Monday, June 30, 2008

Don't Knock It

Oma lives the Grand Life, 2007

Who's there?
Colleen who?
Colleen all kids! It's story time!

"How 'bout some stories in the Oma Tent!"

Who's there?
Paul who?
Paul up a chair and a story I'll tell.

Who's there?
Lena who?
Lena little closer so I don't have to yell.

"Isn't Oma funny?"

Did you hear the story about the roof?
Never mind. It's over your head.

Did you hear the story about the skunk?
Never mind. It stinks.

Did you hear the story about Opa?
"Once upon a time, when Opa was a little boy,
he was out in the woods and decided to roast a grasshopper..."

"What's the big deal? I once ate a potato bug."

Who's there?
Foyer who?
Foyer information, it's the Big Bad Wolf.

Who's there?
Hugh who?
Hugh's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

The Originals, 1983

Who's there?
Bea who?
Bea very afraid.

♫ "Little Red Riding Hood,
You sure are looking good,
You're everything that a Big Bad Wolf could want.
EWOOO!..." ♫

Who's there?
Andy who?
Andy all lived happily ever after.

Why don't shoes tell stories?
Because they have a foot in their mouth.

Did you hear the story about the germ?
Nevermind. I don't want to spread it around.

"Opa's outrageous!"

Did you hear the story about skinny dipping?
"Once upon a time when Opa was just a little boy
he liked to go swimming down at the mill race..."

Who's there?
Avenue who?
Avenue heard that story before?

Sam, I Am

Who's there?
Salada who?
Salada bad jokes going around here!

I've written myself a little script so I can present a story hour at the Hero Camp Out. It could easily be broken up into 15-minute chunks (or stretched into hours if my audience begs me!) I compiled some jokes and attention grabbers from an excellent book called Storytime Stretchers by Naomi Baltuck. A few favorite fairy tales, (with new surprise endings) are condensed between silly songs with actions (I've found them in old Brownie Scout booklets and grade-school resource books) and some true stories about their ancestors (us) as little kids. It's been SO fun! But I need to go practice!

Who's there?
Althea who?
Althea later, Alligator!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Picture Perfect

Pink Baby
by Oma

"Children seldom misquote you.
In fact, they usually repeat word for word
what you shouldn't have said."

Water Drops

SLC Olympic Plaza

It just looks like a big patio. . . .

Until the music begins. . . .

And the water starts to dance.

It took Hannah a minute,

But McKay made a splash.

Chase, McKay, Hannah

This is how they looked this morning.

This is what happened after a day in the sun.

Chase dropped off before his head hit the pillow!

I love these water babies!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Write Away

The Calling
William Adolphe Bouguereau

"What is the best way to write? Each of us has to discover her own way by writing. Writing teaches writing. No one can tell you your own secret."
Gail Sher: One Continuous Mistake.

Writers are naturally introspective. It's one of the qualities that makes us write. And it seems like we're forever searching for legitimacy. Quotes from the greatest authors show that having many publications and legions of readers is not enough to give lasting confidence. Even they wonder if they've fooled people into thinking they've got something of worth to offer.

So, the questions Marta posed on her blog actually prove her status. She asked, "Is a blogger a writer?" and "Does a real writer blog?" It's a great post, and the comments are insightful, too.

I don't think every blogger is a writer, and I don't think everything a writer writes is writing. The underlying question writers ask themselves, (and anyone who will read their work) is, "Am I a writer?" Deep down, I want someone to declare that it's permissible for me to take that lofty title.

It's doesn't work that way. When somebody says, "Wow, you're a great writer!" I question their opinion. Since everybody learns to write in kindergarten, it seems presumptuous to announce that I think I'm better at it than some. But just knowing how to talk doesn't make a person a speaker. I don't feel embarrassed saying to other people who can read that I'm a reader. I know how to run, but I'm not a runner. I have to declare myself: Because I express myself through writing, I'm a writer.

