Thursday, June 30, 2011

Virtue and the United States of America

It is nearing the 4th of July; my favorite holiday next to Christmas. I love this country and treasure the opportunity to celebrate its founding. I cry at patriotic parades when the flag passes by, or when military men and women, in their dress uniforms, salute that cloth of red, white, and blue. I feel the sacredness of Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. America is a land well founded.

I've worried of late for this country's future. It seems over the last few years we're had political leaders question the validity of what the Founding Fathers struggled to establish. The men who drafted the Constitution of the United States did so with intense study and debate. They knew that this forged document and the country it represented could only survive if the people of the United States were virtuous, and they looked to the home, the school, and the churches to fuel the fires of virtue from generation to generation. I fear that public and private virtue are in decline in the USA.

In his Farewell Address, George Washington declared:

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens...Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education...reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quilts for all Occasions

I always look forward to the 4th of July.

Every year we spend it at the Nephi Carnival. We have done this for many years. The biggest things I look forward to are of course, the crafts and home baked items at the Country Store, but even more than that is the quilt auction.

For an entire year the Relief Society women though out the Mona and Nephi Wards work at making quilts of all shapes and sizes to auction off at this carnival. The money raised from the auction then goes to support a local fund raiser so the women themselves do not get the return of the funds. The women simply do this for the love of quilting and for the love of serving others.

The quilts are a sight to behold. Surely they are some of the most beautiful quilts I have ever seen. I admire the women who do such incredible work. Some day (and I tell myself this every single year, I plan to be the proud owner of one of those gorgeous quilts!)

As I think of those lovely women who work endlessly year after year, I think of an incredible quilt at my parents home that was made with those loving hands.

The women in my mother’s ward got together and made a quilt for her when she was so ill with cancer. They each put their name on a heart that was then sewn onto the quilt in a border around the edges of the quilt. When that precious gift was presented to my mother, it was given with a book of letters from each of the woman who had written their names on those hearts. Quilts may bring comfort to us physically, but they have a way of uplifting us to great heights spiritually as well. I know that quilt did for my mother. She cherished that quilt and those letters to her dying day.

My mother and my grandmother both crocheted afghans that I absolutely cherish because of the loving hands that stitched them. I don’t have that gift. Now that both of these women have passed, those blankets are very sentimental to me. I have had them for years.

I had an aunt that taught me how to tie a quilt as a young teenager and I still have it. I love the time I spent with my aunt Jacklin learning to tie my very first quilt. Every time I see that quilt I think of her, She too has gone and miss her.

When my son and his wife were married, I was thrilled when they received so many quilts for wedding gifts. (I would have loved to take a few of them home with me!) I realize the love that went into making those quilts for them. Now, as we travel to see them, those are the quilts they share with us on our visits. Seeing them brings back such wonderful memories of their wedding day. I love those memories and I love the memories we are making as a family each time we get together.

Last summer we went to Martin’s Cove and learned of a touching story that had quite an impact on me.

There was a women traveling to Salt lake who had made it to Martin’s Cove and lost her husband during the freezing cold night. She couldn’t bear the thought of the ravaging wolves digging up her husband from the shallow grave so she begged the men to wrap him in her quilt and tie him high in the trees where the wolves couldn’t get to him. As they left the following morning, she turned back just before they round the bend and looked back. The last thing she saw was her husband up in the tree in her best quilt. (I believe some of the men were to go back later and bury him when the ground would be thawed enough for them to dig into.) I admire the faith and the strength of our early pioneers I love them for their examples of courage. I can’t think of this story without tears in my eyes and a stab at my heart.

Now, as my father-in-law is retired, he and my mother-in-law have started doing such a wonderful thing. This year as each grandchild has a birthday, he/she receives a homemade quilt made especially for them by their grandparents. My son Bryan says it’s the most comfortable (and the coolest) quilt he has ever had. I do believe he’s right! So much time and effort has gone into that gift. It was truly a gift from the heart and one that was very much appreciated. I know how meaningful it was to Bryan’s parents for him to receive such a gift. We know the effort that went into it. And we love them for taking the time.

As my son has had brain surgeries at Primary Children’s Medical Center, he has been given blankets, and we have had quilts brought for our use as we have had numerous stays at the hospital with our son. We have been grateful for not only the warmth they brought but the comfort they provided when we needed something to hold onto when we felt fear and heartache.

