Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Daily Affirmations - with Commentary


I'm looking at the steep climb in this picture and realizing that this is exactly how I feel about the changes I'm wanting to make this next year. Yes, it's New Year's resolution time, and I like most people am deciding to give up a lot of bad habits and to start better ones. I'm a little frustrated by the fact that I decided to do most of this stuff last year, and the year before, and the year before that... I've fallen over and rolled down the hill a few times.

Because I'm kind of scared to take this challenge on, or more to the point I'm afraid that I'll just fail again, I'm tempted to take the following approach:

Looks better doesn't it?

But maybe it's this attitude that's left me with some bad habits.

Shoot. I don't know.

Who's idea was this New Year's resolution thing anyway?!

I hope the view from the top of that hill is worth the climb.

Happy New Year everyone, and good luck!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Whole Mess of Pictures

The siblings who live here all got together for a family party on Christmas Eve, and I took some pictures. Here they are in no particular order.

When Sierra was a little girl, she and Mike (brother-in-law) made a bet that she would not grow taller than him. She was tall for her age at the time, and Mike is not tall for his age, so it seemed possible that she would outgrow him. Every time they see each other, they do the back-to-back measuring. Mike has managed to keep about an inch over her. Of course Sierra, who is now 18, hasn't grown at all in years, so I don't know why we need to keep doing this. Maybe Mike just likes to be proven right over and over and over again. Here's this months proof in a photo.

This is Noah. He's 5. This is his standard picture-taking face. Sometime I'll have to try to sneak a picture of him, so you can see what he really looks like.
Marla with her cute little William.

This is Jonah. He's looking older, isn't he? He just turned 7. Having a birthday (Dec. 6) and Christmas in the same month means that Jonah gets very little sleep during December. The anticipation of presents and toys is an emotional overload. It's fun to see how excited he gets.
This is my oldest brother, Aaron, and his wife Kristi. The party was at their house. Kristi is artistic and an impeccable decorator, so their home looks great. It's simple, but with color and style. Very nice.
Zachary and Josh managed to stand close to each other for a picture without it breaking out in a fight. When these two were little, they wrestled constantly. All day long. Wrapped up in a ball and rolling back and forth on the floor. I don't know how amused Marla was, but I thought it was hilarious. They don't wrestle now as much as they verbally pick at each other, with the occasional cuffing to the back of the head.
Sierra and Mariah. Such pretty girls. They hug a lot, and it's very sweet. They'll even hug in the middle of the mall. I had them in Macy's not too long ago, and Sierra said to Mariah, "Can I have a hug?", and they did. They still give me good hugs, too. I'm glad they haven't outgrown it. I certainly haven't.
Here's Savannah with William. He got passed around a lot that evening. Savannah spent the better part of her childhood wishing that she had a little brother. Having a little cousin has in part fulfilled her wish. She's very good with kids.
And last but certainly not least, Cortni and Brad. You might remember that they were married last September, and are doing very well. Married life suits them just fine. It's too bad her eyes aren't open here. I need to pay more attention when taking pictures.

I have a picture of Barry and Melody, but it's not very good, which is my fault. They're gorgeous people, I just didn't take a good picture. And, because Melody feeds me delicious mashed potatoes every Sunday, I don't think it would be wise to post an unflattering picture. I can't have her mad at me.

It was a good party. Food and games and the watching of "A Christmas Carol"... couldn't have asked for more. I spent most of Christmas day with Barry and Melody, after seriously sleeping in, of course. My roommate is out of town, and so I've had the apartment to myself. I had the unique experience of waking up Christmas morning at home alone. I don't say that to earn sympathy, I promise. I honestly didn't feel bad about it, and still don't. I mention it only because it was indeed unique. I layed in bed for awhile, then opened the presents that my mom and dad had sent, and then made waffles (delicious!), and talked to Marla on the phone, and then took my time getting ready to go over to Barry's. It was very quiet and relaxed.

Once I got to Barry's, relaxing was over. The girls have a Wii, and the Rock Band game, and a new guitar to add to the band, and some serious rocking to do. I took the microphone and played lead singer. What an awesome game. So much fun. The girls are really good at their virtual instruments. It's all harder than you might think. I tried the drums for a couple of songs and failed miserably. They did very well. If you haven't played Rock Band, find your chance and do it. You'll find that there's a little rock star in all of us.

Christmas was great. I got some good presents, ate good food, spent quality time with the family, and had some quality time all to myself, which was always renewing. Hope you all had a good time, too!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reminiscing

Christmas is a nostalgic time, and today I’m finding myself remembering things from my childhood years. As most of you know, I grew up on a farm in Minnesota, where the December wind chills go well below zero and the snow drifts up so high that it covers the barn. We used to go sledding off of that barn. My brothers would try to build up the snow into a turn, kind of like a luge tunnel, so that as we came down off of the barn we would hit it and fly up along the side. It never worked the way they had hoped. Still, the sledding was good fun.

We would bundle up into many layers of clothes to go outside and play. Only our eyes and hair were exposed to the cold, and that would frost over. Marla’s jet black hair went white, and Shane's eyelashes, which were very long and thick, would frost over to the point where I wondered if he could see. Makes me laugh to think of it now.

We had our own traditional dinner on Christmas Eve – spare ribs and lutefisk. It was something that my dad grew up with, a Norwegian thing I guess. Lutefisk is an old Norwegian food that is brutally awful. It’s cod fish soaked in lye for preservation. Well, that’s how they made it 100 years ago. I don’t know that it’s still soaked in lye now that society should know better, but whatever they do to treat the cod does not improve it. But my dad covers it in melted butter and eats like the happiest man alive, so Mom bakes it up every year. The rest of us stuck to the ribs and potatoes and everything else.

Of course, dinner had to wait until Dad and my brothers were done with the outside chores, which included feeding and watering the animals, getting them some clean straw, and then whatever else Dad could come up with. I swear he made the chores last so much longer than usual on that particular night. Then they’d come in, looking like Eskimos frozen over, strip out of their giant parkas and scarves and sweaters and hats and the top two layers of pants, just as Mom, my sister and I were finishing with the dinner table. Mom would get out her china and pretty crystal glasses. I always loved that.

We opened presents from my grandparents and aunts and uncles on Christmas Eve. My mom’s side of the family is small. She has one sister, who has one daughter, who is about 20 years older than me. So when my siblings and I were kids, we were the only kids that that family had, and they treated us right! We had a pile of packages that spread out for a foot away from the tree. All of them were ours on Christmas Eve. But, not until dinner was cleaned up – absolutely cleaned up, which took forever.

My mom had decorative candles all over the living room. Some were for Christmas; others were left out all year. While Mom and Dad were lingering over the dishes, I would get the matches and light every one, then sit in front of the lit tree and feel the glow of all of those soft lights. Thinking about it now makes me go all soft inside, and I can almost feel the warmth of being at home on Christmas Eve.

Opening the presents was pandemonium – a frenzy of flying paper. We sat nicely enough while the presents were sorted and passed around, but as soon as we were given the go ahead, all self restraint was gone. It was awesome.

Christmas morning was the same scene all over again with our presents from Santa Claus. I remember one gift in particular. Weeks earlier, Mom and I were in a store that sold a lot of nick-knacks, and I saw two little figures, a boy and a girl kneeling in prayer. He had on blue pajamas, and hers were red. They were small, maybe an inch tall, and had sweet, chubby little faces, and I really wanted them. That Christmas morning, there was a small little box for me under the tree, and in it were my praying children. They sat on my dresser all of my growing up years. Sometimes they acted as babies for my Barbie dolls. And now, 30 years later, I have them on my bookshelf alongside some family pictures.

There’s one more thing that I always think of when remembering Christmas at home – the angel on the tree. She’s beautiful. She’s about six inches tall with a gold dress that flares out wide at the bottom and golden hair, and she’s holding a tiny book of carols that she’s singing out of. I used to play with her as Mom strung the lights on the tree. We’d fly around the living room. And when all the other decorations were on, we’d set her in her place of honor at the top of the tree. I sometimes would try to twist one of the lights around so that it would shine on her just right. I’ve got dibs on that angel. It’s in bad taste to talk about when Mom and Dad are gone, especially at Christmas time. But still, I’m putting this in writing right now. The angel is mine.

