Monday, April 30, 2012

things that made me smile this week

* i was in a real crummy mood this week, and on monday night a good friend took me out to the arcade. we had so much fun playing fruit ninja. my score was -21 on the first round, because i was slashing at every piece of fruit on the screen, instead of only the blue-circled pieces. great for taking out my aggression. we played guitar hero and my score was 0, because i didn't realize that i was supposed to be strumming as well as pushing the buttons. we played air hockey--totally fun! and pacman, and a trivia game. it was a fun night. did i mention that this was my first visit ever in my life to an arcade?

* it was a bit of a downer of a week. i spent it closing down the office in annapolis. i successfully got all the equipment and furniture returned. i also spent a couple of hours setting up the new office. i'm gonna miss the commute and the people with whom i worked. it was a fun week even though i was sad about it all ending.

* there was this rather large painting that had to be returned. silly me, i thought that it would fit in my car. good friend with a truck came to my rescue. we even got special access to parking at the pentagon so we wouldn't have to walk a mile with a 50'x60' oil-on-canvas original painting of the assault on fallujah flapping in 20 mile-an-hour wind gusts. it was quite an adventure. thank you choo choo.

* an afternoon of indian food, shopping, serious girl talk and the movie chimpanzee. much needed retail and friendship therapy.

* this scripture which an amazing friend shared with me:  ...and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him (Mosiah 29:20).

* the cutest phone message from niece L and nephew G, thanking me for their birthday gifts. i keep phone messages and listen to them again and again, resaving them each time they pop up in my voice mail queue.

* i have the most beautiful red roses blooming in the backyard. yay!

* and this will be blooming soon.

* gorgeousness abounds!

Saturday, April 28, 2012


i keep having these little glimpses of other people's lives around me...

a smiling baby, cooing up at her mama from the stroller.

an older couple with sliver hair, and entwined, gloved hands, walking slowly in front of me, and talking softly.

a younger couple sitting at the corner table in a low lit pub, completely ignorant of their surroundings, eyes only for each other, and lost in conversation.

mom, dad, and daughter out walking the dog, singing their way home.

he pushes the grocery cart, and reads something on his smart phone. she reads a list, picks things off the shelves and puts them into the cart. he looks up, watches her for a moment, and reaches out catching her hand as she aims for the cart. their eyes meet and they smile at each other for a long moment and continue on.

he carefully carries two steaming cups of coffee in a cardboard carrier, while on the phone, saying, "i'm two blocks away. see you in a minute."

two runners perfectly in synch, except for her swinging pony tail, pass quickly by. they're even breathing the same.

a family emptying the car after a shopping trip. he grabs the groceries. she takes the two little girls by the hand and off they go up the sidewalk to their house, pausing for a moment to open the door, grab the mail and then they're inside.

light from a window spilling out onto the sidewalk, and shadowed figures passing by, one singing, the other laughing and calling out to someone else in the house.

i remember when i was younger, scenes like this would make me ache with a wanting so deep that sometimes my bones would  hurt. and now, they make me smile. make me feel content. there really is much happiness, warmth, and love in the world among all the hardship, coldness and sadness. the world really is a beautiful place. just look around, and happiness it seems will rub right off, if you let it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

thoughtful thursday - the worst you can do

the best thing you can do is the right thing;
the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing;
the worst thing you can do is nothing.

~theodore roosevelt

Monday, April 23, 2012

things that made me smile this week

* what a great week to be in dc. the space shuttle discovery made its final journey and provided washingtonians with plenty of opportunities to view it as the pilots flew around for over 45 minutes. i wish i could have seen it, but i loved checking out the photos and watching it on the news. it brought back so many memories of my trip to florida to see the launch. here's my favorite photo:

photo by wouldn't it be nice (a friend from church)
* i splurged a bit this year on garden plants. it's the first year in dc that i've had a real garden space to play in and so i'm giving into some of my garden fantasies. deep purple, and pink roses, delphinium, foxglove, echinacea, phlox, liatris spicata, monarda, ascleplias, hydrangea, snapdragon, and impatients. i planned out my planting space and spent the morning on saturday putting everything in the ground before the rain started up. here's hoping for some warm, sunny days later this week.

