Saturday, April 27, 2013

My Top Twelve Favorite ABBA Songs...In No Particular Order :)

I grew up listening to--and loving--ABBA.  My parents were fans, and my sister and I spent hours with microphones singing along while the albums played.  Tara would be Agnetha--because she was very light blonde, and I would be Frida--because I was darker-haired.  We have such wonderful memories tied to this group.  I decided to make a "Top 10" list and failed.  I just couldn't do it.  I managed to make a Top 12.  I almost cried having to leave out "Fernando", "Chiquitita", "Ring Ring", "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "SOS", and "Mamma Mia", among many, many others.  What a great sound this group had.  What talent!  In no particular order, let us get to the wonder of ABBA and their lovely, magical music!

--Andante, Andante  

I love this one because it is so romantic and Frida takes the lead...

--The King Has Lost His Crown

My father's personal favorite.  I love the warm tone of Frida's voice.

--Dancing Queen

Probably the best known and best loved ABBA song--and for good reason.  Every time I hear it I want to dance.  And be a queen.  ;)

--The Day Before You Came

The storyteller in me loves this song.  Agnetha's crystal clear soprano is the perfect foil for the melancholic tone of this piece.

--Kisses of Fire

Hot kisses.  Of Fire.  Enough said.

--Angel Eyes

Ooh!  Love this one.  Can't you just imagine his eyes??  Can't you just imagine the heartbreak??  Run, girl, run!!


--The Winner Takes It All

The ultimate break up song--when you're the one getting your heart broken.  Makes me cry every time...




 Love the upbeat tempo of this one.  It also has a neat little history lesson in its lyrics.


--Rock Me

Okay, this one is a little sexy; but I LOVE it!  What a fun song--and Bjorn takes the lead...


--Super Trouper

I absolutely love this song.  It was how I remember my infatuation with Scotland beginning--as Glasgow is mentioned.  Hey, from there you just had to go to kilts, bagpipes, and the Highlands--SOLD!  ;)



The title is in French, which captivated my little girl imagination.  When I was young I thought it was about dancing, which solidified it as one of my faves.


--Does Your Mother Know

Another one sung by Bjorn--girl, you're too young!!


I hope you've enjoyed this little trip through ABBA memory lane.  I sure did!  :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Television Heroine

 It is rare to find a character on modern day television that is truly admirable.  A person that--although not perfect--embodies many of the qualities that I would like to cultivate in myself.  In fact, I had to go way back to the mid-80's to early 90's to find one I love pretty much everything about.  The character that I have found closest to my ideal is that of JB Fletcher, played by the marvelous Angela Lansbury.
     I remember spending Sunday afternoons at my grandmother's house.  We would inevitably stay until it was late, and we would all watch "Murder, She Wrote" together.  Thanks to syndication and DVD's, I can now watch JB Fletcher in action just about any time I want.  Why do I love Jessica Beatrice Fletcher so much?  Let me count the ways...

--Jessica is a widow.  At the beginning of the show we learn that she has lost the love of her life, Frank Fletcher.  She is relatively young to have lost her husband--only in her early to mid-50's.  Throughout the show, we are treated to tender reflections and bittersweet memories of her beloved that she shares with the viewers.  The depth and sincerity of their affection is illustrated through 12 seasons of "Murder, She Wrote".  We are given glimpses here and there that combine to form a picture of a vibrant, healthy, and happy love.

--Jessica and Frank Fletcher were never blessed with children of their own.  This fact is mentioned with a sense of resignation tinged with lingering sorrow.  Having several children of my own, I cannot imagine what struggling with infertility must have been like.  I am sure that this unimaginable pain helped to form the strength of character that she possesses.  Although she never had children of her own, she has several nieces and nephews who love her dearly.  This love, we can assume, didn't just happen. Years of kindnesses and caring thoughts and actions were needed to develop these relationships and deep trusts.

