Monday, December 12, 2016


In light of the fact that half the country voted for Mr. Trump, I'd like to make these observations:
1.  I don't believe that half the country is racist and/or misogynist. I know fabulous compassionate people who voted for Trump.
2.  I believe, despite the fears of many, that our union will survive.

Having said that, I was deeply disappointed in us as a nation for electing someone like Trump for these reasons.
1.  While not all his supporters are racist and/or misogynist, he clearly legitimized both of those currents in our country by the tone and rhetoric of his campaign.
2.  While I probably won't be personally affected by his presidency (I seriously doubt he'll last out for the four years anyway) I do think there are marginalized populations that will be adversely affected.

Which is why I've decided to put my money where my mouth is and actively reach out in ways I may have been too complacent to do previously.  In light of this, I want to brag about my Mormon ward.  Our ward has adopted a family of refugees.  And guess what.  They're Muslim.  There's no intention to convert these people.  There's only the intention to assist and respect.

I could not be prouder of the individuals in my ward who have made this happen.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


I loved this melancholy post by my friend Dr. Write.  After reading it I've been thinking about a certain brand of the melancholy to which I am susceptible--Holiday Melancholy.

A long, long, LONG time ago the Coach told me Christmas always makes him cry.  I was surprised by this remark because I knew he likes Christmas.  He likes Christmas so much he left our outdoor Christmas lights on for years.  They were blue.  And when you turned them on in July, you could see what you were doing when you played night games with the neighborhood kids.

(Which reminds me.  One summer night when our Christmas lights were on, a group of BYU students stopped by our house and sang Christmas carols.  Score!)

Anyway, I get what he means now.  In my case it's a sweet melancholy.  I love Christmas but I'm always aware of the ghosts of Christmas pasts.  And while I am happy they return for a seasonal encore, they make me a little sad, too, you know?

I'm having one of those moments right now.  I'm sitting at my desk, pretending to write, while listening to an old SING ALONG WITH MITCH album we found in my parents' storage unit this summer.  This record was one of the soundtracks of my little girl girlhood.  And yes.  It makes me cry a little.

In a good way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A take on loyalty

So I've been spending some time with TRQ and the Coach lately to make up for my teenage years when I was no help at all.

Anyway, I've noticed how TRQ has a houseful of plants, most of which are a) ancient and b) struggling.  Like, if there were such a thing as walkers for plants, these guys would be all SIGN ME UP!

Here's the deal.  I've always thought of Coach as the gardener.  He grew lovely daylilies and primroses and dahlias and asters back in the day.  Tomatoes, too, sometimes, as well as chard although no one in the family knew what the hell to do with chard.  But I never saw TRQ out in the garden.

Still, I realized yesterday that she's an indoor gardener.  Once she acquires a plant, she keeps it forever--even if it's yearning to have the plug pulled.   She's plant loyal.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What I heard

This morning before I headed to Provo TRQ asked if I would stop at Williams Sonoma and buy some wassail.  Two boxes of it.

I wasn't sure what she and the Coach wanted with wassail (two boxes of it) but okay fine.  They're entitled to all the wassail they want is what I say.  So I stopped at W-Son at Trolley Square on my way out of town and asked the clerk to guide me to the Wassail Promised Land.

She look at me and said, "Um.  We don't sell wassail."

ME:  Um.  Yes, you do.  TRQ said she bought some here.

CLERK:  Um.  Okay.  We do sell mulling spices.  Over there.

So I checked out the mulling spices, which technically came in bottles, not in boxes, and I thought, "Maybe TRQ wants this" because it is true that sometimes her directions are on the vague side--like the way she calls "Jo-Jo's" from Trader Joe's "dingle-dangles," which is a MUCH better name anyway, I think you'll agree.

Still.  When I looked at the bottles of mulling spices I thought what the hell?

So then I pulled the wassail card again with the clerk who was friendly but firm.  NO WASSAIL AT THE INN.

Finally I pulled out my phone and called TRQ who assured me she bought wassail at W-Son and then spelled out the brand name for me, which I spelled out for the clerk who said OH!  WAFFLE!  YES!  WE HAVE BOXES OF WAFFLE MIX.

Ken Cannon says I'm going deaf.  I think Ken Cannon might be right.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Buying a tree today

So Ken Cannon, wearing his Cubs hat, and I went tree shopping today.  As we checked out, one of the tree guys saw Ken Cannon and started shouting SOX!  SOX!  SOX!  You know.  As in the other Chicago team, i.e. the White Sox.

We laughed.  Hahahahahahaha.  And then the tree guy went "DA BEARS!"  So then Ken Cannon said, "I like the Bears," at which point the tree guy started shouting "PACKERS!  PACKERS!  PACKERS!" who, of course, are the Bears' arch rivals.

As we walked to our car I said to my husband, "That guy could be a Cannon."

Cannons all have a touch of Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which is why we all love them so.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Whenever I step outside barefoot in the winter

Okay, YES.  I do that.  To get the newspaper or take out the recycling or whatever.

Why?  Because I'm too lazy to put on my shoes.

Still.  I don't stay outside for long and for sure I don't walk across Wyoming.  Which is the point.  I have to say when it gets cold like this, I think about the early Mormons who trekked from here to there in unfriendly weather, and while I am not a pioneer-phile, my respect grows.

Indeed it does.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Well, why not?

So, I've had this idea kicking around in my head for awhile.  And because I know how to write novels for young readers (sort of), I keep trying to turn it into a novel for young readers.  But I find that the adults interest me in the story as much as the kid does and lo it did occur to me that maybe I have an idea for an adult novel.


And then I went, "Wait.  I'm old.  I'M OLD.  I'm a grownup now."

Which means I can do anything I damn well please.

Friday, November 25, 2016

I'm off to see the Coach this morning.

He and TRQ didn't come up for Thanksgiving yesterday because he isn't doing well, so I'm headed to Provo right now to see them.  They are both ever present on my mind these days.

Last Sunday in the NYT I read an election post-mortem piece that claimed the reason HRC and the Democrats lost is that Left has given in to "identity politics"--unintentionally emphasizing the things that make us different, that separate us, as opposed to the things that we as Americans have in common.

I have no idea if this is true or not, but it did make me think about the Coach and how he dealt with people.  You could almost watch his special antennae come out and feel their way around an initial conversation, searching for the things he had in common with a single mother of color and the son he was recruiting.  And when he found them, voila!  That's what they talked about.

He did this with everybody and in retrospect, I would say it's one of the big reasons he had such a singular career.  That insight was the motivation behind this piece in the Trib.

Meanwhile, I'm wishing you a happy Thanksgiving weekend.  Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Working on Thanksgiving

This morning while I was shopping for Thanksgiving at the Smith's downtown, I struck up a conversation with an employee, who suddenly launched about how wrong it is for people to shop on Thanksgiving.  She's senior enough herself that she isn't working on Thanksgiving, but she thinks it's better for folks to stay home and enjoy their people and their meal and give everybody a break.

And all I could do was stand there and say "d'accord."  Which was weird.  Because I usually don't speak French when I'm shopping for Thanksgiving at Smith's.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Two grandfathers

The other day when I was driving home from Provo, I stopped at a fruit stand on 8th North in Orem.  There were mostly apples for sale, so I asked the man there which variety was his favorite.  He said Fuji.  So I bought a basket of Fuji apples and he threw in a few extra for good measure.  Meanwhile, Mt. Timpanogos loomed blue behind us both, along with the small patch of orchard that hasn't been plowed under for new homes.  This man was my paternal grandfather two generations ago.

Later that day I took our car into Bobby's Car Clinic on Third Ave and immediately felt at home when I inhaled the familiar scent of oil on concrete.  Bobby was my maternal grandfather two generations ago.

It was one of those days where time, in the words of Joseph Smith, became one eternal round.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

More TRQ

Still reading TRQ's memoirs and enjoying them so much.  I just read a passage about how she discouraged she and the Coach were after trying for years to get pregnant without success.  And then things changed.  She lists the reasons why she was (at last!) expecting a child, which are tender and touching.

I like the last reason the best, though:  "Of course the natural event also took place."

As the years have passed, I've grown to cherish my mother's vibrancy and unique perspective so much.  Love her.

Friday, November 18, 2016

What I'm possibly learning as I grow older

The French say it is a privilege to grow older.

At least that's what somebody told the French say.  Those French.  Always going around saying stuff that you then quote without knowing whether or not actual French people were involve in the saying of that stuff.

But whatever.

It's an interesting thought--one that runs counter to the way we often feel about aging.

This morning I was thinking about the things I maybe understand a little better now than I did when I was younger.  The first one is this:  whenever possible, people should solve their own problems.  You can support and listen, but in the end, people gotta take that solving problems walk for themselves.

The second one is this:  holding onto grudges is stupid.  Forgiveness is essential.

OK.  So I've only learned two things.  But still.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Facebook shaming

Dear Facebook,

Overtime I check in with you (which is more often than I care to admit) I notice that over there where I am supposed to share personal info, you've got a little note saying, "I know.  I'm too old for this."

Just so you know, Facebook, I understand what you're trying to do.  You're trying to make me go, "But I'm NOT too old.  Look at me!  I'm young!  For my age!  See how young I am?  I'M ON FACEBOOK!"

So, FYI, Facebook.  Only old people are on Facebook except, of course, some of my kids who are on there to taunt other family members.  Especially when those other family members are being sincere.

So get over it, Facebook.  I'm on to you.


Someone who's old

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My name is Ann Cannon and I am an biter of string cheese

The other night at work two of my fellow employees were talking about string cheese.

#1:  I have a friend who eats string cheese.  Ugh.

#2:  I eat string cheese.

#1:  Okay, fine.  But you probably don't BITE IT.

