Friday, October 31, 2008
Halloween is good fun. I really love it. I'm planning to go over to Marla's house tonight to see cute Jonah all dressed up in his Star Wars Clone Wars costume and do some trick-or-treating. I don't have a costume for myself. In fact, it's been years since I've done that. But still, I get a real kick out of seeing everyone else’s' costumes. There are some very clever people out there.
I thought I'd do something a bit different with the Week in Review in honor of Halloween. I have a few ghost stories, personal experiences, to share. I can't say that I believe in the traditional idea of ghosts - spirits who linger and haunt long after death. I believe strongly enough in heaven and in all that we've learned in church about the afterlife to think that a person's spirit wouldn't just hang around in limbo here on earth. But, I do think that the veil between their world and ours is at times very thin. In fact, I believe that just enough to be pretty freaked out by ghost stories. Remember that movie "The Sixth Sense"? It terrified me. The kid saw dead people! I felt like someone was standing behind me in the dark for months. Of course, that was my imagination running wild. The stories I'm going to tell you are actually real.
When on my mission, I served in a little town called Benicia, CA. We lived with an older lady named Charlene Brown. She had a two-story house, and we stayed in the upstairs bedrooms. Years earlier, she had a daughter who as an adult died from cancer. The daughter was a nurse before she got sick.
I was sick for a few weeks during the time that I lived with Sister Brown. In fact, I was sent to Santa Rosa, CA to stay with the mission president and his wife and see all kinds of doctors. I don't know that they ever really decided what was wrong. During all of this, I often had a hard time sleeping. One night, while at home in Benicia, I couldn't sleep so I got up and went into the second bedroom, which we used as a studying space, to read for a while. I was sitting on the couch facing the door to the room. The hallway was dark, everyone else was asleep. While reading, I saw someone go across the doorway toward the bathroom. I didn't see her distinctly, but still felt sure that someone was there and figured it was one of my companions (there were three of us together at the time). I watched the doorway for some time, looking for her to come out of the bathroom and to see who it was. Nothing. I finally got up and looked into the hallway. No one was there. The bathroom was dark, and both of my companions were asleep in our room. Very strange.
A few days later I mentioned this to Sister Brown. She gave me a knowing smile, and then asked if "she" scared me. I said no, that I really didn't feel scared. I just thought it was weird. Sister Brown said that she was glad, and that her daughter wouldn't want to scare me. What? Yes, her daughter. I wasn't the first sister missionary to be sick in that house to have had the same sort of thing happen. Sister Brown felt sure that her daughter, who had been a nurse, would at times come to keep an eye on us, especially if one of us wasn't well. And you know, even after hearing that I didn't feel scared. It was almost a comfort.
I eventually got well, and was transferred to another area, but that experience stayed with me - the night that the ghost of our land lady's daughter popped in to see if I was ok.
Living with Heather
Heather and I lived together for a few years in a house in Sandy. Heather had a large collection of holiday decorations, and some of them had voices or noises that would go off when you past over a sensor. One was a Halloween candy dish that would cackle and drop a fake hand down on your hand when you reached in for a piece of candy. It was Halloween night. The dish was at the front door waiting for trick-or-treaters, and we were in a back room watching tv. Every now and then we'd hear the dish cackle or talk. No reason, no one was in that room. It just went off all on its own. And when it did, we just looked at each other and laughed. I suppose there could be several explanations - something must have set off the sensor. Like a ghost.
She also had a Christmas decoration, a holiday lamppost with a face and a microphone that would sing a tune when you walked past it. This one had an on/off switch, so we could shut it off and keep it from singing all day. It was set up in the family room downstairs. One day, Sierra and I were at my house, Heather wasn't there, and we thought it would be kind of funny to turn the switch on the singing decor so that it would go off and startle Heather when she came home (real pranksters, I know). So we flipped the switch and went upstairs. A few minutes later, while we were in the kitchen, the holiday lamppost started to sing. Sierra looked at me very seriously, said, "Your house is haunted Angie", and headed for the door. We didn't mess with the decorations again after that.
