Sunday, November 5, 2017

All Hail the Goddess

For years I have been the butt of my own personal joke. I have been a proud (?) member of the V.L. club my entire life. At 16 I became Vice President. At 20 I became President, 25, Princess, 30 Queen, 35, Empress and for the last few years it was my goal to spend my 40th birthday in Greece, where I would celebrate my Ascension as Goddess of the V.L. club.

I've seriously been talking about it for years. I even had someone lined up to go with me (which turned out well for her that we didn't go because she managed to snag herself a boyfriend that weekend! Woohoo!). I even took on a second job so that I could earn the money to go.  But, as you know, life happened and I wasn't able to make it work.

Sometimes I say that I am part of the best book club in the world. I know you think it's cliche and that everyone says that their book club is the best. But mine actually IS the best.  I've been in this book club for four years now. I am a total outsider of the group. Everyone else has a history- either as family, college roommates, old coworkers or ward members. I was invited by Anadine, a friend of a friend from Denver. I don't know what compelled her to invite me to this exclusive (yes, exclusive) book club- but she did... and they let me stay.

At one of the spring book clubs, I mentioned that I was not going to be able to make it on my trip and how sad I was about it. But oh well, life goes on, right? Well, in July, Candi told me to keep the weekend of Sept 29th free. All they would say is that it was a surprise. I had no idea what was going on, but I made sure to ask for it off at work well in advance so I could get it.

Over the next few months I would get random texts asking, "Are you scuba certified?" and "do you have improv theater experience?" 


As the weekend approached and I was in the middle of moving I text Candi and we had the following conversation: (Candi, you don't mind that I'm dramatizing the texts do you?)

   Me: Soooo.. I'm all for surprises, but I'm packing up my house so I can be out before our                     adventure.      is there anything in particular I should leave unpacked?

   C: Ooh, good question. Sleeping bag or other bedding like sheets and blankets that are packable.         But if you don't it's not a big deal. Shoes that you can hike in, dressy clothes and casual clothes,           mildly athletic clothes, but not crazy. It's not  3 day basketball camp.

   Me: Hmmm (emoji)

   C: Jacket, but no coat or sweatshirt

   Me: Will you judge me if I wear a Twilight sweatshirt?

   C: Ha! No more than usual

   Me: Hahaha! Gee thanks.

  C: Are you going to take it off every 20 minutes, you know, like the werewolf?

So you can see I was thoroughly perplexed. I only saw "hiking" and "sleeping bag" and thought, Oh crap- they're taking me camping. Don't they know me at all?!

We met Friday morning at Candi's house. I was late- but I was still one of the first to arrive. One of the girls in our club, Marie, lives in the D.C. area and skypes in for book club. When I walked in the door and saw her sitting there, I almost burst into tears. She'd come clear across the country for this! I've only met her a few times in person and I literally only know her through skype- but she came. She came for this crazy adventure that was organized for me!

All the others who were close by showed up; Kristen, Megan, Liz, Katie. We were missing two in number. Anadine and Jessica couldn't get away. Sad. But the rest of us piled into two vans and drove down to Saratoga Springs to pick up the remaining members, Natalie and Susan.

Candi mentioned a four hour drive. I started to suspect. But I didn't want to spoil anything. We stopped in Scipio for a potty break and decided to just have lunch while we were there. There was a Dairy Queen in the gas station so we took it outside and ate near the (closed) petting zoo. 

As we continued down south, I taught them (and probably annoyed them with) my "Mormon" game that I played with my nieces and nephews this summer. Every time you see an LDS church you shout, "MORMONS!" If you see a temple it's "Moroni Mormon!" and if you see missionaries it's "Mormon Mormon!" 

It's a lot more fun to play in Utah and Idaho, that's for sure. But the game originated in Colorado on my summer trip to Mesa Verde with Macy.

Anyway, we got to St George and passed right on through... huh... ok. I thought we were going to St George. We drove in to Ivins- which I'd never even heard of- and stopped at someone's house. I was soooo confused. BUT it turns out that Candi's Grandma-in-law has a house there and is not currently using it so it's kind of the family time-share. That's where we were staying.

Once we were settled in, Candi revealed the secret. We were going to see Mamma Mia! at Tuachan.

Because it's set in Greece.


