Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Legend of the Pink Comb

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."  Laura Ingalls Wilder

Family readying for Skype and phone connections
to Pensacola and Puerto Rico.

Becky listening and waiting for her turn
to read her Family from Yosemite story.
For some years now we've been writing family stories as our Christmas gifts to the family.  This year we presented them on Christmas Eve with hook ups to Florida and Puerto Rico to include everyone. I've only posted my stories on my blog.  Here are my past entries:

Christmas 2008 - Maybe We're Just an Ugly Family
Christmas 2009 - My Temple! My Temple! It's My Temple!
Christmas 2010 - Freeways and Parking Lots

Here's my story for this year - The Family From Yosemite 2011

The Legend of the Pink Comb
by Martha Reynders Blair

You wouldn’t think the words “legend” and “pink comb” could be in the same sentence, but when you’re talking about the Family from Yosemite such oddities do exist. Let me give a little history so you can understand how this came about.

Everyone has hair, so combing is a way of life and I expected my home with all its hair would be like my mother’s and her mother before her. Both my mother and grandmother had a container filled with combs. My mother had a blue and white crock and my grandmother had a circular green glass vase. I remember looking in these containers as a child, my eyes examining each comb. I was like a kid in a candy store anticipating the sugar high. I took some delight in eyeing each comb with all the protruding shapes, varied colors, sizes, and styles readying myself for a coifing experience.

In my selecting, I soon learned that not all combs are created equal. My grandmother with her instinct to save because of the Depression and my mother with her “year supply” mentality had lots of useless combs in their collection. For example, those cheapy combs you’d get on picture day at school; always good for one swipe through the hair before your photo was snapped and not good for anything else. Even so, there were plenty of good ones too. Just like candy, I had my favorites. No matter what my combing experience would bring, I always enjoyed picking out my comb. It was a daily ritual I delighted in.

Then I got married. Things started out fine. We had one black comb. It had its place and we were good to take turns, but then more were added to our family, seven to be exact, that meant more heads with hair to comb. Even then there weren’t issues for awhile because I used baby combs on baby heads, but eventually baby hair turns to big kid hair and that’s when the dilemma ensued.

With lots of children to get ready in the morning and the pressure of getting children off to school or ready for church in a timely manner, I would make my frantic attempt at getting heads combed and out the door. The comb would not end up in the designated spot in the drawer of our bathroom, but would be found in the kitchen, the kid‘s bathroom, or even the floor. Consequently, Hughie would be dismayed in the morning because it would put a kink in his orderly routine.

Now I must reference here that Hughie is particularly neat following the old adage “a place for everything and everything in its place.” The prophet, Brigham Young, had used this terminology. Hugh would like to claim he was simply keeping the commandment. He unfortunately would become very disturbed by the comb not being in its assigned spot. We soon realized or I should say we have all made our own diagnosis, that Hughie is a closet OCD person - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The comb, its place, etc. was all a major concern.

In order for me to deal with the situation of lots of heads and one comb, my childhood memory came back like a vision. That delightful experience of picking out a comb in a container filled with combs. Surely this will make the situation better. Daddy will have a comb. Children will have combs. Everyone will have a happy combing experience.

I pulled out a circular green vase collecting dust in a cupboard. I believe it was the original comb vase of my grandmother. I bought a few bags of combs and made an arrangement, almost like flowers. I figured we were good to go - no more problems, but my plan was foiled one morning when Hughie said he couldn’t find his comb. Ugh! “Comb Shmomb,” I thought, “This shouldn’t be a problem.”

I picked up the green jar of combs and said, “Here pick one.”

But Hughie was aghast, “These aren’t any good. These are icky combs.”

“What do you mean, icky? There should be a nice comb in here somewhere! I just bought them.”

I gingerly pulled an acceptable specimen from the green glass and handed it to him. Hugh took it, looked at it, and stroked it through his hair a few times, but his face showed his obvious disapproval.

“What’s the matter with it?” I said.

“It scratches my head!” he countered.

I grabbed the comb and put it through my hair for my own test. I admitted it didn’t feel as nice as his usual comb, but certainly he could live with it. “What’s the big deal?!” I said.

Again with disgust, “It scratches my head!”

“So!!!” was my reply.


Well, the hunt was on. In spite of our search, we couldn’t find Hughie’s comb. I started buying more and more combs with the attempt to find a really good comb. Nothing in a multi-pack would do. All individually wrapped combs were the only consideration for suitable testing. Hughie was some kind of comb aficionado. His sampling and opinion were the only one that held any weight, as we combed through the combs.

He knew exactly what he was looking for. I was amazed at what I thought was a somewhat pleasant lifetime of combing only to find that I was way to easily satisfied. Whatever! In spite of my attempts to purchase a suitable comb, Hughie was always dissatisfied.

One morning as he was grumbling once again about using some misfit of a comb, I tried to appease his anguish by providing some hope, “Maybe the comb you liked didn’t start out so comfortable. Maybe it’s like a favorite pair of old shoes that has been worn down over time and become even more comfortable with age.”

“That’s not it!” he clamored back in despair.

