Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wherein I learn something about a surprisingly athletic great aunt

I've written before about my grandmother's sisters Bea and Blanche.  They were about as opposite as two women can be.  Bea was all HEY, AIN'T LIFE GRAND?  and Blanche was all WHERE'S THE NEAREST OVEN SO I CAN STICK MY HEAD IN IT.

Also, Blanche is the one who sat on Bea's Happy Halibut that time at the mall.  I took them to buy some fish and chips and when we sat down we were missing an order.  We discovered, finally, that Blanche was sitting on it.  As you can see for yourself,  that aunt was no fun at all.  Obv.

Anyway, TRQ, the Coach and I went to a viewing up in Beaver Dam, where a very kind older woman asked who I was.

"I'm LaVell and Patti Edwards' daughter," I said.

"What's your name?"  she asked.

"Ann Cannon."

"Oh," she said, "were you adopted?"

After we straightened that bit out, her husband told me he was Blanche's nephew and did I know that Blanche had been a good athlete.  And then he said almost the last thing I would have ever expected someone to say about my Aunt Blanche.

"She was a champion pole vaulter."

I immediately texted this conversation to my brother Jimmy.






Like Bertie Wooster always maintained, aunts are not gentlemen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The things of which we speak now

As you know I have walked with Sally, Kathy, and Nancy every morning for years and years.  I mean we were all having babies together, that's how long this has been going on.

Anyway, on our walk this morning we started off by discussing naps and how we need them now, then wrapping things up with questions about fiber supplements.

I can totally guarantee you we were NOT having these conversations twenty years ago.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

cell phones

This column went up yesterday.  I would like to point out that Kirby 's column yesterday takes on a similar subject BUT MINE WENT UP FIRST.

(It's always good to have a bit of friendly one-upmanship among friends, isn't it?)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hair issues

So TRQ doesn't believe in gray hair, a fact I've written about before.  And I did wonder when I decided to go au natural what her response would be.

The people, she has been a model of restraint although I know this state of affairs is making her die a little inside every time she sees me.  But nary an anti-gray word as passed her lips lo these many months, and I have been beyond impressed.

However.  The last two times she's seen me she's asked if I've recently dyed my hair blue.  BLUE!   At first I thought she was kidding as in "HA!  HA!  LITTLE OLD LADIES WITH GRAY HAIR LIKE TO DYE THEIR HAIR BLUE!"  But then I realized her question was serious.

It must be said that TRQ does have some precedent for worrying about cotton candy hair color where I'm concerned. A few years ago when I ran the Tinker Bell half, I put a little pink in my hair just to make myself feel fleet of foot and fairy-ish.  So it would not surprise her (nor would it please her) if I showed up with blue hair.

But no.  My hair is not blue.

Except that my dad yesterday also asked me if my hair was blue.  He was staring at me when he asked this, looking genuinely puzzled as in "I THINK MY DAUGHTER HAS BLUE HAIR TODAY, BUT WHY?"

So I said, "DAD!  I do not have blue hair."

To which he said, "Well, you never know with people who live in the Avenues."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Tom Brady

. . . talking about you know what.

I will remain mum on the subject because it's disturbing to my boys when I discuss balls, but Ken Cannon did make an interesting point.  Football and baseball differ in this way:  it's not cheating in baseball if you can get away with it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It's a full-fledged eating emergency now

I already told you about the chocolat-pains-of-shame that I consumed in the parking lot of Sprouts.  And now I must tell you that things have gone from bad to worse.  You can totally take this line from that Rolling Stones song--"I'll come to your emotional rescue"--and turn it into a line that describes me right now--"I've become an emotional eater (ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh)."

Yesterday I consumed (among other things) chocolate cake, a doughnut, movie popcorn (with butter) and a Twix bar.  I didn't even enjoy eating them.  It was just all OPEN MOUTH AND INSERT FOOD NOW.

Ugh.  Why do I think this is never going to happen again?

On the bright side!  I'm meeting TRQ for lunch today at Paradise Bakery!

(See?  More food . . . )

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Remember that list I told you about?

The list of beliefs?  Here it is in column form.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night worried about this one for some reason.  Really.  AS IF ANYBODY CARES.  But I worried about sounding facile and precious and full of myself.  Ugh.  But it's too late now.  Column's already up and at 'em.

