Monday, October 26, 2009

Just a Glimpse

Today I found myself standing outside an art exhibit that I had been planning on going to see since I found out about it this past May. Every time I had thought about going earlier this year, there was some reason why I didn't. None of them are very good reasons.

Today was the last day of the exhibit. I stood alone outside the barrier and watched for glimpses of some of the paintings as they took them down and packed them away in boxes. I didn't see much.

I had wanted to see those paintings for months, but I let myself get distracted too many times. What I wanted in the moment overshadowed something that would have meant a lot to me. Seems like that happens all too often, doesn't it?

Why did I wait? Was it the idea of a better time, a better place, someone to share that with? Yes.

But in the end, all I had was a glimpse.

The Sweetest Thing

I love fall. I love the vibrant colors. I love that crisp feeling in the air. I love the chill mornings and sultry afternoons, though those are pretty much gone here in Provo.

But maybe most of all, I love fall foods. There are all sorts of freshly harvested veggies and juicy apples, which are perfect for apple crisp. And everybody knows that along with the changing leaves comes a desire to cover everything in caramel - apples, popcorn, ice cream, fingers (ahem, Keaton)...

And so, my dear friends and readers, I present you with a heart-warming (and taste bud-satisfying) tale of adventure.

AKA - The Creamiest Caramel EVER

  • 1 (or 4) UNOPENED cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 big pot of boiling water
  • about 5 hours of patience
Basically, here's how it works: You get a few cans of sweetened condensed milk & take the labels off - but DO NOT open the can. Then you find a really big pot, put the cans in the bottom, and cover them completely with water - make sure you have a couple of inches of water above the tops of the cans. I've been told they can explode if you don't keep them covered with water, and I really don't want any lawsuits, okay people? A lid is also a good idea, but a large frying pan will suffice in place of a traditional lid if you cannot find a lid that fits your pot.

Then you boil. And boil. And boil some more, making sure that the cans stay covered with the water. I turned my cans over a few times during this boiling process, though I don't know that that actually did anything. If you decide turning is a good idea, use a set of long tongs & remove the pot from heat - otherwise, your bubbling boiling water will splash on you - not fun.

After about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, remove the pot from heat and take the cans out of the water. Let cans cool completely (I set mine on the counter for about 40 minutes, then stuck them in the freezer for about 15 to speed up the process). If you open the cans before they're cool, you'll have a boiling river of caramel flowing over your hands & countertops - also not fun.

When the cans are cool, open them up and BEHOLD! Sweet, creamy, caramelly goodness. YUM. We thinned ours down to the perfect ice cream topping consistency with a bit of cream. Perfection.

Back me up, here, all you people that experienced this miracle last night - it was amazing, no?

Friday, October 23, 2009


Author's Note: I found this the other day as I was cleaning out some old files on my computer. I had been meaning to post it, but sort of forgot. It's a true account of one morning in late May this past summer. I was a tiny bit sick & my mom had been doing some paint stripping in little house. The fumes were crazy strong, so I went outside, laid on the grass for about an hour, thought up this little diddy, & typed it up while still slightly high on paint thinner. So. Voila.

Also - I'm not sure why I wrote it in third person. Thoughts? Is it distracting? Would it be stronger in first person?

Lying there on the freshly shorn grass, gravity didn’t feel like such an enemy. It no longer seemed to pull her down, making the earth tilt and sway, no longer made her stumble dizzily. With the earth firmly at her back, gravity seemed rather like a friend, pulling her securely to the ground, stabilizing her heavy head, and holding her steadily. The summer breeze blew across her face, pure and fresh, untainted by the paint fumes that had driven her outdoors, away from the overpowering smell that only added to the swirl of her lurching stomach and already whirling mind.

The night before she had stayed up fussing with old essays, finding distraction in ads for cars she would never buy, and pretending that she wasn’t waiting for him to come online to say hello. She had stared at the screen for hours, only finally settling into bed when the house was completely still and she was too exhausted to think anymore. But that plan had its faults, for she was still capable of dreaming.

She lay very still, trying to dismiss the funny dizziness that had accompanied her all morning. One arm stretched across her face to shield her eyes from the brightness of the sun. If she peered through her fingers she could see the massive clouds trailing through the sky, some brightest white, others a dimly threatening grey. But for now, the sun held sway, lighting every blade of grass and slowing drying the lingering drops of morning dew.

The breeze played with the strands of hair that had escaped her loose ponytail, tugging gently upward, inviting her to forsake the pull of gravity and float away. The sun’s warm rays chased away the leftover chill of the night, the heat tightening the skin on her arms and bare shoulders. The light seemed to have a tangible weight, adding its pressure to gravity’s and wrapping her firmly in their grasp.

Small blades of grass pushed through the fingers of her outstretched hand. She pulled against them absently, feeling their frailty and remembering the strength of his fingers laced through hers. That steady strength seemed to be far out of reach, and the newly imposed silenced made the distance seem far greater than the miles. A blurred rush of memories pushed through her thoughts; some faded like a often-read letter while others were colored in the strange tones of dreams. She turned onto her side, trying to quell an ache that had nothing to do with paint fumes.

