Wednesday, September 7, 2016

One Night in the Netherlands

We flew from London to Amsterdam via the Stansted airport. This airport seemed like it was more about shopping than traveling. The hall twisted through shops and merchants making it impossible to walk a straight line between gates--and there were almost no places to sit. We ended up bunched together on the floor waiting for our train.

Our flight to Amsterdam was uneventful, as all good flights should be. We arrived early evening, picked up our rental car, and headed for Alkmaar, a city where Larry had served as a missionary nearly forty years ago. I was so grateful we had daylight for most of our trip because I loved the wide open fields, the charming farmland, and the occasional windmill.

The light was fading by the time we found the street where Larry had lived in a charming brick house across from a shady canal--at the end of the street a magnificent windmill.

We spent the next day at the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum and walking to Anne Frank's house. (We weren't able to get tickets, so we just walked by it.) For lunch, we picked up food at a grocery store and Larry bought some of his favorite missionary food--a waffle sort of cookie filled with a maple syrup and a drinkable sort of yogurt that tasted--to me--like liquid bubble gum, although it did have a picture of strawberries on it.

We were running late for our train to Paris so Larry dropped us off at the station while he returned the rental car. The rental car attendant took mercy on him and offered to drive him back to the station. But then he--the attendant-- got lost and ended up driving the wrong way on a one way street. Realizing his mistake, he put the car in reverse and tried to back down a ramp. When the police arrived, the attendant reached over to the passenger side door, pushed it open, and told Larry to run.

He did make the train, and we were soon on our way to Paris. Pictures to follow

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Loitering in London

After a long flight from Los Angeles to a lay-over in Iceland, we arrived in London around noon, groggy, but excited. We went straight to the chapel where I used to attend the Hyde Park Ward thirty-five years ago. Natalie and Miranda were thrilled we made it to the young adult ward, and Natalie was especially happy to find a Chinese Sunday School.
After church, we dropped off our bags at the hotel (a charming place serving a full breakfast near Piccadilly Circus) and after a short nap, we headed out for a walking tour. We visited Big Ben, Leicester Square, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey and promised ourselves longer stops on the days ahead.
Buckingham Palace had an exhibit of the queen’s dresses. The girls loved this, Larry not so much. My favorite was the queen’s dollhouse, complete with working lights and plumbing.
You can buy a tour of Westminster Abbey, but we chose to attend an evening service. It was long, some of it was in Latin, but the music was gorgeous.
We ended the evening at the musical, Funny Girl. I loved this sooo very much. Larry commented that the lead seemed made for the part. She cried when the audience gave her a standing ovation. Imagine our surprise when we realized she was the understudy. It still makes me weepy to think about it.
We rented a car and drove to Windsor Castle. (I wouldn’t recommend this, but I know it was the right thing for us to do—I’ll explain why in a moment.) It took us hours to weave our way out of London’s traffic, and we arrived in Windsor much later than we had hoped. Still, I love Windsor—the castle and the small town. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror and it’s been in use continually since the 13th century. It gave me shivers to learn that there has been a worship service in St. George’s Chapel since the 15th century.
We accidentally drove past Runnymede (yeah!) Don’t know what that is? The water-meadow at Runnymede is the most likely location at which, in 1215, King John sealed Magna Carta which affected was the embryo of the development of parliament. Now, it’s a big empty field, but it’s cool to think of those early Anglo-Saxon kings powwowing there.
After that, we made our way to the London Temple where the girls had a miraculous and serendipitous meet-up with a high school friend currently serving a mission at the visitor’s center. (There was much hugging and crying.) While the girls attended a temple session, Larry and I went to dinner and held our own powwow on ways we could improve our trip.

While Larry returned the rental car, the girls and I walked past my old BYU center where I had studied during the eighties. Later, the girls toured London Tower while Larry and I toured the Bridge. We had intended to hit Portobello Road, but we ran out of time. After three days in London, we weren’t quite ready to leave. But we did. Next stop—Amsterdam. Pictures to follow.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Anyone have thoughts on my blurb or cover? I'll publish it soonish.
Everyone talks to animals. Some do it every day. But very few stop to listen for a reply. But Lizbet Wood does. And this is just one of the things that set her apart. But she really doesn’t understand how different she is until violence shatters her solitary existence.
While Lizbet seeks to understand why mother sought refuge on a deserted island in the Pacific Northwest, she comes face to face with the dangers her mother tried, but failed to escape. When her mother is gravely injured, Lizbet is forced from the island and thrust into a new world even more complex and threatening than she could have ever imagined. A world where the animals have no say…or do they?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Movie Reviews

I recently flew from Istanbul to Los Angeles--twelve hours--and that meant I watched some movies and read a book. (I'll save the book for another blog post.)
So the movies...
Me and Ear and the Dying Girl
I loved this movie so, so much. I could relate to every character, even though each was unique. (Although maybe not the drug dealer, or Earl's thug brother, but I saw a piece of myself in everyone else--the moms, the teens, the dad, the goofy high school teacher). And you think it's a movie about Greg and Rachel, but it's really about so much more. It's about how Greg relates to his best friend (co-worker) his parents, and the rest of his universe. And maybe because I also had someone close to me die while I was in high school, I cried. But don't skip it because you don't want a weepy movie. This never once sunk into cliche or melodrama. It was fresh, funny, and oh so human.
Money Monster
I liked this one, too, although it was supposedly edited and the F-bombs were flying. Maybe because it was a Turkish Airline and they thought the F bombs didn't need to be edited. Anyway, this movie made me think about money, how hard we work, and how often our money seems to have little to do with our daily efforts. On my grandparents' farm, if you didn't work, you didn't eat. If you didn't milk a cow you had dry corn flakes. Today, I write a book and someone else may buy it or not. I didn't think about my books, work on them, or promote them while I was traveling and yet people still bought them. (It's very cool when you think about it). But this is a movie about how money moves and how it's easily lost through no fault of our own.
This is a classic rags to riches story, but even though I didn't enjoy it as much as the other two movies, it did make me think. I'm sure they demonized the dad and half-sister, but I found it interesting that even though they were awful, Joy put up with them. And it made me think about family and community. Since this needs it's own blog post, so I'll leave it for another day and post a link when I write about the importance of community and how it's a lot like government.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding, 2
Very silly. Sweet. Glad I didn't pay for it, or make my husband see it, but it wasn't a waste of time, It also made me think about community, families, and why they're important. Or maybe I was just focusing on that since I was returning home after an extended stay and I was anxious to be surrounded by my own loved ones.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Acceptance- Learning to Love Others inspite or Maybe Even Because of Flaws

Sometimes letting go doesn't mean letting someone go. Sometimes it may mean letting go of your own expectations, and your own frustrations. Because the sad reality is we all have weaknesses and flaws. And yes, it would be great if our beloved didn't do x, y, or z, but that really isn't our choice. The only choice we have is whether or not to love them. To walk away or stay.

It's simple, really, but we complicate things with emotions. Sometimes we've invested so much time and energy into a relationship we think if we only work a little harder, be a little smarter, or talk a little louder they'll be able to see what you see--they person they could be if only they'd give up the x, y, or z, or embrace the a, b, or c. 

But their choices are never our choices. We have to love each other and the letters we each carry in our pockets. We're all messy packages, products of our beliefs, our environments, and our training.
Walking away from a relationship is an option. But usually the best choice is to walk away from our own false expectations and allow our loved ones to realize their own visions of who they want to be.

And hope they give us the space to do the same.

But, of course, sometimes the only choice is to walk away, knowing that if we do we'll have much more space than we ever wanted.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


I just finished my first rounds of edits on my latest novel Menagerie. It's the story of a girl who can talk to animals. Sometimes this ability helps, and sometimes it hurts. It's definitely useful in book one as she struggles to find who is responsible for beating her mother. It'll be hurtful in book two as her relationship with Declan, a young atheist pre-med student, deepens.

Here's a few quotes. I'll use some of them for chapter headings.

