family In The Wars

Monday, August 30, 2010

LDS in China

A statement from the First Presidency of the Church disclosed today that a senior representative of the People’s Republic of China – the highest ranking representative from Beijing to meet with Church leaders – has visited with the First Presidency.

That meeting in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, August 24, followed meetings in February and May in Beijing, attended by Church apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, who are responsible for overseeing the Church in Asia, on assignment from the First Presidency. These meetings were initiated by the Chinese representative.

Elders Oaks and Hallstrom represent two of the most senior councils of the Church -- Elder Oaks, of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy.

“It is important to understand what the term regularizing means, and what it does not mean,” Church spokesman Michael Otterson said. “It does not mean that we anticipate sending missionaries to China. That issue is not even under consideration.

“The Church deeply appreciates the courtesy of the Chinese leadership in opening up a way to better define how the Church and its members can proceed with daily activities, all in harmony with Chinese law.”

Otterson said that many details need to be worked out in further discussions with Chinese officials, but that the pending developments were the result of 30 years of building mutual trust with the Chinese.

“They have become thoroughly familiar with us through numerous contacts, and they have seen how we and our members operate in China. They know that we are people of our word when it comes to respecting Chinese law and cultural expectations,” he said.

The formal, brief statement from the First Presidency said that they and other senior leaders at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City “have had discussions with a senior official of the People’s Republic of China from Beijing, and have established a relationship which we expect will lead to regularizing the activities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in China.”

Otterson said that given the importance of understanding and complying with various Chinese laws and the need for ongoing cooperative efforts, the Church does not plan to comment further on the discussions for the time being.

“At the conclusion of the meeting in Salt Lake City, it was agreed that it would be appropriate for this information to be announced publicly,” Otterson said.

The Kyiv Temple Prophecy

"Prophecy Fulfilled and Blessings Bestowed" could be the title of a new chapter in Church history that opens when Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve offered a blessing upon the land of Ukraine and continues through Aug. 29, 2010, with President Thomas S. Monson dedicating the Kyiv Ukraine Temple.
The chapter would cover a span of less than 20 years in which unprecedented events unfolded. Except for the early years of the Restoration, there has been no nation in which a temple has been built within two decades after the Church was introduced.

The Kyiv Temple

President Thomas S. Monson applies first dab of mortar to seal symbolic cornerstone prior to dedicating the Kyiv Ukraine Temple held Sunday morning, Aug. 29. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, his second counselor, and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf look on.

When its time to go....

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

...and for those of us says I...I wish I had spent more time with those who have gone

Nature Writing

Walking Home (1)

Sunday, May 9, 2010, 08:18 PM ( 1 view ) - Posted by Administrator
8 May 2010

I live in a neighborhood of walkers--some are out for exercise, some are walking dogs or children, others are just out for a stroll.

I’m walking a lot slower these days, but I’ve found I notice a lot more as I walk. The world looks radically different at different speeds. (I wonder if that is part of Einstein’s theory of relativity.)

I am rereading Edwin Way Teale’s Journey Into Summer and came across this encouraging passage in chapter two, “Walking Down a River.”

“…The way to become acquainted with an area intimately, to appreciate it best, is to walk over it. And the slower the walk the better. For a naturalist, the most productive pace is a snail’s pace. A large part of his walk is often spent standing still. A mile an hour may well be fast enough. For his goal is different from that of the pedestrian. It is not how far he goes that counts; it is not how fast he goes; it is how much he sees.”

The spirit of Teale’s passage is so antithetical to the “spirit of the outdoors” portrayed today in the media, even in so-called nature magazines. The emphasis—and it isn’t new, just more dominant—is on extreme activities in the outdoors: how far can a person go in how little time while using how many electronic devices.

Teale goes on to say, “To one observer a thing means so much; to another the same thing means almost nothing. As the poet William Blake wrote in one of his letters: ‘The Tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way.’”

One thing I’ve seen recently, that I would not have seen at a faster pace is walking honeybees. Last week, the last of the lemon flowers dried up and the bees have forsaken it. But before they did, I observed in the late afternoon, on two separate days, honeybees walking “home” from the lemon tree.

I had been watching the bees take off from the tree and head south down a narrow passage between the garage and the house—flying off to their hive somewhere else in the neighborhood. I have a bench that I sit on against the garage wall because it catches the late sun just right and I can feel the sun warm my body and soul once more before it sets. The bees would fly past me and zip up and over the fence.

On two consecutive days, I saw two honeybees walk down the sidewalk in front of me, walking the route that the other bees had flown. As I observed them, I saw that they took the same route: down the sidewalk, on to the garden path, and then right into the grass where they disappeared.

I don’t use any pesticides, but the bees could have been suffering from pesticide poisoning from a neighbor’s tree, or they could have been suffering from mites or some other bee disease. But the interesting thing to me is that they were walking the flying route home. Somehow, they had retained enough memory of the homing communication, that even in the last stage of life, unable to fly, they were moving home.

I can’t imagine that they made it. I feel certain their lives ended somewhere in the grass jungle of my lawn, but they were giving it a try.

Those honey bees may be a good symbol for a lot of us these days. Poisoned by one of the many diseases of modern life, we can no longer fly for home. But retaining some memory of the idea of home, we limp along toward it somewhere, trying, vainly, to find the place called home before we die.

Next year, as I eat the lemons they pollinated, I will remember those bees.


Nesting Strategies (0)

Friday, April 23, 2010, 08:09 PM ( 1 view ) - Posted by Administrator
23 April 2010

The house sparrows nesting in the neighbor’s tile roof have finished this round of nest building and settled into, quieter, probably incubationary duties. This week, their nest building antics afforded me two new observations about their behavior and raised several questions.

Earlier in the week, a hailstorm rolled up the valley with lightning that knocked out power, pelting rain and hail up to the size of a quarter. A mourning dove had built a nest in the plum tree just outside my kitchen window and chose to ride out the storm in the nest—sitting stoically for hours, pelted and rocked by the elements—even though there was no egg in the nest. That evening she abandoned the nest and did not return the next day.

