Saturday, December 29, 2018

What They Don't Tell You

Today is the second anniversary of my dad's death.  Two years ago he slung a bag of golf clubs over his shoulder and slipped away early, early on the morning of December 29, 2016.  If you choose to, listen to Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings today while drinking a Diet Coke (with lemon, natch) in his honor.

Meanwhile, I spent some time last night thinking about our last coherent conversation.  I went into his room where he lay on the bed, his skin waxy white and already winter cold to the touch.  His eyes were closed.  I took his hand and said, "Dad, I just want to thank you for teaching me how . . . "

His eyes popped open, bright and eager.   "To communicate?"

I laughed and said yes.  That.

I have no idea what I really meant to say in that moment, but I am beyond happy to go with "to communicate" because for my money, no one did that better than my father did.

Here's what they don't tell you.  The second year is harder than the first year because by then you know all the ways there are to miss that person you loved so very, very well.

Here's to you, Dad.

Sunday, December 23, 2018


Lisa B. recently asked what my go-to Christmas movies are.  And then she said she doesn't think she can watch IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE this year because it's too, too sad and I said RIGHT?!  So I've been thinking about my reaction--why do I think it's sad.  After all, the ultimate takeaway is pretty positive--a life lived kindly is a rich life, indeed.

I'm a little confused by my reaction, frankly.  But here are my thoughts anyway.

Last year when Ken Cannon wanted to watch the movie, I had a mini-meltdown and said no, no, no because didn't he know that everybody who was in that movie IS PROBABLY DEAD NOW?
I realize this is a bizarre reaction, but I think it had something to do with coming up on the first anniversary of my dad's death, which happened during the Christmas season.  So that reaction is purely personal and doesn't have much to do with the film itself.

But now, at this age, I find the movie itself heartbreaking--precisely because it is so very beautiful.  The sets, the cinematography, the acting, the dialogue.  And whenever I see Donna Reed's young face full of light, I am struck by the precious, sacred fragility of everything. Light. Youth. Beauty, Memory. Life.

Maybe that's it?  I don't know.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

And then you're taken by surprise by the beauty of it all . . .

We went to Ken Cannon's Aunt Lena's funeral yesterday, which moved me in all kinds of ways.  One of the loveliest moments was when her daughter, Cindy, spoke.

Cindy, a child of the 1950s, was born profoundly deaf.  She spent her childhood attending school in Ogden where she learned to both lip read and sign.  And when she graduated she lived with her mother as a daughter and as a best friend.  Her grief yesterday when her family closed the casket was palpable.

When Cindy spoke, she signed.  And an interpreter shared Cindy's talk with us.  After, a group of Cindy's hearing impaired friends who all sat together, "sang."  And when they sang, their hands look like rare and beautiful birds taking flight.  I can't remember when I've seen anything that has stirred me more.

Such tender times these days are.  Such tender times.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

While Swimming Laps This Morning . . .

 . . . I noticed that the lanky lifeguard looked like he was maybe fourteen years old with shaggy brown hair that fell over his eyes.  Also, he was dancing around on the deck to strains of "Tequila," which was playing over the PA system, while also twirling his Baywatch-type lifesaving device like a southern beauty queen twirling her baton.

In other words, he was adorable.

BUT.  Wow.  He didn't exactly inspire confidence.  I wasn't sure if I started to sink to the bottom of the pool that he would even notice.  Also, could a skinny kid like him REALLY drag my old lady butt out of the water?

And then!


And then, actually, nothing happened.  If it had, I could have had an inspiring story to tell about how wrong we are to judge people by their appearances and so forth.  But I didn't drown and I don't have a tale to tell except to say I made it home alive and that there's a kid working at a pool here in Salt Lake who can seriously twirl a Baywatch-type lifesaving device with the best of them.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Welp! (And also why you should tell your stories!)

It happens every year during the holidays when I'm doing more dishes than usual.  The skin around my fingernails starts to split, and while a sore thumb hurts less than, say, delivering a baby, it does hurt.  And also sore thumbs make  me think of my great-grandmother, who apparently was prone to the same condition during the Christmas season.  I know this because my mother always imitates her grandmother saying, "Ooooooo!  Patti Lou!  My thumbs are so sore!"

This great-grandmother used to say other things, too--like, "I'm going to get lined up today," as in "I'm going to get myself organized today."  (She never did.)  Or when something went missing around her home she'd say, "Dirty Marian must have stolen it."  Or if someone crossed the street when she was behind the wheel of her car, she'd say, "Get out of my way, you sonuvabitch."

You know.  Stuff like that.

And here's the thing.  I can practically hear her say those things because of all the stories I've been told.  She's a real and constant presence in my life, looking over my shoulder as I wash the dishes, telling me her thumbs used to hurt, too.

Yup.  Stories matter.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Why Does Everybody Have to Die at Christmastime?

Well, I am certainly feeling all the feelings tonight.

In this past week, we've been to three funerals, including my mother-in-law's a week ago today and a good friend's funeral today.  And then there's the fact that three of my four grandparents died this time of year.  So did my dad.

Mike, whose funeral we attended today, was our age--a child of the 60's and the early 70's and a full-on rock-and-roller.  He used to jam with our son Q.  They also played a few gigs together,  including one at a tombstone cutters' convention.  (Mike and his family own Salt Lake Monument.)  When I visited Mike a few days before he died, his wife, Angela, had the Beatles playing softly in the background.  Not a bad soundtrack.

The last line of his obituary said he was preceded in death by George Harrison and John Lennon.

Well done, Michael Ellerbeck.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Oh. I'm turning into THAT person.

As if having three dogs that I've essentially turned into my children wasn't bad enough . . .

This morning I left the house in my velour tracksuit (the midnight blue one).  When I looked down, I did notice some stain-ish going on--probably dog related.  Anyway, I told myself it wasn't that bad and who the crap cares anyway?  So then I just proceeded on my merry way.

By the time I made it to my car, I was second-guessing my decision to go as myself, i.e. someone who's comfortable wearing velour tracksuits with dog slobber on them in public.  Here were my thoughts.

1.  You should have gone back in the house and cleaned up.
2.  On the other hand, you've never been much of a natural groomer.
3.  Remember that time in Price's Ice Cream Parlor in Provo when your dad took you to get a sundae after watching "Island of the Blue Dolphins" and he took your hand and looked at it and asked you why you wrote stuff in blue ink all over yourself?
4.  Dad was a good personal groomer.
5.  Even when he was elderly he took pride in his personal appearance.
6.  So why didn't you get the damn pride gene?
7.  And you realize, of course, you'll only get sloppier as you age--showing up in public with dried egg yolk on your velour jackets, etc.
9.  You stage an intervention with yourself.
10. STAT.

Goal for 2019:  Give a crap about my appearance.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Questions I Have for Myself Tonight While Watching the Hallmark Channel

1.  Why is that woman who used to be a girl in "Full House" in all of these movies?
2.  Why are the women in these movies always more attractive than the supposedly attractive men?
3.  Why do all these people almost look like someone who's famous?
4.  Why does the light in these movies look like summer light instead of winter light?
5.  Why am I watching the Hallmark Channel instead of the Texans/Titans game on ESPN?
6.  Why don't I ever care about expansion teams like the Texans?
7.  Why am I watching the Hallmark Channel instead of writing an "Ask Ann Cannon" column?
8.  Why did I just eat another chocolate-covered caramel?
9.  Why weren't the four caramels I ate before that one enough?

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Little Things You Miss

I've lived long enough now to have more than a passing acquaintance with the experience of losing loved ones.  My 98 year-old mother-in-law died last week.  Her death, in the words of my friend Sally, was a sad blessing.  A blessing, because the past two years have been hard for her.  Sad, because she's no longer a physical presence in our lives.

We knew her death was coming, of course, but in the end it came faster than we expected once she went on hospice.  Meanwhile, the holidays--which Ruth loved mightily--have arrived.  And I realized yesterday that one of the things I missed most was picking up the phone and wishing her a Happy Thanksgiving.

