Saturday, December 31, 2011

Let's Talk Resolutions!

As noted in Hilary's previous post, 2011 rocked for the Lemons! We married in April, and had a whirlwind eight months of matrimony. Now, 2012 is rearing its ugly glare, so it's time to make some resolutions!
Yea! Resolutions! A word synonymous with "failure to launch," "the gym's how far away?" "reading's hard!" and my personal favorite (I actually spelled favourite, but Blogger's spell check is not an anglophile) "What's a resolution?"
Now, we all know that the Internet is a place of certainty, and what's registered here is assured (my attempt at written wit). So, without further ado, a list of proverbial resolutions, with mid term goals to help me achieve:
Lose Some Weight: I went on record earlier tonight saying "Life's too short for diets." Not a good combination for slimming down. Since April, I've gained about thirty pounds. I first noticed a need to change when, as a joke, I shimmied for Hilary. And my man boobs (couldn't think of a more appropriate term. Leave suggestions in the comments) complied with the laws of physics! So, my goal is to lose 20-5 pounds this year.
-Mid term goals: Eat more vegetables and fruits than meat and dairy. This sounds easy, but I live in the heart of Texas. There's a barbecue shop at every corner, adjacent to the First Baptist Church. But, this is doable. A cautionary tale: Sauteeing green beans in butter, and sprinkling bacon salt on them does not count towards this goal. It's a delicious sham!
-Exercise: For the record, I hate the word exercise, in all its various definitions or functions. I don't like physical exercise, exercises in mathematics, or exercises in another, even funnier form. Maybe if I disguise it. I used to: it was called soccer, a delightful game which concealed a lot of running. I don't have time to take that up, but I think I can fool myself into running, by focusing on the scenery. That might do it: I'll get back to you on this.
Almost Finish My Masters Program: I finished the first semester of my Masters' program, and I have to say, I'm terrified. In the past four months, I have learned that I don't know anything. I feel like a fraud, that one day the professors and fellow students will discover my lower middle class heritage, and will banish me to working the What-a-Burger grill (a fate that will not help me lose weight: see above resolution). Yet, here I am, readying myself for round two. The goal is 33 hours, leaving the MA exam (written and oral), a creative writing class, and possibly a dissertation for Spring 2013.
-Present at Conferences: Something that will help me most in the "I'm not a fraud" category will be presenting at an academic conference. I have two abstracts ready and sent, but I will be checking out UPenn's CFP site for more opportunities. A side note: These conferences are not only chances to network and stay on the cutting edge of research, but I also can travel! Who wouldn't want to go to Ohio State for a hip hop conference, or Oxford for a video game symposium?
-Publish Something: I will be submitting poems, flash fictions, short stories, etc., with the hopes of seeing my name in print. I really need validation (I'm a narcissist like that). Another reason to attend those conferences is that I could possibly publish my paper in an academic journal. So, this goal means I'll be writing more in the upcoming months and years.
-Doctoral Programs: I need to find ten schools to apply for PhD programs. At the moment, I have these schools in mind: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Oregon, UT-Austin, Indiana, UNC, and UPenn. Most of these universities have an early deadline date, and I have to apply, in faith that I will be on track to getting my MA.
Other Goals:
-Spend an hour of quality time with Hilary: We see each other a lot, that Hilary and I. Yet, I feel the time we spend together could be better used. You know, instead of watching Hulu, we could have meaningful conversations, walks, or explorations of South-Central Texas.
-Explore South-Central Texas: Let's face, I already mentioned this. We are only in San Antonio for as long as my graduate program takes. After that, it's on to another school. Let's take advantage of this time. The weather works in our favor (air conditioning on Dec. 31?), so why not go to the Missions? Or see why Castroville has to offer?
Those questions will hopefully be answered in time, but Hilary is calling for me to go to bed. Happy New Year from the Lemons, and expect more from us in 2012 (barring meteors or Mayan calendars).

2011 in review.

What didn't we do this year?

Mike and Hilary:
got engaged
eight weeks later, got married
graduated from BYU with our BAs in English
moved to San Antonio
were accepted into graduate programs
spent our first Christmas together (last year we were on different continents!)

Mike:
started his MA in English
enjoyed endured his first (and last) job-less semester of school

Hilary:
completed an internship with the Friend
became a Texan
sent her parents off on their mission

The list may be short, but the items are doozies. 2011 treated us well, and we look forward to more adventures (and mishaps, I'm sure) in 2012.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

End of the Year Book List: Hilary Edition

Woot, lists! Good idea, Mikey.

So I'll get these first few out of the way:

Bossypants, Scott Pilgrim. The Pleasure of My Company (a reread, er, listen, for me). Oscar Wao. Ditto what Mike said about those.

It's embarrassing, but I've had to go back to my Goodreads and look over what I've read this year. Heeere we go, my list of recommendations for 2011.

Clementine series, by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee. For fans of Ramona Quimby, check out this 21st-century third-grader. I hope we have a kid like Clementine: messy, weird, creative, and spunky. It was so nice to have a young reader series about good values without the cookie cutter feel of Dick and Jane. Clementine comes from a loving family, with parents who love each other and their children AND their jobs. And they face legitimate problems; none of that "I can't find my dolly!" dilemma set that no one buys.

Pretty much anything by Marla Frazee. I'm a little obsessed with her. Marla, I bolded your name, y'hear? Recommended reads include Roller Coaster, a cute book ostensibly about one kid riding a roller coaster, though each page shows the experiences of every last person in line for the ride. Frazee is subtle; you have to pick up one of her books to understand how hilarious she is. I'd also recommend Boss Baby, and Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages. It's literally a guide on walking for babies, but it reads like a self-help book for a middle-aged man, a la the old-school Goofy shorts (How to Drive, How to Golf, etc.). Check out Marla Frazee. She's a delight.

Binky series, by Ashley Spires. Oh my. Get ready to wet yourself a little. Binky is a cat. And he is 100%, all-cat. And he goes to space. So.

I also have to recommend Small Saul by Spires as well. Saul is enchanted with the sea, but when he tries to enlist in the navy, he's dismiss because he's too short. So he becomes a pirate instead. In his own way.

I've also been on a self-sufficiency/homesteading kick. These books all talk about the same subjects: kitchen gardens, animal husbandry, home dairies, etc. My favorite reads in this category include the Homemade Living series by Ashley English, the Storey's Guide series, and The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It  by John Seymour.

A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove by Laura Schenone. A (not totally) academic look at the history of women in relation to food cultivation, preparation, and culture in America. Schenone starts at the beginning. Literally. Like, creation myths. So, it was thorough. And very informative. I loved all the artifacts she included. Lots of great old ads and product labels.

I'm not finished reading yet, but I've been working on The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I also read Reading Lolita in Tehran this year, but I had a hard time working with the author's philosophies. She bugged me, honestly. But with the courage and frankness of a child, Satrapi communicates with much more facility the reality of the Islamic Revolution. Her sense of humor is at once moving and snarky and clever and devastating. It's one of those great reads that is too good to put down, but every page haunts or shocks me. Or makes me laugh out loud in the bathroom.

Looking over my list, I feel like a spastic reader. And I feel like I read more grown-up books this year. Didn't I? It was a goal (unofficial, though) for this year. Epic FAIL. But no regrets.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

End of the Year List: Books

Since my youth, I have always wanted to make lists. You know, like VH1 before they went to the Dark Side (Tool Academy, (fill in the blank) Wives, etc.). So, starting this year, I'm going to make lists!
This week's list happens to be my favorite books from this year. For my undergrad and graduate program, I read upwards of fifty books this year. And that was just for class! That number does not include the books I read in my spare time. So, here's a list of my 15 favorite books from this year (in no particular order)

Mrs. Palmfrey at the Claremont (Elizabeth Taylor): A charming novel about Mrs. Palmfrey, a widowed Senior Citizen who moves into the Claremont, an assisted living facility, and her relationship with Ludo, a young man who poses as her son. The book explores the relationships that can be made across generation lines. Has been adapted into a delightful movie starring Joan Plowright and Rupert Friend (though the book's better).

Scott Pilgrim series (Brian Lee O'Malley): As most of you know, I'm a sucker for comics, video games, music, and short hair. I'm also one of those pretentious people who will say the book is much better than the movie. In the case of Scott Pilgrim, the above statement emphatically applies. O'Malley spends six volumes getting the reader into the complicated relationship of Scott and Ramona, and there are insights into the kind of lives most people my age live. The movie is good for what it is (Michael Cera), but I recommend the book.

Song of Solomon (Toni Morrison): I read this book for two classes, and I am surprised each time with how powerful a novel SoS is. The characters are well developed, and the explorations into the human experience are incredible. If I were to recommend a Morrison novel to someone looking to read her work, my recommendation would be Sula (to get a grasp of her style and tone), then Song of Solomon.

The Pleasure of My Company (Steve Martin): Hilary and I listened to the audio book of this novel: Steve Martin performed it. It was hilarious and dangerous. Several times we had to stop the car, we were laughing so hard.

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life (Steve Martin): Two books from a comedian? Why yes, they are that good. Martin's comic memoir details his theories into his stand up, and I highly recommend his observations to anyone interested in comedy, how it functions, and how today's stand up comedians are indebted to Steve Martin.

A Girl Named Zippy (Haven Kimmel): Recommended for anyone who grew up in a small town. Kimmel's memoir is skillfully written, and the way she address difficult subjects is not so much an adult reflecting back. Rather, she envisions those times through her younger self, a move which allows the reader to reflect on how much children perceive.

The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd): This has been on my Goodreads waiting list for a few years, so when I picked up a copy at a library book sale, I immediately went to reading it. Kidd does a good job showing the politics of Civil Rights Era South Carolina (although I know there was a good amount of criticism about a white author telling the story of black women. similar to The Help's criticism). There was a movie produced, but it is not recommended, because I thought the casting was not well thought out, i.e., I did not see Queen Latifiah as August.

O, Pioneers (Willa Cather): Any novel that creates in me a desire to move to Nebraska must make this list!

Bossypants (Tina Fey): The only book published this year, Fey's memoir was another delightful experience for Hilary and I. Not wanting to read the book before the other, we decided to read it to each other. What happened usually boiled down to the one reading giggling/laughing so uncontrollably that the other started laughing, in mere anticipation of the joke. Plus, the memoir spawned the greatest Halloween costume to never hit the shelves: Don Fey. He's one bad motha!

Brother, I'm Dying (Edwidge Danticat): Danticat's moving tale of her father and uncle's deaths and her first daughter's birth makes for one of the best new books about American immigration (and its complications) in the last decade. Danticat's prose rolls smoothly on the page, and as noted above, the true story is one that ought to be told and remembered.

Domestic Work (Natasha Tretheway): A collection of poetry from Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Tretheway. The poems are clear and image packed. Tretheway employs plenty of ekphrasis poems, poems in which she uses photographs to construct her poems. Tied for my favorite collection of the year, with...

A Mayan Astrologer in Hell's Kitchen (Martin Espada): Espada's poems are a beauty to look at. The topics are interesting, and the title's crazy good. This collection of poems is for people who don't like poetry.

The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears (Dinaw Mengestu): Another contemporary immigration narrative that works. Mengestu's novel follows the life of Sepha Stephanos, and his move to Washington DC. Plus, the novel has one of the craziest trivia games I have heard of (it involves African dictators, the date of their coups, and the country involved).

World War Hulk (Greg Pak and John Romita, Jr.): I finally read the story arc involving Hulk's return to revenge the death of his wife. The amount of damage he does to Manhattan is frighteningly drawn by Romita. Pak's story is well thought out, with the surprise twist at the end. Plus, it makes this list because I love the Hulk (and if you don't, then I might turn green and smash YOU!).

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz): 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner. Diaz employs footnotes, citations from fantasy and comic books, and multiple narrators in a novel which blends Oscar and his family's cursed lives with the Trujillo moment in the Dominican Republic. It is not a novel for those who do not like foul language.

There you have it. Leave your choices for favorite books this year in the comments. Hilary, it's your turn to post some of your favorite books from this year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

In Defense of the Season: A Tale of Two Falls

When I read Hilary's previous post on the lack of a fall, I was dismayed. I agree with most of her statements, yet I feel I must say a few words for the "strangest fall" either of us have experienced. (Another preface to this post: I am not from San Antonio. Texas, if you remember your rudimentary American geography, is the second largest state in the US. Where I grew up is a six hour drive from where we live now.)

No leaves turned. This is true in San Antonio, which to me is a weird ecosystem where oaks and other deciduous trees live side by side with various cacti. A note on the weather: the weather is warmer than we are accustomed to. However, I think the weather should be placed into this year's historically hot context (read the link). If you don't read it, know that it was HOT this summer. Upwards of 100+ for days on end. So for me, when it gets as high as the 80's, it's uncomfortably warm for November, but also significantly cooler than the summer.
I reminds me, just a little, of being a missionary for our church. I served for two years in Mozambique, and my first experiences in the country happened around Christmas time. Now, because it is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed. So, imagine my surprise to wake up Christmas day, the sun up at 4:30 AM, the day's temperature quickly rising to the mid-90's, no Christmas trees (a palm tree seemed a nice alternative!). It certainly was an eye-opener.

