Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hope Your Christmas Was Merry!

I hope you had a great celebration. We enjoyed a very quiet holiday. Christmas Eve I opened up the woman's gym for those of us who wanted to be prepared for our Christmas feasting then I slipped into K-Mart to finish up my shopping and wouldn't you know it, my credit card wouldn't work. Then my check wouldn't take. That was the most embarrassing experience of 2008.

The sales clerk had to void all my purchases as we waited for Tim to come with money from our pay checks yet to be deposited. In the meantime, I called Sears to find out why I wasn't able to use my card and they explained that my previously canceled order had yet to be removed from my balance. So luckily I had some cash and with a combination of cash and Sears I was able to finish the sale. What a mess! Thank goodness I had the Christmas spirit or I would have found the experience very annoying and I could have turned Grinch-like in my embarrassment.

Tim and I spent Christmas Eve alone. We thought about going to friends homes, but we decided against it and thoroughly enjoyed being together. I watched old Christmas movies and Tim worked on the computer. Good times!

Christmas morning we woke up to find our son Mike downstairs in front of a computer I thought for a moment was his. Why did he bring his computer to our home on Christmas morning? But on closer inspection, I realized it wasn't his. He told me he'd built it for me. I could have melted into the floor I was so overcome with joy.My son never does anything unselfish or so utterly surprising. Not ever. I was dumbfounded. After reeling from the shock, I hugged him and expressed my thanks by bawling like a fool. A new computer, monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse and all that wonderful memory. Wow! Absolutely fantastic! I never thought he had it in him.

All the time before Christmas he was complaining about not having enough money for Christmas presents and all the while he was out finding parts for a computer for his mom. I was humbled. God bless him. He even built the thing himself. What a talented boy! Here he in on the floor under the tree searching for gifts.We spent the day after Christmas at Fry's with Mike as he helped his dad pick out his own computer parts then we came home and he built a computer for his dad. (Tax break!) So we have a very technologically gifted Christmas. I gave Mike food and home supplies and a gift certificate for Vons. Things a man on his own could use. He was delighted. I got tons of books besides my delightful computer. (I figured I've probably read about one hundred and five books this past year.)Here I am with my new books and my new computer. Great huh?We received a gift certificate for Red Lobster from my boss so after Fry's we enjoyed crab, shrimp and scallops on the house. Then came home to overdose on eggnog, homemade fudge and Rice Krispie candy, my absolute favorite holiday treats. Not too many people brought me treats and only one box of See's candy. I guess they figure I'm through with all that stuff. Thank the Lord.

I've had big noisy family Christmases where we rush around to each Grandparent's home and consume tons and tons of food and try to out shout one another. And those were fantastic, but it was a very pleasant event just to sit around with the two men who mean the most to me in the world and enjoy the quiet of easy companionship and the love expressed with simple, meaningful gifts.

I hope your Christmas was just as memorable. God bless us everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Malone's

Tim and I took pictures of each other for our annual Christmas letter. My dear friend Monica gave me the beautiful velvet dress. I purchased four inch heals so I could wear it. I think I look pretty swingin'. We sang at our Stake Christmas concert on Sunday the fourteenth. We just adore Christmas music and don't get to sing a lot of it. Merry Christmas from CarolMerry Christmas from Tim

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Carol says "Merry Christmas"

And I'm not ashamed to say so!

The Grinch said it best when he described Christmas. "Perhaps Christmas doesn't come from a store. Perhaps Christmas means a little bit more." I know I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to running around at Christmas time like a woman possessed and end up missing the real significance of the season--the celebration of the birth of the Savior. We of all people should remember what makes Christians, Christians and pause to recall not only His humble beginnings but his life, ministry and divine atonement for and in behalf of all of us.

I'm thankful at this time of year to stop, pause and remember. Then make a commitment to do better. We could all use a little improvement. I've made some major changes in my life this year, physically. Now if I could say the same about my spirituality I'd really be flying. Everyday is a new day to rededicate ourselves to the things of eternity and see beyond the moment to the far reaching effects our choices will have.God bless us every one!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Men's vs Women's Brains!

If you've got 10.5 minutes to spare, watch this video. It will give you a clear representation of the differences between men's and women's brains. It was very enlightening and all together true. Plus being funnier than heck!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas--Gotta Love it!

As far back as I can remember, Christmas has always a very critically important event in my family. It was a special time of family, great food and presents from Santa. Growing up in a small rural community in Northern Utah, I'd have to say my life was sheltered. (That would be an understatement.) Though we weren't what you would call rich, we had enough and to spare. We had the basic needs that every human craves. Love, fidelity, friendship and loyalty. Christmas was just a time to express those emotional traits.

One of the very first Christmas's that I remember was when I was almost five. I got a huge doll with thick curly hair and a rockin' horse. I treasured them both.You could find me practically every weekday riding my horse to the sounds of "Hi Ho, Silver, Away" or "Keep Those Doggies Movin', Rawhide". Man! That brings back blissful memories. The faster the action on the screen moved, the harder I rode the springed beauty. I put a lot of pressure on those coiled springs.

I remember one fateful Christmas when I had the measles. We couldn't have the blinds open in the front room for fear my eye sight would be damaged. That was a miserable year. I had to stay laying on the couch while the boys had their Christmas cheer without me.

Some of family traditions included mom's homemade oat and chocolate chip cookies and homemade fudge. Grandma Oldham's Alper's cookies and homemade pickles. Grandma Olsen's pies and mom's Christmas dinner. We had a living room that could be shut off from the rest of the house and we weren't allowed to enter the room Christmas morning unless all of us were awake. Trust David, my youngest brother, to be the hold up. He could sleep through an atomic blast and not move a muscle. We'd have to wait hours for him to drag his butt out of bed. Then it was bedlam.

