Thursday, May 17, 2012

Aphorisms and Stories while Driving Ms. Patsy

I pulled into Patsy's driveway, yesterday. It was a burning day, above 100. And at noon, you could've fried a rock. But the driveway was shaded by a desert willow and neighboring sweet sycamore, so there was respite while I walked up to her front door. The door was swinging open before I made it to the knob. Patsy was ready.

"I can't stand being late. And I hate dirty cars. I cleaned off my car this morning until my feet got too hot," she stated firmly.

In the year I've known Patsy I've never heard her complain, once. She says things as they ought to be said, all the time. And that's a very comfortable person to be with.

One time in her front room she was showing me her family pictures on the wall. "Isn't this great?" she asked, in a way that was more of a confirmation than a question. "My grandson, right here," she said pointing to a specific portrait, "once asked why he wasn't on the wall. Well, I said, 'Did you serve a mission? Did you graduate high school? Did you get your Eagle Scout? Then there you go.'"

In the year I've known Patsy I've also never seen someone love family or friends more. She lives for her family. "In 60 years of family reunions, I've missed only 5. One of those my husband died right before. When I get back to heaven I'm going to get after him for that one?"Patsy spends any downtime in a conversation talking about her family. Family is the energy that keeps her heart beating. At times she simply breaks down while talking about her family. But she weeps for only 10 seconds before she's right back at it, telling it how it is.

"I'm a boob, and so is my sister. Have been all my life. After my stroke in 2006 they tried to put me on one of those pills for depression. I took one and couldn't stand it. I said, 'Here, take your pills back I don't want any of that.'" And that was Patsy's brief exposure to antidepressants.

"But I never cried when my husband died. Eileen, my good friend, asked at church, 'Patsy I can't believe you, how are you not crying?' Well, I knew God was watching over me. Six months later Eileen's husband died. Then she believed me."

Well, yesterday we hopped in her black Nissan Altima so I could drive her to the cardiologist and chiropractor. She quit driving last September. At 97, that was probably a good time to quit. Patsy is quite nearly see-through, her collagen is so thin and stretched. But she's like the hammer in your shed that keeps on pounding even though the wood around it is all decayed. And she hits the nail on the head every time in all she does.

You see, she's had a lot of practice pounding away at life. Her husband died while she was young, leaving her with five kids to raise. And she raised them all by herself, never remarrying. She worked two jobs. "My kids never knew boredom. If they ever told me they were bored, I put them right to work. And one thing I learned early, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And join she did. Her kids have been paying her back for her love in these later years. Just the day before yesterday her oldest son took her out to lunch for mother's day. She spent the lunch telling her son why his son, her grandson, didn't come to talk to her at a wedding reception last week. "I hate that he didn't come talk to me, in his nice suit and standing on the other side of the reception hall all night. I can't stand that." Again, Patsy doesn't complain, she just knows what's right and wrong. And she's a missionary of right and wrong.

But there is a streak of evil in Patsy that came to light as we pulled onto River Road towards Northwest Hospital. I mentioned how the Rillito River used to run when the Mormons were the only ones farming the land with the Indians. And now with all the people we've dropped the water table so the river is a wash 364.8 days of the year. And that got Patsy reminiscing. And one of the things she remembered back in her day was goat's milk.

"Have you ever tried it?"
"Nope." I said.
"Well you should, it's good. One time I brought over my best friend. She said she doesn't like goat's milk. So I put out two glasses of milk and told her one was goat's milk and she was to try them both to see which she liked. Well she loved the other one. But they were both goat's milk. I tricked her."

Patsy disclosed her trickery with a straight face. I laughed.

We pulled into the hospital parking lot and scored the sweetest spot, right next to the entrance. I have beef with handicap tags but when you have one you feel like royalty. I parked the car, turned it off and told Patsy to wait while I ran around to open her door and lift her out. Well I'm a skinny knuckle so when she first pulled up I came right into the passenger door on her lap. I made a mental note right then to get my LA Fitness membership that night. If anyone saw a 97 year old lady take me down I'd never get over it, I thought. But I'm over it, because the cardiologist said Patsy is the strongest woman he has ever seen. He saw her all of ten minutes and she was out the door before I could even get into David McCullough's Truman biography.

Perfect bill of health, with a blood pressure average sitting around 130/80.

Patsy grabbed my arm and smiled as we walked to make her next appointment. She makes annual visits to her cardiologist. 97 years old. Annual visits. Unreal.