#2:  LORD NO!  I pull it apart.

I was standing there at the cash register, listening in dismayed silence because a) I eat string cheese and b) I bite it like it's a Tootsie Roll.  And also I was having flashbacks to that moment when I realized I should have been tipping the pizza delivery guys all along, which I never had because I didn't know you were supposed to.  That happened in the days before I was the sophisticated person I am now.

Except I bite string cheese BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW ANY BETTER.

So I remained silent, although I did send an email the next day, confessing I am a biter.  And guess what.  They love me anyway.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

And this is why I love TRQ so much

TRQ is writing her memoirs right now and it's really great.  I just read this bit about my parents'  courtship days at USU:

One thing that bugged me about him was that he wore galoshes around campus.  It really bothered me.  I thought it made him look like a sissy.  However, I really liked the way his pants fit him.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Shooting up in a parking lot

While I was at a stoplight this afternoon, I watched a street person, reclining against the shabby wall of a gas station, checking his forearms for a vein.  It was one of those moments where you feel a profound sorrow for the wreck of a human life, as well as a bone-deep sense of helplessness.

And once again I realized how very much I hate anything that even remotely glamorizes substance abuse.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A recommendation

There have been some lovely moments, but overall this has been a crap week.

Which is why Sara and I decided to "eat our emotions" today.  We met for breakfast and PULLED OUT ALL THE STOPS and hell if I didn't give myself permission to eat my emotions all day long.  To wit I had a lovely salad with my mother, a southwestern burger and French fries with Ken Cannon, a big slice of chocolate cake, plenty of white fudge-dipped Oreos, Dr Peppers galore, a Coke, and peppermint ice cream.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Iris in the fall

Irises--that perennial staple of Grandma Gardens--is one of my all time favorite flowers.  I love the orchid-like petals and the shimmering colors (damn!  I'm painting an awesome picture here!) and the orange creamcicle scent.  I love picking them on Memorial Day and strewing them on our people's graves both here and in Provo, remembering the times we used to take coffee cans wrapped in tin foil loaded with peonies and snowball bush blooms and irises to our kin's graves in Wyoming and now suddenly I'm wondering where DID all those coffee cans comes from?

Anyway.  Irises.  LOVE them.

I've been aware from my extensive reading in the garden catalogs that come to my house (!) that there are now repeat bloomers--irises that bloom in the spring AND the fall--and I did think unto myself I should try one of those out.

I've now seen them with my own eyes--in a bed here in the Aves and in a bed along 7th East down by Trolley Square.  They're huge and every bit as gorgeous as the iris that bloom in the spring.  My verdict?  They feel wrong to me.

Maybe I love something BECAUSE it's seasonal--fleeting, transient.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Beverly Hillbilly

So this afternoon Doni and I celebrated her birthday by having massages at the Kura Door which is a very swanky uptown spa here in the Aves.  Everything there is super classy and nice-smelling and  designed to pamper the client, which is why there were free almonds and figs just lying around for us to eat, I'm assuming.

Anyway.  I was so taken by the place--I don't live in the lap of that kind of luxury--that I was tempted to start stuffing all those free almonds and figs in my robe pockets to take home with me, which means I would also have to steal the robe while I was at it.

Honestly, I could have entitled my afternoon "Ellie May Clampett Has a Spa Day."

Monday, November 7, 2016

How to Be the Noisiest Person in the Room

So I've been taking this mindfulness class on Monday nights for the past two months, and it's been very useful on a number of fronts.  On Saturday we had our day-long silence practice, meaning we weren't supposed to talk from the moment we checked in at 9:00 until we checked out at 4:00.

I liked it.  It made me realize how unquiet my life usually is.  It felt good to be still.

Except I did eat some potato chips and let me tell you that there is nothing as noisy as eating potato chips in a room full of quiet.  Every sound involved--from the opening of the bag to the crunching motion of your mouth--becomes seismic.  Like, you could get on a citywide PA system and announce "ANN CANNON IS EATING POTATO CHIPS!  SO MANY POTATO CHIPS!  SHE IS CAUSING TSUNAMIS AROUND THE WORLD BECAUSE OF ALL THAT POTATO CHIP NOISE SHE'S MAKING."

And that's how you turn into the noisiest person in the room.

You're welcome.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Thanksgiving jokes

So my friend Rick Walton taught me how to write Laffy Taffy jokes.  In honor of Rick, let us all commence.

What is Thanksgiving Turkey's favorite dessert?
Peach gobbler!

What did one Thanksgiving Turkey say to the other Thanksgiving Turkey?
"I'm stuffed!  How about you?"

What does Thanksgiving Turkey call the refrigerator?
The DRESSING room!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Just call me Sister Grumpypants

So I've been noticeably grumpy the last few weeks, which . . . I don't like.  So I spent part of today trying to decide why I'm grumpy.  And then I spent the other part of the day eating Kathy Barnson's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies like a boss.  YAY ME!

Anyway, here's what I decided.

1.  The election.  This election cycle has brought out the worst in EVERYONE.  Except, apparently, for Melania Trump who is urging us all to be kinder and not bully people, especially online.  Which IRONY!

2.  Fall.  Yes.  It's beautiful.  But gah.  Can you say SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER?

3.  Tinkerbell.  I know.  I'm the one who wanted another Newfie, but she's a one-hundred pound puppy who is kicking my butt right now. I put out Thanksgiving decorations this morning, which she chewed up while I wasn't watching.  Dude, I said to her.  Did you really need TO SNACK ON MY PILGRIMS?

4.  Family.  You never stop worrying.

Okay.  Remind me that the Cubs won again and I'll be fine.  Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Who's the teacher?

When our oldest son, Phil, was in junior high school, a man showed up on our porch late one wintry night, wanting to sell his collection of poetry.  The price?  Three bucks.  I said no because there is a deep deep part of my soul that hates to be scammed.

Phil observed the (non) transaction.  After the man left, he said what's the big deal, Mom?  It's only three bucks.  And then he went looking for the guy, although I don't think he ever found him.

I've thought a lot about this moment over the years, realizing that (once again) Phil has often been my teacher on many, many fronts.  That happens with all children, but particularly with the firstborn.  You learn from everything the two of you--child and inexperienced parent--experience together.

I am especially grateful for my wildly creative, intelligent, resilient, loyal, and kind-hearted boy who entered our lives on this day when I was a graduate student teaching classes at BYU.  Happy Birthday, Phil.  Thanks for the ride.  Thanks for the love.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ermagersh! What's wrong with me?

I've always misread words.

For example, where most people would see the word "polish" and think of Lemon Pledge--especially if they saw that word on a can of Lemon Pledge--I would see it and think "Polish" as in the former pope, who was also an excellent skier, I'm told.

Anyway, this morning at breakfast at the Holiday Inn I saw a sign next to a chafing dish that said "Hamster."  And I thought well this is Texas, after all.  Who can account for what Texans like for breakfast?  But when I looked at it again it said "Ham steaks."

Which made me feel better about breakfast.

But which also made me feel concerned about my mental acuity.

Friday, October 28, 2016


We've been having stunning sunrises and sunsets here lately, which okay fine, is probably due to pollution.  But wow.  They've been smacking me upside the head, they're so stunning.  And the moon and the stars at 5:30 in the morning have been doing the same thing.

And so I've been asking myself the question why?  Why do human beings come wired to notice beauty?  I guess you can make an evolutionary argument about the wiring thing when it comes to human beings going out on dates with other human beings who they think are beautiful and also excellent kissers.  Dude.  That totally helps with propagation of the species.

But noticing the beauty of slanting light on an October morning?  What possible evolutionary function does that fill?

When Phil was a little boy he used to ask me unanswerable questions about strangers all the time.  Why is that man's hair funny?  Why is that lady walking down the street?  Why is that car yellow?And so, because I had no answers, I said, "BECAUSE JESUS WANTS IT THAT WAY."

And now that I'm old and thinking about needlessly extravagant displays of light, who knows.  Maybe Jesus wants it that way.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A meditation on football

Actually, I have nothing profound to say about football in spite of the fact I've been meditating on it.

But I will say this.  I'll bet you that 100 years from now, football--at least in the form we know it--won't be around.  And people in the future (wearing space suits and driving around in flying cars with their BFF robot friends) will look back on the sport the way we look back on the whole gladiator thing, i.e. in disbelief that people ever had fun watching men hewing each other down, especially if they looked as cute as Russell Crowe did in that toga, which would make all the Roman ladies go, "NO!  DON'T HEW DOWN RUSSELL CROWE!  HE'S JUST SO ADORABLE IN THAT TOGA!"

I could be wrong.  But the way football is headed and the way our first world sensibilities are headed, I wouldn't be surprised.

Which is my way of saying I'm glad I'm alive now and can watch Sunday Night Football whenever I feel like it.  As long as--you know--it's Sunday night.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Donuts according to the Coach

Yesterday I told Dad that Mrs. Backer's Bakery makes a really good pumpkin donut.

A look of disbelief mingled with horror spread across his face.

"Wait.  Did you say pumpkin?"

"Yes.  'Tis the season for pumpkins."

More horror on the face.  Also disgust.

"Listen.  If I want a donut, I want a DONUT."

Said the man who always orders vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

When suddenly you realize you're old

When I was younger I remember hearing old farts say, "But I don't feel old on the inside!"  And I'd think whatever, dude.  TAKE A LOOK IN A MIRROR.

But now?  Well, let's just say that Karma is a true thing which was not invented by the Beatles after the went to India because now I feel the same way and I had an experience the other night that reminded me of it.

I was watching the Cubs and noticed suddenly how beautiful Kris Bryant is (although only when he's wearing a hat--he's like my former boyfriend Dennis Eckersley that way) so I texted my thirties-something friend Jame Ortwein because she follows baseball, too.  This is how our conversation went:

ME:  Chris Bryant is waaaaay easy on the eyeballs.

