Sunday, November 23, 2008

7 Thangs

I was tagged by two people recently (Peggy and Julia) to reveal seven things about myself.

1. I have nachos almost every Sunday after the block.

2. After Emma came home we watched a lot of "Signing Time" videos and I learned the sign language alphabet from the DVDs. I now compulsively finger spell words the way I used to type on my knees when I was taking typing from Guy Hafer at La Grande High School.

3. I enjoy folding laundry.

4. Sometimes when I'm practicing a piece of music that I have to perform I pretend I'm in the Music Olympics and imagine color commentators speculating on my chances for success ("Do you think she can navigate this tricky key change coming up? This is where the young Bulgarian upstart crashed and burned.") It manages to make me a little bit nervous.

5. I don't really like pretzels. I've tried to.

6. Garrison Keillor's column is the first thing I read in the Sunday Tribune, followed by Parade Magazine and the obits. The comics aren't funny. (Do you EVER laugh at a comic? Do you ever even SMILE at a comic?)

7. I can't whistle very well, which has always made me a little sad.

I tag BARBIE to write 7 things about herself in my comments section...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Heart the Book of Mormon

I have to write about this before more time slips away. My niece Julia challenged our family to read the Book of Mormon during the month of October. I’ve only read the Book of Mormon fast one other time, when the stake Relief Society invited us to read it in preparation for a women’s conference (I remember I taught a mini-class on the Gadianton Robbers, of all things; they’re really a fascinating bunch).

Most of the time when I read the Book of Mormon, I plug along just above stall speed. I try to read a chapter a day, but then I skip a few days and have to go back and read the heading of the last chapter to figure out what was going on “when we last left our hero.” (Reminds me of something Marjorie Hinckley wrote in a letter to one of her children: “I’m reading one chapter out of each of the standard works every day. I’ve been doing it for four days now and am only three days behind.”) I plod through the Isaiah chapters and the war chapters and look forward to 3rd Nephi, and then I whiz through 4th Nephi, Mormon, Ether and on to the (bitter if you’re a Nephite) end.

This time around I skipped chapter headings entirely and read 17-18 pages a day. Things made much more sense. That section where we backtrack in time (the Record of Zeniff) wasn’t as confusing as it usually is. “Okay. Limhi was the son of King Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, who left Zarahemla and went to the land of Nephi. Zeniff—good; Noah—BAAAD; Limhi—good. Alma—VERY good. And then everybody eventually winds up back in Zarahemla again.” I even got caught up in the war accounts, and I have even greater admiration for Captain Moroni, a passionate, skilled leader and not just some zealous flag-waver.

And I have a new love for Mormon himself, who pawed through piles of records to get just the right distillation of history and doctrine. What an enormous undertaking. How just plain smart he must have been (I love what Ammaron tells Mormon when he’s only a kid: “I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe.”)

But beyond all the history, the urgency of the message was so fresh this time. During a fast read-through the major themes just keep getting hammered and hammered:

1. Keep the commandments.
2. If you keep the commandments, you’ll prosper (in all the ways that matter most).
3. This is a unique land with a unique purpose.
4. Jesus Christ will come to earth (and after 3rd Nephi, will return to earth).
5. Keep the commandments.

Oh yeah, and ix-nay on the costly apparel and fine-twined linens.

What a book. I love it. Nay, I lurve it. Thanks, Julia, for the challenge!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Recent Autumnal Goings-On

Following is pictorial evidence of recent fall events, beginning with a trip to the Scarecrow Festival at Thanksgiving Point a couple weeks ago. The Scarecrow (see 'em below) Festival is something I'd never heard of, and likely would never have attended, pre-Emma. But oh, how our middle-aged horizons are espanding these days. Emma made a pilgrimage to every bouncy house and towering blow-up slide she could haul her wiry little frame in, on, or around. She was glassy-eyed with glee. At one point she broke into a trot and made a complete loop around the scarecrow grounds, through the food pavilion, and back to the bouncy houses as I tried to keep a bead on her, gimping along at half-speed on my not-yet-jog-worthy hip. I finally caught sight of her little top knot as she whizzed down a slide on the lap of a complete stranger (she looked like a very nice woman, at least). I think she needs a leash.
Here she is in mid-bounce. Might have been moments before she conked heads with another young bouncing patron. Emma shook it off and moved on with little complaint.
On October 30th, we celebrated our 2nd annual Emma Day...or maybe the 2nd anniversary of the first and original Emma Day, which was the day we met her in 2006. Joe took some time off work and we drove down to Provo to deliver a package to a guy (who's a friend of a guy who's a friend of Joe's) who can make same-day deliveries to the MTC. I made a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal bars in the morning and thought maybe they could be delivered to nephew Russell at the MTC while they were still warm and he could be the envy of his district. Oh what a gorgeous autumn day it was -- such brilliant fall colors, blue sky, and rarified Utah Valley air (I have a soft spot for dear, odd Provo). After the drop-off we went to a pretty park on Center Street. They had a representation of the countries of the world and we told Emma to stand on (approximately) Hubei Province, the land of her birth. Then we had yummy Chinese lunch at a little mom-and-pop in Orem (egg roll appetizers, rice bowl, and sauteed vegetable lunch special).

So then we had the one-two punch of Emma Day followed by Halloween. On Halloween morning Emma visited a couple of work places (Joe's and Aunt Boo Boo's), where she went cubicle to cubicle and completely filled up her candy bucket before noon. She met our friend Monica (below) at one of the stop-offs. I think Emma looks about 25 in this picture. Like a 25-year-old who needs to wipe the remains of a fun-size Twix bar off her mouth before she puts her lip gloss on.

At Aunt Boo Boo's office she joined up with a bunch of other kids (children of employees and hangers-on like us). Sure, they look a little morose here, but this was taken before they hit major Halloween candy pay-dirt.
I liked this little golfer guy.
This is what our neighbor's flowering pear tree looked like on Halloween Day.
Look at all the different colors (you must click to enlarge).
Emma lounged around in the leaves in the afternoon, pondering a portion of the haul she'd made that morning. "Oh what should I have first...a Skittle? A gem-sized Baby Ruth? One of the 500 teeny Snickers bars I snagged?"
And THIS is what Emma lounged around in today. The beautiful fall days are evidently gone for now, but they lasted a good long time.
And now we get to make a snowman that looks kind of like a little bear, and decorate him with twigs and a lei and last-year's snow hat and leaves and chocolate chips. "A triumph!!"