Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks: 100 things for which I am thankful.

Because tomorrow is a holiday, and today I am getting ready for tomorrow, I am posting this rerun of a list I have posted before. Every time I look at it, I remember all the reasons I put all these things on my list. You should try making a list of your own. It's enlightening.

1. The gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. My mother, who didn't just read to me. She showed me that she loved to read.
3. My father, who told me I could have anything I wanted, if I worked hard enough.
4. My husband, who tells me I look pretty even when I am at my worst.
5. My son, the genius.
6. My daughter, the other genius.
7. I live in an area some people dream of visiting at least once in their lives.
8. Chocolate. Duh!
9. Seven sisters.
10. One brother (poor, long-suffering guy).
11. The spouses of numbers 9 (most of the time) and 10 (always).
12. My 48 nieces and nephews.
13. My numerous great nieces and nephews, who are multiplying exponentially. I've lost count lately.
14. 5 great-great nieces and nephews. No, I'm not that old. My niece Vai is.
15. Attention deficit disorder. I am a master of brainstorming.
16. ADD meds, so I can get something done once in a while.
17. My day planner (which keeps me sort of organized, when I remember to use it).
18. Electricity.
19. Smooth pens.
20. Mechanical pencils.
21. LDS General Conference.
22. The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
23. The Holy Bible.
24. Genealogy.
25. Yak Tracks.
26. Modern medicine, without which I would not have a day job.
27. The internet, also without which I would not have a day job.
28. Personal computers, which are very useful when accessing the internet, and writing.
29. Blogging, wherein I give everyone my opinion, whether they want it or not.
30. Castle.
31. The new Hawaii 5-0.
32. The right to vote.
34. LDStorymakers annual writers conference, my right brain spa vacation.
35. David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants.
36. Wood stoves and radiant heat.
37. Four seasons.
38. Especially summer.
39. Books.
40. Libraries.
41. Bookstores.
42. Internal combustion engines.
43. Words. They are so fun to play with.
44. The English language. It is so versatile. If you can't find a word to express what you mean, make up a new one (or just steal it from another language).
45. The French language. Vous ne pouvez pas inventer de nouveaux mots, mais qui s'en soucie. Parce que même le plus laid des mots sonnent si beau en français.
46. Vicks Nyquil.
47. Vicks Dayquil.
48. Puffs facial tissues with aloe and Vicks Vaporub. (Why yes, I recently had a bad cold. Why do you ask?)
49. Ibuprofen.
50. Excedrine.
51. A good night's sleep.
52. Facebook. It's a love/hate relationship.
53. Farmers.
54. Supermarkets.
55. Duct tape.
56. Macaroni and cheese.
57. Lasagna.
58. Pizza.
59. Edited movies.
60. Good friends I may not see for ages, but when we get together again it's like we were never apart.
61. Shadow the Cat.
62. Scoopable cat litter.
63. A decent WiFi connection.
64. Good music.
65. Specifically Journey (old incarnation).
66. And Mozart.
67. Dancing.
68. Zumba!
69. Holidays.
70. Snow days.
71. Cell phones. How did we survive without them?
72. MP3 players. Remember vinyl records? 8-track tapes? cassettes? CDs?
73. Jump drives. Remember floppy disks when they really were floppy?
74. Old Faithful.
75. Waterfalls.
76. Lavender aromatherapy.
77. Yerba mate.
78. Blue Delft.
79. Pretty much anything blue.
80. Big chunky sweaters.
81. Family reunions.
82. Meeting cousins I didn't know I had.
83. Automatic washings machines.
84. Peaches.
85. Wildflowers.
86. I can breathe without thinking about it.
87. Mostly good vision.
88. Reading glasses.
89. Other people who are willing to do the icky jobs.
90. Talents, mine and other people's.
91. Good neighbors.
92. Unbiased journalism. (That could be an oxymoron.)
93. A really good story.
94. Snow tires.
95. 100 watt incandescent light bulbs.
96. Daffodils.
97. Teachers who really care about their students.
98. Clean humor (like Ryan Hamilton and Humor U).
99. Digital cameras.
100. Indoor plumbing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for libraries.

