Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I was just thinking...

I was just looking at some blogs, and checking out recommendations from friends, and was thinking that one of the best things about the blog world is finding that there so many funny, clever, creative, brilliant people out there. Who knew?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 Things I Wish Missionary Moms Knew

Today at work we are taking call after call from mothers and fathers who have children serving missions in Mexico. They’re worried, and I suppose I don’t blame them. I’m irritated by them, but don’t blame them. It’s hard when your loved one is far away and you can’t talk on the phone, or help like you did when your child was small. But, it is in times like this when it is important to take a deep breathe, listen to that inner voice telling you that everything is fine, and then relax. Not always easy, I know, but really your only sound option.

Over the years I’ve talked to lots of moms who have had children in areas suffering with all sorts of swine flu-like catastrophes – earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, landslides, SARS (remember SARS?), bird flu, and worst of all lost packages. Here are a few things that I’ve learned, and wish that all of missionary mothers knew. Maybe someday, when you have a child in the mission field, you’ll remember some of it.

A bit of a disclaimer – none of this is COB policy and does not represent the COB. It’s just stuff that I’ve thought about, and that friends and I have laughed about. Nothing official here.

1. This child that you are sending out on a mission is not a child at all, but a full grown adult. I know that he/she will always be your little boy/girl, but that’s just you. Some mothers act like we’ve taken her 10-year old and sent him off to the Baltic States, and now what are we going to do?! That is simply not the case. He’s grown up. He’s making his own choices. He can take care of himself. Nineteen is an age when young adults should be leaving home and finding their own life, and there are countless places that kids go to: school, the Peace Corps, New York City to work on their music, finally be discovered and be a star. All options considered, a mission is the safest, sanest place for your not-a-child-anymore child. And remember, you’ve wanted this mission since the day he was born. Now that it’s here, it’s time for you to let go.
(I’m going to drop the “he/she” now. We all know that not all missionaries are boys, but going with he is so much easier.)

2. Before your missionary leaves home, he’ll need to know some basic skills, like cleaning, cooking, laundry, so have him start doing it now (or at a reasonable age, of course). Missionary work is hard work, so make sure that your kid knows how to work hard. Other than a testimony, he’ll need that the most.

3. If your son is sent out of the country, do not send him packages! I mean it.

4. If you go against my advice and decide to send a package, do not call the COB when that package gets lost. I don’t have it. And I don’t know how to find it. And if you had listened to me then we wouldn’t be in this mess, would we? Go back to the post office or FedEx or wherever and ask them what happened. If your package is held hostage in a foreign customs office with a ransom of $200, which can happen, then again don’t call me. I can’t get it out of there, and in fact have not been asked to do hostage negotiations since that sad incident with the jar of peanut butter and bag of chocolate chip cookies in the Ukraine. I’m still having nightmares…peanut butter…everywhere.

5. And one more point on packages – putting a sticker with a picture of Jesus on the box will not guarantee safe delivery to a missionary in South America. Neither will any of those other things that “a lady in your ward” said. That lady in your ward doesn’t always know what she’s talking about.

Honestly, I don’t have any advice on how to best send a package. There are no guarantees. I suppose that it’s not unreasonable for a person to think that we might have advice, but we really don’t. You are pretty much on your own. When I go down to our mail room to send something to a mission, it usually goes FedEx. Try that.

6. No news is good news. I don’t know how many moms have called and said that her missionary left the MTC the day before, and she just needs to know that he got to the mission safely. I can assure you that no missionary has ever been lost in the Atlantic or anywhere else, but certainly if he had someone would have thought to call the parents. Phone calls are made when something is wrong. Consider the fact that there are about 50,000 missionaries out there. How can we possibly make regular calls to let parents know that theirs is ok? But when there is an accident or illness, which is very rare, the parents are contacted. That’s not a call you want to get. If you ever find yourself thinking, “I have not had any contact from my son’s mission office”, your next thought should be, “Thank heaven”.

7. Now on the other hand, your missionary should write to you weekly. Most can email and those who can’t send letters. If you go for a week or more without an email or letter…well I don't really know why. Apparently your child is not speaking to you. Maybe it was something you said. Give him some time and he’ll come around. But don't automatically assume that he's fallen off a cliff and is lost forever. That's never the case.

8. Don’t watch the news. Well, that might be too bold a statement. When you do watch the news, don’t let what you see there throw you into a panic. For example, when there’s an earthquake CNN will have you thinking that everyone is dead and the whole country has sunk away into the earth. Not so. The missionaries in that country are fine. And remember, no news is good news.

