Sunday, December 30, 2012

From Pollyanna to Les Miserables--movies can MOVE us.

Great movies are far and few between, but when you’ve seen one, you know it. The first time I was blown away by the big screen was in the first grade at Sharon Elementary School in Orem, Utah. The screen came out of the ceiling and I sat on the first row on a hard wooden chair. It was there I fell in love with Haley Mills as Pollyanna. But even then as young as I was, the movie stirred a sense of wanting to be a little nicer, if even a little bit. Movies can do that.

The next movie I remember having a profound effect on  me was when I was only nine or ten years old. The move was “Shenandoah” with Jimmy Stewart. Nearly every Saturday I got to go to the Scera Movie Theatre, a grand building and see a movie, the way they were meant to be experienced. Everything from Disney, to musicals, John Wayne westerns, Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, and epics like Lawrence of Arabia. My parents usually dropped me off with friends and we often walked home if it was good weather. The day I saw Shenandoah I just sat there afterward, numb with grief and the stirring that I might not ever be the same—that terrible tragedies happen and people can die. Jimmy Stewart became my favorite actor from the day on. 

When I saw “The Diary of Anne Frank” the first time, my dad had to explain to me that there would be no uniformed men pounding on our door and dragging us to prison camp, still I worried that it could happen, I hoped that Dad would build a hiding place behind our bookcase in the living room—just in case.

The first time I saw The Sound of Music, my friend Geri and I thought it was fantastic. We ran home singing the songs and when we got home, my mom wondered why we'd gotten home so early, the movie wasn’t even out yet. It was then, she told us must've left in the middle of the show—during the intermission. Still I saw enough of the movie, that I wanted to be a nun. I’m not sure I understood the difficulty of becoming a nun if you’re a Mormon. When I saw “Born Free” I wanted to raise lions in the wild. When I saw Oliver, I wanted to be a pick-pocket and live on the streets of London, but then it also made me want to be as kind as the woman in the red dress who rescues Oliver and is killed because of it. A good movie can change how we think.

One of the most moving films of my life, I saw at thirteen in an amazing theatre in Salt Lake. My dad was known for his thriftiness, yet he splurged and took us to see “Fiddler on the Roof” even before it came to Scera theatre in Orem. He wanted us to see it in seats that rocked comfortably, with surround stereo sound and a curved screen so that we could not just see the movie, but experience it. We did. Not only did I wish to be Jewish, I was spiritually uplifted. This is one movie that although it’s beautiful on television, the experience never matches that first time seeing it the way a movie like that should be watched, felt, heard, and absorbed.

Seeing “Les Miserables” was like that for me. It was spiritual—more spiritual that the finest sermon I’ve even heard. The theatre was not like the theatre my father took us to as a family, but it was still a big screen and at the end when the credits rolled, the audience clapped. I left with the desire to make 2013 a better year than 2012 was for me personally—to be just a little bit more like Jean Valjean. Earlier I made Christmas cards for my family that quoted an unknown author and was later made popular in the Mormon church by Pres. Hunter: "This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again." Experiencing “Les Miserables” made me want to take this in and do a little better. I’ll start with forgoing a grudge.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why I Wore Pants to Church Today since no one asked...

The first outfit I wore during Sacrament meeting.  Because we attended another ward  we had a break between meetings. 

My Sunday School and R.S. outfit. (no one even stared at me.)
I was pretty ambivalent about Stephanie Lauritzen's call to wear pants in support of gender equality. But something changed when I started to read all the negative comments to Stephanie's Face Book event. It wasn't the "those women should be shot in the face" comment from a BYU student that put me over the edge, it was the comment from someone named Cheryl who said, "if some women have a problem wearing a skirt to church, they should just stay home." She had time to re-think that extremely judgmental, less than empathetic comment, but she reiterated it again. Fill in the blank and see it for what it is. If someone has a problem, no matter what it is, that isn't fitting with the typical Mormon, they should just stay home. Stay home, is not the admonition from our Savior. "Come unto me, all  ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give ye rest." Brigham Young didn't tell folks to stay home either, he said that our "chapels should smell like a tavern on Sunday morning." And of course there's the idea that the church isn't a showplace for the perfect, but a hospital for sinners--which includes all of us. But then wearing pants isn't a sin at all. It's not even church policy for women to wear a skirt, rather it's a pretty strong cultural norm. So once I read Cheryl's over-the-top judgmental comment, I knew that I had to wear pants, at least for a day.

Clear back when I attended USU, over thirty years ago I lived on Darwin Avenue. I met a guy named Rich. Rich was a returned missionary: outgoing, funny, and faithful in the church. He was everyone's friend. About ten years ago, Mick and I ran into Rich and his wife. In the conversation, he asked if he'd ever told us why he'd gotten active in church. We told him he hadn't and he told this story. Remember this was the 70's."I was a freshman. I came to USU and moved in with a bunch of guys I didn't know. They were clean cut returned missionaries for the most part. When sunday rolled around, they tried to get me to go to church and I told them, no way. They pushed and finally I relented on one condition and that was that I would go just the way I was: hair to my shoulders, wearing overallls, barefoot and without a shirt, that's not a white shirt--it's not a shirt--period. Then, if one person said anything to me about my appearance, I'd never go back again. They persuaded me to at least put  a shirt on under my overalls, so I put on a T-shirt. But I still went barefoot and strolled in and sat on the front row. No one said a thing about my appearance and I kept going." Rich was a great guy, fantastic father, husband, and teacher. He died in a tragic accident shortly after he told us this story, leaving behind his wife and children. I am grateful that no one said to Rich, if you have a problem putting on a white shirt and tie--just stay home. So for Rich, I wore pants today.

When we a were young married couple with our first baby, I was called into the Young Women's (for the first time) as a counselor and advisor. I loved it and still to this day run into some of the fantastic women I taught. I'll never forget a question from one of those girls. I was dropping her off at her house after an activity and she said, "Women aren't as important as men in the church, are they?" I was shocked. I didn't feel that way. "No, that's not true. Women are every bit as important as men." "Well, all the leaders are men. When they have general conference, it's all men up there." I don't remember what I said after that because I didn't have an answer, not a good one. So for Katie* I wore pants today.

My son Trevor married Joanna, a beautiful, compassionate and outgoing woman. After they had their first baby and Trevor started a teaching job in Colorado, they saw a young woman struggling to cross the road. She was carrying a toddler in a car seat and pulling another little boy by the hand. Traffic was backing up. I can see how hard that might have been. My daughter-in-law pulled over to the shoulder, jumped out and helped the woman and her children cross the road. Then,  told her to wait, that she'd be back. She then dropped my son and the baby off so there would be room in their tiny car for the woman and her two children. Joanna went back for them and got them where they were going. Joanna found out who she was, where she lived, and befriended the woman who I'll call Tamra*, and then introduced the gospel to her. Tamra, a young African-American, single mother joined the church. She had no car to drive, no dress to wear, but made the effort to attend church--in pants. It's nice that no one in Tamra's branch made her feel unwelcome because of the way she was dressed. For Tamra and all those like her, I wore pants to church today.

