Saturday, July 31, 2010

Come to my Garden...

Maybe it's edible...

C's favorite garden was the Hobbit tunnel...

Complete with almost-Hobbit doors!
This is where he sprayed me with water...
More kisses, just for you!
Man-eating Koi...
Now what is he doing? 
The bird-lover found his treasured baby birds not only under the bridge, but in the rafters too! 

C's naughty-bench...
And they all lived happily ever after...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Somebody Wake Me Up...

It was like something out of a horror movie. After a week-long study session that turned my brain into a pile of viscous goo, I loaded all of my things in the car in anticipation for a three hour exam. Included were Trio bars, a Larabar, and plenty of water. I drove down the street to begin my peregrination to the testing center, only to find myself seized with the feeling that something seemed out of sorts. 

A pause.
A listen. 
A realization.
No, this was not possible.

Somewhere behind me came the cacophony of flapping rubber. I quickly turned my vehicle around, hastily tossed my belongings in our parsimonious and desultory pickup truck. Fortunately (for once), my keys worked to open the door. Since my stick-shift skills are dilettante at best, my strategy was to arrive at my destination with the greatest celerity. I found myself on a two-laned road with no passing zones, and there, in front of me was an antediluvian driving a bucolic "boat" of a vehicle, resulting in a highly anti-mercurial journey. 

Alas, it seemed as if all forces had gathered together to occlude my hasty arrival at the testing center. To say the least, things did not go as hoped. 

I returned home, exhausted, and saddled with the task of getting my vehicle operational again. Somewhere in that mental mess, two wires crossed so that I was also under the delusion that I had a hair appointment tonight with my stylist (the owner of the salon). C came home early and gave me his car, gallantly taking responsibility for repairing the flat tire on his way to the gym.

 I was so exhausted that I felt like a grumpy two year old whose naptime had passed me by. I grumpily ate a long overdue spinach, feta and strawberry salad (after which I was a little more pleasant) and while C headed off to the gym, I collapsed on the bed for a handful of minutes before heading out for my un-hair appointment. Fortunately a cute girl named Ashlee came to the rescue and offered to care for this brittle-nerved woman who had arrived a day early for her coiffure tending session and even made sincere assurances like, "I PROMISE I care about how your hair turns out." 

Indeed she did! My multi-hued tresses were matched up flawlessly to their former color, with a little less blonde at my request. The photo doesn't do it justice because of the lighting. Just pick a blond or caramel streak and follow it all the way to the scalp. Perfection! Three hours!!! later, I strode satisfied out of the salon, only to find a message and a text from C. 

Where are you? 

I just left the salon.

You were at the salon for THREE HOURS? 


Okay, where were you really? 

I laughed and reflecting on the fact that normally I would have been furious at such an insane use of my time, however, with my Krispy-Kream brain, I just sat there and took it all in:

...The careful blonde foiling of my hair
...the French woman who described her "boyfriend," causing me to give her an unintended evil look when she later mentioned that he had the same name as her husband (but wasn't her hubby), and later griped about weighing 121-and-a-half lbs! If only
...the careful caramel foiling of my hair
...the twenty minute wait while it took
...the realization that I could actually watch a movie on my iPhone while I waited
...the warm water on my scalp while Ashlee applied toner to my hair
...the yummy smelling Pureology shampoo, followed by the soothing mint conditioner complete with neck and scalp massage
...the loverly feeling of a round brush being pulled through my hair while warm air flowed through it
...the snip of the scissors, making sure that my bangs were perfect
...the decision to make the layers more defined, and so more cutting, the careful blending of the layers
...the flat ironing
...the shiny product and the airy mist of Redken hairspray...

And after three hours I felt sane again. I returned home to find bird toys and food on the porch with no bird or boy, but there they were inside, C working hard on a paper for work, and Kawi admiring his likeness in the mirror. 

