Some wonderful news came to my attention yesterday, and it’s “sharing time” right now. My home teachers are John and Teri (husband and wife), and I love them SO MUCH! They could be on the cover of the Ensign as an ideal home teaching team. And they’re kind and wonderful to everyone, not just to me. (But I think I’m really their favorite….) They’ve brought tomatoes and apples to our stake religion class (yummy things they’ve grown themselves), and they bring a happy spirit as well. Yesterday in class we were talking about – sharing ideas and experiences about – “more purpose in prayer” (from Hymn # 131: “More Holiness Give Me,” which is our theme for this “semester”). Teri also knows about our “porch stuff” on this Blog. Well, John went out and bought 2 rocking chairs for their porch!! (This isn’t a picture of their porch… it’s too dark right now for me to take a picture… but you can bet I’m going to go over there and “try them out!”). They said it’s so WONDERFUL to go out early in the morning. A beautiful, peaceful place to pray, to ponder, and just to ENJOY. And they see people! People out walking, some of whom visit a bit. Well, this is exceedingly happifying to me! I feel so excited that it really DOES make a sweet difference in our day (and our lives) to do some “porching.” It works!! (And I hope I haven’t embarrassed them or anything … I’d PERISH if they asked to be switched and quit being my home teachers!!!)



Porches and Relationships

Time to get back out on the porch for a while. I’m not sure we’ve done ANY “porching” yet this year on the Blog. Shame on MEE! This really is a topic I’m passionate about. There are times when I’m lazy, but mostly it’s just finding time to gather my thoughts. I think most of you can understand the dilemma, right? (I think I hear some shouts of “right!!”).


How would it be if there were someone in your life, an “earthling,” whom you could trust completely. How would it be if this were someone who would say to you, honestly, “You can talk to me about anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. I will always listen to you. I am always on your side. And you can trust me.” How would that feel? If you DO have someone like that, you are blessed! (Even if you don’t realize it). When I ponder about this, it feels like something our Heavenly Father might say. “I’ll always be here. You can talk to Me anytime you need to, anytime you want to.” And YES … He is Someone we can trust COMPLETELY.


My friend Shellie learned a lot about her Heavenly Father from/because of her earthly father. If I had any questions or concerns, I could talk to my dad. He was easy to talk to. I knew my dad meant it when he said I could talk to him anytime about anything, because his actions proved he meant it. He paid attention to everything about me — my actions, my tone of voice, my mood, the words I spoke … and the words I didn’t speak. The closeness between me and my father has been and still is a great source of strength to me. He never tried to solve all of my problems for me. He didn’t jump in and share all his wisdom and ideas. He asked me what my thoughts and feelings were, and what my ideas were for solving my own problems. How I value the conversations I had with him. I know the power that comes when one has truly listened, understood, and shown love. I think that as an only child I have learned well the value of being listened to. My father never did interrupt me, and his mind was never so preoccupied with his own thoughts that there was no room for me. That’s what I loved the most — that there was room for me in his life. Interestingly, in my Patriarchal Blessing there is an indication that I will teach people about communication. 


What a blessing if we can have a relationship with our earthly father which helps us learn something of the love, kindness, and care of our Heavenly Father. Communication with both of them is so important. Without communication – without conversation – how can there be a relationship? And how can a relationship survive if the conversations don’t continue? I don’t think it’s a revelation to any of us (certainly not a surprise) that meaningful conversations can strengthen relationships — with ourselves, with our families, with others, and with God. And our relationships seen to be “intertwined.” A sweet relationship with our Heavenly Father influences all our other relationships. Have you noticed this? Also, our relationship with ourselves — our sense of worth, belonging, and connection — does the same. Have you noticed this too?


I’d like to share a little bit about the relationship we have with ourselves. What kind of “conversations” do you have with yourself? You might want to “listen carefully” during the day today and see what you learn. Do you tend to be positive, or is most of your “self-talk” negative? (If you’re thinking “yes,” I’m sad – that has to be a difficult reality). I know I’m negative with myself a lot, but I’m also sometimes positive. I just “practiced what I was preaching” and discovered that I’m more negative with and about myself than I realized. Yikes! Maybe some of the rest of you will discover the same thing. We’ve got to stop it!


