Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Um . . . does this make sense to you?

This is a complete and undoctored texting conversation I had with one of my sons yesterday.

SON:  When asked if he used steroids, George Brett said that his last 3 years they had a weight room and he didn't even know where it was.

ME:  Ha!

ME AGAIN:  Not personally.  I liked his stand on immigration.  He's in big trouble.

SON:  George Brett is in trouble?  The old KC Royal?

ME:  Oops!  I meant to send that to Jommy about someone Seles.

SON:  OK.  I'm listening to podcasts.

Fine.  If you tell me that conversation makes sense to you, then I will happily arrange an appointment with an excellent psychiatrist here in town, who in turn will happily admit you for a weekend stay at Uni.  BECAUSE THAT CONVERSATION DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.

Here's what happened.  My son texted me with the info about George Brett because both of us like random baseball tidbits.  At almost the same time, my brother Jimmy texted me, asking me if I know our former AG, Mark Shurtleff, because you know me.  Always hanging out with former AGs.  Anyway, I texted Jimmy back--or so I thought--but as you can see I actually texted my son back.

And from there it went downhill, what with my thumbs going all crazy texting words like "Jommy" instead of "Jimmy" and "Seles" instead of else.   But the best part of all is my son's response.  I could see him saying to himself, "Okay.  I'm going to put my phone down.  Then I'm going to put my hands up in the air.  Then I'm going to back away slowly from my crazy mother.  And then I'm going to listen to a few podcasts.  Like a normal person."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I love it when the Wednesday column is already online!

You'll recognize, of course, where this column came from . . .

Monday, July 29, 2013

Grubby little dreams redux

Last night Ken Cannon and I finally got around to watching ZERO DARK THIRTY, which has been sitting on the counter top for months now.  Anyway, it obviously inspired my dream last night wherein I was chasing Osama Bin Laden.

However, I had a certain complication set in, which was that I couldn't find my shoes.   AND HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO CATCH BIN LADEN WITHOUT MY OSAMA-BIN-LADEN-CATCHING SHOES ON?  So I was tearing through my room, throwing towels and clothes and newspapers around looking for my shoes.  Which I did, in fact, find under the dog's bed.  But then I couldn't find my socks.  So I finally decided I would wear a pair of my kids' socks, but my kids kept grabbing them away from.  It's like for the first time in their lives they wanted to actually wear socks.  And I was all DON'T YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND?  I HAVE TO CATCH OSAMA BIN LADEN!

What I think is interesting about this is that even when I'm dreaming on an epic scale, i.e. the Free World is counting on me to catch Terroristo Numero Uno, I am still having my grubby little dreams wherein I'm dropping toast butter-side down on the kitchen floor or tripping in sprinkler holes at Farrer Junior High School or hearing sales clerks laugh at me behind the curtain when I try on swimming suits.

P.S.  I also dreamed last night that my friends had a New Year's Eve party and didn't invite me.  I KNOW!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A new day

Yesterday it was like a CRANKY BOMB went off in our house.  All of us (me, Geoff, and Ken) were irritable, quick to criticize, quick to take offense.  Also, Ken Cannon wanted to have the air-conditioning on full-blast even though I personally wasn't hot.  So there you go.  It was a bad day.  And by the time we picked up Phil for Weekend Hamburger Club (wherein we motor around the city to eat another new hamburger) we were a morose crew, and Phil, having no idea what the day's backstory was, must have felt like he'd wandered into a family therapy session gone bad.

But here's the good news.  We all went to bed.  And woke up.  And it's like someone pushed the re-set button.

Thank the good Lord for new days.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Now here's something you don't read every day

Anne put a book in my box at work called Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, a collection of essays by Chris Kluwe, who is best known as an NFL punter--recently with the Vikings, now with the Raiders.  I haven't read the whole thing, but I've read a lot of it, and here's what I think so far.

1.  Chris Kluwe is everything people think a punter should be--athletic, intelligent, and quirky.

2.  He writes well, although like any collection where some of the essays have been previously published, there are (perhaps) too many repetitive riffs on pet subjects, which in Kluwe's case is marriage equality.  I'm actually on board with him philosophically, but by the time I reached the third or fourth essay, I went ENOUGH ALREADY.

