Jul 30, 2011


So when I was in Utah someone gave me a gift. A book. And the front of the book says, Strengths Finder. In the back of a book is a special code that you have to use scissors to open. And then you go to a special website and enter your special code and you take this test so that you can find out what your strengths are. The test is timed. You have 177 questions and you have to answer each question within 20 seconds. Although I wonder what really happens if you happen to take 30 seconds...but I am too much of a rule follower to have ever found out. And that sentence pretty much tells you about my strengths :) JK

Seriously, the book declares it is a Wall Street Journal bestseller right on the front cover. I do happen to think the world of the Wall Street Journal so that impressed me. The inside cover talks about how our natural talents often go unused and how we spend more time fixing our shortcomings than developing our strengths. Honestly they had me at the words "secret code you have to enter :)

I was a little nervous about the test. What if I am not sure if I strongly disagree or strongly agree with a statement.....or what if....gasp....I just happen to be neutral? What if they word it in such a way that I have no idea what they are asking? Yeah, you get the idea....more of my adorable strengths hidden in this whole paragraph :) Anyway I just dove in headfirst and started the test. I think the book and test are geared more towards people who actually work. My friend who gave it to me works for Marriott and I think she said they all took the test at work :) But I think I did pretty well at pretending what I would do on the few work questions there were :) Some of the questions did leave me wondering if I would be a good employee? But enough of this let me tell you what I found out about me...since this blog gig is about me :)

Drumroll please.........here are my top five strengths according to this Gallup poll....I always wanted to use the word Gallup and poll together :)

The first one was communication.....duh.....I cracked up when I read this description because there is no doubt this is me.....check this out...." You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write. You feel a need to bring ideas and events to life, to energize them to make them exciting and vivid." It says I like to hunt for the perfect phrase.....who me? And then it took another shot at me and said I am drawn towards dramatic words and powerful word combinations......crazy talk, I tell you :) It gives you all kinds of tips on how to make this strength stronger...don't worry I won't try a single tip the world does not need me to be any better at communicating than I already am...trust me :) But it did offer some tips for those of you that have to deal with communicating freaks like me and these tips made me smile, and smile...get this, it says to "discuss plans for your organizations social events with this person. She is likely to have good ideas both for entertainment and for what should be communicated at the event" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA yes, I am rolling on the floor and then I will get up and plan your event for you :) Another tip it gave you for working with me is to take time to hear about my life and experiences...I will enjoy telling you and apparently you will enjoy listening and guess what the frosting will be? "Our relationship will be closer because of it"....I know....hang on while I stop laughing. How did these people know me so well? It is creepy :)

My second strength was "Includer".......what? Yeah, apparently hanging out with me is good if you like to be included because I apparently can not resist the urge to include you. I want you to feel like part of the group. I am an "instinctively accepting person" WOW! I am not totally sure what to say about this one....my communicating strength is failing me. The book says that if you work with an includer like me you should use me to make sure that everyone is included...yep, that is what includers do :) And if that is not enough apparently I can help you think about potential customers, markets, or opportunities you are not reaching today.....as long as I can pick the hours I work for you and you can validate me over and over and over :) (I added that last part all by myself :) Seriously, this is SO making me smile :) Oh and the last thing you need to use me for is if you are not a natural in social settings you should stick like glue to me and I will make sure you are part of the conversation .....and I will do it with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back :)

My third strength was "restorative?" Hmmmm what is that? Gulp....it is someone who loves to solve problems. I honestly had never ever thought about this but when I read this one I realized they actually are right in a wierd twisted way I do "enjoy the challenge of analyzing symptoms, identifying what is wrong and finding the solution".....it just takes me hours and hours and hours and involves chocolate :) I enjoy bringing things back to life and I adore restoring something to it's true glory. You know I do enjoy doing that for people.....so strange. Okay, but here is the scoop...if you work with someone who is, oh so strong, at "restorative" like I am and this person meets a particuarly thorny problem you have to help them through it because they will define themselves by their ability to cope and they will feel personally defeated if the problem remains unresolved .....sigh....I do .....I am.....that is SO me. How did these people know me? Oh yeah, I answered one hundred and seventy seven questions for them and they have me figured out. Start getting your questions ready and you too could have me figured out :)

My fourth strength was....."input" yeah it looks all innocent just sitting there but this my friends is the part of me you hate. I am inquisitive. Whew....there I said it. And guess what? I, "collect information and my mind finds so many things interesting." All you really need to know about working with me is that I need to be in the know so you are supposed to pass on books, articles and papers you would like me to read :) Yeah......I know :) If you only knew how true this is. Yes, I am giving you permission to send me info-email...I truly adore it :)

My fifth and last strength is going to blow your mind.....get ready.....woo.....did you blink? Did you miss it? WOO.....yes, woo. What does woo mean? Apparently it stands for "winning others over." If this is your strength you enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. If woo is one of your strengths you are, "rarely at a loss for words and you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection." Now you know my secret and I am going to have to dump this strength like a hot potato :)

Despite all my jesting I do find it interesting to mull over their analysis of me and think about my strengths and how I can use them. There truly must be something amazing that comes with knowing what you are good at and learning how to use it......to help the Rebel Alliance and not the Stormtroopers :)

Jul 29, 2011

Pictures From My Utah Trip.

Me and Alyson.
Me and Shannon
Me and Julie
Yes, we were extremely silly at the spot where newlyweds take pictures.
This stained glass in the Union Pacific railroad building was incredible.
Me and the bear in Park City
Shannon bought us all matching rings.
Shannon and I on the hike to the Living Room in the foothills of Salt Lake City
Awesome rock chair that I sat in.
Alyson and I on the chair lift
Me at the top of the mountain with my trusty sled.
The view of Park City from the top of the mountain
Kristy and Nate finishing the Alpine Coaster ride.....so flipping sweet.

Jul 28, 2011

Park City

Well, I am back in Massachusetts sitting on my couch in my cozy flannel jammies staring off into space and thinking. I have so much to tell you. I need blank blogging rectangle after blank blogging rectangle to catch you up on all that has been happening. But I am going to take a deep breath and slow down and start by finishing telling you about my Utah trip.

So Tuesday morning my friends and I all headed to Park City. I have been there before but never without kids :) The morning was beautiful....mountains, blue sky.....all the necessities. We arrived on Main Street in Park City just in time to have breakfast at The Eating Establishment. Traveling with these friends of mine is all about eating. It always has been and always will be. We are on a constant quest for perfect food. The Eating Establishment was very close to perfect. I never thought I would be the type to use the words amazing and omlette together but I simply must. My omlette was amazing!

When we were done with our breakfast we started walking down Main Street and going in shops. Each store front was different. I loved all that there was for my senses to take in. I love wandering through shops and galleries. I saw so many paintings I longed to own. It always amazes me that there are people out there who can so perfectly capture the longings of life in a painting. I loved that when I came out of the shops I could look up and admire the extremely close mountains. We continued our trend of taking way too many silly pictures as we walked and shopped. We stopped and ate another amazing meal for late lunch at a restaurant on Main Street called Zoom.....we shared salads and appetizers.