--Jessica is a retired English teacher.  If I had to work outside of the home,  I think a high school English teacher would top my list.  Several of the people that I admire most were my teachers when I was in High School.  (Okay, I would choose to be an English teacher or a History teacher.  Definitely my two favorite subjects in school.)  After her retirement and the death of her husband, Jessica embarked on a new phase of her life.  Bored with the current offerings for a recent widow, she sat down and wrote a book.  Not just any sort of book, but a murder mystery.  I would love to write a novel.  I've started several, but I have a difficult time "enduring to the end."  When I finally reach that milestone, I will definitely celebrate.  Murder mystery isn't my genre, and I would be very satisfied having written a sweet romance or a thrilling paranormal romance.  In my opinion, a book has got to have at least a little bit of kissing.  ;)

--Jessica lives in quiet Cabot Cove, Maine.  Here the people know each other and the natural scenery stuns at every turn.  In reality,  MSW was filmed in Montecido, CA.  I've never really desired to move to California, but the picturesque nature of the area could surely tempt me.  There are crashing waves and rocky shores, a lighthouse and small businesses, and the most adorable Victorian cottage that was Jessica and Frank's home for many years.  She still lives in that little cottage, tending her flower beds and typing her next manuscript.  (I've read that the cottage depicted as her's is now a Bed and Breakfast.  It's on the bucket list, people.)  However if Cabot Cove were truly a reality, it would have a murder rate that is 50 times that of Honduras--the leading murder capital of the world (per capita).

--Jessica is a very active woman.  Many of the episodes show Jessica jogging in the morning.  One day that will be me.  ;)  She rises early and starts her days productively.  She also rides her cute cruising bicycle around town.  (She never learned to drive.)  I really admire a woman who values her health--and Jessica certainly does.

--Jessica is always dressed well, including hair and make up.  Sometimes I think "of course she can do that, she has no husband or children who need her to take care of them."  Then of course I play devil's advocate with myself, "Laura, if you had no children or husband to take care of, would YOU fix your hair and make up every day?"  I'm going to pretend that I would--just like Jessica.

--Jessica is herself in every situation.  She is kind--but not condescending--to those who are poorer or less educated or of a perceived lesser social station than herself.  She is also well-spoken and elegant when conversing with everyone from officials of the State Department to Foreign Dignitaries, famous actors to acclaimed artists, multi-millionaires to well known celebrities.  I like a woman who evaluates people based on their character, and not fame or fortune or family name, and treats them thusly. 

--Although Jessica still lives in her adorable and modest home, she travels in style.  She flies first class, stays in beautiful hotels, and dines in elegant restaurants.  She visits cities and countries far and near, meets the most interesting people, and makes good friends and confidants wherever she goes. I do admire a person who doesn't just sit on their wealth, but enjoys the comforts and delights life (and money) can offer.  

--JB Fletcher is one smart lady.  She has a vast base of knowledge to draw on and, added to her keen observations, uses her wits to solve the inevitable crimes she encounters.  Not only is she smart, she is very brave.  Dark and spooky secret passageway revealed?  Just let her grab her flashlight and she will explore it alone.  Sneaky, scary, and suspicious character moving silently through the night?  Follow him, of course!  (This, by the way, is so NOT me).  

An added benefit of watching MSW is seeing so many actors and actresses guest starring.  There is Jerry Orbach, Courteney Cox, Tom Bosley, George Clooney, the guy from Unsolved Mysteries, "Joanie" from "Happy Days", Joaquin Phoenix, and many many more.  

These are just a few of the qualities that drive my deep admiration for the character of Jessica Beatrice Fletcher.  Maybe one day I will be able to claim a few of these characteristics for myself.

My Not-Quite-Perfect Life

    I just finished reading a post that brought up a very real problem inherent in social media.  By its very nature, we control the information that we distribute about ourselves.  In effect, we paint the picture of our lives that we would like our friends, families, acquaintances, and even strangers to see.   What moments in our lives do we want to share with others?  The perfect hair cut, or the bed head?  The artfully decorated birthday cake or the one that had six children "assisting" in the process (and looks it!)?  The happy Disney vacation, or the miserable 13 hour car ride getting there?  I have a beautiful life.  It is a gorgeous long-stemmed blush pink rose, tinged with dew.  And thorns.  Quite a few thorns.  But isn't that life?  Isn't that what we are here on Earth for?  We have moments of bliss and minutes of sorrow and hours of relative boredom.  And it's okay.  So, in order to temper all the lovely blush pink, dew-tinged gorgeousness that I present on facebook regularly, I'm going to share some thorns.  Again.

