Wednesday, December 27, 2006


That means Christmas Eve Dinner in Polish. My family had a Polish Christmas this year. Not because we’re Polish, but because for the past five Christmases our family chooses a country to pretend we’re from. There’s usually a reason behind the country of choice.

It all started in the year 2000 when we unconsciously kicked off the tradition by having a “Christmas around the world.” The following year my mom decided we should have a British Christmas because my parents go to England just about every year and English traditions were always a part of our upbringing anyway. The next year we did Germany because my mom was finishing up her MA in music and took German as her foreign language. The next year we had a Greek Christmas because my cousin Marissa studied Greece in grade school, and then last year we had a Feliz Navidad because my aunt and uncle went on an extended vacation to Mexico.

So this year we celebrated Polish traditions because my brother went on a mission to Poland (eight years ago). Christmas Eve is their big event, similar to our family. The dinner was interesting. We modified the traditional Wigilia seeing how carp didn’t sound appetizing. So we ate sausage, pork, pierogi, potatoes, dried fruit compote and bigos. My plate was really wanting a salad, but that wasn’t an option. I think my mom forgot the peas, but there was plenty to eat, even with 30 people at my parents’ house.

For dessert we ate this castle cake. My aunt Jill actually bought a mold especially for this occasion. Each year is quite the production. We could charge admission to our Christmas Eve parties. Everyone really gets into it. Whoever is hosting prepares a packet with Christmas traditions, histories, stories and carols from the country. My mom ordered these wafers online that all the men took and then passed around to everyone as we broke off a piece and exchanged well wishes. I kind of hated to eat them a) because they were so pretty with the design imprinted on them, and b) I knew they would be gross. They are similar to the communion wafer which tastes like Styrofoam. My mom also made stars on a stick for everyone that we held while singing Polish carols (there’s an old Polish tale about a lonely Polish star that ends up being the star of Bethlehem). I love my mom.

Carter talked about his two Christmases in Poland; about how his first one was miserable because he was sick, he had his worst companion ever and nobody at our house answered the phone when he called (we were all out in the garage checking out the new car my dad gave my mom). All the cousins (my generation cousins) each read a Polish superstition. Did you know that animals can speak at night but it’s bad luck to overhear them?

After the little Polish lesson and the singing, we moved downstairs for the second portion of the evening: My cousin Zach played a couple songs on his saxophone. He plays in the Davis High Marching Band, which is supposedly the best in the state. The best part though was when we jokingly asked my four year old niece Chloe if she wanted to dance and she went up there and danced for about eight minutes while he played. Half of us were on the floor laughing hysterically because it was the weirdest dancing we had ever seen and our laughing didn’t seem to embarrass or discourage her one bit.

Next was Uncle Lindsay’s movie clip game. He married into the family about ten years ago and felt a little out of place with our family’s focus on music. We used to do a program where just about everyone performed something. So Linsday decided his talent was movie trivia. The past two years my brother-in-law Josh won because he and Lindsay pretty much have the same taste in movies. But this year my sister-in-law Kelly and I dethroned Josh, tying for first place. I couldn’t have done it without the five-point bonus question where we had to guess which season of American Idol the clip was from. I don’t think I even saw it on TV, but if you follow Clay Aiken’s hairstyles it was clear the clip was his guest appearance on Season Five (last year).

I missed twelve movies, none of which I’ve seen:

Coming to America
The Jacket
Mr. Destiny
Broken Arrow
Must Love Dogs
Golden Child
The Right Stuff
The Dead Zone
Final Destination
Coach Carter
Men of Honor

I won a $30 gift card to Radio Shack, and Kelly won Cars on DVD. Lindsay always has a prize for the loser as well. One year it was a box of about 30 movies on VHS that he had recently upgraded to DVD. Lindsay has a ridiculous amount of DVDs. His entertainment room looks like a Hollywood Video.

The last activity was the White Elephant gift exchange. This year my aunt Susan put a twist on it by having us count off and then Carter told us our number in Polish which we had to memorize because when Carter said our number (in Polish) we had to jump up and grab a gift. There were a lot of us staring out into space whispering our number over and over again.

That’s all I really have time for and more than you need to know about I’m sure. I hope you enjoyed Christmas as much as I did!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dinner with Sister Bailey

So tell me, did Chuck-a-Rama class up their buffet in the past ten years or is the 4th South location a cut above the rest? The last time I hit the buffet was a LONG time ago. I think my Grandma Durham resorted to taking us there when we refused eat her boiled kale, dandelions, and ghee.

The thought of going to Chuck a Rama the past several never even crossed my mind, and the only reason I went last night was because I was asked to attend “Dinner with Sister Bailey”. She bought dinner for all the international students in the stake. I’m not international, but I’m in the Relief Society Presidency and Sister Bailey asked Shanna and me to come and bring the international girls in our ward. So we brought Domonia from Madagascar.

I thought I would just go and eat some salad or something, but I ate much more. Oh, and apparently I hit the wrong side of the salad bar. Domonia started at the opposite side and met me at the end with a beautiful plate of spring greens, spinach, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and poppy seed dressing. My arms dropped in disappointment when I looked down at my iceberg lettuce mixed with the typical red cabbage and shredded carrots, topped with Ranch dressing. Oh well. I tossed some spinach on there, blue cheese and called it good.

The dinner was a lot of fun. I would say about twenty people showed up. I met a bunch of girls from Peru, Puerto Rico, a guy from Hawaii (international enough, I suppose) and a guy from Bolivia named Diego. He sat across from me. The conversations were funny because accents were flying around everywhere. My favorite misunderstanding was when Shanna asked Diego what he does and he said, “I’m a teller.” Shanna shouted with surprising enthusiasm, “You’re a tailor!” In that split second she had plans for him to alter several of her dresses.

Another funny part of the night was when Diego asked me what I did. I explained I work for the Utah Arts Council and I schedule art exhibits, plan professional development seminars and do a lot of writing, editing and some design work. He was impressed with my job and asked me how long I’ve been working there. I said six years and he seemed quite surprised.

