Holdaway Rd.

I am very fond of the road I live on.  It's beautiful.  The above photo is one particular view I enjoy.  Last night I spent some time talking to the town mayor and we shared the woes of development; fields and open spaces, leading down to the lake, being sold so more houses could be built.  I do realize that houses must be built sometime, somewhere, but my little town's history and charm lie in it's agriculture history.  Why would we be so quick to throw that away?  


I've Been Thinking

How many times am I my own stumbling block?
How often am I the very swine to trample my own pearls?
How come I tend to place the pricks before kicking against them?

I guess there are two great comforts in these realizations.  

1st ~ I have the freedom to choose.  "Wherefore, men are free...they are free to choose liberty and eternal life through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil." (2 Nephi 2:27)

2nd ~ I have a beloved Savior.  "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

The beauty of being your own stumbling block is that you can choose to remove it and then as for help in doing so.  


Red Tailed Shark & Other Tails

When I was younger the entire family made an exciting journey to Animal Ark.  We stood in front of the dozens of tanks that filled the entire wall and each choose a fish for the newly established family aquarium.  I got a red tailed shark and we enjoyed a rather full aquarium until they all passed on to a watery grave one at a time.   

Later my younger sister and I kept a fish tank in our bed room and would turn on the florescent lights of the tank and sit on our beds listening to the Deep Forrest CD and watching our myriad of goldfish.  The actually cleaning of the fish tank was what eventually did us in.  

Last night I spoke at a Young Women's meeting, and was given two of the fish that were purchased for the center pieces.  I brought them home, not realizing that they were probably having a hard time with the chlorine, water temp, etc.  The smaller one perished in a jar on my kitchen table.  

This morning Kip and I went to Wal-mart, left quickly, went to Animal Ark, and purchased a one gallon bowl, two gold fish, food, etc., and a small $1 castle.  I always wanted a castle.  We assembled everything and after a few traumatic moments (dead fish in toilet, almost dead but still alive fish getting dropped in the sink, etc.) we're able to get all three fish in.  It's still a little cliquish, and I've been asking the two larger, better looking, stronger fish to please go talk to this third little guy who has just been through a great loss.  Names pending.  


Day Two

We slept in, but made it to the Temple by 10:30 to do an endowment session.  (Picture off church website.)

Jumped on the subway and walked down to South Street Sea Port...

Walking up Maiden Lane (Lane?) to find Zeytunas (lunch). 

Trinity Church graveyard.

Wall Street

One of Kip's favorite streets in Greenwich Village.

After dinner at Tre Giovani's we headed back up towards our hotel, and wandered around the Rockerfeller Center before heading home. 
"When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it.  When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us."
~ Joseph Smith

I was thinking about this quote the other day, and found myself running into an interesting and companionable idea to it on the wall of a school library, next to a picture of a monarch butterfly.  

"How does one become a butterfly?", she asked. 
"You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar." 
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

In the process of coming to a greater understanding of deity we have to want the spiritual progress more than we want certain aspects of our current situation.  And as hard as these steps are to take, I have found that after my own chrysalis' of life, when I am that much more a loft, that letting go of the caterpillar was more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. 


Day One

We land just after dawn in New York

Both of us were very tired, because we didn't sleep, just stayed up all night watching a movie.  Okay, I think I got about twenty minutes.  We were on the plane with the Murry High School Band...you can imagine the noise. 

We took the air train and subway into the city, dropped our luggage off at the hotel, and wandered around for a few hours until we could check in.  We walked from 48th down to 42 (Kip's first time at Grand Central) and headed back up 5th to one of the many Starbucks.   After a cup of hot chocolate we ambled around central park.  

This was the view from our hotel room.  19th floor.  

We took a nap (oh so tired!) and then headed down the street to Ray's Pizza for lunch. 

After lunch we wandered around the streets around the hotel (5th, Park, Lexington, & all the side streets in between. ) and ended up in central park again.  I had always wanted to find the castle, and never did while I was living there, so we found it! 

On the Bow bridge.

It was a beautiful afternoon.  We did a lot of walking and siting, walking and sitting. 

After stopping by the hotel room quickly, and falling asleep for an hour, we got up, headed down to broadway and ate at Stardust (a 50's diner where aspiring actors sing and dance) which was fun.  Afterward we walked on home and hit the sack.  

