Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Merry Day

My favorite things about Christmas are memories, being with family, traditions, and the excitement of little kids.

My Dad pulled out his horse carriage and hitched up my sister's horse, Jet, to deliver goody plates and to give rides on Christmas morning. I love this tradition. It brings a real old-time feel to our holiday and I hope that it's a memory that our next little generation will cherish in their holiday memories. My parents always come through with making the day a great one.

My Mom always makes her amazing orange rolls for us. It's officially Christmas when I smell them baking.

And we still have something amazing to look forward to: my parents bought tickets for the entire lot of us to go on the "Polar Express" train ride on Tuesday in the Williams Grand Canyon Railway. The grandkids are all anticipating this event and Lacy has it in her head that Grandpa will be driving the train. After all, why not? He drives just about everything else. Why not the train? I love it. I think the engineer/conductor/whatever should let my Dad go to the front and take the reins for a bit. I'm not sure who'd be more thrilled, Lacy or Dad.

Thanks to my aunt, I got (as a Christmas present) a copy of the DVD from the Hansen Reunion this summer: a slide-show of my great-grandparents and their posterity. We put that in to play while we opened presents. What a treat that was. It made Christmas morning all the greater. Thanks Auntie Juju.

Here are the pictures of our carriage rides. Some are pretty similar to each other, but I just had to post them all. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ringing, Singing, and Making Merry

It's something I look forward to each Christmas Season: the festive sing-a-long. Can you blame me? There you will find the debut of local talent, the debut of local improvisation, the sound of bells ringing and merry singing, a visit from Suzy Snowflake, and the promise of hot chocolate to warm your heart.
Here is the Kinkade-esque cottage where we hold the merry event:

I dedicate this post to Suzy Snowflake and to the children who still beleive in her.
And now for a flashback to the sing-a-long of Christmas Past:

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I made it! I donated plasma yesterday morning and left right afterwards to hit the road. The roads were beautifully clear and I made good time. Leaving Rexburg, the temperature was a whole 4 degrees.

I got stopped once, just past Idaho Falls. The officer told me I needed to scrape the ice off my back window. Then he realized that there was ice on the inside too. So he told me, "Try to get it to thaw so you can see out the back."

As I headed South, the temperatures got a little warmer and the ice and snow that was left on my car slowly melted away.

I have (or had, rather) an SD slot in my car stereo, meaning I can play SD cards. So I dumped all my entire collection of Christmas music on an SD card and listened to that on the way down. But at highway speeds, the cab of my car is pretty loud. So I crank the volume of the stereo to compensate. Not a good idea. I guess after about 10 hours of that, it was through. It gave a loud electronic squeal and poof. That was it. All I heard was the bass line coming from my speaker box in the trunk. I fried the audio output of the other channels. Oops. I knew too much Christmas music wasn't a good idea. Apparently, the old stereo agreed. If only I'd had some sort of warning before it was too late. I guess this Christmas I'll be saying farewell to the stereo. She has served me well. And now, she can rest.

The car performed amazingly well, once again. That's up and back to Idaho 3 times now without any trouble. She is a real trooper. She's never let me down. I bought a new engine for her and I'll be putting that in sometime in the near future, then she'll really rock and roll (look out).

I calculated the fuel mielage for the trip. 20.5 miles per gallon. Not bad for an old clunker.

For your gee whiz file: it takes 13 hours to get from Rexburg to Joseph City, and that's if you stop and have a sit-down lunch, which I highly recommend to anyone driving that far.

It feels so good to be home. I can't wait for all my siblings to get back into town. By that time, I hope to be over this blasted cold.

Arizona, I love you!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Must Write Now

Let me set the scene for you: Wednesday night, uhh, scratch that. Tuesday night (finals week is really messing with my brain). I sit nestled in the little comfy nook created by the recess under my elevated bed. It's where I do my best work, and my best thinking. If I had anything equivalent to a secret lair, this would be it. The world outside is bright with the illumination of a heavy falling snow: the perfect mixture of easy wind and downy flake. I probably use Frost lines to a fault, but for those of you who get it, I hope you're smiling. There ya go.

I am going to unload, because it's high time. The thought-minions are near the point of revolt, being overloaded with trivial thoughts. I must keep them happy. They've threatened to sabotage the entire operation of my mental flow. Oh, too late. School has done that already. Minions, do your worst. I'll write it out anyhow, just because I'll sleep better if I do.

I must say, I've really been impressed with Taco Bell's efforts in the way of sauces. I thrill when I see the variety now offered in those little bins next to the napkins and sporks. I confess, I haven't actually tried them all. I like the verde sauce so much that I haven't really felt the need to venture beyond it -for now.

