Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pumpkins, Cars, Fondue, and Stars


Well, it's been a busy few days. Busy but enjoyable. That might just be my favorite way of life.


Last night Eric and I had our first ever "Capricious Captivating Cantwell Carving Commemoration" (man, am I good or what?). It was just lovely. We each had a pumpkin to carve. As it turned out, one of us was finished with the pre-cut drawing, scooping, cutting, adding of candle, testing with candle, and cleaning off the sides within about 20 minutes. The other one of us took an extra 20 minutes or so to finish his project. (One of us is an accountant, and one of us is an artist.) One of us created a jack-o-lantern that was incredibly generic (except for the sunglass lines leading from the eyes, which are supposed to look like sunglass shades), and the other one of us created something rather original and unique.

But, we both had a good time, and it turned out to be a great evening. (One thing--when you look at that picture below, know that I'm obviously taking it myself, (because Michelangelo had quite enough on his plate with his orange canvas, and I didn't think it was fair to ask him to take photos as well.) I think because I did it myself, I got the angle of the camera and the pumpkin and my face all situated in such a way so as to make me look a little on the purple side. Odd, since I don't usually have a purple face. Eric told me I should photoshop the picture, and I think I will--once I cover "making purple faces look normal" in my photoshop lessons)


Otherwise, things are pretty basic around here. On Saturday night I found that the RAV4 wouldn't start, which was kind of stressful, since I immediately started imagining all that could be going wrong with it, and then I went right into mourning for the loss of a car that I have truly loved. But, Eric and his father got right on the case, and it turned out that we just needed to get a new battery in there. Those fine men took care of that yesterday, and today I'm back in the gray RAVioli, jammin' to my man Peter Breinholt, and enjoying life as much as ever.


Tonight we'll be testing out the fondue set that we got for our wedding, as well as handing out Bit-o-Honey to those cute trick-or-treaters that live in our neighborhood. Since we live in a townhome complex, most of our under-age neighbors are elementary-school age or younger. It makes for some really really adorable trick-or-treaters, that's for sure.



Once the stream of little witches and ballerinas and pirates slows down and it gets really dark, we're hoping to make it up to the observatory, if it's open. Eric has to go there for one of his classes, and I haven't looked through a telescope since I went to the "check-out-Mars-tonight-'cause-this-is-as-big-as-it's-going-to-get-in-your-lifetime event" with Heidi back in 2003 or so. I'm probably due, don't you think?



And with that, I wish you all a Happy Halloween.



Hasta,


Char

Monday, October 29, 2007

Vouchers! Vouchers! (a guest blogger)

For those of you who don't live in/vote in/have interest in what happens in/ Utah, you might want to skip this post.


For the rest of you, perhaps a bit of explanation:


Last winter, the Utah State Legislature passed a school voucher bill, which the governor signed into law. Before it went into effect however, hundreds of citizens collected thousands of signatures protesting the law, and so on November 6, Utah citizens will be voting on whether or not to make the bill part of Utah law.


(That's my understanding of what happened anyway. I freely admit that I am FAR from an expert in this matter though. )


So, anyway, my mother (who is more of an expert on all of this) has been following the voucher situation quite religiously, and last week she sent the following e-mail out to a bunch of people, including me. I am completely biased about anything that has to do with my mom, of course. That being said, her letter explained a few things that had been confusing to me, and I found it helpful enough that I asked her permission to post it here.


So, if you are uncertain about where you stand on the whole voucher thing (as I am at times), there is some good information here. If you aren't uncertain at all, and are against vouchers in Utah, then there is some good information here to back you up. If you aren't uncertain at all, and are absolutely in favor of vouchers and nothing will ever change your mind, then there's really no point in reading beyond this--unless you happen be be a "Charlotte Fan", in which case, you can skip to the last paragraph where my mom talks about volunteering in her daughters 1st grade class. Why is that so important?


Well, who do you think the daughter in question is?



And with that lengthy explanation, here is a somewhat lengthy letter, written by my dearest mother, Barbara Corry.


Dear Family and Friends,


Some of you know that I have been involved in public school and politics for many years. I have been serving on my local school board for over 16 years and before that I was involved at the State level with Utah PTA. I have been on Capitol Hill for the legislative session yearly and worked with and discussed legislation with our Senators and Representatives many times.


I feel a need to express my opinion on the voucher issue and ask that you not be swayed by high power endorsements or “cookie” math, but honestly study the questions raised by this voucher bill.



House Bill 148 (the voucher bill) sets only 4 requirements for a school to qualify for voucher money: enroll 40 or more students, operate outside a residence, not encourage illegal activity and not be a residential treatment facility licensed by the state. There is no mention of number of school days required, acceptance of students with disabilities or special needs, subject matter taught or tested, or accreditation to ensure that the credits-diploma earned will be accepted by colleges, other schools and the military.


Public schools are held to a high standard in each of these areas as well as accountability for tax dollars. School Districts hold budget hearings every year as well as truth in taxation hearings when the District’s mill levy floats below the level the Legislature requires for participation in several of their education funding programs.


