Monday, May 31, 2010

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer...

"When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts, the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the learned astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
Into the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars."
-Walt Whitman

One of my favorite Walt Whitman poems! Everyone who has a short attention span (particularly in the classroom) should read this poem!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happiness is a warm puppy! -Charles Shultz

"A puppy is but a dog, plus high spirits, and minus common sense." -Agnes Repplier

These are 2 of the more adorable houseguests we've had come to visit and the poor things were relegated to the Garage!

Ernie (tan pup on the right) belongs to Webb and Bodie (black pup on the left) belongs to Anna. I guess their "Brangelina" name would be "Bernie."

Ernie and Bernie are 8 week old Beagles. And they are really cute! Spoken (written) by a person who is not-so-crazy-about-dogs-altogether (which makes the statement quite a compliment)! And I say that "ernie"estly (earnestly - get it?).

Puppies are just like babies; cute enough that when they wreak havoc you still forgive the little monsters! They are also like babies because the best time to hold them is when they are tired. Until they get lethargic, they have no interest in cuddling.

I have to say that the very best thing about your son getting a dog is knowing how much he is going to learn! Some of it will be sheer joy and others times....not so much! Webb was pretty convinced that Torrey and Kona were both "a piece of cake" in terms of time and effort. But dogs seem pretty low maintenance to youth who don't bear the brunt of care taking.

So, it will be interesting to see if Webb's perspective shifts on the relative ease of owning pets! That said, Ernie and Bodie look like they'll be worth the effort! As I noted: they are really cute!

In tribute to Bodie & Ernie, one of my favorite quotes from John Grogan's book, Marley and Me:
"A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things - a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Built to Last?

So, the picture is a clever IKEA Ad for shelving. But the post is just a rant: my frustration over the "shelf life" of technology products!

There is a new warp speed in which our "gadgets" age! Apparently techie stuff is on the same trajectory as dogs. Remember how you multiply a dog's years by 7 to get his age relative to our aging process. So, if your laptop is only 3 years old the service center will treat you as if your laptop is a 21 year old dinosaur.

One Hewlett Packard slogan is "HP Invents." I just wish they would invent products with greater endurance! It seems like HP is more concerned with getting cool products out the door than worrying about how long they last!

After my experience attempting to fix our HP Photosmart 375 Printer last weekend, I have a new slogan or tagline for HP: "HP Upgrades!"

After laborious troubleshooting via the manual I tried calling HP. After my call for help turned out to be a thinly veiled pitch to upgrade the 4 year old printer, I tried their online chat with a live technician who more forcefully encouraged an upgrade. Bottom line, no one at HP wanted to help me fix my aging printer, they just wanted me to buy another one.

Any future technological purchases I make will be under the assumption that most of these products have the same longevity as a hamster. Which is approximately 2 years!

Friday, May 28, 2010

It Could Always Be Worse?

When you hear "it could always be worse," people usually mean things aren't as bad they potentially could be. In regard to the BP Oil Spill over a month ago, it turns out that IT IS MUCH WORSE than preliminary reports. And escalates by the day!

It's a disaster of epic proportions! Only unlike Katrina, this was not a natural disaster. This was caused by man, although with all the finger pointing it's hard to figure out exactly who to hold responsible!

It does seem that BP should not be deep water offshore drilling if they don't have a plan to deal with problems of this magnitude. Oil rigs have been collapsing, leaking, and catching fire for years so clearly our government needs tougher regulations. Big business gets away with too much.

But is unreasonable to criticize Obama for the spectacular mess! He's not Superman (apparently too many thought he was). The spill happened because the oil industry is not tightly regulated which goes back before the Obama presidency. It also happened because WE all consume this oil!

The ecology of the Gulf may never be restored. The tragedy will effect the livelihood of thousands of people and for many years down the road. It really is a catastrophe! Hopefully there will be strict restrictions placed on deep water off shore drilling in the future.

But while we all anxiously await hearing if BP's Top Kill attempt is working, we might also want to be considering ways that we can conserve and become less dependent on oil generally! I guess I really should trade in my Volvo for a hybrid!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Empty Room!

