Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Here’s a picture of my day: (the “thousand words” version)
I had piano today, and somehow ended up running late. Normally I bring my teacher coffee (ESPECIALLY if I am running late-- it’s not a bribe, it’s a patience prize), but I forgot to, and ended up with just a drink for me. But I forgot food, so by the time I’d consumed that lovely triple shot americano, I was shaky because of the caffeine... try playing the piano when your fingers are shaky. But I had to have the caffeine, because I was up til late last night, doing constructive things like... going to the store to get peanut butter M+M’s, because I’ve been craving them for a week. Nevermind that I had some two days ago-- that just fed the craving.
Anyway, by the time I made it to work, I at least had food. Course, it didn’t help much and I ended up knocking over an almost-entirely-finished mocha. It went EVERYWHERE. Let’s just say it’s a good thing today was slow, because I spent a large portion of my day cleaning up after gigantic messes I managed to create. After the mocha, it was the prepaid cards... after that it had to do with the blender... You get the picture. In other news, it being slow also meant I got to listen to things on my phone!! And thank you to whoever brought in the auxiliary jack to plug things into the bigger speakers... Talk about feeling like someone is IN THE ROOM podcasting!
At last I am home, happy, (although I was pretty much happy all day, even up to my elbows in clorox rags cleaning stuff) and sitting with well, peanut butter M+M’s, and soon a drink of some sort. Cocoa or tea, oh boy.
-----> Pause for important distinction <------ br="">You notice I say “Peanut Butter M+M’s”. (I may be mis-capitalizing there, sorry.) K, I will admit I have to be in the right mood for certain kinds of chocolate. I’m obsessed with chocolate-- but that means I like very specific brands. Lindt, for example... also that organic stuff “Green and Black” when I’m on a “no white refined sugar” kick. (Those come around pretty regularly. If nothing else, it’s a grand excuse to buy the good expensive chocolate!) I tend to not be as into hershey’s and whatnot. Candy sorts of chocolate are sometimes too sickly sweet. However, I have lately had a major weakness for Peanut Butter M+M’s. Here is the distinction-- they are NOT peanut mms. Let me tell you about peanut M+M’s. They come in a yellow bag. They are chocolate around peanuts. Which is not very good. Because they have peanuts in them. And that is a pollution to perfectly good chocolate. They break up all funny when you eat them.
Peanut Butter M+M’s come in a red bag. You can’t miss it. It says “M+M’s” and “PEANUT BUTTER” on it. They are magical happy chocolate around smooth creamy peanut butter flavored stuff that I assume is actually peanut butter and try to ignore that it’s probably just flavored crisco or something. (K, actually, I just stopped to read the ingredients-- it actually DOES have peanut butter listed!!! YES! this just became a health food in some way. I’ll try to prove that at a later date.)
Anyway! You need to try them. Seriously. Stop reading and go to whatever store it is you have around where you are. QFC, Nob Hill, Hagens, Frys, whatever! Just go buy some. If you hate them, I’m sorry. I am perfectly willing to take them off your hands.
Alright, I know by now you are thinking that I am a little bit ridiculous, and possibly quite demented. These are possibilities I am willing to admit are slightly feasible. But if you had had peanut butter mms, you would understand entirely. But you have now, right? Cause you stopped reading a few minutes ago and went to buy some. By now you are eating peanut butter mms and I am looking more sane by the second.
Now that we’ve established the VITAL differences between these two candy things, I can return to whatever it was I was rambling about a second ago.
---->Important distinction ended<---- br="">
This is the part where I beg for mechanical advice. I would love to buy a Jeep Wrangler. (The cute little two door ones. TJ or YJ or something.) One with a hard top so I don’t have to deal with a bunch of water coming in. A guy who came through the stand says that “Yeah, it leaks, but I just take the doors off and flip ‘em upside down now and again  to get the water out and it works just great!”
Um, no thank you. I will avoid that problem please.
However, I thought it might be more economical to go with a fun happy jeep cherokee classic sport. Or an old cool range rover land rover that looks like it belongs on an african safari. Clearly I have a thing for the boxy squared off look. Then today, a tow truck driver at the stand said that he has dealt with a ton of mechanical problems with the kind I was planning on buying, and to go with the one I originally wanted. (The more expensive one, of course-- but they do typically have a great resale value.) I thought I had done such a good research job... I even learned words like “inline 6 engine.” *sigh*. So now I am back to the drawing board, and thinking it might be best to save a teensy bit longer and get the one that I LOVE. Research here I come. Cause I just love trolling automobile advice sites. If you’ve heard anything good or bad about either of those vehicles, I would love to hear it as well...
So that was my day.
