Monday, February 28, 2011

Bookishness

Books and I are friends again. This week, in particular, has cemented our relationship. Brian traveling, snowy weather, and a miserable cold have found me cozied up with a good book more often than not. My books of choice have left me crying and laughing and yearning for the companionship of the characters long after the last page was read. 

My friend, Jenny, recommended These is my Words and, *sigh*, I loved it. It is the next book I will recommend to anyone who asks. 

Brian has wanted me to read Papa Married a Mormon for years. I finally humored him and was glad I did. The author, John Fitzgerald, wrote the Great Brain series which Brian read aloud to each of our kids at bedtime. I remember hearing them laugh and laugh at the antics of "the Great Brian" and his siblings and they begged me to read the books for myself. I will. . . some day.
Audio books are something I have only recently taken advantage of, and this one (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) is fantastic. I mostly listened in the car, but at one point I brought the CDs inside and listened while I cleaned bathrooms, folded laundry, and started dinner. It made these chores actually tolerable. I loved the voice of Jayne Entwistle. She has the perfect British accent for this story.
I was excited to discover that there are two other Flavia de Luce novels. (Flavia is our heroine.) Hold requests at the library are in the works.
I just finished The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels--A Love Story. It was a fun, easy read. A nice escape.

I've exceeded my "goal" of one book a month, but what to read next? What to read next?

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Game of Tag

Lesa tagged me so now I'm "it". This is a 4x4 blog meme that reveals some insights about me.
1. Four places I go
  • to the high school and back
  • to the soccer field and back
  • to the gym
  • to the church to practice the organ
2. Four favorite smells
  • lavender
  • Jergens original scent lotion
  • freshly baked homemade cinnamon rolls
  • real Christmas trees
3. Four favorite TV shows/movies
  • The Sound of Music
  • Price and Prejudice
  • Ever After
  • A Walk to Remember
4. Four recommendations
  • If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
  • Be grateful.
  • Ask yourself, "does this REALLY matter?"
  • Feel the moment, enjoy the moment, be in the moment.

Hmmm. . . I wonder who will play along.

The four friends I tag are:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Popsicle Sticks and Toothpicks

I love when my 15-year-old unplugs himself from the PS3 and the TV and hones his creative skills.

All week the bar in my kitchen has been littered with artistic debris. I surprised myself with my tolerance and pushed the mess aside whenever we needed the space.
Note the satellite dish and missiles.
Engineering is now his career of choice. (In years past Travis' aspirations included being an architect, an orthopedic surgeon, or a pilot.)

In the meantime, however, we have plenty of popsicle sticks and toothpicks to keep him occupied.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Almost a Nightmare

I originally recorded this experience as a guest post on Notes About Music Notes last Fall. I am currently practicing for another musical number with my daughter and each time I sit at the keyboard I relive this memory. I thought it was time to post it on my own blog.

I was nervous. I’m always nervous when I play the piano in public despite numerous occasions to do so. This musical number needed to be perfect. My daughter (a flute performance major and talented musician) was playing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” during a Sacrament Meeting and I was her accompanist. It is my mother’s favorite hymn and we were playing it for HER prior to her leaving on an LDS mission to Germany.

I wanted the piece to be flawless—no jarring moments from my anxious fingers. Just let me be the beautiful background music that no one notices, I prayed. The piece was difficult and I felt fairly confident with it. BUT, I also knew that nerves could wreck havoc.

The pages were photocopied and spread out across the music stand. The flute began. The piano followed. “I can do this,” I thought as the music flowed through several stanzas. Gorgeous.

Enter The Nightmare:  without warning my last two pages flew off the piano and onto the floor!

Oh No!

Help?

“Stay focused,” I told myself as I pleaded internally for assistance. The bishopric and flutist, whose backs were towards me, were oblivious to my plight.

Help?

I turned my head briefly towards the congregation with a look of quiet desperation—begging for someone to read my mind.

What was I going to do? I did NOT have the piece memorized. Would I just have to stop and pick the music up then join in again? Could we start over? But then, the spirit of the piece would be lost forever.

Focus. Stay focused. Keep playing. Closer and closer we edged towards the notes on the missing pages.

Nightmare Diverted:  An attentive gentleman stood up and swiftly made his way to the front.

I was saved!

He picked up my pages, placed them carefully back on the piano and sat close until the piece was finished.

“Thank you,” I breathed quietly with utter relief.

Lessons learned:
  • Don’t be afraid to be THE ONE who takes action. Don’t think someone else will do it. Just do it!
  • Always back pages on cardstock to waylay errant breezes.
  • Be grateful for tender mercies and kind souls.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Valentine's 1984

    Do you remember Ziggy? He was big in the 80s, particularly 1984, the first Valentine's Day Brian and I shared together. Preparing for this holiday caused me great anxiety.


    Brian and I had only been dating exclusively for less than a week. As the day of love approached, I didn't know what to do. I knew I wanted to get him something, but the symbolism surrounding Valentine's gifts was oh so significant!

