Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ode to The Mum: Part Two

Where I come from food is a very important part of our culture. Sure, just driving through you'll find Italian and French cuisine scattered among a million fastfood restaurants. But it's the people from Maine ya gotta eat with. Some of us have seafood or "New England Style" diners and such. Others of us, like my family, just make it at home. It's a tradition passed down from mother to daughter (and sometimes to son) for who-knows-how-long! It's a skill. An art. A knowledge to be acquired from only the best. That's who I learned it from; the Best: Mum.

Mum is a picture-perfect traditional homemaker. On first sight, she's a short woman with deep-set eyes the same blue-gray color of the stormy Atlantic. Those eyes peer out from a reddish complexion, adorned by a frame of short, fine, auburn hair. The hair is so fine and smooth that Mum has never bothered with pulling it into a bun or a pony-tail 'cause it just slips right out again.

Mum knows so much about the homey stuff. She can make a room more comfortable just by knowing what to say or how the lights should be or when to turn off the fan. I love all that about her. But what I love most is her cooking. She knows everything from why we bake more in the winter to why kids prefer their sandwiches cut diagonally; from how to make the most heavenly blueberry cheesecake, to knowing that "cassia" is really cinnamon incognito.

The food she conjures up is like ambrosia. And while she cooks, the whole atmosphere is transformed from a raucous household bustling with eight crazy kids and their company, to a quiet home of anticipation as we await the call of "Kids! Come and eat!"

I often love to set the table in the evening. Just Mum and me upstairs while the kids watch a movie or play outdoors. It's the eventide that somehow, almost magically, brings the song into her voice as she cooks. I think it's the closest to bliss I can feel without it being a holiday. The air fill with the sweet aroma of Perfection and mingles with eh silvery, jazzy notes flowing out of Mum. She always sings old songs like Dream a Little Dream of Me", and "Vincent", and a collection of Beatle's songs, and hymns too. And then when I sing the snatches of them that I know (by heart now) she stares at me in disbelief and asks, "How do you know that song?!" as if I haven't been listening for the past eighteen years. The smells and songs together are so lulling that I've often fallen asleep right at the counter stool, waiting for dinner to be served.

Mum has always cooked for the family, and that is no small task. With eight kids and Dad to feed, she manages exceptionally well. But the most amazing thing to see (and taste) is Mum's Thanksgiving dinner. In the morning she lays out a big fruit-basket that we can pick at until dinner, but other than that we're banished from food. She works for two days just on pies; with my help we can turn out 12 to 15 pies. Then for two more days (including Thanksgiving) we cook up the best foods this side of, well, anywhere! And we don't just cook for the 10 members of the family either, no, we always have to invite 8 or 10 more! It's spectacular!

Mum's taught me a lot of useful and trivial things alike. Cooking is definitely one of the more useful ones and it really makes me feel blessed to have a mother that knows so much about it.

Originally written August 11, 2004 for Mr. Thornburgh's English prompt: "Think of a skill you've learned and describe the person who taught it to you." 1/2 - 1 page long. (It came to 4 pages)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ode to The Mum: Part One

Mum. Mum, Mum, Mum. You know, some people actually think it's funny that I call my mom Mum. I don't really know why; but I've had two of my best friends laugh when I say it. Hmmmmm... What am I supposed to call her?

Mom somehow seems a little bit longer; I think it's probably because you have to shape your mouth more with an "Oh" sound than you do with a "Uh" sound. So I can't call her that... I'm too lazy.

Mother is reserved for getting her attention and thanking her. This is how a typical "Call for Mum" goes: "Mum. Mum! Mom! Momma! Mother! MariLou!! Hey! Sister Conner!" At this point she turns. Also, Mum has trained us to use Mother when thanking her for something. "Ready kids?" she'll say. We all respond simultaneously: "Thank you, Mother-Dear." It must be accompanied by "Dear" or it doesn't count. Besides, if Mom is long, Mother is never-ending!

MariLou and Sister Conner would just be ridiculous to use on a regular basis. Unless of course I am trying to call for her. But I've already gone over that. It just doesn't sound right to call the woman that raised you by her actual name. I don't know why; it just doesn't. I guess it's because she raised you. I mean, that sets you above the average crowd in her book. It would be nothing short of insulting to both Mum and her children if we called her by her name without due process.

Mum really is the perfect way to describe her in one short word. Nothing else is really needed. Nothing else is truly worthy, except maybe Mumma, to be used over and over again. (Never "Mommy".) In short: I love my Mum.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


I finally got a job at Acadia Corp! I'm working as a parker/information officer outside the Jordan Pond House, and in the evenings I'm going to be trained as a waitress inside the Jordan Pond House. AWESOME!

For those of you that don't know anything about the Jordan Pond House, it is the most prestigious and famous restaurant on Mt. Desert Island. Possibly (and probably) in all of Maine. People come from all over the world to go to Acadia, and if they have any kind of money at all, they make it a point to go to the Jordan Pond House. They're probably best-known for their Jordan Pond Popovers. (They're really good. We have the recipe.)

