Sunday, March 30, 2008

lions and tigers - oh my!

On Friday, we headed up to D.C. for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Someone I know has been waiting all year to see these blossoms, as these are actually Japanese cherry trees. The sakura trees were a gift from Japan in 1912 to celebrate the two nations' then growing friendship, and the pink and white flowers now line the shore of the Tidal Basin surrounding Jefferson. They're absolutely beautiful, and Jess took lots (and lots) of pictures. I was amazed at how many people were crammed on to the mall, cameras pointed into the canopy of trees.

Our friends Justin and Lucy, with baby Miriam, drove up with us on Friday morning (and when I say morning, I mean a 5 a.m. departure time - crazy people!), and we spent the next two days wondering around the city I've learned to really love. The blossoms were absolutely amazing, and Jess was a little more than camera crazy. We visited Lincoln (always my favorite), Washington, Jefferson, and the Museum of Natural History on Friday.

However, on Saturday, we did a few new things. At the brilliant suggestion of Justin and Lucy, we visited the National Zoo as well as the National Cathedral, two sites we had never ventured out to previously as they aren't directly downtown. I haven't been to a zoo in ages, but this one is incredible. And let's be honest, Jess did some good work with his telephoto (that has no image stabilization in it). Our favorite friend was the panda. It was feeding time, and boy was he serious about bamboo. He was chomping down those stalks like he'd never seen food before. We watched him for quite a while, but also got to see some other critters.

All in all, it was a fast, furious, and fabulous trip. Special thanks to the Jesses, who were so patient with our wandering ways and picture snapping obsession.

And an extra thanks to Baby Miriam, who was definitely my highlight of the trip. Isn't she so perfect - I need one!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Okay, so let me tell you what I know about Asia.

1. Kim chi is foul. My Korean roommate (who also left me with a nice chunk of sterotypical Asian behaviors, which I will not divulge as I like to believe she is the exception) used to make it. And store it in the fridge - in an UNOPENED CONTAINER. Foul, foul, foul.
2. I would wager that the majority of the things I'm touching or sitting near at the moment were made in China.
3. Curry is yum. Now I realize that curry sinks its roots in India (and I also enjoy Indian food), but my best memories of curry are all Asian. Panang curry is among the greater culinary compilations on the planet. Without it, this world would be just a little less full, a little less complete.
4. It's really hard to become a ninja warrior. On our favorite show, I especially enjoy the random translated captioning: "'The lactic acid is building up in his muscles!" Um, okay. But seriously - this show makes becoming a ninja nigh unto impossible. And how exactly does successfully clinging to a one inch ledge make you a ninja? Not that I could do it, but seriously? A ninja?
5. Thanks to my darling Chinese friend, Lee, here in Durham, I now know that their schooling system is insane and that we Americans really aren't as smart as we think we are. (Especially we Americans who attended school in St. George, UT.)

But the best things I know about Asia I know from my husband. I married a man who has a very special place in his heart for this crowded continent. He served his mission in Nagoya, Japan, and I think he carries a bit of that country with him. I love it when he's trying to explain something to me, and the only way he can describe it is with a Japanese expression, as English isn't enough. And most of all, I love how happy his face became when he (finally!) got the email letting him know he'd been accepted as an intern in Tokyo this summer. He is so excited, and despite the fact that I will be an ignorant American scanning the crowds for spare ninja warriors, I'm beginning to get excited too.

So in a very ironic twist of fate, I'm going to live in Asia. I'm going to get enough weird smells (and unbelievable memories, I'm sure) to last a lifetime. (Now would be a good time to mention that I have "superdog nose," a term I inherited from E.Nicole. :) )

The best part is that I only had one question/concern once we got the news - "Um, will I be able to run there?" (No, they don't have streets nor treadmills. Sorry.)

Like I said, ignorant. :)

Congratulations Honey! (Just don't forget that you're not only my husband; you're also my translator. ;) )

NOTE: We went on our honeymoon to Disneyworld. My favorite part was Epcot - I loved the little worlds created around countries. And ironically enough, I loved Japan world. While there, I bought some yummy Japanese candy (long since consumed) as well as fancy chopsticks - one in my hair above - and a little ninja keychain. He's a little worn, but I love him - if you look in the little viewfinder in his belly, there's a tiny painting of a ninja. My love for the country has to begin somewhere. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

the heat is on

So if you know me, you know that I have an EXTREME aversion to heat. And I get hot much easier than most people. Most people can tolerate it - I can't. I freak out. I literally like start pulling at my clothes (common decency prevents me from ripping them off), fanning my face.

