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.