Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Happy Birthday Courters!

This young lady to the right (sporting some sweet shades) is turning the big ELEVEN today. With sweet shades like that, it's pretty obvious that she deserves the best birthday ever. :)

We hope you have a wonderful birthday little one.

We miss you and love you so much!


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Call if you get lost...

It's probably the most oft quoted phrase I've heard since moving to Durham. Whether it's a lunch appointment, a job interview, a ward function, picking Jess up on campus, visiting friends, it's just what you say at the end of a conversation.


Well, let's just say that Brother Brigham's square grid doesn't extend all the way to North Carolina. It's said that the roads here are based on old cattle trails. I, for one, actually believe that cattle travel in a more organized pattern than the way these roads are strewn across the land. Picture a bowl of spaghetti noodles. Now take a handful of those noodles and throw them on the ground. Those are the roads I wade through daily. :)

Seriously. There are no Center/Main intersections. There are no numbered blocks. There are no squares. Just lots of winding streets. I mean heaven forbid we cut down a tree in order to keep a street running straight. There are streets with the same name that don't connect (presumably due to a tree making its home right in the way). There are streets that change name en route. And then change back. One of our favorites is a left turn that you actually have to drive past, at which point you're dumped into a forced U-turn so you can double back to your turn. And without any mountains to use as compass points, it gets pretty confusing. Now, I know I'm just a big Utah baby, but even the locals attest to the utter confusion they experience when driving here.

Enter Garmin.

This new friend of ours (we refer to "him" by name, Garmin, although we use the female guide voice) is a lifesaver. My parents took pity on us after their trip to Durham, and gave us a GPS system for Christmas to help us get around. Garmin's like my best friend. He makes navigating a spaghetti bowl of roads just a little easier.

HOWEVER, even Garmin isn't fool proof. Even Garmin doesn't understand these cattle trails. A few times we've "arrived" at our destination, when the destination isn't anywhere in sight. And sometimes Garmin takes the long way (he prefers the freeways, when sometimes the noodle roads are quicker). To Garmin's credit though, more than not, he gets us where we need to go.

And in the end, it all works out. As you can always "call if you get lost." Or reprogram Garmin.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Standing for Something

Yesterday as I went on my daily blog rounds, I was touched by the many people who paid tribute to our beloved President Hinckley. How wonderful that one man could touch so many lives, could serve so many people, and for so long. What a remarkable ninety-seven-year tenure.

Last night, as Jess and I put together our new bookcase for our FHE activity, we decided we'd let Glenn Beck join us. For those of you who don't regularly patrol CNN, Glenn Beck is a radio/television host. He's a conservative by nature, and his show is usually pretty entertaining, especially in the moments when he calls politicians and others on the carpet for what or who they really are. One of our favorite moments was when he cut off a guest and informed him he was being rude and demeaning (which he was) and then denied him speaking privileges. :) Glenn Beck is also an LDS convert.

So last night as I feebly attempted to help Jess put together our bookcase (bless Jess for letting his wife help him and for loving her even when she breaks things), we heard Glenn mention that we should stay tuned as a "deeply personal note" was next. We were so glad we did. Because Glenn, like the rest of us, took his turn in paying tribute to a man that will be missed, but more so, that inspired us all to stand for something, to be a little better.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Yesterday marked the passing of one of the world's greatest. I never actually met him, never shook his hand. The closest I ever got was sitting on the ninth row at the conference center. And even when sitting in that proximity, you still tend to look at the monitors for a better view anyway. But the funny thing is, I feel like I knew him. No matter how distracted I may have been during Conference broadcasts, I always tuned in for his message. It seemed that my Conference antennae couldn't help but tune me in when he stood to address us.

I'll miss his cane nodding in the air, telling us hello. I'll miss that up-and-down hand as he so simply and eloquently advised and spoke. And I'll miss the simple peace that came from being in the same room with him. And there was just something so powerful about the swell of love that came as he entered a room - everyone on their feet, simultaneously beginning, "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet."

How grateful I am for his life well lived, his example, his service. The DNews reported that he passed "surrounded by family." I don't think it's too hard to imagine that he was likely surrounded on both sides. :)

Until we meet again, as he would likely say. :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Duke's Dark Side

So Jess is taking an undergraduate class (a pre req for his Master's in Economics and a grand lesson in humility as the little freshman whomp on him), which is on East Campus, miles away from the law school (located on West Campus). The drive to East Campus is very scenic, the highlight of which is "Graffiti Tunnel."