When I was "interviewing" cake designers for my wedding cake, Jodi (my mother-in-law) and I went to visit this ultra hippie lady who bakes cakes out of her home. That has no a/c. Jodi was literally blowing on me to keep me cool. When I go to the fitness center, I take my own fan (and tear open the windows). In SLC at the SLC Sports Complex, I fought the old foges for their fans (it was just me and them at that hour). And I vehemently refuse to get in Jess' car (which has a busted a/c unit) when the barometer reads anything over 60 (hey, cars are like ovens - even if it's not hot outside, a vehicle in the sun is a potential sweaty prison).

Now I've had a theory about this heat problem of mine for quite a while - as the first child of poor college students, my crib was in the front room. In the winter, Eric and Lichelle cranked up the heat, naturally - Logan is freezing. However, when I developed a strange RASH, they realized that as the heat started in the front room before it ever made it to them, I was getting the bulk of the blowing. I'm pretty sure all that overheating as a small, helpless thing pretty much did me in. My body is done needing heat - I received enough warmth by my first year. Thus, any excess heat I experience now causes major problems.

But I was listening to the radio this morning on the way into work, and heard something fascinating. Listeners were calling in to tell of their strange medical conditions. I tuned in just as this girl was explaining her actual medically diagnosed aversion to heat. She takes cold showers. She can't use blow dryers or curling irons. She can't go outside in the dead of summer for more than a minute or she will pass out, break out in a freakish rash pretty immediately. In high school, her P.E. teacher thought she was making excuses when she said she couldn't run the mile outside as it was too hot. She remembers getting about halfway around the track. Spicy foods even cause her body temperature to rise too much.

So I've decided that I have a physical urticarias, of the cholinergic variety. (Yes, I often medically self-diagnose myself.) But my aversion isn't such that I actually have to avoid the sun and spicy foods. It's just enough for me to periodically throw totally irrational fits.

And by the way, just WHY is a sauna so appealing? Welcome to a sweaty box that smells of moldy wood. Enjoy your slow death.

NOTE: Above photo taken in April 2006, after 26.2 long miles. I ran the Ogden Marathon (as opposed to the St. George, as everyone assumes) because it was nice and cool. Freezing really for the first 10-15 miles. But still, as you can see, wiping it away.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

hip to the hop

So on Saturday, my mom e-mailed me and asked what I was cooking for Easter dinner.

Easter, wha?

You see, Jess and I had the privilege of speaking in church today. And given the attention I was throwing in my talk's direction, I didn't leave much thought for something like Easter dinner. I called my mom in desperation to ask what I was "supposed" to make. And then ran out to Honey Baked Ham (like I'm going to attempt a disgusting ham on my own) and the grocery to pick up the goods. Then we decided since I was going to the trouble, we might as well share the love. So we invited some friends, and Easter dinner became dinner for seven.

So no need to stress. I pulled through. I'm still a semi-decent housewife. :)

Oh, I made this insane craft for my nursery kids too. Never mind that they're three years old. Most of them don't even know the difference between a monkey and an elephant. (Monkey's tail, elephant's trunk, confusing.) But I was obsessed. And come on - they're SO CUTE. And my little people love the gluestick - don't worry, I partially assembled the creatures - they helped me put on heads, ears, and feet. "My do it!"

(And for those of you who are wondering - that whole adage about nursery staving off baby hunger? It doesn't work. Hunger pangs? Check.)

Happy Easter. :)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

popcorn popping

Spring's here! Yay!

I can't say that spring is my favorite season, as any season that isn't summer is my favorite season. But I do love spring, especially the blossoms. I love that the world wakes up again and again every year. And I love the smell in the air, particularly here in Durham - lots of blossoms and green things are shaking off winter, and the wind is tossing it around.

