Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Changing the World

I got a card in the mail yesterday, inviting me to observe the anniversary of September 11 as a National Day of Service. The card referred me to this website, where I was able to pledge to do a good deed on or around September 11 in honor of those lost.



The site is very clear about the fact that our good deeds do not need to be of monumental proportions in order to be valid or make a difference. In fact, (as you can see from the logo above) the catch line of the movement is "Changing the World. One Good Deed at a Time."


As my 9/11 good deed, I've committed to write at least one heartfelt letter of thanks to a person currently deployed in the U.S. Armed Forces. Since I have no close friends or family who fit that description at the moment, I'm going to choose one of the sites listed here , and go from there.


Some other suggestions given on the website include: giving blood, donating to Goodwill, working for Habitat for Humanity, or donating money to a charitable organization. But really, it's totally up to us. We can choose what we want to do.



I think it's a nice way to commemorate the day, and I'm grateful that someone (or a bunch of someones) went to the trouble to remind me of the opportunity.



And that's it for today.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My second time ever being blog-tagged

Melissa tagged me to say eight unexpected things that happened on our family reunion trip.

(I'll be taking things from both reunions that we attended. We could have attended three, but we had a little miscommunication, and didn't realize that one for Eric's family was going on until the actual day--four hours away)


1. Eric saw and caught a horned toad for the very first time. (It's not unexpected to me that he saw one or caught one--but it is unexpected that it was his first time. I guess that's what happens when you grow up in Northern (vs. Southern) Utah)


2. My Great-Aunt Beth congratulated us on getting married, and asked us if we had any kids yet (we'd only been married three months at the time).


3. My mother put craisins in the annual Corry reunion trail mix instead of raisins.




4. I left my knock-off crocs (you know-those holey shoes) outside the tent for 2 full days and the sun melted them so much that one of them lost a size. So, I had to throw them away. (Bummer!)





5. We discovered that one of my nephews (he was five months old at the time) will stop crying almost immediately if you start singing, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" to him. No other song works. I tried a bunch of others, and that was the only one that would work. It didn't matter who sang it either. Definitely interesting, don't you think?











6. I was unseated from my "favorite aunt/uncle slot" as my nephew (Evan) asked Eric to sit next to his car seat in the van instead of me. (this after they had bonded on the ski lift and the alpine slide-fickle kid!)










7. We played volleyball and watched the kids play a version of t-ball and had water fights and ran races and sang songs, but the most fun event of the whole thing for me was watching five children dance to the different ringtones on my cell phone.


















And finally . . .



8. I ate carrot cake, and liked it.



I'm supposed to tag people now, I think eight of them. I don't think I know eight people who blog, especially if I can't tag those who Melissa already tagged (read: Jeri). So, I tag Heidi, Sparkles (Michelle), Jodi, Amy, and Jennie. I would tag Harmony, but I think she already got this tag a few weeks ago.



Oh-and it doesn't have to be eight unexpected things about a family reunion. It can just be eight random or unexpected things about anything. They don't even have to have anything in common with one another.



So, those are the rules, and this is the end of the post for today.

Hasta,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

An update

Well, greetings from Cedar City. I'm down here for a few days, where I've been spending time with my family and just relaxing a bit after the opera season. It's been a great time, packed with fun activities. Last night I went with my mom and two sisters-in-law to "Twelfth Night" at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and today we're going to follow that up by seeing a new musical version of "Lend Me a Tenor". In addition, we've chatted and played and read storybooks, and my mother helped me hem some pants for Eric (I'm sewing-disabled), and I've been doing a bit more reading and just enjoying having some down-time.

Unfortunately, Eric isn't here with me this time. He used all his vacation time on our honeymoon and with the various family reunions this summer, and so he's had to stay home and work. It's been a little odd to be here without him. I did so much traveling either on my own or with various travel companions when I was single that I'm surprised how quickly I got accustomed to having Eric around. But I did, and I miss him. Kind of a bummer, but it's probably a good sign as far as our marriage goes, right?