Spiritual discussions relating to death often involve "the empty tomb" but this post is about "the empty room."

There's an image I keep revisiting. It makes me sad but it's also thought provoking.

There was a viewing taking place the other night when we went to the funeral home to dress Sally. The chapel room held the open casket. In the entryway was a table with a collection of hats: a Stetson, a painter's cap, a beret, etc. An easel display held a large portrait of a cowboy, maybe in his 60's. Picture Santa Claus wearing boots, spurs, and rodeo attire!

The only thing missing was people. No one was viewing or visiting; just 2 employees of the funeral home standing in the entry. We dressed Sally and left the funeral home and the room was still empty. Dead quiet (couldn't resist throwing that in).

I felt sad for this deceased man and wondered why he was so alone in death. I thought of the Maya Angelou poem, Alone, with the refrain: "Alone, all alone. Nobody, but nobody, Can make it out here alone." How could it be that this cowboy seemed to be exiting this world alone?

The last viewing I went to in the same funeral home was for Lois Walton and the place was packed (and lively) . Grandchildren and Los Gatos Ward members spilled out of the chapel and filled every space in the entry. We lingered beyond the viewing hours sharing happy memories. Lois left a rich legacy of relationships and throngs of people who loved her.

I thought everyone had their community, whether it is their family, church members, friends from work or various interests. So, where was the community for this man? It made me sad to think this cowboy might have missed this precious part of life. Missed the joy of relationships. Or, that his community hadn't shown up to support him.

Of course, I jumped to all kinds of conclusions and don't know anything about his situation so I could be completely off base. In fact, I hope I am mistaken because I agree with Maya Angelou and would just edit a couple of her words: "Nobody, but nobody, should have to exit here alone."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Rock in My Shoe!

"Delay is the deadliest form of denial." -C. Northcote Parkinson

What kind of idiot keeps running when there is a rock in her shoe? Probably the same runner who won't stop to tie her shoelaces when they come undone.

If I get a small pebble lodged in my shoe, it can be terribly annoying but I usually keep trudging along. Not because I'm in a race. Not because I'm all that fast to begin with.

I probably kept going because I don't like to deal with things! I'm afraid my nature is inclined to ignore things. And, sometimes they actually do go away! All own their own! Some shoe rocks eventually work their way to my arch and wah-lah, I'm pain free once again. Temporarily at least.

With untied shoelaces, they just keep flapping. Again, a bother, just not irksome enough to break my stride (albeit a slow one).

Common sense tells me that it would behoove me to stop and fix the problem. Tie those laces! Get rid of the rock! I guess it's just a small example of how I sometimes undermine my own common sense!

At least it appears that I am in good company. Gwyneth Paltrow said: "I have a highly developed sense of denial." And the Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist, Bill Watterson claims that: "It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept." I'll ditto those comments!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Traveling Box...

"A time to be born, and a time to die." -Ecclesiastes

When Terry Tempest Williams spoke at her brother Steve's funeral she called his coffin "Steve's traveling box." I like ring of a "traveling box" more than the word "coffin" but I'm afraid it's a bit of an oxymoron.

Last night I met some other women at the mortuary in Los Gatos to dress a deceased woman who used to be in our ward. The first time I was asked to assist in dressing the dead for burial was in Seattle when I served as RS president. I was fear struck at the thought but mustered up enough courage to give it my best shot.

I was amazed that first time how something that sounded creepy turned out to be a really sweet and tender experience. Since then I've probably helped a half dozen times. Each time I've felt a strong sense of the divine nature of our bodies and the reality of a spirit that lives beyond the grave.

When I dressed Vanda Romney with her two daughter in-laws, Susan and Wendy, there was a such a feeling of love and adoration for a beloved woman of God. Sister Romney was a class act! But when Carol Maynes son, Jason, died at two weeks old, it was heartbreaking to dress Jason and place his 6 pound body in a miniature casket.

When Kathy Pulley and I dressed Roberta Vitale we almost dropped her on the ground! Accidentally, of course! The mortician was kind of a ogre (apology to Shrek) and wasn't being very helpful! And, they had not dealt correctly with her head wound (cause of death) and I ended up getting blood on my hands. Which is probably more information than you wanted! Perhaps this whole post is TMI!

