Monday, August 27, 2012

I've moved!  After looking into the options, I've found a blog hosting sight that better suits my blogging needs.  Please come check me out here!  Don't forget to follow me and change any links that you may have to my blog to the new address.

Full address is here:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Quote Thursday: August 16, 2012

Congratulations to Daisy, Kathy, Beth and Kelley for being entered into the blog candy drawing at the end of the month!

(The candy is really good this month!)

The correct answer was indeed 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot.
We've been reading it for our bookclub and will be reviewing it in a week.  

In preparation for that event, I would like to add my own thoughts on it.

Ladies and Gents, this is an extraordinary book.  Heartbreaking, real and captivating.  It's a true story that will keep you riveted in the end. 

It begins with a retelling of the life and death of Loretta Pleasant from Virginia.  She lived vivaciously, with fire in her belly until the age of 31...31 years old! This is when she developed cervical cancer that ravage her body. 

The story doesn't end there.

During her treatment, doctors extracted tissue samples for study.  They quickly discovered her healthy cervical cells did something extraordinary, never before seen.  

This discovery had unbelievable consequences for the medical field, literally changing the world for millions of people.  

The book also raised some very important questions about ethics and personal integrity.  I was shocked by a detailed account of unimaginable and inexcusable abuse/criminal neglect which occurred on our own soil to those who had no voice.  This, during the age of not only racial segregation but also the segregation of the mentally ill.  It was chilling to me to consider the similarities between what was revealed in Nazi occupied Germany at the end of WWII and what happened in  'insane asylums'.  

And yet, there was something about the story that left my heart warmed and hopeful.  Perhaps it was the message that one person, doing a good deed can be a gift.  That gift can make a difference.  

I would absolutely recommend this book with a warning that there is some language but definitely worth the read.  

As for our book quote for today, here it is:

"Like sunshine after storm were the peaceful weeks which followed.  The invalids improved rapidly, and Mr. Meach began to talk of returning early in the new year.  Beth was soon able to lie on the sturdy sofa all day, amusing herself with the well-beloved cats at first, and in time with doll's sewing, which had sadly fallen behindhand..."

Care to take a guess?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Memory Monday: A Sixth Grade Knowledge of Biochemical Warfare...

It was a simpler time. A time when unnamed tweens waited anxiously for their parents to leave so they could watch MTV's game show, 'Remote Control'. A time when a small town, eleven year old girl living in Pennsylvania could have a unrequited love affair with a rock star. (He was the thirty-something rocker who didn't even know she was alive but taught her everything she needed to know about being cool.)

Before sixth grade I didn't know authority could even be questioned. My parents and teachers knew everything and I had no idea wearing stripes, polka dots and animal prints together was never okay. It was around that time I fell in with the 'wrong' crowd.

They were the ones who scoffed at 'Teen Beat' Magazine and had no interest in Alvin and the Chipmunks or Punky Brewster. Instead of singing songs about 'Doing the Locomotion', they introduced me to Joe Elliott, who, instead of crooning with a silky smooth voice, hollered at adoring fans to 'pour some sugar on him'. A few of those from the idolizing masses were the cool kids from my junior high. For reasons unknown to this baffled 30+ year-old, I became their project. They started by instructing me about what to wear and suddenly I went from donning Care Bear sweatshirts to more, shall we say, edgy, attire.

I will never forget the day they dressed me in my punkest outfit during lunch recess.

Picture this:
Black jeans previously rolled up to my knees, pegged at the ankle.
An extra pair of neon colored socks.
Bangs ratted with a comb and a bottle of Aqua Net.
A hardcore Henley with the word 'Utah' scrawled across the front (this was Chambersburg, Pennsylvania after all)
And for the piece de resistance,
my nails, bitten to the quick, were colored in with a black Sharpie marker stolen from our teacher's desk.

Walking out of the bathroom that day, I felt like one of those video vixens rocking out on the top of the hood of some dude's car.

That day, I arrived.

As the days passed however, I knew I needed to up the ante if my new image were to stick.

I pushed the envelope as much as I possibly could.

This meant picking a fight, waiting until just after the late bell rang to enter class and agreeing to 'go out' with a boy (which meant we would, forever more, sit beside each other in the hallway before school started). I was crushed when he sat by Jennifer a few days later.

The breakup was messy.

I even got in trouble (on purpose) just so I could get a demerit on my previously pristine behavioral record. To make my transformation complete, I had to convince the most rebellious boy in the class. Def Leppard was equivalent to Rick Astley in his mind and the boys of Arosmith were amateurs. He was a hard core, heavy metal enthusiast whose favorite band was 'Anthrax'.

I had never even heard of them and just by the looks of his spike necklace, I'm pretty sure they were scary. But I was determined to be his heavy metal girlfriend so I could sit beside him and his drumsticks before school.

  Arriving home one day, a bit concerned by the fact that my music collection consisted of Tiffany's 'Hold An Old Friend's Hand' and Debbie Gibson's 'Electric Youth'. I promptly raided my older brother's audio cassette tapes. Unfortunately, Anthrax's album wasn't among Weird Al's 'Beat It' and Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start The Fire'.

I was devastated. How was I going to convince the boy of my rock-n-roll dreams of my devotion to a band I could barely even pronounce?

As I sat at the kitchen table that day, listening to the radio, hoping their latest would pop up on my Top 40 station, my eyes fell upon our craft corner. It was at that moment I realized I was staring at the gateway to my future sixth grade romance.

Grabbing poster board, glue, glitter and a bright, fluorescent pink marker, I set to work on something that would knock that boy's skull and crossbones sock off. I worked tirelessly, blow drying the glue and glitter because I was too anxious to wait.

As I went to bed that night, I gingerly tucked the poster away by my backpack. It had so much glitter and glue on it that it curled unnaturally but I gazed contentedly at it, convinced that it was indeed my masterpiece. For right there, with bright pink magic marker, outlined in glitter, was the word:
I was sure this would be it. I was officially the punk rock chick on the hood of that fancy car.

The next morning, I played it cool, as I protectively hid my project as best as I could while sitting on the bus. I waited at the end of the line so I could make a grand entrance into my home room. When I did, I walked up to the boy and, cool as a cucumber, well, as cool as a Trishelle Cumcumber, said, “I made you something last night while listening to my 'Anthrax' tape.” And before I waited for a response, I unveiled my work of art.

For a moment, one, sublime moment, that sixth grade boy's eyes lit up just like he was little again, finding his first set of Matchbox cars under the Christmas tree. But that moment was ever so short as he inspected it and with a look of consternation said....

“ spelled it wrong. There's no 'E' in the middle.” Then, without saying a word, he rolled it up and shoved it into the garbage can at the front of the class.

My dreams were dashed. I was humiliated. And to make matters worse, every time I looked in the direction of the trash can, that dang poster taunted me with its bright pink letter 'E' that was outlined in enough glitter to be seen from outer space. It was a very bad day and I realized I was destined to be an old maid for the rest of my life, too short to ever hop up on the hood of anyone's car, let alone Joe Elliott's.

We moved only a few short months later which was a bit of a relief considering my last attempt to redefine myself went so badly. But in a cruel twist of irony that almost derailed my new found confidence, as we drove down a seemingly endless road to a distant military installation created for the testing of chemical weapons, my father began to tell us a story.

It was about the very valley we were driving through; about how several decades prior, a deadly nerve agent was accidentally released into the environment and wiped out an entire herd of local sheep. It was terrible to the locals and a bunch of people were pretty ticked off at the military base's commanding officers.

We listened to the story, enthralled and little freaked out. We were heading straight for the epicenter. I held my breath as I cautiously looked out over the vast fields of gold and brown, looking for any sign of mutated or zombie livestock.

Dad, noticing my concern, said something along the lines of, “But don't worry, guys. We'll be safe there. I'm not even sure they use that nerve agent anymore anyway. I'm pretty sure we'll never have an outbreak of Anthrax and we'll be perfectly safe.”

My stomach lurched and my head began spinning, “That is what Anthrax is?” I asked my father.

“Well, yes it is.” he replied.

All of the sudden, I felt smug, triumphant even. Because in that moment I realized I was WAAAAAAY smarter than that dumb boy who listened with his headphones to that dumb rock band who named themselves after a sheep killing biochemical weapon. It made me laugh to consider that the stupid rocker boy probably had no idea he was listening to something representative of death, destruction and quite possibly large amounts of drool. (clearly the logic was lost on my 12 year old self)

I felt vindicated and laughed at how close I came to being lame.

What a relief it was to have already moved on from such lameness. Yes, I was looking into the horizon where Dugway Proving Ground and my future awaited. Confidently entering a new chapter with new appreciation for talented musicians who crusaded against such ridiculousness...whose lyrical genius would be heralded for years to come and, who like me, were New Kids On the Block.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Book Quote Thursday: 8/2/12

I've been feeling like such a slacker in regard to my writing.  I've done very little this summer but it has been on my mind a lot.  Now that there are some BIG changes in the works for our family (more on that later) I feel a more pressing need to finish my manuscript. 

That said, I totally dropped the ball on Book Quote Thursday.  The last one I did was in May and yes, the correct answer was 'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak.  It broke my heart to discover we'd be losing him a short time later.

So, I Slacker McSlackingson, announce the winner of May's Book Quote Drawing:

MARGE W. from Salt Lake City, Utah

This makes me particularly happy because I particularly love and adore this woman.  (That has less to do with the fact that she's my grandmother and more to do with the fact that she is awesome!)

