Monday, September 29, 2008

Our Brilliant Language

I was reading The Writer's Almanac today and found something that I thought interesting enough to share.

"It was on this day in 1066 that William the Conqueror of Normandy arrived on British soil. He defeated the British in the Battle of Hastings on October 14, and on Christmas Day, he was crowned King of England in Westminster Abby.

"One of the most important consequences of the Norman conquest of England was its effect on the English language. At the time, the British were speaking a combination of Saxon and Old Norse. The Normans spoke French. Over time, the languages blended, and the result was that English became a language incredibly rich in synonyms. Because the French speakers were aristocrats, the French words often became the fancy words for things. The Normans gave us "mansion"; the Saxons gave us "house." The Normans gave us "beef"; the Saxons gave us, "cow." The Normans gave us "excrement"; the Saxons gave us lots of four letter words.

"The English language has gone on accepting additions to its vocabulary ever since the Norman invasion, and it now contains more than a million words, making it one of the most diverse languages on Earth. Writers have been arguing for hundreds of years about whether this is a good thing. Walt Whitman said, "The English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all." On the other hand, the critic Cyril Connelly wrote, "The English language is like a broad river … being polluted by a string of refuse-barges tipping out their muck." And the poet Derek Walcott, who grew up in a British colony in the West Indies, said, "The English language is nobody's special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself."

I like the part about the Saxons giving us lots of four letter words. The farmers, lumberjacks, plumbers, ranchers, gangsters and rappers of America are forever grateful. I wonder if 1000 years from now the Mormons of Utah will be given credit for "fetch"?

Daily Affirmations

My thoughts exactly.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Week in Review

It's time for a very special edition of a week in review - my trip to Minnesota.

The Flight
I told you about my flight home, and promise not to go there again (if only my mind wouldn't go there again. I need one of those brain eraser things like in Men in Black). The flight out was also eventful. There was a connection in Denver, and from there I got on a small plane to Fargo, ND, which is right across the state border from where my parents are in Minnesota. Fargo is a remote town, so the planes going there are small. This was one that had to be boarded from outside. We walked out onto the tarmac and then climbed the steps into the plane. I kind of hate these kind of planes because they are more cramped and louder than usual. The good news was that the back quarter was empty, so I moved into a row all by myself. Nice!

We got moving. As we were taxiing down the runway, I heard a loud banging noise on my side of the plane, and thought that something had hit us. Strange. But we kept moving. We got in the air, and as the landing gear was folding up, I thought I saw something fly by my window. "Is that thing suppose to fly off like that?" I thought, but still we kept moving. About 15 minutes into the flight, the stewardesses, oh excuse me, flight attendants started up the drink service. A dinging noise sounded, and they all disappeared into both ends of the plane. Then, the captain got on the P.A. to tell us that we were going back to Denver for an emergency landing. There were mechanical problems. What?! Everyone stayed in their seats and kept their cool, but asked each other just what the heck was going on. The attendants kept telling us that it was going to be a normal landing. Ok, ok, we can handle that.

I sat back in my chair and stared out the window, felt calm enough, but had some crazy thoughts, like, "If this is it, am I afraid to die right now." Dramatic, yes. I decided that I wasn't all that scared. Not ready or wanting to go, of course not, but not really afraid of it either. A comforting thought? Maybe.

In the end, it was just a normal landing. We taxied back up to the airport escorted by about five fire trucks and some police cars. Were they expecting an explosion? Looked like they wanted to at least be prepared if a huge ball of fire came screaming down the runway. We found out that one of the tires had popped, which was the noise I'd heard earlier. I have to wonder, though, if there wasn't more to it than that. If it was just a popped tire, couldn't we have gone on to Fargo and done a normal landing there? Three of the four tires were still good. I don't know. I suppose going back was a necessary precaution to anything else going wrong. They had us on another plane in about 30 minutes, and we got to Fargo safe and sound.

