Friday, December 23, 2011

The Boyack's Annual Report - 2011 (Pictures will be added)

Time Warp

2011 was another in the series of incrementally shorter and faster years here at the Boyack house. You remember when we were kids, and a parent would tell us about something that would happen next year? It seemed so impossibly far into the future that it was as if we were being told it will NEVER happen! Time didn’t exist, or it was measured so sparingly into our lives that past and future simply fables from another universe visited only by adults.

Well, I live in the inverse of that reality today. These days as I ponder the events coming over the next few years I feel like I’m in a B-movie runaway train hurtling down the tracks through all of life’s big adventures without any opportunity to prepare for the bumps or savor the taste of accomplishment before the next cliff-dangling stretch approaches.

Hyperbole, of course. And even if it were meant literally, I’ll confess that I try to pause while running atop the cars (chasing the bad guys away) to take in the beautiful scenery – the sunlit meadows of children playing; the dignified mountain majesty of the well-lived lives that surround me; the bubbling streams of life and personality passing from generation to generation.

So this letter is one of those pausing moments – a chance to smell the fall, mountain air and give thanks. And in those moments, I quickly count myself blessed – far beyond anything I deserve.

On the one hand, I am middle-aged, balding and overweight. What I can do for myself I do very slowly - I am often lazy and frequently confused; I am impatient and inconsiderate, distracted and diluted. And yet . . .

In spite of myself, I have been blessed with the most amazing family, with treasured friends, with peace and with security. Those gifts I attribute singly to the goodness of God, and I love Him . . . for He first loved me. As I approach yet another holiday season, I give thanks for His kindness and the joys of life that I find in family and friends.

Family Memories

Lilly’s Baptism. Lilly reached the ripe old age of 8 this year, and was baptized in May. Both sets of grandparents were able to come and that helped make it a very special family day. Having so many family and friends around was a special treat for Lilly and all of us. Lilly is the caboose, and growing up too, too fast. She is already old enough to occasionally revert to her childhood; twisting into the seat of the shopping cart or high chair; sitting in my lap when I’m surfing politics working at the computer.

The Wedding. Kimber and Ray were married in the Portland Temple March 18, to the shock and surprise of . . . absolutely no one. This day was sacred, and happy, and fun, with family and friends coming from near and far to make the celebration something really special. Chad and his friends played some great music; Hannah decorated wedding cupcakes – hand-made candy flowers on each one; We ran a slide show of childhood photos; We sang happy birthday to my dad – it was his 80th! My favorite moment was when Wendy read a story Kimber wrote at age 7 . . . in which she is a princess, saved from a ghost . . . by none other than Raymond. If ever anyone’s childhood romantic fantasy came true, Kimber’s did. I wonder who would be the frightening adversary . . . wait – it couldn’t be . . . I’m more of a bog monster than a ghost.

I’m sure I speak for many fathers-of-the-bride when I say that this day was as terrifying as it was beautiful. I have been her protector since the day she came so tiny and tentatively into this world. Having a daughter leave home can’t be too different than watching her jump out of an airplane . . . the time for preparation is over. Did I say everything I should have said? What if . . . ? I wonder . . . ? Sigh.

But gladly, whenever I need to feel protective, she and Ray are less than a mile away. And more importantly, she has a much better protector in Ray than I ever was. Now I’m trying to pick up some pointers. Ray has a lot more to offer than just long arms!

Sandcastle Camping. The Jessops are serious competitors in the sandcastle competition at Seaside. McKay, Chad and Hannah were participants on their team. We camped at Nahelem Bay with our new (to us) pop-up trailer. We stayed true to our timeless tradition of performing mechanical repairs on the vehicle while on vacation. The camp host lent me some tools.

Staying dry on the Oregon Coast in June is a tricky proposition, but we did manage to have three nice camping days before getting soaked on the morning of the competition. While the kids were over at the beach trying to form delicate sand shapes with shivering hands, Wendy, Kimber and I were trying to get the trailer to “pop” down. We went up and down, up and down, forever, but it wouldn’t latch. I was nothing if not persistent, and we got it figured out and got to the competition just after it ended and the participants all went running for cover.

