Newness for a New Year

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rising From the Ashes

This post is from Emily, Breanne's sister. To those of you who love Breanne I wanted you to know that early Saturday morning her apartment in Salt Lake City was involved in a 4 Alarm fire. She is fine. However her apartment was destroyed as were most of her belongings. We were able to go back into the building for a few things yesterday and thankfully found many of her journals, some of her mission treasures, photos and books. Everything else is gone. She is an amazing person with strong faith and will rise from the ashes.

Thanks to all those who have called, and been available when she has needed assistance.

If you would like to check out the news stories you can go to Laura Lee who was interviewed is Breanne's roommate, and a few of the pictures are of her apartment. The above picture is of what is left of the living room, the bedrooms were worse off. We feel so blessed as a family that she is safe and with us.If you would like to help out in anyway you can contact Emily McAllister at

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Our nation, which possesses greater resources than any other, is rent, from center to circumference, with party strife, political intrigues, and sectional interest; our counselors are panic stricken, our legislators are astonished, and our senators are confounded, our merchants are paralyzed, our tradesmen are disheartened, our mechanics out of employ, our farmers distressed, and our poor crying for bread, our banks are broken, our credit ruined, and our states overwhelmed in debt, yet we are, and have been in peace."
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith: Section V, 1842-1843, at 249 (1976 Deseret Book Company)). Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1976 edition on page 249.

Monday, October 6, 2008


I am in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the week. I am here on my first business trip with Allen. I am with a team, which is nice since I have no real idea of what I am doing.

We went to Lake Michigan tonight. It was so beautiful. Tomorrow we start meetings.

I'll catch up here when I get some time this week.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Shout Out

Congrats to the Cougars for moving up in the polls without evening playing. I guess I should actually be thanking USC, Georgia, and Wisconsin for losing. But, 8th in the AP and 7th in the USA Today Poll is quite a feat. Way to go Cougars! I found this article about BYU that does a nice job of explaining what makes BYU so different and yet so great. It is a respectful article that actually gives BYU the credit it deserves.

For all of you Ute fans out there, you should also be proud. The Utes are looking sharp this year. I hope they perform well against Oregon State.

Movies, Movies, Movies

I haven't blogged about movies I have been watching lately. Tonight, I saw Forever Strong and decided it was time to catch up.

I will start with
Forever Strong and work back a bit. This is a really good movie. Yes, it is a sports feel-good movie, but I like them, so it works. Besides, it is about a Utah team and I love all the familiar shots. I especially appreciate that the juvenile detention center he is sent to is in Provo, by my old house, and one of the hills he runs on (from the juvenile center) is now the street I live on, in Salt Lake City. He does some serious jogging in the movie. Aside from the Utah factor, the movie has a solid cast (including many Utahans who aren't annoying) and good acting. I appreciated how the characters were portrayed, and I felt like the setting and evolution of characters was developed well. This is a good movie that is motivating and inspiring.

Elizabeth I (HBO mini-series): I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys history or period pieces. It is two-part series starring Helen Mirren as Elizabeth I (not to be confused with her role as Elizabeth II in The Queen). It begins 20 years into her reign (which makes sense since Mirren, as fabulous as she is, couldn't pull off a young Elizabeth). But, she certainly pulls off Elizabeth 20 years into her reign until her death. The movie seems to get at Elizabeth as a person, with all the conflict and the character. I felt for her and all she went through to give her life to the Crown and her people. It captures her as a monarch but more as a person. Although this is an HBO series, it isn't sex-driven. It does, however, make sure that all the killing scenes are realistic. I found that I couldn't handle the torture and the treasonous executions. I had to cover the screen, fast forward, and press mute. Yes, I had to press mute. Even the sounds were a little much for me. But, from watching the making of the movie after, I found out that Mary Queen of Scots' beheading was actually tamed down a bit, which is hard to believe. I am glad that public executions and quartering have gone out of fashion in this part of the world. I haven't seen the Hollywood versions of Elizabeth, but I am interested in them. If anyone has seen them, I would like to know your opinion.

About a Boy: I have heard about this move for some time, and I finally watched it. Of course, I wanted to see it because I love Hugh Grant, even if he usually plays a jerk. Well, he didn't let me down in this one. He is a jerk, but then, as usual, he changes into a more redeemable character. I think this is a brilliant movie that exposes so much about human interactions and the potential for growth when you give someone a chance and offer sincere friendship. If you haven't seen this, then watch it soon. It does have a lot of British swearing in it, but if you are like me and still refuse to learn or acknowledge exactly what the meanings of such words are, then it doesn't quite have the same effect.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2: Yes, this is a girl movie. If you aren't a girl, I don't think you like this. And, maybe some of you girls won't like it either. But, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the first one as well, so if you didn't like the first one, you might not like this one either. From what I am told, it combines the rest of the books into one movie. It didn't bother me because I haven't read the books yet, but some people didn't like how it all fit together. I enjoyed the adventures, and I liked the character development. There were a couple of lines that really stuck out to me, so I guess I felt particularly connected to some of the story lines. It is a feel-good movie for girls and for anyone who has a close set of girlfriends.

Gidget Goes to Rome: I know most of you are reading the title and you can guess that the movie was less than spectacular. But, you are wrong, it is worse than that--it is wretched. I think I first saw this years ago. My roommate and I decided to watch it again the other night, thinking it couldn't be that bad. And, most of you know I am not opposed to overly sappy movies. But, this isn't overly sappy; it is just pathetic. I love the original Gidget, and even the presence of James Darren in this film couldn't save it from its own horridness. So, even if you think, I haven't seen that in years, I should watch it again. Don't. Don't do it to yourself. Don't even watch it to see Rome. If you want to see a good old movie with shots of Rome, watch Roman Holiday. I think one of the things that makes it so horrible is that they change the characters--much like the Anne of Green Gables Continuing Story, which is also horrible. You can't just change the characterization without spoiling everything that has already been done. So, if you are ever in the mood for Gidget, stick with Sandra Dee. The Hawaiian version is also no good. Remember, Sandra Dee.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The opposite side of Incredible

Since I just posted about how incredible it is to run across America, I hesitate to post these two sites, but maybe the contrast will be good

20 worst foods in America

20 most sugar-packed foods in America

Check these out. And, if you eat any of them, you might want to reconsider.


