Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pride....Goeth Before a Fall!

"In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes." -John Ruskin

Two "hot of the press" (2010) political books that I'm excited to read are "Game Change" and "The Politician".

"Game Change" covers the 2008 Presidential drama-drama-and-more-drama campaign! It basically explains how Hilary, Edwards, McCain, and Palin could all self destruct, assuring a win for Barack Obama.

"The Politician," by Andrew Young, the trusted John Edwards aide and erstwhile scapegoat from the Rielle Hunter affair (Young was supposed to claim the baby was his), gives us the juicy details behind Edwards fall from grace.

From the book reviews I've read, both books show the ugly underside & great HUBRIS to so many politicians! Gosh, we've been warned of exceeding pride all through the Bible to tragic Greek figures (Achilles or Oedipus); yet man continues to fall prey to it (well, woman too, think Hilary & Palin)! Why? How is it that we miss the mark on learning from the past (or others) when it comes to getting puffed up in pride?

The John Edwards scandal is so pitiful to me! Here is a man who seems like he was a pretty decent guy before the Kerry/Edwards ticket in 2004 went straight to his ego. Even though the Democratic ticket lost to Bush, an arrogance was born in Edwards that tragically became his undoing!

I guess most of us will never have the meteoric rise and undue adulation like John Edwards to know whether we'd be immune to the blunders and folly that sunk Edwards politically (and perhaps personally as well). But it is worth pondering why some people achieve fame, fortune, or power but stay grounded. Then others fall right off their moral compass and wham...they're suddenly above the law, morality, above us all!

I'd love to think that I would not be affected so pathetically by power as a lot of these sad stories. But we never really know. I guess we just have to do our darndest to make admirable choices along the way with hopes that Pavlovian/conditioned responses would continue regardless of positions of power (or not).

"We've seen the hubris. And now we're seeing the scandals." -David R. Gergen

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Footprints on the Sands of Time....

I already posted about Sister Walton's death two weeks ago. But I'm surprised how much I've thought about both Lee and Lois (fondly known as Grandma and Grandpa Walton to many of us in the Los Gatos Ward) since her funeral.

Their lives remind me of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's wonderful poem titled: A Psalm of Life. It's one of my all time favorites which I hope my kids will all memorize and recite for me! (Hint!) So, in dedication to both of the Waltons (...lives of great men who remind us...) enjoy the great classic poem! And, ...isn't their photo adorable too!

Tell me not in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow, Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating, Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us, Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing, With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.

Friday, January 29, 2010

So A Guy Walks Into a Bar....

I'm pretty selective about quotes (they have to be good/inspiring) but when it comes to jokes, the dumber the better! The cornier a joke, the more it makes me laugh!

The only jokes I'm not down with are off-color, mean spirited or vulgar ones. But lame jokes...those are the best & my specialty! For example: (I didn't write these but I bet you'll laugh at least one):

1. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you, but don't start anything."

2. Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.

3. A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

4. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A beer please, and one the road."

Kind of an unusual post for me but I realize that I need to incorporate humor into my blog! I'm not just a poem/quotes/scripture/ fanatic; I also love to laugh! Alot!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever....

"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, not the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I could have titled my post "The Parable of the Friend with a Strawberry!"

Once upon a time, when I was in high school, I'd had a lousy day at school, returned home and found no solace there. When I sounded down during a phone call to my friend, Kim, she wasted no time and within the hour she was at my doorstep with a hug & a basket of strawberries.

I'm pretty stoic by nature (well, until lately - maybe old age makes people cry babies) and I don't often "fall apart." But, with Kim's kind gesture, I kind of lost it (teary sobs and all!). It was only "a moment" but Kim coming to my rescue turned the memory from a crummy day into a memory of a faithful friend delivering big red strawberries!

In fact, I don't even remember what I was distraught about. And one of the best things about tender memories is that seeing any image of strawberries now becomes symbolic to me of a true friend! Often it's a simple and small thing we do for friends, but like Kim's action, it touched me in a big way!

Kim and I are both booking flights (out of Colorado and California) to join our buddies in Utah for a ski weekend next month. So almost forty years later and we're still friends! Lucky me!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Art of Eating Popovers!