Visits to Gma’s house. We got up to Bend to visit Grandma and Grandpa Mabee for a few days in July. This is where Chad and Grandma composed the now famous ballad, “Jack Is A Very Good Dog,” and the effect of the biochemical processes of canine digestion on German athletic socks was finally set to music.

Visit to Idaho. McKay, Chad and I went out to Meridian for MacRorie Hewitt’s mission farewell and had a wonderful but short visit.

EFY, Trek, Girls Camp.  Chad and McKay went up to Forest Grove to attend EFY. McKay was the Queen of meeting new friends. Chad participated in the talent show. This year Hannah and McKay went on the church youth trek, where they dressed up like pioneers and pushed handcarts along dirt roads in the forest for 3 days. Hannah hurt her foot and limped all the way home. The girls also attended girls camp.

They Sing! They Dance! They Paint! Last year at this time, Central High School and the community were presenting “Ebenezer” on the new stage at the school. Wendy had been helping with the technical side of the school’s productions for years, but now, with the new theater, she has become the resident expert of the extensive technical systems. Most of us helped on Ebenezer, and since then, working on a show at the high school seems to have become our default family activity. Whether it’s on-stage or off, you’re going to find a Boyack at nearly every single event at the high school auditorium these days. Running the light board or sound or spotlight, or setting up the concert shell or painting a set, or singing in a choir concert or playing a role on stage.

In the last 12 months Wendy has designed the amazing Messina Farmhouse (Much Ado about Nothing) and Mushnick Flower Shop (Little Shop of Horrors), along with Audrey Hepburn’s basement apartment (Wait Until Dark), which, despite the famous name, will never get rented out again. We tore it down after JennieLinn Jessop was nearly murdered four nights in a row. Wendy was the assistant director in the Pentacle (community) Theater production of Brigadoon, and the director for the CHS production of Wait until Dark. Hannah had a chorus part in Brigadoon and McKay was a rockin’ Doo-Wap girl in Little Shop of Horrors. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it (too much already), but MY KIDS CAN SING!

This month we had the dance recital, and also had our hands in the “Night in Bethlehem” Christmas Nativity. This is a live nativity out in Salem that has baby Jesus, Mary & Joseph, and the Wise Guys, along with a camel, Old Testament prophets, singing livestock and assorted angels. Wendy’s job is lighting, and I am her lovely assistant.

Now we are on to our next visually stunning project… the set for Cinderella in which Hannah also plays a mouse/horse to be performed in February.

The County unFair. Chad accompanied Hannah with his arrangement of Jar of Hearts at the Polk county Fair. McKay performed a humorous song called Joey is a Punk Rocker. They were fantastic! Unfortunately, all the top prizes went to some people outside our county, despite making the top 10. They were winners to us!

The Brood

Lillian (8)

“Miss Lil” has had a busy year. She got to spend a week at Grandma Mabee’s with her Cousin Kylie and her sisters. She even got to visit Crater Lake – something I haven’t done yet. She had a week-long visit from her friend Leah. Lilly doesn’t stop singing or dancing. She loves to plan Family Home Evening, Activity Days, Tap class, and playing with her friends. She was a little distressed with the news that she would be an Aunt before she turned 9. She has gotten used to the idea. She felt the baby kick the other day and is now looking forward to being the chief babysitter.

Hannah (13)

Hannah is growing into quite the young lady. Year in brief: Less cake decorating, more singing. Hannah continues to develop amazing talents. She sang a solo at her Jr. High school concert last spring which brought down the house. I never tired of hearing her sing it . . . until that song became popular on the radio, at which time we had all had enough. She has also been learning technical theater from her mom and is considering pursuing musical theater in her (still far off) college education. She is persistent in studying piano . . .

Chad (16)

Chad played rugby, football, and the ukulele this year. He and I had three outings to watch the OSU Beavers get beat, but the beavers actually pulled off a win once – you never can tell. My memories of Chad this year include midnight serenades, learning to drive stick shift, big hair, late night homework, “the gallon challenge”, and the McDank. Chad is becoming extremely quick with one-liners, and regularly makes me laugh. If he had written this letter, you would be laughing right now. There’s always next year!