Have you heard about the two men running across America? They are running across Utah today and for a day or so.

Check them out here and here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Books and Bookcases

My friend Salli asked me a few weeks ago about what one thing I wouldn't be able to take out of my budget, besides necessities.

I said books.

This probably seems like a very obvious response for me. But, when I purchased a new bookcase a couple of weeks ago for all my books, I was a little amazed at how many books I have accumulated. For the first time in a few years, I have all my books in one place.
Here is my beautiful new bookcase, which I bought at IKEA. I love it. Joanie and I put it together and it was so much fun to organize some of my books. And don't worry, this isn't my only bookcase, I have three others.

Friday, September 19, 2008

For Grammar Geeks Like Me

I finally read up on the difference between an en dash and an em dash. I will post what I learned, but I wonder if anyone knows the difference. If you cheat and look online, please admit it in your response. I won't think less of you.

It was never that great to begin with

I read an article today about how Hershey's has taken out the cocoa butter from their chocolate and replaced it with vegetable oil in many of its products. They even have to change the wording to say "chocolate product."

There is an uproar among some chocolate lovers, but all I have to say is that Hershey's has never been on the top of my list for "good" chocolate. After experiencing "good" chocolate and even "exquisite" chocolate I will never go back to Hershey's.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blue Hands

I just looked down at my hands and noticed a blue hue all over them. I couldn't figure out where it would have come from. I have been just sitting at my computer working for the last hour or so. I picked up everything in front of me and looked at it for any sign of blue. Nothing.

Then, I remembered. I put on a new pair of dark jeans this morning. I ignored the tag that said I should wash once before wearing so the dyes don't get on anything light colored. I figured I would be wearing a dark sweater and my chair at work is black. What could happen? Why do I always think I am the exception? Today, I am not the exception and my blue hands prove it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back to Blogging: Coming Together

I like to think of myself as someone who believes in the interconnectivity of life. We all rely on each other. We need other people, and luckily for us, there is a Grand Designer that guides us through experiences and to people. We often think we know where we are going or what we should end up as, but we are usually off base. C.S. Lewis said that we can expect some discomfort as God remodels us because we can only imagine that he is making a cottage out of us instead of a beautiful palace. But, in rare moments when we can look back and see how all those days of cottage dreaming really were moving us toward the palace, something in life changes.

I love the verse in Genesis that reads, "And God remembered Rachel." Now, I am confident that God never forgot about her, but sometimes we feel as though we have been forgotten. Deep inside I know that what Elder Maxwell said is true: "We are His work and His glory, and He is never distracted." But, I do get distracted. I sometimes get so caught up in wondering what will become of me that I forget that I am becoming someone all along. And, it is true that God remembers us. I have felt that truth so fully in my life as this past month has unfolded in unexpected ways.

Many of you know that I ended my job at BYU in August. My one-year (extended a second) appointment ended and I felt I needed a change. I knew that I needed to leave Provo and try something new. I was hoping the move might be to a completely new place, maybe Boston or Portland. But, my heart kept telling me Salt Lake. It wasn't my first choice, for various reasons, but amid all the unknown days, I knew I should move downtown. I found a roommate: LauraLee. We worked together for two years at BYU. She just started at the U in the law program. We found a nice place just west of the university. I am a short 4-minute walk from my Trax stop and I have all the stores I need on 4th South. It is ideal.

I won't go into the details of my job search, but I will say that as of the third week in August, I was still unemployed. The thing is, I felt such peace about it. I knew I needed to be in Salt Lake and I trusted that the peace I was feeling would mean that I would secure a job downtown. Well, thanks to Mindy (Hepworth) Heywood, I found a job. Mindy and I have been friends since third grade, and at my 10-year reunion in July I spoke to her about her work in Instructional Design. Well, as I was searching Craig's List for jobs, I came across an opening for an Instructional Designer. I emailed Mindy to see if she could tell me about the firm. Turns out, it was her firm. From that point on everything fell into place. Thanks to Mindy and her excellent work, Allen Communication decided to take me on, mostly by association I think. So, thanks for being so outstanding Mindy.

And now I work and live downtown. I love it. My Trax stop for work is right at Sam Weller's bookstore, which is a wonderful place. I can eat my favorite Greek food any day of the week. I hardly drive--thank goodness. I love the people I see and meet everyday.

When I think about all I have been experiencing, all I can say is that I am saturated in newness. For many years, I have thought about how much I would love an urban life. Of course, I always thought it would be in an Eastern city, but I think this move is exactly what I need.

And what we need is often different than what we want. When I was a bold and befuddled 18 year old, I never could have imagined my life now. I couldn't have known the richness I would experience, the people I would meet and the places I would visit. Seemingly unimportant events in my life have combined to make a very unexpected and stunning present.

Thank you all for your support as I have transitioned to this newness. I couldn't have done it without you. I realize that as much as I think I have accomplished something in my life, I really haven't accomplished anything on my own. I am surrounded by so many amazing people. You encourage me and help me see in myself what I have yet to become. I believe it was Tennyson who said, I am a part of all I have met. Well, I believe all whom I have met are a part of me.

