Friday, January 30, 2009

A Week in Review

Hello all. Welcome to another edition of a “Week in Review”. I’m in kind of in a mood today, so this may be moody. Fair warning.

For Crying Out Loud
It’s been a crap week. I’m not going to lie to you, or try to pretend otherwise. Remember last week when I said that I had to put the brakes on spending money and pay off some bills ASAP? Well, the day after writing that my car started having trouble. It didn’t want to start Saturday or Sunday morning. I got it started, but it was some work. I talked to Barry about it at dinner on Sunday, and he was sure that the fuel filter was clogged. So, I went to a Jiffy Lube on Monday, got a new filter and was on my way. Problem solved, I thought.

Wednesday I was on I-215 on my way home from work when I heard a terrible rattling sound coming from under the hood. Terrible rattling. The car was still moving along well, so I drove to my usual exit and pulled into the same Jiffy Lube that had replaced my fuel filter. Maybe a bolt came loose? They popped the hood, and found that a belt and the pulley that it was attached were falling off. Great. I could still drive, so I went home, called my mechanic and told them that I’d be in the next morning.

Thursday I dropped the car off. The shop people didn’t think that a belt and pulley would take much time or money, which was a relief. I got a ride to the train, and then went to work. While at work, I remembered that back in November, when I got my annual inspection, the inspection place gave me a warning on one of the tie rods. I had asked my dad about it, and he said that a tie rod is connected to the steering, and that he once had one break while he was driving and went right into the ditch. He was on a gravel country road with no one around, so no harm done. I thought about the consequences of that same thing happening to me on I-15 during rush hour, and it didn’t look pretty. I was remembering all of this yesterday and decided to call the shop and ask them to take a look at the tie rod. They said that it was in very bad shape, so I told them to replace it. They assured me that everything would be done by the end of the day.

So, after work I took the train and then walked to the shop (a short walk, maybe 20 minutes). When I got there I was told that my car wasn’t done yet, so I sat down to wait. And wait and wait and wait. The mechanic doing the work realized that he was missing a part to the pulley that was being replaced, so someone ran to a dealership to get that piece. Once back, they all realized that they had gotten the wrong piece, and someone ran back again to get the right piece. By the time they had what they needed, it was well after 6:00, which is their closing time, and they told me that they couldn’t get it done. Insert a string of obscenities here. They loaned me a car to get home with, and promised to have everything done by 9:30 this morning. I went back today, the work was done, and I paid them $530, and got in my car and went to work. $530, at a time when I’m not suppose to spend any money at all. Doesn’t it too often feel like it’s just impossible to keep a goal? I decide to tighten the purse strings, and within days my car falls apart. Nice. How ironic.

The truth is, I probably should have bought a new car a couple of years ago. I had a window of financial opportunity then, when I really could have done it. But my car was fine then, and I couldn’t see taking out a loan and another monthly payment when I didn’t really need to. I kind of regret that now.

But, when I think about it, I realize that I really love my car. We’ve been together for 12 years and 240,000 miles. It’s taken me from San Francisco to Wichita, Kansas, to Minnesota and Chicago. We’ve been through 2 break-ins and one theft. Yes, it was actually stolen a couple of years ago, and I got it back. It’s taken me for long drives when I needed to get away – it’s seen me cry my eyes out. It’s heard my prayers at times when I was desperate for help and spoke out loud to God. Together, we've taken the kids for drives, listened to countless hours of Disney tunes and "High School Musical". It's heard the best singing I've ever done. This car has been with me through the best and worst years of my life. So really, how can I just get rid of it? I don’t know that I can. Not yet anyway.

I do have to wonder, even though the repairs were stressful and expensive, if maybe there wasn’t some divine intervention involved in making that belt and pulley fall off on Wednesday? Like I said, it led to me replacing the tie rod, and if I hadn’t done that, and it had broken on the freeway, I would have been in a serious accident. Maybe this wasn’t such a crap week. Maybe this was a week in which I saw some evidence of Heavenly Father watching over me? I’d like to think so.

There, I feel better now that I’ve gotten all of that out. Thanks for listening.