I was so touched that they remembered that this birthday was supposed to be in Greece. I mean, the trip was nice enough by itself, but to remember that silly little detail... was just so sweet.

We found a place for dinner- some random BBQ place that was inside a gas station. Don't let that sentence deceive you. In my experience, gas station diners in St George are wicked awesome! It was maybe the best pulled pork I'd ever had in my life. While we were eating, my cousin Sharon called me to tell me the drama that was going on with my apartment. I'd moved out just a few days before- but it was still technically my apartment so she was keeping me apprised of what was going on- and really standing up for me in a way I wouldn't have been able to do.

After dinner we headed up to Tuachan.  We got there with barely enough time to take a few obligatory pics and get in our seats.

Have you seen Mamma Mia? I'd seen it before- and I love the movie. Who doesn't love the music of ABBA, seriously? As we were sitting there, watching this awesome play, the weather was so perfect, my cousin was taking care of business back home and I was surrounded by this crazy group of ladies who'd organized all of this. For Me. 

Right there in the middle of the play, I started to tear up. I was so overwhelmed with how loved I felt. So grateful in that moment for where God has placed me in my life. I have no idea what's going to happen next- but in that moment I felt very, VERY loved. So thank you.

After the play we headed back to the house for bed. Bed. Ha! Yeah right. 

Megan made a friend in the garage. He wasn't a prince, but it never hurts to try just in case.

In this house there were three bedrooms. One with a king size bed, one with a queen and one with a twin/trundle. There was also a futon and Megan brought a blow up  mattress. (I chose the futon. Never EVER choose the futon- there was a bar down the middle of it and when I rolled to the edge to avoid the bar, the bed flipped and threw me against the wall. hahahahaha! I spent the rest of the night on one of the little love seats- sitting up)

I'm getting ahead of myself. We got home and somehow all congregated into the room with the king size bed. If you're wondering if the workmanship of that bed was high quality? Yes. It held all nine of us!

We stayed up till past 2am talking, giggling and just all sorts of silly merriment. Megen, Katie and I are the only single ones in the group, so we had to update them all on our oh-so-exciting dating (or in my case, non-dating) exploits. It's always my favorite part of book club- and usually I don't have anything to contribute, but thanks to the creepy courier at work, I had a story to tell. Ok, and other stuff too- but what happens at book club- stays at book club, mmkay?

The next day we all prepared to go on a hike. Katie is an avid hiker- like, she spends more time in the mountains than she does at home. First we headed into St George for breakfast. I didn't even have to tell them how much I love the Bear Paw Diner- apparently the secret is out that it's the best breakfast in Southern Utah!

Once we are all stuffed to the gills with this amazing food, we went for a hike.

(PSA: don't hike when you're so full of biscuits and gravy that you can hardly walk)

We drove to Snow Canyon and hiked, looking for petroglyphs. In keeping with the Grecian theme, it was the closest we could get to ancient ruins.

This is us before the hike- notice we're still smiling and happy?

The trail wasn't so bad. It was fairly flat at first. But I have never hiked in sand before. It's HARD!  We had to stop every few hundred yards to empty the sand out of our shoes.


The trail wasn't super clearly marked so there were a few times where some of us would chill for a bit while Katie and a few others would scout on ahead to make sure we were headed in the right direction.

After a mile or so we lost the sand and were on slick rock- which meant some rock climbing. That was fine. But can I just say that up is a heck of a lot easier than down!? 

We followed trail markers and the advice of some other hikers we'd met coming back. We found the first hidden slot and made our way through the crevice. 

Here we found petroglyphs. I've never seen them in person before. It was so awesome! I just can't imagine why someone was down there carving these into the wall... and how the heck did someone find them? Honestly, if someone had not pointed them out to me I would not have noticed them.  They show up a lot better in photographs- in person they're really hard to see.

There was a couple down in the slot before we got there. We'd already be hiking for hours and they said it took them five minutes to get there. They cut across private property. We'd seen that trail, but we're rule followers. But, they were kind enough to take a picture of all of us.

We headed out of the slot... some of us easier than others. I got caught in the tree that stands guard over the ancient carvings.

Kristen had to help untangle me.