McKay (18)

McKay started the year as a Doo-Wap girl, and ends the year as a Jamba Juice girl. She sang in choirs and concerts for the last time. She has completed her high school/home school education and her GED. She had one of the highest scores ever to go through the program. She’s working for a few more months before she begins classes at the Oregon School of Massage. She went to her last year of girls’ camp. She worked over the summer as a sound tech for the City of Independence. She is the favorite “family taxi driver” and saves her mom countless hours!

Kimber and Ray

K & R Honeymooned on the ski slopes in Idaho back in March. Kimber has continued teaching at the Dance & Music Studio until December at which time she gave notice (she is planning on beginning her career as a stay-at-home mom), and Ray now works for an electronics assembler in Corvallis. School is on hold at the moment as they prepare for their bouncing baby boy, coming in February! Thankfully, they live around the corner so we can still spoil them.


Wendy is the brains of the operation, on stage as well as at home. In addition to all, Wendy still teaches Seminary… teaches home school… is a vocal coach… writes a blog… works in the garden… and has started working out at Curves again. She also has become the unwilling leader of a pack of dogs. All the dogs in the house follow her around… even to the bathroom. She hates it but I think it’s cute. She works circles around most of us and still has a smile on her face… most days. It has also been determined that Wendy is now responsible for buying all cars in the future. You should see the cute little race car she lets me drive.

And as for me . . . What a year!

This has to be one of the most unusual years I have ever had. This was my first full year at my new job. I’m enjoying my job, my chickens, and mowing the lawn. I cleaned “my side” of the garage this year.

By courage or witlessness, I found myself the chief petitioner of a recall campaign for a school board member. This is strictly small-town politics, but was plenty of drama for me. I helped a small group of people make things uncomfortable for the school district leadership, and in the process faced some slings and arrows myself. As reward for my heroism – or punishment for my crimes – I am now a member of the school board, replacing the member that was recalled. We were the Rebel Alliance, but now I have gone to the Dark Side.

So there you have it – the traditional update of the crazy life at the Boyack house. My punctuality (funny word to say about me) has altogether failed when it comes to the annual Christmas letter. It may be better to keep up by following us on Facebook, texting, blogs, or phone calls. But we can’t break with tradition, can we?

We love you all and hope to do better at keeping in touch. Mostly, we love the reason to celebrate this Christmas season: the Savior, Jesus Christ. He lives! He is the way!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Racecar Driver

Today I'm thankful for my car.  I think it's been almost 2 months since I had a broken down car in my driveway.  The process of finding a third working vehicle for our family was long and painful.  Ultimately I abandoned the "cheapest wheels available" approach because it seemed to end up costing more than buying a car that was actually reliable.

The car we most recently bought ended up being for me to drive, instead of for my daughter McKay.  Reason being - it's a two door, not a four door.  So poor Dad has to drive the cherry-red coupe with sunroof and the really cool wind spoiler on the trunk.

Actually, the best part about it is that Wendy picked it out.  The previous three cars were bought by me - rather impulsively - and lasted an average of 2 months each.

So knock on wood - I'm thankful for functioning vehicles! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thankful Month - Day 3

Today I'm thankful for my job.  It's a good job.  How good?  Pretty good.  Not my dream job, but definitely not bad.  I have had bad jobs, and good jobs with difficult situations that lasted forever.  This job has had its difficult situations, but they have been temporary.  I have a good boss and good co-workers, a relatively short commute, and interesting work to do.

So what's my dream job?  I probably shouldn't say, but I'll just tell you that if I had my dream job I would only need a recliner, a TV, and a remote - and I wouldn't have the income to buy them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sawing Logs

Thankful #2.

I'm thankful for eight hours to sleep, and for the latex mattress where I get to spend them.

Nighty Night,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful Month - Day 1 - My Dear Wendy

I'm playing catch-up, because I didn't think of it until I was chatting with Wendy just now.  Lots of people are writing "a thankful a day" on Facebook, or elsewhere, for the month of November.  I was just saying to Wendy that I need a hobby for days like today.  The sad truth about me is that I have not learned to manage the minutes between the minutes.  I let valuable time go to waste because I tell myself that the time available - until the next scheduled activity - is too short to make good use of it.  It takes me a few minutes to "get into" any activity, and so I let all kinds of time go to waste - reading useless news, or eating, etc.

