Saturday, January 28, 2017

Now is the winter of our discontent...

I just saw a "friend" re-post an extreme right wing "news" story (read: anything by Rita Skeeter) listing all the reasons why Trump's (read: Voldemort) executive order temporarily banning immigrants (read: squibs) and refugees (read: mudbloods) was the right thing to do for our country. As disturbing as the story was, and as disturbing as it was that this person agreed with it to the extent that they felt like sharing it, what was was truly disturbing was their defense of the article. They posted in a comment "Better safe than sorry" (read: "Always Pure!"). 

We're already sorry, sorry and sorrowful that our nation has stooped to this level. We are disheartened and heartbroken that the person who occupies the highest seat in the land has ordered an ignorant, short sighted, and bigoted order. If we, the people, let this stand we are a disgrace to all who came before us paving the way.

I am a friend of immigrants. I am a neighbor of refugees.  I have been taught by and mentored by immigrants. I am the grand daughter and great great grand daughter of immigrants. We all come from somewhere. We all want our shot at living the American dream. That dream is not only disappearing it is rapidly turning into a nightmare. We are better than this.

What is especially frightening and terrifying to me are the number of Christians who are lauding this ban.  I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon, a Christian.  What I am about to say is addressed to my fellow Mormons who are defending this ban as a good a necessary thing.

To all those that cheer this ban, please take a hard look at LDS church history. Look at all the times our people were legally swindled because they were considered second class citizens. Look at all the times when good people not of our faith looked the other way when our people were hurt and harassed, because they were afraid. Look at how we were driven out of cities and states time and time again. Look at how many died in horrible conditions while fleeing persecution, unwelcome at every turn.  OK, now take a few minutes to ready this short article.

How do you feel?

Now look at the moments in our history that are horrific not because of our persecution but because of what we did in retaliation...please don't try to justify away the Mountain Meadows Massacre. A few Mormons were truly terrible people who did awful things, but most of us were just seeking refuge. Now look in the mirror, look at the photographs of your Mormon you see terrorists?

How do you feel?

Now watch this video all the way through.

How do you feel?

This is the first step of the new administration onto a slippery slope.  Ask any Jew how the holocaust started. It didn't start with the gas chambers. It started with the government wanting to identify them, you know for the good of the country...then to track them, again for the good of the country...then to limit their freedoms, also for the supposed good of the country...then to commandeer their belongings, because their country NEEDS it more than they do...then to separate them out from polite society...and so on and so forth. IT STARTS SMALL. So small. 

My grandma Toni left Germany in the 1930s afraid of what her country was becoming.  She was allowed to immigrate.  During WWII she was speaking on a party line telephone to her sister, who had also immigrated, in their native tongue, German.  The neighbors reported them as spies and wanted them sent to an internment camp.  They were peaceful immigrants, both married to your stereotypical red-blooded American patriots, mothers to American children, active members of their adopted communities, exercising their right to freedom of speech.  Their "good" friends and neighbors allowed hysteria to get the better of them.  I refuse to be the "good" friend and neighbor in this modern scenario.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!" ~How Firm A Foundation by Robert Keen
Jesus is revered by Islam, even though its followers do not consider themselves Christians. Jesus willingly invited a traitor into his inner circle. He loved the man that betrayed him, even though he knew what would happen, he still gave him a chance. I would rather welcome in 999 good Muslims and 1 bad Muslim that might kill me, than turn a single one away to save my own skin.  As long as we've had immigration we've had immigrants who have committed crimes, formed gangs, and created problems.  That's not because their immigrants but because they are human.  Do not judge the many by the actions of the few.  I am all for responsible legal immigration, but this temporary ban is not that. How much is a single life worth?   
"...and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" ~D&C 18:15

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" ~John 15:13

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke
 "Because I have been given much I too must give" ~Grace Noll Cowell
 "...For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." ~Luke 12:48
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." ~Matthew 25:40
As members of the Christian community Mormons just spent a month+ celebrating the birth of our savior Jesus Christ.  We read passages from the bible about the persecution of the Jews by a fearful governor of the land.  Persecution that caused the holy family to seek sanctuary in Egypt as refugees.  We remembered the life and pure love of the son of God, who welcomed into his inner circle a man who would betray him, and knowing full well what that man would do, loved him and cared for him anyway.  He extended his love and his forgiveness even unto Judas who served him up to be tortured and killed.  He loved him anyway.