We usually spent the day with Grandma Oldham and then ended up at Grandma Olsen's. The family would gather and good times were had by all. I can still here Grandpa Olsen yelling for me to get out of the way of the T.V.The last Christmas we spent in North Logan, Utah, my oldest brother Scott's family joined us. Judy, his wife, and their two oldest children, Fred and Jon helped us welcome in the holiday. I think that was my favorite Christmas. My second oldest brother, Reed, was designated as the gift hander-outer.Mom and Grandma Oldham were always wearing their aprons and usually in the midst of cooking up a Christmas storm.Mom and dad got new clothes and went out on the town. Don't they look great?Christmas time is a fantastic time for family photos. This was no exception. So many changes happened in that following year. My father lost his business, we lost our home and were forced to relocate to California. I'll always remember that very last Christmas in my home town. Pictured in back: Scott, his wife Judy, Dale's first wife Tanya, Dale, mom, David. Front: me, Grandma Oldham and Reed. Those were sweet, peaceful, innocent times. The world was blocked out of our thoughts as we shared happy times, calorie laden food and the spiritual blessings of being wrapped in the love of family. Thank the Lord these memories will always be in our minds and hearts as we look forward then take a step back. My family will always be the most important thing in my life.

Now I have my own family. A husband and a son. Watching Christmas unfold through his eyes will always be a great pleasure to me. His excitement and enthusiastic response to Christmas morning made my heart sigh. One of the best things about Christmas for Mike, was that most every year we spent it was Grandma and Grandpa Olsen. Even up to the a couple of years before mom passed away, they traveled to California to be with us.Their visit turned our tiny family into a big celebration. We miss them so much. Dad has a new wife now and mom is gone. On the 20th it will been three years since she passed away. Now all I have are memories of Christmas's passed and mom always there.

Well enough of the sentimental journey and just for the heck of it, I'm going to go against the P.C. crowd and wish you all a Merry Christmas! Wow! That felt good. I'll say it again. Merry Christmas! Remember those you care about the most this Christmas, even if you're not related to them. Make memories that you can look back on and feel glad.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Jealousy--it's a relationship killer.

Here's another chapter from my fourth novel. The hero has decided to break it off with his fiance and pursue this other woman. (The women he played tennis with in a previous post.) However, he comes back to his resort and finds the woman in the arms of another man, two men actually:

Anger and betrayal replaced the searing burn of jealousy. What kind of a woman—a newly widowed woman,goes around throwing herself at all kinds of men—any age apparently. He was so angry by the time he reached them he could barely control the urge to pop his brother in the nose.

He stepped closer as they swirled around the floor. Tony stopped dancing for a moment and bowed Claire backwards in a sensuous dip that had her giggling like a school girl. Disgusting, revolting!

Claire saw him for the first time upside down, her hair hanging all the way to the floor. She smiled warmly. "Alex!"

"Is this the best two out of three?" Alex snarled.

"What?" Tony asked, but brought Claire back upright with a snap. "When did you get back?"

Alex ignored his brother.

"Alex.” Her face was flushed with excitement and the heat of the dance. "We didn't know you were back."

"Obviously," he snapped and grabbed her hand off Tony's shoulder. "I'm cutting in."

"Okay." Tony's expression was mutinous but he relinquished Claire and stepped back to his table where Sara was sitting.

Alex wrapped his arm possessively and none to gently around Claire's waist and dragged her hard against him. She let out a little whimper as she contacted with his chest and stared up at him with frightened eyes. He cursed himself but seized her hand in a vice-like grip.

"Didn't you have a good trip?"

"Yes, I had a great trip," he snapped then grimaced when she looked at him like she had to ward off a blow.

"Is something wrong?"

They danced in sharp staccato steps with their bodies fused tightly together. He fought his anger and frustration. "No."

"Then will you tell me why my fingers and the small of my back are going to be black and blue tomorrow morning?"

Her words didn't sink in for a few moments until her smile faded into a scowl.

"Sorry," he sighed but didn't ease his hold. "You've been very busy while I've been away."

She looked up at him, puzzled. "I don't know what you mean."

"I mean you've obviously made up with your boyfriend."

"Excuse me?"

"Boyfriend. And Tony. You seem to be getting along very well with both of them. Can't say as I blame you. They're both very attractive. I guess a merry widow like yourself can't really help it. You’ve obviously been playing the field while I’ve been away. Trying to scope out your next victim…er…husband?"

She looked up at him now those eyes turning to flat smoky blue like the sea before a squall and Alex could feel the controlled rage screaming for release. "How dare you!" she growled in barely tempered fury. "For your information, that attractive young man is my son." Her voice began to inch up in volume. "And you're the one who threw Tony and me together. But he was gentlemen enough to know I wasn't interested in him that way. He’s just a friend. And yes, I am having fun with them. They don't seem to want to accuse me falsely with suppositions that I was sniffing out a new mate like an animal in heat." She stopped dancing forcing him to stop as well. "You can release me now. I don't care to dance with you anymore."

Could there be a big enough rock for him to crawl under or a hole sufficiently large enough to plummet into? If he was going to eat crow he was going to have to do it, and quickly. "Claire...I...I'm so sorry. I'm such an idiot."

"You've got that right. Now let go of me." She twisted in his arms.

"No," he grumbled. "I need to talk to you."

"I said let go of me!" Her eyes were large and no longer blue. Gray, steel gray, hard and enraged.

"Please…please let me explain," he stuttered.

"There's nothing to explain. Your opinion of my character is crystal clear, Alex Cole. I really don't understand how you have the nerve to criticize me for my choice in men in the first place. Who the heck are you to tell me who I can see and who I can’t? You're not my father or my boyfriend or my fi├ín..." she trailed off, grinding her teeth. "And I don't care to stand here anymore and be humiliated further. So take your hands off of me and let me go."

