Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Night of Frights...

...has finally arrived. There is a chill and a thrill in the air. Halloween is here. Last night, I carved my second jack-o-lantern. That's right. I bought another one and carved it. I do not know what this Halloween Night will bring, but I'm determined to make it great.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some Favorites and Nots

I have some time to actually sit down and write. Hooray for that!

So here's what's piled up in my brain:

I really don't like bears. When I say that, to most people it translates to: I'm afraid of bears. Now I'm not gonna say I'm not afraid of them -I think every normal person has a healthy respect for the potential hazards a bear poses, but it's just a normal fear not a phobia. I really dislike bears. Cubs are OK, but the huge smelly scavenging menaces that are their parents ---I really dislike.

Why the hate? I've touched on a few reasons. They smell. No I've never smelled a bear, but it's a fact. They're smelly, they're ugly when they get big. They'll eat your food if you've got any around, and if you get in the way, they will maul you. They have no concept of private ownership. What's yours is theirs in their mind. They go about taking whatever they like from whomever they like. What about human rights? I contend that bears are taking away our Constitutional rights. They think they're above the law. They're not. If I saw a bear in Yellowstone, I'd be tempted to do a drive by shouting. I'd put that bear in its place and give it a few things to consider. I think I might toss a rock at it too. Go geology! I'm OK with some bears: polar bears, Panda bears. They aren't bad.

Now you know my least favorite animal. Wanna know my favorite? It's changed throughout the years, but I've finally settled on one that is the best of the best of the best, sir.
The otter.
They've got so much personality, they're super playful and unique, they can swim in the water, they can run on land, they're pretty much the coolest thing ever. And know what else? They've even got their own treat for humans that tastes super good on a summer day. Yes, you can buy a whole case of Otter Pops at a very reasonable price, Pop 'em in the freezer, and life is bliss as long as you have an Otter Pop to grab.

Now for some popcorn. Not literally -I'm just going to talk about it. I love good popcorn. Not a lot of it. When you work at a movie theater, being around popcorn too much can really ruin it for you. But good popcorn is one of the most American things I can think of. What I'm not a fan of is kettle corn. I probably wouldn't care so much but for the fact that it's so deceitful! The unsuspecting person sees a bowl of warm, buttery kernels popped to perfection and reaches out for a satisfying bite. Much to their dismay, that perfect mixture of salt and butter flavor that should accompany the experience is not there, no. It's got sugar on it. What? Yes, I'm afraid so. I really think that kettle corn must've started with a prank. "HEY! Who put sugar on the ....hmmm. It's kind of sweet. Actually it's not too bad. We might have something here." I keep trying to like it, but it hasn't worked so far.

Holidays: With my latest entries, you could probably guess my favorite holiday. It's kind of tied with Christmas and the 4th of July, but I sure do love Halloween. I love everything about it. Some people have a negative opinion of the holiday due to some of the mischief kids feel compelled to pull. I guess that growing up in Joseph City, it was all good fun: a night of costumes, carnivals, candy, and coming home completely funned-out.
I do love pumpkins, probably more so than the average person. I love the color, the smell, and all that you can do with them. Call me crazy, but I cringe when someone lifts a pumpkin by the stem. I imagine the stem snapping off, the pumpkin falling and smashing open on the ground. When I pick up a pumpkin, I always grab it from beneath and tuck it in my arm carefully. And on the way home from buying some pumpkins, I've been known to strap them in with the seatbelts to keep them from rolling around or getting damaged. Call me crazy ---I love them. A toast to the glorious gourds! (I raise my glass of SILK pumpkin spice drink) Cheers!

I don't have a least fave holiday. Any reason to celebrate is a good day in my book.

Oh, I have to share another thing with you before I forget. I was talking about giving plasma (surprising, right?) with a friend in one of my classes. I explained that I used to hate needles and blood. I would get faint even thinking about it, but not anymore. Here's his thoughts on the subject: "You know, it's not that bad. If you hate needles, think of it as a sharpened straw. It's a lot less frightening. Sure, they're gonna poke it in your arm, but it's not a needle! It's more like having a Capri Sun. Just a quick poke, then it's happy time!" I love it. I think of it every time I donate.

That's it for this edition of my ramblings. Happy Haunting to you all!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Not Quite so Haunting, During the Day

Since the night shots don't quite do the ol' place justice, we decided to return to the hamlet of Teton to the .....Haunted Mill during the day to get some day shots. I don't want to bore anyone with all my posts of eerie photos. I just can't help myself.
Not quite so frightening during the day, the Mill is still quite eery -its dark outline jutting menacingly out of the autumn skyline.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Haunting Good Time

The night we'd been waiting for finally arrived. The four of us (Me, Mike, Evan, and Karla) piled into the Dart and headed out to Teton to .....duhn-duhn-duhn The HAUNTED MILL.
They'd added a few things since last year, and I was equally thrilled with it this year. During one part, you have to cross a bridge, and a dude down below controls some catapults that launch water at you. Last year, it only splashed a bit of my leg. This year, It got me square in the shoulder, soaking my whole left side.

