Friday, October 30, 2009

Week in Review

Hello All. Due to a complete lack of anything to tell you, and some other projects that are begging for my time, I am delaying A Week in Review until Monday or Tuesday. In the mean time, here's a little Halloween scare from The Nightmare Before Christmas, with music from Panic at the Disco (that's for you Sierra).

Happy Halloween!
You are loved.

ps - My apologies for the AOL add.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Something Fun

From the Fun Theory

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Years ago, when Sierra was maybe four years old, she and I were walking though a parking lot to the grocery store. She was holding my hand and skipping, and then she stopped dead and said, "Punkamins!" with all of the joy a 4-year old can hold. There were rows and rows of pumpkins on hay bales in front of the store, and they looked wonderful.

Last night I went to Marla's for an annual pumpkin carving. I say annual because it is for them, but I actually haven't done it for a few years. I'd forgotten how much fun pumpkin carving is.

The boys were pretty happy when they heard what we were doing that night, and as soon as dinner was done, they grabbed their chosen pumpkins, hunkered down and dove in. Side note - all of these pumpkins came from their garden.

William is a bit young to be let loose with sharp knives, so we just took a cute picture of him, and then took everything away. He seemed to be ok with that, and just went into the living room to play with his toys. Every now and then he'd come back and check on us, ask to be held, get a look at what we were doing, and then run off again.

Jonah took his pumpkin very seriously. I underestimated that kid. I really thought that either Marla or I would be doing most of the work for him, but he did the whole thing all by himself, even the gutting. Mike (Marla's husband) cut the tops off, and then Jonah dug in up to his elbows in goop and started pulling that stuff out with real gusto.

In the mean time I worked on my pumpkin, which went something like this, "Ick this stuff is slimy. I can't get it all out! Gah, there's all this stringy stuffy. My hands are a mess. Will someone get me a paper towel!" Marla took over for me. She dug in there with a spoon and got all of the string along with a thin layer of pumpkin leaving just the smooth inside. Amazing. Jonah, who was sitting right next to me, said very matter-of-factly that he's "really good" at gutting, and showed me his perfectly clean pumpkin. I was honestly impressed.

Jonah then went to work at carving a face. First he took a stick-like tool and made an outline in dots, and then he got a small knife and went to work.
Zac, who is now 14 and way too cool for pumpkins, still joined in, but did so with a good dose of sarcasm and attitude.
Actually, Zac is a very good kid, and fun, even with the sarcasm and attitude.
Meanwhile, William, exhausted by all of the activity, decided to stretch out on the kitchen floor. Pumpkin carving is too hard.
Josh, like Jonah, was a professional carver, and finished off two pumpkins. Good work. He's also good at making a silly face when you want to take his picture, which is fun for all of us. Oh, and before you think that Zac is a master carver, I should tell that what he's holding is a fake. It's a plastic decoration.

Josh, hard at work. I'm noticing all of the pop bottles around the kitchen. We're big drinkers. It's part of our Minnesota heritage. You shouldn't let go of your culture. By the end of the evening we had a good collection of jack-o-lanterns, and I should have taken a picture of them, but I didn't, so you'll have to trust me.
William was on his way to bed about the time that I left for home, and I got a very nice goodnight hug. He's so sweet, and a good cuddler. Cuddling is the best.
I'm going back over on Saturday for trick-or-treating. It was so fun last year, and the kids have good costumes, so I'm pretty excited about it.
Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Week in Review

I don't have much to review today. I've just been settling back into my old routine, wondering who this "balloon boy" is, and then deciding that I just don't care. A person misses stuff while on vacation. Some of it isn't worth getting caught up on. It is nice, though, to settle back into life as usual.

Because of a lack of anything to talk about, I thought that I'd share some pictures of one of my favorite places, so here is...

Where I go Walking
A few times a week I use my lunch hour to take a walk. Most of you locals know Memory Grove and City Creek Canyon, but for those who don't I will try to describe it. There's a street northeast of the COB that leads up into a lovely residential area with quaint, old homes, and then into Memory Grove, which is a park with monuments dedicated to war vetrans. After the park, the path winds up into a small canyon called City Creek, aptly named for the creek that runs down from the mountains into the city. The early settlers used this water to irrigate their crops, and from what I understand the water used to run underneath Temple Square and powered the first pipe organ in the tabernacle. Now most of the lands around the creek are parks, all very pretty, and all lovely to walk through in the fall.

This is the deck on one of those old homes.
A monument in Memory Grove
The creek
And the path that leads up the canyon
Sometimes you meet up with the local riff-raff on the trail.
Actually, I work with those guys, and they're pretty nice.
More of the creek

Look how the vine wraps it's way up that great tree. I stare at it every time I walk by.
The reds are pretty
Here's Memory Grove Park again.
This little park is across the street from the COB, and the water comes from the same creek. When the girls were little we came here often.

The poem on the Writers' Almanac today was about water and trees, so I'll end with it:

by Louis Jenkins
It turns out that the drain pipe from the sink is attached to nothing and water just runs right onto the ground in the crawl space underneath the house and then trickles out into the stream that passes through the backyard. It turns out that the house is not really attached to the ground but sits atop a few loose concrete blocks all held in place by gravity, which, as I understand it, means "seriousness." Well, this is serious enough. If you look into it further you will discover that the water is not attached to anything either and that perhaps the rocks and the trees are not all that firmly in place. The world is a stage. But don't try to move anything. You might hurt yourself, besides that's a job for the stagehands and union rules are strict. You are merely a player about to deliver a soliloquy on the septic system to a couple dozen popple trees and a patch of pale blue sky.
"Gravity" by Louis Jenkins from Before You Know It: Prose Poems 1970–2005. ©

I do talk, sometimes, to the trees as I walk by. Not out loud, just in my head, while sorting through the events of the day, or the week, or the whole life. The trees listen well; they seldom interrupt me, and I always feel good afterward. Walks are good for the soul.

Thanks, as always, for your kind regard.
You are loved.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm Back


I’m back. I’m sorry to tell you that I have to start my report with some bad news – I forgot to pack my camera. That’s right, I took a week’s long vacation without taking any pictures. It’s hard to believe. But the memories are fresh in my head, so let’s go with that.

The Beginning
I flew into Fargo/Moorhead on Friday the 9th at about 11:30pm. If you remember, I bought my ticket back in June and had the perfect plan. I was going to work on Friday, and then leave here about 7pm. It was a direct flight, which would have been so nice. Well stupid Delta cancelled my perfect plan, so I had to go with a 4:50 flight instead. I packed up all of my stuff (except the camera) Thursday and brought it all to work with me, and went straight to the airport from the office at about 3:00 that afternoon. Leaving the office that late cut my time close, but when I got there it was to find that my plane was delayed an hour. Bah, what can you do? At least I wasn’t late.

Once the flight got in the air it went well enough. I don’t much like being on an airplane. It’s just so cramped, and it smells like engine fumes, and there are all of these other people… but we got to Minneapolis, and then on to Fargo without a hitch. Mom and Dad were waiting for me at the airport; we gave hugs, collected my bags and went home.

A word about the Fargo airport – it’s so small. There are in total 4 gates – 4. And usually only 2 of them are in use. You have to see it to believe it.

On Saturday we loaded up the car and drove to Rochester, MN, where Courtney and Andrea are. It was cold that morning! Temperatures were in the mid 20s when we left, and didn’t get much above freezing all day. I had bought a new and very cute fall jacket for the trip, my one pre-trip purchase. Minnesota winds blows right though a fall jacket. I could just as well have pulled a garbage sack over my head. The plastic probably would have been a better wind breaker. Of course, it wouldn’t have been as cute.

In spite of the winds we got to Rochester and found my adorable niece and nephews. Court and Andrea have two boys, Spencer and Andrew, and a baby girl named Amalia. You might remember them from the drive through Mt Rushmore last spring. They are just as much fun as ever, and they endure being squeezed and kissed and kissed and squeezed very well. Amalia was asleep when we got there, so I asked Court if it would be ok if I went into her room just to peak at her. He said I could, and so I snuck in very quietly, and saw that she was just waking up. “Oh no!” I thought, “Stranger in her room, she’s going to freak.” But instead she lifted up her little head, looked at me and smiled. I picked her up very carefully, and we went downstairs to the rest of the family. She didn’t make a peep. I’ve never, never had a niece or nephew who was that friendly. Heck, Jonah used to scream me out of his room, and he knew full well who I was. I’d like to think that this little girl instinctively knows who I am, too, and loves me. I don’t suppose that’s likely, but still, maybe?

On Sunday we went for a walk to Spencer’s school. He’s in Kindergarten, and the school he attends is a brand new building. This is its first year. The school district was hosting an open house. I couldn’t help thinking that a school would never get away with doing that on Sunday in Utah, but Minnesota is a little more lenient on the Ten Commandments. I say that with love. The school was great. Elementary classroom are so much fun with all of the stuff on the wall and kid’s art projects and the picture books and text books. I was wondering why I didn’t become an elementary school teacher. The whole place was exciting. We went into the music room, and there were posters of musicians from different decades on the wall. Court walked up to the one from the 70s and pointed to the band Kiss, “I’m glad to see that Kiss is still relevant in the elementary school music program.” Ha! That’s still funny.

After touring the school, we spent that afternoon at their house, and it was honestly one of the best afternoons I’ve had in a long time. Everything about it was warm, cozy, homey goodness. We had a roast in the crock pot. Mom and I made apple crisp. There was football on TV, little boys running around, and good conversation with the grownups. I so very rarely experience anything domestic, and I forget what a home can and should be. It filled up my heart and soul with the kind of peace that only family and apple crisp can give. Perfectly lovely.

You know one of my favorite things about little boys? They wrestle. Spencer was sitting on the living room floor looking at something while Drew was standing next to his dad and talking to him. Then Spencer, totally unprovoked and without any reason, stood up, walked over to Drew, took him from behind with his arms wrapped around his shoulders and torso, and rolled him to the ground. They rolled back and forth, locked in a tight hold. Court looked at me and said, “That’s what you call a take down.” After a minute they broke it up and went their separate ways. I think Drew walked back over to Court to finish what he was saying. Awesome. Only little boys.

We left Court and Andrea on Monday morning (after cleaning show off of the car, unbelievable!)and headed for Illinois. I’m sure I’ve mentioned my aunt Beverly to many of you before. She is my mom’s only sister, and has lived with her family in Chicago all of my life. We went there many times, almost yearly, throughout my childhood. Beverly and Bill (her husband), had one daughter, Linda, who is about 18 years older than me. When I and my siblings where kids Linda grown up and gone, so Beverly and Bill focused their attention on us, and what good attention it was!

I have all kinds of little names for my nieces and nephews: honey, sweetie, pumpkin, snicker doodle. It’s silly and gushy, but I do it. And I noticed that Mom and Beverly do the same thing, but this time I’m the honey and the sweetie. I kind of like it. Beverly is a wonderful aunt. When I was young, she called me princess, and told me that I had pretty eyes. She’d talk about tending me when I was little, and said that she could curl my hair around her finger and make ringlets. She would also tell me about a day when she was playing with me, and she did something silly and I said, “Oh Beverly, you’re ridiculus”, and then she’d laugh. She loved that story. By the way, I misspelled ridiculous on purpose, trying to show how I pronounced in the story. That one isn’t one of my usual typos.

Between my aunt and my Mom my every need was met almost instantly. I was always being asked what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, would I like something to drink, was I hungry, did I sleep ok, was it warm enough? I slept in every morning, and then woke up to the smell of bacon frying in the kitchen. Honestly, everyone should stay with Beverly for a few days. It’s fantastic.

I have to say, though, that she’s changed. She’s almost 79 years old, so of course she’s showing the signs of age, but it’s not just that. My uncle Bill (who was just as wonderful to me as Beverly is) died 3 years ago, and losing him has been very hard on her. It shows in almost everything she does, even in the way she walks. Strange how an emotional hurt can show itself physically. She’s lost her center, her core. It was hard to see.