He released her reluctantly, sheepishly and watched her race back to where her son was sitting with his daughter. How could he have made such a stupid mistake? Just to look at the boy now he could see Claire. The golden hair, the ocean blue eyes. Could he be anymore more of a fool? Perhaps if he was lucky a comet would race out of the sky and obliterate him where he stood.

This is turning into a rather long novel. But there's so many twists and turns in the plot of getting these two people who are meant to be together--together. So we'll see. This is the point where I'm at right now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving, yes even you can be thankful!

I've been trying to think about what to write today. So many things race through my mind. I wanted to express my thanks for my good fortune, my family and my life. So often we don't give enough appreciation or let others know of our gratitude for the blessings they are in our life. At this special time of the year, we are given a day set aside for just that very thing--thanks!

I'd like to start by expressing thanks for my life. It wasn't anything that I did that allowed me to sojourn on this planet. I had very little to do with it. I think my parents were pretty much done with their little family. They had four boys quite close together and didn't think of having anymore for exactly eight years after the birth of my youngest brother. But then SURPRISE! they got me.I considered myself a bonus baby, as I was referred to casually from time to time. What does that mean? Well a bonus on a job is a lucrative monetary gift for a job well done, or a gesture of good will from your boss. I like to think I was both. A gift and a gesture of good will. After having four boys, mom needed a girl to talk to.

And was I spoiled? Certainly not, you, you bully. Just because I could do whatever I wanted to, or go wherever I wanted to or got whatever I wanted, doesn't mean I was spoiled, but that's beside the point--I was loved. Maybe an object of jealousy, (I won't mention my brother David. He lost his baby status on account of me.) But I was loved and knew it.I was also taught a good many things for which I am doubly grateful. Mom saw to my domestic education, cooking, cleaning, sewing and Grandma Oldham saw that I learned to iron, use a wringer washer and crochet--and oh, yes, dust the bottom legs of her dining room table and chairs.I was taught in the traditions of my forefathers. Many the day I'd get to spend with my mom or grandma listening to family stories of the past. I gained such an appreciation for the ancestors that left home and hearth to journey to America for religious freedom and gospel solidarity. I can't be more grateful to them for that heritage of faith I was left.

I got the best education government money could buy. Elementary school, junior high, high school and junior college. All pretty much for pennies. Does it serve me well now? You betcha! I can read and write and do 'rithmatic--sort of.

I am overwhelmed at the gospel I've been granted to participate in. I'm so grateful to know that God loves me and that he sent His Son to suffer, bleed and die for me. And that all things were created by Him. So I'm thankful for the green grass, the brilliant blue sky, the waving palm trees and the mild temperatures of Camarillo. How blessed am I to live in Paradise. (It comes with a high price, but it's worth it.)

I've often wondered who atheists thank for the world and all the beautiful creations on it. Mother Earth? Luck or the Big Bang Theory? Good luck with that!
I'm thankful to have served a mission for my church and when I came home to a perceived lonely life, was granted the extreme pleasure of meeting one Tim Malone and the rest, as they say, is romantic history. We were blessed with a bonus child of our own. My Mike. Could there have been a sweeter boy? I don't think so! I have gained the blessings of untold joy and unending happiness. And I know exactly who to thank for that.

So when I see earthquakes, poverty, famine, fires, floods, economic crisis, sin, suffering, political unrest, war, you might ask--How the h#@$ can you be thankful to live in a world like that. Well to quote Samwise Gamgee, "There's still some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, something worth fighting for." That's exactly how I feel about being thankful. Thankful people are happy, contented, peaceful, free from panic and fear. Thankful people love and love unconditionally. I'm still working on that. But I'm thankful for that as a challenge. If I can love in spite of the happenings in the world or people who hurt and make afraid, then I'm truly blessed and doubly thankful.

May you find your own thankfulness. Look hard, it's there. You might just be thankful you're not dead. (Or not!) Tomorrow's another day, life is a present. Enjoy the moment, remember the past and look forward to the future.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yes, I dragged my husband to Twilight!

And he loved it! I know, I know. I'm floored as well. It was my second time seeing the film and his first and he loved it. I have to admit that seeing it a second time gave me new insight and a greater appreciation for the film. So many people said Kristen was too emotionally stiff or that Robert was too cautious. Well let's see, a teen aged girl falls in love with a vampire. Shouldn't her reaction be one of uncertainty or his one of fear he might kill her?

Even after we got in the theater to wait, my husband Tim was reading the reviews on line. There were mixed. Some Twi-hard fans seemed disappointed, others downright mean. However, during the movie Tim turned to me and said it was wonderful, well done and great. He said it was a feel good movie.

Tim was prepared before hand. On our last trip home from Utah, I read the entire Twilight book to him. Often along our journey I'd ask him if he wanted me to drive. But he refused stating that he'd never get to finish the book if I drove, so I continued to read. It took the entire thirteen hours drive to finish the book.

I was reading on other blog posts about the movie last night and ran across several analytical compositions that disturbed me. I wanted to share a reaction I had to two such posts:

Have you ever read Harry Potter, Sleeping Beauty, or Hansel and Gretel? Come on people, Twilight's a fantasy! Not an existential expose on vampire morals and behavior or a teen aged sex manual and certainly not a treatise on Mormon virtue and morality. If every Mormon who wrote a book with only the Mormon audience in mind, they'd never make a dime and no one would read them.

One girl commented on a one of the many Twilight blogs that I frequent saying that Stephenie Meyer was out to convert people to our church through her books. Bah! I never saw any pass-along cards at the end of the book or the Church's 800 number on the last page and I should know, I've read Twilight nine times, going on ten.

For a book written primarily as a teen aged love story about a young girl that wasn't brought up in a Mormon household, it's very innocent. The fact that Edward insists on abstinence goes to his upbringing. As for Bella not being able to breathe when she's around Edward, obviously they've never been a teen aged girl. I was so stressed when I saw my high school football player crush, I almost passed out from lack of oxygen.

