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Never Mix Perfume and Listerine ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2009
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, Urban Botanic, parfum, perfume, fragrance, bath, body, lotion, funny, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)


Image from Karlene Browning's Urban Botanic website.

Even though I had a cold last Saturday (January 24), I went to Karlene Browning's Urban Botanic Make and Take, anyway. It was a blast! I don't usually do the party thing—you know, Tupperware parties, Pampered Chef parties, Learn to Knit Underwear for Your Significant Other parties—and I want you to know I'm not just saying the Make and Take was fun in order to be polite.

For those of you who don’t know what an Urban Botanic Make and Take is, it’s a workshop that allows you to create your own fragrance for bath and body. With Urban Botanic’s patented method, you learn how to combine your favorite U.B. perfume oils until the fragrance is just right. Then, you add it to a base to make perfume, lotion, shower gel, and bubble bath.*

You don’t have to be a chemist or a rocket scientist to create a fragrance, nor do you need a college degree … you just need a nose.

Now that I’m a seasoned parfum maker, I have a few words of advice to offer for anyone who might be interested. No, not interested in hearing my sage advice, interested in going to one of Karlene’s parties.

1. Don't miss Karlene's next one.

2. Try not to have a cold, as a nose that feels like someone has packed two caribou and a grizzly bear up it is not helpful to your sniffing experience.

3. Do not take along Listerine Breath Strips to give you whiter teeth and fresher breath. After popping one of those in your mouth, it takes several swigs of water before the scents of lavendar, lemon, white musk, and juniper no longer smell like Listerine, Listerine, Listerine, and Listerine. (I know this because I innocently popped in a breath strip shortly after arriving at Karlene’s house.)

4. Ponder what you'd like to name your personal fragrance ahead of time.

The first fragrance I created consisted of an almond-strawberry infusion. It smelled lovely. I sat there inhaling it, dreaming of fairies riding through the woods in a strawberry coach pulled by tiny, cream-colored bunnies. In the middle of my fantasy, a woodland sprite appeared. Her hair shone in the sun like spun gold, and in a voice that sounded suspiciously like Karlene Browning, she said, "What will you name your creation?”

I shot out of the daydream like a stone from a slingshot. What? I had to name my fragrance? Why wasn’t I warned of this? Surely something as vital as naming a perfume required advance planning—something along the order of what’s required to run for President of the United States. There are tag lines … and sound bites … and photo ops … and … oh, wait. Maybe all I had to do was simply pick a name.

Then the pressure mounted. I’m a writer, and allegedly have an imagination. My special fragrance needed a name that sang, that had originality, rhythm, daring-do. I looked blankly at Karlene. “Umm, so, I have to call it something, huh?”

Karlene nodded.

I stared at my bottle of newly created parfum. I shook it, smelled it again and stalled for time. The clock ticked and the minutes crept by. Arrgg! Everyone is going to know I’m a fraud of a writer—I can’t think of a name!

Finally, out of desperation, I wrote down the only two words that came to mind for my custom-scented fragrance. I showed it to Karlene and said, “Will that work?”

Karlene smiled and said, “Yes, I think Almond-Strawberry does a good job of describing it.”

Five minutes too late, it came to me. “Wait, I know what it should be called—Woodland Sprite!”

Everyone grinned, nodded, and I felt vindicated as a writer. And as a fragrance creator.

Today, as I sit writing this blog entry, my new bottle of Urban Botanic parfum sits next to my keyboard. I’ve sprayed some on my wrists and would love to spend more time telling you about its mysterious, elusive scent … but my strawberry coach pulled by cream-colored bunnies awaits me and I must be off to the woods … to dance with the fairies and sprites.



*From Karlene Browning's Urban Botanic website.


What's playing in my head: Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles.

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NyQuil, Wonderful NyQuil

© Cindy Beck, 2009
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, illness, accident, cold, sore throat, black plague, medical theory, NyQuil, Band-Aid, Scope, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)

It’s that time of year when illnesses and accidents abound, and when we rely on doctors and medicine to get us through colds, sore throats, and the black plague. However, I have noticed, on occasion, that the theoretical world of medicine and the real world of … well, the real world … clash.