In 1977, Ted Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss - and in our family circle as one of Mom's Heroes!) was awarded an honorary degree at Lake Forest College. The college president and trustees were unsure whether he would give any speech at all, so when Dr. Seuss shared the poem below it was a complete surprise!

And great advice to everyone! Who wouldn't love to say that Dr. Seuss was their commencement speaker... dispensing his pithy wisdom!

My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers

My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurant's bill of fare.
And, when they were served,
he regarded them...with a penetrating stare...

Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:

"To eat these things," said my uncle,
you must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what's solid... must spit out the air!" you partake of the world's bill of fare,
that's darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Writer in the Family? Whodathunkit!

"Screenwriting is like writing in the sand with the wind blowing." -Frances Marton

I claim to be a voracious reader, but I don't believe I have ever actually read a screenplay. Until now.

I'm happy to report that I've just completed the first 80 pages of a great script! Now I have to be patient as I anxiously await the project's completion; which, apparently, is still "in the works."

In the interest of full disclosure, this script was written by none other than my own (and only) son! Cool, huh! And, I'm quite impressed! It was clever, fun, well developed and well written!

I won't give away details; in fact I couldn't ruin the ending anyway since that part is yet to be developed! But if you like movies like The Incredibles and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs then you'll like Webb's screenplay! It's very creative! I'm not sure where Webb's creative gift came from - clearly it skipped my generation!

As a lazy oaf who would much rather "read" than "write" I have to give Webb a lot of credit! Writing is tough!

I love a quote about screenwriters by the talented actress Emma Thompson (who wrote the screenplay and also starred in Sense and Sensibility.) Thompson said: "Lindsay Doran (producer), James Schamus (co-producer), Ang Lee (director) and I had met previously this month to discuss the latest draft of the script, which is what we're all here to work through...Lindsay goes round the table and introduces everyone - - making it clear that I am present in the capacity of "writer" rather than actress, therefore no one has to be nice to me."

Monday, January 25, 2010

They Buried their Swords as a Testimony to God

One more indulgence in post Seminary class ponderings...

In Alma 23, we learn that when a group of Lamanites, who decide to call themselves the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, are converted they "never did fall away."

In class, we tried to analyze why the Anti-Nephi-Lehies never fell away and why others do fall away (after true conversion).

There probably isn't a simple answer (wouldn't that make it easy) but there are plenty of hints. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies are called "firm" and once they accept the gospel they became "a very industrious people" (hmm...too busy to get into trouble?)

But another impressive thing the Anti-Nephi-Lehies did was their decision to bury their swords deep in the earth. Alma 24: 17-18 reads: "..and they did bury them up deep in the earth. And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they would never use weapons again for the shedding of man's blood..."

Burying their swords was a symbolic gesture but their pact and commitment stuck. And while there is no single answer for why they never fell away spiritually I think this covenant along with their consistency (in firmness and in their industrious nature) were pretty big factors!

So, just for good measure, I brought plastic swords to Seminary so we could bury them outside; thinking about some trait we might want to bury deep in the earth! Good luck to future archaeologists trying to make sense of this "find" in the church parking lot!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"...and I will give away all my sins to know thee..."

Sometimes a Seminary lesson lingers in my thoughts for days after I teach. It's a little haunting (but in a good way). Clearly there's an important message trying to take hold!

I've had a broken record replay of one line King Lamoni's father said when he understood that Aaron was speaking truth. His exact words are: "and I will give away all my sins to know thee." ("thee" meaning God) (Alma 22:18)

That sentence is really profound! Because that is exactly what it takes to know God! Giving up all my sins! Not just the grave and horrific sins! All of them! Which would include (shudder, gasp) ...even my "favorite sins!"

"What am I willing to give up to know God?"

Favorite Sins are those things I justify (for a myriad of reasons) while deep down I know they are wrong! After all, they usually aren't SO terrible! At least not in my estimation! Or are they? Is hanging onto my favorite sins and the clever rationalizing perhaps the very thing that keeps me from progressing spiritually? From really knowing my Heavenly Father?

And I can cling onto my favorite sins with a very tight grip! I'll give you umpteen excuses why "they" are not-so-bad! I mean it's all relative, right?

But I think the recurring phrase in my head: "I will give away all my sins to know thee" might be taunting me with the ultimate realization that while I will always fall short, I need to try. Instead of explaining the "favorite sins" I need to concede that my justifications can be completely ridiculous!

