Sunday, October 19, 2008


As Matt mentioned, it was a very crazy day last Sunday. Our neighbors are great people. We became friends the first week they moved in. Homer was home most of the time because of his health so we got to know him pretty fast. He would yell hello through the door sometimes when he'd hear Matt come home, or he'd jump outside when he'd hear us come up the steps to say hi, it scared me a couple of times because he was so quick. I was glad we were there to help her call the ambulance when he fell, but it was hard to not be able to comfort her when she was in such a state of anxiety. I wanted so bad to help her but I didn't know how, especially in the middle of it all happening, not knowing if he was going to make it. We were relieved to hear, after they were in the ambulance for a very long time, that they got a pulse. However, the next day she came over in the afternoon to tell us that he had passed away a little earlier. She's such a great lady, but she's had a really hard time this week, which is completely understandable. She's come over a few times to talk and she and I went shoe shopping today for his memorial service. I've been thinking so much this week about the blessings I receive as a member of the church and how much a part of my life it is. It's not just something I believe, or something we do once a week, but it's a part of everything I am, everything I do.

We went to his memorial service tonight and it was really nice. The pastor could have been a John Bytheway. It was different from anything I've been to before, but it was nice and the family was so good to us. We went to a dinner with them after the service and ate way too much meat and talked with our neighbor some more. Matt and I have had some really great experiences already. We've met so many good people and have learned a lot about a culture that is very different from ours.

I wanted to add a little about our trip to Yorktown! There's so much history to see out here. Matt's brother Eric and his friend took us out to take a tour of the area and learn about how different things could have turned out if everything hadn't happened like it did in Yorktown.

Matt breaking through the British defenses

I think I may be a little more British than Matt by reason of number of Hugh Grant movies watched.

I didn't get to go hunting this year, but I did get to shoot like a rebel.

Last week we forgot to mention our trip to the National Cathedral. It was so incredible. I'm somewhat ignorant on all matters political, national, etc. and I didn't know it existed, but it's definitely worth seeing. It's enormous and it has hundreds of stained glass windows, they're all different, and they were all symbolic of the life of Christ.

I keep hearing about foreign things back in Utah like cold, and snow, and winter. But we live in a magical land where it never snows. It was 75 degrees today, supposedly, even with some rain. It has gotten cooler though, so, here I sit with my blow dryer and blanket.

Oh, and I go back to work on Monday after my awesome three week break! I don't know how I'm going to handle not being able to talk people in the day anymore. I'll give another update to tell you if it goes smoother teaching after I've had a while to catch up and figure things out a little more:)

Our favorite thing to cook!

Passing on what I learned from Special K

This has been an interesting week; I've been doing some good solid thinking beyond my normal fare of bike and cars. Today for example, I was made the 2nd counselor in the young men's presidency. In the LDS church, there is no paid clergy so everyone helps out. I'm now in charge of leading the young men in our ward from 12-13; we only have one right now, so I'll get to spend all of my time molding him just how I want him. We're going to have some good lessons about the gospel and cars. I'll get to help out with all of the young men though. I'm actually really excited about this opportunity.

I remember back to when I was a kid and my best friend Arthur and I used to go to young men's together. I know my leaders had a very big impact on me. One in particular (we used to refer to him as 'Special K') really made me think for the first time about why I was coming to church every Sunday and what I really believed. Beyond that, he really gave me a role model that I could see myself becoming in the near future because he was close to our age. In fact, I still, to this day remember the one of the first lessons he gave us when we were 14. It was a commercial for the 1997 911 Carrera. It was narrated by Patrick Stewart and was about 8 minutes of Porsche propaganda. He skillfully tied it into the Gospel of Jesus Christ and from that point forward, he owned us. Because we respected him so much, it was easy to take advice from him that we probably would have resented had it come from our parents. Don't get me wrong, I love my dad, but when your thought processes are irrational, your hormones are unbalanced, and your feet are too big for your body, sometimes, your dad isn't the person you want to hear it from.
1997 Porsche 911 996

Today, unfortunately, was more exciting than I would care for though. Nicole and I were sitting in the front room talking when about 4:00 there was a loud knock at our door. It was our neighbor to tell us her husband who's an older man had fallen. When we went in to check, he was on the floor and wasn't breathing. I called the paramedics and the ambulance came. Then two fire trucks arrived. As time went on our neighbor became more and more distraught at the situation. There were 6 men in the room all fighting to save one man's life. I felt pretty much helpless as I just sat there and watched and prayed he would be ok. The good news is that by the time the ambulance left for the hospital, they had a pulse. We're waiting to hear news and praying that everything goes well for him. He's such a kind, caring man. It made me think though about how fast life can change. It was certainly not something we expected. It also made me think about how much we value life. It was the first time in my life that I have been that close to tragedy and it was interesting how small I felt. There was really not much I could do change the course of what was happening. Even though we like to think we are in control of our lives and making our own decisions, we really have so little control over so many things in our lives. I'm optimistic he will be alright, but this is where the blessings of faith come in--I have faith in God who does have complete control over what happens.

