Newness for a New Year

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.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rain Reflections

As I was walking to my office this morning, I couldn't stop looking down at the sidewalk and seeing the tall trees reflected in concrete. I love that water can turn an otherwise opaque mass into a reflecting pool. I have a red umbrella I love to use because I can see the red on the ground beneath me. I think it is amazing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Backpacking in 2006

I was burning a CD of pictures for a friend of mine, and I decided that I want to start sharing some photos from events that occurred before I started blogging because I think they are cool and potentially interesting. I hope you enjoy these.

This was a backpacking trip we took August 2006. We stopped at Camp Loll on our way, of course. I love this picture because this is what we do when we first go to camp--we go and visit the landing and greet the lake. I think everyone greets the lake (and camp) in a different way, but somehow it is important to do so.
This is us at a trail head. We went back into Shoshone Lake. Everyone still looks refreshed and happy at this point.

We also toured Yellowstone a bit, which was great because we hadn't been their with so much of the family for a long time. I also like this because we are all in the picture thanks to Nathan talking to a German-speaking couple and getting them to take a photo for us. Although we always give Nathan a hard time for talking to random people and always managing to find people who speak German, it worked out well for this shot. It was great to revisit so many of the spots we stayed at when we were just kids.
This is at Lewis Lake. Back in the fires of 1988 we stood on this shore and saw the fire intensifying across the lake. We were all a lot younger and Dan had yet to join our family. We are glad David and Dan were able to join us in reliving our memories.

We even stayed in the same room at the motel we used to stay in. I will find that pic and add it soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Being Set Up and Hitting the Town

Being 27 and single, I am often approached by friends and even by friends of friends about being set up. Although I like to joke about it, I am appreciative of all my friends who "just want me to be as happy as they are." However, it seems that my happiness is often confused with the status of my dating life. It reminds me of a situation I heard about a month or so ago: a well-meaning woman asked the mother of my friend if she were dating anyone. "No, but she is happy with where she is." "Well, she can't really be happy, not if she isn't married. I mean, deep down she isn't really happy." While I agree that there is an added and eternal measure of happiness that comes through marriage; I don't believe that marriage is a window to happiness. If you can't find happiness in who you are as a single, then it will be awfully hard to find it just by getting married.

Enough of my dating theory, the point of this post is to report on what I enjoy about getting set up. It isn't the dating part so much as it is listening to what my friends say when they tell me about some guy. The number one characteristic that is offered as to why I should want to date Mr. So and So is that he is smart. I am not sure why this is always the first thing, but I have discovered through my many years of blind dates that being smart doesn't mean you can actually carry on a conversation. I also love seeing what people must think of me by the type of guy they set me up with. It is always such a surprise. Now, I must say that I do believe that set ups can work. I am grateful for friends and friends of friends who have introduced me to some of the most worthwhile people and experiences of my life. But, you can't take blind dating all that seriously and what fun would it be to be single and 27 if I couldn't laugh at myself and the whole process of dating.

Here are some of the recent offers.

1. A doctor (I think that is what she said) but he lives across the United States. She believes in long-distance relationships though. ... I've struggled to make it work with people living in my own city.

2. A guy in a band. He tends to be active and then not-so-active in the Church, but he is a riot. ... I don't even know what to say to that one.

3. A lawyer. He lives his life in black and white, although he has seen enough of the world to understand that there is some grey (or something like that). ... I've never gone out with a lawyer (only want-to-be lawyers) , but what is that greyness all about?

4. A brother of friend. His last girlfriend had been Miss Utah. ... Wow! What kind of pressure does that put on a girl?

Aside from the woes of dating, I am grateful for those evenings when you hit the town (and yes, I do mean downtown Provo) for an enjoyable and relaxing evening. Last Friday, I spent the evening with some girlfriends. We went to all our favorite stores in Downtown and discovered some new favorites. Downtown Provo actually has quite a bit of life, and there will be more in the future since Provo is working on a new master plan for the Downtown area. There is a lot to offer, and I love the architecture of many of the old buildings Downtown, which you can see in this photo.

There is a new vintage store on University called Coal Umbrella. It had a very eclectic assortment of local art, belt buckles, and vintage clothing. It has a nice spread, and it is a cool store. I enjoyed looked at the local art of up-and-coming artists much more than the clothing selection though. It was like walking into my grandma's closet. I couldn't bring myself to buy something that I could snatch for free the next time I visit her. (Not that I don't like a few items from my nana's closet, but there was not much variety in terms of clothing.) But, we ate at the Smokehouse BBQ place on University. They are known for their mashed potatoes, which were extraordinarily delicious. I also tried some pizza, which was also quite tasty and very affordable.

We then went around the corner onto Center and discovered a new gelato shop called Maestro's Gelato Cafe. It has a clean and simple design with cobblestones inside to give you the European feel. The crepes are bit overpriced at $6.50 for a nutella and banana crepe(my favorite). But, the gelato is scrumptious. We sat by the window and watched all the people walk by, and there were actually quite a lot of people patronizing Downtown Provo. So, if you find yourself in Provo in the near future, head over to Center Street and indulge in some wonderful gelato. Among the three of us we tried mint and chocolate, pink grapefruit and creme, and coconut. All of them were delicious, so you can't go wrong.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Beware the Ides of March

I hope that no one experiences any sort or shade of doom today. If you have never read up on the historical (according to Shakespeare) significance of this day, then do. It is quite interesting.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Becoming Jane

Although I had heard various opinions about this movie, I decided to watch it for myself. I have to say that I truly enjoyed it. I recognize that it is not entirely accurate according to what we know of Jane Austen, but I feel it stays true to what I imagine Jane Austen to have been. It is a tragic love story, which is gut wrenching but true to form in terms of capturing the emotional heartbreak and turmoil of such experiences.