So Wendy suggested that I meet her challenge of thankfulness.  That is obviously a good way to pass the time.  So it was easy to choose the first object of my thankfulness: My dear wife Wendy.

Wendy is a great blessing to me.  I have grown a lot from learning from her.  I try to follow her example in a few key ways. 

She is faithful to our family.  She is acutely aware of and interested in each of our children.  She creates activities that become family fun, and she encourages me to take each of the kids for one on one time.  I came with very little fatherly intuition, other than family scriptures and prayer.  Wendy has taught me everything else, and I am a completely different man, a much more faithful priesthood leader, because of her example and counsel.

She is an example of dilligence in any endeavor.  Whethere it is arriving 30 minutes early for church, spending countless hours preparing for Seminary or volunteering at the high school, or crocheting blankets for newborn babies in our ward or writing birthday cards to the relief-society sisters, she is the greatest example of diligence I know of.  I still can't hold a candle to all the work she does or how effectively she does it, but I try harder because I have seen how much can actually be done.

She is an example of revelation.  She is an example of personal service.  She is an example in her free expression of creative energy in the arts she loves.
She is also incredibly patient with me.  I won't say that patience is her strong point :^), but you don't know what I put her through on a daily basis, and I can tell you she has developed a great level of patience when it comes to me!  I am very blessed by her love, affection, and understanding.  She has given me the incentive to try (try, try, try) to live a celestial life, so that I can spend eternity with her.

So there ya go.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Tails of Two White Shirts

Today I wore two white shirts to church. Usually on Sundays I’m a by-the-book LDS attire kind of guy, but today I had a problem. My shirt inventory isn’t what it used to be. I had a choice: a bright, white, long-sleeved shirt with good cloth – and no collar – or a short-sleeved shirt which was very thin to the point of being a little . . . what’s the right word . . . immodest? . . . risqué? . . . Nauseating?

This problem wasn’t that hard to solve: I wore both!

The collared shirt over the non-collared shirt. With the jacket on, no one would see the obviously mismatched sleeves. I thought it was perfect. No one noticed it in church and it wasn’t discovered until halfway through dinner at home, at which point I was ridiculed. Alas, people mock what they do not understand. My kids have got to stop underestimating my problem-solving skills.

Today, two shirts: yesterday, zero. So it averages out.

Yesterday was a glorious day with the baptism of Lillian, our youngest. She had both sets of grandparents here, and we had an all around good day. Baptisms are priesthood ordinances and spiritual events, but there are some practical aspects you have to plan for in order to avoid distractions – specifically, dry clothing to change into.

About an hour before the meeting I suddenly remembered that Lillian would need dry clothing. I commanded Wendy to see to it, and Lillian was soon dressed in a beautiful dress and carrying an extra pair of undies and a towel in her bag (the church would supply the baptism suit itself, so that’s about all she needed).

A while later, it occurred to me, as they guy performing the baptism, I am going to get wet too! I decided to solve that problem immediately before I forgot. I already had a bag with my white pants in it – I added clean undies and a towel, and I was set.

But not fully.

After the baptism I left the font and headed into the men’s dressing room. I had staged all my things and was ready to get into dry clothing and back to the meeting. One little problem: I only had one white shirt – no, one shirt of any color – and I had just worn it into and out of the baptism font. Yes, it was my good one, but it was wet up to my chest.

Would anyone notice? Would it create additional problems, like a wet streak down my pants? I pondered. Meanwhile Lillian is probably just about done over in the ladies room because she has about half the number of articles of clothing to put on, plus at least two women helping her. Hey! What about me? I’m helpless! Standing here dripping, trying to decide whether to drip my way to the Relief Society room for the reminder of the meeting, or what!

Since we live only a couple of doors from the church, I could have someone bring me a shirt without delaying the meeting much – but how could I get anyone’s attention? They’re all down the hall singing hymns, anxiously awaiting my return.

