Saturday, February 7, 2015

Christmas 2013

Yes, the Wandering Woodfords have moved again, this time to Between, Georgia. Want directions to our new home? Going Northwest on Highway 78, turn left at the Between Grocery. If you see Ho Hum Hollow Road, you’ve gone too far. The roads have weird names over here: “Youth Monroe Road,” “New Hope Church Road,” “Tipperary Circle,” “Bo Boss Road.”

Between, GA. Population three hundred. It is half way between Atlanta and Athens. Apparently, the Lord wants us to continue our cross-cultural experiences of “Southern Living.” We have a lot of room and would love for you to come for a visit next time you are headed to Atlanta.

Christmas 2011: Living in the Deep South is DIFFER'NT, ya'll

Savannah, GA.

We’ve moved to a foreign country. Trees. Trees. And More Trees. In the West, you can see for miles and miles. For example, you can see the Stratosphere on the Las Vegas Strip from St. George, Utah. Here, you can’t see more than ten feet in any direction. Additionally, the streets aren’t straight, they twist and bend and curve back around on themselves and they change names mid-course. No purple mountain majesties immovably point East. Linus-like I drag a ragged map everywhere I go—even to bed.

They tawk fore-ruhn. One morning we stopped at a fast food restaurant. A muscular black man walked away from the door of the restaurant toward a lone car. I questioned him when it would open. He said, “Potabeenia-yn.” Huh? We were five minutes down the road before I teased: “Supposed to be nine,” out of his single word response. We’ve met a few people that we flat can’t understand.

The cuisine is also foreign. I attended my first ever “fish fry” in our church parking lot. Four large kettles of oil perched on low-sitting burners in the parking lot, each nursed by a church member dropping in breaded fish and spoonfuls of batter to make hush puppies. (They will hush your puppies right up, because they’ll give them cardiac arrest!) I thought fried food went out of style in the 1980’s ... I asked about organic apples at the grocery; the produce manager explained that they don’t carry organic because, “You can’t get these country people to eat that stuff.”

We shop at the “Piggly Wiggly.” (Now, if that name don’t make you laugh ...) We ate boiled, I mean “ba-oiled” peanuts. Alex’s kindergarten concert sang “Jingle Ba-yells” and Santa asked Rudolf to “gaiyde his slei-ay tu-nait.” If you’re proper, then you always respond with “Yes, ma’am” and “Thankyouma’am.” Corey goes crazy when Alex responds to him with, “Yes, sir.”

Christmas 2010

Funny things the kids said or did this year:

On TV, they were comparing the popularity of the Democratic, Republican and Tea Parties. Alex says, “Poppan (grandpa) needs to be in the Coffee Party.”


Alex has a friend named Mac. They were playing in the basement, and I reminded them to stay in the play area before I left them alone. When I checked on them later,  they were in the food storage area. Mac had flour all over his face, in his eye lashes, all over his shirt and was choking and gagging on it.

Flour was dusted all over the floor. They had been eating FLOUR by the fist-full! Later, Mac came crying upstairs, “Alex hit me.” I questioned Alex, “Did you hit Mac?” “Yes,” he admitted, “I hit him back.” They both got a time out.

Later, when Mac went home, I stopped in to let his mother know what the boys had been up to. Mac confessed to his mother, “We got in trouble.”

“Oh,” she said, “What did you do?”

Mac answered, “I hit Alex last.”


We were out for a walk. Alex tripped and fell on the sidewalk. After he got up he said, “I was testing my gravity skills.”


Alex flew a paper airplane across the chapel during the Stake President’s talk. I’d given him paper to color and he sweet-talked the lady next to us into folding it into a paper airplane. Next thing I know, it is arching gracefully across the chapel. It slid to a stop next to the Bishop’s wife. Of course, we sit in the second row from the front, so pretty much everyone saw its maiden – and final – flight.


We rode in a combine. What fun! Eli (19 months) kept screaming, “MAAAMmower!” (lawnmower) and gesturing wildly every time he saw the other tractor or any other piece of heavy equipment. Alex enjoyed it too.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Life Today: Better than Wandering for Forty Years

Wandering in the wilderness?
We are studying the Old Testament in Sunday School. I've asked the class members to write a short essay about Moses and the Exodus. Ha, ha, ha. I doubt they will do it. I wouldn't, if I were them. I'd want to, of course. When I received the email, I'd think, "Wow, that is a nice idea. I'd like to do that." Then, the children would want lunch and the husband would wonder if there were any clean socks and the grocery shopping would need to be done ... and well, life would be far more urgent than a short essay about a prophet who lived long ago.