It may come as a surprise to learn that the Church Office Building has a few spooks lurking about, mostly on the elevators. Nicole and I had a name for the ghost on the second floor, George McGillicuty. He likes to stop your elevator on the second floor, open the door and pause for a while before letting the door close again and send you on your way. We never know if he's getting off the elevator or on, but he's doing something. He also likes to hang out in the second floor bathroom, turning on the automatic faucets and the like (really, those faucets go off by themselves. Actually, not by themselves...). One day, I was in one of the bathroom stalls and heard someone breathing. Not unusual breathing, just enough to give me the sense that someone else was there. I came out of the stall and went to the sink to wash my hands, and while there just glanced over my shoulder. All of the stalls were empty. Every door was open and no one was there. I was shocked. I knew that I'd heard someone, and that I hadn't heard anyone leave. I even bent over and looked for feet under the stalls, that's how sure I was that someone had to be there. But no, nothing. Silly George. Now that I think about it, he really shouldn't be hanging out in the women's bathroom.
There they are, some of my own ghost stories. Not too chilling I suppose, not like some others. Still, they're fun to tell.
Happy hauntings to you all.
You are loved.
"America is an either/or country," she says. "We're a black or white, pro-life or pro-choice, Democrat or Republican. There's all this splitting that we do, and we lose the wisdom of both worlds. We lose the wisdom of being able to be women at our best—blessing the journey of someone who has found their way and not trying to make it your way." Dr. Robin Smith on Oprah
"Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous." Carrie on Sex and the City
From An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde:
Lord Goring: You see, Phipps, Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear.
Phipps: Yes, my lord.
Lord Goring: Just as vulgarity is simply the conduct of other people.
Phipps: Yes, my lord.
Lord Goring: Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself.
Phipps: Yes, my lord.
Lord Goring: To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance, Phipps.
Phipps: Yes, my lord.
"Now that I look back, it seems to me that in all that deep darkness a miracle was preparing. So I am right to remember it as a blessed time, and myself as waiting in confidence, even if I had no idea what I was waiting for." Marilynne Robinson, Gilead.
Now that I reread these, maybe there is a theme: Embrace our difference (even though other people are quite dreadful), embrace ourselves, and embrace our challenges. Miracles really can grow out of dark times.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Melissa's is an interesting personality. She is very opinionated, and often shares those opinions with real force (I say this with love), which might make a person think that she's a tough cookie. But the truth is, she's one of the kindest most generous people I know. She takes good care of the people she cares about, and if I ever need help with something, I know that I can go to her, which is very nice. And, she has a strong, almost irrational sense of loyalty. Case in point - she fell in love with Pierce Brosnan back in the 80s during his Remington Steele days, and has not changed her mind about him since. She saw all of his James Bond movies, and has boycotted them since he was dumped for Daniel Craig. The James Bond franchise is now dead to her. As ridiculous as this may seem, it's a comfort to a friend. I can feel pretty sure that she'll never turn her back on me.
On with the tag. Questions A-Z:
A-Attached or Single: Attached to what? If we're talking about my Coldplay cd, then yes, very.
B-Best Friend: Marla and Melody and the whole family.
C-Cake or Pie: Cake
D-Day: I like daytime, just not before 10am.
E-Essential Item: books, peanut butter, the Internet.
F-Favorite Color: blue
G-Gummi bears or gummi worms: I'd rather not have a gummi anything.
H-Hometown: Glyndon, MN
I-Indulgences: Long naps
J-January or July: Can I pick October?
L-Life is incomplete without: Work. I really mean that. I love having a sense of purpose and feeling like I'm putting my time to good use.
M-Marriage Date: 2009?
N-Number of Siblings: 4 brothers and 1 sister.
O-Oranges or Apples: oranges
P-Phobias or Fears: Rats - they scare me so bad.
Q-Quote: "It's never too late to be who you might have been." George Elliot. And, "My friends have made the story of my life...turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy." Helen Keller
R-Reason to Smile: Someone tripping.
T-Tag: Tiffany and Nicole
U-Unknown fact about me: I really don't think that I'm as nice as people seem to think I am. I'm too much of an introvert.
V-Vacation destination of choice: I'm not going to say London again because it's getting old. Let's say the ocean or New York City.
W-Worst Habit: Starting a diet every Monday.
X-X-Rays or Ultrasounds: Would a person really have a preference?
Y-your favorite food: I can't decide. It's all so delicious.
Z-Zodiac Sign: Pisces.
Friday, October 24, 2008
The Alpine Loop
Every October, I love to get in my car and drive the Alpine Loop around Mount Timpanogos. It's so beautiful, especially when the leaves are changing color. There's one spot in particular that's my favorite. It's a small parking lot with a view over the canyon - looking down on the mountain sides. The pine trees are thick and dark green, and then there are patches of bright yellow aspens. The affect is gorgeous.
