Saturday, November 30, 2013

So, I Read A Stephanie Meyer Book...

http://bookishtemptations.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/the-host-cover1.jpg*

 As I perused the audiobook selection of our local library last week, I came across Stephenie Meyer's The Host. I know there's a lot of audiobooks at our library I have not yet read/heard, but this one caught my attention. 

But first, a little story. Back when I was in college I took a beginning acting class at the U. I remember our teacher and I believe he was getting an advanced degree in theater at the U, but I'm not sure. I learned a lot of things and had a good time, but one thing I remember distinctly was the fact that our instructor did not hold a high opinion of shows currently playing at the university's main stage. In fact, he didn't like much of anything or anyone that reached a higher level of accomplishment in the performing field.

In short, I think he was jealous. Of course, his knowledge of the craft could have been to a point where when he saw a production, he saw things I didn't see and so where I saw something good and entertaining, he saw a big steaming pile of something else.

Or, he could have just been jealous.

Which brings me back to Ms. Meyer's book. I have not read any of her better known works. I wasn't boycotting them. They just didn't interest me. And by not reading them (or watching the movies...) I forfeit the right to express my own opinion of the author, her writing, or her books. I think many in my shoes (haven't read anything...) don't let this stop them.

Now...the book. I did not hate it. It wasn't my favorite book. There were moments that were well done, well crafted in creating a setting. Sure, there were parts where the story required I alter my believability standard and the relationships were presented in a way that made me scratch my head a bit. 

But, I think she did a good job in creating a different world, a world of interesting possibilities. I felt it was well paced, and held my interest through the entire thing. I don't know if after reading this I will attempt her other novels, but I don't believe I need to. And what does this book have to do with my beginning acting class instructor? As a writer I've heard a lot of other writers criticize Ms. Meyer's writing. Maybe they're just jealous.

* Photo used without permission from: http://bookishtemptations.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/the-host-cover1.jpg

Friday, November 29, 2013

I Would Have Loved To Not Drive Today, But...


I must admit from the onset that I am not blaming anyone for my predicament this morning, except maybe me. This is not a "they should have done this," or "why don't they do what I think they should have done" post. It's only an observation.

I volunteered--yes, volunteered to work today. Since we took a vacation only a month ago and since I've had off the Friday after Thanksgiving for the past six or seven years, I felt I might as well work today.

The question that I had to make this morning was, to drive, or take the bus? If I drove, I could leave work early, or when the work got done. I wasn't sure how much work there would be, but I knew there would be at least a half day's worth.

Of course, if I took the bus, I'd be somewhat stuck at work until the buses ran in the afternoon. I could take a slow bus, but no internet or nice seats on those buses.

I went to the stop about five minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive. I was the only one there, and the parking lot was noticeably vacant as well. But I figured that not many would be working today. The time for the bus to arrive came and went. It was only then that I checked the bus website. Black Friday schedule: Buses would run a Sunday schedule, and my particular bus doesn't run on Sundays. I ended up driving anyway.

 

Which made the message on the huge interstate message board that much funnier to me. I understand the bus people are in a no-win situation. If they don't adjust their schedule people could accuse them of being insensitive to their employees--making them all work on Black Friday. If they do adjust their schedules, people like me could complain that we--as taxpayers--deserve to have the buses run when we want them to run (notice please the first paragraph--this is not a dig...), never mind that had I done a little homework, I could have avoided the confusion.

I hope the drivers had a wonderful time with their loved ones. Knowing that they had that opportunity made driving to work no problem at all.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What We Did And Did Not Do This Thanksgiving...


 I write this blog mostly for my family, and if you've read more than a couple of posts, you already know that. It's not New York Times worthy, but once in a while, I'll hit one out of the park. For the past two years I've written about our Thanksgiving day adventures.

And so the tradition continues.

Things we did:

Slept in
Ate turkey
Created a fruit plate to somewhat resemble a turkey
Watched football
Napped
Put puzzles together
Went to the in-laws for dinner
Made homemade egg nog
Celebrated my birthday with a birthday pie
Ate pies
Took photos
Ate stuffing
Took videos
Sent text messages w/photos to friends and family
Ate too much delicious food
Played Scrabble
Carved (poorly) the turkey
Compared thumbs around the table
Went on a drive to see Layton City lights

Those things were a lot of fun!

Things we didn't do:

Didn't get up early
Didn't participate in any sporting activities (turkey football, 5Ks, etc...)
Didn't camp out and/or participate in any Black Friday sales events
Serve Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter
Eat vegetarian
Go to see a movie
Skimp on delicious food

 

I hope you and your family had a wonderful day and remembered just how blessed we all are, because if you did, then you did what we did, too. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

To My Birth Mother: A Letter Of Thanks On My Birthday...


