Sunday, July 31, 2011


This is what 54 looks like folks. Yup. Wrinkles and greying but hey, I'm still here. True I move slower and not as much stamina, but I can't complain.

There was a time in my life when I wondered if I would live to see the next morning. Well, I did live and every birthday since my 29th has been a bonus. Bad times, dark times, good times, all a gift. I am glad to have reached 54.

ld surprised me with a CRV, one he had his eye on for a while. Sweet ride. Sweet man.

Keny gave me a wok pan I have been hinting for and JLW gave me a sweet and funny JannyCoupon.

And that Martha-Meghan made the most amazing chocolate cheesecake. She'll post the recipe over at Humble Pie soon.

Thanks for the phone calls, texts, treats, gifts and good wishes everyone. I love you all. Mean it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked

In honor of my pioneer heritage I spent the wee hours this morning walking, er, reading. I like this:

and this, too:

I begin with an insistent question that shoulders aside even truth in demanding our attention: How should we live a life? It may take a long time to discover the truth, especially if we follow the tortuous path of scientific rigor. But we must answer the question of how to live a life every second of every day. We may have only tentative answers, to be replaced from day to day, but some answer we must find for the inescapable query, What is good? What is worth pursuing? What should we give our time to? How should we treat other people? How should we think of them? How should we feel and act? These questions thrust themselves insistently upon us and demand immediate answers in our actions and thoughts. We cannot wait to hear from science or the universities about these matters. We are in the middle of the fray the minute we open our eyes each morning.
We sometimes think that if we knew the true, then we would know the good. The right way to live should grow out of the right way to understand. A goodness based on falsehood would be faith built on the sand. The true and the good should come together, we want to think, and indeed may be close to equivalent. In the pragmatic tradition that has influenced my thinking, I carry that hope one step further to say that what we find to be truly good is the truth. The only truth we can know is the truth that works.

and then later he concludes with this:

The Mormon truth, above all, tells us how to be good and helps us to get there. Faith and repentance are wrapped up together. The goodness that I see in the Mormon lives about me, and day after day in my own life when I construct myself as the scripture directs, is every bit as real as the abstractions of scientific scholarship. I can, if I wish, cast an aura of rationality over this belief in an effort to explain and justify myself to my academic colleagues. Our valiant apologists will go on defending the faith with scholarly evidence, to keep up our connection with the academic establishment. But I hold to my beliefs not because of the evidence or the arguments but because I find our Mormon truth good and yearn to install it at the center of my life. After losing many followers when he taught an especially hard doctrine, Jesus asked his disciples, "Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:67–68). The truth we have is truth to live by.

Go read, people. Go read.

Am I a cultural or a converted Mormon? Would I have recognized the gospel and joined like my ancestors did? What were they thinking and feeling?

Dunno. But they were drawn to powerful ideas. Ideas that motivated them and set the course for future generations. I am grateful to them, all of them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

connecting desert dots

Had wonderful discussions today about part of this talk:

Visited with Meghan about it in the morning and then with JLW this afternoon. I think it has application to evaluating our own upbringing and how we were parented as well. It’s a healthy thing to re-visit our childhood and look at our parents objectively. Warts and all. Most therapy sessions will go there. Formal therapy or not, emerging adults tend to do this consciously or not. I did it, we all do.

It’s an important step because once we get past all the parental flaws and weirdness and the blame ‘they pinned my diapers on too tight’ stuff we are free to forgive our parents and love them with a new maturity.

It is a little scary recognizing my children have and are working out all my parenting mistakes. But I encourage this pursuit with the hope that they will one day come full circle and realize how much ld and I have loved them. And still love them. And always will.

The sweetest words have come already. Words I never thought I would hear. Today. While he didn’t ‘rise up and call us blessed’ the appreciation and love expressed shows he has matured. I will take this kind of love, love that has been tested and strained and recovered over any kind of shallow childlike adulation.

It wasn’t a leap for Megs and JLW and I to see the parallels in this talk. Faith and love, they are not so far apart, I think. Indeed, a maturing faith and spirituality is the hoped for result in all our desert wanderings.

This then:

First, a few words about faith.

As a freshman at Georgetown University, I took a required course, The Problem of God, from a wonderful professor, Dr. John F. Haught. This Catholic theologian became one of my most influential teachers and mentors.

One day toward the end of fall semester, Dr. Haught introduced theologian Paul Ricoeur’s concept of the three stages of religious faith. 6

The first stage, childlike faith, may be likened to the clear, unimpeded view that one enjoys standing atop a tall mountain. As children, our faith is simple and uncritical, and we can see clearly in every direction. There is something quite beautiful about this stage of faith. To me it is exemplified by hearing a chorus of Primary children sing “I Know My Father Lives.”

The second stage Ricoeur calls the desert of criticism. At some point, often during adolescence, we descend from the mountain of childlike faith and enter the critical world. We might label this world “high school” or, better yet, “college.” Here we find that others do not share our faith. In fact, some openly disparage what we hold dear. We learn that the very idea of faith is thought by many to be childish or delusional. We may become skeptical, perhaps even cynical.

The desert of criticism is akin to being in the midst of a blinding sandstorm, where you are forced to lean into the wind and take one step at a time without a clear view of where you are going. Walking by faith becomes difficult. Some of our former beliefs cannot survive the desert of criticism.

