Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Puzzler

FBI Agent Matt King knew when he saw the manila envelope mailed to the local news station, it was a clue. His heart beat faster. This was yet another message directly from the killer. Local news stations had dubbed the murderer "The Puzzler," as he'd sent out a picture puzzle with every life he'd taken, giving the authorities clues as to where they could find the body.

A serial killer like this had never before been seen in the Southern Utah community. To say people were freaked out was understatement. The Puzzler preyed on young women, usually out late at night alone on their way home from a party, a date, or a friend's house. Even though news media and the authorities had been on TV and radio day after day exhorting women to walk in pairs or groups and never venture out alone at night, there were some who didn't listen.

Matt pulled on latex gloves and carefully removed the envelope from the plastic evidence bag that had been brought to him. The envelope wasn't special---you could buy them in bulk at any Wal-Mart. The writing on the outside was done in a black marker and Matt knew from prior analyzing done on other envelopes it was also untraceable.

He pulled the pieces out one by one and carefully arranged them on a clean surface. His partner, Sheila Long, took pictures of each piece as he laid it out. They quickly put the puzzle together and looked at each other.

"The park just outside of Parowan near the highway to Brian Head? What's it called? Pioneer Park?" he asked.

Sheila took a deep breath and pulled out her cell phone. "Yeah. It is. I think we've got another one. I'll call the authorities there and have them take a look."

"Tell them we're on our way, not to touch anything they find."

"Will do."

Matt and Sheila had researched and scoured every park in every town, big or small, in Southern Utah, trying to familiarize themselves with the Puzzler's playgrounds. There were only so many parks in the area, but the area they were covering was large.

With heavy hearts they climbed into their unmarked car with government plates and headed towards Parowan.

Copyright 2011 Corrina L. Terry
Photo credit: Tess Kincaid @

Saturday, February 26, 2011

dive for dreams

Green Lake Sunset

dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at the wedding)
never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for good likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)
in spite of everything
which breathes and moves, since Doom
(with white longest hands
neating each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds
-before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.
                          e.e. cummings

I've always loved reading e.e. cummings. As a kid (and future English teacher I guess) the idea that he could break the rules and write everything in lowercase fascinated me. Nowadays he's a poet whose words I enjoy reading. I like the simplicity of the words he uses and the images they create when I read them. He's a safe place for me.

I recently read the poem above in the novel, "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," by Ben Sherwood. Before you ask, YES---that teeny bopper starred in a movie about this book. I haven't seen the movie. I probably won't. I'm not a teeny bopper fan and movies are usually never as good as the books.

I was curious about the story in this book though. (I love a good story.) It pushed the boundaries of my faith and beliefs, but if I look at it as just a story, I enjoyed it. The hero of the story, Charlie, faces changing his life and it's set rhythms. He learns to dive for dreams. THAT part of it, I really enjoyed.

Much like Lee Ann Womack's song, "I Hope You Dance," e.e. cummings' poem reminds me to take chances with my life. (I have, trust me. It's always nice to hear the reminder though.) This is a message I hope my son, J, listens to. I want him to dive for dreams, trust his heart, and honour the past, but welcome the future. It's great advice. I hope he doesn't sit on the sidelines of life, but jumps in.

Copyright 2011 Corrina L. Terry
Photo credit: Jill Battaglia Photography Enthusiast @   (She has some AMAZING photos on her site there!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Inheritance

"You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God."
    ----Joseph Smith

Copyright 2011 Corrina L. Terry
Photo credit:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Happy Place

This picture is one of my "happy" places. I took this picture at Aspen Mirror Lake, Duck Creek, Utah, last summer. Whenever I feel stressed I mentally picture this spot. My family has been going to the Duck Creek area on Cedar Mountain for generations. I love it and think of it as my home away from home.

The water flows eastward out of Aspen Mirror Lake (the top right of the picture-out of the shot) and filters down through large rocks and fallen logs into this stream. In early summer the stream is full, as shown here. The water gurgles and flows by, birds chirp, and breezes flow through the forest trees. It is a peaceful haven from the stresses of life.

If you know me very well, you know this school year has been hell. There's no other way to say it. (I hate to swear, but in this case, no other words will do.)  I teach in an inner-city, Title 1, middle school where education is not valued by 80% of the students I teach.

If that's not frustrating enough (trying, begging kids to learn because it will make them better people), we are going through our eighth year of (probably) being non-proficient in the CRTs. (If you don't know what that means, just know it's bad. Very bad. We'll probably have to be rehired or find jobs elsewhere in June. It means more meetings, more statistics from tests we give, more tests to give, more state intrusion, more stress.)

We have 2 interim principles while the school district hires a new one. (Our principle took a job in another state in December.) They're good people who are trying to keep our ship afloat. Luckily my 7th grade English co-teachers are a dream. I can't think of two better people I'd like to work with. Between the interim principles and my co-teachers they all keep me going this year when all I want to do is give up and quit.  

I'm whining. I know it. I'm sorry. It's one of my many faults. You may ask, why not leave that school and go elsewhere? I have a 5 year goal of staying at one school. It will help pay off my student loans if I stay where I'm at for 5+ years and I think it looks better to stay in one place for a while. And I'm not a quitter! (I may be a whiner, but I'm not a quitter.) Plus I really like the kids. They are humble. They are funny. They are amazing in many ways. They have lived through things that would break your heart or destroy me or you, but they live on. They survive. They don't give up. I just wish they valued education more.

So bear with me while I gripe and day dream about my happy place this year. I need it.

Copyright 2011 Corrina L. Terry
Photo credit: Corrina L. Terry

Friday, February 11, 2011

All is Well

William Clayton (1814-1879) wrote the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. Every time I hear "Come Come Ye Saints," I think of the town, Enterprise, Utah, where my dad's from. This song was a staple at the 24th of July Program held there every year when I was a kid. I also think of my pioneer ancestors who sacrificed and struggled for a better life.

