Thursday, September 25, 2008

Not to drop names or anything but...

So guess who I got to hang out with last night? Brandon Sanderson! He's an up and coming Sci/Fi-Fantasy author who I discovered a few years ago. And it turns out that he lives just around the corner from me. I just got invited to a book club and this month's book was Brandon's first published work, Elantris. I had read it before, and while it doesn't quite grip me the way that his newer trilogy-in-progress (Mistborn) does, it's still a good piece of work. And it's a stand-alone book which is refreshing to me in these days where it seems every writer feels compelled to write books that only come in packs of 3 or herds of many, many more than that.

So we all read the book (and some of us finished it) before book club last night. I have never been a part of a book club before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. There were eight or nine people there total, including Brandon and his wife, Emily. I don't think they are a regular part of the book club, but one of the girls is the VTer of Emily and so decided to pick his book to read, and then somehow he got roped into coming along. It ended up being a lot of fun.

Brandon is a very nice, very down-to-earth kind of a guy that obviously loves what he is doing. He has put a lot of thought into these stories and patiently endured over an hour of questions and comments from our little group. He was very gracious at accepting our criticisms too. Maybe having his wife there kept him on his best behavior, but I get the feeling that it's just because he a decent sort of chap. A big nerd, admittedly, but a good guy all the same.

He explained some of the thoughts and feelings he's had on writing book #12 of Robert Jordan's extensive Wheel of time series. He was chosen by Robert Jordan's widow after his passing to finish off the series. A daunting task, especially knowing the kinds of fans that have followed this series for the last 18 or so years. According to Brandon, people are mostly supportive. There have been a few threats of what people will do to him if he screws it up, but having read the 4 books he has published as well as the copy of "Dragonsteel" that resides in the HBLL, I have confidence that he will do a fantastic job. Maybe not what Robert Jordan himself would have done, but good nonetheless.

The book club should be fun. People were great, and I was the youngest one there! Not that that's a huge thing, but it's kind of nice to be 28 years old and the youngest one in a group setting in Provo. We're reading Robinson Crusoe for next month. Odds of the author being at that one are pretty slim. I'll let you know how it goes in any case.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Think Greek!

Hi. My name is Karen. (hello Karen) And I am a food addict. (clapping)

I seriously love food. And as a way of enabling my habit, I celebrate cultures that celebrate food. Take the Greeks for example. Every year they hold a festival in Salt Lake City that revolves around food. Oh, there are some people that dance way off to one side of the ginormous tent they have set up, and you can take a tour of the Greek Orthodox church (not so common in Utah), but mostly people just come for the food. And some tasty food it is. Mmmmmmm

The end of the food line was outside the ginormous tent and had so many people in it that it reached the end of the tent and then wrapped around for about half the rest of the outside the tent line. Nicole, Sara, Caren, and I wandered around until we realized that yes, this was the food line. We got in the line, wrapped around, finally got in the tent, got to the other side of the tent, went through some crazy switchbacks, and finally got into the cafeteria-style food serving place. We all loaded up our trays with things like Domathes, Fasolakia, Kefthethes, Gyros, and Spanakopites, and Diet Coke. We payed the nice little greek ladies, and made our way close to the little dancing stage way at the other side of the parking lot turned greek madhouse.

We took a seat, admired our food for a bit, and then started to gorge ourselves silly. After the main course we took a little break and watched the dancers. And made some observations of our own. Some of the greek men got really into the dancing. They were stomping and jumping and doing the greek man version of a kick line. The expressions on their faces were all kinds of intense. It was great! The women did their fair share of jumping around, and had some great moves too. You maybe can't tell from the picture but it struck me that traditional greek costumes for women don't seem to include... *ahem*... adequate support. If you know what I mean. If I had been contemplating learning greek dance before, this was enough to dissuade me. Seriously...

After our bellies had rested for a good 15 minutes or so, I went off to get some dessert. I couldn't decide, so I got one of each thing they had at the dessert stand. Don't worry, I did share!

All in all it made for a fun night. It was fun to see Caren again, and I'm glad Nicole is back from her years up north! And it was fun to get to know Sarah a little bit better! I only wish I didn't have to wait another year for it to happen again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Quick Trip

Because it's summer, and because we live in beautiful Utah, we decided to go camping about a month or so ago. There was quite a group that we pulled together, and we had decided to go up to Mirror Lake up past Heber. We all work and have school and the like, so we were going to meet at 5:15 to leave at 5:30 so we could drive the hour or two up to the mountains, and then hike to a lake and set up camp before dark.That was the plan.