JAMIE:  I am googling now.  Ha!  His name is spelled with a "k."  Gross.

ME:  He's up to bat right now, throwing the pitcher smoldering looks.

JAMIE:  Haha.  Born in '92.  I can't even process.

ME:  Ugh.  He's almost my youngest kid.  As Cher said in Clueless that just harshed my buzz.

Actually, I don't know if Cher said that.  Maybe Tai did.  Or Dionne.  But whatever.  That's not the point.  The point is how did I get to be this age, is what I'm saying.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Hillbilly Elegy

So I've been reading a memoir called Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance because I wanted to better understand the rise of Donald Trump and wow.  This is a powerful, eye-opening book, which I highly recommend.  Vance is a clear-eyed commentator who both loves and grieves for his hillbilly community.

Now here's the surprise.  I recognize a lot of my own extended family in the book, something I did NOT expect.  We didn't have the violence or the addiction issues.  At all.  And I've written before that somewhere along the line, both sides of my family--the Edwards and the Coveys--made kindness to children a huge priority.

But here's the thing.  My great-grandmother--who I still remember--used to sleep with a shotgun.  She ran away from her old life and changed her name and possibly had a child out of wedlock.  And, as my Aunt Ava (more of great-aunt several times removed) told my mom and me, Grandma Pat "liked the men."  She wasn't much of a mother--as a little boy my grandfather was given pastries to eat at a boarding house in Ogden because his mother had disappeared and he didn't know when she was going to return--but she was a hell of a grandmother to my mother, TRQ.

My paternal grandfather, meanwhile, left school at the age of 12 to support his family.  My paternal grandmother and her family were chased out of Mexico by Pancho Villa.  She left school at the age of 14.  Phil and Addie went on to have 14 kids.  The Coach was the first to go to college.

The supreme hillbilly virtue is loyalty.  The ultimate sin is growing too big for your britches.  My family espoused those attitudes in spades.

Who knew?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Oh! I don't have to worry about that anymore!

I've been going down to Provo on Tuesdays to hang with TRQ and the Coach, which has been fun, especially since TRQ and I are on an epic quest to eat a burger at  a different hamburger joint every week.

Except today we got mixed up and ate mushroom soup at Zupas

But that's not the point.  The point is this:  when we first walked into Zupas I heard some guys sitting at a table together complaining about BYU's football team.  Suddenly I felt a familiar pit in my stomach.  OH NO!  (I thought.)  SOMEBODY'S GOING TO SAY SOMETHING MEAN ABOUT MY DAD!  AND THEN I WILL HAVE TO BEAT THEM UP!  WHICH WILL GET ME THROWN OUT OF ZUPAS AND THEN WHO WILL EAT MY CHOCOLATE-DIPPED STRAWBERRY?

And then I remembered.  My dad doesn't coach anymore.  He hasn't for 16 seasons now.  But there I was, automatically reacting the way I reacted a lifetime (or more) ago.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cheating: a Novelist's Perspective

So La Louise and I were talking yesterday about what happens when the honeymoon is over with that novel you're writing that you were so excited about.

How excited were you?  You sent it roses.  You texted it non-stop.  You swore your undying love.  You updated your status on Facebook to "in a relationship."

But then you hit that middle part and gah.  Suddenly your love doesn't feel so fresh and dewy.  And suddenly you think about cheating on your manuscript.

What do I mean by that?  I mean you start wanting to write this OTHER book you've been thinking about because this OTHER book will be easier to write and more satisfying and Reese Witherspoon will option it and make you rich and you and Reese will go to the Oscars together, but only if you promise not to upstage her gown with your gown.

Reese can be tricky that way.

Anyway, this is me and Louise warning you to resist the temptation.  This is just part of the process.  Accept the fact that all middles are messy for awhile and then have a little faith in yourself and your story and see it through until the end.

Then you can decide what to do with it.

And never mind about the Reese advice.  Buy any damn Oscar gown you feel like, is what I'm saying.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Am I the only writer who . . .

doesn't like the rain?  Is it a prerequisite to like the rain if you're a writer?

The reason I ask is that last night at TKE, Matt and Jaime Kirby (both writers) came in and chatted with me (a writer) and Jen Adams (a writer) and somehow we got onto the subject of rain and its awesomeness and I went NO!

They're all happy that summer is dead and I'm all NO!

So then they doubled down on rain-awesomeness and I doubled-down on sun and summer awesomeness.  And then they all agreed it was their British blood that made them like the rain and I said I had that blood, too, but walking through sheep poo in the rain in England for 8 days pretty much made me never want to go back to England again.  And more to the point, never walk in sheep poo again.  Especially for 8 days.

And then finally I had to go  into the back room take a truckload of antidepressants and sit under one of those depressed-people lamps and tell myself that it's not the Twilight of the Gods.

It's just September.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Writing again

Seriously, I've probably written more this summer than I've written in forever.  It feels good.  Which is not the same thing as having written something that's good.  But still.

I've wondered why I've had this sudden burst of writing energy, and I'm not sure there's a single answer.  But part of it is that I've been going out into the playhouse--that one Ken Cannon is building in the backyard--and writing by hand, something I haven't done since I taught myself to compose at the typewriter.

Yes.  I said typewriter.

When I first started writing on deadline for Utah Holiday and Network many decades ago, I realized I needed speed.  The typewriter (and, later, the computer) provided that.  But with the advent of the Internet, the computer became a way to seriously distract myself.

Thank you, Internet!  Without you, I would never know what that great feminist Kim Kardashian who takes nude selfies on an hourly basis to empower us all is going to do next!

Anyway.  I'm writing by hand now.  And somehow that process keeps me grounded in the story I'm telling.

Monday, September 19, 2016

What's your campaign slogan?

A coworker at the bookstore shared a Facebook meme that tells you to take the last text you sent and turn it into a campaign slogan.

Hers was something about taking out a video game character while wearing her underwear.  Another's was "Happy anniversary."  Mine was "I won't be home until 7:00.  Hopefully the dogs won't destroy the house."

Ever since then I've been trying to turn that into a campaign slogan.


I don't know.  Too many words?

What was your last text?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Julia Claiborne Johnson on finishing what you started

So, given that if it weren't for Megan, we'd never know what happens to Bar. Bum., Jasper, the fairy woman Gwendolyn, and Hollyhock, I was particularly intrigued by Johnson's comments at TKE last night.

Johnson was in town to discuss her delightful novel, BE FRANK WITH ME.  Here's the thing (or one of the things) she said that had me nodding in agreement.  After reading a slew of books that made her go HOW DID THIS GET PUBLISHED? she finally realized they got published because they (wait for it) got finished.

If you want to publish a book, you have to finish it.

Amen and so forth with it.  (Whatever that means.)  (It's just that Ken Cannon says that sometimes.)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Briarton," Part 8

TRIGGER WARNING:  You may be sad to learn that this will be the last installment of "Briarton."  Either I didn't finish this story.  Or the pages were lost in TRQ's storage unit.  I suspect the former.

"His Honor, the Mayor," gulped Dr. P.P. "wishes to see you instantly.  Bring the child with you."

Then struggling for one last breath, the poor tired doctor fainted and fell through the doorway.  The lovely fairy woman Gwendolyn smiled sadly and gently tended the doctor with damp leaves and hummingbird's nectar.

Jasper Jay reached for his lamp, wrapped a quilt about his son's body, and left for his father's home.


However, there is an opportunity for YOU to tell us all what happens next.  Have at it with my blessing!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Briarton," Part 7

As you'll recall, we left the mayor toddling back into his house.  Now we shift our focus and visit his son who married the fairy woman, Gwendolyn, against Mayor Bar. Bum.'s wishes.

As he sat holding his newborn son, Hollyhock, Jasper Jay Bumbleberry heard an urgent rap upon his door.

"I suppose," he spoke to Gwendolyn, his wife, "that our good friend the doctor has come to tell us that Father wishes to see me immediately."

Moving gracefully across the room which was carpeted with white and scarlet rose petals, Gwendolyn answered the door.  Doctor PP stood on the front step panting breathlessly. 


--Meanwhile, pant breathlessly amongst yourselves while waiting to see if grandson, son, and father actually meet.

--Also.  Hollyhock for a boy?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Briarton," Part 6

So how does Bar. Bum. respond once he scares off all his people?

Once every soul had left, and the proud mayor BB felt quite alone, he plopped himself upon the mushroom in front of his tree stump house and shed two gigantic tears.  

When the last one splashed off the end of his balloon red nose and formed a puddle upon the ground below, mayor BB straightened his spectacles and walked slowly into his home.


I think Bar. Bum.'s balloon red nose deserves its own Facebook page.  Don't you?

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Briarton," Part 5

Oh, look!  It's Monday!  Time for another installment of the soap opera (featuring wee folk) known as "Briarton"!  When we last saw the Mayor he was--once again--"very upset."

"Summon my son immediately!"  the Mayor snapped. 

Instantly, poor Doctor Paddywise Putnam sunk upon his trembling knees in fear and crawled away.  Then, turning to the quaking citizens of Briton, Mayor Bar. Bum. [my abbreviations, because apparently it's a drag to spell a mayor's name out when you're in junior high school] roared like the crash of a waterfall upon rocks.

"Get out of here this minute!"

Within seconds, the good citizens of Briton scattered and disappeared, many of them leaving their clover and honeysuckle umbrellas behind . . . 


Meanwhile, please imagine what it feels like to crawl away on trembling knees after someone named Bar. Bum. yells at you.

Friday, September 9, 2016

"Briarton," Part 4

Okay.  Let's see what happens once the butterfly stops fluttering its wings.