Since I'm the teacher, and since I am the one who asked them to do this, I feel an obligation to share a few words--in spite of the pile of bills on my desk that needs attention. You know, "Lead by example" and all that nonsense.

Here is the passage:
For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?  Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him. Deuteronomy 4:32-35
Moses is declaring that there had never been a greater time in the history of mankind. Here is the first set of questions I asked:

  • Would you like to have lived during that time?
  • For example, would you like to have participated in crossing the Red Sea and seeing the armies of Pharaoh drown?
  • Or would you like to have heard the voice of the God speaking out of the midst of the fire?
  • Would you like to have tasted manna?
Here are my answers: no, maybe, yes, no.

Yes, I definitely would want to have heard the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire. That sounds pretty amazing. And, yes, I would have loved to see the people crossing the Red Sea, and watch Pharoah's armies drown, but I don't think I would actually like to have participated in that. I mean, that would mean work on my part. Walking and walking and walking. You know that song about pioneer children that walked and walked and walked and walked and walked ... I like to walk, but forty years? That sounds like a lifetime. (Oh, wait, that is a lifetime for me.)
What? No manna?

This week's lesson focuses on the writings of Jeremiah. He says that while the Exodus was indeed the greatest event in history, a greater time will happen in the future: the Gathering of Israel and the growth of the church. We are living during that time. So the question is:
  • How do I feel about being part of the greatest time in the history of the Earth?
Huh? What kind of question is that? I feel pretty mundane about it. It doesn't feel like the greatest time in the history of the Earth. Feels pretty normal, in fact. But, I really have no basis for comparison. It's not like I can say:
"Gee, when I was living during the days of Adam, the Earth felt really fresh, everyone had a sense of wonder and excitement."
Or "Man, during the days of Enoch, DUDE those were the days! Talk about high home teaching stats. Everyone was doing it."
Or "Whew. The days of Joseph of the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Wow that was living. We had it good in those days."
Or, "Seeing Jesus at the wedding at Cana. Man, that was beautiful ceremony. That was before the Word of Wisdom, and wow, the wine he served ..." 
And "Now that I'm living during the days of the Gathering of Israel. I can see that all those previous eras pale in comparison." 
Not the Red Sea ... but they walked and walked and walked
No, I can't say any of those things. I have no basis to compare today to any other era of history. I can't even say that I was living during the time of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. These days seem normal to me because they are the only days that I've known. However, I can share a few events that excite me.

I was blown away when the church announced the building of a temple in Hong Kong. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! They announced the temple in 1992; it was complete by 1996. I knew that the UK's 100 year lease was about to end, and the sovereignty of Hong Kong would be transferred back to China. It meant that we'd have a temple in China! The lease expired in 1997; tad-da, Hello, Hong Kong, China Temple.

I was excited when I learned that the government of the German Democratic Republic (what we used to know as East Germany) asked the church if they would consider building a temple in East Germany. It was the first temple built in a communist country. That is cool. It was completed in 1985. The wall fell just five years later. Coincidence? You decide.

I am pleased that I was present during the General Relief Society meeting in 1995 when President Hinckley first read the Proclamation on the Family. "We ... solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God." I did not know how polarizing that statement would become fifteen years later when the battle to redefine marriage heated up.

Crossing our own Red Sea
I've been excited by the changes to the missionary program over the years. First, the emphasis on "raising the bar." Then the introduction of the Preach My Gospel book. Next, the changes in the youth curriculum and the lowering of the missionary age. Now, the new emphasis on spreading the Gospel through electronic means. All of these have accelerated the gathering of Israel and the growth of the church. It is exhilarating.

Many other events have amazed me over the years. However, I need to check if there are are any clean socks for tomorrow, and Corey noticed that we are almost out of milk, and the stack of bills on my desk is not getting shorter. In other words, the urgent tasks of daily life beckon, and I need to wrap up this essay. I look forward to discussing the growth of the church in class. I hope that a few of you will take time to ponder and jot down your thoughts before you come. (And post them to your blogs, people.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ode to Creston

We've lived in Creston for seven months. We didn't indend to make it such a short stay, but here we are, ready to move back West. It's been a whirl-wind adventure here. We had some lows, but we also had some great highs.

We went to McDonalds tonight for dinner, we saw five people that we know. That's what is it is like to live in a small town.