Voucher schools would be required to file a limited financial report every 4 years.


There are no minimum educational standards for teachers or administration in private voucher schools. You won’t know if the teacher teaching your child even has a college degree.


Private voucher schools will have to administer one standardized test of their own choosing and make those results available to the parents. Public schools are required to test all basic subject areas and make public their test scores for scrutiny and comparison with the state and nation.


HB 174 allows excess money from the weighted pupil unit (WPU) (each student is allotted so much money in figuring out how much money schools and districts receive) to return to the district when a voucher student leaves. This has been one of the strongest selling points of the pro voucher group. Presently, there is NO mechanism that allows money to be in a district without an actual body present. When asked repeatedly about this concern, legislators say airily, “they will take care of it”. It is presently against state law.


Districts receive funding based on their October head count. If a student returns to a school district or enters a school district after that date, districts do not receive any funding for that year for that individual. Studies have shown that 20% -25% of voucher students return to their resident school mid year.


The non existent tracking system will not even attempt to track students who enroll in voucher schools out of your district, so even if there truly was a way to recoup some of the money for the next 5 years, it would only apply to students living in your district attending a voucher school in your district boundaries.


According to the voter information pamphlet the cost of vouchers will outstrip even these possible financial benefits in the second year of implementation.


Voucher proponents continually quote $7500 as the amount of money Utah spends per student. This is NOT an accurate figure. It is an inflated estimate made by voucher supporters on what Utah MAY (but never has) spend. The US Census Bureau figure for 2004 is $5,008. The National Center for Education Statistics for 2003 is $6,114. The Utah Foundation Research Reports states that funding for 2005 was $5,257. Whatever figure is used, Utah’s per pupil expenditure is the lowest in the nation- 51st.

I have read numerous articles concerning voucher programs implemented throughout the United States and the world. As with any education program that changes the way of doing things there is generally initial success. This is true even in the public schools when a new principal, a new teacher with exciting ideas or even a new math program is initiated. For states and districts who have had vouchers for 5 years or more, the results are disappointing. Voucher schools, private schools and charter schools do not show an increased level of scholarship over public schools. There are no significant differences between these schools and public schools in terms of academic achievement. One article I recently read pointed out that private schools offer significantly less AP and concurrent enrollment opportunities than the public schools. Utah public schools lead the nation in the number of AP classes offered and credits earned.


Funding is of major concern. In Florida vouchers cost $107 million in 2005-06. In Milwaukee it is estimated in 2007 that vouchers for 17,000 students will cost $110,517,000. As the program costs have increased, money has been diverted from public schools to private schools. The school district has raised property taxes to offset the loss of funds. These two programs are strictly limited to either special needs students or those meeting financial guidelines. Utah’s voucher program is open ended, available to each and every one who applies. Milwaukee is currently looking for a legal way to eliminate the voucher program mainly because of the financial burden it is imposing.

Finally, philosophically, I have strong feelings about the value of public education. Schools are the final, last and only place where whole community values are taught, discussed and lived. As our society was become more and more fragmented, our communities lose their sense of who we are and what our values and expectations are. Schools have historically provided a gathering place, a safe arena for students and parents, and a place where you learn about others, both in formal education and informal playground, lunchroom, athletic activities.


Douglas D. Alder stated: “Students in public schools learn about democracy by living it. They learn that everyone counts. They establish friendships throughout the whole social spectrum. The smartest students learn a lot from their average peers and vice versa. The academic achievement of students is very important but so is social learning. Segregating students, as vouchers would do, is not the way to teach them to participate in a democracy.”


I got involved in the schools by volunteering when my daughter was in 1st grade. My reason was selfish; I wanted to see that she was getting the education and care she needed to be successful. I have continued to be involved because I learned that the more I did for others, the more I did for my own children. We do not live in a vacuum. We need the support and strength of others. We need to work to keep public schools viable. They are successful, they are not failing, they are mainly staffed by caring individuals who study and learn how to make each child successful.


Please vote against referendum 1.


Very Sincerely,

Barbara Willis Corry

P.S. I have documentation for the numbers and studies sited in this letter. (If you're interested in this, shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment, and I'll get the documentation from my mom for you)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Things I do that would drive me crazy if someone that I was living with did, but that Eric takes in stride because he is an absolute PRINCE of a man:

I've had some awfully long posts lately, and I have another long one planned for early next week, (with a guest blogger!) so here's a nice short one:

(although--the title is easily the longest title in this whole blog so far!)


  1. Nearly every morning, I hit the snooze button three times before I get up. All of this begins approximately 90 minutes before Eric even needs to think about getting out of bed to start his day.


  2. When I drink hot chocolate (which I do 3-4 times per week from mid-October through mid-March), I always heat the water too hot, but don't have enough patience to wait for it to cool. So, in an effort to cool it as I drink, I slurp every single sip.


  3. When listening to CDs, I often find my favorite song, and put the CD player on "repeat mode". That way I end up listening to the same song as many as fifteen times in a row.

