Thursday, July 2, 2015

Those summer nights

The scorching summer I feared has arrived. Utah's drought-bred plants fight feebly against the unrelenting sunlight. The bad air dulls the green foliage May's rain gifted us with. Every day I consider wearing shorts to work. Two nights this week my AC stopped working.

And July is just getting started. It all makes me want to cry.

But I'm determined to not allow the Sun-Dementor to suck out my happiness. I can enjoy summer, as long as I keep happy thoughts prepared.

And most of those happy thoughts come from summer nights. Oh, those summer nights—home to some of my favorite things.

To begin with, there's a positive to not being able to sleep: extra reading time. When it was too hot to sleep, I took solace in the fact that I could make some serious headway on the stack of library books I picked up last week.

I recommend reading a book set in Alaska. It's like taking a cold shower, only you don't have to get wet. [Update: my apartment managers finally took my complaints about my AC seriously—only took them three years, geez—and fixed the AC for reals and replaced the thermostat with one I can actually read. Last night I was so excited I put a blanket back on my bed.]

But there's so much more to summer nights than sleep attempts. Like evening walks. I have to keep postponing them later and later to avoid yucky temperatures (I'd have to wait until 2:00 a.m. if I wanted truly pleasant weather), but the wait is worth it.

Because there's so much to look at and enjoy.

And the setting sun revives more than just my energy.

Speaking of the setting sun, it does really cool things to clouds when it goes down for the night.

Can you tell the difference between the air quality in Elk Ridge . . .

. . . and the Salt Lake Valley?

Yeah, there's another reason not to live in the city.

You don't have to be on your own two legs to enjoy a summer evening, though. Driving with all four windows down is another delightful way to enjoy them, even if you're spitting hair out of your mouth half the time. The crazy hair contributes to the fun, I promise. (Don't worry—I didn't take these pictures.)

And of course, there's also star-gazing, softball games, and summer rain.

Just don't make me go outside during the day.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's me, the content-aholic

Today I realized that I could easily consume enough worth-my-time content to fill a 40-hour work week. I have my blogs and email subscriptions. I subscribe to more podcasts than I have time to listen to. I follow several news sites. My magazines are taking over my kitchen table. And don't forget, I read books (just finished book #38 of the year last night).

And the crazy thing is, I'm always on the lookout for more stuff to read. I think I might have A Condition.

I like to tell myself that it's an addiction to learning and knowledge, not a chronic problem that will eventually be attributed to the millennial generation. It stems from the same impulse that sent me to grad school—I want to know all the things. (Although I can do without the math and science things.) A story about beekeeping? Gimme. A biographical sketch of Audrey Hepburn? I want. Musings on language? Can't get enough of it. 7 Tips to Better Sleep that's obviously clickbait? Fine, I'll click on it and read it when I'm bored.

This barrage of delightful information might be one of the reasons I'm so worn out on Fridays, and want nothing more than to watch mindless television for seven hours, followed up by lots and lots of sleep.

I've considered cutting down on my content consumption, but I can't do it in good conscience. I don't know all the things yet.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Photo challenge: It's all about the baby smiles

Day 10: Smile. This is the first time this little guy smiled for me. I think I'm in love.

Day 11: Books. My Harry Potter books, from favorite to least favorite.

Day 12: Where you sleep. These days even one blanket is too many.

Day 13: Numbers. I never realized house numbers had so much detail.

Day 14: Texture. Trees are so interesting.

Day 15: Sunlight. I don't mind sunlight so much when the sun is going down.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Photo challenge: Feet, mountains, and other colorful things

Taking pictures for the sake of taking pictures has changed the way I see the world. I see beauty in everything: cloud formations, imperfect flower petals, rocks littering the path in front of me. Seeing the world through a photographer's eye can easily take you down the dangerous path of distracted living, but when you find the right balance it's hard to not marvel at everything around you.

Day 5: In your closet. I didn't used to have this many pairs of shoes.

Day 6: Sunset. Thou shalt take all thy walks as the sun sets.

Day 7: Feet. I think we all agree that baby feet are the best. Surprisingly hard to photograph, though.

Day 8: Panorama. The mountains surrounding Elk Ridge are also the best.

Day 9: Food. The only thing better than a lovely dinner is a lovely dessert to round off the evening.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Photo challenge: Part 1

As usually happens when I get a new toy, my excitement for my new camera wore off after a few months. But recently I realized that while I may have the basics down, I never dabbled into the advanced settings of my camera.

So I put together a 30-day photo challenge to help rekindle my interest in the fascinating art of photography. It's been a fun experiment so far.

Day 1: Self-portrait. Photography has given me a new respect for that ball of fire in the sky, even though it's the cause of heat misery and thereby sleep deprivation.

