Sunday, August 30, 2009

Station Fire.

I'm in southern California visiting Dad and Nancy, watching the "Station Fire" from about two miles away. The whole mountain is on fire! We went out onto the roof last night with binoculars to get a better look, and as we came back inside, we realized that our hair and clothing reeked of campfire. This morning we awoke to air, thick with smoke.

The fire start on Wednesday. I arrived on Thursday night, and it was already well underway. I've never seen a major wildfire like this, so it's been pretty intense to follow. I've included some pictures that I found on, which pretty much show what it looks like from the roof at night.

Friday, August 28, 2009

SLCA's 2009/2010 Concert Season.

We're ready to start our new concert season, and we're very excited! Season brochures will be available soon. In the meantime, use this note to mark your calendars now! You won't want to miss any part of this season. Let me know if you'd like tickets to a concert, or even better... season tickets! It will be worth it!

October 17: Made in America
Moving past pop and rock and roll, the Salt Lake Choral Artists explore the roots of American music. The choir will sing selections from Carol Barnett's "Bluegrass Mass," along with traditional folk music, African-American spirituals, gospel music, jazz, and music from the American musical theater. Also including sacred and secular music by living American composers, this concert truly represents a melting pot of styles.

December 19: Laud to the Nativity
Featuring soprano Carol Ann Allred, tenor Todd Miller, and mezzo-soprano Laura Garff Lewis, Respighi's "Laud to the Nativity" charmingly and intimately tells the nativity story through the eyes of the shepherds. Dr. Allred will also direct the Salt Lake Choral Artists in Ariel Ramirez' "Navidad Nuestra," which sets the Christmas story against a tapestry of traditional Latin American dance styles and instrumentation. The concert will include the music of Arvo Part, selections from Sergei Rachmaninoff's "All Night Vigil," and familiar favorites by John Rutter.

February 20: Beatlemania
John, Paul, George, and Ringo: those four iconic names that changed the face of pop music forever. Experience the British Invasion all over again as the Salt Lake Choral Artists sing the classic music of Lennon and McCartney as well as music by artists that both influenced and were influenced by the Beatles. With Get Back, a live Beatles cover band, and the award-winning vocal ensemble T minus 5, this is sure to be a night to remember!

May 15: Lux Aeterna - Eternal Light
Light: hope, faith, life, joy. Morten Lauridsen's "Lux Aeterna," a beautiful work for choir and chamber orchestra, fully expresses the idea of light in both its soaring, majestic phrases and its moments of quiet serenity. With texts drawn from a variety of sacred Latin sources, the piece emphasizes heavenly light. The Salt Lake Choral Artists will also premiere "One Light," a newly commissioned work by Ray Shattenkirk that draws its inspiration from religious poems from many faiths.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The light to which I've become accustomed.

“We believe that electricity exists, because the electric company keeps sending us bills for it, but we cannot figure out how it travels inside wires.”
~Dave Berry

Last night our electricity went out, apparently due to a vehicle accident. I was in the middle of watching Law & Order, and was slightly disappointed that I wasn't going to see the end of the show. Luckily, it was still light enough to go around the house gathering flashlights and candles. When I'd called to check on the status of the outage, they initially said they were working to have everything back on by 10pm. It was 630pm when it had shut off. So 10pm comes and goes, and still no lights. So I called again. 1030pm, was the new estimated time. 1030pm came and went. Called again. This time there is no estimated time of restoration. Oh well.

Let me remind you what having no electricity really means. No internet. No water dispensed from your fridge. No fridge-gotta be careful to keep it closed because who knows when the electricity will be up and running again. No toaster. (I wanted a piece of toast.) Computer batteries only last so long without being recharged. Oh, and that goes for cell phones too. No TV. No DVDs. No automatic garage door opening. But worst of all: NO A/C.

Funny, but all of that meant that people were outside on their porches and in the backyard playing catch, chasing their dogs, reading, and relaxing. Our lives would be so much different if we lived without electricity...

So we went to bed finally. According to our clocks (the ones that plug in), our power was restored shortly before 4am. That must have been some accident!

Then today at about 430pm, the lights went out again! Seriously?? At least this time it was only for about nine minutes instead of nine hours!

But it all got me thinking about what to do when the power goes out. Be prepared. Know where your flashlights are. Know where the extra batteries are. I had to change the batteries in one flashlight when it died after about an hour of use. And read up here to be even more prepared.

Photo found here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Are you a "Happy When"?

"The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things."
~Henry Ward Beecher

I don't recall when my mom first introduced the term "happy when person" to me, but I'm sure I had to have been a teenager. A "happy when person", she described, is a person who regularly thinks that they'll be "happy when" they have something different than what they have at the current moment.

For example, a 15 year old kid thinks he'll be "happy when" he finally has his driver's license and doesn't have to be chauffeured around by his parents or take the bus. Then this same high school student, now a license-toting senior is tired of living under his parents' roof and thinks he'll be "happy when" he's in college and able to make his own decisions without his parents watching over his shoulder.


