Thursday, September 29, 2011

New digs!

It is very important to me that you know the exact layout of my Apartment Home, so, please, periodically refer to the floor plan throughout this post. Our place is exactly like the blueprint, not reversed like other more stupid apartment complexes sometimes do. As a result, our Apartment Home was almost exactly like how I'd pictured it in my dreams during the weeks prior to move-in.

[floorplan redacted. I don't need any psychos doing Google image searches to figure out where I live.]

Okay. You have just walked in the front door. Penny greets you with a squeaky toy in her mouth. (Omg I'm about to digress already. That squeaky toy was the best three dollars I ever spent, and I can't believe I only just recently bought her one. She hasn't yet figured out how to make it squeak; she thinks it has something to do with rolling it around with her nose. Every once in a while she steps on it with her foot, perpetuating her misconception. Love that little dog like crazy, but I can't deny that she's a bit of a dummy.)

That giant empty space between the loveseat and the bookshelf is where a table is supposed to go. Don't mind all the bare walls. We're still getting settled.

Standing in the doorway looking right.

Standing in front of the couch. The living room is smaller than I expected, but our stuff fits so no big deal. (I plan on painting that table, btw. We bought it in Canada for 20 bucks and it was supposed to be a natural wood color. Surprise, you bought an eyesore! In their defense, the box DID say the actual product could vary from the picture, I just didn't realize that meant it would be a completely different color. Related: Does anyone have any tips for painting furniture?)

Our patio. Penny's going to love having the option to go out there as soon as the temperature dips below 90.

Kitchen. Someday there will be stools.

My mom gave me those two prints when I graduated high school. These pictures were all level four days ago when I hung them :\

My first PANTRY!!!

Hard to reach that top shelf. Hope Jon's Malt-o-Meal cocoa puffs aren't prone to nosebleeds.

Hallway(ish) area off the kitchen. Closet to the right, spare bathroom to the left.

Laundry room

Doubles for tote and lamp storage

Your bathroom!! There will be towels when you come visit.

Your bedroom! It's still a work in progress.


Our room

The tealight holders were a souvenir from Statia. My mom bought me the three prints in the front in Paris, and the drawing of me was a Christmas gift from my sister Annie.  (She's an art major at BYU and when we stayed at her place on our way down here I asked to see her most recent work. One was a sketch of a woman sweeping, and that's when Annie busted out the suggested literature for her figure drawing class. It's a famous book apparently [in the art world at least], compiled by that guy who photographed a galloping horse for the first time in history, and is chock full of nudes doing all manner of gender-specific activities. Wrestling, running, and lifting weights for men. Carrying pails of water and spanking children for the women. I KID YOU NOT, there was a half-page spread of a woman falling onto a mattress. You should have seen the resulting laughter. MANIACAL.)

Penny's bed

Master closet

Ugh. One thing I don't like about our place. Have you ever seen such silliness? No bar to hang clothes? Instead you have to place things individually and can't slide items over to make more space. And I hang like items together, so heaven forbid if I ever buy five more shirts - I'll have to painstakingly rearrange the entire closet one item at a time. Not to mention the waste of space, having things so spread out.

Master bath

Overall we're really pleased with our new place. Management is awesome and all our small problems have been resolved quickly and amiably.  Our neighbors are friendly, the grounds are nice, and it feels really safe despite being in a busy part of town. Full disclosure: at first we were a little concerned about the location. It was much more commercial than we'd expected, and by that I mean, "Turn left at the Shell station" because we literally share a driveway. But we're set back from the road and it's actually really peaceful. No noise or anything. 

We went to church on Sunday and our new ward seems great - we had tons of people introducing themselves, a far cry from our old Tucson ward which, there is no other way to say it, was awful. 

Two last things. First: our dishwasher was leaking, so maintenance ordered a new one. In the meantime, our dishes started to pile up in the sink. On the second day, I suggested, "I guess we could wash them by hand..." and then we both started laughing hysterically.