Medical Theory: A cold will dissipate in seven days and an over-the-counter cold remedy helps alleviate symptoms.

Real Life: My cold improves in six days, but only to lull me into complacency. It leaps out in full force on the seventh day, causing my nose to drip—in church—when I have no tissues. I rush home and hunt for an over-the-counter remedy. I throw fluffy cotton balls and sturdy Q-tips onto the floor in my haste to find something that will help. Then a thought occurs to me. Pulling two Q-tips from the container, I stuff them halfway up my nose to temporarily stop the drip, and then go back to the hunt. Finally, in a dark corner of the linen closet, I find it. Aaahhh, NyQuil (sigh of relief), wonderful NyQuil, blessed NyQuil ... with an expiration date of January 2, 1964. I mumble, “Who cares? It will only work that much better,” and chug the whole bottle. Yes, now I feel less drippy. I explain to my husband, Russ, that he’ll need to fix supper because I’ll be too busy watching the pretty lights that circle my head like a halo. Sighing contentedly, I realize it’s better living through chemistry. I reach to scratch an itch on my upper lip …and accidentally poke myself in the eye.

Medical Theory: A minor cut, such as an accidental, shallow slice with a kitchen knife will heal with ointment and a Band-Aid.

Real Life: My shallow, minor cut drips a blood trail as I rush to the bathroom. I elevate the finger to avoid a significant loss of life-giving fluids and as the blood runs to my elbow, I try to open—one-handed and with my non-dominant hand—a box of Band-Aids. The box won’t open. Forgetting that I have a shallow, minor cut, I pound the box with my dominant hand. A pattern of blood spatter, worthy of a CSI Miami episode, flings across the wall. Electing to leave it there until my minor cut heals, I look for the first aid ointment. It’s a new tube … in a box. Giving up, I suck the blood from my finger until it quits bleeding.

Medical Theory: A facial blemish will heal quickly with an application of a topical anti-acne ointment.

Real Life: I wake up to a blemish the size of the Staten Island Ferry. Remembering the medical profession’s advice, I apply an anti-acne cream. My face turns red and develops blotches from the stuff. The blemish pulsates and burns. I wash off the cream, hoping that will help. The blotches on my face spread to my neck, and my lips swell. I look like an African Ubangi warrior.



The blemish, however, still shines like a lighthouse in the fog, so I try an old pioneer remedy—mouthwash. I pour Cool Mint Scope onto a cotton ball, and dab it on the blemish. Holy cow—it stings like fire! In a knee jerk reaction, I fling the bottle of Scope and the cotton ball. The mouthwash splashes all over the floor and the cotton ball sticks to the mirror. Stepping forward to remove it, my foot slips on the mouthwash. In a manner resembling Wile E. Coyote when he’s been bested by the Roadrunner, I flip in the air and tumble to the floor. A bump the size of Manhattan raises on my forehead, but at least now, no one will notice the blemish on my nose. I stagger out of the bathroom and down the hall, where I encounter Russ. He says, “Did you know you have a blemish? And how come you smell like mouthwash?”

Whereupon, I realize that Dr. Gregory House of the TV show, House, is actually just an actor named Hugh Laurie, and the medical profession's suggestions aren't really any more effective than a bottle of Scope.

(Disclaimer: This blog post is all in fun. Please do not chug NyQuil or stick Q-tips up your nose ... unless advised to by a member of the medical profession.)

What's playing in my head: Lime in the Coconut by Kermit the Frog.

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And while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, our newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

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A Contest You Might Find Interesting

Just wanted to take a quick minute of serious thought (a minute is about the longest I can stay serious)to let you know about a contest taking place on a fellow LDS author's blog: Not Entirely British by Anne Bradshaw.

From now until Feb. 28th, the contest is open to all mystery and suspense enthusiasts, and author, G. G. Vandagriff, is offering a set of her fascinating Arthurian Omen CDs as the prize.

To enter, click on this link, Not Entirely British and follow Anne's instructions. Good luck! (But not too much luck because I'm entering the contest, too! :)

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Dried Plum Digestive Month ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2009
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, holidays, observances, 2009, Presidential inauguration, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)



In the dreary days of January, when ice storms wipe out the power in half the country, and the credit card bills from Christmas wipe out the savings accounts in the other, it’s vitally important to have something to look forward to. Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition, and no, I was not in reference to looking forward to the Presidential Inauguration. With all the media hype taking place, that’s more like looking forward to a root canal.