Our next stop was her second cousin. "Kissing cousins" she called it. He is a chiropractor. We pulled up to his office and their he was, the Doctor, out sweeping the front of his office in long-sleeve shirt, tie and slacks. In 100 degree weather! Having never seen a physician sweep his own office porch, I felt like I was back in the '40's. And the inside was decorated to match, with Normal Rockwell paintings all over and wallpaper trim up high on the walls, you know, the flowery type that makes it look like Grandma's house. And there was Grandma, sitting at the reception desk! It was a great office. And Patsy was the only patient, so she received prompt treatment. I'm still neutral when it comes to how I view the effectiveness of a chiropractor. Glorified massage is where I tend to think the practice calls home.

But the visit was nice, Patsy gave hugs to everyone, happy her shoulder felt better, which she swears it does, and we headed out to the car for our drive home. On the way home Patsy told me more stories. And in between stories she handed out gems of life. If I live by these gems, I know I'll live a good life like her. She's a person who you can't help but feel better about yourself for being around her. She walks and talks in a way that just makes you want to give the world a hug, at least the ones who deserve it, and to beat the lazy ones with a stick until they start working to deserve a hug.

We pulled into the driveway and Patsy had one more request.

"Come in and help me get the lid off my ice cream."

Clever Patsy.

Back in the car again, headed home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grandma's and Facebook

My Grandma Hansen is a wonderful woman. She's lost most of her ability to carry on a linear conversation for longer than a couple minutes. But despite her lack of linear conversations she is becoming quickly famous for her one-liners.

While sitting at a state park eating a picnic with family on Friday, she saw two men walking back from the trailhead.

"Oh, two men out together. You don't see that too often," she said, while chewing watermelon.

The two men looked back and smiled understandingly at me and Anna. I still find myself laughing alone in the car when I think about that...

Also, I think the new "timeline" on facebook is fantastic! Anna and I just evaporated thirty minutes of our life scrolling back through memories. And I saw photos of myself I've never seen before. Amazing. Imagine how the church will use this medium for family history in the next few decades.

I of course sent out more friend invites. Now I'm not addicted to my total friend count like Roger Clemens is to HGH, but it still feels like I need to do it simply because Facebook suggests. I'd hate to offend...

And I sent messages. "How are you doing?" I asked an old co-worker. I realized she might be offended (I really do hate to offend) because I didn't look at her facebook to see how she was really doing. I could've looked there in the first place to know exactly how she was doing.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

BYU Police Beat For Winter Semester

Suspicious Activity

Feb. 16 – A suspicious man was reported watching an aerobics class. When officers arrived, the man said his fiancĂ©e was the teacher. She confirmed his statement.

Feb. 21 – A suspicious car was reported outside the Ellsworth Building. The two people in the car were reading the scriptures.

Feb. 24 – A call reported a female student standing on the bridge over East Campus Drive. The caller was worried she would throw something at cars passing. When a police officer found her, the student said she was taking a break from studying and looking at the stars.

Feb. 29 – A girl taking pictures of a man in his underwear between the HFAC and the MOA was reported. Police arrived and could not locate the individuals.

March 16 – A male was found sleeping on the third floor of the JKB at 5 a.m. He said he had fallen asleep the evening before and had not meant to sleep all night. The man was informed of the building rules on remaining in a building after hours.

Criminal Mischief

Feb. 24 – Graffiti was found on the control box at the outdoor track by Helaman Hall. It said, “My heart is over at your service. Shakespeare.”

March 27 – A number of egg attacks were reported on campus between 6 and 7 a.m. A woman walking was struck in the leg with an egg. A group of military cadets also reported being egged. Legends Grille had eggs thrown at its exterior. The individuals who threw the eggs were reported to be driving a silver vehicle. The drivers were located and charges are currently pending.

Jan. 5 – Somewhere between 1970-1985, a piece of art valued at $218,000 was stolen from BYU campus. After being stolen, the “Silver Chalice” was sold between a number of different art dealers before finally landing in Switzerland with Count Thyssen-Bornemisz’s collection. BYU negotiated with Thyssen-Bornemisz’s estate and the piece of art was returned to BYU.

Feb. 24 – BYU Bookstore security caught a student stealing two textbooks. During the police investigation, it was found he had stolen books from the store before. Police officers accompanied him to his residence and recovered three more textbooks. The total value was about $660. He was cited for a class B misdemeanor for retail theft.

March 23 – A teaching assistant at the Talmage Building reported the Oreo cookies on her office desk were missing. She told the officer the door is always locked except for janitors. There were four cookies, worth 50 cents.