No desire for "fall" foods. I guess we haven't baked many pumpkin pies, or had our lion's share of hot chocolate. Once again inciting the warmer weather, maybe our climate clocks did not go out for these food items. Yet, Texans and some of their businesses have thought this through. Blue Bell, which I believe makes the best ice cream in the nation (if not world), rolled out holiday flavors. One of them, Spiced Pumpkin Pecan, melted our hearts. While it is ice cream, this flavor was warm to the taste: it must have been the spices. And we did eat our fair share of pie at Thanksgiving, which brings me to another point...

None of the old Thanksgiving traditions. Thanksgiving was a blast at Merrimack! It was nice to visit with family, and for Hilary, it was her first time meeting these relatives. The food was excellent, and included a mesquite-smoked turkey (a family tradition). I had such a good time, that I did not stop to think whether it was the same for Hilary. I did not know her family listened to the Carpenters Christmas Album or Nat King Cole. I suppose she didn't know my mom likes to bake Christmas breads, and make hot cocoa. We both didn't stop to think of my friend Parker's family's tradition of making gingerbread houses Thanksgiving night.

What I am getting at is all family's have different holiday traditions. As Hilary and I are newly married, we have an opportunity to institute our own. I like the idea of having Christmas music in the kitchen (might I suggest the John Denver-Muppets Holiday Special?), while we bake and prepare a Thanksgiving meal. Hilary hasn't mentioned it, but she made a Christmas wreath for our door. Wouldn't that be a wonderful tradition for us and our kids? While there are rarely (and I mean very rarely) snow flurries in San Antonio, the town still strings up the lights, plays the music (did you know a radio station here started playing Christmas music at least two weeks before Thanksgiving? I mean, 24-hours!), and gets into the Christmas spirit. Next week, Hilary and I will go downtown, to see the Riverwalk's lights. Hopefully, we will remember a camera for the occasion.

What are some suggestions for holiday traditions? How can we make the season feel like Fall or Christmas?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fall: the good, the bad, and the meh.

This is Hilary. Solo. I shall not speak for my husband in this post. For he is a southerner.

This has been the strangest fall of my life. Because it wasn't fall. Even today I had to chuck my sweater due to the temperature spike we seem to have every afternoon. I love you, San Antonio, but this ain't no fall.

No leaves turned. In fact, most leaves went from dead brown to vibrant green with the rainfall we waited for all summer.

No real desire for "fall" foods. It's not cold. No one wants hot chocolate and pumpkin pie. Well, I mean, if you set it in front of me, I'd eat it, but it's still pushing 80 outside.

None of the old Thanksgiving traditions. Turkey day was still wonderful; the extended Lemon family hosted a great lunch out at Merrimack, the family property in Winnsboro. And it was nice. Truly. And some of the trees out there looked a little yellow, so that helped invite some fall feelings. But it still wasn't my mom's Thanksgiving. It wasn't a day spent with my family in the kitchen, listening to the Carpenters Christmas Portrait and the Nat King Cole Christmas album on my parents' record player. And that made me feel a little depressed.

Total apathy in the face of Christmas decorating. We have no money. Really. So Christmas decor is out, plus we'll be out of town for 10 days this month, including Christmas, so there's really no point.

And still, I miss it. Whatever "it" is.

I don't miss the places. I don't miss the things. I just miss the magical feeling that was the holiday season of my childhood: crisp air, snow flurries, a world in hibernation, anticipation. I miss being little, when the holidays stretched luxuriously in front of me, instead of speeding by with little recognition.

Meh.

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Callings

Mike and I love our ward (local LDS congregation) here in San Antonio. We have made some wonderful friends and have been given many opportunities to serve in the ward. Mike was recently called to be a ward missionary, which means he'll work every week with the full-time missionaries (in our case, we have two elders serving in our town) while they teach those not of our faith about what we believe. Mike and I both served missions internationally, so it's been interesting to see how missionaries work in the United States. Even though Mike has a full schedule, he's great about making time to serve. I like having the missionaries around more, too. They bring a great energy and spirit with them. Nothing beats watching them race into our parking lot on their bikes, pumped with the prospect of cold water and tuna sandwiches inside our doors.

I serve in our ward's Relief Society presidency. Because I was new to the area, I was pretty content to sit back and meet people as they felt like introducing themselves. No more! I'm a little overwhelmed trying to match names and faces, but I already feel so bonded to the women in our Relief  Society. We're a diverse group: students, retirees, widows, lawyers, stay-at-home moms of toddlers, stay-at-home moms of teenagers, nurses, park rangers, city planners, writers, music teachers, high school teachers, translators, and on and on. But when we meet, it's like a hundred sisters getting together for a visit. What a great program.

And, to top it off, Mike and I have new callings in this place:
We were asked to serve in the San Antonio Texas Temple as Spanish-speaking ordinance workers. Because of the large Hispanic community here, there are several blocks of time throughout the week that are especially designated to serve the Spanish-speaking population. Mike and I both speak Portuguese because we served in Portuguese-speaking nations, and I studied Spanish in high school and college, but... We definitely have some work to do.

The San Antonio temple is small but features incredible stained glass throughout. The building is literally full of light. I love sitting in any of the rooms and watching the sun play with the different colors and textures of the glass.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

So Hilary, what have you and Mike been up to lately?

What a great question. Thank you so much for asking.

School
Mike has started full+ time at UTSA. Go Roadrunners!

I deferred enrollment at UNT School of Information and Library Science and spent the last month working on a manuscript to submit to a creative writing MFA program. I hesitate to even divulge this, in case it doesn't work out (read: they reject me), but we shall see.

Work
Mike's job is to get good grades. He's solid.

I'm working on some freelance assignments. It is so hard to be my own boss. I should make myself clock in and out. I try setting deadlines. Mixed results. A huge shout-out to the Leon Valley Public Library and the Great Northwest branch of the San Antonio Public Library for providing such wonderful lighting, wi-fi, and air conditioning for my work purposes. Thanks also to the Starbucks baristas in this area who have turned a blind eye when I slip in and stay for hours without buying anything.

Nestifying
I've had fun/driven Mike nuts decorating our little place. It's been fun because I like finding new ideas, but it's been a little maddening because I'm chronically incapable of finishing 50% of the projects I start. My mother-in-law and I have a bunch of projects to finish this week, so I might write a supah craft post soon.

Gardening
When Mom left for her mission in June, Mike and I inherited some seeds she had been holding on to: cilantro, basil, lettuce, dill, chamomile, broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard (a personal favorite), sunflowers, pansies, beets, zucchini, summer squash, and on and on. And, lucky for us, we live in a part of the country where we can garden year round, so I've (obsessively) planned our fall garden.

