Category Archives: Youth

J is for Jazz

Encyclopedia of Me Meme

My senior year in high school I signed up to be the pianist in Jazz band.  At school I always played the French horn for everything, and was looking forward to using some of my other talents and to something different as well.  I had talked with our band director and he had agreed that I, and one other person, should be the Jazz pianists.

On my first day of class I entered the band room to find three girls hovered around the piano.  I recognized the one I was to co-play with, and to our amazement the other two girls were there to play piano as well. they just hadn’t asked our band director’s permission.

Mr. E started called the class to order and scanned over everyone assembled and ready to play, “We end up with four pianists and no one to play trombone. How on Earth did that happen?”  He thought for a moment and disappeared into his office. When he came out he had a book and a trombone, though no one really noticed as we were all chatting once he disappeared.

“J-” he called to me.  “Here’s a trombone and here’s a beginner’s book, go teach yourself how to play and then come and join us. You can be our lone trombone player.”

Well, I had wanted something different, but not quite like that.  I did learn to play it passably well however, and by the end of the year I finally accepted all the jazz solos Mr. E kept trying to push on me.  I don’t think I could remember how to play a trombone now, but it sure would be fun to try if we had one. 


Filed under Meme, Music, Youth

They Call me Chipmunk

*This post is inspired by Karen’s ant pancake

All through middle school I had the same science teacher.  He was the best science teacher I ever remember having.  He was funny and challenging, and especially fair.  I went back to visit him for years after I left the 8th grade, at least once a year I would pop in at the end of the last day and he would call me “chipmunk”, the nickname he adopted for me during my 8th grade year.  I even went back after I had kids and introduced them to him.  He is retired now, but I still see him from time to time.  It is amazing how a great teacher can impact a person’s life.

The event that triggered my nickname occured toward the end of my middle school years.  I was sitting at the long black table surrounded by my fellow classmates…

“What is in there?” a girl leaned close and whispered to me eyeing the terranium sitting on the table at the front of the class.

“Looks like crickets,” I whispered back.

I chuckled to myself as the girl shuddered and said something about crickets being gross.  “How could a cricket be gross?” I wondered to myself, and thought about how fascinating I found them.

“I have an extra credit project for you today,” the teacher announced.  Ears suddenly perked up.  While we all loved our teacher he definitely was not easy and you had to work hard in his class – extra credit was always a welcomed boost in his class.

“Crickets and other insects have been a major food source to many over the centuries.”

We eyed each other – half excited and half being filled with dread, not to metion those who were grossed out with the mere thought of eating bugs.

“The extra credit will go as follows: you will get 20 pts if you eat the cricket completely – chew it up, swallow it, the whole bit. 15 pts if you chew it up and spit it out. 10 pts if you at least bite it in half, and 5 points if you hold it in your mouth for at least 5-10 seconds.”

A chorus of ewws arose from most of the girls, while the boys were nodding their heads determined not to show us how grossed out they were.  The thought of holding the cricket in your mouth with it jumping around in there was much more terrible to me than eating the thing.

After a moment of tension – excited, nervous, and shocked – the first boy stood up to obtain his extra credit.  He did pretty well devouring the little devil and then took off like a shot to the water fountain. After a short time about 3 or 4 boys had eat crickets (or tried to eat crickets – I almost felt sorry for those in the first row having to dodge flying cricket guts if a person couldn’t get it all the way down the hatch.)

“I can’t let the boys get all the glory.  Girls are just as daring,” I thought to myself as I found myself rising out of my chair and walking up to the front of the class.  My nerves were jumping just as much as the crickets in the cage.  My teacher scooped one out and plunked it in my hand.

To my dismay the cricket promptly hopped out of my hand and started to make its way hopping across the table.  My nerves made me even more awkward as I tried to recapture my afternoon snack.  Finally I had it in my hands.  I could feel it whacking against my palms trying to free itself from its fleshy cage.  Without thinking about it any further I popped it in and began to chew like a wild woman.  It was rather salty – and crunchy. I managed to gulp it all the way down and dove frantically for the water fountain.

“You chewed so fast, you looked like a chipmunk!” my teacher chuckled, myself and the class joining in.  The nickname stuck, but I didn’t mind.  After my infamous cricket eating a few more girls were brave enough though only one other was able to obtain the full 20 pts.

