Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Clean Cut

I've been wanting to write this story down for years. I've listened to my dad retell it at every pumpkin-carving Family Home Evening for over twenty years, and now, we finally have it down for posterity. I'm glad this blog gave me the push I needed to create it. I have a deep affection for each character as well as this story. Allow me to take you back to October in Salt Lake City in 1967.

Clean Cut

By Andilyn Jenkins

Halloween was less than a week away. Snow hadn’t fallen yet, but the air held its breath against the crisp frost around the corner. Red, orange, and half-green leaves scattered the frost-bitten grass along the highway. And as the pale, blue Chevy rushed past, the leaves swirled up in its wake, waving to the fat orange pumpkins collected in the Chevy’s bed.

“I think my pumpkin’s going to have a scary face. I’m going to give it two big fangs and evil eyes,” announced the blonde-haired boy as he bounced in his seat. His cheeks flushed pink, both from the cold and at the excitement of selecting the pumpkins for his family—six brothers and one sister.

“Now don’t get too riled up, Michael. You be careful carving that pumpkin,” replied Dad, a big man whose taste for responsibility rivaled his addiction to his wife’s sweet breads.

“Yes, sir,” said Michael, taking that as an order to sit still during the rest of the ride home. The minutes passed slowly before Michael’s father exclaimed and brought the truck to a stop at the side of the road.

“What is it, Dad?” Michael questioned. His Dad rarely lost composure.

“Darn black widow crawling up my pant leg. I’m lucky I saw it.”

“Can I see it?” Michael eagerly pressed. His infatuation with bugs, spiders in particular, drowned out any foreboding.

“No, son. I already swatted her,” Dad replied steadily, back on task.

They pulled into the driveway and unloaded their haul from the pumpkin patch onto the back porch. When Forrest, Michael’s younger brother by eighteen months, came out to assist, Dad left them to it.

“Forrest, you pick your pumpkin. I’m going to get the supplies from Mom,” ordered Michael as he slid open the glass door and bolted inside.

“Hey, Mom? Forrest and I are going to carve some of the pumpkins. Can I get a knife?” The seven-year-old boy asked matter-of-factly, expecting the largest carving knife for his obviously large job.

“Of course, Michael. Let me see what I’ve got,” Mom answered promptly. Her thick, dark hair pinned and tucked comfortably out of her face framed by horn-rimmed spectacles. She wiped her floury hands on her apron and opened a drawer, producing a small, short paring knife. “Here you are; that should do the trick,” Mom reasoned with a sweet smile, and without giving Michael a chance to demur, she went back to kneading her bread.

Michael clutched the paring knife and hustled back out the door. A small knife it may be, but it was a knife and would do the job. The little sculptors wasted no time in planning and preparation. They shared their mother’s paring knife, which Michael took first. He sunk it into his pumpkin, grasping the handle as though he were driving a stake into the ground. The squeaky squash cracked as Michael twisted the knife around and pulled open his carved lid. Michael set the knife aside and purged the pumpkin of its guts with his bare hands. Forrest followed suit.

Soon, the two boys were elbow-deep in orange goop and pumpkin seeds. Their excitement to carve the pumpkins didn’t extend far enough to tools for cleaning out the pumpkin, so they scratched at the walls with their fingernails and most of the slippery, stringy contents stayed in place. Once all the loose bits were cleaned out, however, they tired of the cleaning and once again, handled the paring knife.

Michael grasped the slick handle tightly in his clenched fist, the blade facing away from his body. He sat on his knees and had turned the pumpkin on its side and locked it between his legs for leverage. He deliberated while picturing his Jack-O-Lantern’s face then plunged the knife into the decided eye-socket.

“Shhhhhh-t!” Michael drew in a quick breath through clenched teeth as the puny paring knife toppled to the ground. He grabbed his right pinky and ring finger with his left hand and blinked through the quick pain then opened both hands to look at the damage. Forrest scurried up the porch steps to look over Michael’s shoulder. Before the blood began spewing from Michael’s little finger, Michael clearly saw tissue and bone.

“Want me to get you a Band-Aid?” asked Forrest.