Mike and I had a mini-garden experience this summer, but we worked with established starts. Starting from seed intimidates me. However, I successfully started two broccoli plants (out of twelve seeds planted in an egg carton... yes, we're poor/thrifty/totally rad) which are now thriving in modified Diet Coke bottles. When they look sturdier, they'll go into our plot at the Leon Valley community garden, where we have a 10'x20' plot. I've got dill and cilantro in more bottle planters, some basil that we moved from Utah (Mike's Budget van buddy), and another batch of basil in a plastic planter my neighbor gave me. The mint I tried to start from a branch of a friend's plant in Utah died, sadly. Our neighbor also gave me some long planters for spinach and lettuce here at the house. The lettuce is starting to sprout! Less than one week! We put some in at the garden too. We also put in a row of broccoli and two rows of Swiss chard at the garden. I'm not sure if anything will grow. A garden buddy gave us some little onions to grow in our plot, so we've got a square of those too.

We also started a composting box (we used one of those big plastic storage bins; Mike drilled holes in it with the tools our neighbor lent us) just outside our patio. We save kitchen scraps and shred junk mail (and old bills, woohoo!) and throw them into the box at the end of the day. Hose it down occasionally, and let the San Antonio sun do the rest.

Gardening is good for us. It makes us get out of bed at normal, grown-up hours (i.e. before 8 am). It's good exercise. We socialize with neighbors. We often take advantage of the garden's location at Rimkus Park and go running on the paved path, hike on the trails, or take Le Pug for a walk. And, for Mike especially, gardening is a very emotional and spiritual experience. I like being one tip-toe closer to self-sustainability.

Eating
We love to cook and eat. Mike worked several years in a restaurant kitchen, and I read cookbooks like novels. When our powers combine, we eat like royalty, even on our student loan/self-employed budget. Mike and I have made some conscious changes in the way we eat. We're trying to make much more of our own food from scratch. I use the famous bread machine and my Kitchenaid wheat grinder attachment to make our own wheat bread. We're getting most of our produce and seafood from our local farmer's market, which meets every Wednesday across from Rimkus. How convenient, you say. Yes, yes it is. Plus, we like investing in community and local growers. Plus, the produce is divine. We still do Bountiful Baskets, although they only come every other week in our area. It's a nice way to save money and supplement the more expensive food market finds.

When I shop at the grocery store, I try to find simple foods: things with few ingredients, that I can actually pronounce. Meat, poultry, and dairy that's been produced humanely (for the animals) and fairly (for the humans). It's more expensive to live this way. However, I feel much more respect for the culinary process when I take more time and yes, more money, to prepare a meal for us. Mike and I have noticed that we eat less. We enjoy the way our food tastes. We savor and appreciate our food more. We get more creative. I still look for coupons on foods we feel good about and try to find ways to save money. I learned how to make my own yogurt (so inexpensive, and saves packaging), which I can use for baking or turn into a cream cheese-like spread or sour cream. Every other week, I slow cook a whole chicken, which lasts us for at least two meals, and use the carcass to make broth.

Can you tell I'm loving this? Yes.

Life is good. We are happy and hopeful and feel so fortunate that we get to spend most of our days together.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fun Facts about Our Trip

We recently moved to San Antonio, and by recent, I mean we moved in a week ago. Here's something interesting things we saw or learned on the way:
  • Miles Traveled: 1620
  • KOA's are really nice. The one in Cortez, Colorado had free showers, electrical hookups, and wi-fi. That night of "roughing it" involved us sitting in our tent, watching Modern Family.
  • There was a synagogue in the middle of New Mexico. It consisted of a double-wide with an Israeli flag, and a sign. It was most impressive.
  • Had a terrific IHOP experience with Nikki. Thank you for your, your aunt, and uncle's hospitality in letting us spend a night in Las Cruces.
  • Between El Paso and San Antonio, there is nothing. Literally. There were a few times when we would try to fill up, and there would be advertisements of gas stations in a few miles. Sadly, Hil (who was driving the Cobalt) found these stations closed, and the towns deserted.
  • A Budget van is economic, but driving one at 80 miles an hour sounds as if the passenger door will rip off at any second. The air conditioning, however, was excellent.
  • Sean Hannity is a bad word. I listened to his program, as he denigrated another man's religion, and blustered his way through no points. I felt the urge to call him up, and call him bad words, but I shan't waste my breath on him or his types. And if you are reading this, my conservative friends, rest assured I feel this way about any political pundit. They are the poison we listen too.
  • The drought in Texas is awful. Estimated losses are in the billions for the agriculture sector. Something to think about.
  • Hil's contribution: It's freaky driving through El Paso, and seeing the Mexican side of the border. The difference is stark.
  • Another Hilary contribution: Southern Utah is still incredibly beautiful. The red rock in Moab was bursting when we drove past it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Because I love her...

I'll go dumpster diving. That's right, ladies and gentleman (there has to be at least one gentleman who reads this blog, right?), I went dumpster diving with Hilary a few weeks ago. If not for our move to San Antonio (more blog posts about this forthcoming), this would have been posted sooner. But better late than never, right? So, without further ado, here for your enjoyment: The Colander Story.
It was a normal afternoon. Hilary and I had just a few short days before the move. Hilary had just finished her final exam, and was now a graduate from BYU. To celebrate, we headed up to Pleasant Grove to eat at the Purple Turtle, because nothing says fancy better than a purple turtle. Our trip also meant a stop in Alpine to look at some computers and check on Sammy, the pug we would take down to Texas. After eating some decent burgers, we were headed to Alpine to finish our trip. This was when the adventure started.
We turned onto Ridge towards Hil's home, casually noticing the garbage cans lining the road. Jack FM was playing a classic eighties song which seemed to stage the scene as if we were in a John Hughes film. We went around a corner when she spotted it: a yellow colander crowning the top of a garbage bag, a treasure among the unseemly.
A sharp inhale of breath preceded, "Mike, did you see that colander in the trash? It's just the color for our kitchen."
"That's nice, Hil," I said, taking a sip of my fruit punch.
"It didn't look broken," Hilary continued, "let's go back and take it."
I laughed. "Dumpster diving? In Alpine? What will the neighbors think?"
Undeterred, Hilary said, "Nevermind. I'll just swing the car around (for some reason, people find it strange that Hilary does most of the driving in this relationship. That's for two reasons: 1. She's the better driver. And 2. I'm lazy, so it works for both of us), and you can pick it up for us."
The plan seemed flawless: Hilary would get us close enough for me to grab the colander. That was the plan, until we came car to garbage truck with... the garbage men. They were two houses down from the prized kitchen piece. Rhetorical questions about neighbors aside, I wondered to myself, "Will Hilary still want the trash strainer?"
She did. "There's the garbage truck," I said.
"Well, we'll have to get there before them," she answered, pulling the car around in front of the truck. She didn't get close enough to the can. I opened the door, taking the few steps to claim the yellow colander.
It was, well, something. The perfect yellow was rusting on the perforated bottom. A handle swung from its spot, and the entire thing gave a faint odor of its former thrown out abode.
"It stinks," I said as we drove to the in-laws. "And one of the handles is messed up."
"It doesn't stink. We'll wash it up at the house. Besides, it's a project."
I have come to a knowledge that project is a key term in marriage. When something doesn't go right, or doesn't look well, or isn't progressing as fast as one would like, simply shrug a shoulder, and say, "It's a project."
We took this project to the house. After washing it, Hilary said, "You're right: it does stink a little, and the rust is bad... I don't think we can fix this handle."
"Do you want to keep it?" I asked.
"I'll tell you in a minute," she said pensively, studying it.
A few deliberating moments later found the discarded colander back in the trash. If there's a moral to this story, I haven't the faintest idea what it is. Maybe, "One man's trash is another's eventual trash," while "The Circle of Life" blares from speakers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We've been adventuring lately.

