Tuesday, September 30, 2008

She Almost Makes Me Want One

My sister Ashley and her hubby Justin must have some sort of superior genes, because how cute is this mug?
Abbey, Dad, Allison - 9.7.2008
After traveling all weekend, I flew in about one hour before my sister and her sweet girls got to town. It was land, cruise home for a shower, jet back to the airport and ride up and down escalators with Abbey.
The gals came to Salt Lake to stay with Noah and me and visit the finer points of the city this weekend. Some crazy-adorable photo opps ensued. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roanoke, Charlotte and Columbia - Oh My.

September meant a lot of travel for work around the Riley home. I spend a weekend in Roanoke, Virginia launching a program in elementary schools with Jared the Subway Guy and his giant pants; another week in North and South Carolina hanging out with Mike Rucker of Carolina Panthers fame; and Noah spent a few afternoons in Sandy at the What a Woman Wants Show.

I'll admit, it's not all bad to get paid to see a new place and shake up the work week a bit. But as we inch closer to flipping the calendar and bidding September adieu, we're looking forward to spending a few more weekends in the same zip code.

A few Virginia highlights:

• At one elementary in Roanoke, we took Jared backstage to prepare for the assembly. When we opened the door to the backstage area, there was – what we could only assume was an obese adult a few screws short of full mental capacity – sitting on a chair with a bag of potato chips and what I thought were little pieces of masking tape on his lips. He didn’t say anything when we opened the door, just turned and stared. For a moment, I panicked thinking we should tell the principal about his creepy individual sitting backstage. Then my fears quickly shifted. Maybe the school was hiding him back here?! (Think: Sloth from the Goonies). I nervously edged around the individual every time I had to go backstage and limited the amount of time I had spend back there with the school crazy. Turns out, he was a teacher who was taking part in the assembly. The obesity? A few couch pillows. And what I thought were pieces of tape were actually soda cracker crumbs. (The quality of this photo is no bueno. But hopefully this gives you the idea.)
• Visiting Virginia Tech’s beautiful campus.

• THIS guy who fashioned his own Subway ensemble of Subway cups, bags, straws and napkins.
(He is not wearing the hat in this one. But believe you me. There was a hat.)

• Enjoying the VT/Furman game from a sweet suite after a killer game of parking lot football with a bunch of 6-year olds. I was, undisputedly, our team’s weak link. I had nothin’ on those first graders.
• Getting off our plane in Atlanta (after sitting on the tarmac for an hour, bleh) with only five minutes until our next flight’s takeoff. Even though we figured it was in vain, Nate, Justin and I hauled booty from terminal A to terminal D – um, hello, tram not working? We missed the flight anyway, but I earned mad props from the guys for setting a land speed record in my heels.

And a few from the Carolinas:
• “Ma’am, we’ve upgraded you to a suite during your stay at no extra charge. Will that work for you?” Um, yes. That’s a bullet I’ll go ahead and take.

The living room.The work area.

The flat screen TV built into the mirror (and the stirring Rock Band news coverage I was watching.)

• Meeting one of the most down-to-earth professional football players on the planet. Utah doesn’t have a professional football team, so I figure I don’t have allegiances elsewhere. I may just be a Carolina Panthers fan.
• Going to church on Sunday with my cousin, Alicia, and her sweet family, and panicking when I thought her little Sophie ate the penny she was playing with. It was actually just clenched in her fist. One of the most impressive “where’s the coin?” tricks ever executed by a 20-month old.

• Dean & Deluca’s. We don’t have ‘em in Utah. Any faithful readers have some in their area? Five of my seven nights in SC/NC were spent in Charlotte, NC with a D&D right down the street. It’s possible I went there for four meals. Was the same girl working the bakery when I got a dessert with every single meal? Yes. Was I ashamed? Not hardly.

• Our last night, we stayed in Asheville and the Holiday Inn left a little to be desired after the suite in Charlotte and the Hilton in Columbia. Not the very least of which was the gosh-awful shampoo and conditioner. Our flight home was at 6:30 a.m., so leave at 5:30 a.m., wake up at 4:30 a.m. As I dried my hair, it was so greasy and matted down – I just couldn’t deal. I finally resorted to kneeling down by the tub and sticking my head under the faucet in a last-ditch attempt to rinse the stuff out. By the time I conceded the point and pulled my hair into a nappy ponytail, I hurried out to the car a few minutes late. I apologized to my CEO and account services director, with whom I was traveling, and whined to them about the sorry excuse for hair care products bestowed upon us by the HI. After our first flight, we waited for our connection in Cincinnati where I re-pulled up the matted mess on my head and complained once again about the conditioner. It was at that point Sam observed he didn’t have conditioner in his room.

