Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in Review - 2008

As 2008 comes to an end, it's fun and fitting to look back at all the things that have happened this year. It's been an interesting year - sometimes I can't believe I experienced all I have. Here we go:

Places Visited: (new places in italics) - I travelled a lot this past year!!!
Portland, OR
Salt Lake City, UT - a dozen or more times
Beaver, UT
Montrose, CO
Grand Junction, CO (I'd passed through it, but never stayed)
American Fork, UT
Tooele, UT
Price, UT
Cheyenne, WY
Page, AZ
Bullfrog, UT - the drive from Page to Bullfrog qualifies as the most interesting drive all year.
Guernsey, WY - favorite place I went to for work
Delta, UT
Richfield, UT
Torrington, WY
Scottsbluff, NE - I jaunted over to Nebraska while staying in Torrington.
Vernal, UT - a couple times
Logan, UT
Charlotte, NC - just the airport, but I'm counting it because I'd never been to NC before!
Boston, MA - I'd been to the outskirts, but not downtown
St. John, New Brunswick
St. Martin, NB
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Sydney, NS
Bar Harbor, ME
Ogden, UT
Layton, UT - a few times,;once for work, the others for fun
Denver, CO

Guys Dated: 1 - a decrease from the 3 from last year, but I'm okay with it. I was too busy to date this year.

Number of Boyfriends: 1 - not too bad. Better than most years!

Guys Kissed: 2 - the same as last year. I'm not sure how proud I am of the second guy, but it sure made life interesting! I still can't believe I let him kiss me again in Denver!

Homes Bought: 1! I love my home. And, slowly I'm adding to it, making it even better.

Biggest Accomplishment: getting my CDL.

Not My Proudest Moment: letting Shawn kiss me, multiple times, even though I had a boyfriend. I still shake me head when I think of it.

Surgeries: 1 - go here to get updates

Weight Lost: 30 lbs

Languages "Learned": 1 - sign language. I'd like to improve both my other languages this coming year.

Accidents: 1 - that darn lamp post!

Roommates: 2 - kind of.

Favorite New Book Read: The Red House Mystery by AA Milne - short but so enjoyable
Runners Up: MacBeth by William Shakespear (made more enjoyable by reading it aloud with friends), The Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke (I've read 3 of the 11 in the series), An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimon (second time reading and woefully left off of last year's list). In 2009 I'm going to start recording the books I read so I'll have a better idea of what I read this time next year. :)

Fun Activities/Events: Cruise, Shakespear Festival, potluck dinner with friends, cousins weekends (especially the last one - was so glad Kristi came this time!), weekly movie night alone, driving Bertha and the Beast, numerous dinners with my wonderful friends, Pampered Chef parties, Thanksgiving in Vernal, playing Wii with my family, reading Shakespear out loud, and tons of other things I can't think of right now. It was a fun year.

Happiest Moment: Unlike last year, I don't have one clear winner, so here's a few:
Waking up in my new home, seeing Dad sealed to Paula (it was bittersweet), learning to back up the truck and trailer, moving back home after spending a week at Mom's, being told by a good friend that he thinks I'm beautiful, cooking in my kitchen

Toughest Moment: Again, no clear winner, but here's a couple that were hard:
Telling Anthony about Shawn, breaking up with Anthony, spending my birthday alone in a hotel room shortly after breaking up with Anthony, admitting to running into the lamp post, deciding to get a roommate (turned out awesome, though!), 10 days of nothing but SlimFast, water, apple juice, and popsicles.

Biggest Reliefs: 1) Breaking up with Anthony. I was so worried he was going to propose before I got the courage to end it! 2) Passing my CDL driving exam. 3) Eating solid food again after more than 2 weeks.

Regrets: I can't think of any. I know I haven't always made the best decisions this year, but each time I made a "mistake", it turned out okay and/or I learned from it. (I wrote this at the end of last year's post, but it fits with this year so well, I decided to keep it.)

Hopes for the new year: Stay tuned...my next post will be about my new years resolutions and plans.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This Christmas

Hi Everyone!

I'm back in the blogging world and glad to be here. I hope you all had a great Christmas. Mine was...interesting. Well, it was as good as it could possibly be under the circumstances.

I won't be writing a whole lot about it since I'm covering most of it in my other blog - my surgery coloring everything about this Christmas. However, I like the idea of recording what presents I received and gave to help me out next year when I'm trying to remember (I have a horrible memory sometimes).

Gave:
Dad: My younger brothers and I went in together and gave him a Blu Ray disc player. I'm excited to watch something with it since I've heard there's quite a difference.

Mom: Pampered Chef red stone pie dish and pot separator. I ♥ Pampered Chef's stoneware!

Kevin: Massage pad that can be used at home or in the car - I was jealous when he was using it, it looked so comfy! - and a foot water spa/massager.

Friends/Cousins: a box of mini, colored dice

Liz: Pampered Chef rectangle stone - did I mention I love PC?

Boss: personalized t-shirt and mug. The mug has his picture with "Awesome Audiologist". The shirt has a muscle man on the front with "Husband, Father, Bishop, Audiologist, Boss, AuD Student, Home Teacher, Geocacher" on the back.

Coworker: A bag of Pampered Chef goodies; apple corer, measuring cup, corn butterer, oil spritzer

Macey: Earrings and jewelry box - she loved the jewelry box and was in desperate need for one.

Porter: Checkers/Chess. I had bought him a DVD but then heard that his favorite recess activity was playing checkers. His dad told me that he didn't have his own set.

Brooke: I commissioned a tutu for her from Melissa - it was so cute! She loves it! Go here for more info and pictures.

Scott: red light saber and R2-D2 figurine

Received:
Mom - 2 bar stools that look perfect at my kitchen bar and shephards for my Willow Tree nativity

Dad - black tv stand, Sarah MacLaughlin cd, the next 4 books of the Hannah Swensen Mysteries series by Joanne Fluke (Dad gives us money, we buy our presents, then take them to him to wrap for us to open on Christmas.)

Kevin - IKEA stuff to make hanging "storage" for my kitchen. There's a couple long rods on which I can attach hooks and clips. Then I can hang a variety of kitchen items from these hooks and clips, including a wood cutting board from IKEA. I'm still not sure how it's going to work out, but Kevin got the idea from my mom who heard how much I liked Framed's kitchen hanging "storage".

Boss - three games (Zooletto, Hit or Miss, and Ticket to Ride) and money. My family has played the last two to-date and really enjoyed them.

Coworker - pomegranate candle and stationary cards.

Friends - original photographs, scarf, piano music cd, Pier 1 candle

Cousins - 10 black frames perfect for how I'm decorating my living room (Aly) and still a mystery (Cassie) - I like getting presents "late" as it keeps the fun going longer.

Liz and Jeff - apple cinammon scent diffuser that looks like a red crystal ball and a picture of red flowers on a yellow background - both are perfect for my planned living room decor!

Grandma - a Christmas book, a great tradition!

Please don't think I think Christmas is only about the presents. I do tend to get thoughtful gifts and I love thinking about what to get people, but presents are not what I think about when I think of Christmas. Spending time with my family (for good and bad), food, and parties with friends come to mind when I think of Christmas. This Christmas had most of these things (no Chex Mix, candy, poppy seed cake, or caramel corn for me this year!), so it was a good Christmas.

And, due to my surgery, I wasn't nearly as stressed as usual.

Woohoo!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Time

Tomorrow I'm going in for surgery.

In a way, I can't believe it's actually going to happen. I'm not nervous about the surgery - I'm ready for it. I received 2 blessings (one from my home teacher last night and one from my dad today) that were very comforting and brought me a lot of peace.I love priesthood blessings. It was especially sweet to get one from my dad.

As unpleasant as the last week has been (partaking of just SlimFast, water, and popsicles), it has proven my resolve and prepared me for the path ahead. I'm sure it's still going to be tough sometimes, but at this point I'm not having any second thoughts or doubts.

Thank heavens!

So, since I may not blog for awhile, I want to wish everyone...

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dear Santa...

I've been a pretty good girl this year.

