Friday, March 30, 2007

Lions in the Driveway

So, there's this house that I end up running or walking by a couple of times a week during my morning exercise. It's a basic small house, probably 2-3 bedroom (if the basement is finished) with fairly nondescript gray (or maybe it's creme) siding, a small garage, sitting on a regular size lot, which is landscaped very simply, more or less with grass and nothing else. It's just your basic, garden variety house--not an eyesore or anything, but definitely nothing about it really attracts any attention. I was going to take a picture of it when I went running this morning, but I didn't have my camera. Then I was going to take a picture of it when I went home for lunch, but I forgot.

Well, probably about a week or two ago, these two ornate lions showed up on either side of the driveway of this home. You know what I'm talking about? Here's a picture below to give you a general idea. The picture isn't from the house (it's actually from e-bay), so don't pay any attention to the brick surroundings, the granite walkway, or the pictures. Just imagine lions (kind of like this, but not exactly) on either side of a very ordinary looking driveway, in front of a very ordinary looking, small house.

So, I'm walking by the house this morning and it gets me thinking. What's the story with this? Is this a family that just likes lions? Are these people who bought these lions at a garage sale and just had to display them? Or, did they scrimp and save for years so that they could realize their dream of having a home that is guarded by stone lions? Or, (this is my favorite one) is this just the first of a very slow transformation that will be happening with this house? Will I walk by one day in about 2-3 months to find gargoyles on the roof , and then a year later a moat around the vegetable garden? (actually, there's not vegetable garden. Not yet anyway)

I don't know. I want to know though. Maybe I'll see if I can't catch someone outside soon and ask them. Or maybe I'll just march up there and knock on the door and ask them.

But, I probably won't.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Farewell Chris!

So, Tayneshia sends me a text message last night (as I'm writing out thank-you cards) with the bad news that my favorite American Idol Chris Sligh was voted off the show this week. He might very well have been my favorite American Idol of all time, but now he's gone. All I can say is that it's a good thing I've been distracted for the past while, and haven't been following AI with the "rabid-ness" that I have in years past, or this could be a real blow. As it is, it just leaves me without a favorite. Oh well.

I recently realized that I was so upset about my computer problems on Tuesday that I didn't even mention the bridal shower that I had the previous Saturday. It was GREAT. About 20-25 of my dearest friends came, and we ate chicken salad croissants (and homemade doughnuts), played one shower game (in which people read various statements and tried to determine which one applied to Eric and which one applied to me), and opened present after present after present. Eric and I are now the proud owners of an ice cream maker, a creme brulee set, a beautiful hand made (yellow!) afghan, a crepe-maker, some nice queen size sheets, towels, a bunch of gift cards, and a whole bunch of other stuff, a few of which are items that are probably a little too delicate to mention here. But, you get the idea.

Anyway, it was great.

So, aside from having no real reason to tune into American Idol anymore, life is going really quite well.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The "pretty-close-to-the-best" of times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

Well, as I mentioned in the post that I just wrote, it actually isn't even close to the worst of times, although it is pretty close to being the best of times.

I'm going visiting teaching today. It's my turn to give the lesson, and so this morning I looked it over as part of my daily scripture study period. Actually, just for kicks, I think I'll forgo the "best of times" stuff (it's just more sappy "I'm in love with a wonderful guy"* rantings anyway), and instead give a general description of what a usual scripture study session with Charlotte entails. Remember though, I'm an accountant. So, this session is probably going to be so orderly and persnickety that it will astound, amaze, and even possibly disgust you. That's okay. It works for me, and it doesn't bother me in the least if it doesn't work for anyone else.

6:50 a.m. --Alarm Clock rings
7:00 a.m.--Alarm Clock rings again
7:10 a.m.--Alarm Clock rings for the last time

7:15 a.m.--I get on my knees for prayer

7:20 or 7:23 a.m.--I get off my knees, and pull out my "gratitude book". The next 2-5 minutes are spent recording a few of the blessings that I have in my life.

