Here are a few bits of exposition to help you make sense of the following story. I am an active member of the LDS church, colloquially known as the Mormons.
We call the simple and beautiful ceremony of eternal marriage 'sealing'; it is a sacred ritual performed by proper priesthood authority in any of our Temples around the world. Children are also sealed to their parents, ensuring that those who are faithful to their Temple covenants will be together again after the resurrection.
We also believe that God, being no respecter of persons, has provided a way for those who have died to receive these sealing ordinances, if they desire to accept them, in the afterlife. In the Temple, these ordinances are performed by proxy, which means that the living can serve in place of those who have gone on. We call this 'temple work.'
This is one of the reasons many LDS people, including myself, are avid genealogists. We want to find our ancestors and provide them with the opportunity to be sealed together as one great family from generation to generation, again believing that they are always free to reject these ordinances if they so choose.
We believe this is the meaning behind the gorgeous scripture in Malachi, chapter 4, which reads:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and
dreadful day of the LORD:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the
children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite
the earth with a curse.
I first started doing a little genealogy (or family history) nine or ten years ago, when Christian and James were small. Imagine my surprise to find out that I had many ancestors from the Lake George area. In fact, my first relative to join the church, my great-great-great-great grandfather John Tanner, had once owned the very property on which The Sagamore now stands, part of a town called Bolton in Warren County.
John Tanner was a wealthy landowner with twelve children. Unfortunately, at some point he contracted a disease in his leg that forced him to be in a wheelchair. He was in this handicapped
condition when he met Jared and Simeon Carter, newly called Mormon missionaries, in 1832. He believed their message of a Restored Gospel, with restored priesthood authority, and told them that he would get baptized if they would heal his leg.
The Carter brothers commanded him to rise up and walk, and he did: he got up, walked a mile to Lake George, and got baptized. Soon after, he sold all his property, traveled to Kirtland, Ohio (where most of the Latter-day Saints were living at the time), and gave all his money to the prophet Joseph Smith to help get the church out of debt. Later, he walked all the way to Utah with his family and settled there.
So the next time we went to the Sagamore, I decided to do a little cemetery reconnoitering and see what I could find. In the big Bolton Cemetery down by the lake, I found the grave of John Tanner's first wife and a few of their children who had died in infancy. I wrote down the names and dates and took photos of the tombstones. It may sound a bit creepy to those who think graveyards are scary places, but I had the cozy feeling you get at Thanksgiving, when you are surrounded by people you love and who love you.
There were a couple of other, much smaller cemeteries on the Bolton map I'd gotten; I looked for those next. The smallest was hard to find; it's in a grassy, overgrown field not far from a golf course, easy to miss as you're driving by. But I spotted after about the third try, parked, and got out.
These stones had not been well tended; their writing was much harder to read. But almost immediately I found two that captured my interest. One read:
wife of Harvey D. Tanner
died May 2, 1842
aged 25 years 4 mos & 29 days,
and the other read:
son of Harvey and Dorcas W. Tanner
died May 2, 1842
aged 4 years & 5 mos.
I had a different feeling about these two graves: a sense of sadness and loss. How had these two died on the same day in May so long ago? Disease? Fire? Catastrophic accident? I didn't know, but I felt very concerned about these two people.
Call it a hunch, or the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, but I HAD to find out who these people were and if/how they were related to me. I started looking once I got home.
LDS Church records showed that the first graves I'd found at the big cemetery were all relatives whose temple work had been done.
Church records also showed that Harvey had been sealed to his wife Laura Cooledge, whom he married in 1843, and their two children, Dorcas Anna and Morgan Harvey (who has a very interesting story of his own--he married a certain Sarah Eliza PERKINS in 1888!).
But there was no LDS Church record anywhere of Harvey Dean having an earlier wife and son.
A little digging in census and Warren county records confirmed, though, that Harvey had indeed been married before. I submitted Dorcas's and Horace's information through the Temple Ready program. I did Dorcas's temple work, and then Patrick and I were able to stand in for Harvey and Dorcas when they were sealed and when little Horace was sealed to them.
Later, I found Dorcas's family going back a few generations; I've gotten their temple work done as well.
