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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Best recipes for barking dogs.

Dear Readers:

Many of you have written me with the following question… “How do I get my neighbors dogs to stop barking?”

First let me say "why are you bothering me with your questions? Like I don’t have a life."

Second, let me say, "thank you for asking," because it happens that I do have a solution to this and many other problems that a dad has to face while pretending to be the one running the household.

There is an order to things as far as hushing a mutt is concerned. First, see if you can live with the ruckus by any means you can control, like new insulation, installing sound efficient windows and doors, hanging new curtains, stapling a sleeping bag around big windows, or  prescription pharmaceuticals.

If those are not an option, see if you have spare change to donate to the ruffians club. Our local ruffians will spray paint messages in the sidewalk in front of the offender’s home in the color(s) of your choice. Nothing says "stop barking" like graffiti.

Next to last is to confront the culprit directly. Walk right up to the dog’s owner and say…"My baby is sleeping," or some other lie.

All those stories about honesty being the best policy? Not true with neighbors. Lie like the dickens.

As far as notes, cakes with messages in frosting, candy grams, petitions. Don’t bother. Offending pet owners will just feed them to the dog who will then be allowed the freedom to poop on your lawn. And you will never get your plate back.

When the police come a knocking at their door, everyone says, "oh, if I had only known my Fido was bothering someone I would have done something about it. They should have come to me first."

Blaa, bla, blaaa.  That’s what we all say, but no one changes a dog’s routine unless officer friendly issues a warning/ticket. Start by calling the cops and save the friendship.

If worse comes to worse, let me offer this website on tenderizing meat...www.ochef.com/358.htm

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Mormon "Stuff"

When I was young, growing up in what I would learn later was the Mormon corridor, I invited a friend to my house to play. This was not something I usually did because I was not one of the kids cool enough to have friends over.

I was young. My world was small. And everything hinged on dinosaurs.

Immature Toys
Green: I am a Mormon Dinosaur
Red: I know you are, but what am I?
My friend Glenn walked into the house and the first thing he wanted to do was compare our dinosaur collections which, for me, took less than a minute. I was not interested in dinosaurs, but I was interested in having a friend, and the latter meant having the former in my book.

I had only three dinosaurs -- one of them borrowed for the occasion. One was built from a model and looked part zombie. His head snapped off to the left which should have been cool but wasn’t. The other was a tiger, really, but I filed it down in places until it looked saber-toothy.

After a few minutes of dinosauring, Glenn walked around the house “just to look,” he said. Once he had gone through most of the house and silently approved, he asked where all my Mormon stuff was.

I didn’t understand the question and asked him to clarify. He said his dad was Catholic and his mother was Protestant, and they had church stuff in their house -- a crucifix, a painting of sainted Mary, and a family bible. Glenn knew from people at school we were Mormon, so he asked, “Where is your stuff?”

All I could think to show him was my second-place trophy for my pinewood derby car. It was something all boys made during Cub Scouts, which was sponsored by our church. He liked the car my dad carved for me (I had nothing to do with its creation) but that didn’t really answer his question.

I looked around my house. All I could find was a framed picture of my Aunt Jamar and her new husband at the Idaho Falls Temple entrance on the day of their marriage. Glenn nodded -- he knew what the Mormon temple was.

I had a CTR ring somewhere in a drawer -- an emblem with initials for Choose The Right would have been perfect, but I forgot about it.

As a family, we went to church every Sunday morning, noon and evening (no combined three-hour block then), as well as some weekdays. We held family home evening and wore modest clothing, but as far as Glenn was concerned, there was something missing.

I am not suggesting the answer to our life’s problems is to put our religion on display, to focus on things as beliefs, or build worldly mansions of righteous, as my Grandma Hurren would say. A lovely framed expression hung over the fireplace means exactly nothing if it is displayed for appearances only, something I try to teach my children.

Such stuff, however, can be an outward expression of one's inner belief or commitment, as can a cross, an act of kindness, a star of David, kind words, a Book of Mormon, and so on.

What does being an active Mormon cause me to do that I may not choose to do if I were, say, Mennonite, Methodist, or Muslim? What would I believe in my heart, and what would be the outward manifestation of those beliefs? What would I teach my children?

If Glenn were to visit today, I hope he would see my “Mormon stuff,” -- partly because I like to paint and frame and collect and partly because I believe having it around helps me to remember daily what I believe in, what I am committed to.

Today my kids invite their friends over. One of my son’s friends is a Muslim and, even though she is in my house, I ask her the same thing (knowing full well she won’t be carrying around religious objects de art). What I am really asking is, what does she believe?

Where is her stuff?

I recently learned she was practicing a month of fasting called Ramadan -- something I had heard about but only slightly. We adjusted our eating/snacking schedule on the days she was visiting.