As I sit blogging on this easy September evening, I sit in happiness at all the possibilities that life offers. Sometimes we need to vigorously work to figure out what is next and sometimes God wants us to trust him. He wants us watch in wonder and awe at his unfolding purposes for us. So, where ever you are at in your lives, I hope you can look at the beauty of how your life has unfolded and sit in peaceful anxiousness for what is to come. It might just happen when you least expect it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Amelia: Warrior, Mouse-slayer

I never could suspend my belief enough to enjoy (or watch) Ratatouille because two years ago we had mice in our kitchen. It was horrible. I can't even pretend that mice in the kitchen is a cute storyline because I remember the 5 we caught in about a week. We plugged all the holes we found with tin foil (they can't eat through it) and put out a lot of sticky traps. We never had anymore that year, and then we moved to a new place thinking our problem would be over forever (at least hoping it would be).

On Sunday, we discovered some holes in the bread bag sitting on the counter. Terror raced through us again. Again, it was horrible and yucky! We moved appliances and found small dark drops of doom along the wall behind the stove and fridge. So, we plugged holes and put out more traps. The next morning two were caught. Now, the nice thing about sticky traps is that the mice attempt to run across them and get caught (usually quickly). The bad thing is that then they need to be killed (so as not to prolong their pain, which might seem a little like an oxymoron since the entire premise is their death, but we do it nonetheless).

Well, here is where my title comes in. Amelia is kind and brave enough to do the deed once they have been caught. I won't go into details, but I am really glad she is willing to do it.
Hopefully, we won't have anymore and luckily I am moving to the sixth floor of a complex. And no, I will not be watching Ratatouille anytime in the future--or ever.

Dead Poet's Society

I love that there are some movies that always inspire me when I watch them. Even before I became an English teacher, I loved Dead Poet's Society. Now, it means even more to me. I show a clip in my literature class when I introduce the Poetry unit: the one when Mr. Keating has the students rip out the introduction. I am surprised that more and more of students haven't seen the entire movie.

The first time I ever watched it, I sobbed at the end. It was so beautifully tragic. I have to admit that I still sob when I watch the ending--I can't help it.

If you haven't seen it in a while, take some time to watch it. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

BYU and Modernism

The Museum of Art at BYU has a new exhibit that is quite different from its usual art: modernism.

It is Turning Point: The Demise of Modernism and the Rebirth of Meaning in American Art.

It has minimalist art and also installation art. It is refreshing and an interesting exhibit. If you are in the area, you should check it out. There is also a new addition to the permanent Religious Art: The Annunciation. It is lovely.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sweet Land and Sweet, Sweet Netflix

So, I broke down and decided to try Netflix. I love it, which isn't a hard thing to do. I can get all the independent and foreign films I love, while also enjoying Internet streaming.

This past week, I watched
Sweet Land. It is a beautiful, simple love story that tells the story of Inge, a mail-order bride who comes to Minnesota during the 1920s. She tells her story to her grandson through flashbacks. She endured a communication barrier and racial intolerance. Her character demonstrates a fierce determination and subtle grace. This isn't a fast-paced movie, but it is eloquent and delightful. I highly recommend it.

Where do you live?

I found this article interesting. It talks about how the design of your neighborhood could impact your body weight.

Speaking of neighborhood design, this might also be a good time to write that I found a place to live this fall. I am going to be living in the Incline Terrace Condominiums at 1032 East 400 South in Salt Lake. It puts LauraLee right by the U, and I will have quick access to Trax. I am really just relieved that we found a place in our price range that has a good location.

I am still working on a job. I will keep you posted.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Things I am thinking about

Ever wonder what people are thinking about? Here you go.

1. I still need to find a job for this fall. I keep coming back to the general idea of working for a group like the United Way. Natalie met a girl yesterday who works there and says she is leaving in the next few months. She is a grant writer. I need to send some emails.

2. Still looking for a place to live in Salt Lake. LauraLee and I went hunting yesterday. It was actually good because I realized how much I am going to love living in the city. I found the condo of my dreams. It is in a historic building on 3rd south that has been renovated. It has old, blue tile going upstairs, dark hardwood floors, and is located across the street from Greek Souvlaki (a great Greek restaurant--I am craving their food right now). People have been wondering if I wanted to buy a condo/house, and I have been against it. But, walking into that condo changed everything. I actually wanted to buy. Since I don't have a job yet, there is no way I can. Besides, I realize the smart house-buying thing to do is put down 20%. Anyway, I guess I am glad that the perfect place actually exists.

3. I went to Sam Weller's in Salt Lake. What an amazing store. I am ashamed I haven't been there before. Go. You won't regret it.

4. Yesterday, Emily told me about an experience with Grace this past week. She was talking on her fake cell phone. When Emily asked who it was, she said she was talking to Nana Cook. Ethan told her she couldn't be talking to her. She said, "I can on my phone."

5. A student of mine sent me an email asking if I do lunch groups with students or if I would go to lunch with him (although he prefaced it by saying he wasn't asking me out). He wants to hear about how I feel about things other than 316 Technical Writing. I am not sure how to even begin responding to that one.

6. How can I best water my grass? Yes, I am always trying to figure out how to cover it all, even those hard-to-reach places.

7. I watched Penelope the other night with Natalie. I love that movie. How often do we not trust/like ourselves and that changes everything?

8. What else do I need to get ready for Mary-Kathryn's bridal shower tomorrow? I know I am forgetting something.

9. I need to buy muslin for the bookmaking projects Jenny is helping me with. We are taking old books, removing the text blocks and replacing them with new blank paper. We will rebind it for a usable book. I also need to call Becky about finishing our sewing project: bags.

