"I mean EVERYONE is writing a blog these days, and everyone wants me to read their own blog. My family blogs, the ladies in our neighborhood/ward blog; it's quite crazy. And, they wonder why I don't read each one of theirs every day. Honestly, at first, it was novel, unique, and fun. But, now, with everyone blogging - whether it's a cooking blog, a family photo blog, a political blog - there's just not time to read them all.
"It's quite frustrating when they say, 'You didn't comment on my blog all last week...are you okay?'
"Well, I guess I'm not okay...I'm over-blogged.
"I have enough recipes to last into the eons of time, I've seen pictures of their adorable kids in every pose imaginable (and some not imaginable), I've read every political rant possible, and I'm exhausted from the blogs.
"So, I'm tuning it all out. My new resolution," she explained to me quite forcefully, "is to leave my computer off for an entire day! That'll show 'em!"
And, we had a hearty laugh!
I like to listen to them, read them in book form, or read them on the Kindle.
But, whatever form they are in, I love the power of words.
I remember one day, lots of years ago, I was pedaling the stationery bike while reading Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." I was so moved and went in to RAH in the other room, and said, "I can't quite believe the power of her words."
I so appreciate a good author, good story line, good writing, good characters...
Some books are poorly written, but tell a great story; other books have both a great story and are incredibly well written, like Jane Eyre or many Charles Dickens books.
While I appreciate and have read lots of fiction books over the years, I really enjoy non-fiction, particularly true stories about PEOPLE.
Here's a partial list of non-fiction books that I have really enjoyed over many years....(these are in no particular order, just as they came to mind)....
Ditch Digger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story
The Investigation: the truth Behind Howard Hughes, Melvin Dummar, and the Most Contested Will in America
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
Having Our Say: the Delany Sisters First 100 Years
Mao's Last Dancer
The Outliers: The Story of Success
Hard Work: My Life on and Off the Court
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio: How My Mother Raised Ten Kids on 25 Words or Less
A Girl Named Zippy
Betrayal: The Life and Times of Bernard Madoff
Have a Little Faith: A True Story
Love, Loss, and What I Wore
Coal Miner's Daughter
Exit the Rainmaker
John Glen - A Memoir
The Courage to be Rich
Millionaire Next Door
A Walk in the Woods
A Year in Provence
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
Some of these books have made me laugh, cry, shake my head in wonder/disbelief, restore my faith in humanity, lose my faith in humanity, but most of all be amazed at what good writers can achieve in telling a compelling story.
So, let me just say once again, I am thankful for BOOKS, LIBRARIES, the PRINTED WORD, and the power those words can evoke in me.
the stories disturbing,
but it was all too real.
The faces of poverty in the United States.
The men and women WANTED to work, they were not welfare cases from generations past; they were hard-working Americans living in a town where the mines, the construction, and the plants had all shut down. The stores along Main Street were shuttered, vacant.
The families lived in small trailers, or in their cars, or small houses with multiple family units living together.
The local food bank had seen a huge increase of people needing food in the last two years...the food pantry could barely hold on, yet they are the source of food for many in this small town in America. The lady behind this food bank was so inspiring and laudable.
Heart wrenching to be sure...the need is so great and the town's continual plea....where are the jobs promised by the administration?
But, did anyone notice, like I did, that many of the children and the adults were - obese, fat, overweight? Such a stark contrast; starving, yet big?
Comparison photos were shown of the long soup lines during the Depression, and yet, looking at those people from the 1930s, they were lean and skinny...
So, what is the difference? Skinny in the 30's; big now?
Could it be that the people in the soup lines from the 30s were actually served SOUP, while today's poor are fed macaroni and cheese or french fries or carbohydrates because they are CHEAP foods?
The dilemma here is that we are trying to solve the problem of poverty and hunger, but we create another huge health crises; obesity and diabetes.
No easy anwers.
A few days later, he volunteered to thin apricots at the church farm in Hurricane.
And, a few days after that, he volunteered to wash dishes at the cafeteria in the temple.
Lots of the people won't/can't/don't volunteer when the list comes around, but he usually signs up.
The cannery assignment was for four hours standing in an assembly line...no break, no water to drink, exceedingly noisy...it made him dizzy to watch as the endless line of apricots rolled by on the conveyor belt, but he stayed to the end of the shift.
He wasn't needed when he got to the church farm, so he and a friend explored some remote country roads....something he loves to do.
Doing dishes in the temple cafeteria for four hours was hot, sweaty, and a challenge to stand on his feet all that time.