For instance, I'm critical when people are judgmental; it totally bugs me! But, here's the rub (and the hard part to admit to): Aren't I being judgmental myself when I judge people who judge people? Hmmm....

President Howard W. Hunter sums things up well when he said in General Conference, April 1993: "Contrition is costly - it costs us our pride and our insensitivity, but it especially costs us our sins. For, as King Lamoni's father knew twenty centuries ago, this is the price of true hope. 'O, God,' he cried, 'wilt thou make thyself know unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee'. When we, too, are willing to give away all our sins to know him and follow him, we, too, will be filled with the joy of eternal life."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade!

I've loved the saying "When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade" since I heard it in a Mutual lesson as a teenager. I like the wisdom of trying to make the best out out of anything we are handed in life. The concept of sweetening a sour hand we might get dealt!

Well, yesterday I read about a Lemonade Stand with a sign that said "All proceeds go to Haiti."

Wow! Some impressive kids started up that enterprise! I'd buy gallons of lemonade from such an admirable Lemonade Stand!

It felt like a new twist to the old slogan. When life gives someone else lemons, make a lemonade stand! (and donate your proceeds!)

I love the ingenuity of youngsters! Here are some young entrepreneurs who figured out a way they could do something to help the suffering in Haiti.

And it's a widow's mite type of kindness!

They weren't just giving a percentage but all they had! I am touched and motivated by their action! It's a great reminder that we can make lemonade out of lemons AND we can also make lemonade (or find other ways) to ease the burdens of others!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Off-Road Rage!

The picture is not abstract modern art! It is a photograph of our bathtub filled with shattered glass!

It is A Cautionary Tale! Beware or this could happen to you!

This is the result of a forceful closure of the shower door by someone (who shall remain nameless) who had an extremely difficult day of teaching in her new job in a low income inner city school!

In other words, said individual should probably have been relaxing in our jacuzzi tub to unwind after an exhausting day at work! A quick shower clearly wasn't enough r&r! Apparently, the Special Ed Teacher position in this middle school is not for the faint of heart!

The whole shower mishap was quite unintentional but a humongous mess just the same! Who knew that an extra push could cause an entire glass door to implode like that?

Western fiction writer Louis L'Amour said that "Anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers, for each rage leave him less than he had before - it takes something from him."

Fortunately, the only fatality was the shower door which shattered into zillions of tiny pieces! Thank goodness it happened at the conclusion of the shower while exiting, otherwise the implosion might have killed our favorite Special Ed Teacher!

Ah, well, my grandmother always told me not to cry over broken glass! Or was that spilled milk?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paige: Meet Bruno the Trashman!

Bruno the Trashman was a Sanitary Engineer on Sesame Street who dutifully carried Oscar the Grouch around. His character is now retired but back in the day Bruno was the silent but strong type!

So, as Paige earns her college degree she is also gaining a side education on "How to Be a Good Roommate." Free of charge!

All things considered, Paige has some pretty good roommates. These girls decorated her door when she returned home from running her first marathon. Pretty thoughtful!

Another plus is they all love to cook! The fringe benefits to this are obvious. When I was in town one of them was rolling red velvet cake into balls and dipping the balls into melted chocolate. Whoa, serious! Although diehard cooks can also be a minus if they don't like to clean up afterwards.

But, for the most part, Paige is grateful and understands that she is fortunate. Roommate Horror Stories abound! Her issue is a minor detail, but a pet peeve nonetheless.

The problem: No one seems to take out the trash. Except Paige. Who is bothered by the fact that no one else does it.

Alas, it is a hard fact that Paige may hold this job title for the duration of her stay in the Avenues Condos. Because it is generally true that the person who wants any job done the most is usually the one who inherits the responsibility of the job.

And since overflowing garbage gets on Paige's nerves and apparently goes unnoticed with her roommates, she has 2 viable options (as I see it). Paige can empty the trash (dutifully like Bruno) OR she can attempt to become slovenly enough that she isn't repulsed by mounds of stinky, wet, slimy garbage piling up!

Knowing Paige's nature, I think she'll be more content to become Bruno for the Semester versus living in scummy surroundings. Just a guess!

