Saturday, May 31, 2008

May Winners

Remember way back 31 days ago at the beginning of the month of May, when I announced I would give a prize (it's creative bookmarks) to the person who made the most comments on my blog? 

Well, guess who the #1 winner is- my friend Caryn again with 35 comments out of 40 blogs she could have com-mented on, but she already won a prize last month-a writing book. So runner-up is Musings with 23 comments but she is moving to Hawaii. The 3rd place winner is Dellgirl with 10 comments. 

Congrats Leona, a new friend who is also a writer, read her blog. Please email me your address and I'll send a little prize your way-several handmade jeweled bookmarks so fun and practical for those of us who like to read. (Thanks to Caryn who taught me recently how to make them. See photo above of prize.)

Other runners-ups are Chandi-5 comments, Teacher Retired-5, Susi Q-4, Dawn-4, Alicia-4, and Carla-4. Keep the comments coming and you may win a prize in the new month. Thanks, on to June, fun summer activities and vacations!

Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm published again

This time it's in Desert Saints, published in Las Vegas and I get paid for this article, amazing! Download June 2008 issue on p. 20 for my article "Remembering My Father" or read below:

Every Father’s Day, as I sit quietly in church listening to someone honor their father, I remember my dad Stanley Vernon’s last day on earth.

It was a hot late summer evening June 18, 1945. We had just returned from a ride in my Dad’s plane and were met at the airport by the Rowley family who wanted an airplane ride. Dad agreed to give them a short ride before dark. Seated together in the front seat of Dad’s small piper cub airplane was George Rowley and his only child, beautiful dark haired nine year old, Mary Lou.

Only minutes earlier, my mom and I had been in the front seat of the blue and yellow canvas covered airplane with its lightweight aluminum frame. Dad sat behind us as the pilot, as we soared over the barren hills and high mountain deserts of Milford, Utah. Four years old, I loved to fly with my parents and look down at the fascinating landscape below us. Now my mom and I were sitting in the car, waiting with Mrs. Rowley for our family members to return from their plane ride.

My dad got interested in flying during World War II and had great plans to open up a flying service in our little town in southern Utah. The plane he bought was used, leftover from military flight training. Purchased for such a good price, he had just learned to fly and got his pilot’s license before flying the plane home from California. His enthusiasm was high for adventure. He had built his own ham radio set and taught himself the Morse code. This helped him get a job as a train dispatcher for the Union Pacific Railroad. Just out of high school, he had started working with the railroad on the road gang, repairing and maintaining the tracks in hot arid Nevada. Now, he was married to his sweetheart, Evelyn Johnson, from Silver City, Utah. He was a family man with a young daughter to support, a good job, living comfortably in a company home near his parents. Life was good!

Deferred from military service because of his important work on the railroad moving American soldiers and supplies to both coasts, the long war was almost over. His younger brother, Weston, had joined the army and was stationed in the South Pacific. We all worried about Weston’s safety in a combat zone, but he would come home safely. Dad had assured everyone including his wife and parents that flying an airplane was safer than fighting in the war or driving an automobile.

Then suddenly, a sharp crack filled the air and before our stunned eyes, Dad’s plane fell directly toward earth and crashed nose first into the hard ground below. Within a few seconds, all future plans were shattered. Two dads and one little girl were suddenly gone. Two families forever changed. “Killed because of some mechanical failure in the airplane,” they said in the papers that reported the accident the next day. “Death was instantaneous.” said the death certificates.

We had watched the plane crash before our very eyes from our car while awaiting their return. Quickly we drove to the crash site. Already there were workers from the nearby mine assembled. They kept us from seeing the mangled bodies of our loved ones. I remember sitting in the hot car wondering what was going on. My mom and Mary Lou’s mother were in shock. I didn’t realize what drastic changes would come into my previously uneventful young life. Later as I sat on my mom’s lap at my grandparents home while they were told the tragic news, I remember hugging my mom and telling her that everything will be all right. I’ll take care of you… as she cried and cried.

How do you explain death to a child? Daddy’s gone away, he won’t be back. He’s gone to live in heaven, only brings further questions. Why? To which there is no answer. Many times I would hear my mom cry late at night in the dark in the bed we now shared. She had also lost her father to stomach cancer when she was only four years old

Separated by death for a very long sixty-three years, my parents have now been reunited after my mom’s death in Jan 15, 2007. A year later, I felt my mom’s promptings from beyond the veil to do her temple work and have them sealed together. This I did and have also been sealed to my parents as if I had been born in the covenant. What a blessing to now have an eternal family awaiting me when I one day rejoin them. This Father’s Day I’ll remember my dad’s last day on earth and picture him together with my mom awaiting my return.