This hymn was put to English folk music and became a staple in our Mormon hymn book. I love it and felt it was appropriate to some of the struggles we are all going through lately. I love the hope it gives for better things to come.

Come, Come Ye Saints
"Come, come, ye Saints, no toil or labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.

'Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this and joy your hearts will swell —
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?

Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell —
All is well! All is well!

We'll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away in the West.
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the Saints will be blessed.

We'll make the air with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell —
All is well! All is well!

And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!

But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain;
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell —
All is well! All is well!"

Copyright 2011 Corrina L. Terry
Photo credit:
Lyric credit: William Clayton, LDS Hymns, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thank you!

After an emotional, crazy week I needed to do some positive reflection. Then it hit me---what better way to feel good than to think about all of the people who've helped me through life. So here ya go. My "Thank You" list. They are NOT in order of importance or anything, just the order in which they came to mind. (I'm sure it's going to be a work in progress.)

Thank you to:

1. My parents for making me brush my teeth, comb my hair, take showers, and wear deodorant when I was growing up. You can't believe how many kids have parents who don't. Thank you also for feeding me, clothing me, and educating me. I can't believe how many parents expect someone else to do those things; it breaks my heart.

2. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Martin, who encouraged me to read more challenging books. I wanted to win the class reading contest and thought reading easy books would work. She coaxed me (rather forcefully) to choose books that would challenge me and pushed me through a door that eventually led to an English degree. I continue to love reading and am forever grateful to her.

3. The Primary,Young Women, and Seminary workers in the various wards we were in who gave countless hours out of their lives to spend time with a brat like me. You helped build my gospel foundation and reminded me of my Godly potential, even when I felt like I had none.

4. My Grandpa Dan Thacke who taught me how to tie my shoes and how to hold still long enough that hummingbirds would sit on my finger and chipmunks would eat out of my hand. He had so much patience. I wish I'd inherited some more of it.

5. Ms. Riccobini (now Mrs. Branchini), the best 5th grade teacher ever! She had a class newspaper and piqued my interest in writing, a life-long obsession. 

6. My mom for taking the time out of her busy life as a mom of 4 (at that time) to read to me every day. That time spent led to me learning to read. I still remember sitting next to her on her bed when the letters and words went from gobbly-gook to legible.

7. The I.T. Department at Covey hiring me for their Help Desk. That humble position led to another and another. It turned into 5 years of working with the most amazing people in the world. I saw lives change, travelled across the U.S. many times, and made life-long friends. I STILL use concepts I learned at that time in my daily life.

8. The inventor of the internet, Blogger, Facebook, and email. (That was Al Gore, right???) ;o) He/she/they have made life both simpler and more complicated, but I love keeping in touch with people for free and sharing my thoughts for all the world to see.

9. My husband for being funny, amazing, smart, kind, and hard-working. We're a great combo---like a burger and fries, (I'm the fries) or peanut butter and jelly (I'm the jelly.)  ;o)  He is the man of my dreams.

10. Heavenly Father for trusting me with the spirit that is my little J-man. Doctors said it was impossible for me to ever get pregnant. God knew better. I'm grateful every single day for this miracle that made me his mother, even when said J-man is cranky and turning into a stinky, know-it-all, teenage boy.

11. Two sets of the best in-laws in the world. I thought I got lucky with great in-laws with my first marriage, then I remarried and found out I was blessed AGAIN! How many people do you know who love their in-laws??? They are so kind, never finding fault with me. They love me and encourage me and treat me like one of their own. I am so grateful for all four of them in my life.

12. My dad for working so hard and sacrificing so much for us. His example of fighting his way from poverty to success is amazing to me. I use it all of the time at school with my kids. He IS the American Dream! Thanks Dad!!!

13. My roommates and friends at BYU. I spent 6 years there (I know, I know, two too many!!) but am grateful for every day and every, single thing I learned from each of you. My roommates put up with so MUCH of my crap (sorry girls) as I was growing up (so slowly) and figuring out who I wanted to be. I'm so sorry for being such a snot and for making cookies and cakes all of the time. "The Cori 10" was real. Every roommate I had gained at least 10 pounds living with me (except for my sister, Terresa. She was impervious to my baking skills.)

14. My professors and Bishops at BYU. Thank you all for your patience and work on my behalf. I wish I could repay you. One way I try to give back is to be the best person and example I can. Thank you!

15. Sarah D. in England. That Rotary Club exchange was tough. We didn't get along at ALL. The months we spent in England, then the U.S. were some of the most difficult months of my life. You questioned my government, my religion, and my life. At the time I hated you for it, but you challenged me to know more about my government, and my religion. I became politically active on the conservative side (much to the horror of my liberal friends), scoured the scriptures and researched the doctrine of my church, and really questioned who I was as an American and a Mormon. I never realized what a great influence you would have on my learning and my future. You opened my eyes to how people in the world view America and Mormons. Thank you. I hope you don't hate me.

16. My ancestors. Who were you? What hopes and dreams did you have? What kind of people were you? What traits of yours did I inherit? My straight hair? My strong religious beliefs? My short stature? My chunky thighs? My intellect? I took a maternal DNA test several years ago (through National Geographic's "The Genographic" project) and my maternal line goes back thousands of years into an area around the Black Sea. It is a line many European women come from and a majority of the women in this DNA line were/are Jewish. I wonder how a Jewish girl from the freezing cold north ended up with a Mormon descendant living in the Mojave Desert of the southwest United States. Crazy, right? What I want to know are all of the stories that took place between her generation and mine. I can't wait to find out.

To be continued . . .

Copyright 2011 Corrina L. Terry
Photo credits: