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Lori's Blog

Where editor Lori Hunsaker shares some of her sometimes meaningful, often random, thoughts and musings.

December 14, 2011

Old age ain't fer sissies

I'm a member of two very exclusive, yet universal, clubs. Membership is jealously guarded and imposters are soon found out and appropriately shunned.
The most recent club I joined has not been a lifetime goal. In fact, when I was younger, I looked on members as boring, pathetic and somewhat embarrassing. Funny what the passage of time can do to a person's perception. Actually, I don't think it's the passage of time itself that brings the new attitude. I think it's my involuntary and/or unwilling participation in some of the activities that lead to membership which create the shift in attitude.
The first time I was aware of this club was when I observed my grandparents at family gatherings and heard snippets of conversation. The words were unfamiliar yet unsettling and stirred a vague sense of dread. "Gout" comes to mind. So does "Gall bladder attack" or maybe something like "Aunt Selma's condition."
When the little kids intruded into the conversation's arena - whether in the front room with its quaint matching sofa ensemble or a cluster of lawn chairs under the big tree in the back yard - eyes were averted and the topic quickly changed.
I didn't pay much attention back then. But in the teen years, when my parents, aunts and uncles got a little older, I noticed the same phenomenon. Although the words were different, I still felt the same uneasiness and dread as I brushed against the periphery of the conversation while wandering through the front room. "High blood pressure" or "heart attack" or "varicose veins" or "nervous breakdown" were a few phrases I remember. "Hernia" was oft repeated as well.
I paid a little more attention this time but still didn't give it much thought.
When I gave birth in my early twenties, I joined the great sisterhood which encompasses women of all ages. It was phenomenal. In that great sisterhood, time ceases to exist for a roomful of women, ages 23 to 94, who discuss various aspects of pregnancy and childbirth. As I'm learning, the older I get (my last delivery was nearly 27 years ago), time cannot erase the discomfort, nausea, pain, excruciating pain, power, joy, wonder of those experiences.
I digress. Fertile topic for another time.
When I joined the great sisterhood, some of the rules and catch phrases seemed familiar and I realized they reminded me of the hushed conversations of the elderly I overheard while growing up. That gave me an added insight.
As my older siblings and cousins started talking about some of the symptoms of declining health and getting older, I realized they were joining that second club, the medical ailments of the aging on their way to elderly. I paid a lot more attention this time. Creaking joints, failing eyesight and hearing, menopause, osteoporosis, midlife crisis, forgetfulness. The more frightening ones include Alzheimers, dementia and cancer. And the number of "procedures" is endless and provides an unlimited source of hilarious anecdotes.
There was a fair amount of joking, bravado and boasting that "aging ain't fer sissies." But the unease and dread were still there under the surface and yet palpable. The old adage that misery loves company is so true. Saying something aloud and having it understood by others allows us to laugh in the face of the threat, helps us find some courage and strength to face our fallibility and mortality.
As I've joined the club in full membership, it's no longer boring, although still a little pathetic and embarrassing. I'm getting some new pains, creaky joints, locking up of muscles when I sit too long and other aging-related unpleasantness which need not be discussed in this forum. I'm very fortunate my most serious procedure thus far has been a colonoscopy, with the very best of results. I've been told, twice, what a lovely colon I have. So lovely, in fact, a framed photo of an especially attractive cross-section is proudly on display at the home of one of my offspring.
The discussion of colonoscopies has a dual purpose - the anecdotal factor and the reminder/assurance to a friend that they should get one and they really aren't that bad. Once they've scheduled the procedure and are fully committed, you can mention the preparation necessary the day before the procedure. For as bad as the procedure isn't, the preparation is. And that's where the anecdotes come in. Again, specifics need not be discussed in this forum.
But for a gathering of two or more oldsters, the sky's the limit.


