Monday, March 30, 2009

Work Those Muscles

The other day I took my sons to the optometrist. I was a little worried about Thing 2 because he's been complaining about his eyes being tired. Thing 1 was reminded that yes, indeed he needed to wear his glasses. Thing 2 however, was told that his eyesight was excellent.

When we enquired about why his eyes might be tired and the doc found out that Thing 2 reads a zillion hours every day, he said "Ahh, well . . ." 

Your eye muscles, as it turns out, are like any other muscles and tire after a good workout. However, they also get stronger from a good workout. Huh, who knew. I was still operating under the old wives' tale that too much reading would make your eyes go bad. :D

I've noticed that I have been reading a lot faster lately and it occurred to me that this too must be like a muscle that improves with use.

I don't know if that would be my eyes or my brain (probably the latter) but I have definitely noticed an improvement in the speed with which I am able to read. I've been reading about a book a week lately, whereas it used to be that I would have to give up my whole life for a few days in order to get a book read that quickly. 

This is super exciting to me because I LOVE to read, but in the past I've felt I "didn't have time" for it. Now, I know better. 

I can teach school, write, keep my house reasonably clean (ha!) and still enjoy a good book. Sweet!

Who knew that reading was a form of exercise--good for your eyes and your brain. Now you can 'work out' and feel that you're doing yourself a service. What's that you say? Thanks so much for telling you about this important new workout? You're welcome!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Anne Bradshaw Contest Give-Away

I love the group Fiddlesticks. They perform my favorite arrangements of "If You Could Hie To Kolob" and "Praise To The Man."

So imagine my delight when I discovered they were the prize to be awarded in Anne Bradshaw's weekly give-away!

Visit Anne's blog speedily, as the contest will soon end, and learn how you can enter to win your own copy. Or don't. Because, like I said, I want to win.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Beautiful Language

Have you ever read a book that entirely transported you to a different time and place? All books try, I think, but few truly succeed. Huckleberry Finn was like that for me--took me a while to get into it because of the vernacular, but after a while, I was so engrossed in the language of that time and place that I found it difficult to talk like a regular person. I heard everything in country-bumpkin redneck. 

In high school I read the Iliad in Latin. I loved Latin. It spoke to me like no other language--it was beautiful, and reading the classic words of Homer in his own language was a real treat.

This week I've started reading a debut novel by author Jo Graham. It's called Black Ships and is about a priestess in the days just after the Trojan war who sees visions of the world to come. 

Like when I read Huckleberry Finn, at first I found it difficult to get into the story. It's written in the classic way of times past, with the added eloquence of ancient Greece. It reads very much like a translated version of classical Latin literature.

I am almost half way through the book now and I can't read it fast enough. It's making it difficult for me to live in this world. The language is coloring the thoughts in my head, making me want to use words and phrasing that no longer exists in our modern world.

It is a beautiful language.

The way words can be strung together to paint pictures in our mind, make our blood run cold, make our hearts beat faster--it is a truly magnificent art form.

My own writing does not rival Homer or Mark Twain or Jo Graham. I write from my heart and though I admire the classical beauty of words, my heart is simple and what comes out is equally unencumbered with flowery turns of phrase. My words will likely never sing to a person in the same way that Black Ships sings to me. But I'm alright with that. 

My words are my own and I will write them--they are sincere, honest, truthful to who I am. And words will never shine if they are false.

But just because I can't reproduce their beauty in my own writing, doesn't mean I can't truly appreciate writing, in this classical sense, when it's well done and engaging. It is a truly beautiful language.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Book Review ~ A Great and Terrible Beauty

  rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well, I think it's safe to say that I am not a very discerning reader. I like what I like and to heck with the reasons. 

I liked that this book was such a fast read and painted very vivid pictures that danced in my head. I liked the flowery language and the depiction of the characters.

Yes, the characters all seemed rather shallow, but it seemed appropriate to me given the era and social expectations. I found the fluctuating circle of friends to be totally believable and Gemma's personal conflicts similarly believable. 

And, having not read a lot of Victorian era, I wasn't encumbered by any expectations so the book didn't let me down there.

Where it did let me down was in it's lack of depth regarding the tragedies encountered. I don't want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that stuff happens that ought not to and the emotions expressed by those observing, privy to, or involved in the acts go largely unexpressed and entirely without consequence. 

