Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Rodeo

For the second year in a row Doug and I have gone to a rodeo. It is becoming a fun tradition. Aside from the country music and city people in cowboy hats, it's a great evening out. Huge thanks go to Doug's sister Mary for watching Penny while we were gone for the evening
We were there!
The pre-rodeo entertainment was mutton busting. Basically a bunch of kids ride a bunch of sheep. I definitely wasn't tough enough to do that when I was a kid so I really admire these kids, especially when the sheep falls on them or steps on them.
Mutton busting = holding on for dear life until you fall off
Falling off and being grateful the sheep ran the other way
To officially start the rodeo they have girls ride around with flags of the sponsors. They do cool formations like figure eights and serpentine S shapes.
The sponsor flags
They also show off the future broncos from the breeding program. These are moms with their foals who will eventually join the rodeo circuit. I just learned that a baby horse is a foal, a horse between one and two years is a yearling, a male horse under four years is a colt, and a female under four years is a filly. A gelding is a castrated male of any age. Now you know.
Mares and their foals
The first real event was the saddle bronc riding. The riders have to stay on for 8 seconds to qualify for a score. The rider can get up to 50 points and the horse can get up to 50 points. I believe the highest score was in the 80s.
Look at the bronco buck
This bronc flew out of the chute
The next event was steer wrestling. The cowboy on the left is called the hazer. He controls where the steer is going. The guy jumping off the horse is the wrestler and he jumps off the horse and pulls the steer to the ground.
Jumping off to wrestle that steer
The steer gets a head start. If the cowboy goes too soon it's called breaking the barrier and he gets 10 seconds added to his total time.
Gotta be quick but not break the barrier
Unfortunately I have one of the worst cameras in the world so when it got too dark all of my pictures were blurry.
It's us watching some cowboys and eating strawberries and cream
The other events at the rodeo included bareback riding, tie down roping, team roping, wild cow milking, barrel racing, and bull riding. My favorite was the barrel racing, partially because it's a girl  event and also because it's fun to watch them go fast then slow down to go around the barrels. In the wild cow milking event two cows ran into each other and fell down in what I now call "The Great Cow Crash of the Wednesday Night Rodeo." Also, one of the barrel racers had her horse fall down as it rounded a barrel.
The bulls that got ridden a few minutes before
All in all it was a really fun evening. Maybe next year I'll have a better camera and wow you with some amazing (and not blurry) action shots.

Have you ever been to a rodeo? What's your favorite event?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Pond

A few days ago we went to a local pond and took Penny swimming. It was her first time in the water aside from a bath we gave her a few weeks ago. She didn't really know what to think. It was refreshing to be in the cool water on such a warm day. Penny dog paddled after a little persuasion. She went out about 10 feet without touching to see Doug and then turned around to head back to shore. It was a fun afternoon.
Me and Penny going for a swim
Doug looking for birds but not seeing any in the mid-day heat
A tired puppy sleeping in the car

Monday, June 25, 2012

Books I've Read: The Host

"The Host" is a science fiction novel by the ever famous vampire novelist Stephanie Meyer. After reading the drivel that she spit out in the Twilight Saga I was pleasantly surprised when this novel wasn't terrible.
In "The Host" a parasitic alien race called "Souls" have taken over Earth. The main character, a Soul named Wanderer, is still aware of her host Melanie's personality and shares her thoughts, feelings, and memories. Wanderer starts to sympathize with her host which poses problems since Wanderer was only placed inside Melanie to retrieve information about other possible surviving humans. Wanderer, with Melanie inside her head, ends up finding her uncle Jeb and a clan of surviving humans. Among the humans are Melanie's brother and boyfriend. Nobody wants a parasite to live among them but with time they come to accept her. Wanderer starts to realize that humans are not the violent bloodthirsty beings she thought and starts to love them. Wanderer makes the hardest decision of her life when she decides to give Melanie back her body and sacrifice herself for the greater good.

While this novel is technically science fiction is it easy to forget and get lost in the human-like emotions of the main character. This novel focuses on love, mother/child relationships, and the conflicts of right and wrong in ethically grey areas. Although it wasn't my favorite book, I did enjoy it enough to recommend it. One of the things I didn't like was when Meyer broke her own rules. She did it in the Twilight Saga also. She needs a little post it note next to her computer that says "Vampires don't breathe, so don't have them inhale sharply when surprised or angry" and "Humans who have been taken over by Souls have different eyes, so having the main love interest look into her eyes is pointless" and so on. I also didn't like the ending of "The Host" but I don't want to spoil it for you so you'll have to read it and see if you agree.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Gardener

Sometimes I feel like a wealthy English woman living in a castle because I have a gardener. He doesn't prune my roses, but he's growing the best tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, eggplants, hot peppers, and basil.
My handsome gardener (and husband)
The bucket garden of eggplant, peppers, and basil
Basil in an old salad box
An eggplant blossom
Watering the zuchini
Tending the tomatoes
Some beautiful tomato leaves and blossoms
Lovingly pruning the tomatoes
Making sure stuff is growing right
The neighbors windmill
Tomato flowers
I'm so excited for the harvest this fall! The tomato varieties include Pineapple, Pink Brandy-Wine, Viva Italias, and Black Russians. We'll make eggplant parmesan and use the hot peppers in salsa and other yummy Mexican food.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Historic Homes Tour

On Friday, June 15, Doug and I toured some historic homes in our city. A few historic homes were open to the public as part of our cities 4th of July festivities. Here is a sampling of what we saw.

