Sunday, December 19, 2010

Epitaph for a Tree

Oh tree, you are dead.  You were such a good tree.  I loved you very much.  When my friend Mary gave you to me for my 21st birthday I was ecstatic.  You were such a bright and hopeful little tree; you made me smile even on dark days.  You sat on my counter and tried every day to be the best tree you could be.  Sometimes I would forget to water you, but still you would persevere in your efforts to be my favorite little tree.

Then when we remodeled the dining room, you had to be moved away from the dust and fumes and the men in the steel-toed boots.  It was supposed to be a beneficial move for you; one that would keep you safe and healthy.  But somehow you ended up in a forgotten corner behind a stack of boxes.  You waited patiently for me to find you - to water you, care for you, and love you as I had in the past.  You waited a day, a week, two weeks, maybe more.  You waited as long as you could, little tree.  I know you didn't give up easily.  You certainly must have kept fighting until the very end because you knew how devastated I would be if you didn't make it, so you stayed alive just as long as you could.  But my ignorance and forgetfulness were much more longstanding than your ability to stay alive in an environment with no water and very little sunlight.  And so now you are gone.

I am sorry, tree.  Sorry that I ever forgot to water you.  Sorry that sometimes I would leave you sitting on the living room windowsill when it was much too cold outside for you to be there.  Sorry that you were placed in a lonely, dark corner in the den to suffer a slow and painful death.  I am sorry for all these things.  You were too good a tree for me to deserve you.  I hope to one day find another tree that will withstand my erratic watering and trimming habits with half your patience and good grace.

Goodbye, my little tree.  You will be dearly missed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What I Learned About Myself from a Presbyterian Minister

My friend Natalie is in a bell choir (which is awesome).  On Friday they had a concert.  The bell choir itself is non-denominational, but it is sponsored by the local First Presbyterian Church and so the Pastor was acting as master of ceremonies at the concert - announcing each piece, introducing the soloists, etc.  (Just in case you didn't know what a master of ceremonies does.)  He also shared an interesting thought about M&Ms.  He was talking about how there is a bowl of M&Ms on a table outside his office that some "evil person" keeps refilling, and how he can't seem to keep himself from grabbing a handful whenever he walks by.  Then (and I wish I could remember more specifically how he tied these thoughts together, but I can't) he ended by wishing us all a good Christmas season, full of Holy M&Ms that will bring us things like love, peace, joy, and justice.  It was then that I realized that, except for justice, I get all of this from M&Ms already.  Truly.  Should I be alarmed?

P.S.  If you have not tried Pretzel M&Ms, you should.  Just saying.

P.P.S.  I hope "Pastor" is right.  I tried searching for the correct term on Google and did some reading on Wikipedia but I had a hard time finding an answer that was clear cut and I was confused.  However, I think I am correct in my understanding that "minister" is a general term for a religious leader, so I didn't misuse that, right?

UPDATE:  After a bit more reading I found that "Reverend" can also be used, and I apologize but I was not paying enough attention and so I do not know how this gentlemen prefers to be addressed. 

UPDATE:  I randomly found the program from the concert in my purse today and it turns out that this good religious leader is, in fact, a Reverend.  Please replace "Pastor" with "Reverend" in the text above.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sock Drawer

When I was very young, I remember that besides the candy, one of the best parts of potty training were the underpants featuring Barbie or Care Bears or a similar girl-friendly animated character printed on the backside.  My toddler thought process:  "I get to wear awesome underwear?  Then yes, I would like to use the toilet, please!"  Also, my socks always, always matched my outfit.  And fancy ruffled socks on Sundays were a must.

As I progressed into my elementary-school-uglies and tween years, I began to categorically refuse to wear anything besides plain white undergarments - socks, underwear, undershirts.  Always the same brand, always white.  One summer a friend of mine wore orange polka dot underwear one day at girls' camp which, unfortunately, we could all see through her pajama pants.  (This is what happens when you make your own pajama pants for girls' camp – sometimes they are less than completely opaque and, many years later, I will still taunt you by singing the "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Orange Polka Dot Bikinis" song.)  But I remember being kind of in awe that she would wear anything besides plain white underwear, because she seemed so "serious" to me (yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds).  Turns out I would have been better off with the polka dots that day at camp, since my rendition of "Bootylicious" caused the rear end of my own pair of homemade pajama pants to split wide open so that everyone could really see my boring, plain white underwear.

