Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Let's Have Snow (and mistletoe!)

New! and improved! pictures added! (much more dramatic than before!)

I must say in all honesty that I mocked the forecast. One thing that I love about the East Coast is the morbid fear of snow and the quick effort to shut down. Last weekend the prediction was for two feet of snow on Friday night through Saturday and into the wee hours of Sunday. My friend received a text from her airline canceling her Saturday afternoon flight, even before a snowflake appeared. (She subsequently received several other messages, each pushing the rescheduled flight back until she flew out Monday morning!)
After a graduate student end-of-semester obligatory happy hour (gotta love free diet Coke!), and a quick trip to JoAnn's for some Christmas sewing material and to Trader Joe's for my favorite seasonal candy cane Joe-Joes and chocolate-covered cranberries, the flakes started to dance. Nothing in my mind to warrant the snow plows at the ready at the mixing bowl of 495 and 395. I laughed.

In the parking lot that had been plowed that morning...

I also laughed at Alicia's traditional hors d'oeuvres party. People came in covered in snow and threatened to leave early to make it home. East Coast pansies, I said. But then when I drove home, the roads were quickly icing up under the accumulating snow.

Saturday morning my roommate was all set to move. I popped out of bed, made muffins for the angel movers from church, and then tried to problem shoot with her rapidly declining party of movers. She went out to shovel the walk (the first time that California girl had ever shoveled!). We rolled back the carpet. To no avail. The snow was winning.

And so I let the snow win. I surrendered. And LOVED it. Later in the afternoon, Marni and I trudged through two feet of snow across the street to the grocery store. The bare shelves--no milk and no bread whatsoever!)--resembled a Soviet-era market. On the way home, we stopped at James and Lauren's house for a Christmas party. Too bad with the complete lack of snow plows, the only people to attend were those locals in the neighborhood. Better for us--more ham and rolls to go around!

Saturday night I played games with the girls down the street. Church was canceled. (Note: I don't think church was ever canceled the whole lifetime I lived in Utah with the Greatest Snow on Earth. No complaints from this girl!). By Sunday morning the storm had stopped but had left the most snow this region has seen in 100 years. We took turns digging each other's cars out of the snow banks (up to the windows!), settled in for some hot soup, and sang Christmas carols.

Pure delight.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thy Leaves are So Unchanging

There's something about a Christmas tree. I think it's the smell, the promise of a green that remains constant throughout the changing seasons, the opportunity to adorn the branches with light and symbols of the season, and the excitement of celebration. I love the line from the famous song: "O Christmas tree! You fill my heart with music."

I've had such fun with Christmas trees over the years.

One of my favorite things about being in London for study abroad was experiencing all the Christmas festivities. We went one wintery Sunday evening to Trafalgar Square for the lighting of the Christmas tree and witnessed protesters from Norway, where the tree had originated. We didn't let that hamper our BYU Christmas spirit... we had our own It's an Emily Christensen Christmas special and danced to Yahoo Dooray around the tree in the parlor. Anyone have a picture of that?!?

I remember one year living at the Riviera in Provo. We had a delightful roommate, Tanya, who kept her bike in the living room corner and NEVER rode it. Not even once. So one late night, Tammy and Jamie and I made it into a Christmas tree. We hung it from the ceiling hook in the corner and wrapped it in fake evergreen boughs from my mom's attic. Then we decorated it. If ANYONE has a picture of this, PLEASE send it.

Then, of course, my Christmas in Italy. We found this little teensy bitty tree tucked away in the closet and brought it out into our beautiful Palermo home, with torn wallpaper and disgusting furniture and cockroaches and running water only every other day or so. We decorated it with ornaments Mom and Barbara made at Thanksgiving and mailed to Sicily--can you believe they made it in time for Christmas with the Italian postal system? We also found one of those Primary paper nativity scenes and an Italian Libro di Mormon to complete the decor. I loved that little tree. I loved that Christmas and the memory of the African branch Christmas party and drunk Italians singing "They Say This Is Christmas" to us because it was the only Christmas song in English they knew. Oh and the food! (the exclamation is NOT for the panettone pictured here).

