Monday, June 30, 2008

Pageant People

by Shirley Bahlmann
Some of the other interesting people I met at Mormon Miracle Pageant were Shirley (good name!) with a halo of blonde hair, laughing blue eyes, and round pink cheeks. Her spirit shone through as she told me about a most amazing experience of accompanying her father when he died, then returning alone to mortality.
There was the always-smiling lady who needed a place to park her motor home because her husband had bad knees and couldn't walk from the city park. We found a good Samaritan in Peggy Layton, who let the couple park at her wellness clinic near the center of town.
When white-haired Dolph Jolley and his elderly wife made their way to the check-out with a copy of my "Friends From Beyond the Veil" tucked under an arm, I had to point out the section of evil spirit stories, even though most of the book is benign. I just couldn't bear the thought of them having joint cardiac arrests if the dark tales were too much for them. They thanked me for the warning and bought the book anyway.
Then there was the toddler in the costume tent, a little girl with tousled blonde hair, dressed in a robe of ancient design. She couldn't keep her round blue eyes off the actor who played the part of the Savior. "Come on," she lisped, grabbing hold of my fingers in a super glue grip. "Go over there." She pointed to the bearded man in white.
"You want to go see him?" I asked.
The little angel nodded and looked up at me with blue eyes full of love. "I want him to come to my house."
Her innocent desire melted my heart, and I smiled down at her. No doubt, He was already there.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hagrid's Baby Brother

by Shirley Bahlmann
The young women flitting about my book booth had charming accents, Bosnian, they told me. There were three of them, bright eyed, eager, chattering over the books on display in lilting languages. "I speak more than one language," a dark-haired beauty told me. "Once you know two, you can easily learn more."
I would have to take her word for it.
Standing among the bright and fluttery girls was a tall pillar of a man, his face made small between a head of long hair and full dark beard that reached the middle of his chest. I kid you not, he looked like Hagrid's (the giant from "Harry Potter") little brother, "little" being a relative term. My visitor was several inches over six feet tall.
When the Bosnian girls bounced away to another booth, Hagrid Junior remained behind. Since he hadn't spoken a word, I didn't know if he was Bosnian, too. So I said, "Hello."
"Hello," he replied, his deep American voice shaking the floor.
I never asked his connection with the girls, and I don't remember how we got on the subject of idols, but even after I expressed my opinion that famous people are just regular folks with recognized faces, he admitted to idolizing John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, and Joseph Smith. (That comment gave me pause. Was Joseph Smith musically inclined?)
I was fascinated when Mini-Hagrid told me he traveled all over the world. "What do you do?" I asked, my ears open and eager for the secrets of world travel.
"What kind?"
"Guitar. I just open my case and play."
"And you make enough money to travel?"
Shrimpy-Hagrid's eyes crinkled for the first time during our entire conversation. He tipped his head toward me as if sharing a confidence. "Oh, yeah," he said with a reassuring nod.
After Hagrid-Half-Pint left, I found myself daydreaming of International travel. Hey, I've got an old saxophone in my basement, complete with case. All I have to do is put heavy duty magnets in the bottom, and visit countries with magnetic money...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mary Ann

One afternoon a beautiful dark-haired young lady was rolled into my booth by a tall, blond young man who turned out to be her brother. The young lady was Mary Ann. Her mother explained that a semi broadsided Mary Ann when she was driving with her cousin. Her cousin didn't survive. Mary Ann escaped with a bruise on her brain, which left her unable to walk.
"They gave her three hours to live," Mom added.
Mary Ann waved her hand to get my attention, then with slow speech, said, "Sil-ly do-c-tors don't know an-y-thing."
Her brother hovered protectively above her, watching our exchange. Her sister stood nearby, and her mother translated for her daughter, even though I understood everything Mary Ann said.
Later, I met Mary Ann's father. He's a writer who published his own book, and he shared a piece of poetry he wrote that inspired the book. He's got some interesting things going on, and is ready to pick up writing after spending so much time caring for Mary Ann during her recovery.
I was impressed with a family who seems to have turned tragedy to triumph. They helped me appreciate life as it is given, and it was a pleasure to meet them.
Shine on, Mary Ann.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nair Hair

