Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer things

Every summer there are a few little things I like to do.

--Treat myself to Powerade slushes at the Sonic.
--Run barefoot.
--Sleep under the stars in my backyard.
--Ride my bike.
--Sit on my front porch and watch the moon come up over the mountains.

As you can see, they aren't big things.  But if I don't do them, I feel like I haven't had a summer.  I feel cheated.

Anyway, I haven't felt well this summer (not to worry--I'm good), and so my summer things have gone mostly undone.  But summer (un)officially ends with Labor Day, right?  So I have a week.  I have a week of summer left.

Plenty of time for a save.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Happy birthday, Lisa B.

I don't post very often on Sunday, mostly because I'm usually avoiding contact with my computer on the weekends to avoid WORKING.

But I just wanted to hop on here and give a big shoutout to my friend Lisa B., whom I met when we were mere babies at the BYU.  I first noticed her standing in a line to watch a foreign film where she was talking passionately about something--I can't remember what--and I thought unto myself, "I want her for a friend."

And, lo, my wish was granted.

I feel lucky to know her--am forever awed by her intelligence and generosity and her un-snobby knowledge and consumption of all things popular cultural.  Plus she has great taste in shoes.

Happy birthday, Friend.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Next time I get pulled over by the cops

So Louise and I got pulled over yesterday on our way home.

Well.  Technically speaking, Louise didn't get pulled over.  I did.  Because I was the one, technically speaking, who was driving and who almost took out the cop who was driving in my blind spot when I changed lanes.  Still technically speaking.

Oh, oops!

He pulled me over--as well he should have--but immediately in my head I went oh crap!  Because the last time I got pulled over I couldn't find my registration or proof of insurance because my glove compartment is filled with stuff like coupons and stray pantyhose and so forth.  You would have thought I'd have cleaned out the damn thing since that debacle with the law.

But no.

So, I couldn't find anything again and the officer, who'd just seen his life pass before his eyes, wasn't in the mood for good times with me.  In the end he took my license, ran it, and decided to let me off with a stern lecture about checking blind spots.  ESPECIALLY WHEN POLICE CARS ARE IN MY BLIND SPOT.

I was grateful.  And now I plan to be more cautious.  AND I also plan to clean out that glove compartment so that the next time I get pulled over, I'll be prepared.  Like a girl scout, you know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What to give

I received word yesterday that a friend is dying, so Louise and I went to see him this morning.  I wondered if I should take something.  A letter.  Balloons.  An orchid to brighten his room.  But in the end I took nothing.

When we walked into his room, Louise immediately went to his bedside, took his hand in hers, and stroked his head.  And watching her I thought that in the end, the only thing we can really give is the touch of skin on skin.

We can only give ourselves.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Yesterday at the P.O.

So I was standing behind this guy with MAJOR tatt-age going on.  And by major I mean HOLY COW THIS GUY HAS NO SKIN LEFT ON WHICH TO TATT.  (My favorite tatt, btw, was the one behind is left ear that said "Stay golden.")  Yes!  A skin shoutout to Ponyboy!

Anyway, I try not to trade in stereotypes, but if you stood behind a guy with this much going on skin-wise, would you assume that he is a) a freshman at BYU or b) a gangsta?

Fine.  He's probably neither one.  But still.

Well, the man standing in front of my Mr. Tatt was an older gentleman.  A chatty older gentleman who was talking to the guy in front of him about Viet Nam and World War II and possibly various other wars, as well.  When that conversation was over, this gentleman turned to Mr. Tatt and started chatting him up.  Here's what he said.

"My wife and I moved here from North Carolina.  We like Salt Lake City, except there are lots of gangs here."

And I went in my head STOP. TALKING. NOW.

But he didn't.  It was all gangs, gangs, gangs.  Much to his credit, Mr. Tatt was very polite.  His mother would have been proud.  And so was I.

Nicely done, Mr. Tatt!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sacrament meeting gold

My niece once told me that our ward reminds her of a small quirky town in a place like northern Minnesota.  And we had the kind of meeting yesterday that gives her observation cred.
So we have this baby-faced, super cute and very innocent 13 year-old boy who was asked to be the youth speaker.  I will say that he surprised us all when he stood up behind the mic and announced that his assigned topic was "chastity."  You could practically hear congregation members whisper "What the hell?"  

Or something like that.

Anyway, without going into too much detail, may I just say you've never LIVED until you've heard a young boy drop the phrase "sexual intimacy" at least seven times over the pulpit in the course of a ten minute talk in church.  

