Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Tree

We decided to go back to our old tradition of buying a living tree and plant it after Christmas since we have a lot of property now. We were kind of excited to do this again and my husband bought a tree at a nursery in Brigham. Well he happened to bring home the small tree when my good friend and neighbor was leaving our house. She noticed the pathetic looking tree that stood upright on the back seat of our car and barely touched the roof. My neighbor felt sorry for us; a new house with a large window and my husband "so conservative he would only buy a little tree."

The next morning I noticed her husband set a tree next to our horse stable. I thought that was strange. Maybe he thought the horses liked to eat trees. So I asked my neighbor why her husband put a tree there. She started to look sheepish and laugh. She explained what she thought and that they had an extra tree. We put the tree up. It is gorgeous next to our large picture window. We set our live tree outside where we can see it through the window. It is indeed pathetic looking. We may have to rethink our tradition.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Paradise Art & Musical Event

This Saturday December 12th from 10 am to 5 pm in Paradise Town Hall we'll be holding our semi-annual art sale. This year's event will feature my pottery, Marilyn Krannich's pottery, and Jim Parrish's photography. Both Marilyn and I have been doing pottery for over 30 years. I'm happy to have her join us again in this sale. Our work is quite different from each other and you're bound to find something that you like. We'll have pie plates, vases, bowls, platters, chip & dip plates, and of course I'll have some frogs. We both specialize in functional one-of-a-kind work.
Jim often has work from around our own scenic area. He will also have a close-out on some of the photography he's had around for a while.

We're especially pleased to have some local musicians join our event. Dale Majors is a talented cowboy who plays guitar, sings, and writes some of his own music. His daughter Erin has a beautiful voice and plays the fiddle proficiently. They perform from 1 pm to 3 pm. They are a delightful duo. I hope folks will come out to support them.

From 3 pm to 5 pm we're very lucky to have Wade & Cara back. They play a multiple of string and wind instruments and are a must-see, must-hear team who have performed their world folk music in several different countries.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our Thanksgiving

Our son told us that the rules for a successful Thanksgiving Dinner were simple, don't try new recipes and never skip the turkey. So before our all-out traditional dinner with grandmas, cousins, brothers and the rest of the whole fam damily, we had an alternative dinner with just us. We broke all the rules. I mean what wouldn't a mother do for her daughter? Especially one who is as wonderful as ours and who we don't get to see all that often. Our daughter doesn't eat meat, gluten, or lactose (cow's milk). All of her life she has suffered from stomach aches. Lots of tests have been run but nothing was ever found to be wrong. In her childhood, every time she said her stomach hurt, I did what any Scandinavian mother would do--I gave her a glass of milk. And sometime when I felt really motherly, I made a piece of whole wheat toast to go with it. After lots of experimentation on her own, she discovered a way to avoid the constant stomach pain. Get rid of the milk, get rid of the wheat, and get rid of meat. So being a good Scandinavian mother even though it goes against all of my own instincts, I support her--at least for one day. So we had to get creative if we were going to eat anything at all. She brought a section from her newspaper with some delicious sounding recipes, but you know how almost nothing ever turns out the way it sounds? Well it took all of us to help with this dinner because we were hungry and wanted to eat before midnight. I must say I was skeptical when I tasted the dough to make the gluten-free pie crust. It was a bit on the yuckky side, but our dinner turned out absoltely delicious including the crust. Everyone of us thought it was one of the best dinners we'd ever had, at least that we had cooked. And afterwards we still felt good. None of the groaning and near passing out that we enjoyed the next day after our turkey, dressing, and everything that goes with it.

Our alternative menu was a cauliflower-leek tart, warm sweet potato and apple salad, green bean gremolata,and apple cranberry crisp. Tonight each of my two children have asked for recipes from the San Francisco Chronicle section that we got the recipes from. Daughter in S.F. asked for the tart, and son asked for the warm salad recipe. The only thing that wasn't a hit was the green been dish but I suspect that it's because I was making it and didn't follow the recipe very closely. In short I goofed a bit. It was okay. Here are the ones that we all highly recommend.

Cauliflower-blue cheese tart

I medium head cauliflower, cut into small forets
2 TBS olive oil
course salt and ground pepper
1 Tbs. butter
2 leeks, well washed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 crust
2 oz. mild blue cheese or use percorino or parmessan (we used a mild white cheese since aged cheese gives me migraines.)
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
We made our own pie crust following a regular recipe, but substituting gluten-free flour.

preheat oven to 375. Toss cauliflower with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until c. is well browned about 35-45 minutes.
Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often until wilted and beginning to carmelize about 10 min. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more stirring often . Let cool slightly.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. season with salt and pepper . Roll out both of the pie crusts and fit one into a 9 inch pan. In using cheese, sprinkle over the bottom of teh pastry. top with c. and leeks. pour egg mixture over filling.
cover with remaining crust and pinch edges together. Bake 45 min. to 1 hour until the crust is evenly browned and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean

Warm Sweet potato and Apple Salad
2 lbs. sweet potatoes (i used three medium) peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2Tbs. olive oil
1 red onion
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (we didn't have any, so threw in a dash of rice vinegar)
1 Tbs. maple syrup
1 golden delicious apple (we used two)
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs. chives (we used green onion)
Instructions: Place sweet potato slices in a pot and cover with col, salted water. Bring water to a boil and let simmer until poatoes are tender but still hold their shape, about 10-15 minutes. Drain carefully.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add half of the onions, and saute until caramelized, about 10 min. Add the mustard, vinegar and syrup, and stir until incorporated. Let simmer for about 2 min.
Add the apples, stir to combine, and remove from heat. Mix gently with the cooked sweet potatoes and remaining onions, and season to taste. Sprinkle chives on top and toss.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Scandalous Desserts and More

My goodness what do you find out with a group of women, older women at that? Even though I don't consider myself old enough to be a member of the Daughter of Utah Pioneers a few years ago my friend Sherry invited me to attend with her. I assured her that I would not want to belong to group of old ladies (sorry this is what I thought). Sherry lured me with promises of good food. Well the food was great and the company was fun. At 52 I am one of the youngest members in the Sagwith camp. Last month I mentioned that I'd been to southern Utah with a group of Mormon Feminists. "Polygamists, did you say?""No feminists." "Who made the pumpkin pie?" several women wanted to know. Marjean, who brought the pie answered, "Sam's." "Who did she say made the pie--Sharon?" "Oh Shirley made the pie" By this time I'm laughing. Marjean is laughing trying to explain that she picked up the pie at Sam's Club while Donna is still laughing about the Feminist Polygamists. Now all this confusion is not because they women are just too old to hear, although that might be a little of the problem. The problem is that the tables are set out like a big long banquet table and what is said at one end will surely change--just like that old game we used to play at birthday parties. You know where you whisper something like, "Last night we ate pizza," and it turns into "The end of the world is here!" Or something scandalous--always something scandalous which brings me to the next month at DUP.