At 9:30 PM I watched the clock, hoping I would not fall asleep before my 10:00 PM phone call with one of my conference executive committee members who is on holiday with his wife and family in France. Fortunately I made it, and I felt comfortable that we just might make the call for papers deadline after all. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mon Ami

Tomorrow is the GRE. Let me leave you with a little love:

Amazing Garden photos to follow soon...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Dream of NieNie

I am not sure where it came from, but I had a dream last night that I spent the night at NieNie's house. There was so much love in her home with her husband and kids and her sister was there too. I remember looking at her and thinking just how beautiful she was, and how I didn't even see the burns on her face. Then, as she went about her day, I dreamed that she went for a run and I asked if I could join her. She wasn't actually running very far, she was going to do something nice for a single mother of two children. I just remember feeling as if she was such a beautiful person, inside and out. She didn't believe me when I told her, "You are just so beautiful!" And I meant it. For someone who has been through so much, she is such an amazing lady! Maybe I am just hoping that someday I can have an amazing heart like hers!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


So if a four-leaf clover is considered lucky...
What would you consider a five-leaf clover?
As it turns out, I happen to have a few of these, so if you would like one (either four-or-five leaf) e-mail me and I will send you one. It's not exactly a major give-away or anything, but maybe that will happen later. 

I saw Salt last night. While certain members of the family (wink, wink) felt that her tiny 90 lb frame was incapable of taking down 220 lb men and leaping across semi-trucks, I felt she did a great job with the role. She went through some rigorous training, which surprisingly was not the norm. According to an online article, "She ate about five small meals a day and stuck to a diet of 70% carbs and 30% protein–and actually avoided cardio–to help “put muscle on without losing weight,” says trainer Simon Crane."

Well, I am taking the GRE next week, so I am going to go bury myself in some vocab words and math formulas, but first let me leave you with this little Gem. Have a splendid weekend!

Friday, July 23, 2010

An Asparagus Story

It was time for a party. My brother-in-law and sister were throwing a party with all of their 'single' friends and relatives to offer an opportunistic moment for non-threatening hook-ups. We each would bring a contribution to the evening meal. As poor student refrigerators go, mine was often filled with yams, asparagus, and other oddities that none of my roommates ever attempted to consume on the sly. 
"I have some asparagus!" I said to my eager-to-impress brother-in-law. 

"Great! Bring it over and I will throw it in the casserole. I am cooking tonight!" 

Somewhere in there I believe I asked if he had ever cooked asparagus before, to which he responded confidently that he would be fine. 

The dinner table was set, surrounded with the unmarrieds in their early twenties. The dinner rolls were lovely. One of the guys brought some punch. Another brought a bowl of peas. There in the center of the table was a generous casserole containing, among other things, cream of mushroom soup and asparagus. It smelled loverly. We dished up and then... the first bite. I am not sure how long I chewed on that first piece of asparagus before cautiously asking my brother in law, "Did you happen to cut off the ends of the asparagus?" He first looked at me with surprise, quickly informing me that he had not.

"Well, the bottom-half of the stalks aren't edible. You gently press a knife on the stalk until it easily cuts through, maybe two or three inches up."

In a face-saving attempt, he defensively retorted, "I spent two years in Russia watching people struggle to find things to eat and I am certainly not going to throw away any part of edible food." Edible, indeed, we all silently gnawed, and one-by-one excused ourselves to the bathroom to discretely dispose of the fibrous stalks in our mouths until at last he was left chewing, and chewing, and chewing...

After several minutes, he swallowed his pride (because no matter how hard he tried, he CERTAINLY couldn't swallow that asparagus) and tossed it on the plate. "Well I don't know who can eat that stuff," he said, much to our relief, considering that the rest of us had eaten everything else on our plates EXCEPT the casserole. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Truth Is...

The truth is, I am in a bit of a funk. 
I mean, who lets the ice grow in their freezer until the strawberries can't escape? And who lets it form into stalagtites until they have a pow wow with the stalagmites somewhere in the middle over the soybeans?
And what is that carnivorous beast of a glacier doing hanging out over the falafels? There is just something very wrong with this picture. 
But in all honesty, I have written six or seven blog entries in the past few days and have published none of them. Why, you might ask? Certainly not because they weren't good ones, because they were. They sit in my stagnant "post" box, the Ghost Town of thoughts and perspectives that may never see the light of day. I suppose there is this little trickle of reality that sweeps in and takes over. Dear lurkers, you quiet ones, I offer you a choice...
In my arsenal of unpublished blog entries, you may find the following titles. If you could peek in and read just one of these, which would it be? You see, they are already written. Speak now, or forever hold your peace, and they will disappear into the deep, dark archives of Never-Neverland.

1. Nom-nom-nom-nom
2. Disclaimer: Technology Junkie Moment
3. Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner 
4. Wanted:
5. Things I Say...
6. Recoilius Carlotticus
7. A Cockatiel vs. a Dog
8. Let's Hear it for the Boys...
9. Pull Up a Chair, Let's Chat
10. A Few Words on {mystery topic}...