Yes, there have been a few hiccups in the past 12 months (kissing a guy who wasn't my boyfriend, hitting a light post, cursing more times than I can count - usually while driving B&B, and *ahem* blogging instead of working *ahem*), but I definitely think I've been a good-er girl this year than last year. Nobody's perfect. And, I promise to be even more good next year!

So, if you'd be so kind as to look over my Christmas List and maybe put a few things under my Christmas tree, I'd really appreciate it.

My Christmas List

Not only are these ruby slippers snazzy and would look great with my favorite outfit, but they're also pretty darn handy. Do you think they just work for returning home whenever you want, or can they take you anywhere?


I promise I wouldn't use this elevator all the time - I know that going up my stairs is good, and needed, exercise. I'd just use it after grocery shopping, when returning from a trip, or basically whenever laden with heavy stuff. I promise.



In case you don't know, Santa, this is Simon Baker. If I found him under my tree, I'd be the happiest girl! He has gorgeous eyes, a charming smile, and he's Australian! Wow. I can already imagine cuddling with him in front of a fireplace. If you can't get him, I'd take...




...a beagle instead. What a cutie! My coworker just got one and I'm wanting one pretty bad now. Did you know that they don't shed? And, I hear they are good cuddlers.



In the event that I actually get Simon Baker for Christmas, I'll need this in order to have something in front of which to snuggle with him. There's nothing like watching a fire with someone to make you feel all warm and content. Aaahhh.




These pretties are my favorite dessert. I ♥ them more than words can express. Can I make a simple request, though? Will you please delay giving me these until I can start eating food again. Thank you!



Since buying a home, I have found that most of the things I really want have to do with improving it. I'd love this baby, especially if it came with the aforementioned fireplace. And man. Or dog. Really, as long as it includes a treasure trove of books, I'll be happy. See how easy-to-please I am?



I've always wanted to take a train trip somewhere, anywhere, as long as it's interesting and picturesque. It would be fun if I had company, so will you also give this gift to someone I love to talk to, please? You're the best, Santa!



I hope you enjoy the snack I leave for you this year. I couldn't help but notice that last year not only did you eat what I left for you, but you also ate the divinity I had hidden in the cupboard. I'm glad you liked it, but I was a teeny bit disappointed to not have any when I woke up.

Please pass on my well-wishes to your wife, the reindeer, and all the elves.

Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas!

Julie :)

P.S. I'll be staying with my mom on Christmas Eve, so don't worry about going to my condo. It'll save you a trip - you can bring my presents when you bring my mom's. See how thoughtful I am? Thanks again!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Continued Colorado Craziness

I can't decide if I need to stop traveling to Colorado or if I should go there every month! I've been in that state three times in two years and each time interesting things have happened. The first time, an ex-boyfriend and I decided to try rekindling romance. You can read about the last time I was there here. I just returned from another trip to Colorado and, boy, was it interesting!

I left Wednesday night directly after work and drove a few hours, staying the night in Green River, UT. No biggie. Standard drive. Standard hotel. Standard.

Thursday, I hit bad weather and roads just east of Glenwood Springs. I panicked a bit when I kept seeing signs warning that commercial vehicles had to have chains or else were breaking the law. I didn't have chains (dang it, I should have listened to my boss!). At one point, police cars were directing vehicles; they'd either wave them on or signal for them to pull over to put on chains. The policeman waved me on, so I figured that I was okay without the chains. Thank heavens for 4-wheel drive and a duely! I don't usually mind driving in bad weather, but this was so stressful! I worried about the trailer and how it would react if I had to stop quickly or started to slide, so I drove pretty slowly. If I never have to go through that Vail pass in the winter again, it'll be too soon. No doubt, it was beautiful - what scenery I saw since my eyes were pretty much glued to the road and my side windows - but I would've gladly given up the beauty if it meant not having the stress and mental fatigue as well.

When I finally got down from the pass and into Denver, it started snowing harder and I hit major traffic. It took me almost 90 minutes to get from the west end of Denver to my destination, Aurora, on the other side. When I got to the base, I was so tired of driving and manuevering around cars, but I still had to go through an inspection of my vehicles and set up the trailer. Fortunately, someone was there to help me because there was a wall of dirty ice completely surrounding both the trailer legs, which need to be lowered before unhitching the trailer from the truck. It took us about 20 minutes to get enough ice off to be able to lower the legs. On top of it all, I worried about the snow piling up on the roof of the trailer because we recently discovered that we have a leaky roof. All night I worried that water would leak in, destroy more ceiling tiles, and possibly leak on to the space heaters causing a fire that would burn down the entire trailer. Yes, I was awesomely tired.

Friday, I was pleased to discover the trailer intact. The snow had stopped after I had checked into the hotel so very little had accumulated on the trailer's roof. I hurried to set up everything so I could start at 8am then waited and waited. No one came. After 45 minutes, I called Sgt. M, who had met me at the base the night before, and asked what was happening. He didn't know why no one had come. Almost an hour later, I still hadn't seen anyone. As some of you know, I'm not the most patient of people, especially when being kept waiting. Especially when I wake up a whole heckuva lot earlier than I like to make sure I'm on time. Finally, the guys started coming. I was on fire. I was testing faster than I've ever tested. Cpt. H, who checked on me from time to time, was extremely impressed. He said I was a lot faster than the guy they've had since the last time I worked with them.

Saturday, I slept in a little because I didn't have to set up the trailer. Just as I finished calibrating the audiometers, Shawn walked in. I had kind of hoped that he wasn't there since I hadn't seen him Friday. Nope. He had thought it was that other guy, so he hadn't bothered to come out to the trailer. (Everyone I had met in April came out to chat with me at some point or other once they discovered I was there, and they all were so glad I was there instead of the other guy. It made me feel good.) He had overheard some soldiers talking about the lady doing the hearing tests and he wondered if it could be me. When he saw the license plates, he said he got excited to see me again. He gave me a huge hug like we were best friends that hadn't seen each other in years. I wondered if he was going to kiss me, but the door opened and a couple soldiers walked in. I got them into the booths and started their tests. Shawn and I conversed for a little bit while I monitored the tests. He said he needed to get back inside but that he'd come back to see me later. He leaned down and hugged me again - his face nuzzled in the crook of my neck, kind of tickling me. It actually felt really nice.

I was on fire again and in 3 hours I tested 65 people - lots more than I was "supposed to". The head honchos of the medical corps called Logistics to see if they'd authorize me to keep testing (it wasn't quite noon, so I could've tested a lot more people and they really wanted the help), but Logistics didn't want to pay me more, so I was told to close up shop. All the time I was testing, Shawn would come to chat but nothing else could happen because I always had people in the trailer waiting for their turn. Fred stopped by - remember him? He came during one of Shawn's visits and didn't stay long. I barely got to talk to him, which really disappointed me. I'd like to get to know him better. I trust him more than I do Shawn. Fred asked if I was working on Sunday and I said no. He frowned and said he wouldn't be able to get away again that day but had hoped to come chat with me more Sunday. Sigh.

It was shortly after this that they had me stop. I gathered up all the paperwork, prepped the trailer for travel, then went inside to finish up the paperwork. I asked a soldier to help me locate one of the people who could help me, he brought me Shawn. For the next hour, Shawn and I took care of the paperwork, sometimes having to go all over the armory to find this officer or that officer. We finally got into an officer's office in order to fax something that needed to be faxed. While it was being faxed, Shawn closed and locked the door from which we'd entered, saying that we'd leave through the opposite door. When I was ready, I headed to the door. He chuckled and said that we were locked in. I knew he was joking so I laughed and said jokingly, "Oh no! What are we going to do now?" Just as I asked, I tried the door and it really was locked. I turned around and he stepped towards me saying, "I can think of something." Then he kissed me.

When I accepted this contract, I figured I'd see Shawn. I thought about what I'd do if he tried to kiss me and had decided that I wouldn't let him. The more I thought of it, I became convinced that he wouldn't even try. Afterall, he obviously wasn't interested in me because it's been ages since we've been in contact (though I did kind of discourage further contact, subtly, awhile ago). I should have been more on guard, but I just couldn't believe that he would actually kiss me again. And, when I'm completely honest with myself, I would have been disappointed if he hadn't. What can I say? He's a great kisser.