Over the years we all grew up and spread out all over the country. Of course we did, it’s only natural. Mom and Dad have sold the farm and live in a little town called Moorhead, MN. I was there last year for Christmas along with my youngest brother and his family. We ate spare ribs, and watched Dad eat lutefisk, and opened presents on Christmas Eve. My angel was there to watch over us, like she’s always been. It was wonderful. This year, after much trial and tribulation, I decided that I couldn’t spend the money on an airline ticket, and so am staying here. All of my Utah siblings and their families are doing the same, so I’ve got people to be with, and I love those people, so it’s good. It’s good, too, to remember home – the place I come from, the place that formed who I am today. I miss it. I think that next year, if I’m still on my own, I’ll be sure to go back to Minnesota. And maybe I’ll sneak that angel into my suitcase. Even with my claim now in writing, I can’t be too sure.

Merry, Merry Christmas! May your homes be filled with love and warmth and everything that's good this year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Week in Review

Hello everybody. It’s time for another edition of the highly anticipated "A Week in Review". If you have not yet donned your gay apparel, now is the time. Fa la la la la la, la la la la.

Finishing up
It’s been a week for finishing things. Monday I went over to the BYU Salt Lake testing center to take the final exam for the online English class I’ve been taking. It went well enough, and I am so, so glad to be done. After the test, I went to the Gateway and bought Marla the last piece of her Christmas present, and that finished my shopping! I have two pre-Christmas shifts left at the bookstore, and then will be finished with retail during the holidays, and that is the best feeling in the world. I’ve even finished a biography that I’ve been reading for the last two months, which is way too long to spend on a book.

I don’t want to imply that December is something that I just endure and can’t wait to be done with, but it is nice to be done, isn’t it? The Christmas season feels kind of upside-down and backwards to me. There’s so much to do before hand, shopping and parties and concerts and socials and work, work, work. It’s exhausting. By December 25th, heck by December 10th, I’m burnt out. I look forward to Christmas Day because it means that I made through, like breaking the ribbon at the finish line. I don’t really think that Christmas should feel like this, but I really don’t know what to do about it. Quit the bookstore – that’s what I should do about it, but that’s really not an option right now.

Of course, it hasn’t been all bad. Melissa and I went to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas concert last Friday and really like it. Their guest singer was a Broadway man named Brian Stokes Mitchell, and they also had Edward Herrmann. If you, like me, do not know who that is, his latest claim to fame is in the role of Grandpa Gilmore on the “Gilmore Girls”. On Sunday, Mariah, Savannah and I drove around the neighborhoods close to their home to see Christmas lights. It was really nice. We listened to carols on cd, and saw some pretty great decorations. I love doing simple little things like that to take in the holidays.

There are treats EVERYWHERE
I'm pretty sure that I've eaten about 15 pounds of sugar just this week.

Gifts!
Melissa and I exchanged gifts last night. She’s leaving on Saturday for Connecticut, so we opened presents early. She bought me the first season of 30 Rock! Yeah! Being a newly converted fan of the show, this is very exciting. Now I can see all that I missed. Seriously, if you’re not watching 30 Rock, you need to start right now. So funny.

A Christmas Carol
I read on “The Writer’s Almanac” that it was on this day in 1843 that “A Christmas Carol” was published. I wonder how many plays, musicals, movies and one-man shows have been produced since then? The Almanac said:

At the time of the book's publication, the celebration of Christmas was somewhat controversial. Puritans in England and America argued that Christmas was a holiday left over from the days when pagans celebrated the winter solstice. Many Christians felt that the extravagance of Christmas was an insult to Christ. But A Christmas Carol was a huge best-seller in both England and the United States, and it set the tone for Christmas as we know it today: a season of generosity, feasting, and merriment.

The very best version of the story is still the original writing. If you haven’t read “A Christmas Carol”, you really have to. It’s genius. There’s so much in the book that simply can’t be translated into a play or a movie. Some of the very best scenes are those that I didn’t know were in the story until I read it. I think I’ll end with one of my favorites. This is Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Present:

"The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his robe, and passing on above the moor, sped whither? Not to sea? To sea. To Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw the last of the land, a frightful range of rocks, behind them; and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as it rolled, and roared, and raged among the dreadful caverns it had worn, and fiercely tried to undermine the earth.

"Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league or so from shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed, the wild year through, there stood a solitary lighthouse...But even here, two men who watched the light had made a fire, that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. Joining their horny hands over the rough table at which they sat, they wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog; and one of them: the elder, too, with his face all damaged and scarred with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship might be: struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in itself.

"Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and heaving sea -- on, on -- until, being far away, as he told Scrooge, from any shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel, the look-out in the bow, the officers who had the watch; dark, ghostly figures in their several stations; but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with homeward hopes belonging to it. And every man on board, waking or sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder word for another on that day than on any day in the year; and had shared to some extent in its festivities; and had remembered those he cared for at a distance, and had known that they delighted to remember him."

Merry Christmas!
You are loved.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why?

Have I mentioned that I'm not much of a morning person? There's nothing I hate more than getting up early, and since I have to get up early for work every day, my days don't usually start well. This morning I slept soundly through my alarm for 45 minutes. I'm not kidding. It's set to go off a little before 6am, so that I'm up a little after 6am. I never hear it the first time it goes off with that terrible, incessant beeping, but I'll usually start to stir after 20 minutes or so. This morning when I opened my eyes and looked at the clock it was 6:40. Dammit.

I did my very best to get ready for work in 30 minutes. I have learned over the years that lots of things can be skipped - like doing my hair - when running late. Still, I didn't get to work until about 7:50 when I'm supposed to be here at 7:30. How did a non-morning person get a 7:30 shift? Someone hates my guts. Anyway, when I got here I was told that one of the General Authority secretaries had been looking for me because she needed an electronic signature for her General Authority. I don't have one, and so couldn't have helped her if I'd been on time, but still the fact that she was looking for me brought real attention to how late I was. It's a little embarrassing.

The COB is packed full of morning people. Those who naturally wake up before 5am, immediately start whistling a happy tune, and smile all the way to work. When I get here, they greet me with a heart felt "Good morning!", which only makes me angry and want to kick them good and hard in the shin. A dose of reality would bring them back down to earth. I've never said the words "good morning" in my life. It would feel like such a lie.

Folks here can't understand why it would be difficult for anyone to be in before 8am. In fact, one of my coworkers starts running around the floor looking for people at about 7:45, wondering where everyone is. Like it's normal to be at work so early. Like there's no excuse for being any later. His incomprehension of a work schedule that starts after 7am is incomprehensible to me. If I had my way (and someday I will, mark my words) I would never leave the house before 10.

Until then I'll have to set my alarm for 5:30 with the hope that I'll open my eyes by 6:15, and then mentally prepare myself for the blindingly bright cheeriness at the office. I'll do my best to hide a sneering look, and to sit quietly at my desk. It's better not to talk to anyone when you feel so much like crying.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Week in Review

There's not much to review this week. I did finish my Christmas shopping! Buying gifts is a lot of fun, especially when I feel like I've found something the person will really like. I actually was having a hard time getting any good gift inspiration this year, but in the end think what I have will be ok. I hope so.

But like I said, I don't have much talk about, so I thought I'd share the COB at Christmas time with you. It really is beautiful here. Of course there are all of the lights and decorations outside that the crowds come to see every night, but inside the office building is decked out, too. Here are some of my favorites:

This tree is in our cafeteria, and I just love it. Red and gold are my favorite Christmas decoration colors, and the ornaments are all wooden toys. It's so much fun. The rocking horse is great, too.

The flower and plant shop in the building sets out gorgeous poinsettias at all of our desks. Here's mine, with a little manger scene that I got at DB.