It was about four in the afternoon and we decided it was time to head back to Salt Lake City but as we were driving down Main Street I spied something on the left that made me shriek.....a chair lift taking people up the mountain. I HAD to know about that. Everyone noticed that Jennifer had perked up and actually taken an interest in something so they stopped the car and let me get out. They all waited while I went to ask questions and gather information to my hearts content about the possibility of riding this chair lift. I was so happy to discover it was only $11.00. But I was so sad that the afternoon thunder clouds were gathering on the mountain. I was in for this adventure no matter the weather because I am unrealistic in every way. But I knew thunder clouds would not interest the friends. We ended up not being able to go due to rain and I was ever so sad but all my nice friends promised to come back the next day.

The next day was packed full. And it was my fault. Never invite me to your vacation :) I wanted to go on a hike and Alyson and Shannon signed up to go with me. We decided on a hike just above the University of Utah called The Living Room. It had some good reviews and I needed a view. We left the hotel at 7:30 am and got to the hike at about 8:15. The trail was not marked, at all, but I had brought some directions from an article I found on the computer and after a few minor turn arounds we were soon on our way up the canyon. It was a steady climb and when we finally found shade Alyson and Shannon sat and ate while I finished the hike on my own. I had to know what was at the end. When I got there I was so pleased with myself for finishing. The whole Salt Lake Valley was spread out before my eyes. The reason the hike is called The Living Room is because there is tons of big rocks laying around at the end of the hike that people use to make couches and chairs that you can sit in. I found the perfectly crafted rock chair and sat in it. I felt the breeze as I sat there thinking about oh so many things. There was not a soul there except me. You see, I keep searching for a view that will help me to understand what is wrong with me. So, there I sat, staring at an amazing view in Utah, once again asking myself all kinds of questions and searching for answers. I could not help but think how truly amazing the view would be at night with all the lights of the city. I got a few more insights into my quest to figure me out, I noticed where there had been a fire at some time, marveled at the green growth coming up from the burnt ground, and carefully chose a rock for my rock jar. And then hustled to catch up with Alyson and Shannon.

After we got back to the hotel I got out of hiking clothes quickly and Julie and I headed to the Conference Center for a tour. Julie has never been there before. The building is so inspiring. I could spend hours admiring all the art inside and the views from the roof. But we still had to fit Park City, the Distribution Center and the Desert Bookstore into our day :)

Finally, three o'clock in the afternoon found Kristy, Jennifer, Julie, Alyson and Kristy's son Nate heading back up to Park City. I was so looking forward to my ride on the chair lift. When we got there we decided to do the alpine slide and the alpine coaster. Which meant slow chair lift ride and then speed :) All my dreams were coming true. So for $25.00 we got three fun things. I felt pretty blessed :)

First, was the slide. You get to ride the chair lift up. I have never been on a chair lift before. It looked very dreamy. All of us fit on one chair lift. As we were heading up you could see wildlife below. There were these enormous prairie dog looking things that were everywhere. One was even resting his paws on the edge of the slide looking at it expectantly....so cute. It was so peaceful, and slow, and beautiful. When we got to the top we grabbed our sleds for our ride down the slide and got in line. The wait was not too long and I chose a fast track for the way down. Julie was in the track next to me and I am sad to report she beat me down the mountain. You have a brake and you can control how fast you go. I thought several times that I was winning but I didn't. It was super fun. I loved how later on I saw an employee of Park City coming down on a sled with his weed eater with him. Would that not be a great perk to your weed eating job at Park City? :)

After the Alpine Sled it was Alpine Coaster time. The Alpine Coaster is single little cars that you sit in. When you get in the coaster pulls you and your little car all the way up the mountain, it takes about 6 or 7 minutes to get to the top. You are all by yourself, seat belted into this car, it is quiet, and you are admiring the scenery as you are being pulled up the mountain. When you get to the top you put your hands on these two levers on the side that control your speed. The further forward you push them the faster you go, when you pull back you slow down.

When I was waiting in line for the coaster this guy came off the ride and confidently declared loudly to all of us, "push those levers all the way down and never brake there is no other way" so I did just that and it was so thrilling. You are in this car, basically all alone on the track (since they try to keep a huge distance between you and the person in front of you) it is so quiet except for the part where you are screaming your guts out. It went so fast. I LOVED it. There were tons of corners to bank on. It was beautiful and exhilarating. I wanted to go again the minute I got off. But there were the small details of time and money so I had to face reality and be content with once. I am so grateful to my kind friends who indulged me way too much in Park City.

I will post the rest of my pictures on a blog by themselves in the morning and I put a ton of them on Facebook too.

It truly was a fun trip. I am so grateful for timeless friends who continue to be oh so patient with me and loving to me as there is not much else they can do as I attempt to figure things out on my own. It was a sorely needed break. Now I am home for a week and then heading off to Oregon to get pampered by my parents. Another needed break. I told my dad as long as he cooks me steak for every meal I will listen quietly to all his lectures he is readying for me :) So Saturday I am off on my alone hike and next week is beach. And I need to tell you about Tatiana's trip to Oregon and Madeline's mission call and oh so much more. I guess we are destined to be best friends :)

Jul 26, 2011

Monday In Utah.

I need this to be perfect...... Oh, so much to tell you....... I am truly bursting........ Where do I start? This is a bloggers dream come true. Usually I spend a little bit of time wondering what to say but let me tell you... no wondering happening here.... no famine of words....so much to tell you about I am bursting.

Let me see if I can limit myself to some highlights from Monday and then you can sit on pins and needles wondering and waiting for Tuesday highlights :)

I took my first taxi ride.

We ate at Red Iguana.

We took way to many silly pictures on Temple Square. Yes, I will post those when I get home.

We stayed the night in the downtown Marriott.....view of the temple, anyone? When I woke up I greatly resisted the urge to throw those heavy hotel curtains wide open so I could lay there and stare at the view....since my friends were still sleeping :)

We considered buying some Katy Perry concert tickets on a whim

We shopped at the beautiful outdoor Gateway Mall.....it is down by the Union Pacific building in Salt Lake City. It was so amazingly beautiful. Shopping and enjoying nature at the same time......pretty sweet :)

I wore sunglasses all day.....I have never owned or worn sunglasses in my life but sometimes friends can prompt you to try things you normally would not. And then when you try that thing that you normally would not try and everyone ooohhhs and ahhhhs and gives you validation and praise how can you not think you are a movie star when you wear sunglasses and promptly wear them religiously? :) Yes, I will post pictures when I get home. I had no idea that sunglasses on top of my head could make me feel so glamorous.

Oh, and speaking of trying new things these friends of mine insisted that I put on a necklace that one of them bought and wear it for awhile. I am not about bling and accessories in anyway and felt very self conscious. For some reason people can not resist the urge to play barbie with me :) I attempted to resist but resistance was futile so I wore the necklace.

Laying on the beds in the hotel room chatting and chatting.

