Friday, August 28, 2009

Seven Years Ago . . .

I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing.
"The baby's gone."
"They can't find the heartbeat. Savannah's gone."

There are a million things that go through your mind at that moment, and none of them belong there or make sense. There is an overwhelming urge to "do something" - call for help, scream, pray, negotiate, demand. None of which feels like the appropriate response.

Jennifer had gotten up early to go to the Doctor's office. 36 weeks, this was most likely the last visit before the delivery. Everything had been normal during the visit; they'd talked about the delivery date and everything.

"Do you want to hear the heartbeat before you go?"

Such an innocent question. What mother wouldn't jump at any chance to hear their baby's heartbeat. In hindsight, such an ironic question. We would have given anything, everything we had to hear that heart beating before we left that office.

There was no "movie scene" of weeping and wailing. There was surprisingly little emotional reaction. We were numb. This wasn't happening. What were we supposed to do next? The delivery was scheduled for two days later. Two days! Two days of shambling around like zombies looking for something we were supposed to do.

We weren't supposed to be doing any of it. We were supposed to be finishing her room, planning the Labor Day festivities, getting the boys ready to take care of their little sister; Not talking to funeral homes; Not buying burial plots; Not going through a full delivery with no expectation of joy - our Savannah Joy.

Oddly enough there were some lighter moments during this difficult time. My sister Angie asked our, then 86 year old, father, "Why are you crying? You'll see her before any of the rest of do!" Our neighbor Susan, a maternity nurse, gave us such good advice to preserve Savannah's memory. The Inkley's Photo manager who sacrificed her time on a Holiday weekend so that we could have photographs of Savannah at the graveside service. My friends I sang with, now singing for us, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand." Our church leader introducing himself as "Savannah's Bishop" at the funeral.

Grief is like a sad movie that makes you cry every time you watch it. If you watch it enough times, you cry less even though the movie is still sad. We gather every year at her grave and release balloons to remind us that she isn't in the grave but up in heaven, watching us, and waiting for that joyful reunion when our family will be whole again.

In Loving Memory

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Book Review - Terry Pratchett's Nation

I just finished reading Terry Pratchett's Nation and I have to say it was quite an enjoyable read. I've posted both the U.S. cover (the shipwreck) and the U.K cover (the really cool one with the silhouette) so you can easily identify the book when you run out to buy it on my recommendation. Aside: Why do U.S. publishers tend to go with inferior artwork on our books? I have been disappointed on numerous occasions to find that I prefer the U.K. cover art to the U.S. cover art on books I have purchased. Anyway, enough of that, where was I? Oh yes. I first heard of Terry Pratchett when someone said to me, in response to a particularly corny pun, "I bet you love Terry Pratchett." A ringing endorsement if ever I heard one. Shortly thereafter, one of my favorite authors, Patrick Rothfuss, posted a glowing review of Nation on his blog, which sealed the deal. I doubt Nation is representative of Pratchett's body of work, given the sheer number of Discworld books, but I would read more of his books based on the quality of this one.

Nation takes place on a parallel Earth where things have developed differently in some aspects but are the same in other aspects. Pratchett refers to the parallel world concept as "The great big multiple-universes get-out-of-jail-free card." I will admit that as a plot device in Stargate SG-1, and Star Trek (you name it) and even loosely in the "Who shot J.R.?" season of Dallas the parallel world idea kinda pisses me off, but in Nation it works for me.

There is nothing in Nation that is overly complex. I have recommended it to my kids to read. However, the book actually provides a vehicle for some very complex subjects; if you wish to spend time contemplating them. Subjects such as faith, tradition, science, leadership, good and evil are all given some analysis and character development within the story that unfolds.

With its island setting, the book brought back memories of reading Call it Courage and Island of the Blue Dolphins when I was young. I loved the adventurous nature of those books and the "what would I do in that situation?" thoughts that they inspired. I would put Nation in the same category, but at my advanced age (well beyond the age of 10 when I read Call it Courage), I resonate more with the deeper contexts in Nation that just weren't present in the other adventure books I read.

I know I haven't said much about the story and that's on purpose. I don't like book reviews (or movie reviews) that divulge the entire plot. (Unless they hated the movie/book, in the which case they just saved me a ten-spot or more) So, because I liked Nation I'll let you read it yourself to discover what the plot is. Or you can search on-line for someone else's review that reveals the whole story.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Jam Session

My new years celebration was pretty fun this year. After staying up late and getting silly with a bunch of friends, I got up this morning and went to an impromptu jam session hosted by my brother-in-law, Greg Bee. His brother has a warehouse/office building and has converted part of the warehouse into a stage/party room/garage. We played for several hours. My hands were cramping because I play my guitar less often than I write on my blog. Anyway, Greg's wife Cindy blogged about it and has some more pictures on her site. However she seems to have a thing for the drummer so there is only one pic with me in it. (That's me on the far right if you can't tell) Hope everyone else got a chance to have some fun to start the year off right. Happy 2009 everyone.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Oh, look out you rock 'n rollers
Pretty soon you're gonna get a little older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
- David Bowie, Changes

I've started this post a number of times but I've never quite put together what the focus should be. I seem to be surrounded (in blog land) by others who have no end of interesting, humorous, insightful, and silly things to post on their blogs. A number of you have subtly, and not so subtly, nagged encouraged me to update my blog. So here goes...

