Friday, November 21, 2008

The Rule of Law . . . or Chaos & Anarchy

What is it that separates human beings from animals? More than anything else, it is that we have within us a spark of the divine:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
(William Wordsworth)

That divine spark gives us the tremendous capability to organize ourselves as a society simultaneously dedicated to freedom and order. In such a society, each is free to choose within broad parameters how to live, how to love, how to work, what to say, what to do, what to be, and how to worship.

But that free society is possible only because there is order. Thus we have civilization, which affords a degree of peace and security to society. Otherwise, there is chaos and anarchy, for when people do not feel bound by the rule of law, there is nothing to restrain or prevent them from doing whatever comes into their mind to do.

We have traffic laws to keep people safe: drivers must stop at stop signs, and obey posted speed limits. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level above a given point. If everyone suddenly decided that traffic laws were inconvenient, because they interfered with a person’s freedom to have a "good time," get plastered, and then race home as fast as that person dared to drive, imagine the condition of our roads and freeways! No one who wasn’t plastered would dare to drive, because everyone on the road would be going 60 -80 mph, weaving from one lane to another, IF they stayed on the roads to begin with! No one could get anywhere because, without traffic signals, it wouldn’t be long before two freedom-loving people would insist they had the right-of-way at an intersection, and there would be an accident, which would tie up traffic for the rest of the day.

Nor does it work for SOME of the people to obey the law, and a privileged few to be allowed to live "outside" or "above" the law. Then, you wind up with the type of Gang Society Chicago witnessed early in the last century, with one lawless group after another fighting for supremacy, and the poor, law-abiding citizenry left in the middle as pawns.

Which is why I am so troubled now, weeks after the election is over, to see organized groups seeking to harass and intimidate peaceful, law-abiding citizens with the goal of overturning the results of a free election. Free speech is fine. Continuing to speak after an election is lawful. Harassment, bullying, disrupting church services, attacking the elderly, are threatening bodily harm, are not. I don’t care who they are or what their "cause" is; anyone who participates in this type of harassment and persecution is a barbarian, and should be arrested and sent to prison for disturbing the peace, inciting to riot, and in some cases, like the one shown in this video, assault.

The election is over. The people have spoken. Not everyone is happy with the results. That goes for ALL the races and ballot measures, not just any one proposition. But that does not give ANYONE the right to go on a rampage and destroy someone else’s rights.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted - - - Have YOU?

I just got back from voting, and I am happy.

That’s not to say that it was the quick and easy experience I have come to expect on Election Day.

But, it is a testimony to me that God lives; that He not only loves us, but that He is mindful of us and the circumstances in which we live; and that He is still in charge.

It has been raining on and off all weekend, and the clouds were dark and threatening all day yesterday. I worried about how that would affect voter turnout. And then it began to rain, and it rained all night long. And I feared that only the truly committed would turn out to vote.

And then I woke up to the most beautiful fall day imaginable! The sun was shining, the sky was blue with only wispy white clouds high in the sky, and the temps are abut 70 degrees here in Goleta as it nears noon.

We left to cast our votes a little over an hour ago, and drove to the location where we have been casting our votes for something like 10 years . . . only to find that they weren’t doing it this year. But, as we walked past the office, I glanced over and saw a sign in the window:

"Memo from God: Today I will be handling all of your problems."

I’ve seen the whole memo before, and I stopped reading there and hurried to catch up with Derrin, but as I got to the car, I felt this little tug on my heart, like a special chime had just sounded to tell me "You’ve Got Mail!" and I knew that I hadn’t read that memo by chance.

I paused, and offered a prayer of thanks.

Unfortunately, our Sample Ballots had grown legs and wandered off, so we weren’t sure WHERE we *should* go. But, we saw a sign, "VOTE," with an arrow, and followed it to a nearby location where a bus from a neighboring retirement center was parked by the door. A good sign!

Unfortunately, they couldn’t find us on any of their voter rolls at that location. But a helpful voting assistant person approached us, and said she was a MAP, and would find out where we belonged.

She did, and after giving the Map a hug, we were on our way to our THIRD ATTEMPT of the morning to cast our ballots . . . this time at the correct voting location!

It seems like this happens every time there is an important issue on the ballot. Someone neglects to mail out the absentee ballots for the conservatives in the county until it’s too late to get them mailed back, and/or they change the voting locations. But NO ONE is going to take away my right to vote! I don’t care what kind of hoops I have to jump through, or what kind of silly maze they make me run . . . I shall persist until I arrive at the correct destination!

It felt SO GOOD to sign my name as a voting citizen of this free land; I was proud to receive my ballot; and I was filled with joy as I marked my choices and participated in the democratic process.

As I usually do, I checked over my ballot before turning it in to make sure I had marked everything the way I wanted to. And it was probably that small delay that was responsible for the segment of music that began playing on the radio as Derrin turned the car on to return home. Maybe . . .

The reason I had to sit down as soon as we got in the house and post this blog is because, as we started the engine, the radio was nearing the end of Sibelius’ "Finlandia," and I heard
"Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last."
Followed by some of the grandest, most triumphal music ever written.

I am at peace. I have done all that I can do. The rest is in God’s capable hands. He will take care of us, whatever the outcome of this election.

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve"

"Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had 'never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life.'

''This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ. . . . Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. . . . This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions.

"Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.... Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself. Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, 'summer is nigh.' Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat."

--- Elder Neal A. Maxwell
(Excerpts from A More Determined Discipleship - Feb 1979)

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's The Same Thing All Over Again -- Yes on Proposition 8

"And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it -- "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children" --

"(and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land --"

"Woe to the generation that understands the Book of Mormon."

Hugh Nibley, 1957

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Become Part of Something Important -- Vote YES on Prop 8

In 1620, a brave group of Pilgrims left their homeland, their friends and family, and virtually all their worldly possessions and ventured into the unknown. Why? Because the King and his handful of advisors were forcing these people to teach their children concepts contrary to their own religious beliefs. The Pilgrims, and those who followed after them, came to this land to found a nation where the people could worship according to the dictates of their consconince, and NOT be dictated to by a handful of self-appointed rulers.

In 1776, the hand of King George III and his cronies in Parliament was growing ever more restrictive. Burdensome taxes were being levied without regard to those affected by those taxes; private homes were being invaded by soldiers; free citizens were being jailed for voicing opinions contrary to the King’s established rules. Our forefathers fought a great war with the then-most-powerful nation on earth for the right to determine our own laws BY THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE, and NOT to be governed by a few self-righteous princes.