It all takes me back to a Shel Silverstein poem, which I'll highlight parts of that verse below:
"Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout, Who would not take the garbage out!...
(insert piling garbage in between the lines, as in, I've shortened the poem)
...And though her Daddy would scream and shout, she would not take the garbage out!...
...At last the garbage was so high, that it finally touched the sky...
...And, there, in the garbage she did hate, Poor Sarah met an awful fate...
...So, children remember Sarah Stout, and always take the garbage out!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bounds of Creativity...

"You may think you don't have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us.

The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano.

Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before - colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter. What you create doesn't have to be perfect.

Don't let fear of failure discourage you. Don't let the voice of critics paralyze you - whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.

I believe that as you create beauty and as you are compassionate to others - God will encircle you in the arms of His love. Discouragement, inadequacy, and weariness will give way to a life of meaning, grace, and fulfillment." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Your House is Always..."

Remember the phrase Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch?

Well, it seems that we don't always know where a comment is headed. My new advice: don't jump the gun and assume the best! Just because the first half of a sentence looks promising; watch out! It isn't always what you think!

I could be today's poster child for the definition of presumptuous!

It's a little embarrassing to admit; but funny enough to repeat. So here is my example of a statement I thought was going to be a compliment coming my way. But what I expected isn't quite what came out.

We'd had company staying with us over the weekend and when I was upstairs fixing breakfast the college age daughter came in and said: "Your house is always..."

And right as her "Your-house-is-always" landed in my brain I jumped ahead (presumptuously) and expected she would say something like one of the following variations:
Your house is always... so clean!
Your house is always... so organized!
Your house is always... so fun!

Instead, imagine my surprise when she completed her sentence: "Your house is always....just the right temperature!"

Really? The Right Temperature? Are you serious?
Thank You?
Yes, we try to regulate our thermostat for perfection!

Well, I have never thought of my house as remotely just the right temperature! I'm usually freezing in my house! Go figure!

But it just goes to show you that different people notice different things I guess. And besides the dose of humility, (my own fault for second guessing) our weekend company was very fun (and very appreciative). And even though they were in town for a funeral we loved seeing good friends and enjoyed catching up! Especially while hanging out in our not-too-cold-not-too-warm-just-the-right-temperature home!

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Deye Mon Gen Mon"

In 2003, Tracy Kidder wrote about anthropologist Paul Farmer's efforts to improve the terrible conditions in Haiti. Kidder titled his book Mountains Beyond Mountains, a translation of the Haitian proverb Deye Mon Gen Mon.

The proverb holds several meanings for the Haitian people, usually referring to the endless obstacles, formidable and unrelenting, faced by a country beset with poverty, disease, and natural disasters. "Beyond the mountain, ...more mountains!"

The devastating earthquake that hit Haiti last week has been a horrendous tragedy for a country that was already in crisis! The media coverage is so sad, I couldn't bring myself to post one of the heartbreaking photos. The widespread destruction is impossible to comprehend. I couldn't help but remember Kidder's book in thinking about the insurmountable tasks ahead to help the people of Haiti. The needs are endless and all encompassing!

So many news stories are overwhelmingly sad but there are also amazing stories of loved ones found under rubble alive or ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the relief efforts. Small miracles amid the horrendous tragedy.

The scope and logistics of the needs are so great; it's gives such new meaning to the proverb Kidder used in his book seven years ago. The country lacks organization and infrastructure generally. The looting reports feels like desperate people doing desperate things. Clean water, food, shelter; things we take for granted are scarce commodities!

There is a quote from Saint Augustine that says: "What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like."

For the unrelenting mountains of issues that will face Haiti in the aftermath of this earthquake it is going to take the kind of love St. Augustine speaks about. Love that leads us to action.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy New Year! Hip! Hip!

Be It Therefore Resolved...
First I had to come up with my resolutions. Then I had to decide whether to actually post them (where my lovely children can hold me accountable). Knowing I'm more likely to keep, honor, and stick to my 2010 goals if they're in print, I'm divulging them in blog form!

So, keep me honest, ...give me *$%*@ if I stray off course! (I know Andie will be happy to oblige!)

The goals form an acronym. Old people need little tricks to remember their goals! The word of the day (and every day) is:
PEST! Actually it's PESTsquared, as follows...

