Lately I've been stressed over a lot of things. Again I am having to remind myself that you can't plan your life. There are so many things I feel that I am ready to do right now, but haven't happened, no matter how much effort I put into them.
I spend a lot of time sitting by the Christmas tree at night, which has proven to be a wonderful de-stress-or. There's something about a lit-up Christmas tree that makes you forget your troubles.
Our tree has no theme. We have several matroyshkas, carved wooden Russian people we got at a Moscow market, a whale, robot, sun, birds, roulette table, the space needle, two Lady Libertys, a bear, penguin, kite, fish, and the traditional pickle ornament. And some Ts, too.
Every ornament means something or came from someone we love. Maybe that's why the tree is such a calming influence.
If you're still looking for Christmas gift ideas, I have a suggestion.
My cousin Marshall McDonald is an incredible composer/arranger. He has released at least 10 albums, containing beautiful arrangements of hymns and original compositions. He even wrote a Suite about the Spanish Trail that was recorded by the China Philharmonic.
This past summer, Marsh invited me to be part of his latest album, This is the Christ, which was released about a month ago. The pieces on this album are inspired by the paintings of Carl Bloch about Jesus Christ. Before we recorded each piece, Marshall showed us the painting that inspired the composition. It was an incredible experience hearing it all come together.
I played his arrangement O Come, O Come, Emmanuel last night at a Stake devotional, and tons of people wanted to know where the arrangement came from. I thought, "Hey, I should put in a plug for Marshall on the blog!"
I'm taking a risk, as we're giving this to at least half a dozen people in our family for Christmas, but I don't think they read this blog, so we're probably safe.
You can purchase the album here, or it is also available on iTunes. Take a listen - you might hear some viola solos on tracks 6 and 12...
The Christmas Dreams album is also wonderful if you're looking for something more Christmas-y (you might get some viola on that one, too!).
When I was in high school, I fell in love with Perry Como.
Not only a great singer, but a great person.
My mom had listened to Perry for years, and apparently my Grandma Dorothy was a huge fan. I borrowed Greatest Hits, Volume I from my mom, and it stayed in my car for at least a full year.
My best friend Cate and I cruised around town, blasting Perry over and over again. We even had some of the songs choreographed (the dashboard became the xylophone).
"Papa Loves Mambo"
"Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes"
"Catch a Falling Star"
"Round and Round"
To give you an idea, the lyrics to "Hoop-Dee-Doo" go as follows:
I hear a polka, and my troubles are through.
This kind of music is like heaven to me.
We loved Perry enough to start an unofficial fan club. Cate and I were co-Presidents. I made some screen-printed t-shirts in my Graphics class Senior year. They were awesome. The front had a stick figure of an old man with a driving cap and cane, and the back listed our favorite song titles (unfortunately, the shirts looked like I had screen-printed them myself).
[maybe this is why I made the "Unique People" page in the yearbook]
We decided to wear them to school on the same day.
(The last time I had done this was a friend was with Morgan Doll in 2nd grade. We wore our neon green t-shirts, rolled up acid denim shorts, and rolled-down neon pink socks with white keds... and matching black-and-white checkered scrunchies.)
A few days later, my friend Doug came up to me and said, "Tally, I'm so sorry. Perry Como died two days ago."
Cate and I looked at each other. "Two days ago?! The day we wore our Perry Como shirts?"
Did we KILL Perry Como?
The other day I caught myself singing along to "Christmas Bells" while waiting at the deli counter, when the four-foot-tall 80-year-old woman in front of me turned around, and looked at me in disbelief. "YOU know this song?"
The reason I bring all of this up is that I found a new Perry Como song this morning, titled "Seattle" - ! If any of you need a pick-me-up, I've compiled an abbreviated Perry Como playlist in the right-hand column of this blog. I hope you love Perry as much as I do!
It only snowed 3-4 inches where we live, but that was enough to close Taylor's office downtown! Last night thousands of people were trapped on the freeway for over 6 hours. Seattle has maybe 2 or 3 snowplows, so the city pretty much shuts down.