7:25 a.m.--I open the Book of Mormon. I've been reading the Book of Mormon in kind of an odd fashion for about 3 years now. I look up every single footnote, except for those that refer to the topical guide only. It's been interesting, but it takes a LOT of time. I took a break from this method so that I could do President Hinckley's Challenge, but once I'd done that, I was back to my old ways. I'm in 3rd Nephi now. I'm really looking forward to finishing up and going back to reading the normal way, but since I only read for 5-7 minutes a day (as you will see), it will be awhile. I'd give up, but I'm so close I just can't bring myself to do it.

7:30 or 7:32 a.m.--I read a few paragraphs or pages from the last Conference Ensign, depending on what talk I read the day before.

7:35 a.m.--I open the New Testament, which I am studying along with a commentary. I decided a few months ago that I wanted to get better informed about the life of Jesus Christ, as well as his teachings. So, this is one way that I'm going about it.

7:45 a.m.--Scripture study time is over for another day.

I know my system is overly regimented, and I do divert from it when I need to (as in the case of this morning, when I skipped the Book of Mormon, Conference Ensign, and New Testament, and just studied the Visiting Teaching Message). But, that's the general gist of how it works for me. What can I say? I like it. Call me neurotic (some do), call me a control freak (I'm not as tolerant of this one), call me beautiful, refreshingly honest, adorable, and darling (that's one I really prefer). Whatever fits I guess.

This post is a bit more random than I was planning it to be. Oh well. Next time will be more grounded.


*10 points to the person who can first name the musical from which this phrase comes.

The "not-exactly-the-best" of times

It's been the best of times, it's been the worst of times. . .

Well, actually, that's not exactly true. It's actually been pretty close to the best of times, and not even close to the worst of times. So, here comes a description of some of the bad stuff.

Today I upgraded from Microsoft Office 2000 to Microsoft Office 2007. Heed a word of advice from a wiser, sadder Charlotte. NEVER EVER EVER go seven years without updating software! It's been frustrating, maddening, discouraging, and in short a general nightmare. The main problem has been with the mail merge function which is completely different in Office 2007 than it was in 2000. I try to get my data (in Excel), to come into my document (in Word) and it comes over in a completely different format than what I'm expecting.

For example: The main use I have for the mail merge feature in Word is that I use it to generate all the contracts for the people who come here for our opera season. So, every singer, every musician, every costumer, every props artisan, every person who hammers a nail into every piece of plywood to make our beautiful scenery receives a contract that is generated by yours truly. It ends up being about 200 different contracts.

Well, today, after the upgrade, I went in and tried to put together a contract for one of our props people. The start dates, end dates, and payment dates came over in random numbers, making it impossible to tell when the contract started, ended, or when payments were to be paid. Kind of important, don't you think? The worst part though was when I looked at the actual number to be paid. Instead of being a nice round number, like $1,000 or $50, or $100,000 (no, no one actually makes $100,000 here!), it came over in date format. So, rather than being paid $10 on August 23, 2007 my dear props person was scheduled to be paid 2 February 1647, on 389997.

It was awful. I couldn't figure out how to fix it, so I looked in the help menu, which was rather unhelpful. I tried some more, all the while getting more and more frustrated as I looked at the stack of other work that seemed to be growing on my desk, not getting done. Finally I called Eric, not because I thought he would be able to tell me how to fix it (he wasn't), but because I thought he would cheer me up. He did. After talking to Eric, I took a walk around the block, put it all aside for 30 minutes, got some other work done, and came back to it with a little more creativity. I was finally able to jerry-rig it so that it worked for my needs, and then about an hour ago I found some very helpful information on a message board that I think will go a long way towards me being able to do it without the jerry-rigging. But still, what a frustrating day!

I think this is going to be a two post day--because I have to get to the good stuff, but this post is already long enough. So, I guess this will just be a "not-as-happy" post.

Friday, March 23, 2007

updates and pics

I have yet another random assortment of photos for you all again today. This assortment is unique in that there are people in every single photograph. You just never know what you're going to get, do you?

First--an update:

We were able to get 125 new announcements printed, and these announcements have the added bonus of having the names of both Eric's and my parents listed. Nice. Last night I went out to Eric's parent's house and we spent the evening entering addresses in the computer, printing labels, looking at pictures, and choosing what clothing we should wear to the various events having to do with the wedding. (which will take place three weeks from tomorrow! Yippee!)