I decided on 8 things that I want to make sure I do (in some form or another) Every Day!

P - Prayer! & Promptings!
Prayer: specifically for me this is a Morning Prayer goal. Since night prayer is more instinctual, I want to make morning prayer a better habit!
Promptings: listening for the promptings of the spirit and then following those promptings!

E - Exercise! & Example!
Exercise: In 2010 I want to make sure that every day includes some form of physical activity. If I don't run then I need to workout at the gym or do bikram yoga, etc. The only exception is Sunday!
Example: Proactively consider what kind of an example I am setting in the choices I make in my life. Reminding myself that we are examples whether it is a "good" or a "bad" example.

S - Scriptures! & Service!
Scriptures: Every. Single. Day. No. Exceptions! I'm on a pretty good scripture reading schedule with teaching Seminary but it still doesn't hurt to make it official.
Service: This is to ensure that I've done some act of service before each day is over. Sometimes it might be as simple as sending out a card but it could be watching kids for friends, taking a meal, driving help, etc. etc.

T - Testimony! & Take Stock!
Testimony: Considering daily whether my actions and my choices have built my testimony up or weakened it.
Take Stock: Like reading scriptures, I'm doing okay with "taking stock" but this will officially make it part of my daily "to do's." For me "taking stock" is just my way of....Organizing! Mapping out! Prioritizing! Thinking things out! Evaluating! Etc.! Fortunately, I kind of like Taking Stock!

So that's the daily checklist! With my "PEST" acronym to help me remember! And my kids to bug/PESTer me!

I know the picture is a goofy look, but I actually like the photo because I'm happy! And accomplishing my goals is gonna keep me that way!

"No matter how carefully you plan your goals they will never be more than pipe dreams unless you pursue them with gusto." - W. Clement Stone

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Grammy called gushing with effusive praise for the Thank You Notes from all three of her California Grandkids!

In typical Grammy style she was quite proud of those cards, noting how well written, how prompt, how thoughtful they were! In my typical smugness I thought I should send her a frame (but she'd probably use it!)

But, it was a proud moment! Although only for a moment! Because as I started to take a little credit....ah, haven't I trained them well?....I suddenly realized that yours truly has not sent out her Thank You Notes! Oops!

Which reminds me that sometimes it's a good thing our children follow our council rather than our example! So, I guess I am proud that they are one step ahead of me. And they certainly impressed Grammy (although Grammy can be "wowed" pretty easily - at least by her grandchildren... who can do no wrong!).

"A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do." -Lois Wyse

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Washer! New Dryer! (Same Old Wash Woman! Same Old Clothes!)

Woo Hoo! Men get excited about "Boy Toys" so I should be entitled to drool over household appliances!

A few appliances I'll show exceptional exuberance over: vacuums, irons, and yes, washers and dryers!

Just like Brent likes the very best surfboard, snowboard, GPS, etc.; I prefer state of the art (if it's within my price range) when it comes to my cleaning equipment!

If only I could get Consumer Reports to hire me on as a Tester! Something I think I could really excel in!

So, we are the proud owners of a new washer and dryer! Our old Maytag set was disappointing! Those Maytag Ads fooled me! I thought the Maytag Repairman sat around bored with nothing to do! Ha! We needed his service at 25 Alpine numerous times!

So in honor of Paige, who likes to name her things (George Peter Smith the GPS, Bella the Freelander, Fuji the iphone), I think my new combo set will go by the name of Samson (for the washer, since they're Samsung brand) and Drylilah (for the dryer, obviously)! Samson was known for performing heroic feats (who wouldn't want a washer like that!) and Delilah (yeah, I know about her treacherous and cunning behavior but she did get the job done).

Brent had all 3 kids congratulate me on our new purchase! This is almost as exciting as getting a new car! And, I'm off to test drive; take them for a spin (cycle)!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Sendak on Sendak!"

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco has a special exhibit titled "Sendak on Sendak." I grew up on Maurice Sendak books, then studied his writing in a Children's Literature course at the U! I'm a big fan!

Maurice Sendak is also coincidentally the very same age as my Dad and Mickey Mouse (born in 1928, all 3 turned 80 years old in 2008). When I learned about Maurice Sendak's deep insecurities despite his enormous success as an author and illustrator, I knew I liked this guy!