    I "liked" him, but I didn't really love him yet. I knew he "liked" me, but how much? How much should I spend? How would he interpret my present?

    It was agonizing.

    I finally decided on candy. That was safe, right? I purchased an apothecary-type jar and filled it with sweets from the BYU bookstore candy counter. One thing I had learned in the month I had known him was that Brian loved coconut cream pie, so a layer of coconut flavored jelly bellys was an easy first choice. Red jelly bellys and other Valentine confectionery were carefully layered until the clear glass jar was filled to the brim. I bought a card, wrote a little note, and held my breath for his response.

    front and inside of the card I gave Brian (minus my handwritten sentiment)

    Little did he know how prophetic that Lucy card would be.

    Brian gave me a GIANT card that I've saved for 27 years.

    "Just think, Valentine! Once we were perfect strangers, but then fate stepped in, and through some miracle, out of all the millions and millions of people in the world, our paths crossed!"
    inside of the card Brian gave me

    It was perfect, and I ended up marrying him six months later.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Winter Project

    For me, Winter is a time to nestle into a comfy chair, tuck my legs under, and crochet. I first learned to crochet when I was about 10 years old in Primary. (Primary is the name of the children's organization of my Mormon faith.) At that time, the girls in my age group were called "Merrie Miss" and we met at the church once a week on Tuesday afternoons.

    For years my crocheting skills lay dormant.
    However, one humdrum afternoon several years ago, as I sat beside a child practicing reading "Flat Stanley" aloud, it hit me--a desire to create, to DO something with my hands, to be productive in a rather unproductive setting.

    I started with scarves and then an afghan. That afghan turned out too small for my purposes and too "holey".
    Luckily, my sister-in-law discovered a pattern that was just right. It is easy and repetitive enough that I can actually multi-task. The finished product is the ideal size to snuggle under with a design that toes can't poke through.
    This first throw was meant for my dad, but he passed away before I could finish it. I gifted it to my husband instead, but Brian is never cold (unless he is sick), so I have happily adopted it as my own--for my occasional cat nap, of course.

    Since then I have made one for each of my children: purple for Rachel, berry blue for Kellie, navy blue for Travis and turquoise for Abby.  Everyone seems to love them--especially the cats.
    I use Caron Simply Soft yarn which makes them soft, cozy, and washable. I'm working on my sixth afghan. This one is black. I wonder who'll be its recipient?

    By the way, I DO take requests.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Improvements

    I am choosing to call my New Year's Resolutions "improvements" because I simply want to
    (Gordon B. Hinckley)
    I went against all goal-setting guidelines this year and didn't write down my resolutions or share them with anyone.

    Perhaps I wanted to see if I could actually make the improvements I desired before I even acknowledged them to myself. That way, if I failed, even my conscious self wouldn't feel guilty because the "goal" was merely a passing thought. Right?

    Now that 2011 is no longer in its infancy (and I have actually succeeded a bit at my attempts) I am ready to publicly share two of my "improvements".

    Improvement #1: Read at least one book a month.

    I used to belong to a book group that was just the impetus I needed to read quality literature. Since it's demise, however, I have lacked the discipline needed to read consistently from something other than the newspaper, email, and blogs. This is my attempt to change that. So far I am ahead of the game and have read
    and

    I highly recommend both.

    Improvement #2: Plan and prepare real meals for my family.

    The past few years my desire to cook has waned (perhaps due to kids' practices and games scheduled around and during the dinner hour.) Time is critical. My recipes are boring, and local eateries are sounding the siren call.

    After creating, then deleting, then restoring it again, I am now also blogging at Salads and Such. This blog forces me to rediscover healthy favorites and test new ones. At least once a week I will post a "keeper" recipe, and hopefully my family will benefit from the process.


    (My cousin introduced me to a fabulous Pear and Goat Cheese Salad. Check it out here.)

    There they are--my first two "improvements" of 2011. There may be more. Or, maybe not. Either way I will just "try a little harder to be a little better" and not stress about the rest.

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Mt. Timpanogos

    Whenever we drove "out West" to visit my grandparents I would gaze in awe at Mt. Timpanogos and search for the Indian Maiden sleeping there. Legend has it that if you look at Timp at just the right angle you will see the outline of her deathly slumber across the mountainous peaks.
    Timpanogos this week (my neighborhood view)
    There are several versions of this legend. The most concise one I found is from exploreutah.com.
    "A Young Native American maiden, whose lover had to go to war, climbed to the summit of what is now known as Mount Timpanogos to await his return. But, alas, he was killed in battle and never returned to claim her for marriage. She stayed up on the mountain, still waiting, not knowing of his fate until she eventually died of a broken heart." 
    As a child I couldn't always tell her head from her feet, but this image from a Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic pin clarifies the view:
    Do my children know this story? Do they know the history of their home town? Do I?

    I grew up surrounded by Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Monticello. My state's history was our Country's history!

    But this state, this valley, this city, is my children's history, and I suppose, that after 13 years it is part of my history as well.

    Embrace the local stories and legends, Julie. They are all yours now.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011