I work in one of several buildings in the GlaxoSmithKline compound. The road that runs throughout is lined with these beautiful blossoming trees. (I'm told they are blossoming pear trees.) It's like you're driving through a blossom canopy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the boy is back

So last week I didn't even bother mentioning David A's stumble of a performance. And the real truth is that sometimes our DVR box likes to help me tame my AI addiction. Even when it is set to record, it doesn't. In this case, the entire box shut down. So Jess couldn't watch his Jazz either. It was a rather tragic event in both of our lives, but I'd like to think we made it through relatively unscathed.

Last night, our boy (he is yours too, by virtue of reading my blog) decided he still wants to play. (And our box did too.) I know that his little almost crying eyes get a little old, but the problem is, he's just good! He'll be in it for the long haul, regardless of last week's missed lines. He has talent, and he deserves to be there. Also to watch - Irish Carly Smithson, with her tattoos and lovely lilt, she's a powerhouse in the voice department. In a perfect world, it would be Carly and David A. battling it out. We shall see.

However, Amanda Overmeyer is really entertaining. I think it's great that she's still in the running. She's so random. And I'm rather random. And I once had random blond streaks at the front of my hair too. (Which I hated and got rid of in a matter of weeks.) Also, I have about as much singing talent as she does. So we're similar that way. Maybe we could be friends.

Monday, March 17, 2008

who's your paddy

So I was thinking about Googling the real reason for the season. Like why exactly we celebrate this day of green. I could throw in some witty comments about green leprechauns, Ireland, a Saint named Patrick. But since it's obviously someone's day, I shouldn't disrespect.

I will, however, share my one St. Patrick's Day memory. As a child, I remember it was really cool to wear green that no one could see. That way, when little Tommy pinched you, you could pinch him ten times back because, yes, you had a spot of green on your underoos. Also a clever trick: draw a green dot with marker on the palm of your hand. Gets 'em every time.

As Jess and I left for the day, I realized that we each picked out the only item of clothing we had sporting a speck of green, and in doing so, had picked matching outfits, in a plaid sort of floral way. What a patriotic couple. (Is it patriotic to wear green?)

Um, Happy St. Paddy's. May the luck o' the Irish be with ya. Or the luck of the underoos. You choose.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

talking walls

I've always been fascinated by the history of a place, old buildings in particular. They must be full of secrets, stories. If only walls could talk. I've often wished they could.

Durham is full of untold stories. The city was made successful by the booming tobacco industry in the late 1800s, early 1900s, particulary so by a gentleman named Washington Duke (the founder of what later beame Duke University). As the tobacco industry boomed, so did the population. And Durham became the most successful African American community in America. Martin Luther King, Jr. made several visits, as evidenced by the many streets named after him.

Every Friday, I pick up my paycheck in downtown Durham. Yesterday, Jess came with me and we took a walk through town, with the camera, of course. We took turns taking shots, just strolling around, enjoying the incredible weather. The town is still reminiscent of the early 1900s, with many original buildings in various states of decay or renovation. Currently there are multiple pushes to rennovate and preserve downtown. In recent years, it has become more of a crime mecca than a cultural center, and the locals are looking to bring Durham back.

Our favorite find was an abandoned steel and welding factory. It appears as if one day they threw in the towel and literally walked away from their work. Pipes and steel sheets are waiting for welding, although layers of rust and decay are evidence that they've been left for good. An old car from the 1940s (however, its stickers indicate that it was last registered in 1985) was particularly interesting to me. Incredibly resilient, yet nature had taken its toll and literally grown up through the engine, vines creeping into the car through the open door.

If walls could talk. Or rusty old cars.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

picasso face

So once when I got a really bad cold, I looked in the mirror and felt like my face had been rearranged. Like my insides were out, my face was dripping. I then coined a phrase that is reserved for the moments when I feel the most miserable: "I have Picasso face."

And ladies and gents, I have Picasso face. (You know, like my features are distorted and strange, dripping to the side, like some of Picasso's subjects' facial features were apt to do.)

I tried to fend it off, but it was really pretty useless as this cold was bound and determined to take me down. I think I'm on the up slope, but I've had some rather miserable moments. The worst part is cold medicine makes me crazy. Even NyQuil turned on me as it actually prevented my sleep, holding me in the realm just between awake-enough-to-be-conscious and asleep-enough-to-get-rest. But without it, I just lay in bed for several hours until somehow my body shuts down. And then before I know it, the birds are screaming again.