Afterwards our bishop--he was the one was a surprised smile on his face during the entire meeting--told me and Ken Cannon that wires had been crossed and that "chastity" had never been the assigned topic.   

Glad I was there.

Friday, August 21, 2015

What's more fun than a barrel of Russians?

Yesterday my fab friend Shelley and her four adorable daughters surprised me with a visit and, the people, it was SO GREAT TO SEE THEM.

Also, Shelley told me she's headed to St Petersburg next week, which led us (among other things) to discuss what Russians are good at.  "Lightness of being" isn't one of them.

So this morning, Shelley sent me a text with this advice she read somewhere about getting along in Russia:  "The main menace to visitors is the gangs of begging street children who jostle sightseers for their valuables.  Use your common sense and don't draw attention to yourself.  Wearing a Hawaiian shirt, talking English loudly and waving your expensive video camera will mark you out as a tourist.  Although you may be wide-eyed with wonder at the strange sights and sounds around you, you will notice everyone else wearing a uniform expression of boredom and misery.  Looking around, making eye contact with strangers, even smiling to yourself--a Russian never does this."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What's the point of that?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day--a woman in her early 80s--who told me that when it came to their children, her husband had always been "stingy in love."  This, of course, is her take on things, although knowing her as I do, I suspect she's probably right.

I've been turning that phrase "stingy in love" over and over in my head since then and feeling the sadness of it.  Of all the things in this world to be stingy with!  It's just so unnecessary to withhold the very thing that can make anything and everything feel more worthwhile.

What a waste.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Home Perms

It seems like things you thought would stay away for good--padded shoulders, bell bottoms, platform shoes--often stage surprising comebacks.  Somehow, though, I can't see home perms doing the same.

This week's Salt Lake Tribune column!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What my granddaughter said

Okay, first off you need to know that my grandkids call me "Tutu," which is Hawaiian for grandmother.  Not that I'm Hawaiian now, but I'm pretty sure I was in a previous life.

So, anyway, this granddaughter's family has a very old pug that is a good candidate these days for Dog Depends.  My granddaughter asked her father (my son) why their dog has started leaving calling cards in the house.  (I hope you appreciate how delicate I'm being here.  Because I'm going to stop in just a minute.)

GRANDDAUGHTER:   Why does Leila poop in the house?

SON:  Because she's old and her butt is broken.

GRANDDAUGHTER:  But Tutu's old and her butt isn't broken.

Just so you know.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Question for the day

So I'm sitting here working and I notice my dog (the one sleeping on my feet) is whimpering in her sleep like she's having a bad dream.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  What constitutes a bad dream for a dog?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tiny letters to the things I like about this time of year

Dear Peaches,
Yay!  You're back.  I almost didn't notice until TRQ told me that the red havens are almost gone.  How did that even happen?  Just so you know, I will NOT be forgetting you from here until the last of you are gone.

Dear Crickets,
You show up earlier in the season in St. George, which is why I always go to bed with my window open down there in spite of the heat.  I like the way you sing me to sleep at night.  And now here you are in Salt Lake making happy evening noise, too.

Dear Corn and Tomatoes,
I could eat you three times a day.  In fact, I do!

Dear Early Morning Dog Walks,
I know.  Ken Cannon and I look like a parade when we leave in the morning with all three dogs.  But right now it's still light and the sky this morning was dove gray and pearly pink.

Dear Sky This Morning,
Thanks for being all dove gray and pearly pink.

Dear Phlox,
Thanks for blooming for such a long time this year.  You've been the champs of my garden.

Dear Baseball Games,
I don't watch you closely, I'll admit.  But I like to have you on almost all the time.  I find your chatter and slow-moving ways quite soothing.


Ann Cannon

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A very stupid organ indeed

A number of years ago I started sitting under a light box first thing in the morning during the winter months to deal with my seasonal slumping habit.  (It's a habit I advise against, fyi.)  Anyway, when I explained to my friend Becky that the light box is supposed to trick your brain into thinking that winter days are longer than they actually are, she said, "Well then the brain must be a very stupid organ."

I thought of that yesterday when I read about a study that said depressed patients who smiled even though they didn't feel like smiling got better faster than the non-smilers.  The thinking is that if you smile, your brain thinks you must be happy, so it gets happier, too.

This is awesome if it's true.  But still.  Come on, Brain.  Aren't you a tiny bit embarrassed about being so gullible?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wherein another random blog post turned into a Salt Lake Tribune column

I had so much fun thinking about TRQ hunting down snails that I decided to write a column about it.  

