Friday, July 31, 2009

Shackup, Shackdown

The Shack is reported on its cover to "have the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good."

No it's not. And I've never read Pilgrim's Progress. It was well-enough written, but that's about it. My book club, the Wasatch Women's Club Page-Turners group voted it a three out of ten. Then we gave it a one-point-five out of five. It's easy to say that several of the group are usually fairly unhappy with books, but this one's "thumbs down" was justified. How did it ever find its way to the New York Times Bestseller list, let alone spot #1?

It started out fine then it took a strange turn. A pretty horrendous crime (the fine part) and then a giant segue into a religious experience the likes of which they only had during the sixties on special medication. Let's not even discuss who gets to represent God. Let's just get on with things.

The story takes place largely in and near the shack where the crime initially took place. Some pretty decent religious doctrinal ideas were presented about the nature of God, but they were presented in the most bizarre and out-of-the-way scenarios ever. It was just too strange -- and that's saying something.

Should you read it? I'd say no unless you'd like a kind of feel-good, contrived religious experience. It won't teach a whole lot to anyone who has been to Church every so often and listened up a bit.

And then if your book club chooses it, I guess you have no choice. But there are better options.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tributing July

The only thing not to like about July is that we are now on the slippery slope down to harvest. Probably one of the most unhappy days for me is June 20 because that's when days start again to shorten.

Spring has its charm, Fall is beautiful and Winter kills the bugs. But full-on Summer is splendid. Who could argue that?

Here's Sophia and Ali playing on the Daybreak Beach a day or so ago. Magnificent.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Something About Harry

Though I had a hard time with the British English for awhile, I loved the "Half-Blood Prince." Though I'm not a real fan (I think we missed the last pic in fact), I do like the Potter flix. I in fact believe that I would enjoy reading the series though I'm sure I'll not do that either.

I have questions, however:
1. What does the very bright Hermione see in Weasley?
2. What's with the creepy water guys?
3. Remind me, how did the Riddle guy kill Harry's parents again?
4. (This one was removed because I didn't want to be a spoiler for those who might not have seen it yet.)
5. Are all Harry Potter questions resolved satisfactorily with the last book?
6. How many books compared to movies are there?
7. Is there only one movie left and is it "in the can"?

That's it, folks. Let me know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Craze Is Over. I'm Left With Carl ('s Jr., That Is)

I love jalapeƱo burgers from Carl's Jr though they are really, really messy. I eat them because they are good and because they are the last vestige of low carb eating done in the United States. Now that the craze is over, there is nowhere, even in health-food stores, anything low carb. There's not even no-sugar Popscicles left in the grocery stores.

And since I'm unable to eat sugar and flour anyway, and since low-carbing is the only way I can lose weight, I am left with a few Atkins bars, salad, steak, hamburger and Carl's Jr. Jalapeno burgers. I'm just saying. They are beautiful.

And speaking of beautiful, that's me in the picture.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fears, Young and Old

When I was young, I was afraid of the dark and of spiders. I would lie in bed and lay very still so as not to alert the monsters to my presence. Heaven forbid going to the bathroom because one step onto the floor around my bed, and a cold, bony hand would reach out and grab my ankle giving me a fatal heart attack.

Once when I was not-so-old, I dried off my face, looked at myself in the mirror, and there was a large spider sitting on my cheek. The scream apparently nearly gave my mother a fatal heart attack because she screamed herself crazy at me for screaming. I examined every towel before drying anything.

I'm not really afraid of either the dark or spiders now. I think it's because as the elder sister of four brothers, I decided early not to be fearful so as not to be thought of as "girly". When Brad went through his lizard/snake phase, I didn't bat an eye and learned early that they are hardly scary.