In fact, one of Sendak's favorite poets, which doesn't surprise me a bit, is Emily Dickinson. He found her reclusive nature quite inspired!

"What I learned from Dickinson," Sendak told an interviewer, "is, Don't open the door don't let them in!" And Sendak enacts his version of an imaginary domestic drama from the Dickinson home in Amherst: "Emily, Emily, you promised you'd come for a snow ride with us! What are you doing sulking upstairs?' 'Don't listen, don't care, don't let them in!' And she stayed upstairs. She didn't listen to them. She kept the world OUT."

With that little dialogue I can see why Sendak is considered the "best of the best" in the children's literary world! He understands people! Especially those who are haunted or flawed or fearful or insecure (I think that covers most all of us at times!) Maybe he relates to "neurosis" because of his own anxieties, which he readily admits to. Whatever the explanation, I find it quite likeable.

So, yes, Sendak is a classic curmudgeon, but his surly nature is pretty endearing! The exhibit in San Francisco was okay, a small collection though, and personally, I think Sendak deserved even better!

"It's really about the spirit and I find that hard to talk about, because you know, I'm a cynic. I don't know from the spirit, and yet I do. And that is a great puzzle of my life...Something deeper is involved; deeper in myself than I know what it is." -Maurice Sendak

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad.....Haircut!

I Do Not Like My Haircut - by Gregory K.

I do not like my haircut,
I'll never get another.
Or if I do, next time, for sure, it won't be from my brother.

For several years this stylist, Emily, cut my hair. I usually left happy (well, content anyway) with my hair but annoyed at how long she took! Emily checked and rechecked umpteen times. I either made her paranoid or she was just scrupulously, painstakingly exact!

But, as we all know, could always be worse!

And now it is! Because Emily moved away and my last couple of haircuts have been by this guy named Taka. And Taka cuts hair really quickly (record time!) but I haven't been that keen on the end result!

I can't win! In fairness to Taka, I'm sure I put unrealistic expectations on any stylist! I want to emerge from the chair looking like someone else altogether! So, I haven't given up on Taka because I do recall a learning curve with Emily. Once Emily figured out that I'm somewhat resistant to "big change" and especially "big hair" we kind of fell into a groove where I could sit down and she knew just what to do (albeit very sloooowly).

So, if I could "train" Taka I'd end up with a decent haircut in half the time it took Emily! A win-win! Which all sounds well and good but I don't think Taka thinks he needs any training, especially from me! He's kind of the classic ego, "I-know-just-what-you-need-you-poor-child" kind of stylist!

Fortunately, my hair grows pretty fast! Just not as fast as Taka can snip it off!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Grandma Walton & her Cinco de Mayo spirit!

Lois Walton passed away last Friday in Utah and her funeral will be here in Los Gatos this Saturday. When we first moved here 14 years ago, Lois and Lee Walton felt like the Grandparents of the Los Gatos Ward. It was their nature to make you feel like a part of their big family!

When I remember Grandma Walton one indelible memory will be of Lois, this cute elderly woman, swinging at a pinata! It's a great visual!

For some reason that I cannot recall, I incorporated a candy stuffed pinata into a message for a Relief Society Board meeting at our house several years ago.

The women at that meeting were mostly older and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get them to participate. I had a "What were you thinking?" panic moment when I first introduced my plan to take turns hitting this pinata in our yard.

Some of the women clearly thought I was a little odd, perhaps a bit off-kilter...this was not a kid's birthday after all! But Lois was ready to don the blindfold and swing the bat! Whew! Her participation gave my little game/object lesson enough credibility to get some others in on the fun.

It's just a tiny vignette in my mind's eye. In fact, the big oak we swung the pinata rope over has died and been replaced by a palm tree. There are so many "moments" within the context of a life and this was a ten minute activity but it left me with a mental image of a Lois Walton, bat in hand and bandana over her eyes, swinging at a pinata. And so her legacy lives on! Because, in the moment that Grandma Walton supported my silly game, she left a memory!

So, it's a small thing but whenever I see a pinata, I'll remember Lois Walton! Fondly!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Never Suppress A Generous Thought! -Camilla Kimball

I LOVE the story Bonnie Parkin (former Relief Society General President) shared at a BYU Devotional years ago. President Kimball lived in the ward of Sister Parkin's daughter-in-law's mother (Susan).

