Friday, October 31, 2008

ain't misbehavin







the crew






















quadruple digits

My Halloween greetings will have to wait a bit.

Because this is my 1000th post, everyone.

Thank you, thank you.

Okay, thanks.

Quiet down, folks, I've got some words to say here.

I started this blog nearly four years ago. I started it as a way to keep in touch with friends and family without having to keep track of everyone's email addresses. That's what I told myself, but really, it quickly became apparent that I also just wanted somewhere to organize my thoughts and ideas. And a place to get some feedback on those thoughts and ideas now and then. And a place to converse and debate about whatever I'm feeling worked up about or don't understand.

I was talking with a friend yesterday about happiness because of a book I'm reading (more on that in a future post). We were saying that one definition of happiness could be the ability to live in the moment without the desire to be doing something different, being someone different in another place. Boredom is a choice. One of the most unexpected benefits for me of maintaining this blog has been developing the ability to live in the moment to a far greater degree. I get much more excited about and appreciative of the small things in life now, and I think it's because of blogging.

Another great blessing has been making friends with other bloggers. People I've never even met in person. The very first day I blogged, I met Amity. Except, she didn't know it. :-) I wanted to see who already possessed the address mainegirl.blogspot, thus forcing me to add an extra "l" to mine. I was amazed to discover it was a fellow Maine girl (come to think of it, that shouldn't have been so surprising...) who had been an exchange student to South America in high school, just as I had. I worked up the courage eventually to introduce myself. I actually got to meet her a couple years ago! About a year ago I googled "jolly rancher ornaments" and stumbled upon this post. It was the mind-boggling Christmas schedule of a mother of three (and expecting another, I think?) crazy expat lady living in Mexico. In spite of the inferiority complex that particular post gave me, I kept going back to the blog. There was something about her. It turned out we share the same religion, went to the same college, and graduated the same year from high school! And we are both so fabulous! Sorry, I got carried away. So that is how I met Gabriela, now in Brazil.

This is not one of those high-traffic blogs. I never intended that it be and it always surprises me to find out I have some readers I don't even know. I see in my stats that some people keep visiting here--people who've never commented and I don't think I know. There are a couple readers in New Zealand, for example. Hi!! Thanks for reading. No, don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to give up your lurker status. Lurk away!

I love the discussion we have here. I had a couple emails recently thanking me for bringing up interesting and controversial issues on my blog. I wish I could say I do that for all of you, but I have purely selfish motives. It does make me feel a little vulnerable to splash my opinions all over this public space. However, I learn so much from the comments people make, I always feel it's worth a little embarrassment. I love it that people seem to feel comfortable commenting here, even on the most divisive of topics. I hope we can continue that. I hope everyone feels safe, but not so safe you get complacent. :-)

A couple days ago I did something I seldom, if ever, do. (I can't remember right now another instance I've done this.) I was reading a blog I frequent, and something the blog owner said made me uncomfortable. Normally I would forget it and move on. This time I said something. I was tempted to fire off a sarcastic comment, but I resisted. Instead I said words to the effect, "This is what it seems to me like you are saying and I find that condescending. Is that what you meant?" The blogger soon replied that she hadn't meant that but could see how it could be taken that way. She apologized.

I've learned from participating in and observing blog communication, that many times people write things they would never say in person. I think twice or even thrice now before I comment. People also sometimes make comments that could be taken different ways. I always try to give someone the benefit of the doubt. If it bothers me that much, I ask for clarification. At least, I did so two days ago and that will be my modus operandi moving forward.

Thank you, online friends. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. And have a spooktacular Halloween! I'm off to pull out the gypsy costume.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

on christina

1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient). And did you know that 80 percent of babies diagnosed with Down's Syndrome are aborted? Here are more statistics.

A while ago, maybe it's been a year or so, I watched a Christina show about abortion and Hispanic women. Christina is a Hispanic talk show host on Univision. Christina made it clear at the beginning of the program that she is in favor of legal, safe abortion. However, she also said she thought that women should know exactly what they are choosing when they get an abortion. They should know what the baby looks like, what it will feel, and what other options may be available to them. She had a number of women on the show who had chosen to have abortions, several who had been strongly encouraged or even forced by family members to do so. All of them said how much they regretted it and how they had been told things like, "It's not even a baby, it's just a tiny little seed inside you right now" (to a woman 12 weeks pregnant). All were very distraught about it, except one young woman in her mid-20's who'd had five abortions and knew she'd have more because she didn't like to practice other forms of birth control.