This time was just as good as before. It wasn't a makeout-type kiss. Just a mildly long, lingering kiss. Heaven help me, that man has soft lips!! It took a lot of effort to pull away because every part of me wanted to wrap my arms around his neck and kiss him long and hard. I guess I'm easy, just not that easy. He chuckled and pulled me back in for a hug, whispering, "You are so sexy when you blush." I pulled away, laughingly thanking him, blushing furiously. Finally, I said I really needed to go so I could try to take a nap and asked him to please open the door. He did, rubbing my back as I walked through. The room was crowded with people, and I swear each of them turned to look at us as we entered. He walked me out to the hallway, then gently took hold of my arm to turn me towards the correct door when I mistakenly sstarted in the opposite direction (that place was such a maze!). We were almost at the door when a soldier came and said they needed him somewhere. He looked annoyed but had to go. He turned to me and made me promise to find him before I left the next day. I said I would, and he left.

Today, I arrived at the armory and there were tanks surrounding the trailer. Typical, I thought, just typical. When I pulled up, a group of soldiers who were having a smoke break, came over to chat with me - I had tested them all - I've found that soldiers are really friendly once I've tested their hearing, for some reason. We chatted about the truck and they mentioned how impressed they were that I drove it and the trailer. Finally, the tank drivers came out and moved the tanks so I could hook up the trailer. They stayed around and helped me, I love how polite military men can be! They all called me Ma'm, both young and old. I was tempted to leave without seeking out Shawn, but I decided to try to find him since I'd promised. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. No one knew where he was. I don't have his phone number since I lost it with all the others when my old phone died. I had opted against asking him for it when he asked if I had the same phone number when he noticed my new phone. (He also noticed my haircut and said he liked how it frames my "gorgeous blue eyes" - see what I mean, he's a player.) I figured, if he wants to talk to me, he could call me. I finally gave up and just left. I had mixed feelings about not seeing him. A part of me was relieved, another part of me had really hoped for a goodbye kiss.

The roads and sky were wonderfully clear as I went over the Vail pass this morning. I listened to a book on cd and enjoyed the scenery I had only caught glimpses of before. I pulled off I-70 at Glenwood Springs to gas up. I should say that it's tricky to get into this gas station with a big truck and trailer, something I had discovered on the way to Denver. However, since I had figured out how to do it, I wasn't too stressed and took the same steps I had before.

I was a little too confident, I guess, and wasn't as cautious as I tend to be. I ended up taking the turn too narrowly and hit a light post!!! I broadsided it and the top fell off (think one of those 8' decorative light posts, not the really big ones). I cursed. Repeatedly. I pulled over and had no idea what to do. I checked the trailer and determined it was travel-worthy, so I drove the short way to the gas station and filled up. When I paid the clerk, I asked her for the phone number for the police. I explained what had happened and she told me I should just go without reporting it because most likely no one had seen it happen!! No way! I imagined doing what she suggested and then later paying the consequences. If nothing else, I'd feel guilty about it forever. She gave me the number and I called it when I got back to the truck. A policeman came, assessed the situation, ran my driver's license and registration, and checked my insurance. Finally, he told me that he wouldn't issue me a ticket since it would mean me having to return to Glenwood Springs to appear in court. He said that the city would bill our insurance company and told me it how much it could cost to replace the post if needed - it could be less if they only have to repair it.

As soon as they left (another cop had driven up for some reason), I got in my truck and had a good cry. This was my first ever accident and only the second time I've had to talk to a policeman due to driving. I just felt fortunate that it was such a minor accident and that the trailer was okay, the truck was okay, I was unharmed, and no one else was harmed. I called my boss and left him a message quickly explaining that I'd been in an accident but that everything was okay and I'd talk to him when I arrived home.

I've got to give my boss credit, he could have handled it differently. He could have grilled me about what I'd done wrong, made me pay for the light post, or even taken away my commission for the job. Instead, he made sure I was okay emotionally. He never made me feel guilty or bad about it, just offered me comfort and support. I did tell him what had happened and what I could have done differently, but he didn't rub it in, he actually said he could see why it had been so difficult to maneuver that turn. What a guy! He did interrogate me about Shawn, though, and teased me mercilessly when I admitted to letting him kiss me. Seriously, my boss cracks me up! Sometimes I feel like he's more like a brother; sometimes an annoying brother, but a brother just the same.

I'm so glad to be home. I'm so tired. It was a crazy trip, good and bad crazy, but I think I'm ready for some boring-ness for a little bit, at least for a day or two!

Monday, December 01, 2008

My New Arrival

Tomorrow, I'm expecting a new arrival - a new cell phone! This past weekend, while in Vernal, my cell phone died. I'm not sure why but it's practically irreversible - it could be "flashed" but I'd have to go to another city to do it and there's no guarantee that it would work and stay working. The actual phone is okay but the software disappeared somehow. It's gone. When I get my new phone, I won't be able to transfer the phone numbers to my new phone because there's absolutely nothing on my old phone. I was given the choice to pay $50 for a new phone just like my current phone to be sent to me, or I could pay a tad more for an early upgraded phone. Guess what I chose.

Say hello to my new phone, the BlackBerry Curve (mine is pink - I was lazy and didn't look for a picture of a pink one). As I got thinking about a new phone, I decided I want something that I could use as a planner, too. I needed something for appointments, documents, internet, and other stuff I use for work. So, it's a bit more than a regular phone and it has a required service package that is more than my normal phone charge, but I'm hoping that my boss will pay for the extra since I'm going to be using it for work (we've discussed it briefly a couple times). I also splurged a bit more and got a travel charger, protective case, and BlueTooth. I kept thinking about driving the truck and trailer and how much safer it would be if I could talk on my phone while keeping both hands on the wheels.

Yeah, I'll do anything to justify extra expenditures once I get on a roll! Heavens.

My biggest concern was not having a phone on my trip to Denver this week. I'll need it to keep in contact with the officer in charge so she and her staff know when to expect me so they can have a spot ready. I want it in case of emergencies. It'd be nice to have in case I'm having a hard time staying alert and choose to call someone to keep me awake (I'm experimenting with not munching while travelling). No problems, said the Verizon rep, it'll be delivered tomorrow. Tomorrow! Perfect. Then I'll have a little time to fiddle with it and figure it out (I'm not really tech-savvy).

It's been kind of weird not having a phone for three whole days. I have no idea what time it is 50% of the time. My mom had to walk over to my place yesterday to tell me something. My roommate Jeff texted me yesterday morning - never got it. I wanted to text my brother about Fantasy Football, couldn't. So annoying! It'll be nice to have a phone again. I guess I rely on it more than I thought.

That's annoying.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Long Winter's Nap - I Wish!

I should be in bed. I shouldn't be blogging and watching Food Network (Throwdown with Bobby Flay). I should be tucked into bed, starting to dream - not basking in the glow of my glorious Christmas tree. Really, sleeping right now would be a good thing, better than snacking on the ham in my fridge and my roommates homemade candy (with her permission, of course).

I don't want to go to bed. I want to stay up. I don't want this weekend to end. I don't want tomorrow to be here. I'm not ready to go to work. Tomorrow I have too many things to do - I need to get ready for my upcoming work trip to Denver. I've enjoyed today's laziness - seriously putting up and decorating my tree is one of the only productive things I did today - I want another such day.

There's another reason I'm not in bed right now. For the past few weeks, I've suffered from a mild case of insomnia. Either I go to bed and can't fall asleep for a wicked long time or I go to bed, easily fall asleep, then wake up numerous times throughout the night. Either way, I wake up totally unrested and needing more sleep.

Insomnia makes me dread going to bed. I stay up as long as I can, only going to bed when I feel like I can't keep my eyes open any more. I need to start up a night hobby. Hmmm. I think there's a puzzle in my spare room that needs to be put together.

I'm going to go check.

I hope you're getting a good night's rest - sleep a few winks for me!

I'll be putting together a puzzle.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cuz I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane

Not really.

I am leaving, just not on a jet plane. My car, actually.