I did warn that I’m moody today.

Lets move on.

The Store
One of the supervisors at DB left a couple of weeks ago, and I learned on Tuesday that my friend Melanie will take his place. Hooray! She’ll do a great job, and it’s so nice to have a good supervisor. I’m really glad that she got this promotion – for her sake and mine.

I signed up for my next online class through BYU this week – British Literary History. Sounds fancy, huh? I’m looking forward to it. The syllabus lists a lot of old, old classics. Should be very interesting.

Jane Eyre
Speaking of classics, I was felling like reading one, so I started “Jane Eyre”. It’s been years since I read it. Loved it then, and am loving it now. I’ve collected copies of “Jane Eyre” over the last few years. I got the idea from a movie – one of the characters collected the book, and I thought that was kind of cool. I’ve found some nice hardbound copies in stores, and ordered an old, old copy of off, and my collection is getting to be a good one. When I see a nice or original looking edition, I grab it.

The BBC did a two part miniseries in 2006 staring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stevens. It’s very good, really very good. I’m sure you can rent the DVD now. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Hey! Now that I can post videos I can share a trailer through the magic of YouTube. Here you go:

So dramatic!

Well, I think that’s it for now. This has gotten long! Thanks, as always, for your continued excellence.
You are loved.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I finally figured out how to post a video from YouTube, with some help from my friend Elise. I feel elated. Please enjoy the following from Coldplay. It's odd, fun, a little bit bizarre, and very British.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Who are you talking to?

About a year and a half ago, I discovered my good friend Tiffany's blog, and thought it was brilliant! Not just because she does a good job with it, but because it was my first experience with a blog, and I thought that she had created something original and amazing.

Then other friends told me about their blogs, namely Nicole and Kelli, and I loved those blogs because I felt like I was still in touch with friends who I didn't see much anymore, and I liked knowing what was going on with them (of course, Tiff, you're still original and amazing, just not the only one blogging anymore :).

When I decided to do this myself, it was for that same reason - so that friends and family could know what's up with me. It's been fun, really fun. I honestly don't know that my family reads my blog, I'd like them to, but I have very little evidence that they're paying attention. But I do get regular comments from Tiffany, Nicole and Kelli. I consider them my audience, and always have them in mind when I'm writing. Sure there are others who read, and sometime I'll think, "Sierra will laugh at this." or "My mom might like this." Marla has told me that she checks in now and then. But still, I know for sure that those three friends are constant, and so they, in my brain, are who I'm talking to.

Lately I've learned that others are looking at my blog. Some are folks I know, others are people I've never met. The blog world reaches far, and yet is so small (kind of like the real world), and all it takes is hitting a link on a friend's blog to find something from a total stranger that you like to read and then start checking regularly. It feels a little strange to know that these people are reading what's here, and it makes me wonder if I should be more careful or thoughtful about what I write, but then I think no, I'll still just write to Tiff, Nicole and Kelli. They're my friends, and have always brought out good things in me, and I'm comfortable with them.

(Clarification - What I've written here in no way means that I don't want others reading my blog. All are welcome. Please keep checking in.)

So who are you talking to? Do you have anyone specific in mind when you write, or are you just writing? It would be interesting to know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I don't think it's the real God

I was reading from one of my new favorites, My Religious Blog, today and decided to look through his list of followed blogs. Among the names I found God, and "God's Blog". I laughed out loud. I know it's risky to laugh at this, and I might have to answer for it later, and sharing it might get me into even deeper trouble, but I can't help myself. Here it is - a post from God's blog.

Let your conscience be your guide.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Week in Review

Hello All. It’s time for another spellbinding episode of “A Week in Review”. I haven’t done any other posts this week, so I might actually have something to say this time.

I’m at work right now, and have work to do, and am avoiding it to write a post instead. My boss doesn’t know.

Martin Luther King Day
Monday was a holiday for us office working types, and I celebrated my human rights by sleeping in. You know how some people say that when you have a schedule, your body adjusts and will naturally wake up at a certain time? That has never happened to me. I get up about 6:15ish on week days, but on a day when the alarm doesn’t go off I sleep like the dead for hours past 6:15. It’s my own special talent.