On a much lighter note; on Wednesday, also while seated and talking in our front room, we had the biggest daddy long legs I have ever seen in my life on our wall. As a man and defender of our domain, it is my responsibility to kill anything that is unwanted that enters our home--I'm still hoping that a grizzly bear with a crow bar breaks open our door and moseys through one day. But as for this daddy long legs, I smashed him with a steel ruler. He completely exploded. We found various legs all over the place. One of them was still moving around.
Daddy Long Legs (shown with murder weapon for reference)

Other than that, that has been most of our news. Some of you who know me well may be getting phone calls and/or letters from the U.S. government this week asking personal questions about me. Don't worry, I haven't been arrested yet. This is just standard procedure for getting access to military bases. I just thought I'd give you all the heads up.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Virginia is for Lubbers.

So this weekend was awfully nice. Nicole has some time off from teaching because she's at a year round school, while I have a couple of days off because of a wonderfully confused man named Columbus. Columbus founded a great city in what is today Central Ohio, started a major university in New York, started a great line of sporting goods and outerwear, and did a number of remarkable things. In gratitude for all his hard work, we take a long weekend.

Nicole and I in the mountains

Anyway, for our family's celebration of Columbus day this year, we went to the Shenandoah Mountains. They have a national park there. It used to be home to many Indians who were on vacation from southeast Asia, but got stranded. Thankfully Columbus was able to discover they were here when he came across.
Sunset in Shenandoah

The mountains were perfect though. The leaves have just begun to change and showed off all sorts of colors while were there. We spent two nights there and got to enjoy some great hiking. There were several nice waterfalls to look at as well as great trees. We had some good food including tin foil salmon dinners.

An amazing waterfall

As far as wildlife, it was also plentiful. The park is long and skinny and has one central highway that runs from one end of the park to the other. Because the park is a wilderness area in the-middle-of-no-where Virginia, and there's not much to do, the animals tend to hang out right on the side of the highway and for excitement pretend to jump in front passing cars. This is good because it gives lots of opportunities for people to see the animals, but bad because lots of older camper-driving park guests also go into cardiac arrest. During our travels, we were fortunate enough to almost hit two black bears and more deer than I can count. I'm not sure I've seen black bears in the wild before, but these were smaller than what I had imagined--I would guess 300 lbs.

On Saturday, we got up early and drove out of the park and over to DC. We spent the day hanging out with Eric. It was quite relaxing. First we went 'apple picking.' Apple picking is a time every year during the fall harvest where for just a little more per pound than what you would pay in the grocery store, you get the pleasure of doing hard labor that would normally already be done for you. We got about 5 lbs of apples and have plans for all of them including pie, cobbler, and good, old-fashioned caramel.

After picking apples, we went to a bbq in Georgetown. It was a lot of fun with a lot of really good food. We ate chicken, pork, and pineapple off the grill as well as fresh salsas and other good things. Eric has a lot of really great friends. In fact, now that I've been around them a couple of times, many are starting to recognize me and call me 'Matt' instead of 'Eric's brother.'

For a great evening, we went to Old Town Alexandria. For those of you who haven't been before, Old Town is a section in an older district of DC that is just lined with lots of little shops and restaraunts. It is lined with lights and lots of people are out walking around to enjoy the evenings with. Nicole and I both agree that it is our favorite atmosphere--it would remind one a lot of Park City at night. For us, the air was cool and perfect. We walked around for a bit and watched the street performers and then had some really great (although a tad bit expensive) ice cream. All in all, it was an amazing evening. Our trip has turned out to be a great vacation. We have both been really relaxed and have enjoyed ourselves thouroughly.

Unfortunately, just as Columbus had to leave his new friends to go home, we to0, must go back to the real world--however, as tradition dictates, our parting gift to my brother and his friends will be small pox.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Awww Autumn

