Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Family Tie

©2003, photo by Anita Schiller, His Children

It's found in the tilt of a curly head,
the line of a jaw or chin.
The family tie is ancient, eternal,
and welcomes the stranger in.

This charming photo was taken in Italy. What do you think?
Brother and sister? Father and daughter? Uncle and niece?
Whatever the relationship, the family resemblance is ours to enjoy.

And the love, too.





All family photos taken by Heather of TendershootZ and used with permission.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WANTED: One Beautiful Day...

WANTED: one beautiful day at the shore;
a good log for sitting; an ocean to roar;
a paper for reading; a bit of a breeze;
a pair of bare feet (hold the sand, if you please);
some driftwood, some shells, and the smell of the sea.
Now cut me a deal. Did I hear you say FREE?!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Okay, Mom, You've Convinced Me!

For years, my mother has been after me to write a novel, and she's finally won me over. Well, actually, this photo won me over:

The name of my soon-to-be masterpiece? Waterlogged: The Story of Two Feckless Fun-Seekers and One Trembling, Tooth-Chattered Tot. I will not, of course, succumb to adding the popular affectation, "A Novel." (Way too cliche for a writer of my caliber.) This tale will be fresh a dip in the pool.

Fiction? Yes, but make no mistake. l intend to delve deeply into the disturbing trend of aquatic hedonists whose desperate drive for pool-related pleasure inures them to the paralyzing pain of others. The piece promises to be marked by genius and alliteration. (Some would argue that the two are incompatible.) Obviously, I am not one of them.

I wish I could give you a projected date of publication, but it could take years to complete a fictionalized expose of lasting import. Research is the backbone of this genre, and attention to detail is my calling card.


Disclaimer: Yes, I am kidding.
(This disclaimer generated due to past confusion in regard to my occasionally unrecognizable attempts at humor.)

PS. This just in...I won Freakshow Friday (for the funniest caption) over at Leigh vs. Laundry! How cool is that? =D

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Study: in French

Hurray! It's Saturday Centus again, thanks to Jenny Matlock and her very creative husband. This week I will add my own hundred words to a prompt from Mr. Jenny that is carefully embedded (in red) in the little story below, a cautionary tale I have created exclusively for your reading pleasure.

Here goes...

My feet nearly danced down the hall, but my friends were lagging. Why so slow of foot, mes amies? I queried silently. Would it be so difficile to cease babbling and pick up the pace?

Maybe I’d confide in Bridget after Physics. Revenge was sweetest shared. And last night had been sweet beyond description. Getting back at Liz, la petite tramp, felt absolument delicieuse. And seeing her droopy face in class today? Merveilleux!

Merde! What if somebody traced the photos back to my computer? Didn't that happen once, and the girl got caught?

Suddenly, Bridget was talking. "Did you notice Elizabeth in class this morning and how forlorn she seemed?"

Perhaps I will write her a comforting note, I thought.
My Dearest Lizardbreath Elizabeth...

(It's always wise
to cover one’s cyber tracks, non?)


Friday, June 25, 2010

There Is No Frigate Like a Book, So Here's a Fleet for You!

It's book review time again, and I've been reading some good ones.

The Owl and Moon Cafe: A Novel by Jo-Ann Mapson
-A fairly common theme of disparate mom and daughter moving through their broken relationship toward greater understanding, but there was a quirky sweetness that appealed to me.

Every Last One: A Novel by Anna Quindlen
-Pretty intense and very real depiction of loss, grief and healing. I couldn't put it down.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonsen
-A slow but sweet read about second love and differing cultures in a small town, with a nice sprinkle of English humor throughout.

The Book of Bright Ideas: A Novel by Sandra Kring
-This one got to me, and I think I need a "Book of Bright Ideas" of my own.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore
-Another quirky but lovely and rather lyrical book about the daughter of a string of preachers who finds the light herself and spreads it around a bit.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
-Great character development and a stimulating read about friendship, cultural biases, and the nature of racism.

Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendle
-Woman returns to mystic mountain home, confronts ghosts of her childhood, and resolves relationship with recently deceased mother. This book was fine, but other people have already written it.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
-Gripping saga chronicling the human drama that was WWII from the eyes of a remarkable young man, a Hungarian Jew of good character who is as talented as he is sympathetic. A lengthy journey, well worth the taking.

Thank You for All Things by Sandra Kring
-This author was new to me until I read The Book of Bright Ideas. I like her, and Thank You for All Things is a book with lots of heart and a little bit of vinegar.