By this time in the hike some were starting to get tired. Kristen was taking care of me and asked several times if I wanted to stop- that we could go back to the car and be done. No. They organized this adventure for me and I was not about to wimp out. But I was grateful that she offered. There was a lot more climbing, and hiking and resting and sand removal.  

It was honestly so beautiful out there!

We were looking for the Newspaper rock. Some other hikers we'd met told us it wasn't far so we kept going... but once again, we just could not find the proper trail. Now people were starting to run out of water- and it was hot. Not like, vultures were circling us hot- but warm enough that you didn't want to run out of water. Katie kept trying to find the trail, but she could sense a mutiny was mounting, so we went back to the slot. From there we could either hike the two or so miles back the way we came- or take the short cut across private property. Remember how I said we are rule followers?

Yeah, I lied. We totally took the shortcut. It literally took us 15 minutes to get back to the car. 

Look really closely... you can see us in the distance
I am SO glad we did it. No seriously, it was awesome. Now that I know what to expect, I could probably do that hike again. I probably *won't*, but I *could*.

We were all bedraggled and covered in red sand, but you can see from the smiles on our faces that we all enjoyed it. We emptied our shoes one last time and headed back to town.

My van stopped at a gas station to get ice, and I stood there and drank two bottles of water and drank the third one on the way home.

We took turns getting cleaned up and showered. I thought for sure I would be beat- but I felt totally energized after that. We had made reservations at a Hawaiian restaurant. After that morning's breakfast I didn't think I would ever eat again. I still wasn't very hungry. I said all I wanted was a bathtub filled with ice water and a straw. But when we sat down and ordered, I was suddenly ravenous and the food tasted so incredible!

That evening we were just going to hang out at the house. I knew they'd brought a cake for my birthday, so one car headed home, and the one I was in headed to the store for more munchies. I didn't suspect the following:

When my van got back home and we walked in... those who had gotten there before us were dressed... Togas.

Oh. My. Gosh!

That's why Candi had said to bring sheets! Of course, not realizing that, the sheets that I brought were bright, BRIGHT pink. They fitted me up with my toga and put some laurel leaves in my hair and we sat around and had a toga party. Hahaha!

We made sure to take pictures of us trying to be Grecian statues...

We played a silly getting to know you type game, and they sang to me and and we had cake. It was just the funnest night!

At bedtime I opted for couch cushions on the floor rather than the futon. Some adventures are only meant to be had once.

The next day we cleaned up the house and hit the road. We stopped in Beaver for a picnic lunch. It was meant to be had on the hike, but it didn't happen- so we had all this lovely picnic food. 

So you see when I say that my book club is better than yours, I'm not kidding. They planned his whole crazy weekend just for me. I will never be able to express how grateful I am to them for this thoughtful gesture. I had no idea they liked me so very much. But I sure felt loved after that.

Thanks ladies, I believe my coronation to Goddess of the V.L. club was a smashing success! 

40, here I come!

Afterthought- At a later time, Katie added our two missing members to a couple of the group photos- this is the whole book club!

Image may contain: 10 people, people smiling, people standing, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, people sitting

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

the whole 40

Where do I begin? There has been an eight month absence... as much as I say nothing ever happens in my life, there have been a few noteworthy things this year. Maybe I'll get to them another time. Maybe not. Don't hold your breath.

My laptop went all the way of the earth and I can't really blog on my ipad. They've blocked it so I can't see it at work let alone write, so here we are.

How is it that suddenly have access to a computer? yeah... well... I don't want to talk about that right now.  That drama will have to wait for another post.

Today I turn 40. Gross.


So instead of all the things I should be blogging about, I will instead blog about my favorite subject:


Here are 40 things that you may or may not know about yours truly. Some may make you want to rethink your friendship with me.

