Friday, December 31, 2010

My New Year's Column for the SL Trib!

At the end of each year I like to make a list of 50 things I’ve learned and re-learned. Here’s the skinny on my 2010.
1. Cutting meat at a Brazilian steakhouse is complicated when your right hand is in a cast.
2. Especially if you’re right-handed.
3. Brett Favre should have quit when he was ahead. Let’s hope Derek Jeter will.
4. The novel MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson is both charming and satisfying.
5. MODERN FAMILY is as funny this year as it was last year.
6. Carrying several Jell-o salads on your lap while riding a snowmobile is challenging.
7. It’s worth it to keep speaking to family members even when you don’t feel like it.
8. Some people (hello, Ruth!) make turning ninety look easy.
9. There is no more stunning place on earth than northern Utah—unless, of course, it’s southern Utah.
10. Public school teachers should be paid more than professional athletes. Seriously.
11. Although I will say that Deron Williams is a local treasure.
12. I wouldn’t love peonies nearly so much if they bloomed all year.
13. Running never really gets easier.
14. Given a choice between winter rain and winter snow, I’ll take snow, thank you.
15. The movie INCEPTION is as inventive as everyone said it is.
16. It’s sad, though, that I rarely want to go the movies these days.
17. Have you noticed how you spend the first half of your life acquiring stuff and the second half of your life getting rid of it?
18. Thank you notes are still a good idea.
19. Oscar Wilde was right: life is far too important to be taken seriously.
20. On the other hand, athletic contests matter. GAME ON.
21. I don’t care what they say: a good vegan cupcake is hard to find.
22. It’s an insanely long drive from Salt Lake City to Eugene, Oregon—but way worth it when a new grandbaby is waiting for you.
23. Things often get worse. But then they get better. Until they get worse again. But then sometimes they get better again!
24. It is SO NOT TRUE that urine reduces the pain of a jellyfish sting.
25. Learning to say “no” is important. But you should still say “yes,” too.
26. You know what? Salt Lake City has excellent restaurants.
27. The Chicago Cubs will never win the World Series. Period. End of sad stupid story.
28. It doesn’t break my heart that I’ll never have to help another adolescent male wade through THE SCARLET LETTER again.
29. Um, they should mention in pre-natal classes that you never stop being a parent.
30. A great book for kids is often a great book for adults, too.
31. The Salt Lake bakery formerly known as My Dough Girl (now re-appearing as RubySnap) makes a great cherry chocolate cookie.
32. My husband never wanted a Wii. But he got one for Christmas anyway.
33. And btw I am only 46 in Wii Fit years. Which is much younger than I am in dog years.
34. Yeah, I know. Stieg Larsson is all the rage when it comes to Scandinavian Noir, but I like Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum and Arnalder Indridason much better.
35. My son tells me that B.B. King and Buddy Guy put on a great show at Deer Valley this summer.
36. The powers that be are well served by a loyal opposition.
37. You say good-bye to your children’s childhood when you say good-bye to an old pet.
38. Taking offense is stupid: most people don’t intend to give it and why let the person who does have power over you anyway?
39. I love dogs but they don’t belong at the farmers’ market.
40. Speaking of farmers, I miss the orchards whenever I go home to Utah County.
41. And speaking of Utah County, I lost a part of my heart when the old Provo tabernacle went up in flames.
42. The good thing about winter is that you’re allowed to put on your pajamas at 5:30 if you feel like it.
43. People can surprise you. That’s the big surprise.
44. Here’s the deal about your 50’s: you finally understand that life is terminal.
45. On the other hand! By the time you’re 50, you have a pretty good idea of who you are and how you want to spend your time.
46. It’s possible that the road trip you took this year was worse than my brother’s, although unless you hit a deer and also got stuck behind a highway patrolman shooting cows because they (the cows) were on fire, I seriously doubt it.
47. Change is hard. But so what?
48. At the end of the day, America is an amazing country.
49. And life IS beautiful.
50. Still, it’s time for the holidays to be over so we can all get on with it.
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wii

This Christmas I gave Ken something he never wanted in a trillion billion years--his very own wii! Talk about surprises!

Anyway, we've all had fun with it (even Ken!), but the most fun we had was when Phil brought over his Wii Fit thing so we could all go pretend slaloming and pretend ski-jumping and pretend snow-boarding. But before we did all that extreme pretending, we let the Wii tell us how fit we are and guess what. I AM ONLY 46 IN WII YEARS AS OPPOSED TO KEN WHO'S 67 IN WII YEARS. I realize that this still makes me 322 in wii/dog years but whatevs. Wii/dog years don't count.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Phobias for the new year

One of the true tender mercies in my life is the fact that God gave me my next-door neighbor. There are no words to express how FABULOUS she is--so good, so smart, so wise, so disciplined, so honorable, so funny. I LOVE HER! She's like a sister without the part where you used to pull each other's hair in the garage when you were fourteen because you were fighting over who got to ride shotgun with your dad when he went to the store to get a deposit on your mother's empty Tab bottles.

But whatever.

Anyhoodle! This morning on our walk I told her this horror story about an A train in New York City that got stuck overnight because of all the cold and snow. So then we started talking about stuff that makes us claustrophobic. We mentioned the obvious things, including (ew! I hate them!) airplanes, and then she said something about Hawaii. This gave me pause because it was like a billion degrees below zero this morning while we were walking--also it was slippery--so Hawaii seemed like a positive rather than a negative right then.

"Hawaii makes you claustrophobic?" I ask.

"Yes," she said, "you know. All that air and water."

This answer made me so happy. I told her right there that she'd invented a new phobia--fear of Hawaii. Any ideas about what we can call this new phobia?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Just a word before I go to bed . . .

Merry Christmas, my friends. Thank you for reading, commenting, inspiring and amusing. Couldn't love you guys more.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry fondue Christmas

So I've been trying to figure out what to serve for dinner on Christmas Eve. We'll have already done a fair amount of eating at my brother's house earlier in the day, plus which there will be a large-ish Christmas Day breakfast (at my house) and a ham dinner (at my mother-in-law's house). What this means is that while people like the idea of Christmas Eve dinner, they're actually not that hungry. At the same time I want us to gather properly and not just eat pizza out of a box, you know?

That's why I thought FONDUE! We'll have FONDUE! And then we'll all part our hair in the middle and put on our bell-bottoms and turn on the Sonny and Cher Christmas special and IT'LL BE GREAT! So I took the fondue pot down from its high shelf and studied it for a bit, trying to visualize 12 adults standing around the table, waiting for a turn to dunk a little bit of bread into a little pot of melted cheese.

And suddenly the fondue pot thing doesn't seem like such a brilliant idea . . .

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Provo Tabernacle

Ken has a picture of me on the day I graduated with my M.A. in English from BYU. I'm standing there with my eighties hair wearing a puffy-sleeved dress with a look of happy astonishment on my face. I DID IT! I GOT THAT STUPID THESIS WRITTEN AND DEFENDED EVEN THOUGH MY LIFE WITH TWO BOY BABIES IS OVER-THE-TOP CRAZED!

in this picture I am standing in front of the most beautiful of all buildings--the old Provo Tabernacle which anchored my hometown spiritually, culturally, geographically. And now it's gone.

I hate to sound like I'm engaging in hyperbole at a moment like this, but the burning has felt like a little death to me. I am filled with memory and sorrow.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Annie Lennox update!

This just in from Lisa B! Who also has our backs! The Annie Lennox cd is available as a download from Amazon RIGHT NOW for $1.99. Listen to it and tell me that this is a treasure.

A holiday recommendation for you . . .

because I have your back this Christmas.

Anyhoo! I just bought myself (on impulse!) the new Annie Lennox Christmas cd because I do love me some Annie with her strange and wonderful voice that runs the gamut from torchy to lilting to vaguely sinister. And all of those vocal qualities are on display in her new collection of traditional carols. There's a rough beauty about her arrangements, amplified by an African children's choir singing backup. Really, it's just a great cd.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An observation about dogs

So Geoff and I were driving home last night after seeing the grandbaby (she's in town! staying with her fab grandmother Karin!) when we saw a guy out walking a dog wearing one of those dog coats. Geoff snorted and went I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE PUT CLOTHES ON DOGS. DON'T THEY KNOW DOGS ARE MADE OUT OF FUR?

I loved that--dogs being made out of fur.

Also, it feels good to use the shift key like that. So good.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December brain

I love the Christmas season, but I do find a big part of my brain shuts down during December. Like I woke up this morning and went it's Wednesday already? And also where's my underwear? (Answer: in the laundry basket, not washed. Who knows where Monday and Tuesday went and where was I? Second Answer: not washing underwear.)

Anyway, we all go a little nuts during this time of year. My neighbor, Kathy, was telling me on our walk this morning that she had to instruct her first-graders repeatedly not to lick the stage curtains when performing their dance for the school. December makes you crazy like that. One day you're just a normal first-grander, and then suddenly you start thinking YESSIR soon there will be PRESENTS PRESENTS PRESENTS and before you know it, you're licking curtains.

I've got to write a column today.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yesterday's Trib column

Yesterday's bit about kids and tears at Christmas!


Here it is.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Soliciting more responses!

Ken and I have had so much FUN reading your comments that I want more more MORE. I'm all greedy like that.

So remember how I said Christmas is a time when we can let our aesthetic guard down and openly embrace questionable taste? Well, I want you to share a favorite Christmas Guilty Pleasure--decoration, food, activity, book, story, sappy poem, whatever. I'll start.

Many years ago my grandfather asked his friend to make me a 10-inch Christmas tree constructed entirely of blue and white crystals and giant gold safety pins. There's a strand of blue lights stuffed inside, so when you plug the tree in, it's just a fine haze of holiday azure.

Okay, this thing ranks as one of my fave decorations EVER. I love this tree so much I want to marry it. Until the Christmas season is over and then I just go, never mind. You're a tree made out of safety pins. Who wants to marry that?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas songs you hate

Let's just agree right now that Christmas is one of those times when we're allowed to be uber sentimental and to freely exercise questionable aesthetic taste. To that end I have my "Creepy Singing Christmas Things" sitting here on the corner of my desk--a snowman that sings "Winter Wonderland," a Scooby-Doo that sings "Reck the Ralls with Roughs of Rolly" and an anxious-looking doll that sings "O Tannenbaum."

No wonder I have a Therapy Fund for all my kids. It was JUST SO SCARY TO GROW UP IN THIS HOUSE!

That said, let me know what holiday songs you hate. And don't feel judged if someone lists one of your secret favorites. I'll get started with one of my sister-in-law's faves--that one about the little boy who wants to buy his mom red shoes for Christmas because she's gonna meet Jesus soon.