“Did you go to college?” he asked,
“Yes, I went to BYU.”
“Went…you are all done?”
“Uh huh.”
“When did you start your job?”
“Six years ago.”
“No, how old were you?”
“No, how old were you when you started your job”
“Twenty-two” I repeated.
“No,” he laughed, shaking his head as though I didn’t understand the question “when you first got your job how old were you?”

“Twenty-two, I’m twenty-eight now.” Shanna chimed in “Twenty-two…plus six years…”

Domonia started giggling and leaned in to me saying, “Guys are funny that way. They should just ask us how old we are.” Shanna seriously thought we were experiencing a language barrier, but really he was trying to figure out my age by formulating some algebraic equation. He thought I didn’t understand him, but really he couldn’t comprehend me being older than twenty-two. I know, I look young for my age. That’s always a nice compliment. Once you’re over twenty-one of course.

Domonia told me this guy she met recently went to all extremes asking her whether she went on a mission, if she graduated from college, how long has she been in the United States, does she have brothers and sisters, how old are they? Until she finally just said, “You know what, I’m thirty years old.”

I think it’s nice that Sister Bailey does this every year for the international students. She travels all over the world and loves getting to know people and their cultures.

I’m so excited it’s Friday. It has been a long week at work with very little to do. Things will pick up significantly after the New Year when I have a grant deadline and exhibit to gear up for.

Merry Christmas everyone! I don’t know if I’ll post something before Christmas so have a great time with your family and friends and enjoy the warmth and spirit of the season.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Few people can make me laugh so hard it’s uncontrollable. My mom is one of those.

My mom took me, my sister and my sister-in-law to see “The Queen” on Friday night at the Broadway. I really liked it. I thought the plot would be more general, kind of like a brief biography of the Queen of England, but it was focused on that one week in 1997 when Diana died. It was sort of like watching CNN or BBC but getting to see behind the scenes as well.

Anyway, we went to dinner at an Italian place right outside the theatre afterwards. While we were waiting to order, my sister grabbed my hand noting a little blood blister on my finger and asked me how I got it. I said, “cracking nuts with a nutcracker.” My mom nodded with seeming sympathy and then said, “Yeah, cracking nuts is such a waste of time.”

I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair. There’s really no telling what will get me going. It usually depends on the context and who it’s coming from. I watched this segment on TV giving tips on how to cut calories. One of their tips was to eat food that takes work and slows you down, such as nuts in their shells. So the thought of my mom completely disregarding that concept in favor of the immediate satisfaction that comes from shoveling pre-shelled nuts in your mouth was funny to me.

The last time I remember laughing that hard was about a year ago. I was sitting in my living room early one Sunday morning and this commercial came on. It was an LDS “Family…it’s about time” commercial. I tried to find it on the internet somewhere so you could see it for yourselves, but I couldn’t. I’ll attempt to describe:

You see a small choir in a cathedral, dressed in choir robes, rehearsing for a concert. They’re conducted by a man who can tell one of the voices is off key. The camera zooms in on a little boy (about ten years old), identifying him as the culprit, although he is singing with all his heart and loving every minute of it. Annoyed, the conductor cuts everyone off and says, “Son…son, you’re singing the wrong notes!” (or something to that effect). He shakes his head in disapproval and asks him to step aside while the choir rehearses without him.

The camera follows the boy, head hanging low as he slouches on a pew, feeling rejected and ostracized from the rest of his family who can sing better than he can. After rehearsal, the conductor (who I’m guessing is his father) goes to the shunned boy, gently puts his hand on his back and gives him a fatherly look.

Cut to performance night – the choir is singing their number and they sound great. The camera pans to the boy who apparently was invited to join the choir again. Only he’s not singing. He’s just standing there silently while everyone else sings. At the end of the song you see his arm rise up with glee as he rings a hand bell. His smile is big and his father nods in approval.

Come ON! That kid wanted to sing; he didn’t want to ring a bell! The father should have let him sing anyway. At least one song with other little kids where the cuteness factor outweighs sound quality. That one had me going well into the program I was watching. I don’t even remember what it was. I just remember watching that commercial, laughing tears, and wishing someone else was there to see it.

I guess I'll insert a picture in here. I took this last night at the annual Rick Durham Christmas Party. It’s the only time all the Durhams get together. I think the party has grown to four or five generations now. We wear nametags. Mine has to say my name, my dad’s name and my dad’s dad’s name. That is the only way people will know where I fit in. So my name last night was Laura Tom Lowell.

You can see my niece Piper’s nametag on her back. We figured that was the only way to stop her from peeling it off and handing it to us. I think these nametags are genius for the little, non-speaking kids especially because they tend to get lost in that huge house. So if she wanders downstairs in the theatre or the game room or some stranger Durham carries her off, sets her down and forgets about her, someone can read her nametag and figure out which Durham family to return her to.

Her nametag skips from Piper to Tom, even though my brother Carter is her dad. Probably because no one knows who Carter is.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Waiting for Woodruff"

People came out to the Wilford Woodruff Fireside in surprisingly large numbers on Monday night. Kristi, with her modest expectations was counting on ten people, but there were well over 100 there, so that’s good. It was actually quite entertaining.

I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew we were going to have a speaker talk about Wilford Woodruff (fourth president of the LDS church) and there were going to be some musical numbers. Oh, and we were told Wilford himself would be there. I didn’t know what that meant, really. I thought maybe someone in costume? I waited for that promise to be fulfilled, but I guess the speaker was a great grandson and his name was Wilford as well. I get it. It was a trick.

So anyway, Shanna and Steve from our ward were the musical numbers. I learned about a week ago that these numbers come from a larger work – a comprehensive musical written about the life of Wilford Woodruff. Oh, I love it.