I took my disregard of fear of spiders to a new level as an adult while teaching at Brighton High School Seminary. My colleagues and I were cleaning out a storage room, when one of them recoiled rather dramatically at a little wolf spider. I chose to show my disgust at his fears by taking the little spider into my hands and carrying it outside for a thoughtful release. All the while I was carrying him, though, I could feel his little bites -- like little pin pricks. I remained stoic throughout and took him safely outside. I now demonstrate my bravery to my granddaughters by killing spiders with my bare fingers. Sometimes if they're largish, I do use toilet tissue as a buffer.

Even teenagers don't scare me, that's how brave I am. So what do I fear? Like I said the other day, alarm clocks.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Today's the 24th!

"We drink from wells we did not dig,
We live in houses we did not build."

It occurs to me endlessly as I watch houses going up out here in Daybreak almost overnight how much we depend on others to do things that would take us forever to do by ourselves if we could do if at all. Cars, roads, telephone wires, electricity, windows, groceries. Everything.

Blair Barfuss is a detective with the West Valley Police. What would it take for us to protect ourselves by ourselves? Put out our own fires? Thanks to the Fire Department for that. Deliver our packages and mail? Thanks Brad and others for that.

It's amazing to me to think that the Mormon Pioneers had to do everything from scratch. If they wanted it, they made it themselves. What a concept. Glad I'm alive today.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Remembrance of Things Past

I miss teaching. I literally dream about teaching in some form almost every night. Last night it involved a talk I gave recently about purses and personality to the Relief Society and knitting and my son, Brad in his pajamas. But I was teaching. I was at home in the classroom.

Sometimes my dreams have me teaching adults, sometimes high school kids and other times it's at LDS Business College where I taught for eight years, but usually they are lucid and do make some sense. I could sometimes regive the lessons I give in my dreamCheck Spellings to Carl, though he would hardly appreciate it. They would be short, but they would make have some coherence. I could write a lesson plan from some of them.

I try to console myself by telling myself that it was a good run and that few people find a career they love like I loved mine. Usually, though, they just remind me how much I miss everything about teaching. I miss the students, the involvement in my lessons, my association with colleagues and with the school itself. I miss the order, the routine, the sense of duty and work to be done.

The only thing I don't miss is setting my alarm every day of my life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Comparing Flowers and God

Sunday, Dianne Sheets spoke to our ward of coming to smell the honeysuckle as a child in spite of her fear of the bees in them. She compared that to coming to the Lord. She's right. There are problems attendant to coming to the Lord. One is the pain of giving up the old, safe life. Another is the acceptance of things unseen even on days that are difficult. Another is the taking on of the requirements that a life devoted to God must bring. Definitely more than the risk of bee stings, but certainly a small price when the great questions of what we are doing here on Earth are answered.

Yesterday we were over for our final chance to serve at the Open House for the Oquirrh Mountian Temple. I stook for four hours handing out cookies until I thought my feet were going to curl up and die totally independant of me. Fortunately they did not because it would have been doubly embarrassing to have to drag my silly behind to the car. But that's a small price.

Dianne is right. It's all worth it. Nothing is much sweeter-smelling than honeysuckle and negotiating bees is not a big enough problem to forgoe the pleasure that they bring. And what God asks of us is really so little compared to what he gives in return.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Facebook Friending

Facebook is hard. I don't mean it takes braininess, because it doesn't. Maybe just the opposite, in fact. It does require judgement, however, which makes it hard. Who has that anymore?

How hard can it be to decide who you want to "friend"? (That's a new verb, incidentally.) Not hard, basically, but who initiates the friending?

For example, my peers aren't on Facebook in throngs. If they were, then I'd friend them. Unless, of course, I've not seen them since high school and maybe then we weren't exactly friends anyway. Then I'd probably not friend them. Easy, cut and dried.

But I was a teacher. Does a student take the initiative and friend me? Many have and I appreciate it and reciprocate. But what about the student who is a little shy in the face of
somebody they'd see as an authority figure? Does a teacher friend them? Sometimes, if they were friendly together while in class. However, might students be reluctant to openly friend a teacher who taught them religion? Absolutely, if they have any sense and if it's possible they might reveal things or say things that could be difficult to say in front of someone they've discussed morals, doctrines and scriptures with. I hate to put former students in a dilemma like that, so I generally don't if I have any doubts.