After getting up, I called Marla to see what they were doing. Luckily for me she had nothing going on, so we got together for some errand running. William and Jonah came with us. I know I’ve gone on and on about how cute William is, but honestly, I have a hard time taking my eyes off of him. When that baby is in the room, he’s all I want to look at. Good thing that he’s in a car seat in the back of the car when I’m driving. We went to the bookstore so that I could check the schedule, and then to Target. Wonderful, beautiful Target.

Jonah has lately had a special interest in seeing my apartment, so we went there after Target. I don’t know how he got it into his head, but lately he’s been saying things like, “Why don’t I ever get to see your apartment?” And “We never go to your house.” It surprised me that he wanted to go there so much, but I was happy to give him a tour. He did seem to like all of the family pictures that are up in my room, especially the ones of him and his brothers.

After shopping, Marla and I dropped the boys off with their dad at home and went to Chili’s. We love, love, love the chips and queso. Delicious. I love a good day with Marla. She’s a nice one to have around.

There was a Verizon Wireless store next to the Chili’s, and I needed a new phone, so we decided to stop in. My phone is years old and was dying. The battery wouldn’t last for more than two conversations. I don’t do much with my phone, other than talk to people, so I was looking at the simplest things they had. The sales person came up to help, and asked if I wanted internet and email? “No.” Did I need a keyboard for texting? “No.” What I needed was to be able to make and receive a phone call. They had a good looking LG on sale for $50 with a $50 rebate. Sold. It’s a much nicer phone than I had before, with a couple of new features (well, new to me). I can now download good ringtones rather than using the cheesy tunes that are already loaded in – I got some Coldplay songs! And I now have a camera, which will be very cool. A techo geek I am not, but the phone is fun. It’s ok if you are rolling your eyes and thinking, “Ang, you’re about 5 years behind the times” (Sierra). I know I am. I know.

I finished the book “Gilead” this week. I can’t tell you how good it is, and wish that I could give you all a copy and then make you read it. What a great story. Marilynne Robison worked some of the most beautiful paragraphs I’ve ever read, and there’s a depth to it that a person rarely finds in a novel. If you read it, please tell me what you think. I’d love to know.

What have I done?
December is a month for spending money, and some of that carries over into the first part of January. I find myself just buying stuff all Christmas season without giving enough thought to where the money is coming from and what might be left in my account. And then it’s hard to put the brakes on it when the holidays are over – especially with all of the sales going on. I think that everyone has a hard time putting their wallets away. The bookstore stays very busy for a few weeks after New Year’s. One Saturday earlier this month I was working the cash register, and had a long line, and kept thinking, “What is going on! Christmas is over. Why are you shopping? Go home. All of you. Right now!” Then later that day I was at the mall standing in a long line and had to laugh at myself.

This week I finally took a good look at my finances and almost cried. I am BROKE. Time to rein myself in – nothing new for me for a very long time (glad I had already bought the phone). I hate this so much, but it’ll me good for me right? A little self discipline. Sure. My eyes are starting to tear up again.

I think that’s it for today. Have I told you all how much I love reading your blogs, and feeling like we’re keeping in touch in this webbed up world? It’s the best.

Thanks, as always, for your absolute greatness.
You are loved.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So Cute

William and Jonah

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Week in Review

Hello All. It's time once again for the beloved post, "A Week in Review". Brought to you by Crisco - good for all of your baking needs.

I called in sick to work today. I have chronic sinusitis. I have it, but don't know how to spell it, that might not be right. Anyway, sinusitis is a fancy word for being stuffed up all of the time, and then every 6 weeks or so developing a sinus infection. I hate it. My own doctor is at a loss as to what to do, and I've been to allergists and ENTs, had a C-scan done - nothing. The allergist said that I don't have an allergy that causes the problem, but instead have non-allergic rhinitis (nothing to do with rhinoceroses, it's a nose term) and will just be stuffy all of the time.

I'm sorry. I've just realized that this is boring. Let's move on.

