not do me any good. I had been the victim of a phishing scheme in which an email that purported to be from my host company was actually trying to get my information. The advisor at Bluehost was able to stop the damage but I had to go in and delete all my websites and recapitulate them. I currently had about 10 active websites that needed to be rebuilt. It took time and effort but fortunately I had sufficient backup files and there were some renovations that were necessary that I had delayed to that point.
We had started a little group of chickens in March 2014 just before I left for my first trip to New York that year and they were a good source of eggs for more than a year once they came into laying. Unfortunately raccoons intruded into their coop. Two were killed. I took the last one to Lucinda's house to join her little group of two. At first they were unfriendly to the new chicken but eventually they excepted her.
July 27 was a busy day. Sela's Tongan aunties had decided to provided her with a birthday party with all the bells and whistles even though two weeks it passed since she had her birthday party in Virginia. Richard and I drove up from Provo to attend the surprise birthday party which was attended by her many little time Tongan cousins. Tisha attended with her children Russell, Rudy and Hannah. To bounce houses filled the backyard and provided a lot of fun. During the festivities I got a call from Eliza who announced that earlier that day she had given birth to a little boy they decided to name Leviticus Rex.
I decided to transcribe the biography of my father David Heywood and make it available on the Internet. I was able to complete the first section which gave information about his life and ancestry until he reached the age of approximately 23 years old. My mother had created the biography by making tapes of my father describing his life and various incidents, then she provided illustrations using library materials and family archives. Unfortunately the quality of her pictures was very poor and I substituted other material for most of the library images. I was able to copy most of the family photos. I completed the project in late July.
Meg's youngest daughter, Annie came to stay with us while she attended a summer camp at BYU. Her camp involved rehearsing for a production associated with The Young Ambassadors, a BYU performing group. As a reward for helping me with doing some yard work, I took Jacqueline, Calvin and Adam to Annie's performance the Harris Fine Arts Center after we stopped at the Ninth East Creamery for picnic supplies and ate dinner on the steps of the last remaing building of the old Heritage Halls.
David's house was on the market for a very short time before someone agreed to pay the listed price for it and the move was scheduled to take place. A year before I had agreed to provide the stained glass panel of Joseph Smith cutting the ice for the baptism of my great-grandfather Joseph Leland Heywood in the Mississippi River for the 200th reunion of the birth of Joseph Leland Heywood which would take place on August 1. Since David would be moving to my house I picked up the panel from his house on the morning of the reunion and took it to the stake center that replaced the original 17th ward building where my great-grandfather had been Bishop during the early days of Salt Lake City. I volunteered to say a few words about the panel but to my surprise I was already included on the program. My brother Michael and my sister in law Mary had driven down from Washington state for the reunion. I spent a short time visiting with them at my sister Katie's house in the afternoon following the meeting visiting with Mike and Mary.
When I returned to Provo after the reunion, I installed the stained-glass panel in my own front room with the idea that when David and Jing were fully settled they could install it in their living quarters downstairs.
Although I had lived in Provo for over 15 years I had never before taken advantage of my proximity to the BYU campus to participate in Education Week. For a number of years my schedule of working at the Provo Temple had intervened. When illness forced me to retire from working at the temple I didn't have the energy to attend Education Week. Finally in mid August 2015 I registered for classes in the afternoon and walked to the campus and home daily except for two days when my son David provided a ride home for me. One of the classes was outstanding, very inspiring and the others were worthwhile as well. I plan to attend education week next year. Tisha and her family were planning to visit Bear Lake before visiting Yellowstone and Richard and I drove up with Mary Jane and her children to join them for a day of basking in the beautiful scenery while the children played in the shallow water at the edges of the lake.
