Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What I gained by blogging (almost) every day

Wow!  2013 is almost over?  I feel like I just got home from my extended February stay in St. George--

Anyway, I've been thinking about this blogging exercise and here are my thoughts about the thing.

1.  I'm glad I did it.  It was fun, and (surprisingly) it never felt like a burden.

2.  Blogging every day made writing my column easier.  For years I've told my creative writing students that writing is like shooting baskets.  You have to do it regularly to be good at it.  That doesn't mean, however, I always followed my own BRILLIANT advice.  But this year I kinda did, and I must say it made sitting down to knock out a column a lot easier.

3.  Blogging is the writer's equivalent of an artist's sketchbook.   Blogging regularly allowed me to capture moments and half-formed impressions before they flitted away.  Occasionally I was able to make later use of those scraps of writing.

4.  Blogging every day has kept me engaged with my own life.  I had to pay attention to what was going on around me--the weather, the conversations, the craziness, the stuff that otherwise would have scuttled away to my brain's forgotten corners.

5.  Blogging every day meant comments from you.  Thanks for responding.  Thanks for paying attention.  You guys are the best.

Will I blog every day in 2014?  Right now I'm gonna say "sort of."  And by "sort of" I mean I'll blog Mondays through Fridays after which I'll spend my weekends catching up on celebrity gossip and eating nachos.  This, I think, is an excellent plan.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Column alert!

I was surprised to see my column up and running so early in the week.  But I'll take it!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


This time last year I set a few goals, and honestly I didn't achieve very many of them.  But I actually feel good about the stuff I DID achieve.  This is apparently what happens when you start taking Celexa in the middle of May.  I recommend it!

Meanwhile, I'm thinking of a few things I'd like to accomplish in 2014.  Most of them have to do with writing and finding ways NOT to be distracted from the task at hand.  Online stuff is the biggest problem for me, so maybe I'll spend a few more days down at The Rose (no wifi!) this year.

I'd be interested to hear what your writing goals for 2014 are.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday Fatigue

Okay, first.  I have this fabulous friend who always assumes you know the same people she knows.  So when you're having a conversation you often have no idea who she's talking about.  And I've been guilty of the same thing.  The Becky I referred to yesterday is Becky Thomas, my friend who passed away nearly ten years ago.  We grew up together and stayed connected--even more profoundly connected--as adults.  I still think about her every day.

Okay, second.  I think I need the holidays to be over.  It feels like a non-stop party from Halloween until the end of the year, and while I always love a good party, I am feeling the need for plain wholesome food, brisk walks, tall drinks of water, lots of sleep, and a regular writing routine.

I feel a little guilty even saying I've had it--like I'm on the verge of breaking up with a perfectly good and also dazzling boyfriend named "Christmas 2013," simply because he's too dazzling and he's wearing me out.  But there it is.

Time for a change.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Well, all I can say is that I did a damn good job of blogging every day until about the middle of October and then WHAT?!  What happened?  My days have gone all slippery and have begun disappearing like unfortunate goldfish down the drain when you're cleaning out their disgusting bowl.  Which only goes to show that it's better not to clean out your disgusting goldfish bowl.  Unless, of course, you want goldfish slipping down your drain.

Anyway.  I just realized it's Friday.  Which means I forgot all about Thursday, probs because I was so DEAD after Christmas Day, even though I am now officially old with no small children to wrangle.  I'm astonished that I'm still so tired the day after Christmas . . .

But we had a lovely holiday, and I extended the loveliness of it all by going down to Provo again yesterday so that I could visit Becky's daughters and parents.  Her girls are good.  As I sat there talking to Emma and Alex I couldn't help but think how proud Becky would be of them and how much they're like her in so many ways.

Afterwards I visited Tom and Sheila, Becky's parents, and sat in a cozy room with them while this year--and all the years before--fell quietly away.  I'm so glad I saw them.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Friends.  I hadn't thought about this story for years--not until the other night when I was driving home from TKE.