Yes, my sweet mother sent me that big, comfy knit red dress for Christmas. And can you believe those shoes I'm wearing? I'm SO 1990s sister missionary...

The next year I had just returned from my mission. I came home to a crazy Christmas--divorced parents, three cousins killed in a car accident on the way home from my homecoming, not to mention the crazy transition of returning home from the mission, feeling awkward, fat, white, and between two worlds. We got a Christmas tree that year but never decorated it. Instead we went to Disneyland and sat in the sun.

When I moved to New York City with my three suitcases of all my worldly possessions and living on the tightest student loan budget, I didn't know how Christmas would shake out. My good friends shipped me my little artificial Christmas tree, and Becky and D'Arcy and I decorated it with cheap lights from Rite Aid. We made ornaments out of dried apples and oranges and strung popcorn and cranberries. It was our cheapie Harlem Christmas tree and we loved the light and excitement it brought to our little apartment.

As I've lived in the East, I've come to love the big Christmas trees set up around town. Of course the tree at Rockefeller Plaza in NYC. A couple of years ago I loved a date night to the National Christmas tree on the ellipse, complete with a visit to the designer Christmas trees in the Georgetown Plaza hotel, with my boyfriend pretending to be interested in purchasing a couple of them and making arrangements to come back and pick them up. It was great fun!

For some reason, this year I just couldn't make do with my little artificial Christmas tree. I'm not going home for Christmas and what with a lot of crazy changes around this little house, I needed the real deal. So Ivy and I ventured out to Home Depot after Thanksgiving and got our little Douglas Fir pictured above. Even better was the little red purse ornament my GranNomi sent for "your first Christmas away from home."

I love walking in the door, dusting off my snowy or leafy feet, and taking in a whiff of the real deal evergreen scent. I love plugging in and basking in the light of the tree. I love the constant green and the music that it brings as I forge forward.

For every year the Christmas tree
Brings to us both joy and glee.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Cookies from Me this Year!

Count yourselves lucky. No cookies from me this year. None with glass shards in them.

On Tuesday I made cookies for the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Old Dominion Camp Christmas cookie exchange. Homemade devil's chocolate Oreos with peppermint cream cheese frosting with crushed candy canes. Delicious.

Tonight I made a big old batch of peanut butter Snickers cookies drizzled in chocolate. Half of them were for the Relief Society cookie exchange, and the other half were for the 8th annual Christmas gift card exchange party on Saturday. And a few to give to my roommates and friends here and there.
Only look what happened when I came home from the church and packed them all up in a pyrex dish on top of the fridge. Slam. It was pretty cool-looking.

I thought about trying to save the cookies. But then I realized the power of glass shards. Not going to do it. Not even to people I don't like.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Peace On Earth

Every year we read the same words and sing the same songs, proclaiming the same idea. Don't get me wrong; I am not a scrooge. In fact, I feel myself fully embracing the season this year. I need the lights and the excitement, the planning and the parties. I love the regularity of it--and yet the fact that these words and notes and decorations have been packed away for a while. It's all fresh again.

I made a fascinating observation last week. I had been assisting with the Festival of Lights at the Washington, D.C. temple. It was an exciting--and slightly stressful--evening. I was assigned to greet guests at the door, including ambassadors, diplomats, dignitaries, and representatives from the White House, Congress, and other churches. I was nervous, especially after the whole White House State Dinner crashers the week before. I had to run through a list to check off names and prevent interlopers. I also had to welcome these people in out of a terrible rain storm, from horrible traffic out on the Beltway, and help them feel comfortable at the visitor's center. No pressure. As the event progressed, and the bulk of the guests had arrived, I relaxed enough to listen to the program and observe the tired, anxious faces of the people. For the closing song, the choir sang the familiar "Let There be Peace on Earth," which, although not a Christmas song, presented a very clear, powerful message to a room full of international representatives and policy-makers.

