• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Monday, September 27, 2010


I hate pears -

Well - no - that is so untrue -

They are delicious and I love them -

sort of ...

I never can be definitive on things like this.
Things like what is my favorite __________?

GOOD GRIEF! Do people really have favorites?

Doesn't that get a little boring? I love blue but please don't inflict it on me everywhere! And which blue? Except when I love red, pink - no yellow - wait - what about green,  but my bedroom is periwinkle - and orange is an age in and of itself ...

Pears are like that.

Each pear is its own category.  I prefer Bartletts, ripened just so, not grainy (uggh the skins!) but so good to eat in hand - except that stringy part near the core - and dried they are heavenly.

Canning them is the same.

 They must be peeled smoothly

(  This year my son's wife, Casey, was here to help out -she's fast! )

- and cored,

firm and white.

We like a light syrup - only 1 cup of sugar to about 4 of water - and yes always a hot syrup to start them off with.

It's such a process.

Just call me picky.

My husband knows

- he helps every time.

(he's fast and strong)

And since Casey was here, and she hasn't participated in canning before,

we demonstrate a jar of grapes and a jar of tomatoes.

But that's not the pears fault!

And you do have to admit they always look so satisfying all washed clean and lined up on the shelves.

I think I'm in love ...

Saturday, September 25, 2010




A Prophet will speak today - specifically to women. 

I will hear and see the speakers using live video and audio on 

Any woman anywhere in the world may listen today - AND may see, hear or watch the counsel especially for women living in 2010. Anybody. Anywhere.  Via internet anytime - at our convenience.

I am excited! 
Can you tell? What will be said? 
What counsel and direction will I get? or you?

I don't think it will be a rerun of Noah telling me to get on an ark.

I also don't think angels will take me out of my city like Lot's wife.

I don't think so.

BUT is the counsel from a prophet in 2010 any less important?

Will it be as difficult as the prophecies Mary heard?
Or as joyous?

I don't know. 

Will I listen? Will I hear? 

Will you?

It's a little choice - or is it?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

3 OR 1300

originally posted Monday but unable to be edited

I read a book this weekend.

I don't know if I like it or not.

Did I tell you it's title or author - don't hold your breath! It is the story of a young Chinese bondmaid that loves the rich Jewish boy she is purchased to serve - I think ...

To me it is really a story about choices.

The central message I got from the book was that little things matter.

I made the choice to read the book. I also make the choice to not recommend it lightly. I was faced with a constant nagging unease - the beliefs of the characters were in conflict and so were mine: personally much of the book seemed like blasphemy - or was it? perhaps it was only a skilled author inflicting my conscience with choices like the characters faced.

We each face seemingly innocuous choices every day, simple harmless decisions: should I wear a red t-shirt or a yellow one? brown shoes or black boots? drive the truck or the car? play with the kids or shop for their shoes? call now or later? come or go? keep silent or speak?

Some choices we know are hinge pins to the gates of direction in living. Gordon B. Hinckley speaking about this very thing taught, "Most of these decisions seem small at the time we make them, but their eventual outcome can be almost overwhelming.

 In the book the maid must choose her master's clothing.  She knows a certain blue may remind him of his rabbi and synoguoge and his people; she deliberately lays out the red clothing for him to wear as he disobeys (not seriously yet) some of the laws his mother has taught him.

While Gordon B. Hinckley was working in the head office of a railroad company a passenger train arrived at its destination without the baggage car. A thoughtless switchman had moved a piece of steel just three or four inches. That piece of steel was a switch point, and ... the car that should have been in Newark, New Jersey, was in New Orleans, Louisiana - thirteen hundred miles away. It had gone south instead of east. September 1985

Hinge pin choices faced every character in the book I read.  The mother prided herself on living a strict Jewish life but adds elaborate Chinese embellishments to her clothing that also is made of Chinese textiles. So what? Is she a 'good' Jew? Can she be a good Jew and do that? - or not? Eventually it does not seem matter because the Jews intermarry with the people they live among, and disappear as a separate people, culture and community - or did it? Perhaps it mattered very much to very many.

Her kind husband, a mostly happy and easy going, wealthy merchant poses a poignant statement to a questioning listener, "Perhaps I am unhappy sometimes because I know I am not a good Jew, ..."