November 2, 2011

For whom the phone rings


When my cell phone rings, I don't know who should answer. The call could be for Proud Mama, Hopeful Truck Buyer, Teenage Girl or Irritated Consumer getting another junk call.
I can't find out who is calling before I answer because when I flip my phone open it picks up the call; no peeking to see which one of me should answer. So I take a deep breath, close my eyes, say hello and hope for the best.
Proud Mama calls are always fun. They make me tired (on behalf of the beleaguered parents of my young grandchildren) as I hear about babies waking up in the night, vomiting or diaper blowouts. The conversations usually center around the antics of the grandkids. There are usually sound effects from the grandkids, whether they are happy or sad sounds, they are always loud. But I enjoy all of it since they are my favorite people.
I haven't gotten very many Hopeful Truck Buyer calls; other hopeful truck buyers seem to get there first. I'll keep looking - the right truck is out there and I'll find it. I'm expecting a call back from Kyle any minute. I left him a message 45 minutes ago. I'll be sitting in my bright blue Toyota by tomorrow, right?
Wrong. No luck there, but maybe Cynthia will be around today when I try a second time to test drive her Toyota (sigh).
That brings us to Teenage Girl. It's been years and years since she's reared her irrational head. She made a brief appearance when I read the Twilight series and Edward gave me butterflies. But once I finished the books I was able to get her back in her box and I've kept her locked up tight until about a month ago.
That's when I subscribed to an online dating website. After 18 years of being single, I decided it was time to get back out there on the dating scene. It's brutal and the teenager only makes it worse. I was telling my daughter, Kristi, about the teenager's reappearance and she had the audacity of adding the word 'insecure' to the description. At first I bristled at the implication, but upon reflection, I begrudgingly admitted she was right.
Who else but an insecure teenage girl would freak out if the guy doesn't call after he said he would, and then she finds out he is on the website (there's a 'Who's Online Now' feature, a great place to mingle and spy on each other).
"Why is he on there instead of calling me? Does he think he'll find someone better than me? I can't help it if my hair is turning grey. I can't defy gravity - sagging and wrinkling happen. There's nothing wrong with being 55. He's probably chatting right now with some cutesy bimbo who can't even spell. What a jerk. I don't want someone like that calling me anyway."
Just then the phone rings. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, open the phone and say in a very grown-up, inviting voice, "Hello."
I shouldn't have bothered. The call is for Irritated Consumer. The recording is offering a great rate on a new credit card.


September 29, 2010

2010 Garden gets a C-

As the calendar eases into October it’s time to give an accounting for my gardening efforts. I won most of the battles with the deer, but it is such a pain to pick my tomatoes and strawberries because of the bird netting. I’ve been able to harvest enough of them to can about 16 quarts of tomatoes and freeze a one-gallon freezer bag of strawberries. The strawberries are still going strong with the warm weather so there will probably be a second bag. I froze a one-gallon freezer bag of my very own peaches as well. I bought half a bushel of peaches from a fruit stand and froze about five freezer bags. Fresh peaches are my favorite fruit of all.
Remember my ‘three sisters’ project? It was downhill after the photo of my tiny little seedlings - one corn stalk, one bean plant and one squash/pumpkin/cantaloupe plant. I planted six sets of ‘sisters.’ The zucchini took over its group. The pumpkin vine ran rampant and I’ll be harvesting two or three pumpkins. The deer took bites out of one of the biggest pumpkins about two weeks ago. I did have one ‘sister’ with all three plants but the squash grew about two feet and had a couple of pathetic leaves, the bean vine produced three measly, skinny beans and the corn didn’t produce at all.
Hey, let’s talk about corn. I planted the six ‘sisters’ and then a row of about 15 corn plants. I harvested about 15 ears of corn, the biggest one about 7 inches long. Words can’t really describe the ears I did harvest so here are a few samples. They remind me of a mouth with missing and/or mangled teeth in need of thousands of dollars of work and implants.
The corn didn’t taste good either. You may not see corn growing in my yard ever again. The deer may be a little disappointed because they sampled that, along with everything else.
I’d have to rate this a not so great year, but maybe I’ll have better luck next year.

July 8, 2010

Spiral Jetty

I went with some of my children and grandchildren to the Spiral Jetty last Saturday. It felt a little like a trip to Mars. The red water with whitecaps and sea foam was an eerie site. The water is red because of some algae which release beta-carotene into the water.

