Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where did December go?? (Not to mention the rest of 2008)

I'm sitting here on Dec. 28, 2008 wondering how I missed most of the month of December. I remember my cousin Becky's wedding Dec. 6. Then there was Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and suddenly there are only a handful of days left in the month. I had big plans for December! Oh well ... what is the old saying ... the best laid plans of mice and men?

I did do a few things in December. I finally went through the rest of the pictures from my Paris trip. Oh, and in the process, Becky's husband John saw my blog post and said, "Umm ... I like the title, but you know that you spelled c'est la vie wrong, right?" I obviously didn't know I had it wrong, but thanks, John. Now I do and I think I'll just leave it. It kind of typifies me trying to communicate while in France. With four years of Spanish and two years of French on my junior high and high school transcripts, I had a bit of trouble picking phrases to use while in France. A nice stranger would say something simple to me and my response would come out in half Spanish, half French. An even bigger issue was me trying to figure out in my muddled brain which half was the French and which the Spanish. Oh well. Maybe in 2009 I'll brush up on one of the languages ... maybe.

One of my favorite things in Paris was finding the best hot chocolate. The best cup we found was at Cafe Panis just across the street from Notre Dame.

I definitely did not miss out on Christmas. I discovered a few years ago that Christmas with the kids is a whole lot more fun than Christmas with all adults. For the past couple of years, I've spent the night with my sister Wendy's family so I can witness the Christmas morning magic with her kids.

My nephew Kade is at the perfect age for Christmas morning. He ran around handing everyone packages to open and patiently watched until he couldn't stand it anymore and had to open one of his own. And, he loves me.

To my happy surprise, I got a fantastic pair of beautiful shoes for Christmas! Ok ... fine ... yes ... I did purchase the shoes myself ... and yes ... I did wrap them in my favorite paper with a pretty bow ... and then I put To: Carol-Lyn From: Santa on the tag. Sometimes the Christmas magic we make for ourselves is pretty darn good, too. You have to admit, that's a convincing "look of surprise."

When December is all said and done, I think that the beginning and the end were so good that the blur of the 15 days in between is probably a good thing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Once I arrived in Paris, I met up with my friends, Jeff and Amanda. Amanda was excited to get out and see the town. After a quick shower and change of clothes, I was ready to see Paris for the first time, too.

Amanda and I had the most fabulous day! We rode the metro into Paris and then just started walking. We saw most of the major highlights today: Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and a lot more that is a bit hazy since I'm running on about 3 hours of in flight sleep. We had the perfect Paris lunch in a little bistro. The highlight was the hot chocolate.

Amanda did a fantastic job of navigating the city. We only got a little lost for a minute on a street full of "Sex Shops".

One of three rose windows on Notre Dame.

Me in front of Notre Dame in my pink coat and grey hat that I will probably be wearing in every picture from this trip because it's only about 35 degrees this weekend.

The Eiffel Tower was so impressive. Before seeing it in person, I had always wondered what the big deal was and why people have such an emotional tie to it. But after spending some time there, it makes sense. It's a magical place.

We definitely did not do justice to the Louvre, but in an hour, we saw Amanda's three Must Sees: The Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory. One of the most stunning things was seeing the glass pyramid lit up with the historic Louvre in the background.

Se la vie!

There's an old adage that says something like the best things in life are the hardest to comeby. Maybe it isn't an old adage, but if it isn't, it should be!

A few weeks ago, I planned a trip to Paris on a whim. Yes, probably crazy, but it sounded fun and I've never been. So with a few emails and phone calls, I had three other friends reeled in and Thanksgiving in Paris was booked. It all sounded fantastic, and -- in theory-- should have gone like clockwork. The plan was for Tiffany and I to leave Wednesday afternoon on the direct flight from Salt Lake to Paris. That was such a fantastic plan. Until it unraveled.

It was smooth sailing for Tiffany and I on Wednesday afternoon. We made it to the airport on time. There was no security line to slow us down. We found fabulous reading materials and candy in the bookshop. And, when we were seated on the plane, they gave us cute little Delta eyemasks for the long, overnight flight.

We settled in to our seats and waited for the plane to head out for the runway ... and we waited ... and we waited ... and we waited somemore. After two hours, Delta made it official. Our flight was cancelled because of a "broken alternative power source" (I have no idea what it does, but it sounds important, so I guess I'm glad they figured it out before we were over the Atlantic).

So, the long and the short of it ... instead of leaving for Paris Wednesday, arriving Thursday and then leaving for home Monday, I ended up leaving for Paris Thursday and arriving in the wee hours of Friday morning. Without Tiffany. Yup, Tiffany decided the abbreviated trip just wasn't worth the stress, so I came on my own.