August and October are my favorite times to go up into the canyons. In August I go to the lake by Brighton Ski Resort and watch for moose. You have to go in the evening when they're coming down to drink from the lake. They're fascinating. So huge! And sometimes there are groups that come down together. My friend Heather and I saw five in one evening a few years ago. So awesome.
Wednesday I went to Lehi to have dinner with my good friend Nicole and her family. She and I used to work together here at the COB, and talk and laugh and write scathing emails to each other when we were bugged and shop at Crossroads and take walks up City Creek Canyon...it was great. She left the COB a couple of years ago when she and her husband adopted the beautiful Bridget - a sweet, sweet girl. I've really missed working with her, and am so glad that we've kept in touch.
Dinner was good fun. She made a tasty casserole, and we ate and talked, and I tried to convince Bridget that I'm not so scary. I think she was close to believing me by the end of the evening. It was so good to just sit and talk to Nicole again, about important things and unimportant things and everything in between. I love friends who stay friends even though you hardly see each other anymore. It's really nice.
Like Sands Through the Hour Glass...
My niece Sierra is 18 years old now. I know, I'm shocked too. Her birthday was October 17th. She and her family were on vacation at Disneyland on her birthday. Could there be a better place to become a legal adult? I don't think so. Sierra is a beautiful girl, always has been. When she was little, she'd hold my hand and skip along side me, just so happy and as bright as sunshine. I remember when she was born. We were at the hospital to see her, and Barry said, "It's going to be so much fun, watching her grow up.", and it has been. So, so much fun.
All my girls are growing up. Cortni is married. Sierra is graduating in the spring and talking about going away to school. Mariah has a driver's license. Savannah is finishing up Junior High, and Josie (my niece in Wisconsin) will soon be 12 and in Young Womens. It's strange, because when I think about them being babies, it feels like a long time ago, but at the same time it doesn't seem like all of this should be happening yet. I consider myself very lucky to have had the time I've spent with all of them. They are, each one, a real joy. And I pray every day for their safety and happiness. Such beautiful girls.
Left to right - Savannah 14, Sierra 18, Cortni 21 and Mariah 16.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Here he is in his pioneer bonnet.
With his Grandpa Owen (my dad).
With his brother Zachary and cousin Savannah. She must be saying something funny. William always gets a good joke.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
The little boy next to me asked what a pinkie swear is. I said that it means that you absolutely promise to do something.
He said, "It's a permanent promise?"
"Even on a play day?"
"When you're swimming?"
"No matter what."
I didn't tell him this, but having given it more thought, I've decided that scuba diving might be the one thing that gets a person out of a pinkie swear.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Amazon.com has become one of my very best friends. I don't really have a friend at the office to talk to all day (which is kind of a sad situation and might be the subject of another post), so I spend a good amount of time online. Maybe I should rename this post "True Confessions from the COB". Anyway, I have purchased several items from Amazon. You might remember that I found there a couple of books that I'd been wanting for years. This week, I found the complete original series of "As Time Goes By", an eleven dvd set. It's a British comedy starring Judy Dench that I used to watch every night on PBS, and have looked at buying several times, but it was always too much money. PBS.org wants $180 for it! Well, this week I searched Amazon, and found that I could buy it from a private seller who works through the Amazon site for $65. Jackpot! I bought it. So excited. I really, really love this website. Five stars!
I'm reading a book called "The Duchess". It's the biography of Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, and is very interesting. I tend to move a little more slowly through a biography then I do fiction just because they're not quite as much fun, but sometimes I find one that is written so much like a story, about a life that's so fascinating, that it's not much different than fiction. "John Adams" was like that, and this book is too. Georgiana lived in England in the late 1700s, and was a prominent figure in London society. She became very involved in politics, and even though women couldn't vote at the time, she was seen as very influential on elections because she could generate so much interest in her candidate of choice. And, her marriage and personal life were sheer drama, which makes for some interesting reading.
There's a new movie out staring Keira Knightly that's based on the book. Melissa and I saw it last Friday. I liked it, but it's kind of heavy. Not the beautiful, fun English period piece that Jane Austen can create. The story focuses on the circumstances of her marriage, which really were heartbreaking. I wouldn't discourage anyone from seeing it, but be warned.
