Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Apparently I lied

. . . because here I am, not waiting to blog until after the New Year.  See, that's how we can get me to blog regularly.  Attempt to restrict me.  And then I'll just blog, blog, blog.

Anyway, I wanted to say that TRQ has been an absolute champ during this whole ordeal with the Coach.  She's been at his side non-stop, and at this point I am more worried about her than I am about him.  This morning she left the hospital at about 5:00 a.m.  She told me she wanted to go home and have a smoke.

Okay.  TRQ does NOT smoke.  But I love that she said this.  And if she wanted to take up smoking to relieve her stress right now, I would say carry on, TRQ.  You're the best.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

So, Dad's still in the hospital, but we have every reason to be optimistic.  Meanwhile, he is keeping us entertained.  The night after his surgery, my brother told him that a friend of his with the same condition dropped over dead while walking his dog.  My dad responded by saying, "I don't walk my dog."

Yesterday when I was in the hospital with him, he opened his eyes and said he'd just realized something important.  "What's that?"  I asked.

"The food here. isn't. that. great," he answered.

Today when a therapy dog wandered into his room to say hello, Dad said, "Therapy dog?  That dog's in therapy?"

We're grateful that he's hanging in there and that the prognosis is good.  Meanwhile, I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas.  I'll start blogging again after New Year's.  Thanks so much for reading and responding.  You bless me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The poodle and TRQ

Got word yesterday that the coach has to have himself some surgery for Christmas, so I spent yesterday in Provo and stayed overnight with TRQ.  She wanted me close so we crawled into her king-sized bed, along with the poodle.

There were three pillows.  My mother's.  My father's.  And a third pillow, which (I assumed) was for decorative purposes.  Anyway.  That was the pillow I wanted because it was a little plump, unlike my father's pillow which looked like a crepe.

So I took that pillow, whereupon the poodle gave me the hairy eyeball.

"Um," said TRQ.  "That's the poodle's pillow."

So I gave it back.  Because I do NOT mess TRQ's pillow.  Ever.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


You guys!  In the past few hours I have consumed

Chex Mix
Dr. Pepper
almond toffee
potato chips
homemade chocolates
caramel apple
garlic knots (m-m-m-m-m)
a banana (healthy!  What was I thinking?!)
pecan brittle
egg nog

I've been eating crap (not counting the banana) like it's my job, you guys.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stuff I am grateful for tonight

Yesterday over at, Lisa B., a professor, gave an update on her grading efforts.  And I said one of the things I am truly grateful for right now is that I'm not reading final exams.  Which led me to think about other things I am grateful for.  A short list follows.

1.  Cheese balls
2.  Christmas trees
3.  Beautiful children's picture books
4.  Ornaments made out of macaroni
5.  Frank Sinatra singing carols on that cd I checked out from the library
6.  Kids home from college
7.  Meals with friends
8.  Christmas lights
9.  Moonlight on snow
10. Heated car seats
11.  Grandbabies

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In retrospect

I've worried a little about Friday's post.  I meant in no way to compare my experience with what the tragedy in Newtown.  The event just triggered a memory about something I'd almost forgotten.

Here's to the beginning of another week.

Friday, December 14, 2012


As always I appreciate your comments, and yes I think I will make this whole idea--things I didn't know--into an ongoing series.  But today my thoughts are with the people of Newtown, Connecticut.

It seems like these things happen in spates.   Some of you may recall that the day before Columbine, the Church Office Building here in Salt Lake was the site of a shooting.  As it turned out, my mother was there on the same floor as the shooter.  As soon as she heard the first shot go off, she hit the floor face down, covered the back of her head with her hands, and counted off the rounds.  She stayed there until she and other patrons were led out of the building and taken to the Howard Johnson's nearby for safe-keeping.

This was in the days before everyone had cell phones, so we had no idea if TRQ was okay.  I knew that she'd been at the library.  I was supposed to pick her up later.  But of course the events of the day changed everything.  

I called Ken, who was working downtown and asked him to go find TRQ while I waited by the telephone at home.  He and a partner from work left the office and headed over to the Church Office Building to see what he could find out.  Meanwhile I contacted my dad,  who grabbed an assistant at the office and got up here as fast as he could.

We finally located TRQ a few anxious hours later.  She was shaken, of course, but safe.  As for me, I'll never forget those long moments of listening to breaking news on the radio and not knowing.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Things I Didn't Know, Part One

When I was growing up, I always had a cat and two dogs in bed with me.  We each had our assigned spots.  As I recall, I was allowed by the Pet Committee to occupy the northwest corner of the mattress where I slept in a compliant little ball.

Then one day I went on a semester abroad to London where I slept in a twin bed without pets.  And it was AMAZING.  And I did think to myself, "Who knew sleeping could feel like this?"

Tomorrow:  Things I Didn't Know, Part Two.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Did you know that every day during the month of December you can hear a FREE organ concert at the tabernacle on Temple Square?  They begin at noon and end exactly thirty minutes later, which is exactly how long my attention span lasts.  On a good day.  

Of course it's all Christmas music (except for a rousing rendition of "Come, Come Ye Saints") right now, which is fabulous, and fear not, ye friends o' mine who aren't Mormon.  No one will try to convert you, although people will be especially nice to you if they think there's a chance.

Anyway.  Ken and I went during his lunch hour last week, and I loved the experience, although I confess that I did nod off during "Come, Come Ye Saints."  When I opened my eyes during the song's Big Finish, the lights on the wall above the organ glowed pink and orange, just like the color of morning.

And you know what?  I was moved.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mayan Calendar

This morning when I first woke up I thought, dude.  I hope the Mayans were right.  It would be AWESOME if the world ended on the 2lst of this month.  I wouldn't have to worry about paying off my VISA.

But that's just my Winter Brain talking.  After all these years I know if I get up and start engaging with my day I'm gonna feel a LOT better in a hurry.  Which I did this morning.  I did my walk with Kathy and Nancy, and I took pleasure in the fact that I could smell the snow.

Seriously, I track my life with my nose and snow has its own scent--all peppery and sharp.  And it's enjoyable enough to me that halfway through my walk I was able to say, "BACK OFF, MAYANS" and really mean it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A moment

I haven't written since Tuesday?  Wow.  That's all I can say.  Wow.

It's been an interesting week, actually, full of small emotional moments.  The one I'm thinking about right now happened Thursday morning when I taught my Relief Society lesson at the rest home.  One of the residents--an elderly woman with Down's (someone at the care center told me she is the oldest person in the state with Down's)--always gets to say the closing prayer.  It's something she likes to do, something she looks forward to.

Anyway.  She didn't get to say it this time.  Someone else wanted a turn for a change.  And when Barbara realized she wasn't going to say the prayer, she started to weep like a little child.  Not a spoiled one--just one whose heart has been well and truly broken.  Barbara cried through the entire prayer.

After the prayer was over, a few of the residents complained and told Barbara she was a baby.  And, of course, I wanted to say, "Come on, you guys.  Give her a break."  But then I remembered that the care facility is the whole world of the residents and that the same dynamics we all experience in, say, an office setting or with extended family are at play there, too.

Which reminded me, of course, that no matter where we as human beings are--there we are.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Girl Baby at Christmas

Yesterday I babysat my 2 year-old granddaughter, and people I had a lesson plan.  Together we would
1.  make a star ornament
2.  decorate sugar cookies
3.  put candy canes on the Christmas tree
4.  mess around with holiday stickers
5.  read Christmas books
6.  create a snowmen diorama with cotton balls

And we did!  All six things!  In twenty minutes or less!  Because when you are a little whirlwind you do things fast!

Oh, Baby Girl, I love you so.

Monday, December 3, 2012

When eyeballs go south

So, first let me give Donna the Queen a big shout out.  After corresponding with one another for ten years or so, we finally met in real life last week. And she is as delightful and funny in real life as she is in her e-mails and posts.   Thanks, Donna!