It truly is an amazing thing to have oh so many years have gone by and be able to pick up where we left off and have these lasting friendships. It has been good for me to get away and attempt to find perspective. I am not sure if it is working but I think my friends have been patient with a much more subdued Jennifer that they are used too. Today we went to Park City and I can hardly wait to tell you about that. And tomorrow is a hike called the Living Room.....yes, we have to know why. And I hope that I have talked everyone into taking the chair lift up the ski slopes for tomorrow too....hello.... spectacular view....who could not resist that? :)

Jul 24, 2011

Thunderstorms and Fireworks.....Lucky Me :)

When was the last time you went on a airplane? The last time I went on a airplane was March of 2009. I love every single thing about flying. Yes, even the quart size ziploc bag with my Carmex in it. Yes, even the security line....good people watching. Yes, even getting to the airport way too early. Yes, even getting to Dulles and the captain of your flight deciding the plane is not fit to fly and so your 6:00 flight leaves at 8:30 instead. No worries, I got comfortable and chatted for those hours with three ladies from Utah, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and even the captain of our flight sat with us and chatted for an hour. Fascinating conversation. You have no idea how many questions I had always wanted to ask a airplane captain. The lady from Utah was on her way back from the Ukraine where she has been trying to adopt three kids. The lady from Virginia was on her way to comfort her sister who has been diagnosed with agressive cancer and does not have long to live. The lady from Pennsylvania was going to see her son and grand kids. We talked about oh so many things. How one of them had a neighbor who was on Survivor. How one of them had a husband in the Army. How the pilot had been in the Airforce for 30 years and his wife just divorced him 4 years ago. It was so strange to think by the end of three hours we knew so much about each other and yet would most likely never see each other again.

The wait for the flight was actually completely and utterly worth it. We flew by a wicked thunder storm with amazing lightning in the Midwest. I had no idea that seeing that from an airplane could be so mesmerizing. Sadly, we went by it so fast I did not feel satisfied and need to see another thunderstorm from an airplane. Then when we were descending into Salt Lake City I kept seeing something and wondered what it was and as I started focusing I realized it was FIREWORKS!! I had always wanted to see fireworks from the sky and it happened to be 24th of July celebrations in Utah and there were firework shows everywhere. It was so incredible. I now know it was a good thing to have longed to see that my whole entire life. And now I need to figure out how to get on an airplane when fireworks are happening way more often than I have in the past. Seriously thunderstorm and fireworks in the same flight. Who could get so lucky?

Oh, and I almost forgot.... I got to sit by a flight stewardess on my flight from Hartford to Dulles and she answered questions to my hearts content. I fear I may secretly long to be a flight stewardess. Would that not be so fun?

Then today after all my epic fun at airports and on airplanes I spent the day in the car driving up and down the Wasatch Front. I forgot how amazing mountains are. My ancestors pushed handcarts over these mountains. And this weekend is the weekend that the first Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. I could not help but think about them today as I watched the sun come over those amazing, solid, strong mountains. The sacrifices they made. The trails they faced. The things they gave up. It gave me a lot to think about.

I have tons more to tell you but it is late in Utah and I am ever so tired.

Jul 22, 2011

Julie, Kristy, Shannon, Kathy, and Alyson.

"Tomorrow, tomorrow I love ya tomorrow you are only a day away " Do you have friends? Tomorrow I am going to see four friends that I have not seen in a very, very long time. This is epic...this is Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants...this is Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood....this is well.....this is ....well I guess this is the stuff movies are made of :)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....(Lawrence, Kansas) there were six girls who watched Survivor together every Thursday night. They ate luscious treats like stuffed mushrooms, artichoke dip, and won tons. They talked, and talked, and talked. They laughed until they wet their pants. They bonded in an epic way. Life moved on and some of them moved out of Lawrence some of them stayed in Lawrence all kinds of life happened to all of them. But strangely they always knew each other was there. When I have been hit with the hugest trial of my life (ahem.....the kind of trial you bring on yourself...the best kind :) I knew I could reach out across the years and the miles and confess and overshare to my hearts content and these girls would always love me no matter what. And even better they never misunderstand me. They love that I hate to leave things unresolved. They love that I am obsessive. They adore that I can not let go of anything. They....hmmm I better stop while I am ahead :) They could very easily comment on this blog and then you would know the truth :)

So the whole point is these girls are all meeting in Utah this very month. I am flying to Utah tomorrow. And Monday our epic fun begins. It has been oh so long since we have been together. We are eternally sad that one of our members of our possee can not come join our fun. We are going to eat amazing food. We are going to hike. We are going to Park City. We are shopping. We are solving all our problems. We are taking tons of pictures.

Before the fun starts with the girlfriends I am going to be getting my bum right off the airplane and procuring a rental car and going to pick up my oldest child Zach and his new, awesome friend that happens to be a girl and driving them back down to Provo to BYU so we can visit. I am dropping them off and then I am turning right around and heading back to Salt Lake City to stay with my dear friend Kristy. I can hardly wait to see her. And I confess the view of the lights of the city from around where she lives is pretty flippin sweet. I do love views and lights together.

Sunday morning I am getting up early and having breakfast at a friend's house. A most dear friend from Indiana who now lives in Utah. After breakfast I am going to church with my dear brother Jeff. Jeff and I talk maybe twice a year but we always love each other the most. Uncle Jeff is the most amazing cook ever so I am hanging with him until I am well fed.

I am really looking forward to my airplane ride. I love airports. I love traveling. I have no idea why it makes me have such longing. I always look around at all the people waiting for the plane and wonder about their lives. Where they are going? Where they came from? If they are happy? What they have decided about me? The only thing that would make it all complete is someone to tell all the details too :) I guess that is going to have to be my little old blogging rectangle.....lucky you :) So stay tuned for pictures and fascinating commentary :) You love that :)

Jul 19, 2011

A Dam, A Lake, and A River.

Today Natalie and I went exploring. More and more I am marveling at the fact that in ten minutes Natalie and I can be on the road to anywhere our little hearts desire. I have realized that the numb, heavy, sad feeling I constantly have seems to raise it's feeble head and appreciate a view so I am trying to put my little resigned bum in the car once a day and go somewhere. Yesterday was the library but today we grabbed cherries, goldfish and waterbottles and headed north up Route 20. There were a few places I had always seen signs for and wondered about but never actually checked out. The drive up Route 20 is a treat in itself. You really should come visit me so you can see for yourself how beautiful it is. The road follows the Westfield River. I pass the most picturesque cemetery on the left hand side of the road right before I reach Huntington. I cross a bridge. I see lots of white New England church spires.

Our first stop was Littleville Lake. There were 4 cars in the parking lot. We could see some kayakers out on the lake so we grabbed our cherries and headed towards the water to see what it was like. The views were amazing. Water....trees....warm lazy sunshine....there was a couple having a picnic up on the grass, there was a little old lady sitting in a chair at the water's edge and a grandpa and his granddaughter fishing. There was no swimming allowed at this spot and the water did look a little questionable near the shore. I do not usually notice those kinds of things. There was not really a beach but Natalie and I still tried to explore a little. It did not take too long to quench our curiosity about Littleville Lake. There are pros and cons to everywhere you go. If I had a canoe, kayak, book, or chair in any combination I would definitely go back in a minute. Yes, I am sure I could figure out how to read and kayak :)

Once we got back in the car we headed towards Knightville Dam. I have seen the sign for Knightville Dam oh so many times and longed to see what it was. This was so exciting to feel so free to do what ever I wanted. I did not have to get anyone's approval. And no one was trying to talk me out of it. So sublime.