This month we had a luscious dessert. I recognized the dessert and used to make it when I made such things back in the day. The recipe was given to me as Oblong Pie. As we ate this dessert, someone said, Myrt calls this Filthy Wilma. "Filthy Wilma?" Yup that's right. So I came home and looked up the dessert and came across this quote in a blog about the dessert. "Anyway. So when I arrived (finally!) for the wedding, one of the first pieces of news gleaned from my brother and my sister was that there was a pan of Filthy Wilma in the fridge, left over from the previous night's festivities. What is Filthy Wilma? Well, as Amilynne puts it, if you're a good Mormon, it's Republican Dessert, and if you're a bad Mormon, it's Filthy Wilma."

I wonder what the name of the dessert would be called for me, a semi-decent Liberal leaning progressive Mormon? Luscious Linda, Jolly Jack, Obama Dreamcake, Raunchy Rachel, Hotty Hilary--Okay now they are sounding--well a little raunchy. Anyway it sounds a bit like our conversation at Relief Society tonight--or whatever it is they are calling it these days. I would tell you what the bishop's wife told us, but you can go over to her blog at Clawson live and search "F word" for the story. It's a good one with a good moral and everything. And here's the recipe for Filthy Wilma or whatever you want to call it.

Filthy Wilma Recipe

1 c chopped nuts
1 1/4 c flour
1 cube melted butter

1st Layer

8 oz cream cheese
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 container Cool Whip

2nd Layer

1 small pkg. chocolate instant pudding
1 small pkg vanilla instant pudding
3 c milk

Last Layer

1/2 container Cool Whip
chopped nuts

Mix crust and press in 9x13" pan. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Chill before adding each layer. Combine each ingredient for each layer and top with the chopped nuts.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Christmas Romance & Family Nights

Last year I read one of Aubrey Mace's books "Spare Change" and found it really cute and different from most LDS romances. So when she asked for volunteers from our LDStorymakers to do a review, I volunteered. This is a quick read. I loved the beginning which is laugh out loud enjoyable. Abbie had given up finding the perfect man and contents herself with a fulfilling single life as the owner of a bakery and doting aunt. On Christmas Eve on a whim she quickly scrawls a note to Santa asking for a man. She sets the note out with a can of Pringles and a Coke and goes to bed. Of course, in the morning she is shocked to find a handsome man who has no idea how he got there. And yes he had eaten the chips and drank the Coke. The pace slows but keeps you interested enough to the last page. Of course you have to find out if the man with SBC on his silk pajamas really did come from Santa. It's reminiscent of the movie "Santa Clause" and old Christmas comedies. This book is an unapologetic light and a feel-good read for women who want to escape for a few hours. It won't change your life, but I don't think it was meant to. I believe it is available in most LDS bookstores.

2. Another one of my friends, Anne Bradshaw, has really worked hard to put out a great help to LDS families. Anne compiled a wonderful idea book of family home evening ideas from Mormons that are somewhat recognizable or outstanding in some way. I say all this a little hesitantly because an idea from me is on page 149. I hesitated to be included in this book because she called it "Famous Family Nights," and I'm neither famous or good at family home evenings. However it's an honor to be included in this fun little book. One of my favorite posts comes from Matthew Buckley author of the "Chicken in the Headlights" books describing his brother measuring belly button lint. Doesn't that remind you of some of your attempts at FHE? Anyway, there are some spiritual posts too and some that are really of help. I can see this being a wonderful gift for grandparents to give to their children or Home teachers or Visiting Teachers to give to their families. Wouldn't that be fun Christmas gift? Do not let the cover put you off. I have to say I am not a fan of the cover which makes it look like it is for little kids. This is a book for all age families. My post deals with adult children so I know this is true. Anyway it is also available in LDS bookstores and at Anne's website.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sasquatch was here!

Recently I talked to a neighbor who saw prints of what in her opinion could only have been made by Sasquatch. The prints were clearing imprinted in the sediment in the bottom of the empty canal in the spring before the water was released. Unfortunately there was just enough seepage in the bottom of the canal to erase the prints before she was able to document them. She did however find a very good print on the side of the canal that had not been obliterated. If you found prints what would you do? Probably exactly what she did, she went to find a neighbor to show so someone else could witness the sighting. But the neighbor brought his dogs who ran through and ruined the print.

Well I had never met my neighbor and her story had superseded the meeting with her. In other words I'd heard about her belief. And I like anyone else would have assumed she was a bit off. But here's the rub. She's not. She's as sane as you or I. Well as sane as I am and I'm here to tell you, she believes what she saw could only have been made by Sasquatch which means he or she came very close to our house. So is that cool? Yeah, I think so.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Magical side of Life

  1. Have you ever heard of Crazy Creek? It's a beautiful waterfall outside of Yellowstone's N.E. entrance on the Beartooth highway. Not very many people go there, but it's so lovely. Usually it's a rushing cascade over giant boulders, but these pics were taken over UEA and conference weekend. Thanks church leaders and school leaders for coinciding so we could have a few days enjoying life. Contrary to what you may believe Yellowstone might have been warmer than Cache Valley. Our friends, Jeannie and Lee H. came along with us--actually drove because Lee says he gets carsick, but I do believe he also likes to be in control. I was worried about relinquishing my control, but found it liberating to relax and let things happen and not be in the figurative or literal driver's seat for a change. If Lee reads this he'll have something smart alec to say. He always has something smart alec to say.
  2. Because of a fire south of Fishing Bridge we had to kill some time, so we went to Old Faithful. I have to admit Old Faithful isn't even close to my favorite feature in the Park. But look at it--isn't it beautiful? I was feeling awe-inspired when some guy's cellphone went off, right at the peak. What do you think he did? He answered it. And proceeded to chit chat not even mentioning that he was watching one of the most amazing phenomenon's of all time. I could hear every word he said while the rest of us ooohed and awed or just felt that funny feeling deep in your chest. It's the feeling you have when you see a newborn baby, a couple getting married, or watching a fire burn in the fireplace that your dad built in a cabin you've been visiting for 49 years. Cell phones kill the magic. Ok enough about that. My battery is about to run out because we're in a power outage and my good friend Jason Kimber who is a new father has informed me that the power outage is going to last for a few hours. I love that I got to see Yellowstone in the fall before the leaves fell. It's a first for me. I love spending time with friends, I love spending time with my husband. And I love Silver Gate, Montana. Life doesn't get any better--even a cell phone can't ruin that or a power outage.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Go to Helen Waite right after driving through Paradise

You have to love Paradise. Well not everyone does I guess. In August there were two concerts in the lovely hamlet of Old Paradise (Avon). The first was held right across the meadow from me. It was loud and obnoxious. Not even close to being my cup of tea. A stream of young people drove in and out of this concert until the wee hours of the morning. It sounded like heavy metal or maybe just shouting, but I didn't move out to Avon to tell my neighbors what to do. It's one day--no biggie. The very next week there was another concert. This one was a music festival with professional bands. People again descended upon our hamlet. This one was held a little further away from me and definitely brought more people and a greater variety of types from neighbors to professionals from all walks of life. From what I heard--four bands were featured, saving the quieter venues for early morning. My husband and I were picking chokecherries right behind the concert and could hear it plainly, but as we finished and walked down our lane we were disappointed not to be able to hear the music anymore.