Tonight's snowstorm really enhances the holiday mood. I peered down the main street in Rexburg and saw it in all its Christmasy splendor: the trees laced in bright twinkling white bulbs that glisten off the facets of a thousand little ice mirrors falling in silence; it's got its charm. I am so tempted to dash down the street yelling "Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!" But here's the thing: there is another charm at work in me. I saw a picture of an ocotillo plant in a desert scene today and the allure of that just made it all the harder to resist the urge to leave town tonight and skip out on the rest of finals. Ahh, Arizona -I pine for the sunshine in your friendly gaze.

I interrupt this program to say that my roommate's laugh from the living room is so boisterously ridiculous and obnoxious that I wonder every time whether it's sincere or forced. Put that in your gee-whiz file.

I've been so distracted this week. Really. I drove to donate plasma yesterday (that was only a day ago? It seems like at least three.) and afterward, I stopped in at the Subway just around the block from my apartment complex. I had a good restful lunch, read the local paper, did the crossword, and then got up, cleared the table, and walked home. I completely forgot that I had driven there, and I thought nothing of my car since I usually walk to and from Subway.

The following morning, I woke up early to go to the school and put the finishing touches on a project I was to present. I went to the parking lot, keys in hand, and my car ... was not there. I paused. I turned around and looked. Where was it? It took me a good three minutes to remember what had happened. I walked briskly to the Subway parking lot, hoping and praying that my car had not been towed away.

When I arrived, the manager of Subway had just arrived too. She was on the phone with the tow-truck driver. I was about to be towed. She canceled her request and hung up. She then told me "This is NOT an overnight parking lot." I explained that I realized that and how my lunch-time stop had led to my forgetting and my honest mistake. She proceeded to "wow" me with details of what the charges are for a tow and storage fees. She was thoroughly irritated. I told her I was sorry, and yet, though my experiences at their franchise have always been satisfactory, her current treatment had me re-thinking my stance. She had no sympathy for me. She is the parking lot queen. She takes pride in a good empty lot when she closes up shop. Anyone who dares defy her will be dealt the full measure of her fury. Your right hand will be severed at the wrist and and stapled to an old board above the restaurant door: "Parking violators, be ye warned". I find it so fascinating that someone could get so worked up over something that is fixed as easily as me driving away. The same lady has been known to call the tow-truck on people who stop in to use their restroom and don't buy anything. Parking is, after all, only for paying customers. I'm of the opinion that life is much to short to be so crotchety.

But what I want to point out about all this is that finals week has really got me distracted. I misplaced my car! How out of it do you have to be to misplace a few tons of steel?

My every instinct is telling me that I need to be headed South, right now. I know I need to stay and finish up my Calculus final on Thursday, but I am staring at the road, car keys in hand, (with a car this time), and glancing at the school. Then back at the road. Home never seemed so alluring. It is calling to me. This week can't pass fast enough for me. I normally like to make the most of each day and cherish it for all it's worth. But some weeks are just made to fast-forward. This one is a fast-forward week. I suppose it's worth it to stick around and see who wins the plasma center promotion drawing, just for kicks. Okay, school is important too.

Lately I've been just cruising through my free iBooks. I keep reading Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. I love them! I wish I'd discovered them earlier on because I just love how cleverly crafted they are. If you're wanting to try a classic, give one of the "adventures" a try from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Each chapter is a new case. I love it.

I'm determined to keep myself in check. I have the urge to add to my movie collection. There are so many good new flicks out! Some not-so-new, but just the same, I want them! Cloudy with a chance of meatballs, despicable me, the a-team, Control, ol' boy, control. Control, alt, delete. Okay, maybe that's a little extreme. Control. Control.

There you have it. From the midst of the pains of final exams, I present you with a gift from the heart of my mind, or the depth of my width, or the soul of my brain. Whatever. You know what I mean.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Let-Downs, Bumps, and Rises.

I want to tell you about the past two days.
Do you mind just listening? It's a lot of craziness all mixed into 48 hours.

Enough lolly-gagging. Here we go:

Yesterday, I was slated to present my final project in a class. I worked my tail off burning the midnight oil making sure I got things ready. I wasn't completely satisfied, but I was ready to present it regardless. As the presentations proceeded, we ran short on time, so I was bumped 'til Tuesday for presentation. I was glad for it because that gives me a weekend to really fine-tune things.

I had a scheduled Calculus exam that day. I asked my teacher if she would let me take it the next morning so that I could participate in the undergraduate research conference on campus. She said yes. Big burden off my back. Whew.

