all the things I do in my hideaway

Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

J. R. R. Tolkien, Popcorn, and Life

On my desk at school, I have this card, laminated, to remind me often of the choices in my life.


Popcorn led me to discover Tolkien as an author before Hollywood did anything to make the books popular.  I am a “baby boomer,” which gives a hint to my age.  While attending BYU, I heard a speaker talk about the “Popcorn Theory,” which he had heard from someone else.  (My apologies, I don’t remember who shared this, I can’t give credit for the idea.”  I googled popcorn theory, but didn’t find this theory.)  This was presented in relation to being a successful student.  Simply stated, If you have completed all assignments for school that you have been given as far as possible on Saturday afternoon, you reward yourself with something “worth working for.”   For the speaker, this was “go to a movie and eat hot, buttered popcorn.”  Well, while I like the occasional movie, and popcorn is great (occasionally, but definitely not “movie popcorn”), I LOVE to read, explore library stacks, used book stores, buy books.  Substitute a “new/favorite/recycled/library/ebook” for “popcorn” and you have my formula for success as a university student.

One day, during my junior year, I bumped into a friend who had lived near me earlier in my college experience.  As we walked across campus, she mentioned a new book she had gotten from the campus bookstore.  “It’s about little people in Middle Earth known as hobbits.  They are short, live in wonderful designed homes that are holes in the ground, have hairy toes, and love to eat.”  She continued to talk about The Hobbit, and how much she was enjoying the story. At that point, I remembered (yes, remembered) the popcorn theory, and the studying necessary that week for my classes.  Time to conduct an unscientific experiment in the application of the theory.  I stopped at the bookstore that day, and took a copy home, placed it where I would see it, and studied the rest of the week so I could open that book.

This post isn’t about studying, directly, just the background into my love of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  Reading the Hobbit led to Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King.  My copies went with us when, as newlyweds, we moved to the Pacific Northwest, carrying all our “worldly goods” in a Dodge D500 that required one quart of oil with each tank of gas.  I reread those books, and, as time went on, “hooked” our oldest daughter.  She read the copies enough that I gifted her with the worn copies and bought a new set.  Those went to a son, who also loved them, and I now have my third set (in paper), and the ebooks.

The quote above, however, is one that has had great meaning to me.  It has become more meaningful as I watch the increasing darkness of the world around me.  Life has, for me, as for all, given me more “dark moments” than I had experienced that sunny day in Provo, Utah when I was introduced to Bilbo, Gandalf, and later, Frodo.  But the meaning of this exchange continues.

“The Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.  But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”     (The Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien, Chapter 2)

So, what to do with the time given me?

1. Time is a construct of man.  We use it to make sense of our world, to place events into a perspective, to measure limitations for successful completion of a task, be it baking cookies or building a magnificient building, a baby sleeping through the night, or the time required for Voyager to leave the solar system.  But each of us has within us a spirit that is eternal, outside of time, and that means I will continue to live, forever.  The fact that my experience in time is limited becomes more important, because this is my only opportunity to decide and do those things that will influence my “forever,”

2. The most important possession I have in time is my family.  I love each and every one of them, even those I only read about in our electronic family letter (currently go to about 130 families).  We are bound by common ancestors.  Those I know well are dear to my heart.  I think of them, I pray for them, I talk/email with them, and when possible, I visit them.  Some are as close as “down the street and up the hill,” while others are walking the streets of New Zealand, in the military installation of Kandahar, in Africa, and other areas of service throughout the world.

3.  I can’t imagine eternity without my family.

4.  I am blessed, beyond measure, to blessed to have been taught the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Member ship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons) is 15 million, a mere drop in the bucket of 7.2 billion.  Because of that, I am blessed with the opportunity and blessing of having my marriage sealed for time and all eternity in a House of the Lord.  (Learn more here. about temples and their purpose)

5. Though the world is darkening, I see light, constantly, because of my faith.  In fact, He said, “I am the Light of the world…”  (Click here for a video and more information.)

6.  I want others to know and experience the joy, the peace, and the confidence I have received by this great gift in my life.

