Sunday, November 8, 2015

Another One Bites The Dust

I'm not saying exactly how it happened.  Actually, I'm not saying how it happened at all.  But what is clear is that I was recently forced to buy a yet another new cell phone because my very stylish, and very expensive smart phone bit the dust. Because inquiring minds want to know, what I will say about the circumstances that lead to the demise of yet another phone is that it involved both very unhygienic water and high speed impact.  As readers of Darrell's Yakimania well know, I have replaced a number of my phones due to curious conditions that have voided the insurance replacement contract.  I have lost, damaged and destroyed phones in peculiar circumstances that can only be described as fantastical.  I wouldn't have believe some of these events, had I not been present and witnessed with my own eyes what actually happened.  It's frustrating for me, primarily because I can't explain my seemingly endless streak of bad luck when it comes to cell phones.  It's as if my phones hate me for reasons that defy logic.  Phones (as smart as they are) cannot think; therefore, this notion that "my phones hate me" makes no sense whatsoever. And because none of this makes sense, nor provides me with the ability to rationally explain it, I simple shrug and confess, another bites the dust.

O Ye of Little Faith

Let me just say as a man of faith, I believe in miracles.  While I do not understand how the Lord helped Moses part the Red Sea, I am convinced that it happened.  And though I’m not sure why the ravenous lions did not eat Daniel, or how Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived the firery furnace, however, as a person of faith I believe these phenomena actually happened as described in the scriptures.  I am surrounded by people of faith, especially my wife—the Shewolf.  She is truly a woman with a believing heart.  And so it is with literally every member of my family--as a group they are capable of believing the wondrous miracles recorded in holy writ. 

Knowing that my family is so willing to believe in the miracles of the Bible and the Restored gospel, I am intrigued and nonplussed as to why it is so difficult for them to believe the seemingly small miracles that occur in every-day life.  Just this morning I arose early, which I am wont to do, and discovered a veritable modern day miracle.  A pan of chocolate chip cookies apparently came out of the oven with a missing corner.  To me, this appeared to be nothing short of a miracle. How else to explain this kitchen oddity?  I, however, was immediately swarmed by people who choose to compartmentalize their faith, and instead of seeing an obvious miracle, replaced faith with accusations and the preternatural with doubt.  If all of the fantastic miracles accounted for in the scriptures are so readily believed by my loved ones, why the sudden crisis of faith when it comes to a pan of cookies?  Why discount and find unbelievable a pan that miraculously bakes cookies in a weird and inexplicable configuration?  This family conflict begs the question, "Which is harder, raising the dead, or baking cookies in an odd shape?" 

While accusations continue to be flung in my general direction for the simple reason that I discovered the pan of cookies with the missing corner, I remain strong, resilient, and even defiant in the face of these naysaying misanthropes.  Even if it wasn’t a miracle, why the hubris over a bit of cookie?  If this continues, I might just consider moving to the Deep South where I undoubtedly can find better friends and surround myself with people who will believe virtually anything—yes, those elect few who are capable of finding the face of Elvis in a grilled cheese sandwich or perhaps even the effigy of Pope Francis in a mutilated marshmallow.   

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


I have a number of journals, most of which my family is convinced are filled with a conscious stream of lunacy.  They are dreading my death because they will be faced with the dilemma:
 a) do we preserve and disseminate an important and irreplaceable bit of our family history because it undoubtedly contains lots of indicting and embarrassing information about every family member?, or b) do we destroy and bury an important and irreplaceable bit of our family history because it undoubtedly contains lots of indicting and embarrassing information about every family member?

I believe in journals, even when the content is less than perfect prose, or perhaps even embarrassing.  Journals capture something that photos, videos and multimedia cannot.  In journals we have an opportunity to be thoughtful and reflectively express complex ideas and feelings. Photos, videos and multimedia better capture moments, which invite speculation by the viewer about the feelings of the subject presented.  Visual media can be art, whereas written journals represent life--at least as viewed by the author.

Accordingly, I have encouraged my family to keep journals. I am certain these recordings will be of great value someday.  My kids have been variously committed to journal keeping in different forms.  I sent a couple of boxes from our attic down to Darcee in Portland.  One of these boxes contained a journal of when Darcee was 7 years old.  She texted to all of us the entry related Sydney's birth. 