Every time I hear it I go REALLY?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas scents

So I've been reading Jennifer Donnelly's new book, REVOLUTION, and I'm admiring all the sensory details. Like, I can really smell and taste Paris as I read this novel. Feeling all inspired, I started a list of scents I associate with the holidays. Didn't get too far. Would HEART it very much if you added some of your own.

The flesh and rinds of clementines (Oooo! That could be a line in a poem!)
Cocoa flavored with peppermint
The sharp, peppery scent of air right before a snow storm
Fir and balsam, juniper berries and pine
Fat waxy candles
Wood and wood smoke

Go for it, guys!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A poinsettia shout out

Because someone has to do it.

Kids, if you live in Salt Lake Valley, you should buy your poinsettias at Quality Plants greenhouse on 33rd south and (around) 10th east. The greenhouse is on the south side of the road--set back a little but you'll see it if you're looking for it.

And you should be looking for it because the people (as Lisa B says) there are deals there to be had. I bought a large GORGEOUS healthy deeply colored and all around sexy plant for like $5.00. Yes. I know. Another Christmas Miracle!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ideas for10 things to do at 3:41 a.m.

1. Wonder why you can't sleep
2. Worry about something stupid you said in the seventh grade
3. Worry about something stupid you said yesterday
4. Wonder if you remembered to take the frozen pie shell out of the freezer last night to make a quiche for TKE's staff Christmas party this morning
5. Think about reading but decide against it because it involves actual effort
6. Think about knitting but decide against it because it involves actual effort
7. Worry about your Visa bill
8. Notice that both your dogs breathe really loudly in the middle of the night--same with your husband
9. Randomly search the Web and discover that both of Katy Perry's parents were preachers
10. Wow. Katy Perry's parents are probably surprised by the way things turned out

Oh yeah. And there's always blogging.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some thoughts on cremation

Not long ago my mother suddenly announced she wants to be cremated when she dies. Also, she wants her ashes to be spread in Wyoming because (she said) she's never liked Utah that much anyway.

This was news to me. "You want to be cremated?" I asked her.

"Yes," she said. "I have always wanted to be cremated."

"This is the first I've heard of it."

"Perhaps you weren't listening."

"But how will I visit you on Memorial Day with my peonies and snowballs and irises and so forth? Can we just cremate your foot or something and spread those ashes in Wyoming?"

Anyway. I was thinking about that conversation today as I was running in Liberty Park because--how weird is this?--I think if I were to be cremated, I wouldn't mind having my ashes spread there. I've enjoyed that park ever since I was a little girl, and I love it in all its seasons. So yeah. Take my urn to the top of the Ferris wheel and, baby, let the ashes fly.

Where would you have your ashes spread? And yes. I know. I have officially gone around the bend.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A tale wherein I embarrass myself

So last night Q. went to bed last night feeling pretty certain that today would be a Snow Day. I said don't bet on it. He said but they closed everything down last week during the Blizzard of the Century That Wasn't (possible headlines for the event: THE BLIZZ THAT FIZZED or BLIZZARD SMCHMIZZARD). I said there wouldn't be a Snow Day. And now that it's morning and he's been listening furtively with fading hope to the news, he realizes it isn't a Snow Day as well.

So he's annoyed.

So I'm all DUDE! IT'S UTAH! IT SNOWS HERE. I'm also all I NEVER HEARD OF A SNOW DAY WHEN I WAS A KID. And then I really got going. WHEN I WAS A KID WE WERE GETTING UP AT 4:00 IN THE MORNING AND MILKING COWS BEFORE WE WENT TO SCHOOL IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER.

And here's the thing. I was completely serious. I was really believing that as a young girl growing up in Provo, Utah, I was leaping out of bed in the winter at the crack of dawn to help my family out on the cow front. But of course we didn't have actual cows. Just a dog. And I never got out of a bed at 4:00. Unless it was 4:00 in the afternoon.

I'm getting the crazy old person disease.

Also, I think I might turn this into a column. So if you read my column, forget I wrote this.

Happy Snow Day.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Inception

So Ken, Q, and I went to the dollar movies tonight--saw INCEPTION finally. And the people I was YEARNING for a little more along the comic relief line. Or at least for an opportunity to catch my breath. The movie was a thrill ride for sure, but its level of unremitting intensity made me extremely uncomfortable, not unlike like a rock concert that's JUST. SO. LOUD. you're on the threshold of pain the whole time.

On the other hand, I did admire the smartness of the film. Fun to watch something that isn't completely formulaic, you know?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How I know I'm really old

I've been watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade all morning and really enjoying it. So pretty soon I'm gonna move this lap afghan, get out of my recliner, put in my dentures and have a little bowl of bread and milk to keep my strength up.

But before I do that, just want to say I'm grateful to you for dropping by my blog. I love your comments, and it's been a joy to visit your blogs, too. You make me think, you make me laugh, you make me happy there's an internet after all.

Love to you. Have a fab day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Willing suspensions

Coleridge famously observed that the writer enters a compact with the reader, who agrees to suspend disbelief if a fictional world feels somehow "real"--even if that world is Narnia or Hogwarts. Truly, it's amazing that this compact succeeds as often as it does.

Occasionally, however, I have the experience of reading something and going, "Okay. Not buying this anymore." This happened yesterday when I was reading a new paranormal romance called NIGHTSHADE. I was fine with the fact that the main character (a girl) is a werewolf. Also fine with the fact that she's an alpha werewolf. Also fine with the fact that she goes to a high school with other werewolves, including a sexy male alpha in another pack who will one day be her mate. Also fine with the fact that several members of her own pack are gay werewolves.

But when I got to the line about how those gay werewolves are in a support group for gay werewolves, I went REALLY? WEREWOLVES HAVE SUPPORT GROUPS? Like, are there support groups for werewolves who gamble? Or drink? Or buy too many shoes? Or hoard those shoes?

I'm pretty sure the writer was having a little fun there, but still. Interesting how it was THAT detail that finally made me put the book down.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

I feel kinda naked

Yes. I think "naked" is a good word to capture a reader's attention. Don't you?

But that's how I'm feeling. I have this FABULOUS new editor at the Trib--love her!--who told me that the Trib has a conservative approach to style. They like the words to speak for themselves. To this end they rarely italicize or use caps and exclamation points.

WELL! YOU CAN SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING! Over the past decade of writing my column for the d-news, I have certainly come to rely upon capping and exclamation pointing as my favorite go-to techniques. And, in fact, I think I've overdone both. So being forced to rein myself in is actually a good thing. Still. And also anyway. I feel naked without my rhetorical crutches. So! Expect! a! lot! of! random! punctuation! in! my! blog!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My 2nd column in the Trib

Once again, for probably the ten billionth time, Ann doesn't know how to provide her readers with a link to her column. Here it is right here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Substance-abusing (see previous post) neighbor update

Yesterday when I was outside raking up leaves, our neighbor took a look at Aggie (the family field spaniel) and said to me, "Your dog's getting fat. Maybe it's her thyroid. You should take her to the vet."

And I will! As soon as I buy Quinton some acne cream!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Reader's Bill of Rights

So Chris Crowe introduced me to "The Reader's Bill of Rights," a list generated by Daniel Pennac (I say this like I know who Daniel Pennac is--I don't). I think they're worth contemplating as readers, teachers, AND writers. Discuss amonst yourselves.

Readers have these rights.
1. The right not to read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right not to finish.
4. The right to re-read.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism.
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right not to defend your tastes.

The third right is the one jumping out at me right now. It's hard for me to un-commit after committing to a book. Dude, it's always a MARRIAGE with me and not just some tawdry one night stand. The older I get, however, the more aware I am that life is short and that if you hate a book (or even if you're just bored with it), there's no reason to keep reading. So go ahead. Where books are concerned, feel free to be promiscuous.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I know you didn't ask for my advice

. . . but sometimes I can't resist. Yesterday I spoke at UVU to a general communications class and I offered these ten tips for anyone who wants to write.

1. Read. Everything.
2. Start writing NOW. Why not start off with 250 words a day?
3. Start off each day by figuring out when, where and how you'll write your 250 words a day.
4. Send stuff out.
5. Don't define what kind of writer you are (novelist, poet, journalist, copy writer) too early. Dabble.
6. Don't expect to make a living by writing alone.
7. There is no such thing as a failed story or novel or whatever. You learned something because you wrote that whatever. And you may be able to use material from it in another writing project.
8. Shake things up when you get in a rut. Try something new.
9. Celebrate the success of fellow writers.
10. Resist the temptation to define yourself as a human being by your success (or lack of it) as a writer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The good thing about living in a crazy neighborhood . . .

. . . is that you've always got plenty of material.

We have this neighbor who's had substance abuse issues for decades. It's sad because at heart I think he's a decent guy. At this point he looks like he hasn't had a haircut or a shower for months, possibly years. Which is why we were all a leetle surprised when he stopped Quinton on the sidewalk recently and said, "Tell your mom to buy you some acne cream."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Ovid said (and he would know)

On Saturday at SCBWI Matthew Kirby shared a number of his favorite writer quotes with us. I liked this one by dead Roman guy Ovid: "But still, the fates will leave me my voice, and by my voice I shall be known." Awesome quote, that.

Meanwhile, on the food front, I bought some pumpkin pie spice eggnog. Here's what I discovered--it tastes exactly like non pumpkin pie spice eggnog. WELL OF COURSE IT DOES! Because eggnog is all about the spice anyway. So unless you want an eggnog that's slightly more orange in color, don't bother.

You're welcome.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

SCBWI

Yesterday I spoke at the SCBWI conference--shoutout to Sydney Salter for putting on a darn good show--and learned a ton myself. In particular, Matthew Kirby (CLOCKWORK THREE) did a brilliant job of examining "voice" and "how to find yours." That's a topic I could have never addressed in five trillion billion years.

Anyway. I was struck again by the bravery of participants who submit a single anonymous first page for a critique by an editor and an agent in front of the entire group. The critiques are brutally honest, and I'd NEVER have the courage/confidence to participate in that kind of reindeer game.

There was one sample in particular that left everyone pretty much dumbstruck. It was the first page of a picture book about cremation. In fact, the title was something like "So-and-so Learns About Cremation." Good times. Because who doesn't always enjoy a snappy picture book about cremation?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New column starts in Trib! Today!

I wrote it like a personals ad--columnist in search of readers. Too scared to open the paper.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yeah, I'll take credit for that

Yesterday after my presentation at the downtown library, a woman told me how much she enjoys my column. "I especially loved the one where you said how your husband's family re-uses their dental floss!" Then she laughed. Merrily.

So okay. I know I write about families. And embarrassing stuff. And families who do embarrassing stuff. But it would be a long long long long LONG time before I outed in-laws over a personal hygiene issue--or anything else. You can tell stuff about your own flesh and blood, but not your in-laws.