I was surprised the next morning when I opened my paper to see a very angry letter printed in the Logan newspaper about not the first concert, but the second concert. What's worse is that the Herald Journal had not adequately screened the writer of the letter and had inadvertently allowed a pseudonym "Helen Waite" from Avon. Now for some reason I didn't catch the joke right off. I mean it sounds like a real name only I was pretty sure no one existed with that name--here. We're a small town and know most folks. Then someone said, so do you go to Hell 'en Wait after you've been to Paradise and I along with most others caught the joke. Only jokes are supposed to be funny and clever and this letter was neither. It was mean-spirited. And mean-spiritedness isn't what most of us in this town are about. I hope the letter writer has since recovered from their temporary lack of decorum and won't repeat their vitriol next year when the concert is held again.

There was another pretty loud musical event held this last Saturday right next door to me. It was a barn dance, lots of fun and full of good will. This is what I love about my town. I love that we had a decent rock and roll band and a country western band play and all with local talent. I hope there won't be any letters to the editor. I hope we don't discourage diversity.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fire-fighting Females and Lovely Meadows

We just wanted to see the flowers on the hike to White Pine. Our daughter was home from California for a few days, but the hike ended up being a little more than we bargained for. I'd done the hike the week before and wasn't sure I had the energy to make it all the way. Dear daughter ended up running the last mile, so she could see the lake and get back to swim at a friend's pool. She wanted to pack all of Utah summer fun into short time she had. So she ran down to the lake, passing a group of middle-aged women from Shelley, Idaho. They were on their way back and when I got to them they said they'd wanted to give daughter a speeding ticket. On our way back we came across the women again when they were fighting a fire left by a careless camper. My husband and daughter joined them to see what they could do. I sent a group of young hikers up to join them and our daughter ran down the trail to report the fire that was now engulfing a tree and spreading. Shovels and professionals were needed, not just a group of Chaco wearing kids, Nalgene water bottles, and fearless females snapping pictures and stomping out flames.
So I ended up hiking down, figuring I could wait by Tony's Grove, stay cool, get a drink, and eat some more. Yeah, well they'd had enough help. So on my way down, daughter was on her way back up. She had reported the fire and and was now headed back to take more water to her dad. She mentioned that she had to break into the car with a stick because she'd forgotten the key. So I waited at the car for a couple of hours, fully expecting to see the firefighters show up. My head ached from the sun, not enough water or food. It was hours later than I had expected or prepared to be out. No one ever showed up to fight the fire, but finally the Relief Society ladies from Shelly, Idaho come down the mountain. They reported that they had seen my daughter on the trail, mentioned her running ability and asked if she is in competition. By now she had logged over ten miles--mostly running. Mick, they said was checking hot spots. I took photos of them for their scrap books and maybe to pass around in church. And Mick finally showed up--no daughter! He hadn't seen her. So he headed back up the trail. Eventually Mick and daughter showed up together. He'd come back a different way. So when daughter got to the fire spot and couldn't find him, she worried she'd find him dead in a pile of black ash, or slumped over from a heart attack.
Daughter missed her chance to swim that day, but she had an adventure and got plenty of exercise. I got a migraine but still enjoyed the beautiful meadows and weather. Some women from Shelley, Idaho went beyond the call of duty and possibly saved Tony Grove area from a major forest fire, but whomever started it--will never even know the disaster they caused, and some forest rangers should thank all of them for saving them the trouble. So to all of you who fought the fire on the White Pine trail without thanks from anyone--the group of kids, the couple who first saw it, the lovely Relief Society group, my beautiful daughter, and my tireless husband. Thanks. You did a good thing.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

On a Wing and a Prayer

My good friends Larry and Barbara (also my brother-in-law and sister-in-law) told me they are sick to death of reading Pigs, Pigs, Pigs and wondered when I would update my blog. Hurray!!! Someone is actually reading my blog. Sorry to those of you who have stuck with me through my busy time of year. I've had a bunch of art festivals and family events. But now here's something interesting...I hope.

It happened this way. We’d just seen an entire pack of wolves in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. We’d seen wolves before, but never anything like this—seven all together. I was still on a high from the rare sight. It was starting to be dusky light and we hoped to get back to the cabin in Silver Gate Montana before our little grandchildren went to bed for the night, so I drove a pretty good clip, still pausing the car when we saw elk, deer, antelope, and huge bison, literally on the road at times.
I was going around 50 mph when Mick said, “Don’t hit it.”
“What?” Then I could see it too. A little gosling, or something tiny standing in the middle of the highway. I swerved around it. Then Mick decided he needed to help the little bird get across the busy highway. Besides now a car was approaching in the opposite direction. Would it hit the bird? I couldn’t find a good place to turn around on the narrow highway. Finally, I just turned around, miles past the bird.
When we got back to the spot, the other car we’d seen was stopped in the road. Had they hit the bird? We couldn’t see anything smashed and then they drove over into a turnout. We pulled alongside their car—now noting that it was a gray Subaru Forester almost exactly like ours, only a bit more packed with stuff and two young women, probably in their twenties in front. We’ve always felt a camaraderie with Subaru drivers. There are usually at least a few things you will have in common. It’s kind of like a giant club. We rolled our window down and so did they.
“Did you help the bird?” I asked.
“Yes.” The driver said in a timid voice. She had a look on her face like she was hiding a secret.
Then we heard—chirp, chirp, chirp. And she held the fuzzy yellow gosling up for us to see.
“What should we do with it?” She asked.
Mick was convinced we’d be able to find the other part of her family. So we began to look for a mother and father goose. We traipsed up and down the banks of the very swift and full Soda Butte River, but couldn’t find any sign of the parents. We didn’t dare put it in the water, because we knew without a mother it would be lost in the roar of rushing water.
We discussed what our options were. We could take it to the rangers, but one of the young women worked in Mammoth, and figured if they showed it to the rangers they would lecture her to let nature take its course and abandon the bird. Or worse slap a fine. There are rules a plenty to be broken in the Park. In Yellowstone it is not acceptable to interfere with nature, but in this case—the road caused the gosling to get lost. The road doesn’t fit into the wild scheme of survival of the fittest, at least in my view it shouldn’t. The young women kept calling it a duck, but it was a gosling. Anyway after jokes about bird-napping, they took the baby—determined to find some calmer waters ahead where they knew some other ducks or geese or whatever.
"I like your car," the driver said before pulling away.
I’m hoping on a wing and prayer that the little gosling somehow makes it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pigs, Pigs, Pigs!

