Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dream Snippets

My dreams are crazy when I'm ill. Most of them don't make any sense, but sometimes my dreams consist of snippets from the past. I'm not feeling well today, and have been doing a lot of sleeping. I just dreamed about some things that I did with my kids and the Camp Fire Boys & Girls. It was like reminiscing by dream, and actually quite pleasant. Some of those snippets in time follow.

I spread a clean white sheet on the living room floor. An extension cord was placed on the hot air popcorn popper, and it was placed in the middle of the sheet. I left the lid off the popper, gathered the kids around the popper in a circle--not too close so they didn't get hit with flying hot kernels. We let the popcorn explode all over the living room onto the white sheet and then ate the popcorn right off the floor.

Each spring the kids couldn't wait for the annual shave cream party. As soon as it was reasonably warm outside, we would gather the kids around the picnic table in the backyard. A blob of shave cream was placed in front of each child. The idea originally was to finger paint in the shave cream--but that never happened. It was much more fun to have a shave cream fight. When they were all covered with shave cream from head to toe, I'd grab the hose and hose them all down. Then one by one they were allowed to go back in the house and put on my old maternity smocks and Danny's old shirts. I sent their wet clothes home in plastic bags.

We were at Camp Fire camp (Camp Minaluta) one spring. One of the activities was to make masks of the kids' faces. One of the kids put plaster all over her face, but something went awry, and when the plaster dried it didn't come off like it was supposed to. I thought we were going to have to cut her out of the mask! The poor kid was more than a little frightened. In my dream I saw the panic in her eyes all over again.

The kids all loved to go canoeing in the lake at Camp Minaluta. The problem is that their fearless leader (me) was short, chubby, and prone to getting leg cramps. On one particular outing in the lake, the kids were having so much fun that they didn't want to go back to the dock for a long time. I didn't realize that my legs had fallen asleep. When we finally docked the canoe, the kids all jumped out and went all different directions, leaving the Camp Fire staff to try to get me and my heavy hiking boots out of the canoe. I think it would have been easier to dump the canoe upside down and let me swim to the surface!

I need to sleep some more. To sleep, perchance to dream.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Missionary Apple Pudding Cake with Rum Sauce

My home is open during the holidays. The kids were always told when they were in college that if someone didn't have someplace to go for a holiday to bring them home. We have often had the missionaries in our home for holidays. There is always lots of food, and even if someone comes at the last minute, we can set another place at the table. If I know ahead of time, I always ask if they have a special recipe that is tradition in their family, and then I try to accommodate.

A few years ago we invited the missionaries for Christmas dinner. We thought we were going to have two missionaries, but at the last minute we had six, and that was wonderful! I had asked the original two missionaries in advance if they wanted me to make anything special. Elder Nelson was dying for his Dad's "Apple Rum Cake." He gave me his Dad's e-mail address, and I requested the recipe. His Dad was pretty embarrassed and quickly called me to explain that he uses rum extract, not real rum. I laughed and told him that I had been sure that was the case. He e-mailed me the recipe--and it is out of this world! In honor of Elder Nelson and all those people who have been willing to share their holidays with us over the years, the recipe is below.


Cream together:

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine or oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift together and then add to the mixture above:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cloves
1/2 to 1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soda

Fold in:

6 apples coarsely shredded
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Put in 9" X 13" cake pan, bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or 25 degrees lower if glass pan.


1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons flour
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup whipping cream
(Can use milk to replace water and cream)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Over low heat, melt butter and stir in flour, salt, and sugar. Cook, gradually add hot water, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Add vanilla and cream, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and smooth. Stir over pudding. Recipe makes 1 1/3 cups.

Elder Nelson's father triples or quadruples the recipe for the sauce, but that's a LOT of sauce. I usually double it and still have some left over.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

You Can Make Anything into a Game

You can make anything into a game--so said my dad. Dad spent years showing us how. He'd say, "Want to have some fun?" We never learned to run when he said that . . . maybe because he really did make things into a game.

No matter what your occupation, there are going to be times you want to scream, and things you'd really rather not do, and maybe some things that bore you to tears. I actually love my job, but everyone has "those days."