Besides which my in-laws would never re-use their dental floss. They don't even touch each other's bath towels. Ken was appalled when we first got together, and he realized just how much my family viewed as communal property. But that's not the point. The point is this. I just smiled and thanked the woman because dude! I am always happy to take the credit for anything that made someone else laugh.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reading Like a Writer

That's the title for a presentation I've been asked to give at the SCBWI conference this weekend here in Salt Lake. I think it's a GREAT topic, but as I've tried to actually nail down a talk, I've struggled. I do a lot of things intuitively as a writer, I guess, and sometimes it's hard for me to explain how something happens. Still, I enjoy the challenge of looking at a process. Hopefully I can come up with something more than, "Yeah, I'm a writer! And I read!"

On the food front, cute Candace introduced me to My Dough Girl on 3rd West and 7th South in Salt Lake, and the people YOU MUST GO. I love that place with its yummy cookies and retro feel. Also! You can buy Mexican Cokes there! I had the lemon cookie for the first time yesterday and if you love lemon you oughta try it. They grind up Lemonheads and put them in the frosting. As a result, the cookie was just a leetle too tart-ish for me. I'll probably go back to ordering my fave--the chocolate cherry deal they've got going on. Who doesn't love a chocolate cherry deal going on?

You're welcome for the cookie updates.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And one more thing

Thanks, everyone, for such kind remarks about yesterday's post. I feel like you're family.

Topsy Turvy Day

THINGS I DID THAT I DIDN'T MEAN TO DO TODAY
1. Eat that "Simply Caramel" Milk Way bar just now
2. Have my picture taken at the Trib--if I'd known that was going to happen I might have put on makeup and lost ten pounds before going down there
3. Eat a Slim Jim . . .
4. . . . as well as some alleged "cheese" that came in the Slim Jim package
5. Feed the cat breakfast even though I fed the cat breakfast ten minutes earlier

THINGS I DIDN'T DO THAT I MEANT TO DO TODAY
1. Work on my novel
2. Review some picture books for TKE
3. Put on makeup and lose ten pounds
4. Pack my pajama bottoms which is why I am sitting in a hotel room right now in Logan with no pajama bottoms on
5. Watch the Jazz game--and if I'd done THAT I would have seen Millsap go crazy knocking back 11 points in 28 freaking seconds

Monday, November 8, 2010

Farewell and also hello

Kids, today the d-news ran a farewell column, a tremendously gracious act on their part. Last week I handed in notice and will begin a new column this Saturday in the Salt Lake Tribune. I'm truly excited about this opportunity and grateful to the Trib for taking me on. I'm also kind of scared and nervous, too. But oh well. When am I not a nutjob?

Here's today's column.

I remember when we first got caller I.D. about thirteen years ago. Mostly I loved it! But sometimes? Not so much.
In those days our boys had three paper routes, and if one of them screwed up on the delivery front, you better believe we heard about it. Apparently some people just don’t appreciate it when you run late or deliver their paper to the wrong address or accidentally throw their paper onto the garage roof. Apparently some people expect to get what they pay for.
SERIOUSLY! WHAT IS WRONG WITH SOME PEOPLE?
But whatever. The point is that certain names made me nervous whenever they popped up on the caller I.D. And nervous is how I REALLY felt when the words NEWSPAPER AGENCY CORP showed up one afternoon. I stood there in the kitchen and listened to the phone ring while having an intense little conversation with myself. Should I pick the phone up? Or should I just pack my bags and hop on the next train out of Dodge?
In the end I manned up (even though I am not a man) and said a testy “hello.”
The caller identified herself as Lisa Bowen, John Hughes’ secretary. John Hughes, as you’ll recall, was the editor of the Deseret News, and he wanted to speak to me. Would that be okay, Lisa wanted to know.
I said of course! Great! But inside I was all REALLY? My kid threw some dude’s paper onto the garage roof and THE HEAD EDITOR is calling to chew us out? Shouldn’t head editors be busy editing instead of calling with complaints about the occasional careless product placement?
Only as it turned out that’s not why Mr. Hughes was calling. No, indeed. Instead, he graciously asked if I’d be willing to write a column for the Deseret News similar to the column I’d written for ten years at the old PARENT EXPRESS magazine.
Well! How can you say no to a charming offer like that? And I’ve been writing happily for the Deseret News ever since.
Kids, it’s been a great ride. Getting to work with features editors like Chris Hicks, Kathryn Clayton, Angelyn Hutchinson, Todd Curtis and Aaron Shill has been good for me as a writer.
But hearing from YOU, the readers, has been the best part of all—even the readers who start their e-mails with lines like “I’m not a regular fan of your columns as they deal mostly with insignificant subjects.” Truly, your feedback has both encouraged me and kept me on my toes. Thank you.
By now you can probably see where this is headed. Change happens. I’ve always hated that about life and have often worked hard to resist it. But as I’ve grown older I’ve learned (sort of) to view change as an ally, a comrade-in-arms eager to make me try something different, something new.
So I’m saying good-bye with gratitude for all the lovely things that have been and excitement for the journey that lies ahead.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why I write--possibly

So yesterday it was all football all day. And because it's Sunday morning and I am thus filled with charity, I won't point out that BYU won and Utah lost. Besides which that's not the point.

The point is this--while my family and I were sitting together at the game in Provo, my brother's son, Matthew, got put into the game which is a big deal because he's worked like a maniac for years down there on the practice field in Utah county, but hasn't played. Anyway! He went in for a play in the fourth quarter and we all went NUTS and cheered and wept and rent our clothing in a positive, joyful way and so forth.

As soon as the play was over, however, he trotted off the field. Well, in my head I'm going crap. Bleh. That's it. Dude won't see any more action. Meanwhile my brother, Matthew's father, is all THIS IS GREAT! THE COACHES ARE GONNA BE RUNNING HIM ON AND OFF THE FIELD!

I turned to my dad at that point and said this is and always has been the crucial difference between my brother and me. I generally figure things will turn out badly and that my heart's gonna get broken in the process. And also that I'll go home and discover that someone has taken the last Dr. Pepper from the fridge. My brother, on the other hand, checks out the landscape and sees unlimited possibilities for happiness. And yet we share the same genes and experienced virtually the same childhood.

Which brings me to why I write--I write because people, especially in the context of families, are CRAZY. But also endlessly interesting.

P.S. My nephew played the rest of the game. See what the Power of Positive Thinking can do? Go, Matthew!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oh, happy day

A few years ago, my friend Louise Plummer wrote a book I love--THE UNLIKELY ROMANCE OF KATE BJORKMAN. It was inspired, in part, by a book called THE ROMANCE WRITERS' PHRASE BOOK. It's a collection of tags romance writers can use to (as Louise describes it) take the emotional temperature of their characters.

It's been entertaining reading. Chapter headings include "body movements," "facial expressions," "voices," and "emotions." Here are a few phrases from the sex part. Because seriously aren't we all kind of interested in the sex part?

"the kiss was like the soldering heat that joins metals"
"their lips met and she felt buffeted by the winds of a savage harmony"
"she felt blood coursing through her veins like an awakened river"

Now, I probably won't use these lines in my own writing. SADLY. But I have to say the book is a useful little resource in its own way, giving me ideas for new ways of saying old things. I'm all for that.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Scott Westerfeld

Okay, so I meant to have Geoff post a link to my d-news column yesterday BUT OOPS! I didn't get it done. So maybe you can go on over to the desnews website and take a look at the winners of our mock Bulwer-Lytton contest. You won't be disappointed.

In other news. I spent Saturday in Provo at the first Teen Book Festival sponsored by the library there (shout out to Gene Nelson and Courtney Lowe for organizing the event). Anyway, I REALLY enjoyed Scott Westerfeld's (UGLIES, LEVIATHAN) completely awesome presentation. He talked about the history of books and interior illustration--even adult books back in the day had illustrations because there was this huge illustration industry. Illustrators worked for newspapers, magazines and catalog-driven companies like Sears (loved that Westerfeld called the Sears catalog the world's first internet). Because of this pool of readily accessible talent, it was easy for publishers to drop art in a book.

And then came the camera.

Of course I'm interested in the way industries change because of my connection to newspapers. No one quite knows where we're going with those but (of course) the news industry will continue to morph into something else, and we'll all get used to that.

Anyway. One last Westerfeld-related item. A young fan asked why some books take off and others don't. This is a question writers ask themselves ALL. THE. TIME. (Me: "Dude. Why am I not Stephenie Meyers?") Good question, right? Westerfeld thought about this for a moment, then said that books that give people something to talk about are the ones that make it.

And I think he's probably right.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

THE EVENT: a report

It was pretty much just awesome-ness all the way, kids! From the bomb-sniffing dog to the cute guys in uniforms to the stoic-faced secret service persons to the good-natured customers who stood in line and turned it into a party to the super efficient TKE employees to the fabulous and unflaggingly gracious Mr. Carter himself, the whole day just rocked.

I AM SO PROUD OF US. GO TEAM US!

In particular Jenny, Rachel and Anne should be proud of themselves. What super-cool organizing and arranging and possibly even secret ninja-like skills they all have! And let me give a shout out to Sally L. who was so impressive that an actual secret service person pulled Sally away from her post and asked her to shuffle people into the next room because she was just such an authoritative-do-not-mess-with-me presence. From here on out, Sally L. will only answer to the name THE OFFICIAL ENFORCER OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Jimmy Carter

Hey, guys, I'm working the Carter event at the bookstore today. I'll be outside from 9-2, managing lines and keeping people happy. Mostly I'm just worried about staying warm. Should be an interesting day.

Speaking of the cold--my boy Dylan mentioned his cute wife, Julie, slipped and fell because of snow issues the other day. Julie is like me--she HATES to be cold, whereas Dylan is his father redux. He's all BRING ON THE SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURES, BABY, BECAUSE THAT'S WHEN I REALLY FEEL ALIVE. Knowing this, I told Dylan that Julie will hold him personally responsible for winter for the rest of their married lives.

I know this because I blame Ken every time it freaking snows.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Sara said yesterday

Because you know how Sara is. SO savvy. I must needs quote her often.

Anyway, while we were at work yesterday, I received some discouraging news on the family front. Sara was there to hear me take the phone call. And later she said aren't you grateful that we have this? THIS, of course, is the writing part--the thing that you and I do to express and escape and impose order on all manner of unruliness.

Yes. I'm grateful for it. Even when it's frustrating, which it often is. But still.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

We have that on our e-mail at TKE--"What I'm Reading Now"--and really I'm always so impressed with fellow employees. I feel like I'm in the remedial reading group (let's call ourselves "the Bluebirds," shall we?) compared to them.

