Monday, April 26, 2010

California, Part 1

California.  Just typing it makes me feel like a movie star.  Palm trees, cameras, and rich/famous lining the streets!  So romantic.  The land of opportunity for so many, that place is crammed to the max with Hollywood hopefuls and regulars alike.  We, however weren't going to tour or vacation.  We had a job to do.

We loaded the plane early Monday morning and took our seats in the ninth row.  Paul took the window seat living me with access to the aisle in case of a sudden trip to the lavatory.  It was my first plane ride without motion sickness medication and I was apprehensive.

Not to mention how glamorous I felt (and looked) before the plane even left the ground.  Thankfully, Paul had enough energy for the both of us and I fed off it for most of the morning.

We said goodbye to the Utah mountains and sipped our warm orange juice thousands of feet above solid ground.

Nauseous but holding firmly to my breakfast I walked down the steep steps of the plane followed closely by a band of Rowberry's.

Baggage was collected and we filled a shuttle heading toward Enterprise for our car rental.  Natalie, my little niece, was getting a little grumpy so I offered to take a picture.  I pretended to be a paparazzi and told her how gorgeous she was and to smile and that she was a star and it sent her into a fit of giggles.  She loves to giggle, and she has a talent for it.

"Grandma Rowberry" thought we were pretty goofy.

We arrived at the rental place and were giving two of these beauties to drive around like a fleet.  I started drooling as images of Paul and I driving to church with five kids in the back began to waft between my ears like a palpable mist.  While most of the Rowberry's loaded into one, we got the second to ourselves for that maiden voyage.  Paul sat in the seat for a bit before he finally turned to me and asked, "Is this thing on?"  I listened.  It was so quite that I wasn't quite sure.  He turned the key and the engine shut off.  We smiled at each other as he reignited the engine and slowly pulled out.

We followed my father-in-law, but keeping up with him in LA traffic was a little harder than we thought.  Paul gave the gas pedal a little extra push and a powerful roar hummed beneath the hood, and the van took off. 

I can't quite describe Paul's reaction to the power of that van, but if you can imagine handing little boy Stalin a magnifying glass on a sunny day in front of a colony of innocent black ants and listening to his laugh as he "scientifically" changed those  black ants to "fire" ants, that would about be what Paul's laugh sounded like.  He apparently was really liking that horsepower. . .

We picked up my sister-in-law from her apartment and headed down to the studio for our first practice with The Pumpkins, stopping at Wendy's on the way.

We were hungry and desperate for food, and once we got everything we ordered we ate fast because we were running late.  Being late for your first rehearsal with world famous rock group is probably on the list of things not to do when making a first impression.

We pulled into the parking lot and were greeted by this sign.  Apparently, there were a couple other famous people rehearsing that day, like Gorillaz. . .

And Jordan Sparks.  Her fans waited outside the gates.

We however, were oh-so-special and got to actually enter the studio where the lady at the front desk directed us to Studio 1.
See, Studio 1.

I immediately began taking pictures, trying to record every moment for my posterity.

I wanted to memorize every guitar and speaker and. . .

microphone apparently.  However, Linda knew something was wrong.  She knew those weren't Billy's guitars.  She asked if this was the Pumpkins room and we giving a resounding no.  We returned to the front desk to ask again for the studio number we rightfully belonged in.

It was number 2, which was fine because 2 is a cooler number anyway.

Billy was already set up when we walked it which helped us feel more comfortable about that being the right room.  He was sporting a guitar that was recognizably his to the trained eye, which let us know he wasn't one of those superstar lookalike people, which was also comforting.

Our little 'choir' stood beside the base player.  His name was Mark, and he was SUPER friendly and fun to talk to.
This is the drummers. . . butt?  it was suppose to be his drum set, but he stepped in front while I was taking a picture.
Pregnant Linda took her place at the organ.  Her baby was loving all the noise and wiggled up a storm.

The Smashing Pumpkins began rehearsing just as a band before they asked us to come sing.

Our odd little group set on the couch and admired The Pumpkins talent.

We were all giving earplugs because the studio didn't have insurance coverage for hearing loss. ;)  I'd never really worn earplugs before and I was having a hard time judging my volume as well as the volume of those around me.  Billy and the band seemed completely comfortable.  They had worn earplugs numerous times before and had volume and pitch control down to an art.

Little Kayla, my other niece, was having a hard time standing still.  She loved dancing to the music and thought the '"marshmallows" in her ears were silly.

Billy did a lot of sound checks to make sure he had the balance he wanted.  This was the first.  Mostly my camera just picked up the  bass because I was standing by the bass speaker.  But the bass guy was so cool that it made my amateur photography almost cool.