"And is my grandson whole?"  [This is Bartholomew Bumbleberry speaking, FYI]

The doctor swallowed and wrung his hands in despair.  "That's exactly what I wanted to tell you.  Your grandson has a hunched back and a twisted leg."

When Paddywise Putnam [that's the doctor's name, FYI] finished his words, the mayor flew into a fit of rage.  Stomping angrily he shook his fists and screamed, "I warned that boy of mine not to marry that fairy-woman!  Everyone knows fairies are not but wild creatures, and I told him that such a match would be disastrous."

Bartholomew Bumbleberry was very upset.


Meanwhile, I got nothing to say about this installment.  It pretty much speaks for itself.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Briarton," Part 3

Yesterday we left the Mayor sputtering with his glasses perched upside down on his balloon red nose.

"Begging your pardon," the doctor politely remarked, "but we bring you news of great and serious import."

"Well, go on,"  B.B. demanded waving his arms so wildly that he knocked the spectacles completely off his nose.

After clearing his throat once and then once again the doctor said, "Your honor, I have come to inform you that your son's wife the fairy woman Gwendolyn has just given birth to a son.

Silence descended upon the crowd as they watched Bartholomew Bumbleberry's face.  It was so quite one could even hear a butterfly flutter its wings.



1.  Yay!  Wee folk family drama!

2.  Of course the fairy woman's name would be Gwendolyn.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"Briarton," Part 2

You'll recall we left the doctor with cheeks puffed with disgust knocking on the Mayor's door . . .

It was some time before the mayor, Bartholomew Bumbleberry, appeared before the indignant citizens of Briarton.  When he stepped into the sun's rosy rays, it was obvious to all that his sleep had been interrupted as he still wore his striped flannel night shirt and had a pair of spectacles perched absent-mindedly upside down upon his balloon red nose.

"I say," the mayor sputtered while rubbing the sunlight from his eyes.  "What is the meaning of this?  I just barely doze off, the first time I've slept all month, and you come to hound me from my bed."

Bartholomew Bumbleberry was very upset.


--Feel free to ask yourself why BB was very upset.
--Also fee fee to ask yourself if you, too, have ever perched your spectacles upside down on your balloon nose.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

TRQ finds another lost manuscript! Briarton, Part 1

I didn't put a date on this one.  I'm guessing I wrote it in junior high school.  I am sincerely hoping I didn't write it in college.

The wee-folk of Briarton gathered beneath parasols of clover and honey-suckle to protect themselves from early morning dew-drops at the base of a hollowed tree stump which served as the Mayor's residence.  [AAAAGGHHH!  I CAN'T BELIEVE I EVER WROTE THE WORDS "PARASOLS OF CLOVER!"]

With chipmunk cheeks puffed with disgust, the village doctor, Paddywise Putnam [Maybe I'd just read The Hobbit?] rapped his fist sharply upon the tree stump's door . . . 


1.  Feel free to wonder why PP is rapping his fist (sharply) upon the tree stump's door.
2.  Feel free to wonder why PP's cheeks are puffed with disgust.
3.  Feel free to wonder what cheeks puffed with disgust look like.
4.  Feel free to be happy I didn't take up writing fantasy as a career.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Viewing change

Change has always been hard for me, something I've mentioned NUMEROUS TIMES on this blog.  For as long as I can remember, the emotions I experience most intensely are love and loss.  And maybe craving for doughnuts.

Anyway.  DawnAnn at the bookstore told me about a discussion she heard where the speaker talked about her experience with Broken Heart Syndrome.  A REAL thing, people.  Who knew?   The speaker lost her parents in a short period of time and the loss undid her emotionally and physically both.

During her recuperation she reframed her thinking.  She began to think in terms of "completion" instead of ending.  A chapter of her life had been completed.  And now it was time for another chapter to begin.

The idea of completion is so much more satisfying, isn't it?  We feel satisfied and pleased when we complete.

As I move into what for me is a melancholy time of year, I am going to keep this in mind.

Meanwhile, TRQ, who is going through boxes these days, claims to have discovered more manuscripts by Young Ann the Budding Authoress.  There may be more installments ahead . . .

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Sally's Birthday Present," the Conclusion

"Oh Mother Mother come here!"

Mrs. Peterson came holding up her skirt in case of instant danger.

"Oh Sally child are you hurt?"

"No mam.  Look!"  Sally pointed down to the little kittens.

Sally saw her mothers eyes turn from worried to a gentle look.

"Oh," cried Sally.  "This is the most wonderfulest birthday day ever!"

The End
By Ann Edwards
Age 9
Address 521 East 4380 North
Provo, Utah

Monday, August 29, 2016

"Sally's Birthday Present," Part 5

So we last left Polly slicing away and Sally trying to be grateful for a candle on a piece of cornbread. Can you predict what happens next?

After breakfast was over Sally went outside to play.  She went to the loft and what do you think she saw!  Patches with four rolly polly kittens at her side.  Patches looked up at Sally and her wise old eyes seemed to be saying, "You knew I wouldn't turn you down."


Meanwhile I think it's fair enough to say that one of the morals of this story is that a cat named Patches will never turn you down.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

"Sally's Birthday Present," Part 4

You'll recall that we left Sally and her family at the dinner table, preparing to eat their supper of . . .

corn bread and molasses along with grits.  [EDITOR'S NOTE:  Outstanding guesswork, Sarah Plummer!]  When night came Sally had became unhappy again.  

"Oh gosh" she said "I dread for tomorrow to come."  Then she fell to sleep.  In the morning Sally awoke early.  She slipped her faded blue dress on and buttoned it.  She tied her crinkly white apron.  She went to find her mother stirring the mush and her elder sister Polly slicing.

When Sally came in she said, "Good Morning."

"Happy birthday dear" replied her mother.

"Oh Sally heres a little present from Polly and I."  Mother held out a good size piece of cornbread covered with molasses for frosting.  A little candle was put on top.

"Oh thank you Mother and Polly.  It's--it's wonderful."

"It was the best we could do" replied Polly.



Polly?!  Where has Polly been hiding during the rest of this story?  And what exactly was she busy slicing? I don't know about you but I think Polly is a completely unsatisfactory big sister.

But I'm glad Sally got a candle at least.  That's something.  Let's hope Mother doesn't go all Marmee March on Sally and make her share it with the poor people next door.

Friday, August 26, 2016

"Sally's Birthday Present," Part 3

And now here comes the moment you've all been waiting for--the identity of the person (or animal) who promises to give Sally a penny for her thoughts!

Startled she turned to find her brother Billy.

"Oh hi" Sally said.

"Race you Sally."

"O.K. dibs on Starlight"Bi Sally cried.

"I Get Billy Boy."

They mounted and rode off.  Billy was winning by a neck.  Then Sally came creeping up.  At Last they were through.  Both had tied.

Billy and Sally talked and played until they heard a faint ringing of the dinner bell.

"Come on Slowpoke" cried Billy while mounting Billy Boy.  Sally mounted Starlight and soon caught up.

"Hi Mama and Papa" said Billy and Sally at the same time.

The family sat down and ate their small supper of . . . 


I'm going to let you guess what their small (remember, they're poor) supper consists of.  Meanwhile, here are a few stray observations.

1.  I like that Billy has named his horse after himself.
2.  I like that Billy and Sally "cry" instead of "say" anything.
3.  Apparently I was fond of all forms of the verb "to creep" when I was nine years old.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Sally's Birthday Present," Part 2

Yesterday we left our heroine lamenting the fact that coming west wasn't worth it.  We pick up the story from there.

Ever since Sally could remember she had had present and parties.  Sally got the water and gave it to her mother.  She went to the barn and played with Patches the family cat.  Sally always loved Patches and told Patches all of her troubles.  This time she cried and said "Oh!  I don't think I will get anything."  Sally wept in Patches long hair.

"A penny for your thoughts."


Feel free to ask yourself if this is Patches the family cat talking?  Or is someone else there in the barn with Sally?

Feel free to also ask yourself if people "way back in the years of 1848" used phrases like "a penny for your thoughts."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Story is Born: the Early Years!

I've been helping TRQ go through old boxes, and we found one with a bunch of my old stuff.  I even found a story written "by Ann Edwards, age 9."

I will publish in installments over the next few days.  It's called "Sally's Birthday Present," and I have preserved it in its original form except for the paragraphing part.

Way back in the years of 1848 there was a pioneer girl named Sally Peterson.  

"Tomorrow is my birthday!  Tomorrow is my birthday!"  Sally cried jumping up and down with delight.  

Mrs. Peterson looked out of the small cabin at her daughter.  Mrs. Peterson sighed knowing that Sally wasn't going to get anything for her birthday, for these were hard times.  

"Sally," said Sally's mother in a trembling voice.  "Come here.  I've got to talk to you.  You know how hard your Father works to get the few things we have.  We're scraping the bottom of our corn barrel all ready.  The corn and wheat has been flooded. [editor's note--I can't read my handwriting here, but it's probably something really touching.] We just won't be able to afford any presents or cake with icing.  Do you understand Honey?"

"Yes Mommy."

"Oh Sally by the way would you go get some water?"

"Yes mam."

Sally walked out of the door with the hedges creeping.  [I think I meant to say "hinges creaking" but who knows what descriptive details linger in the minds of fourth-grade creative writers?]  When the door banged, Sally felt a hollow feeling creep over her.  With salty tears rolling down her cheek she said, "Oh dear!  I just don't think coming west was worth it!"


(Favorite detail:  Sally's family is already scraping the bottom of the corn barrel.)
(Favorite sentence:  "Oh dear!  I just don't think coming west was worth it!_

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Yesterday in Provo

Yesterday was bittersweet.

I went to the graveside service for my friend Becky's mother, Sheila, who died last week--thirty years after the debilitating stroke that changed her life.  She was buried in East Lawn Memorial Hills--overlooking the neighborhood where Becky and I first met as ten year-olds.

My friends and I used to go sledding in the winter, not far from the spot where Sheila is buried beneath a grove of scrub oak.  And while I was there, surrounded by people from my past, girlhood Anns swirled up to greet me.  

The Ann who spent a year in bed in the red brick house next to the red brick church.  

The Ann who climbed the foothills covered with summer-burnt grasses.  

The Ann who rode her bike from Sears down 4380 North as fast as wind.  

The Ann who greeted her grandparents with a shout whenever they pulled up the driveway in their VW bus.

The Ann who used to pretend (along with neighbors Wendy and Diana) that she was an orphan pursued by an evil aunt named Georgia.

All those Anns were present yesterday as Sheila's friends and family members stood together and told her goodbye.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bean's announcement

Bean, as you may recall, is my six-year-old granddaughter.

We had a slumber party at my house a few weeks ago and before she went to bed, I told her to pick out some books for Ken Cannon to read to her.  When she pulled out a princess book she turned up her nose and said she didn't like princesses now.

So, this is a little girl who wanted to be in reincarnated as the movie Frozen.  This is a little girl who hugged every princess she met the first time she went to Disneyland.  This is a little girl who practically invented princesses.

And now she doesn't like them anymore.  This is probably a good thing.  We have lots of books in both the parenting and gender sections at the store decrying the whole culture of little girl princesses.

But still.  I'm going to miss her singing like Ariel in the next room.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Video did not kill the radio star

I know this, because I still listen to the radio.  At home.  In the car.  I'm an old person that way.

But here's something I haven't done in forever--listen to a baseball game on the radio.  Which I did last night.  I'd meant to go to the Bees game, but gah.  I was tired.  And Geoff, who's home visiting from DC didn't feel like it anyway, so I found the game on my AM dial and filled the house with the noise of the crowd and Steve Klauke doing the play by play.

I didn't listen closely but I liked the way it felt like summer in my bedroom.  And suddenly I remembered nights growing up when we would hear Vin Scully calling a game all the way from L.A., Baby, with the same stars shining over the mountains and the beach.  It made me feel . . . connected

Interesting, isn't it, the things that become the stuff of happy memories.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

So tiny (and also attachment issues)

This morning I took a tiny walk with my neighbor Johanna who wanted to show me a tiny hummingbirds' nest built on top of a tiny wind chime.  The nest, of course, was filled with a tiny baby.  All of which seems like a tiny miracle to me.

Or even a big one.

It's no secret that I struggle with bouts of depression--some of them fairly severe--so I keep looking for tools to put in my toolbox (ugh!  therapist-speak!) so when an episode hits, I can find ways to lessen the pain.  Which is why I've been reading about mindfulness which goes down the Buddhist road which places a lot of value on letting go of attachments because attachments are the cause of pain in this world.

Or at least that's how I'm reading that concept.

But as I walked away from the tiny hummingbirds' nest, I thought bring on the pain.  I want to feel the beauty of that nest in my heart and love it still, knowing full well that it will be gone by autumn.

Monday, August 8, 2016

To floss or not to floss

I set out my opinion in this column.

Now please excuse me while I go floss.  Or not.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Muggles remember

Here's that article thing about favorite Harry Potter memories.  Honestly, I loved what people had to say.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

On hope

I found this poem the other night in a collection of bird poems called Bright Wings.  

Hope and Love
by Jane Hirshfield

All winter
the blue heron
slept among the horses.
I do not know 
the custom of herons,
do not know
if the solitary habit
is their way,
or if he listened for
some missing one--
not knowing even
that was what he did--
in the blowing
sounds in the dark.
I know that
hope is the hardest
love we carry.
He slept
with his long neck
folded, like a letter
put away.

The line that struck is the part about hope being the "hardest love we carry."  Where there is hoping there is love.  So much love.  And sometimes love and despair.  And will a situation change?  And will there be joy?

Hope is hard.  But I would be lonely without it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

That playhouse Ken Cannon is building

A few years ago I told Ken Cannon I wanted him to build a playhouse for the granddaughters in the backyard.  I had one when I was a little girl in Holladay.  It was pretty much a wood shack.  But I loved it and its sawdust-y smell whenever I stepped inside.  And I wanted that for our granddaughters.

Well.  Ken Cannon said yes.  The only problem is that while I was thinking "wood shack" he was thinking "that Victorian house with a tower and dormer windows I always wanted to build for our family but never did."   And he's been working on the playhouse ever since in the bits and scraps of time he has left to him on a summer evening.

For awhile I was annoyed.  Because the structure is so complicated, it's going to take him forever to finish it.  Our granddaughters will be adults with grandchildren of their own by the time he finishes it.

But then I had a brainwave.  AN AWESOME BRAINWAVE.  I decided to start using it as my writing- -home-away-from-home.  There are no distractions in the writing-home-away-from-home, except, of course, for the dogs who usually join me.  I go outside early in the morning and write by hand with a soft-lead pencil in a spiral notebook.

I haven't enjoyed writing this much in years.

And here's the best part.  The playhouse smells all sawdust-y.

Monday, August 1, 2016


So I was looking at my baby finger, admiring that scar I have had for decades now, when suddenly it occurred to me I should write a column about skin and how it's a roadmap detailing at least some of the places you've traveled.

People ask me if I ever worry about running out of ideas.  And the answer is both yes and no.  I worry that one day I'll realize the well has done gone dry.  OH NO!  But as my deadline approaches, I look around, see a finger, and think, okay.  I can write about that.

Have faith in the process, people.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Looking at things differently

Or trying to . . .

I don't think of myself as an overly fearful person, but I've come to realize that I do have a fear of things going terribly wrong in the future.  This is probably one of the reasons my life motto is "Things could be worse, and they probably will be."

I've worried about the people I love dying and coping with financial difficulties and enduring poor health.  Sometimes I feel like disaster is lurking around every corner, and I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Who knew I was this person?

And so I've decided to look at problems as opportunities, which sounds like a bunch of New Age-y B.S., but whatever.  An opportunity seems like a more hopeful thing than a disaster.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I've been missing my friend Sharon Kamerath lately.  I mean, I always miss Sharon, who passed away a few years ago.  But the last few days I've really, really, REALLY missed her.

Sharon had been ill for a long time and knew she was dying, which meant that she had time to arrange a few things--Sharon was a natural born arranger--and one of the things she did was to tell her family and friends that if they ever found a stray button, they'd know she'd been visiting.

Anyway.  I've found myself looking for buttons.  On the street.  In my car.  Around town.  I haven't found any.  Until I looked up just now and saw that vase full of button flowers my daughter-in-law Julie made for me.  It's just sitting there.  On my window sill.


Oh, Sharon.  Thanks for reminding me that sometimes the thing we're looking for is right in front of us.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Last night at the bookstore

The author Kent Haruf's wife, Cathy, joined us for a discussion about her late husband and his work.

Let it be said that Cathy Haruf is splendid--intelligent, funny, warm, and strikingly good-lucking.  With her white hair and enormous brown eyes, she stands out.  And her husband, of course, was a gifted storyteller.  So it was interesting to hear her talk about his process which involved going out to a tool shed, putting on a cap and pulling it down over his eyes so he couldn't see what he was typing, and going to work on a typewriter.  He used the hat, Cathy said, to keep from being distracted.

When he finished his work, he would give it to Cathy, who would go through his (apparently) stream-of-consciousness, single-spaced draft, clean it up and input it into the computer.

As a writer myself, I have to say this is huge.  HUGE.  She was, and I'm sure he acknowledged this, a writing partner.

And this got me to thinking about my own writing life and how I didn't have a wife to run interference for me in all the ways that women will run interference for the men they love--especially if they feel like those men are geniuses.  They feed them, they shield them from unnecessary interruptions, they encourage, they edit, they listen, they protect his time and his space.

As it turns out, I would not have been a writer if it weren't for Ken Cannon.  He truly encouraged and encourages me to write.  He sent off my first manuscript--the one that eventually became Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Many by Night--after I had lost confidence in it and myself.  He has always made it possible for me to leave when I needed time to focus.  And, of course, his paycheck has supported us--something I would have not been capable of doing on my writing income alone.  So I appreciate him more than words can say.

But I do have to say last night caused me to reflect about the differences in our lives when it comes to gender.  Men can write through life.  Women have to write around it.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


So, true confession time:  my family and I never really got into the Harry Potter books the way everybody else did.  But I seriously LOVED that people did.

For my next Trib books piece I want to write about people's favorite reading-Harry-Potter memories. If you have something you'd like to contribute, I'd love it.  E-mail me at

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Emails from readers

Most of the time my column in the Salt Lake Tribune is genial.  And most of time I avoid mentioning a) religion and b) politics because plenty of others are happy to mention away on those topics.  But every now and then I let loose and do a little flame-throwing, which makes me feel like my old friend Robert Kirby for a day.  Of course there's pushback when I do that, so going through my email can get . . . interesting.

Anyway, today's column was an open letter to D-Trump, scolding him for his (I believe) cynical exploitation of Islamophobia.  Predictably there were e-mails waiting for me.  Oh, yes.  There were e-mails.  This was my favorite:

The Sudoku puzzle on today's puzzle website is the same puzzle from yesterday. I've noticed this happening lately. Maybe I just haven't been that observant until lately. It would be nice to have a new puzzle each day. Any chance of that?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Question of the Day

I just turned on the Marlins v. Braves game.

Not that I care about either one of those teams but it's summer and baseball must be on at all times here at Chez Cannon.

Anyway.  The organist (you know how some franchises still have an old school organ player?) just busted out a version of Greensleaves.  Which leads me to my question.