My mother-in-law was before her time. In the 40's she left the small town of Garland, Utah and went to arguably one of the most liberal, but prestigious schools in the nation--University of California in Berkeley. After graduation, she taught school, then married a rancher and helped support the family. When he had to take early retirement due to a disability, she became THE provider for the family. Not only was she a good mother to my husband and his siblings, she taught him by her example qualities of a truly equal woman. She died earlier this year. I wore her blouse today in her honor. For Ruth, a feminist before her time, I wore pants today.

*not real name

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sincere Compliments can Shape Us

My granddaughter is a spirited and smart blond four-year-old. Recently she was visiting her cousins. Her cousins have a tradition that whoever says the family prayer receives compliments from the rest of the family. Darling granddaughter said the prayer so the others got to say what nice things they noticed about her. My daughter-in-law told me that as she was tucking her in for the night, her daughter was beaming. “Mommy, when everyone said all those things about me, it made me feel really happy.”

It’s also something she’s likely to remember. When we look back on our lives we see positives and negatives. Those are what stand out. Someday I’ll talk about the negative and the impact it has on us, but today I’ll talk about the positives, the compliments, the kind words that can not only make us feel happy, but can shape who we become.

I grew up in the shadows of beautiful Mount Timpanogas in Orem, Utah. Way back then there was an annual hike up the mountain for anyone who wanted to participate. Thousands each summer ascended the mountain. When I was four, the same age my granddaughter is now, my family joined the hike.  I remember the immensity of the mountain, crossing a snowfield holding my mom’s hand, and my mom and dad telling everyone later that I was such a good hiker I must be part mountain goat,

When I was six and in the first grade, my teacher Mrs. Dowdle commented to the whole class that I was a good reader. When I was in second grade, my teacher Mrs. Meservy chose me and a friend to draw a huge Thanksgiving mural in the back of the room, all by ourselves. In fifth grade, my teacher Mr. Atkinson read aloud a story I wrote to the class.

These early compliments shaped the person I am today. I am a hiker, a reader, an artist, and a writer. I wonder what might have happened had these influential adults not noticed any early talents. These things that I did as a child were not just things, they weren’t just abilities, they are who I am.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. What I once felt sure about, I no longer feel so sure about. The very foundation of my belief system has crumbled. What once gave comfort fails me. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about “Listening to the Doubts…” Many of my Facebook friends and blog readers complimented that piece. It really made me feel happy, just like my little granddaughter said.  To know that an experience I had with my daughter resonated with so many of you feels me with joy. It opened some dialogue with some family and friends that I haven’t talked to in years. Some total strangers responded with gratitude. About this same time, I had an experience in my ward where I shared a less that orthodox testimony about my doubts. (This is a more-complex version.) It flowed from my heart. Many of the people in my newer community responded with an outpouring of understanding and even love. They complimented my honesty in sharing something that many felt, but didn’t dare say.

Four and a half years ago we moved three miles from a beautiful part of Cache Valley to an even more beautiful part of Cache Valley.  And even though I love it here and have made new friends, I so miss my old ward and the friends that were a part of my weekly life. My old friends are meeting in the our building on Sundays until their new chapel is built. And today I ran into some of those old friends. One couple complimented the piece “Listening to the Doubts…” And said how much they loved it. The wife hugged me and said she missed me. Then another couple, good friends for years hugged me and told me how much they missed me. Another good friend grabbed me and hugged me. I left in tears.

We are a community. All of us. We learn from each other and we grow by sharing our experiences with each other. Those who responded with gratitude for what a wrote a few weeks ago, and for those who complimented my less-than-orthodox testimony, I thank you. So often, we hold back. We don’t say the one thing someone may need to hear. I have a friend who is a great giver of compliments. He’s a natural Dale Carnegie. He told me once that if you think something nice about someone, you should tell them. He often calls someone up, just to tell them something he noticed about them. I’m not a natural nurturer. I am reserved and less-than-demonstrative, but I will forever love and defend the person who gives me a sincere compliment. I think we are all pretty much the same in that regard. One of the friends I saw in the church hallway today is observant. He notices the tiniest details about the people around him. He and his wife gave me a pair of hiking socks for my birthday this year because they remembered me telling them how much I love a good pair of socks. They complimented me by remembering and noticing and then following through.

A couple of weeks ago our home-teacher came over and said, “I know you must get tired of hearing this, but I loved your testimony.” No, believe it or not I don’t get tired of hearing it. I get tired of not hearing it.  Does kindness ever get old? Does hearing a sincere compliment ever get tiring? Perhaps to some. But I think we ought to err on the side of complimenting anyway. I know I have so much to learn. I know there are so many times that I have failed to notice and have failed to be kind. One of my favorite lines from a movie was from the old James Stewart movie Harvey “ ‘Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”’ I do wish I was smarter, and I'm going to keep working at it, keep studying, and doing. I’m also going to have to work on giving compliments. I am going to work on being “oh so pleasant.” It’s not going to be easy. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Relying on the kindness of strangers

In a Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche DuBois said, "I have always relied on the kindness of strangers." I think all of us at times have relied on the kindness of strangers. Memories flood my mind as I type this out, mostly about people who stopped to help me when I was stranded, before cell phones when we could call a friend or family member. When my friend, Rosanna and I, traveled through Europe we definitely relied on the kindness of strangers many times. We had traveled with a tour group for a month and then we were on our own. We said goodbye to the group in London and felt terribly lonely as their bus drove away. One other new friend we made from the tour JeanAnn was with us. I was the oldest of the three at 20, but had never traveled east of Denver until this trip. I was scared most of the time, because I hated to talk to strangers--still do. Rosanna and JeanAnn were better at it. All three of us really wanted to see Scotland. I think I wanted to go there because  Thayne was a Scottish name. We road the buses along the country and were mesmerized by the rolling green, a green so intense I knew I'd never seen anything like it in nature. We loved the cows! They looked boxier than those we were accustomed to, Picasso cows we dubbed them. JeanAnn was an art history major and I was an art major, so it worked for us. Rosanna wasn't even out of high school yet.