The next day, a house sparrow couple flew into the plum tree and began to look over the mourning dove nest. They seemed very cautious, not approaching it directly, but hopping from branch to branch, drawing gradually closer. Then, with the male standing guard on a branch about a foot away and above the nest, the female house sparrow hopped into the nest and began rummaging through it—obviously looking for building materials. She found some pine needles to her liking, so she flew off with them, leaving the male in the tree perched on guard.

After a few minutes, the female sparrow returned and rummaged some more, found another item and flew away. This continued for about an hour—the female deconstructing the nest and the male hopping about to various on-guard locations.

It was certainly a very logical action. I have read of birds using other birds’ nests for building materials although I had never seen it with my own eyes.

The question their behavior raises has to do with their consciousness of doing something “wrong.” They obviously knew they were taking something that did not “belong” to them and they knew they could get in trouble for it. From whom? A mourning dove? I don’t think I have ever seen a mourning dove fight a sparrow. I would bet on the sparrow!

Can it be that house sparrows have clear social mores of right and wrong that carry over between species, rules that apply foremost to their own social group? That observation seemed to indicate a general application of a species specific social code.
The second house sparrow observation happened a day after the dismantling of the mourning dove nest. Apparently the major nest construction was finished and now the final touches were being added. Several males and females busied themselves at a patch of brass buttons growing between the bricks on my driveway. This non-native wildflower (cotula australis) has soft fern-like leaves and small, round rayless flowers. The sparrows were breaking off leafy stems with flower heads on them and flying them up into the nesting sites in the tile roof.

That new observation also leads to a question: are the leaves providing something in addition to a soft nesting cushion? Could the plant have a medicinal or pesticide quality? The leaves and flowers do have a strong, chamomile-like scent when crushed.

I may never know, but the birds sure seemed pleased with their find. They are such successful breeders, they must be doing something right.


Serious Business of Spring (0)

Thursday, April 15, 2010, 11:07 AM - Posted by Administrator
15 April 2010

The serious business of spring is upon us.

The honey bees have found the dwarf Meyer lemon and enthusiastically claimed it as their own yesterday when the noon sun hit it full. I wonder where their nest can be here in the middle of the city.

Thoreau describes in his journal how he and some friends rigged a trap for the honeybees they observed. They put different colored powders on the bee’s back and released them to observe where they went and when they returned, trying to find their hives.

I won’t do that. I assume their hive or nest must be in a cavity in one of the large trees of the neighborhood. Today, I think I will watch them and see which way they fly after leaving the lemon tree.

The yellow-rumped warblers love the bare limbs of the Chinese pistache along the street. They hop along the bare, yellow, lichened limbs off and on all day, pecking at something. Do they eat the lichen? Are there insects, ants, there that they eat?

The house sparrows, usually so social and cooperative, had a big tiff yesterday. One of their group members must have violated some sparrow code. The others drove it to the ground on my driveway, in front of the garage, and with great noise and clamor, proceeded to fuss and peck about at the codebreaker. After a minute, they noisily flew off together, with the offending bird, up to a yew tree by their tile roof nesting sites. There they fussed for a while, gradually quieting themselves. Then they all returned to their sparrow work. I wonder if the offending bird had displayed the appropriate signals of submission, apologized, made restoration, or what.

Is it inappropriate to speak of bird behavior in general? I think it may be. Each bird tribe has its own code of behavior and social structure, but even that is not automatic. Individuals can break the behavioral codes and mores of the tribe. Bird iconoclasts. Bird individualists. Bird mavericks. Bird artists?


Winter Storm Warning (0)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 12:17 PM - Posted by Administrator
12 April 2010

On Saturday, a high white layer of clouds swept over the clear blue sky of Friday, followed by a massive surge of rain and wind that brought one to two feet of snow to the mountains.

Until Saturday, I had heard the hermit thrush beginning to sing and chirp around the garden, but on Saturday he disappeared and I have not heard or seen him since then.

I often wonder how birds ride out storms and weather extremes. I know sometimes they don’t. When I was a boy I witnessed a massive warbler kill along the Florida west coast, a severe cold wave hit during the fall migration and dead warblers lay everywhere on the ground, birds I had never seen before, striking in their exotic colors.

I assume it was time for the hermit thrush to migrate. If the books are correct, he had to migrate up to Canada or the Northwest US.

Also missing after the storm were the orange-crowned warblers who had frequented my hummingbird feeder all winter. They are regulars, too, returning year after year. This storm seemed to be a sign to them also that it was time to move on.

The migrants seem to have inner sense, perhaps keyed to barometric pressure and light, of when it is the specific day to wing their way to their summer home. I’ve read that birds seem to know by barometric pressure when storms are approaching.

Today’s windy blue sky has turned into clouds and thunderstorms. All the birds are hidden away now, except for the mourning doves. The doves are still cooing, walking, and trying to mate. One still sits in her nest in the plum tree, bouncing in the wind.

It would be so helpful to have that inner sense of the birds that know the day to move on. We have community emergency weather alerts broadcast on television and radio. What I need is an internal emergency alert system that will alert me to dangerous conditions in my body and spirit. Perhaps there is one in place already and I need to be more mindful of it.


An Essential of Naturewriting (0)

Saturday, April 3, 2010, 10:26 AM - Posted by Administrator
3 April 2010

When Thoreau wrote in his journal, he did not just record details and facts—observations. He reflected and connected his observations to life—his inner life and philosophy and the life of other people he observed around him, both specific individuals and humanity in general.

It is precisely that characteristic that distinguishes naturewriting from other genres. Some people disparage naturewriting as not being scientific. It can be profoundly scientific, but it to be naturewriting, it must include that element of synthesis and connection with philosophy of life. Naturewriting can be simple science—basing itself, for example, on the most basic observations of the common life forms found in an urban patio garden—but it must include reflection on how those observations affect the human spirit.

For, after all, in the midst of all, we humans are nature, too, and a true ecology of humanity encompasses our quest for personal meaning in the midst of our fellow creatures. We are nature and we are writing.