I remember my first library card. It was made of light brown cardboard. This was back in the days when the librarian stamped the due date on the paper slip glued inside the front cover of the book. The card catalog consisted of real cards in little drawers in a cabinet. Most often I just walked along the shelves and pulled out whatever looked interesting. I tended to check out large piles of books at a time, and spent hours reading. I do remember playing outside as a child. We had trees to climb, and haystacks to jump off of, a grain auger to use as a teeter totter, and all the other interesting things generally found around a farm. But books were my greatest adventures. The library had more books than even I could hope to read. Eventually, I discovered the stairs that lead from the children's section in the basement to the grownup section on the main floor. Then I just kept reading.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for living prophets and apostles.

Ever wonder why God loved the people who lived on the earth in the time of the Old Testament and New Testament more than He loves the people of today? I know, silly question. But He talked to those people. They had prophets and apostles giving them God's word. So if God is no respecter of persons, why wouldn't he do the same for us, now?

He does.

I believe that God speaks to a living prophet today. There are apostles on the earth right now. Their job is the same as the apostles in Christ's time. They are to testify of Jesus Christ in all the world. God has not left us to fumble around in this world all alone.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for my Primary class.

I teach the 8 year olds in church every Sunday (most of them have turned 9 by now). They are a wonderful bunch of children. They have all recently been baptized, and they come to class carrying their scriptures, which are nearly as big as they are. They are wiggly, and distractable, but eager to learn. They like to hear stories, and tell me their own stories, which may or may not be related to the lesson. They like to look up scriptures, and help each other find the right page. There are some who will volunteer for anything and everything. Some are a little too shy to do anything just yet.

I have an ongoing offer that if they memorize a scripture every week, they get to pick a prize from my bag. One girl memorizes something every single week. One girl was finally able to recite a scripture from memory a few weeks ago and was so pleased with herself. I love to watch them grow and progress. I'll only be their teacher officially for another month, then in January they'll move on and I'll get a new class. But I love these children, and I'll always be their teacher.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for incandescent lightbulbs.

The lightbulb in our bathroom ceiling fixture burned out -- finally! It was one of those ridiculous curly bulbs. You know the ones that are supposed to last forever and save energy? I hate those things. They give off a weird, yellowish light, and not much of it. It takes a while for it to warm up and put out what little light it does, but by then I've switched it back off again. I think I could get more light out of a kerosene lantern, or a couple of candles. My husband, bless his thrifty soul, was the one who put that one in.

But this was my chance. I grabbed a box of 100 watt incandescent bulbs (did you know you can still buy those things?), and replaced that one wimpy compact fluorescent bulb with two of the real thing. I flipped on the light switch. Hallelujah! Glorious light blazed from those two lightbulbs, bounced off the white walls, and reflected from the mirror. We had so much light it nearly blinded me for a second. Then I turned and saw myself in the mirror, clearly, for the first time in a long time. Ouch! I'm thinking maybe we should try a slightly lower wattage.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Giving Thanks:I am thankful for mentors.

Several years ago, when I made up my mind that I needed to take writing more seriously, and really do something about it, I was blessed enough to find a wonderful group of mentors. Through an online forum for writers, I learned that a group called LDStorymakers (yes, only one S), was going to be holding a writer's conference in Springville, Utah. I knew I needed to go. It was a one-day event at that time, in a small theater, and it happened to be on my wedding anniversary. My husband, bless him, agreed that I really ought to go. In fact, he came with me, and hung out in the Springville Library studying (he was getting his degree at the time) while I was at the conference. Kind of a weird way to spend an anniversary, but it was one of the best anniversary gifts he has ever given me.

That conference was where I began to see that some of my favorite authors were real people. They were just like me, but further along in their writing careers. There were only about 35 attendees that first year (now it's in the hundreds), but I realized that this was a group of people who actually thought the way I did. Where else but a group of writers can you talk about the conversations the imaginary people in your head are having, and not be considered crazy? I've gone to the Storymakers conference every year since then, and every year I learn something about my craft that I didn't even know I didn't know.

I'm almost over being star-struck every time I see one of my favorite authors there. (But I still have to have them sign a book. I'll always be a little bit of a fan girl.) In general, authors are really nice people. So many of them go all out to train other writers who may end up as their competition. I suppose that's one definition of a mentor.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for automation.