Does Greensleaves scream baseball to you?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

Is this blog still working?

Yes.  I believe it is.  Thank you, Blog, for still working even though I've ignored you so . . .

We just returned from a stellar week at the beach, which led to this column.  It's hard to believe that my brothers and I are all grandparents now, watching our grandchildren interact with one another the way you used to watch our kids.

Wow.  Time.

If you're still reading, thank you.  I promise to try harder.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Well, I kinda felt like I was in the middle of a Viagra commercial

WARNING:  This post will not be near as interesting as that title.  Just so you know.

Anyway, Ken Cannon and I returned from a weekend in and around Capitol Reef where we were surrounded by aging Baby Boomers on motorcycles and so forth, making one last grab at Youth trotting out the front door.

But whatever.  The park was great, and we packed a heap of living into a few days.  Because you never know.  MAYBE WE ONLY HAVE A FEW DAYS LEFT AT THIS STAGE.  But again, whatever.  We hiked and drove the Burr Trail, as well as an offered trail through Cathedral Valley where we ate a lunch at the foot of the Temple of the Sun.  We also forded the Fremont River (okay, fine!  It was like six inches deep!) and took a ferry across Lake Powell.  

And then we ate pie at the Sunglo Cafe in Bicknell--Pinto Bean with all the whipped cream a fat boy could want.

It's good to get away.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Yesterday on my FB page, Middle Son posted this:  "Because I know you love yourself a good baseball brawl."  And then he put up a link about last week's epic Blue Jays/ Rangers bench-clearing. Which I enjoyed.  It must be said.

But why?

Why does a good brawl feel refreshing to me?  Like, it totally clears my sinuses or something.  I have no answers on this front, but if you enjoy yourself a good brawl as well, feel free to peruse the following links.

You're welcome!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A big sprawling messy metaphor for my big sprawling messy life

I had a bad day yesterday.

I didn't want to have a bad day.  It was our youngest boy's birthday and who can't be happy that Q. came into the world?  It was also the day I nearly cashed in my chips during that whole birthing thing--seriously--so I usually take a moment on May 11 to consider how lucky I am to still be alive and that all of the transfusions didn't leave me HIV positive, which was a thing they worried about in those days.

But gah.  I woke up feeling truly melancholy, missing all kinds of things and people.  It didn't help that when I opened up my address book--one I've been keeping for decades now--I noticed how many friends and family have died.


And then my Avon lady came over and my dogs bothered her and the more my dogs bothered her the more nervous my Avon lady got and then they started to bark and then she started to bark (not really) and then when I locked them all up (not the Avon lady) they went crazy barking some more and I did think unto myself these thoughts:

1.  Three dogs are too many.

2.  I'm in over my head with three dogs.

3.  I want to slap my Avon lady for being afraid of dogs.

4.  Wow.  Wanting to slap your Avon lady makes you a NOT NICE HUMAN BEING.

5.  Why do I always take on more than I can handle in life?  And thereby create chaos and messes and half-assedness wherever I touch down?

Then I woke up this morning, went outside, looked at my crazy garden with way, way, way too much going on--no one is every going to give me a prize for being tasteful and restrained and possessing an artful eyes.  But I went shit.

I like this anyway.

Friday, April 22, 2016


This morning I dialed up my Prince playlist and listened as I walked my dogs through--wait for it--the cemetery.  I wasn't being all symbolic although it was apropos somehow to be wandering through a thicket of tombstones while hearing Prince in my ear talk about the afterlife.

I was surprised yesterday by how emotional I felt when I heard the news of Prince's death.  I've always said he was my favorite guilty pleasure, although now I'm wondering why I felt obliged to attach the "guilty" disclaimer.  (My other favorite guilty pleasure = AC/DC and yeah.  I should probably keep the "guilty" part in place for that one.)

Who knows why we love the music we love?  I could say Prince's music had a good beat and was easy to listen to.  I could also say that I admired his way with lyrics.  I often used "Raspberry Beret" when I taught creative writing because that song does so much kickass work in such a few short lines.


I was working part time in a five-and-dime
My boss was Mr. McGee
He gold me several times that he didn't like my kind
'Cause I was a bit too leisurely.

Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing
But different than the day before
That's when I saw her, ooh, I saw her
She walked in through the out door, out door

Think about all the work those two stanzas do.  We have "setting"--a five-and-dime.  We have "characters"--a grumpy employer, an underachieving clerk, and a girl who defies.  Dude.  She walk IN though the OUT door.

Great stuff, right?

But for all our fancy schmalzy analysis of why we like what we like--and the intellectual justifications for it all--humans connect with music in their gut.  And something about Prince and his mind-blowing, body-moving, foot-stomping funk punk vibe invited me into His Purple-ness's world.

Let's go crazy today, okay?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lilac time

Is there any scent more evocative than that of lilacs in bloom?

This morning I was out trimming things up in the backyard when I had my first real hit of lilac fragrance of the season.  And suddenly here's where I was.  In Poland on a train twelve years ago, rumbling through the countryside with my brothers and our spouses and our parents.  Banks of lilac shrubs stretched everywhere--all in full, sun-shimmered bloom.  As I looked out the window and saw the rolling richness all around me, I felt the taste of my own heart and thought this:  I have never ever seen anything more beautiful than now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The perks of being invisible

They say as you age you become invisible and HOLY COW, BATMAN it's kinda true.

But I'm discovering that there are advantages to this state.  One of them is that you can just stare, stare, stare away at people to your heart's content and nobody thinks you're being rude or nosy because hello.  They don't see you.

That's why I had fun staring at army guys running in Liberty Park today.  There was just all this patriotic testosterone in T-shirts floating around, which I enjoyed very much and nobody thought it was weird when I stopped my bike to take a look.

Although now that I write this down, I'm wondering if maybe this sounds a little weird after all.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mother of boys, grandmother of girls

I had Bean (five year-old granddaughter's nickname) here for a sleepover last night.  We ate ice cream and colored and did lace-up cards.  This morning she wanted to dress herself and since I am a disaster on the clothes front, I said knock yourself out.

A little later after she joined me in my bedroom,  I noticed that there were sparkling reflections on the walls--like I had a big old disco ball hanging from my ceiling inviting me to put on my big hair and my Joan Collins earrings and GET DOWN TONIGHT!

Where were the sparkles coming from, I wondered.  And then I looked at Bean.  She had sparkles on her hair bows and sparkles on her shirt and when she twirled around it was Sparkle-Rama time at chez Cannon. and lo I did reflect unto myself that in all those years I was raising boys, there were never any sparkles on my wall.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Talking trees

When I was little we had an orchard.  I can still see my grandmother standing there when I snapped a branch off the tree and waved it like a wand.

"Ooooo," my grandmother said.  "You just hurt that tree."

"How do you know?"

"Because it told me."

This was all said in the spirit of play--she wasn't scolding me for tree abuse.  But ever since then I have always thought of trees as beings with stories to tell.  If only I could hear them.

I have been missing my grandmother something fierce lately.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

That one episode of Frasier

So whenever I visit the Texans, Dylan and I like to play "You Don't Know Jack"--a game (I'll go ahead and say it) I often win.


The game gets violent sometimes, especially during round 3, otherwise known as "The Jack Attack." I frequently resort to kicking people in their thighs and so forth.

Anyway, Dylan (who is good at the game, it must be said, and sometimes beats me) beat me every time we played it  And . . . I think that made us all a little said.  It's like that episode when Frasier finally beats Marty in chess and then feels remorse for knocking the old mountain goat off the mountain.  Or something like that.

Is this a corner one turns when one turns sixty?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Vegetarian for a day

Here's the deal.  I'm just a natural born carnivore, and I always have been.  Meat is milk to me.

Anyway.  I just spent a few days with the Texas family in Houston (aka H-Town, Clutch City, Crush City, City of Syrup, Screwston, and you're welcome for this bit of awesome trivia that might help you answer a question on Jeopardy) where I had a great Texas adventure, which included wandering through Bluebonnets in bloom, watching the Astros destroy the Royals,  and eating gator.

Yes.  Eating gator.

We went to a place called Cajun Cafe where I ordered up a plate of fried oysters and fried gator just for the novelty of it all so that one day I can casually insert into a conversation the fact that I have eaten alligator.  People, I imagine, would look at me with newfound respect, right?

But I kind of lost my nerve over it and by the time the dish arrived, I was throwing up in my mouth a little.  Why is it that I can eat cows and chickens and turkeys and pigs but somehow feel sickened by the idea of alligator?

How did it taste, my brother Jimmy wanted to know.  Fried, I said.  Also fatty and fishy.  But as soon as I ate it I resolved to become a vegetarian which I have been all day long.

It must be said, however, I want a hamburger tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Best pickup line EVER!

While at Shipley Do-nuts (please note the hyphen involved), my four year-old granddaughter was approached by a four year-old redheaded boy, carrying a toy lobster (?!) in his left hand.  He kind of waved it at her and then said, "I'm getting a sperm whale for my birthday."

He looked all kinds of pleased when he said this.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reframing my weight issues

So, I had a fairly serious depressive episode last year (boo!) and lost twenty pounds (yay!)

Once I began feeling better I thought to myself, "Self!  Let's keep this here weight off."  And I did.  Until March.

Here's what happens in March.  Mrs. Backer's starts making hot cross buns during Lent, which means I have to go there every day and buy one.  Maybe two.  And then there are malted milk eggs to be had.  And then a certain birthday arrives.  And then also it must be said I start to crave hamburgers when the sun comes out.  So . . . . I inevitably gain weight in the spring.

And those twenty pounds I lost?  Well, they're rejoining the party that is my body.  Party on, pounds!