* spending time with church friends. church is just good for my soul and makes me happy.

* good conversation with a couple of truly brave friends who are working hard to make change in their lives. it's so inspiring to talk with these women and hear their faith and hope in being better, healthier and happier. love you two lovely ladies.

* i miss my mom. i had such a fun visit with her and it makes me smile knowing that she got to see my home and a bit of my life. i like knowing she knows where i am now.

Friday, April 20, 2012

national gardens

Mom and I visited the US Botanic Gardens.

Stunning outdoor displays

and beautiful indoor displays.

The orchid exhibition there is gorgeous right now.

These green ones look like some kind of dragon to me.
They're one of my favorite orchid varieties.

The jungle room.

Glimpses of the beauty found in the Children's Garden.

We then walked across the street to Bartholdi Gardens.

This little guy wasn't afraid of us at all.

I want to recreate this planter box someday.

I love gardens and so does my Mom. 
She can usually tell you what a plant is without even looking at the sign.
I think I get my green thumb from her. 

I remember asking her for my own corner of garden so that I could plant the flowers I wanted. Amazingly, she let me do it, although she probably wound up doing more of the feeding and watering than I did.
Thanks Mom!

model ships

Mom and I spent some time at the US Naval Academy Museum.
We were there and heard the ship's models were pretty cool, and they are.

They have quite a collection.

There is a whole collection of model ships made by French sailors who were prisoners of war of Great Britain. I'm not sure which war, but it was during the late 1700s. They used bones from their food make the models, like these two here above and below.

Dad, we saw this ship, the HMS Victory, while in Portsmouth, England.
It was cool to see this model, and yes it was made by French sailors too.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

thoughtful thursday: learning heaven

This week's thought is long, but worth it. I've been struggling to understand grace and this sermon really helped me.

... don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.” Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?

Too many are giving up on the Church because they are tired of constantly feeling like they are falling short. They have tried in the past, but they always feel like they are just not good enough. They don’t understand grace.

In all of these cases there should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13).

Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The Savior’s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to ‘after’ all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during and after the time when we expend our own efforts” (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 155). So grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch (see Hebrews 12:2).

Click here to download the entire sermon: His Grace Is Sufficient, Brad Wilcox, 12 July 2011, BYU Speeches

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


So, I have trust issues. While I've made great headway on this over the years, I still have more work to do. The other day I was with a friend, who kept teasing that he was going to throw me in the water, and this made me nervous. I knew he was teasing, but there was this big part of me that kept thinking he really would do it.

I really wanted to trust him. So, when he finally looked at me, and said that he wouldn't throw me in the water, I deliberately made the choice to believe him. I said to him, "Alright, I trust you," and believed it. Then I started to laugh--I laughed so hard, my knees went weak and I thought I was going to have an accident. I was letting go of being distrustful and latching onto the truth, and laughing because it felt so good to feel that pure trust. It was a good moment.

I've discovered that often trust is an intentional decision. Sometimes trust is organic and natural with no questions asked. Other times, it must be earned or decided. It's a fine line between fine line trusting too much and being deceived and disappointed, and not trusting enough and being closed to forming a connection or loving fully. Dr. Frank Crane, a Presbyterian minister, captured this dilemma perfectly when he wrote, "You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough."

Trusting someone means being vulnerable, which means being open to disappointment and hurt when the trust is broken. It also means being open to happiness and joy, when the trust is deepened. It can also mean being open to love. 

As for me, I choose love.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

things that made me smile this week

* i'm back to playing the piano regularly again, because i had it tuned last monday. it sounds so good and puts the joy back in my heart.

* a late dinner and walk around the harbor in annapolis with a friend. what a lovely evening.