So, although I still wish it wouldn't have happened the way it did, and there still are 800 incomplete announcements out there, the fact is that things turned out about as good as they probably could have, and so I'm grateful.

As to my place in dishboy's NCAA tournament challenge, I've slipped from being tied for second to being tied for fourth. I'm now tied with my brother Robert, and trailing my sister-in-law Maegan, dishboy's friend Justin, and the guy that I don't know. I'm ahead of dishboy, scullery maid, my brothers Mark & Doug, my cousin Tim, and dishboy's friend Kade. I'm thinking that I will probably slip even lower before we're through though, because, as you might remember, I picked Maryland to lose to Georgetown in the final, and Maryland didn't even survive their second game. Hopefully I'll do better next year.

And with all that writing, I think I'd just better briefly talk about these pictures. The one above is of my niece and nephew. How cute are they?

This one to the right is Bonita Juanita reading "The Lorax" to my nephew. It was taken over a year ago, on a trip we made out there together.

This one is me and Tayneshia eating craw fish in the home of one of Tayneshia's aunts a few years ago. (It was my first time eating craw fish)

And this is me, sitting on a rock in the Bahamas in November of 2005.

And I think that's enough for now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dang it!!

So, you remember that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Do you remember the scene where they are sitting around the table in Toula's house, talking about their announcement, and Toula's mom says that they don't need to worry about the wedding announcements because she's taken care of them? And then she goes to the kitchen cupboard, and brings out these hideous blue and white announcements, much to Toula's dismay? And then, John Corbett's character casually brings out the point that his parents are listed on the announcement at Rodney and Harry, instead of their names, which are Rodney and Harriet?

Well, at least their names were ON the announcements.

Yes, it is true. If you look at our wedding announcement, it features two beautiful pictures of Eric and I, and a lovely scene of a waterfall with pretty icicles and lovely roses and rose petals. And then, if you look closely, you may notice that while my parents are listed quite prominently in the wording, Eric's parents are strangely missing, almost as if Eric is some motherless child or something.

I discovered this little fact yesterday, exactly four days after I had sent out over 800 of these beautiful pieces of paper. I'm a little bit more philosophical about it all now, but I was terribly upset about it yesterday and this morning. The thing is, it's totally my fault. I'm pretty sure that when I gave the wording to the printer, Eric's parents names were there. However, I'm also reasonably sure that when I looked at the proof of the announcement, they weren't. I can't believe that I didn't notice that, but the fact is that I didn't. I feel awful. I adore Eric's parents. I really can't imagine a better family for me to marry into, and I feel just terrible about this mistake.

As soon as the mistake was pointed out to me (by Dorothea who called to question why we had chosen not to list them), I called Eric's parents and spoke to his dad. I told him how sorry I was about it, and he just laughed and told me if I was going to call them, that I should at least be talking to them about something important and nothing silly like this. Then Eric came over and I pointed it all out to him. He smiled, hugged me, wiped the tears off my face, and told me that he didn't care and that he knew his parents wouldn't care either. He told me that there are many worse things, and this wasn't nearly as big of a deal as I was making it. Then he hugged me some more, and we went for a walk in the canyon and to visit our friend Lillian (who will at some point need a blog entry all her own, because she is a character! She has a dog, a cat, three birds, 5 spiders, a turtle, 4 cockroaches, a snake, and who knows what else, all in a two bedroom apartment!)

In thinking about it all, I'm still bummed. I loved those announcements. I thought they were so pretty, and Eric looks so handsome in them. But now, the main thing I'll remember about them is my stupid mistake with them. Rats.

But, there are many things to be grateful in this whole situation. I'm lucky that my parents-to-be are so down-to-earth and good-natured. I'm lucky that if there was going to be a mistake that it wasn't something like a wrong date or a wrong address. I'm lucky to be getting married to such a great guy in the first place. I'm lucky that we're both healthy and happy and that all the things that were going for us a week ago are still going for us today. I'm lucky that we both have jobs, and that we have a place to live, and that we are less than four weeks away from our glorious wedding day.