The more I’ve been thinking about it this morning, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that our conversations with ourselves likely has more influence on our conversations and relationships with others than we’re aware of. This is a relationship which we might be neglecting too much. Perhaps a little more time for introspection – for solitude – for pondering and meditating – would teach us and help us in many ways. Even in a busy life there can be some time found for contemplation. Maybe some time to think about how we feel about ourselves will turn out to be exceedingly important and worthwhile. Certainly our feelings about ourselves are healthier and more positive if we can learn to talk to ourselves in healthy and positive ways.


SO: Back on the porch, friends . . . do a little more positive, encouraging, understanding, compassionate talking with yourself. (If you do it out loud, the neighbors might start to do some wondering . . . .)




Most of us would like more time to sit on the porch alone, just thinking, pondering, and being quiet.  Maybe our porch is situated in such a way that we can even pray while we’re there.  For those of you who haven’t yet joined our “PORCHING” conversations, you might want to go back and take a look at some of the first postings about PORCHES.  Things on the Blog are organized in categories, so you can just click on PORCHES and get caught up with what we’ve been talking about so far. You’ll notice that we’re talking less about actual porches than we are about what seems to be missing now – so many have shared memories of porches from years gone by when family, friends and neighbors would gather for visiting and for just being together.  When we talk about “PORCHING” (and some of the other words we manufactured), we just mean that we feel we’re missing lots of meaningful conversations.


Today I want to share some ideas for when you’re “porching” by yourself.  Taking time, making time, for doing some thinking and perhaps even some self-evaluating. You can create a “porch experience” almost anywhere. I’m going to share some questions you might ask yourself.  I’m going to try to make myself stop before I’ve listed 50 or 100 … I do get carried away.  I think it’s better to choose even ONE question and just ponder it – go over it in your mind and be honest with the answers you come up with for yourself.  If you have a good friend – someone you trust and are comfortable with – you might ask questions to each other.  (Which kind of reminds me of “companion inventory” when you’re serving a mission).


So see what you think (THINK), and enjoy some time for yourself (if you can manage such a treat in your particular season of life).  If you can “pull it off,” savor the silence, even if it’s just for a few minutes.


Let the Spirit whisper “sweet somethings” to you. Discover some things which have been on your mind and in your heart which you’ve not yet had a chance to bring to your conscious attention.  ENJOY!


Am I comfortable alone?   Am I content with who I am and who I’m becoming?  Am I an encourager for others?


Could I become more optimistic?  Are there things I haven’t expressed gratitude for in too long (not just to Heavenly Father, but to others)?


Am I too critical?  Am I preaching anything that I’m not living myself?  Am I good at following up on plans and goals I make?


Do I help others succeed (and feel successful)?  Am I holding any grudges that I need to let go of?  Am I kind enough to myself?


Am I able to say “no” when I need to?  Do I do a lot of rationalizing?  How’s my relationship with my Heavenly Father?


How often do I have a meaningful conversation with others? Can I tell when enough IS enough?  Is there anything I can do to have more personal peace?








The topic this morning is about conversations we wish we’d had. Or that we’d paid more attention to. Or that we wish we could have listened in on. Or with those who were hard to talk to. Is there still a chance for some that we wish we’d had?


There was a story in the Los Angeles Times on 27 February, 2002, about a woman who was rescued after being trapped in her own home for nine days.  “No one heard her screams.  No one heard her cries for food and water.  No one knew this wheelchair-dependent diabetic was alone.”  No one except her husband, Agustin.  But she had gone with him to the emergency room a week and a half earlier because he was in great pain.  Before he was rushed into surgery he had told his wife to take a taxi home.  Soon after returning home, Amparo fell and couldn’t get back up.  She yelled over and over again for help, but no one heard her.  When Agustin became conscious enough to speak, he explained that Amparo was home alone, and the hospital staff contacted police.  An officer found her stuck between the bed and the wall, and her first words were to ask about her husband.  They were soon reunited.  When interviewed, her next-door neighbor said “I feel so bad.  We have lived here for years, but never talked.”