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Friday, August 27, 2010

Humanitarian aid

Church Assisting with Aid to Pakistan

LDS Newsroom Back to Headlines
Despite being unpopular with the current US President Obama and the Muslims very popular...we are still giving aid and it is wonderful

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is coordinating with other relief agencies to provide aid to flood-ravaged Pakistan. The Church has partnered with International Relief and Development, International Medical Corps, and Saba Aslam Welfare and Trust to locally purchase and distribute immediate relief supplies. Additional supplies from the Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City will be shipped in the coming weeks in partnership with Islamic Relief USA.
Assessments are continuing to determine further support in the coming weeks.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Pakistan,” said Bishop H. David Burton, presiding bishop of the Church, who oversees humanitarian efforts. “The generous donations of Church members and others is allowing the Church to provide aid that will relieve the suffering of many people.”

Heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan triggered the worst flooding in 80 years beginning in late July. More than a third of the country has been impacted and over 1,500 people have died and 17 million others have been directly affected. More than 1.2 million homes have been destroyed, leaving an estimated eight million people homeless.

Given that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no official presence in Pakistan, no Church members, missionaries, or meetinghouses are directly impacted by the flooding.

The Church provides relief and development projects for humanitarian purposes in countries all over the world. Projects operate without regard to the nationality or religion of the recipients. Donations, principally from Church members but also from others around the world, are used to make relief projects possible. One hundred percent of the donations given to the Church’s humanitarian services are used for relief efforts. The Church absorbs its own overhead costs.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Australia's Greatest Peril 1942

1942: Australia's Greatest Peril1942: Australia's Greatest Peril by Bob Wurth

I learned just how close we were to being invaded by the Japanese during World War Two. This well-researched work of Bob Wurth's included the Japanese side of the story, using that nation's official records.

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Little Women

Little WomenLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott

I have read this book often as I own it, and can never feel bored . I have learnt how challenges can be faced no matter what the adversity is. i love it

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Defined by Christ

So many of us stretch our faces with smiles wide enough to mask the pain we hide. So many of us go through the motions — attending church, giving service, nurturing our families, learning and doing — while inside we feel empty, broken, doubtful, and even guilty for the way we feel. We tell ourselves that if we’d only work harder, we would somehow earn the blessings of peace, security, and unconditional love that we hunger for. But are we ever wrong! Simply by virtue of being a child of God, each of us is already loved beyond comprehension, without boundaries or conditions. Yet sadly, many of us leave this heavenly gift unopened.

Using the scriptures, words of prophets, insightful analogies, and stories drawn from poignant personal experiences, author Toni Sorenson illuminates the pathway toward opening this gift of divine love and finding lasting peace even amidst the shadows and storms of life. As we come to focus on God’s goodness rather than our own weakness, we will recognize our own infinite worth, develop confidence in the plan of happiness, strengthen our ability to identify and overcome the lies of Satan, discover the power within us to find wholeness and help others heal, and experience for ourselves how good trumps evil. No matter what our disappointment or failure or loss may be, allowing ourselves to be defined by Christ will lift us out of darkness and into His light.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eleanor of Aquitaine - my 29th great grand mother

Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life (Ballantine Reader's Circle)Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life by Alison Weir

A wonderfully, well-written and researched tale about a Queen of England and Duchess of small places on the continent including Aquitaine. Queen Eleanor may have had a gossipy torrid early life, following her first husband King Louis of France to Jerusalum as part of the crusade, though there is no concrete evidence to say that she did. But Weir's thorough research has revelaed the real woman, who fought for her second husband Henry II, bore him eight children including Richard the Lionheart, and lived to a venerable old age of 84, no mean fete in those turbulent days. Eleanor managed to hold a kingdom together. She was also very close to her children. I learned a lot about early medeival life thrugh this work, some of it quite shocking and am thankful that I was born in this life - now! For all that Eleanor worked for however, after her death it was all lost because of her wayward son King John and their arch enemy Phillip of France marched in and took the lot except England, laying the basis for France's furture greatness.

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Tenacious by Julian Stockwin

Tenacious: A Kydd Sea Adventure #6 (A Kydd Sea Adventure)Tenacious: A Kydd Sea Adventure #6 by Julian Stockwin

The stories of Kydd by Stockwin are full of adventure and detail of life at sea during the late 1700s early 1800s. it was certainly a tough life. Stockwin weaves the tale around the historical events of that time, such as Napoleon and his army being stranded in Egypt and finding a way out of their dilemma, while the good ship Tenacious is ready to be part of the big naval battles with the French armada. His work is exceddingly well-written and researched

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Elder Scott's blog

Reader comments
LDS apostle's blog may be a first
17 comments | Read story
ECR | 7:00 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
Outstanding! hughcpa | 7:34 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
Dear Elder Cook,

Thank you!

In light of Elder Ballard's enlightened encouragement coupled with Brother Gary Lawrence's challenging analysis, your example profoundly continues the pioneering "faith in every footsteps" legacy and persists the 3-decade-old clarrion call from President Spencer W. Kimball:

"So much depends on our willingness to make up our minds collectively and individually that present levels of performance are not acceptable either to ourselves or to the Lord. In saying that I am not calling for flashy, temporary differences in our performance levels, but a quiet resolve to do a better job, to lengthen our stride."

You and your brethren have set the standard and are quietly inviting the Latter-day Saints to join with your lengthy strides in this day and time.

As a token of our collective faith in sustaining you, our family is exploring how we, too, can use our electronic resources as we ponder D&C sections 4 and 123.