All of a sudden, I got the message. This idea of angels proclaiming "Peace on earth" is very real. And we repeat it every year--even in a world raging with wars and strife and contention all around. But we work for it. We meet together to try to come to a common understanding, across racial and geographical and cultural and class divides. We seek escape and deliverance from each other and for each other.

But we also have to--we get to--repeat the same message and same songs. Year after year. And although not all in that room were members of my Church--not all were even Christian--we all, every one there, want peace. We share that one hope. And we keep trying, year after year.

Thank goodness for multiple opportunities. Thank goodness that peace can be a daily affair. And thank goodness for the realization that instead of waiting for it, it must begin with me.

This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again. Howard W. Hunter

Friday, December 04, 2009

Dirty Fingernails and Blisters

Note: NOT my picture (see here)
NOT my hands--my hands were caked in dirt and my fingernails are NOT that short, and I was wearing my BYU football T-shirt and the rest of me was caked in glorious dirt. For the record.

'Tis the season!

When my friend Mark moved into a new house, I jumped at the chance to plant bulbs. There is something delightfully magical about planning a spring garden this far in advance--the anticipation kills me! Tulips! Daffodils! Hyacinths! Those little purple flowers that aren't crocuses and the name I canNOT remember!

I love digging holes. I love squishing down into the dirt with my shovel to find the perfect place for the bulb. I love getting into the groove and yet feeling like each spot is different and requires a different tactic. I love the warm, crisp November/December sun. I love filling my days with the hope of a new seed that will grow and thrive in a few months. I love that I can create something by getting dirty and by covering things up with dirt. I love having spring to get me through the winter. I love the new idea that mothball crystals will keep the squirrels away from the tulips. I do NOT love the smell of mothball crystals, but oh I hope they work.

Here's to spring, and to preparing now, and to looking forward with anticipation.

Yes, I scrubbed and scrubbed and got most of the dirt out of my fingernails before the big event last night at the Festival of Lights. How can you shake an ambassador's hands with dirty fingernails? Those Americans...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

This One is Married

What a day! I think my favorite part was watching Annie walk in with Ben. I have never seen her look so happy or feel so beautiful. It made my heart happy. It was a beautiful day at Sundance and it was so fun to see family and friends. I love Ben & Josh in this picture... so typical... I just wish you could see Lisa's Uggs in this picture. She was DONE with her fancy wedding shoes.

And I leave you with some Thanksgiving pictures...Wait, are Mom's eyes closed? Weird. Her rolls were awesome--although they took oven precedence over my sweet potatoes. I must say my new recipe of stuffing turned out fine... even better... don't tell GranNomi her recipe has been trumped...Savannah had only apple juice. I think she ate too many peppermint JoJos before dinner. What can I say--I admire her taste...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yesterday's Top 3

Ok. I know. I have loads of things to write about (well not loads, but at least a few brilliant blog posts. But. Non c'e' la faccio, as they say in Italian (which doesn't translate well--but it's one of those brilliant phrases). It's just not in me. You bloggers know how that is.

But I must share yesterday's top 3. After two bits of bad news in the preceeding 12 hours, and loads (yes loads) of the heaviest stuff, and the third trip to Utah since the end of September (out of the frying pan, into the fire), I needed, nay NEEDED, these top 3 things, in this order:

1. A sweet, dear friend drove me all the way to BWI. In the pouring rain and the middle of the day. He arrived, saw I was in the middle of a conversation, didn't say a word, picked up my stuff, loaded his car, turned it to point in the right direction, and sat waiting for me. Then he listened to me talk for a really long time, to the point that he missed that crucial turn and there was recovery time in Anacostia (and yes, we've both lived in DC for years!), then dropped me at the curb with the kindest thoughts and hopes. Bless his heart.