Second: Our apartment must have sat empty for a while before we moved in, because the spare toilet was full of black mold. I mentioned it to management, and when the guys came over to look at our dishwasher they also investigated the loo. So the one guy was asking me these questions like, "How often do you use this bathroom?" and, "How long has it been like this?" Finally when he asked me the last time I'd cleaned it, I realized that he didn't know we had just moved in. He thought I was just some tenant that never cleaned her toilet and then complained to management about mold!! And what a guy, he never once asked, "Excuse me, are you an idiot???" or called me revolting. I can't say I would have behaved as well if I'd been on the other end of that misunderstanding.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Time to get caught up on a few pictures from before the journey.


So this was so weird. Jon and I were on our way back to Idaho after a trip to Canada and I just happened to glance up in time to see what I thought was a giant elk. I only saw it for a split second and thought maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, but we pulled over at the next exit and BEHOLD!

Click to enlarge. The thing was massive. And really far away. 

Omg, we've made it to the saga of the abandoned calf.

 On the day of abandonment, looking for a new mama.

Me petting it. 

Long story short, this little guy was deserted by his herd right behind my parents' house and it took three days and four phone calls to the farmer before he decided to intervene. Also, there was a point where the calf gave up on life and laid down for 30 hours, and a point when Jon carried it across a stream to get it closer to its family, and also a point when the calf tried to rejoin the herd and they all stomped on him, and also a couple of points when I cried (some of those events overlap). Saddest thing ever. But he's okay now. Well, he's either okay, or he's veal. One or the other.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bibs are not just for babies and the elderly

I'm not quite ready to post pictures of our new place, because I haven't taken them, nor have I finished unpacking. But! I AM ready to reveal that thing I made! I know the suspense has been killing you all summer, ever since I first announced a couple of months ago that I was actually making a craft of my own volition, not out of duty to conform at a church activity. (What do you mean you hadn't been waiting in hopeful expectation this whole time? You don't even remember me saying that? What's this all about??)

Okay! So I made a bib necklace! I had never even heard of such a thing until a friend of mine did a Stella and Dot Jewelry giveaway on her blog a while ago and I saw the coolest thing I've ever seen:

I didn't win the giveaway, of course, and the necklace was $200 (now down to $99, in case you have that kind of money to spend on a single piece of jewelry you can wear like twice a year). So! I decided I would MAKE it! Or at least something like it. Or something that vaguely resembled it. I didn't really succeed, but still love mine so there.

Obviously it's not as elaborate as the original, but that just means I can wear it more often. And lately I've been obsessed with midnight blue and coral together, hence my variation from the color palette. Stringing and braiding those tiny seed beads was ridiculous, btw.

And in case you're wondering how a person wears such a thing, I'm still figuring that out. Wish me luck.

(Also, don't bother clambering to get to the comments first to ask me to make one for you, because I can't. If I implied that I made this all on my own, sorry. My mom helped, ie did most of the work.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


(Disclaimer: This is a very long, possibly very boring, not at all clever blog post outlining our move from Idaho to Arizona. I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to skip it altogether.)

I live in Phoenix now. This move from beginning to end was the most exhausting of my life for a thousand reasons that I'm not sure I want to revisit. Okay, fine.  First it was the thing with the movers not showing up. Jon booked us with a broker called Budget Van Lines - a great idea in theory that turned into a total nightmare. The basis is that there are thousands of moving trucks across the country doing return trips and it's better for them to pick stuff up along the way for less money instead of just going back empty. We got connected with a truck heading back to Phoenix in our general timeframe, but like I mentioned last week, that truck "broke down" in Butte, Montana the day it was supposed to be picking up our stuff. I use quotation marks because, after reading reviews of the broker online, I have serious doubts about whether the truck was ever within a thousand miles of us. I suspect they were telling us, "Oh it's on its way! It's so close!" for those few days just to keep us from canceling the entire thing, and when our patience was up they invented some story about a break down as a last ditch effort to keep our business. Just a suspicion, but one that's warranted. So at the last minute we ducked out and reserved a do-it-yourself truck instead. That was exactly what Jon was trying to avoid by going through the broker - he was willing to pay more money to have someone else do it; a combination of a bad back and not wanting to drive a moving truck from Idaho to Phoenix. But too bad. When you want to spend all your money on medical school, then you can't afford to pay more money for a moving company. Especially one that would have kept us waiting for a week or more when we were already past our move-in date (and paying rent) at our new apartment complex.

