Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Dave just massively killed me at Scrabble.  This is unusual because I normally win at Boggle and Scrabble.  I am a word-game person.  Also, I usually win most board games or card games against Dave.  And in this game he killed me the entire game.  I had a higher score than him during the first round (and I went first, which means that I got to double my score, so that higher score wasn't saying much for that first round).  And then Dave got ahead the next round and maintained his lead all the way to the end.

Here is the end result.   Aside from losing, it was a great game because both of us were doing really well.  We came up with some awesome words.

Pictured above is the highest scoring play in the game, which gave me 68 points.  At this point in the game, I had 153 points and Dave had 186.  So getting 68 points was a massive help to me.  (At this point the "qu" word going down and the "sa" word on the right weren't there, so I got a triple letter with "q" and the double word score.)

Unfortunately, right after that, Dave got another 51 points by simply putting down a blank (to be an "s") and an "x".  The picture above shows that.  His "x" was counted as a triple letter score in two directions.  So he got 25 points for "ex", 25 points for "sax", and 1 point for "as".  What a smarty!

Another great word that Dave got was "quaint", which he put in between the other words ("quills", "humans", and "nanny") that were already there.

The end score was Merry: 284, Dave: 317.  Ouch!  And good job, honey!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Things We're Good At

*Typing: A woman in the library told me that the sound of me typing was a trip and that if she could type as fast as I could, she would wite a book (Also, she wasn't sitting next to me, so my typing must be loud too.  I don't know if that's good or not.).
*Eating: At my neice's wedding reception this weekend (pictures to come), I helped make and then eat a ton of food.  And I have to say that I love vegetable skewers!  Who doesn't?
*Thinking positively: I see this as a talent that I have to cultivate in order to keep.  The more positively I think about anything, the better it is!  So why not?
*Doing the dishes: I really enjoy this task, so it would make sense that I am good at it.  I don't always do them right away, but when I do them I am thorough at the task.
*Wasting time online: Enough said.
*Driving only slightly over the speed limit: Okay, so this was prompted by the ticket that I got last year.  I went to traffic school and knew that if I didn't get a ticket for the year after that, my ticket would be taken off my record permanently.  I am now a religious 5-mile-over-max driver.
*Beating Dave at board games and card games: And he is so good at playing them with me even when he doesn't want to.
*Picking up random junk wherever I go: I came home from our trip to Arizona with WAY more stuff than I left with.

*Typing: I write an average of 7,000 words per minute. (Dave wrote this one to make fun of me)
*Reading: I read an average of 10 pages per minute (very short pages).
*Cooking: I like to make good food and eat it too.  My metabolism is less good at taking care of the food I eat than I am at cooking.
*Back rubs: Merry always wants a back rub if she wins a bet between us.  They are that good.

What are you good at?

Thanks, Janssen, for the inspiration for this post. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blog Redesign and Colors

I decided that the blog needed freshening up!  So I decided to change the background, using a background from blogger that incorporates a lot of the colors that I really love.

The first thing that drew me to this background was the simplicity of the colors.  There aren't too many colors all mixed together.  And maybe this is really more about the design of the circles and flowers in the background.  But I love the simplicity of it.

The specific colors that I like are the green and yellow of the top flower, the gray/blue of the second flower, and the reddish pink.

The green and yellow are so vibrant.  I especially love this combination of green and yellow because it looks like daisies and my favorite flowers are daisies.  I think I like these two colors because they immediately grab the attention.  They are the colors of living things.  I think they're beautiful together.

The gray/blue color is one of many blues that I love.  I really like almost any shade of blued.  There are great blue skies in Flagstaff, where I'm from, and I have always appreciated a blue sky.  And I love the blue of water in its different locations and shades.  For a long time the only colors that I liked were shades of blue.

And the last color, the reddish pink, is a new favorite that I've added in the last 5 years.  I used to shy away from reds and pinks because I thought they were too attention grabbing.  Nature knows that living things are attracted to red and you can see this in the coloring of plants and animals.  But as I have become more comgortable with having attention, I have become more comfortable with these colors.  I have a lot more red and pink in my wardrobe than I ever used to.

Let me know what colors you really like, and also what you think of the blog redesign.

Thanks, Michelle, for the inspiration for this post.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'm sitting at my kitchen table looking through our patio door to the wet world outside.  There are big, fluffy, white and gray clouds up in the sky and large puddles on the ground because when it rains in the desert, it floods.  The sound of the rain on the roof sounds familiar and at the same time strangely eye-opening, like I'm hearing it for the first time, because it is not a common sound in Pahrump, Nevada.

Sometimes that's how I feel when I'm thinking about the 9/11 attacks.  The story that I tell myself, of what I remember from that day is so familiar.  I was awake and getting ready for school.  I had early morning seminary, and a classmate was usually dropped off at our house so he could ride to seminary with my sister, Erin, and me.  When he got there, he told us to turn on the television.  The first tower had been hit.  We didn't know what had happened.  The three of us decided to go to seminary, but it was hard to concentrate when we were there.  We went home after seminary, instead of going to school.  By then, the second plane had crashed into the South tower and I think both towers had collapsed by then too.  Our classmate's parent's picked him up, and Erin and I stayed home and watched the TV with my parents that morning. It was a devastating morning.  I did a lot of crying and wrote in my journal.