To those of you who joyfully support this ban without even the slightest hint of compassion, but recently spent December contemplating and singing about and preaching about peace on earth and good will towards all men,
I am saddened beyond words.
Be the peacemakers, not the mob. Be the example of Christ like love, not the prejudiced government officials. Be the open arms, not the fearful onlookers who did nothing. Learn from history, please don't repeat it.  Speak up, let the White House and your representatives and Senators know that this is not right.  Support the civil rights attorneys and immigration attorneys who are fighting to keep their clients here legally.  Donate a few dollars to the ACLU who is working hard to help refugees and immigrants immediately affected by this ban.  Let the immigrants in your community know that they are welcome and loved and safe with you.  If you want to do something in conjunction with the church, they have a program that you may have heard of under the hashtag or name I Was A Stranger.

I'm not perfect, far from it.  My faults are many.  I'm flawed and I'm weak and I make ugly mistakes that I am ashamed of.  But right now what I am is angry. Mr. Trump do what you will to me, I could care less what happens to myself. Do not punish the good and innocent because of fear and ignorance. I will not be silent, I will not stand by and not react, I will not be a "good" little woman who doesn't cause a scene. By all that is holy I will absolutely cause a scene and I will not be ashamed of that. 

I will not stand idly by and watch in silence as rights are stripped, as we are isolated from the outside world, and as people start quietly disappearing in the night.  It is reassuring to see the love and acceptance of the Canadian government and people.  Thank you Mr. Trudeau for your amazing example.  It is reassuring that if our government loses its mind completely and people start disappearing, that the Canadian border is less than a day's drive from my home and that I have friends there who would welcome my loved ones to safety.  Although if that nightmare of a worst case scenario comes to pass, I will not run, I will stay and fight for what is right.

To those of you who would angrily dissent with the opinions expressed here, this is not said with malice towards you or with the intent to incite vitriolic argument.  These opinions are shared with love.  This is a plea for compassion, love, hope, and charity towards our fellow man.  I would kindly suggest that you watch the historical drama "Good" starring Viggo Mortensen, and contemplate how small things escalate into massive conflicts, before you comment.

 "3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 Charity never faileth..." ~1 Corinthians 3-8
Charity is the pure love of Christ.  As Christians we should aspire to follow in his footsteps.  Do not celebrate and blindly support a man who is the exact opposite of the definition of the pure love of Christ.  This ban is the first small foray of evil sent to break down our charitable spirits.  Immigration is good and necessary.  We do need to provide legal channels to vet all immigrants, I'm not arguing that.  We already have one of the most extensive and difficult immigration vetting processes in the world.  The LDS church supports healthy, legal immigration.  We do not need to ban immigration outright.  Our president's mother and wife are immigrants.  This ban is not about immigration it is about racial and religious bigotry.  Do not let evil triumph.  Do not let charity fail.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Photo Shoot with Amber from Two Color Photography

2016 is finally over.  Everyone has been posting memes and talking about how awful it has been in general.  It was a rough year for me personally.  Last year my father passed away in April just a few months shy of his 94th birthday.  It's difficult to encapsulate his life with any kind of brevity.  It wasn't just that he lived a long time, almost a century, but that he filled all those years with love, travel, hobbies, and service. 

Among the things that Dad loved were coca-cola, popcorn, his family, his work, music, airplanes (he was in the Army Air Corps in WWII and he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force), bow ties, photography, and classic cars.  He collected several antique vehicles and loved driving them in the local parades here in Cache Valley.  After he lost his driver's license it fell to me to drive him in the parades almost every Saturday between May and September.  Confession: I LOATHE driving in parades.  I loved driving the cars, I hated doing it in such a public way.  I don't like being in the public eye.  Smiling and waving?  NOT on the list of my favorite things.  But dad loved it and I loved him, so I did it. 

His last auto project was a 1970 Mercedes 450 SL convertible.  He had owned it for a while but the body needed work.  Wade at Straightedge Auto Restoration out of St Anthony did a beautiful job repairing and repainting the car.  He was able to match the original Mercedes blue perfectly.  The car was finished just a few months before dad passed away and Dad was so pleased with it.  If you're in the Utah, Idaho, or Wyoming area and are looking to have restoration work done on a classic vehicle please look up the Straightedge Auto Restoration facebook page and give them a call, they do amazing work.