We drove up to the dam, parked the car, and walked out onto the dam with our bag of cherries. (yes, the cherries never want to wait in the car) There was not a soul in sight. It was quiet. No water on either side of the dam which made me have all sorts of questions that there was no one around to ask. Again the scenery was well worth it. Everything is just so pretty and calm. After walking for awhile in the hot sunshine along the not so shady dam Natalie and I decided we needed to go somewhere where we could actually touch water so on road down from the dam we stopped by the river and decided to check it out. We found a most perfect spot. Rocks were arranged in the river in such a way to form little pools (yes, I wondered how that had happened way too much) and then there were spots where the water was flowing. We took off our shoes and socks and I rolled up my sweats and we walked around in the most refreshing water. Natalie was determined to catch a fish to have for a pet so she set to work on that project. I just sat on a big rock, admired the world, and ate cherries. Yeah, you can retrace our steps by following the cherry stems and pits we left all over the Berkshires today :) We wanted to stay forever but clearly that did not work out. But Natalie made me promise we would go back tomorrow with water shoes and towels.

Jul 16, 2011

Thought It Would Be Random But, Alas, It Was Not :)

So todays blog is random. Did you know that not every blog has to have a single, lonely subject..........oh my....did I just say that out loud? I know breaking out of the box is so happening for Jennifer :)

One of my favorite kids books is a book titled Serendipity. I love the word and I adore the concept. A word that means the same as serendipity is happenstance.....another pretty sweet word. Serendipity means an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.....oh dear, I see that look on your face.....I see your eyebrows making that shape....here let me give you some examples of Serendipity so that you can understand and then it can become your favorite word too....I am okay with sharing my favorite word with you :)

#1. Serendipity is driving 2 hours to an important appointment in Nashua, New Hampshire and discovering there is a Five Guys practically next door to the appointment :)

#2. Serendipity is getting behind someone driving slow thus making it so you can safely put on your eyeliner while driving :)

#3. Serendipity is going to a parade in Suffield thinking it will just be firetrucks (which are cool...do not get me wrong) but actually it turns out there is incredibly, awesome bagpipes in the parade too :)

#4. Serendipity is opening a package of fruit snacks fully expecting at least 2 of the purple ones that you hate and discovering there is actually no purple ones in that bag and realizing the fruit snack gods love you :)

#5. Serendipity is needing something, not knowing what it is, opening the fridge and with delight discovering exactly 1 cup of Dr Pepper left in the bottle.

#6. Serendipity is thinking about really needing a genuine smile and all of a sudden noticing you are, at that very moment, driving by a place where you remember getting a pretty awesome oh so genuine smile and that is good enough to make you smile :)

#7. Serendipity is expecting to get scolded, since that is all you have been getting lately, and instead getting praise.....okay, it was from the 8 year old but hey, I am ever so grateful :)

#8. Serendipity is needing something at the store, not wanting to go get it and the teenager, who can drive. sauntering in and asking if she can go to the store :)

#9. Serendipity is thinking the magnetic words carefully placed on your door to your garage would be all messed up by now and it turns out they have stayed the same for oh so many weeks.

#10. Serendipity is not wanting to mop the floor and someone spilling something that makes it so you have to mop it :)

So, do you get the idea? I could make a nice serendipity list everyday.....but I won't :) Ruh Roh I just re-read my blog and guess what? It does have a single subject. Drat...once in the box always in the box :)

So next week starts some serious adventures for Jennifer so remember to check back often. I am flying to Utah to visit old friends. I am flying to see my parents in Oregon after not being home for at least 5 years. I am going to the beach. I am going on my alone hike. Miriam is coming home from college. I have book club. Madeline's mission papers are in. Natalie and I are going to Exit 2. And who knows I may even get up the strength to fix dinner...and blog about it....in a most riveting way :)

Jul 15, 2011

Can I Do It?

Once upon a time there was this girl named Jennifer. Jennifer loved to go on hikes. I mean really loved to go on hikes. She loved to invite lots of people to go with her whenever she went on a hike because she had this annoying need to share. One day, a few years ago, she read about a hike that had many promises of amazing views. She needed to see for herself. She gathered friends and they went to hike this hike and find the aforementioned view. Alas, Jennifer took the wrong trail to the view, frustrated almost everyone who went with her. and never found the view she was looking for. She hated letting people down. She hated not finishing. The not seen view has haunted her at least once a week ever since her failure. She kept trying to figure out a way to get back to this hike and finish what she started but,ever so sadly, it never worked out. The hard part now is that over time more and more symbolism had crept in and associated itself with this hike now not only did she need to see that view but that she needed to go alone. WHAT? Did Jennifer know what alone meant? The words Jennifer and alone NEVER, EVER go together. Can she do it? Well, she thinks she can. Is she afraid of alone? Yeah, truthfully she is. She wants to be safe but she needs to do this hike alone for way too many reasons. She needs to face silence. She needs to be able to just make herself happy and not spend the entire hike trying to make sure everyone else is happy. She has been doing that during her entire hike through life. She needs to get to the view by herself. So Jennifer is:

Staring at her calendar for next week
Staring at her map
Writing her will in case a bear eats her, or she gets lost on her way to the view
Making a list of weapons she could carry :)
Determining the time of day to go.
Sunrise or Sunset? (A very symbolic choice to be made.)

She is excited for this adventure. She is positive there are blueberries once you get to the view. She is pretty sure other people have done this alone and been oh so fine. She needs to do something hard and prove to herself that she can. Jennifer's vegetable garden in her backyard is very overgrown for the first time ever. Jennifer has not made dinner in ages. Jennifer thinks she needs to talk, and talk, and talk to solve problems but maybe all she needs is to get to a view all alone. So wish Jennifer luck as she reads everything she possibly can about the Alander Mountain hike. As she possibly disobeys. As she finds her courage to do something that involves silence. And look forward to her report of her hike alone.....I wonder what Jennifer talks to herself about on the hike? :) Someone once told me that alone and lonely are two different things.....I wonder ? :) Can a mother of seven, someone who was voted Most Friendliest in her senior class way back in 1986, a winner of a gold medal in question asking, a winner of a bronze in reaching out to others do something alone?

Jul 14, 2011

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Today I did what I wish I could do three days a week....(What? A girl needs to be home to get laundry done :) I had an adventure.