Dear Brethren, "we ever pray for thee." Chachi | 7:45 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
I'll assume that Scott Trotter meant that he isn't sure whether this was the first time an apostle has communicated through a blog. Of course they've communicated through websites before! For instance, the full proceedings of every General Conference have been posted on the Church website for years, as are the First Presidency messages each month, and many more examples could be given. Comments continue below
Sterling Allan | 9:07 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
The reasons the brethren don't usually participate in things like this is because the pedistal they are put on is so high, any hints of mortality might cause a crisis of faith and the whole "brethren will not lead you astray" dogma comes crashing down. It's easy to keep that allusion up by saying nothing new in general conference talks and articles for the Ensign that first pass through correllation. jonjon | 9:42 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
Sterling I think the reason is more because, like my dad, they are old and blogging is unfamiliar territory. They didn't grow up with this type of communication. Much like when I use a home phone now it feels kind of funny. They'll be the first to tell you they make mistakes, but they handle those mistakes so much better than the majority of us. charlie91342 | 10:19 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
can anyone pls explain how someone becomes "sustained as an apostle"? not being rude or condescending. and is apostle and prophet the same thing, or is there only one prophet at a time?

or direct me to a website that would explain it. thank you in advance. aggiegal | 10:41 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
charlie - go to mormon (dot) org, scroll to the bottom and click Frequently Asked Questions. Then scroll down and click Prophets (on the left hand side). There's some great explanations there about prophets and apostles, as well as other questions answered. Gary | 10:48 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
Charlie - The apostles and prophet is the same thing. There are 12 apostles in quorum of 12 and 3 in the first presidency making it 15 total. They are picked through fasting and prayer by the existing apostles and moved by the spirit on who the next apostle will be. Then during General Conference (during April and October), they are sustained by members of the church by the raising of right hand to show support and given the opportunity to oppose. You can find the basic information at mormon(dot)org. SP | 10:55 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
The church is led by a president (who we also believe is a prophet) and two counselors. Right below that is the group of 12 apostles who are each in charge of some function of the church and also give sermons. The longest-serving apostle is next in line to be the president. When an apostle dies, the surviving apostles select a new one by unanimous vote.

None of these people are elected by the general church membership. But the church members are asked to raise their hand indicating whether they are in favor of the new apostle (sustain him) or object to the selection.

That way everything happens in the open and everyone has a chance to publicly "sustain" or object. Any objections are addressed privately to see if there are issues that might not have been known when the person was selected. SP | 11:07 a.m. Aug. 18, 2010
One more comment for Sterling - the apostles words are definitely held to high scrutiny, but your "infallibility" theory is just paranoia. There are always people either trying to criticize the apostles based on some comment, or to justify some action/sin they are doing by an apostle's comment.

High-profile positions, religious or non-religious, require people to be careful with what they say. And blogs posts are notorious for becoming viral if there is any hint of a controversy. BYUCOLORADO | 2:24 p.m. Aug. 18, 2010
I think the headline of this article was misleading. A more accurate way to report this would be:

"LDS apostle's blog POST may be a first."

The article implies that an apostle created a blog, which would be much bigger news to me than him guest blogging on another blog. Either way, it was exciting, but the idea of an apostle blogging was very exciting.

Anyway, I love the post. I like that the leaders of our faith are trying new ways of communication. Great things are happening.

Re: sterling

The dogma crashing down is a good thing. I do think there is dogma, but it is not propagated by the leaders, it is propagated by the members of the faith. We would all be wise to know that the leaders are men who have fallacies (I am reading Harold B. Lee's biography and it definitely portrays a man with problems he struggled with) and it is good to know they can be apostles and have things they are working on. The New Testament clearly portrayed leaders who were still trying to master themselves. Being mortal and an apostle is congruent with the message of Christ. I M LDS 2 | 6:59 p.m. Aug. 18, 2010
The Apostles don't tell us anything new. Even in General Conference, you would be hard pressed to find something you haven't heard before. I think Apostles should refrain from posting on blogs. We got the message a long time ago, and if we didn't, repeating it a million times isn't going to do any good. The Caravan Moves On | 9:01 p.m. Aug. 18, 2010
For "I M LDS 2"....

1st, with your negative attitude, I seriously doubt whether you really are LDS.

2nd, if you really do belong to the LDS church, with your negative attitude, you're LDS in name only.

3rd, are you saying "all is well in Zion"? I mean you're saying "we got the messag a long time ago". But, so many of us did not "get the message". That's the reason they keep going over the same gospel basics.

I welcome the words and teachings of the living Apostles any time, any place, in any type of forum, including blogs, because they are indeed the words of the Lord.

You're welcome. hopeandme | 9:38 p.m. Aug. 18, 2010
I M LDS 2 - I would like to comment on your statement that the Apostles don't tell us anything new and General Conference doesn't tell us anything we haven't heard before. With the LDS church being one of the fastest growing religions in the world, the best way for new members to be taught is by repetition. Also, you may hear something in the Spring General Conference that sails past you, and the same statement made in the Fall General Conference is embedded in your soul because you were open to receiving it. And lastly, we are taught that our Apostles receive revelations from our Heavenly Father on an ongoing basis, We must always be attuned to what our Apostles say. Alberta Reader | 12:49 a.m. Aug. 19, 2010
The Caravan Moves On
I don't know you but I have followed your comments as they appear and I can tell I like you.

AS one of the apostles said at the conference priesthood meeting in Alberta. Once we have 100 % tithe payers each and every yr we will quit talking about it.
Are you living everything you hear perfectly? I'm not so I doubt you are.
We are being told how to make it to the Celestial Kingdom what more do you need or want to hear?
If you are a parent I suppose your children only every had to be told once and they had it right?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Joseph Smith Papers

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check a store near you >You may also enjoy:The Eternal ChristThe Joseph Smith Papers: Television Documentary Series, Season 1Stories from the Life of Porter Rockwell (DVD)

The Joseph Smith Papers: Television Documentary Series, Season 2

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Description Excerpt
Reviews In Season 2, scholars continue the story of Joseph Smith by using the documents that survive to illustrate his life, many of them the very texts that compose the published volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers. Whether on location or through in-depth interviews, early Church history comes alive in this landmark documentary series.

This documentary series is produced by KJZZ Television and the Larry H. Miller Communications Corp., in cooperation with the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and The Joseph Smith Papers Project. Focusing on the documentary record primarily found in the LDS Church History Library, more than fifty esteemed scholars of early Mormon history appear on the program in interviews and in lectures.