Needless to say, I can’t stand crickets today.  They completely gross me out, and just writing about this was making my insides squirm.  I have found I am not nearly as brave and wreckless as I was in my youth.  Sometimes that is a good thing, but sometimes I kind of miss those daring days. 🙂


Filed under Humor, Memory, Youth



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During his youth my father worked in the lookout towers in the mountains of Oregon and Washington. As a child I was regalled with fantastic stories from his experiences. I distinctly recall falling asleep to his stories in our big red tent listening to the wind rushing through the trees.

When I was a junior in highschool we had a huge project we had to complete for English, it was called the Oregon Project and had to be about some aspect of Oregon. It included major interviews, and written report, a 20 minute (minimum) presentation including audio and visual aids, and oh so much more. 🙂 Of course, I did my project on my Dad and lookout towers. I think I called it “Look-out for Oregon”. The photograph is of my visual aid that I built (with a bit of help from my Mom, who incidently worked with my Dad after they were married). It is replica of one of the towers he worked in – I want to say it was the one on Carpenter Mtn., but Mom and Dad, correct me if I am wrong. The picture was taken then, during my junior year, but we still have the tower. I gave it to my Dad for Father’s Day that year and it is still very carefully stored away in the back of Jacob’s closet. I would have taken a fresh pic of it and posted that had I been able to access his closet at present. But I can’t, so I figured this would do just fine. (thank goodness for scanners)


Filed under Photography, Youth

Honorary Ding-A-Ling

After I gave myself the lawn-mower pedicure I was terrified of someone, or something, running into my foot. A couple days after the incident we were sitting in the family room, my foot propped in the air, examining the shoe I was wearing the end of it was cut, nearly clean off.

“I have an idea!” She said as she disappeared into the depths of her office. A little while she came back out with my shoe, some plastic canvas, and some yarn. She proceeded to fashion a ‘toe guard’ (basically a little cup) that she sewed onto the end of the shoe. On the end of the toe guard in bright red yarn I cross-stitched the word “OUCH!”

It was a hit, and it kept everyone away from my foot.


A week later I found myself with the band in Orlando, Florida. The benefit to being on crutches was that while at Disney World, and other such places we got to use a wheel chair and were always ushered to the front of the line, (oh, and you get flirted with a lot more too, heh). The draw back was watching all your friends at the water park because you can’t get your foot wet. And the absolute worst was standing in the Caribbean (for the first time ever- we took a day cruise to the Bahamas) on one foot.
On one particular day, while in the Magic Kingdom, I was sitting in my wheel chair waiting for my friends. There was a barbershop quartet, The Dapper Dans, singing nearby and I was enjoying listening to them.

Shocked out of my revelry I noticed they were calling me.
“What’d you do? Run into a parked car?”
“No. I lost a fight with a lawn mower.” I chuckled as they winced.

I was then invited up to join them. Mid my protestations my friends, who had by then reappeared, wheeled me up to join them. I was handed a set of chimes and we played “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”

I was given an honorary member card and pronounced, “And Honorary Ding-a-ling.” So there you have it. It was made official years ago.

Ding a ling 2

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Filed under Humor, Music, Youth

You’re Flat!!!

Autumn had settled in and leaves had been drifting to the ground for quite some time. The school year was well in progress and our band director had begun to prepare us for our first concert of the year. We warmed up on scales and began to rehearse one of our concert pieces. I was a junior and first chair horn player so the solo in the piece had come to me.

The horn is a tricky instrument. If you have ever wondered why they stick their hand in the bell, it is to keep the instrument in tune. The slightest fluctuation of your hand can send the horn careening off course into harmony horror. This particular day just wasn’t my best. The solo was plaintive and gorgeous, a favorite and I could play it with my eyes shut (but I didn’t as my director would have shot me, heh).

I was midway through when, “You’re flat!” I heard my director holler. I adjusted my hand a bit. “You’re flat!” he hollered again, and again, “You’re flat!” I was reaching the point of exasperation, (he wasn’t being mean, just trying to get me in tune) as I heard him yell again, “You’re flat!” Suddenly from across the room in the trumpet section a voice pops up, “No she’s not!”