Sometimes children are going to get dirty and look like rednecks and there won't be anything we can do about it. Especially if they've spent the day fishing with their Pop Pop...

Sometimes children will show very little table manners. It seems to occur more frequently when one is dining at a restaurant. Go figure...

At times a knife and a fork will be used. Proper results are not guaranteed.

Scrapes and bruises and runny noses are part of the childhood experience. John John believes in living this part of childhood to it's fullest extent...

Along with scrapes and bruises, let's add bee stings. Sure, why not? And how about bee stings right before school starts for the new year!!

Children are great dressers. Especially on Sunday mornings when every one is in a rush to make it on time!

Sometimes kids cry a little on the first day of school. Sometimes moms do, too. And sometimes they throw a party. ;)

Sometimes little girls break their foot and get bone infections that require surgery, hospitalization, and intravenous drugs through a central line. Sometimes that happens.

Sometimes you don't win the Pinewood Derby. Sometimes you get third place. Sometimes there are only three contestants and it isn't fun to come in last. It happens sometimes, though.

Sometimes little children make big messes when they're trying to help their mommas cook. And sometimes they look like little orphans who have no one to care for them while they are doing it...

Sometimes kids get a little spaghetti on their white shirts. It happens.

Sometimes little girls like to sneak into their mommy's make up and make a big expensive mess. Sometimes they manage to look quite lovely while they are doing it...

Sometimes big sisters can really work over baby brothers with only a wooden swing and a concrete floor. As a parent I have learned what Christ meant when he said that we must become as little children to inherit the kingdom of God. He immediately forgave her and was back to his smiling self in no time...

Sometimes kids just make big old sticky icky messes and give no thought at all to what kind of day their mom might be having. If it was bad, it just got worse. If it was good, it just went downhill, so maybe it didn't matter anyway???

Sometimes big sisters dress their little brothers up like girls. And then their mothers take pictures of it and put it on facebook. The horror!

Sometimes we have beautiful locks and sometimes we have, uh, this...

So in the words of my beloved Gordon B. Hinckley:

“Life is just like an old time rail journey ... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sometimes I hate diabetes.  I mean really, really, really HATE diabetes.  My young son, Noah, has lived with Type 1 diabetes for a little over three years now.  We still don't have it controlled.  As soon as we think we have a working system down we find out something in his body isn't working the same.  Then it is back to the drawing board to try to figure out how much insulin he should be getting and at what times he should be getting it.   Managing diabetes really forces one to be flexible--even when you feel so stretched that you could break.  Today I had one of the worst scares of my life.  After a week of lows, Noah had yet another 'fit'.  I do not know how to describe how terrible these episodes are.  It is as if he is having a seizure, rolling on the ground and thrashing about.  He is crying, moaning, whining, and all I can do is try to hold him tight to my body as I pour a fast acting glucose drink down his throat.  I hold him and tell him, "I love you, Noah.  It will be alright.  Drink this!  It will help your blood sugar.  I love you, Noah. So much."  He is  strong and yet I feel so frustrated, because no matter how much I want to I cannot take this disease from him.  I do believe that every challenge we have in life will be to our good if we handle it in the  best way that we can.  For Noah, one of his challenges is this life-controlling disease.  For me, as his mother, it is seeing my little boy struggle as he tries so very hard to live a normal life.

Wearing My "Falsies"

I always wanted bigger ones.  Luscious and voluptuous--a striking profile.  No silly, not those kind of 'falsies'.  I am referring to  false eyelashes.  As a young girl I embraced the physical manifestations of femininity--most often exhibited in the form of the super long eyelash.  My princesses, forest animals, and yes, even my octopi, had excessively disproportionate lashes.  My obsession led me to try these out on my own.

Do they look real?  No, of course not.  Do I care.  No, of course not.  If the fine young ladies of Lawrence Welk can wear them, then why not I?  If the pop songstresses and starlets actively flaunt lashes not found in nature (except on the occasional male--so UNFAIR!), why couldn't I give it a go.  I was interested to see how others would react to my chosen adornment.  So what did my experiment reveal?