I just want my sleep back. And my face.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


This afternoon, I was enjoying a little snooze (one of a few today - I'm trying really hard to battle this cold I feel coming on) when suddenly I was awakened by a loud "Whomp!" It startled me enough that I shot up in bed. Jess happened to have been looking out the window when it happened.

We've been having some stormy weather lately - lots of rain, which pretty much sends the locals into varying rain dances as they're so happy the drought is being quelched. (We ignorant non-locals, however, continue to try to understand the difference between a Utah drought and a North Carolina drought. One place, dead. The other, green. Both in a drought. Huh. Go figure.)

This morning, the downpour of the past two days came to a stand still but left gusts of powerful wind in its wake. The 40-plus feet trees in our complex swayed quite dramatically and slightly dangerously from side to side. They kind of looked like they had their branch arms around each other, swaying back and forth.

But one snapped. Thus, the "whomp." Jess' car was parked a few stalls away from the offending tree. And now the busted up tree has become the local attraction. I'm pretty sure a good majority of the residents here have taken a "walk" or gone to "get the mail" in order to take a peep at the snap (without offending the poor people whose cars got damaged). (Luckily, we live on the third floor, just across from it, so we enjoy watching it all without even leaving the comfort of our home! :) )

And I thought Durham was a little on the less adventuresome side. Heck, there's adventure right here in my front yard.

(And actually, we were interested in the local attraction as well. This is taken from Jess' moving car, a drive by, if you will. Just around the bend, a couple more trees snapped as well [the top photo].)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

all thaied up

When Jess and I went on our first date, he made me a little nervous initially as he didn't seem to have a plan. You know, you get in the car (another blind date), and they don't even have a destination. (Granted, I didn't give him time to think as the minute we got in the car I started babbling. I do that sometimes, you know, to fill potential empty air.) But Jess actually did have a plan. He suggested the "three and one game." One person picks three locations, the other chooses the one to eat at. I chose the three:

1. Lemongrass (my favorite Thai restaurant)
2. Costa Vida (gave him a Mexican, relatively inexpensive variety)
3. Rumbi (because I couldn't think of anything else that sounded good)

He chose correctly, and we found ourselves enjoying some of the best curry you'll ever eat. And then we spent a couple hours talking. Lemongrass is a perfect place for this - quiet, nice, pretty tinkling oriental music to calm first date nerves. In fact, I don't recall being nervous at all. Must've been the curry.

Eight months (and lots of long distance dating) later, Jess' family invited me to dinner at Lemongrass (Jess and I had since introduced the family to our favorite). Jess was scheduled to come home in a few days, and I had just talked to him that morning as he prepared for his last final. I didn't think anything of the big family dinner - that's the way Cheneys do things. All or nothin'. Especially when it involves free food. :)

We sat down, and I began recommending the dishes of the night. Somewhere in between "panang curry" and "pad see ew," I suddenly found myself being hugged from behind - it was all very confusing, especially when this someone tried to plant one on me.

When I got a good view of the redhead, I pushed him away, screamed, and jumped up to hug him. Once he got me settled down, he dropped down on one knee and opened a box with the prettiest ring I've ever seen.

Months later, we've found our North Carolinian curry. And it's almost as good as Lemongrass. In fact, the only thing it's missing is the tinkling oriental music (they play random favorites of the eighties). And a room fully of Cheneys. :)

(Thai Cafe - I know, they didn't waste time in name selection - made me a little carrot butterfly with my pad thai tonight. And for those who are wondering, I was very sad to see during a downtown SLC driveby in December that Lemongrass is closed. For demolition it appears. Good thing we got our memories in before we lost the best curry in Utah. :) )

Monday, March 3, 2008


So remember our fantasy NBA league?

Well, as it turns out, I am one possessed of little patience. (I know, huge surprise, right?) My current tactic in the league is to play any player who is remotely worth playing. Why? To reach my game limits and be done. I know, not the most intelligent game plan if I want to win it in the end. However, it definitely soothes my patience and leaves my nerves just that much more at ease. One less Sprite Zero I'll have to drink, right?

(And let's be honest. It's better than my tactic in fantasy football - the team with the prettiest color wins.)

However, all this game playing is really paying off as I have moved from fifth place to second place. Never mind that I've played a couple dozen more games than Jess (and he's still comfortably sitting in first place). That is beside the point.

The point is - I'M WINNING (sort of)!



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