It had been a while since I had collaborated with any of my photographer friends and I wanted to do something to celebrate Dad and his beautiful cars.  So I got a hold of Amber Rust at Two Color Photography and laid out what I wanted to do, she immediately jumped onboard and we started planning.  I called on the amazing Ashley Palmer to be my MUA again, she did my makeup for the photoshoot with dad's 1968 Newport.  Ashley also hooked me up with Amber at Kutting Edge salon for my hair.  All of these ladies were awesome to work with.  Ashley was especially patient as I kept bursting into tears while she was trying to do my makeup and it took way longer than it should have because of that. 

Once the makeup and hair were done I got dressed, picked up the car, and drove over the hill to Garland to meet Amber at the abandoned Main Theater.  We had managed to unknowingly plan the shoot for one of the hottest days of the year and I seriously worried on the drive over that I was going to sweat off all the makeup, but I arrived intact, if a tad sweaty.  Luckily as we started a storm came up on the horizon and once the clouds covered the evening sun the temperature dropped about 20 degrees and made it more bearable.  It was a lot of fun and I'm very grateful to everyone who helped make it happen.

My father's father was born in 1903, I was born in 1979, I thought the dates on the mural were fitting.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

100 Words

Drabble:  A drabble is a short work of fiction of around one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.
A few months ago I stumbled onto a drabble writing group online.  Before finding the group I had no idea what a drabble was.  Each week the moderator posts a new prompt.  The prompts could be a song title, a single word, or even a picture.  Then you use that prompt as a jumping off point to write a story in 100 words or less. 

I'm not much of a writer and I have never had ambitions to become one.  Somehow the idea of the drabble wormed its way into my head and now I look forward to the new writing prompts each week.  It is a small creative challenge that gives me a chance to practice writing just for the sake of it.  There is no competition, no awards, nothing important at stake.  Just the chance to flex your mental muscles.  The pressure is off because you're not trying to write the next great American novel or an amazing screenplay or something that will shake humanity to its core.  You're just writing small vignettes to convey some small meaning.  There is something wonderfully freeing about the restriction of only 100 words.

I've submitted several drabbles to the group.  There are several more that I haven't posted.  Some because they felt too personal to share, others because they felt half baked or needed more work.  Here's a few drabbles I've written in the last few months.
There are thousands of platitudes about forgiveness.  In the years following the event she heard them all.  Everyone meant well, but clichés couldn't erase pain.  There’s no drive thru  window where she could order a hot cup of peace, and drive away satisfied.  In the end she decided forgiveness was building a cairn.  Its purpose is to mark progress on your path.  On good days you add a pebble as you pass.  On bad days you kick it to pieces and start over, stone upon fallen stone.  One day she started a new path and left the pain behind, forgotten.
The prompt for this one was "Dialogue only" .  That was a lot more difficult than I anticipated.  But I think this one turned out ok.
“Scott? Where did you go just now?”

“Huh? I’m right here.”
“Your body’s here but you were looking through me, I knew you weren’t listening.”
“Oh, um, I’m really sorry…”
“No, don’t apologize, I’m not mad, just curious where your mind was. Some place warmer than here I hope. Sorry, lame joke. I was just nervous babbling, I do that on first dates. Sorry, I’m not very good at this.”
“Don’t you start apologizing or we’ll start a vicious cycle. I really didn’t mean to get distracted. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
“And go where?”
“Some place warmer.”
The prompt for this one was "Present".  I love words.  Especially words that have so many diverse meanings.
She fumbled about for her ringing cell in the dark. Muddled, only half awake, she didn’t check the caller ID.
His voice brought her fully awake like an electric shock. She cursed herself for not screening the call.
“What do you want?”
“I miss you, I want to come back.”
“It’s been over for 4 years, the answer is still no. I’m sorry, goodbye.”
Years of bad marriage once again settled on her chest like a weight. The radio alarm suddenly crooned a Lumineers song “…the only gifts from my lord were birth and a divorce…”. She sighed.
I think this is my favorite so far.  It feels like there could be so much more, but I'm also happy with it as it is.  I'll admit that the inspiration was only partially the prompt "Elysian" but more the poem "By Morning" by May Swenson.  She's my hometown literary hero.

"Mid-Winter Sleep"
She stirred, unsure why she had awakened. Slipping on her robe she looked over her shoulder at her slumbering husband. It hadn’t been him that disturbed her sleep. She frowned at the dark circles under his eyes, grateful and regretful that he had to work so much.
She padded to the window, air from heating vents billowed curtains. Looking out between the dancing fabric she saw the city had been turned into glistening canyons and mountains of white. “A snow day at last” she whispered to him as she slipped into bed, kissed his forehead, sighed, and fell back asleep.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Be Smart

You know I rarely mention politics here.  Today, after several ridiculous exchanges with a very poorly informed person, I feel like I need to publicly share my thoughts on the subject of the current rumors about WW3 and our political process.  Because of our great country and it's constitution I am free to speak my mind.  You, of course, are equally free to read it, or not read it.  It's up to you.