Overhead, the clouds continued their journey through the vast blue of the summer sky, now rolling themselves flat and drifting away like puffs of cotton on the wind, now building up into towering mountains of white and grey. Her skin began to cool, prickling a protest to the light chill in the breeze. She rolled to her back to gaze up at the largest of the grey clouds that had covered the sun. With her head tilted back, she waited for the first drops of rain to fall.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shards of Pain Become Pearls of Wisdom

There are times when you're faced with decisions that you just don't want to make. But the only way to move forward is to make that tough choice. But even if it is the right decision, it can still hurt.

It's called "heartache," but every part of me hurts today. (Maybe I just have Swine Flu & don't know it yet. Oh, the irony.)

Today in my English usage class, we were talking about collective nouns & the first part of this short essay by Dr. Rachel Naomi Kemen was used as an example. Never have I been so grateful for a written example of usage. It was just what I needed to hear to soothe this ache inside. I just really hope I'm not breaking any copyright laws by posting this. It's kinda long, but definitely worth the read.

"Pearls of Wisdom" from My Grandfather's Blessings by Rachel Naomi Kemen, M.D.
(Riverhead Books, 2000)

Some of the oldest and most delightful written words in the English language are the collective nouns dating from medieval times used to describe groups of birds and beasts. Many of these go back five hundred years or more, and lists of them appeared as early as 1440... These words frequently offer an insight into the nature of the animals they describe. Sometimes this is factual and sometimes poetic. Occasionally it is profound: a pride of lions, a party of jays, an ostentation of peacocks, an exultation of larks, a gaggle of geese, a charm of finches... and a parliament of owls are some examples. Over time, these sorts of words have been extended to other things as well. One of my favorites is pearls of wisdom.

An oyster is soft, tender, and vulnerable. Without the sanctuary of its shell it could not survive. But oysters must open their shells in order to "breathe" water. Sometimes while an oyster is breathing, a grain of sand will enter its shell and become a part of its life from then on.

Such grains of sand cause pain, but an oyster does not alter its soft nature because of this. It does not become hard and leathery in order not to feel. It continues to entrust itself to the ocean, to open and breathe in order to live. But it does respond. Slowly and patiently, the oyster wraps the grain of sand in thin translucent layers until, over time, it has created something of great value in the place where it was most vulnerable to its pain. A pearl might be thought of as an oyster's response to its suffereing. Not every oyster can do this. Oysters that do are far more valuable to people than oysters that do not.

. . .
Disappointment and loss are a part of every life. Many times we can put such things behind us and get on with the rest of our lives. But not everything is amenable to this approach. Some things are too big or too deep to do this, and we would have to leave important parts of ourselves behind if we treated them in this way. These are the places where wisdom begins to grow in us. It begins with the suffering that we do not avoid or rationalize or put behind us. It starts with the realization that our loss, whatever it is, has become a part of us and has altered our lives so profoundly that we cannot go back to the way it was before.

Something in us can transform such suffering into wisdom. The process of turning pain into wisdom often looks like a sorting process. First, we experience everything. Then one by one we let things go, the anger, the blame, the sense of injustice, and finally, even the pain itself, until all we have left is a deeper sense of the value of life and a greater capacity to live it.

So I have a new goal: I shall be like an oyster. A wise man once told me, "Nothing worthwhile is ever easy." I'm hoping that I can take this rough spot & make it into a pearl, that I can gain wisdom, that I can discover the value in the hurt & the worth of that grain of sand. Challenges like these define who we are.

One other thought - Have you ever seen inside the shell of an oyster? I have. That inner lining is also pearlescent. & I love silver linings.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I don't have any great insights today or any astounding travel stories to share. I just feel the need to write something on here. So. Cue the ramble. (But it will be a nicely organized ramble - with bullet points. chya)

1- If you hadn't notice, this here blog went & got itself a new face. Okay, so actually, I gave it a makeover. The blog just passed its first birthday & I felt like it was time for a slightly more mature color scheme. Incidentally, the photograph is one of my own, from a lovely Sunday afternoon spent in the park.

2- I should be writing a grammar paper right now, but I'm still looking for a thrilling topic. (not likely) Yes, these are real issues, courtesy of Quirk's A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language.
  • The intensifying use of coordination- Just gets more and more boring. blah.
  • Adjective and adverb homomorphis- What the heck!? Are the adjectives unhappy with their gender? What's next- surgery?
  • Complex transitive complementation- For some reason, all I can think of here is that awkward fumble for the right words when you basically want to tell someone that they look hot, but you want to say it discretely, cause you wouldn't want them to think you're too forward. But then, you want them to know you're not just BSing either, so you have to be genuine with your compliments. See what I mean? Complex complementation.
  • The relation between focus and new information - Now this could be useful - a study of why I zone out in class once they start talking about the same things again. Unfortunately, this has something to do with sentence structure & adverbials.
3- My capacity for wit is obviously somewhat deminished today. I guess I'm just a bit mopey. Recently, I've been on an awesome streak of destruction. I've hurt a lot of the people who mean the very most to me. Hence the slightly melancholy undertones in the recently re-shuffled blog playlist.