10. One week from today I will be in Yellowstone with my family. We are leaving Thursday for the Park and then making our way into camp by Saturday. I can survive one more week in order to be there--a place where everything somehow slides clearly into perspective and where I can greet my true self along the edge of the lake.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bulgaria 2008

My friend sent me this article about Bulgaria. It offers a very compelling and realistic view of the country. If any of you ever wondered what Bulgaria was like, here you go. Oh, and if you decide to visit Bulgaria (since it is very affordable) I will gladly go as your tour guide and translator.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Eli Stone

I don't often write about TV shows, because I don't really watch any shows (because I don't have a TV). But, I have discovered a show I really enjoy ( I watch it online). Anyway, it is called Eli Stone. I know that many of you will say I only watch it because Jonny Lee Miller plays Eli ( I originally enjoyed him in Mansfield Park). Well, yes, that was my initial draw, but it really is an entertaining and fun show. He plays a lawyer who starts having visions (supposedly due to a brain aneurysm) that help him help other people. It also has an unapologetic moralistic/religious theme running through it. I now have to watch them as they re-air them, since I didn't discover this until recently. It is good television. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Best Nachos Ever

I love nachos. I love the really cheap, almost-plasiticy kind you get at ballparks, but I also love really good, hearty nachos. Joanie introduced me to Cafe Rio nachos this afternoon. They really are wonderful. They aren't on the menu, so you have to ask for them, but it is worth it. We had pulled pork and all the fixins. Go tonight--you won't be sorry. Note: These pictures are not of Cafe Rio nachos, but it will get your mouth watering.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Space Elevator

Have you ever heard of this? One of my students in writing a paper on it. It is very intriguing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fourth of July

Well, how can you not be happy about the Fourth of July? I certainly enjoy the day for all the festivities. This year turned out to be a lot of fun, although it was a little different than years past.

Friday morning: Joanie and I walked Center Street, while watching the parade as we went. I was impressed with the large balloons and the unceasing royalty floats. We walked our way to the Freedom Festival that housed booths, food, music, and good times. We ran into Thomas, Erin, and Rachel, which was fun. I bought some stained glass pendants, but we mostly just looked around. We did try deep-fired Oreos. Now, before you cringe you should know that they were actually very tasty. They also had deep-fried Twinkies, but we decided that we couldn't splurge that much. We also bought cotton candy and snow cones, just to round out the entire experience.

Friday Afternoon: Natalie came to Provo and we went up to Sundance with Jeri and her family. They have a family cabin up there and we went to celebrate together. We hiked to Stewart Falls from the bottom, which was a first for me.
It was beautiful. It was great fun to walk with Molly, age 5. She and her sister really enjoyed the falls. We talked about all kinds of things and discovered small green, hanging caterpillars.

Friday Evening: We had a BBQ and enjoyed the amazing cabin. It is a swanky old cabin that was built to have parties. Evidently, Robert Redford has attended a party in the cabin. What really gave it away was the fact that three of the drawers in the kitchen have built-in glass storage rings. Yeah, you know they do a good deal of hosting when each glass has its own space.
Nat, Jeri and I spent the night there and lounged the next day. It was great. We talked, ate, played great card games (Five Crowns, Linkity, and another I forgot the name of) and also managed to watch a little Persuasion. It was a very chill and relaxing July 4th. It was wonderful. (The pics are a little blurry, but you get the general idea.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

For Scott

Some people would say that I have experienced a lot of loss over the past eight months. And, in light of the events of yesterday, I would say that yes, I have experienced severe loss. But, in thinking about it, I would say I have learned more about love than loss. When you lose something that means so much to you, perhaps you begin to realize your full capacity to love.

I received word last night that a dear friend, Scott Ross, died in a car accident in Provo Canyon yesterday morning. This is one of my favorite pictures of him. We met in grad school here at BYU. He was the guy always dressed well and carrying his leather satchel everywhere. We really became close our second year because our offices were next door to each other. We often grabbed lunch or just sat and talked about our lives. He always told me about the women in his life, and he always listened as I talked about all the boys in mine. We had the kind of friendship that could always pick up where it left off. He was in Glasgow this past year, embarking on the fullness of his creative writing career. His dream had been to study there and to really dedicate time to his writing. He was on the cusp of fullness. He came to Provo to fulfill a class for his degree here and to be close to his girlfriend. It appeared he was finally seeing a fulfillment of so many of his long-term goals.

A couple of weeks ago we had the chance to catch up from the past year. He sat in my office, as he had so many times, and we talked about everything. He told me about the peace he was feeling toward his life. He felt assured that he was doing what God would have him do and he felt such happiness with life and circumstances. As we discussed my life and happenings, he told me to trust my heart, no matter what. He was so quick to believe in me and all my abilities, always encouraging me to follow what I was feeling. I will be sure to be so kind to others when they share their souls with me. Follow the Spirit and trust your heart--even when it doesn't make any sense outside your soul.

Scott called me Tuesday to go get lunch sometime. I can still hear his voice.

He is one of the kindest people I know. He was always looking out for others and taking the time to listen to what others had to say. He was comfortable with who he had become and all the experiences that had shaped him into such a great man. He taught me about genuinely caring for other people and letting them know how you care.

I could go on and on about him because he was the type of person who lived a life worthy of praise and admiration. Even with his death, he is teaching me about how to live a full, deliberate life. Scott would probably be happy I am writing about him. He was always writing.

One of his favorite and most influential authors is James Joyce. He particularly enjoyed The Dubliners and "The Dead." The main character in"The Dead" is Gabriel Conroy. A conflicted man who is well intentioned but rather paralyzed within his intellect and apparent lack of passion. I am glad to know that although Scott loved this story, he was the opposite of Gabriel. Scott was determined and aware of who he was. He lived his life with passion and hope. He was fully optimistic about his future and he sought to be a good person. I believe he attained that. He lived a beautiful life and always managed to make life pleasant for those around him.

So, in losing again, I understand more of love. I can live life with more purpose and cherish even the seemingly inconsequential moments because they combine to make the larger picture. And, you never know when there will be loss, so you must love and appreciate while you can.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The First Day of School

If your first day of school was anything like my first day of school growing up, then you might have pictures that look like these.
This is me. I think I look quite ready for 1st grade. I love the outfit Emily has on as she is walking out of the picture, by the way.