It's not the gospel according to Stephenie Meyer or a book to influence young Mormon girls to abandon their precious virtues in search of the perfect lover. It's just a fantasy, an innocent love story that neither teaches Mormonism nor denies it. It just is.Everybody loves to analysis Stephenie Meyer's books to death. Try analyzing the book "Everybody Poops" or "Curious George". I've always wondered just what he's curious about.

I find it interesting that one man pointed out that Twilight was full of "LDS dog whistles" and yet one woman said, "There is nothing 'lovely or praiseworthy or of good report' to be found in these books or movie". I appreciate your analysis and the moral drawing, however, I'm sorry, I disagree with both hypotheses.

The first thing a writer is counseled to do is write what they know. Stephenie is LDS, she loves fantasy and wrote fantasy according to her background. Nothing more or less. We're counseled to read out of the best books, that doesn't mean they're all going to be full of LDS doctrine, real or implied.

I think we should celebrate and rejoice in Stephenie Meyer's accomplishments and in her good fortune. She's brought a lot of positive attention to the Church, a lot more than Prop 8 has. We could use some favorable recognition right now through the good works of one of our more famous members. Thank you Stephenie Meyer.

Anyhoo, I just wanted to enjoy a great movie (whether it followed the book precisely or not), and feel good after an experience in the theater. Twilight fit both bills. It was a pleasure to watch and left you feeling great. Can't we just enjoy it at it's face value without pulling it to pieces?


Friday, November 21, 2008

My Twilight Review--LOVED IT!!

I got to see Twilight at 12:01 a.m. this morning. OME! (That's Oh My Edward, for those of you who don't speak Twihardian.) Anyway, I and my friend Dona, drove the the theater in Ventura, California and for a time didn't think anyone was there until we turned in to the parking lot. The girls were lined up around the corner sitting on the cold ground with quilts and blankets and lawn chairs. At first I thought Ugh! But the friend I brought with me is handicapped and she announced that she'd go to the front door and tell the young man that she had to sit in the lobby.

We parked in a handicapped spot, walked boldly to the front door and simply slipped unrestrained into the theater to wait. My friend and I were the first ones through the door and got terrific seats. Awesome!

What bothered me first thing this morning was all the blistering negative reviews of the movie offered dispassionately by professional but irritated and surly critics. Well, I thought, they're not teenaged girls or mothers or grandmothers of teenaged girls, so keep your negativity to yourself! I wanted to see for myself. And what I saw I loved!!!

I can't wait until I can drag my husband or anyone else who'll go with me to see it again. It moved along so quickly it was hard to see everything in one sitting. It may take many, many times to see it all.

One of the problems with reading any book that's turned into a movie, is that you've already seen the movie in your mind. You know the characters intimately because they're creations in your head. That's how it was for me. I had Edward and Bella's faces pictured clearly in my mind. But I believe that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were magnificently cast in those two roles. I was impressed with the other castings as well, except Eric. He didn't have the chess club look about him. But Jacob--well he's just to die for. Can't wait for New Moon for him to shine.

I heard some Twi-Hard fans are not exactly crazy about the film. It bothers me. Could the movie have followed more closely to the book? Could there have been little things that made the book so endearing included in the movie that weren't? And could the sequencing of the movie followed more closely to the time line of the book? Of course. But if they followed the entire book, word by word and page by page, I'm afraid we'd have all fallen asleep before it was over and technically, it could have been made into a mini-series of epic proportions that lasted a week or longer.

Now don't get me wrong, I love Stephenie Meyer and her books. I've read Twilight nine times and her last three books four times apiece. You have to admit that Stephenie is quite verbose and tends to over analysis and describe things in excruciatingly long-winded detail. She uses about 255 pages to develop the relationship between Bella and Edward from first sight to the declaration of their love. Well in a movie--even a two hour movie--that's just not possible. So cut them some slack people!

Some might feel they were left with unfulfilled expectations and desired a longer love story. Others think the bad vampire attacks--which weren't in the book at all--weren't necessary. I've heard it described as you've been offered this culinary master piece of a meal that will follow with a fantastically rich dessert. However, you're not allowed to eat the dessert when you've finished the delectable food. So you go away feeling dissatisfied--even though you were well fed, ate scrumptiously and are full. There's just no way to satisfy everyone.

As it stands, I enjoyed my Twilight meal and thoroughly intend to eat well again. (I'm a dieter, I can use food metaphors.) It's just too bad we're not all screen writers, movie directors and producers. Well there you have it. So much for my professional critic of the movie Twilight. Go see it, judge for yourself.

You have to admit though, Robert Pattinson's a hunk!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm seeing Twilight at Midnight--Tonight!!!!!

I can't believe it already here! I'm going to see the very first showing of Twilight in Ventura County at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning. My friend is going to go with me. We're heading out about 2 hours early so we won't have sit on the front row. My husband was going to go with me, but bailed at the last minute. He assured me he'll go when the hype dies down. I told him "good luck with that".

Anyway, there's a song from the movie by Paramore that I'm just in love with. It's hard pounding rhythms, pulse stopping guitar rifts and her vocals are astounding. I've included their video. It has some scenes from the movie. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Let's take a break!

I thought I'd like to lighten things up a bit. There just isn't enough frivolity and laughter in the world. So lets take a break from the political unrest, economic crisis, plagues, diseases, famines, earthquakes, floods, pestilence, global warming, wild fires, devastation, and enjoy a comedic moment.

Take a moment to enjoy a group of guys entertaining people with their version of synchronized swimming.