When it was time, we took our places for our singing debut.  We were. . . nervous. . . wouldn't you be?  Our background singing sounded like mere whispers hidden beneath the amplified guitars.  The sound man asked us to stand closer to our microphones, sing louder, scoot toward our mics a little more, okay, more volume, maybe some more volume still, closer, louder!  He was very patient.

We practiced for three hours before Billy called it a day, although the Rowberry Choir rehearsals had just begun.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rock 'n Sew

Okay.  Remember my secret project that I was working on.  I have finished!  Tomorrow morning I fly out to California and give these baby gifts to my sister-in-law.  I don't think she reads this but if she does, I doubt she'll see it till then.  So, without further ado. . . the shag quilt and bibs!

Ta da!

Here's a close-up of the bibs.  The railroad crossing bib was my second attempt at applique.  I ran out of thread a third of the way through so I had to unpick it all and start over with a different color.  I hate applique.

I had to cut almost four hundred squares to make this bad boy, but it turned out really fun and the texture is amazing after it's washed.  Cutting all of the little shaggy fringes wasn't amazing, but it was worth it.

Anyway, on to bigger and better things.

What are you doing Tuesday night?  Working?  Cooking?  Playing around on the computer?  Water aerobics?  Can I make a recommendation.  If you get excruciatingly bored, tune it to this guy:

Cause, I'll be there at the live show. . . singing background with my in-laws for this guy:

 That's Billy.  He's the lead singer for The Smashing Pumpkins.

I know that sounds crazy.  I didn't believe it at first either.  But here's the schedule for the show.

My sister-in-law is really good friends with Billy Corgan, and while in attendance at her wedding last summer he heard our family sing "Love At Home" and was impressed.  He apparently liked our sound enough to invite us to be a part of The Pumpkins for an evening. . . an evening he happened to be spending with Jay Leno.

You best believe I'm taking a camera for this event and will recap it in details next Sunday.  Fear not, this will include pictures of my shoes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A smell of a different kind

My apartment stinks and I don't know how to fix it.  I clean and vacuum and dust and scrub and bathe and still these putrescent fumes waft their way up my nostrils and strangle my gag reflex.  In my many attempts to kill the haunting smells I’ve began devising theories on their origins.

My trash can looks something like this:
There are two people living in my house.  Two.  A couple.  Not very many.  Astronauts fly to Mars and back before we are able to fill this sucker up.  Perhaps that was a bit detail-oriented of me to say.  I know, shock.

It usually takes us a week and a half or two weeks to fill up our trash can.  By the time it’s full, the food in the bottom of the bag no longer smells like identifiable food.  I’ve washed the can with laundry detergent; I’ve sprayed it with air fresheners.  I’ve tried scented bags.  I’ve taken it out when it’s not quite full because it smelled so bad.  This past week I walked around the house thinking of things to throw away just to fill the bag.

I’m too thrifty to take out half empty bags, although I’m starting to want to more and more.
To add to the smelly garbage, on Thursday I decided it was time to do something with this icky table.  It’s scratched up top and 90’s stained wood just wasn’t conducive to a stylish 2010 living room.

Armed with a three dollar can of spray paint and a drop cloth I descended the stairs from my apartment and set up my studio in the middle of the grass.

The end result was exactly as I had hoped it to be.  Miraculous.
Yet all good things must come with a price and with my new ebony end table came the strong scent of paint.

Oh, I would that my home smelled of something pleasant.  I remember walking into different houses of friends and acquaintances and marveling at the variety of scents, mostly good, which accompanied such estates.  After certain trips and vacations from my childhood home I could catch a certain glimpse of its original scent.  I held onto the hope that my future house would also be a pleasant place in spirit and fragrance.

I look forward to the day when I can walk through the door after work and not be assaulted by garbage and paint fumes.  The question is, when is that day?

BYU update:  I have finally been readmitted and although there were some mix-ups, thanks to my wonderful aunt, I can finally register for fall classes.  I'm so very eager to return that I fear the summer will be far to long.

Thank you Juju for all your help!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Holy places: home, temples, and my oven

The wind was howling.  Had been all week.  I was sitting in my living room with a book nearly plastered to my nose when I heard the door rattle.  Whistles erupted from the cracks beneath the door.  Because our door doesn't latch completely, I jumped off the couch to twist the deadbolt to the left, securing it in place.  It continued to rattle but held shut.  The atmosphere dripped with intensity as the thick air whirled around my little home.  I opened the blinds to admire the power of nature and its Creator.

The sky.  It was beige.

The book.  It was exquisite. . . when I could concentrate on it.

