Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Adventures in Flying

Well, okay. The last four days of my life have been, to say the least, kind of awful mixed in with some good. But mainly I've been perceiving them as awful because I almost thought I wouldn't be able to get home to Oregon for Christmas (just to ruin the end of the story, I did make it). I will, in a later post, report on my actual Christmas happenings, both in Utah with my roomies and in Oregon with my family, but right now, I'm focusing on the excruciating travel chronicles.

Considering practically everyone in the country has been hit by this so-called "arctic blast", it's common knowledge that anything having to do with getting people from one place to another has been totally messed up. Thank you, Mother Nature. Portland, as much as I love it, has one major downfall. It completely shuts down with snow. But usually any snow in Portland is about a quarter of an inch, and everything is resolved within a couple of days. To have more than one inch of snow is rare, and to have fifteen inches accumulate on my parents' back porch is completely unheard of. The Portland airport is NOT equipped for this kind of thing. At all. So my first flight out of Salt Lake on Saturday morning was cancelled. That's right. Cancelled. After they let us board the plane! What's a girl to do? (i am attempting to make myself seem the victim here, even though i didn't have it nearly as bad as many more people out there have had)

After the disappointment of cancellation and the hassle of getting my bag back, I went to my sister's house, knowing that the weather would be worse in Portland on Sunday, therefore re-booking myself on a flight out for Monday. So I at least had a day that I could kind of relax (well, as much as you can with the crazy Henne brood, -wink-), but this was the first time anything of this sort had ever happened to me, so I was suddenly thinking that all was lost.

I headed to the airport on Monday, hoping to have better luck. No such luck. We were all set to be the second plane to go into Portland in three days, and yet again, I boarded the plane, but they kicked us off within seconds. And this time, when I called the reservations line, there were no tickets available until AFTER Christmas. No, thanks. But I could always try standby. -sigh- How does that work again?

Well, I went back down to Provo, surprising my roommates by reappearing. And they did a great job of trying to find options for me and keep my spirits up and telling me not to give up. I had my first (and surprisingly, only) break-down into tears pretty soon after Esther came home, but I made myself stop. (which never happens, by the way. i usually like to drown myself in my sorrows . . . the drama queen in me, i'm afraid)

Tuesday came around and I went back to the airport. For standby. Waited ALL FREAKING DAY. There's really only so long you can read a book, even for me. I became increasingly discouraged as the other standby passengers were called and I was continually left behind. I was ready to give up. I didn't want to come back a fourth day. -sigh-

Again, I'm very lucky in that I know people who are around, I have a car to get me places, so I wasn't stranded in a bus terminal or anything, but I still hated this feeling that I might as well just spend another Christmas in Utah. GRRRR I headed over to my uncle Floyd's house in Salt Lake, where they very graciously put me up for the night after commiserating with me. Then Floyd drove with me to the airport at five this morning so that I wouldn't have to park there yet again. How nice.

When I arrived at the ticket counter to ask to be on standby, the woman at the counter recognized me from yesterday and immediately exclaimed, "Oh, you're still here? You poor thing!" I felt like a poor thing, especially at 5:15 am after four successive nights of about five hours of sleep, and still no closer to getting home. So I was put back on the list, priority listing number 1 (count it, baby! ONE!), made my way through security, where I guess they figured that after having gone through it FOUR TIMES in the last four days, they should be kind of wary of what I might be up to, so naturally I was selected for extra screening.

I sat at the gate for the 8:30 flight for quite some time (yeah, considering i got there three hours early), all the while wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' that I would, in fact, make it on the morning of Christmas Eve. And at 8:20, a Christmas miracle. My name was called over the intercom! When I was a little girl, I hated my first name. I thought it was totally trite (because i used such words when i was four years old). But never again will I think the name "Megan Jensen" to have a disgusting sound, because it was the most beautiful thing I'd heard in four days.

We touched down in Portland two hours later, amid snow and ice, and had to wait nearly a half hour to actually get off the plane because the other plane in our gate had to be de-iced before it could head out. But I finally met up with Dad, who braved the roller coaster-esque conditions of the freeway to come get me. The road conditions here are nothing like I've ever seen before. There are icebergs on the freeways that rattle your insides into jelly! I was amazed. I hope that the forecast about the temperature possibly going up in a couple of days is true, because . . . there ain't much more these Oregonians can take of this unprecedented snow. (and no, oregonians aren't wimps . . . snow becomes ice here on the roads . . . you try having fun driving on that)

So, anyway, I'm here, and the world is rejoicing. Both Becky and Esther cheered for me when I answered my phone five minutes after touchdown. Becky, at first, was disappointed that I'd answered my phone, because naturally that meant I wasn't on a flight, but I oh-so-subtly stated that I'd had my phone off the previous two hours. And the villagers rejoiced. And Megan rejoiced. Because I'm here. Phew!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Here We Come A-Wassailing (Waddling, Waffling, etc.)

I'm not sure that I've ever gotten so much into the Christmas spirit away from home so much before this year. This entire week has been one Christmas-y event after another, and it's been great! I am totally loving it. And today has just been the icing on the cake: snow. Today is the first real snow of winter (which i have to keep reminding myself is a good thing . . . not so hard to believe when i'm walking around or inside, but harder to do so when i'm driving in it).