Now I don't know if I am getting tired, or lazy, or I am trying to fight my OCD, or if (unsurprisingly to those of you who know me well) I am just trying to rebel against becoming an adult, but for the past several years, I have paid little or no attention to what colors or patterns are featured on my underclothes.  Well, unless it is to purposefully choose something wild and crazy, something reminiscent of my childhood (that I probably still like, like Princesses or Care Bears), or something that I find humorous.  But mostly I just grab a package of random socks or underwear from Wal-Mart when all of mine are worn out or have all been eaten by the dryer (or if Austin has worn a pair of my socks and therefore I can never ever touch them ever again).

My sock drawer, which once could have been an ad for Clorox bleach, is now overflowing with an abundance of different styles and colors and features all kinds of different characters and patterns including Halloween Snoopy, stripes, Belle, polka dots, sparkly Christmas, penguins, Fair Isle design, even glow-in-the-dark!  When I wear socks now, they rarely match.  As long as they are the same general shape I will wear them together.  (Unless I am working out.  Then they are white and they are matching.)  My undershirts used to be only white; now when tanks go on sale at work sometimes I buy a certain color not because I need it, but because I don’t have it yet and I feel like I should be able to find a use for it.  Then I find myself thinking, “Does this bright pink tank really go under this blue shirt?”  Well, too bad if it doesn’t because I will probably wear it anyway.  And as for underwear, the last package of underwear I bought had a nautical theme and I just thought that was hilarious.  Who knows why?  Nobody knows about it besides me.  Even my socks are so rarely seen by anyone outside my own household, I don't know why it matters or why I am blogging about it.  But in case you were wondering, I like funny underwear.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So Much to be Thankful For

I love Thanksgiving, and I really like to make it a big deal.  There are really so many great things about it.  There is the food, of course; the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the best part of which, in my opinion, is the Radio City Rockettes; you can start listening to Christmas music and no one will yell at you; you get a couple of days to hang out with your family or neighbors or close friends; there's usually an awesome movie released that weekend; and everything goes on sale in the stores so you can save money on your Christmas shopping!  But of course, what I really love most about it is the way it gives me an opportunity to really think about the things that I am grateful for.  This year I found myself giving an internal "thank you" for really small, simple things in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  Some were maybe even silly, but it was good for me to find something new to be thankful for every day - or several times each day.

Here are just a few of the things I found myself grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend:

  • Aunt Elaine’s Recipe Book:  Best.  Rolls.  Ever.  (And I finally learned to make them, thanks to my mom!)
  • The Internet:  Source of all the recipes we didn’t have on hand or couldn’t find or had forgotten.  This year I found probably my favorite cranberry sauce recipe to date as well as a sweet potato soufflĂ© recipe, which I made from fresh sweet potatoes, that was a favorite at the Thanksgiving table.
  • Time-and-a-half pay, so that there is at least one very positive aspect of having to work at Old Navy on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Our DVR, which allowed me to record the parade so that I didn’t miss seeing the Rockettes even though I was at work.
  • The Hansons, our awesome neighbors and long-time friends who joined us for dinner and brought a yummy relish tray (which is one of my favorite parts of the meal) and even joined in on some Harry Potter talk!
  • Movie theaters that are open on Thanksgiving and show great movies like Tangled so that my family and I can enjoy some quality entertainment together.  (Also, Disney, because basically everything they do is just absolutely remarkable!)
  • Visits from my cousin Tanell and her husband, Davinn.  It was great to see you, even though I had to go to bed early and we didn’t get to practice our usual tradition of playing card games all night long.
  • Old Navy opening at midnight for Black Friday and scheduling me to work from 11:45  PM – 7:15 AM so that I could spend the greater part of the day visiting with . . .
  • My Dad; his wife, Kim; and my stepbrother, Connor.  They live in Nevada and I hadn’t seen them in probably a year so I was excited that they came for a visit.  My siblings and I spent the afternoon and evening with them on Friday, hanging out and catching up and bowling really low scores and having a great time.  Thanks for everything, Dad and Kim!  It was great to see you!
  • And in general, and I hope it doesn’t seem trite, I do want to express my gratitude for my family, who love me and take care of me and put up with all my crazy; for my friends who do the same, whether they are here in Logan or in Ogden or Bountiful or San Francisco or anywhere else on this beautiful Earth; for the beautiful home and neighborhood and valley and country in which I live; for my brother far away in Hawaii for being an example and a source of strength for our family, and for willingly sacrificing to serve our country (that goes for you too, Dad); for my talents and abilities and the opportunities I have to do the things that bring me joy; for my knowledge of the Gospel, the love that my Heavenly Father and the Savior have for me, eternal families, repentance and forgiveness, inspired Priesthood leaders, scriptures, and hymns.  I know that everything that I have has been given to me by my loving Father in Heaven and I am so grateful every day for all these things and so many more.  THANK YOU.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Halloween!

