Thursday, September 11, 2014

Grandpa Anderson

My Grandpa Anderson died in April 1959. I never knew him in this mortal life. However, I believe that my birth 4 months later helped to comfort my parents in their mourning. My earliest memories included the assurance that my Grandpa Anderson knew me in heaven and sent me to my mom and dad. Years later I came across a few documents that he had written. In those few pages I sensed a connection between us; his love for nature, his loyalty and patriotism. How teaching was so significant in his life. Of the sorted photos that we have of him one stands out. He is sitting on his porch, looking out over his front lawn to the mountain which would have filled his view. He is holding a grandchild on his lap.

Here I am now, 66 years later, holding my grandson on that selfsame porch in his house which is now my house. Buildings vary so little over the decades. While the people inside and the world outside change faster than we can adapt. Beyond the white picket fence I see the golden washed clouds over Mt Timpanogos as the sun sets to the west. This is a moment. I am now Grandpa Anderson. I belong here.
We traveled to Utah last week for the blessing of Luke Daniel Anderson, our youngest grandson born 7 weeks earlier to Samuel and Michelle. All of our children, their spouses and Luke's three cousins came to witness the event. What a joyous reunion it was. We are currently scattered in five states.
Four grandsons in one year; what a dream come true. Jamison David Solari, son of Caitlin and Ben turned one this week, followed by Kent Durham Anderson, son of Alexandria and Jeremy, who is 10 months. Then Seth Douglas Hammond, son of Rebecca and Jason, now 8 months old.
Sunday arrived and it was time for the blessing which occurs at the beginning of Sacrament Meeting. We encircled Luke with our hands as we stood shoulder to shoulder; four generations. Sam invoked beautiful blessings and promises. As we sat down again in our pews I casually glanced at those around us. With Barbie next to me I saw to each side and directly in front each of our four children and their spouses. On each of their laps sat a firstborn son. I reveled at the amazing beauty of this moment/ Could life ever feel better than this?
Then suddenly a surprise. It was announced that the musical interlude would be performed by the Anderson siblings, soon on the stand we heard our children sing together for the first time in many years. Jeremy on bass, Samuel tenor, Rebecca sang the melody with Caitlin on the soprano descant. I was overcome with emotion.
To paraphrase Elder Neal Maxwell, "If moments are the molecules that make up eternity, this was a macro-molecule."
Is there a happier man than me? I think not. To be present at such gatherings, to return to work full time, to see my grandchildren born and develop. To have a new heart for six year that remains free of amyloid deposits, the wake up and fall asleep next to my true love and eternal companion everyday is more than I could have dreamed of a few short years ago.

My Goal: Make as many new and lasting memories as possible
My Plan: Stay alive
My Hope: Increase in integrity and compassion in all that I do, like my Grandpa Anderson


Kent and Seth



Jamison and Luke

Four Generation (Mitochondrial line)

Michele, Luke and Samuel

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New experiences

Some people are thrill seekers. They are into extreme sports so they can get that "adrenaline rush". Yet, there is a certain sense that in taking risks you feel truly alive. I  love to experience new things because it allows me to see the world from a different perspective. Ah, yes, the "per" words perspective and perception. These vernacularian twins represent vision divided by reality. What wise soul would not want to increase their perspective, thus allowing them to see the world from different angles, viewpoints, the other side to every story. Since perception is reality, at least at the individual level, the inherent value of fine-tuning our perception through the summation of its angles is immense. Perspective augments perception.
Some new experiences require us to step outside of our comfort zone: Trying Thai food for the first time, riding a mule down the Grand Canyon, speaking at a press conference with the Speaker of the California State Assembly. Just jump in, the waters fine.
Today Barbie and I spent the day at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. April is Donate Life Month and Donate Life California, of which I am a volunteer ambassador, was tasked to spend two days working as advocates (the non-profit word for lobbyists,) to encourage state senators and assembly members to vote for AB2399 which would facilitate simpler e-registration for organ donation. Barbie and I had no idea that this meant meeting with legislators and their staffers. In one office we met Sen. Berryhill who had a heart transplant 13 years ago. We shared an emotional moment as we remembered the gift and sacrifice of our donors.
Finally, at the press conference, it was my turn to speak after the Speaker, Sen Perez (the bill's author). I was told that I had 2 1/2 minutes (oddly reminiscent of junior Sunday School 50 years ago.) Various disparate ideas coalesced into one of the most coherent messages that I have ever given. Even my laryngitis was momentarily transformed into a steady low bass. In essence I shared that the depth of gratitude that we as organ recipients share is beyond preparation. It wells up from the innermost core of our souls and remains a daily reminder of our indebtedness to the kindness of compassionate strangers.
As I finished, the leaders at Donate Life California felt that I had properly shared their vision and their message.
I have never experienced, first hand, the inner working of politics. I have new perspective which can now, hopefully, fine tune my perception.

Are you an organ donor?


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Eat Better in 2014

"Eat Better in 2014" Catchy title. But this is not a blog on the virtues of vegan existence or grazing on crudites. It is about eating stuff that tastes better. And we all know what makes things taste better: FAT.
For Christmas I asked for an A&W Root Beer mug set. (nothing's better than drinking root beer from a frosty mug.) and a Presto Fry Daddy deep fat fryer. Barbie bought the upgraded version with a lid and a basket (still under $25.00). Everyday during the Christmas break my son-in-law, Ben, would ask with child-like exuberance, "What can we fry today?!" We did sweet potato fries with a horseradish fry sauce, corn-dogs, green beans a la tempura (healthy crudites) and even deep fried Oreo cookies.
Finally the day came when I had to attempt the coup de gras, double fried French Fries or, as we call them here in Southern Placer county, 'Lincoln Frites'.*
For the record, I used many organic ingredients, even the plastic lid on the fryer and the extension cord were organic, albeit if your definition of organic refers to items composed of carbon-based molecules. Were synthetic fertilizers used on my potatoes or peanut oil? Actually, I do not know; nor do I care.
I began by squaring off three Yukon Gold potatoes and cut them into 3/8" rods using a fry cutter called 'a sharp knife'. (The choice of Yukon Gold was arrived at when I opened the pantry and found some left over potatoes from Christmas Eve.) These were washed in ice cold water until clear and transferred to the fridge.
Now these fries cannot be confused with Fast Food because it took over 10 minutes to heat the peanut oil to 325 degrees. I the cooked the fries for about five minutes until the outsides were barely crisping and the insides barely translucent.

Upon holding the fry, it was limp. (let it cool first.) These are then place aside in a bowl.

The oil is then heated to at 375 degrees.

The first batch I under-cooked because they mistakenly looked more golden brown in the fryer. The second batch I cooked for about four minutes and they were perfect; and I'm talking Celestial perfection.
The fries are then drained on a deconstructed paper bag. The indigenous peoples of the Altiplano near lake Titicaca in Bolivia have been draining on paper bags for centuries as this is known to remove all of the oil from the potato thus rendering the fries 'fat free'.** (or is it un-rendering?) After a light dusting from your salt pig, you eat. These can be perfectly paired with nothing, or not nothing.
They are great at work parties, weddings, divorces, Bar Mitzvahs (substitute Kosher salt) and  in your RV while travelling to New York. (just set the fryer to 375 and the vehicle to cruise control. (even better with Burgundy sauce))
The extra raw cut potatoes can be stored in water and fried up in the morning for breakfast.

Eat Better through more expensive oils with high smoke points

Eat Better with creative sauces all based on more fat

Eat Better with batter

Eat Better by calling your mayonnaise "aioli"

Better Eat quick, your fries are getting cold.


* Now Gluten Free for people who don't actually have celiac sprue, but feel better when they don't eat gluten.
**FDA disavows this claim as unsubstantiated.