9. If your missionary writes to you saying that he isn’t feeling well, write back instructing him to call the mission office. You are 20,000 miles away, what can you do about it? Nothing. The people in the mission office, on the other hand, can help. In most missions, Mission Presidents have local doctors that they send their missionaries to. Of course, any kind of action depends on the missionary’s condition. A cold is just a cold, even in Uruguay. But if some medical attention is necessary, then the mission office is the place to take care of it, and they will. Tell your missionary to call them, and then stay out of it.

10. And finally, and more seriously, the system that is in place to take care of these missionaries is mind-blowing and awesome. It's fantastic. There is a web of priesthood leadership from the General Authorities in the area offices to the Mission Presidents and Stake Presidents that works to safeguard those young men and women. The people in charge are smart, organized, aware, and most importantly divinely inspired. They will take care of your missionary with love. Just trust them and trust the Lord. You’ll feel better when you do.

And that, for what it’s worth, is what I think every missionary mom needs to know.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Week in Review

Hello all. It’s time once again for another edition of A Week in Review. I’m feeling rather uninspired today, so this may be short, but still good for the soul.

Ticket Purchase
I bought my ticket for my flight to Minneapolis on May 29th. That’s a Friday, and then Andrea and I will drive the family back here on Saturday and Sunday. We’re planning to drive through South Dakota and stop at Mount Rushmore. Marla and I have done that same thing with her kids, and it really is fun. Mount Rushmore is gorgeous – very impressive. It’s beautiful in pictures, but so much more so when you’re standing right in front of it, more than I expected it to be. There’s a boardwalk that makes a circle down close to the mountain and then back again with signs that give some history of the presidents and of the mountain-carving project. I’m looking forward to walking that with Spencer, my four-year old nephew. He’s a smart boy, and asks lots of questions. I think that talking some history with him will be fun.

I recently learned that Drew, my other nephew, likes to sing in the car, which will make for some very cute scenes on our road trip. And I will finally see little Amalia. It’s really going to be great. I wish that I was leaving today.

Here are pictures of the three of them, to refresh your memory (because you keeping my nieces and nephew straight is very important), and so that you’ll see why I’m looking forward to this so much. Look how cute!

Spencer, Lia and Drew
Speaking of History
I bought two more DVD documentary sets – one called “The Presidents” and another on the French Revolution. Reading a “Tale of Two Cities” (by the way have you started it yet? You were suppose to immediately start reading that book) peaked my interest in their revolution, so a documentary seemed just the thing. Both are produced by The History Channel, which always does a great job with their films. “The Presidents” will be a good review before going to Mount Rushmore. In fact, maybe I’ll bring it with me and watch it with Spencer so that he’s better prepared. Just kidding, he is only four.

He He
I just looked back at this to proof read, and noticed that I had written “hell all” instead of “hello all”. Hilarious, maybe I should have left it that way. I’m not a very good proof reader, and I’m sure that you’ve noticed all kinds of typos in my posts, but leaving that really would have been a mistake.

I really think that that’s it for today. Thanks, as always for being my friends.
You are loved.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Class of '88 Revisited

Did you all have high school yearbooks? I did. In fact, I joined the yearbook club at least two of my high school years, and went to workshops at a local university to learn how to create an awesome yearbook. Huh – I had forgotten about that until just now.

Every spring the books came out, and then kids were in a mad frenzy for signatures. We liked to find every page that our picture was on, like the choir or band pictures, sports teams, random candid shots, and autograph each one. Of course all of my friends signed my book, and those who weren’t friends but still classmates were in demand because getting lots of signatures was important - wasn't everything about high school vitally important? And then there was that one very cute boy who I’d had a crush on all year, and who I desperately wanted to sign my yearbook, but who I so shy about asking. Eventually I did ask, and he did sign. I think that the boy I was in love with during my Senior year wrote something like “It was fun giving you crap all year in English” (he sat behind me in English). Brilliant. Reading that made me happy for a long time.

There were all the usual phrases: “Stay cool” “Have a great summer” “We’ll have to party together” (rural Minnesota kids are big partiers) and of course the still popular “BFF”. We really did use that. Some of my best friends would write enough to fill up a whole page. Thinking about this now is making me smile. I know that my mom kept all of our yearbooks, and I think that she gave me mine in a big storage tub filled with stuff not too long ago. I’ll have to dig them out.