This was the first time I'd had a confirming witness of what I had been told by a Church patriarch in a special blessing many years earlier. There IS genealogical work in my family lines that only I can do. All the family I know of from this line is out West now. What other relative of mine would have occasion to be up prowling around Lake George while these tombstones were still legible?
(Have you ever seen the movie Young Sherlock Holmes? How I love that film.)
Oh, and my post title? That's my Rowlingesque, fake Latin translation of 'Scavenger Hunt.' (For the real Latin, try Jenna.)
Since I have made the insane decision to participate both in National Blog Posting Month (Nablopomo) and in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) in the month that includes my birthday, that of our eldest child, and Thanksgiving (which I host for between 16 and 20 people each year), I figured I'd need some help.
Enter RaJ the Great and Terrible and his genius idea for a framework for Nablopomo: that of a scavenger hunt. For Nablopomo, I need to post once a day for the 30 days of November. I know; not onerous on the face of it, right? Except for the fact that there are MANY days when I wake up thinking that there's nothing very blogworthy going on. Ergo, I am silent.
RaJ suggested a way to get our readers involved: ask THEM (that would be YOU) to provide us with items/ideas as post subjects. They can be concrete items (a toaster) or abstract ideas (world peace). They can be burning questions you've been dying to ask. They can be topics you'd like to see addressed. They can be obnoxiously obscure things you'd like to see dealt with in a (semi-)creative fashion. It's up to you.
So I'm taking the first 30 ideas you, gentle readers, submit to me, reserving the right to toss any I deem inappropriate. Feel free to submit more than one, but if you do so only submit ONE IDEA PER COMMENT. Otherwise, I'll just take the first one you list and ignore the rest. What? It's my blogparty, and I'll be picky if I want to.
That's it! The first 30! So submit your idea now, before Halloween is over! (I really, really hope you can come up with 30 items between the lot of you, or I'll be shamed forever.)
**UPDATED**We're there! Thank you; I have the very best readers in all of Planet Blog.
If you read the post just below this one, you'll remember that I spent most of my spare time Senior year with a certain Paul: swimmer, water polo player, co-AP-class-taker. Despite the fact that we had tons in common, our relationship really was like two worlds colliding. Picture a Venn diagram where the two circles barely touch: that was us.
Paul was a jock from the side of town that had trees (in California's Central Valley, that means you are from a well-established neighborhood). His mother was the golf pro at the local country club. He grew up in our cowtown, and so knew 'everybody.' It didn't hurt that his grandfather had founded a world-famous non-profit corporation that was based in our town and employed a ton of folks.
I, on the other hand, lived on downtrodden Main Street right next door to a mortuary. My mom worked long, hard hours trying to support my siblings and me. We'd moved to town right before my Junior year, so I was an interloper on long-established circles of friends. I had very short, multi-colored hair; Paul's friends preferred hanging out with people who had that chlorine-platinum thing going on.
My few friends liked Paul, but they were way too busy to pay much attention to him. Adele, Traci, Janice, and I were the entire yearbook staff that year; our advisor had quit, and in the vacuum, we four co-editors ran the show. In the days before computer layouts, we spent tons of unsupervised time with those big, blue-lined sheets putting together a yearbook for a high school of 2,000 students. We took almost all of the candid shots (many we staged), developed them ourselves in the darkroom, and wrote every bit of the copy. I don't know how we had keys to that yearbook room, or how the school let us do all this on our own, but we did, and we pulled many an all-nighter making those publication deadlines all by our teenaged selves.
So I was either working on the yearbook or hanging out with Paul all year long. Paul and I talked about books, Carl Sagan, and music. I'd sit next to him while he played Bach's Two-Part Inventions on his mother's little spinet piano. He taught me how to drive, first in a golf cart, and then in his ancient station wagon. We golfed straight through the winter (he could play for free). We watched the entire eight hours of the BBC's production of Nicholas Nickleby with Roger Rees on PBS, completely riveted. Paul was the best.
Prom time came around; though outwardly a rebel, I was enough of a romantic to know that I had to get to Prom at least once in my life. I searched high and low for an atypical dress that I could afford, not wanting any pastel taffeta or satin touching my person. I finally found a Grecian-style white dress with a cool beaded clasp at the shoulder--very different, and very flattering. I put it on layaway. A few housecleanings and babysitting jobs later, it was mine.
