Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Cake Saver

We have a lot of fall birthdays, in fact, today is my husband's. Others were two of our daughters' and our two youngest grandsons. I even have one coming up soon. Since my husband is gluten intolerant, the only way he gets a birthday cake is for me to make it. It came out of the bundt pan beautifully and after it cooled I reached for a special cake plate to put it on. The children's cakes came in boxes and were beautifully decorated, but my husband's cake was decorated more simply since I'm not very artistic and as usual was running short on time, but as I looked at that stemmed cake plate with its protective dome, it took me back in time. A glass cake saver on a pedestal was something my mother always wanted. Her mother had one and Mama didn't know what happened to it after her mother died. Being only ten at the time, she'd had little say in what happened to her mother's belongings. She often spoke of how pretty a cake always looked on a proper cake plate. I don't know if I and my siblings were a little dense or if we just never happened to find one to give her. My father gave her a nice practical tin one and one of my sisters gave her a lovely plate on a pedestal but with no lid or dome.

I'm not sure when my mother's dream became mine, but for years, I too longed for a graceful cake saver, but it always seemed there were other things I needed more. They were also a little hard to find. One day while visiting my daughter, Mary Jo, on an Army base where her husband was stationed, I mentioned to her how my mother had wanted a cake plate like her mothers and that somehow I had developed the same longing. Sometime after I returned home my daughter and another sargeant's wife who had become her close friend were talking about their families and my daughter mentioned that she was thinking of looking for a cake plate for me for Christmas and why. Her friend said she wanted to find a CD her daughter wanted, one she listened to every time she was at Mary Jo's house. Knowing her friend wouldn't find the CD locally since it was the sound track for an LDS movie, Mary Jo called me and asked me to get one for her to surprise her friend. I did, and the next time I went to visit, I was the one to receive a surprise---a cake saver, just as I imagined my grandmother's must have looked. It wasn't a gift from my daughter, but from her friend.

That cake saver has become a kind of link to my mother and my grandmother, but also to my daughter, and to the friends who have enriched both my life and my daughter's. Pretty cakes in boxes are nice; I love them in fact, but I'm glad for the occasional excuse to place a cake on that plate and gently set the domed lid over it. The memories it invokes, in my mind anyway, make even my clumsy decorating efforts appear elegant.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book Signing in Bountiful

I know this is short notice and I apologize. I'll be signing my new books The Ruby and The Spirit of Christmas at the Bountiful Barnes and Noble tomorrow, October 24, between twelve and two. The address is 340 South 500 West in Bountiful. The signing is sponsored by the Davis Education Foundation to raise funds for education in Davis County. It's a big Book Fair with lots of authors. Please come if you can.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Three Things

This past week has been filled with so much rushing about and hurrying to get things done, but three things stand out. Thursday night I spoke at the Murray Library to a delightful group. They were fun and asked great questions. Along with signing my new release, The Ruby, it was my first opportunity to sign copies of The Spirit of Christmas which I co-wrote with Betsy Brannan Green and Michele Ashman Bell. You can find both books in bookstores now.

Friday was my youngest grandson's third birthday. Three is a wonderful age, so full of enthusiasm and energy. He's been playing "air" guitar for almost six months so we gave him a small guitar. Talk about enthusiasm! It was glued to his little fingers the rest of the evening and even sat beside his plate while he ate icecream and cake.

The third fun thing was Saturday morning when my three younger daughters and their husbands went to the temple to do a big stack of family sealings. My oldest daughter, my husband, and I volunteered to watch the seven youngest grandkids. We went to the park, played in our back yard, watched cartoons, and ate snacks; nothing unusual but it was so fun to watch the seven cousins (between 3 and 9) interact and enjoy each other.