2. When I arrived in Salt Lake City, another friend met me at the curb. She was headed to Mesa for Thanksgiving and needed someone to pick up her car to avoid long-term parking costs. She returns a day after I leave. So I have Sylvie, her car. Can I tell you, my friends, what it is to have a car? I know I'll be working in the sweat shop today (in preparation for Annie's big day tomorrow), and just the thought that I. have. a. car. means the world. Bless her heart.

3. I shared the rabbit room last night with my baby nephew. He was sound asleep in his pac-n-play, and there was no moving anything in that tiny room without him waking up. Plus I love the kid. LOVE the kid. So I climbed into bed and pretty soon he was awake and he climbed into bed with me. He just wanted me to hold him and he wanted to put his head on mine and he had to be touching me. I needed that physical contact. I needed that pat on my cheek and that reassurance that he's there. Bless his heart.

So tomorrow is this one's big day:
And guess what I realized I forgot, hanging from the doorknob of my bedroom in Virginia? Yeah. My camera. Oh well. Better that than my dress or my shoes, I guess.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

One of those A-HA moments...

After a week full of those "adventures" (where you do NOT ask what else could happen because it DOES), I saved up Friday night to go visiting teaching (church program, see details here--it WAS, after all, the end of the month!). Julie and I had a nice, cozy visit with Jen, which went slightly longer than anticipated. At 9:45 pm, we realized we still needed to run into Georgetown to visit Karen.

Now, this story will have more meaning for those of you who know Georgetown on a Friday night, particularly the Friday night before Halloween. The traffic is crazy and the parking is crazier. There were folks testing out their costumes and cops all over the place. Julie left a husband and sleeping child and baby at home who may or may not have needed feeding. We brought melting pumpkin ice cream for Karen. Our situation was a teensy bit dire.

In my desperate way, I hurled out a very vocal pleading to God: "Please provide us with a parking spot if you want us to visit Karen!" I was half joking--ready to creep down M Street and Wisconsin, and all the hopeful street parking in between. When what to our wandering eyes should appear, but A PARKING SPOT RIGHT IN FRONT OF KAREN'S SHOP. I'm not kidding. It was there. And the street was lined with cars everywhere else, parked and waiting to park. You know.

We ran in and chatted and laughed with Karen while she took a break from work and admired her kitty hidden away upstairs and hugged her and told her Heavenly Father must love her. Then hightailed it home. Where I found another parking spot right in front of my house.

I believe in visiting teaching miracles.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Candle in the Wind

Last week I had to go to Philadelphia. Twice. For two separate conferences.

Ok. I was cheap. I had a ride up and back on Thursday and I didn't want to pay for a hotel room until my Saturday conference.

I decided that after a couple of intense weeks of research, writing, powerpoint making, and all that other stuff, I deserved a slight detour after my second presentation: the Dian
a exhibit at the National Constitution Center.Judge me all you want. I admit: Diana was my princess. I am a Diana-lover. My grandparents lived in London when she got married and send us news clippings and books and postcards. When I was on study abroad in London, I lived around the corner from Kensington Palace, and everytime our class was interrupted by the sound of her helicopter flying in or out, we wondered what activity was happening.

I loved her dresses. I loved that it took a while for her to find her style, but boy did she find it. I loved that she supported British fashion designers and I loved her sense of class.

I loved her emphasis on humanitarian aid. I loved that she used her station in life to do an incredible amount of good. She didn't shirk away from the difficult situations that were so far removed from her own palaces and royal activity. She jumped in.

Most of all, I loved that she loved people. She touched sick people and held people with crazy diseases. She wasn't afraid of the royal imprimature being polluted in any way. She was brave and fierce.
She obviously struggled privately. And yet she had a grace and a poise that stood strong despite her difficulties.

I remember exactly where I was when I found out about her death. At first I was convinced it was a conspiracy plot by the queen because Diana had stolen her spot light and because of all the troubles with Charles. I watched her funeral and I bought the Elton John cd in support of her, and I listened to it over and over. She was my princess.