Part of my job is to cite check my attorneys' briefs. This means that each time the attorneys cite to a case or a statute in a brief, I must find that citation in Westlaw or LexisNexis. I make sure that the citation is right, and I check to make sure that anything they have quoted from is quoted properly word for word. Most days this is a piece of cake . . . but then there are those other days when I'm bored to tears. I had one of those "other" days today, and I found myself making a game out of it.

I pictured my sisters sitting on either side of me, and I pretended that I was showing them how to cite check as training to take over my job. Bear in mind that anything that the three of us do together ends up with laughter until there are tears. I had this mental image of my older sister's shaky hands as she tried to type in the citation. I could hear in my head my younger sister cracking witty jokes about my older sister's shaky hands. I could hear them both laughing, one in each of my ears. I would say to them (in my head, of course), "It's just not that difficult, guys!" And then we would all laugh and laugh! I had that silly brief cite checked likity split--and it was fun because I made a game out of it.

I left the office ten minutes later than normal because of a meeting, and to make matters worse, traffic was heavier than usual delaying my commute another ten minutes. It was one of those nights that I had a choice: (1) get frustrated and watch the clock to see how much time I wasted on the freeway, or (2) turn the music up, sing along, and play a mind game. My sisters had been so much fun cite checking, that I pretended they were in the car with me. I cranked up the music, and then pretended to show them my traffic theory: go until you hit traffic, and then turn right. Again, I heard their laughter in my head every time I turned right. I walked in the door twenty minutes late, but relaxed and smiling.

I'm tired of my sisters now. I think I'll go to bed. What games will I come up with tomorrow? Maybe I can count the number of times I have to get out of my chair. Maybe I can take a survey of how many people in the office participate in casual Friday--or better yet, break the rules on casual Friday. Hmmm. I'm sure I'll think of something to make tomorrow fun.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I suppose we've all had those times of introspection. One day you wake up and wonder who you are and why you do what you do. Maybe you even wonder why you bother getting out of bed in the morning. The last couple of months have been an interesting journey for me. I've learned a few things about myself, my family, and my life. I'm not sure whether I had a mid-life crisis, or whether I just decided I'd had enough and needed a change. I'm sure some of it stemmed from depression which seems to run in the genes.

A long time ago I learned that the only way out of depression is to take the bull by the horns and change things--hey, it beats drugs. I need sunshine. Going for a drive by myself usually helps clear my mind so I can figure out what changes have to be made. Sometimes the necessary changes may seem selfish to others, and sometimes it means confrontation. Other times all that is required is taking some time for myself.

I'm not sure exactly what happened the last couple of months--maybe because I'm not completely on the other side of it yet. I can report on what I've learned so far.

1. I've reached a time in my life when I need to do something totally for me, regardless of what anyone else thinks, or how much time it takes. Thus, the blog. I've always wanted to write. I'm not kidding myself that I'll write anything that is of value to anyone but me, but I have hope that I will.

2. No matter what I do in my church calling, it's not going to make a difference--and I'm okay with that. I've prayed about it, I have a testimony of what I'm supposed to do, and I'm trying my best to follow through. Nobody listened to Noah either, and he was a great prophet. I certainly can't expect to do better than Noah.

3. My work is important to me. I'm part of a grand effort to save what is left of freedom in America and to salvage the Constitution. My part is a tiny part. I type what great minds think. But I'm extremely proud of the minuscule role I play. It's not important that my family comprehend this. I know it, and God knows it. No one else matters.

4. Mothers take more crap than they need to take. We get used to putting our own feelings on the shelf when the kids are small. Suddenly they are adults, and we are still putting them first. There's a time to stand up and say, "I've had enough, and I'm not going to take it anymore." Kids need to know that mothers are people too.

5. My family's happiness does not depend on me. It is up to each of them to find joy in their own lives. On those rare occasions when they ask for an opinion, I might be able to give one--scratch that--even if they ask, they really don't want to know. All I can really do is pray for them. It's between them and their maker.

6. No matter how hard things get, every day until I die is worthwhile. That is true because God has a plan for me. I know that God lives. I know that He sent His Son to do for me what I can't do for myself. I know that as long as I keep getting up in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other that when I leave this earth, I will live with Them. I know that! And that makes everything else okay.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Where am I?