She would know...if she saw this post and realized that I was born on this day in the largest city north of Utah's capitol in the mid-1960's, she would know that I was that baby, the baby she delivered then allowed someone else to raise as their own.

Did she ever question her decision, either before or after I was born? Did she hold me in her arms? Did she cry knowing the life she carried would not grow to call her "mom" or run to her when knees are scraped or feelings hurt?

I talked to a friend this week who adopted three children. We talked about how things have changed over the last 40-odd years. He met and knows the mothers of those children which I find fascinating, not because it's wrong, but because it's so different than what I experienced.

Has she ever wondered what kind of person her son grew up to be? Was he successful with a big house and a high-profile job? And kids, did she have grandkids, a daughter-in-law--or maybe ex-daughters-in-law? Would those who raised him love him as much as they could?

I don't like the term birth mother--never have. It's not a bad term, necessarily. Yet, I can't bring myself to call her my mom because that term's reserved for a woman who earned the title. No, my birth mother's more than just a birth mother. She's a special person I've never met who cannot possibly know how her selfless decision changed everything.

Does she think about me? 

Yes, if somehow she read this post, she would know it was her son writing. Maybe she could see herself in that adorable baby face. Or maybe something else would let her know. I don't think about her a lot, but I did today. So, wherever you are, I'd just like to say thanks, thanks for everything.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Secrets...A Short Story

Coffee tree with ripe berries on farm
mysteryenvelope

A little confession, much of this story is based on actual events. Of course, much of it is fiction used to further my little story. I won't say how much is true. You can have fun with that.

Here's the rules if you'd like to give our little writing exercise yourself:

1) Include both of the photos in your story in some way.
2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday to link up (leave a comment if you don't know how! We'll help you out!)
4) Link up with your blog hostess (Nicole, Carrie, or Leanne) when you’re done via the inLinkz linky on their sites.
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.

Secrets

"I still wish my dad would have talked to me about what he did," I told my co-worker when he casually asked what my father did for a living. We were discussing my childhood, growing up in Southern California, and he asked me about my dad. Life's been difficult for me since I lost him last year, and he lost his dad when he was just a boy. Maybe he was interested because he and I were the same age and he had his dad for such a short time, and me...I had my dad all my life.

When I told him he was a military man, my friend's interested piqued again. His dad had been a WWII soldier--Army Air Corp, I believe. I told him that my dad worked at Edwards and other air force bases. He worked with guidance systems and other things, but I really couldn't tell him much. 

I remember as a little girl I would meet my dad as he came home from work and he'd pick me up and swing me around. It seemed to always be summer when I was a kid. I'd ask him if he had a good day and he always said he did.

He had an office in our house, I remember that. It was dark, had a big desk and a plant that produced berries every few years. I'd want to go in and play in there with my Barbie dolls. He'd let me, sometimes. He did have one rule, however, and that was I could never go into his office when he wasn't there. 

Well, I loved my dad and I always did what he said...except once. I never told anyone this, not even him, but one day I knew my dad would be out of town for a few days and my mom was at the store. I snuck in and looked around. I'd been in that room many times before, but this time it was different. It was scary, and to be honest, exciting.

I walked over to his big desk where he always sat and I saw something on it, a big letter envelope. I thought about opening it, but instead I ran out and I never ever went back in when he wasn't there.

Just before he passed away I asked him if he would tell me about his work, his career. Most of the people he worked for had died and much of it had been made public. I thought it was no big deal. He said no, and he never did tell me. My friend doesn't remember his dad very well. Me...I remember a great man who I knew could keep a secret.

Word Count: 454

Monday, November 25, 2013

Inside The City County Building...A Photowalk



I've taken many pictures of the Salt Lake City/County Building, but from the outside. A few weeks ago I took another break from work and traveled inside. The building doesn't have huge expanses of space, but it is very cool inside. I tried to get some good shots. If you're in the area, don't just appreciate the building from the way it looks outside. Take a tour inside. I think you'll find it interesting, too.







Sunday, November 24, 2013

So, We Got The Chromecast...


Last Tuesday I bought this at Best Buy. The ads and concept intrigued me. And, it's only $35!

I should have done my homework.

Now, I'm not saying I wasted my money--not at all. What it does, it does really well, and it's quite a little marvel of technology. What I didn't know is that the device doesn't broadcast everything on your computer to a TV. Sure, you can watch Netflix from your iPhone or Kindle, but not from your laptop. You can watch YouTube videos from your laptop (or iPhone or Kindle...). Also, you can't watch Amazon Prime programs or programs you bought on iTunes on it.

It makes sense, of course. Chrome is run by Google. If I wanted to watch everything on my computer, I should have bought an Apple TV unit, but they're 3X the cost of the Chromecast.

So, in short, I've gotten about 1/3 the use from the Chromecast as I would from Apple TV. I guess it's an okay deal. 

But, I should have done my homework.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Son!