I didn’t understand how this was going to work. Were they just going to sing the numbers back to back? Because if they were that would be totally weird seeing how Shanna’s song was very melodramatic and Steve’s was…well…silly. But I like the way the speaker introduced each song so we knew what was coming. The lyrics to Shanna’s song were taken from a letter Wilford’s wife wrote to him after the death of their baby daughter. It was a beautiful song. I liked the melody, and of course Shanna sang it well.

After Shanna's song the speaker told a story about Wilford and how he loved to fish and how he was the first fly fisherman west of the Continental Divide. That was the introduction to Steve’s song and I accompanied him on the piano. Steve showed up in costume and really hammed it up, because really, what else are you supposed to do with a song with lyrics like “everyone ought to have a fish fly, this one here is a beauty and knows well his duty…he’ll lay there waiting in the water, acting like a real live fly!” Still makes me laugh. Steve was a hit and rumor has it Wilford himself got his number. Maybe Steve will join them on tour.

Oh, and I should probably explain the pictures illustrating today's post. I didn’t have any photographs from Monday night, so I Googled Wilford Woodruff hoping I could find him fishing or something, but instead, these little gems caught my attention. They’re from a book a grown man illustrated for a primary class about Wilford Woodruff receiving revelation in the middle of the night warning him to move the carriage he was sleeping in. Good thing he did, because soon after, a whirlwind came tearing a large tree out of the ground and dropping it where his carriage once stood. If you want to read the whole story, click here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Moral of "Pierre" is Care!

Remember the boy named Pierre? Who only would say “I don’t care”?

Well, after years of caring too much, I finally said, “I don’t care” yesterday. Only it was to a reporter, which probably wasn’t the best person to vent my frustrations on. OK, I’m being a little dramatic, I recovered quite nicely, of course, but he could tell I was harboring resentment from somewhere.

Oh my job. It’s not even my job really. It’s my job(s). I have too many. I wear too many hats and sometimes get confused as to which hat I’m wearing or which hat people assume I’m wearing when they call me.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to resign as Vice President of the Salt Lake Gallery Association. That position was doing nothing but causing me stress and drama. What surprised me was how disinterested the members of the SLGA were when I announced my resignation at the meeting. Seriously. I have been VP of that organization for over three years. I had an agenda item and said, “I am officially resigning as VP of the Salt Lake Gallery Association” and someone immediately changed the subject back to a previous topic of discussion, as though what I said had no consequence whatsoever.

The next day I got several phone calls from members saying, “Hey Laura, what do you mean you’re not VP anymore? Does that mean you don’t deal with _____ and ______? Cause I need you to do ________.”

Yeah, they didn’t get it. They didn’t believe me. Yes, it means I don’t deal with you and you don’t call me with your drama anymore.

It may be harder to quit than I think. So this reporter from the Trib called yesterday saying he was writing an article on galleries and charity auctions and how charity auctions are hurting the art industry. He called me as VP of the Gallery Association. I’ve worked with him before, he’s a super nice guy, but I got a little impatient with his questions and may have said something to the effect that I don’t care what galleries think, artists don’t read their contracts and galleries don’t enforce them and blah blah blah. Not a tactful thing to say when I represent the Utah Arts Council – my actual paying job. But the reporter was cool about it. I think he understood. He was being hounded by the same gallery that was hounding me. This gallery expects an organization or the community to solve their retail wretchedness for them. I called him back today because I was being neurotic about it last night after our conversation. I hate it when I misrepresent myself.

My paying job has been boring me lately as well. I went to a department meeting yesterday. Halfway through the “Balanced Scorecard Initiative” presentation, I discovered my cell phone had a stopwatch on it. So I checked my pulse. Twice. I averaged 85 beats per minute.

And then about three weeks ago at staff meeting, my mind started to wander after an hour. I didn’t realize it was wandering until my boss looked at me and said something like, “What do you think, Laura?” I said, “That sounds good to me,” but what I was actually thinking was “What is nougat, really?” Granted it was Halloween and I had a few 3 Musketeers in my purse. When did I stop caring? Maybe when I realized I cared too much and for no reason.

I need to get with it. Back in the game. Or I need a vacation. And not one of those wimpy five day vacations. A real vacation. Like three weeks. I’m almost there. I have 12 days saved up.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Miss Sorenson's Class

This morning I visited Kristi's first grade class. They were super cute. I guess Kristi had them think of questions to ask me during their recess. So when I got there I took several questions. The first one being "What is your favorite food?" All of a sudden, my mind went blank. I thought "pizza" would get a good response, which it did. But all my answers got good responses. They agreed with all my favorite things. The best question was "What is your favorite dress?" I had no idea how to answer that one. I think the girl who asked it had a mother who was getting married. Dangit! Wedding dress, of course. Why didn't I think of that one? Probably because I don't have one.

I'm glad she had them call me Laura and not Miss Durham. That would have freaked me out a little bit.

Kristi is lucky enough to have a piano in her classroom so they sang a bunch of songs for me. First they sang a turkey song. They sang a few Halloween songs and then they sang "Walk the Line." It was awesome. Kristi wanted me to come so I could play the piano. I played "Go My Son". I remember learning that when I was in grade school with the sign language and everything. Anyway, turns out Kristi could play it better than I could, but it was my first try.

Here is a picture of Kristi commanding her students. This was her asking them to be quiet before the dance party.

Here are some pictures of random kids. I guess their parents all signed a media release form so I was allowed to take as many pictures as I wanted. And all the kids wanted their picture taken. "Take a picture of me! No me! Take another picture of me!"

So I have a lot of pictures.

This is Fredleca. Not sure how you spell that. But I chose her when Kristi asked me who I thought her wildest student was.

And then this next picture is of a few girls. I only remember the name of the one tilting her head. Her name is Amy. She told me that I looked like I was getting married. I asked her, "Why? because my hair is curly? And she said, "No, because of your size."

I made treats for all the kids, because I like to make treats. Check out these turkeys. How cute are these? I was pretty proud of the way they turned out. I was just going to bring cookies, but then I thought "Eh, kids prefer food with faces." They like to eat something that looks like it could come alive any second.