Here we have an outside scene (obviously). It raises a few questions - I don't know that it's a good idea to sit in a reflecting pond when it's 35 degrees outside. The look is pretty, but hypothermia isn't. Actually, the figures in this nativity scene always look cold. Last year they were on a lawn, which is a little more logical, but after the first snow poor Mary was covered, and I worried about her. Someone should get them all a blanket.

I love these little guys - they wear chocolate kisses as hats!

This is another one of the many Christmas trees set up in the building. Every day in December there are mini concerts in the lobby of the building between 12 and 2 - mostly local high school choirs. There are plenty of chairs and benches set up, and a good-sized group comes every day to hear the performance. I really like the Christmas brass. They do a great rendition of "Sleigh Ride". This tree is set up near the performance area and is decorated with instruments and music scores. It's really pretty.


This is yesterday's choir.

Another of my favorite trees is in the cafeteria again. It's covered with cookie and candy decorations. So cute.

So there's your mini tour of my office building. It's a nice place to be this time of year. I usually like to end A Week in Review with a quote or something that I've read. Since I'm on a Christmas theme, I will share my favorite scriptures from Luke chapter 2:
"And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord...Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
Such a simple telling of an event that men had waited for for centuries, and that forever changed the world.
Merry Christmas.
You are loved.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just Random Stuff

I keep getting emails about tickets to Michael McLean's Forgotten Carols concert. How in the world did I get on Michael’s email list? No clue. I should write to him and tell him that we used to have a picture of his head on a stick at DB, and would put up daily affirmations, which were just some of the lyrics to his songs. Do you guys remember that? So funny.

I wasn't much of a Beyonce fan until her new song, "All You Single Ladies", came out and I loved it.

If I could figure out how to post YouTube and other videos on this blog I would totally do it, but I'm just not getting it. Maybe one of you could come here and help me...?

My deadly illness has abated, and it looks like I'm going to pull through. It's just a cough now.

I'm sure that the biggest reason for feeling better is that my brother gave me a really nice blessing on Sunday. I really love that boy.

There's a man here in my department who has found and fallen in love with some stupid nutcracker dolls that he found on sale at Zims, and he's telling absolutely everybody that they have to go buy some. I'm not kidding. I've overheard the conversation about 1,000 times. Sometimes he carries the doll around with him. The same man has a nutcracker tie that my good friend Nicole used to curse every time she saw it. I don't know - maybe when he was a small child he fell down an empty well and a nutcracker saved him from the darkness with magic? Maybe that's why he is living a life dedicated to them.

Working at the store kind of kills the Christmas spirit. If you are tempted to loose your patience while shopping, please be nice to the sales people. We're doing the best we can. And it's not our fault that what you want is sold out.

I am loving that every day this week at work there's been chocolate candy of some kind put out to share. Today it's mint M&Ms. Delicious. Happy Holidays!

Speaking of Happy Holidays - I don't really believe in this war on Christmas that I hear so much about. Sure there are those who celebrate Christmas because they want presents and parties but don't want to acknowledge the fact that it is a Christian holiday, but who cares? Let them. It doesn't change my Christmas at all. And besides, we all know that in the end those people will burn in hell. That's good enough for me.

I honestly envy people who live in London. The other night I was looking at some pictures and thought to myself, "I spent a two days walking around Paris this year, and four full days in London." It feels like a dream.

The best lipstick in the world (and I have tried them all) is from Laura Mercier. You can buy it at Nordstrom.

I read a good quote yesterday, "All I want is a warm bed and a kind word and unlimited power."

I'm questioning my own judgement in writing that "burn in hell" comment. Might be a little harsh. Of course you know that I don't really mean it.

I just put those "Silent Night" Christmas cards in the mail. I don't have all of your addresses, so if you don't get one, that's why. I do wish you a very merry Christmas, and hope that you and yours are enjoying every day of the season!

I have all sorts of work to do, and should get to it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Daily Affirmations - A Christmas Card

Here's hoping that all of your Christmas wishes are made on real stars.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Week in Review

The slow destruction of my brain hasn't killed me yet, so I figure I'll do A Week in Review. You're welcome.

Dang it!
I can't stand the Christmas carol "Silent Night". Well, it's not that I hate the song per se, it’s kind of slow and dull and has never been a favorite, but my problem with it is the extreme overplay. Every party, every devotional, every Christmas program, someone demands that we all sing “Silent Night”. Enough already.

A couple of weeks ago I bought my Christmas cards. They’re very cute with a manger scene and the words from “For Unto Us a Child is Born” on the front, which is a song that I like very much. Last Friday evening I sat down to fill some of them out, and when I opened the card I saw that some of the words from “Silent Night” are on the inside. No no no no no! I seriously considered returning them. I didn’t, and will send them out, but honestly I do it with a little bit of irritation. That song is everywhere, and now I’ve become a part of it. I almost feel like I should apologize to those who get the cards, but then again, I’m probably the only one who is anti-that song. Everyone else seems to love it.

Reunions
Last night on “30 Rock” Liz Lemon attended her 20-year class reunion. It got me thinking about mine. It was last summer back in Minnesota, and yes, I am that old. I didn’t go. In fact, I didn’t get any information on it. I’ve been away from home for such a long time, and my parents have moved since my high school days, so I’m guessing that no one knew where to send the invitation. It’s just as well because I wouldn’t have gone. Partly because I had already scheduled all of the trips I could take in one year for different events, but mostly because I really didn’t want to. I can’t exactly put my finger on a specific reason why. It’s more like a bunch of little reasons that added all together make me want very much to stay away.

A strange thing has happened since then. I got signed up on Facebook because many of my family members are on it, and have found that so are many of my high school classmates, and a whole bunch of them have found me there and have sent me messages, and it really freaks me out. Things like, “I’m sorry you weren’t at the reunion” and “What have you been up to the last 20 years”. It’s all very friendly, but still I feel threatened. I haven’t seen these people for 20 years, nor have I spoken to any of them. I went away to college, and then moved here, and haven’t looked back. I don’t know what to say to them. I’m sure that we have nothing in common. But more than anything else, I’m very surprised that they are contacting me. I went unnoticed in high school. It’s not that people didn’t like me, but I certainly wasn’t popular. I didn’t date, didn’t go to parties (because everyone at those parties were drunk). Most of the time I was just there, standing on the edge of the crowd. I’m shocked that they even remember me.

After a few weeks of cowering, I finally wrote a few of them back. Just short notes letting them know where I live and what I do and such. I decided that it was rude to ignore them, and writing was painless enough. It is nice to be remembered…? Maybe I’ll consider going to my 50-year reunion. We’ll see.

Jonah
Cute Jonah turns 7 years old on Saturday. He’s so excited he can’t sleep at night. There’s going to be a party at Chucky Cheese (his pick) with friends and lots of present, and I think it’s knowing that presents are in his future that’s got him so hyper. I’ve never known a little boy who loves toys as much as he does – he loves, loves, loves his toys. I’m going to go over there later today with my gift for him. I can’t believe that he’s seven. He’s not a little kid anymore, and I kind of miss little Jonah. Still, he’s so much fun now, and a great movie pal, and will still give hugs, so it’s all ok.
I think that's it for now. There was a quote from Mark Twain on the Writer's Almanac this week, "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." So true.
Thanks, as always, for keeping me in mind.
You are loved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Where are my @#%! Kleenex?

I'm a very sick girl. I've been fighting a cold/sinus infection for close to three weeks now, and it's worn down my will to live. I've done well not posting about being sick, don't you think? Talking about illness is mostly boring and really not good posting material, but now I'm feeling sure that death is imminent, and that does make for a good post. The problem seems to be that my brain is being squeezed by a very strong clamp, which is turning it to mush, which then comes out through my nose. It kind of hurts. Knowing that a person can't live very long without a brain, I'm trying to tie up some loose ends.