The pictures are kind of cruddy, but it's the best I could do given the lighting of a dark October night, and doesn't it add a little to the creepy feel of it? I thought so.

So we survived! I wish I could take a video through it, because some of the reactions are classic. The spooks take it easy for a bit, you start to let your guard down, and that's when they come at you -full force. It's so fun.

Today, my throat feels like I cheered all night at a football game. I guess I really did scream a lot.

We might go again next Tuesday. Feel free to come along ...if you dare.
Victims waiting to enter:
Mike and Evan, trying to convince each other that this is a good idea:
Evan, Mike, and Karla looking very spooked as we wait in line:
The cursed Haunted Mill itself:

Monday, October 19, 2009

On a Blustery Fall Afternoon

Today has been stormy. Now that I have a great friend named Stormy, I always feel like I should capitalize that word.
It's been a bit rainy, windy, and overcast. The reds, yellows, and browns of Fall are being swept through the streets on the wind.
I went to grab a few things at the store, and I noticed the big cans of crushed pineapple on sale for a dollar. I couldn't resist.
I knew a dish that would hit the spot on a cold day like today: Mom's bacon and beans (with pineapple, onion, and bell pepper). I know I've blogged about it before, but today it tasted SO good! The smell alone satisfies hunger.

I bought a big box of blue nitrile gloves at Napa that I keep in my trunk for when I'm working on greasy projects. Well, I also use them when I cut onions. I probably look like Dexter from Dexter's lab, but at least my hands won't smell like that awful onion smell for the next week or so.

Mom, your dish hit the spot and warmed this Stormy day. And I put 4 containers of it in the freezer. I'll be enjoying it a while longer.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Night Haunts

We went back. At night.
There were several people at the "Haunted" Swing, so that wasn't all that thrilling ---but going through the old farmhouse buildings off in the distance, that was a fright. I like to scare myself once in a while.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Haunting Photos

This afternoon, the roommates and I headed out to the middle of the spud fields on the outskirts of town. We had to check out the "Haunted Swing". The local legend goes that this isolated swing was built a long time ago for a little girl who spent much of her time there. Now that she's dead, they say her spirit still lingers, and sometimes you can sense her presence and the swing will move without anyone touching it, with no wind blowing.

Well, it turned out to be not so scary in the daytime. I don't know what all the fuss is about. We did, however, spy some old buildings off in the distance that looked pretty spooky. So we investigated despite the fact that the road through the spud field was muddy and the fact that there were NO TRESPASSING signs all along the way.

I'm glad we did, because it made for some pretty sweet photos. These are just a few.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I really should be doing homework. Like Donkey says, "Really, really".
But there's just too much to blog.
SO, I must blog.

As you may have noticed, I've got a new seasonal background and playlist. It was high time.

Today was just crisp and beautiful. Leaves were blowing in the wind and my fingers are just starting to get cold on the way to class.

I felt like pulling out my hidden copy of You've Got Mail and watching it. It's the perfect Fall movie. At least the first of it. Maybe I'll do that while I do homework.

I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with some Canadian friends yesterday. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, all sorts of salads, and hot apple pie with ice cream. God Bless Canada for teaching me how to get the most out of Thanksgiving.

I'm really getting excited for the Halloween holiday. The Haunted Mill is a must -I don't know when we'll actually go, but I'm already stoked for it.

My "mulled cider" candle fills my room with the scent of autumn and I'm carried away to some other place where there are buckets of apples, ladders and trees, and a chilly night threatening with frost. But then the daydream ends. I have to get my homework done.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pickin' Pumpkins

Me, Mike, Kim, and Mike's brother Brandon, with his wife Karlie all went to Idaho Falls yesterday to pick pumpkins. We were so in the mood to carve when we got home that we grabbed a pizza from Papa Murphy's and started carving. I free-handed a face. I know my jack-o-lantern won't last to the end of the month, but I'll just go grab another pumpkin from the store and carve it the day before Halloween. It's officially fall now. I love it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

She Made It!

Yesterday as I arrived at the dentist's office, I happened to notice my odometer. That's right -the Dart just rolled over the digits to zero for the first time since she was made. 99999.9 went to all zeros. She's served me well for as long as I've had her, and I look forward to seeing many more places with the Dart.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Speaking of Harvest Time

It's about that time of year, and pictures of pumpkins I've carved in the past get me excited for the selection and carving of a big orange beauty.

This year I'm doing something I've never done; I'm going out to a pumpkin patch to hand select my own pumpkin.