  4. (Apparently) I regularly talk in my sleep . . . LOUDLY.


  5. I'm big on having "a place for everything and everything in its place", which is actually pretty reasonable . . . until you realize that "the place" for Eric's artwork, comic books, and other miscellanea is upstairs in "the man room"*, and "the place" for my yarn, crochet projects, piano books, shoes, and anything else I want is wherever I happen to leave them, usually on or by the couch in the living room.




I've determined that I'm going to work on #5. There's not much I can do about #4, and we'll see what happens with #'s 1,2, & 3. Regardless, at the risk of sounding newly-weddedly sappy, aren't I just a lucky, lucky, girl?
























*Actually, Higgins is still in the living room, and he does have a friend or two join him, from time to time.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Answer


Years ago, when I was attending Utah State University, I had a neighbor that we'll call Matthias. He was a good, salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, and we were friends. The important thing about him as it relates to this blog post though is that he was kind of a tree fanatic. (I should make it clear right now that I use the term "tree fanatic" with admiration, rather than criticism) He drove a big old orange truck (which I loved because it reminded me of ice cream outings that I used to take with my Grandpa Corry back when I was a little girl) with a green "Trees are the Answer" bumper sticker on the back. Matthias graduated in Landscape Architecture, went somewhere to get a graduate degree in a related field, and now he's back here again, where he and his wife are once again my neighbors, and he owns a company called "Total Tree Care".

So, that's the end of that story, and now we move to a totally different story.

Remember back last spring when I was planting a bunch of things in our back patio area and I was so excited about all the great times that we'd have, sitting on the porch swing, enjoying the blooms, and eating the produce from my labor of love?

Well . . .

The garden turned out to be a little less successful than I had originally hoped. The hollyhocks (which were growing so nicely last spring) eventually got so completely out of control that I had to root the whole mess of them out, but not until they had spilled seeds throughout the ground. Suffice it to say that I expect to be waging "the hollyhock war" for a few years to come.

I planted snapdragons, but I must have weeded them when they came up (not recognizing them as actual plants or remembering that I'd planted them). That's my guess anyway--since I never saw a single snapdragon in our garden.
Our summer squash crop consisted of three measly squash, only one of which ever got big enough to eat, and even it never even made it to the dinner table, because by the time it did grow, Eric and I were so sick of eating the summer squash from the gardens of our friends and family that we had no desire to eat one our own. Here's a picture of our three lone squash-ettes:



However, I'm happy to say that there were a few successes in this years' garden experiment. We had fairly good success with our tomatoes. They were small tomatoes, but they were sweet, and the plants produced just the right amount (which I classify as "enough so you can eat all you want, but not so many that you feel you need to devote a day to the hot, sticky, messy job of bottling tomatoes").

And then, we had a surprise success. As I was watering the containers, I noticed this plant popping out of the ground. I hadn't planted anything in that particular container, and so I had no idea what it was. It grew rather slowly, but it was persistent, and it didn't look like a weed (or a snapdragon, apparently), and so I let it continue to live. I idly wondered from time to time what it might be, but never enough to really get serious about trying to identify it. It never flowered or produced any fruits or vegetables, and I eventually decided that it was some generic ornamental plant.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when I looked out the back window and saw that my mystery plant now had yellow leaves, rather than the green ones it had sported all throughout the spring and the summer. How exciting! I was thrilled to have my mystery solved! All this time, I had been wondering what had been growing out there, and as it turned out, the answer to my question had been right there on the back of Matthias' truck.


Now the question is . . . will our tree survive the winter?


I'm not planning on it, but really, wouldn't it be cool?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Birthday Poetry for ALL! (or at least one more)

Well, you guessed it, it's another fall birthday of another dear girlfriend. How did I end up with so many friends with fall birthdays? It's enough to make me almost believe in astrology! (almost)

So, without wasting any more time, here is the Katrina Birthday Poem:

Ode to Katrina
-By Charlotte C. Cantwell

We bonded over a bag of Skittles,
At a ball game that gave us the "chiddles". (chills)
We sang with the band,
And got quite out of hand,
There were tubas but absolutely no fiddles.


I had met Katrina earlier, but we really bonded at an afternoon football game several years ago. We got kind of cold (although that's stretching it), and as we shared a big bag of Skittles, the sugar went straight to my head and I ended up being really very very silly. Luckily for me, Katrina was patient with my silliness, and even joined in with quite a bit of silliness of her own. We were fast friends from that day on.



From that day she was always my friend,
For year after year with no end.
Though to the south she has moved,
Kindergartners, she's proved,
Give us stories- our sides split, they rend. (splitting our sides with laughter, that is)

A few years ago Katrina moved to the Salt Lake area where she started teaching Kindergarten. One of the highlights of my weeks/months are when she calls me or e-mails me with some of the funny things that those kids say and do. It's absolutely amazing at times.

Now, what else can I say of this girl?
Her hair's full of natural curl.
And inside and out,
She'll be spunky AND devout,
And she's an absolute gem (or a pearl).

