Sunday, November 30, 2008

Postcard: My Advice:

Photo by Maurice Branger, 1925

"The true secret of giving advice is,
after you have honestly given it,
to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not,
and never persist in trying to set people right."
---Hannah Whithall Smith

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Postcard: Directions

Art by Ronald Anderson

"Love does not consist in gazing at each other,
but in looking outward together in the same direction."
---Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Just a postcard to let you know we're having fun, navigating the paths
leading in and around St. Louis. Travel is a metaphor for our life. We've made plans together,
we've researched our directions, but we're flexible. Unexpected opportunities come out of no where, and we're looking for them.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

*Historian Quote

Art by Anton Pieck

"A historian is like a deaf person who goes on and on answering a question you didn't ask."

Just a postcard from your own version of a historian friend.
We're busy hunting down answers to questions nobody's asked yet
about St. Louis, Missouri.
And, get psyched, because I'll be expounding on them soon!

Just be thankful I'm busy eating today.
I hope you are just taking a computer break between leftovers.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Postcard: Character Building

This is your chance!

"During times of stress and difficulty and challenge,
we formulate within our hearts and minds our character.
---Elder Jon M. Huntsman, Institute Fireside U of U, November, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On the Road

Me and somebody else's cute car

"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list."
---Susan Sontag

I'm off for Thanksgiving to see my grands...I'll send a postcard!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kidspeak: Chelsea and Lucy at Random

Lucy 5, Chelsea 3

It was definitely bedtime: Opa and I were tired. Our two little sleepover guests were not. I put on some music to calm them down. "Are these lullabies? We're NOT babies, you know," said Lucy.

"You forgot to get our drinks...we forgot to brush our teeth...we need the hall light on...we need the door a little bit more open..." Eventually we collapsed in front of the TV. Immediately they reappeared. "Hey, Oma and Opa. Keep it down in here!" They dissolved in giggles as I bundled them back to bed.

Lucy: Tell us a story about when you were a little girl.
Chelsea: She wasn't a little girl. She was our mom's mom.
Lucy: Before that she was a little girl. Right, Oma?

Summer, 2008

Oma: Once upon a time my grampa said he had a surprise for me in his apple tree. We went down in his orchard and he carried me up the ladder...
Chelsea: What color was the ladder?
Oma: Silver.
Chelsea: I thought it could be orange.
Lucy: How did he get the apples?
Oma: He had a bucket.
Chelsea: What color was the bucket?
Lucy: What color were the apples? Red or green?
Oma: Hey! Doesn't anybody want to hear about the bird's nest?
Lucy: We had a bird's nest...
Chelsea: Maybe your grampa could jump off the ladder to a trampoline. (What?)
Oma: Doesn't anybody want to hear about the baby birds?

Tommy and Marty, 1953
(See? I was little once.)

Lucy: Did you play stuff when you were little?
Oma: Sure. I remember playing mailman with my little brother named Tommy.
Lucy: Mailman! I've never heard of playing mailman!
Oma: We wrote our names on shoeboxes and colored them to make them pretty.
Chelsea: Was your brother a boy?
Oma: Yes.
Chelsea: Boys don't like things to be pretty.
Oma: Well, we colored them our favorite colors, put them by our bedroom doors and then we wrote letters to each other and put them in the mailboxes.
Chelsea: What color was yours?
Oma: It was probably pink.
Lucy: I love pink. It's my favorite color.
Chelsea: What color was Tommy's?
Oma: Probably green.
Chelsea: Was that his favorite color?
Oma: I think so.
Lucy: Maybe it was blue. It could have been blue.
Oma: Yeah. Maybe it was blue.
Chelsea: Or beige.
Lucy: Right. Beige.

And off they go to dreamland.

Kidspeak: Ashley At Three

Ashley October 2008

Oma and Ashley were ready to leave when this little conversation took place.

Oma: Ashley, you better go to the bathroom.
Ashley: Why?
Oma: Just go in and try to go.
Ashley: Why?
Oma: Because there might not be any bathrooms on our errands.
Ashley: Do you mean 'Go Potty?'
Oma: Yes! Go potty!
ItalicAshley: Why did you say potty? The rule is 'no potty talk'. You shouldn't say potty.Oma: OK, just go to the bathroom.
Ashley: Why??

As they were driving, Ashley recognized her surroundings.

Ashley: Oma, we're driving by ballet! Are we going to ballet?
Oma: No. But where is ballet?
Ashley: Well, Oma, I don't just have a map in my head. You'll have to look on the computer.