Thanks for making blogging so rewarding.  I cherish your presence here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Finding out about Santa

Tonight over dinner we talked about the moment when we learned the truth about Santa Claus.  My daughter-in-law said she burst into tears.  I did the same.  Geoff said he never did believe, and Ken Cannon says he still believes.  My dad was the real surprise.  He believed in Santa Claus until he was twelve.  Which strikes me as adorable.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Some Jimmy for you

As you know, I'm crazy about my youngest brother, Jimmy, partly because he sends me e-mails like these (I reprint here with permission) (although when did I start respecting people's privacy?) (This is an interesting development!)  Anyway.  I've always admired his knack for observation and the way he has with the words.

"I was in court today, and I decided to run by our process server's office.  The office is on East Fremont Street, a place where several drug transactions, prostitution hookups, and petty thefts occur on a daily basis.  Probably hourly.  Broken windows, broken beer bottles, and broken lives abound.  Regularly, there are condoms in the gutter.  I am one of the few attorneys that chooses to pay directly at the offices.  The elderly secretary asked me why I choose to pay there instead of paying online.  She would not go there if she didn't need to work.

I told her that I enjoyed coming and looking out the windows onto Fremont Street.  It's a window into a world of which I know little.  "It's like 1000 stories an hour unfolding in front of my eyes,"  I said.  She liked that.

After I paid my bill today and dropped off a subpoena for service, I was walking back to my car.  You have to walk through an alley to get from the process server's office to the parking lot.  As I was walking through this alleyway, a man angrily walked towards me and shouted, "Your tie is too long and you have a sucker in your mouth."  I knew it was just the alcohol talking.  He carried a 45-ounch Colt malt liquor can in his hand.  He was clearly wrong.

My tie was not too long, and the sucker was in my hand."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

One hundred years old

That's how old my father-in-law, Kenneth Cannon, would be today if he were still alive.   It's his birthday, and my Ken and his sister joined their mother in Provo this evening for a little cake and ice cream and a lot of remembering.

Last week in church Ken talked about his father, how he always made sure the animals were fed before the family opened their presents.  Young Ken resented this.  He hated the idea of milking the cow before the celebrations began.  Stupid cows.  And yet the experience always turned out to be peaceful--the scent of hay reminding him of that first Christmas birth.

Thinking tonight of loved ones who are no longer here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas house in the morning!

I snapped this early this morning before the sun came up.  You know.  At 11:00 freaking a.m.

Isn't it pretty, though?  Doesn't Ken Cannon do a good job with the lights?  Happy winter solstice, everyone.  The pagan in me is spiking the ball and doing a big old end zone dance.  THROW THAT FLAG AND PENALIZE ME FOR CELEBRATING, REF!  I DON'T EVEN CARE!

Soon the light will come . . .

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chapter Twelve: wherein I discuss the other fun thing that happened when I was an undergrad

I got married.

I know.  "Fun" and "marriage"--especially when you're both still undergrads--seems like an odd combination.  You know.  Like some weird ice creams people make in pretentious restaurants (lavender ice cream, rosemary ice cream, honey and thyme ice cream).  Basically here's my one of my Rules for Living:  don't put herbs in your ice cream.

Anyway.  Ken and I got married when we were young and stupid, and although there were adjustments OF COURSE I enjoyed him, and I enjoyed living at Wymount Terrace which was a lot like living in a dorm for married people.  Or at least I assume it was, although I wouldn't know.  As you'll recall I lived at home during college.

Anyway again.  We didn't have kids right away, so we enjoyed a lot of time together--playing cards and board games, going to movies with discount tickets from the bookstore, watching General Hospital during lunch break.  And you know what?  Now that the kids are gone, we're doing a lot of those same things again--not counting the General Hospital part.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chapter Eleven: Wherein I discuss one of the two fun things about my undergrad experience

I went to London for six months on BYU's semester abroad program, and it was great.  My roommate ended up being a girl from Durham N.C.--the hysterically funny Donna Draughon--and pretty much all we did was laugh and sightsee.  Also eat.  And eat and eat and eat.  And it was awesome.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We'll get to the next two posts eventually . . .

But first this week's column.  Some of you may remember this episode . . .

