The Hunt for Potato Soup

I’d like to say, first and foremost, that this pregnancy has not been all that bad. I mean, I’ve never been pregnant before, so it’s definitely been my worst – but it’s also been my best. I say this because I’ve realized lately that I mostly use my blog to vent or complain, while all the “good” days are the days I forget to turn on my computer. So, for the record, most days, I’m doing pretty well.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about cravings again. My cravings haven’t been that weird or that frequent – no pickles-and-ice-cream stories here – but when they come, they come fast and furious.

A few weeks ago, lying in bed, I cuddled up to Ethan and whispered in his ear, “I love you. I’m stickin’ around.” And then immediately added, “I want a taco.”

I didn’t get my taco, sadly. It was too late for decent taco places, and Ethan won’t let me eat Taco Bell until I’m safely past the might-thr0w-that-up stage. (Read: until I’ve already had the baby.)

Yesterday, I wanted potato soup. All day long, I tried to psyche myself out to make soup, but I just didn’t have the energy. When Ethan came home, he made a deal with me: if I helped him do the dishes, we’d go out to eat, and find someplace with soup. I rejoiced! And washed dishes. While washing, I thought of all the places that might serve potato soup. Applebee’s, Chili’s, Denny’s, maybe even Wendy’s. I came up with about a dozen places, which is rare for my current state of mind.

By the time the dishes were over, however, I was hungry and my brain had shut off. “Where do you want to go?”

I racked my brain. “Soup. I want soup.”

“Right. Where do you want to get it?”

I was confused. Why was he making me think of all those places again? “One of the places I already thought of.”

“So, which one?”

After a very difficult two minutes, I decided Applebee’s was the first in alphabetical order, so we should go there. “Applebee’s.”

Ethan looked hesitant. “Somewhere besides Applebee’s.”

What do you want from me?! “Okay, Chili’s.” The twin brother of Applebee’s.

“Do you know where a Chili’s is?”

I did when I had my brain on. “No.”

“Okay, neither do I. Think of a place you  know.”

I tried not to cry. Why was he making me think? I eventually remembered Denny’s existed, and we started in that direction. While in the car, Ethan asked, “Do you know if there are any fast-food places that have soup? I don’t want to spend twenty dollars just to eat soup.”

In my mind-fog, I  tried to remember what the words “fast food” meant, and what kind of places served it. Eventually, Ethan remembered that Noodles and Co. had soup on their menu, and it was only a dollar for a cup. We’d been to Noodles in Orem before, and they gave us the cheesiest macaroni and the most delicious soup we’d ever tasted, so this seemed like a splendid idea. As we walked in, I saw the menu, which had three kinds of soup: tomato, chicken noodle, and something Thai-inspired that sounded risky for a pregnant lady. Nothing potato. Nothing creamy. I looked at Ethan, trying to figure out how to explain. “I want… white soup,” was what came out.

Ethan sighed, and said, “Will this do?”

I thought, and slowly shook my head. We headed back to the car. “So where do you want to go?” Ethan asked. I fought back tears.

“Somewhere with potato soup!”

Neither of us could think of a place that regularly sold potato soup. Eventually, I gave up. “Let’s go back to Noodles and just eat something,” I said, sniffling a little bit.

Ethan looked concerned. “Are you going to cry over soup?”

“I hope not.”

We went and ordered some soup, a bowl of macaroni and cheese, and a salad. After a few minutes, a server brought Ethan his macaroni, which was topped with a small sprinkling of cheese, and tasted like somebody had put hot water on it instead of cheese sauce. We reminded the server that I had also ordered food, and she apologized, disappeared for a few minutes, and then returned bringing a side salad and the smallest cup of soup I’ve ever seen.

“How’s your soup?” Ethan asked.

“It’s okay,” I said, still pining for potatoes but grateful he was willing to put up with me. “How’s your macaroni?”

Ethan poked at the bowl. “Pretty disappointing,” he said. “And I paid a dollar extra for red peppers, and it looks like they only added a few slices.”

The salad was a decent size, but after a few bites, my stomach warned me that throwing up iceberg lettuce was a bitter experience, and I had to give up on it. We sat there, staring at out mediocre meal, out spirits dampened. Ethan wanted to say something to management, but it was busy enough in there that he didn’t see a way he was going to speak to anyone. “Are you still hungry?”