In Russia she kept me from crying, (because I couldn't speak or understand a word of Russian)
And we have stories you'd swear we were lying.
Tales of crazy tour guides,
who took us for rides.
I'm surprised we got out without dying.

Some day I'll have to do a whole post about the quirky adventures we had together in St. Petersburg in the Spring of 2000. Crazy crazy times.

But through all our adventures and such,
She's never lost her magic touch.
And her patience she's kept,
Oh we've laughed and we've wept.
And I'm grateful--oh, so very much.

Happy Happy Happy Birthday Katrina!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Puccini

Friday night I went to Salt Lake City for a little bit of girl time. Katerina and I went to a performance of The Flying Dutchman put on by Utah Opera. It was my first time seeing anything composed by Wagner, and I enjoyed it. I wasn't absolutely mesmerized or anything like that though. It seems that when it comes to Opera, only Puccini can absolutely mesmerize me. (And boy, can he ever! Tosca, La Boheme, Turandot, The Girl of the Golden West, Madame Butterfly, Manan Lescaut they all have those soaring romantic melodies that just hit me right in the center of the heart!)

Luckily for me, the next offering Utah Opera will have will be none other than Puccini's Tosca, in January. I have season tickets (waaaay up in the balcony), and so I'll be seeing it then, probably with Linda, who bought season tickets with me, but wasn't able to make it on Friday. Tosca is probably my second favorite opera, with La Boheme taking the top spot. I've actually performed in the choruses of two professional operas and one operetta, and Tosca was my first. (For those of you familiar with the story, I was cast as the "third rich Catholic lady from the left" in the "Te Deum" scene. )

Actually, now that I think of it, the company I work for will be producing Manon Lescaut this summer. So, it would appear that I'm going to be able to see Puccini in both the Summer and the Winter of 2008. That must be some kind of record for me. What can I say? I must be living right!

That's probably enough for now. Before I close though, I do have one totally unrelated thing. I have another rhyming opportunity coming next week, (apparently the birthday poetry phase has yet to end!) and I'm stuck on one word that absolutely HAS to be there. The word is "Skittles" (as in, those multicolored fruity candies). Any suggestions would be welcome, welcome, welcome.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Jeri!


Okay--today just might not be Jeri's birthday. It might be tomorrow. I can't remember for certain. That's just the kind of friend I am.


But just in case it IS today, and NOT tomorrow, I'm going to post the Jeri birthday poem today. Because you know, it's much better to be early wishing someone a happy birthday than to be late.


Don't you agree?


And now, without further adieu (or is it a-doo?), I give you


ODE TO JERI
by Charlotte C. Cantwell


In relating our memories, I could do it by the dozens,
I met Jeri one day when I was visiting my cousins.


It was a quick meeting then, but soon I would see
That she would be my lifesaver as I started SUSC.


(It's true--Jeri and I met while I was singing at the missionary farewell of one of my cousins. A few years later, she came down to SUSC (Now SUU) and walked into my Sociology 101 class. It was the first day of school, and I was feeling very lost and alone and afraid. As soon as I saw her, I recognized her as the very good friend of my cousin in American Fork, Utah. I called to her and made her come sit next to me. I introduced myself, and she befriended me immediately. We eventually became the best of friends, roommates, kindred spirits, crying buddies, laughing buddies, traveling buddies, you name it! Sometimes I wonder how my college experience (and even the rest of my life) would have been different if I hadn't coerced Jeri into being my best friend that day. Hmmm . . .)


I put a tape line through our room, so we'd each have our own side,
We tried our hand(s) at sign language, and the electric slide.


(this is absolutely true. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but when we were roommates, I put a tape line through the whole room, dividing the room into two sides-hers and mine. It was really a joke and all in good fun, but still . . . Sometimes, just for fun, I would purposely put some of my things over the line by an inch or two and see if she would notice. I'd do other things to tease her as well, but those are probably stories for another post.)


And the places we traveled, from the Lake of Salt*,
We always got lost, and it was always my fault.


We went cruising to Mexico and flew to San Fran
We saw leaves in New England, and in the Hamptons, got a tan



(*Otherwise known as Salt Lake City--hey--you try to rhyme something with "fault"! It's tough work!)


We've giggled on the telephone, and written letters galore,
I still need to meet all her children (she's almost got four).


I think I've rambled enough, the silliness needs to end
Before I spill details that would embarrass my friend


(Or more likely, embarrass myself! Wait a minute! I've already done that!)


So I'll end this fine poem with a "Hear ye! Hear ye!"
I'm a kindred spirit to Jeri, how lucky for me!



And that's it for today. For those of you who have birthdays coming up and are hoping(dreading) for your own birthday poem, don't get your hopes (or fears) too high (or low). This could very well be just a passing phase of mine.


-Charlotta

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Progress Report

Well, I thought this would be a good time to have a little check-in on the "things to do" list that I'm currently working on.