3.  I love that he's a gaming geek.

4.  I love that he loves Kurt Vonnegut.

5.  I especially like the essays dealing with football.  As someone who has never played (except on the front lawn) (obv) I like to know how football feels on the inside.  That's one of the reasons I liked the movie Invincible so much.  While it's very true I have a tiny crush on Mark Wahlberg, I loved how it got right down on the ground with the game so that a person like me felt a part of the action.

If you're interested I do feel obliged to mention that there is language.  Quite a bit of it, actually.  My mentioning this would probably irritate Kluwe, who has a few things to say about people who take offense on that front.  Still.  Some readers want to know.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Swear Box

Yesterday when I was cleaning house I found a son's "Swear Box" underneath a bed.  There was a list of swear words on it with a dollar amount attached, the idea being that if said son used one of these words, he'd put money in the box . . . to make him stop swearing?  Like, who was gonna get all that money in the "Swear Box" anyway?  Especially since no one knew about the existence of this top secret "Swear Box."

Whatever.  I was interested in the words listed (such variety!) and also the dollar amounts ascribed to each one.  Personally I was happy to see he was only out 25 cents if he used the word "shit," because seriously, that's such a useful word and it would be a shame to have it priced out of anybody's swearing budget.

My favorite detail?  There was no money in the box.  Just a bunch of IOU's.

There are no words to describe how happy this discovery from my son's past made me.  I asked my son if I could write a column about this and he said sure.  He doesn't read my column anyway.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why I Need Winter

I go shoeless in the summer.  I mean like everywhere.  The other night I was at the Alta Club with Ken Cannon for a Westerners dinner and w/o even realizing it, I slipped my shoes off there.  My shoes sat underneath the table feeling all mortified for me.  They kept calling out to me in their tiny squeaky shoe voices going, "Don't forget to put us back on when you stand up.  We don't want you to embarrass yourself in front of your husband's colleagues.  ALSO!  YOU'RE IN THE ALTA CLUB!  WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?"

So yeah.  Shoeless Me.  Why does this happen?  Maybe because summer is my favorite season?  I feel like me in the summer.  And when you feel like yourself, you feel comfortable.  Comfortable enough to take your shoes off in the Alta Club.

I've often thought that if I lived in a place like Hawaii or SoCal where it's eternal summer, I would never wear shoes.  And I would start giving into all kinds of slack and lax instincts, as well.  That's why I need Winter to ride into town with its shiny silver lawman's badge to lay down the law for me everywhere now and then.  Time to put on shoes.  Time to stop sitting on the porch in the evening, looking at the moon and smelling night-scented flowers.  Time to line up a schedule or two.  Time to be a grownup.

Winter is my sheriff.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Oh, Wednesday, Wednesday!

Wednesday's column on this lovely Pioneer Day.  Happy holiday!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Royal Baby

It's been interesting to watch the coverage of the royal baby's birth . . . and to gauge my reaction, which has been a little surprising.

Backstory first.  I was a HUGE Princess Diana fan.  I bought books about her and (I am deeply ashamed to say) I cut my hair like hers, as if cutting my hair would suddenly make me tall, blond and bosomy.

I love that word.  Bosomy.  Bosomy bosomy bosomy bosomy bosomy bosomy.

Okay, now that I have THAT out of my system, I can continue.  Anyway, I followed Diana's every move in a way that's hard for me to understand now as I look at all the old pictures being shown on TV today.  Those collars!  That poofy hairdo!  Those ballet flats!  For someone who was supposed to be a fashion icon, she looks surprisingly matronly in retrospect.

But then.  It was the 80's.  And now it's the whatevers--2013.  And there's a new princess and a new baby, and I'm a little surprised that I'm not very interested.  I feel a little like TQR must have whenever I gushed about Diana.  She'd just say, "Well she's not my princess, is she?  I'm more of a Princess Grace fan."

And I'd look at Princess Grace of Monaco with those little braids on her head and I'd think, "Girl looks just like the Swiss Miss.  If the Swiss Miss was middle-aged and dowdy."

Time and generations just march on.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Fairy garden

We've had our three year-old granddaughter for a few days and it's been great, actually.  I will say I'm tired and that I remember now why my house was never tidy.  But watching her engage with the world fills me with joy.

We made this fairy garden together yesterday.  Yeah.  I'm going all Pinterest-y on you now.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

BYU Symposium on Books for Children

I mentioned I went to part of this, right?  Anyway, the Trib asked me to do a little piece and here it is.  I heard the rest of the talks were exceptional, too.

It's a good conference.  Well done, everyone!