It started when I woke up to an amazingly beautiful day....sparkly sunshine.....white clouds.....yes, puffy ones :) brilliant green trees and a endless blue sky. Not to hot, not to cold, perfect temperature with a hint of wind. I picked up a dear friend and we headed to the Massachusetts Pike AKA I-90. And we headed west towards Exit 2. It always makes me eternally happy to head towards Exit 2. It is 30 miles from Exit three, where I live, to Exit 2. Why all the talk about Exit 2? Let me tell you there is so much to do off of Exit 2....(yes, I just used the word exit 6 times....but I think you will forgive me :)I feel so sad that I have barely scratched the surface of what is there to see:

Norman Rockwell Museum

Mt. Greylock

Tanglewood (summer home to the Boston Pops)

the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown (that has an exhibit right now that I MUST see)

Edith Wharton's home and gardens

quaint towns with fascinating shopping

countless hikes

countless museums

and this list has barely scratched the surface of all the possibilities in Berkshire County.

But before I burst I better focus because today was only about Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Stockbridge is a very quaint New England town. A huge tourist destination....especially in the Fall. Norman Rockwell used its residents and main street in many of his paintings....so that should tell you loads. We arrived in the town at about 11:00 and parked in the very first parking spot we came too. I really like to do that :) We got out and started walking. Lots of fun shops to look in. I found a picture in a gallery that I simply must have. It was taken in the area and it was rolling hills with perfect clouds. It was very big and I just need to find $1,500 dollars laying around so I can own it. In this gallery there were so many amazing pictures of scenery from the area...oh, and there was an enormous friendly St.Bernard that became my new best friend.

I rarely buy in the shops but I really could browse all day I do love to know my options in case buying ever crosses my mind someday in the future. The only purchase I made today was a pink rubber ball that fits in my hand, smells amazing, and promised to bounce amazingly high. It was a $1.59. I have already bounced it up and down my driveway, against the garage door, and sniffed it's awesome rubbery smell, and am very pleased with my purchase. I just have to hide it from my kids.

One of the most important parts of the trip to Stockbridge is The Red Lion Inn. If you are ever sitting around at your boring old house wondering what to do for lunch you should grab a friend...or not.... and go eat at the Red Lion Inn. The Red Lion Inn is one of the few American Inns in continuous use since the 18th century. It has 108 individually decorated rooms. I would love to catch a glimpse of them all :) The history of the Inn is amazing and way too lengthy to entertain you with here. But you could google it if you need to know. Which I bet you just do not know that you need to know :)

Usually when I go to the Red Lion Inn I just wander around and admire it on the outside and the inside. But today we actually ate there. I have thought long and hard about how to describe the lunch I had to you and I have come to the conclusion that the deliciousness of the food can only be conveyed with yummy noises, lifted eyebrows, and eyes. I had steak, spinach, and the most luscious onion rings ever. I wish I could share with you so that you could know exactly how they were so you could feel the same happiness I felt. That is why I can never go anywhere alone....how can you not share the joy? We sat at a table outside under a umbrella. It truly was perfect. We took our time and savored every minute.

Something I always marvel at everytime I see the Red Lion Inn is their huge front porch full of wicker furniture. All sorts and sizes. I meant to sit for awhile and people watch but got distracted. We went into the gift shop in the Inn but I did not last too long in the shopping area I heard piano music coming from somewhere and had to know. So I left my friend and wandered out and found the piano. An old man, a guest of the inn, was sitting at the piano with no sheet music in sight playing song after song by memory. I hid around the corner and watched him for about 10 minutes. I wonder what his story was and how he learned all those songs. Several cute little old ladies walked by him and swooned :) It was so sweet. He played so well. I could have listened forever. A huge cat walked by chased by an elderly guest intent on asking the cat how his day was. A funny, fast moving, and not overly observant, chatty lady walked by and asked if I was the piano players wife....I smiled demurely :) What could I say? :) A picture of George Washington peered at me from the wall. It was an indelible moment.

We did a little more window shopping but sadly our real lives reached out and grabbed us and we had to head for home.

But I resolved that I will go to Exit 2 once a week for the rest of the summer and explore something new. It felt so good to have an adventure. To feel the sunshine and be distracted. To be with a great friend who knows way too much about me and yet, still loves me was the frosting on the day!

Jul 13, 2011

I See The Moon The Moon Sees Me.

I am one of those people that has a small-ish obsession with the moon. I remember as a kid driving in the car at night and pressing my face up against the window of the car and marveling that the moon seemed to be following me as I watched it.

I remember sitting on a beach on Washington state marveling at a full moon out over the water.

I could never forget a full moon plus fireworks on a beach in Oregon.

When our kids were little the only way to do a visit to Utah from Kansas and preserve the hubby's sanity was to drive all night and I always got the midnight to morning shift. I love that shift. Everyone is settled and asleep. I put on my favorite music and drive. I will never forget driving over the mountains in Wyoming and Utah with a full moon soaring along with me. Lighting up the oh so empty land and filling me with such longing.

Driving a convertible on a cold night with the top down and a full moon in the sky.

Yeah, I fear I am the biggest fan of the moon that there ever was. Full moons are pretty sensational but I can even see the beauty in just a sliver of a moon too.

A long time ago, when I was oh so little, I learned the song I See The Moon. I grew up hearing my parents sing this song and I, in turn, sang it to my kids. It was one of the memories my son Zach wrote about me once. It surprised me to know it had had an impact on him. In all my travels I had never found anyone else who had ever heard this song until within the last year. I was oh so delighted when I discovered others that knew of this song.

Tonight the moon happens to be full and oh so brilliant and as always I sang the moon song in my head as I was looking at it. For some reason this time I decided to research and figure out, once and for all, the mystery of this song. The words I remember and always sang are:

"I see the moon the moon sees me under the old, the old oak tree. Oh the moon that shines above, shine on the one I love"

So I put Google to the test and once again it came through for me in epic fashion. I truly doubted what typing, "I see the moon the moon sees me" into the search bar would produce.

The first search result was a recording on Youtube of the song by a group from Britian called the Stargazers. It was a little hokey but oh so sweet. It was a number one hit in 1954. I was pleased that some of the words were similar to the ones I knew, and sang, and thrilled to discover that there were more words. You know how that memory thing from when you were a kid goes :)

After the Stargazers rendition of the moon song I clicked on another Youtube link to a rendition of the moon song by Jim Brickman. The song was utterly beautiful but the words were just a constant repeat of a few sentences and it did not feel like home to me. But the music was haunting and I definitely liked it....just no loving it :)

After that I went a little crazy and listened to every rendition of the moon song I could find. I read discussions on the lyrics. Of which there was really no consensus on. And had a general jolly time exploring and learning.

I posted one of my favorite renditions of the song on this blog for you to hear. Let me know what you think :) The I see the moon song is embedded in another song and performed by Chris Rice. I see the moon is a very basic simple song but I loved how it was woven into this song :)

Jul 12, 2011

Adoring Movies.

Do you love going to the movie? I forgot that I adore it. I had not been to a movie in quite awhile but tonight I finally convinced myself that I really needed to venture out of the house and I went with three friends to see Larry Crowne. It was exactly what I had been needing....Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts facing some hard changes in their lives head on...overcoming the fear of change and learning new things about themselves.