I'm a grandiose dreamer. I'm a complex thinker. I'm an introspective writer. I'm an amateur theologian/philosopher. I'm a musician, a thespian, a comedian, and an engineer. I am also my own worst critic. Some would call me a pessimist. A teacher once called me a cynic. I've often called myself a realist. I like to think of myself as a guarded optimist. Can you see a pattern here?

I started acting at age six. My first gig was a serendipitous speaking/singing role in a community production of Babes in Toyland. A speaking part in a professional theater production of Hans Christian Andersen followed shortly thereafter. I had a string of comedic roles in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade school plays and musicals and gave my last performance in the 10th grade production of Bye, Bye, Birdie. I 'retired' from acting at the ripe old age of 15. I've played piano, saxophone, guitar and bass; I even played the bassoon for about six months. I've sung in a Barbershop Quartet, a large amateur choir, a small professional choir and even been a part of several commercial recordings. I'm not trying to brag or construct a curriculum vitae. I'm trying to illustrate a life-long tendency to shift focus to other interesting things; a poor-man's Attention Deficit Disorder, if you will. A spiritual leader once told me to not be narrow in my educational pursuits because I would have the opportunity to pursue many different paths in life. Whether from inspired insight or personal experience his counsel has proved to be prophetic.

If you're still with me here, you may ask yourself, "What's with this introspective blog post?" I kindly refer you to the third sentence in paragraph two. October was a pretty good month. I took a WoodBadge course to augment my training as a Scout leader. My wife, Jennifer's two-year volunteer stint as campaign manager for Jason Chaffetz was nearing Election Day. The company I was working at, S5 Wireless, had some meetings with some "big name" companies that might be interested in investing. Sure there were news stories about economic downturn, credit freezes, and bailouts, but that all seemed to be happening elsewhere. Then, some butterfly flapped its wings...

  • Halloween, October 31 - We were given notice that my company would "hibernate" and that I was out of a job. The economic problems had created too much insecurity in the venture capital market and we couldn't raise the money we needed.
  • Election Day, November 4th - Jason Chaffetz won the election. Talks started with Jennifer about a possible position on his staff. Looks like she now has an opportunity to get paid for her talents and skills.
  • Sunday, November 9th - My dad is admitted to the hospital with signs of possible stroke and/or blood clots. Turns out it was a medication imbalance and fortunately he avoided any serious complications. However, he can no longer care for my mom and the kids are stepping in to cover things for a while.

A trifecta of changes all in the same week. Halloween of 2008 will be one of those inflection points on my path through history; My life will never be the same. However, this time, it doesn't feel like a catastrophe. I'm not in a panic. I don't even feel much stress. I don't know what the future holds but it doesn't bother me. I've been through changes before.

I am a provider. I am a caregiver. I am a husband. I am a father. I am a son.

I am a guarded optimist.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Proud to be an American.

Something really cool happened at work today. The entire office was talking about it. Our co-worker Tony and his wife took the Oath of Allegiance, joining with over seven-hundred others in becoming citizens of the United States of America.

Tony came to America from Brazil when he was 16. His journey to citizenship has taken 20 years. He spent thirteen years in the morass of visa applications before finally getting his 'green card' and another seven years waiting for citizenship. He now has the right to vote in the upcoming election and plans to do so; which alone makes him a better citizen than many other Americans.

He was so excited and happy that he could now say he is an American. His neighbors placed hundreds of American flags on their lawn this morning to help them celebrate this great event. It was a wonderful day for his family and a good day for America because America benefits from citizens like Tony and his wife. Tony's wife helps organize a local Brazilian Festival and we all know where community organizing can take you. (OK, she doesn't qualify for that office but there are others)

I'm currently linked into Jason Chaffetz's campaign in Utah's 3rd Congressional District because my wife, Jennifer, is his campaign manager. Immigration has become a hot-button issue in that campaign, so I was interested in Tony's experience. Basically, legal immigration is a long and difficult process. It sometimes requires paying a lawyer to help fill out forms, and even then it can get messed up. Tony's experience was long, but went fairly smooth. He says he can understand why some people who just want to come here to work choose to do so illegally; it's less hassle.

Now that just doesn't sound right, but then, think about what the government makes us do to get on an airplane: no scissors, only 3 oz. of liquid in a container, no nail files; none of which actually makes us safer in the planes. How many of us wouldn't jump at the chance to walk around that screening mess at the airport. Before we do anything about the millions of people here illegally, we need to fix the system. Voluntary compliance with laws and regulations will happen more when it doesn't take lawyers to get anything done. Imagine if you needed a lawyer to register your car. How about if you needed a lawyer, as well as an accountant, to file your taxes? Would you be less inclined to file? Americans would be screaming to fix the system and electing leaders who would do something about it.

Well, fortunately for Americans, they don't have to deal with the immigration system in this country; those who do don't have a vote. Jason Chaffetz has identified the current legal immigration system as a contributor to the illegal immigration problem we have in this country. The number-one item, the first step, on his plan for solving the illegal immigration issue is to FIX the legal system. That's why he will get my vote in November and possibly the votes of many who just went through the system as well.