So this week the stuffiness built into full-on sinus pain and exhaustion, and so I decided to stay home today. It's very difficult to decide to call in sick. I suppose I also have, along with the over active nose, an over active sense of guilt. Sometimes it's easy - when I'm so sick that I really can't function, then the decision is clear. But then there are those times when I'm miserable, but can still go to work if I have to, but really don't want to, and feel like I'll never get better if I don't take a day off, and then think that it's lame to stay home when I really can go... the inner debate goes on for about 30 minutes. Today the "stay home" voice won. I'm glad. My head really does hurt.

You know, when I'm sick I often think of all of you who have kids and really can't call in sick. That would suck. Marla's cute baby, little William, doesn't sleep at night, so she doesn't sleep at night. I honestly don't know how she does it. Of course, I'd love to have kids. It's still my biggest dream, but I sure would miss sleeping all day when I don't feel well.

Still there
I've noticed this week again that the people are still lined up at the Church Family History Library at 7:30 am. Even in January, when it's kind of chilly out before the sun comes up, those folks will not be kept from being the first ones through the door. They've got to be crazy. I mentioned before having them fill out a questionnaire to try to gain some understanding. The first question was:

1. What is wrong with you?

And then I think I'd follow up with something like:

2. Are you lost?

3. Have you mistaken the Family History Library for an IHOP or the Denny's?

This is an important question. If these poor souls think that they are going to get some delicious pancakes with a side of bacon and sausages as soon as those doors open, they are in for a terrible shock. It could make them shout obscenities, and we can't have that on Church property.

I've decided to start up French classes again. Some years ago, I signed up for French through the Continuing Education program at the U. They offered two classes, and when those were done, my teacher told us (kind of secretly so that she wouldn't get into trouble with the U) that she taught private classes in her home. So I started to study with her, every Monday evening from 6-7:30. It was fun. Her name is Catherine Thorpe, and she grew up in Paris. Along with working for the U, she does translation for the Church. Her language skills really are incredible. Her husband is a professional photographer, in fact, that's how they met. He was in Paris taking pictures. He does beautiful work, and their living room, where we have class, is full of pictures of Paris and France. It's gorgeous.

I have been studying with her for a few years. My French isn't great, not at all, but when Melody and I were in Paris last May I did speak some French with the Parisians, and it was really cool. I felt so good about that.

Last fall I felt like I had too much going on, so I took a break from classes. But now I'm really missing it. I called Catherine yesterday. My class is now on Wednesdays, and I think that I'll go ahead with it. I'm actually really excited about going back.

I think that's it. Thanks, as always, for your kind attention.
You are loved.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Honoring my Father and Mother

I've been reading about the terrible cold snap in the Northern Midwest (Grand Forks North Dakota hit a new record low of 37 degrees below zero this week), so this morning I called home to see how my parents are doing.

Me, “Hi Dad. I heard it’s cold there.”

Dad, very cheerfully, “Yeah, this morning it was 20 below! But it’s going to warm up. It should be 30 degrees by Saturday.”

Me, “That’s 50 degrees warmer than it is right now.”

Some friendly chatting.

Me, “Well, put on something warm and go back to bed until it’s over.”

Dad, “Oh no. Mom is already up and at work (she substitutes in the elementary schools), and I’m going over to a meeting, and then am going to check out a new part time job.”

That’s my dad, out running errands when it’s -20 degrees. He and mom are both in their 70s now, and still not even arctic winds can stop them. It’s either incredible stamina, or they're senile. Either way, I can't help shaking my head and laughing.

I know that people think that I’m very obnoxious when I tell them that Utah winters are nothing, that 30 degrees isn’t cold, and that they have no idea what cold is. I suppose it is obnoxious, but until these people have withstood a week of subzero temperatures, until they get up and go to work when it’s 20 below, they really can’t talk about cold.

Mom and Dad, you really are remarkable.

Something to Add to Your List

Melissa clued me into this blog, and I really think that you should read it - very funny. I really wish that I was so clever. Here it is, "My Religious Blog". Enjoy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

50 Random Thoughts as Fast as I Can

I got this idea from Tiffany. She started a bit of a trend with it, and I'm going to join in.

1. I am so glad that Kate Winslet won not one, but 2 Golden Globes last night! She's been nominated 5 times, and this is her first win. Here she is getting a kiss from her husband.

2. I've been a fan of Kate since "Sense and Sensibility" came out in 1995.

3. I hope this means that she'll get an Oscar too.

4. "Sense and Sensibility" is still my favorite movie.

5. Jane Austen books make the best movies.

6. Almost better movies than books.

7. When in London, I saw some of Austen's manuscripts at the British Library.

8. The manuscript for "Jane Eyre" was there too.

9. It's one of my favorite books.

10. I'd go back to London right now if I could.

11. I spent some time with Jonah and William yesterday.

12. We went for a drive.

13. Jonah seemed surprised and disappointed by the fact that our outing really was just a drive.

14. Usually when Jonah and I are together it ends in me buying him stuff.

15. Yesterday I held tough.

16. When he realized his fate, he decided on a nap in the car.

17. Good boy.

18. A nap solves everything.

19. I napped for about 2 hours on Saturday.

20. And then went with Melissa to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

21. Very good show, although a little sadder than I had expected.

22. I'm wearing a gray turtle-neck sweater today.

23. Love sweaters.

24. Also loving 11:00 church this year.

25. I need to get started on my Primary lesson for Sunday.

26. There are about 16 different movies that I need to see before they leave the theater.

27. I don't really like odd numbers.

28. Except for 5, which kind of seems like an even number.

29. If anything significant happens to me in 2009, I'll wish it had happened in 2008 or 2010, because those are better numbers.

30. Of course, beggars can't be choosers.

31. Marla called, must pause.

32. I'm talking to William.

33. My fingernails are dark red today.

34. I usually don't wear such dark nail polish, but I'm liking this.

35. I'm very happy about the "30 Rock" kids winning Golden Globes too, and "Mad Men".

36. They're my new favorite shows.

37. It's time to sign up for my next online BYU class.

38. I think I'll go with a history class this time.

39. Maybe a history professor will be impressed with my boxed sets of documentaries?

40. At this rate, I'll get my Bachelors in 2022.

41. That's not too bad.

42. I'm walking during my lunch hour today.

43. I like to exercise.

44. I hate dieting and having to loose weight.

45. I wonder if a well-rounded shape will ever be considered beautiful again, like during the Renaissance?

46. Maybe I should wait and see?

47. No, probably not.

48. I ordered stuff on and am getting free samples!

49. Free cosmetics is one of life's great joys.

50. That's fifty.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Week in Review

Friday morning - time once again for another compelling edition of A Week in Review. You're welcome.

How DARE you!
I found myself rethinking yesterday's post after I'd written it. The one about me being old and a little nerdy. I wondered if people who read it thought, "Well I do some of this too. Does that make me a loser? That's so harsh." I promise that I really, really didn't mean it that way. You're all the coolest. I really don't even feel that badly about it all myself. So I like documentaries? It's only because they're awesome.

The Land of Enchantment
Melissa and I recently learned that the Disney parks have a new promotion this year - free admission on your birthday! Maybe you've seen the commercials? We both have birthdays in March, and are planning to go. I have never been to Disneyland. Does that shock you? It's true. This will be my first time there, so it's really very exciting. Today I got online and registered for my free ticket. And I joined the birthday club, and picked my favorite Disney character, Belle, and now Belle is going to send me a birthday email. I wonder if she'll sing for me too?

I've found a website that I really like. It's called Goop, and is sponsored by Gwyneth Paltrow. I say this with a little bit of embarrassment, because reading a Gwyneth Paltrow site might sound kind of dorky, but honestly I've found some good tips and other information there. I'll go one step further into the dorkiness and admit that I get the weekly newsletter. My favorite so far listed different good art museums and their current exhibits. The fun part is that there are links to the exhibit sites, and there you'll find the art work itself. I loved the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Reality Check: Truth and Illusion in Contemporary Photography". The pictures are of ice houses in Minnesota (fishing sheds set up on the frozen lakes):

And surfers in California

The two subjects seem to have nothing to do with each other, but the pictures are so similar in their color and the horizontal lines. Brilliant. The photographer's name is Catherine Opie.