Anyway, the lady we dressed last night was elderly (74 but seemed older) and not someone we knew closely which makes the experience easier in some ways. Although this situation was complicated by the fact that she was extra large in size. That term "dead weight" was coined appropriately.

I've always been astonished at the Miracle of Birth in any form. Babies or animals, it is quite amazing to witness life begin, that first breath! Nothing quite like it! Yet, there is also a Miracle of Death. It's very different to clothe a lifeless body, but there is something miraculous about a dead body where the spirit is no longer housed.

"For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. -William Penn

Monday, May 24, 2010

Low Man on the Totem Pole!

"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." -Stephen Covey

I guess we all have days where we feel like The Low Man on the Totem Pole! But, regardless of how we feel, it turns out the origin of the phrase might be a case of mistaken identity.

We use the saying to infer that we are the least important person in the ...fill in the appropriate term.

But, while the term "low" might be derogatory in some settings, it isn't so with totem poles. The Native American groups who carve faces into tall poles of wood would claim there is no significance to the order the figures are carved.

If anything, the lower part of the pole might be considered a more prominent place since this is the part that is seen close up after the pole is erected.

In fact, a master carver will often assign his apprentices the job of carving the higher figures, so the master carver can concentrate on the lower ten feet of the pole.

So, it looks like the low man spot might actually be the most important after all! People just might not realize it! Kind of the same way we might not realize it when our priorities are out of whack!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"No Pressure" Washing!

"I enjoy my work so much that I have to be pulled away from my work into leisure." -Ralph Nadar

Some work is so fun it feels like play! For example, take Pressure Washing. It's a blast! Literally!

The equipment is a little cumbersome at first but so are hockey uniforms. Once you maneuver the engine, hose, & wand around a bit you hardly notice the fact you are working.

I'm a little trigger happy! Once I get started I want to blast the dirt off everything in sight! I might start with the deck and patio furniture but pretty soon I'm obsessed with cleaning every object in the yard. I'll tackle the driveway, the iron fences; the umbrellas; anything in shooting range.

There's a nice satisfaction in pressure washing; you see immediate results. Yesterday I spent most of the day pressure washing with some assistance from Brent & Andie on cleaning the pool cover. I went through 4 gallons of Krud Kutter (pressure wash cleaner)! I'd say the summer swim season is ready to commence!

"The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our work and find in it our pleasure. -Francoise de Motteville

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ogres are like Onions!

Analogies are a great technique to 'get at' something in a fresh way! Aristotle taught that when there is a disconnect between what you want to express and what the audience knows, an analogy is the best way to get the point across.

To liken something people are familiar with to something new you create understanding. But one danger of analogies is that others might draw the wrong conclusions.

We played a Gospel Analogies game in Seminary on Friday. To show the youth ideas of how analogies work (& also how they can be misconstrued) I read them a scene from the first Shrek movie. Shrek has one thing in mind but Donkey draws all sorts of interesting and irrelevant connections to Shrek's analogy of ogres. It's pretty fun!

Shrek: For your information, there's a lot more to ogres than people think.

Donkey: Example?

Shrek: Example? Okay, um, ogres are like onions.

Donkey: They stink?

Shrek: Yes. No!

Donkey: They make you cry?

Shrek: No!

Donkey: You leave them out in the sun, they get all brown, start sprouting' little white hairs.

Shrek: No! Layers! Onions have layers! Ogres have layers! You get it? We both have layers.

Donkey: Oh, you both have layers. Oh. You know, not everybody likes onions. Cake! Everybody loves cakes! Cakes have layers.

Shrek: I don't care...what everyone likes. Ogres are not like cakes;

Donkey: You know what else everybody likes? Parfaits. Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's get some parfait," they say, "Hell no, I don't like no parfait?" Parfaits are delicious.

Shrek: No! You dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden! Ogres are like onions! End of story.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Roast Beef Church Members!