But, isn't that really what is supposed to be about...helping - even when it's hard.
Now I've volunteered him for another gig...teaching in China!
Ah, maybe after this, we'll both say our volunteering days are over!
Sorry, Andy, however, here's something we can totally agree on; you have two beautiful daughters, whom I love very much!
They are thoughtful, kind, funny, interesting and inspiring. I love to be around; Shauna, Libby, Janice, Donna, Lois, Regina, Ava. I am very grateful for all of them.
But, I've always yearned for a sister.
And, the time I wish for it the most is when I am going through my parent's pictures, papers, stuff. Because I think a sister could more fully appreciate/enjoy/delight/feel sorrow - the items I discover from boxes recovered in their home.
I'm cleaning and organizing and tossing and filing. And, today I came across some items from my mother's high school years, and her early years living in Washington, DC. My mother was young and beautiful and so like young people today who are full of life and yearning for love. These letters/notes tugged at my heart strings, and I so wanted to share them with - a non-existent sister.
from a letter to her best friend...Feb 17, 1937
"I got me a grand black velvet evening wrap....I got my black and silver dress and slippers for the Gold and Green Ball in Baltimore so I was all fixed up...All in debt about thirty dollars. I had a little saved to get me a spring outfit, but I spent it all and went in debt. Woe is me. He (Roland Young) wants me to go to New York with him this Sunday--don't say anything---I don't know as I should go or not....The folks want me to come home and go to school next winter. Boy, I don't know what to do. I just love it here"(speaking of Washington, DC).
from a note attached to ticket stub of a city bus:
"Marc Felt gave this to me when I worked in the Senator's office for him. I had a hard time getting there and getting home. First time I rode a street car bus in Washington, DC. Marc is just darling. I wish he liked me!"
from a letter to her parents in Preston, Idaho:
"Dearest Folks, I'm homesick!! I've been gone for eight months oh, I want to see you all so bad!....and Merrill (the man who would become my father) won't call me. The last five times he's asked me to go out, I've had to turn him down on account of Roland or cause it would be too late, and I want to see him so bad. Mother, he's Grand! Oh, I could just cry, but no tears will come! I can't work. I don't want to eat, I can't study. In fact I can't get my mind on anything but Merrill. Gee, it's hell. I cried last night in bed cause I'm so blue & lonely! I thought he'd call last night, but he didn't...."
Mom, you were wonderful and beautiful and so very good. I love these little glimpses into your life so many years ago.
Love, your Only Daughter.
"Grandma, I'm in St. George...can I come over and hang out until Ethan gets off work? We're going on a date, and he works until after 8."
2. Watch as she comes in the front door, and her beauty, smile, fun, sunburn take your breath away!
3. Chatter awhile.
4. Go through a family photo album together.
5. Have her help you organize and put things away.
6. Sit in the heat out on the back patio while she tells all about college, orientation, her roommate, her newly purchased items, until Ethan arrives.
7. Smile as she goes through the front door, laughing with Ethan.
And, that is a perfect Friday evening...now, I just need our other grandchildren to live closer so we can do this with them!
BUT, this article in my old home-town newspaper really caught my eye....
She poured KETCHUP, MAYO, MAPLE SYRUP down the book drop?!?!?!??!?!?!??!?
Okay, so what is her beef with libraries? There's gotta be something going on here.......
Some stories are just too weird!
but, beauty, youth, and careers fade....
so, when her British husband left her, and her five children became alienated from her,
a friend suggested she move from England back to her native America.
She did so, living briefly in San Diego, Kaysville, then to the Idaho town where I met her when she moved in our neighborhood.
She lived on a very limited income in government subsidized housing. Her income fluctuated according to the dollar/pound ratio, and she counted her pennies, living very frugally.
She loved to read....but certainly couldn't afford to buy books on her limited income.
TA DA! Enter the local library....
Every two or three weeks, I would pick her up, and we headed to the library, where they had an unlimited supply of her favorite Barbara Cartland romance novels. I would help her find ones she hadn't read before or perhaps ones she wished to read again. She might also venture to read a book by another author, as long as she had several Barbara Cartland to fall back on in case she didn't like the other authors. And, the library had plenty of books to keep her well supplied.
Sometimes we would head to the Deseret Book snack shop to get a piece of her favorite bumbleberry pie.
She'd tell me stories from her growing-up years and I marveled at the remarkable stories she told.
Then, I'd drop her off at the side door of her complex, with a promise to see her in two weeks.
She would be so appreciative, knowing she had a boatlaod of books to read over the next few days....realizing she could never afford to buy all the books she loved to read.