So, here it is—fresh from someone’s demented mind—a list of monthly, weekly, or daily reasons to party. And if it turns out you missed the celebration already, there’s always next year.

JANUARY MONTHLY OBSERVANCES

California Dried Plum Digestive Month (all month): First, let me point out that the California Dried Plum Board obviously is too ashamed to call a spade a spade. Or in this case, a prune a prune. I vote for renaming them the Old Dried Prune Board. And because of the effect that dried “plums” have on most of us—as well as to provide balance and harmony in the universe—I propose a National Kaopectate Month in February.

International Change Your Stars Month (all month): Okay, I’m game for this. I’d like to exchange the North Star for Betelgeuse. No, not BeetleJuice the movie, but the red, supergiant star whose name sounds a lot like BettleJuice.

Oh wait, maybe they didn’t mean that kind of star. In that case, I’d like to change my husband, Russ, into Cary Grant.

Hmm, that might be a problem since Cary Grant is dead. Guess I’ll take Pierce Brosnan instead.

Oatmeal Month (all month): I’m thinking they meant Oatmeal Cookie Month, because no one in their right mind would eat oatmeal for an entire month. Okay, I take that back, Russ would … but I did say, “no one in their right mind.”

JANUARY WEEKLY OBSERVANCES

Silent Record Week (Jan. 1-7): What kind of records? Computer records? Criminal records? Vinyl records? Your guess is as good as mine … but ssshh, guess quietly.

Cuckoo Dancing Week (Jan. 11-17): I’m not sure if the National Cuckoo Board means dancing with the cuckoos in the clock, or the cuckoos in the mental hospitals. At any rate, I’m sure I’d prefer performing the foxtrot with a little wooden bird, over attempting the tango with a guy wielding a chain saw.

Oh, maybe I should send that idea in to Tom Bergeron and Dancing with the Stars. Freddie Krueger could be one of their celebrity dancers.

National No Tillage Week (Jan. 14-17): With the possible exceptions of the residents of Texas (home of Tommy Lee Jones, Gila monsters, and rattlesnakes), Florida (home of the hanging chad and alligators big enough to eat a man), and California (home of the “Governator”), I doubt anyone in the U.S will have a problem not tilling during these short four days.

Yah, sure, you betcha … especially in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 frozen lakes … and in Salt Lake City, the land of the frozen inversion.


JANUARY DAILY OBSERVANCES

Judgment Day (Jan. 17): You can all breathe a sigh of relief. Judgment Day was last Saturday and since you’re here, reading this, you were not banished to outer darkness.

Answer Your Cats’ Questions Day (Jan 22): Honest, I am not making this up, because if I were, it would be called, Ask Your Cat a Question Day. I always wanted to know what mouse tastes like … but not enough to try one.

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day (Jan. 26): Let me just say, for the record, that I am eternally grateful for bubble wrap. But not as grateful as I am that Judgment Day is over and I’m still here.


What's playing in my head: Day-O by Harry Belafonte.

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Flu-written, Not Flea-ridden ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2009

(Keywords: Cindy Beck, flea, flu, sick, influenza, CDC, ice cream, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)



My blog entry today is flu-written. No, I did not say flea-ridden. Flea-ridden is what happens when you saddle a flea and ride it. Flu-written means you wrote something while coughing your head off and wishing you’d gotten the influenza shot last fall. You know—the vaccination the CDC now thinks was for the wrong viral strain.

Since some of you may actually be coughing and hacking yourself, I thought I’d share a list of items that make it easier to function while living with, or dying of, the flu.

1. Laptop computer. Lie on the couch and prop your laptop on your knees. In your weakened condition, you would slide onto the floor if you tried to sit at a desk, anyway. Play a few computer games to sharpen your mind for your upcoming nap.

2. Kleenex. The closer the box sits, the quicker you stop drips. For ease of use, place the box on your forehead. Expect that in your hazy condition, the trashcan will appear farther away than it actually is, so save your energy and drop the used tissues on the floor. When your spouse asks about the three-foot-deep layer of wadded Kleenex, blame the kids. If he/she notices “Gorg, the Barbarian Warrior,” is loaded on your laptop and asks why, say you’re balancing the checkbook online.

