Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Pumpkinween (and no neighbors!)

When we first moved to Ogden we found an awesome pumpkin patch in Harrisville, which is a still-quite-rural community northeast of Ogden. We have bought our Halloween pumpkins there for the three Halloweens we've been here and we love it. They have piles of pumpkins, good prices and the salespeople walk around with large cannon things that shoot puffs of air at people. It is hilarious to watch people get hit by the wind then freak out trying to find out where it came from, all the while everyone else is laughing at them. It's kind of like when you run into a spider web, as comic Brian Regan says, you're spazzing and no one else can see why!

So, we picked out our gourds and took them home for carving. I didn't know what to do, so I stabbed blade into the pumpkin and started twisting (maybe I've learned something from my police reporting ... for maximum stabby damage, plunge and twist!) Anyway, it obviously produced a circular hole. I did another one and liked the outcome. I proceeded around the pumpkin's face and ended up with a goofy grin and some big eyes. When lit, it turned into the Cheshire Cat! Way to go me!

Crystal carved her pumpkin the next day, on Halloween itself, and went with a more planned attack (she drew it out first) and used V-shaped holes for the eyes and nose, along with a big, fanged grin. We got some candles and let 'em rip. Brilliant!

We put them on our porch and were taking pictures when our neighbor opened the door to find out what was going on outside. We said "Hi," but he just kind of grunted, saw what we were doing and went back inside. Then, he turned on the porch light! I'm sure he knew we were trying to take pictures of the pumpkins while they were lit, and I guess he thought his porch light (right next to ours) would help us take better pictures. Obviously it didn't.

We were kind of frustrated at the time, but have no decided to let it slide because about a week later, our neighbors moved! They had lived in the townhouse next to ours for about a year. During that time they had one baby, two dogs (got rid of the chihuahua for a pit bull), four different live-in roommates (at least ... remember, they're married!), five smoke breaks - a day - outside our windows, dozens of incredibly audible through our walls fights.

The smoke was rude and obnoxious, but could be stopped by closing our windows. The cigarette butts and dog droppings were not picked up, and that was obnoxious, as well. The fighting, however, was the worst. First, we could not stop it from coming into our home and it was heart-breakingly surprising to hear the words they would use against each other. Horrible, hateful words that I would never even think of using for someone I truly despise, let alone the person I profess to love. We were woken up in the middle of the night a couple times when they decided to yell-it-out in the parking lot below our window at 3 a.m. There were several times when I feared for the physical safety of both of them (she got just as crazy as he did) and the poor baby.

Although it was only for the last month or so that they lived next door, Crystal discovered a great way to get them to cram it. She went to our piano and stared banging out hymns. I think the vigor with which she played was partly to overcome their loud yelling and partly to get out her frustration. What I loved about the hymn defense was that it not only quieted the neighbors, it brought the Spirit back into our home. We work hard to keep our home a happy, quiet, peaceful place and having someone else take that away is frustrating. I am grateful for the hymns and the power they have to help turn our thoughts back to good things.

On a related note to this, I showed up to Bishopric Meeting on Sunday morning and asked the bishop and first counselor who we had asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting. They looked at me with the same blank look I had when I asked myself the same question on the way to church. Ouch! We all started to panic, thinking, "We'd better get something for the meeting, or we're going to each end up speaking!" At least that's what I was thinking, I imagine they had the same thought. I suggested we ask some members of the ward to talk briefly about their favorite hymns then we could have the congregation sing them. We asked five people to do it (it happened to be the five people who showed up for Missionary Correlation meeting a few minutes later) and they all were happy to name their favorite hymn. It was wonderful to see how fast they came up with their hymn and how different the hymns were.

When sacrament meeting started and Brother Gunderson, the 1st Counselor, told everyone what we were doing for the meeting, the whole congregation immediately grabbed their hymnals and started paying extra attention. The personal testimonies and thoughts each person shared about their favorite hymn were all beautiful and the Spirit was very strong. I was touched at the eager participation of the people in the congregation; I didn't count a single person who was not singing. After the meeting, I leaned over to the bishop and told him I thought the program went well (which was not our fault, for sure, but the Lord's) and that we should think about making a similar program a Sunday-after-Thanksgiving tradition. He said, "I don't think it would hurt us to do this more often."

The hymns are beautiful. My favorite is I Need Thee Every Hour.


Ali and Jeff said...

Jordan, you tell such good stories. I love how this post is a combo of MANY! Funny, random pumpkin carving (a month after Halloween), disgusting neighbors, trumped by LOUD hymns, and then a sacrament mtg. recap! Way to go Crystal on playing the hymns so loud. That's a great idea!! Another reason for me to be better at the piano.

Elisabeth said...

Your pumpkin is pretty much the coolest thing I've ever seen!

crazyj said...

I like the concept of fighting fire with full of the spirit of God like a fire is burning hymns. My favorite hymn (Joseph) is Be Still My Soul, because it tells us all to just calm down and get over the silliness. Maren says I am the calmest person she knows, so it must be working. Maren's favorite hymn is The Lord is My Light because she sings it when the boogie men of life come-a-calling. (She fears her tranquil husband.) She's the bravest person I know, so it also must be working. Keep writing, we like to read it.