He looked stumped. “I don’t know how to help anymore,” he said. I told him not to worry about it. I had enough food in me to get over the potato soup for now. We walked out to the parking lot and decided to drown our sorrows in hot chocolate instead. So we stopped at CVS long enough to watch a college kid buying baobab fruit (which exists, apparently), and decided Macey’s would have a better selection of cocoa. Two and a half pounds of hot chocolate powder later, we sat on the couch and sipped hot goodness, feeling a little better about the evening.

I still want potato soup, but I don’t think I’m going to cry about it. ♦


Free: Anything on the Yard

Our upstairs neighbors are having a yard sale – or so it would appear, at least. In Provo (as in some other towns, I’m sure), it is common to leave unwanted items on the yard or by the curb to signal that they are free to the public. And while it’s polite to knock and double-check if there isn’t a sign, a sofa left out by the garbage can is usually considered free game.

But the upstairs neighbors are having the floors re-done, so they’ve got a veritable cornucopia of fine furniture out on the lawn, and it’s been there for the past two days. They remembered to turn the sprinkler off, so their sofas weren’t soaked in the wee hours of the morning. This is good.

But they didn’t put a sign out to signal that their stuff was off-limits. And while I can understand their assumption that nobody is going to just take your stuff off the front lawn, it really does look like a yard sale out there. And if there isn’t a price tag on anything, a lot of people will assume it’s free. Several people this afternoon, for instance. One of them drove up and double-checked with my husband, just to make sure he didn’t load up anything that wasn’t up for grabs. The upstairs neighbor yelled through a window, “We’re having the floors done!” … Which still didn’t really answer the question of whether the stuff was free, but they apparently figured it out between them.

About half an hour after that, a middle-aged woman came by and started taking pictures of the furniture. She obviously doesn’t live on this street, because this street is college housing. We were a little torn: tell her it’s not for sale, or wait and see if our neighbors learn the Provo norm the hard way? After a few minutes, she left empty-handed, so we didn’t have to decide. It’s not like we’re hoping they get their stuff stolen. We just don’t want to have to baby-sit their stuff, and they really need to put out a sign. ♦

Does Nobody Carry Keys?

Ethan got up at 5 this morning, preparing for the first day of school. He’s had teacher meetings the past two days, and today is when school officially starts. This is the first day of student teaching that actually involves students.

When he left, I was still in bed, but for some reason, I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I got up a little before 6 (My mother will never believe this), showered, got dressed, ate some cereal, and went grocery shopping. (Note: when I say “groceries,” what I really mean is “Pop-Tarts. Four dozen Pop-Tarts.”) I got a free gallon of milk, because the Pop-Tarts were in the weekly ad, and it was raining and cool and delightful outside. Happy day.

Around 8 o’clock, one of the upstairs neighbors knocked on the front door so lightly I almost dismissed it. He apologized profusely for how early it was, and politely asked if I had a key to the laundry room. Somehow, he got locked out. I apologized, but suggested he contact the manager a few doors down. He thanked me again and walked off through the rain to talk to management.

About four hours later, a guy I didn’t recognize came wandering down to the front door, which I already had open to get some of fresh-rain scent wafting through the house. He was rather irritated, asked if I had a key (I didn’t), and then started muttering, “Who’s locking doors?!” Because this is a college town between-semesters, I can’t assume that he’s a stranger just because I haven’t seen him before – but I was tempted to ask if he had been free-loading, and that’s why he didn’t have a key.

When I was little, we lived in a neighborhood where you locked your doors, or your stuff was free game. (If we wanted to get rid of stuff, we’d just put it on the lawn with a “for sale” sign on it. It vanished in 20 minutes.) So when I moved to Provo, I was confused when people started getting mad at me for locking doors when I left. Or when I went to bed. I occasionally got a phone call at 2 or 3 in the morning from a roommate who was locked out. I just kept thinking, “If you’re going to be out until tomorrow, why would you not bring your keys?” Eventually, I stopped bothering – but I still tucked my laptop away somewhere hidden before I left the apartment. If we were going to get robbed, I didn’t want to be an obvious culprit.

I guess I’m grateful to live somewhere this safe. But I still don’t understand how you can be mad at someone for locking their own apartment door. You have a key, man. This isn’t a crime. ♦

A Few of the Strange People I Met on Wednesday

I got a job a few weeks ago, working at a day center with Autistic adults. We pick up our clients at their homes, drive them to the day center, and often take them on “field trips” to the community: bowling, trampoline jumping, and such. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be a challenging job, working with people with special needs. Since my only sibling has Downs and Autism, I kind of feel like I’m just being paid to go bowling with friends. Life is good.