Luckily my flights (that is plural -- so much for direct from SLC to Paris) went smoothly and I navigated public transportation all the way to the hotel on my own without incedent. At least without any incedents that I will admit to.

More to come on my Paris adventure ...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sometimes I'm still surprised

I feel like I've been around the block a few times and generally, I'm not surprised by much. But it seems like no matter how many times I go to North Carolina to see Joanna, something will catch me off guard.

Last week I flew into Raleigh Tuesday morning and went staight to UNC-Chapel Hill hospital, where JoJo was spending some quality time with some very scratchy hospital sheets. She was admitted the day before because post surgery, she hadn't had much success keeping solid foods down and was having abdominal pain. By the time I got there, the abdominal pain issue was under control, but the solid foods were still untested. JoJo was pretty scared to eat because everytime she tried, the nausea would creep up.

After a few hours of coaxing, Nurse Jessica said she would order JoJo a lunch tray and if she could just slowly work her way through some of the food and keep it down, we could go home. Going home was sounding pretty good at that point, so JoJo agreed and we waited for the lunch tray to arrive.

The lunch tray looked innocent at first. A drink, a red jello of some sort, a corn muffin and a covered plate. I lifted the cover and actually had to take a step back in shock and disbelief. The recomended meal for someone making the conversion to solids after 8 days of a liquid diet was fried chicken and collard greens.

Luckily, the story has a happy ending that doesn't involve the regurgitation of anything green. Nurse Jessica had also requested a plain baked potato. JoJo was able to make her way through about half of the potato without any trouble and we were out of the hospital within a few hours.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

JoJo update

I talked to Joanna last night. She sounds miserable, but who wouldn't after having a kidney removed??

She said they told her she's doing well and she told them she wants better drugs.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Selfless acts

I have a friend who has always been one of those people who would do anything for someone she loves. Joanna is the type of friend that sees a situation full of difficulties and immediately finds a way to help. She may not solve the core problem, but her attention always seems to be focues on what SHE can do to be the most effective in the situation.

Joanna's introduction to my family happened in the middle of preparations for my sisiter Bethany's wedding. Joanna and I walked in the door after driving from North Carolina with everything she owned shoved into the back of her Volvo to find a typical scene at the Rutherford/Jardine house: Chaos. Bethany's wedding was only a couple of days away and in typical family form, there was a month's worth of work being accomplished in 48 hours. Joanna introduced herself to my mom and then, without even missing a beat, stepped in and took over the ironing of about 100 chair covers. By the end of the day, Larry's new name for her was established: Number Ten (referring to her being the long-lost tenth child in our blended family).

Over the years, this is the Joanna I've come to know and love and call best friend. But nothing she has done can compare with what she is about to do tomorrow. In the early hours of the morning, Joanna will be wheeled in to surgery at the University of North Carolina to donate her kidney to a friend.

My selfish heart's first response to the news was, "You've got to be kidding me! What if one of your kids needs a kidney ... what if I need your kidney?!" Over the past few months, JoJo reassured me serveral times that she feels like this is what Heavenly Father wants her to do. She's sure if she's willing to do this and somewhere down the road someone closer to her than her kidney recipient needs something, it will all work out. Where did she find that faith?

I've been praying for Joanna this week and can honestly say that she is the most selfless person I know at this moment. I know she'll read this and roll her eyes at me and remind me of all the things she's done that could be called selfish, but I'm thinking the kidney is pretty much going to put her in the black for a real long time.

So, if you have a minute or two on Tuesday, please say a prayer for Joanna and the lucky recipient of her kidney.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The simple things

Sometimes it is the simple things that make me smile big.

Last Saturday morning Brianne called me at 8:30 dreaming of "delicious homemade onion rings and guacamole." Now those two things don't usually go together, especially not at 8:30 in the morning. But just hearing the excitement in Brianne's voice made me smile.

Brianne and Brandon came to Utah to go to the BYU game (a birthday present for Brandon) and Brianne and Leslee planned a BBQ for after the game.

In honor of both Brianne and I being in Utah on the same day, we pulled out all the stops and whipped up amazing (if I do say so myself) beer-batter onion rings and guacamole to go along with Brandon's amazing hamburgers and hot dogs.

Brianne, I'll make delicious onion rings with you any day!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Freedom in Never Again?

My friend Anne is continually coming up with amazing ideas. I'm usually awed by her creative genius in all things design, but the other day, she got me thinking about something more philosophical than normal.