By 6:00 AM the day was already underway.

Ashley: Can we watch a show?
Oma: Let's have breakfast, and get your clothes on first.
Ashley: Now can we watch a show?
Oma: Let's pick up this mess and comb your hair first.
Ashley: Now can we watch a show?
Oma: Just brush your teeth and wash your face first.
Ashley: I did.
Oma: Now we can watch a show!!!

Oma cleaned the kitchen and sat down to read the paper, in a leisurely way, while the movie entertained for the next ninety minutes. Wrong. After watching the coming attractions, Ashley announced the movie was over, and now it was time for Oma to play with her.

Oma: Why aren't you watching the movie?
Ashley: I can't just sit and watch TV all day! It isn't good for ya. What are we going to do now, Oma?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hats Off

Hat Shop Colmar, France

So Sher and I decided to go to church. Although we'd moved to BYU six weeks before, we'd gone home to SLC every Friday because that's where our boyfriends were. This particular weekend our guys came down to see us, so our excuse was gone. The comfort of home was only an hour away, but we got up our nerve to join the college kids. For some reason (because we weren't geeky enough as the youngest freshmen girls in our ward) we chose to wear hats.

Colmar, 2008

Nobody wore hats in 1968 Utah, except on the ski slopes. We, however, sported felt fedoras to match our outfits, ala Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. With supreme self-confidence we left the dorm. By the time we had walked smartly across campus, I felt like my hair was on fire. Even now I blush remembering the awkwardness of sitting through church knowing nobody could see over my hat.

Vanity kept me from tearing it off and hiding it in the closet, although I went home every Sunday after that, too chicken to make a reappearance. Being fashion-forward took more nerve than I had. But I learned an important lesson.

If you don't stand out from the crowd, you won't get noticed.

Happy people aren't afraid of their individuality; they embrace it. A blessing of getting older is that I'm less intimidated by what others might think of me, mostly because I've realized they aren't thinking of me. I'm unique! If I don't express my personality, who will?

I'm inspired by folks who step out of the crowd and make a positive difference. Hats off to the math teacher who could make more money elsewhere, but believes in the potential of thirteen-year-olds. Hats off to the pediatrician who sews up a teddy-bear after he stitches a kid's head wound. I take my hat off to the saleswoman who said, "That skirt just doesn't work for you," and the chubby great-grandma who went water skiing with her family. (These examples are all real people I know.) They aren't afraid to wear their own extraordinary style, with style.

by Coles Phillips
A Travel Blessing

Write Now: Do you have the courage to "wear your own hat?" Who do you admire that has that kind of self-confidence? Tell us here, or on your own blog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Paris Offers Stamp of Approval


and curiouser.

Sitting on a bench in Paris,
I watched men with suitcases huddle in little groups.
Hunched over, some with magnifying glasses,
they spread out and meticulously inspected the mysterious contents.

Stamp Market Paris, 2008

Dee gave his stamp of approval to the pastime. On Thursdays, weekends and public holidays, Paris has a unique public stamp market (in the park overlooking the gardens at the bottom of the Champs-Elysees.) You might remember it from the classic Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant movie Charade, when the little boy solves the murder by selling his stamps to a collector at one of the booths.

Vintage postcards and stamps from all over the world are for sale at the market, and philatelists (stamp collectors) bring their collections to trade or show off.

Dee collects collections, and his first collection as a little boy was stamps. He appreciates the artwork on them, the first day covers, the history behind each one, but especially the stories associated with stamp collecting.

One of his first clients told a thrilling story of being a young Jewish man in Nazi Germany. He sold his worldly goods and bought stamps. They were portable, easy to hide and would be valuable wherever he was able to go. His stamp collection was able to support his escape from Germany to Switzerland, to Hong Kong, and eventually to the USA where he settled in Salt Lake City.

Philately Store in Panorama Passage
Paris, 2008

We were searching for stamps to use as illustrations for a book. It's fun to rummage around albums and boxes looking for postcards or letters from certain periods in history. The price, the cancellation and the graphics on the stamp itself provide tiny pieces of the puzzle of what society was like "back in the day."

Old yellow French mailbox

A quest for vintage stamps is one of the side interests
that make our main interests more interesting.