There was one woman at the end of the program who only had a few minutes, but I would have liked to hear more from her. She said she grew up near L.A in a Hispanic neighborhood. She realized as a college student that there were four abortion clinics within a mile's radius of her childhood home. She said that there were always flyers from these clinics everywhere she went, encouraging Latin women to come into the clinics. She started to wonder, who is behind this? Why so many clinics and why so much pro-abortion propaganda in my neighborhood? She did some research and found that some groups supporting the clinics and propaganda had an interest in keeping the Hispanic population low. I don't remember that she was able to share more information and I don't remember her name or anything. I think she had published a book on her findings.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

fewer abortions

Cocoa posted about her thoughts on abortion today and I was going to leave a comment but decided to write my own post instead.

I want to make it clear that I do not believe in the "right to choose" as far as terminating a pregnancy goes, except in the cases rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Cocoa quotes Russel M. Nelson (see the entire article), an apostle of our church on this and I agree whole-heartedly with what he says here:

When the controversies about abortion are debated, “individual right of choice” is invoked as though it were the one supreme virtue. That could only be true if but one person were involved. The rights of any one individual do not allow the rights of another individual to be abused. In or out of marriage, abortion is not solely an individual matter. Terminating the life of a developing baby involves two individuals with separate bodies, brains, and hearts. A woman’s choice for her own body does not include the right to deprive her baby of life—and a lifetime of choices that her child would make.

I agree with Cocoa that just because something is legal, it doesn't make it right. However, whether or not you agree with Roe v. Wade, that's what we have. It's a legal precedent of over three decades. I don't believe there will ever be an overturn of this precedent because most Americans do not want that. So, I'm not interested in talking about Roe v. Wade. However, we would all like to see the number of abortions reduced, right? Why are we not talking about that? Since there isn't going to be an overturn of Roe v. Wade, why are politicians not talking about ways to reduce abortion? I'll tell you why. It's because liberals don't want to give the impression to voters that they favor restricting abortion rights in any way. Conservatives don't want to give the impression that they are committed to anything "less" than an overturn. Liberals are stuck on defending Roe v. Wade and conservatives on attacking it.

This is what hurts our country: polemics. Why can't we get over attacking other people's positions and get down to solving problems in a practical way?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

halloween feis






Friday Lidia and I went down to Chicago for the Halloween Feis on Saturday. Lidia has some exciting news about something we bought there. ;-)

I was reluctant to go. We registered a few months ago and it seemed like a good idea at the time, but by Thursday night I was crabby about it. It seemed to take all week for me to prepare to be gone 1 1/2 days! You'd 'a thought I was leaving the country.
Anyway, go we did, and it turned out to be a blast! We carpooled with another dance friend and her mom and that made the drive very enjoyable. It was wonderfully entertaining to watch the kids dance in their halloween costumes. I wish taking photos of the stage were allowed so I could post here some of the other incredibly adorable or creative costumes the dancers had on. I believe there were over 1300 dancers. There was even trick-or-treating and games at this feis.
I didn't even know we owned this costume--I found it in the basement a few weeks ago. Lidia says her abuelita gave it to her. Throughout the entire day, strangers came up and said how much they loved Lidia's costume and dancing. One teenage girl who was on the stage next to Lidia's told her she loved her costume and thought her dancing was excellent, too. Lidia seemed a little overwhelmed sometimes by all the compliments. The judges liked Lidia at this feis. She got three second places and two fourths. It was a very competitive feis with large groups.
Here are some more photos, including Fauna as Audrey Hepburn and me as a gypsy. I'm sad I didn't get more photos of Lidia with friends from dance. Some danced at different times and stages and I didn't catch them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

more thoughts on systems of government

Sorry for the lame post title. I'm trying to be less incendiary. :-)

Cocoa posted a link in her comments to a speech by Ezra Taft Benson, a former apostle and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower. For some reason the link didn't work for me, however, I am very familiar with Benson's anti-communist and anti-socialist views.

