Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"I Was A Prisoner, and You Took Me In . . . "

The entrance to the Oquirrh Facility
Went back to prison yesterday and it was wonderful.

Ed Leary is in the Bishopric of the Oquirrh Facility Branch and he asked me to come and talk at a Fireside knowing I had been their Sunday School teacher for three years about five or six years ago.  

I jumped at the chance because I remember how wonderful it felt being out there before.  

The Spirit is so strong there.  Matthew 25:36 says "I was in prison and you visited me," and the promise is reciprocated.  Rare is the Sacrament meeting on the outside where the Spirit is like that and I suspect one reason is it's because those men read their scriptures constantly.  I mentioned that yesterday and asked for a raise of hands and I would say that two-thirds, three-fourths of them read their scriptures in groups daily.  I mentioned that I was reading the Book of Mormon for the fourth time this year and one man afterwards said in a very sweet, humble way that he was on his fifth way through.  

Another reason is the humility of those men. They are so remorseful.  They are sick with sorrow for what they've done.  Many are in daily religious classes, they are prayerful, they are in miserable surroundings with nothing but television, each other and boredom.  Nothing distracts them but their situation and what brought them there.  And many of them are sober for the first time in a long time.  Many are addicts.  And in their sobriety, they are turning to God and hoping and praying that they can stay that way when they get out.

And many are working hard on Genealogy, doing service as best they can, hours and hours hunched over a computer.  Look at the following link:  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/59796/A-rescue-from-bondage-Family-history-center-at-Utah-State-Prison-thrives.htmlhttp://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/59796/A-rescue-from-bondage-Family-history-center-at-Utah-State-Prison-thrives.htmlhttp://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/59796/A-rescue-from-bondage-Family-history-center-at-Utah-State-Prison-thrives.htmlhttp://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/59796/A-rescue-from-bondage-Family-history-center-at-Utah-State-Prison-thrives.html  These are our boys, Carl's and mine.  Carl used to go out and spend Thursday nights with them at this center.  It was amazing what they could do.  They did my genealogy back to the kings and queens of England.  I've never been able to duplicate it since. 

Last night, I talked to them about hope.  That's what these men need more than anything.  I'm not talking about all prisoners.  I'm talking about these forty or fifty men who work hard to qualify for the privilege of coming over to the Oquirrh Facility Religious Center and worship as best they can and feeling the gentle persuasions of the Spirit to soothe their aching souls.  Hope.  We all need it, but they need it so much.  

I feel so privileged for having been allowed to spend one hour again giving a little hope to some of God's children.  One hour in a long sentence isn't very much, but it's something.  

But it meant a lot to me.  

Monday, August 30, 2010

When Does A Sense of Incompetence Really Begin?

Here we have the impressive Hawthorne LDS Church which is located at Roosevelt Avenue and 8th East in Salt Lake City Utah.

This would have been the building that my Grandmother and Grandfather Mary Salmon and Ira Bennion Cannon would have attended with my father, Bennion Rhead Cannon, and the building my other Grandparents, Nellie Bull and Edward Axel Peterson with their children, Welby, my mother, Helen Maurine and Patricia Joy would have attended had they been so inclined.

This also is the building, including the side shot of the very door (left side of shot) which my mother and grandmother would glide by and slow down enough to toss me out each Sunday morning to attend Sunday School as I lived at Grandma and Grandpa Peterson's.  The circumstances of living at Grandma's and the reasons I was to be eliminated from the household on Sundays are not clear.  I'm figuring I must have been about four.  All facts are vague except for the following.  It is just too traumatizing.

No one went in with me ever and I know this for a fact because no one at Sunday School ever knew my name.  I was asked, and I told them, every week.  But I must have been as unintelligible as Brad was at the same age because they never got it.

The same routine went on every week.  They would ask me my name, I would tell them, and they would ask me to have my mother come in the next week to talk to them to tell them my name.  I'd agree, time and again but would forget to comply.  That was just the beginning, I guess, of my letting God down.

But as I look back, I'm wondering, why didn't they just take a clue from the schools?  The old "pin a note to your shirt" trick wasn't all that secret.  But nevertheless, the mere sight of the old Hawthorne Ward House raises a greater sense of inadequacy in me than fear of wearing a shirt twice and smelling bad or using bad grammar in my blog.  I'm not kidding.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Good Music is Good Music -- Isn't It?