While I was there in Vegas, I stayed with my brother Jimmy, who had a sign on his kitchen wall that said "Tommy's Birthday" to mark his son's big day.  But because my eyes have taken a turn for the worse, I thought it said, "Today's Bitchin'," which is actually an awesome life motto.  People should be cross-stitching "Today's Bitchin'" onto little pillows and throwing those "Today's Bitchin'" little pillows all over their couches, because that would help us to remember to keep it bitchin' whenever possible.

Good idea, right?  I'm in.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Princess of Music

So our chorister in Primary is awesome--so awesome that one of the little boys (he's 3) calls her "The Princess of Music."  I always love watching her in action, but I have never loved her more than today when she was teaching the kids a new Christmas song.

THE PRINCESS OF MUSIC:  Who can tell me what a stable is?

KIDS:  The place where Jesus was born!

THE PRINCESS OF MUSIC:  Fine.  What else is a stable . . . besides a place where deity is born?

Thursday, November 29, 2012


So I'm in Vegas for the day where I am (among other things) visiting my brother (the one who wears a dress) (see Trib column from a few weeks ago).  I took a little walk in the warm winter air and looked at the oleander shrubs, which triggered a memory.  I think I must have been about nine--at any rate, it was the first time our family drove to California.  Once we hit Vegas TRQ pointed out the oleander which was in full bloom.

"Those flowers are poisonous," she said.  "Don't eat them."

So I spent a fair amount of time in the backseat of our car, worrying about beautiful poisonous flowers.  What if I forgot my mother's warning and ate them by accident?  Or what if I didn't forget, but somebody slipped some oleander flowers in my food?   Would I even notice?  That I was eating flowers?  And why did God make poisonous flowers anyway?  Snakes and spiders were one thing.  But flowers?

Here was the scariest thought, though.  What if I WANTED to eat oleander flowers, just to see if they really WERE poisonous?  Because guess what.  I have a whole huge history of doing things specifically because people told me NOT to.   I am serious about this.  I once stopped at a grocery store and bought some grapes, which I didn't want, simply because there were people out front protesting with signs that said DON'T buy the grapes here.  (And you should know I am usually on the side of labor in these kinds of disputes.)

So far I've resisted about the flowers.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Diary

Here's another great entry written a few weeks after my thirteenth birthday:  "The last time I wrote [in this diary] I was twelve.  Now I am a teenager and confused."

I am here to bear witness that the confusion has NOT gone away.

Monday, November 26, 2012

When writers read

Do you ever have this experience?

Because I'll be working at the store during the month of December, I've been trying to catch up on newer titles and wow.  The experience has left me kinda depressed.  I KNOW.  I GOTTA STOP WRITING ABOUT BEING DEPRESSED--because actually I'm fine.  But here's why I say this about the reading part.

I get depressed half of the time because I think, "If THIS got published, why aren't all those manuscripts I have circulating right now getting published?!!!!!!!!"  (Feel free to insert more exclamation points here.)

The other half of the time I get depressed because I think, "I'll never be as good as this."  (Feel free to lie down and just say "uncle" right now.)   It all depends on the book, don't you know.

But on the bright side, it's been fun to discover I still enjoy books for young readers.  I was beginning to think that just wasn't the case anymore.  So YAY for that, I say!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Flowers for Algernon

You remember that story, right?  The one that got turned into the movie Charley.  Not the Mormon Charley.  The Cliff Robertson Charley.

Anyway, in that story a man who's intellectually challenged gets an operation and turns all smart.  But then the smartness fades away, which caused you and your friend Gigi Ballif to sit in the movie theater as seventh graders and sob and sob and sob.

I feel a little like Charley right now.  On the brain front, for sure.  But also on the eye front.  This time last year I had cataracts removed and telescopic lenses inserted.  And I will never forget the feeling of opening my eyes first thing in the morning and SEEING MY CLOCK.  I haven't done this since, oh, the fourth grade.  But suddenly my vision isn't as good as it was.  I have that floater/possible retina thing going on in the right eye and the left eye is kind of filmy.

I can still see OBV.  And I can definitely see well enough, something I am very very very grateful for.  But after having a brief taste of seeing awesomely I am . . . a little disappointed.

Oh.  Well.

Monday, November 19, 2012

When the lack of the letter "t" makes something even more hysterical

Clever reader and good friend Radagast noted that I left out a crucial "t" in the post below.  Can you see where?  (Although I find the lack of this particular "t" makes me pretty happy!)

Well now HERE'S a surprising thing I found in my diary when I was reading it last night

I'm referring to the diary I kept when I was 12.  Apparently my parents were on the road, which prompted this outburst:  "I wish Mom was here.  I need to talk to her.  All his sex business is getting me down."

Okay, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I WAS REFERRING TO when I wrote that.  Trust me.  I was NOT precocious on this front.  I think I was still mostly riding my bike around the neighborhood, pretending it was horse.  Here's the advice my adult English teacher self would give to my (apparently) distraught 12 year-old self:  "This is too vague and also 'awk.'  Details, Sweetheart.  Details."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why little boys crack me up

The Sunbeam teachers didn't show up for Primary today, so the president, Steph, and I took the class of 3-4 year olds, and improvised.

One of the things we did was to sing "Once There Was a Snowman."  You know how it goes . . .

Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman,
Once there was a snowman--tall, tall, tall!
In the sun he melted, melted, melted,
In the sun he melted--small, small, small!

Awesome!  I can hear you singing from here!  Anyway, half-way through one of the "melteds," two little boys in the class started singing, "In the sun he mel-POOED, mel-POOED, mel-POOED."  And then they collapsed in helpless laughter.

And seriously?   I wanted to, too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In the company of very old women

When I was little I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and her sisters Bea and Blanche.

Bea and Blanche were Reverse Doppelgangers, photo negatives, opposites.  Bea was always a HEY-THE-GLASS-IS-HALF-FULL-AND-IMA-GONNA-DRINK-IT-AFTER-WHICH-IMA-GONNA-DRINK-YOUR-GLASS-TOO!  And Blanche was all, "Why should I bother to drink a glass that's half-empty?  I'd rather just die of starvation anyway."

Anyway.  For some reason I was talking about these sisters to Kathy this morning on our walk, and I told her about Blanche's reaction when she met Philip (who was a newborn) for the first time.  She looked at him and said, "They come into this world and they go out of this world."  Then she shuffled off to Buffalo.  Wearing a robe.  Because that's the main thing I remember about this conversation.  She was sitting in TRQ's living room wearing a robe even though it was the middle of the day and she didn't live at our house.

Why was she wearing a robe?

Isn't life mysterious?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!

That's some straight-up King Lear for y'all today.

Meanwhile, I tried to post a picture of leafy sidewalks (the winds have been blowing and cracking all morning), but it keeps coming out sideways.  Lisa B!  I need a tutorial!

Anyway, as I was raking leaves I thought about the things I'm grateful for (it's November, you know) that I wanted but didn't get.   Like sisters.  Daughters.  And a bigger yard.

 I always fantasize about having a Tasha Tudor type spread with lovely old-fashioned gardens everywhere.  In the spring I would fill them with daffodils, Lenten roses, hyacinth, tulips, peonies, peonies, peonies, and lily-of-the-valley.  Summer?  Cosmos, daisies, roses, phlox, and red daylilies, of course.  And come fall those gardens would explode with asters and anemones.

But when it comes right down to it, my little garden keeps me busy enough w/o overwhelming me.  That's something to be grateful for, right?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ugh. Facebook.

Seriously, don't you wish the day after an election that facebook had never been invented?
That is all for today.  Meanwhile, keep the St. George suggestions coming!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This is for Jake

. . . because he is kind enough to read my blog regularly.

Jake wrote to ask if I could recommend some St. George awesomeness.  (Emma?  Are you reading this?  I need your help!)  He'd like to know what to see and do (and eat) in St. George because he'll be spending some time there soon, and since I go there often, he figured I would know.