Home with Mom and Dad
My time in Moorhead (where my parents live) was really nice. Low key, relaxing, sleeping in and home cooked meals. Loved it. Mom and I did some shopping at West Acres, a mall that's been there and our favorite for 30 years. Some stores have changed, but there are still some where I bought clothes back in high school. It's fun to go back to these places. My mom is a master of economy. She raised six kids on next to nothing, and did it partly because she doesn't throw anything away. She uses and reuses everything. I used to think it was crazy, but now it's great to go into her house and see the same furniture, dishes, wall hangings, to go through the cupboards and drawers and pull out the same stuff that was there when I was a little girl. It gives my world a sense of stability, a foundation...a home. I love pulling out something that I hadn't seen or given any thought to for years, and being flooded with the memories of it.

Mom and Dad have a huge garden, and a few nights a week they run a market where they sell the vegetables. I went there with them on Thursday to help out. Well, actually I just hung out. It was fun though. Mom and I talked about all kinds of things. She's so great. Here's a picture of the market:

And of some of the apples they had for sale.

On Friday, we went to a museum. Back in the 1980s, a man in the community built an exact replica of a Viking ship, and then got a crew together to sail it to Norway. Fascinating. Here's a picture of the bunk area. I can't imaging staying in that for weeks out in the middle of the Atlantic. Terrifying and thrilling all at the same time. The ship is small, actually this is at least half of it.
Saturday we drove to Alexandria for my cousin's wedding. The scenery was gorgeous. Green crop land, rolling hills, trees, water, and little farms scattered across the fields. This picture is a typical site there.

Alexandria is the town where I was born. We lived there until I was six, and then moved to the farm the summer after I finished Kindergarten. Most of my memories are vague, but some stand out. There was a library that we walked to, and a park with little play houses, and a huge statue of a viking. We drove back to the street where we used to live. The house is gone now, bought up by the church that stood on the opposite side of the block and turned into their parking lot. A friends house was still there though, and looked just as I had remembered it. The library was about a block away, so we walked there. I couldn't believe how close it was to the house. It seemed like a much longer walk when I was five. We went to the park, and Mom took a picture of my brother Shane's kids standing in the same place and in a pose that matches a picture that she has of my siblings and I when we were kids. She got a kick out of that. It was pretty cool. Then, we went to see the viking.
His shield says, "Alexandria, birthplace of America". It's a bold statement, and I don't really know where they get the nerve. Mom said that some centuries old tablets where found in the area years back and are now in a museum. Still, I don't know that that verifies the birthplace of America claim...?

The wedding was good fun. I saw cousins and aunts and uncles that I hadn't seen in years. My parents are converts to the church, and so all of my extended family are of other religions. I have to say that they are much better at weddings then we are. Nothing compares to a temple ceremony, of course, but I would take a Lutheran reception over a Mormon one any day! There's dinner, people dance, it's a celebration. I love it.


After the wedding, I went with Courtney and Andrea to spend a couple of days with them in Rochester, MN. They have two cute, cute boys, Spencer and Andrew, and a third baby due in March. On Sunday, the primary was practicing for their program, so I sat in the chapel and watched Spencer, who's a Sunbeam, sing the songs. He had a speaking part, "I know that Heavenly Father loves me", which he nailed. And, at a time when it was completely inappropriate, he got away from his class, ran to the microphone, yelled, "Go", and was gone again. That was his one wild moments. The rest of the time he sat nicely with his class. Had to get it out of his system, I guess.

We went to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, always exciting, on Tuesday, and then I flew home again. The week went very quickly, and in spite of the traumatizing flights, it was a very, very good trip.

That's it. Thanks, as always, for sharing this time with me.

You are loved.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Hello all. I'm back from Minnesota. It was a great trip, and I'll fill you in tomorrow, but today I'd like to share a story of horror and disgust. We'll get this out of the way. Let me tell you about my flights.

