Friday, July 27, 2012

The Preparedness mindset....on a cruise!

This is a view from a Alaska.  Rooster Sr and I went on an Alaskan cruise a few weeks ago....and had a blast!  It was one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities and we tried to take advantage of each port of call.    This photo is of a lake....on which we the middle of a mountain range. The pilot said that the ice just melted enough to allow the plane to land.  True to form, after stepping out on to the plane floats, several large pieces of ice floated right by.  

When we were planning to go on this trip, it required planning.  I wanted to share with you some of the things we did...brought....learned.

As you might expect, each state room had an emergency plan on the door.  They required everyone to practice emergency procedures and to learn where your gathering station was.  (They did not allow photos of this....or I would have shown you).  Each area had a sign so that you quickly found your station.  Each station leader had a list of names that should be gathered there.  Take home:  have a predetermined place to meet and a list of emergency numbers for family members in case of an emergency.

It was funny to us, but a huge bottle of wine was waiting for us when we arrived. As we do not drink alcohol, we gave it to the steward....he seemed pretty happy about it!  Rooster Sr, cleared out the mini-fridge of all the alcohol and and other beverages we don't partake of hoping the steward would take those away also.  Nope!  He just stored them in a cubby hole instead.

Rooster Senior soon put all his 'stuff' in the refrigerator.  The only thing in there that belonged to me favorite water bottle complete with the logo of my Alma-mater!  Now, before you start laughing......the cruise liner charges you for every beverage but water and certain juices.  I refilled this bottle (and Rooster Sr. refilled his bottle) over and over again throughout the cruise.  My little bottle also has a clip, that I hooked to my purse when we were on excursions.  Just as a frame of reference, a can of soda had a charge of $2.50 per can!  We saw many people purchase sodas and gallons of water and brought them aboard at each stop.

This is 'my stuff'.  I just wanted to point out a couple of things.  I have a flat iron, and these surfaces are wood.  I just put it into a glass to protect the surface and also to give me more room.  There are metal barriers (look just above the wooden surface) that held all my items.  Also, you don't have to take a blow dryer. This may not seem like a big deal, but it took me a long time on the Internet to find out whether I needed to pack one or not!

It was amazing how much could be put into the closet.  They even had a pull-down rack that my husband hung his pants on.  On the right side, there were shelves that we couldn't fill up!

Okay, things to take.  We took coats that had zip-out jackets/liners inside. Depending upon the port we were in, we needed either the small jacket, the wind-proof jacket, or both.  Also, do not forget your binoculars!  Also, take an over-the-shoulder-bag to carry the binoculars, cameras, snacks, drinks, and also to place your purchases in.  And.....take snacks.  Purchasing them on board or even in port is costly.  

Yes, I bought a cute hat....but I couldn't resist.  I also used it!  Now, Rooster Sr brought his computer....and we really didn't even use it.  Just know that they charge for Wifi.  I was also trying to get away from everything!

This is one of those shoe organizers that I bought at the big-box store.  It provides storage for small things, books, and my husband's crazy things he thinks he needs, but never used.  It can be hung in the bathroom for toiletries or in the closet, and it collapses and does not take up much room in your suitcase.

I had these in my carry-on, and used them too.  It was amazing how many passengers were purchasing gloves, coats, umbrella's, etc.  I mean, we all knew we were going to Alaska...where there is snow and everything!

There was a great deal of entertainment on board.  However, some of it was not congruent with our values or standards.  So, we came prepared with some DVDs and a DVD player.  We used this at night in our room or on the deck with 2 sets of ear buds.  

The other item is my Kindle-fire.  This was really, really helpful.  I had downloaded a book on cruising Alaska.  It had information, suggestions, maps, and phone numbers for excursions, shops, etc in each port of call.  We saved money by using this.  There are many excursions that the cruise line offered, but  sometimes you can get the same or similar excursions cheaper by using local companies.  Of course, you can always read & play games on it too...and I did!

My husband brought this little lantern along as well.  If the ship lost power or had some difficulty, we would be able to see in our room or navigate our way out off the ship.  Even though we had a window, many staterooms did not.  And, depending on the tide, exiting the ship happened on different levels.  Having light would have been very important if we needed it.