I found the statement riveting.

Perhaps I am unhappy sometimes because I am not a 'good' _______ - what?

We may substitute any descriptor of religion, status, race, nationality, community or family for his word 'Jew'. Fill in the blank for yourself; wife, husband, son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, nephew, neice, aunt,uncle, grandmother, grandfather, Canadian, American, Australian, Catholic, Mormon, mayor, teacher, clerk, carpenter, student, friend - what would your adjective be? Each one of us might put a different word in that place to berate ourselves about decisions or choices that hindsight reveals might have had better options.

I am deep in thought today.  I could not sleep last night. I finished the book and read it again. I did not like it any better.  Like the Jews of the book I believe in one true living God, my Father in Heaven.  I also believe Jesus Christ, Jehovah, is God's son. I believe He lives. I believe Jews ARE God's chosen people. Like the Jews, I believe God speaks to Prophets and that they guide us.

I still do not recommend the book I read even though it was extremely thought provoking.

I do recommend the words of living apostles and prophets on earth now, today. On the 2nd and 3rd of October 2010 they will counsel anyone that wishes to hear: anyone, anywhere in the world.

Thomas S. Monson said in 2001 and again in 2008, "Whether speaking of your generation of mine, there are some constancies amid the changes of the times. The past is behind - we must learn from it. The future is ahead - we must prepare for it. The  present is now - we must live in it.
Years ago, I discovered a thought which is true. It is this: The gate of history swings on small hinges, and so do people's lives. I [chose] to discuss three gates which you alone can open. You must pass through each gate if you are to be successful in your journey through mortality ..."

He then asks us to open 'The Gate of Preparation' with genuine effort and avoidance of fear, 'The Gate of Performance' with responsibility and accountability that is not for the intention but for the deed, and lastly 'The Gate of Service' by looking to the example of Jesus Christ and considering what He would have each of us do.

These are all choices; my personal choices and yours.  Listen or not, act or not, be kind or not - and then accept the consequences - the blessings or lack of them.

"Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression," taught President Gordon B. Hinckley, and we should use that freedom "... to move forward the work of the Lord, to strengthen His kingdom on the earth, to teach and build testimony..."

Without blame to myself and/or others can I make better choices today than yesterday, tomorrow than today?

I witness a great and exciting truth: God speaks to prophets now, today! I can be guided by prophets just as the biblical Children of Israel could follow Moses from Egypt, or not; and the people prior to the flood could listen to Noah and board the ark, or mock and not. I can tune my internet to and listen carefully - or not.

I can choose ...

It is a little thing - or is it?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Once There Was a Baby

How did your mother spend her day?

Did she have a job or do volunteer work outside the home?

Journal answer 4 March 2001

I really don’t know how mom spent her day but I can surmise from things I do know. 

On the right is a picture of her mother holding her as a young child.

Our family always had everything we really needed. I attribute that to her frugality and diligent hard work and innovative efforts.

Mom with unknown child 

I remember arriving home after school on very few occasions that she was not there. She might go to Lethbridge, one hour away by car, [usually caught a ride with a neighbor, Betty Stewart, Orva Smith, Necia Bennett, or maybe Delaine Lowry] to do shopping or just for the trip out of town.

Finding her not at home was as rare as finding there wasn’t any bread in the large bread drawer (that accommodated 10 loaves with room to spare). The bread in the drawer was always a Piranha feeding frenzy after school. We often saw bread in process as we came in from school and if it were just out of the oven –  too soft and hot to cut – we would just tear a loaf into pieces to eat with dripping butter (actually margarine) and/or honey or jam. Mother baked 10 loaves of bread 3 or 4 times a week. (One of the few treats we had on a regular basis were the cinnamon rolls she made from any dough left over from making the loaves of bread.)

Most often she was about some task: laundry, sewing, gardening, or other home-animal-and-farm care. She spent a lot of time taking care of the outdoors and indoors while dad was gone: wood and coal for the furnace, feeding animals, milking cows and separating off the cream, hauling water to drink and bathe before we had running water, and any other yard or garden chores that needed attention. Our garden was about ½ acre – I realize now that our diet consisted mostly of the vegetables raised in that plot and meat from the farm and hunting.