3. Motrin. The bigger the better—a giant, 5000 mg tablet would definitely stop the ache in your joints—but then, it might be tough to get that down your sore throat. Try dipping it in honey first.

4. Cough medicine—the kind whose label warns of a visit by drug enforcement officers if you tell anyone it's in the house. Take a tablespoon or six and watch how quickly your cough stops. Lick the drip on the edge of the bottle, just to insure you’ve had enough. You might see pretty lights and feel sleepy. Gorg, the Barbarian, may jump off the screen and actually speak to you. Don’t worry; it’s just the effects of the flu. Take a few more tablespoons of cough syrup to counteract it.

5. Ice cream. Ignore your doctor’s orders to avoid sugar because it inhibits healing. What does he know? His thirty years of study at Harvard haven’t made him any smarter than you. Consume a gallon or two of Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream—just to prove him wrong and cheer you up.

6. Thermometer. This is the most important item in your flu-fighting arsenal. Take your temperature every few minutes. If it shows normal, run it under really hot water to kill the germs. Then, look at it again. See? You’ve got a temperature of 210degrees! It’s a wonder you even have the strength to wad up Kleenex. If your spouse asks you to walk the dog or run to the grocery store, reply with a racking cough and the words, “But, I’m a sickie with a fever.” Your partner needs to understand you’re far too weak to do anything but sit and chat with Gorg, the Barbarian.

I hope these tips have helped. I’m sure I could think of more, but the thermometer shows I’m running a temperature, so I can’t do work of any kind. Besides, it’s been five minutes since my last dose of cough syrup and I’d better take a cup or two.

Aaahh, that’s better.

Oh, and one more thing. Before I leave to get a gallon of ice cream from the freezer ... Gorg, the Barbarian, says to tell you hello.

(Disclaimer: This blog is all in fun. Do not consume large amounts of Motrin or cough syrup, no matter how bad your symptoms. But hey, the gallon of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream might be okay.)

What's playing in my head: A legion of germs, making me all "snuffed up" (as my granddaughter would say) and achy.

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Faster than a Speeding Building ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2009

(Keywords: Cindy Beck, games, tag, Superman, greased lightning, Karlene Browning, world peace, Scouting, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)


You may recall me saying before that I love the game of tag. When it came to playing it as a kid, my friends thought I was Superman. Yup, able to run faster than a speeding building and jump a single bullet in a bound. Or something like that.

Well, okay, maybe my speed wasn't quite up there with Superman, but I was as fast as greased lightning.

All right, all right, probably not even greased lightning … more like a greased caterpillar. Which explains why I haven’t written up the “Eight Things” that Karlene Browning (InkSplasher) tagged me with on December 5th. As a greased caterpillar, I have a very hard time keeping my feet under me, much less moving forward.

Listed below are “Eight Things,” which I’m sure you’ll find amusing, amazing, and amazonian. Well, not really amazonian. I just used that word because it started with “A” and went well with amusing and amazing.

Eight Things I’m Looking Forward To:

1. A new U.S. presidency.

You’ll notice I didn’t say which president, or in what year. And nope, I’m not going to tell you which candidate I voted for.

Wait, that last sentence is structured incorrectly. A good writer should never end a sentence with a preposition. And while I have no clue what a preposition is, I don’t want to use one of them to end my sentences with.

Back to whom I voted for. I’m not going to tell you because my momma didn’t raise no dummy, and if I tell, someone might use a rock to hit me in the head with.

2. World peace.

Hmm, hasn’t every Miss America since the Stone Age asked for peace? Now that I think about it, that explains why Utah’s Miss Farm Hand never won the crown. The judges thought she asked for whirled peas.

3. An end to hunger.

I’m thinking Utah’s Miss Farm Hand could help by planting her whirled peas all over the earth. She’d be like Johnny Appleseed, who walked around with a pot on his head, planting apple seeds across the land.

I’ve always thought of Johnny Appleseed as a true conservationist, who left a legacy in apple trees for all those who followed. Russ thinks he was a nut, hearing voices that commanded him to wear a pot as a chapeau.