"One thing life has taught me:
If you are interested, you never have to look for new interests.
They come to you.
When you are genuinely interested in one thing,
it will always lead to something else."
---Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you have hobbies that have opened up new hobbies? Do you know interesting people? What makes them interesting? What hobbies get your stamp of approval?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Following Along

Third Man

"My father didn't tell me how to live;
he lived, and let me watch him do it."
---Clarence Budington Kelland

Ten things my dad taught by example:
  1. Love your spouse.
  2. Include your kids.
  3. Sing.
  4. Remember old friends.
  5. Dream big.
  6. Pray.
  7. Honor your parents.
  8. Work hard.
  9. Believe in yourself.
  10. Have fun!

(I'm just counting my blessings.)

What have you learned from a good example?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Signs of the Times

All photos taken in Colmar, France, 2008

What's your sign?

How would you represent yourself with a picture?

In the little town of Colmar, France, wrought-iron signs decorate the shops.

In medieval times, when many people couldn't read, graphics told folks what was being sold...

...or the service being rendered.

What illustration would you choose to portray yourself?

Think of some words that describe who you are,
or what you want to be.

Some of my words are:

Maybe my sign could be an elated acrobat with a book,
or a carefree flower child with a filing cabinet.

But if anyone was making me out of wrought-iron,
I'd like to be depicted as...

A Travelin' Oma.

That's the sign that I'm looking for.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Breath of Kindness

Idaho Wheat

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person,
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together,

certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,

keep what is worth keeping,

and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."
---Dinah Craik

Monday, November 10, 2008

Scary Tales

Drawing by Joel Schick
The Gobble-uns'll Git You

It was chilly in the basement bedroom. I turned on the heat, kicked off my shoes and closed the door before I saw him hiding in the corner. My shriek echoed throughout the house and Brad pounded down the stairs to my rescue. I looked away while he killed the intruder . . . a giant, hairy spider.

Gabi and Brad left on vacation the next day, leaving me to protect their kids. I was walking down the hall when I noticed another large, black spider on the floor. Shivers ran up and down my spine as I realized there was nobody to help. Keeping an eye on the hairy beast, I walked backwards to the kitchen, put on some boots and got the telephone book. I was terrified.

With all the force I could muster I threw the book on the spider with a squeal and then jumped on top just to make sure it was squooshed to bits. Jake heard me yell and ran in to see what was going on.

Illustration by Judy Love

I was shaking as I lifted the phone book off the offensive creature, but I could see it was still big and fat. Jake leaned over to look closer, and picked up a black leg. "Why are you jumping on my plastic spider?" he asked, as he tucked it in his pocket. Duh, Oma.

Jake, 2008

Happy Trails

New trailer, 1970

We lived in an 8' wide trailer for a year, and then bought a new one, which was 12' x 48' where we lived for three more years. It had an extra bedroom big enough for a crib, and with all that extra space we quickly had a second baby. The kids each got a bedroom and we slept on a hide-a-bed in the living room, which we pulled out and made up each night.

There was a ditch (we called it a stream) behind our house, and a bridge leading to a two-washer laundromat, which the whole trailer court shared. We were all students, most of us with a baby or two, washing cloth diapers several times a week. A huge electric dryer without temperature settings melted all the plastic pants and bibs, and fried anything made of synthetic fabric. I shrunk a bunch of Dee's cotton golf shirts one day, and finally realized the clothesline outside would be easier on our clothing budget.

It seemed that hundreds of diapers floated in the breeze and several young moms would fly out of their doors when it started to rain. I remember collecting a lot of frozen clothes off the line during the winter. The laundry was done while the baby was asleep, or in the crib for safe keeping. It was impossible to carry a hamper and a diaper pail across the bridge with a child in tow. I sometimes placed the infant seat on a little patch of grass while I hung out the wash, but that took a couple of trips, and it was easier to wait until nap time.

I pushed the stroller out to the mailbox on the street, then to the church for Relief Society, stopping at the milk depot on my way home. Sometimes I walked down to the grocery store, but I couldn't manage more than a couple of bags. I only had the car once a week, and that's when I did all my errands and went to the library. Without a TV, and no place to go, I read several books a week.

Christmas, 1970

I looked forward to having a second car, more space, and a washer and dryer, but I didn't feel deprived. We discovered it didn't take much to make us happy. And it was the only time we owned our own home, without a mortgage!

Young Love

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dee's On His Way

Dee's off to join the Blogosphere.

I've spent the past two weeks building Dee his own little nest. He already has a website, but we can't manipulate it to make any changes or updates. Since we're pro-bono clients of our successful and busy web-site building son, we feel annoying when we call him with every little problem we encounter. ("Why is the iTunes button jumping around?") My goal is to become self-sufficient.