Here at the COB there is a tradition that reminded me today of high school yearbooks. We have missionaries who serve in the department – that’s their mission, to work here. They are older couples or single sisters. When their time is done, they are given a lovely coffee table book, usually of religious artwork, as their going away gift. The book is set out on the receptionist's desk, and everyone stops to sign it. Some write out long paragraphs, others (like me) just do a short “Best wishes”. The missionaries seem to like it very much. Some have canvassed the department becasue they wanted absolutely everyone to sign their book. I bet those ladies were aggressive back in high school.

By the way, us Mormons should come up with a better word for coffee tables and coffee table books, because…you know. Lets work on that. In the mean time, I’m going to find my yearbooks and read again what the cute boy wrote.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Six Products that Have Changed My Life

As most of you know, I am a connoisseur of beauty products. I love make up, and have spent a lot of time and money trying a thousand different things. In fact, the Visa and American Express companies, along with Nordstrom, have greatly benefited from my obsession. Now that I think about it, my card balances might be partially to blame for our current economic crises. Sorry guys.

Along with cosmetics departments, I love magazines, and always get excited when a particular magazine prints its yearly list of “Best Of” products; all of the things that the editors think are the top notch. Along that same line, I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite things. These are products that have helped me so much that I consider them life changing. Here they are – my top 6 life-changing health and beauty products.

Nature’s Inventory Night Time Leg Calm Wellness Oil – This stuff is a miracle. I’ve struggled with restless legs for years, and it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I’d go to bed at night and try to relax, but my legs felt jumpy, like they couldn’t be still. I would lie awake for a while, then get up and walk around, try some stretching, then go back to bed and lie there some more. It would take more than an hour to get to sleep. So I decided to do some research on line, and that’s were I found Natures Inventory. This oil has made a world of difference! I rub it on my back before going to bed, and all of my muscles relax. I haven’t had trouble with restlessness since buying it. Honestly fantastic! It’s about $15 a bottle with shipping, and one bottle lasts for a couple of months. A small price to pay for a good nights sleep.

Clinique Acne Solutions – I started breaking out when I was 12 years old. If someone had told me then that puberty would last for 27 years… well I don’t know what I would have done. My skin is an awful mess. Some time around last Christmas, I bought Clinique’s Acne Solutions starter kit, which includes cleanser, exfoliate and moisturizer, for $32.50. It’s worked very well. I’ve used it consistently since then, and really am happy with it. The products seemed a bit harsh at first, but my skin adjusted, and then cleared up. I still have some trouble when dealing with PMS, but other than that my breakouts are gone. Clinique’s prices are reasonable for department store brands. In fact, they’re really not much more than you’d pay for something at Target or Wal-Mart, and it’s good quality stuff. I highly recommend this line.

Estee Lauder Idealist – Now this stuff is expensive. In fact I’m not going to tell you what I pay for it because some of you will be horrified. But it works. Idealist is a skin refinisher – it removes dead skin cells and purifies pores to make the pores look smaller and give the skin an overall smoother texture and tone. It’s the pore purifying that has made the difference for me because it too has cleared up my breakouts. I started using this more than a year ago, and quickly saw an improvement in my skins clarity. It didn’t clear things up completely, which is why I started using Clinique, but the improvement was enough to make me love the product. And combined with Clinique it’s magical. And, Clinique and Estee Lauder both give free gifts with purchase, which I am a total sucker for, so if you time your purchase right you can walk away with all kinds of free stuff! Nice.

Clinique Cream Shaper for Eyes – Great eyeliner. I think that I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a morning person, and am running late every single day, which means that I usually have about 5-8 minutes for makeup. Strange that a person who loves makeup so much wouldn’t giver herself more time to play with it in the morning, but you see it’s morning, and that’s the problem. Anyway, this eyeliner is great because it’s very soft, and goes on easily, quickly, and makes a smooth, even line with none of that tugging on your eyelid that others do. It’s really slick. Some mornings this eyeliner (in chocolate luster) and mascara are all I use, and my eyes are done in no time. Love it.

Max Factor Lash Perfection Volume Couture Mascara – As wonderful as department store cosmetics are, there’s no reason to pay those prices for mascara. The stuff at the drugstore is just as good. In fact, this mascara from Max Factor is better. It thickens and defines, doesn’t smudge, and wears well all day. Sadly, Target doesn’t sell Max Factor, so you have to go to Wal-Mart, but it’s worth the trip. I have tried every single mascara in existence (I’m very picky about my lashes), and really, this is one of the best. I’m calling it life-changing because for me to find something that I love at Wal-mart is good for the bank account, very good.

Side-note – Covergirl mascara is good too, and you can get it at Target. I like LashBlast. It gives lashes a great look, and the giant orange tube is kind of fun.