In 1860, another great war was fought in this land over issues of freedom and rights. The issues were more complex; it was no longer about freedom of worship, or freedom of speech. The issue was freedom itself — who had the right to be free, and who had the right to decide? It was a bitter conflict, and we still feel the repercussions of it today. But, in the end, it was determined that, in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, "government OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, AND FOR THE PEOPLE would NOT perish from the earth." We would NOT be a land where a handful of passionate zealots could break away and change the law for everybody else.

And now, it’s 2008, and we face another conflict just as momentous as those that have heretofore shaped this great land. In less than a week, we will decide whether WE, THE PEOPLE of this nation will allow a small minority of loud, overbearing bullies to redefine the foundation of civilization. Make no mistake! That is what Proposition 8 is all about. If we redefine "marriage" to include anything other than "one man and one woman," we remove the underpinnings that hold civilized society in place. No longer will "family" have any meaning; "mother" and "father" will become obsolete words, if not outright outlawed by these crazed few, who have already managed to remove those references from California school books!

Do not be fooled into thinking that this is just another proposition, or that your vote won’t make any difference. EVERY VOTE IS IMPORTANT!!! PLEASE - - - on Nov. 4, Remember the sacrifices of those who have come before us, to make possible our privilege to make OUR voice heard.

On Nov 4 – Vote FOR PROPOSITION 8.
Save Traditional Marriage. Save Society. Save the World.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Preserve Our Religious Liberty -- Yes on Prop 8

We had a wonderful program in church today. It was the Sabbath set aside for the children age 12 and under to gain their first experience with public speaking as they present, for their parents and the congregation, a summary of what they have been learning.

The topic of today’s Primary Presentation was "I Am A Child of God."

I listened to the older children give talks based on "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" which states, in part:
"We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
"All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. . . .
"The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity."

I listened to the younger children talk about "Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so." And "Heavenly Father knows me and loves me. He wants me to be happy."

I thought about the sweet innocence of these tender souls — and how all that will change unless Proposition 8 passes. At best, should Prop 8 fail, these young kids will be taught one thing at church, and something completely different, and wrong, 5 days a week at school; at worst, we could see the type of persecution here that some Canadians now face, as their religious liberties and freedom of speech has been suppressed in the name of tolerance. What a contradiction!

Don’t risk it!! FIRMLY enshrine marriage and family where it has been since before there were politicians. VOTE "YES!" ON PROPOSITION 8!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

King George III or Abraham Lincoln?

That’s the REAL question behind Proposition 8: Who Rules America? The PEOPLE? Or a small handful of self-appointed Magistrates?

In 1776, This nation fought a war with the then-greatest nation on earth for the RIGHT of THE PEOPLE to establish the laws of this land through the election process.

Now, that RIGHT is being taken away from us, state by state - - - in each case by a few elitist judges (lawyers) who have decided that THEY, not THE PEOPLE, should establish the laws of our land.

What will they decide to take away from us next?

On Nov 4, Vote for Abraham Lincoln – for government "OF the people, BY THE PEOPLE, and FOR the people!" VOTE FOR PROPOSITION 8!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Keep Your Parental Rights -- Vote "YES" on Prop 8

When I was in Jr. High, we had an annual assembly where all the girls in the 9th grade were shown a Disney cartoon describing how puberty affects females. No boys allowed!

When I was in High School, my parents had to sign a permission slip, indicating their desire for me to attend a CO-ED sex-education class, or a waver, indicating to the school that they would prefer to teach me the basics of sex education themselves. They were my parents. That was their right.

When my own children were growing up, we were granted similar options, although the grade levels at which the sex education was being offered got progressively younger. In addition, if the school wanted to show a "R" rated movie to our children, they had to notify us ahead of time, and either get our permission for our under-age child to see the program, or allow us the option of keeping our child out of class that day. We were the parents; that was our right.

But now, all that is changing. . . unless we act IMMEDIATELY to protect our rights as parents.

Click on this link to see the TRUE STORY of one Massachusetts family, where homosexual marriage is already legal, whose father was dragged to jail in handcuffs because he wanted to keep his parental right to decide what his KINDERGARTEN-AGE child would be taught about sex and family life in school!!!

Don't think it can't happen here! If we do not pass Proposition 8, we forfeit our rights to object to anything the State decides it wants to teach our children, whether we like it or not.

Please - - - On Nov. 4 - - - Cast your vote FOR Proposition 8!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Save the Family -- Vote YES on Proposition 8

There is a TV ad currently being run in California showing a triumphant Gavin Newsom, current mayor of San Francisco, loudly proclaiming "This door's wide open now. It's gonna happen. Whether you like it or not."

I don't know how people can just sit there and accept it when any public figure figuratively spits in their face and says, "LIKE IT OR NOT, YOUR'E GONNA DO WHAT *I* WANT!!"

I thought bullies were frowned upon in this country.

I thought this was a democracy. I was taught that we VOTED on important issues, and the majority WON.

When did we become a nation of bullies, where the "tough" who screams the loudest can enforce his will on everybody else?

That's not the America I grew up in; that's not the America my ancestors fought to create and preserve; that's not the America I want to leave to my grandchildren.

We already decided this issue when 60% of voters chose Prop 22. Apparently, the rule of law and the voice of the people isn't enough for some people. Let's make it clear ONCE AND FOR ALL that WE WILL NOT BE BULLIED!!!!!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

"When We're Helping We're happy"

I was very interested in this article that came to my inbox today. I have certain found the principles it discusses to be true in my own life, and wnated to share them with you.

Altruism Benefits Everyone- -Here's How!
By Elizabeth Scott, M.S.,

It’s often been said that it’s better to give than to receive, but did you know that this cliché is actually backed by research? While many of us feel too stressed and busy to worry about helping others with their burdens, or would like to think about doing good deeds when we have more ‘spare’ time, energy and money, altruism is its own reward, and can actually help you relieve stress. Altruistic acts can improve your quality of life in several ways, and are absolutely worth the effort. Here are some ways that helping others helps you:

Altruism and Psychological Wellbeing -- Studies show that altruism is good for your emotional well-being, and can measurably enhance your peace of mind. For example, one study found that dialysis patients, transplant patients and family members who became support volunteers for other patients experienced increased personal growth and emotional well-being. Another study on patients with multiple sclerosis showed that those who offered other MS patients peer support actually experienced greater benefits than their supported peers, including more pronounced improvement on confidence, self-awareness, self-esteem, depression and daily functioning. Those who offered support generally found that their lives were dramatically changed for the better.