For several years I had not done any stained-glass work, partly because it takes more stamina than painting. The Utah Valley Artists Guild had just finished an exhibit at the Covey Center and were scheduled for an exhibit at the SCERA in Orem. I decided to create a stained-glass panel of sego lilies. I couldn't find any red glass suitable for my design at the stained-glass store but to my delight I found a lovely piece of deep cherry colored glass in my supplies probably one of the legacy pieces that I was given by Eliza's grandfather in law seven years before. I made the panel just big enough to fit into the lower part of my bathroom window providing both privacy and decor. I finished the panel and framed it in oak just in time to hang at the SCERA on September 5. Inspired by my quick completion of the sego lily stained glass panel I decided to attempt to make a panel for my daughter Eliza which I would take to her when I visited her home in Florida to see my new grandson, Levi. The scene of Job Welling and his young wife Frances burying their first child in Iowa when they were beginning a hand cart trek to Salt Lake City came to mind as a subject for the panel. I found all the glass I needed in the supplies stored in my studio. I quickly completed the design, deciding to make the stained-glass approximately 32 in.² I had showed Jacqueline how to grind the edges of glass when she asked me if she could create something with stained-glass and I helped her create a little panel about 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide in a mold I had purchased years ago. Instead of trying to join the shapes with copper tape and solder, we suspended them in clear plastic. Part of my design for the panel included a bouquet of sunflowers and wild roses, the Iowa State flower. I cut triangles of glass and Jacqueline ground them into petal shape. I soon realized that my plans to take the panel with me to Florida were unrealistic however I did get a good start on the panel.
I flew to Florida on September 15th, 2015 after the family had met for a triple birthday party on September 13 when we honored Jared Israel, Richard and Alden. It was good to see the Porter family again after nearly a year. They had driven up from Florida to join us in Virginia for Thanksgiving and we had visited the zoo together at that time. I painted a little picture of young Levi to add to the pictures I painted of Eliza's other children as infants I realized I had not painted Geoffrey as a baby and Eliza provided me with the photo she liked so that she has a full set of baby portraits.
After I returned from Florida I applied to return to the Provo Temple as a worker while waiting for the birth of Lucinda's ninth child. She was born at home on October 30, 2015 with the assistance of a midwife and named Patricia. When all the paperwork was done for my return as a temple worker I asked them to assign me at their points of greatest need. That turned out to be the early Monday shift at the baptistry which began at 4:45 AM and the Tuesday afternoon shift. It is an interesting contrast of duties. The ordinances performed in the baptistry are baptism and confirmation, both of which are performed by priesthood members. Women workers are primarily in charge of issuing baptismal clothing and recording the ordinances after they have been finished. We also work in the laundry and stock towels and clothing articles. I was inspired by the teens who come to the temple before their school begins. It is becoming a tradition for young people to come to the temple on their 12th birthday. On the last Monday in November at least three youngsters came on their birthdays along with family members.
I celebrated Thanksgiving in Virginia in 2014 after my surgery in New York. In 2015 Lucinda chose to eat the meal at home with her family who joined the rest of us for some family time. Once 11 members of her family were added we had 29 people in attendance. The Vosses, the Maumaus and David's family including Shazia and Taylor, back from from several months of traveling through South and Central America, joined Richard and me for the traditional feast of turkey and stuffing and all of the other traditional foods. Sam and his family hosted the Stouts and the Porters at their new home in Alabama. I began teaching primary again, first as a substitute on a permanent basis and and later teaching the class that included my granddaughter Jacqueline.
Having watched the construction of the Provo City Center temple from the burned out shell of the Provo Tabernacle I decided to make a painting of the beautiful new temple. I wanted to get a picture of the temple against the background of milk Timpanogos as sunset lit the mountain pink. Finally the day came when dusk was not dulled by clouds. I hurried down to the area of the temple and began to take pictures from various viewpoints on the south and west of the temple. When I returned home and reviewed the photos I found that the best were of the temple against the snowclad eastern mountains which were flooded with golden light. Since most of my paintings in the last few years have not met previous standards of excellence, I reused a canvas from a painting had not been successful and decided to renovate a frame that had suffered some damage. I intended to finish the painting by late February in order to display it at the Utah Valley Artist Guild spring show, but while delivering paintings to Provo Library for another show in December 2015, I learned that a special exhibit would be held through the month of February 2016 at the Utah County Gallery featuring photographs and paintings of the temple through its history and renewal I planned to have the painting ready for that date.