Laura Mercier sheer lip color – This really isn’t a life-changing product. I don’t know that lipstick can change lives, but I love it, so it’s getting a mention. My favorite colors are Baby Lips and Bare Lips. In fact, I’ve used Bare Lips for years. Best lipstick ever. Like mascara, I’ve tried every brand there is (bit of a fetish), and this really is the best feeling/wearing lipstick out there. Some brands feel thick going on, or can make lips flakey and dry – this one never does. It feels like lip balm, is long-lasting, and the colors are great. A really good splurge.

Ta-da! There’s my list. That was fun! Hope you enjoyed. I’d be very interested in reading the same kind of list from you – it could be about anything. I know not everyone has a makeup obsession like I do, but maybe you love to cook, or clean or have another hobby that you’re a pro at. Let me know. I’d love it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Week in Review

Hello All. It’s time for another edition of A Week in Review. How refreshing.

That word reminds me of a story about my niece Mariah. Years ago, when she was little, we were riding in the car. She liked cool air, and always wanted her window down, even when it wasn’t hot in the car, and was cold outside. Anyway, on this particular day it was kind of drizzly, but she had her window open, and a rain drop hit her in the eye. She said, “A rain drop just hit me. It was refreshing!” So cute. I love it when little kids use words you’d never expect from them. What a sweet little girl.

Well I’ll be
The other night at the theater I bought a copy of the original novel of “The Phantom of the Opera”, and yesterday was flipping through it. Turns out, in the novel the guy who is the Phantom is indeed named Erik, with a k, not the c that I was using. I was stunned, and embarrassed after my rant on his name. I’ve skimmed through the last few chapters to see if there’s a character who is Erik’s father, and a story about his mother, but I haven’t found it. I’m kind of glad really. That would really be embarrassing. I still think that that part of the story was made up for this version of the play, and really not a good idea. I’ll let you know if I find out otherwise.

Susan Boyle
I like so many have gotten all caught up in the YouTube clip of Susan Boyle’s Britain’s Got Talent audition. It’s just so exciting. I love that his woman at 47, after years of living alone with her cat in Scotland, decided to take a chance and audition. And that she took the house down after seeing the judges roll their eyes at her, and hearing snickers in the audience. What guts. Really, really wonderful. I hope that she’s able to keep it together now with all of the publicity and hype, and go on to win the whole competition. I’ll buy a cd when they’re released, absolutely.

Yes, I filed my taxes this week. After reading Tiffany’s blog about it, I’m not feeling so sorry for myself, but I did have to pay, and about 10 times more to the state than I had expected. Come on Utah, really? As those of you who live here know, the legislature changed the tax codes and must have had ripping me off in mind when they did it. Thanks very much.

Another Trip
I’m going to have some fun come the end of May. Dearest Sierra is graduating from high school on June 4th, and so my entire family is coming for the party. So exciting! I’ve been trying to remember the last time that all of us, my parents, siblings and their families, were in the same place at the same time, and I think that it was for Christmas in 2002. So this is a monumental occasion. Courtney and Andrea had some hesitation about coming because he can’t take much time away from work, and it costs way too much money to buy plane tickets for 5 people. So we’ve devised a plan. I am going to fly to Minneapolis the end of May and help Andrea make the drive with the kids back here to Salt Lake. I’ll probably go on a Friday, and then we’ll drive back over the weekend. Courtney will fly out a few days later for the graduation party, and then drive with his family home again. Genius huh? This way Court doesn’t have to take so much time off, and they save money, and everyone can be here. Hooray!

I honestly love a good road trip. I have twice now done the drive from here to Minnesota and back again by myself. It was so therapeutic to be all alone – the freedom of getting away, listening to good music, or a book. It clears the head. Or if not clears, then allows time to sort through my thoughts and organize things a bit. So nice. Of course, the drive with Andrea and three kids won’t be quite the same, but still good fun. I love those little boys, and I’ll get some quality time with my new little niece. It’ll be great.

I think that’s all for today. Here’s a good quote from the Writer’s Almanac:
"Poetry is, above all, a singing art of natural and magical connection because, though it is born out of one's person's solitude, it has the ability to reach out and touch in a humane and warmly illuminating way the solitude, even the loneliness, of others. That is why, to me, poetry is one of the most vital treasures that humanity possesses; it is a bridge between separated souls." Brendan Kennelly.

Thanks, as always, for your continued excellence.
You are loved.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh Hale Center Theater, What Have You Done?

Note - please forgive the typos. I did this in a hurry.