I don't always enjoy Anne Hathaway as an actress, but I believe she did a fabulous job in this. I am not familiar with any other work by James McAvoy, but I would like to see what else he has done. He offers a solid performance. In the movie, they worked so well together. I enjoyed feeling their love develop and sensing the intensity of it.

The main portion of the movie takes place as Jane is discovering herself as a woman and as a writer. It then skips to the end of her life when she has become the mature Jane who wrote all the stories we love. The skip to the end is essential in terms of closure and to wrap up the love story from the beginning. But, I believe that so much of who Jane was must have really emerged in all the long, lonely years between her first love and her eventual fame. So often in movies we skip the hard, lonely months or years and get to the reconciliation. If only life were so easy. If we could only fast forward certain periods of gloom in our lives to reach the patches of sunlight ahead. We obviously don't watch movies for that sort of thing, but sometimes I think we forget what happens before the "four months later" part of a movie.

If Jane Austen truly had such a romantic relationship with Tom Lefroy then part of what made her novels tragic is that she wrote of the happiness she never fully realized. Perhaps she was always hoping that he would come back to her--somehow, sometime. Part of the movie plot was that she was to run away with Tom and thus forever slander her name and reputation. If it is true, and if she had, then we would not likely have her novels today. But, if it could have worked for her and Tom, then I would give up the novels and all they offer so she could have felt the incandescent happiness of being with her love.

Freshman and Finding Ourselves

When I tell people that one of the classes I teach is Freshman Composition, they roll their eyes and ask if I enjoy it. Well, I do. It is fun to teach students who are at the beginning of their college career. They are much less assuming, and I love to watch and listen as they figure out what college is all about. Maybe I enjoy it so much because it helps me realize just how far I have come in 10 years.

I was reminded of this fact last night. I went to dinner with some dear friends, Ben and Sara Bolton. I met Sara when we were both freshman at Ricks College. We worked on the student newspaper together and spent way too much of our lives in the Spori Building. The picture below is of the Spori soon after it was constructed, but it was the only picture I could find of the original building. It burned down a year after I left Ricks. We were later roommates at the University of Idaho as well. She and I experienced some rough days together, and was such a dear friend through it all. As we sat, ate, and caught up on all that has happened over the past months, I realized how much my associations from my college years have impacted my life. Since I graduated two years ago from school, I can now say "back in the college days" when referencing that part of my life. It is strange how what I once thought would never end has now become a distinct part of my past.

I told my freshman today about how they really just need to enjoy where they are in their lives. Before too long they will be eating dinner with "college friends" and wondering when exactly they grew up and became something. I also told them that they will not be able to exist on 3 hours of sleep for their entire college career, so they better not get used to it.

Here is to all my friends from my college days. Thanks for being such a support and for continuing to enrich my life. And here is to living a fullness of the moment. It will disappear into the past all too quickly.

Food Incongruity

Many of you may be aware of my rather random relationship with meat and meat products. I don't think it is strange, but then again, they are my habits. One of my friends always told me that I tend to like the "crappy" meats. This means I like hot dogs and bacon. Anyway, this is not a post about meat (I will save that for another day) but about how we have our own incongruities when it comes to everything, and they don't often make sense, but they are ours and so they have some level of meaning.

I realized such an inconsistency in my way of thinking when I was at the store buying peeps. I have come to realize that peeps tend to put people in two categories: either you love them or you hate them. I have rarely met anyone who is indifferent towards peeps.

I love them, especially when they are a little stale. Strange, I know, but true. Anyway, I am getting to the point of this post. I was standing in the aisle looking at the different kinds of peeps. This year they have many different colors, such as green and blue. Well, my first thought was, Those seem so artificial, I better stick with the plain yellow bunnies. In the seconds after that thought, it dawned on me that they are all completely artificial, but somehow I still felt better about buying the original yellow bunnies. I guess the good thing is that I fully admit my frequent lack of logic.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Puddles and Racing Sticks

The hole in the pavement nudged the curb and quickly filled with water on rainy days. It was right in front of our yellowish house when I was younger. I remember mixing all kinds of soups and stews in that shallow concrete pot. It never bored me to create something from rocks and twigs, and now those memories of wet days always bring a smile to my face. I am sure you have similar experiences and places where you let your imagination freely saturate your young days.

I was reminded of such moments as I spent the afternoon with my nephew Hyrum. He is almost 3 years old and exploding with energy and curiosity. We decided to head outside before the weather turned really cold on Saturday. We explored the back of my parents' home and the length of the stream that runs along the back of their property. We stood at the fence on the street and watched the water run out to the west. I immediately wanted to show him how to race sticks in a stream. Even though I am 27 years old, I don't think I will ever tire of racing sticks under a bridge (or road). Hyrum caught on fast. He would break off parts of the stick and put them down the sewer drain, which was much closer to the fast current than the other side of the street. We did it again and again--neither of us ever tiring of tossing the stick and then hurrying to see it float away.

I am grateful for those moments of wonder, when you suddenly remember how great it feels to watch stick races and feel the coolness of March blow against your pink nose. I loved experiencing it with Hyrum, as if it were a new experience for us both.

Rachel Carson wrote a wonderful book called The Sense of Wonder. I highly recommend it. She talks about how we need to keep and nourish our sense of wonder throughout our lives.

She writes,

"What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe and wonder, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence? Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper?

I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant. Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature--the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter."