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  1. Habits of Highly Influential People
    1. Buy fun toys.
    2. Play these toys EVERYWHERE.
    3. Tell everyone about your toys.

    I’m just saying that Nintendo ought to be paying us commission for sales that occurred after we purchased ours. Bro&Sis-in-law; bought them practically the day after we emailed about ours. Nate & Shanna just bought one. Manda’s thinking about getting one. I’m just saying — THEY RULE, okay? Get one.

    The Past Couple Weeks in List Form

    • I got a curling iron for Valentine’s Day — it was exactly what I wanted.
    • We went to Freestyle the other night. I’m officially in love with their strawberry sorbet after sneaking some of Todd & Alyda’s a couple months ago.
    • I’m almost ready to start doing something with my trip photos.
    • It’s hot here. Really, really hot.
    • We’ve got our curtains up now that we bought at the World Market in Des Moines. They make the living room look like a beach house with the way they blow in the breeze.
    • I’m officially employed now, and it feels nice.

    To Eat or Not to Eat
    For those on the other side of the world, my state here is currently experiencing a drought. There is talk of imposing Level 5 water restrictions, and I’m not sure what that means, but I’m pretty sure it involves using an outhouse instead of a toilet that flushes or something like that.

    All that to say that the community as a whole seems to be a little more water-conscious, and at least around here, we’re trying to cut back. Father-in-law has a water tank that catches the rainwater off our house to use for watering the garden. I keep a pitcher by the sink and keep the water I use to rinse wine bottles and non-icky stuff. The plants on my veranda don’t mind.

    So the other night we went to Hog’s Breath, and we had the best steaks I’ve ever had in this country. So it pains me to say that out of principle, I can never go back there.

    You see, I went in to use the restroom, and I noticed the stall next to me was running and running and running. Ever the plumber’s daughter, I went in to give it a flush as that sometimes jostles whatever is keeping it from stopping. No dice. Since it wasn’t the kind that I could lift the top off, I went to tell the gal at the front desk just so someone would be aware. Level 4 water restrictions and all, you know?

    What did she say to me? “Oh yeah, it’s been like that for a while. We can’t get a plumber in to fix it.”

    Excuse me? You’ve been letting this toilet run like a faucet “for a while”, and there isn’t a single plumber in all of Brisbane who will come fix it for you?

    That’s ridiculous, and so I must now boycott. That particular location. Because there are plenty of other yummy steaks to be had at their other locations closer to our house. 🙂

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

  2. A Bit of Reflection
    Having been back for almost a week now, I’ve gotten lots of questions from people. How was the trip? Was it hard to come back? Did you have a good time?

    I find that I’ve been giving the same appropriate answers. The trip was lots of fun. It was hard to leave, but I’m happy to be back. We had a great time.

    That’s not entirely true. The truth is that when I think back over January, while there was lots of fun and greatness… we were also there for the deaths of two people that impacted me quite immensely.

    The One
    My Aunt Lori passed away the morning we were flying back to Iowa from Florida. She was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer six months ago, and they never determined the source. It was just everywhere. She took a turn on Christmas and was moved to hospice care. Dad flew down to Phoenix over New Year’s weekend to see her one last time. She died two weeks later.

    I can’t say I was ever really close to her, but it’s never easy to watch your Dad cry. I was glad we could be there to support my family. Death can never have good timing, I guess… but all the same, it was nice to be in the States and have some closure.

    I was given one of her flutes, a little retro handbag of hers, and a jewelry box she had which had originally been my grandmother’s. I also spent hours looking through her photo albums and learned so much about her. She was a total hippy in the truest sense. She followed bands around. She had hundred of pictures of her and her friends sitting around outside. Lovers of the earth.

    I took four pictures out of the albums without telling anyone. Three were taken at a Queen concert with Freddie Mercury in all his glory. The other was of her. She was maybe 20 years old, outside. She has marijuana leaves tucked behind her ear like a flower, and she has a beautiful wide smile. It seemed to capture the aunt that I didn’t really know.

    The Other
    A couple weeks later Mr. Johnson died. He was the father of my best friend in school. He was my English teacher in 10th grade. I spent a lot of time at their house back then, and in the later years, I would pop by their house at Christmastime when I was back in town. I danced with him at Jenn’s wedding. He was just a person that has always kind of been there.

    He had a brain tumor. I guess I always thought he was going to get better.

    I saw Jenn a few days after Christmas when she was in town for the holidays. They came to my parents’ house. She and her husband met my husband. Her siblings came too. It was fun. A couple weeks later she came back to meet with the doctors again. We had coffee. She said that she had done her grieving already… that the dad she knew was already gone. Not long after that he really was.

    I cried more during that next week than I had with my aunt. I felt bad for Jenn and her siblings. I was struck with the fact that we are now to the age where it’s our parents who are dying… it’s not just for grandparents anymore.

    But again, I was so glad we were there to be a support for Jenn, to bring food to the house, to share memories, to laugh together and to cry together. It was good.

    So yeah, it was a best/worst-of-times type of trip.

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

  3. I’m Officially Never Going Anywhere Again
    Traveling great distances is never fun, but that non-fun-ness is quadrupled when one is under-the-weather. I started coming down with a cold on Wednesday night, and by the time we got to the airport on Thursday, I was coughing and sneezing. So this has been the longest 32 hours of my life, but we’re back at our house safe and sound with all of our luggage as well.

    Celebrity Sighting: Part 4
    Today’s celebrity sighting really takes the cake. If I had thought quicker and hadn’t felt like poo-sticks, I would have tried to get a photo or something, but we totally saw Snoop Dogg sauntering through Sydney’s airport with his entourage. I can’t wait to tell my brother.

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

  4. Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye
    I can’t believe how fast these two months have gone. So much to do, so many people to see, so much time consumed by MarioKart. Now I’m madly trying to figure out how we’re going to get all of our stuff back in the four suitcases we have. I have accumulated four new (awesome) pairs of shoes, tons of summery blouses, several skirts, some books, some games, and a flute. That’s on top of all the crap I brought with me originally. (Did I really think I needed two pairs of flipflops? I didn’t even take them to Florida.)

    We’ll be heading out tomorrow at noon and should arrive in Brisbane at 11:35 AM on Saturday their time. Crazy.

    Posted in Nothing in Particular.

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