I would not have made a good homesteader. Back in the day when my great-grandparents were proving up on their claims, they had to do nearly everything themselves. Laundry was done in a big metal tub with a washboard, and usually with homemade soap. If they wanted to eat, they had to grow it, or kill it, or at least buy the basic ingredients from a general store and make it from scratch. Milk was the closest thing they had to convenience food, once you got it out of the cow. My great-grandmother turned hunting for and cooking mushrooms into an art form, out of necessity. If you wanted to go somewhere, you could walk or ride a horse, or hitch the horse to a wagon.

Tonight my husband and I were discussing what we might like to have for dinner. It's been a cold, windy day. I've had my little space heater going next to my desk while I slave away at the keyboard. We decided some nice, warm soup would really hit the spot tonight. The next question was, did we have any varieties of canned soup in the cupboard that sounded really appealing? I'll check, but I may jump in my car and drive a few blocks to the grocery store to buy something. Maybe some kind of stew, or a nice corn chowder.

I lead such a pampered existence.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for audio books.

There are some things in this world that I really dislike, housework and exercising and weeding, specifically. It seems no matter how often you do them, they have to be repeated over and over again. It never ends. But I have discovered that listening to a good audio book makes the dreaded tasks go faster. It works best if I only allow myself to listen to my current book while I am doing one of my dreaded tasks. I have found myself walking a little further, just because I have to know what happens next.

Some authors, like Shannon Hale, have a style that begs to be read out loud. With the right narrator, some books, like the entire Harry Potter series, sounds so much better than I could ever imagine in my head. (And of course, the books are better than the movies.) Most recently, I listened to Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson's latest book. It's a departure from his usual epic fantasy style, and more of a near future, dystopian, epic style. Everything Sanderson writes is epic, by which I mean long. I can get a lot of boring stuff done while listening to one of his books. But now that I've finished that one, I'm hunting for another good audio book. Suggestions, anyone?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for royalty checks!

My first royalty check came today! (This is from Values Stories for a Young Woman. Please see right sidebar.) I won't be booking a Caribbean cruise any time soon. Just by my rough calculations of the check amount divided by how much time I put into the book, I made somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 cents an hour. But my publisher is still in business and the book is still selling. So, yeah, I'm kind of doing the Snoopy dance today.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for inspired church leaders.

Have you ever been to a church meeting where you feel like what was preached was specifically for you? I've been to three meetings like that in the last two days. Last night we had the adult meeting of stake conference. This morning we had the general session of stake conference. Then tonight, my husband and I went to a fireside for temple workers and volunteers and their spouses. The speakers were the new Rexburg temple presidency and their wives. I took copious notes, but I just couldn't write fast enough. We were spiritually well fed this weekend.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for Facebook.

I've always had a little bit of a love-hate relationship with Facebook. It can be a lot of fun. It can be downright addicting. There are a lot of things about it I don't like. I'm not crazy about the way they change things just for the sake of change. But there is one thing about Facebook and other social media outlets that I love. I have reconnected with many old friends that I never would have found any other way. So in that way, the annoyances are worth it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Giving Thanks: I'm thankful I'm not a dairy farmer.

I have nothing against farmers. I love farmers. My father was a farmer, along with several other things. But dairy farmers, particularly the small operators, work constantly, and work hard. They go out and milk before breakfast, and then go out and milk after dinner. Somewhere in between there, they put in an 8-hour day.

For me, there are some days when I come home from the office (I have an office!) and it's just good to be able to say, "I'm done for the day." Then I can just put my brain in neutral for the rest of the evening, and enjoy my dinner, which was produced by farmers.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for Chick-fil-A.

Yesterday, on the Great Shoe Hunting Expedition in the big city (see yesterday's post), my daughter and I were discussing where to get dinner. She pointed out Chick-fil-A was right across the parking lot from the big department store where we had been shopping. I had never been there before. She said they had pretty good food, and incidentally mentioned that they were even closed on Sunday.

That got my attention. In my profession (transcription) it's very hard to avoid working a shift on Sunday. Hospitals are open 24/7/365, and records need to be done right away. I know there are people in the health professions who have to work Sundays. But after my first job in a hospital, when I had to take the Sunday shift a couple of times, I decided that just wasn't for me. As long as I have a choice, Sunday is a day of worship and rest for me. It's part of my religious practice. I don't even write on Sunday, other than in my journal, or quickly jotting down a plot idea so it will get out of my head and leave me alone until Monday.

