Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Some thoughts on New Year's Eve

Early in December I had a (TMI warning!!!!) breast infection that my fabulous doctor said was probably just--you know--a breast infection.  However!  There's an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer that manifests with the same symptoms, and so we needed to keep an eye on said breast.  So I did.  I kept an eye on that breast ALL MONTH LONG, which is why I now have a monster kink in my neck.

But whatevs.

Anyway, the infection appeared to clear up with antibiotics.  However, the symptoms reappeared this week, so Fabulous Doctor Mine got me in for a mammogram and ultrasound today.

It was interesting to sit there in my little mammogram gown, waiting for my exam while wondering if  everything about my life was about to change.  I realized then that I've been more concerned about the breast situation than I'd allowed myself to acknowledge--and that, in fact, my concern had (in certain ways) shaped the nature of this past Christmas season.  During the month of December 2014 I was equal parts melancholy, nostalgic and deeply grateful for all the small sweet things that are a part of my daily life.

Now for the good news.  Everything came back clean.  I'M CLEAN!  I'M CLEAN!  So that's excellent news to start off a new year, right?

Still, I want to hang onto that sense that life is, indeed, fragile--and its very fragility makes our experiences all the more sacred.

Monday, December 29, 2014

And now it's time for a New Year's column!

We've been having a delightful time here at chez Cannon, what with the naps and the snow and the boxes of caramels that have descended upon us like manna from heaven.

That is, if manna tasted like caramels.  Which would explain why the Children of Israel took forty years to find the Promised Land.  Who wants to find the Promised Land when you can have caramels for breakfast every day?

Anyway.  Speaking of food--here's this week's column.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Christmas column

The story of the Nativity has moved me over the years in different ways.  This holiday season I've been thinking about that moment my granddaughter, pretending to be the innkeeper, said that everyone was welcome to Bethlehem except for Mary.

Here are my thoughts about that part of the story.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A chat with Cary Elwes

Sooooo . . .

Cary Elwes passed through Salt Lake yesterday, promoting his new book As You Wish, which is a thoroughly charming memoir about the filming of The Princess Bride.  If you love that movie, you should get it.  I mean it . . .

Anyway, TKE was asked to sponsor the event, and when Anne told us the news, I immediately began quoting lines involving peanuts and so forth, and NEXT THING I KNEW, she asked if I would moderate the event.  You know.  Because I'm so moderate.

I said yes!  Of course! Who wouldn't want to interview The Dread Pirate Roberts?  And by the time last night arrived I was all aflutter.  I arrived early and Rob (co-worker and local awesome bbq aficionado) told me to go to the green room where Mr. Elwes was waiting, looking snappy in a black leather jacket, blue jeans and red Chucks.

Let it be said, the people, that he is indeed a tall drink.

Now  here's my favorite part of the story.  After graciously greeting me, he said absolutely the last thing in the world I would have expected.

Are you curious?

He told me that he respected what my father has done for American football.  And, in fact, we talked a bit about him and his career.  I won't lie.  I was kind of blown away that he somehow made that particular connection.  Even though I do write about him here sometimes, I don't often tell people about my dad because I don't want to come across as--you know--someone who tells people about her dad.

In the brief time we spent together, I found Cary Elwes to be intelligent, kind, well-mannered, interested in people other than himself and down-to-earth.   A true knight.

Thanks, Anne Holman, for the opportunity.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Nativity as interpreted by my granddaughter, who's four years old

She's in the next room right now, re-enacting the Nativity.  This is what she has the innkeeper saying:


Poor Mary.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A now for a little Christmas music!

I list a few faves in this column and would love to hear about yours.  Also, which holiday songs would you be happy to NEVER EVER HEAR AGAIN?

Friday, December 5, 2014

I love my TKE family

So, as some of you may recall, The King's English has an ugly sweater competition each year.  And, as some of you may also recall, I never win that contest, in spite of my best efforts.  You may read about my frustrations in one of last year's Christmas columns.

Anyway.  Today was our annual party, and certain people at the store were talking crap to me (I'm looking at you, Paula).   They were all like, "I'm working on my sweater, yo.  You don't stand a chance, yo."

And I thought to myself, "They're right, yo.  I don't stand a chance, yo."

So it was with a heavy heart this morning that I broke out the old sweater.  In fact, I almost didn't put it on.  In fact, I almost didn't go because I'm not feeling very well.  But that's another story, PLUS WHICH this party is one of the highlights of my year.

So I went.

And when I walked into Sally's house, I noted--because I have excellent noting skills--that I was the only person wearing a Christmas sweater.  Also antlers.


So then I said, "Did I not get the memo?"  whereupon Whitney fell on the floor.  Laughing.

They let me win, people.  My TKE family LET. ME. WIN.  It's a freaking Christmas miracle, yo.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Judge not

Because, of course, you'll probably get it all wrong.

Like, last night I went to a concert up at the church to hear a choir of mostly middle-aged women perform Christmas songs.  They were lovely women, none of whom immediately caught my eye as possible bongo drum players.


A number of the songs the group sang were old spirituals that required some bongo-ing and WOW!  The choir member who stepped up to the drum plate was about the last person I expected to do so.  She looked like someone who might write etiquette books as a hobby.  But sister wailed.  Not only did she play that bongo drum, she rocked it.   I'll admit it.  I goggled.

It always restores my interest in the human race when someone does something unlikely.

Way to go, human beings!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lighting up

I love misleading headings, don't you?

My column this week is about putting up Christmas lights.  Since the Trib changed its website, I've been told that my column is much harder to find.  I suspect my web traffic is down, which depresses me a little in spite of my editor's best efforts to promote the column.  But what are you gonna do?

Meanwhile, I do have one comment.  From "Bob."  AKA "Ken Cannon."

Thank you, "Bob"!

Monday, December 1, 2014

What Not to Cook

This morning on our walk we engaged in a Thanksgiving post-mortem, discussing what we'll all do differently in the future, knowing full well that we won't.

In my case I toyed with the idea of NOT making the traditional Jell-O salad.  It's the one stuffed with blueberries and crushed pineapple, not to mention the cream cheese and whipped cream part.  Also, you top it with more whipped cream and bananas.

But it's a SALAD.  So it's healthy.

It's also remarkably beautiful and makes a lovely, shimmery showing on the dining room table.  People oooh and also ahhh when they see it.  The only problem is they don't actually seem to eat it.  I'm not sure why, because it's also very tasty.  Especially for a salad.  Maybe they hate to spoil the optics of the salad by digging in?  Who knows.

At any rate, I always have a lot of it left over.  So I put it in the Retirement Center for Food--aka "the fridge"--telling myself we'll get around to eating it eventually.  Which we don't.  So then I throw it away.

Will I make it again next year?

I hate to say this, but yeah.  Probably.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Granddaughters at Costco

Today I took my four year-old granddaughter to Costco (TWO DAYS BEFORE THANKSGIVING?! DEAR LORD, WHY?!)

Anyway.  She did better than I did.  I'm not a fan of the Costco.  Too much!  Too big!  My brain shuts down in response to the size of it all.   But that's not the point.  The point is that my granddaughter had a great time, especially in the checkout line when she started singing at the top of her lungs, "BUTTS!  BUTTS!  BUTTS!  BUTTS!"