Writers don't always have readers. Before I had a blog, my only readers were people I knew well, the people I could actually hand my work to in person. I didn't have the money or the backing to publish or print anything in large numbers. Now I have readers. Although I still give my stuff away, my blog gives me a sensation of authenticity.

I started my blog mainly as a journal. Now I think of it as an essay, or an article. My blog predicament has become whether I blog for readers or for myself. If it's for readers I have to give myself the right to write.

I love to read the inner thoughts of a writer. That's the art form that resonates with me. It's the essence of communication. A personal, intimate post is my favorite kind of blog. The written word gives me the feeling that I'm entering somebody's heart and mind, connecting with a soul.

I blog the way I used to write in my journal. I mentally edited the things I wrote there, because I was always afraid I'd die unexpectedly. I didn't want anyone to have their feelings hurt just because I happened to rant the day before my demise. I kept my journal, imagining the people who would someday read it. It wasn't ever meant to be totally private. I'm an audience kind of writer. For me, writing doesn't feel complete unless someone reads it.

Why do you blog? Do you keep a journal as well? Do you write with readers in mind, or is your blog mostly for yourself? Do you care about getting new readers?

Visit Marta's post for added inspiration! And give yourself permission to be a writer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Career Army

What would you do with three extra years?

From the third month of our marriage we had known Dee would have three years of active duty in the army. We had incorporated that reality into our plans, and even talked ourselves into looking forward to it. Maybe, after Viet Nam, we'd get sent to Germany. His area of expertise was intelligence: maybe he'd become a spy! Looking for the positive in our circumstances, we imagined living in Europe, in one of the embassies, attending elegant balls and formal dinners.

Suddenly it was all gone!

I picked Dee up at the airport and he told me the story. Sleeping in the dirt had given him a near-fatal asthma attack. The medics rescued him from a fox hole and took him to the army hospital in Fort Lewis, Washington. Although he'd always had allergies, he'd never had an asthma attack, and assumed it was a terrible fluke. It took ten days of IV's and breathing treatments to get his system back in balance.

One afternoon a new doctor, who resembled Hawkeye, came in to look him over. He sat down by the bed and said, "I see you're going regular army." "Yes, Sir." "How would you like a discharge?"

Dee wasn't sure he'd heard the man correctly. The doctor said, "You've got a condition here that will let you go home." Dee asked, "Today?" "I'll sign the papers. You're out."

Certain someone would come after him with an AWOL charge, Dee hurriedly called a taxi, stuffed his duffel bag, and left the post. He called me from the airport, and, still afraid it was all a hoax, didn't explain a thing. The phone might have been tapped in case of ROTC escapees. (For years he dreamed someone from the army was coming after him.)

"So, what do you want to do?" he asked me as we drove home. "We can do whatever we want!" Well, not exactly. We had two little kids and a bunch of student loans. (The army doesn't pick up your tab if you don't actually serve.) We started rethinking the whole spy thing. Wouldn't there be an easier way to go to Germany? Like, just get a job and go there on vacation?

That summer Dee started studying for the LSAT. He later got accepted to Pepperdine Law School, but by that time he had a real job, and we were expecting kid #3. The three years we got back went by unnoticed, and it's only in hindsight that we even see them. Eventually we went to Germany on vacation many times. We lived abroad on our own terms. But we've never been to a formal ball.

Everybody says to set goals, map out your future, have a strategy. We have learned over and over again that life is what happens while you're making other plans.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Weave Me the Sunshine

The windshield wipers on the VW Bug were cranking at full speed when I left my mom's house. It was June, 1972, and I'd given birth to our second baby two weeks earlier. Dee was in Fort Lewis, Washington, for a six-week ROTC summer camp during the last week of my pregnancy, so it was my folks who took me to the hospital, sat through the labor, and got the first peek at our son. Baby blues, as they were called then, hit hard. It was a lonely time.

The Viet Nam War was going full steam, and we anticipated that Dee's active duty would start in December. When he won the draft lottery a couple of years before, he had joined ROTC in order to finish school and enter the army as an officer. He was committed for at least a year in Viet Nam. The three weeks I'd just spent without him made our future look very bleak.

