Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What I gained by blogging (almost) every day

Wow!  2013 is almost over?  I feel like I just got home from my extended February stay in St. George--

Anyway, I've been thinking about this blogging exercise and here are my thoughts about the thing.

1.  I'm glad I did it.  It was fun, and (surprisingly) it never felt like a burden.

2.  Blogging every day made writing my column easier.  For years I've told my creative writing students that writing is like shooting baskets.  You have to do it regularly to be good at it.  That doesn't mean, however, I always followed my own BRILLIANT advice.  But this year I kinda did, and I must say it made sitting down to knock out a column a lot easier.

3.  Blogging is the writer's equivalent of an artist's sketchbook.   Blogging regularly allowed me to capture moments and half-formed impressions before they flitted away.  Occasionally I was able to make later use of those scraps of writing.

4.  Blogging every day has kept me engaged with my own life.  I had to pay attention to what was going on around me--the weather, the conversations, the craziness, the stuff that otherwise would have scuttled away to my brain's forgotten corners.

5.  Blogging every day meant comments from you.  Thanks for responding.  Thanks for paying attention.  You guys are the best.

Will I blog every day in 2014?  Right now I'm gonna say "sort of."  And by "sort of" I mean I'll blog Mondays through Fridays after which I'll spend my weekends catching up on celebrity gossip and eating nachos.  This, I think, is an excellent plan.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Column alert!

I was surprised to see my column up and running so early in the week.  But I'll take it!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


This time last year I set a few goals, and honestly I didn't achieve very many of them.  But I actually feel good about the stuff I DID achieve.  This is apparently what happens when you start taking Celexa in the middle of May.  I recommend it!

Meanwhile, I'm thinking of a few things I'd like to accomplish in 2014.  Most of them have to do with writing and finding ways NOT to be distracted from the task at hand.  Online stuff is the biggest problem for me, so maybe I'll spend a few more days down at The Rose (no wifi!) this year.

I'd be interested to hear what your writing goals for 2014 are.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday Fatigue

Okay, first.  I have this fabulous friend who always assumes you know the same people she knows.  So when you're having a conversation you often have no idea who she's talking about.  And I've been guilty of the same thing.  The Becky I referred to yesterday is Becky Thomas, my friend who passed away nearly ten years ago.  We grew up together and stayed connected--even more profoundly connected--as adults.  I still think about her every day.

Okay, second.  I think I need the holidays to be over.  It feels like a non-stop party from Halloween until the end of the year, and while I always love a good party, I am feeling the need for plain wholesome food, brisk walks, tall drinks of water, lots of sleep, and a regular writing routine.

I feel a little guilty even saying I've had it--like I'm on the verge of breaking up with a perfectly good and also dazzling boyfriend named "Christmas 2013," simply because he's too dazzling and he's wearing me out.  But there it is.

Time for a change.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Well, all I can say is that I did a damn good job of blogging every day until about the middle of October and then WHAT?!  What happened?  My days have gone all slippery and have begun disappearing like unfortunate goldfish down the drain when you're cleaning out their disgusting bowl.  Which only goes to show that it's better not to clean out your disgusting goldfish bowl.  Unless, of course, you want goldfish slipping down your drain.

Anyway.  I just realized it's Friday.  Which means I forgot all about Thursday, probs because I was so DEAD after Christmas Day, even though I am now officially old with no small children to wrangle.  I'm astonished that I'm still so tired the day after Christmas . . .

But we had a lovely holiday, and I extended the loveliness of it all by going down to Provo again yesterday so that I could visit Becky's daughters and parents.  Her girls are good.  As I sat there talking to Emma and Alex I couldn't help but think how proud Becky would be of them and how much they're like her in so many ways.

Afterwards I visited Tom and Sheila, Becky's parents, and sat in a cozy room with them while this year--and all the years before--fell quietly away.  I'm so glad I saw them.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Friends.  I hadn't thought about this story for years--not until the other night when I was driving home from TKE.

Thanks for making blogging so rewarding.  I cherish your presence here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Finding out about Santa

Tonight over dinner we talked about the moment when we learned the truth about Santa Claus.  My daughter-in-law said she burst into tears.  I did the same.  Geoff said he never did believe, and Ken Cannon says he still believes.  My dad was the real surprise.  He believed in Santa Claus until he was twelve.  Which strikes me as adorable.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Some Jimmy for you

As you know, I'm crazy about my youngest brother, Jimmy, partly because he sends me e-mails like these (I reprint here with permission) (although when did I start respecting people's privacy?) (This is an interesting development!)  Anyway.  I've always admired his knack for observation and the way he has with the words.

"I was in court today, and I decided to run by our process server's office.  The office is on East Fremont Street, a place where several drug transactions, prostitution hookups, and petty thefts occur on a daily basis.  Probably hourly.  Broken windows, broken beer bottles, and broken lives abound.  Regularly, there are condoms in the gutter.  I am one of the few attorneys that chooses to pay directly at the offices.  The elderly secretary asked me why I choose to pay there instead of paying online.  She would not go there if she didn't need to work.

I told her that I enjoyed coming and looking out the windows onto Fremont Street.  It's a window into a world of which I know little.  "It's like 1000 stories an hour unfolding in front of my eyes,"  I said.  She liked that.

After I paid my bill today and dropped off a subpoena for service, I was walking back to my car.  You have to walk through an alley to get from the process server's office to the parking lot.  As I was walking through this alleyway, a man angrily walked towards me and shouted, "Your tie is too long and you have a sucker in your mouth."  I knew it was just the alcohol talking.  He carried a 45-ounch Colt malt liquor can in his hand.  He was clearly wrong.

My tie was not too long, and the sucker was in my hand."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

One hundred years old

That's how old my father-in-law, Kenneth Cannon, would be today if he were still alive.   It's his birthday, and my Ken and his sister joined their mother in Provo this evening for a little cake and ice cream and a lot of remembering.

Last week in church Ken talked about his father, how he always made sure the animals were fed before the family opened their presents.  Young Ken resented this.  He hated the idea of milking the cow before the celebrations began.  Stupid cows.  And yet the experience always turned out to be peaceful--the scent of hay reminding him of that first Christmas birth.

Thinking tonight of loved ones who are no longer here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas house in the morning!

I snapped this early this morning before the sun came up.  You know.  At 11:00 freaking a.m.

Isn't it pretty, though?  Doesn't Ken Cannon do a good job with the lights?  Happy winter solstice, everyone.  The pagan in me is spiking the ball and doing a big old end zone dance.  THROW THAT FLAG AND PENALIZE ME FOR CELEBRATING, REF!  I DON'T EVEN CARE!

Soon the light will come . . .

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chapter Twelve: wherein I discuss the other fun thing that happened when I was an undergrad

I got married.

I know.  "Fun" and "marriage"--especially when you're both still undergrads--seems like an odd combination.  You know.  Like some weird ice creams people make in pretentious restaurants (lavender ice cream, rosemary ice cream, honey and thyme ice cream).  Basically here's my one of my Rules for Living:  don't put herbs in your ice cream.

Anyway.  Ken and I got married when we were young and stupid, and although there were adjustments OF COURSE I enjoyed him, and I enjoyed living at Wymount Terrace which was a lot like living in a dorm for married people.  Or at least I assume it was, although I wouldn't know.  As you'll recall I lived at home during college.

