Friday, July 31, 2009

ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!!!!!!!

I plan on being irritable, tired and semi-brain-dead until the 2nd of April. After that I will merely be sleep deprived.
Thank you
Kathy Ward

ps. for those of you who haven't had contact with me in the last 10 years, that means I am pregnant, due April 2, 2010.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Catching Up

Despite my house guests and lack of posting I have still been reading; nothing significant however, here is a list with mini-reviews of the books I read lately. Please understand that I spent all of Monday at Barnes and Noble waiting for Grand Junction Toyota to give me my car back, so this list is somewhat inflated.

Zoe's Tale. This was a book that reminded me of the teenager I think I was. After twenty years I realize my memories are a bit subjective, but the narrator of this book felt much more real than most and much more appealing that others I have tried to read (4 book series beginning with T.) The plot is a standard science fiction one but the honesty of s an almost child telling the story was compelling and wonderful. I may force my daughters to read this book when they get a little older.




Summer Knight. This series is like M&Ms. You start reading and think, just a little more. I like the noir-ish voice of the main character, along with the sense of the ridiculous that makes the horror aspects of the novel not so dark that I won't read it. The continuing thread of the series is beginning to get deeper and more interesting as the main character becomes more important to the "unreal" world and discovers more about himself.





Death Masks. Another Dresden Files book, but I must admit, as much as I like these books, when the Shroud of Turin showed up I almost quit. The only reason I kept going was because the silliness of it was not lost to the characters involved. If he had written it 100% straight it would have been too corny and I would have had to stop. As it was, not too bad, followed up the previous one quite nicely. I like the ideas of extended consequences that Butcher is working with in this series. That some things have more repercussions that just the next book.



Darkfever. Once I have read a few of a certain type of novel, I tend to keep in the genre until I find something so bad it kicks me out to another type. This book is another urban fantasy, very similar to the Dresden Files. The twist in this one is the protagonist is a happy-go-lucky young woman who has no desire for powers, detests wearing black and is as completely pink and rainbows as you could imagine. Putting her in a dark fantasy world causes some interesting conflicts.




Bloodfever. These books are too easy to read. When it takes only a couple of hours to finish it is too easy to read a couple of them in not very long. I still like the idea of this series but the sexual tension thing, which seems to have become mandatory, is getting on my nerves. Do non-married women really think about sex this much? Was I an abnormal person in that I didn't even before I was in a stable relationship? It is just irritating and makes the strong, independent heroine lose a lot of the respect I might have had for her.




Why We Make Mistakes. This was the most comforting book I have read in a long while. It explains that our brains are wired in a certain way and so are the mistakes we all make. For example, names are hard to remember because they have very little meaning, other than as random syllables that indicate a certain person. We can remember their job or their family status or their connection to us much more easily because that has more content we can remember.
The book was full of that type of explanation for mistakes we all make. It suggests that instead of trying to change the way people are, we make adjustments for it to prevent errors; things like checklists and written reminders.

Death's Daughter. I read this one just for the name of the main character: Calliope Reaper-Jones. That must be one of the best names I've seen in a while. The rest of the novel was only so-so. The ending wasn't a surprise, a serious flaw in a whodunit, even a fantasy one, and the heroine seemed purposefully dense, which is annoying. I'm glad I read it while sitting in B&N and that I didn't pay for it.





Kitty and the Midnight Hour. Meh. It was OK, but not great, a wonderful example of what happens when a genre gets really popular and many things are published just because they are perfectly moderate examples of what is currently "hot." I wonder what will come after the urban fantasy craze? I blame you Stephanie Meyers.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Busy in Utah- pictures

We have had a busy few days, with more to come, but I figure I need to put the pictures I promised on or I would forget. Last Saturday David and the kids went to the lake with our neighbors.

Then this last Thurs-Sat we were camping with my family in Joe's Valley. As you can see, we had fun.

B. was clean an hour before this was taken.

D. enjoyed being out as well.


Then today we went with my sister and her kids to Sand dune Arch in Arches National Park. It was very cool, literally.


The sand was cool and soft and all the kids enjoyed playing in it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fun Friday, & Thurs & Sat.