By the time we got into Edinburgh it was a downpour. The rain that had made the hills so intensely green, was also unlike any rain we'd experienced in the dry Utah desert. We really had no idea where we were going to go. JeanAnn had a package with an address on it. She had promised to deliver the package for a friend to the mission home for a missionary. In the pouring rain we found the mission home, which ended up being where the LDS mission president lived with his wife. We knocked on the backdoor of the stately manor and a woman led us, bedraggled and forlorn, through what could only be described as the kind of kitchen you see in the English PBS mini-series, or in this case Scottish. We were led into a lovely living room. Eventually the mission president himself and his gracious wife greeted us. Yes they would see that the missionary got the package, but they wondered where we were staying and wanted to know every detail of our travels. They were parents of girls about our age and were very concerned.  When they found out that we didn't have a place yet, the mission president called a little bed and breakfast and had a missionary drive us over. Then he made sure we were picked up for dinner the next afternoon where we ate with the mission president, his very gracious wife, and two bewildered missionaries. I found out later that the missionaries were uncomfortable with this display of generosity toward young women their own age and that the previous mission president was quite unlike this jovial man. The president told us he would want someone looking out for his daughter if she were traveling in foreign countries. His name was Lamar Poulton. He not only fed us, made sure we had a place to stay, but even tried to give us money when my shoes melted against the heater in my room. I never forgot the kindness of the Poulton's.

Years later, my husband and I stopped to visit a friend in Tremonton. While we were there, the doorbell rang and nicely dressed man came to the door. They visited for a few minutes, and as the man was leaving the friend introduced the man as his insurance agent, Lamar Poulton. I hadn't recognized him, but the name sent shivers through my body as the memory of how much he'd helped me flooded my mind. I quickly asked if he'd been a mission president in Scotland and he said he had been. I relayed the incident to him that had meant so much to me and he only had a vague memory of the three weary travelers. I never saw him again and have no idea if he and his wife are alive thirty-five years later.

This is just one time when someone who had nothing to gain from me helped me. I hope that I have been that kind of person to some stranger in their journey.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Friend in Need . . .

We bought our bikes in about 1999. This is from a recent ride with Avon in the distance
One day after the bike accident

About 21 years ago we moved from the tiny hamlet of Grouse Creek in the northwest desert of Utah to Paradise. One of the first people to welcome me into town was Sherry and we've been friends ever since. On Monday a mutual friend called my cell phone to tell me she was being put in an ambulance
She is always the first person I think of when I desperately need help. Maybe I’m a bit needier than most because that desperation has happened quite a bit. Sherry is the kind of friend you call when you’ve locked yourself out of your car in the middle of the car wash in Logan, when your zipper breaks, when your daughter is sick and needs a ride home from school, when your daughter needs her dress altered for the school dance, when you’re making raspberry jam and need to know how, when your son is leaving on a mission and you need food for the farewell, when you’re sick and need a substitute teacher. She has helped me paint walls, sell pottery, supported my writing and pottery, washed windows, vacuumed floors, fed my cats, watered my plants, turned up my kiln and taken care of me when I was sick. We’ve laughed together, cried together, and argued about the minutest detail and our differing opinions. We’ve walked hundreds of miles together, rode even more miles together on bicycles, and gone on road-trips together.

I’m not sure why she hadn’t called me for a bike ride. The day was a gift, one of those last returning warm days before winter. I’m not as fast a bike rider as Sherry is, and I wonder if she decided to just head out without me. She doesn’t remember what happened, but as the days have passed she thinks she reached for her hat with one hand, and braked with the other, locking her front tire. The bike must have gone end over end. Sherry hit her face in the asphalt, then somehow crawled or dragged herself to the opposite side of the road, where a young woman found her face down. It must have been only minutes after the accident, and help arrived quickly.

Years ago, I hit my first mid-life crisis and sunk into a depression. Sherry took me into Logan to buy a supplement for depression because I felt too inward and helpless to ask, even a total stranger, for something known to treat depression. Then she helped me sign up for classes at USU, again because I wasn’t capable. She listened to me even though I wasn’t always fun to listen to. She helped me through. I graduated with a degree in English and the depression was long past by then.

Five years ago, she helped us find the property in Avon where we currently live.  She helped me get the house cleaned and ready and helped us move. I figured if she was keeping a tally of her good deeds for me over the years against mine for her, than her list was far longer. I hope she isn’t keeping track.

It wasn’t a question that I would want to be there for her at the emergency room. I was told she was conscious and that was a relief. On the drive in I imagined the worst and hoped for the best. When I saw her strapped, immobilized to a board so they could check the extent of her injuries, her face swollen and bruised, but talking ever so quietly, I was relieved. Her daughter was with her already. I had been ready to cuss her out for not wearing a helmet, but then again, it wasn’t the best time. My admiration grew for her. Bravery was not a trait I knew she had. Her only complaint was the board she was lying on, hurt the back of her head. 

I was in the ER for well over an hour before they washed the blood off her face. The blood on her face wasn’t the priority—her injuries were. Just before her husband got there they cleaned her up a bit, finished the CT scan, and un-strapped her from board. He’d been working out-of-town, so it took a while. It was sweet to see the caring of a loving husband for his wife. In wanting to comfort him, a man I considered a friend, I gave him a hug and perhaps kept my arm on his back a little bit too long, since Sherry in her halting and labored voice said, “get your hands off my husband.” Ahhh, I blurted in laughter. At that moment I was quite sure she didn’t have a brain injury. Even in all her pain, her personality was fully intact. She is going to be just fine. In time. And she’s vowed to wear a helmet in the future.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Friendly Walk in Old Paradise

As you come into Avon there is a big sign that says Welcome to Avon 733 Friendly People. Then I spotted this sign on a gate in  Avon. A Joke? Hmm, not sure I want to find out. Actually the owner of the said property is always friendly to me--still not sure I want to push my luck. 

I spotted these two friendly looking ewes heading out for their morning walk. I don't know where they were headed, but they seemed very determined to get there.

Then when I got home a bit later, our herd of friendly neighborhood deer came by. This is the little buck I was hoping would make it through the hunt. He did. He's a two point on one side, a spike on the other. I took this photo out of the window.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mining Memories

Recently my neighbor Sally and I discovered that in 1978 we were on the same tour group in Europe. It was rather a remarkable discovery since I was 20 at the time from Orem and she was 17 and from Ogden. What brought about this discovery was mentioning where we were when the LDS church made the momentous announcement that the priesthood would be extended to males of all races. I said I was in Europe and she said, "so was I. I was in a hotel in Munich and we all came running out in the halls." "Whoa! Are you kidding me?" I said. It was a bunch of kids from Ogden High (or Weber) not sure, and then a few random people from other places--me being one of them.

 I went over to her house to see a photo she found with the two of us sitting in a group shot with only one person between us. The fact that we have no memory of each other for such a life-changing trip got me thinking about the past. I dug into some stuff looking for photos of Europe and came across partial journals of the past.

I've looked up what I was doing on this date. My first diary I got in 1967, but couldn't find anything written close to October except this entry on November 23, 1968 (I was 11) "Today Orem played against Provo in football for state. I went with Shellee. Orem won. I'm so glad." 
 Strange to me that I ever wrote about sports. I remember trying to enjoy watching sports, but I was usually very bored. Shellee was one of my very best friends at the time. She was so athletic in school that had girls sports been much of an option--yes this was a long time ago--she would have been on every team. As it was she ended up in high school as a cheerleader.