Thanks to Mrs. Weese, Mr. Blake, and Miss Jecceka for running a tight ship with lots of fun and many creative ideas.

Thank you to Julie Lang for believing in my language learning ideas and helping launch my professional speaking career.

Thanks to Mrs. Chubick, Miss Julie, and Miss Chris for sick days that gave me a chance to learn so much.

Thank you Terry and Gail for teaching me that play is the work of children.

Thank you Betty and Donna for helping me see all of the fabulous things happening around me and for being a turning point in my stay here. Also, thanks for laughing at my outrageous comments--you are very rewarding.

Thanks to all of the capable women who cleaned my house, cared for my children and watched over me when I was sick.

Thanks to Lori--my fellow Skinner scorpion--for walking my path ahead of me and saying, "It gets better, it really does."

Thank you Lenox Branch for loving my children and being so thrilled about our arrival.

Thanks to Carly Roberts and Jessica Camp for your consistent service with me in the nursery.

Thank you, Corey for never giving up.

Thank you, God, for the beautiful night sky that is so clearly visible from my back porch, the geese and deer that feed in the field behind the path. (We'll never see that in Las Vegas.)

Thank you to the Cihaks who braved the worst storm of the year to help our family. Also thank you for the combine ride--definitely one of the highlights of our time here.

Thanks Brother Lui for the facsinating explantion of how to modify plant cells.

Thanks to our family who traveled to this out-of-the-way spot to visit us.

Thank you Bryan Zachary for the personalized tour of the village.

Thank you Dennis Carter for being a great friend, an honorable person, and for not selling us a house.

Our lives have been richly blessed in the short time that we've been here. So many people have reached out to us in kindness and have welcomed us into their hearts. Thank you to all of you who have been a part of our experience.

Monday, January 31, 2011

What do you want to be when you grow up?

The children of South East Iowa speak up. The newspaper published the aspirations of Creston and surrounding communities. Here are the best ones:

Hunter would like to be a monter truck driver when he grows up.
Cody would like to be Spiderman when he grows up.
Cody would like to be a fireman and work with Tom on the garbage truck when he grows up.
Samson would like to be a ninja and a plumber when he grows up.
Seth would like to be happy and healthy and wants to be a wrestling coach when he grows up.
Avery would like to be a superhero when he grows up.
Dylan would like to be a bowldozier operator when he grows up.
Benjamin would like to be the owner of a living creature restaurant when he grows up.
Marshall would like to be a a plain old Marshall when he grows up.
Jase would like to be a ninja cop when he grows up.
Conner would like to be a guard or something safe when he grows up.
Myla would like to be a princess and a bank worker when she grows up.
Nathaniel would like to be a cop like his Grandpa Ray and a biker like his Grandpa Chuck when he grows up.
Tiffany would like to be happy when she grows up.
Samantha would like to be a lion tamer when she grows up.
Emma would like to be a dentist and a circus actress when she grows up.
Alexis would like to be a fashion designer in Paris when she grows up.
Bryce would like to be on the SWAT team when he grows up.
Zailand would like to be a sumo wrestler when he grows up.
Brenna would like to be a biker chick when she grows up.

And the two best ones of all:

Samuel would like to be a ninja and a farmer when he grows up.
Logan would like to work at Walmart on register 6 when he grows up.

There you go. Some high and some low aspirations from today's youth.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas 2009

Last year, I thought that laundry stories had dried up. Imagine my delight when I stumbled on a new story last month. As I've mentioned, I have a front-loading washer. I may or may not have mentioned that my house has many petite spaces: the rooms are small, the laundry room is small, the shower stall is small. You get the idea. To use space efficiently, I have my drier (Bertha) stacked on top of the washer (Bessie). On top of that I store the laundry basket and the baby bathtub.

Well, that ol' Bessie gets real excited during the spin cycle. She gets to spinnin' and a shakin' her heart out. And Bertha, she loves it too. She starts a dancin' and a rockin' back and forth. Generally, no harm comes from their antics, just an excited thump-a-thump sound as they dance. Occasionally, however, I hear a loud crash-bang-boom, and upon investigation, I find that the laundry basket has pitched headlong off the top. No harm done since it is hard plastic.

Imagine my surprise one morning when I heard an especially loud crash while Bertha and Bessie were dancing. I raced to the laundry room to investigate. Apparently, the baby bath tub on top of Bertha started rocking back and forth enough that it shoved the top shelf next too the drier right off of its moorings. The shelf, along with all of its contents crashed to the floor. This shelf is the highest and most inaccessible place in our house. The place least likely for our children to be able to access, so it is the place where we keep our most dangerous substances, our medications, heavy-duty cleaners, a few garden substances.

