Saturday, January 31, 2009

Catch Up on Aprons

I've been meaning to post these pictures for a long time now. There's no time like now, when I'm procrastintaing a Sunday School lesson, a minor field statement, making more aprons, cleaning, you name it...This is for sweet Lindi... I loved the bright flowers and big, bold print!

Julie--what can I say--the most exciting Visiting Teaching companion I've had in YEARS... with new baby Bronco and all. It's like a smock. This is the back and front. I hear this apron has become a great feeding cover!

This was for my mom for her birthday. I love the bold print.

I made matching aprons for my sister Lisa and my two nieces: Sierra and Savannah.

When I was at home for Christmas, I delved through Mom's crazy fabric stash to make aprons for GranNomi and Aunt Nita. I also made one for Barbara the Favorite, but I forgot to take a picture. It was a really cool teal blue-ish color. I LOVE picking out colors and patterns that I think my recipients will like.

For a gift card exchange party, I offered an apron. Alicia was the lucky winner with this little piece.

I made this one for Marni... very similar to one I made for my friends' annual white elephant exchange in Salt Lake City. I love the pompoms and the ric rac and the loop for a dish towel.

Stay tuned for more creations...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Yeah--this is what I get from being SHORT. I held my camera up and stood on my tiptoes for this shot. Tells you something about my view. Thank goodness for the jumbo tron nearby--although I had to constantly shift because all the tall people moved into my little window.

I just learned this from the OED:

inaugural: adjective OR noun--having to do with an inauguration
inaugurate: verb--to admit or induct a person to an office or dignity by a formal ceremony; to consecrate, install, invest. To invest a thing with a sacred or supposed sacred character.

Pretty cool, huh?
Before we even got to security we waited in a line that stretched all the way to the Air & Space Museum. Crowd control was a minor issue--although the news reported no problems, I had friends who couldn't get in with their tickets as other spectators crashed through barriers. Mostly there was a lot of respect and kindness in the air. And a LOT of garbage. I've never seen so much in my life.

I trekked in with the masses to the 44th Presidential Inaugural yesterday and I reveled in the excitement. The air was invigorating.

King Street metro at 6:30 am... while the train wasn't too bad going into the District (other than the woman who actually threw up on Jenette & Deidre!), the L'Enfant station was jammed full and it took forever to get out onto the street above.

And secretly, I hoped to become an Obama convert. Don't get me wrong--I think he's a pretty cool cat. I think he has some valuable ideas and great skill at organizing the masses and getting things done on a local level. I love his family and I'm super excited to have kids in the White House. But to be completely honest, I wasn't entirely convinced. Some of his ideas hit me in a negative way.
After the ceremony we stopped by the Utah Delegation Reception to warm up and snag some fruit and cookies. We watched the Bush family leave via helicopter and realized that walking helped us to stay warm.

BUT... I was there. I wonder if part of inauguration means to sustain and support. While I realize I have some fundamental ideological differences of opinion, I sustain and support President Obama as my nation's leader. I believe in his push for sacrifice and service (although for the life of me I do NOT understand why these are supposedly new concepts at this time?!?). I felt the exciement and the renewed vigor of the masses as they cheered and cried, as they waved their flags and bowed their heads in prayer.
I was dressed in so many layers I felt like a giant ball of stuff--handwarmers everywhere, thermals, sweaters, sock liners, glove liners, hats, scarves. All the extra weight made my back and shoulders hurt! And my pockets were full of snacks and water because supposedly we couldn't bring bags into the area--although we saw tons of people with big bags.

It was magical. One day I'll tell my kids I was there.

Rather than brave the crazy ridiculous crowds at the metro on the way home, Yvette and I walked all the way from Eastern Market, down past the parade, to the 14th Street bridge, then on the George Washington trail to Crystal City. Long walk, but it felt great to move. And it took us just a little bit longer than the rest of our group's metro trip. I fell asleep last night at 9:30. Dog tired.

Monday, January 19, 2009


You must know... the air in this neck of the woods is dancing with anticipation. Tomorrow is a big day! Regardless of your political leanings (and you may have noticed that I tend to refrain from posting my political leanings. I have them. I just hesitate to display them. I watch the political junky news shows and I listen to others and develop my own ideas and I really don't like it when others assume I believe the same as they do!), it's a big day for the country. And no greater place to understand that then here in the nation's capital.

And guess what?!? I have tickets! A friend of a friend... it's so delightful to have Washington connections coming out of my ears around here. They're not great... silver, standing room, behind the capitol reflection pool, but they're inaugural tickets... I get to go through security... and attend a reception after... (although don't you think the Utah reception will just have brownies and punch? How much would you laugh if they had jello? or BYU sparkle? At least let's hope they are those mint brownies! You know exactly which ones I'm talking about...)