They did it!

Took the challenge from Musings, and three of the five bloggers I tagged came up with a six word title for their memoirs. Read their blogs for more info:

1. Hollow Thoughts-Caryn?
2. Susi Q-Desperately Seeking Confirmations on Future Decisions
3. Carla-"I want to save them all," an ambitious animal lover
4. Linda letters-"Learning happens, content is what matters", and "Look out the teacher is coming"
5. Gills Thrills-Chandee?

Try it yourself. Share your memoir title in a comment on my blog. My title was/is "Creative writer seeking publishing, meaningful connections."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Article #7 Grandma's Outhouse

I bet not one of my grandkids has any idea what an outhouse is. I remember, all too well, the old outhouse at my Grandma’s house in Silver City, Utah. It was a small wooden shed about four feet square, sitting behind grandma’s house in the back yard. Built over a deep pit, the outhouse had a door in the front. Inside was a bench with two holes for sitting on and doing your business. There were old Montgomery Ward catalogs to read while sitting there, and they could be used afterwards for cleanup. It was not a pleasant smelling place, so I made my trips there as short as possible. Usually, my mom or grandma came along with me because as a small child, I was afraid of falling in. Sometimes lime was sprinkled in the pit to cut odors or the inside of the outhouse scrubbed with lye.

Outhouses were notorious as an object of Halloween pranks in my mom’s day. Several mischievous teenage boys would descend in the dark upon an outhouse, turn it over or move it somewhere else––like onto a barn roof. That was supposed to be hilariously funny, but not for the owners who had an urgent need for their outhouses. If the urge came in the night or if it was cold or stormy weather outside, every body had chamber pots under their beds. These, of course, needed to be emptied the next morning in the outhouse by someone ––usually mom. Things like toilets and running water in pipes that we take for granted these days were luxuries unimagined in my grandma’s day.

An absolutely essential part of any household, outhouses disappeared when indoor plumbing became popular and modern flush toilets were introduced to the rural areas. Grandma’s youngest daughter Ethel, after she married, was the one to buy a new toilet for her mom. It was installed inside in a small clothes closet in the corner of Grandma’s bedroom. A septic tank was dug in the backyard to collect the wastewater from the toilet, and the household water was plumbed in pipes to connect the house to the septic tank. Before this time all waste water from the kitchen sink had been hauled outside in buckets and emptied. Grandma was thrilled when she finally had a kitchen drain and an indoor flush toilet that worked. You thought she’d won the lottery!

(Photos: Uncle Norman in front of the outhouse in Silver City, and my Grandma Johnson.)

Time to Comment

Thanks to all who are registered with Google and can sign in and make comments on my blog. Many friends and relatives I've seen lately tell me they read my blog but have never made a comment or their password doesn't work anymore. It's not that hard to comment, if you want to just remain "anonymous" and not register. Just click on "comments", then in the empty text box and type in your comment, end with your first name at the end so I know who you are, click "anonymous" at the bottom then "submit." It's that easy then you will have "made my day" by knowing that someone has read my blog and cared enough to comment on it. (Thanks Gittan.) 

I also offer my help to anyone who would like to start a blog. It's not that difficult and I can help you by email or over the phone. That's how I got started. (Thanks again Susi Q.) It is fun!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

If only...

a comment from my friend Caryn reminds me of regrets...if onlys. How many times do we say this to ourselves? If only...I were thinner, younger, more educated, more talented, had more friends, etc. What if we substituted I am so grateful that... I have good health, have lived such a long life, still have my senses, am interested in life or have the dear friends I have made over the years. Too many of us live in the world of regret rather than the world of gratitude and new possibilities. Looking for serendipity in each day can brighten our world. New doors are always opening.

I have a dear friend in Sweden named Gittan, we see each other only every few years but our friendship has grown over the years through email, letters, and phone calls. Now we can talk face to face with skype. I truly appreciate all my friends that contribute to my life and the new ones I am making blogging. Each person we met adds so much to our life.

Thanks for being there.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Make My Day Award

goes to my friend Caryn. We spent a lovely morning together visiting at their home in a hollow-a beautiful cabin with views of high mountains, covered with trees, and green pastures." Wish I had taken some photos," I said as we left. Our husbands visited while we make some fun bookmarks from embroidery thread and beads. Will take a photo of them soon. Maybe Caryn will post some photos of her hollow home.