Here is my first day of 2nd grade.
I was thinking about these photos as I was getting ready for my first day back to class yesterday. Although I am the instructor, and I have done it many times, I still get nervous for the first day. I plan out my outfit more than I usually do, I give myself plenty of time to get to class, and I go over everything multiple times. Once I am at school I try to calm myself before walking into the class and having the students wonder if I am the teacher or an impostor.

And yet there is something invigorating about standing up in front of a new group of students and introducing a course. Since I have had a bit of a break from teaching the past month, I ended up losing my voice by the end of the first day because I am not used to talking so much. But, it somehow is part of the thrill.

The first day for the instructor is so different. As a student, you are wondering if you will know anyone in the class or if you will make friends. As the instructor, I am always trying to come off professional and a bit demanding. I want them to take me seriously but to enjoy the course. I still sense a bit of "faking it" as I stand there, but it is amazing how quickly I slip back into the role I have to love.

I guess I was also a little sad yesterday because it will be my last "first day" for a while. I won't be teaching this fall semester. Still don't know what I will be doing, but I know I won't be "faking it" in front of students.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I find books very comforting. I realized that today as I walked into the Harold B. Library at BYU. I was in search of Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I've wanted to read it for a while, and I finally decided to find it.

Searching for a book is part of the pleasure in a library. I love walking the long aisles and counting the numbers as I approach the right stack. Sometimes it takes me longer than it should, but the process is always pleasant. On my way to Bel Canto, I meandered down an aisle of beautiful, old books. I couldn't read any of the titles because they were in a different language, but it didn't matter. Just looking at the bindings is an experience. Of course, the distraction of finding many other books en route is part of why I enjoy libraries. Today, I passed My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok--another book on my to-read list. So, I picked it up as well.

On one aisle there were books that enclosed the letters of Katherine Mansfield. I couldn't help but wonder who she was and to whom she wrote letters. Why are they significant enough to put in a book?

The BYU library also holds countless memories of my four years in Provo. As I walk along, my mind saunters through study groups, long hours working on my thesis, conversations, boys, friends, stress, and so many other moments that hang about the stacks like the books. Sometimes, my memories provide as much entertainment as the books I find because I marvel at how so many things feel so important at the moment and then somehow fade into amusement as they are stretched against time.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Anything is possible with duct tape

I found this as I was checking the news today. There is evidently a scholarship competition for a couple who can make the best duct tape outfits for prom. Here is the link. There is a couple from Utah, which is how I heard about it. The picture here is of them.

You really need to check these out--they are amazing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Prince Caspian

I can't say enough about this movie. It is brilliant. Joanie, Mary-Kathryn, and I went to the late movie last night, which we never do. But, I am so glad we did. The cinematography was stunning, the characters believable and well developed, and the pace kept me awake at 11 p.m. More than anything, I believe they captured the power of the imagery and Christian doctrine. I was impressed with the writing and the strength of the message.

Please go see this in the theater if you haven't yet. It is well worth the full-price ticket--or go see a matinée.

I am ashamed to admit that I haven't read all the books, but I am going to. When I was a freshman in college and a history major, I had to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for a children's lit class I was taking. It was during that read that my desire to switch to be an English major reached its climax. I walked to the administration building and changed before I finished reading the book. And, I am amazed at the path my life has taken since then.

I am grateful for the beauty and power in literature--and movies, when adapted well.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Smattering of Catch-up

Do you ever talk to yourself? I find that when I seem to be talking to myself, I am actually writing to myself. I frequently think about life in terms of how I would write about it. Now that I also blog, in addition to writing in my books, I also think in terms of how I would blog about something. I am not sure if the desire is really fulfilled in the writing or in the hoping that it will be read. So, sometimes I think, How should I put this so that people would like to read it? I don't think I always succeed, but I hope that you can appreciate my attempt to make thoughts tangible.

5 stents and a bowl of oatmeal

I can honestly say I am deeply grateful for the miracle of modern medicine. My father had 5 stents put in his heart last Wednesday morning through a catheter and was able to go home the next day. It truly is amazing. He was awake during the procedure and was in his room after a few hours. He is back at work today.

Last weekend, my mother and I went shopping for some food that will better fit his newly acquired diet. I have never been so aware of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium in my life. Such an experience makes me even more dedicated to good health and nutritious eating. I am not sure if heart disease is as genetic as Diabetes, but I am not taking any chances. I have too much of both in my family to ever play with my health.

I learned that a good place to start for cholesterol could be as easy as a bowl of oatmeal every day. I am not quite there on the every day bit, but now my dad is. Thank you all for your support through yet another hospital visit.

BYU vs. Miami in 1990

I love watching college football, especially when I know who wins. I am so glad that BYU TV replays the classic games. Last week, I caught the 1990 Ty Detmer win against Miami. I was 10 years old when the game was played, and I probably appreciated it more last week. Although I remember it being played--seeing how it was such an upset and all. Miami was ranked #1 from the previous season and they got beat in their first game. It was beautiful--even 18 years later.

Even though I knew who would win, I still got nervous about how it would play out. I also love that it is just continuous play--it makes it go so much faster. I believe this is the real way to watch sports. Go Cougars!

Antiques Roadshow

I love this show. Where else can you see a guy come in with plate given to him by a neighbor that ends up being a Romanov plate worth $65,000? Or you happen to discover that you have a Ming dynasty bowl?

I can watch this for hours on end, and I never get bored. I always wonder two things: if I have anything of any value and what I could buy now that could be worth something in a few decades or centuries?

As you can tell, I am such a public television fan. I will watch almost any documentary, and last week I watched an interested show about a restaurant in California that cooks with local produce. They took us to the various farms and stores. It was very interesting and made me so glad that farmer's markets are in full swing again. They are everywhere. Check out your local market--you won't be disappointed.