NUMBER ONE: I did it! I performed the "Andante Spianato" by Chopin at my teacher's fall recital last Friday evening. This is the first time I've performed at one of her recitals, even though I've been studying for nearly two years. My teacher doesn't ever require her adult students to perform, but she does allow and even encourage us to perform whenever we feel so inclined. So, I went for it, and it actually went pretty well. Granted, I was the oldest performer there by about 20 years, but it was still a really great experience for me. I was scared out of my mind, and I find that it's good for me to be scared out of my mind once every 3-4 months or so. A side benefit of the whole thing was the amount of practice time I was somehow able to find. Honestly, you would not believe the amount of practicing I did to ensure that I wouldn't make myself a fool. I was a practicing maniac!

NUMBER TWO: I started on Adobe Photoshop last night. I kind of jumped around, using the help menus (and http://www.lynda.com/) for an hour or so, with very little progress. Fortunately, Eric came home before I had a chance to get too discouraged, and after about 10 minutes of his help, I was feeling like I had actually learned something. I have far to go still of course, but at least I've started.

NUMBER THREE: I've 75% finished with the full-size afghan. Haven't started the baby afghan yet though.

NUMBER ELEVEN: It looks like I might be doing a fairly random, fairly public singing performance in January. Details are sketchy at this point, but I'll fill you in as it gets more certain.

NUMBER FIFTEEN: I'm down two pounds. I've also started re-reading "Thin for Life" by Anne Fletcher. It's a book I read several years ago, the last time I was feeling like my weight was kind of getting away from me for no apparent reason. I liked it then, and I think I'm going to like it again now. If you want to know more about the book, you can go to this site.

NUMBER TWENTY-FOUR: This one was a late-add. Eric and I were able to do it with Dorothea and Sergei, and you can read (briefly) about it here and here.

NUMBER TWENTY-FIVE: This is another late-add. About a month ago, I read (in Reader's Digest of course) about the whole mystery shopping business, and I decided to check it out. I went to http://www.mysteryshop.org/, and have been checking the listings every 2-3 days for assignments in my area. Earlier this week I was finally offered one that interested me, and I completed it today. I probably shouldn't give too many details about it just yet ('cause then it wouldn't be a mystery, ya know?) but perhaps in a couple of weeks or months I'll do a post about some of my mystery shopping experiences (assuming I end up having more than just this one).

And that's all for today folks!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Transvestites -R-Us

Warning: There are incredibly, even embarassingly cheesy pictures posted at the end of this entry.

THE STORY OF CHARLOTTE'S BROWN SWEATER

So, a few months ago, Eric and I were out running errands, and we stopped in at Ross Dress For Less. Our main reason was to get some shirts for Eric, since he really didn't have any casual-but-not-ratty shirts. While we were there, in addition to finding some nice shirts for Eric, I found a sweater that I quite liked. So we got it as well. There were two surprising things about this:

1. The sweater was in the men's section of the store. Now, I know many many women who often purchase clothing in the men's section, and they look adorable, and probably save money as well. It just so happens that I am not often one of those women.

2. The sweater was brown with orange stripes, two colors which have been among my least favorite for several years now.




THE STORY OF ERIC'S BROWN SWEATER

Two weeks ago, Eric and I took a day trip to Salt Lake City, just to play around and get out of town before the weather turned cold and yucky. (As it turned out, it rained all day on the day that we went. Oh well.) Eric hit the comic book store (of course) while I checked out the new-ish Salt Lake Public Library. We ran around some other places, and eventually ended up at the Sugarhouse DI (a thrift store in a more upscale neighborhood than is usually the case for thrift stores), where we bought a couple of videos, a couple of skirts, and Eric's Brown Sweater.

This would not be so noteworthy except for the fact that the sweater in question is, in fact, a women's sweater. Odd, huh? We found it on the racks in the men's department, but from the tag and the size and the type of yarn used, and (let's face it), just from looking at it, it is (and was) pretty obvious to both me and Eric that it's a women's sweater. But, Eric liked it, and so we bought it as well.

And so my friends, that is how it came to be that Eric and I went out on the town two nights ago, in front of any who might care to look, in cross-gender clothing.

Hey, at least we were warm, right?













Friday, October 12, 2007

I haven't done a meme in a while

It's been awhile since I've done a meme, and I've been tagged a few times. Here's one from Melissa, clear back from August. It's a "middle name" meme. You're supposed to list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name.

J-J is for jubilation. It is my favorite word in the whole English language. When I think of that word, I think of a great big waterfall of jelly beans, (not the jelly bellies with the speckles and marbles though--the jelly beans of this particular daydream are all solidly colored) falling over one end of a table and ending up in a big multi-colored mess of goodness on the floor. Don't ask me why. (I don't really even like to eat jelly beans)

U-U is for uncles--I had 13 of them before I got married. Now I have even more. I've turned to many of my uncles for support, advice, and especially love over the years. One of my great-uncles was actually much more like a grandfather to me than an Uncle. His name was Scott, and he and his wife (Ruth) were unable to have children. So, they adopted all their nieces and nephews, one of which was my father. Actually, I'll probably do a post on them one of these days. I have a lot of fun, odd memories associated with them.