So now that it's time to say goodbye, I hope you know that I've always liked you, and have had a great time all of the time that we've spent together. It's been a pretty good life. See you on the other side.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Prepare yourself for some gushing

Today we had our department Christmas social here at the COB. One of the very best things about working here is that the General Authorities come to our socials, and they often speak to us. It's wonderful to be with and hear them in small, intimate settings (at the summer social, the Apostles show up in Dockers and no tie, which is fun to see). Today Elders Perry and Holland spoke to us. Always, when I'm sitting in these meetings, I think that I'm going to remember everything they say and then share it with my family, or write it out here, and then I realize that it wouldn't be the same as being there. So much would be lost, that there isn't much point in trying. So I'm writing now not to try to repeat what they said, but to share my own gratitude for being in this unique place. I really don't feel like I've earned it. I'm so flawed. I never get up and get to work on time. I'm usually grumpy, and I admit to sometimes cussing under my breathe when the phone rings, but there I was listening to an Apostle telling me and my coworkers that they are grateful for us and the work that we do, and reminding us that we are part of the great missionary effort of the Church. It's humbling, but more than that, it's uplifting. I want to be a better person.

I sometimes wonder about the blessings in my life and why I was chosen for certain things - like being in the missionary department, or having the friends I have, or loving so much my nieces and nephews, or sleeping in a comfortable bed at night. I think about people in India or Iraq or Africa who suffer every day and have to put all of their energy into just surviving. And of those here close by who have faced heartbreak that seems to me should be heavy enough to crush a person. I've had some sad, lonely days it's true. I'm sure each one of you have had the "opportunity" to listen to me carry on about all of my troubles. But, compared to others, I've gotten off pretty easy. And always, at the end of every bad stretch, there's something to remind me that there is a God in heaven who loves me, and a Savior who died for me, and promises for the future that will be kept, and I'm ok again. I don't know why when lives were handed out I got this one, but I'm pretty happy with it, and hope that I take the time often enough to let the Lord know that I'm grateful.

I love all of the people in my life, including you. I love that I went to a department social with Apostles of the Lord today. I love that it's Christmas time. I almost wrote, "God bless us, everyone!" Ha ha. Let's stop just short of that.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hello Everyone. I'm sorry for the long absence. I had last Thursday and Friday off at the COB for the holiday, and didn't touch a computer the entire weekend. It was a nice break.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It started Wednesday night - Melissa and I went to see the new movie "Australia". It’s very good, a huge, larger-than-life epic starring a very handsome man named Hugh Jackman. I have a new love for Hugh. He's dreamy.

Thursday morning I slept in forever. Always being the dinner guest at someone else's house, I don't have to do much cooking (if any), and so am able to sleep and be lazy all morning. It's the best. I recommend this course of action to anyone.

Dinner was at Barry and Melody's house. I got there about 1:00. Sierra, Mariah and Savannah were playing Wii games, so I joined in. I am the world's worst video game player - extreme lack of practice I suppose. Still I sometimes like to play, and the girls like to laugh at how very, very bad I am. It's fun for everyone. We did some Wii bowling, and then baseball, and then it was about time to eat.

Sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner is one of the best moments of the entire year and should be treasured. I told Melody that I was going to eat very slowly and make it all last as long as possible. We had all the traditional food: turkey, potatoes, stuffing (LOVE STUFFING) plus a delicious rice and broccoli dish that they make every year. It was heaven. Melody got out her fancy plates and crystal glasses for the occasion, and the girls just loved it. They get so excited about a fancy table. I remember my mom having glasses that she saved for special occasions, and I felt the same way when she got them out. Funny all of the emotions that are tied to little things. Dinner was all it was meant to be - good food, good company, and a good, full tummy when it was over. I love Thanksgiving!

Melody and I went for a long walk that afternoon. When we got back Barry and the girls were in the middle of an intense game of Scattergories. I joined in, and then, after a few rounds of that, we got out Apples to Apples. What an awesome game. We have so much fun with it. Sierra and I like to take each other on. Neither one of us ever wins the whole game, but if we can best the other, then we feel pretty good. Sierra beat me this time, which I think is the first time she’s ever beaten me. (Sierra, if you’re reading this I’m sure that you just made a “whatever” face, but you know it’s true). We played until it was late and time for me to go home. It was a great day, very relaxing and fun.

I did my best to avoid all shopping on Friday, but that afternoon found myself at Target buying toilet paper, which is something that you simply can not delay buying. All of the crazies must have come and gone by the time I got there because I got through the store with very little trouble. No half hour in line, no shopping cart rage or screaming children, all in all not too bad.

Saturday I went to work at Deseret Book mentally and emotionally prepared for a challenging day, but my preparation was all for nothing. We weren't that busy. In fact, I had a good deal of down time at the registers. People were shopping, of course, and spending good amounts of money, but the Christmas time intensity wasn't there. My friends and I have noticed for a few weeks now that it hasn't been as busy as it should have been, being so close to Christmas, but I really thought that once we got through Thanksgiving the shoppers would come out in mobs. I was wrong. It's strange, and a little disconcerting. We've all heard so much about the state of the economy, but until now it felt to me like something that was happening far far away on Wall Street or in Washington DC. Saturday at the store brought it closer to home, and it felt a little bit sad. It'll be interesting to see what the next three weeks bring.

It is good to be back at work at the COB today. This place is beautiful in December. I'll take some pictures and post them soon. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Daily Affirmations


I used to say that my life's goal is to live so that when my biography is printed, Deseret Book won't carry it because of inappropriate material. This tourist attraction idea might actually be better...?

Monday, November 24, 2008

TURN THAT RACKET DOWN!

I think I've mentioned before that the average age of my coworkers here at the COB is 68 years old. All of them are hard of hearing, which means that all of them have the volume on their computers turned up to its maximum level. Every now and then, someone will get an email with a video or song or some other loud thing attached, and it comes blasting out of their offices for the entire floor to hear. Sounds like a dance party is going on. Sometimes the same email will get passed around to all of us, and so I hear it about 15 times in one day. Right now I'm listening to the noise from two different computers. I'm not kidding. Two different email attachments are coming at me in stereo.

Aren't there noise ordinances or laws? I'm sure they must apply here. I'm going to turn these people in as public nuisances.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Week in Review

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another edition of a Week in Review. I'm all out of witty opening lines, so let's just jump right in.

An unnatural disaster
A pipe broke above the ceiling of our apartment on Wednesday and leaked buckets of water. I got home a little after 8:00 that evening, and when I came through the door could hear something that sounded like rain. Melissa wasn’t home. I was wondering if she left a faucet on, and went down the hall to check the bathroom. That’s where I found the problem. Water was literally running out of the two light fixtures and the fire alarm in the ceiling. The carpet was soaked, and the paint on the ceiling and walls was bubbling. I could see where the water was running behind the paint down the wall. All of the water had shorted out the fire alarm so that it kept beeping. It was a shock, walking in on all of that. I honestly stood there dumbfounded, wondering what to do. Luckily a maintenance man showed up within minutes. He’d gotten a call about a leak in the apartment below us, and came to see if it was coming from our place. Yes, yes it was.

I managed to think well enough to get some buckets and bowls under the leaks while maintenance searched for the problem. They finally found a broken pipe between our ceiling and the floor above us. They cut a big hole in our ceiling to replace the pipe, and then a man with a wet vac came to suck the water out of the carpet. I don’t know how long the water had been running before I got home, but it was enough to saturate that carpet. The wet vac man set up a fan that has something like a tube on it, pulled up the carpet, put the fan so that the tube blew underneath, and it’s been there drying the floor ever since. He said that it might take 48 hours, so I’m hoping that the fan will go today. Then I’ll vacuum over and over until it softens up a bit. Right now the carpet is kind of crunchy. I don’t know how long the hole will be in the ceiling. The maintenance staff really is good, so I bet they’ll have it fixed up soon enough. It’s times like this when I’m very grateful for a maintenance staff. I don’t know what we would have done if we’d left on our own to deal with that mess. I’d probably still be standing there staring at the water coming through the ceiling.