Okay, another person I met at my Pageant booth wore a goatee, a baseball hat, and an elbow band of some black, stretchy material that he kept tightening as he talked to me at length about his family, jobs, places he'd lived, and even about his hair.
"My wife shaved my head this morning," he said, lifting his cap to show me a bald scalp. "I used to use Nair on it. Then I went to the doctor and he told me to stop it."
I thought he was going to say something about how Nair is formulated for legs only and is too strong for sensitive scalp skin. I was only partly right.
"The doc told me that Nair was restricting the blood vessels in my scalp," he explained. "If I didn't stop it, I could die."
A headline flashed through my mind, "Man Dead From Nair Head." It was tragic.
Finally, I told my visitor I needed to fill my water bottle. He accompanied me out of the craft fair. As I headed for the ladies' room, I felt a shudder go down my back. Who would have thought that an innocent pink bottle could carry something so deadly. One thing's for sure... if I ever use a bottle of Nair again, I'm not going to be brushing the hair back out of my eyes until I've sanitized my hands.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Curler Head

After filling my water bottle, I walked back to my book booth at the Mormon Miracle Pageant and saw the back of a lady who was looking at books. I don't know how old she was, but she's been on earth longer than me. She was a petite thing, just over five feet tall, and her gray hair was rolled up all over her head in cheerful yellow curlers.
"Hello," I said.
She turned and looked up at me with the roundest, bluest eyes I'd ever seen. Although she had a few lines around her mouth and the corners of her eyes, she had the smoothest, pinkest cheeks of any grandma I'd ever seen.
"Hello," she answered. She held up one of my books. "This looks so interesting." Then she lowered the book and thumbed her check book with her other hand. "I've only got one check until I get home, though," she explained, her eyes tight with worry. She turned my book over and read the back again. "It looks so interesting."
"A lot of people said they've enjoyed it," I said.
"Is there any other place I could get it later?" she asked, turning it over to read the back again, reluctant to put it down.
"Yes, but it won't be at the sale price."
"I see." Her yellow curlers bobbed as she nodded, and I could see a disappointed little girl inside the wrinkles.
"But I'll tell you what I'll do," I said. "You can take the book now and mail me the money later."
Her eyes flew up to my face. "Really?" she asked. "You would trust me?"
I smiled at her eagerness. "Of course," I said. "Anyone who loves books is trustworthy."
So I gave her a card. She insisted on writing her address and phone number down in my planner for me. Then she held the book in the crook of her arm and walked away, turning back once to wave before her yellow curlers and sparkling blue eyes disappeared behind a partition.
Her check arrived yesterday. As I said, she is a book lover, and book lovers are some of the most trustworthy people I've ever met.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Under Son

by Shirley Bahlmann
I just finished a week and a half long stint at the Mormon Miracle Pageant in sunny, mosquito-infested Manti, Utah. My routine was pretty much get up at 6:00 a.m., clean the alternative high school in readiness for Summer School classes, feed and water our pets since that's the only way I could be certain they'd remain alive, then be in my Craft Fair booth by 10:00 a.m. (I didn't have to go except when it was my turn to take the till, but more people bought books when I was there to threaten them with paper cuts if they didn't.) I stayed among the paper and glossy covers until it was time to do my part in the Pageant, which started at 9:30 p.m. (I was a wicked Shaman who led people astray from Third Nephi.) Home by 11:30, I was in bed soon after, unless my restless 8-year-old made it later.
Later, rinse, repeat.
I met some interesting people in my book booth. One fellow who appeared deceptively young had a double super hero cape velcroed around his neck. On one side was the Superman symbol, the other side showed Batman. One lady who shared my booth asked the young hero which super dude he was. "Are you Batman or Superman?" was her innocent question.
The boy fixed her with deadly laser beam eyes. "I'm Under Son," he declared, clearly irritated that she did not recognize him by sight. (How could she have known his real cape was at the cleaners?)
"Under Son?" the lady asked, unaware of the mortal danger she put herself in by questioning his identity. Her life was saved by the lad's older sister, who obviously had super powers of her own. She grabbed Under Son's shoulders and held him fast.
"It's like Under Dog," the girl explained. "Only he's Under Son."
That boy has a big future. I could tell by his cape-swaying swagger as he left us without a backward glance. (Under Son never glances backwards.)
I'll tell you what... if I'm ever in danger, I'll run to the nearest kindergarten class and call for Under Son, the hero of limitless creativity.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stayin' Alive