Real life just seemed too interesting to put down.  It was like someone stuck a microscope on the tips of my insect feelers because I was simply absorbing the details around me.  The dust devils swirling like a coordinated dance, the palpable bitter chocolate taste, and the feel of my hair whipping wildly around my head as I stepped out the door.  My doormat was swept off the porch by a particularly unruly gust of wind and flew eighteen feet in the air before it was pushed back to the ground by another burst.  It would sit in the far corner of my yard until ten o’clock that night when I arrived home from a grueling day of work.

While I was savoring the romance and intensity of that wondrous weather, I failed to connect it with the events of the next day.

Which was Thursday.

Which was a special day.

Because my dear friend was going to through the temple for the first time in preparation for her upcoming mission.  I remember when that was my Thursday, except it was a Saturday, but it was just as special.  For this reason, I greatly desired to be with her to selfishly bask in her joy and spirit.  The temple she chose to attend was Oquirrh Mountain.  Although it was a mere forty-five minute jog up the freeway, I was feeling a great deal of anxiety about this trip.

While my car doesn’t make loud flatulent noises (like a certain sister’s) he has his share of problems.  And yes, my car is a ‘he’.  I cannot give a technical description of these issues, but I can describe its effects.  When a speed is reached that is higher that about fifty miles per hour his steering wheel begins to shake back and forth and it is suddenly difficult to control him.  So, I’m very cautious about driving on the freeway and typically avoid it.

That afternoon prepared with a full tank of gas, an ipod set to my ‘Sunday folder’ for spiritual preparation, googled directions written in large bold letters for at-a-glance reading on the back of a torn envelope, I felt as ready for my trip.  I loaded in to my car and gripped the steering wheel while giving myself an inspiring pep talk.

“You can do this,” I said.  “You can do this!”

My desire to be on time for this glorious event inspired me leave an hour earlier than was really necessary, but I offered a prayer to my Father that I’d be protected and not get lost.  Double insurance.  I turned the key in the ignition and reluctantly putted toward the freeway.  Making my way up the ramp I slammed on the gas in an attempt to reach interstate speeds before I was run over by a semi.  My steering wheel started its shaking and I gripped it tight as to keep the car from swerving in the lane.  I remembered the words of my father telling me my tires might not last ‘til next year and, while I hadn’t initially worried about that for around-town driving, as I passed the blownup bits of rubber on the sides of the road my unease increased.  My check-engine light flashed on.  I sang along loudly with my sister-in-law belting “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” from my ipod to calm my ‘troubled heart’.  It seemed to be working.

Remember that wind?

That’s when it picked up and began to beat upon my car, which was swaying from its strength as well as the added gusts from passing vehicles. I continued to press the gas pedal to keep up with traffic only to watch Hondas, Fords, and even Kias fly past.  The only vehicles I seemed to be faster than were the semi trucks.  But that didn’t matter.  I had left an hour early, remember?

Because I’m here to write this blog you can safely assume that I lived.

It’s because I said that prayer.

I was also an hour early.  But if having to spend an extra hour at the temple was the worst that could happen, I was going to be okay.

The Oquirrh Mountain Temple has become special to me because of that extra hour.  The Lord gave me a gift there in the form of a scent.  It’s a new building, filled with new building smells.  As I walked through the doors, whiffs of new carpet and fine woods filled my nose.  I walked close to the walls in order to fill my olfactory sensors with freshness and quality.  I changed into my white dress and sat on an upholstered bench in the hallway.  As I studied the patterns in the wallpaper a scent not native to the temple construction drifted beneath my nose.  It was a human smell, not perfuming, but like clean skin and hair.  It was the smell of my grandfather—the smell of him reading a newspaper with a magnifying glass, the smell of his jokes that I took as facts, the smell of him coaxing me to say ‘eucalyptus’ so he could admire my strong lisp and fatal attempts.

I was suddenly aware of his presence in the temple with me although I could not see him.  I think he was proud of me, for I could feel his joy.  My eyes focused on the carpet and I breathed in deeply, basking in that extraordinary moment.  I bowed my head in silent prayer, thanking my Heavenly Father for the gift of temples where the veil is so thin.

When my friend walked into the chapel light beamed from her countenance like one touched by the spirit.  She, too, could feel that temples are special places.  I felt happiness that I’m unable to describe.  I didn’t want to laugh or shout or throw my hands in the air in pure glee.  I wanted to just sit and shine like a star so all could feel the warmth of my joy.

What a beautiful day!

This dear friend leaves at the end of the month to serve the people of Taiwan, and to thank her for all she’s done for me and tell her that I believe in her, I baked a cake.

Good Luck, Sister Sorensen!