So it was a fun morning. I will definitely have to go back sometime soon. Thanks Kristi!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


2006 was the second year in a row that I dressed up for Halloween after a long hiatus of not caring about the holiday. I think a big reason I dressed up last year was because I actually had costume parties to go to and I seriously thought it would hurt my friend Jon’s feelings if I didn't, because if it weren’t for Halloween (or the ‘80s) I'm not sure he'd be the same Jon I know.

So last year I attempted to dress up as Sydney Bristow. It was all right. But this year was more fun. Maria, Kaila and I decided to find some creepy dolls and dress ourselves up like the dolls. Thanks to moms who know how to sew and some serendipitous luck, we actually pulled it off. Here is a picture of us at our ward Halloween party on Monday. If you’re jealous of our dolls, you can find some of your own at People collect these. So wrong.

Usually, I photoshop pictures to take the red eye out, but Kaila’s red eye looked so awesome with her dress, I didn’t want to touch it.

Halloween was last night, but I didn’t dress up last night. As I was telling my friends, this year felt like the Twelve Days of Halloween, so when the actual day arrived, I was over it. It was kind of anti-climactic and I was sick of putting goop on my face and wearing an itchy wig. But I was proud of our costumes.

Speaking of creepy things, there’s this scary guy that has recently made the Rio Grande Depot his home (it’s my second home as I spend most of my day here earning a living). He wanders around, asking me if I’m working hard or hardly working. He bugs this girl in the research center. I guess the other day he came up to her as she was talking to her coworker. She finally looked at him and said, “Can I help you with something?” and he said, “Oh, I’m just listening in on the building news.”

He sneaks in and out of dark rooms, checking out windows, doors, assessing our weaknesses. Meanwhile, the security guard sits careless at his desk, nose in a novel.

The other day, this lurker came into my office with a copy of "IN" Utah and told me I need to read the “Famous Utah Haunts” section. I thought I better. Here are some selected entries, republished completely without permission from "IN" Utah. But in all fairness, their writers stole these from City Weekly last year. I’m not impressed with the publication, I give it a year.

Shilo Inn
The room where a mother threw her children out of an 11th floor window (and later jumped herself) is allegedly haunted. The pinball machine in the game room is known to play on its own.

Fort Douglas
The fort and its accompanying cemetery has a reported ghost that goes by the name Clem.

West High
A basketball player who wears his old uniform haunts the gym after his alleged suicide. The weight room is known to have weights and equipment move by themselves.

Capitol Theater
Haunted by an old man who died in a building fire in the ‘40s.

Memory Grove
Some folks talk about seeing the ghost of a woman in a wedding gown.

Rio Grande Building
The ghost of a woman in a purple dress who accidentally walked in front of a train supposedly haunts this place.

Deveraux Mansion
Story goes that the ghost of an 8 year-old girl can be seen in the upstairs windows and heard softly singing to herself. She has been seen in pictures taken by visitors and she appears to be the same girl in the pictures hanging on the walls.

I don’t know about this last one (like I know about any of these), the Utah Arts Council has hung artwork on the walls of the Deveraux for years, and I don’t know of any pictures with a girl in them. Must have been a long time ago.

Anyway, hope everyone had a good Halloween. It is officially the “Holiday Season” now. Get ready for Christmas music wherever you go.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Being a Pedestrian

Isn't that a cool picture? I didn't take it. But I like the fog, and it makes me happy that I get to live downtown. I love downtown. I love walking downtown. It’s amazing the things I take note of as a pedestrian. As a driver, I’m more focused on the road and traffic lights. I’ve learned a lot walking to and from work this past year. I feel very comfortable with my surroundings and more aware of the people, buildings and events downtown. The following is a list of things I've learned walking to work:

The Christmas lights on Temple Square start going up in September.

The "holiday" lights at the Delta Center start going up in October.

Seeing how fast you can run down the steps at the Delta Center is fun.

It takes me exactly 17 seconds to cross a city street.

Judging from the plastic bags they carry their lunch in, all of the Temple Square missionaries do their grocery shopping at Wal-Mart.

If I wear a long, black skirt and walk towardsTemple Square, people mistake me for a missionary and wonder where my companion is.

Hardly anyone uses those orange flags to cross the street. And those who do look really scared.

A huge flock of fat seagulls like to congregate in the parking lot just west of West Temple around 8:50 AM and strategize for the day.

I think the space below the Dakota Lofts is haunted because no one has wanted to lease it for the past two years. The last business there was Ruby Tuesdays and they lasted about two months.

Ever since LDS Business College moved down to the Triad Center, the number of people making their way down North Temple has increased significantly – especially the skateboarders.

One out of five people smile back. And they’re usually convention-goers.

They can tear a building down overnight, but it takes years to grow another one in its place. UNLESS it's that Fidelity building on South Temple across from the Delta Center. They threw that together in a weekend, I swear. I try to step lightly when I pass it.

There are five sculptural reliefs of Olympians carved on a concrete wall along 400 West across from the Gateway. Only one figure has blue lips and I don't know why. I hope she's OK.

The employees at the Ford Building take a smoke break every morning at 8:55 AM.

The Rio Grande Hotel has got to be the trashiest hotel in town, but the proprietor is out there at least three times a day sweeping the walks.

"Papyrus" is the favorite font to use for signs on store windows.

The beggar just outside Temple Square did not need money for her surgery. She needed it to buy supplies for a new poster that reads, "Need money for hungry children. God bless."

It gets real windy along Main Street once you hit 200 South.

If there is a sign on Nordstrom's store window that says "Sale" I will go in.

You know what I’m beginning to accept? My remarkable attention to detail. I decided this on Wednesday when an email from Tickle encouraged me to take the “How your brain works and learns” test. I took their IQ Test several weeks ago and learned that I am a “visionary philosopher”. The fact that I can see the future is a power I was somewhat mindful of, but I have committed myself to take on this responsibility to further the advancement of mankind and not abuse it for personal gain.