Last night Melissa and I went to the musical “Phantom” at Hale Center Theater. I was really looking forward to it. Everything I’ve seen at Hale has been good, and live theater is always fun. We knew that this was a different version of Phantom (this is where I stop using “…”, too much work), not the Andrew Lloyd Weber production that everyone knows so well, and we were interested to see what they’d done with it. If we’d known before hand what they’d done, I don’t know that we would have been quite so excited about going.

I’ll say first that the singing was wonderful. Every performer had a great voice, really great. The caliber of talent was top notch. It’s really remarkable how good performers in a community theater can be.

Having said that…the script for this show was pretty much ridiculous. In the program we read that they purposely tried to make the Phantom more human. Well if being more human means kind of a pansy and maybe bi-polar, then they nailed it.

In his first scene, Phantom finds someone in his dungeon, and promptly kills him. He is later up in the stage area of the opera house, talking with a man who is apparently a long time friend, I don’t remember his name, so let’s call him George, and asking George why he failed in his protective duties by letting someone down in the dungeon, leaving Phantom with no options other than running him through with a sword. George is very remorseful, and tells Phantom that he is no longer the manager of the opera house. He’s been replaced by an awful couple who have inherited the place. George keeps calling Phantom Eric. What? Eric? What kind of name is that for THE Phantom of the Opera? Well according to these guys it’s a perfectly good name. So Phantom, aka Eric, calms down a bit and the conversation turns more jovial. George gets after Eric for being so uptight, and Eric laughingly says that he’s never killed before; it kind of threw him off. If I had been a part of the conversation, this is I would have fallen into a stunned and awkward silence, and then I would have told Phantom to get back to his underground lair and try to be more manly, mysterious, intriguing, Phantom-like, no more laughing it up with the locals, and don’t come out until you’ve got it right.

The rest of the first half went along alright. Like I said, the singing was wonderful. Remember the awful couple who inherited the opera house? Well they of course were our villains, and she reminded me very much of the sea witch Ursula from The Little Mermaid. That had to be where she pulled her inspiration for the role. We get through the story up to the scene where the chandelier comes falling from the ceiling and everyone runs in horror because obviously this proves that the opera house really is haunted. Of course, if they had known that the haunters name was Eric, they wouldn’t have worried so much.

It was in the conclusion of the story, after intermission, that a kind of cheesy but otherwise good play really fell apart. Christine was taken to the dungeons by Phantom and was being held there. He runs off to do something evil, and George shows up to have a talk with Christine. He tried to convince her to follow him and get out while she can, but she doesn’t want to leave “the Maestro” as she calls him without a word. George then tells Christine that she reminds him of someone he once knew, Eric’s mother, and that he is Eric’s father. What the what? Yes, Phantom has a father. He fell in love with a girl long ago. She was beautiful; she could dance and sing; he was enraptured. But, when she came to him with the news that she was pregnant, he couldn’t marry her because he was married already. Oh the horror! (Actually, I honestly cringed when that came out because honestly, do we really want to go there? Is this how we try to bring shock, irony, sadness, grittiness to the story? Bah, whatever). So the girl hides herself in the catacombs beneath the opera house and has her baby. Oh wait, first she drinks something to try to kill either herself or the baby, we don’t know which, and then she hides in the opera house. George finds her there, and the baby, who is horribly disfigured, but she loves her son absolutely anyway. I guess whatever it was that she drank hoping to kill them both but instead maimed her child also erased her memory of the fact that she had ruined both of their lives, and made her the picture of motherly love. Well the mother dies. George makes a mask to cover Eric’s face, and “raised him as best I could” by making him stay in the catacombs of the opera house.

So now we’re back to the present, and with a greater understanding of why Phantom/Eric is bi-polar. Phantom in the mean time is getting even with Ursula the sea witch for all of her nasty deeds by electrocuting her to death. Then the police show up, and there’s a chase, and fisticuffs, no not fisticuffs, but some gun violence, and Phantom is shot, but is able to get away. George finds him on the stage, wounded and bleeding.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, after Christine learns about George, and the Phantom’s mother, but maybe before the electrocution, definitely before the shooting, Christine and Phantom sing a love song, and she convinces him to show her his face. He does, and she runs away in horror, screaming as only a true soprano can.