And you thought I was exaggerating. 

There you have it. You choose! Vote with your words or your silence! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Crags and Crevices

Somewhere in the heart of the strongest mountain is a living pool of water that flows like the lifeblood of stone. It travels here and there, hidden from human eye, until at last, a break, a sliver of stone is thrown like a rock stopper from its home to release the water into a magnificent waterfall that breaks forth in glory. And while we may stand in awe at the mountain, it is the fountain which beckons our footfalls. It's a place that in all of that strength of stone reaches out to us, welcomes us, and makes us want to linger in its mist, this broken place, this bleeding heart.

And while we look up to the strong and the stable in this world, it is those who allow beauty to flow forth from their troubles and trials that draw us near, like welcoming arms, and refreshing waves of kindness. Did they ever know that it was the breaking of their heart that would make them so? Is it possible that in the moment of their own agony, they felt so broken, so incapable of greatness? And yet as they meekly bled through those trials, wonderful things took place, building a personal sanctuary from their lives.

It was a rough day today.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What's Different About a Mormon?

I think the most common issues around Mormons are misconceptions and misunderstandings. It's a very peculiar thing. I can't tell you how many questions I get that make me scratch my head and say, "Wow. Where did you hear something like THAT?" 

First, Mormons are not really Mormons. I mean, the term "Mormon" came about as a rather negative nickname from a group of people in the early 1800s who acted as persecutors to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When they called you a "Mormon," they said it the same way a racist would say the horrible "N" word to describe those with African American ancestry. It was not positive AT ALL. After almost two centuries of that nickname running around, I guess it's a way to help people know who you are, since nobody seems to know the proper name, despite the fact that it is a world-wide religion recognized in almost every country. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consists of almost 14 million members, the majority of whom live outside of the United States, so while Utah is often identified as its central point, this truly is an International organization. 

Our physical structures consist of office buildings for administrative purposes, historical sites and visitors centers where anyone may ask questions and learn about the Church, the nationally recognized and largest Family History Library, meetinghouses, which are used for Sabbath-day worship, and temples. I think temples draw the most attention of all. You have to hold a recommend to enter one of these buildings, stating you are worthy, so even if you are a member of the Church you may not enter without this recommend. Anyone may hold a temple recommend, but must first live very high standards, helping maintain the sacredness of these buildings. 

Prior to dedicating these temples for worshiping the Lord, anyone may tour them, no matter your faith, age, or worthiness. Next to the temple, we feel that our homes are the most sacred places, because this is where you raise children and families are VERY important to us! In fact, you might be aware that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with several other religious groups, have taken a stand that marriage is between a man and a woman. We aren't ashamed of that fact. Even President Obama stands for that. Even though this perspective  will never change, all people on the earth are sons and daughters of God and deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. (There, the elephant in the room has been addressed).

For some strange reason, "Mormons" are often confused with Amish people or a group of individuals who practice polygamy and live in large compounds in Utah, Arizona and other areas. Anyone who practices polygamy is not a practicing "Mormon." 

"Mormons" do dress and eat differently. While nobody is perfect, and we have the freedom to choose how we will live, those who abide by the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may often stand out from your everyday person in the following ways:

Clothing: Modest clothing, with shorts and skirts going to the knee, shirts that don't expose cleavage or middriffs, and that have at least a cap sleeve, clothing that is not skin-tight. Swim or exercise wear is usually one-piece or reasonably modest for the event.

Food: Avoiding foods or drinks that have addictive properties, including coffee, green or black teas, alcohol, and drugs; eating fresh fruits, veggies and grains when available, eating meat sparingly.

Language: Clean language without vulgarity and profanity, avoiding gossip and backbiting.

Families: In favor of large families because children are such a blessing, but also respecting that  family decisions belong to a family. 

Moral values: Keeping sexual activities within marriage (Abstinence)

Bodies: Our bodies are sacred, so we are taught not to cover them in tattoos (although some join the Church after they obtained them), body piercings (other than earrings on women), or similar activities.

Music: Music that uplifts, is not vulgar or crude.

There is this little pamphlet called "For the Strength of Youth." It basically covers those high standards you would need to live by in order to be worthy to enter the Temple. Even though it is for youth, adults are also taught to live the same standards. 