So, we didn't really have to purchase things that we forgot or needed, we just enjoyed each other, had adventures, and relaxed for an entire week.  If you go, use your preparedness mindset to help you pack and prepare.  You will save money. Hopefully you will be ready for anything, and will be building life-long memories.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Tragedy....involving a Good Samaritan

Image courtesy of KSL

I have the opportunity to work with a number of talented and tremendous people in more than one setting.  For the setting I am focusing on today, every staff member is an important, contributing member to our overall success.  The overall success we experience is accomplished by training, talent, and most of all.....a willingness to serve.    

One of my colleagues demonstrated this willingness to serve as she offered to help a stranger yesterday, as a Good Samaritan.  We often think that if we serve, we will be saved.  Although this is true in the spiritual sense, the Lord always has a plan for each of us.  You can read more about this very sad story at this link.  

Tragically, our good friend.....when attempting to help a stranded motorist.......her earthly mission ended.  She was a talented Educator, and recently married.  Her life course was moving forward in a positive direction.  How could the Lord allow this to happen particularly when she was in the act of serving?  Perhaps an answer can be found in the following quote from Elder Russel M Nelson:

"Life does not begin with birth, nor does it end with death. Prior to our birth, we dwelled as spirit children with our Father in Heaven. There we eagerly anticipated the possibility of coming to earth and obtaining a physical body. But we regarded the returning home as the best part of that long-awaited trip, just as we do now. Returning from earth to life in our heavenly home requires passage through—and not around—the doors of death. We were born to die, and we die to live" ("Doors of Death," Ensign, May 1992, 72.)

As the student and staff who have been touched by the life of this good teacher access the grief counseling that is being provided, I am hopeful that Ali is enjoying the "best part of the long awaited trip".  Your smile and enthusiasm will be missed.  May the Lord be with her family at this difficult time.    

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's a matter of ..... a unique tool

Rooster Senior and I recently visited the great state of Alaska.  I cannot relate the grandeur and beauty we experienced with just mere words.  If you ever get the opportunity, please take it.  It my estimation, it is a chance of a lifetime.

While enjoying the beauty, I saw these knives being featured everywhere we stopped.  I hate to fall into the "tourist" trap, but I was intrigued.  So, I enquired about them and decided that we needed one!.

This is called an "Alaskan Ulu" knife.  Originally, they were fashioned from rock.  Archeologists have reportedly documented one of these knives was used as early as 3000 year ago.  Native Alaskans used the Ulu for everything from skinning seals to sewing mukluks ( Eskimo boots), and eating muktuk, seal and blubber.  When Whaling ships came to Alaska, the Native Alaskans were introduced to Steel and fashioned the ULU from this new material.  

Reportedly, these knives have been used by Alaskans in hunting and to fillet fish for centuries.  However, they can also be used for produce as well.  What makes them unique, in my estimation, is that you cut by rocking, not by sawing.  

I work in Rehabilitation, and have often seen the Occupational Therapists use "Rocking knives" particularly with victims of Stroke.  I guarantee that they are expensive just because they are specialized Rehabilitation Equipment.  But, the Ulu is very reasonably priced.

I chose to purchase this knife and the cutting board together.  You have the option of using the back side which is flat, or using the curved side as pictured below.  

This board also has a slit to place your blade when it is not in use.  These knives are very caution is a must.

Because I cannot hold the knife, cut, and shoot the camera all at once, I decided to show how the knife begins to rock in the bowl with this photo.  It takes a minute to get used to the motion, but I loved it.  Make sure the beveled edge is facing away from you.

Caring for the Ulu knife:

1.  Sharpen as needed, but only on the beveled side.  The Ulu factory suggests "Stone or Steel" to sharpen it.
2.  To clean your knife, never put it in the dishwasher. Just clean with soapy water and put in a safe place.  If you don't get the cutting board, a small block of wood with a slit in it can also hold the knife safely.
3.  Intermittently, put oil on the handle and care for the cutting board as you would any other cutting board.

You can use this to cut meat, produce, cheese....and the factory even suggests cutting pizza with it.  I plan to get used to this little device and keep it handy.  If you would like to purchase one for yourself, you can order them directly from the factory or other outlets on line.  One thing I learned while in Alaska, the prices vary primarily because of the handle on the knife. Some were made from exotic woods, animal horns, etc.  These knives also come in different sizes as well.  

Consider getting one for your family.  It can be a very helpful tool for many reasons....which convenience being just one of the reasons!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I heart organizing....Craft room style

Oh yes, we continue our little series of true organization....again by my sister.  This is her cute craft room.  Want to see the specifics?  Here you go!