The exhibit, by the way, was delightful. If you get the chance, wherever it travels, you should go. I LOVED seeing the dresses I had seen in pictures. The train on that dress? 25 feet long. Incredible. And well worth the $36 parking ticket for being three minutes late to my meter. Take that, Philadelphia. You can't ruin my Diana experience.

And I think I'm going to go to London this year for Christmas. Or to do humanitarian aid somewhere. Is anyone in?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Misty Moisty Morning

A couple of weeks ago, a friend gave us tickets to the White House garden tour. We braved the rain and chill and metroed in for the biannual event.
I've lived in DC for over three years and have yet to be invited to the White House (I'm still hoping for a Christmas party invite this year... hehehe), so I jumped at the opportunity to come within yards of the famous building.

The Rose Garden

It was beautiful--and exciting to be at the same location where so much happens on the news: the Rose Garden, the Oval Office (I loved that it was literally adjacent to the playground for the OBama kids).

The other thing I loved was the additions from each administration: the magnolia trees planted by Andrew Jackson in memory of his wife Rachel, the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the Children's Garden (with handprints of many First Children and Grandchildren!). I found it very interesting that the Clintons planted an elm tree. Who loves the elm? Anyone? Isn't it the most common of all weed trees? At least it was at my mom's house in Utah. I loved seeing the Obama playground, but, I'll be honest here, I was a bit perplexed why the famous Michelle Obama kitchen garden was not on display (Could it be in disrepair? Is it a farce? Are they growing unmentionables there, not fit for public view?).After a warm sandwich at Pot Belly, we were on our way. One DC experience richer and a bit wetter... (is that a word?)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Last week I flew home on Columbus Day. The holiday sort of threw off my travel plans.

(Yes--I didn't know Columbus Day had the power to throw off travel plans. I didn't even know it was a holiday until I moved East. Don't get me wrong--I think Columbus and his travels are worth celebrating. Maybe not the manipulation of the native peoples and the beginnings of American imperialism, but the idea of exploration and expansion. You know.)

Luckily as I boarded the Marc train for BWI a couple of weeks ago, I saw a notice about no train service on Columbus Day. Phew. So glad I saw that and didn't get stuck with a hefty Amtrak ticket on my way home. There's more than one way to get home, right? I planned just to take the metro shuttle to Greenbelt and metro home. Plan B.

Luckily again, I checked the metro website the morning before my flight. Detoured again. The holiday weekend would see scheduled track work on the green and yellow lines, with complete closure from Gallery Place south. Phew again. I mean--that was my direct path. I juggled around the metro map and realized that I could transfer to the red line, then back to the blue line, then catch a bus at the Pentagon and make it home just fine.

Except. The red line is still slow from the horrible train wreck a few weeks ago. And I was tired and that bus would have tacked on another 30 minutes or so home. So I called sweet ME, who agreed to meet me at Farragut North on her way home from work. Perfect. Crisis averted.

My point is this: I think we often make great plans. Fantastic, perfect plans--to ride off into the sunset, or to achieve a certain goal, or to arrive at a certain destination at a specific time. Then something happens. Routes are closed. People fall through. Scheduled track work happens. Columbus arrives back in 1492 and the world celebrates for years after. You get the picture. The exciting, exhilarating part is this: figuring out where you go from here. Rerouting, as the GPS says. Examining your options and making a new plan. Finding a new course to the same destination.

That's it, my friends. Detours are GREAT.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sing like your shoes are on fire!

Last Saturday evening I flew from Denver to Salt Lake City, where I hugged my cousin Barbara at the airport on her way back to California. Then Janiece picked me up and we headed down to UVU just in time for the Snow Patrol concert. It was fabulous. Great music. Good crowd. My favorite quote of the night was an encouragement to sing along: "Sing like your shoes are on fire!"

What does that mean? It must have something to do with urgency and passion--as if your life depended on it.

When was the last time you sang like your shoes were on fire?

I don't know.