L-L is for letters. I've always been a letter-writer. When I was young I would exchange letters with one of my cousins nearly every week. When I got into college, I religiously wrote to several of my guy friends as they were serving LDS missions. I write a weekly journal entry (which I consider to be a letter to my (as yet non-existent) posterity), and I write a quarterly update e-mail, which I send to all my family and a whole bunch of friends every three months.

I-I is kind of a hard one. There aren't that many words that start with "I", you know? Okay, I is for Israel. I would love to go to Israel at some point in the next 40 or so years.

E-E is for Eating. I love to eat. I should weigh 300+ pounds for all the enjoyment that I get from eating. Especially sweets. I can say "no" to potato chips and steaks, and seafood, and fresh-baked bread and creamy gooey pasta with relative ease, but get me near a bag of chocolate chip cookies, and they just might be gone before the hour is out. I once ate a whole half-gallon of chocolate peanut butter ice cream in a two-hour period. (Granted, it was while I was waiting for the mailman to bring my results from the CPA examination, but still!)

N-N is for Nice. I really strive to be nice, polite, kind, considerate, all of that stuff. Sometimes I'm wildly successful, and sometimes I'm not. (My success at this is often directly related to the amount of sleep I'm getting at a particular time)

Now I'm supposed to tag one person for each letter of my middle name. I think rather than calling out names, I'll just open it up to anyone. If you read this and feel so inclined to post your own, please, go for it. (dishboy and scullery maid, you can can post in the comments. Come on, you know you want to!)

Oh--one more thing: My middle name is actually "Corry", not "Julien". I actually didn't have an official middle name until I got married last April. Since my parents didn't give me a one when I was born, I spent my childhood being jealous of my friends and brothers who had exotic middle names like "Lyn" or "Lee" or "Anne", or (in the case of my brothers) "Willis". You would think I would have grown out of that unreasonable envy, but you'd be wrong. When I was about twenty, I decided that I would give myself a middle name, and that the chosen name would be Julien. I even had my college graduation announcements printed with the name "Charlotte Julien" on them. That threw a few people, my grandparents chief among them, for a bit of a loop.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Will I be #3?

A few nights ago, I had dinner with some friends. As we were talking over this and that, one of my friends mentioned that she had conversed with a World Ward II Veteran a few months previously. She was volunteering as an usher at our local theatre, as was this man. They had a few minutes before the patrons started arriving, and they began talking about life experiences and this and that. The man mentioned that he had served in World War II, and Sylvia, (who is easily one of the most polite, considerate people I have ever met) took the opportunity to thank him for doing that great service for her and for our country.

The veteran accepted her thanks very graciously, but he mentioned that she was only the second person to ever thank him for that service.

As I think back over the experiences I've had with veterans, I'm ashamed to admit that I have never thanked a single one of them. I've listened with interest to their war stories (the few that can actually bring themselves to tell war stories), and I've ooohed and aaahed at the appropriate moments, which seemed to please them almost universally. I've been lucky to have had a few experiences where I've sung patriotic songs for and with groups of American Legionnaires as well. For all that though, I've yet to actually say the words of thanks.

Obviously, that's no good. So I have a plan. The next time I find myself in the company of a WWII Veteran (or any veteran, for that matter), I'm going to find a way to open my mouth (even if I'm feeling shy), and I'm going to thank him(or her). Precisely what I say may have to vary according to the moment, but I think it will sound something like this:

"Thank you for leaving your home and going to a strange land, and thank you for participating in what was almost surely the most gruesome, scary, awful experience that you could ever have imagined. Thank you for doing that for us, and especially for me."

I don't tend to run into veterans every day, and so I wonder if I'll be able to remember all of that when the time comes. Somehow I doubt it. Still, I'm going to try. And if it turns out that I'm only able to remember two words of the whole speech, as long as they are the right two words, something tells me that that will be all that really matters.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Gems

Well, the past few days have been great. We had a great time at General Conference, I was able to become pretty familiar with several of the songs in the book I wrote about in my last post, and we were able to spend some quality family time with members of both the Cantwells and the Corrys. Nice.

I think just for fun, today I'm going to list a couple of my favorite quotes, and perhaps add a little bit of commentary on them.

(A brief note on these quotes . . . I used to be a voracious reader. As I read, I would take the parts of wisdom from the books and magazines I read, and copy them into a notebook. It was several years before I realized that I should really write the reference of where the quotes came from, rather than just the name of the author. So, while I can tell you from where some of these quotes came, many of them I simply cannot. Oh well. Live and learn.)


Friendship takes time. If you want friends, make friendship a priority.
-Unknown

I don't remember when I found this one, but I heartily agree with it. In looking back over my life, I've never had a real quality friendship that didn't require a fair amount of time and nourishment. At the same time, I've never had a real quality friendship that wasn't absolutely worth every second of time and every bit of nourishment that it required.