Today, I'm headed to my grandma's house in Vernal for the holiday weekend. My mom is driving up with me and I'm sure we'll have a nice chat, I'll nap (she'll drive), and we'll listen to a book tape or 2. If I were going alone, I'd stop once on the way for dinner; however, my mom is going with me, we'll probably stop 10 times. If I remember, I'll let you know what the actual number is. My bet is 3.

I'm excited for Thanksgiving. It's been a long time since I've had Thanksgiving with extended family, so it'll be nice to see everyone and sample different dishes. Usually I celebrate the day with my mom, older brother and his family, and sometimes one or both of my younger brothers. We tend to have the same dishes every year because we all love them so much. So, it'll be interesting to try new things and different takes on classic dishes.

In the spirit of the holiday, here's a short list of some things for which I'm thankful:

1. My family. We're crazy and imperfect, but we love each other and enjoy hanging out with each other. My relationship with my dad is better than it has been since I was in high school. I have a new nephew - Robbie. My other 2 nephews and 1 niece still think I'm the best aunt. We're all healthy and pretty happy. Thank heavens.

2. My job. Things got kind of rough this year, but they've improved and now things are pretty much on-track again. My coworker and I are like sisters, I'm more patient with my boss, and I'm getting paid enough to be able to afford...

3. My home. I love it. I love it more and more each day. Not a day goes by that I don't love looking out my bedroom windows. I love the porch. I love my kitchen. I love my new couches. I love that all of it is mine. If I end up staying here the rest of my life, it'll be because I love my home so much.

4. Roommate(s). Liz and Jeff are pretty perfect as far as roommates go. Yes, they sometimes do things that irritate me (like not cleaning their bathroom so the tub and toilet get stained and I end up scrubbing them forever), but overall, I feel like I've lucked out. They are gone every weekend, so I get plenty of time to myself. I enjoy hanging out with them and it's good to be with people instead of becoming a hermit. And, for the most part, they respect my home and my stuff. I really appreciate that.

5. My friends. I never see them, but I know they're around and that they care for me as much as I care for them.

6. My health. Mental and physical. I recently was diagnosed as being in good mental health by a licensed professional. I wear it like a badge of honor because I know it's not self-evident to those around me. As I've prepared for my upcoming surgery, I also have been told how physically healthy I am - remarkably since I'm so overweight. I'm fortunate. I'm also really glad to be having this surgery to try to keep that good health going as long as possible.

7. Blogging. It's such a great release - to be able to jot down my current thoughts, feelings, and goings-on. I love how it helps me stay close to family and friends that I don't see often - a window into their lives. It's a creative outlet and helps me express myself in a different way.

Well, that's all I have time for, I must be heading - I still need to gas up before picking up Mom.

I hope you all have a safe, filling, happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Utah: 48, BYU: 24

















Congratulations Utes!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My First Award!

Booklogged has awarded me the Kreativ Blogger Award. It's my first blogging award and I'm speechless. (Yeah, right! When has that ever happened?) I'm honored that she thinks my blog is creative, even if she may be a little biased.

Booklogged lives in Utah where she is wife to Candleman, mother to 4 daughters, and grandma to two adorable kids. She's also aunt to some wonderful nieces and nephews! Booklogged reads more books in one month than most people read in their lifetime. She also makes and sells wonderful hats and scarves here. Take a look and if you're wondering what to get me for Christmas - I like the Marionberry scarf. :)

Now along with the award, there's a meme. I have to complete this and forward the award to others. Here goes:

7 things I've done before
1. Gone skinny dipping. Alone - does it still count?
2. Walked down a busy street with my skirt tucked into my unmentionables.
3. Kissed a man on New Year's Eve. Actually, he kissed me, but so what.
4. Graduated from college with a degree in Economics.
5. Got a tattoo.
6. Lived in a foreign country. Canada. Quebec and Ontario to be exact.
7. Gone on a blind date. Just one.

7 things I do now
1. Read
2. Watch ANTM - the finale is tonight!
3. Travel
4. Ride a stationary bike most mornings
5. Cook
6. Go to a movie approx. once a week
7. Blog

7 things I want to do
1. Visit France, Denmark, Spain (and more!)
2. Lose weight
3. Pay off all debt besides my house
4. Learn another foreign language - I haven't picked which
5. Get married
6. Perm my hair - not now, it's too short
7. Get post-graduate degrees in Economics

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex
1. Good kissing, hugging, cuddling
2. Laughs a lot and makes me laugh a lot
3. Strength - moral, physical, emotional
4. Intelligence
5. Curiosity
6. A good conversationalist
7. Eyes, hands, smile

7 Favorite Foods
1. Chocolate
2. Chocolate
3. Pasta Carbonara
4. Chicken - lots of preparations
5. Potstickers
6. Steak from Outback Steakhouse
7. Soup from The Garden House

7 things I Say Most Often:
1. Thank you for calling _________, this is Julie.
2. Push this button when you hear the beep.
3. I need to pay for diesel on pump ___.
4. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight...
5. Heavenly Father...
6. Please put the milk in a bag, I have to carry it up to the 3rd floor.
7. Thank you.

And now the seven people I would like to tag for this award and meme*:
1. Melissa because she has such creative backgrounds and makes such cute crafts.
2. Missy because she is such a great story teller.
3. Cardine because I think her themed Novembers are creative. It's bacon month over there!
4. Cassie because you've gotta see her cakes!
5. Cjane because she inspire me to be more creative.
6. Warnser because I love the Uncharacteristically Nice Word of the Day.
7. Tearese because her drawings and photographs are amazing.

*I really could have picked more, I know a lot of creative people, but I decided to keep with the 7 theme.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reading Railroad

I love reading. I love opening a book and escaping into a different world. I love the smell of books, especially old books. In Fahrenheit 451, one of my favorite books, the old English professor talks about that wonderful book smell, saying they smell like some exotic spice from the Orient. I agree!

Here are some books I've enjoyed recently:

1. The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne. Yes, the guy who wrote the Winnie the Pooh books. Did you know he wrote a mystery? Just one. According to the Introduction, he was quite a mystery fan, but he had some pretty strong feelings about what should and should not be included. So, he wrote one to meet those sentiments. It was so popular that his publishers begged for another one but he refused - there was nothing left to say. Then he created the Winnie the Pooh characters and became known as a children's writer. Anyway, it was a delightful book. Booklogged, I especially thought of you when I read this since I know you love Winnie the Pooh and a good mystery. It's witty and the characters are engaging. I'm sure I'll reread it many many times in my life.

2. Emily Post:Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners by Laura Claridge. I love biographies! History is chock full of interesting stories and this promises to be one of them. I haven't actually finished it, but what I've read so far has been fascinating. I had no idea that she had lived through such a scandal - one that ended her marriage. I hate putting this book down at night to go to bed!

3. Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. They are a fantasy series and I wouldn't recommend them to just anyone. Unlike David Eddings books, this series contains some pretty heavy material. There are 11 books, each over 700 pages, but that's not what I mean by heavy. The subject matter is sometimes dark and overwhelming. At some point in each book, I have to shut the book and breath. Then I have to talk myself into continuing to read because I've become too emotional and stressed out. The characters are amazingly drawn and the hero, Richard, is just about the best hero in any book I've ever read. He's flawed enough to be human but perfect enough to help me trust him when things are looking grim and hopeless. Really, one of my favorite series, just be forewarned that you may experience difficulties. My older brother couldn't finish the first book! I just finished the final book a couple days ago and feel like I really accomplished something. Most importantly, I like how it ended. Whew!

4. Murder in Three Acts by Agatha Christie. She is definitely the best-represented author on my bookshelves. One of my goals in life is to own all her novels and short story collections. This book contains Hercule Poirot who I adore, though not as much as Miss Marple. For Miss Marple's best work, I'd recommend The Thirteen Problems, a collection of short stories. I don't have a favorite Poirot story. My all-time favorite Christie novel, though, is And Then There Were None. It's creepy, but in a good way. Kind of. I have a recurring nightmare about this book, but I still love it. I couldn't guess who the murderer was! However, if you read this book and love it as much as I do, don't ever see the play. It was horrible. Sarah can attest to the horror I felt when we watched it a few years ago. *shudder*

5. An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde. Who knew that Oscar Wilde was such an interesting guy? Before I read this book, I looked him up on Wikipedia and discovered that he was quite the colorful, flamboyant guy! Anyway, I love this story. What witty dialogue and fascinating subplots! A quick, fun read.