But here's the problem.  When I go to St. George, I don't do anything but eat wings and watch whatever game happens to be in season on TV.  I also sit in a hot tub.  Occasionally I'll go get a hamburger at In-n-Out and rhubarb pie at Croshaw's, but that's about it.  In other words, I slip into a mild coma when I do St. George.

So I need your recommendations here, people.  Restaurants!  Hikes!  Activities!  Help my friend Jake, okay?

Monday, October 29, 2012

TRQ is nothing if not surprising

This is the phone conversation I just had with TRQ.

TRQ:  Hey.

Me:  Hey.

TRQ:  You know where we should go the next time I'm in Salt Lake?

Me:  Where?

TRQ:  That cigar store.

Me:  (surprised on several fronts--a) that she wants to go to a cigar store and b)  that she also assumes I know which cigar store she means, as if she and I were having a previous conversation about cigar stores in Salt Lake that was interrupted, possibly by my father who wanted to know what he should do with the ironing he just finished)  You want to go to a cigar store?

TRQ:  Yes.

Me:  Why?

TRQ:  Remember?  That guy at the Cinegrill told us you could buy Sen sens there.

Sometimes . . . there are just no words.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Good news for now!

Thanks, you guys, for your nice comments.

I spent some time at the doctor, who told me that the retina has not detached (yay!) . . . yet (boo!).  Actually, I'll probably be fine.  Most people get "floaters" and "flashes" as they age.  AGING!  WHAT AN ADVENTURE!  I just have an extreme case of it.  However, the onset was a little dramatic.  Also, he said, people who have had cataract surgery and who are as near-sighted as I am have a twenty times greater chance of having the retina issue, so we are in observation mode for now.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Elder Cannon and TRQ

Here's the phone call TRQ and I had yesterday.

TRQ:  Q called me from LAX yesterday.

ME:  Awesome!  What did he say?

TRQ:  That he would watch out for spiders on the airplane.

ME:  He did?

TRQ:  Yes.  I like a boy that listens.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A brief non-encounter at SLC International

Q. left the MTC this morning and arrived at the airport around 8 a.m.  He requested (wisely, I think) that we not be there.  But as it turned out, I had to give my friend Stephanie a lift to the airport at about the same time.

I handed her off a bag of cookies (awesome gingersnaps btw--my secret ingredient is a little chili powder, in case you're interested).

"Give this to Elder Cannon if you should run into him.  Which I doubt you will."

Moments later, as I was heading for I-80, Stef called and said, "Q. was the first person I saw when I walked into the airport.  And he looks great."

"Tender mercy" is a phrase that is overused in Mormon culture these days.  Still.  That's how I felt about this morning's events.  My boy saw a familiar and loving face as he embarked on his great adventure, which meant the world to him.

And to me, too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Here's What I Learned Today from TRQ

TRQ:  Did you hear about the poisonous spiders?

ME:  Which ones?

TRQ:  The ones that hide beneath the toilet seats on airplanes.

ME:  There are spiders on airplanes now?

TRQ:  Yes.  And when you sit down they bite you right there on your bottom.

ME:  Ouch.

TRQ:  Yes.  And then you die.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Have a little faith

I've been working on another YA off and on and off and on and mostly off but sometimes on.  I asked myself why it was taking me so long to get it done.  Haven't I written books before?  And didn't I write those books when I was chasing after five maniac boys and teaching a little here and bookselling a little there and just generally living my life at full tilt?  So why haven't I been more productive now that I have more of the life I used to fantasize about--at least where the writing part is concerned?

Here's what I realized.  I was finding all kinds of ways not to work on the novel because I was (am!) afraid.  What if this just turns out to be another manuscript that no one wants to read, let alone publish?

Well.  It might end up being that.  But that's no reason to stop.  It really isn't.  There are legitimate reasons to walk away from writing, but fear isn't one of them.

So I ran off what I've got and read through it and discovered that it is, in fact, a hot mess.  And if it were set in the south, then it would be a hot southern mess.  But lo and behold!  There are parts of it that are pretty darn good.  And I do think I see a shape, a direction, a point.

It was a good reminder that sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and hope the river currents below will carry you along kindly.

Friday, October 12, 2012

UGH. It's that time of year again . . .

when all I want to do is (you've heard it here before) to fall face forward in a trough of Mexican food and eat myself into a bean-and-cheese-induced coma.

Help me, Obi Wan Kenobe.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What they don't know won't hurt them

Beginning writers often ask me if people's feelings are hurt when they show up (disguised as a character) in my books.  I tell them no.  Why?  Because while people are good at recognizing other people, they never recognize themselves.

Case in point.

When I wrote CAL CAMERON (a million years ago and on another planet), I modeled Cal after my youngest brother, which everyone who knew our family recognized.  However, when Jimmy finally read the book, he was concerned that our brother John--JOHN-- might resent being fed whole into the word processor.

See what I mean?

So today's writing advice is this:  feel free to exploit your loved ones for fun and for profit.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Unfriending me on fb

Today while I was going through my g-mail e-mail, I saw this ad posted to the side (which, BUGS ME ABOUT G-MAIL!  Stop reading my g-mail, G-MAIL!  Who are you?  Big G-Brother?)

Anyway.  The ad.

"3 people unfriended you!  Free FB tool that shows you who unfriended you!"

Really, my jaw dropped.  And clanked loudly on my desk.  Which hurt a lot, actually.  But whatever.  That's not the point.  The point is this--what would I even do with information like that?  Send my new UnFriends snotty notes during fourth period biology class?  Get all the rest of my friends to give my new UnFriends the silent treatment during lunch hour?  Bully my UnFriends until they're begging to be my friends again so that I could turn around and UnFriend them?  In other words, are we all still in the seventh grade?

I didn't act like that then (at least I'm pretty sure I didn't), and I don't think I'll start up now.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A post mortem

So.  The race.

First, the upsides.
1.  I finished.
2.  The weather was gorgeous.
3.  Ken and Geoff were there to cheer me on.
4.  My dad put a medal around my neck at the end.
5.  I can cross that mother known as "marathon" off my bucket list.

Next, the downsides.
1.  I finished--in the top 90% of my age group.
2.  Go ahead.  Read that again.
3.  In other words, I finished in the bottom 10% of my age group.
4.  This bothers me.
5.  Which means I am more competitive than even I thought I was.

Will I run another marathon?  Probably . . . not.

Am I glad I did it?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Loved being in that canyon for almost the whole damn day.  Still seeing sage blooming gold in my mind's eye two days later.

Friday, October 5, 2012

So I'm heading out the door soon to St. George where I will PARTICIPATE in the annual St. George marathon.  Notice how I said PARTICIPATE!  ALL IN CAPS!   If I said "where I will RUN in the annual St. George marathon," that would have been setting the bar way, way, way too high.

Meanwhile, here's this week's column.  Regular blog friends will recognize the subject matter.

Have a happy weekend.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm not going to post this on facebook

Because I don't want to listen to people's political rants right now.  But it's been perversely entertaining to switch back and forth between MSNBC and Fox to listen to the Talking Heads.  Everyone on Fox is acting like they! just! got! invited! to! THE! PROM! BY! THE! COOLEST! BOY! IN! THE SCHOOL!.  Everyone on MSNBC is acting like they just got home from a funeral.

Tune in (if you can stand the noise) and you'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why I am Happy I Live in the Year of Our Lord, 2012

Because I can watch football.

I seriously think 100 years from now there will be no more football.  And, in fact, people will look back at football the way we look back at gladiators.  Or those Mayans who played lacrosse with real heads.  Or whatever.  Really?  People will say to each other?  People actually played football?  AND WATCHED IT?!!!  How barbaric!