While I was in the hospital with my new baby, Dee called from Washington. He reported that he was also in the hospital in intensive care. After an asthma attack in a foxhole, he had stopped breathing, and had been rushed in an ambulance to the emergency room. I worried and wondered for several days before hearing from him again. I had no way to call him; in the days before email and cell phones we often just had to wait for news.

He was in the hospital for about ten days, and finally, that afternoon, he had called with a cryptic sound in his voice. "I'll be home tonight." No explanation of why he was being sent home three weeks early. "Can you pick me up at the airport at 8:00?" I tried to coax more out of him, but he just said not to worry.

I was cautiously thrilled. Between my every-four-hour feedings I decided to make the 80-mile round trip to clean up our little home and get it ready for Dee's return. As I drove, I prayed out loud about our future, hoping for hope and peace of mind.

Timp seen from BYU Library

After I said Amen I turned on the radio. I noticed that the rain had stopped. As I went around a bend, the mist faded, and the supernal sight of Mt. Timpanogus appeared in the sunlight, sparkling with a dusting of new snow on the peaks. Peter, Paul and Mary were singing a song I'd never heard before:

Weave, weave, weave me the sunshine out of the fallin' rain; Weave me the hope of a new tomorrow, and fill my cup again.

They sang this chorus over and over and over, and I could feel my cup filling. My gloomy worries left; the sun had literally come out. I didn't know what was ahead, but I knew we were in good hands. Peter Yarrow wrote, Weave me the hope of a new tomorrow. I've always considered that song an answer to a prayer.

More to come. . . .

Do you have a special song?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Heartwarming Story

When I hear of a new grandchild on the way, my heart skips a beat. Joy, tenderness, and gratitude–combined with a huge dose of vulnerability–fill my heart with love, and my stomach with butterflies.

I am in awe of the mothers and grandmothers (and dads and grandpas) who have faced heartache with the sickness of a new baby. Memoirs of a Mommy is a blog by Noah's mom. Born with a heart defect, he was blessed with a heart transplant when he was an infant. Someone gave Noah a new heart. And someone else's mom had a broken heart.

I just received a heartwarming award. Noah's mom created it to celebrate the first anniversary of his transplant and it's going around the Internet to raise awareness of organ donation. Mine came from my blogger friend, Miss Kris, and I'm very flattered. I get to pass it on to five folks who warm my heart on a regular basis.

Sher-endipity, Etc.

Shering Time

Nichols-Party of 3

Ink Poison

So Random

If you would like to pass the award on, just link to this site and ask your recipients to link to it, too. Noah's Adventure tells the whole story.

And, dear bloggy friends, you all warm my heart when you read my blog. Consider yourself awarded. Pass the award along to your heart's content!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Comfort Food

Top Ten Dishes from my mom's diner:
  1. Olive Casserole. Browned hamburger with onions, canned tomatoes, macaroni and a can of black olives.
  2. Fried Mush. Left over cornmeal mush, made into patties and fried in bacon grease, served with maple syrup.
  3. Liver with Bacon and Onions. A weekly staple that I hated. I remember Dad telling me I could go up on the roof with him if I ate my liver. (I needed incentives.)
  4. Spam Sandwiches. I loved these because Mom let me turn the little key to get the lid off the spam tin.
  5. Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast. Mom made a white sauce, then added chipped beef from a cute little glass (we saved them all as juice glasses) and served it over buttered toast.
  6. Hash. Hamburger browned with onion, combined with hashbrown potatoes and a can of corn. My dad made this for mom over a campfire on one of their first dates. It has always been one of my favorites.
  7. Sardines on Saltines. I have the same roof-bribe memory from a time when Dad coaxed me to eat these smelly little morsels. (Maybe he spent a lot of time on the roof?)
  8. Pork Chops. Browned, then baked in a casserole dish with a can of green beans, and served with baked potatoes.
  9. Artichokes. My mom boiled whole artichokes and we dipped the leaves in mayonnaise and ate the soft part. Mom saved the heart for herself.
  10. Thinnies. Swedish pancakes–like crepes–smothered in melted butter and sugar, then rolled up and served as fast as we could eat them.
What are some comfort foods you remember from your mom's kitchen?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Punctuation: Explanation Points

Today I pampered myself. I got a massage and a pedicure, but best of all, I re-read a book about punctuation. I know that does not rank up there on the list of 50 Favorite Hobbies, but I am smitten with commas, semi-colons, and parentheses. And I adore paragraphs.