But there are also times when I learn new things about 9/11 or hear a new perspective, and it is like this is the first time I've heard about it.  I was talking to a young woman in my church congregation the other day, and realized that she was 2 when the attacks took place.  All of her known life the United States has been dealing with the impact of this event.  That showed me that I can still experience the "realization" that this is the kind of world we live in.

I am happy and saddened at the events that have taken place since September 11, 2001.  I am happy that our country is so strong and that we've been able to survive these last 10 years.  I am happy that Osama bin Laden is dead.  I am happy that in some ways, terrorists have been weakened.  But I am sad that we continue to have to fight them and to defend our country.  I am sad because of all of the loss that has taken place since that day.  I am sad that extremists can't accept Americans as their brothers and sisters, and that many Americans can't accept Muslims as their brothers and sisters.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings on this day, as I remember the events of a decade ago.  I know that I just have to keep working on myself and my own spiritual rebuilding after any tragedy or any sorrow.  The Lord can heal us all and make us grateful for the different perspectives that we gain throughout our lives.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Tale of Two Bad Mice

I recently received a care package from my mom.  Don't you just love care packages?  And don't you love that I am still getting them as a 27-year-old married woman?

The package contained a small book: The Tale of Two Bad Mice

On the inside of the cover is a cute, awkward scrawl of the name "Merry".  All of the letters (except the 'e') are pretty lopsided.  I wonder how old I was when I put my name in this book.

The Tale of Two Bad Mice was written by Beatrix Potter.  I love her stories.  The first was The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was her big start, and then she wrote 22 more "tales" that are part of the Peter Rabbit Books.  She wrote other books outside this series as well..  Our family just had 11 of them.  The ones we had were:

The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
The Tailor of Gloucester
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
The Tale of Two Bad Mice
The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle
The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher
The Tale of Tom Kitten
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies
The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse

Somehow all of the other books that we had have gone missing or been destroyed.  But I'm glad that my mom sent me  The Tale of Two Bad Mice.  It brought back such good memories and I immediately sat down and read it to Dave!  And when we have children, I think I'll want to get the rest of the books again.  Also, I just recently heard about the movie about Beatrix Potter, called Miss Potter.  Have any of you seen it?  It looks interesting and I might watch it sometime soon.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The LDS Prophet on What We've Learned from 9/11

The prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, wrote a guest post in the Washington Post "On Faith" section.  He shared his feelings about the September 11th attacks and how faith has waxed and wained in people over the 10 years since the attacks.  His message emphasizes that we should seek greater and greater faith in God and Jesus Christ all throughout our lives, not just after great tragedies.  Our Savior always wants to be a part of our lives.

I know that Jesus Christ wants to be a part of my life.  I am grateful for the times that I've been able to rely on my faith to get me through hard times.  I am also grateful that I can strengthen that faith and my relationship with the Savior through praying, reading the scriptures (the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other inspired works), giving service, and attending church meetings.  These are things that everyone can do, and that everyone can do daily.  We never have to feel alone.

I am grateful to know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, and to be able to read and be inspired by his words.  You can read his article here, or read some of his other inspiring words here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nevada Ghost Towns

All last week Dave and I wondered what we were going to do for Labor Day. We threw around the ideas of going to California and playing on the beach, going camping north of Pahrump, or exploring some of Southern Nevada's ghost towns. From the title of the post, can you guess which one we did? :D

We started out the day with a trip to McDonald's at midnight to celebrate the Monday holiday right away. Then we slept in until past 8am, which was a present to me from Dave. He knows how much I love sleeping in, but he is not really a sleep-in person. After getting ready, grocery shopping, and packing a lunch, we headed out on the road.

The rest of the post is really just a bunch of pictures of a couple of ghost towns north of here. So if that sounds boring, skip the rest. But we really enjoyed our Labor Day. We got lots of exercise walking around among the ruins, we got a little sun, and we had a lot of fun exploring and talking to a couple of people who volunteer as guides in the ghost town of Rhyolite.

What did you do for your Labor Day?

Here is a view of the Nevada desert wilderness.  It really is surprising how deceiving distances in the desert are.  It takes forever to get to places that don't seem that far.

The sign for Rhyolite, which is the biggest ghost town in Southern Nevada.

At a museum in Rhyolite, there were several statues that a European artist made for display.  I love the ghosts!

This is supposed to be the Last Supper in ghosts.  I guessed correctly, that the artist draped models in cloth that was heavily soaked in plaster, and then took it off when it was dry to make these statues.  Pretty interesting.

The valley that Rhyolite is in is called the Golden Horseshoe because it has so many gold mines in it (around 50).  This mountain has about 17 miles of underground tunnels in it.

