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.