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.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy Birthday

I love a good telling anecdote.  Like this one.

Once when my brother Jimmy and I were standing in front of his house in Henderson, NV on a hot summer day, a big garbage truck rounded a corner and came into our view.  Without staying a word, Jimmy slipped into his house and returned with a couple of Capri Suns.  When the truck rolled past his house, Jimmy tossed each of the sanitation workers a drink.  And then without missing a beat, he and I continued our conversation.

I've always thought this was a defining story about my youngest brother.  He's so aware and so endlessly kind.  He's also the funniest person I know, and he doesn't hold it against me that I used to make him wear a dress.

Happy birthday, Jimmy.  Get crazy today.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Who knew J-Lo could be so inspirational?

I know, right?

But as I was doing a bit of channel-surfing this weekend, I landed on a segment where she (J-Lo) was talking about how she called her mother once early in her career crying because she was so discouraged.  And her mother basically said, "You chose a tough business, Doll.  Don't come crying to me again."

I needed to hear that, because I've been a Mrs. Whiney-pants lately.   So here's my mantra this week:  writing is a tough business.  Sometimes things go well.  Sometimes they don't.  But no one is putting a gun to your head to make you do it.  So deal with it.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Another gnome has found a home (on my front porch)

This is Uncle Bob because he reminds me of my great-grandmother's youngest brother who smoked a pipe.  His name was also Uncle Bob.  See?  It's possible to know great-grandmothers and great-great uncles when you come from a long line of child brides.

Hecklers at a rest home

As I've said here before, I visit a rest home in our neighborhood here and read the residents picture books, which they generally enjoy.  Yesterday, however, one of the women wasn't happy about being there.  As I read The Rainbabies she kept shouting from her wheelchair, "Well, THIS isn't what I expected" or "BORING!"

This has happened to me before.  I used to go to a rest home out in Holladay and play the piano for entertainment purposes during the lunch hour.  I was like the piano player in the shoe department at Nordstrom, don't you know.  Anyway, one day they wheeled in two guys who sat and made fun of me the whole time.  I felt like I was on the Muppet Show with those two old grumpy puppets.

But hey.  Apparently I did entertain.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Over the years I have had the very real pleasure of meeting all kinds of wonderful people in classes I've taught.  I'm always happy to hear from them, and I love when they share their successes.

This summer I met Megan Goates at Solstice and have since enjoyed her  blog which chronicles the reality of living with special needs kids.  I was also happy to see this piece on KSL yesterday.  Well played, Megan!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dog days of summer

This morning on our daily walk, Ken Cannon asked me which dog of all the dogs I've owned has been my favorite.  He asked me this, I'm sure, because I am always asking him questions involving favorites.  Favorite city.  Favorite movie.  Favorite vacation.  So I suppose he thought turnabout was fair play.

I think he was surprised that I couldn't answer, though.  I told him that it was like asking me who my favorite kid is (although I do have favorites--it's just that my favorites change on a daily basis so I pretty much rotate through all five of those kids on a regular basis).

Here's what surprised me--that the question afforded me thinking pleasure that lasted all day.  How nice to remember all the dogs that have kept me company, starting with . . .

1.  Priney--a boxer who was my first friend.  TRQ used to put us out in the yard together.  People did that with kids in the 1950s and guess what?  IT WAS AWESOME.

2.  Thor--a Norwegian Elkhound who went crazy with joy whenever the first snow fell.

3.  Gigi--a French Poodle who had the same name as my friend Gigi Ballif who was always startled when TRQ yelled at "her" to get off the couch.

4.  Cricket--a Yorkshire Terrier who (okay) I wasn't so crazy about.  TRQ carried Cricket around in her bathrobe pocket when she was a puppy so our cat wouldn't eat her.

5.  Brutus--a Boston Terrier  who peed all over the Coach's boss during a dinner party once.  My brothers and I thought this was hysterical.

6.  Gretchen--a cocker spaniel who was the Cannon's first family dog.  She ended up living with my grandfather when we were in Finland, and he wouldn't give her back when we returned.

7.  Irene Adler--a red English cocker with an enormous nose and a queen complex.

8.  Bogie--a black and tan cocker who ate part of a light bulb and got his nose stuck in our disposal once.  He was amazingly nimble in spite of his impressie girth.  He was like a dog John Belushi.

9.  Basil--a black English cocker who was Irene's son.  He was born on top of Ken Cannon's shoes on the floor of Ken Cannon's closet.

10.  Aggie--a liver-colored field spaniel who was the best thing that happened to Dylan the spring he graduated from high school.  She vastly preferred men to women, which meant I was SOL in this house.

11.  Zora--a bronze newfie who has oddly dainty mannerisms in spite of the fact that she weighs 200 pounds.

12.  Holmes--a Cav who has a part of his ear missing.  He's the best company ever.  He's been on a diet for months now and weighs more than he did before we started.

Oh, dogs.  You are the best.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Feeling a little invisible anyone?

I like that my editor launches my column online before Wednesday.  I take on a subject I've touched on here at The WC (and Also What I Ate) before.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Goodbye, summer

I know.  It's been brutal.  Even I feel like saying "uncle" after days and days of this weather.  In fact, I WILL say "uncle."  Watch me.


But . . . I am dreading fall and winter even more than usual this year.  I don't know why.  I just already fill the dark ink seep into that sponge in my head, otherwise known as "my brain."  This morning on our long walk down City Creek Canyon, Kathy said maybe the anticipation will be worse than the real thing, and she's probably right.  Life often works like that.

Anyway.  Time to get some strategies in place.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

This month's book column

Here's the book report I did on nonfiction for kids.  I'm enjoying the opportunity to write a little more the Trib.

Have a good Labor Day Sunday.  And Monday, too.