Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Several people have asked if I've been having health problems again since it has been three weeks since my last blog. Actually I'm doing fine; life has just been a little crazy. My husband and I decided it was time to do some major work on our kitchen; granite counter tops, new flooring, shutters, back splash, cupboard hardware. It's been exciting and still is; we're not finished yet. It's time consuming too.  I'll post pictures when it's finished.

In the middle of our renovation project I got the edit back for By the River, my next book which is scheduled to be released in November. Even though it didn't require a lot of rewriting, it still took a great deal of time to go through it thoroughly, but I got it turned in. (By the way, I'll be participating in Salt Lake County Library's Local Authors Event on November 7 and I'm hoping By the River will be available by then).

Along with preparing and teaching a Relief Society lesson, attending a grandson's soccer games, a holiday, and all of the usual trivia of life, these two projects have consumed time I might have otherwise spent blogging. And guess what! The edit for the novella I wrote for one of those compilations of three novellas arrived this afternoon!  

My novella edit for Rescuing Bailey is due August 13th and our kitchen project is supposed to be finished around the first of September. August is shaping up to be a lot like July so if my blogs are few and far between for a little while it's not permanent, I'm not sick, and I promise to do better in the fall.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Tale of Three Cats.

This is how I remember these events and my memory may be a little faulty, but we'll go with this version anyway:

When my daughter and her family moved to Las Vegas, the cat belonging to her husband's boss had kittens. He brought one home - the cutest little black and white kitten you ever saw. They named him Dobie. Dobie needed a friend. The kids picked out a cuddly gray one at the animal shelter so everyone was happy, most of all Shadow who now had a loving family and the family had two delightfully playful kittens they adored. They put in a cat door so the kittens could go in and out by themselves.

A neighborhood cat decided he liked the food better at their house than at his own home, so he came daily through the cat door to dine and lounge around with his feline friends. This was an unusual cat - it had six toes on each paw, funny round short ears and short curly hair. They named him Padfoot because of his very large feet. Padfoot's family moved, leaving him behind, and Padfoot was happy to stay with his new friends.

When my daughter took him to the vet to have his shots, the vet was amazed. This was a very unusual and rather rare cat - a Rex. The extra toes, funny ears and curly hair revealed his identity. Thus, the family now had three cats that grew up during the four years they were in Las Vegas. The cats became hunters. They brought all sorts of wonderful presents to their owners like birds that were still alive, mice that were still able to run around the house, and other delightful (shudder!) gifts that made the girls scream and sent the son scrambling to catch and dispose of the creatures that belonged outside, not inside.

The cats went with them to South Dakota. Much different climate. Snow! The cat door had to be adjusted with a tunnel so the snow didn't blow directly into the house when blizzards arrived. The cats didn't like that as much, but loved basking in the sun on the picnic table on the deck. They still delivered dreadful presents when spring and summer came.

Then in two years another move. This time across the country to South Carolina. The cats went along in carriers - but they couldn't be left in hot cars so there was no sightseeing along the way. Just get to their new home so the cats wouldn't suffer. But the nights in the motels were an endless nightmare. No sleep. Cats awake all night. Noisy, jumping on the beds. Not all motels will take animals so they were not able to stay in the nicer ones they preferred. A totally miserable trip for everyone, cats included.

But the worst was yet to come. They stayed in a hotel for 3 weeks while house-hunting and the cats continued their nighttime routine. After three nights of no sleep, a boarding house needed to be found for the felines. $600 for three weeks! Expensive pets.

Fast forward one year. South Carolina was hot, humid, muggy, lots of bugs. Rain nearly every day. The family hated it. The cats hated it. A new job back in California solved that problem, but the cats presented one additional problem - how to transport them from coast to coast and be able to sleep at night, in a decent motel, and still stop and see a few things along the way. They would ship the cats to California via plane. Gramma would meet the plane and keep the cats till the family arrived in California. The cats would be happier. The family would be able to visit the presidential libraries and sleep at night!

They bought two carriers: two of the cats get along very well. They could travel together. Dobie gets along with no one. Dobie got his own carrier. But when they delivered the cats and carriers to the airline to be shipped, the lady at the desk says Dobie's carrier is not big enough. They've already spent a LOT of money on these carriers, so my daughter asks what can they do? "Go to Wal-Mart and buy a dog carrier", she said. "They are only about $75 to $100." Good Grief!