You can see she has her sewing machine and Serger set up and ready to go.  See the line of scissor to the left of her serger?  This is a magnetic strip that holds them for her.  She has a little bulletin board just above the scissors for to hold notes or instructions.

This is her fabric storage....for real.  She has drawers for smaller pieces and then folds the large pieces so that they can easily be seen at a glance.  She puts notions in containers as well.

This is the view just behind her sewing area.  She took two old dressers and painted them black, and hung a peg board to hold her ribbon on cables.  See the file cabinet to the far right.  Now you may ask, what does she have in the drawers.....want to see?

She has wrapping paper, bags, and tags.  See the tape, stapler and labeler on the top of the dresser.  She also has an attached ruler so that she can quickly measure items.  Isn't this great?

This is the area above the sewing machines.  She has markers, etc in little buckets on a shelf above.

Lest you think this is a separate room like a bedroom, think again.  She has a false wall just in front of the furnace.  However, if you didn't look, you wouldn't know it.

How does this apply to preparedness?  Everything is in its place, and she has used creative juices to figure out how to make this work for her in her basement.  I think I could get really creative in here....don't you?

Seriously, this girl needs to come over and help me!!!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pay It Forward to our Brave Fire Fighters.....

Helicopters fly to and from the Quail Fire in Alpine
We have heard the helicopters fly back and forth all night.  It has become an appreciated sound in light of this fire.  Earlier today, the mountain was shrouded with clouds and rain ensued.  It cooled things off considerably, but hampered the effort from the planes and helicopters due to the weather.  Reportedly, this is a mixed blessing because it helps to cool off the overall area and provided needed moisture, but it also makes the ground slippery and muddy which hampers the ground effort.

I saw a news story on a local television station talking about folks donating drinks and food to the fire department in another area.  I love the spirit of volunteerism in our runs it should.

So, Rooster Senior and I made a trip to the big box store.  We took our purchase to the Highland Fire Station.  The machinery had just been cleaned and the Firefighters were trying to relax inside.  As we spoke with them for a moment, one of the Firefighters told of his first encounter with the fire.  

This brave Firefighter stated that he lives in Alpine and reportedly got a call from his wife about the fire.  He reportedly drove directly to the site and began the "Urban defense" which is to protect homes etc.  He said he saw the fire when it was relatively small.  He then became focused for about 10 minutes on needed tasks, and then looked up again.  He said in that short time the fire had spread to the bottom fourth of hill/mountain and was advancing alarming fast.  He said the fire was 'scary' and dangerous.  

I learned that the local Fire Department works with Federal Governmental Firefighters, but have different roles.  The 'Feds' protect the land and the forest, so they are in the trenches of this fire now.  As of 6 hours ago, the fire was 10% contained.  The local Fire Department is responsible to protect homes and structures.

I have addressed some of the areas that we have found to be lacking in our own family preparations.  I still have things I am thinking I want to consider.  Officials have evacuated up to 350 homes, but have allowed a number of families to return.  I am hopeful that if I had 15 minutes to evacuate like many of these families did, that I would have been ready.

Please don't forget the brave Firefighters and their support teams that are addressing this and the other terrible fires in the west.  It is a needed, but dangerous profession and we need to find ways to show out support....even if it is just a card of thanks or a few snacks showing them that they are appreciated.  Consider doing something as a family to show your support and appreciation, no matter where you live. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On Behalf of a Grateful Nation

Today is July the 4th.  A day that is often filled with family gatherings, food, parades, and reflection.  This year is no different.

Although there will be no fireworks this year due to the extreme fire danger, there will be gatherings. But, in the case of veteran families, someone will be missing at the dinner table.  Someone who has served our country and laid their life on the line for yours....someone who served in the Military.

Recently, a family member passed away unexpectedly.  This family member came to us through the marriage between my son and his wife.  We knew of this   man's genius in software development, his kind and quiet side consistently providing service to others without fanfare, and his love for his sweet family.  However, it wasn't until his passing that I learned that he had also served 2 tours  in Vietnam.  I was sad that I did not know this until he had passed away.

At the grave site, the Honor Guard was present.  I was deeply touched by the deep tradition of reverence, and respect paid to this veteran.  In researching this tradition, I found the Following from the Department of Defense:

What can the family of an eligible veteran expect? The core elements of the funeral honors ceremony, which will be conducted are:
- Flag folding
- Flag presentation
- Playing of Taps

The veteran’s parent Service representative will present the flag. 