Now as I try to tie all these different thought together…

Last Saturday our Ward did a day of service. It was in dedication to the many ward members we have had experience with different types of cancer. We asked them what we could do to help be of service. From their suggestions, we did hygiene kits, yard work, scarves, treats for family members in waiting rooms, rice warming bags, activity kits for PCMC, and we made blankets.

I was working with the women who made blankets to send to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and to PCMC. I couldn’t help but think how much my own family, especially myself has benefited from those. I hope the blankets we made will be of comfort to those hearts and hands that they will reach.

To end this post I found a great poem about quilts written by: Terrie Johnson

“The Tattered Quilt”

A tattered quilt hangs by my bed
Upon an antique stand
My mind drifts back to years before
As the quilt falls on my hand.
Stitched with care and bound with love
A work of art indeed
This dear old quilt has been my friend
No matter what the need.

I still recall with memory sweet
How this quilt came to me
It was upon a Christmas morn
It lay wrapped beneath the tree.
As I opened up this precious gift
My eyes filled with tears
I realized this gift contained
The work of many years.

One day as we sat snug within
My quilt and watched it rain
I asked my gramma, “Why for me?”
And thus she did explain,
“I wanted you to have this quilt
For when you’re feeling down
I wanted you to have this quilt
When you move from town to town.”

“So if you’re feeling lonely
Or if you’re feeling sad
Just wrap yourself inside this quilt
And things won’t seem so bad.
No matter where you go in life,
No matter what you feel,
This quilt will be here for you
It’s something that is real.”

Oft times I’ve sat with my dear quilt
And thought of words she said
I realize that when she spoke
She spoke of years ahead.
For now that older I have grown
I have just come to see
My gramma is my quilt indeed
She’s always there for me.

As for myself, I wish I could thank the many people who made the quilts throughout my life that lifted my heart and comforted me with not only warmth but somehow brought me solace when I needed it the most.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More things I love about the Kindle

It seems my husband read my last post ( because he bought me a Kindle as an early birthday present. Love him!
So now that I actually have a Kindle, I have discovered a whole lot more things which are wonderful about it.

  • It remembers which page you are on, and when you open a book you were reading previously, it automatically opens at that page; no more scrabbling in your bag for a bus ticket to use as a bookmark. And it does this for all your books, so if you're reading two or three at once, each one will open at the page you last read.

  • I can email any PDF document to it very easily by just sending it to my Kindle's email address, and it then appears with my list of books. (Although I have found PDF documents to be most readable in 14 font, 1.5 line spacing and A5 size.)

  • I can download free samples of any book I am thinking of buying. Usually this means the first two chapters. I'm finding that by the time I get to the end of the free sample, and the screen offers me the chance to buy the full book in two clicks, I can tell whether I want to read the rest or not.

  • There are hundreds and hundreds of free books on offer, many of the classics - Jane Austen, WM Thackeray, Charles Dickens - among them. I'm currently reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for the first time.

  • Prior to getting the Kindle, buying a typical LDS book meant ordering online from Deseret Book and paying $14.99 for the book plus DB's standard international shipping rate of $25. I can now download books by the august ladies listed to my right for about $10.

  • I downloaded the scriptures onto my Kindle for £1.41. Cheapest set of scriptures I ever bought. And I can mark my favourite passages, add notes, and have the Kindle look up difficult words (as I can with all the books on my Kindle).

I've never met anyone with a Kindle who doesn't love it, and while I'm still getting used to mine, I'm discovering more and more wonderful features.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Climb Every Mountain

This past week I had the opportunity to help take our Laurels to a nearby canyon for a rappelling adventure. Originally, four of our girls were planning on participating. By the actual day of this activity, we were down to two who could still attend. Both girls are remarkable young ladies, but one has faced tremendous challenges. Her name is Sam, short for Samantha. She was in a horrible car accident about 8 months ago. Comatose for a time, she has fought an intense battle to regain abilities and skills most of us take for granted. She is still waging war on a daily basis against obstacles like double vision. I have no doubt that she will conquer these trials--she is a determined young woman and it is amazing to see the progress she has made.

Sam was an honor student in the past, and it was not surprising to me to see her name back on that same honor roll this past May at the end of the school year. She is also playing the piano for us in Y. W. again although she usually accomplishes this task by keeping one eye closed. She is a wonderful example of perseverance and courage and the light of Christ shines from her eyes when she shares her testimony of those things that matter most.