I've been distressed about this because I've always been that girl that had to/wanted to lose fifteen pounds.  Way, way, way lots of energy has been expended on the weight loss (real and aspirational both) front over the years.  And I've started to do that obsessing thing again.

But yesterday I had this thought:  why not feel pleased that I can eat again?  That food tastes good again.  That I don't have to dread food-related social encounters.  The pounds returning like homing pigeons are a sign that I am feeling well again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Playing like a kid

This week Louise and I wrote about childhood pastimes.  I made a list.  I strongly urge you to do the same.

  • Riding my bike
  • Watching Gilligan's Island on summer afternoons
  • Reading
  • Climbing the foothills at the top of 4380 North
  • Coloring
  • Cutting out paper dolls
  • Weaving hot pads on plastic looms with nylon loops
  • Playing "orphans" with my neighbors
  • Turning cartwheels on the front lawn
  • Building dollhouses out of shoe boxes
  • Having sleepovers and telling scary stories about Weeping Marys
  • Tubing at Timp Haven in the winter
  • Hanging out at the cemetery
  • Daring boys to eat dirt or glue
  • Sleeping outside in the backyard
  • Watching for shooting stars and saying "another witch has died" whenever I saw one
  • Swimming
  • Playing dolls
  • Roller-skating and skateboarding
  • Walking and talking with friends
  • Playing tetherball (gosh!)
  • Playing football
  • Playing hopscotch and jacks
  • Reading Tales from the Crypt on my friend's front porch
  • Swinging
  • Singing into hairbrushes and pretending like my friends and I were the Monkees
  • Going to matinees
  • Getting dropped off at the Cottonwood Mall with friends because in those days Cottonwood Mall = Air-conditioned Babysitter

Monday, April 4, 2016

Recipe Box

I just finished a column about my recipe box and how all those handwritten recipes have a personal history that recipes pulled off the Internet just don't.  It was fun to go through my old recipes and remember me and my big hair in the kitchen when my kids were little.

I didn't put this one in my column because I figured it might buy me some trouble--trouble not worth causing--but I loved TRQ's recipe for "Vegetable Chow Ding."  I can imagine her discovering this one in the seventies when dang!  They started selling exotic stuff like canned "water chestnuts" (whole or sliced) and "bamboo shoots" in the grocery store where ordinary Americans could buy them.

Think of the possibilities!  Create a recipe.  Slap a made-up Chinese name on it.  And boom.  You're ready to go.

Friday, April 1, 2016

When TRQ was scary

On April Fool's Day, actually.  And on that day she was so scary.  SO SCARY.

I've written about this before, I know, but seriously if you had a mother who put dry dog food in your shoes and salt in the sugar bowl and green food coloring in your orange juice so that you thought you were drinking peas before you limped off to school (with dry dog food in your shoes), you would suffer from PSTD on April Fool's Day, too.

I will spend the rest of the day avoiding phone calls from my mother, y'all.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

What I did yesterday

1.  Took my morning walk with Kathy, Sally, and Nancy.
2.  Ate several raisin cookies for breakfast.
3.  Facetimed with my Texas family.
4.  Read and responded to texts.
5.  Talked to my parents on the telephone.
6.  Imagined my grandmother standing in the kitchen with me.
7.  Walked all three dogs with Ken Cannon.
8.  Planned this summer's garden, wondering if I have room for Cosmos AND Oriental Poppies.  (Sadly, I think the answer is "no.")
9.  Had a pedicure which turned my toenails a nice dusty rose color.
10.  Took a long, hot shower.
11.  Started reading a novel Louise loaned me, The Memory Man by David Baldacci, which looks to be pretty damn entertaining.
12.  Thought about taking a hike but didn't.
13.  Thought about going to Brugge downtown to buy some fries but didn't.
14.  Ate the rest of Randi's awesome carrot cake for lunch.
15.  Did not deny myself a single can of Dr. Pepper all day long.
16.  Talked on the phone with my brothers.
17.  Answered some e-mails.
18.  Asked TRQ what time of day I'd been born.  She didn't remember, but the Coach did.
19.  Spent some quality time (and I'm not being sarcastic) on Facebook.
20.  Talked to various sons.
21.  Ate at the Rio Grande with my noisy, lively family.
22.  Watched Jimmy Kimmel.
23.  Allowed one of the cats (the developmentally challenged one) to creep into bed with us when Ken Cannon wasn't looking.
24.  Uttered a prayer of gratitude.
25.  Turned 60.

It was a lovely day.  Every single scrap of it.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

De-toxing from the news

I don't know exactly when (or why) I started listening to the news all day, either on the radio or the television.  But by now it's a deeply ingrained habit.  If I don't get the news, I go into caffeine withdrawal and that IS SO NOT FUN.

Anyway.  I've had the TV off for the past few days and guess what.  I feel better now that I don't have to see or hear those mean-hearted smarmy bastards, aka D-Trump or T-Cruz, both of whom make me feel ashamed for us.

I know this state of denial can't last.

But it feels good for now.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Overheard conversations

Oh, I just love overheard conversations.  I take them and spin scenarios in my head.  But every now and then you hear something so fabulous you don't need to embellish.  Here was the conversation I overheard yesterday.

GUY:    Wait.  You're only 22?

GIRL:   I know.  I have Bad Life Decisions written all over my face.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Letters to my grandkids

Today Louise and I settled on a prompt asking us to write letters to our grandkids about an object we're bequeathing to them.  Here are mine.

Dear C,

Here.  This is my Chatty Cathy doll.  I'm giving her to you because 1) you like dolls and 2) you're my oldest grandchild.  Good thing you're a girl!  Although maybe a grandson would like a Chatty Cathy doll, too.  I AM NOT A SEXIST GRANDMOTHER.

I received Chatty Cathy for Christmas when I was four years old and when I pulled her string for the first time, she said, "I love you."  I'm told by eye-witnesses that I wrapped my arms around my new doll and said, "I love you, too, Chatty Cathy."

Take good care of her.  Give her old voice box a rest sometimes and also don't cut her hair.

Dear E,

Here.  This is the bouquet of cotton stocks in a cobalt blue jar I keep on my desk.  Whenever I look at it I think of you and remember the cotton field by your house in North Carolina where the combine rumbled and harvested beneath a low silver moon.  I picked some for myself and took it home as a reminder of southern you.

This year as we drove home from Texas after spending Thanksgiving with you, I made your grandfather pull over so I could steal a proper bouquet of cotton stalks (Sorry, Cotton Farmers of Texas!) from a rain-soaked field.  I'm not sorry I did it.  I love how blowsy white and brown it is, like cloud and mud.

Turns out you're my nature baby.  You love digging in the dirt and stealing rocks from other people's property.  I get it.

Dear P,

Here.  These are the baseball cards I've secretly stashed in my nightstand drawer.  I'm not really a collector but whenever I found a Dennis Eckersley card, I kept it.  He was my imaginary boyfriend because he was so badass on the mound.  But then he took his hat off and he wasn't so cute anymore.  You, on the other hand, will be cute with your hat on and off.

I have a card of Pedro Martinez, too, because badass.  Also, I have a card of Vance Law.  I went to high school with him and had a tiny crush on him when we were juniors.  So there's that.

Already you like to throw balls when I babysit you.  You also like trains.  No one taught you that BECAUSE WE ARE NOT SEXIST IN OUR FAMILY.  You just came that way.  And I'm glad.  Because I like baseball and the sound of train whistles in the quiet of night.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Are you sure we're not Irish?

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner and yes.  I put up decorations even though I'm not Irish.  I like holidays.  I like holiday decorations.  Give me an excuse and something to decorate, and I'll totally throw some tinsel on it.

Speaking of not being Irish . . . this fact makes my dad very, very sad.  I can still remember standing on the beach with him, gulls screaming overhead and water swirling around our ankles, discussing our lack of Irish-ness.

"I really do think we must be Irish," he said.  "I like the Irish."

Then he fished his phone out of his pocket and called my Uncle Wayne, the family genealogist.

"Wayne," he said.  "Are you sure we're not Irish?"

Later when I saw my Uncle Wayne, I asked him about this.  He rolled his eyes and said, "I don't know many times I have to tell that guy.  WE ARE NOT IRISH."

Sorry, Dad.

Monday, March 7, 2016


I just started listening to this audio book yesterday . . .

Karr is an engaging writer (and reader) who makes this interesting point:  when asked about the rise in popularity of the memoir over the past ten years, she says that people who crave realism in their narratives have turned to the form in response to the current interest in dystopian, speculative, and/or experimental, academic fiction.

I have no way of knowing if this is true or not, of course.  But it makes sense to me.  People's stories--the "I" narrator--have always fascinated me.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

When my dad cried

I only remember seeing my dad cry twice.

It's not that he was against boys crying.  In spite of his profession, he wasn't running around celebrating MACHO all the time.  He didn't need to.  And we always used to kid him that he was way, way, way in touch with his girly side.  Dude likes to garden and buy clothes and iron.

So there's that.

But if he did much crying, I never saw it.  The first time was the day I got married, and now that I think about it, he was probably crying for joy.  YES!  THANK YOU, KEN CANNON!

The other time was a few months after Becky died.  I found out that Becky's father, Tom, was giving a talk in church down in Provo, so I decided to attend the meeting.  I thought Tom might feel like Becky was there in spirit when he saw me there.

So I went.  And Tom, of course, gave a lovely thoughtful talk, which was very much a Tom thing to do.  He was such a literate man.  On my way out of the meeting, I ran into my own father, who was on the way to his meetings.  Tom's ward and my parents' ward met in the same building--just at different times.

The coach was surprised to see me.

"What are you doing here?"  he asked.