I ran from class to the Romney building for a seminar that turned out to be spectacularly mediocre. More of a recruiting meeting for ISU, minus the main speaker.

Then I turned my attention to the student research conference. I'd already prepared a poster and presented my findings at the Geological Society of America National conference in Denver this semester, so entering this conference was only a matter of signing up and hanging my poster.

This was a great experience. At GSA, I had to defend my statements to professionals. At our school, I had to creatively tailor my presentation to suit a non-geology crowd. I loved it. It went really well. I knew they had an awards ceremony after the conference sessions; what I didn't know is that there were cash prizes. I won 2nd place overall in my poster session for the physical sciences. (It's a major award! I won it!) That will help pay for my trip back to the sunny, beautiful desert I call home.

Yesterday, gone. Today, here it is:
-woke up
-donated plasma
-took my 3-hour calc. exam
-went to sound-checks for the Best Of show
-went to the fitness center
-performed in the show

It was one of those full of exciting/stressful events days. I was most excited about the Best Of show. Our medley was sounding great, we were pumped up and excited and confident. Then, the sound technicians stepped in. We stepped out onto the stage, the crowd roared. We started the medley with a solo from Beauty and the Beast. Her mic was muted through the first phrase. Throughout our act, our microphones were completely sporadic. Muted, active, live, dead. And no matter how great of a job we did performing, nobody could really hear it. They got the gist of the act, but not the refined finish we'd worked so hard to achieve.

After a performance, our group is usually on a high. The high I'd been anticipating all day was replaced with a huge let-down. I was frustrated. I probably will be for a good while. But that's life. I think what bothers me the most is that our sound-tech in charge of the show was really rude and impatient with us at our sound checks, and then he didn't save the settings for our act into the show program. The poor sound tech at the board was left to handle the catastrophe. If he would've been nice, I would feel less inclined to blame. But this guy was a jerk to us and rushed us through sound checks like we were wasting his time.

Ugh, whatever. There. Now you know all about that event. I want to look back on my time with this group happily. We've had some amazingly fun times together. I've made some great friends and done great things with them. It's kind of sad to end our semester with that tone.

So after the show, I went to Taco Bell with some friends then to the cheap theaters. That is the recipe for taking one's mind off pain. Some people choose alcohol. I choose Chalupas and cinematography.

I end my day here, ready to lay down and not wake up until late Saturday morning. In the light of morning, I can view all of today's craziness in a fresh perspective. And for that, I'm happy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

When You Wish Upon a Star

We each have things we want to do in life. One I've always dreamed of doing is singing in a fun A'Capella group. This semester, that opportunity came. Last night, our group My A'Capella performed in a show on campus called Magic Moments. It's a Disney-themed show that students audition for. Well, it was a lot of fun. We collectively arranged parts for a medley of Disney songs (and none of us are music majors, I note).

It was a blast. I was a little shaky in front of a huge crowd. I haven't had to do anything quite like that since Swing Choir back, well the turn of the millenium.
Sounds so distant, and yet, I remember it like it was yesterday. Wow, that last line sounds a lot like Ebenezer Scrooge reflecting on the shadows of the past.

The group may have another opportunity to perform our medley. The talent board puts on a Best Of Show where all the top-voted acts from shows on campus combine to put on one heck of a show. Judging by the audience reaction, we've got a good chance of making it. I don't want to jump the gun and tell you it's for sure, but I have it from a good source that when the ballots were counted, our group had twice the votes of the second-place act.

If we do make it, I'll have my friends (who always have front-row seats) take a good quality video. With one performance under our belts, I think the on-stage jitters are pretty well worked out.

The next few weeks of school are going to be pretty hectic. But I have a great creative outlet, and that is singing. I love this group. I only wish we had more time to perform together!

So I say this: If you have a dream, if you have a talent you're dying to express, step out onto the stage. Embrace the adrenaline rush. Don't just wish upon a star. Be the star you dream of being, no matter how small it seems. Share your talents. I can't guarantee it will bring you fame, glory, or fortune. But it will help bring out the very best in you. Your life will be richer. That I can guarantee.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving here was great. I wasn't with my family, but it was still a memorable and fun time. Thank you, Embree family, for letting me join your family for the day. It was all snowy and cold. We had dinner out in Rigby at Bro. Embree's dad's place. It's tucked away in trees and so we literally went over the river and through the woods to get there. It was great. It felt like the holidays had really begun.
I made one of the Pepperidge Farms stuffing recipes that my mom makes. It's my favorite. It has pecans and craisins in it. It's probably the best thing on the table at Thanksgiving.

And, thanks to my Aunt Cat, I was able to bake up some buttermilk pies! Just look at that scrumptious thing.

There's no place like home for the holidays, it's true. I can't wait to get through these next few weeks and head south. To Arizona!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Easy Wind and Downy Flake

I love this little house. It's hard to believe it's in town, it looks so snug and tucked away, you'd think you were out over the river and through the woods.

Yesterday, it snowed a lot. Today, it snowed even more.
I've decided that walking will be the way to get around. As confident as I am in my own winter driving skills, I have no control over the other people on the roads.

Let me tell you about my day. I went to the grocery store. The roads were slick, but I managed pretty well. I began the process of making Buttermilk pies (thanks to my aunt Cat for the recipe!). Mid-way into the mixing, I realize that I forgot to get lemon juice. I had to go back to the store. I braved the roads once more.

The pies turned out great! They could only have been better with home-made crust. I'm not even going to attempt that. I'm not that domestic.

I read a bit of Hunger Games (I'm loving it so far), did a bit of housework, and then thought I might venture out and catch a flik. So out I went. I'd seen the previews for Skyline and it looked intriguing enough. I went to watch it. I was the only person in the theater ...until the previews started. A late-comer came into the theater with a large popcorn and soda. He looked for a place to sit. He had his choice of hundreds of seats. He chose a seat one away from me. He started to chat with me. He offered me some popcorn. I politely declined. I was thinking, what in the world?

Not only am I a little taken back by the casual notions of friendship from a stranger, but anyone who knows me know that movie time is movie time. It's not chat or play or anything else time. I didn't want to seem anti-social, but who was this guy? Who knows. I'll leave it at that.

Oh, and the movie was dumb. I especially hated the ending. Totally unbelievable and stupid.

When I emerged from the theater with my "friend", I could see that a full-on blizzard was underway. This snow was the big sparkly clusters of flakes, the kind of snow that catches the glimmer of light and sparkles as you pass by. It's actually a very pretty scene, until you get on the road. I made it home safe, but I will say this: driving in the snow makes me more anxious than anything else on earth. Part of that may be that I still have lingering memories of a hellish 21-hour trip two years ago.

Now I'm in the mood for getting warm, kicking back, and maybe playing some Halo. And then maybe some more Hunger Games. And then bed. (These were pictures from last night)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

There's no better picture to depict the scene outside my door right now. Okay, so there aren't any horses or sleighs, but other than that, it's a perfect likeness.

We're in the middle of one of those storms that's determined to keep snowing. I keep looking out the window to see if it might have stopped, and so far, it hasn't.

So what's a guy to do? Well, he can blog about it. And then he could get bundled up and take a walk out in it, pondering the words of Frost's poetry. He could return home to thaw out to a cup of his sister's home-made cocoa mix. He could watch a festive movie as well since, although it's not quite time for it, the weather is twisting my arm.

Today, our ward was in charge of providing a sacrament meeting service for the residents of the local assisted-living home. What a neat experience. You could sense the grateful attitude of the people there. They were so glad to have a sacrament meeting and to have some folks come visit with them afterward. It felt great to visit with them. It made this cold day seem that much warmer.

I spent some of my weekend at the movies. I saw Unstoppable and, you guessed it -the new Harry Potter movie. I loved them both. I really want to see Morning Glory and Skyline. Maybe this week.

I can't believe how fast the end of the semester is coming. I've decided to get a head-start on a few things before the inevitable load drops on me like the falling snow. I'll start packing up some of the stuff I won't need in the next few weeks. I'll review my Calculus in preparation for the final exam. I'll work on some other class projects. I'll get the Dart ready for the big trip back home. I get excited and nervous all at the same time thinking of that: excited because I'll be home for Christmas, nervous because I'm witnessing again, first-hand, the Idaho weather's potential for icing things up. I suppose I can pack the car and play it safe, find a place to stay for a night or two if I have to until the roads are good. Let's just hope that I won't have to and that the roads are good enough for long enough to let me leave. I shudder at the thought of another trip like the December of 2008.
Are you all ready for Thanksgiving? I am. I'll be spending it with my Communication teacher's family. I'll be calling home that afternoon. I can't wait!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Thursday night, I started a batch of bread in the bread machine. My parents let me borrow their bread maker to use at school and I've loved it. One of my favorite parts is the smell of the bread when it's done baking.

Although this time, I was chatting with a friend as I measured ingredients into the pan. I am almost completely sure that I only put 1 cup of water in, when it should've been a cup and a half.