But I do know what it's like to be in the hot seat. In fact, I've got a paper for a conference that I must turn in tomorrow. The great news is that I've found some incredible stuff that makes all the difference to prove my ideas. I'm so super delighted with some stuff that GoogleBooks turned up for me, and that I could interlibrary loan a very rare book from the Newberry Library in Chicago (it's the only extant book from the Salt Lake City Ladies' Literary Club's contribution to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair). I owe the interlibrary loan office some cookies for pulling that one off for me. Plus the archivist at BYU let me take digital pictures of the entire book, Songs and Flowers of the Wasatch. I have such perfect research for this paper.


But I only have two days to get it all together.

Granted--it's only a paper, and this will actually be a chapter in my dissertation, so I have more time.

In the meanwhile, though, I'm singing as if my shoes were on fire. I'm so excited about what I'm doing and yet I've got to get this thing rolling!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hide and Seek

I love playing hide and seek with a three-year-old. This is how Savannah wanted me to play with her last week:

"I'm going to hide in the cupboard. You go over there and say 'one and two and three; ready or not.' Ok?"

It was so easy that way. It didn't take long and it didn't last long. Only two hides.
If only all the other things that are hiding from me could appear at such command: my dissertation, my husband, a new spare tire that I don't seem to have the time to go find and buy. Sheesh, I'd even take a normal date and a chapter at this point!

But I guess there must be something in the seeking process. Something about recognizing needs and limitations, measuring distances and time and expectations, studying and working through options, testing out possibilities, researching and writing and editing, and asking for help. And sometimes, just waiting. And NOT counting. That's the hardest part for me.

Then again, maybe there are more lessons to be learned from those kids.
  • After helping herself to a giant piece of birthday cake, then spilling it all over the floor, little Savvy immediately responded by singing, "I'll go to time out!" Maybe I need to sequester myself into my own time out and really separate myself when I recognize trouble.
  • After putting Vicks vapor rub on poor Sierra, who was coughing up a lung (did you know they don't make kids' cough medicine anymore?), Savvy said, "I'm sick, too. I need medicine!" Maybe I need to recognize and ask for a healing balm--and believe mightily in it.
  • When I sat Luke down on the gravel playground, he put his hands down to push himself up to his feet. He didn't really like the feel of the sharp little rocks, but he just kept trying. And he never got discouraged--he had the biggest smile on his face. He was so excited to be outside and he wasn't going to let some little rocks stop him from enjoying the playground with the big kids!
Man, I love those kids. I love how I can feel my heart expanding to love them.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The One Who Finishes... or Lessons Learned in St. George...

My quads have calmed down enough for me to tell you a little tale.

Once there was a crazy graduate student who thought it would be fun to train for and run the St. George marathon. She had never done that one before, and her sister and sister-in-law all registered together. What a time for some good old-fashioned family bonding.

Well, then the training part came. And it was very very hot and humid in Virginia. And then she rolled her ankle helping someone move and the swelling never really went down. And even she never seemed to get enough sleep and enough to eat (TRANSLATION: she had a ginormous appetite and ate everything in front of her but just didn't seem to be burning all those calories). She made it through the long runs, even though her running friend suffered a very serious injury and she found some great guys to run with (and they pushed her and pulled her and made her run much faster than she ever thought she could).

And then the day came. All were settled snugly in their beds for the night at the Courtyard Marriott, when what to their sleeping ears should hear but a wake-up call at 3:30 instead of 4:30! Someone at the front desk made a little mistake (TRANSLATION: I don't know how to talk about that without some not very nice words except they gave us a nice credit on our bill).