Stay tuned for Day Two...dun dun dun! 


New York, New York

We had a fantastic time.  It was so pleasant that (without trying) Kip and I totally forgot about work, school, etc.  Not a single thought.  Both of us are comfortable in the city, the pulse gets into your bones, and even now, as I'm glancing out over an empty park and the morning mountains, I can feel the boom boom boom of moving streets inside my rib cage.  It's going to take a while for it to go away.   

To end my first NY post I dedicate this picture to all of my sisters.  May they find joy...and express their opinion about the hair cut. 

Live @ Radio City Music Hall


Easter Expressions Through Art

Each year Easter brings a new slant for me, and I find myself experiencing a particular aspect in more depth then the rest.  This year I found three things stayed with me through out the week proceeding.  The first was actually the birth of Christ.  I suppose having studied Isaiah 53 would be part of the reason.  

"Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? 
 " For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."

Isaiah 53:1,2

This particular painting is not a classic, and it's actually fairly recent, but I enjoy it because of the lighting.  I also wonder as to the role of the small shepherd.  (Painting by Joseph Brickey)

The image of Christ on the cross is not the prominent one for me at this time of year, not because I don't want to remember the suffering, Isaiah presents that in vivid artistry, but the Joy to be had when death (physical death and spiritual death) was conquered, ever defeated, is incomprehensible.  The final word was Christ rising triumphant from the tomb.   As I contemplate all Easter art, word, painting, music...I find the one that seems most significant at this time is singing.  Aloud and en mass.  So,  these two links paint the perfect Easter picture for me, at least this year, in art. 

Christ The Lord Is Risen Today 


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ; 

For those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow, 

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. 


One short sleep past, we wake eternally, 

And Death shall be no more,  Death, thou shalt die. 

- John Donne 


Do Re Mi...A Must See

Alright...it's Monday.  It's a Monday with promise, seeing as how it is spring break for some of us, but it can start out great for everyone!  Here is how it happens. 

1. Read this blog
2. Follow the instructions
3. Which are to go to this address  http://thegreytree.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/why-not/  
4. {It's Airen's} 
5. And watch the you tube video posted there!  
6.  I promise you will enjoy it!  

Happy Spring Day!  


Ode: Intimations of Immortality

My sister reminded me that it was poetry month.  Well.  I wonder who decided April would be the month for poetry?  There is a line somewhere (movie, play?) that indicates that spring makes all men think they are poets, and therefore you get a lot of bad poems.  I can't remember where it's from, but it made me laugh.  I like this one...

Ode: Intimations of Immortality

from Recollections of Early Childhood

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparell'd in celestial light, 
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it has been of yore;-
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day
The things which I have seen I now can see no more!
The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
   Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
   The sunshine is a glorious birth;
   But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth.

- William Wordsworth

I remember the first time I felt this sentiment, and it was such a sad thing.  Perhaps part can be reclaimed through effort, but the enchantment of childhood is steward of the other part, and as we move towards a different realm of worry and responsibility and knowledge (sin?) we lose some of the wonderment accompanying the "celestial light" of the world.  Who was the poet (was it Wordsworth himself?) that believed we come from a state of innocence, experience knowledge and sin, and then come out on the other side renewed to a more advanced state of innocence?  So, while we do not return to the original innocence we move forward to the innocence on the other side of life/knowledge/sin.  I believe I would replace the word innocence (it's second use) with purity.  Perhaps as we strive towards purity in this life we reclaim  seeing the world as described.   Innocence, to Knowledge/the Fall, to Purity; purity becomes an innocence by choice, therein comes it's power.  


I Love Knowledge


Working For Mom

You just can't get a hold of her these days...Smiles.  Here are the pictures you wanted.

Helping with yardwork.

Grandpa and Graham taking a break!



"Ciranda" is a children's game played in Brazil, and it seems to be the equivalent of Ring-Around-The Rosie as far as notoriety goes.   There is a beautiful song by Marcio Faraco (Chico Buarque sings it with him) by that same name, "Ciranda".    I love the lyrics to this song, I adore the melody.  I can sing this song over and over and over, and I find myself remembering one remarkable thing about the country of Brazil.  My first mission president told me that the Brazilian people were a people "de suframento e alegria", of suffering and joy.  While people all over the world experience the full range of emotions, claro, there is something to the national tenor, or feeling, of the Brazilian people, a unique combination of sentiment; their signature.  Brasil is truly a country of Joy and Suffering.  They wear it well together.  