Check out this quote from Earnest Wilkinson, former BYU president:

"I then had a conference with Brother Benson, who is very much concerned over the socialistic tendencies of Brother Brown. I then had a conference with President Brown, who is very much concerned over the super-patriotic tendencies of Brother Benson."

President Brown was Hugh B. Brown, Benson's fellow apostle and councilor to President McKay (president of the Church 1951-1970). After Benson gave a General Conference address that condemned communists and socialists, Brown complained: "All the people in Scandinavia and other European countries are under Socialistic governments and certainly are not Communists. Brother Benson's talk ties them together and makes them equally abominable. If this is true, our people in Europe who are living under a Socialist government are living out of harmony with the Church."

I think President Brown makes a great point--something we should keep in mind with an even larger world-wide Church now with more members outside the U.S. than within. And I think it's too bad we don't hear so much now about the moderate views of some of our past leaders. Why is President Brown not quoted as much as President Benson?

Athena commented questioning the idea of finding a balance between socialism and capitalism. The thing is, it's all a matter of degrees from what I can see. Again, I am certainly no expert. It's not that our market is "free" while France's is in bondage. Both are regulated, but France's more so. And it's not like we don't have socialist programs in the U.S.--we have many, and it could be said that they help support capitalism, creating a more stable environment for it to thrive. It there is too much risk, there is too much potential for failure and that's not making a happy workforce.

I was really interested in the Smith quoted by Skousen quote, that true wealth is "development of farms, factories, homes, plentiful clothes, cheap fuel, good streets, good schools, hospitals, efficient transportation. . . " Wouldn't it take a measure of "socialism" (I obviously need to be careful how I use this word) to accomplish some of these?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

you could knock me over with a feather




I just wanted to point out that my husband has commented on my blog. First time ever. I have been blogging for going on four years and the man has never left a comment. I should post about socialism more often.


In other J news, he spoke at a funeral today for the first time. He was really nervous. After he spoke, an eighty-six-year-old woman who, let me tell you, has been to a number of funerals in her life, came up to him and told him that was the best talk at a funeral she'd ever heard. I must say it was pretty good.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

equality

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

~King Benjamin, a prophet in the Book of Mormon

It was so interesting and enlightening to read all those comments on my "socialist" post! Thanks, guys! I really appreciate you taking time to share your insights.

Here are some additional thoughts:

I don't see extreme forms of capitalism or socialism (as in, one without the other) as desirable in any way. As far as Satan goes, I'm sure he's totally stoked (literally, in his case) when either of those systems cause people to suffer.

I am obviously no expert on this, but it appears to me that most(?) countries are honestly trying to find a balance between the two. A healthy economy should provide meaningful employment for those who want it. It seems that some countries who have many social programs and an immense tax burden on the citizenry struggle to provide jobs. It's great that college is so affordable there, but when you graduate, where do you work? People who work hard should have access to affordable health care. Obviously, that is not the case in our country.

I've been thinking a lot about this since I became a gospel doctrine teacher in February. In the Book of Mormon, time after time it happens that the people prosper and then there is an ever growing divide between rich and poor. These communities eventually become divided, weak, and easy prey for their enemies. They are conquered, put into subjugation, they humble themselves, they turn to God, they repent, they overcome their enemies and begin to prosper... and then it happens all over again.

I would much prefer to live in a place where there are no rich and no poor. I would give up a lot to live in such a place. I would live in a smaller house, drive cheaper cars, take fewer expensive vacations, eat out less, own fewer things, etc. I would pay a lot in taxes if it meant that those around me could also have the opportunity to be healthy and well-educated. I would certainly give up precious things in my home (ok, I don't have many--maybe my new flooring?) if it meant that we could have more beautiful public spaces.

Maybe that's just dream. But I see no reason why we can't get people decent health care and affordable college tuition.

Monday, October 20, 2008

creepy argentine gnome

I get all my weird news from Anaka's Diary, the blog of children's writer Kristen Miller, author of the awesome Kiki Strike books.

Today I learned that this gnome has made a couple appearances in an Argentine village. Isn't the video cool?

does socialism make people lazy? do i care?

We've all had the opportunity to see the seamier side of capitalism of late. It's really makes me wonder if it's all it's cracked up to be.