So really, all in all, I'm quite a lucky girl.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Remember the Titans! (?)

Well, it's been a few very busy and eventful days. But, things are good.

The funeral that we had for my grandmother was good. I laughed more at this funeral than I think I've ever laughed at any funeral before. It was a nice change. Two of my uncles spoke, along with one of my aunts. My father, along with some of his siblings, shared a memory or two of experiences they had had with my grandmother. I sang an arrangement of "I Stand All Amazed" with my cousin. The arrangement is for SATB, but my sister-in-law worked it out so that we could sing it as a duet. Nice.

You may be wondering why I laughed so much--as that isn't usual for funerals. I think this funeral was a little bit different. My grandmother had been suffering for several years, and her quality of life wasn't good, to say the least. That's not to say that she wanted to die, because she didn't (actually, if she had wanted to die, I think she probably would have managed to do it long ago). But, she had lived a good life, and was well prepared (in my opinion) to meet God, and those family members who had gone before, and so the funeral was more of a celebration of her life than anything else. Add that to the fact that my father's family tend to be a group of people who are more inclined to laugh (at themselves more than at other people) than the population as a whole, and it makes for a much lighter funeral than you might otherwise have.

In other news, I'm currently tied for second place in dishboy's annual NCAA bracket-picking challenge. I'm trailing scullery maid, who is in first, and I'm tied with my brothers Robert & Mark, as well as dishboy's friend Justin, and some guy I don't know. I've picked Maryland and Georgetown to duke it out in the final, with Georgetown winning the whole thing. I'm hoping for the best.

And the last thing for today is that Liz has posted some of my bridals on her website. Kind of fun.

So, there that is. Tonight Eric and I are celebrating my birthday, since I spent most of it en route to the funeral. We're having a light dinner at home, and then Eric is taking me out for dessert at the place that has the best desserts in town (Cabin Fever Cafe for all you locals). Afterward we will either to to The Queen, We are Marshall, or Premonition at the movie theatre, or we'll stay home and watch Remember the Titans on video. R.T.Titans is one of my all-time favorite movies, and thus far, Eric has been resistant to seeing it. So, I may play the "It's my birthday treat" card. Or, maybe I won't.

You may never know how this turned out. The agony of suspense!

Monday, March 12, 2007


So, this is the second post of the day. The last post was full of fun and joy. This one is a bit more contemplative.

When my dad was seven years old, his mother developed cancer of the brain, and died, leaving six children ages 18 (or so) to 3 (or so). My dad doesn't really talk about those days too much, especially about his mother. I think part of the reason is that it makes him sad, and part of the reason is that he really doesn't remember that much. I don't know about you, but my memories from about age 9 or so and younger are pretty hazy.

Anyway, a few years later, my grandfather met an amazing woman. Her name was Iris, and she was a friend of my grandfather's sister. She was living in Denver at the time that they met, and my grandfather was living in Cedar City. They met in Salt Lake, on what was kind of like a blind date, in the loosest sense. They got along quite well, and as Iris went back to Denver and my grandpa went back to Cedar, they continued to write letters back and forth.

Well, to make a long-ish story shorter, they got married. Iris moved from big Denver to very little Cedar City, and became an instant mother to six children. Iris was older when she married, I think even a little bit older than I am now. I've had my fair share of adventure in the past 15 years, but Iris' life makes my life look absolutely hum-drum. She worked for the FBI, she was on the Young Women General Board of the LDS Church, she wrote and published numerous articles and poems. She lived in Salt Lake City, and Denver, and Washington D.C. She was used to a certain lifestyle, and and certain freedom, and she gave it all up to move to a very little town in Southern Utah and take care of a very big family.

I asked grandma one time how she had managed to make such a big change, and be "okay" with taking care of all those children. She looked at me with a wry smile (one that I saw many times) and said, "Well, I knew that I loved Elwood, and the kids were kind of a bonus." She sent me a card about a week after that conversation, gently berating me for even having to ask, and cautioning me not to discount any men (in my dating adventures) just because he might have a child or two (or six).