Still, we had a good time. My cousin Linda, who lives close by Beverly, spent the two days with us. We went to a beautiful arboretum, went shopping, went out for dinner, and ate some of Chicago’s best deep dish pizza, mmmmm. I can’t get enough of that.

Eau Claire
This is getting long. Are you bored. It’s ok to get up and stretch, maybe get a drink, before continuing. Are you ok now? Good.

Eau Claire is French for clear water, and it’s also the name of the town in Wisconsin where my brother Shane and his family live. It’s a gorgeous place, very woodsy. We drove there on Thursday, and arrived sometime in the afternoon. Shane and two of their five kids were involved in a musical version of “Cinderella” that was playing in a neighboring town. Shane is a trumpet player and was in the orchestra. They had already left for the play when we got there, so we spent some time with his wife Donna and the other kids, and then had an early night.

The next day we met up with Shane, who had taken the afternoon off at work, and drove out into the country to see my dad’s cousin on his dairy farm. Back in 1982 this cousin hosted a family reunion. That was the last and only time I’d been to his home, so it surprised me to remember so much of it when we got there. He and dad had a nice visit, and while they talked Shane and I went for a walk. He told me about his kids and his work. It was good to get caught up again.

That evening we went to “Cinderella”. It was a small production, but everyone did a good job. It was fun to watch the kids on stage and Shane with his trumpet. The orchestra was sitting off to the side of the audience in the auditorium, so I could look over and see Shane playing. It was nice. All of these years that he and I have lived in different places we haven’t seen enough of each other. I was happy to see that part of his life, of what he does. And the strange thing is that it all felt so familiar. Maybe because we played in the band together in high school, I don’t know. But it’s nice to feel like I still know him, and to have a connection.

Four Towns and a Wedding
Saturday was my last day, and we finished it off with a wedding in Ashby, MN. I have to say that by this time Angie was getting tired and crabby. She’d had a week on the road. A great week, but still a lot of here, there and everywhere, and Angie had lost some of her vacation glow. She hopes that she wasn’t too snippy with her parents, and if she was then she’s sorry.

Ashby is a little town close to the farm where my dad grew up. Most of his siblings stayed in that area. It’s where we went to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. One of those cousins was married on Saturday. He’s much younger than me, so we didn’t grow up together. In fact, I don’t feel like I know him at all. But still I was looking forward to seeing all of that side of the family. The ceremony was in a little country church, was short and sweet, and then there was a dinner/dance at a reception center in town. During dinner, I was sitting across from my cousin’s little boy, and he asked me if I was married. I said no, and then he wanted to guess my age and started with 18! Nice! I said no, a little older. “23?” “No”, and then I told him how old I really am. He didn’t seem too phased, 18, 39, what’s the difference? But I later told mom that it was one of the nicest things anyone has said to me.

We couldn’t stay at the wedding for very long because my flight was the next morning, and we’d been on the road all week, and Angie needed some down time before repacking everything and flying home. She was, after all, kind of tired and crabby.
We went for a short drive past my grandparent’s farm on our way home after the wedding, and then past the farm where my parents lived when I was born. I’ll have to go back there with my camera. I did not know until just this past Saturday that there is a graveyard very near the house that I was a baby in, a small country graveyard. That must be the start and source of my lifelong love/hate/terror relationship with ghosts and ghost stories. I’m still a little taken aback – a grave yard so close to the house. Weird.

Sunday I flew back to Utah. The flights went well again, thank heaven, and it was good to be home. I always miss my bed and bathroom most, don’t you? Gosh it felt good to take a shower and go to bed that night. So good.

And there’s my trip. I was wonderful. Good to see so, so much family, good to connect with my brothers again, good to see the green rolling hills and the beautiful October leaves of the Midwest. And it was very good to have so much time with my parents.

Thanks for your attention.
And just in case you forgot during my long absence….
You are loved.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going Away for a While

I am leaving for Minnesota on Friday! It's so exciting. I have about 1 million things to do, and about 25 more hours on the job between now and then, but still I feel like smiling because I am going on vacation!

I'm going to suspend the blog until I'm back again. You can anticipate lovely pictures and stories from home. Don't you love those old ladies who want to share their vacation pictures? That's me.