“No, Forrest. I think this is too deep for a Band-Aid. We’d better go get Mom,” Michael reasoned. And both boys, with pumpkin seeds in their hair and orange, dried guts on their sweatshirts, blue jeans, and arms stood up and went inside.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Does Church & SM Work?

by Terri Wagner

Maybe if I'm not in charge lol. I decided to take the church's suggestion and use my social media to pass on religious messages. Now I'm a quirky person. I don't really like to pass on say quotes of the prophets, or read the BOM hints, or let's all feel good about the world. Mainly because that's being done. I follow one LDS FB person who seems to delight in presenting somewhat controversial comments to get people to respond. And boy do they! And I like that approach as well. But somehow I wanted to just post something with a humorous but thoughtful post.

Thought I had found one. Apparently, I did not think a second longer. My SM friends took it more like I was feeling that way, and rather seriously. Hmmm, should I try again?

Here's my post. Do you see the humor in it?

Monday, October 20, 2014

23 Things I've Learned...

By Claire Enos

I was trying to decide what to write about this week, and thought of my birthday this past Saturday. So, I decided to write a post to celebrate the start of my 23rd year of life.

Twenty-Three Things I've Learned

  1. I've learned that practice makes perfect
  2. And that life isn't perfect.
  3. I've learned that goals take persistance
  4. And time, lots of time.
  5. I've learned that my parents aren't perfect,
  6. But I couldn't imagine a life without them in it.
  7. I've learned that without music my life would be boring,
  8. And that boring isn't attractive, at all.
  9. I've learned that in order to make life interesting it sometimes calls for imagination
  10. And that imagination is REALLY attractive!
  11. I've learned that I can't live in a book,
  12. But reading them is pretty close to perfect,
  13. And writing them is even Better!
  14. I've learned that caring for another life is a lot of work,
  15. But that I couldn't imagine life without my animals.
  16. I've learned that it takes time to change,
  17. But if it's change I want, change will come: Good or Bad.
  18. I've learned that rules can be good,
  19. And that Rules=Freedom
  20. I've learned that my Heart has an infinite capacity to Love
  21. And that just because I don't want to love any more, doesn't mean my heart will listen.
  22. I've learned that through it all there are two things I can count on:
  23. Family and God.

Well, I didn't mean for my list to turn into a poem, but it did. And I wouldn't know it if I hadn't learned that poems don't need to rhyme in an English class I've taken in College.

I hope that you enjoyed this. It doesn't cover anywhere near everything I've learned in my 23 years of life (I have a feeling I could never write a list that long), but it covers what I found important at the time I wrote it. 

Have a great week!


Saturday, October 18, 2014


Here's an update on our crisis. My husband's open heart surgery went well. He had a triple by-pass, valve repair and an oblation.

As I told you in my last post, we wanted to sell our home as soon as we got back from our mission. So I was busy getting the hard wood floors refinished and new carpet for the basement (besides repainting most of the house.)

To top it off, I have a book, Family Talk, that came out while we were on our mission. I needed to get a blog tour ready and do some marketing.

The last two weeks have been crazy busy. I didn't think I would make it from there to here. But as I sit and reflect on what's happened, I can hardly believe the blessings we've received. Countless friends and family have added us to their prayers. They have called, emailed, or come to visit. People really are wonderful.

Most important, my husband is home from the hospital and recuperating well. He gets stronger each day. His energy level is already better. I'm so happy his quality of life has improved.
The house sold two days after the realtor listed it. That is unheard of. We know there are angels watching over us. We feel so blessed.
I also got my blog tour organized. Most of the people I contacted were willing to help me. I have such dear writer and blogger friends. I do love being associated with all of you. You are so kind and generous with your time.
I think I'm going to crash for a few days. I can't keep up this pace.
I'm a little more humble, and a lot more grateful. Blessings come from difficulties.
AND I've had no writing time at all. My creative 'side' is ready to slide into action again

Friday, October 17, 2014

Life is a Whirl

by Marsha Ward

This month will be one of the most crazy-busy that I can remember!