I will say this.  It was a fun column to write.  And I'd love to hear a few of your core beliefs, too.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


This morning I woke up missing my grandparents.  I don't know.  Maybe I dreamt about them last night and can't remember.  But the missing part this morning has been fierce--thinking about the way my grandfather would take off his trucker-style hat and rub the bristle on his mostly bald head or the way my grandmother would make certain pronouncements like, "I can leave sweets alone.  It's bread that's my downfall."

I miss my old people.

And it occurs to me this morning that when I was young and happy in their company, they were probably missing their old people, too.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Librarians

Tonight I'm speaking briefly (5 minutes!) to a group of people who are graduating with an MS in Library Science.  I thought I'd do a David Letterman-type Top Ten List for the occasion.  Here's what I'm going to say.

10.  Librarians are the guardians of civilization.  In his book How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill contends those Irish monks dwelling on the margins of the western world were able to save the written word from roaming, ravaging hordes of barbarians.  Librarians have picked up where the Irish left off.

9.  Librarians stand up for that most American of values--the freedom for people to say (and write) what they want to, even if those librarians don't agree with the sentiments.

8.  Librarians are willing to stand up to their communities when they feel like freedom of speech is being trampled upon.  This means librarians are very brave.

7.  On the other hand, librarians help create tighter-knit communities with the outreach programs they create.  Book groups.  City read programs.  Lectures.  Films.  Free seminars on things like tax preparation.  Librarians offer so many services that benefit the community at large.

6.  Speaking of programs, librarians give me something to do when I babysit my granddaughter.  The story hours at our local libraries are the best.  Especially when bubble machines are involved.

5.  Librarians are willing to help a Luddite like me negotiate the strange and changing landscape of library technology.

4.  Librarians are happy to shelve for me.  As both a housewife and a bookseller, I shelve for other people.  It's nice when someone does it for me.

3.  Librarians know how to party.  I have witnessed this for myself firsthand at ALA conventions.

2.  Librarians are good at promoting our local authors.  As one of those local authors, I am very grateful.

1.  Librarians help create a sanctuary for those of us who need one.  Sometimes that sanctuary is literal.  Go visit the downtown library on a cold day.  Sometimes that sanctuary is psychological.  Doesn't matter which--just that it's there.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cats and dogs and dogs and cats

Today I have been working on a piece (possibly a column) called "This I Believe" like that old NPR gag.  I started off by saying, "I believe all depressed people should own a dog."

But now I'm wondering if the Cat People out there will arm themselves with pitchforks and come a-lookin' for me if I don't mention--you know--cats.  Because I like cats, too, although I guess if I could only choose a cat or a dog I would probably choose a parrot.

Because I'm contrary.

Anyway, I think the purr of a cat curling up next to you is one of life's best sounds.  One of my cats--the really stupid one and I don't say that judgmentally--is presiding over my keyboard now.  Purring.  And making me happy.

Which do you prefer?  And why?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Twenty-nine years ago today

. . . Son #3 was born shortly after 1:00 p.m. on a day when the snow fell, silent and soft.  I remember looking out my hospital room window at twilight, thinking how lacy it looked against a darkening sky.  Meanwhile I was inside.  Warm.  At peace.  Grateful.  The world felt like a good place.

This boy, who is now grown up, was equal parts imaginative, stubborn, and kind.  All three traits have served him well in different ways and at different times.

It has been an honor to be his mother.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Strap on the old feedbag


I'm going to that dangerous place.

I'm going to that dangerous place I SWEAR I'll never go to again--that middle-of-January place where all I want to do is strap on the old feedbag and eat, eat, eat.

So far I've been able to keep (sort of) a lid on the impulse, but I knew I was in trouble yesterday morning when I stopped at Sprouts, saw a little container of alleged pain chocolat(s) (do I add that "s" to indicate plural when I'm speaking in French?) (even though, technically speaking, I am writing in French?), bought it, paid for it, and then started eating the pain chocolat(s) in the parking lot before I even made it to my car.

Oh the shame.

Also, they weren't that good.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Worry Warts Unite!

It's funny how ideas for columns come.

I was driving around Saturday a) cursing the smog, b) although I was clearly contributing to it by c) driving around.  I was also wondering what I could possibly write about.  And then voices came out of the radio (like angels!) discussing longevity and how happy-go-lucky, optimistic people don't always fare better when it comes to living longer.  In fact, it helps to be something of a worrier.