I will not exaggerate at all in this in the least. 

We were having lunch at Southtowne Mall and Carl went off to the restroom.  I felt comfortable alone so I sat mindlessly watching a rap video on one of the major video screens placed randomly around the place. 

Then suddenly I noticed a guy with an askew baseball cap glaring at me. He didn't look unlike the guy in the photo above except he was younger, you could see his numerous tattoos, his look on his face was even nastier and, no, he definitely wasn't Eminem.  

Am I not allowed to watch rap even?  I had no particular look on my face though he definitely did. In fact, I forget the name of the rapper who was on the video, but his rap was kinda catchy, in no way offensive (it was a public mall, after all) and I actually liked it.  I don't plan to download it, but it was okay.  

 I haven't been living in a basement, you know.  Rap has been around for a long time, since maybe the seventies, and only a real shut-in doesn't have some awareness of it. And you have to be a real bigot not to be able to appreciate its finer points, it's rhythm, rhyme, it's dance.  

It's violence, mysogyny, its language, its hate is not quite so pleasing.  This one had none of that.  It was nice.  

I think this kid was wondering what business I had watching it or at least was presuming I had a negative judgement of it.  I remember about twenty years ago when Reno Mahe, who was in my seminary class at Brighton High School at the time, was asking a white kid sitting next to him why he liked hip-hop when it wasn't his music.  The answer then was simply because he liked it.  Reno seemed to buy that.

My answer would have not been exactly the same the other day, but close enough.  It would have been "Why shouldn't I like it?"  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Danger, Danger, It's Liberty Park Back in It's Scary, Fun Days

This photo was taken at Liberty Park with the maniacal Uncle Brent going particularly nuts back in 1987.  The children pictured are all currently in their thirties.  Certainly, most of them in the photo are hoping they don't embarrass themselves by throwing up in front of their cousins, aunts and uncles and parents and likely, grandparents.  Humiliating yourself in front of a family member was worse among these Cannons than committing a crime.  I'm not kidding.  "Help me, Mommy," they are shouting within as they laugh with bravado without.

All of these people have their own children now and wouldn't dream of allowing their own precious children to be treated in such a reckless abandon.  This photo was taken with a fast lens after all.  And Uncle Brent could really whip that merry-go-round around in his hey-day.  But then, only a couple of generations from Ben R. Cannon, they'd not utter a whimper.  They knew what was good for them.  And the Silver Fox himself was likely in their presence.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ducks, the New Family Pet

My brother owns his very own flock of ducks.  Scott bought them about fifteen weeks ago for his home in Mendon, Utah when they were tiny balls of fluff, having paid a premium price of 50 cents beyond the usual one dollar because he chose a variety of specific kinds of ducks to provide additional interest to his property.  And that they do.

He chose all males because apparently ducks get all silly when there is a mixed group.  This bunch just charges about all together, quacking, eating bugs out of the lawn, swimming in the little pond, pooping and waddling, clueless that they are free to leave at anytime though these seem to be flightless.  They also get all confused and quizzical when one gets out of step from the rest of the group.  Not a smart lot.

When one was attacked by a dog and lay in the road for awhile, Scott thought he was dead, and plans were made to clean him up, but soon he was up and gimping around.  He continues to lag behind the others, but the rest refuse to allow him to malinger, prompting him constantly to keep up, which, he cheerfully attempts to do.  They are a group, you see, and a bum leg is no excuse.

Scott's grandson, Sean, inadvertently stepped on one when it was tiny and it lay there all squished and wonky, but that one, too, came around.  Maybe ducks aren't terribly smart, but they are resilient.

Winters get pretty drastic up there in Mendon but Scott isn't worried about his ducks.  "They can probably take the Winter weather," he says.  But if they can't, he says, he's learned from a pal that there's a Chinese family down the road who quite enjoy duck and he can always invest in a new flock next Spring.  They're really not that pricey and from what I hear, quite delicious.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Verbing of America