And this mountain has about 14 miles of underground tunnels in it.  I think that's amazing.

I thought this statue was great.  It's for a famous miner in this area.  He was alone and really lonely.  Apparently the artist thought that putting in a penguin would make the minor's spirit less lonely.  :D

Okay, now these pictures are of the actual town.  It was interesting to walk down these dirt roads and see what was left.  Rhyolite was a town that began and declined rapidly in the early 1900s.

Several of the buildings, like these, were unidentified.  But if I know what the building was, I'll include that here.

It is unknown what this building originally was.  The interesting thing is that wood is at such a premium in this area that when a building is no longer used, it's wood is taken and used somewhere else.  So this building was moved to Beatty (the closest modern town) after the town of Rhyolite was abandoned.  It stayed there until the 1980s as the town's two-room emergency clinic!  When the town decided to build a new one in the 80s, they gave the building back to Rhyolite so they could include it as part of their ghost town.

This is Tom Kelly's bottle house.  It is made of beer and alcohol bottles and maybe cement.  The man who built it won the land in a raffle, built the house out of bottles that a kid he hired found on the ground around town, and then raffled the house for several hundred dollars.  Sounds like a good deal to me!

He wasn't building the house for himself (and maybe if he had it wouldn't have made a difference) and he didn't wash out the bottles that he was using.  Here is a cork that was in one of the bottles that he used.  The house was repaired in 2005, but it was mostly just stabilized and some of the bottles were replaced.  They were only replaced with bottles from the same time period.

This purple glass is from the time period.  It started out clear, but turned this violet color because of a chemical reaction of some chemical that was in the sand.  Pretty, huh?

Here is the front porch area.  I think it's so cool that he turned bottles upside down in the dirt to make a walkway.

I think that this building was unidentified.  But Dave and I thought the walls were cool and took some pictures.

This building was the school.  The town way over-estimated the demand for the school and the length of time the town would last.

This was the general store.

This was the vault in a bank that was run by the same man that owned the general store.

Some old stove that was sitting on the side of the road.  Doesn't Dave look like a crusty old miner?

This was the Cook Bank, which was right next to the Porter Bank.  Dave and I figured out that the reason a town that small could support two banks (and right next to each other, too) was all of the gold deposits!  Of course!  You can see the vault for this bank on the right side of the building.

Here's a view of the Cook Bank from farther away.  It's quite the majestic building.

A little caboose that was by the train depot.

And here's the train depot.  I think that this must have been restored.  It was in really good condition, at least on the outside.  That's how most of the buildings were that had insides.  When we looked inside any of them, they weren't in great condition and they had tons of trash in them.

And of course we found trash on the ground too.  Lots of broken glass.  And these piles of cans that we saw in certain places indicate that a house was located here before the wood was hauled off somewhere else (at least, that's what we think).

We saw some wild life.  These were some kind of strange bird that I've never seen before.

A lizard.  We also saw huge jack rabbits, but we couldn't get pictures of them because they moved too fast.

This is one of the restored residences.

Fun stuff.

This is the Rhyolite jail.  That door that you can see is closed and the cells of the jail are blocked off so you can't see them.

But here are the windows with bars.

This is an unidentified building in Bullfrog.  Bullfrog was a rival town that started up just down the hill from Rhyolite (and I mean JUST down the hill; I thought it was part of the same town), and that died out really quickly when the people in Rhyolite offered them free land to move up to their town.

But of course it had its own jail.  This is the oldest building in this area.

And Rhyolite and Bullfrog shared a cemetary.

It was interesting to walk around and see the few graves that were there. Many of them were surrounded by railings like this, but had no marker to say who was buried there.  This one was small, for a child.

All in all, it was a fun day exploring two of Nevada's ghost towns.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I Hope They Call Me on a Mission...

I think that most of my readers (that I know about!) know this, but I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We're also known as the Mormons because we believe in the Book of Mormon as some of God's words, along with the Bible and other spiritual guidance revealed through Joseph Smith.

Many of my family members are also LDS, including my parents, and they are going to serve a mission!  They got their mission call on August 12th.  They had been waiting for about 6 weeks to hear from the church mission department to find out where they would be assigned to go on their mission.  On August 12th they found out that they will be going to South America on their mission!

Their mission is quite different than lots of other missions.  They are going to be on a church service mission as mental health workers.  They are both professional counselors.  What they will be doing in their mission is providing counseling to missionaries and mission leaders in the Northwest area of South America.  This will include 24 missions in Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru (where they will live).  They will be living in the Lima East Mission.  They will do much of their counseling over the phone with people.

They are going to be leaving in either November or December, depending on when their visas arrive.  Normally missionaries have a set date when they know they are going to leave on their mission.  But the couple that served in this capacity before my parents had to leave their mission a little early for medical reasons.  So the church wants to get my parents down to that area as soon as they are able to go.

This is really exciting for me and my family.  Mom and Dad have wanted to serve a mission for a long time, but because of one thing and another they've had to put it off for several years.  And now they finally get to go!