And boom.

I had an idea.

So I went home to ask Ken Cannon if I'm a worrier and he said no.  I'm a sufferer.  But I'm not a worrier.   And next thing you know, I was at my computer, writing this column.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Graeme Simsion talks Rosie

Here's my interview with Mr. Simsion, talking about his fabulous characters.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Feeling alright (with apologies to Joe Cocker)

First, let me suggest this piece on Lisa B's blog.  It sums up perfectly how I felt about my day yesterday.  When I looked up at the wall clock and realized I still had three hours left on my shift, I was stunned.  It felt like I'd already been there until next week.

Anyway.  In other news.

I've been thinking about that pile of completed manuscripts I haven't sold, and while I haven't totally given up hope, I've begun acknowledging to myself I may never sell them.  This acknowledgement would have DEVASTATED me a few years ago.  I would have felt like that person who mourns a misbegotten youth, which he/she can't even remember very clearly, because he/she was pretty much wasted for most of it.


For some reason I'm feeling okay about things right now.  I'm glad I was able to spend time with my characters, even if no one else ever ends up meeting them.  I'm glad I was able to write about Aria quoting lines from "The Lady of Shalott" by a moon-filled window.  Or Opa telling Emi about his garden that survived the fire-bombing of Dresden.  Or Zuzu deciding to use "-ly" words when she writes just to piss off her English teacher.  Or Ozma pretending to faint.  Or Shelley wondering who left those roses on a grave.  Or Jo listening to the beating of swan wings, filling the sky like church bells ringing.

The manuscripts themselves might be far from perfect.   But each of them has a perfect moment.

At least for me.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bad car karma

So I've been car-less for lo these many days because my car started doing this shuddering thing when I drove it home from a wedding reception over a week ago.  It's been sitting in front of our house ever since--a beached whale--because I couldn't get in touch with our mechanic who apparently thought it was New Year's or something last week.

ANYHOO.  We finally connected and my mechanic told me to bring the beached whale in this morning.  Which Ken Cannon and I did.  Only on our way back from that mechanic, Ken Cannon's fancypants German car gave up the ghost, so we had to get that car to the other mechanic who specializes in fancypants German cars, which (I deeply wish at this point) had never been invented.

So.  This means Ken Cannon and I are car-less now.  Son #1 had to pick us up and deposit us at our various old people daycare locations.  Meanwhile I called Son #2 to see if he could take me to work this afternoon.  He said he would if I gave him a lot of fries.

I was curious about this quid pro quo proposal.    Because in addition to SPEAKING LATIN I also speak fries.  Honey.  Tell me you want some fries and I AM ON IT.  I know all the best places in town to get fries, including Mazza, that Belgian waffle place downtown with the name I can't remember at the moment, and also at the Olympus Hills Bowling Alley.

Still.  I was surprised Son #2 requested fries.  It seemed like an odd request, given the context and given the fact that I can't drive him anywhere to buy them, because I am car-less in addition to fry-less.

But I said, yes.  I'll buy you as many fries as you want if you take me to work.


Why was I talking about fries, he wondered.

And then it occurred to me that maybe I didn't hear him right, because I am old and also I was wearing my Rocky the Flying Squirrel hat with the ear flaps that I got for Christmas, thus rendering me hearing-less, in addition to car-less and fry-less.

I was right.  Son #2 didn't say he'd drive me for a million "fries." He said he'd drive me because over the years I've given him a million "rides."

You see how easily a misunderstanding like this can happen, right?  Fries and rides have the same vowel sounds.  And also.  The hat.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Oregon vs. Ohio State

I write about the upcoming game here.

Meanwhile, on the Trib front, I also wrote this piece about the upcoming ALA meeting wherein the Caldecott Medal will be awarded to the best of last year's picture books.  You can read about that here.

And today I sent Graeme Simsion (author of the completely charming The Rosie Project) a set of questions.  Hopefully his answers will appear in Sunday's paper.

The kind of writing I'm doing now--mostly for the paper--reminds me of the earlier days of my writing career when I did a lot of freelance work for Utah Holiday and Network.  I'm enjoying it, and I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to do this still.