Ricoeur did not malign the desert of criticism, for some childish beliefs are incorrect and should be abandoned. As the Apostle Paul says in his discourse on faith, hope, and charity, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

Furthermore, it is only in coming down from the mountain that we are able to enter into the world and engage others who are different from us. To a great extent this is where life is lived and where we can make a difference in the world. Some people never leave the desert of criticism, and in time the memory of their childlike faith may dim. After prolonged exposure to the desert of criticism, some even lose their faith altogether. Ricoeur maintained that once one has entered the desert of criticism, it is not possible to return to the mountain of childlike faith. It is a little like leaving Eden. Something has been lost; life and faith can never be quite so simple again.

But he held out the possibility of a third stage of religious faith. On the other side of the desert of criticism lies another mountain, not as tall as the mountain of childlike faith, with views that are not quite as clear and unobstructed. But we can, as Dr. Haught explained it, remove ourselves periodically from the desert of criticism and ascend this somewhat less majestic mountain. Ricoeur calls this possibility of a second faith “postcritical” naivete or a “second naivete.”

Here the truths and realities of our childlike faith can be reaffirmed or revised. Although the view is not completely unimpeded, and the storms of the desert of criticism remain in view, and some of our childish beliefs may be left behind, we can emerge from the storm and reaffirm our faith. Our faith will not be as simple as it once was, but it need not be lost. In fact, I believe our faith may become more powerful than before, for it will have weathered and survived the assaults of the desert of criticism.

To me, postcritical naivete is a state in which both our hearts and our minds are open and we remain willing to experience childlike spiritual wonder; it is a place where we remain open to the promptings of the Holy spirit. As Paul puts it, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”

-- The Most Important Three things in the World
Brett G. Scharffs (Given at BYU devotional on 12 May 2009)
(Yes, Meghan. Years ago you babysat the authors kids☺)

Much more to think about here.

*6. Dr. Haught’s discussion was an adaption of Paul Ricoeur’s thought. See Paul Ricoeur, The Symbolism of Evil, trans. Emerson Buchanan (Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1967), 347-57; see also John F. Haught, The Cosmic Adventure: Science, Religion and the Quest for Purpose (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), 94-95.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Begin. The rest is easy.

Oh man. Delay, procrastination. It's such a demon.

Lose this day loitering, ’twill be the same story

To-morrow, and the next more dilatory;

True indecision brings its own delays,

And days are lost, lamenting over days.

Are you in earnest? Seize the very minute:

What you can do, or think you can, begin it;

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Only begin it, and the mind grows heated:

Begin it, and the work will be completed.

--attributed to John Anster, also found p. 476 of the 1908 edition of Notes and Queries

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Yup. All made from it. Clicky clicky.

My girls make fun of me. I have discovered a new medium. As much as I love cardboard, duct tape, paper mache and felt I am crazy about napkins. Oh family crafters, do you realize what a fantastic material this is to work with?

In one of my gluing sessions this year, I discovered by accident its many versatile properties.

It sews up like fabric, unlike paper is easily moldable when glue is applied, has a great texture and look, doesn’t fray and is cheap, cheap , cheap as in dollar store cheap.

I have made bows, flowers, banners, costumes, sculptures and even wrapped gifts with it.

Have I persuaded you yet? Give it a go.

Paper napkins make my day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

we celebrate

Kenz and Brig were manning a booth all weekend but Megs, the grandgirls ld and yours truly got up early and went to see the Balloons yesterday.

Great fun, especially if you bring along party-in-a-box Meghan. She taught the girls the Macarena, walk-like-an-Egyptian and all the actions to Y.M.C.A.

Because the 4th is a potato-salad-kind-of-day we headed up the canyon for a little BBQ. Bratts on the menu and big tub of red vines.

More pics over at GP.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I say that the strongest principle of growth lies in human choice. --Daniel Deronda (George Eliot)

Been in this George Eliot phase the last couple of weeks, helped along I’m sure by the DVD collection ld gave me for Christmas. Here:

I watched Daniel Deronda a couple of nights ago and while a lot is missing from the book it’s a pretty decent rendering. I know, I know Deronda is not her best book and has many criticisms. Still, there is something about Daniel that is compelling to me. So much so, that it is this months MoDa selection.

Read it/see it, girlies. Let’s discuss.

Friday, July 1, 2011

goldilocks for the grandies

Our first Grandsbury meeting had us making finger puppets. Thanks to Meghan for the 3 Bears idea. Penee fixed a nice lunch and we chatted as we sewed. What exactly is Grandsbury? Our newly formed sister-in-law Grandma's club. We make stuff for our grandkids and discuss the grand themes of life. Yup, productive visiting.

the creative process teaches

Liking this today:

"What you need to know about [your next piece of art] is contained in the last piece. The place to learn about your materials is in the last use of your materials. The place to learn about your execution is in your execution. The best information about what you love is in your last contact with what you love. Put simply, your work is your guide: a complete, comprehensive, limitless reference book on your work. There is no other such book, and it is yours alone. It functions this way for no one else. Your fingerprints are all over your work, and you alone know how they got there. Your work tells you about your working methods, your discipline, your strengths and weaknesses, your habitual gestures, your willingness to embrace.

"The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly -- without judgement, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes. Without emotional expectations. Ask your work what it needs, not what you need. Then set aside your fears and listen, the way a good parent listens to a child."

-- David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

A definite weekend read.