I often think of President Hinckley's comment about life being a train ride with starts and stops, cinders and smoke in our eyes, derailments, rushing and waiting, with a few panoramic vista's thrown in here and there. It's those unexpected vistas that make life precious. I'm glad I had the opportunity to enjoy three of those vista's this past week. They do indeed make life precious.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The V-formation

This morning as I walked from my car to the temple I noticed tulip bulbs scattered across the flower beds and a woman was tossing pansy starts at random among the bulbs. I remembered that I have bulbs to plant tomorrow and that I set out my pansies last week. Just seeing all those bulbs filled me with anticipation for next spring. I stepped through the door and glanced back over my shoulder just as a large formation of geese flew over. For just a brief moment they were picture-postcard perfect framed just above the fountain and the vibrant fall flowers. For me the geese herald the end of summer and the beginning of true fall with winter coming closer.

I've always had a soft spot for geese. My mother had a small flock of geese when I was a child. I loved to watch them walk, their noisy honking, the way they rid the garden of grasshoppers and other such pests, the way they stayed together, and their soft downy color. The gander was another story, I was a bit afraid of old KC, who ruled his flock with dictatorial imperialism. I would rather tangle with a territorial cattle dog than old KC. My little brother once collected a frightening number of bruises from the old gander who pinched him mercilessly for straying too close. The new little goslings are as cute as baby chicks or ducks and slightly more adventurous.

Goose eggs are impressive with one big enough to make an omelet for two or maybe three. And in my early years Thanksgiving and Christmas meant roast goose rather than turkey. Our pillows were soft with goose down.

With all of this experience with geese, I suppose it's rather fitting that I should now find myself a member of a group of bloggers who call ourselves the V-formation. This group of writers chose the name because of our admiration for a flock of geese flying overhead. They form a broad V and take turns flying point. While the lead bird bucks the wind, the others flap their wings and honk encouragement. That's sort of the idea behind this group of writers. Sometimes one, then another, faces a serious plot problem, is caught up in the rush and push of deadlines, or is meeting multiple demands. Sometimes it's personal illness or problems that feel like strong headwinds. On those occasions the rest of us cheer the one flying point on. We also honk for each other's achievements, new books released, or a new grandchild. Consider this an invitation to visit our V-formation. Please leave comments, ask questions, and suggest topics you would like any of our panel to discuss.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I love conference weekends and I'm sorry to see this one end. The speakers always seem to know just what we need to hear. Except for the announcement of five new temples, nothing really new was said, but I was touched by the gentle reminder that we as a people believe in preparation; spiritual preperation, educational preparation, and financial preparation. There was no "haven't you been listening; we've been telling you for years to avoid unnecessary debt, dress modestly and respectfully, and live within your means." There was understanding and sympathy for those who face hard times along with a call to simplify our lives, reduce our wants, and place our emphasis on loving each other and the Lord. I think it was that sense of love and concern that touched me most deeply.

For me and other writers, conference weekends always mean book signings and they're some of the most fun signings of all. It was wonderful to meet people I only knew from online communications, people I've known but haven't seen for a long time, dear friends, and strangers who are now friends. It was my first chance to see my new book, The Ruby. I don't have my copies yet making it really fun to walk into stores and see it sitting front and center. My four-year-old grandson created a few fun moments for me too. Brandon has an imaginary friend he calls Happy Ghost who goes everywhere he goes so he was very interested in a Halloween decoration I have out on the buffet. It's a ghost sitting in a pumpkin with a pumpkin lid hat. When someone taps on the hat, the ghost spits out candy corns, M & M's or whatever candy I've filled it with. When I got ready to leave for my first signing, he told me not to forget my "happy ghost," so I took my little ghost along and he was a big hit--pun unintended.

One question I'm frequently asked at signings is how long it took me to write the book. I have a hard time with that question because I really don't know. It seems like over the past fifteen years I've always been writing one, working on the edit of another, and promoting and signing a third, all at the same time. This past couple of years it seems those various segments have piled one on top of the other until I found myself with four books in the publishing queue. Then suddenly for the last six months I haven't been writing a new one because I've been so busy with the editing end, then learning my temple responsibilities. Ideas are beginning to stir again and I think I've reached that magical point where I can concentrate on starting a new book. High Country and Shudder will both be back to contemporary stories and will come out in January and August of 2009. What do you think? Should I go with another historical for 2010?