BUT! I just finished NAKED ONCE MORE by Elizabeth Peters. Peters writes a smart, sassy mystery, so that was good times. And now I'm reading a new YA novel by an actual YA. It's edgy--plenty o' sex and profanity. But I'm reading it because I'm interested in what an actual YA chooses to emphasize in terms of issues. I'd say this novel deals mostly with the desire and search for self-worth.

On the non-fiction front I'm dipping into STATUS ANXIETY by Alain de Botton. The first three pages have been very interesting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ann's column

Again, Ann still hasn't joined the 21st century, so her favorite son, Geoffrey, is setting up a link to her column this week.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Festival!

So I had this experience today at the festival--I started reading the first chapter of THE CHIHUAHUA CHASE aloud and I suddenly went DAMN! THIS SOUNDS BETTER THAN I REMEMBERED! Do you ever have this experience? By the time you finish a project you're pretty sick of it and you're also pretty sure it stinks. And so you never look at it again. In fact, you avoid making eye contact with it out of sheer embarrassment like it's a family member that's going to make a fool out of himself or herself in front of a large group of people, thereby forcing you to lie and say WE'RE NOT RELATED before slipping out of a back door.

Yeah. That's how I feel about my books in general and this one in particular (because it's the newest). But after reading CHIHUAHUA aloud today, I thought to myself HEY! I would have enjoyed this as a kid! It was a nice moment.

Another nice moment today--a leetle girl walked past The King's English table and squealed, "MOM! LOOK! EYEBALLS AND BOOKS!" She was referring to the eyeball soaps we're selling for Halloween.

Oh, eyeballs. I love you so.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Festival!

So tomorrow I'm speaking/reading from THE CHIHUAHUA CHASE at 12:30 at the downtown library. There will be signings with fancy pens after. Drop by to say hi if you're in the area.

Also, I'm introducing Treat Williams and his new picture book for kids at 5:00. I. AM. SO LUCKY!

Brigham City

Thanks to librarian extraordinaire Sue Hill and the Utah Humanities Council, I spent a lovely evening in Brigham City talking about books and boys and how to connect the two. I enjoy these trips so much. I always meet people who know so much more than I do about the subject, and I leave feeling enriched.

BONUS POINTS! My parents offered to be my roadies this time. They schlepped in boxes of books before the event and held up cigarette lighters and roared their approval after the event. Also, we had dinner at Maddox. Dude. I am just all over that seafood cocktail.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rethinking the -ly words

So if you go to a writers' conference these days you'll probably be told that ADVERBS ARE EVIL. Like, they're the Voldemorts of the Parts of Speech. Go through your manuscripts, your teachers will tell you, and ZAP THOSE EVIL ADVERBS INTO OBLIVION WITH YOUR HARRY POTTER WANDS.

And that's not such bad advice. Really, you should find a kickass verb to do the work for you and then you won't need an adverb. EXCEPT! Lately, I've been noticing how British writers still use adverbs. Quite a lot, actually. They just slather them on the way we used to slather on the baby oil when we went sunbathing back in the day before skin cancer was invented. And, people, the evil adverbs kinda work when people with cool English accents use them.

Here's another time when the adverb worked for me. Lisa B. sent me a link to a blog where the author remembers how her mother wouldn't let her eat some cake, so she went outside in a fit of pique to play with her toys "vengefully." Could there BE a better description? "Vengefully" carries the day.

Which means I have to re-think the whole adverb thing, I guess. So that's what I'm doing right now. Thinking. Thoughtfully.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Feeling GRUMPY

NOT to be judgmental or anything, but I'm feeling kinda annoyed with the guys announcing the Dallas/Vikings game right now. They're pretty much circling the wagons around Favre, who's recently been accused of sexually harassing a female Jets employee.

MEMO TO GRANDPA FAVRE: Dude. Did you really think you could get away with sexting these days? Only someone who's really OLD would think that. Oh. WAIT.

Anyway, the announcers are all he's a player's player, he always shows up for the game even if his dad is dying and his wife has breast cancer, it's none of our business what he does off the field, we're not here to talk about people's morals anyway, blah blah blah.

All of this may be perfectly true. And no one admires a damn good player more than I do. But implicit in all of this inane announcer banter is (I think) a condemnation of the woman involved somehow, to which I can only say no one should have to put up with a pass from Favre (you saw this coming) EXCEPT HIS RECEIVERS.

Friday, October 15, 2010

feeling like a five year old

Last night Ken, Geoff and I went to one of those yogurt stores where they give you a bucket and you fill it up and then they charge you $9.00 and you go, "Wow!" and also "Whoops! Did I really plan to spend that much money on yogurt this evening?"

But that's NOT the point. The point is that while we were sitting at a table together, I noticed Ken and Geoff were staring HARD at me and finally Ken went, "Did you cut your own bangs?"

Which, of course, I had. But really it's probably not a good sign when your husband asks you that question in the first place, and in the second place your son bursts out laughing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do you ever

. . . read something you think you SHOULD love? But you kinda don't? I'm having that experience right now with DARK STAR by Alan Furst who is hugely respected on the literary thriller front. The whole time I'm reading this book I'm thinking, yes! It's true! Furst is freaking brilliant as a stylist and as a historian!

But I just haven't been swept up into the book the way I want to be. It's like reading a Russian novel. I have to keep going back to see who is who. Furst would probably take that as a compliment.

Any books ever affect you this way? Which ones?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dinosaurland!

Hey, kids! I'm in Vernal, preparing for my presentation tomorrow at the library here. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to travel to small Utah towns, courtesy of the Utah Humanities Council. Just toured the library and it's really fantastic--very inviting in every way. Well played, Vernal! I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Anyhoo. Whenever I travel like this, I always eat dinner at a local diner, and I have come to this conclusion: the food is never as wonderful as I want it to be. Diners pretty much serve food like Lamb's, a Salt Lake institution for decades, which (nonetheless) serves fruit cocktail from a can. JUST LIKE OUR MOMS USED TO. M-m-m-m-m. Home cookin'! (Literally.)

There's a certain kind of nostalgic comfort to be derived from this kind of food, I suppose--if you can manage to dial down your expectations.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bad Writing Contest

Here is the link to my column, outlining this year's Bad Writing Contest.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy 80th birthday

That's right. My dad's turning 80 tomorrow, so my mom is having us down for a fam party tonight. She wanted us each to write something, so I'm using my blog to get it done. It'll be long. Feel free to skip.


EIGHTY THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT DAD ON HIS 80TH BIRTHDAY

I love the way he . . .

1. loves my mom
2. laughs at my jokes
3. enjoys music of all kinds
4. opens single-wrap cheese slices with his Swiss army knife
5. steals mints from the Cinegrill
6. crinkles up his entire face and shakes with silent laughter when something strikes him as funny
7. talks to the poodle, Jacque
8. used to wave good-bye to the Norwegian Elkhound, Thorina
9. likes to shop for clothes for himself
10. likes to shop for clothes for others
11. takes my boys golfing
12. does his own ironing
13. makes oatmeal and Eggos for the grandkids at the beach
14. wears groovy sunglasses
15. treats us to lunch at Joe Vere’s
16. puts on a fishing hat and reads for hours at the beach
17. listens when you have a problem and just want to talk
18. knows how to pick out the ripest plums
19. gets a kick out of “O Brother Where Art Thou” no matter how many times he sees it
20. grows flowers like daylilies, asters, impatiens, primroses and rose roses
21. landscapes with “rock”
22. makes his in-laws feel like family
23. used to take my grandpa and buy him a Wendy burger before football games on Saturday
24. calls a mean Bingo game
25. texts me when I’m taking a ride in a hot air balloon
26. drops little letters of encouragement to the people he loves
27. puts salt on apples
28. refuses to take himself too seriously
29. refuses to take other people too seriously
30. sees the humor in a headline like “Emotions Run High at the LaVerkin Liquor Hearing”
31. takes care of old friends like Devan

I love that he taught me how to . . .

32. swim
33. turn a cartwheel
34. throw a softball so I could get the Presidential Fitness Award in the sixth grade
35. swing a golf club
36. put someone in a Half Nelson
37. plant shrubs
38. enjoy good Mexican food
39. enjoy good sourdough bread
40. treat people with respect no matter their background
41. have a confrontation without turning it mean and ugly
42. start a fire with newspaper and lighter fluid
43. play “Nickels Up” (Grandma helped!)
44. say hello in Japanese

I am grateful when I was a kid that he . . .

45. provided me with opportunities to travel, especially to London when I was in college
46. made me feel smart
47. wasn’t harsh where religion was concerned
48. welcomed my friends into our home
49. took us (sometimes) to Sizzler on Sunday
50. worked on graduate degrees, thus teaching us the importance of formal education and the value of life-long learning
51. stopped me from saying something hurtful to a boy I was dating
52. took us to San Francisco once a year to get our teeth fixed

I still like it when he tells stories about . . .

53. army days
54. other coaches
55. players
56. my mother
57. Uncle Wayne and Uncle Lewis
58. peddling fruit
59. Doc Dewey’s car
60. initiations for Sigma Nu

Words I would use to describe my dad

61. loyal
62. witty
63. kind
64. wise
65. stoic
66. steady
67. silly

I think of my dad whenever I hear

68. “Abide with Me”
69. “O My Father”
70. “O Holy Night”
71. “The Lonely Bull”
72. “Amazing Grace”
73. Willie Nelson
74. C.C.R.
75. the Beaver Fight Song
76. bagpipes
77. a quarterback shouting an audible

I won’t forget . . .

78. how he used to visit me in the hospital on his lunch hour
79. how he and my mom brought soup to Becky’s house the day she died
80. how he manages to always make me feel like the most important person in the room

Happy birthday, Dad. Couldn’t love you more.

Friday, October 8, 2010

This is what my mom said about someone else's dog

"I think she has Asberger's."

And my mom said this kindly, with real concern for the animal.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sensory overload

Yesterday was one of those days in which I had many, many, MANY lifetimes, one of which included a fashion show at the Town Club on South Temple. (The Town Club is sort of a female version of the Alta Club, although females can now join the Alta Club. But whatever. It's not like that's the world I reside in anyway.)

At any rate, the models wandered amongst us with their super fancy outfits (basically the look was Clothes as Architecture) in a variety of uber tactile fabrics and here's the thing. I LIKE TO TOUCH. I do! Whenever I encounter fibers at the store I have to seriously maul them before committing to a relationship. So it was really, really hard NOT TO MAUL THE MODELS and their cashmere-y, suede-y, nubby knit-y, fake pony print-y clothes. I had to sit on my hands and it was distressing and I knew as soon as the show was over there would be an orgy of touching things on my walk home.

I got an early start in re the touching part. When the show was over, I reached across the table to touch the centerpiece to see if those were real cabbage leaves (they weren't), and as I withdrew my hands I knocked a full glass of ice water into my lap. The water splashed up and even made my glasses spotty.