Growing up I loved November, and what's not to love? It's the month after one of the best kid's holidays ever--Halloween. Thanksgiving's in November which meant getting out of school and pigging out with family. It's when the air gets cool and the promise of snow teases children with the possibility of sledding and skiing.

And, it's when birthdays roll around.

I have several friends who have birthdays in November. My dad's birthday, my brother's birthday, several best friends have birthdays in November. And my birthday is in November. I remember when we were pregnant with our second child, we did the math and we knew the birth would be in November. I was stoked!

Our son arrived on November 23, four days from my birthday. Little did I know then that he and I would be so much alike.


From the beginning, it was pretty obvious that my son resembled me, and by resembled, I really mean the kid could be my twin! And age has only added to the resemblance. The picture of my son in the blue blazer--that's pretty much how I looked as a mid-teenager.

Couple of things about my son. He's wicked smart, like three steps ahead of you smart (he and I differ on this point...). Although like me, he can be a little shy in certain circumstances. He takes to computers like a fish takes to water and he has a good heart, he really does.

I can't imagine my life without my twin and the past decade and a half have been an adventure. I sure do love that kid. Happy birthday, son! It's great having you here!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ever Been To Man Camp?


"Hey son, you wanna go to a Man Camp?"

He looked less than enthused. "Come on! It'll be fun!"

Did I know it would be fun? I hoped. If I hadn't struck up a casual conversation with a co-worker yesterday I would never have even known about Man Camp. I know you find that hard to believe--me not knowing about an event in my own hometown, but it's true. My friend was participating in the barbecue contest. 

And the best part of the event--guys get in free on Friday, which happens to be today.


So, after some coaxing, I gathered up all the men in the house (my other boys were at a writing class...) and we drove to our first ever Man Camp.

The highlight of our visit? Taking tours in the pre-owned RVs that were for sale. My son loved them--and truth be told, so did I. If I had an extra 50K, we could travel in style. Maybe later.

While everyone in the world--it seems--were busy dwelling on events that happened five decades ago, my son and I had a fun time wondering what if... Bounce houses, multiple radio station booths, and several food trucks all to entice men together in one location. I'd call it a Man Camp!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Remember That Time I Wrote About Baker California?


Maybe it was the fact we had driven over 1500 miles in six days. Maybe it was having seen San Francisco, L.A., Disneyland, and several California beaches in that same time period. Maybe it was the fact that I knew when driving from L.A. to Las Vegas can be--I'm not going to say boring because there is a lot of things to see--well, a lot of the same.

Whatever it was, I singled out Baker California and used it as the subject of one of my blog posts. You can access that post: HERE.

I had no way of knowing that in a few short weeks my son would receive his mission call for the LDS Church and his assignment would include the town of Baker California.

 

Now, there's a chance he will not be assigned to serve in Baker, or Barstow, or parts of Death Valley... But on the other hand, how cool is that? I mean, Death Valley! He may serve in the many highly populated cities included in the mission boundaries.

When I served decades ago my mission had cities and the country, urban and rural. I loved meeting people in different circumstances. Of course, that will happen anyway.

Baker, Barstow, Upland, Ontario, Chino, Victorville, Apple Valley, and Rancho Cucamonga. Get ready!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rebecca Skloot's Story Of Henrietta Lacks...Incredible

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks*

As I listened to Rebecca Skloot's amazing biography I looked at the picture on the book cover. The image haunted me as I heard the story. The book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been out for a few years so I'm a little late to the party, but I must say, it's an incredible story.

The picture of the book's focus haunted me because of what happened to not only her, but her children and grandchildren. And if her story wasn't enough, the result of her life has affected almost every person on the planet either directly or indirectly. She and the research done because of her, are that important. I'm not scientist, but you don't have to be to understand and appreciate this story.

Skloot's book, which required years of the author's life to document, tells the story of one woman who died of cancer in 1951. Before she passed away samples of a growth were taken from Henrietta and sent to a laboratory. Scientist had tried for years to see if human cells could survive under laboratory conditions without success. Henrietta's cells changed that. Not only did they survive, but they thrived. So much so that these cells from that one sample can be found all over the world more than sixty years later.

There are so many amazing facts in Skloot's book it's hard to isolate even a few to include here. The book is more than a simple story about a woman who died of cancer. Just as one person's life affects so many others, Skloot presents us with a true story of love, sacrifice, heartbreak and how we are all connected.

The picture, for me, is haunting. If you read Skloot's book, you may just agree.

200p§

* https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6493208-the-immortal-life-of-henrietta-lacks

§ Photo used without permission from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrietta_Lacks

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Downtown Photowalk In Autumn...


Last week (or maybe it was the week before...) I had to get out of the office and take a walk. So, I grabbed the camera and had some fun. All these photos were taken within a block radius of my building. There's a lot to see.












Just some things to see in downtown Salt Lake City on an autumn day.