"When you're at a potluck dinner, the person who is assigned to bring the roast beef is someone who can always be counted on. You want to be a roast beef member." -Brother Thompson

I read the quote above in an essay encouraging us to be the active participants in our ward families! Generally, to be the type of person that everyone can always can on! It's a good analogy! And a true one.

I remember Bishop Bostwick in our La Jolla Ward used to tell the ward council that in most wards about a dozen families basically run the ward. And most wards I have lived in that has been the case! There might be a hundred active families but it's still the hard working dozen that do most of the legwork!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fully Charged Distractions!

Like every resource that has potential for good, technology can also be a problem! We've been counseled by church leaders to be careful how much time we spend online or in virtual realities, etc.!

Last week President Barack Obama also acknowledged that this "breathtaking change" information era can become a distraction!

Speaking at the Hampton University commencement President Obama said: "You are coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank all that high on the truth meter.

With iPods, and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations - none of which I know how to work - information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment - rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than a means of emancipation. It is putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."

I was glad to see President Obama acknowledge the dangers of a culture where we are constantly bombarded with information overload! Some journalists were critical of his remarks (no surprise since he was dissing media diatribes). One journalist wrote that Obama's comments were: "weirdly out-of-touch for a president who fought to keep his BlackBerry."

Overabundance of information can bog us down and fill our minds with useless trivia. Technology toys can distract us to the extent that we never have any quiet time to feel or hear the spirit working in our lives. It's a valid concern. I was impressed that President Obama "gets it," he understands that the bombardment and exposure can have potentially harmful effects.

In the April General Conference, Elder Bradley Foster said: "A distraction doesn't need to be evil to be effective." So true!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing!

"A little learning is a dangerous thing." -Alexander Pope

Remail is my combination of "real?" and "email." As in, "Is This a Real Email?" And, if you have to ask, the answer is likely ....probably not!

Yesterday my inbox had an email from Carole Beal with the subject line: "I need your help urgently." Coming from Carole this struck me as an odd request.

The email read: "Hello. i'm sorry for odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it's due to the situation of things right now.

I'm stuck in London, we came down for short vacation then i was robbed, worse of it that bags, cash and cards and cell were stolen at GUN POINT, it's such a crazy xperience for us, we need help flying back home, the authorities are not supportive and currently we have troubles paying off hotel bills and getting a cab to airport.

Please i need you to loan me money, will refund you as soon as i'm back home, i promise. -Carole

Obviously, Carole did not type the broken English plea for donations! In fact, I think if this scam artist would like to be taken seriously he needs to brush up on his grammar, spelling, punctuation, word usage, etc. Thus, the "little learning" post title!

Of all the computers (or accounts) to hack into, Carole's was not a wise choice! She is one of the least likely people to ever ask anyone for a favor (or money).

Besides, Carole has connections! Her son-in-law works for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If Carole truly had been held at gun point, Hillary could help her much faster than I could!

When I phoned Carole on her (allegedly stolen) cell phone we had a good laugh! But the perpetrator wiped out all her contacts so it isn't all fun and games! So, beware of similar crazy schemes!

My general rule: "If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, it probably IS a rat!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Real Life.....Beginning Soon!

"For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.

At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination." -Alfred D'Souza

I'm probably not the only person who thinks that I'll be (x) as soon as I complete/finish/do (y)! This line of reasoning can take various forms but any variation on the theme still leads to the same denial. We fool no one!

It reminds me of President Hodgman's talk at the last stake conference about Digital Video Recorders. The wonder of being able to pause, rewind, and fast forward! Wouldn't it be great if we could press the pause button on a sluggish stage of our own journey, let the live show (our life) get ahead of troubling times and then fast forward to the best parts of our own life story!

The tragedy of thinking this way is how we keep postponing our real life. Oh wait, we don't really postpone anything! In fact, when we think that we'll be happy as soon as (x,y,or z) happens we are more accurately just postponing our own happiness! Which seems pretty lame.

"That it will never come again,
Is what makes life so sweet." -Emily Dickinson

Monday, May 17, 2010

Money: Does it grow on trees?

