Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Playing for Light" ~ innovative and clever

Innovative: To promote change and/or to alter by introducing something new
Clever: showing inventiveness or originality; ingenious

I LOVE it when someone is innovative and clever. Remarkable things happen. I'm particualry fond of the simplicity of the solution and int ingenuity of those involved that created a solution to the lack of light for students in Africa to do their schoolwork in the evenings. Hope you enjoy this short clip:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dishwater Redemption

I'm a little hesitant to share this poem. I happen to really like it and if you don't, I probably don't want you to tell me. :)

I first wrote this many years ago when our children were still young.Then, a few years ago, I worked on is some more and hence, the 2007 copyright date.

It is a true experience and has been a life-long reminder to me, although I have a long ways to go! It's also quite remarkable that it even happened as I married an awesome man who DOES DISHES and he does so much more often than I. However, on this particular night, I was up late doing the dishes.

I do ask that you not copy or use this poem, especially without my express permission. And I hope you like it...

Dishwater Redemption

The house is quiet.
My husband and children are asleep.
The silence of the room is interrupted
Only by the sounds I make while washing the dishes.

As I pick up each dish and rinse away our dinner,
I am reminded of the meal we enjoyed together.
The chatter of the children as they spoke of their day
Lingers in my mind and I feel a sweet contentment.

I’m nearly done when I notice my well-used cookie sheet,
Standing at the back of the dish drainer;
Even though I have washed it thoroughly,
It really doesn’t look very clean.

The evidence of so many batches of cookies baked
Over and over again until it looks tarnished and brown.
When it was new, it sparkled and shined.
Now it is discolored and scratched.

And for some reason, tonight, this bothers me.
I take the cookie sheet from its resting place and
Plunge it back into the warm, soapy water.
But I am unable to rid it of the baked-on grime.

I reach in the cupboard for an S.O.S. scouring pad
And go after the suspect brown specks with renewed vigor.
I pay special attention to the inside corners of the cookie sheet.
This proves to be especially satisfying and I continue until it shines.

It has been reborn and I can see my reflection in it.
And suddenly, I realize… I am like the cookie sheet.
I’m not dirty by any means, but perhaps,
Not quite clean enough either; I have lost some of my sparkle.

Leaning against the sink I know what I must do.
I will take upon me the S.O.S. scouring pad of repentance
And work and pray hard to be shiny and clean,
Until the Savior’s image shows in my countenance.

I plan to keep my cookie sheet as bright as it looks today
And with a few repairs here and there, and a heart full of love,
I can do the same for myself, that I might be more useful
To those I share this earthly space with.

Who knew? Sometimes, there’s not much difference between
A neglected ol’ cookie sheet and a life too busy to notice
Some of the sparkle and shine has faded.
Yes, S.O.S. pads are a beautiful thing.
                                             ~ © Stephanie Abney 2007

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Beauty of Friendship

So, the day is nearly over and I am thinking about friendship for several reasons today; three in particular. 

One, we went to the AZ State Fair with our dear friends, Ike & Diane Hathcock. Both of our families have been busy raising kids for many years but tonight we went just by ourselves and we were all able to get in at the SENIOR price (Sorry, Diane!! Ha ha ~ you only have to be 55 to get a discount at the fair). So, for $5 bucks each and the price of some food, etc., we had a great time. We have known the Hathcocks for 27 years (lived across the street from each other all these years - our kids grew up together; well, we had a head start and now their youngest is a senior in High School - ours have been out of the house for awhile). Their friendship is priceless.

Two, while we were at the fair we ran into a sweet friend of mine, MaryEllen Simmons, (amazing mom of a bazillion kids - okay - that number may be too high - but she had a bunch and fostered about 10 times that many over the years). She's a fun lady who can see the humor in the most trying of situations and a talented writer and crafter. She's been a delight to know and now she works at the fair helping young people share their talents in the large exhibit hall under the coliseum that she is in charge of. Just seeing her brought back so many memories and made me smile. I love friends that are always friends even when you don't see them that often (of course, FaceBook has gone a long way in keeping friendships alive when you don't have frequent contact). 