Consider this: just twenty six letters, organized with periods and question marks, became To Kill a Mockingbird. Good prose is a matter of interior design. A few things I've learned about writing:
  1. Use variety. A sentence can be a long, wordy string of words, with commas breaking things up, like this. It can actually be two sentences; just put a semi-colon in the middle. Do you see how punctuation adds visual interest? It's amazing!
  2. If you want to tell your reader something confidential (like a secret) whisper it in parentheses.
  3. Long paragraphs are intimidating. Without some visual space we get claustrophobic. Compare reading a magazine to reading the little warning sheet that comes inside the Tylenol bottle. The contrast is a reminder to hit the return key often. Short paragraphs make readers feel welcome.
  4. Use your dictionary; spell check can only do so much. A precise word conveys the right meaning. Is your sister erratic or erotic? (The computer doesn't pick up the difference.)
  5. Quote an expert. In Writing With Style, John R. Trimble said, "View your reader as a companionable friend–someone with a warm sense of humor and a love of simple directness. Write like you're actually talking to that friend, but talking with enough leisure to frame your thoughts concisely and interestingly."
  7. if you adopt a style for creative purposes, be consistent. you want your readers to know it's intentional.
  8. Unless you're training for a marathon and have to keep going even when you're exhausted remember to put commas in to give your readers a chance to take a breath before they faint.
  9. Ellipses are used to show that you've left a word out of a quotation. Rudolf Flesch said, "Punctuation . . . is the most important single device for making things easier to read." When . . . are used incorrectly . . . we wonder . . . what we are missing . . .
  10. Explanation points! They can be overdone! Use them sparingly!
Any questions?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Housekeeping Tips?

I went to Target today and bought some Rubbermaid containers, like this. They are perfect for what I want to use them for. However they have a yukky smell...kind of like plastic mothballs.
I washed them with dish soap, then I filled them with water and a little bleach, hoping the smell would disappear. Still there. Now they are sitting outside, airing out. Has anyone else had this problem, or did I just get a bad batch?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lessons Learned

Kisses adorned the mirror in the bathroom of a ritzy private girl's school. The janitor asked the nuns to speak to the students about this trendy way of blotting their lipstick, which left him a greasy mess to clean up. But even with the reprimands, the girls didn't stop.

Finally the janitor asked if he could meet with the girls and demonstrate how hard they made his job of washing the mirror. The girls giggled through his lecture, whispering about being scolded by a maintenance worker. Then he said, "This is what I have to do to get the lipstick off." He dipped his brush in the toilet and scrubbed the mirror until it sparkled. And the girls stopped kissing the mirror! Some people just know how to teach.

I learned a lesson in a visual way, too. I used to leave the radio on in the car. Whenever Dee drove my car, he'd suggest that I turn it off before I parked and took out the key. I thought it was pretty silly of him, a petty complaint. I have to admit I felt a little bit like a teenager rebelling against authority. I purposely left the radio blaring, ready to jolt me with energy each time I started the engine. When our children started driving, Dee wasn't as patient with them, and always got mad when the radio was left on. The kids learned from me that this was a demand they could ignore.

One day 16-year-old Amy jumped in her truck and the music blasted loudly as soon as she turned the key. On the way to some important high school event, she shifted into reverse and backed out without a good look in the rear view mirror.

The Banana

Dee was just pulling into the driveway. He laid on the horn. The radio was deafening and without hearing his warning, she backed right into him! Bumper cars in the front yard! Until that moment I hadn't seen the light. It could so easily have been me wrecking two cars at once. I've never acknowledged my role in the episode, but I'm taking responsibility now. (I was happy to let Amy take it all, back then!)