This is what happens after a person passes.  You spend the next few years discovering all the ways there are to miss her.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In Search of a TV Boyfriend

For starters, let me make it VERY CLEAR that Ken Cannon and I are totally good, okay?  That's not what this post is about.  It's just that I've been thinking about a conversation my walking partners and I recently had at 6:00 in the morning when you feel like you can say any old thing you feel like saying because you're under the cover of darkness #circleoftrust.

Anyway!  One confessed she loves to watch Jeff Glor deliver the news every night.  The other said she clears her calendar for Tucker Carlson.  Okay.  Neither of those guys is my cup of tea.  But yeah.  It's kind of fun to have someone you look forward to seeing regularly on the small screen, right?

I have had TV boyfriends in the past.  Tom Selleck as Magnum P.I. was one.  I also liked Don Johnson as Sonny Crockett on "Miami Vice."  I even had a mild thing for that old British guy who played the original Equalizer.

As you can tell, I was fairly hormonal during the 1980s.

But it's been awhile since I've had a TV crush and I think it's time for me to find a new one.  I thought for a minute that I might enjoy watching the guy who plays the hardass cop on that new series "The Rookie."  So I looked him up online and discovered that he'd been a male model in a past life, and while some of my best friends are male models, I can't take them seriously as TV crushes.  As it turns out, male modeling = dealbreaker for me.

So.  I'm in the market for suggestions.  Please help.

Monday, October 29, 2018

My Bones

This morning when I was out walking the dogs (ugh!) (three of them!) (I thought I learned the lesson about not having three dogs at the same time before, yo!), I caught my wrist up in a tangle of leashes and said to myself, "Watch out for the wrist bone.  It could break."

I have broken my wrist before, so there's that.  But the interesting thing this morning was realizing that I was almost viewing my bones as something apart from me, something to watch out for like a toddler you're babysitting.  Separate entities entirely.  There's me.  And then there are my bones.

I don't think I'm expressing myself very well here.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when I was younger I wouldn't have made such a distinction.  My bones were me.  There was congruence.  I was strong and healthy and game, and so were my bones.  But now?  Hey, I'm still strong and healthy and game.  It's just that my bones (and also my knees) haven't kept up.

I believe this is what they call aging.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

What I Thought I Knew About Jesus When I Was a Little Kid

As I was going through some of TRQ's old files, I found something I must have been given while I was in Primary or Sunday School.  It's a handout with a picture of Jesus.  Underneath there is one sentence with two spaces to fill-in-the-blanks.  Here it is.

The first miracle of Jesus was performed in _________ when Jesus turned the water into ___________.

You'll be please to know I answered "Cana"and "punch."

Punch is in the house, y'all.  Party on.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


People often ask how TRQ is doing and I always say YOU CANNOT KEEP A BOOT-WEARING, BUTT-KICKING WYOMING GIRL DOWN.  Because you can't.

But things have been hard, of course, and the last month has been particularly difficult for her, which is probably why I feel like her grandmother--the former game warden of Sublette County, the terrorizer of men and animals who stood in her way, the doubter of my father's worthiness to marry her granddaughter because he didn't know how to fish, the woman for whom TRQ was named--has been whispering in my ear lately.  Here's what she says:  Look after my granddaughter right now unless you want THIS boot-wearing, butt-kicking Wyoming girl to tan your little hide when I see you again on the other side.

OK, Grandma Pat.  Message received.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Things I Have Done This Summer to Make Myself Feel Better

One of my boys today told me he'd read my blog post about Churchill's little black dog and wanted to know if I was still doing better.  I said to him OKAY, YOU ARE NOW MY FAVORITE SON BECAUSE YOU READ MY BLOG.  (Note to my other four sons:  you'll be my favorites, too, if you tell me you've read my blog.)

But that's not the point.  The point is his question made me think a little about the things I've been doing that have elevated my mood.  Here they are in no particular order.

1.  Gardening
2.  Sitting on the back porch every night, watching the day fade away
3.  Reading
4.  Walking through the cemetery with Ken Cannon and the dogs
5.  Connecting with grandkids
6.  Listening to baseball on the radio
7.  Going to Bees games
8.  Attending a concert or two at Red Butte
9.  Having tea with Lisa B and her girls
10. Traveling with TRQ
11. Eating KFC whenever I feel like it
12. Dude.  I love KFC
13. Strolling through Liberty Park with Gigi
14. Working on a novel I may never finish and encouraging Louise to do the same
15. Walking every morning with Sally, Kathy and Nancy

Monday, July 30, 2018


Unlike most people in my Sunday School class who read their scriptures on their phones, I pack around an actual Bible.  That is if I think about it.  And honestly I just grab whatever one I find lying about because you know how Bibles are.  Always lying about.  Which is why I had Ken Cannon's missionary Bible with me yesterday.

Anyway, it was filled with underlinings and notes in the margins.  Child baptism!  Faith!  Missing scripture!  I saw the handwriting of Ken Cannon's nineteen year-old self, and suddenly I had a vision of him being all earnest in his brown Napoleon Dynamite suit, TAKING THE GOSPEL TO THE WORLD, YO.

That was a lot of years ago.  But I enjoyed thinking about Boy Ken Cannon, and I felt grateful to him for writing in his Bible.  That's the beauty of a physical book.  You can see what people marked up or which pages they folded or how they responded (!!!!!!) to an idea.  It's like having a conversation with a previous reader.  A one-sided conversation, maybe.

But still.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Time's Gift

Ugh.  What a boring title.  Who'd want to read a post about that?!

But whatever.

I went to a wedding shower today for my great-nephew (seriously?  I have one of those old enough to get married?!) where my mother-in-law (who's 98) fondly reminisced about her old home in Lincoln, Nebraska.  My sister-in-law noted that her mother only remembers the good things about life there, and it occurred to me that the passage of time frequently allows us to do that--remember what we loved about a place or a person.

When I think about my childhood in Edgemont, I don't think about the nightmares I was prone to having as a kid.  I don't dwell on the anxiety I frequently felt about my dad's job and whether or not we'd have to move.  I don't remember the way that neighborhood kids made shifting and hurtful alliances with and against one another.  I rarely remember the illness that put me in bed for the better part of a year.

Instead, I think about the way it felt to go screaming down our street on a that green Schwinn bike and running barefoot--fast and hard--through a sunlit summer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Feeling Better Now

Well, it's no secret that I got toppled over by Churchill's Black Dog this spring.  But I've been doing my best to show Black Dog who's alpha.

This afternoon when I looked at my great-grandmother's empty white pitcher sitting on the table in my entry way, I felt a little explosion of joy in my chest when I thought about buying a bouquet of sunflowers and filling that empty white pitcher right up with bright yellow flowers.  I haven't felt that way in months.

Black Dog hasn't exactly won his Canine Good Citizen certificate yet.  But things are definitely looking up.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Oh. I get it. I'M AFRAID!

I've been tinkering around with a manuscript.  And I have the whole morning blocked out to work on it.   This is what I've done so far.

1.  Taken out the garbage
2.  Also the recycling
3.  Also the brown bin where you put grass clippings and stuff
4.  Texted my kids
5.  Texted my kids' wives
6.  Checked out Lisa B's Facebook and noted how adorable the dress she was wearing to her event the other night is
7.  Rearranged the gnomes on my desk
8.  Drunk two Dr Peppers
9.  The ones with unicorns on the cans
11. Called for the cat who is ignoring me
12. Looked for my calendar to remind myself what I have to do today
13. Which I already knew
14. Write!
15. Why am I not writing?

Because I'm scared.  I don't know exactly what to do next.  I'm at that place where I need to move on, leap to the next level, whatever.  But.  Instead I'm letting myself be earthbound.

I'll let you know how it goes.

P.S.  I just looked at some dragonfly earrings on Etsy.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Opposites Attract and Then Drive Each Other Crazy For the Rest of Their Lives

It must be said that Ken Cannon has been the tiniest bit grumpy with me these past few weeks.  And today I figured out why.  The weather!  He's holding me personally responsible for this heat because he knows I like summer.