4. Wow, I still have three more things to list?

I don’t think I’m gonna make it.

5. A warm and wonderful spring.

When we were young and dating, my someday-to-be husband, Russ, used to write poetry for me—verse like, “Pumpkin seed better than weed, but prune juice set you free.” I appreciated it. I loved it.

I had no clue what it meant.

Now that I think about it, I’d say he compares to Browning. No, not the poet—the rifle.

One year Russ recited this limerick for me:

Spring is sprung,
The grass is riz,
I wonder where the flowers is.

They be not here,
They be not there,
I guess they bees not anywhere.

It sounded just like something he would create, so at the time I assumed the thoughts were his own. Imagine my surprise to discover, many years later, that he was not the original author. Imagine my relief to find that somewhere, some poor woman had a husband just like mine, whose poetry was … well … unique. Only his name was Anonymous instead of Russ.

6. Wow, I still have two more things to list?

I wonder if I’m going to make it.

7. Being released from Scouting.

The bishop asked me to take over as the Bear Cub Scout Leader. Me, a gray-haired, under-tall-rather than-over-weight ol’ lady whose age is pushing … well … let’s just say I ain’t a spring chicken. Tomorrow I’ll run the first meeting with six little boys in attendance. Cute little boys, fun little boys, exuberant little boys.

It's not the little boys that are the problem. It's all that Scouting paperwork.

8. Finishing this blog entry.

I’m looking forward to completing this article, along with finishing the bag of tortilla chips on my desk. Once the chips are gone, I look forward to finishing the Cheetos, Fritos, and Cadbury bar in my pantry. Ooo, and Twinkies. There must be Twinkies in that pantry, somewhere.

As it turns out, there were supposed to be five or six topics of eight things in the game. Stuff like, “Eight things on my wish list, eight TV shows I like to watch, eight things that happened yesterday,” etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. (For those of you who like meaningless statistics, you’ll notice I used eight etceteras.)

It seems I must be just a little long-winded, though, and the first group of, “Eight Things I’m Looking Forward To” took approximately 800 words. But then again, who’s counting?

At some point in the future, I’ll do the others. In the meantime, just remember … pumpkin seed better than weed, and prune juice set you free … for whatever good that does you.

Oh yeah, and it's my hope that until then, we'll have whirled peas.


What's playing in my head: The Johnny Appleseed Song by Dennis Day.

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Never Kiss a Llama ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2009
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, advice, llama, loogie, shower, fire, battery, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)

In today’s frustrating world of plague, pestilence, and boys’ pants that fall off their butts, life can seem annoying and exasperating. Therefore, out of the kindness of my heart and love for my readers—okay, mostly because I had a blog due for the Neighborhood—I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned that make life easier.

1. No matter how cuddly they look, never kiss a llama.



I’m sure the logic here is clear, but if not, I’ll expound. Llamas like to spit. I don’t mean just flinging a small dab of saliva; I mean the real thing. As they say in the hood, “That dude can hock a loogie!”



Although I’ve never actually been nailed by a llama, I’ve had close encounters of the worst kind. Take my word for it, the last thing you want is a blob of llama loogie hanging from your lips.

2. Never shower naked. As soon as you do, a fire will start in your kitchen or a terrorist will blow up your car, at which point you’ll be forced to jump out of the shower and run through the house as naked as the day you were born. Only taller and a whole lot heavier. And dripping a lot more water.

Even though no one has blown up my car lately … okay, ever … my hot water heater once developed a sudden urge for toasted marshmallows and lit the wall on fire—while I was in the shower. And naked, of all things. I’d tell you more about it, but I have to save some thoughts for another day.

3. Never lick frosting off a sharp knife. (I’ve referred to this fleetingly in the past, and you can read about it here.) The other day I noticed my knives felt dull, so I thought it safe to use a steak knife as a spatula, and frosted a cake with it. Since food on a knife-turned-spatula does not count as real food, there are no calories. Grasping this perfect opportunity by the horns …er, I mean, handle … I ran my tongue over the creamy chocolate that covered the dull edge. Kemo Sabe now speak with forked tongue.