But I love to watch it.  So much.  So, so, so much.  And I will keep watching it until I die, along with drinking soda until I die, although I may be forced in a few years to stand 20 feet away from all public buildings while doing so.  Watching football.  And drinking soda.  And drinking soda while watching football.

Monday, October 1, 2012



That's what I alway say when a person decides to re-read a childhood fave.  Like, I LOVED Little Women for years and years and years.  Jo March inspired me to grow up and write and have only sons.  But when I re-read that book for the first time as an adult (about 15 years ago), I was sooooo disappointed.  It's just blah blah blah one Sunday School lesson after another and Marmee Dear is seriously no fun at all.

I've talked about this here before, right?  So now not only am I repeating myself in real life, I'm repeating myself on my blog.  There is no hope for me.  None.


I ignored my own advice and have been listening to HEIDI, and I'm still enchanted.  Yes, the child Heidi is too good to be true.  Yes, the governess (aptly named Frauline Rottenmeier) it too mean to be true.  And yes, there are little moral lessons lurking everywhere.  Also, I have to laugh whenever the reader (a man) does his Heidi voice, especially when he does his Heidi voice when Heidi is talking to the goats.

"Oh, don't bleat so little Schneeflocke!"  

But the love of the natural world and all its beauties is so real, so profound in that little book that I want to be there on the mountainside drinking milk and eating cheese with Heidi and Peter--just like I did when I read that book as an eight year-old girl.  Kind of nice.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

And so it begins

The end of a certain part of family history, that is . . .

Today TRQ told me and my sister-in-law Becky over lunch that the nuns' house where we have stayed for years on Capistrano Beach is being sold.  We'll never stay there with our families again.  And the truth is that whoever is buying it will tear it down and build a Kardashian-type home.

The funny thing is that the whole time we were there this summer, I had the strongest feeling that this would likely be our last time in that house together, which made me deeply sad.  Because you know that's how I like to do sad.  Deeply.

As it turned out, we didn't have enough beds, so I spent most of the week sleeping in the courtyard under the stars, listening to surf pound beneath a waxy moon.  I let the all of it--the sounds, the smells, the sights-- settle in my pores so I could remember.

All good things must.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


So last night when I was working at TKE, a mother and her fourth-grade daughter asked if I would help them find books by a local author because the daughter has been assigned to study one of my kind.  Of course I immediately started pulling out books by Shannon Hale and Jessica Day George, but Margaret (bless her) said, "Give her some of your books."

The mother was immediately interested.  An author!   Right here, right now!   The daughter, on the other hand, looked at me like I was possibly trying to scam them both.

I gave them THE CHIHUAHUA CHASE and said it was about chihuahuas being kidnapped in Salt Lake, which suddenly sounded pretty stupid to me, too.  The daughter was unimpressed.  So I gave her CHARLOTTE'S ROSE.  The mother said her daughter loves historical fiction.  I brightened.

"This is like LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE!"  I gushed.

The daughter eyed me.  "I hate LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE," she said.

In the end her mother made her buy CHARLOTTE.  And hopefully she'll like it better than LITTLE HOUSE.  But the whole experience was a good reminder to me that the more enthusiastic adults get when trying to sell a kid on a particular book, the less likely a kid will want to read it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Okay.  If you walk into a store five minutes before closing time and the employees are nice to you, you should know they're only faking it.  I know.  They should be happy for your business.  And yeah.  The Customer is King.  But in their hearts they are secretly wishing you had never been been born, because you are (in all likelihood) preventing them from getting home in time to watch the season premiere of CASTLE.

Last night at the store, Sally and I got a phone call from someone who said HE'D BE RIGHT THERE.  This was at 8:45, which did not make us happy.  What if he showed up after nine?  Would he expect us to still be there?  Should we still be there?  The answer is yeah, we probably would have waited--which is why we were relieved when he showed up minutes before closing time and headed straight for the shelves.  He was a man on a mission.  We wouldn't have to wait around for long, because he knew precisely what he wanted--which turned out to be THE TWO TOWERS by Tolkien.

I recognized the look on his face.  He had discovered LOTR, and he could not wait until morning to resume his adventures in Middle Earth.  The same thing happened to me when I was sixteen on a sunny summer afternoon in southern California.  I picked up THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and (much to my surprise) tumbled headlong into its pages.

I envied the customer and wished I could be taking that journey for the first time all over again.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Soda: the New Smoking

I may or may not write a column about this.  But I am interested in what a lightning rod soda (i.e. "pop," if you grew up in Utah) consumption has become.   The snarkiest comments I get from readers often involve my Dr. Pepper habit.  Because I drink soda I am, in some people's eyes, an obese white trash loser of flabby moral character who abuses children and destroys rain forests whenever I get the chance.   And it seems like the more progressive a person's politics are, the more likely he or she is to feel this way.  INTERESTINGLY.

And you know what my response to this is?  Pass me another can, honey.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Checking in

I know.  I've been MIA.  I promise to be better this week.  Meanwhile!  Column!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gone Girl

I just read a novel that has gotten a LOT of buzz--GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn.  Co-workers at TKE have liked it, and I raced through 3/4 of the book, completely gone on it.  I was like, you know, a gone girl.  Flynn is a truly accomplished writer and a slick plotter.  But the last 1/4 of the book was so disturbing in its implications and (even) execution, that I started wishing I could rinse my brain out with mouthwash after I finished it.

Has a novel ever affected you that way?  Left you with images you wish you could get rid of?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Column, game, and other things

Well, I woke up with one of those dark clouds like you see in cartoons raining over my head.  So clearly I still care about that damn game more than I thought I did.  I am always amazed at how much power the (wide, wide) world of sports has over moi.

Meanwhile.  Yesterday's column.  I like this one, I think.  I had another idea, but then something about the light this past week triggered a really intense series of memories about that time I was sick.

As I've gotten older, I think about that time from my parents' POV more often.  My dad had a brand new high-pressure job at BYU.  My mom just had a brand new baby.  They had just moved into a new home in a new neighborhood (and you have to understand TRQ often said she'd rather be trampled by wild horses than move to Provo).  And then they made my dad a bishop on campus.

I seriously do not know how they kept it all together.

Okay, I know I said this was going to be about the column, the game, and other things.  But, actually, there are no other things at the moment.  So yes, I did deceive with that title.

Have a good rest of the weekend, everyone.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wait. There's a game this weekend?

Is it possible that Ann Cannon's brain--the brain that used to get her into shouting, swearing and (sometimes) spitting contests at BYU games--has been sucked from her skull by a gang of brain-sucking aliens?  Is that why she's all, there's a game this weekend?

How is it possible that I don't care very much anymore about this rivalry?  Hello.  I was the girl who for years and years and years used to flip off Rice Stadium every time I drove past it in much the same style that Bret and Jermaine flipped off the Australian Embassy in Flight of the Conchords.  I didn't care if my kids were watching md.  In fact, I rewarded them with trips to 7-11 for Slurpees if they did the same.

I know!  I have super awesome mothering skills!

But now?  Wow.  I mean I still hope BYU wins, but I hate what all the conference shifting (which is driven totally by money) has done to this rivalry.  And (actually) to BYU football itself.  I wasn't totally happy when we left the WAC for the MountainWest conference.  But I got used to it.  And at least there was a conference title to play for.  But this independent thing?

It just ain't working for me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Louise Plummer

A college friend once told me she hated that JFK had been assassinated on her birthday.  She could never get through the day (still can't) without seeing (again) that fateful footage out of Dallas replayed on the evening news.

I've never asked her, but maybe Louise feels the same way about 9/11.  And so instead of talking about that terrible tragedy, I'm just going to wish Louise a happy birthday and thank her for being an all around great broad.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, TKE!

The King's English turns 35 today.  I know!  Hard to believe!

I've been associated with the store off and on since the late 80's when Betsy (I think on a whim) said, "Hey, do you want to work for us?"  And I said yes!  Didn't even think twice about it.  It was sort of like that time I (on a whim) asked the manager of the Provo Taco Time if she was hiring, and she said yes, and I said, "Well, okay then.  I'm your girl!" because I thought I could get free tacos that way.  True story!