Grandma and grandpa soon had another child, and so the family grew to seven children, four boys and three girls. They all married, and last December I was able to see almost all of them as we gathered at my uncles house to celebrate Iris' 89th (I think) birthday. It was a great evening with good food, and even better entertainment. My uncle had asked that we have a talent show of sorts, and so there were songs, and piano solos, and poems read. It was a great night. Eric and I had been engaged for a week or so at that point, and that night he met my grandma, and about thirty other relatives, all for the first time.

A few years ago, when grandma started getting old, and started losing some of the freedoms that she was used to (driving, living alone, all that good stuff), I decided that the least I could do for her would be to write her a letter a few times a month. I was a little intimidated to do it, because she was a writer by trade and training, and I wasn't. But, I did it anyway. By the time I started, grandma was too frail to do much writing on her own. So, we didn't exactly have a correspondence between us. But, whenever I would see her (which was nearly every time I was in Cedar City), she would hug me and tell me how much she appreciated my letters.

The opportunity to write those letters has meant the world to me. It means the world to me especially now, because on Saturday night my mother called to tell me that grandma had passed away peacefully and without pain. I'll miss her. I've been missing her for about five years now. But, how grateful I am for the memories I have of her and our time together. And how very very grateful I am that she left a life of freedom and fun to be my dad's mother, and my grandmother.

I will always be grateful for that.

A weekend of revelry

I'm going to try to do two blog entries today. That's because it turned out to be a very busy weekend, and with two pretty distinct sets of activities and emotions. This entry will be about the glorious bachelorette weekend, which was nothing but great, great, great!

I was going to write a big ole' travel log here about our minute-by-minute adventures, but I think I'll just go ahead and do a list:

  • All the girls (except Elenita)* looked at mine and Eric's engagement pictures, and were appropriately impressed.

  • We ate lunch at a Chilean Deli, where the food was both (apparently) authentic and (absolutely) delicious.

  • We saw the Joseph Smith movie at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. I cried. No one else did. I can't believe I was the only crybaby.

  • We went shopping, much to the joy of Bonita Juanita. I was kind of on the hunt for a yellow umbrella, since I thought it would be kind of a fun prop for my bridal pictures. I love yellow umbrellas. I even have one, but it's a little hammered, since I use it every time it rains. Anyway, I didn't find one. Oh well.

  • We ate dinner at P.F. Chang, one of my favorites. We had to wait a mind-bending 90 minutes for a table, but since we're all pretty chatty girls, it wasn't as much of a hardship as you might have thought it would be.

  • Five of us (but not me or Camilla) took a carriage ride around temple square. I had already had that experience back in high school, and so when we found that the carriages would only fit four or five people, Camilla and I volunteered to stay behind.

  • Camilla and I were supposed to meet the others back at the hotel after their carriage ride, but they beat us back, because we got lost, for a change. I don't know what it is about Camilla and I, but every time we are alone together, we get lost. Now, San Diego, and Orlando I understand. But downtown Salt Lake City? I've spent weeks and weekends there since I was seven years old! The whole town is laid out on a perfect grid system! It's impossible to get lost there. But, we did. We had been alone together for no more than 10 minutes before we had made a wrong turn and ended up blocks from where we needed to be. Sigh.

  • Some of us chatted and giggled the night away, although I was conked out by 11:30 p.m. What's THAT all about?

  • We attended church the next day with a branch made up entirely of Family History missionaries. We had kind of hoped to just "blend in" with the members there, but since we were the only people to be seen without name tags, wrinkles, or un-died grey hair, that plan kind of fell through. It was a fun couple of meetings though.

  • And then, we were on our way back home.

It was a glorious weekend. I'm hoping (and planning) that these will be some of those friendships that will last post-marriage. Men are great, and Eric is especially special, but sometimes you just need a little girl time, ya know?

Yeah, you know, and so do I. And, luckily for me, this weekend I got some real, quality, treasure-full girl time.


*Have you noticed that the vast majority of my friends have names here that end in the sound "a"? I have no explanation for that.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Courage? or Foolishness?

Today I spoke on Utah Public Radio.

It was scary. I don't like talking in front of people. I don't like talking into a phone, knowing that my words are being broadcast over the airwaves and on the internet. I especially don't like doing any of that on the spur of the moment, when I haven't taken hours (or better yet, days) to determine what I'm going to say, and how I'm going to say it, and practice. I'm a fairly deliberate person, I guess you could say.