Nancy and Miranda flew from New York in late December and stayed with Trisha in Salt Lake before joining in the family celebration at my house on Maple Lane on Christmas Day 2015 A week later on my birthday Lucinda and her family gave me a dozen pink roses. The roses begin to droop I preserved some of them by drying them and dipped others in resin. As the resin covered roses turned a little gray I asked my grandsons, Calvin, Adam, and Ralph to paint them red with stained glass stain. Mary and her family had moved into a home near her husband's family in South Jordan. A family party held at their house revealed the need for a better arrangement of banisters around the stairwell and I gave Mary a corded power drill and a set of drills and screwdrivers for her birthday.
I renovated the frame and completed the painting of the temple with advice from my colleagues at the artist guild as well as my granddaughters who help me overcome resistance to following the critical but helpful comments of other artists that I needed to make the mountains appear a little further back and took it to the temple exhibit which began at the end of January. I asked that the painting be continued on display as part of the Artist Guild spring show in March.
Mary had been able to purchase a home with the help of her father near her husband's family in South Jordan.
I made reservations to fly to Virginia at the end of February 2016 in order to help my granddaughter, Tara Phillips, with the birth of her first child. Shortly after I arrived in Virginia I learned that my painting of the Provo City Center Temple had been awarded second place in the UVAG Spring Show. Following the example of her aunts Mary, Lucinda, and Eliza, Tara planned to have her child at home. During a visit to her midwife Tara learned that she had preeclampsia which meant she would have to give birth at the hospital. After hours of successfully managing her labor, Tara was told that she would not be able to have natural childbirth. Her daughter Tegarion Mei,was born by caesarian section on March 13, 2016. Healthy, bright eyed and weighing in at 7 lbs. 9 oz. she looked a lot like her mother at birth.
Sam's wife, Reese, expected a child in late March or early April. I flew to Florida to visit Eliza and her family while we waited for news from Sam. After my busy days in Virginia it was nice to relax and play with the children. On the Monday after Easter, Geoffrey, Margot and I cleaned up the park where careless picnickers had left a lot of debris surrounding trash cans near the picnic pavilion . On March 26 Sam texted me that Reese had given birth to a daughter they named Olive Amelia. I was eager to see my newest grandchild and visit the rest of the family in their new home. I took the greyhound bus trip from Saint Augustine to Montgomery Alabama on March 31. Part of the trip included a taxi ride between Jacksonville and Tallahassee Florida because of delays that caused a number of people to miss the Tallahassee bus. Seven people, including the driver, packed the taxi van hired by the bus company, but age and quick action earned me a seat in the middle row where I was comfortable for the journey. Sam met me at the bus station Montgomery took me to his home. Olive is dainty but healthy with a lot of dark hair. She looks very much like her father's daughter. Her father blessed her at the Capitol Ward in Montgomery, Alabama on April 10, 2016. Appropriately the Sunday School lesson was 2 Nephi 29, The discussion of the Olive grove.
In addition to working with paint and stain glass I began to make portrait dolls for my grandchildren. It began in the summer of 2014 while I was visiting Nancy and Mary in New York City. Sela's birthday was approaching and I decided to create a doll for her. I found a blank muslin 18 inch doll at Joann's Crafts, while shopping with Nancy and Miranda. Miranda wanted a doll for her self and of course I would have to make a doll for Heta to avoid leaving her out. I painted the faces to resemble the girls and added hair. They painted imaginative shoes. Because the doll was meant as a gift for Sela I added a dress and decorated the box to hold the doll with the same fabric. Eventually I made a doll for Tevita, Sela and Heta's brother, when he turned one year old. I made dolls for Jacqueline, Diana and Lelia, Lucinda's older daughters, for Christmas. My next two dolls were for young women who have remained childlike, Talitha and Beth received the dolls for their birthdays. I decided to go ahead and make dolls for Eliza's two daughters, Penny and Margot. When they received them in the mail their little brother Booker wanted a doll for himself. His mother added bright orange embroidery floss wig 2 a cloth doll modeled on Caillou.