Camping. Forgetting. Sunburn. Lake. Kids. Drive. Hot. Sunburn. Family. Campfire. Tent. Sunburn. Tired. Pictures Later.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Not Becoming My Mother


Mother/daughter relationships are difficult. One reason is the same reason that raising a child is difficult. Just when you've got a handle on the current phase, the kid grows out of it and finds some new way to drive you crazy. If both the mother and the daughter were to remain static, they could probably work out some sort of equilibrium and stay constant, but we always move and grow (at least I hope so, I know I'm being rather optimistic here).
One of the more interesting changes (at least to me) is finally realizing your mother is a person in her own right, not just an adjunct to you, her child. Even in my thirties I struggle with this. It is like you set your mother in your mind when you spend the most time with her, as a young child, and then never bother to reset this opinion until facts force you to.
There are many ways we develop more of an adult to adult relationship with our parents. The big milestones usually help; graduation, moving out, getting married, having children. I have seen some grown women very frustrated that because some of these milestones didn't happen for them so their parents never mentally put them into the adult category. It isn't intentional, just unthinking.
It is unfortunate that by the time we are emotionally mature enough to relate to our mothers as grown-ups, we often don't get the chance. The separation of households, even if you live nearby, makes the intimacy of the past difficult to recapture. If there wasn't much trust in the relationship then it takes an incredible effort to even begin to have it later in life. So many dramas show the last minute reconciliation that are designed to make even the most cynical shed a tear or two. Though it is a good indicator of future mortality if someone has a dramatic reconciliation and doesn't already have a dread disease: a heart attack or fatal accident is guaranteed before the end. I do think that these healing moments can occur. Perhaps if they weren't so universally fatal in the movies it would be easier to do in real life (probably not).
In this book Ruth Reichl shares with the reader the intimate details of her belated discovery of her mother's personality. With the death of her mother she was free to explore her mother's journals and letters in a way that taught her as much about herself as about her mother. Though this is truly the only way to learn about others.
In the end, she wrote this final tribute to her mother, and what she learned by learning about her:
But Mom's most important lesson was how to be a mother. I see now how hard she tried to be a good one, despite her many handicaps. Her struggle with her own mother had shown her that it is important to encourage your children to be themselves, even if they do not turn out to be the people you wish they were. And she urged me to independence, asking only that I work hard, be kind and live up to my own possibilities.
Growing up, I was utterly oblivious to the fact that Mom was teaching me all that. But I was instantly aware of her final lesson, which was hidden in her notes and letters. As I read them I began to understand that in the end you are the only one who can make yourself happy. More important, Mom showed me that it is never too later to find out how to do it.
Her mother was very unhappy for much of her life, but in the end she found peace in living and helping others. Most of the book was difficult for me to read because the mother was so sad and so trapped. I didn't like being a silent witness to her misery. But I gained a renewed appreciation for the women of the earlier generations. We, the daughters of such women, often forget how blessed we are to be able to choose. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom, but I didn't have to be. No one was telling me if I got a degree or became a scientist I would end up a lonely old maid. If I had been forced into my circumstances by outside forces I would have been just as unhappy as many of the housewives of the 50s reportedly were. By choosing I can take responsibility for where I am and make my mental reconciliation.
I am very different from my mother in some ways, yet as I get older I see more and more of the similarities. Though the sit-com horror of turning into your mother is there occasionally, mostly I am grateful because I feel that I have a guide in the path ahead. I don't have to fear teenagers and grandchildren and unemployment or any number of other trials as much, because I have seen my mother go through them and I know her experience is a resource I can always draw on.
I am grateful I can go to my mother. I know many women who don't have that in their lives, for one reason or another. I would recommend this book to those women, especially those whose relationships with their mothers are strained, at best. It gives some hope for understanding, even if it happens beyond this life.

Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way. Ruth Reichl. Penguin Press. 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

FF-Canyonlands-Needles district

We decided to drive down to the southern part of Canyonlands and go hiking with the Blanding cousins this morning. It started off well, we left the house at 7:50, right on schedule to get there around 9. Then we had to get gas, and go back for the park pass and the camera and Bridget threw up and threw up again. We arrived 45 minutes late and did stuff with cousins for about 30 minutes. It wasn't the most productive family time we've ever had.
We went on the Roadside Ruins hike, which is more of a stroll. And what you see at the end is worth the effort to get there.

The little ones liked the numbered posts along the route.

We also visited the Visitors' Center. We like the dioramas. The mousie is very cute, or so I was told.

After the cousins left for home we went on one more short hike, to Cave Spring. And sure enough, there is a shallow cave with a year-round spring. There was moss and spiders and coolness.

The rock formations were very cool. Here E. is being a grump near some of them. A lot of the hike had overhangs from formations called mushrooms. Imagine a trail under the edge of gigantic stone mushrooms and you have an idea of what it was like.

