A Big Faux Pas

During my senior year of high school, my brother and I got jobs at Tyson Foods. He worked in the raw chicken and I worked with cooked chicken. Every day after school, I donned my rubber boots, old clothes and an attractive hairnet, and spent four or five hours de-boning and de-veining cooked chicken. It was the most unglamorous of jobs.

Weeks before I was to graduate, I saw a job posting on the bulletin board of the break room. Needed: Receptionist/secretary to work with Mickey in the Personnel Department. I scheduled an interview and the Monday after graduation, I traded in my line job for a desk job. This was a dream come true for a still-seventeen year-old who had taken typing, shorthand and General Office Procedures during the past year.

I was eager and competent, but also naive and awkward. I did a good job, but probably tried too hard. One of my duties was giving new applicants the paperwork to fill out and scheduling appointments for them to visit with our Personnel Manager. This was usually a smooth process. They'd fill out the application, give it to me, then wait until Mickey was ready to see them. At that time, I'd hand him the paperwork and show the applicant in.

One afternoon, our only applicant was a pretty American Indian woman. (I know this for certain because after she filled out her application, she gave it to me and I saw she had checked the American Indian box.) I called Mickey, who was visiting with another secretary (In hindsight, I think they were having an affair) and told me to have her wait.

"He'll be just a few more minutes," I said and she smiled.

I caught up my filing, answered a few phone calls and casually walked back past Mickey's office to see if he was wrapping up his visit. He ignored me and I returned to my desk.

It was getting increasingly uncomfortable as the woman continued to wait. I straightened my desk, but I was through with the day's work and didn't want to take out a book and start reading in front of her. I was frustrated with Mickey. This woman was waiting as he was fraternizing.

I took a deep breath, wanting to say something--anything--to break the awkward silence. Then I spoke the first words that came to mind.

"Have you been an Indian all your life?"

WHAT? Had I really just said that? I felt my face get hot. I wanted to crawl under my desk. I DID NOT JUST SAY THAT!

I looked at the woman, completely chagrined. "I have," she said, laughing. I laughed, too, and cheered when she got the job.

***Have you ever stuck your foot in your mouth? Do you want to comfort me by telling me about it?***

LUCKY NUMBER ELEVEN

Congratulations Rebecca, the lucky winner of City of Angels.

Using the Custom Random Number Generator on Mathgoodies.com, the winner was lucky number 11! (And you said you never win anything!)

I hope you enjoy the book.

Be sure to check back for new postings, news about my upcoming book and new giveaways. You can follow me on twitter and facebook.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Hands

(Previously published on my other blog.)

I had pretty hands. Family and friends commented often. "You have such pretty hands. You could be a hand model," they'd say. Even perfect strangers noticed. I was proud of my hands. On a young lady with frizzy hair, an imperfect complexion and veins that showed under my eyes, my hands were my bright, shining bit of vanity.

The skin on my hands was smooth and even, my fingers long and slender. The nails were healthy and strong. I never had a professional manicure, but I kept my nails polished and filed and pretty. I remember finding the buffing file from Cover Girl and buffing them until they were smooth and shiny. I would take special care to rub my hand lotion into the nails and cuticles, to help keep them healthy.

Then real life happened, and no matter how I tried to keep them soft and pretty, life took a toll. The fall from potential hand model to beaten and battered hands happened gradually. I traded in the gentle office job for four children. The polished nails were sacrificed for the art of making wedding cakes. Of necessity, my nails became shorter and unpolished. No matter how many times a day, I slathered my hands with lotions and creams, hot water, household cleaners and AGE, took their toll.

Then came the stage of my life I'll refer to as "the clumsy stage." During this few years, I fell down stairs, tripped over hoses, and walked into things. My lack of coordination took on a life of its own. My hands suffered during this time, as well. A couple of burns and lacerations left permanent scars. The skin that was smooth and even is now looking weathered and older. My fingernails are still clean, but rarely even and not always strong.

Do I hate my hands now? I'm no longer proud of their appearance, but I'm proud of what they're capable of doing. They create clean clothes and dishes out of dirty ones. They take basic pantry items and make meals that nourish my family. They've created beautiful wedding cakes, sewn lovely clothes, curled my daughters' hair, straightened my daughters' hair, clapped at my sons' football and basketball games, held my husband's hand, held my children's hands, wiped tears away, and countless other things.

They're no longer beautiful to look at, but I hope that when I die, they will have spent a lifetime doing beautiful things. I hope I can remember, when it comes to my hands, that beauty truly is only skin (and nail) deep, but that the good deeds my hands have done will make them "model" hands in the ways that really matter.