In addition to the Cedar report, I thought this would be a good time to give a little update on some of what I've reported lately. So, here goes:

As to Hillary Clinton, I finally finished listening to her book en route to Cedar. It was 19 CDs long, over 20 hours. In many ways I enjoyed the book, and in many ways it made me think. The funny thing is, when I finished the book (about an hour north of Cedar City) and for the rest of that afternoon and evening, I was basically processing things in the back of my mind as to how I felt about Hillary, and Obama, and Giuliani, and Mitt Romney, and (although to a lesser extent) the other candidates. I vacillated between wondering how much I can trust the story a person (Hillary) tells about themselves, vs. how much I can trust the story a person (or news anchor or magazine) tells about someone else. I'm still not sure what the trust level should be there.

However, the next morning, I happened to be watching the Iowa debate on television. All the Democratic candidates were there (no Republicans), and as I watched Hillary answer questions, I got kind of a weird feeling. I can't really explain what it was, except to say what it wasn't. It wasn't a positive feeling, but nor was it a terribly dark negative feeling. It was a kind of unsettled feeling I guess. It wasn't anything too dramatic though, so I'm not sure what it means.

What this all boils down to though is that basically, I'm back where I started. I listened to 20 hours of "Living History", and as far as my opinion on Ms. Clinton goes, I'm pretty much the same place I was when I started, which is mostly undecided, and a little confused. What's that about?

As to our reading adventures, while I've been here, I've been reading more of that new book I got a while back (Twilight), and I've really enjoyed it. Eric has also been enjoying 1776. For a while there, he told me pretty much every day how he was gaining more and more respect for George Washington. Isn't it nice when you find books that you just wholeheartedly enjoy?

And finally, As to my piano adventures, I spoke with the Primary President this week, and discovered that (in a classic case of miscommunication), I'm actually not wanted in the pianist capacity as much as I'm wanted in the chorister capacity. It appears that I'm probably going to be the chorister for the kids aged 3 to 8, and fill-in when necessary elsewhere (as a regular teacher, or chorister for the older kids). I'm going to keep trying to learn the Primary songs on the piano though, since I figure that can only be of help--both to me and to my ward. So, although I was willing to take on the challenge of the piano, I'm MUCH more comfortable with my current situation. Nice!!!

And that's it for today.

Hasta,

Char

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friends of the Road (And Friends of the Heart)

You might be tempted to skip the quote below, since it makes this entry a little on the long side. But, I wouldn't do that if I were you. The quote is probably the best part of the whole entry.

Why do friendships come and go? How does a once-bosom buddy wind up erased from your address book? Is a friendship that fades away necessarily a bad thing?

My first inkling that some friendships are meant to be fleeting came in the spring of my senior year of college. My friendships there had been especially intense. We’d bonded instantly and tightly, with meandering all-hours conversations about everything from the meaning of life to ‘What will we wear tonight?’ Once I came across a line that seemed to express perfectly my 21-year-old angst. It was from the novel Centennial: ‘He wished he could ride forever with these men, . . . But it could not be. Trails end, and companies of men fall apart.’

Of course! Some friendships are meant to be transitory. Like cowboys who had ridden herd together for miles, sharing dusty perils and round-the-campfire coffee, my college friends and I had come to the natural end of our path together. It was time to move on.

Absurdly obvious, the idea was nevertheless enormously comforting. It had once seemed like failure to me, to build a friendship only to have it squelched by sudden distance, either physical or emotional. You move across the country and struggle to replicate daily long walks with phone calls or letters. Or one of you has a baby, and the minutiae of changing diapers transform the bicycle-built-for-two that was your friendship into a lopsided three--legged stool.

And that’s okay. Because in addition to our friends of the heart-the traditional, everlasting ideal-life is rich with friends of the road who, like James Michener’s cowpokes, herd with you for a particular stretch and no farther. These brief friendships are equally intense, equally necessary, equally worth treasuring as any other, and for the duration of that ride you can’t survive without them.


-Paula Spencer in (where else?) Readers Digest


(Perhaps I should see if I can make some kind of monetary arrangement with Readers Digest. Heaven knows I mention them enough on this blog!)