I knew she had a better chance of survival than I did.
Dee still pictured her looking like this.

Sometimes the lecture isn't as effective as the consequence. I don't kiss the mirror and I don't leave the radio on. And I don't shift the blame anymore.

Have you learned a lesson the hard way?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


June 2008

I went swimming with my little granddaughters the other day. We all came home in our soggy swimsuits, and as Jess (5) walked in, she stripped hers off quickly, and ran bare-naked through the kitchen. I pulled the strap off my shoulder and said, "I'm going to do that, too!" Five giant pairs of eyes stared at me in horror! "No, Oma! No!"

Hannah Banana, Spring 2008
Photo by Stie

It was 8:30 PM and the boys were laughing and silly as they played a game. Hannah twirled around the living room in her jammies, giggling. Their mom said, "Time for bed!" All the merriment came to an abrupt halt, replaced by sudden gloom. "I'm starving," said Chase as he doubled over in agony. He pulled a can from the pantry. "Can we make some soup?"

McKay, suddenly disoriented, staggered down the hall towards his toothbrush. Hannah's dance moves melted into a memory, as she clutched at her neck and moaned. "My throat hurts."

"Then you better go to bed!" said Mom. "I don't want to see you until morning." Hannah sulked out of the room, and then wailed, "But what if I'm bleeding?"

Grandkids are the reward for having kids.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

June 15th: A Time To Celebrate

June in 1942

My mom Junie was born on a snowy Sunday morning,
June 14, 1925.
(I wonder if they still have birthdays in heaven?)

Me and Dad, 1950

Father's Day
My dad, Jiggs, always loved me.
(He's hopefully partying with Mom.)

Dee and Gabi, 1971

Father's Day
This is the wonderful father of my seven kids,
at the very beginning of his career as a Dad.
(He's semi-retired from that role.)

Josh, 1980

Second kid, first son, born June 15th to bring us joy.
He's now an awesome father to three.
(And he continues to bring us joy.)

Tabor, Czech Republic, 2008

Father's Day Present:
This blog.

(Sorry, Dear. This is the closest you're getting to a new car.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Meet the Press

I feel like I've lost a friend. Tim Russert seemed authentic to me, and honorable. There aren't a lot of media folk who are both interesting and honest. I trusted his presentation of current events. He came into my home every Sunday, and several times a week via MSNBC and I'll miss him.

There are several TV acquaintances that seem as familiar as roommates. Some are real, and some are roles, but either way, they're welcome to spend the evening at our house.
  1. Marty Crane and sons
  2. Chris Matthews
  3. Hawkeye
  4. Bobby Goren
  5. Christopher Foyle
  6. Barbara Havers
  7. Jack McCoy
  8. Dave Letterman
  9. Norah O'Donnell
  10. Samantha Brown
  11. Robby Lewis
  12. Helen and Morty Seinfeld
Do any of these people visit you on a regular basis?

Watch Out!

Time can get away from you.
Do you ever feel like your life is happening all at once?
I need to stop the clock for a few hours and catch up with myself.
I'm ticking too fast to hear my tock.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Biographer Bio

Salzburg Bookstore, 2008

The problem with the biography we're writing is that the guy is still alive. I'm glad he's alive, because he's the one paying us, and he continues to make huge contributions to society; but an on-going life means more honors, more memories, more interviews, more photos . . . and it's hard to wrap things up!

Obviously, I like to write. And the subject of this book has had fascinating experiences in politics, community service, church and business. I've soaked up a lot as I've compiled oral interviews and Dee's research into chapters. But now I'm even dreaming his life! I dreamed about their house, (I was catering a barbecue) and I've never even been there!  I know his opinions on everything and he's intruding into my conversations: I quote him right and left. (My brain first types what I think he'd say, then cuts and pastes his comments into my own remarks.) We've become altogether too close.

