Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Loves

I recently discovered a new TV show that I love, and a new song that I love. How fun is that?

The "new" TV show is called Christy , and I watch it on DVD. I can hardly believe that I did not find this show earlier. It aired in 1994 and 1995, which was when I was in grad school, which might explain it, but still!

Anyway, I stumbled upon it at my library two weeks ago, and within two episodes, I was totally hooked. It has a Little House on the Prairie feel to it, with a little bit of Anne of Green Gables thrown in as well. The title character is played by Kellie Martin, who I have liked ever since she played Corky Thatcher's sister on Life Goes On. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I fell in love with all the characters at age thirteen or so when I read the book upon which the TV show is based (Catherine Marshall's book by the same name).

The song is "God Bless the Broken Road", most prominently sung by Rascal Flats. My brother (Jacob) recommended that I learn this song for our next campfire sing-along (next July--he gets his requests in early, wouldn't you say?), and once I'd heard it a couple of times on YouTube, I splurged and bought a copy for myself. I'm not much of a country music kind of girl, so I chose the version sung by the Christian group (Selah) over the Rascal Flats or Carrie Underwood versions.

Actually, I'm not really much of a Christian Music kind of girl either, come to that. In fact, to be honest, I can't say that I'm exactly sure what kind of a music-genre girl I am.

That's probably a topic for another day though.

Happy Wednesday,


Monday, January 28, 2008

Favorite Quotes

President Gordon B. Hinckley
(June 23, 1910-January 27, 2008)

Things will work out. If you keep trying and praying and working, things will work out. They always do. If you want to die at an early age, dwell on the negative. Accentuate the positive, and you’ll be around for a while.
-Gordon B. Hinckley

There was a time when I had a copy of this statement taped into the front page of my day-planner, so I could look at it whenever I was feeling uncertain as to whether or not things actually would work out. What a source of reassurance that was for me.

If there were more temple work done in the church, there would be less of selfishness, less of contention, less of demeaning others.
-Gordon B. Hinckley

A nation will rise no higher than the strength of its homes.
-Gordon B. Hinckley

I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life, we accentuate the positive. I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.
-Gordon B. Hinckley

I'll miss President Hinckley. I loved hearing him, I loved seeing him, and I loved following his counsel as best I could.

And now we start a new chapter in the church. How thrilling for me to prepare to love and support a new prophet. Because really, the prophet is just God's mouthpiece right? And God's certainly not going anywhere.

Thank heaven for that.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

a review

Some (just some) of my favorite memories of 2007
(But just the memories. What that means is that with the exception of this remark, this particular entry will be completely devoid of the wordy explanations that you have come to expect on this site. Enjoy.)

January-Thinking I had developed hypothermia on my morning walk.

February-Burning a whole pan of perfectly shaped breadsticks while hosting a Valentine Dinner.

March-Hearing things I had never known about my Grandmother Corry.

April-Walking into a room in the Logan temple with my Eric, seeing all my siblings, all Eric's siblings, my parents, Eric's parents, most of my aunts & uncles, most of Eric's aunts and uncles, along with as many friends as we could fit there, waiting to see us sealed. Heaven!

May-Laying on the grass at a park in San Francisco, listening to jazz music with Eric.

June-Singing at Summerfest

July-Realizing that I didn't need to be as confused and frustrated with the American Political System as I had become.

August-Meeting up with a niece after having not seen her for four whole weeks, having her jump into my arms and tell me that she had missed me.

September-Chatting with Jeri face-to-face for several hours, for the first time in over six years.

October-Cuddling with Eric in the first Peter Breinholt Concert we'd ever attended together.

November-Tithing Settlement. (Thanksgiving was fun too)

December-Being in town for the Corry Family Caroling party for the first time in ten years.

What a GREAT year!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Who's S.A.D.?

Yesterday morning when I woke up at 7:00 , the temperature here was -5 degrees Fahrenheit. This morning when I woke up at 6:56, the temperature here was -6 degrees Fahrenheit.