When I told him I was there to hear Tom speak, his eyes filled with tears.  He didn't say anything else.  He didn't need to.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Watching Donald Trump . . . in silence

I'm sitting here on my bed, watching Donald Trump attack Mitt Romney.  Watching.  Not listening.  I have the sound turned down so low I can't hear him.  Which, frankly, is a good way to experience Donald Trump.

I do this sometimes, watch instead of listen, because you notice things you wouldn't notice otherwise.  The thing about Trump I'm noticing right now is that for a guy who is such a huge, meaty, WWF, bullying presence, his hands are remarkably feminine.  And the motions he makes with those hands--the index finger touching the thumb when he wants to make a point--are nothing short of womanly.  Dainty, even.

Is it sexist to say that?  Because I like women's hands.  I just didn't expect to see them on Donald Trump.

I'm into silence right now, actually.  I've lost my voice and so I have this enforced quietude going on. As a result, I am listening now more than talking.  Which is a good thing, actually.

But I still don't have to listen to Donald Trump.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Surprising Journeys

For many years I have thought of myself as a writer first and a teacher second--maybe because I sort of fell into teaching.  It was a default choice.

But what I have come to realize lately is that my richest experiences have come from the teaching part of my life.  Because of the opportunities I've had to teach at BYU and Westminster, as well as in various workshop settings, I have been able to meet the most incredible people.  People who are smart and brave and hungry, vulnerable and strong.  My life would be all kinds of gray without their stories.

You know who you are.  Thank you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What not to flush down the toilet

The sign on the elevator in an apartment building I just visited has a list by the floor buttons.  Along with the usual suspects, you're not supposed to flush kitty litter or cigarette butts down the toilet.

Since I'm not a smoker, I don't know if it would have ever occurred to me to flush a butt of the cigarette variety down a toilet.  But I've been a cat owner all of my life and seriously, it never once occurred to me to flush litter down the toilet.

My kids, however, did flush my keys down the toilet once.  So there's that.

Monday, February 29, 2016

I'd like to thank the Academy

. . . for raising my consciousness and increasing my awareness last night.  Because I would never do that on my own.

Gah.  What a dreary, self-important bloated event that was!  The irony is that my politics are definitely progressive.  But guess what.  I seriously resent being lectured to.  I also want my Oscars to be a party, not a rally.

And if I never EVER see gravity-defying breasts I'll be happy.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Special Super Power

Can you think of a moment in your life when you felt thoroughly validated?

Here's mine:  I was getting ready to park in front of our house (we don't have off-street parking) when I noticed a car behind me.  I'd have to park quickly, I knew, so I did the parallel parking thing and NAILED IT.

As the car passed me, the driver--a teenage boy--gave me two thumbs up because yeah.  I won't lie.  I was impressive and we both knew it.

That's my special super power--parallel parking.  As one of my boys said, "Mom is oddly good at that."

What's YOUR special super power?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Writing historical fiction

There are two kinds of writers who write historical fiction.

The first kind is the writer who LOVES history for history's sake.  She adores research.  He pores over primary and secondary sources.  She pins maps on her bulletin board.  He travels to see and smell and hear the places he's writing about.

The second kind of writer has a more utilitarian view of history.  If the setting works for the story, she'll use it.  As for as the research part, he'll do the absolute minimum--gathering just enough of the facts (ma'am) to get by.

Which is the more common type of historical fiction writer?  I suspect the first kind.  Generally speaking, writers (and readers!) who love history are naturally drawn to the genre.

Why am I even talking about this?  Because I had lunch with a writer friend yesterday who is researching turn-of-the-century Utah in order to write a mystery.  And, in fact, he has a lot of the plot worked out.  But here's the thing.  He often avoids the actual writing part, because he worries about getting the historical details right.

Here's what I told him.  STOP RESEARCHING.  He has enough to write the story.  And if he gets stuck, he can connect the historical dots later.  As important as the research is, it shouldn't get in the way of writing the story itself.  It shouldn't be a diversion.

Why do I know this?  Because I am the second kind of historical fiction writer.  I don't love research because it feels like HOMEWORK, duh.  And when I wrote Charlotte's Rose, I got some of the details wrong.  For sure.  But at least the story got written.

I know.  I'm a genius.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What I've been reading lately

I just finished The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell and thought it was kind of a mess, frankly.  Too sprawling.  Too many threads left hanging--and not in a good, artistic way.  I've been despairing of late over disappointing mysteries and thrillers.  Part of the problem is that they're just too damn long.  It's hard for a 500-plus page thriller to hold up under its own weight.  The payoff with most of them just isn't there.  What's wrong with a tidy slim novel ala Agatha Christie?

I also just finished The Swans of Fifth Avenue, which really captivated me.  It's maybe overwritten in some places--especially toward the end.  But the imagined lives of Truman Capote and his swans--Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, C. Z. Guest, et. al.--packed a real emotional punch.

Friday, February 19, 2016

RIP Harper Lee

Even though I was an irritating child, the Coach never seemed particularly irritated with me--so the moments that he clearly WAS irritated with me stand out in my memory with a special clarity.  One of those moments occurred over the Thanksgiving break of my 8th grade year.

Ugh.  Eighth grade.

Anyway, I was in the middle of reading To Kill a Mockingbird when we had to meet up with aunts and uncles and cousins in Pleasant Grove for Thanksgiving dinner, which we held in some sort of recreational hall--maybe even a church?--because my dad had thirteen siblings and I had a boatload of cousins.  No mere home could contain us all.

Well, I didn't want to go.  I wanted to stay home and read because I was love, love, love, McLoving that book so much.  But my parents forced me to go with them.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH PARENTS?  So I took along my book and skulked outside and hid myself and read in the freezing cold away from cousins.

The Coach apparently noticed I was MIA.  So he came looking for me.  And when he found me reading instead of socializing he was peeved, which surprised me.  At the time I wondered if he was mad at me for being a dork.  I was often mad at myself in those days for being a dork.  I'm still not sure why he was so bothered, although now that I'm a LOT older than he was at the time, I suspect it had something to do with tricky family dynamics.  Because families have dynamics.  That are tricky.


I turned on the TV just now and heard the news that Harper Lee passed away.  And the idea occurred to me that I'd like to write a column about how much To Kill a Mockingbird has meant to people.

If you want to tell me, I'm all ears.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I might quote you.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Scampering husbands

Ken Cannon, as I've indicated here, is a superior husband and superior human being.  The only way in which I am superior to his superiority--not including the part where I could give birth and he couldn't--is that I have a much better sense of time than he does.

This means that over the years I've done a fair amount of waiting for him.  Which is why whenever I have to take something to his office and he's supposed to meet me on Broadway for the handoff, I always end up illegally parked in front of his office building.  Waiting.

So today I called him before I left and said BE OUT FRONT.  And he said I'LL BE OUT FRONT.  So I left our house with confidence in his eminent out-frontness surging through my bosom.

But he wasn't there.  I had to call him on my cell and when I got him on the phone, it was clear that he'd gotten distracted and had lost track of time.  Within moments of my crisply-worded call,  I saw him scamper out of the building and toward my illegally parked car as though his life depended on it.

Which it did.

Here's the good part, though.  Seconds after Ken Cannon came scampering out of the building, another man (I didn't recognize him) came scampering out, too.  And he headed straight for the car illegally parked in front of ME being driven by a grumpy middle-aged blonde.

His wife, no doubt.

Clearly all across America, it's Scampering Husbands Day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Things that can happen in a single second

Louise has this fabulous book of writing prompts.  If I can remember to, I'll get the title from her and pass it along to you.  Anyway, one of the prompts goes like this:  "What can happen in a second?"  And here's what I rush wrote (in about five minutes).

1.  You can decide to switch lanes on the freeway and run into that car in your blindspot.

2.  You can see how much you weigh when you step on a scale.  Sad face!

3.  You can taste salted caramel gelato.

4.  You can see Donald Trump's face on the TV screen and go WTF?

5.  You can call your dog's name.

6.  You can notice that your dog chewed up the sock you knit on the way home from Texas.

7.  You can hear church bells ring outside of Louise's apartment.

8.  You can catch the scent of someone's perfume.  "Light Blue" by Dolce and Gabbana, just like Kelly used to wear.

9.  You can strike a match.

10.  You can forget the thought that was on the tip of your tongue.

Feel free to add a list of your own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to make a fool of yourself in a public bathroom in 25 easy steps

1.  Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom.
2.  If you happen to be eating at Joe Vera's Mexican restaurant in Provo, remind yourself that the door with the "Jose" sign on it is the Men's Room.
3.  It's not short for "Josie," as in "Josie and the Pussycats."
4.  How many times have you made that mistake?
5.  But that's not the point.
6.  You recently did something else stupid in a public bathroom.
7.  You washed your hands.
8.  (That wasn't the stupid part.)
9.  Then you attempted to dry your hands.
10.  You went to the towel dispenser.
11.  You waved your hands beneath the towel dispenser.
12.  Nothing happened.
13.  You waved your hands again.
14.  You said to the woman emerging from a stall that you hate these automatic towel dispensers because they never work.
15.  Then you remember how your brother Jimmy used to tell his kids that if they didn't graduate for high school, they would have to work behind the walls of public bathrooms and flush toilets for people who believed that the toilets were automatically flushing themselves.
17.  Your brother is a lot like your dad, who used to tell you that the toilets in Winnemucca, NV were magic toilets.
18.  He was  good dad, but it must be said he used to lie to his kids about some things.
19.  But that's another story.
20.  So you wave your hands some more.
21.  Nothing happens.
22.  So then you kind of flap your arms and do a little rain dance, except it's actually a paper towel dispenser dance.
23.  That doesn't work.
24.  And then you see the knob on the side and it hits you.
25.  The paper towel dispenser is manual--not automatic.

See how easy it is to make a fool of yourself in bathrooms all over America?  You're welcome!