Money by Richard Armour

Workers earn it,
Spendthrifts burn it,
Bankers lend it,
Women spend it,
Forgers fake it,
Taxes take it,
Dying leave it,
Heirs receive it,
Thrifty save it,
Misers crave it,
Robbers seize it,
Rich increase it,
Gamblers lose it...
I could use it.

I thought these two poems on Money would be apropos following a post on Warren Buffett! And right after the photo with Bill Gates! Two guys who have bundles of it!

Little Lyric (of Great Importance)

I wish the rent
Was heaven sent. -by Langston Hughes

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Warren Buffett's Words of Wisdom...

I love this picture of Bill Gates (the Harvard dropout), smiling as he looks at Warren Buffett explaining something! I think they're the 2 wealthiest guys in the United States but they just look like regular guys.

Webb emailed a cool article about Peter Buffett, Warren's son who just finished a book titled "Life is What You Make it: Finding Your Own Path to Fulfillment." It's nice to see that Warren Buffett's son grew up happy and normal and not the spoiled child of a rich father.

Peter Buffett warns against the dangers of privilege and states that: "Entitlement is the worst thing ever and I see entitlement coming in many guises. Anybody who acts like they deserve something 'just because,' is a disaster." You can tell Peter learned common sense from a wise father who didn't give him everything!

On our bookshelves we've got a book called "The Tao of Warren Buffet" written by Peter's former wife, Mary Buffett and David Clark. The book is filled with memorable sayings Warren Buffett has used over the years. The quotes give you a sense of Warren Buffet's philosophy on life.

A few of my favorite Buffetisms include:
"You can't make a good deal with a bad person."

"It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it. If you think about that, you will do things differently."

"Never ask a barber if you need a haircut."

"The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging."

"We don't go into a company with the thought of effecting a lot of changes. That doesn't work any better in investments than it does in marriages."

Buffett's clever insight shows me why he is so brilliant at investing; the guy is really intuitive and people smart!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Duly Noted...

It has been brought to my attention that one of my discriminating blog readers thinks my posts have too many exclamation points.

This reminds me of another criticism several years back when I was told I was too perky in the morning.

Too perky? Too many exclamation points? Really? These are bad things?

I always thought these were good things. Who knew others were annoyed by early morning good cheer (perkiness) and perturbed by the quantity of things I think deserve exclamation (perky punctuation)?

I guess exclamation points do lose all impact in overuse. Kind of like the boy who cried wolf. At some point, when there really is a wolf, nobody will notice because I've used so many exclamation points that they just disappear.

I guess it's like the maxim: "If everything is emphasized, nothing is." I've also heard that the exclamation point is just a crutch for the lazy writer. Sounds about right.

The exclamation point is relatively new punctuation, first appearing in the 1400's. Originally it was known as a "mark of admiration" and some scholars believe it comes from the Latin Io (meaning joy).

Please note that this entire post does not contain a single exclamation point. Furthermore, I'll try to dole them out sparingly in future posts. However, in regard to morning perkiness: toning that down a notch could have disastrous consequences. Because if there is anything worse than a perky mom it would be an miserable mom. Miserable, because I can't admire and feel joy in the new day. Trust me, perky trumps misery any morning.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Teach Me All That I Must DO!

Not to be outdone by his children, Brent even had a Mother's Day presentation. He decided to sing "I Am A Child of God" in English and Afrikaans, requesting family assistance joining in on the chorus.

Naomi Randall wrote the text to "I Am a Child of God." Her original version of the song read: "Teach me all that I must know to live with Him someday."

When President Spencer W. Kimball heard Primary children sing "I Am a Child of God" while visiting a conference in California he remarked that he loved the children's song, but there was one word that bothered him. President Kimball asked a Primary general board member if Sister Randall would be willing to change the word "know" to the word "do."

It was a simple change but an important one! Knowing what is right is good but it's more important that we do what is right!

I am a child of God, And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home, With parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do, To live with him someday.

I am a child of God, And so my needs are grea;
Help me to understand his words, Before it grows to late.
Lead me guide walk beside me, Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do, To live with him someday.

I am a child of God. Rich blessing are in store;
If I but learn to do his will, I'll live with him once more.
Lead me guide me, walk beside me, Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do, To live with him someday.