I love to be surrounded by the dark. I love to be immersed in the world on the screen. I love that there is a soundtrack to the movie. I need to get me a soundtrack for my life. I need music for when I am staring at the amazing full moon that is following me home. I need music for when I am folding laundry. I need music for when I am driving in my car really fast with my music loud......yeah, I know :) I need music for when my family is all around me talking and I am not listening. I need music playing in the background when I am gardening. Yeah, I love soundtracks. I can not tell you how many times I have seen a movie and gone and purchased the music immediately...Mama Mia....Spirit.....The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, etc. If you go to the movie with me be mentally prepared for the fact that I usually want to stay after and watch the credits so that I can see who sang a certain song that I am pretty sure is my new favorite song. That happened tonight by the way. And everyone graciously waited and helped me look for the song and performer. And of course now that I am home, I remember the performer and not the name of the song :)

I think movies may have ruined my life. I have some notion that everything can be solved in 156 minutes, involves music, amazing scenery, and always ends happy :) I remember ever so vividly the first movie I ever saw that did not end the way I thought it should and that was Rainman, I felt so discouraged. I think I have matured a little bit and one of my most favorite movies, Spanglish, does not end the way I think it should and I still love it. If you have seen Spanglish then you will possibly argue that I am not mature in anyway because a mature person would want Spanglish to end exactly the way it does :) Yes, now you have to go put Spanglish on your Netflix queue so you can figure out what I am talking about :)

I feel like it was money well spent if I walk away from a movie still feeling like I am in that world. I am trying to remember when the last time was I felt that way. I felt it a little bit with Larry Crowne. I felt connected to the characters and involved in their lives and that is usually a good
sign. But it was not epic....like the way I felt after watching The Titanic :)

Why do we love movies so? I know when the movie is over and the lights go up I always find myself thinking or even.....gasp.... saying out loud....."Well back to real life." That is probably why we love them so much... we can escape. I confess that I felt the urge to stay in the theater last night and watch movie after movie. I have never felt that way before. Thankfully, my friends are realists and did not even indulge me when I mentioned I wanted to do that. Sigh...they are good friends :)

I love the joy that comes from noticing little details in a movie that speak volumes about a character. The way they put on their shoes. The way they shop. You can often see who they are so clearly. I do not know why it endears me to them so. I also dearly love noticing the symbolism in a movie....that, by the way, is everywhere, it always makes me smile.

Wednesday is free movie day at the movie theater and at 10am they have a free showing of a kid movie. So Natalie and I are going to go see Diary of A Wimpy Kid. I wonder if I will feel like I have escaped when I watch a movie about middle school? :) Probably not :)

Jul 11, 2011

Do You Smell That?

I have been thinking about smells lately. How they can instantly flood my mind with so many memories.

When we got our 3 cubic yards of pine mulch delivered a couple weeks ago and it was sitting there in the warm sun and I smelled it and I was so happy. One deep whiff of pine mulch and all of a sudden I was sitting somewhere in a pine forest with my favorite person in the world talking about life. Yeah, one sniff of pine mulch did that to me. Pretty powerful stuff :)

Later that same day I smelled a campfire as I was delivering newspapers with the kids and I realized that a day with the smell of pine mulch and campfire both in it was going to definitely do me in. Those are two of my favorite smells and when someone who never has been, and never will be a realist smells their two favorite smells in the same day....nothing good can ever come from it. Campfire smell....sigh....this one has some oh so happy memories...followed closely by some oh so sad memories. But no matter how painful the memories that campfire smell makes me remember I will never, ever hate it as long as I live :)

I have been noticing smells lately and taking note of which ones make me feel content and what they make me think of. It seems like my life has been so fast and busy that I have not taken time to....smell? :) Strange the things you think of when you have the time :)

As I planted my tomato plants this year that warm tomato plant smell flooded my mind with memories. But warm is the key... cold tomato plant = no smell, warm tomato plant = summer :)

When I went strawberry picking with Tatiana and Natalie in early June and I was crawling down the rows of strawberries deeply breathing in the lusciousness of straw and strawberries. I was immediately transported (yes, can you handle a Star Trek word here? :) back to those summers between my years of high school when I would pick strawberries and make barely $100.00 a summer yet, have the time of my life with my friends. I love strawberry smell.

Today while I was driving Natalie on the paper route we drove into a driveway that had just recently been black topped and Natalie got out of the car to deliver the paper and when she got back into the car we both grinned at each other and declared "that is a great smell." But this is another smell that is simply the best warm.

And while I was sitting here blogging about smells my Madeline walked by with a king size Sharpie marker with the cap off and handed it to me and I did breathe....deeply.....so bad...but fabulous smell that reminds me of moving....you know writing on the moving boxes :)



New Shoes

Leather jacket

Freshly cut grass

Roast in the crockpot on Sunday when you come home from church

All of a sudden I feel like we should be singing about it to the tune of My Favorite Things..... so channel Maria Von Trapp and sing with me.....

Black snow tires and diesel with tractors.

New shoes in boxes and leather jackets on best friends.

Freshly cut grass that melts into spring. Roast in the crockpot's a favorite thing.

So, I did some googling and some reading and smell really can bring back memories, it can influence your mood, and even affect your work performance. When you first smell something you link it to an event, a person, a thing, or even a moment. Your brain forges a link. Your emotional brain and your smell receptors are neighbors in your brain they are linked more closely than any of the other senses, they did not invite the other senses to live in the neighborhood at all. But being such close neighbors does not really do a ton of good. I mean you can't smell a chocolate cake while you are studying for a test and then bring that chocolate cake smell with you and expect it to help you remember what you studied. The memory recall you get with a smell is an unconscious one. DRAT :)

There are some smells that I hope I get to smell again someday. Smells that I know will make me feel like I have come home...unconsciously :)

Jul 10, 2011


When was the last time you deferred to another's judgement, opinion, or decision? What about giving or yielding yourself to the power or authority of another? Relinquish much? Surrender much? Yeah, I am spending my Sunday afternoon lying on Miriam's bed thinking about the incredibly frustrating word submit. How did you ever guess? :) The word came up so much in church today that I simply could not ignore it.

When was the last time you did some good, old fashioned, submitting? I confess I am not overly fond of the word. It ruins all my plans. It means that I give something up that I really want because it is the right thing to do.....yeah, definitely loads of fun. The interesting thing about submit is that one of it's synonyms is the word volunteer. So you can't tell people you have done the submitting thing before if you gave something up because someone made you give it up, or they bullied you to give it up, or if they gave you guilt to give it up, or if they used Jedi mind tricks on you to get you to give it up.......if you are currently involved in submitting it is because you have been mature enough to decide to give it up something all on your own. It may only be giving up for awhile or it may be giving up forever but I am pretty sure it is some hard core sacrificing.

When was the last time you volunteered to do something you did not want to do for someone or a situation? I know, I know, it is pretty heavy. I have not met many people in my life that I would volunteer to do anything for.....let alone submit. I fear it has to be a pretty awesome relationship for that to happen. I mean I would not just submit my will to the person scanning my groceries in the grocery store. Or the person trying to convince me to let their little car into the space in front of me on the streets of Westfield. Or the mail lady ( who always mixes everyone's mail up...who would submit to that?) I think there are about two people in my life who if they asked me to do something hard I would bite my lower lip to stop it from quivering and buck up and do it. I have come to recognize lately that I have an enormous amount of will that I must sheepishly admit has rarely had to submit.(Hey, admit and submit...look at me rhyme:)

I think the time has come for 42 year old Jennifer to go back to school and the first class I am registering for will be Submitting 101. Guess what the antonym of submit is? Yeah,...... fight. I wonder if the class will teach me where the moderation is between submitting and fighting? When do you submit and when do you fight? How do you ever decide?