A while ago, Anne decided to make a Never Again list. She's decided some things she just doesn't ever have to do again. Some things are on the list because she doesn't like them ... others are on the list because they aren't good for her. For instance, she says she never needs to eat fettuccine alfredo. She says that she never enjoys it as much as she thinks she will, so why keep eating it. Another Never Again for Anne: Diet Coke. Now this one, I think might be a bit harder for her. The other day I was sucking a cold one down right under her nose and I think she almost cracked. But, Diet Coke isn't good for the body, so it's on her list.

Anne says one of the benefits to having the list is people understand her refusals when she says that "x" is on my Never Again list.

While I don't think Diet Coke is going to make any sort of Never Again list I make, but I think the theory of the idea is valid.

I think I'll tip-toe into the list. Never Again #1: Spaghetti-Os. This will be an easy one. I don't ever eat them, but I can definitely go the rest of my life without those ghastly little paste donuts touching my tongue. What will be #2? I'll have to think on it.

What would be on your Never Again list?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The trail to tennis

Friday afternoon, my sister Bethany dropped me off at the Bethel, CT train station. I was on my way to meet my friend Matt in our almost annual pilgrimage to the US Open. Earlier in the day, Danny told me it would be "really easy" to transfer trains on the way from Bethel to Grand Central in NYC.

After the transfer, I was thinking ... Danny was right. That wasn't bad at all. But as the stops kept coming and none of them seemed to be anything other than Connecticut towns, I started to wonder if maybe I didn't just get on the wrong train. Sure enough. I was headed 
to Bridgport, not eve close to Grand Central. I got off and waited for the NYC bound train on the other side of the tracks. Eventually I got to Grand Central and made my way to Penn Station where I was to meet Matt. The whole experience was punctuated when a homeless man vomited on my flip-flop-clad foot. Thank heaven for cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer and the death stare.

But after all that fun, Matt and I spent 12 hours + at the Billy Jean
 King National Tennis Center Friday. We saw amazing tennis and we're ready for more!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Perfect 10 ... er .. I mean 16.2!!

I haven't spent as much time in front of the TV since I was laid up after knee surgery watching Lost for the first time. The 2008 Olympics has been pretty much addictive and I think I'll end up having to buy a new bulb for my projector by the time the games come to and end. And ... I may just have to award Michelle with a medal -- probably silver, but she still has a few days, so maybe gold -- for viewing prowess.

With the Olympics come great rushes of adrenalin watching athletes like Michael Phelps make history, a tearful moment living through the heartbreaking disappointment of Lolo Jones when the gold seemed just a hurdle away, and scoring confusion. Yep, mathematical mahem. What did they do to the Perfect 10!? You know ... the Perfect 10, as in Nadia and Marilou. I just watched several days of amazing performances, even one or two called "perfect" by some guy who seems to know what he's talking about. And then they pop up some formula for a score that potentially has no limit, but I guess if it's over 16, it's pretty amazing. Oh, pluuhhleeezz! Just give me the 10! I can figure out what a 9.75 means when I know there is a 10 to give me an upper limit! I will say this ... for 8 year olds, the little Chinese girls seem to get it ... great gymnasts AND mathematicians!

All in all, I love the Olympics and now that the gymnastics is over, I can settle down and watch without taxing my math deficient brain.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Food ala CL & Michelle

I volunteered (and Michelle gamely let me drag her into helping) to organize the food for the river trip. My favorite part of the menu was our surprise appetizer for Friday night.

Before the trip, Michelle and I got a little loopy after hours of figuring out the menu and doing all the pre-shopping we could before I left for Lake Powell. Somewhere out of our demented minds we thought it would be really funny to pull out a beautifully arrange artisanal cheese tray. So, the night before we left on the trip, Michelle and I stood staring at the cheese case in Costco trying to decide if we were crazy or if people would actually like to eat a bunch of cheese. We dived in, and I have to say ... it was a complete success after a few odd looks from some of our campers.

Self-pampered city girl spends 15 days camping (almost consecutively)

That's right. Me, the girl who doesn't like to go more than two weeks between mani/pedis, just got back from two weeks of vacation spent in the "wilderness."

The first week of my vacation was spent at Lake Powell with my cousins, aunts and uncles. I slept under the stars every night, albeit on a houseboat. But don't knock it ... some of us need to ease ourselves into hardcore camping (which was soon to follow).

Lake Powell was beautiful, and just the right mix of relaxation and fun. Everyday went something like this: Wake up, go out on the ski boat, eat, sleep in the sun, eat, read a book, eat, sleep in the sun some more, eat, play games with the cousins, sleep. Oh, and did I mention copious amounts of chilled Diet Coke? Could it get any better?