Enjoy, for tomorrow we die!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Another excerpt from my fourth novel-Tennis Anyone

Sorry I haven't written anything in my blog for awhile. We did the 90th Birthday trip to Utah and I've working almost everyday. One of my dear friends shared a wonderful, healthy recipe for a Pumpkin Smoothie with me. Enjoy:

Here's the recent recipe I received from my friends. It was cool and refreshing, right in step with the holiday season and charged my batteries:

Healthy Pumpkin Smoothy
½ cup canned or roasted pumpkin
½ cup vanilla soy, rice or almond milk
½ cup water
½ cup crushed ice
2 tablespoons pumpkin butter
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 scoop green drink powder
Dash of Stevia (natural sweetener or honey)
Blend & Enjoy

I'm also working feverishly on my fourth novel. I previously posted my second chapter of the same book. Well I'm on Chapter 38 now and see no end in sight. (Of course the chapters are only 4 pages long telling a segment of the story from the different character's points of view. Should be interesting. Anyway, I thought I'd publish another section of one of my chapters. This book features the woman who lost her husband. She's one of the two main characters. Claire is the hero who's gone to San Diego to be her Best Friend's Matron of Honor. But to complicate things, she falls in love with her friend's fiance, Alex. Trouble! Makes a great story. (At least I hope it makes a great story!) So enjoy the tennis match:

“How about a game of tennis?” She smiled shyly, a little challengingly. “You up for it?" Her lip twitched as she studied him.

“I wouldn’t want to embarrass you.”

“I can handle myself,” she grinned widely. “Afraid?”

“You’ve seen my trophies, little girl. Get prepared to weep bitter tears.”

He took her elbow, felt her stiffen slightly, and ignored the slamming pulse in his finger tips as he maneuvered her out the door of the club. There was a game of one on one taking place on the basketball court, but otherwise the tennis court was empty, available. Outside the gym there was a side door that held equipment in case people didn’t bring their own. Alex led Claire to the door, held it open for her and followed her inside. They walked around the racks of tennis rackets and choose the racket that felt best. When she was ready, he picked up a bucket of balls and walked through the door behind her.

“Should we flip for sides?”

“No. I’ll let you decide. Either way, you’re going down.” The light of challenge was in her eyes and he liked it. She smiled smugly and sauntered past the net and took up a position in the opposite court. She looked really good in pink bike shorts.

“You can still change your mind.” He laughed.

“Don’t bet on it pal,” she smiled and flicked her finger in a ‘come ahead’ motion.

He’d just played a few days ago. Beat the tennis pro here at the resort by seven games to three. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Bring it.” She called gripping her racket in both hands, her feet wide apart. She moved lithely rocking back and forth, her knees bent in readiness. She looked confident, arrogant. He’d take extra enjoyment in beating her.



“Okay.” He arched his back, flung the green fuzzy ball high in the air. Half way back to earth he smacked it with all his might and watched it zip over the net with only inches to spare. What a shot, he admired. What he didn’t see, until it was too late, was the ball zoom back at him, sailing past as it bounced in the back court just inside the line. He turned to stare at her in dazed confusion. Had she really returned his ace serve? She still moved lightly back and forth from foot to foot. She didn’t even look winded. He felt old. “Nice one,” he grudgingly called out.

“Thanks. Try again.”

This time he thought he’d float one over, catch her off guard. Sneaky, he thought smugly. Again he arched his back, swung the racket behind his head, tossed the ball high and barely tapped it. It dunked over the net and shot back at him before he had a chance to duck out of the way. The ball grazed the back of his neck leaving him speechless.

“I didn’t see you move. How’d you do that?”

“Timing, reflexes. It’s all in the moves.”

“Well you’ve got them.” Like a tiger. She moved like a tiger. “Thirty love,” he yelled. Again he tried to zing one past her and had to put up his racket in self defense when it flew like a rocket at his head. Luckily his reflexes were quick, finely honed and the ball bounced back on her side. But before he could gloat, she dunked it back. He ran forward, but was much too late. “How’d you do that?”

She smiled sweetly and he wanted to tackle her--wipe that cocky grin off her face. “Just lucky I guess.”

Luck, schmuck he grimaced. She was a ringer sent to torment him. “That would be,” he cleared his throat choking on the words he rarely said. “Forty love.” This time he aimed for the back corner to her left. Back hands were always trouble to return for a woman. No strength. He let it fly, a bullet over the net and just as stunned, watched it come back just as fast, her racket gripped in both hands.

They went on this way for a few games. She had him four to one. It was humiliating. He was sweating like a cat in a yard full of dogs. She however, looked sweet and deceptively unaffected in the early morning blaze of sunshine.

He managed to salvage a couple of games and tied the score. Then decided a tie was better than defeat and offered to let it stand.

He watched her walk toward the net, suddenly shock registered in his brain as he watched the color drain out of her face, her eyes roll back in her head and her legs melt like butter. He was over the short net in a flash and caught her just before her knees hit the cement. “Claire!” He shouted, sweeping her up in his arms. “Claire can you hear me?”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Family Blog

I am the editor and chief of my Olsen family newsletter. I thought I'd get around to doing a newsletter once a month, but getting family information was like pulling teeth and I'm not a dentist.

So I decided to start a family blog and my dad's name wasn't taken. So if you're interested in family junk and my family has a lot of junk, especially me. My junk is by far the worst. Check it out at Paul Olsen Family Blog.

I'm leaving Thursday, October 23, 2008 for Northern Utah. It's my dad's 90th birthday celebration. Although he turned 90 last Sunday, October 19, 2008, the rest of the family is having a get together this Saturday at my brother Scott's chapel in Brigham City. It's the only place big enough for my family.

I'm the only one of my dad's children that lives outside the state of Utah so my husband Tim and I are the only one's who have to travel for two days to get to Brigham City, Utah.

I'm the one trying to look out from behind my brother Scott.

Just to let you know the extent of my family. I have four older brothers. Scott, Reed, Dale and David. Between the four of them there are 34 grandchildren. I only have one son, Mike, (see previous post).