The next journal I found I wrote on Sat. October 14th.  1972 Age 15: Today began with me getting up at 9:00 and watching The Flinstones Comedy Hour, then the Funky Phantom. Then I went up and sat on the roof and drew a few picture, (I love to draw.) Well now I'm here babysitting for Van Wagoners. Jean Dixon predicted we would have an earthquake. I think it was supposed to happen either today or yesterday. Well so far it hasn't and I don't think it will. I know it won't. Last night (Friday the thirteenth) Rosanna slept at my house. Shell W. took us to get some pizza. We had a good time. 

What's interesting to me here is that in my memory I never slept in. The fact that I slept until 9:00 and then watched about 2 hrs of television (cartoons!) is a surprise. My memory has me waking up around 7 and waiting for my friends to wake up so we could do something. Rosanna mentioned was on the Europe tour in 1978.

On Saturday October 13 1973 (age 16) I wrote: Well the holiday's pretty well over. (probably deer hunt--we used to get out for that. )Monday I'll be going back to the prison and the though of it doesn't put me in too great of mood besides today was a waste.
Sunday, October 14th 1973 Nothing to say about this day. ha.

Perusing the pages around these days though there are several mentions of hikes, art, movies, mountains, and my religion. I mention friends in nearly every entry. Almost nothing about my family--my brothers or my parents. At age 10 I even wrote my friends of the week which are always Shellee, Rosanna, sometimes Geri. My enemies of the week are also listed. It seems my values of course have deepened and grown through time, but what was important to me as a child, teen, and now hasn't changed as much as I would have expected. We always hear God is in the details and even though the details I shared here don't allude to that, many other entries do. My friends are still very important to me. But of course now my family is always in my heart and in every thought and in every prayer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Church in the Mountains in Montana

I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with my religion. I'm on a constant roller coaster of highs and lows, but through it all there's a been a thread binding me to my upbringing. The thread is tradition and love. In 1961 Grandpa Anderson built a cabin in Silver Gate, Montana. Silver Gate is one mile from the northeast entrance of Yellowstone. Every summer since that first year I've spent some time there. When I was really little, Sundays at the cabin were spent having a church meeting with family. I loved these meetings. They were basically testimony meetings where we'd share things that were most important to us--family, love, tradition, the truthfulness of the gospel, how much we loved the cabin, the mountains, nature... When I got my own family we've done this less often. Instead we've followed proper protocol and drove either to Yellowstone to have church at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone at an LDS branch, or later to Gardiner, Montana, but more often to the Cooke Pass LDS branch. Nothing has ever come close to as spiritual as the time I remember Grandpa and Grandma Anderson talking about how they held church in their home in Glendive, Montana because they were the only Mormons in town. Grandpa was the branch president and his family was the branch. At the Silver Gate cabin Grandpa Anderson and Dad passed the sacrament to us. Things were different back then and the Church didn't make a fuss about getting permission to do what my grandma and dad had been ordained to have authority to do. I know I've never come close to feeling the kind of love I felt at those early cabin meetings. My heart overflowed with the spirit. I wanted more than anything to feel that kind of peace and joy every day of my life. Grandpa died when I was ten. We'd said goodbye to him a week or two before at the cabin and drove back to Utah. He died in Yellowstone Park. He was fishing on the Lamar River, caught his limit, and died of a heart attack. My Uncle was with him and couldn't revive him.

It broke our hearts. But  the cabin stands as a reminder of his life, his goodness, his love, his sacrifice for his family and for his religion. He was the best of men.

A couple of weeks ago my family was at the cabin. We shared a few days with our son, his wife, and our three grandchildren. We chose to attend church at a small branch about ten miles from the cabin.  It wasn't as wonderful as those early meetings with Grandma and Grandpa--nothing could be--but it was heartwarming and the tug on my heart, the goodness, the thread that weaves through my life binding me to my upbringing and to my family and to my religion was there.

Top Ten Reasons why Church at an LDS Branch at Cooke Pass, Montana is Better

10: Chance to see wildlife on the way--especially Bison. I've never seen a bison on the way to church in Utah.
9.  I got to go with my grandkids.
8. No church responsibilities.
7.  No classrooms, so priesthood was outside in the pines.
6.  Men wore cowboy boots.
5. My daughter-in-law wore skinny jeans (not even allowed on BYU Idaho campus.) I wore pants. Mick wore jeans--so we were all comfortable. No one cared how we were dressed. I have always doubted that God cares either. 
4. Church was held in a cool cabin with family photos on the wall.
3. Testimony meeting was sweet. People spoke from their hearts and focused more of Jesus and the Atonement than I normally hear.
2. Best Sunday drive after church ever to the top of the Beartooths!
1. Instead of a mind-numbing three hours, church was two hours and they covered everything beautifully without any time for political commentaries from people in Gospel Doctrine class. 
The LDS church in Cooke Pass, Montana

Grandkids over 10,000 feet high in the Beartooths

The Summit of the Beartooths

We stopped to see a waterfall after church.

This is where we turned off for church

The Amphitheater Mountain is the mountain I've looked at from the cabin window for over 50 years.

Youngest grandchild

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's hard to be me...

Strong opinions run in the Thayne family. If you ask me my opinion on almost any subject I will probably have one. Growing up in Orem with four older and often menacing brothers, a strong-willed father, and an ever-even mother I learned early on to stick up for myself.  I learned to argue and defend and fight. Dinner-time at our house was loud. Words like shut-up, idiot, stupid, and worse were passed around with the salt and pepper shakers. Mom withstood all this with good humor. Dad just spoke louder and told us to be quiet.

At school I argued with the teachers. I talked out of turn. In 5th grade a teacher bribed me with a pop at the end of the day if I could stop talking. I put a piece of tape over my mouth to remind me and at the end of the day he took me in the faculty room and bought me a pop. That was one of the proudest moments of my life. In 6th grade I got sent out in the hall for talking. I had to sit amongst the coats until someone came for me. In 7th grade I argued with a history teacher when he said the Ku-Klux-Klan did some good things. In 8th grade I got sent to the office for being obstinate. In tenth grade I got sent to the office for wearing jeans. Yes, if you are younger than me you will find this hard to believe. In 11th grade I loved all my teachers and got along well. In 12th grade I took three hours of art each day, fell in love with pottery, but got in trouble for lying to the teacher and staying until midnight to throw pots after he'd gone home.

I'd like to say that I've improved a lot. And I have, I don't argue much with authority figures, but I feel like it. I keep quiet when I'd like to speak up. People have told me they admire my honesty. An ex-bishop said, he's never known anyone so brutally honest. If only he knew how much I keep to myself. My dad was sick with terminal cancer when he met my then future husband. And he said to Mick, "Just remember one thing and you'll get along fine. Carole is always right."  If only everyone else knew that . . .