In January, February, and March, I sometimes struggle (to varying degrees) with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I prefer to use the term "The Winter Blues" or "The Winter Blahs", because I don't like phrases that contain the words "I" and "disorder" in them. No matter what we call it though, the fact is that I tend to be more grouchy, less optimistic, and more prone to unnecessary worrying and discouragement during the winter months than I do during the other months. Some years it's agonizing (the winter of 2005 comes to mind), and some years it's just a little annoying. (So far this year looks like it might turn out that way. Here's hoping.)

Anyway, over the years, I've come up with a few little survival techniques that have helped me get through the winters with more joy and less gloom. So, just for fun, I'll post a few of them here:

1. I have 5-6 hat/scarf sets, and I wear them almost every day. I'm lucky in that my hair looks about the same whether or not I've just taken off a hat. That works out well for me, because I simply LOVE wearing hats in the winter. They keep me warmer, and for some reason I feel jauntily pretty when I'm wearing one. As to the scarves, that's more of a warmth thing than an "I feel pretty" thing. I'm always surprised at how much colder I feel when I leave the house without my scarf. Call me a wimp, but I'd rather be wimpy and warm than strong and cold.

2. I try to schedule at least one out-of-the-valley trip in either February or March each year. This year Eric and I are taking our we-didn't-gain-any-weight-over-the-holidays reward weekend trip in February. We'll probably just end up in Salt Lake, but I'm looking forward to that nearly as much as if we were headed to balmy Jamaica. And then (speaking of balmy), in March we're headed to Alabama to visit the Keslers. How fun will that be? Thoughts of that trip are getting me through many a cold winter morning these days.

3. I start reminding people in the middle of February that my birthday is less than a month away. It's a bit obnoxious, but nothing gets me through a cold snowy January, followed by a cold snowy February, followed by a cold snowy March, like remembering that my birthday is coming up. Since celebrating a birthday isn't nearly as fun alone as it is with others, and since I have extremely good-natured friends and relatives who humor me, I've gotten pretty good at milking this as my own personal holiday. It's GREAT.

4. Sometimes, when the clouds settle in for more than a day or two, I take a quick road trip up into the mountains on my lunch break. I'm generally amazed at just how much of a difference a few minutes in the sunshine can make for my outlook.

That's pretty much all I can think of for the moment, and I have a pretty full evening planned. So, I'd better end this for now. Stay warm out there.


ps-Two posts in two days! Don't get used to this. You may not hear from me again until Sunday or Monday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What I did last night

Last night, while Eric was working on some homework, I took digital pictures of all our worldly possessions. (It took about 15 minutes total. We don't exactly live in a mansion, but it is more than ample for our needs.) Why was I taking the time to make a lasting record of our pre-fabricated entertainment center, our television that has lost its power knob, (and can only be turned off or on by using the remote control), and the collection of (I'm embarrassed to admit) twenty-one scrapbooks? I'll tell you.

In October Eric and I attended a meeting where one of the speakers talked about how to prepare for a natural disaster. The speaker had been living in New Orleans during the time of Hurricane Katrina, and so she had a perspective that was kind of unique, to say the least. Anyway, one of her suggestions was that we get photos of all our furnishings etc., so that if we ever need to make an insurance claim, we can use the photos for documentation.

My Beloved Guitar

Eric and I both thought it was a good idea, and so I put it on the"to do" list. Three months later it's pretty close to being done (I still need to order prints, and upload the pictures to snapfish or photobucket). I'd like to say that it took me three months to do it because the list is so long, but really it's not. It's just that since Eric and I started the days of the glorious marriage, I seem to get distracted much more easily than I did in the old days of glorious singleness.

Our collection of wreaths-one for every season

Oh well. Efficiency is over-rated, right?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Charlotte's Counsel for a Storybook Wedding

A year ago, Eric and I (and Eric's mom and my mom) were planning our wedding. As I've been remembering those days, I've been reminded of a few things with that that turned out exceptionally well, things that were kind of a surprise to me. Now, I know that many of the people who read this blog are already married. All I can say to that is too bad. You are welcome to skip this post if you want, because today, just for kicks, I'm going to share a few of these things that worked out so well for us. I figure that sometime soon my memory is going to fade, and so I'd better get this stuff written out now.*