Paul had no money to rent evening clothes. He was too busy with sports to have a job, and his parents weren't the type to hand out cash to him, like, ever. So he ended up wearing his only suit: a horrible denim-colored polyester number with Western detailing. But he was handsome and hilarious; I didn't mind.
Limo? Oh, no. But we didn't have to go in Paul's station wagon, with the vinyl seats so weathered they had petrified and cracked, exposing yellowed, crumbling foam. No, for Prom, Paul's mom graciously loaned him her K-Car--a nice, Reliant automobile, with burgundy velour interior. We were stylin,' folks.
Paul did scrounge up money for a gorgeous corsage: gardenias, my favorite flower in all the world. They looked perfect with my long, white dress.
May in the San Joaquin valley is about the worst time and place for someone with allergy-triggered asthma. I woke up Prom morning barely able to breathe. The jasmine was blooming enthusiastically, as if Spring had conspired to murder me. My mother took me to the doctor and to the chiropractor, but neither helped much. I fainted while Mom was curling my hair, but there was no way I was missing out on my big night.
I don't remember whether we went out to dinner. I do know we weren't planning on doing anything with groups; Traci went to Prom with this hot, long-haired guy we barely knew from the stoner crowd; Janice and Adele were boycotting Prom (probably becaused no one had asked them out). The swim crowd barely tolerated me, and truthfully? I was happy to have Paul all to myself.
We got to the dance, stood in line for photos, and danced a few slow dances. At that point, I'd had enough. I was exhausted from trying to breathe; I asked Paul to take me home. On the K-Car's radio on the way, we heard the new single by our favorite band for the very first time: "Every Breath You Take," by The Police. High irony, people.
I must have fainted again; the next thing I knew, I was in the ER. Apparently Paul had run into my house and right into my mom's room, scared her awake, and then sped to the hospital with me unconscious all the way.
The doctor gave me a shot of adrenaline, and almost immediately, I had blessed relief. Anyone who has never had asthma has no idea what it feels like to suffocate slowly no matter how hard you try to get air into your lungs. Gorgeous, perfect air: there's nothing better.
An extremely kind, huge male nurse took the very best care of me. My mom and I still call him 'The Gentle Giant.' He pinned my gardenia corsage to my hospital gown and got me fresh hot blankets straight out of the autoclave: bliss. I spent the rest of the night in a curtained-off area, Mom on one side of the hospital bed, Paul holding my hand on the other.
I haven't had an asthma attack since; I have no idea why. My asthma pretty much disappeared after that night.
Paul and I dated the whole summer after graduation, but then we broke up when he went off to UC Berkeley. It broke my heart, but he was excited to explore college life to the fullest extent allowed by law, and we both knew a long-distance relationship wouldn't work. We stayed in contact for a year or two, but after I moved to Utah to go to BYU, we lost touch entirely.
Patrick and I saw Paul a few years ago at my 20-year high school reunion. The three of us went to breakfast together. The two men were like Ps in a pod (pun very much intended); they got along great.
Paul has never been married; he's never even dated someone for as long as we went out (almost exactly a year). I asked him why over breakfast; he's handsome, in great shape, smart, employed, etc. It seemed to me he'd have women crawling all over him. He laughed and said he always ends up correcting his dates' grammar, something that's always a romance killer. Patrick said wryly, "Clearly that was never a problem with Luisa." Poor Paul: I hope he finds his own Grammar Fascista someday.
I had never been particularly athletic myself (outside of dance), so I learned much from Paul about training for competitive sports. One concept he introduced to me was that of tapering down.
When preparing for a big competition, athletes will train intensively for a period of time, then follow a very light regime in the days or weeks immediately preceding the event. This allows the body to recover fully from the hard training it has done, ensuring that it will be capable of peak performance during the competition.
"Why the nostalgic lecture?" I hear you ask in a gentle yet quizzical tone. I answer: merely to explain my recent bloggy reticence. I'm training for both NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, demanding events that occur simultaneously during the month of November. I have to gather my strength and summon my creative (eagle) powers; Heaven knows, I need to conserve what little I have in both respects.