4- I miss simplicity. I want it back. I miss the pre-school bliss where right was right & wrong was wrong. But it doesn't work that way. It seems like anything worthwhile comes with some challenge. But maybe sometimes you have to take a dose of the bitter so you can appreciate the sweet. (see vs 20-21) Maybe you have to let go of something and wait for it to come back to you. If it doesn't come back, then you deal with that, let yourself hurt & heal, then just let it go.

5- One last thought - The idea of forgiveness has been on my mind a lot lately. I think this is one of the most difficult things we are asked to do - it requires compassion, empathy, & humility - none of which are always easy to come by. In LDS General Conference a few weeks ago, one of my favorite messages was from Dieter Uchtdorf of Germany, who spoke about love, healing, forgiveness, & following our Savior.

You can watch the talk or the entire conference HERE at

Or in parts one and two on youtube. Yay, internet.

My dear readers - thanks for listening.
Have a great day.
Enjoy the final flings of the fall foliage.
(I think I just scored 500 bonus points for alliteration. bam)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

down from the ceiling drips great noise

The little bits of creativity commonly known as "word verifications" never cease to amuse me. Maybe it's cause I like words so much. Maybe it's cause I like made-up words even more. Maybe I'm just really easily entertained.

Top winners for today:

scucka! - Okay, the exclamation mark is added - but doesn't it just feel necessary?

pishatang -I feel like this could be a name for an epic fish tank or a really cool scarf, likely neon.

dioink -This is now the official name for the like flick I sometimes give to the forehead of my dear ones who are behaving ridiculously.

pastshag -A little piece of hilarity shared by an unknown comrade on Martha's blog.

Also, I'm taking a cue from Martha's awesome blog, which I stalk diligently, & naming this post with a lyric from a great song by Mum. I first heard this song on a video for Rising Star Outreach made by the awesomely bearded Matt. I was smitten. With the song. & my little ones.

Speaking of Rising Star, our 5k Fun Run was a great success last Saturday! We raised well over $1,000 for the school in India. Much love & thanks to everyone who came to the run, donated, sent out facebook invites, or helped me out with flier distribution. You guys are the best!

Monday, October 12, 2009

This One's for Gooj

Today is my mommy's birthday! Cue the cake with lots of candles & a chorus of raucous happy birthday singing. But because she's kinda far away from me & I can't bake her a cake & jump on her, I thought I would do the next best thing - a photo essay of why I love her so much, complete with a couple of her favorite songs. yay!
She's so pretty - who would think she's turning 50?
& she can totally rock the pashmina.

She loves me even though I'm a pest & always takes me "The Way I Am."
bother bother bother bother bother!

She still holds me, even though I'm kinda big now.

She comes to see me at football games.

She poses ridiculously with me in front of nature's wonders.

She's got GREAT legs. *whistle* Foxy even at fifty.

She loves my daddy after over 30 years - she'll always be his "Brown Eyed Girl."
& they have really cool hairstyles. :D

She keeps our family from going totally insane.
I love my Gooj - she's so much more than just my mommy. She's my confidant, my late-night editor, my nurse, my head chef, & my bestest friend. We have our on language of movie quotes, silly quips, & old sayings. We are Goojah & Boojah. We have awesome dance parties & look at our reflection in the mirror as we "Sway." We sometimes we sing harmony with "Hallelujah" & sometimes we just sing out of tune. Gooj is the queen of silver linings; no matter how tough the going gets, she always finds a bright spot among the clouds.

They say your mother is the most influential person in your life - I know that's true for me. She taught me to walk (I still get pointers on how to walk in heels). She taught me to talk, which is why I say "market" instead of "grocery store." She has taught me how to love & how to forgive, how to be fearless & how to accept my limits. She taught me to swim, & she taught me how to stay afloat when it feels like everything is sinking. She taught me how to cook without paying much attention to recipes. She taught me how to be a duck. :) She taught me how to be me.

Much love always, Goojah!
Happy Birthday!
Cake date later?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Running for the Stars

Rising Star Outreach, the non-profit organization that I worked with in India, is hosting a 5k & breakfast to raise funds for the school in India. The run will be on the morning of October 10th in Timpanogos Park, just off the highway in Provo Canyon.

All money raised with go to support the kids in India.

This site has a great article & I link to the poster I designed - check it out!

You can also join the facebook event HERE!!!

If you like running, walking, super cute kids, or eating breakfast ( & who doesn't like at least one of those?!), this is the charity event for you! Please be there!

send an email to to register - only 10 bucks to run & that INCLUDES breakfast!