It's actually pretty hard anymore to find businesses that share the conviction that Sunday is the Sabbath, the Lord's day. So I've decided to give Chick-fil-A more of my business, at least when I'm in the big city. The food is really pretty good, too.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for a totally awesome shoe sale!

First of all, I'm not a shoe collector. My main criteria are comfort and lack of ugly. But today I took my daughter shoe shopping. She's going on an LDS mission to New Zealand. (I know, right? I'm so jealous.) She is supposed to take five pairs of shoes with her. This doesn't include athletic shoes. Now, these can't be any ordinary shoes. They have to be sturdy enough and comfortable enough for walking, because she's going to be doing a lot of walking. They also have to be cute enough to wear with a skirt, because she will be wearing a skirt the majority of the time.

We took an afternoon and drove to the big city and I thought maybe we should try a certain big department store first, because they had a huge selection of everything. (Turns out that was a little bit of inspiration.) There was a sign at the front entrance that said we could get an additional 15%, 20%, or 30% by using our store charge card. Normally, I don't like to use department store cards, ( although I have one) except for super awesome discounts like this. When we reached the shoe department, we saw they were having a major sale on exactly the type cute walking shoes, we were looking for.

My daughter found three pairs of shoes to buy. She would have bought more, but they didn't have her size. We may order some on the website. Then we went to a big box shoe store nearby and found one more pair.

The best part of the day, though, was being able to spend some quality girl time and talk about anything and everything with my daughter before she leaves for another hemisphere for a year and a half.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for nice little surprises.

I was talking with a friend today, who gave me a nice surprise. It was something totally unexpected, but something I appreciated more than I think she will ever know, because it was something that I had been looking for and praying about.

Have you ever received something like that? Sometimes someone will say or do something, just out of the blue, that may not mean much to them, but has a whole world of meaning for you. Sometimes you find something in an unexpected place that you had even forgotten you lost. But sometimes the realization hits that this is something that God had a hand in, just for you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for Veterans.

In a perfect world, there would be no need for soldiers. But our world is far from perfect. There are bad guys out there. Somebody has to protect us from those who would do us harm. That's where our armed services come in. These are the people who have stepped up and volunteered to protect and defend our country. I love to see any kind of tribute to the military. Whether they were on the front lines, or behind the scenes, they deserve all the parades, accolades, and "veteran's discounts" we can give them.

This is one of the coolest military tributes I've ever seen. I hope you all enjoy it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for genealogy.

All my life I've known who I am, because some of my family members, mostly my grandmother, great-grandmother, and a couple of genealogy-obsessed cousins, documented our family history. I know that I am a descendant of people who came to the American continent seeking freedom. Some came before the revolutionary war and fought for freedom from tyranny. Many came later, to practice freedom of religion. They came from England, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, and Norway. My great-great-grandparents left their home in Norway.
And eventually homesteaded in Idaho and lived here.
Along the way, they lost a 3-year-old child as they were crossing the Atlantic, and a newborn baby as they were crossing Wyoming. I've often wondered if I would have been strong enough to do what they did. They sacrificed so much, so that now, I have so much. I'm thankful that I know who these people are, and all that they did. Someday I will tell them that in person.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for the temple.

I went to the temple today with some of my family. It was just awesome to sit there, next to my daughter, in a place that's symbolic of families being eternal.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Giving Thanks: I belong to a book club.

Some time after our family moved to the town where we currently live, I was lucky enough to be invited to join a really great book club. We get together once a month to talk about the book we were supposed to read, all the other books we are reading, movie adaptations of books we have read and whether or not they worked. We eat some sort of yummy treat that may or may not fit the theme of that month's book. Once we tried vinegar pie. It was actually good. The conversation always eventually moves away from the book and into anything and everything, usually something hilarious. I fit very few of the demographics of the other members of the group. ( I'm old enough to be their . . . babysitter.) But we all share one thing. We're just a bunch of book nerds. And we're okay with that.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for cell phones and texting.

I will freely admit that I remember a time when you were always supposed to carry a quarter in your pocket just in case you had to call home. There were these things called pay phones. You put a coin in the slot and dialed a phone number. If your call took longer than 3 minutes, you had to feed in more change, or be disconnected. If you were lucky, the pay phone was in a glass booth with a door. Otherwise, you had to stand outside in the cold (Idaho) while you used the phone.