There are other things on Goop - recipes, fashion ideas, places to stay and eat in different cities. Some of it I can use, some of it I can't, but it's all fun to read. I don't know. When I was growing up I wanted very much to be an actress. Maybe getting this newsletter lets me live vicariously through a movie star.

I think that's it. This was a quiet week. It's nice to get things back to normal after the holidays, and that's what I did. I have my roommate back from Connecticut too. It's good to have her around again. Poor girl came home sick, so I've got her quarantined in the laundry room, but as soon as she's better I'll let her out, and we'll sit down and talk.

Thanks for being with me in a new year!

You are loved.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Signs that I Might be Old, Out of Touch, and/or a Little Bit of a Loser

Yesterday while driving home from work I was listening to news and interesting stories on NPR radio, and realized that my radio is on NPR more often than anything else these days. And that made me think, "Man I'm old." As the evening wore on, I thought of other signs of either age, or isolation, or of the fact that I'm just not that cool anymore. Here are five signs, in addition to the NPR, of my decline:

1- I was watching the People's Choice awards last night, and after about 30 minutes decided to switch to an old British comedy. But honestly, in my defense, they gave the best rock song award to Kid Rock. Kid Rock! Stupid people.

2- Tuesday at the store my friend Melanie told me that David Archuleta had signed up for a membership at her gym. He was there earlier that same day, and she had just missed him. I'm finding it hard to believe that David goes to a public gym with the regular people without some kind of posse or isolation booth, but that's beside the point. Melanie was all aglow just thinking about meeting him, and said that I should go to her gym too. I laughingly said that I'm old enough to be his mother. She mentioned that he's 17, and then I realized that yes, indeed, I am old enough to be David Archuleta's mother. Nice.

3- I was reading through a list of Grammy nominees, and recognized just a handful of names. I don't know who any of those other people are. Apparently there's a person out there called Lil Wayne who's sold more albums than anyone else in 2008. I doubt that his birth certificate lists his first name as "Lil", but I can't be sure. That Grammy list was the first I'd hear of him. I used to know who was who in the music world...? Too much NPR I guess.

4- I have an awesome collection of history documentaries on DVD. I think it's very cool, but the kids don't seem to. I told Sierra one day about something I'd seen on my DVD boxed set on the American Revolution. She just looked at me and shook her head. What? Not impressed? But the Revolution is so interesting...?

5- I've developed Restless Legs Syndrome. When I sit for too long, or have just gone to bed, my legs start to feel "jumpy" (I got that word from my mom, who sometimes rubs her legs and says that they feel jumpy). Of all of the old-age ailments, is there one that sounds dumber than Restless Legs Syndrome?

Include the facts that I fall asleep while reading, nap most of Saturday afternoon, and won't go to a movie that starts after 8pm because I don't want to be out too late, and the cool factor score card doesn't look good. Oh well, I guess it was bound to happen eventually.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


My friend Nicole suggested that I do a post of my favorite quotes, and I thought that that was a good idea. When I worked for Franklin Covey I had the classic day planner, and on each day was a different quote. I wrote down the ones that I really liked. Some I've already shared, here are some others:

"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

"It's never too late to be who you might have been." George Elliot

"People are always blaming circumstances for what they are...I don't believe in circumstances." George Bernard Shaw

"You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can." Jimmy Carter

"Talk not of wasted affection; affection never was wasted." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"That man is happiest who lives from day to day and asks no more, garnering the simple goodness of life." Euripides

"It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day to day basis." Margaret Bonnano

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt

"One of the sanest, surest and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others." Archibald Rutledge

"There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win." Elie Wiesel

"The best way out is always through." Robert Frost

"I've got my Replogle globe because you've got to keep a world view. You can't just live like you're the only person on the planet who matters." from the book "Hope was Here"

"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but to be someone." Coco Chanel

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data." Arthur Conan Doyle

"If 'A' is a success in life, then A=X+Y+Z: X is work, Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut." Albert Einstein

"We are in this life with a marvelous inheritance, a divine endowment. How different this world would be if every person realized that all...actions have eternal consequences. How much more satisfying our years may be if we recognize that we form each day the stuff of which eternity is made.

