Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today I Did Not...

Today's Prompt: Write about what you did not notice today. This is a good exercise for getting in touch with one's own or one's character's longing, with desire, with loss.
(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises"

Today I did not see the soft glow of the sunrise as it lit up the low horizon beyond the farmer's fields, slowly making its way over the mountains. I did not watch the long shadows in our pasture shrink away from the light, the horses blinking and tossing their manes, awake long before the sun. I did not see the sunlight creeping in between the cracks of the curtains and falling in slivers onto the carpeted floor. I did not hear our cat prowling around our closed bedroom door, mewling for food and swishing her tail. I was too deeply asleep to notice my husband stir and wake up, his hand briefly caressing my cheek before he crawled out of bed. I did not hear the rumble of his truck as he backed out of the driveway on his way to work. It wasn't until I finally opened my eyes and saw the sun high in the sky that I realized I had not noticed the emptiness he left behind, and wished I had. 

What did you not notice today?

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, August 29, 2011


My dad is the toughest man I know.

As a child, I knew there was nothing Dad couldn't do. He fixed our van countless times when it broke down on us during vacation. He lifted heavy boxes high over my head. He dove into the deep-end of our pool. He knew the answer to every math question I ever asked him. He could talk the cop out of giving him a ticket when he got pulled over for speeding. He provided for one wife and eleven needy children, constantly.

My dad turned sixty-nine at the beginning of this year, which means, if my meager math skills serve me correctly, that he'll be seventy next year. The thought baffles me. Seventy year-old men are stooped and gray and wear dentures. My father is none of those things. His hair is dark (although he has less of it than he used to), he loads and unloads bales of hay in and out of his truck all by himself, and he eats steak with his very own teeth. He cannot be almost seventy.

Now that I'm older, I know that there are things that Dad can't do. But when I attempt to describe him, the words that still come to mind are tough. Vibrant. Invincible.

Dad is a dragon-slayer. A gladiator. A titan. Nothing can bring him down. Not even seventy.

But a few weeks ago, we had a scare that something could.

A routine doctor's visit revealed that Dad had a low platelet count. Concerned about leukemia, the doctor referred him to an oncologist. The appointment was made for a week later. Dad didn't want anyone to worry over him, so he told Mom and no one else. But Mom needed to tell someone, so the news slowly spread to all of us kids. And the idea that there was something in this world that could take Dad down, an unheard of notion before, settled in all our minds and took root there, destroying everything that had once been so sure.

Until the tests results confirmed whether Dad had leukemia, I couldn't think about it. I couldn't or I'd break beneath the pain of it all. But at the same time, it was impossible not to think about it, impossible not to envision what my world would be like without Dad in it. It was in those agonizing moments that I faced a bitter truth: my parents are not going to live forever. Their parents hadn't, nor had their parents' parents. Even if the tests came back negative, someday, eventually, something was going to bring my father down. He can't live forever. Someday I am going to have to say goodbye to him.

He is not invincible.

As much as I wish he was.

Mom orchestrated a family fast the day of Dad's oncologist appointment. He received a Priesthood blessing. We prayed and attended the temple and put our faith in the Lord, trusting that His purposes were greater than ours, whether He chose to take our Dad or let us keep him on earth with us for a little longer.

After some preliminary tests, the oncologist told Dad everything looked good and the low platelets were likely the result of a lab tech error. A few days later, the test results were in and there was nothing abnormal to be seen.

We all breathed a sigh of relief.

I wonder if this experience was more for me than Dad, to teach me how fragile life is, even those things I take for granted as being permanent, unchangeable. Whatever the purpose, I thank Heavenly Father for letting us keep Dad here for a little while longer.

After all, we still have a seventieth-birthday party to throw for him.

It will be a party the likes of which the inside of the church building has never seen before.

We'd better start planning,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday List

I have a lot of post ideas running through my head, but not enough time to write any of them at the moment. So I'm going to slip out for the weekend like a diner sneaking out of a restaurant before paying her bill, and leave you with a list. Ok, I'm not really sure how that simile applies. But I like it.

I promise I will be a more faithful--and entertaining--blogger next week.

1. Happy one-year anniversary to my braces! My orthodontist made me the happiest girl in the world this morning by telling me that I definitely won't be wearing them for another year. Let's cross our fingers that this February will be the month that I lose my metal-mouth status. Or sooner. I could totally go for sooner.

2. Of course after giving me that good news, my orthodontist laughed maniacally and slapped these hugely thick rubberbands onto my teeth, binding my upper and lower teeth together so tightly I can hardly open my mouth. He gave me a couple bags of them and ordered me to wear them all the time, only taking them out to eat or brush my teeth. And if I need refills, just give the office a call. But be sure to remember the animal on the front of the bag; that lets them know what thickness of rubberbands I am wearing.

My animal is a rhino.

Do they get bigger than rhino?

Blue whale, maybe.