  1. I don't like bacon. Like, at all. 
  2. I think cantaloupe is the fruit of the devil. People go on their missions and eat all these super weird things like half formed birds or monkey brains. ask me the grossest thing I had on my mission? Cantaloupe.
  3. I also do not like sushi. I've tried. I want to like it because it's so trendy. But blech...
  4. I have never seen even an episode of Game of Thrones. No desire. It seems like something that would be totally up my alley, but I've heard it's basically porn so what's the point?
  5. I want to see the world, but somehow I always end up at Disneyland.
  6. I think that Richard Armitage is the most beautiful man in the world. I'm saving my VL graduation for him.
  7. On the other end of the spectrum, I think Ryan Gosling is so... not attractive. I honestly don't see why everyone swoons over him. Ick.
  8. I have seen every episode of FRIENDS at least 10 times. I have them all basically memorized and can even tell you most of the episode names. If you're ever in a pub contest, you want me on your team.
  9. Same goes with Disney trivia, but that's a no brainer.
  10. I have been fired from a job.
  11. I have been evicted (unjustly) from an apartment (there's a story I'll tell you later).
  12. I have never been on a date with someone who I wanted to be on a date with.
  13. but I get asked out by people (yes people) in whom I have less than zero interest.
  14. I have been at my current job for  years. Other than my first job working at Freddies, it's the longest job I've ever had. And most days I really like it.
  15. I am the Team Lead over four different Outpatient departments. I've been doing that for two years (this week) and I still have a lot to learn.
  16. I also work part time at a party store. This week is my one year anniversary. I work there because it's my gym. It's totally brainless and I don't have to take it home with me, so I love it.
  17. My favorite musical is Brigadoon- because they sing about Heather on the Hill. Also, Scotland, bagpipes and kilts. Need I go on?
  18. My favorite movie is The Court Jester. It's the wittiest, funniest and just most all around fun movie ever made. 
  19. When I was a kid I was scared by the movie the Secret of Nimh. We always watched in in school during rainy recesses and I hated it. I was also terrified of the movie Time Bandits and had nightmares about it for years.
  20. Needless to say- I do not like scary movies. I have a way overactive imagination and I can't handle horror movies. Even seriously intense movies can be too much for me. 
  21. I have never had a pet dog. I've always had cats- and most of them were strays that we took in, much to my parent's dismay. I don't have anything against dogs, I've just never had one. But I do have fur neicephews now and I love them.
  22. I remember the most random things, and yet seem to forget important things. I can tell you the name of the kid who peed his pants in class in the 3rd grade, but I couldn't tell you who our student body president was in high school.
  23. My favorite flowers are plumeria. I've only ever seen them when I went to Hawaii that one time... but they made quite an impression and they are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
  24. I am also a sucker for fuchsias and good ol traditional roses.
  25. When I grow up I want to be a  Disney performer. Maybe I'll have to do that in my next life.
  26. My favorite books are the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. I just love the way they are written, so witty and fun. I love that the characters are non conformists and that is what makes them so special.
  27. I was about to say "non-traditional" but I can't say that- because I am the poster child for tradition. I love tradition. I love pomp and circumstance and traditions that date back hundreds of years. Changing of the Guards? Boring but awesome! Family Christmas traditions? MUST!
  28. The only book/movie combo where I love both equally is Howl's Moving Castle. They are soooo very different that you have to see them individually, but I love them both.
  29. I love the classics. When I was at Cambridge, my Dickens professor had a write a list of books that we'd read since we've been in college. When she looked over mine she said I needed broaden my horizons and to add a little 20th and 21st century to it. It was all early classic stuff.
  30. I remember walking through the halls of the Jordan River Temple with my parents. It had to have been during the open house and that temple was dedicated in 1979, so I was but two years old. That is probably one of my earliest memories, and a testament to the impression being a temple can leave on a person.
  31. Another memory from when I was a kid- when I got scared at night I would spread a blanket in the hallway and sleep under the light of the smoke alarm. There was a tiny green light on it. It was just enough to be a nightlight for me. Plus, it was right outside my parent's room.
  32. I had a boyfriend in kindergarten. I'll save him the humiliation of being named here- I also had a boyfriend in the 5th grade for about 45 minutes. My friend asked him on the playground if he'd be my boyfriend (without my permission) and he said yes. I didn't really want him as my boyfriend so I passed him a note in Mrs Reynold's math class afterward and said I didn't want to be his girlfriend. He said, "good! because I was just kidding." That was my last boyfriend.
  33. Speaking of elementary, I used to hang upside down by my knees on the monkey bars- or on the rainbow bars- and take my coat off in the dead of winter. I thought I was soooooo awesome.
  34. I got caught once while playing kiss tag. In kindergarten. It was the 45 minute boyfriend who fish-lip kissed me as I tried to blend into the brick wall of the school building.
  35. I've been proposed to. It totally blindsided me because I had less than zero interest in this man. We were not even friends... we were... missionary and less active member. I had no idea he was interested in me. I feel kind of bad about the way I turned him down, but come on- you didn't know me. At. All. If you'd known me, you'd known better than to pursue that way. Who proposes in an email to someone they've never even been on a date with!?
  36. I was friends with my sister in law before she started dating my brother. She liked him and it would bug her when I would talk about setting him up with my geometry teacher. 
  37. I used to go to dancing every Friday night. My friends Heather, Amanda and I never missed an institute dance. They were (are) super gorgeous and got asked to dance all the time. I usually spent most of the slow dances in the hallway. Occasionally I got asked, and sometimes I got brave and asked, but mostly dancing is just awkward and uncomfortable to me. I feel like a deformed jelly bean when dancing.
  38. I spent my 40th birthday much the same way I spent my actual day of birth, napping, eating and crying. 
  39. I love my family more than anything. And that includes my auntie and cousins... and of course my sweet kittens who have been such cuddle bugs the last few days. I don't know if it's because of the move, or just because they've sensed I need the extra love, but I'll take it.
  40. If you ever catch me in a bad mood, just talk about Disney, England, Scotland or glitter. It'll perk me right up. 
There ya go. I feel like most of those are thing I've talked about before, but it's getting late and apparently I'm old now.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Man Eater