It's been all over the news for weeks now. Road closures, bridge closures, weather reports, maps, crowd control. In fact, electric signs started appearing on the freeways a week ago, stating "DC event Jan. 20." My university finally decided to cancel their scheduled first day of class for Tuesday (which makes me ask myself, when did they realize that 20 January 2009 would be inauguration? I mean, it's been that way for over 50 years, people! The 4 March inauguration hasn't happened in decades!). And flags everywhere. The big gorgeous banners lining the capitol. Flags all along Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade route. All the metro buses have flags rippling in the wind.

It's the buzz in conversation everywhere. Everyone knows the schedule: yesterday was the inaugural concert at the Lincoln. Swearing-in at 11:30 (security gates open at 8; plan to be through security by 9); parade at 2:30 (impossible to attend both events because of the crowds; choose one and get there early!). Balls all the night long.

And the next question: how are you getting there? Walking across Memorial Bridge? Taking the metro? Bike valet at the Jefferson?Handwarmers are sold out in the metro area. Every unused porta-potty in the adjoining five states has found its way to the National Mall (please oh please let there be a few inside the ticketed area!). No bags bigger than 8" x 6" x 4" (is that the size of a sandwich bag?). No glass containers or coolers or umbrellas. Bring a newspaper to stand on--it prevents the cold ground from seeping up your feet.

But greater than all these little details that will fill my dreams tonight in order for me to be up and out my door by 6:15 tomorrow morning is the anticipation of our future. What will happen? No matter your political affiliation, what kind of change will we see? My favorite part is the renewed vigor and patriotism. Hope in a strong future. I support that. I support the teamwork. I'm a believer.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Room Full of Warriors

This morning at my *frozen* yoga class (you try doing shavasana in like 50 degrees, covering your body with every available layer!), while in the midst of Warrior 2, my teacher said, "Wow! We have a room full of warriors!"

My mind started wandering out of my pose. What does it mean to be strong?

A year ago this weekend I had a particular conversation with a dear loved one which sort of changed the whole direction of my life. As I reflect on that conversation and on the subsequent year, I am flooded with memories of extreme emotions.

But in a very strange underlying vein, I am also reminded me of what it means to be strong. I certainly haven't felt very strong. But I've realized the need to reorient myself--to redefine. Now I can say that strength comes from recognizing a weakness and building it up. I trained for a marathon this year, and I re-learned the importance of discipline, of constant exercise, of pushing and fueling and resting appropriately. Sometimes the lesson comes in learning that appropriateness. I certainly didn't PR on this marathon--I felt tired and slow and my stomach didn't take too well to my energy gel. But I finished, and I was strong.

I also took my oral exams. I realized there was a LOT about American history that I didn't know. So I made a plan and tackled my weak areas--and bolstered my strengths. The exercise required mental and emotional energy and focus. I certainly didn't answer every question exactly correctly, but it was sufficient. I was strong.

I think my deepest source of strength, however, came from completely outside of myself. Sure, I can study and run and I can work through tough issues. I can do hard things. But in all reality, so much of this is beyond me. Yet it is in my very weakness that I recognize my need and my need to draw upon a true source of strength. And suddenly I realize that it is actually my weakness--my vulnerability--that I become strong. And that kind of exercise requires mental and emotional energy and focus. Mostly faith. And mostly turning things over to a higher source, making His strength mine. That's what I think being strong is. Doing all that I can in my own power, then letting go. Releasing. Watching the Lord reveal His mighty arm.

I love the Chinese terracotta warriors. Ever since I learned about them in an Asian humanities class at BYU, I have wanted to see them. I am amazed at their endurance. I love their firmness, their constancy. They are completely vulnerable to erosion and weather. Some of them have been worn smooth. Their rough places are softer after all these years. And yet they endure. They continue. Their presence whispers of strength.

Now I'd rather be a lover than a warrior (after all, Virginia is for lovers!), but sometimes I think we have our own battle grounds to conquer. And I think sometimes it takes a battle of strength to learn how to forgive and to suffer long and be kind and not easily provoked, not puffed up and endure long and well. But mostly it takes that sense of weakness and reliance upon a much mightier form of strength. Exposure and vulnerability and patience. It then becomes ours.

Friday, January 16, 2009


It's 16 degrees. With a windchill of something like -20. Not really, but it sure feels like it. This morning it was 10 when I went to the gym.

When I lived in Arizona, I came to the understanding of extreme temperatures. You don't feel much difference between 75 and 80. But there's a HUGE difference between 100 and 105.

I learned that again living in New York City in the winter. Holy cow. That wind can knock the bejeezus off you. Or diminish you to a pile of gloves, scarves, and hats and it takes you 10 minutes to get ready to go outside.