At last count, those grandchildren have had over 75 great-grandchildren and numerous great-greatgrandchildren. My family takes very seriously the commanded to "multiply and replenish the earth". I figured one times one is still one. That's why we only have one child. (Right!)

So hopefully it won't snow and mess up my weekend. I don't do snow!

We make as the usual stops along the road to Brigham--new kind of Mexican restaurant in St. George; the Famous Cheese Factory in Beaver (for curds); The Church's distribution center on 17th South in Salt Lake for church stuff; and great buffet in Salt Lake City, if we're lucky.)

We're going to attempt to go to the Logan Temple. It's for research for my second book as well as wanting to see inside. That's where my parents, my maternal grandparents and my fraternal grandparents were married. Then we slip by another cheese Factory on 10th North in Logan for all kinds of dairy delights. And I can't forget to purchase my year's supply of Brigham City's famous candy on the way out of town. I'm on a diet now and have to ration my chocolate supply until our next trip to Utah. Do you think that just one year, just one trip I could go to Italy or China or someplace equally as thrilling? Probably not! My life and my love and my family are in Utah, so that's where we go. For sympathy, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mormon Mommy Blog (my version)

I'm always impressed and a little saddened to view the proud Mormon Mommy blogs that are out there. Impressed, because these wonderful women are raising exceptional children and have the right to boast about their offspring. Saddened, because I missed out on having a Mommy blog. So here’s my attempt.

Tim and I married in July of 1982. (That’s a long time ago for you who are counting.) On our honeymoon, we went back to my mission area in Kansas and Nebraska. We also went on a wild goose chase to Texas pursuing a dream career for Tim, but that’s a subject for another blog post. (A really long and terse blog post!)

In November of 1982, I got pregnant with my only child, a son. I have to tell you that I was never so sick in all my life before or since. I think I used to pray to die it was so bad. I didn’t just have morning sickness, I had morning, mid-morning, mid-day, mid-afternoon, later afternoon, early evening, evening and nighttime sickness. The doctor was afraid I’d dehydrate or blow a gasket or something equally as vile. I managed to break all the blood vessels in my eyes and sprain a few ribs. Fun, don’t you think?

I’m not sure when the sickness ended, but in April of 1983, Tim decided he wanted to work for the church. The church was interested and flew him to Salt Lake for an interview which turned out great. We packed up all our belongings and had my brother Dale haul us to Salt Lake and we found a basement apartment on 6th East and 6th South. We stayed there until the landlady made it impossible for us to live civilly as neighbors. (Tim never got the job with the Church.)

We had to pack up and move in two days. I was eight months pregnant. The forced move caused my blood pressure to soar out of control. Suddenly we were in a new town, (Logan, Utah) I had a new doctor and going to give birth at a new hospital—all in one miserable day. Not the best of welcome's. We arrived in Logan on Friday afternoon, ate a chili dog and drank A&W rootbeer and then shuffled off to the Logan Regional Hospital where the doctor on call, (my doctor went out of town), induced labor.

I labored all Friday night, all day Saturday, (thank goodness for National League Baseball), and into the night on Saturday. The obstetrician on call decided to go horseback riding and forgot all about me. He finally strolled in about ten p.m. and found both me and my baby in distress. Without so much as a sorry excuse, I was hurled into the operating room, freezing cold, hooked up to tubes and wires and scared out of my mind. Because it was an emergency C-Section, Tim couldn’t be with me. There was no time for easing me into sleep, they just poked and prodded and forced that awful mask over my mouth and said “good night Gracie.”

Much later, when someone slapped me and told me to wake up, that I had a beautiful baby boy, I wanted to slap the person back. You see, I was expecting a girl. My doctor in California promised me a girl. I’d prepared sweaters, booties, and baby clothes for a girl. However, when Tim came to see me in recovery, he insisted I had a boy—not a girl. I was still too groggy from the anesthesia to argue with him. I couldn’t verify that interesting little tidbit because they didn’t bring him too me for several hours after delivery.

But when I finally saw my little boy, my heart was lost. I knew immediately the name we had chosen for him was wrong. He wasn’t a James Paul (after both our fathers), he was a Michael and I knew that without question. There was something about that little cherub face that spoke of Arch-angels.

From Logan we moved to Brigham City, Utah and then back to California. My son grew and matured. He was the delight of my life. I wish I could say I was the delight of his. I was tired. I guess that’s the best way to say it. Now that I look back now, I gain an enormous amount of weight after Mike’s birth and that added to the heavy burden that I felt. Thank goodness I had Mike to help me find a great happiness even though I felt like a miserable louse inside.

We moved frequently, but he never complained. I often thought how horrible it was that he would never be able to say that this or that home was his childhood home or the town where he was from. He did well in California. We took him to the beach for the first time. He loved it, especially the taste of sand. I never thought he’d put it in his mouth. But it made a great picture.

He also learned to walk while we lived in Claremont, California. He loved his friends and I babysat a couple of children that he adored.

Mike developed his love of computers at a young age. He was barely eleven months old when his father left out first computer down on the coffee table. Mike knew he wasn’t supposed to touch it, and from the grin on his face, he knew better, but the temptation was too great. From that single finger poke came his unconditional love of computers. Mike still works with computers doing help desk work at a company here in Camarillo.

Though he’s grown now, just turned twenty five years old and finally moved out of the house, he’s still the joy of my life. It’s not always been a smooth path Mike has chosen, and my heart has been dragged through the street a time or two, but he’s grown into a kind and loving individual, one I’m very proud of. So maybe I do have a legitimate right to brag about my baby boy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wait, what, I need therapy? What are you nuts!

This was my very reaction when my acupuncturist, Tim (pictured below to the left) told me he thought I had issues with money. I told him you have to have money to have issues with it. He laughed and said that was his point, I had a bad attitude about money, or the lack thereof, and needed to talk to someone about it. I think the only thing that really bothers me about me is that when I have to pay for something and I know very well that I don’t have the money for it, I come unglued, cry a lot and basically plunge into a serious depression. That’s not crazy, right?