6. Conagher by Louis L'Amour. I own four of his books, and have read a few others. I've enjoyed every single one. The four I own have been read countless times. This one is probably my favorite because of the title character. He's a real man. The kind of real man that I would like in my life - a hard worker, honest, stubborn, caring, strong, unafraid to get dirty if needed. Like all the books of his I own, this one has a hint of romance. I like it like that, just a hint. Don't want to muddy the story with too much. And, this is a pretty good story.

There have been others, but I think these are fairly representative of the books I like to read. Once I finish the Emily Post bio, I'm going to start another series of 11, though I imagine this series is going to be a lot easier to read - the first book is called The Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery. Someone mentioned on their blog that they read The Key Lime Pie Murder and I was intrigued - a combination of my two loves; food and books! So, I bought the first three in the series and if I like them, which I bet I do, I'll buy all the others. My original plan was to read them while recovering from my surgery, but is it a good idea to read mysteries with such yummy titles after weight loss surgery???

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Must Be Crazy...

...I've created a second blog.

For years I have thought all of you with multiple blogs were nut-o. Now I'm one of you!

It's nothing spectacular, just to warn you. In fact, it has the potential to bore the socks off of you.

Mostly, I'm writing it for me. It's going to be a journal of my life as I prepare for Lap Band surgery and what happens after it. Thrilling stuff, eh?

Anyhoo, if you're interested, feel free to visit here. I've also included the link on my sidebar link list under "Me".

Now, to give credit where credit is due: thanks, Missy. Not only did you inspire me when you created a blog about your weight loss journey, I also borrowed your witty title (not completely, just the idea). Thank you!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Halloween 2008

I definitely enjoy Halloween more as an adult than I did as a kid. Make no mistake, I loved having a lot of candy to eat at will, but I didn't always enjoy the process of getting it. Anyway, Halloween is slowly climbing the ranks of favorite holidays. This year was no exception - I had a really good time.

The holiday started a little early this year. The second weekend of the month, I invited my nephew and niece over to my house for carving pumpkins and a sleepover. This was the first time that they were able to actually carve the pumpkins themselves - I just drew on a design according to their directions. Well...I tried to give them what they wanted, but when my nephew asked me to draw Anakin Skywalker's spaceship, I had to admit to them that I'm not an artist and could only draw basic shapes on their pumpkins. I'm sure I saw a tiny spark of respect for me sputter and die in his eyes. I'm no longer super aunt. Sigh.

B and P carving their pumpkins.
Mine is the one with the cool handle on the far right.



Pumpkin guts. Mmmm. What a great smell!


Mmmm. More pumpkin guts!
P took this picture and was quite proud of it.



The kids after a night of fun with their favorite aunt.
Me, of course!

It was a fun night. We started it out with dinner at McDonald's, by their request. Afterward we picked out pumpkins at the store. When P chose a really large pumpkin I warned him that he'd have to carry it up to my 3rd floor condo. He chose it anyway and carried it up like a trooper. With our jack-o-lanterns created and lighting up my balcony (I forgot to get a picture of the finished products), the kids snuggled up in their sleeping bags for the movie. I gave them popcorn, candy corn, and hot chocolate to snack on during the show (Return of the Jedi). Both of them had barely touched their treats before they were out like a light (asleep). I turned off the movie and read for a few hours (while munching on popcorn and candy corn). It was a good night.

As for Halloween, I dressed up like a witch, very original, eh? What can I say, it's easy, I have all the essential parts for the costume I created, and I feel comfortable wearing it to the office. My hair always drives me crazy because it never looks the part. This year, I chopped it off and braided it the night before so it would be crimped. Add mousse and hairspray and it looked decent.

Yes, it's out of focus - I'm no pro!

After work, I headed to my mom's house and hung out with my family all evening. My sister-in-law and I took P and B around Mom's neighborhood to trick-or-treat. Since she and I were also dressed up, people gave us candy, too! We had nowhere else to put it, so I took off my hat and stored our candy in it. My favorite candy: KitKats. Mmmm.

P and B dressed up as Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka, respectively.


My sis-in-law, Audree, dressed as one of Dracula's
three brides (from Van Helsing).


My new nephew came to town with his mom and dad for the weekend. He was too small to go trick-or-treating, so his mom decided not to dress him up (I agree). However, he still dressed festively.

Little Robbie with Grandma.

I'm pretty good friends with Anakin Skywalker; I've been dating his friend and mentor, Obi-Wan off and on for several years. He couldn't come to the party (he was out fighting bad guys), so Anakin and I took a picture together for Obi-Wan to put in his ship.

Anakin and me


All the people who dressed up:
l to r: Rachel, her mom Rhonda, Audree,
P, me, and B.


Please know that I'm not smiling in this picture - I don't smile like that. It's too small to see that I've got my "witch face" going on.

Now, because I have it and because he's so dang cute - here's another picture of Robbie for you to enjoy. Doesn't he remind you of a little potato bug?

Robbie sleeping. Aaaahhhh.


And, now, the winner of this year's Scariest Mask Award:

My brother, Jason.

It's a good thing my brothers marry such good-looking women so their kids turn out so cute! :)

Monday, November 03, 2008

E-Day

I enjoy politics as much as the next person, but I'm relieved that tomorrow is Election Day and this whole thing will be over for awhile.

Today, I caught up on reading some back issues of Fortune Small Business (my boss likes me to read it because it gives me good ideas on how to improve our business) and was amazed by the number of references to the presidential election and the sense of urgency about the race that I found in the October 2007 issue! We've been talking about these people for over a year! Good grief.

I'm certain that part of my frustration with this year's presidential race stems from my indecision. Up until today, I had absolutely no clue as to which candidate I would choose. I finally made up my mind, but it's not wholeheartedly done. My vote hangs on the thread of just a couple key issues.

No, I'm not going to tell you for whom I'm going to vote. I cherish my right to anonymous voting.

It'll be interesting to see if "my" candidate actually wins. I've never voted for the winner of a presidential election, and I've voted in all of the past four races (since turning 18). I wonder what that says about me. And about the people for whom I cast a ballot.

I believe in voting. Even if my vote for president has meant little or nothing in the past few years (I'm in a staunch red state and I don't always vote accordingly), there are other races, local races, that are just as important and in which my vote has a better chance of making a difference.

Also, I feel voting gives me the right (if only granted by myself) to complain when I don't like what's going on. That's also one of the benefits of voting for the eventual loser - I can say I'm not responsible for what the guy in office is doing! :)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!


I hope you see lots of scary faces...

...and get loads of candy!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Truly...

The truly remarkable thing is how truly ridiculous I am. And pedantic.* Which is one of my favorite words.

The bit of minutiae that tied those segments together here is the phrase "the truly ____ part/thing is..." I used a different word to fill in the blank, to fit with the rest of the paragraph. I didn't start out to do it, it just happened. In fact, it happened naturally for the Irrational segment, and when I started to use it for Fantasy Football, I almost didn't because I'd already used it and sometimes it's quite horrible to repeat a word/phrase too much. Then I thought it'd be fun to have it in each paragraph to see if anyone would notice, so I added it to the previous segments and made sure it was in the last. You see, I'm weird that way. I've gone back and bolded the phrase just for kicks.

I'm such a nerd.

In semi-related news, my roommate's most wonderful fiance did a good deed last night. It was partly for selfish reasons that he did it, but I don't care. It just goes to prove that if you say something over and over again, you can influence others enough to do it for you. I've mentioned my cake craving numerous times over the past few days and Jeff caught the fever. Last night, he went to buy a chocolate cake because he too was mega-craving cake, and when the store didn't have one, he made one! Oh happy day! It wasn't as good as my mom's, but it sufficed. Mmmm. He served me a really large piece with a glass of milk and I thought I was in heaven. They ate big pieces, too, and then went out of town today, leaving me the rest of the cake! Good grief! Sigh. At least that craving can finally be put to bed.

