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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

To Talulah

Dear Talulah,
I know I haven't written for awhile, I get busy, and when I have a second I find the only thing that interests me is pointing the remote at the TV. And then when I realize how much time I have wasted I feel so guilty! But not enough to stop....typical.
Things here are the same, we are still trying to find an industrial kitchen to cater from, or a full on store front....we keep trying to find the answer, but it's not coming. In the mean time Raymond continues to improve his recipes for pizza and pasta, and a million other things. He does know how to make food sing.
I had a really disturbing thing happen the other day....Remember when I wrote that blog, you know the one about me pouting that a minister called my religion a cult? I was trying to be funny, but one person didn't find it too funny. She wrote to me and said it was good that Mormons were being scrutinized because she had had such a terrible experience with some of her family that had joined the Mormon Church. I was horrified when I read what had happened. It seems that her brother had joined the church and he and his wife decided that the rest of family was an evil influence on their children. What do you say after that? Except that her brother and his wife are NUTS. Who does that? How does anyone call their own family an evil influence? How can you profess to love God and then hate His children? I wrote back to her and told her that was not what Mormons are supposed to do.....we are supposed to be at least nice, and definately less like a donkey than that. How was she to know that all Mormons aren't taught to avoid family members who don't "see the light"? We had known each other through our children and I always wondered why she never seemed comfortable around me. I figured she was just shy....I had no idea I represented the devil himself to her. A reminder of a faith that had taken her family from her. Me, cute little Donna.....

When did religion become a club we can hit other people over the head with? Oh, yeah.....from the very beginning. From Cain to Caligula, people who can be jerks sometimes hide behind God and then use Him to justify ghastly behavior. I am pretty sure God would not like that.... wonder folks get a little crazy about religion. We have really messed it up.

Remember when Uncle Bill wouldn't go to church and Aunt Stuff said how great church was and if he didn't go then he was going to hell, and Uncle Bill said he would go to church when Aunt Stuff's dad gave the money back to the Baptists and apologized for running off with the church secretary?
Remember when Aunt Stuff ran over Uncle Bill's football that was autographed by Earl Campbell himself? And then Uncle Bill said religion was baloney because if it was so great they wouldn't fight about it every Sunday.....Remember when Aunt Stuff said Uncle Bill's parents were never married? To everyone at Aunt Barbara's birthday party?

Oh, my don't we love religion.

Loving God is supposed to change you....make you want to be better, different than you used to be. God would never tell us to abandon our families because we didn't see Him the same way.
I am not even very smart and I can see that.

I am so glad my friend took the time to write that letter to me. I learned a lot from her, one thing in particular......she said we never know the burden another person is carrying. How true is that? I read that we should treat everyone as though they are having the worst day of their life and we will be right fifty per cent of the time. I wish I would remember that, and stop thinking of myself so much....and how I am hurt, how things affect me, blah, blah, blah. Maybe I could take a look at folks around me.

I wish I was more like you Talulah.....even though you are a heathen Episcopalian. I tell you what, if you get to heaven before me talk me up OK? And if I get there first I will polish the seat next to me.....unless I end up with Uncle Bill.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Great Can You Be?

I love a great motivational speech...I love hearing I am taller than I am, smarter than I am and stronger than I am. Because I know when I think it, I can do it.

I can do it!

So this morning when my son called and was a little down, I asked him if he had listened to the Braveheart speech lately....he hadn't. So I told him to google the Braveheart speech before he did anything else.


Because we need someone to remind us what we are made of. Often.

There is a line I picked up from a short fim......after a montage of football hits, and the speaker says in the background, "nothing hits harder than life." I know it is why we enjoy sports so much, why we root for the underdog....we are all the underdog in our hearts and we want someone to believe in us and tell us we can do it. Because life does hit harder than anything else. And we want to know we can get up......

We don't want to die of thirst not knowing we were inches from water. Bad times do one forces otherwise docile people to action. People who would be fine going back to Virginia to farm like George Washington saw a need and understood what had to happen.

Thank goodness great people have felt that need to do something. Do you see what has been invented or created in the last 100 years? We literally have gone from horse and buggy to having a computer in your phone.....what once took up an entire room is now available on your phone! I now believe I can launch the shuttle (if it was still running) from my house! A hundred years ago people were dying from the flu, simple infections and polio. Think things are better now? It is because people saw a need, knew they could fill it, and did it.

Innovation is what has made us strong....critical thinking makes us smarter......and good questions are what makes us think.

When was the last time you heard a really good question? When was the last time you heard the answer to a really good question? When was the last time you took the time to be the one with the answer?

My question for you is, How great can you be?

Friday, October 14, 2011

From My Son....

My talented film major son, Trey, also has a blog. He wrote about his beliefs and how he got there.
In the Third Epistle of John verse 4 it says, "I have no greater joy than to hear than my children walk in truth."
He is a blessing....enjoy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is This Worth a Pout?

Dr. Robert Jeffress has hurt my feelings. He stood in front of a camera and called me the member of a cult. I know there are 14 million Mormons in the world, but lets be clear, it is all about me and my feelings are hurt. And because I am a mouthy salty woman I can't just leave it there.