Altruism and Increased Social Support -- Studies also show that what goes around generally does come around. More specifically, when people make altruistic personal sacrifices, they end up reaping what they sow in the form of favors from others. These individuals earn the reputation as altruistic people and end up receiving favors from others who they may not have even directly helped. The favors and social support you ‘earn’ through altruism, combined with the good feelings you get from helping others (see above), more than make up for sacrifices made in the name of altruism.

Keeping Things In Perspective -- Many people don’t realize the strong impact that their comparisons have on their outlook. However, your expectations of life and the people you compare yourself to can make a real difference in your level of life satisfaction. For example, your home may seem shabby to you if you’re comparing it to the living rooms you see in the pages of decorating magazines, or it may seem palatial and opulent compared to the structures inhabited by people in impoverished countries. Helping others in need, especially those who are less fortunate than you, can provide you with a sense of perspective on how fortunate you are to have what you do in life -- be it health, money, or a safe place to sleep, and help you focus less on the things you feel you lack. Helping others with their problems can also help you gain a more positive perspective on the things in life that cause you stress.

Building a Better Community -- When you do something nice for someone else, often the positive effects go beyond just you and that other person, influencing your whole community. One of my favorite illustrations of this phenomenon is in the movie Pay It Forward where one boy’s good deeds have far-reaching positive consequences. When you do nice things for others, you often enable them to do nice things for others, and the phenomenon grows. Your children and your friends may see your good example and behave in more altruistic ways as well. As Ghandi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world," and you can contribute to a more positive community.

Altruism and Stress Relief -- When you feel stressed and overwhelmed, you may feel like you’re least able to give. However, acts of altruism can be a great form of stress relief. Studies have shown that the act of giving can activate the area of the brain associated with positive feelings, lifting your spirits, and making you feel better the more you give. And given that altruism can lead to lasting emotional well-being, a more positive perspective, a positive effect on others, and better social standing, altruism certainly does the job as a healthy means for relieving stress and increasing life satisfaction.

Brunier G, Graydon J, Rothman B, Sherman C, Liadsky R. The Psychological Well-Being of Renal Peer Support Volunteers. Journal of Advanced Nursing. April 2002.
Schwartz CE, Sendor M. Helping Others Helps Oneself: Response Shift Effects in Peer Support. Social Science and Medicine. June 1999.
Harbaugh WT, Mayr U, Burghart DR. Neural Responses to Taxation and Voluntary Giving Reveal Motives for Charitable Donations. Science, June 2007.

Updated: November 24, 2007 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by Steven Gans, MD

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Welcome Christina C. Cat

I'd like to introduce you to Grammy's new kitten, Christina, or, as she is currently known, Krissy Kat. Isn't she adorable???

But, to really appreciate her charm, you must see her in action. (Since she never stays in the same place for more than a few seconds, a still photo cannot BEGIN to do her justice!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


By Richard Realf

Here: gathered from all places and all time,
The waifs of wisdom and of folly meet.
High thoughts that awe and lilting words that chime.
Like Sabbath bells heard in far valleys sweetly;
Quaint fancies, musical with dainty rhyme
Like the soft patter of infant’s feet;
And laughter radiant as summer skies,
And giant hopes looking out from human eyes.
With thrilling hymns that make the quick tears start.
And here, in garlands of strange fantasy
To catch the careless passer’s casual look,
And show, within the limits of a book,
Unto him his life’s own large epitome.

I started copying these quotes, poems and stories when I was 13 years old. I can’t remember now if it was this poem, or a lesson somewhere (which I have since heard on several occasions) that said "A good speaker is always on the look out for good material. Begin early in life, and collect every story, poem, quote, article, or thought you see, read, or hear that makes you think or touches your soul." I remembered getting Dad’s old Missionary I. P.* Book off the shelf from time to time to find a poem for a Primary talk, and there were LOTS of good things in it. So, I decided when I was 13 that I wanted to start my own IP book by copying everything in Dad’s IP Book.

I spent one whole summer carefully copying one or two pages a day on an old manual typewriter - - - which probably didn’t hurt my typewriting skills, either! But the project bogged down largely after that, and I didn’t make much progress with it over the next 10 years.

25 years ago this month, Dad died, and I managed to talk my brother into letting me have the IP Book "just until I can finish copying it onto computer. Then I’ll give it back, you can keep the original, and I'll make a CD for all of Dad's descendants." And I really *MEANT* to get it done soon . . . And I *did* work on it sporadically from time to time, making intermittent headway.

And then, Sherm was called to the High Council in his Stake, and I told myself, "I have REALLY got to get on the ball and get that book back to him." So, I made a SERIOUS PUSH to get it done, and I *think* he’s only been on the High Council for 3 years . . .

So, when Mom had to undergo some major surgery, and I was the only one who could spent 4-6 weeks with her nursing her through the rehab and therapy, I decided it was the PERFECT opportunity to get some of these long-term goals FINALLY accomplished.

During Mom’s first surgery, I took a tape recorder and a PILE of cassettes, and a book of questions, and got nearly 15 hours of recorded interviews with her, talking about her childhood, memories of her parents and grandparents and siblings, her courting years, me and my brother as babies - - - stuff I’d never known before. I guess my NEXT major project can be typing all of THAT up . . . !

During Mom’s second surgery, I took the last half of Dad’s IP Book, and I sat there, day after day, copying and typing, and sometimes categorizing while Mom watched one news report after another. And by the time I came home just before Christmas, I was close enough to finished that it only took a few more days to complete the task.

I shipped the Original IP Book, with Dad's handwritten notes (which was what he was really interested in having), off to Sherm with my blessings and thanks, and in February began the NEXT task: organizing the contents so they would be usable.

That has kept me occupied for the last 6 months, mostly on Sundays. This last Sunday, when I went to polish off the last 25 pages, I discovered, to my shock and horror, that the file had become corrupted -- I had lost 9 pages of material, and I had no idea whatsoever what was on it. But, God blessed me to be able to find one of the documents I had typed in St. George in my recycle bin that appears to have 90% of what was lost on it, and I found the other half of one corrupted poem online, so if I am missing anything, it isn’t much.

This afternoon,40 years after I copied my first quote from it . . . .
25 years after Dad died and I took possession of it . . .
5 years after I said "THIS is the year I FINISH IT . . ."
I truly completed copying Dad’s I. P. Book.

Now all that remains is to have Derrin turn it into a searchable book-on-CD so that our posterity can actually get some USE out of, so all my work doesn't just sit on a shelf.