I can't decide if Graffiti Tunnel is a stomping ground for competing gangs, a giant canvas on which honor code bound students can express their individuality, free advertisement space, or just a routine stop when rushing for any given sorority.

In any case, I find it fascinating, both the paint job and the fact that Duke's rigid administration hasn't quelched it. There are years worth of paint just slathered in thick layers (see below).

Talk about self expression.

(I particularly appreciate this last one. Picture is mine, not the art. :) )

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This is as close it gets folks. Murray, Utah. This little tike has got pipes. And a face that tweens all over the country could adore.

(Yes, I've taken it upon myself to ensure that those who aren't keeping tabs on AI [that would be American Idol] are still in the know. You'll thank me later. :) )

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What with opportunities like this...

So today in my endless search for employment, I came across this ad listed in the administrative/office jobs section of Craig's List:


Feel free to send your pic. Seriously?!

Needless to say, the job hunt continues. As it turns out, I'm not available those hours.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Snap Happy

So tonight when Jess needed to grab a few things on campus, we hopped in the car, camera in tow (who doesn't bring their camera with them everywhere they go?), and headed to school on a holiday, despite his best efforts to avoid it. :)

On our way, Jess noticed the ginormous moon rising above Durham, so when we got to campus, we went on a hunt for the moon (don't laugh - EVERYTHING is hidden by trees in North Carolina, including something like a low lying moon). Jess was hoping for a shot of Duke Chapel with the moon, but the lunar man remained hidden behind a wall of trees.

However, as it happens, I got my once-in-a-while itch to snap some shots. So while Jess took a few phone calls, I took a few shots. While Duke's campus is relatively homogeneous (much like Durham's landscape), Duke Chapel is really quite beautiful, especially at dusk.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It Never Snows...

So there are probably roughly five people who will recognize the below lyrics to what I once assumed was a regular Christmas carol. Three of them had the privilege of growing up with me, and the other two were the providers of said song. For whatever reason, the song just didn't seem to make it to mainstream Christmas radio. Even in Durham, where you have FOUR stations playing Christmas, all season long, all the time.

So as the song goes, "It never snows in L.A., so Santa don't bring me a sleigh. I'll leave the key by the door, cuz there's no chimney anymore. Remember where you are - better bring your car..."

And so on.

I believe that this little ditty comes from the oh-so-talented, but not without drama, Osmond family, courtesy of one seriously over played Christmas tape (we're talkin' cassette folks). And along with a few other Osmond classics, my sisters and I particularly enjoyed this song (I have no shame) because we thought it was so clever as it never snowed in St. George either.

Well, we've been told that it never snows in Durham. But folks, it's snowing! And it's my most favorite kind of snow. It's of the St. George variety - it looks pretty as it falls, makes me feel all winter-like, as if I should hunker down with a good book and read by the fire, cup of hot cocoa in hand (I imagine it will be more along the lines of watching CNN election coverage, Diet Mountain Dew in hand). And it DOESN'T STICK! The above picture was a total sham. Below you will find the winter wonderland I am currently enjoying.

Sorry folks. That's all I could find. But look - I took a self portrait to illustrate there is indeed snow falling! (Small white specks are snow, not a scalp disease of some sort.)

So my deepest sympathies to those experiencing true freeze out weather back home. But according to North Carolinians, this is serious winter weather. This is weather worthy of closing school! Stay indoors - it's SNOWING!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

No Strings Attached

And how does one watch American Idol when one's husband is studying?

Wireless headphones, baby. Wireless headphones that one's husband got one for Christmas for just this purpose. Love him.

Next invention on the docket? Wireless laughing. Pretty sure I'm somewhat distracting. :)

Guilty as Charged

I confess. I'm an American Idol junky. I can't help it! And I'm really not a big TV watcher either. Sure, I basically call myself a Gilmore Girl (click here for a classic clip). And I'm relatively obsessed with Planet Earth (the Christensen Santa even brought me it on DVD). And I can't lie - I enjoy an occasional America's Next Top Model (drama, drama, drama!), as long as we're nearing the top and I don't have to hear "You are still in the running to be America's next top model," twelve times in Tyra's oh-so-serious voice.

But for the most part, I only have room in my heart for the Gilmores. And the rest of TV land is a big foreign landscape to me.