•The series aired weekly on KJZZ TV, and season 2 will also begin airing weekly on BYU TV in late summer 2010.
•This 6-DVD boxed set includes all season 2 episodes
•A comprehensive summary of all episodes
•A complete topical index

Friday, August 13, 2010


Quarterdeck: A Kydd Sea Adventure #5 (A Kydd Sea Adventure)Quarterdeck: A Kydd Sea Adventure #5 by Julian Stockwin

A fabulous yarn of a young man, Thomas Kydd, press-ganged into the British Navy during the late 1700s, who rises to Acting Lieutenant and is intrumental in portraying to the brand new Amercian Navy how the British Navy is run. Stockwin has done his ground work well, for he writes of many of the little-known historical facts of life aboard ship in that era

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The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

The Legend of Colton H. BryantThe Legend of Colton H. Bryant by Alexandra Fuller

I never knew that there were so many gas wells in Wyoming! I certainly never knew that the US allowed the workers to work in such horrific conditions. This is a sad story of a lad who was slightly retarded, who had a good friend called Jake, and was loved by his family. Fuller writes the tale of Colton, his joys, sorrows, determination and loves, as he lived his life with family, friends, then a new wife, until his death caused by a fall from one of the gas wells.

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Henry VIII and his Six Wives

The Six Wives of Henry VIIIThe Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While waiting for Weir's Elizabeth 1 I will read this one. That Henry VIII wasn't as bad as I thought he was, that he was under a great deal of pressure from the privy council, parliament, the religious clergy and royalty on the continent to produce an heir. The manipulation of the court to bring about the destruction or displacement of his wives was an eye-opener. I liked it, for I enjoy a book that can teach me something that I didn't know

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hezekiah IV

Hezekiah IV
by susandayley on August 11, 2010
Last week after Judah received a major defeat at the hands of the Israelites, one of the amazing stories of the Bible occurs involving the prophet Oded. This week fast forwards to shortly after the ceremony that ordained Ahaz as king. Ahaz met with his advisors and led them to decide that a tribute must be sent to Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, hoping that Assyria will crush Israel and Syria, but spare Judah. Hezekiah listened to the meeting from a doorway and then descended to where his friend, Eliakim waited.

“Come quickly,” Hezekiah called, motioning to Eliakim. Hezekiah hurried away from where his friend stood in the shadows of the palace gardens. He ran toward the western gate.

“Stop,” Eliakim finally insisted. “What is happening?”

“King Ahaz has received information that Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria is growing bold and is advancing. He will send a message and a gift in hope of avoiding a war.” Hezekiah backed up to a stone wall and tipped his head to stare at the cloud covered night sky above. “He told Shebna to write: ‘I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.’”

Eliakim stumbled and gripped the wall beside his friend. Hezekiah continued with agitation and no longer hiding his anger, “Does he not know the King of Assyria will see this as a great weakness? He will extort a heavy tribute at best and possibly be tempted to take our land as well. This will not be an alliance with Assyria; it will place us in suzerainty. Ahaz is offering to forfeit our sovereignty!”

Eliakim, in his shock, whispered, “You said the king will send a gift with his message?”

“The king has determined to send a gift of gold and silver to the king of Assyria. He is on his way to the temple treasuries.”

Eliakim’s face went white, his throat constricted and in horror he wrapped his robes around himself. “Is he going to the temple now?” he asked.

Hezekiah looked up to the cold figure beside him. “Follow me,” he said and hurried through the western gate of the palace complex that faced the steps that rose from the city to the temple.

They ascended the steps unseen, but by the time they reached the eastern portico they could hear the sound of a large group coming up to the temple on the hill behind them. Quickly Hezekiah led Eliakim into the outer court. Each court of the temple was built on a higher elevation. Ahead of them, across the court but lined up with the elaborate eastern gate in the outer wall, were the steps that led up to the eastern gate of the inner court. They darted forward and up the steps to where the great wooden gate doors were slightly open. Squeezing between them, they entered the tunnel leading to the inner court. There were four doors, two on each side to chambers within the wall; quickly they tried the doors until one opened. It was a storage room where oil and wine was kept. They crowded into the space and pulled the door shut just as Ahaz drew nearer.

Ahaz was not long in arriving at the portico, though some of his advisors were straggling on the steps up to the temple. He was accompanied also by several of the palace guards. Ahaz led the way through the Eastern gate, through the outer court, up the steps and through the gate tunnel past the room where Hezekiah and Eliakim held their breaths.

Ahaz was carrying his own torch and was followed first by the few men still able to walk, though with uncertain steps. They had been given additional wine to enable them to witness without protest the blasphemy that was to occur. Behind the advisors were the soldiers carrying torches, large baskets and a few wooden boxes.

The gate at the temple end of the tunnel was closed and secured. Ahaz stopped, then using the end of his torch, he beat on the wooden doors, and called loudly for Urijah.

There was a shuffling sound on the other side of the wall, coming from the northern gate which led to the priest’s quarters. Ahaz had continued to shout between periodic blows to the door, demanding that Urijah hurry. The shuffling stopped and a voice came through the gate, “What would you have of me?” It was Urijah, but gone was the confident strength of that day when he had anointed Ahaz as king.

“Open this gate!” Ahaz demanded.

“But it is well into the night,” came the reply. It was an indication that Urijah guessed what their purpose was.

“I am your King!” Ahaz shouted, his voice filled with anger. “Open this gate and stand aside! Open it or we will force it!”

Slowly the mechanisms moved and the gate swung inward. Ahaz brushed by Urijah who still made a feeble protest, and marched right past the altar and the brazen sea to the steps of the temple.

Those behind him stopped. Although the king had gone that far earlier, none else were permitted beyond the altar except priests or those of the Levite tribe. Ahaz spun around when he realized they were no longer right behind him. “What have you come for?” he snarled. “To watch while I do the work myself?” Then a burley Philistine who should never have entered the temple courts, and who still prayed to his own gods, stepped forward with a grin. This time Hezekiah wasn’t quick enough to suppress his gasp.

Hezekiah and Eliakim had left their hiding place, but remained in the shadows of the wall as they watched. With Hezekiah’s loud intake of breath, Eliakim had gripped Hezekiah’s forearm and dug his fingers in while looking around in fear.