*used here it means emphasizing minutiae, not dull or unimaginative, which is another of its meanings.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Big News

I recently made a scary decision. Some of you already know, but some of you don't.

I'm having Lap-Band surgery on December 23rd.

I've been thinking about it since March, when my dad and stepmother kindly offered to help me pay for it. At that time, I looked into it and totally freaked out. I was not ready! Since then, I've researched it more, contemplated it off and on, talked to people who have had Lap-Band or gastric bypass surgery (or who have family that had either), thought about how my life would change, decided against it, gained lots of weight, reconsidered my decision, and researched it some more. I attended a seminar a couple weeks ago and afterward spoke to Paula about it. She said their offer was still good, so I thought some more and prayed a lot. I pretty much decided to go ahead but wanted to wait 'til I had talked to my doctor. I saw him today and he gave me a big thumbs up.

For those of you who don't know much about Lap-Band, here's a quick run-down. They put a band around the top part of my stomach, laparoscopically, creating a small pouch that doesn't hold very much food. When it's full, it creates a sense of fullness that triggers the brain to tell the body that it isn't hungry any more. The band also controls how quickly the food goes down to the stomach. The inner part of the band has a bunch of small sacks that the doctor can fill with saline to make the band tighter or that can be depleted to make the band looser.

Here are the things I like about Lap-Band (LB from here on out because I'm lazy):

1) As opposed to gastric bypass (GB), it's reversible. (Not that I hope to ever reverse it, because then the weight loss would probably reverse.) There's no cutting or rearranging my insides.

2) It's less invasive than GB. Even with the new laparoscopic GB, LB is much easier to recover from. Probably because nothing is getting cut and rearranged. (Laparoscopic means that there will only be 6 tiny incisions through which the doctors will do everything instead of a big incision that opens up the chest.)

3) It's adjustable. If I'm not losing weight "fast enough", the doctor tightens the band. If I'm losing weight too fast, he loosens it. I like that these adjustments mean I have to meet with my doctor regularly. It feels more hands-on and personal. He'll get to know me and can monitor my progress. Otherwise, I'm sure I'd never go see him because that's how I am.

4) LB is slower than GB. From what I hear, the weight just falls off GB patients. Not so with LB patients. I guess I like this because I feel like it's healthier (mentally, emotionally, and physically) for me. I want my body, brain, emotions to gradually adjust to the weight loss. I want the weight loss to be permanent and I think slower is better - for me, at least. The surgeon says that an average of 2 lbs a week is normal. That seems reasonable.

5) LB is out-patient surgery. I'll go in on the 23rd and come out the 23rd. Because of this, it's also less expensive than GB. I'll only need a week off of work and the surgeon's staff told me I should be feeling okay for Christmas Day - some discomfort but able to move around and participate in the festivities. Oh good. :)

I'm not really scared of the surgery. I'll be asleep, so if I die, I'll just wake up dead. Not a bad way to go, I figure. Plus, if I don't lose weight, I'll probably die sooner than later anyway. I'm a little nervous about the pain, but mostly because I'm not big on pain pills. Nothing personal against them, I'm just not good about remembering to take them (there is one exception). I guess, if the pain's bad enough, I'll remember to take the pill. That simple.

Here's why this is a scary decision:

1) Pre- and post-surgery liquid diet. I have to be on a slim fast diet for 10 days before the surgery and a clear liquid diet for a week after. The second week after the surgery I can start consuming non-clear liquids, but nothing solid 'til the third week. Not really looking forward to almost a month of liquid. No wonder people lose weight!

2) Once I resume eating solids again, my meals will consist of 4 oz. of food. That's it. Do you know how little 4 oz is? It's about 1/4 cup. The next time you eat, try to imagine fitting what you're eating into 1/4 cup. It's not a lot! I'm sure that physically, 4 oz won't be too hard to manage once I get used to portioning out my food. I worry about emotional eating. Eating even though I'm not hungry. I'll totally need to change how I look at food and eating. And, I'll need to come up with alternatives to eating when I'm bored, sad, stressed, etc.

3) I worry about doing something this drastic to lose weight then failing. It happens. I don't want it to happen to me. I want to be fully committed to doing what I have to in order to make this work. I worry that I'll give up, that I'll get tired of trying, that I'll do stupid things, that I'll...fail.

That last one made me want to keep this surgery a secret. If only a few people knew about it, then only a few people would be disappointed in me if I fail. As I thought about it, though, I realized that I'll need as much support and encouragement as I can get. I have no illusions of this being easy. I'll need help. Besides, after the surgery, if you ever eat with me, I'm sure I'll have to explain why I'm eating so little. Did I mention that 1/4 cup is all I'll be able to manage? Yeah. Wow.

Sigh. That's only 1 piece of sushi. Maybe 2.

This is going to be interesting. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Study in Randomness

Craving
I want chocolate cake. I've wanted to eat a piece of chocolate cake ever since my mom offered me a piece a couple weeks ago. I said no because I wasn't craving chocolate cake at that moment and because I was in a hurry to be on my way up north for my last job. The chocolate gods must be punishing me for turning down a piece of my mom's absolutely divinely moist and delicious chocolate cake. Curses! The truly sad part of this tale is the feeble attempt I made last night to satisfy this craving. I made blueberry muffins. Yes, blueberry muffins. My roommate laughed. Blueberry muffins are nothing like chocolate cake! she giggled. She's right, they aren't. They did nothing to satisfy my craving for chocolate cake. Big surprise.

Dreaming
Sometimes, I have weird dreams. Okay, most of the time I have weird dreams. However, since dating Anthony, the weirdness of my dreams has gone to a new level. Sometimes, I speak French while signing (in ASL, of course, since I don't know French sign language, silly!). Even in my dreams I realize this is a weird occurrence. It has even progressed into my daydreams! Just today, while creating our company's new drug & alcohol testing policy, I leaned back against my chair for just a moment to indulge in my latest daydream - running into a guy from my mission who had a massive crush on me and who struggled to understand why I couldn't dance with him at the ward party. Sigh, he was really attractive! Anyway, as I was daydreaming, I realized that I was speaking French with him and signing at the same time! To be fair, Anthony had just left the office a few minutes before, so I'd been signing for about an hour. The truly funny thing is that I'm not hugely proficient in either language!

Irrational...Or Am I???
One of my biggest and most scariest fears involves me flying over the ocean (probably on my way to France or some equally cool destination) and the airplane has mega problems and I end up on an island in the middle of nowhere (a la Castaway). Yes, this is a not good situation; however, the truly frightening part is what am I going to do when my disposable contacts just have to be disposed of (they should only last a month)? What are the chances that my glasses case is going to get washed ashore along with me??? Slim to none, my friends, slim to none. Now, tell me that this isn't the stuff to keep you up at night. It sure does me! Someday, I'm going to get Lasik eye surgery, then I'll be okay if ever stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere. Well... at least I'll be able to see.

Fantasy Football
This year bites! I finally have the quarterback I always wanted (guess who!), but he's not playing well this year (except for the one week I finally decided to put him on the bench and play someone else, then he scored 25 points!). Plus, I have the worst running backs (RBs) in the league! Everyone else has RBs who are ranked 20 or higher, though usually in the single digits. Mine are ranked 43 and 46! Stupid automatic draft. The truly cruel thing, though, is my best RB (ranked 43, remember) is hurt and probably won't be able to play the rest of the season. So, I go to the Free Agents and there are no RBs who are projected to score a single point this week! Not a single point! Good grief. Any surprise that I'm in last place for our league?...?...?

Roommates
I'm finally warming up to Liz and Jeff. I still love more than anything when I have the place to myself, but I'm starting to really enjoy when we hang out together. Liz and I finally had a really nice, long chat one night after Jeff had gone home. I swear that I don't bond with someone until I've stayed up too late talking to them! We don't have a whole lot in common but enough to get along. No BFF, but she's proving to be a pretty darn good roommate. Very respectful of my home and my stuff. And Jeff, he's not too terribly bad. In fact, he's a pretty nice guy - a little irritating, but nice. He probably empties the dishwasher and takes out the trash more than Liz and I combined! He is very helpful and considerate and generous. He's constantly offering to fill up my water glass, get me a popsicle, share their dinner with me, etc. And, the truly wonderful thing about them is that they go out of town practically every weekend! Hooray! Last night, as we sat around watching tv and chatting, I thought that it's probably a really good thing for me to have people that are in my house regularly. I'm becoming too anti-social, too much of a hermit. It's kind of nice to have someone there at night to laugh with and yell at the tv with (we can't believe Marjorie didn't get sent home on ANTM last night!).