Extreme irritation
I took my car in for its annual inspection yesterday, and the jokers there failed it on the safety test because of a burned out tail light. Honestly! How annoying. Replacing the light won’t be any trouble, but then I have to find another evening after work to go back to the inspection place and have it rechecked and get the renewal. Stupid inspection people. Just give me my sticker already.

Madagascar and 30Rock
Cute Jonah and I went to see Madagascar last Saturday. He has become one of my best movie pals. Whenever there’s a kid’s flick out that I want to see, I tell myself that it would be nice to take Jonah, and his brothers if they want to go. That way it looks like I’m being so nice to the nephews, when really it’s all about me. Anyway, Madagascar was good – very funny. I love those crazy penguins.

I’ve also become a big fan of 30 Rock. I know, it’s been on TV for some time now, but I just recently started paying attention. I watched it last night and laughed out loud for the full 30 minutes. The show’s viewer ratings aren’t very good, so it’ll probably be cancelled now that I’ve fallen in love, just like Arrested Development was (which by the way I’m determined to buy on DVD), but until then you know where I’ll be on Thursday night.

Thanksgiving
I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving! It’s my favorite holiday. I think it has all of the same good things that Christmas has – family, food, the spirit of gratitude, food, some time away from work, food – but is so much more relaxed. There’s no pressure to make Thanksgiving magical. It can just be itself, and that’s enough. I really love it. This year I will be with Barry and Melody and the girls, and will eat all of the potatoes and stuffing my tummy can hold. Mmmmm, I love that stuffing!

I think that’s it for now. I’d like, in closing, to share with you my favorite quote of all time. It’s from Ralph Waldo Emmerson, and goes something like this:

To laugh often and much,
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children,
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends,
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others,
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition,
To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived,
This is to have succeeded.

Each one of you have at different times in my life been there to help me breathe easier, some of you at times when I was finding it hard to breathe at all. You should know that I am grateful, and that it’s meant more to me than I can say. Thanks, as always, for everything.

Happy Thanksgiving!
You are loved.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Evening at Deseret Book

I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to pull this off. I have a story to tell from the bookstore, but I don’t know that telling it here is going to be as funny as it was at the store last night. It might not be funny here at all, but at the risk of great failure, I'm going to give it a try.

Last night Melanie, Elise, Tom and I were working on a little project. For those of you who remember Terry O'Brien, Tom is her husband. He's Scottish, speaks with a great accent, and is a bit of a character. We were trying to hang a poster from the ceiling to advertise a movie that will soon be released on DVD. The poster has plastic sticks that run along the top and bottom so that it will hang straight. I had one of those sticks and wasn't being very careful with it and almost hit Tom in the eye. Melanie, who was up on a ladder, hollered about me almost taking Tom's eye out, and then she said, "Tom, it's too bad you didn't loose your eye because then you could wear an eye patch!" Too bad indeed. Tom didn't think he could pull off an eye patch, but the rest of us assured him that he could. I said that it would make him look mysterious and adventurous.

Then Tom said very seriously, "I've always thought that if I needed a glass eye, I would just go with an eye patch."

Elise, "Hey, my grandpa has a glass eye!"

Melanie, "So does mine!"

Then there was lots of that giggling that girls do, and Elise said, "It's just funny because Melanie and I are constantly finding all of these things that we have in common, and this is another one.”

I'm thinking to myself, "We're actually having a conversation about glass eyes." Of course I was laughing through all of it, and then said, "The best part is that Tom said he'd go with an eye patch as if he'd honestly given serious thought to the patch vs. glass eye issue." He told us again that he'd rather have a patch, and I agreed that glass eyes are creepy, which made Melanie and Elise come to the defense of their glass eye wearing grandfathers.

We've had lots of random and weird conversations at that store, and this is definitely one of the best.

Later we were putting away games on the games shelf, and had boxes of cards that go along with a game called, "Hold to the Rod". Melanie and I were handing the boxes to Elise, who stacked them on the shelf. She said with great feeling, "Together we're building a wall of Hold to the Rod." I'd never felt so good about myself.

This reminds me of another night when we were putting away games, and I was complaining loudly about the fact that we had way too many and no room for them. Elise got after me. "Angie, you should just be grateful that we get the opportunity to spread the gospel through games." I faked repentance. She was being sarcastic, of course. That girl really is funny.

This is why I still work at Deseret Book. Well, this and the money. You can't find such quality entertainment anywhere else.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Week in Review

Hello All! It’s time once again for the ever popular Week in Review. By ever popular, I mean that the four of you who read my blog always read this specific post, and I thank you.

Entertainment
I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I bought the complete series of “As Time Goes By” from Amazon.com. I think that I’ve also mentioned Amazon.com several times. Once more? Amazon.com. There you go. I am loving having this show on DVD. Now there is always something to watch. On those nights when I’m flipping through the channels and thinking, “For crying out loud there’s nothing, NOTHING!” I then think, “Hey! I’ll watch my DVDs!” So fun. It really is a great show, funny, charming and smart. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Melissa and I saw “The Secret Life of Bees” Monday evening. I never read the book, so went in without much of idea of the plot. It’s a good movie. Not fantastic, but good. Most of the cast is African American, and one of the minor plot lines dealt with Jennifer Hudson’s character going into town to register to vote, and then she was beaten by some white men for trying it. It seemed a significant reminder of how far our society has come in the last 45 years, especially considering the recent election, and I’m grateful for that. Certainly not as grateful as those who lived through the 60s, but still glad that we’ve made some progress.

Isn’t it time to let go?
Speaking of voting, everyone knows how into this last election I was. The whole thing was very exciting. But, now that it’s over, I’m feeling the need to let it go. I’m a little burned out and ready to just step back and wait to see what happens. We’ve got a new president and other new officials who need some time to settle in and get to work before there will be any real results – lots of time. Nothing to report yet, right? Wrong, so wrong. Politics is still all over the place. Apparently I’m the only one who is bored by it. “Who’s going to be in Obama’s new cabinet? Where will his girls go to school? What did Michelle and Laura talk about during their visit? What kind of puppy will the Obamas buy? What color curtains? Is the beeping sound of the White House bedroom alarm clocks to their liking?” HONESTLY! Let’s bring this obsession down a notch. I’m sorry; I just don’t have the energy to be that wrapped up in it anymore. I’ll check back for the inauguration on January 20th. That’ll be something to talk about.

So odd
I’ve observed a strange phenomena. I come in to work between 7:30 and 7:45 every day, and on my way to the office usually drive up West Temple past the Family History Library. There I see a line of people waiting to get in. At 7:30 am. At the Family History Library. The building opens at 8:00, and they start lining up at 7:30. I can’t come up with one good reason for this….yeah, I’m stumped. Maybe on Monday I’ll stop and hand out a questionnaire, and the first question will be something like, “What’s wrong with you?”

I’ve been to the library to do family history, and think that I arrived there sometime between 10 and 11. There was no trouble getting in, or finding a seat, or doing what I wanted to get done…? Those people were lined up at 7:30! Kind of disturbing.

I think that’s it for now. I learned this morning that it’s the birthday of Impressionist painter Claude Monet. He was born in Paris in 1840. Here’s a quote, “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”
Thanks, as always, for your constant awesomeness.
You are loved.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why do I do this to myself?

I lost a bunch of weight before going to Minnesota in September (well, by a bunch I mean 12-15 pounds). Nothing like going to see family to give a person some motivation. Since then, I haven't worked on it so much. In fact, I kind of forgot the whole thing. I don't have a scale at home. Not having one keeps me from becoming so obsessive compulsive that I weigh myself every half hour. There's a health unit here at the COB where a couple of nurses are usually on duty to look at your sore throat and listen to you complain and give out ibuprofen and decongestants. It's very nice. There's also a big doctor's office type scale. This morning I decided to get on the scale for the first time in a long time to see where I was at. I've gained back almost all of my 15 pounds. AAAAAAAG! The screaming is still echoing off of the walls.