Chuck, the camel, and us touching THE hand that touched Chuck.
(Becky was very excited to have petted him)

Last Saturday, Becky, Esther, and I headed over to the Provo Tabernacle to watch a Living Nativity production put on by a local stake. It was very sweet, very nice to be reminded of why we celebrate this time of year. But I think Becky and Esther were most excited about the animals afterward. Becky was pretty entertaining with how excited she was to pet Chuck, the camel, and Esther decided she would like to steal one of the little goats we were admiring. We probably have room in our backyard to accommodate a single goat, but he'd get pretty lonely, and there's no shelter back there, which would be not-so-warm for the little guy with the change in seasons. So we have a disappointed Esther on our hands instead.

Me and the goat. Cute little guy.

Ward FHE on Monday night was pretty fun. We talked about Christmas traditions for a little bit, and then got to have a shouting match as we played Christmas-themed charades, but had to race between two groups to see who could get it the fastest. Our group's strategy toward the end was just to shout a word and then start cheering at the top of our lungs, but I think the judges saw through that. Oh, well.

I've done a lot of wrapping and baking this week, as well. I finally started receiving gifts that I'm giving to others, and so I've gotten to wrap them and make them pretty. I also decided that it was about time I attempted making sugar cookies without my mother. I think they actually turned out pretty well, and Becky helped me decorate them before I gave them away. Funny anecdote with that: Becky was "taste testing" the cookies, and she said, "Your mother is a genius." Not that I was about to disagree with her, but I was curious why, and she said, "This is a fantastic sugar cookie recipe!" Now it would be nice to let my mother take credit for such a compliment, but alas, that innocent creature, honesty, loomed its pleasing head. "It's Betty Crocker." So, thank you, Betty Crocker, for you are a genius.

Last night, I got a group of people together to go caroling around the neighborhood. It was a smaller group than I originally anticipated, but I was really happy with the result, anyway. We ended up with five people, but we had at least one of each part, and our harmonies worked out really well most of the time. We went to houses that actually have families and older couples in them, so no students/young singles, like in our ward. Totally worth it. There were some really great people we met, and one of the ladies we sang to said we were the best carolers she'd ever heard. (Nice!) The woman at the last house we went to was so thrilled to have carolers and made the comment that no one ever goes caroling anymore. I could see that she was very touched when we sang "Away in a Manger" for her, and that made the whole evening worth it for me. That was why I wanted to go caroling, to make other people feel cheered and joyful and all that Christmas spirit-type stuff.

My caroling group: Lindsey, Liz, Dallin, Mike
Great antlers, Liz.

So, I encourage you all who read this to find people to go caroling with. It's true. People don't really carol anymore. SAD!!! It doesn't take much (and really, the secret is to go to an older person's house, because they'll think you're great no matter how bad you sound!), and it's a great way to spread and feel the joy of the season. (I am such a sap.)


"Songs about jingling bells, holiday ballets, universal joy, and Christmas snacks!" -Herb, Claymation Christmas

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Musings of a Sick Person

And who is the sick person? Who else would it be? It's me. Nothing too horrible, but bad enough that I came home sick from work yesterday about halfway through the day. And stayed home again today (after getting up, getting ready, and getting over to sylvia's place . . . she didn't have to try too hard to convince me to head home). So I have this whole set-up next to my bed of advil, vitamin c, water, and a box of Kleenex I stole from the bathroom this morning. When I came back home today ten minutes after I initially left, both my roommates made comments about how nice it was that I could stay at home. Yeah, sure it's nice to not have to work, but how nice is it to be stuck at home in your bed all day with a runny nose and a headache? So I got to thinking about how much I loved sick days when I was a kid (and y'all know you loved them, too) and didn't have to go to school. Two reasons why I loved them:

1) Mom waited on me hand and foot.
2) I got to watch TV . . . during the day. Kind of a big deal at my house.

Now I have no one to wait on me hand and foot while I'm home sick, but I do have the option of watching TV (well, movies, at least). But because of my headache, looking too long at the TV screen (or the computer screen for that matter) isn't working for me. So those reasons have completely gone out the window, and I have absolutely no reason for liking this sick day. Maybe things will brighten, though. I can always make some paper snowflakes.

So what else did I love as a kid?