So now George and Phantom are on the stage, and Phantom is loosing blood, and you get the sense that his end is near. George tells Phantom that Christine never meant to hurt him, and he says that he knows that. He’s feeling more gentle know, kinder and willing to forgive. Electrocuting the sea witch was therapeutic. It seemed like a good time for a father and son heart-to-heart. George confesses that he is Phantom’s father. Phantom says that he’s known all along, and they sing a tender song about the beauty of music and growing up in a dungeon beneath an opera house, and Eric’s mother, and isn’t it nice that we’re together as father and son now, all sprinkled with some humor. George tells Eric that his mother always thought that his deformed face was beautiful, which makes Eric ask his father what he thought of it. George smiles and says, “Well, it could have been better.” Ha ha! Eric asks his father to please bury him in the catacombs when he’s dead, to which George sings with gusto, “I will not put you on display”, holding “display” long and loud. It was the least he could do. The Phantom finally finds peace.

Christine and the others find them. There are more gun shots, and Phantom meets his end in the arms of his love Christine, who sings to him that he is music and all things beautiful. Tears were shed. I had for some time by this point been trying so hard not to laugh that I was exhausted. I giggled all the way out of the theater, and finally when we got to the car let it go. We both laughed long and hard, and agreed that the whole “Phantom I am your father” scene has got to go.

I think that this weekend we will rent the movie version of the real Phantom of the Opera to cleanse our brains. I’ve heard that the movie is good, Melissa liked it, and I would like very much to see the Phantom in all his glory again. In the mean time, thinking of the Phantom/Eric character still makes me giggle a little.


All of my old bookstore friends have got to see this. Really, look at this right now. The rest of you should also see this.

Actually it's not very nice, but I did laugh.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle

I'm sure that by now most of you have seen this clip, but if you haven't you really need to. It's incredible. I can't get enough of listening to this woman sing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I've been feeling restless for a while now, like I want to do something, but don't know what. It could be something small, like getting out of town for a weekend, or big like deciding what I want to be when I grow up, and new direction, something ambitions... I don't know. Even today, I really want to blog something, but don't know what to say. Maybe it's spring fever. Maybe it's a midlife crisis - I am 39 years old - or maybe it's just time to do some self-adjustments.

I have been wondering for sometime now if there isn't something more that I should be doing, something that I could be. It seems like most people have their thing that they are, like a writer, or an historian, or a mother, or a collector of things. I watched a movie the other night called "Sylvia" about Sylvia Plath, the poet. In one scene she and her friends are spontaneously improving poetry that they made up as they went along, and then later quoted Shakespeare and others, and I thought, "I'd love to have my thing that I love that much, could sink myself into, and really be passionate about." I hate to use that word, "passionate", it is so overused these days. It and "amazing", "amazing" is today what "awesome" was back in the 80s. Way overused. But you get what I mean. I need a thing.

The trouble is that a thousand things seems interesting, but no one of them grab on to me with any real strength. I do love history, and have a wide collection of documentaries on dvds, as you already know, and books on history of all kinds. The world civilizations class I'm taking right now is very interesting, and I think that I'll stick with this subject. and I've really enjoyed writing this blog. I don't know that I would ever be bold enough to consider myself a writer, but this has been fun. Maybe I'll try some more poems, or write some history for you? It would be kind of cool to someday write a children's history book. I've thought of that off and on for a long time, but it just seems like such an outrageous ambition...? I don't know. I just feel like I've got some pent up, repressed energy that needs to get out, but what is it? Do you know? If you do, then please tell me. I'd love to figure this out.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Week in Review

Hello all. Another week has past, and I feel a need to review it, so let’s go ahead with that. Here is A Week in Review.

Meeting my every need
My coworker Cheryl is the best. She brings me little trinkets for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and remembers my birthday, and today she’s getting me some bagels. I’ve been craving a good bagel for a few days now, but the ones that are sold in the vending machines are pretty much awful, and I certainly can’t get up in time to go to an Einstein’s before work, so I’ve lived without. Today I mentioned to Cheryl (with no intention of her going, I promise) that I really wanted a good bagel. She said, “Well…it is Easter. We should have gotten Easter bagels. I bet I could go.” And she finished a few things and then went. Good bagels are coming my way! I love that woman.

Oh, and last week she bought me lunch. It’s so nice to have a mother-figure at the office.

Speaking of The Office
I don’t know how I feel about Michael Scott leaving Dunder Mifflin and starting up his own paper company. Dunder Mifflin did treat him like the village idiot (they had their reasons), and so I suppose it was time for him to go, but still, I will miss the office dynamic that came with the whole Scranton group working together. What are your thoughts? Is it troubling when one of your favorite shows takes on a story line that you don’t really like? Do you even know what I’m talking about? We all watch The Office, right?