Tayneshia in Paris

The quote above is one of my favorites. I found it years ago, and from time to time (especially when I feel that my friendships are being shaken up) I'll read it and it comforts me.

I can use the comfort at the moment, because I have two dear friends who will be moving within the next week. Yuck, yuck, yuck. (But, really, what can you do? Life moves on, and we all move on with it. That's the way things go, and it's probably for the best that way. But I don't have to like it today now, do I?)

I could go on about how I met Tayneshia and how I met Katerina, and the great times I've had with each of them, but it would probably take more time than I have to write, and more time that you have to read. So, I'll just say that I met them both, and we've had great great times together.

Katerina and I at a Chilean Deli in Salt Lake City

Next Friday Tayneshia will head home to Houston where she will be able to be closer to her big, loud, somewhat-obnoxious-but-mainly-just-a-lot-of-fun family, and Katerina will be going back to Idaho where she will be living in a home with a guest room (she was sure to tell me of that benefit) and filling the minds of young elementary schoolers.

And I'll be staying here with Eric.

I'll miss them both terribly, and I secretly hope that they will miss me as well. But, when all is said and done, the three of us will continue to be basically happy, and we'll each make new friends, and have new experiences. And we're surely all the better for having laughed together for a while.

That's what I think, anyway.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Tale of Echo


Once upon a time, there was a girl named Charlotte. She attended Church in a student ward, where she met many new friends and was very happy. In her very first student ward, there was a girl named Echo. Charlotte had known Echo for a few years at that time, because they had been neighbors before college. Echo was pretty and friendly and had a warm smile pretty much every time Charlotte saw her. Echo was a talented volleyball and basketball player, and she might have even been the Homecoming Queen when she was a Senior (although I can't remember that for certain). Echo seemed to make friends with the greatest of ease and was one of those girls that people just liked to be around, because you just felt better about yourself and everything else when you were with Echo.


Anyway, when Charlotte and Echo were in the same student ward all those years ago, Echo was the pianist for the Relief Society. Now, Echo was not quite as talented at playing the piano as she was in so many other areas. In fact, there were times when Charlotte would look around the room and wonder why Echo had been asked to play the piano when there were so many other sisters that could have done the job, many of them with more skill and less effort than Echo. These contemplative moments generally came during songs in which many consecutive wrong notes were played, to the point that it was even sometimes difficult to be sure what song the group was supposed to be singing.


Not that Charlotte (or anyone else) minded. Echo always had a smile, and sometimes a light laugh when she made those blunders, and it never detracted from the meeting or anything like that.


At the end of the summer, Echo stood during the last Sunday that the ward would be meeting together, and thanked the sisters for being patient and tolerant with her and her piano playing. She told of when she had been asked to fill this particular assignment, and the trepidation she had felt about it all, knowing what her level of piano proficiency was. She told of how she had decided that if this was what the Bishop would like her to do, then she would accept the assignment, and do the best that she could. She spoke of the times that she had been embarrassed as she heard the wrong notes coming from her fingers, and she spoke of the gratitude that she had that the sisters had been so accepting and encouraging of her efforts. And she said that she was grateful to have had the experience of playing the piano in Relief Society.


Two weeks later, Echo was asked to be the Relief Society President of her student ward. (the Relief Society President is arguably the most challenging, rewarding, and time-consuming assignment a woman can receive in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is basically in charge of overseeing the welfare of all the women in the ward, and by extension of that, all the families in the ward) . Charlotte was in that ward as well, and she was impressed by what a good president Echo was, and how caring and optimistic she was about her duties and her opportunities. (One of the first things Echo did was request that a new pianist be called!)


Charlotte never forgot the example that Echo had shown that summer. She remembered it time and time again, especially when she was asked to fill roles where she didn't feel comfortable or adequate. And then, about 18 years after that summer, Charlotte, (whose piano skills are also less than ideal) was asked to be the pianist (and fill-in chorister) for the Primary in her ward. She was nervous, and didn't really think she would be able to do a very good job there. But, she remembered Echo, and agreed to give it her best shot.