1) Playing "Robin Hood" with the neighborhood kids (although i didn't love always being stuck playing Little John)
2) Helping Mom make brownies. That was always the best creation to lick out of the bowl.
3) Sleeping out on the trampoline.
4) Bringing out all the bedding and jumping into piles of it on the trampoline.
5) Okay, so maybe just the trampoline in general.
6) Meeting Emily at the crosswalk at 125th to play. (Not to play at that particular spot. It was just the halfway point between our houses that we always agreed to meet at.)
7) Dress-up. Especially when Tom dressed up with me. (Sorry you had to find out this way, Lisa. Your husband was, in fact, a cross-dresser.)
8) Avoiding cracks in the sidewalk.
9) "Hot meal" days at school (I got four each month) and chocolate milk. Chicken fried steak day was always the best.
10) Annoying Tom and Craig by continually watching Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden.
11) Reading books like Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden for the first time.
12) Being tall. I loved being the one who could reach things on the shelf when nobody else could, until I was about 11 years old. Then I became jaded. How sad.
13) Summer visits to Grand Junction, playing Nerf wars, and racing "boats" down the canal.
14) Writing stories. My first real "ambition" was to be an author.
15) My birthday. Macaroni and Cheese dinner.
16) How big a deal sleep-overs were.
17) Soccer. I thought it was the coolest sport ever.
18) Dresses. I loved dresses. (hated the tights that i had to wear with them, though)
19) Being absolutely certain that I would marry Tom Powers one day. (hahahahahahahaha)
20) Dad blow-drying my hair.
21) The first day of summer, even if it was cloudy and gray (which it generally was).
22) Sleeping in one bedroom with my brothers and sister on Christmas Eve. ("Sleeping", yeah. As if I really ever slept. I was always too excited for the next morning.)

The list could go on and on. And I'm not trying to live in past and say that there's nothing I love about my life now, because that is also a list that could go on and on. Just fun to reflect every once in a while on the simple pleasures of childhood. And that's what I'm pondering today while I sit in bed (achoo!) and laugh at myself, both past and present.


"It's never too late to have a happy childhood." -Anonymous

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . . You-Know-What!

Now we come to that special time when I become even more prone to tears than I am throughout the rest of the year (and you thought I couldn’t get any worse!). Seriously, no matter how cheesy or corny I know a TV special or song or story is, I cry at everything that has to do with Christmas. We share song playlists at work, so there’s plenty of Christmas music going around, and I seriously started crying in my cubicle listening to the Muppets sing “Silent Night” (although I immediately switched over to laughter after hearing their pronunciation when they sang a verse in German). How extremely hokey. (And only slightly embarrassing.) I just do that.

I think this is after Sparky licked my eye.

Thanksgiving was most excellent. Esther and I headed to her parents’ house on Wednesday evening, where we had a brief respite before going to Twilight with her mom and sister Rachel. Neither of us had an intense desire to go to that particular movie, but Esther half expected it of her mother to want to go, so go we did. And yes, there were parts in the movie where I seriously wanted to pull a “Statler and Waldorf” moment, but there weren’t as many as I initially expected! I was amazed. In fact, I would almost say I liked it. But I’m not sure I’d go that far. I’ll have to ponder it some more, if it’s worth pondering.

Got some attitude here. (because we haven't eaten yet)

Thanksgiving Day was very good, what with all that yummy food around. Esther and I spent a little bit of the morning being silly and taking pictures of ourselves in hats and playing with Sparky. We were asked to provide some musical entertainment that night while everyone was digesting, so I played a Rachmaninoff piece, Esther played a movement of a viola concerto, then we made up a medley of a couple of hymns that seemed to go well with the spirit of the holiday. Surprising was the fact that it actually worked out semi-well, considering we hadn’t practiced anything together for a couple weeks, and I still had no clue what chords I was playing during “Simple Gifts”. Tender mercies, I suppose. We ended the night by preparing ourselves for the next big holiday of our lives by watching Muppet Christmas Carol. Yay! (And let’s all count how many times Megan has referenced the Muppets already in this post.)

Shock of all shocks, we actually did go shopping on Black Friday, which I have never done before. But it was something to do that day. So I and the Morris sisters went to a mall in Salt Lake in the afternoon (very crowded, but probably nothing compared to the morning). It wasn’t a horrible experience, but I’m not sure I’d want to do it again. I’m just counting my blessings that all my Christmas shopping, barring any unforeseen circumstance, is done. (And no, I’m not telling you what I got you.)

This is what we say to shopping on Black Friday.

We helped set up the Christmas tree in the Morris living room, which was entertaining simply because they were so overjoyed when they realized they wouldn’t have to get out a stepladder to put on the top branches . . . because I, the “painted maypole” (ha! identify that reference!), was there. They felt the need to ask Esther’s dad, when he came home, if he could see a ladder. His response? “No, but I see Megan.” So I have a purpose in life, everyone! Finally, being tall has paid off!

Just to show you how much taller I am than the entire Morris family.

We came home that night and set up our own tree in our living room (well, “our own”, meaning the shorter Morris one that they weren’t going to use). I honestly don’t know what I was more excited about, having a Christmas tree to decorate or having a new TV that we don’t have to bang on every ten minutes to keep the picture clear (oh yeah, one of our many Wal-Mart trips during the weekend . . . Esther bought a TV—it’s awesome). The last couple of days we’ve added a few more decorations and lights, and I’m pretty thrilled that it’s come to this time of year. And I’m loving decorating the house. I cannot wait to make sugar cookies! (yep, I’m a nerd) I am ecstatic that I have Christmas music to play and friends and family to see, and people to serve. Hooray!

A work in progress


“Well, I suppose that on the blessed day of Christmas, one should drink to the health of Mr. Scrooge, even though he is odious, stingy, wicked, unfeeling, and badly dressed!” –Emily Cratchit, aka Miss Piggy