After my trip to the east to welcome a new granddaughter and a new great granddaughter I returned to work at the temple while looking forward to seeing Olive again in June when I would join Sam and his family at the Hard Rock café resort in Riviera Maya, south of Cancun Mexico. After 12 hours of flying and taking the bus from the airport to the resort I arrived in time to pick up some sandwiches at the opening reception and be escorted to my room by a bellboy. Sam's employer fast Enterprises has held previous conventions in Hawaii, Las Vegas, and other tourist destinations. This was the first time I joined them. I looked after baby Olive and toddler Ruari while Sam and his wife Reese attended the formal dinner on Friday night. I was happy that I had already visited the area several years before and taken tours of Chichen Itza and Tulum because activities were limited to the resort during this visit.
Although she was born with Down's syndrome, David's daughter Talitha was able to graduate from Timpview high school with a special diploma in June 2016. I was able to capture a video of the event that I attended with her family followed by a lovely meal at Olive Garden.
I have made a practice of trying to see my grandchildren at least twice a year. Because Mary, Tisha, Lucinda and David live within 60 miles this is easily accomplished by our practice of observing the second Sunday of each month as Maple Sunday when we gather at my home for a meal and visiting. However, Nancy, Meg, Eliza and Sam all live far enough away that either driving for several days or an airline flight are needed to visit their families. In July and August 2016 Bryan, Meg's husband, and his daughters Beth and Annie drove from Virginia to visit me while Annie attended BYU music performance camp for a week in late July ending with a concert that I attended with David and Talitha. Meg flew to join them at the end of August as Annie prepared to enter BYU by moving into her dorm at Helaman Halls. Meg and Bryan celebrated their wedding anniversary on the first night after her arrival by spending the evening out and sleeping in a motel. For the remaining week she joined him in my living room where he had been spending the night on cushions spread on the floor while his daughters shared my bedroom on a futon couch. Meg, Bryan and Beth set out to drive home to Virginia on Thursday, August 25, and on the following Monday, August 29, 2016, I took a redeye flight to New York City after working in the Provo Temple baptistry in the morning. Nancy and Miranda picked me up from JFK airport and drove to the ferry for Fire Island with a stop for groceries and Chinese takeout. We spent the night on Nancy's sailboat at Sailors Haven Harbor and on Wednesday we motored back over great South Bay to her normal harbor at Bayberry Yacht club. Sailing conditions were optimum but Miranda was suffering from digestion problems so Nancy spared her the additional agitation that sailing would involve. On Friday, September 2, 2016, we ate at a creperie near the gym where Nancy had worked out that morning then took advantage of passes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We enjoyed exploring the first floor, viewing decorative arts from the Byzantine era through the Renaissance. Miranda's favorite object was a beautiful dagger hilt decorated with emeralds and rubies from an exhibit of antique Islamic arms.