Submitting is easier if you have perspective which I have discovered I often do not have. Submitting means forgetting your own needs which I am not so good at it. But there are some amazing blessing promised to us if we learn how to submit. Now I must clarify that I am not thinking of submitting to the will of everyone around me. So do not come to me looking for my checkbook or my calendar. I am talking about figuring out what Heavenly Father wants me to do and submitting to his will. Remember I only have that awesome sort of submit realtionship with those two actual people and the other is Heavenly Father.

So everyone cross their fingers that my first venture into submitting land goes well and now I am off to see if I can get Natalie to submit to watching something other than Alpha and Omega with me :)

PS. Someone should seriously count how many times I used the words submit and submitting in this blog and graph the results.....goodness gracious can I do anything in an un-epic way?? :) Ahem, do not answer that :)

Jul 9, 2011

Pictures To Go With the Words In The Next Blog :)

Tatiana and Natalie in front of the Palmyra temple.

Aunt Rachel and Aunt Jennifer and Max and Eli.

The field behind the Palmyra temple....pretty amazing huh? :)

The picture Natalie wants you to see :)

Sitting on the tippy top of Hill Cumorah looking down towards the seating for the pageant.....pretty sweet view :)

Palmyra And Perspective.

So this Friday was a trip that has been on my little old calendar for quite awhile. When I planned this trip and carefully filled in the calendar square with the words Palmyra/Hill Cumorah Pageant I really had no idea how changed my life would be by this innocent looking date. So strange how you plan something in one universe and then when it finally happens you happen to be in another universe. Lots of things made this trip unlike any I have ever taken before and I found myself wondering if my future adventures will look more like this one did. The face of my family and vacations seems to be morphing.

Last time we were in Palmyra was two years ago. At that time we loaded up our fifteen passenger van with our kids and some of our kids friends and headed up to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant, to see the Mormon church history sights, and meet my sister Rachel, hubby,and their 6 kids. This time I loaded my, oh so small, trusty Subaru with Tatiana, Natalie, and myself and took the trip on my own. I love to drive long distances. I have noticed lately that I have a tendency to want to doze off when driving and that makes me slightly nervous but I still love to drive.

The drive to Palmyra is 5 hours for us. In order to fit everything in to this, way too short, weekend we left at 5 in the morning on Friday. When we left our garage at 5 am the sky was showing us some very amazing lightning. We headed west on the Massachusetts Turnpike towards New York State. The first part of the trip is my favorite part because we get to drive through the Berkshires, Albany, and then alongside the Erie Canal. It is all so beautiful. The second half of the trip is not too shabby but just not as noteable, in my mind, as the first half is.

We had been to the library to get books on tape for the trip and we chose way too many....like I always do. We decided to listen to On The Banks of Plum Creek first. I do love the Little House on the Prairie books. Driving along looking at amazing scenery, listening to the simplicity of Laura Ingalls life, her descriptions of places and events while snacking on almonds and apricots made me feel awfully content. Natalie had the whole back seat to herself and Tatiana was in the front with me. Nobody was fighting. Nobody was grumpy. Tatiana and I kept trying to stop grinning at each other over the delight of our situation :)

We arrived in Palmyra at about 10:15. Why Palmyra? Good question, especially if you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Some very significant events in the history of the Mormon church happened here and every July there is a huge pageant held here. And that is definitely the short version of the story :)

This year our trip to Palmyra was happening so that I could meet my sister Rachel and pass off Tatiana to her since Tatiana and Rachel's daughter Emily are going to be flying from Pittsburgh to Oregon together to see Grandma and Grandpa Ord. Palmyra happens to be the middle spot between Pittsburgh, PA (where Aunt Rachel lives) and Westfield, MA...just in case that ever comes up in casual conversation and you need to know :)

We met at the Palmyra temple and walked around with the kids. What struck me about this temples grounds was that there are no other buildings or busy roads around. I searched my mind for any other Mormon temple that I had been to that had a huge open field of grass behind it and groves of trees all around the field. You could only hear the sounds of birds...no cars...no hustle and bustle of city life, just nature, and the temple. Not another building in sight. I marveled at that for a long time and wish I could have sat and enjoyed it forever....well, at least until I got hungry or needed to buy some new clothes :)

After pictures and our walk around the outside of the temple we made a short drive over to the Sacred Grove and the home Joseph Smith lived in. I always want to take a ton of time here. The stillness calls to me. The split rail fences. The coolness of the walk through the grove of trees contemplating events that happened here. When you come during the pageant week crowds are aplenty and I made a mental note to come back in September by myself when I could wander and ponder :) Yes, I made a rhyme :) I wonder what state my mind will be in in September? Life is funny that way :)The crowds do not bother me. It is fun to watch all the people and muse about their lives. But I occasionally even "social Jennifer" does long for no distractions :)

The pageant, that oh so many people come for, does not start until 9:15 at night so we spent the rest of the day walking up Hill Cumorah, sitting in the beautiful sunshine, people watching, and going back and forth to the bathroom with kids. I love the pageant but I confess that by the time it started I kept falling asleep. That, "four o'clock in the morning going to bed at midnight" thing finally caught up with me.

The sky that night was beautiful...clear, full of stars, with a very bright, perfectly half of a moon. When I was awake I spent way too much time staring at the sky. Thankfully I have seen the pageant before since my mind seemed to be elsewhere this year.

After the pageant I left Tatiana with Aunt Rachel and Natalie and I headed west on I-90 towards out hotel...which was an hour and 22 minutes back down the road. We arrived at the hotel at 12:10 in the morning. We both fell into one of the beds and were asleep within minutes. Four o'clock in the morning came way too soon and we staggered back to the car. We needed to be back home so I could play the piano for an event at 10:30 am. Natalie slept the whole way home and I used that time to think, and think, oh and think. No music. No books on tape. Just me, the sunrise, the rising spots of fog, the bursts of morning sunshine. It truly was a beautiful morning drive. I fought the urge to shut my eyes by eating cherries, almonds, and peppermint lifesavers which I try to keep whole in my mouth as long as I can.

So different from any trip I have ever taken. No big white 15 passenger van. No surly teenagers :) I felt so free I contemplated ditching my obligations at home and heading on to Niagra Falls but I decided to behave :)

Jul 7, 2011

A Perfect View.

Okay, before you start reading today think of the best view you ever saw. Have you ever seen a view that took your breath away? Doesn't everyone love a view? Who would not want one? Who tells the realtor that they want a house with no windows? A view refers to whatever lies open to your sight. A view is something that is seen. Views ALWAYS make me cry...but you knew that. I love to be surprised by a view. I love to go on a hike knowing I will get a view at the end. We all seek for views and exclaim with joy when we see one.