So…the point of this post?

I choose to use my time as an example of Jesus Christ in my actions, to look always for the Light, and to share with others the message we, as members of His church, treasure.

Would you like to know more about…

Where did I come from?

Why bad/hard things happen to good people?

Why am I here?

Where am I going?

What can I do to strengthen my family?

How can I help my spouse, child, friend, neighbor….”

Here are a few links to help you…

All about the “Mormons

Who am I?

How can I know the truth?

Want to know more?  Click “Chat with us” on this page.

Click here to read my testimony of the truths to be found on these links.

The answer Gandalf gave Frodo can be applied by each of us to our lives.  Darkness is covering the earth, but the light always breaks through.  Sunday did come, and the Savior of the World rose from the tomb, conquering death, and that victory is eternal.  Darkness cannot destroy it.  Jesus Christ made the ultimate choice and sacrifice, because of love, for each one of us.  So the question to be answered, by each of us, is:

What will YOU do with the time that is given you?


P.S.  The popcorn theory worked for me in my studies.  Twice since receiving my B.S. degree, I have returned to college.  I used this each time to help me prioritize and stay focused.



Books, books, books….

Books, books, books…


My first visit to the public library is lost in the mists of my infancy.  Doubtless, knowing my mother and her great love for books, it occurred within the first few months of my life.  Certainly, it was well within the first two years.  I don’t remember the walks, but Mother tells of putting my baby sister in a buggy, my brother carefully sharing the space with her, as I walked at their side to the library.    Books were always under the Christmas tree and included in birthday gifts.

It was no surprise to my parents when, at four years of age, I learned to read.  Mother had been reading to me at an age, like the library visit, lost in those early mists.  She would have her children sit on the opposite side of the ironing board and hold the book so she could read to us and iron at the same time.  This she did until all her seven children could read for themselves.

The first book I remember reading, really reading myself, was a Little Golden Book, Chip and Dales’ Toy Train, featuring not only the chipmunks, but Donald Duck.  Grandpa and Grandma Ohlin were visiting us.  We lived just more than a mile away,  so we often were together.  I announced, “Grandpa, I can read.”  “No, Sylvia, you have the book memorized.”

Indignantly, I ran to the kitchen, crying, “Mommy, Grandpa says I don’t know how to read.”  Her response burned itself into my memory.  “Daddy, she can read.  Point to any word in the book and she will read it to you.”  I remember reading at least part of the book to my grandpa that day.

My first memory of the library isn’t until about third or fourth grade.  Our home was in the “country,” lots of a few acres where once farms had been.  Across the street, an enterprising developer saw the potential of the area, and built a small subdivision.  Connie and her family moved into one of the homes.   Connie was a year older than me, and we became friends.  She introduced me to the Nancy Drew mysteries.  I couldn’t wait to go to the library and check out some for myself.

Mom told me how to find them in the library, and I walked straight to the section where books by Carolyn Keene should be.  Nothing.  I looked and looked, but couldn’t find any of the coveted Nancy Drew books.  Disappointed, I told Mom they didn’t have any.  She suggested I ask the librarian and pointed out that very special individual.  The librarian smiled at my question, opened her desk drawer, and revealed a “stash” of the books.  She explained I could only check out two books so there would be some for other children to borrow.  She also explained the concept of “late” in regard to library books and asked if I would be able to read two books in the time allowed.  I believe  it a two week checkout.  Two weeks?  I could read those in a few days!  That drawer became my target each time we visited the library.

If we ran out of library books to read, Mom and Dad had purchased a set of encyclopedias, the Book of Knowledge set, and many other books, all neatly arranged in a floor to ceiling bookcase.  A veritable treasure house, just down the stairs from my bedroom.

We moved when I was fourteen years old, and to my joy, we lived right at a stop for the Bookmobile.  A Bookmobile looked a lot like a little school bus, with two doors.  The entrance was by the driver’s seat, and the length was lined with bookcases, filled with books.  There wasn’t a great variety, but I always found something I wanted to read.  I would walk the length of those shelves, choosing my books, then check out at the back.  Down a couple of steps, up the sidewalk, into my room, where my bed was waiting for me to curl up and READ!     If I requested a certain book, the librarians would try to find a copy and bring it to me.  This was “book heaven.”  Those wonderful women on that little mobile library became unseen friends two years later, when a serious illness confined me to bed for five months.  Each week, Mom would bring a stack of books to my bedroom, where I devoured them.  Often, included in the stack would be books the librarians had chosen especially for me.

During that time, I also received a special bag of books, chosen and delivered by my Aunt Ethel, a journalist on the local weekly newspaper.  Among the treasures were books that became most beloved.  The Yearling, Random Harvest, Freckles, and Girl of the Limberlost became a part of me during those months.  I also remember reading, for the second time, that wonderful story, Tale of Two Cities.  At times, Marilyn and Maurine, my youngest sisters who were twins, would come on the bed and I would read to them.  My bishop and his wife gave me a subscription to the Saturday Evening Post, so I would have something new to read each week.  What an exciting day that was each week as the world appeared in my bedroom.

The years passed, and each time I moved, the library was one of the first buildings I would locate.  I worked in the high school library as a service club member.  In college, I not only studied, but explored the literature provided in a university library.  A move to Oregon resulted in a library just down the street.  Seventeen months later, when my mother came to help at the birth of our first child, she walked down the street and brought back several Mary Stewart books, introducing me to yet another author I would enjoy.  Libraries in Kennewick, Washington, then Bellevue, Washington, became another home.  Now, I was taking my own children with me.  Meeting the librarians in the first month of life was a rite of passage.    A library card became a fifth birthday tradition.  My youngest daughter still treasures her card, her first name carefully printed on the card.  My children know the number on their card, and have refused to “upgrade” to the much fancier cards now available, because that would mean learning a new number.  Without your number, no electronic requests!

With the expansion of technology, and the busyness of teaching school, I have found new and fun ways to read.  Ebooks allow me to take a library on a trip, fitting neatly into my  “personal item” on an airplane    Books on CD accompany me on my drive to and from the school, to the shopping center, and to church on Sundays.  Audiobooks on my computer have replaced the TV as entertainment as I sew, fold laundry, and dress for the day.  Once again, someone else reads favorites to me.  My love of reading has brought me full circle.  Where once my mother read childrens books to me, talented readers now read favorites, bringing to life the characters, just as my mother did many years ago.

Oh,  paper books have not disappeared from my life.  Electronic catalogs make it possible to request a book from my county library system (advertised as “biggest and best in the nation”), and, a few days later, drop into the nearest branch library to pick it up.  Even better, I can walk the mile to a recently completed branch library and pick up my books.  What a deal!  Exercise and books, at the same time!

And, on my book shelves are great treasures.  Little Women, given to my mother for Christmas when she was 9 years old by her sister, Amber,  then given to me ten years ago.  I read it at the same time my friend, Gaylyn, next door, read it.  (Sixth grade was a very good year for books.)  The first chapter book I read, Heidi, was also my mother’s book.  A Children’s Friend Storybook, the last gift from Grandma Ohlin, is dated 3/17/1952.

From Chip and Dale to Dickens, Keene to Stevenson, Shakespeare and Dickens to Principles of Immunology,  Hawthorne to Rowling, Twain to Organic Chemistry, Buck to Foundations of Education, and always, always, the word of the Lord as found in the scriptures… books…my friends…gateway to the world.

Now, I am looking for a book the library doesn’t have…Amazon, here I come.

P.S. Any recommendations?  I’m always looking for books to add to my “reading wish list!”




Musical alarm clock today…



I awoke early this Thanksgiving morning with the tune and words of a hymn running through my mind.  “For the beauty of the earth…” seemed to wind through those early moments of consciousness.  As I listened to the celestial choir in my mind, examples wove their way into my thanks.  The verses continued, and I felt the need to share with you this morning.  May your day be one of gratitude and rejoicing, filled with love from friends on earth and friends above.