For when I am weak, then am I strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10

I've loved this scripture for years and years and years.

I would suggest that the next time a ‘what if’ starts badgering you, look it straight in the eyes and ask it, ‘all right, what’s the very worst that could happen?’ And when it answers, ask yourself, ‘What could I do about it?’ You’ll find there will always be something. Then you’ll see that you can have power in any situation. And when you realize that, the fears will go away.
-Benjamin Hoff The Te of Piglet

I'm still working on this one. Actually, I will probably still be working on this one until the day I die. But, I'm pleased that I do notice progress. Small minute pieces of progress to be sure--but still, progress IS progress.

As a physician who has been deeply privileged to share the most profound moments of people’s lives, including their final moments, let me tell you a secret. People facing death don’t think about what degrees they’ve earned, what positions they’ve held or how much wealth they’ve accumulated. At the end, what really matters-and is a good measure of a past life-is who you loved and who loved you. The circle of love is everything.
-Bernadine Healy MD

This is a great one for me to remember when I feel my priorities are getting a little out of whack.


And finally, from that great musical "South Pacific":

You’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream com true?
-Bloody Mary
(well, actually this was written by
Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein)

Happy Tuesday to you all.

-c

Friday, October 05, 2007

preparation, music, and here comes the weekend!

Well, all is well here. I'm finally finished (more or less) with all the post-marriage things that needed to be done (thank-you cards, scrapbook, arranging the house, changing my name on everything, etc., etc., etc.,) and so I'm back to having just the regular run-of-the-mill tasks on my plate. Right now that includes turning a one-person 72 hour kit into a two-person 72 hour kit, and a food storage supply for one person into a food storage supply for two people.

I'm also trying to work my way through a new music book. I'll be starting to teach a new voice student Tuesday, and I found a book in my collection that I like and hope will work well for her. The only problem is, I don't know any of the songs in the book. So, I've been trying to learn at least 4-5 of them. The student will only be working on 1-2 songs at a time of course, but since not every song is a good match for every hopeful singer, I figure I'd better have a few extra.

We should have a good weekend. Tonight our classic movie theatre is showing Vincent Price's The Fly, and we're going to see it. Tomorrow Eric has to work, so I'll be puttering around, listening to General Conference while cleaning our kitchen or working on the afghan that I'm making for my cousin's wedding. Then Sunday will be a special treat. Dorothea and Sergei were able to get tickets to the morning session of conference, so we'll go there and actually experience it all in the conference center. We'll have to leave at 6:45 a.m. in order to make it there, but if you ask me, it's totally worth it.

Happy Friday,
Char

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Failure to Communicate

About 12 years ago, I received a letter (or perhaps it was an e-mail) from a former college roommate. I don't remember a single thing about the letter, except that in the course of it, this friend (who had married a year or two previous to sending me the letter in question) stated the following:


"Do you have any good dating stories to tell me? You probably get tired of that question, but you always have such funny dating stories."


For some reason, yesterday morning as I was out on my morning walk, one of those dating stories popped into my head, and made me laugh at the absurdity of it all. So, I thought I'd share it.


For a little bit of background, in 1995 I moved to northern Utah to attend school at Utah State University. While attending school, I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with three other girls. We had a ball together! We laughed and played and fought over boys (a little bit) and had parties and were silly silly silly. We did a little studying as well.


One night, as we were just doing whatever it was that we usually did, our phone (we only had one) rang, and a guy on the other end of the line asked to speak with me. When I came to the phone, he introduced himself as Mark ____ (I wouldn't write his last name here, but it's a moot point, because I don't remember it anyway). He said that he had gotten my name and phone number from a friend of his, and that he wanted to ask me on a date.


Now, this kind of thing didn't happen to me often, and I wasn't all that sure that I wanted to go out with some random guy that I'd never met before or even seen. So, I didn't answer right away. Actually, I kept him on the line for the better part of an hour, and we had a really nice conversation, one that I really enjoyed. I enjoyed it enough that before we hung up the phone, I had agreed to go out with him. We determined that he would come over to my apartment the following Friday. (He already knew where I lived because the friend who had given him my number was my neighbor)


As I hung up the phone, my roommates peppered me with questions, and (as usual) I spilled it all. So, it was with quite a bit of anticipation that we waited for this Mysterious Mark to make his appearance a few days later.


Friday came, and just at about the right time, Mysterious Mark knocked on the door. I opened it, and invited him to sit on the couch. He did so, and I put on my shoes. As I laced them, we did a little bit of small talk, and Mark met my roommates. Soon I finished with my shoes, but Mark made no move to leave the couch. Somewhat confused, but willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, I continued to sit on the couch as well, and did my best to engage him in sparkling conversation. As is often the case, I found Mark to be a little more witty on the phone than he was in person (probably because of nerves. Dating is not for the faint of heart, you know), and our conversation eventually went from sparking to somewhat strained. Still Mark made no move to leave the couch.


