Tuesday, January 25, 2011


There's nothing like a first impression … or a second, or third, or whatever it takes to make a good one!

I make retainers for peoples mouths. They need to fit. The problem is, no matter how talented I am or how meticulous I work, the quality of the final product cannot be better than the quality of the model provided. In other words, if someone else does inferior work, my work will inevitably be inferior and there is nothing I can do to fix it. Frustrating.

Okay, there are a few things that I can try to make the product a bit better, such as build a tooth where there wasn't one or whittle away a glob of plaster that doesn't belong, but I can only use my experience and imagination hoping that I am getting a “close” rendition of the actual mouth. It will, however, never be quite the same.

Here's what I think …

*First impressions might be poor, but it is worth the effort to try to rectify them.

*Others cannot fix our mistakes, however, they often pay for our errors and shortcomings.

*Even the best imitation is not as good as the original.

That's my sermon for today!

Friday, January 14, 2011

I built it. Now where is everybody?

This day marks the 93rd Anniversary of my father's birth. Dad, Wells, has been gone for a few years, but that doesn't mean we can't do some celebrating. Today, we eat cake.

“Why don't you build me a cake?”

I can't count how many times I heard that expression while growing up. The wonder is that Esther would usually do just that – build a cake.

Building a cake is different than opening a box and dumping a couple eggs and some oil in the mix. Building a cake requires much more effort, hence the term.

At the Green house, we have a favorite cake to build. We've dubbed it Chocolate Thud. However, on this day we consume Dad's favorite – Burnt Sugar Cake. It is quite an undertaking to build a Burnt Sugar Cake.

First, one must burn the sugar!

Patience is golden, as is the sugar once it is burnt.

Then, hot water must be added to thin the sugar into a caramel syrup. The syrup must cool.

Round cake pans are required because this isn't your run of the mill, leave it in the pan, Chocolate Thud. A Burnt Sugar Cake must be layered in frosting. ( It has been my experience that this is to moisten the actual cake. I'm still perfecting the process.)

Shortening, sugar, and egg yolks (yes, one must separate the eggs) are creamed together and caramel syrup added.

Add dry ingredients.

Egg whites are beaten until firm and then folded into the rest of the batter.

I suspect that this recipe contains too much leavening at the cakes nearly climb out of the pan and then, sadly, they fall in the middle. It might take some tweaking.

The cooled cakes require some remodeling as they are uneven. I put my sharpest knife to use and hide the repairs with a spackling of frosting that has been flavored with leftover caramel syrup. (Nelsons – I am sorry, but I couldn't retrieve the frosting recipe from Esther's memory.)

It isn't our favorite cake, but it was Dad's, so it is our favorite on January 14.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

No More Excuses

My family either believes I WANT to get in shape, or they believe I NEED to get in shape. How do I know this? Here is my Christmas list of items received ...

One Road Bike
One Indoor Trainer - see photo
One Sportline Watch
One Pair of Yaktrax

Whew! I'm tired just thinking about using all this stuff!

It was a pretty good haul. I have yet to try out the road bike due to the frigid temps. The wind chill factor created by added speed from such a fast set of wheels has kept me on my feet and off my bike. I am anxious for a warm day!

The Yaktrax are still in the box because the roads, although frigid, are dry and I have not needed extra traction the few times I have gone for a run since opening my Christmas gifts.

I am learning to use the Sportline watch, complete with Heart Rate Monitor, Calorie Burn Calculator, Timer, and Stopwatch. It takes some coordination and practice. I have found it useful as a motivator to push a little harder to run a second mile a little faster than the first. Learning about Heart Rate Target Zones has aided me as I begin using the other toy ...

The Indoor Trainer! It's harder than it looks. In order to keep the road bikes free and ready to hit the pavement the minute a warm day arrives, we mounted a mountain bike on the trainer. Those who know KNOW that riding a mountain bike requires a lot more effort than does a road bike. The trainer is in a cool room with a ceiling fan. Here is what I have learned ...

Five minutes - Getting warmed up. (14 mph. Heart Rate - 125 bpm) Music is a motivator.