(He says that’s EASY to do . . .)

* I. P. = Instant Preparation. The idea being, if you keep this book with you, you are ready at a moment's notice to stand up and give a talk on any subject at any time, complete with humorous stories, poignant poems, and scriptural references.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Like Father, Like Son

The older Hyrum gets, the more he looks JUST LIKE HIS FATHER!!!!

See if you don't agree!!
Doesn't look like the apple fell very far from THAT tree!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Comin' Home

We had a wonderful experience last week. We took our annual "Anniversary Honeymoon" Trip. But, this time was special in a number of ways.

We've now been married for 31 years, and while we are not usually able to take time off ON our anniversary, we have always been able to find a few days sometime within a few weeks on either side of our wedding day to "escape" from the demands of life and go away together to some designated "vacation getaway." I heartily recommend it as a time to find each other again through all the clutter of life, and rediscover your love for your spouse.

One of our favorite get-aways has come to be the Hilton Torrey Pines in La Jolla. So, when Derrin was asked to speak at a breakfast meeting there last week, we were *delighted* to accept. And as we drove down, we reviewed all the wonderful things we enjoy doing while we are in the San Diego area. There is never enough time to do half of them!

But, I have been suffering from some serious migraines again, and didn't feel up to a lot. So, our first day we chose to take it easy and just wander around our all-time favorite site: Sea Port Village -- a beautiful, romantic little treasure right on the ocean with over 50 marvelous little shops and a very inviting park.

When we were first married, Derrin and I started collecting music boxes on our annual anniversary trips. But, we kind of got out of the habit, first because we stopped being able to find something we really liked when we went on the trip, and then later, because it became more and more difficult to find a song we didn't already have. So, we haven't done an "anniversary music box" in AGES! even though we ALWAYS go into the music box stores (force of habit . ..)

But, this year, the music box store was the first store we visited, and there were these INCREDIBLE music box clocks!!! They had the most BEAUTIFUL sound, played 12 popular or 3 Christmas songs (you choose which) at the top of the hour, and the face of the clock splits, opens up and dances around, and there are hot air balloons underneath it that spin, and there's a CASTLE at the bottom of the clock! But, it's smart, so if it's night, it shuts up so it won't disturb you! It is SOOOOO COOOOL!! You guessed it - - - we got one in honor of our 30 years of married bliss!

We had all kinds of plans for our next day, but ultimately decided that what we would enjoy the most was staying at the beautiful hotel, enjoying it's amenities, taking a walk along the world-class golf course, and playing games together - - - in short, just spending time together - - - something that has been in rather short supply over the last year! It was the most wonderful, restful day I think I've ever had!

The next (and last) day we had scheduled a visit to the exquisite San Diego Temple, and it is really this which has prompted this blog entry.

As we came up the path to the front door of the temple, there was no one else there. No one going in; no one coming out. But while we were still 30' away (much too far away to trigger an electric eye), the doors opened in greeting, as if the temple itself was eager to see us and couldn't *wait* for us to come in! I felt SOOO welcome!

I admit, I've had a love-affair with this particular temple ever since we were driving to San Diego for some other business event, and saw it there by the freeway, not knowing what it was. It was so breathtaking, we simply *had* to get off the freeway and wander around until we found it so we could learn what it was . . . . And then, to find out it was OUR temple!!! WHAT a thrill.

As we handed in our recommends to gain entrance to the main body of the temple, I felt such gratitude that, with all my faults and weaknesses, I can still be counted worthy to enter His House. And as we rounded the corner and began to ascend the stairs, a feeling of "home" came over me that I find difficult to describe. This place was my home. It is where I belong.

Now, I must do what I can to get my own home to more closely resemble that one . . . .

Friday, August 8, 2008

Political Musings

I'll be perfectly honest with you here: this election terrifries me.

I mean, I've been increasingly worried about every election since Nixon faced McGovern in 1972. The stakes get higher and the issues hotter with every passing decade. And now, here we are, having somehow survived into the 21st Century, and everywhere I look, I see madness. Men marrying men; women murdering their unborn children; parents who just can't *wait* to dump their little ones into state-run institutions so they can pursue dreams of wealth; and now school books that, by LAW, are forbidden to MENTION "father," "mother," and "family;" birth certificates required to list "parent 1" and "parent 2" - - - it's a genealogists' nightmare!!!

Pres. Reagan quoted an anonymous source in two separate speeches, which have since been merged into the following quote: "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.'

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

3. From great courage to liberty;

4. From liberty to abundance;

5. From abundance to complacency;

6. From complacency to apathy;

7. From apathy to dependence on government;

8. From dependence on government back into bondage."

Depending on whether you count the beginning our OUR Republic as 1776, when we officially signed the Declaration of Independence, or 1787, when the Constitution was finally drafted and approved, we crossed that 200-year line while I was in college or when my children were young. I can't see that we've made any progress in holding the line since then . . . except perhaps during the Reagan years, when, for a brief time, we could be proud to be Americans again.

And now we are embroiled in another election, and this time it seems our whole way of life is at stake. . . perhaps our very survival as a nation and a civilization. And I am terrified.

I am not a political person. I am not married to a particular party. . . although I *do* tend to vote for candidates from one party, it is because I feel they best represent my views and will do the best job of representing me on the State or Federal level.

An email has been making the rounds lately in response to Barak Obama's recent visit to Iraq, talking about how he brushed off the soldiers and only "made nice" when there was media present. I also received an email from a former Marine, commenting: "McCain did the same thing in Iraq (protected visits, etc). Obama did speak with soldiers in Iraq. These political types have tight schedules. I wouldn't make too much of this. I think the issues facing our country are far too important to let something like this make our decision for us. For once, we have a real choice!"

This has weighed on my mind, and this evening I sent him the following email:

I think it is a serious mistake to vote for someone - - - anyone! - - - based solely on their campaign rhetoric. Both parties will say and do *anything* to get elected. And what we hear them say in sound bites more accurately represents what their campaign managers feel the public wants to hear than it does the core beliefs of the candidates. To know what kind of person we are voting for, what kind of choice we are making, it is FAR more important to look at the man, his history, his stated public opinions when the cameras *weren't* on him, than to make a big hullabaloo over who he did or did not shake hands with on a big publicity-stunt tour.

And, frankly, Sir, *that* is where this election really scares me. I don't care for either one of the major candidates. So, I'm not here to ask you to vote for either man. My only hope in writing to you is that, before you cast your vote, you will look at who the candidates are when they are alone at night, after the cameras have turned off for the day --- who they pray to - - - what their experience demonstrates their character to be - - - and consider who you want sitting in the oval office WHEN, not if, the terrorists make their next successful strike on mainland USA."