So today I am thankful for a couple of things:
  • Thermals. Boy, howdy, do they make a HUGE difference. Even inside my house while I'm FINALLY working on my minor field statement.
  • Hot chocolate, hot tea (raspberry zinger!), hot food. Bring it on. Inside my body. Yum.
  • My giant down coat with the fake fur collar. I don't know why the fake fur makes me feel warmer, but it does. Oh I love me a good warm coat that makes me 12 sizes bigger.
  • My down comforter. Plus two quilts. Plus flannel sheets and flannel pajamas, and one of those little bag-things with lavender that you warm up in the microwave. The other night I woke up a couple of hours after I had gone to bed, and the magical pillow was still warm! Magic, I tell you!
  • Warm car heaters. I can't tell you how much colder it is when you don't have a car and you walk to the subway or wait for the bus. Thanks, Golda.
  • And, last but not least, a chocolate milkshake. I know, I know, a bit counter-intuitive, but even on cold days you need a little chocolate deliciousness. Especially.
And more good news: the weather report for Inauguration Day calls for a balmy 37 degrees. That's practically 40! That's suntan weather! Can't wait!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Honesty and Bangkok 54

It's so comforting to me... this concept of what goes around comes around. It's been a week fraught with strange encounters all around. On Monday I recognized a grave error I had made with my work responsibilities and tried to be honest and settle up, and was completely shamed for my mistake. I came to grips with some car troubles that will cost me $550. I discovered news of the unexpected death of a friend's father and have wanted desperately to do something to ease that, but I simply cannot. I had the opportunity to be completely honest about a well-meaning friend's good intentions--and I struggled to be graceful and kind at the same time I expressed my own different intentions. You know. One of those weeks.

Last night Josh and I went to the symphony. We had dinner at Bangkok 54 with some of his friends before. Delightful food and interesting conversation. Then we rushed to find parking at the Kennedy Center and pick up our tickets and find our seats safely before the downbeat. Enter Prokofiev, a breathtaking Schumann cello concerto, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, with a very entertaining German guest conductor. Ahhhh...

On my way home, I received a text from my roommate that I had left my purse at the restaurant. A bit confusing, since I had my purse with me. I quickly realized it was my wallet I had left back on Columbia Pike. Apparently the busboy had found it had fallen on the floor when we scurried out of there. He actually found my address on my driver's license and brought it to my house, but since I wasn't there, he didn't want to leave it with my very dishonest-looking roommate (just a joke--she's probably the most honest person I know!). This morning I headed over to Bangkok 54 as soon as they opened and found my wallet, safely deposited in a tied-up grocery bag in their locked office.

What goes around comes around. My efforts to be honest this week were paid off in a very small way with some great Thai food and Thai efforts to be honest. It reminds me of the law of compensation. Things don't always compensate immediately, but they do compensate. I'm a believer. And if you're ever on Columbia Pike and need some Thai food, I highly recommend this place. The Thai-style sweet and sour chicken was amazing. So was Josh's Pad Prik. YUM.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A New Frame of Reference

My dad and I march to different drummers. I sort of figured that out early on in my life. And it's been a challenge for me in my heart of hearts.

Recently, in my efforts to do something NEW, I've tried to sort of re-evaluate and re-reference and re-frame my dad. I'm trying to figure him out--and in the process, figure myself out.

For Christmas Dad gave me and each of my siblings three framed photographs. He gave me one last year, too. He's a talented nature photographer--a talent I've always sort of overlooked in an unfair way. But this year I was struck by the beauty of the fall leaves his camera found at the summit of Rock Canyon. The lighting, the color, the angle--all beautiful.

Except. Well, the frame. He framed them in some cheap light oak frames, the pictures spilling out and looking all wrong. Just another reason why my siblings and I always joke about Dad. He just doesn't quite get it.

I recently re-read an amazing book by James Ferrill: The Peacegiver. The stories, the concepts, the ideas all spoke to me in very strong, reverberating ways. I realized some of the changes I need to make and how to make them. Immediately. The book pierced me to my core. I think everyone should read it. Over and over.

Last night I went to Michael's and found the delight of half-price frames and nice double mats. It is amazing what a difference a frame and mat can make on Dad's pictures. Suddenly they are works of art--they are beautiful. They pop out on my wall, and I want to display them with pride. I want to tell people my dad took those pictures. What a difference a NEW frame makes. A NEW me.
P.S. I also picked up these black beauties for $7 and was finally able to frame some old vintage Italian posters. My walls feel loved!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Dangers of Drinking Dirty Water, or The Importance of a Good Breakfast

One time, many many many years ago, we went on a family camping trip to Yellowstone. A particularly grouchy ranger at one of the entrance booths made an indelible impression on my cousin Zak, who asked Grandma if that man had had dirty water for breakfast. It's a phrase we use often in my family--a very powerful phrase describing someone who must have had a really bad morning.