For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies.

For the love which from our birth, over and around us lies.

For the beauty of each hour, of the day (the incredibly bright rainbows I’ve seen this fall) and of the night

Hill (Mt. Olympus) and vale (Norris Geyser Basin) and tree and flow’r.  Sun and moon, and stars of night (the Milky Way from a secluded camp)..

For the joy of human love, brother Steve and Brent), sister (Kathy, Carol, Marilyn, Maurine), parent (Mom and Dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins), child (Suzanne, who added Glen, then Aidan and Ryan; Jenn, who brought Matthew; Deborah;  Robert, who added Katherine;  Ben;  Bekah; and Rachel).

Friends on earth (Marilyn, Nancy, Annette, Louanna, Carrol, Linda, Megan, Julie, Ethel, the list continues),  and friends above (Linda, Rene, Debbie,…) .  For all gentle thoughts and mild.

For the truths from teachers wise (too many to name) , for the words from fertile minds  (all the writers I’ve learned to love and read).

For the heroes I daily find, walking through the sands of time (Jesus, Enoch, Captain Moroni, Joseph Smith, Jean Valjean, Sidney Carton, Aslan,…).

For the gift of earthly life.  Body, spirit, heart, and mind.

Heart to love and hands to serve.  God’s good work to do on earth.

For the daily simple deeds, waking, sleeping, working, play.

Daily learning how to lead, how to follow the Master’s steps.

For the gift of ears to hear, voices speaking from the dust.

Leading to eternal life, teaching patience, truth, and love.

For the daily simple deeds, waking, sleeping, working, play.

Daily learning how to lead, how to follow the Master’s steps.

Lord of all to thee I raise, this my hymn of grateful praise.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights…”  James 1:17

“Food for Thought” book cover

I spent most of the past two weeks in Salt Lake City.  Along with visiting family and friends, I stopped at Quilts, Etc.. a wonderful little shop on two corners of an intersection.  You read that right.  The northeast and southeast corners have wonderful little buildings just stuffed with fabric, patterns, and notions, designed to part any quilter from the money in their pocket (and on your credit card, if you aren’t careful).  What do quilters do, besides spend money?  They talk to the other quilters.  Everyone is a friend in a quilt shop.  So, when I found some fabric with books (not pictured on this blog, might be used for gifts in the future), I was asked what I could do with it.

Well, in addition to quilting (and working so I have money to buy fabric), I love to read.  Give me a book, and I am happy.  Hardback, paperback, and now, on my Kindle Fire, books are wonderful.  For travel, my Kindle is so much easier than carrying all the books I might want to read.  However, nothing beats a book in the hand, curled up on the couch/bed/, in the apple tree, on a blanket under the tree, on a bus; you get the idea.  Here is one thing to do with great fabric.  The food looked good, hence the title…

Paperback Book Cover (fits a standard paperback book.  Adjust as needed for other size books.)


Main fabric, cut 1 piece 8 in.x 17 in.

Lining, cut 1 piece 8 in. x 10 in.

Interfacing for both pieces

Ribbon for the book mark


Ready for sewing.  I like to leave a little bit of fabric not covered by the interfacing.  Your choice.  Hem the short ends of the main fabric.  I used a single fold over and a zigzag stitch.

Now to pin the pieces together so that when you turn everything right side out, everything is in the right place!  This is the only “hard” part of the project.


Fold in equal amounts on the hemmed edges, leaving 10 inches for the cover.  Note placement of the bookmark ribbon.  This is where you want to put it!  Trust me, I have had vast experience with a seam ripper!  Don’t determine length of ribbon yet.  You will need more than you might think.


Tuck the ribbon inside.  Remember, your seam ripper gets enough experience on other projects.  None needed here.


Pin everything in place.  Sew across the top and bottom, 3/8 inch seam.  Turn, press.


Put a book in the cover.  Place the bookmark in the front of the book, then decide how long to cut the marker.  Finish end of ribbon with Fray Check.

Find someplace to curl up and enjoy!