I did not include anything else, because I know I'm not going to persuade anyone of anything. But, here is what I am most concerned about re Barak Obama: Read what he has to say about and for himself:

From Audacity of Hope: 'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.'

From Dreams of My Father: ; 'It remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.'

I don't care that the man is half black. Heck, I'd vote for Alan Keyes in a heartbeat!! Race is unimportant to me; who the man is loyal to is what is important to me; who his heroes are are important; what he stands for and his vision of America is what is important.
I also find these arguements persuasive:

Obama's 143 Days of Senate Experience
Posted by Cheri JacobusMay 5, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Just how much Senate experience does Barack Obama have in terms of actual work days? Not much.
From the time Barack Obama was sworn in as a United State Senator, to the time he announced he was forming a Presidential exploratory committee, he logged 143 days of experience in the Senate. That's how many days the Senate was actually in session and working.
After 143 days of work experience, Obama believed he was ready to be Commander In Chief, Leader of the Free World, and fill the shoes of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan.
143 days -- I keep leftovers in my refrigerator longer than that.
In contrast, John McCain's 26 years in Congress, 22 years of military service including 1,966 days in captivity as a POW in Hanoi now seem more impressive than ever. At 71, John McCain may just be hitting his stride.

Now, I know a man should not be judged by his wife. But, I think you can tell a lot *about* a man by the kind of woman he keeps company with; the kind of woman who stands beside and inspires him. And, while the First Lady has no official power, there is no question any more about her power and influence. When we choose a President, we also choose a First Lady, and we would be wise to consider our options there carefully, as well.

But, I think I have probably pontificated long enough. You can look up the achievements of these two women for yourself and decide who you would rather have beside the most powerful man on earth when you stand in the voting box this November.
Who most nearly represents your views, hopes, and dreams for this country?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Speaking of Books . . .

C. S. Lewis once wrote: "If good stories are comments on life, good novels of fantasy are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensastions we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience. Specimens of this kind will never be common. . . . Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings," David Linday's "A Voyage to Arcturus," Melvyn Peake's "Titus Groan" -- and William Hope Hodgson's "The Night Land," from the unforgetable sombre splendour of the images it presents."

Based on this "recommendation," I read all of those above-mentioned books (and every book in each series, when one was more than a single volume), and I agree that they each have a special charm. EAch does, indeed, give sensations never experienced before. But, I would not recommend Lindsay or Peake to the casual reader. (Nor, truth be told, would the average reader appreciate Hodgson!!!) They are simply too far "out there." But, I *DO* recommend "The Night Land," even if it *is* hard to reach.

And thus we come to the purpose of this blog post: I have heretofor listed various and sundry other's people's "Best Of" book lists. I shall now present a VERY BRIEF list which I think of as my "C. S. Lewis Books-That-Changed-My-Life" list. I can and do heartily recommend each and every one. They are not all fiction; not all the fiction is fantasy; they are in no particular order; but each has touched me and changed my life. A day does not go by that I do not find myself thinking about a lesson I learned from one or more of them; certainly a month does not go by that I do not reflect on each of them. Perhaps I should post future blogs reviewing each book and explaining it's influence on me . . . .

In any event, here is my "Essentials" List:

C. S. Lewis -- The Screwtape Letters

The Book of Mormon

Ester Rasband -- Confronting the Myth of Self-Esteem

Stephen R. Covey -- The Divine Center

Dallin H. Oaks -- Pure in Heart

Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott -- Absent in the Spring

Paul Dunn -- I challenge You/I Promise You

Richard Eyre -- The Discovery of Joy

Cheiko Okazaki -- Lighten Up!

William Hope Hodgson -- The Night Land

Madeleine L'Engle -- A Wrinkle in Time

Madelein L'Engle -- A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Ayn Rand -- Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand -- Anthem

J. R. R. Tolkein -- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The list is not a complete list of my favorite books, for i have not included ANY of the "Dragon Riders of Pern" series, or any Harry Potter, or any of Elizabeth Kern's wonderful dragon trilogy . . . But they do not belong on this list. For, although I THOROUGHLY enjoyed them, and many of them were a "better read" than some of the titles in the above list, none of them made me a different person when I finished, and THAT is my criteria for this posting.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bookworms . . . Then, and Now

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. The Harry Potter Series JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (well, maybe not absolutely EVERY work . . .)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - - - Nope. Not gonna. Seriously
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert -- In fact, read the ENTIRE DUNE SERIES!!!!
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce - - - (Didn't have to . . . I read Homer in the original Greek!)
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte's Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - read the COMPLETE WORKS, actually
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So, let's see - - - on Today's List, I score 20.

Now, compare this with Eaton Press' list of the 100 Greatest Books Ever Written and see how you do:

1. A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
2. A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce
3. A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
4. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Twain
5. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by A. Conan Doyle
6. Aesop's Fables
7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Carroll
8. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
9. Billy Budd/Benito Cereno by Herman Melville
10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
11. Candide by Voltaire
12. Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky
13. David Copperfield by Dickens
14. Don Quixote by Cervantes
15. Euripedes by Euripedes
16. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
17. Faust by Goethe
18. Great Expectations by Dickens
19. Grimm's Fairy Tales by Grimm
20. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. The History of Early Rome by Livy
23. Ivanhoe by Walter Scott
24. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
25. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
26. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
27. Little Women by Alcott
28. Lord Jim by Conrad
29. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
30. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
31. Oedipus the King by Sophocles
32. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
33. On the Origin of Species by Darwin
34. Paradise Lost by John Milton
35. Plato Dialogues on Love and Friendship by Plato (in the original Greek, no less)
36. Poems of John Keats by Keats
37. Politics and Poetics by Aristotle
38. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
39. The Rights of Man by Paine
40. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
41. She Stoops To Conquer by Goldsmith
42. Short Stories by Oscar Wild
43. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Stevenson
44. Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Poe
45. The Federalist by Hamilton
46. The Aeneid by Virgil
47. The Alhambra by Washington Irving
48. The Analects of Confucius by Confucius
49. The Arabian Nights by Burton
50. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Franklin
51. The Birds and the Frogs by Aristophanes
52. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
53. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
54. The Comedies by Shakespeare
55. The Confessions of Jean by Jacques Rousseau
56. The Confessions of St. Augustine by Augustine
57. The Decameron by Boccaccio
58. The Descent of Man by Darwin
59. The Divine Comedy by Dante
60. The Essayes by Francis Bacon
61. The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson by Emerson
62. The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
63. The Histories by Shakespeare
64. The Iliad of Homer by Homer
65. The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
66. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
67. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Stern
68. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
69. The Odyssey of Homer by Homer
70. The Oresteia by Aeschylus
71. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
72. The Poems of John Donne by Donne
73. The Poems of Robert Browning by Browning (not all, but a goodly number of 'em)
74. The Poems of W.B. Yeats by Yeats
75. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
76. The Prince by Machiavelli
77. The Red and the Black by Stendhal
78. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
79. The Republic by Plato
80. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
81. The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne
82. The Sea Wolf by Jack London
83. The Short Stories by Dickens
84. The Tales of Guy de Maupassant by De Maupassant
85. The Talisman by Scott
86. The Three Musketeers by Dumas
87. The Tragedies by Shakespeare
88. The Way of all Flesh by Butler
89. Three Plays by Henrik Ibsen
90. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
91. Treasure Island by Stevenson
92. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
93. Two Plays by Moliere
94. Two Plays for Puritans by George Bernard Shaw
95. Two Plays The Cherry Orchard/Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov
96. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
97. Vanity Faire by William Makepeace Thackeray
98. Walden by Thoreau
99. War and Peace by Tolstoy
100. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Of THIS 100, I score 25.

