Monday, March 30

Thoughts, Rings, and Goats

     On Friday (as some of you know), Ian and I took a trip to Ephraim to attend the Utah Academy of Arts and Sciences conference so we could present some of the stuff we've been working on. But more importantly, we drove a bit further south to have dinner with my dad so we could spend some time with him, and also... so Ian could ask him for permission to marry me. 0.o

     When we got there, my dad needed to go feed a friend's goats, so I went with him and his wife Kathleen and her daughter Hunter. It's baby goat season crazy - there were 4 that had been born within the last two hours when we got there! There are always firsts. First time seeing a newborn goat, first time carrying a newborn goat by it's legs to a pen, and first time seeing a goat eat its own placenta.

     I guess that's what they do. Cool.

     On the way back, I mentioned to him that Ian was hoping to ask (mostly because I wasn't sure how we'd bring it up anyways). He thought about it for a moment, and then asked me what he should say. He wanted to know "Why do you like him?" My response was quick - I mean, considering the decision to marry him myself, I've given that a lot of thought.

     "I like who I am around him. I like who he helps me to be. I am more comfortable around him than anyone else. I trust him."

     My dad nodded and said that was a good response. He decided to say yes.

     "But," he said giving me a significant look, "I'm going to point outside to Daisy" (his cow) "and say: 'Ian, what do you think I'd do to someone who was messin with my cow?' and Ian will say: 'you'd hurt him?' and I'll say 'yes. And I love my Beth infinitely more than that cow.'"

     We all laughed at that... but I could tell he was serious. Luckily, he didn't end up sharing that warning with Ian. Perhaps he trusts him more than I thought.

     As the evening drew to a close, and we needed to get going, my dad brought it up and Ian officially "asked" him if we could get married. He gave his consent. Ian asked him if he had any advice for him. They talked for a bit.

     It was sweet. :)

     Later we drove through the windy dark highways of southern Utah, trying not to think about deer jumping out in front of our car. We were listening to The Smiths, complaining occasionally about people who wouldn't turn off their brights.

     "So... are we engaged?" I asked thoughtfully. After a moment, Ian smiled and said "yes."

And that's that. :)

     No, we're not going to get an engagement ring.
     No, I'm not expecting him to put something together to propose to me.
     Yes, we'll have a luncheon after we get sealed.  
     Yes, we'll go to Cuba for a month and have a wonderful time.
     Yes, when we get back we'll have a reception.

     Is it wrong for us to put a few things aside?

     The ring is the hard thing. When I tell people I'm engaged, they ask to see it or to hear how he proposed and, though they are genuinely excited for me to be engaged, I can see their excitement deflate a little when I explain that we aren't doing a ring or that he didn't actually propose to me...

     Rest assured, I feel perfectly happy with things how they are. I don't feel like he's under-valuing me. I love that he trusts me enough to discuss things with me and that we can - together - decide to forgo the ring.

     I just want everyone to know that he loves me - and I guess it's hard to show that to others when I don't have hard proof. . . I never realized how difficult that would be, or how much society relies on a ring or an elaborate proposal story to determine something like that.

     But please believe me! He does. :)

I'm engaged!!

Thursday, March 26

Prompt 3: Parental Advice

Tell us about one piece of advice your parents gave you that still sticks with you today.
When I think of advice my parents have given me, I categorize them differently. 

My dad's "advice" per say was pretty far and in-between when I was younger - as far as I remember. My parents divorced when I was 12 or so, and I feel like the time when I would have been receiving the most advice passed without frequent interaction with him. But the advice he has given me stands clearly in my mind.

Before I served as a missionary, he explicitly told me that I needed to accept that others had the right to choose, and that some people just wouldn't want to accept the Gospel - not because they didn't believe it, but because they just legitimately wouldn't want to live according to it.

This is a good example of "fatherly advice" to me. My dad is a scholar of the scriptures. When he wakes up at 4 am with arthritic pains in his back, he generally turns to studying them. He is always eager to share his insights and his ideas. His main motivation, I think, if to make sure I don't misunderstand God's plan and that I don't fall into standard, possibly incorrect patterns of thinking that are prevalent and cultural. So, generally, advice from my dad comes in the form of spiritual clarification and thoughts.