As we stood together, waiting for her turn to tackle the mountain on Saturday, she told me something I will always try to remember. She was sharing her secret for succeeding in life. It is simply this: "If I do well at something like cooking, I enjoy my efforts. If I'm not thrilled by what I've done, I can either accept it as is and be grateful for it, or try again and improve. The main thing is to be happy."

I suspect that is the key in life. We all face trials in this mortal realm. It's part of why we're here, part of our growing and learning process. Our attitude will determine how well we will do. Sam's positive mindset has helped her overcome tremendous challenges this past year. I was visiting with Sam and her mother at the hospital on a day when a physical therapist was trying to help Sam relearn to walk up steps. I was so touched by how hard Sam concentrated on lifting her foot, one step at a time. Ironically, I had brought her a framed picture that afternoon, something that has hung in a place of honor on the wall of my computer room for several years. It shows someone walking up a golden staircase, one step at a time. I had originally bought that picture to help remind me that all things are possible when we believe in ourselves. After the accident, I  purchased a new frame for it, and presented it to Sam, knowing of the challenges she faced at the time.

I thought of that picture again on Saturday as I tearfully watched Sam climb up the face of a mountain, step by step. I was not at all surprised when she reached the top, grinning over her victory that day. I know it took a tremendous effort for her to accomplish that feat. At one point, one of her legs began to tremble uncontrollably, but she ignored it, and continued to push herself, determined to conquer this challenge. The joy in her step at she rappelled down that same mountain several minutes later was obvious to us all. She had successfully attained a goal, believing in herself every step of the way. And to me, that is the secret of living this life to the fullest.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Words! Anna has blogged lately about words she dislikes (swearing) and words that just feel good to say. Most writers I know have a bit of love/hate relationship with words and I'm no exception. One word I like to use is also one that I consider a plot killer. Try saying deus ex machina.

Deus ex machina has a literal meaning something like mechanical god. It comes from ancient Greek plays where the characters would get themselves in all kinds of trouble, then a "god" would be mechanically lowered via ropes to rescue the protagonist from the villain and/or evil.

Unfortunately this device still shows up on occasion in modern novels. When I was a member of the Romance Writers of America, I often heard this type of resolution to a romance dilemma referred to as the "man or a miracle" resolution and it poked fun at the heroine that had to be rescued from a threatening situation by the male hero or some type of miraculous intervention. In other novels we see deus ex machina occur when some insignificant character, a brand new character, a coincidence, or a heavenly manifestation provides a rescue for the protagonist. That may happen in real life, but there are a lot of things that happen in real life that don't work well in fiction.

When outside intervention or a miracle resolves the conflict, the reader is left feeling cheated. Yes, miracles occur in real life and can be used to help bring about the resolution (think prayer, inspiration, the discovery of a possible solution), but should not upstage the protagonist to the point he or she has no part in saving him or herself. That's what protagonists, heroes, and heroines are all about; growing, stretching, persisting, out smarting, exercising faith, etc. That's one of the vicarious thrills of reading, being able to identify with someone like ourselves who succeeds against tough odds.

Today's reader expects the protagonist to dig deep and find his/her own strength or solution. This strength may include faith, the will to live, determination to save someone else, intellectual prowess, or countless other forms of physical or emotional strengths. No more cavalry to the rescue. No more helpless heroines. Yes, the protagonists can receive help through insight, by aiding each other, from an outside source that is already a pertinent part of the story, through the use of a devise already introduced, but never because the author has written him/herself into a corner and can't think of anything better than a miracle to effect a rescue.

I was part of a group once where someone asked author Dan Yates what he thought was the most important element in writing a novel. His answer? "Words!" I've always kind of liked that answer. Words are the bricks and mortar of a novel, but the words that define what we do with those words make the difference between whether the end result is a story or a shopping list.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thoughts on Becoming Chronologically Challenged

I was blessed with an incredible amount of natural energy. I've been accused of emulating Wonder Woman because I could accomplish so much due to numerous to-do lists and that natural energy. Now that I've passed that magical 70 mark, someone has waved a magic wand and changed everything! There are days I'm absolutely certain someone has poked a hole in my big toe and in some mysterious way, drained all of that energy.

The mind is a terrible thing to lose, and something is happening to mine. Did someone cast a spell on me to make me forget what I knew just yesterday? Why? I'm harmless. I have no power to wield anywhere that would require a memory loss to prevent national secrets from becoming known.