And then, there's the 100 Favorite Novels of Librarians - - - they should know a thing or three:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Austen
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee
3. Jane Eyre by Bronte
4. Gone with the Wind by Mitchell
5. Lord of the Rings by Tolkien

6. The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger
7. Little Women by Alcott
8. A Prayer of Owen Meany by Irving
9. The Stand by King
10. The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald
11. Mists of Avalon by Bradley
12. David Copperfield by Dickens
13. Kristen Lavransdotter by Undset
14. Beloved by Morrison
15. Age of Innocence by Wharton
16. The Shell Seekers by Pilcher
17. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Hardy
18. The World According to Garp by Irving
19. Catch 22 by Heller
20. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Auel
21. The Horse Whisperer by Evans
22. Pillars of the Earth by Follett
23. Prince of Tides by Conroy
24. Possession by Byatt
25. Rebecca by DuMaurier
26. Follow the River by Thom
27. My Antonia by Cather
28. The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway
29. The Scarlet Letter by Hawthorne
30. Sophies Choice by Styron
31. Snow Falling on Cedars by Guterson
32. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez
33. Name of the Rose by Eco
34. The Giver by Lowry
35. Cold Mountain by Frazier
36. Cold Sassy Tree by Burns
37. Atlas Shrugged by Rand
38. Bridge to Terebithia by Paterson
39. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Tyler
40. The Hobbit by Tolkien
41. Les Miserables bt Hugo
42. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis
43. Wuthering Heights by Bronte
44. A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
45. Huckelberry Finn by Twain
46. Alice in Wonderland by Carroll
47. The Wind in the Willows by Grahame
48. The Bean Trees by Kingsolving
49. Ben Hur by Wallace
50. And Then There Were None by Christie
51. The Secret Garden by Burnett
52. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Taylor
53. Busman's Honeymoon by Sayers
54. Schindler's List by Keneally
55. Emma by Austen
56. The Color Purple by Walker
57. The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas
58. Charlotte's Web by White
59. Anne of Green Gables by Montgomery
60. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Wells
61. Lady Chatterly's Lover by Lawrence
62. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Smith
63. East of Eden by Steinbeck
64. The Once and Future King by White
65. Enders Game by Card
66. The Fountainhead by Rand
67. A Patchwork Planet by Tyler
68. Gaudy Night by Sayers
69. Shogun by Clavell
70. Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck
71. Handmaid's Tale by Atwood
72. Lonesome Dove by McMurtry
73. Outlander by Gabaldon
74. Pigs in Heaven by Kingsolver
75. Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut
76. Jude the Obscure by Hardy
77. Time and Again by Finney
78. Misery by King
79. A Christmas Carol by Dickens
80. The Accidental Tourist by Tyler
81. Giants of the Earth by Rolvaag
82. Persuasion by Austen
83. Fried Green Tomatoes by Flagg
84. Tisha by Specht
85. The Thornbirds by McCullough
86. Christy by Marshall
87. Lost Horizon by Hilton
88. The Little Princ by St. Exupery
89. Fahrenheight 451 by Bradbury
90. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway
91. Frankenstein by Shelley
92. Bleak House by Dickens
93. Boy's Life by McCammon
94. Chesapeake by Michener
95. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Adams
96. How Green Was My Valley by Llewellyn
97. Howard's End by Forster
98. I, Robot by Asimov
99. Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
100. A Passage to India by Forster

(When *I* was a librarian in Jr. High, we pretty quickly figured out which were the best books!)
Let's see . . . of *those* I score only 17! $:-(

I've been searching for days for the 1975 BYU Honors Program List of Books Every Educated Person Should Read. That was my "Lifetime Goal List" as I graduated from College. Unfortunately, so far, I haven't managed to lay my hands on it. So, you'll have to tune in again later to see if I've come across it in my travels.

Well, I'm getting autosave failures, so I'm guessing this blog is already too long. So, I'd best post it while I can . . . . (Although I *really* wanted to do a comparison study of these 3 lists to see which books appear on each . . .)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Emergency Preparedness

I know, *EVERYBODY* and their small dog is harping about preparedness, thanks to the Gap Fire! (Thank you, Santa Barbara Independent, for this STUNNING photo!!!)

Sometimes, it takes a real emergency to get our attention and focus us on what really matters. So, I hope you will bear with me as I reminisce for a moment.

As I sat here alone last Wednesday, waiting for Derrin to return from Florida, and watching the flames creep ever closer, I began considering what I would grab should I have to evacuate - - - a very real possibility.

Of course, living creatures first, and I thanked God that all I had to worry about THIS time around was cats; with the Painted Cave fire, we had small children as well.

Then, grab the computers!! If we lose them, we're sunk.

After that, it used to be a toss-up: do we grab all the handwork I have spent my life creating, or do we first grab the family history and journals? With several people at home, that's not an issue, because everyone can be sent to collect some of each. When it's just me . . . .

And then I realized that things are different now than they were 20 years ago.

I have spent the last 20 years (well, 15 at least!) transferring all our genealogical data to . . . COMPUTER!!!! Including scanning in all the proof documents and precious family photos I could get my hands on.