As our time in Utah quickly comes to a close, we're realizing that the likelihood of knocking everything off our large bucket list is slim.

But we're fitting in a few things. Mike's a humongonormous soccer fan, so a Real Salt Lake game was on the docket. I was really impressed with the stadium and the enthusiastic fans. If we had were more time here, we'd definitely come back. We parked at Jordan High School nearby and rode a free shuttle over. Everything was smooth, smooth, smooth.

It sprinkled on us. Yes, a cool rain. In July. In Utah!

Happy day!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pork Recipe

I don't have a better name for this recipe, but here it goes:
Baked Pork Tenderloin
Ingredients:
2 lbs. Pork Tenderloin
5 Strawberries
1 Peach
1 Mango
1 1/2 Green Onions
4 Garlic Cloves
1 Jalapeno Pepper
2 Banana Peppers
Lime Juice
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Slice strawberries, peach, and mango, and place in an 8x13 pan. Chop green onions (including the white bulb) and garlic, and add to fruit bed. Mince peppers, and mix into fruit and vegetable bed. Add lime juice and olive oil.
3. Pat pork tenderloin with a paper towel, to dry out the exterior. Score the outside with a sharp paring knife, to better allow flavor to enter the meat. Season with salt and pepper, and place on top of bed.
4. Wrap in foil, and cook for 2 1/2 hours for a medium. Take out of oven, and wrap to bring it up to a medium well.
5. Cut and serve the now reduce fruit chutney on top of pork.

Enjoy the recipe and pictures. It's delicious.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baking Bread, according to the Japanese

My sweet husband writes insightful, thought-provoking posts.

I write about food.

And, not to break with tradition, check out a page from the manual for the Hitachi bread machine I inherited from my mom:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dangerous QuickPump

Today I went to Walmart (ahemNecessaryButEvilEmpireahem) to purchase an air pump for our new air mattress, which will take its maiden voyage on our camping stint this weekend. I bought a sturdy-looking rechargeable Coleman QuickPump. And it works fine, don't get me wrong.

However, I was a little alarmed by the following tag attached to the power cord:

WARNING: The power cord on this product contains lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.


I don't know what's more alarming, that my air pump power cord will give me cancer and deform my unborn children, or that this cord looks exactly a dozen other power cords lying around the house. Or that only the State of California knows that lead causes cancer?

The whole thing is quite confounding.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Airing Some Dirty Laundry

I grew up with brothers, and a mother who did not discuss the unmentionables of feminine life. So, imagine the culture shock of marriage, and learning about the underwire of feminine living.

For example, I walked into our bedroom last night, and began clearing our bed of the day's discarded clothes (for the record, we're not slobs. The clothes made their way to their respective destinations: the bed was a way station on their journeys). I found: two blouses, a pair of pants, a sports bra, a regular bra, and a pair of gym shorts. The gym shorts were mine. As I sorted the clothes to their bins or closets, I began thinking about the laundry we bring to our marriage.

I am still learning what it means to be a husband. When we were married (as married folks will agree), I was not instantly changed into a husband. Instead, I am still Mike Lemon, only now heaven and earth recognize my marriage. The change in thought and being is a process I become more aware of each passing day. And yes, I recognize that Hilary and I have been married for only a few weeks, but the thought is pervasive. "How can I become a better husband? How can I support Hilary, as a woman and as a wife?"

In my senior seminar, I have studied the work of Toni Morrison. In class discussion, I have learned about role reduction: when a person reduces their life to one role in life. For many of Morrison's female characters, they sacrifice strong female friendships for marriage, individuality for motherhood, healthy relationships for unhealthy sexual relations. Many of the ills found in Morrison's novels can be traced back to characters being reduced to one role. While I concern myself with being a good husband, I also understand how important developing other roles is: being a good priesthood leader, an academic, a man, a brother, a provider, etc.

So, what does this mean for Hilary? I tell her how important individual goals are, and how proud I am when she pursues them. But do you think? What are ways you have developed your sense of self, while being a mother or a wife? What can you teach me and Hil about roles in marriage?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Today's Bountiful Baskets Spoils

5 lbs. small yellow potatoes
9 yellow onions
2 tomatoes
6 ears of corn
1 head of romaine
1 head/stalk of celery (not sure what you call this, actually!)
2 lbs. grapes
1 lb. strawberries
5 apples
1 cantaloupe
5 bananas

Still leftover from last time, I have a teensy bit of romaine and 2 ears of corn.

What should we make?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writer's Block

I've been staring at a mess of words for an hour now.

Well, that's not entirely true. I stopped to bake. And do the dishes from dinner. And vacuum. And clean the kitchen floor.

So now I'm back at the computer. I'm supposed to be working on my application to Vermont College's MFA. Somehow when I have no incentive to write, I'm prolific. But as soon as I have a lot riding on 25 measly pages, my mind locks up.

This blog is a no-incentive, high-satisfaction medium for me, so here we meet again.

Let's begin with a Bountiful Baskets update:

Blackberry-Banana-Mango Shakes
Thanks Mike, for making it look pretty!

I've recently come into some food storage items, which has been another fun food challenge for us. I made these shakes with
1 mango (BB),
1 banana (BB),
about 1/2 c. blackberries (BB),
1/3 c. powdered milk (food storage),
1/2 c. water (the sink, hehe...),
1 can of tropical fruit plus its lite syrup (food storage),
1 c. ice
and a tiny splash of vanilla.
I modified this recipe a bit from the back of the powdered milk box. They were yummy! Next time, I'd add a little honey and freeze all the fruit before hand. The shake was shake-y, but I'd have preferred an icier texture.