* gardening is so much fun. and a little time outside in the evenings is enough to make smile each night.

* i keep re-listening to the sermons from lds general conference. in particular, i'm loving this one from Elder Uchtdorf, it's just beautiful. and this one from Elder Andersen has really got me thinking. very good stuff.

* i cooked a lot of food this past weekend. i made all sorts of yummy things and shared with people in my life who are experiencing some major life milestones, some happy (a premature baby coming home from hospital) and some sad (the loss of a spouse after 46 years of marriage). i had so much fun cooking. it really is one of my joys in life.

* i hosted a potluck for the singles from my church and included the missionaries as well. good food and company. my newly tuned piano was put to good use by one of the missionaries who plays beautifully.

* playing the piano and singing with my young friend darius, who was recently accepted into the royal academy of music in london. may all your dreams come true.

* movie night with a good friend. salmon fishing in the yemen is a charming and funny film with a good heart. i highly recommend it. emily blunt and ewan mcgregor are perfectly cast and delightfully awkward.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

the us naval academy

Mom and I spent a couple of days in Annapolis at the US Naval Academy.

One of the chapel windows. 
They all depict a sea-themed scripture.

Windows by Tiffany...
Yes, that Tiffany.

The John Paul Jones Crypt.
Honoring the man who said in response to a taunt from the British,
"I have not yet begun to fight." And then he proved it.

Camellias in bloom

A front view of the chapel

Navy Chief! Navy Pride!

Midshipmen at midday formation, getting ready to march into lunch.

A model of the Wright Brothers Flyer B in Dahlgren Hall.

Mom caught me at work.

We had a lot of fun together. It was nice to share a bit of my life with my mom.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

thoughtful thursday: but i'm not

“When he was a child, the Seer of Lublin (later a famous Hasidic master) used to go off into the woods by himself. When his father, worried, asked him why, he said “I go there to find God.” His father said to him, ”But my son, don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?” “God is” said the boy, “but I’m not.”

~Rabbi David Wolpe

via the power of introverts 

Monday, April 9, 2012

things that made me smile this week

* my mom was here for an entire week visiting me! i loved having her here and hanging out with her. it was fun to show her a bit of my life and some of the places i love in dc.

* while the japanese cherry blossoms around the tidal basin were gone. the rest of the city was in full bloom, so mom got her fill of springtime flowers and blossoming trees. and i got my fill of tree pollen allergies.

* a visit to the national gallery to retrace the quick tour for my sister who lost all her photos when she was here. others highlights from that visit include:

Georges de la Tour, The Repentant Magdalene
the light is even more stunning in person.

Desiderio da Settignano, The Christ Child(?)
this is pretty much how i always imagined he looked. 

Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flowers in a Basket and a Vase
 i just love the dutch masters and their still life flowers.

Claude Monet, The Artist's Garden at Vetheuil
it was fun to see the original with my mom,
because i had a poster of this on my wall  for years while growing up.

* standing in a room full of monet's paintings and realizing that i have seen all the places he painted in that room: london, venice, rouen and giverny in france. i got tears in my eyes as i contemplated the paintings and felt so very blessed to have been there.

* a walk through the navy memorial courtyard. mom stood on the map in utah and i stood in dc, and we waved at each other. goofy fun!

* a brilliant and lively performance of 1776 at ford's theater. it was a fun performance and the museum was really cool. we watched a very moving exhibit which featured a video with all the living presidents reciting the gettysburg address. mom and i both enjoyed it very much.

* oh, and the harvest cookies from pret a manger are to die for. mom wanted to go back for more.

* eastern market on saturday mornings is the best. mom loved all the produce, flowers, and plants on display. she had fun looking at the pashminas, jewelry and art as well. we had pretzel dogs with nacho cheese for dipping and fresh lemonade with raspberries for lunch while sitting in the sun on a park bench, and people watching.

* lds general conference was really great (it always is). it was fun to listen with mom all weekend long.