I have mixed feelings about flying. It's great for a lot of reasons, the biggest being that it's so, so much faster than driving. A road trip to my parent's house is about 20 hours, which I usually split into two days. I love a good road trip, but don't always have that kind of time. Airports are fun. All the rushing about, the business people with their lap tops and financial sections. You feel a bit like you're part of an elite crowd. And there's shopping. The gift shops in airports of other cities are fun to browse through. I like to buy a book, and then keep my bording pass in it as my bookmark. Picking people up at the airport is always nice, especially when it's family. And, I love the idea of going somewhere. Travel is exciting, and an airport has that feeling of travel more than anywhere else.

But, I hate being on an airplane. It's crowded and stuffy and you can't move. I don't like strangers well enough to be packed in like sardines with them. Having a book or magazine or movie to watch doesn't do much to distract from the fact that the person in front of me just reclined his seat, and now I'm pinned back into mine with his head six inches in front of my face. Intolerable.

This last flight connected in Denver. I got there about 8:15 Tuesday evening, had an hour lay over, then then got on the plane to Salt Lake. I always reserve the aisle seat because I can get claustrophobic and panicky trapped in next to the window. As I walked down the row to my seat, I noticed that someone was in it - a very, very large man. Very large. He had my seat, and his wife (I'm assuming) was in next to the window. They left the seat between them open. I was a little concerned that maybe the airline had made a mistake and double booked the seat, but when I got to it and told the man that it was mine, he moved over without argument. It seemed strange that he would buckle himself into what he knew was the wrong seat, but whatever. He did his best to slide into the middle, and his wife tried to push herself as close to the wall as possible so that he could get away from my spot. Still, his size took up about half of my seat. I'm not a small person myself, and need all of my seat, so seeing that I was going to have to share it with this man did not make me happy. But, I had to make the best of it. The arm rest that usually acts as a bit of a separation between bodies had to go up. He didn't fit between them. I squished down into what room was left, and then leaned as far away from him as possible to avoid too much physical contact. It was no use. We were going to be touching from shoulder to toe no matter what. I got out my magazine and silently repeated, "It's only an hour to Salt Lake. It's only an hour. It's only an hour...".

We took off. I could tell from what was going on beside me that the man's wife, who was smashed up against the wall, was not doing well. Poor woman probably couldn't breathe. After about 15 minutes into the flight, the man asked the flight attendant for an airsick bag. Not a good sign. I asked him if they needed to get out. I would have gladly moved out of the way. She said that she didn't need to go. That was a lie. Within minutes she was throwing up into the bag. I bolted. I got up and to the bathroom just as fast as I could. I would have gone anywhere to get away from that. If there's one thing I cannot stomach, it's seeing someone else not stomaching something. This is why I close my eyes during those scenes in hospital dramas. I went to the lavatory and stayed in there for about five minutes. I wasn't sick myself, but knew that I wouldn't stay healthy if I went back before that woman was done. After some time, I slowly made my way to our row, just as the man was handing the sick bag to a flight attendant (anyone who thinks that being a flight attendant is a glam job has never seen that). As I was sitting down, the man said, "I'm sorry if that got to you." OF COURSE IT GOT TO ME! WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Honestly. Why didn't she get up and go to the bathroom? Why sit there, surrounded by people, in a confined space, and puke? These questions will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I almost cried when they announced our decent into Salt Lake. Tears of relief and release. That flight was a test of my endurance. I just barely survived.

I took a long shower when I got home and tried scrub it all off of me. I felt better, but still couldn't clear my head. It took some time to go to sleep. It will be a long, long time before I get on an airplane again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Weekend in Review

Hello all. I don't have much time to write, but wanted to share some pictures from my weekend with my family. Mom, Dad, Courtney and Andrea and their boys were all here for my niece Cortni's wedding. (For those of you wondering about Courtney/Cortni, here's a brief review. My youngest brother's name is Courtney. When Aaron and Kristi got married, she had a daughter named Cortni from a previous marriage. The one was not named after the other. We just lucked out and got two of them.)