Speaking of Politics
Today I got online to look into the local elections. I'm all caught up in the Presidential election this year, but I'm realizing that there are going to be other categories on the ballot when I go to vote, and maybe I should try to figure out who these people are. I'm pretty lame when it comes to local politics. So, I found the Utah Voter Information Pamphlet online and printed it out. I was expecting about ten pages, but printer just kept spitting out more and more. My eyes grew bigger with each sheet. "For crying out loud! How long is this thing?" Ninety-one pages, that's how long. I can't learn 91 pages worth of names and parties and constitutional amendments and referendums! Not in two weeks. Heck, not ever. Bah! And why on earth do they want me to vote for judges? How am I suppose to know whether or not a judge is doing his job? I'm just going to vote "yes" on keeping all of them because I would feel awful about being the reason why someone lost his job.
If you're interested in the giant pamphlet, it can be found at http://www.elections.utah.gov/. When you go to pick it up, lift with your legs. You don't want to put too much strain on your back.
I think that's it for today. I'll end with a quote from Oscar Wilde, "The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."
Thanks, as always, for all of the blogging warm fuzzies.
You are loved.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
God must have heard his pleas. One rainy day we were watching an after-school rerun when lightening hit the antenna and blew out the television set. The picture turned to fuzz. I still remember the shock and absolute horror very well. What now? I'll tell you what. Dad, being true to his word, did not buy a new tv, and we went for years without one. This happened when I was in 5th grade, and was about 10 or 11 years old, which means that the year was 1980 or 81.
In the mid 80s, my mother's aunt passed away, and we inherited her tv, and there was great rejoicing. We got all caught up on our pop culture: The Cosby Show, Family Ties, The A-team. We were part of the living world again, until that tv gave out and we were left, again, with nothing. I'm not sure of the exact years, but I think that I finished out high school without a tv in the house. Sometime during my college years, my parents finally bought a new one, and have had one ever since. My youngest brother got to do all of his homework in front of the television. That kid has always had a better life.
The point of my story is this - there is a whole generation of television that I know nothing about. I have honestly never seen an episode of Magnum PI, MacGyver, Joanie Loves Chachi, Silver Spoons or the Smurfs. I was not a fan of Full House or Growing Pains. That whole Kirk Cameron thing is lost on me. I never watched Saved by the Bell, and don't know why people still talk about it today. Was it really that good? Screech? No clue. I did see Dallas when at my best friend's house for sleepovers. Her mom was a fan. But I have no idea what Dynasty was all about.
So there you have it. I am a child of the 80s without any connection to it's television shows. I'm good with everything else. I had big hair, wore brightly colored over-sized shirts and stretch pants. I was a fan of Def Leppard and A-ha, and remember well the debut of U2s Joshua Tree album. The 80s were my era, all except for television. Kind of strange, huh?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Four Random Things I Like About my Husband/Best Friend:
I'll go with my sister, Marla, who is my best friend.
1. She calls me at work, and not always for a real reason. One time it was to tell me that the new vanilla flavored Diet Coke was in the stores. Another time she said that she'd watched "The Ring" and it really was scary. Most of the time she just wants to talk. So much fun.
2. She has gorgeous hair. It's long and thick. Her ponytail is about 2 inches in diameter. It'll curl. It looks good straight. It's everything hair should be.
3. When I need to talk about something, she lets me do it without interruption. She doesn't try to solve the problem or make me feel better or tell me where I went wrong. And she doesn't make it about herself. She doesn't tell me about all of the times when she felt the same way, or retell my story as it applies to her. She just listens and lets it be about me. That's so therapeutic. And by the time I'm done talking, I do feel better. It's a natural healing.
4. She actually sews stuff together to make her kids' Halloween costumes. One year she made dinosaur costumes for Zac and Josh. Too cute for words.
Four jobs I've had:
1. The Tastee Freeze. It's pretty much a Dairy Queen, just a different name. That was my summer job in high school.
2. A law office. I helped process claims during the Phen-Phen class action suit.
3. FranklinCovey. I worked in the Personal Coaching division.
4. Christmas help at Sears. This was years ago, the Christmas before I left on my mission. It was some anniversary of the movie ET. My job was to take pictures of kids on a bike with ET in the basket. I'm not making this up.