It's okay.  After all, I totally hold him personally responsible for the cold in January.  Because he is.  Responsible for the cold.  Dude loves WINTER, if you can even believe it.  He's freaking Maria Von Trapp in the winter, singing about doorbells and sleigh bells and snowflakes that stay on his nose and eyelashes.



Thursday, July 12, 2018

My friends, the trees

Last night TRQ asked what I'm reading.

THE OVERSTORY by Richard Powers, I said.

What's it about?  she asked.

It's about trees.  And people.  And trees.


Well okay then, she said.

The thing is that OVERSTORY is a special book.  Really amazing.  But I don't know how to talk about it in a way that would make TRQ (or anyone else) want to read it.  The book has, however, made me remember three tiny tree stories from my youth.  All of these happened when we still lived in Holladay when the Coach worked at Granite High School.

First Tiny Story:  My parents bring my brother home from the hospital.  I am two and I am NOT PLEASED.  I run away and by that I mean I go stand under the crabapple tree in the front yard, hoping people will notice I'm gone and come find me.  No one does.  SAD!

Second Tiny Story:  Someone arranges to have a large tree cut down in our front yard.  I stand at the window, watching this and crying because I have come to think of this tree as a person.

Third Tiny Story:  My grandmother and I are standing near the bank of lilacs that line our driveway.  She tells me trees can talk.  And I believe her.

Yes.  I was a fanciful child.  But sometimes I drive out to Holladay, looking for that old crabapple tree even though our house and our garden and our chicken coop and our orchard are long, long gone.

So yeah.  It's no wonder that I'd like a book about trees and people and trees.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cherry season

If there's a fresh fruit I love as much as a peach, it might be a cherry.

Except I like peaches better.

Except that cherries are practically as good.

ANYWAY.  I bought a bag at a fruit stand last week, and the first thing I wanted to do when I got home was to call up Dad and have this annual conversation with him.

ME:  I'm planning on getting a stomach ache tonight.

DAD:  You bought some cherries, right?

ME:  Yup.

DAD:  I'm also planning on a stomach ache.  Bought myself a bunch, too.  I know they'll make me sick but I can't stop eating them.

ME:  Have you washed them yet?

DAD:  I told your mother I did.  Does that count?

ME:  That's good enough for me.

Not long ago, the therapist I check in with now and then told me to keep a little notebook to jot down those moments when I felt my father's presence in one form or another.  And yes.  When I dug into that handful of sweet shining fruit, I could almost feel Dad smile.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Oh, Jealousy

TRQ adored her grandmother, aka the game warden of Sublette County, Wyoming.  HOWEVER--(and TRQ always said this in a darkly warning voice)--Grandma Pat had one besetting sin.


I never thought I was the jealous type myself, but it turns out that sometimes I am jealous of other writers' successes, even though I try really, really, really hard not to be.  And mostly I'm not now.  But yesterday when I read that a friend has a  new book on the NYT's Bestseller List, I got slammed sideways by an unexpected turbo-charged bolt of envy.  

I felt like gnashing my teeth.  Only I'm not sure exactly what "gnashing" involves and besides, do my teeth need any more abuse than the abuse I've already inflicted upon them over the decades?

Then I thought of this tiny poem I found in a collection of tiny poems by Rupi Kaur sitting on TRQ's kitchen counter the other day.  (Also, may I just say it's sometimes surprising what I find sitting  on TRQ's kitchen counter?)

Here goes--

How do I shake this envy
When I see you doing well
Sister, how do I love myself enough to know
Your accomplishments are not my failures.

You can maybe argue about the quality of the poem itself.  But the sentiment?  Yes, please.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

How to End Up in a Sandbox Not on Purpose

I'll share my secret in just a moment.  But first I want to tell you about our Fourth.  WHICH WAS GREAT.

I'd been complaining all week about how the Fourth of July--which is actually one of my favorite holidays because you don't have to do much to prepare for it--isn't what it used to be.  Why?  Because (among other things) attitudes about fireworks have changed.  When I was a kid, we used to blow up our street.  And when my kids were kids, we used to blow up our street.  We had friends from New York stay with us over the Fourth once and they had to go into therapy after they witnessed a bunch of young males shooting off bottle rockets, and I remember thinking, "I like you, our friends from New York.  But you guys are weenies."

Well.  Times have changed.  We're all New Yorkers now.  At least in this neighborhood.

Anyway, we spent the afternoon in Bountiful with our son and his family there where my 8 year-old granddaughter showed us how she can turn a cartwheel now.  So I told her I used to be excellent at cartwheels.  Hello.  I used to do a tumbling routine to "Here Comes Suzy Snowflake" in rest homes at Christmas time when I was in grade school.  I was a cartwheel-turning savant.  And I figured I still am, even though I have not turned a cartwheel in a rest home for decades now.

I stood up.  Put my arms in the air.  Took a preparatory jump.  Turned myself upside down.  And landed squarely on my butt in a sandbox.  Which taught me this very important lesson:  just because you could do something when you were younger, that doesn't mean you can do it now.  Not everything in this life is like riding a bicycle.

But the good news is that people in Bountiful still believe in fireworks.  So we lit a few in the street to a playlist that included some Otis Redding.  And I went home, sore but grateful for a day that turned out to be better than good.

Monday, July 2, 2018


TRQ called this morning to share her plans for the day, which include (among other things), walking the boys (a poodle and an almost poodle) and otherwise getting "lined up."  This was her grandmother's phrase.  Getting lined up means you're going to do your best to impose order on your worlds.  TRQ and I say this to one another all the time, knowing full well we won't succeed.

But whatever.

The Coach's parents died within 10 days of one another.  And because I was in my 30s and in the thick of living,  I thought that their deaths were a lovely, gentle thing.  They'd been married forever.  They'd had fourteen children.  They'd worked side by side, hauling potatoes and fruit down to the reservation.  How could they manage to be apart, even for 10 days?

So, yes.  Leaving this world within a few breaths of one another made beautiful sense.

But not long ago my brother Jimmy made the comment that he's so glad we have our mother here to call us in the morning and speak of poodles and plans and to anchor us still.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

On the Road Again

A lot of my childhood memories involve the open road.  Being on it.  Going to places with the family because the Coach's work took him places.  I don't always remember the factual details of those travels.  Was I eight?  Or was I ten?  Was it early morning before the sun came up ?  Or was it dark because the day was almost over?  Were we in California?  Or were we in New Mexico?  But what I do remember was the intensity of feeling I had in certain moments.

Like this one.

I'm sitting in a diner booth with my family, checking out a laminated menu.  I look up and out the window and see a long, long stretch of road gleaming in the twilight, and suddenly, because I'm in an unfamiliar place deciding what I want to eat, I feel homesick.  Isolated.  Disconnected from my real life back in Provo where I have a dog and friends and my own room.  The road outside feels oddly menacing--something designed to bring into my life a whole big world that might change what I think I know.

The feeling passed.  But sometimes when I'm on the road now, the memory of that moment travels with me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Getting All Zen. But not too Zen.

To deal with my occasional bouts of depression and anxiety I took a mindfulness course a few years ago.  I loved the instructor and I picked up on some useful practices, such as meditation, although I am not a good meditator, because I have an attention span of . . .


. . . a dog.  And not a smart type of dog like a border collie either.

Anyway.  When I am feeling particularly anxious, I do some meditating, reminding myself that I am the mountain and everything else is just the weather and so forth.  It's helpful.  But occasionally this thought occurs to me:  if I get REALLY good at this--if I turn all Zen on myself--I might not be able to write funny anymore.

Not saying I'm that funny, but you know what I mean.

Here's the deal.  Humor grows out of some kind of emotional pain.  Or if not exactly pain, then certainly discomfort.  You know.  Like embarrassment.  Which is why you end up writing columns about the summer your family's eyeballs turned yellow because you all had the hepatitis and people fled when they saw you approach.  Not that you did much approaching of other people that summer because you were in bed feeling like you wanted to die and also your liver was hurting and also you could smell stale beer wafting through your open bedroom window that someone had poured in the middle of the street the night before.  Because that's how hepatitis works.  It turns your sense of scent into your super power.  SUCH A STUPID SUPER POWER IF YOU'RE A HUMAN!