The verbing of America
Is getting out of hand,
Yet many nouns are also verbs,
Like toast and rake and land.
When I first heard hospitalize,
I thought it was a crime;
Why don't we apartmentalize?
We will -- just give us time!
If when we change a noun to verb
To come up with our `verbing,'
Why can't I, when I'm using herbs,
Refer to it as herbing?
For if I call myself a cook
, The verbal form is cooking;
And if I give someone a look,
It's also known as looking.
I give a gift
But I'm not gifting.
You get my drift,
Or am I drifting?
I get a bill
Because of billing,
But taking pills
Is never pilling.
I place a pin,
And I am pinning.
Play a violin --
Is it violining?
But play a fiddle,
And you're fiddling;
Or is this getting
Much too piddling?
Planting some seeds
Is always seeding,
And pulling weeds
Is surely weeding;
If drawing blood
Is always bleeding,
Why does a flood
Not lead to fleeding?
I'm wined and dined
But never beered.
I've eyed someone,
But never eared!
Turn on a light,
And I am lighting.
Turn on a lamp,
And it's not lamping.
If I can verbalize
A needle,
And egging on
Can mean to wheedle,
And I am doodling
With a doodle,
When I cook pasta,
Can't I noodle?
With all these punctuation marks,
I'm doing quite a lot of dotting;
But if I were to use a dash --
Don't you agree that I am dashing?
But comma-ing and period-ing?
And yet I can italicize
And sometimes must capitalize.
I Anglicize -- but Germanicize?
Or Swedicize, or Gaelicize?
With this I could go on and on,
Really ad infinitum;
Whether I lick these word problems,
I sure cannot beat 'em.
Our language is an enigma
In how its words are used;
And that is why, in verbing nouns,
We ought to be excused.
Thanks to Jessica Kestner, who found this in St. Paul Pioneer Press

Monday, August 23, 2010

We Have Squatters on the Premises

They're here.  We've got four baby barn swallows in a nest on our front porch who own two frantic parents  that are desperate for a little sleep, time to themselves and peace and quiet.

We've been watching the nest from construction to today for about four weeks now, from tiny eggs to the gaping maws you see in the picture.  And isn't the nest a beautiful thing to behold?

Carl has cleverly jury-rigged his camera with his computer, chairs, valuable antique table, wrench, twisties and other stuff to shoot the pictures you see, proving that sometimes the simplest of things make for the most significant moments in our lives.  It has been beautiful.

We have also learned a thing or two.  Barn swallows fly around as a pair during the day when the eggs are in the nest checking back on the eggs from time to time and swoop about when someone is too close to the eggs, i.e. on our porch.  They sleep with the eggs and later, with the babies, at night.

Also, when sitting on the eggs, (and you can't tell if it's the male or the female because they look just alike,) they stick their little bottoms over the edge of the nest to poop to keep things neat and tidy in there and as a result, make a mess on our porch.  (I do understand, however.  We were young parents once and remember how stressful the situation was.  We'll take care of it later.)

Also, common as they are, they are Federally protected.  You can knock the nest away before the eggs are laid and can clear it out after the babies are gone, but in between, expect the Federales to come and take you away if you mess with the little guys while they have habitation.

But who would want to?  They are the cutest things ever.  We feel kind of "chosen" this year, even though we haven't been able to sit on our front porch at the peril of getting our eyes pecked out.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What Are Little Girls Made Of? Showtime!!

Girls put on shows.  I don't think boys do.  At least the boys I know haven't.

The shows can be quite elaborate affairs, complete with tickets, music, singing, dancing, props.  And they can be long.

People can get hurt during these shows.  Generally the audience is tolerant of brief intermissions for blaming, crying, maybe some slugging, but the show must go on.

But somehow strife and tragedy only increases beauty and fervor of the dance.

The movements become more strenuous, the timing more reckless, the interaction seemingly less cautious, inspiring more alertness and awareness in the audience.

But as just as the magic of the dance has begun, it's over.  Yet it lingers long as beauty does when it touches deeply.  The applause still rings.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Looking For a Mouthwatering Book to Read?

Salubrious is a word my father used for some incongruous reason, but it always worked.  
And it’s a word that works for for Joanne Harris’ novel, Five Quarters of the Orange.  Delicious.  But fiercely delicious.  I loved every bite.
Here is a woman, Framboise Simon, recalling herself as a wild and willful tomboy, raised in a little French town, occupied by the Germans during World War II by a strange, and sickly mother.  There are marvelously developed secrets and bizarrely formulated interplays that can hardly be anticipated.  
But now she, as an elderly woman, has returned to the town, unrecognized, opens a restaurant and puts the whole thing together.  Believe me, my Kindle got its workout.  
This book never moves slowly;  You delight in the child and fear for her just as you do for her as the old woman.  It makes you long for the food, the smells, the sights, the sounds.
It even teaches.  War is Hell.  But it is fought with and around people who love, feel, suffer, live, long and certainly have to deal with the consequences for the rest of their lives.  
This book was yummy.   Wish I could read it fresh and new again.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

71 Amazing Wizard Of Oz Facts

Stuff is happening with the Wizard of Oz.  For example the following:  "Jell-O crystals were stuck over all the horses in the Emerald City palace to lend them their colour. The scenes were shot speedily, before the horses began to lick them off.'