That is SO SAD! I’ve found myself hoping that there’s no one whom I could have kept in touch with better and perhaps made a difference in their life. I had a wonderful visit with my “last Aunt,” Rhea, on Saturday as I was delivering Halloween boxes “all over creation” (ha). She’s 88, and once she’s gone, it’s “our turn” to be the “oldest ones left” in our family. And I have to admit that there are MANY conversations I wish I’d had, that I’d paid more attention to, and so on.

There was another article about something similar which happened in a Massachusetts neighborhood in 1993.  It was a working-class neighborhood, full of good people.  They tried to help their reclusive neighbor, mowing her lawn and collecting her mail.  Then, to their horror, they discovered she’d been lying dead in her kitchen for four years!  Some said things like “people have their own lives.  They go their own ways.”  One resident said that neighbors didn’t want to get involved with their neighbors.  He said that “neighbors aren’t like they were 20 years ago.”

Is he right?  Is that true?  The article related that police found the decomposed body lying in a six-foot heap of trash she had let accumulate in her kitchen.  It is believed that she died of natural causes about four years earlier; that’s when her bank transactions ended.  Police found a telephone on the floor nearby, as though the 73 year-old woman had tried to call for help.  Neighbors who never saw much of her anyway inquired about four years ago after they hadn’t seen her in a while.  One of her brothers, who wasn’t close to her, told police she had gone in a nursing home.  Life went on in the neighborhood, with one man mowing her lawn and another taking care of a pile of mail that built up before the post office began returning it to senders.  A utility company was called to tend to broken water pipes.

I’m not trying to be a “downer” this morning, but I just wonder if there are way too many other stories which are similar to these (and much more recent).  Have we lost the meaning of the word and feeling “neighbor?”  I pray about being a better neighbor. I’d give myself maybe a C- or D+. Not too great, is it. Did either story bring anything to your mind?  Not that you have been quite so neglectful of neighbors, but have you remembered a time when you felt some regret at having missed a chance to talk to someone who maybe needed you, or you needed them?  Sometimes we can be so close to someone and yet so separated.  And something may happen which causes us to feel bad about missing a conversation.


Most of us can probably remember an experience where we were “right there,” and yet for some reason a conversation we had hoped for just didn’t happen.  If you’ve thought of someone you wish you had talked to, could you still make it happen?  Is there still time?  Porching doesn’t actually have to happen on a porch (although it’s such a wonderful place for a good, comfortable conversation). See if you can think of someone who needs you to “go-a-porching” to them.  Have a wonderful Monday!  (Even though we poke fun at this day….)



Back to the PORCH

Thank you for your wonderful responses to the Blog about PORCHES. I know it’s been a while since I received so many positive, interesting, fun, great stories and comments. I hope we haven’t “lost steam.”  But it seems as though many of us have had similar feelings about the loss of something (or at least the lessening of it)… of conversations. Of real, face-to-face conversations.  Many have expressed the feeling that we’ve lost something in our communication with each other – in our families, among friends and neighbors, and even with ourselves and our Heavenly Father.

Our world has become increasingly fast-paced, and we seem to search for easier, short-cut ways of sending and receiving messages.  Kind of like “10-second, ‘no-frills’” communication.  Skip this getting acquainted and building trust and relationships stuff … “cut to the chase!”  It seems like we act as if “real” conversations get in the way of efficiency and speed.  We’re so used to (and demanding of) fast food, fast service, fast lanes, fast oil changes and internet speed and service at the bank and post office … and so on (and on and on) that we want our connections with people to be that way too. But relationships don’t grow very deep from the “hit-and-run” method, do they.