And what happened to my hands? Once my fingers were strong - sometimes (not often) even graceful. Now they are being attacked by an insidious monster called arthritis and are becoming grotesquely misshapen. They are not totally there yet, but have begun that transformation into something unrecognizable on the ends of my arms.

I bring this up because these last two weeks, I've recognized my mortality in an unpleasant way. We have a choir director who believes in miracles. She chooses pieces for our little ward choir to sing that the Tabernacle Choir made sound absolutely glorious. All 300 plus voices! And she expects similar results from the dozen and a half - sometimes a few more - adventurous souls who take up her challenges.

This time it's an incredible piece with a four-hand accompaniment. You have to understand, I'm a Relief Society pianist who had to learn to play the organ many years ago because there wasn't anyone else to do it in our tiny ward. I play the hymns. I practice a lot to be able to play the pedals. You know the more you practice, the better you get, right? Yes --- until last year. Then my eye-hand-foot coordination began diminishing and it took a lot more practice to coordinate those three items.

Back to the choir and the four-hand accompaniment. There are three of us in our ward who play - the other two are much better than I am, but one just had a baby and moved into a new home. That left me as the other two hands. Now the piece is really not THAT difficult. But the tempo is! I choose the easiest part - the lower hands - so I have chords: LOTS OF CHORDS! CHORDS THAT MUST BE PLAYED VERY FAST!

So I practice, and I play it again, and again, and again. I've gone to the church to play it on the piano we will be using (for those of you who play, you KNOW how different pianos are!) The other two hands and mine got together to practice (after I had already spend many hours on this piece plus one hour just before I went to her house.) Do you know what happened? My mind took a mini-vacation and my hands couldn't find all the right notes without it.

It was just like being in the Senior MTC again learning Armenian. At the end of the day's lessons, I'd have those words and phrases down cold - until the next morning when it was time to review what we'd learned the day before. What words? They must be in the recesses of my mind somewhere, but nowhere retrievable at that moment when I needed them.

These are the tricks that some diabolical entity plays on you as the years accumulate. I'm not Wonder Woman anymore. I'm totally human. And totally dependent on Heavenly Help to cover all my deficiencies. Definitely makes a person humble.And that's a good thing in the long run.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Puppy Power

We have a new member of the family. A precious pup called Coco Beans. It is our daughter's dog and she's darling. She reminds me of a little Ewok from Star Wars. She is full of puppy personality and spunk. She may be small, but she's mighty. She isn't afraid of the vacuum, or bigger dogs, or people. In fact, when it comes to people, she acts like a magnet.

My husband and I tagged along the other day as our daughter went to Wal Mart to pick up some mini dog biscuits and a few new toys. (Can a new baby ever have too many toys?) Coco Beans tagged along too. I was holding her most of the time and it was fascinating to me how many people came right over to oooh and awwhh over her, ask her name, and pet her. I expected this with moms and children, but it happened with teenage boys, older couples, and men who looked like they worked construction. The cutest conquest was a young couple who's outward appearance would most likely scare a police officer: spiked blue hair, black lipstick, and piercings in facial places that looked painful. This cute couple made the same goo goo sounds when they approached as the construction guy, and Coco Beans gave them the same unconditional puppy love as she had the little girl in the Hello Kitty dress. It was a touching interchange.

Unconditional love. The sweetness of that little fur ball went right past the outward appearance and straight to the heart. It showed me that no matter what walls and facades we put up, we all have soft little hearts that want to love and be loved.

Perhaps we should all carry around puppies.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father's Day With A New Tradition

How grateful I am that I have my father here to celebrate Father's Day with!

This year our whole family did something a little different with Father's Day and boy did we have a blast!

Unfortunately we don't get together nearly as often as we should or would like to.

I have heard the family express their disappointment about this but it seems that the opportunity is never taken to do anything about it. My dad has especially expressed how much it means to him when his family gathers around him, and how sad he is that we just don't do it often enough. I decided maybe we could change that. Everyone agreed.

One day about a month and a half ago I was visiting with my dad when he had told me how overwhelmed he had felt with his yard work this year. He has had some back problems that was affecting his leg and hip and couldn't see how he could possibly get the yard work done this year. (Dad has quite a large yard and I wouldn't be able to keep up with it,even feeling my best, let alone having health issues...)

