Friday, November 17, 2017


 Have you ever had an encounter with someone who just makes your day because of a smile? Because she can tell you're in a hurry and lets you go ahead of her in line? Because your arms are full and he opens the door for you? A seemingly small act of kindness can make our day. 

Dana Haight Cattani talks about discovering geodes when she and her family moved to the Midwest. Her son’s friend showed her a geode and said, “See the crystals?”

“Sure enough. The rough, dull-colored rock had been split, perhaps by the freeze-thaw cycle of too many Midwest winters, and in the hollow were beautiful crystal formations. Before coming to Indiana, I had never seen anything quite like it. It was a hidden treasure, and it was right in my backyard.” 

Then she talks about the geodes, the hidden treasures, she finds in the people in her new town. 

At the post office -  “An older gentleman with a dapper white moustache often waits on me there. One morning as he weighed my packages, he said, “I’m in a good mood; I have meatloaf for lunch today.” I smiled and said something affirming. He took this as encouragement and said, “I love meatloaf. My wife doesn’t like it, so she makes it just for me. And the next day, I get the leftovers for lunch.” From that moment, he was endeared to me as one who appreciates small pleasures—like cold meatloaf—and the bigger ones, like a wife who cooks for him and sometimes fills his wishes at the expense of her own. …I let other people go ahead of me in line just so I can go to his window. When I hand him the money I owe, I feel I have brushed against deep contentment, and I carry some of that gold dust away on my fingertips.”

Isn't it wonderful when we meet someone and can feel her "deep contentment?" The "gold dust" from such experiences brightens our whole beings. 

Catani's son’s sixth-grade class did a physics activity that involved designing a container that would cushion a raw egg when it was dropped from the top of a fire truck, seven stories high. Paul was the firefighter dropping the cushioned eggs.  Paul carefully made “certain the all-important parachute deployed.” Paul also coached her son’s baseball team. “He is a human geode, ordinary in every way but one: his core is full of hidden treasure, unexpected and without price. I always cheer loudly for his son at baseball games.”

Cattani then talks about the Lord touching us in a way that encourages us to reach out and serve others, thereby showing the crystals, the divine sparkle, hiding beneath our ordinary looking exteriors. 

Hidden Treasures, by Dana Haight Cattani; Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 43, no. 3 (Fall 2010); p 221-226

*free image from pixabay

Thursday, November 16, 2017


70 years after this photo I still seek out piles of leaves (dry ones) 
to walk through. I love the feel and the sound.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day

Joe - Navy

Dad  - Navy - World War II
Caryl Holton & Harry Floyd - World War I


 Civil War - Notes About Our Family & the Civil War

Leonard Caryl Holton, born 1812, would have been too old (grandfather of Caryl Holton)

Alson Landus Ames, born 1818 – We have a letter from his wife Urania in which she states he was going to Rockford, Illinois to tell the military he was too old to serve. As far as I know he didn’t join. (grandfather of Caryl Holton)

John Marshall Cathcart, born 1842 in Ireland. Came to USA in 1860 and settled in central Illinois. I’ve never seen any mention of military service for him. (grandfather of Celia Cathcart Holton)

James Silas Sconce, born 1831. Lived in central Illinois. I’ve never seen any mention of military service for him. It would seem he might be the right age to serve unless someone in his 30s was considered old. (grandfather of Celia Cathcart Holton)

John Bowman, born 1831 in Germany – husband of Jane Judd & father of Idah Alice Bowman Browne, Mary Floyd Holton’s grandmother - served in Civil War, from Michigan

Edmond Floyd, born 1848; Maine (Harry Floyd's father). I don't think he was in the Civil War. His brother Henry was. 

Henry Floyd, born 1842, Maine. Served in Civil War. This is Harry Floyd’s uncle. Henry Floyd was reported missing in action and presumed killed. His body was never found. His mother received a pension based on his death.

William Browne, born 1827. Don't know if he was in Civil War, from Michigan (Mary Floyd Holton's great-grandfather)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Flowers & Forget Not

Dieter Uchtdorf used the five petaled forget-me-not flower to illustrate five things we "would be wise never to forget." 

Forget Not
1- to be patient with yourself
2- the difference between a foolish sacrifice & a wise sacrifice
3-to be happy now
4-the why of the gospel
5-that the Lord loves you

Be patient with yourself -  "Our journey toward perfection is long, but we can find wonder and delight in even the tiniest steps in that journey."

Foolish sacrifice vs wise sacrifice - "Dedicating some of our time to studying the scriptures or preparing to teach a lesson is a good sacrifice. Spending many hours stitching the title of the lesson into homemade pot holders for each member of your class perhaps may not be." Because of this example, I sometimes ask myself if a time-consuming task is embroidering pot holders. 

Be happy now - "... if we spend our days waiting for fabulous roses, we could miss the beauty and wonder of the tiny forget-me-nots that are all around us." 