My mom's advice stems, I think, from her desire to prevent me from repeating bad experiences she's had. She also gives me advice she's not intending to. By staying faithful to her covenants, she's given me the best advice I've ever received - that the Gospel works. :) Her advice literally influences me every single day.

For example:

  • Cover boiling pots so they will heat up faster.
  • Love Christmas.
  • Have bird feeders.
  • Admit when you've done wrong.
  • Don't leave the oven or your curling iron on in an empty house. 
  • Eat cookie dough.
  • Tell people they are beautiful. 
  • Pray for answers - and then don't doubt the answers you've received.
  • Scotland is amazing.
  • You can always find the strength to keep going.
  • Garden garden garden. 
  • Big, lovely trees are priceless.
  • Motherhood isn't something you can fail if you're trying your best. 
  • Take pride and joy in being organized and clean.
  • Don't punish those you love for their mistakes.

I get a little teary as I write these. I love my mum dearly. I know her imperfections as well as anyone, but . . .

Brigham Young said:

"Those who do right, and seek the glory of the Father in heaven, whether their knowledge be little or much, or whether they can do little or much, if they do the very best they know how, they are perfect. 'Be ye as perfect as ye can,' for that is all we can do, though it is written, 'Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.' To be as perfect as we possibly can, according to our knowledge, is to be just as perfect as our Father in heaven is. He cannot be any more perfect than He knows how, any more than we. When we are doing as well as we know how in the sphere and station which we occupy here, we are justified."

This always makes me think of my mum.
She is perfect to me.

So how about you? Any advice? :)

Tuesday, March 17

Prompt 2: Reading List

What’s on your reading list for 2015?

Actually, I'm trying to repair my reading habits this year. I don't know if anyone else has experienced this, but due to homework and work schedules, since I began college, my "free time" activities have slowly moved from reading to less useful or even enjoyable hobbies. (Think youtube/other internet stuff/etc.)

So . . . was sitting on Pinterest the other day when I realized how long it had been since I'd read a good book for fun, not school.

Too long!

Suddenly I started to realize that I have more free time than I think. . . it just gets spent doing random stuff. Things I used to love - that I found rewarding - have become a thing of the past. I get home, I spit out my homework, and then I spend my last minutes staring at my computer screen.

Cooking/baking is also on this list of things that I love and that I have let slide away from me. 

Sad. :(

So I am trying to recode my brain to use free time a little more wisely.

SO this is a fun post to think about, because I am legitimately trying to work on this. So here are a few books on my mind right now - hopefully more to come. (And I am definitely open to suggestions!)

Beth's reading list for 2015 (so far).

A few of my choices are on American Scholar's list of neglected classics. Most of them are foreign (hence they've been neglected). They Were Counted is what I am reading currently, so I'll mention what I'm thinking about it. It's a Hungarian novel about a man named Balint and his cousin László, both Transylvanian. I'm not too far, so I can't tell you much about it. But it focuses on pre-1914 Hungary, and the situation of the upper class. It reminds me a bit of Downton Abbey, mostly because there's underlying intrigue and corruption. Balint seems a good man with pure intentions, trying to deal with his position. 

Anyways, this novel is very descriptive (which I love). There is enough detail to transport you to each scene. Each character's perspective will draw you into their memories, their worries, and their desires. There are two more books following this one, and I am already planning to read them. :)

Grosland and I attended a seminar on financial stability the other day, and one of the speakers suggested we all read this book. It's definitely the first financial book I've felt comfortable reading. There's no pressure to take risks or overturn your life - it's really a book about coming to terms with your values and your financial health, and creating better habits. Really enjoyable so far. :) I recommend it if you're in the mood to improve your finances without feeling anxious.

A compilation of short stories. I've read one of them, and I loved it. So I figure it can't hurt to read the rest. 

A history of our eating habits, pretty much. I've had several professors recommend this one. It addresses issues related to processed and organic food, among other things.

Another neglected classic. Looks fun!

So that's five of them. I have a few more, but my list is pretty open right now.

Suggestions? Or have you found yourself disregarding hobbies that you love?

Wednesday, March 11

Prompt 1: Goals

What are your 2015 goals? Blogging, relationships, financial, fitness or any other goals you have.