I went from there to the cafeteria for breakfast, and got low-fat cottage cheese and a banana instead of the usual chocolate muffin and a banana. I also drank a very tasty new juice called Fuze Empower with Pomegranate and Acai Berry (Oprah's new "super food"). Antioxidants, low calorie, low sugar - sounds like it'll change my life. Or at least get my diet back on track. There's always hope.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Daily Affirmations - for the Christmas Season

Things are getting busier at the bookstore, and it'll get worse before it gets better. Tis the season. All of you who have worked retail through the holidays know just how taxing it can be. I try so hard to keep even the smallest hint of the Christmas spirit during December, and all of that effort is just exhausting. This year, I've lowered the bar. I'm taking my goal from a greeting card that Sierra found, took a picture of with her phone, and posted on Facebook. I copied it from there - hence the bad picture quality. But the words ring true:

It says "You know it was a good day if you didn't hit or bite anyone." Nathanial, age 4.

Good advice. That's how I'm getting through the holidays this year.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Her Royal Highness

I stole this picture from Sierra's facebook page, and I hope she doesn't mind me posting it here. It's not like I'm going to ask for permission or anything. Here are Melody, Sierra, Mariah, and Savannah in the teacups at Disneyland. It's a good picture of all of them (such pretty girls), but I'm posting it especially for Sierra. What she's wearing here sums her up better than anything I've ever seen. A picture says a thousand words.

Yes she is wearing a sash, and it says "Princess" across the front. Princess indeed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Week in Review

It's Friday. That day of the week when I flatter myself by thinking that you are dying to know what's going on with me. Here it is - A Week in Review.

CNN
There was an election this week. I went to Barry and Melody's to watch the returns with them and Sierra, who turned 18 in October and voted for the first time. She was so excited. We had snacks enough for an army, and watched CNN. What a great news channel. The special effects are outstanding. They had holograms people, holograms! I don't know how to spell that word, and hope that a misspelling doesn't detract from the mind-blowing intensity of it all. They actually beamed a person into the studio from Grant's Park in Chicago to be interviewed by Anderson Cooper. We can't let this kind of technology fall into the wrong hands. Only CNN should be trusted with it. Those jokers at MSNBC would screw up the whole world.

One reporter was in charge of demographics. He had a giant board with a list of options including gender, age, race, income, education, etc., and then he'd hit a line and a pie chart popped up with the percentages of how those people voted. The category options were endless. He must have had have had more than 100 choices. Those who wear flannel, those who prefer Velcro straps to shoe laces. "Let's take a look at those who answer yes to the question, 'Would you like any sauces with that' at the Arby's drive thru." or “Do you dream of Anderson Cooper's icy blue eyes at night?" And of course, the ever present qualifier - do you prefer Coke over Pepsi? There was a line on that board for everyone, and that man sure had fun playing with it.

I had fun hanging out with the family, but at about 9:00 was getting sleepy. By that time the results were clear, and not wanting to drive too tired, I decided to go home. I heard the official announcement that Barack Obama won on NPR, and then was home in time to see the speeches. John McCain was gracious and classy. Obama was, well, Obama. Can you imagine being a part of that crowd in Chicago? Seeing them cry made me cry. What a remarkable night. I was kind of glad to be home alone then, and to just experience it without any distractions. I got out my journal and wrote down a few thoughts. After the speeches, it was time to turn off the TV. I didn’t want any more commentators or pundits, just to absorb what had happened all on my own.

A day off
I think I’ve mentioned before that the political atmosphere here in my corner of the COB gets pretty heated. These guys have strong opinions that they like to share very loudly, so I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to be and work and around all of that the day after the election – regardless of who won. So I scheduled a day off, and it was wonderful! I needed a new windshield in my car – it had a crack – so I got my chore done first. How nice to have brand new glass! Free of nicks and rock chips that cause the sunlight to break into prisms of color and blind me. I can see the road so well now.

I met Marla about noon, and we went to Pei Wei for lunch. Their chicken lettuce wraps and ginger broccoli are to die for. And then we did a little shopping. I was home in time for some laying on my bed and reading, and a nap, which always happens when I lay on my bed and read, and then I still had an evening to kill. So, so nice! Working like I do I hardly ever have even a Saturday free, so it was nice to take a full day like that. I’ll have to do it more often.

Protestors
Working at the COB, I see my fair share of protestors marching around our building. It used to infuriate me, but over the years I’ve tried to develop a mentally healthier attitude. Me going home with knots in my stomach certainly wasn’t going to do any good. Today is one of those days. The protestors are gathering to share their feelings about the passage of Proposition 8 in California. I imagine the crowds will be large by the time I leave here this afternoon.

I don’t hold any bad feelings toward anyone. If anything, these protestors have more ground to stand on than those who stand out there and yell at people on their way to General Conference. At least there’s a reason for the anger this time. My own thoughts on the issue at hand – it’s always best to stick with the Prophet. If there’s anything I’ve learned from reading the Book of Mormon this year, it is that the prophets have always been right. So even though I can’t always reason out the gay marriage issue in my mind (that issue and others), I know that there is safety in listening to the prophet.

I guess that it’s for now. I read a good quote on the Writer’s Almanac today: "I only know that I will maintain what I believe to be true in my own universe, and as an individual I will give in to nothing." Albert Camus

Thanks, as always, for being an important part of my life, and for letting me carry on about me.

You are loved.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Copying Ricky Gervais

I was reading Gervais' blog today, and found this link. Because I'm not a good enough blogger to put the video right here into the blog, you'll have to click the link. Believe me, it's worth the extra work.

By the way, if anyone wants to come over here and show me how to put a video into a post, I'd love it.

And, Ricky Gervais has a movie out called "Ghost Town". If you haven't seen it, you should. Very funny.

Trick-or-Treat

I celebrated Halloween with Marla, Jonah and William this year. Zac and Josh were off somewhere with their friends (they're at that age now), so it was just the four of us. We went out for some good old-fashioned trick-or-treating and had so much fun.

Here they are before going out. Jonah is a Star Wars Clone Wars character. If you look closely, you'll see that William's cap has a pumpkin stem on it. So cute.

The whole neighborhood was out in full force, including a father dressed like a werewolf, sneaking around in the shadows, and scaring to death all of the children. Jonah can really run when being chased. Good fun.

William lost interest and decided on a nap.


Jonah lasted for about an hour and a half before he was tired enough to want to go home. It was a euphoric tired. At one point, he turned to us with his big bag of candy slung over his shoulder and yelled, "Mom, this is a dream come true!"

Those kids really are the best way to spend Halloween.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Week in Review - The Halloween Edition

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is good fun. I really love it. I'm planning to go over to Marla's house tonight to see cute Jonah all dressed up in his Star Wars Clone Wars costume and do some trick-or-treating. I don't have a costume for myself. In fact, it's been years since I've done that. But still, I get a real kick out of seeing everyone else’s' costumes. There are some very clever people out there.

I thought I'd do something a bit different with the Week in Review in honor of Halloween. I have a few ghost stories, personal experiences, to share. I can't say that I believe in the traditional idea of ghosts - spirits who linger and haunt long after death. I believe strongly enough in heaven and in all that we've learned in church about the afterlife to think that a person's spirit wouldn't just hang around in limbo here on earth. But, I do think that the veil between their world and ours is at times very thin. In fact, I believe that just enough to be pretty freaked out by ghost stories. Remember that movie "The Sixth Sense"? It terrified me. The kid saw dead people! I felt like someone was standing behind me in the dark for months. Of course, that was my imagination running wild. The stories I'm going to tell you are actually real.

Benicia, CA
When on my mission, I served in a little town called Benicia, CA. We lived with an older lady named Charlene Brown. She had a two-story house, and we stayed in the upstairs bedrooms. Years earlier, she had a daughter who as an adult died from cancer. The daughter was a nurse before she got sick.

