Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sandra, Homeward Bound

When I left for Australia, I wrote a few posts that I scheduled to go up on this blog while I was gone.

One of them was "Homeward Bound," as we were thinking of it for our sister Sandra, who we knew was going to die within weeks or even days.

Sandra's high school yearbook photo
Fortunately for her, she did not have to suffer long. She died while I was on that trip, and so it was doubly appropriate that the song appeared when it did.

As our cousin Cris wrote, "I am sorry for the families involved that deal so closely with the loss of a very loved family member, but I cannot help but think of the joy that must also be in the heart and spirit of Sandra to be released from the body in which she has been trapped for so long that has been such a challenge for her."

And, as Ellen wrote to us later, Sandra continued in faith and courage until the end.

And I've figured out that the universe is not being "unjust," nor does God let things happen to His children out of indifference or hardness or anything except His infinite love.

I'm sure that if I could see Sandra now, she would tell me, as our grandmother and mother told us, from the perspective of that other side of the veil, that this earth's life passed by quickly compared to the eternal vista they're enjoying.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Boy that Driveth the Plough

I found this in an online article about Joseph Smith.  I've taken out the footnotes and references, but you can find them by going to the original article, "Out of Weakness He Shall Be Made Strong."

I'm fascinated by stories of ancient and modern prophets. I liked this story because it showed how meek Joseph Smith was. And not in the way we usually think of "meek," like "meek as a mouse," but in the true meaning of the word---like Moses, who is called, in Numbers 12:3, "very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth."

William Tyndale, who translated and published the Bible into English in the sixteenth century—and was put to death for it—stated to a cleric opposed to placing the Bible into the hands of common people: “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough, shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost!”

In a curious parallel some three hundred years later, Nancy Towle, a famous itinerant preacher in the 1830s, visited Kirtland to personally observe the “Mormons.” She conversed with Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith, and sharply criticized the Church while in their presence. The emotional Sidney responded in kind, accusing her of being “in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity!” 

According to Towle’s record, Joseph said nothing during this heated exchange until she turned to him and demanded that he swear to her that he had seen an angel. Ever gregarious, Joseph good- naturedly replied to her that “he never swore at all.” Failing to rattle him, she tried to belittle him: “Are you not ashamed, of such pretenses?” she rejoined. “You, who are no more, than an ignorant, plough-boy of our land?” Joseph calmly responded: “the gift has returned back again, as in former times, to illiterate fishermen.”

From the time of his youth, Joseph Smith understood that a great key to cultivating humility is to seek our Father through sincere, open, and heart-felt prayer. Daniel Tyler, an early Church member, recalled a time in Kirtland where many (including Joseph’s brother William) had rebelled against the Prophet. It was a time of overwhelming difficulty for the Prophet Joseph Smith. Brother Tyler was present in a meeting held during that time, where the Prophet prayed with the congregation for the Lord’s help. Brother Tyler described the experience in these words:

“I had heard men and women pray...from the most ignorant, both as to letters and intellect, to the most learned and eloquent, but never until then had I heard a man address his Maker as though He was present listening as a kind father would listen to the sorrows of a dutiful child. Joseph was at that time unlearned, but that prayer, which was to a considerable extent in behalf of those who accused him of having gone astray and fallen into sin, that the Lord would forgive them and open their eyes that they might see aright—that prayer, I say, to my humble mind, partook of the learning and eloquence of heaven. There was no ostentation, no raising of the voice as by enthusiasm, but a plain conversational tone, as a man would address a present friend. It appeared to me as though, in case the veil were taken away, I could see the Lord standing facing His humblest of servants I had ever seen. Whether this was really the case I cannot say; but one thing I can say. It was the crowning, so to speak, of all the prayers I ever heard.” (emphasis added)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fiction Friday: January 24, 2014: The Golem and the Jinni

Madame L here, with this recommendation: Read this book! "The Golem and the Jinni" is like no other book Madame L has ever read.

We all know what a golem is, right? It's a super-strong creature made by a human (generally a rabbi dabbling in secrets he knows are dangerous), made of earth, bound to its master, with no will of its own.  It's often created to get revenge, and once it starts down the path of revenge and anger, there's no stopping it.