I guess the funeral for my nephew has me thinking again about relationships. I’ve known him his whole life, and we’ve had some unforgettable conversations.  I wish there had been more, and yet I’m not expressing regret – even when we couldn’t be on a porch together we sent notes back and forth. Having him gone (temporarily, thanks to the light and truth which God has given us) has caused me to ponder on relationships with those who are still here.

One of my frustrations is that as earthlings we have to measure time. We all get only 24 hours each day. Donald Trump doesn’t get any more time in a day than Sukiman in Indonesia or you wherever you are. Researchers have discovered that the following people had or have exactly the same amount of time in every day: Albert Einstein, the worker at the drive-up window at Chick Fil ‘A, Mahatma Gandhi, Yahn Yahnsen in Wisconsin (surely some of you know the song…??), the child who lives near the Bering Sea in Alaska, the newest baby on the planet, the CEO of Spudnuts, Howard Hughes, Johnny Linggo, Steve Jobs, Dr. Zhivago , Brigham Young, Nancy Drew, Sheri Dew, Marco Polo, Queen Elizabeth, or anyone else currently alive or about to arrive. We ALL have just 24 hours per day. And I have the courage to be concerned about the lack of conversation . . . .

Part of what I try to do – feel a need to do – is to “go porching” to those whom I most want to have long conversations with. I guess we’ve all discovered that it’s so hard to fit everyone and everything in to the minutes of the day (especially when time really does fly on wings of lightning!!).  I’ve found that some people seem “un-porchable” … they can’t seem to settle down and just T-A-L-K… And honestly, I find myself being that way too – kind of “fidgety” and semi-responsive to a nice “porcher” who just wants to have a good, long visit.

Satisfying conversations with others are kind of like sunshine and water to plants – they help the roots of friendship and caring sink deeply and grow stronger and stronger.  And that’s one of the main reasons I worry about the disappearance of porches, and the lack of use of the porches which have somehow survived the tragedy.  One thing I loved SO much in the many comments I’ve received is reading about memories – you’ve brought back additional memories to me just by sharing some of your favorite porch moments, porch experiences.  Let’s keep it up. Let’s share ideas with each other. I’ll do my best to quit being so absent on the Blog … I miss the chance to be in touch and hope I can get back to my initial “habit” of posting almost every day.  I think of things every day … I’m just not always able to post (I don’t have time, or I don’t have internet…).  Pease hang in there with mee – I really appreciate our little community, our “porch-rich” community, and I thank you for stopping by.  And by the way, I apologize that I don’t always get around to responding to comments – I do in my heart, but I know not everyone can read my heart or my mind.  Thanks so much!!  With love, MEE



Between Facebook and the Blog, I’ve received some absolutely wonderful responses to my first message about PORCHES and creating a “porch feeling.” THANK YOU! We have some new words: PORCHLESSNESS and PORCHING, to go along with the “PORCH FEELING.” OH! And “VIRTUAL PORCHES.”  YES!  Thanks so MUCH for ALL you’ve shared! There will be many more Blog poses on porches, but I might be without internet for a few days, so ENJOY General Conference and check back on Wednesday, OK? OK!

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I got so many notes with memories of time on the porch. Sadly, most of them were from the past… from quite long ago. That IS sad. We need to get back to “porching.” It can be a front porch, a side porch (Fei thinks I wrote “a side of pork” and is sobbing)…. We can even do what my wonderful neighbors Ron and Shirley used to do (and I hope they’re continuing their tradition): Put chairs in the yard. I loved visiting neighbors and putting chairs in a circle. I’d take my guitar and some friends and we’d sing the old “camp songs” – the ones we mostly knew the words to.  And as I mentioned, even on my small front porch (I didn’t design the place…) I have a chair and love to sit out there and just THINK when there’s a delicious storm.