So the cats returned home, throwing up all the way. Good thing they didn't fly. It would not have been pleasant to cross country in the mess in their carriers.

Needless to say, the trip from South Carolina to California was another nightmare - long travel days to get here as quickly as possible, no stopping and leaving the cats in hot cars to sight-see.

I was waiting at their new home (for which we had searched and searched until we found what we thought they'd like, forwarded pictures, and got their approval.) Suddenly the door flew open and three cats bounded into the house before any humans appeared. Release from captivity! Freedom is a wonderful thing, for all species. Now the cats are happy, the family is happy, and we are happy to have our kids closer.

I'm glad we no longer have pets. My husband's favorite saying is: Retirement begins when the last child leaves home and the dog dies. In this case, the cats. My last cat lived 13 years. These are only seven years old. So about the time their youngest daughter leaves home in five or six years.................

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Tiny Taste of Heaven

Last week our entire clan was able to get together for a few days of fun and relaxation. The last time we were able to get everyone together was a little over a year ago. This is due in part to everyone's schedules and current locations. For instance, our youngest son and his wife now live in Pennsylvania while he attends med school, so family gatherings are a rare and precious occasion. After everyone arrived and we had visited, partaken of luscious grilled hamburgers, etc. not to mention spent a bit of time playing favorite games, I felt a deep sense of happy peace. The thought came to mind, "This must be what it will be like in heaven someday, when everyone is all together." I'm not sure why that particular image settled inside my heart, but it did and I've reflected on it since.

To me, the family is the most important unit in existence. The love shared by family members is crucial, and how wonderful it is when negativity, judgement, and criticism are replaced by respect, patience, and devotion. I don't think any family can be perfect in this mortal realm, but I do believe we get a tiny glimpse of heaven when we spend time together in a good and positive way.

It saddens me to see some of the horrible news stories depicting families that are are torn apart by selfish acts of abuse, bitterness, and cruelty. There are days when I can't bring myself to watch the news because of the horrific scenes that are often displayed. 

We do live in a troubled time, but there are a lot of good things taking place as well. Though some families are struggling, there are many more who are pulling together in love, eager to help each other to succeed despite tremendous obstacles. 

I believe that's part of why we're here--and why families are so important. We weren't meant to exist alone. We are social creatures who need each other to survive. When we support and love each other, great things can take place and the world becomes a better place. 

It was sad to see everyone in our clan depart, one by one last week. However, there is an eternal bond between us that makes our time apart bearable. We know these temporary separations are just that, temporary. Someday, we'll be together again--how grateful I am for the knowledge that families are truly meant to be together forever. That belief is the light in the darkness that often seems to prevail during these interesting latter days. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Today's Challenges

I have always loved Neal A. Maxwell. I think I have every one of the books he wrote and have read all his conference talks many times. On 1 September, 1974, he gave a fireside at BYU entitled But For A Small Moment, which is also the title of one of his books. He talks about challenges:

"So much is about to happen in which you will be involved and concerning which you will have some great influence. It is because you will face some remarkable challenges in your time; it is because the Church has ceased to be in the eyes of men a mere cultural oddity in the Mountain West and is now, therefore, a global church--a light which can no longer be hid; it is because you have a rendezvous with destiny that will involve some soul stretching and some pain that I have chosen to speak to you tonight about the implications of two things we accept sometimes quite casually. These realities are that God loves us and, loving us, has placed us here to cope with challenges which he will place before us.

I'm not sure we can always understand the implications of his love, because his love will call us at time to do things we may wonder about, and we may be confronted with circumstances we would rather not face. I believe with all my heart that because God loves us there are some particularized challenges that he will deliver to each of us. He will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know. He will set before us in life what we need, not always what we like. And this will require us to accept with all our hearts - particularly your generation - the truth that there is divine design in each of our lives and that you have rendezvous to keep, individually and collectively.