All else aside there were 10 of us kids and she spent much time keeping us all spotlessly clean and bathed, neatly dressed, and fed - I never remember ever being hungry; there were few treats but never were we hungry. In the mid 60’s mom and dad invited a student from the Indian Placement Program to live in our home for more than 10+ years. I heard her tell dad, “What difference does one more make?” 

One more meant one more around the 8'x 4' table adding up to 13, one more sandwich each morning on the lunch assembly line, AND one more helper: mom kept us as busy, and happily involved in all aspects of working and playing, as children can be.

I was so oblivious that I probably wouldn’t know she worked so hard if we hadn’t missed all she did when she was not home. Sometimes she would be visiting teaching or taking care of someone that needed help. Some days we knew to get off the bus where she was at – other days she would just wave the bus to a stop as it passed a house along the bus route where she happened to be and give some instructions to us and/or take the younger children with her.

In addition to all other things she served in many church organizations and callings. 

One of the adventures that was looked forward to each year was berry picking.  Everybody big and little, old and young went berry picking. We were always allowed to eat as many berries as we wished as long as we had a bucket and picked into it to contribute to the gallons of berries to be preserved for the winter months – except that they seemed to disappear VERY early in the winter - we loved to eat berries.  

Mother also took care of aging relatives. Some of my funnier memories are of grandparents living with us as their bodies and minds became feeble.  She was always so kind; to them and to us. We seldom went to a doctor - Mother took care of us – especially when one or more of us were ill.  It was amazing how she could discern the difference between fake and real illness.

My mother will celebrate her 80th birthday Thursday.  

I honor the noble, hard working, gentle, upright example you provided to me every day of my life, mom. I pay tribute to your 80 years - 80 years of struggles and striving, 80 years of infinite faith, 80 years of living and loving.


August 2010 birthday trip

Monday, September 6, 2010


The first Sunday of most months is 'Fast Sunday' - the day, once a month, when LDS people go without food for 24 hours, may publicly express their feelings in church about anything that seems to be on their mind, and donate the approximate cost of the missed meals to help the needy.  (The public expression has guidelines but mostly I have to be creative to squeeze what is said into the prescribed parameters. It can be good mental exercise to figure out how or why what is said could be one of the things suggested; the first and foremost being that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of this world.

Yesterday was 'Fast Sunday'! Although the combination of fasting and long meetings tends to make for a seemingly endless day that was not the case yesterday - I was lost in thought and it seemed suddenly gone.

I hate church - not really, you know, it is just very difficult for me to sit still for so long – and you have to sit still with ALL those other people that are sitting still too. ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz

(I especially hate Stake Conference. I have learned to take note paper to help direct, contain and channel my thoughts.)

Yesterday Elder Smalls [of course he is almost the biggest man in the room] shared his testimony. He said [and I paraphrase], “I love going into your homes. There is such a feeling of the spirit in your homes.”

Have you ever grabbed a load of laundry from the couch or stack of bills from an end table and chucked them into your bedroom or a closet when the doorbell rings? I had that furtive kind of feeling as he said that.  I often wonder how the spirit can be in my home when we are so imperfect. Wow, I thought, I wonder what I need to do so when he comes over to our house he will feel that way?  I wanted what he said to be true.

Elder Smalls continued, “And I am so grateful to all those that team teach with the missionaries. You share such great testimonies and are worthy men of God.”  As my husband sat a little taller, I looked around the chapel noticing that  Elder Smalls had the attention of most of the members and suddenly I remembered my favorite church meeting  - ever.

President Dennis Bullock stood in front of the conference of the Lethbridge Stake in the mid 1980’s and thanked the people; he thanked them for attending church, for paying tithing, for going Home/Visiting Teaching, for accepting callings, for having family home evenings, for doing genealogy, for faithful temple attendance, for … about a million more things like daily scripture study or personal and family prayer that Latter Day Saint people routinely do.  He kept saying, “If you do this you are [faithful, obedient etc ]” and outlined many of the blessings of doing each thing he talked about. 

I loved church that day.  Ironically many that usually like church did not.

I learned an important principle.

Gratitude validates what I am doing and encourages me to do more of what I should be doing – sometimes. Even when I am not doing it at all I may envision that I fit the category and what it would be like to belong to the category. My heart is turned to obedience.  I desire to choose to do better. (Just because sometimes I harden my heart and refuse to accept those impulses doesn’t mean I didn’t have them).