We were a little disappointed the jetty wasn't more spiral. But we still had a great time. It was windy (thus the whitecaps on the water) and a little on the chilly side. Even so we frolicked in the waves, Luke sank into some icky mud and we enjoyed our picnic.

As we were leaving, Beth drove ahead a little to find a place to turn around and as she approached a small bend she saw something out in the water. She drove further to investigate and there was the real Spiral Jetty. We'd spent a couple of hours at the oil jetty, thinking we were at a really lame spiral jetty.

We decided there should be a sign at the oil jetty which reads “This isn't it. Keep going.”



May 29, 2010

Three Sisters

Here are the three sisters: pole bean on the left (the bugs have already started in on its tender green leaves), corn in the center and a butternut squash on the right.

I love this time of year since the seeds I planted a couple of weeks ago are starting to come up. It amazes me every year. As always I watch the ground anxiously, checking every single day for that tiny hint of green.  
The other great thing is that the weeds haven’t taken over yet and I  have the mistaken notion there’s a fighting chance to conquer them this year.
I’m trying an experiment this season, something I learned watching Victory Garden on KUED. The three sisters are planted to create a symbiotic trio. Corn is planted alongside pole beans (which will use the cornstalk as a support) and squash, pumpkins or other ground growing plant. 
At the time of harvest a chef on Victory Garden demonstrated how to make succotash from the fresh produce. That’s what I’m going to try. I’ve never had succotash before so I’ll have no expectations about it except that it will be delicious. That’s pretty realistic.
I’ll keep readers  up to date on how the experiment is going.


Dragon Dome

I’ve got a pest problem but fortunately I’ve come up with an amazing solution.
First, the problem. There’s a small herd of deer living in the thicket of Russian olive trees in the pasture south of my backyard. I started paying more attention to them when they started eating my tulips.
Because of my highly honed skills of observation developed by many years as a reporter, I noticed tell-tale signs, the tulip blossoms were gone and there were little hoof prints in the ground around the ravaged plants.
I was willing to live with that irritant in my life. But then I planted strawberries, a lot of strawberries. They were starting to green up with their cute little leaves braving April’s cold weather but then one morning I noticed the strawberry beds were bare. I went outside and saw they had been bitten off and there were many, many deer hoof prints in the beds.
I was fuming and raging, calling the deer bad names and fantasizing about pellet guns.
Instead, I bought some bird netting and draped it over some hoops covering the strawberries. It seems to have worked so far. But I found out from Semm (who has been battling deer carnage for years) here at the News Journal that deer have been known to eat tomato blossoms as well. I needed a better plan.
A few days later I was on Riverdale Road in Ogden and saw a corner lot full of horses, a cow, moose, alligators and a glorious dragon. These large cast aluminum statuary pieces were very lifelike. I was intrigued and had a flash of insight, I needed to buy the dragon and put him on top of my stone-covered dome. He was about four feet tall with his wings partially unfolded.
I started to obsess about the dragon and decided I wanted him for Mother’s Day. My kids are very indulgent with me. I often tell them “Every day is Mother’s Day for Lori.” So I found a photo of a similar dragon and Photoshopped it onto my dome and emailed it to all the kids, thanking them in advance for the gift.
It was fun to watch for their responses. Beth recounted a conversation she had with her husband, Gabe. “Is your mom serious?” he asked. With total uncertainty (which is rare for Beth) she said, “I don’t know!”
I assured them I wasn’t serious, even though I really wanted to be.
Jeremy told me I’d have to prove to him that I could handle a dragon. The first step would be to watch the movie, How to Train Your Dragon.
Luke shook his head as he laughed and told me he loved me.
Tiffany said I’d have to use my imagination.
Kristi didn’t see it for a few days but was delighted I would want a dragon.
If I had a dragon, deer wouldn’t be a problem ever again. Neither would obnoxious visitors. I’m sure the dragon and I would share thoughts the way they do in my favorite fantasy novels. I could just ask the dragon to scare them off. That would be so cool.
There is one possible flaw in my nearly perfect plan which Semm pointed out to me. She asked me if dragons liked strawberries.
Does anyone know the answer to that question?



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