Facts,  71 amazing facts, exist concerning this beloved movie and its production for its 71st birthday.  Click on the following and you will find them all:  


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Liberty Park -- Not Where The Big Kids Play

We had a picnic at Liberty Park a week or so ago.

Liberty Park makes my heart sing.

It's the site of the old farmland where Brigham Young would send the men and boys out to farm while he kept the womenfolk urban in the city in  his famous city blocks.

Later on, Grandma Peterson, nee Nellie Bull, who was born January 26, 1886, would take her little brood there to play, to skate, to swim, to picnic.  Maybe she played there.  I'm not so sure about that.

Later, my mother won a swimming suit as a champion swimmer, swimming at the old Liberty Park pool and won my father's heart playing tennis with him at the Liberty Park courts.  He took some chick named "Ruby" to the school dances, but he married my mother.  Liberty Park.

We spent many days as children at Liberty Park.  First, during the war I lived with Grandma with my mother at 807 Bryan Avenue then at at 938 Kensington until first grade.  And during the summer, we spent lots of time up visiting Grandma, so again, Liberty Park was home away from home.  I love that place.

In those days, the slides were metal, slippery and probably thirty feet high.  The swings were numerous and probably twenty-five feet tall.  It was crazy-wonderful there.  Sometimes we'd swim, but usually just run wild through the playground and have picnic lunches at the long picnic tables under the trees.

I wanted to go there the other day because our granddaughters are getting a little big for the usual playgrounds.  You know.  The ones that are safe and small and the slides are slow.  Ali and Sophia are five and seven.

Shock of shocks, the playground I remember at Liberty Park is gone.  It's now moved north of the tennis courts and swimming pool and it, too, is small, safe and slow.

Liberty Park looks a lot the same.  The trees are big and beautiful.  The swimming pool is the same pretty much and the tennis courts are still there.  The playground is beautiful and brightly colored.  But what happened?

It's safe!!!    And it's for four-year-olds, and younger.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Church - An Especially Good Place To Be Yesterday

Andrew Unsworth at the MoTab Organ
Nobody churched it up like we did yesterday.

We sang like we really could all through Sacrament Meeting yesterday. "Abide With Me," "High On A Mountain Top," "Redeemer of Israel," "I Need Thee Every Hour," and some other favorites. with different people explaining why they were their favorites.  It was great.  We even slopped over into Sunday School time by about fifteen minutes which our rule-abiding bishopric rarely tolerates.  Just fantastic.  

But the capper, the frosting, the creme de la creme was oddly, right in the middle.

We have the magnificent Andrew Unsworth in our ward and he plays the organ for us on Sundays when he can, alternating with our own talented Lynn Alvord,  He played yesterday.

Andrew, if you didn't know, is an organist some Sundays for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and he talked a bit about his choice, "All Creatures of our God and King."  He spoke of how he loved how the powerful words and music intertwine.  He asked that we sing the third verse with only the melody and the rest, he said, "Do what you want."

There are, he mentioned, further verses, which you can read if you check this link, which St. Francis of Assisi apparently wrote shortly before his death:  http://www.lovetolearnplace.com/Curriculum/ALL%20CREATURES%20OF%20OUR%20GOD%20AND%20KING%20Worksheet.pdf  St. Francis and "All Creatures" is more than worth researching further.

Andrew took off the chapel roof, used all the stops like a magician and did something amazing with the third verse.  Can't describe it.