Then she would look at me and say, "That's a real song, Tutu."

Then she would sing some more of that real song.  BUTTS!  BUTTS!  BUTTS!  BUTTS!

Now here's the worst part.  I've been singing BUTTS!  BUTTS!  BUTTS!  all day long now, too.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Recipes and so forth

This week's column just went up.  It was inspired on my morning walk when Sally and Nancy recalled that day many, many, many years ago when Nancy wouldn't share her mother's chocolate ribbon cake with Sally in spite of the fact that they're best friends.

Nancy shares now.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A realization about the way the universe does and does not operate

So I have these super old pajama bottoms with a stretched out waist, and whenever I put them on I say, "Dude.  I need some new pajama bottoms."

This morning as I was chasing the puppy, aka "The Charming Terrorist," down the stairs, my pajama bottoms fell off and wound up as a puddle of pajama fabric around my ankles.  And it was in that moment I realized that it (apparently) is NOT enough to float your desire to have new pajama bottoms out there.  The universe will not stop what it's doing and magically bring a pair to your house.

You have to go to a store and buy them for yourself.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A possible answer

When I asked my son what term I should be using now instead of Native American he said that tribal affiliation is preferred.  I have no idea if this is correct.

Meanwhile, I've had one of those days where if I'd dropped my toast, I would have dropped it buttered-side down.  I was just off.  When I went out for my walk this morning, I switched into story-telling mode, but halfway through my narrative I realized there was no there there.  No punchline.

Gah.  Not a fan of days like these!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Political correctness

So I try to keep up on these things, but sometimes I'm surprised.  Like when I wrote this column I used the term "Native American" at first, but then my smartypants son told me that term is now politically incorrect.

Moments like these help me to understand why my parents, who are in their 80s, will occasionally still say words like "deformed."  I'm guessing that one isn't very politically correct, is it?  But this is how they refer to their poodle's back leg.  Their poodle, they say, was supposed to be a show dog, except he has a "deformed" back leg.  So now he's only 3/4s of a show dog.

I love that 3/4s of a show dog lives in my parents' house.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dear My Blog

Dear My Blog,

How did this happen?  How did I let you turn into the houseplant that you put in the corner and then forget to water so that it shrivels up and dies, except before dying it makes you feel guilty and like a really bad person for letting something that was once green and full of hope turn into this yellow brittle almost-dead thing sitting in a cheap pot?

I'm sorry.  You didn't deserve my inattention.

Here's what happened, I think.

I had an exhausting summer.  And then I took on a few new obligations which I am excited about--working regular shifts at The King's English, for example--but suddenly I just felt busier and a little bit crazed and things sort of went by the wayside.  Like laundry.  And you.

However, I now feel more able to manage.  I won't replace you with another houseplant.  I'll just do my best to revive you.

Best wishes,

Ann Cannon

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A tiny Halloween screed

Right, I know I said I like Halloween.  I even wrote a column about it.  But I do have this question:  when did we start celebrating Halloween for an entire week?  Between school parties and church parties--all of which involve costumes and candy--I wonder if kids are worn out by the time Halloween actually arrives?

I think Halloween should be one day.  On Halloween.  Having too much of a good thing serves to diminish that good thing, don't you think?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another Monday, another column

So it must be said that I am not a good loser.

And to tell you the truth, this column is actually more about football than it is about baseball  . . .

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Something I suddenly missed today at the grocery store

Someone to help me take out my groceries (of which there were MANY) and load my car.

This used to be a standard part of the shopping experience.  An adolescent boy in his special grocery store uniform would help you out if you wanted him to.  Which I sometimes did, actually.

But now?  No.  The helpful grocery store boys have gone the way of the helpful gas station attendants and I miss all of them sometimes.  Like I did early this morning when I was slinging bags of dog food and cartons of soda and other things of an awkward size into the back of my car.

What do you miss?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What I bought instead of dog food, which I went to the store for in the first place . .

I bought a gnome with a Rudolph nose and antlers.

It was just standing there on top of the ice cream freezer, calling my name, saying, "I know it's not Christmas yet.  And I know that I'm not even officially on sale yet, which is why I and my antlers are standing on top of the ice cream freezer where nobody can reach us.  BUT.  I should go home with you and take my place amongst the many gnomes who reside in your yard."

So I made Tim from the pharmacy get the gnome down for me and when I held it in my arms like a toddler--a cute one with antlers and a Rudolph nose--I discovered a button.


A button on its feet.  So I pushed the button and the nose and other body parts (appropriate ones) LIT UP.  So then I walked through the store and the parking lot with a gnome with flashing body parts, cradled in my arms like a grandchild.  You could almost see people feel sorry for me.  And sorrier for my family.

But I feel fulfilled right now.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Lisa B writes about Halloween

So those of you who read my blog know Lisa B., my friend of many years who got me into blogging and who writes snappy comments.  Anyway, she pretty much wrote most of my column this week.

I think I owe her dinner at least.  Don't you?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Books for kids who wanna read about sports

Another Trib piece!

I've been writing a little bit more for the paper, and I must say I enjoy it.  That's one of the reasons I've been a little silent here--also, I've picked up a few regular shifts at TKE, which feels right and good, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Today's column

Yes.  It's all about the trip Ken Cannon and I took last weekend to the Great Basin National Park where I had many spiritual experiences.  It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Column, y'all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Books about girls and sports and sports and girls

I'm working on a Trib piece about sports novels wherein I mention Mike Lupica's new novel, Fantasy League, which is Moneyball for minors.  It involves a genius kid whose ability to pick 'em helps a struggling NFL team.

I know.

But Lupica is a good writer and the book reminded me of a fantasy I used to have when I was little, involving me saving the day.  I used to pretend that things had gotten so desperate for the Cougars that the Coach had no choice but to look up into the stands and signal for me to put on a helmet, join him on the football field, and reveal to a stadium of very (!) surprised fans all of my sweet, sweet moves.

Many years laters I was interested to learn that Jennifer Allen, daughter of the late George Allen and author of Fifth Quarter, used to have the exact same fantasy, because you know how third-grade girls are.

All kickass when it comes to helping the paterfamilias.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Here's something I'm grateful for today

That my dad isn't coaching anymore.

Honestly, I'm surprised by how CRAPPY I feel after BYU loses, even though I DO NOT CARE ANYMORE.  A loss just triggers all these memories of being afraid to turn on the radio to hear what people were saying or avoiding the newspapers to read what people were writing or going to Spanish class on Monday morning where Señor Jarman would talk about the loss like it was MY fault.

Dude!  I wasn't the coach!

Or as I would have said to Señor Jarman back in the dia, "Hombre!  Yo not soy el football coach!"

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thanks, Erynn!

My adorbs friend Erynn texted last night to ask if I'm ok because I've been so blog-silent.  She even asked me to rate my life on a scale of 1-10 to with 1 being the s*#@%!  and 10 being AWESOME!

Anyway, it reminded me that I really should update here.  I'm actually doing fine, but I have been a little busier than usual, and I'm still figuring out how to manage this new busy-ness.  I've gone back on the schedule at TKE (I'm working 2-3 days a week), and I've also been writing a little more for the Trib.  Last week I had three pieces in the paper, including . . .