It started out viewing five sessions of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That is always a very good way to fill my spiritual wells.

Then began a week-long Blog Book Tour for my newest novel, Gone for a Soldier. I got a few great reviews from that, and lots of other kinds of publicity. I hope to sell some books from the effort. I hope!

I decided to revamp my website, using WordPress technology wedded to my hosting site. That is still a work in progress.

I agreed to write three interconnected short stories, and the deadline is breathing down my neck. Along the way, I lost the flash drive upon which the work resided. Fortunately, I had printed out the text, so I re-typed the story, but my notes are gone.

I saw the film, Meet the Mormons, and was able to stop by the visitation for a man who was way too young to leave his family. This meant a day-trip, but it all went well until I got caught in a huge traffic jam on my way home. The highway closure was caused by a very serious accident, which resulted in a snarl that kept me sitting in gridlock and in a convenience store parking lot for four hours.

I put the ebook version of one of my novels, The Man from Shenandoah, up for free on a few sites for the week that ends this coming Monday. It's at in all ebook editions and at as a Nook ebook. I don't know if Amazon will match the price before then, but check out the other sites.

This week will be my 50th Class Reunion. Oh. My. Gosh! Where did 50 years go? How could I be so old?

And then, next week I'm traveling again. I'll participate in a book signing, and present a class twice at a writers conference.

After I return, I'm going with relatives and friends to the Phoenix Temple Open House. I need to cram visit teaching in sometime that week. And then...

The month will be over!

Putting it all down this way makes me even more aware of how frenetic it has been and will be.

What was the most busy time of your life?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Heeding the Lantern-bearers

Beautiful but deadly jellies
by H. Linn Murphy

I missed my deadline for this site [but the blog admin waved her magic wand and fixed it] because I was up at Conference. That journey brought to the stage of my mind the fact that God, in all His majesty, is one of beauty and order and matchless love.

For us He has laid out a perfect road map to happiness, complete with ways to get back on the path when we make side trips and fall into swamps of sin and ignorance. He sets lantern-bearers to point the way and light our steps through the talus-filled passes and rocky shoals and sink holes.

Not only has He called men of great spiritual stature to teach and lead and  serve His sheep, but He has made a vast world in which we can grow and learn and try ourselves.

chambered nautilus
Every time I see a chambered nautilus with its perfect Golden Mean, or the symmetry of a jellyfish or the vastness of a stand of aspen--single entity as it is--I am reminded of that order. The lines of a deer bounding in flight, helictites sparkling in the depths of a cavern, fauna and flora in all their infinite variety webbing the world, filling every clime even to the most inhospitable, remind me that Our Father in Heaven loves us. I feel that love when I hold a newborn baby in its infinite, unmanufacturable perfection, or experience a tender mercy however small. I know He watches over me and sets guardians around me. I feel them watching at His bidding.
Gorgeous gypsum helictites

How can I, then, not pay heed to those who illuminate the way Home? How can I choose the unlit paths which lead only to pain and desperation and hopelessness? And how can I not take up a lantern and light the steps of those who come behind me?

I am utterly grateful for those men and women who stand as sentries before the gates, as examples of how to follow that road map, as reminders that we, though human, may strive for perfection and return to the God who loves us with limitless adoration.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Abe Lincoln said it well.

by Cindy R. Williams

Abraham Lincoln said, "Whatever you are, be a good one." I don't know about you, but I am trouble. I am a jack of many trades, but a master of only a few. I have my fingers in so many pots, and am spread so thin, I feel I am just spinning my wheels.

I admire people that find their calling in life early and are passionate about it from their early twenties on. Now that I think of it, maybe being a jack of many trades is much more fun. You get to try so many new things.

Is there a time in life where we must be absolutely one thing? Can we be a good one at different things at different times? I hope so because that is how I have lived my life. To me it has been more about seasons. I have found that some things remain constant through all these new things, the Gospel, my love for my family, music and story telling.

Since this is a blog and can be interactive, where do you stand on this? Are you a good one at what you have chosen to do, or do you try many things and continue to try many things and become good at them all along the way?