Animism (from Latin anima, "breath, spirit, life") is the worldview that non-human entities—such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects—possess a spiritual essence.
“If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
― Francis of Assisi
“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”
― Francis of Assisi
“Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal. Charles Darwin
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science. Charles Darwin
We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities... still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. Charles Darwin
To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact. Charles Darwin
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Darwin
"There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties... The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery."
--Charles Darwin
"If all the beasts were gone, man would die from loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast, happens to the man."
        --Chief Seattle
"Until he extends the circle of compassion to all livings things, Man will not himself find peace."
        --Albert Schweitzer
By ethical conduct toward all creatures, we enter into a spiritual relationship with the universe."
      --A. Schweitzer
"...We know from the truths of evolution and ecology that we are all related and interdependent. Anthropomorphism (crediting animals with human emotions and traits) is, however, outdated. Rather we know that we are like animals."
        --Michael W. Fox
"I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon earth."
        --Mohandas Gandhi
"I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."
        --Abraham Lincoln
"The Anti-Vivisector does not deny that physiologists must make experiments and even take chances with new methods. He says that they must not seek knowledge by criminal methods, just as they must not make money by criminal methods. He does not object to Galileo dropping cannon balls from the top of the leaning tower of Pisa; but he would object to shoving off two dogs or American tourists."
        --George Bernard Shaw
"The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But can they suffer?"
        --Jeremy Bentham
"...we sacrifice other species to our own not because our own has any objective metaphysical privilege over others, but simply because it is ours. It may be very natural to have this loyalty to our own species, but let us hear no more from the naturalists about the "sentimentality" of anti-vivisectionists. If loyalty to our own species--preference for man simply because we are men--is not sentiment, then what is?"
        --C.S. Lewis
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being."
        --Abraham Lincoln

 There are more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of” in our textbooks, scientific journals, and worldly philosophies. William Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 1, scene 5, lines 167–68.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Grandma's Funeral

My mother-in-law died last week. We went to her funeral on Saturday. Here's a copy of her life sketch. She wrote it herself and asked for it to be read. (See below) She also planned the program. It went something like this.
Life sketch
Musical number I'm Trying to be Like Jesus and I Feel My Savior's Love, preformed by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 
Remembrances by her seven children
Musical number, In My Father's House are Many Mansions
A short talk on the Plan of Salvation (don't know what that is? You can read about it here.)

After the funeral service, we drove to the top of the Salt Lake City Cemetery where we placed flowers on Grandma's casket, and Steven offered a prayer to dedicate the grave. We drove away, leaving that chapter of our lives.

And it was all lovely.
But the thought of my niece's cancer haunted me. Grandma had a long and wonderful life. But that's not a guaranteed blessing for all of us. My niece Kira has stage four cancer. You can donate to her hereOr buy a t-shirt--all proceeds will go directly to Kira. The dog on the shirt is a picture of Kira's pug.