So there you are, for what it's worth, with a few of my latest reads. Admittedly, I've been on a bit of a binge just lately. My husband is rarely present due to crazy busy-ness at work AND at church; my son is studying all hours of the day and well into the night for the MCAT, and there's only so much work to do in a house full of adults. Not that I'm complaining. My kindle and I are doing just fine!


PS. My other source of entertainment is still So You Think You Can Dance. I've even got my son hooked on it, and if you knew Todd, you would know that this is nothing short of a miracle. That show is right on the money!

PPS. What IS this "Xxxxx: A Novel" affectation that authors are adopting lately? Maybe I should try it myself...

What d'ya think?

The Man of Galilee: A Poem

(Not so much, right?) So get over it, writers. A label is not needed!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wishes, Witches, and Wonders

WISHES: the computer desk of my dreams

WITCHES: (the "good" kind) for granting more wishes!

WONDERS: trio of beautiful grandchildren

(no witchcraft required...)


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An Ocean View

An ocean view uplifts the soul

from any vantage point.

Framed in ancient, rugged rock...

or nestled in between the clouds and sand...

the sea is grand.

Each gentle, rolling wave swirls free
(lifts me)

to rise and fall and swell in morning light...

or dark of night.

first seven photos by Leighann Peters

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Children Are an Heritage of the Lord...

A recent post over at Segullah spoke of sons and aging and how quickly time passes, and it got me thinking of my own son (specifically, the eldest one) and an experience several years ago when I realized in a visceral way that he had become a man...emotionally, as well as physically. Until that moment, I had never understood that having a grown man for a son could bring me, as a mother, the kind of comfort and support that I'd previously received only from my husband. Nor had it ever occurred to me that I might need it.

It was a time of turmoil for my family, and I had flown in to stay with my son and his wife while I wrestled with some really scary problems another of my children was having. My husband was not able to accompany me that week, and I was trying to be strong with every piece of resilience I could muster. One evening, though, I returned from a particularly difficult session and couldn't keep a lid on my feelings. It was late at night, and as I was sharing the day's events, my fear and concern spilled over into tears. Immediately, my son moved to comfort me, the first time any of my children had ever done so––not that they hadn't brought me comfort just by being themselves, saying the right thing, or giving me a child's hug––but this was different. My son was offering support as an adult; he was giving me a shoulder to lean on in much the same way his father occasionally does.

The thing is, I'm a pretty stalwart and independent person, so I tend not to attract this sort of support from the world at large. But my husband understands, after all these years, that sometimes I do need it. And on that day, my son understood too. I felt his love and was grateful and surprised to realize that one of my own, a child I was accustomed to nurturing, could return the favor. In spades.

It was this feeling and realization that inspired the following poem, which happens to be one of my favorites that I have ever written, probably because its simple words hold such deep meaning for me. I wrote it in reaction to a photograph, taken by Anita Schiller, of a mother and her son in a market place in Italy. (Unfortunately, his silhouette does not show up in the depiction below, so you'll have to use your imagination.) For some reason, this man's obvious care and concern for his mom took me back to that evening in Southern California, reminding me of my own son and his unconditional love for me, demonstrated with such naturally expressed compassion. I knew that his kindness (and that of my other grown children, of course) would be one of the blessings of my old age. And I felt safe. And grateful. And oh, so blessed.

©2003 by Susan Noyes Anderson, His Children, Vantage Point Press
(Photograph ©2003 by Anita Schiller)

Oh for a son
when my head is bowed
and years have lined my face––
A stalwart son
with a gentle heart,
where I still hold
a mother’s place.

Oh, for a son
when eyes grow dim
and memories recede––
A spirited son,
a steadfast son,
who sees but does not
fear my need.

"Children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward" Psalms 127:3.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Summer Story

Saturday Centus is here once more, and you know the drill. A prompt of 13 words from Mr. Jenny (Matlock), a hundred words from me, and a story for all of you! The prompt is in red. Here goes...

Summer came but I couldn't feel it, not deep in my heart or warm on my skin. The sun shone; the sweet smell of lilacs drifted through my window, but the smile plastered over my face was performance art, a cover-up for my real expression of....

Fear. What did fear look like? Maybe that tight-lipped grimace with uplifted corners I wore for my mother. She looked like death, and every day I hoped she was wrong.

We missed him, both of us, our dreams riddled with mujahideen and bomb blasts. He was a reporter, not a soldier.

It was Father's Day, 1984, when I heard that voice in the hallway. The nightmare had ended. He was home.