My 17 year old son, Zackary, was driving home from work and when he noticed he was drifting towards the edge of the road, he over corrected and would up skidding down the road on the driver's side door. The officer who responded to the accident said that his sister had died in a similar accident only a week earlier. Another local woman lost her arm a couple of years ago by skidding down the road with her arm out the window.
Fortunately, Zack was uninjured. I count my blessings and thank Father that Zack only had a sore neck the following day.
When I gave Zack a hug and told him I was glad he's still alive, he grunted and said, "I just hope I can get my car fixed. I love that car."
And I love that boy.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

If you are a big girl...

by Shirley Bahlmann
If you are a big girl, or even if you aren't, this YouTube clip is fun and kicky and makes you want to dance. (If by some chance the link below doesn't work, click on the picture of the boy with the apple, or just copy and paste, okay? Okay!)

Friday, June 13, 2008

They go potty in heaven, don't they?

We're in the middle of "The Mormon Miracle Pageant" here in little old Sanpete County, Utah. The outdoor spectacle of volunteer actors in period costumes is in its 42nd year on lovely Manti, Utah Temple Hill.
One thing that pageant goers probably don't know is that before each performance is a devotional for cast members. It takes place on Temple Hill behind the costume building. There are some wonderful speakers at those meetings, interspersed with those who do the best they can with the talents they've been blessed with.
During one meeting, my 8-year-old came to me with a frown on his face and said, "The man wouldn't let me use the bathroom."
"What man?" I asked, my protective Mommy hackles rising.
"The one who says when we can go get our costumes."
So I went to talk to the bathroom-maximum-security guard. With a voice that could freeze watermelons, I said, "My son told me you wouldn't let him use the bathroom."
"Oh, I'm sorry, when was this?"
"During cast devotional."
"Oh. Well, you see, if I leave the bathrooms open, then all the teenagers go in there and won't come out."
"My son is eight," I said, smoke coming out of my ears.
"Oh, I'm really sorry. Look, if you could come with him next time, then that would really help with crowd control. I really apologize," the man said, looking very apologetic.
"Okay," I said, my hackles smoothing down. I was glad, too, because raised hackles is not a good look for me.
I walked away, reflecting on the lesson that if you really want to reach your goal, it helps to take a parent with you. And there is One who can get through any barrier, from writing block to basic mortal needs. And if I, as an imperfect mortal, love my son enough to push aside my non-confrontational fun-loving yellow personality to confront Bathroom Security, how much more does Father in Heaven love us? I'll bet he even has a bathroom key right there in his pocket.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cow Pie Pancakes

As I was sitting at the table eating raw vegetables, my stomach complained that those green and leafy things surely weren't the only thing I was going to give it, were they? My stomach added that there was some pancake mix in the kitchen, and pancakes were so gooood. Then my stomach teamed up with my mouth and I heard myself ask my 14-year-old son, "Will you please cook me some pancakes?"
"Sure," he said, and walked into the kitchen. That's when I should have been suspicious. He protesteth not enough.
He came back in the dining room stirring a bowl of pancake mix with a fork. Then, looking in the bowl, he said, "Ew, what is that? Oh, well, I just stirred it in. I'm sure it's fine." Then he went back in the kitchen and I soon smelled the delicious aroma of browning pancakes. A minute later, he brought me a plate with his hand cupped around the edge. "Now, don't panic," he said. "This is supposed to be Mickey Mouse, but his brains squished out when I turned him over." Well, I could eat a mutated Mickey Mouse, and I did, and my stomach cheered.
Then my son brought me a glass of milk, only it was strange because there was a blob of bright red color spreading through the white. "Sorry, but this is the only milk we had," he explained. "George the Farmer was milking the cow when the cow stepped on his hand. George's finger popped off and flew into the milk bucket. Now his finger is in your glass, so when you drink it, leave a little on the bottom to preserve the finger so we can take it to the hospital when you're through and sew it back onto poor George."
After hearing that story, I couldn't make myself drink the milk, even though somewhere in my heart I hoped it was just red food coloring.
Then Brian brought out another plate with his hand cupped around the edge. "I made a culinary masterpiece," he announced solemnly. "I hope you enjoy it." Then he set the plate down with a flourish and announced, "Cow pie pancakes." Four pancakes of varying diameters stared up at me from the plate. They were stacked with the largest on the bottom and the smallest on the top, and by gum, it did look like a cow patty that some bovine had casually dropped in the corral. But I ate it anyway. After all, I couldn't let a masterpiece go to waste.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Looking For a Good Book