But, this morning I was getting ready for work, listening to Utah Public Radio. On Fridays and Mondays they do a program called "Open Forum", where two commentators (one of whom happens to be a friend of mine) talk about the latest Utah headlines, and the phones are open for anyone to call and make their own comments or ask their own questions.

Well, today they were talking about the legislative session, and how the Utah Legislature appropriated $800,000 for the renovation of a theatre that is owned by the company I work for. As they were talking, there was some information that needed to have a little bit of clarification if the true picture were to be shown.

I agonized over it, feeling like someone should call with the clarification, but not wanting to be the one to do it. I thought about calling one of the other staff members, many of whom spend much more time in front of groups, telling "our story" than I do. But, I doubted that I would be able to accurately describe what had been said and what needed to be said, and so anyone calling in would basically be flying blind, and that often has less-than-ideal results.

So, I screwed up my courage and called.

It went alright. I wasn't suave and smooth and easy-like-Sunday-morning, but I think I made the necessary point, and then I was able to get off the phone and off the air.


*I tried very hard to make this entry free of wedding talk, just for those of you who are tired of hearing about my wedding, my love, my sappiness, and my man. Don't get used to this though.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

a little bad, but mostly good

Some not-as-good things in my life at the moment:

  • I have a piano lesson today and I've only practiced one time all week. I hate it when I do that.
  • I tried to send the funniest home video ever to my siblings, but the file is too big, and so I'm going to have to post it on youtube instead.
  • I've gained back two of the four "fit-into-the-wedding-dress-beautifully" pounds that I lost.

Some really really good things in my life at the moment:

  • We were able to look at the proofs for our engagement pictures last night. They turned out really really good, and we went ahead and ordered our announcements. So, that ball is officially rolling now. Yippee!
  • Tonight I'm going to the temple with Dorothea. I grew up in an area where I had to travel about an hour to get to a temple. Now, it's just a matter of a 5 minute drive.
  • Saturday one of my aunties hosted a bridal shower for me. Many of my aunts and cousins came, as well as my mom and one of my sisters-in-law. In addition, many of Eric's aunts and cousins came, as well as his mother and one of his sisters-in-law. Everyone laughed and chatted, and it was really just a great great time.
  • It's starting to warm up outside. This morning I went running and I didn't even have to wear my ear band.
  • The weekend bachelorette party (see here for the explanation of that) is scheduled to take place in less than four days!
  • My initials are not going to change much once I get married, because both my maiden name and my married name will begin with the letter "C".
And I think that's enough for today.

Friday, March 02, 2007

endings and beginnings

Well, not too much is going on at the moment. My mom is in town, and so we've been playing and chatting, and all of that, which has been nice. Tonight Eric's parents are coming over for dinner, and then tomorrow is the big family bridal shower. Presents! Yippee!

Last night we had our Relief Society Birthday party. It was the last enrichment meeting that I will be attending before I get married and leave my ward. I've been attending a singles ward for nearly three years now, and somewhat to my surprise, I have really enjoyed it there. For the last 15 months or so, I've been serving as the enrichment counselor in the Relief Society Presidency. In some ways that has been a bit of a stretch for me, but mostly it has been a calling that I have really loved.

So, I went to the meeting last night, knowing that it would be the last time I would have to be in on the organization and set-up and clean-up of one of those meetings, and feeling a fair amount of glee about that little fact. We had a dinner (Stouffer's lasagna with garlic bread and green salad) and a really great musical program. (I had almost nothing to do with the musical program, which is why I can say that it was really great without being conceited) As I was listening to one of the songs, I looked into the faces of some of the singers and some of the other women in the room, and I started thinking about how much I'm going to miss seeing them every week, and working with them. At one point, it was all I could do not to start crying. What good memories I have made with these dear women.

So, it was a bittersweet evening. That's kind of how life goes sometimes, isn't it? Aren't we lucky to be able to experience so much?

*If you are not familiar with the term "enrichment meeting" or "relief society", and would like a little more information, you can go here and here .

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