A member of the Honor Guard related a verse that appeared to include the following words...

On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, or Air Force), and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service

The flag is folded 13 times, and each fold has a meaning:

The first fold of our Flag is a symbol of life. 
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life. 
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world. 
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance. 
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong." 
The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 
The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of ourRepublic. 
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day. 
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded. 
The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born. 
The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 
The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. 
When the Flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our Nation's motto, "In God We Trust." After the Flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

We do live in a nation founded in Christian noted in the meaning of the folding of the flag.

On this Fourth of July, please reflect on the sacrifice and service of our men and women in the Military.  They deserve our respect and action.  It is an election is our right and responsibility to elect those who will protect our nation just as these brave individuals do.  

Read, reflect, become informed, thank a service member....and Act!

Outside my front door.....

Quail Fire in Alpine Utah

Yes, I actually took this photo outside of my front door at about 6:30 p.m.  This huge fire only started at 2:30 p.m.  Where was I at that 2:30 p.m......not home!  I was working at the hospital. The mother of one of my patients was talking about the Quail Fire...and I didn't put two and two together.  She then asked me where I lived and I told her.  She encouraged me to find out if we needed to evacuate.  

Yes, as soon as they left, I fired off a call to my husband....who was not home!  After checking the news online, our area wasn't evacuated yet, but just north of us 500 people were being evacuated.  I couldn't finish work fast enough, the drive home seemed even longer.

When I got home, I checked our 72 hour kits, our water cubes, our emergency 'pouch' of information that we would take and got ready to grab them, my photo albums, and my computer in case we were evacuated.  Luckily, we didn't need to leave our home, and I am grateful to the heroic Firefighters who are battling this and other blazes.

There have been around 400 fires in Utah alone this summer. We really didn't have much of a winter in regard to precipitation, and the same was true for the spring. The grounds and canyons are just so dry....and it is July Fourth today.  

Here is a view of the fire just now....but the trees are blocking much of the view.  It is red on the mountainside.

I was pleased to see the following notice emailed to my email by my city:

July 3, 2012 5:37 PMFIREWORKS RESTRICTION REQUESTED due to Quail Fire - EVACUATION INFORMATION updated on alpinecity.orgIt is requested that residents in Highland, Cedar Hills and Alpine refrain from lighting fireworks until further notice. All resources are currently being used to fight the Quail Fire.Due to the nature of the Quail Fire in Alpine City it is requested that residents in Highland, Cedar Hills and Alpine* refrain from lighting fireworks until further notice. All resources are currently being used to fight the Quail Fire. 
There have been no evacuations issued for Highland residents at this time. Residents are encouraged to utilize the City website ( for up to date information. Subscribing to the "Notify Me" feature from the website will provide email updates as they are available.
FOR CURRENT EVACUATION INFORMATION, please visit the Alpine City website at
(*NOTE: there is a mandatory ban on ALL fireworks in Alpine City)

Our Governor has been pleading with citizens of our State to use "common sense" and not put our lands or our people at risk.  Even with common sense, there are lightning strikes, and accidents (machinery, catalytic converters, etc)

Take home message for our family today:  
  • Have everything backed up on our site!  Had we not been able to get to our home, our important documents would have been protected.  I recently changed platforms with the purchase of a new computer.  I have been battling my back-up service to remember that I don't have a PC anymore. I will be calling to correct this asap.
  • Keep my car kit current.  If I had to live out of the items I keep in my car, I would have been fine....except for the clothes and baby wipes thing.  Note to self....fix that!
  • My 'pouch' of important info was at the house.  I need to scan the information to store off site.
  • Keep at least a half of a tank of gas in our vehicles.  I am usually the one harping on this...and today my tank was nearly empty.  I need to do better!
  • Notify the key, out of state person, that we are okay.  I had calls from family members inquiring as to our status.  If we were evacuating, I may not have been able to answer or would not have had the time to answer.  The out-of-state contact could have let everyone know we where we were and how we were.

If I were to grade our efforts today, I would give us a "B", but not an "A".  We could have survived and most of the information in the "Pouch" could have been replaced after a great deal of inconvenience.  Today was a wake-up call for us.  
Please pray for the safety of our brave Firefighters and Service men and women who answer the call to protect us all.

And.....Use Common Sense!!!!!

01 09 10