Anyway again.  We didn't have kids right away, so we enjoyed a lot of time together--playing cards and board games, going to movies with discount tickets from the bookstore, watching General Hospital during lunch break.  And you know what?  Now that the kids are gone, we're doing a lot of those same things again--not counting the General Hospital part.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chapter Eleven: Wherein I discuss one of the two fun things about my undergrad experience

I went to London for six months on BYU's semester abroad program, and it was great.  My roommate ended up being a girl from Durham N.C.--the hysterically funny Donna Draughon--and pretty much all we did was laugh and sightsee.  Also eat.  And eat and eat and eat.  And it was awesome.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We'll get to the next two posts eventually . . .

But first this week's column.  Some of you may remember this episode . . .

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chapter Ten: Wherein I go to college and learn I want my future kids to do things differently

In this chapter I will discuss how I went to BYU although all the kids who grew up in Provo mocked BYU students heartlessly.  We called them ZOOBIES and tinkerty-tonk!  WE MEANT IT TO STING.

But most of us Provo kids who actually went to college went to BYU because it was cheap and we lived at home where we proceeded to have no fun at all because you know.  We lived at home.  I drowned my sorrows in food and became large-ish, which still did not stop me from becoming a BYU Folk Dancer because apparently you can be chubby if you're good at doing Russian dances.  Which I was.

Anyway.  I made myself a solemn sacred promise that my kids would go away to school and not live at home and gain weight and become BYU Folk Dancers.  And mostly they didn't.  There were two good things that happened to me as an undergrad, though.  I will discuss those in my next two posts.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Knock-knock jokes

Fridays I hang out with my three year-old granddaughter who has discovered knock-knock jokes.  Here's the joke she told me today.

G-daughter:  Knock, knock!

Me:  Who's there?

G-daughter:  Apple!

Me:  Apple who?

G-daughter:  Apple poo-poo!  (This is followed by uncontrollable laughter.  Mine.)

At this point I think it's genetically hardwired in three year-olds to tell a) knock knock jokes that b) are scatological.  Like, in France I'm pretty sure the kids would say knock, knock and their grandmothers would say qui is there and then the kids would say pomme and then their grandmothers would say pomme qui and then the kids would say pomme poo-poo and then I would start laughing uncontrollably again way over here in America.

Carry on, French kids!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where were we?

Oh yes.  Chapter Nine.  This is the chapter wherein I discuss high school, which, of course, was plenty angsty, but a way better fit for me than junior high school ever was.  I lost some weight and learned to talk to boys without nervously dissolving into a nervous puddle of nervous sweatiness.  Score!  Not that I was completely sweat-free, but now I only sweat under one arm instead of both.

Other high school stuff?

Girls could wear pants.  I fell in love with Led Zeppelin and spent all my money on albums.  My two best friends, Gigi and Becky, started spending more time with their boyfriends than with me, which I understood but which left me feeling lonely.  So I made new best friends with Jon and Stan who were safe because they didn't see me as girlfriend material.  Our poodle died of a heart attack in the driveway when a big dog made accidental eye contact with her.  I started a string of part-time jobs.  I went to Hawaii for the first time and wondered why I hadn't been born there.  I learned to drive and nearly lost my license by the time I was a senior.  You can read between the lines there.  My dad was made head coach.  Joyce Nelson, my AP English teacher changed my life.   I made up a bucket list in our school library one day that said I wanted to write a book, go to Europe, and have seven sons, and if you count my two stillborn babies, I eventually did all of the above.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

This n' that

1.  I went to the SLC library tonight to listen to Radagast read some of his poems.  He reads like he writes--beautifully.

2.  I saw Lisa B. there, too.  Maybe I've told you this before--but she's the one who inspired me to blog.  Thanks for that, Lisa!

3.  It's always nice to connect with friends who write--and friends who don't write, too.  Ken and I had French Silk Pie with Rick Horne earlier this evening.

4.  And then I came home and started watching Nashville for the first time in months and yup.  It's just a big hot mess.  And not even a big fun hot mess.

5.  Other hot messes that are no fun anymore?  Scandal and Revenge.  Ugh.  Revenge was watchable for a year before it blasted off into the craz-o-sphere.  Scandal took about two episodes before it did the same thing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas sweaters that get no respect

Yeah.  That would be MY Christmas sweater.  Read the true story here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Missing Q

My son:  Mormondom's answer to the Singing Nun.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chapter Eight: Wherein I discuss The Big Ugh, aka "junior high school"

In this chapter I will discuss how to this day whenever I find out that a kid is in seventh grade, I'll go "do you hate it?"  And I'm always surprised when they go "no!  Seventh grade is awesome!"  And then I call that kid a liar--sometimes to his/her face, but only if the kid's parent is out of earshot.

Anyway.  I hated junior high school and when I look at pictures of myself from then, it's clear why I did.  I was all nose and glasses and pimples.  Also, we had to do squat thrusts in gym class every day while wearing green jumpsuits.  My jumpsuit didn't fit.  Whereas my nose was too big for my face, my jumpsuit was too small for my butt.  Can you say uncomfortable?

The good news was that I had a friend who was as geeky as I was.  Gigi Ballif.  I also had a friend who was not geeky--Becky Brown.  She was elected "Miss Hi" and her boyfriend, Rusty Boshard, was elected "Mr. Hi" the first week of school.   I'm not making that up.  The good news was that Becky said hi to geeks.

And that's how we became life-long friends.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chapter Seven: Wherein I discuss the Big Move

I will discuss how my parents built a house in Oak HIlls and also how I threw a hissy fit about that fact and so in order to entice me to move with them and not to finish out my life as a feral child in the foothills of Edgemont, they let me pick my own bedroom carpet.  So I did.  And it was a shocking pink shag.  And so my parents got it for their room, too, because it was cheaper that way.  Which led to my father once saying he was pretty sure he was the only defensive line coach in America who had carpet like that in the bedroom.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wherein I share my favorite thing I heard today

So you know how I go to a rest home the first Thursday of every month to read picture books, right?  Anyway.  We have an elderly Downs resident there who loves Jesus and loves to tell stories about Jesus, and today she told me that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

And also that he weighed 8 pounds and 6 ounces.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chapter Six: wherein I discuss the Edgemont Years (grades 2-5)

It's not that my childhood was totally blissful.  Childhood never is.  But I certainly knew happiness riding my bike and hiking in the foothills and cavorting around the nearby cemetery with friends.  Also, there were night games and sun and snow and dogs and cats giving birth to many kittens behind the freezer in our garage and sleepovers and Mad Magazine and Tales from the Crypt and the Sears Catalog at Christmas.  Also there was my first boyfriend, Kendell Kelly, who's pharmacist dad gave his kids drugs so they wouldn't wake up early on Christmas because Kendell's dad was NO FUN AT ALL.  Other Edgemont doings?  Kurt Apostle told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus (tragic!) and Kendell Kelly told me about "it"(really?  And also ew!) and how you had to do "it" for forty-five minutes (also tragic!) if you wanted to get a baby out of the whole process.  It was hard to look at the adults on our street for  a little while after that.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wherein I post another column

This was one of those weeks when I felt bone dry in the Creativity Department.  Hard to eek out a column when I'm feeling like that.  But you just keep at it.  Deadlines help.  I'm gonna stitch that on a pillow:  DEADLINES ARE OUR FRIENDS!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Chapter Five: wherein I am struck ill

In this chapter I will discuss the Epic Bike Accident when I was six years old which led to the Epic Infection that went systemic and attacked my Epic Kidneys, thus forcing me into the hospital and later into my bed for an Epic Seven Months--during which time I did not cavort much with other human beings.