I am a child of God. His promises are sure;
Celestial glory shall be mine, If I can but endure.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do, To live with him someday. -Naomi Randall

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Resilience: The Courage to Bounce Back!

"It may be that instead of giving us a friendly world that would never challenge us and therefore never make us strong, God gave us a world that would inevitably break our hearts, and compensated for that by planting in our souls the gift of resilience." -Rabbi Harold Kushner

Andie memorized a quote I love by Rabbi Harold Kushner. He's one of my favorites when it comes to topics of a spiritual nature.

I also love the psychology behind resilience or what I might call the fine art of coping! Figuring out how we can learn from negative experiences and turn them into a positive is a wonderful skill!

Rabbi Kushner readily admits that none of us are immune to trauma or to suffering. All of us will meet obstacles in life so coping mechanisms that help us bounce back are critical for our survival and well being!

His counsel isn't just grand oration either. The rabbi and his wife had to go through the painful discovery of learning their young son, Aaron, suffered from progeria (rapid aging). Doctors told them that Aaron would never grow much beyond three feet in height, would have no hair on his head, would look like a little old man, and would die in his early teens.

And Rabbi Kushner's son, Aaron, did die just two days after his fourteenth birthday. Much of Rabbi Kushner's interest in resilience was a response to the grieving process as they learned to cope with Aaron's disease and subsequent death.

I am buoyed up by the example of resilience in good men like Rabbi Kushner who find ways to let tragedy make them stronger and better people instead of bitter and unforgiving! Whenever I read about people with difficult trials it makes my challenges seem small, almost trivial, and definitely more bearable!

"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places." -Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Giving! And the tree was happy!

"I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver." - Maya Angelou

Webb gets the award for memorizing an entire book! Now he has learned works from 2 of my favorite poets, Dr. Seuss (when Webb memorized "Oh, The Places You'll Go") and now Shel Silverstein.

Webb can recite The Giving Tree from cover to cover! We are all quite impressed! Plus, Webb figured out how to video conference call via our computers which kept everyone honest (we can see you! no glancing at your poem!).

The mass success of The Giving Tree (published in 1964) gave Silverstein his first real recognition. After the book became a bestseller people paid attention to Silverstein's poems. His poems are goofy and often irreverent (but in good fun), so children (and clever adults) love their silliness. I've probably quoted Shel Silverstein in Primary, Young Women, & Relief Society lessons which should attest to his broad appeal (or my unorthodox teaching)!

Unbeknownst to Webb, I gave my Mom a copy of The Giving Tree when I was in high school. I'm sure Grammy still has it somewhere (I can say that with certainty!). I remember inscribing a note to Grammy inside the book to thank her for always giving while I continually took! So the book definitely brings back memories (even if they are of me as a self centered teenager)! But, I do love the book and I love the message!

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. -Winston Churchill

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spiritual Logic...

Chartless by Emily Dickinson

"I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet now I know how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in Heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given."

The next 3 posts will spotlight the Mother's Day selections memorized by the Knudsen kids this year! I'll go from youngest to oldest so today features the Emily Dickinson poem that Paige recited.

I love that we heard the poem together at stake conference by a cute new member who spoke. In addition to the poem the new convert had a lot of funny lines in her remarks about joining the church. I wish I had taken more notes, she was hilarious!

Chartless has always reminded me of another poem titled "Who has seen the wind?" that was written by Christina Rossetti. Both poets were born in 1830; Dickinson in Amherst, Massachusetts and Rossetti in London, England! 1830: a very good year!

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I not you;
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind
Neither you nor I
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Sentiments Exactly!

I loved the fact that Betty White was hosting Saturday Night Live! Score one for the old timer! The skits didn't quite live up to the hype but her opening monologue was awesome! The best part was her tribute to Facebook!

A couple of Betty White classics:
"When I first heard about the campaign to get me to host 'Saturday Night Live,' I didn't know what Facebook was. Now that I DO know what it is, I have to say: It seems like a hug waste of time."

"I'd never say that people on it (facebook) are losers. But that's only because I'm polite!"

"Facebook just sounds like a drag." Amen to The Golden Girl! 88 (and a half) years of wisdom!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mom's Rock!

