Saturday, January 24, 2015
Monday, December 22, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
Gabriel's Daughters: A novel by Janet Kay Jensen
Contact the author:
Twitter: @Janet KJensen
Author: Janet Kay Jensen
Sunday, December 7, 2014
What a privilege it was to meet her.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Is It Cliche to Say that Emma Lou Thayne Was A Brilliant Light?
Those who were lucky enough to know her, understand the need and want to be around her. For women of my generation, we looked at her with admiration. She led the way, a "Mormon Matriarch" who championed women's rights, activism for peace and AIDS awareness. I'm writing about her on my faith journey blog because we talked about faith. In the last ten years whenever I visited with her, faith and the LDS church were the things we talked about and yes politics. She knew of my discouragement. Her faith exuded from her, but it wasn't a forced faith from dogma and guilt. It wasn't an all or nothing faith, it's easy. Easy for her. Easy to love the good that she cherished and discard what she thought was "nonsense." Her confidence in her own mind and voice allowed her to have the ear of many of the top LDS leaders. She worked with several on the Deseret News Board, the lone female voice for much of the time. She did even call church headquarters a number of times to speak to her friends there about her concerns. President Thomas "Tom" Monson said this about her passing: "I am saddened at the passing of my friend, Emma Lou Warner Thayne, a multi-talented and caring individual whose outstanding contributions in literature, in education and in other endeavors have done much to enlighten and to inspire," Monson said Saturday in a statement. "She will be greatly missed. I join with countless others in extending my deepest condolences to her dear husband Mel and to her entire family."
When "A Place of Knowing" became available on audio format, "Tom" called her on the phone because he'd listened to it. She'd said, "you know how he likes to swap stories. We must've talked for an hour or more."
The year she spoke to our book club in 2012 was a hard year for me, as years go. My faith was rock bottom. I had always seen Emma Lou as a beacon for how, who, and what I could be as a Mormon woman of faith. I knew from personal conversations that we thought very much the same way on a lot of issues regarding the church, politics, and eventually about lgbt rights, and yet she wasn't teetering on the brink. She was fully engaged. Church groups regularly invited her to speak, often using her beautiful hymn "Where Can I Turn for Peace" as a theme. She lived and practiced grace. But that year, I felt like I could not be like her. The realization broke my heart. Who did I think I was anyway? No one could be Emma Lou--only Emma Lou. So after that year, I fell off the horse of trying so hard and decided I'd have to be satisfied to be myself. And as a writer and a voice, even though my voice is only a whisper compared to her command, I will continue to find myself and be true to my own voice because after all that's pretty much what any of us can do. Dear Emma Lou, thanks for your kindness, your good heart, your big smile, your humor and your enthusiastic full participation in the game of life. Never willing to sit on the sidelines, you soared. You will always be my hero and my inspiration. Bigger than life, your light will continue to guide us with your powerful voice. All my love. Until we meet again.
Friday, December 5, 2014
Monday, December 1, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
El Chavo is a long-running Mexican comedy series, now in syndication. My new daughter-in-law introduced me to this madcap group of characters. They're all about slapstick and silly plots, and now Darling Granddaughter #1 wants to be El Chavo next year for Halloween. Generations have loved this show, and I usually don't need any translation---the skits are funny even if you don't know Spanish. Darling Granddaughter # thinks it's the funniest show she has ever seen. I must admit, El Chavo is growing on me.
One of his most touching pantomimes was “the old man watching the parade.” He entertained the troops many times, and wrote a touching speech, which he credited to a teacher in his youth, which explained what each phrase meant. That became a hit record. He was a patriot. Later in life, as a hobby, he began painting pictures of clowns, which became immensely popular. Lithographs of his portraits bring in 2.5 million a year, more than he made in performing. Here is one of his subjects:
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
When I was a newlywed, my neighbor had an unexpected errand to run just as her loaves of bread were ready to bake, and she asked if I would bake them in my oven. When my husband returned from a grueling day of grad school an hour later, he sniffed the fragrant loaves browning beautifully in the oven and closed his eyes in ecstasy. I knew he was thinking: "And she bakes bread, too!" When the truth was revealed, he managed to accept it with grace and humor.