And, so, I'm very grateful for the concept of libraries; providing books for all of us who love to read, but who certainly could never afford to buy all those many many books.
I just finished reading "Mao's Last Dancer."
"At the age of eleven, Li Cunxin was one of the privileged few selected to serve in Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution by studying at the Beijing Dance Academy. Having known bitter poverty in his rural China home, ballet would be his family’s best chance for a better future. From one hardship to another, Cunxin demonstrated perseverance and an appetite for success that led him to be chosen as one of the first two people to leave Mao’s China and go to America to dance on a special cultural exchange."
This was a phenomenal book, and I was amazed at his work ethic, even as a young child living away from his family. He was DRIVEN!
Additionally, I am listening to "Hard Work: Life On and Off the Court."
"Roy Williams is arguably the most successful active NCAA major-college basketball coach. A few more NCAA championships with North Carolina— he has two—and he inserts himself into the greatest-all-time discussion. His life story is a genuine rags-to-riches saga. Born poor in rural North Carolina and raised by a single mom, he was extraordinarily driven and self-sufficient as a child and young man. He received a basketball scholarship to North Carolina but was in over his head as a player."
This is an inspiring story about a boy with an alcoholic father - who eventually leaves the family; a saintly, hard-working mother; he certainly had no encouragement to go to college, but he is driven to want to coach and succeed.
I heard she got married to a man whose wife had died, leaving several young children. They had a child of their own....and as, is so often the case.....I lost total contact with or about her.
One day, many many years later, my grandson - who had just moved to Hurricane, Utah, mentioned his Sunday School teacher's name, and I thought, "There is just, "NO WAY!"
But, it was true....my teacher as a Southern Idaho teen was now my grandson's teacher as a Southern Utah teen.
And, yes, it's true...he liked her as much as I had all those years before....
Thanks, Marba Cottle Pearson Thompson for sharing your love with my grandson and with me and with countless others in between!
Stadium of Fire in Provo, Utah...billed as one of the biggest fireworks events in the country..this year it featured Carried Underwood, the Five Browns, Jenny Oaks Baker, over 200 scouts receiving their Eagle awards. It was a spectacular show...moving along without a hitch....it was well-rehearsed, choreographed, scripted, and amazing.
Hurricane City Celebration.....a small town gathering of local talent including our granddaughter playing with her grandfather and brother, the Spendlove family singing group, the Stout family band, poetry, patriotic songs, and a rousing medley of songs at the end to honor the armed forces.
Here's what is just so awesome.
They were both fantastic...one an extravaganza with over 50,000 in attendance at the football stadium, the other a gathering of about 300 patriotic people in a small town school auditorium.
And, yet, the FEELING in both was the same....love of America!
The Goal; help Justin set up his incredible/inspiring 30 Strangers Exhibit. An exhibit which was designed to explore the beautiful relationship between mothers/daughters/grandmothers....
attend some family gatherings....
what great weekend plans.
Friday... getting ready and then the exhibit.
Saturday....family gatherings, including a baptism for Jackson Merrill Lewis, a family dinner, and then the incredible Stadium of Fire fireworks.
It was - indeed - a weekend to remember what is really important in our lives:
Thanks, Allen, Jenni, Justin and Amy, my brothers; their families....I'll treasure these memories for a very long time.
The conversation starts out by discussing; kids, jobs, church, recipes, favorite books and tv shows, family relationships, friends. Then, if it gets later, and no woman has left yet, the gloves come off and the conversation turns to......drum roll please....SPOUSES.
Recently, women had this to say:
"When we were dating, he would get pretty moody. I can still remember thinking that once we got married, I would MAKE him so happy that he'd never be moody. As a happy person, I didn't understand such mood swings. But, I was wrong...he still gets moody. It's tough."
"I would NEVER marry a man who has issues with his father/family. Too much baggage and who can afford counseling?"
"My husband is a tight-wad....I mean, like spending money is ALWAYS an issue. Even if I save, and the money is in the budget, he gets upset when I spend money. Recently, after 30 years of marriage, I asked him when he thought we would have enough money that I could spend money on our kids and not have him get upset....his answer...NEVER! It's hard to have money be such a constant issue."
"It's pretty ironic...the thing that attracted me to him in the first place has become the thing that drives me crazy about him now! Not good!"
Later that evening, I thought of Jean...a widow of five years. I was thinking how much she misses her husband. In all our conversations, she has never mentioned his faults, and only seems to remember his good qualities.
Is that what it takes to remember the good....DEATH?