So on Wednesday, we went to Wheeler Farm in Salt Lake. It’s basically a working farm exhibit for small children. Imagine the greatest two-year-old birthday party you’ve ever seen. Ducks. Chickens. Sheep. Horses. Geese that look and sound like they belong in Jurassic Park. (I spent a lot of the time carefully staying between the geese and my clients, just in case. The geese didn’t seem to be aggressive, though.)

And also, there’s a working blacksmith. As in, some guy named Mike with a ponytail and a short biker beard is just chilling there, waiting for groups of toddlers to come watch him get some iron red-hot and make a chain with it.

Mike: “What kind of things can you make with metal?

Kids: “Um, bikes! And nails!”

Mike: “Right! So let me get this hot, and when it gets hot, it’ll get soft, and then I can bend it!” (Bang, bang.) “Now, what does this look like?”

Kids: “A hook!”

Mike: “Yeah! Like, a fishing hook? Or maybe Captain Hook’s hook? Or maybe a metal candy cane? Or a runner on a sled?”

Mike was like a kindergarten teacher, I tell you. The man would be the greatest grandpa in the world. We watched Mike freak out some kids by letting them touch the cooled metal, and he looked like he was just happy to be a celebrity to a one-year-old.

Then Mike looked over at my client, who is nonverbal (doesn’t talk). The client was signing, joking about killing Mike, cutting him up, and cooking him with salt. He would be delicious, he signed. I told him that was gross, and the appropriate response was to say “thank you.” As I encouraged my client to thank the kindly kindergarten blacksmith, Mike looked over, saw my client signing, and signed, “no” at him, telling him he couldn’t eat people. Then he started signing to him, asking if he was going to kill the farm chickens and eat them with salt as well. My client was tickled pink. I was stunned. This blacksmith was bending every stereotype I had in my mind. A signing children’s blacksmith. I wanted to ask if he did birthday parties, but then I thought it would be weird if I asked a complete stranger to come and… smith… for my unborn children’s life events.


I was even more stunned when, in the afternoon, Ethan and I saw three horses, saddled and packed and dusty, just chilling outside the bar on Center Street in Provo. There was a cowboy outside, tending his horses in the marigolds.

And then we drove to Salt Lake, where three Mormon missionaries (including my brother-in-law) were putting on a rock concert to raise awareness that Mormons have talent and good taste in music. An outreach to the awesome young crowd, I believe. And they were actually pretty awesome.

What a weird, weird, weird Wednesday. ♥


The Sign of the Four


Last time I read a Sherlock Holmes book, I wrote a rather stunning review of it. Or at least, a reasonably adequate review of it. Okay, I actually said nothing about it, harped a bit about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s historically inaccurate take on the Mormons, and gave him two stars.

So this time, I’ve decided to make absolutely sure to actually include some things you might find while reading this book. If you head to your local library and check out a copy of The Sign of the Four, you are bound to find the following, crucial elements of a good detective novel:

  • A very fast steamship
  • A hole in the ceiling
  • Poison darts
  • Cliche stereotypes of native Indians and Black Pygmies
  • Substance abuse
  • A romantic relationship that progresses more quickly than the dating-to-marriage dynamic in a singles’ ward in the heart of Mormon Provo
  • A dog named Toby
  • Treasure
  • A mild-mannered governess, and some near-fainting spells
  • Whisky and soda
  • A man with a wooden leg (and his accomplice, named Smith)

Well, if I haven’t convinced you yet, I never will. Is this high literature? Did this novel change my life? Has it changed my perspective on world issues at large?


…but it’s fun! ♦


Life as a Single Duck

It’s spring, and all the ducks are in pairs now. Ethan and I went walking past the duck pond, which was empty. By the sides of the pond, little ducky couples just sat, sleeping. Probably waiting for the hen ducks to lay eggs, or for said eggs to hatch. In the park, there were little spots on the grass where mallards and hens were sleeping, side by side, couple by couple. I’ve heard ducks mate for life. At any rate, they’re adorable. And I don’t mean “cute and fluffy” adorable – but adorable in the same way that old couples holding hands are adorable.


Then Ethan and I noticed something. There were a few mallards just kind of sitting on their own. Or wandering around the park aimlessly. Or floating lazily in the pond. No hens. Just mallards. We realized that there was an uneven number of ducks – about a dozen too many mallards – which means one of two things has to happen: either a couple of these hen ducks go Jersey Shore and forget the whole monogamy thing, or these poor mallards just get used to being lonely this season.

Maybe I’ve spent too much time in single-and-trying-to-get-married wards in a college town, but I instantly felt a little sorry for these ducks. Biologically speaking, the whole point of surviving to adulthood is to propagate the species. And here these guys are, frustrated because there are literally not enough girls to go around. I mean, I’ve heard that excuse from humans before, but now there’s These ducks may not even know there are other ponds.

