Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cave Man Spanish

          For years I have spoken beautiful, fluent Spanish.  Spanish that can bring you to tears.
          Or so I thought.  I learned a teeny bit attending Edith Bowen Elementary, a laboratory grade school.  Emphasis on teeny.  I retained numbers, colors, and three or four body parts.

          But I thought I spoke Spanish, so I never took it again in the upper grades.  Wrongo.  Incorrecto. 
          Fast forward and I have decided that an English/Spanish dictionary is all I need.  I am now looking up every word I want, and using it to speak with native Spanish speakers in Los Angeles, where I lived for twenty years.
          And here’s a bulletin about Hispanics: They’re too polite.  They tell you your Spanish is great, and they understand you perfectly. Okay, maybe they understand you, but trust  me: If you are speaking Spanish you taught yourself with a dictionary, you are speaking Cave Man Spanish. You are saying, “Me like this. I have happy. Here is you book.  Me go now.”
          But Latinos are basically nice. They don’t want to hurt your feelings, and unlike we English-speaking grammar fanatics, they have no need to correct you every time you open your mouth.  So they smile and nod, and you are led down the path to linguistic hell.  Okay, maybe not hell, but at least heck.
          Fast forward some more.  I am volunteering to help out in stores and all over the place, when someone speaks Spanish and a translator is needed.  I am totally happy to lend my expertise.
          And then a bit more fast forwarding and our son, Cassidy, returns from his LDS church mission to Argentina and says, “Mom, your Spanish is terrible.  You don’t even use soy.” 
          Soy?  As in edame?  I certainly do use soy! 
But now I suspect this is a critical Spanish word that has been missing from my repertoire (should have studied French), and sure enough, I look it up online and soy means I am.  Imagine speaking English without that auxiliary verb!  
And that’s not all.  There are all kinds of conjunctions and phrases missing from my Spanish and I realize now that when dozens of Spanish speakers have asked me where I learned my Spanish they weren’t meaning, “Wow, I’m so impressed,” but “Where on earth did you learn such dreadful Spanish?”
          Like I said, it can bring you to tears.

Fortunately, my books are available in English.  Find them here and get started early on your Christmas shopping!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Golden Review of GOLDEN

         "Readers will fall in love with the characters in this story."
          Wow.  An author dreams of a response like that, and I am humbled and delighted by Jennie Hansen's words about GOLDEN, my latest novel.  Today I'm sharing her review in Meridian Magazine with my blog readers:

reviewed by Jennie Hansen
          No one wants to enter the dark old mansion known as the Witch House. It’s actually a retirement home housing a dozen elderly people, but it’s poorly maintained. The landscaping is overgrown, the house is a dingy black color, and the interior is worse. When Jana Waterson and her seven month pregnant partner are assigned to visit teach a new resident there, she is appalled by the gloomy atmosphere. One of the elderly residents, a former nurse, recognizes the symptoms of preeclampsia in Jana’s partner who is quickly whisked off to the hospital. When Jana calls her husband, Ethan, who is the new bishop, he rushes to the hospital to give the woman a blessing. Thus begins the Waterson’s introduction to the house and its residents that soon become a major part in their lives and the lives of their ward members.
          The Waterson children insist they want nothing to do with the Witch House, but Ethan is more afraid of his calling as bishop than of the spooky old house. With the owners’ approval he takes on renovating the house as a ward project. Many ward members are reluctant at first to get involved, but little by little the various organizations agree to portions of the project and some of the children adopt the individual residents as unofficial grandparents.                       Conversions, an irate son, a visit from a television station, a convert who changes her mind, and a romance or two are just a few of the happenings that occur during the project. Most surprising are the discoveries concerning the old house. Most rewarding perhaps is the discovery that past fears and doubts can be overcome. Black can be turned to gold.
          Readers will fall in love with the characters in this story. Their doubts and fears are the type most of us struggle with. Each of the Watersons is a distinct personality with flaws, strengths, and personality quirks that make them realistic. Ethan and Jan’s interaction with each other and with their children strengthen the story. The residents of the senior facility are a great cross section of the elderly. Like people anywhere at any age they have likes and dislikes, they argue, they support each other. They also have memories they hold dear. They hold life dear too, and aren’t through living. Some are in wheelchairs and some rely on canes, but all are fiercely independent.
          Hilton includes many humorous situations and clever lines, but there is a serious side underlying the humor. The story acknowledges the regrets most of us have and the insecurities we feel in certain situations, but it allows her characters to grow and better understand the atonement. She shows how weaknesses can become strengths, mistakes can be overcome, the power of forgiveness, and shows how in helping others we also help ourselves become stronger and better. As the Witch House is transformed from a place no one wants to enter to a golden opportunity desired by almost everyone, a similar transformation takes place in the hearts of those who take part in the project. Being elderly doesn’t keep the residents who decide to be baptized from becoming pioneers, the first members of the Church in their families. The author manages all this cleverly with a fun story and no preaching.
         Joni Hilton is the author of twenty-four books, many magazine articles, and several award-winning plays. She is a regular feature writer for Meridian Magazine and also writes for Music and the Spoken Word. Formerly a TV talk show host, she now tours the U.S. as a corporate spokeswoman and a motivational speaker. She has held many leadership roles in her ward and stake and currently serves as ward Relief Society president. She and her husband live in California and they are the parents of four children.
          GOLDEN may be purchased as a 333-page paperback, or on Kindle.  You can also visit Hilton's website here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Really Great Debate

