Friday, October 31, 2008

Photo of Ace Reporter on the Job

While I was interviewing a parent at the State Soccer Cup, the club president of HCStorm team (who it turned out was Mike's boss!) took this picture and sent it to me. I am enjoying writing a couple of articles a week for a weekly paper that has hired me to write for them. They have a 5,000 circulation in Mapleton and Springville. The editor assigns me local interest stories that are fun to write (mostly).After I interview people, the best part is I get to work at home writing stories, in my sweats!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gabe's Photo Shoot with Grandma

Gabe is wearing his birthday outfit from grandma and grandpa. We went out into their yard for a photo shoot but I made the mistake of bringing out an apple for a fall prop and Gabe kept trying to eat it. When I took it and held it while trying to take a picture he signed "food - eat" and when I said do you want to eat the apple he applauded which is sign for "you got it!"

Book Look Review "The Wednesday Letters"

Book Look

Debbie Balzotti

Visiting book clubs in Springville...
Many Relief Societies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsor book clubs for their members. The women of the Springville 7th ward book club meet monthly to discuss a book choice. The group varies in size from month to month according to interest in the book and busy schedules, but everyone is invited to attend.

“The Wednesday Letters”
There are many writers in the Christian Lit. category that produce best sellers. Jason F. Wright wrote “The Christmas Jars” a few years ago and I thought it was an interesting and motivational story. It inspired many readers to create Christmas jars of their own filled with spare change throughout the year and then donate to someone anonymously at Christmas. It comes out as a movie this year after being on the New York Times Bestseller list. “The Wednesday Letters” is having great success as well and outgrew its local Shadow Mountain publisher thanks to publicity from Glenn Beck who is like the Oprah of the Mormon book endorsers. It continues along the same theme hoping to have readers be inspired to write love letters in their own families.

When Jack and Laurel Cooper die in each other’s arms, their three children return to the bed and breakfast the Coopers ran and discover letters written by their father to their mother. What makes these letters remarkable is that they were written every week, every Wednesday, through almost forty years of marriage. As Matthew, Malcolm, and Samantha read letters that are tender, angry, loving and revealing, they discover there was more to their family than they knew. Each adult child comes to terms with these revelations in their own way and we watch them experience grief and joy together.

“The Wednesday Letters” will have the same good-will effect as “The Christmas Jars”. Readers will write love letters to their spouses. Children will try to be more loving and understanding. It is a simply written book but I applaud the author’s effort to improve the world through his stories.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Dinner

We enjoyed our annual Halloween Dinner yesterday. The menu included: Spaghetti and Eyeballs, witches warts (green peas), bleached bones (bread sticks), witches fingers (green and yellow beans), bug guts (orange jello), and plasma (pomegranate 7up) to drink with the plastic spider in the goblet. We had to leave the plastic spider out of grandma Ava's goblet since she had thrown it in the garbage earlier. As you can see Dawson and Haydon frosted our ghost and pumpkin cookies for dessert. I took a bad picture of Dawson - he looks like he is glaring but he wasn't. Lots of frosting+ lots of sprinkles=these happy faces. I wish they were still wearing their Indiana Jones costume hats because they looked great.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I get quoted in the paper since I am doing the publicity to try and pass the library bond!

Article in the Salt Lake Tribune today, Sunday Oct. 26th by Donald Meyer

"SPRINGVILLE - If anyone doubts the city doesn't need a new library, Debbie Balzotti has a simple suggestion.
"Visit the library, especially after school lets out," says Balzotti, a former library board member. That's when the library's computer stations and tables fill up, and patrons wind their way through cramped bookshelves.
At 8,100 square feet, the library is more than three times too small for the city's nearly 30,000 population, Library Director Pam Vaughn said. But Vaughn said residents can change that by approving a $9.8 million bond to build a larger library across the street.
The bond will cover the bulk of the projected $14.1 million cost, with the city providing the rest from its funds.
The new building will be built across Main Street from the existing library, where the fire department now stands.
If the bond is approved, the city will move toward the next step of designing the new building, which would be between 35,000- 45,000 square feet. Vaughn said the city agreed not to go beyond a conceptual plan until it was sure voters would support it.
But Howard A. Stephenson, president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, said times are too rough to go into debt for a library.
Tax revenues are expected to be in decline, Stephenson said. Taxpayers might find themselves facing bigger..."

