Sunday, December 28, 2008

Oda a Paraguay

This post is a tribute to Paraguay, the beloved country of my missionary service. I have gotten really nostalgic about it lately since I just finished reading a novel by the paraguayan author Augusto Roa Bastos called Hijo de Hombre (Son of Man). Also, my cousin David just received his mission call to the Paraguay Asunción North Mission, the same mission that I returned from just over a year and a half ago. I love the country and especially the people. I would go back in a second if could to visit all of my friends there and to show Tiffani that little piece of my life.

Esto es un tributo a Paraguay, el querido pais de mi misión. He pasado mucho nostalgia recien por dos razones. Primero, hace poco terminé de leer un libro por el autor paraguayo Augusto Roa Bastos que se llama Hijo de Hombre. Tambien, mi primo David apenas recibió su llamamiento misional a la misión Paraguay Asunción Norte, la misma misión en que yo serví. Asi que, al va a poder conocer el lugar, la gente, y el idioma que ya conozco. A mi me encantaría volver para que pudiera visitar a todos mis amigos de allí y mostrar a Tiffani esta pedazito inolvidable de mi vida. Para todos mis amigo de Paraguay, les quiero mucho y espero verlos pronto.
Elder Hernandez, Inocencia and her children, Ramona and her 4 children, and me, Elder Lehmitz
Me at a little birthday celebration with Gordo, Osvaldo, Jenny, Jasmin and Cintia

The baptism of Benigno and Irma, accompanied by family and neighborhood friends


The LDS temple in Asunción (el templo)

Difficult, not impossible

Some statue along the highway near barrio Molino, Luque, Paraguay

Just in case you get the hankering for some pool in the middle of the jungle

Coco trees, beautiful

Sugar cane! And check out the cool straw hat and Indian bag. La cana, y mira el sombrero piri y la bolsa
This is one of my favorite places in Paraguay; barrio Salado in Limpio. I love those hats too!


Toucan (although I don't think it's Sam)

Monkey! Don't worry, he's chained up. Don't tell PITA



Empanadas--they come in beef, cheese, ham & cheese, corn, chilean, etc. (carne, queso, jamon y queso, chocla y chileno)


Paraguay, especially in the town of Luque, is known for its hand-crafted guitars and harps. I never say anyone else wear a poncho, but I thought it was cool anyway. The orange and black centerpiece on our kitchen table below is called nanduti, which translated would be something like "spider lace."

This is a bag made by the indigenous peoples. There are actually a ton of different Indian tribes in Paraguay with lots of different languages and dialects. Thes bags are mostly a tourist souvenir; the people don't hardly ever buy them.

These are some more souvenirs from Paraguay. The three cup things in the middle are called guampas and are used to drink the most common beverage of Paraguay, terere and/or mate. Terere is drunk using ice water, whereas mate is made using hot water and mixing it with yerba, which is a combination of dried herbs that when mixed with water, makes a kind of tea. The guy on the right is a figurine made of a wood called palosanto, which is native only to Paraguay. It smells goods too!

This shot includes some bracelet trinkets and the currency of Paraguay. Their money called guaranies are highly inflated and come in sets of 1000 units. The small bill, similar to the U.S. dollar in its usage is the 1000 bill, which is call a mil. They also have 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 100,000 guarani bills

This is a brick kiln that they use to cook a special kind of bread called chipa, which is similar to a bagel. I can't remember the exact name they use for the oven though.

In this picture I'm sporting my Paraguayan shirt made of a material called aopoi. They do some pretty cool embroidery with them and come in long and short sleeve in a variety of patterns and colors. I'm also showing off Jorge's Mission Fund. I baptized him the last day of my mission and we still maintain contact. We currently donate $10 a month to help fund his mission, which he plans to serve as soon as possible. If anyone else would like to contribute, just contact me.

Well, that gives you a little glimpse of Paraguay and the wonderful treasures that it has. Hopefully someday we'll return to see more.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Media and Processes

While student teaching, I had the opportunity to try out some new processes in art. Ever since I went to the Springville Art Museum last year, I wanted to try doing a collograph. I made two templates, and a bunch of prints. Here is one of my favorites.Although this piece is non-representational, the floating organic forms kind of remind me of outer space. As I was creating it, I kept thinking about the band, Brave Saint Saturn, and their strange, ethereal theme. My favorite thing about collographs is the layers of intricate texture that can be created.