Four movies I've seen more than once:
1. The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
2. Sense and Sensibility - still my favorite movie ever.
3. Emma - the Gwyneth Paltrow version.
4. Napoleon Dynamite
Four TV shows I watch:
1. Mad Men
2. Brothers and Sisters
3. Friends reruns.
4. British comedy on PBS
Four Places I've Been:
1. London and Paris. That counts as one because it was all in the same trip. I'll include, too, the Chunnel - the tunnel that goes under the English Channel.
2. Cow Town in Wichita Kansas - My mom grew up in Kansas, and my grandparents lived there when I was a kid. Cow Town was an old west town/park.
3. Fargo, ND - made famous by the Coen brothers. It's actually right across the border from the small town where I grew up in Minnesota. We were part of the Fargo Ward/Stake.
4. The Bean in Millennium Park, and on the ferris wheel at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Four people who email me regularly:
1. Estee Lauder
2. Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores
3. The Writers' Almanac
Four of my Favorite foods:
1. Mom's lasagna recipe. Cottage cheese instead of ricotta. So delicious.
2. My sister-in-law Melody's mashed potatoes. She adds a whole stick of butter before mashing.
3. Pumpkin desserts - so glad it's that time of year.
4. A big ol' cheeseburger. I really like hot dogs, too.
Four places I'd like to visit:
1. London. I'd like to go again and spend more time, see all that we didn't see before, and travel outside of the city.
2. New York City. Including Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
3. Disneyland - never been.
4. San Francisco and the coast - It's been too long.
Four things I'm looking forward to this year:
I'm going to go with a full calendar year, since I've already done all that I had planned to this year.
1. Taking a trip over my birthday in March. I'm thinking of meeting my parents in Chicago and spending some time with family there.
2. Seeing Tiffany in PA in July - I'm still thinking about it Tiff.
3. Finishing my Church history book for kids, and maybe taking a trip to take pictures for it.
4. Meeting the man of my dreams, finally. If he doesn't show his face this year, I just might shoot myself in the head. After taking those trips, of course.
Four People I tag:
3. Honestly, I don't have that many friends with blogs, so all of you should just go for it.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Not much has happened this week. I feel like a writer on a weekly TV program who simply cannot come up with a script. I think that's what happened to the writers on "Grey's Anatomy" every week after the third season, which is why I stopped watching.
I have become addicted to blogs and posts and my computer. When I was on vacation, I had a hard time not being able to log on every day to read your blogs and to check mine for comments. What is it about getting comments that is such a high? I guess they validate the blog. I want to know that someone is reading, and I love knowing what you think about you see here. Are all bloggers so needy? Do you all check 15 times a day for the comment that feels like a little pat on the head? I hope so. If not then it's just me, and I might need therapy. How long before the first blog addicts rehab opens?
I don't text. And I don't get why it's so popular. But, today is my brother Barry's birthday, so I sent him a "Happy Birthday" text and told him that he's pretty much awesome. It took about 10 minutes to punch out. Did you know that you can put punctuation into a text message? I learned that today. Barry sent me a message back saying, "Thank you. I don't recognize your number. Who is this?" Nice. I wrote, "It's Angie. I'm your sister. We grew up together, which makes me a good judge of your awesomeness." He admitted that he's an idiot (his word, not mine) and said that he'd save my number this time. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the longest text conversation I've ever had. A special thanks to all who've helped come so far.
Why so soon?
We started getting Christmas stuff at the store weeks ago. I'm just disgusted by it. I can't look at the nativities without getting a little bit angry. Honestly, we couldn't even get through September this year! And it's not just a few Christmas things on a table in a corner. We have entire Christmas sections set up throughout the store. This goes against everything I believe in. I swore years ago that I wasn't going to touch Christmas until after Thanksgiving, which by the way is a wonderful holiday that deserves full recognition. But now I feel pressured to buy what I see and like because come Halloween all of the good Christmas stuff will have sold out. I am a tortured soul. The worst of it is that come Halloween, I will be sick of Christmas, and that really sucks all of the magic out of the holidays.
It is my brother's birthday. I love, love, love all of my siblings, but I have a special place in my heart for Barry. Being a single girl, I really depend on the family I grew up with to fill that family role that we all need so much. Barry, Melody and the girls have done that for me in a wonderful way. It's always been understood that I am welcome in their home. I go for Sunday dinners, most holidays, I've even sat in on visits from the Home Teachers. I've told them that when planning their food storage they should count me as another mouth to feed, and they just nod like, "Yeah, we've already got that covered."