My life is surrounded by old people. I married a man 12 years my senior, so most of our friends are older than me. My calling in church puts me in a position of getting to know the elderly in our ward. Some relatives are aging before my eyes. I'm forced to reevaluate my own life and where I am in reference to my life goals.

My aunt is 99, and we have friends in their 80's and 90's. A couple of days ago, a friend died at the age of 100. When I'm 80, 90, or 99, I hope I have half the wisdom that I see in these people. I feel so far behind. There is so much knowledge bottled up inside them -- I wish I could shake them like a soda bottle and explode some of that wisdom out onto me. I find myself picking their brains for any glimmer I can glean.

Someone said recently the worst mistake women make is to compare themselves to other women. To some extent I agree with that, but in other ways the comparison may be our call to action. The good we see in others can be ours if we put our minds to the task. Being wise isn't easy; it's God's challenge. We need to be careful, however, that we don't become depressed about our shortcomings. We should always strive for something higher, but not forget how far we've come.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Am My Father's Daughter

Some names and addresses have been changed to protect the innocent.

Some people have a real inability to remember names and faces. My father and I fit in that category.

My Dad sold life and health insurance. He had a policyholder by the name of Mr. Small. Dad could not remember Mr. Small's name to save him. To make matters worse, Mr. Small was Dad's banker. (Younger generation: People used to have personal bankers in the bank who they regularly dealt with regarding personal or business loans.) My sister, Cheri, was in college and learned all these tricks to remember things. She told Dad that when he saw Mr. Small, he should think about Mr. Small as a banker, and the smallest denomination of money is a penny. You guessed it, Dad walked up to Mr. Small in the grocery store and said, "Hello, Mr. Penny."

The last three years as Relief Society President, I've tried everything imaginable to remember names and faces. Nothing has worked. Recently, however, I discovered that when I see a sister I get a picture of her address in my head. I've been using that to my advantage. Such as: Gray-haired lady with big glasses = 12 Market Street. 12 Market Street = Sister Green. It has been working rather nicely--until this morning. I walked up to this little lady (and I know her name as well as my own--but it just didn't come to me) and asked her to give the closing prayer. Then I pictured her address--20 Elm Street. 20 Elm Street = Sister Black. I wrote on my cheat sheet: Closing prayer, Sister Black.

At the end of the meeting, I announced that the closing hymn would be hymn 139, and the closing prayer would be given by Sister Black. There was a disturbance, and another sister explained to me that it was not Sister Black, but Sister Brown. You see, Sister Brown used to live at 20 Elm Street and was Sister Black's roommate. Sister Brown recently moved to her own apartment. Thus Sister Black = 12 Market Street, and Sister Brown = 10 Huntington Place. After the meeting, I apologized to Sister Brown, and she graciously accepted my apology--but when I explained the mistake, she looked at me like I was a total nut case. Hmmm. I guess I am at that!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Friends come in all shapes and sizes. They are young, and they are old. You find them in the strangest places. Friends are found in school, at work, in church, at baseball games, and in clubs. I used to think that you had to meet someone and at least shake their hand to begin a friendship. That seemed logical, and I'm nothing if not logical.

A year or so ago my daughter encouraged me to open a Facebook account, and then some months ago I was encouraged at work to open a Twitter account. I began talking with complete strangers on the internet. It was odd for me at first. I wasn't sure what to say. As the months moved on, however, conversation became more natural. I listened to people's problems (in 40 characters or less). I began reading their blogs. Suddenly these funny made-up names on my computer screen became real people. I found myself actually caring about these people. We've rallied around each other as we've dealt with health issues, financial problems, a home that burned down, sick children, deaths in the family, raising children, staying connected with grandchildren, social issues, and our own struggles to be the kind of people we aspire to be. We've prayed for each other. We've prayed for each other's family members and friends.

As I began reading my internet buddies' blogs, I found a kind of friendship I've never before experienced. I read, I digested, I thought about, and then I responded. That's a novel concept, isn't it? When two people converse in the same room, how often do we stop to digest and think about what the other person says before we respond? Normal conversation seems to flow so quickly in this fast-paced world in which we live. Do we really listen to each other anymore?

Say what you will about social media. It can take up too much of our time if we allow that to happen. It can control our lives if we allow that to happen. Or social media can be a means of making us better people. We can learn from others. We can comfort others. We can develop bonds that reach beyond cyberspace and into human space.