Finish What You Start

One of my time-killing pasttimes on the computer is browsing the shops on Etsy. There's something about seeing all that talent and creativity that gets my creative juices flowing. The problem with that is that I'm a fairly creative person myself, so as I browse, I also realize that there's a lot on there that with a few supplies and a good Youtube tutorial, I could probably do myself.

I've never tried blowing glass into beautiful beads or forging sterling silver into intricate jewelry, but I've tried felting, scrapbooking, altering books, crocheting dishcloths, making hats, forming tissue paper flowers and balls, baking, making bags, creating Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus jeans, elaborate children's clothing, cross-stitching, embroidering...well, you get the picture. I'm usually decent at these endeavors and sometimes I'm actually quite good. The problem is that I might have CADD (creator's attention deficit disorder) and too often, I start a project and then don't finish it.

As I've sorted through boxes this summer, I've found way too many half-finished projects--a couple of really beautiful cross-stitch pieces that have dozens of hours invested in them, but sadly, I no longer have a pattern or the thread. I found an embroidered silk pillow that was partly finished and I honestly have zero desire to finish it, so regretfully, it will forever remain half-finished.

It is because of these many half-hearted attempts, that the finished projects become very special. One of those was the yoyo dress pictured above. I got a jolt of inspiration after making a bag embellished with yoyos. Wouldn't an all-white yoyo dress be beautiful? I imagined how playful and interesting and unique it would be, even envisioned a bride on the beach or in the forest, wearing the playful dress. I was inspired!

A trip to the fabric store to purchase a good-quality, white cotton and I was on my way. First, I sewed a fun, babydoll dress to be my base. Then I started cutting out yoyos. I cut out a hundred of them in three different sizes and began sewing them. The stacks of yoyos grew. Each yoyo is a circle twice the size of the finished yoyo. Each is gathered with dozens of stitches round the outer edge of the yoyo, all the while turning in the fabric to eliminate raw edges, and then gathering it tightly.Once each yoyo is sewn, it must be pressed to give it a nice, round appearance. When I'd sewn all 100 yoyos, I began arranging them on the dress and painstakingly sewing them on--each one with tiny, blind stitches that go all the way around the yoyo. I sewed on all 100 yoyos and much to my dismay, they barely made a dent in the dress.

A part of me was overwhelmed. What was I doing? I'd spent hours and hours and hours and here I was, only a fraction of the way there. So another trip to the fabric store to buy everything left on the bolt (it was over ten yards!) and I was back to cutting, sewing, pressing and stitching on yoyos. The sleeves presented a challenge because the edges of the yoyos are only sewn to each other, giving the lacy look I wanted.

I spent well over 100 hours on that dress, but I finished it. More than a year ago, I listed it in my etsy shop. It didn't sell. It isn't because it isn't beautiful. I've received more emails and positive comments about that dress than you can imagine. It's because in order to make minimum wage on it, I would have to charge over $900. That's fairly daunting.

My hope all along was that it would be a wedding dress. I hoped that so much that one of the small yoyos by the hem of the dress is pale blue (for that something blue).

A couple of weeks ago, I offered to take offers on everything in my etsy shop and within two days, I had an offer from a bride in Switzerland. I took the offer. I ended up making about $1.75 an hour, but it's going to be worn for a wedding in Switzerland! Not good money, but hey, I finished the dress and it's being used for what I envisioned, so I'm happy.

I won't be doing it again, but I'm happy to say that ten years down the road, I won't be sorting through boxes and find a half-finished yoyo dress.

What kinds of projects do you leave unfinished?

(p.s. If you want a smokin' deal on anything left in my etsy shop, go to http://www.etsy.com/shop/stellamerle and make me an offer.)

Time for a GIVEAWAY!

*****NOTICE*****
Please be sure to leave multiple comments when you become a follower of either the blog or twitter. You get one entry per comment (that way random selector will work).

City of Angels by Sheralyn Pratt
This is the perfect book to finish out your summer reading. Fast-paced and dangerous. Rhea (pronounced Ray) Jensen is a tough and clever twenty-something single girl/private investigator who studies ways to escape from handcuffs while waiting to take down another serial slease. But life becomes complicated when what should have been an open-and-closed embezzlement case goes awry and her on-again-off-again boyfriend starts fooling around behind her back. Rhea finds herself in danger and makes some life-changing discoveries about herself and her future.

Ways to enter:

Leave a comment sharing one life-altering decision you've made.

For more chances, become a follower of this blog and leave me a comment telling me.