This song captures that feeling for me.  It makes something in my heart want to cry and smile, and listen to it again.  It assuages me, I don't quite know what, but I need it.  

Here are the Lyrics in Portuguese, and then my rough translation to English, for those of you who don't speak Portuguese.  You can listen to the song here

Se tento correr o tempo pára
Se páro pra ver o mundo anda
Ele vem bater na minha cara
A vida é sempre essa ciranda

Se a noite me traz uma tristeza
O dia vem cheio de alegria
O que falo agora com certeza
Há pouco não sei se eu diria

Eu quero gritar ninguém me escuta
Está tudo preso na garganta
Às vezes me cansa tanta luta
E é pra não chorar que a gente canta

A gente canta
A gente canta

Eu vi uma luz no fim do túnel 
Enchi de esperança o coração
A luz que lá estava foi chegando
Era um trem carregado de ilusão

Andando só na corda bamba
Não temo o futuro da nação
A gente que sempre dançou samba
Enfrenta qualquer divisão

A gente canta
A gente canta

Rough English Translation of Ciranda

If I try to run, the time stops,

If I stop to see, the world walks on

He comes, hitting me in the face, 

Life is always this Ciranda

If the night brings me sadness,

the day comes full of joy

Of what I speak now with certainty,

You have but few who don't know of what I speak

I want to cry out, no one listens

It's all trapped in my thorat

Sometimes I get tired of so much struggle

And so we don't cry, we sing

We sing

We sing

I saw a light at the end of the tunnel

and filled my heart with hope,

When the light arrived  

It was a train carrying illusion

Walking alone on the tight rope

I don't fear the future of the nation

We who have always danced the samba

Can meet any division

We sing

We sing


Thursday Morning...

We had G & A on Thursday morning, and Kip was a big hit.  He played basketball and soccer with G, over and over and over.  He held A and made her laugh.  It was a nice morning and we had a fun time.  I snapped a few pictures.  Here was Kip and G helping me with some yard work. 

Here Kip was rescuing a soccer ball from the trampoline (which was both exciting and a bit scary for G).


There has been a lot of talk this week about bonuses.  They say congress has decided to tax the AIG bonuses 90% if they are over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.   

Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars is a small enough amount, apparently, to not worry about.  I would like a Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollar bonus.  

I suppose working at AIG has required long hours, education, skill, etc.  And that those jobs pay very high.  

How about this? I will spend eight hours in an AIG office, and one of their employees with one of these "smaller bonuses" can spend eight hours at my job.  I'll handle the pressures of restructuring, or looking over accounts, of talking to this bank and this bank about this investment and that investment...

...while they spend time in the last week of the term for twenty plus foster kids, oh, one ran last week, oh, by the way, one had her best friend attempt suicide twice this week, oh...don't forget to visit so-and-so before the reunification, and please call the caseworker so she can give that updated report to the judge.  Please be refreshed and ready to explain every school course K through 12.  Did you double check those graduation requirements we needed an update on, and what about getting those records transferred from Canada?  Did you call that therapist who needed to talk to you?  And don't worry, it's not you, it's just reactive attachment disorder.  

And at the end of that day we could split the bonus!  Smiles.  Actually, at the end of the day, I much prefer my job, I adore it actually, as hard as it can be.  It would just be nice if my School District payed 165 million in retention bonuses, to ensure we would be here next year.  As it stands, some of us are just wondering if they will be able to afford us at all.  Sigh, the ironies of life.  

I guess, when all is said and done, I prefer to be at this end of the totem pole.  My bonus this week will consist of seeing a girl pass the term with flying colors against all odds...and that really is the better end of the deal.  


A Favorite Poem, Written By My Father

This is a poem written by my father that he included in his book of poetry entitled "Mosaic".  And while I don't have a favorite, there are many I love, this is quite beautiful.  