It might be fitting that my studio was once a pig farrowing barn. I like pigs. I've always liked pigs. Pigs are one of my favorite things to make with children. When we moved into Paradise 18 years ago our realtor told us that no pigs were allowed in Paradise even though other animals were. She may have been wrong, but we believed her. Our daughter wanted a pig for her 8th birthday. We didn't really want to buy her a pig besides, the realtor told us they weren't allowed, so we bought her a guinea pig. My husband ended up being highly allergic to it and eventually it succumbed to a neighbor's dog when it was enjoying an outing on the lawn.

Well, my occasional job of going into schools to teach pottery got canceled this year due to budget cuts. But I did a freebie for one very special 1st grade class--my husbands. Here's some examples of the pigs they made. They really did make them. Aren't they wonderful?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's all Good

In one month we will have been in our new house for a whole year. I can't believe it. There are still boxes I haven't even looked in yet. The other day I remembered a favorite thing I haven't seen since the move. It's a beautiful oil lamp that my husband bought me for my birthday a few years ago. It is a hand-thrown, hand carved porcelain lamp with frogs. Yeah, I know I make pottery--but this was made my a real artist--not someone who pretends to be. I hope you're smiling about this, since you all know I'm a potter. I love to have other potters work. Last month my good friends K. and Kerri Rasmussen, well Kerri is my good friend and she's married to K. and he's a friend, but not a good friend if you know what I mean. K. if you're reading this you know I love you and your lovely garden, artistic mind, and your skiing ability. Anyway my friends brought me a gorgeous tall vase--with a leaf design.
Anyway back to my frog pot--even without that lovely pot, every single day I think about how much I love living here. Besides the house being great, I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure I'm really looking out my windows at such an amazing view. Lately we've started hiking again. Last Sunday our friend Mike came over and we all hiked up Paradise Dry. The spring wildflowers are just starting to come out. The whole mountain sides are yellow with arrow-leaf balsamroot--a sunflower relative. And if you look closely you can see tiny bright blue forget-me-knots, and pink clematis. Soon the lupine will bloom.
I've started to feel comfortable in my new world of friends. I have some great friends to walk with. I still try to connect with my friends from Paradise whenever possible. I really am blessed and lucky! People are so good to me. Life is good. I've already forgotten what it feels like to get butted by a ram, but just so you don't think things are perfect, I did fall down the stairs--hit my back, bruising it deeply. And I twisted my ankle and it's throbbing in pain even as I write this a whole week later. So... other than that--it's all good.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dama-rama-ram-damn-Paradisiacal life

Every once in a while everything seems idyllic. I had one of those days Thursday May 1st. I worked on glazing pottery all morning and loaded the kiln, while listening to a book on tape of one of my favorite authors, Anne Tyler. Then one of my good friends called and invited me to lunch at the newly renovated Cracker Barrel (not to to mixed up with the chain) in Paradise. Marilyn and I meet for lunch a couple of times a month and it's always great to catch up with good friends. We especially enjoy the Thursday special at the Cracker Barrel which is a pulled pork barbeque sandwich.

Later that evening, Mick was meeting one of his friends for a horse ride and to check on cows. I decided it was the perfect time for a walk. While I was walking up South Canyon paralleling the Little Bear River, I watched the rushing water--hoping to see a blue heron. I didn't but watched a pair of mallard ducks take off. A pair of geese were on the nearly impossible vibrant green pasture. I've seen the green of Scotland before--nearly fluorescent--in the springtime Cache valley nearly matches that brilliance. The snow capped mountains still loom above the valley and I can't think of anything more beautiful. I'd been thinking about my perfect idyllic day on my walk--literally basking in the joy that I felt good both physically and spiritually, when I came upon a ram that was out of its pen. I passed by the ram without a thought. Then I was aware that the ram was following me and I turned around just in time to pick up my foot and stop its massive head from pounding into my backside.

That was just the beginning of at least a dozen such attacks. If I tried to go around the ram, he followed me and continued to butt me--only one time did he manage to connect with my body instead of my foot in his head--but it was more than enough to show me what a head butt from a ram felt like, and something I didn't want repeated. I yelled, hoping to catch the attention of a family that was sitting on a wagon just below the ram. I don't know if they heard me, but they weren't about to come to my aid--possibly because I found out later it wasn't their ram, and possibly because they didn't realize how much I needed help. I tried to shoo the ram, but nothing effected him. All he wanted to do at that moment was attack me. Finally he decided that just ramming me wasn't enough. He needed a running start, so he began backing up first so he could get a galloping wallup when he rammed me. If it hadn't been for my foot connecting each time with his head he would have knocked me down and pranced on me with all of his three to four hundred pounds of wooly weight and muscle. Rams are not cute little mammals like you might be thinking. They are bred to be tough so they can do what rams do. Why intimidating a naive rural transplant is part of that I have no idea, but I wasn't about to let him get his way. The stand-off may have only lasted five minutes, but it seemed like it would never end. I kept trying to get him to go to the family that seemed to be ignoring me. After each attack, I managed to get a few more feet down the road and closer to my the direction of my home. Finally, I was behind him. And he began to walk non-chalantly down the road as if he'd never done what he'd done to me. I didn't question my sudden good fortune. I thought he was getting further away from his home, but I didn't care--at least he'd stopped ramming me for the time being.

Did I win the fight with the ram? Or did he win? Well it didn't matter. My heart was still pounding from the encounter when he turned and walked up the hill toward what I now realized was his pen. His owner jumped behind a fence to let him pass. I said, "your ram has been ramming me."
"I'm sure he has." she said.
I'm sure she had no idea how frightened I'd been.
A little ways further, maybe 100 yards I spotted my husband on his buckskin mare, Starbuck. "Hey, I just got rammed by a ram," I said hoping for some comforting words.

"Well, I just got thrown. Some chicken spooked her and she rolled me off and took off running across the highway."

"Ohmigosh, are you okay? Is the horse okay?"

"Yeah, I guess everything is okay. Are you okay?"

"Yes," I said with a little bit of a whine. "Watch out for the ram and I'll see you home."

So the next morning, my husband checked on the horse on his way to work and she was acting funny. He told me to keep an eye on her. I noticed around ten that she was lying down flat in the pasture. I walked up to her and she wouldn't lift her head, but was breathing all right. A curious horse from the neighboring field kept pushing his head over the fence to get as close as she could to our horse. I petted its nose and walked back to the house. Around 11:00, I was able to get hold of Mick and he told me to call the vet. When I told the veterinarian that the horse had been lying down for maybe two hours and seemed really sick, he came right out. But just like when you take your car into the mechanic, whatever was wrong suddenly isn't. And our horse now got up and acted pretty healthy. He checked her over with our other four curious horses pressing against the doctor constantly, annoying him and making it difficult to work. He gave Starbuck a a couple of shots and said it was nothing life threatening.