Margaret lives in SW Virginia “where all my ancestors all gathered on their porches and shared stories with neighbors and family.” Great memories! Ann “blew me away” with her note (I’ll share part of it): “As a student at the U of U we actually researched and studied neighborhoods with and without porches. I the topic. My professor Dr. B. Brown is an expert on porches and what they bring to a neighborhood. You should google the topic. Look at older neighborhoods. People use them. The feel is just different than in newer neighborhoods where people get in and out of their houses from the car in the closed garage door. No chatting, no interactions with neighbors.” Fantastic! She said she should continue with her research and then she’d quote mee in her disseratation! HA HA  I guess one reason I miss “porch neighborhoods” is that in my growing-up years that’s what we had. And we actually had neighbors who would sit on the porch and call out to us (and we called ALL neighbors “Aunt” and “Uncle,” which was so nice!). Janet shared a picture of her “patio porch;” it’s beautiful! Trudy said Grandma Healey’s house in Alpine has many porches (front, side, AND back!!), and she includes many sweet memories of many porches. I think we should have a porch convention at Grandma H’s house. Lindy knows of a B&B with a great porch. Chad shared this: “When we built our home we chose a design that had a porch big enough for sitting. I have rocked babies to sleep on the front porch, read books, had family chats (we should do it much more often), held bishoping session with ward members, taken photos of first day of school send offs, and welcomed many friends and family members with hugs and smiles.” (He and I served missions in Indonesia at the same time; he was uber outstanding!)  He included a picture. (This isn’t it! He’s YOUNG!)


Lorraine said that porches say a great deal about the folks that live in the house. True! It does make you feel more welcome and “comfy” as you get to the front door. James said that “One of my favorite memories is of my wife, cuddling a granddaughter, wrapped in a quilt, enjoying a rainstorm from our front porch. We love front porches.”  Dorann has neighbors who put lawn chairs in front of their open garage doors several evenings a week to watch children play (in their cul-de-sac), and typically others in the neighborhood will stop by. Dorann’s done it too and said it’s very nice. Great idea! Whit (one of my FB Gurus) shared that she and others feel air conditioning and other “conveniences” (maybe including a remote garage door opener?) have led to a decline in “porching.” She had neighbors who’d have a neighborhood BBQ… great idea. We had some neighborhood parties at our home in Mapleton and had neighbors share slides of their family and activities, and we showed them BIG on the side of our white barn! The whole back/side yard was a “porch!”  Jennifer and her husband just bought a home on a street she affectionately calls “Porch Street!” Hooray!


Lynda said everyone needs to put their cell phones, iPods, notebooks, computers, etc. in a secluded soundproof place and sit on the porch, “look into each other’s eyes, and talk with their mouths, to each other.” Ah…. Sounds good. One shared that her son and friends, when they go out to eat, put their phones in the center of the table. If anyone reaches for his or her phone, they have to treat everyone else! There’s a little place a couple of blocks from me where a copse of Aspen has been planted. In the center there are 6 or 7 chairs and some lanterns. What a great idea for neighbors to gather!! A friend with a home in Park City has a little copse growing for the same “porchable” area.  Charmaine was reminded of Grandma Laurie on her front porch waving.  Many mentioned rocking babies in a swing on a porch, decorating for different seasons, and putting up fun “RULES.”


Debbie wishes she could post pictures of the front porch of her youth (said she doesn’t know how, and I don’t know much yet either). Her Mom and Dad would sit and watch the kids play night games (oh does THAT bring back a slug of memories to mee!). She remembers stretching the long phone cord out there to talk to friends. And a final gathering after her Mother’s death, before the home was sold…. Tender. Ann suggested a kind of campaign slogan: “Porch Hearts United!” Sandra said she’s been thinking a lot about porches lately (we’re on the same wave length!), and she hopes to have one someday. Lindy has a backyard “porch” and puts up fairy lights “for ambiance in the evening.” FUN! She mentioned the Andy Griffith show, especially when they’d sit on the porch “chewing the fat” or playing a guitar and singing. Sweet! Jill’s the one who came up with the great word “porchlessness.” She’s going to start a Porch Fund. Beth grew up in Vermont “and when I moved West, a porch was a must.”  Kathy shared wonderful memories… playing, talking, singing, telling stories, shelling peas on her Grandmother’s porch. And she continues to sit on porches!… watching the neighbors’ cows from a back porch, seeing crops being planted and growing, etc. Irene feels we’re losing the art of just talking and interacting with each other.