Everything about me and my life changed after this illness.  It's probably why I grew up bookish and became a writer.

I know!  Turning Point!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wherein I remember to take some pictures at a family celebration

Hey!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey!  Ken Cannon wants to say Happy Thanksgiving, too!

That was so much fun, we're gonna do it again!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Busted!  No more turkey for you, Jacques-fu!

Thanks for a great day, you two.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas picture books

Piece from the Trib this morning!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving, TRQ, and other things

Happy day after Thanksgiving.  I'm hoping you all enjoyed your holiday, which (I think) is a grand little holiday.  One of my faves.

Anyway.  It was quiet for us this year--just Ken Cannon, Geoff, my parents, and I at the familias trough.  We decided to eat at 2:00, but by the time 3:00 hit and we still weren't eating?  Well.  We were getting restless.

That's when TRQ discovered that had some point she'd turned the oven off, which made it challenging for the turkey to get itself all roasted.  Turkeys are picky like that.

Gotta love a good holiday mishap, right?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Yikes! It's Tuesday?!

Yes.  I checked.  It's Tuesday.

I was doing the every day thing quite well until last month, right?  I've slipped up a bit lately--will try to get back on track.

Chapter summaries to continue tomorrow.  Meanwhile here's today's Trib column.

BONUS!  Jell-O recipe involved!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

And now we pause for a commercial break

I'll do more chapters.  But I wanted to say Ken Cannon and I saw Rush this weekend, and I enjoyed it much more than I'd expected to.  Many years ago I won tickets to the Las Vegas Grand Prix race (it doesn't exist anymore) and I was kind of blown away by how LOUD and also thrilling the whole thing was.  The movie had the same effect on me.

Before we went, son Phil said there are boob shots a-plenty in the movie, the best one belonging to Chris Hemsworth (who plays James Hunt). Like, wow.   Son Phil was right.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Chapter Four: wherein we move south

In this chapter I will discuss how we left Salt Lake for Provo when my dad was made an assistant coach at BYU because Hal Mitchell wanted a Mormon who knew something about the single-wing offense.  I will talk about the birth of my youngest brother who grew up to be one of my best friends.  I will also mention the fact that my grandparents retired and moved from Wyoming to Utah and, in fact, lived a few blocks away from us for awhile.  Once when I was walking to their house, I got beat up by the Jakes' kids who lived around the corner.  They stole my purse with the fake makeup in it.

This taught me an important life lesson.  Never carry a purse with fake makeup in it.  People will beat you up if you do.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chapter Three: wherein we take a big trip

In this chapter I will discuss how my parents put me and my brother in the back of a station wagon sans seat belts (America was reckless in those days) and drove to the Seattle Worlds Fair.  My brother and I pretended we were smoking cigarettes the whole time.  I was five.  He was three.  On the way there I tasted cherry pie in a restaurant and became obsessed with cherry pie.  When we saw the Space Needle for the first time, I told my dad that I was pretty sure people were sitting inside the Space Needle, eating cherry pie.

While in Seattle we stayed with a family who lived on a farm-ish thing with a donkey who apparently thought he was a rooster, because he brayed every morning at the same time and woke everybody up.

Dude.  That was some donkey.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Chapter Two: more about the earliest years

In this chapter I discuss how my dad coached football and wrestling at Granite High School.  He also taught Drivers' Ed.  Irony!   On weeknights and on the weekends he sold shoes at Sears and worked for the County Rec and also Pete Carlson, teaching kids to swim.  (Side note:  he taught the McCarthy brothers, former owners of the Trib, to swim when they were kids.)  He taught me to swim after hours.  I have memories of him tossing me into the pool and me screeching with laughter.  He also taught me wrestling holds.  He was the holder.  I was the holdee.  All of this was muy hysterically fun as far I was concerned.  I loved me a rough-and-tumble dad.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cliff Notes of My Life: a story told in tiny chapters

So my fabulous friend Shelley who loves Kate Middleton the way I loved Princess Diana has just read her biography (Kate's) (not Diana's) and was disappointed, because (as it turns out) up until she started dating a PRINCE, Kate's life was kind of boring.  And Shelley thought her own life would make a better story (she's right), so on her blog she gave brief sketches of the different chapters of her life.


So for the next few days I am going to give brief summaries of my life story chapters, too.  Thanks for the idea, Shelley.

Chapter One:  The early years

Born in Salt Lake.  My dad complained of a headache the whole time my mom was in labor.  MEN!  We lived in a teeny tiny white house on an acre lot in Holladay and I thought it was paradise.  Grass! Trees!  Pansies and marigolds!  Vegetable garden!  Orchard!  Chicken coops!  A view of Mt. Olympus from our living room window!  My best friend was a dog.  My mother put the two of us outside to play all day when the weather was good.  I ran away (to the basement) when my parents brought my brother home from the hospital, but no one came looking for me.  BABIES RUIN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU'RE TWO YEARS OLD.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

JFK and a column

I wrote this and then read Kirby's column, which had the advantage of running before mine--and also the advantage of being written by my friend Kirby.  But I still went with it because it would be weird not to write about the assassination as the 50th anniversary nears.

Fifty years.

So much time.  So many changes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


It's Sunday, which means I'll have the TV on all day so I can drop in on an NFL game here and an NFL game there.  (Right now the Eagles are playing the Redskins, for instance.)  I'm looking forward to tonight's game between the undefeated Chiefs (go Andy Reid!) and the Broncos (oh, Peyton, I love you so--why did you have to go and break my heart by signing with a Denver team?).

Anyway.  There's this attitude about football these days that lots of people have.  Like, if you say to them that you follow football, you might as well say you also follow gladiator matches and you absolutely CANNOT wait until the next truckload of Christians gets dumped into the nearest coliseum.  Honestly, I'll be surprised if football is here in another 100 years.

I understand where this is coming from.  For sure.  As I've said before when we went back to South Bend for my father's induction ceremony and watched various honorees hobble up to the podium,  it was like viewing an instructional video in Health Class about why you SHOULDN'T play football in your youth.

Still.  I enjoy.  And will enjoy.  And if I'd been a guy you can bet I would have been out there playing the game myself.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Johnny Cash American recordings

Al gave me the JC American recordings recently, and I've been listening to them whenever I get into the car.  While I like some of them more than others, there's something about Johnny's voice as an old man that goes straight to my gut in all of them.  Even when he can't buy a note, JC's voice is so real, so raw, so full of nerve and sad wisdom and a wondering faith that I just have to shake my head and go wow.  What an artist.

I'm giving these to the Coach for Christmas.  He doesn't read my blog so I can say that.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A little about yesterday's melancholy thing

Being ill, of course, automatically lends itself to feeling The Melancholy.  But I was also saddened by this news.