I wish I understood how goals and habits really work. I feel like I can set a goal to establish a good habit a billion times over and then, suddenly, it will click. I'll start living up to it. I'll feel good/proud of myself for having the strength to change. 

And then it will stop. Something will turn off. It's like there is a dashboard in my brain and the little Beths inside randomly get bored of having a particular goal turned on, so one of them will flip it back off. And this "change" I hoped to see in myself - and had seen for many months - is gone. I go back to how I was before.

Have you ever experienced this? Sometimes I feel as though I don't really have power over myself at all. This is particularly true of exercise, and good study habits (school or scriptural).

Here are things I feel like I've permanently changed about myself by setting goals and keeping up with them:
  • Flossing regularly
. . . a little depressing. But interesting. How on earth did this get on that list? And where is everything else? Is there anything else? I can't think of anything . . . 

Here is a different list, things I've seen myself change for a month or more, but that haven't lasted beyond 4 months:
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a balanced/controlled diet
  • Avoiding "time-wasting" internet activities
  • Writing regularly in a journal
  • Doing all the reading for my classes
  • Spending less/budgeting
  • Visiting/writing loved ones
  • Spending time studying family history
  • Scriptures/prayer/etc (you know the drill)
  • Seeing old friends more often
  • Probably everything else.
  • Think before I speak, and never speak critically to or of others.
Really, I am currently working a lot of random things and - to some degree - everything above. I guess ultimately I have a goal to see myself clearly and to not feel negatively for all the habits I pick up and drop. Because, sad as it is that I stop doing good things, at least I did them (and reaped the benefits) for a little while . . .

How do you feel about goal setting? What habits have you been able to successfully establish in your life? 

Sunday, March 8

March Madness . . . Temple Style

Ian has finally decided what temple he wants to get married in. 

Meaning, he isn't going to choose. 

We are leaving it up to chance.

We are making a list of our potential temples (about 8-12).

We are making an NCAA tournament style bracket with all of the temples.

We will battle all of them with dice.

This will take place next Sunday for March Madness.

Thoughts? :) 

Thursday, March 5

31 Posts and Science

I just found a list of blogging prompts when I was perusing another blog. I've been wanting to write more lately, but my desire stops right about there - I can't think of anything to write. Sometimes I'll get an idea and start writing about it and then just stop because I get bored of it.

SO, as an exercise, I'm going to try and write about each of these topics. Not every day, but maybe once or twice a week. Just for fun. And to get my mind off of my work. :P

Speaking of which, here's where I'm at in my research currently:

When I say I babysit fungus, I completely mean it. There are about 8 varieties I am currently keeping alive. These guys "eat" the nutrients in the dish they are on, as they grow to fill it. Once they finish what they have, they tend to go dormant (sort of like hibernation), often by making little structures called sclerotia that just "live" without doing anything until more nutrients become available.

Sad thing is, sometimes it's really hard to wake them back up, even if you give them everything they need. So everytime they reach the edge of the dish, you cut out a little piece and put it in the center of another one.

They each have an identity. :)

The fungi we are watching serve a very specific purpose - they inhibit cheatgrass growth. Cheatgrass is a weed that can take over acres of wilderness because they have so many advantages over other plants. Scientists (like the ones I work for) are battling to find some way to overcome those advantages so we can keep utah looking like this:

Instead of this:
It's a little pretty... but this color lasts a short while before the grass puts out seeds, turns yellow, and dies... at which point it is a lovely start for a wildfire that kills everything else around it! Then next spring... the cheatgrass seeds are ready to go.

So most of what I do involves growing large quantities of fungi on cheatgrass seeds . . .
Yum. :)
Using science to "extract" the toxins that the fungi is using to kill the cheatgrass . . .

Yes, I blend it up with chemicals. Science.
And then testing those chemicals to figure out which ones are actually hurting the grass. We do that in a few ways, but right now we grow little seedlings of cheatgrass and then immerse their roots in the toxin:

And after.

These are what the toxins look like by the time we've purified them. My favorite fungus, which we call "Frosty" (its real name is Epicoccum nigrum but that's too much to worry about). Frosty produces vivid yellow stain that - seriously - dyes the glasswhere I use and all of my equipment (and the floor if I spill it) bright yellow! Cool little guy. :) Anyways.