Jane Eyre

A week or so ago, I rented the first version of Jane Eyre that I ever saw. It had Timothy Dalton in it--is this ringing a bell for anyone? Well, after viewing the newer version last fall, I believe this 1983 version a bit disappointing--imagine that. So, I watched the newest version again. It is stunning. The characterizations are so much more believable and you actually look at them as people with passions and a depth of feeling.

If you haven't seen the new Masterpiece Theatre version, please watch it soon. Jane resonated with me so much more than the earlier versions. She was much more human and easy to connect with. I tend to skip some of her early life (just like I did when I first read it in 10th grade) but once she is at Thornfield, I am fully engrossed. I don't even skip ahead when she is with her cousins. It has a bit of the Bronte darkness about it (which is part of the beauty of it) but not enough to pull you away from the real story of discovery, trust, and love that remains at the core.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I think I have said this before, but right after my Nana passed away a friend told me, "At least your life can get back to normal." I laughed at the thought of normalcy in my life. I don't know what that is anymore. If anything, my normal is that nothing in my life is normal. Today is no exception. About 2 a.m. this morning, my brother took my father to the ER because he was having severe chest pains that led into his arm. After a day of tests and a hospital relocation , it has been determined that his heart isn't pumping at full capacity. It is at a 45 when normal is 80-90. They will do a catheter tomorrow that will check out the damage in his heart to determine if a stint is needed.


It is a waiting game right now. But, we feel optimistic. For never having been in the hospital for any real amount of time, I am getting fairly accustomed to these places. We are in the new IHC hospital in Murray. I must say, it is a really nice hospital.

It is strange to see my father in a hospital gown and in a hospital bed. For those who don't know him, he is a really tough ex-green beret who never likes to show pain. So, even the fact that he opted to go to the ER made us a little nervous. But, he is a fighter.

But, we are all in good spirits. Keep us in your prayers. I will keep you updated.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Taking the Bus

I first rode public transport when I was just a little girl. My Nana would take me into Ogden city for the day and we would go to the temple and then over to the mall for pizza and rootbeer. Today, I decided to take public transport all the way from Provo to Centerville. I am currently on the last leg of my journey on FrontRunner. I am enjoying the WiFi and I couldn't resist taking the time to blog while I wait for the train to leave. There are a lot of people on the train today, unlike the previous times I have taken it. As people filed off the train, I heard so many people excited about riding a train for the first time and amazed at the wonderful world of public transport.

I can't help but think back to Bulgaria, where I truly relied on public transport in full for the first time in my life. My first train ride was out to a small village, Vladitrichcoff. I had been in the bustling, concrete capitol of Sofia for weeks without being able to see beyond the endless rows of apartment blocks. The train was old and rusty. Everything about the trip seemed to transform me back 20-30 years. The village was rustic and everything a small village in rural Bulgaria should be. I loved the feel of the train as it rolled along. I began to sense that the rumbling would never leave me. That trip to the country and to a small stream along a dirt rode comforted me and took me back to my core.

And now, here I am in Salt Lake City, riding a train of a very different and very modern variety. I can use my laptop and be home in about 15 minutes.

Today, my journey began on a bus from Provo and then I transferred to Trax. I met a small boy named Nathaniel on the trip. He was so eager and full of wonder at the whole experience. He kept pointing out everything he saw to me with amazement. I was quickly reminded of how much the world holds to those who appreciate what they see.

Although the trip has taking me at least twice as long as it would to drive, I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting new people and taking some time to enjoy the day.

Life is full of stories. I am reminded of that when I can see so many different people. Each has a story, but I really believe that the essence is the same. We live to find joy and happiness. The means and end of such happiness varies for different people, but the journey is somehow very similar. I am reminded of my own humanity, my part in the larger play of life. And, it makes me want to play my role as best I can, all the while enjoying my part.

Friday, May 30, 2008


It is that time of year again. EFY has drenched BYU campus. All I can say is that every time I walk around and see them lounging outside, I am so glad I am not that awkward girl who went to EFY when she was 15.

Oh, and although I am often a little cynical about EFY, I am really glad that Traci will be teaching them for a couple of weeks this year. I believe she will help them over their awkwardness. Congrats Traci for going for a dream of yours.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good News

Have I blogged about how much I adore the new commuter rail? Well, I do. I have taken it into Salt Lake a number of times, and I love it. I heard that my student UTA pass works for it, but I wasn't sure, so I called today. And yes, it does. That makes it an even sweeter ride!

I have had a few people tell me, "Well, it just isn't as convenient to take public transport, and it takes longer." My response, "You are correct, but that isn't why people take public transport." I love it because I don't have to drive. I can read or just relax. I don't have to buy gas. I get to people watch like crazy. And, I get to be with out people, which builds a bit more social capital.

Anyway. If you haven't had a chance to check out commuter rail--do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I know I haven't been the most devoted blogger as of late, but I promise to catch you all up on some of what I have been doing lately--at least the interesting stuff.

I will start by recommending a movie: Bella. Natalie saw this first, and then we watched it together with Jeri. It is a brilliant and poignant movie. I can't really tell you a lot about the plot because the movie is made to have it unravel for you. But, it is about two broken people who help each other heal and learn how to live again. It is a drama, but it keeps a good pace. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and it has that great non-Hollywoodized feel to it. It is currently at Redbox, so please check it out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day and Monterey

I am planning a nice post about my mom, but I am in California without my laptop and pictures, so that will have to wait. Happy Mother's Day to all my female friends. Even those of you without children. I am so grateful for all the women who teach me so much about nurturing. I have always wanted to be like my mother: strong, beautiful, intelligent, determined, compassionate, and good natured. I don't think I can underestimate the impact of powerful women in my life. Thank you.

I am in Monterey for the week on business. No, not BYU business. I think I have mentioned that I am a technical editor for a branch of the Department of Defense. I am employeed through General Dynamics, which is subcontracted out through the Naval Postgraduate School. In short, I read MBA thesis and faculty papers. I have learned so much about the Navy and I now have a whole string of acronyms running through my head: GWOT, DoD, IA, and so on and so on.