There were also two ladders, which scared E. but with some prodding from her mother she made it. And the last half of the walk was in the sun. Hiking in Canyonlands near noon in July is strongly discouraged, at least by us. Come in October, it is much cooler then.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Codex Alera
















This is one of the biggest reasons my husband is grateful we don't live in a town with a Barnes & Noble or other similarly large bookstore in it. On my wonderful getaway two weeks ago I stopped in at the B&N in Bountiful, and came out with five books. Three of the five were books in this series. When I went to my local bookstore to see about the others they had book 3. So now I had 4 books in the series and I figured that book five, which I ordered, was the last.
Until I looked at Jim Butcher's website and saw the citation, "Book 6 of the Codex Alera comes out in only 5 months!" (or something like that). Now I like reading books by current authors. I like to buy new books and feel that I am supporting someone whose work I enjoy. I just have a problem with waiting for the next book in a series, any series. Finding out thata series I was looking forward to finishing was not was irking, to say the least. David has heard minor rants about this for two days now.
I feel like an addict who has been denied her drug of choice. At least with series withdrawal you don't get a headache, though you might give one to others. My book budget needs to be expanded because I have lost the patience to wait until books I want come out in softcover. If I restrict myself to one new hardback a month that's OK, right? Along with miscellaneous softcovers whenever I happen to be in the neighborhood of a B&N. I'm going to have to start tutoring from home or something if I find any more currently writing authors I want to collect.
About the actual books, they are pretty good. Obviously, if they were crappy I wouldn't be irritated that I couldn't read all of them now.
The series is well written, with really good battle scenes. It reminds me a little bit of David Weber. You get the feeling that the author knows what he is talking about, at least as much as someone living today can. It has a concrete magic system, with definite rules and restrictions and characters I enjoy reading about. It feels real, as much as a fantasy book can.
If I lived in Las Vegas I would have read all of them by now from my library and would be moving on to something else without having spent too much money. My book buying has doubled or more since moving to Moab. Its a good thing bookcases are cheap.

Furies of Calderon. Jim Butcher. Ace. 2005 + sequels

Monday, July 6, 2009

Witches, Incorporated


This is a sequel to The Apprentice Wizard which I liked. This one was good too, but in an odd way. I was in the mood for a light book, which this was, sort of. The style and dialogue and even the plot tends to be light, but the reactions of the characters is not. It is like watching James Bond and then having all the spies agonize over the killing. It throws you out of the story and makes you see that all the violence is bad and a normal person couldn't jump into being a spy without some deep soul searching and regrets. It was handled well, not over the top and preachy, nor tear laden and melodramatic, just sincere.
So here we have a light spy/fantasy book with some deep morality issues. I can't decide if I liked the book because of this, or in spite of it.
I like the setting as well. Fantasy books have really started to branch out in the last few years, no more strictly medieval castles. This one is set in a sort of Edwardian period, lots of rules yet an awareness that maybe the rules should be changed. This time was the real era of suffragettes and progressive government as well as lots of new scientific discoveries. Mills got the feel of the era down well, and then put magic in.
I am interested in where the series is going and what she will do with the characters now she has them all working together.

Witches, Incorporated. K.E. Mills. Orbit. 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

FF- Slickrock Bike Trail

After a remarkable cool June the sun has come out. The appropriate time for this outing was 8:00. Unfortunately we left at 10:00. When we ran out of water we turned back, so I don't think we even went a mile. The sign says it all really.

Walking it is not so bad, but I can't even imagine wanting to ride a bike here. M. liked climbing the rocks and being up high.

We found a little cave that all the kids thought was neat, but too full of spiderwebs.

R. hates hiking and felt no embarrassment on showing us he was done walking. I keep making him come on these activities. I don't think he will become an avid hiker, but he might learn to stop whining about it so much.

This view is about a mile and a half from our house and not more than two miles from the river, nice bleak landscape to wander around in July, isn't it?

One of the benefits of living in Moab is that they shoot fireworks from these cliffs and those of us in the town can sit on our lawns and see them. The echoes off the canyon walls are a great extra. Happy 4th.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Be Not Deceived, But Continue in Steadfastness

Sorry this is a little late, I try to post my Sunday School lessons on Monday, but summer is winning this year and I am perpetually behind schedule.
To begin, I want to share two stories that you probably already have heard about.

In 1830, Hiram Page, one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, possessed a stone through which he claimed to receive revelations about the building of Zion and the order of the Church. Oliver Cowdery, the Whitmers, and others believed these claims. However, the Prophet Joseph Smith said the claims “were entirely at variance with the order of God’s house, as laid down in the New Testament, as well as in our late revelations” (History of the Church, 1:110). The Prophet prayed about the matter and received a revelation in which the Lord made clear that only the President of the Church has the right to receive revelations for the Church (D&C 28). The Lord instructed Oliver Cowdery to tell Hiram Page that the revelations that came through the stone were from Satan (D&C 28:11). After hearing the Lord’s instructions, “Brother Page, as well as the whole Church who were present, renounced the said stone, and all things connected therewith” (History of the Church, 1:115).