It is because I am tapering down that I have lately chosen not to inflict upon you posts on such scintillating topics as:
1) The fact that the three black hairs growing from my chin have become my own personal hydra;
2) How amazingly neat and clean our basement is after my tornadic frenzy last weekend;
3) What a better yarn Malabrigo is than Manos del Uruguay;
4) Hilarious things Daniel has said in days past (one tidbit "Red Zeppelin");
5) The success of our story basket in the den;
6) The manner in which my novel-in-eternal-progress, ZF-360, is morphing yet again;
7) My consternation over the as-yet-unripe African jelly melons in a large basket in our kitchen;
8) The current dearth of appealing movies at our local theaters;
9) How excited I am that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize; and
10) My rant about the evil ninja deer and the havoc they are wreaking in our yard.
See? Don't you feel better about how quiet it's been around here? Brace yourselves; November is right around the corner.
And to answer the question of a cre8buzzer who asked whether we'll be celebrating Novembrance (i.e. me) all month long once Halloween is over:
Yes. Absolutely. Bring on the party, my friends.
Until then, I must focus on my training. Yeah, yeah; that's the ticket.
I’ve been remembering our time together fondly, and I’m sorry we didn’t part on the best of terms…”
“Best of terms? Is that what you call it?” she muttered.
Knock me down with a feather
Widebrows wonder whether
Clever Trevor’s clever
Either have they got
Nor neither haven’t not
Got no right to make a clot
Out of Trevor
Why should I feel bad
About something I ain’t ‘ad
Such stupidness is mad
‘Cause nothing underfoot
Comes to nothing less to add…
“Ugh, make it stop,” Twee complained.
Ten Literary Characters I Would Totally Make Out With If I Were Single and They Were Real But I’m Not, Single I Mean, I Am Real, But I’m Also Happily Married and Want to Stay That Way So Maybe We Should Forget This
Some of her adoring fans, including yours truly, begged her to create it. She relented and promptly tagged us all to participate; the responses so far have been fabulous.
Patrick’s out of town for the next few days; what better way to console myself in his absence than to wax poetical over literary flames who have warmed my heart in the past? That—and a little Frigor, plus maybe another viewing of The Scarlet Pimpernel—and I’m almost fine. I’ll list my literary crushes in chronological order.
1. Will Scarlet was my first literary love (Ned Nickerson never really did it for me, and I probably would have had a crush on Almanzo if I hadn’t been distracted by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s fabulous descriptions of food). I have an ancient copy of Philip Schuyler Allen’s Robin Hood that I read over and over again when I was nine. I pictured myself as one of Maid Marian’s junior attendants, running around the woods and having archery competitions with the handsome, tempestuous Will.
* Hamlet didn't make the cut. Unless it's the Hamlet played by Ralph Fiennes on Broadway back in 1995. Get out of my way, Ophelia....
Hmm…this is harder than it sounds, since I’ve been writing this blog for about a year, regularly dispensing random information about me all the while. It seems I may have reached the bottom of the randomness barrel. Scraping, scraping….
1. I want to go on a trip to Antarctica for my 50th birthday. I’ve got a little over nine years to plan and save up for it. Hopefully it will still be there.
2. I don’t like candy corn.
3. Here’s how I rank the various James Bonds, best to worst: Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton. The first three really are neck and neck.
4. I think my leftover pasta sauce tastes great served over cottage cheese. In fact, that’s what I’m having for lunch today.
5. The first opera I ever saw was Puccini's La Fanciulla del West.
6. I love to snorkel. But I’m not sure I ever want to learn to scuba dive.
7. I’d rather be a forest than a street.
8. When I was in third grade, I was Carden School’s Spelling Bee Champion. The winning word was ‘lightening.’ The eighth grader who came in second was unaware that ‘lightning’ has a homophone. It’s all about the usage.
I do a lot of things for myself, but writing isn't one of them. Sure: when I'm daydreaming about a new story idea, playing around with it in my head is good, self-indulgent fun. But translating the dream into just the right words is WORK. Even when it's really flowing and at its most joyous, it's work to write. So why bother? I'm a busy wife, mother, churchgoer, housekeeper, and gardener. I have a lot of things competing for my time and energy. Why add more work to my list?