But no one had heard Hezekiah’s gasp, and Eliakim’s grip eased as they watched the other soldiers step forward to the left side of the temple. The men who had counseled the king earlier, now found themselves without courage. They sought behind themselves for something to hide behind. Then one by one, without looking up, they slunk away, past where the two young men froze in the darkness. Hezekiah knew they would return to their various apartments to sleep off the haze that gripped their minds, but with the new day they would have to face the condemnation of their consciences.

Urijah had also disappeared with the few priests that had followed him from curiosity. After letting Ahaz in, they quickly retreated and Hezekiah had come out of the tunnel just as the northern gate closed, as if this barrier between the priests and the actions of the king could absolve them of knowing. But the minds of the priests would not be confused with wine, Hezekiah thought. He pictured them lying down on their mats, staring with wide eyes at the darkness in their individual cells.

The next few minutes were a reminder to Hezekiah of the dark deeds Ahaz was capable of, but he remained so that he could witness against his father. He glanced once toward Eliakim who was still as stone beside him. He reached for his friend’s arm while they watched Ahaz lead soldiers to the storage rooms on either side of the temple.

From the deep chambers they began to fill their baskets with treasures of the kingdom as well as sacred relics from past temple worshipping and sacrifices. Golden and silver objects were cast into baskets without heed to their purpose but only their value as would be determined by a set of scales.

Hezekiah and Eliakim had moved closer for a better view. The emptiness of the temple court and the silence of the towering altar casting a deeper shadow in the waning moonlight created a dreamlike atmosphere. Only the hushed noises of the plunderers echoed across the paving stones. The youths had stopped beside the beautifully carved oxen that supported the sea. The gold plated beasts seemed to follow Hezekiah with their eyes. He involuntarily backed away from proximity to the sharp horns and wide nostrils.

“I have seen enough,” Eliakim said. Eliakim turned around, and walked back through the gate tunnel, across the outer courtyard and toward the portico beyond the eastern gates. Hezekiah looked one last time toward the temple just as Ahaz led his soldiers up the temple steps and reached to open the massive doors. Then Hezekiah hurried after his older companion.

He found Eliakim at the far wall of the portico, standing in one of the arched windows that overlooked the terraced courts and then the Kidron valley below. The clouds had moved away and Eliakim was framed against the star-filled sky with his back to Hezekiah. His voice came as if from the depths of the heavens themselves.

“Tonight Ahaz has raided the Temple of the Lord to pay tribute to an earthly king. He has chosen who he will serve and it is not God. His sin will cripple his people. They believe his flattering words and allow their lusts to bind them.” Eliakim spoke with firmness. He turned to look Hezekiah directly in the eyes. “Who do you serve Hezekiah? What kind of king will you be for Judah?”

Friday, August 6, 2010

Another section of Hezekiah

Stripped of his armour, in the aftermath of the battle, Hezekiah is mistaken for a youth of Ramah and is led away with the captives:

Hezekiah, who needed one hand to carry the water bags flung on his shoulder, found he could assist a child with his other hand. By gripping their hands together he could bounce a child along, speeding their pace and saving them the sting of the whip. But his heart was shut from forming attachments.

Each step brought Hezekiah closer to a future of abuse and slavery, far from the marble and golden halls of his palace home. The journey removed the joy and plans of childhood from him and he briefly considered telling the soldiers who he was. Usually the son of a king would be a prize to be ransomed. But Ahaz would not consider Hezekiah one and he remained silent.

The people were driven into the hills, through the pass created by the river’s tributary, and toward the capital city, Samaria. Finally after long days of miserable travel, the army suddenly stopped their march. In the light of late afternoon they could see the walls and towers of Samaria less than an hour away on a hill in the distance. Beneath the city was a fertile valley, filled with grains, olive groves and grape vineyards. The lush landscape spread out and greeted them in the foothills from which they were descending.

A relay of voices called back for a stop and Hezekiah eased the heavy burden of water skins from his shoulders to the ground. He turned so the breeze would wash over his wet back where the water from the skins had run with the sweat from his labor. All around him were women in rent clothing and torn feet who carried babes and tried to cheer dirty, exhausted children. They had been fed little beyond the sting of a whip and they had eyed the water Hezekiah carried vainly, for it was only for the soldiers.

As soon as the army halted, the women and children eased toward a grove of olive trees, hoping to find water in an irrigation channel or muddy puddles. When the stop lengthened Hezekiah took the water bags and worked his way, with stooped shoulders and shuffled steps, as close to the front as he dared. He gave water to any soldier who demanded it as he advanced. Then he heard a voice that was shouting to a muffled crowd.

“Oded, the prophet, has come to speak to the armies of Judah and Israel,” the voice said. The statement was met with silence.

Hezekiah moved forward. There he saw a large group of people that had come out from the city to meet the army. The army had stopped and in the distance between the two groups was a small detachment that had separated from the city group and moved forward. The men of the detachment were well dressed and their faces had not seen the bitterness of war. In the middle, was an elderly man on a donkey that held the attention of all who were gathered. Standing at his right shoulder was a man who would listen to his words and then shout them to the army.

“Behold the Lord God of your fathers,” he called out, “was wroth with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven.”

The tired soldiers who were weary with the march suddenly interrupted in a shout of victory. Surely the Lord God had delivered Judah into their hands. Some congratulated each other and some turned to kick or spit on the captives they had brought. Hezekiah felt a blow to the back of his head that sent him to his knees.

But the man on the donkey raised his hand and eventually they quieted. Then his spokesman called out, “And now,” he said clearly, “ye purpose to keep as bondmen and bondwomen the children of Judah,” they nodded their heads with smiles that quickly faded at his next words. “But are there not even with you sins against the Lord your God?” There was a sudden silence in the ranks; the words stunned them.

“Who has not committed sins?” one of the soldiers shouted. “Are we afraid of the words of an old man?”

“But it is the prophet of the God of our fathers,” a chief captain said steadily in response. The soldiers began to shift uneasily.

“We have sinned,” an older soldiers said loudly. “Have we not forgotten God and offered sacrifices to false idols? If it was God who delivered them into our hands because of their wickedness, should we who are also wicked claim the spoils of the victory?”