4. Never recharge a battery by attaching it to wires and sticking them in an electrical outlet. This may seem elementary to most people, but not to my whiz-kid son, who tried it. The loud “zzzzzzzzzt” and the fact that the lights flickered should have been a clue for him. I think, however, it was the singed eyebrows that convinced him it wasn’t such a hot idea. Or maybe that it was a hot idea!

No, I am not a neglectful mother. He was working on a Scouting merit badge. No, the merit badge instructions did not suggest he stick wires into an electrical outlet. He came up with that bright idea on his own.

5. Never pray for snow. Just before Christmas, my friend, Nichole Giles, bought snow toys for her kids. Pleasant Grove was snowless, so she asked me to pray for the fluffy stuff. I’m sure it was because she felt I had a hotline to heaven. Okay, maybe not. It was probably because she knows I have faith in prayer. Well, all right, it wasn’t that either. It was because I happened to be the one she was emailing at the time.

Before I had the chance to even do much more than think about praying for snow, the stuff started falling … and falling … and falling. Nichole pleaded with me to stop praying. (See Nichole’s Musings.)

Another friend who lives in Pleasant Grove, Karlene Browning, will come after me with an Uzi (not that she's the violent type or anything) when she finds out I'm the one who is at least partially responsible for the fluffy-turned-despicable stuff that fell in her backyard. All seventeen inches of it. (See InkSplasher.)

Honest, I didn’t ask for that much snow! However, I do apologize to the entire town of Pleasant Grove, Utah (population 29,376) and promise I’ll never even think about praying for snow again.

But hey … if they need rain in the spring, they should feel free to call me.


What's playing in my head: The Rain, the Park and Other Things by the Cowsills. (I must be longing for spring if that song is in my head.)

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A Country Boy... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2009
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, music, jukebox, John Denver, country, suburbs, camping, RV, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)




They say you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. I'm here to tell you it's true for those raised in the suburbs, as well.

It was our first campout, and being raised in suburbia, my husband, Russ, didn’t realize that the sun rose early, and birds started chirping at 4:00a. The man who slept through buses rumbling past the house at all hours of the night, and snoozed through parties happening around him, couldn't sleep past 5:00a because of Mother Nature’s noises.

Russ got up, pulled on jeans and a flannel shirt, unzipped the tent and peeked out the door.

His brother-in-law, Bob—who’d invited us on the campout—peeked back from a nearby tent. So it was, while the rest of the campers slumbered on in innocent bliss, unaware of what was about to transpire, the two of them stepped forth into the chilly morning air and wandered over to the campground’s pavilion.

Sitting in a corner of the pavilion, calling out to them, was a jukebox.

I know, that doesn’t sound like camping … a pavilion with a jukebox sounds more like a 1950’s diner. At any rate, the music called out and they strolled over to it. Looking over the selections, Russ saw one by John Denver, whom he really liked.

Russ searched his pockets and found a quarter. Yup, one quarter was all it called for, because this was back during the age of dinosaurs, when gasoline was fifty cents a gallon, a loaf of bread was … well … I don’t know how much it was, but it was cheap. And milk came from the cow.

Okay, you got me there. Milk still comes from the cow, but now it’s pasteurized, homogenized, specialized, and all manner of “ized.”

The quarter clinked as Russ deposited it, then the jukebox whirred softly, its arm hovering over the 45’s until it found the correct one.

Wait. Maybe I’d better back up. For those of you who grew up with MP3 players and iPods, a jukebox is a flashy machine that sits in fast food joints (and under one camping pavilion, in one forsaken campground, in one corner of the northern hemisphere) so that the customers can purchase tunes, which they listen to while eating.

No, they don’t carry the jukebox around with them, attached to their ears by a little wire.

No, they don’t download anything.

No, the music isn’t in a Window’s media file format. It’s scratched into a vinyl thinga-ma-bobby that’s about six inches in diameter. It’s called a 45. No, not a 45 caliber, just a 45.

Back to Russ and the jukebox. As I said before, the jukebox whirred softly, its arm hovered over the glistening vinyl records and with a clunk, it pulled out John Denver and plopped him onto the turntable.

Well, it didn’t plop John Denver himself onto the turntable, it plopped his recording there.