Anyway, the test results explained my in-depth linear and analytical brain ability. I am undeniably left-brained, which is a little disappointing because I always considered myself a creative person, and creative people are right-brained. Oh well. I probably developed more left brained skills as an art history student. Left-brained people see tiny details within a large picture and see how they work together to form the larger picture. And that’s exactly what art history students are trained to do. We're trained to notice colors, texture, expressions on people's faces, reactions to their expressions, their stance, their gestures, how they relate to their surroundings and what that means in a larger context. I wonder if I would make a good spy. Probably not. The last time someone made me hold a gun I was so devastated I wanted to cry. I’ll stick to analyzing paintings.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I miss spinach.

I went to Wild Oats today to get my big salad at the salad bar and the only lettuce available was boring green leaf. Granted, it’s better than iceberg, but I loved having that spinach there to mix in with my “spring mix” greens which are also not available right now because of the E. coli O157:H7 scare. And earlier this week I went to Macaroni Grill and their “spinach salad” was made with romaine lettuce. Don’t pretend to be spinach. Sad.

I like spinach. I like spinach salad. I like quiche with spinach and spinach on my sandwiches. It was an easy vegetable to incorporate into my diet that lacks the recommended daily allowance of vegetables already. I need my beta-carotene. I don’t really like carrots. I bought a bunch of potatoes, but that’s not a real vegetable.

P.S. what is up with Google? I typed in the search box, “When do we get spinach back?” and in big red letters it asked me, “Did you mean, when do we get punch back?” What the? No, that’s not what I meant. Not even close. Get a clue.

I can feel my vitamin A levels dropping. Does a vitamin A deficiency make you quick-tempered?

You know, on KUTV news the other day they were talking about how E. coli has creeped its way into other stuff like carrot juice. But all we need to worry about is the organic stuff that isn’t processed. If it says, “pasteurized” we’re okay.

Maybe that’s why all the carrot juice was on sale at Wild Oats today.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I love October and today is a perfect October day. I love a little rain. Some people think this weather is gloomy, but I like to think of it as cozy. This is a picture of the leaves at Pioneer Park this morning.

Again, I’m at a place where I want to update my blog but I don’t really have any current events to write about. So instead I will insert a flashback from February 8, 2002. I came across this in one of my journals this morning as I searched for an email from my friend Ilene. If someone says something I like in an email, I keep it, print it out, shrink it down to journal size and save it for reference when I want to remember exactly what they said.

What I found first is actually an email I sent to Ilene about a baby shower I went to. Her inbox was kind of my journal for a while, so I would print out a lot of emails to her and paste them in my journals to avoid writing them all over again, and to avoid the hindsight that comes with rewrites. It made me laugh pretty hard this morning because it just attests to how I really didn’t fit in with my circle of friends. Of course, when you’re really little, it doesn’t matter all that much, but when you get older, it becomes more apparent.

Let’s begin with a brief description of our cast of characters.

Me: You know who I am.
Amanda: Blonde, way into working out. Says “cute” without pronouncing the “t”
Amy: Best friend growing up, super smart, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking or talking to her necessarily. You know what, she doesn’t even have a speaking role in this excerpt, even though it is her shower.
Connie: One of my mom’s friends in the ward. Her lines make her sound like an out of place drunk glued to the couch. She’s the best. I think I sat by her the whole night.

Note to reader: my reactions to what is being said to me are in parenthesis as little asides.

From: Laura Durham
To: Ilene
Date: 2/8/02 9:38 AM
Subject: Amy’s Baby Shower

So last night my friend Amanda hosted Amy’s baby shower. It was a shower where all the ladies from our ward were invited. I haven’t seen Amy for like two years and I haven’t seen Amanda for maybe three or four. Both are extremely pregnant. These were some of the conversations that took place:

Amanda: “Laura!” I haven’t seen you for like three years!”
Me: “I know.”
Amanda: “You look so cute and thin! (did I used to be fat?)
Me: “Thanks, you look kind of fat.” (she’s pregnant so it’s ok to say that)

Connie (my mom’s friend from the ward) is sitting on the couch and says,

“Laura, c’mere. My daughter says you’re dating this guy really seriously.”
“Really? Cause I’m not.”

Amanda’s mom brings me a plate of food and then Amy’s mom grabs a camera to take a picture of me while I’m eating because I’m “so cute” she says.

This one lady from the ward doesn’t recognize me (nor I her, because she’s new in the home ward I guess – or at least new in the past five years) so she comes up to me and says.

“Hi. Did you used to be in the ward?”
“Yeah, we all grew up together.”
“And what’s your maiden name?”

Amanda: “Laura, I can’t believe you’re not married yet.”
Me: “Yeah, I know. None of us can really figure it out.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – I flinch as hoards of laughter come from the gallery of ward ladies that I barely recognize from my Young Women’s days.

Me: “Sorry I’m running out of reasons as to why I’m not married or dating anyone right now.”

Connie: “Just tell’em you’re gay. That’ll shut’em up.

Me: “So Amanda, when are you due?”
Amanda: “Two weeks.”
Me: “Boy or girl?”
Amanda: “A little girl.”
Me: “Do you have a name picked out?”
Amanda: “It’ll be either Tasia or Ashley.” (Please name her Ashley).

About an hour passes and the crowd has died down to just me, Amy, Amanda, their moms and a couple other ladies who stuck around. I stuck around because I was having so much fun reminiscing and having people tell me how wonderful they think I am. This one lady says,

“Laura, you look so pretty. You have such beautiful skin.”
“Oh, thank you.”
“So what are you doing these days?”
“Just moisturizing and getting plenty of sleep.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA –hoards of laughter. Man, these guys are an easy crowd.

Amanda: “Laura, you seem a lot more outspoken than you used to be.”
Me: “Yeah, I lightened up a lot during college.”
Amanda: “Good.”

