Saturday, June 25, 2011

Light In The Wilderness

Have you ever read the first paragraph of a book and known that it was going to change your life?

I've had that experience several times and stand in awe of writers who can accomplish that with their words.

Three weeks ago, I was struggling - just feeling down - unmotivated - unfocused. As I do, so often when I feel like this, I opened the email I get each day from Meridian Magazine. It happened to be a Friday and one of the titles grabbed my attention - Light in the Wilderness: Explorations in the Spiritual Life by M. Catherine Thomas.

The first thing I read was a note from the editor - Maurine Proctor - introducing the serialization of this new book. Here's part of what she said, "When I read this book (and then reread it for the pure joy of it), I wanted to share it with everyone I knew, for its delicious and illuminating ideas were like a gift, stirring my ancient spirit"

When I read a review like that, I start to think that there must be something to this book. Then I read the first paragraph of the introduction which is a quote from Hugh Nibley:

"Have faith that there is more than you know; repent of all your present shallowness and silliness; wash off everything of this world in the waters of baptism, and be reborn . . . to a course of action requiring perpetual, progressive repentance . . . until you are full of grace and truth, which is nowhere in the foreseeable future . . . Then 'ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost' and get the guidance you need (Acts 2:37-38)."

I immediately felt gripped by these words and knew that I had to read them - and I have - about 8 or 10 times, because it is very vitamin rich stuff. It's like reading classic literature - it makes me think. I find myself stopping and studying one section, looking up the scriptures, and meditating on the deeper meaning. For someone like me who struggles with concentration, this is a big deal.

As I read on, I knew that I wanted to have this book and got online to order it. Before I could buy it, the thought came to me that I didn't need to buy the book - at least not at this point. What I needed to do was to savor each piece (published each Friday) a week at a time, so that I could really get the most out of it. So I'm studying the chapters each week and praying for help to absorb what I'm supposed to learn. It has been a great experience for me so far and when I click on Meridian and see a new installment, it's like getting a letter from someone I love.

If you're looking for a chance to stretch your spiritual muscles, or for a spiritual lift, or just to read some uplifting stories, check out this serialization. There have been 3 so far and each piece is a feast for the brain and the spirit. I hope it touches you like it has me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing."
                                                                                   Benjamin Franklin

Is it too late to do both?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Driver's Ed

My fifteen year old got his learner's permit today. It's funny, but I was actually more excited for him to get it than he was. I don't remember having that emotion with this huge step in his brothers' lives.

I'm the driver's ed teacher because I'm the laid back, patient one who will take the time to do it. It's been 15 years since I taught my oldest son and 12 since the second, but I don't remember pushing the issue. I also remember being more nervous with them.

Am I just older and calmer? Older yes, calmer, not really. It was just funny that I hardly had any nervous moments today in the 2 hours that we drove.

With the older boys, I took them to the rodeo grounds, which has a huge empty parking lot that makes a great place to drive, turn, park, and back up without hitting anything. It helped give them confidence before they got out on the road.

But it's the week before the 4th of July. In Cody Wyoming. Rodeo Capitol of the World. The Cody Stampede, July 1-4 are the biggest days of the year here. In other words, there are lots of tourists, and the rodeo grounds are not empty.

Next best thing - the church parking lot. It's maybe a quarter of the size, but still gives some good practice with turns and parking, while at the same time learning to avoid obstacles like the handcart and scout trailer stored near the storage building.

It worked well.

Soon he was ready to drive down the highway toward the next town to the east of us. Once you leave the houses a few miles out, there's pretty much nothing but wild horses and antelope along with the sagebrush for 50 miles.

He drove until we came to the turn off for a large oil field and we followed a windy paved road for an hour until we eventually came to the highway that led back to our house from the south. It was good practice, and we got to enjoy the abundant flowers blooming among the sagebrush and the beautiful mountains all around us. And the talking. The talking is always fun.

When we got home, Andre thanked me for making him get his license and saying how much he liked driving. He didn't know why he'd put it off so long.

I smiled and told him I was glad and that I'd had a good day.

But inside I was dreaming of the day I can send him to school or activities or the store on his own. When I can stay home and not have to slip my shoes on and off several times a day. When I don't make multiple trips into town to drop off and pick up. When he is more independent.