Anyway.  It's useful sometimes to remember what E.B. White once said.  Turning pain into humor pays off in the end.  Or maybe he didn't say exactly that.

But he should have.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sometimes a Complete Stranger Changes (Sort of) Your Life

Once upon a time a long, long time ago when I was on a road trip with our kids who were mere babies, I met an older woman bobbing around in a motel swimming pool with her grandchildren.  Also bobbing around was the blonde, good-looking mother of said grandchildren.  She and the grandmother treated one another affectionately so I assumed they were mother and daughter.

But wait!  They weren't!

In fact, they were ex's.  Ex-DIL.  Ex-MIL.

"You know," the grandmother said to me, "when my son and his wife divorced, I decided to stay on good terms with her so we could all enjoy the children together."

Or something to that effect.  I didn't have a tape recorder in the swimming pool with me that day.  But I've never forgotten the sight of her with grandchildren draped around her sun-browned neck.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sometimes your childhood BFF's mom turns 90

And then you drive down to Provo with Gigi Ballif and attend a tea party in her mother's honor.  Which we did today.

It's always interesting to revisit the places and people you knew when you were a kid.  Ruth is a woman I admire endlessly.  She's intelligent, forthright, and practical with a social conscience--like a certain kind of Yankee woman, although she actually grew up on Long Island.  (Gigi told me stories about New York when we were kids and how there were these magic places there called "automats" where you just got your food out of machines.  The East!  So advanced!  Probably the food was even made by robots just like in The Jetsons!)

I will say, however, when I was a kid I was a little bit afraid of Ruth, even though she always made us Danish pancakes for breakfast when I slept over at Gigi's house.  I was trying to figure out today exactly why I was afraid,  and  then I realized then I was afraid of everybody's mother in those days. That was me.  A MOTHER-FEARING WEENIE.

Anyway.  I've been wondering if I ever scared anybody.  I doubt it.

But I hope I did.  At least a little bit.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

I'll Tell You What . . .

. . . is something the Coach always said.  It's something Johnny Cash always said in his live recordings, too, but that's not the point.

The point is that TKE has published a collection of my Tribune columns and the book is called I'll Tell You What . . . in honor of my dad.  We're doing a launch tonight at the bookstore, and I am looking forward to it because you never know.  This might be the last time I'll publish a book.  So I plan to put on my party hat and enjoy every last minute of the evening.

(The party hat, of course, is figurative.  But if it weren't, I'd go with that yellow headgear Amal Clooney wore to the Royal Wedding.)

That's the thing about being this age.  I don't take much for granted now.  My mobility.  A gorgeous morning.  Birds gossiping in the alley trees behind our house.  That watermelon-colored poppy that blooms spring after spring in my neighbor's yard.  A good night's sleep.



I'll tell you what.  I'm lucky.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From D.C. to S.L.C, yo

So Son #4 and I just drove ourselves and a lot of boxes (also, plenty of random clothing tossed in the backseat in a last minute act of moving desperation) across the country.  By the time we hit Wyoming, I was exhausted and also tired of eating lots of potato chips, which may explain the bittersweet melancholy that settled on me as we drove that long last stretch of I-80.

My mom grew up in Wyoming, and when we were young, we went there and hung out in my grandpa's garage where the locals gathered to gossip and buy me and my younger brother bottles of Squirt.  So I thought about my grandparents and the people they knew who all fished those glittering rivers together, and then I started thinking about my life and how many things have changed--how many things will still change.  Which caused me to shed a tear or two when Son #4 wasn't looking.

Would I like for Time to stop?  No.  Because then I would never have had the pleasure of knowing family and friends and even myself in different stages of our (New Age Word Alert!) journeys.

Still.  I wouldn't mind sitting one more time on the edge of the conversations I used to hear my grandparents and parents having when we visited them in the summer as the long green grasses grew.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Memorial Day

I don't know exactly when Memorial Day became a holiday I own for myself, but it did.  I'm sure the fact that I watched my parents and grandparents decorate family graves with coffee cans (wrapped in tin foil) (also, where did all those coffee cans come from) full of snowball blossoms, peonies, and irises trained me up in the way I should go.

Anyway.  I spent time in Provo today, visiting East Lawn Memorial Cemetery where some of the people I loved best in this life are buried.  Dad.  Skinny and Louise.  Kenneth.  Becky.  While I was there I remembered something my granddaughter said when she was about four after her parents took her to the cemetery on Memorial Day.

"Hey!  Remember that garden we went to with the dead people?"

Yup.  Her parents are training her up in the way she should go, too.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Tink and Zora: a Tale (Tail?) of Two Newfs

So we've had two Newfs now.  There've certainly been similarities--lolling tongues, splendid natures, drool.  SO. MUCH. DROOL.

But in many ways they're very different dogs.  Zora was all "please just let me lie in the middle of this floor and pass myself off as a rug all day long."  Tink, on the other hand, is Tigger.  Which, when you think about it, a dog that weighs 130 pounds going all Tigger on you is pretty scary.

Anyway, the only way we could get Zora to move at times was to show her the vacuum cleaner.  She was terrified of it.  We didn't even have to turn it on.  As soon as I'd drag it into view, she'd shimmy her way up onto her thick brown legs and scram.  If you can call "lumbering," which is what she did, "scramming."  Tink, who fears nothing, has always had the opposite reaction.  Vacuum cleaner?  Whatever.  I could eat that old thing for a snack if I felt like it!

But then one day when I was vacuuming I got just a little too close to Tink and accidentally sucked her tail up.  SAD!  Ever since then she's kept a respectful distance between me and the sucking machine.

So there it is.  Another similarity after all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Coach's Creed

First thing this morning my brother Jimmy sent me and my other brother (not Darryl) John a paragraph from a talk our father gave at a BYU Devotional the year after he retired.  It moved me because I saw him in these words.  I share it with you here.

"A friend shared with me this anonymous but profound creed that says it well.  I quote:

Remember to be gentle with yourself and others.  We are all children of chance, and none can say why some fields blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun.  Care for those around you.  Look past your differences.  Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices in life no more easily made.  And give.  Give in any way you can, of whatever you possess.  To give is to love.  To withhold is to wither.  Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared, and your life will having meaning and your heart will have peace."

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Yanny vs. Laurel

Like Americans everywhere my family did the Yanny/Laurel thing today.  Some of us heard Yanny (including me).  Some of us heard Laurel (including not me).  So then some of us got scientific and explained via a family text thread that people who hear at a high frequency hear "Yanny."

"Oh," I said.  "I'm glad I hear at a higher frequency.  You know.  Like a dog."

Which got me thinking about all the ways that I'm like a dog.  To wit:

1.  I'm not picky when it comes to food choices.

2.  "Smell" is my most highly developed sense.

3.  I like to hang my head out the window when I drive a car.

4.  Sometimes I sit on Ken Cannon's lap.

I rest my case.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Big Life Questions I Am Having at 10:00 P.M.

1.  If somebody would deliver a hamburger to me right now--like, literally bring it to me in my bed--where would I want it to be from?  Crown Burger or In-N-Out?

2.  Why don't I care about this Royal Wedding AT ALL when I certainly cared about Charles and Diana and sort of cared about Kate and Wills?

3.  Why is NCIS Los Angeles still on TV?

4.  Why does L.L. Cool J look exactly the same after all these years?

5.  Also, is L.L. Cool J still a Republican?  Because I think he used to be.

6.  Why did I decide having three dogs was a good idea?

7.  If my Marco Polo app says someone is talking to me, does that mean they're really talking to me?  Or is someone just making a video and Marco Polo wants to trick me into thinking real people are talking to me?

8.  Why isn't there any Dr Pepper in the Smith's Express down the street from me?  I've been there three days in a row now and no one has restocked the cooler OR the shelves.