Then the second one:

While living in Far West, Missouri, Sister Marsh and Sister Harris decided to exchange milk so they could each make a larger cheese than they otherwise could. They agreed to send each other both the milk and the cream from their cows. But Sister Marsh saved a pint of cream from each cow and sent Sister Harris the milk without the cream. A quarrel arose, and the matter was referred to the bishop. When he determined that Sister Marsh had violated her agreement, she and her husband were upset and appealed the matter to the high council and then to the First Presidency. Each council approved the original decision that Sister Marsh had been in error. Thomas B. Marsh declared that he would sustain the character of his wife. Soon afterward, he turned against the Church and went before a government official to declare that the Latter-day Saints were hostile toward the state of Missouri. (See George A. Smith, in Journal of Discourses, 3:283–84.) President Gordon B. Hinckley said of this incident: “What a very small and trivial thing—a little cream over which two women quarreled. But it led to, or at least was a factor in, Governor Boggs’ cruel exterminating order which drove the Saints from the state of Missouri, with all of the terrible suffering and consequent death that followed. The man who should have settled this little quarrel, but who, rather, pursued it, … lost his standing in the Church. He lost his testimony of the gospel” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1984, 111; or Ensign, May 1984, 83).
In talking about avoiding deception and personal apostasy we need to understand that we are constantly being given deceptive messages. 2 Ne 2:18 says,
And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.
Then D&C 50:2-3
2 Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world.
3 And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you.
And 2 Ne 2:27:
27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and call things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
Satan wants us to be miserable, to reject God and Jesus Christ and the true joy they offer. But he is not the only source of deception we have. Self-deception (rationalization or whatever you want to call it) is only partly from Satan, but it goes hand in hand with false ideas.
Look at the two stories from the beginning. Hiram Page not only admitted he was wrong, but he had the entire church witness and accept that he was wrong. That would have been humiliating, but he did it anyway. Then Thomas Marsh had a little matter that he refused to let go, to the point of bringing it to the attention of the whole church. His pride refused to admit error and he left the church.
We have been given rock solid ways to avoid deception, and to identify it when we might be tempted to accept it, but part of the process is being willing to accept God's will and not our own ideas.
To avoid the outside form of deception, we have three rules to follow:

1. The prophet, and only the prophet, speaks for the church.
President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in the First Presidency taught: “The Lord has … appointed one man at a time on the earth to hold the keys of revelation to the entire body of the Church in all its organizations, authorities, ordinances and doctrines. The spirit of revelation is bestowed upon all its members for the benefit and enlightenment of each individual receiving its inspiration, and according to the sphere in which he or she is called to labor. But for the entire Church, he who stands at the head is alone appointed to receive revelations by way of commandment and as the end of controversy” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [1965–75], 4:270).
See also D&C 43:1-3

2. The scriptures will help you know the truth.
President Harold B. Lee taught: “If [someone] writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard Church works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator—please note that one exception—you may immediately say, ‘Well, that is his own idea.’ And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996], 540–41).
As we search the scriptures we also grow closer to the Spirit and more able to discern what is right and what is not.

3. The Holy Ghost will tell us, if we are willing to listen. D&C 50:17-24
17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
18 And if it be by some other way it is not of God.
19 And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
20 If it be some other way it is not of God.
21 Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?
22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
If our testimony is based on Jesus Christ, that we know the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith is a prophet, all other things in the church are mere addendums and questions about them should not make the truth of the gospel less true. If we do not have a firm faith in Jesus Christ, but base our faith on the church, or a favorite bishop, or our parents, or whatever else is out there, we will fall. Even the church as a whole changes. That is the whole point behind having a prophet lead the church.
There are a lot of subtle ways we can leave ourselves open to manipulation and losing our faith. I'm just going to make a quick list, because I could write long posts on each one of them. If you really want my thoughts on these subjects, ask and I might oblige.
  • Pride
  • Being Critical of Leaders
  • Being Offended
  • Rationalizing Disobedience
  • Accepting False Teachings
There is a wonderful list in the lesson on how to avoid these pitfalls.

Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Seventy specified the following things we can do to strengthen ourselves against apostasy:

  • Avoid those who would tear down your faith. …
  • Keep the commandments. …
  • Follow the living prophets. …
  • Do not contend or debate over points of doctrine. [See 3 Nephi 11:29.]
  • Search the scriptures. …
  • Do not be swayed or diverted from the mission of the Church. …
  • Pray for your enemies. …
  • Practice ‘pure religion.’ [See James 1:27 and Alma 1:30.] …
  • Remember that there may be many questions for which we have no answers and that some things have to be accepted simply on faith” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 93–94; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, 67–68).
It is hard to accept some things on faith, it is hard to find yourself in the wrong, but if we don't learn to do this, we will invariably end up in opposition to God at some point in our lives.