I was kidding, but whatever. I need to go to these things more often. They treat me like I’m this powerful, smart, and independent woman who has accomplished this tremendous feat by being single, doing my own thing and being happy at the same time. I guess I’m just different compared to Amy and Amanda who both got married when they were 19 or 20 and never wanted to graduate from college.

...end of email...

Yeah, that was funny to read several years later. Man. “And what’s your maiden name?” I love that. The assumption kills me, EVERY TIME.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Our second annual mocktail party was a hit. We had about forty people over, which is more than last year. Perhaps we weren’t so picky about our guests and we relaxed the dress code, although most everyone dressed up. Every time someone came in dressed to the nines it brought a smile to my face.

My favorite part about the party this year was the photography contest. My friend Jon and I came up with the idea a few weeks ago to invite people to bring their photos and then we would award the winner by purchasing his/her photograph. I was the one purchasing the winner, so I chose the winner. But I wanted everyone else to judge the photos too, so we had a “viewer’s choice” in addition to the purchase award.

Coincidentally, Jon won both awards. We really only had two people with submissions, but they each entered several photographs. So the real contest was between Sean and Jon. Sean’s pieces were very picturesque. I think he took them in the Mediterranean somewhere. Nice photographs. Jon’s had a little more drama – which is what I was ultimately looking for.

Here is the winning photograph:

Jon kindly gave me my second choice as well so I could have a pair of playground pieces.

So I bought the see saw and the slide. I will now attempt to explain my reasoning. I was an art history major and had to write about artwork all the time, but I know very little about photography. So keep in mind, I only kind of know what I’m talking about. I’ll try and stick to visual and conceptual aspects rather than technique:

I like the playful shapes and energetic lines in these pictures. The aggressive perspective creates a sense of drama as it juxtaposes the innocence of the subject matter: the playground. It makes for a dynamic reflection, reminding me of what it felt like to approach a see saw or a slide when I was younger. But now, as an adult, the playground appears to be abandoned, rather than bustling with children. The emptiness of the black and white scene lends to a dream-like environment, allowing the viewer to return to his/her childhood in a quiet, and undisturbed moment of reminiscence.

Pictured below is the viewer’s choice award.

It has a bit of the “how’d he do that?” or “unexpected” factor with the vibrant color of the dandelion placed amidst a black and white background…very Pleasantville. This is a neat shot. Jon actually took this photograph at our house. It’s the southwest corner of our lawn. The part of the lawn that Kaila says is impossible to mow. So that’s kind of funny.

Thanks everyone for coming to our party! And a special thanks to those who participated in the contest and voted for your favorites. We’ll definitely do it again.

Monday, September 18, 2006

"Stumbling on Happiness"

That is a title of a book by Daniel Gilbert. He was on the Today Show this morning. I find it interesting how these news shows are doing a lot of stories on happiness lately and how money doesn’t make you happy.

A couple things they talked about this morning made me think:

1) The author quoted someone (don’t know who) who said, “If money doesn’t make you happy, you’re not spending it right.”

I don’t actually think money is the answer to happiness, but I believe what money does buy that makes you happy is opportunity. People with money have the opportunity to do things the less fortunate do not. Such as go to college, send your kids to college, take dance classes or music lessons and travel to far away places. Not to mention, live with the lightness that comes with being debt-free.

It’s funny (well maybe not funny) looking at my credit card bill and the long list of items here and there that add up to way more than I thought they would…small things I bought because it was something to do that day and they looked pretty under the spotlights. Spending too much money isn’t really a weakness of mine, but I could definitely spend less money. Especially because the day will come when that money will need to be spent on a mortgage or graduate school, or credit card payments for my husband who spent all his money on a car he couldn’t afford or computer equipment he doesn’t use. Of course, I don’t see myself marrying an idiot. Boy, I hope I don’t marry an idiot.

The author stressed spending money on experiences rather than objects. I’ve always believed in making travel a priority. As my dad says, “you’re investing in yourself when you spend money on the experience that comes with travel.” Those things make you happier LONGER than say, an expensive piece of jewelry or an overpriced haircut. The experience stays with you and actually cultivates your character. Especially when you travel with friends or family. When you travel with people you’re close with, you reminisce with each other, laugh and talk about the things you shared. Remember D.C.? The cruise? Las Vegas? New York? Those were good times. Looking forward to Hawaii in February. Which brings me to the second thing that makes me happy:

2) Spending time with friends and family.

Humans are naturally social creatures and we crave company and interaction others. That seems like an obvious one. But how it makes you happy is what’s interesting. Quality conversations and time with people you enjoy actually makes you healthier. And being healthier makes you happier. The number of friends and the amount of time you spend with them was actually a question on the RealAge test that makes you younger.

Looking back over these past couple years I’ve recently noticed how much happier I am. I used to get frustrated with myself more; I used to cry over myself more. I’ve lightened up; I don’t take the negative things people say so seriously. And I attribute a lot of this to the relationships I have with my family and more specifically my friends. I have great friends that I get to see or at least talk to every day. Most of which read this blog, and so to you, I want to say thanks for contributing to my happiness. I love spending time with you all and I love that you spend time with me. I don’t have much to cry about these days. mostly because I spend my time laughing instead. I don’t know, maybe life is a little too comfortable right now. I need to try harder at something, so I’ve been trying harder at expressing how much I appreciate everyone. Sometimes it’s harder than it needs to be, but it’s important to me, because my family and friends are important to me.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dinner, Dinner and More Dinner

I must admit, I get invited to some pretty cool parties through work and the Gallery Stroll. Some are lame, but last night’s VIP Dine O'Round preview party at the Union Pacific was pretty awesome.

I took my friend Kaila who works right downtown with me. It was interesting seeing all the restaurants that participate because we had been to most of them this past year thanks to Thursday Night Dinners. (See previous post, “Fireworks and Philly Cheesesteaks”)

This was cool though because I could try food from places that I’m a little intimidated by like the Metropolitan, Cedars of Lebanon, and other places that are way too expensive. There were chefs from 35 restaurants handing out free food. One of the best things I tried was a Mexican sushi roll from Takashi. It had tuna, avocado, green chilies and…something else. I’m really starting to like sushi more than I used to.