Cesky Krumlov Passage, 2008

But I see the light at the end of the tunnel. My plan is to finish the last of the last chapter (of those I'm working on) tomorrow. Then, of course, there's the scary interlude between handing it over to Dee, his re-edits, and then getting the reaction from the client. Was he portrayed honestly? Did we catch his subtle humor and quirks accurately?  Did he like himself in the book? Will he be pleased to share it with those closest to him?

A biography is much more than a time line---it's a concise analysis of someone's character development, their individuality---what happened when to whom, and why and how it mattered. I feel a heavy responsibility to present a person authentically. I've done this dozens of times before, but I want to continue to honor the trust I've been given.

Even though I won't miss his weight on my stiff right shoulder, I'll miss the guy. I've been inside his mind for eight months now, studying the way he thinks, scrutinizing his philosophies. I have enormous respect for him.  He's got a good heart, pure motives, and integrity.

The funny thing is, he doesn't know anything about me! He knows Dee's work, but our paths have never crossed in a personal or social way. I wonder if he'd want to scrutinize my philosophies, or analyze my childhood experiences? Highly unlikely...he's busy piling up achievements for another chapter!

 I'm reminded that we are all compiling chapters for our autobiographies in our everyday activities.  I hope my ultimate editor sees the best in what I hand over.

What if someone was writing your biography?

  1. Who would you have him interview?
  2. What events were life-changing?
  3. Do you have letters or journals that chronicle your life?
  4. What would the first paragraph say to introduce you?
  5. How would the last chapter condense your convictions?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Photos of Kempinski Hotel
Munich 2008

I live in a glass house. In the olden days, before I knew everyone would be able to see inside my facade, I was pretty glib. I said things like, "Look at her chin! She has whiskers!" Now the only way I can avoid seeing any stray eyebrows is to take off my glasses.

Reflection: The older I get, the less judgmental I become.

Glass lobby.
Glass shelves filled with red geraniums.

My neighbors across the way left their blinds open tonight. With the light on I could see them in their bedroom packing suitcases. I wondered if they knew I was watching, and then I realized my blinds were also open, and my hall light was on. "People who live in glass houses..."

Reflection: What do people see when I'm not aware they're watching?

Glass ceiling

Shattering the glass ceiling was never my goal. It was invisible to me, anyway. I thought I could fly as high as I wanted to go, in whatever direction I decided to take, no matter which way I buttoned my shirt. But some women saw it, and took aim. What is your experience with the glass ceiling? Has it blocked your way, and kept you from reaching goals you had set?

I always felt I had choices, but I discovered that I moved away from some opportunities as I moved towards others. It was true: "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and knowing I could not travel both..."

The path I choose has led past some grimy windows that needed a little Windex to brighten the view, and some dull mirrors that shattered my day-dreams, but I never came up against the glass ceiling. How has it affected your choices?

Reflection: I get caught up in my own reflections.

OK, You've seen enough--turn off the light!

What would someone see if you lived in a glass house? Would you shine?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Home from the North: Idaho

I'm shaking Idaho granite dust out of my shoes, buffing up the leather on favorite old books found new again, polishing off Marta's pack-up filled with chocolate sour cream cake (from scratch) Watermelon cubes, and strawberry-spinach salad. It's fun to come home from a treasure hunt...with treasures!

We had a magic get away to a valley of wind whipped clouds, green farmsteads, and the Grand Teton Mountains hovering in the distance. Marta is a homemaker extraordinaire, effortlessly throwing together a lovely summer meal from local produce she'd picked up at the farmer's market. Organization is her speciality and already everything had a place in a darling basket, lined up artistically inside her cupboards. One pantry held the snow-tires, and Dan's biking gear was lovingly tucked in with the baby's mobile and bumper pads.  They're becoming a real family.

We visited Dan's firm, which is an impressive building in a business park. Dan has a handsome office loaded down with case studies and files, and books to study for the bar, and personal art adorning the walls. His partners were friendly and professional and I could see that Dan's large windowed, corner office fit his expansive personality and potential.  (The other new attorney got the cozier room.)  Dan has room to spread his wings!! He looks out on a giant fountain and sculpture of eagles flying around and landing on a rock formation.  Symbolism through the glass.