After a while, one of my roommates started setting the table for dinner (We used to take turns making meals for each other, and our kitchen and living room were basically the same room) Mark saw her preparations, and asked me if I was hungry. Thinking he was hinting for an invitation to stay for dinner, and being rather indignant that he would be so mooch-ey on a first date, I replied that I wasn't very hungry at all. We continued our labored conversation while my roommates ate dinner together a mere 10 feet away. What had once been a strained conversation became downright awkward.


The longer this went on, the more irritated I became. I questioned myself what kind of man would ask a girl on a date, merely so he could sit on her couch and hopefully mooch off her food. What was he playing at anyway? The minutes ticked on, and I got more and more steamed. Eventually my roommates left to go to the home of one of our friends, where they had arranged to watch a video. I enviously watched them leave, wondering how much longer it would be before I could get Mark off the couch, on his way home, freeing me to join the girls for some real fun.


About 45 minutes after they had left, Mark suggested that we might go ahead and join my friends and watch the video with them. THE NERVE!!! HOW DARE HE ASK ME ON A DATE, AND THEN SUGGEST THAT WE JOIN MY FRIENDS, FURTHER CEMENTING THE FACT THAT HE HAD NEVER HAD ANY INTENTION OF TAKING ME ANYWHERE! WHAT KIND OF DATE WAS THIS, ANYWAY?


I was absolutely furious!!


In addition to being furious however, I was also deathly tired of sitting on the couch with this man. So, I agreed, and we finally left. By this time I was absolutely seething, and we walked to the home of my friends in cool (stony on my part) silence. It was a relief to us both when we arrived at the front door. My roommates eyes flashed curiosity when they saw us in the doorway, and as I realized that we'd be laughing about the whole experience soon, I was able to calm down a little bit.


We watched the video, which eventually ended, and Mark walked me to my doorstep. We did the obligatory end-of-date conversation, and then Mark got in his car and left. I entered my apartment, and immediately told my roommates the whole story. We analyzed and analyzed, but couldn't think of any justification for Mark's (or, as we re-named him, Couch Mark's) actions. I took comfort in the knowledge that with such a disastrous first date, surely Mark would not try for a second.


Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, who should call, but Couch Mark! He asked me if I would play racquetball with him the next day. Not being prepared with a suitable answer, and realizing that if we were playing racquetball then we surely wouldn't be sitting on the couch, and being just plain unprepared to do anything else, I agreed.


And now we come to the rest of the story. . .


Couch Mark picked me up, we left the house immediately, and on the way to the racquetball courts we started trading notes on our last adventure together. As it turns out, my suggestion that Mark sit down while I put on my shoes threw him off completely. He misunderstood, thought that I was nervous about going out along with a man that I'd never met before, and decided that he should give me a little bit of time to get up my courage.


When my roommates starting eating dinner, he asked me if I was hungry, thinking that he could then suggest that we go out for dinner, thus getting us both off the couch and out of the house. Of course by this time I was quite steamed, so I misunderstood what he was trying to do, and thwarted his plan.


So, there we were for three hours, Couch Mark wondering when neurotic Charlotte (or "the sitting date" as his roommates later named me) would be ready to leave the house, and me wondering when Couch Mark was going to get off my couch and take me out for the fun evening he had promised me.


And that, my friends, is why you should never let your temper get the best of you.


Mark and I had a good time playing racquetball together and laughing at the silliness of our misunderstanding. As I remember, we went out a few times after that as well, although we never seriously dated.


That's probably a good thing. If we endured such drastic miscommunication on our first date, how would we ever have navigated a relationship? I don't even like to think about it.


Monday, October 01, 2007

"Dream a Little Dream with Me"




Well, the dream book has finally been compiled. I recognize that it's been nearly five months since we started working on it, and the only excuse that I have is that Eric and I aren't really magazine people*, so, it took a while to round up pictures for all of our dreams. However, we did it, and the book is ready. I'm sure we'll add on to it as we collect more dreams and hopes and goals. But, that's the way it's supposed to be, right?

One interesting thing . . . when we started putting together the book last May, one of the hopes that Eric had was that he would be able to be an influence for good in the lives of youth, especially youth who might be struggling in one way or another. I found it interesting as I was working on the page last week. There I was, pasting pictures of nice-looking men (by which I mean, "Men who look like nice guys", not necessarily "Men who look like they should be movie-stars")(Luckily for me, Eric is both) working and playing with teenagers in different situations. The more pictures I pasted, the more those men started looking like Eric to me, and the more those kids started looking like the boys in our ward, boys who Eric sees every week at Young Men's meetings and activities. I think it's slightly amazing that the dreams started coming into reality even before the dream book was finished. If that's not efficiency, I don't know what is.

In other news, things are fine. Work is good, home is good, life is good. I won the bet this week (Eric forgot again, and had tortilla chips for lunch on Friday), so the gift card is mine! We restarted the contest though, with a different incentive this time. Now the loser will have to endure a video of the other person's choice. If I win, I'm probably going to subject Eric to "Amahl and the Night Visitors". Wish me luck.

-cc

*Well, except for Readers Digest, of course!

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