Monday, November 24, 2008

There was once this little baby -- juicy and yummy -- that came to me one morning on November 20th, 2003. We named him

Desmond Paul Jones.
He also goes by Des, Desi, Mr. D, Jonesboy, and Truly Scrumptious.

He was such a baby then, more baby than boy. Just baby – littlelittlelittleinfant. Our first. OH! How the love swirled, family all around us, rejoicing in this newperson. OUR BABY.

This blue-eyed, smile-lover has been with all of us for 5years now. Such a celebration. DPJ coaxed me for months on how he wanted it all to shake down. “Surprise me mom, when I wake up, go and hide and then jump out happy with a box!”

Oh, this boy, this boy. We took him to Pavlodar for a couple of days, stayed in a hotel with a nice hot shower (shower!), ate pizza and Turkish food, went and saw High School Musical 3 (songs and everything in Russian!), took him to a toy store where he picked out a Power Ranger Dinosaur Robot Guy (!?) and really had a fantastic time together. I love my family.

Waking up to a BIRTHDAY display -- a happy ballon ensemble
(Thank you suprise box from NYC friends! Those are your ballons&coloredpaper&Sharpiemarkers!)
with chocolate chip muffincake
(Thankyou Wellings à la Wikles!)

Going a bit crazy with the chocolate -- I also added cut up bits of dried apricots. YUM!

Early morning arrival in Pavlodar -- waiting at the frigid the bus station.

The pizza has arrived! It was sooooo good! (whew)

Our first and consistent friend Rosa, who now lives in Pav, joined us for dinner. It was perfect and they even had Howl’s Moving Castle playing on the nearby television. We felt right at home.


Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Simkins for the soon to be opened BIRTHDAY BOX (it’s arrived and waiting for us in Astana – we’ll be there on Thursday!)

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Jones for the BIRTHDAY CARD and all the loving emails. We smiled and smiled and smiled . . .


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Once in a blue moon . . . don’t pinch me yet

I have been in a gluttony over post-election media reading. Such soaring, edifying, hopeful analysis. One doesn’t get that very often from the newsy outlets and I’m a girl who loves to find shared, optimistic, happy ideologies in people. I love good news. (Later, later, I will divert reading to the Congo again and mourn for the rest of the world’s people.)

The New York Times published this piece:
Among Young Muslims, Mixed Emotions on Obama
Published: November 6, 2008

About a group of students who met recently at NYU to speak of the conflict they felt in supporting Obama because they were Muslim. They wanted to wear the buttons, work for the campaign but wondered if their head scarves or Arabic sounding names would harm the movement and cause spin that would be hurtful to them and the candidate they supported.

We live in a country that has struggled for nearly a decade to delineate and disassociate the ideologies between Islam and terrorism. The students mentioned Colin Powell and what a hero he was when . . .

Answering a question about the candidate’s faith, Mr. Powell said: “Well, the correct answer is [Obama] is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?”

I appreciate how Colin Powell turned that question around – what are you implying by making this a talking topic? Is there something wrong with allowing freedom of worship in this country? Do you fear a person’s faith if it is not your own? (Romney went through a lot of this too. A lot.)

Another paragraph, at the end of the NYTimes article, yields the following:

Mr. McCain’s only supporter in the room, Jameel Merali, a junior studying
hospitality management, said Mr. Obama’s victory was a wonderful thing, though
he still had reservations about his view of economics.

After explaining his understanding of Mr. Obama’s view, and contrasting it with his own [ . . .] Mr. Merali concluded that all in all the system of checks and balances would protect the nation against any intemperate economic decisions the next president might consider.

“That’s the beauty of it,” said Mr. Merali, who was born in Tanzania. “The way it was all set up by our founding fathers.”

Did you catch that? He said OUR founding fathers! We are strangers no more.
(He feels absorbed, he feels represented in this country. This gave me the chills!)

Isn’t it so powerful that one man, one leader, can symbolize so much? And cause such elation across the globe Obama has many things yet address that will likely bring more substance to people – you know, policies and stuff – but right now I feel he’s managed to accomplish something policy makers can hardly aspire to, just by being himself. The margins and the center of the population are standing shoulder to shoulder, we are assessing our future with hope, we are jointly proud of what has been accomplished by this act of democracy. We are eager and empowered to work together to enhance life together.

I know some of my readers may not agree with my sentiments and perhaps I should qualify all my euphoric remarks with caveats and conditions on performance. But I feel like riding this moment. THIS EXACT MOMENT IN TIME. It feels good and it feels potent.

Sometimes I feel very simple. Sometimes the transcendent element I celebrate, after reason has been engaged, is when people find a way to mutually respect each other, regardless of their point of view. Obama said in Chicago, at his
acceptance speech:

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends -- though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too.

So, this is it – the simplicity I spoke about inmylittleself: I respond to love and I respond to others who feel it toward each other. I love LOVE. And this is why, at this moment in time, I am celebrating the spirit of union in ourcountry and love/hope/faith for a man who will be our president and what that means for us and for those we interact with in the world. They might love us a little better right now too. That’s good, real good.


Let's sing . . .

