Posted in Uncategorized

Coming home….where I never had an address


Helen Swanson was a tough cookie.

She (my grandmother) and my mother did everything together for most of my mother’s childhood as Regina was an only child.  Many times were good and exciting like shopping in the big city and taking the train to San Francisco to visit the adoring Aunts.  There were many times when their relationship was tried as well.  Helen could be stubborn and overbearing…and if you look for a definition of passive aggressive, it states: Helen Swanson McQuarrie.  She and I were often at odds as I went through school and growing up.  She didn’t like how I dressed, and she hated that I wanted to stack the cups in the cupboard.  Stacking cups warranted a smack on the cheek for me, even.  But she was terribly strong.  I would call her fierce.  She survived the Depression, made her own way as a secretary in Washington D.C between World Wars, and showed me every day that you don’t find your way in this world – you make it.

Helen grew up in Allegheny country.  The far north of Pennsylvania in what is now the Allegheny National Forest.  The thriving metropolis of Mt. Jewett (current population is about 910).  But she was a city girl at heart, and like nearly all of her siblings before her, she left for the city life right after graduating high school.  Few of that Swanson family stayed in the area.  My mother came with Helen to visit the few relatives in the area when she was small, in about 1952, but that was the only trip ever made.  Helen left small town life for adventure.

This year my mother and I decided to start a tradition of a trip with just the two of us each year.  And to set of this annual event, we came back to where so many of our stories really began…Mt. Jewett.  I had never even seen a picture of this place until a few weeks ago.  Grandma Helen didn’t speak of it much – I didn’t even know this is where she grew up until I was about 10 or 12.  But I can tell you that as soon as I got here I realized: I KNOW this place.  I know it like I’ve always been here.  And it knows me….we fit like cogs.

While we have been here, we have found headstones, snapped photos, and eaten the best chicken salad on the planet.  I have been flooded with memories of Helen, and as I drive or walk through Mt, Jewett, I picture her as a girl in the same places: stopping for ice cream, running to school, making the trek to the Mt. Nebo Lutheran Church.  I see her full of her future; not the woman I knew after dementia took it’s toll, but the young girl full of big city dreams.  I see her blond hair bobbing as she skipped up the walk to the farm house.  I hear her giggle with her school mates.

Visiting this town, for reasons outlined later, has moved me beyond words.  It has given me more than I could have asked, without asking for anything in return.  This town has taken my roots, and made them strong.  This town has given me a home, even without an address.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Letter to My Classmates……

429235_336130666422668_907856048_nDear Fellow Survivors of PGHS,

This weekend marks our 20th reunion….an event I am sad to be missing, but will be missing none the less.  Since I will not be there to tell you these things in person, here is a very public display of the things I need you to know.

To my high school friends:  I have missed you so very much.  We had some wonderful times, but a lot of life has happened the last 20 years and we have grown apart.  For that, I am sorry.  I am sorry I was not there when you had the hard times, and I am sorry we did not share more joys.  This opportunity to be friends again is one that I promise to seize and hold with both hands – forever.  I love you, I have always loved you, and will always love you.

To my high school enemies: Maybe “enemy” is a bit extreme, but it’s difficult to describe what we were.  You did not like me or were mean to me, and I was very likely the same in return.  The years have made our feelings foggy in my memory; but I have held a grudge against you for far too long.  It would be great to take this moment, and begin to know each other again…..start over and start something new.  You have become successful adults, wonderful parents, and inspiring people; even if we are not close, I am proud to say I know you.

To those that I hurt: Simply……I’m sorry.  When we are young, we are careless.  Whatever I did that was hurtful….my grown up self is sure that pain was not meant, but I take responsibility for it and I want to make it up to you.  Let’s take the next 20 years to become nicer, kinder, happier friends.  It would be helpful to me to know what I did, and I welcome you telling me…..and if you don’t want to ever speak to me in any way, I understand.

For everyone who ran the PGHS gauntlet……let us all be in more communication and more present in each others lives.  You all helped shape me as a person in many ways, and when I think of every one of you I am reminded of how you have helped me strive to be a better person.  Let us share our beliefs, likes, dreams, memories, loves, and heartaches.  Let us take the time to get lunch, share pictures, and hit the pool with the kids.  Let us now say we are friends.

To sum it up…..Stay Cool and Have a Great Summer!


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Flicka Gets a Home

How did you spend your  New Years Day?  We spent our New Years Day (evening) with this gal:Pup

Earlier in the day, we went out for a ride on the 4-wheeler in the snow.  A previously unknown dog was wandering the neighborhood, and barking at passers-by (as ya do).  She kept close by the house across from my parents (which didn’t seem to have anyone home) and just liked to make her presence known.

My mother and I went out to the store briefly at about 7pm.  It was already dark, and this is Northern Utah so it was very cold.  The dog made sure we knew she was there, and that she noticed us. Man…..she has a set of pipes!