We started narrating what we felt the lone mallards were saying to one another. Things like, “Dangit, Rosalee, that guy’s nowhere near as good-looking as I am. You don’t know what you’re missing.”

Or the really creepy, jealous mallard: “Yeah, yeah. No mate this year, whatever. But next year, I’ll be dating Rosalee’s duckling.” Cradle-robber.

Or simply guy talk between single mallards. “Hey, Doug. You watch the game yesterday?”
“Yeah. I got a pretty good seat up at the bleachers. Some kid gave me a hot dog bun.”
“Meh. It’s better on TV. Lucky score with the hot dog bun, though.”
“Yeah. You wanna go do something?”
“Nah. I just figured I’d float in circles a bit.”

Or, you know, maybe I’m just thinking a little too hard about this. Maybe ducks don’t sympathize with the human college experience as much as I think. But they are Botany Pond ducks. I mean, they live on campus. The pond is practically a ducky dorm. And they might not follow the BYU Honor Code (these ducks were stark naked, I tell you!), but they looked pretty bookish to me. I’ll bet they know more than they let on. ♦


Angels, Vikings, Flags, and Stuff

Today we ate lunch with my mom and brother at the train station. As we walked home around 2pm, we passed by the site of the new Provo Temple, still under construction, and suddenly Ethan remembered they were putting the Angel Moroni on top at 2:30. The “Angel Moroni” statue tops many LDS temples, a symbol of an ancient prophet blowing a fanfare, announcing the gospel to the nations. We sat on the steps of the courthouse building across the street, where over a hundred others huddled and talked. As we watched the crane and construction workers maneuver the statue into place, the crowd started singing “The Spirit of God” and other hymns. I had a sore throat – so I only hummed along – but the whole experience gave me chills. It was beautiful, and when the statue rested safely on top, facing east, a few kindergarten-age kids started clapping and cheering, and everybody joined in. I’m glad we stopped.

I’m also glad we stopped on the way home to see a shop I’ve explored before. I keep trying to get Ethan into this store, and for some reason, we just never make the time. Well, today was that day!

The store is called “Flags and Stuff.” And that’s what they sell. As you go into the store, you walk slap-bang into a display of brass sculpted Viking warriors. And then you navigate your way around a display of dream-catchers and a shelf of Duck Dynasty paraphernalia and find that the entire right-hand section of the store is devoted to international flags.

Like, seriously. Just flags. Name a country. They’ve got it. Cambodia: check. Ghana: check. Chile: check. Pirate: several. And in just about every size out there. Ethan went into Spanish-teacher mode and started rationalizing that, as a future Spanish teacher, all of these things would be useful in his classroom…therefore, he should be able to buy all of them, right? I played “budget good guy” for a while, reminding him that we couldn’t afford all of the flags…

And then I reached the left side of the store. Remember how the right side is all flags?

America. The left side is all America. And not just ‘Murica-style bumper stickers. I mean real, old-fashioned, classy America. As in, I can pick up a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence to put on my wall for 8 bucks. The part of me that wants to be a history teacher went a little crazy. I think the lady who owns the store thought we were funny. We were geeking out all over the place.

Now let’s talk about the owner. Her name is Roseanne. She introduced herself, helped us find stuff, told us all about the shop, told us she’d love to have us help out except she can’t afford to hire anyone right now, and told us about her husband Stan. Stan recently fell down a ladder, broke an ankle and hurt his back, and without insurance (ACA complications), they’re putting things on massive sale to get inventory moving and raise the money to pay for the hospital bills.

Which means two things:
1. Everything in this store is ridiculously cheap. Which makes me want to buy everything in it.
2. Stan and Roseanne are great people, and their store needs more publicity. Which makes me want to drag everyone in there and just freak out all over again.

As we checked out, Roseanne gave us 50% off a book (that was already on sale), just because she couldn’t see charging the full $4 for a book on Chinese history. Then she gave us her business card. And a few postcards with the picture of the Provo Temple we saw earlier in the day. And a free 2014 calendar. We spent $15 total and walked out with two baseball caps, a history book, and a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. (Two dollars, people. Pocket constitution. Two dollars. And if you buy over 50, they’re only a buck apiece. I was so tempted to buy more than 50.)

Pirate flags. Bronze Vikings. Old-timey American souvenirs. Foreign keychains. Greatness. If you’re in Provo, go now. It’s on University Avenue. ♦