I really liked the first house. The owners had kept a lot of the charm while adding modern conveniences. Before the house was built there was a pottery business on the property. The homeowners still find pieces of broken pots in the yard.  
An English Tudor-style Home built in 1924
A cute window next to the front door
The stone was on the inside fire place too
The second "home" was a mansion build in the 1890s in the Victorian Eclectic-style. It was turned into a bed and breakfast and not many of the rooms hold their original charm. I didn't get a good photo of the outside but the living room was nicely decorated and there was a beautiful chandelier in the stairwell.
A pretty old sofa in the mansion
Stained glass above a window in the living room
An armoire that they ruined by chopping a hole for a TV
An amazing chandelier
The third home we saw was another English Tudor. It did not wow me as much as the first so I didn't take any pictures of it. The lady who lived there was very nice but didn't have much of an eye for decorating.

The fourth home was tied with the first of the day for my favorite. It was a lovely Victorian Eclectic-style home built in 1896. The family who lived there had it decorated beautifully with antique furniture. They stayed true to the beauty of the historic home.
One of my favorites
A beautiful antique piano in the living room
Behind this lovely home was the most amazing garden I've ever seen. I was so amazed that I forgot to take pictures. Doug and I were very impressed with the neatness, variety of vegetables, and size. Doug has a small garden of his own. Someday when we are homeowners we'll have a big beautiful garden like the one at this home.
My handsome husband under a rose trellis
The last home we went to was a big disappointment. The outside was beautiful and a great example of the "Foursquare" style. It was built in 1912. As soon as we stepped into the house we were shocked that someone could decorate such a treasure entirely with Ikea furniture. Don't get me wrong, I like Ikea and modern furniture, but it didn't belong in that house at all. In my shock and disappointment I didn't take any pictures of the last house.

Have you ever explored old neighborhoods in your city? What do you think of modern furniture in a historic home? Where is your favorite place in your town to act like a tourist? Please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

55%

I'm more than half way to my second bachelors degree and I haven't even started school yet. Second bachelors degree you ask? When did this happen?

Beep, beep, beep, I'm backing up to explain the whole story.

I graduated from high school in 2006 and started college at the University of Utah that fall. I started out majoring in Psychology. I decided I didn't like it enough to make a career of it so I switched my major to Economics. I graduated with a BS in Economics and a minor in Psychology. I had plans to get an MBA and ideally own a small retail business. It was a great plan.

Then I worked at a small retail business. For the most part I really like my job but I do not want to be burdened with everything that comes along with owning and managing a business. I want vacations, I want to be able to sleep at night without worry about my store, I want to spend time with my family. I also want to make a difference in the world. Don't get me wrong, small businesses are very important to the economy and make a difference that way. But I want to make a difference to people. I want to inspire people. I want to help people be better. I want to share what I love with others who are forced to listen to my opinion can then learn to love it too.

I want to be a high school English teacher. In 6 weeks I will have my last day of work. 4 weeks after that I will be in school again. 5 semesters after that I'll graduate. I am 55% of the way done and haven't even had a class at my new school. Luckily I don't have to do any more general education. I get to jump right into the English program. It's a big step but I would feel very unaccomplished and unhappy if I didn't do this.

A huge thanks go to my sweet husband and mom for supporting me in this. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to get it right and end up doing what I love.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Law School Graduation, May 12

The biggest reason for our trip back east was to see Doug's sister Natalie and her husband John-Mark graduate from law school. Saturday, May 12 we had the pleasure of seeing the culmination of their hard work. Natalie and John-Mark graduated from West Virginia University Law School with honors. They had little white circles on top of their hats because they were at the top of their class.
Looking to the future
The Graduates
A Proud Family
WV Law School 2012 Graduates
After the graduation we went to a wonderful open house at the Law School where we had some yummy snacks. I shouldn't have eaten so much because after that we went to Black Bear Burrito and had the best food ever.
Everyone at Black Bear Burrito
As soon as dinner was over Doug, me, Scott, Abby, Mary, and Diana left for our hotel near the Pittsburgh airport. My parents in law stayed the night with Natalie and John-Mark. We had an adventure getting to the hotel. In the area there was an Industry Lane, an Industry Street, and an Industry Drive. Google thought it would be funny to give us directions to the street, not the lane, so we ended up taking a slight detour. Luckily with my super sense of direction inherited from my Grandpa Parker, we found our way.

The next morning we headed to the airport for our flight home. We had a short layover in Detroit (just short enough to have to jog to the next plane) and then we were on our way back to Utah.
The airplane taxi is a Steelers fan
When our first plane arrived I was a little nervous because it was so small. It was a little louder but the flight was safe even though the plane only held 50 people.
Our tiny plane.
I'm so grateful to my parents-in-law for taking me on this trip. It was great to see all the monuments and museums and just to spend time with family.