Yes, friendship is found in a variety of places. Thank you Twitter and Facebook friends. I love you all.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

McNamara's Band

Dad loved St. Patrick's Day. He woke us up in the morning singing/yelling McNamara's band--or at least his own version of it because no one in my family ever sings the right words to any song. He would march around the house singing until we were all well awake. He wore an old green tie with a leprachaun's pipe on it.

Dad loved to make "magic" green pancakes, "magic" milk, "magic" milkshakes, and anything else he could dye green. I think St. Patrick's Day was his favorite day of the year. It was a day to be silly and have fun--no matter what else was going on in our lives. Dad was sure he was Irish, and had us all convinced that we were, but the jury is still out on that--and it's not looking good for the little leprachaun. It really doesn't matter, though, because on St. Patrick's Day everybody is Irish. Our hearts will always be in Ireland for Dad, no matter where the blood line goes.

Family members have all been talking today about how much we miss Dad on St. Patrick's Day. No matter how many years go by, St. Patrick's Day will never quite be the same without him.

Dad, as you look down on us, you might try learning the real lyrics to McNamara's Band. Love ya!

McNamara's Band

Oh! Me name is McNamara,
I'm the leader of the band.
Although we're few in numbers
We're the finest in the land.
We play at wakes and weddings
And at ev'ry fancy ball,
And when we play to funerals
We play the march from Saul.

Oh! The drums go bang,
And the cymbals clang,
And the horns they blaze away;
McCarthy pumps the old bassoon
While I the pipes do play;
And Hennessey Tennessee tootles the flute,
And the music is somethin' grand;
A credit to old Ireland is McNamara's band.

Oh! My name is Uncle Yulius and
From Sweden have I come,
To play with McNamara's band
And bear the big bass drum,
And when I march along the street
The ladies think I'm grand
They shout "There's Uncle Yulius
Playing with an Irish band"

Oh! I wear a bunch of shamrocks
And a uniform of green,
And I'm the funniest looking Swede
That you have ever seen.
There's O'Briens and Ryans
And Sheehans and Meehans
They come from Ireland, but by Yimminy
I'm the only Swede in McNamara's band.

Oh! The drums go bang,
And the cymbals clang,
And the horns they blaze away;
McCarthy pumps the old bassoon
While I the pipes do play;
And Hennessey Tennessee tootles the flute,
And the music is somethin' grand;
A credit to old Ireland is McNamara's band.

Written by O'Connor and Stanford

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gift of a Child

The topic of adoption is one that is close to my heart, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. My grandson, Michael, came to our family by way of adoption. My daughter, Molly, is fond of saying there are lots of ways for Heavenly Father to grow your family.

Molly and Jim wanted a family with all their hearts. There are hundreds of hoops to jump to adopt a child. It seems quite odd to me that we set a standard for adoptive parents that is about 100 times above the norm for those having children the old fashioned way. Before I became pregnant with my children, no one came to inspect whether my smoke alarms were working, whether I kept a knife caddy on the kitchen counter, or whether there were locks on the cupboards. No one asked me how much money I had in the bank, how I felt about college, or whether I would be a working mother. No one came to inspect the nursery, or ask me how many children I planned to put in the nursery at the same time. No one demanded that I be certified in CPR and take first aid classes. Yet, Molly and Jim were willing to make their lives an open book to perfect strangers in order to have this opportunity.

The adoption process has changed over the years, in an effort to make birth parents more comfortable with the process. I will take a lot of flack for saying this, but I personally don't believe that the changes have all been for the good. (Personal opinion is allowed--it's my blog--and some members of my own family don't agree with me.) It used to be that once an adoptive couple were cleared for adoption they were placed on a waiting list. When their number was up, a child was placed in their home. Now, in almost all cases the birth mother or the birth parents choose the adoptive couple. While this may be more comfortable for the birth parents, the reality is that we now have adoptive parents "selling themselves" to birth parents--who in most cases are quite young and immature. The adoptive couple's profile will be put on a website for the birth parents to view. I have personally seen things like, "We live five miles from Disneyland," and "We have season tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers." To their credit, Molly and Jim didn't buy into that. They took a chance at honesty and put up profiles that were a very honest picture of who they really are, and what type of parents they would make.