Nadine's Life Sketch
Nadine (Call) Tate 89 years, graduated from this life on Monday, July 18, 2016 at Lakeview Hospital following a stroke, a massive brain hemorrhage. She had family at her side at her passing. She is survived by 7 children and spouses, 40 grandchildren and 83 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, 2 sisters and 2 brothers, a daughter-in-law, and 2 great-grandchildren.
Nadine Call was born of goodly parents, Horace Arthur and Leona May (Papworth) Call on February 10, 1927, in a small white house in Tucson, Arizona. The doctor proclaimed that she was premature, weighing in around 8 pounds because her eyebrows and finger nails weren’t yet developed. I remember her telling me that they thought she was Native American because she had pitch black hair and very olive skin, however there is not genealogical connection to that claim. She was the youngest of 5 children.
Nadine was born with a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and never ever questioned it. In Arizona water was precious and so there had to be enough individuals getting baptized to warrant filling up the small font. Her dad was the Superintendent of the Sunday School so she often accompanied him early on Sunday mornings to the church. In June following her 8th birthday when her father was checking the church building he noticed that the missionaries had filled the font for a convert baptism. He asked Nadine if she had been baptized yet? “No”. He asked her, do you have white underwear and slip on, “Yes”. He told her to take everything else off. He went up got the two missionaries for witnesses and her dad baptized her. Then he called her mama to bring some dry under things, telling her he had just baptized, Nadine.
 Nadine dad’s brother married her mother’s sister. She loved it when they would come down from Afton, Wyoming. She said the Call family really didn’t know how to just laugh and have fun but the Papworths (her mama’s family) did.. She said she would quietly sit under the piano and listen to her mother and aunt talk and laugh. They would laugh until tears rolled down their cheeks. None of the kids knew how to laugh out loud. Nadine knew how to project her voice because of singing so she developed a “cackle”. She said her brother Vaughn, would open up his mouth but nothing would come out and his nose would quiver. Nadine preferred her “cackle”.  
 Nadine was very intelligent, with an IQ of 140 and attended the University of Utah when she was 15 years old. Despite her intelligence she was a slow reader and later the cause was identified as dyslexia. Math was her best subject. It was while attending the U of U she met Willard Richards Tate.  While registering for school at the “U”, Nadine ran into her boyfriend and his response was, what are you doing here? He was upset that she would only be 1 quarter behind him as a Freshman. While they were arguing on the front steps of Kingsbury Hall, along came his close buddy, Willard, who sided with Nadine and said “if she’s smart enough, why not.” Nadine told him, “to mind his own business”.
About two weeks later during lunch she noticed Willard sitting by himself in the cafeteria, and so just like her, always thinking of others, she asked him to join her group so he wouldn’t have to sit alone.
On Nadine 17th birthday Willard gave her his Lambda Delta Sigma Fraternity pin. Two months later his entire U of U Engineering class enlisted in the Navy to fight in World War II. Willard gave her a Diamond to “secure her.” On April 19, 1945, she married her sweetheart, Willard Richards Tate, in the Salt Lake City Temple.  They had a lot of adventures traveling all over New England as Willard was sent to one specialized training after another.
While Willard was away, Nadine worked and built up a good nest egg. On one of Willard’s leaves they bought a little white cottage with picket fence, arbor gate and all for $8000. Her dad helped with the down payment.  They never got to live in the house because of the housing shortage, Willard’s brother Ralph and his family of 5 children moved in. They ended up getting a small apartment on 3rd South by South Temple.
 Shortly after the family moved into our new home on Northgate St. in Culver City, California the Gas man who had hooked up the gas line submitted Nadine (mom/grandma)’s name to the Mrs. America contest which the gas company was sponsoring. Nadine was selected as Mrs. Culver City.
Nadine and Willard loved to tour the United States in their camper as well as traveling all over the world.
She loved the many missionaries they worked with as she and Willard served as the office couple in 6 California missions: San Bernardino (twice), San Francisco, Carlsbad, Long Beach, and Riverside. She wrote “Those years in the mission field were most satisfying. Wonderful people, great working conditions, being needed and appreciated, and most of all working side by side 24/7 with Willard in the Lord’s work. It was a joy one can only experience, words cannot express it adequately.” Whether it is serving missions, serving in our wards, serving our neighbors and most of all our family. That’s what mom taught, and lived, service. 
 Nadine had a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and was steadfast and firm in keeping all of His commandments, and taught her family well. She said, “I’ve loved the Lord all of my life, I’ve loved Willard, my righteous and brilliant husband with all my heart. We have been blessed with the most wonderful and marvelous, brilliant and righteous children. Then along came the beautiful grandchildren and great grandchildren. Willard used to say it is the only Pyramid plan that really works. The Lord has been so generous with us and our life. I look forward to being with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, His Son and to sing their praises.”
 Her posterity will greatly miss her sense of humor and her love for family.
Memory from her oldest grandchild:
I don't have any specific memories of Grandma, mostly just clips:

* The sound of her laugh
* The way she adored and dotted on Grandpa
* A whole wall in her closet neatly stacked with high heels in every color
* Candy and chocolates in all of their drawers and cupboards
* Her freezer full of dessert and telling us that they always had dessert
* Her telling me that I was most like her
* That Grandma was both smart and beautiful

Tribute from Adam, her grandson
Tribute to Grandma Tate:
"When Grandpa died, I took it pretty hard. I'm sure every grandchild feels a special connection with their grandfathers, but having lived with him for a summer shortly before he passed away, I felt especially close to him.
Accordingly, when I first heard that Grandma's health was rapidly deteriorating, I emotionally prepared myself to go through a similar grieving process.
Perhaps, those feelings of grief are still to come - but they haven't yet. Since learning that Grandma passed away, I've felt nothing but peace and even happiness. There is something beautiful about the thought of Grandma and Grandpa being together once again. Something wonderful about the thought of them reminiscing about their past journeys together and looking forward with excitement towards their future adventures.
I am thankful for my knowledge that thfough Jesus Christ families can be together for forever. And while Mormons are not the only ones with this belief, I am thankful that my Church puts such an emphasis on it. I will miss you Grandma, but I'm sure I'll see you again someday."

Adam Tate (grandson)
 Nadine Call Tate’s testimony never waivered and she endured joyfully to the end.  I know she is happily reunited for all eternity to her sweetheart, Willard. For families are what matter most and God designed a plan that we can be together forever.