We take bread and water each week to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but you will probably not find any crosses in our meetinghouses or temples and here is why: we worship Jesus Christ and he still lives! 

The real focus of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is this: 
1. We are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We each have bodies that consist of a spirit and a physical body. When we die, we will temporarily be separated from our physical bodies, but because Jesus Christ, the Son of God died willingly for us, he broke the bonds of death so that we all will someday be resurrected like Jesus Christ was (our physical bodies and spirits will be reunited again forever). Everyone will be resurrected and have eternal life, no matter what.

2. We need to build a relationship with Heavenly Father while we are living on the earth. We will be rewarded during our eternal life according to how we live our lives today. Our spirits lived with Heavenly Father before we received our physical bodies, and we want to live with him again!  No unclean thing or person may live in God's presence, and there was only one perfect being who ever lived on the earth: Jesus Christ. Because he willingly suffered for our sins, we may be clean, but we must be willing to live our lives the best we are able and follow Christ's example and teachings and accept his atonement for our sins. We do this by repenting and praying to our Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Only those who follow Jesus Christ's teachings will be able to live in Heavenly Father's presence again.

There is much more, but everything else we teach in our Church centers around these two focal points. It's what we teach at Church, in our temples, and in our homes. Oddly, there are still some who say we are not Christians. 

Well, I hope you don't mind me taking the time to share a little more. "Mormons" you may know by name include: Steve Young (SF 49ers), Donny and Marie Osmond, Julianne and Derek Hough (DWTS), David Archuleta, Alex Boyé, producer Jerry Molen, reporter Jane Clayson, talk show host Glenn Beck, country singers SheDaisy, Gladys Knight, Marvin Goldstein, the Jets, Chelsea Hightower (DWTS), Lacey Schwimmer (DWTS), Ali Vincent (Biggest Loser winner), Ken Jennings (Jeopardy winner), Danny Ainge (baseball), John Huntsman (China Ambassador), Steven R. Covey, Stephenie Meyer (Twilight), Mitt Romney, J.W. Marriott (hotels), Mike Leavitt (U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services), and the list goes on and on... 

Interesting side-note, since I adore her acting: Amy Adams (Enchanted) was raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but I don't believe she continued to be involved after age 11 due to some family circumstances. 

Questions? Ask us, or go here to chat. Always feel free to ask...

Friday, July 16, 2010

How Do I Even Begin To Explain?

How do I even begin to explain what life looks like through my eyes?  
How do I explain the sweet bliss of my toes taking in the summer evening air while a tiny bird hops excitedly around me?

How do I explain the pure sweet taste of fresh garden peas on my tongue...
Or the perfection of home grown Walla Walla Onions?
How do I explain what it's like to grow broccoli for the first time, and finally discover just where in all of those cabbagy leaves that baby broccoli appears?
How do I explain my excitement about my very first eggplant sprout, drooping from its pale green stem?
How do I make someone understand how thrilled I am to grow my very first fennel, eager to see just what a garden grown fennel bulb looks like?
How do I explain the bliss at seeing the first cherries come on...
...looking better than any cherries I've bought at the store!
How do I justify the long moments of staring at a sliver of summer moon as the sun wanders off to bed?
How do I help someone understand how my imagination runs through a menagerie of new recipes every time I look at my herb pot growing more lovely each day?
How do I explain the satisfaction of finally being able to visually tell the difference between the round young Antique Jonathans... 
...and the heart-shaped Old Fashioned Red Delicious?
How do I explain the joy of buzzing around the neighborhood for the first time on a rattle-trap mini-bike while neighbors smile and wave?
How do I share with someone the delight of finding that a wasp thought that tiny black spot I painted on a two-inch high birdhouse really was a front door, and chewed his way inside?
How do I explain how all of those computer science books have opened up my mind to see the world in an entirely different light?
How do I explain the immense beauty of reading German poetry to someone who has only ever heard the German language shouted angrily in a war movie? 
How do I explain the little tickle in my heart every time I see my little bird instinctively care for the two round beads that dropped in the bottom of his cage?
How do I help someone understand how welcoming even a hastily made bed is after a long hard day?
How do I explain the soothing nature of freshly vacuumed floors in an otherwise chaotic day?
Life is beautiful all around me and it just keeps pouring more little pleasures into my daily measure of bliss, candy-coating the troubles and trials into a hearty feast of fascination. 

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