When we returned at about 8pm, the temperature outside registered around 12 degrees.  And sure enough, when we got out of the car in the driveway, there was the pup across the street at the same house.  Barking away.  Rather than wandering around, though, she was perched on the front porch which was in a sort of portico of concrete and brick. I watched her for a few minutes, and saw that she was curling up next to the one pillar but was not sheltered.  The house was still dark and there had not been any movement – I felt terrible that she was waiting for someone who just wasn’t there.  So into the house I went, and asked my dad what blankets and towels could be spared; this pup should not be curled up on concrete in single digit temps (which is where the night was headed).

My dad, the Mr, and I went through the garage and found a cut piece of foam that was about 4″ thick, the old rug that had been in our family room when I was a kid (there’s a LOT of spilled soda on that thing) and a micro fleece blanket.  Off to the neighbors house we went.  The dog was clearly uneasy with us carrying all this stuff in the dark, so she barked and ran to the other side of the driveway.  But we put the foam and rug down and proceeded to convince her that we were not all evil.  As she relaxed a little and started sniffing at the makeshift bed, the neighbors opened the door!  They asked if we knew whose dog it was, then yelled at her to get out.  We apologized for assuming they were gone (the lights WERE off) and said that if the dog was not theirs we would get her settled with us and call authorities in the morning.  But how odd that they were home, aware of this dog all day, but did nothing!

After a little attention, the dog happily came with us across the street, and we put together a shelter for her on my parents front porch. We got her some water and fed her from the Dork Dogs stash in the house.  That was when we could get a good look at her.  Black lab mix, skinny and bony, front elbows rubbed bare, a collar, but no tags.  And clearly, she was made of springs.  She wanted to jump (not run) and play.  And she was so big (and smelled like a horse) that we gave her two nicknames: The Camel, and Flicka.  But she had been a family dog sometime – she had the collar, she did well on a lead when my dad took her so we could get the Dork Dogs out, and when she wanted to jump up on someone she clearly stopped herself.  We took pictures to start circulating, then sneaked back into the house for the night.  As soon as we were inside, she curled up in her new bed and all was good for the night.




Like I said, it was SO COLD!  She had been out and away from home for a while, so obviously she was used to figuring out the cold weather, but that did not stop the worry.  From our room upstairs in the house, you could almost see where the bed was on the porch – so we popped out the screen so that we could lean over and keep an eye on her. But there was no need, she slept fine, and was delighted to see my dad at 6am the next morning to go for a little walk and get much-needed attention.  Flicka stayed on the porch or in the front yard the rest of the morning after getting another drink and some more breakfast.  Her nest was hers.  Animal Control came to get her around 10:30am, and she easily and happily jumped in the back of the truck and into a crate.  Yep…..she was someone’s dog.

And that someone picked her up the same day!  No shelter overnight visit for Flicka……just home to her family and her real bed.


Posted in Techie, Uncategorized

Oh Samsung……You Just Get Me

For my first techie/gadget/gaming post…..I need to share some love.

For the past two years, I have had an HTC phone with our previous wireless provider.  This was the first “4G” phone I had, and it started off as a great relationship.  Then I discovered that the HTC Thunderbolt was just not in it for the long haul: sounds and rings stopped working, the alarm was iffy, the WiFi died, and the battery was weak at best (down to 0% in under 5 hours with little use).  The network connection issues my provider had did not help matters in the slightest.  So we decided it was time to break our contract and move on.

Enter….the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

When you read reviews, they all call out it’s enormous size.  Yes, it is a gigantic phone.  It earns the title “Phablet”. And I have only had this device for a few days….but there are some things about it that I really love.  Samsung got these things right….just for me.

1.It’s huge.  Too huge to be a one-handed device.  Having had so many joint issues in my right hand from typing and crochet for years, having a phone that WON’T let me do things one handed is perfect.  No more single-thumb typing.

2. It’s huge.  Too huge to be a phone-to-the-ear type of phone for very long.  This means that to be very efficient, I MUST use my headset more often.  And while I have gotten better with the headset on the phone, my husband will happily point out that I could still do better and that I could use a headset in general far more often.

3. The battery is amazing. My old phone would need to spend all day on the charger to keep going.  This phone takes normal use and will not use half the battery in a workday.  AWESOME! A full day of regular use (calls, email, text, some games, Twitter, and internet surfing) put me down to 35% after 16 hours.

4. It’s fast.  The response time to type, select anything by finger or stylus, and move through screens is terrific.  Apps load more quickly, and even phone boot-up is faster.

Only time will tell if I kill this phone like the last one, but so far this is starting off as a beautiful thing.  It is definitely not a device for everyone, but I highly recommend looking at one if you are in the market.  Go try it out – don’t dismiss it.