My Body All in Stars

This wide, wide open night I stand miles high
Within the starlight cradling air, 
And in my covering of clay
Awaken little embryonic stars;
Infant suns and moons are kindled on my tongue,
Whole galaxies revolve
Upon the tips of my bright fingers.

I loom higher, 
Melting outward in the drifting air of space, 
Until Arcturus pulses as my bright and spindled heart, 
Until my loins become the rowdy red Aldebaran
Of fecund Taurus, 
My mind the quick blue flame of Rigel. 

O praise that high, expansive unity
That binds my triangle of sacramental self
Upon the altars of the sky
In reverence to those lordly stars
That are kindred brothers to the throne of God. 

- Randall L. Hall


Change; Regression and Progression and The Freedom to Partake in His Goodness

Everyone has heard the false argument that has become a Hollywood cliche, the idea that people shouldn't change, or they aren't being true to themselves.  There is always the movie where someone gets "that job", and suddenly the climax of the film is a friend or lover saying "You've changed, and I don't know who you are anymore."  Yet it's inevitable that people do change and grow.  It's imperative.  Wanting someone to stay the exact same is damning them to reject opportunities to move forward, though this does mean that they can make decisions which cause them to go backward.   

The thing to watch out for is who you are listening as you progress in your life.  I have two forces desiring to help me change.  One would help me to progress to light, freedom, service, character, and divinity.  The other would want to make me think more of myself, attach to things, to create a "lifestyle" that defines me, and to chain me down to all important things like "What do I want to do with my life in my way in my time, and who was wearing what at the Oscars?"

"Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.  And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life through the great Mediator of all men [Christ], or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.  
"And now...I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life..."

(2 Nephi 2:27-28)

The great thing about following Christ in this progression is that He refines our divine natures.  He helps to purify and cleanse, and lead us to what our true essence is.  And so we do change and progress without losing our heritage.  Satan, the father of all lies, not only wants us to change, but in a way that abandons our true nature in the process, creating harshness instead of refinement, and shrinking instead of expansion.  He wants us to disappear inside the ills of society and get lost.  

Here is the fantastic thing about Christ leading us, "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him.  Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. "
"Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden."
"...He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness..."

(2 Nephi 26: 24, 28, 33)



A Tree Grows In Brooklyn


In fifth grade I checked A Tree Grows In Brooklyn out of the library.  I don't think I got very far, and for some unexplainable reason have never read it since.  Luckily I had a 40% off coupon to boarders and the book I was intending to get was sold out.  I called my older sister, a font of useful knowledge and good conversation, for "what books do I have on my To Read list" advice.  As we talked about possibilities I came face to face with Betty Smith's classic. 

"Oh, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn!"  I say. 
"Yes, get it!" She says. 

She had been telling me less then a week before that it was one of her favorite books and I should read it!  It was a sign.  I purchased it happily and now anticipate soaking up a great, never-been-read book just in time for spring to begin making an appearance.  

The anticipation of a good book...


Evening With Grandpa

My Grandma passed away on the 31st of Jan.  I spent a week in Colorado, helping with preparations and then attending the funeral.  Within three weeks my Grandpa lost his wife of sixty years, his house of thirty years, and his home state.  You see, he needed to be out here with family so they could take care of him.  They brought him over yesterday.  

I went to visit him tonight.  He was distraught and tired and aching.  He didn't understand where he was, and why they had put him there.  The plan is keeping him in this truly wonderful facility that is small and personable where all the meals are home cooked and his walls are painted a soft butter yellow.  Pictures of my Grandma hang on the wall.  

We sat on his old blue sofa in his living area and I patted his hand when he began to moan, or ask why he was not at home.  "Why am I here?" was the oft repeated question.   I told him that he was here to be closer to his family, then I named all his children and added that his grandchildren were here as well.  He then said, "Well, that sounds alright."  One of us will be with him at all times for awhile, the problem is he doesn't remember who his grandchildren are.  Just more strangers.  

"I am your Granddaughter."  I said at one point. 
He looked and smiled, "That's great!"
"And I love you."
"I love you, too."

Later, after my aunt and I had put him into bed, I leaned over and kissed his cheek before going.  Opening his eyes, he smiled and said, "Do I get to kiss your nose?"

"Yes."  I leaned forward and he kissed my nose. "I love you, Grandpa."

"I love you too little lady." 