"Believe in are a Child of God. You have something of Divinity within you. Believe in your capacity to do great and good things." Gordon B. Hinckley

Monday, January 5, 2009

Interesting Things that I Learned this Morning

As you know, I read a blog called The Writers Almanac with Garrison Keillor - a Minnesota celebrity. Actually, I signed up to get the newsletter, which comes in an email every morning. It's so interesting! Today I read through newsletters from the last three days, and found all of this:

It was on this day in 1882 that the Irish playwright Oscar Wilde docked in New York. Customs asked him if he had anything to declare. Oscar Wilde replied, "Nothing but my genius."

It's the birthday of the ornithologist James Bond, (books by this author) born on this day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1900). He was the leading expert on birds of the Caribbean, and his book Birds of the West Indies (1936) is still in print today.

The novelist Ian Fleming was an enthusiastic bird-watcher, and he was living in Jamaica and came across a copy of Birds of the West Indies. Fleming was writing a thriller and decided to use the name James Bond for the protagonist, agent 007. That thriller was Casino Royale (1953), the first of Fleming's 12 James Bond novels.

It's the birthday of Jacob Grimm, born in Hanau, Germany (1785), one of the men responsible for collecting fairy tales like "Little Red Riding Hood," "Rumpelstiltskin," "Snow White," "Rapunzel," and "Hansel and Grethel." He and his younger brother, Wilhelm, collected more than 200 German folk tales and published Grimm's Fairy Tales in 1812.

Lots of people thought the stories weren't appropriate for children. There was violence, grief, an old woman who ate kids, abandoned children, and young women chopping off pieces of their feet to fit in slippers. But the book was still a big success, and it changed the way scholars collected folklore — trying to present straightforward narratives as people told them, instead of taking the basic story and turning it into a sophisticated literary piece.

It's the birthday of artist, writer, and diplomat Dominique Vivant-Denon, (books by this author) born in the Alsace, France (1747). He traveled in Egypt with Napoleon's expedition against the British, and he wrote a book about it, Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt (1802). "It is hard to decide what is more astonishing," he wrote about the Pyramids, "the tyrannical dementia that dared order their building, or the stupid obedience of the people who agreed to help build such things."

And it's the birthday of Jack Norworth, (books by this author) born in Philadelphia in 1879. Jack Norworth had never been to a baseball game, but one day in 1908, he was riding the subway and he saw a sign that said "Baseball Today — Polo Grounds," and he started thinking of baseball lyrics. He wrote them down on a piece of scratch paper, and then took them to the composer Albert Von Tilzer, another man who had never seen a baseball game, who went ahead and wrote the music. And the song became very famous: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

It's the birthday of the man who said, "All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost," the man called "the father of modern fantasy," the writer John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien, (books by this author) born in Bloemfontein, South Africa (1892). His mother taught him Latin and Greek, and then one day he saw Welsh names on the side of railway cars, and he thought it was the most beautiful language in the world. He wanted to learn Welsh and any languages like it. He created simple languages of his own, like Animalic, which came from animal names, and Naffarin, which took elements from Spanish.

Tolkien went on to Oxford, and he studied philology, the study of the origin of languages. He became fluent in many ancient European languages, including Classical Greek, Old Norse, Old English, medieval Welsh and Anglo-Saxon, and an ancient form of German called Gothic.

He became a teacher at Oxford, and he invented his most ambitious language yet, composed entirely of his own alphabet, sounds, and structure. And that was the language High Elvish, spoken by elves. He spent 12 years writing a book that incorporated that language. He said he wrote this new book "to provide a world for the language." He said, "I should have preferred to write the entire book in Elvish." But it was in English, and it was The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien intended it to be one book in three parts, but it was published in three volumes — The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), The Two Towers (1954), and The Return of the King (1955).

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, "I wish life was not so short. Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about."

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Week in Review

Hello All! It's the first 2009 edition of "A Week in Review". Now that this feature has turned the page of a new year, is it old enough to be called a classic? I think so.