As the accident occurred in the middle of breakfast, I took a quick look around and decided that clean up could wait until I got the baby down for his morning nap. I closed the laundry door with its child safety latch so that no child poisonings would occur. About ten minutes later, I noticed a strong chemical odor coming from the laundry room. I investigated, and could see nothing that appeared spilled, so I return to our breakfast.

The smell continued to grow, and I made a second investigation. I found a bottle of pesticide nestled upside down in a pair of black dry-clean-only slacks in my "hand wash/special care" laundry basket. It didn't appear to have leaked, but just to be sure, I removed it and righted it.

Once the baby was aslep, I went to set everything right-side up in the laundry room. The box with all medicine cabinet medications had of course flipped upside down and all the contents were scattered. Luckily, none of the containers broke or spilled their contents—-not even the eucalyptus oil which has leaked in the past. (Very strong smelling.) A can of granular fertilizer spilled, sprinkling white grains all over, but that was easily swept up. The only problem was this overpowering chemical smell, a petroleum-like smell. A close inspection of the aforementioned pesticide revealed that it had spilled, but the black color of the slacks as well as my expensive black swimsuit into which it had landed did not show any visible signs.

In spite of my reluctance, since these were both special care washing items, I tossed them both into the washer, set it to its gentlest setting and washed them. Imagine my horror 45 minutes later when they still smelled pungently of the stuff AND my washer reeked of it too. An internet search revealed that clothing that has been soaked in pesticide is better thrown away than washed in the washer. (Since the gagging odor had already been transferred to poor ol Bessie, I took the next bit of advice.) It suggested washing the washer on it hottest setting with an empty load. I ran Bessie on hot six times that day, with little impact on the reek in my washer. I washed those clothes several more times, and finally hung them outside to dry in the sun.

I called the national pesticide hotline. Which is answered by live people, not by an interactive voice response: (I can just imagine what I might say) "Press one if your washing machine is contaminated with pesticide. Press two if your dry-clean only clothes are saturated with petroleum distillates. Press three if you'd like to leave a message for one of our representatives to call you back within 30 days."

With the EPA reg number, they gave me the number for the manufacturer. I called the manufacturer; their phone is answered by an answering machine: "If you know the extension of the person you are trying to reach, dial it now, otherwise, press zero to leave a message and we will call you back tomorrow." Yeah, Right! I'm still waiting. My mom was able to contact someone at the manufacturing company via email, and his sig line included a phone number. I called him. He lives in Texas,

Me: "Hello, I spilled your pesticide all over my clothes and then washed them in the washing machine, now my washer reeks of petroleum distillates."

Jeff Luedke: "The pehstaciide is all gawn nahw, its jus' the soahlvent that ya' smehll in there noahw."

"I've seeyn thaht soahlvent; I've gotten it awn my skin. It wan't hurt ya'."

"Ma'am, if ya' doan't liahke that smell, just clowse the lauuhndry roohm dooahr."

"Put a box of baeeykin' sowda in theare and leave it for a coupla' daeys. Then change it ahout."

"Put the clothes owutside ta' driiy. UV raihys will tahke care of thaht faster than anything."

Me: "Yeah, but I can't put my washer outside."

Jeff: "Yeah, thaht's true. Thaht smell will goaw awaay eventually."

Around and around we went. He was real pleasant. But not particularly helpful. I tried his baking soda suggestion. I set a box of it in the washer over night. All I ended up with was a damp box of soda.

I was reluctant to wash any clothes in that washer, thus spreading the contamination farther and farther. Instead, I put a couple of old towels through and washed them about five times, on hot with lots of soap. Eventually, the soap smell was slightly stronger than the solvent smell. I hung them outside to dry—to protect Bertha from contamination. The dried towels did not smell like solvent. By now, several days had passed, laundry was staking up in my laundry room, threatening to fill the small space entirely. Everyone was out of clean underwear, I had to take action. I ran a test load, washing jeans first. They seemed to come out ok, so I filled the washer with our dainties. They also survived. I guess Jeff was right when he said, "Thaht smell will goaw awaay eventually."

So, the moral of the story: "Follow the lead of the Baptists: don't allow your washing machine to dance. It can lead to major chemical spills and other unfortunate accidents."