I finally got Caryn a very talented writer to blog. She has now written three posts which are full of humor, pathos, and thought provoking ideas just like she is. Visit her blog and offer her encouragement to keep writing. I give this award to Caryn whose continuing friendship "makes my day" through blogging, commenting on my blog, frequent emails and fun visits. Feel free to copy the award and give it to your favorite blogger. Thanks to Musings for this idea which I reduced to one instead of five. Thanks to you also for taking time to read this, dear friends.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Maybe it's gratitude

for even our trials that makes the difference, instead of resisting if we could just ask what am I to learn from this. I know the answer patience always comes easily. Just how patient can we become? More. I'm finding that's true visiting with grandkids, trying to be patient with misbehavior and find teaching moments to make a difference in their lives. Sending unconditional value to them is so important as it is to ourselves. We judge ourselves much more harshly that we do others. (Photo of twins helping out with the dishes after I suggested that it would be really nice to do it.)

I've been tagged!

by Musing. Here are the rules.

1. Write the title to your own memoir using six words.
2. Post it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who tagged you.
4. Tag five more blogs.

Here's mine: Creative writer seeking publishing, meaningful connections

You are tagged!

1. Hollow Thoughts
2. Susi Q
3. Carla
4. Linda letters
5. Gills Thrills

Sunday, May 25, 2008

School of Experience

Interesting thought today from a sunday school class I attended with my son Dan. It was about the school of experience that everyone goes through in this life. We can try to make it through our tribulations and trials by ourselves or we can use them as a refining influence when we turn to God in prayer to gain strength and comfort. As we exercise our FAITH in God, He can bless and direct us so that we are strengthened by our experiences.

I've known many who just grit their teeth and get through (survive) whatever faces them but are angry and bitter about the unfairness of being made to deal with health or old age challenges, relationships problems including divorce, death or separation, etc. There is a long list but how we deal with our life's experiences determines the quality of our life and our attitude. It's not what happens to us, it's our reaction to it.

Or as my maternal grandmother Johnson used to say..."if life hands you a lemon, make lemon-ade." She was widowed with five young children to raise in 1920 when her husband died of stomach cancer, but she was a fighter and not a quitter. Went to work, raised her children and was a great influence on all her family. (Photo of four of her children, my mom is in the front center, the other girl is Esther who became the babysitter while her mom worked and two brothers l-r Norman and Clarence.)


Cousins, the links between children
Of siblings, now our aunts and uncles
We are almost like brothers and sisters
But not, first and second cousins
Family, we meet at annual reunions or
To grieve at sad occasions like funerals
Or joyous occasions as family marriages,
Sharing birthdays and special anniversaries
Or when new little ones join our clan

Eternally linked by our common heritage
And experiences together from our youth
We share grandparents long departed from us
Memories of days past, severe trials that we
Each have had to overcome-whether health
Or family or personal do bind us together
As we reach out in support to each other
And express our eternal love and family unity
We will always and forever be linked together

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another new friend

Max (see his photo at a younger age from his blog) is from South Africa, check out his blog photos. Fascinating to see a country I will probably never experience first hand. Makes you feel more acquainted with this land just to visit his blog. Isn't the Internet fascinating that we can communicate with people all over the world. My son Brook will leave next week for India and says that he will send some photos and comments to share on my blog, so I'm looking forward to that.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day

This is a photo of my aunt Ethel who is 89, she's my mom's younger sister. Her son Bill and I are standing by the headstone of our second great grandmother Vilborg Thordardottir (click on the link to read her history) who emigrated from Iceland to Utah in 1874. How fun it has been to write Vilborg's history and find out more about her homeland. We will have a reunion in June during Icelandic Days to honor those immigrants that settled in Spanish Fork, Utah. Where are your ancestors from? Will you visit any of their graves during Memorial Day?

Son off to India

My son Brook who lives in Seattle is soon off to India for his company for one month: "training other employees on network operations for the ring tone purchasing application we host." I'm sure he will have many unique experiences on this trip. 

I got this funny email from a friend with photos of India's wiring that I need to share for a good laugh. If you like me have reached India outsourcers for American companies for technical help, you'll understand. At the bottom of the photo, it says: "This is India where you call if you have a problem with your computer."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Internet Possibilities

First the fun of emailing family daily
And friends far away at any time
Even talking to them and seeing
Their countenances with "skype"

Then it was Internet cousins, relatives
Discovered while doing genealogy
And I was able to publish my results
Histories, photos on my webpage

My son found his eternal companion
Through a website, Susi Q taught me how
to make a blog to publish my stuff
Thoughts, dreams and poems online

Now I’ve made new blogging buddies
To read their comments and become friends
There’s no limit to the good possible
When we reach out in honesty and love

Don't forget shopping, travel and
Lodging arrangements and details
To make your next trip exciting all
Through the fascinating world wide web

And we take it all for granted now...