The entire band burst into riotous laughter as I turned beet-red from laughing tinged with embarrassment and looked for a chair to crawl under. My band director was so surprised and started laughing so hard that his baton nearly skewered one of the poor flutists on the front row.

I was not necessarily well endowed, but I most definitely was not flat.


Filed under Goofs, Humor, Music, Youth

Oh! Those Curves . . .

We never used the word, (I hunker down into a whisper, shifting my eyes from side to side to see if someone else is listening), sexy, in our home. I never heard my parents tossing the word back and forth and we didn’t have a television, so I never heard it there. I knew what the word was and what it meant, it just wasn’t a part of my daily vocabulary, and on the seldom occasion I did use it, I always felt that I was being just a bit naughty, heh. 🙂 My best friend in high school would use the word though, rather frequently and we always laughed, she probably wanted to see what it took to turn my ears red. 🙂 There was one time though, we were Juniors, and our band was qualifying for state competition once again. We were up at Lewis and Clark College. . .

“It’s not that cold!” I laughed as my friend came around the corner with a black tuxedo jacket draped on her shoulders. “Who’s jacket did you steal this time?”

“It’s my sexy clarinet player’s jacket,” she declared. She played clarinet too and I thought of the only guy that played clarinet with her. He was really cute, one year ahead of us, sandy hair with a curlyish wave, blue eyes, nice looking face, and shy as all get out. He was very quiet and reserved and had ears that liked to glow red, similar to mine.

We hooked arms and joined a couple of our other gal friends meandering towards the entrance of the college, talking about my friend’s “sexy clarinet player”, which turned into a conversation about the word sexy itself. I was laughing, and thinking how bright his ears would really turn if he knew we referred to him as the “sexy clarinet player”. We stopped at the curb chatting and as I lost interest in their “sexy” talk I saw a school bus driving toward us. I had wanted to tease her, to give her a bad time about her usage of “sexy”. I didn’t say what I meant to say though. I wanted to say, “oooh, let’s look at all the Sexy people on the buses.” But, what came out was infinitely more hilarious, and embarrassing for me. As the bus drew near I proclaimed with a soft sultry, slightly mocking voice, “oooh, let’s look at all the sexy buses.”

I realized what I had said when my friends burst into laughter, and I joined them shaking my head. “J!” she proclaimed, “you never use the word sexy, and then use it to describe a school bus!” We dissolved into gales of laughter. She made sure to let everyone know of my faux pas (but I didn’t mind, because she wasn’t mocking me, and it really was funny) and it became quite famous. One friend jokingly asked if I found the flat nose buses more sexy or the regular buses. “Oh, the regular buses definitely! So many more curves!” I declared laughing. My friend even told my scandalous story to my mom, which had repercussions as we were driving down the street.

“There’s a mail truck, J” my mom said.
“Yeah, so?” I wondered where on earth she was going with this mundane comment.
“Well, do you find them as sexy as the buses?” she asked innocently batting her eyelashes.
“Mom! She told you, didn’t she?” I asked laughing, and trying to decided if it was mortifying or not to hear your own mother use the word sexy (after all mom’s are ancient aren’t they, well, to teen agers anyway, heh). 🙂

My friend was sure to tell my HHH before we got engaged, in fact it was the first time she met him. I belive she started off with something like, “I think there is something you need to know about J and school buses . . . ” He still gives me a wink every time we pass a bright yellow bus, but I assure him, “Don’t worry HHH, they don’t begin to compare with you!”


Filed under Goofs, Humor, Youth

How to Deal With a Man Eating Dog

Grrr. I have been trying all day to post this on my hubby’s computer in the room right beside my little office. I kept getting the blogger maintenance message,I haven’t been able to post any comments, check anybody’s profile, post my own blog, nothing, all day. Then I come into my room on my computer and it works! What’s up with that? Anyway, here is the post that I was trying to publish all day . . . 🙂 (I’ll come by tomorrow to comment on your blogs, I’m to crazed to try to do it now, heh.) 🙂

I was a junior in high school and found myself trudging home, backpack slung across my back and horn swinging at my side as usual. It was a 2½ mile walk at least but all the shortcuts I took knocked off nearly ½ a mile. I hated the bus and found walking a pleasant alternative, besides which I usually had at least one friend pass by who took pity upon me and drove me home. But there were many occasions when no such salvation appeared and I covered the distance on foot. My shortcut led directly to our backyard via a short easement and an unlocked gate.