Usually they don't hire untrained waitresses for Jordan Pond, but the woman that hired me said that if I did it in the evenings she could train me herself. (YES! I AM SO LUCKY!) This whole set up ROCKS!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

A Weekend in a Minute

Saturday morning: Attended General Conference, in which Brother Lonsdale got the tapes a little mixed up so we watched the Saturday Morning Session and the Sunday Afternoon Session. No matter, we got to watch them all anyway.
On the way home we dropped off my senior pictures so as to get copies of them. Let me know if you want one! (I'll even autograph it! JOKE!)

Saturday afternoon: Returned a phone call from Vicki (don't know her last name) in which I was asked if she could send my picture into the Japanese branch of CokaCola Industries for them to choose. They're getting ready for a commercial and she's a modeling agent I applied with last summer. She said she'd call me back if I were chosen. (How thoughtful!)
Went to the Flame Tree Arts Festival. Bought a really cool necklace. Wanted to buy a lot more, but had NO money. Saw a lot of friends, hung out mostly with Jocelyn and Laura Hogan and Kaitlyn. Kait, Joce and I all got our picture taken together (for free) at one booth. I get to keep it since I'm leaving. (I pull that one on everybody. Works, every time!) ;)
Took Laura and Joce home with me and called Taylor and Madison Smith and Jenny Villegas and invited them over for a movie. All came except Jen. I don't know why.

Sunday: Attended the last two sessions of General Conference and loved it. Excellent talks. In between sessions, Brother Smith went out into his car and was in there for a very long time. Everyone was oblivious to it, even Sister Smith, who left in her car with the kids (except Taylor). We were in the kitchen feeding people that had stayed; a couple of missionaries, kids, our family, etc. I went outside and saw Brother Steyskal struggling to get Brother Smith out of the car; Sam was trying to help, and Taylor looked extremely worried. I saw that Bro. Smith had a hard time letting go of the steering wheel, and Bro. Steyskal was having a very hard time getting him out. I rushed into the kitchen and interrupted Dad in the midst of making his sandwich. "Dad, I think Bro. Smith needs your help." I held the door open so Dad and Mum could look out at the car. Dad rushed out and the rest of us looked on. They all got in the car (Bro. Steyskal driving, Taylor and Dad in back with Bro. Smith). Bro. Smith is extremely diabetic, but has always been very good at taking his shots and such. Apparently he had missed one or something, and had gone into hypoglycemic shock. (I recognized it pretty quick. I had studied diabetes in depth last year and the year before.) Dad told me that when he came around he said that he didn't even remember walking out of the chapel. He said that that's never happened before. Mum called Sister Smith, but couldn't get through, so she called Sis. Benson who ran down to the Smith's house and told them that Bro. Smith was in the hospital. Sis. Bernie said she was first to notice he was in trouble when she went to the car to ask him if he was okay. He said he was, but she knew he wasn't and ran to get Bro. Steyskal and Taylor. What a scare!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I hate being sick. I hate headaches. I hate stuffy noses. I hate sore throats.

Okay, well, now that that's all cleared up, guess what! I placed 5th in the National Thespian Society Regionals. I participated in Solo Musical Theater (SMUT). I sang "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love" from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. (I love that movie.) I wont be going to Nationals though. They only send the first and second place participants to Nationals.

This is actually the lowest I've ever placed in a SMUT competition. I have always come in first or second. But it's better this way anyways. If I had won, I would have been torn between going to work in Maine for the summer, or going to Nebraska to compete; I hate having to make difficult decision.

Also, I didn't really deserve it anyway. It was kind of a whim. I didn't think I had enough points to compete in Regionals. (I've really never taken it seriously enough. You know, going to every meet and stuff like that.) I didn't find out that I did until the day before the competition. The winner should really be somebody that has worked for it all year; and for some people, for four years! So like I said, it's for the best.

I think I did fairly well for memorizing the song, making the needed modifications (I was singing it a capella, so I had to tweak it) and coming up with appropriate motions just that day. I didn't really prepare in advance (which adds to not really deserving it). I'm kind of one of those "If it's not due 'til Thursday, way not wait until Wednesday to prepare?!" kind of people. But let's not tell my teachers that!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Battle of The Black Couches (AKA: The Battle for The Innocents)

I knew exactly what was going on. Before any of the other kids. Before any of it every really happened. Of course, I have been living with my parents for 18-1/2 years, longer than anyone else in the house.