So, without further ado, here are five things (in ascending order) that worked MAGNIFICENTLY for Eric and I on the occasion of our wedding:

5. We had a secret engagement (kind of) for a week or so before we announced it to the world. It was the end of November when we decided to get married. Since it took a little over a week to get the ring and everything, we didn't spread the word of our engagement far and wide until December 8. Now, neither Eric nor I are really good at keeping secrets, and so by the time we were ready for the world to know, our parents already knew, as did our siblings, as did many of our friends. But for me, I remember that week of semi-secrecy as being really fun. I remember looking at Eric, and having a little secret shimmery feeling inside as I reminded myself that he was going to be mine. Does that sound silly? Perhaps. But it was fun. Fun, fun, fun.

4. Our reception was casual casual casual. We held it in a rehearsal room at the opera (scenic technicians did me the amazing favor of fixing the room up so it was just beautiful). I didn't wear my wedding dress, Eric wasn't in a tuxedo. We had gingham table toppers and pansies on the tables, and the whole thing looked kind of like a spring picnic. We served about 10 different varieties of pie, all made by anyone who made the mistake of asking me if they could help me with my wedding preparations. It was pretty easy and soooo fun. I loved it.

3. We had a chocolate wedding cake with chocolate frosting, garnished with chocolate-dipped strawberries. Need I say more? It was delicious! No white cake or carrot cake for us!

2. (Another reception one) We had our wedding reception the night before our actual wedding. You're nervous the night before your wedding anyway, right? So, we had our reception then. Between all the hugging and meeting and hosting, there really wasn't time to be nervous. In addition to that little benefit, the next day, when our marriage ceremony and wedding luncheon was over, we rode off into the sunset (literally--it was about 6:00 p.m.), free to start our new life, fresh and blissfully happy. It was awesome.

1. Speaking of riding off into the sunset, We didn't go on our actual honeymoon until about two weeks after our wedding. This was because of Eric's school schedule, but it worked out perfectly. Immediately after our wedding we had a weekend honeymoon-ette in Salt Lake City. That was fun and relaxing and required very little preparation (a good thing if you've just spent four months planning a wedding). Two weeks later, we took our real honeymoon to San Francisco. By this time we'd been living together for a bit and we were used to some of the (big) changes that come with married life. That made everything easier and more relaxed and just more fun. We had an absolute ball.

So, there you have it. I've been trying for about 10 minutes to come up with some witty way of ending this post, with no success. So, I'll just end it here and now--rather unwittily this time.

Have a nice weekend,


*I should mention that this advice is most appropriate for those who are planning an LDS Temple Wedding and Marriage in Utah. Utah weddings tend to be less extravagant and less expensive than weddings in other states, and when you add the LDS temple into that mix, it changes the festivities even more.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

a tale of tellers

Note: This post actually only mentions the tale of tellers as a tangent to some other tangents discussed in detail. But, I couldn't resist the title.

Well, all is well with us today. Often when I sit down to write here, I have an experience I want to share, or some thoughts that I want to describe, or some photos, or some random something to illustrate. Not so much today. Today is a basic blog, I guess. Sometimes when I don't have something specific in mind I get a little rambly (is that a word?). So, I'll try to keep it in check.

The audit is going well, in case you were wondering. It's taking a little bit longer than I had optimistically hoped it would, but that's the way audits go generally. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be an auditor. The CPA who is doing the field work for our audit sits at a table outside my office for about 6 hours each day. She overhears all the things I say to my co-workers, and (almost surely more interestingly), she overhears all the things my co-workers say to me. Recently that included a detailed description of just how diva-esque one of our summer company members is shaping up to be (you would not believe some of the demands this person made!), an in-depth-discussion of what the optimum method for accepting contributions over the internet might be, and a telling of the tale of two bank tellers who temporarily lost the keys to the vault and (even worse) accidentally announced that fact to any and all customers who were in the lobby at the time.

In other news, Bonita Juanita is having a birthday this Sunday. She's not much of a blog reader, so I doubt that there will be any new poetry in her honor here this week. As I think about it, Juanita's native language is Spanish, so for it to be a truly meaningful tribute, I would really need to do it in Spanish. Now, I adore Juanita, but the fact is, I'm pretty sure that I don't have the vocabulary for that. After all, this is the girl who needed to say "Lake of Salt" so she could get a rhyme with "fault". Me, write a whole poem in Spanish? Now, let's not be silly!