But American Idol? As I sat watching it last night (thank goodness for DVR and the wonders of forwarding through the many commercials that interrupt all the singing goodness), I felt like I needed to justify my actions. And truth be told, I couldn't come up with any real good reason. But when it really comes down to it, you simply cannot duplicate true entertainment (or talent) like this:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Running in Circles

So in St. George, my neighborhood was a handy loop. The largest loop was a mile and a half; if you cut over at the first loop, it was one mile. Much like I wish I knew how many times I've driven I15 from St. George to Northern Utah, I also wish I knew how many times I've run around that loop. Those who know me know that running is my thing, often my therapy. I'm pretty sure I've run somewhere around 15 miles (in one sitting), just circle after circle after circle. (Sounds crazy, I know.)

There were always the neighborhood regulars out there with me too. Teddy Sue and Bart Graff would be bundled up in their scarves, beanies, and layers of clothes, walking the circle every morning with me in the winter. And they were the perfect exercise friends - they walked the opposite direction I ran, so they said hello, a good word or two, often a shout of encouragement when they knew I was out for a long one, but never stopped me in my run (don't stop people to talk when they're running!). There was Al Behning, often out washing his cars, cleaning out the garage, mowing the lawn. If it was a night run, no matter the time (9 p.m., 1 a.m.), I was almost sure to see Mark Robertson out walking Teddy, their mutt who is loved most (some would say only) by Mark.

Last Thursday, I went to hop on the only working treadmill at our fitness center, but it wouldn't start. I've been babying my achilles tendon for a couple months after a bout with tendonitis, but when I got the error message on the treadmill, I decided that enough was enough. And I found myself running in circles again. This time on one of Duke's many forest trails. And coincidentally enough, it's one big loop. It's three miles, so I only have to run it twice, but it feels good to be out in the fresh air again, to hear my breathing (usually drowned out by the ipod) and the thud of my feet going up and down the hills. I think so much better out there, letting my thoughts run in circles with my feet.

Ah, circles.

NOTE: The above picture is said trail. I veer to the right here. Oh, and these leaves are long gone. This picture was taken in the fall.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Catching a Durham Sunset

It's not easy to do folks. In order to catch a Durham sunset, you have to do one of two things: (1) Execute a "drive-by shooting" while driving on the highest freeway overpass (dangerous and really not that scenic), or (2) Drive about 15 miles to Jordan Lake.

The sun sets right on the lake, and while you can pull off just near the highway and dodge whizzing cars, tonight we found a secret trail that leads right down to the lake. It was an unbelievably beautiful night, so peaceful. There wasn't a sound except the lapping water and a few fishes who jumped up out of the water to shoo us out of their quiet little home.

We left reluctantly. And even as we did so, there was a deep pink sky behind us. Pretty place, this Durham.

Just before we left, the moon came into the shot. See upper left corner. :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fate and the SLC

So this morning, Jess and I very reluctantly packed up our stuff in four very large pieces of luggage, loaded it into Mom’s Suburban, and made our way to the SLC airport, normally a pretty friendly place.

During our long distance dating days, I got to be real familiar with the joint. And I actually really liked it, even when I was delayed, because no matter what, I was on my way to Jess.

And while I appreciate that I’m actually with Jess this time, today I’m not so much in love with the SLC International.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 2:25 p.m. And well folks, it’s 5:00 p.m. And the best part is that just five minutes ago, Jess got a message on his phone from an American Airlines representative letting him know that our flight was delayed. Oh really? I was wondering why I was starting to smell like the airport, why my face is getting that “I’ve been sitting and waiting forever” kind of sheen, and why I’m getting hungry enough that grabbing a handful of the little banana peppers at the Quizno’s dressing bar (dangerously close to my seat) is actually a temptation.

So now we get to sit here and reflect upon the injustices of flight travel. While it can be handy and relatively speedy, there are days like this that make you realize that sometimes Fate knows where you belong, and it seems that today Fate is trying to keep us home.

I, for one, appreciate Fate’s efforts, despite the fact that it leaves me stuck in this concrete enclosure full of funny smells and weird shoes (I’ve been paying particular attention to the variety of boots and Uggs that exist. Pretty astounding really.) But I suppose I can handle a few more minutes of this beautiful state, even if it’s through the window of SLC International.

I’ll miss you Utah. (If I am able to extract myself from this seat should the opportunity ever present itself.)

(Post note: We finally made it back to Durham. At 2:30 a.m. And if I’m being honest, when I stepped through the sliding doors of the Raleigh-Durham airport, it was rather refreshing to breathe in a deep gulp of that foliage-infused air. So maybe home can be in more than one place. :) )


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