I don't suppose I'm alone in this dilemma. Social protocol often gives me trouble anyway and this one isn't much different. But I'd like to hear what you think.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Funniest Ever Contender

Sorry, but this is too hilarious to let it go by.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Dreams May Come

I have great dreams. The best ones are those in which I can fly. Sometimes they start by me becoming aware that I can levitate and everyone is amazed. Then I take off flying. It's as wonderful as it sounds. Over the treetops I go. It used to be I had to watch out for telephone wires, but not anymore. It's free sailing now.

Last night I had a combo dream: that is one in which I had my worst dream together with a sort of flying. Somehow, I had run away from home (I'm sure I was in college, but be that as it may,) and while my mother was frantically looking for me, I was hard at work flunking out of some school in the midwest because I didn't attend, do homework, couldn't find the class and probably wasn't enrolled. Anyway, when I finally showed up back home, totally repentant of course, I was going to go talk to some dean of students. As I was walking, a disk about the size of a chair seat floated beside me, and I leapt aboard and floated to the dean's office. It was really, really fun and also a plus was that whoever it was accompanying me, stood in awe.

I think if no other great things happen in life, the ability to dream that you can fly make life worth living for sure. They even make dreams of being naked worth the risk. I have never dreamed I was flying while naked. For that I am glad, but I think a study should be done to discover why anyway.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Live By the Sword, Die By the Disapproval of Others

We Empty-Nesters (a euphemism for us elderly types) are meeting at our house in August. Though the program has evolved since its inception several years ago, having something of an activity or at least a theme should be considered. The problem is that not much is seemly for us anymore.

Our youngers (as opposed to elders) are vaguely amused, or even disgusted when we take to hollering, giggling, telling jokes, maybe singing vociferously and/or even getting into elevators it would seem. So what is there left to do? Bingo, perhaps, though the Mormons kind of think that that is a little too Catholic for them. We could have a speaker come and tell us at length about various things, but some of us snore too loudly to make it easy enough for some of our hearing aids to work efficiently. We considered writing our various ailments down then having participants match them to the proper sufferer. We decided, though, that perhaps the health of some individuals might not be up to the excitement.

We then thought that wearing our bathing suits might be in order for a hot August evening and that we could run through the hose and maybe even find a Slip-N-Slide that wasn't being used that evening. We were all aglow with eager anticipation until we remembered who we are and that what's good for the gosling might not be good for the geezers.

"Why's that", we ask?

"Because it was put up for a vote and the youngers decided that the elders had just better behave in a seemly manner and resist having fun of any sort."

"When was that vote taken," we ask?

"Just after Adam's children first started reaching puberty."

"Were we there," we wonder?

"No, but you consented to it when you came along."

"Rats", we complain. "But I guess we did it to ourselves."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Hearty Report of Heart-Healthy Activity

I rode my bicycle today and felt quite rejuvenated afterward. I think it has to do with increased blood-flow to the brain, re-oxygenation of the tissues, a release of dormant endorphans, the needed time spent in personal reflection, with the bonus of the observation of nature at its finest. It was a lovely ride during which I also visited the beautiful Julia and my two lovely granddaughters.

Let no one misunderstand, however. This is not something that will again be spoken of without my direct permission gotten in writing. You see, I know, as you do as well, that tomorrow things will return to being as they were yesterday which was when I took a dim view of anything that smacked of physical exertion let alone something as out of character as exercise. I need not be reminded of this, anyway, because I know, at least intellectually, that exercise is good for me and that getting the blood warmed up and flowing feels right and good. I also know that my life will be all the richer and brighter and more productive if only the rust was forced out of the pipes once in a while. I know all that.

What is less obvious is why I took to the streets atop my bike in the first place. It wasn't to protect my heart. Nor was it to add mileage to my shamefully-low numbers on my bike gauge. It was to protect my computer. If I hadn't gotten away from that fiendish machine, it was going out the second-story window onto the sidewalk. Now, we will not discuss this again. Understood?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Seminary Principal Arrested

I am heartsick about the seminary principal in Utah County who developed a sexual relationship with one of his students. In fact I feel like punching his headlights out. He's caused great pain to the entire Church Education Program.

I used to think that the CES was kind of overreacting when they began to forbid hugging students, especially at graduations, emailing students and any displays of affection between adult leaders. This included Priesthood leaders.

This is really a difficult thing because a special bond does develop between a seminary teacher and his or her students. We were advised to not counsel with students about their personal problems but to refer them onto Priesthood leaders. Wise counsel, but sometimes immediate needs were not met. We were advised not to talk to students in our offices with the doors closed and also, all office doors for teachers had windows in them to forstall problems. This I understood. Now text messaging, which didn't exist when I was a seminary teacher, undoubtedly will be off the table for teachers even to the extent of having addresses and phone numbers for group announcements perhaps.

I know for most it's unbelievable because most, meaning the men that I worked with, would never have gotten themselves into this mess. But It's happened once and we must shut our feelings down even more just in case it might happen again, even though we have hundreds and hundreds of teachers who wouldn't think of even taking that first step into forbidden territory.

It's too bad because children need adult help. And seminary teachers really are as good a possibility for this as anyone. But circumstances are such that this aid is no longer even hinted at. I hope no one maintains any long-term hurt from this but it's a pity that any long-term help is not longer there either.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Memory Lane And Its Little Pleasures

Some people are capable of saying just the right thing without offense or judgement.

This hilarious photo, gleaned from an ancient album, is of one of my brothers who shall remain anonymous.

This brother, however, is now revered, sedate, and always the picture of fatherly composure.

He did, however, set himself up for future abuse aplenty when he posed as the chucklehead at Lake Powell he was in this photo. Though now no one would believe it, he was the family daredevil, lunging about, charging up rocks and generally terrifying my parents at every turn when we were on vacation.

Rex, however, the favored baby son, didn't mock when he saw this picture. Surely he was just little when it was taken, but still . . . he chose his words carefully. He simply said thoughtfully, "I remember that hat."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Showering Thoughts

I went to a really great shower for my niece, Sarah Cannon Brown last night. The games and favors were truly excellent. The picture of the baby shoe to the left is one of the favors we left with.

Back in the day, party favors were a big deal and my mother always brought hers home, carefully preserved with candy on board, to me since I was the only daughter. (I know I was the favorite, too.) I think of that when I get cute little favors and feel a little sorry for myself since I have no daughters to bring them home to. Boys, and my handsome husband are just interested in the loot that comes in them. It's also a little embarrassing to get something tied with pink bows regardless.

I made Julia take home the little pacifiers made out of lifesavers and a jellybean we had around our necks to my granddaughters. She didn't see the significance of it I don't think. I just wish I'd been there to see them receive them.

Carl, of course, will get the shoe with the mints and pretzels inside. I'm not as thoughtful as my mother, though, because I ate the nuts.

Getting back to mother. It was always nice to have her bring home to me whatever it was she had received, but I didn't think the remembrance was so long-term. It's always nice to be remembered, but it's interesting that I remember her for remembering me so long ago. I hope she knows about it wherever she may be.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'll Be Quick -- Just Listen to This One Cute Comment From My Granddaughter

As Brad and Sophia were leaving Wal-Mart, they noticed a gangster kinda guy with a big tattoo on his chest. As they passed, Soph observed "He didn't listen to his family."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just Sayin' . . .