Fortunately Miranda was feeling well and on Saturday, although hurricane Hermine was threatening to proceed northward up the coast from the Carolinas, we picked up two young men who work in the theater and drove to the yacht club to spend the afternoon sailing. The wind was fresh and the water whippy and I was happy that one of the young men had experience sailing. I spent most of the time below deck to clear the deck area for those who could help handling the sails. Nancy's sailboat was large enough to sleep seven or eight people in stringent circumstances, but it is not luxurious. Even so I could picture myself living aboard such a cosy craft. On Sunday after attending church I created a colored pencil portrait of Miranda using photos I had taken while we visited the Met. Nancy loved the portrait and immediately framed it. The following day was Labor Day and I drove to Virginia with Nancy as navigator. She was weary after several nights of working in the psychiatric emergency room while spending days in various activities and we missed a few connections to our intended route, resulting in detours through charming coastal towns. We arrived in Annandale near evening. I reunited with my first great grandchild, Tegarion Phillips, and Nancy and Miranda spent the night in the RHC mansion. After a couple of days Nancy drove me to Reagan National airport on Wednesday, September 7 on her way back to New York. I flew to Jacksonville, Florida where I met up with Eliza and her family and we drove directly to Montgomery, Alabama to visit Sam and his family. Like Tegarion, Olive was in the happy stage of being nearly six months old, merry and welcoming. I took Margot and Penny to Hobby Lobby where they chose new outfits for their portrait dolls as birthday presents. I also shopped for clothing I could wear to an endowment session at the Birmington, Alabama temple, settling for a cream colored spaghetti strap dress, a shirt to cover the elasticized top of the dress, and slightly fuzzy cream colored slippers. After a brief visit, Eliza and her family returned to Florida and on Saturday, September 10, Sam and his family, Reese, Irish, Ruari and Olive, took me to Birmingham. Sam and I attended a session at the temple after the family ate a picnic in the nearby park. They dropped me off at Motel 6 where I would spend the night before flying back to Salt Lake City on Sunday September 11. My ride to the airport was in a taxi driven by a man from Somalia who carried on a conversation with his avidly loquacious supervisor throughout the trip. I couldn't understand the language but I definitely got the gist. My flight made a connection through Las Vegas where I was prompted to get information about the gate and found that I was clear across the airport from my gate with only 10 minutes left to boarding. After turning down the offer of a wheelchair transport I hurried through the crowded terminal, arriving, breathless, just before boarding for my flight began. It wouldn't have mattered so much if I had missed the flight except that I had arranged to meet my family at Mary's house for Maple Sunday. Tisha picked me up from the airport with her son Rusty in the driver seat. After greeting eating and hugging various grandchildren and children, I returned to Provo with Lucinda and her family. The following morning, on Monday September 12, I returned to my duties at the Provo Temple baptistry. Near the end of September 2016 I decided to enlist my grandson Calvin as a helper around my house and yard with a small retainer fee with special pay for extra jobs. Although overall remarkably recovered from my encounter with cancer, demonstrated by a blood panel done in August before my trip east, my age, sedentary lifestyle and various trips and activities had kept me from doing necessary upkeep in my garden, especially my aquaponics greenhouse where Virginia creeper vines had veiled the western wall. I contracted with Calvin to remove the vine encrusted chicken fence. I used my chainsaw to prune my plum tree and cut down a stump that had grown a lot of foliage, leaving the resulting branches for Calvin to reduce for transport to a disposal bin. His brother, Adam, helped with the first refuse run to Fort Utah park once Fall cleanup started and we stopped at Wendy's for lunch. Plans for creating a vertical wind turbine for installation in my greenhouse and various upkeep including clearing should keep Calvin occupied for an hour or two four days a week. I ended September by reorganizing my wardrobe in preparation for the change of season. Although I lost almost 60 pounds with my illness, I regained most of it in the following two years after having replaced most of my clothing with smaller sizes, creating a wardrobe that contained many items I could no longer wear with comfort, including my favorite coat. Fortunately I had retained some of my favorite clothing from before cancer took my energy and reduced my weight. Several pairs of pants and a larger coat were added as I resigned myself to the reality of my weight gain. People often made remarks on how good I looked when I was thin, but I was also weak and haggard. Although I had been very careful in my diet for several years, avoiding sugars, starches and red meat and possibly delaying the growth of my tumor, since my recovery I have enjoyed foods like pork roasts and Breyer mint chocolate chip ice cream. As an example I created a recipe for tamale pie. I continued taking a mixture of pulverized freeze-died strawberries, almonds and apricot seeds as a remedy, and I rarely ate beef, but otherwise I shopped for food with gourmand enthusiasm.