Exciting and progressive, yet the feelings of a million other directions that "could have been" are asking me if I want to launch myself into this world of elaborate blog backgrounds.  

"I don't want to go to Brooklyn!"

"We've all gotta go sometime."

(For those of you who know that reference, you know what I am talking about.)


X marks the Haunt

Kip and I were called as primary teachers a month or so ago.  Since then I have been put into the Young Women program as well, and so Kip goes to sharing time with the class alone most weeks.  Today we were driving down the road and he told me of a little seven year old who all during sharing time was walking around with a green crayon.  

What was he doing?  He was marking "X" on all the chairs.  Kip was amused and as the little boy worked his way up the row, especially when he caught Kip's eye and said in a solemn, erie manner, "Look at your chair."
"Stand up and if it has a green x on it you will be haunted.  I marked all the chairs and for every chair that I mark they will be haunted by a ghost!  I've marked thirty of them already."  

I can imagine Kip now trying not laugh, and he said that by the time the boy had moved on to the row behind him the green crayon was confiscated.  When sharing time was all over he noticed someone had given the boy a rag and a spray bottle, leaving him to "de-haunt" all thirty of those chairs.    


"I can promise you a feeling of peace and joy when you speak generously of others in the Light of Christ."  

- Pres. Henry B. Eyring


Conversation With Grandma

Saturday, January 17th

I call Grandma's hospital room.  They had taken her in on Friday night.  Diagnosis?  Double Pneumonia.  At 92.

"Hello?"  I don't recognize the voice for a second.  I have never heard her so subdued before.  

"Hello?"  She says again. 

"Come on, Grandma," I say.  "Why can't you just be like everyone else?  The rest of us get just normal pneumonia, and you have to go get double pneumonia!"

"It's triple pneumonia!"  She insists in a stern voice, before she begins to laugh.  

"How are you doing?"

"Well, I am thinking of a way to break out of this place without anyone catching me."

I laugh, "I could fly my private jet over and we could go to the Bahamas where nobody could find us."  

"Yes, yes."  She says, "And after I spend enough time down there I'll look so beautiful that no one will recognize me."

"Exactly!  No one will be able to find you to put you back in the hospital."

"I'll just tell them to look up pictures of the Bahamas, find the most beautiful person there, and that would be me."  

We both laugh.

"I still can't believe how you shot up so fast!  When did that happen?"

"I wanted to excel in something," I tell her "so I choose height."

We make a couple more jokes and then I hear her say "hello?" before she drops the phone.  

I called her again today.  She is doing worse.  As soon as I say hi she begins the ritual praising that she does whenever she talks to any of her grandchildren.  Today she can only get out about five adjectives in a low voice telling me that I the "Sweetest, most wonderful, kind, considerate, angelic..."  Most of the time we get at least fifteen.

"You know that we all get it from you, Grandma."

"Well, I am glad you realize where it came from." 

"I've arranged the personal jet.  We can take off anytime you are ready."

"Now, is it at least a ten day stay?"  Grandma asks, with a tone implying that if it's not I'm out of luck."

"I was thinking at least three weeks."

She laughs and I inquire how she's feeling.

"Not very good, but I'll be just fine.  I've just got to shape up and ship out."  She emphasizes the impatience in her voice. 


"Well, I love you, and take care of yourself."  She says, tired. 

"I love you too, Grandma."

"I love you, be good, and take care of yourself."


Grandpa, Grandma, Me, Kip


A Sunday Afternoon Walk On Holdaway Rd.

I wish we wrote more letters.  Rose sent me a fantastic letter today and it helped ease the desire that has crept up in me every since I've been reading through all the Anne books.  Sigh.  I love progress, but sometimes I wish I wasn't so attached to what that means.  Letters are divine.  


A Good Man...

Weaver of Grass is one of my garden friends from whom I beg wisdom about plants, etc.  She is a poet, the wife of a farmer in England, and is absolutely wonderful.  I wandered over to her blog tonight and ran into her January 11th post.  It was great.  I wanted to pass it on to all of you.  

So please visit this blog post called "What we leave behind" for just a few minutes, and I promise it will be worth your while.  It reminds you of the beautiful things in life in an extraordinary way.  
Enjoy...and let me know what you think!