I knew Todd Christensen slightly.  We'd bump into each other in the Richards P.E. Building on campus sometimes, and because he liked to chat and wasn't shy, we'd chat.  Or at least he would chat and I'd listen.  I can still remember the time he told me he wasn't sure how much my dad actually knew about football.  Oddly, I didn't take offense.  I'd already heard that Todd was his own kind of guy, and because there didn't seem to be any malice in his statement, I just let it slide.

I can still see him, his wet hair combed and slicked against his head with an almost military-like precision.  And there were always a load of books under one arm--books I was pretty sure he'd actually read.  Not to trade in stereotypes or anything, but I knew he wasn't one of those guys my dad would lock up in his office until that player got his homework done in order to maintain eligibility.  Todd cared about school.

Anyway.  It doesn't seem like that long ago I watched him play in the early days of my father's career as a head coach--tough and wild and full of hope for his future.  It was a pleasure to watch him in action.

RIP, Todd Christensen.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Lisa B. sent me a message the other day asking if I were feeling better-ish after my bout with the flu.  Only better-ish was auto-corrected to "butterfish," because (of course) that's a term real people use in real conversations all the day.  Thank you, auto-correct!

Butterfish!  Butterfish!  Butterfish!

I love this word, and I now challenge all of us to use it and make it part of mainstream English by the year 2015.  WE CAN DO IT!

REPORTER AT NEWS CONFERENCE:  How would you characterize the state of the economy now?

POTUS:  It's doing butterfish, a fact for which we can all be grateful this Thanksgiving season.

Anyway, I am definitely doing butterfish today, although I still have some of The Queasy left and also I had my eyes zapped this morning at the doctor's office to deal with scar tissue leftover from my cataract surgery two years ago.  So I'm having another sort of semi-languishing day which lends itself to a bit of melancholy, actually.

I'll talk about that tomorrow.

Meanwhile!  Butterfish!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Journals and their ilk

Tonight I am going to visit the Young Women in our ward--and if we all lived in France I would have just said right there "Tonight I am going to visit the jeune filles in our ward"--to speak on the subject of journals.

So yeah.  Mormons are big on journaling, which is good, although sometimes it becomes a burden--another thing we aren't doing and therefore another thing we have to feel guilty about.  (Which reminds me that a friend I taught with at Westminster College always said she liked to work with Mormon, Catholic and Jewish women,  because she could always pull the guilt card and get them to do stuff no one else in the department wanted to do.)

Anyway.  Whatever.  Obviously I am doing a lot of random association right now.  So back to the subject at hand.  I think what I'm going to do tonigh is present these radical ideas.

1.  A journal is not for posterity.  It's for you.  NOW.

2.  A journal can be anything you need it to be--a scrapbook, a blog, a sketchbook, a place to record dreams or write poems or record daily events.

It'll be fun, I think!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

This week's column! And also! Flu! Or is it food poisoning?

It always makes me a little melancholy when a neighborhood institution closes its doors for good.  This is a tiny farewell.

Meanwhile, I was up all night with an intestinal something (NOT fortitude).  A stomach flu, I assume, although Stef just e-mailed, wondering if I had eaten any bad chicken lately.  At first I thought no, because I don't really love chicken unless it's fried and spectacularly unhealthy.  But then I remembered I had a chicken pot pie for dinner Sunday night.  I won't say where because I don't want to cast aspersions on a lovely little place where old people go to eat Sunday night dinner before watching episodes of the new Matlock, aka "Castle" they DVR'd earlier in the week.  You know.  Old people like me and Ken Cannon.

Anyway.  Being sick sucks.  Especially when it's all amber light and warmth outside.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Well, wow

I just re-read my "regretting" post, and I'm kind of regretting that I ever put it up.  I realize now it sounded like I was seeking affirmation, like when a skinny girl puts on tight jeans and says "do these make my butt look big?"  And you guys were nice enough to be--well--nice and to tell my butt doesn't look big.  At least metaphorically speaking.

I was just honestly really disappointed in myself.  But yeah.  Maybe the rake confused me.

Anyway.  More later.

And also anyway.  Thank you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I don't know.

Today I had an experience which I would describe as a fail.  I was late to church, and as I was walking up the stairs, a man who looked homeless asked what kind of church it was.  So I said Mormon.  So he said the church didn't look Mormon.  So I said well it's old.  Old Mormon churches look different.  So then I smiled at him.  So then he smiled at me.  And we paused.  And I wondered right then if I should invite him to come inside.  You know.  Welcome him.

But I didn't.

And I think I should have.  Not because I have any interest in proselytizing.  I don't.  A missionary I am not.

But it would have been a human gesture--one that I believe in.  So why didn't I say, "You can come inside if you want to"?   I don't think he would have been offended by the offer like some people might be.

So why didn't I?

Did his appearance make me nervous somehow?  Me, the person who always says appearances don't matter?  Or did I wonder what he would do with his backpack and full-sized rake if he came inside?  Or did I worry he would feel awkward in the chapel or that other people would feel awkward (the answer to the latter is no--my ward embraces the awkward).

I wish I had been generous enough to let him say no for himself.  Or yes.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Boot camp!

Finished up a weekend weekend bootcamp, sponsored by The King's English and organized by Sara Zarr and U of U professor Anne Jamison.  Faculty included agent Michael Bourret and editor/writer Jennifer Adams.

Here's the thing.  I always learn something at a conference, no matter how many I've attended.  I'm also inspired by attendees who keep working to become the best writers they can be.

A good day.  In spite of the fact that BYU lost.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dear Led Zeppelin IV,

Today is your 42nd birthday.  I know!  You're totally middle-aged now!  And how is that even possible?  Was it really so long ago that I went to the record store at the old Union Block in Provo and bought you?

I was an unlikely fan in many ways, but I loved LZ beyond reason.  That driving beat.  Those screaming vocals.  The alternating hard and soft and hard thing they had going on.  And I listened to you, LZ IV, endlessly.  You were the background music to all my dreams.  Dreams of boys.  Dreams of new clothes and new dreams.  Dreams of making poems myself.  Dreams of life after high school.  Dreams of travel.  Dreams of Aragorn and Frodo and Gandalf.  Dreams of everything badass.  You were it, baby.

There was a time when I would have said you were my favorite LZ album, but the truth is "Stairway to Heaven" got a little boring--especially since it was played at every high school dance I ever went to.  I'd probably pick I or II or even parts of III over you now.

But still.

You are a fine, fine, fine album.  Keep rocking the free world, okay?


Ann Cannon

Thursday, November 7, 2013


So I do way more stuff online than I ever thought I would.  But when it comes to browsing, I still prefer a catalog in hand.  What about you?

Maybe this stems from my childhood.  The arrival of the Sears Christmas Wishbook was a HUGE deal.  My friends and I would sit on the front porch, eating cookie dough and poring over the pages of toys.  What a pleasure that was.

My current favorite catalog is the Vermont Country Store catalog.  As one radio dj I heard remark, it has awesome lingerie.  Girdles!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An anniversary and a retrospective

I received an e-mail from friend Robert Kirby who informed me that today is my third anniversary at the Salt Lake Tribune.  This, by the way, is a very Kirby thing to do.  Beneath the jester's mask, he has the soul of a serious and careful historian.


Some of you may remember me writing about jumping ship from the DN to its competitor, the Trib.  It was a terribly difficult thing for me to do at the time.  It was like I had to suddenly start cheering for the Utes after spending a lifetime of cheering for the Cougars, and I am not, by nature, a person who switches teams casually.