Too bad you weren't there.  I wanted to stop the world.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mormon Doctrine At An End -- (J/K)

Sunstone Magazine is worth a perusal every now and then even the current issue which is devoted largely to the maniacal Glen Beck. 
In the back is a mention that Deseret Book is discontinuing the publication of Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine!
Publication of the book began in 1958 and started trouble right from the start by calling the Catholic Church the “mother of harlots”.  Subsequent publications didn’t contain the comment but up until 1978, the book contained the assertion that blacks would never receive the Priesthood.  Of course that was then removed.  
Whenever references were made from MD in Church Education settings, smart remarks were usually made from sources about concerning Mormon Doctrine because of the “personal” nature of some of Elder McConkie’s views, but this turn of events still surprises me, coming so soon.
Deseret Book says they are discontinuing publication because sales are low, but maybe not.  Sunstone says (though I didn’t get the footnote, it is the current issue) “At Amazon.com, Mormon Doctrine now sells, used for $45 (paperback) and $80 (hardcover).  The rare first edition sells for about $300."
That kind of bites for me because I had two hard copies and when I retired, I gave one to Deseret Industries in an urgent flurry to divest myself of the massive pile of books I’d accumulated over the years.  I did get points from Carl, though, worth at least that much.  He was impressed with how much I didn’t bring home with me after twenty-four years of teaching.  How do they put it?  Oh yeah. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How Bad Behavior Really Hurts

I read in an MSNBC article on the net today how rudeness can really upset the day for everyone.  We like to pretend that it doesn’t bother us, but the mood goes completely south when we even witness a transitory situation where someone we don’t even know is treated badly or treats someone else badly.  
We even fester through the day over what we should have done to help or intervene.  The article tells of a woman who had come into a store attempting to bully a store owner into a full refund for an item she had purchased on sale.  When the store owner finally found the original receipt and found that it had indeed been purchased at a discounted price, the crazed customer screamed that the owner was trying to “rip her off” and said as she left, “I can’t believe you treat customers this way.  I’m never coming back!”   http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38310679/ns/health-behavior/
We’ve all seen such tirades and know the relief we feel when it’s over.  But the article indicates that studies done indicate that seeing such a scene make us become so alarmed, that it “measurably affects . . . creativity and performance.”  We know when we are the receivers of rudeness it impacts us, but just witnessing it apparently can affect us as well.  
The article goes on to talk about how rudeness in American is growing and blames tv and reality shows like  “Jersey Shore, The Hills, The Real Housewives group, Fliping Out and 90% of the Bravo Networks lineup. . . . these shows glorify and pay tribute to the art of treating each other like garbage and are the epitome of the promotion of rudeness and extremely bad behavior.”
I remember some years ago that someone had said that if I were having a bad day, I could trace it back to some incident, and if I did, I might be able to turn the bad day around.  I found that was true.  Usually it’s nothing large, but it’s something enough to cause the day to go grey and sour.
The article  considers that perhaps the growth of rudeness somehow might correspond with the decrease in shame.  It makes good sense to me.  
My brother, Scott, reminded me a month or so ago that my mother used to tell us that there are some things that decent people just don’t say.  We thought she was rather provincial at the time when we were young.  I think, though, that she was probably right and could be expanded upon.  I think there are there are things that decent people just don’t do, either.  And I think we better teach our children about it soon or we are going to be really feeling sorry about the world we will be living in.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Park City - A Beautiful Place With A Questionable Birth

We went to the Park City Art Festival over the weekend.  
Friday was a perfect day.  Not too hot, not at all crowded and Park City was charming as ever.  I even bought myself a beautiful porcelain vase.  Carl even let me stay four hours which was the capper to the whole perfect time enjoying artist after artist after artist.  
Lunch?  A delicious steak with a side of sweet potato fries with fry sauce at Bandits’ Bar and Grill.  My kind of day.
But it was bittersweet.  I know what Park City was.
When I taught at Brighton High School Seminary, one of the custodians up there was raised in Park City and had lived in one of the charming little houses that line the main streets in the original city.  
He would tell me great stories of when he was a kid, of when everyone’s dad was a miner, when everyone’s mother stayed at home and everyone had lots and lots of brothers and sisters.  He told of how things were when they, having a blast, lived the life they did in a remote little village, where everyone knew everyone else, where life was simple, fun and personal.  He’d regale me with anecdotes of him, his friends, his family.  He’d talk of his, school days, church, daily life, places, people, seasons.
But one day things turned differently.  He literally cried as he told me how people came in from California, I believe, and deceived the people as to what their property values were and bought their homes out from under them, leaving them with no place to go and with nothing real to fall back on.  It was like breaking up a family that had no place to go, with nothing to fall back on.  They had no real education, no land and nothing but mining in their blood.  It was awful.
What a beautiful place Park City is.  But I think there is also something ugly about it too.  I don’t suppose the beauty of what it was could ever be restored and those children are now grown and probably those miners are very old or dead.  But it does hurt a little to look at it still.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

Improve On This, I Dare You

Sometimes the old standbys just can't be beat.