The result was a lumpy aggregate of dough baked into a crusty wad. It still smelled wonderful, so it was worth it. I had to sample the things before discarding it completely. Not bad, but there's no way to serve that sort of thing in a clean manner. I couldn't slice it to make a sandwich or anything.

But that's life. I'll make a new loaf, and this time I won't get distracted as I measure out the ingredients.

Let me tell you about my new addiction. I love iBooks. I have a huge library of classics that I carry with me everywhere I go. This means that any time I have a spare minute, I can get lost in the pages of a classic. It's so refreshing to do some good reading on a regular basis. And all my downloads so far have been free. I'm in heaven.

A New Look

No, I didn't shave my head.
After all these months of having the same blog template (the one I created that allowed me to upload my own photo for a background), I've decided to upgrade. The selection of blog templates online has grown considerably since I last checked, and I'm happy to report that I've found one that I love. I hope you like it too. The background is bound to change with the seasons (I love that part. It's a great creative outlet for me) but the style will remain constant.

I guess I won't be heading to Canada for the Thanksgiving Break. The family I was going to stay with decided to leave town that week. So I'll be here in Rexburg. If you want to come visit me, that would be lovely! You know you want to.

My A'capella (the group I'm in) is going to be auditioning for the on-campus Disney-themed show called "Magic Moments". We've come up with a sweet Disney medley that's really fun. I can't wait to do it. I love being able to sing again!

That about does it for now.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Very Scary Night

I can't get enough of Halloween. I get burned out on other holidays pretty quick, but I just have so much fun with Halloween that I want it to last longer. Last year, me and my roommate Michael had what we called "Halloween: Round Two". It's a great idea. All the Halloween stuff goes on clearance and you can really make the most of the holiday.

A few of my friends got so busy that they didn't have time to carve their pumpkins. So tonight, we just might. And this makes me grin.
I'll tell the story of my Halloween this year through pictures. Ready?
We went to a Haunted Straw Maze out in a little town called Archer.

We also went to the Haunted Mill. It's my favorite Haunted attraction by far.

We also tried a new Haunted Attraction called "The Haunts of Hidden Hollow". It's out by St. Anthony and I really liked it a lot. It's all outdoors and includes a Haunted Hay ride. I'm thinking this is something we could do in Joseph City. Anything involving a tractor, I think my dad would go for it. We could combine it with a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and have a great time. Our family possesses all the necessary talents and farm equipment. I really think we should do it! People in the area would love it!

Here's my costume. I'm particularly proud of it. And HERE I give credit to my sister. Hey Eash! Remember the cloak you helped me construct? That's it. It's brilliant. Scared the SOCKS off some poor girls. Heh-heh.

And of course, we had a few Ghost Adventures of our own in a little ghost town called "Herbert".

(I added that ghostly woman in photoshop)

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Night of Fright Approaches

Excitement is in the air. (Feel it Kronk,...)
Halloween falls on Sunday. So what? Let the rest of the weekend be declared a time of celebration galore!

I won't be in Rexburg for Halloween. I'm leaving tomorrow morning for the GSA (Geological Society of America) conference in Denver. I'm presenting my senior research, and that's a frightening enough event for me. Not really. I feel pretty confident in my preparation.

Can I share something with you? It's truly tragic. I got an email from our apartment manager earlier this week. I know that in the past, Rexburg Housing has been really fussy about the removal of our pumpkins from our porch prior to November 1st. In fact, if you didn't remove your pumpkin, they threatened to have a garbage removal service come by and that you would be charged $30 dollars for the removal fee. Hardly what I call a friendly request, but I wasn't too put out.
This time around, our manager informed us that we're to remove our pumpkins from our porch no later than Friday, October 29th.
Honestly. Really? Honestly?
I'm afraid so. This is no trick, nor is it a treat.

I admit that I do have a bias. I LOVE pumpkins! I really really do. It's almost scary how passionate I am about a dang piece of produce. But they are so big and bulky and unique and colorful and texturally diverse and seasonal! They come in the fall and they just make the season seem so much more festive. I've always felt this way, and the feeling grows stronger each passing year.