Being a victim of an occasional Bahlmann Boy Prank, when my son announced that someone was "here to see me," I asked, "Are you serious?" Sure enough, Clint was at my door, looking to buy one of my books that his neighbor recommended. The funny thing is, the neighbor didn't know my exact address, and neither did Clint. But Clint felt confident he could follow the directions to turn down my street and stop at the house with the red PT Cruiser parked in front.
But there was a problem. My Cruiser was not parked in front of my house. In a secret agent moment, I'd parked it beside an old church one house away from mine. Why? Because my youngest son was waving the water hose around the front yard like a deranged elephant, and I had just washed the car and didn't want it all spotty.
So Clint went to the house across the street from the church, and then to the next house, and the one after that, which happened to be right across the street from me. Those neighbors kindly pointed him in the right direction.
And do you know what? Once he found me, Clint ended up buying two books. Perhaps the hunt makes the trophy more dear. Maybe it's time to unlist my phone number. I could be independantly wealthy in no time!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

6 7 8 Writer's Conference by Cedar Fort

Wow! The first ever Cedar Fort writer's conference was packed wall to wall, row to row, like corn on a cob! There was great energy and information there, and Doug Johnston was a terrific MC! He kept the speakers on schedule, and gave a very insightful presentation of his own.
Then there were all the people who got one on one time with editor Jeff, who was still smiling at the end of the day. I got to talk to Lyle about a possible book, and got the go-ahead to send an outline. That always makes an author's day!
As for lunch, well, just let me say I've never had better bread to hug my sandwich! The salads were all top notch, and the drinks were left out so participants could take more as they day progressed.
I also enjoyed reconnecting with other authors, and hearing of the progression of their books and reviews! What great energy!
KUDOS! I can hardly wait to study my free book or read the ones I bought at a discount.
If you missed this conference, you'd better keep your heads up for the next one. I only hope it remains affordable, and that they'll arrange the tables so there's an aisle down the middle.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Floods or Clamdiggers?

Now that the weather is gradually growing warmer, my pant hemlines are rising. Yesterday, I pulled on a pair of nice, comfortable stretchy pants and walked out in public. But something felt wrong. With the hemline hitting me just above the ankles, I was an awkward, too-tall teenager again. Halfway through the day, I bent over and rolled the hem up twice. When I stood up, I felt comfortable, fashionable, and, yes, even suave.
I began to wonder what the difference is with pant lengths. I mean, if I feel like a clumsy adolescent in pants just above my ankles (reminiscent of junior high school taunts, "Hey, Noah, when's the flood?") Then why do I feel like I could step into the school lunch room and turn every head with two rolls of the hem? What makes the difference? Is it social conditioning, or are women born with pant-length sensors inside their calves that signal when the him is just right?
And how many names do we need for shorts from the knee to the ankle? Exactly what is a clam digger, in cote hauteur terms? What about capris? Knee shorts? Bermudas?
Excuse me, I need to go put on a skirt.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

House of Two Toilets

by Shirley Bahlmann
As we drove down Main Street in our historic little town of Ephraim, Utah, one of my sons pointed to a sandblasted rock sign in a front yard and asked, "What does 'House of Seven Gables' mean?"
I shifted in my seat. "Do you see those little pointy roofs?" I asked, aiming my finger at a gable jutting from the old house's roof line. He nodded. "Those are called gables," I explained. "That house has seven of them."
"Big deal," my husband said from the driver's seat. "I think we should make a sign for our house and stick it in our yard."
My interest piqued, I straightened in my seat and looked at him. "What would our sign say?" I asked.
"House of Two Toilets," he intoned.
He shrugged while our son giggled in the back seat. "That's every bit as important as seven gables, if not moreso."
What else could I say? He was absolutely right.