We share the same biology // Regardless of ideology // How can I save my little boy // From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy // There is no monopoly on common sense // On either side of the political fence // Believe me when I say to you // I hope the Russians love their children too.

What might save us me and you // Is if the Russians love their children too.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pardon Me Poetry


My thighs rise like bloated
wheat kernels and
I am unsteady.

What seems like a
ready reference skill
eludes my eye/movement

Those mutts still have
their chance at my heels;
but the call to prayer
rings clearer as I
arch forward.

My breath pulls out
in great puffs.
The front tire sandwiches
thin against the patchy
pavement -- more dust
than tar.

This multi-decade body
shuffles through itself,
chronicling my blithely
earned and carelessly
underused life-functions.

To move is to
access self; my
blood pumps unforgettable
rhythms -- and I listen.

Random beautiful

I have this friend in NYC, she works at this swanky bakery on the upperwest side. She speaks French and she LOVES literature. I like that about her.

Her name is Meredith. Isn't that such a lovely name? I love how saying it uses my whole mouth – all these exquisite sounds.

Anyway, the reason I'm posting about her (hope it's ok, Mere) is because I received an email from her this week telling me that she's received a job offer outside of the city and she's decided to take it.
Here's the random beautiful math:

a single white female
who is mormon
takes new job in a bakery
in Beirut, Lebanon

are you gasping for air yet –


She's going to move there to work in a cupcake bakery.

Isn't that the random-est, cool-est, beautiful-est thing you've ever heard? [She nearly trumps Obama.]

Hat's off to you Cherie!
Vive Beirut!

Friday, November 07, 2008

When a girl grows up

My grandma recently turned 100 years old. Can you believe it? o-n-e-h-u-n-d-r-e-d! 10x10. Maybe you know people that experienced but it’s always seemed to me like such a rare gift. My grandmother, Grace Bishop Simkins, is our family’s singular gift. I love great matrons. Grandma Grace is the epitome of vivacity in mind and body and will and temperament.

You see, my grandma has this laugh, this delicious laugh. Someone once described mylaugh as needing a chair of its own (I’m paraphrasing without the author’s eloquence) but it made me think of my grandma’s laugh; it tickles and rebounds through the space of a room and ones heart with such joypower. Happy, enlightened, life-living power that just won’t sit still – it RICOCHETS!

My super-duper cousins compiled some of my grandma’s writings into a memoir and titled the collection, “Living with Grace”. Such a lovely double meaning.

We all adore her – wouldn’t it be a comfort to know that later in life you will eventually be adored, revered and celebrated?

Lets all live for it!!
Not just for self-serving purposes.

Here’s an important crux to happy family units:

Because of who Grace Bishop Simkins IS, we are closer to each other -- we all want very much to be in her presence, to care for her, to LOVE her. She is that awesome. She is that powerful. We then discover each other and our common link and how much she is reflected in each of us. I love you because I love her. Love works that way sometimes.

Grandma, I hope you know that we/I feel this way about you. I salute you and all that you’ve lived and struggled and found joy in. I hope that one day I’ll know more about your life and that it will inform me in ways that will be a credit to you. I like that old saying, to be a “credit” to somebody.

I love you myfamily and I wish I was there celebrating with you.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This is SO exciting!

Following the election countdown over the last few hours here in KZ-a-stan has been surreal and super thrilling!!

And I am so excited for our country -- I am about to cry. I love you mycountry and I love our new president-elect and his little family and I pray so hard to our FATHER IN HEAVEN that Mr. Barack Obama will be blessed with goodness and inspiration and meekness and strength and love and compassion and intelligence and temperance and everything that is good.

I love you mycountry, mypeople.
I believe in your goodness.

Thank you -- peace out.

p.s. Dad, it's going to be ok. Trust me.

....and thanks to for such great homepage election coverage!

Monday, November 03, 2008

All because of a boy . . .

How long ago was it? Over 200 years ago? Seeking knowledge has such resounding affects on people, on futures.

I’m thinking of Joseph Smith.

It all seemed so impossibly wonderful that weekend in October, when we were in Astana (capital city of Kazakhstan) sitting in the cozy living room of LeRoy and Anne Welling. They are people we’ve only met one other time, in September, and here we were being retrieved from the train station, sleeping on their floor, sharing their food, using Skype on their uber-sweet computer with flashlightening speed and feeling LOVED.


We transformed the living room Sunday morning, dressed ourselves as nice as we could (shoeless!) and settled down with Jhanna, who is from Mongolia and the only other member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Astana. We took the sacrament together, we talked of the sacrament, we heard Jhanna’s testimony and challenges, we sang, we prayed and all was translated into Russian for Jhanna. We also read the scriptures and talked about righteous leadership and what can happen when we allow God to influence us. And what happens when we don’t. Read the Book of Mormon, it’s all there. I love the Book of Mormon.

So impossibly wonderful.

But it was possible and all because a boy of 14 decided to pray to a God who would surely answer his prayer.

If you're in need of some recreational listening, click over to the following academic conference the Library of Congress held a few years ago, titled "The Worlds of Joseph Smith". If you click over and feel overwhelmed start with Bushman's address (session 1) or Given's (session 2). A word on Givens: the guy is so unbelievably eloquent -- it makes me weak in the knees.