But this demand cut me deeper than my bias-level. This demand shouted "They've got no RIGHT!" This is America! It's the breeding ground of the modern-day celebration of Halloween! It's the setting for Washington Irving's classic tale of the Headless Horseman who lobs a flaming jack-o-lantern at the poor gangly Icabod!
Every American has, what do they call 'em ..."Inalienable rights". I think the right to display a jack-o-lantern on your porch in Halloween night falls in that category.
I'm all fired up. I have a notion to ditch my trip to Denver and spend the weekend dressed in my spooky costume, sitting on my porch, pumpkin in lap, protesting the whole removal scandal. What could they say?
"I'm sorry, but we have to take this."
"This is my personal property. It's my pumpkin. If you take it, I'll see you in court."
"I'm sorry sir, Rexburg Housing has a policy...."
"I too have a policy and it's called my pumpkin is my pumpkin and if you want it, you'll have to pry it from my cold lifeless fingers (which means so much more coming from someone dressed as a haunted-skeleton henchman ...cold ...lifeless)
I replied to the email and explained to my manager that, while I knew she wasn't the one who made the policy, I'd like the ones who did to know that tenants aren't pleased.
I submit that all of ya, every last ONE 'ya, has the right to keep and bear pumpkins!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Quote I Love

"Any man who has lived harmoniously and finished a life successfully with one wife has done well and is to be commended; but here we have one who goes him five times better!" Joseph W. Smith, son of Jesse N. Smith, in reference to his father

We had Family Home Evening at my bishop's house. He was talking about family history, and just got me thinking ...and searching.

Friday, October 22, 2010

But It's FUNNY!

I hear this a lot.
I can understand the need for a good laugh.
I dearly love to laugh.

However, laughter was never sufficient to justify other atrocities. I'll explain.
I have almost no tolerance for some TV shows. Let me list them for you.

The Family Guy
South Park

There are others, but those are the prime examples. All other elements aside for a moment, I'd like to focus on two: humor and vulgarity.
Each of these shows have elements of both, with vulgarity far outweighing the humor. The sole justification for watching these shows is always humor.

You do realize that you're getting the impact of all of the other elements of the show too, right? You know that crummy feeling you have after watching that kind of show? You know the one -the opposite of uplifted. Don't try to deny it. You may have a few laughs to relish, but is it worth it?

It's like that with most stupid-to-do things. Cigarettes have a nicotine rush. Does that make the rest of the effects good? Both science and experience say no.

I've had people try and tell me about "this funny part of an episode", and they don't understand when I stop them and politely refuse.
"But it's FUNNY!"

You'll have to come up with something better than that. I can see right past it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I knew I'd be excited for it. You knew I'd be excited for it, 'cuz I told ya I would be. The flowers are wilting, their petals are fading, but I've got all the wonderful sensations of fall to compensate for the loss.

I've been itching to post these photos, and now the time has come. Or, as Albert's mother would say, "The time we knew would come at last, has come at last." Anyways...
I went back to the Pumpkin patch in Idaho Falls this year. And me in a pumpkin patch is very much like a kid in a candy store. No joke. Enjoy the photos, and Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Are You In?

Growing up, I remember hearing people reference the scripture about being "lukewarm". It's Revelation 3:16. It says, "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will [spew] thee out of my mouth."

At the time, my concept of lukewarm was non-existent and I remember asking my Mom about the meaning of lukewarm and actually going to the kitchen faucet where she demonstrated what temperature lukewarm was, or close enough to be within a 0.01 degree error margin, for scientific purposes.

While I don't pretend to fully understand the meaning of all scriptural verse, this one says exactly what I've been feeling lately.

I'm not peeved, I just notice things that I dislike here and there, and then you get to hear about it.

Examples: Somebody, a leader or instructor, needs a head count. "How many of you need a copy of the syllabus?"

Slowly, limp and sagging limbs extend barely to within visible sight.

Why? This happens without fail in every group I've ever been in. And these aren't old feeble geezers (no offense intended), these are young adults.

I refuse to believe that they don't have the energy required to fully extend their arm and raise it into position above their head.
If you're raising your arm half-way, are you half-way committing? Does that mean you don't really need a copy of the syllabus, but it would be convenient?
Are you afraid of calling attention to yourself? Are you timid? Are you one of those rascals that loves to make the head-count difficult?

Without fail, this reminds me of another biblical event, when Moses had to have his arms propped up to ensure the victory of the Israelites. You know the story? Do the limp-armed people need someone to "lift up the arms that hang down"?

Compare this to a group of Kindergarten children. When they raise their hand, it's up high. It's sometimes even waving enthusiastically. It's visible to everyone in the room. What changes between then and now? There are the obvious answers, but honestly, think about that.

So here is my challenge: if you raise your hand, raise it high. Go all in. Refuse to go feeble and flimsy. Let this also be applied to commitment in all other aspects of life.

One thing I can't stand is people backing out or completely neglecting their commitments. I would rather have someone say that they are not going to do something than to say they will with the intent of not following through. I think some people say they'll do something just to please somebody momentarily. This just won't do.