One Sunday, Susan noticed noticed that President Kimball had a new suit. Susan's father had recently returned from a trip to New York and had brought her some exquisite silk fabric. Susan thought the fabric would make a handsome tie to go with President Kimball's new suit. So on Monday she made the tie. She wrapped it in tissue paper and walked up the block to President Kimball's home.

On her way to the front door, Susan suddenly stopped and thought, "Who am I to make a tie for the Prophet? He probably has plenty of them." Deciding she had made a mistake, Susan turned to leave.

Just then Sister Kimball opened the front door and said, "Oh, Susan!"

Stumbling all over herself, Susan said, "I saw President Kimball in his new suit on Sunday. Dad just brought me some silk from New York. . . and so I make him a tie."

Before Susan could continue, Sister Kimball stopped her, took hold of her shoulders, and said: "Susan, never suppress a generous thought."

This is such a great story! I've had times where I've felt prompted to do something and when I do, I sometimes get a little embarrassed too and wonder...what I was thinking?! Was I being presumptuous? How cool that Sister Kimball reminded Susan (and then Sister Parkin uses the example to remind us all) that generous thoughts should be acted upon! We aren't supposed to suppress them - they come for a reason!

Epictetus was a Greek philosopher who lectured men about leading lives of greater dignity and happiness during the Roman Empire. There is a quote attributed to Epictetus that is very similar to Sister Kimball's. Epictetus said: "Follow through on all your generous impulses. Do not question them, especially if a friend needs you. Don't sit around speculating about the possible inconvenience, problems or dangers."

Sage Advice from 2 Great Sources! "Never Suppress a Generous Thought And/Or a Generous Impulse!"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Teaching supplies: $10 weekly, Donuts on Fridays: $12, Cost to Be An Early Morning Seminary Teacher: PRICELESS!

Anyone looking to be inspired by people who generously donate their time & talents should show up at one of our Seminary Inservice Saturdays! Some of the volunteer instructors have been teaching for over 15 years!

I taught Seminary 2 years in Boston (a zillion years ago) and I'm halfway through my 4th year in California but I would be considered small potatoes relative to some of these endurance teachers!

But, because I know what it entails, I am really amazed by these long term teachers! Twice a year, instructors from all over the Bay Area gather for enrichment classes and we met yesterday. All these men and women lead busy lives but volunteer their time to teach the youth. It's pretty admirable!

Like any church calling with teenagers; it's imperative that you love the youth! Otherwise it's hard not to feel insulted if they lay their head down in the middle of class to sleep! You quickly learn not to take their six in the morning behavior personally!

Besides loving the youth, you have to love the scriptures! You'll never convince the youth that scripture reading is worth their time if it isn't worth your time! Needless to say, my Seminary teaching years have made me a much better student of the scriptures! Initially it was necessary for learning the material well enough to teach it. But now, scripture study has become something I look forward to!

This write up isn't to sing my praises for teaching Seminary; I'm a relative rookie within the CES system! No, I'm just impressed by the tour de force of these long term teachers who return year after year! I left our inservice meeting yesterday inspired by their goodness! I, personally, have a long way to go before I feel like I'm teaching with much flair or finesse! But I've found some good role models in these perennial teachers!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

"Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative." - Oscar Wilde

I've sunk to a new low in blogging: weather chatter!

But, just for the record, I am a really big baby! I live in California and I whine about the cold! Really?

I can picture Paige, embracing that 10 degree Provo winter, rolling her eyes and shaking her head while reading this! Yes, Paige, your Mom is a wimp! When I give you that staying-warm-is-all-about-wearing-the-right-stuff lecture; I'm referring to you and your attire, not insinuating that I want to hunker down and dress to survive in that cold climate! Go Paige!

Sometimes I marvel that I grew up in Utah! Climate wise, that is! Grew up and actually thrived in Salt Lake City winters! It's the same how-did-I ever do-that-marvel as my wonderment at how I managed to teach early morning Seminary in Boston with 2 small children! Seriously, how?

The birds are gone, the world is white,
the winds are wild, they chill and bite;
the ground is thick with slush and sleet,
and I can barely feel my feet! - from The Four Seasons, by Jack Prelutsky

My feet get cold just reading that stanza!