I swung the gate upon and walked through, the scent of lilac assaulting me from every corner, halting me in my progression as I drank in the intoxicating aroma. I began to cross the back lawn when I noticed a dog running towards me from our neighbor on the right. “Ahh, they have a new dog,” I thought to myself as I admired the yellow Labrador retriever as it stopped to bark at me.

The dog continued to run and bark at me each time coming closer and venturing onto our property from time to time. Normally I wouldn’t have minded, but the bark was not one of welcome, it was one of warning and protection. But I had my protection too, and would simply swing my French horn in its direction to warn it off. It never posed a threat though and we never bothered to talk about it to our neighbor, until one day . . .

The sun was actually shining for a change and the symphonic band was preparing for a huge concert that spring night. I left my horn behind to be loaded in the instrument trailer and taken to the college concert hall where we would be performing. With only my backpack to carry I refused the offers of a ride home and set off at a brisk walk. Upon arrival at our back gate I undid the latch and began my trek through the yard eyeing nervously the neighbors large yellow dog. It was waiting in the shade and as soon as it caught one whiff of me it was up and barking. I quickened my pace as it began running towards me, expecting it to stop within a few feet. But this time it didn’t. With a terrific lunge it made for the back of my leg. A strangled cry escaped from me as I spun around in a circle flinging my book-laden backpack with all my strength at the attacking beast. I knocked him squarely in the jaw and took off running into the house.

“That dog practically ripped my leg off!” I exclaimed to my mother gasping for breath. She got to her feet and went to the phone as I inspected the rip in my jeans. I assured her I wasn’t damaged, just my favorite jeans. The neighbor was horrified and very apologetic and immediately began to put up a fence the next day. I waited till the fence was completed before I ventured a walk home again.


Water was dripping of my nose, and I was soaked to the skin as I stumbled through the gate trying not to take a mud bath. It was the first time since the fence was built that I had crossed through my back yard. A few steps in and I heard the familiar bark of the lab. I looked to see him on the far side of my neighbor’s lawn. I stopped to watch as he began to charge. He was beautiful really. His feet barely skimming the ground, his ears flapping and the occasional loll of his tongue as it fell out of his mouth. His fur rippled atop his heaving sides. Closer and closer he came, picking up more and more speed. It was then that I realized that he didn’t know the fence was there. Entranced I stood in the pouring rain. My eyes popped out of my head as I saw that glorious dog run full force into the fence! The fence bulged out almost in slow motion as he collided headfirst and the rest of his body compacted into the strangest formation I have ever seen a dog in. Then the fence seemed to spring back suddenly into shape flinging the dog off it with fervor as the dog yelped and staggered away.

I must admit I collapsed, backpack and all onto the rain soaked grass holding my sides in laughter, a fitting end to a dog that tried to eat me for dinner I decided. 🙂


Filed under Humor, Memory, Personal History, Youth

A Love Story

I noticed him on the first day of my second semester. He was just starting his college experience; I was winding down to the end. There were several new members in our symphonic band, 3 of which were French horn players. There was just something about him that caught my eye. I think it was the goofy grin that never quite left his face.

A few weeks into the semester I landed myself on crutches, don’t ask, it’s too embarrassing to tell. It was January, in Rexburg, Idaho, and I had to try my hand at maintaining my balance on a couple of skinny sticks with hardly any traction. Heh. While I am sure I displayed many comic routines as I skidded, flopped, and flew to class, it was also the blame for why I got to know my future hubby so well.

I swung into the music building and turned the corner to the locker room. I was already running a bit late as I tried to keep balanced and yank my horn out of its tiny little space. I had developed the art of holding onto the handrest of my crutches with my thumb so the rest of my fingers could wrap around the handle of my French horn case. The only problem was that the horn would swing and bash into my crutch threatening to take it out completely. After the weeks I had spent on crutches my senior year in high school (due to the toe vs. lawnmower incident) I had become quite proficient at crutch wielding and I was at least able to maintain a certain aspect of dignity, even if I was lying on the ground, heh. By the time I finally managed to bash my way into the concert hall where we held our daily practice our conductor had started warm-ups and I found myself the humiliated center of attention as I proceeded to make my painful way to my seat, tried to balance as I extricated my horn, and then figure out what to do with my crutches.