It is not my intention to counter any of his points, I am not about to try and "set anyone straight". No argument here. Dr. Jeffress has access to the truth about my religion but he chose, as my sweet uncle would say, "to not let the facts get in the way of a good story."

And what good would it do anyway? What would I gain by trying to persuade him that Jesus Christ is the center of my life? He won't believe me.

But He is. The the center of my life. But Dr. Jeffress says I don't believe in Jesus Christ. And no matter what anyone says, it doesn't stop, he doesn't stop saying it. And it hurts my feelings.

Dr. Jeffress couldn't know that I searched for a religion that felt right. I wasn't born a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints....I went looking for a place to worship. My mother's family is Baptist, but my mother never went to church. My father's family is Methodist, but he never went to church. When I started my search for a religion I went to the Methodist Church first. The Pastor asked that if anyone wanted to turn their hearts over to Jesus to just come up front. So I did. I went right up front.....and I waited, and nothing occurred. That was it.....wait, this is it? No further instruction?....nothing. I didn't know much but I knew that just saying I believed was not going to help me be a believer. I didn't even know what I believed in. I had questions, I wanted to learn, I wanted to know why, I wanted to know everything.....So I kept looking....and then 2 missionaries came to my house. Mormon missionaries. I knew lots of kids from high school who were Mormon. They went to 3 hours of church on Sunday, and before school every day, very intense. And a little daunting. But I listened to them anyway although I was eager to rush them out of my house.......but they kept coming back. And then that Sunday I went to church and suddenly I knew I was home. It just felt right....I had to join, I wanted that feeling all the time. There have been only 2 decisions in my life that have been easy, decisions I haven't regretted one minute.....they are joining the Mormon church and marrying my husband. It wasn't easy for my parents when I joined there was an implied rejection and a lot of mother's cousin didn't help by sending some information to my mother about Mormons that scared her to death. That was the first time I came across anti-Mormon literature.

I have been aware of it ever since.

Anti Mormon demonstrators are outside every temple opening, they come to every conference in Salt Lake City, they come to the pageants our church puts on in the summer at Manti Utah and Palmyra New York, all on our property. Everywhere we go, there they are. Signs, whistles,and yelling at sweet older women as they cross the street to go to conference. And as we leave conference, all 21,000 at a time, our leaders remind us not to engage the demonstrators.


I so want to engage them, I told you I am a salty mouthy woman.....I did do that one time, engage was really dumb. But I did pull one great prank. When our temple was having it's open house, I was in charge of driving people up to the temple. Right there at the gate entrance were the anti's. I stopped and they walked over to the car to give me their literature. I was mad, I mean c'mon this is our temple.....but I was polite. All I could think was, leave us alone, this is a big deal to us...... but I smiled and took their stuff and went on my way....and then I had an idea........the next time I went through I was really nice...I told them how much we enjoyed their literature and could we have extras? They complied and we pretty much emptied them out. Every time I went through I got a stack of their papers and put them right in the trash. All Day Long. It was fabulous!!

I am not going to tell you that being Mormon is some big put upon deal, I mean after all we get every designated driver job. And if you needed a kidney wouldn't you hope a Mormon was available? We are actually very healthy people. I have never been denied a mortgage because I am Mormon.....but it does hurt when I have had great conversations with other mothers at school, we chat and find out how much we have in common, delighted to find a "kindred spirit" and then they find out I'm Mormon.....suddenly there is no friendship and no play dates. That stings.

But to be sure I have had great experiences with religion and friends who aren't Mormon. Case in point my friend Ellen Ayoub. She called one day and said, "Donna I heard something about your religion today that just doesn't sound right, I know you and I know you wouldn't have anything to do with a religion that believed what I heard today." She was right, it wasn't true and I was able to explain what we really did believe. I will never forget that, so kind, so tolerant.

Someone needs to contact Dr. Jeffress and tell him that the people he vilifies and judges so harshly have feelings. But it isn't new....People have been making people feel badly forever. From the Merchant of Venice, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.......Shylock talks about being Jewish and doesn't he bleed like everyone else? I tried to put the quote in, but it didn't work...but you know how it goes, we are just like everyone else, we laugh, we bleed.
And as a people we are adorable. Gladys knight? Donny and Marie? Philo Farnsworth? (invented TV) your neighbor, your child's teacher, and of course, me.

So Bob, cut us some slack....and give me a call. I would like to know what you think....

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Urine Sample and the Search for Something Better

So for anyone who has been following the odd doings of my life....please let me continue.

I had a flu shot which produced a huge bruise. And then, lucky me, I promptly felt like I had the flu for the next 24 hours....I didn't care for that, and neither did anyone around me......oh by the way.

Then I went to offer up my blood to the technical lab ghouls, other wise known as phlebotomists, who work for my doctors. Since this last test they have the evidence as to whether my cholesterol is where it should be (it isn't) and levels from my B12 to thyroid to sugar to anemia to almost anything else including whether or not I can swim. I am amazed that blood reveals all our secrets......I just want whatever big bang that created me to know how grateful I am for such a handy way to monitor my health.....I love all the miracles that big bang was able to lucky for us all.