Nevertheless, the story itself was a magnet that drew me in and erased any serious reservations I might have had. I have found myself picturing the story, after having finished it, as I would a great movie I've just seen--only to then realize that it wasn't a movie at all, but a book I've read. That right there tells me that this was, for me, a great read.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ Patriotism

Last week my family and I had the opportunity to gather with a whole lot of other like-minded conservatives to listen to Glenn Beck as he unveiled his "9-12 Project".  There were about five hundred people at the gathering in South Jordan where we were, and there were thousands more in similar groups all around the country.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't what I got.

I thought Glenn would tell me stuff, fill my mind with his views. Instead, he encouraged me to discover for myself what I believe. Educate myself. Know myself. 

Glenn suggested that each of us read, if we haven't done so already, The Thousand Year Leap and The Real George Washington. Form a book group, of sorts, and discuss what we learn from these books. Keep abreast of the news and apply the things we have learned from these books to the news of the day.

In six months, Glenn wants to 'meet' again, and see how we have grown and what has been the product of us educating ourselves.

As a Canadian, I am rather excited by this assignment. I am shocked at how quickly it is turning from it's capitalist and conservative roots. I want to better understand what is happening to know what, if anything, I can do to help restore the United States to the strength and beauty it once possessed.

Even though I am not yet officially an American citizen, I want to stand up and be counted among those who love this country and and will fight to retain it's founding principles

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The other day, I was out driving around and had the radio tuned to a country music station. Clay Walker's song "Fall" came on and I listened carefully to the words.

I found myself thinking of my husband, and how I wanted him to hear this song. He does this for me--let's me fall apart while he takes care of me. His love is such a gift to me.

But then my thoughts went in a different direction.

Listening to the chorus, I realized they made me think of someone else who loves me--my Heavenly Father.

So fall go on and fall apart
Fall into these arms of mine
I'll catch you every time you fall
Go on and lose it all
Every doubt every fear, every worry every tear
I'm right here

This is what our Father feels for us, what He wishes to tells us. At least, that's what I believe.

With my Heavenly Father, I truly can fall apart. I can let myself fall into His arms, because He will always catch me. I can share every doubt, every tear with Him--He will always be there for me.

I know it might sound kind of silly to be thinking of Heavenly Father in the context of a country music song, but, hey, I'll take it. Sometimes I am too stubborn or too prideful to rely on God. I feel like I have to do it on my own--that I shouldn't ask for help.

This song reminds me that He loves me and that when it comes to Him, I don't have to be strong--He'll be strong for me. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ The Mormon Temple

Many of my LDS friends will have already read this quote or seen the video I am sharing here today. But I wanted to write, for just a moment, for my family.

I love my brothers and my sister. I wish we were closer. I wish I could sit down with them and share my thoughts and feelings about the things that are most sacred to me. I suspect it may be possible that some of my family will watch with interest as the hoopla over the LDS temple unfolds. 

I hope that they might understand that while television shows are web sites might try to portray what goes on in the temple, they cannot adequately show my feelings about the importance of what goes on there. 

Hugh Nibley wrote, in his book "The Temple and the Cosmos," p. 64

"Even though everyone may discover what goes on in the temple, and many have already revealed it, the important thing is that I do not reveal these things; they must remain sacred to me.  I must preserve a zone of sanctity which cannot be violated whether or not anyone else in the room has the remotest idea what the situation really is....   No matter what happens, it will, then, always remain secret; only I know exactly the weight and force 
of the covenants I have made--I and the Lord with whom I have made them--unless I choose to reveal them.  If I do not, then they are secret and sacred no matter what others may say or do.  Anyone who would reveal these things has not understood them, and therefore that person has not given them away.  You cannot reveal what you do not know!"

I hope that my friends or family, if they have questions about the temple or the Mormon religion, that they will come to me, that they would ask me about such things, rather than rely on the sensationalist media. 

Here's a video the Church has prepared about why Mormons build temples. 

I go to the temple because for me it is like climbing a mountain, as Moses did in days of old, to be closer to my God. There, I am removed from the world--its cares, its sorrows, its day-to-day stresses. I go there because I love my Heavenly Father, and I want to hear His voice. Sometimes I need to escape the din of my regular life so I can listen more carefully. The temple, like that ancient mountain-top, is where I am sure to hear Him.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Temple Is A Sacred Place

A scheduled Big Love episode is sparking heated debate amongst Mormons and non-Mormons.

Big Love, a show featuring  a contemporary polygamist family, will entertain its viewers with a ceremony that is sacred to Mormons. Specifically, they intend to show an endowment session inside a temple.