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I spent this morning helping with the Days of '47 children's parade.  We wound up at the City and County Building where bottles of cold water awaited us. YAY FOR BOTTLES OF COLD WATER!
Anyway, a couple of boys started a water fight.  They were laughing and dousing each other and I went, "Friends."

Then one of the boys chucked his bottle at the other boy's head.  So the other boy chucked his bottle at the first boy's head.  And then both boys started clubbing each other and one of them commenced with the crying part and I went, "Nope.  Brothers."

Friday, July 19, 2013

I dreamed a dream

No.  I didn't dream that dream.  I'm not Fantine and no one shaved me bald onscreen.

But I did dream last night that I went to Liberty Park to ride my bike.  Only instead of riding my bike, I spent all my time messing around with my helmet and my gears and my tires--none of which I actually know how to do in real life.  And then I realized my time to actually ride was gone.  Frittered foolishly away by my foolish frittering.  And I didn't get to ride.

So now this dream is going to be my spirit guide.  I'm getting older.  Time is starting to run out.  Memo to self:  focus instead of frittering.

(Except, of course, if I feel like frittering.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Children of a Lesser God

So I just returned from the lovely Provo City Library where I attended this conference.  It was awesome, and I think we should all meet down there next year so we can sit together and then go eat lunch at the Korean noodle house where Viv and I went.  WE WOULD HAVE SO MUCH FUN SHUTTING THE WHOLE TOWN DOWN!

Anyway.  Both Sara Pennypacker and the Steads addressed this attitude they frequently encounter, i.e. that people think books for adults are real books, while books for kids are children of a lesser god.  Or whatever that movie title was back in the day.

Have you encountered this?  Why do people feel this way?  As Lois Lowry pointed out, no one asks pediatricians when they're going to start treating real people?

And while we're out it, what books meant the most to you when you were a kid?  I may have asked this before, but clearly I've forgotten what you told me.

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Plant material update

This morning on our walk my friend Nancy said she received a notice from her mail carrier (possibly the same one?  We live a few blocks away from each other) telling her that unless she cut her roses back, mail delivery to her casa would be stopped, too.

Nancy had much the same reaction as I did.  She thought about uprooting her bushes and leaving them on the walk so that the mail person had to step over them.  But in the end she cut them back.  The next day the mail carrier left her a note that said, "YOU'RE AWESOME!"

I'd like to state for the record that although I cut back my lavender, I received no such glowing affirmation from the P.O.  Possibly because I left all that dead lavender in a heap by the mailbox?

In other news, here's this week's column.  It's sort of weird not to say "Have a nice weekend" after I link these days.  Still getting used to the Wednesday slot . . .

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Blue and green

When I tell people I usually get up around 5:30 a.m. to go for a walk, they look like I'm a nut job, whereas I think they should be impressed.  But whatever.  Different folks, different strokes.  To each his own.  Whatever floats your boat.  So on and so forth.

I don't always love getting up that early--especially in the dead of winter--but it's great in the summer because you own the morning roads, and you re-discover daily that Salt Lake City when it first wakes up is a very beautiful city--all awash in blue and green light.  As fresh as sea air.  

And I carry around the memory of it like a happy secret for the rest of the day.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Me vs. the P.O.

As some of you know Ken Cannon and I have a long, long, looooong history over the place of plant material in our lives.  I think it should be everywhere--snaking up trees and trellises and spilling over fences and sidewalks.  I want it all to GROW!  GROW!  GROW!  While he wants it to fold its arms and sit quietly  until it's called upon by the teacher.

But let me say this.  Although the lavender has had an astonishing growing spurt this year--not unlike an eighth-grade boy who changes from a pipsqueak to a slouching hulk over the course of one summer--Ken has not registered a single complaint with me.  Not one!  Nor have I seen his trigger finger itch.  He's sworn off the shears completely when it comes to my plants.  To which I can only say this:  No greater love hath a man . . .

So.  Imagine my ENRAGEMENT when I found a snarky note from my mail carrier Saturday, telling me to cut back all the lavender or else he'll/she'll stop delivering the mail.

Okay.  Fine.  So they have to blaze a trail through the lavender to get to my mailbox everyday.  Is that so hard really?  I thought they were all about the rain and the sleet and the snow and so forth.  But apparently not the lavender.

I spent the weekend fuming and writing angry little notes in my head that said TINKERTY-TONK, YOU GUYS!   But in the end I got up this morning, cut back all the lavender and left it sitting in a heap.