At the end of my bloodletting they handed me the dreaded small cup....the urine sample....40 to 50 milliliters she says. I have been fasting I tell her, no eating no drinking...I think I am only a 20 milliliter girl. She doesn't smile......I go off on a journey that I am convinced will not have a happy ending. However, I noticed all I had to do was leave a sample in the cup on the table by the bathroom....and they were so busy no one could yell at my lack of "effort".

Another test down. I seriously am finished with this health stuff. I remember one time my husband went to Santa Barbara for a physical. He met with a doctor who interviewed him, and decided which tests he needed. He started his tests that afternoon, the last test was a colonoscopy....which is not nearly as painful when you have an ocean view. And then at the end of the 3 days the same doctor reviewed every test and told him the results. He praised him, yelled at him, counseled him and sent us home.

Now that my friend is efficiency. Very different indeed from my appointment on appointment wait and wait.......

The worst part is I haven't even ventured over to the Caligula Center of squeeze....otherwise known as the mammogram terrorists. I heard they get their training in Afghani caves from Al Queda operatives, that seems like a good fit.

I also went to the dentist this week with the worst pain....cracked tooth! Where has my luck gone?

Forget luck!! I am banking on the law of compensation.....which means I should be a size 6 next week along with sole ownership of a pair of killer shoes. Seems fair for a couple of really annoying weeks.

Life is like that isn't it? And the reason we stick around and stick it out is that we all believe in the law of compensation.....we inherently know things will get better.

That no matter what bad news we get we'll shake it off and start over. Put some dirt on it.......We believe there might some great thing right around the's how we got TV from Philo Farnsworth, or a bigger map from Lewis and Clark.....without Neil Armstrong we would never be able to say, "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It's what kept Mother Theresa going back to save one more child and got Rudy through Notre Dame. Without it Susan Lucci wouldn't have kept going to the Soap Emmy's, and my people wouldn't have gotten back on the boat in freezing Canada after a long trip from France to say, "we are off to somewhere warm". They then discovered Louisiana and invented gumbo. I am grateful for their search for something better....I don't like the cold.

From Philo to the Cajuns they all felt there was something better.

So the next time you pray.....ask for what you need.....or something better. Don't limit yourself.

And by the way stop complaining about all the medical tests you have been having......I am tired of being a good example for all of you. The strain and stress of it all.

Hook 'em! #RedRiverRivalry2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall at my house.....

I live in the desert, it is a hard place to make things beautiful....being from Texas I don't like not having years ago we made a deal with our yard.....actually we made a deal with the University that they could use our front yard and we would basically do what they told us to do. We had put in a Wetlands.......the first residential constructed wetlands in Nevada....and so our yard was a great fit for wild experiments. They simply wanted us to not use pesticides, and not to augment the soil. We had to see what would really grow here. So they brought in experimental plants and we dug the holes, Sometimes having to jackhammer to make the holes big enough. This ground is hard and rocky.....a true challenge. My front porch.....looks like a home in Texas doesn't it? A gift from my husband....I am so happy he likes it as much as I do....
And so now the flower show starts.....all of these pictures are of the front yard. I just wanted you to see the colors, and the possibilities of drought tolerant plants.

I tried to delete this picture because the palm in the pot is so ugly and I haven't replaced it yet. But it was too not everything looks great!

This is the most beautiful plant, the flowers look like wisteria, but of course, it isn' does freeze, but all four of mine came back, after a lot of time.....most everything starts greening up in April, this one and the bougainvilleas didn't really start going until June. It does pay to be patient.
Verbena is always a must
You can't see this very well, but this is an African Sumac that volunteered in this place, so my husband bent it way over and tied it down to train it to watch over the wetlands....
the Cannas are what we have in the wetlands right now, we took out all the cattails and the curly willow. Too invasive. I which we had hundreds of different kinds and colors of cannas, but maybe some time.
Another African Sumac, they volunteer everywhere because we mulch the entire front of our yard. In fact so much volunteers that I plant and replant all the time.

The original African the trunks on these treesSee the purple? It is called purple heart and I got it out of a woman's yard I had admired. She just handed it to me and now I have it all over. In the bottom of my pots, in the yard, in water, in the wetlands, everywhere.
This is my favorite bougainvillea, it grows up around the mailbox, the mail man hates it, but I don't have the heart to cut it. It comes back every year.
And here it is again....
I love it....
purple heart and creeping myrtle.....I got the creeping myrtle from a friend, and now it is also everywhere.
Russian sage (smells heavenly) and purple ruella growing inside of it. They were both volunteers.....
Next to the purple buddies is California fuchsia, which absolutely takes over......and the start of the pumpkin story...

Last year we went to Sacramento with the Holley's and we went o every farmers market there was. my husband got several gourds and pumpkins and harvested the is what he did with them.......
They are everywhere
all across the front of the yard.....

Is this wild? It goes right across the steps in front of our house.....and there are so many pumpkins and gourds.....just crazy....I wanted to share the fall in the desert....our imagination and a shovel....