"Yeah, Sam. The two bottles. One said 'CLEANSE' the other said 'SMOOTH.' Right?"
"Yes. That would be the lotion."


Friday, September 19, 2008

People Ought Not Pass Gas on Airplanes… and other undeniable truths.

In the grand tradition of the Noah and Allison Riley family birthdays (ahem, Noah in Minneapolis for work last September 20; me dragging Noah to an awards banquet for my clients on May 31) I am penning this entry from a hotel room in Charlotte, NC.

Being an adult is so totally overrated sometimes. All I know, when you were a kid and your birthday landed on a Friday or Saturday, it was like hitting pay dirt. Weekend birthdays were, in a word, cool beans. (One word. Coolbeans.)

Well, about 23 minutes ago, eastern standard time, I turned 24. And according to ancient lore another year older makes me another year wiser, too.

I don’t know about that.

But what I did learn on my flight to the Tar Heel State (ah, state report information will prove beneficial one day, all you 2nd graders who frequent this blog…) is that nothing drives home the fact you’re breathing recycled air more devastatingly than lacing it with a foul odor. That goes for you guys sitting in front of me with the malodorous curry pork rinds, too.

I don’t have a camera cord to upload photos, so I’ll spare you any facts about what I’m doing here until I have some visual documentation to verify my words. Until then… “what was she doing?! What was she doing?!” I know. You totally can’t even sleep now.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In the News - Installment II

Oh, how I've left you hanging. I hope this post was worth the wait. I assure you, the content is. The delivery? I hope it will suffice.
While TSG was reveling in the Amazing Race coverage, the breaking news story that evening focused on wildfires in Payson. Since I married a guy who hails from P-town, I was concerned and asked Noah to call his parents to get the status. He called and they let us know the fire was actually a few miles south in Spring Lake, a suburb of Payson. (I'm sensing a slight lift of the ol' eyebrow. Yeah way, Payson has suburbs.)

However, at about 11:30 that evening - we received a call from Noah's mom letting us know that the canyon breeze (or the white trash air conditioning, as my mother-in-law so affectionately refers to it) we'd enjoyed on so many evenings was now fueling the fire at a pretty rapid pace. Noah's parents' home is built up in their orchards, one of the very first along the mountain - so they were first in the fire's path. Christine let us know they'd been evacuated from their home. Noah's brothers and dad ran sprinkler lines along the eastern edge of the driveway and orchards and the Spanish Fork Fire Department literally parked in the driveway, hosing down the roof and doing all they could to save the house.

(That's the Riley home silhouetted in the flames.)

I cannot imagine that feeling. Filling a car with a few armloads of precious possessions and driving away from your home not knowing if you'll come back. I know our homes are filled with mostly replaceable things, and the Rileys were blessed with a real support from family and friends in the area who came rushing up to help haul as much from the home as possible. But material objects aside, it really hit me how difficult it would be to think of losing your home - the place where you raised your family, built your life, enjoyed sweet memories.

Hearing the news at 11:30 p.m., Noah and I spent a pretty restless night in Salt Lake and woke up early Saturday morning to head to Payson. On our drive, we listened to a story about a wildfire in California that had already claimed 11 homes. I know I've heard those types of statistics before, but suddenly those homes and those people became so much more real to me. Sad that it takes a personal experience, or threat thereof, to make me think this way sometimes. Even sadder that it's entirely possible, probable I'll revert back to my comfortable thinking once the reality of the Riley home escapes recent memory.

We arrived at the house, grateful to start moving belongings back into a home - albeit, now lingering with the scent of scout camp. The fire burned right up to the driveway and sprinkler line - as close as 20 feet from the house in some places.

As we helped move things back inside, there was a knock at the door and ABC4 wanted to chat with one of the evacuees. If you ask me, they knocked on the right door. My mother-in-law could not have been a more perfect interview. She is so genuine and articulate, she makes a great face for Payson... because, as Noah's uncle (who is a Payson resident, so it's fair... like a dentist making a dentist joke.) pointed out, she has all her teeth.

I kid, I kid. Payson isn't that backwoods.

But really, see for yourselves - she's pretty amazing. Buddy is standing in front of Grandma and Grandpa Riley's home before the camera turns toward the house. This portion of the clip was live and when we realized the camera was facing the house, we dared Jesse to streak across the lawn. That would've given the story a little more pizzazz. :)

(The clip is kind of long, and Chris' interview is about halfway through.)

These pictures aren't of the Riley home, but they're a little more clear and will give you an idea of the fire's enormity. Noah pulled these from KSL.com, I think - so photo credit is not ours.

And a shot that reminds me my job is not all that intense. In fact, it's downright pansy compared to this...