I also tried some crostini from Panache that was really good. It restored my faith in their chef after the strange cinnamon cake last week at the Arty Party (see previous post). The spicy sausage penne from Buca di Beppo was too spicy for me, and the vegan chocolate cake from…shoot…where was that? Anyway, it was kind of tasteless.

The new restaurant Zola sounds interesting. They’re above Squatters and they just opened in August. We should try that place. I think it’s a $15 restaurant. The restaurants that participate in the Dine O Round either offer a 3-course meal for $15 or $25.

It doesn’t seem like I ate a lot, but man was I full by the time we left. And we didn’t even stay very long. Most of the food was itty-bitty appetizer portions, but then I run into Kaila with this $6 size piece of cake.

I wish I could have taken all my friends, because who wouldn’t have loved this? But there’s always next year. And there are other parties and things. For instance, tonight I have a reception at the Museum of Utah Art and History honoring “A Century of Art: The Collection of the Salt Lake City School District.” Any takers?

Yeah, I don’t even know if I’m going to make it to that one.

Make sure you come to Gallery Stroll tomorrow night though from 6-9 PM. I’m working solo so friendly faces are always welcome. The exhibit we have is “Utah’s Nifty Fifties.” The Rio Grande CafĂ© and Carlucci’s Bakery are catering, so if nothing else, there will be good food. AND you can see the cool Tinker Toy structure I made all by myself.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Arty Party

Last night was City Weekly’s inaugural “Artys” awards party where they honor local artists, galleries and whatever else they can think of. I guess they have a ballot and voters. And then they have readers’ choice awards too. Kind of like the Slammys.

I met with Annie Quan, who does marketing for them last week about advertising for the Gallery Stroll and so she put me on the guest list. Pictured above is my nametag. There’s something about a laminated nametag that makes you feel important and one of the clan. My SLGA buddy Kristina came with Brandon. They're pictured below. They were making fun of me because I have a blog. I think mostly they were making fun of the fact that I have time to maintain a blog. I can’t argue. It’s 10:27 AM, I’m at work and I’m posting on my blog. Anyway, they have the cutest little boy named Che. Kristina calls me his “Aunt Laura.” Kristina also has a brilliant daughter named Lily. I’m glad they were there because I know them and I know I like them. But most of the people there are really nice. Ruth Lubbers and Amanda from Art Access were there. They’re nice. I also talked to Trent Call and Tessa Lindsay. Both exhibited at my gallery earlier this spring.

And then there were a bunch of people that kind of looked familiar; but I had to casually glance at their nametags to pick up on who they were. This one girl made a beeline for me saying, “Hi! How have you been?” She hugs me, “It’s so good to see you.” And then she tells me she has the Banana Republic skirt I’m wearing. I laugh, tell her how great it is to see her too and then she walks away. No clue who she was. Until I hear someone call her Lindsay, the bell rings and I realize its Lindsay Larkin, one of City Weekly’s salespeople. I’ve met with her a couple times, but mostly I return her phone calls saying we just don’t have money to advertise this month. She’s nice.

The party was at Panache, which is a restaurant on the second floor of the Wells Fargo Building downtown. The food was good. They had really good bruschetta, mini tacos and mini carrots (not baby carrots, mini carrots). They also had those tiny chocolate mousse cups that I like. But here’s something that confused me: I pick up this small piece of chocolate layer cake. I figure it’s just chocolate cake with cream filling in between the layers and maybe the ganache on top has a minty flavor to it. I take a bite and there’s a strong flavor I can’t identify right away. After a few bites I figure it out. It’s cinnamon. Not cinnamon like the spice cinnamon. That might have been good. No, this is cinnamon like Wrigley’s Big Red cinnamon or Cinnamon Bear cinnamon. Weird. I don’t recommend it. Of course I ate the whole thing.

I don’t get City Weekly’s categories for awards: “Most unusual gallery with least likely proprietor” sounds like a category Maria would make up like she did with the beautiful baby contest when she gave an unfortunate baby the “most delicate hair” award. And then if they gave Local Colors Artworks the award for “Best Local Gallery” simply because they have the word “Local” in their name, that’s kind of cheating, don’t you think? I guess its mostly just for fun. I don’t know. Is this serious? Do winners get award money? I wonder what kind of category I could come up with for me to win an award.

Overall it was a nice party. I stayed an hour. They had a little jazzy band there playing jazzed up Metallica and stuff. I kind of kept to my table though. That’s just how I am sometimes. I’m sure that’s how I’ll be at Dre’s birthday party tonight too. It’s at Jim Arbon’s house. I like Jim, I don’t know Jim, but he is a very nice and pleasant person. Not sure if we’ve ever had a conversation before. But there’s something about his parties that make me feel…invisible? Maybe. I mean, I always go with people I know, so that’s fine, but it’s weird. I walk in, I know all the people there because I see them at other parties, they glance at me, and I know they know me yet we don’t really talk to each other. It seems like at any other party we talk to each other. I don’t know there’s something about Jim’s house. I feel like I don’t have a station there, no place to go. Of course I’ll go because, c’mon, it’s Dre. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DRE! You gotta love Dre. Maybe if I print out and laminate a nametag I’ll feel like one of the clan.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Not a Whole Lot to Say

I could talk about the president being here. I could talk about my detour to work today. But that's not as fun as this video.

Since I don't have a lot to go on and on about, here's a video from my archive. This is one of my favorite moments I caught on camera.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Family Shakespearience

My family has been going down to the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City ever since I can remember. This was the first year we've gone in several years. There was a stretch of time when I think we went down every summer. We usually went with two other families: The Burtons and the Knibbes. Bob Burton and Robyn Knibbe were childhood friends of my dad's. I remember being too little to actually see a play so all the kids would just go to the "Green Show" and then the parents would take us to the babysitting place. The grown-ups would go to the plays and then pick us up on their way back to the hotel.