There was stunned silence.

And I almost said, "You think THIS is bad? Once I set the table on fire at the Dodo."

Good times.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Because Sara Z said

Sara periodically mentions I oughta link to my d-news column every Monday. Or Tuesday if I forget to on Monday. So I'm going to give it a try.

Meanwhile I'll try to remember what I wanted to say about obituary pictures . . .

Here is the column.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Question for the day

So I got this fancy catalog in the mail this week peddling all kinds of things, including a cheesecake. Here's the description: "Incredibly creamy Madagascar vanilla cheesecake on a shortbread macadamia nut crust--and stunningly topped with a bounty of Fall fruits handcrafted in imported chocolate. 8" diameter. 4.5 lbs. Made in USA."

Guess how much it costs. Did you guess $120.00? Because then you would be right. So here's my question for the day: is any cheesecake worth $120.00? Not including shipping?

Seriously, if I had $120.00 to BLOW, I would totally order this cheesecake just to see.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Re-reading

I think it's always risky to re-read a book you once passionately loved--especially something you read when you were young. In my experience, re-reading is often a recipe for disaster. But I'd been in the mood to revisit Middle Earth, and so on Bilbo's birthday, September 22, I began listening to THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING on tape. (DISCLAIMER: the September 22 thing was purely accidental. I can't remember my family's birthdays let alone Bilbo's.)

Anyhoo. I'm happy to report that I've enjoyed the journey again. The quest archetype has always spoken to me, and I'm still enthralled by the story's nature imagery. Middle Earth is suffused with starlight, and because I am the kind of person who steps outside every night just to look at the moon, I love that.

I will say this, though. When I first read FELLOWSHIP as a romantic sixteen year old girl, I thought Strider was dead sexy--all dark and moody-broody and probably leanly muscular because of all that wandering around the Misty Mountains he did. I LOVED him. I wanted him to forget Arwen, invite ME to the prom, and whisper the lyrics of "Pieces of April" in my ear.

But now I find Strider kind of pedantic--always reeling off loooooooong-winded stories about his ancestors and so on. Yawn. Also snore. Dude, I want to tell him. Lose the boring elf stories and stick with swordplay so I can get all weak in the knees about you again.

I doubt he'll listen to me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy man (with dog) in the park

This morning when I was running in Liberty Park in the semi-dark, I encountered an older man with a dog. I told him his dog was pretty. He told me his dog was 1/2 Jack Russell, 1/2 American Eskimo, and 100% pain in the rear. I laughed. And then our conversation went like this.

MAN: I like to leave 'em laughing. Here's a joke for you.

ME (remembering the mermaid joke a stranger told me and Randi in Eugene): Okay . . .

MAN: What did the parrot say to the hummingbird?

ME (hoping this isn't another joke about bra sizes): What?

MAN: "For crying out loud, you'd think you could at least learn the words!"

You're welcome.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here's what I feel like doing

1. Eating myself into a coma
2. Growing fur all over my body
3. Sleeping in a cave until March

Never fails. I feel pretty great during the summer, which causes me to think HEY! I CAN HANG ONTO THIS! And then one morning in mid-September I hit some sort of psychic wall and I go oh. Time to hibernate. Also grow fur all over my body.

I am always astonished by how tied into the seasons I am. Clearly I was a bear in a former life.

Meanwhile on the doughnut front (which after spending a summer of eating salads, berries and twigs I say BRING ON THE DOUGHNUT FRONT) I had another bacon doughnut--this one from a place in Draper called BEYOND GLAZED. I enjoyed it. Of course! The doughnut itself was fine, the frosting was especially fine. But the bacon? Not sure it was really actual bacon. It may have been those bacon bit things you put in salads. VooDoo just lays a slab o crispy bacon on top of their doughnuts and I just says YES! GIVE ME MORE OF THAT!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

An insight I had while sitting in church this morning

We're covering Isaiah in Sunday School these days, so of course we spend most of our time talking about how difficult it is for mere mortals to read him. This caused a new woman in the ward to stand up and share her personal experience with reading Isaiah--long story short, the experience saved her sanity at a very difficult time of her life. Her testimony made people a little uncomfortable because she was emotional and a little long-winded and we don't know her very well yet. Still. Everyone was touched by her sincerity and the authenticity of her feelings.

So then we went forward and people said AGAIN dude! Isaiah is hard to read! So then the new woman kinda hectored everyone and said Isaiah is actually a piece of cake. Which okay. I know from personal experience that some cakes are kinda complicated such as that red velvet cheesecake thing from The Cheesecake Factory that I was eating every day for several weeks last spring.

Anyway, I understood that she wanted to impress upon us her absolute belief in the simplicity of Isaiah and that, in fact, she wishes for us all to have the exact same experience that she had because it meant so much to her. But there's the rub. We're all different. We get to the same place in different ways. Like my wily dad always said when it came to getting football players graduated, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Not that my dad skinned actual cats. Or did anything nefarious on the graduation front. He was just willing to acknowledge that some people have different paths.

Still. Somehow we always feel that if people just DO THINGS A CERTAIN WAY, le voila! Success!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good news, darling!

That's what we say at our house any time something great happens. We're channeling our former realtor who called to tell me that my father had backed into an old garage when he was driving a U-Haul truck, thus causing extensive damage and thus causing the city to condemn the structure, which is what our realtor had been hoping and praying and fasting for FOR YEARS because the garage was an eyesore. So that's why she called and shouted in my ears GOOD NEWS, DARLING! YOUR FATHER KNOCKED DOWN THE GARAGE BEHIND YOUR NEW HOUSE!

Here's my good news. I just found out that Scott Pierce, former TV critic at the D-news, has landed at the Trib. It will be so nice to read a local's take on the new TV line-up.

Well played, Scott Pierce!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

And here's what I love . . .

. . . about LIFE.

In the midst of all my melancholy-ness yesterday, fabulous Lisa B. called to report that she is a grandma again. A big old baby boy was born to Singing Son and Wife. Congratulations!

And that's how it always unfolds. Death and birth, sadness and mad happiness running endlessly cheek to cheek.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Memories

I spent the better part of the day involved with the funeral of a young woman in our neighborhood who died on Sunday. She was Tongan, and much of the service was conducted in that tongue. As the congregation sang in beautiful rough harmony, the music rolling over us all, pieces of my own girlhood came back to me. Surprisingly. I didn't expect that. But there I sat, remembering trips to Hawaii where the water and air were so blue they burned your eyes, and locals hated BYU football's team with a white hot passion. Still. They always treated my dad like he was one of their own.

All of it--the music, the memories of my own family when we were young, the thoughts of the young woman and her family--have made for a melancholy afternoon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

One year ago today . . .

. . . we thought Ken was having a heart attack. He spent a day and a night and a day in the hospital. But look at him now! Still standing!

We spent today celebrating with balloon bouquets and dinner at Hires. (I had a Mountain "H." In case you're interested.)

Love you, Ken.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What Happy People Know

That's the title of a book by Dan Baker. WHAT HAPPY PEOPLE KNOW. And I have to say I usually cringe when I hear this kind of title. But I must say the book has helped me lots over the past few years, which is why I re-read sections when I feel like I'm LOSING MY MIND.

Here's the bit I liked yesterday: "From that day on, I realized that there was something happy people know that unhappy people don't; No matter what happens in life, there's always something left to love, and the love that remains is always stronger than anything that goes against it." (p. 94)

A response like this puts a person in a powerful position, no?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Exercise for the youth

This morning Kathy told me that her first-graders are learning about exercise. This is how you explain what exercise is to kids that age: anything that makes you breathe hard, feel hot and turns your face red is exercise.

So then we reflected on a world that requires teachers to introduce the concept of exercise to little kids, who in another day and age would just naturally be outside breathing hard and feeling hot and turning red in the face. Then I remembered how Mrs. Thompson in the fourth grade used to play a record called "Chicken Fat" every day so we could get the wiggles out and also not turn (apparently) into fat chickens. So maybe we weren't really breathing super hard then after all.

A song like that seems kind of p. incorrect right now. But then practically everything we did in my school was p. incorrect. We prayed and the teachers smacked us with rulers. Also paddles. You had to wait until the fifth grade, though, until you got smacked with a paddle.

Good times!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

antidotes

Whenever someone had a meltdown--a family member, a neighbor, a national figure--my mother would always say, "Well there they go, fonching and fuming."

We had no idea what the exact definition of "fonching" was. Something people did in Wyoming when they were angry, perhaps? Were bad smells involved? Was this a word created as a substitute for another word? And yet we knew in general what the term meant. People who were "fonching and fuming" were pretty darn angry. And noisy. REALLY really fonchingly noisy.

Well, as you all know, I've been fonching and fuming a lot lately, so I decided to give things a rest--to calm down and go to my happy place. Today my happy place has involved eating cupcakes and looking at pictures of Peyton Manning in ESPN magazine.

I recommend this course of action highly.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In just a few minutes . . .

. . . my friends at the D-News will be in a staff meeting in which the findings of a new study will be shared with them. Basically that's code for "most of you are going to be fired." Or at least that's what people are saying at the paper. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I have spent the last few weeks feeling sick at heart for these friends of mine who are worthy, died-in-the-wool newspaper people and who have worked hard over the years to honor that which is best in the profession of journalism. Nobody knows where the world of print news is going, and I'm not unsympathetic to management trying to figure out how to make things work in this new media world. But still. I can be sad, can't I?

Me, I'm personally worried that as news lives more and more in cyberspace, such traditional practices (requirements!) of checking, double-checking and triple-checking vetted sources will just go out the window due to a lack of time and money both. From here on out, I fear it will be all spin. All opinion and agenda-driven. I know there are people out there who will say BUT THAT'S WHAT THE LAMESTREAM MEDIA does already. Well, here's my response: people who make this claim only prove that they are, in fact, ignorant and naive and terribly fond of playing the victim. They truly are.

Here's hoping for something good to come out of this all. Not that I'm feeling very hopeful.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Food and rainy weather

So I've lost a leetle weight this summer--and while losing weight is never easy for someone like me who stops three times on the way to Evanston for snacks, it's easier in the summer, because of all the grilling! also fruits! also vegetables! And when the sun is out there just shining shining shining away, you don't feel like eating heavy, right? And then you get lulled into this false sense of security that even when fall comes you'll just kind of keep grazing away on nuts and berries and possibly twigs.

And then one day fall comes in the shape of a major autumnal rainstorm so intense that you think the thunder is going to split your roof in two. Like this morning in Salt Lake, for example. And then you get out of bed and notice the gray sky and you think PLEASE LET ME FIND THE FIRST TROUGH FULL OF MEXICAN FOOD AND HONEY I'LL JUST FALL FACE FORWARD IN IT. And eat. And eat. And eat. Until March.