Here are the highlights of the whole experience:
  • There is a great sense of victory that comes with finishing. Sometimes it's not the finish you had imagined--there was no finish-line flourish here (TRANSLATION: The finish-line flourish is when you have this euphoric burst of energy that comes out of nowhere and suddenly your legs are pounding the pavement and you cross that line with this immense amount of energy and strength and pride). There was just the ability to cross the finish line. Period. It was crossed. And there was something both humbling and powerful about submitting to the idea of finishing. Not winning, not PRing, not breaking any record, not qualifying, but finishing. That's it. It's a beautiful concept, friends.
  • There is a power in running with a sister. I thought I ran faster than Lisa, and she had really banged up her knee on her last long run. But I'll tell you what, more than I needed to run fast and strong like I did with my guys in training, I needed to run with my sister. I needed her. She needed me. We pushed each other and laughed and told each other stories and listened to our Ipods and danced and sang and waited for each other to go to the bathroom and get Icy Hot rub-downs at the aid stations. She walked with me when I didn't think I was going to make it up the Veyo hill at mile 7, and I kept her going. At the end, Lisa had a lot more energy than I did, and I wanted her to finish strong, so she went ahead. But then, right before the finish line, she turned around and waited for me so we could cross together. That meant the world to me.
  • There is something about making something so huge and seemingly impossible into something more manageable. Lisa and I utilized the Galloway method this time, where you run a mile and walk a minute. Something like that. We learned to conserve our energy and rest our aching muscles. And even though near the end we took more frequent and longer walking breaks, and it was hard to push those aching quads back into running mode, it sustained us throughout the race. My favorite part, though, was the big, silver star balloons at ever mile marker. You could see them from far away--and we knew we just had to make it to that balloon and we could walk. I LOVED those balloons (TRANSLATION: I would have married one if I could).
  • There is something about being surrounded by runners. A marathon becomes a group effort. My great bishop was running as was my cousin John and my sister-in-law Jill. There were signs along the route that made us laugh and keep going. And the crowds near the end were energizing. I loved it.
That's all. I don't know if there's anything left in me to do another one. I do want to beat my time, but my body feels old and tired. And I've got to take good care of it. I've got miles to go and this body needs to see me through, because I'm a finisher.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Last Wednesday I came home. My Utah home, that is. I haven't been home since Christmas last year. That's a long time. What can I say? I've been busy. And living on an ever-decreasing poor student budget.

I've decided I have a couple of homes. I love love love the rolling green hills of Virginia, the thick trees, the brilliant greens and fall and spring colors, the rivers and the history and the age. I love the East Coast culture and I love the incredible people here. This, to me, fuels me and gives me direction and compels me to action. Oh I love that I have found a place to call home that quickens my inner being.

But there was something in the air when I got off that plane at Salt Lake International Airport that I hadn't felt in a long time. A sense of familiarity and deep, long personal history. My history. And the history of the people that I love and that I have made my study and passion. This, too, is home.

I woke up on Thursday to the sprinkling of snow on Timpanogos with the dusting of fall color creeping down the mountain. Oh I love the majestic rocky peaks. I did some research at the new Church History museum in Salt Lake City--looking at old, familiar records in a beautiful new location. That new library is breathtaking--from the bronze friezes to the rich carpet to the warm afternoon sun. I have loved catching up with dear old friends, spending time with family, and even catching a General Conference session Sunday afternoon.And yet... after a couple of days here (well and a sojourn in St. George, details pending the healing of my throbbing quads), I find myself anxious. I feel in-between. I have papers to grade, a paper to write, more research to do, planes to catch, a conference to attend in Denver.
Basically, I've come to the conclusion that time marches on. I remember on my mission after five long, hard, rewarding months in Bari, I was inevitably transferred to Foggia. As I rode the train and looked out the window at the fleeting city scenes that had become my own through a lot of pavement pounding and hard work, I felt like Bari had become a part of me--a part of my very being. I had laughed and cried and withered of exhaustion and thrived with love there. I had give myself to Bari and I took that city into my own self. And I was leaving it behind. But I was also taking a part of it with me. Bari had enveloped itself into my soul.

Before Italy and since then, I've added a lot of homes to my soul: magical London with its enchantment and European delights at every turn, sunny Arizona with its delightful orange blossoms and breathtaking sunsets, dynamic New York City with its mad craziness and breathtaking life all rolled up together, and of course, Washington DC and Utah.

We create homes and we take them with us. They blend together to make us who we are. And we carry them with us everywhere. And we can find home all over again.