I've really loved my time with them. They've taken care of me and have shared their family with me for all of these years, and I am more grateful than I can say.
I think I'll close with a poem I read this week. I guess it doesn't have much to do with anything else in this post, other than that I like it. The feeling here is bittersweet, and really lovely.
by Greg Watson
I told you once when we were young that
we would someday meet again.
Now, the years flown past, the letters
unwritten, I am not so certain.
It is autumn. There are toothaches hidden
in this wind, there are those determined
to bring forth winter at any cost.
I am resigned to dark blonde shadows
at stoplights, lost in the roadmaps of leaves
which point in every direction at once.
But I am wearing the shirt you stitched
two separate lifetimes ago. It is old
and falling to ash, yet every button blooms
the flowers of your design. I think of this
and I am happy, to have kissed
your mouth with the force of language,
to have spoken your name at all.
Thanks, as always, for your continued greatness.
You are loved.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
It's jimmyandjenni.blogspot.com. It's very cute, and there are pictures of their three very cute children. I know, Jimmy and Jenni with three kids is mind blowing.
I used to kid fellow employees that when you sign on with Deseret Book, you sign over the rights to your soul. You can quit your job, but you never really leave. Who knew how true that would be. Some of my best friends were made at that store, and I'm so glad that the blogger world is keeping us in touch with each other. DB lives on.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Back at It
This is the first full week I've worked since the week before my niece's wedding, which was September 12, and I have to say it was exhausting. What's up with 40 hours? And then another job too? Whose ideas was this?
That being said, it is nice to get back to a normal routine. I love vacationing, but I also love, at the end of it, to return to life as usual. My own bed, my own bathroom, a schedule. A person can be in vacation mode for only so long. For me it's about a week, and then I'm ready for my own life back. That's enough time to reap all of the rewards of a break and to feel renewed. But then, of course, after about another week to ten days, I'm not so new anymore...? Maybe a person should have a week on and then a week off.
My niece Mariah turned 16 on September 23. A monumental occasion. I was still on vacation that day, so we went shopping last Monday to find her a present. We had some dinner, and then went to the South Towne mall. Sierra works at the Mervyn's there, so we spent some quality time distracting her from her job, and then started out on our quest. It's hard for Mariah to pick something out. She's a low maintenance kid, which really is a blessing. She doesn't want for much. But, when shopping it would be kind of nice if she wanted something. We looked around for close to two hours before she settled on a large bright green pillow for her bed. Her gift from her parents is the redecorating of her room, and lime green is one of the colors they're using. So the pillow fit in nicely. She seemed happy with it.
I shouldn't complain about it taking her some time to make a decision. I honestly love spending the time with her. Mariah is a treasure. She's beautiful. She has a quiet, kind, gentle disposition. She's a self-motivated and hard worker, which is unusual for a girl her age. She does well in school because she keeps herself on task. And, she gives the best hugs in the world! So love that.
I started a new book by Garrison Keillor called "Pontoon". It's pretty good. Keillor is a brilliant comedy writer, and the narrative moves at a fast pace. It's an easy, entertaining read. My only complaint is that there is too much mention of sex, and some of it too detailed. I'm surprised to find this in a Keillor book. I guess I don't know why that is. Maybe because he does a radio show on PBS that is like something out of the 1950s? I expected his writing to be just as wholesome. That's not the case. Still, I'll finish it. I'm interested enough in the characters to want to know how it all ends.
For a long time now I have not had a show that I consistently follow. I'm not home much, and hardly ever on the same nights each week, so it's hard to stick with something. Over the last few weeks, through, I've become hooked on "Mad Men". For those unfamiliar, it's an AMC drama (is AMC right?) that's received a lot of critical acclaime. I'd heard about it here and there for some time, but it wasn't until my good friend Nicole mentioned it in a blog that I decided to give it a try. She's right. It's great. The thing that I find interesting is that the tone is quiet and subtle. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot going on. It's not loud with car chases, expolsions, or medical emergencies. It's not outrageously funny. But I find myself so intrigued. What's there is deep and intricate. And the setting in the 1960s makes it seem like visiting another world where all of the women dress beautifully and act like ladies, and your doctor smokes a cigarette while giving you an exam. Astonishing.
Heaven help me, it's time for Ladies' Night at the bookstore again. I need to get to the liquor store for something to get me through the evening. Actually, I haven't worked it for some time now. In April and last October I opened rather than closed the store, and the break was good for my soul. I think that I can handle this again.