9.  When did I decide to start buying gnomes and putting them on my front porch like a crazy old cat lady?  Am I actually a crazy old cat lady?

10.  Why are there so many steamy TV shows set in hospitals?  Seriously, the LAST PLACE on earth I'd want to start full-on kissing a guy would be in a hospital.

Monday, May 14, 2018

And then I hear . . .

I woke up to the news that my editor Anna Cekola at the Salt Lake Tribune has been laid off, along with over thirty other staffers.  I've felt heartsick for everyone involved, as well as worried, frankly, about the future of responsible, carefully curated journalism.  Where is this all going?

(For the record, I do want to add that the remaining staff at the paper are true professionals who will give it their all to keep the Trib viable.)

So.  Anyway.  I've been sitting on my back porch, thinking about how completely crappy the world is and then just now I hear my neighbor Kathy in the next yard over playing with her three year-old grandson.  He laughs.  She laughs.  She laughs some more.  Delighted.

Thank you, Kathy.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Wow! I Just Walked Through My Childhood!

I'm sitting here at the airport in Raleigh, N.C., waiting to fly home after spending the past week helping Son #3 relocate to Greensboro where he'll be working in the school's athletic department.  We met his boss, Jody, who walked us through through the field house there and HOLY COW!  Suddenly I was little Ann Edwards, looking over the railing of the second floor Smith field house on BYU's campus.  It was all so familiar.  The photos!  The trophies!  The office spaces!  The views of a practice field!  The gyms and the weight rooms!


Oh, yes.  The aroma.  A heady mix of equipment and the scent of recent workouts.

Thanks for the memories, NCG!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Adult Parents + Adult Children + Technology = Tense Moments

I've been spending some time with Son #3 who went into cardiac arrest when he looked at my iPhone.

"Mom," he said, "you have 6470 unread emails."

"I do?"

"Yes.  See?"


"Doesn't that drive you crazy?"

"Not that I've noticed."

Anyway.  Later that day, this son spirited my phone away and started messing around with it.

"What are you doing?"  I asked.

"Simplifying your life."

I felt a distinct sinking feeling in my gut.  Whenever my kids try to "simplify" my life on the technological front, things always go south.  My Tech Life may be a hot mess, but at least I know how to navigate it.

Anyway.  He eventually handed back my phone and SURE ENOUGH it was useless unto me.  So I made him change everything back.  Which means I have 6470 unread emails.

Oh.  Excuse me.  6471 unread emails.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Hair Stuff

I had a surprising conversation with TRQ over lunch the other day.  She looked at me and said, "I like your hair."

Basically, TRQ, who is the Queen of Hair and used to give home perms to the entire neighborhood when I was growing up, has often not been onboard with my personal hair choices.  And she has especially been displeased with my decision to go gray because the women in our family do not go gray.  Going gray means you have given up on life.  Going gray means you might as well put on a housecoat and some slippers and sit in front of a TV with a bunch of cats in your lap for the rest of your life.

But wow.  She looked at me and said, "I like your hair."

Then she took a  dainty bite of her fried calamari as if nothing earth-shattering had just happened.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Because Lilacs!

As some of you know, I struggle during the winter months.  But I'll tell what makes those months totally, totally worth it.


Frothy, frilly, fragrant lilacs that are gone before you know it, so it is imperative that you STOP YOUR LIFE and stand by a bush and inhale everything about them while they last.

Lilacs need cold weather to grow.  And when I learned this, I vowed to always live where the lilacs bloom.  You know.  In the dooryard.  Or whatever.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Old Movies

Last night at work, one of the teenagers who helps us set up for events said that When Harry Met Sally is her favorite movie.  Then she sighed happily and said, "I just LOVE old movies."  And I was all, "Wait.  When Harry Met Sally is an old movie?!"  I feel like I just saw it in the theater with Ken Cannon and a big old tub of buttered popcorn for company.

Meanwhile, this young woman went on to talk about Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal the way I used to talk about Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  And suddenly I had that moment (again) where I realized how relative time and age are.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

And We Called Him Mary Alice

I walked past the Lion House yesterday and remembered the birthday party I threw there for myself three years ago.  You know.  The one for little girls where they teach you how to play "Button, Button" and pull taffy while wearing a pioneer bonnet.  I never got that party when I was a kid, so I called and asked if I could have it as an adult.

LION HOUSE HOSTESS:  The one where you pull taffy while wearing a pioneer bonnet?

ME:  Yes.  That's the one.

So although the people at the Lion House thought I was super weird, etc. they said okay and I invited my daughters-in-law and the friends I walk with in the morning and TRQ, who asked if she could bring her friend Mary Alice to the party.  Of course, I said!  The more Mary Alice the merrier!

But Mary Alice decided not to go at the last minute, so TRQ brought up my dad instead.

"This is a girl party," I told him.

So he put on a bonnet and we called him Mary Alice all night long. Also, he pulled taffy.

What a guy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Daunting Dining and an Anniversary

I am not a food and/or restaurant snob.  I want to establish this fact right upfront.

Is this fact established?

It is?  Good!  Then I'll proceed.

A few weeks ago I was given a gift card to The Cheesecake Factory for a presentation I did, so Ken Cannon and I decided to meet for lunch at the City Creek location on our anniversary last week.  Which we did.  We stole away in the middle of the day to the Cheesecake Factory like a couple of crazy teenagers in love.  Except with really bad knees.  You know.  Like the knees old people who've been married for over 40 years have.

Anyway.  I've eaten at TCF before, but not when I've been borderline depressed like I am right now.  When we arrived I was suddenly overwhelmed by the HUGENESS of it all.  The Cheesecake Factory is like the Caesar Palace of chain restaurants (I may have stolen this comparison from Lisa B, so if I did, thanks for that, Lisa B!).  High ceilings!  Columns!  Crowds of people ready to cheer on their favorite gladiator while eating some Roadside Sliders!  Also, the menu is longer than my graduate thesis on the short stories of Katherine Anne Porter was--I have spent a lifetime underwriting everything, yo--so it takes a lot of determination to plow through your dining options at TCF.

In the end Ken Cannon ordered a hamburger and I ate half of it because I couldn't decide what to get for myself, which is also a function of being borderline depressed (don't worry--I always get better).  I did enjoy the red velvet cheesecake A LOT, however, although red velvet anything is often disappointing.

So there it is.  What we did for our anniversary.  Meanwhile, I think I'll check out restaurants that cater to borderline depressed people for now.  Suggestions appreciated!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Things that Feed Me

When I had breakfast with Erynn last week, she inspired me to generate a list of the things that feed my soul.  Here goes.

* Walking and finding other people's gardens in bloom
*  Writing
*  Writing poems that no one else will read
*  Feeling a grandchild lean into me
* Listening to music
*  Sitting on the front porch and watching the moon rise while enjoying night fragrances--white petunias, white nicotiana, the white blossoms on my crabapple tree
*  Sitting on the porch swing with my cat Enzo
*  Hearing a cat purr
*  Stretching out like a cat in the sun
*  Walking the dogs through the cemetery
*  Running barefoot
*  Knitting a baby blanket
*  Walking with friends before the sun comes up
*  Listening to the sounds of a baseball game
*  Sitting in the ballpark on a summer's evening and watching the mountains to the southeast turn blue
*  Enjoying the sounds of a summer night--crickets, sprinklers, a motorcycle in the distance somewhere
*  Going on drives with Ken Cannon
*  Roaming through local nurseries
*  Cracking open a cold can of Dr Pepper

I could keep going but I need some Dr Pepper now.  What feeds you?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Oh, Grief: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

My dad worked as an assistant coach with a man named Chris Apostle, who also happened to be our neighbor when we lived in Edgemont.  Chris was a sleepy-eyed Greek with a sharp wit who could have easily passed for a member of the Rat Pack because he had that kind of cool daddy-o vibe.  He and my dad shared an office and often took recruiting trips together in our little green VW and probably shared a room at the first Motel 6 they could find.  Such was the life of an assistant football coach back in the non-heady days of the 1960s.