Right below my mailbox.

(MEMO TO KEN CANNON:  Thanks for not saying "I told you so."  You're a better man than I.  But then again, I'm not a man.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jade bracelet

The first time I went to Hawaii a billion years ago, I fell in love with jade bracelets--especially the lavender kind--and I promised myself I would buy one some day.  Which I did a few years ago when Q and I were in Chinatown.  It was exciting.  The fulfillment of a big old jewelry dream.  And I didn't mind paying good money for it.  LOTS of good money.

Well.  After a short time it became quite clear that my bracelet might not really be jade after all.  It's discolored now--milky gray instead of lavender.  You can see seams in it, too--like someone patched the whole thing together.

So yeah.  I pretty much got taken for a Chinatown ride.  An expensive Chinatown ride.

For awhile I put the bracelet away because I was so disappointed and maybe even a little embarrassed for being so stupid, jade-wise.  But lately I've pulled it out and started wearing it again, mostly because it IS imperfect.  That misrepresented bracelet reminds me that life is, in fact, often disappointing.  But it also reminds me of that wonderful windy sun-drenched day I spent with Q--he of the flowing locks who looked exactly like Tim Lincecum whenever he put on his Giants hat.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My brother Jimmy

My brother Jimmy read my post about taking hemorrhoid cream instead of toothpaste to my writers' conference and he texted me saying that hemorrhoid cream might not be a bad call--if I had swollen gums.

Oh, Jimmy.  What would this sister do without you?

Meanwhile, John Bytheway provided us all with great quotes about the writing life.  My favorite comes from Elmore Leonard:  "I try to leave out the parts that people skip."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Have you ever noticed

. . . how whenever you go to a gift shop in a hotel or a store at an airport out here in the west that the "Indian jewelry" is always 50% off?  I mean ALWAYS.  And yes.  It's 50% off here where I'm staying while teaching at a conference.  Necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings.  They're all 50% off.  They always have been.  They always will be.

Why is this, people?  Do all those necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings have self-esteem issues?   Because they shouldn't.  Silver and turquoise = my favorite jewelry.  Ever.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Some days . . .

You just can't get anything right.  Like today, for instance.  It was a day of small mishaps--most of them too boring to go into--but I think I'll mention the coup de grace, which is this:  I'm finally here in my hotel room at 10:00, only to discover that the toothpaste tube in my overnight bag isn't really a toothpaste tube.

It's hemorrhoid cream.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vampire column

Here's why keeping a blog is a good thing for me.  I'm able to take stuff I rush write here and turn it into a column.  Re-gifting to myself, people.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Like I've said before, there are regulars at Liberty Park.  I see them summer after summer--walking, biking, roller-blading, running.  And I've written before about the Latino man who ran around the edge of the park at high speed while wearing tight jeans.  We always waved and smiled at each other, and sometimes he wondered aloud about my shoes.  As in, "Where are your shoes?"

I used to wonder about him, too.  Who was he?  What was his back story?  Why was he exercising every morning in his (most likely) work clothes?  Was he staying in shape for something?  Like soccer games with friends?  Or did he just like to run?  To own the morning for himself with no demands made on his time and on his person?  One thing's for sure--there was always a certain joy in his movement.  You could see that joy in the way he moved his arms and his legs.

But I haven't seen him this year.  Not even once.

Where is he?

Did something happen?  Did he move?  Is he sick?  Is somebody in his family sick?  Did he die?

I hate it when my stories are sad.

Monday, July 8, 2013


So I've been running/walking at the crack of dawn with some girlfriends for lo these many years now, and occasionally we experience a "sighting"--something that stands out among the ordinary things you may see on the streets at 5:30 in the morning.  Which, frankly, is a whole lot of nothing.

Still.  Sightings happen.  Like the skateboarder zooming down "I" Street, holding all his bedding (including a comforter) in his arms.  Or the bicyclist with no pants.  Or the old ladies with blinking light things on their hats, which made them look like those dwarves in Snow White on their way to the mines.

Anyway.  I ran shoeless in the park today for the first time this summer.  And as I passed up walkers, I noticed a brief pause in their conversations.  I could imagine them looking at each other, rolling their eyes and going "Look!  An old lady with no shoes on!"

A sighting, in other words.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

What living forever may do to you

This week I had lunch with my good friend John who is a lover of the Greek classics.  He reads both the Iliad and the Odyssey like some people read scripture.