My mom also gave me her old bread machine. She's had it for a long time, and it's always made really great bread. She also gave me tons of bread mixes! On Monday, I whipped up some cinnamon raisin bread. I love the bread machine: throw in the mix, the yeast, and the water, and 4 hours and 10 minutes later culinary magic yields a beautiful loaf of nice, dense bread. I was worried that the yeast might be too old, so I used a fresh packet.

Today, I decided to experiment with the mixes as they were and made some Hawaiian sweet bread without replacing the yeast packet with fresh yeast. Lesson learned! The bread had a great flavor but was a dense little brick. So I decided to get creative and make bread pudding with a few things I have needed to use up.

Hawaiian Bread Pudding
Sorry for the yucky picture; I am not a photographer, just a foodie.

I made this with
about 2 c. of the sad Hawaiian bread brick cubed (food storage),
about 1/2 c. coconut milk that Mike had sweetened a little while ago with brown sugar,
1/3 c. powdered milk (food storage),
1 c. water,
1/2 tsp. cinnamon,
a little splash of vanilla,
and 1 egg.
I mixed all the ingredients together, saving the bread for last. I let it sit in the fridge for a while, gave it a good toss, and sprinkled it (generously) with brown sugar and a few dots of butter. Baked it for about 35 minutes, until it was bubbly and springy.

Oh. My. Word. I just finished a little bowl, and you better believe I'm going back for more. Bread pudding traditionally has raisins in it (we didn't have any, and I didn't feel like them anyway) and is served with a Bourbon sauce which... yeah, again, didn't exactly have some on hand. The brown sugar makes it alllll okay, but I was really tempted to make a Dr. Pepper sauce. But I didn't feel like any more dishes tonight. Maybe another day.

I also made some stuffed Anaheim peppers. No pictures of that. It's not my fave flavor, but Mikey ate 'em down. We had a little veggie cream cheese hanging around, so I added an egg yolk, lots of grated Monterey Jack, diced green onions I needed to use up, small diced ham, you know, all the good stuff. I served it with refried beans and Summer Corn Fritters from that Jessica Seinfeld cookbook. Yummy-docious.

And I'm on a homemade tomato sauce kick. I didn't realize how easy it is to make! Maybe I'll ramble about that another day.

Several random pieces of completely unrelated news:
  • We're moving to San Antonio in August! Yay to Mike for being an adult and getting into grad school!
  • I started a yoga class today. My body and soul are happy, happy, happy. Today's mantra: PATIENCE.
  • For the first time in my life, I have officially "let myself go" at school. I do what I have to do to get it done. I've just been so busy with life...
  • I've planted four pots with herbs and flowers. They're sitting right outside our front door, and I can't wait to see some little sprouts. I check them every day! Hopefully we'll get to our plot in the ward garden soon.
Okay, it's been another hour. Can I hack it as a writer?

Upcoming: My cousin Kristen's Spinach-Kale Turnovers (hello leftover chard!!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Fruits of Bountiful Basket

Well, lunch was incredible thanks to Bountiful Baskets. I had some spaghetti and ham on hand (my mom got us a ham on sale the day after Easter, and we divided it into plastic bags and froze it; I had a bag defrosting in the fridge), so I decided to make a fresh veggie pasta.

I made a tomato sauce with three tomatoes, an onion, some fresh garlic, a tiny bit of olive oil, and lots of seasoning from an Italian blend spice grinder from Target.

Then I pan-fried some cubed ham, corn from two of the cobs, and four mushrooms. No oil needed because of the ham.

When the spaghetti was cooked, I tossed the sauce, the ham and veggie mixture, and the spaghetti in a big pan, then threw about half the Swiss chard leaves, cut into 1-inch strips, on top. (We're saving the other leaves and stalks for something else, to be determined...) I let the leaves steam covered for a few minutes, then tossed it up again.

We ate it with some Parmesan cheese on top. It was pretty amazing. I wouldn't have thought of these ingredients together without buying through the co-op this week. So that's good.

Still, we think the price is a bit much for us to pay every week, so we're going to try skipping a week and ordering after that. We'll be out of town for Memorial Day weekend, so we couldn't have picked up our food anyway had we ordered for this week.

Next, we're going to try stuffing some Anaheim peppers with cheese, corn, and ham, then breading and baking them. I also want to try to make corn fritters from my new favorite cookbook, Double Delicious. Because Jessica Seinfeld's recipes call for so many purees, I think I might get the huge 25 lb. bag of carrots from BB next time (after price checking, of course!) so that I can whip up a bunch of puree and freeze it.

I'm also thinking about mango-blackberry-banana smoothies. Mmm. We're also making a big green salad tomorrow for dinner with my family.

Okay, enough of my ramblings. Yay for spring veggies!

Come back soon for updates on our plot in our neighborhood garden...

The Great Co-op Experiment

Have you heard of Bountiful Baskets? I first heard about this food co-op last fall, but never acted on it as a single lady and never thought to divide the spoils with a few friends. Oh well. Mike had heard of BB too, and brought it up a few weeks ago. We decided to give it a go, especially as we're trying hard to focus on eating fresh, healthy food.

So we tried to sign up for last week's pick-up, but after only a few short hours, all the Utah county spots were claimed and we had to wait for this week to get on board. It's pretty popular, I guess! We ordered the standard basket for $15, plus a $3 charge for a first time purchase and $1.50 processing fee. You can check out the BB website for all their add-ons.

Now, we had a few reservations. Would we get food we'd actually eat? Would we get enough produce to justify the $19.50? Would the food be good quality? We had heard from Mike's boss that the baskets seemed pretty skimpy, so we had our doubts.

I picked up our "basket" this morning. For the record, they have laundry baskets set up in advance with all the site's orders. I simply showed up, gave them my name, and they showed me my food, which I transferred to my own bags. I love that they avoid extra packaging!

Here's what we got:
You like the cracked walls, right?
3 mangoes
6 bananas
1 cantaloupe
6 Fuji apples
6 oz. blackberries
1 head romaine lettuce
1 bundle Swiss chard
6 ears white corn
8 oz. mushrooms
6 tomatoes
6 Anaheim peppers

My first reaction was, "Eh, this is okay." Of the things in our basket, we only buy apples, romaine, and tomatoes on a regular basis. We usually get bell peppers instead of Anaheim peppers. Everything else we like but don't usually buy.

So we got food we like, but not food we usually buy such as carrots, celery, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, and squash. But Mike and I agree that it's nice to have fresh, locally grown produce and we like the challenge of cooking with unfamiliar foods.

But then of course I get curious... What would we have spent on this food at the grocery store? So I went to three local grocery stores: Smith's (down the street from our house), Macey's (on Bulldog), and Buy Low (a little farther from our house but famous for its cheap produce). These are the three stores where we shop, so I wanted to know what sort of deal we really got with BB.