Anyway, Chris died in 2003, and when I went to his viewing where he was surrounded by BYU memorabilia, I had the eerie sense that I was looking at my own father's future.  At my future, too.  And I walked away shaken, wondering how I would bear it.

Well, now I know.

I am finding this second spring without my father's large laughing comforting presence to be harder than that first spring when I was still numb.

I brought this up with my lovely friend Jen who lost her mother a year before Dad died.  She sent this to me in an email, and because her words about a church talk given by a Japanese man who speaks English as a second language touched me so very much, I'm sharing them here.

And then this man spoke about the experience of losing his mother.  And he is a scientist by training, and obviously very brilliant, and he was trying to work through some kind of "empirical truth" through gospel experiences to find some way to know for a fact that he would see his mom again some day.  He wanted assurance from the Lord that was irrefutable.  He wanted to know 100% in his heart.  And his talk was about that.

And he said two incredibly beautiful things--even more beautiful because English was not his first language so he structured the phrases in interesting ways.  The first thing he said was that he came to the conclusion that to the Lord, it is much more important for us to have faith, and it is much more important to have hope, than for us to KNOW.  And then the thing he said that I loved the most was:  "The pain of losing my mother never goes away.  But I have learned to carry it more safely."

Carry it more safely.  How beautiful.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Really? Still? After All These Years?

Okay, I'll admit it right upfront.  I'm not organized.  Especially when it comes to paper stuff, I AM NOT ORGANIZED.  This always made for tense moments when I was supposed to produce my children's immunization records for whatever reasons.  But they're grownups now, so I'm home free.  Right?

Well.  Take a look at this text exchange I had last week with my oldest son, who's closer to 40 than he is to 30.

SON:  Do you by chance have any of my immunization records?  I need them for my graduate school.

ME:  Ugh!  I don't know!  I'll take a look when I get home.

SON:  Thanks!

ME:  I was horrible about keeping records.  Loser Mom!  Call the SLC school district and see if they have them on file anywhere.  Tell them you need them because your house burned down and your parents are dead.

And that's how you deal with graduate schools that want your children's immunization records.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Riding Shotgun

I've been surprised by how much I've been missing the Coach the past few months.  In some ways the second year has been harder than the first.  By the time you hit the second year, you better understand all the ways there are to miss someone you love.


Yesterday, I listened to a Johnny Cash CD (Yes!  I know.  I still listen to "CDs."  And my third son just called to ask if I know how to download an "app" or if I need TRQ to help me with that) as I drove around town, running errands.  As soon as I returned home I wanted to call the Coach and tell him how much I'd enjoyed listening to the Man in Black, but yeah.  I couldn't.

It did occur to me, though, that my dad might have been riding shotgun with me all along.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#9 Choose hope, yo

So once when I was driving south on I-15 CRYING LIKE A BABY because I was stressing about one of our boys (gah! they don't tell you that you never stop being a parent when they first put those cute little babies in your arms!) I noticed a big old fat rainbow looming over the mountains to the east.

And suddenly I remembered the old Noah story about how the rainbow was God's promise to Noah that he (Noah) would never have to float around the world with a bunch of smelly animals in a boat again.

Okay.  Whether you believe the Noah story is literally true or not isn't the point.  The point is that the rainbow is a symbol of hope--hope in the future, hope that goodness will prevail, hope that you won't have to share your bedroom with camels.  And when I saw that big old fat rainbow looming over the mountains to the east, this thought flashed through my head:  Hey.  Why don't you try a little hope for a change?

Which reminds me of a letter written at Christmas time to a friend by a 16th-century Catholic father named Fra Giovanni:

I salute you!  There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.  No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.  Take Heaven.  No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.  Take peace.  The gloom of the world is but a shadow;  behind it, yet our reach, is joy.  Take joy.

Take joy.  Take hope.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Tip #8: A Useful Reminder

When I get depressed I start searching for ways to feel better (obv!), but sometimes that becomes its own kind of pressure.  Oddly, sometimes by just acknowledging the pain you're feeling, you lessen (a little) its grip.  I'm reminded of this when I do the five minute self-compassion break on this website recommended by a good friend of mine who's also a wise and very experienced therapist.

The takeaway?  Suffering is, in fact, a part of life.  Acknowledge it and then treat yourself in that moment of acknowledgement with the kindness you would extend to a dear one.  I find that when I offer myself kindness, I can be kinder to the people around me.

OKAY.  I think tomorrow will be the final tip thing because now I'm just ready to write random crap about life.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Grandparents are the gift that keeps on giving

I was lucky enough to know each of my grandparents, who all lived into their 90s with the exception of my Grandma Covey who died when she was 87.  Addie, my dad's mom, had a million grandchildren, but she made an effort to reach out to us individually by sending pretty little cards with crisp dollar bills for our birthdays.  Louise, my mom's mom, only had three grandchildren, which she gleefully spoiled.  Meanwhile, the grandpas, Philo and Irwin (known as "Skinny" to all of his friends) smiled their approval at us.

The point is, I always felt loved by all four of them, even if Philo sometimes got mixed up and called me "Rhonda."

But here's the thing.  Even though they've been gone for many years now, I feel like my grandparents are still an important presence in my life.  Why?  Because they faced hard things.  Disappointing things.  Sad things.  Tragic things.  And somehow they endured.

I think of them often these days as I attempt to negotiate certain challenges.  I'll tell myself stuff like, "Well, if Addie could deal with (fill in the blank) or (fill in another blank) or (YUP!  IT'S ANOTHER BLANK TO FILL IN), then I can, too."

I can, too.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Tip #7: Seriously, just go ahead and put on your damn earrings

That sounds kind of in-your-face.  Sorry.  I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to me.  I look at myself in the mirror and have the following conversation when I'm depressed.

ME:  Ugh.  I want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head and sleep until the Fourth of July.

ME:  Right.  That'll solve everything, won't it.

ME:  I'm too blue to even wash my face.  Faces are so stupid.  Why did God invent something that you had to wash every day anyway?

ME:  Look.  You'll feel better if you wash your face.  You'll feel better if you do some of the things you always do.  Even if they're little things.  You know.  Like putting on your earrings.

ME:  Ugh.  Why were earrings even invented?  Why were ears even invented?  Earrings and ears are so stupid.

ME:  You campaigned hard for those earrings, starting in the sixth grade, although TRQ made you wait until you were fourteen to get your ears pierced.  And then she went out and got her ears pierced the next day.  But that's not the point.  The point is that putting on your earrings reminds you of what it feels like to be you when you're not depressed.

ME:  Whatever.

ME:  Seriously, just go ahead and put on your damn earrings.  NOW!

It doesn't have to be earrings, obv.  Lipstick counts.  A bow tie.  A trademark pair of shoes.  Any little thing that says hey!  This is me on a good day!

And the good days will be here again!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Okay, a couple more tips today

TIP #4:  Pull back from the things you can!  Okay, we all have busy lives.  But the truth is that we often fill up our dance cards with things that can be deferred.  Or even eliminated.  Sitting out a dance or two while you're getting better won't hurt.  Unless, of course, Prince is performing "1999."  Then you really should get up and dance.

Meanwhile, the next tip is like unto that last tip.

TIP #5:  Don't isolate yourself but do feel free to cut back on social engagements for awhile.  One of the things that happens to me when I get depressed is that my social energy plummets.  Being with other people is exhausting, which is one of the reasons why depressed people want to isolate themselves.  There are other issues at play, too--like that fear that you'll disappoint others and drive them away forever because you ARE NO FUN AT ALL AND YOU PROBABLY NEVER EVER WERE IN THE FIRST PLACE AND THINGS WILL NEVER BE GOOD AGAIN.

But whatever.

Just remind yourself that right now you have limited energy and you maybe oughta give some thought to where the energy you do have should go.  Then remind yourself this is only a temporary state of affairs.

Speaking of which . . .

Tip #6:  Learn to love the bomb.  Stephen Colbert has talked about the importance of "loving the bomb," i.e. embracing a failure as a way of getting through it and past the fear of failing that dogs us all.  My version of loving the bomb is to embrace the illness--or at least embrace what it teaches me.  I mean, why not put all that misery to good use?