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Author Braden Bell and his newest Book.

One of my favorite author's was Roald Dahl. I love books for younger readers that challenge and really stretch the imagination. I was drawn into Braden Bell's latest book, The Kindling, because it begins in a school setting, involves magic, strange events, intrigue, and dangerous situations. The beginning reminded me a bit of one of my favorite stories "Matilda" by Roald Dahl and a mixture of Madeline L'Engle's books. In "The Kindling" Conner Dell is confused by some special powers he seems to have and strange behaviors from the school teachers. It seems like just thinking thoughts can make things happen, like things exploding and gym shorts starting on fire. He and his friends don't know which teachers and adults to trust and even the creepy pizza delivery guy seems to keep popping up in odd places.

This is a fun book, with adventure, imagination, and touching scenes. It has some truly frightening life and death situations and keeps things moving until the end.

One of the real perks to being a writer is all the people including authors I've gotten to know. I've known Braden through LDStorymakers (an online group) for a few years now. I got a chance to interview him about his writing and his books. You can read more about him here.  And you can find out how to order a copy.  I have found Braden to be a skilled and accomplished writer. It was fun to hear more about his writing and personal life. Even though I have never met Braden, I consider him a friend. He's the kind of man who I would have wanted as a teacher growing up. It was fun to hear how similar his writing method is to my own. Hear what he has to say! I bet you might get an idea for something you want to write.

How many books have you written/published?

This is my second published book. I have a few other manuscripts I've written. 

Tell us how your teaching profession has influenced your writing?
In addition to influencing when I write (summers, etc), teaching has influenced what I write. This book, for example, is set in a small private school, which in a striking coincidence, is the same kind of school where I teach. Also, the fact that I am around middle school students all day has led me to want to write things for them that might entertain them. But also, as I watch the challenges they face, it's made me want to write things that I hope might help them get through the rocky seas of adolescence a bit easier (if that's possible). 

Obviously your students influence your writing. Are there times while you're teaching that inspiration strikes--and if so what do you do about it?

Often during a class or rehearsal, I might hear someone say something--a new idiom or expression or something that I want to remember to write down and use later. If I am able to, I'll make a quick note and email it to myself so I can write it down later. If there's not time to email myself, I try to get it planted firmly in my brain--something that seems to harder and harder to do the last year or two. 

But my students also inspire me in other ways. I haven't lifted real-life situations and put them in my book. However, I see them sometimes show great kindness, generosity, or bravery, and that inspires me to try to capture those glimpses.  I don't think most people realize what remarkable creatures middle school kids are. There's a lot of goofiness, a lot of quirks. But underneath it all, you have some really amazing human beings. My book is fantasy in terms of all the magic. But the kindness, loyalty, and bravery that the protagonists demonstrate is very real, very possible. 

When and how did you start writing?
I've been writing for most of the time I remember. At least since I was in 3rd grade. Probably before. I remember setting up an office in a quiet corner of our basement every summer, determined to have a finished book to publish by the end of the summer. It took a few decades for that to happen. 

Who are some of the authors who influence your writing style?

Dickens is very wordy, but I love his characters. They seem so real to me, and he's one of the few authors that makes me laugh out loud. Of course, the power of Shakespeare's language is something I admire. As a kid, I loved reading C. S. Lewis and  Lloyd Alexander. When I got older, I loved the imagery and thematic wizardry of Madeline L 'Engle.  I love the playful sense of fun in the early Harry Potter books. As soon as I hit "send" I'm going to think of 50 other people that I should have included. 


You are a busy man, what do you do to unwind?
No matter what's going on, or how late it is, I have to read something I enjoy before I go to sleep. Sometimes it's less than a page, but I do this every night. My wife and I also like to watch DVDs--usually BBC versions of books we like. 

If you had to choose only one book to take with you on a deserted isle (apart from religious) what book would it be?
That is a really good question. Probably the complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  

What sparked "The Kindling" into fruition?

I had it in my mind that I wanted to write a book about a secret order of wizards living in contemporary society but I didn't have a lot of ideas beyond that. Then one night, my family was driving home from some church activities. It was spring which in  TN means enormous storms. A major thunderstorm was raging outside. When my kids got home, my son told me about a weird guy they had drove past. In a huge storm, he was wearing  a black cape, walking across people's front yards. That image really stuck in my mind and as I started asking myself questions--who might that be? Why would he be out? Ideas kind of crackled and the story began to take shape. I stayed up really late that night, typing frantically in bed, trying to get it all out on paper. I think I wrote two fight scenes that night--essentially the beginning and end of the book.  

What advice would you give to young aspiring writers?
Keep writing! As much as you can. Good or bad, just write. Stories, a journal, a blog. Also, pay attention in school. I didn't listen in my English classes. So now I'm trying to go back and learn how to use commas and semi-colons properly. I really wish I had paid more attention. 

Are you a plot driven writer or a character driven writer?
Very much character driven. I suspect that is partly because I'm very right-brained in general, but also because my background is theatre, where character is everything. I've tried writing with outlines and it doesn't work very well for me. My characters are so real to me and once I get started, they seem to push the story in different directions than I had anticipated. I'm fighting with them right now, actually, as I work on the sequel to the Kindling. They don't seem to like my outline very much. 

Tell us something about your process of writing?

I usually have an image that pops in mind. A character in a situation that catches my interest. I start asking questions--what's going on, who is this person--and so on. I then start writing. I almost always write the first scene and then the last scene. Then, I fill in the middle parts. Which takes me a long time because I am really uptight about revisions and polishing. 

I'm also intensely collaborative--probably because of my theatre background. So I have a few people that I have read a chapter as soon as possible--my daughter, a critique partner, a former student. I need to get a sense that I'm on the right track. In theatre, you get a pretty immediate response when you do something, either in rehearsal or a performance. Author's may wait a year or more until they get feedback from an editor or readers. That doesn't work for me! Plus, it's helpful to find out I'm over-using a word or indulging in a bad habit  right from the beginning. Easier to prevent it than it is to go back and weed it out at the tend.  

What is the last movie you've seen in a theater--and what is the last movie you saw in a theater that you couldn't stop thinking about?

I rarely go see movies. If I watch them at all, it's usually on dvd. I think the last one I saw in a theatre was the last of the Harry Potter movies. And that was a year ago, I believe.  The last one I saw that made me think was...gosh, I'm not sure!

What is the last fiction book you read--other than your own?
I just finished The Old Curiosity Shoppe by Charles Dickens.  

What is your primary motivation for writing?
I just have to do it. I get pictures and people in my mind--still pictures or movies. I have to put them on paper and get them out.  

Finally, what is your ideal date night?