So I thought I’d humor Tim (not my Tim) and take his free counseling session that he offered me. It was an offer from a new counselor in the Camarillo area. It was free (another money issue) so I went.

He has an amazing office. A lavishly tiled floor, expensive elegant furniture, the kind of place to inspire relaxation, I suppose. After waiting for a moment while he conferred with his office person, I was shown back into one of his “therapy” rooms. I fully expected to see a psychiatrists couch, but was disappointed when he took a overstuffed chair in the corner and I sat on what I thought was a velvet sattee.

My emotions were near the surface and threatening to boil over when he began to talk to me. He first asked me while I was seeing Tim, (not my Tim). I told him I was having difficulty with the sciatic region in my back and it was causing me considerable pain in my feet and back. The next thing out of his mouth shouldn’t have surprised me, or come as a shock. See I’ve been a big girl, (if you’ve read any of my posts up to this point you’ll know this), so I shouldn’t have had a melt down when he asked me if I’d ever considered losing weight. Come on. What would you do or say? Suppose you just dropped ninety pounds in a year and were still working like a dog to get the rest of it off? Maybe I have issues with my weight as well.

Anyway, after that comment I had a hard time listening to anymore of his counsel. I was already incensed. However, when I stopped to think about it, I really should have cut the guy some slack; after all he didn’t know me from Eve. He had no idea I’d already dropped ninety pounds. He just saw that I was huge and thought he'd offer constructive criticism. But I was already too irritated to listen.

The man has some great ideas for getting rid of stress through meditation, refocusing our minds and energies and learning techniques for self-affirmation. He’s written ten books and is working on another. He does belief in prayer as a way to overcome depression and stress and works with religious and educational organizations. However, he didn’t give me a cure for my money issues. I have come to the conclusion that we’re all a little crazy. How else do we survive a world full of craziness and insanity?

When I came home and told Tim (my Tim) about my session with the counselor, he was sympathetic to my plight, but had his own spin on my phobia. He told me it’s not so much a matter of money or the lack thereof; it’s a matter of security. I just don’t feel secure. Tell me who feels totally secure in today’s world, well except for Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

Anyway, I like to give you just a few examples of my basic insanity:

I’m crazy about the church and my Lord, Jesus Christ (well not so much crazy as zealous!)
I’m crazy about my husband Tim.
I’m crazy about my son Mike.
I’m crazy about my 90 year old dad and my extended family
I’m crazy for the Twilight series of books, thus that makes me crazy for the new Twilight movie to open 11/21/08
You might also add that I’m suffering OCD (That’s Obsessive Cullen Disorder for all you Twilight Fans)
I’m crazy about anything chocolate (a chocolate coated bumper might taste yummy!)
I’m crazy for Dodger Baseball (If they don’t beat the Phillies I’ll really go insane!)
I’m crazy about rock n roll

I also have fears and phobias:
I fear my own death and that of loved ones (it's just scary)
I fear the loss of security or jobs
I fear liberals (only the screaming kind)
I fear having health problems, surgeries
I fear I’m going to miss an episode of “Dancing with the Stars
I fear I’m going to have to wait in a long line at the opening of “Twilight”

I also have obsessions:
I’m obsessed with perfection, though my home, my clothing or my life would not reflect that perfection
I’m obsessed with Twilight
I’m obsessed with getting my hands on as many books as possible
I'm obsessed with losing weight and feeling better
And I'm obsessed with anything chocolate (a chocolate covered bumper just might be tasty)

Okay, okay, I’ve got problems. So does everyone. Is there really a “normal” standard that people are supposed to measure up to? Well I can’t see it. We all have our fears, phobias, obsessions, craziness and insanities. Isn’t that what we do every day? We do the same thing over and over and over again and expect different results. For example: we get up, get dressed, eat, and go to work (school), come home, eat, sleep and repeat. I personally believe like Bon Jovi did when he sang his song, “Everybody’s Broken. See if you don’t agree.

Step into the deep end
Make yourself at home
When you wonder why you're breathing
Know you're not alone
It's so hard to believe
It's easier to doubt
You're trying to hold in
But you’re dying to scream out.

It's okay to be a little broken
Everybody's broken, in this life
Its okay, to feel a little broken
Everybody's broken, you’re alright
It's alright, it's just life.

Take a look around
Tell me what you see
Is who you think you are
Who you want to be.

So it’s ok to be a little broken

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Twilight--The Real Happy Ending

WARNING: If you have an aversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint theology, please DON'T READ THIS!!!

"Breaking (The Morning of the First Resurrection) Dawn"

I have a totally ingenious (Latter-day Saint version) squeal for "Breaking Dawn". I thought it up all my myself. I should be knighted or something equally as grand, because this idea is so heavenly, so divine. I'll bet no one else could come up with an alternative ending to Twilight that is so perfect.

Anyway, enough self-gratification. Let me set the stage. First of all, Bella and Edward get married, we all know that. They have Reneesme, (silly name), she grows up, (in 7 years), marries Jacob (ew, sick), they start on their happily ever after. Well they can only go so far in their version of "happily ever after', right? Vampire, werewolves--no matter how long their live in "their" version of immortality, even they cannot survive a world that is destroyed in some cataclysmic explosion of Biblical proportions, right?

Well that's where my next best seller comes in. You see Forks, WA sits inside the boundaries of the Washington Tacoma Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I could see the missionaries assigned to Port Angeles becoming very curious about the folks in the small town of Forks. I could almost picture their mission president sending his most tenacious missionaries to the area. You know the type, the Elder Kessler and his companion, (I can't remember his name from the Mormon show "Saturday's Warrior"), a real set of bulldog missionaries. These are the never-say-die kind of missionaries that won't take no or a door slamming on their double souled Bone Sierra Lace-up shoes for an answer. Like I said, bulldogs!

