Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial (Birth) Day

I have the privilege of sharing my birthday with a bunch of vets this year, and I think we all know who deserves the most attention. So, with that in mind...


May we never forget

the valiant men

who gave their lives
both now and then.

(And the valiant women, too.)

With all my "star-spangled heart," I thank and celebrate the courageous men and women who have given their lives, literally or figuratively, for this wonderful country. My family and I honor and every day.

And we honor their families, too.
~May the Lord bless each one~

For more on Memorial Day, click here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Send in the Acrobats: Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

It's Saturday Centus at Jenny's, and yes, I'm playing! Remember the drill from last time? (100 words in response to a prompt that must be included in the body of text, right?) The prompt is in red. Here goes...

Incredible! Who moves like that? Clapping with unexpected appreciation, Mary turned to her dad. Immediately, her hands dropped. Where was he? The circus was his idea. Her stomach lurched, wonder suspended.

“Excuse me,” she whispered, pushing through the crowd.

Familiar tightness entered her. Chill out. He's in the restroom. But her body wasn’t listening. Old habits. Deliberately, Mary relaxed. Where was that exit?

“May I help you, miss? You look puzzled.”

“Mmmm… thank you, I’m just looking for my father. We came in together a moment ago, but he seems to have wandered off.”

Her smile slipped as she offered a description, answering questions. Did it matter where he worked? Quit wasting time. Start looking. Before...

Later, they found him in the funhouse, reeking of cheap alcohol, giggling like a child.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sunny Skies and Family Ties

Well, our annual Palm Desert family reunion trip is underway, and the golfers are blissfully breaking in their first course. (Bogey-free, of course.) Today's forecast promises 86 degrees of delight, with clear blue skies and all the fluffy white clouds a golf enthusiast could wish for!

We arrived at 2:00 in the morning, having left our neck of the woods at 7 PM. (The Bishop got held up.) Quelle surprise. Nonetheless, when the alarm went off four hours later––at the very crack of dawn––my intrepid men bounded out of bed, grabbed a homemade cinnamon roll (thanks, Mom), and headed off to glory. Oh, that I had the power to stir them so easily...

Much of the drive was spent listening to crackling versions of the Laker game on several different radio stations. Let's just say you could have cut the tension with a knife. Thankfully (and I will owe them for life), Kobe and gang managed to pull off a buzzer-beating win at the last minute. (Sorry, Arizona friends, but I hope you won't begrudge my relief at not having to spend the duration of my trip cooped up in a moving vehicle with three men in Laker loss mode.) I might have jumped to my death.

As it is, I have lived to see another day, and tomorrow I will even get to see my grandkids! Best of all, Jeremiah is bringing his prize-winning Pinewood Derby car for my inspection. Yes, folks. Graphite works.

Hope every one of you has the kind of Memorial Day weekend I'm looking at right now, complete with all of my favorite things.

(Family, family, and more family...)


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sue's Reviews: Braden Bell's "The Road Show"

["S" is for Sue's Summer Reading a la Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday.]

I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant when Braden Bell first asked me if I would review his book, The Road Show, on Sue's News, Views 'n Muse. Being rather underwhelmed by LDS fiction in general, I was worried (to be frank) that my "views" after reading it might not be positive enough to warrant a wholehearted recommendation. Any negative reaction on my part inevitably would have been awkward, because I enjoy Braden's blog and comments very much and wouldn't want to jeopardize our blossoming blog pal status.

Having said that, I'd already read and enjoyed a preview of the book, so I e-mailed him and expressed both my willingness and my concerns. His open, unassuming, and even humorous answer assuaged my fears, and I began to look forward to reading the pdf file that accompanied his response. Having promised myself a long rest today before embarking upon yet another trip this evening (Palm Desert for a mini-family reunion), I clicked on the attachment immediately and began to read.

Not one dull moment and a kleenex or two later, here I am––an extremely satisfied customer. My interest was fully engaged from start to finish, and the characters and their stories ring true: familiar, but not cliched. Somehow, these people manage to struggle mightily without turning into caricatures of themselves––to evoke empathy without becoming (or even verging upon) maudlin. This is no small feat, especially compared with LDS books of similar intent that expose themselves in the first chapter as ponderous, prosaic attempts to teach, preach, and reach the supposedly one-size-fits-all "mainstream Mormon." Braden's themes, deftly handled, emerge as universal rather than formulaic.

I recognize and/or identify with each person who walks the pages of The Road Show, for I have either known them or been them. The context into which they are placed is clear and well-executed; the format is intuitive and easy to follow. In short, the structure of this book is simple, but the feelings and principles are complex. And that's the beauty of it.

When the ending comes, and it comes sooner than later, there is plenty of open space left for the reader's emotions. Braden's light touch allowed me to find my own tears as the denouement unfolded, with Christ's life and the scriptures providing a perfect backdrop against which the players' pain unravels and healing begins.

By the time I finished the book, I felt healed as well. And hopeful. And considerably more inclined to seek small miracles in my own life.

"...By small and simple means are great things come to pass" (Alma 37:6).

The Road Show qualifies.

Thanks, Braden.

(Release date is June 8th.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Gathering of Women, Part Deux

Friday night at the women's conference, and all was well...

thanks to Bruce Almighty, the most amazing chef of all time!
(His big-as-Texas-sized family helped him out...)

And so did his cohort, the bishop!!

Brother Bruce created hors d'oeuvres to die for.
Et voila!

And Le Bishop had a very interesting way of serving them.
(We liked it.) ;)

Do we look like happy eaters?

Giddyup on over and take a little look-see, as we say here in Texas...

Um...this would be lobster bisque soup (with chunks o' lobster).

Just tellin' it like it is: We were happy to be in the room.
(Can you say filet...with peach reduction sauce?)

This charming couple spoke to us about our marriages,
using the Kirtland temple-inspired "prepare a house of order"
scripture and likening it to our homes. Excellent!

After dinner, everyone was beaming! (cheesecake for dessert)

And speaking of chefs...On Saturday morning

this lovely group outdid themselves.

What a GREAT family...and even better cooks!
(The tortillas were homemade.)

These angels worked and slaved in a hot kitchen for hours...

so all of us could enjoy this...

and THIS!

Can you believe how cheerful she still looks?
(Think 90 degrees with 100% humidity.)

Before the service project, this lovely young woman

from Stand Up for Kids came to speak to us.
(Boy, was I impressed with her.)

Then we assembled hygiene kits for homeless and at-risk kids.

Afterwards, we were all feeling pretty grateful

so we made some really cool gratitude journals...

a panacea for the craft-challenged, because I rocked mine!

(Though probably not as hard as these lovely women did.)

But, fortunately, it wasn't a contest...

and we were all happy with our end products.

Now it was time for a fiesta to end all fiestas!

(And well worth the wait, I might add...)

The sister missionaries got to go first.

Aren't they a cute pair?

(And you can bet I was close behind them...)

Mmm-mm, good. Kinda like Campbell's soup...

but a whole lot better!

Does this face say "gracias," or what?

Then I talked a little...

laughed a little...

took a little "glamour" shot with the cousins...(heehee)

and headed back to home base
(aka the best not-so-little bed-and-breakfast in Texas).

Sunday, I even got to say a few words in Relief Society!

I was more than a bit sad when we exited this gate for the last time,

drove past the oh-so-loverly lake,

and took off for the big city.

After shaking hands with Dallas once more,

I hopped a plane and flew home.
(But my head and heart were already up in the clouds.)

Thanks to all the wonderful women who made me feel so welcome!
My heart was filled and lifted by each one of you.

"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God..." Colossians 2:2.