And then Charlotte went home and started practicing like she'd never practiced before!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Just playin' around

I wore a hairband today. Why do I do that? Hairbands always make me feel like my brains are going to be squeezed out my ears. It's only 11:18 a.m., which means I've been wearing the hairband for less than two hours, and I already have a headache. Silly girl.

(the hairband is out now--by the way)

It was a nice weekend. The operas closed on Saturday night, and it was a successful season, with good shows and great ticket sales. It's always nice when it works out that way. Friday Eric and I took a break from the opera business and went out to dinner and to a movie. We ate Chinese Food (I had Kung Pao Tofu, Eric had Kansaw (sp?) Shrimp. We shared entrees, and the Tofu was gone long before the Shrimp. Who would have thought?) and saw the Fantastic Four Movie at the cheap (used-to-be-called-dollar) theatre. I liked it just fine, and Eric liked it even better than fine. So, it was a great evening.

Saturday we ran some errands and went shopping. We were in the neighborhood of our local Deseret Book, and so we went in to look there. When we left, we were each in possession of a little present. I had a copy of "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyer*, and Eric had the audio CDs for "1776" by David McCullough. Yippee! What a treat! Best of all, we didn't have to pay a dime, because we used the gift card that the Packers gave us for our wedding. (I know you're reading this--so THANKS!)

And that's pretty much the state of things at the moment.


*Eric had told me about this book over two months ago. He had been eavesdropping on a conversation he heard in Borders about it, and decided that it sounded like something that would be interesting to me. When he told me that it featured some kind of vampire element, I wasn't all that gung-ho. But, I just keep running into favorable reviews, so I finally decided to read it. I read the first three pages Saturday night, just to get a taste, and I have to say that the story is pretty engaging- right from the start.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

anonymous anger (or at least annoyance!)

Why do I allow myself to get upset with people that I don't know? I've found that I'm especially prone to doing this on the telephone, unfortunately.

Yesterday I made a call to a woman who basically has the same job that I have, but for a different organization. There was a discrepancy regarding a payment I had sent for my company, and I had left about three messages for her, none of which were ever returned.

By the time I finally connected with her, I was frustrated. I must have been pretty curt with her, because she became defensive almost immediately, and what could have been an easy, unremarkable conversation turned into something so unpleasant that when it was all over I actually (albeit briefly) considered calling the manager of the company to "tattle" on her, telling him that if that was the way they treated customers then I might need to encourage our people to go elsewhere for these particular needs.

Fortunately I cooled off before I did anything that rash or unnecessary, and now I'm just contemplating the whole experience a bit.

Perhaps if I hadn't been so frustrated, she wouldn't have gotten defensive, and the conversation could have been just like one of the other 15-20 conversations that I have with various people every day.

With any luck, I've learned something from the experience though, and the next time I'm tempted to treat someone with rudeness or a lack of courtesy, I'll be able to reign myself in.

Let's hope so!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Yoga Club


I taught my last yoga lesson for a while today.

Well, probably.

Almost every summer, my friend Vanessa moves herself and a bunch of her stuff out here for ten weeks while she rehearses and performs in our summer opera season. (for those of you who are familiar with our offerings this year, she plays Tony's sister Marie in Most Happy Fella and Captain Andy's wife Parthy in Showboat. )

Anyway, Vanessa is an avid yoga-practicer, and so once she arrives for the summer, we start up our own little yoga class. We take turns on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, teaching and practicing yoga. I teach on Tuesdays, and Vanessa teaches on Thursdays. I teach my own version of Iyengar yoga (which I picked up from my old friend Judith, and have supplemented by reading Yoga Journal, Yoga for Dummies, and Yoga Beats the Blues) and Vanessa teaches a version of Kundalini yoga, with some Pilates mixed in there as well.

Almost every year (for many years now), we follow what ends up being the same pattern. At the beginning of the season, we have anywhere from two to ten people in the class, mostly women, but with some men thrown in there as well. The vast majority of the participants are employed in the technical (i.e.-backstage) areas of our operation here, although we do get an occasional singer, and we have one flautist that is rather religious about coming.

As we get into the tech rehearsal and dress rehearsal period, one by one, everyone except for me, Vanessa, and the flautist (whose name is Paula, by the way) fall by the wayside, preferring their comfortable beds and pillows to the higher rewards that come from stretching the limbs and spine, and consciously monitoring the breath. The delinquents generally don't make it back during the 5-week performance period, and so we become a little three-person yoga club through the end of the season.

Our closing night is this Saturday, which makes today the last Tuesday of the opera season. On Thursday Vanessa will teach for the last time, and then our little opera club will be on hiatus until next June. Vanessa will go back to Boston, Paula will go back to Tucson, and I will stay here. Hopefully I'll do a little bit of yoga on my own over the next 10 months, either in my guest bedroom, or at the rec center, or in a class somewhere else.

Otherwise, I just may be in agony when we start up again next June!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wow! Isn't THAT the truth?

There's a blog that I discovered about a month or so ago, and now I check in with from time to time. This morning I checked it out and found an entry that I just love. It resonates with me almost perfectly. I'll post the link below, and you can check it out as well (if you so desire).

Isn't that just great? So down-to-earth, so easy.

Now if I can just remember it the next time I get moved from star to cameo in someone elses movie!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why our bed is unmade today

So, last night as I was driving home from work, I looked up into the mountains above my house and was surprised to see that they were on fire. (You can go here for a video with details on the whole thing).

I was only a little bit worried, because the fire didn't seem to be affecting any of the residential areas, although I did consider what would happen if the fire came all the way down to our townhomes (after consuming several miles of homes closer to the action than we are). I figured we would be evacuated, and took comfort in the thought that the fire insurance on our belongings is up-to-date. Then I realized that the insurance on the actual structure of our homes is paid by our Homeowners Association, and I wondered if that was up-to-date (I'm sure it is), and what would happen if it wasn't. Then I decided that I shouldn't follow that line of thought any longer.

By then I had picked up the mail, and was in the kitchen, looking for a little after-work/pre-dinner snack. As I opened the refrigerator, I noticed that the bulb in our refrigerator had burned out. Then I noticed that all the light bulbs in our house had burned out as well, and that the air conditioner had gone on the fritz too. That's when I finally noticed (after having been home for at least 30 minutes) that we were without power in our home.

Eric wasn't home yet, and so as my imagination started revving up, I started looking around the house for a radio that was battery powered. I was amazed to discover that Eric and I have between us a total of five stereos, each of which is equipped with a radio. I was dismayed to discover that not a single one of those radios had batteries loaded. Funny how you take things (like electrical power) for granted, isn't it?

Luckily, at that point, I remembered the 72-hour kit that I had lovingly packed for myself back in November of 1999 (when I was worried about the looming Y2K crisis). I pulled it out of the closet, rummaged around, and found the small sports radio I had purchased for just such an occasion. Within minutes I was connected to up-to-the-minute details on the fire, the power outage, as well as the traffic of curious fire viewers who were driving up to see the fire (and clogging up the road, thus hindering the fire relief efforts).

When Eric came home, we decided that rather than try to forage berries from the container garden in the backyard, we would go out for dinner to a part of the valley that had power, which we did, enjoying a lovely meal, and arriving back home around 9:00 p.m. to find our house completely dark. After puttering around for a bit, we eventually went to bed, and aside from our home being a little warmer than it often is, life was just about the same as usual.

Until about 3:00 this morning, when our bedroom light (which I had forgotten to turn off before falling asleep) turned on full blaze as the air-conditioner kicked on and (I'm assuming) the refrigerator light also burst into action.

After being awoken so abruptly, it took me about another hour or so to fall back asleep, and once I did, I didn't want to wake up again when my alarm went off a few hours later. So, I pressed snooze much more than I usually do, which meant I overslept, which meant that when I finally did wake up, I only had enough time to throw on some clothes, stick my hair in a ponytail, and run out the door.

And that is why our bed is unmade today.
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