Michael Jackson was talented. I don't think anyone argues with that. I liked "Billy Jean" and "Thriller". The Jackson Five emerged from Gary, Indiana while I was living in Chicago. I even remember vaguely a performance of his with Brittney Spears, maybe at a half-time of something, that I thought was really good entertainment. I really loved his Simpson's episode. Really loved it.

It's just that he did get pretty weird in the interim and it's amazing to me that a whole swath of people has emerged that seem to have better place twenty years ago screaming for him. Where have they been waiting quietly?

I think today's excitement is fine. I also think it's something interesting to do on a long summer day. I just hope that my great-grandchildren won't still be wearing t-shirts with his likeness on the front.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Health Update

Here's a note -- Friday at Dr. Symkoviak's office I learned I have a blood pressure of 90/50. I also had a pulse first of 50 then on second check, it was 63. "I should be dead or at least still in bed," I cleverly observed. "At least dizzy", the Protime administrator responded snappily.

Who would dare ask anything of me?

Yet I'm asked to stomp through half of West Jordan to watch hours of parade, stay awake through Ice Age and then attend fireworks later on on the fourth. I'm telling you, the respect I receive isn't up to the standards I would have set.

Yet as I type, I can tell I'm not mustering up a great deal of support -- which is just as well. I'll just be sitting over here, sniffling quietly to myself, or not.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Self Indulgence

Out behind the famous Old Faithful Inn, stands the very unassuming building you see above. It hasn't changed much, at least since 1961. Except for the two girls in the lobby checking their email on laptops.

I'm a witness of that. It was my dorm during that summer when I worked as a chamber maid in the very Old Faithful Inn. Not in one of the arms of the Inn, but the very Inn itself. I'd leave this dorm, every morning to work on the second floor of the Inn. Below is the front door to my dorm. I climbed those stairs a bunch of times during that summer.

We had a blast that summer. Merlene Britsch was my roommate and she did her best to keep things together for us, but to no avail.
Above, on the far right of the lower level is our room. We got the corner. There couldn't have been a better summer though Merlene did stress out a little too much.

Below is the hallway to our room on the far end on the right. The glow comes from a memory of us I'll bet, but maybe it's because I took the picture on my cell phone. I did love that place. My first home away from home.What a summer. I didn't want to leave so I stayed into September to help close down the Inn.

Wish I had pictures of those days, but I don't. I just have them in my head. Hope they stay there.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Not Quite

Yellowstone has beasts aplenty. Here, for example, is a coyote. The only reason we believe it is a coyote is that its tail is bushy and therefore not a wolf. Yellowstone sports, however, 230 wolves. Here's your garden-variety grizzly bear. Looks cuddly, apparently isn't.
Elk. They abound in the park. Moose, however, have gravitated down to the Teton area where there is more tasty food for them to eat. The cold is not the problem in the park for them I'd guess.
A bald eagle sitting on her nest was a surprising sight. Especially since she was courteous to viewers and built the nest in the top of a burned-out tree near the West Yellowstone Entrance.
This was not all. We did see bison, mountain goats, geese and various other critters. Fortunately, Carl, my photographer, had the presence of mind to rent a fine-quality lens for the occasion so we could see things a little closer and more National Geographic-like.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh to be Young and Half Mountain Goat

Climbing and throwing rocks seem to be among the rites of passage. All through Yellowstone there are spots requiring that we do either or both. Below are Mark and Cindy Cannon (cousins) atop Sheepeaters Cliff. It's much taller than it appears.

There's a road in Montana, North of Yellowstone, that goes through Bear Tooth Canyon that Charles Kurault named as one of the ten most beautiful drives in the country. Below is Joseph Cannon (yet another cousin) on top of one of the highest peaks. Snow below him is not visible and neither are snowboarders who apparently still are enjoying the area.
Next is Cindy, again, up on another stack of stone along the way through Yellowstone. There's more than bears and geysers in Yellowstone.

A final note, days like these require more than flip-flops. It's not called Yellowstone for nothing.