The transition was harder, too, than I let on.  Whereas I pretty much knew who all the subsets of DN readers were, I was unsure of who my audience was at the Trib.  Some of it looked like the DN audience, but there were more subsets of readers, some of whom felt actively hostile to my column.  I second-guessed myself a lot for awhile there, although I always felt like I'd made the right decision to leave the DN when I did.

(Just to be clear--for many years the DN was a good place for me.  The people I knew there--Susan Whitney, Chris Hicks, Carma Wadley, Katy Clayton, Dennis Lithgow, Brad Rock, Lee Benson, Doug Robinson and others--were terrific.)

I was especially grateful that first year at the Trib to my then-editor, Lisa Carricaburu, who called every week to check in with me.  And of course I was grateful to Kirby, too, for alerting Lisa to the fact that I wanted to make a move.

And now?  I'm happy.  And given the state of newspapers today, I'm so grateful to still be writing regularly.   The Trib has done a good job of promoting the column, and I like that the local readership represents a broad spectrum of individuals.

The take-away?  I don't know.  Maybe it's that while change is scary, it's often a good thing to make a leap.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What brothers do

So the column is already up.  As I was writing this I remembered that episode of Modern Family when Jay's brother shows up and the two of them start giving each other nuggies like they're still in grade school.

It never ends.  No.  It does not.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Still thinking

. . . about the Meridian piece.  Here's a curious by-product.  While Hilton's checklist isn't my checklist--at all--her piece did cause me to think about the things I value and ask myself if I am, in fact, measuring up when it comes to my own beliefs.  As it turns out, I could be doing better.  A LOT better, in some cases.

Life is full of strange and unintended consequences.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The problem with echo chambers

This week Geoff sent me a link to an online magazine for Mormons called Meridian.  It featured a brief essay by a woman named Joni Hilton called "Are You a Liberal Mormon?"  In it she delineated steps (in her view) that are sure to lead to apostasy.

It was a curious piece.  Although I'm guessing Hilton is probably my age, parts of it sounded like it had been written by a zealous BYU coed.  You're a liberal Mormon if you see R-rated movies or fail to read your scriptures daily.  Other observations were just odd.  You're a liberal Mormon, for example, if you go to Europe and then talk about it?????   Basically the thrust was this:  get on board or get out.  At least that's how it read.

Now here's the thing.  I don't know Hilton and so I have no way of knowing if the tone of this piece--which was judgmental and petty--is an accurate representation of her in real time.  I am very aware that columnists can and do craft public personas that are only a piece of the entire package.


I'm guessing that Hilton was surprised by the HUGE blowback the column received--so huge, in fact, that Meridian took the piece down and then offered a fairly lame defense for its publication in the first place.  In an online editorial Maurine Proctor assured readers that the term "liberal" did not refer in any way a person's political beliefs (as far as I can tell, none of the readers thought it did) and that the senior editorial staff had been out of the country (hopefully not in Europe) working on a project when the piece was launched.

Here's the deal.  Even though she probably doesn't want it (or perhaps even deserve it), I feel a real sympathy for Hilton.  She must be hurt and surprised by the reaction--especially since Meridian is by no definition of the word a liberal publication.  So how did this happen?

Again, I'm only speculating.  But I'm guessing that Hilton has done a lot of talking and reading and listening and thinking and writing in an echo chamber--a place that pretty much reflects back her own views.  We all do that to some extent.

What this experience reminds us to do is to get out and stretch our legs a little so we can get a real feel for how other people experience this great big complicated world.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Meet Jan Pinborough!

One of the perks of writing an extra books piece for the Trib is the opportunity it gives me to interview authors.  Here's a nice Q and A with Jan Pinborough, who just published a lovely picture book about the creation of children's libraries.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Here we go, Radagast

These are a few off the top of my head--

Q.  Who is a dachshund's favorite politician?
A.  Anthony Weiner

Q.  How do dachshunds count off?
A.  Eenie WEENIE Miney Mo

Contributions welcome!

Happy Halloween

If I had a dachshund--which I kind of wish I did, actually (I would name him Kaiser Soze) (or maybe Gary)--I would be busy making Halloweener jokes right now.


Since I don't, I will share a few early morning snapshots.

Gnome party!

Pull away shot of gnome party!

The most awesome cat who ever lived!

This isn't for Halloween.  It's how I decorate all round.  My style is totally Early Magic.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tales from the crypt

Ken Cannon has a sideline business (for which he receives no payment) of running tours through the Salt Lake Cemetery.  He puts on his Jungle Cruise hat and hops in his Jungle Cruise boat and guides one and all on a fascinating journey through Salt Lake's past.  He did one of these gigs on Saturday for the Alta Club, and he was amazing.  And also he gave me an idea for a column.  Because I didn't have one yet.  And I hadn't been pulled over by any cops last week, thus depriving me of material.

Here it is.  Column!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blog Tour

My friend the writer and illustrator Alicia VanNoy Call invited me to participate in a "Blog Tour," which means I will answer the following questions and then tag three other writers I know to post answers next Monday. Sounds fun, right?

1. What are you working on right now? 

A young adult mystery which has taken me entirely too long to write. And it doesn't even have a lot of pages, so I don't know what my deal is.

2. How does it differ from other things you've written.

It's a lot darker than what I normally do. Maybe that's why it's taking me so long to write.
3. Why do you write what you do? 

Hmmmm. I don't know. I think I like to write contemporary realistic fiction because it doesn't require homework.   When I write my column I like to write about ordinary daily things that somehow make me laugh or go wtf. Can I say wtf in a blog tour?
4. How does your writing process work? 

When it comes to writing novels, I start with a character that I find interesting. Then I go looking for a story--a problem for that character to solve. Or not solve. When I write picture books, I tend to start with an incident (what happens when you're asked to babysit a fish, for instance) and then turn it into a narrative. When I have to write a column, I think about moments when I was most irritated or upset or embarrassed or whatever and then I mine them for their humor or insight. To paraphrase Wordsworth, humor is generated by powerful emotions recollected in tranquility.

What people who apparently don't have enough to do spend their time doing

They sit on porch swings and take selfies with dead people.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

You know what that is right there?

That's twelve dozen donuts in the back seat of my car, Son.

We gotta big freakin' donut transport going on here.  I'm hauling them to the church parking lot for trunk-or-treat any minute now.  BREAKER ONE NINE!

This is one of the perks of being a Church Lady, don't you know.  Donuts.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tiny missives

Over at HTMS Lisa B. has been tearing it up with smart little letters to all and sundry.  I am following her lead because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  And I am sincere.  People give me prizes for my high level of sincerity.  (Thanks, Lisa B. for the idea.)

Dear Princess Kate,

My friends Shelley and Caitlin and I would like to be your visiting teachers.  We will come visit you at the palace and bring you casseroles (including funeral potatoes!) and tell you amusing stories and hold George while you sit on the back porch and have a cigarette break.  We won't judge.  Obv.


Your new visiting teachers

Dear Trib readers who are still yelling at me for sucking up to the cops,

You should try it.  


Someone who can't write about being tazed.  Because I wasn't.

Dear Phil,

Thanks for the bike ride today.  You're right.  It's better to want what you have instead of wanting what you don't have.


Your mother

Dear Sheryl Crow,

Thanks for letting me steal your lyrics.  I used them in that letter I just wrote to my oldest son.


Someone who just listened to a couple of your cds on the way to Logan and enjoyed them all over again.

Dear Doughnuts.



Someone who wants you go get in my belly

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reasoning with dogs

So this morning our big newfie, Zora, just couldn't be bothered to stand up.  She was all, "Yeah, I'll go on that walk with you.  IF YOU'LL CARRY ME."  Which, that wasn't going to happen since she weighs close to 200 pounds and also smells a little bad right now.

So then Ken Cannon started talking to her in his frustrated-but-trying-to-be-reasonable voice, telling her that she had to get up because he had to be in court this morning and didn't have time to mess around with a lazy dog pretending to be a hairy sofa right there in the entryway.

The I-have-to-be-in-court-this-morning argument?  Didn't work.  I don't recommend it for you and your dog.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When experiences turn into columns

The funny thing is that five minutes before I got pulled over on Saturday, I was wracking (is that the word I want?  Is it spelled that way?) my brain for a column idea.  Oh, Universe.  You're such a joker.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A few garden shots for your viewing pleasure

In some ways this is my favorite time of year for my garden.  Everything is big and blowsy and all yellowing around the edges.  I'm not a photographer, so there's nothing special about these pictures.  But whatevs.   Enjoy your Monday!

A nice little stand of anenomes

Asters and roses

Asters and roses, part deux

Who doesn't love a Cinderella pumpkin?

More anemones

Statue of boy peeing in memory of all the boys who have, in fact peed in this garden

Leaves on sidewalk

A sea of autumn color

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Boys crack me up.

Last night we went to a fundraiser for our friend Phil Spencer who's wife, Mel, has breast cancer.  Anyway, the Jazz Bear made an appearance and you should have seen all the little boys in attendance go CRAZY right there in the church cultural hall.  They were were squealing and chasing the bear around and smacking each other and laughing up a lung or two.

So I said to Ken Cannon, "I love little boys."

Today Geoff went up to Ken Cannon and said in a fake-earnest-therapist-type voice, "Let's break down some emotional barriers right now, shall we?"  Then he hugged his dad sensitively.

So I said to Ken Cannon, "I love big boys, too."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Logan on my mind

I spent part of the day in Logan and, as always, I found myself wishing I could have seen my dad play college ball at USU.  The old DN writer Hack Miller once wrote that pound for pound, he was the "mightiest man God ever made."  I would have loved to watch him make his crazy mad man hits.

Days like today are reminders, of course, that your parents had huge lives before you came along.  And after you went away.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What husbands worry about

The other day Ken Cannon told me what he worries about if he were to die before I do.

ME:  What's that?

KC:  I'm not sure who will lock the doors after I go.

I didn't see that one coming.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A love song to a childhood friend

That's kind of what this week's column is, I think.  Lucky to have known Gigi Ballif for most of my life.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thank you, Universe!

The past few days I've had several conversations that I REALLY needed to have.  It's like the Universe served me up a big platter of Good Advice with a healthy side of So-Pay-Attention-to-This.  Thank you, Universe!

One of these conversations just happened on our morning walk.  Kathy has been talking lately about some of the challenges facing her school this year--which is why her principal asked all the teachers in their faculty meeting last night to list ten things they like about teaching there.  And they all did.  Because they could.  They could all find things they liked.    And the exercise was a useful reminder of that.

This is not (cliche alert!) rocket science.  And if you're in a certain kind of cynical mood, it's easy to go pffft! Whatever!  But the fact is that choosing to be positive while handling difficult situations (which is not the same thing as going into denial) makes you feel better.

Although sometimes denial works, too . . .

Monday, October 14, 2013

The car of my dreams

I already posted this on fb, but I'm posting it here now because I'm serious.  I want this car.  And I'm putting it out there to the Universe.  So listen up, Universe!  I want this car!

Meanwhile, I've been scattered.  I'll try to pull it together and start posting again this week.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A day at the Cloisters!

I would have loved to attended this.  New York in particular and the Hudson River Valley in general is gorgeous in the fall.  I used to tell people when we lived in New York that autumn made up for the other three seasons there.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

This and that

First this:  your captions were awesome.  WELL PLAYED!  Thank you.  Ken Cannon had a grand time reading them, and he says thank you, too.

And now that:  so the column I did on Mike Lee has kind of taken off.  At least by my very modest standards.  I mean, I'm happy if I get 50 likes on facebook and a handful of comments when something gets posted online.  I've gotten a bit more attention than that this time around.  My brother called last night to ask how this makes me feel, and I said it's been fun to be Robert Kirby for a day.  I even celebrated by eating a coconut cupcake.

Some of my favorite responses include one where a reader wrote that the coach's daughter just gave Mike Lee a verbal spanking.  And another told me it was my own fault I didn't go to the park because THE PARKS BELONG TO THE PEOPLE and alls I had to do was kick down the barricades--to which I can only say, dude.  I'm not Rambo.

Somebody else also told me to stop saying dude.

This all make me smile.  And you know what makes me smile the most?  I figured out how to use the phrase "can of whoop-ass" in a sentence.  In the paper.

Talked to Lisa B. this morning.  Life is good today.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Ken Cannon did yesterday morning

For the record, he said I could share this picture.  Meanwhile, I think we should try to come up with awesome captions, don't you?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Well, let's see what happens.

Well, it'll be interesting to see what response this one gets. You can never tell.  Sometimes I write a column, thinking I'll hear from a lot of people and I don't.  Other times I write a column, thinking I won't hear from a lot of people and I don't.

So there you have it.

Regardless, I just had to get all this off my chest.

A disturbing experience just now

So my friends and I just went on our early morning (5:30 a.m.) walk.  As we were crossing the street at 4th and K, a car passed through the intersection.  I thought I heard screaming and someone saying "Someone help me, please."  But I couldn't tell where the noise was coming from and if, in fact, I'd really heard what I thought I'd heard.

Then Nancy said, "Did you guys hear that?"  And we all had.  We assumed it came from the car, so we tried to get a good look at it and the license plate, but it was too dark.

This is so troubling.  I mean it could have been a weird dial tone or something--Geoff has one that sounds like a snotty Frenchman chewing him out for not picking up the phone.  Still.  It was weird.  And  I don't know what to do.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A dog named Charlie Brown

You like a good dog story, right?  Well, here's one of my favorites.

My girlfriend Becky and her family had this little mutt named Charlie.  And because their last name was Brown, the dog's name was actually Charlie Brown.  But whereas Charlie Brown the Cartoon was a sad sack, Charlie Brown the Dog ruled the streets of upper Oak Hills, because he was part terrier.  And you know how terriers are.  All bark and swagger.

Charlie Brown the Dog also had a genius for picking out the people who didn't like him.  And then he would torture him.  One of these people was a short round music professor in our ward whose feet used to dangle from the piano bench when he sat on it.  Maybe I'm remembering that wrong, but he always looked a little like Mr. Toad from W in the Ws to me, and (of course) Mr. Toad had feet that dangled.  I say that affectionately.  I loved Mr. Toad in W in the Ws.

Anyway.  Said music professor hated Charlie Brown the Dog, and Charlie Brown the Dog gloried in those ill feelings.  It's like he kept watch all day, so that when Mr. Music Professor went for a tiny walk, Charlie Brown was there to ruin his life.