I've heard a lot about the bad side of socialism. That it's crippling to the economy, that it makes people lazy, etc. I remember J telling me once about a conversation he had with a European on this topic. J told the European that from his point of view it seemed unfair that people who don't work should be maintained by those who do. The European's response was more or less, "What business of mine is it if they are lazy? That's their business. What matters to me is that there not be poor people around and the social ills they cause."

If I had the opportunity to live in a community where there were no poor or rich people and I happened to be one who had to pay mega-taxes for the privilege, I would do it. If there were decent libraries, an admirable public education system, and affordable health care of reasonable quality for everyone, I would consider it very much worth it. No question.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

enjoying it while we can







This past Thursday and Friday the kids had school off. We had so much fun! Thursday J took the kids to the Science Museum and I had a quiet afternoon. (You may think that now that I'm kidless, most afternoons are quiet. Not this week!) Friday we made tamales. Saturday we enjoyed perfect fall weather and the kids convinced J and me to go jump in the leaves with them. As with any type of play my kids create, it was crazy, exciting, and a little dangerous.
The kids got along so well with each other this weekend. I kept noticing that. They played together a lot. Tons of laughter. I really appreciate how great Georgie is with the kids. She can still have a lot of fun with them even though she's a teenager.
I've gone through times when I'd think to myself, "Will my kids ever get along? Will they ever like each other? Will they want to hang out when they're grown?" And I have doubted. But this weekend I saw that yes, they can and yes, they will.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

cranberry apple walnut pie


I made this Monday for our Family Home Evening treat. It was soooo good. Here is the recipe from the Captain Lindsey House Inn in Rockland, Maine. I did not make my own pie crust. I bought one. So sue me!

Monday, October 13, 2008

dad's near-death experience

I got this email from my dad last night. I am posting it here with his permission:

I don't want another day like this. A near death experience from drowning in liquid cow poop is not comforting to one's mind. I'll explain this one as clear as I know how.I was digging out the old poop from the large lagoon that we used when we were in the dairy business. This is a huge pit that stored the poop until spring time. In the spring we would spread it on the corn fields for nutrient value. The last few years I didn't need it, so I left it there. Now I want the compost manure for one of my fields. It material is 4-5 ft. deep and thousands of tons. Today I was digging around the perimeter to drain the water under the mass. The excavator is what I'm digging with. I am about to drive out of the pit sloped side to higher ground. The machine is on a steep slope, and I'm digging my way up the bank and driving the machine at the same time. One side stops climbing. I can't move. I'm starting to swing the boom around to pick up the side that has stopped. The machine suddenly slides right down into the pit and turns over on its side. The door is pressed against the manure and sinking into the pit. The front window is 3/4 covered with solid manure. It won't budge. The upper window is my only hope. And, nobody knows where I am. The manure is slowly pressing up through the cab where I'm laying as the machine sinks further into the mush. I am laying right in the manure that has come into the cab. I try kicking out the window where the metal bars are on the upper side. I have very little room now to make any kind of swing with my leg. The window won't break. I look behind me and I see a wooden handle sticking out of the manure that has engulfed the cab. I twist my body and get a hold of it. I now have a very short distance between the window and the poop. I hit the window repeatedly with the hammer and it doesn't break. I twist the hammer to make contact with the sharp edge of the hammer and the glass. After 3-5 more blows it shatters. Now, how do I get the bars spread wide enough to get this chubby body through them? I remember the Gerber Multi-tool that Dtv gave me for Xmas years ago. I started wearing it this year, it comes in so handy, everyday that I work at this kind of work.I look at the screws at the end of the bars and they have a phillips head on them. I open up the tools, in kind of panic mode now, and pick out the phillips tool and twist real hard and it turns the screw. I get it out pretty fast and twist it out of the way. I'm not sure if I can get out still. I try to get one more screw out of the next bar, no go. I press my butt down into the mushy crap and get my head out though the window. I twist and push with whatever I have left and finally work my body out the window. I get up on the ground and stand there for a while. I don't really care that much about the machine right then. I know it is going to sink into the crap and finish filling the cab. I'm thinking, "thank you Dtv, thank you very much for thinking of the the unusual gift for me. " I may wear that little tool on my hip for a very long time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

orchard


We're having glorious fall weather this weekend. Yesterday we went to an apple orchard. We saw some friends there who recommended desserts from the bakery. So we got four of the desserts and tried them all! More photos here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

who wears the pants?