Birth parents are not only allowed, but encouraged to keep in contact with adoptive parents. Think about this please. Who are the parents? Who makes the decisions? Kids already try to undercut Mom's decision by going to Dad and vice versa. Now we're going to add one or two more people to the mix? What happens if the adoptive couple get a job transfer across country? Will they then be sued by the birth parents who thought they could show up on the doorstep every couple of weeks for visitation?

While Molly and Jim were open to a lot of options, fortunately, Michael's birth mother is a wonderful woman who saw the pitfalls of staying in Michael's life. We wrote a book for Michael to explain to him how he came to our family. In that book we refer to his birth mother as "Righteous Marci." Molly and Jim have some information about Marci that they are saving for a time when Michael may want to know more about her. Someday as an adult maybe Michael will want to find and thank Righteous Marci for the unselfish gift of family. For now, however, the only contact is occasional photographs which are sent to the adoption service in case Righteous Marci wants to see them.

Adoption is a gift of life. It is the most precious gift that any human being can give another. It may also be the hardest decision that anyone will ever make. My family has learned to respect these birth parents, sometimes very young, for the incredible awesome decisions they make. We have love in our hearts for them. We pray for them. We have hope for them. We have faith that the decisions they make, though most difficult, will be the best thing for their lives, and for the child's life.

Now for my shameless plug: I'd love to have more grandchildren. Molly and Jim are ready to grow their family again. If you know someone who is pregnant and looking at options, please give them this information:
e-mail: babywanted2love@aol.com
website: http://www.babywanted2love.com

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Good Neighbors

Harry and Alma were our next-door neighbors for many years. We met them the weekend we moved into our home. It was uncommonly chilly for Sacramento that May, and we were having difficulty lighting the pilot light on the furnace. I don't know why, but my husband went next door and introduced himself to Harry looking for help so that his pregnant wife wouldn't freeze. Little did he know that Harry installed the furnace for the previous owner, who was a single female. Actually, Harry knew our home like the back of his hand. (I'm sure he sometimes wished he didn't.)

Harry and Alma owned a farm in Kansas, and Harry was retired from Union Pacific Railroad. Alma's mother died when she was in the 8th grade, and she quit school to help her father raise her eight brothers and sisters. They were great people, and very devout Lutherans. Neither my parents, nor Danny's parents lived in California, so Harry and Alma became our "local" parents, and eventually an extra set of grandparents to our children.

The neighborhood gathering place on warm evenings was Harry's driveway. He would pull out his chair and one for Alma in the driveway. As neighbors would stop by, he'd pull out a few more chairs. In the daytime the driveway was home to all the kids in the neighborhood. Roller skates, skate boards, bicycles -- all skills were learned in that driveway -- and many bicycle repairs.

On those days when I'd had enough of motherhood and even had enough of Danny, I'd run next door and pour my heart out to Alma who was nothing if not a good listener. By the time I'd leave Alma's house, I was ready to face anything.

Harry became the official "go to guy" anytime we were doing a household project. I love Danny, but he is almost as bad at household projects as my father -- and that takes a lot of effort. Harry was incredibly patient with Danny. On one occasion after Harry got too old to actually do the work, I went to get him, sat him on a chair in my garage, and said, "Okay, Harry. You're going to sit there and tell me how to fix this dryer." He walked me through the process of taking off the back of the dryer, cleaning out the lint, changing a belt, and putting it all back together again. I thought that Harry was helping me, but I soon realized that Harry felt useful again, and that was a big deal for him.

I remember when I was pregnant with Ezra (3rd in the lineup of 4). I was so sick. Molly and Hannah would just wear me out. One day after lunch I sent the girls out in the front yard to play, while I laid on the couch and watched them through the big picture window in our living room. It wasn't long before Harry pulled out his chair from his garage and pulled it up far enough so that I could see him. He motioned for me to go to sleep, and that he would watch the girls. This went on every day for several more weeks until Ezra was finally born. I can't tell you how much I appreciated that nap!

Harry always wore coveralls (habit from his railroad days). My sister sent a couple of pairs of coveralls in a bag of hand-me-downs, and Molly was in heaven because she could dress like Harry. Molly wore coveralls for the longest time -- with a San Francisco Giants baseball cap on backwards (and usually covering her eyes).