So what have my episodes of depression taught me?  First and foremost, I've learned that I am resilient.  I know how to get back in the saddle again.  Which I would totally do if only I had a horse.

Awesome, right?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg and (now that I think about it) TIP #3

I didn't spend a lot of time yesterday watching Mark Zuckerberg testify in his big boy clothes about technology to old people, but I saw enough to remind me of . . .

TIP #3:  LIMIT YOUR TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!  Or at least that's a good call for me.

Hey.  I've been around long enough to know that stuff on social media is curated at some level.  Still, when I'm feeling like UGH! everything I see on Facebook or Instagram makes me feel like a loser who buys herself stretchy pants at Rite-Aid for $15.00.

Which I do.

But whatever.

Meanwhile, it's a beautiful day here in Salt Lake.  I'm off to sit in some sunshine now!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

We interrupt this lecture on mental health to bring you the following update . . .

So last night I drove out to Woods Cross to watch my three year-old grandson play in his first tee ball game.

I know.  Three!  He'll be four next week, though, so he's practically a teenager now.  And it must be said he's so excited that he literally has not taken off his uniform for the past five days.  Not even his new cleats.  Not even when he goes to bed.

Anyway, I figured he would be the youngest kid out on the field, but no.  It was a diaper derby with lots of happy dads telling their kids which way to run.  I practically died from happiness watching all of this because CUTE.  Also, because I remembered being there myself as a parent not so long ago.

The difference, though, is the level of engagement.  Back in the day I really CARED how my kids played.  And, seriously, I was pretty much that parent you could hate because I harassed umpires and made many inappropriate comments and basically behaved like a lady jackass whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Bottom line.  I was never classy.

Last night, however, as I looked at the parents and the players, I realized how young I was then--and how watching my grandkid play will be a different experience.  Which is fine.  I'm glad I'm here to have it.

And, actually, that does bring me to Tip #2:  Watch baseball.

Ever since Gigi's dad paid me a dollar per game to scorekeep for our local little league--George was the president--I have followed baseball.  It's the perfect summer sport.  Relaxed and unrushed, it's all the things you want summer to be (even when it isn't).    But during my last major depressive episode, which hit at the height of summer, baseball turned out to be the only thing I could listen to or watch.  Why?  I'm not sure.  Maybe because of the sport's connection to my childhood.  Or maybe because a person doesn't need to pay close attention to know what's happening.  Or maybe because of baseball's sweet, unhurried rhythm.

Whatever the reason, I found myself turning on a game whenever I was at home--even if teams I ordinarily don't care about were involved.  (I'm looking at you, Tampa Bay.)  (No offense.)

Baseball turned out to be a constant and steadying presence during a time when I felt anything but constant and steady.

Thanks for that, Baseball.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Tips for pulling off a nervous breakdown so no one will notice and your life will still be there waiting for you when you feel better

Yeah, I know.  Nerves don't literally break down.  I learned that in my junior high health class (thanks, Mrs. Roberts!), although as a veteran of periodic major depressive episodes, I think the phrase hits as close to the mark as any other description out there, so I feel ok using it.

Anyway, I feel like I'm standing on the edge of the rabbit hole again--haven't gone down it yet, so yay!--but I've decided to remind myself of some of the strategies I've compiled over the years that help me manage myself.  I've also decided to share them here in case they're useful for you or someone you love.  And please.  Not everything works for everybody.  When I first rattled off this list to my friend Louise, she plunked her head down on the table where we were writing and said, "Gah.  This list depresses me even more.  THANKS A LOT, ANN."  And then she didn't move from the table for a couple of weeks.

So there's that.  Still.  It's a good list for me.  And I'll be sharing a few ideas here during this upcoming week.

1.  Read non-fiction.   I know.  This sounds totally random, so let me explain.  We read fiction because we want a) characters who have b) problems that aren't c) easily solved.  And the more problems they have, the more engaging the narrative.  But when I'm REALLY depressed, I don't characters with problems in my life.  So if I can read at all--I have a hard time with both concentration and retention when depression sits in--I read non-fiction.  NOT THAT HISTORICAL PEOPLE DIDN'T HAVE PROBLEMS.  The Romanovs down in that cellar with the bolsheviks, for example, come to mind.  But there's a certain distance in non-fiction's narrative style which I find soothing.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Friday Thoughts on Tulips and Natural Habitats

So walking is my current anti-depressant drug of choice these days, which is why I've spent more time than usual out and about in my neighborhood.

Today as I was walking to 7-11 in the rain to buy a can of Campbell's tomato soup (which is kind of a depressing sentence, actually), I noticed a bed of tulips and was struck by how saturated their colors were.  So vivid!  So glistening!  So pink and yellow pearly!

It hit me that while these tulips might also be lovely with the sun shining on their throats, they're far more beautiful in the rain.  Why?  Because they were invented in the Netherlands, a country that experiences over 700 days of rain a year.  The Netherlands is an overachiever that way.  Tulips love rainy days.  Let the drops fly and they're all about showing off their sturdy fancy selves.

Me, I don't much like the rain.  But today I'm giving the rain high fives for making my little walk just that much more satisfying.

Thank you, Rain!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Dogs and Lessons Not Learned

We have three dogs now, including a 120-pound Newfie that makes the ground shake when she busts out her running shoes and takes off after a squirrel.

Living with three dogs causes Ken Cannon and me to have the following conversation on a regular basis:

ME:  Didn't we have three dogs that one time before?

KC:  Yes.

ME:  Didn't we say we'd never do that again?

KC:  Yes.

ME:  So why did we do that again?

KC:  Because we're a halfway house for other people's dogs.  And also because we apparently never learn our lessons.

ME:  Well, this time we've learned our lesson FOR REAL.  After these three cross the rainbow bridge, it's only one dog for us.  And possibly a cat.  But only one cat.

KC:  Of course.

ME:  Except, you know, dogs are social beings.  So maybe we'll have two . . .

And so it goes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

On blogging in a post-blogging era

I started this blog years ago at the suggestion of my great friend Lisa Bickmore.  And, lo, it has served me well as a place to capture the moment--bits of ideas and experiences and memories that I often later turned into full-blown columns.

Well, things changed.  How, you ask?  Let me list a few of the ways.

1.  Blogging seems to be less relevant or popular or whatever.  People have moved over to Instagram or Twitter or Facebook.

2.  I started losing interest in blogging myself.  I was all been there, done that.

3.  Besides, I still had my column in the Trib.

Long story short, I more or less abandoned the blog.

And then around Christmas I got the news that the Trib would be eliminating my column.

I wasn't surprised by the news.  Papers everywhere are trying to figure out their next move and the feeling downtown was that the column wasn't pulling its own weight.  That happens--many columns have limited life spans--and I accepted the news reasonably well, especially since I still have the advice column, which is a joy to write.

What I didn't expect was how much I miss writing that column.  I've done a version of it for almost 35 years--first at Parent Express, then at The Deseret News, and finally at The Trib.  The column allowed me to record a variety of life experiences while I was in the middle of them.  What a great gig!  And I'm so grateful to all those readers and editors who gave me that opportunity.

I tinkered with the idea of publishing in other arenas--and maybe I can still do that.  But it occurred to me that my blog was still here, just waiting for me to throw something random at it a few times each week.

So here I am.  Still.

Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, April 2, 2018


I'm 62 years old now and the thing about being 62 is that you're more aware of your ghosts than you were when you were younger.

Here's what I mean.

We just got back from a lovely weekend in St. George where (among other things) I listened to the sounds of boys playing basketball across the street.  And for a split second I thought they were MY boys, ballin' like Stalin with their dad and also my dad who always played with his elbows UP.

("I hate playing basketball against your dad," a kid in our ward told me when we were growing up.  "He steps on my toes whenever I go up for a shot.")