Well, Starbuck died Saturday night. No, we don't blame the vet. Something he couldn't see must have taken her life. She didn't seem THAT sick even to us. Mick led her down to the corral because it was rainy, and went to get her a little bit of hay. And when he came back, she was dead--just like that.

When he told me that night, I thought this is what rural life is all about. You take the highs and the lows, the newly born colts, calves, lambs, and chicks and revel in the beauty. Then you bury one of the best horses we've ever had. You hike, walk, ride bikes, and horses and see the wonders of nature and then a ram butts you, or you take a tumble, and you're reminded that things will never be idyllic for long. I guess that's the way life is supposed to be.

P.S. I told some friends this story and one guy said--the ram must've been a Republican. I emailed my brother a brief telling and he said, "that ram must've been a Republican." Interesting huh? Then my brother said "R-A-M Republican--assault--machine." My brother is a Republican, unless he's recently converted.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Favorite things about LDStorymakers Conference

Before I published my first book "A Question of Trust" I knew very few authors. Authors seemed way too cool for me to know firsthand. Well...they are, but then they aren't any cooler than any other talented people. So one of my favorite things was seeing some of these friends--cool people--who have gone after a dream. And meeting and hobnobbing with great people who are setting aside time and effort to learn something new. Over 250 writers attended this years conference.
I loved meeting Dean Lorey--a genuine Hollywood scriptwriter and author--and a genuine guy all around, approachable and didn't seem to mind a bit when I gushed over him and had our picture taken together--something I never do. He worked as a writer on one my all time favorite T.V. comedies--Arrested Development. Seinfeld is the only show that for me was in the same ball park as "Arrested Development." Dean also has a Children's series out called "Nightmare Academy" that seems like the kind of books I would've enjoyed reading with my kids. He spent nearly an hour treating us with stories about writing his first screenplay--a hilarious sounding tale about a boy going to the prom with his dream date, but dying first and turning into a zombie--but still going on the date. He also told us about meeting and marrying his wife of 14 years, writing "Happy Gilmore" and other such life-changing events as losing his hair and discovering this by viewing a film with camera shots from above.

All of the workshops I attended were great. One of my favorites was hearing Matthew Buckley explain why ebooks and the like aren't necessarily a bad thing, using numerous funny slides to illustrate, including a dog--well maybe not the exact dog--that got sued by the recording industry for illegal downloads. Matthew encouraged us to view the new trends as an opportunity.
Another one that was fun was the mystery/thriller panel, which included my good friend Josi Kilpack, also Liz Adair, Stephanie Black (Whitney winner for this year), Julie Bellon, and JoAnn Arnold. I don't know why there weren't men included, but with Kerry Blair moderating it was fun. Like I said all the workshops were great and is one of the best workshops hands down, and I really don't think you need to be LDS to learn from these authors. After all the discussions on writing plot, character, and conflict apply to writers in general.

If you missed this years workshop, we're doing a fundraiser workshop for the AVA. When I say we--I don't mean storymakers, but I do mean some great Cache Valley writers and one amazing Box Elder County author. It's May 9th. It's bound to be fun.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Art in San Franscisco's Mission District

Beginning at our daughter's backdoor in San Francisco's
mission district--art work can be found everywhere. I loved the unique diverse neighborhood where real people work real business's and make everything from cookies to noodles to repairing shoes. What a great place!

The cat totally intrigued me. She sleeps in an out-of-business store window with a picture of herself. Of the dozen shots I took, I chose this one because you can see Mick and daughter in the background.
There are amazing murals, store fronts, and grafitti. I failed to get photos of some of the best work because I had planned to get back out. Maybe next trip.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thirty Years of Nice!

Thirty years is a long time to be married! Remember the Paul Simon song, "Still Crazy after All these Years?" I don't know if that's the official title, but that's how I feel. In all of those years, near strangers have told me how incredibly nice they think my husband is. It happened at a party I went to recently with some people my husband serves with in his church position. "My wife thinks you walk on water," the man said to Mick. Then he went on to say how nice she thinks he is. I'm baffled by this kind of thing--not because it isn't true. It is true! But why is it so obvious to so many people. I asked Mick what he had done for the man's wife, and he said, "nothing that I can think of." Looking back it was one of the first things I noticed about him. In fact, his niceness irritated me--that is until I fell head-over-heals in love. And during all that thirty years of marriage--kindness is something that never wears out it's effectiveness. I don't know how he is the way he is. It's beyond my grasp.

When our children were teens, I remember asking them if people thought I was nice. "Everyone likes you," son said. "Yes, but do they think I'm nice?" "All my friends think you're cool, Mom," daughter said.
"Yes, but do they think I'm nice?" My kids would act like they were thinking about this and then they would start with the same answers. "Everyone likes you--Everyone thinks you're cool." But never could my kids say I was exactly nice. By the world's view--I am nice. But you see, our children have an example of nice that I could never measure up to--nor would I want to. I am the recipient of that kind of nice, but less often the giver. It's the kind of nice that George Bailey seemed to posses. The kind of nice that sacrifices desires, wants, and often needs if someone else could use it or even wants it more than you. It's the kind of nice that allows others to step in line first at a church banquet. In the small town of Grouse Creek, if there was food being served I was often the first in line and Mick was the last. I would be done eating before he even got through. It's the kind of nice that always stays afterwards to clean up. It's the kind of nice that will always notice a child's needs, or an older persons, or just about anyone's. It's the kind of nice that hesitates to speak, making sure his words will not offend. It's the kind of nice that quietly looks after the children in a crowd. Children always are drawn to my husband--they just seem to have a sense about his nature. Cheiko Okazaki said, "...We can never afford to be cruel or indifferent or ungenerous, because we are all connected, even if it is in a pattern that only God sees." In thirty years, I can say I have never seen my husband to be ungenerous, cruel, or indifferent.
He is so much more though than just nice. There are a lot of things most people can not know about my husband. Because he is unassuming and always kind, they can be led to believe he doesn't have opinions. And often in a room full of people discussing religion, politics, and even the weather, they may assume he is in agreement--not because he agrees, but because he listens and asks questions--seldom asserting his own ideas. Mick is very smart. He could talk endlessly about historical events, especially in the settling of the West and Native Americans. He is passionate about his home town of Grouse Creek. Even though he seldom shows anger, if you want to see steam blow out of his ears--ask him what he thinks about No Child Left Behind. He has strong opinions about politics and religion that no one else except for a few close family members know. He loves horses, nature, birds, wildlife, Yellowstone, hiking, and most of all his family, especially me. There has never been any doubt of that. My husband doesn't read my blog--should I tell him to read this one? Thanks Mick for thirty years of way more than nice.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Worth the price?