But, I am in Monterey to help with a Symposium. I came down with two of my good friends Jeri and Tammy. We have been vacationing a bit since Friday, but we will actually be working come tomorrow morning.

A full report with pictures will soon follow.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Wet Cement

I love the smells of spring and summer. As I walked across campus today, I was caught away by the smell of wet cement. I love that smell (as long as the cement is relatively clean cement, of course). It reminds me of summer sprinklers on hot days.

It is that time of year again: cold watermelon, bbq's, short sleeves and summer reading. I love it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Up for a New Game?

I played this great new game last weekend. As you can tell, it is called Bohnanza. You can be nice to the other people playing the game and still win! I love that.

Check it out. Also, if you are in the Salt Lake area, you can rent it at the link above. Or, you can go and play games there. They will teach you how to play them as well. It is a lot of fun.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I haven't blogged in a while. I guess I have been catching my life up after the events of April. I finished grading today, and all my grades are posted, which means that my summer has officially begun! I am not teaching spring term, but I will be back at it by the end of June.

I am starting my fourth and last summer in Provo today. I can hardly believe it has been four years for me here, especially since there was a point in my life when I never wanted to live in Provo at all. But, it has been good to me. I finish teaching at BYU in August and then I am off to some kind of newness. I really don't know what, but I will let you know when I do. I am taking May off from all major decision-making in my life. I don't even want to think about it until June.

After the funeral, a friend of mine said, "Well, maybe your life can get back to normal." I decided that I no longer know what that is.

Here are some highlights from the past month, not in any particular order.

1. Phone died.

2. Car died the next day. Actually, this is funny. My car starts smoking like crazy. We pull over and lift the hood--green antifreeze is everywhere. Any guesses? The hose from the radiator to the engine broke. It was a minor fix, but I still needed a tow. Amelia and I just laughed. This was two days after the funeral. Luckily it didn't happen on my way home from Provo earlier that day.

3. Since I don't really like driving, and as you can tell, I have a car that tends to have problems, I take the bus every chance I can get. I love it. It is fun to people watch. I have even concocted a story about a couple I see frequently. I first saw them last fall and I have watched as they have apparently become engaged. I like to think of them as Brad and Christy. The thing is, I see them everywhere--not just on the bus. I would introduce myself, but then it would take all the fun out of making them into personalities.

Oh, I am stoked that FrontRunner is running. I can't wait to take it home from Salt Lake. My mom and I are going to head into the city next week for an afternoon together. She hasn't been on a train, so it should be a real adventure.

4. I have seen Penelope twice. I love it. For those of you who didn't like my last movie pic, this one will probably be better for you. This is a fun, romantic movie. And yes, it helps that the lead man is James McAvoy. The entire cast is great though. Mr. Bingley from the new Pride and Prejudice also has a role. He proves he is really good at playing a buffoon. My sisters, mom, Cora, and Joanie went on a girls' night out last Friday. It was great to be together. It was Cora's first girls' night, and she loved it. She is already planning the next one.

5. Favorite new snack: Cliff bars for kids. They are the right size and they taste great. You can get a box for $10 at Costco.

6. I got my hair cut by someone who actually knows how to cut curly/straight hair. I am trying bangs again. We will see how long that lasts.

7. I am off to Monetery, California in a week or so. I am going for business, but it is mindless business. So, it might actually be a bit of a vacation. I am going with two of my good friends, so who can complain?

8. I bought herbs for my very own herb garden, actually it is more of an herb pot. I have always wanted to have one. I am starting with basil, cilantro, dill, and sage. I also planted flowers at my parents' house. It was amazing to go to J&J in Layton and walk the long stretches of flowers and plants. I think it is very healthy and cathartic to plant beauty. If you are having a bad day, just go to a plant store and walk around.

9. It is the summer of reunions for me.

I had a Chicago reunion. (I was a camp counselor for an inner-city youth program a few years ago, in Chicago).

I have a Rick's roommate reunion coming up the end of May.

High school reunion in July. Go Vikings!! Because Salli is on the planning committee, I am also helping. In reality, I simply purchased the subscription to It was the easiest thing to do.

Camp Loll reunion in August. They are trying to get everyone who has ever worked on camp staff to come. It should be great fun. We are planning to go early and tour Yellowstone. It is funny that the camp reunion is really like a family reunion for the Grovers. We are all going.

10. I am in the dating class in church. It is during Sunday School. No, I didn't volunteer. It is invitation only. This is round 2 for me over my four years in Provo. I understand what they are trying to do, but I am glad I only have one more Sunday in the course.

Hopefully, I will be able to start blogging more regularly. After all, I am on vacation!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I was lying in my bed a couple nights ago and was pleased to see the moonlight streaming into my room and saturating my bed. It reminded me of nights long ago at camp when we would open our tee pee flaps and go to sleep in the moonlight. It was comforting to be wrapped in such softness. I appreciate those moments when you can be still and feel that there is goodness in the world. Even though you experience pain and sorrow, there is always cause to rejoice and feel happiness--and a bit of moonlight can almost always smooth the wrinkles of a worn and restless spirit.

I have felt such goodness and kindness from so many of you. Thank you for the notes, calls, flowers, and for the general support and love. It has meant so much to me and to my family. Although it was hard to say goodbye to my grandmother, I was full of honor for having been privileged to know her and to be within her scope of influence. I am so glad I was able to know her as a woman, not just as a child, because I can see her strength and her dedication much more clearly as I face my own set of challenges and experiences.

It is remarkable how quickly life can change. You become so accustomed to people and places, when really they can be taken from you so quickly. But memories are such beautiful gifts. And, change will always come. I hope to make many more memories that will sustain me somewhere in the future. What we do today might just be the strength to endure some future event. Or, it will be an added measure of moonlight to take us back to joyous moments when the all the world seemed right and true.