I knew what was going on as soon as Mum stood up from the dinner table and looked at Dad with that "Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'" look. It didn't take long to put two and two together.
"No!" I said as soon as Mum started moving toward Dad on the other end of the table. I pushed my chair back against the entertainment center to obstruct her passage. She laughed and Sam and Jake finally saw what was going on. They too started to shout and clamor about what was coming. "Aww, Mum!" "Come ON!!" "Not in front of the kids!"
Mum tickled me and I had no choice but to immediately remove myself from her path. She got through. Kaitlyn took immediate action and started to put herself in Mum's way, but nothing would stop her. She finally did make it to Dad's lap. The kids all responded with the unanimous groan, "Oh, gross." I fell to the floor against the entertainment center and averted the innocent eyes of my littlest sister, Eden. The boys all continued in their noise. It worked to some extent, 'cause Mum didn't stay on Dad's lap for too long. Instead she got a worse idea.
"Let's go over to the couch honey."
"Ooo, yeah!" Dad said in that really freaky voice he gets when he likes something. (For example: when taste-testing food, a suggestion of a good action flick, etc.)
"Hit the deck!" I shouted.
"Everyone down! DOWN!" Jake cautioned.
"Don't look, Ez," was Sam's concerned warning. But Ez didn't listen. He ran towards the small couch and fell on top of it.

It was then that the idea came to me. Mum and Dad weren't on the large couch yet. If we moved quickly we might have time; the maneuver was possible, if just barely. I made the command and the troops followed suit. "COVER THE COUCHES!" I ran first into battle and planted my whole body, face-down, on the large couch.

What happened next is a blur to me. All I saw was the black couch-cushion, but I felt Eden and Ezra jump on top of me, and I heard Sam and Jake coming quickly. Then Kait shouted, "Get the little couch!" directly followed by all the kids getting off of me and me jumping up to see the enemy retreating, to the depths of their lair; Dad had Mum by the hand and was leading her down the steps to their bedroom.

We had won the battle, but we intended to win the war. Jake was there first. I came in last but pushed to the front in order to examine the situation.
"I've got the knob turned. They can't lock it," was the Captain's report.
"Good job." We tried to push the door open but the effort was lost due to my Second-in-Command, Sam, openly rebelling me by saying,
"Hey! They're in their room, let's go to the computer!" Even though they all know that's never going to happen because they would get their hides skinned, they still all shouted a "Hooray!" and left me there at the door alone. I too left the enemy in there to lick their wounds. Ha! I got the troops back to camp and we cleaned up the mess the ambush had caused.


As if all this weren't bad enough, I later came out of the bathroom and heard Jacob singing in his bedroom. This wasn't unusual; he's practicing for a play. He's the prince. I knew the camp was finished being cleared up so I went into his room, unannounced (which I will never do again) and found my Captain on one knee facing away from me towards my Second-in-Command. A CD was playing and Sam was trying to mouth the words to the part the princess sings after the prince (Jake) proposes or says something or other to her. Jake and Sam both stopped as soon as they saw me and for a moment paused in a moment of awkward silence, with only the CD playing. Suddenly Sam, Jake, Ez (who was watching from the bottom bunk) and I all started cracking up. I ordered them back to their duties and contemplated the oddities of life. Don't worry, I didn't waste too much time doing that!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Edenology - A Behavioral Study of My Youngest Sister

I promise President Benson a good piece of Edenology, but I would like to go further than that by helping you all take a look into the deep ponderings and concerns of my five-year-old little sister, Eden. She often voices serious concerns that I think you will find are actual problems we find on a national if not global level.

In an interview with her in the back of Dad's pickup while he was unloading bamboo and we (Eden and I) were hanging around, I found that Eden has concerns about the obesity issue of the United States. Of course, being a reflective person, she looked at the issue on a very personal level. The interview went as follows: Eden suddenly grabbed her cheeks (facial), saying (and I quote), "Evwy time I wun, my cheeks go BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!" (These last three words are accompanied with her hand pushing her cheeks up and down as a demonstration.) She was obviously disturbed... who wouldn't be?! Dad and I tried to console Sociologist by telling her that it was only because she was a healthy and cute little girl. She hid a shy smile, but revealed a look of, "Oh, you're just saying that because you have to." Dad and I just about burst with laughter... after she had left our presence of course!

The views exposed in this entry are personal opinions and the author thereof reserves the right to sue anyone that takes it too seriously.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


It is said, "through the eyes
One may view the soul",
And so from now on
This is my goal:
To view everyone
Whether "Friend" or "Foe"
Through their very own eyes;
By this I shall know
If the utterance "Friend" is just the right word
That I have bestowed
On whom I think it's deserved.
The eyes are the windows,
Not simply opaque,
And through them I can see
How to correct a mistake.

Yet expedient too
Is what my eyes reveal;
Have they become clouded
With a cold heart of steal?
Are they darker now
So that you can't see in?
If so, my good Brothers,
Then my soul's tinged with sin.
Dear Sisters! I call you!
Come to my aid!
Pull me out of despair
That my light will not fade.
I'm so glad I have realized
In the time of my youth
Just how important it is
To live by Virtues and Truth.
And so I've decided
To extend my new goal
To reach even further
Than just judging your soul.
The extension is this:
From now on I will strive
To make my Soul a Torch
That will shine in my eyes.

Originally Written on October 14, 2004 after hearing John Bytheway's talk, "Standards Night Live". Reference to Matt. 5: 14-16