Please don't panic and go about fear-mongering. The 22nd amendment prevents the president from serving more than 2 four year terms. Contrary to what people are saying (i.e. fake news sites, far right wing pundits, and your ignorant neighbor/friend/coworker/family member) there is no law stating that if the president declares war that he gets to/has to stay in office for two more years no matter what.

The only way President Obama could stay in office is if he or congress declares martial law. And he could only maintain that if there was no challenge from the military courts. The chances of that happening are slim to none. In fact in the history of our country national martial law was only declared once by a sitting president and that was during the civil war. Congress has never declared national martial law. 

We have held elections during world and civil wars. The inauguration will go on as usual (unless someone assassinates Trump before then, which given the current state of world politics is a possibility, but an unlikely one).

Oh and for the record, the Russian ambassador was NOT the modern equivalent of the Archduke Ferdinand and it is highly unlikely that his assassination will start WW3. He was a disposable mid-level diplomat assassinated by a young off duty police officer with Syrian sympathies. Russia knows this was not sanctioned by the Turkish government.

So for the love of all that's holy please stop. Just stop. Stop spreading unfounded rumors. Stop spreading fiction dressed up as fact. Please, please, please fact check from a reliable source before spouting off. Trust me on this, your hair stylist, cousin, boss, fedex guy, etc is probably not a constitutional scholar. Get all the facts, not just the sensational and probably made up headlines. Our constitution has been carefully crafted to make it very difficult for our leaders to flaunt the rule of law. Trust in the system, trust in the decency of the people of our country. Educate yourself.  Don't believe me?  Contact your nearest university and ask to be patched through to the Political Science Department.  Thanks.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

European Odyssey - Part 7-ish, A Sheldon Update...of sorts...

I need to post this addendum, of sorts, to the travelogue I just finished posting.  While we were in Europe a couple of our friends who weren't familiar with Sheldon's travels decided they were going to find a Sheldon and send him searching for Amy. 

Every day new photos would appear in our facebook feed.  As you can see in the photos the day after we left on our trip it snowed in Logan, more than a foot of snow in some places, which made us extremely happy with the spring weather we got for most of our trip.  Sheldon visited our friends, local landmarks, and even one of the offices that I work at sometimes.  In hindsight I'm incredibly glad they decided to have him visit my dad's coke collection at his office.  Since dad passed away earlier this year most of the coke collection has been cleared out and given away.

I've decided since the real Sheldon seems to be truly lost, that I should declare him dead and send this new Sheldon 2.0 adventuring in his place, maybe with Amy this time around.  What do you think?

This afternoon, Sheldon looked around and realized that Amy Farrah Fowler was gone from her spot (it's only been six days since she left).  So he headed off the shelf...

...down the chair...

...out the door...

...and into the snow.

He stopped by the gym for some self-reflection, but he couldn't find her there.

He looked for her at their favorite gelato place, but she wasn't there. Meanwhile, he wrung his hands while violating several health codes

Then he repeated the process at the nearby Maverick. No luck.

He took a small detour...

...and waited among the tithing slips...

 ...while M. had a meeting with the bishop, who let her take this picture, but didn't realize he'd be in it.

 He searched for her on the basketball court... the ice rink...

 ...under a pile of snow...

...and in a tiny British "phone box."

Well in his defense we were in London for a couple hours, he wasn't far off.
"Amy Farrah Fowler, are you in this disturbingly dark fish tank?"

I sort of hoped we'd see him jump in with some snorkel gear on.  That particular fishtank really IS disturbingly dark.
"Maybe I'll be able to see you from here."

"Or here."

One of Sheldon's travel companions.
"I'm pretty sure you're not in here." He's beginning to worry.  To be continued...

 Sheldon finds himself searching for AFF among the llamas...

...on the treadmill... pursuit of dinner...

...and near a roaring fire. To no avail.

 Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon is waiting to make you a True Aggie!

At a complete loss for what to do, Sheldon regroups in a familiar place.  Is he feeling human emotions?

He must be getting closer!

Liege waffles at The Waffle Iron, now he was DEFINITELY on the right track.
Maybe if he waits here, she'll find him.


Silly Sheldon, that's not Amy.
Where are you?