This one based on an experience which reminded me why I'm kind of glad I don't have little kids anymore (EVEN THOUGH MY GRANKIDS ARE FABULOUS).

And there was this one where I discuss recently released Halloween books.

And then there was this one, which the Trib actually asked me to write.  They wanted something about conference.  I wrote it a little reluctantly, actually, because they've already got Kirby and Peggy doing the Mormon stuff.  Also, the comments get so STUPID whenever Mormon World gets mentioned in Trib, which just gets exhausting, frankly.  But I think (I hope) it worked out ok.  And that column certainly got much more traction than either of the other pieces.  Maybe I should just write about Mormons, Mormons, Mormons all the damn time.

Here's hoping I keep up the blogging.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why yes we DO have a new puppy at our house . . .

And I write about her here.

I'll get off my lazy rear and post some pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

An odd clothing-related moment

So, you see women wearing leggings and at the same time you hear things like LEGGINGS AREN'T PANTS which (obi) means there's a right way and a wrong way to approach the leggings situation.

Anyway, I recently bought some leggings from my Avon lady because who doesn't?  And I wore them to TKE the other night (I'm back on the schedule these days) with a longish shirt and yes.  Of course.  Shoes.

But suddenly I wondered if I'd gotten it wrong?  Did it look like I had forgotten something?  Like a skirt?  So I asked a customer if it looked like I was wearing clothes to her to her.

She said yes.

Which put both of our minds at ease.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A few things I don't understand

1.  Why I still feel so busy even though all my kids are gone and I don't have three paper routes anymore--

2.  What the hell Mayor Becker had in mind when he did that crazy stuff on Third South.
"Progressive" does not have to equal "noodles for brains"--

3.  Who MSNBC thinks they're reaching with their youth-oriented programs (Ronan Farrow, The Cycle, etc.) in the middle of the day.  HEY, MSNBC!  ONLY OLD LADIES FOLDING LAUNDRY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY ARE WATCHING!  LIKE ME!

Feel free to add to my grumpy list.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Football and tender times

I spent Saturday with the Coach and TRQ.  The Coach spoke at his best friend's funeral in Kaysville, and so it was all tender times.  His friend, btw, was the dentist we used to visit in San Leandro when I was a kid.  He and my dad met at USU where they played football and forged a friendship that lasted years and years.

Anyway, after the funeral my parents and I went to Paradise Bakery and ate squash soup, which suddenly made me feel the like the oldest person in the world.  Me.  Eating a little squash soup at 3:00 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon.  To keep my strength up.

We did a lot of remembering about DeVan (the dentist) who loved football even more than he loved teeth.  So then my parents and I talked about football--what's happening now and how much things have changed, which led to this exchange.

THE COACH:         I wonder if football will even be around fifty years from now.

ME:                          No football?  Well, I hope I'm dead by then.

THE COACH:         I'm pretty sure I will be.

Mortality, don't you know.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Louise and her iPad

Yesterday Louise Plummer and I had a serious talk about depression yesterday while eating Indian Food at Saffron Valley because apparently you're never too depressed to eat Tandoori chicken or vegetable korma.  When we were finished, Louise said, "Let's take a selfie with my iPad to show everyone what depressed writers look like."  So I said fine.

Here's the result.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I did it!

I wrote a column about gray hair.

Thanks for your input!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The problem with ashes

So Ken Cannon and I have taken to having our pets cremated when they die.  (Aren't you glad I added the "when they die" part?)  And then they return to us in lovely little cedar boxes with their names engraved on the top because this is an option now and when you're saying goodbye to a beloved dog or cat, having their ashes in lovely little cedar boxes with their names engraved on the top seems like a good idea at the time.

And then a few years later you look at your book shelf where you keep the ashes and go, "I have the ashes of dead dogs in my house."  And then you go, "Is this normal?"  And then you go, "What am I going to do with these lovely little cedar boxes with my pets' names engraved on the top."  And then you go, "What should I say if people ask me about this stack of boxes?" And then you decide you'll just have to lie.

Because people will think you're crazy if you tell the truth.

But not as crazy as a woman I know who had her pet wiener dog stuffed after he died.

Which makes me suddenly feel much better about myself.

Which is a good thing on a Monday.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Yesterday when I was in the car with the Old Coach and his friend, they reminisced about the experience of watching reel-to-reel movies--how the films sometimes caught on fire and so you'd be looking at this lovely frame when suddenly a corner started to bubble and burn like an oil slick.  So then the projectionist would shut it all down until the problem got fixed.

I feel a little this way about my brain in September.  I had a lovely e-mail from Lisa B yesterday, asking if I was enjoying this incredible weather or if the Little Black Dog was already trotting onto the scene.

Or both.

The answer is both.

The light this morning, people!   Is there any way to describe a garden bursting with nasturtiums and anemones and potato vines bathed in amber?  No.   I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the world and of all the people I love in this world right now.

But there's also the bubbling in the corner of my brain--the old sadness announcing its encore performance.  I wish I weren't wired this way.

On the plus side, though!  A low dose of Celexa and a lot of exercise work wonders for me.  And I have a lot of experience with this now, so I know how to manage.  I'm also lucky--truly lucky--because my seasons of sadness are not debilitating.   At all.

Meanwhile, my son and his wife and their exquisite child are visiting from Houston.  And I am doing a little canning today and will perhaps ride a horse this afternoon.  All of these are pleasures to be had when September comes to visit.

Monday, September 8, 2014

On punishment and pit bull rabbits . . .

When I went to lunch a few weeks ago with a couple of people from the Trib, I told the story about this rabbit.  And I enjoyed the stroll down Memory Lane so much I decided to write a column about it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dawn Houghton and Book Wagon

Dawn and I have been friends for a long time now.  Fact is that I adore her.  She's so funny, so smart, so good.  Also, I wouldn't mind looking like her.  A few years ago she created a non-profit that takes books to children in underserved areas of the valley.  I wrote about it here.

Get in touch with her if you have books to donate.

Thank you.

And while I'm saying thank you, than you for reading and commenting.  You probably don't know how much that all means to me.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, September 5, 2014


That stand for what would YOU do?

As in this--

Yesterday in the Smith's parking lot I saw a very, very, very thin woman with a stroller and 2 young children who were cute, friendly and dirty.  She told me they were homeless and could I help.  The unexpected presence of children gave this familiar scenario a different wrinkle.  I told her that I'd be happy to buy them a meal, so she asked her kids what they wanted and they said Lunchables.  I bought those, some apple juice, and a sandwich for the mother, which I handed off as I left the store.  They immediately proceeded to a corner and began eating.

So all of this was disturbing, of course.  My guess is the mother is a meth addict, which looks at once more horrible and banal in real life than it does on TV.   But the kids.  What about the kids?  Should I have called someone?  But who?

Ugh.  I feel like I've failed to do the right thing somehow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Life mottos

I think I've written about this before . . .

Yeah, this is bad.  I'm not only repeating my stories in conversations, I'm re-posting my stories.  Welcome to Senior Citizenland, my friends!

Anyhoo.  TRQ and I had a conversation about our life mottos the other day.  This is how it went.

TRQ:  I like that one that says everything will work out in the end.  And if things haven't worked out, it's not the end yet.