Last year a friend of mine went to Vegas and brought back a chocolate man for me- as a joke. We all had a good laugh. I decided I would put him away and save him for a special occasion... like Valentine's Day.

You all know I don't have anything against Valentine's Day. Terminally single or not, I still celebrate it- even if it's watching chick flicks and eating pie at home by myself. I like Valentine's Day.

Anyway, as the holiday approached, I told my coworkers I was going to bring a chocolate man to work for us to all share on Valentine's Day. Why not? It's funny.

So my coworker, Lisa has this friend, and he was asking her her plans for Valentine's Day. "I'm not doing anything," she explained. "I have to work and then I have school so I won't have time... Oh, but my coworker is going to bring a chocolate man and we're going to eat him."

I guess this intrigued the friend, (we'll call him A.A. for short) and he inquired as to why we would do such a thing... eating a chocolate effigy of a man? He asked her about her coworker, me, my name and such... doesn't know me. Moving on.

Valentine's Day arrives and I'm at work minding my own business when a flower delivery man arrives with a vase of roses. I'm sitting at the front desk on Valentine's Day- I'm expecting a lot of flowers to be delivered and that I will spend the majority of my day pointing delivery persons in the right direction. But when he stops at my desk and says he's looking for Heather... huh? He must mean another Heather. Baker...? Oh... huh... that's me. They must be from my parents. Who on earth would send me flowers on Valentine's Day?

I took the card. Yup. For me. Weird. When I opened the card to see who sent them, I read:

I was totally baffled. The Chocolate Man? huh? The flower delivery guy also asked if there was a Lisa in the house, when I confirmed, he left for a minute. I told Lisa to come out to the desk. We oooh-ed and aaaah-ed over my pretty flowers and I showed her the card. She knew immediately who sent them. It took me a minute to put two and two together- and then I remembered that her friend AA had grilled her about our Valentine's Day plans and my name. And we had a good laugh.

She was mad for a minute because he'd sent me- a perfect stranger- flowers and not her. I told her to be patient- that he'd not forgotten her. Just then the delivery guy brings in a HUGE bouquet of roses and lilies for her. Seriously gorgeous. I didn't take a picture because, let's face it, this post is about me and I didn't want them outshining my flowers. ha!

He was forgiven after that.

In the meantime, our other coworker, Hida, had text her boyfriend that we were going to eat a chocolate man. I'm not sure if the idea is just offensive to guys...? But he thought it seemed like a bitter, anti-man thing to do.  Which of course made her all the more gung ho to do it!

When lunchtime came (we'd all brought stuff to have a little potluck, just the three of us) we had our lunch and then laid the sacrifice upon his alter (hey, if that's how people are going to see it, it's how I'm going to describe it!)

I didn't care who ate what- I only requested that I eat his head. Haha!
Sorry Chocolate Man, your pretty flowers did not buy your freedom.