Anyway.  The first day I went to work, Betsy asked me to make the coffee.  And because I admired Betsy like crazy and I was also a little intimidated by her, I didn't say, "My people have all kinds of desirable skills--we can feed hordes at the drop of a hat, set up and take down for weddings, give talks, handle a glue gun like trained Navy Seals, pick cherries at a Welfare Farm, can salsa, and love our neighbors.  HOWEVER.  Many of us are fairly inexperienced on the coffee-making front."

That's what I should have said.  But I didn't.  Instead, I pulled the I'm-gonna-bluff-my-way-through-this-one card.

So I ran around looking like all busy while secretly trying to intuit my way around a coffee machine.  What's this white cup thing?  I wondered?  And where does the actual coffee part go?  And now that I think about it, where is the actual coffee?

After awhile, I realized Betsy was looking at me with this expression that I can describe as amused horror.

"You don't know how to make coffee, do you," she said finally.  And I confessed.  But I told her that I've always like the way it smells.  Because that counts, don't you know.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ken reminds me

. . . that I'm 56!  Not 57!

(See post below.)

And all I can say is that apparently in my mind 56 is the new 57.

Which reminds me--I think I'll maybe write a column dealing with the good/bad things about your fifties in honor of Jimmy's b-day coming up this weekend.  I'd be happy for you all to share your wisdom.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Here's something I'll probably never do again

. . . besides have another baby.  Although I DID have a dream not long ago wherein I discovered I was pregnant.  And I was all, BUT I'M OLD.  And then I was all, oh well!  Babies are awesome!  And then I was all, why am I talking like a teenager?  I'm 57 and pregnant, for hellsake.

Still, it turned out to be an oddly happy dream.

That, however, is not where I meant for this to go.  I meant to say I'll probably never train for another marathon, which is something I'm doing right now.  I got into St. George, which I did once before.  So I wrote a celebratory column about the fact for the desnews and that very week, I hurt myself and couldn't run in the damn thing.  Possibly I'll hurt myself again now that I've gone public.  We'll see.

The point is that running a marathon is a thing that's been on my Bucket List forever, and I'm grateful I (finally) (at my advanced age) have the opportunity to (possibly) cross it off the old B.L.  But I'm seriously wondering now about people who have done this over and over.  Training takes a lot of time!

And also it hurts.  After I do a long run, I spend the rest of the day feeling like I'm walking around on bloody little stumps, fantasizing about getting a pedicure, only I can't.  Because you know.

I have stumps.  Instead of feet.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our Granddaddy the Bootlegger

Just got this in an e-mail from my brother Jimmy:  "Lorri and I saw Lawless this weekend. It was a pretty good movie. Interesting. I had relatively recently heard that Grandpa Covey drove moonshine during prohibition. Have you heard that too? I told the boys, and they immediately thought that was cool. Irwin Covey was strongly trending around our house Saturday afternoon."

The answer is "yes," I'd definitely heard about Granddaddy's moonshining days in Wyoming during "pro-hi"  (he pronounced it "pro-high")  while I was growing up.  He didn't have a still himself (our grandmother would have slapped him silly and then slapped him some more) but he did shuttle the "before" (grain) and the "after" (booze) to various locations.  He used to say that one of the still operators always greeted him with, "Thanks for the grain, Skinny.  I got me some hungry chickens here."

Friday, August 31, 2012

A new kind of bagel

The other night at the Bees Baseball Game, our two year-old granddaughter suddenly became focused on my girls.

I'll bet you didn't see THAT coming, did you?

Anyway, she started calling them "bagels," which amused us all and (of course) gave a whole new meaning to the word.  And when the evening was over, her mother told her, "Don't worry, Honey.  One day you'll have bagels, too."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What do you think?

So everything I hear and see on the radio/TV is making me cry this morning.  The news that babies are born addicted to painkillers.  That story about the Puerto Rican delegate at the RNC who was interrupted by chanting on the floor.  The realization that MSNBC has become as big a joke as Fox on the news front.  The knowledge that Paul Ryan and I have both Led Zeppelin and AC/DC on our playlists.

What do you think, people?  Time for me to break out the Celexa again?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I Meant to do Today

1.  Put back together the upstairs guest room after Ken's heroic effort to re-floor (looks awesome!).
2.  Write 1000 words on my novel.
4.  Write Q. a letter.
5.  E-mail a couple of friends to say I miss them.
6.  Avoid watching the RNC on TV.
7.  Deadhead some roses.
8.  Throw away old melons still hiding in my fridge.
9.  Go to The Body Shop (I think that's what it's called--the one that isn't Bath and Body.  Or Bed, Bath and Beyond.)  ANYWAY.  To buy some coconut body lotion.
10.  It's just really confusing to have so many stores with the words "bath"and also "body" in the name, don't you agree?

This is what I did instead.
1.  Napped.
2.  Ate brownies.
3.  Ate more brownies.

Yes.  It has been an awesome day and I do not say that ironically.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

True Love

So Ken had knee surgery last Thursday and dude's on crutches for six weeks.  This, of course, has changed both of our lives.  There's a lot he can do for himself--and he does--but there are some things that are just really complicated, so then I take over.

Which is easier said than done.

This morning, for example, we stopped at Sinclair on his way to work to fill up the car.  I hopped out and went about my business when SUDDENLY he poked his head out the window started telling me how to pump gas.  I just stared at him.  And in my Wordless Stare there were many Wordless Sentences spoken, such as:

"Do you know how long I have been pumping my own gas, Buster?"

"Where are you usually when I pump my own gas?  NOT WITH ME."

"How do you think my car gets filled week after week?  By the gas fairies?"

The Wordless Stare had the effect of making him pull his head back in the car (like a turtle) and keep his mouth shut.  Meanwhile, one more Wordless Sentence went through my head:  "In spite of what just happened here, I love you anyway."

Friday, August 24, 2012


. . . for your kind comments the other day.  Putting Q in the MTC was hard.  I appreciated your support.  Meanwhile, lookee here.  This week's column!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Going, going and the long good-bye

So Q. takes off for the MTC tomorrow.


I am so proud of him.  I also think this is a good decision on his part.  But I just have this anxious, heavy, sour cloud hanging over me right now--have had it following me around consistently for the better part of the month, actually.  There's just this ongoing awareness that everything we do is the. last. time. we'll. be. doing. this. for. two. years.

Here's what I know after sending off other boys.  They return.  But they never truly come back home.

I'm so gonna miss that kid.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

We saw this the other night at the Broadway.  I expected to enjoy it, and I did.  But then of course I would like anything that looks like a Cohen Brothers movie and a Wes Anderson (who, in fact, wrote and directed Moonrise) movie got together and had a baby.  Which is exactly how this movie felt.

What interested me is how much Q. and Geoff liked it.  It is very stylized and more than a little absurdist.  But Geoff summed things up by saying that movie somehow managed to capture how it feels to be a young adolescent male.

Did you see it?  And what did you guys think?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Some more living out loud with Ken

I've mentioned before that one of the things I relish about Ken is how he's always having shouting matches with people on TV.  Like, he'll hear a pundit say something about a candidate on MEET THE PRESS and he'll go, "YEAH, RIGHT!"  or "YOU HAVE FREAKING GOT TO BE KIDDING ME" or "AS IF."

It's just a non-stop conversation.  Which (I learned this morning) he can even do in his sleep.

This morning at 5:00 a.m. I awoke to my clock radio with the announcer saying that Melky Cabrera has been suspended for 50 games because he tested positive for testosterone (?!)  (Hell, don't they all?)  (Not the point, however.)

The point is this--even though Ken Cannon was sound asleep, he mumbled, "What were you thinking, Melky buddy?"

Hard not to love that guy, right?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My wish for you

. . . is that one day you have a lovely friend ask if you wouldn't mind driving her to the town you grew up in and share the memories of what it felt like to be a kid there.

After many months (years) (possibly decades) of trying to arrange this little day trip, Lisa B. and I finally headed south to Provo where we discussed The Edgemont Years in which I rode bikes and ran through foothills covered in long burnt grass.  She listened to me with every bit of herself.  And then she told me growing up stories, too.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I thought last night's final episode was quite satisfying, didn't you?  And I'm happy that the supporting cast--because that's where the true joy of the show has been for me--is sticking around for MAJOR CRIMES, which I want to like.

But last night's MAJOR CRIMES premiere episode felt . . . plodding.  It would be a tough act to follow the finale of such a beloved show.  I get that.  And I do like the Sharon Raydor character and want her to succeed.  But I'm wondering if a by-the-book character can drive the action enough to keep us interested.  Americans love a maverick!  Except if you're me and the maverick's name is Sarah Palin!  But whatever!  That's not the point.

Anyway.  Your thoughts?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Discouraging news on the YA front

So Geoff is interested in reading (also re-reading) some YA fiction right now.  He prefers contemporary realistic fiction in the vein of Chris Crutcher's fabulous RUNNING LOOSE.

Anyhoo.  When I was at the library today I went into the teen room to grab some (possible) titles for him, and to my dismay nearly all the books were WAAAAAAY more girl-friendly than guy-friendly.  And what guy-friendly titles there leaned toward the sci-fi/fantasy vein, which Geoff doesn't care for.

It may be a man's world still in many ways.  But it just ain't when it comes to YA fiction.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Here's this week's column  As you know, I feel strongly about the topic of mental illness.  I appreciate NAMI's efforts to put information (and some hope!) out there.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Here's what I miss . . .

about walking across England.

Yes.  It was wet.  And yes.  It was hard, in spite of the marvelous company.  It was sort of both awesome and awful at the same time, you know?

Still.  There was something so wonderful, so pure about the simplicity of it all.  You woke up knowing that all you would do that day was walk.  You didn't have to go to the store, answer the phone, respond to e-mails, clean the house, do your job.  You just walked 12 miles.  And then you ate a good meal and went to bed.

You couldn't spend your whole life doing that, I suppose.  But it was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When old people text

I'm talking about the TRQ and me.  We were trying to set up a lunch date.  She was at home, and I was sitting in the passenger seat of a car while Alec drove.  Here's how our conversation went.

ME:  What are your days like next week?

TRQ:  Open every day except Wednesday.  Appointment.

ME:  Sounds good.  I'll look at my calendar.

TRQ:  Who's driving?  xoxox

ME:  Me.

TRQ:  HAHAHAHAHA.  Please tell me it isn't so.

ME:  Don't worry.  I am only going five miles over the speed limit.

TRQ:  (after a long, long, long pause)  Smart ass.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The way my brain works

So yesterday I went to see TOTAL RECALL with my boys--a movie I'd heard nothing about.  And the whole time I'm thinking, "That guy looks like Colin Farrell.  In fact, he looks a LOT like Colin Farrell.  I wonder who he is?"

And, of course, it turned out to be--wait for it--Colin Farrell.

It just never occurred to me that Colin Farrell could be running around all buff and six-pack-y looking in a wife-beater, duking it out with Kate Beckinsale on the big screen while enduring dewey-eyed looks from that extremely annoying Jessica Biel.  Not once.  But I certainly thought someone who looked just like him could . . .

Monday, August 6, 2012

Too, too soon

The young adult son of a family friend died this weekend suddenly, and the news has made me so, so sad.  He'd spent time on a rocky road, for sure, but things were looking up.  Such a blow.

I only met him once when he was a teenager--I remember how friendly he was, how he chattered away like we'd known each other for years.  I remember how young he was, too.  Excited by life.  Full of freshness.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Tender Talking

Our youngest is headed out the door soon for a mission.  This week he spent some time in Provo with his granny who frankly told him she might not be here when he returns, because she is (after all) awesomely 92.  She said she loves him and she'll be pulling for him on this side or the other.

I was grateful that she did not shy away from the subject.  Sometimes we don't say things because we don't know how.  I love that my marvelous MIL gave her youngest grandson the gift of her loving openness.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Something I learned about my family and pineapples

First, let me say that I appreciate those of you who read my blog along with your willingness to let me talk about memories that involve my father.  I am reluctant to write about him and his singular career in other publications (the paper, for one), because I don't want to be all  name-droppy and WOW!  LOOK AT ME-ish!  

Still.  As I get older--and, frankly, as he gets older, too--I feel more compelled to get stuff down when it hits me.  Like the pineapple story, which I'd totally forgotten until TRQ brought it up yesterday over crab rolls at Kneaders.

"Remember that time when we were in Hawaii and everybody kept giving your dad gift boxes of pineapples?"  she asked.

"Oh, yeah," I said.  "I kind of do."

"People always acted like your dad was King of Hawaii," she said.

"They did, sometimes," I said.  "You're right."

"That's why they gave him all those pineapples."

"It was a lot of pineapples," I said.

"And we took them all back to San Francisco with us.  And then we loaded up the car we'd left there--we took you guys to DeVan's to get your teeth done--and then we drove home across the desert.  Only there wasn't enough room in the car for family and pineapples.  So you guys sat on boxes and boxes of pineapples and I carried boxes in my lap.  And then we put the rest in the trunk.  Only there were so many boxes of pineapples, the trunk lid wouldn't close.  So we forced it.  And we dented it.  The pineapples dented our car."

"It's true," my dad piped up after all of this.  "The pineapples dented our car."

Here's what I learned from this story:  My family has no idea what to do with pineapples.  Obv.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wait for it!

Or don't.

Food, that is.

This morning Kathy was talking about an ad she'd seen, urging us all to have pumpkin pie in July.  No need to wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas!  Get your pumpkin on now!

"Another thing we used to look forward to," she said glumly, "ruined."

Instant Gratification isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I've been missing Bill today, the owner of the now defunct 8th Ave Market where I happily shopped for a number of years.  Bill was Old School, which meant he was there 24/7, rain or shine, pick your cliche, etc. etc.  Even when he could barely walk, he was there stocking shelves, cutting meat, and chatting up his loyal customers.

Bill was an interesting mix of friendly and curmudgeonly.  Like, if you told him someone died, he'd say, "Hell, they're lucky to be out of this mess."  And if you pointed out that a brick of cheese had some mold on it, he'd cut it off and say, "Hell, that won't hurt you."  And you knew in his heart he thought you were a big weener baby for even noticing the mold part.

On the other hand, he always laughed at your jokes and asked about your kids.  And when someone died, he donated meat for the funeral luncheon.  Even if he thought they were lucky to be out of this mess.

I miss you, Bill.

Science Club

I've been thinking about how happy I am that I spent most of my childhood playing outside instead of messing around with electronics--although I freely admit it would be good if I knew a little more about messing around with electronics these days.

Anyhoo.  Kathy and I were talking about this while we ran today, and we agreed that our older kids spent plenty of time playing outside, too.  We remembered with particular fondness the summer that Nikki and Dylan had a "Science Club."  Their plan was to study dinosaurs the way that Great Scientists do.  Also, they needed funding.  So they went around and asked all the neighbors for money (clearly, Kathy and I should have been better helicopter parents so we would have at least known our children were rolling people).  At the end of their fund-raising project, they realized there were no dinosaurs around to buy, because you know.  Dinosaurs were extinct by then.

So they went to Sinclair and bought candy instead.

Science Clubs are awesome!  Don't you agree?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Lyrics courtesy of Sting, Photo courtesy of me

"Fields Of Gold"

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in the fields of gold

So she took her love
For to gaze awhile
Upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold

Will you stay with me, will you be my love
Among the fields of barley
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in the fields of gold

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth
Among the fields of gold
I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in the fields of gold
We'll walk in the fields of gold

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold
You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in the fields of gold
When we walked in the fields of gold
When we walked in the fields of gold

Friday, July 27, 2012

It's raining a little right now

See that picture?  That's how our feet looked a lot of the time that we were tramping across the U.K.  During those long hours of slogging I would fantasize about sitting in the heat on my front porch.

If you had told me then that I'd be sitting here in my office two weeks later with the windows wide open so I can hear and smell a small smattering of rain, I wouldn't have believed you.  But I am.  Because of course I sat on my porch in the blazing heat and went damn!  It sure is hot!

I know.  I'm SO high maintenance.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Playing the "What if" Game

Just now when I was at Smith's Marketplace, I saw a guy sitting in front of the store who looked a LOT like my brother Jimmy.  In fact, I had to do a double-take, because the last time I checked, Jimmy was eating Cuban food at that place next door to the Precious Slut Tattoo Parlor (and no--I am not making up that name) in Las Vegas.

Anyhoo.  I started playing the "What If" game.  What if that really WERE my brother Jimmy?   And what if this was the first time I'd seen him since we were teenagers?  Because what if he'd been kidnapped when we were kids?  What if he'd been kidnapped when I was supposed to be watching him but instead I was talking to my friend Gigi Ballif on the telephone?  CAN YOU IMAGINE THE GUILT?  How would I feel seeing him sitting there in front of Smith's Marketplace?

That could be the start of a novel, right?  A novel written by Dean Koontz, probably.  Or maybe me.  Or maybe you.

Playing the "What If" game every day may pay off eventually.  And even if it doesn't, at least it makes going to Smith's Marketplace more interesting than usual.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


One of my walking companions was the lovely Doni Perkins, a good friend dating back to the Dreaded Jr. High Days.  We met each other through our mutual friend Becky Brown Thomas all those eons ago, and we both miss her still.

On the first day when we were wending our way through Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Doni suddenly said to me, "You remind me a lot of Becky."  And then she said that taking the walk with me felt a little like taking the walk with Becky as well.

I was a little surprised by this.  I guess I'd like to know how I remind Doni of Becky, although I didn't ask.  But I was also touched, too.  It was sweet to think--for a moment at least--that three old friends were together again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm back

And I'm still sort of crawling on my hands and knees from room to room because I'm too tired to get up on my hind legs.  I can't ever remember being this jet-lagged.  I think I'm just . . . getting older.

I'll start posting again tomorrow.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Joyce Nelson

Carolyn See recommends that writers draw up a list of the ten most influential people in their lives because . . . I forget why.  Maybe writers can use them as characters?

Anyway.  I did this exercise a few years ago, and one of the people on my list is Joyce Nelson, my AP English teacher.  This is what I wrote about her:  "A great teacher.  A great conversationalist.  When we were reading THE GREAT GATSBY she made the surprising announcement in class that 'men like women who smolder.'  I've never forgotten that."

And I've never forgotten Joyce, who passed away the evening of July 3, 2012.  She was a great broad in every single way.  RIP Joyce.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What I would have missed this morning if I hadn't gone running

Two Cooper's hawk fledglings, just chilling in a spread of pine boughs.

I didn't feel like running today, but I forced myself to go to the park.  Toward the end of the first lap, I saw a cluster of people looking up into a tree.  I almost didn't stop because there's that suspicious part of my brain that always says, "It's like a snipe hunt.  They're just standing there so you'll stop and stand there, too, and the joke is THAT THERE'S REALLY NOTHING THERE TO LOOK AT."

But I stopped and asked and it wasn't a joke . . . just a pair of amazing birds, right in the heart of the city.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Dear Day-After-Summer-Vacay,

Why do you gotta be so harsh?  I don't want to feel depressed that there's no ocean outside my back door.  I don't want to miss fish tacos from Pedros.  I don't want to be sad that when I turn around to tell my brother Jimmy a joke that he's not there now.  But I do.

Ugh.  You pretty much suck, Day-After-Summer-Vacay.


Ann Cannon

Friday, June 29, 2012

Stingray alert!

Remember how my son Geoffrey got stung by a stingray here two years ago?  Well, my daughter-in-law Kendell got stung yesterday.

On the plus side we knew what to do this time around.  We didn't stand around, wondering whether or not my brother Jimmy should urinate on her foot.  We immediately got that foot into some hot water, ran her up to the ER, and pumped her full of antibiotics.  Because she is tough and awesome, she was even able to participate in the Family Olympics last night wherein she perfectly nailed my brother John with a water balloon.

Nice work, Kendell!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Boys of Summer, 1955

Every day an old man pulls up in a van with a picture on the back of five young men, holding surfboards while looking tan and trim in swimming trunks--the kind Barbie's boyfriend, Ken, wore back when Barbie and Ken were first invented.    Underneath the caption reads:  "Boys of Summer, 1955."

He sits in the van all day with his window down, looking out at Doheny Point, possibly remembering the summer he and Moondoggie and the Big Kahuna fell all over themselves in an effort to impress Gidget (short for "girl midget").   Part of me thinks this is sad.  Another part of me (and I'm very serious about this) thinks, dude.  What could be more awesome than to hang at the beach all day, thinking about good times?

I have the sense he wants people to stop and ask him about those days.  And maybe I will.  But I'm almost afraid he'll tell me more than I want to know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Conversation overheard whilst sitting here at a McDonald's in Dana Point

One patron to another patron:  "Hell, I just got my third criminal trespassing notice.  I don't even know what that means."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Yesterday morning I took a long run on the beach from here to the San Clemente pier.  It's a nice beach to run because parts of it are quite secluded due to limited access from the road.  That's probably why I saw a single crane just standing there.  No one around to bother it.

Have you ever seen a crane up close?  They're HUGE.  And this one was standing as still as death.  As I approached, it didn't flinch.  Not a bit . . . until I was a few feet away.  And then with a flick of reptilian eye, it took flight, beating the air with broad prehistoric wings until it glided over the water and into sky.

Awesome.  Truly.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reporting from the Beach

Beach Week!

Jimmy and I were remembering Vacations of Our Youth.  He remembered the time we stayed at a Motel 6, back in the day when you had to pay for air time by dropping quarters in the slot.  We were watching  THE BABE RUTH STORY (it seems like we were always watching baseball biopics) when the money ran out.  There were no more quarters to be had.  And so our dad told us how the movie ended.

"Babe Ruth dies," he said.

Friday, June 22, 2012

WIFYR 2012: The Final Day

Dear WIFYR 2012 Cannonballs,

You guys have been awesome.  THANK you for bringing your A-game to our class each day.  I have enjoyed getting to know you so very, very much.

Here are a few things I'll remember--

Jared's epic mullet
Linda's calming, intelligent presence
Elizabeth's willingness to step outside her comfort zone
Tabitha's rockin' lyrics
Rebecca's great southern dialogue
Katy's rendering of TOUGH BORIS
Heather's moving story about her experience in China
Fatma's kind eyes and elegant stories from another country

Keep writing.  I mean it.

WIFYR DAY FOUR (yesterday)

Yesterday Trent Reedy spoke in the plenary session.  A veteran of the Afghanistan war, Reedy has written an acclaimed novel about an Afghani girl called WORDS IN THE DUST.  His personal story is nothing short of electrifying.  And, of course, when you listen to someone like Trent, you have that moment where you say to yourself, "I haven't been a soldier in Afghanistan.  What do I have to write about?"

I do take comfort in David Sedaris's words:  "My students were middle-class kids who were ashamed of their background.  They felt like unless they grew up in poverty, they had nothing to write about .. . I felt sorry for these kids, that they thought their whole past was absolutely worthless because it was less than remarkable."