Become a follower on twitter at http://twitter.com/kareylwhite and leave me a comment

Create a posting about this giveaway on your blog or facebook or twitter and leave me a link in the comments.

Winner will be selected Thursday, July 29 11:59 p.m.

Now go enter and good luck!

No Time to Say Goodbye

I was fixing dinner for my younger brothers and sisters when I got the call. “The kids have been in an accident down by Crooked River Bridge. Can you get down here?” I gathered my brother and sister, who were still at home with me, ran to the neighbors, and secured a ride the three miles from our house to the Crooked River Bridge.

The car was lying on its side on the embankment, just a few feet from the water. Two symmetrical rows of dirt lined the road, where the car had skidded, throwing all the gravel aside. The windshield was on the ground beside the car, completely opaque from shattering, but perfectly shaped, having flown from the front window.

I scrambled down the embankment, looking for my two brothers and two sisters who had been in the car. Being the oldest of eleven children, I was used to mentally accounting for where people were. We did this everywhere we went, so that no one would be left behind. As I neared the car, I saw eight-year old Leslie sitting on the ground, softly crying.

“Are you okay, sweetie?” I asked.

“My leg hurts. I tried to walk and it bent right here,” she said, pointing to her thigh, where a leg should not bend.

“An ambulance is going to take you to the doctor, okay?” I knelt beside her and wiped away her tears.

“Okay.”

I moved a few more feet, toward the front of the car. As I did, I could see sixteen-year old Bruce. A man I didn’t know was standing by the front of the car. He moved toward me and held up his hand to stop me from coming further. “He’s dead,” he said quietly, so that Leslie couldn’t hear him.

Immediately my knees buckled and I reached for something solid—the roof of the car to my left—and held myself up. I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t possible. With so many children in our family, we were used to accidents and mishaps. Broken bones and stitches were common enough as to not cause too much anxiety. But dying? That didn’t happen to us. The man had to be mistaken.

Once I caught my breath, I moved forward enough to reach out and touch Bruce’s dark hair. It felt soft. There wasn’t any sign of injury, no bruising, no blood. His eyes were closed and he looked like he was peacefully sleeping.

“Is there any way you can get in touch with your parents?” someone asked me and for the first time I realized that I was the oldest family member here. I had to be responsible and think of the kids. I said a quick, silent prayer and moved away from the car and up the embankment.

During the next hour, a brother and sister were transported to the children’s hospital by helicopter. Another sister and brother were taken by ambulance to a local hospital. I called my parents, who were on an overnight temple trip to Dallas, and arranged for the uninjured children to go with friends for the evening.

At some point, a friend offered to drive me to the hospital, where they needed me to be with the most critically injured of the surviving children. I walked across the bridge toward the waiting car. In the middle of the bridge, I stopped and looked over the edge. I could see Bruce in the car.

“Come on, we really need to go,” my friend urged me. But still I stood there. Tears filled my eyes and spilled down my cheeks and my heart hurt. Not figuratively—it literally hurt. How could I leave him there? As long as there was family here, maybe it could all be a mistake and he’d come walking up the embankment with his crooked smile, amused at the trick he’d just pulled on us. When I left, there would be no more family here, and illogical as it was, I felt that if all of the family left, he really would be dead. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave him. He needed me to stay with him so he wouldn’t be alone. I don’t know how long I stood there crying, but soon an arm wrapped around my shoulders and guided me to the car.

I’d never experienced tragedy like this before. My family’s world was forever changed. My life would never be the same. Until I see him again, there will be a wound in my soul. As the years have passed, that wound has scabbed over. It is never completely healed, but now I can go for stretches of time without feeling it. Yet every so often, I bump up against something and rip off the scab. I cry and I remember and I hurt, but the hurting feels somehow right. It lets me know Bruce isn’t forgotten. Then I bandage it and move on.

I've wondered if this is healthy. Is it right to still cry after more than twenty years? Am I normal? I’ve decided it is okay. The remembering hurts, but the pain helps me focus on family and what’s important. Since that day, I’ve never said good-bye to a member of my family without telling them I love them, even if I’m just running to the grocery store. Some laugh and think its crazy, but I think it honors Bruce. Bruce was younger than I was, but his unexpected exit from this life has taught me to value those I love and let them know.

I didn’t get to tell Bruce good-bye. I didn’t get to hug him and tell him how proud I am to be his sister. I didn’t get to tell him that he’s one of my favorite people in the world. For that I am sad. But what should I do since he died without me saying goodbye? Express my love for those still here. I’m sure that wherever he is, when he hears me tell my husband I love him as he leaves for work, or when I tell my children I love them as I drop them off at school, he knows. He knows I love him, too.