ME:  I always say, "Things could be worse and they probably will be."

TRQ:  That's horrible.

ME:  Is it?

TRQ:  Yes.  It's depressing.

ME:  Oddly, I find it comforting.

And then of course TRQ looked at me like with that familiar expression she has--like, did your dad and I accidentally pick up the wrong baby at the baby store that day?

But here's why I find my motto comforting.  I've had enough life experience to suggest that YES!  SOMETIMES THINGS GET WORSE!  And so it's a good idea to actively appreciate and enjoy the good stuff you have now before you end up in a wheelchair.

See?  That's positive.  I'm a positive person.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you thought it would

Well, it never does, actually.  But some unexpected journeys are particularly difficult.

About eight (is it even possible?) years ago,  I had the fabulous experience of working with Shelley Williams at my home away from home, The King's English.  She and I clicked right away in spite of our age difference--the Anne-of-Green-Gables-Kindred-Spirits thing.  In fact, Shelley clicked with everyone at work.  We loved her madly then, and we still do.

Last year Shelley and Trevor welcomed a beautiful baby girl into their lives with serious, serious medical issues.  Eloise spent the first nine months of her life in the NICU at both Primary and Utah Valley.  As you can imagine, this young family's medical bills are staggering, which is why Shelley is looking for different ways to relieve the financial burden.  To this end, she has created this fundraising page.

Love to Shelley and her family.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Update on the nose horn

Remember the nose horn?  The one the doctor removed and then said everything looked fine?

Well, the biopsy came back and the "nose horn" was, in fact, a "squamous cancer thing."  The nurse told me this over the phone yesterday.

ME:  Does this mean I have nose cancer?


ME:  Will you guys have to chop off my nose?


ME:  What do I have to do then?

NURSE:  Put Carac on your nose every day for four weeks and then come see us again.

ME:  Socially or professionally?

NURSE:  What is wrong with you?

I'm kidding about those last two lines of dialogue.  But the Carac part was true, so I picked it up from the pharmacy last night and (for the first time in my life) read the directions and also the side effects part, which WHY?  If you have to use something, you have to use something, so why even inform yourself about the side effects?    Especially when the side effects include "temporary hair loss" or "abnormal taste in the mouth."

What is this, I said to Ken Cannon.  Chemo in a tube?

Anyway.  This is not a big deal.  But it makes for a good blog post, right?

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Gah.  I suck at it.

Like, right now I just texted my son and called him "honey," because I always use charming little endearments with my sons.  But somehow it came out "honeypot," and I didn't correct it before it went out over the airwaves.  Or wherever it is that texts go.

And somehow while calling a son "honey" seems ok, calling one a "honeypot" just seems weird.

Why am I texting at all, you ask?

To avoid writing.

I always feel this overwhelming--even crushing--anxiety when I sit down to write.  One I get started I am OK.  Sometimes.  But this anxiety thing is bad right now.  It makes me wonder if there are any writers out there who just enjoy the whole act of writing.  I think my friend Mette Harrison does.  I'm sure there are others.

I just wish this was easier somehow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

School Daze

Let me start off this post by saying that today's young parents are awesome.  Because they are.  And also because I don't want to hear Alec roll his eyeballs when I say what I'm going to say.

Anyway.  School has started up again, so when Ken Cannon and I walk the dogs we see kids with backpacks on their way to class.  We also see their parents.  Lots and LOTS of parents.  And that's a good thing, I know.  They're concerned about safety and they want time to connect with their children.

But I can't help but think every time I see kids with so many adults that I'm glad I grew up when I did, i.e. back in the Stone Age when mothers shoved you out of the cave and then locked the cave door until dinner when you came home again.  Kids had a whole lot of space to structure their own worlds with their own secret languages and landscapes and dramas.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Well, I'm still sad about this one

You can read all about it in this week's column.

But don't worry.  I think I've found someone who can fix my mess.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Don't bother

Magic in the Moonlight, the newest Woody Allen thing, just isn't that (wait for it!) magical.


But whatever.

It's nice to look at but fatally devoid of charm.  And there's the surprise.  How can a movie with that cast be so charm-less?  It was just all unattractive personalities in lovely period costumes having boring out-of-place Woody-Allen-type-existential conversations.  Life.  Death.  Meaning.  Not meaning.  Blah blah blah.  Yadda yadda yadda.

 And when Colin Firth's character begins praying out loud for the speedy recovery of his aunt, I cringed.  And not in the way Woody Allen would have wanted me to cringe.  I felt like I was listening to that embarrassing assembly I wrote in the 7th grade called The Time Machine where 7th graders travelled back in time and visited Stone Age people who were dancing to music by The Troggs.

But that's another story.  And Woody Allen isn't in the seventh grade, although the film might have been more fun if dancing to the The Troggs had been involved.

I'm also wondering if part of my reaction has been colored by the reappearing specter of Allen's apparent fondness for young girls.  If I'd liked this movie--because I did like Midnight in Paris--I would have given the fact that Colin Firth (my age) and Emma Stone (my kids' age) fall in love a pass.

But in this unlikeable movie, it just seemed creepy.

I'd be interested in your thoughts.  It's truly a-ok for you to disagree with me.  If you liked the film, you could point out its virtues to me.  I like having virtuous thoughts.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Gray hair, don't care

None of the women in my family have gone gray.

Not on my dad's side.  Not on my mom's side.  My Aunt Ruby, who's in her 90s now, still has flaming red hair (appropriately enough).  And the last words my grandmother ever spoke in this world were "Pat, I need a tint tomorrow."

TRQ, a frustrated hair artist, started coloring my hair when I was eleven.  I KNOW.  She just put some blond streaks in there while we watched TV.  Stuff like that.  Because it was fun.  And as I got older I started messing with my hair color, too.  Sometimes I was a brunette.  Sometimes I was all Nordic looking.  Sometimes I did henna.  Once I had hair that turned purple and when a photographer at Olan Mills complimented me on the color, I confessed it wasn't natural.

"Please," he said.  "No one has hair the color of eggplant in real life."

Anyway.  It was just an unspoken rule that you don't go gray.  Gray is for women who've given up.

Which I kinda did this past year.  I didn't mean to, but somehow I just kept putting off appointments--partly because of the cost and partly because I didn't want to sit still while Vikki put tin foil in my hair so that the FBI and CIA will finally stop MESSING WITH MY BRAIN.

And then one day I looked in the mirror and I saw that I was graying and I kinda liked it.  And oddly so did Ken Cannon and the other males here.  And so . . . I'm experimenting.  And TRQ needs therapy over the issue, although she's trying hard to adapt to the idea.  I can hear her thoughts, though.  She's thinking Next thing you know she'll have a braid to her waist and wear sad little Birkenstock sandals, and she'll be throwing unattractive earthy little pots and giving them to us all for Christmas.

Anyway.  If you made it to the end of this post, do you think this is a subject for a Trib column?  Or is it way too slight?  Because you know how I am week after week.  Deep.

Sound off.  Be honest.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An unexpected pleasure just now in the strangest of settings . . .

So I just returned from the doctor's office where I had this thing taken off the end of my nose that has been growing unattractively there for awhile.  The doctor kept referring to it as "a horn," which did not make me feel any better about my appearance.  How would you feel if you'd been wandering around Salt Lake with a horn growing out of the end of your nose?