Unfortunately, things seldom go as planned. Due to peoples' lives being crazy, we left an hour or so late from Provo and we headed up the canyon. We were meeting up with someone a little past Heber, and he was running a little bit late so we decided to go back into Heber to pick up a quick bite to eat. We parked along the main strip next to a variety of fast-food places and split up. Some went to Wendys, some went to Sonic, some went other places. Because this was going to be quick, right? The whole concept of fast food. But no. It took 45 minutes for people to get their food at Wendys, and somewhat less than that for those of us who chose the Sonic option, but regardless, what was supposed to be a quick detour ended up taking an hour.

Well, with spirits still high we collected our extra person, dropped his car off in Kamas, and headed towards our destination. A half-hour later we go under I-80 and realize that we had missed a turn off way back when. The only one in the group that had actually gone up to Mirror lake had gone 6 years earlier and wasn't 100% clear on the directions. So a different car took the map and the lead and headed back.

We found the turn off we had missed and headed up into the mountains. We finally reach the parking lot at the trail head about 11:00 and we load up, take a quick picture and head off.
Ten minutes later: But wait... this doesn't really look like a clear trail. Are we sure we went the right way? Nope. We totally had gone hiking off randomly without a trail. We all backtrack and then re-start the hike. On the right trail this time.

So some people in the group were pretty experienced backpackers, and some of us are decidedly not. But everyone was really good about keeping the group together for the first few hours of hiking. About 2-ish, when we figured we were getting pretty close to where we would be settling down for the night we decided to split up. The 'fast' hikers were going to go ahead and set up the tents and get a fire going, and the 'slow' hikers (and those nice enough to stay with us so we didn't inadvertently wander off a cliff or something) were going to haul our worthless carcasses the rest of the way somehow. Fast forward about 40 minutes. We were sitting down, taking a rest and eating a few well-deserved granola bars and fruit snacks, when all of a sudden a few guys from the 'fast' group come upon us from behind. Without their packs. Somehow they had gotten off of the trail without realizing it, but had run into a nice little lake so had decided to set up camp. After quite awhile they realized that the rest of us hadn't made it there yet, so they sent a few people to investigate. Who found where the trail had turned but they hadn't. So they continue up the real trail and find us. We had hiked about 20 or 30 minutes more than we had to. *sigh*

We hike back, and help finish setting up camp. It's around 2:30 by the time we all settle down around the fire. Some of us busted out the S'mores making goods, and others bust out the tinfoil dinners they had carted in. We all had a good time and don't make it to bed until around 4 in the AM. Wherein we discover that we had miscalculated the tent/people ratio. Four girls ended up sleeping in a 3 person tent. Yikes!

My sleeping bag says it was rated to 30 degrees, but my feet were cold pretty much the entire night, and the ground was really hard. Which explains why I decided to give up on trying to pretend to be asleep around 7 o'clock. I was the first one up and decided to go and wander a bit with my camera. I had a lot of fun with my macro setting and got some really great pictures just as the sun was coming up. After an hour or two I headed back to camp, and joined the others in their breakfast efforts. After which we packed up camp and hiked out. Because we were meeting our ward group to go inner tubing down the Provo River at 3. Where I almost got myself killed... but that's another story for another day!

It was a quick trip, but ended up being a lot of fun! Good times!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Simple Beauty

I just have to share this picture with you guys. This is the first time I've ever started my own tomato plants from seed (that I purchased here), and this is one of the varieties I'm growing. It's called 'Black Zebra' and I think it's super pretty. And tasty! Gotta love summer!!

An Ode to last week...

If you can smile when things go wrong
And say it doesn't matter,
If you can laugh off cares and woe
And trouble makes you fatter,
If you can keep a cheerful face
When all around are blue,
Then have your head examined, bud,
There's something wrong with you.
For one thing I've arrived at:
There are no ands and buts,
A guy that's grinning all the time
Must be completely nuts.
(Quoted by Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Devotional, 1989)

Along the Road
I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser,
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne'er a word said she;
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me!

Robert Browning Hamilton

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.

[The fact is] most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. ...

Life is like an old-time railway journey -- delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride"

Jenkins Lloyd Jones (as often quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley)

So yeah. This has been one of those weeks. They happen every now and then and help me to appreciate the good ones. I'm glad they only happen every now and then...