I'd *rather* have the originals. But, as long as I had the computers, I had the genealogy. And all the pictures of Baby Hyrum. And a good piece of our music collection.

As an added bonus, when Derrin got home he reminded me that we also had off-site backup for everything. So, should the worst happen, (which, Praise God, it didn't!) our most important files are being preserved elsewhere.

What a wonderful day we live in! Computers allow us to access information of all kinds at the touch of a button (or click of a mouse); the gospel has been restored to give purpose and meaning to our lives and to allow us the opportunity to bless our kindred dead; with cell phones and blackberries we can keep in touch with worried relatives, wherever they may be, and get virtually instantaneous fire updates to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Now, as the fire moves away from us, let us not forgot to offer prayers of thanks as earnest as were our prayers for protection last week. And let us remember to GET that "Emergency Evacuation Closet" (that we TALKED about 20 years ago - - - with the list of "What to Grab First" on the door) FINALLY pulled together, so we won't have to go running around the house grabbing stuff next time we have an emergency. And, let's make it a higher priority to get the rest of our family history digitized, with a copy someplace else, so that if our house burns down while we're out of town, we won't have lost the work of a lifetime.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

For the second year in a row, I have had the honor of riding in the Santa Barbara "Spirit of 76" 4th of July Parade down State Street representing the Mission Canyon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Last year, we rode in a horse-drawn "school wagon." This year, we were hoping to have 2 decorated convertibles loaded with Daughters, with several younger girls walking ahead of the cars carrying our big banner . . . but it didn't work out quite that way. On the other hand, last year it cost each participant $40; this year we didn't wind up spending much of anything on what we DID have, and folks who came were very enthusiastic, so it turned out very well indeed.

I thought I had about 10 folks who were going to participate, until the Gap Fire hit Goleta, and suddenly folks didn't dare leave their houses because of the poor air quality, or because they weren't sure they'd be able to get back home again if they came down to be in the parade, or because they had already evacuated! But, my #2 Vice Regent had a daughter, and a granddaughter, and a son-in-law with his own convertible who was willing to let us use it, and my dear friend, Marie-Louise, pointed me in the direction of a lovely woman who wanted to be in it with us, so in the end we had one classic car full of Daughters, and enough decorations to make a good presentation.

Last year, we felt quite honored to be placed #6 in line; this year, we were #4!! But, I think 2 of the first 4 entries never showed, because we never saw anybody in front of us except some folks dressed in Revolutionary War costumes!!! What a fabulous (in my *humble* opinion!!) way to kick off an Independence Day parade!!! Dig out the Costumes, remind folks of the origin of the celebration, then show off some of the descendants of those who gave their lives to make it possible. Then, go ahead and show off the High School Marching Bands and the military helicopter and stuff . . .

The little 6-year-old girl sitting on the back of the car was a HUGE HIT! AT first, it was hot, and she wasn't having much fun. But, when she saw her Great-Grandmother had come up to see her in the parade, and then started noticing some of her school friends in the crowd, she became a LOT more animated, and was smiling and waving to everyone, which really got the crowd cheering back for her! I'm hoping we'll get a pic in the DAR newsletter saying "3 generations in 1 car represent the Mission Canyon Chapter"

And everyone was SO CLOSE you could really talk to them! It's really amazing how "up close and personal" this parade is - - - more so than any other parade I've ever been in, and more so in the small car than last year in the school wagon. I was thanking one of the officers who was directing traffic, and he wandered over to the car and said, "I'm of German extraction, but my Wife has revolutionary war ancestry. Boy, I can hardly WAIT for my daughter to join you guys!"
It's a wonderful feeling, driving down a flag-lined street, with hundreds of people lining both sides of the road, many of them families with small children, lots of people waving flags, sharing greetings of "Happy Independence Day" or "Happy 4th of July!" To see the parents tell their little children that OUR great-grandfathers fought with Washington gives me hope that something of our noble heritage will be passed on to the next generation.

And that's what the DAR and celebrations like Memorial Day and the 4th of July are all about.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Proud to be an AMERICAN

Not a Norwegian-American; not an English-American; not a German-American - - - although I *do* descend from immigrants from all of those countries. All of whom came to these shores with a dream of a better life, and a determination to work hard to make their dreams come true.

But, because all those diverse peoples came here with the same goal, they set aside the past, and became ONE NATION, even as the original 13 colonies, despite their differences in culture and economics and belief systems, worked to come together as UNITED STATES.

You can make a beautiful building with stones of all sizes, shapes, and colors as long as they are all united with the same mortar. But, when the stones begin taking honor unto themselves, and working themselves lose from the wall in an attempt to prove that they are better than the rest of the wall because they are green or blue or have yellow specks in them, the wall will quickly crumble. We can, and should, honor our heritage; we should always remember the wonderful blessings we or our forefathers came here to realize. But, now we are here, it is time to put the past aside and be AMERICANS. Because we cannot effectively be loyal to more than one country/cause/conscience at a time. As Pres. Lincoln so eloquently put it, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

At the risk of letting on to how old I am, I must confess to having sat with my grandfather's arm around my shoulder watching TV when I first heard Red Skelton give this moving presentation:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

"I - Me; an individual; a committee of one.
"Pledge - Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.
"Allegiance - My love and my devotion.
"To the Flag - Our standard; Old Glory; a symbol of Freedom; wherever she waves there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, Freedom is everybody's job.
"United - That means that we have all come together.
"States - Individual communities that have united into forty-eight great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is love for country.
"And to the Republic - Republic--a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern.
"For which it stands- And government is the people; and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
"One Nation Under God - One Nation--meaning, so blessed by God.
"Indivisible - Incapable of being divided.
"With Liberty - Which is Freedom; the right of power to live one's own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.
"And Justice - The principle, or qualities, of dealing fairly with others.
"For All - For All--which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.

"Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God. Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, too?" - Red Skelton

I remember the sense of peace and security I always felt near my grandfather; I remember the feeling of joy and pride in my country, the greatest nation on earth, as I heard Red recite and explain those stirring words.

I can't help but wonder if our current national climate of appeasement will leave anything for my grandson to find pride in. . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Convincing Statistics

From Top MSNBC Headlines: "If you smoke, start thinking of yourself as a decade older than you really are. A 55-year-old man who smokes has almost the same chance of dying in the next 10 years as a 65-year-old who's never smoked — a stark example from newly published charts that aim to put some of Americans' biggest health risks into context.