At Smith's we would have spent $28.49! And that's not including the Swiss chard, which they don't carry. Now, their produce was really pretty. The apples were a little bigger, the mangoes a little riper. The romaine there was smaller. Smith's corn was pretty sad looking. The bananas were super cheap.

At Macey's, we would have spent $30.02, although they were the only store I visited that carried Swiss chard. Macey's also had pretty produce; they have a lot of employees constantly trimming and fussing over the food, making sure it's beautiful. The romaine looked nice, but the cantaloupes were pretty tired.

At Buy Low, we would have spent $18.45, plus whatever Swiss chard would have cost. I checked Buy Low's weekly ads too, since they have produce specials on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but none of our basket items were included in this week's sale. Buy Low definitely had the best deals, but the saddest looking produce. They only had 6 ears of corn in the entire store, but they were pretty nasty. Mangoes were cheap, blackberries were super cheap. The Fuji apples were scary looking, though. Anyway, Buy Low would have been a little cheaper than BB, although they didn't carry Swiss chard, and if we do BB again, we won't pay the first timer fee, so BB would still be cheaper overall.

The big question is whether or not it's still worth it. Just because it's cheaper to buy from BB doesn't necessarily mean we're saving money. If we only buy $10 worth of produce every week anyway, spending $16.50 next week doesn't make much sense. Decisions, decisions...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Because I have a nephew!

I've hesitated to post anything on our blog because, well, who can compete with my sweet husband's amazing twilight post about our impending nuptials? Which went very well, thank you!

In other news, in addition to becoming a married woman, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, and (of course) a wife, I have become an aunt! To one very precocious nephew who's turning six next week. Actually, when we spoke on the phone last week, he told me was five-and-a-half. It seems like he's been five-and-a-half for quite a while. What did he want for his birthday? A guitar and pizza. Boys will be boys.

Anyway, this nephew of mine is smitten with Spongebob Squarepants and Cars. Hence, The Nephew is the lucky recipient of, drum roll...
Okay, okay. So I know these little tied blankets are about the easiest thing on the planet to make, but I'm eager to secure my spot as Favorite Aunt to The Nephew, so something had to be done. So I made a blanket. The end.

It feels good to be an aunt. Now I just have to meet the little guy...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Can't Sleep

It is 4:12 AM, Mountain Standard Time, and as the title reads (not just suggests), I cannot sleep. I woke up bright eyed a little over an hour ago, at 3:06. Such numbers are burned into memory for two reasons: 1) You are awake, and demand to know the time, and 2) At times like these, every detail seems to be above reality.
When I checked the time on my phone, I saw that Hilary had left me a message. Sent at 12:15 AM, it reads, "Oh my gosh, we're getting married! I'm nervous and excited!" Let the record show to Hilary, to you readers, God, and me, that I, too, am nervous and excited. The emotions swirl together, creating an emotional indigestion which only the recording of thought can alleviate.
Keeping with the time conceit, three weeks ago, I found myself sitting on the fourth floor of the Joseph F. Smith Building, wanting to sleep but unable due to an impending paper conference. It was around 10:57 AM, when suddenly I felt a wave of emotion, just like now. I became acutely aware there are children-my children-who are acutely aware of me. I began to pray for them, asking the Father of us all if He will bless Hil and I then with the strength to prepare our lives for them.
Now, it is 4:29 AM. Later today, family and friends will gather to witness and celebrate our marriage. It will be the binding of two families, the beginning of one, and the sealing of generations stretching into the past, present and future. I believe we will see three to four generations together in the same room. I feel the nearness of relatives who have passed on from this life, as well as the spirits of those who will bless our future life together. Some may scoff and say that I'm being sentimental, or I'm tired. Yet, I know it is times like these that extend beyond my comprehension. It is these sleepless hours when meaning is placed onto otherwise meaningless times, and I will regret writing this in the morning, not because it is vain or vulgar, but because such feelings and emotions are filled with the personally sacred.
But for now (4:36 AM), I will post and try to sleep. I'm getting married today.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Some Blessings

There's nothing like tax season to give a couple of lovebirds a jolt of panic and grief. Spring seems to call unto itself minor financial crises.

For example, when you live in a world where $25 equals a week's groceries and your landlord thinks you owe her $25 in additional unpaid fees, your eye starts to twitch and you feel stirrings of rebellion in your heart! (Don't worry, we didn't owe her anything. I rounded up all the receipts and checks to prove that she had messed up her calculations and actually owed me and each of my roommates $8.99. Cha-ching!)

However, we received really great advice from an accounting friend who is also a member of our church. He said, "I've seen a lot of messy, messy accounts. People have money problems when they're not honest with the government, the Lord, or either. By and large, those who pay an honest tithe and fill out their taxes with integrity are just fine."

And we believe that completely. So we have to make some tax payments (ugh), and sometimes it's hard to let go of 10% of our paychecks to tithing, but we know good things will come to us if we do.

For example, I was fortunate enough to win an ORCA grant for some writing I'll be doing for a former employer over the summer. That'll pay our rent for the spring and summer.

Mike got a grant for school this spring. He will finish his undergraduate education with his tuition and health insurance covered.

BYU was kind and flexible and converted my last semester scholarship to cover my spring and summer tuition.

I also found out on Monday that I received honorable mention in an essay contest! If I'm allowed, I'll have to post the essay someday. I know it's going to be published but I'm not sure the rights yet. Still, a nice little chunk of money for our savings account. It'll cover my health insurance for the spring, anyway.

And so even though life is stressful sometimes, and money is a universally huge factor in marital strife, Mike and I feel pretty darn blessed to have received so much when we have given the minimum that is expected of us.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Lumberjane Meets Her Match

Just to get us warmed up here, one of the things I love most about Mike is that he can say something like, "My poops are capricious, cavalier even," and I totally understand what he means.

Yeah. We should probably get married. Or "murried" as mah southern boy likes to say.

So just hours before Mike and I left on our first date (to the movie involving drug-dealing and violence towards unfortunate children), I was possessed with the notion that I was a skilled repurposer, and that I should try to modify a men's XXL shirt I bought at DI into a shirt-dress of sorts. That would look cute, right?

Well, in theory, yes. With my skills? No. Not even close. But I sort of hacked the shirt up and sewed it again. And it was really awful. But my heart was so set on wearing a repurposed shirt that I wore it anyway, with skinny jeans and a large blue sweater. I looked like a lumberjack. Mike is correcting me now: lumberjane. Touche, my friend. Touche.

So that was the first thing I said when he came to pick me up.

Mike: "Hello! Ready to go?"
Me: "Uh so I look like a lumberjack."

It probably didn't go down exactly like that, but it was probably some equally horrific exchange. Mike took me to Thai Mango, a pretty sweet place by Cafe Rio and Olive Garden in Provo. I think I made my lumberjack comment there.