Third, when we came home, there was a lovely little bouquet of "BJ's Flowers" waiting at the door, left by my sweet friend, Kathy Thompson. When our youngest son, BJ (Brian James Abney) passed away 11 years ago after a five and a half year battle with leukemia, the Relief Society sisters prepared a luncheon after the funeral for our family and close friends, as is the custom in our church. On the tables were small pots of little yellow flowers (still not SURE what kind they are - Kathy is pretty sure they are mini mums, but they have this BROWN center that makes me wonder - anyway, not's that important - they are darling). When the luncheon was over, Kathy took a couple of pots and planted them in her yard and despite not having the best of luck with most plants - these little guys flourished. The following year, and every year thereafter, on or around Nov. 8th (the day we lost BJ) she has brought me a small vase of "BJ's Flowers." There are a few more interesting details but they aren't needed for this post. My main point is that she could be so thoughtful and caring to do something like this that reminds me each year of my precious son.

The examples of friendship throughout my life and especially during BJ's illness and passing are beyond anything you could imagine. I have been SO BLESSED in this regard. And I'm lucky to have such great friends. I know they care about us and that's why they have been so wonderful but I also know that they care about the Lord and because they love Him, they also love me and mine. It's a beautiful thing and so tonight, as always, I'm grateful to have such remarkable friends. You're probably one of them if you are reading this!!

Think about your friends and a favorite memory. And then, call them up, remind them of it and tell them how happy you are to be friends. You'll both be glad you did!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Live in Daily Thanksgiving

Thessalonians 5: 18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (Holy Bible, KJV)

Alma 34:38 “… and take upon you the name of Christ; that you humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.” (Book of Mormon)
From two scriptural sources we can read that the Lord is counting on us to give thanks daily, for every single thing, good or bad. Hmmm. How are you doing with that one? Been complaining lately? Life is often hard, there’s no escaping that fact. It’s usually inconvenient; but when all is said and done, it’s still amazingly wonderful.

I’ve lived a long time (and I hope I’ll be of sound mind and health to live a lot longer – I’m pretty fond of waking up every day). Two very important things I have learned along the way is that first, we’re not in charge. And second, we need to GET OUT OF THE WAY!!! The Lord sees things from the beginning to the end. He knows what will bring us growth, joy, benefit … even if we don’t see it at the time. He can do a lot more with our lives than we can if we were left in charge. We just need to be grateful for the lessons that come and the results they bring. If it’s still hard, then He isn’t done yet and we need to be patient and long-suffering.

It’s easy to be grateful for the good things; the beauty of the earth, wonderful people and opportunities in our lives, food on the table, a roof over our heads and gas in the car, just to name a few blessings. But it’s dang hard to be grateful for health challenges, terminal illnesses, difficult people, lack of anything, accidents, lost homes or jobs; in fact, loss of any kind. It’s difficult to be grateful when our feelings have been hurt or worse. In either instance, there are lessons to be learned. We learn from both abundance and lack, from success and failure and learning to take things as they come, with a grateful heart makes the tough stuff a little easier to deal with.

I need to work on this. I suspect most people do. I only bring it up because these are the verses and thoughts that came to my mind when I wondered what I should write about for Day 2 of blogging every day in November. I didn’t choose a “gratitude” blog for the month – although it’s a great idea – I just was hoping to post something of worth (for myself and hopefully for anyone reading this) every day. So, there you have it. A grateful heart … NO matter what. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Na Na November!!

So, November is busy month for writers who want to make themselves a little crazy!!

It's "National Novel Writing Month"~ NaNoWriMo ~ the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, by the end of November. The RULE here is that you have to be working on a totally NEW novel.