While we’re on the subject of television, I feel like 30 Rock has lost some of it’s luster this year. I still like it, very much, but last night’s episode gave only one or two good laughs, one of those being when Tracy Jordan said that he had “admonished” Kenneth for something. Someone like Tracy using the word admonished is a riot.

My bagels have arrived. Cinnamon sugar, I’m so happy.

I did some ironing last Saturday during Ladies’ Night. Strange, huh? For those who don’t know, Mormon Handicraft moved into our store, in the mezzanine, maybe two years ago. They have little projects during the Ladies’ Night festivities, and this time they made pillow cases. Ladies chose their fabric, and then a couple of women were all set up with sewing machines to sew them together, kind of fun. They needed someone to iron the piece that is the band, just fold the fabric in half and iron it flat. I was scheduled to work on the floor rather than at a register, which is hard to do when there are 500 women in the store. There’s really nowhere to put yourself, and your physical safety is always in jeopardy. The MH supervisor grabbed me from the jaws of death, and asked if I could go upstairs and do the ironing. I said, “Yeah, I think I can iron.” And off I went. It was actually fun, and it got me away from the crowd, and I remembered what it’s like to hold an iron. Seriously, I haven’t picked up an iron in years. None of my clothes need it. I wear a lot of t-shirts.

My dear mother did teach me how to iron; in fact she taught me everything any girl would need to know to run a home, and then some. She’s a marvel of a homemaker. I’ve never met another woman with her capacity for work. The sad fact is, I use very little of what she taught me. You just don’t when you live in an apartment and don’t have kids. I keep the place clean, and of course take care of laundry and other basics, but that’s it. I like to cook, and can do it, but don’t cook for myself. I honestly worry that when the day comes that I have a house and family, I will have forgotten everything Mom taught me and we’ll all be lost. Maybe I’ll just have mom come and live with us for a while, do a refresher course.

The bagels are going quickly, and I’m kind of bugged. What if I want another one? They are mine after all.

I enjoyed General Conference very much, especially Elder Holland’s talk. It really struck a cord with me, maybe because over the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with a few things. Here’s some of what he said:
“To all such, I speak of the loneliest journey ever made and the unending blessings it brought to all in the human family. I speak of the Savior’s solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation. Rightly He would say: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me. . . . I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold [me].”1

My other plea at Easter time is that these scenes of Christ’s lonely sacrifice, laced with moments of denial and abandonment and, at least once, outright betrayal, must never be reenacted by us. He has walked alone once. Now, may I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers …As we approach this holy week…may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,”21 for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone.”

I suppose there’s some sadness in what he said about Christ being alone, but it’s also hopeful and strengthening. It lets us know that he knows what we go through, and how to help. That’s my testimony this Easter that the Lord loves us, and is always close by.

I think that’s it for this week. Thanks, as always, for sticking with me.
Happy Easter!
You are loved.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ladies' Night Hangover

A voicemail message left for my boss this morning:

“Bob? Hi, it’s Angie. I’m sorry; I won’t be in to work today. I’m still hung over from Ladies’ Night at Deseret Book. Well, no, Deseret Book doesn’t actually serve alcohol. No, I’m drunk because I had to work Ladies Night, and drunk is the only way to get through it. Have you ever had 500 crazed Mormon women in your face shouting all kinds of demands? They want door prizes. They want food. They want to win drawings. They want discounts. They want; they WANT; THEY WANT!! Bunch of parasites sucked all of the joy right out of me. It’s an absolute nightmare! And they’re so LOUD. Oh, my head hurts (muffled sob)…I can’t talk about it (more sobs)…Where’s that flask….?”


Friday, April 3, 2009

A Week in Review

Hello All! It’s time once again for another edition of a Week in Review. These come around quickly don’t they? How nice for you.

I finally got to talk to Mom on Wednesday. Last week their phone was on the fritz, sometimes I could get through, and sometimes I couldn’t. We talked a week ago, and then their phone died for good sometime over the weekend. Not being able to talk to them was so frustrating. And every time I called I got a busy signal, maddening. It was almost worse than that terrible screeching, beeping noise that my alarm clock makes, and just as unwelcome.

And then on Wednesday Mom called me. Hallelujah. Poor lady went to Kmart and bought a phone card, and then called me from their public phone. Side note – they don’t have cell phones. I’ve mentioned that before haven’t I? They didn’t see the need and didn’t want to pay the bill. I hope very much that they see the need now. Anyway, she called me from Kmart and said that they are both fine. Their house stayed dry through the flood, even the basement, and she and Dad were dealing well enough. There are plenty of stores located away from the river that they could shop at, so they weren’t going without. It was all good news, and such a relief to hear her voice. I do still feel bad for them though. The phone company can’t get them back up and working again until April 13. They’ve had more storms and cold weather, and with no phone or computer (that went down too) to give them contact with the outside world, I wonder how long they can keep their sanity. Mine would last for about three minutes.