So, keep your eye out for the prize, my Dear, it will come to you compliments of the USPS very soon.

In an effort to turn over a, I'm starting off August right.  Here's the first book quote.  

“When she was in high school, Deborah cried and lay awake at night worrying about what awful things might have happened to her mother and sister...”

Name that beautiful, devastating, thought provoking book.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Driving Miss Crazy

Recently, Scout Master He-Man left town for eight days in order to chaperone his Boy Scout Troop attending camp. Since transportation to the site was limited, it was decided that I would take Kate, our little puddle jumping Honda.  He would take Bella, our Toyota Sienna.  (We name our cars after Shakespearean heroine...I know, our drama geek is showing.)

Before then, every so often, one or two girls would ride in Kate, just for the novelty.  While certainly not a super snazzy set of wheels to drool over (although I would've been impressed the year I graduated high school), the girls loved occasional one on one drives with mom or dad.

We had never before attempted to fit all four kids in the vehicle.  I dreaded the attempt.  Come to think about it, I probably ought to have tested out the arrangement BEFORE He-Man left for a destination 8 hours away...

Luckily, after much huffing, puffing and cursing under my breath, I was able to shove the necessary car seats into position.  Having had attained this small victory, we celebrated by going out to eat at our favorite dinner spot...which, we discovered that night, serves Cotton Candy Shirley Temples.

The newness of our driving arrangement wore out in about 2.6 seconds.  The following is based on a true conversation...

Bunny:  "This is SOOOOOOO cool!  Mom, could you open the sun roof?"

LuLu:  "Yeah!  Can I stand up and stick my body out while we drive?"

Mom:  "No."


Sunshine:  "Listen to this joke..." (proceeds to tell said joke)

Bunny:  "This is boring.  Mom, I'm squished."

Sunshine:  'Knock, knock?"

Mom:  "Who's there?"  (Sunshine finishes the joke.)

Bunny:  "Stop copying me, LuLu."

LuLu:  "Stop copying me, LuLu."



Sunshine:  "Hahaha!  This is a funny one.  Can I read it to you?"

Mom:  "Just a second"  "LuLu, stop copying your sister."

LuLu:  'Stop copying your sister."

Mom:  "LuLu!  Do I need to stop this car?"

LuLu:  "No."

Sunshine:  "What do you get when you cross a--"

Bunny:  "MMMMMOMMMM!  Lulu keeps licking my hair!"

Sunshine:  "What do you--"

Bunny:  "Ewwww!  LuLu keeps licking.."

Mom:  "LuLu!  Stop licking your sister's hair!" 

Ruby:  (the sound of squeaking as she is gnawing on her flip flop.)

 Mom:   "Ruby, shoes are not for eating!  Get that out of your mouth!"

Ruby:  (giggle, giggle) "Okay"

Bunny:  "Mom!  LuLu won't give me my hair back!"

Bunny:  "LuLu, you're going to get a gigantic hair ball in your stomach and die."

(LuLu quickly gives her sister her hair back)

Sunshine:  "So mom, I have a riddle."

LuLu:  "MMMMMOM!  Ruby is eating my shoe!"

Mom:  "Who gave Ruby LuLu's shoe?"

Bunny:  "Me" (she said sheepishly)  "She's hungry".

Mom:  "Ug!"

Sunshine:  "What's black, white and covered in slime?"

Mom:  "Not now, Sunshine."

Bunny:  "MMMMMMOMMMMM!  LuLu won't stop bugging me!"

LuLu:  "It'

Ruby:   (breaking into song)  "Y.M.C.A!!"

LuLu:  "It's fun to stay at the YMCA-A!"

Bunny:  "NOOOOO!  You know how much I hate that song!"

Sunshine:  "NOW can I tell you my joke?"

Mom:  "Um, just a sec..."

LuLu and Ruby in unison:  "It's fun to stay at the YMCA..."

Bunny:  (between sobs of rage and desperation) "Make it stop!"

Mom:  "That's it!  The next person who makes a peep will be forced to eat sea monkeys for dinner and  everyone's broccoli for dessert!"

Ruby:  (As loud as she possibly can) "Y.M.C.A!!!"

5 minutes later...

We made it to the restaurant mostly unscathed.  The left side of Bunny's head was soaking wet, LuLu's flip flop had a chunk bitten out of it and Sunshine was humming the tune to YMCA; with me making a be-line to our booth to drown my single-parent sorrows in an unsuspecting Shirley Temple.  Were it any stronger, I might have been able to get that blasted song out of my head too.

On a lighter note:

To the inventor of the minivan:  May you be surrounded by sparkles, sunshine, puppy dogs and people who suddenly feel the need to bestow upon you copious amounts of chocolate.