Here we have some Lincoln Logs we bought in desperation in Yellowstone Park last year for our granddaughters because they just don't have any Barbies there in the Park stores.   Anything much that's pink anyway, and we'd all ready bought some stuffed animals.  Not many girlie things.

It was just a small set, came in the bag you see in the above picture, and is not much improved over the set your great grandparents had.

Yet it's hauled out often by Sophia and Ali.  In fact, Sophia built a house yesterday and Ali made the special request that it be preserved over until today.  It was modified from the picture and a little dog pen was built after the playroom was rifled through for the dog.

If you could see inside, there is a tiny doll asleep on the floor of the house and some animals stabled in the little barn.

Sophia played with it for over an hour with it again today.

There are very few toys that are allowed to stay in the family room.  Only a couple because if a mess if to be made, someone has to go to some trouble to make it.  Games stay in the breezeway.  Toys are mostly upstairs in the toy room.  But the Lincoln Logs are in the family room.  They've earned it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Poetry is not liked too much by many of us.  I like it because of the English classes I took back in the day and also, I think because of scripture.  
But I think most everyone will like this one because it’s simple, to the point, and because most of us would like to be liked because of, and not just in spite of, all our faults.  
It’s also a nice thought for a Sunday afternoon, don’t you think?

Sara Teasdale
They came to tell your faults to me,
They named them over one by one;
I laughed aloud when they were done,
I knew them all so well before, —
Oh, they were blind, too blind to see
Your faults had made me love you more.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Magic Happens With Age

Here we are --  final vestiges of the 50th Reunion Committee meeting to figure out who gets to take charge of the next (55th, of course) reunion, to laugh some more and to eat a little more as well.  We do look a little weird because our mouths are full.  We just stopped chewing for a second for the photo.

Front and center is Kathy Davis Allman, whom I've known forever, to her right is Susan Fields Walles who came from Flushing, New York our senior year.  Linda Wightman Fleming I've known since 1st grade when we moved to Provo and Kathy Ostler Fryer was the head of the Decorations Committee all these months.  Jeff Brooks was wild and crazy through high school and now drives a Jaguar, Doc Hansen was the heir to Hansen Candy Company, Wayne Clarke was and is the the most devilishly handsome and married Ann Sumsion and is still married to her and Naoma Gammon Bird, sitting next to me, was not a close friend in high school, but became a very close friend in college. We still are close friends.  Taking the picture is Bob Valentine who was in charge of the reunion.  He gets credit for almost all of the great success of the Provo High School Class of 1960 50th Reunion.

Now here's something for you.  We really didn't belong together.  I knew all these people in high school, of course, and liked them all well enough, but we didn't exactly belong to the same cliques.  But we really did become great friends during the preparation for the reunion.  

Those of you who aren't going to high school reunions for any reason, consider this -- things change.  Like Bob Valentine said, "In high school we had groups, but now there's just one group -- the old one."

And for good reason, we seem to all like each other and finally have time for each other.  We laugh, we talk, we explain things and finally kind of figure things out.  The old mysteries are really a thing of the past.

And our intention is to keep on meeting.  At least the Decorations Committee plans to.  We've got our next meeting planned for September.  We also have our class of 1960 website paid up for the next three years.  And there's also good ole Facebook.  We won't let go again because we like each other again.  And this time, even better.

The reason is this:  We have made lots of friends since high school.  Many of those friends are better friends than those we had in high school.  But it's important to remember that there's no universal rule that says there's a limit on friends.  No need to discard the old when the new come into play.

And those friends from high school?  They may have been cuter, faster, and looked better in a pair of jeans back then, but I can almost guarantee you you'll like them even better after they've aged a bit like the storied good wine, fine cheese and old friends are supposed to do.  It just happens.  Just like it's supposed to.  