After practice was over and I was making my way back to the locker room I felt a strong hand wrap itself around my horn and gently take it from me. Surprised I looked up to see him, with that goofy grin on his face. From that point on, he always carried my horn for me. And, me, being the sweet, genteel, demure, creature that I am followed behind, swinging on my crutches, kicking him (not hard of course) in the rear all the way.

He would also perform this routine for me on Tuesday evenings as I went to horn lessons (we had our lessons within 30 minutes of each other) and our group sectional on the same evening. I soon discovered that he spent quite a lot of time there on Tuesdays and I began to purposely arrive there earlier and earlier hoping to see more of him. The thing I did not discover until quite some time later was that he was doing the same thing.

The weeks passed and I finally ditched the crutches in March, but by now he was in the habit of carrying my French horn and our tradition continued as we talked our way into class. One fateful Tuesday evening our group had gotten to talking and it was entering into the hours of twilight as I headed out of the music building when I heard someone jog up behind me. The goofy grin asked if he could drive me home, after all he hadn’t had a chance to talk to his friend (my roommate) in a while. I accepted and off we went.

All our rooms were upstairs in the apartment and that’s where I had gone to change, while he talked with my five roommates. I didn’t know it, but they were talking about me. He was perusing our kitchen and had asked which was my cupboard. They told him and much to his surprise all he found when he opened it were 3 boxes of “yellow death” (mac and cheese) and 5 potatoes. See, I was a poor starving college student. My parents were very helpful, but I was too proud to try and tell them that the $80 they had sent to get me through the rest of the school year just wasn’t going to cut it, so I was squeaking by on my meager budget. Paul was horrified, but knew that I wouldn’t accept help from him so he devised a sneaky plan. He invited me out to dinner.

But don’t get the wrong idea here, it wasn’t a date. Never a date! He simply stated that he had extra money on his food card that he didn’t want to waste and so we went out to the campus restaurant. Our first such dinner we ate spaghetti and ended up talking for 2 hours. My roommates were anxious and upset that I wasn’t home when I usually was until they found out I was with him. Then the teasing began, but I denied it all quickly, after all he had the same name as my brother and that would just be too weird! 🙂 Well, to make a long story short, he kept feeding me, and my sources tell me he kept checking my cupboard too, and it wasn’t too long before we were dating. I left to serve my mission and we were engaged shortly after I returned home. Eight years ago today we were married in the Portland Oregon Temple. These have been the happiest eight years ever, and I look forward to another happy 80. (ooh, and he still has that goofy grin, which I love so, so, much!) 🙂


Filed under Love and Marriage, Youth

Golden Ground Squirrel

Here I sit, a turban upon my head (I just got out of the shower – a day when you’re lucky to even make it to the shower with kids about), a plate of brownies, and a tall glass of iced milk as my companions. (I know, my husband has already declared me the strangest person he knows because I put ice in my milk.) My turban makes me feel wise, all-knowing, ok, well extremely goofy, but I like the all-knowing part. The brownies help balance out my vigorous walk this morning, and the milk is the healthy part of my diet. heh. Ahh, but I forget myself, this is all to set the mood for the story I am about to write. The failing fluorescent light flickers dimly above me (apparently I’ve forgotten to turn it off) and the warm yellow glow of the desk lamp illuminates the keyboard, as I type this very sentence.

The tale I am about to tell is a tragic comedy, or a comedic tragedy, and takes place some 15 years ago or so, when I was but a young lass on summer vacation during high school. (mmm, you should try these brownies . . . )

The little black nose sniffed delicately at the crackers and glanced suspiciously around. Free food? A hesitant paw reached out and snatched up the first one and then began to follow the trail. A small delicate golden figure weaved drunkenly between the trail of crackers, no doubt suffering from an overdose of cracker preservatives. At one point the little figure stops and eyes the end of the trail warily, the last of the crackers is sitting in a soft squishy cup, the color of pale peach roses. It seems to be attached to something large with big eyes (and rather ferocious teeth behind the attempt at a smile). It can’t understand the strange babble coming out of its mouth. He eyes it warily, stationary, still. The strange thing quits making noises and sits quiet, and motionless. Cautiously the little figure creeps up, slower and slower, until it is eating out the soft squishy cup and doesn’t even realize the box being placed around it.

“We got it!” I was excited as my mom dusted off her hands. We had entertained a number of the small rodent society, namely chipmunks, but here I had a Golden Ground Squirrel (which looks amazingly like a chipmunk). We weren’t being mean, the squirrel had been dashing about the parking lot from one car to another begging and had become so tame it was going to be killed, so we had decided to capture it, enjoy it at home for a while and then let it go in some wild place far from cars. My mother lovingly built a giant tower cage with branches of all shapes and sizes, and a food shute that closed from the outside. The little squirrel seemed very happy among the giants he was so curious about.


“Ahh, we’re home!” I sighed as we pulled up in the driveway, home was a beautiful sight after 14 long hours in the car. We extricated our legs from the pressing confines of our automobile and stretched our weary muscles. I eyed my mom as she and dad walked into the house. I knew where they were headed . . . I believe in honoring your mother and father but when it comes to hitting the bathroom after a long road trip, it’s every man for himself, and I charge in the house, exclaiming, “Gotta go! Gotta go!” The wild race was on. Dad hit the main bath first and Mom and I surged on to the master bath. She beat me by a tenth of an inch. I turned laughing, to dance before either door until they opened, when my mother gave a surprised exclamation, “Oh dear!”

“What’s up?” I asked inquisitively.
She pointed to the toilet. There floating sadly in the toilet was our sweet little ground squirrel. The only thing I could think to say was, “He had to pee? I didn’t realize he was house broken!”
When greeted by a dead squirrel in your toilet, it is a bit hard to be sad and sympathetic. Things like, “his poor little legs couldn’t reach”, “I didn’t think you ate squirrel, let alone whole!” or “mom! I didn’t think you had it in you” etc, kept floating to my brain interchanged with bursts of laughter. I charged through the house sounding the alarm, “The squirrel drowned in the toilet!” Soon the family was gathered in a solemn memorial around our toilet, gazing into the bowl, with somber expressions upon our faces, an intermittent chuckle scattered here and there. It was discovered that the young man watching our animals while we were away didn’t fasten the food hatch securely and the squirrel wanted to explore his new home a little more extensively than he was preciously permitted. The cause of death was drowning. But I have yet to decided if he was trying to pee, or just thirsty.

In the end, all I can say is, (quoting ‘Anne of Green Gables’) “I suppose it was a romantic way to die, for a squirrel.”

This post was inspired by Perpetual Chocoholic (and follow up) Oooh, and “to pee a squirrel” has an entire different meaning to me! lol! 🙂


Filed under Goofs, Humor, Memory, Youth


Weekly Anamnesis #19

I loved to draw as child, though much of my drawing was simply a copy of already existing cartoon characters. I was confined to what I could see with little creativity to add. I could not figure out how to take the same character and orchestrate their bodies into a different pose, which caused much frustration to my young mind. My father is a spectacular artist through natural talent and ability and really never had any classes on art, somehow I just missed that particular boat (along with singing).

I decided to take an art class in high school, hoping for some guiding hand to show me the way. My teacher, unfortunately, was mediocre at best and we were confined to drawing and rather middle school level at that. I do remember one illustration I did. We had to find a house in a magazine and draw it in ink. I called mine “Haunted” as it was mostly black with a rather eerie air about it. It is not fantastic or perfect or incredible. In fact I hated it, though my parents argued vehemently that it was quite good. But they are parents, and prone to love our creative endeavors. Some one must have liked it though. It ended up somehow in a highschool art show at a library 20 minutes away. That town’s newspaper put it in their article about the show. I had no idea until one day a letter showed up from a church member in my mailbox.

He had included a copy of the article and my illustration, with a hand written sticky note attached, “Great work!”

Maybe some day I will finally take that art class or have time to sit idly trying to draw, but not at present. I still have that newspaper somewhere, and maybe even the orginal. I didn’t keep them because they were great, but more because some cared enough (who wasn’t related or obligated in any way) to encourage me.


Filed under Anamnesis, Memory, Writing, Youth