I could tell that Harry had always ruled his household, and what he said was law in his home. I think he got quite a kick out of the fact that I stood up to Danny. On many occasions I would see him turn his head and chuckle when I'd give Danny whatfor about some household project or something that I disagreed with Danny about. I'm probably the first female he ever knew that didn't wimp out at the sound of a man's voice. I think Alma learned a little from me in that regard, as well. She got a little fiesty there at the end.

All my kids loved Harry and Alma. Ezra was completely devastated when Harry died. I don't think I've ever seen a kid cry that much at a funeral. Harry's family felt really sorry for Ezra that day. The kids helped me tie a yellow ribbon around Harry's tree the day he died. It wasn't long after that Alma left us too. I sit at my computer ever single day on Harry's chair. It's old. It hurts my backside. But I won't give up Harry's chair. Oh how I miss them!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We Were Tough

They grew 'em tough when we were kids. Kids are pretty much wimps these days. Bandaids? Who needed 'em? We'd spit on the wound and hold it tight until the blood stopped. If we couldn't stop the blood, Mom would say, "Go put some cold water on it." Now kids not only need a bandaid, but they have to have one with a cartoon figure on it.

Mosquito bites were treated by Dad's method: taking your fingernail and making an "X" on the bite to stop the itching, or Mom's method: spraying it with Right Guard. Toothaches were treated with a cotton ball or a rag soaked in whiskey or brandy. Athlete's feet was treated by pouring Listerine over your feet. If you had acne, you steamed your face over the teapot to open the pores, then washed your face with rubbing alcohol, and then ice cubes were put on your face to close the pores. Kids now think they have to have $500 worth of cosmetics to do the same thing!

Our dentist, Dr. Miller, would smoke big old black cigars and then put his fingers in your mouth. Gloves you say? Dentists didn't wear gloves back then! Dad loved Dr. Miller because he'd have his nurse send an index card in the mail as the bill. Dad would mail in $5.00, and in another six months or so "Nita" would send him another index card. The bill would be paid eventually -- usually just in time for another round of teeth to be pulled.

When my kids were little, Dad and Mom would come to visit when they could. While he was here, Dad would buy a small bottle of whiskey for his evening drink. He couldn't drive home with an open bottle, so he'd leave the bottle in my spice cabinet for "when the kids get a toothache." I have one of the last bottles of Dad's stock, a partial bottle of brandy. I was saving it for teething grandchildren, but my kids would think it was abuse. I guess I'll save it for some other great occasion -- they wouldn't take my temple recommend if I drank it the day Danny dies, would they? Well, maybe they would. Maybe I'll save it for when I'm dying of cancer or something. Trust me Dad -- I'll think of something -- just for you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

If Ye Are Prepared . . . .

One of the sweetest memories of my childhood is sitting on my Dad’s lap in front of a warm fire while he read to me from the Bible. I didn’t understand everything that he read, but I knew that it was important to him, and that made it important to me. Dad would stop occasionally, think about what he had read, and then try to paraphrase in words that he thought I would understand, or that would have meaning to me. Sometimes he would tell a personal story to emphasize a point, or remind me of something that happened during the week that demonstrated what the scripture said.

2 Timothy 3:15 says, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Even though I didn’t understand some of what Dad read to me, I learned to love the Bible. After we joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that love of the Bible carried over naturally to the love of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.

I’m not well versed in the scriptures, and probably never will be. My children will attest to that. I do have a love for the scriptures, and a testimony that you can find answers by reading them. President Eyring of the First Presidency of the Church said, “The Holy Ghost confirms to us the word of God when we read it. That confirmation, repeated often, strengthens our faith. And it is by faith that we overcome obstacles and resist temptation.”

We have seen many natural disasters in the last few years, including the recent earthquakes around the globe. I admit to being just a little superstitious. I was born in an earthquake, and there’s a tiny part of me that figures I just might die in an earthquake. I know that’s silly, but some people are afraid of spiders, and that could be considered silly too. From the scriptures: “I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” Doctrine & Covenants 38:30 (emphasis added). My family has prepared for earthquakes and other natural disasters, and our preparations are ongoing. We have 72-hour kits (including scriptures). We are reworking an outdated emergency plan. And yes, preparation does make fear go away.