Every once in a while I ask her to teach me something concerning her beliefs. I often see similarities between her religion and my own, as do my children.

Religious stuff is all around.

This little piggy went to market...
My good friend from college recently tattooed on her foot “Hunger Sucks.” She is carrying around her religious stuff -- the stuff of her beliefs. What she believes in is making sure people don’t go hungry.

What would Glenn think if he saw my life today? Would he know what I professed to believe in by how I act, by what I consider my treasure, by my Mormon stuff?

Several weeks ago, as my son changed bedrooms, I saw a new plaque on his bedroom wall -- a churchy thing with a scripture and a semi-lofty saying on it.

I smiled, proud he was accruing some "stuff" -- something that reminded him of what he wanted to believe in.

Even prouder when I saw him act like he believed

Monday, August 6, 2012

Not Invited to the Wedding

Realistically, unless I get a call in the next 32 minutes with a verbal invitation, or a text and an address, I won’t be at my daughter’s wedding. Neither will anyone on our side of the family.
My wife found out two hours ago that the previously rumored wedding, just yesterday denied, is on for 4 p.m. today. But Myelda is hush on the address.
Myelda (not her real name) is 20-ish and has a lovely child I affectionately call Buggy because his real name sounds like an industrial bug killer.
I love my daughter, I love my grandson and I am thrilled with the chance I have to have them both in my life.
When Captain Woman ruled the earth
And here is where my lovely and genteel Gramma Hurren, who accepted everyone and was loved by all,will turn over in her grave, because I am going to say out loud that I don’t like Myelda’s boyfriend. Some call him the “baby daddy,” and in — well, 18 minutes now — some will be calling him the husband.
I recall that my father-in-law was not all that happy with me when I married my wife, and, being the second husband, there was balking all around. Some of it I simply had to live through, and some of it only dissipated when I proved that I was planning on staying around for a while.
Am I fair to put this guy through the same, if more compound ringer?
While my own past ain’t so pretty, it pales in comparison to this guy’s past. But this is not the point. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether I like the guy or not. The bottom line is that based on recent and factual history, I do not feel that this guy is capable of taking care of Myelda and Buggy, and dad's are supposed to make sure their children are safe.
Fourteen minutes.
Since she announced that she was pregnant last year and, for all intents and purposes, moved in with this guy’s group of friends, I have been trying to prepare for today. My church leaders — to whom I look for guidance in situations like this where I feel completely inadequate — tell me that I need to relax and let my daughter make her own decisions and to be supportive of her.
There is much rhetoric centering around “being supportive of her, but not her necessarily her choices.” I just haven’t been able to do it. How do I separate my daughter from what she does?
After all, I love her for what she does. I love her when I see her being compassionate toward her sister, or when I look at a photo of her posing as captain woman on her way to school for the first time. I love her when I think of the silly dance she used to do down the stairs to when we listened to old CDs.
I love her to death. And I hate what she is doing or allowing others to do to her and to her son.
Less than 8 minutes. No call. Should I just drive around Central Utah county looking for a wedding Isn’t there someone I can call — some kind of stop-a-wedding alert button?
This may be the issue that will define who I am as a person. When the move is made in Myelda’s life, am I going to be portrayed as Kevin Bacon’s dad in “Footloose” by some staunch guy with several chins? I will be the Mormon priesthood equivalent of "The Church Lady."
I always thought I would be the liberal arts trained, free-spirited bohemian — part of the new Mormon regimes’ front line of sensitive compassionate fathers. I was the one in the family voted most likely to channel Gramma Hurren's kindness and good will toward all. There is the rub.
Option one: In my church, fathers are told that they — we — have responsibility to lead, guide and keep our family safe. With this in mind, am I the one with the guts to call a spade a spade and, as the patriarch of my family, lead and guide with a firm hand, keeping Myelda and her son safe?
Or, is what I call “keeping my family safe” really just make me an unforgiving stereotypical fool that doesn’t budge because of his interpretation of morals and standards?
In just writing that, I know that option is not an option.
Still,because of what I know about this guy, I don’t trust him in my house, let alone … and here I am back at the beginning. In the long run, concerning the safety of my daughter and grandson, I would rather be accused of saying too much than for not saying enough when I had the chance.
After so many years of wasting everyone’s time as a dad, I suppose it was inevitable that I wouldn’t have much positive influence on Myelda. There was just too much time not being there. There is a point at which efforts are too little, too late.  That may explain why no invite for me. But she loves her mother and the rest of her family.
Its 4 o’clock.  The deed is done.  Everything is different now.  Officially he is family, and family deserves second chances.
My phone is sitting on the table next to me, not ringing. I texted my congratulations and told her I loved her. She texted back that she loves me, too.
So, who really is getting the second chance?