Think back with me to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Doesn't it seem like months ago now? It was just last week! So weird. Christmas is unique in that once it's over, it is over. And after just a few days, it feels like weeks have passed. I don't know why, but it's true.

Project and Resolution
The day after Christmas, I was home from work and did some cleaning projects, one of them being sorting through my cedar chest. The chest was my grandmothers. Grandpa gave it to her a year or two before they were married in 1929. When she died, I inherited it, and I love it. Over the last few years I've been chucking all kinds of stuff in there. Things I've gotten at work or in the mail that I thought I should keep but wasn't sure what to do with, everything from letters and birthday cards to new information on my benefits packages at work. It all went into the cedar chest. When I opened it up last week I found a big pile of papers. What a mess. I started taking things out, one by one, and decided that half of all that junk could be thrown away. If I hadn't looked at it since 1999, I probably didn’t need it - into the garbage bag it went.

I saved the important things - birthday cards from friends and family, letters from my parents, and lots and lots of pictures. While doing this, I decided on a New Year's resolution, one that will be fun rather than torturous. I have years worth of photographs neatly stored that need to be put into albums. So this year, one album at a time, I am going to get those pictures into books. In fact, I found an album that I'd bought some time ago stored in my cedar chest, and put half of my Paris pictures in it. I don't do scrapbooking (weird that that word became a verb), so this won't be an elaborate project. I like a simple page with pictures and labels. Labeling will be the hard part. I'm not going to remember the dates of a lot of the events in these pictures, but I will do what I can. It'll be fun.

Happy New Year
I spent New Year’s Eve with Marla and her family. We ate pizza and watched movies and played Monopoly and did not get drunk. There were children in the house. Jonah had never played Monopoly before, so he and I worked as a team. He did really well with understanding the game – better than I’d expected him to. All of the boys had an evil grin and an even more evil laugh when someone landed on their property and owed them money. Cruel landlords. Josh won the game by quite a lot of money, and was giddy about it. He couldn’t stop laughing. Having thousands of dollars to wave in the faces of your broke brothers is fun, even when it’s fake money.

South Jordan did fireworks at midnight, and we could see them well out of their dining room window. We turned off all of the lights and sat on the floor. Even William, who had been sleeping, woke up and joined us. There’s something very beautiful about seeing Marla with her boys. She had the baby on her lap, and the other three sitting around her and the feeling was sweet and peaceful. The beauty of motherhood, maybe. She’s very good with her boys. I was happy to be there.

She and I met up again on New Year’s Day for lunch at the Olive Garden. I’ve heard some people talk trash about the Olive Garden because it’s a chain restaurant and not authentic Italian, blah blah blah, and to those people I’d like to say shut up. I don’t care about the lack of prestige, that lasagna was delicious.

Afterward, I went to Target for some necessities, and also bought myself a new nightstand for my bedroom. Mom and Dad sent me some money for Christmas, and I decided on a piece of furniture. It’s Target furniture, so obviously nothing too fancy, but I really do like it. I had to assemble the pieces myself, which I did with limited cussing, and now it’s next to my bed with a lamp, clock and book on it. Last evening I smiled every time I walked into my room and saw it sitting there. Would you like to see my new table? I’ll take a picture and post it next week.

I started a new book and am in love with it, “Gilead” by Marilyne Robinson. I picked it up on a recommendation from my friend Nicole. Wow, was she right. It’s a great book, beautifully written. It’s about an older man, a preacher, who is dying, so he decides to write out different stories from his life for his young son. His experience is full of little moments that touched his mind or heart, and reading it makes me think about the little things in my own life that are wonderful. The whole story shows how beautiful the world and our lives are, but does it without being sappy or too sentimental. On almost every page I read something that I want to share, either here or take it to my family and read it out loud to someone. Really, I think any of you would love this book.

That’s it for now. I read a good quote from Oscar Wilde, who honestly has a lot of good quotes: "Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account." Maybe I’m not quite sure what that means, but I do know that I’ve bought a lot of stuff on credit, so this resolution thing shouldn’t be too hard.

Thanks, as always, for living with me in the blogosphere.
You are loved.