Friday, January 30, 2009

Last Chance

Tomorrow, January 31st is the last day to enter to win a free signed copy of High Country. I will announce the winner on Monday.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Memory is a funny thing. It can bring us remorse or sadness, but it can also allow us a delightful second chance to enjoy good times once again. A recent visit with a cousin I hadn’t seen since she was a small child and I was a teenager brought a rush of long ago memories to the forefront of my mind, not the big important things, but some of those small moments that have somehow stuck in my mind. She remembers sitting on my lap and being comforted over some small mishap. I remember an afternoon at the Idaho Falls zoo with her mother frantically trying to keep her from putting her fingers in her mouth. I remember her big eyes and long blonde curls. She said she remembered me being kind and pretty. I think she might have confused me with one of my sisters. We reminisced about family reunions, horseback riding at my family’s farm, eating salmon steaks and drinking cokes at her family’s city house. Long after we parted I continued to think of the small moments that make up a life. There are the big momentous occasions, but it is the smaller half-forgotten ones that bring unexpected bursts of warmth to our hearts and a smile to our lips.

My younger brother and I were playing in our playhouse, an old car without wheels or a motor, when I did something, I honestly don’t remember what, that brought an “I’m going to tell Mama” from him. He took off running for the house and after a moment I began running too. I was a firm believer in the school of thought that proclaims a little girl’s conscience is that instinct which propels her to tell her mother before her little brother gets a chance. He had a head start and I tripped, slowing me down. I arrived at the kitchen door just in time to see my brother skid across the wet floor my mother was mopping and plop down rear first in her mop bucket. Whatever I did, it was worth it.

My dad taught me to drive when I was about five or six. He stuck me in the cab of his truck, wired blocks of wood to the gas pedal and brake so I could reach them, then while I was sitting on the very edge of the seat and looking down a long length of field between rows of potato sacks he told me to line up the little light on the front bumper with the potato sacks and just aim like it was a rifle sight. It worked. He and a neighbor bucked the heavy sacks on the truck as I steered the slowly crawling truck the length of the field. At the end of each row, he jumped inside the cab, turned the truck, and I began aiming down another row. I was pretty proud of myself at the time and felt so grown up. I doubt today’s drivers’ education teachers would approve.

Remember your first prom? I remember mine, but not for the reasons other girls might. I was head-over-heels in love with a guy a few years older than me and he asked me to the prom well ahead of the big dance. I had a gorgeous dress, borrowed from my brother-in-law’s sister in another town. The big dance was all my girlfriends and I could talk about. The day before the prom I came down with the mumps. The night of my big date my escort appeared at my door anyway and presented me with flowers. He assured me he’d had mumps when he was a little boy and wasn’t concerned about being infected by being around me. I vowed that night that whoever I married (whether it was him or someone else) he would have to be as kind and thoughtful as that young man was. (I didn’t marry him, but he did set a standard by which I measured every guy I dated after him.)

I once received a prestigious national journalism award. My publisher flew me to San Antonio to collect the award in person. At the banquet where the awards were to be given, I felt a little intimidated to be surrounded by people whose bylines I’d read in the big papers and faces I’d seen on television. When my name was announced I walked to the dais on legs that felt like rubber. The person presenting the award made a little speech, then paused, before making an announcement that went something like this, “Along with Ms. Hansen’s award the governor of her state, Scott Matheson, has sent her a congratulatory telegram expressing his congratulations and their state’s pride in her achievement.” For him it was likely a moment’s thoughtfulness, for me it made one of those sweet icing-on-the-cake memories I’ll treasure always.

A few years ago I taught a family history class. It wasn’t the names and dates sort of genealogy class, but one where I was teaching the participants to write their personal histories, or in other words, tell their stories. At one point I asked everyone to think of some small event that happened much earlier in their lives and write about it. It wasn’t to be a big thing like a birthday, baptism, or something like that, just some small memory that had stuck in their heads. It was fun to read the brief essays, usually just a paragraph or two, and see how many times the person writing suddenly discovered some personal meaning in the incident. I believe it is the small incidents that woven together, mark whether a life is rich and full, and provides the memories that carry us through the difficult times. I’d like to pass on the challenge I gave to my class members to all who read this blog. What are some of the small incidents that somehow enriched your life or provided a chuckle years later?