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chess - A Fine Moment Indeed

That's Todd on the right
Our Yellowstone Trip brought up great memories, not the least of which was one of the finest coups of my life.  
The Britsch brothers, Todd and Lanny, who went on to greatness at Brigham Young University, drove their sister, Merlene, and I to Old Faithful Inn to work for the summer in 1961.  I don’t remember much about trip except that we had to wait around for a couple of days because they didn’t want to hire us until everyone from farther away had arrived for work because people from close by would likely pack it in early and leave before the summer was over.  Good thinking.  But, I don’t remember much else.  Maybe we slept in the car.  Maybe we ate bear droppings.  Maybe we bathed in the geysers.  I don’t remember many details.  
What I do remember was that Todd was a little more than weird, quite arrogant and thought that he was 57 IQ points smarter than anyone he encountered.  He probably has wised up since then.  Hope so.  Anyway, that point is germane.   
Anyway, backing up a bit, my brother, Brent, had just the previous year, as a high school sophomore, been a member of the “Chess Club” in school.  The “Flying Geek Squad”, if they had such a term in those days.  Somehow, I’d given him the time of day at one point and he’d shown me three, maybe four moves that would give you “check mate” if your opponent didn’t know what you were doing.  
Todd was bored and wanted to play chess with me.  Probably no one else would play.  I hate chess.  I said "no" dozens of times for more than a few reasons.  But I finally relented and though it seemed too simple, I tried the moves. And choke, sputter, gasp, they worked.  CHECK-MATE!!  Todd could not believe that Merlene’s idiot friend had beaten him in so few moves.  I was electric with glee.  
Not being a fool, I refused to play him again.  I knew he was not the genius he thought he was, but I was no fool either.  I did not underestimate him.  I couldn't take the chance I could pull it off again.  
I don’t remember the moves now and I’ve asked Brent since if he does.  He doesn’t even remember ever knowing them.  I suspect he doesn’t remember even being in the Chess Club.  Silly boy.  It probably wasn’t his finest hour.  
Chess definitely wasn’t mine either.  But it did provide me with one of my favorite moments.  I love those little chess men for that.  There's nothing prettier than a nicely set up chess set to my eye.  Such a nice reminder.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ripped From the Pages of the Origami Resource Center

I presume you've hidden out in the bathroom from time to time.  I also presume you've forgotten to take in a magazine. 

Here's a little something to do while passing the time while providing an unexpected treat for the next person to come along. 

Let's just hope it's not one of those persons who doesn't want to spoil your special work and ends up using his/her sleeve.  That would ruin the specialness of your gift.  

Click here for detailed instructions:


Monday, August 2, 2010

Walt Oleksy -- Just Another Reason to Love Facebook

More than forty years ago, Walt Oleksy bounced in and out of my life.  Then less than a week ago, there he was again, friending me on Facebook!
He sat behind me in a bullpen at the Home Office of Allstate Insurance Company located in Northbrook, Illinois.  We were writers of various employee publications for the company and I loved it.  I did the Home Office publication "All Hands".   Walt hated it.  There were about four of us, maybe five.  All of us were happy except Walt.  
Never a corporate man, he’d slide his face down daily holding his cheeks with his enormous hands and would groan something like “Kill me, get me out of here now.” Often I couldn’t understand what he was saying because his face was smashed into his desk.  Most writers were thrilled with a steady paycheck to supplement their freelance work, but not Walt.  
Ultimately, I was never sure whether he was fired or if he quit or if it was something in between, but I talked to him on the phone afterwards one day, and he was blithely researching an article which involved a tennis racket and an ironing board as I recall.  He really didn’t like many people a lot, and men in suits weren’t people at all to him, I don’t believe.  
Then he hit his niche.  He wrote articles galore and something like thirty books.  He’d grab hold of a topic, work it like a pit bull, write a book then move on to another topic that was totally unrelated.  Here's a list:  http://www.ranker.com/list/walter-g-oleksy-books-and-stories-and-written-works/reference

He’s amazing and fascinating.  He has at least one website devoted to old movies, loves Errol Flynn, his dog and has lived in the same place, I think, for as long as I’ve known him. Eccentric, interesting, always ready with book recommendations, never married and nobody’s fool, Walt is worth keeping track of.  I found one of his books in a library once and then I found him on the web, got an email address somehow back when and we chatted a little but now this.  

I love Facebook for more reasons than Walt, but he’s reason enough.  What a guy.  I feel sorry for people Facebook scares.  Consider what they might be missing!