Last night I watched a news clip in which a woman said perfectly what I feel--there is plenty of information to be found on the Internet about the temple and what goes on there. The temple ceremonies are not secret--they are sacred.

Recently we had the opportunity to take our boys to the Draper temple open house. Charlie didn't want to go. He had to get dressed up in his suit on a Friday afternoon when he would have preferred to stay home and play with his friends. 

By the time we had finished walking through the Celestial Room and through to a sealing room, Charlie was saying that this was the best day of his life and he wished that he didn't ever have to leave. The temple is a sacred place, but you have to have an open heart and a willingness to be touched by the Spirit.

I love the temple and it saddens me that the things that I hold most sacred in this life will be twisted and mocked by its' television portrayal. How do I know that such will be the case despite the producer's efforts to the subject with respect?

Because the temple and what goes on there cannot be taken out of context. Gospel study, and an education by the spirit are necessary education for one's attendance in the temple. It is not a place to intellectualize. It is a place to feel. 

What goes on inside the temple walls is not secret--you can find the details blasted across a number of web sites. What you will likely not find there is the meaning, the true depth of significance that such ceremonies hold for a faithful Latter Day Saint.

The Church issued a statement regarding the upcoming episode of Big Love. As ever, they handle it with class and aplomb. I have much respect and admiration for the leaders of the Church and the example they set for us. 

I am grateful that my children had the opportunity to attend a temple open house and that they felt the very special feeling that can only be found there. I wish that everyone who has an interest or curiosity in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and their temples, would have such an opportunity. 

Furthermore, if you have any questions about the Mormons, get your answers from the source, rather than relying on those biased Internet sites. We have the answers you seek--you only need to ask.

Monday, March 09, 2009

This Is Me?

You Are Brave and Cheeky

When You Are Comfortable:

You are a strong person. You're driven and assertive. Success is yours, as much as you want it.

People find you to be clever and spirited. You're a bit saucy too... delightfully so!

When You Are At Your Best:

You are a hard worker. You need security and stability in your life, even if that means putting in long hours.

People see you as solid and dependable. You are always able to see the good in situations. Other find this comforting.

When You Are in a Social Setting:

You are a carefree, adventurous person. You love excitement, and you enjoy being in a changing, dynamic environment.

People find you to be funny, generous, and competent. You're well spoken, and you know how to wow people with your words.

I really like the 'brave and cheeky' part. :) 

I'd like to think this is how people see me. and I LOVE the part about being able to WOW people with my words. Neat!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ We Surround Them

Next Friday, Glenn Beck is kicking off an event he calls We Surround Them. Over the past several weeks--months, and years actually, if you consider what he has been talking about for that long--Glenn has been talking about the principles and values of American society.

The media in general would have us believe that we, as conservative Americans, are in the minority. Glenn hopes to show that that is simply not true. We Surround Them is an opportunity for people to make their voices heard--not singly, but unitedly. 

Glenn says that if you believe in even just seven of the following nine principles, then you are one of US. 

I am not ashamed to admit that I am a conservative and that I believe in all nine of the principles listed below. My family has submitted our photo. We want our voice to be heard. We will be attending the We Surround Them kick-off party. We will be heard.

How about you? Can you agree with at least of these nine principles? Do you want your voice to be heard? Follow the links below, if you want to surround them, too.

1. America is good. 

2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life. 

3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday. 

4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government. 

5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it. 

6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results. 

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable. 

8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion. 

9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me. 

For more information on We Surround Them, please go here

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Facebook Fenomenon

Facebook is fast becoming the favorite place for friends on the 'net.

I remember when it first started and it was the My Space wannabe for old farts. Now, both young and old hang out there, finding friends, being friends and staying connected.

I've heard some really despise Facebook. But I'm not one of them. True, I often can't think of a creative way to say what Ali is, but still ... I like it anyway.

I like that it has allowed me to be more connected with my friends and family. I know what's going on in their lives better now, than I did. That's pretty darn sad, isn't it? That you can live in the same neighborhood as friends and still have to look on Facebook to see what's going on with your friends.

Still, I'm grateful for Facebook because at least I can know what's going on, more than I did before.

And nowadays, even the young folks are on Facebook too so it's a friendly place for everyone, old and young.

OK, so I tried to be clever by writing lots of f-words but as you can see I mostly gave up after the first few lines, lol. Oh well, can't blame a girl for trying ;)