The best way to bind yourself to other people is to love them. I can't express how deeply I love my grandma. She loved me my whole life, and she gave everything she was to us. I hope to be such a woman one day. I hope to be loved as she was and to be as worthy of it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lora Florence Cook

Last night my Nana passed on. I haven't figured out how best to say that or to even tell people. It sounds so strange to say "passed away" because what have they passed away to? I guess "passed on" represents better where she is. She has passed on to the next glory.

I don't think she could have chosen a better time to leave. It was a beautiful, warm Sunday and we had just had a family prayer a few hours before. But, even though I have been preparing for this over the course of three weeks, you never know how you will respond when the moment arrives. Of course I was sad to lose her, but I was also so glad that she was no longer in pain. She hasn't been responsive for days, so it was a relief that she could finally be free of her body.

I have never been so near death before. As a child, I didn't like the idea of a dead body, but somehow last night I moved beyond that. She is my Nana, and I was honored that I could be with her in her final moments. It was a type of beauty I have never experienced before. And, to really think about where she now is brought me so much peace and relief.

It is strange that you can want death for someone. You spend your life trying to evade it, but at some point, death seems to be the best thing. And, you can feel that it is the next adventure for that person. I've learned so much about the body and about the power of a person's spirit.

She was a remarkable woman who taught me so much about myself and the world around me. She was determined and capable. I hope to render as much love and service in my life as she did in hers.

Thank you all for your support and love. I am so glad that many of you knew and loved her.

Her funeral will be Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Centerville North Stake Center, 1461 North Main Street. The viewing will precede the funeral at the same location from 9:30-10:45 a.m. If you would like to, you are more than welcome to come and celebrate her life and her faith.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Breanne in Real Life

Two weeks ago today, my Nana fell and broke her hip. We got the call around 6 p.m. and by 8 p.m. that evening my world had spun off its somewhat stable center.

She was getting up from her rocker to move to the couch, and she collapsed or stumbled--we aren't really sure. Because of her dementia, she couldn't even remember why she had been taken to the hospital.

Amelia and I went directly to LDS hospital and ended up staying up with my family for the next few days. I canceled classes and wore the same thing for 3 days, but it didn't seem to matter. When something like this happens, you really don't care about the things that often seem to cloud your life.

You know those scenes on TV shows when the doctor comes in and says something like "You have two options ..." Yeah, that was me and suddenly the reality of such options struck me with full force. At first, they were optimistic that a hip replacement would be successful and she would be up in a few days. Then, her regular doctor explained the severity of her heart condition and suddenly we had to choose between high-risk surgery or the reality of a few more weeks with home care.

We decided to bring her home and care and make her as comfortable as possible with the time she had left. You spend your whole life trying to evade or prevent death by pills, surgery, and hospital stays but at some strange point death becomes the only option. Your whole way of thinking changes as you have to allow someone to die. The Hospice workers have been wonderful about explaining the natural process of the body as it approaches death. And even though I understand that she will be with us for only a few more days, I still somehow hope that when I go and see her that she will have rebounded. But, she doesn't. She sleeps more and more. She is still a fighter though and her humor still makes us laugh.

My whole life I have believed in heaven. I have always known that our spirits live on, but as I have sat by her side and held her hand, I've never needed to believe it so much. Religious skeptics might say that we create the concept of heaven to console ourselves. But, I believe that because I can feel the love of Heavenly Father, I know that he would make it possible to be with the people I love again.

One of the most comforting parts of the past two weeks have been the memories of moments I shared with my Nana. I like to tell her all the stories I remember. They feel so real to me now. I hold them close in anticipation of when they will be what I have to remember her by and what I will share with my own children one day. I guess it will be something like, "Did I ever tell you about the time that Nana and I .... ?"

Thank you to all the people who have expressed love and help.

Monday, March 24, 2008


I heard some new music today: Joshua Radin. Check him out. I really enjoy his music.

My friend Kim linked this site to her blog, and I love it:
I saw these on you tube, but you should check it out.

I am 10th of 26 in my office NCAA bracket contest! I was surprised since I arbitrarily chose all the teams. I actually chose all the but one of the teams in the East.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Talk for Easter

Elder Scott spoke at the devotional this past week. He gave a wonderful talk on the Atonement and the love of Jesus Christ. I think it is fitting to share it with you all this Easter weekend. I hope you have a peaceful and happy celebration.

Going to the Park

I am a park person. I go year-round and I go often. Recently, I discovered a new park close to my house and I have frequented it of late. I love going to soak in the springtime freshness and just get away. I also love watching people. Wednesday, two boys rode by me and stopped to ask if I had seen two girls. About 20 minutes later, I saw the girls chasing the boys across the park--I love 12-year-old flirtations.

One of the things I loved about being Europe this past summer was visiting parks. Natalie and I would often go and enjoy the parks in all the cities we visited. Today, I am going to post some pictures from Park Guell in Barcelona, designed by Antoni Gaudi. Barcelona has so much amazing architecture designed by Gaudi. I will save Sagrada Familia for its own post. But, if I could go to any park in the world today, I would love to revisit this park. It is truly stunning. Enjoy the pictures.

This is on the outside wall of the park. The park is huge and is on a hill that overlooks Barcelona.

Here is one view of the city--truly enchanting .

Here is the main overlook area, and a close up of the tiling.

The work is so intricate and so diverse throughout the park, and it is all beautiful. I particularly enjoy how Gaudi worked nature into all he did. His architecture and art is organic--imbued with undercurrents of natural objects and motions. In the next photo, you can see how this section of the park resembles a wave as it approaches the shore.

Here are some other shots of the park.

It was all very easy and natural. The designs and structures seem to grow out of the hillside, to be part of it.

This last photo was of a man we saw a few times, and we called him our Spanish Walt Whitman. We tried to get a better picture, but couldn't. It is a little awkward to try and casually take a picture of someone, but I love his ensemble.