The thing about journalistic writing--and about blogging, too--is that the turnaround time for projects is really fast, and for someone with instant gratification issues like moi, that's super rewarding.  I won't lie--seeing a book with your name on it is great.  I hope to have the experience again, frankly.  But by the time your novel actually sees the light of day, you've almost forgotten what it's about.  You look at it and think someone from another planet must have written this.

Someone much, much younger . . .

Cheers to all of us who write!  And to all of us who don't!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Wherein it becomes apparent that I am turning into TRQ

Remember when TRQ wanted to go to Trader Joe's and buy Son #4 some Jo-Jo's?  Only she called them dingle-dangles?  And I challenged her to walk inside the store and ask the first guy she saw where his dingle-dangles were?

Anyway.  Son #1 told me how you can buy miniature versions of that excellent French pastry thing.  You know the one I mean.  The flat, curvy one.  Pantierres!  Yes, pantierres!

So I drove myself over to TJ's this morning and asked the first guy I saw where his pantierres were.  The tiny pantierres.

He just stared at me and suddenly I wondered if in that noisy store it sounded like I was asking him where his panties were.  You know.  The tiny panties.

Finally he looked at me and said, "You mean the palmier pastries?"


And now I can never go inside Trader Joe's  again.  Not for tiny panties.  And not for dingle-dangles either.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Missing Jesus

Today in Primary--yes, I am still in the Primary--one of the little kids raised his hand, and when the chorister called on him, he said, "I miss Jesus."  And then he started to cry a little.

For about a split second the room was as quiet as a cave.  This little boy's comment was as real as it was unexpected.  And then the normal Primary chaos descended upon us again, and we all muddled on.

Every now and then a roaring ocean tosses up a small piece of sea glass along with the usual bits of shell and sand.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

O Christmas Tree

I know I've blogged about this before.  Or at least I think I have . . .

But whatever.  One year when I was in grade school TRQ didn't get around to taking our tree down for weeks and weeks after Christmas.  It was bad.  All the needles fell out like hair off a missionary's head.  The ornaments dropped from the limbs and rolled around on our carpet.  And whenever I walked into the living room, I avoided eye contact with our tree because I felt so embarrassed for it.

Also, I felt embarrassed for our family.  All the other mothers on our street had dispatched with their families' trees.  What was wrong with us?    Why was our tree languishing in the corner like the ghost of Christmas Past?

When I grew up I figured out that TRQ had probably been depressed that winter.  The Coach was ALWAYS gone in those days, which led her (I assumed) to feel overwhelmed and a little isolated.  The tree episode made more sense.

Or so I thought . . .  

Maybe TRQ just liked having that tree up.  This notion has just occurred to me because for the first time in my entire adult life I still have a fully decorated tree in the living room in January.  And I don't see myself taking it down any time soon, frankly, because I still like the way it looks, and also I'm tired.

Here's to growing older and doing whatever we all damn well please.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Well now here's something I'm considering . . .

You know how I always get all panicked whenever I anticipate the arrival of January?  I'm like one of those minor Scandinavian gods, running around Valhalla and pulling out my (very blond) hair while shrieking that the twilight thing is nigh.

ME:  "Loki!  Loki!  We're ALL DOOMED!

So I make plans.  I vow to get out and try new things.  Or cook fantastic new dishes.  Or train for a marathon.  

I don't regret having done any of those things in the past.  But it occurred to me last year that when March comes, I usually feel better whether I take ballet lessons or learn how to speak Russian or not.  Which has led me to just own the fact that I'm low-energy and non-life-loving this time of year.  I'm not going to be afraid of feeling this way anymore.

And if I want to take more naps than usual, so be it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New year, (possibly) new directions

I've been thinking a lot about my writing life lately--the parts of it I still enjoy, the parts I don't--and it occurs to me that I maybe ought to try a few new things.  I have some ideas for adult (as opposed to YA) novels, and I'm interested in seeing what I can do on that front.  I remember reading somewhere that Isabel Allende always starts the new year by lighting a candle and starting a new novel.  And if I just made that up, it's still a good idea and I think she should do that.

Did you hear me, Isabel?  JUMP ON IT!

And I will, too.  Except today is almost over and I'm tired, so maybe I'll light that candle and start a new book tomorrow.

What plans do YOU have for 2015?

Happy New Year, everyone!