This was a perfect opportunity for the family to come together. Everyone jumped at the chance.

For Father's Day we all went to Dad's to do his entire yard. We had family memebers come from Idaho, and even some came in motor homes the previous night to get an early start. Others came at various times to offer any time they possibly had to give. But everyone had to travel over an hours drive to get there so this was not going to be a quick trip to grandpa's house.

We planted flowers, which we all pitched in and paid for, we planted vegetables, we replaced railroad ties in borders, pulled weeds, mowed and trimmed the lawn, and filled in and planted a pond area. At the end of the work we had a big family BBQ. The food was incredible-- the company even better! :)

I think the thing that stood out in my mind the most was having the family pulling together in one purpose. Kids, grand kids and great grand kids, one and all, participated. We laughed, we worked, and we thoroughly enjoyed being together. The weather even gave us a hand. It had rained all week long and had finally let up for that one day. The sun was shining so brightly that our white winter skin even got a little color! It was an amazing experience for all who participated. In fact, it was so nice, I'm ready to do it again.

The real reward for me though, was seeing the gratitude in my father's eyes. He walked around, helping every which way he possibly could, but his heart was full of gratitude. He was speechless each time he tried to express how much it all meant to him.

Within a few days, each family received the sweetest heartfelt thank you written by my dad that I will always cherish. You would have thought we gave him the world.

I am so very grateful to my father whom I know would do-- and has done everything for me. He has always been such a tremendous example and influence in my life. I sure love you, dad!

I'm also grateful for my husband who is such a wonderful father to my boys. I have always said he's my own Prince Charming and I think I am the luckiest girl in the world.

I now thrill at the sight of seeing my oldest boy being a father himself to my adorable little grandson. My other son isn't too far behind. As a teenager he is growing up too fast for my comfort zone.

I have much to be thankful for as I have each of these generations of men/Father's in my life. All are heroes in their own way to me. I honor each of them.

I certainly hope that with as much fun as we had celebrating Father's Day as a family that it can become a new tradition for many years to come!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why I want a Kindle

by Anna Jones Buttimore

Cheri blogged yesterday about an advantage of the Kindle - being able to change the text size. I'm currently weighing up whether or not to buy one, and that's something for my "For" list.

Thus far, the list looks something like this:

No trying to fit books onto already overloaded shelves.
Fits easily into my handbag for instant reading anywhere.
Lots of free classic books for immediate download - including the scriptures!
Lighter than a book, yet it can hold up to 3,900 books. (Especially important since we're going on holiday to Majorca next month and my baggage allowance is only 15kg, so I can't take any books.)

Second-hand books in charity shops are cheaper than Kindle editions, as are many bargain paperbacks.
My husband thinks the technology will quickly become out of date and I will be replacing my Kindle every year or so. (I disgree...)
I'm limited to buying books from Amazon. (But I buy all my books from Amazon anyway...)
If I read a good book on the Kindle, I can't then lend it to a friend. (And can't then forget which friend I lent it to, and thus lose it and have to go out and buy it again.)
If I lose it, I lose my entire book collection. (Except that they are backed up on Amazon so I can download them for free when I buy a new one.)

As you can see, I'm really tending towards "For". Only downside is that we just don't have the money to justify it right now. But they were there, on the shelf in Tesco, when I did my weekly shopping yesterday. It took every ounce of willpower not to put one in my trolley. I drooled for a few moments and then pressed on round the shop. The blow was when I got to the checkout and discovered that I had spent £111 on my family's food for the week. About average, for us, but in a cruel ironic twist, exactly the price of the Kindle I had so nearly bought.

We could all do with losing some weight, I wonder if they'd mind if I bought a Kindle rather than food next week?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Books vs. E-Books

Not long ago I wrote a post that discussed books vs. e-books. At that time I was of the opinion that books were the only way to go. I still prefer reading in that format, but I've since seen a side of the e-book craze that is quite positive.

My mother has a form of macular degeneration and her sight has been deteriorating the past couple of years. She has always enjoyed reading good books. She collects books, and it is getting harder for her to savor her favorite tomes. So for Mother's Day this year, my siblings and I gave her a Kindle. At first, she was a bit stand-offish about the whole idea, even after one of my sisters explained that we could enlarge the text of each book added to the Kindle to make it easier for her to read.