At some point we were old enough to stay at the hotel by ourselves so we didn't have to go to the babysitting place. I remember Tyler Knibbe, Matt and Tommy Burton and my brother Carter getting into trouble. Mostly it was Tyler and Tommy. They would throw all the balls from the pool table into the jacuzzi, break the machines in the gym, throw stuff down the elevator shaft. I guess I just followed along and watched. It was a long time ago. I also remember getting bored when all the boys monopolized the cable TV and watched boxing.

Eventually I was old enough to go see a play. I think my first was A Midsummer Night's Dream or Much Ado About Nothing. Not sure. But it was something light. A few years later, I was old enough to go see TWO plays. That was big. I felt grown up and important.

This year I was old enough for my dad to ask that I buy my own tickets. And so I decided to see three plays: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Room Service and Hamlet. I think Hamlet was my favorite. You know what I noticed? People make weird noises. People in the audience I mean. I was very conscious of their noises this year. There's sincere laughter, nervous laughter, "mm hmms" that people say kind of like an "amen" when a character says something profound. And then of course the guy snoring behind me. The nervous laughter can get annoying. Especially during serious scenes in plays such as Hamlet. People are confused and have a difficult time separating comedy from drama. Sometimes Hamlet would say something funny in his frenzied state of madness, but sometimes his madness wasn't funny. I suppose people need to laugh in order to release the tension they feel watching a tormented soul such as Hamlet.

Here is a picture of me and my parents at The Merry Wives of Windsor in the outdoor Adams Theatre.

This year I went up with my parents, my aunt Jill and uncle Lindsay, cousins Katie, Rachel and Patrick and then Kevin and Daniel (friends of Katie and Rachel). It was a fun group.

On Friday we all went up to Cedar Breaks. Very scenic. There was one rock that had a big gap in it. The forest ranger there said 20 years ago the gap was only about 2 inches. So this picture is for posterity. Maybe 20 years from now it will have broken off completely.

On Saturday we went down to Parowan to visit the cemetery where my dad's relatives the Durhams and the Marsdens are buried. His great-great grandfather? Thomas Durham is buried there along with his wives (yes, plural) Caroline and Alice. Although after looking at the dates we started to doubt whether Alice was a wife. Maybe she was a daughter. She was young enough to be a daughter, but then again so was Caroline. But youth wasn't a deterrent when it came to wives back then, so who knows.

In Parowan they also have petroglyphs up on the rocky hills that you can see from the road and even climb up to and even touch if you didn't know better.

This is Katie pointing to a petroglyph. So that's what Parowan means to me: cemeteries and petroglyphs. Cool stuff.

It was a fun trip. A good three-day get away. I hope I can go to the Shakespearean Festival next year. We're really lucky to have such a quality Festival in Utah. Apparently it's the second best in the nation, just below Ashland, Oregon's. I already know which plays I want to see.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fireworks and Philly Cheesesteaks

Does anyone know what the fireworks were about last night? They were the best fireworks I've seen all year. Kaila and I had a great view out on our porch. They came from just south of our house downtown. Maybe the Gallivan Center.

Last night for our traditional "Thursday Night Dinner" Kaila, Maria, Paul and I went to Moochie's. It's kind of a hole in the wall place in the back of Circle Pottery on 800 South and 232 East. I thought it was good. They're famous for their Philly cheesteaks and meatball sandwiches. I had the Philly cheesesteak. I liked it and I'll probably go back and try one of their other sandwiches.

Here is a picture of Paul eating his Philly cheesesteak "moochie meal". He said it was better than he expected it to be.

And a picture of Maria shocked at Paul's low expectations when Moochie's banner outside clearly claims theirs to be "the most authentic Philly cheesesteak in Salt Lake City."

I think Thursday Night Dinners are kicking into gear again. We kind of slowed down for awhile because of schedules, vacations and whatever. But we've been going for about 13 months now, with an occasional miss.

These dinners began, as I said, a little over a year ago in an effort to more fully appreciate the local restaurants in a downtown that I felt I was taking for granted. And I was sick of eating at Applebees. So every Thursday we try and hit a restaurant that at least one of us has never eaten at before. Here is a chronology of all the new restaurants I've been to this past year as a result of our new tradition:

Market Street Grill
The Garden Restaurant
Pei Wei
Coachman's Pancake House
One World Cafe
The Melting Pot
The Grill Broadway
Jazzee's Cajun
Cucina Toscana
Gourmandie's Bakery
Red Butte Cafe
Blue Plate Diner
The Bombay House
The Other Place Restaurant
Tres Hombres
Sugarhouse BBQ Co.
Avenues Bakery
Atlantic Cafe and Market
Baci Trattoria (now closed)
Mo's Neighborhood Grill
Paradise Bakery
Cloud 9
Siegfried's German Deli

Vote for your favorite or let me know if there's a restaurant that we should go to that's not on the list.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pep Talk for Jack

You've been a good boy Jacky Jack. Good luck with surgery this morning. Auntie Laura is praying for you, mommy, daddy and all the doctors working on your heart today.

You're going to be drugged up for awhile, so when I come to visit you in the PICU and you're asleep know that I love you very much and you're in my thoughts.

If there's intense security at the PICU because of the formerly conjoined Herrin twins making all the national headlines, know that I tried to visit and I'll see you when you come home.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Now a blog

So everyone else is doing it. And I decided Myspace is lame. I'm tired of strange/creepy people sending me messages and pictures of them holding beer or puckering their lips and saying, "hey, I like your pics" and how we should hook up sometime.

But mostly it's because I can't access it on a state-owned computer like the one I have at work. It's pretty much my only computer. I guess the government figured out how Myspace is a breeding ground for evil and they want to protect me. Mostly themselves though. Or maybe they figured out that I was checking into it every other day.

Sorry Lisa, I know you created that page for me a couple months ago with good intentions and also because you were tired of redesigning your own. It's still there.