It has been riotous watching Darcee's entries being shared and the responses from her siblings.  My prediction that these journals would be of great value has proved true, even if that value has been primarily the entertainment value enjoyed by our family. Most of what we write may in fact be viewed as mundane, but in every journal there is likely to be some kernel of truth, some insightful comment, or some observation or viewpoint that will make us all grateful that we took the time to write.

I usually keep a travel journal whenever I travel.  I had almost completed a small journal that included my thoughts and feelings when I visited the Ann Frank house in Amsterdam.  I lost that journal on my last trip to Europe.  Such a loss for me is incalculable. As disappointed as I am in that loss, I am equally joyful that Darcee discovered one of her childhood journals and was willing to share some poignant and rather mature thoughts she expressed as a young girl trapped in the crazy environment we call family. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Most Remarkable Daughter

Thirty three year ago Sheila gave birth to most amazing child.   Her birth really began on April 1, 1982.  I told Sheila, "You just cross those legs; ain't none of our kids going to be born on April 1st!  They'll be pranked for everyone of their birthdays. So just shut her down girlfriend!"  Seriously, could you imagine that! I don't know if the leg crossing technique worked, but in the end Chelsea Jan was born early in the morning on April 2, 1982.

It was a snowy Spring day in Salt Lake City the day she was born.  Despite the weather, my heart and soul were warmed by the thought of such a beautiful child.  And every day since April 2, 1982, my heart and soul have continued to be warmed by the simple fact that she is part of our family.  For thirty three years she has given us nothing but joy.  And while that might sound like hyperbole, it's absolutely true.

Chelsea has always lived her life with confidence and courage.  She has accomplished much and continues to inspire me to be better, and do more.  Two things in particular illustrate her greatness.  First, as a high school senior she made a decision to raise money for Dollars for Scholars.  This was before Senior Projects were required.  Chelsea did it because she is a do-gooder.  Now-a-days, every high school senior is required to do a senior project.  And as we have seen, many of these projects are lame and mostly self-serving.  In contrast, her project was ambitious, substantive and wildly successful.  She ended up raising over $11,000 for her charity.  Not bad for a high school senior who received virtually no assistance from her parents in pulling this off.  Second, was when she left for graduate school in London.  If she was nervous, or had doubts, it never showed.  She has always exhibited a determination and grit that has made me proud. She lived and thrived in a foreign country (Chile) as a missionary of course, but that's different--as a missionary, you are watched over by a mission president.  When we visited her in London on several occasions, it was obvious that she was capable of handling her affairs sans guidance or assistance from her parents.  I have never been prouder of Chelsea than when we attended her graduation from the University of London. 

I know that I have been far less of a parent than what she deserves, but I am grateful for the times we have shared: hiking, backpacking, skiing, and just chilling.  While there is nothing remarkable about a thirty-third birthday, there is something extraordinarily remarkable about this young daughter of mine!  So Happy Birthday Chelsea!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"I Gotta Get Me One of Those!"

The She-wolf and I were watching a movie the other night which included a very sexy scene of some star-struck lovers dancing.  I commented, "Why don't we dance more?  I'm really good, you know."  Silence.  I continued, "All bet if we had the right sound system, we might dance more." More silence.  I'm pretty sure that a person like me who truly loves to dance is held back primarily by the lack of opportunity.  I reasoned, "If we had a really cool sound system, you know, something like the DJs used that MC'd at Keith's Hero-Up for Children's Cancer race in Portland, I bet you and I would be dancing all of the time."  As I thought more about the serious equipment they used, I could almost feel my heart thumping, and I knew right then, "Whoa, I gotta get me one of those!"--referring to their sound system.  I suggested to the Shewolf that I absolutely needed such a system.  As one might suspect, she then proceeded to lecture me a bit on needs vs. wants.  Our conversation went something like this:

     "What would you do with a system like that?"
     "I would invite my friends over and we would rock out?"
     "I can't see any of your friends wanting to come over for a dance party with you.  Frankly, it seems like a stupid idea."
     "Are you saying my friends are boring?"
     "No, I just can't see it happening."
     "Well with a system like that, maybe I'll get new friends."
     " Yeah, you do that Big Guy."