A long time ago my parents moved to Cottage Grove, Oregon. I was married and had little kids and had not seen their new house yet. One summer we loaded the car with the little Baird's and headed to Oregon from Kansas. We arrived in Cottage Grove when it was all dark. We all fell into bed not knowing what was around us. The next morning I woke up and wandered into my parents living room and just stood and stared out their three big windows in their living room at the amazing view. It took my breath away. It was so strange to think that that spectacular view had been there the night before I just had not known it was there.

The same thing happened one time when we went to Hawaii for the first time. We arrived in the middle of the night and had no idea what was around us. I could hardly wait for sunrise so I could peak out the hotel room curtains and see the view. And of course it made all my dreams come true :)

Look over to the left side of my blog...do you see that picture of Deception Pass? This is one of my most favorite views. It is a picture I took from the Deception Pass Bridge a few years ago when I was in Washington State. Whenever I get to back to Washington State I drive straight to Deception Pass as fast as I can. Sometimes when I am having"one of those days" in Massachusetts I imagine myself standing on the Deception Pass Bridge, feeling the wind that is often there, staring out into the blue water that has plops of little islands covered with green trees scattered here and there. I have a beautiful, framed picture in my home ( it is sitting in my closet.....long story) of the Deception Pass Bridge partially covered with fog. Views and fog.....they never go together.

I have been thinking a lot about views lately and how views are definitely better when things are clear. But you really appreciate them the most when you come out of a fog and find one..... I am just sure of it.

My favorite movie is A Room With A View. I love to watch the characters in this movie learn to be honest with themselves and understand views. In the movie, Mr Emerson and his son,George, give up their room with a view to an old lady and her charge, Lucy Honeychurch, who do not have a view and Mr Emerson declares to them that he does not care what is outside that his view is within..."that is where the birds sing and the sky is blue. Hmmm is my view inside or dependent on things that are outside? When it is raining, cloudy, or foggy do I still have a view?

While we are talking about movies and views I recently watched the movie Flipped and in this movie the main female character Juli Baker has a sycamore tree at her bus stop that she climbs to see an amazing view. This tree and this view mean the world to her. One day the tree needs to be chopped down to make way for a house and she stays in that tree hoping to prevent the tree from being chopped down. Nothing and nobody can get her out of the tree until her dad arrives and climbs a ladder and convinces her it is time to come down. She cries and cries for two weeks after the tree is cut down. Longing for her view. One day her dad knocks on her bedroom door and presents her with a painting he made of the tree that was chopped down and she talks about how she discovers that she can look at the painting and remember the view and how she felt when she saw it. How Juli had to come to the realization that the view was still there... just inside of her continues to fascinate me :)

I am so grateful for views. For the times I have seen one and yes, even for the times I haven't. ....otherwise I would not know the difference...right? :)

Jul 4, 2011

The Second Of July.

Fireworks are one of my most favorite things. This year I actually had a not so lucid moment and determined that I was not attending the fireworks in Westfield but I am ever so happy to tell you that I pulled myself together and ended up going.

About two miles up the road from our house is a park called Stanley Park and every year Stanley Park has a pretty amazing fireworks show. It is never on the Fourth of July which rocked my little rule following world at first. I mean, 4th of July, not the 3rd, or the 2nd.....4th :) I am happy to report that it did not take me long to be okay with fireworks on a day other than the 4th. One year, due to rain, the fireworks did not happen until the first week of August and I barely survived :) Stanley Park is pretty amazing. And everytime I go there and hang out I wonder to myself, why do I live a mere two miles from this park and not take advantage of it more? But I will blog about Stanley Park and its amaziness another time.

This year the process of getting to the fireworks was no different from any other year. I always want to get there way too early. Everyone thinks I am crazy to need to get there so early but I think they all had a pretty great spot to watch the fireworks because of my need to be early. So at 4:20 on Saturday afternoon I had my hubby drive me, Tatiana, Natalie, my friend, and her three boys up to the park. He was able to pull right into the park parking lot and drop us off. We were loaded with chairs, food, water, bug spray, games, books, flashlights, bubbles and oh so much more. Between Stanley Park and the road that runs in front of it is the most amazing stone wall that runs the whole length of the front of the park. It is flat dark gray stone stacked ever so carefully and neatly on top of each other. I marvel at it everytime I see it. Then there is a row of trees between the wide, huge, open grassy field and the stone fence. The coveted spots on a sunny July day are under those trees so that was my goal, to get a shady tree spot. A lot of the tree spots were already taken at 4:30 but we procured one of the last ones and spread out our blankets, chairs, and posessions trying to take as much room as possible to save a spot for everyone who was coming later.

The day was beautiful. Huge puffy white clouds...brilliant blue sky....every shade of green possible...and in the shade of the tree it was the perfect temperature. I could have sat there forever. The kids ran over to the playground, climbed the tree, walked on the stone wall, and played games, okay, and they whined a few times about each other and what a drag it is to have to have a sibling bothering you. My friend and I talked and solved all the world's problems. The park fills up pretty fast and by the time the fireworks start at dark almost all of the immense grassy space is completely covered with people. My favorite part is when it gets dark and you can look out across the field and see hundreds of glow in the dark bracelets, necklaces, hats, swords and every other thing you can possibly imagine in glow in the dark form. It creates a pretty fabulous picture that I do adore. I have no idea why things like that fill me with such contentment. I am truly weird :)

Before the fireworks start they have a F-16 flyover....which I confess I could just do F-16 flyovers all day. Why does a F-16 flyover make me cry? Actually, fireworks make me cry too. Actually puffy clouds in a blue sky do too. Yeah, you see a trend don't you ? :) Jennifer + anything amazing = crying. It's not rocket science :)

The firework show is pretty amazing. I spend the whole time repressing the urge to drive everyone around me crazy with my constant exclaiming at how I love that one and oh, I love that one too and oh, wait the really loud noises are my favorite. Yeah, I love everything. But I try to keep it under wraps :)

My hubby and the older kids do not come up to the show until the very last minute. They leave the car at our house and walk up. Traffic is definitely something you need to prepare yourself for when you come to the firework show. We have discovered that the easiest way to deal with that is to just leave our car and walk the two miles back to our house. The "sitting in a parking lot waiting for 45 minutes" thing we tried one year and it just about did the man of the house in.

When the fireworks are over we all load ourselves down with all our posessions and walk down the middle of the closed off streets towards home. Every year as I pass all the parking lots and side roads full of cars waiting their turn I find myself grateful that I have the option to walk home.

I wonder about lots of things when I watch fireworks. Who gets to set them off? How they do it? How I can procure that job of setting off fireworks? I wonder how early they order all those fireworks and where they order them from? Do they have fireworks catalogs? I need to get myself one of those :) I wonder what the names of the fireworks are? I wonder why watching them fills me with such longing? I wonder what it would be like to fly in a airplane over them? I wonder if I will ever make it to New York City and Boston to see their firework displays? I wonder where the best firework display in the world is? I even wonder what everyone else is thinking about.....yeah, it is pretty exhausting to be in my head :)