And we all know what a jinni is, right? It's one of God's creations, somewhere between humans and angels, made of light or fire, with a will and power of its own, able to interact with humans, but usually dangerous to them.
Here's the cover, from the Amazon Web site

So, what if a golem and a jinni both arrived in New York City around the same time, and interacted with humans, and eventually with each other?

This book will have you entranced by the characters, not just the golem and the jinni, but the humans all around them. You'll be rooting for the golem and the jinni, you won't want to put the book down until you find out what happens to them.

But is Madame L going to tell you what happens?

Not on your life. Read the book. Madame L found her copy at the Powell's at PDX, but it's available online at, too. And for once Madame L is not offering to loan her copy to anyone. She's saving it to re-read and savor at least one more time.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Rich Really Are Different

My mother had a theory about how rich people get rich: They are greedier than the rest of us, and they don't care about the same social niceties the rest of us care about. So while we little minnows are swimming through the social  seas, being oh so nice and polite to each other, they are roaming among us like sharks, taking what they want.

I attended some kind of Relief Society function with my mother once. We helped the sisters open their dishes of chicken noodle casseroles and funeral potatoes and jello salads and special jello chiffon desserts and arrange them on the serving table.  We'd brought a dish, too, though I don't remember what it was.

At the end of the luncheon, we all helped clean up, washing dishes and so on. Mother gestured toward a certain woman who lived in the biggest and most ostentatiously decorated house of anyone we knew, who was covering up her dish and leaving without helping with the clean-up.

Mother said, "See how she did that? She brought a dish, just like everyone else, but she put it in the back, and let everyone spoon their helpings out of the other dishes. Then, when the lunch was over, and the other ones were all used up, and hers hadn't even had one spoonful taken out of it, she took it home with her."

In fact, that lady said, loudly and to no one in particular, "Oh, it looks like we had enough without it. My husband will be glad to have some of this for dessert tonight."

How do the rich get rich? By taking advantage of the rest of us. Here's another person, Cary Tennis, expounding that same theory,  responding to a letter-writer who asks, "Why do the rich think I'll work for free?"

Cary Tennis writes:
If you have no seething, grinding contempt for the rich, I suggest you acquire some. You can do so free of charge.

The rich won’t mind. They will respect you for it. They understand contempt. Besides, if you do not acquire this contempt, they will take from you everything you have. They will walk all over you. How else do you think they got so rich?
Possibly this is an issue for Madame L, but I think she would have the same answer as my mother, and Cary Tennis, and me. And, yes, I do have "seething, grinding contempt for the rich." I really do.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Homeward Bound

Laura found this song for us:

Homeward Bound

In the quiet misty morning, when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear and red,
When the summer's ceased its gleaming, when the corn is past its prime,
When adventure's lost its meaning, I'll be homeward bound in time.

Bind me not to the pasture. Chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.

If you find it's me you're missing, if you're hoping I'll return,
To your thought I'll soon be list'ning; in the road I'll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end,
And the path I'll be retracing when I'm homeward bound again.

Bind me not to the pasture. Chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow.

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing, I'll be homeward bound again.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Baby Elephant

I thought this was so cute---and apparently everyone else thinks so, too. If you go to YouTube to find this video, you'll find lots of older ones.  I like this one because it reminds us that elephants are endangered, and the World Wildlife Fund is working to save them.

I guess there's nothing cuter than baby elephants. Am I right?

And then there's the song, "Baby Elephant Walk," which I learned to play as a child taking piano lessons. Like the person who posted this video to go with the music, "Ich liebe Elefanten!"

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Need for a Living Prophet

From an article in the June 2006 "Ensign" magazine:

President Hugh B. Brown (1883–1975) of the First Presidency described a conversation he had with a member of the British House of Commons and former justice of the Supreme Court of England, who was not a member of the Church, about the need for living prophets and the revelation they receive:

“[I said,] ‘I am submitting to you in all seriousness that it was standard procedure in Bible times for God to talk to men.’

“[He responded,] ‘I think I will admit that, but it stopped shortly after the first century of the Christian era.’

 “‘Why do you think it stopped?’

“‘I can’t say.’

“‘You think that God hasn’t spoken since then?’

“‘Not to my knowledge.’

“‘May I suggest some possible reasons why he has not spoken. Perhaps it is because he cannot..He has lost the power.’

“He said, ‘Of course that would be blasphemous.’