Article #6-Decoration Day

Decoration Day was a special holiday for my widowed mom and me. (Left-photo of my now deceased mom and me.) We always made the trip to Salt Lake City to decorate the grave of my father who had died in a tragic airplane crash in Milford, Utah when I was five years old. He was laid to rest in the same cemetery as other family members. Every year without fail, we would meet together at the cemetery with extended family members: aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents at 10 am to put flowers on our family graves, to remember their lives and to honor them. 

It was like a big family reunion. Everyone came each year. We brought folding chairs, sat around the headstones, and visited afterwards. Now many of those relatives who came to decorate are buried in that same cemetery. Some years we would visit other ancestral family graves in nearby cemeteries. It was a way to acknowledge that we were family.

Today this holiday is called “Memorial Day.” It is still a day to decorate the graves of our dead, and to remember the sacrifices of those brave veterans who willingly gave their lives to preserve the freedom of our nation and other countries. Unfortunately, the tradition of gathering all the family together on Memorial Day is almost lost with our modern families that are so spread out across the country. It isn’t possible for them to travel back to their childhood homes to decorate graves. In the process, we’ve lost some important family connections and traditions.

Traditions are the glue that kept families together. Practices that I as a child could always count on were Decoration Day, returning to Utah for the deer hunt, and celebrating other special occasions: wedding, funerals, new babies, etc. together as a family no matter the distance to be traveled.

My favorite family tradition was returning every summer to Milford to see my grandparents. We would have a fun canyon cookout in the Beaver mountains complete with deer steaks, fried potatoes, and hot scones made by Grandma and cooked over the campfire by Grandpa, then finally homemade ice cream and cookies for dessert. What a treat being together with great food, and lots of love in the great outdoors with my family. What more could one ask for? I knew that I was special, and part of a larger family which included many generations both living and dead. (Above-photo of my now deceased grandparents and me.) 

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stormy Weather Today

Think there is a song about that from the old days. I'm amazed more and more how the days of my youth are the old days. And this year is my 50th high school reunion (photo of my high school graduation day.) I went to my 45th reunion in California but it couldn't be held at the school because there is now a fence with barbed wire around the entire school because of gangs and drugs, so we met at a Newport Beach hotel. I would rather have gone and walked around the halls of my old school and remembered those days of being shy, skinny and having the whole world ahead of me. Although I wouldn't want to go back and repeat those days. 

Well, back to stormy weather, it's kind of like "life." Some dark and difficult times come into all our lives that make us appreciate the days when it is sunny and everything is going along smoothly. I wouldn't mind reliving certain parts of my life but only if I knew what I know now, but that's not the plan. So I can only hope to pass on some of my hard won wisdom to those of my family that are interested. "Life is what happens while you are making other plans."

Monday, May 19, 2008


The writing assignment was to cluster the word "never", to create your own manifesto of something you would never do. This is what came:

Never let go of truth
Hold on to it tightly
Principles taught by the Spirit
Received in sacred experiences
Are gifts to be cherished
Not easily gained or lost

Acceptance by unbelievers
Or self doubts that come
Should not stop the quest for
Prayer and oneness with God
The search for understanding
And peace is why we are here

What is something you would "never" do?


Just spend several hours sorting through a box of papers of my dad. He was killed in an airplane crash in 1945 when I was just a young girl. I reread reports of his accident, awards he had received from working in Boy Scouts and other organizations and wond-ered again about his personality. He has been gone from my life for sixty-three long years now. But I do hope he has been able to see my life and its development somehow so when we met again we can converse about what we have both learned. My mom is now with him, this I know. They were separated for 61 years but time is really relative. When you are in it, sometimes it seems slow and other times it races by. I'm sure when we reach the eternities and look back at this time we had on earth it will be just a few moments in our entire lives.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fearful Thoughts

Interesting talk at church today about FEAR and how it can either paralyze us or motivate us to do something. I think it is something we all have to face in our life. Fear of terrorism striking the USA again, the Iraq war continuing, natural disasters, the world ending, sickness coming to a loved one, getting older and not being able to care for ourselves are examples of one kind of fear that can temporarily stop us. We wonder if life is worth living.

On the other hand, fear can motivate us to develop a relationship with and strengthen our faith in God-to try to understand His plan for our life better. This can have a positive outcome as we try to be a better person, friend, family member, and neighbor. Act not just react to stressful situations. 

I know one thing that works for me when fears or trials come is asking myself..."what am I to learn from this?" Every experience we have daily can be used to learn from, even if it is only to find out more about some area of our life or personality that we need to change or improve. What do you fear and how do you handle fear in your life?