The other piece I created is an oil painting of my Great-Grandma Ruby who recently passed away in September. The painting is a Christmas present for Grandma Sally, Ruby's caregiver and daughter. It's just a copy of a picture of Grandma Ruby in high school, but it was a great starter piece to introduce me to oils. Oils are great because they take longer to dry, so each time I revisited the painting, I could just get it a little wet with turpenoid and pick up where I left off.
Since I used a monochromatic color scheme, painting Grandma Ruby was a great exercise in value. It's funny how our eyes deceive us sometimes. At first, I had some of the shadows way too dark, and then I had to go in and lighten some things up. I really enjoyed working on this piece, but now I want to try something that will challenge my creative abilities by producing a more conceptual piece.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chocolates, Devil's Garden, and the Slot Canyons

Last year, Will was introduced to Thanksgiving at the cabin. This year, he reaped the benefits of being one of the family. Instead of sleeping on cots, we got a "married people bed." As part of our new role of grown-up folk, we also assumed some responsibility for the Thanksgiving feast. I was a little ambitious and decided to make orange rolls in addition to crescent rolls. We ran out of flour. Needless to say, bisquick is a great substitute.
After the feast, we embarked on our long-time tradition of making chocolates. Will and I decided our contribution would be the caramel. Unfortunately, we struggled with the "hard-ball stage" to say the least, our caramel turned out to be toffee. Thankfully, Wendy and Torrey, my aunt and uncle, came to our rescue and made some more. We're now enjoying a vast array of chocolates and getting much closer to becoming diabetics.
We got a little cabin fever after Thanksgiving, so in the middle of chocolate-making, we took the kids to Devil's Garden, a vast aray of hoodoos found near Escalante. These are some pictures of the gang.
The kids loved crawling in all the little caves and passages. Contrary to popular belief, I think I will be a cautious mother after all. It's one thing when I go rock-climbing and another thing when little munchkins are scrambling around.
To the right are some hoodoos. (I just really like that "hoodoo" doesn't sound scientific at all.)

And here's a little hoodlum. (She's wearing a hood. . . silly)
The next day, we decided to go to the Slot Canyons with the little Widget. Canyoneering with a two-year-old poses some unique problems. I think Will was more concerned about the dangers of the car ride than the actual expedition. He got a little car-sick from Justin's off-roading.
Kell insisted on wearing the "pack-pack" but could barely walk around with it since it was just about as heavy as he was.

See that little white speck sandwiched between cliffs--that's me!

All in all, Thanksgiving weekend was a grand adventure. It was fun to relax, eat food, be with family, and explore new places around the cabin.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fear of Failure

My parents bought us poor folk a Christmas tree this holiday season. I had high aspirations to make a tree skirt, especially after I saw the ridiculous prices of tree skirts on retail. Unfortunately, my fear of failure prevents me from doing so. I don't think it would be that difficult because basically it's a circle, but the task seems overwhelming. Just getting out the sewing machine is a hassle! Designing my tree skirt is even more intimidating because the tree is garnished with gold, but is juxtaposed with natural elements like pinecones and moss balls. I think I will just keep filling up the floor under the tree with presents so observers don't even notice that our tree is naked.
P.S. I have yet to make my own pie crust--that is another fear--my last attempt was in eighth grade foods class.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

When does it get hard?

I feel like we've really stepped up in our blogging efforts these last few hours. In fact, with our third post in one day, we've exponentially increased our output. Instead on once-a-month entries, we now do three-a-dayers.
So, ever since we got married way back in April when we got married, we got all sorts of ominous warnings about the first year of marriage. "If you can get past the first year, you'll be okay." "Yeah, the first year is always the hardest." Blah, blah, blah.... we're still waiting.
The past six months have been the best of our lives and we don't plan on changing soon. Granted, we aren't begging for marital trials either, but so far the recipe for happiness hasn't been extremely difficult to produce. So, based off a suggestion from my one of my favorites of Tiffani's friends, Elise, (yes, she's one of my favorites... she gave me a leather friendship bracelet to show her allegiance to me... so for all of you not mentioned on the favorite friend list, Christmas is coming up...) we concocted a Halloween costume to quiet the critics. We named it. "Marriage: A Pair-a-dice (Paradise)."

And of course, we brought home the prize for best group costume for our meticulously crafted boxes and our flawless performance as we skipped down the aisle and sealed the deal with a kiss at the family Halloween party.
So, while some may feel unlucky or unsatisfied with their rolls, we feel like our dice are stacked for success.

Fall Decorating Skills

Since we've moved into our little apartment, I have developed this urge to "nest." One night, while Will was watching football, I decided to make fall floral arrangements. I made two as gifts to friends, but then I wanted one for myself as well.

I found an idea online, but mine turned out entirely different. The candle thing was supposed to be with real flowers, which probably aren't as susceptible to fire. Even though the candle isn't really practical, it adds a nice aroma. The arrangements were fun to make, and hopefully they will just increase in quality. Believe it or not, I have had no formal training in flower arranging. My stepmom, Jenifer, is really into that stuff, but I didn't show her my poor attempts because I am afraid of judgment.

Sydney, the Cockatoo, and Other Adventures

Over UEA weekend, which was around the middle of October, Will and I decided to take off for the weekend and head to Moab. We arrived there Friday night and went to several campsites in search of a spot to lay our heads. The only one that seemed to have vacancies adjoined a trailer park. We went to the manager's office to pay our dues. I was a little confused when he told me I interrupted "Daddy's cuddle time." Since I didn't know how else to respond to this statement, I gave a nervous laugh. I was curious about what sort of creature he was hiding under his blanket. As we were filling out the necessary information, the secret was unveiled. He introduced us to his "daughter," Sydney, the cockatoo. During the next couple of minutes I met the rest of his family--Worthless--the cat, and a dog, whose name I didn't quite catch.