So for the last five years I've hesitated to part with the money to buy a season pass to our local resort, Beaver Mountain. Beaver is one of those places that really doesn't have a counterpart as far as I know. It's still run by the Seeholzer family, has stayed small, and has not succumbed to the zealousness of some resort owners. Well this year, I decided that I needed to ski. I needed it as much as I needed other health professionals who help me have the best quality life possible. It's easy to drop 500.00 for an experimental procedure with the hope that it will cure migraine headaches, so why did it take me so long to decide that $270.00 dollars was worth the investment in my well-being. Here I am with some potter friends, Kerri and K. Rasmussen from Hyrum. We've had lots of good laughs on the slopes, and lots of good conversations on the slopes.
Another thing I do that doesn't cost any money, but does take committment is that I walk around 3-4 miles at least 5 days a week. The other day five of us from the same neighborhood walked together. Psycho-therapy costs on average about $175.00 an hour--and it may be well worth the cost, but it certainly isn't as enjoyable as a walk in nature, or skiing with a couple of long-time friends, or new friends. The other day I skiied with someone I'd only known for a couple of walks. A few years ago, a woman who has come to become a great friend had only one criteria for a ski partner--a Democrat. She called someone she knew and asked if she knew any Democrats who skiied. Well I fit the bill and we've been great friends ever since.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Could Obama's Stimulus Package be the Miracle of the Seagulls or...

This great article from The Washington Post hits close to home to my friends from Grouse Creek. A few years ago, I took a friend and her kids out to our family's ranch house in Grouse Creek. I think the writer below describes these pests pretty well. Let's just say we were shocked at the sight of thousands of otherworldly insects crawling all over the yard, sidewalk and outside walls of the house. The inside of the house had a few too, like on the edge of the sink where I brushed my teeth the following morning. One thing the writer doesn't mention is the high-pitched chirp the critters make. And they all move in unison in response to noise--which is creepy to say the least. The article below shows that one man's pork-barrel project is another man's pork--or livelihood. Another irony here is that my guess is that McCain took close to 100% of the presidential votes cast in this tiny hamlet. We never know really what an earmark is all about unless each is scrutinized. Enjoy the article.
One of Those Earmarks That Bug People
But Utahans Consider Cricket Measure Vital

By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009; Page A01

Big bugs with bulging goggle eyes swarmed the remote Utah ranching outpost of Grouse Creek like a biblical plague. Each of the past four summers, the hungry critters known as Mormon crickets have marched by the tens of thousands over grassy hillsides, past juniper trees, across dirt roads and through ranch houses. The noisy insects have devoured crops, frightened children and threatened families' livelihoods in the tranquil high desert.
"It's almost like an Alfred Hitchcock movie," said Brent Tanner, who helps run a large cattle ranch in Grouse Creek that has been in his family since the 1870s. "You just see swarms of these large crickets that move in and can be devastating to crops, and certainly are very irritating. They'll just crawl right into your house, get up on your walls. It's enough to drive a person totally insane."

And this summer, scientists say, it's a sure bet Mormon crickets will be back.

So to the 80-odd folks who live in Grouse Creek, the $1 million congressional earmark secured by their state's junior senator to kill the insects is hardly wasteful pork, as it has been demonized. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and television comedian Jon Stewart may lampoon it as an egregious example of government spending, but to Grouse Creek, the earmark is salvation.

"Everything that's green is just gone," said Tanner's older brother, Jay, who described what happens after Mormon crickets hatch on federal land, migrate onto his family's Della Ranches and eat up acres of grass, alfalfa and cattle feed. "When the crickets come and devastate the area, then I'm done. There's really nothing I can do. It's just like coming in and stealing money out of my wallet."

The passage of a $410 billion omnibus spending bill last week rekindled the debate in Washington over lawmakers' long-standing and fiercely guarded practice of appropriating public money for pet projects. The legislation contained more than 8,500 earmarks, which together accounted for roughly 2 percent of the bill's overall spending.

President Obama, even as he imposed new rules aimed at curbing earmarks and making them more transparent, signed the bill and voiced support for lawmakers having a role in the process.

"I recognize that Congress has the power of the purse," Obama said. "As a former senator, I believe that individual members of Congress understand their districts best. And they should have the ability to respond to the needs of their communities. I don't quarrel with that."

But since the bill was introduced last month, McCain, among the most vocal critics of earmarks, has highlighted projects he considers pork-laden. Opining on his Twitter page about the Mormon crickets earmark, he asked, "Is that the species of cricket or a game played by the brits?"

(In fact, it's neither. Mormon crickets are actually katydids that got their common name when Mormon pioneers settled in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. After their first crops were harvested, according to legend, millions of voracious insects swarmed them. But a band of seagulls swept in, ate the insects and saved the crops. Ever since, the bugs have been called Mormon crickets, and the settlers, crediting divine intervention, incorporated the seagull into spiritual lore.)

On television, news anchors and late-night hosts were astir over earmarks that sounded silly: the Mormon crickets, of course, but also $1.7 million for a honeybee laboratory in Texas, $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii and $1.8 million for swine odor and manure management research in Iowa. "This bill is nothing but a porked-up pork chop of pig pork and bacon pork," Stewart deadpanned on "The Daily Show."

Earmarks do not mandate additional spending. Rather, they require federal agencies to set aside portions of their budgets for specific projects. Critics say this process has long been ripe for corruption. McCain recently called the spending provisions a "gateway drug" to possibly illegal forms of influence peddling. "This evil has grown, and it has grown, and it has grown," he said.

Indeed, former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a California Republican, are in federal prison after criminal investigations connected to multimillion-dollar earmarks, some of which were tied to campaign donations from lobbyists and their clients.
But Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said, "The trouble is not earmarks, per se. The problem is secrecy, which sometimes can lead to abuses."

When it comes to Mormon crickets, there is no quid pro quo. There are no lobbyists, unless you consider the Tanners to be members of the K Street crowd.

"Who gave me the campaign contribution with respect to Mormon crickets?" Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), the earmark's sponsor, said in an interview. "The answer is, obviously, nobody."

This is not the first year Congress has allocated funds in the budget of the Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to control the insects. Since 2002, earmarks of $350,000 to $1.1 million have been aimed at cricket control, and local officials say the controls appear to be working. At their recent peak in 2004, Mormon crickets infested about 2.8 million acres, a figure that declined to 37,500 acres in 2008, according to state data.

But officials say the insects are difficult, if not impossible, to kill off. "We don't believe eradication is possible," said Larry Lewis, spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Mormon crickets, described by scientists as cockroaches with grasshopper legs, are seasonal insects that have pervaded the American West for centuries. They hatch after the snow melts in spring, quickly grow to adult size of nearly three inches in length and usually die off by winter. They travel in bands, like locusts, and a single female can lay as many as 80 eggs.

"They grow exponentially if they're not controlled each year," Lewis said.

State officials kill the insects by laying poisonous bait -- rolled oats laced with insecticide -- around populated areas and private ranches, Lewis said. The cost is shared equally among the federal government, state government and landowners.