3. Baby Brown Eyes suddenly isn't as clingy as he used to be. He still loves his mom and dad, but when we go over to my parents' house he toddles off and plays with his cousins for hours on end, forgetting we're even there. Yesterday he reached for my dad and didn't want to come back to me when it was time to go.

My dad cheats, though.

He feeds Baby Brown Eyes M&Ms.

You can get almost anyone to love you by feeding them chocolate.

It is nice to be able to go to the bathroom without being followed.

4. After being in Oregon, I am going through seafood withdrawals. I want it. Constantly. Beer-battered halibut, stuffed salmon, fresh crab. Anyone know a good seafood place in Arizona? That I can move into?

5. If you're on the hunt for a cute, vintage bathing suit that won't quite break the bank, this is the place. Popina has changed my life.

6. I completely accidentally met a fellow writer today. I love it when that happens.
7. Proverbs 3:7-10. This sums up my life. We are amazingly blessed of the Lord. (Thanks to my sister for leading me to these verses, even though she didn't mean to.) Our barns and presses are bursting with plenty. Figuratively, of course.

Hope you have a great weekend. I will be experimenting with kissing Mr. Brown Eyes while wearing my rhino rubberbands, and keeping Baby from sticking his little fingers into my mouth and trying to play with them.

Soon to be braces-free,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Here and Now

Today's Prompt:
Where you are right now?
What do you see? List three things.
What do you hear? List three sounds.
What do you smell? List three smells.
What do you taste? List at least two tastes.
What do you feel on your skin? List three things.
Then, imagine you have moved outside nearby. Ask and answer the same questions.

(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises"

Right now I am sitting at the counter in my parents' house. I see a half-eaten carton of bright pink yogurt; a chubby, dark-haired baby chewing on a spoon; and a red and yellow box of Barnum's Animals crackers.

I hear my nephew crunching pretzels with his teeth; Cookie Monster singing "C is for cookie..."; and the low hum of my laptop.

What do I smell? That's a hard one. I smell salty pretzels; the slightly-sweet, sweaty smell of my son's hair; and the tropical scent of my deoderant.

I taste the metal of my braces and pretzels. Mmm. Delicious pretzels.

I feel the hard edge of the counter against my lower arm; the warmth of my laptop against my wrists; and loose hairs from my bun tickling the back of my neck.

If I were to move outside to the table on my parents' patio, I would see the turqouise blue of the pool; tiny hummingbirds hovering around the bird feeder; and a black and white cow standing in the pasture, flicking his tail. I would hear cicadas buzzing in the trees; cars whizzing by on the street; and the hum of the air conditioner. I would smell chlorine, manure, and my deoderant, hard at work. I would still taste metal and pretzels. I would feel the gritty surface of the patio against my bare feet; the heavy, searing desert heat against my skin; and the slightly rough wrought iron armrests of the patio chair against my hands.

Where are you here and now?

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Catching Up

After a wonderful week in Oregon, I'm back and ready to blog. However, I also have over a week's worth of laundry to fold, cat hair to vacuum, and floor to mop. So, while I try to catch up on life, here are some highlights from my vacation.

Baby's first haircut

Wearing his cousin's princess helmet
This is just part of our catch from two hours of crabbing

About to eat the "Chocolate Bag"

More stories to come,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hawley Lake

Welcome to one of my favorite places on earth.

There's nothing like escaping from 110 degree weather for a relaxing weekend spent here:

I love camping almost anywhere we go, but there's something about this place. It's so quiet that it's full of noise--fish splashing, cows mooing, people talking on the other side of the lake, birds squawking, boats creaking. Meadows blanketed with clover and wildflowers slope down to the lakeshore where the water dazzles blindingly in the sun. The sky, when it's not raining, is impossibly blue, the billowing white clouds so low you feel like you can reach up and touch them.

It's one of those places that makes you want to hit your knees and thank Heavenly Father for creating such beauty.

But I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The first time Mr. Brown Eyes and I came here, Baby Brown Eyes was just a zygote inside of me. I didn't even know I was pregnant yet. I was so hormonal I cried when I saw a chipmunk get run over.

Now look at my baby:

I don't know how this happened. Just yesterday my little boy was a sweet little baby who laid in my lap and cooed at me. Now all of a sudden he's a sweet little temper-tantrum-throwing-I-can-do-it-by-myself-run-away-from-Mom-and-Dad-exploring-the-world-tumbling-down-the-stairs toddler. I am the mother of a toddler. How? When? And will he ever stop running and playing long enough for me to snuggle him?

Ah, yes.
When he's sleeping.
I'll take what I can get,
The Brown-Eyed Girl


Tomorrow I fly away in an airplane to Oregon, where I plan to eat all the seafood I can get in my mouth, take Baby Brown Eyes to the beach for the very first time, and play, play, play. In honor of my vacation, here is today's prompt:

What is your dream vacation?