And I think that's enough for today. As I leave you today, I'm wondering--Have any of you had the good fortune of attending a Sauerkraut Festival?

(I have not.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Starstruck (or--the heights of happiness)

This could be turn out to be kind of a long story if I'm not careful. So, I'm going to try to be careful. Just lookin' out for you all out there.
So, as you will remember (from reading this post), I am a big fan of the singer/songwriter Christine Lavin. What I did not tell you in the post referenced above is that in addition to really enjoying her songs, I've also learned how to play a few of them on the guitar, and I've had some really fun experiences singing them at parties, family reunions, informal gatherings, Summerfest, etc.

What I also did not tell you (is that grammar even close to being correct?) is that last April,

Jacob (my brother) and I took this song, entitled "Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind" , and changed the lyrics about opera, skiing, and sushi to lyrics about comic books, dogs, and kim chee. I then sang the tweaked version to Eric and all our guests at our wedding reception. (This was

only made possible because Michelle was willing and able to create a piano accompaniment for the song using only a CD recording and my transcribed guitar chords. That is why she is listed on my blogroll as "accompanist extraordinaire".)


So, now that you have that background, we move on to the present happiness.

Yesterday, my mother was elected to be one of the Vice-Presidents for the Utah State School Board Association. That's kind of a big deal, and I'm proud of her. As part of her campaigning, she asked me (several months ago) if I would be willing to sing yet another version of "Good Thing . . . " at the state convention for her. We got to work (again including Jacob) and came up with a version that spoke about some of the things that school board members do that they don't particularly enjoy, (attending legislative meetings, attending public hearings, campaigning for office, meeting with angry parents, etc., etc.) but are willing to do because of their love for the children in the state.

I sang the song at the convention yesterday morning, and by the (completely biased) account of my mom, it was a big hit. People came up to her in throngs, asking for the words to that witty song, and pressing her for information about that darling, talented, treasure-of-a-girl who sang it. Or, maybe they were actually more interested in the song. I'll let you can decide.

By the time all this happened I was back home, ninety minutes away. Mom called me, and arranged for me to e-mail the lyrics to her, which she will copy today, and presumably distribute to as many of the 300+ school board members and superintendents who want them.

And now we get to the heights of happiness . . .

As I was preparing the lyric sheet to be sent, I decided to go to the Christine Lavin web site and send an e-mail from there, just letting Christine know how much fun I'd been having with her song, and thanking her. So I did. I did that around 6:00 yesterday evening, and then Eric and I left to attend a birthday celebration for one of our friends (which turned out to be great fun, if you're interested).

When we returned, around 10:00 or so, I was checking the e-mail, and what should I find, but a personal response from my quirky singing guru, Christine Lavin! Yippee!! As it turns out, one of her grandmothers was named Charlotte, she herself has changed the lyrics of that song a few times, and she "LOVES it and is thrilled" that I am tweaking and singing her songs. How cool is that?

Now, as you will recall from this post, I am no stranger to fame, and this is certainly not my first experience hob-nobbing with a celebrity. But, I have to admit, it very well may be my favorite so far. I'm totally, embarrassingly, even recklessly starstruck at the moment.


It's a good thing she can't read my mind.

(cheesey, I know)
(I just couldn't resist)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Brilliant Idea by Charlotte

Remember how I was going to see about learning Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata?

Yeah, I recently looked at the sheet music for that, and I think I'd better wait a while.

However, Sunday night, as I was furiously practicing to get ready for my first piano lesson in nearly three weeks, I was struck by an idea that is nothing if not absolutely brilliant. I decided that I would learn how to play every song in the Children's Songbook. That way, at some point I will be able to serve (if asked) as the regular (or back-up) primary pianist!