Why of the gospel - "While understanding the “what” and the “how” of the gospel is necessary, the eternal fire and majesty of the gospel springs from the “why.” When we understand why our Heavenly Father has given us this pattern for living, when we remember why we committed to making it a foundational part of our lives, the gospel ceases to become a burden and, instead, becomes a joy and a delight. It becomes precious and sweet."

The Lord loves you - "... wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love. ... He who created and knows the stars knows you and your name—you are the daughters of His kingdom."
Read or hear the entire talk here

image - forget-me-nots from our North Street garden
Stories about the origin of the name forget-me-not are herehere, and here 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Children's Spaces

“Given half a chance, children create their own nooks in the leftover places of the adult map.” Alastair Bonnett talks of children making “dens.” “The meaning of each place was entirely at our disposal and was constantly being transformed to fit with our changing fantasies.” “Den-making is a particular kind of play, not with dolls or toy guns but with place. It’s a form of play that is particularly private and vulnerable.  Any adult or teenage presence can destroy it at once: a looming face would reduce Paul’s and my dens to a dull clutter of sticks.” Alastair Bonnett in Unruly Places

This brought back memories of "den-making" in my childhood.

~There were forsythia bushes in one corner of our backyard. We liked to play there in all the "rooms." It never occurred to us that we were probably totally visible to Mom and her friends who were sitting at the kitchen table and looking out periodically to check on all the children.

~Margaret Farrar, later Reynolds, lived behind the vacant lot next to our house. I have a vivid memory of raking leaves there and making leaf houses, very elaborate (to us) with "walls" for rooms and openings for doorways. Were we supposed to be raking her yard or did we go there because she had the most leaves in the neighborhood? 

ca 1955 Susan at creek on Madison Road
~We spent a lot of time at the creek of Madison Road. We thought it was our own little world - and it was. We spent hours and hours at a time playing in the water, swinging on a rope swing, catching tadpoles, walking on top of the REALLY HIGH bridge on Chrisman Avenue (somehow it totally shrunk in later years). The only time we saw adults was when MaryF was with us. Her mother was "always" with her. We figured it was because her parents were older and she was an only child. As in the quote above, the magic was "destroyed" by the presence of an adult. It became an ordinary creek when Mary's mother was there. Interestingly we didn't play much, that I remember, at the creek on Oak Street. We went over to Madison Road probably because it was a bit further from home.

~One wonderful "den memory" - I think Betty was with me. We got a huge pile of books from the library and took them to this little "island" in the creek to read. My memory is that the island was covered with tall, thick, vibrantly green grass - a perfect place to read.
Dad was a great accomplice in den-making. He made us several teepees over the years. The lean-to appears in quite a few backyard pictures. It was turned into a stable for a Christmas card picture. 

Dad made this teepee in 1952 - Julia, Tom & Susan

1958 - Susan, Julia & Tom with teepee & lean-to

1955 - the fort - Susan, ?, Tom, Jan & Billy

The Texas Tower is in the back right of this picture. Dad modeled it after an oil rig platform. Our tower had a ladder and cargo net that could be pulled up, thus controlling access to the "high" platform. Photo 1958 Julia & Susan

Then there was the "deep forest" in our yard at North Street. Our grandson named this when he was about three. To his young eyes I'm sure the two pine trees with their low branches made a perfect hiding place, his own den. Little did he know that we could see into his little world from the house.


Den-making - fun childhood memories

Friday, November 3, 2017

Book - Worth the Wrestle

Why can’t I seem to conquer weaknesses that plague me?” “How do I know if I’m receiving revelation?” “Will the Lord forgive me after what I’ve done?” ...

Those are just a handful of the countless questions Sheri Dew has heard people ask over the years. “May I answer these questions,” she writes, “and any questions you may have, by posing a different question: Are you willing to engage in the wrestle? In an ongoing spiritual wrestle?” 

In Worth the Wrestle, Sheri examines the process of asking good questions—whether those questions be doctrinal, procedural, historical, or intensely personal—and learning how to get answers.  (book jacket)

"Asking inspired questions leads to knowledge. It leads to revelation. It leads to greater faith. And it leads to peace.” 

I don't know how many of my questions are "inspired," but I have asked many questions over the years. Sometimes I've received revaluation. Often I gain peace and greater faith even when the questions aren't answered right away.  

“… we can either live our lives alone, relying largely upon our own strengths, or we can live them with the help of heaven. How much help we receive from Above is largely up to us.” 

My experience is that life is much more doable when we call on God for help and then accept the help that is given. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dad & Try God

When Dad was in the hospital with pneumonia, he mentioned this "Try God" pin. In retrospect it was an interesting conversation because we thought the surgery would be successful and he'd return home. Nevertheless, during those few days at the hospital, Dad sometimes said things that made me think he knew death was near. 

Dad told me I'd find a "Try God" pin among his belongings and people might wonder about it. 

In an email to my siblings just a week after Dad's death I wrote: 

"Dad saw an ad in the New York Times selling lapel pins that said "Try God". This was a money raising event for a home* for "wayward" women. Dad contributed and continued to do so for many years."

Dad commented that more people should "Try God" to help with challenges in their lives. 

June 2003 just a few months 
before his death

more here