One night when Mr. Music Professor went for a walk (and I like to imagine that he went at night so he could fly under the radar and escape Charlie Brown the Dog's notice) Charlie Brown rushed him, which scared Mr. Music Professor so badly that he fell down.  Which, okay.  I know that's not funny.  It's not good for dogs to scare music professors and make them capsize while on evening walks.  I'm not THAT insensitive.

However, Mr. Music Professor's response was funny.  To me and Becky at least.  While he lay there on the ground, flailing about, he roared at Becky's mother, "SHEILA BROWN, YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN!"

I think this may have been a little bit funny to Charlie Brown the Dog, too.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Look what Ken Cannon and I did yesterday instead of going to the Great Basin National Park

We went to the Spiral Jetty where we walked on water!  Because it was all salt!

This is Ken Cannon going, "We walked on water!  Because it was all salt!"

This is me saying, "Julie said I would look skinny if I popped my leg."  Thus!  Leg pop!

This is where the water was supposed to be.  But it's all salt right now.

More not water.

This is Ken going "Look!  I'm standing on the Spiral Jetty!"

This is me--worn out from all the rigorous leg popping.

Yeah.  That looks like water right there.  But it's not.

I think I took this picture by accident.

Hey, Aliens!  The pool party is that way!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

One day I am going to write a ghost story

Because I love ghost stories!

Meanwhile, I'll enjoy the Halloween by reading other people's books.

Have a nice weekend, all y'all.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bumper stickers

I just saw a bumper sticker with the Gandhi statement that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.  Which, of course, reminded me of the Seven Psychopaths' Gandhi riff, that goes like this:

HANS:    An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

BILLY:   No, it doesn't.  There'll be one guy left with one eye.  How's the last blind guy gonna take out the eye of the last guy left?

This, of course, is a question I have struggled with for my whole life.  I expect the same is true for you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Miley and Sinead

Today Sara (Happy Birthday, Sara!) told me about Sinead O'Connor's recent open letter to Miley Cyrus, so naturally I was interested.  As I noted over on fb just now, the f-bomb gets lobbed frequently and with great effect in said letter, so if you're squeamish about that, be forewarned.

But I have to say O'Connor's letter really impresses me.  I've given this subject a lot of thought, because it seems clear to me that the post-feminist notion of out-there-in-your-face female sexuality as being somehow empowering for a young woman is wrong-headed.  To me it feels like old-fashioned exploitation in a new shiny package.

Someone like O'Connor can say that much more forcefully and with more credibility than a middle-aged Mormon lady, right?

Rock on, Sinead.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A thought about blogging every day

As you know, I made it a little goal to blog every day during the year of our Lord 2013, and I mostly have.  Many of the posts are fragile, skimpy little things--probably not worth the paper they're printed on (or the internet space they occupy) (or whatever it is we say these days), but the exercise has been invaluable to me.  Here's why.

Historically whenever I've sat down to write, I've felt a LOT of anxiety.  Like enough rushing anxiety to shoot my eyeballs right out of their sockets.  The exercise of writing every day--even just a little bit--has made it easier for me to sit down and get busy on other writing projects.  I did not foresee this as a result of my daily experiment.

And now when I tell writing students that you need to practice every day--just like basketball players or pianists--I will be speaking from experience instead of talking out of my hat.  (Or whatever it is we say these days.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

More meter!

Well, all that ranting I've done about parking meters has turned itself into a column.  Awesome, right?

Meanwhile, I have been assigned a new editor at the Trib.  My previous editor, the fabulous Lisa, has a lot of new stuff on her plate due to the recent shakeup, so I'll be working with someone else who I've been told is fabulous, too.

Change always makes me nervous.   Inside I'm still that kid who had a hard time saying goodbye.  To anything.   But change is also an opportunity.  This I have learned in lo these many years of living.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A double-minded day

When I look out of the east window, the day's all sunny and hey-come-outside-and-play!  But when I look out of my west window, it's a little grayer, a little cloudier, a little more of a hey-eat-a-doughnut-and-go-to-bed day.

I'm feeling a little double-minded myself.  Should I stay here at the computer and work on my novel? Or should I, in fact, eat a doughnut and go to bed?  I'll try sticking with the computer.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What elderly women inevitably say to me when they meet me in person

"I didn't recognize you.  You don't look like your picture in the paper.  That's an awful picture.  I'm serious."

I really, really like that apparently you get to say whatever you want to say as you age.  That's awesome, don't you think?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Utah Humanities Book Festival 2013

I just got back from the library downtown where I heard Kristen Chandler and Kate diCamillo speak.  Tomorrow our friend Sara Zarr will be appearing, as well.  In fact, there's a lot going on with this festival and it's free.  IT'S ALL FREE.

So you should go!

Here's the 411.  Which is the kind of thing Cher said in Clueless.  Man, I loved that movie.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Meter update

The very day after I wrote my parking meter screed, I parked on the street downtown.  I was worried that I was running out of time, so I tried to feed it a little extra money to keep the good times rolling.

But can you guess what happened?

Instead of adding more time to the time I had left, the meter re-set and started all over again, which meant I had less time on the meter than I had when I started.

I started screaming in the streets right then, just like Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire.  

Only I wasn't yelling "Stella."  Because I don't know anyone named Stella.

And anyway that would have just been weird.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This week's column, y'all.

It's all about TRQ's mother, my grandmother, who was probably the single most important person in my life until I was about nine.  As I grew older I sometimes resented her because she was such a human tsunami,  and I often felt powerless in her presence.  But living without her for all these years has had a gentle winnowing effect on my memories, and what I do linger over now was her goodness.

I miss her.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What the doctor didn't order

I promise not to keep harping on this because it's SO MIND-NUMBINGLY BORING.  But as you know, I've been struggling with the onset of fall more than usual.  A lot more than usual.  So I talked to my doctor about this yesterday and went dude.  What gives?  And he said, the problem is you're going into your hard seasons already burned out.

As soon as he said that, I went dude.  You're right.  That's exactly what's going on here.  And you know what else is going on here?  I'm calling my doctor "dude" a lot.

So then I asked for a magic pill that would make me feel excited about everything happening soon.  Halloween.  Fall planting.  Amber light and blue skies.  A pile of good books to read.  Trips to the farmers' market with my granddaughter.  FOOD.  FOOD.  MORE FOOD.  And he said sorry.  No special super magic pills.  Just employ your strategies.  Light box.  Exercise.  Mild anti-depressants.  Friends.  Gratitude journal.  

And you know what?  I found this kind of comforting.  It was like he said, yeah.  This sucks for you.  But it's okay.  You'll weather it, just like you have before.

Here's to weathering!  And now I will say no more on the subject.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Do you have anything in your life that makes you unreasonably angry?

And by "unreasonably angry" I mean you realize your trigger is small and petty and entirely first world?  And you know your rage is completely out of proportion to the trigger?  But still?  There it is?

Well, I do.  Can you guess what it is?

If you said "Parking Meters in Downtown Salt Lake" you would be right.  I've written about this before, so in addition to being unreasonable, I am also being BORING.  But seriously, every time I tangle with one of those damn meters--and by "tangle with one of those damn meters" I mean see one through my windshield as I'm driving down the street, I feel my blood pressure shoot up like a bottle rocket through the sun roof.