Gardner Village
On Thursday all the girls went to Gardner Village together. We love that place. It's just so cute, and the shops are great. I found all kinds of fall decorations that I feel I must have. We at lunch at Archibald's, which was very good, and then did lots of shopping. It couldn't have been better. The little boys were fascinated by the duck and fish pond. Have you seen the fish in that pond? They're gigantic! Gold fish the size of small dogs. I was scared. The boys seemed to be OK with the mutant fish, although I'm very sure that if the little one had fallen in, he would have been swallowed whole.

The village is decorated for fall. Here are Spencer and Andrew with some very large pumpkins.

The Wedding
The wedding was Friday evening. It was held at the home of a family friend of Aaron and Kristi's. They have a very large backyard that is beautifully landscaped, and a small building decorated with a French theme. It's hard to explain. You'll just have to trust me when I say that it was gorgeous.

Cortni cried through most of the ceremony - very happy tears. I don't know that I've ever seen her so happy. It's still hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that she's grown up now, and married. So strange. I'll admit that I cried during the ceremony, too.

There she is with Aaron, Kristi, and her new husband Brad.

And with her little brother Noah.

The cake and bouquet were beautiful.

This Is the Place

On Saturday some of us went to This is the Place Heritage Park. Kind of my mom's idea, and a good one. We had fun. The kids rode on trains, and ponies, and played in a miniature pioneer village, and combed out wool that was spun into string. And they ran. All over the place. For hours.

Here's Marla and her boys on the train, which took us on a tour of the park.

Everyone left for home on Sunday. It wasn't too hard to say goodbye because I will be in Minnesota with them tomorrow. Still, I felt a bit lonely after they were gone. It was a great weekend.

Thanks as always.

You are loved.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Every Family Has a Similar Story

My nephew learned a curse word from his father, my brother Courtney. Court does cuss every now and then. Of course he does. He's one of a family of cussers. We are farm kids, after all, and Dad is a master of the four-letter words. Court's language isn't awful. He just has a word or two that he'll mutter when frustrated or angry, and apparently he's muttered them a few too many times in front of Spencer.

It was last Friday. I was in the car with Courtney, his wife Andrea, and their boys, Spencer (4) and Andrew (2) on our way to my nieces wedding. Something upset Drew and made him cry. Spencer said, "His crying is hurting my ears!" Drew let out another howl, and Spencer yelled, "Damn it!" And then everyone (except for me) was yelling at Spencer. Nice.

I didn't think too much of it when it happened, but later remembered the whole scene and couldn't stop laughing. So funny. I give the kid credit for his execution. He used the word in perfect context and with great inflection. Well done. I mentioned this to Andrea, and she begged me not to laugh at (or congratulate) Spencer should I ever hear him swear again. I promised.

I do intend to tell you all about my weekend with the family and my niece's wedding, and to share pictures. It'll probably happen tomorrow. And then I'm leaving for Minnesota! So exciting.

More later...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

I Don't Get It

There are many things in this world that have been or currently are outrageously popular that I simply don't get. I've tried watching/listening/reading them, and can't figure out why the rest of the world is so crazy about it. Some are classics. I've tried even harder with these because a person really should appreciate the classics, but still...I've got nothing. It's not that I hated it (well, I hated some), I'm just not in love.

Here's a list of some of these things in no particular order:

The Godfather
Citizen Kane
The current Batman
That 37 hour BBC production of Pride and Prejudice

American Idol
Law and Order - twenty years on the air? Really? And with how many spin-offs? They coined the phrase "Ripped from the headlines!" I'm not interested.
Everybody Loves Raymond

Depeche Mode
The Spice Girls
Shania Twain - Her third album is still the best-selling recording from a female artist ever. I'm not making that up.
Kenney Chesney
All of those rappers

Wuthering Heights
The DaVinci Code
War and Peace - Actually, I might have loved it if I'd gotten through it.
Anything from Anita Stansfield - My DB coworkers will know what I'm saying here. She's written roughly one thousand books, all of which LDS women from Ogden to Spanish Fork have eagerly bought up. I read one of her books, and it was the worst reading experience of my life. Man I hate that woman.