Gratitude brings us nearer to God. 

A Primary song crept through my conscious mind -

All over the world at the end of day
Heavenly Father’s children kneel down to pray
Each saying thank you in his own special way
Saying thank you, thank you in his own special way
 Children’s Songbook

What am I grateful for?
What am I so thankful for that I fall to my knees to thank God that I am so blessed?

Do I ever tell you thank you? Can I do so too often?

Gratitude is essential to my happiness and yours. I pledge to look for all the things I can thank you for AND I pledge to thank you more often.  I especially pledge to thank God for all I have and am and can be. My mind reels at all I have to be grateful for.

With the psalmist I shout, I clap my hands together and sing, ‘Great is the Lord, Praise ye him!’

Friday, September 3, 2010

Missing Daddy

Cynthia, age 2 1/2, really really missed her daddy while he was gone far away for a couple of months.  She talked with him on the phone - face to face of course - every day at bed time. Even so she did not really understand what was happening or why.

(And one of our more amusing activities is now seeing her peer into non video phone displays trying to see the person talking with us or her - if daddy can be seen why not everyone?)

Today when Papa-pa prepared to leave for work she ran to the door ahead of him, said, "NO", very emphatically and then, "lock".  She then stretched up and locked the deadbolt to try to keep him in the house. (FYI - He made it to work on time).

Do you think that would work for me on the days I wish he could stay home?

Daddy had to go run some errands and Cynthia had to stay at home.  The ensuing tantrum was not pretty!

Funny - yes!  Really nasty - yes - mostly because she could stop the screaming shrieks instantaneously when she randomly felt like it.  At first I was almost feeling sorry for the poor child as she banged at the window and fell down in the throes of sorrow onto the bed.  Then, like pushing pause on the CD player, she stopped and when the item of interest passed, again started - at the same volume and intensity as if no interruption had occurred.

Thanks for the perspective Cyndi!  and yes I admit to laughing out loud when you did that.

I wonder what my Father in Heaven thinks when I throw myself down on the bed, and allow myself to wallow in self pity!

I am sure he wishes to comfort me at least as much as I wanted to comfort her.  She refused to let anyone, even her mother, touch her.  Even though Daddy and Mommy both said over and over that he was coming back she just didn't understand.

There is so much I don't understand! Can I just trust that it will be alright eventually? Not that I don't ... I just - what? just want my own way?

Perhaps she thought if she screamed loudly enough for long enough he would hear and return or we might take her to him - she usually gets what she reasonably can have just by asking for it - and most of the time she does not throw tantrums.

As I think about this I know that I usually get most of what I want too - at times even BEFORE I ask for it! I think I also get what I really need too.

When she finally wore down her fits to a few sporadic whimpers and began wandering around the house, she discovered her daddy's shoes by the front door.
"DADDY'S", she asserted.

"Yes, daddy's shoes," I reassured her, "he is coming back today,"I said again. "Daddy is coming home later".

Soon all was quiet - too quiet - the nerve racking dangerous quiet a 2 year old should not engage in.  The kind of quiet that parents and grandparents know to investigate - quickly!

I found Cynthia under the piano bench, near the front door, using one shoe as a pillow and the other tucked securely under her arm.

Poor little girl.  Now she alternates between hugging the shoes,

 wearing them,

 carrying them around with her and throwing them at things.

Temper - TEMPER!

 In-between-times we play as usual but then she remembers how hard done by she feels and seems to think having fun is not OK somehow.

And yes I AM still wondering just how old I am.

How like her I am at times!

I know Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers - even when I don't say them sometimes.  He knows my needs and tries to help me.  So why am I trading happiness and joy for shoes and a binky in a dark corner like under the piano bench?

Does that really get me any closer to Daddy?

That is what we all long for - we want so much to be with him;
even when we don't understand,
even when we lose hope of seeing him again,
even when we are naughty,
even when we don't remember him anymore.

He remembers us. He loves us.  He wants to help us and comfort us. He has even provided us with instructions and everything we truly need to find joy IF we obey. He has a plan. Most of us are surrounded by family and friends just waiting to be with us and help us and love us -IF we will let them.

Perhaps he misses me too.