This year for Halloween, I decided to go as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.  Apparently I was Dorothy once before when I was very young.  However, I do not remember  it and that dress wouldn't fit me anymore anyway, so I made a new one and I was happy with how it turned out.  I also made my own ruby slippers (and I am still finding sequins all over the house).

Saturday morning my family and I ran in the Spook Sprint Fun Run, a 5K benefiting adoption.  I ran in costume (because why not?), but I didn't want to run in my ruby slippers so I "adapted" my running shoes for the occasion.

Here is the family after the run:

Saturday night was spent at my dear "Daddy" Marc Jensen's house in Preston.  Marc gets way into Halloween, decorating his yard with a doomsday theme and dressing as the Grim Reaper to hand out candy to the littles.  So it is a tradition among some of my friends to spend the night there, watching Marc scare children and then having dinner and chatting or watching a movie.  This year RoseAnne and I made some delicious soups and rolls.  Here I am in my apron:

Kassie and Brett playing with Furd, Marc's faithful skeletal friend:

Kassie definitely won the costume contest of the night.  She came as Richard!  Can you tell which is which?

Then on Sunday, instead of continuing with our traditional alphabetical movie night, we took advantage of the fact that it was actually Halloween and had a Halloween movie night (we watched Clue and Rear Window) and costume party, complete with spooky treats like crushed bones and human fingers!

Me with Mariska as Jane Bennett (I went as Elizabeth Bennett in that same dress last year, cool huh?)

Stephanie and Adrienne came as Sick and Tired  :)

Scott made this awesome no-strings-attached Pinocchio costume:

Allison as the Greek Goddess Artemis

Chuck as a Fish and Robert as the Karate Kid (which was one of our "K" movies...)

And the whole A-Z Movie Group (Well, some of us, anyway...)

All in all, a pretty fantastic Halloween!

Pumpkin Walk

For those of you who have never spent a Halloween in Cache Valley, every year we have this awesome event called the Pumpkin Walk.  It is held free-of-charge in a park in North Logan, and schools, businesses, families, and other groups create scenes from movies, television, books, and the like using mostly harvest vegetables.  It’s pretty much cool.  Here are some of my favorite scenes from the Pumpkin Walk this year, which had an animated theme:

The Flintstones

Partly Cloudy

SpongeBob Squarepants


They also have TONS of wooden cutouts so you can pose as your favorite characters.  We had a little bit too much fun with them...

 And here is a shot of Austin, Mom, Braxton, and Shannon before it was dark and cold.

They say HOORAY for the Pumpkin Walk!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Flood of Family Fun!

It was Sunday, October 24th.  It had been raining off and on all day and for most of the day before.  It was about 10:30 PM and while Mom, Grandma and Grandpa had already gone to bed, my siblings and were in the basement watching Raising Arizona.  A little while into the movie, I kept thinking I could hear dripping noises, but when I asked Shannon and Austin about it they said they couldn’t hear anything, so I didn’t check right away.  A few minutes later I could swear the dripping was getting worse, so I followed the noise into our downstairs kitchen to check it out.  The rain outside had mostly filled our windowsill (two or three feet deep, since we have a daylight basement) and water was streaming through the bottom and sides of the window pane.  I sent Shannon for some towels, but they didn’t do much good.  We would put them on the window sill to catch the water as it leaked through, and after just a few seconds the towels would be completely soaked; so heavy with water that they would just fall off the window sill.