My dream vacation would be going to Italy, the motherland. Mr. Brown Eyes and I would see all the sights, especially Rome and Venice, sink our toes into white, sandy beaches, and visit all kinds of little cafes and markets where the Italians speak with wild gestures and call me "principessa." And we would eat gelato. Lots and lots of gelato. Then we would escape to the countryside where we would forget we were tourists and befriend some local farmers, who, it would turn out, were actually my relatives. They would invite us to stay in their cottage and they'd cook us delicious meals and we would ride their horses through sun-soaked fields and down to quiet, shaded lakes. My relatives would like us so much they'd ask us to stay forever, and we'd be tempted to say yes until we remembered that we had children back home, missing us, and we would have to say no.

I would also settle for a nice long Mediterranean cruise.

Where do you dream of traveling?

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, August 8, 2011


Happy Birthday to Harley! She turns five years old this week.

Isn't Mr. Brown Eyes a stud?
Actually, we don't really know when her birthday is. We just decided we would celebrate it on the anniversary of when we bought her.

We had no immediate intentions of buying a second horse last summer. If you had asked me what animal we were most likely to add to our family, I would have said a dog or maybe another cat. Mr. Brown Eyes was pretty caught up in the idea of getting a dog--a puppy, actually--that Baby Brown Eyes could grow up with. But the idea of a tiny puppy chewing up all my shoes with its tiny puppy teeth did not thrill me. So whenever Mr. Brown Eyes brought it up I would just shrug and say something about not wanting a baby dog to take care of in addition to our brand new baby human.

Then a friend of ours told us about someone she knew who had a horse he was trying to give away. Mr. Brown Eyes had been wanting a horse of his own, and my horse, Sultan, couldn't keep up with the pasture by himself. And this horse was free. So we went to take a look. The horse proved to be as beautiful as his pictures and owner claimed, but he had practically zero training and would require much more work than brand new parents would have time to give. We had to say no.

I knew Mr. Brown Eyes was disappointed, so I promised him we would keep looking. It couldn't have been more than a week later that he found the ad for a four year-old American Saddlebred. We drove out to the middle of nowhere to see her. She was gorgeous, gleaming copper with a flaxen mane and tail. She was friendly and greeted us by pushing her velvety nose into our hands. She was gentle and well-trained. She was not free. But we had fallen in love.

By the next afternoon, there were two horses in our pasture.

I know, I know. I won't let Mr. Brown Eyes get a puppy. But a horse? No problem.

I've never claimed to be rational.

At least horses don't piddle on the carpet,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Random Picture

Today I am joining my sister for "Random Picture Thursday." I chose a random number and counted through the pictures on my computer. And today's winner is...

Wow. Talk about random.

This is Mr. Brown Eyes at our family Halloween party a couple years ago. Isn't he handsome? He is dressed up as Woody (I was Little Bo Peep). Somebody brought little eyeball gummy candies, which is what he has in his mouth. And that eyes-rolled-into-the-back-of-his-head zombie face? That's the face he makes when he's making fun of me for being scared of I Am Legend. (Scariest movie I've ever seen in my life. I had to sleep with my light on.)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I don't think I'll ever grow out of my love of dressing up. And the annual Halloween party my family throws is one of the biggest events of the year. But that's a story for another day.

Happy Halloween,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing Prompt Wednesday #10

Todays prompt: What is the best prank you've ever pulled on someone?

I am not much of a prank-puller. My sister is the one who, when we were still living at home, used to hide around the house and jump out when I came walking by, almost scaring the pee out of me. I am much nicer than that. I don't play pranks on people. Probably because I'm not very good at it.

My sophomore year of college, however, I had a couple pranksters for roommates, the kind of girls who colored my milk green on April Fools Day and cranked up the thermostat in my room when they thought I wasn't looking. When they got into a prank war with an apartment of guys we were friends with, somehow I got pulled in, too.

Somehow it began with us filling each others' apartments with newspaper, tons of it. We'd scour campus and grab as many copies of the school's weekly newspaper we could find and pile them into bags and tubs. I have a picture of me merrily dumping a tub of newspaper into their shower. Then the guys would gather it all up and get us back. This went back and forth a few times, ending the night we hung our underwear up around our living room, hoping to repel the attack we knew was coming. Instead, they dumped the newspaper and stole our underwear.

That's when the attack got personal. And a little more creative. We filled their apartment with granny panties from Wal-Mart and ugly decorations we found at the thrift store. They turned all our furniture upside down. We saran-wrapped their cars and wrote all over them with lipstick and pudding. They emptied our cabinets and smeared pudding all over our table and counters.

But my favorite prank was the last one. We snuck over to their apartment late at night (or early in the morning, depending on how you look at it) and taped several giant plastic bags over the entire length of their door. Then we filled the space between the door and the bags with as much trash and newspaper as we could fit. When they opened their door to go to class in the morning, they were greeted with a deluge of garbage.

I wish I could have seen their faces when it happened.

They didn't like us very much after that.

Have you ever pulled any awesome (or mean) pranks? Please share!

But don't try to pull them on me,
The Brown-Eyed Girl