We all have stories.  That is all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I find by the time Wednesday rolls around during conference week my brain feels like a sponge that has been wrung dry.  An old sponge that leaves little moldy (also smelly) bits of itself in the cleaning bucket.  Which means that people just go "ew" when they pick it up.  So they throw it away along with the empty Sausage McMuffin wrapper left over from breakfast.  And then they drive to
WalMart to buy a new one.  Or possibly more than one if the price is right.  Which is always awesome when you can buy two sponges for the price of one.

So yeah.  That's how I feel right now.  Conference week is equal parts exhilarating and exhausting.  The exhausting part hit today.  More of the exhilarating part will hit tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a participant gave me a simple, brilliant idea.  I talked about the importance of showing up daily to do the work.  Write 500 words a day and you'll have a novel by the end of the year.  The participant said, "And give yourself a gold star on a calendar every day you write your 500 words."  And you know what?  I AM ALL OVER THAT IDEA.

Will write for gold stars.  That's my new motto, people.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WIFYR 2012 Day Two

Every beginning should beg a question--that's the theme of agent John Cusick talk's on writing the opening bit that'll grab an agent's/editor's attention.  How did THIS happen?  How did the narrator end up here?

It's a good talk with lots of concrete examples.  Makes me want to get better.

Monday, June 18, 2012

WIFYR 2012

So today was the first day of the WIFYR conference, and it was great fun to see many familiar faces.  Also, I always learn new things, too.  Today in my breakout session wherein I discussed types of journaling authors can do, one woman said a friend of hers keeps a visual journal while she works on a novel--pictures of characters and places, along with graphs and timelines and everything else.

As long as something like this doesn't distract you from the writing itself, I think it's a great idea.  LOTS of fun to be had there, right?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why the Face?

Here's what editors tell writers when discussing picture books:  "We want books with actual story arcs--we want a character who has a problem and who works to solve that problem.  Also NO RHYMING!!!!"

And yet . . .

I spent all day yesterday and part of this morning reviewing new books for The King's English publication (THE INKSLINGER), and pretty much all of the books violated these rules.  They rhymed.  And many of them didn't have much of a story--just charming moments.  So (as Phil Dunphy says) Why The Face?

I will say this.  I do think picture books that have some sort of a storyline wear better than those that don't.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Now here's a place we didn't necessarily expect to be

So last night Ken and I and a couple of the brothers journeyed up to Ogden to watch Q. and his band play in a club.  As I sat (at midnight) looking around at pictures of skeletons decorating the walls while my son killed it on stage, I couldn't help but think I hadn't thought this is what my life would look like back in the day when I put my little boys in matching outfits and marched them over to Olan Mills for family portraits.

But I'm glad it does.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


This morning as I ran in Liberty Park through light and half-light, light and half-light while shadows slanted through the pines, I felt like there was something almost primordial about the experience--running barefoot at dawn through trees and so forth.  And I thought it would have been cool to be something pre-historic like a druid.

Except, of course, for the part where you were running because woolly mammoths wanted to eat you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


This is a bungalow I run past every morning, and actually there are four (not just the two you see here) stone lions guarding this house.  I always go YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME because it takes a certain amount of self-discipline to guard a modest Salt Lake City bungalow and keep a straight face when you're a stone lion who was meant to decorate the front yard of Buckingham Palace.

Rock on, Stone Lions.  Rock on.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A little melancholy tonight

I think I've mentioned before that I have a strange, inexplicable affection for island music even though it always makes me cry, and I'm not even kidding.  You'd think I was a sloppy Irish drunk listening to Oh, Danny Boy.  Which also makes me cry.  (Johnny Cash did a lovely version of the song on his awesome AMERICAN IV album.)


Not long ago when I was listening to The Descendants soundtrack, I was overwhelmed by a desire to take one last trip to Hawaii with my parents.  We have a little bit of history there because of the Football Years.  In fact, the only stadium where I thought the opposing team's fans might set my hair on fire was at Aloha Stadium.  Man, those guys HATED BYU, and whenever you sat in the stands you felt like you were caught up in a rolling riot.  In Tehran.  Sports Illustrated once listed my dad as Hawaii's Public Enemy Number One.  And yet off the field, he and my mother were treated with incredible warmth wherever they went.

So I was thinking it would be nice to walk along the beach again with them and play the "remember when" game.  Remember when we drove all over Oahu in that borrowed Trans Am listening to an 8-track CCR tape?  Remember when Sculley was still alive and he and Lou had us to dinner at their place?  Remember the geckos that skittered across the ceilings where we stayed?  Remember when Jim and I took surfing lessons, and I almost got hit by an outrigger canoe when I broke the water's surface?  Remember when Joe took us to the airport in his squad car and turned on his siren so we didn't have to stop at any red lights?

But how would it be to return to a place you loved together, knowing that would be the last time?  How could you bear it?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I wrote

2,000 words today and 2,000 words yesterday.  I am muscling my way through, people.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Now here's a skill set I wish I had

This morning on our walk, Nancy and I were talking about that experience we've all had--the experience of getting TRAPPED by the person who completely monopolizes you for two. freaking. hours. and. you. can't. make. them. stop. talking. and. you. can't. escape.  She'd had that experience at the library last night.  I'd had it at work the night before.  I got cornered by a customer who took me on an incredibly detailed guided tour of the thought processes she employs while parenting, even though there were other customers standing around, waiting for me to help them.  I wanted to put my head in an oven.

Nancy said, "Here's what we need.  We need skills that will help us get out of those situations . . . "  At this point I thought she was going to say "like the ability to say sayonara, sucker."  But she surprised me.  Instead, Nancy said,  "We need skills that will help us get out of those situations like the ones Jeannie had in I DREAM OF JEANNIE or those characters in STAR TREK who said BEAM ME ABOARD!"

And I was all YOU'RE RIGHT.  So here's to acquiring a brand new skill set with a full complement of futuristic, magical (and also awesome) powers.

(Meanwhile, why do I always want to put MY head in the oven?  Shouldn't I want to put the other person's head there instead?)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

As if you really wanted to look at my feet

However, here they are.  This is what they look like after I've gone barefoot running.

I decided today that one of the reasons that I like running barefoot is that I have to pay attention to what my feet are doing while I'm running so that I don't step on dirty needles, shards of glass, and so forth.  In other words, at the risk of sounding all Zen, I have to be thoroughly in the moment when my feet are naked, and I am cutting through the mud and grass.  I can't be busy spinning scenarios of future catastrophes for me and mine, a skill in which I awesomely excel.  (HIGH FIVE ME!  WAY TO SPIN THOSE SCENARIOS OF CATASTROPHE!)  In stead I have to pay attention to what's happening now.

Running barefoot = mood meds.

Monday, June 4, 2012

How life is

I know this fabulous woman Connie who has a sharp, cynical wit for which she is much celebrated by her friends and co-workers.  I've been thinking about something she said recently--people think she's a straight shooter because she isn't afraid to call bullshit on something.  But lately she's begun to ask herself why people seem to equate "cynical" with "truthful."  Truth can be dark.  But it can be light, too.  And ignoring that fact just makes you the flip side of a Pollyanna.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

When a good series goes bad . . .

As I've said before, I have cherished the Hamish Macbeth novels by M.C. Beaton.  So!  Much!  I've adored  the Scottish setting (Brigadoon with an edge), the quirky characters, the mildly malicious humor.  Some titles have been better than others, of course, but for years now I've found the series to be consistently enjoyable.

Last year's DEATH OF A CHIMNEY SWEEP, however, felt rushed and underdeveloped--LOTS of telling, not much showing.  Still, I was eager to read this year's DEATH OF A KINGFISHER, which I did today and . . .  wow.  For me the novel was hugely disappointing--disjointed and strangely unlikeable.  Seriously, I don't think I'll read another.

Writers--particularly ones who have successful series--are under a lot of pressure to produce.  As a reader, I get that.  I've been looking forward to a new Hamish each February for years now.  But that pressure can ultimately kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

Bottom line?  I'm just so bummed.