The general situation in Fargo/Moorhead is improving. The river has steadily receded since last Saturday, and residents are trying to get their lives back to normal. The news on the local paper’s website today was about Madonna’s next adoption rather than neighborhood evacuations. That’s a good sign. Those folks filled and stacked a total of 3.5 million sandbags while fighting this flood. A local man did an interesting blog post with graphics visualizing just what 3.5 million sandbags look like. You can see it here. I do wonder what will happen when all of the snow they’ve gotten over the last week starts to melt. Is it crisis management all over again? I hope not.

Thanks to all of you who remembered them in your prayers. I’m sure that it helped.

There’s a new little cafĂ© open on South Temple called Hagerman’s. As most of you know, the malls were torn down some time ago as part of a downtown renovation project and with the malls went the foodcourt and other food options. We’ve kind of been hating it around here. Then, a few months ago, Cheryl noticed a new place open in the middle of the construction chaos, and started pressuring me to go check it out. After being badgered for days, I broke down and walked over there, and I’m glad I did! It’s a cute place with great sandwiches and salads, and the best chocolate chip cookies. I’m hooked. Now we go at least once a week. In fact, just writing this has made me want some today. You know where I’ll be about 12:00.

Monsters Vs. Aliens
I saw the monsters and aliens last Saturday, and liked it very much. It’s funny, and the 3-D is a lot of fun. If you’re thinking of going, then I say do it.

On my mind
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the economy and the President’s stimulus plan, and his new budget. Working with a bunch of staunch Republicans, I hear only negative views on the plan. The other day one of them was at my desk, and I mentioned that there was a little more money in my paycheck because part of the new legislation is to cut income tax withholding. Nice. My coworker, of course, started up on how this is adding to the national debt, and that our children and grandchildren will be paying for it, and blah, blah, blah. Of course the national debt is a problem, but as this man was talking I thought, “Well that’s always been the case.” And it has! I remember hearing people talk about the national debt when I was a child in the 80s, and no one has fixed it since then. The debt balance has for years been more than one generation can pay off. It’s too late to think that we can save our kids now. I’m not endorsing astronomical debt, of course not. We’d all be better off without it, and certainly the country would be more stable without it. My point is that having a national debt that will be around for decades is not new, and it certainly isn’t the result of the current economic plan, so these guys need to quit acting like it is. Honestly, in my mind all of this conversation is just more evidence of the bias that comes from getting too caught up in party politics. Let’s all just take a deep breathe, and let the new president and his aids take the time they need to work this through. It could be that they know what they’re doing.

Conference Weekend
On a lighter note, the office building is kind of fun the week of conference, lots of visitors stopping by to say hello. All of the General Authorities who are posted around the world come back for meetings, so they’re on the floor and like to talk to their IFRs (Infield Representatives). That’s who I work with. Have I ever told you all of this? The guys that I work with were all once mission presidents, and it’s their job now to act at the support group here in Salt Lake for all of the current mission presidents around the world. So we get phone calls all day every day from every corner of the earth from presidents who need help with everything from general questions to real crisis. It can be very interesting. Our work often involves the area offices of the Church, and so during this week when all of those General Authorities are in town, and they come to say hello. There’s a lot of hand shaking and back-slapping hugs. You know how old men are. Yesterday Elder L. Tom Perry came walking down the hall. Good thing I saw him coming, I had to log off of YouTube and hide the booze. Just kidding, I wasn’t watching YouTube.

Speaking of Booze
It’s Ladies’ Night tomorrow, one of the two worst nights of the year, the other being the other Ladies’ Night, of course. I’m gonna need some help from Jack Daniels, as is my custom. Man I hate Ladies’ Night.

That’s all for today. Here’s an interesting tidbit from today’s Writer’s Almanac:
It's the birthday of the writer Washington Irving, (books by this author) born in New York City (1783). He wrote "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." He was the first person who referred to New York City as "Gotham," and he created the character of Diedrich Knickerbocker, the Dutch New Yorker. "Knickerbocker" came to describe any New Yorkers who could trace their family to the original Dutch settlers, and that's where the New York Knicks get their name.

Thanks, as always, for your consistent generosity of friendship.
You are loved.