I love my wife to pieces, but honestly, sometimes she totally lacks vision.  And as readers of Darrell's Yakimania all know, vision is what makes me who I am.  I'm pricing out systems right now because of this vision.  I don't really see myself totally abandoning all of my old friends, of course, but I have to admit that some new friends who would totally appreciate my new rocking sound system is intriguing.   While there have been some notoriously bad decisions in my life that have started with "I gotta get me one of those," I'm absolutely certain that getting a big sound system to create more opportunities to dance with my wife is not one of those.

The photo above is me relishing the sound system used at Keith's Hero-Up for Children's Cancer race.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Unauthorized Version

I was working out this year's schedule and trying to figure out how to squeeze in the 2015 NCAA wrestling tournament in St. Louis.  In doing so, I reminisced about  last year's tournament in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma that Shea and I attended.  The wrestling, as expected, was nothing less than spectacular, and was matched only by the food and the most excellent wrestling stories we shared.  I have been known to exaggerate a story or two, particularly if it involves wrestling.  This fact is generally known by my close friends, primarily because they are often the subject of these stories.  At a tournament a few years ago a close friend bought me a T-shirt that pretty much sums it up:  "Genuine Antique Wrestler--the older I get, the better I was."  Yep that hits pretty close to home. 

The truth is that every one's version of a particular event is interpreted, remembered and influenced by their personal biases and perspectives.  Case in point: at last year's NCAA tournament I was telling a particularly interesting story about my brother Jeff and my experience while wrestling in Rock Springs, Wyoming circa 1978.  It's a pretty funny story that I have told and retold over the years.  I tell this story in dramatic fashion, and in a manner that always seems to entertain my audience.  On this particular occasion, I was nearing the end of this story and one of my brother's wrestlers interrupted, "Hey, wait a minute! I've heard this story, only the facts were quite a bit different."  I was really put out; this punk kid was ruining my story by interrupting at a most critical juncture.  I demanded to know,  "Did you hear this story from my brother, Jeff?"  "Yeah, I'm pretty sure I heard it from him."  He replied.  Dang that brother of my mine!  I fumed.  As the older brother doesn't he know that I have first rights to all sibling stories?   What was even more disturbing is that he told this story in such an unauthorized manner.  

As a story teller, it's not so much facts that I am concerned with, rather, the it's the truth that demands my attention.  Even so, altering trivial facts in a story that you know your older sibling repeatedly includes in his repertoire is entirely out-of-bounds.  To be sure, Jeff and I had words over his unauthorized version of my story, even though the story is primarily about him.   In the end, I don't expect things to really change that much.   He has a good story, while I have a great story.  Yes, the facts are different, but the truth is the same. As long as we don't cross contaminant each other's audiences, things should be just fine, even though the wrestling story he tells is clearly the unauthorized version of a most remarkable story.  

Two former WV wrestlers: Lil Brute Lane Bruland and Shea "the Assassin" Smart

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Would You Deny a Dying Man His Final Wish?!

I recently blogged that "I am dying."  The Shewolf chalked this declaration  up to mere hyperbole, which she claims she has come to expect from me.  In truth, we are all dying, but recently, I have experienced an acute awareness of my mortality.  I think it started with a recent review of Darrell's Big List, which is essentially my Bucket List.  I have been struggling to find the time to accomplish much of what's on Darrell's Big List and my life is flying by with such alacrity, that it's difficult to envision completion of everything on my list before I die.  In short, as a 57 years old I am simply running out of time to accomplish my goals, both serious and frivolous.

So I decided it's time for a course correction.  I placed on my calendar for 2015 some spectacular events, including climbing in South America and a Brazilian Jujitsu tournament in Europe.  Either I'm in, or I'm out. I choose to be in.  When I went home and reviewed my plans for 2015 with my wife, she was skeptical about my plans and gently suggested that I reconsider these newly scheduled adventures and tamp down my ambitions. "Are you crazy?!  You are going to kill yourself, and trust me when I say, I have no interest in being left as a premature widow." My response, of course was as equally tempered, "Would you deny a dying man a few final wishes?!"