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?”