Angie out.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Week in Review

A warm, fuzzy, fall greeting to everyone this morning. Fall has settled into the valley, and I love it so much. I don’t have a lot to talk about today, but let’s do a Week in Review anyway, in kind of a random thoughts style.

October is my favorite month. It really is. I love the temperatures cooling down, and sweatshirts, and pumpkins everywhere, and the color of the leaves, and football, and the cute Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations, and putting more blankets on my bed and snuggling in. THIS is the most wonderful time of the year.

I took a long walk yesterday and it was gorgeous. The cool air and sunshine really made me happy, and I stayed happy for the rest of the day.

Something’s gone terribly wrong. One of my coworkers is making enough popcorn for the whole office, which is about 100 people, which is a lot of popcorn. I don’t know why he’s doing it. He just burned a bag, and the smell is terrible, and then he came out of his office with a bottle of air freshener. It did not help. Now we’re smelling scorched fruit.

Isn’t it strange – popcorn is delicious; one of the best things on this earth, but when it’s burned it’s really, really bad. Really bad.

I DON’T HAVE TO WORK LADIES NIGHT! I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to tell you that. The store doesn’t have enough guys to open, so I’m working tomorrow morning! I teared up a little when I saw that on the schedule. Best day ever.

Now the boss is walking around with more air freshener. Honestly.

My fingernails are painted a very dark red, and I like it.

People around here are very jolly about Conference Weekend. They actually say, “Have a nice Conference!” It’s kind of like Christmas.

Melody and I went to the Conference Center for the Relief Society meeting last Saturday. It’s a tradition. We’ve gone to almost every woman’s conference for as long as we’ve lived here, and then we go to dinner. I got a little grumpy about traffic this time, but it was worth the frustration. All of the talks were good. One of the counselors in the Presidency, Barbara Thompson, talked a little bit about how her plans for her life didn’t work out the way she had wanted them to, but that she’s always stayed close to the Lord, and that’s made all of the difference. I noticed how honestly happy she looked. Her eyes shine. She’s a good example for me, and for all of us.

Everyone who walks by comments on the awful popcorn smell.

Mariah, Savannah and I went shopping for Mariah’s birthday last Friday. She’s 17 now, and I can’t believe it. She’s really one of the sweetest girls, and fun, and just easy to have around. And she gives great hugs. So many things to love about Mariah.

I leave for my trip to Minnesota/Chicago/Wisconsin one week from today! I’m so ready. I don’t think that I’ve ever been so ready for a vacation in my life. I’ve been unbearably crabby lately. It’s time for a break.

The more I think about it, the more seriously I’m taking the idea of writing children’s books.

I’ve been saying that for years. It’s just that I’ve NEVER considered myself a writer, and I still don’t. Maybe I can just write some stuff without the “writer” title and see how it goes. I’m more comfortable with that.

The burned popcorn smell is making everyone a little loopy, and nauseous. This is as close to drunk as any of us get.

I want very much to spend the week of my birthday in London. Good idea, huh? Anyone want to come?

I think that’s it for today. Thanks, as always, for your continued awesomness.
You are loved.

(PS – I just added awesomness to my Word dictionary. It counts now.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fun History Facts

I was reading my world civilizations text book about King Henry II in England, who ruled between 1154-1189. He's known for establishing a common law for the people, and for starting the judicial system by holding trials for the accused. In my book it said:

"Proving guilt or innocence in criminal cases could pose a problem. Where there was no specific accuser, the court sought witnesses, then looked for written evidence. If the judges found neither and the suspect had a bad reputation in the community, the person went to trial by ordeal. He or she was bound hand and food and dropped into a lake or river. Because water was supposed to be a pure substance, it would reject anything foul or unclean. Thus the innocent person would sink and the guilty person float. Because God determined guilt or innocence, a priest had to be present to bless the water. Henry disliked the system because the clergy controlled the procedure..."

Really King Henry, that's what bothered you? Not the fact that throwing a person into a lake to see if he sinks or floats is ABSURD?

I actually laughed out loud when I read that.