I was sick for a few weeks during the time that I lived with Sister Brown. In fact, I was sent to Santa Rosa, CA to stay with the mission president and his wife and see all kinds of doctors. I don't know that they ever really decided what was wrong. During all of this, I often had a hard time sleeping. One night, while at home in Benicia, I couldn't sleep so I got up and went into the second bedroom, which we used as a studying space, to read for a while. I was sitting on the couch facing the door to the room. The hallway was dark, everyone else was asleep. While reading, I saw someone go across the doorway toward the bathroom. I didn't see her distinctly, but still felt sure that someone was there and figured it was one of my companions (there were three of us together at the time). I watched the doorway for some time, looking for her to come out of the bathroom and to see who it was. Nothing. I finally got up and looked into the hallway. No one was there. The bathroom was dark, and both of my companions were asleep in our room. Very strange.

A few days later I mentioned this to Sister Brown. She gave me a knowing smile, and then asked if "she" scared me. I said no, that I really didn't feel scared. I just thought it was weird. Sister Brown said that she was glad, and that her daughter wouldn't want to scare me. What? Yes, her daughter. I wasn't the first sister missionary to be sick in that house to have had the same sort of thing happen. Sister Brown felt sure that her daughter, who had been a nurse, would at times come to keep an eye on us, especially if one of us wasn't well. And you know, even after hearing that I didn't feel scared. It was almost a comfort.

I eventually got well, and was transferred to another area, but that experience stayed with me - the night that the ghost of our land lady's daughter popped in to see if I was ok.

Living with Heather
Heather and I lived together for a few years in a house in Sandy. Heather had a large collection of holiday decorations, and some of them had voices or noises that would go off when you past over a sensor. One was a Halloween candy dish that would cackle and drop a fake hand down on your hand when you reached in for a piece of candy. It was Halloween night. The dish was at the front door waiting for trick-or-treaters, and we were in a back room watching tv. Every now and then we'd hear the dish cackle or talk. No reason, no one was in that room. It just went off all on its own. And when it did, we just looked at each other and laughed. I suppose there could be several explanations - something must have set off the sensor. Like a ghost.

She also had a Christmas decoration, a holiday lamppost with a face and a microphone that would sing a tune when you walked past it. This one had an on/off switch, so we could shut it off and keep it from singing all day. It was set up in the family room downstairs. One day, Sierra and I were at my house, Heather wasn't there, and we thought it would be kind of funny to turn the switch on the singing decor so that it would go off and startle Heather when she came home (real pranksters, I know). So we flipped the switch and went upstairs. A few minutes later, while we were in the kitchen, the holiday lamppost started to sing. Sierra looked at me very seriously, said, "Your house is haunted Angie", and headed for the door. We didn't mess with the decorations again after that.

The COB
It may come as a surprise to learn that the Church Office Building has a few spooks lurking about, mostly on the elevators. Nicole and I had a name for the ghost on the second floor, George McGillicuty. He likes to stop your elevator on the second floor, open the door and pause for a while before letting the door close again and send you on your way. We never know if he's getting off the elevator or on, but he's doing something. He also likes to hang out in the second floor bathroom, turning on the automatic faucets and the like (really, those faucets go off by themselves. Actually, not by themselves...). One day, I was in one of the bathroom stalls and heard someone breathing. Not unusual breathing, just enough to give me the sense that someone else was there. I came out of the stall and went to the sink to wash my hands, and while there just glanced over my shoulder. All of the stalls were empty. Every door was open and no one was there. I was shocked. I knew that I'd heard someone, and that I hadn't heard anyone leave. I even bent over and looked for feet under the stalls, that's how sure I was that someone had to be there. But no, nothing. Silly George. Now that I think about it, he really shouldn't be hanging out in the women's bathroom.

There they are, some of my own ghost stories. Not too chilling I suppose, not like some others. Still, they're fun to tell.

Happy hauntings to you all.
You are loved.

Worth Repeating

Before doing my Week in Review, I wanted to share some of the quotes that I've collected over the years. They're random, and come from different novels, plays and tv shows. The last I stole from Nicole, who had it on her blog this week, and I thought it was beautiful.

"America is an either/or country," she says. "We're a black or white, pro-life or pro-choice, Democrat or Republican. There's all this splitting that we do, and we lose the wisdom of both worlds. We lose the wisdom of being able to be women at our best—blessing the journey of someone who has found their way and not trying to make it your way." Dr. Robin Smith on Oprah

"Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous." Carrie on Sex and the City

From An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde:
Lord Goring: You see, Phipps, Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear.
Phipps: Yes, my lord.
Lord Goring: Just as vulgarity is simply the conduct of other people.
Phipps: Yes, my lord.
Lord Goring: Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself.
Phipps: Yes, my lord.
Lord Goring: To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance, Phipps.
Phipps: Yes, my lord.

"Now that I look back, it seems to me that in all that deep darkness a miracle was preparing. So I am right to remember it as a blessed time, and myself as waiting in confidence, even if I had no idea what I was waiting for." Marilynne Robinson, Gilead.

Now that I reread these, maybe there is a theme: Embrace our difference (even though other people are quite dreadful), embrace ourselves, and embrace our challenges. Miracles really can grow out of dark times.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Again?!

I got tagged again. I really do think these are fun, so I'm going to do it. First, I'd like to tell you a little bit about the person who tagged me, my friend/roommate Melissa. We met at Deseret Book in September 2001. She started working there the week of 9/11. In fact, I think it was that very day...? We became friends pretty quickly, a friendship based on our love for deep, heated conversations based on our opinions on everything. She's a great conversationalist.

Melissa's is an interesting personality. She is very opinionated, and often shares those opinions with real force (I say this with love), which might make a person think that she's a tough cookie. But the truth is, she's one of the kindest most generous people I know. She takes good care of the people she cares about, and if I ever need help with something, I know that I can go to her, which is very nice. And, she has a strong, almost irrational sense of loyalty. Case in point - she fell in love with Pierce Brosnan back in the 80s during his Remington Steele days, and has not changed her mind about him since. She saw all of his James Bond movies, and has boycotted them since he was dumped for Daniel Craig. The James Bond franchise is now dead to her. As ridiculous as this may seem, it's a comfort to a friend. I can feel pretty sure that she'll never turn her back on me.

On with the tag. Questions A-Z:

A-Attached or Single: Attached to what? If we're talking about my Coldplay cd, then yes, very.
B-Best Friend: Marla and Melody and the whole family.
C-Cake or Pie: Cake
D-Day: I like daytime, just not before 10am.
E-Essential Item: books, peanut butter, the Internet.
F-Favorite Color: blue
G-Gummi bears or gummi worms: I'd rather not have a gummi anything.
H-Hometown: Glyndon, MN
I-Indulgences: Long naps
J-January or July: Can I pick October?
K-Kids: Nope.
L-Life is incomplete without: Work. I really mean that. I love having a sense of purpose and feeling like I'm putting my time to good use.
M-Marriage Date: 2009?
N-Number of Siblings: 4 brothers and 1 sister.
O-Oranges or Apples: oranges
P-Phobias or Fears: Rats - they scare me so bad.
Q-Quote: "It's never too late to be who you might have been." George Elliot. And, "My friends have made the story of my life...turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy." Helen Keller
R-Reason to Smile: Someone tripping.
S-Season: Fall
T-Tag: Tiffany and Nicole
U-Unknown fact about me: I really don't think that I'm as nice as people seem to think I am. I'm too much of an introvert.
V-Vacation destination of choice: I'm not going to say London again because it's getting old. Let's say the ocean or New York City.
W-Worst Habit: Starting a diet every Monday.
X-X-Rays or Ultrasounds: Would a person really have a preference?
Y-your favorite food: I can't decide. It's all so delicious.
Z-Zodiac Sign: Pisces.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Week in Review

Hello All. Welcome to another edition of A Week in Review, the weekly post all about me and how I spent my week. Really, shouldn't everything be all about me?