We toured the town, found the authentic granite quarry that cut giant pieces of Little Cottonwood Canyon LDS temple granite into blocks, and turned it into the stones used for the huge Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Since Dee wrote the story of all the miraculous events that made it all possible in-spite of incredible odds, he wanted to search the throwaway heap for granite scraps he could use as keepsake book ends in his office. 

The son who's now in charge at the quarry came outside, and Dee quickly displayed his expertise on the subject.  The  young man suggested a fabulous book written about his dad and granddad that told all the awesome occurrences  in great detail, in context of their business.  He reappeared with the book Dee had written, and said, "This was written by a famous biographer from Salt Lake City and since you're so interested you ought to have a copy.  You should call the author because he's the real expert on all this."  Dee didn't have the heart to tell him that the short, bearded fellow before him in levis, suspenders, sweatshirt and baseball hat was the exact famous author he referred to so glowingly.  

After a lunch in a classy cafe right down town, we walked across the street to a well organized, eclectic antique mall.  I could have stayed all day.  Dee found stamps, I found books and maps...Marta found toys, vintage dishes and linens. It was dreamy to find exactly what I hope for in a little village I'll be visiting often. What else did we suss out?
  1. There's a brand-new Barnes and Noble
  2. A Daylight Donut Drive-thru window, with coke
  3. A Farmer's market 
  4. Convenient hotel with free breakfast
  5. Several unique local restaurants to try.
  6. Newly remodeled Mall with Dillards, Macy's and the other regular shops at a big city mall.
  7. Another donut store, with Spudnuts
  8. Farr's Ice Cream Shop
  9. Roberts Crafts, Joanne Fabrics, scrapbook stores, two Walmarts
  10. Upscale Great Harvest Bakery and Cafe, art galleries, parks, Sonic Burger
This is no po-dunk cross-roads of a town.  It's got personality.

And of course the true draw: (besides our resident graphic artist and attorney) in just 11 weeks there will be a new cuddly, soft, baby boy  that will attract our attention.

Driving home we explored the route to Jackson Hole, Star Valley Wyoming, Logan Canyon, Cache Valley: it's gorgeous country.  This will become our donut and cuddle run.

How do you like to explore?  Are you a hiker? 
Do you rev up a snow mobile, or saddle a horse?  
Or do you pack up your credit cards and head for
 Bloomingdales,Nordstrom and the Gap?  
What makes a fun weekend trip for you? 
 Blog about it and leave us a comment leading the way.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Longest Day

We wandered through these graves in Normandy, France, observing an older couple and their middle-aged daughter. The two women walked arm-in-arm silently wiping tears as they looked at the many names on each of the Crosses and Stars of David. The man trailed respectfully behind a few feet, carrying his hat, obviously concerned for the women.

It was April, 1984, just before the fortieth anniversary of D-Day, and a few weeks before the crowds and memorial services began in earnest. It was an overwhelming task to comprehend the enormity of the battle, and loss of life, in such a peaceful, beautiful setting. We couldn't imagine how much had depended on the success of the Allied armies. But with the numberless young men whose lives changed that June 6th long ago, here was one single boy being sought by his family. The woman, who had traumatically lost her 1st love, and later found new hope with the gentle man escorting her to see a stone commemorating her soldier; the daughter born after her father's death, and raised in the shadow of his memory. It was a poignant observance.

We watched them wander through the crosses counting each grave, lost in thoughts. We came upon them a few minutes later, kneeling with some flowers, brushing back the dirt, and reading the plaque with his name close up. The women shed tears, hugging each other, and the step-father stood tactfully behind them, allowing their moment of recognition, pride and grief, before he gathered them in his arms and escorted them back.

It felt like a sacred place. I don't know how many of you usually celebrate D-Day. It's my husband (Dee's) special holiday, and he wraps up in his flag, divvies up some spam sandwiches, and breaks out The Longest Day. Saving Private Ryan is the second feature. Our kids actually think he participated in the invasion, he has such reverence for it. He was actually just a pit of fear in his big sister's tummy, when whew heard promises of a baby brother after daddy came home from the war. But understanding WWII is Dee's specialty and we salute him with respect.