That's what I'm feeling like today. Eating until March.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Well, I'm pleased

That MODERN FAMILY won best comedy series. And what do you know? They managed to finish up the whole thing by 9:00?

Meanwhile, Sara Zarr is right. I oughta sign up for Twitter.

I love Tom Selleck

But I'm a little worried that he's using Grecian Formula on his moustache. Which is troubling.

my favorite Laurence Fishburne role

Cowboy Curtis on PeeWee's Playhouse. Good times.

Please, Al Pacino, please!

Stop. Talking.

Sympathetic embarrassment

It's when you feel embarrassed for people who don't feel embarrassed for themselves. I'm starting to feel it right now for Al Pacino, although I'm not sure exactly why . . .

Oh, Jewel

Your voice is kinda irritating.

But I'm loving these clips of the people who've passed on this past year. Didn't John Forsythe have the best voice ever? And wasn't Rue McClanahan simply the sexiest? And Peter Graves. Oh I LOVED him so much in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE--the TV show, not the movie when he betrayed Tom Cruise and the rest of us, too. And Lena Horne--certainly she was one of the most beautiful singers to croon a tune. Loved Edward Woodward in THE EQUALIZER--that show always brings back happy memories of graduate school.

Hmmmm

Besides having an uber cool name, January Jones is talented and fabulously gorgeous. But this dress tonight? The bustier looks like that pair of blue Nike swim goggles I just bought at Big FIVE. (On sale!) (Score!) And the bell skirt looks like that big plastic collar thing my dogs wear when they're not supposed to lick their stitches.

Meanwhile Julia Ormand is kind of making me nervous. Like I just turned down the television sound because I started feeling a lot of sympathetic embarrassment for her when she totally forgot Catherine what's-her-name's name.

The long hair debate

Tell me. Can a woman over 50 wear her hair long? Like Kyra Sedgewick for example?

My mother wonders this. Loudly. In my presence.

Ann-Margaret

Ken loved her. She was his secret crush.

And she does look very lovely tonight. I can still remember going to the old Academy Theater in Provo with my mom, Ruthann Hudspeth and a truckload to kids to watch VIVA LAS VEGAS.

I still love that movie.

Having 80's flashbacks

m-m-m-m-m-m-m. Tom Selleck.

Shelf life

So I have this pattern. I discover a show and LOVE IT so much I want to marry it. But then, even though the quality remains high, I become less and less interested. And then I stop watching it altogether.

Examples? THE OFFICE and 30 ROCK. Unlike certain series that went dramatically downhill after the first season (remember MIAMI VICE), I think those shows still bring it week after week. But I kinda don't care anymore.

I hope I won't feel that way about MODERN FAMILY. And I hope MODERN FAMILY (in the words of all those characters in THE OUTSIDERS) stays gold.

PONYBOY: Stay gold, MODERN FAMILY! Stay gold!

On the other hand, I never did get tired of FRASIER. Or MAGNUM P.I.

The best-looking couple on TV

Olivia and Elliot from LAW AND ORDER SVU.

I love this question and answer format.

And, Lisa B! Did you just see that one of your darlings (i.e. MAD MEN) got an emmy?

Too many black dresses tonight, though.

OH! I FAINT! Dan Draper is beautiful. Beautiful beautiful beautiful.

Don't you think . . .

. . . it's somehow appropriate that one of the winners for the reality TV category just tripped and lost her shoe on the way up to the platform?

Why don't I like

Lea Michelle so much?

On the other hand, I sort of like Julia Louis-Dreyfus' dangly green earrings . . .

I do love

Jim Parsons.

But really? Steve Carrell still has NOT won an Emmy? Is that true? He's like the Susan Lucci of night time TV.

Memo to L.L. Cool J.

Lose the hat.

SCORE!!!!!!!

GEORGE CLOONEY!!!!!!

Emmys

Oh, Lauren Graham is so pretty. But oy! That dress looks like maybe something you would put together for a bridal shower game if someone gave you a couple of garbage bags and said OKAY GIRLS!! YOU HAVE FIVE MINUTES!! HAVE AT IT!!

We love Betty White, don't we?

And a pie in the face? Still good for a laugh at this house.

YIKES!! It already started!

I was in the kitchen! Eating!

But now I just turned on the TV and see where MODERN FAMILY won an Emmy for writing? Was that it? In which case I am happy because THAT is a show that cracks me up. I'm especially fond of Gloria, and (actually) I do a pretty good Gloria imitation. "I PROMISE! I AM NOT A BAD DRIVER!"

Live-blogging: the Emmys

JUST realized the Emmys are tonight. I had so much live-blogging about the Oscars that I think I'll give the Emmys a shot this evening. This will give me something to look forward to as I endure various meetings in the morning.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bucket List

The column this week was about Bucket Lists, so Jimmy (the uncle who thought about relieving himself on my son in the name of medical science) wrote to ask what items were on my list. It's been fun to think about this. However, please don't feel like you have to read mine--go ahead and draw up your own list.

1. See the Northern Lights
2. Walk across England
3. Run a marathon (but not this fall)
4. Write a mystery for adults (maybe)
5. Take our kids and their spouses on a Baltic cruise like my parents did for my brothers and me. (Hopefully the guy sitting across the aisle from us won't die this time)
6. Tour the UK (including the Isle of Man) with Ken
7. Own a black pug and name him Misery
8. I know I should want to visit the Holy Land--just not sure that I really want to
9. Go to an actual Philadelphia Eagles game
10. Get a new wedding ring to replace the one I lost 30 years ago

You'll notice I didn't say PUBLISH a mystery. I tried to include things I actually have a leetle control over.

BONUS: If you haven't already, go on over to Sara Zarr's website (www.sarazarr.com) and read her recent post about writing careers. I loved what she said about writing and money. This has given me something really important to think about.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's amazing she doesn't weigh a ton--literally

So here's the thing about the Rodeo Queen (aka my mother). For most of her life she was a willowy, lissome lass. In spite of the fact she pounded back Hershey Bars and glasses of milk all the live long day like Snooki tucking into another margarita. She still loves to snack, which is why she had the following items in the car when she picked me up monday morning.

1. Hummus
2. Flatbread
3. Little sandwiches with cream cheese filling
4. Several boxes of Coffee Nips
5. Sees suckers in a HUGE plastic bag.
6. Multi-grain chips. Because you know. Multi-grain crap is good for you.
7. Lots of diet Cokes and (because she loves me) many Dr. Peppers. Cold. In a can. Shaken. Not stirred.

However, we made three stops before reaching Evanston (which is only an hour or so from Salt Lake) to buy more snacks so we could "keep our strength up." This is what we bought.

1. Corn nuts (ranch-flavored)
2. Dots (the last time I ate Dots was at a movie at the Academy Theater in Provo. I believe the years was 1965.)
3. Wasabi-flavored almonds
4. Farr's cherry mound
5. Farr's huckleberry mound (so we don't get in a rut with the cherry mound)
6. Peanut M & M's
7. Regular M & M's

Also, before we got out of Salt Lake we went through a drive-through and purchased smoothies.

I love my mother. So much.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Big Piney

I'm off to Wyoming for a few days with my mom (aka the Rodeo Queen) to visit our relation Ava. Ava is ninety. She still can do the splits and she loves a quick trip to Wendover when the weather and the Lord permits.

Meanwhile, my column in the d-news today is about going up in a hot air balloon but I didn't mention the best part, which is that when I was dangling 11,000 feet above the ground, I got a text from my dad. My dad! Texting!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Some summers are like that

It's just been a trying summer all around for our boy Geoff, a fact I was recently discussing with my brother Jimmy. So Jimmy and I reminisced about those moments on the beach in June when suddenly Geoff emerged from the ocean with blood spurting like a gieser from his foot because (of course! why not!) he'd been stung by a stingray.

(Interesting side note: Did you know that roving gangs of stingrays have been terrorizing beach goers all summer long in southern California? It's true! There have been online news stories about The Rogue Stingrays of La Jolla and everything!)

Anyway, because we're from Utah none of us knew exactly what to do about Geoff's foot. So we sort of stood around and wrung our hands and looked at the foot in stunned silence while poor Geoff felt like he was passing a kidney stone. Finally Jim said he'd read somewhere that if you ever get stung by a stingray, you should totally pee on the wound. So in addition to feeling stunned, all of us started feeling mildly uncomfortable--the way you always do when someone brings up the subject of peeing on someone else.

FINALLY I just said to hell with it. Let's take the boy to the ER. And if they pee on him there, then FINE. So we took Geoff to the ER. As you already know.

But here's the story's recent coda: Jimmy called the other day and said it turned out he was wrong. If you get stung by a stingray, he said, you should NOT pee on the wound. That's the real rule. DO NOT PEE ON THE WOUND! NO MATTER WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU READ BEFORE!

And then my fabulous brother made this very true observation: the only thing that could have made Geoffrey's summer worse was if his uncle had urinated on him in public.

So thank goodness we dodged THAT bullet.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peaches

Peaches are my favorite food. Which is why I bought six beautiful-looking peaches at a fruit stand here in the town the other day. But when I sliced one up last night I was STRICKEN to see that it was all pith. And things didn't improve when I popped that slice into my mouth. I have never ever eaten a worse peach. And I take that personally. DO YOU HEAR ME, UNIVERSE? I have graciously accepted a certain amount of bad luck over the past few years, BUT I WILL NOT STAND FOR PITHY PEACHES.

Anyway. I thought I could salvage them in a pie. My mistake, of course, was that I didn't bake a pie. I used Becky Thomas' muy famosa open faced cold peach pie recipe. And I served it at dinner last night. Guess what. Nobody--not even my Georgia peach peaching-loving daughter-in-law (she's from Georgia, get it?)--could eat it.

So then I gave it to the dogs. They ate the crust. And left the peaches untouched.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ten years ago today

So I have basically made a career (I think) of NOT telling people who my dad is, although I think everyone who reads this blog (thank you, I love you) knows that he used to coach football at BYU for a billion decades.

Anyway. I saw this article (see link below) in the D-news this morning, and it brought back a lot of memories. I got a call that other morning (ten years ago) from my dad saying he was calling a press conference to announce his retirement. That was the first I'd heard of it, because in truth the decision was a sudden one. I told Ken and the kids, and then I told my running partners Kathy and Sally while we sat on Kathy's porch listening to the birds and early morning sprinklers. For some reason I tried to do a cartwheel on the lawn and fell on my head. But I digress.

Later I drove to the stadium and went into the locker room with my mom and Dad's secretary, Shirley, where he broke the news to his players and a few of the sports guys from the papers. It was a very, very emotional moment--one of those times when you realize that life as you've always known had irrevocably shifted.