Aside from natural disasters, I hope we have prepared our kids to resist temptation and evil in the world around them through the power of the scriptures. I hope that even though I struggle sometimes understanding the scriptures, we have instilled in our children a love of the scriptures as my father did in me. My father gave me a great gift for which I will always be grateful.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

American Tradition Wiped Out

Cell phones and texting have ruined a great American tradition. I'm alone in the house this morning, and it's very quiet. The birds outside (and the one inside) are the only disturbance to that quiet. The dog isn't even chasing any squirrels up the tree. In my mind I expected to hear any minute a mother standing in her driveway calling her children home for lunch. Then I realized that I haven't heard a Mom do that in a very long time! All the kids have cell phones now. Moms just call or text the kids when lunch is ready, or when they've worn out their welcome at a neighbor's home! A great sadness came over me. Yet another American tradition is wiped out in an instant.

I remember my mother yelling for me when I was out riding my bicycle. Oh, and the cow bell! When we were at the family cabin, the kids would hike all over the hillside. Mom knew that her voice would not carry as far as we could hike, so she instituted the cow bell rule. When Mom wanted us to come back to the cabin, she would ring the cow bell. No matter where we were or what we were doing, when the cow bell rang we were to drop everything and get back to the cabin. My sister (not the best hiker) wanted to see this beautiful meadow that my grandfather talked about. One day she decided that she would attempt to hike that far. She was almost there. As I recall, she just had one little ridge to get over -- and the cow bell rang through the air. I don't believe Cheri ever saw the meadow. She gave up after that.

These are memories that our grandchildren won't have. They may not even remember the sound of their mother's voice at all -- they'll only have a mind's eye of a text message. How sad!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mid-Life Splurge

My mother liked milk glass -- you know, those white dishes that were so popular in the 1950's and 1960's. Mom had some nice pieces, and she took care of some milk glass for someone else for a number of years (long story). I was never into dishes as a kid. Maybe it's because I know that anything I touch gets broken.

I inherited a few pieces of Mom's milk glass. I'm not sure why, but they grew on me. A few years ago I began to collect a piece or two here and there. I found some pieces that I liked in thrift stores and garage sales. I placed a $5.00 limit on my little hobby--which worked for a while. Then I discovered a few pieces that I really liked, and I stretched the $5.00 limit somewhat.

There came a day when I decided that I've never done anything crazy in my life. I've never collected anything. I don't really have any hobbies. Danny is retired, and I'm still working. By golly, if I want a piece of milk glass, and I can afford it, I'm going to have it. I began buying a piece or two throughout the year, saving them for Christmas, and then wrapping them up and putting them under the tree from Danny.

Then I discovered eBay. You have no idea how much milk glass is out there! I bought more milk glass. I was ready to quit for a while because the things that I wanted were getting more expensive than I thought I could justify. Hannah decided to get married, and I could now justify buying some nice milk glass pieces so that we could display all the food at the reception on beautiful milk glass. I had so much fun at that wedding!

As I sit here tonight at my computer, I can look up to my right and see three shelves on the wall full of beautiful white dishes. If I turn around, I can see the buffet in the living room filled to capacity with more beautiful white dishes. I can walk out into my family room and find more milk glass in the china cabinet, as well as on top of the china cabinet.

Each piece of glass is beautifully crafted. Some collectors just collect a certain type of milk glass or glass made by a certain company. It doesn't matter to me; it's all beautiful. I have hobnail, grape patterns, leaf patterns, and plain glass. Some pieces have clear glass "ruffles" around the edges. I have dinner plates, goblets, dessert plates, bowls, banana boats, butter dishes, vases, a punch bowl, a platter, a "hen on a nest", a cookie jar, toothpick holders, and compotes. My very favorite piece is a little honey server that I found at Goodwill for $2.00. It's just as cute as a button!