My sister recently blogged about her husband's and my dad's recent hunting trip, (see Carolyn's blog)and with all the changes that have happened with the coming of Autumn, the cooler weather, the leaves beginning to change colors, our visit to the State Fair, I have been thinking a lot about the feeling of Autumn at home.  Even though Christmas and the feeling that comes with it, starting in July, is my favorite half of the year, I love the Fall. Every year my sisters and I would go "hunting" with my dad. I think my dad actually got a deer with my oldest sister and brother when they were young, but that was before my time. I heard it scarred them both and Lynnette refuses to go hunting again. One by one, each of my sisters all dropped out and I was left to be my dad's faithful hunting partner. It was both Monica and I for a long time. We liked to take pictures of us holding our deer weapons and make like we were serious about looking for game. But usually our minds were only on shooting targets and eating apples and talking like the volume of your voice didn't make a difference to whether you were going to see a deer or not.        One time when Monica and I were both younger, as we were driving down the road in our large, and very sporty, red and white striped van, my dad spotted a buck (I actually wrote "boy deer" first and then thought it wise not to sound ignorant since I am a well-trained huntress). He stopped the van suddenly and called for the gun. Monica, getting excited, because that's what we were there for after all, handed him the gun as he dashed outside and into the thick brush after the buck.        
     As we sat there, adrenaline pumping, Monica suddenly flipped around and said, "Do you realize what's happening?" As our young, Bambi-filled minds started to process what "deer hunting" actually was, for it had never played much of a part in past trips, we started to cry. To add guilt to anguish Monica added, "and I handed him the gun!" So we did what any other helpless person might do, we prayed in the back living room-sized portion of our van that my dad wouldn't get the buck. I believe Monica even asked for forgiveness for handing him the gun. As we awaited the daddy deer's fate, we heard a gun shot. That was it, we were sure. We were murderers. (Although I do think Monica would have been a little bit more murderer than me for handing him the gun.) 
       But, needless to say, my dad wandered back, rather disheartened, and climbed into the van to report that he had taken a shot at it, but it had ran around a corner and he lost it. We both made token comments of disappointment and condolence, but secretly (for it was a deep secret we wouldn't share for many years that we had prayed away possibly his only hope of catching a deer) we were relieved that we had saved a buck from it's sure fate (my dad really is a good shot).

But definitely one of my favorite days of the year is the deer hunt with my dad. For about 7 years or something it was just my dad and I. My dad is an amazing guy. I don't know if there's anything I appreciate more than those times my dad spent with just me up in the mountains. It was always so beautiful and refreshing and the words of advice, motivation, consolement, and friendship that he gave me really made me know how much he cared about me. My dad is one of those people I can just talk to about anything, and he's always interested, he's always laughing and helping me see that most situations aren't as serious as they seem, and he's always telling me I'm a good person.  I love my dad for taking me up into the mountains every year to talk and hike and shoot targets and eat apples and be with just me.  

So it's the first year I missed out on the hunt.  But because I am so talented at hunting, (I am rather stealth-like if need be), I'm going to go hunting with my dad the next time I'm in Utah in October.   So dad, don't stop hunting, and don't stop not catching a deer, and I'm still your hunting partner.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Smoking Cars, Tiny Horses, and Hairy Men--Nicole and Matt Go to the Fair

As promised, this has been a busy week. The week started off normally as Nicole worked and I went with school. We were met with disappointment however on Wed. We decided to go karting on Wed. night because it was both college night (for me) and ladies night (for Nicole). It would have made it an affordable activity. However, upon calling the track, we found out that ladies' night had been disbanded. So instead of going home happy and smelling like two-stroke, we went home clean and disappointed.

Thursday was a great day however. Nicole finished teaching for the next three weeks. Since Nicole is teaching in a year-round school, they now get a few weeks to recuperate. Nicole is particularly looking forward to this time because she really hasn't had a good chance yet to sit down and plan for her class. On Friday, I spent all day down on campus working with some equipment to take some measurements in a wind-tunnel. I was hoping to get everything done in roughly an hour--instead, it took me four. But I felt particularly smart after I figured it out and got the results I was expecting.

Friday night was the highlight of the week though. Nicole and I drove up to Richmond to the Virginia State Fair. There was a lot going on, but most importantly was the demolition derby. It's always refreshing to see grown men act like boys and smash things together for the pure fun of it. It's also lots of fun to listen to large hairy men in NASCAR shirts, with a beer and John Deere caps, yell a whole bunch of things that no one understands. After the derby finished, we enjoyed ourselves and just walked around the fair and talked about life and how glad we were that we didn't end up as 'carnys'. It was a great night of just enjoying the fair lights and fair aromas of grease and livestock. Of course to finish the evening off proper, we had a funnel cake.Cars smashing each other at the derby.

Some Midget Horses

Saturday was a great day as well. We had conference all day which was very good. We were also able to get some things done around the house before and between sessions. For me, after only three trips to Home Depot, I was able to finally mount our headboard to our bed. Then for an evening activity, we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick out our first vacuum as couple. Our two area rugs have been in desperate need of vacuuming. The unit we got is small but has some really intense suctional powers. Shopping for a vacuum was a lot more fulfilling for me than picking out something like matching napkin holders or throw pillows where I am at a disadvantage because I can't match colors. I am lots more excited about the process when I can say things like, "it has a 12 amp motor" and "says here it operates on 745 watts rms power" and such. I can't wait until we can get to pick out our first radial arm saw and our first chipper-shredder.