We spent the day "snowed in" - although Taylor still worked... in his pajamas.
I walked to the market to get some Thanksgiving necessities, only to find that a 70-something couple had cross-country skiied to the grocery store. They were wandering around the Metropolitan Market with their skis and poles in their cart!
"Mas'r, if you was sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I'd give ye my heart's blood; and if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your precious soul, I'd give 'em freely, as the Lord gave his for me." (p.407)
I finished Uncle Tom's Cabin last night. It's beautiful, and not at all what I was expecting from an abolitionist novel. A close friend of mine once told me that reading this book changed her Dad's life. It definitely has changed the way I see certain things, and really made me think a lot more about Christ and His example (again, not what I was expecting from an abolitionist novel).
Have you ever read a book that made you gasp, laugh, and cry out loud while reading it?
So glad we caught the tail end of a gorgeous East Coast Fall!
We flew out for my cousin Ann's wedding. I ended up being the florist (yikes). It was an interesting experience figuring out how to order flowers on the other side of the country. I was so grateful to have my mom and sister Liz there to help (and a cousin with flawless taste!).
No, he does not work for Louis Vuitton, but he works on the 19th floor of the tower on top of that curved pedestal (Google "Rainier Tower" to see some cool pictures). I just hope it doesn't topple over one day.
We live in a little yellow house.
I don't want to brag, but we have a full-size refrigerator.
So Taylor and I mock Facebook a lot. Hourly status updates, people posting pictures they took of themselves, and lots of weird groups.
But it is kind of amazing, too.
Last night a Tahitian girl added my sister Liz as a friend, and posted all kinds of photos of my brother, who is serving as a missionary there. We got a little teary, seeing his big smile and a video of him learning to play the ukulele.
Couldn't get the video off of Facebook, but here's a snapshot from it.
People think he's in paradise serving in Tahiti, but he's had to learn 2 languages, and has only had native companions (no English), the most recent of which hated Americans. He locked Robby out of the apartment on his third day in the area, repeatedly criticized his French, stomped on his Book of Mormon, and, eventually, beat him up. To quote him, "If I wasn't a missionary, you'd be dead in the ocean." Luckily, the issues were resolved, the Elder was sent home Friday, and now Robby has a new companion.
Still, this picture was taken on Saturday and we were able to see it yesterday. Amazing.
Some random Sunday morning - Provo, 2007. Look at that bare apartment!
At least we had a plant.
What were my complaints in 2007? Too much for Taylor to study, too much for me to practice, too many orchestra students, too many gigs, too many drives between Provo and Salt Lake, groceries were too expensive, and we were living in the lap of luxury in a $650/month apartment.
The only things we owned were a bed, computer, an IKEA desk, 2 guitars, and a viola.
Alright, and a fully-stocked kitchen.
What more do you need in life?
Added bonus: We never got medical bills in the mail.
Oh gosh, life was so good then.
It helps me to think back on the earlier times in our marriage when life sometimes seemed so expensive and uncertain, and realize, "Those were great days! We learned so much together, and had such a good time!" It feels good to look back on things and think, "We thought things would never work out, but those struggles pointed us to where we needed to go."
I could say the same for 2008 and 2009 (and hopefully 2010).
We went to Yosemite with the 39ers. The "39ers" are Taylor's close friends from growing up and several years of rooming together at BYU in (you guessed it) King Henry, Apartment 39. Back then there were 6. Now there are spouses and children, for a grand total of 15 (including two baby Elizas). We had waaaaay too much fun. Becca described the trip perfectly.
We had Salad Fest (a 39er tradition).
This trip was greatly needed - a welcome break from the job search. Yosemite is unbelievably gorgeous.
We climbed Half Dome!
Yosemite, we love thee.
Taylor had a birthday. We had a midnight celebration, and spent his entire birthday driving home for 14+ hours.
Speaking of the 14-hour drive, Tonopah, Nevada merits its own post.
"When I speak of home, I speak of the place where --in default of a better-- those I love are gathered together; and if that place were a gypsy's tent, or a barn, I should call it by the same good name notwithstanding." - charles dickens -