"The charts — intended for posting in doctors' offices — stress age, gender and smoking status, not more personal risk factors such as a history of cancer in the family. Among the charts' bottom-line messages:
"Risks change with age. Accidents, for example, are the single largest cause of death for men who don't smoke until age 45. Then, accidents are tied with heart disease until 50, when heart risks take over.
"Smoking overwhelmingly worsens chances of survival. For example, 7 of every 1,000 women will die of breast cancer between ages 60 and 70 — but 14 of 1,000 will die of heart disease in that period, the charts note. Among smokers, however, the charts show 31 of 1,000 women will die of heart disease between ages 60 and 70, and another 41 of 1,000 will die of lung cancer."

To read the whole article, go to:

Which all goes to show . . . well, several points:

1. Isaiah 55:8, 9

2. We need God's guidance as much, if not more, today than at any other time in the world's history.

3. Amos 3:7

4. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of a Living, Loving God, Who knows all things and cares enough to warn us in advance so we can be prepared and/or avoid today's pitfalls. In 1833, he received this revelation, known as The Word of Wisdom:

" Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—

" That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

" And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

" And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.

"And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

" And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—

" Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

" Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

" And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

" All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

" And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

" All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—

" Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

" And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

" And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

" And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

" And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen. "

The more time goes by, the more science "catches on" to the wisdom declared here.
This new "Headline News" is just the latest example.

Friday, June 6, 2008

God Loves Orchids Just As Much As Poppies

My dad used to scare the hell out of me by quoting scriptures about the direst prophecies he could find relating to the Last Days. And then, when I was a blubbering puddle of goo, terrified out of my mind, I would say something like, "You make me feel like the vilest creature that ever walked on the face of the earth." And he would inevitably reply, "Well, there's no smoke without a fire." And then he would turn and walk away, leaving me to try, somehow, to pull the pieces together.

I guess he was trying to "toughen me up." Because when I left for college, I heard him tell my mother, "She's a hot house flower that's been coddled and protected all her life. The first cold wind that blows is going to shrivel her up and destroy her."

Well, Dad, I'm afraid it didn't work. But, I've now lived longer than you did, and I haven't shriveled up yet, either. But, I'm about to.

I've had to give up watching daily news broadcasts years ago. The Top Stories of man's inhumanity to man (and woman) began to so disturb me that I was unable to sleep at night, and when I did sleep, I would have nightmares. The only solution was to stop exposing myself to the source of my stress.

But, I *would* follow stores of natural disasters, because I find that floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. always bring out the best in people as they are moved with compassion to help those whose lives have been devastated.

But, even that has turned into a mixed blessing.

Perhaps part of it is because of our greater ability to get news quickly with our modern technologies; perhaps part of it is the tremendously increased number of news agencies, each vying to be the first to report something new; I tend to believe it's because we are seeing the fulfillment of all those prophecies Dad kept quoting at me . . . . As I have followed the stores of typhoons, earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, tsunamis, I have noticed a geometric increase in the number and severity of these incidents. (Outside of history books, who had ever HEARD of a tsunami 10 years ago??? Last fall, one of our favorite TV shows was interrupted by a tsunami warning!!!!! Here in California!! We don't have tsumanis - - - we have earthquakes!)

And now, the California Supreme Court, in a 4 to 3 decision, has chosen to open Pandora's Box and destroy civilization as we know it. Despite clear evidence that their flagrant disregard of the will of the people will not be allowed to stand, and in a rude gesture to half the Union who have already put Marriage Amendments in place in their Constitutions, and 10 states who begged them to hold off until an election could be held because of the legal catastrophe this will unleash throughout the country, these 4 judges have placed their opinions above law, above reason, above sanity, and have opened the door to chaos.

Well, Dad, I guess you were right. I must be a tender plant, because this has done me in. For the sake of my health, my blood pressure, and my sanity, I'm going to have to stop reading my email alerts, stop signing petitions and stop contacting senators. I've tried so hard to do what I can to support the causes I believe in. I will never give up my right to vote! And I will continue to pray that God will open the eyes and hearts of people throughout this state and this nation, that perhaps we may turn our feet aside from this disastrous path before it is too late.

But, I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I've come to the conclusion that God doesn't want a garden full of nothing but poppies and dandelions. Even in the gardens of men, there are beautiful, tender flowers that require care and protection, which some men are willing to pay vast sums of money to obtain and to care for. Some of these rare blossoms will whither if you touch them, but their beauty and fragrance is, to these collectors, worth the effort required.

If even men can find such value in a rare and tender plant, then surely God, also, has a place for orchids in His garden. And, if all the use the masses can find for flower blossoms is to strew them along the road so they can dance on them on their path to the cliff, then it becomes the duty of the flower to remove itself from the reach of the masses.

When the boys were young, and the world would begin to press a little too closely, we would "put our shields up," and play nothing but Sabbath appropriate music, and do other things to drive Satan and his minions nuts so they couldn't stand the atmosphere around here and would leave us alone. I have decided it is time to do that again, for my own protection.

Two years ago, Elder David R. Stone of the Seventy gave a talk in General Conference which resonated with my soul. I heard his words again today as I contemplated this posting:

"My involvement with the building of the Manhattan temple gave me the opportunity to be in the temple quite often prior to the dedication. It was wonderful to sit in the celestial room and be there in perfect silence, without a single sound to be heard coming from the busy New York streets outside. How was it possible that the temple could be so reverently silent when the hustle and bustle of the metropolis was just a few yards away?

"The answer was in the construction of the temple. The temple was built within the walls of an existing building, and the inner walls of the temple were connected to the outer walls at only a very few junction points. That is how the temple (Zion) limited the effects of Babylon, or the world outside.

"There may be a lesson here for us. We can create the real Zion among us by limiting the extent to which Babylon will influence our lives. . . .

"Wherever we are, whatever city we may live in, we can build our own Zion by the principles of the celestial kingdom and ever seek to become the pure in heart. Zion is the beautiful, and the Lord holds it in His own hands. Our homes can be places which are a refuge and protection, as Zion is."

(For the full text of his remarks, go to:

My home needs to be such a refuge. I need to build my own "hot house" so I can become the beautiful orchid God meant for me to be.

Sorry, Dad. I was never intended to be a poppy. Throwing dirt on a rose won't turn it into a dandelion. It's not easy, being an orchid. But, God has a use for me, as an orchid, which I could not fulfill were I a daisy. And so I shall retreat now into my Mountain Monastery to listen to the monks chant, to take the cooling waters, and to refresh my soul, and to try to ignore the raging fires burning down the forests around me.