Will and I were relieved to get out of the messy trailer. We found our campsite, which would have been really cute if it wasn't two feet away from some other campers. Underneath the twilight, we set up our two-man tent (compliments of my brother) and settled down to rejuvenate ourselves for the grueling mountain biking that was to happen the next day.
We decided to bike Slickrock because our options were limited since we had to do a loop trail. We felt pretty tough with our hardtail bikes. Everyone else had padding, biker jerseys and full suspension bikes. I didn't want people with expensive gear to show me up, so I attempted the first steep decline. Needless to say, there was sand at the bottom and I flipped over my handlebars. Will, being the sweet husband that he is, didn't laugh, but was very concerned about my well-being. Thankfully, the rest of the ride went much smoother. Although Will and I had to walk our bikes up the steep hills a number of times, I am proud to say that I rarely got off to walk my bike on the downhills. We were exhausted by the end of the ride, but it was totally worth it! Here are some highlights.

Will is going about 25 miles an hour here. His face exhibits the intense concentration he employed while handling technical manuevers down the trail.
Notice how my bottom is hanging over my back tire; it is not perched above the seat. If I would have used this technique earlier, I don't think I would have face-planted.

One mountain bike excursion was enough for one day. After we finished the ride, we headed over to Canyonlands to do a little sight-seeing. Since I was terrible at drinking water while on the trail, I downed about two nalgenes afterward. This did not eliminate my headache; rather, it gave me a full bladder. The visitor's center at the park was under construction, but I noticed some new outhouses and decided to try them out. I was immensely impressed by their fragrance. Overall, it was a pleasurable experience. Other than the outhouses, the highlight of Canyonlands was probably "Upheaval Dome" also known as "The Salt Dome." The name attached to the formation corresponds with the theory. Upheaval Dome theory basically maintains that the huge dome was caused by a meteor. Whereas, the Salt Dome theory states that it was caused by a huge deposit of salt that formed when the ocean was over top of that particular region. When the salt was exposed to the surface, erosion caused a depression to occur. (Don't quote me in this simplified explanation, just enjoy the picture.)

Here I am contemplating the geological phenomenon.

Will should be in a "got milk" commercial.

This was just an amazing view of the White Rim. At one point in time, this land was just a flat surface.

Both Will and I went on separate occassions to Moab last year. Even though we went with friends, it was much more fun going together. We were able to bike, hike, camp, and use all of our cool camping equipment from the wedding. Even though our campsite was less than ideal, it gave me a whole new perspective on cockatoos.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Badger Creek 2008

For all of you who don't know what Badger Creek is, let me explain. It is the outdoor learning center of BYU-Idaho. Kids and families sign up to use the facilities which include high ropes courses, horseback riding, canoeing, rafting, as well as spiritual instruction from the staff. So, it's similar to EFY, although with more outdoor adventures involved.
This is the dangling duo. You have to climb up a 40 ft. ladder without using the cables on the side. All you can us is your partner.

Our Cozy Little Log Home

We even got our own little cabin in the woods. Of course, like our families love to rehearse, we also lived in a tiny one room cabin with only bunk beds for a week and a half. It was definitely an interesting time, especially for two newlyweds.
But apart from that, Tif and I took full advantage of our time there to work and play. Tif worked as the Program Director for Badger Creek and I got a job with Three Peaks Plumbing, Inc., where I worked mostly in Driggs on the Colter Building.

This is the lovely Colter Building where I spent my summer. Featured in the front is little ol' Debertito, my working compadre.

But, when we weren't working, we were enjoying all of the activities offered by the camp and playing with the staff.

You probably didn't know i was so skilled with wild beasts. I kept him tied up while I was riding just to make sure nobody around me got hurt.

My wife even made me try and tackle my fear of heights. Unfortunately, they still scare me to death, although a feel a lot safer being in a harness.

Anyway, summer was awesome!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Cliffs Notes Version of Summer

Although our summer was incredibly busy with both Will and I working full time, we managed to go on a couple summer adventures. On our first expedition, we set out to bike the course that the participants take for the pioneer trek. What started off as a four-mile ride turned into twenty-four miles of varied terrain, four of which were fraught with snow.

After the grueling climb up the hill we were encouraged by the lush greenery, so we kept going despite some warnings from some ATV enthusiasts.

And we trudged through the snow for two hours, just thinking that it would dissipate around the next bend. Overall, it was an amazing feat and we had sore bottoms and wet shoes to show for it.

Our next major snow adventure occurred over the fourth of July. Will and I decided to embark on his first backpacking trip. We chose a route in the Tetons that would take us by Green Lake. We never made it to the lake because snow disguised the trail.

Well, this whole time we were living in Tetonia, Idaho at the base of the Tetons. We had our own little cabin and were always surrounded by nature and we loved out time at Badger Creek!