Oh, the original reason I went to post--- I am trying hard to be more consistent memorizing scripture. One of the things that is helping me with this is, you guessed it, THE IPHONE! I love my iphone. I will admit it went through a little bit of a crisis after my trip and had trouble getting back into good consistent data reception stuff. (I was almost always getting an edge network, no 3G or LTE at all... weird.) However, it is over it’s midlife crisis. When I was trying to run more, it was majorly useful because of apps like Map My Run. (Not that I don’t still want to run.. I am just taking a break because, well, I am not a fan of being in pain ALL the time. And I meant that in the most literal sense. My knee hurts all the time if I run more than twice a week. Good thing I don’t do that terribly consistently... ;-) ) Other useful apps include Ticket To Ride. Alright, that’s not useful at all. It’s just fun to play.
Legitimately, there is a website called Scripture Typer, and they have an app. You can get an account for free online, but the app does cost a small amount of money. So far it is absolutely worth it! I love it and have found it to be majorly useful. You type out the verse multiple times, then do it with half the words missing. (Like what they would do on the blackboard in sunday school when you were little...) It does’t let you go on until your speed typing the “half the words” version matches the whole version with 80% accuracy.  After you “master” it, you type the whole thing. Eventually it will remind you to review. If you don’t like typing, you can record it and you have to match the recording. I haven’t tried that yet because I can’t stand the sound of my voice in recordings. Perfectly happy with typing, thank you very much. Anyway, I like it so far, and you should really try it. If you are as bad at memorizing as me, that is.
Okay. My very bad blog post is at an end. Next time I’ll steal from a puritan and post something edifying. Thanks for making it this far.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

But by the way, I am still on vacation.

We got home from vacation... I have literally thousands of pictures to go through, lots to fool around with. It may be a bit before I get them up. Hopefully soon!
Originally we were going to wander over to montana, and go down through wyoming (Yellowstone), then hit Utah. We changed plans, and while I was disappointed, it really worked out for the best. Idaho, to Utah, to Arizona where we stayed for seven nights. There and back again.
Boise was pretty, Green River, Utah, was not as much. I am not a big fan of the majority of Utah. An incredibly large portion of it is dry and barren, in my limited experience. Let’s just say we went two days of driving without hitting much in the way of civilization. “What? Check your iphone again. There has to be a costco somewhere around here! What do you mean no starbucks?” "Hey Meme, can your little gizmo find an In-N-Out around here for us?" I feel like if I the car broke down anywhere in between Salt Lake City and the border, we’d be pretty much end up dead in a ditch before sundown. “If the buzzards don’t getcha, the lack of water will!” ;-) Anyway. Where there are moderately populated towns in Utah, they are so strewn with mormon churches... or temples... or stakes... whatever they call them, that you can practically feel the spiritual oppression. Did I say practically? Strike that. You can definitely feel it.
That being said-- The national parks in Utah are absolutely stunning. We started with Arches. The landscape sneaks up on you, and all of a sudden I looked up from my Instagram to discover incredible sandstone formations. So, I took pictures. Then some more. Then drank a capri sun and ate some beef jerky. Then took more pictures. That’s pretty much what a great roadtrip consists of...
After stopping multiple scenic viewpoints, we came to what I was looking forward to most-- the part where we start the hike to the Delicate Arch.
Here’s the thing. You know I am not going to be a fan of hiking in hot weather. And you can just imagine how into that my parents are... But we did it anyway, because it was the best option to have a good view. Also, getting up close to it was one of my bucket list of “photos to take before I die.” (Nope, didn’t have that list til three seconds ago... but it was on my “really really want to shoot!” list for sure!)
The hike was murder. But weirdly enough, I loved it. Even though I was carrying my camera backpack. And the tripod. It ended up being unbelievably heavy. I’m out of shape for hiking anyway, but to do it in hot weather with a backpack... part of it climbing up over sheer sandstone... let’s just say I’m QUITE proud of the folks and myself. Coming around the corner to see it was worth every bit. Absolutely amazing-- and fun to take pictures of. My parents feel that I was reckless and risking my life to get pictures from where I did, but I’m certain that’s a very slight overreaction.. ;-) Quote of that day-- “I just don’t like places where if you slip, you’re dead.” Okay, I get that.
We did cruise through Canyonlands that same day- clearly we are not the sort who spend days and weeks in each park, hiking and camping and discovering every cave. Canyonlands was beautiful as well, and a lovely precursor to the Grand Canyon. Fun to get some nice sunset shots there. Red, pink, and purple highlights paint the canyons, and cause them to glow. Very little or no post processing will be needed for those shots!