I think many of us can identify with Nina and Elliot in The Accidental Marriage. They meet in Scotland where Elliot is serving the last months of his LDS (Mormon) mission and Nina is enjoying a semester abroad. There is instant chemistry between the two, and when they reconnect later in Utah, it's still there. Marriage with its happy dreams and expectations soon follows. But paradoxically, the very qualities that attracted Nina and Elliot to each other before marriage were not what they expected after the vows were said. Nina's not domestic; she yearns to eventually attend law school. Elliot, who plans to be a dentist, doesn't think his wife needs a "real" career; home and family should be her domain once he's established in his profession. And she should also be a great cook. He expects this in part because his mother is a paragon of domesticity; surely Nina could become one, too.
And what does Nina expect? A lover of music and literature (and tennis), the English major recalls a moment in Scotland when, in her eyes, Elliot momentarily resembled her favorite poet: "Robbie Burns was standing next to me on the top of St. Rule's, so incredibly handsome, and the terra firma just moved beneath my feet." Elliot's response? "He wasn't sure he liked this. He felt like a stand-in for a dead poet."
The two end up in a cramped student apartment in Logan, Utah, where Elliot attends Utah State University and Nina bravely takes a job teaching middle school English. Reality soon sets in and they find themselves in an unhappy partnership. Adding to her stress, Nina is confronted with blatant sexual harassment by the "good old boys" of her faculty, and when she faces it head-on, the results aren't pretty. (Did I mention that this book is set in the seventies?) Elliot's old girlfriend (a sweet paragon of domesticity and adored by Elliot's family) is also standing in the wings, waiting hopefully for him to come to his senses and choose her instead.
There are subplots illustrating the dynamics of the families in which Nina and Elliot were raised, and daily issues including finances, cooking, laundry...all of which become surprisingly important to the struggling couple. When they finally seek help from their LDS bishop, he identifies their painful conflicts in concrete terms and offers wise and compassionate counsel. In the end, of course, it's up to Nina and Elliot to change and grow and work hard toward a resolution if this marriage can survive.
There are some proofing errors and a couple of minor plot threads apparently got lost during the editing process.However, this reflects more on the publisher than the author and didn't affect my enjoyment of the book.
In The Accidental Marriage Haws delivers engaging, well-developed and realistic characters as well as a vivid picture of life in the 1970s, immersing the reader in the music, literature, fashions, educational practices and cultural influences of the era. Haws also creates a strong sense of place that almost functions as an additional character in the book. Though the cover art is clever and the unexpected humor within the story is delightful, this is a book that deals with serious issues and addresses them with depth. There are also some unexpected plot twists that make this book hard to put down.
The Accidental Marriage is not your mom's predictable Mormon romance that guarantees a happy ending from page one and contains stereotyped LDS characters. Haws has written a frank, thought-provoking and refreshing novel, a welcome addition to LDS literature.
Monday, November 10, 2014
|Imagine this in front of your home...|
Yesterday afternoon a bubbling pond emerged from the parking strip in front of our house. The city people arrived and within a few hours the broken water main was repaired. It was a little inconvenient to be without water for a few hours, but it made me grateful for good water that is readily available and for the city workers and their equipment.
Then, in the evening, a water valve up the street broke, and "Old Faithful" gushed more than 50 feet over/in front of another home. It sounded like a waterfall. Soon it was tossing rocks at the home, shattering windows and bringing mud and water with it. It was an hour before the workers were able to stop the flow. The front yard was destroyed and the basement filled with 6 feet of water. I don't know the extent of the damage but it will be significant.
I am grateful for water but humbled by its power.
Monday, October 20, 2014
musical theatre class at Pasadena City College and have been