The quest continued, but finally, we found one that he liked. There was no doubt and he stroked his hair time and time again with the utmost pleasure. He knew he‘d arrived with - THE PINK COMB.

Unfortunately, my group of combs arranged in a vase for the picking was not satisfying to anyone in the family, including me; I had to admit the pink comb was better. Daddy’s previous comb had spoiled all our heads. All others combs were not an option, so in spite of the extra combs in the green vase, the pink comb became coveted. And regrettably, it did not maintain its important spot in Daddy’s drawer. Everyone used it and everyday Hughie had to hunt it down always starting his morning with frustration, but then he would instantly calm as his head was caressed by the pink comb’s magic.

This situation went on for many years. The pink comb began to wear. Even though a tine or two became missing, it still maintained its appeal in spite of its dilapidated appearance. After many years of use and abuse, one morning Hugh went on his usual pursuit to find the pink comb. His frustration could not be appeased by the smooth stroke of the pink comb because the pink comb was missing. I mean, really missing! It couldn’t be found. Again, dare I say, Hughie “combed” the house up and down and all around in his hunt for the pink comb. Through this investigation we would hear a periodic scream of despair, “Where’s the PINK COMB?!!!”

We were all eventually brought into the search; the mystery had to be solved. Like Sherlock Holmes we theorized, “Could it have fallen in the trash can? Taken in the car in a mad dash to some event, combing as we drove?” We searched, but nothing. “Maybe it was left somewhere on a family trip and extended family was now in possession of it?” We didn’t know what had happened to it. The mystery was constantly discussed.

I started buying combs in an attempt to replace it, but to no avail. Its replacement was futile. Nothing seemed compatible to the old pink comb. It was like a depression came over us. We couldn’t start our day with the once therapeutic mojo that would envelop our heads with comfort. Instead, we left the house with scowls on our faces knowing full well from where our comfort had once come. No other comb seemed to satisfy. Eventually, we went our separate ways with our own dissatisfying combs. The pink comb had been so amazing. It was an end of an era in combdom.

I wondered if other families had experienced such a thing. Certainly it had been something unique to our own home. We never found the pink comb or a satisfactory replacement. It was just another chapter in the saga of the Family from Yosemite.

Then, one day, years later, I was at the Ferguson’s for a reason I can‘t remember. Anyway, I was sitting on a wooden swivel chair at the kitchen counter in their family room waiting to speak to Linda, the mom. They had the usual expected hubbub going on about the house with their large family of nine children.

From across the room, I could see and hear Bruce, the dad, and one of the older boys in the doorway of the hallway in front of me. They were grunting and groaning as they tried to maneuver a bookcase. They were in the process of moving it to a different location in the house. What surprised me as they lifted the bookcase off the ground and then forward a few feet, one shouted in disgust, “THE RED COMB!”

“WHAT!?” another family member’s outcry was heard in the house with the grave feeling of disbelief.

Under the pressure of the load in hand one of the guys quickly kicked the red comb out so it could be easily retrieved. There was a sense of dismay when he shouted, “THE RED COMB!” You could feel it, their home was filed with a sigh of relief and yet some anxiety too over the needless suffering their heads had been through, like they too had been paying some kind of price by not having it readily available to soothe eleven bed heads every morning. Me, I was surprised all right, but I also had a sense of satisfaction in knowing we weren’t alone in our quandary of combdom.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Love is
the way of
the disciple.

I'm not going to be writing about my lessons every week.  I can't keep up with it, but I will share something once in awhile.  A couple of weeks ago during Sunday School our lesson was on the love of God.  His love teaches us to love.  That's what life is really all about:  "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)  God loved us so he sent His Son.  He wants us to return to him and if we love him, we will.    The red quotes come from Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Love of God. (October 2009, general conference)

I posted this little video on facebook earlier this month, but I wanted to share it here too:

The divine love of God
ordinary acts
extraordinary service.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Year - The Same Ol' Same Ol'

"I've been on a constant diet
for the last two decades.
I've lost a total of 789 pounds.
By all accounts,
I should be hanging
from a charm bracelet."
 Erma Bombeck

I share this quote for two reason.  One, it's past that time of the month again - I've gone another 30-days with a dieting goal in mind. Which I didn't achieve, "no dessert". And number two, in spite of my efforts or I should say, lack thereof - I'm not hanging by a charm bracelet.

Instead of waiting until January, I'm taking today to address my last year resolutions and to announce my new ones for 2012. Pretty much same ol' same ol'. 

2011 GOALS:

1. Include Cassie and her boys once a month for Family Home Evening.

We did this until June and it was then that Cassie moved out of my dad's place and got back together with her husband, Ruben.  We had to take over the care of my father which was all consuming for a good four months.  Even though we had interaction, the shared Family Home Evening didn't happen anymore.  Since then Cassie, Ruben, and the boys have moved to Puerto Rico.  It's only been a few weeks since they left.  We miss them and are praying that all goes well.

2.  Doing a daily kind act, plus looking at what God has done for me everyday - recognizing it, and writing it down - DAILY.