"They have a small effect in killing them off," said Patrick D. Lorch, a biological scientist at Kent State University who studies Mormon crickets. "Honestly, there are billions of these crickets out there."

Lately, ground zero for Mormon crickets has been Grouse Creek. There, residents said, the cricket swarms have been so dense that ranchers driving over them on a road leave behind a gooey layer as slick as ice. Townspeople keep brooms by their front doors to sweep away crickets when they open their doors. One woman woke up in the middle of the night to find a squashed cricket next to her in bed.

"It's pretty traumatic," said Duane Runyan, who teaches with his wife at Grouse Creek's two-room schoolhouse. "For miles, the town was just covered with crickets everywhere. . . . You'd walk out and at first you wouldn't want to step out there because everywhere you go you'd have this crunch and sickening grossness."

There have been economic consequences, too. In ravaging pastures, Mormon crickets leave cattle without feed, dealing a blow to Utah's agricultural economy, which Bennett valued at $340 million. So spending $1 million on cricket control to protect the area's cattle industry should be an easy choice, Bennett argues.

"Put it in purely economic terms, I believe, a case can be made that the feds make money on this exchange," he said.

Bennett, a top Republican on the Appropriations Committee and a close adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), sponsored 64 earmarks totaling $93.9 million in the latest bill, ranking him 41st among 100 senators, according to the anti-earmarks group Taxpayers for Common Sense. Bennett said his earmark for control of Mormon crickets is "as defensible a one that they'll ever find. It's good public policy, it's good economic policy, and it's the kind of thing a representative from the West should do."

Like many lawmakers, Bennett used an earmark to help solve a problem that is plaguing his constituents. Say some lawmakers: How else would the concerns of their communities be addressed in Washington?

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who represents some of the nation's poorest majority-African American communities, sponsored 31 earmarks totaling $36.1 million, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. Clyburn said it is not just his right but also his responsibility to funnel funding back home.

"If you get rid of earmarks, what happens to these communities?" Clyburn asked. "You would have more ill health, more high school dropouts, more people committing crimes. You will have all those kinds of things that come when people lose all hope."

Critics argue that lawmakers should not have unchecked authority to allocate public dollars and that these decisions should be left to federal agencies.

"I don't doubt that Utah has a serious problem with the Mormon cricket," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), one of three Democratic senators who voted against the spending bill. "I'm just not sure that it's fair to the other states. . . . I think the process of earmarking is too arbitrary."

For weeks, ranchers in Grouse Creek have listened to McCaskill, McCain and talk show hosts such as conservative Sean Hannity rail against pork-barrel spending. But they politely disagree.

"I voted for Senator McCain and I know he's straight down the line on no earmarks, but I would disagree with him," said Brent Rose, 53, who tends to 1,000 cattle on his family's sprawling ranch.

"I would ask, 'Doesn't the government have a responsibility to control the pests that come off of their land?' " Rose said before stepping back outdoors to feed his animals and prepare for summer.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring Pottery Workshop & Classes

Spring Pottery Clay Workshop: Sign up for one class and see if you like it. When Thursday Evening March 19, 7 - 9 PM. This class will be hand-building for two projects. A clay animal bank, and something else of the students choosing. For anyone age 5 & up. A great class for the whole family. Maximum for class is 10. If I have more I'll set up more classes. Cost$10.00 each and $7.00 for a second member of the family. Glazing will be scheduled according to each student.

Spring class: Monday Daytime Class Starts March 30th 9:30-11:00, April 6, 20, 27th. The class will focus on hand-building skills, and will introduce students to a brief wheel-throwing experience. The class will do Coil, pinch pots, and slab projects. Cost is $25.00 per student. $18.00 for second family member. Ages 5 & up.

Thursday Evening class: March 26th from 7:00 - 8:30. April 2,16th,23rd,& 30th.See previous description. Typically this class has had more adults than the other one.

For those who have taken the class before, we will pretty much do the same projects, although you'll have more freedom to choose what you'd like to do.

Wheel-throwing Lessons:Are still being offered at $18.00 a 90 minute lesson.Scheduled pretty much anytime.

Where: 967 E. 1000 S. Avon, Utah
How to sign up! Call Carole 435-760-2592 or email at or regular mail at above address.
Please leave good contact information.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Goals

It's March and I'm finally getting around to writing down a few goals for the new year. It's all thanks to JoLynne Lyon. She's in my writing group and is a fantastic writer. Instead of bringing something to share that she had written, she brought a notebook and made a few writing goals. She asked if we wanted to make goals too. Well last month, everything I'd written had been rejected. It's kind of hard to see author friends getting books published, having book signings, getting national contracts--I'm talking about James Dashner who is most likely too busy hanging with the stars to read my blog--but who has a huge deal for his book, "The Maze Runner." And is already doing well with Shadow Mountain. I admit I'm so green with envy I could pass for Kermit, but James is pretty funny and did buy me dessert once last year, and even bought pizza for my husband and I last week, so...I'll forgive him his successes.

Anyway, I wrote a goal to finish rewriting my Yellowstone suspense novel by the end of the month. And to write two essays and send them somewhere. So there you go. Now you know my goals and can ask me how I'm coming. Thanks to all my friends and dare I say fans who keep asking me for my third book. Someday, someday maybe someone will see fit to publish it.In the meantime, I will try to keep my spirits up as long as James Dashner buys me food every once in a while.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sweet, sacred, sad, scared, spiritual...

Sweet, sacred, sad, scared, spiritual--all of these feelings wash over me several times every day. If you've read my blog from last week, you know that we witnessed a horrific tragedy on Valentine's Day. The accident is still on my mind numerous moments each day. Since that time, I've come to know a little more about the young man who lost his life. I appreciate Josh's sister telling me more about her kind, funny, quirky brother. She had an enviable relationship with him, so losing him is all the more sorrowful. We often describe our losses as heartache. It's amazing how well that describes what happens--your heart literally hurts. The pain is physical, spiritual, and emotional. Every portion of your being is involved.

Every day I walk about three miles into South Canyon. Two days ago, I saw a Great Blue Heron. It rose from the Little Bear River and landed out of sight, but I got to see it again around the next bend. There's also a lovely kingfisher with its distinct chatter-call as it flies from tree to tree along the water. I love where I live. The sky today was mostly gray, but yesterday the sun broke through and patches of vibrant blue and white scattered across the landscape. Walking clears my head and helps me to smile. There are a lot of cows on my route and yesterday they were feeding in a barn, but when I walked past they spooked and frantically ran like they were being chased by a wolf. I actually turned around to see what they danger was, but figured out it was me. I said, "Hi little cows--it's just me." But they ran anyway.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

So so sad!