So, since I don't know anything about building web-sites, but I know about building blogs, I decided to combine the ideas and create an update-able website in my neighborhood blogosphere where I feel welcome and comfortable. I told Dee it would be a very simple blog, and it would only take me an hour or so to tweak the template into his personal space.

My standards were low because I didn't know what I was doing, but with each step I learned a new skill, and my standards went higher. I hadn't remembered that to create a full-fledged blog I'd have to write a bunch of posts. I wanted the sidebar to have important info about Dee's company (Heritage Associates) that would remain static, no matter how many posts are eventually in his arsenal. All the writing and linking, and relinking when I did it wrong, took hours, even days. Making sure the posts were accurate took some research, scanning using files we emailed back and forth across the city was confusing until I had stuff strewn across my desk.

Organization is my joy and my frustration. I hate the mess at first, but I love when the puzzle pieces start coming together. So now, the picture is complete. Tomorrow I'll send Dee to his office to practice living with a blog. In a way it's like sending him off to meet a new lover. I know how alluring and seductive a living, breathing blog can be, especially when it's young and anxious to learn everything you know. A blog is interested in all you say and think, and you find you can't keep any secrets. Soon your conversations last into the wee hours, and you can't bear to say goodnight. I trust my husband in this situation, though.

Dee has other interests and is disciplined enough to keep his blog at arm's length and let me represent him as a friend. I hope it works out that way. I have zillions of ideas!

Explore, and see if it's user friendly or if you get tangled up. Comments aren't allowed, but I'd love to hear what you think. You'll recognize links to some of my own TravelinOma posts when the story needs a little extra pizazz.

I haven't figured out how to get this blog out to would-be clients who are searching for Dee as anxiously as he's searching for them. Please feel free to pass it on to anyone who might be interested in gathering history of one kind or another. And wish Dee well if you see him in any virtual alley-ways. He might be stuck between the links!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Here's Hoping!

Art from My Little Golden Book About God
by Eloise Wilkin

"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day,
a fresh try, one more start,
with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere
behind the morning."
---J. B. Priestley

"In the face of uncertainty,
there is nothing wrong with hope."
---Bernie Siegel

I am thrilled to be an American today.
I have set fear aside in favor of hope.
I've needed a change,
and it's here.

President Barack ObaMA!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Celebrate America

Look at the small red headline designated by the red box.
It says: "Statistically speaking, your vote won't tip results."


Are they trying to discourage voters?

This is the front page of today's newspaper, the day before the biggest presidential race in recent history at the height of a campaign that has changed the future for women and black Americans, putting "we believe that all men are created equal" in a totally new context. A contest that will make a difference in the lives of men, women and children for decades. And the Associated Press headlines with these words: "Voting for president and having your ballot be the deciding one, statistically, is like trying to hit the lottery. The odds for the average person are 60 million to 1 against it." (I get their point, but it's a stupid one.)

The important point is this: Casting my vote matters to ME! I live in Utah, the state where Bill Clinton came in 3rd. (Do you even remember who else was running?) My actual punch in the ballot card tomorrow won't change the fact that our small number of electoral votes will all go to John McCain. Does that mean I shouldn't bother because I won't count? That my 2¢ worth won't win the lottery? I'm a citizen of the United States of America, with an opportunity and a responsibility to study things out and vote my conscience. It seems like a sacred duty to me.

I love elections and particularly Election Day. In some states the kids are even out of school. I think it ought to be a holiday! I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve, full of anticipation and hope. I get a say! So do you.

I can't wait to hear what we all say!!!

My vote is the most important one to me. It means I'm part of the great blessing of being an American. It means I don't just take--I contribute, too. I count.

Even so, I am tired of the campaigns. They have gotten ugly and negative. I hang up on the robo-calls and delete the savage emails, hit pause during the ads, and junk the junk-mail, too. But it absolutely thrills me that we can campaign without secret police rounding up the offenders. I love the fact that we have freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, freedom to speak our opinions, even against those in power. Nobody can arrest me for voting for Barack Obama, even if they disagree with my choice. Your kids won't report you to their teachers if you vote for John McCain. That is not the case for many people. Citizens of some governments don't have a say.

Tomorrow night I'll be in front of the TV watching as each of our fifty states turns red or blue. I'll cheer and moan, and groan and yell, and hopefully throw my hat in the air. And however it turns out, it will be a giant celebration.

My vote matters to me, and yours matters to me, too.
God bless America!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Good Mail

Thanks for writing! Boskey, Kerith and Kenju are the winners. Thanks for your suggestions for taking a blog tour. Email me your address (my address is on my profile page) and you'll get some good mail!