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


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.