* GELATO! i love this stuff, and now mom does too. she actually asked to have it for dinner on her last night in town. her eyes got really big and excited with her first taste.

* an evening walk around the monuments. mom loves doing this and we spent sunday evening walking around the monuments and talking. it was great.

* annapolis in the spring time is stunning, especially at the naval academy. i took mom to work with me on a couple of days. we toured the chapel and crypt, memorial hall, and the museum. we had lunch with the midshipmen--imagine over 4,000 midshipmen are seated and served their lunch within 10 minutes. she met my boss and forgot to ask him for a photo with me. (yes, mom, i will get one for you.) we had fun.

* a day spent at arlington national cemetery. the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. pres. kennedy's grave. arlington house which was the home of gen. robert e lee. a very beautiful, but tiring day.

* mom likes eating at: ted's bulletin--the grilled cheese and tomato soup is totally yummy. good stuff eatery--colletti's smokehouse burger with applewood bacon, sharp cheddar, onion rings and chipotle barbecue sauce,  an order fries and a milky way malt shake to split was the perfect lunch. pitango gelato--the pear is to die for and the pistachio is heavenly. and she likes my asparagus couscous.

* the botanic garden and bartholdi gardens across the street are a-bloom. the orchid display is stunning. we spent a fun afternoon checking out all the plants and flowers.

* a fun dinner at home with friends who were helping my mom learn to use her kindle. i love impromptu cooking for small gatherings.

* putting my mom on a plane to go home doesn't make me smile, but i had to smile this time as i watched her wheel away, because i was so glad she came. traveling by herself is a pretty big deal, because she needs lots of help to lift her luggage and get around. all the attendants who help her are so polite and nice, that i know she's in good hands. when she arrived in dc, she allowed herself to be wheeled out to meet me, because she wanted to save her energy for a walk with me around town. she told me that she just sat down, and put a smile on her face so that people would smile back at her. i love my mom's spunkiness!

* spending the afternoon in baltimore harbor with a good friend. we were goofy and laughed all afternoon as we toured old ships and the national aquarium. good times.

* an afternoon spent helping a friend mow her lawn, followed by shopping, a late lunch and great conversation. a good saturday!

* resurrection sunday. easter sunday. what a happy day! 

* i attended an easter dinner and birthday party at the home of some good friends here on capitol hill. it was so much fun. i have attended several holiday dinners there over the past three years and am now considered part of the family. it was fun to catch up with everyone and celebrate easter along with pablito's birthday. plus, i got a marshmallow cookbook with lots of yumm-i-ness inside.

What a great couple of weeks!


Mom, loves the wysteria. It smells heavenly.

Not sure what these pink blossoming trees are, but they are everywhere and so beautiful.

The only cherry blossoms we saw... (Okay, not true, but very cute.)

Mom loved the color on this block.

Here's a close up.

And another. Azaleas have taken over in DC.

Gorgeousness abounds! Happy Spring.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

a 45 minute tour of the national gallery for my sister becky

In 2010 when my sister and parents came out for a visit, my sister's camera was giving her fits and she lost a lot of photos she had taken one day. It's rare that I see my sister cry, and she was super upset that day. So, when Mom was here we went back to the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art and re-traced Becky's tour using this guide for a 45 minute tour, which sends you to the highlights.

Fra Angelico and FraFilippo Lippi, The Adoration of the Magi
Leonardo da Vinci, Ginerva de' Benci

Raphael, The Niccolini-Cowper Maddona
Rogier van der Weyden, Portrait of a Lady
Rembrandt van Rijn, The Mill
Johannes Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres,
Madame Moitessier
Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Shaw Memorial
Childe Hassam, Allies Day
Vincent Van Gogh, Self Portrait
Paul C├ęzanne, The Peppermint Bottle
Claude Monet, Rouen Cathedral, West Facade, Sunlight
And that, my dear sister, is the 45 minute tour.
Mom wanted to do this for you. I was more than happy to comply.
It was a fun afternoon with her in the museum. 
It brought back memories of London.