ANSWER:  Not cute.

Anyway, while I was sitting in the waiting room, I heard a man say to his wife, "corn and tomatoes and peaches."   So naturally I was interested.  In fact, he had me at "corn."  Which rhymes with "horn."  Which I was growing until the doctor removed it.

I looked over at him and realized he was reading the Trib.  A column in the Trib.  MY column in the Trib.  He was reading it to his wife and I was sitting right there and they didn't even know it because no doubt the nasal horn rendered me temporarily unrecognizable.

But here's the thing.  They were smiling.

Not a big deal, really.  But it pleased me.

This week's column . . . 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thoughts on having a kid come home from a mission

WARNING:  I have a feeling the following list could be long, boring and of limited appeal.  But I want to get stuff down before I forget.  Because five minutes from now I will have forgotten everything.  Such is middle age-ish.

1.  Avoid going to the SLC airport on a Wednesday.  It was a mob scene.  I've never seen so many people waiting for missionaries.

2.  A surefire to feel like a Mormon loser is to not have homemade signs welcoming the missionary home.  I did buy a banner that said WELCOME HOME from Party America.  But everybody made fun of me.

3.  Elder Cannon and all of his clothes smell like mildew.

4.  I can't understand him when he talks to me on the phone even though he is speaking English.

5.  It occurred to me as I was cleaning his room earlier this week that I'm done with another part of my life again.  It's not that I want to send more kids on missions, but this is just another rite of passage.

6.  It also means I'm inching toward death.

7.  Okay.  Forget #6.  It may be true, but I'm not anywhere near as morbid as that sounds.

8.  My heart breaks a little for Q right now.  I know he's happy to be home.  But I think this transition is hard.  Bittersweet, as Lana Barney said.

9.  He called from the airport in Atlanta at 5:00 a.m. yesterday to tell me that he was fine and that he's a vegetarian again.  I'd be disappointed if he weren't.

10. Really, one of the best hugs I have ever received in my entire life was the one he gave me in the airport.  I didn't think I was going to cry.  But I did.

11.  I really should have made him a homemade sign.

12.  On the other hand, at least no one can accuse our family of going over the top like other families there.

13.  Some poor guy at the airport asked me what was up with all the people.  I think he thought Kanye West was in the house.

14.  For once Ken Cannon's tendency to run late caught up with him.  He was still trying to park the car when Q. came down the escalator.

15.  We went to lunch at Rio Grande where all the brothers immediately turned into fourteen year-olds again.  LOUD ones.

16.  I'm sure we didn't leave a big enough tip by way of apology.

17.  I was unprepared for more tears when Q took off his missionary bade at the stake president's house.

18.  Q and I had a "planning session" this morning so he could make up his schedule for the next 10 days.

19.  I am recalling all the other homecomings of the other sons.

20.  I'm so glad he's home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


The mother in me is so happy to see this boy.  The shallow part of me is all WHEN DID MY UPPER ARMS START LOOKING LIKE THAT?!

BROS!  This is that sweet moment before they all started getting on each other's nerves again.

Missionary shoes . . . 

Why yes my grandson IS adorable, thank you very much.

Missionary joke!

Father and child reunion!

Ken Cannon probably trying to boss me around when he didn't know I was taking his picture . . . 


Family shot

Marginally better family shot


Quinton with his once and future roommate Dan.

Oops again.  Although style points for the pink pedal pushers, Bro!  Whoever you are.

Granddaughter's sparkly shoes.  Also!  anklet tattoo!  TRQ will have a fit!

Lunch at Rio Grande where all my boys except the RM turned into fourteen year olds again.


Ken Cannon talks with his hands.  A lot.

Best photo of the day, thanks to Phil.  Thanks, Phil!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Crazy grandmothers

My recent trip to Wyoming inspired this week's column.

I remember a conversation I had with Shannon Hale a long time ago after her sister died.  She told me she hated death--not because she doesn't believe in a hereafter but because the separation is so hard.  I thought of this as I wrote my column and remembered with love those who mean so much to me.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A snapshot of my future selfie (and it isn't pretty)

So yeah.  I'm a small-talker with store clerks.  I compliment them on their jewelry and tattoos.  I say something about the weather.  I may comment about the price of things, but only in a positive way.  I like to think this is me making a human connection.


I was just at a hardware store where a cheerful elderly small-talker (she had excellent earrings btw) wouldn't stop small-talking.  Like, those of us standing in line behind her heard the full life story of her garden hose.  How old it was.  Where it came from.  Where it went to college.  How many times it had been married and divorced.  The whole nine yards.  The whole nine thousand freaking yards.

And all I could do was offer a prayer up unto the skies and say, "Oh please don't let that be me one day."

Although now because I said that, I will most assuredly be that woman with the garden hose.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A little road trip with TRQ and the Coach

Here's where we stayed in Pinedale.  We went to see our relation Ava who is in a care facility now.  She's fab.  And she still had enough energy to try to kiss my dad on the lips.  The look of discomfort on his face = priceless.

Did I mention the place is called The Rivera?  It's super cute.  

They're pretty photogenic, don't you agree?  My dad is particularly happy here since he beat my mother at cards.  Twice.

Girl party!

Guy party!  (That's the joke at our house.  My boys think I'm a guy.)

TRQ made me take a picture of this.  I think she called them stackers.  You put hay on them.  Or maybe this is where you hang your chaps out to dry.

Because who doesn't love an antler arch?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Various angels

My friend Kathy has decided to bake cookies for me to take to the residents of the rest home where I read picture books.  Isn't that fabulous?  And she bakes enough so that I can have one or two myself.  Or three.  More fabulousness, right?

So anyway, I went yesterday with a couple of picture books and a big bowl of cookies, and the residents were thrilled.  After we were finished, one of the residents said a prayer (because technically this is a church meeting thing), and this is what she said, "Dear Heavenly Father.  We are SO GRATEFUL for Ann's neighbor.  Please bless her, and also please bless her that she will . . . "

Big long pause.  

I'm pretty sure the resident wanted to say, "Please bless her that she will keep making us cookies."  But apparently that was too naked of a request, so here's how the prayer ended:  "Please bless her that she [Ann's neighbor] will keep being an angel on earth."

So nice.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

When characters become your friends

So I've spent the last few years working on a novel.  Don't know if I'll ever sell it, but I think about the main character, Emi, a lot.  You spend that much time with a person--even a not real person--and it's hard not to wonder what she's up to when she's out of eyeshot.

I often feel this way about my characters.  After I finished writing The Shadow Brothers (a billion years ago) Ken Cannon and I spent some time on the Navajo reservation, and I said to him, "I wonder if Henry will be happy here."  And Ken Cannon said, "Henry?  As in the fictional boy in your fictional story fictionally called The Shadow Brothers?"

He was alarmed, don't you know.

And who can blame him?

Monday, August 4, 2014

This week's column

I used to be really good at trivia.  Like Jeopardy-nerd good (not counting the potent portables category).  But now my talent is languishing . . . all because of The Google.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Series and so forth

Here's a story I did for the Trib this week and series and why kids love them.

I love them, too, actually.  So Lisa B. what's the police procedural series you're reading these days?

And as long as I'm answering questions, Lauren, Boyhood is a good movie.  A date movie?  I don't know.  If you don't mind the f-bomb Chef is very sweet-natured.  Also, food porn is involved.

Friday, August 1, 2014


My friend Amy asked if I wanted to see Boyhood on the day it opened (today) and because I love doing stuff with Amy I said yes.  Also, I just watched Dazed and Confused this week, so why not make it a Richard Linklater festival?  Aw right, aw right, aw right!

Anyway, when Amy and I showed up at the Broadway I went into PURE PANIC MODE when I saw that the film is over three hours long.  People, I do not do ANYTHING that's three hours.  As Ken Cannon is fond of saying while pointing at me, "She has a short attention span."


See what I mean?

So I told Amy I didn't think I could sit through such a long movie.  And she said it was totally cool if I left any time I felt like it.  And I said if we had to leave early, I would buy her another ticket so she could see the rest of the movie.  And she said don't be ridiculous.  She understands the feeling of being trapped, which is why I always a) drive my own car and b) park on the street rather than in underground parking lots.  I'm a freak this way.

Anyhoo--I watched.  Entranced.  I didn't even fake going to the bathroom, which I always do in every single movie I ever watch just so I can get up and move for a few minutes.  I'm kind of in SHOCK over this development, and I have absolutely no idea why Boyhood worked so well for me.

Maybe because it just felt so real somehow?  I don't know.

Please!  Offer your insights and reactions.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's been that kind of day

I kept trying to write the word "viral" today.  But instead I wrote "vile."  And then I wrote "virile."

I love it when things go all virile.  Don't you?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book lists!

The other day I was thinking about a few of the books that have meant the most to me and le voila!  The idea for a column magically appeared.

I love magic.

I would also love to read lists of books that have mattered to you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

You know why I'm blogging right now?

To avoid the writing I'm supposed to do today.  Gah!  I hate it when I'm like this.  I blocked out the morning to work on a Trib books piece due Wednesday and instead I have done the following--

1.  did laps at the pool
2.  mopped the kitchen floor
3.  vacuumed the entire downstairs
4.  drank several Dr. Peppers
5.  ate half an apricot
6.  called my mother-in-law
7.  made multiple trips to the recycling bin
8.  called Vikki and made an appointment to have my hair trimmed
9.  ate a piece of watermelon well past its prime
10. called TRQ


I'm getting to work now, people.  I promise.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Also! Quinoa!

And this just in!

My interview with Tiffany Beveridge who has just published a wicked parody of living life with a precocious (albeit imaginary) child.

What baseball can teach you about life

Yeah.  That's what I wrote about in this week's column, which I forgot to post earlier in the week.  Meanwhile!  Friday!  Celebrate!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Happy (Quiet) Pioneer Day

It's been quiet here.

Kathy and I strolled down to South Temple early to watch the runners.  Afterwards I went home and made potato salad for lunch at noon, which also turned out to be a quiet affair.  Then I took Al and his family to the pool which we had to ourselves, so yeah.  Things were kind of quiet there, too.

When did quiet become the new noisy at our house?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See

This is the gorgeous title of a gorgeous new book by Anthony Doerr.  I finished reading it on my way home from Houston and I felt transformed by the experience.

When you love a book as much as I loved that one, it's hard not to put on a white shirt, a tie, a pair of shiny Swedish knit pants from Mr. Mac's, and a nametag in order to proselytize the reading public so that they, too, can partake in the rapture.  (Right.  I'm mixing religious metaphors here.)  This, of course, can be a dangerous thing because maybe I just read this book at exactly, exactly the right time so that it spoke to me on a cellular level, which would make me a problematic judge.  Is the book as stunning as I think it is?

I don't know.  But I lived a life apart every time I opened it.  I could taste it.  It's been a long time since I've felt this way about a novel.

Incidentally (and not that it matters), four of my all-time favorite books are set against the backdrop of WWII--

The Madonnas of Leningrad  (Debra Dean)
Prince of the Clouds (Gianni Riotta)
The Lost Garden (Helen Humphreys)

And now this.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The dogs of Liberty Park

I always think it's interesting to see what kinds of humans own which kinds of dogs, because you know!  It's always so much fun to generalize!

Anyway.  Running every morning in Liberty Park gives me a chance to draw some loose conclusions on this front and here's what I've observed.

Pitbulls are often owned by young females in their twenties or early thirties.  Tattoos are frequently involved, although not always.

Toy breeds are often owned by large men of color.

Golden retrievers and worthy rescue dogs are often owned by gray-haired couples who listen to NPR.

Feel free to add observations of your own.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

When selfies go wrong

Yeah, so I've mentioned before that I hate photos of myself.  And I hate that sometimes I have to send people photos of myself.  Like today.  I had a gentle reminder from someone that they're waiting for me to send a bio and a photo for a talk I have to do this January.  So OF COURSE I can't find any j-peg deals on my computer, so I run outside and start taking disastrous selfies.  Which you can see for yourself.

Yes.  People always like photos of walls behind your head.

Objects are larger than they appear  . . . (thanks Gary Larsen)

Hahahahaha!  I LAUGH in the face of danger!

And then I decide to tuck my chin in front of the camera and laugh some more.  Hahahahaha!

Ooooo!  Perky!

Less perky. . . but with branches coming out of my ears!

Suspicious Face

I'm in the dark.  As usual.

I had a neck once.  It was a good one.  I miss it.

Blogging resources

Kids, are you aware of any blogs that accept and publish material from writers (like all of us)?  Any responses will be much appreciated.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Beat up shoes

And here's the visual to go along with today's column!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

BYU Symposium on Books for Young Readers

Chris Crowe decided to cooperate FOR A CHANGE and gave me this lovely interview on BYU's upcoming symposium.  It's a good one, people!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Through a glass, darkly

If I had to choose which sentences is the most beautiful of all the sentences in the English language I would choose this one:  "For now we see through a glass, darkly;  but then face to face:  now I know in part;  but then shall I know even as also I am known."

The arrangement and rhythm of the words themselves move me.  But the beauty for me happens on another level as well.

Lately I've been struggling (again) with the idea of suffering, specifically with the suffering that mental illness causes to the afflicted person and to that person's family.  I have so many moments where I just look at what mental illness does--the waste it engenders, the sadness, the helplessness, the hopelessness when things are going badly--and I just want to say Oh really, God?  What's the point of this one?  Will someone Holy please explain it to me?  Is that even a possibility?  Because guess what.  I. Just. Do. Not. Get. It.  At all.

But sometimes grace descends in the form of words, and I hear them call to me.

On this side of the glass.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On being given a shot in the arm by a chatty person

And by "shot in the arm" I mean a literal shot.  Not a bit of cheering up.

Anyway.  A few months ago I finally dragged this self to the doctor's office to see why I'm so TIRED all the time and my doctor said I needed some Vitamin B12 injections for awhile, which I am now getting.  Last week when I went in, this very nice young man showed me into the office and announced he would be giving me my shot.  And then he announced this was his first day on the job.  And then he announced he just graduated from high school.

So.  Did you know America is a country where 18 year-olds give shots in doctor's offices?