When Is It Cheating?



I need your help for an article and a potential book. I'm looking for a variety of perspectives--single people, single and dating, engaged, and married.

What constitutes cheating? I think we can all agree that becoming intimately involved with another person while your married is cheating. But how involved? (Please don't be graphic or inappropriate.) And what about when you're dating? Or when you're engaged? Is that cheating or is it making sure you're with the right one?

Please tell me what you think and if you have an experience to back it up, I'd love to hear it (again, no graphic descriptions, name calling or inappropriate language. Let's discuss it with class!)

Props to Civilized Courtship

I often hear single friends lament the state of dating and marriage--how good, old-fashioned courtship has been replaced with noncommital 'hanging out,' how old-fashioned dating has become so 'old-fashioned,' and how good manners and civility are being replaced with technological communication where no real manners are required.

While there is some truth to all of these problems, I learned today that we still have much to be grateful for in this world of human relationships.

Brandon, a representative of the Bean Museum at Brigham Young University, came to our cub scout group today and shared a fun and interesting presentation about the world of reptiles. The boys (and their willing leaders) were able to touch a python, a green iguana, and an African Spurred Tortoise. The presentation was thrilling for the thirteen nine and ten year-old boys, but the tid-bit that fascinated me the most had to do with tortoise mating rituals.

In an effort to win over a female, the male tortoises try to eliminate the competition by flipping them. That may sound charming, like a little arm wrestle between posturing males, until you learn that once a tortoise has been flipped, he's in a bit of a bind. On his back, the heavy body of the tortoise weighs down on his lungs, slowly and painfully killing the tortoise. Only in very rare instances is the tortoise able to flip himself back over, so being flipped is almost always a death sentence. This raises the stakes significantly. The tortoise had better make sure the object of his affection is worth the risk!

So in the tortoise world, successful courting is a matter of life and death. In the human world, there are only rare and scandalous examples of such cold-hearted "all's fair in love and war" behavior. As a man attempts to woo his bride, killing the competition doesn't usually come to mind.

So the next time we lament the failings of our method of courting, we need only look at the African spurred tortoise to renew our faith in the civility of humankind.

My Banner will be Clear

This quote was shared in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. The talk was from a man whose family rejected him after he joined the church during college. It was emotional and inspiring and I want to make my life reflect the same commitment.

"I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed.
The dye has been cast. I have stepped over the line.
The decision has been made.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I won't look back, slow down or be still.
My past is redeemed,
my present makes sense,
and my future is secure.
I am finished and done with low living, small planning,
smooth knees, colorless dreams, tainted visions,
worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, positions,
promotions, plaudits, or popularity.
I don't have to be right, first recognized,
praised, regarded or rewarded.
I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven.
My road is narrow, my way is rough, my comparisons are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured,
lured away, dividied, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice,
hesitate in the presence of the adversary,
negotiate at the table of the enemy,
ponder at the pool of popularity,
or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, or let up, until I have stayed up,
stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ.
I must go 'til He comes, give 'til I drop,
preach 'til all know and work 'til He stops me.
And when He returns for His own,
he will have no problem recognizing me.
My banner will be clear."

Memories of Bullet

(This is a similar Plymouth Arrow, though it isn't actually Bullet)

This morning we had what we call a "gas parade." That is where we go to Smith's, pay for gas and then line up, taking turns filling all of our cars, so we can all use the Rewards Points gas discount. Right now they're giving double rewards, so we filled our tanks for $.30 per gallon less. As I was pulling out of the gas station, I saw a site that took me back many years. It was an old, blue Plymouth Arrow. I had one of those once. Let me tell you about Bullet.

It has been many years since my first car, Bullet, sputtered to a stop by the side of the road—and died. I’m sure that to most, Bullet was nothing more than metal, fabric, paint, rubber and various fluids, not too beautifully assembled, but somewhere between his birth at a factory in Michigan and my ownership of him, he gained not only a personality, but a sense of humor.

I realize that Bullet isn’t a very warm and welcoming name. In fact, it may have been his resentment of this name that caused him to seek revenge against me. But somehow, the name fit. Bullet was a 1976 Plymouth Arrow. During my eighteen months of missionary service, Bullet was parked in the shadows of our barn. We had a young bull who decided to ram the car repeatedly with his new horns. By the time anyone realized what was happening, my car looked like it had been shot in about fifteen places with a rifle. It didn’t take too much rain and humidity to cause those holes to begin to rust. He looked like he’d been used for target practice.