Anyway.  He made this interesting observation.  The Greek gods (with perhaps the exception of Zeus) are frivolous.  And why are they frivolous?  Because they have nothing but time and time and time again on their hands.  Which means none of their choices matter.  There are no stakes.  There's always tomorrow.

It isn't that way for the humans they deal with, of course.  They have to choose because there's only so much time.  And their choices are meaningful because of that.

Here's to choosing what matters.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Baseball Books of Summer

Maybe I already mentioned this?  But the Trib has asked to do a kids books piece the first Sunday of every month.  Here's the first piece, already launched.

I'm going to enjoy this!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fourth of July, Deja Vu

For years Ken's siblings and their families always decamped to his mother's house on the Fourth where there was much eating and playing of games on the side lawn and wading in wading pools and sliding down stomachs on the "slippy slide," which invariably turned into a mud bath.

It was all good times.

Then the kids got older.  And the parents got older.  And after awhile the party turned into a quiet affair, sort of like lunch at a rest home.  Which was okay.  I like rest homes.  And lunch.

But YESTERDAY!  Oy!  All of the cousins are grown up with bambinos of their own and suddenly Ruth's backyard was a-hoppin' all over again.  It felt like 25 year ago.  Only without the stomach muscles.

Hope your Fourth was a happy one, too.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

Church breakfast this morning.

Ruth's potato salad this afternoon.

Bees game and fireworks tonight.

Yup.  That's how you do the Fourth.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's Wednesday, already?

And here's my column, now starring on Wednesdays in the Mix section of the Trib!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Things I would and would not plant again

Roses.  I would plant them over and over.  Same with peonies and Oriental poppies, iris and cosmos

Myrtle.  This I would NOT plant.  I didn't plant it in the first place.  It showed up in my garden like an unwanted guest, like a mime who harasses you on a street corner in San Francisco because he knows how very much he's annoying you.  

Daylilies.  These belong in the "I might, and then again I might not" category.  I like them in much the same way I like CASTLE on TV.  It's a pleasant enough TV show, but I'm not passionate about it.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

And now I'm embarrassed

. . . because I think that last post sounded like I was fishing for compliments.  Which I wasn't.  At least consciously.  But perhaps I was unconsciously.  I'll bring that up with a therapist, okay?  Really, what I wanted to say is how much I adore the personal essay form.  Whenever I need renewal I check in with E.B. White.  Or James Thurber.  Or various Mitfords.  Or David Sedaris.  Or Mike Birbiglia.  Or Anne Lamott.   Or Joan Didion.  Or Richard Selzer.   Or blogs written by wise and funny friends.   (Feel free to post who some of your favorite essayists are.)

Meanwhile, thanks for your kind comments.

Me, myself, and I--some thoughts on writing the personal essay

Yesterday Terry Orme ran an editorial in the Trib announcing a few changes in the paper's lineup, including the fact that my column will now run on Wednesdays in The Mix section.  I was interested in reader response to the changes and thus discovered a comment that said Ann Cannon's "me, myself, and I" column never did belong in the Utah section anyway because the column is so juvenile.

I know.  I shouldn't read the comments.

Only I'm glad I did because it made me articulate a few things that have been rattling around in my head for awhile.  And now I'm going to share those newly minted thoughts with you.  Win!

1.  I don't mind being called juvenile.  To paraphrase something Dave Barry once said when people called him sophomoric, I had a lot of fun when I was a juvenile.

2.  I actually agree my column is better suited to a lifestyle section like The Mix.  I never felt entirely comfortable with its location in the Utah section.

3.  BUT.

And here's the main thing I want to say.  In the past I struggled with the idea that I basically write about my life.  Such self-conceit!  Such effrontery!  Why should anyone want to read about (for example) all the shoes Ken Cannon takes on vacations?

But the truth is some people like to.  And I like to read about other people's husbands taking insane amounts of shoes on their vacations, too.  Because it's amusing.  And I can relate.  Which is the point.  The personal essayist isn't really writing about himself or herself.  The essayist is writing about experiences we all share using the specifics of his or her own life.  The personal essay as a literary form may or may not be a person's cup of tea.  But it's viable and valuable, and I realized as I read the afore-mentioned comment that after all these years, I'm okay with what I do.  I'd like to do it better, of course. 

But I'm happy to own the personal.