That last season was more painful than heady, although you can't complain about how it all ended that night in Rice Stadium. (My great friend Becky Thomas called that night, SCREAMING into the phone, saying, "WHO IS YOUR DAD'S SCRIPT WRITER?!" And then we decided if they ever made a movie out of his life, we voted for Gene Hackman to play my dad.)

As for me, I finally confessed that final season my lifelong desire to stand on the sidelines and watch a game up close and personal. My dad said why not? And why did you never ask before?

I can still hear helmets crashing, can still smell the scent of the field.

Here's the link to Jeff Call's piece.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The problem with . . .

. . . buying glasses is that if you're as blind as I am, you can't really see what you look like when you try on new frames at the glasses store. BECAUSE YOU'RE BLIND. You get the general idea peering at your blurry reflection in the mirror. But still.

Anyway. I decided I wanted my new frames to be kinda fun and funky, so I went to the glasses store, found a pair of red round rims and said to the optometrist "Sign me up." The new glasses arrived yesterday and okay. This is who I look like.

1. Linda Hunt
2. Myron Noodleman (google his name and you'll get the idea)
3. Possibly Al Franken

Also, I look mildly cross-eyed now and I'm all YES! I LOVE IT WHEN I LOOK CROSS-EYED. Who doesn't?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Could this be dementia?

First, a word to my son. I'm sorry you were traumatized by the thought of me cooing sweet nothings to your dad while also being a mummy in the bathtub. I'll send you therapy money along with that USU alumni magazine that's sitting on the table in the hallway.

And now a word about the state of my brain. We came up here to Deer Valley for the retreat on Thursday night. Naturally we brought suitcases. Heavy ones. But do you know that somehow I only managed to pack basically ONE OUTFIT? So I am dashing around day after day in the same black Nike dri-fit pants.

On the other hand, I did manage to pack five pairs of shoes, because you know how it is. Maybe you'll want to wear running shoes with those Nike pants. Or flip-flops. Or possibly that pair of Keenes you wore all over France last summer (your dad has the exact same pair). Or maybe you'll want to wear elegant little black flats you bought at Tar-jay one day whilst you were feeling fancy. OR MAYBE YOU'LL EVEN WANT TO WEAR BROWN CLOGS WITH THOSE BLACK NIKE DRI-FIT PANTS because nothing says, "Dude I am a freaking rock star" like a pair of brown clogs.

Worn, of course, with Nike dri-fit.

Friday, August 13, 2010

the opposite of prone , , ,

is supine. That's what I meant to say. I was lying SUPINE in the fancy tub, because if I were prone the mummy effect would not have been the same. Also it's hard to call your husband when your face is in the water.

fancy digs!

So Ken and I are staying up here at a tres fancy schmancy lodge in Deer Valley for his firm outing, and all I can say is that it's kind of weird to be lounging about in a room where the toilet costs more than ALL the fixtures in your own house combined. The bathtub is the most amazing bathtub ever. You know how bathtubs are in cheap motels (where I usually stay)--they're all super uncomfortable, designed so that you absolutely WILL NOT FALL ASLEEP IN THE BATH no matter what because that could be a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

But THIS bathtub is all long and luxurious. You can practically lie prone in it and feel comfortable. So I did that. I practically lay prone. And then I crossed my hands over my chest and closed my eyes and told my husband to come take a look at the mummy (moi) in a sarcophagus. A sarcophagus in the shape of a long and luxurious bathtub.

Also! I went up in a hot air balloon just like Dorothy and Toto! Like I always say, "To Kansas and beyond!"

Friday, August 6, 2010

Audio Books

I've said this before, but I've recently discovered the pleasure of being read to again--listening to audio books reminds me of elementary school days when you'd run around at lunch hours playing kissing tag (HERE I COME, BOYS!) and then you'd go in and have the teacher read to you for twenty minutes while you put your hot, sweaty little fifth-grade face down on your desk while breathing in the aroma of newly sharpened pencils and erasers and crap like that.

Those were the days!

Anyway, I just finished listening to a hysterical performance of QUEEN CAMILLA by Sue Townsend. The book was overlong, perhaps, but when it comes to the royal family no one brings it like Sue Townsend. WAY TO GO, SUE TOWNSEND! WHO'S YOUR DADDY?!

Now I'm listening to a David Baldacci thriller called SAVING FAITH, performed by your boyfriend and mine, Chris Noth (he of moody, broody LAW AND ORDER fame). I love me some Chris Noth but wow. When he tries to do the women's voices, I have to pull over, get out of the car, fall down on the nearest patch of grass and roll around while laughing hysterically. It's like watching all the football players dress up in drill team uniforms and do the jump splits during a pep assembly.

Thank you, Chris Noth. You've made me a happy, happy, happy girl.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Running

Well, the spine doc yesterday said exercise EVEN IF IT KILLS YOU is good for herniated body bits. So I did go for a short, slow run in the park this morning. How slow was I? Even the world's fattest weener dog on a leash passed me up. And it was WALKING. More like waddling. But still. I did it.

Also, I am in serious Writing Avoidance Mode. I have a deadline today and I haven't even started because you know. I'd rather blog or get beaten in a foot race by a fat weener dog in Liberty Park.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

If you want to run a marathon . . .

. . . then WHATEVER YOU DO, don't write a column for the D-news and blab the fact to the whole world (not that the whole world reads the D-news). Because, doll, if you do blab the fact, the Cosmos will make sure you wake up one day with a herniated disc. Hahahahahah and HA!

UNCLE!!!!!!!!!!! Also, bleh. Icing and taking massive doses of Aleve as we speak.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Something I already knew

Apparently I'm all about having to learn the same lessons again. And again. AND ALSO AGAIN. (Case in point: seriously do not let me drive your car anywhere because it'll just end up being towed.)

Here's the lesson I revisited this morning. A friend gave me a book to read by an author whom she loves because this author is so funny. And when I got online to read reviews, everyone raved about the author's sense of humor. So I read the novel with high hopes. And while I thought portions of it were amusing (and a lot of the book was really clever), the jokes kinda fell wide of the mark for me.

So. What do I take away from this? That I'm humor impaired? Or that all those reviewers are humor impaired?

Actually, I think the real point is that humor, ultimately, is super subjective. Not everyone loves the same funny cup of tea. This is a liberating thought for me personally, because sometimes when I write my column I feel the disapproval of readers who think I'm "annoying" as opposed to "entertaining." Reading the novel helped me gird up my loins and say (with feeling) "to each his own."

I'm always happy to hear about lessons you have to re-learn . . .

Monday, August 2, 2010

Home Again

And I'm missing that girl baby.

Mostly doing re-entry stuff today--washing, sorting through the mail, regretting all the bacon maple doughnut bars I ate. You know. My usual thing. I did, however, make the decision to not leave the channel on cable news all day now that I'm kind of out of the habit.

For years I've been a cable news junkie. In the interest of fairness I watched FOX in the morning and MSNBC in the afternoon. But then I got tired of all the blond anchorwomen in cocktail dresses delivering missives on the economy so I pretty much quit the FOX and watched MSNBC even though Chris Matthews talks over all his guests and Keith Olbermann appears to be a prize jackass.

But lately I've just had enough--enough bile and enough yelling and enough GLOOM--to last me a lifetime. Or at least a week.

I'm savoring the quietude.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Something you see a lot of in Eugene . . .

. . . are guys not wearing shirts. And I ask WHY? What is it about this place that makes men of all ages, sizes and shapes strip down to their pecs? Not a good look really. Most guys don't look like Matthew Mcconaughey or Mario Lanza with their shirts off. And the ones that do (including Matthew Mcconaughey and Mario Lanza) look vaguely narcissistic, you know?

Ken arrived yesterday to see the bambina. I'm happy to report he's kept his shirt on.

Had another Voodoo Doughnut this morning--the Voodoo Doll Doughnut with a pretzel stake through its heart. Because why not?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Something I'd forgotten

Babies are great when it comes to sucker punches.

To wit: you figure you'll get a lot of reading done because come on. Babies just sleep all the time. And they do. Kind of. Except you spend all your time watching them sleep. BECAUSE IT IS JUST SO ABSORBING.

To wit: I'll be taking home all those books (unread) that I brought to Eugene with me . . .

On the food front my daughter-in-law and I ate Indian yesterday. No bacon doughnuts for dessert, although I thought about it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The happiest place on earth . . .

. . . isn't D-land. It's Eugene! Why? Because random citizens come up to you and say, "Hey, Lady, would you like to hear a joke?"

This happened to me and my daughter-in-law yesterday. Naturally I said OF COURSE! Who doesn't love it when random citizens come up to you and say, "Hey, Lady, would you like to hear a joke?"

So here's the joke: "Why do mermaids wear seashells?"
ANSWER: "Because the D-SHELLS ARE TOO BIG!"

You're welcome.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Babies, airline food, and other topics of interest

My grandbaby's parents have made the decision they're not crazy about posting baby pictures on the internet right now and I'm good with that. However, if you'd like to e-mail me I'm happy to send pictures of Chloe and also my other granddaughter, Chloe's pug Leila. I have a great picture of Leila guarding my bacon doughnuts. My own dogs would have said seriously? You want me to guard bacon doughnuts? And then they would have snatched them off the plate and headed for the hills.

Meanwhile, I'm still here in Eugene where I have had ample time to catch up on celebrity gossip, including gossip about celebrities of whom I've never even heard. Like Bethenny Frankel, for instance. Apparently she's on the Real Housewives of New York. She's also just had a baby and also hates her mother. Also, she doesn't want us to eat airplane food. That's the bit I'm most interested in. Because as I've noted here before, I starve when I fly these days. There's no such THING as airplane food for mere mortals like me who fly coach. Apparently Bethenny is in the front end of the plane. Holding her baby. Hating her mother. Whining about the food.

Heard from my writer friend Chris Crowe who said he's churning out 2500 brilliant words a day. I need to get back to writing daily. And doing a word count. I want to feel productive again, you know?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Baby now

First, I promise yall that I'll figure out how to post pictures before I leave.

Second, I remember a column I wrote as a young mother wherein I noted that for every pound of baby you had ten pounds of baby equipment. Well, it's a different world. Now for every pound of baby you have about one hundred pounds of baby equipment. When I had babies, you had a crib, an umbrella stroller and a car seat and everyone called it good.

Now there are strollers and buggies and swings and carriers and car seats and private baby learjets. I love the buggies the best. They remind me of the 50's when my mom strolled my brother up and down our street in Holladay when I was a wee lass.

It's great to see your own children and their spouses be such wonderful parents . . .

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Here at last!

Eugene and grandbaby at last!