Well, he was cute.  And he gave me the shot which (I'll be honest) felt like a shot an 18 year-old boy who just graduated from high school would give you.  Then he put a bandaid (no princess bandaids!  SAD FACE!) over the shot hole and a few days later when I remembered to take it off, my upper arm region was all bruise-y, which I didn't mind, frankly, because you know.  Badass.

But I'll admit when I saw the same kid this morning I kinda started dreading the upcoming experience.  And this time while giving me the shot he told me about his recent senior trip.  (The lake was cold!   But he and his friends had an awesome time!)

You'll be pleased to know he didn't tell me this was only his second week on the job.  Dude's gone all shot pro.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

And now for a word about a little epiphany I had yesterday while bringing in the sheets

So I've spent a lot of my life not liking my body.  I suspect I'm no different than most women this way, not counting Kim Kardashian who CANNOT stop taking selfies and putting them out there for all of us to see WAY MORE of that body than we ever wanted to see.

But that's not the point.

The point is that I've always felt like I was too something-or-other.  Mostly too stumpy, I guess.  I don't want to engage in too much Public Therapy here, but the fact that TRQ was always a tall drink of water didn't help.

Anyway.  Yesterday I washed sheets and put them outside to dry because I love doing that in the summer.  And when I gathered them up last night, I hugged them to my chest and buried my nose in them and just drowned myself in the smell of sun and air and leaf and then I hugged the sheets some more because I loved them so much.  And suddenly I loved this old body that could smell the scent of outside-ness on clean cotton.

Thank you, Body!  I'm sorry for all the years I've called you names.  Although, frankly, I'll probably call you those names again when the mood hits.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A report from the beach

We did the annual family beach vay-cay last week.  It was nice to sit on sand after the (FABULOUS) intensity of WIFYR the week before.  Anyway, the trip inspired this week's column.

Grunions are involved.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A column and also a word about WIFYR 2014

So here's this week's column, inspired obv by upcoming Travel Plans.

And here's my shout out to this year's WIFYR experience.  I had such fabulous students.  I really, really did.  And if they were standing here next to me right now I would say KEEP WRITING.  Keep writing.  You can do this.

Nouns again, starting tomorrow.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Solstice writing retreat

So last summer I taught at this writers' conference and y'all (this is the second time I've written "y'all" today) IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!

Check it out and see if you're interested.  The focus is on writing non-fiction, although Dean Hughes will talk about writing historical fiction, which is a specialty of his.  I'll be talking about writing columns and blog posts and feature articles and so on and so forth.  But mostly we'll be workshopping--sharing our writing in an effort to make us all better.  Also shinier.

One of the HUGE PERKS of my involvement in the conference last year is that I made some lovely new friends.  Are you listening, Megan?  And I was able to re-connect with the sister of a dear childhood friend.  That would be you, Melody.

Think about joining me, Chris Crowe, Dean Hughes, Louise Plummer and John Bennion at the Homestead in July.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sheila (this one's for Emma)

By the time Becky's daughter Emma was born, her mother, Sheila, had already had the aneurism that left her disabled.  Emma never had a chance to contend with Sheila the Force of Nature whose petite frame and Audrey Hepburn-style belied a giant and absolute fierceness--a fierceness for culture, for intelligent conversation, for social justice, for beauty, for an end to hypocrisy, for travel and education and a chance for her children to get ahead in this life.

Also, it must be said, she could be a flirt.  She was beautiful and stylish and enjoyed the company of men who appreciated those qualities.

I was a little afraid of Sheila when Becky and I were younger, but then I was afraid of lots of mothers in those days now that I think about it.  Who knows why?  (Actually, being a mother who scares children--your own and other people's-- is an awesome life-skill.  I often wish I'd had the art of it in me.)

Anyway.  I asked Becky once (we were lying on the grass in Uncle Bud's Park, looking up at the sky) if her mother liked me.  "Not really," she said.  "Why?"  I asked.  "She doesn't think you're good enough for me," Becky said.

But then one day when Becky and I were in high school, Sheila DID like me.  And I remember when that happened, too.  I could feel her watching me in the Brown family's front room with a slight, approving smile on her face.  There were lots of people there, and somehow I managed to talk to people and behave with a certain amount of grace.  And after that evening, she told Becky that I had turned into a grownup with excellent manners.  It was one of the loveliest compliments I've ever received.

Of course once you REALLY grow up, you're not afraid of the adults in your life anymore.  You realize they're just people like you.  And I became very, very fond of Sheila--the old Sheila and the new one, too, who sometimes calls me, even though those calls are so difficult for her to make.

I love your grandmother, Emma.  I truly, truly do.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On writing about family

My brother Jimmy and I had an e-mail exchange today that has me thinking . . .

Here's the deal.  My family of origin has nice people in it.  None of them was/is perfect.  But they're all decent human beings who like to laugh and who regularly cut other human beings a lot of slack.  When I write about my parents and brothers and grandparents, I write about them with amusement and affection and occasional sentiment.

My friend Annette once told me she hated some essays Eudora Welty wrote about her parents because Welty wrote about her childhood with amused affection, which came across as self-satisfaction to Annette, who (it must be said) had a difficult childhood.  Of all the ways I want to come across as to my readers, self-satisfied isn't one of them.  And yet it would be hard for me to write about abusive, drug-addicted, selfish family members, because they weren't.

I don't know.  I'm wondering if people just roll their eyeballs when I write a Mother's/Father's Day column and go "Oh, here goes little Miss Fancypants, writing about her awesome family again."

I hope not.  And also, I have no Fancypants.  Not clean ones any way.

To be clear, this is not a plea for you to tell me I'm okay, although I know it reads like one.  I would like to hear how reading memoir about other people's families feels to you.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Just in time for Father's Day

. . . a heartwarming story about a father who lies to his children.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What we said to one another today

ME:  I feel fat.  Do I look fat?

TRQ:  No.  I need to lose weight, too.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Burrito (noun courtesy of Lauren)

My first exposure to Not American Food came at the old El Azteca restaurant in Provo--the one just off of campus.  It was upstairs in some sort of semi-dumpy building (maybe it had even been an old house once?  I can't remember) but when you walked into the restaurant with its big velvet paintings of Aztecs everywhere, Honey you felt like you and your family had gotten on a bus and gone some exotic place where volcanoes erupt and papayas grow so abundantly on trees you can just pick them whenever you feel like it.  Except, of course, when the volcanoes are erupting.

Anyway.  It was our family's favorite place to eat.  We'd go there maybe once a month.  Sometimes with the Hudspeths (football coaching buddies), sometimes by ourselves.  The owner's son (Luis?) would wait on us, shimmering like Jeeves to our table side for our orders, which often involved burritos.  And flautas.  And rellenos.  And fabulous beans all fried up in Manteca, which is the King of Monounsaturated Fats.  Next to Olive Oil, of course.  So maybe it's only the Prince of M. Fats.

But whatever.  That's not the point.  The point is that to this day, Mexican food is my go-to comfort food.  I love it and would rather not exist if it all went away.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Nun (noun courtesy of Jimmy)

I was thinking about pregnancy dreams the other day--how crazy they are.  Like, once when I was pregnant I dreamed that I drove all the way to Utah Lake before I realized I'd accidentally left my baby on the roof of the car.

Oh.  Wait a minute.  I did that in real life.