I can picture them now, trudging down that long road out of town toward the Cullen's cut off, eager, anticipating finding that "Golden" family. (Because they haven't had one baptism in eighteen months of hard labor.)

They aren't detoured by the long, three mile winding, fern over grown lane that is obviously impossible to find unless you were a vampire and this was home. But our senior Elder, let's call him Elder Moss. (That seemed appropriate for the location.) And his companion is Elder Green, (funny, right?).

Anyway, they're trudging through the squishy emerald green vegetation, being led by the spirit. They haven't seen another house for a very long time and Elder Green starts to get cranky. Well more like--scared to death. The dark grey clouds are low, threatening like giant bloated water balloons, so not only will they be stuck out in the un-godly green hell, they'll be drench as well. But Elder Moss is undaunted. He can smell the prize. Well he can smell something--and it's sweet!

After a long deathly quiet trip, they break through the ferns and into the meadow, or the large lawn in front of the Cullen's mansion. Stunned into silence, Elder Green can only gawk, his face pale, his lips red from biting them. But Elder Moss moves forward to the porch. There are lights on in the home and he knows people (funny again) are inside, so he's going to knock until someone opens the door. Elder Green is really that, by now he's physically green. He has a bad feeling, a terrible deep down, hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck, fear. He winces and trails reluctantly after his companion. What the heck, you only live once.

Anyway, just as Elder Moss prepares to knock, the door bursts open and Emmett Cullen fills the doorway looking like he just found lunch, a delicious beef steak and a juicy pork chop. He licks his lips and Elder Moss nearly swallows his tongue. However Elder Moss finds his voice and prepares to give his door approach. At the same time, Emmett is ready to roll on the ground with laughter from the look on the Elder's faces.

"Hi, sir. My name is Elder Moss and this is my companion..." Elder Green is inching his way nervously off the porch and has one foot on the top stair. "Elder?" Elder Moss's eyes are wide with fright.

Elder Green freezes. Elder Moss turns apologetically around to face Emmett. "Sorry, he's a bit shy." He smiles as Emmett who looks back over his shoulder and laughs. "Anyway sir, my companion and I are missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we've come to your home to deliver a vital message for your salvation."

Now Emmett roars with laughter, almost doubles over with glee. You know what he's thinking. Remember the whole "lost" soul thing that freaked Edward out. Well Emmett's not buying it. And by the time he's through laughing, he's not alone at the door. Jasper has come to stand behind him and Rosalie at his side, Alice under his arm. Elder Moss sees Rosalie and forgets his name, where he came from and why he's standing at the door.

"Elder?" Emmett grins. By now Elder Green has returned to Elder Moss's side and their eyes are glued to Rosalie's face. Emmett's booming laughter rings through the rafters, but he grabs their arms and jerks them inside. "Welcome, boys. Won't you join us for dinner?"

Well I won't bother you with the "gory" details, but suffice it to say, the Elders are very persuasive. The entire family listens to their lesson including Edward and the new and improved Bella. Jacob and Nessie are there, so are Leah and Seth and Charley and Sue. The spirit of the Lord permeates the home filling them the answers they've been seeking their very, very, very long lives.

Anyway, cutting to the chase, they all get baptized, even the Indians at La Push who are delighted to read the Book of Mormon that tells about their "real" ancestors and everyone's happy.

They explain to Edward that it's not the heart that gives the body animation, it's the spirit. And the spirit and the body are the soul of a person. Edward is convinced that his soul is saved and he believes the Lord will forgive him for his indiscretions while he fought his nature. (Of course, we can't know that, but it makes a great story, right?)

Epolog: A general authority visits a stake conference in Tacoma and learns of the major baptism of Elder Moss and Green and he wants to meet the La Push families and the Cullen families. During their interview, this man gives them a blessing and they're freed from their dark night of torture. They all become human. Rosalie is ecstatic, Bella's mad and Jacob and Nessy are thrilled.

So here's the deal. It's the last scene in the Seattle temple. Everyone, well almost everyone from Forks is there. Carlisle and Esme are sealed, Emmett and Rosalie are sealed, Alice and Jasper, Edward and Bella, Jacob and Reneesme and Charlie and Sue are sealed. Then Reneesme is sealed to Edward and Bella, and Edward, Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper and Alice are sealed to Carlisle and Esme. Now there's not a dry eye in the temple--now that they can cry again. Elders Moss and Green are feeling like heroes of a Biblical epic.

Can't you just see that happening. Wow! What would be better than real immortality and Eternal Life. Could there be a better ending than that? I don't think so.

(Leave your kudos for my brilliant new novel in the comment area. Thanks.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weight -- Update!

As of September 26, 2008 - total weight loss = 101 pounds.

My Weight Watchers leader asked me what was the best part about losing 101 pounds. I told her it was "losing 101 pounds". What's sweeter than that? It took me a year to lose 31 pounds at the gym alone and seven months to lose 70 pounds with diet and exercise.

I don't know.
Can you tell a

I spent the following Saturday morning remodeling some of my clothes. My good friend Monika gave me some fabulous blouses and dresses. One was a size 14/16. IT FIT!!! I also found a skirt that my tiny mother wore, and IT FIT!!! But all in all, having clothes that are much, much smaller and fit is only a side benefit of losing weight. My doctor just dropped my high blood pressure and my cholesterol and heart medications. I'm only on 1/2 of a blood sugar pills. (Refer back to one of my previous posts about the benefits of losing weight.)

People ask me all the time, where did you get your motivation. Like I've written before, there wasn't one single situation, event or idea that sparked my motivation. It was many things. It was mostly a matter of control. For the majority of my life, food was in control of me. It was my Lord and master. Now I'm the master, and I can eat what I want, when I want and stop when I'm satisfied. And that--is something I never thought I'd be able to do.