Monday, July 28, 2008

Darren's New Companion

Darren is still assigned to work in Comayagua, Honduras, but now he has a new companion and, for the first time, has been assigned to train a "verdecito." His new companion is Elder Osorio from Perú. This photo was taken last Tuesday in Comayagüela after the new arrivals were assigned to their senior companions; Darren is in the back, left of center, and Elder Osorio is on his right. (President and Sister Gómez are in the front, right of center.) If I didn't know better, I'd think they were in southern California somewhere, what with the Office Depot, Sears, and palm trees! Darren was pretty sick last week for a few days; however, he says he's feeling better now, so I'm thinking it was probably food poisoning of some sort. I hope this turns out to be a fruitful and rewarding experience for both Darren and Elder Osorio, but I think it will be.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Camping Trip to Villanueva State Park

Dorine and I took some of our family camping at Villanueva State Park (about an hour northeast of Albuquerque) on Friday and Saturday, July 18-19, 2008. I really like Villanueva, both for its physical features and its relatively off-the-beaten-path location, and thus we have stayed there three times now. This time we took Devery and Easton, Kiley, and our grandkids Zach and Alexis. I don't know why, but it requires a tremendous amount of inertia for us to go camping anywhere, which explains why we only do it once (or twice, if we're lucky) a year. The park sits on the Pecos River and has an interesting sandstone cliff on the eastern bank. We usually stay somewhere along the river, but this time we got there late and ended up in the upper camping area--which was actually nice because our site had a shelter structure. This photo shows everyone (except me) on the bridge crossing the river, on our way up the trail to the lookout.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sleep Disordered, Part 5

It's now been six months since I started using the Resmed "VPAP Adapt SV" breathing machine as a remedy for my problems with complex sleep apnea. Unfortunately, notwithstanding how well the machine has worked for my sleep apnea, I'm every bit as dependent on sleep meds now as I was in January, as none of the attempts I've made to kick them has borne any fruit. (Right now, I'm taking Ambien CR, which I don't really like, in combination with an over-the-counter med -- either generic Unisom or generic "Simply Sleep" [which is really just benadryl, or Tylenol-PM without the Tylenol]. In my opinion, Lunesta is the best med -- most effective, fewest side effects -- on the market, but, not yet having a generic equivalent, it's frickin' expensive!) My sleep doctor wants me to go back soon for another sleep study with the VPAP machine, and he's told me that he'll get me on a longer, more-gradual med-weaning regimen, which he says is the only way to go about shedding my kind of dependency. I'm not terribly enthusiastic/optimistic about either doing another sleep study or my ability to get off the meds finally, but my biggest hope for longevity pretty clearly hinges on my prospects of re-learning to sleep naturally and restfully. I seem to be suffering from quite a bit of chemically induced depression or even bipolarity, not a positive development.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nicole's Sealing to Kristy and Chris

Nicole was sealed in the Albuquerque Temple to Kristy and Chris on Saturday, July 12, 2008. Chris's adoption of Nicole was finalized in March (see earlier post), so this was the final step in "completing" their family. All of the other kids attended the sealing -- Zach and Alexis having been previously sealed to their parents in 2007, and Maddison and Hailee having been born in the covenant. Nicole is a sweet and beautiful girl, and as always we're happy she's part of our family.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

More on Darren's Mission

Here's a recent photo of Darren taken on the pitch of the local stadium in Comayagua, Honduras, an old colonial city that lies about an hour by car west of the capital. (As is evident in the pic, it's now the rainy season in Central America.) Darren has now been gone just shy of ten months, eight "in-country," and he just turned twenty years old on Monday. I'm very proud of the service he's rendering, and I pray constantly for his health, safety, spiritual growth, and success. No one who hasn't served a mission really knows what a sacrifice it is to leave family and friends, and to put one's personal life and schooling on hold, for a two-year enlistment in "God's Army." Likewise, no one who hasn't sent a son on a mission really knows how long two years can seem -- only now do I realize what it took for my parents to send four sons to the mission field.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Law School

It's now been twenty years since I graduated from law school (receiving my MBA at the same time); it's amazing to me that so much time has gone by. Occasionally, such as when I found a cache of my old papers while we were remodeling our family room several years ago, I remember what a strain school was and how hard I had to work for my degrees; however, mostly it's a blur in my mind now. Given that I didn't make much of my legal career, I tend now to regard law school as having been a waste of time -- or worse, in view of the fact that I took the easiest liberal-arts path possible through college in order to get to law school as quickly as I could, thus not majoring in anything that might actually have been conducive to a rewarding, lucrative career. (Even my MBA essentially had a "law" concentration.).