New Friends Discovered

Well, thanks to Musings (who lives in illinois and is moving to Hawaii) I have discovered two new Internet friends who have fun blogs. Interesting that all of us are teachers some retired, some still teaching. Check out their blogs: there's Linda's Letters (sound familiar?) who lives in the Seattle area, and Dellgirl who lives in Texas (and is also a writer another coincidence). She has two blogs...The Internet is so fun. Have a peaceful sabbath. Keep blogging!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Success Ideas

Today I'm going to challenge myself to make a list with bullets with info taken from a talk by motivational speaker Len Ellis given locally.

  • Embrace possibilities
  • Make them work
  • Start where you are
  • Use what you've got
  • Do what you can

I think this can relate to everything, goals we have, and the life we live. I made a bulleted list. It wasn't that hard but it was something new to do. We all need challenges. What would like to do that is new?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Searching for More

Always looking for more
Another place to move to
That’s more exciting, cooler
Wooded, quiet and secluded
In another state, far away
So we can have more adventures

Why can’t we enjoy what we have?

It seems human nature to want
What we don’t have, always more
All the time is the greedy chant
If I am a little happy, why not more
Only in finding our inner gratitude
Can we truly be happy, fulfilled
And content with what we have

Article #5 Comfort Foods

Lately, I haven’t had much interest in food, which is unusual for me. After a recent visit with my grandkids, I have been sick with a cold that turned into pneumonia. (I love visiting my grandkids, but sometimes they do make me sick.) Now that I’m starting to feel better and regaining my interest in food, I’m looking for “comfort food.” We all have those items from our past that remind us of home, and Mom or Grandma who were always ready to nurse us with home cooked food. Food does have power to console us. I know homemade chicken soup always heals both my body and soul when I’m sick, but I have no energy to make any or the ingredients.

Tonight, as I’m hungry and rummaging through the refrigerator, I remember another favorite comfort food of mine and many of my pioneer ancestors—“bread and milk” with homemade white bread, of course. But there is no fresh homemade bread in my house, and it takes more energy and hours to make than I have. Then I discover some leftover store bought Italian bread slightly dried out which could be substituted for homemade bread, though it’s not the same thing.

Breaking a slice of my leftover bread into small pieces and then dropping them into a big mug of cold milk to eat with a spoon, I feel just like a pioneer. I remember the good old days as though I‘m not living with modern conveniences or have the ability to buy the whole world of fast food available anytime near my condo.

Grandma would take the hot loaves of her homemade bread from her coal stove and turned them upside down to cool on the kitchen table nearby. The inviting aroma of fresh baked bread filled the air. Only a few minutes later, I’d be asked if I wanted a slice of warm crusty bread dripping with melted butter served with homemade preserves (is there any other kind?) and lots of love. Grandma always made homemade bread; she never bought store-made bread. That was unheard of then.

Later in the evening, a whole meal or supper could be made with just a slice of this homemade bread broken into small pieces and dropped into a cup of cold milk. Reassuring, healing comfort food. Where's Grandma when you need her? Well, I'm the grandma now.

(PS I'm no longer sick and just returned from a visit with my grandkids and didn't get sick! This article is for the Senior Sampler-a local paper-see part I, p. 13.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Desert Blossoms

Took a bike ride and saw lots of beautiful blooms on our plants around here. "And the desert shall blossom as the rose..."

First Bouquet

Remember that wonderful anniversary garden my husband planted for me...well, I selected the flowers from a nursery that were perennial so we wouldn't need to replant them each year. Here's a photo of my first bouquet. I had them in the kitchen on the table but they smell terrible so now I've moved them to the outdoor patio. I know there is a poem that could be written about this dilemma. Let's see who is first to write one and post it on my blog comments. You will win a free bouquet!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Making Time to....

We only have so much time in each day
So priorities are what it's all about
What can we do this day that will make
A real difference in our life or others' lives

Take time to thank our Heavenly Father
For another day of health and strength
Freedom and the agency to choose
How we use this precious day and hour

Even minutes are priceless possessions
That can yield wonderful rewards when
Well and thoughtfully used, just a smile
A kind word, reaching "out" instead of "in"

Can make all the difference for us
For our family, friends and neighbors
"Use it or loose it", time is our ally
It's why we are here, to improve

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Five Grandkids

Daniel and Tina's children (l-r) Nathan, Heather, James and Emilee playing together nicely with play dough

James enjoying something good to eat and he can talk!

Twins ready for church (l-r) Heather and Emilee

Frank and Nedret's son Hakan, they live in New Mexico but I talked with them by phone on Mother's Day