Russ smiled at Bob in anticipation. Bob smiled back. The arm in the jukebox slowly lowered …

No, no, not a human arm—this is not a Stephen King novel—the mechanical arm slowly lowered, its needle touched the vinyl with a soft scritch and …

“Well, life on the farm is kinda laid back, ain't much an old country boy like me can’t hack.”

The words of the song blared from the speakers, and bounced off tents and camping trailers.

People sprang from their sleeping bags. Some grabbed guns, while others leaped out of their recreational vehicles through screened windows and dashed headfirst into the support poles of their RV awnings.

Russ and Bob looked at each other with wide eyes, and ran for all they were worth, back to our campsite. They arrived huffing and puffing, out of breath, just as John Denver’s last line echoed across the campground.

“Thank God I’m a country boy. Yeeeee ha!”

In the stunned silence that followed, Russ whispered, “Dang, I didn’t expect it would sound so loud.”

If it were me at that jukebox, I’d have played something civilized, like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” by the Beatles, and I would’ve checked the volume before I dropped in the quarter.

But not Russ.

And it just goes to show you. You can take the boy out of the suburbs, but you can’t take him out in the country … because given the chance, he’ll wake everyone up.

What's playing in my head: Thank God I'm a Country Boy by John Denver.

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A Blank Slate ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2009
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, New Year's resolutions, lose weight, exercise, chocolates, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, yourLDSNeighborhood.com)




One of life’s joys is that a new year rolls around once every 365 days, thereby giving us a blank slate on which to scribble utterly unattainable goals for self-improvement. Things like, lose ten pounds or exercise seven days a week.

One of my blogging friends from the Neighborhood, Cheri Crane, suggested making a list of “things I have accomplished” over the past year, instead of making resolutions. That way, we have positive reinforcement to refer to during the upcoming months. And that’s what I’ve decided I’d do.

Okay, not really, but Cheri had such good ideas that I thought if I slipped in her blog address, you might go check it out.

This year, I’ve come up with totally achievable goals that I intend on keeping. Here—in no particular order and at no cost to you—are a few that you can feel free to add to your own compilation. Just send me two dollars and a box of chocolates for each resolution used.

1. Gain ten pounds.
2. Oh what the heck, why be stingy? Gain fifteen.
3. Vaccuum once a month.
4. Forget vacuuming and use a broom.
5. Throw out the broom and talk hubby into doing the cleaning.
6. Take more naps.
7. Take longer naps.
8. Forget the naps and stay in bed all day.
9. Eat more junk food.
10. Take more vitamins to offset the junk food.
11. Throw out the vitamins and drink eggnog instead.
12. Spend more money.
13. What money? The stock market decline ate it all.
14. Open more charge accounts.
15. Buy stuff on credit.
16. Feel guilty about buying stuff on credit but keep it anyway.


Now that I look at it, perhaps goals that I’m certain to achieve aren’t such a good idea. Let’s go back to Cheri’s idea of a list of “things I have accomplished” in the past year.

1. Breathed in and out.
2. Grew older.
3. Turned grayer.
4. Gained ten pounds.
5. Hey, ten pounds was on my other list, too!
6. Forgot where I put important papers.
7. Found the papers, but overlooked their significance and threw them out.
8. Made appointments to receive visiting teachers.
9. Forgot and left the house five minutes before they arrived.
10. Took less vitamins and drank more eggnog.
11. Hey, eggnog was on my other list, too.
12. Cursed the darkness instead of lighting a candle.
13. Lit the candle and almost burned the house down when it fell over.
14. Tried fruitcake.
15. Hated fruitcake.
16. Used fruitcake for a doorstop.


I hope that in some small way, I’ve encouraged you to make a list for the new year. Even if it’s only a shopping list. Or, on the positive reinforcement side, a record of dates that your home teachers actually came. No, wait, that might not have anything on it.

Whatever type of list you decide upon, bear in mind that it doesn’t matter what’s on it. You just want to be able to say that you made one. And if you can’t come up with any ideas of your own, feel free to borrow mine.

Just remember to send the chocolates.

What's playing in my head: None. I've resolved to ignore the voices in my head this year!:o)

This blog sponsored by YourLDSNeighborhood.com. Please show your appreciation by returning to and browsing through the Neighborhood.

And while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletter brings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDS interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy.

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