I can hardly wait to go to the Haunted Mill again this year. October is always a fun-filled month.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Here Goes:

Months ago, I wrote an entry dedicated to my good friend, my great Aunt Minnie. This semester, I'm taking public speaking. For our first speech, we had two options for a topic: "a tribute" or "I believe in _____". When I got the assignment, I knew what I wanted to do. So my speech, which I'll be giving tomorrow morning, is a tribute to Minnie. I can't say enough about how much I admire her. And now, for the speech:

How do you measure greatness?

How do you recognize nobility?

The great people – are they to be found only in the pages of great books with their deeds shining as brilliantly as their name in our hearts?

What of those simple, quiet examples whose works are never published, paraded, or sung about?

I’ve known Minnie for as long as I can remember. As a child, I knew her as the sweet, thin, old widow who drove around in an old, brown, granny-cruiser, who never missed a yard sale, whose gray hair always looked a bit wind-blown, and who always wore a smile.

As I grew into young adulthood, my handy-man tool-box filled up with skills and my ability to lift things became increasingly obvious. Every once in a while, I’d get an after-school phone call from Minnie, requesting a hand with something:
I moved furniture, hauled wood, reached items from high shelves, and did yard work. Minnie would put me to work and come back to check on me every so often. After a bit, she’d call me into her little house to take a break.

As I rested up, Minnie and I would visit. It was during these visits that I discovered what a vibrant gem my spry old widow friend was. She and I could talk about anything. I never felt criticized in her presence. I felt like Minnie was confident that I was capable of doing anything I chose to undertake.

As we chatted, Minnie’s hands were always busy. She was the queen of the crochet hook. Nobody could whip out such a neat stitch as quick as Minnie could.
One day, Minnie set her work down and started going through her basket. She fetched some skeins of yarn and a hook. She handed it to me! I was bewildered. “You ought to be doing something while we sit here and talk. We’re going to teach you how to crochet.”

-Oh. OK.

Have you ever tried to say no to a sweet old lady?

Visit by visit, I began to learn the basic stitches I’d need to make just about anything.

A few months later, I had to learn how to quilt in my home-ec class.

Minnie caught wind of it. That Christmas, my gift from my dear friend was a small cardboard box full of fabric squares and a pattern for putting it all together.
I had no interest in taking up quilting as a hobby.

But my conscience and sincere care for my well-meaning friend got the better of me. I bit the bullet, swallowed my masculine teenage pride, and decided to make the quilt.
Now for a confession: to my great amazement, all those hours spent at the sewing machine grew on me. Sewing was a creative outlet that I found to be very calming. I don’t often broadcast it, but I’m the best male quilter I know.

Minnie’s calls for help came more often once she discovered my skills with a needle. More and more visits were spent around a quilting frame with a needle and thread and sore shoulders.

I came to find that Minnie was the most gifted, most giving, and most resourceful person I’d ever known. Her quilts and crochet projects went out tied in bundles as gifts for weddings, graduations, births, and all sorts of special occasions.
She was always busy with something.

Time wore on, and I left for Canada as a missionary. In the winter months, the Canadian kids wore some very cool crocheted touques.
(That’s Canadian for “beany”.)

I decided to try my hand at making one for myself. The skill I’d learned in Minnie’s parlor, and thought I’d never use, was very soon discovered by my fellow missionaries. I had requests to make touques for all the missionaries in my zone.

I came home from Canada to find that my friend had suffered a stroke and was living far away with her daughter’s family in California. She could no longer talk, but she could still write, listen, and crochet.

She couldn’t drive anymore. She knew I would need a car. The brown granny cruiser was given to me: a 1974 Dodge Dart that I drove to class this morning.

A few short months later, Minnie laid down her crochet hook for the last time. At her funeral, bins full of hand-crafted pot-holders were handed out. Each person left with a keepsake hand-made by Minnie.

In her storage were quilts, labeled for events yet to happen: the future wedding of a nephew or niece, the birth of a couple’s first child, …Minnie continues to give, years after her passing.

She was a person who was dealt a tough hand, but kept smiling through it all.

She was one who filled a need when she saw one.

She knew the meaning of using talents.

She wore out her own life in blessing the lives of those around her.

She never led a historical battle, cured a disease, or ruled a nation. But she touched countless lives in her own very simple, quiet way.

How many lives still feel the warmth of Minnie’s love?

What is greatness?

What is nobility?

I believe it is found in the person who uses their simple talents to the fullest to make life better for people around them.

General Conference Weekend

It took several busy days of preparation, making sure I had my homework done in time, but I was able to pull it off. I got to go to general conference. I rode down with my friends Bryce, Michael (Kidd), and Kim. I got to see loads of family, friends, and people from my mission. That's half the thrill of conference; when the Mormons gather, it's a ready made reunion full of surprises. I'll let the pictures say the rest. What an inspiring couple of days!