By this time my mom heard the commotion and came into the kitchen with us and we all soon realized that not only were the towels insufficient for cleaning up the water that had already flooded into the kitchen, but they definitely weren’t helping slow the flow from the outside in.  So my mom went to work sucking the kitchen dry with the Shop Vac and Shannon and Austin and I headed outside to try to empty out the window sill.

We went to work filling buckets and dumping them out – first onto the lawn and then, when the lawn started collecting giant puddles, into the street.

All that work made Shannon thirsty….

Soon the kitchen was all Shop Vac’d and Mom came outside and stuck the vacuum hose into the window well, and even with the vacuum running and the three of us kids continuing to work with the buckets, the rain was so torrential that it seemed we were hardly getting anywhere.

There were huge puddles developing on the lawn, the walkway, and in the garden, and we found a sinkhole in the flowerbed right in front of the window well, which may have contributed to the mass amounts of water leaking in.

Grandma and Grandpa got in on the action then as well.  Grandma brought out more light and helped us to organize ourselves in all the chaos, and Grandpa redirected the drainage pipes from the roof so they were facing as far away from the window as possible.

While Mom and I kept working on emptying the window sill, Grandpa, Austin, and Shannon went into the backyard and filled the wheelbarrow with dirt to refill the sinkhole and try to prevent further water leakage.

After the window sill was almost completely dry and the sinkhole pretty well filled in, my mom and my grandpa used a tarp and a shovel and some big rocks to build a little tent over the window sill to keep as much of the continuing rain storm out as possible.


Despite the cold and the wet (so cold and so wet, in fact, that my mom and I had to go inside halfway through the project and change into dry clothes!) and the late hour, we managed to have a fair share of good old Burgess/Wright family fun!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Picnic + Bountiful + Soccer = Fun Day!

So I have a bunch of really great friends, and October 19 was one of those days when I got to enjoy the company of some of the best of them in some very fun circumstances!

That Tuesday morning, I packed myself and a few of my belongings into the good car and sang along with my Glee soundtrack all the way to the magical land of Clearfield, UT.  There I met with my Terrace Plaza theater friends, Andrea Scanlon and Annie Ferrin, and their youngest children, Kyra and Xander (the older kids were in school of course), for a lunch picnic in the park.  We chatted and caught up on each other's lives and watched Kyra drag random strangers around the playground, calling one man "Daddy" and asking to be pushed on the swings or helped down the slide.  It was a lovely couple of hours and I always love getting to spend time with these amazing ladies and their beautiful kids!

After the picnic, I had a couple of hours to kill, so I called my best friend from high school, Melissa Cannon Hislop and asked if I could come down and visit with her for a while.  She and her husband, Sammy, and their one-year-old daughter, Lucy, moved from Cedar City to Bountiful at the beginning of the summer and I hadn't yet had a chance to visit her there, so I was excited to see her new-to-me apartment - and her and Lucy!  We had a nice visit and Lucy wasn't too shy of me and I got to see all of Missy's cute crafts, my favorite of which was her candy corn tree (which can be seen here:  Missy's Cunning Craftiness).  I really miss having Missy right across the street to entertain me and to be dragged around on all my misadventures, but she is such a great wife and mom and homemaker that I guess I can't be too upset about it.  (Also I look forward to all her crafty, homemaking help when I have a house and husband of my own!)

The final event of my awesome fun day was my very first Real Salt Lake soccer game with my friend, Marshall Stoddard.  Marshall buys season tickets and has invited me a few times to accompany him, but this was the first day I was able to come and I was so excited!  We met in Ogden and Marshall drove us down to Draper where we ate dinner at Chipotle and then went to the stadium.  We sat down and this was what I could see:
And Marshall said in a sarcastically apologetic tone, "These aren't bad seats, are they?"  Haha Marshall, no, they are definitely not bad seats.