One afternoon, I drove her out to my home and we began the process of setting things up for her on the Kindle. Despite her protests about what a waste of time and money it was, she finally sat, enthralled when I began adding books to her Kindle. We were able to find numerous classic novels offered for free on Amazon, several that are some of her favorite books. We added those, as well as others we purchased for a minimal cost and it was reminiscent of watching a kid in a candy store. My mother now has 80 books on her Kindle and she couldn't be happier. We changed the setting to a font size that enables her to read without any problem, and she absolutely loves this new fangled device her children purchased on her behalf.

So I am writing a bit of a retraction. I am seeing that e-books do indeed serve a purpose. I'm even considering the advantages of getting either a Kindle or a Nook for my own personal use someday. I will always love and savor my collection of books, but I'm suspecting that I just might enjoy having e-books on hand as well. I have decided there is room for both in this crazy world.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Accidental Kidnapping

I never thought kidnapping could be an accident except when a parent is foolish enough to leave a child alone in a car while she or he dashes inside a house or store for just a moment--- until I got caught up in an unexpected child snatching venture. It happened ten years ago, but a recent invitation to be a guest speaker brought back the memory.

It was a different speaking experience for me. I'm often invited to speak to book clubs, at firesides, and to other book oriented groups, but Tuesday night I spoke at a Spanish Book Club. I don't speak more than a handful of Spanish words and I wasn't sure how much English the club members understood, but I accepted the invitation and there I was. The group was super friendly and their smiles made up for language gaps. And I had a lot of fun.

Why was I invited and why did I accept? The sweet lady who invited me worked with me a few years ago when I worked for the Salt Lake City Library. Occasionally we didn't understand everything the other said, but we had an almost immediate bonding between us. (Her English is much better than my Spanish.) I love that lady! No way could I tell her no. Seeing her again reminded me of an awkward, downright scary experience we shared.

I have Asthma and she has some severe allergies. One day while I was eating my lunch in the library lunchroom, she burst into the room, gasping for breath, and unable to speak other than in frantic gestures. I realized she was having a severe allergic reaction to something, so I grabbed my purse and gave her an allergy antidote I always carry. She was in serious trouble and I knew she needed medical help. I was also aware her two young children were in the library and couldn't be left unattended.

Dashing upstairs I informed the manager I was taking my assistant to an emergency room, grabbed her children and raced back downstairs where I proceeded to load all three into my car for a mad dash to a nearby Instacare. I pulled into the emergency loading and unloading area and told her daughter, Betsy, "Stay with your Mom while I park the car and tell them I'll be right in. "I'll keep Alfredo with me." She looked at me blankly for a moment, then said, "He isn't Alfredo," just before she slammed the car door and followed her mother who was being helped inside the emergency room.

Horrified, I actually looked at the little boy sitting meekly in the backseat. He wasn't Alfredo! I'd grabbed a child I'd never even seen before, but who was about the same size as my friend's five-year-old son and who had been sitting at one of the tables beside her daughter, Betsy.

Unsure what to do, I took his hand and he accompanied me into the emergency room where I filled out some papers and called my friend's husband. My friend was almost unconscious by this time and things were pretty chaotic for awhile. I hoped the boy wouldn't be missed before I could get him back to the library. I'm not sure he understood anything I said to him, but he seemed to know Betsy and stayed close to her, so I concentrated on my friend until a doctor took over.

It all ended well. My friend's husband arrived. Betsy informed me that though the boy wasn't her little brother she was tending him for a neighbor, and her Dad said he would see that he got home safely. Her brother was safe at a friend's house and hadn't even been in the library that day. And yes, my friend, was okay too. I was shaking as I drove back to the library and thought it was a miracle I didn't have a heart attack! An extreme allergy attack is scary enough, but I couldn't believe I'd actually kidnapped a child!

The Spanish Book Club

Friday, June 3, 2011


How easily I can become distracted. I sit at the computer, searching for exactly the right word, the perfect phrase and my eyes wander from the screen, taking in the stack of mail that I didn't have time to sort yesterday.
Another pause, another struggle to describe the scene I see in my head so others will see it that way, too. This time it's a list of people I should have already called that distracts me, notes I should already have in the mail.
What are your distractions? Ringing telephones? (I just CAN"T ignore them!) Children? Husband?
I've found there's simply not enough time to do everything I want to do in this life. Therefore, priorities must be set. And adhered to. (That's another story entirely!) When I first started writing, there were two hours in my day when almost no one needed me - between 5 and 7 a.m. That became my writing time. It was my priority. It was inviolate. Almost.
There are always emergencies, and visitors, and mitigating circumstances (such as tile men coming to lay the new tile at 7:00 a.m. so I have to start painting baseboards at 3:30 a.m.) And then there are the little distractions that can eat into that valuable time.
I'll just throw a batch of washing in so it can be getting done while I write. Seven minutes of my two hours are gone. I'd better run out and bring in the newspaper before the sprinklers come on. The headline grabs me. Fives minutes gone.
I'm stumped. Where is this scene going? What is the motivation? I'll fix toast and juice while I figure it out. Six minutes eaten up. The cat is crying at the door. Better feed her. Four minutes. Suddenly it's seven a.m. my two hours are gone, and I only have two pages to show for my efforts instead of four or five. I let little distractions eat up a precious twenty-two minutes.
Make sure you're using your writing time to its best advantage. Close your eyes and ears to all the little distractions (unless someone is bleeding!) and stay focused on your writing. After all, isn't it one of your priorities?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day Observed

In my younger years, we always looked forward to Memorial Day, but shamefully I admit, it wasn’t for the noble reasons it should have been.

It was simply because this was the first holiday of the great season of summer. We celebrated it by going camping! Well-- that was after we made a stop by the cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of our dearly departed. To me, it was a minor inconvenience, although I thought the flowers were always very pretty and the flags looked pretty cool.

Okay, I admit I had some very immature and very selfish thoughts back then, and yes, my parents tried earnestly to teach me what Memorial Day really was about. I just didn’t understand or truly appreciate it. I wasn’t listening. My mind was on sleeping out under the stars out at the lake. Wahoo!, I mean, it was finally summer!

I was quite young when my Grandpa Lawrence passed away, although I remember how great it was to always get a silver dollar every time he came to visit. Back then a silver dollar could buy all kinds of things at the candy counter.

I wasn’t a whole lot older when my Grandma Lawrence passed away and though I have a few fond memories of her, what I wouldn’t give to have a few more.

My Grandpa Christensen is buried in Denmark and my Grandma Christensen is still living. She turned 101 this past April. How wonderful is that? Can you imagine the things she has experienced in her lifetime?

We usually decorated my Grandpa and Grandma Lawrence’s graves. Grandpa’s always had a flag from serving in WWI. I always thought that was really something special to see by his headstone. I do remember even from a very young age, how proud I was of him for “earning the right to have a flag.”

Since my own mother has passed away, we have started a new tradition in our family. Each Memorial Day weekend, we go to my Dad’s house to spend the night so that early in the morning on Memorial Day, we can get up and go to the little country cemetery where my mom is to see the sunrise ceremony put on by the American Legion for the fallen soldiers.

The flag is raised at half- staff, there is a 21 gun salute, and off in the distance, a bugler plays “Taps” as the sun rises over the mountains. Words cannot describe the feeling that comes over you during the ceremony. It’s beautiful, it’s respectful, it brings a lump to your throat and tears to your eyes.

Every person who has served their country has a white cross that holds the United States flag near their headstone, placed by a volunteer from the American Legion. A large board with two flags is placed in the cemetery with all the soldiers names listed and where they served. This stands near the flag pole so that everyone can see it during the sunrise ceremony.

Recently my dad has talked much of wanting a veteran’s burial with the flag over his casket when he passes. He loves this country and gets somewhat emotional when he speaks of his time in the service and when he listens to the haunting melody of “Taps." I saw it again at that early sunrise service this past Memorial Day.

My son asked his grandpa what Memorial Day stood for. We all got in on the discussion sharing the little bit that we knew, and then I decided to look it up. Did you know that…

Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day. It was observed back in 1865 by freedmen (freed enslaved southern blacks) in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865, at the Washington Race Course, to remember the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. The recognition of the fallen victims was then enacted under the name Memorial Day by an organization of Union veterans to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. Overtime, it was extended after World War I to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Now known as Memorial Day, it is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Many people observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at National Cemeteries.(Taken from WIKIPEDIA)

As a mother, I hope I can somehow let my children keep the thrill of the start of summer in their heart, but somehow instill the importance of honoring Memorial Day.

I think my son is already years ahead of me than I was at his age years by even wanting to know and understand the purpose of such an important day suchas Memorial Day. I only hope I can help him appreciate the purpose of it.