There were also these things called letters. You would take a piece of paper and a pen, write whatever you wanted to say to your friend that lived far away (because it cost too much to call long distance all the time), put it in an envelope with their address on the outside, stick a postage stamp on it (which cost less than a phone call at the time) and put it in the mailbox. Hopefully, your friend would get your letter and send one back to you, and in this way you kept in touch.

These days, I can keep a cell phone in my pocket or purse. I can call my mother or my best friend any time I want. It still costs money, but I don't have to have a pile of change in front of me to have a conversation. I learned how to text when my children were teenagers. It was just another version of learning to speak someone else's language. Now that my children are older and living away from home, I don't have to wait by the mailbox and hope they are okay, living off in the big city. I can communicate with them any time, as long as I remember to charge the battery.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for pain relief!

Car accident years ago + typing all day + winter = One unhappy trapezius muscle (the one that runs between the neck and the shoulder). Today I had to resort to one of these.

These are like a heating pad or rice bag that you can wear for up to 8 hours, and they have adhesive, so I don't have to hold them in place, and they don't cool off. I am so thankful God inspired someone to invent them.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for the miracle of music.

Music is the language of the soul. It can create emotion. It can be shared by people of different cultures and understood by all. It can slow down your heart rate, or speed it up. It can do some amazing things to your brain. Mozart helps me concentrate. I have different sound tracks for my writing projects. Avril Levigne's music is figuring prominently in my current NaNoWriMo project. I'll bet you can guess the genre from that clue alone.

We've all seen people who have such a strong stammer or stutter that they can barely speak, but who sing flawlessly. I'm posting this video that a friend shared on Facebook, because it shows the way music can work miracles. You may want to have a tissue handy. I am thankful for the miracle of music.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Giving Thanks: I have hands.

I'm thankful that I have hands. I use them for almost everything, except walking and breathing. My father insisted I learn to type when I was in high school. Now I use my hands for my vocation, which is transcription, and my avocation, which is writing. I use my hands for hobbies, like needle work, or holding a book (or plugging in my ear buds and tapping the screen of my tablet to start an audiobook). I use my hands to touch, to feel, to create, to serve.

I've seen people who have lost the use of their hands, to accident or disease, or who have been born with conditions that affect the movement of their hands, or who have been born with no hands at all. And I look at my hands and think, "I am so blessed."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Giving Thanks: I am thankful for firewood!

Today, it is overcast and COLD. But inside, we have a nice, big, wood stove with a roaring fire. We heat with a combination of propane, electricity, and wood. The first two are good for warming up the house, but the radiant heat from the wood stove warms ME. It's a little like sitting outside in the sun on a warm summer day, without the sunburn. I am thankful for the stack of firewood on my front porch, to feed that wonderful wood stove.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Giving Thanks: Sunshine

Today was such a beautiful, sunshiny day. In the past week it's been cold and overcast and blustery. We even had a little snow just in time for Halloween. But this morning we woke up to clear blue skies and sunshine. It was a nice break before the storms that will be rolling in, according to the weather forecast. It was still cold enough to wear a jacket outside and turn up the heater in the car, but the sun was shining! We have to revel in it while we have the chance.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving Thanks: I have an office!

See that pretty, old-fashioned key? That is for the lock on my office door. I finally made the jump from a home office to an away-from-home office. It's a tiny little place, about the size of your average cubicle (maybe smaller), and thankfully has an equally tiny rent. I've only been here for just over a week, but already my production has doubled.

For several months now, I've been trying to spend an hour a day, every weekday, at my friend's little coffee shop, nursing a hot chocolate (iced chocolate over the summer months), and writing. With my day job, that's really all I felt I could carve out of my day. Now this coffee shop is located on the main floor of a historic old building that used to be a hotel, back when door locks had keys like the one in the picture. I heard that there were office spaces on the second floor. I talked to the building owner. She gave me a tour, and I picked the smallest space. My desk, chair, computer, and I would all fit into a broom closet, but that might be a little weird. So I have room for a space heater and an easy chair, just in case I get visitors.

I'm thankful today that God led me to a place where I can have my own little hermitage away from home.