Lots of people looked me in the eye--well a little above the eye--when speaking to me.  I lowered my eyes demurely  when a door was held for me, to which  I replied, "thank you" and was granted a "my pleasure" instead of the more common  "you're  welcome."  A coincidence?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  ;)  I think word passed quickly through my groups of friends and acquaintances.  Many more people sought my company--if only to take a gander at my eye accessories.

Will I continue wearing them?  Some times.  Not every week of course, but often I do believe.  They're fun and they bring out a little bit more of the girly girl in my personality (I know a lot of you will say MORE GIRLY GIRL????  HA!).  Then there's the added benefit of not having to wear mascara.  So when you see me wearing them, I won't take offense if you take a second peek!  I might even flutter them at you!  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thoughts on Austin

Yummy Green Mesquite BBQ, fortuitous meetings with millionaire ranchers, a truly eclectic mix of characters--all coalescing to form a great experience in our short trip to Austin, Texas. Texas fans are nice, the stadium is huge, and most of the girls wear cowgirl boots with their skirts. I've always loved boots, and this may be the first time I've gotten a yearning to buy a pair of western style (but they were really cute!).

We packed light and so I only had flip flops to wear (they were the "dressy" pair, with the fake, transparent, gold colored accents, hehehe). In hindsight, not the best pair of shoes to hike the 2.5 mile distance to the game (which, incidentally, turned into a 4 mile trek). However, in addition to my bruised feet, I met some very interesting individuals on my solo trek to the stadium.

There were the drunk guys--one who, when I asked directions to the stadium simply stared and said, "you have sweet blue eyes"...HA! Can you say "beer goggles"? This isn't the first time a drunk guy has commented on my eyes. I've decided I'm not picky, though, and I'll take whatever complement I get. :) There were the drunk girls who asked us to beat Texas because they were Aggie fans and couldn't stand the Longhorns. There was the incredibly wealthy--and incredibly unpretentious--ranchers who gave me their phone numbers in case my grandfather (who lives in east Texas) needed help getting away from the wildfires.

Austin is filled with metrocycles--which are rickshaw type vehicles pulled by bicycle. We fortunately snagged one on the way home from the game--saving my already sore feet. We rode through the downtown and I have to say I was pretty floored with the night life. It's not my cup of tea--I'm more a bakery/hot chocolate in the morning kind of girl--but it was pretty fascinating to see so many different people visiting so many different nightspots.

All in all a wonderful weekend and Austin definitely rates as worth at least one more trip! Next time, though, I'll wear more sensible shoes. ;)

Ten years ago today, Adam, my first child, was lying in bed with me. He was only 15 months old and we were snuggling under the covers. My three month old Seth was still asleep in the nursery. Jeff called me and told me to turn the television on, and I stood there in shock and watched the tragedy unfold. How strange, to be so aware of misery actively occurring hundreds of miles away. That misery soon reached across the country and around the globe as we realized the extent of lives lost, and how heroic and brave and stalwart and true so many of those people were.

I remember not even comprehending how people who didn't even know us could hate us so much. I have to admit it was not in my nature to even truly understand this. As the years go by, I have learned that evil doesn't have to be comprehended to exist. The people who planned, prepared, and executed this terrible act want to take away our agency. They want to see us as they are, chained to an ideology that would actively work to murder fathers, mothers, daughters and sons in terrifying and horrific ways. No thank you.

The results of this act have been war. I know people who have given their lives protecting our freedom. Has it been worth it? I believe if we didn't fight we would just see more 9/11's; so I have to say, 'Yes, it has been worth it'.

I am certainly not one who blames Muslims in general for this act. I would, however, hope to hear more Muslim voices unrestrictedly condemning these actions. I would also like to see active work within the Muslim community to reform those factions which practice violence and hate. I know that some are diligently working to make sure they are not defined by the actions of a relative few.

Ten years later I am sitting in a hotel in Austin, listening to bagpipes in the street play a mournful melody. I consider how today I will be on a plane flying on the anniversary of our country's darkest hour. It is small, but I feel as if it is my own statement that I have my agency still. I am proud to be an American.