The Alpine Loop
Every October, I love to get in my car and drive the Alpine Loop around Mount Timpanogos. It's so beautiful, especially when the leaves are changing color. There's one spot in particular that's my favorite. It's a small parking lot with a view over the canyon - looking down on the mountain sides. The pine trees are thick and dark green, and then there are patches of bright yellow aspens. The affect is gorgeous.

August and October are my favorite times to go up into the canyons. In August I go to the lake by Brighton Ski Resort and watch for moose. You have to go in the evening when they're coming down to drink from the lake. They're fascinating. So huge! And sometimes there are groups that come down together. My friend Heather and I saw five in one evening a few years ago. So awesome.

Nicole
Wednesday I went to Lehi to have dinner with my good friend Nicole and her family. She and I used to work together here at the COB, and talk and laugh and write scathing emails to each other when we were bugged and shop at Crossroads and take walks up City Creek Canyon...it was great. She left the COB a couple of years ago when she and her husband adopted the beautiful Bridget - a sweet, sweet girl. I've really missed working with her, and am so glad that we've kept in touch.

Dinner was good fun. She made a tasty casserole, and we ate and talked, and I tried to convince Bridget that I'm not so scary. I think she was close to believing me by the end of the evening. It was so good to just sit and talk to Nicole again, about important things and unimportant things and everything in between. I love friends who stay friends even though you hardly see each other anymore. It's really nice.

Like Sands Through the Hour Glass...
My niece Sierra is 18 years old now. I know, I'm shocked too. Her birthday was October 17th. She and her family were on vacation at Disneyland on her birthday. Could there be a better place to become a legal adult? I don't think so. Sierra is a beautiful girl, always has been. When she was little, she'd hold my hand and skip along side me, just so happy and as bright as sunshine. I remember when she was born. We were at the hospital to see her, and Barry said, "It's going to be so much fun, watching her grow up.", and it has been. So, so much fun.

All my girls are growing up. Cortni is married. Sierra is graduating in the spring and talking about going away to school. Mariah has a driver's license. Savannah is finishing up Junior High, and Josie (my niece in Wisconsin) will soon be 12 and in Young Womens. It's strange, because when I think about them being babies, it feels like a long time ago, but at the same time it doesn't seem like all of this should be happening yet. I consider myself very lucky to have had the time I've spent with all of them. They are, each one, a real joy. And I pray every day for their safety and happiness. Such beautiful girls.

Left to right - Savannah 14, Sierra 18, Cortni 21 and Mariah 16.
And this is Josie, 11, with her brothers Jake (left) and Matthew (right).
I found out this week that my brother Courtney and his wife Andrea are expecting a baby girl in March! So there will soon be a 6th niece to fall in love with.
Niagara Falls in a Barrel
I read a fun story on the Writers' Almanac today. It's interesting to find this because my friend/roommate Melissa went to Niagara Falls this summer, and I asked her about going over it in a barrel. She said that it's not something that anyone should ever do. I have to agree. Here's an account of the first woman who did.
"Annie Edson Taylor climbed into the barrel in the Niagara River, at Little Grass Island. She was wearing a flowing black dress and flowery hat, and carrying her lucky heart-shaped pillow. After she was inside, the top was shut and a bicycle pump increased the air pressure inside the barrel to help with the cushioning. It was pushed into the river at 4:05 p.m. and it headed toward the Canadian side. Shortly after, Annie and the barrel plunged over the falls. It took about 35 minutes from the time Annie pushed off shore to when she was pulled out of the water by rescuers. She got out of the barrel unharmed, except for a few bruises and a small gash on her forehead. Her first words after she emerged were, "Nobody ought ever to do that again."
Thanks, as always, for your constant attention.
You are loved.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

William Maximus Minnick

I thought I'd share some pictures of my newest nephew, William Maximus Minnick. He's 7 1/2 months old now, and just gets cuter every day.

Here he is in his pioneer bonnet.

With his Grandpa Owen (my dad).

With his brother Zachary and cousin Savannah. She must be saying something funny. William always gets a good joke.
Sidenote - Zac is the best oldest brother a baby can have. He takes such good care of William. It's really nice. All 13-year old girls out there should keep an eye on him. He'll be perfect husband material in 10 years.

William with his Grandma Sharon (my mom).

And in his walker. He really cruises around in this thing.

There he is. The newest love in my life. Pretty sweet, huh?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scuba Diving is a Gray Area

I think that I've mentioned before that I teach primary in my ward, the 8-year old class. Yesterday we were practicing for our sacrament meeting program. I was sitting next to a very cute, very inquisitive boy in my class who asks questions on just about everything. The older kids' parts in the program are to give talks that they're written themselves, and our president was hoping that they would have them ready for the practice yesterday. Some did, some didn't. She had one of the children who didn't have his promise that he would be ready by our next practice, and then she had him pinkie swear.

The little boy next to me asked what a pinkie swear is. I said that it means that you absolutely promise to do something.

He said, "It's a permanent promise?"
"Yes."
"Even on a play day?"
"Yes."
"When you're swimming?"
"Yes."
"Scuba diving?"
"No matter what."

I didn't tell him this, but having given it more thought, I've decided that scuba diving might be the one thing that gets a person out of a pinkie swear.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Week in Review

Hello All. It's time for another riveting edition of A Week in Review. Hold on to your hats.

Amazon.com
Amazon.com has become one of my very best friends. I don't really have a friend at the office to talk to all day (which is kind of a sad situation and might be the subject of another post), so I spend a good amount of time online. Maybe I should rename this post "True Confessions from the COB". Anyway, I have purchased several items from Amazon. You might remember that I found there a couple of books that I'd been wanting for years. This week, I found the complete original series of "As Time Goes By", an eleven dvd set. It's a British comedy starring Judy Dench that I used to watch every night on PBS, and have looked at buying several times, but it was always too much money. PBS.org wants $180 for it! Well, this week I searched Amazon, and found that I could buy it from a private seller who works through the Amazon site for $65. Jackpot! I bought it. So excited. I really, really love this website. Five stars!

The Duchess
I'm reading a book called "The Duchess". It's the biography of Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, and is very interesting. I tend to move a little more slowly through a biography then I do fiction just because they're not quite as much fun, but sometimes I find one that is written so much like a story, about a life that's so fascinating, that it's not much different than fiction. "John Adams" was like that, and this book is too. Georgiana lived in England in the late 1700s, and was a prominent figure in London society. She became very involved in politics, and even though women couldn't vote at the time, she was seen as very influential on elections because she could generate so much interest in her candidate of choice. And, her marriage and personal life were sheer drama, which makes for some interesting reading.

There's a new movie out staring Keira Knightly that's based on the book. Melissa and I saw it last Friday. I liked it, but it's kind of heavy. Not the beautiful, fun English period piece that Jane Austen can create. The story focuses on the circumstances of her marriage, which really were heartbreaking. I wouldn't discourage anyone from seeing it, but be warned.

Speaking of Politics
Today I got online to look into the local elections. I'm all caught up in the Presidential election this year, but I'm realizing that there are going to be other categories on the ballot when I go to vote, and maybe I should try to figure out who these people are. I'm pretty lame when it comes to local politics. So, I found the Utah Voter Information Pamphlet online and printed it out. I was expecting about ten pages, but printer just kept spitting out more and more. My eyes grew bigger with each sheet. "For crying out loud! How long is this thing?" Ninety-one pages, that's how long. I can't learn 91 pages worth of names and parties and constitutional amendments and referendums! Not in two weeks. Heck, not ever. Bah! And why on earth do they want me to vote for judges? How am I suppose to know whether or not a judge is doing his job? I'm just going to vote "yes" on keeping all of them because I would feel awful about being the reason why someone lost his job.

If you're interested in the giant pamphlet, it can be found at http://www.elections.utah.gov/. When you go to pick it up, lift with your legs. You don't want to put too much strain on your back.

I think that's it for today. I'll end with a quote from Oscar Wilde, "The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself."

Thanks, as always, for all of the blogging warm fuzzies.
You are loved.