The fun twist to the story is that when my friend, Carol gave me the chocolate man last year, she gave him to me the very same day that AA sent Lisa two dozen roses- so it's almost as if AA and the chocolate man had some kind of bond. This is literally the picture I posted last April on Instagram. 

So ends the story of the first time I ever got flowers from a guy. A stranger. As a joke. It still doesn't count.

MoTab 2016

Ok, here is another one of those way overdue posts. I'm so sorry. I don't know what has happened to me lately. I want to blog- but when I have time, I don't think of it- and when I think of it, it's usually two hours past bedtime on a work night.

So you see the conundrum.

Anyway, in mid-December my friend Ana and I went downtown and met up with my other friend Liz (from book club) to go to the MoTab Christmas Concert. 

In the past, tickets were assigned by lottery. You would submit your email address and how many tickets you wanted- and then you would pray that you got picked. In all the years I've done it, I've only been picked once- but I've always been very lucky to have someone else get picked who gave me their tickets.

This year they changed things up and did a first come, first served deal. It sucks I'll tell you that for nothing.  Tickets were made available at 10:00 and were gone by 10:09. That really, really sucks. You don't even stand a chance!

BUT because I'm lucky- Liz was able to score some tickets- and didn't have anyone to go with- so she invited us to go with her. I'm so glad we did!

(by the way, these pictures are super out of order but I don't have the patience to rearrange them all- so like it or lump it)

I don't know how she did it- but Liz got the best seats I've ever sat in EVER! We were about 6 rows back from the stage; close enough that we could see the faces of the performers. Close enough that we could see President Eyring!

Thanks Liz!

As is tradition with Ana and me, we took a toooooooooon of selfies, so buckle up, because here they come.

See? See how close we were to the stage? It was awesome!

I told you these are out of order. This is the orchestra leaving the stage after the whole thing was over. The orchestra are usually the last ones to leave.

There were a few stragglers though, us among them. This was the view of the conference center from our seats waaaaaay up front. I'm usually up on the second balcony. So you can see this was a real treat for me!

After the show Liz had to go her own way, so Ana and I wandered Temple Square looking at lights and taking our yearly pictures. It's becoming difficult to tell year from year because I always wear the same coat and I only have two nice scarves. I make up for it by doing my hair differently. I chose the wrong 'do this time though because it was rainy and when my hair is slicked down and it gets wet- it gets ugly fuzzy. sigh... oh well. good thing there was no one to impress.

My tree at home this year was done with Angels and musical instruments. So imagine how happy I was when I found that the tree in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building had done a similar theme. It was beautiful!

And so is she.

Sometimes it takes me a few tries to get a decent picture.

As I said, that night it as raining. The ONE TIME I would have been OK with snow- and it was rain. ugh... anyway, Ana had her umbrella- but I didn't take mine. I put my scarf over my head and tried to dodge raindrops, but I was soaked in no time. I'm not sure what it is with lines at the conference center this year- but we had to wait FOREVER! Usually we just walk right in, show them our ticket and sit down. but this year we were herded around like cattle and were afraid we wouldn't get in by showtime.

The rain was not helping.

More of fuzzy-head me.

Ana couldn't take a bad photo if she wanted to. She always looks good.

Here's more of that tree I love...

We came across this gingerbread village tucked away in a corner of the mall. I wanted to take some picture so maybe get some ideas for next year's gingerbread houses!

Despite the rain and the wait, it is always fun hanging out with Ana. She is always up for an adventure and is always good for a laugh.

Inside it was warm and dry. I wish I could say the same for my feet. Oh well, at least I didn't get sick because of that night.

I don't know why. I just don't. know. why.

This is one of those rare times that you see Ana taking the selfie. I usually take them because my arms are longer.

Won't this be a fun one for next year's calendar, mom? It could pass for both April (April showers...) and December. hmmm...

The show was amazing. The guest vocalist was so incredible- and a lot of the songs were sung in Spanish which was a change of pace. He told the story of the Little Match Girl, which is such a sad, but beautiful story. Makes you wanna hug the people you love- just so they know they're loved- and reminds us to think of those who are lonely. Seriously, Thanks again, Liz for the great seats!

It was a wonderful Christmas season. I was so blessed to be surrounded by family and friends and do all the fun things that we did.

and I'm even more glad that I got these posts done! Whew!