Life is fragile. A trite cliche until you witness it firsthand. By all accounts Josh was a wonderful happy BYU-I student brimming with promise. He had served a mission in Chile, the same country my son served in years earlier. On Valentines Day Joshua, his girlfriend and another friend were heading home from college for the long weekend. But he didn't make it.

We were going to Orem to visit family. The roads were slushy. Near Willard on I-15 an accident had just happened and we saw two cars pulling off onto the shoulder. My husband wanting to be sure everyone was all right also pulled over. The two drivers got out to check out the damage to their cars and exchange information most likely. As my husband walked toward the young men, a car slid out of control hitting the two men.

I won't describe what happened next. But even as I try to type this five days later, my hands tremble, my heart pounds, and my eyes tear up. Ever since being a parent, I've had a recurring nightmare of something terrifying happening and me trying to call 911 but not being able to do it. But as soon as I saw the horrific events my daughter and I jumped out of our car and ran to the scene. I wasn't aware of grabbing my cell phone, but there it was in my hand and I automatically called 911. My daughter too immediately called 911. I'm sure there were others who quickly called from their cars. Within minutes several cars had stopped. The emergency vehicles took too long to get there, but it wouldn't have mattered for Joshua. He really didn't have a chance. The other man was 31, and we haven't heard how he was doing, but he fared much better.

I'll be forever connected to Joshua DiScuillo although I didn't know him. Witnessing someone's final conscious acts on earth can do that. I wish more than anything that the accident hadn't happened. It isn't lost on me that a few feet or a few seconds difference and my husband might have been killed. But then a few seconds or a few feet difference and the car would have missed Joshua as well and everyone else. It was an unbelievable, unimaginable moment of standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. If, if, if, and why, why, why? Why him and why now?

I've thought a lot about life and death since the event. I know I won't ever be quite the same. As I tried to hug and comfort those standing at the scene who were obviously traumatized there was Josh's girlfriend huddled with another friend. They spoke in another language to each other--so I don't know what they were saying, but I can imagine the desperate prayers offered. A lone woman with a long coat trembled and cried as I hugged her. I heard her talking to someone and realized she was speaking in a bluetooth. She frantically described her car spinning out of control to an unknown person on the other end. She was the woman who had hit the young men. I can't imagine what she must be going through. The newspaper article said she was treated for shock. I hope she finds peace to continue with her life.

For those who were friends and family of Joshua DiScuillo, I offer my deepest love, my most heartfelt sympathy, and pray that you might find the comfort to go forward, always remembering your son, your brother, and your friend with warmth and fondness. But I hope that you can move forward and be happy. I have a feeling Joshua would have wanted that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Overlooked or Underrated

I just finished an amazing novel "Bound on Earth" by Angela Hallstrom. This book has a literary flair without bogging the reader down. Angela follows a cast of characters throughout their lives with interconnected stories. A few years ago I read the "The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint" by Brady Udall. I love Brady's writing, but you kind of have to go through the mind of a man whose obsessed with sex, which let's face it--might be all of them, but it gets a little old. Angela's book doesn't do that. It has Mormon characters, but again isn't bogged down by trying to attach messages. In this way the book reminds me of Chaim Potok. I expect great things from Angela in the future. She's won some well-deserved awards.

Another book that I read a few years ago which is excellent and which hasn't received the attention it deserves is Arianne Cope's "The Coming of Elijah" which won the Marilyn Brown award a few years back. Arianne is young and has so much talent everything she puts to paper sings. Her writing makes me think of Barbara Kingsolver, one of my favorite writers. I can't wait to see what Arianne will come up with next.

One more book that came out in 2007, won some awards, but has been overlooked is Logan writer Janet Kay Jensen's "Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys" named after a Mormon folksong. This book brings together two clashing cultures mainstream Mormonism with Fundamentalist polygamists. I would say this book also is somewhat literary. It asks more from the reader than many of the fast-paced LDS suspense novels, but is well worth the effort. Janet is an excellent emerging novelist.

Two movies worth shouting about are: "Lars and the Real Girl." Honestly I think this might be one of my all-time favorite movies. I've seen it twice now and then went out and bought it. It's an independent film. Some indies are too artsy and you end up watching the whole thing and saying, what the heck? Not this show. It's the sweetest movie I've ever seen without being sappy.

One that came out some time back is Saint Ralph--another gem. This one is PG13 for some masturbation scenes, which since the main character is 14 is probably apropos, but still for those sensitive be fore-warmed. This movie is charming, sweet, well-done, and has a great message. Ralph's father is dead, his mother is in the hospital in a coma and he is going to a strict Catholic school. He needs a miracle and is convinced that if he wins the Boston marathon his mother will wake up.

A television series we've enjoyed which I heard will be canceled is Eli Stone. If it isn't too late check it out. It's about an attorney with a conscience because he has visions due to a brain aneurysm. It has a lot of guest stars, like Sting and Natlie Portman. My husband and I also love Chuck and Pushing Daisies.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Her Good Name"

One of the side benefits of writing books is that I've become friends with some really cool people. One of those very cool people is Josi S. Kilpack who lives in a nearby small town. Small town people already have a connection. There's an unspoken understanding of what it's like to be able to mail a package without standing in line, to have people wave because they recognize your car--when I got a new car it took me a while to figure out that people weren't suddenly snubbing me, they were snubbing the car. And to know that most people are related, so it's best to keep your mouth shut if you're thinking about passing along some gossip. But with Josi, it's more than that conncection. She's just one of those people. You know, the kind of people you want to hang with--for the rest of your life if possible.

Josi is really a busy though. So hanging out with her for a day is difficult, let alone for the rest of your life. But there's a really easy way that everyone gets to spend time with her. And that's through her books. Picking up a book of Josi's is seriously like having her be your best friend for the afternoon. The kind of books I like to read are the ones where I feel like I could go shopping with the character and know what they would pick out to buy--take Chrissy, the main character in Her Good Name. She buys bright clothing that accentuates her cute figure, loves high heels--all different kinds--even knows the names of the types of heel, which right there says we wouldn't be friends, but she is frugal and hardworking and knows how to get a good deal. She is tough, says what she thinks, but is compassionate when it comes to the people she loves. Chrissy is proud of her Mexican-American heritage, but refuses to let people see her as a stereotype. I like Chrissy. That's why I got involved with the story when her identity is stolen and the other person gets into all sorts of trouble that messes up the real Chressaidia's life and she has to take action in a big way.

I was lucky enough to read "Her Good Name" before it actually came out in print. I highly recommend Josi's books. They really do capture your interest from the first page, gives you a bunch of new friends to hang with for a few days and even think about for long afterward. Josi is good at having each book be about something more than suspense or romance. This book brings identity theft to the forefront and includes information at the end on how to avoid becoming a victim, but the information doesn't intrude on the story.

Josi has a new book coming out in the spring. The next book proves to be a lot of fun. I've only read a chapter or two of the next one, so it will hold more surprises for me than this one did. It is a culinary mystery!