I was a professional soccer virgin, because my soccer experiences as a child were not fantastic, to say the least.  When I was on the U-10 Hillcrest Strikers soccer team in the second grade I spent most of my time on the field running away from the not-so-high flying ball with my arms covering my head.  And in middle school, every time we played line soccer I would somehow manage to get a ball kicked right at my face or smack into my stomach.  So I had kind of a bad taste in my mouth when it came to soccer, and flat-out refused to watch the World Cup with Melissa in our senior year.  However, I am at a point in my life when I am excited to try new things and determined to be open-minded and fearless.  So I went to the Real game not only with no trepidation, but with an adequate amount of enthusiasm.

The game was actually awesome.  It was weird getting used to a professional sport where very little of the action was replayed over the loudspeakers.   Despite the music and shouts from the crowd, it seemed so quiet without commentary that it felt at times like I was watching the little men kicking around the tiny ball on a TV on mute or something.  And Marshall had to keep explaining what was happening in the game.  But I caught on okay, I think, and I really enjoyed myself.

That night the Real played against a Mexican team, the Cruz Azul (Blue Crosses), and when their supporters kept shouting "Azul, azul, azul!" the Real supporters around us made comments about all the sneezing.  And of course, there were many choruses of "Ole, ole, ole, ole!  Real Salt Lake!" especially after the Real scored goals.  Despite a lack of action in the first half of the game, there was still plenty to watch and keep my interest.  All of the goals in  the entire game were scored in a period of about a half an hour, and the game ended 3-1 in favor of the Real!  Hooray!  Thanks Marshall for the ticket and I would love to go again sometime!
P.S.  I think I could do a pretty darn good job of being a soccer announcer, since I can hold out "GOAL!" like nobody's business.  I'm probably not at a professional level just yet, but maybe when I am a soccer mom I can give it a try!

Friday, October 22, 2010


What is it about pancakes?  Why can't I ever make them pretty?  Sure, they always taste fine, in fact pretty darn good if I use a from-scratch recipe such as my favorite, lemon blueberry cornmeal pancakes with maple-berry topping.  But no matter how many times I alter the heat of the pan or the viscosity of the batter, it seems that my pancakes are always ugly.  They are always too dark or too light or they have weird ring patterns or blotchy spots or some yucky combination of these things.  And no pancake is ever like another, since the pan never seems to stay at the same temperature long enough to even make both sides of the same pancake match!

Earlier this week I watched the movie Matilda for the first time in many years.  Remember that scene where she is about four years old and making pancakes for herself for breakfast?  When she first turns them over, they are a little burned, and then as she flips them up in the air and onto the plate they are perfectly golden brown on both sides.  When I was younger I assumed that the sudden pancake perfection was a purposeful tribute to Matilda's "powers", but as I re-watched the film I thought that perhaps it was simply an inconsistency in filming that nobody worried about in editing because, hey, Matilda has magical powers so any of those little blips could basically be overlooked.  Whether the transformation of the pancakes was purposeful or not, I find myself tremendously jealous of Matilda's ability to make a previously ugly pancake perfect and beautiful.

 And restaurants.  I mean, how do they do it?  I have never had an ugly pancake at IHOP or Village Inn.  What's the deal?  Even at McDonald's the pancakes are pretty.  I think that I am capable of preparing pancakes that are better-tasting and better for me than those in the restaurants.  But mine are ugly, and it's aggravating.  Visual presentation is just such an important factor in preparing a good meal.  Everything that is pretty tastes better.

Can anyone teach me how to make pancakes that are beautiful as well as delicious?  Because that would seriously improve my quality of life.


Greetings, friends, family, associates, and other readers.  Welcome to by blog!  This page will hopefully keep all y'all informed of the comings and goings in my life and will allow you to share in my joy and laughter, tears and sorrow, and everything in between.  And "if [it brings] a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes [me] feel as though [my blogging] ain't been in vain for nothin'. Bless you all."

P.S.  Sorry about the lame "welcome post."  Don't feel bad, I got bored reading it too.