The photo above was taken shortly before graduation in 1988 -- I'm the fourth from the bottom on the far left side, wearing a shirt, tie, and sweater, with my hair parted on the left. I graduated ranked 18th in a class of 92, receiving the award for top tax-law student in the class. (I was always good at anything that involved interpretation of statutes or other complicated legal language.) By the way, I'm not attending the reunion advertised in the flyer.

The summer of 1988 was also memorable to me inasmuch as Darren was born on July 7 and I took (and passed) the New Mexico bar exam at the end of July.

Friday, July 4, 2008

June-July Utah Trip

We spent six nights in Utah visiting family and friends, driving up on Friday, June 27, and returning on Thursday, July 3. We spent the night of the 27th in Pleasant Grove with my brother Robin and his wife Karolyn, and then we drove up to Salt Lake City early the next day to pick Kiley up at EFY at the University of Utah. In order to conserve gasoline, we spent that day in town visiting Dorine's Aunt Frances (who lives in Dorine's dad's old family home off 7th East one block south of Liberty Park), her Uncle Bob (who lives in Holladay, near 39th South and 23rd East, with his wife Marilu), and her Aunt Afton (who lives in a retirement complex at 1st South and 1st East). Afton took us to see a concert in the atrium at her complex by a male vocal trio named "Sun Shade 'n' Rain," whom I remember seeing perform at BYU when I was a freshman in 1977 -- it's amazing they're still performing after all these years, although they still sound good.

That evening we drove out to Grantsville, where we stayed the next four nights with Dorine's brother Brian and his wife Dona and their kids, and we attended church with them on Sunday. On Monday we stayed in the general vicinity, taking one trip into Tooele so that the older kids could see a movie. Dorine and I shopped for a couple of hours there, trying unsuccessfully to refill my prescription for Ambien CR at the Wal-Mart (which doomed me to a couple of bad nights until I could get back here to Albuquerque). We planned to drive up into one of the canyons southwest of Grantsville for what has become our traditional family home evening picnic, but first I hurried over to the Grantsville HS stadium, intending to run a couple of miles on the track there. (It was hot as the infernal regions, however, and all I could manage was one-and-a-half miles.) The picnic was enjoyable, as usual, and the kids had fun playing in the stream.

The next day, Tuesday, Dorine, Kiley, and I drove up to Bountiful to pick up Ali Limburg, whom Dorine used to baby-sit when her parents, Doug and Amy, lived in our ward in Albuquerque. The four of us then spent the day at Lagoon, the large amusement park in Farmington. I probably had as much fun at Lagoon as I've ever had in six or eight trips there, as it wasn't too hot and I managed to steer clear of the most nausea-producing rides. Kiley and I rode the "Rocket" (which shoots the riders up in the air on a system of rails and then drops them back down) five times in a row, and we stood in line twice to ride the newest attraction, "Wicked," which is somewhat reminiscent of the "Excellerator" at Knott's Berry Farm in that it accelerates quickly and goes straight up and down over an arch (see photo above), although the seating configuration is different. That night we drove back to the Limburgs' house in Bountiful and had dinner with them -- steak, with Neilsen's frozen custard for dessert! -- later playing a card game with them that Ali called "Mormon Bridge" (which essentially is the same game we know as "Diminishing Rook"). Doug and Amy are traveling up a storm, just having returned from Hawaii and planning to fly down to Peru to see Machu Picchu in September.

We spent Wednesday morning playing with Brian and Dona's kids -- Miles is the undisputed "Carrom" champion, and Kiley and the girls made a video for the old Allan Sherman comedy number "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" -- before we returned back to Pleasant Grove. (The second photo above shows Kiley, in back, with her cousins [L-R] Rhea, Miles, Ellen, Linsey, and Olivia.) We stopped off at Brian's place of employment in SLC, Dynapac, to see him for a while before heading south on I-15, and then we stopped off at my brothers' (Jeff, Roger, and Robin) place of employment, DME Health Services in Pleasant Grove, to see them before going shopping in Orem. We spent that evening visiting with Robin, Karolyn, and Roger, also playing with my niece Meredith's twin boys Zander and Aidan, and then we drove home the following day (yesterday).