First, let me promise you that I am not an apostate, and say that I certainly don't mean to offend anyone by dissing some hymns. It's just that there are some that different wards and Church Office Buildings I've been a part of have way over sung, leaving me wanting to groan every time I see them listed in the sacrament meeting program. There are so many other songs that are just as good, if not much better. I'm going to include Christmas songs here, too.

Because I Have Been Given Much
As Sisters in Zion
Oh My Father
A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief - This is a pretty song when done well, but most congregations don't do it well, and then it's just long.
I Believe in Christ - I feel bad writing this one, but it's true. Also too, too long.
Silent Night
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
I am I Child of God

Why are these people famous?
Jessica Simpson
Paris Hilton
Nicole Ritchie
Courtney Love

There you have it. If anyone wants to defend any item on the list, please feel free. Maybe you can make me understand.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Week in Review

It's time for another fun-filled, family-friendly edition of "A Week in Review". Gather the kids 'round, pop some corn, and enjoy.

Popped Corn
I usually spend Sunday evenings with my brother Barry and his family (he and Melody have the girls). Barry is one of the best men alive. He's smart, so funny, and is very good to people. I kind of feel sorry for anyone who will never have a conversation with him. All of you should meet him. Let me know when you're available.

Back to the story - Barry often wants us all to sit down together and watch a show after dinner. He'll say, "Let's pop some corn and watch a movie tonight." His plan hardly ever pans out. Melody often has a sporting event that she's watching (Melody is the biggest sports fan I've ever known), or the girls have something they want to do, or it gets late and I feel like I need to get home because I have to go to work the next morning. So many conflicts. But, last Sunday, all of the stars and family members aligned, we gathered in the family room and got all comfy in the couches to watch something. Picking that something proved to be more difficult than getting us all together. Melody wanted Jane Austen, Emma or Pride and Prejudice, but the girls wouldn't have it. They claim that Jane Austen movies are boring, and that it's impossible to understand what anyone is saying. This just proves how much these girls have to learn. And, their lack of exposure to the British accent is shocking. We'll have to stage an intervention one day very soon.

I saw that they had Hairspray in their DVD pile, and suggested that. It has a little something for everyone - entertainment, a solid theme, a Golden Globe for best musical/comedy. You really can't go wrong. But, the girls had watched it a thousand times since buying it, and didn't want to see it again. Barry has a collection of episodes of the old TV series Northern Exposure...? Some agreed, others didn't. Finally, we settled on The Incredibles. That's right, The Incredibles. It's a great show, very funny. I love the beginning scenes with the old news reels and Mr. Incredible talking about how he sometimes wishes that the world would just stay saved for a while, "I just cleaned this mess up!" Very clever. Still, after all of the buildup to a movie night, we end up with this? Next time, I think Barry, Melody and I should watch something British and let the girls do their own thing. Everyone being in the same house at the same time counts and family time, doesn't it?

Brideshead Revisited

I've started a new book, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I usually try to avoid buying the movie cover of any book, but made an exception this time for Emma Thompson. She's been one of my favorites since Sense and Sensibility came out in 1995. I love, love, love that movie, and couldn't be more impressed with the fact that this brilliant actress won an Oscar for writing the Sensibility screenplay. Remarkable. Brideshead is a good story. I'm about 100 pages into it, and so far not much has happened with the plot, but the characters are well developed. They live decadent lives that you can't help getting caught up in. Those Brits are genius writers. Really, what would we do without England?

Conflict Resolved
I got into a bit of a fight with a coworker at the bookstore last week. He said something rude, I told him what I thought of that, he didn't respond well, I threw something, really not one of my best days. Later I felt very bad about the way I had behaved, and so went to my coworker and apologized. He seemed to accept my apology, but that didn't keep me from stressing over it for days. I get into very few confrontations, and so when it happens, I don't handle it well. I know how to act and can usually resolve things with people, but I hold on to the anxiety forever. It's painful. I didn't really think that I was in trouble, but I was very nervous about the next time this person and I worked together. I don't know him very well, and didn't know if he'd hold a grudge.