My wife and I both love a quiet night at home watching old movies on dvd (probably something with British accents) with Mexican food.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Freedom of a Bike

I remember the thrill of learning to ride a bike when I was five. It happened on first north in Orem. One of my brothers held on to the back of the bike and ran behind me and then I realized his voice was no longer right behind me. I was riding! I rode past the Downs house, past Christensen’s house and fell near the large hedge of lilac bushes right before Black’s house. I rode the bike all day and when my dad came home from work I was excited to show him my new skill. This time I rode straight up our driveway and into a sticker bush between our house and Mckenzies’. I remember Dad helped me up and I was off again—no training wheels for me. Up to McKuen’s house and back down to Blacks. It was a lot of power for a little girl.

It would be years before I would have my own bike, but eventually my parents bought me a two-speed used girls blue Schwinn in the sixth grade. Having a bike was freedom in Orem. There wasn’t anywhere you couldn’t go on a bike. Up State Street to Vern’s fruit stand for banana Creamies, or down the winding hill through the Provo River Bottoms, or down the street to the Dairy Queen for a brown dipper ice-cream cone. This was still my bike when I broke my leg skiing in the ninth grade, Never-the-less I learned to ride the bike with one leg, dangling my right leg with the thigh-high cast.

The first ten-speed I owned I bought with my own money. It was a beautiful dark green Fuji for a hundred and twenty-five dollars. When that bike was stolen the insurance money paid for a new one. Between summers in high school I rode up Provo Canyon to my friend Susan Millett’s house. She lived in Spring Dell. We would head over to the Canyon Glenn and jump off the railroad trestle into Provo River, or go for a hike, or play in the big pond there. Life could not have been any better.

When I started at BYU I sometimes rode my bike from Orem to school.  My brothers thought I was weird. What kind of a girl doesn’t care about what she looks like, rides to school eight or so miles and heads to classes all sweaty? It was invigorating. When I headed to work at Jackson Hole for the summer I took my bike. I rode up to the Tetons just for the view, or I’d head out of town to the Snake River and wade in to cool off after a hard day waiting tables at the Silver Spur.  Once my friend Rosanna and I, who also worked with me in Jackson, took off on our ten-speeds. We stopped at the grocery store and bought a small watermelon. We took turns carrying that melon in backpacks and headed into the mountains on a dirt road. We sat by a beautiful stream and between the two of us ate the entire melon. The stomachache would come later, after the heavy rainstorm that sent us scurrying back to town with mud flying up our backsides. It was the most fun I’d ever had on a bike.

After I was married and had a baby I put a baby seat on the back—and though I am horrified about it now—my baby didn’t have a helmet, but riding bikes with baby in tow kept me sane and less isolated when my husband worked all day. When the baby was in the 1st grade and we had a three year old, we moved out to Grouse Creek. Now we were a dual income family since I was teaching school too.  We bought eighteen-speed mountain bikes. Mine was a red Schwinn. My husband is still riding his Yellow Speicalized more that twenty years later.

About 13 years ago I bought a new bike. We had been living in Paradise for a few years and I made the mistake of test-riding a bike. There’s nothing like the feel of a new bike, so I bought one with shock absorption and still eighteen speeds. Another Blue Schwinn like my first bike. Full circle. Well, I loved that new bike. I took it the first day I owned it and rode ten miles up Paradise South Canyon to the top of the mountain over-looking Eden. With in a couple of months though my beautiful bike was stolen. I was at a meeting at the Paradise Church and I had parked my bike next to door. It was the middle of the day and the town was quiet. I didn’t lock my bike so was uneasy. I checked on it a time or two, and was shocked when the meeting was over and the bike was gone. My friend Annette called the police and then drove me around looking for it. I’d seen a pickup in the parking lot on one of my checks. It was brown. We drove to Mountain Crest High and started looking in the back of trucks. She drove me all over. No luck. I cried and mourned the loss of my bike.

I put up a flyer at the post office offering a reward and describing the bike, but didn’t expect to find it. A week later I came home and there was my bike sitting behind my house! I couldn’t believe it. The water-bottle carrier had been cut off with a hacksaw and the frame cut into a bit, but it wasn’t too bad. My neighbor had been waiting for me. He walked over to tell me the rest of the story. He said a man and his son were standing on my porch. He could see my bike in the back of the truck. My neighbor was a highway patrolman so he came over and said, what are you doing with Carole Warburton’s bike.  “Well my son found it and wants to return it.” My neighbor was dressed in his uniform and is a large intimidating man. “I don’t think you found the bike. Do you want to tell me what really happened?” The story came out that the man had wheedled it out of the young Logan High student that he had indeed found my bike parked next to the door at the church while he and his friends were out for a ride during lunch hour.  Eventually, the boy’s mother brought him out to meet me and apologize and pay me for damages to the bike. I took the money and told him I forgave him. I meant it. I was thrilled to have my bike back. The parents did the responsible thing. I hope the lesson was invaluable to the boy. I hope he never stole again.

Mick on the bike he bought in 1987. Mick said that I said I would only move to Grouse Creek if we bought new bikes. There were fabulous dirt roads and trails in G.C. When one of my best friends moved to G.C. in 1988 I thought I was in heaven.

On the bike that was stolen about 13 years ago.

View up South Canyon
It was on the stolen bike I rode again this morning back up South Canyon, my favorite ride. The road has gotten a lot steeper over the years and seems to be longer. Either that or I am older. :) I still love that bike, though it’s time for a new one. There’s nothing like the feel of a new bike. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What's in a Name?

I always liked my last name growing up. It was simple and in my mind sounded important and it wasn't all that common. We were told that all Thayne's in the United States were related--having all descended from two Scottish brothers John Johnson Thayne and Ebeneezer Thayne Jr. who joined the Mormon church. I liked that I came from a man with the same name as Ebeneezer Scrooge. I liked that there was a little town we drove through every year on our way to our family cabin in Silver Gate, Montana. I liked that the town was named after my ancestor. Growing up we loved to drive through Thayne and have our picture taken by the sign.

When I got married in 1979, I really didn't want to give my name up. In those days though few women kept their name and hyphenating hadn't come into vogue. So my name changed to Warburton--sounds fairly feudal as well. I kind of thought Carole Warburton sounded pretty uncommon, but when Covenant agreed to publish my first book it turned out they already had an author named Carol--noted the lack of "e"--Warburton. So they asked that I use a different last name. So I got to be Carole Thayne again. I started going by Carole Thayne Warburton whenever possible and that's the name I use on my books now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chance to read "Dead Running" and WIN COOL Prizes!

Cassidy Christensen is running.
Running from the mercenaries who killed her parents.
Running from a scheming redhead intent on making her life miserable. 
Running from painful memories that sabotage her dreams of happiness.
With two very tempting men competing for her attention, she hopes she’ll finally have someone to run to, but can she trust either of them? When secrets from her past threaten her family, Cassidy decides to stop running and fight for her future.
Buy Now only $3.99 Kindle
To celebrate the release of Dead Running we've coordinated a huge fitness giveaway. Prizes include fitness watches from MIO Global, three months online personal training from Fitcore Fitness, Beginner and Advanced yoga packages from Hugger Mugger, earbuds and armbands from iFrogz, running shoes from Altra Zero Drop, six months membership to Smithfield Recreation, one month membership to Crossfit UAC, Three Lebert Stretch Straps, and an autographed copy of Dead Running. Enter on Fitness for Mom or Cami’s Book Blog.
 I've known Cami Checkett's for a few years, but I have to admit this is the first book of hers that I've read. It won't be the last! Dead Running is a suspense book with just enough romance to make it fun. From the first page on the reader is interested to find out what will happen to this courageous and spunky young woman who has had to deal with some terrible blows in her life. We know that someone has killed Cassie's parents. And now it seems someone is after Cassidy also. She lives with her opinionated "Nana." At first I thought she was a little rude, but I grew to like that she often put her foot in her mouth and had the guts to say what she thought. She has nicknames for everyone in the book, the bad guys, the good guys, her love interests, her rivals and so on. This story was a bit like an Austen novel or even some of the old Audrey Hepburn movies particularly Charade where the main character doesn't know which of the very charming men she's fond of that she can trust. Cassie also has a sassy rival she's nicknamed hot redhead. When hot redhead goes out on a date with her new boyfriend and another potential boyfriend shows up, we along with Cassie are confused on who we're rooting for. We don't know who can and can't be trusted right up until the end.  The book deals with the very real problem of human trafficking and the dangers to anyone caught up in trying to solve such a huge crime. I don't like reviews that give away the plot so I won't do that. Hopefully you'll pick this one up and check out Cami's blog and contest.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lost and NOT Found

On a daily basis I lose things. I'm kind of scattered that way: keys, wallets, money, purses, sweaters, shoes and so on. Most of these things I eventually find though I may be late for wherever I was heading. Most "things" don't mean all that much--not in the long run. Somehow we find out what really matters when we lose something or someone that can't be replaced. Lately, I've been grieving some large losses. Things that matter.

 The first may be too personal for a public blog, and I may regain at least some of this loss. I hope so. The second big loss was my mother-in-law who I blogged about and who we buried on March 31st. She was a one-of-a-kind and a great loss to our family, her friends, and community members. Then on top of those losses another great loss for all of Paradise/Avon and Cache Valley. Twenty years ago when we moved to Paradise, the center of the community stood out.  A quaint Mormon church in a charming town.

On Easter I walked through this door for the last time ever to worship with friends. The bell in the fabulous bell tower pealed. Pealed not to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus so much as to say goodbye. Goodbye to not just the center, but the heart of the town. There's something about destroyed history. It can not be found. It can not be built again. Once gone, unlike my car keys, it's gone forever. Sometimes policies hurt. Policies should not just be made on economics and practicality. Beauty, space, tradition, and sacrifice matter. In a church that spends something like 2 billion on a mall, couldn't a little have been diverted to preserve our edifice? Shouldn't it have been?

I can't help but wonder if the demise of this building would be the same if it was in Salt Lake where the outcry could be heard and seen from church headquarters. If I sound bitter. You are right. I am bitter, but mostly sad. Paradise never was a wealthy town. In the early days, people with money built on center street in Logan. They didn't build out in the boonies. Paradise was a pioneer farming community. The church was the crown jewel.

The Northwest part of the church was built stone by stone, timber by timber in 1877.  In those days church members paid for much of the building and did all the work. They built onto the building in the 1950's and this chapel was added then. Notice the lovely color of the chapel.
                How many LDS churches built today are graced with hand-painted borders and lovely flowers--each one different? The man who painted these was in his 80's when he did it. He had worked on temple murals. These will not be preserved. They will be destroyed along with the building this week. After the meeting, we all gathered in front for photos--just like any funeral. And just like any funeral--we are left with what will never be the same again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Missing Ruth

My mother-in-law exited life last Monday night. There was no warning, no lingering illness to remind us that we need to visit more and do more and care more. The chance is gone and I feel more than raw. I didn’t appreciate enough the wonderful mother-in-law I had. Mother-in-law jokes just didn’t apply to her. Even though I married one of her precious three sons, I never felt threatened by her in any way. She exuded acceptance and tolerance even when we didn't see eye to eye. As a young wife and mother, she taught me how to bottle peaches and pears. I was so proud of that first batch I did with her. Best of all though, she taught me that what I thought mattered to her.

One of my best memories is playing Trivial Pursuit with her. I believe that Ruth was one of the most intelligent people I knew—her memory for details made her a brilliant conversationalist too. I always felt completely accepted by her and she made a point to support me whenever she could. She came to book signings. She came to pottery sales. She bought books. She bought pottery. She validated me without flattery.

Wow, I love this picture of Ruth holding her first son with her handsome husband. They lived in a big house in tiny Etna Utah. Out in the sticks doesn't begin to describe it. Could she have imagined this life just a couple of years earlier while studying at Berkley?
My husband is holding our first son. Ruth is in the stripes.
Ruth and Mick in Yellowstone
Ruth with Ginger
But as good as a mother-in-law was, she was an even better grandma. I have fond memories of her sitting on the floor of the living room and playing UNO with my kids. She also took them swimming. My kids strongly suspected they were Grandma’s favorites out of all the grandkids, but maybe the others thought so too. My children felt adored by her even though she didn’t gush or smother them with hugs. A down to earth woman who lived life simply and to the fullest. Things were not important to her, but people and relationships were.  Knowledge and education were key. She graduated from Berkley in the 1940’s when young women from rural Utah didn’t do such things. She married a rancher and moved to the tiny town of Grouse Creek. When things didn't turn out well there, she did what had to be done to survive. She eventually earned her masters degree and taught school for at least 27 years. 
Here she is holding our first grandson. She attended the blessing.

Even though she didn’t attend church all that much, if one of her kids or grandkids were giving a talk, or receiving a special calling, or going on a mission, or blessing a child, she supported them, often with her presence, but if not with an encouraging word. It was not about the church. It was about the people she cared for. When our son went on a mission she paid a monthly amount toward it and purchased his luggage. This was not a woman who had extra money. She longed to travel. She longed to fix up her house. She did manage to do some traveling, but her house never got fixed up. She sacrificed and made do and was generous to a fault.  Living life the way it should be lived didn’t amount to attending meetings. What mattered is what you did on a day-to-day basis. Ethics and moral behavior wasn’t talked about—it was lived.  I miss you Ruth. You were one of a kind.

Monday, March 19, 2012

When it comes to politics--beware!