Ten minutes - Sweat drips from my face. (16 mph. Heart Rate - 135 - 140 bpm) Important to have a towel handy. No wind chill factor here.

Fifteen minutes - Quads are burning. (18 mph. Heart Rate - 150 - 160 bpm) Try to hold steady for five more minutes.

Twenty minutes - The towel is wet. (16 mph. Heart Rate - still pretty high!) Five more minutes to cool down!

Twenty-five minutes - It takes two more minutes for my legs to stop their rotation!

The watch keeps me motivated. The speedometer on the bike gives me a target for my heart rate. An iPod helps pass the time, as does checking my heart rate occasionally. It's all in my house.

No more excuses!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Hallelujah! Patience really can be learned!

Maybe my perspective has just changed. I pride myself on my sugar cookies - not so much their presentation, but their flavor and texture. They do take a bit more work than regular old drop cookies. And the mess! Sugar cookies, therefore, are not a staple at the Green Residence as are Chocolate Chip Cookies.

When my children were small I took complete control of the mixing, rolling, cutting out, and baking of sugar cookies. I left the decorating up to them. After all, if the cookie tastes good, who cares what color the icing?

Imagine the family's surprise when I pulled out the cookie making supplies, dragged a chair to the cabinet, wrapped my granddaughter in an adult sized apron, and let her help! Fortunately, she was patient and stayed with the process.

I slowed down, enjoying the journey. She peeked over the rim of the mixing bowl as the motor whirred. She was ever so happy to throw flour on the counter as we rolled the dough. I took time to let her choose the shapes. When she mashed her hand into the dough I traced the outline and made "hands" for Mommy, Daddy, and Bompa. I enjoyed the adventure so much that I joined in the decorating. Actually, I did most of the decorating as she was busy tasting the different colors of icing!

I'm wondering ... does patience come with age, or is it just another bonus for being a grandma?

Lucky Friday

I was only trying to show my niece and her daughters a good time at Bogus Basin Ski Resort. The mountain I learned to ski upon. The mountain we frequent a dozen times every year. My Mountain!

Spring skiing is so great! The weather is enjoyable. Nobody cries to go indoors because they are freezing. You can get a suntan.

Never mind there was a plane to catch. Never mind there was a track meet to attend. Never mind the snow was rapidly turning to slush. It was Spring! Spring skiing is so great!

Never mind I’m pushing fifty. Never mind I decided to take an alternate route and six-year-old Shyan decided to go with me. Never mind my cell phone was losing its charge.

Never mind I misjudged my location! Never mind my brother-in-law is Director of Mountain Operations and would kill me if he had to send search and rescue! Never mind, never mind, never mind!

But mind I did when I realized we had two choices. We could take the path of least resistance and slide down into a gully that must come out somewhere. I minded that I had seen others in that gully and I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in there. Or … we could climb ever so slightly and come out on my favorite run. Or so I thought!

Never mind my favorite run was two crests away! Those crests were separated by ravines.

So up we climbed up … and down. Then up … and down. Shyan was beginning to show signs of panic. This apparent from the ascent up the music scale and increase in volume of her cries of “Aunt Carol, where are we?” and “Aunt Carol, are we lost?”

No Shyan, we aren’t lost. We’re at Bogus Basin!” That was all I was certain of – we were at Bogus Basin and Shyan had a plane to catch to visit her father in Seattle. Oh, and I was also certain I didn’t know how I had led her to the place I had, nor how I would lead her out! I hoped Shyan couldn’t hear the panic rising in my own voice.

When things seem really bad, they usually find a way to get just a little bit worse. That’s how it was when I triggered a mini avalanche sliding fifteen feet down an extremely steep slope. I had been attempting to lead Shyan to safety, coaxing her to sing “Do as I’m Doing, Follow, Follow Me!” an old Sunday School song, in an attempt to keep her panic at a manageable level.

The effort required to climb while lugging six-foot-long skis and ski boots on my feet was beginning to exhaust me. I was hot, so I opened the zipper to my jacket, removed my gloves and hat, and made a fruitless attempt to use my cell phone. It probably would not have found a signal if the battery had been charged. We shall never know.

After my unfortunate slide, I could not see Shyan for she was positioned above me and behind a tree. My legs began to tremble and I feared that I was exhausted. Shyan was crying that her leg hurt. I did not know if she was safe or injured. I began to panic. We were alone in an area other skiers were unlikely to venture and I had no way to signal our location.

I could not call for help, and yet I did. I cried out loud, “Father! Help me!” There was no need to explain my predicament, for HE surely knew! Calmness came over me and my thoughts were clear. I knew what to do. I removed my skis and used them much as one would a tree limb hanging over a river bank. I jammed one into the side of the mountain and then the other pulling myself up and jamming the toes of my boots into the snow with each step – a little higher - slowly climbing to safety. I slipped a time or two, but never so far back as I had begun and I continued to progress.

When I arrived at the origination of my decent, I rested a moment, still unsure as to where we should go. We were lost at Bogus Basin. I continued to assure Shyan that we were inside Bogus and we couldn’t be lost because Uncle Steve would find us as long as we were still inside Bogus. I dreaded the moment I faced Uncle Steve!

As I stepped into my skis – a monumental task considering the degree of my fatigue – Shyan pointed to a small rise and asked “Aunt Carol, can we go up there?” There was a large outcropping of rock on a small knoll. It looked as good a place as any. I still had no idea how to get to the safety of the ski lift at the bottom of the hill. Only one problem, it required a little more climbing! The snow was very loose and the going precarious but we carefully made our way to the top of the knoll. I stopped to rest. My trembling legs welcomed the reprieve.

Lucky Friday!” Shyan shouted.

Huh?” I panted. I think it was a Thursday.

Lucky Friday!” she repeated.

I followed the direction of her outstretched arm and beheld a black ski run sign that read “Lucky Friday.”

Aunt Carol, can we go there?” This time she pleaded!

I laughed, relieved that we were indeed still at Bogus Basin and we had actually discovered a marked run. It was a run I dreaded because I knew its location, the black double diamond marker, and the condition of the snow combined to create a challenge I would not welcome even if my legs were fresh, but it was a marked run and it would eventually lead us to safety.

I could not keep up with Shyan as she sped as quickly as her short skis could carry her through the trees to where she knew her mother was surely waiting. I picked my way through the maze stopping often to rest and make a very ugly, very novice-like turn to avoid a tree.

Much laughter ensued when we emerged from the trees at the bottom of the hill. It was the nervous laughter of relief, followed by a few tears. Uncle Steve was nowhere to be seen, for which I was extremely grateful. The search and rescue had not yet been activated. I would live! My nephew, Nathan, Uncle Steve’s boy who grew up on the mountain asked, “Did you see Castle Greyskull?” Castle Greyskull was the name he and his brother had dubbed the outcropping of rock that Shyan had determined we should follow.

Yeah, I guess we did. And we came out on Lucky Friday!” I added.

Did you actually see the Lucky Friday marker?” he asked a little amazed.

Yeah, we did,” I panted. “I didn’t know there was a run called Lucky Friday.”

Nathan shook his head and quietly stated, “I’ve never seen the Lucky Friday marker.”

How often do events occur that prove both comical and very earthshaking at the same time? The family had a lot of laughs about Aunt Carol getting Shyan lost at Bogus Basin. It is a story that will be told for years amongst the skiing and non-skiing relatives alike. What a joke! Carol got lost at Bogus and Shyan had to find the way out! Yes, we all make light of it. But for me, it was sobering. How quickly did I turn the wrong way when I felt certain I knew what I was doing? How scared did I get before I turned to the only source that could help me? And even after that, I continued to slip, never so far down as the first time, but it took increased effort and many attempts before I reached my goal. And what of the child? In the Book of Mormon it states, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (2 Nephi 21:6) How often does one overlook the faith, optimism, and humility of youth? I was fortunate. On that “Lucky Friday,” or Thursday, I was reminded of several lessons, most especially to remember to exercise the humility of a child.