We were told to pick up the truck at 8 Saturday morning, but when we showed up the shop was deserted. After about ten phone calls, I finally got a hold of the guy who was supposed to have been there to meet us. He explained that he was just on his way out the door and would be there in a couple of minutes. Ten minutes later, a man walked out of the front door of a house sharing the same lot as the shop, got in his car, drove for twelve seconds, and parked next to us. That was our guy. It literally would have been faster for him to walk through his backyard than to drive up the lane. I was aghast.

We paid some teenaged boys in my parents' ward to move our things from the crawl space onto the truck. As soon as everything was loaded, we took off on the first leg of our journey to Heber. We deposited our couches at my sister's house before we left for Statia, remember? It was time to reclaim them (sorry Annie). Since they're so heavy, we knew that we'd need more people to help move them so we had her track down the number for the missionaries. In her quest, she spoke to her visiting teacher whose husband and friend volunteered for the task instead. Of course, hours after they were supposed to have been there, one guy knocked on the front door. We managed to load the couches with just him and me and Annie and Steve (Jon was exempted because of his back), but I had an inner struggle over whether or not to be angry at the guy. On the one hand, he DID help us move our stuff. For free. But on the other hand, he was like four hours late, showed up with half as many people as we needed, and we didn't even want him in the first place. We wanted the missionaries, and he offered his services. And we never even got the missionaries' phone number because he and his friend were so certain they'd do it. There was a point near 8:30 when I realized even if we HAD their number, it was too late to call the missionaries if these other guys didn't show. We had no options. I was stressing like crazy. All because he offered to help us and then showed up hours and hours late. You can't offer to help, eliminate all other options, and then not deliver.  I decided I was going to be angry at him.

The next day we drove to Page, Arizona. We'd booked a pet-friendly hotel in advance on Expedia but when we arrived after eight hours of driving, SURPRISE! They don't allow pets! Jon spent over an hour on the phone with customer service and they gave us a $50 voucher for our trouble, since it was completely their error. But the only pet-friendly hotel in Page with availability on such short notice cost more than $50 more than our original booking. Lame! (To be fair, after I tweeted this story, Expedia contacted me, apologized, and asked for trip details to see what they could do. I haven't yet heard back and maybe they'll give us tons of free stuff, but probably not. Update: THEY DIDN'T.)

And I'm not even done yet with the hangups in our trip. Penny knocked my iPhone out of my hand as I was filling up gas in Page the next morning. I texted my mom right before we started the final leg of our trip, but then ten minutes later my phone started vibrating. And wouldn't stop. And the screen was black. And no combination of pressing and holding buttons could get it to snap out of it. I signaled for Jon to pull over to let him know my phone was out of commission, then placed it in the backseat. Two days later, after we'd arrived and moved our things in, the battery finally vibrated itself to death, and it's been working fine ever since (???). The fact that it's now okay and that I was able to text my mom right after it fell makes me think the vibrating thing had less to do with it falling and more to do with it glitching out in a no-service area. So so weird.

About ten minutes outside of Flagstaff, the air conditioning in the Jeep died and as a result I had to create a revised version of the ice bed that nearly froze Penny to death two years ago on the drive up from Tucson. We were about to start the hottest part of the drive and I'd rather have her a little too cold for two hours than suffering heatstroke. My changes, and the fact that it was SO HOT, made it work much better this time. (The AC came back on when we were about an hour from our place and has been working fine ever since HALLELUJAH.)

Jon had contacted our new ward to try and round up some helpers for when we arrived. Thankfully three men showed up (another came later) and we are so so so so grateful for their help. But. My couches - my beautiful beautiful leather couches that I pined for on Statia and absolutely insisted on bringing with us to Arizona when Jon wanted to sell them, got a couple of injuries; the result of a very narrow stairwell with a sharp corner and rough adobe walls. We shrinkwrapped them but clearly not enough. The scuffs really aren't that noticeable and the worst of them is in the back, but I would be lying by omission if I didn't say that I think I literally had a panic attack as we unwrapped them and surveyed the damage. Which is ridiculous because they're just COUCHES, but they're the most beautiful (and the only valuable) things we own, and we don't own much.

More now than before, though, thanks to a trip to IKEA! And a mattress store. And two trips each to Costco and Walmart. We're still getting furniture assembled and everything settled, but pictures soon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I know what you're thinking

You're wondering why I'm posting pictures of fetuses when we're supposed to be in Phoenix. Well I have good news on that front! Our moving truck is broken down in Montana and this morning our Jeep wouldn't start!

Obviously I'm glad it died in my mom's driveway and not somewhere outside of Beaver, Utah. Still, it would be nice if there were some sort of horrific accident today along 1-15 to show that this was divine intervention, and not just Murphy's law having a laugh. Is that too much to ask?

To lighten the mood, here is an old picture of my family looking sullen in rainy, mucky Talkeetna, Alaska:

We took it in front of that sign for irony's sake. It was soooooooooo funny, but I guess you had to be there.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Photo Op

Like I said here and here, and I should have said here, I am not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination, nor did my husband ever buy me a D-SLR which so many people seem to think automatically qualifies them to charge their friends money for photos. HOWEVER; I do love to take pictures, and my point-and-shoot is capable of taking in-focus photos, and I have Photoshop. So. Sometimes I'm given the chance to take pictures, and I do not charge money for them because having A) an interest, B) a camera that is capable of taking in-focus pictures, and C) Photoshop, does not make anyone a professional. Regardless of how many damask backdrops are hanging in their basement.

That being said! My sister-in-law Kelsey asked me to snap some pictures of her family, and I happily obliged.

Scarlett was done there at the end, hence the sippy cup. Better than a screaming baby, right?  Too bad that was the best photo of the day. 

Things I learned from photographing two kids at once:
1) Bring Jon to entertain them. He's an expert.
2) Go to your favorite location first. Kids have a surprisingly low tolerance for the fine art of photography.
3) Bribe with a treat other than gum. I thought we could promise Norah a stick after the photoshoot, but then she fell off a picnic table and started making demands through her tears. 
4) Three year olds are no good at chewing gum discreetly.

(Still, things turned out much better than that time Corinne asked me to take pictures of THEIR family........)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The definition of awesome

Yes. Us employing our horses' tails as moustaches. I have no memory of this, but I really hope it had been my idea.

[left to right: Annie, Corinne, me]

Don't worry, I won't be posting every picture individually. Just the best ones.

Friday, September 09, 2011


This photo just inspired the title of my memoirs.

(Long ago, I posted another picture from this same photoshoot, along with a frank description of 14-year-old me,  here. Ten minutes ago, I scanned my last picture from the archives - my summer project, remember? - so get ready for flashback overload once we've made the move to Phoenix! You can't wait!!)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

September 11

I was in tenth grade and living in Gardnerville, Nevada. Being three hours different from New York, I first heard the news from Jared Whitaker on our daily commute to early-morning LDS seminary. It was one of the only times that we ever talked on that drive, the entire year. As soon as I climbed into his little pickup truck that morning, he told me that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. I began to wonder aloud how a pilot could make a mistake of that magnitude, but Jared interrupted me to say that just a few minutes before he left to pick me up, another plane had hit the other tower. Instantly I understood that this was no accident.  I didn't yet know the term 'terrorism' - it simply wasn't a concept that existed in my realm at that point - but I knew our nation was under attack.

When we arrived at the church fifteen minutes later, I immediately announced the news to my class. The only other person in the room who had heard was my friend Michelle, so we did the best we could to explain to panicking students what little we knew. THEN! --Wait til you HEAR!-- The teacher cut us off to say, VERBATIM, "That's interesting, but I have a class to teach" -- and away she went, completely ignoring one of the biggest tragedies in American history.

[I have to interject here. That woman was awful, there's no other way to say it. She consistently preached false (and usually extremely hurtful) doctrine, the most horrendous example being that time she taught us that mental illness only affects bad people the same week that one of our classmates returned to seminary after a failed suicide attempt. I am not a confrontational person, and I quail under authority, but I know injustice, and she and I had it out a few times during class. A couple of years later I remarked to Christa, "That woman was the reason why I quit seminary", and Christa replied, "And you're the reason why she quit the CHURCH." Then we laughed and laughed.]

When I finally arrived at school, I learned that during the Dark Ages Seminary Class a plane had hit the Pentagon and that 20 minutes later the South Tower of the World Trade Center had collapsed. My dad worked in the Pentagon previous to our move to Nevada, and I thought of that one time he showed me around the building on Bring-Your-Kid-To-Work Day. Later, when I went home from school, I learned that the plane had hit directly next to his old wing and some of his friends had died. (By the way, he was in Fort Polk, Louisana on September 11th and the base was put on lockdown. He was stuck there for over two days and when he finally was allowed to leave, it took him a week to get home in the resulting travel deadlock.)

We watched the news in every class period. I remember students having the option to go home, but I'm pretty sure I stayed for the entire day, which seems sort of odd now in retrospect. I wasn't watching when the second tower fell, either (now, in checking the timeline of events, I realize it collapsed just minutes before my first class of the day began), but the footage was played on repeat throughout the hours, days, and weeks to follow. Someone on the news brought up Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but I'd never heard of either. One classmate speculated on the date, wondering if they chose 9-11, our national code for emergency, on purpose. Another remarked that our grandchildren were going to be required to ask us, "Where were you?" for school projects, just like we had interviewed our grandparents about Pearl Harbor.

I have no distinct memory of following the plight of United 93, but later when it was confirmed that the passengers had crashed the plane on purpose to foil another attack I felt an overwhelming mixture of pride and sadness, and wondered if I would have been brave enough to do the same thing.

And that's it. Funny, I typically have a powerful memory, but I have unusually few remembrances from this date. Maybe because there was a certain numbness, or maybe because I simply didn't understand the scope of the thing at the time, or maybe both.

Your turn. Where were you?

(and if you blog your memories, post the link in the comments. If you want. No pressure.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


The remainder of the pictures from our trip to Canada:

One of my favorite views of the drive up. Little lonesome tree.

Plateau near Great Falls, MT

This is a thing.

Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton National Park

I have NEVER seen the lake so calm. Last time I was there, it looked like the ocean.

Jon skipping rocks.

Us at Cameron Lake. Technically that mountain in the background is in Montana.

Jon looking for fish.

Bear!!!! It was like a mile away, hence the graininess of this photo. Had to use my digital zoom.

Love this photo Jon snapped on our way out of the park.

Odd that I didn't take more pictures of the rest of our visit to Canada, but there you have it.

In conclusion, BEWARE the plastic utensils at the Big Scoop ice cream shop in Waterton!! The sides and bottoms of the "clean spoon" containers were completely coated in layers of gummy ice cream remnants - the result of thousands of misplaced, used taster spoons. Instant convulsions. AND THEN when I told the girl at the cash register, emphasizing the "hundred years' worth of ice cream residue" on the insides of the containers, she clearly didn't get it. Just sort of laughed about how people sometimes put used spoons in there, and didn't seem to think it was gross at all.  Gag gag gaggy gag gag.

PS - LOVE the new Blogger interface! Especially the options for uploading and resizing photos (hint: just click on the picture in the editor and it gives you lots of options).

PSS - We're moving in a week!