Bullet was ugly, but like bulldogs, he was so ugly he was almost cute. He had character that some of my friends’ newer models could only hope to live long enough to acquire. Oh, the stories he could have told.

At the end of Christmas break in 1986, my friend, Lara, and I loaded up Bullet, left our homes in Missouri and headed west for college. Unfortunately, Bullet wasn’t too keen on the idea. In Kansas, snow started falling. Within an hour, it was a full-fledged blizzard. We were engulfed in white. Snow started building up on my car and we pulled over regularly to kick the snow off the wheel wells and clean off the windshield wipers.

As we continued driving, an evil force took over the windshield wipers. The right wiper began wiping off of its usual course. The wipers were no longer synchronized. The right wiper occasionally bumped into the left, threatening to get caught, and then pulling away. Within a couple of minutes, the right wiper had shifted its course completely and was now wiping off the hood of the car. It gradually worked its way back to the windshield, where it fought again with the left. The left wiper tried valiantly to stay the course, but eventually lost the battle as the two wipers caught, stuck together, wiggled and eventually pointed together at the road ahead, no longer wiping anything at all.

Bullet was an oil burner. He got great gas mileage, but he drank oil like an alcoholic—one quart after another. He wasn’t just a social drinker, enjoying an occasional drink with his buddies, he had a major addiction. As I look back, I realize I was an enabler in this addiction. I fed the beast its oil—about a quart every hundred miles. I was afraid to refuse Bullet, knowing that if I did, he’d retaliate and give me the silent treatment. So I bought oil by the case, not the quart, and kept it in the back of the car.

I still owned Bullet when I had my first real, adult job. He was my commuter the fifty miles each way to work. Almost every morning, I’d add a quart of oil before leaving home. One day, I realized I’d left the oil cap at a gas station. Not wanting to leave the hole uncovered until I could purchase a new one, I plugged the hole with a rag. That hot afternoon, as I was driving home, singing along to my cassette tape of Billy Joel, Bullet began to cough and sputter. He seemed sluggish and tired. I guided him gently to the side of the freeway, barely making it onto the shoulder before he rattled, sighed, and took his last breath.

I got out and lifted the hood, hoping I could figure out what was wrong. Shoot, I thought, as I realized the rag was missing. It must have fallen out. A friend, Rex, helped me tow Bullet to a shop, where I explained what had happened. The mechanic shook his head as I told my story, then grabbed some long, needle-nosed pliers and began pulling out pieces of rag from in the hole.

The mechanic tore the engine apart and found bits of rag in every part. I had killed Bullet. I had smothered him with the rag. He was gone. The shell of my car sat in my driveway for several weeks while I came to terms with his death.
Bullet is now buried with those of his kind in a junkyard about twelve miles from my home. I was paid 27.08 for him. He is missed. I doubt there will ever be another Bullet.

Congratulations!

Congratulations to ohhhfire, the winner of The Host and Twilight bookmark giveaway.

Using the Custom Random Number Generator on Mathgoodies.com, the winner was lucky number 13!

I hope you enjoy the book and bookmark.

Be sure to check back for new postings, news about my upcoming book and new giveaways. You can follow me on twitter and facebook. Have a great day everyone!

The Host & Twilight Bookmark Giveaway


****JUST A QUICK REMINDER -- BE SURE WHEN YOU ENTER TO LEAVE ME YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS SO I CAN REACH YOU IF YOU'RE MY LUCKY WINNER****

*In honor of books (of which I'll have my own published soon) and reading (which I love), I've decided to have a literary giveaway once a month. Doesn't everyone love to win something? So even if you've read this book, I hope you'll enter the giveaway. And be sure to check back for more fun prizes to win!

JULY GIVEAWAY is a new copy of the paperback edition of THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer. If you read and loved the Twilight series, you'll love this book. Even if you had lukewarm feelings about the Twilight series, I think you'll like this book. This is actually my favorite Stephenie Meyer book. I found the whole idea interesting and entertaining and fast-paced. This is a great read to finish out your summer!

I'm also giving away a bead and wire Twilight bookmark that of course can be used with any book.

To enter giveaway, leave a comment on this post.

To have a second chance to win, become a follower of this blog, then leave me a comment, letting me know.

To have a third chance (or fourth or fifth), tell people about the giveaway on your blog (or blogs) and comment with a link to the posting.

The giveaway will end on Wednesday, July 7 at midnight, mountain time and the winner will be announced Thursday.

Now start entering!!!