God knows even now what the future holds for each of us. In one of his revelations these startling words appear, as with so many revelations that are too big, I suppose, for us to manage fully: "In the presence of God, . . .all things . . . are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord." (D&C 130:7) The future "you" is before him now. He knows what it is he wishes to bring to pass in your life. He knows the kind of remodeling in your life and mine that he wishes to achieve. Now, this will require us to believe in that divine design and at times to accept the truth which came to Joseph Smith wherein he was reminded that his suffering would be "but a small moment" (D&C121:7)."

There is so much more wonderful stuff there - the talk is many pages long but I was struck by a couple of things as I read the first page. The word challenges jumped out at me because today we are facing some mountainous challenges in protecting not only our personal freedoms, but our religious freedoms. I'm afraid we have some "tough challenges" ahead and I don't think it will be an easy thing to get out of our comfort zones and make a stand. But I do not doubt that we will have to do that.

The other thing that really struck me was: "He will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know."  I believe that he knows what I can do and am capable of becoming - with His help. I also know that my own vision of that probably falls far short of His vision for me. My next thought was: which of the challenges that I most fear are the ones that He has prepared for me? Is there something I'm supposed to do in this new war we are fighting for our very freedoms?

This has given me much food for thought. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would see in my lifetime our precious freedoms being taken away, one by one, and feel so terribly helpless to prevent it. But I feel so strongly that this is a fight we must make here and now. Will I have the courage, the knowledge to do what might be my role? 

Just some disconcerting, very unsettling thoughts Elder Maxwell stirred up for me today.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


As a teenager, the Fourth of July included parades since I played in the marching band. Later as a mother it still included parades where my daughters played and marched or carried flags. And what would the Fourth be without a picnic and fireworks? Many of my Fourths also included fishing and stories about family members who served in various branches of the military. Above all it was a family day, in essence a small piece of what the historic events of 1776 were all about, a time when father, mother, and their offspring could enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices made for them so long ago. 

It was a novel concept back then that people might govern themselves; that matters of religion, education, employment, and self defense rightly belong to the individual. In order to prevent the kind of tyranny they had so narrowly escaped, those founding fathers drew up a constitution that called for an overall government limited to certain responsibilities. The remaining rights were to be restricted to the states in order to keep government as close to the people as possible. Such long time emblems of tyranny as a monarchy, state religion, and the education of only the wealthy were rejected. Opportunity, equality, and freedom became the new mantra of our ancestors who offered their lives in exchange for a new way of doing things. Farmers and shopkeepers became soldiers who suffered and many died for this dream. In the intervening years many other good men and women have died on battlefields around the world where they fought to preserve freedom and the simple red, white, and blue flag under which the revolutionaries fought has grown to include fifty stars. 

With the passage of time, freedom grew to include those who came here against their will and those fleeing poverty and a lack of opportunity elsewhere.  On the way there have been injustices; the Mormons were ordered exterminated by a narrow-minded governor, some areas denied black people the right to vote, Western states were ordered to stop allowing women to vote, some Hispanic transient workers have been denied payment for their hard manual labor and deported instead, Chinese railroad workers were often treated badly, Japanese families were incarcerated. There are, and likely always will be, some low-minded people who will continue to persecute those they consider beneath them, but real Americans revel in the success of anyone who works for it. 

The past week has been troubling for many Americans whether they support non-traditional marriage or not. There is great concern over the usurpation of state rights by the Supreme Court and serious, justifiable concerns about freedom of religion, parental rights, children's rights, divorce laws, and the legality of other potential matrimonial combinations. Most of these concerns could and should have been worked out without the drastic interference of a few unelected individuals. This is what legislatures are for. The hateful, insulting rhetoric being flung about by both sides of the controversy certainly isn't helpful either. Social changes brought about by majority consensus have proved to work better than those forced on people by edict. It will be a challenge and likely involve many contentious years to work out this issue. It's easy to say this doesn't concern me, but in fact it concerns all of us, and we all need to be involved in working out solutions that are fair to all Americans. Let's not let this issue be the one that destroys "justice for all" or the "freedom to worship according to the dictates of our own consciences." 

I'll be cheering at a parade, eat yummy food, and fly the stars and stripes this Fourth. I hope you will too. America is still worth celebrating. And just one more thing, a slogan I learned as a teenager, "Don't go forth with a fifth on the Fourth, or you might not be around to go forth on the fifth."