"Mothering is a subtle art whose rhythm we collect and learn, as much from one another as from instinct. Taking shape, we shape each other, with subtle pressure and sudden knocks. The challenges shape us, approvals refine, the wear and tear of small abrasions transform, until we're slowly made up of one another and yet wholly ourselves." -Louise Erdich "The Blue Jay's Dance"

The rhythm of my own mothering has been collected from a hodge podge of women! I've had great examples to observe all through my life!

The only mother I've never encountered is The Perfect Mother! While, I'm sure many Moms come really close, it's actually quite a relief that "she" doesn't exist!

I'm one of the Moms who suffers from Mother's Guilt (which ebbs and flows...just when you think you are in remission....bam!). Mother's Guilt usually hits me right around Mother's Day when I face the reality that despite one more year of practice, I'm still very much a "work in progress" and still "winging it as I go along" relative to my mothering skills!

Despite my shortcomings I do believe it is the divine role of women to nurture! It's an attribute that feels second nature to most mothers.

Most women seem to be born with an innate sense of goodness. I love the way humor writer Dave Barry describes this. Barry writes:
"I believe if women were in charge of all the world's nations, there would be, I sincerely believe this, virtually no military conflicts, and if there were a military conflict, everybody involved would feel just awful and there would soon be a high level exchange of thoughtful notes, written on greeting cards with flowers on the front, followed by a Peace Luncheon (which would be salads, with the dressing on the side)." -Dave Barry

Mother's Day Greetings to Nurturing Women who Rock the World Everywhere!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

If You're Happy & You Know It, Clap Your (Helping) HANDS!

"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!
If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!"

Mormon Helping Hands! Today, Saturday, May 8th, there is a statewide service project with church member volunteers cleaning up parks all over California. Los Gatos Ward has been assigned to Vasona Park.

Bachman Park would have been my choice but no one asked me! Bachman is more like a big backyard while Vasona feels humongous! Although we do have over 80 people signed up to work from 8:30 to 12:30 so that makes it feel less daunting!

The Saturday morning runners involved in the service project (me, for one) will need to sprint (ha!) up the Lexington Dam and then make a beeline to Vasona to start helping. I'm hoping for childcare duty on the playground for the volunteers who have to bring their small children. But I guess I can weed, paint, pick up trash, etc. if I don't get the fun (childcare) job!

I like the Mormon Helping Hands logo. I also like the opportunity for us to get out in our communities and serve. I think we are much happier when we are serving! It must be why the consummate volunteers (full time missionaries) are the happiest people I know! (Hands Down! - pun intended!)

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." -Nelson Henderson

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle!

"The Hand The Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World" -by William Ross Wallace

Blessings on the hand of women!

Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow --
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand the rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky --
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

The painting is by Berthe Morisot, a French impressionist. The poem seems like a nice prelude to Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Will of God...

"The will of God will never take you to where the grace of God will not protect you." -quoted by Anna Deaver Smith, author unknown

The speaker was switched on the Celebrity Forum series last week that Anita had kindly given us her tickets too. I'd been looking forward to hearing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the current President of Liberia. But, apparently, Liberia wanted Sirleaf to spend less time abroad and more time governing their country!

So, Sirleaf's replacement was actress and professor, Anna Deavere Smith, who I hadn't actually heard of before the lecture. I guess she's been in several movies and on the TV series "The West Wing" as well as teaching at Stanford, Yale and NYU.

Deavere-Smith was quite entertaining! Her speech was more of a performance; something she describes as "documentary theatre." Deavere Smith interviews people about topics like healthcare and civil rights issues. Then she stages one-woman plays sharing monologues from her research.

A Deavere Smith mantra seemed to be determination! She talked about good ideas being abundant but turning ideas into reality takes determination and concentrated effort. I think her remarks impressed me more after they percolated a bit. I'd typed some notes on my iphone that resonated more in the rereading than during her performance. Maybe I was just a poor sport that night because I'd hoped to hear the President of Liberia. In retrospect, Deavere Smith was clearly talented and very bright!

"I am not myself; I am the potential of myself." -Anna Deveare Smith