Do I need this milk glass? No, I could do without it. There came a time in my life when I decided that I had scrimped and saved all my life. I have lived very frugally. I've cut out cardboard and placed it in my shoes so that my kids could have new ones. I've recycled old furniture to make new furniture. Baby changers turned into extra closet shelves. A doll house turned into nick knack shelves for a teenager. Catsup (or ketchup if you prefer) was watered down to make it go further. Expensive orange juice was mixed with less expensive lemonade to make it last longer. Milk was added to scrambled eggs. Toothpaste tubes were squeezed tight and then cut open to remove the last little bit from the inside of the tube. I wore sandals 12 months of the year because they were cheap. I wore hand-me-down clothes. I didn't have a warm coat for years.

So for now, I'm going to look around at this milk glass and enjoy it. I don't feel guilty about any of it. I earned it. We're not stingy with our money. Charities love us. But this one thing I'm going to enjoy with no guilt. My kids are raised, my bills are paid, the pantry is full, we've provided for the future, and now I'm going to play a little. There are limits, however. Every piece I buy has to have a purpose. I haven't purchased the lavabo on eBay for that reason. I just can't quite figure out exactly what its useful purpose would be in my home -- but I'm thinking.

Picture above is from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Strangers in My Photo Albums

A while back my sister-in-law was asking for pictures for an upcoming family event. I found myself flipping through old albums that are falling apart and pictures in a bin that never even made it into albums . . . in my next life. There was one album missing, which bothered me because it is an album that my daughter-in-law, Rachel, put together as a surprise for Danny and me three years ago for our 30th anniversary. I didn't have time to tear up the house looking for it, so I resigned myself to the fact that it didn't have legs and would turn up eventually.

A few days later as I was getting ready for work, out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of the familiar brown spine of the album in the avalanche that is my dresser . . . in my next life.

I flipped through the album on a quick trip down memory lane. The pictures above are our engagement picture (November 1976), and a wedding picture (December 18, 1976). All the way to work I kept thinking about the pictures in that album. Who the heck are those people? They are pictures of Danny and me, but really -- who are they? I don't remember those people. Are we getting old? I don't feel old -- well minus arthritis, healing broken bones, and the occasional tremor in my hands. As I thought about the pictures, there was one picture that made me smile. The picture below was taken by my friend Cecelia the day my family was sealed in the Oakland Temple for time and all eternity. That day was December 18, 1993.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Porter Rockwell Attraction

Those of you who have been following my blog have most likely figured out by now that I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (you call us Mormons). I don't think it's possible to be a member of the church and not be fascinated with church history.

Most people, however, are fascinated by Joseph and Emma Smith, Brigham Young, Parley Pratt, etc. If you ask any Mormon who they are most fascinated with when they study church history, I'm betting they are not going to say Porter Rockwell. So why does this man have such a hold on me?! When I die, the first person I want to meet (after the reunion with family members, of course) is Porter Rockwell. I want to know what makes this person tick.

Porter Rockwell was the self-appointed body guard for Joseph Smith. Later, it became his calling. He was quite an interesting man, and nothing like the "executive secretaries" with dark suits, white shirts, ties, and an ear piece who protect our living prophet, President Monson. Porter Rockwell was a gun toting, rough and tumble kind of guy who may not always have been on the right side of the law, but was always on the right side of the prophet.

Why was he so loyal to Joseph Smith? Was he ever perplexed by the controversy surrounding him? Did the controversy ever bother him? How did he reconcile the controversy in his mind? Did he ever have regrets? Did he understand his important role in the restoration of the gospel by protecting Joseph Smith, or did he protect Joseph out of boyhood friendship and because he was the prophet?

When studying history, it is always important that we don't judge people by modern day standards. Standard behavior in 2010 is not the same standard by which people in the 1830's and 1840's lived. Most men did carry guns, and they had no problem protecting their loved ones by using them. It was the Porter Rockwell types in this country who made it possible to settle the west.

Maybe my fascination with the man is because he was a rebel. I'm certainly a rebel. He was misunderstood. I can relate to being misunderstood. Porter marched to the tune of a different drummer. My sister once told me that my theme song should be, "I've Gotta Be Me." Rockwell was as loyal as they come. My friends know that if they want more loyal a friend than me, they better get a dog.

Yep. I have a whole lot of questions for Brother Rockwell. Maybe he'll be my "escort" when I meet Joseph and Emma Smith and Brigham Young. I wonder if I can put in my order now.

Picture available through Wikipedia. Wikipedia reports copyright has expired.