“‘Well, then, if you don’t accept that, perhaps he doesn’t speak to men because he doesn’t love us anymore. He is no longer interested in the affairs of men.’

“‘No,’ he said, ‘God loves all men, and he is no respecter of persons.’

“‘Well, … then the only other possible answer as I see it is that we don’t need him. We have made such rapid strides in education and science that we don’t need God anymore.’

“And then he said, and his voice trembled as he thought of impending war [World War II], ‘Mr. Brown, there never was a time in the history of the world when the voice of God was needed as it is needed now. Perhaps you can tell me why he doesn’t speak.’

“My answer was, ‘He does speak, he has spoken; but men need faith to hear him.’

“Then we proceeded to examine what I may call a ‘profile of a prophet.’ …

“The judge sat and listened intently. He asked some very pointed and searching questions, and at the end of the interview he said, ‘Mr. Brown, I wonder if your people appreciate the import of your message. Do you?’ He said, ‘If what you have told me is true, it is the greatest message that has come to this earth since the angels announced the birth of Christ’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 118, 120;  see also “The Profile of a Prophet,” Ensign, June 2006, 36–37, 39).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Let It Go

"Let It Go"

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I’m the Queen

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door

I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand
And here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway 
This song was nominated for an Oscar. (So was the movie.)

From an article about the song's nomination: 

Performed in the film by Idina Menzel, "Let It Go" was a "game changer" to the film's production, according to "Frozen" co-director and writer, Jennifer Lee.

"The song was so special that I literally had to rewrite a lot of the movie to support that song," Lee, who is suffering from the flu and found out about her Oscar nomination while resting in bed, said. "We were so grateful, because a big part of what makes 'Frozen' so special is anchored from that song. Thematically, that was the day Elsa [Menzel's character] became more interesting. She wasn't just a villain. That's the day she became somebody who you could really care about. So I think of that, and to have 'Let It Go' be recognized just means everything."

Ghost Town Poetry

"We write because we must," says Christopher Luna, who with his partner Toni Partington helps poets write, perform, and publish their work.

Here are photos of Christopher Luna and Toni Partington, who created the whole Ghost Town Poetry series and edited this volume (and the first one), and the front cover of the book.

You can get a copy of the book at, but what would be even better is if you buy it directly from Cover to Cover, the Vancouver bookstore which sponsors the open mics and helps poets in the area. (Or mention to me that you're interested, and I'll get a copy for you from Cover to Cover, and mail it to you.)

I'm proud to be one of the poets included in the second volume. My poem couldn't have made it into this volume without Toni's editing help. And it never would have been written in the first place without Chris's help. Thanks to both of you!

From the blurb: 

Ghost Town Poetry Volume Two commemorates ten years of open mic poetry in Vancouver, WA. Christopher Luna founded the popular Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic reading series at Ice Cream Renaissance in November 2004. In 2007 the series moved to Cover to Cover Books, and Toni Partington joined Luna as a co-host. In 2011 Luna and Partington co-founded Printed Matter Vancouver, an editing service and small press which previously published Ghost Town Poetry, which includes poets from the first six years of the series, and Serenity in the Brutal Garden, the debut collection by Vancouver poet Jenney Pauer. Like its namesake, Ghost Town Poetry Volume Two is “all ages and uncensored.” The anthology includes poems from the following local and national authors, each of whom has read at the Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic. 
And, by the way, the couple were just featured in an article by Dean Baker in The Oregonian. You can find the article here.

Football Commentary

We definitely need to liven things up around here. So how 'bout this football commentary:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fiction Friday: January 17, 2014: Miyazaki

Dear Aunt Louise Readers,

Madame L has just heard that Hirao Miyazaki is releasing what he says will be his last animated feature, "The Wind Rises."

The U.S. TV show "The Simpsons" inserted a tribute to the great filmmaker in last week's episode. You can find the tribute, with annotation, at Here's part of it:

And here's the trailer for "The Wind Rises":

According to the Slate article, the film won't be shown in North America until September, at the Toronto International Film Festival, and "it doesn’t yet have its U.S. release date." 

If you're not familiar with Harao Miyazaki's work, you should run, not walk, to your nearest library or video rental place and snap up a copy of  "My Neighbor Totoro," "Ponyo," or "Howl's Moving Castle," three of Madame L's favorites.