Why? Because I write for other people. Really: what's the point of telling a story unless someone is listening? I always have an imagined audience in my head when I'm writing. It's usually made up of close friends who love me and my ideas. But even this virtual congregation isn't enough, because I want reactions, preferably as soon as possible.
In other words, I want feedback. Deep down, I think we all do; I believe that's why we write, knit, paint, bake, and blog. We crave validation from those around us, reassurance that what we've created is worthwhile. Recognizing this truth, I coined the term 'feedcrack.'
Feedcrack may be addictive, but it gets the job done. It has kept writing high on the priority list lately, and I've made huge progress in a very short amount of time. So I'll be tanking up on feedcrack for the foreseeable future. I just hope no one cuts off my supply.
I've found a terrific fountain of feedcrack in a social networking website called cre8Buzz. When Brillig invited me to join, I thought it sounded like a great idea. I joined the site to get more exposure for my writing, and I've been thrilled that that has been the case. I've found a wonderful, warm community of writers who have been very receptive to me and to my writing. I've gotten solid constructive criticism and voluble appreciation on a project that had previously been languishing on my furthest-back burner. I'm not sure how else my work would have so quickly and efficiently reached readers who live in Finland, Sweden, western Canada, Britain, and Minneapolis.
After looking over my shoulder, James dubbed cre8Buzz "Facebook for grownups." and I agree with his assessment in the best possible sense. The happy surprise about cre8Buzz is how many nice, interesting, funny people--both inside and outside the writers' community--I've encountered there. It's not spammy or puerile. Everyone is kind and supportive. It's well organized and easy to navigate. Traffic to this blog has soared lately; it's been great.
Cre8Buzz has been in beta since the beginning of August, but it goes public tomorrow. In the next little while, membership to the site will be by invitation only (let me know if you want one; I'll happily send one your way), but everyone in the ethersphere will now be able to view the Buzz's content. We beta-testers are excited to welcome in the world. Drop by and see what you think!
I love pie. Once upon a time, I worked at Marie Callender's. This was fabulous, because at the end of the night, the staff could take any leftover pies home. I enjoyed nearly all the pies they made there, from the ever-popular Sour Cream Lemon to the obscure Gooseberry.
As good as Marie's pies were, I've always preferred homemade. In summer, I love Banana Cream Pie. My mom used to make it all the time: her flaky crust, luscious vanilla cream custard, topped with fresh bananas and whipped cream was a winner. Recently I made a Chocolate Cream Pie from a recipe I got from the ever-reliable Cook's Illustrated. It was perfection: a tender yet crispy chocolate cookie crust filled with the most heavenly chocolate cream custard made from scratch, with whipped cream on top, of course. One grateful recipient of a slice said that the filling was as smooth as glass, and it was. Pure heaven.
As good as the cream pies are, it's the baked fruit pies that really work for me. I have a few specialties I whip up as Thanksgiving approaches. High-domed, deep-dish Apple Pie filled with tender slices of heirloom fruit. The rich yet mellow flavors of Pumpkin Pie made with pumpkin I've grown in my own garden. Mincemeat Pie: succulent, homemade filling finished with a woven lattice crust. Then there is my mother-in-law's outstanding Pecan Pie. Mmmm, pie...I have to watch myself, or I'll drift off into a Homer Simpsonesque reverie.
So imagine my delight the other day to discover that a friend of ours has just launched a website entirely dedicated to pie and its devotees. You've got to see it; Penelope's Pies is adorable and chock-full of good information.
I have a character who is experiencing paranormal events. She wants to confide in her best friend, but she knows she'll sound crazy. She needs help, though, and she's getting desperate.
What would you do if your best friend came to you with a crazy, supernatural story that s/he swears is true? This friend has always been utterly trustworthy and normal in the past; you've never had even the slightest reason to doubt her/his word. But s/he has absolutely no proof; in fact, when s/he tries to show you evidence, s/he fails pretty miserably and gets very upset and even more insistent about her/his story.
I know I'm being cryptic, so don't even try and guess what I'm trying to do. Please just give me your best prediction of what you'd do in this character's situation. Thanks in advance! I'm confident that you'll help me get through this muddle.