Saturday, January 24, 2009


There's something sneaky about fog. It swirls on silent paws through the trees and around the eaves, making islands of every house. Having a touch of claustrophobia, it makes me edgy and fills me with a sense of being caged, boxed in, isolated from the world. Some of my scariest experiences have involved driving in the fog. Oddly enough one of the most beautiful sights is also caused by fog; the deep frost that covers every tree branch turning a woodland into a fairyland when the fog freezes. Fog has hovered over our valley for almost a week and at the lower elevations, it is as much smog as fog. I've stayed inside most of the time, not giving it a chance to stir up an asthma attack, but I miss our usual spectacular view of the valley. Only sometimes can I see the birds clustered around our feeders in our backyard. Not even the rain seems to lessen the swirling white. Perhaps the approaching snow storm will send it on its way.

There's one more week to enter a drawing for my new book, High Country. Details are two posts down from this one.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


In everyone’s lives come those moments when they feel cheated. It’s an awful feeling, accompanied by a sense of helplessness and even some anger. Most of us got our first taste of this emotion as small children on the playground or at the hands of older siblings. Sometimes we feel cheated over small things and most of us quickly put the experience behind us with a word of self-warning to be more watchful and less gullible in the future. Sometimes we experience major betrayals and getting over them and even forgiving become difficult and seemingly impossible.

I haven’t faced the kind of heart-breaking betrayal some have, yet several incidents in my life which I suspect are much like those experiences others have faced, have left me quick to anger over injustices, misuse of power, and cheaters in general.

I fumed as a child when a sister cheated at board games, a brother cheated at cards, or when one of our family dogs, one with a definite attitude, would stand over the dog dish refusing the other dog or the cats even a taste of supper. But the incident that has stayed with me over the years was arriving as a fifth grader at a new school in the spring to find plans under way for a big marble tournament. I was good at playing marbles. With three competitive older brothers, I’d learned every tactic and nuance of the game. All of the students were advised to spend recesses practicing. By the day of the tournament I’d won every marble every fifth and sixth grade boy at the school owned. I was forced to return all of the marbles and banned from the tournament because I WAS A GIRL.

As a Junior in high school, I was called into the principal’s office and told by him that though an official announcement wouldn’t be made until a future assembly, he wanted me to know that I had been chosen for a particular highly coveted honor. I was thrilled and excited. The assembly came and another name was announced. Needless to say, I was stunned and hurt. Later I went to the principal and asked for an explanation. He said the chairman of the committee had found out that my family was moving at the end of the school year and it had been decided the honor should go to the runner up since she would be at that school the following year and I wouldn’t. There was no explanation for why I hadn’t been told before the assembly.

In the years since I’ve felt cheated over far more serious issues such as a car purchase, being passed over for promotions at work, working hard for a good political candidate and seeing him or her lose to a less qualified candidate because of carefully timed insults or lies. Over the years I’ve learned to take a more philosophical approach to finding myself the butt of some cheater’s manipulations. And I’ve certainly become less gullible, but a twinge of that old hurt and disappointment struck me yesterday. Not solely because I felt cheated, but because a gifted writer cheated him/herself.

I’m not going to mention the book or the author. Suffice it to say this book began and maintained through ninety percent of the book a rare gift for creating a story that is truly exceptional and real—a story that needs to be told. As a reviewer I am constantly reading and evaluating many, many books. I’m not easily impressed, but this book did impress me. Then near the end came a chapter with a scrambled point of view, perhaps even an omniscient intrusion of the author as a god who sees all. I winced. Then came the conclusion and I felt cheated. Suddenly this powerful book became another Dallas episode, another happy-ending-at-all-costs second rate formula romance, and an incredible story became just another novel. Some readers may consider the ending another ironic twist, but I think more will feel, like me, just plain cheated.