In April 2017, the art group I belong to, Utah Valley Artist Guild, visited the home and studio of Linde Mott, a talented oil painter. She has decorated the walls and floors of her home with paintings. One of the rooms is called the Nauvoo room and she has murals in folk style of scenes from Nauvoo as seen from across the river. Some of the women in the group expressed their feeling of inadequacy that they had no similar murals in their home, but I discount that as social anxiety manifested in the desire to do what others have done even if it's not a personal preference. When I went to sleep that night I had a dream that was actually a nightmare. I dreamed that a couple of my relatives decided to do me a favor by redecorating my house. The style they chose was international modern. They put fake fur on the walls of one room and did some kind of a papier-mâché stucco treatment in the dining room. They discarded all my furniture and paintings and replaced it with a couple of modern chairs and a furry orange couch with a white round table a couple of modern prints and a few odd modern sculptures that looked like stacked fabric drums. I didn't like the style and I wanted to restore the art and furniture I have chosen over many years but I didn't want to criticize them or reject their gift. It was this mental conflict that made the dream into a nightmare. When I woke up and analyzed the dream and tried to think of where it may have originated I realized first of all that I have put a lot of effort into my home that makes it particularly reflective of my own interests. I have not painted murals on my walls but I have collected and created pieces of furniture and artwork which I display on what ever walls are not covered by curtains or bookshelves. I have created cabinets and shelves and repurposed cabinetry that existed in the home when I purchased it. Some time ago a young woman visited my home and remarked on how much she liked the antique oriental cabinet in the corner. I made the cabinet out of furniture quality plywood stained dark rosewood color to coordinate with the carved Chinese table and screen that were custom made for us in China and ordered special hardware from the Internet to decorate the front. The cabinet conceals a flat screen TV and children's toys and books. I have two narrow bookshelves that serve to display meaningful curios as well as books. The lamps that bracket my couch were inherited from my mother. One of them is a cranberry colored glass Victorian hanging lamp with crystals hanging from the edges suspended over small end table and the other is a black wooden statue of a Thai dancer my mother purchased in Hong Kong. My sofa is a puffy dark green leather that has recliners built into either end. It is not fashionable but is very comfortable. Other seating includes the arm chairs of my Chinese table dining set, a teak garden bench and two Barcelona chairs. The floors are covered with cherry wood colored parquet tiles with an area rug that is a large scale interpretation of oriental patterns. Pale gold floor-to-ceiling curtains cover most of two walls with a tall stained glass panel of cranes in a marsh centered in the widest expanse of window. Every room in the main floor of my house has been altered to some extent by my carpentry or features items of cabinetry I made or altered. If the time comes that someone wants to clear out all my 'junk' and give me a new decorative scheme I will not be an easy candidate. On the other hand, if my roof falls in or my house catches fire and everything is destroyed, I will go on to whatever offers in the future.
Meanwhile I enjoy my eclectic nest.
In May 2017 I returned to work as an ordinance worker in the Provo Temple after having taken a break during the winter months but chose to work on Thursday, giving me ample time to recover from the stress of working early Monday morning in the baptistry. My first day promised a better situation in a number of ways and I returned home feeling good about the decision. Even though my line included three initiatory sessions I was not fatigued or stressed.
on May 13 2017 I accepted the challenge of President Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles which he issued in a youth devotional in 2016 to study the words and actions of the Savior. It is relatively easy using the Gospel Library app and turning to the extensive section in the Topical Guide. On the first day I finished the listings for 'a' from advocate through authority. There is some redundancy but it is to good effect.
On May 16 of 2017 several of my children became involved in rescuing their father when he took a road trip in pursuit of aiding a chimera he has been supporting. He ended up in trouble in Arizona, driving as if intoxicated due to an accident that impaired the electronics in his car. He was stopped by police who discovered letters mailed to his neighbors address. Apparently he had been using her address to avoid assumed surveillance of his activities that involved sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to internet scammers in Africa. They convinced him that a woman had fallen in love with him and needed help. Earlier his oldest daughter had begun to suspect the scale of the scheme and took steps to establish a conservancy but other family members held off until the latest incident which demonstrates that he really is quite impaired and should not drive or live on his own. His finances had become somewhat tangled but there was reason to hope that it was not too late to restrict his access to the scammers and secure his future.
RHC was not the only family member having problems dealing with reality. We tried to provide refuge but eventually JH required hospitalization.