Duh, John – this is the 21st century, and I have TWO cell phones right here in the locker room with me. OK, OK! Who do I want to help me, and who should I text?

My daughter McKay always has her phone – she’s a safe bet. Now, who can come into the men’s room, and would be the fastest getting to my house and back? That’s probably my brother-in-law Paul. He’s fit and can jog to and from the vehicle or skip driving and just run all the way to my house. Got a plan! I texted McKay: “help send paul to bathroom”

In the meeting room, McKay reads her text, raises one eyebrow, stands and crosses the room to where Paul is, and tells him, “My dad needs you in the bathroom.” Now they each have one eyebrow raised. Paul goes out of the room and passes Wendy in hallway, who had just sent Lillian into the room and was chatting with her friend Shar. “Where are you going?” says Wendy.

“Your husband needs help in the potty.”

Two more eyebrows.

Paul enters the men’s room. “Johnnie, what do you need?”

I tell Paul my problem and my plan. Paul makes a counter proposal: “why don’t you just wear my shirt?”

“But then what are you going to wear?”

I’ll just zip up my sweater to the top and no one will know!

So right then and there Paul gives me the shirt off his back. I get dressed in my suit and head out and down the hall. Now the thing is, Paul is six inches taller than me, so the shirt sleeves are hanging well below the jacket. Wendy and Shar are waiting outside the room, laughing with/at me, and we all go in and sit down.

After the meeting, Paul waits patiently as we take pictures and we get home and I help my parents into the house, before I return his shirt to him.

Now if I had just kept it one more day I wouldn’t have had to wear two shirts today!

I just don’t think ahead enough, do I? I suppose if I did, I would have washed, or at least dried, my own good shirt!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Accidental Activist

Last September I did a foolish thing.  Having never attended a school board meeting before, I went with a burr under my saddle and I filled out a comment card and held onto my prepared speech with sweaty hands.  I had just become aware of some big and weird problems in the school district, and, too dumb to know it wouldn't help, I addressed the school board as a disgruntled taxpayer. 

I rode the ragged edge of the rules and complained about a specific employee before they realized what was happening.  I got hearty applause from an unhappy bunch of teachers looking for a hero.  I also got a very clear view of what they were unhappy about.  As I wrote then, at least some of the problems became very clear to me.

Over the next month I lost considerable sleep wondering if I was about to be sued and my family would lose our house.  I was sure that I should not have become involved.  At the same time, my sense of indignation was rising, and I just couldn't justify remaining silent.

My speech may have been a litte ill-advised (I would not have lost that sleep if I had bought liability insurance for $20 / year BEFORE making that speech instead of after), but it helped bring like-minded people together to actively engage in the cause.

But over a couple of months, things settled down. I began to miss a few board meetings and write less frequently, and even miss a couple of meetings with my rebel friends.  (Before there was Citizens for 13J Excellence I called our group the Rebel Alliance).

And then there was the 2 page complaint.  We started working on that last fall.  And then even while that was in process, in January Kathleen Stanley decided not to pass GO but to go immediately to a recall election.  I decided to grace them with my presence at the organization meeting, and was asked to conduct the meeting.  And then the big surprise: during the meeting I was nominated to be the chief petitioner on the recall petition drive.

And that's how I became the mascott for the recall, and for Citizens for 13J Excellence.  Sure - I'm on the steering committee, and as the chief petitioner my name actually appears on all the legal forms and on the ballot.  Kinda cool.  But really, I was the mascott - not the brains or the brawn.  I'm John Q Public, ticked off and enthusiastic.  Ready to go for blood without knowing what to do or how to do it.

With the help of friends and other volunteers, it got easier and better over time.  We got the job done, and sit here tonight having achieved victory.  The superintendent has resigned, and the chairwoman has been recalled by the voters.

The superintendent resigned last week with a payout because of a serious complaint filed by three female district employees.  A threatening and harrassing work environment made their lives miserable for years.  Without that complaint, it was going to be quite a challenge to get rid of the superintendent, even with a new school board.

So tonight, one of those complainants told me that without the background push of Citizens for 13J Excellence submitting complaints and filing for recall, she and her compatriots would not have had the confidence needed to stick their necks out and make that formal complaint.