I’ve got to get ready to go to the Temple, but you can tell I could go on and on. And ON. I love this topic! MUCH more to share in the future. I’ll be checking in. So keep a watch for more Blog posts. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!




PORCHES. I once wrote a little piece called “Where have all the porches gone.” I’ve been thinking a LOT about that lately. I think I’m going to start a new category on my Blog called PORCHES.


I’m not sure how this will “sit” with anyone who happens to read or see what I include. I suppose I’m taking somewhat of a risk. But I feel so strongly about the topic of COMMUNICATION / CONVERSATION that I’m feeling courageous. Brave. At least for today. The FIRST DAY of OCTOBER. And yes… a little bit nervous. I think it might help to re-post what I wrote about porches as a kind of introduction. I’ll hope for and appreciate feedback. NOT the “like” kind, I guess. In my somewhat reluctant start on Facebook, and the creating of a Blog, I’ve hoped to follow counsel to post things which are meaningful. I get a kick out of posting things which make me laugh out loud. But I also love posting things which have made me think. Deeply. Doing some earnest considering and pondering. I have an idea that this new PORCH category might do some of that (for mee even if for no one else).


So now I need to quit “wandering around” and post the porch thing and “git ‘er done!” This new category is going to be about “creating a porch feeling” in our relationships, in our communication. I’ll try to remember to post something on Facebook whenever I have something new in this category on my Blog (MEEThinks.net).  I want to know what YOU think.  Thank you.




I’ve been thinking about porches. If we were together, I’d ask you to sing with me: “Where have all the porches gone?”  For years I’ve had this thing on my mind about porches.  That’s one of the things which has changed about the pace of life.  When I was little, it seemed that more homes had porches, and more people used them.  I loved it when Palmers would be out on the porch, maybe with Roland playing his guitar and singing.  I loved it that Joneses were out on their porch as I’d roller skate by (although I didn’t appreciate it when they laughed when I’d crash).  I love Kent and Karen’s porch with the big, comfortable swinging bench (what’s the “real” name for those wonderful inventions?).  There’s a big tree near for shade.  I think we’d all be better off if there were more porches.  We’d be more in touch with each other.  Porches bring people together.  Several of my neighbors will line up chairs along the front of their home, and anyone is welcome to stop by and sit and visit for a while.  Almost like a porch.  A friendly, welcoming feeling.  Do you have a porch?  Or could you just put some chairs out in the front yard?  A porch doesn’t need to be fancy.  In fact, it seems that some of the porches on brand new homes might only be there for decoration — some look like they’ve never been used.  Some aren’t even wide enough for a chair. Maybe you live in an apartment on the 15th floor, but where it’s possible, could you create a porch-like feeling?  Maybe someone could play a guitar or harmonica once in a while.  Maybe you’d even like to sing.  I love doing that with friends and family — gathering and singing the familiar songs and visiting.  Solving world problems.  Sharing burdens and joys.  Sitting quietly.  I once heard a family described as “world-class porch sitters.”  I love the sound and feel of that. 


If you live in a neighborhood where there are several porches, you could form a porch association.  Nothing formal with dues and rules … just a fun way to encourage each other and act organized.  I’ve got a little porch (room for one at a time).  I think I’m suffering from porchlessness.  Do you feel it ever?  I’m thinking seriously of saving pennies and expanding out towards the driveway and having a real porch.  Ask me about it the next time you see me.  And think about doing something which will create a porch-like feeling where you live. 

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 I was tempted to make changes (it’s been quite a few years since I wrote this), but I’ve decided to include it just the way it was when I first wrote it.  This new category is going to be about “creating a porch feeling” in our relationships, in our communication. I’ll try to remember to post something on Facebook whenever I have something new in this category on my Blog (MEEThinks.net).