I do kind acts and I recognize what God has done for me, but I didn't write it down everyday.

3.  Lose weight! 

I didn't lose weight.  I gained weight.  UGH!  What a life I lead.  I added the 30-day reporting in recent months thinking it would prompt me to be better, but to no avail.  Anyway, I'm feeling motivated, even surrounded by Christmas goodies.  My blood pressure is up so I'm concerned.  I'm already on it.  I won't be reporting every 30-days though.  If I'm making progress, I'll say something.

New Year Resolution for 2012

1.  Lose Weight

People are so worried
about what they eat
between Christmas and the New Year,
but they really should
be worried about
what they eat between
the New Year and Christmas.
Author Unknown

2.  Be kind - Do daily acts of service.

I want to be kind to everyone
For that is right, you see
So I say to myself, Remember this:
"Kindness begins with me!"
Clara W. McMaster 
(Taught and sung in many of Mrs. Blair's classes.)

3.  Ask - "What has God done
for me and my family today?"

"There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle."
-- Albert Einstein

4.  Write it all down!
“When we deal in generalities, we shall never succeed.
When we deal in specifics, we shall rarely have a failure.
When performance is measured, performance improves.
When performance is measured and reported,
the rate of performance accelerates.”

Thomas S Monson

Hoping to blossom in the

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2012


The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family
all wrapped up in each other.
--Burton Hills--

I'm having a wonderful Christmas for a number of reasons.  Happily I'm not sick, but I admit it's only because I've been on antibiotics for the last three weeks. Yeah!  Anyway, it's good I'm not suffering that way. Also, I don't have pictures to share, but the images are in my mind of family and friends enjoying one another - eating, games, hiking, playing, holding the baby - the list goes on.  I'm happy for these moments.  I wonder if I appreciate it all the more because I'm getting older.  I guess I'm finally getting what life is all about.  I know the Savior with his love and sacrifice has brought me this great joy.  I'm so grateful.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Subbing Plus Life

This semester has been different for me.  Different, because I've been on a number of trips - twice to Arizona, and once to Florida.  And, Hugh and I started working at the Los Angeles Temple once a month.  I always hope to sub for teachers about 8 to 10 days a month and surprisingly, in spite of being gone plus the school vacations, I pretty much have.  Jobs seem to be available when I'm available.  I'm feeling really blessed and grateful.

I've had downtime as of late, but still have been extraordinarily busy.  The motion never stops.  I'm use to that - seven kids, a husband, not to mention everything else in life.  But even then, it seems my doings have been more constant  than ever.  I need to slow down.  I'm getting old and yet, I seem to be keeping up.  I'm always in pursuit of simplifying.  That thinking and action seems to help utilize my time better.  In my mind, simplifying means I get even more done, but with less stress.  It's been  a good semester.  I've enjoyed it.  Looking forward to Christmas.
In teaching you cannot see
the fruit of a day's work.
It is invisible and remains so,
maybe for twenty years.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Puerto Rico or BUST!

Cassie and the boys left last night to join Ruben in Puerto Rico. They had a rough start finding out at the airport that they couldn't bring their two dogs with them. Hugh brought the dogs back to Lancaster for them.  Things got a whole lot easier once the dogs weren't in tow.

The boys are excited to learn Spanish and go to the beach. They thought it was pretty cool knowing that in Puerto Rico they would have both parents surnames.  Guess that's the way they do it there and I'm sure they'll learn a lot more about the culture of their Grandma Raquel Dedman. 

The Dedman Blair Brothers
Joseph, Jeremiah, Dexter, and Ammon
Off to learn about their Puerto Rican heritage

Later . . .

Cassie called this morning to let me know the trip went well.  She mention three specific things in our quick conversation:

1.  The island was so beautiful as they flew into Puerto Rico.

2. Her boys look like all the other children there. She said in amazement, "My boys look like they could have been born here."

3.  Ruben told her, "Prepare yourself for culture shock when we drive downtown."

We're glad they made it and we're all hoping things go well for them on their new adventure living in Puerto Rico.

"Esos Son Otros Veinte Pesos"

This literally means, "that's another twenty dollars." The American alternative would be "that's a whole new ballgame." Puerto Rico will be a whole new ballgame for the Dedman family. Batter-up!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dani Jo's Weekend

Hugh and I took a long weekend visiting  Billy, Chelsea, and their two little girls in Arizona.  We were there for Dani's blessing.  We also saw other friends and family.  It was a very full weekend with great food, relaxation, and spending time with our grandchildren.  We enjoyed ourselves and even had a dramatic moment or two with me slipping in the rain.  Luckily I didn't get hurt.

Later this month, Billy's family will join us for a few days. We're glad to be home and are getting ready for the Christmas holiday.
Precious Baby Girl
Dani Jo Blair
Two months old
Such a good baby!

 What we all came for:
Dani Jo's Blessing
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Chelsea, Dani, Ryan, and Bill
Saturday morning at the Christmas breakfast

Hughie holding Dani at the Christmas breakfast.
She proudly wore a little Christmas outfit.
On her shirt was written,

"Who needs Santa,
I've got grandparents."