No sooner do I post a blog about dragging St. Bob to a home accessory store, than I have yet another encounter with the difference between men and women: Shopping with a grown son.
Our eldest son, Richie, is purchasing his first home, a three-story condo. Naturally you need more things as a homeowner than you do when renting an apartment, so he and I decided to stroll through WalMart and make a list.  This list will then be taken all over town to various stores, but we’ll start by seeing what WalMart has to offer.
It wasn’t long before I realized the disparity in how women see such a task, and how men see it.  “How about shoe racks?” I suggested.
Richie stared at me.  “I have three pairs of shoes.  Four, if you count sandals.” 
Okay, no shoe rack.  “How about some baskets, for organizing?”
He just stared at me.
“A mattress cover?”
“Isn’t that what the bottom sheet is for?” he said.
I tried to sell the idea of another layer of soft quilting, and one that would protect the mattress as well, but soon he was wandering off.
“Look at these big salad bowls,” I said, heading into the dinnerware section.
“When would I ever use one?” he asked.  Richie does not like salads, cannot understand eating leaves, and thinks lettuce is just for people who want to chew their water.
My suggestion of a step ladder was greeted with his arm in the air, reaching higher than I could climb on the ladder.  I guess a guy who’s 6’3” tall doesn’t worry about reaching high places.
“How about a pretty wall clock?” I asked, noticing the large, round ones decorators love to use.
He showed me his cell phone.  “And there’s a clock on my stove.”
Okay.  This list was going to be shorter than I expected, although Richie did point out that Halloween is coming and he doesn’t have a fog machine.
Finally we strolled past glassware and I said, “How about a vase?”
“For what?”
“For flowers!”
“Why would I have flowers?” he asked.
“Well, someone might give you flowers,” I said.
“Who would give me flowers?”
I sighed.  “A friend might want to congratulate you on your new home or something.”
Richie looked at me as if I have a screw loose.  “No one I know would think that I would want flowers.”
So, even though his eyes lit up when we passed Popsicle forms, I realized this move-in is going to be cheaper than I thought.   
And then we hit the electronics department.  “I’m definitely getting a bigger TV than you have,” he said. 
And the budget is now skyrocketing again.

Don’t worry—I have the perfect housewarming gift idea, if you know someone moving into a new home: One of my books!  Check them out here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

One Secret to a Happy Marriage

Something they don’t tell you when you get married, is how many places you are each going to be dragged to, by the other one.
          You may have noticed that I specialize in broad generalizations.  But here’s one that applies to most men: You will be dragged to countless wedding receptions, parties, his-and-hers baby showers, fabric stores, and craft faires.  Also jewelry stores, in which my friend, Bob Rogers, says, “Nothing good can ever happen for a man.”
          Women are dragged on motocross runs, to loud monster truck arenas, through the electronics store, to ninja movies, to guns-and-fishing sporting goods shops, and urged to attend numerous sports that don’t appeal to them. 
          And we go.  We go because we don’t want them to find a more agreeable partner, and also simply because we love them and want to support their weird choice without actually calling it a weird choice.
          So a fabulous new home accessory store opened up, and I couldn’t wait to drag, I mean take, St. Bob there with me.  I could almost feel my own eyes twinkling, as I imagined it. The store would be filled with irresistible pillows, rugs, vases, china, glassware, candlesticks, and lamps—all begging to beautify our home.
          Dutiful husband that he is, St. Bob came along.  In no time I found a gorgeous serving bowl.  Then I turned over the price tag.  “A hundred and sixty bucks?” I gasped.  I moved on to some luxuriously soft towels.  “Eighty dollars for a hand towel?”  Next I found a framed mirror that cost more than my first car.  And my second car.  Put together.
          I looked up at Bob and frowned, but persevered until we had walked every aisle and I had gone from eager anticipation to scowling aggravation.  “I hate this,” I said.
          Bob smiled.  “Whose idea was it to come here?” he asked.  “A, Joni or B, Bob?”
          “I also hate multiple choice questions,” I muttered.  This is not entirely true, but true when I know the answer and I don’t like it.
          Finally we made our way back to the car, Bob happy that Joni didn’t find anything to buy, and Joni mad for the same reason plus the fact that Bob seemed so delighted about it.
          I pouted for half a mile until Bob said, “How about some ice cream?” And that’s how to make marriage work.  
Another way is to buy each other books.  May I suggest my latest novel, Golden, in paperback or on Kindle?  And there are dozens (yes, dozens) of others here.