It took some doing to get here. My car (after squealing like a fourteen year old girl on a roller coaster) broke down out in the woods somewhere, which meant I had to be towed into town. The first bit of good news is that I totally bonded with another tow truck driver (this one is named Will) and I now have a pretty good idea about Oregon's gun laws which are looser than you might think. Get rid of Eugene and Portland and dude! Oregon is pretty much red meat!

The second bit of good news--GREAT news--is that at last I have held The Child. The lovely, butterball-y, pink-y, perfectly shaped lips-y, head-full-of-black-hair-y Child. Her parents are fantastic. It's fun to watch them make all the right moves. Carry on, fantastic parents!

I had the doughnut with bacon last night btw. I hate to say this but it was really tasty. Because. You know. Bacon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ta-da!

Bates Motel. And it LOOKED just like the old Bates Motel in PSYCHO. So maybe that was deliberate? But if so, is that the best of all possible advertising campaigns?

Meanwhile as I was flipping through the channels last night I noticed an opportunity to sign up for a summer recreational program called "Scuba Diving with Jesus." Who knew THAT was an option?

Oh. And I had a steak sandwich last night at a place called Meat Hook Steakhouse. I always love me a restaurant with the phrase "meat hook" in it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What I saw on my way to see the baby

So I was driving on Highway 20 through Oregon when I spied a super run-down dumpy motel, and can you guess what it was called?

Talk amongst yourselves and post responses . . .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Life motto

My grandbaby's dad just called with this question.

Son: What's your life motto, Mom?

Me: "I work hard to remember everything in my life by what I was eating at the time."

Son: That's not the motto I was thinking of. What else?

Me: "Everything tastes better with bacon on it."

Son: YES! That's the one.

And then he preceded to tell me that Voodoo Doughnuts has just opened shop in Eugene (my grandbaby's home) and that they serve a maple bar WITH BACON ON IT.

As if a baby weren't enough to put me on the Oregon Trail . . .

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kelly Marie Wells

My thoughts are with a friend who passed away this week. I used to work with her at the bookstore, and I loved her so much that I named a character in an (unsold) book about her. The following comes from an e-mail sent out by TKE to customers today. I imagine it was written by Betsy or Anne--it does a good job of capturing Kelly's beautiful, fey spirit. RIP, Kelly.


"Kelly Marie Wells, a bookseller at The King's English for several years, passed away on July 5 due to heart failure. She was 29 years old.

"Kelly was brilliant, kind, and utterly besotted by books. Many of you will remember her beauty and her sweetness, but those of you who love books will remember the wide range of her knowledge as well as her absolute passion for good novels - and for anything that was well written.

"During the time she worked for us Kelly had made a splash in the book business nationally, known for her fierce love of fiction and children's literature and for her enthusiasm for the business of books. We at The King's English mourn her passing. We miss Kelly and always will.

"A full obituary and details about the funeral, to be held on Saturday, July 10, in Park City, Utah, appear in the Salt Lake Tribune."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Queen for a century

I hope y'all got to see Queen Elizabeth appear before the U.N. yesterday (I am saying y'all a lot because we have a cute girl from Mississippi staying with us right now).

Anyhoo. Here's the deal. She trumped herself on the hat front which (after 8 decades of focused mad hattery) is an impressive feat. Her hat looked exactly like the my cousin's son's Alice in Wonderland wedding cake (it's true--theme wedding!) with jutting angles and skiwampus layers all draped with fondant. So yeah. Queen Elizabeth apparently was wearing fondant on her head yesterday in New York.

God save the Queen, I always say. May she live long and prosper and continue to delight earth's citizens with her improbable headgear.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The week in review

1. Had a grandbaby. Daughter-in-law was completely awesome about the whole thing.
2. Attended a gorgeous wedding for a much-loved neighbor and the boy of her dreams.
3, Ran.
4. Read.
5. Talked to friends and fam on the telephone.
6. Celebrated my mother-in-law's 90th birthday. Best mother-in-law ever.
7. Hung out with many nieces and nephews and may I say they are the best. AND they always manage to choose fantastic spouses.
8. Watched fighter jets fly overhead.
9. Saw the sun rise and set every day of the week.
10.Felt lucky to be alive. Most of the time.

Happy Fourth of July, friends.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fictionalizing for fun and for profit

First, thanks for your well wishes in re to Chloe Ann. They are much appreciated.

Second, I am starting to train for the St. George marathon. Right now I'm running in Liberty Park first thing in the morning and if it weren't for my iPOD I would be dead already from boredom. But I started a new diversion today. Every time I saw someone I tried to make up a beginning sentence of a novel about them. They're pretty lame. But at least it was something to do.

SENTENCE ABOUT THE LADY WITH TWO PIT BULLS: "A cop pulled up alongside Martha as she walked Gracie and George around the park and said, 'We've had a report that two dogs matching the description of these here animals were involved in an attack on the owner of the Shave Ice Sno-Shak."

SENTENCE ABOUT THE LADY WITH ONE DOG AND ONE BABY: "Her husband put down his coffee mug as she walked through the door and said, 'I want a divorce. You keep the dog. I get the baby.'"

SENTENCE ABOUT THE LADY IN A MINIVAN WITH A BUMPER STICKER THAT SAYS 'I LOVE MY CUB SCOUT': "Life had been good while her son was a cub scout. But then he became a Webelo."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Now appearing

My granddaughter, Chloe Ann Cannon!

She checked in after a c-section at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. She weighs this side of seven pounds. Her head is in the 95th percentile for her size. YES! SHE'S ONE OF US! (I had to wear a boy's hat to my high school graduation.)

La Familia de Cannon (the Eugene branch) is tired but doing fine. I plan to head on up there as soon as Randi's mom leaves.

Life is sweet.

Friday, June 25, 2010

POV and reality television

So when we were in So Cal this amazingly good-looking family rented the beach house next to ours. Like, they were movie star good-looking. And they spent a lot of time in skimpy swimwear talking about shopping and personal trainers and so forth. So I made the comment that it was like living next door to a reality television show--the Kardashians or something. Let me tell you we made merry with THAT idea.

And then one afternoon I looked at me, my sister-in-law, my daughter-in-law, and my niece sitting on the beach in our non-swimming suits as the four of us were knitting and I went, "And that family next door? They think they're living next door to the Duggars."

It's useful to have a shift in POV in life as well as in writing . . .

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chihuahua Trailer

Hey! So cute Julie Olson made this trailer for our Chihuahua book! I'm looking forward to seeing her in the flesh Saturday at the TKE launch party at 5:00!

Enjoy! While I figure out more ways to use an exclamation point!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How do I use this?

So we're back from an unusually eventful trip, including a go at the ER because Geoff got stung by a stingray. Not through the heart, obviously, like Steve Irwin. He'd be dead if that were the case and where's the fun in that?

Still. It got him in the foot and when he got out of the ocean I could see blood spurting like bloody Old spurting Faithful. It kept right on spurting until he joined us on the patio where we all stood around and watched it spurt some more because who in the hell knows what to do about stingrays if you're from stingray-free Utah?

Anyway. My brother finally put us in the car and we went to the San Clemente ER where they said stingray bites are SUPER painful. They loaded Geoff up with antibiotics and pain pills and told him to soak his foot in HOT water for 48 hours. Which he did. And now his foot is a prune.

It seems like there should be a column here right because what's a family for when you're a writer if not for exploiting purposes? But I can't figure out an angle.

You need an angle, folks, so it's not just an anecdote.

Friday, June 11, 2010

So Cal

We're on our way to Beach Week. I have a HA-YOOOOOOOGE pile of books I'm hoping to get through as I lie there (hopefully) in the sun (also hopefully). Not sure what my online life will look like. I'll say hey when I return, if not before.

Summer's here, folks. Let the bonne temps roulez. Or whatever it is they say in France.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

THE CHIHUAHUA CHASE

Lucinda sent me a quick note saying she had no idea that my new book is out. So here I am telling you all that my book is out! Julie Olson's illustrations are tres muy darling, and I'm so pleased with how the whole thing looks.

Along these lines, The King's English (15th South and 15th East in SLC) is having a launch party for us on June 26 at 5:00. Julie and I will briefly talk about the book and then there will be signings and chattings. Dogs are invited to attend. Should be a gas!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What not to put in your garden

So I spent the evening knocking doors for my sister-in-law who is running for the legislature, which gave me ample opportunity to study lawn ornamentation. One yard had a statue of bear cubs wrestling. Only to me it looked like a statue of bear cubs having sex. And it was disturbing.

MEMO TO SELF: AVOID LAWN ORNAMENTATION INVOLVING BEAR CUBS FROLICKING.

Okay. On the literary front, I went to TKE today and saw my new book THE CHIHUAHUA CHASE on display and I'll just say it right now--that cover by Julie Olson is completely irresistible. Well played, Julie Olson!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Also! Bonus reading update!

In the last two weeks, I read a new mystery called THE DROWNING RIVER by Christobel Kent. New Italian series along the lines of the Donna Leon books, although this is set in Florence. I liked it a lot, actually. Very atmospheric. Interesting characters. My main criticism is that it depends overmuch on coincidence to further the plot. I also realize I'm having this problem with a lot of mysteries these days--after all is said and done, the endings don't quite deliver.

Still. Read another mystery by the popular Nevada Barr who sets her mysteries in various national parks. Lots of my friends dig Barr's books, but I wasn't crazy about HIGH COUNTRY. It's a well-done thriller set in Yosemite but I guess it just wasn't my cup of tea. Didn't love the main character, Anna Pigeon.

AND I did read THE RELUCTANT WIDOW by my reliable go-to standby, Georgette Heyer. WIDOW falls into her "caper" category, which isn't my fave. I was kinda disappointed.

So yeah. It looks like I've been kind of a grumpy reader lately . . .

Oh how I wish

I could complain about airplane food.

Remember the good old days when we could all complain about airplane food? But now we can't. Because they don't feed you on airplanes anymore. Not even on a 4 1/2 hour trip across the country at dinner time. Which I know from personal experience because we just flew back from D.C. last night. I spent most of the trip fantasizing about the days when flight attendants brought you a little tray with a stone cold hard roll, a dish of lasagne so hot it invariably burned the roof of your mouth, a joyless little salad with some ranch dressing on the side, and a brownie. You could also get Ginger Ale if you wanted to.

Anyway. A meal like that gave you something to do for at least an hour of your journey. For twenty minutes you anticipated the moment when the attendants rolled their cart by your seat and served you dinner. For twenty minutes you ate that dinner. And then for twenty minutes after you bitched about how awful that dinner was. And then you only had 3 1/2 hours left on your endless, endless trip back from D. C. to Salt Lake.

Did I also mention there was no movie on board last night either? Or television? Or music for our listening pleasure?

When it comes to the flying, the Glory Days is Gone.