Feb. 28 – A smell of marijuana was reported in May Hall. The officers brought a K-9 unit with them, who located which room the smell was coming from. The residents were not home when police arrived, but, after being called by police, they returned home. The residents would not allow officers to enter the room. Police got a search warrant approved and entered. They found marijuana residue, drug paraphernalia and tobacco in the room. The situation is currently under investigation.

March 8 – A Provo police officer found five BYU students smoking marijuana in a van parked by a local business around 4 a.m. During investigation, the officer found out these students had connections to the drug bust in May Hall. They were cited for drug possession.


Feb. 8 – A complaint was received from the JFSB about mysterious flyers posted on some professors’ office doors. One flyer’s message was, “Cosmo likes this,” with a thumbs-up sign. The other one said, “Cosmo doesn’t like this” with a thumbs-down sign.

Verbal Altercation

Feb. 8 – Two male individuals were reported having a verbal altercation in the Smith Fieldhouse. One of them was a student, the other was not. They were arguing about a girl they both knew and dated.

Animal problem

Jan. 14 — Three student custodians at the Testing Center reported seeing two wolves running toward the Former Presidents’ Home.  After thoroughly surveying the area with spotlights, officers could not confirm the presence of wolves on campus.  The officers returned to ask the custodians if they were sure the animals were wolves, to which one custodian responded, “For sure, they were really big.” One of the students then said he wanted to wait for the wolves so he could scare them away.  The officers suggested they get back to work.

Feb. 21 – A live hamster was reported in the Cannon Center. Officers responded and were unable to locate the hamster. The call is believed to have been a prank.


Jan. 31 – Some children in Wymount Terrace called the police, saying they did not have any parents at home. Police arrived and found a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old home alone. After many attempts, the mom was contacted. She said she was on her way home and would never leave her children home alone again

Feb. 12 – A husband resident of Wymount Terrace reported a missing wife. He told the officer his wife had not come back from grocery shopping. During the interview, the wife walked into the room.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

These Is My Words

Pontiac Vibes are great SUV's. We packed two mountain bikes, two road bikes, camping gear, a week's worth of clothing, food, two bodies, and a 24-pack of diet coke, with room to spare. With four cylinders it also gets great gas mileage. And so we packed for our week-long vacation! We are tucking in the corners of our Tucson experience this month and it's mildly stressful changing jobs and moving, so we were looking forward to the break. Tucson bid us adieu on Saturday afternoon pushing 100 degree weather.

Saturday afternoon/night: We pulled into Thatcher, tired and hungry. We walked around to find Mom and Dad lounging on the porch and admiring their newly updated backyard with their colonial wall and arch. Dad asked me to copy a design in a Tucson garden, which I did on my svelte MacBook. But I think I'll continue to stake out my financial future in medicine, not architectural design.

And the backyard looked lovely. We watched the sun fall through the arch, on the horizon and barbecued with Mykol and Sally. We then lounged on the grass in the back, enjoying the cool breeze and checking out constellations with more Mac products. And Dad shared stories of his piratical youth, fighting barbed wires and jumping off motorcycles. Check out the scars on his legs sometime. After that we desserted with Angel Food Cake. Yes. That has to be what manna looked/tasted like. The mystery is in the name. Fueled, we competed in Mexican Train Dominoes. We all enjoyed ourselves. Poor Anna counted her dots all night to a hefty total, so we talked after about how much we like card games.

We finished the night watching "We Bought a Zoo." I kept thinking what Jason Bourne would do to his child yelling at him. Hmm.

Sunday: A good, hot day. Anna and I went for a morning walk around the desert loop of neighborhoods, cotton fields, and desert plains. Dusty and sweaty, we showered and dressed for church. My dad is bishop in a singles ward so Anna and I felt twenty years older than everyone else, even though everyone is about our age. It's a great ward. My dad is a great Bishop. After church we napped, read books, and ate dinner. We read some more after, chatted with the parents, and crashed on the pull-out bed, exhausted after a day

Monday: The sun beat us up. We packed the car and pointed it east to Morenci and beyond. We turned north into New Mexico and then crossed back into northern Arizona. Soon we were in the White Mountains: Alpine, Eager, then Greer, our destination point! Greer is a great nook of a town. Mostly cabins it fits snugly in a canyon headed nowhere. Flanked on the east and west by mountains, you drive south for about five miles on a road, passing roadside cafes, lodges, cabins, a firehouse, and small grocery stores. The road is lined by a white gravel bike path and the Little Colorado River. If you've ever been to Breckenridge, imagine that but downsized and without a ski resort.

We pulled into the Greer Mountain Lodge, checked in, grabbed some travel guides and searched out our unit. Our cabin faced a small fishing pond. Inside we found a big room with a fridge, gas stove, microwave, walk-in closet, spacious bathroom, and satellite TV. We were pleased. We unloaded the car and changed into biking gear for a mountain trail ride in the afternoon. We were rusty, but excited to be out in the mountain air. After a killer climb we found a dirt road to ride. At the end of the dirt road we came across a Caterpillar operator smoothing the road. He shut off his engine when we pulled up and kicked his legs up on the dash for a rest, swigging out of a Gatorade bottle.

I asked him where the road leads to. He said to a fork, where we can go left to Big Lake or right back around to Greer on a highway. How far? I asked. He said, Ah, maybe two or three miles. Enough of a ride for you two to get back before the sunset to enjoy a beer. Anna and I smiled at him and then at each other, thanked him for the directions, and rode back home. I think working out in the country would be a good life.

We got back to the cabin and grabbed some dogs, marshmallows, chips, and wood. We drove a couple miles north of Greer to a campsite and made our bonfire. I loaded it up with pine needles scattered across the forest floor. Smells and memories of fathers and sons outings lifted up into our minds with the smoke. Well, for me, anyway. Nothing like a good bonfire to throw pine needles on. We read "These Is My Words." by the light of the fire. When the flames shrunk we killed 'em off with water and packed up the car. Anna, afraid of setting Greer on fire, returned to the pit to spit on it. She did, my girl literally spit into the smokey remains. I love that woman.

Tuesday: We thought it would be a nice day to take it easy. So we woke up late, went for a walk through Greer, and admired cabins. Greer is green, and with the Little Colorado it makes for some picturesque real estate. Someday, just maybe, Greer would be a good place for a cabin. My preference would still be Pine or Strawberry, AZ. After our walk we drove to the nearest roadside cafe for some greasy good breakfast. Eggs. Hash browns. Dry toast with butter and jelly from little plastic boxes. I always feel like a clover trying to spoon out all the jelly. For drinks the waiter asked if we wanted any vodka. Seems like they like to drink in Greer.

After our meal we went back to the cabin to read and lounge. I hiked the mountain across the field and river from our cabin. At the top I saw remains of last year's fire, the largest in AZ history, started by two good young men from Benson, AZ. They did all we did to our bonfire last night, but they didn't have Anna for the finishing spit. Hence, widespread destruction.

I hiked back down to our cabin where Anna was doing what is probably her favorite two things at once: knitting and listening to a book on tape. She looked at me and asked if I was ready for our drive up to Big Lake. We sat lakeside and read and napped. On the way back home we counted over 15 elk.

We made another big bonfire to finish the day. Marshmallows...

Wednesday: We woke up, packed the bags, bid adieu to Greer and drove up to Snowflake for a temple session. After that we picnicked in a park and drove into the evening to St. George to hook up with Anna's family for two days of biking, playing with kids, and more sleeping. I think one of the highlights of those two days was getting to know Richard Scarry with Anna. She flipped open the book and fell back into her childhood. (This is a tangent but one thing ebooks cannot do is look inviting to someone nearby. When I see someone reading an ebook I have no impulse to ask what they are reading or to look over their shoulder. But if someone opens a real book, it's as if the book's cover act as arms, gesturing a welcoming hug for you to sit up close and cozy with another reader and partake in its contents)  I also loved spending time with the Johnsons and Birks. The Boyers are a good and patient family. Ironically that tries my patience sometimes. Take one evening after dinner: the clan was deciding about a walk up "fat man's revenge." They spent almost five minutes being nice to each other and respecting each other's opinion while they tried to decide what to do. The way I grew up it was: "This is what we're doing." "Let's go, nope you can't stay behind." "You should have thought about it before we left." This might sound like a harsh difference, but it required no patience on my part when I was young. No patience but I got real good at practicing the refined art of complaining. But how can you complain with family who always make sure they are doing what the other person wants? The problem is if you don't have patience you are left standing in a quagmire of indecision :) Honestly, though, my glass is always half-full with my native and married families. I just might not always act that way. I'm a Hansen so my love comes out way overdue in most cases, usually when the people I love are asleep and I can't tell them at the moment.

We spent the nights playing some games and talking health care policy. I came out of those talks thinking it's all the lawyers' fault.

All in all, it was a great week. We played and slept a lot in some great warm weather. Life is finally more enjoyable with the summer heat arriving. I can't see why Anna disagrees. Those are my words...