(Inspiration for this story was Richard Pauli, a reporter who smuggled himself into Afghanistan during its war with the Soviet Union, capturing rare footage of a "secret" conflict that wasn't being recorded visually due to governmental constraints.)

I wonder if fathers know how important they are in the lives of their children. I sincerely hope my own husband does, because he means everything to them.

Happy Father's Day to you, Dave...and to all of those other irreplaceable dads out there.


Friday, June 18, 2010

A Gift to my Readers

Good morning. (Or afternoon or evening.) Whichever applies.

This post is in the form of a gift to any and every person who reads, has occasionally read, or might ever have cause to read my blog. Please know that I make this offer freely, out of the goodness of my heart and with no expectation of reward, simply because I wish to give you, my esteemed friends and/or friends-in-the-making, something of immense and lasting value. (Also because I happen to be a bona fide angel walking blithely upon this earth in the guise of a short, round, and rather unexceptional-looking woman.) Okay, maybe not an angel, exactly. Let's go with something along the line of a wise, warm, and wonderfully giving entity, but a little less on the exalted side. A good witch, perhaps. Yes, I like that.

Be that as it may, with all the formalities, revelations, and explanations aside, I am ready to present you with the gift to end all gifts...the prize that keeps on giving...un petit cadeau and piece de resistance for which you are likely to thank me tirelessly every day of your life (or at least till the end of summer). And even if you don't bother to thank me...or even to remember my largesse on a conscious will most assuredly wear my name emblazoned in giant red letters across your subconscious mind until the day you die. I'm quite certain of that. In fact, I'm counting on it.

So here it is. No, really. It's coming. Right now. This very minute.

wait for it

So You Think You Can Dance. Wednesday nights. Fox network.

You're welcome.


PS. The tone is tongue-in-cheek, but the gift is real. You'll love it.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

V Is for Victory! (Or the pursuit of it...)

V is for victory. (Or, at least, the pursuit of it...)

Seeing my 3 sons and their dad play hoops makes me a winner.

Especially when they come home with no injuries...

Looking for something, guys?

Tonight they'll be looking for a LAKERS victory!
(And this spousal blackmail picture? Icing on the cake, baby!)

photos by Heather at TendershootZ


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Classic Is a Classic Is a Classic.


At last! My Penguin Classics birthday presents have arrived!!

Along with the cute little bookshelf to show 'em off.
(including plenty of room for more)

I think we're all going to be very happy...


PS. Next up? A matching desk! (Might have to wait till Christmas for that one.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Art of Making Friends

Sometimes making friends is kinda scary...
and we need a little nudge.

(Especially when the subject's kinda hairy,
and he doesn't want to budge.)

But if we're lucky, someone comes to show us
how to wipe away our fear;

And if we let a new friend come to know us...
bits of magic might appear.

(Isn't he dear?)


photos by Heather at TendershootZ

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flying High

Aren't dads the best thing ever?!

I like watching my son be one of them.
He does a good job.
He had a great role model.

(Psssst! The role model flew his kids high, too.)


PS. Can I get a YIKES, anyone?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Deadlines and Memories

It's Saturday morning, and Saturday Centus happens to be my new favorite game. The rules? Take the prompt (bolded below) from Jenny Matlock's always-entertaining blog, surround it with 100 of your best words, and create a story nugget worth the reading.

Here's my nugget...(and there's a nugget of truth in it, by the way).

Kate was sweating a book deadline when the inspiration-blocking hum of a mower crashed her consciousness. The gardeners? At this hour?? Glancing down, she let Timex tell her “this hour” was less early than she was late. Her hands pushed at the keyboard, willing it to carry her to conclusion. Instead, the scent of cut lawn carried her elsewhere...

...the kitchen table, she and her sister, a child's faith, two bowls overflowing with blades o' backyard bounty. Surely anything so green would be delicious. Adding milk, they sampled, neither willing to admit their findings. More sugar, maybe?

Kate grimaced. It’s true; the smell of freshly mowed grass can stay with you for years, for decades. The taste, too.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Lehi Park: Adventures in Service

The weekend I hit Dallas, Bishop Dave was busy, too.

He didn't know that there'd be rain.

(He did know there'd be view.)

His helpers were a merry crowd

who all worked hard to make him proud.

They managed to look good as well.

(She took these photos. Ain't she swell?)

Now walk with me along the trail

that leads to beauty on a scale

that only nature can provide...

At Lehi, joy is multiplied.