See, I was thinking about our ward. The woman who is currently our Primary Pianist has been serving there for over three years now. Since the Primary classes meet at the same time as the Sunday School and Relief Society classes, she has been fairly isolated from most of the other adults in our ward for all that time. Now, being in primary is nothing if not fun. The kids are adorable, always saying or doing things that just make me laugh (or make me think), and it's just a great time. All the same, a little variety is always nice, and I think if I had been in primary for 3+ years, I might hanker for a little break sometimes. If there was someone who had the courage, and some of the skill to fill in for me at times, I know I'd be grateful. So, part of my motivation is that I'd like to be helpful for her.

The second part of the motivation is pure self-preservation (some might even call it laziness, but that is not my preferred term). See, as I look over the jobs that can be requested of women in the LDS church*, Primary Pianist looks pretty good to me. Think about it . . . you're in with those cute kids, and (as long as you know how to play all the songs), there is basically no preparation involved. No lessons to prepare, no organizational duties to perform, nothing like that. Basically, you show up, play whatever songs the chorister has decided the kids need to learn/sing, and go home. Heaven!!

So, I ran my brilliant idea by my teacher on Tuesday, and she was all for it. She got me on a schedule, gave me some sight-reading tips, and sent me home with instructions to have four songs learned (if possible) by next Tuesday. Since the book has 285 pages of music in it, I figure I should be ready to go by December of 2009.

Four songs (almost) down, two-hundred-and-eighty-one to go. Woo-Hoo!

*Relief Society Presidency, Relief Society Teacher, Enrichment Leader, Visiting Teaching Coordinator, Young Women Presidency, Primary Presidency, Primary Teacher, Primary Chorister, Cub Scout Den Leader, Activities Committee Chairperson or Committee Member, etc., etc. . . . you get the idea.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

what goes around comes around

So, back in 1995, when I first came to USU to attend Grad School, I was hired to be a Graduate Assistant in the School of Accountancy. As part of my work there, I graded the exams and homework of one Accounting 101 class, as well as one Accounting 201 class. One of my neighbors was in the Accounting 101 class.

Fast forward several years. That neighbor ended up marrying the sister of one of my roommates from that year. He lives on my side of the valley with his little family, and although we aren't exactly neighbors, I do pass their home from time to time on my morning walks. He is a CPA, and is employed by one of the larger accounting firms in our community.

Interestingly, it is his firm that has performed our annual audit* for several years, and is in the process of doing so again this year. Also interestingly, he is the "manager" (or whatever you call it) over this audit, meaning that he is the one who calls me, schedules the field work, does much of the review work, and is basically my contact at the CPA firm. So basically, for a couple of years now, he has looked over all my professional work, determined whether or not I've done it right, and then his firm has reported their findings to my Board of Trustees. (Talk about turning the tables!)

Sometimes I think about that. I think about it hard, and I hope with all my heart that I was fair and kind to him as I corrected his Accounting 101 tests all those years ago.

Man, do I ever!

*I'm not talking about an IRS audit here. Non-profit organizations who have any hope of receiving major grants pretty much have to have an audit by an outside organization each year. This is because most major foundations as well as government granting agencies will not even look at a grant application unless it contains a copy of the annual audit.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


This is another post about one of my grandfathers.

My maternal grandfather's name was Bertram Trowbridge Willis. He lived in Salt Lake City, in a big old house in the avenues there. He was one of the most gentle men I think I've ever met. Once we moved from Georgia to Utah (in 1977), we used to see my Grandfather (and Grandmother) Willis several times a year, right up until he passed away in 1997 . In all that time, I saw my grandfather get angry only one time. Oddly enough, it was over something relatively small. My brothers and I were bouncing a ball in the basement of our home (something that was forbidden), and the ball bounced higher than we were expecting, hitting the light fixture and almost breaking it. At that point, grandpa gave us all the most stern look I'd ever seen on his face, and said, "That's enough of that."

He was right. The ball was put away, and I don't remember what we went off to next. Anyway, that was the only time I saw him upset about anything.

Here are a few facts about my Grandpa Willis:

He married my grandmother on a short leave (like 3-day) that he had from the army. I think he only gave her about a week or so of notice, but she was glad to do it. As it turns out, I was born 25-30 years later, on their wedding anniversary. I always thought that was kind of fun.