A young single woman whose dating life doesn't seem to be leading anywhere, thinks she'll be "happy when" she gets married and doesn't have to worry about the stressful life of dating. Then this same young woman, now married, is just not content; she really wants to have a baby and it just hasn't happened yet. She'll be "happy when" she discovers she's pregnant.

Lately, I've been "chewing" on this concept. Are we truly happy with who we are and what we have? Do we take life for granted? Do we always wish he had something more?
Now there is definitely room to discuss the desire to always wanting to improve our lives and make changes to make life better. But what is the motivation? Are we truly just trying to better ourselves, a reason why I believe we're here on Earth? Or are we just never satisfied with what we have and cannot find the happiness and joy in the lives we are living.

Last week, as I was mulling over these thoughts, I had my iTunes on shuffle and up popped Sara Evans. She's a country singer, and though I don't like much country, she played in the soundtrack of my life about eight or nine years back. Here are the lyrics to the song that came on:

"I Keep Looking"

Back when I was young
Couldn't wait to grow up
Get away and get out on my own
And looking back now
Ain't it funny how
I've been trying to get back home, yeah

When my low self esteem
Needs a man loving me
And I find me a perfect catch
Then I see my friends
Having wild weekends
Then I don't wanna get quite so attached

Just as soon as I get what I want
I get unsatisfied
Good is good but could be better

I keep looking, I keep looking for
I keep looking for something more
I always wonder what's on the other side
Of the number two door
I keep looking
Looking for something more

Well, the straight haired girls
They all want curls
And the brunettes wanna be blonde
It's your typical thing
You got ying, you want yang
It just goes on and on

They say, hey, it's only human
To never be satisfied
Well I guess that I'm as human as the next one

Oh, I keep looking
I keep looking for
I keep looking for something more
I always wonder what's on the other side
Of the number two door
Yeah, I keep looking
Looking for something more

Just as soon as I get what I want
I get unsatisfied
Hey, good is good but could be better

I keep looking
I keep looking for
I keep looking for something more
I always wonder what's on the other side
Of the number two door
I keep looking
Looking for something more
Oh, looking for something more

So this song just really rubbed me the wrong way. I was so upset that she was singing these lyrics. Now don't get me wrong... again, I know there is good in reaching for something good or something better, but not at the cost of your happiness today. How can you possibly be happy if as soon as you get what you want you get unsatisfied and decide, "Well now, I'll be happy when..."

Live in the moment. Be happy today. Reach for the stars, but be happy where you are today. Let's not be "happy when" people. Celebrate today's accomplishments and successes. Plan for tomorrow, but remember that the future starts with the present.
Photo a la moi, from our backyard.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Random Photo: Carmen and Fargo.

Sometimes when I want to smile, I just look at this photo. I mean, look at it. Wouldn't you?

'Nuff said. :)

(Dad and Nancy: I hope you'll forgive me for exploiting you on my blog. :) It's just too great not to share! )

Photo courtesy of Nancy. (Halloween 2005?)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gospel Solutions.

"The solutions to life's problems are always gospel solutions. Not only are answers found in Christ, but so is the power, the gift, the bestowal, the miracle of giving and receiving those answers."

~Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I said I'd never become a teacher...

I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my high school music teacher. She was not just a instructor, but a friend and mentor. I recall her asking me what I'd like to be when I grew up. After a few moments of explaining my life's dreams to her, with a smile, Ms. V said, "I think you're going to be a teacher." Mortified, I replied, "No way!" Really, I had no desire to be a teacher. I'm not sure if it was the fact that they earned less than just about anyone I knew or if it was the idea of dealing with obnoxious, immature kids or what. Either way, I knew I wasn't going to be a teacher!

Well, (big surprise) Ms. V turned out to be right. I am a teacher. Okay, okay... while not a teacher specifically by profession, I have been a teacher in so many different ways. I was a teacher already in high school, tutoring a girl in my English class. I have been a teacher in Relief Society (the women's organization) at Church for a year. I was a teacher in so many capacities, as a full-time proselyting missionary for a year and a half in Lithuania. I was a piano teacher on my mission! I was a teacher of Gospel Doctrine for more than two years. I was a teacher for two years as I was Relief Society President, a calling, from which I was released just a few months ago! I am a teacher every day in my job, teaching people how to be better employees and better people so they can progress in their careers. HR is all about teaching and training. Most recently, I have been called as Primary Chorister in my new ward. Now, if that's not teaching, I don't know what is.

If only I'd understood what Ms. V knew at that time: We all learn and we all teach. We may not alway choose the group or the student. We may not realize we've taught, but our influence is always felt. And I've learned that being a teacher isn't so bad after all. In fact, it's a great learning experience, and quite rewarding.
Photo found here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The 11th of August.

Today is my Grandma's 90th birthday. She's in heaven now. I miss her.

Also... five years ago today, I came back to the United States after spending 18 months living in Lithuania, serving a full-time mission for the LDS Church. And what a glorious 18 months it was...

All photos of Lithuania a la moi.