A few years ago when I had had a somewhat negative encounter with a professor, my Uncle Steve encouraged me to give her a box of Cheerios, assuming that she must have not had a very good breakfast because of the way she treated me.

I love that--the assumption that people treat each other poorly because of some personal difficulty. Not only did Uncle Steve teach me to open my perspective beyond a sour discussion to a larger life behind that conversation, but he also encouraged me to find a way to lighten someone else's heavy load.

Yesterday I had one of those sour encounters--a 45-minute phone conversation with an irate woman who must have had dirty water for breakfast. It's true--I had made a mistake and I was trying to make things right with her. But through my sincere apology and expression of respect for her work, she continued to ring me up and down. I was so grateful that I had had a nice breakfast--that I was able to have the presence of mind to recognize that there was more to her life than the small problem I had caused. I was able to listen and to not become defensive--I tried to reiterate her frustration and to find ways to make things right. Although we did not end seeing eye to eye (and yes, I got off the phone and had a quick "therapy" session with a dear friend who helped me see my own insecurities in the process), now I do want to give this woman a box of cheerios. Do you think I can send one to Knoxville?After all, no one deserves dirty water.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A New Year's Funny

Right before I left for Christmas in Utah, my sweet friend Vanessa left me a Christmas surprise on my doorstep with a kind note. To be totally honest, I wasn't quite sure what it was. It looked like baking chocolate, but wasn't cut into squares. I asked Michael and Ben what they thought--they said fudge. It was even marbled--and looked delicious.I saved it for a New Year's treat. Then one day this week while working from home, I suddenly remembered the chocolatey surprise and I hopped up from my laptop and cut off a slice. It smelled surprisingly like cinnamon. Neat. I popped it into my mouth.

Nope. Not cinnamon. Not fudge OR baking chocolate. Nothing of the sort.

Soap. It was a bar of beautiful homemade soap, the kind that makes you really really clean. And you generally enjoy the cleaning process with that stuff.

Needless to say I grabbed everything I could think of to get the taste out of my mouth--lots and lots of chips. I settled on a lunch of chicken noodle soup, broccoli and garlic (my new favorite use of garlic!), and cheese toasted bagels.
Rob and Matthew seemed to think that I just got a whole year of free cussing for EATING soap, not just washing my mouth out with it. I can't figure out if that means 2008 or 2009?

Thanks, Vanessa--for the great soap AND the great story! Love you and MISS you!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Come Let Us Anew

There is nothing like a fresh start. I hung my new 2009 calendar a couple of days ago (couldn't wait to replace my 2008 American folk art with 2009 antique maps), and I finally got a new journal today (last week I still had a bunch of pages left but I just could not wait to close the cover on 2008! No more!). Ever since I got back home after Christmas, I've just wanted to clean and organize and throw things away.

A new calendar (January 2009 is 1945 Manhattan!). A new planner (black moleskin with an elastic band). A new journal (embossed leather with gilded gold on the binding and a magnetic flap and a red ribbon bookmark). A new start. A clean slate.

A few of my friends have annual themes--Stayin' Alive in 2005, Almost Heaven in 2007, Looking Great in '08, Lose weight in '08, Looking Fine in '09, Divine '09, No Limits in '09 (although that was on ESPN last night and was somehow associated with the daredevil motorcycle jumps in Las Vegas that my friends were completely enthralled with). The only theme I can think of for me this year has to do with new. It's the New Me. A New Start. New Adventures. A New Heart. Come Let Me Anew.

And one of my most favorite random hymns has been running through my head (why is that I've been all about music lately?!)

Come let us anew our journey pursue
Roll round with the year,
And never stand still till the Master appear.
His adorable will let us gladly fulfill,
And our talents improve
By the patience of hope and the labor of love.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not shutting the door. 2008 made me. It was tough and it tore me up a bit and left a little road rash. Marathons and doctoral exams and family weddings and new baby nephews and broken hearts will do that. I've stretched and I've pulled, I've twisted and turned, I've grown and I've run and I've sat and I've thought and I've cried and laughed and slept and not slept. I've soaked in the sun and I've shivered in the wind. I've talked and read and studied and performed. I've smiled and hugged and kissed and loved. I've expanded beyond myself. I've felt magnified and sustained and guided. I've seen tender mercies all around me.

I wouldn't trade that for the world. Not for anything.

But the New 2009 Me is building on the 2008 Me. And by the patience of hope and the labor of love, I can't wait to see what happens.