He served as an officer in the army during WWII, and spent most of his time guarding a POW camp in Rheims, France. He became close to some of the French soldiers there, and kept in contact with some of them throughout the rest of his life.

He was a student of languages. He would study languages (on his own) pretty much every morning. When he became fairly proficient at one, he would request that he and my grandmother offer the blessing on their breakfast in different languages, depending on the day.

He was just a little bit quirky (like someone else you might know). One day, several years ago, I was talking to my mother about clothing, and how we each choose our clothing for the day. While I was in high school, I had devised a method for this, that I still use to this day. I don't like trying to remember what clothes I've worn recently, and I don't like spending a lot of time each morning trying to decide what to wear (when I could be sleeping instead). So, I line up all my shirts/blouses/sweaters/jackets/vests/etc. in the closet, and I basically take the first thing on the hanger each day and wear it. When I'm finished with that article of clothing, it either goes into the clothes hamper for laundering, or it goes to the back of the closet, where it works its way up to line again. If a shirt comes up that I don't want to wear, I can skip it once, but if I don't want to wear it the next time it has "its turn", then it's off to the goodwill pile.

As I told my mom about this, she got really quiet, and just looked at me with great big eyes, looking more and more incredulous the further I got in my explanation. Finally, I was becoming a little unnerved, and I asked her what the big deal was. She then explained to me that my clothes system was almost exactly the same method that my grandfather used to use to choose his clothing in the morning. Isn't that odd?

Since then I've learned that there are other quirky traits that I share with my grandfather. Rather than go into them all though, I'll just briefly share a few memories I have of him, and that will be it for today.

When I was little, grandpa would take me out on our back porch and point out the different constellations to me. I could NEVER see any of them in the sky, but I didn't want to hurt his feelings, and so I always pretended that I knew exactly what he was pointing out.

One year, my grandparents came to our house for Christmas. For our annual Christmas Eve talent show, grandfather played Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for us all. Although I'd heard the piece on cassettes and the radio prior to that, this was my first time actually watching someone play it. It was awesome.

My grandpa used to always give me a kiss on the cheek, followed by a hug whenever he would see me. Unfortunately, I'm more of a hug-but-no-kiss kind of a person, and it took me awhile to remember about that kiss. What would usually happen is that I would go straight for the hug, and grandpa would get a mouthful of long brown hair. Eventually I remembered though. That was a nice development for both of us, I'm sure.

Less than two months before he passed away, I was at my grandfather's house for Thanksgiving. One day during the afternoon, I sat down at the piano, and started working out the piano accompaniment (such as I could) for some Christmas songs that I was learning to sing. I worked on them for the better part of an hour that day, and then I went on to something else. As I was leaving for home the next day, I went in to give my grandpa a goodbye hug. As he hugged me, he said, "I want you to keep it up with that piano playing, okay?"

By then my grandfather was quite ill, and I knew that I wouldn't have many more opportunities to see him. That's probably why I remember that hug and those words so well. That is also probably the biggest reason for the fact that I am the only thirty-six-and-a-half-year-old that I know who is still (or again, depending on how you look at it) taking piano lessons.

Maybe I'll see if my teacher will let me start on the Moonlight Sonata this year. I'm sure my grandfather would have liked that.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

factories and potions

So, it's Thursday, and all is well. I have a few minutes and so I thought I'd write a quick note here.

The big news of the week is that our humidifier died a few days ago. I've learned that I do much better at fighting off the winter gunk if I sleep with a humidifier at night. So, owning a broken humidifier just wasn't an option for us, and I purchased a new one within a day of the demise of the old one. It's been good, but a bit of an adjustment. The new one makes a sound that is different from the old one, and it's slightly louder as well. Eric and I have both been able to fall asleep to the sound of the new one, but interestingly, we've both been having humidifier-influenced dreams. Eric dreamed that he was working in a factory two nights ago, and then last night, I dreamed that I was in a room with several bottles of hissing potions, all of which would cure one ailment or another.

(What we used to have)
(What we have now)

I think it's interesting that we both heard the same sound, yet our subconscious minds came up with vastly different interpretations of what that sound signified.

Hmmm. . .

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