Notice how I cut this former legislator off? He is so conservative and so against anything that needs any tax increase he makes me crazy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book Look Review "Faith of my Fathers"

“Faith of my Fathers”

To conclude October, what could be more frightening than a book by a presidential candidate? The election is just a week away so if you want to read this book you will have to put it on hold at the library today. A month ago I reserved this John McCain family memoir and also Barak Obama’s “Dreams from my Father” to give both sides equal representation, but someone out there has not returned it and now has a very overdue library book. I don’t mind since your fine will help pay for a new library!

The book begins with a brief genealogy and then focuses first on the story of his grandfather and father, both four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy. Their examples of courage and perseverance were the foundation for John McCain’s legendary act of heroism during the Vietnam War described in the final chapters.

It is a book about a patriotic family of career military men who were intensely dedicated to their country but flawed as all men are. I appreciated the humor that often surfaced as the youngest McCain reminisces about these alpha males. Describing his grandfather he writes: “He smoked, swore, drank, and gambled at every opportunity he had. His profile in the 1943 Current Biography described him as one of the navy’s best plain and fancy cussers.”

McCain’s father was more of a religious man. “He always kept with him a tattered, dog-eared prayer book, from which he would pray aloud for an hour, on his knees, twice every day”. Both men had standards of honor passed down from one generation to another. “As boys, no less than as men, they did not lie, steal, or cheat, and they never shirked their duty.” These were the fathers of John McCain.

As Senator McCain relates his capture and subsequent imprisonment of more than five years we are amazed by his bravery and resilience. “Vietnam changed me in significant ways, for the better. It is a surpassing irony that war; for all its horror, provides the combatant with every conceivable human experience.” He noted that these experiences were transforming. “I know my life is blessed, and always has been.”

We have often heard war heroes express gratitude for their families and their values as they relate their story of survival. McCain did not only survive but triumphed. He returned from an incredible ordeal and continued to serve his country as a congressman and senator. We will soon know if McCain will also serve as president.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pickup Man

When we visited Nashville last Spring we heard this song by Joe Diffie on the radio and Mark loved it. I wish I could remember how to put the link here but go to You Tube and listen/watch the original version of "Pickup Man". It is funny to watch Mark who doesn't generally like country music smile and tap his foot while working at his computer listening to this song. Enjoy.

Our beautiful chestnut tree

Right outside our front door is a tree of gold today! This chestnut tree was planted about 15 years ago when we moved in and a neighbor, Irving Cohen planted a walnut in with our gamble oaks. It is so beautiful this week shining in the dull gold of the oaks. I have enjoyed seeing everyone post their fall pictures and you have inspired me to post mine. Fall has been just perfect this year and we are trying to take time to smell the...leaves.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Look at Tyf's blog for better pictures

I attempted to take "head shots" of my grandsons this weekend but sadly failed. They never stay still, their eyes, tongue, lips and heads jiggle constantly so here are a couple of my failures. They don't even look like this! To see better pictures of these very good looking boys you will have to look at Tyfani's new blog where she will have better pictures I am sure.

Book Review "Rebecca"

*The quiz doesn't really apply to my blog readers I realize since I added the picture of the first edition of this book, but below is the newspaper version.

Quiz question #1 what haunting tale of suspense begins with: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”? Now try it with an English accent. Oh come on! If you haven’t read the book I am sure you saw the Hitchcock movie version at least ten times on late night cable classics. You finally got it – “Rebecca”. If the newspaper editor put the title in huge type above this paragraph you get no points for getting it right.

Concluding the October celebration of monsters human and imaginary, I just finished reading the Daphne du Maurier 1938 masterpiece of suspense curled up by a warm fire listening to the soft background music of rain beating against my window. I was magically transported to the Manderley estate on the grey Cornwall sea coast, surrounded by thick woods behind a tall iron gate. The magnificent stone mansion is in fact one of the main characters in the novel. Rebecca, also a main character is deceased but haunts the present in its rooms and gardens. A sinister specter, her brilliant personality still dominates those who live at Manderley after her death, and casts a shadow over the young woman who replaces her as Max de Winter’s wife and is the narrator of the story.

Du Maurier curiously chooses to leave her narrator nameless. This unusual technique further emphasizes the contrast between Rebecca and the narrator. The narrator is so insignificant that she is not entitled to a name. The deceased Rebecca however was extraordinarily beautiful, supremely capable as a wife and hostess, and apparently perfect in every way. A mere mortal second wife cannot compete with a first wife who was a goddess. Max tries to reassure his second wife that she is troubled over nothing and in fact she brings him comfort and happiness. He has never told her that he loves her despite her earnest declarations, but rather pats her absently in the same manner he shows affection to his dog. The eerie house, the isolated location, the silent servants, and an emotionally distant husband create an atmosphere of foreboding.

The tension builds as the narrator becomes clumsier, more miserable and more fearful living in the dark shadow of Rebecca’s ghost. To add to the suspense, the menacing housekeeper Mrs. Danvers lurks around every dark corner hoping to further destroy any hope of happiness for the new mistress of Manderley. As readers we begin to worry that not only is the marriage in peril but the second Mrs. de Winter may be in mortal danger. The tragic ending is classic Du Maurier and does not disappoint the reader even if you have seen the movie. I hate to see four weeks of monster book fest end but “Rebecca” makes the farewell hauntingly memorable.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Our New Smoke Detector

With this economy, we decided we have to cut back on spending. We saw this smoke detector and knew it was a good choice. We may even purchase some of that lovely wallpaper to duplicate the decorating style . As designers would say -it really makes it pop! Actually, I have my former roommate Beth to thank for this photo. Since moving to the South, she has found a whole new comedy platform for her great sense of humor. Beth had to move, not because of her husband's job - she ran out of material in California.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

In honour (note Canadian spelling here) of my Canadian heritage, this post is dedicated to my family who will be feasting on Monday October 13th - Thanksgiving Day. May I say that this is a much better date to celebrate. It is far enough away from Christmas,there is still some food being harvested, and the chance for terrible roads for family to travel is much decreased.You know that motto for real estate that says what matters is: location, location, location? Well for Thanksgiving October is a much better location! I plan to write my congressman to get the US date changed - wait, he is not in his Washington office right now because he is campaigning.Our family is humouring (Canadian spelling again) me and posing with a greeting for all of our loved ones in the frozen North.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Book Look Review "Frankenstein"

By Mary Shelley

I enjoyed an illustrated version of the old classic “Frankenstein” as part of Monster Book Fest for October. That’s right; there is an illustrated edition at the library which is really terrific. It is part of the Whole Story series of classics that bring some of these best-loved tales to life with annotations on each page. The text is complete and unabridged but the illustration, maps and photographs explain the culture and customs to those of us reading about 1818 in 2008. Understanding the context of the era greatly enriches the reading of a classic and I plan to seek out more from this series.

Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” when she was only eighteen years old. One rainy night around the fireplace while vacationing on Lake Geneva Switzerland with artists and authors, Mary and the other guests were challenged to write a ghost story. Following a conversation about whether inanimate objects could be brought to life, she had a dream about a young scientist who creates a monster. I don’t know what this group was drinking that evening, but Mary’s nightmare soon became ours for the next 200 years.

Young Master Frankenstein, our mentally unstable and emotionally tortured lead character, has a burning passion to use electricity unwisely. Since little was known about this powerful element of nature it does seem unwise to monkey around with it – especially while still a college student. Like all young men of this age group Frank just went ahead without much planning ahead and gathered dead body parts. After connecting the limbs and ligaments, (I am picturing the ads for the “Body Worlds” exhibit currently on display in Salt Lake City) he zapped the very tall, really ugly human has-been with electricity. Oops - a gigantic mistake. What does he do about it? Frankenstein runs away in horror and has a mental breakdown for a few months while the creature roams about the Swiss countryside.

Of course the miserable creature with no name follows Frank and after several months of murder and mayhem, asks him to create a mate for him. You guessed it – Bride of Frankenstein. The creature is lonely. He wants to be happy and he knows the story of Adam and Eve now so he asks his creator for the same deal.

Mary Shelley has written a monster story that holds up through time. The enduring theme of loneliness and the need for love for all creatures creates pity in her readers. The more powerful theme, that is still current and newsworthy today, is man’s desire to dominate nature through scientific experimentation. Is cloning a good idea? Should we be manipulating DNA? Frankenstein would advise: “Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries.”

Monday, October 6, 2008

Our Sleepover at the Ranch - Male Bonding and Me

It turned out to be a boys night at the ranch this weekend, with me as the token female. Nice to know grandma is still allowed at these events. I didn't even cook! The guys BBQed for supper, Mark cooked breakfast, sandwiches and snacks were self-serve (except for the little boys). The picture of the male bonding ritual known as wrestling starts at an early age - fortunately so does reading stories by Uncle Jon at bedtime.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My husbands blog worthy comment

As we visited all the family blogs on this Sunday evening, my husband made a blog worthy comment. It is just a "blog eat blog world!". Not a man of many words, but every once in a while he comes out with something worthy of recording. He is such a philosopher as you can see from this picture of him contemplating the mysteries of life... in a hot tub!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


We must of course read scary books in October since it is the official, traditional, national celebration of terror . I reviewed 2 by Douglas Preston and Lincoln child in the Book Look column so here they arrrr abreviated. Enjoy some best selling li-terror-ature.

This monster story is set in the New York Museum of Natural History. It is a fictional setting with a basement that gives me the creeps. It has dark twisting hallways and mysterious cobweb draped storage rooms. There is a putrid dead thing odor swirling around the clammy corridors. Don't go down there! Why does the lovely Margo Green insist on working late in her subterranean office after all those murders? Can the dashing Special Agent Pendergast of the FBI save her from her own stupidity?
The monster on the loose is the reptilian beast named Mbun shipped in from a doomed expedition to South America many years before. The fiendish creature slashes his victims - and then suck out their brains. This public relations nightmare is happening on the eve of a grand opening for the "Superstition" exhibit. Will the museum directors still have the gala with the monster on the loose? Of course.
Relic has no romantic encounters to worry about but it has an abundance of violence. And remember what we all have learned from reading monster books - Don't go down there!

"Wheel of Darkness"
It all begins in a Tibetan monastery where FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast (I do so love the name of this character!) and his ward (do people really call themselves this anymore?) the brilliant, beautiful slightly damaged Constance Greene are recovering after their last traumatic adventure. The duo is asked by the monks to bring back a stolen relic with dangerous mystical powers. These powers could destroy the world! The quest sends them on the maiden voyage of the ship Britannia where the murderer is a passenger. But which passenger is the culprit, or could it be a crew member? The Britannia is no Love Boat. In the middle of the trans-Atlantic crossing crew and passengers begin dying at an alarming daily rate. The suspense builds with human and supernatural villains now roaming the decks.
This is a modern tale in living color and thus includes a lot of blood and gore. It is not for those who prefer an old fashioned black and white version where the murder victim expires with a gentle gasp and then falls conveniently to cover any seeping wounds.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The 12 Days of Halloween starts today!

You may not know about the 12 days of Halloween. When Dawson was 2 he wasn't too sure about the whole costumes and decorate with scary jack-o-lanterns holiday so I started the 12 days of Halloween to lead up and prepare the little tot for trick or treat. 5 years later I am locked in by that boy's perfect memory. Dawson is like your own personal day planner/family record keeper. He told his mom last year at Christmas with a shocked voice that people are copying the 12 days of Halloween for Christmas! I start on Oct. 1st so there is more time to enjoy each little gift. It is also about counting as you can see. The book this year is new out this year and my absolute 2008 favorite. "Bone Soup" based on the folktale "Stone Soup" about sharing what you have to make life better. The illustrations are amazing. Happy 12 Days of Halloween.