Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How does your garden grow?

A couple of weeks ago Kendall helped me plant flowers on my back patio. It was a most delightful Saturday activity--I've never seen anyone so thorough with clearing out old dirt--he's a regular gardener. Ibut it felt so good to sift and plan and plant each box. I had a bunch of seed packets that we planted, along with the bean hyacinths that GranNomi sent from her plants in Missouri. Unfortunately we did not keep track of which seeds went in with which nursery flowers, so I have no idea what will come up where. Also unfortunate is the fact that my camera purchase came after the fact, so I'll have to document their growth when I get back home. I'm dying to see if my lilies have bloomed out front--they were on the cusp when I left Virginia last week. One more thing to look forward to when I get home next week!

Yesterday Mom, GranNomi, and I planted flowers--a most delightful day. The weather was perfect and the sun felt great after a rainy Memorial Day. I loved getting my hands dirty and uprooting different flowers for new combinations.
I learned to appreciate color, height, and variety in flower pots from my mother. However, she and I disagree over groupings of color. I've been drawn to bright splatterings of color lately, and she did NOT want me to combine her nasturtiums, geraniums, and these other purple and cambridge blue flowers. They were the only ones left, and when Mom got tired and went inside, I just put them all together with some long-stemmed grass in the last pot. I just know that will be the most beautiful pot, and she'll see it every day long after I've gone home and wish I had done them all that way...

We had lunch outside after working all morning. Delightful.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


So in all my efforts to visually capture my life with my new (!) camera, as I uploaded my photos to my laptop, I inadvertently deleted everything. Oh well... lessons learned... what can you do?!? I have no visual record of my birthday party and all my great friends there, or of the morning I spent dancing to Hairspray with cute study-abroad-bunkmate-Laurie's girls, or hanging out with mission-companion-Kim and her kids, all in Sacramento, or of my friends at the Mormon History Association conference, or of the great shots Janiece got of our Sunday devotional in a little old nineteenth-century church in Coloma, California, or, my favorite, Elder Marlin K. Jensen with a couple of old-timer gold-diggers. You'll just have to imagine.

But it's really been a great first week as a 34-year-old. I had a great time at my conference last weekend and got some good feedback for my paper. I think it finally felt like the breakthrough I've needed for the direction of my dissertation. Not to mention the fact that a few editors expressed interest in publishing my paper, and several people from BYU and from the LDS Church History Department expressed great interest in me coming to work for them one day. As Richard Oman put it, I'm really lacking in international experience and I really need to study up on African art. I'll see what I can do about that...

Monday, May 19, 2008


Today is my birthday. Today I hit the big 3-4. And I must say I'm proud of it. I've earned every single one of those years. Sure I've spent some time in the brier patch and I've had my share of unfortunate haircuts, but all in all, I must say it's been a pretty darn good life. I've had some pretty cool experiences and a lot of really grand friends and I've seen some incredible sights on my trips around the block.

I really think this may be my best year yet. I have some great opportunities ahead of me and I'm determined to make the best of them--as much as they stretch my brain and pull at my deepest heart and really enlarge me (and I'm not just talking about the circumference of my thighs after I eat tonight!). I am going into my 34th year because I want to live deliberately. I want to live deeply and suck all the marrow out of life (thank you, Henry David Thoreau). Mark my word, I am going to do something extraordinary (thank you, Emma Smith).

So to celebrate, I'm going to get a pedicure, go to dinner with Kendall at Carlyle (!), and even buy a new digital camera. How do you feel about that, all my blogger friends? I'll actually document this new 34-me. Aren't you excited?!?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pieces and Piecing and Peace

Or, welcome to the end of the semester. That's right, friends, I just turned in my last paper and can officially say goodbye to the semester that I knew from the get-go was going to do it's best to do me in. Between reading four books a week on 20th-century history, to writing a chapter of a dissertation that I'm still not sure about, to a class on American women's religious history with just me and my professor (so I really had to know what I'd read and what I thought about it--no skimping here!), I did it. I finished. I did IT in. And the best news is that I only one more class left IN ALL MY PhD CAREER. (and my orals and my dissertation)

So here are some things I've learned this semester:

  • "Read" is a loose term. It's all about really knowing the main idea, the conclusion, and the line of argument. And in all reality, you can figure that out within an hour, even if it's a 400-pager. I promise--this really is empowering information.
  • It's all about making a plan--a manageable plan. I accomplished my big paper by biting it off in chunks. Each piece was so much more manageable than the whole darn thing. And I think it even might be a pretty good paper.
  • Sleep can go a long way. I'm even willing to admit that sleep may be more important than reading the same page over and over and over again. And in the battle between whether to be tired while on a really good allergy medication or to be awake with a sinus infection, I choose the meds. Bring on the Zyrtec. And bring on the sleep.
  • Saturday is a special day. I have worked and read and edited and written on the metro, in line, on the phone, even at work when things got slow, and even in the car at stoplights. And I've had some great Saturdays to clear my head, planting flowers, at the zoo, dancing like an African, watching American Idol. My point is, you need balance. Thank goodness for distractions. And really great people who are great distractions.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the quilt exchange I've been working on with a bunch of friends. Well we finally got together and exchanged our blocks. Now that I'm done with papers and reading, it's all about figuring out how to piece together my pieces... just the same way I'm now trying to figure out how the pieces of my post-Spring 2008 semester life will all fit together. I've laid things out on the floor and moved things around, trying to find just the right mix of colors and patterns and textures. Where will my white spaces go? What about the borders? If only I could manage my life and its excitement the same way I could piece together a paper or a quilt...