It was a time of unification, sacrifice, patriotism, pride and tears. It's worth remembering. Although I was but a lick on an upside down stamp at the time (do you get it??) my parents and other young lovers were seeing a glimmer of hope that they could go back to homemade ice cream at a backyard picnic, a ride in their brother's convertible, and a kiss on the top of a Ferris wheel. By D-Day, people quoted Winston Churchill with faith, when he said, "This is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end; but it could be the end of the beginning."

You'll know it's D-Day when an historian starts giving lengthy answers to questions you never asked. You can cagily say, "Hey, where was Utah Beach?'' And then casually sit him in front of the DVD with John Wayne or Tom Hanks. He'll melt onto the couch and you won't hear from him for several hours! Just be ready later with a question like, "Did Bradley like Monte?" Curl up with a pillow for a longest-day answer and you'll be revered as the D-Day Date. (Your evening may be remembered as the Longest Night.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Adelila Hogensen Bagley

Adelila Hogensen Bagley about 1973

I looked in the mirror and wondered what my grandmother was doing in my bathroom! I inherited her features, but I missed out on her green thumb.

Her name was Adelila and she loved flowers. When we visited she always took us on a tour of her yard to show off whatever was blossoming. In her living room she had a special stand that held small pots of African Violets. They were cultivated until they bloomed, and then she gave them away to her friends.

I once took a trip with Grama and Grampa to see my cousins in Las Vegas. As we drove through the Utah desert she admired the cactus flowers, and we stopped several times so that she could dig a cactus up by the roots and load it in the trunk to replant in her yard.

But she wasn't always a grandmother. She was once a little girl in Montpelier, Idaho.

Adelila and her little brothers, 1910. (Yes, the little person in the white dress is a boy.)

Her mother was Emily and her father was Charles. This picture was taken when she was thirteen, the year after her father died.

"I remember the 4th of July, 1909. I was 12 years old. My dad set off his usual firecrackers--big ones-- and laughed when we all jumped. It was such a happy holiday. He took sick that very night with pneumonia. He was ill for two week and passed away on July 19th.

"My memories of him are so vivid. He took us to the canyons and the lake in the summer. He was a good swimmer and loved to take us out on his back. When the skiing was good, he took us with him and we'd ride behind him down the long, gradual slopes a block from home. He took us to school in the winter in a horse drawn sleigh over deep, snowy roads with no sidewalks to walk on. I remember riding under fur robes, the horses throwing snow in our faces as they galloped along. How we loved the bells jingling on the harnesses! He taught me to ice skate on Bear Lake. It was all so much fun and it ended so abruptly.

"After my dad died, mother took in boarders and school teachers to help support us four children. I worked at mother's elbow to help get the food ready for meals. We saved rags and tore them in strips, sewed them together, and then we would wind them into a big ball and mother would weave them on a loom. That's the kind of rug we had in our front room for the winter.

"I helped card wool by searching for places where the sheep had rubbed up against the fence. I would pick up all those little bits of wool, and then use a carder to pull it through and brush it, to get all the dirt out and refine the wool. Then mother would spin it and make it into yarn.

"As a little girl, I was taken to church and made to be quiet. I recall how hard it was to sit still for so long. We always went to Sunday School. I remember on one occasion a friend invited me to go riding with her. Her family had a Shetland pony and a cart. It was a very special invitation, but mom would not allow me to go because it was Sunday. I really cried over that.

"Our house was made of huge sixteen-foot logs. We had no piped in water, but that did not discourage mom from having flowers. We kids carried water from the irrigation ditch across the street, always at sunset. That was our daily chore during the summer. Mother had lovely sweet peas and morning glories. How I loved the odor and have always thought of mother when I smell flowers."

I think of Grama when I smell flowers, but she cultivated more than just flowers. Her garden is blooming all over the place!

Adelila Hogensen, 1918

What legacy did your grandmother leave you?