So, for those of you who want the challenge of a monthly goal but want to continue writing your WIP (work-in-progress), you can do so with ANWAWrite. Although it is sponsored by American Night Writers Association (which I have been a member of for 23 years), you do not have to be a member to do ANWAWrite - they have a "BIAM" (Book in a Month) goal each November. The rules are more lax: you can work on something you have already started and set your own word count goal. However, you CANNOT EDIT that work during the month. If this one interests you - it is done by email - anyone can join in - no fees or memberships required. Just sign up at: ANWA Write Yahoo Group ~ Report as often as you can, cheer the others on, and write!

There is also a National YOUNG writers program National Novel Writing Month site: YWP NaNoWriMo ~ complete with prompts and helps

Then, there is "National Blog Posting Month" ~ NaBloPoMo ~ the goal is to post something on your blog every day during November (I'm thinking this might work for me - even though I am writing this on Nov. 2 and PLAN TO POST IT AS NOV 1st - so, not REALLY cheating, just a slow starter... hee hee ~ but the one time I managed to post EVERY day on my blog was in April of this year when I hosted a Poem a Day challenge for "National Poetry Month"). So, we'll see how I do.

"Picture Book Idea Month" ~ PiBoIdMo ~ the challenge here is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days during November.

Not to be outdone, the National Association of Memoir Writers uses the month of November for their "Memoir Writing" month; celebrating "National Life Writing Month" and "Write Nonfiction" to parallel the National Novel Writing Month  ~ here is the link to their website: National Association of Memoir Writers

There are plenty of people and groups doing a "Gratitude Month" where you journal about and/or post on your social media site or blog, something that you are grateful for each day in November. This one seems like a no-brainer for the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.

November 1st is always "National Authors' Day" and "National Family Literacy Day" - both worthy days. 

So, whether you feature yourself as a writer or not, everyone has a story to tell. Find a way to use this outside motivation and give it a shot!! You might wind up on the best seller list. Who knows?
Enjoy!! And .... WRITE WRITE WRITE!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Greetings!!! Ah, the best laid plans - foiled again. I always MEAN to get back to the blog, but life has a way of jumping in first! Such a busy life we lead, but I love being busy. 

Lots to catch up on, but for now, I'll just share a link with you to an article I wrote about the new PBS FALL FESTIVAL series - 9 events (performances) - 9 cities - 9 weeks. It starts tonight. This article was published in the print edition of The Deseret News: Oct 14th, 2011, Section C, Page 11 ~ it also appears online ~ please check it out: MY article in the Deseret News ~ I think you'll be glad you did because it's a pretty cool series. Have a great weekend and I hope to get back here soon and play "catch-up."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Today we have been married FORTY-ONE years!!!

41 years ago, Jim and I were sealed in marriage for "Time and All Eternity" in the Los Angeles Temple. We're still kickin' and loving life. It's been good, bad, wonderful, hard, funny, sad ... you name it, but it has all been worth it and that's what matters. 

Here is a cinquain poem I wrote years ago - still applies: 

Feeling secure
Where judgment has no place
Wrapped in the safety of your arms

Stephanie Abney ~   © 1998

I couldn't hope to "re-cap" 41 years so I posted what has emerged as our "theme song" ~ "Through the Years" by Kenny Rogers. Enjoy - I'll be busy ...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Day in May . . . or 4 or 5 days

Ah, the best laid plans… I always MEAN to get right back to my blog, but then this thing called LIFE gets in the way. So, a little catching up to follow: for May – one of the biggest events was that I went to LDStorymakers Writers Conference for the first time ever!! (I’ve been going to writers’ workshops and conferences for over 20 years but never to this one before).

It was the first weekend in May and my dear friend, Theresa Sneed, and I drove up together (well, I drove and she rode). We left on Wed afternoon (later than we meant to) and spent the night in Henderson, NV. The next morning we got ready and drove on up to SLC where Theresa was signed up for Writers Boot Camp so I dropped her off and then I had a great lunch with my cousin, Kathy Goold Gunther, whom I haven’t seen in years!