Anyway, the creepiest pregnancy dream I ever heard about was the one TRQ had when she was pregnant with me.  She dreamed she was in the Salt Lake Temple and that she kept hearing this odd sound in the hallway.  So she got up, opened the door, and saw nuns rolling gurneys with dead people up and down and up and down a very long corridor.

Have fun with THAT one, Brother Freud!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cellar (courtesy of Megan and also apparently Willa Cather) (who knew?)

Today I am rush-writing about the word cellar which I had cause to think of yesterday because our cellar is a graveyard for all kinds of things, including vacuum cleaners that don't work anymore.  I'm not sure why we don't just throw them away, other than the fact that I feel guilty about throwing machines away because I'm convinced one day they'll rise up like zombies and COME GET ME because of the adversarial relationship machines and I have had my whole life.  So at least I can let them RIP in my nice cool basement as a gesture of good will.

But that's not the point.

The point is that I thought about all those dead vacuum cleaners in the cellar because yesterday one of my neighbors--a young man who's working as a vacuum cleaner salesman--came over to the house to give me a demo.  I said yes to be nice.  I don't need a new vacuum and also I had just vacuumed earlier in the morning with my fancypants Oreck, so I was feeling all smug and clean AND SASSY the way you do when you've had a successful session of vacuuming the back room.

Anyway.  My neighbor came in with all kinds of attachments and so forth and this thing looked so complicated I thought he and I could crawl inside of it and FLY TO THE MOON.  Hopefully with George Clooney.  After putting the thing together he (my neighbor, not GC) proceeded to run the vacuum over my carpet and then take out filters to show me how dirty, in fact, my carpet still was.

And The People it was dirty.  Apparently I have a whole continent of microscopic dirt people living in my rug, eating traditional dirt people dishes and singing dirt people folk songs.   Again.  Who knew?

It does strike me that this is dangerous territory for a salesperson to navigate.  Yes.  My carpet could probably use a BIGGER BETTER STRONGER vacuum cleaner.  But how does it feel to be exposed as a slob?  Who won't be flying to the moon with George Clooney any time soon?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tropic of Candycorn

Killer post title, right?

So I had this student at Westminster who became a great friend who has just designed a website called Tropic of Candycorn which features travel tips for families with children.  I'm excited about this project because Erynn is an experienced traveller--and as generous and humble a human being as you'd ever hope to meet.

Check out her website and pass along the good word.

TRQ in the D-News

My old friend Lee Benson did this nice piece on TRQ.  She was so instrumental in the Coach's career, so it's nice to see her get a little upfront attention.

Rock on, TRQ.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Watermelon (noun courtesy of Sarah)

I sat in my friend Ceri's stunning garden last night with my stunning friend Ceri discussing foods we can't eat now because we associate them with illness.  You know.  Like that time in St. George when I ate an entire key lime pie (BY MYSELF!  BRING IT, TAKERU KOBAYASHI!) from Croshaw's and then came down with an epic case of the stomach flu.

Anyway.  The other night I offered Ken Cannon some tasty cold watermelon and he shook his head because you know.  THE HEPATITIS.  Many years ago when we had the Yellow Disease, the only things we ate were watermelon and popsicles and basically we lay on our bed, watching the Cubs play and wishing we were dead.  And wishing the Cubs were dead, too, because they stink so much.

As it turns out, I can now eat and enjoy watermelon--especially on a hot day.  But Ken Cannon?  Not so much--even though (oddly) he can still watch the Cubs.

Who (it must be said) still stink.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Light (noun courtesy of Blue)

I love this time of year because of the light.  Light, light, light.  It's all around me.  First thing in the morning until late-ish at night.  And when it's like this I want to be outside.  All. The. Time.

Today I took a bike ride in the light of Liberty Park with all that green dappled sunshine falling on my hair and everywhere.  I saw a young man strolling his baby and walking his pit bull and he was covered with tattoos.

Here's the deal with me and tattoos.  I'm always interested.  Emma, when your mother and I went to SF when we were 19, she was afraid that I'd fun off and get one (I didn't), but since I am old now, you can see from this that my fascination goes back for forever.

Anyway.  I always ask people about their tattoos.  At first I used to worry that the people would think I was being too forward, but what I've discovered is this--the tattooed ones like to talk about their ink.  So I always ask why they chose what they chose and I hear interesting stories.  Which brings me back to today's young dad.  He had a huge portrait of Karl Marx's head tattooed on his calf.  When I asked him why Karl Marx, he said, "Unfortunately there aren't many serious socialists around these days."

But  hot damn!  I met one today.  In Liberty Park.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What excellent nouns you all have!

Thank you.  I'll start free-writing tomorrow.  But first here's this week's column along with a photo.  FYI this bird hates having his picture taken as much as I do.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I need your nouns

Every now and then I feel like the old idea well is empty.  In fact I feel like that right now!  So I've decided to do the free write thing for a few days wherein I get you to send me nouns and then I do quick messy riffs.  In the past I even got a few columns out of your suggestions.

Thank you in advance.  I love you and your nouns.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

9/11 Memorial

This week's column is about my and TRQ's recent visit to the 9/11 Memorial.  The museum wasn't opened yet--just the grounds.  And, of course, that controversial gift shop.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Thoughts on blogging and bloggers

So apparently by the time I started up, everyone else was winding down.  I'm referring to blogging, of course, and how it's supposed to be passe and everything.   BUT.  I hope blogs don't disappear.  I hope bloggers don't stop blogging--especially bloggers who are telling real stories about real life.  I think at some level, personal narrative has always been my favorite form--both as a reader and a writer.  And what else is blogging except exercises in the personal essay?

Last week I read a piece written by my friend Megan who keeps a blog, chronicling her life with four boys--two of whom are special needs.  Her writing is always entertaining--Megan is as wry as she is observant.  But this particular post sent my heart into my throat.

Do not stop blogging, people.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ann Dee Ellis

The other night at the bookstore I had the privilege of introducing Ann Dee Ellis, who read from her new book The End or Something Like That.  And here is that introduction!

If you were to ask me as a teacher of creative writing what the hardest thing to teach is,  I would immediately respond “voice.”  We all recognize it when we see it—a narrative style that makes you sit up and take notice, one that feels fresh and wholly original—a style that is as unique and individual as an author herself.  Voice elevates an ordinary story and makes it memorable, even extraordinary—and when a voice feels authentic, we as readers feel like something so natural must also be easy to pull off.
            But take it from me--it’s not.
            That’s why when I read Ann Dee Ellis’ work for the first I was blown away.  I cannot think of another YA writer who has the gift of voice in the way she does.  She has it in spades.  Pick up one of her novels, start reading it, and you’ll see what I mean.  Ann Dee’s voice draws you into fictional words that simultaneously ring both eccentric and true.  Her use of language is startling.
            “Voice,” however, without heart can feel like mere novelistic wizardry, which Ann Dee’s narratives never do because her work always resonates deep within us.  We truly feel for her characters, young and vulnerable, as they struggle to make sense of a world that can be both capricious and cruel—a world where everything is not always fine.  And yet these very struggles somehow manage to take Ann Dee’s characters to a place of hope, a place of possibility. 
            Please join me and the staff of The King’s English in welcoming the very gifted Ann Dee Ellis.