This article about a recent study done on who wields more decision-making power in the family, husband or wife, was very interesting, but certainly no surprise to me. In nearly every family I know, it appears to me that the couple either make decisions together, or the wife has more of the decision-making power with the husband having a "whatever makes her happy" kind of attitude.

In our family, J and I make the big decisions together, but I do relate to this:

According to the author of the study, David Vogel, what he and his team witnessed during recorded conversations wasn't a case of men tuning out when their wives started talking. Rather the researchers saw that when spouses engaged in debate, the women gained more ground than their husbands did. "[The women] were communicating more powerful messages and men were responding to those messages by agreeing," Mr. Vogel stated in a press release.

Friday, October 10, 2008

geography of personality

This may be a better indication of where you should live. It's a fascinating WSJ article on a study done on regional personality traits. Guess which state ranked 50th for "conscientiousness?" (That word is nearly impossible to spell.) To find out, click on the interactive map in the article and scroll down. I was surprised that two states beat out NY for neuroticism.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

oh. my. gosh.




You Should Live in Arkansas



If you don't want to live in Arkansas, you might also consider:



Nevada

Kansas

Kentucky

New Mexico

Oklahoma

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

confessions of a solo dress addict


This morning Lidia and I were checking out the new dresses that have been put up for sale on DanceAgain. Suddenly, I smelled something. I bolted down the stairs to find, yes, burnt oatmeal. It was bad. I think I may have ruined the pot.
The above dress is a new, off-the-rack for sale on the Dancing in Celtic site. I love the colors and the panels on the front, which remind me of leaves. Lidia's favorite dress so far, one that I worried was too small for Lidia and then it sold, was made by this shop.
Lest you think I spend all my time online gawking at solo dresses, I should mention a few other things I've done lately:
I've been practicing violin again. This morning Lidia heard me laboring over a song I used to play so easily and she said respectfully, yet firmly, "Mom, I think you should try some scales." I admitted that I'd forgotten the scales. She patiently taught me two to work on. Lidia practices scales diligently and her fingers have become strong and sure.
I've written over 1000 words of my novel in the last three days. I've had the basic plot idea, time period, setting, and characters for this book for over a year and I've been working on the outline. I had to decide if I was going to do historical fiction with a setting in medieval Spain, or create my own fantasy setting based on medieval Spain. Or do something of a mix of both, for example, have the setting be medieval Spain, but create fictional cities and people based on real. Right now I'm leaning toward alternative history. There will be real characters from Spanish history in my story, but things will turn out differently in my book than they really did in history. Besides writing, I've done a lot of research too. This has taken most of my time the past week.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jeffrey Holland's "angel" story


As far as I can tell, there are quite a few more non-Mormon readers of this blog than Mormon readers. (I hope it didn't offend anyone to call you non-Mormon. I tried to word that several different ways but nothing was working...) Anyway, I think this story from Saturday afternoon's session of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would appeal to anyone. Actually, I think most of the talks in in G.C. would appeal to most people.

To hear this story (make sure you've got a box of tissues) go here. On the strip at the bottom, click "Saturday afternoon." Click on "Elder Jeffrey Holland." The story starts about halfway through his talk, so forward to 8:40.

I also highly recommend watching one of the Children's Primary Choir numbers from that session. Keep that box of tissues handy. My favorites were "The Light Divine" and "We Thank, O God, for a Prophet."

Saturday, October 04, 2008

yet another solo dress



Here it is Conference Weekend and I'm posting about outrageously expensive solo dresses. Talk about mammon. I do feel compunction, but looks like I'll go ahead with the post. (btw, I cried all the way through that story Elder Holland told about the boy and the "angel." What's been your favorite talk so far? I don't think I can pick!)
What do you think of this one? The skirt style is the very latest trend. I think it will catch hold quickly because it is so much lighter and freer to dance in than former styles.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Dear God, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry... have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere--be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.


~Frances Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Thursday, October 02, 2008

georgie's bread


She made the dough last night at YW and baked it this afternoon. It's delicious!!