Okay, so it wasn't totally random...each section has one thing in particular in common. Can you see it?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Picture Post

I finally downloaded the pictures off my camera! So, here are a few pictures from my New England/Canada cruise as well as some random pictures that I found on my camera and didn't know what to do with. Enjoy!

This is a market in St. John, New Brunswick. The ceiling is a ship's hull! I thought it was cool. Inside the market, I found all sorts of delicious treats that I remembered from when I lived in Montreal and haven't eaten since. Mmmmmm. It was heavenly.

This is supposedly the only place where you can take a picture of two bridges (the other one is in the distance on the right) in one shot. They are in St. Martins, NB, a small fishing village an hour or so away from St. Johns.

Yikes! How did this get in there? Some random girl that we saw on the double-decker bus tour we took in Halifax, Nova Scotia. What lovely, straight teeth she has! I bet she'd ask you to ignore the rain-soaked bangs, though. Poor gal. Did you know she was sick that day?

It was in front of this cemetary that I was hit on by the eager-for-a-green-card St. Lucian, Wilfred. I found a lot of really old tombstone inside - the oldest being from 1708, if I remember correctly (which is why I should write this stuff down sooner!!!).

Shaneen, Cassie, and I met these two terriers while they were out walking their owner in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Their owner was very friendly and the dogs were quite well-behaved. I'm considering getting one someday. I wonder how my red couches will look with white hair all over them? Hmmm.


When we arrived in Bar Harbor, Maine, it was quite foggy and rainy. Very beautiful! I like this picture for two reasons, 1) it kind of looks like the cruise ship is chasing the smaller ship and 2) the trail of mist you can see behind the smaller ship. It was really neat to stand on shore and watch as the mist rolled off the water.

At the top of Cadillac Mountain, where this picture was taken, one is supposed to have quite the view of the harbor, the island, and the ocean. As you can see, we didn't get that view; however, I completely enjoyed the view we got. I love mist. It's so romantic. And serene. Romantically serene.

After a very misty morning, the afternoon in Bar Harbor turned quite sunny - I even got sunburned! This picture was taken in between the mist and the sun. I like how verdant the grass and leaves are. I like the word verdant, too.

I awoke one Saturday in September and this is what I saw out my bedroom window. Actually, my camera makes everything look far away and small, so actually the balloons looked a lot bigger and closer. Kind of like this balloon...

...which decided to land in my parking lot later on that day. It was really fun to see the balloons without having to go anywhere except my front porch.

This is the kitchen table I want. It's kind of pricey, though, so it's gonna be awhile before I get it. Dang it.

I took these pictures last April at the Denver Botanical Gardens when I was there for the Audiology convention. Not a lot of flowers were blooming, but the trees were amazing! There was one pathway that was lined with blossoming trees. I wanted to take up permanent residence. It was kind of romantic. And serene. You know.

This is my Christmas tree. It's the first Chrismas tree I've ever owned, though I've been buying ornaments for it for several years. It's hard to see, but my ornaments are red, white, and clear, with some silver for sparkle. My favorites are the tiny red and white bells (you can't see them in the picture - they are too small). Stop by this Christmas so you can see it in person!

On December 27, 2006, it snowed just a little. We accumulated about 14" in one evening. This shot was taken from my mom's porch. I like the light from the street lamp. Snow is also romantically serene.

I need a boyfriend.

Well, that's all folks. Hope you enjoyed the show!

Monday, October 13, 2008

How to Change a Tire

Sigh. I'm on my last job for the year. I worked in Layton today and will be in Draper tomorrow, then I'm done for the rest of the year. It's probably a good thing...a very good thing. Everything is falling apart.

Yesterday, I had a bit of an incident. I'm sad to say that I didn't react as calmly and rationally as I would have liked. Let me embellish (one of my favorite hobbies).

As is my custom before driving Bertha and the Beast, I performed the pretrip inspection, checking all sorts of fun stuff to make sure everything was ready for the trip. However, I failed to check one important thing because my boss's son had misplaced a vital tool that I needed (he likes to use it as a sword!). I didn't check the pressure of the tires as I normally would have due to this tool's absence, but I did look at them, and they all looked ok (to my highly-trained eye).

I drove along, thinking what a fine day it was for a drive - I missed most of the snow, I guess, because I ran into nary a snowstorm, just a tiny flurry around Beaver. I stopped at my usual truck stop ("gas station" is so passenger vehicle!), and my diesel(not gas)-pumping neighbor informed me that one of my tires was low. My heart sank when I realized it was on the trailer, but then it lifted again because I was at the perfect spot to fill it with air. And I did so while my truck guzzled fuel. However, I soon realized that air was leaving the tire almost as quickly as I pumped it in. Upon further investigation, I discovered metal sticking out of the tire (some of you know what this means) and found what looked like a puncture in the inner part of the tire. I guessed that I had inadvertently (because why would I do it on purpose) run over some thin piece of metal which had killed my tire. My heart sank again, this time really, really low. I didn't know how to change a tire.

I entered the truck stop and asked about a tire repair kit, somewhat like a bicycle tire repair kit. The lady held back her giggle when I asked if I could just put duct tape over the tire's puncture when she told me she didn't have a tire repair kit. (Just because I have a CDL doesn't mean I'm a tire expert, people!) Instead, she sold me some foamy stuff that was supposed to temporarily repair and inflate the tire long enough to get it somewhere to be fixed. Yeah, it didn't work. I think it actually made the tire mad, because it started spewing foam out of the puncture hole like a rabid dog. I returned to the counter and asked where I could possibly find a place on a Sunday so that someone could put on the spare tire I fortunately had in the back of the trailer. Wal-mart was the only spot, so I slowly dragged myself and the vehicles through the streets of Payson, praying the tire would make it. It did. Barely.

This next part is when I broke down. I got to Wal-mart, waited awhile before someone came to help me, explained my situation, showed Dan (Wal-mart employee) the tire, and was told that they can't take tires off of trailers. I stared at him, then asked, If I manage to get it off - with you telling me how - can you put the spare on for me? Nope, but he could tell me how to put it on. He asked me if I had certain tools - a jack, a star bar, and something else that I can't remember. I found the jack - yeah! - but couldn't find the star bar to save my life. I later discovered that my boss's son likes to play with that, too. Sigh. When I couldn't find anything to remove the lug nuts, I looked at Dan and asked what I should do. He looked at me painfully, shook his head, and said he didn't know, repeating that he could get fired for taking a tire off a trailer. I started to cry (yes - I'm not proud, but I couldn't help it!). I called my boss - theoretically so he could tell me where the star bar was, but mostly because I didn't know what else to do. I started to cry during the message, so I kept it short, Hi, it's Julie. Call me as soon as possible. The shortness of the message and my teary voice caused him quite a bit of concern - he thought I was dead or dying or dreadfully maimed.

This phone call and my subsequent emotional break-down occured on the other side of the trailer, because I didn't want Dan to see me cry again. I composed myself the best I could, then walked around the other side to face him. To my surprise, he had grabbed some tools and had started to jack up the trailer. He changed the tire for me! For that, I will be eternally grateful to him. And, as the saying goes, "Change a girl's tire for her, and she drives 'til it flattens again. Teach her how to change it herself, and she drives 'til she's too old to climb into the truck." Or something like that. Anyhoo, he gave me step-by-step instructions for changing the tires for the trailer (which are the hardest to change), which I wrote down in my handy-dandy planner. When the task was finished, he shook my hand, said "nice to meet you, drive safe, etc." and wouldn't let me pay, saying it was his good deed for the day. I objected strongly but to no avail. So I thanked him with all my heart, wished many blessing upon him (nonverbally, I had already made a fool of myself), and left.

Dan told me I hadn't run over a thin piece of metal, the metal was from the inside of my tire (who knew???)! The tire had become so worn that the metal was sticking out around the entire circumference of the tire! He said it was a miracle that the tire hadn't exploded and shed (like a semi's does) enroute. According to him, that could have been disasterous because the length and weight of the trailer could have caused me to lose control of the vehicles, possibly leading to a bad accident. He'd never seen a tire as bad as mine that hadn't come apart.

Makes me glad that I said my customary pre-trip prayer, asking Heavenly Father to bless the truck and trailer to work well.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Robert

So, there's a new man in my life.

I use the term "man" loosely. I should say there's a new male in my life, since it'll be several years before he's actually a man.

I'm an aunt again!!!

Last night, my sister-in-law gave birth to an 8-lb, 20-inch little boy they named Robert Brent. Robert after her dad and Brent after mine. Also, Jason told me last weekend that Mom and Dad had considered naming him Robert, but he didn't look like a Robert when he was born. So, Robert is kind of named after Jason, too. In a way. If you look at it in a certain angle.

Both mom and baby are doing okay. During the delivery, the doctors discovered that little Robert's heart beat wasn't what it should be and ended up taking him out through a C-section. He had some scary moments, but Jason says that he's doing fine and should be perfectly healthy. Rachel is tired but good. They are expecting to be released from the hospital this weekend, which is nice because I'm going to be in their neck-of-the-woods Monday afternoon and have been given permission to stop by and meet my new nephew. I'm so excited!

Jason says Robert is a cute baby, but he's biased. I'm biased too, so I bet he's adorable!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tempted No More

A few years ago, someone accused me of being too picky when it comes to guys. It miffed me, to be perfectly honest. Actually, I think they were saying that at my age I shouldn't be picky, I should be happy to get what I could. I could write a whole post about how wrong that sentiment is, but that's not my chosen topic today. Instead, let's discuss one of those things that might actually qualify me as being picky.

I don't want to date a man who is obsessed with something. Anything. Passionate, yes. Obsessed, heck no. And yet, I date guys who have obsessions. In fact, all the guys I've dated have been obsessed with something - to varying degrees, it's true, but still obsessed. Are there guys out there who enjoy a lot of things, are passionate about a few, but obsessed with none??? I'm beginning to have my doubts.

Today, I discovered that Anthony certainly isn't one of those hard-to-find guys. He is obsessed with a video game in which he's a warlock and goes around on quests and winning money to increase his power (or something to that effect, after awhile, my eyes glazed over and I drifted to an alternate reality). I asked how often he plays it. Every day. How long every day? When I get off of work (3:30) til I go to bed (10ish). On weekends I play it all day.

And, in that moment I lost my attraction for him.

And it's not just because I have absolutely no interest in video games. True, it's harder to tolerate an obsession that doesn't really interest me, but I'd still be bugged if the obsession was something I like. I mean, I love to watch football as much as the next person, but if I dated a guy who had to watch every game, who only talked about football, and had football memorabilia all over his room/house, I'd dislike it as much as if the obsession was with a video games.

Well...almost as much.

Because, if there really aren't guys out there who are obsession-less, I'm willing to make a deal. I'll do my best to support the obsession as long it a) involves a lot of time in nature (hiking, camping, skiing, etc.), b) allows for true human interactions (as opposed to the faux interactions that online video games boast - and, attending video game conventions doesn't count -not in my book), or c) is productive - like cooking.

See, I'm not that picky.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Giving Up

I'm sorry, I really am.

I've decided not to write a major post about my cruise. Not that it wasn't a worthy vacation, I'm just lazy and busy (if it's possible to be both at the same time). The few times I've had the time to download photos off my camera, I've not wanted to. Instead, I want to watch football or read (currently ingesting the Fablehaven series like there's no tomorrow) or sleep or something.

It hasn't helped that my fellow cruisers have already written about it, so I can be really lazy and send you here and here if you want details about our trip. Just remember when you look at the pictures - I was sick! No, that doesn't explain everything, but it makes me feel a little better.

Side note: Recently, a friend posted about girls saying they look ugly when they're getting their pictures taken. Warnser, just so you know, I didn't say anything when the pictures were being taken; however, I had a lot to say when I saw them on those blogs! :)

Anyhoo, Cassie and Framed covered most of the details. They missed one story but that's because it happened to me, not them. Even though I've shared it with many of you, I'll tell it quickly here, for those of you who haven't heard it.

For our second port, Halifax, Nova Scotia, we signed up for a shore excursion that allowed us to "hop on and hop off" of a double-decker bus. There were various stops and we could spend as much or as little time as we wanted at each stop. We first rode the bus around the entire circuit - to see what our options were and because it was raining. On the second go, we stopped at a pretty park/garden. We walked around taking pictures of the flowers, plants, statues, swans, etc. then bought ice cream (even though it was rainy) at a shop in the park. As we consumed our treats, we realized we were hungry and that there were nearby restaurants, so we walked to a lovely Italian place that served yummy food. We discussed the other places we'd like to "hop off" and I slowly realized that I wasn't well enough to go on (I had caught a cold the morning before - Tuesday - and felt pretty crummy the rest of the trip). I said goodbye to Cassie and Framed and walked to the ship since it wasn't very far away - just a few blocks or so.

I like walking in new places - it's easier to get a good look at where you are. Also, you get to observe the people around you. It was very interesting, and since it was a cool day and the way was mostly downhill, I found it to be a very pleasant walk. Eventually, I stumbled (not literally) upon a cemetary with very old-looking gravestones. I stopped to look through the wrought-iron fence to see if I could see dates on the nearest stones. At this point, two good-looking black men approached me. One kept walking past me, but the other stopped on my left side and told me his friend thought I was beautiful. I looked at him like, Is he crazy? (because I was sick and a little rain-drenched and didn't feel pretty at all). He then told me he too thought I was beautiful. I smiled weakly at him and muttered a soft thank you. I turned to walk toward the cemetary entrance - about half a block away. He walked beside me asking if I have a boyfriend who I'm going to marry, where I'm from, why I was in Halifax, etc. When I told him I'm not getting married to anyone, he said I should get married because I'm so beautiful and that he'd marry me. Green card! flashed through my head instantly. I asked him where he was from and he said the Caribbean and asked me to guess where in the Caribbean. I guessed St. Lucia and he looked shocked and said I was right. St. Lucians love me. Anyway, he chatted a bit more 'til we reached the entrance. He asked me to keep walking with him, but I told him I was meeting friends inside the cemetary. He told me that if I changed my mind about marrying him, to let him know, his name was Wilfred. I thanked him and turned away, entering the cemetary.

It just goes to show that you can get proposed to just about any where and any time, even while on a cruise where the average age of cruisers is 65.

Despite being on my deathbed, I enjoyed the trip. Some of the highlights:

1. The million cups of hot chocolate to soothe my sore throat AND to make up for the lack of 24-hour ice cream cones.

2. Fountains. A funny routine put on by the cruise director and a few of the crew for the crew talent show.

3. Laughing with Cassie and Framed uncontrollably 'til our sides hurt. I love it when this happens.

4. The bread. I don't know what it is about cruises, but they always have yummy bread! Mmmm mmmm mmmm.

5. Drugged. Frankly, I'm surprised I remember anything about this cruise - I was taking dramamine and cold medicine and there wasn't a single second of a single day after Tuesday that I didn't have both in my system.

6. Ginger ale flavored cough drops. Why don't we have those in the States???

7. Seeing French on all the signs in New Brunswick. I miss that. It almost felt like I was in Montreal again.

8. Hanging out with Cassie and Framed. They were so patient and understanding. Plus, we had fun together!

9. The security guard in Boston threatening to call for more security when I admitted to not liking the Patriots (which I only did after I took back my boarding pass and passport).

10. Cold weather. It was hard to believe that it wasn't November - it was cold! However, we did get some sun Saturday afternoon. Just enough that I was able to get a sunburn. Of course.

11. Rest and relaxation. Being sick really helped with this. I slept a lot! I went to bed earlier than I ever did on past cruises and slept later than I ever did on past cruises.

Wow. For giving up on doing a post about my cruise, this turned into a pretty long post about my cruise! Huh. Guess that just proves yet again that I talk too much.