So I prayed very hard for some help. I prayed for forgiveness, and to know how to act when I went back to work. I felt reassured that everything was fine and that there was no reason to worry anymore. I tried to believe that, but it was kind of hard to do. I should have listened though, because the next time we worked together everything was fine. We've worked together a second time since then, and again everything went well. I was so relieved. And so impressed by the power of prayer. It's remarkable that God, who is the ruler of the universe, is still a Father who listens to me and gives me the help I need. I don't always understand it, but am very grateful.

I am loving the change in the weather. Fall has always been my favorite season - the cooling temperatures, the crisp air, changing leaves, football, sweatshirts. It's all so nice. Of course, it's not quite fall yet, but this morning when I woke up a cold breeze was coming through my window, and I got that feeling of the seasons changing. It made me smile.

That's it for now. I'm going to be missing in action for a few weeks. My nieces wedding is next Friday. My parents and brother and his family will be in town, and we'll be all wrapped up in the event. And then I'm going to Minnesota for a week. So much family time! So exciting. I'm sure I'll do some short posts here and there, and then will get you all caught up when I'm back again. Until then, thanks as always for thinking of me.
You are loved.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm Not Making this Up

Working in the Missionary Department, I see a lot of names from all over the world. Here's one I found today:

C. Kiakona Hali'aalohamaikalani

Say that five times fast.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

Two Things Making me Happy

I've found a blog that I absolutely love, The Writers Almanac with Garrison Keillor. It's brilliant. Keillor is a bit of a celebrity in Minnesota. He's a writer, and the host of a popular NPR radio program broadcast from Minneapolis/St. Paul every week. He's also collected and edited two books of poetry, Good Poems, and Good Poems for Hard Times. Great, great books. I didn't care much for poetry until a friend of mine shared these with me, and completely changed my mind.

The blog has a daily post with a poem, the biography of someone fascinating who was born on that day, and sometimes an event that happened on that day in history. Today's post mentions that it was on this day in 1939 that Germany invaded Poland, which led to England and France declaring war. I thought this paragraph was particularly interesting:

But back in Germany, people were not celebrating. Most Germans remembered the horrors of the First World War, and they didn't want to go through that again. Two days after the invasion began, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. American journalist William Shirer was in Berlin as a correspondent for CBS Radio, and he wrote in his diary that day, "It has been a lovely September day, the sun shining, the air balmy, the sort of day the Berliner loves to spend in the woods or on the lakes nearby. I walked the streets. On the faces of the people astonishment, depression. Stunned."

Fascinating. It's a perspective I've never heard of or considered before.

Thing Two - It's raining. I love, love, love rainy days. They're good for the soul.

It rains fairly often in Minnesota, which keeps everything very green and alive. I miss that so much. One storm in particular sticks in my mind. It had been windy all day, and then late in the afternoon the wind stopped. Everything went dead still. I was outside, probably bringing in clothes off of the line so that they wouldn't get wet, when I noticed that the sky had gone dark green. Really green. And then, off to the west, I saw the storm clouds rolling across the sky. It was a solid wall of dark clouds, literally rolling towards us. When the rain hit it came down in sheets, and the thunder made the dishes in the cupboard rattle. So awesome.

Sometimes the storms would hit during the night and wake us all up. The thunder boomed and bounced us out of bed. The lightening lit up the house like midday.

Of course, most rain came more quietly. Soft rain that would last all day. That was my favorite. The air was cool and fresh, and smelled so clean.

Now I wait all summer for a rainy day. When when finally comes, it relaxes my head and heart. I feel content. I guess I don't know why. Maybe because it brings back a feeling of home. Whatever the reasons, I love it. This rain today makes me very happy.