Hezekiah looked up stunned. He had not considered that his people had been defeated in battles because of their wickedness. He thought back on the war and how badly it had been going for them. Did nobody in Judah make the connection? Why did the people not repent and turn again to the God of their Fathers? Hezekiah stood up to look around at the faces of captives and soldiers. He suddenly realized there had been no prayers to the Lord during the march. Then Hezekiah knew one answer: Ahaz. Though not yet king, his influence and even commands had done much harm to Judah.

“What are we to do?” someone called out.

The man who was the voice for Oded the prophet paused to listen with his ear near the prophet’s mouth. Then he stepped forward and called out loudly, “The prophet has spoken, ‘Now hear me therefore, and deliver the captives again, which ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you.’”

There was a great disturbance of noise. Then again the army settled down and turned to watch because the multitude from the city began to part and four men on magnificent mounts rode through them, passed the prophet and his group, then stopped when they were right up to the commanders of the army. Their rich robes flowed over their beautiful horses that pranced restlessly. A tall man with light hair spoke, “I am Azariah the son of Johanan. These are Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, and Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai. We fear what will befall our city if you bring these women and children among us. We have come forth this day to say, ye shall not bring in the captives hither.” He looked at each leader in turn and then let his eyes travel the ranks behind. “For whereas we have offended against the Lord already, ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our trespass is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.”

Hezekiah decided that these men must have been princes for the army began to look at each other as if they knew there were no alternatives. They reluctantly unloaded their packs of the spoils, then quietly, rank on rank, they rode or marched around the group that had come out from the city. They moved forward resentfully, but without further debate. Some of the soldiers went with shame creased into their faces, but many cast angry glances. Some of the captains swore vengeance softly in their beards, but nobody offered resistance to what they had been asked to do.

Hezekiah returned to the thick of the captives where there were several women and children he had travelled with. He related to them the events. Many worried what their fate would be now. They were interrupted by the people from Samaria who began to move among them.
The Samarians carried baskets from which they produced food, spare robes, bandages for wounds, and ointments for sore feet. They brought skins and jugs of fresh cool water and they began to use what they had brought to administer to the worn, hungry and ill treated captives. They worked gently and with kind smiles. They made a camp there in the hills among the grape vines and olive trees. That night everyone slept soundly in the camp. Then the people of Samaria carefully led the captive women and children back the way they had come.

Jack and Jill of *many* trades: Visiting Teaching Handout Dec

Prepared for our Visiting Teaching handout as we are having our annual visiting teaching meeting and yearly programme

Jack and Jill of *many* trades: Visiting Teaching Handout Dec

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jacinta Tynan

Weird how my rello won his fame
Email Printer friendly version Normal font Large font September 13, 2008

The wildly popular author "Nino Culotta" was easily forgiven by the public for his subterfuge, writes Jacinta Tynan.

Every family has a claim to fame and ours is this: we're related to Nino Culotta. That counted for a lot as a child of the '70s and surpassed all other family feats, past and present, including a grandfather with a dozen published books and a great-grandfather (his father) who became a barrister in his 50s after being forced off the land due to drought with eight children and a piano.

It's 50 years since Nino Culotta published his rollicking bestseller They're A Weird Mob, about arriving from Italy on a ship and finding work as a brickies' labourer in Punchbowl, where he struggled to comprehend and eventually master the Aussie vernacular and ingratiate himself by bellowing, in a near perfect Aussie accent, "Howyergoinmateorright?"

But what I have never understood is how he got away with it. How did John O'Grady write a book pretending to be Nino Culotta when he was actually someone else entirely and still be warmly embraced, revered even, by the nation? Helen Darville was hammered 35 years later for wearing peasant blouses and feigning Ukrainian ancestry for her award-winning novel. James Frey was rebuked on Oprah for fabricating large parts of his memoir. And Norma Khouri was pilloried for not being a Jordanian woman who had witnessed honour killings, as she claimed in Forbidden Love.

So how come Uncle John pulled it off? That's my great-uncle John O'Grady, of 100 per cent Irish Catholic stock who fooled the entire country that he was a naive but lovable Italian immigrant who lobbed here with nothing but an English phrase book which bore no resemblance to the language being spoken around him in the pub at Kings Bloody Cross. He quickly learns that a "schooner" is not a sailing vessel and a "shout" doesn't mean to yell. Early reviews praise the "New Australian" for his "triumph over a strange and ridiculous tongue" and for "marching boldly but unassumingly into unfamiliar surroundings". Only, the surroundings were not unfamiliar, and there was nothing unassumed about it.

It's not like his deceit was premeditated. It happened by default. John O'Grady never set out to be an author but accepted his lot as a pharmacist until a bet with his younger brother, Frank (my grandfather), who had published several works of historical fiction, spurred him on.

John's son, also John O'Grady, recalls it well. "Every Sunday the family would gather at my grandparents' home at Bronte. One Sunday my Uncle Frank had a new book out and foolishly asked Da what he thought of it. My father used to refer to Frank's books as 'library novels', because they were researched in the library. Da said: 'Not much, and if I couldn't write a better book than that I'd give up.' So Frank bet him �10 that he couldn't write any sort of book and get it published. He said, 'I'll take the bet'."

John had written before - one-act plays for the Sydney Repertory Theatre, which he founded - but never a book. When he took time out from pharmacy to help a mate build a house at Punchbowl, it got him thinking.

"He was fascinated by the people he met on the building site - but couldn't understand the language," recalls John jnr. "They were speaking 'Australianese', as he used to call it. He thought the language was wonderful, but thought, 'If I can't understand it, what about these poor migrants? How do they understand it?' At the same time he'd been learning Italian from his barber, so that's where the idea for the book came from."

John O'Grady wrote They're a Weird Mob in six weeks before heading to Samoa as the Government Pharmacist and forgetting all about it.

"He said, 'toss this in a drawer until I get back'. He certainly didn't think it would get published. But I decided it was too good for that. I really did think it was very funny."

John Jr, who was working with Reg Grundy on Wheel of Fortune on 2CH, decided to act as his father's agent. After a rejection from Angus and Roberston, who suggested that "in spite of some very amusing incidents and a fine command of Australian slang, the story would not make a successful book", he sent the manuscript to the publisher Ure Smith, under the pseudonym of Nino Culotta.