Eventually JH was stabilized and returned home. RHC was put under the guardianship of one daughter by court order while another became conservator of his finances. On July Fourth, 2017 I embarked on a journey to visit my eastern grandchildren, particularly Levi and Olive. The last time I had seen them they were cute babies, but now they were able to interact and do so much more as Levi closed in on the end of his second year and Olive became a toddler at sixteen months old. My first flight was canceled on the tarmac when the pilot discovered something wrong with the plane. all of the other passengers going to Jacksonville, Florida would have to wait until the following day to fly. as I waited to find if I could make a connection to Orlando instead the southwest agent found one single flight that would take me into Jacksonville on July fourth. It would land four hours later, at nearly midnight, but I would spend the night in Florida instead of Utah. While in Florida I visited the beach, several parks and we drove to Gainesville where we met up with Phillip's mother and three sisters plus two children and floated the gentle waters of Ichetucknee Springs along with many others. I flew to Alabama after spending a week in Florida. My trip got off to a rocky start when I left my cell phone in Eliza's car. fortunately she discovered it and paged me at the airport. I had to go back through security and worried that I might miss my flight as TSA dawdled over checking the contents of my carry-on bag. in Alabama I was greeted happily by Irish and Ruari but Olive was shy. Using grandma tricks I eventually overcame her reluctance and she began to play with me. She was quite precocious, especially at the water park where she fearlessly played in all the fountains. A previously scheduled family activity of go carts and laser tag scheduled by Sam's employer meant an early trip to the airport where I spent more than nine hours waiting for my flight, then flight delays extended my trip by several hours. Nancy picked me up after 10 PM and I slept at her home and attended church with her. As she returned me to Provo on Sunday afternoon, we stopped by the Mau Maus to wish Happy Birthday to Sela. We stayed outside to visit in order to avoid conflict with RHC.
I returned to Salt Lake that week and enjoyed spending several days with Mianda, including watching 24th of July fireworks from the vantage point of 13th East and 13th South, not far from Nancy's home. Miranda, Nancy and I enjoyed an evening together at Liberty Park where we rode around the small lake in a paddle boat and took two turns on the ferris wheel.We enjoyed other aspects of the neighborhood and Meg joined us for a night while she flew into town to give a presentation on her book 'Reluctant Polygamist'
I decided to set up silk painting frames for my grandchildren and in late August of 2017 Lucinda's five older children created lovely designs. Ralph's scarf showed a scene from their family trip to Idaho to witness the total eclipse on August 21. In September I took the silk painting equipment up to Nancy's house and We used her back deck to set up tables with the painting frames and Heta, Sela, Hannah, Miranda and 'Ro' created lovely work. I showed pictures of their work to a fellow artist and she asked to join me for a 'play date'. I created a scarf that I felt confident in framing for an exhibit at the Provo Library gallery.
October 25, 2017 marked the third anniversary of my surgery for cancer. I had scheduled a physical a little earlier in the month in order to determine if my prescription for levthyroxine should be refilled at its current level. Although I fell a few weeks earlier after tripping on a piece of debris in my tool space, I had recovered fairly well. Because I chose to forgo chemotherapy or radiation treatment after my cancer surgery, I seem to have regained my health by taking my self made mixture of ground up apricot seeds, almonds and strawberries. Beginning in late summer of 2017 I added stevia and unsweetened chocolate to the mix.
I began trying to achieve a successful aquaponics setup more than six years ago. Weather, primarily cold winters, energy, depleted by my bout with cancer, and time, spent in other interests and obligations, had kept me from real success. After nearly seven years since initiation my set-up was nominally operating thanks to a persistent patch of mint and a couple of goldfish that survived neglect and freezing water. On October 27, 2017 I attended a weightlifting contest at Lehi Crossfit where three of my grandsons set Utah state records in their weight classes. Adam won overall after smashing previous records in both the snatch and clean and jerk. Their coach was my son David who won a NCAA title in weighlifting many years ago. Their practice space has limited ceiling space and I volunteered the greenhouse as an alternative. I retained two grow bins which are filled with mint and left them over the fishtank. Adam and Calvin helped me dismantle the other equipment.