Thank you, Blog, for letting me capture my tiny thoughts and sometimes turn them into columns!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

We have three dogs in this house

It's true.  We do.  And I'll just throw this out there.  Three dog are too many dogs in one house.  BUT.  Whatever.

Anyway, one dog (Zora) is a large brown Newfie who weighs 180 pounds but isn't, according to our vet, overweight.  She's just a big-boned girl, like a midwestern farmer's daughter who becomes strong and good because she picks corn all day..  Whenever we take Zora out walking, people come to a full stop in the middle of the street to take a look and you can see their lips move.  That dog looks like a freaking bear!

The second dog is a Field Spaniel teenager who could spend all day at the mall and not feel the least bit tired.  Exuberant is the word that comes to mind when describing Penny.

And the third dog is a plump footstool of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel who came to us as a rescue.  Other than the times when he breaks out into his random psychotic barking attacks, he is neat and quiet and kind.  And often overlooked.

Which is why when I pass him on the staircase, I look him straight in the eye and whisper, "Don't tell the others, but you're my favorite."

That's me.  Building Dog Self-Esteem whenever and wherever I can.

Monday, August 10, 2015

To Our Survival

This is the name of my friend Megan's fabulous blog, which you can find here.  Go read it.  Relish her way with words, her honesty, and her great heart.

Anyway, that phrase "to our survival" has played through my head these past few weeks as we've celebrated the wedding of our youngest son to a wonderful woman.  I haven't gone into much detail here, but I think anybody who reads this blog knows that it's been a difficult rodeo for us the past year or so.  And somewhere along the way, I misplaced my joy.

But as I looked at my sons, standing in a line with their white shirts and striped bow ties, I thought you know what this family is good at?  Resilience.

We do resilience.

And what more could you ask for?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Martin Marten

So remember how in elementary school there were reading groups?  And the teachers tried to give them value-neutral names?  But how everybody knew that the Bluebird reading group was made up of the smart kids and the Starling reading group was made up of the average kids and the Sparrows were the dumb kids?

If you didn't know this, I apologize.  And also if you didn't know this, please don't ask me about Santa Claus.

Anyway, I say this because at The King's English Bookshop, where I am fortunate to be working again, I am in the Sparrows reading group.  In my other lives, I'm considered fairly well-read.  But at work I am SO SURROUNDED by amazing readers who devour full buffets of books every day.  It's amazing.

So I am playing catch-up right now, which means I just finished reading a new store favorite--Martin Marten by Brian Doyle.  Basically, it's an unusual coming-of-age story about two beings who live on Mt. Hood in Washington--a boy named Dave and a marten named Martin.

Twenty pages into the book I liked it a lot without actually loving it.  I wondered if maybe it weren't a little overwritten.   But the more I read, the more I fell under its graceful and quirky charm, so that by the end of the book I was shedding tears of . . .  I don't know.  Life.

This is a special book.  My friend Sally Larkin describes it best when she says it is a book full of kindness and grace.  She's right.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

TRQ, Snail Huntress

Two things.

Here's the thing about Provo.  There were no snails there while I was growing up.  Provo was a snail-free zone.  Snails slithered to a full stop when they saw the "Welcome to Provo" sign and then slid back to Salt Lake.  Specifically to my garden in Salt Lake where they treated themselves to plenty of hostas and also marigolds.

Damn snails anyway.

Now here's the thing about my mother.  Once she sets her mind to something, she is relentless.  I have seen her tackle knitting projects that would make Professional Knitters weep.  She knits, unpicks, knits, unpicks, swears a little, knits, and finally succeeds.

The reason I mention this is that snails, apparently, have gotten all cocky these days.  Like they're saying to themselves we deserve to go to Provo and eat all the hostas there, too, now that we've polished off all the hostas in Salt Lake.  And so snails have appeared in my parents' garden.


TRQ is on it.  Every morning she goes snail hunting and drops those suckers in their tracks.  Or whatever it is that snails leave behind.  And, along the way, she's acquiring some interesting knowledge about snails, too, which has caused her to earn a grudging respect for her prey.

Although, in the end, she is merciless where the snails are concerned.  It's sayonara snails with her. And all I can say is well done, TRQ.  Well done.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Well now there's been a wedding in our family

Here's this week's column.

I actually wrote it last week because I knew we were going to be busy.  And yeah.  He was actually married on Saturday up in Logan.  It was a magical day.  Truly.  A lovely ceremony followed by a small, intimate reception in an apple orchard hung with lights and festooned with wildflowers.  There were tacos and dancing involved.  Because there was a mildly Latin touch to the whole event, my grandson wore a Mexican poncho and my granddaughter had a Spanish fan.

Happy, happy day.