I try to guard my own actions and make sure that I'm never semi-committed. That's why sometimes I'll just say no. It may come across as blunt or unpleasant, but that's not intentional. I just have to be true. Know what I mean?

As Ben Bailey says, "So what do you say -are you in?"

Friday, October 8, 2010

As of Late

I need to write a post. I just do.
Not that anything incredible has happened in my life, but some fun things, definitely.
And there are bits and pieces of things that I have up there in my head just itching at me, begging for me to release them on the page. So here we go:

Remember when I posted on July 5th about my Fall semester plans?

Well, it was fun to review that. I am rooming with my friend Tyler. That's been fun.

I didn't switch complexes, since my contract here at Somerset had one semester to go still.

I'm not managing a talent event, since the one I wanted to manage was canceled.

I am going to audition for "Ma A'Capella" on Tuesday! Can I tell you how thrilled I am? I love singing fun stuff like this, and now's my chance.

It's funny how we can plan things out all we want, and then reality steps in and adjusts our plans for us. That's part of the thrill of life.

Now for something serendipitous. I hesitate to tell it, and I'll tell you why after I tell you. I won an iPod Touch. I won it in a drawing at the plasma center. Anyone who donated 8 times in September was entered into a drawing, and I won.
How sweet is that? Well, it's very sweet ...for me. I soon realized that only my closest friends wanted to hear the good news. Everyone else seemed irked that I was bragging to them that I had won something cool and reminding them that they never win things.

I normally don't. Nobody normally does. But I like to think that donating plasma ups my chances. This month the promotion is a 32" flat-screen TV. I'll donate 8 times. I'll be entered to win. I won't win. I just won't, you watch. But I'll be very happy for the person who does! Is that only because I know what it's like to win? I don't think so.

Switching gears. I don't know exactly what I want to be this Halloween. I hate the fact that I have to define what I am. I would like to just dress up as something scary without putting a name to it.

But I understand why we have to do that. People want to organize their perceptions into categories. If you have some label like "zombie" or "witch" or "mummy", people know what to do with it. They can go to the file directory in their brain under the "costumes" label and look it up, and find it there and they know all about that thing, and they add you to their little file and feel all happy and comfortable and then they smile about their mental organizational skills. HOWEVER, if you don't fit their perceptual schema, if they don't have a label to put to your costume, or if it's too vague or unfamiliar, like "ghoul" or "spook", they aren't comfortable because they've got some file dangling without a place to put it. They can't wrap their mind around the idea without a category and so they have a hard time perceiving what they think you are. Maybe I should just dress scary and call my costume "something scary". Surely they've got a file for that.

I have a fear that this next segment will be taken the wrong way. So, I have a request: PLEASE don't take this the wrong way. Just listen.

I am not really a phone person. I HATE trying to converse with people on the phone. I really, really, really do hate it. It's not that I hate keeping in touch, or chatting, or all the great things that can be done in a phone conversation. I love those things. I'm not some miser, some old hermit that shuns human interaction and tries to shut out the outside world. I just don't care much for that medium of communication.

Now, don't take it the wrong way. I don't want anybody to think, "Oh, I shouldn't call him because he hates that." Please, still call, and call often. I love hearing from you. But here's the thing: don't expect me to lead the conversation. If I've got things to say, I'll say them. If I don't, I won't. Don't take that to mean that I'm in a bad mood, or don't want to talk. It means that I hear your voice in a little machine and it's not really you in person and I don't carry on a conversation well with a little machine that is saying your words. Some people have a real art of phone-chat and I just don't.

I've found that I tend to be more business-like on the phone. Let's say whatever it is we need to say so that we can get this over with and get back to the real life that's in front of our eyes.

Also, I think I feel more comfortable expressing myself in person or on the page. That's probably the main reason why I don't prefer the phone. So now you know how I feel about that.

Switching gears again: Know what I did the other night? I was really feeling the fall mood, so I stayed up late reading scary stories online with a mulled-cider scented candle burning next to me on my desk. Then I watched some of the Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on YouTube. And then I found a version of the same story made for TV in the 80s starring Jeff Goldblum as Icabod Crane. Genius casting for that role, not-so-genius on any other aspect of the production. But it was worth a look, just to see Jeff Goldblum in that role. Then I looked up the actual story of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on the Online Literature Network (which I have an admitted-addiction to) and read until I couldn't hold my eyes open any longer.

That's all. That's all, until I think of something better to write. And I will. I promise.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's HERE!!!