Sam Ure Smith, now in his late 80s, gave the pages to his secretary, Janette Ven Brown, to read while at the hairdresser and will never forget her enthusiasm.

"She came rushing back to the office waving it in the air and said, 'You have to read this now'. So I started reading it on the train and I came back the next morning and said, 'You've picked a winner. It was plain good humour. Very Australian and entertaining. I thought, 'I'll be surprised if this doesn't sell like mad.' I rang John O'Grady, the agent, and said, 'I accept this for publication.'

"I didn't know quite what to tell Sam because he wanted to meet the author," recalls John. "I tried to fudge it but decided to let him in on the secret, that the writer was not Nino Culotta but my father. But Sam decided to leave it as it was. He thought the book would be more successful if people thought it was written by a 'New Australian', so we kept it between us."

Australians new and old lapped it up. It sold a record 130,000 copies in its first year, bragged Ure Smith in a brochure in 1958. "This averages at 3000 per week, 60 per hour and one every minute of the working day!"

My mother, Maggie, also recalls being sworn to secrecy about her uncle's nom de plume.

"I read Weird Mob as a nurse, laughing my head off in the hospital wards. Then I saw in the paper it was Uncle Jack and thought, 'Oh dear. It looks like it's out!'

"I started to get a bit nervous about how long we could keep this going," John explains. "Journalists wanted to talk to Nino Culotta. I kept putting them off, saying he was out of the country, which was technically true because my father was still in Samoa. But they were deeply suspicious.

"I cabled him and said we needed a photo for the book jacket, so he sent a photo of himself sitting on a kerosene tin with his back to the camera. But then a journalist looked up the public records and blew our cover. We were worried it might kill sales but it didn't. They went through the roof."

Sam Ure Smith recalls: "It was well liked by the bookshops and that makes a big difference. It just took off. Boom! It was my greatest success in publishing. We flew ahead after that."

They're a Weird Mob was serialised on radio and newspapers and there were "weird mob" parties across the country, with guests sporting blue singlets and work boots. When O'Grady returned to Australia a few months later, he had no idea of the hype.

"I cabled him to expect press at Mascot and he got off the plane wearing the regalia of a Samoan chief in grass skirt and headdress. The press loved him. We were booked to go straight to the ABC studios for an interview but by then he was officially outed."

John O'Grady himself hinted at fear of retribution for withholding his identity, writing in They're a Weird Mob: "My family name is something quite different, but I can't use it here. Because this little book is about Australians, and if they knew who wrote it, some of them might put bricks through my windows."

As to why his father was let off the hook, John says times were different. "It was a more innocent period. He didn't pretend to live that existence. He thought it was a great hoot."

He encouraged Australians to have a good laugh at themselves, while providing a walloping hint for the tens of thousands of "new Australians" who were gracing our shores: "Get yourself accepted as one of him and you will enter a world that you never dreamed existed."

John O'Grady still has his father's first and only rejection letter framed on his wall. As the former head of situation comedy at the ABC, whose best-known success was Mother and Son, he says it is a reminder to never turn down a hit show. "I always got asked if I was that John O'Grady. My father loved it because he claimed credit for all the TV shows I did, except the ones he didn't like."

The book was reprinted every year for the next 38 years, and in 1966 was made into a hit film starring Italian actor Walter Chiari as Nino alongside Australian actors Chips Rafferty and John Meillon, with a cameo by Graham Kennedy.

John wrote 18 more books including a sequel to Weird Mob, and never went back to the pharmacy. Or Samoa. And yes, some time before he died in 1981, he collected on that �(pound)10 bet with my grandfather. Even though he owed him. Big time.

Jacinta Tynan is an author, columnist and a news presenter with Sky News. Jacinta Tynan presents the news for Sky News Australia. Prior to Sky, Jacinta presented news for ABC TV's international satellite news service and NATIONAL NEWSBREAKS for ABC TV. She was also a relief presenter for the main 7pm news bulletin, WEEKEND NEWS and WORLD AT NOON. Jacinta has been a reporter for THE 7.30 REPORT, LATELINE, the national news on ABC and Seven Network. Her years as a TV presenter have made her a popular choice for master of ceremonies and guest speaker.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Passages to the Past

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Review & GIVEAWAY: The Jewel of St. Petersburg by Kate Furnivall

The Jewel of St. Petersburg
by Kate Furnivall

Release Date: August 3, 2010

SYNOPSIS: Russia, 1910. Valentina Ivanova is the darling of St. Petersburg's elite aristocracy-until her romance with a Danish engineer creates a terrible scandal and her parents push her into a loveless engagement with a Russian count.

Valentine struggles to claim her own independence. But at the same time she is desperate to protect her young sister from the dangerous tumult that is sweeping through the city.

Meanwhile, Russia itself is bound for rebellion. With the Tsar and the Duma at each others throats, and the Bolsheviks drawing their battle lines, the elegance and opulence of Tsarist rule are in their last days. And Valentina will be forced to make a choice that will change not only her own life, but the lives of those around her forever...

Author Kate Furnivall has written an utterly engrossing story of Valentina Ivanova, a daughter to the finance minister to Tsar Nicholas II, set in St. Petersburg during a time of great civil unrest in Russia’s history. The working class and poor are getting more desperate every day as they fight starvation and disease or get injured, maimed or killed at the un-safe factories they are forced to work in while the upper class grow more rich and spend more extravagantly. The Revolutionaries are killing off government officials left and right and Valentina’s father is among the targets.

Valentina, though born in the upper class, is more interested in taking care of people than of dresses and parties and dreams of one day becoming a nurse. She is a bright, strong-willed girl whom I liked immediately and the rest of the characters were just as engaging - the endearing engineer, Jens; Arkin, the Revolutionary with a heart, Valentina’s sad mother Elizaveta and her unfortunate sister Katya. With exceptional descriptions of 20th century St. Petersburg, from the opulent homes of the Russian nobility to the squalid homes of the working class and the underground tunnels beneath the city, Furnivall draws the reader in and the fast-paced action keeps you flipping the pages quickly to see what happens next.