Our hostess for our stay was Kari Pike, a fellow ANWA member who moved from AZ to UT a year or so ago (maybe more – my brain doesn’t keep track of time very well - DUH). We had lots of fun with Kari. Thanks, Kari - you're the BEST!

That night (Thurs) Theresa and I drove up to Ogden, UT so we could watch this precious men’s’ chorus during their rehearsal as I was writing an article on them. The Men of Song (More info at their blog) – AND you can read the article I wrote for Deseret News about them here: Men of Song musical repertoire resonates with audiences ~ these men were so precious with their mellow voices. The group members range in age from 43 to 86 years old. :)

But I digress. It would be impossible at this late date to try to recap the conference – suffice it to say we had the best time, met lots of fellow LDS writers, took great classes, and even topped off the week by attending the Whitney Awards Banquet. Think I better start saving now so I can go again next year, LDStorymakers was AWESOME!

So, on Sunday, Theresa needed to get back home in order to teach school on Monday and she drove home with Betsy Love and her husband. I, on the other hand, took my sweet time; first, attending Sacrament Mtg with Kari and her family – it was Mother’s Day – and then I drove down to my sister’s house in St. George. Camille was so cute – she made us a nice lunch. We had a visit that was much too short and then I was on my way to Mandy and Jason’s house in Henderson, NV. I got there in time for Mother’s Day Dinner and had a wonderful visit with the grandchildren.

My plans were to go home on Monday, but, again, the best laid plans . . . NOT! I must have eaten something over the weekend that didn’t agree with my hypersensitive tummy (which is light years beyond just needing to be gluten-free) and I was in bed, sleeping most of the day. I drove home on Tuesday and pulled in just moments before I had to leave to go tutor in Gilbert.

And so, there you have it, one MARVELOUS extended weekend in May – wish I could have told more but this is LONG enough! Cheers!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Your Pinkie is More Powerful Than Your Thumb

Do you LOVE trivia - then you'll enjoy a new book I recently reviewed at Deseret News: 

Check out my book review on a book that dispenses more than 300 facts you never thought to wonder about ~ click here: Book Review on Deseret News - Pinkie Stronger Than Your Thumb

Would LOVE it if you left a comment in the "Comment Section" ~ Thanks!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 30 - Final Day of the Poetry Challenge

Day 30 - Last Day of National Poetry Month 

Well, this month has been quite amazing – for one, I actually posted on my blog EVERY day for 30 days in a row. That has GOT to be some kind of a record; especially for the A.D.D. poster queen that I am. I’m pretty pleased about that. However, my greatest satisfaction comes from seeing what these posts prompted others to create. Amazing!! 

If you’ve been following on the blog, you have seen the work of only 2 or 3 brave souls who have posted here, but I’ve also made this poetry challenge part of two email groups I belong to and the poems there just kept coming and they have been remarkable! So, for today, the last day of National Poetry Month – I’d like to hear your comments on what this has brought to you. What have you learned? What did you love? What frustrated you (if anything)? Did you discover you were a poet and didn’t even know it? 

I hope you have had fun and please post your comments (which I would love to read) here ON MY BLOG ~ even if you never wrote a poem, but enjoyed reading the poems others wrote.

LAST DAY POEM ~ please feel free to create any style poem you have enjoyed. Or you might try summing up your feelings in a poem. Thanks for taking this journey with me. See ya’ next year for Poetry Month. But please stick around as I have other things you might enjoy reading about coming up on my blog. 

Today, I’m going to a pancake breakfast this morning (my sweet gluten-free friend, Kathy, is seeing to it that there are pancakes we can eat there) and then I’m off to Day 2 of a really interesting workshop on grieving, but more importantly, awakening. It’s been pretty fascinating so far. Take care!!

Here’s MY poem for the last day of National Poetry Month, a cinquain poem, (pattern 1) – I’ll post the pattern here to remind you:
1st line ~ two syllables – the subject (or title) or your poem
2nd line ~ four syllables that describe the title/subject
3rd line ~ six syllables that express action
4th line ~ eight syllables that express a thought or feeling
5th line ~ two syllables synonym for title (restates your subject using a different word)

Feelings expressed
From down deep in my heart
So you know who I am I’ll sing
Word Songs
                    © 2011 Stephanie Abney

Enjoy!! YOUR TURN!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 29 – Let's Write a 5 W’s Poem

Day 29 – 5 W’s Poem 

This is an obvious poem, but can be a sweet one, or a silly one, or a serious one, depending on what you fill in. This poem answers the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, When & Why.

I suggest you go to the Instant Poetry Maker on this one (it will include your punctuation for you when you click on the box “Create My Instant 5W Poem Now!” button. 

(Tomorrow is our last day)

Here is the link: Instant 5W poem creator  (it also has an example)

Below is the one I wrote inspired by a Christmas I will never forget for so many reasons. Christmas was my mom’s all-time favorite holiday and we lost her to pancreatic cancer exactly one week before Christmas of 1998. I was in California all month with my mom, dad and sister. (The rest of the family joined us for the funeral and we buried mom 2 days before Christmas). Back in Mesa, while I was gone, BJ didn’t have any money but wanted to make me a gift. I collect nativities so he decided to make one, from scratch, without a pattern, except for the vision in his head. He had leukemia and was given a freestanding woodworking workshop with electricity and power tools as his wish from “Make-A-Wish” and so he set out to create the most memorable nativity of my collection of about 50 nativities. It is so precious, as was he. Two years later, BJ lost his battle with cancer too. I cherish every reminder of who he was, what he stood for and how he loved. This one is most precious.

Brian James Abney
Made his mom a wooden nativity,
In his "Make-A-Wish" woodworking workshop,
For Christmas in 1998 when he was 14 years old,
Because he loved his mom and she collects them.
                            © 2011 Stephanie Abney

Thursday, April 28, 2011

MORE on Day 28 - MY example of a Clerihew Poem

Day 28 - Clerihew Poem

OK, folks - here's mine 
(if you missed the instructions for today, just look at the post below).

They say Jim Abney is one of the good ol’ boys,

To make him happy, just share your toys.

He likes to wrestle, laugh and leap,

But by afternoon, he falls asleep!

                  © 2011 Stephanie Abney

Day 28 ~ Let's Write a Clerihew Poem

Day 28 - How to write a Clerihew Poem

A clerihew is a four line long poem.
1. They are four lines long.
2. The first and second lines rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other.
3. The first line names a person, and the second line ends with something that rhymes with the name of the person.
4. A clerihew should be funny.

When Pollyanna came to town
all the people wore a frown.
She spread gladness, hope, and cheer
and kicked their grumpies in the rear.
© 2008 Katy Jones as found in Highlights of Homeschooling “30 Forms of Poetry About Girls in Literature”


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 27 ~ Let's Write a Lantern Poem

Day 27 ~How to Write a  Lantern Poem

OK, We are nearing the end of our challenge. Sorry this got posted later than 5am - life happens. So it's after 9 am AZ time, but we're doing a simple little Japanese poetry form today, a "Lantern Poem."

A lantern is a five line poem in the shape of a Japanese lantern. 

The Pattern is:

Line 1: noun (one syllable)
Line 2: describe the noun (two syllables)
Line 3: describe the noun (three syllables
Line 4: describe the noun (four syllables)
Line 5: synonym for noun in line one (one syllable)

straight-edged steel
deadly saber
      © 2008 Sally Clark

(Example from “The Highlights of Homeschooling: How to Write 30 Forms of Poetry – The American Revolution” by Teresa Ives Lilly, poetry by Sally Clark)