I just offended my brother and he just offended me. This has happened before. It may happen again. I thought I'd matured, but here I am again in another election season feeling an underlying unrest. Political tension. I wonder if there's been studies done on this. My brother accused me of being too sensitive. He's right. I over-reacted. I tend to do that when I feel really alone. The other night I went to a church social and everyone asked me how the caucus was. This surprised me. The only caucus that had happened was the Democratic one. I didn't think anyone had paid attention to the fact that I am a liberal, but I guess when yours is the only Subaru in the parking lot and even more of a giveaway is the Obama sticker on the bumper. One brother-in-law laughed about the sticker, told us if we wanted to make a statement to put it on the Ford F-250, but to "put it on a Subaru is redundant."

I didn't go to the caucus. I didn't go because when I've gone before I was asked to do a lot of work. I know I should want to do work for what  I believe in, but see I've campaigned hard for the last three state legislators running on the Democratic ticket in our district and guess what? No matter how hard you work, you can only expect to garner around 30% of the vote. I believed in each one of these candidates, believed they were the most qualified, but it didn't matter.

Some of the people who asked me how the caucus was may have thought I bristled a bit. I did, but I don't know why. I guess I expected to be teased, this happens to me sometimes. One friend wonders how I sneaked into Paradise. He introduces me as the only Democrat in Paradise. I can laugh  because he's a good friend of ours, but sometimes the jokes get old. Sometimes I've had enough. Contention makes me ill--actually physically ill--and a little bit depressed. In 2008 when we were having Thanksgiving at my house and of course well into the political season. I hoped the topic of politics could be avoided so we could have a nice day. So just to make sure I had a nephew whose wit is something of a wonder, write up a little spiel to get people to lighten up a bit. It worked even though I'd heard some were offended. See you just can't win. But we had a good time avoiding political discussions. See my husband and I are about the only ones except maybe a couple of the younger generation who lean liberal, so discussions tend to be heated and one-sided. 

I did a search on my gmail and found the spiel--Here it is. It might be good advice again. I hope my nephew doesn't mind. He's a great guy. And I love him dearly.

Thaynes aren't too much into football, really, so we have to find something other than pigskin to fight over at our Thanksgiving day gatherings. Politics, of course, is what it will inevitably descend to, or an argument over global warming or evolution. But, most likely, it will be politics, with many an epithet dropped about the "liberal whackos," "socialists," and "commi-pinkos" who are ruining this country. The Thayne fratriarchy will most likely close in phalanx-like on their lone dissenting sister who had the audacity to endorse a—dare I say it—Democrat on her blog. And with recent election results leaving us with a Democrat-dominated congress and a "spread-the-wealth" quasi-socialist president threatening to bring about, as Fox News and many a Rush-ditto blog would have you believe, a new New Deal, I'm sure there will be more than enough grist for grinding in the mills of the Thayne political machine. But perhaps we could take a cue from none other than the mainspring of Thayne family politics, Ezra Taft Benson, who learned a valuable lesson by observing his father. When his father's preferred candidate lost the election to a man he strongly opposed, young Ezra was surprised to hear him pray for the man who had won the election. "Son," he said, when Ezra asked him why he prayed for that man, "I think he'll need our prayers even more than my candidate would have."

And so, may we gather together this holiday season, just slightly east of Paradise, for a day of giving thanks—thanks for a new day—and perhaps in this season of change, we could try talking about the weather.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


One of the constant blessings in my life are friends. True friends. The faces flash by as I recall my childhood and beyond. Friends have always lifted me wherever I've been in my life. Some people collect coins, stamps, spoons, or numerous other things. I collect friends. Every spot I've landed on this planet, I've been blessed with friends.

I have walking friends, lunch date friends, writer friends, art buddies, ski buddies, book-reading friends, hiking friends, DUP friends, church friends, Liberal friends, not-so Liberal friends, conservative friends, doubting friends, believing friends, online friends, not-on-line friends and so on. Then there are the friends who intersect in and out of several of these groups. And those who aren't in any of the groups, but still know how to be there when I need them.

I've been surprised by friends who recently have shown an outpouring of love and acceptance for me. Sometimes we're afraid to show who we are for fear that who we are isn't good enough, fun enough, smart enough, or whatever enough. I'm blessed with friends who see me and show me that it is enough.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No Wonder...

When I was four years old I was riding in our big white station wagon with a green stripe. I was on the front seat sitting on my feet, almost kneeling. It was just my mother and I and we were heading to Sharon School in Orem to pick up Brian. At least I think that's what we were doing. I was four after all. Anyway Mom slammed on the brakes for some mysterious reason and launched me into the windshield. Seat belts in 1961 were optional and if you had them at all they were usually tucked into the seats themselves. Car seats as we know them today did not yet exist. It would be years later before it would be an automatic response to buckle up--even after this incident.

So anyway I hit the front windshield and it broke. Lots of little cracks where my head hit and spider-webbing out from there. I think my mother said, oops and mildly told me to sit on my seat the right way. Ok she may have shown a little more concern, but my mother doesn't rile. Years later Mom  visited Sweden and felt right at home. She said she understood why the Swedes were neutral during the war. That Swede demeanor made it always seem like nothing was worth making too big of a fuss over. We continued on, picked up my brother, and did not go to the doctor. There were lots of jokes made at church and in the family about me being so hard-headed that my head broke the windshield but hardly a bruise on me.

Fifty years later--Valentine's Day. Yesterday. I lay on a table to get at MRI on my neck. Years ago I had one on my head because of a life-long problem with migraines. Now its discovered that I--at some point in my life--had whiplash so severe that it damaged my neck. My neck not only doesn't have the gentle curve its supposed to, it actually curves the wrong way. Doctor Clegg says it's no wonder I've had headaches my whole life. Well lots of people have headaches in my family, so it can't all be from whiplash. But if you've ever had an MRI and if you're the least bit claustrophobic as I am, then you'll know understand the following tips for making your MRI a bit more pleasant. If you haven't had an MRI know that you lie down on a table that moves into a space ship like tube--or a casket--take your pick. You have to be immobile for up to 40 minutes and you have a cage around your head, at least in this case. The tips would have helped me.

1. Wear comfortable and just the right temperature of clothing, not binding and women preferably no bra, then you won't have to undress.

2. Wash your hair before so that your scalp doesn't itch. Reaching up and discovering the cage on your head is freak-out time.

3. Don't think about any space alien abduction movies. Don't think about any movies where they replace your brain with someone else's or do any other kind of operation about mind-control. Don't think about Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Stepford Wives or Close Encounters. Don't think about any medical thrillers either.

4. Don't think about what it must feel like to be put in a casket alive.

5. No matter what don't open your eyes! Freak-out time. You see the cage around your face.

6. Don't eat Mexican food the night before--really poor choice. 

7. Choose a radio station that doesn't have super annoying commercials. (They will pipe this into your ears for you--I recommend it. I also wonder if you could bring your own play list. If I ever have to have another this is what I'd do.

8. Remember if you hit the panic button, you'll just have to do it all over again. This one though kept me from squeezing the button in my right hand. And believe me it isn't like they can pick up where they left off. They really have to start over. If that doesn't freak you out I don't know what will.