The Mulled Cider candle is burning, filling the room with the scent of apple harvest.

The afternoon breeze tickles the tree branches and they drop their little pieces of gold into the street to be trodden on and swept by the rush of cars. Cars on the way to pick pumpkins, to shop for costumes, heading to a haunted house, a straw maze, or hay ride.

It's the perfect time of year for scary movies and ghost stories.

It's Fall. It's October. I'm already scheming what I'm going to create with my pumpkin this year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Great Quote

I read this the other day and loved it.

A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful.
To do His supreme work of grace within you I will take from your heart everything you love most. Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most precious treasures used to be.

-A.W. Tozer

I don't know who A.W. Tozer is. I think he was a pastor of a church somewhere but I really liked this quote and thought I'd share it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hang On!

I snapped this photo on the way home from class on Friday. I had to. The sun was setting and the flowers were catching the light just perfectly and I know that it won't be long before there are no more flowers or green grass.

So I'm hanging on. Not that I oppose the change.
I had a teacher ask what my favorite season was. I had to say, "The current one". I've always gotten a thrill from enjoying the change in seasons. Right now, I'm really enjoying every good thing summer has to offer, but when fall hits, I know I'll be equally as excited.

I'm getting that fall-ish feeling. I like the crisp night air. It's not cold enough yet to make the tip of your nose uncomfortable, but just cold enough that the night breeze blowing through your window makes you pull your blankets tight around you. I love that.

It makes me think of apples and cider and the rustle of leaves flying in the wind. It reminds me that Halloween is coming with Haunted houses, pumpkins, and scary stories. So I'll keep this picture of summer's blooms close by for now. And when Fall is here, I know I'll be ready.


I got a text from my Bishop this morning. I love that he texts. 15 minutes later, I was in his office talking about a new calling. I'm the new Ward Mission Leader.

I'm not stressed by this call. I was just released as the Ward Mission Leader in my last ward, and I had a great experience with it. It's an exciting calling.

The most FAQ (frequently asked question) I get when I mention my calling is this:
"What does the ward mission leader do in Rexburg?"

We have precisely three non-LDS students among the thousands that attend our school. So in this setting, the ward mission leader's job is a little different.

My first priority is to help our future missionaries to prepare to serve missions. There are a lot of future missionaries in the wards here, so that means having an awesome mission prep class during the Sunday School block of choych (my roommate started pronouncing "church" that way, and it's kind of stuck). We also try to get the future missionaries out teaching. They prepare a lesson to teach, make an appointment with some ward members, and then go teach.

The other major part of the calling is seeking referrals. People can still give referrals of people they know even if they don't live in Rexburg. So it's my job to handle any referrals and send them to choych headquarters to be directed to their appropriate missions.

So that's that. I love being involved in the mission prep because it gets me thinking back to my mission and I get to relive some of those memories.

Now, I want to tell you about the coolest free apps I just got for my iPod touch.
The LDS scriptures. The Gospel Principles Manual. The LDS Hymns. The Primary Children's songbook. And I'm going to look for the Preach My Gospel manual app, given my new calling.

I also got a free app called Planets that shows a 3-D view of constellations and planets in the sky at your current location. It is AWESOME.

While I'm mentioning apps, I also got a movie Trivia one that keeps me entertained. I know that's not a Sunday themed app, (even the Planets app has to do with God's creations) but I could use it in an activity at FHE. So, there ya go.

This is really shaping up to be an awesome semester.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'm using my new iPod touch to compose this blog post.
I bought it used from my roommate. I've never had anything more
than an iPod Shuffle so this upgrade is nice.

I'll have to post pictures from my computer, only because I haven't loaded
any photos to my iPod yet.

Typing this on a touch-screen is a lot more tedious
than just using my computer, but the fact that I'm able to
do it this way is a novelty. I have come to the conclusion
that I have some fat thumbs.

I have something to report. It's somewhat sad. I sold both
my keyboard and my ukulele. I really just need to down-size
all my portable property. It's really a life-long cycle, getting rid of junk.
I guess that's the whole reason for yard sales.

My iPod is so much easier to transport than my musical instruments.
I think it was a good exchange.

I don't think I told you about the bear wallpaper.
Did I? I don't think so. Whether I did or not, this will
give me a chance to share the pictures.
There was this atrocious wallpaper trim on my kitchen wall when I moved in here. Thanks to the skills I learned working for my Grandma, I knew how to remove it. So I did. White bare walls look so much better than ghetto bear walls.
Behind the larger bear trim was a smaller trim. With bears. (remember how I hate bears?)