And likewise, the teachers union, seeing there was movement afoot, was in the process of submitting a vote of no-confidence when the resignation occurred.  As it turned out, he was gone and the vote wasn't needed, but it could easily have been needed, and it would have been a very powerful tool toward getting rid of him or at least in limiting the damage he could do for the remaining 2 years of his contract.

So what I'm saying here is that because the public got involved in a highly visible way (Kathleen's Blog being the main pillar of that), the teachers and administrators were able to speak up and state the problems clearly for everyone to hear.  The felt we had their backs, and, as much as it is possible, we did.

Without us, this would have been much more difficult and painful for them than it already was, and so much more prolonged.

So now, as I look back at all those times when I wish I hadn't got involved, or when I seriously debated wither to continue, because of the great sacrifice it was to my time, I thank the Lord that he put me in this situation and gave me the power to help these people who were in need.  I didn't do much, but I was a figurehead.  I was a body in the community, and I cared enough to help.  That meant something to those who were in the trenches.  I am so glad I never quit.

I am glad this happened.  I could never have predicted that a mere eight months after that fateful speech, the district leadership has been removed due to the swift and vocal actions of an insignificant community group.  I would never have guessed that I would meet such wonderful people make good friends.  I worked with people whose tremendous sacrifice and commitment to education made big things happen.

Was it worth the trouble?  Absolutely!

Friday, April 1, 2011

This is me posting on my blog . . .

I accept that this post will not be perfect.  It will not be funny and will likely not be intetesting.  But it could just be THE post that restarts my writing habit. 

What could I write about?

How about that guy Rob that stayed at the Mabees when we lived there, and the manly way I confronted his deceipt.  Or how about the list of offenses the exiled chicken has committed, and that in spite of her guilt I can't get the jury to go along with the death sentence.  There are all kinds of great things happening with my kids - and of course with my parenting.  Did you know we have to wipe the dogs feet for them when they come in from the back yard?  But the kids? . . . We keep asking.

Our $500 car is worth zero right now and we're feeling betrayed.  Our luck usually goes so much better than that . . . NOT.  I'm taking a project management class - actually it's a study group for taking the Project Management Professional certification exam.  But I'm dividing my notes into two groups: project management and test taking.  I'm actully really good at test taking.  That explains how I got through college, but this will be more challenging than most multiple choice tests I took in college.  Except Business Law. That stunk.  Have I ever confessed/explained how I really got thru college?

How about my wedding story?  Wendy wrote down the story of our courtship within a couple of months of our marriage, but I haven't done that yet.  I really should.  My memories of that time of my life are unfaded.  But I don't know what happened ten seconds ago.  I think I really do suffer from short-term memory loss or ADD or both.  It makes life very interesting, and allows me to think very creatively, and solve problems well.  What I'm thinking about at any given moment is not likely to be connected with what is going on around me at all, and not likely to stay on the same topic for more than 15 seconds.  Creative opportunities.

I could write about the lessons I've learned in my political experiences over the last six months.  The bicycle shed?  My new slum-lord retirement plan.  MUD.  The concrete sidewalk that isn't.  The whistle I stole when I was five.  (sorry Joe).  How about snow caving?   Hiking, fishing and other activities I wish I were doing.

I could write forever about my jobs, but it wouldn't be enjoyable for you or me.  The task list in my notebook includes pending transactions, an HR profile, iProcuremnet documentation, commitment to change in the PPMC area, testing the database upgrade and a patch, MSDS attachments, a view for Mr Stapleton, MD50 documentation and reimbursements.  Told you.

How about working in Japan?  I did that for seven months after my mission.  Made something like $11K but I don't even know where half of it went.  It would have been worse if I hadn't been budgeting.  In Okinawa as a missionary, we once walked through a very poor farm village.  A kid saw me and ran, screaming, "OKaasan!! Hen na ningen!  Hen na ningen!!" (Mom! A weird human!!).  This was Miyako island, actually.  I was one of two white guys on the island.  My companion was Japanese.

If this list isn't proof of a mental disorder, I don't know what is.   But, on the other hand, disorder or not, it's fodder for a lot of good blogging!

See ya!