Wait. Maybe I'm not so anxious for that day . . . I think I'll miss those 7 minute talks that have become such an important part of our lives.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Movies I've Watched More Than 10 times

  • Pride & Prejudice (Firth - many more than 10, Knightly - about 10, Olivier 1)
  • Sense & Sensibility (You know which one)
  • Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette)
  • Persuasion (Ciaran Hinds)
  • Lord of the Rings (extended version)
  • Castaway
  • Tremors (I know, I blame Kevin Bacon)
  • Groundhog Day 
  • Napoleon Dynamite (did I mention I have 3 sons & a husband with weird senses of humor?)
  • Titanic
  • The original Star Wars
  • Becoming Jane
  • You've Got Mail
  • Phantom of the Opera 
  • Sound of Music
  • Wizard of Oz
  • The Parent Trap (old and new)
  • Toy Story
  • The Incredibles (my favorite Pixar movie)
  • A Christmas Story (the male influence again)
  • Elf
  • A Wonderful Life
Destined to be watched over and over - Tangled
I wish I owned so I could watch over and over - All Anne of Green Gables ever made with Megan Follows

If I've only watched these 10 times - this comes to between 700 and 800 hours of watching movies. And I wonder where my time goes.

And now I feel the need to read a book.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yes, Google is a verb

"Oh, my gosh!"
That's what my fifteen year old son said to me when he saw my Google search.
He laughed and shook his head.
We had been searching for plane tickets for him to visit his brother at Ft. Benning, Georgia. They were expensive, so I typed into Google, "Where the heck are the cheap plane tickets from Cody to Atlanta?"
He was right, it sent us to some scam looking site that probably attacked my computer with spyware. (nice try, but I'm protected!)

Seriously, though. I think asking what you want to know is a pretty good way to find out what you want to know. And Google seems to know a lot.

Sometimes my son and I entertain ourselves with the auto suggestion part of the search.
We just start the search with a question - Is, What, Why, Am I etc. Such as:

Is Mitt Romney . . .mormon, running for president, pro life, a Christian? Those are the answers - not really unexpected.

Why . . . was the berlin wall built, wyoming, is the sky blue

That surprised me - why wyoming is a top search - it's also the title of at least 2 different songs. Here's part of the lyrics from one by Eddie Holly:

When you say Why Wyoming
                                          Send you picture postcards
Just wouldn’t be the same
If you could be here with me in my wide open
You’d never ask me why again
Why Wyoming.

I've lived here all my life and it never occurred to me to ask, why Wyoming?

What is the . . .smallest country in the world, code of the west, difference between astronomy and astrology, proclamation of 1763, formula for calculating potential energy.

I started thinking that this could give me some good ideas for writing. I have a character who was raised on a ranch and has a dad who didn't talk much, but had a lot of wise sayings. When I looked at the code of the west, here's what I found:

If it's not yours, don't take it.
If it's not true, don't say it.
If it's not right, don't do it.

 ~Cowboy's word is his sacred bond~

~Bargains sealed with handshake are more binding than legal documents~

~be loyal~

~Demand square dealings~

~Be proud of your occupation~

~Lay down your life, if necessary, for the privilege of defending your outfit~

~Grant quick assistance to friends and strangers in need~

~Never tolerate cowards~

~Be cheerful~

~Endure hardships without complaining~

~Don't make excuses~

~Try to be better than the other fella~

~Never quit~

~Share anything you own with a fellow worker~

~Be generous with your life and money~

~Treat women like ladies~

~Never shoot an un-armed or un-warned man~

~Stealing and rustling are evil wrong doing~

There's a load of wisdom there - I especially like the last 2.
Then I found out that  Hop-a-long Cassidy had a code and Gene Autry and the Lone Ranger.
Here's a link if you're interested in more cowboy codes of honor. Roy Rogers and John Wayne probably had codes, too.

I've found some really good material for my character and learned some things about the area I write about. Just from asking - "what is the . . ."  and "why . . ."

Hmm, I wonder, if Roy Rogers, Hop-a-long, Gene Autry, the Lone Ranger and the Duke were forced to fight  each other - who would win, based on their individual codes of honor?

I just have to Google that . . .

Monday, June 20, 2011

Is It Just Me?

You know what I don't get?
David Letterman.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wordle of my book titles