Thursday, January 27, 2011

Q: The Birthday Post

You've perhaps seen blog posts by proud mommies on the occasion of their children's birthdays, enumerating and extolling their virtuous qualities.

I am not a mommy, proud or otherwise, but yesterday marked the date of the birthday of a dear friend of mine, Qwendy, and I thought I'd sing her praises in a post dedicated just to her. Also? I'm the cheapest kind of friend -- this is her birthday present from me! Lucky her!

First, let me tell you how that name came to be. We live in a world of acronyms. She's forever mocking me for the multi-initialed department name I work in, because it makes for a lengthy, unintelligable-unless-you-have-the-decoder-ring phone greeting when I answer the phone. One day she asked me what I liked at a certain Mexican fast food restaurant, and I said I liked the BRC burrito. Because it's not enough that I use acronyms all day long, apparently it's crept into my personal life as well. In Wendy's mind, it couldn't just be a "BRC" (beans, rice, cheese) burrito -- it had to have even more initials, especially some Qs. The more Qs the better. So she just started adding it to her name. One day she was on the phone with the bank, and the customer service representative asked her how to spell her name. "Oh, you know, the usual way: Q, W, E, N, D, Y." The woman paused, obviously flustered. Wendy said, "Don't worry, the Q is silent. And invisible. Invisible and silent." And thus Qwendy was born.

Wendy is one of my longest friends. I have known her for almost as long as she's been married. She was my visiting teacher when Cim and I moved to southern California. She was willing to do whatever we asked, including a run to Taco Bell for us when circumstances dictated.

The bestest thing about Wendy is her ability to live in a made-up world. I was describing her to one of my sisters once, and when I said that Wendy lives in a fictional world, my sister, the psycho-therapist, grew very concerned and said, "Does she know it's not real?"

Wendy's fictional world includes some of the following bigger-than-life realities:

* I don't just work for a major entertainment company ... in Wendy's world, I work side-by-side with the handsome, famous and very rich CEO.

* Said handsome, famous and very rich CEO, in Wendy's world, is named Bob iPod. It's gotten to the point that when people at work make reference to him by his real name, I'm not sure who they're talking about. Many times I have almost used his Wendy-fictional name when referring to him.

* My position at this entertainment company is such that when Wendy and her family are visiting a certain amusement park, they frequently throw my name around hoping for the "good" perks. Her children are always asking her what Auntie Laura is going to do for them at the Park today...

* When I started taking golf lessons, I was no mere beginner golfer, no not I. I was actually in training for the LPGA tour.

*...the list continues.

Her world is a rich one. I'm finally learning, after 15 years, to roll with the fictional punches and add my own story lines to today's novel. Instead of balking when she asks my opinion about her painting the podium in the primary room pink, I take it up a notch and suggest red, yellow and blue polka-dots instead.

She keeps me on my toes, makes me laugh, and always has sage advice and council (providing you can pull her out of Wendy-land long enough for her to be serious). She is an excellent mother, and I have learned a lot from her as I watch her parent her two beautiful children.

Happy birthday, Wendy-with-the-silent-and-invisible-Q. I look forward to many more years of laughter and fun with you as a friend.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Big Sky Country -- the Real One

In September I went to Montana to visit some friends who live in West Yellowstone. Yes, live there. They don't visit, they're not part of the hordes of tourists that go through Yellowstone National Park every year -- they live there. For me, there is no place on earth more peaceful than that part of the country. The wind whispers through the high trees, you can't turn your head without seeing or hearing some form of animal life, and there is just an overall feeling of peace and calm there.

Here are some photographic highlights from the trip.

Big Sky

In early December I had the opportunity to visit my sister in Wyoming. I know that Montana is the one called The Big Sky state, but I think it has some tough competition in its neighboring state. I took my trusty (not rusty) 12-year old Honda on the trip, and was blessed to see some beautiful sights.

Driving through Provo Canyon, the waterfalls were all frozen, turning Bridal Veil Falls into Icicle Veils instead. Gorgeous. During winter months stopping in the canyon isn't allowed because of avalanche danger, but trust me when I say it was beautiful.

Out of the canyon, somewhere between Park City and Evanston, it was drizzling, the clouds were very grey and low in the sky. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and saw a bird, then did a double-take as I realized that it wasn't just a crow or hawk, but a bald eagle. It was the closest I've ever been to one outside of a zoo. He was flying low, under the clouds, and going almost as fast as I was, so I was able to watch him for quite awhile. I can definitely see why our country's Founding Fathers picked him as a symbol of our country. He was very dignified, graceful and independent.

One morning as I headed out to my car, I saw some footprints in the snow. No size 10 Nikes these, just hoof prints, and some Milk Duds. Not really, but if you want to believe a deer drops candy in the snow, feel free.

Every night presented a gorgeous sunset. This was all from one night, on the drive home to California, actually. It was amazing to watch the progression of it from yellow-grey to vibrant orange-black.

Disneyland Adventures

Not really "adventures." I get to go often enough that I don't feel obligated to rush through the whole park to do every single thing. If a ride or attraction is busy, then we just move on to the next option. It also gives us enough time to leisurely observe people and appreciate how very different every person in humanity really is. For example, we saw a couple of interesting hair-dos:

Speaking of interesting, does anyone else see the irony in this banner?

The best t-shirt of the day award goes to this one:

The flowers were really pretty:

And a day at Disneyland wouldn't be complete without the tradition of Cim and I trying on all the goofy hats. Not "Goofy," just "goofy."