For starters it bugs me that the price of parking on the streets has gone up.  And also now you can't park for free after 6:00.   And also you have to remember what your parking space number is as you look for the pay station.  Which is hard if your brain is old and reluctant to hang onto parking spaces numbers, which you don't see the point of anyway.

BUT WHAT I HATE THE MOST is that you can't draft off the coins the guy before you fed into the meter, because you have no way of telling how much time is left.  So even if there's an hour left, you have to pay for the space again.  Which makes me feel ripped off and pissed.

And now they've even put meters down Edison Street which is basically an alley where employees of Cedars of Lebanon go to smoke on break.

Oh, Mayor Becker.  There are eight paragraphs in this post.  Count them for yourself.  Eight of them.  I never write posts this long.  See what you have wrought?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The True Story of TRQ and the Sunglasses


After all these years and even after football is no longer the Family Biz, I still wake up feeling like shit after an ugly loss like last night's ugly loss.  I just said this to Ken Cannon who remembered when he first married into the family and how surprised he was that TRQ wore sunglasses to church the day after a loss like Jackie O on her way to board the Onassis yacht.  He found her slightly frightening, because it was clear those sunglasses were saying to the rest of the world, "Don't look at me.  Don't talk to me.  And especially don't touch me.  Or. I. Will. Kill. You."

WARNING:  I am wearing sunglasses all the whole damn day long.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What I am grateful for today

That I will not be making any cookies next week for my kids' English teacher.

When my kids were at West High they always bet their English teacher a plate of homemade cookies that BYU would beat Utah.  Sometimes the English teacher bit.  Sometimes she didn't.  In fact, she only said GAME ON the years that Utah looked strong, which meant she always won, which meant I somehow ended up making cookies to teach my children to honor their bets.  And also to teach them that I would cover their stupid bets for them whenever they lost.

Yes!  Just call me the Enabler-in-chief!

Anyway.  As my granddaughter and I made chocolate chip cookies yesterday, I said a little prayer of gratitude that I did not have to share them with anybody who cheers for the U.

It was a good day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What I thought this morning

Maybe I'm giving myself more credit than I deserve, but I like to think that no matter where I may have ended up, I could have found the beauty in that place.

Okay.  You're right.  I didn't do that in Finland.  But I think that had more to do with where we were in our lives at that time.  It was just a tough go there.

But whatever.

The point is this--when I walked outside and looked at the mountains this morning, I was overwhelmed by the extravagance of it all.  The colors.  The textures and shapes.  The visual drama.  AND I LIVE HERE.   I can step outside and see it every day.  I'm so lucky to live here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This is a pirate selfie

I'm not good at taking pictures of myself.  If I were, more than half of my lips would be showing.  OBV.  Anyway, it's National Talk Like a Pirate Day, and apparently my Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe books are on some pirate-type website, WHICH IS AWESOME.  I feel incredibly famous now, which is why I'm going around taking pictures of myself like I'm a damn Kardashian.  Without a lower lip.  No self-respecting Kardashian would forget to wear her lips in public.  ALSO OBV.

Anyway.  I am skyping with two schools in Iowa today, where I'll be speaking like a pirate to them.  I love Iowa.  Today Iowa is my favorite state.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Red Velvet, Cold Stone ice cream, and other things

My friend Anne recently said to me that I remind her of the kind of person who gets up first thing in the morning and plans what she's going to eat that day.  And I said I remind her of that kind of person, because I am that kind of person.  For instance, I am meeting a former student at the Olive Garden for dinner tonight, and I am debating whether I should get ravioli or that sausage thing.

Well, I'll probably get that sausage thing.

Anyway, I've also been thinking about how some things just have never tasted as good as they did the first time I tried them.  You know.  Like Red Velvet.  I've written about that.  I think I'll also add Cold Stone ice cream.

The first time I ever had it, Ken Cannon and I were in Phoenix, going to spring training games, and we stopped off for a little ice cream.  I'm not a big ice cream person, but wow.  I did back flips all the way to the stadium after eating that ice cream because it was sooooo good.  However, whenever I've done the Cold Stone thing again, it's never been that awesome.  It's jsut been . . . ice cream.

Why is that, Oh ye Food Gods?  I would like an answer, please.

Have you had a similar food experience?  With what, specifically?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Help a girl out

. . . by adding your own suggestions.  This week's column!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The running vs. the biking

As you may recall, I was training for the St. George marathon this time last year, running many, many miles up and down State Street where I observed firsthand that Salt Lake City is home to many, many tattoo parlors.  You start seeing things in a different way when you're on foot in a town, as opposed to zipping around in a car.

Anyway.  I haven't run as much this year, but I have been biking.  And whenever I see people running--their flushed, sweaty faces contorted in pain--and want to say, "Dudes!  Biking is way more fun!"

I took a ride out on Legacy today to have some more of that fun, and at first it was awesome.  The morning was pleasantly cool.  The sun was shining.  There were birds to behold (a red wing blackbird and a red tail hawk, among others).  But then a stiff headwind set in, and suddenly I felt like pioneers dragging handcarts across Davis County.  

Except that instead of wearing a bonnet I was in spandex.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The brain is such a mystery

Don't you agree?

Why is it that I can have periods where the ideas for columns just come billowing out of my brain--I mean I just can't write them down fast enough.  And then there are periods like the one I'm in now.  My brain has turned all petrified.  You could display said brain at an elementary school science fair with a poster that says, "Petrified Writer's Brain.  Cannot Conceive of Anything New to Say."

I did manage to write a column this morning for tomorrow's deadline.  But people it didn't come easy.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

And here's another thing that makes me feel like a kid again

I know.  There's probably something REALLY wrong with my brain that I keep thinking this way.  But whatever.  I own it.

Meanwhile, I went on a bike ride today out on the Legacy trail, and along the way I decided to see if I could still ride a bike without holding onto the handlebars.  And guess what.  I DID.  I was all LOOK, MOM!  NO HANDS!

No matter what happens for the rest of the day, it'll have been a great weekend.

Friday, September 13, 2013

An insight or two

Okay, I have to warn you.  This could be a depressing post, although I don't mean for it to be that way. You know me.  I like to scatter sunshine everywhere I go.

Anyway, a couple of things happened this week that have helped me understand what's happening in the world of publishing.  The first is that I heard a report on NPR saying that only 10% of the American population owns 90% of the wealth.  It's another Gilded Age, yo.   The disparity hasn't been this big in over 100 years.

My second "ah-ha" moment happened at TKE this week where I realized that the world of publishing is becoming a little like our economy.  It feels like instead of developing a group of mid-list authors who write good stand-alone books--a farm team if you will--publishers want to sign a few wunderkinds straight of high school (metaphorically speaking here) who will score big and score fast.  Right now a lot of the money is going into series for young readers.  Which I don't write.

The downside?  I wonder if I'll ever publish another book again.

The upside?  It won't be because I'm not a good writer.  After feeling a lot of frustration over the past few years, I am comforted by this realization.

Those of you who are writing and/or publishing, feel free to offer your two bits here.  I could be wrong about the current publishing model.  Would love to hear what you think.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yes, I am Officially the Crazy Lady on the Block

Remember this guy?

Looks like somebody found himself a girlfriend.