The thing with Mike, you know, he thinks fast on his feet. He said, "You don't look like a lumberjack at all. I was just thinking about how nice you looked."

10 points for Michael! And 50 gold stars!

Before we went to the movie at the International Cinema, we walked around on the newly landscaped south end of campus, near the Maesar Building. We sat for quite a while, talking about life. You know, life! Was that where we fell in love? No, but it's where I realized Mike was definitely worth a second date, and I hoped we'd get a chance to really build something together.

As an aside, a lot of people are curious about Mike's facial hair since we began dating. When I met Mike, he had mini-chops and a handle-bar mustache. Chops and stache are gone. I am surprised how often I have to defend myself; apparently many men, and some women, blame me for the mustache's demise. And somehow miss its presence.

All I can say to them is Michael can do what he wants, but there are universal repercussions for our actions. He can choose his facial hair, but not the consequences thereof. All kidding aside, Mike is a handsome man. No need for him to hide behind his burly facial hair, although I'm not opposed to letting him indulge every once in a while in the future,

See, we are beautiful now:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Brief History: Part One

Hilary and I always say that we've made our relationship "our way." There is no mention of "falling in love;" instead, we talk of how we have created something. It wasn't easy.
The first time I met Hilary, I was forming a circle with desks. It was just before a Creative Writing class, and Hil was the new girl, having just added the class at the drop line. I believe we were the only two in the room, so we struck up a conversation. What I remember from that chat is just a few details:
  • From the East Coast: Connecticut
  • Return Missionary: Portugal Lisboa
  • English Teaching Major
  • Young Adult Literature Fanatic
On the middle two points, we connected (honey, do you see the wordplay here?). I served in Mozambique, so I speak Portuguese. I was also an English Teaching Major, or at least had the intention of entering the major. I was preparing my application. I thought her a cool girl. That was it. I did not expect anything other than friendship.
I should go on a tangent here, and explain the crisis that was my love life. There was none. I tried to date, but I just couldn't connect with girls on dates. I was feeling the years and felt inadequate. Here I was, in the most concentrated selection of available Mormon women, and I couldn't find a girlfriend. "That's it," I thought, "I'm over it. I'm tired of trying. I'll just date for fun."
So when Hilary and I walked for a little bit after class and talked about Portuguese food, I thought it was nice. And when she emailed me to ask if I wanted to watch The Birds with her and her friends, I didn't think much about it. I just went with it, and I had a great time. Did I mention I'm bad at picking up vibes? I certainly made it difficult for the poor girl. But when she texted me the next week, informing me of an Angolan movie showing at the International Cinema, I finally picked up what she was putting down. I responded we should make a date out of it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Other Side...

So, I see it all this way, and hopefully will fill in some gaps in Hilary's story.
February 18, 2011: I left a voicemail with Hilary's dad, telling him my intent to marry his daughter. In hindsight, it's never a good decision to leave a message saying "I would like to talk to you about marrying your daughter," but at the time, I considered myself being straightforward. And as I sat there, trying to figure out whether or not he would call back, I decided to go ahead, and go about my day as if I had talked with Lincoln. Accordingly, I went to the jewelry store, and bought Hilary's ring. I knew the one she wanted-thin, white gold band with a collection of small diamonds distributing the shine, instead of a consolidated rock which would catch on things (this is the reason most people are reading, right?). The sales person asked if I would take the ring then, or if she should send it in for resizing. I decided on the latter, as the future still remained in the air. She handed me the receipt, and told me the ring would be ready Tuesday after 5.
February 20, 2011: We're in Alpine, at Hilary's parent's home (is that too many possessives?). We arrived to a house full of Brazilians, which gave Hil and I an opportunity to speak some Portuguese. But it also took away from our objective: I had come to talk with Lincoln about marrying his daughter. After the commotion calmed down, I summoned the courage, and asked to talk with him. I will not go into details, but it was a good talk. It ended with him granting me permission to marry the girl. No thunder was stolen or lost. I found it nice that Lincoln and Rebeckah counseled us.
February 22, 2011: I'm running late. I left campus a little late, and am stuck in traffic. I have five minutes before Hilary gets off the bus from Salt Lake. I run into the store, slam the receipt on the counter, and tell the sales lady, "Listen, I need this ring, and I need it now! My girlfriend's going to be here in just a few minutes, and we're going to pretend to ring shop..." As she is wrapping the ring, I'm thinking of all the ways I can do the proposal:
  • After leaving the store, I can propose in the parking lot. Is there a more romantic venue than the University Mall parking lot?
  • After leaving the store, I can meet Hilary at her house. As she comes out onto her back stoop, I would take a knee and pop the question.
  • I can pull the ring out in the store, but that's only if everything starts going south.
I quickly put the ring in my backpack, and find Hilary. I can't help but smile; she looks amazing. Quickly, everything starts going south. Hilary notices the ring is missing, and she looks so sad as she tries on other rings. I can't stand seeing her this way, so I ask, "How about this one?" I pull out the box. She stares at me for a second, and with tears welling up, she asks, "What did you do?"
"I bought you a ring, that's what I did," was my reply. It fits perfectly, and brings us to where we are now.
Hilary's amazing, as I'm sure most of you will agree with me. She's everything I dreamt of, but did not think possible. No woman can be this perfect with me. I'm grateful we're building, and not just falling in, love. We're getting married in less than eight weeks, on April 23, 2011.
(Hil, did I miss anything?)

And So It Begins

I'm not a Lemon yet, but I will be soon.

On Sunday, February 20, 2011, Mike Lemon asked my dad if they could talk. In the living room.

Meanwhile, Mom and I stayed in the family room and played the Star Trek board game. Naturally.

Then Mike asked us to join him and Dad in the living room. We all sat down, and Dad announced that Mike wanted to get married.

Poor Mike. Everyone's always stealing his thunder.

Like when we were ring shopping two days later, and my favorite ring was gone. I tried on a few other ring combinations in the store, but didn't see anything I liked. Mike felt the pressure piling up, and pulled out my ring right there in the store.

I started crying and asked, "What did you do?"

He said, "I got your ring."

He's the sweetest. He picked it out the week before, got it sized, and sprung it on me in Fred Mayer. The saleslady and the guy helping us were all in cahoots. I think a lady trying to buy her own ring knew what was going on.

I was totally surprised. Mike dropped to one knee in the University Mall parking lot. Just to make it extra official.

I love Mike. He's my best friend. He's the only person patient enough to put up with my nit-picky, control-freak tendencies. He relishes a good laugh and knows how to make me giggle. (Inappropriate!) He's my sweetheart and we're getting married April 23, 2011!

Mike: tag, your turn.