Ladies and gentlemen that concludes the recap of my Washington D.C. trip. On behalf of Eclectic Em and the entire crew, I'd like to thank you for joining us and we look forward to seeing you again in the near future.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Books I've Read: Enchantment

I love fairy tales. I also love when authors retell the original tale with a twist. Orson Scott Card did just that in his novel "Enchantment."

This wonderfully written modern fairy tale was great from beginning to end. The way Card incorporates modern inventions into historical fairy tales is genius. This story has unexpected twists and turns which keep you guessing if Ivan and his sleeping beauty will live happily ever after. Overall this is a great book for those interested in fiction and fairy tales.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Chose the Bush

Every time I ride my bike I have the attitude that every car is out to get me. It becomes very disappointing when that becomes true. Yesterday I rode my bike to work and home from work. It is only a little over a mile with the majority of it being on a bike path. I have a cute pink cruiser bike with a basket and a bell. I don't go very fast so I stay on the sidewalk but always brake and yield to pedestrians. I try to be as safe as possible while riding. I look for cars at every crosswalk and every driveway. I don't ride with earphones so that I can hear what's going on around me. I don't cut across traffic or cross against the light. And yet, yesterday, I was forced to chose between being hit by a car and crashing into a bush. I chose the bush.

Scrapes on my foot from crashing into the bush.
In the 1.2 miles home I was at risk in crosswalks and at driveways 5 times due to cars not yielding to pedestrians/bikes/oncoming traffic. That's a pretty bad record considering there are only 13 crosswalks and driveways from work to home. Had I not been paying attention I probably would have ended up in the hospital rather than only in a bush. Wearing flip flops wasn't the safest thing but other than that I took every precaution.

I don't mean to complain, I just want everyone to be aware and to be safe. Please stop before the sidewalk when pulling out of driveways and side streets. Check for pedestrians and bikes as well as for oncoming traffic. When turning right at lights please check that the crosswalk is clear before following your green light. The person crossing the street will be out of your way soon enough, there is no reason to cut them off or go before them. If turning right on a red make sure that nobody needs to cross with traffic. If going straight at a light please stop before the crosswalk so that others can see around you. The two seconds you take to be safe are worth saving the life of a biker or pedestrian.

Thank you for reading my little rant and please please please be safe while driving.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Movie Starring Penny

Penny is 13 weeks old today. Here is a movie of her playing with her squeaker bone. Enjoy.

video

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Air and Space Museum & Harpers Ferry Friday, May 11

This is the second day of our Washington D.C. trip. Day one of our trip can be found here. On Friday, May 11 we went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and to Harpers Ferry. There were a lot of airplanes at the Air and Space Museum. I took a ton of pictures because after seeing ten I felt like I'd seen them all.
Some sort of bi-plane
The Enola Gay dropped the bomb on Hiroshima
The Concord Jet
Doug in front of the space shuttle Discovery
To get an idea of the scale of the Discovery, look at the bottom left of the picture. There are some stairs with a person wearing a blue shirt. They are just a speck. It was a huge shuttle.
The front of Discovery
While some people took a long time to read about every plane, Doug's sisters Mary and Diana and I took funny pictures of us holding up planes and even kissing one!
I'm strong enough to hold up a plane!
Diana kissing a shark plane
I really liked the silver planes
After the Air and Space Museum we made our way to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. Harpers Ferry was the site of John Brown's raid. John Brown was an abolitionist who wanted to help slaves start an uprising in the South. He raided the armory at Harpers Ferry to gather guns and ammunition to distribute to the slaves to aid in their uprising. Brown and his men had to take refuge in the engine house adjacent to the armory because the townspeople were trying to stop him. Brown was eventually captured by Robert E. Lee and hanged for treason.
A painting of John Brown
The engine house where John Brown took refuge
Although he was hanged for treason, Brown was later viewed as a hero
During the Civil War Harpers Ferry was shuffled between the Union and the Confederates eight times.
It was a strategic location due to the railroad and the rivers
St. John's Episcopal Church was one of Harpers Ferry's five earliest churches. It served as a hospital and a barracks during the Civil War. It had a lot of damage, was rebuilt, then later abandoned for a new church elsewhere in town.
Ruins of St. John's Episcopal Church
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church is a little ways below the ruins of the Episcopal Church. While we were driving to Harpers Ferry I looked across the river and saw this beautiful building and wished I could see it up close. I didn't know how close we were to our destination and was so excited when it ended up being part of the town.
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, Harpers Ferry West Virginia
The back and side of the church
Harpers Ferry is a very old town. It was established in 1763 and visited by Thomas Jefferson in 1783. Throughout the town there are remnants of old buildings. In a few places you could see where a house had been built right up against the building next to it. Some of the buildings from John Browns raid have been reduced to foundations.
The outline of a house
After another long day of museums and history we were happy to be on our way.
Happily riding the Harpers Ferry shuttle back to our car after a long day