Those who comment on this post will be added to those who commented on my contest blog (see below). Yes, that means some of you will have your name in the hat twice. The winner will receive a signed copy of my new book High Country. It will be mailed free anywhere in the US. If anyone outside the continental US wins, I'm sorry to say, they'll have to pay the postage.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Spring Fever and a Free Book

It's exciting to have another new book out and so far the feedback I've gotten is pretty positive. I haven't done any book signings yet with this one--see the following paragraph; I'm waiting for spring. Perhaps it will still be new enough to do signings about conference and Easter time. Since I'm not doing signings right now, I think I'll sponsor a contest. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog anytime between now and the first of February. I'll recruit one of my grandchildren to draw a name from all those who comment and send the winner a copy of High Country.

I know it's nowhere near spring, but the sun is shining today and I feel very "done" with winter. I want to see crocuses peeking through the ground and the little pointy ears of tulips bravely thrusting their way upward. As a child, I loved winter, but now I worry about slipping on the ice (either my feet or tires); I don't like to be cold, and I'm really not into dingy, gray skies. To be honest, when the Christmas holidays end, my internal calendar always says enough with winter.

There's a great article on Meridian today concerning the new Draper Temple. Our home is located on a hill to the far western side of the Salt Lake Valley and we have been thrilled with the view of the new temple from our bedroom window this past week since the lights have been turned on highlighting it. We're also looking forward to the addition of the Oquirrh Mountain temple this coming summer, especially since we'll be in that new temple district. Since our home was built we've been able to look out and see the Jordan River Temple at night, but now we see two temples, and soon three. The Oquirrh Mountain temple stands out beautifully now in the day time, but isn't lit yet at night.
Again, leave a comment. When I announce the winner that person will need to contact me to give me a mailing address.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm happy to report, I not only lost the half pound I set as a goal, but I lost four pounds. Of course no one, but me can tell the difference, but it certainly does inspire me to try to lose another half pound this week.

My new book, High Country, is out now. I don't have my copies yet, but I'm anxiously awaiting their arrival.

It's my turn to stay later at the temple to cover the overlap time between our midday shift and the evening shift. That means we'll be a little more than an hour later getting home for the next two months and explains why this isn't much of a blog. Go to the the other blog I contribute to here to read my post there. That's a strange sentence and says a lot about how tired I am tonight. Not only did I work a long shift today, but I got a cortisone shot in my knee yesterday, which adds to my fatigue. Or maybe I just want an excuse to stop writing and go finish reading Sandra Grey's Tribunal. So far I'm finding it a fantastic read.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Off to a new year

As I've said before, I'm not much for New Year's resolutions, but there's something about a brand new year that seems to fill my heart with optimism for new and better things. On a personal level, this year looks good. All of my children and grandchildren are now back living in Utah which means more oportunities to do fun things together. I have two books set for release this year; one (High Country) is hitting the book stores this coming week and the other is slated for August. A friend who works in the Clinton Seagull Book Store let me know yesterday that High Country has already arrived at the Clinton store and that she helped unpack it. I'm enjoying serving in the Jordan River Temple and looking forward to the dedication of the Oquirrh Mountain temple, probably in June.

On a broader scale, the world looks a little scary with wars in the Middle East, political corruption, economic problems, activist antics, pseudo science, absence of moral values, and a general dismissal of the reality of God. There's never been a time when resolutions to be found in holy places have been more pertinent.

For more years than I care to admit to, I've vowed to lose X number of pounds. I'm not doing that anymore, I'm only going to set short term goals. I'm going to try to lose just half a pound this week. If that works I'll take on next week. The only long term goal I plan to make is to be more grateful for the good things in my life. As for the rest, and maybe in a twisted way this is a long term goal or new year's resolution, I'm going to make daily, weekly, or even monthly goals to improve myself, accomplish tasks, and serve where the Lord wants me to serve.