I learned my philosophy of successful vacations with a lot of people from my Aunt Leslee. Leslee's plan of attack for keeping a large, tightly confined group happy is to keep the tasty morsels coming. This philosophy proved itself again this year in Lake Powell.

I was sad to see the Lake party come to an end, but we headed home just in time for me to hit the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and then hit the road for my next week of vacation.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, I loaded up Larry & Carol's Expedition with seven of my friends and the Haulmark trailer and we set out for a 6-day whitewater adventure on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. After a memorable stop at Costco, the eight of us joined up with the rest of the group at Boundary Creek putin, just outside of Stanley, Idaho. We spent the rest of Monday afternoon and evening rigging the rafts and then camped at Boundary Creek, surviving an epic rain storm in tents. Our group of 24 launched Tuesday morning (more like afternoon if we're honest) to tackle the Middle Fork.

What a trip we had. The first three days seemed like they were filled with one disaster after another including freezing (if you ask me) rain and hail, trees blocking the river, massive mud slides that turned the crystal water to mud for the remainder of the trip, a 9-year-old with a bad case of the flu, a dislocated shoulder for one of our rowers and a dramatic tear in one pontoon of Big Al's brand new cataraft. Luckily the next three days settled down a bit and we were able to focus on running the spectacular rapids of the Middle Fork.

While Lake Powell was still a bit on the cushy side, the river trip is the closest thing to hard-core camping I will ever come. I do manage to bring a bit of my pampered self along -- I pack three people into my six man tent and use a battery powered pump to inflate an air mattress every night. I have my limits.

I made a new friend on the river this year. This is Jon Osgood, owner of American Whitewater in California. Jon let me be a passenger on his boat for the first three days of the trip. When he got bored, he made me take the oars so he could assume the River Princess position on the bow of the boat (I guarantee I was in Princess pose far more than I was on the oars).
After day three, Jon wanted to spend some time in the two-man paddle boat (aka The Shredder), so he turned his raft over to Matthias. I bravely got on board and we went through impressive Tappan Falls without a hitch.

The proof is in the banana ... and the grapes

Lake Powell banana and some grapes that lasted more than a week ...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Would it be too much to say: Debbie Meyer, you're my hero?

For the past two weeks, I've been living life out of the Debbie Meyer Green Bag. To my complete surprise, the damn things actually do prolong the life of fruit, veggies and one very long suffering bag of cilantro.

I will post pics of the famous Lake Powell bananas when I get the battery on my camera charged up. After a very HOT car ride to the Lake, they were amazingly fresh and yellow for Tuesday's breakfast.

Last week, Michelle and I packed all the fresh stuff for 6 days on the river with 24 of our friends and I'm truly impressed. Red peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes lasted the entire week, even through some new, wild rapids on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

This damn bag better work.

Michelle and I made a last minute mad dash through Target before I leave on my Lake Powell vacation tomorrow. Michelle, with her eagle eye, spotted an "as seen on TV" treasure that we just couldn't pass up: The Debbie Meyer Green Bag.

The Green Bag is supposed to extend the shelf life of fruit and veggies almost to the point of petrified wood. And, with Debbie's face plastered on the front of the box making the promises, the challenge is just too tempting (especially at 1 a.m. after spending way too much time packing up a two-year supply of food for a six day vacation). So Leslee and I decided to put the claims to the test and take the bags to Lake Powell.

Our litmus test will be with bananas (the very ones I'm holding above -- fresh from Costco today), which Leslee says only last about 2 minutes in the heat of Wahweap.

We placed the whole bunch of bananas in the not-so-large large Green Bag and folded over the top loosely, like the directions say ... but we weren't satisfied that the bag will really stay closed on the journey to Powell, so we added a little scotch tape to the mix (bagged bananas in Leslee's hand at left -- if you look real close you can see the all-knowing grin on Debbie Meyers face on the Green Bag box).

Tune in next week for the results of the "This Damn Bag Better Work Because I Want Good Bananas on My Cereal in Lake Powell Thursday" scientific study.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pretty in Pink and then some

I'm in California this weekend visiting my cousin Brianne. She took me to a minor league baseball game near her home in Temecula.

As the players came out to the field to warm up, I look out and what do you know ... the home team is all dressed up pink jerseys. At first I was a little excited to think that a team had enough confidence to pull out their inner females. Then we found out it was in honor of breast cancer awareness. Oh, and not only were the unis sweet, the bases were painted hot pink.

But the frosting on the cake had to be the mid-inning entertainment, the Red Panda ... see the posted video.