It took me a minute to remember that oh yeah.  Those boys showboating out there on the basketball court?  They belong to other mothers.  My boys and I, we're all living another life now.  Still, I'm grateful for the ghosts who sometimes show up and remind me of who we used to be.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Little Red Riding Rodeo Queen Hood


My Mother, the Rodeo Queen, has always been this long-legged cowgirl from the hinterlands of Wyoming who could out-eat fifty football players at the evening training table and still stay reed slim.

I, on the other hand, am naturally built like a football player at the evening training table, albeit a super short one.  That's me.  A miniature football player.   And also a miniature football player  who totally sucks at throwing.  But whatever.  The point is I've always had to watch my weight and yes.  I've spent many years watching my weight go up.

Now, even though she's in her 80's, TRQ still eats like a champ, something I remembered Friday morning when we went out for breakfast together.  When I looked in her car, I noticed she had her basket of goodies in the front seat with her.  Crackers.  Toffee.  Licorice.  Perhaps an apple or two although I'm not sure I saw any fruit this time and, truly, the fruit is mostly for show.

Why the basket?  You know.  To keep her strength up as she journeys from Provo to Salt Lake and back again.

Seeing that basket made all kinds of happiness bubble up inside of me.  I love my big alive TRQ.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The more things stay the same the more they change

Or whatever it is that the French say because you know how the French are.  Also saying quotable things.

So on this recent trip I became acutely aware of how things have changed.  Same island.  But wow.  Different life for sure.

When I was sixteen I was a tourist, thrilled by the sight of palm trees.  I ate Chinese food three times because apparently Chinese food hadn't been invented in Provo yet.

When I was seventeen and eighteen I was a granddaughter, visiting my Mormon missionary grandparents who lived on the sleepy side of the island.

When I was twenty-one, I was recovering from a major depressive episode.  I sat on the beach for three weeks and let Hawaii heal me.  Also, that was the time one of Dad's former players--a Honolulu cop--drove us to the airport with his squad car lights flashing, which allowed him to run red lights at will.  Awesome.

When I was forty-seven I watched my five boys play at being tourists.  They also ate a lot of Chinese food.

And when I was sixty-one I sat on the veranda with my mother, drinking virgin pina coladas and playing cards like we were two maiden aunts in an Agatha Christie novel.

Life in stages, don't you know.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Oahu Memories

So TRQ and I have been in Honolulu because the Coach is being honored at the Polynesian Hall of Fame banquet.  This has given us an opportunity to remember all things Hawaiian.

You know.  Like that time we were here for a month and a friend loaned us a Trans Am, so we drove all over the island--the Coach and Jimmy in the front seat, TRQ and me in the back seat--listening to CCR.

But here's the moment I remembered this morning--that time we drove the Trans Am past Goo's Store on the other side of the island where a kid sat loose-limbed on the front step.  As we passed he gave us the hang loose sign and yeah.  I did feel like all that and a bag of damn chips, too.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

I Know I'm Not Young

. . . but I was surprised today to see that tired, lined face looking back at me from the storefront's plate-glass window.  My face.

Moments like these present an opportunity for me to remember that my body is a teacher.  A child's body teaches some things.  An adolescent body teaches others.  A young adult body teaches still others.  And so it goes.

OK.  Done being philosophical.  Time to go eat some more of TRQ's bridge mix.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

When Adult Children Surprise You

I told Second Son that his grandmother and I will be going to Oahu soon where we will decamp on Waikiki Beach.  This is the text conversation that followed.

HIM:  You have to go to Murakami Udon.

ME:  What's that?

HIM:  It's a Japanese udon noodle place.  It's on Kuhio Ave literally the next street behind your hotel.

ME:  Oooooooo!

HIM:  The noodles are big fat Japanese noodles and you add in your preferred spices and meats and whatnot.  Then you can add tempura.  It's one of the best things I've ever had and it's really cheap.  Like $8.00 a person.

ME:  Heaven!!!

HIM:  Grandma will like it too.  And literally it's a 4 or 5 minute walk from your hotel.

ME:  Excellent!

HIM:  I went like three times last year.

ME:  Grandma is always hungry.  It's the first thing she talks about in the morning.  Food.

HIM:  Of course.  It's very important on vacation.

ME:  Grandma will be game!  Recommendations?

HIM:  I got hot Udon in one of the broths and any of the tempura is good.  Japanese food is great because it's fancy deep fried shit.

ME:  I just read this out loud to your grandmother.

HIM:  The curry udon and niku udon were my favorite.  Nike is a broth with a light fish and seaweed flavor with caramelized onions and sweet beef.

Okay.  This is where I paused.  I wanted to say, "Who are you?"  Food is important if you have the Edwards DNA.  It just is.  But this?  This is a notch above.  Caramelized onions?  Sweet beef? I was surprised by the level of engagement and intensity.  The only time this kid ever cried in his life was when the Cubs won the World Series.

HIM:  I literally just copied the menu.  (It's online.)

Okay again.  Still surprised by my kid.  Just not as much.  

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Talk about collusion

I've spent a lot of energy detesting Donald Trump over the past year and a half, but my loathing reached new levels when CNN reported that Trump delighted in the consternation caused by his comment about shithole countries.  I could practically hear him cackle.  LOOK AT ME!  I'M THE CENTER OF ATTENTION!

And that's when I decided I'm not going to spend another ounce of emotional energy on the man.  I am not colluding with him anymore.

He's there.  I can't do anything about that fact.  I can only turn off the TV and refuse to click onto any stories about him online.  Done feeding the troll, you know?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Way We Are Now

A few Christmases ago I caught Ken Cannon secretly watching the Hallmark Channel.  Like, a lot.

"Wait," I'd say.  "Are you secretly watching the Hallmark Channel?"

"No," he'd say.

But I kept catching him at it.

"Wait," I'd say.  "Are you secretly watching the Hallmark Channel?"

"A little," he'd say.  "But the movies are really stupid."  Which, apparently, is the reason he'd always change the channel when I'd walk into the room.

And then last Christmas he stopped changing the channel.  He just owned it.  He, Ken Cannon, likes Hallmark Christmas movies.  And now he's watching the cozy mysteries they produce, too.

Which brings me to a description of our new reality as a couple.  He's downstairs watching the Hallmark Channel.  I'm upstairs watching a game.  I don't even care which game it is as long as it's a game.

And there you have it.  Old Love.

Monday, January 8, 2018

A confession

Sometimes when I hear stories about Donald Trump--and it's REALLY hard not to hear stories about Donald Trump these days--I start to worry.  Am I Trump-ish?

I ask this question because as it turns out I (apparently) share some of the same qualities decried about 45.  To wit--

1.  I have a short attention span.
2.  I am ADHD.
3.  I don't read instructions.

I haven't heard anybody actually say that third thing about the president but I'm assuming this is the case because of #1 and #2 and clearly the man didn't read the instruction manual called A Nation and How to Run One before entering office.

It's been sobering to see the worst of my characteristics played out on cable network news for all the world to see.  But I can totally promise you this--I will NOT start a nuclear war.

You're welcome.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Maybe slightly melancholy here

Normally I write my column over the weekend.  But that column, for now, has been eliminated.

Honestly, I was surprised that it went on as long as it did.  I first started up in 1985 for Parent Express, carried on at The Deseret News, and moved over to The Tribune.  So you see it was about a 30 year run.  Can't complain about that.

Right now I'm viewing this as an opportunity to do something else.  I'm enjoying the advice column gig.  And maybe I'll get my butt in gear and start writing novels again.  But yeah.  It'll be weird not to send something to the paper first thing Monday morning.

Wait.  I KNOW!  I'LL BLOG!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Friday, January 5, 2018

What I Wish For Today, Part 1

I wish Ken Cannon could stay home with me today so I'd be able to help him shout at the TV.

Ken Cannon thinks he's a very shy, very retiring person.  But he's not.  He lives out loud, which is one of his many charms.  He is especially fond of having noisy, extended conversations with all those Talking Heads on TV.  And he was in fine form this morning with the rushed publication (Henry Holt says, "THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT) of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House this morning.  He had plenty to say, of course.

Plenty. To. Say.