Day 2: Clouds. Thursday was an awesome day for clouds. I wandered around with my camera aimed at the sky for quite a while; my neighbors probably thought I was a freak. It was really hard picking just one to include in this post, but eventually vivid colors won out.

Day 3: Water. I wanted to capture water in motion, so my brilliant plan was to make Shannan throw pitchers of water above her head. I have a feeling she'll be the guinea pig a lot during this challenge.

Day 4: Anything with wheels. This is my neighbors' bike. Judging by the millennia of dust coating the seat, tires, and handlebars, it doesn't get used much.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Coming full circle

The Payson Utah Temple dedication was on Sunday. I've debated whether I should blog about the experience, and almost didn't because social media has been exploding with posts about the Payson Temple for weeks now—I'm kind of ready to stop talking about it.

But I blogged about the groundbreaking ceremony and the open house—I can't just leave out the most important milestone.

So even though a lot of you have already heard hundreds of special Payson Temple stories, here is the next segment of mine.

It started with the Cultural Celebration. I feel bad saying this, but the boys in our stake (aka, the stripling warriors) looked like sleep-deprived zombies who had stayed up too late playing video games. But the rest was pretty exciting. It set the mood for the next day perfectly.

*Pictures pulled from

For the temple dedication, I was once again the lucky recipient of having a former bishop as my dad. We got to sit in one of the huge endowment rooms in the temple during the first dedicatory session. Right before the meeting started, we got a little surprise. We were sitting there quietly when a tall man in white walked by, who looked remarkably like Henry B. Eyring. And the guy behind him looked a lot like Quentin L. Cook . . .

We all sat there a little stunned as these two men we've seen countless times on TV walked to the front of the room and showered us with smiles, waved, and then moved on to the Celestial Room where the meeting would take place. Kind of a heart-stopping experience, but not one I'll soon forget.

The cornerstone ceremony was one I hadn't seen before, probably because I usually elect to go to one of the afternoon sessions so I can sleep in a bit longer. I was a little worried about all those people sealing the cornerstone with that "really nice mud" in their white clothes, but fortunately, none of them had the Carter tendency to spill things on themselves.

Can I just say that Pres. Eyring is adorable? He always seems to have a laughing smile on his face, as if he's so full of joy he can barely contain it.
But the best part was the prayer. Yes, it was long, and not as interesting as the talks. But that's not what I was tuning in for. I was waiting for that moment when the temple went from being a magnificent edifice to being a house of God. When Pres. Eyring started dedicating each part of the temple, there was a palpable change to the feeling in the room. The temple has always had that spirit about it that makes it "our" temple, but in that moment it became so much more. It became our Heavenly Father's temple, too.

Singing "The Spirit of God" was a neat experience, as well. I felt that tie to the early Saints more strongly because the temple was filled with thousands of voices singing praises, just like at the Kirtland Temple (only on a much larger scale).

And now, the Payson Utah Temple is the 146th operating temple. The special experiences have only just begun.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Super conscientious

A few weeks ago for work, my department filled out these leadership DISC profiles. (D = Dominant, I = Influencing, S = Steady, C = Conscientious) The point of this exercise was to figure out each other's leadership styles so we'll communicate better. We are the communications department, after all.

My highest category was Conscientiousness. I like order, structure, and precision. These are qualities editors need to have, otherwise they'd be best off in another career.

What surprised me, though, was that my Conscientiousness (goodness, I hate spelling that word) score was exactly the same at home—84%—as it was at work. All of my coworkers had different scores for home and work, but my two scores for all four categories were almost identical, indicating that I only know how to be one type of person.

Still, I wasn't convinced that I was super conscientious at home. Until Shannan moved in, and I saw myself in an entirely new light. A normal person wouldn't be irked by the tiniest of disruptions to her routine, but I've noticed more and more over the past few days just how ordered I like to be.

For example:

  • I use exactly four ice cubes in my water bottle at night. No exceptions.
  • When I load the dishwasher, cups always go on the left.
  • It is crucial that the blankets on my bed line up evenly, and that there are no obvious wrinkles.
  • I trust no one to manage the temperature level of my apartment—I must do it.
  • My books, movies, and clothes are all organized by style. Disruptions cause mild stress.
  • The blinds must be twisted the right direction.
  • I've listened to every song in my iTunes library, and every song is carefully considered for which playlists it will contribute to. And every song must be listened to to the end, otherwise iTunes won't add it to its play count and that would wreak havoc on my world. 
  • My hair is the bane of my existence because it is too unruly to easily control.

It's no wonder I was so upset whenever Kimberly wouldn't let me play the Order Game with her.

But lest you think I'm unreasonably rigid in all things, I'll have you know that my shoes are tossed in a heap in my closet, my car is usually a bit cluttered, and I like to make up new rules for Monopoly. There is hope for me yet.