Highlight of Saturday-- Picking up Clark from the airport. We got caught in traffic going through Sedona (Also beautiful scenery-- it was like arches national park met the trees and landscape of the northwest.), so he had to hang out for a while...
From there to the house in Tucson. Amazing place! There was a pool.... and it was situated in a neighborhood, but sort of at the top of the hill, so we didn’t have to worry about neighbors at all. Wonderful. I brought a stack of books to read, as well as my kindle, but only made it entirely through two books- One of the Sackett books by Louis L’Amour, and, more importantly, Selina, Countess of Huntingdon.
---->>> Pause for book recommendation <<<---- br="">If you haven’t read it, do go buy a copy. Published by Banner Of Truth, and written by the excellent biographer Faith Cook, it is a beautiful way to become acquainted with the extraordinary woman who was a driving force behind the spiritual revival in England in the 1700’s. She touched thousands of lives with the gospel. She was hugely instrumental financially, in building chapels and churches throughout England, as well as great spiritual support and encouragement for the Wesley brothers and George Whitefield, not to mention Doddridge, Venn, Grimshaw, and countless others.  Obviously there were conflicts involved with the Wesley-Whitefield thing, on a couple occasions, and it is a good sketch of those events (1770 Minutes Controversy, to name one) as well. I need to read more books now, to learn more in detail about all the people mentioned on the fringes. She is an aid to conviction to serve Christ in all things, to bear all things, and to never cease in the work of the Lord.
Alright, done gushing about Selina now. Go buy the book.
---->>>Back to the trip<<<---- br="">Sunday was great. We went to Phoenix Reformed Baptist, heard of it because of James White. I never like missing our church, but this was an excellent church. Reformed baptist churches are pretty much the same the world over-- an encouraging fact! If you don’t know who James White is, this is the part where you leave my blog and follow this LINK After you’ve spent several hours over there, you can come back. Clark listens to a ton of his stuff, and I catch a couple podcasts a month. Here is my “I’m a terrible Aunt” confession. Gabriel knows of James White because Rachel listens to him. When he found out we were going to the same church he is an elder at, the little guy got super excited and asked for me to “Say HI to Dr. White for me!!” However, I was looking at Dr. White’s face after the service, and thinking “This man has just preached a sermon, and that means he is exhausted. This would be a terrible time to go say hello.”  (Also, the idea of speaking to someone who is at that intellectual level is slightly terrifying. My brain doesn’t work.. quite... that... well.) So basically, I didn’t, and broke my nephew’s five year old heart. That makes twice in one week... he was already traumatized because he noticed grandpa’s rabbit had disappeared. :( Yes, I do feel terrible. Hopefully it doesn’t come up when I go see them tomorrow! If it does, I will quickly divert to souvenirs... “Hey buddy, I brought you a pop gun!” ;)
On Sunday afternoon, we reconnected with old family friends who moved away years ago. That was a blast!! It’s fun to see people you know and meet new people on vacation- also rare for us, since we tend to be perhaps a tiny bit anti social while in “vacation mode.”
Grand Canyon was breathtaking. Zion National Park was beautiful-- also, nice, because I hadn’t seen a million pictures of it before. It was all new to me, and there was a certain charm in that. Arches and the Grand Canyon looked... well, just like they had in pictures.  
Middle of the night one night, and papa knocks on my door. “Come here, I need your opinion on something.” So, I wander out and see what is going on. He had been studying outside, in the cool of the evening, and noticed a man just down the hill with a flashlight, doing who knows what. We were trying to figure out what he was working on, whether or not he was homeless, and whether or not he was a crook. So, I flipped all the lights off, and grabbed my camera and zoom lens. Just envision the movie Rear Window. I look through, then whisper to papa, “He is burying something... he has a trowel!” After that we woke up mom, to get her opinion. Do we call the cops? Or assume it’s a neighbor doing yard work in the middle of the night... A little creepy!
That’s what we do on vacation, folks.

p.s. In case you were wondering, no, I didn’t get bit by a rattler snake while getting a picture. I really thought that would happen. Nor did I see a black widow-- but I did see a GIGANTIC spider hanging out outside. Horrifying. Also, a bobcat wandered by the house, right by the front entryway. Cool!
Sidenote-- the area approaching Flagstaff, Arizona, was amazing. I mean, so amazing that it was one of the few places I think I would enjoy living. Obviously it would require further research, but at first glance it reminded me of central oregon + western washington. It was also twenty degrees cooler. :)
Also, we went to Kanab, Utah, where a bunch of westerns were filmed. Hurrah for John Wayne.
I have sleep to get, nieces and nephews to see tomorrow, and plenty of organizing to do before I go back to work. Therefore, have a lovely evening!