Ladies' Night isn't what it used to be. Years ago we threw such a big party. The refreshments were great, the prizes were great, we had a great announcer (Tiff :), and women just swarmed the store. We all loved to dread it for weeks before hand, hate it in the moment, and complain about it for weeks afterward. But, looking back on it now, it was kind of fun.
Everything has been scaled back since then. The refreshments are one kind of cookie that we get from the Lion House Pantry, and in short supply. We don't have the big grand prizes for the drawings. And I think our numbers get fewer and fewer. There are still more demanding women crammed into a small space than I care to deal with, but even with that it doesn't feel the same. Over time we lost the staff members that put their whole hearts into the food and prizes. Corporate started playing too big a role and tried to get all of the stores to unify and do the same things, and the rest of us just lost our enthusiasm.
Should I ever leave the bookstore, I'll think about Ladies' Night and remember it like it used to be, and then I'll talk about how much I hated it, and then I'll smile to myself. Those of you who shared those days with me will know what I mean.
I'll close with a quote from a writer named Gore Vidal that I read about on The Writer's Almanac this morning. He said, "Style is knowing who you are, what to say, and not giving a damn."
Thanks, as always.
You are loved.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
When I was in Rochester with Courtney and Andrea, we spent a day in Austin. Courtney works a few hours a week at an eye clinic there. It's a little known fact that the Hormel company has it's home in Austin. It's unfortunate for the residents because the whole town smells a little bit like lunch meat. It's in the air. Living with that is made up for, though, in the fact that it is from this humble town that the gift of Spam, in all it's glory, is shared with the world.
Andrea, Spencer, Andrew and I went with Court to Austin with the intention of visiting the museum while he worked (poor sucker). When we got to the museum, we were told that it was closed on Mondays, and it was Monday, so we couldn't go in. What a crushing blow. Wouldn't you think that something so in demand by the masses would be open 24/7? I'll never understand. We did receive a kind mercy in the fact that the gift shop was open. We spent some time there, and I dropped about $80. I'm not kidding. I really spent $80 at the Spam gift shop. I got a can of Spam, a cookbook and hot pad for my roommate, Melissa. She still weeps with joy when she looks at it. Spencer and Drew got plastic pig piggy banks with "Spammy" written on the side. We bought a baby bowl and spoon for the baby that they'll have in March, and I got a t-shirt, a book and a fridge magnet. All Spam. Nice.
The book is great. I'd like to meet the authors because they must be very clever, funny people. They were able to write this with a fine balance between promoting Spam and mocking it. They obviously know that the product has become a bit of a joke, and have played off of that. Here are some of the chapter listings in the table of contents:
Chapter 5 The meat that won the war. How Spam may have saved the world and given us the gift of freedom (this chapter talks about the US troops during WWII eating Spam).
Chapter 6 Spam family tree. A family reunion has never been this delicious or frightening to pigs.
Chapter 11 The Spam museum. Referred to as "The Sum of All Human Knowledge."
After leaving the gift shop, we spent the rest of the afternoon at a park where the kids ran and played. Later, we had dinner at a beautiful restaurant a few miles out of town. It was surrounded by trees and on the river. The wall along the back of the dining room was all windows with a great view. They actually had a Spam dish on the menu. I don't remember what it was now. We didn't eat it.
Here are the boys at the park.
I'm sure I'll be in Rochester with them again, and we'll take another shot at visiting the museum. Until then, I'll just have to read my book and dream of that day.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
There is one moment, though, that is still very clear, and it is when we saw "King Lear" performed at Shakespeare's Globe Theater.
We didn't intend to see a play, but when we got to the Globe, we were told that a play was in progress, so they were not giving tours. We could, though, buy a five pound ticket, go into the theater and watch from the standing area.
I stood off to the side of the stage, and from there could see the play and look up into the stands at the audience. It was raining, a very soft rain that I could just barely feel. I pulled up the hood on my jacket and tried to push back as close to the stands as possible where there was a little bit of cover.
As I stood there, my eyes went back and forth, from the stage to the stands. It was all so beautiful. London, the actors, feeling the rain, looking up at the thachted roof and into the sky, hearing Shakespeare's words performed in a setting exactly as they would have been 500 years ago, I felt like I'd stepped back in time. The emotion was overwhelming. My eyes teared up, and I thanked God for giving me that small moment. I'll never forget it.