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chapter Ten: Wherein I go to college and learn I want my future kids to do things differently

In this chapter I will discuss how I went to BYU although all the kids who grew up in Provo mocked BYU students heartlessly.  We called them ZOOBIES and tinkerty-tonk!  WE MEANT IT TO STING.

But most of us Provo kids who actually went to college went to BYU because it was cheap and we lived at home where we proceeded to have no fun at all because you know.  We lived at home.  I drowned my sorrows in food and became large-ish, which still did not stop me from becoming a BYU Folk Dancer because apparently you can be chubby if you're good at doing Russian dances.  Which I was.

Anyway.  I made myself a solemn sacred promise that my kids would go away to school and not live at home and gain weight and become BYU Folk Dancers.  And mostly they didn't.  There were two good things that happened to me as an undergrad, though.  I will discuss those in my next two posts.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Knock-knock jokes

Fridays I hang out with my three year-old granddaughter who has discovered knock-knock jokes.  Here's the joke she told me today.

G-daughter:  Knock, knock!

Me:  Who's there?

G-daughter:  Apple!

Me:  Apple who?

G-daughter:  Apple poo-poo!  (This is followed by uncontrollable laughter.  Mine.)

At this point I think it's genetically hardwired in three year-olds to tell a) knock knock jokes that b) are scatological.  Like, in France I'm pretty sure the kids would say knock, knock and their grandmothers would say qui is there and then the kids would say pomme and then their grandmothers would say pomme qui and then the kids would say pomme poo-poo and then I would start laughing uncontrollably again way over here in America.

Carry on, French kids!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where were we?

Oh yes.  Chapter Nine.  This is the chapter wherein I discuss high school, which, of course, was plenty angsty, but a way better fit for me than junior high school ever was.  I lost some weight and learned to talk to boys without nervously dissolving into a nervous puddle of nervous sweatiness.  Score!  Not that I was completely sweat-free, but now I only sweat under one arm instead of both.

Other high school stuff?

Girls could wear pants.  I fell in love with Led Zeppelin and spent all my money on albums.  My two best friends, Gigi and Becky, started spending more time with their boyfriends than with me, which I understood but which left me feeling lonely.  So I made new best friends with Jon and Stan who were safe because they didn't see me as girlfriend material.  Our poodle died of a heart attack in the driveway when a big dog made accidental eye contact with her.  I started a string of part-time jobs.  I went to Hawaii for the first time and wondered why I hadn't been born there.  I learned to drive and nearly lost my license by the time I was a senior.  You can read between the lines there.  My dad was made head coach.  Joyce Nelson, my AP English teacher changed my life.   I made up a bucket list in our school library one day that said I wanted to write a book, go to Europe, and have seven sons, and if you count my two stillborn babies, I eventually did all of the above.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

This n' that

1.  I went to the SLC library tonight to listen to Radagast read some of his poems.  He reads like he writes--beautifully.

2.  I saw Lisa B. there, too.  Maybe I've told you this before--but she's the one who inspired me to blog.  Thanks for that, Lisa!

3.  It's always nice to connect with friends who write--and friends who don't write, too.  Ken and I had French Silk Pie with Rick Horne earlier this evening.

4.  And then I came home and started watching Nashville for the first time in months and yup.  It's just a big hot mess.  And not even a big fun hot mess.

5.  Other hot messes that are no fun anymore?  Scandal and Revenge.  Ugh.  Revenge was watchable for a year before it blasted off into the craz-o-sphere.  Scandal took about two episodes before it did the same thing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas sweaters that get no respect

Yeah.  That would be MY Christmas sweater.  Read the true story here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Missing Q

My son:  Mormondom's answer to the Singing Nun.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chapter Eight: Wherein I discuss The Big Ugh, aka "junior high school"

In this chapter I will discuss how to this day whenever I find out that a kid is in seventh grade, I'll go "do you hate it?"  And I'm always surprised when they go "no!  Seventh grade is awesome!"  And then I call that kid a liar--sometimes to his/her face, but only if the kid's parent is out of earshot.

Anyway.  I hated junior high school and when I look at pictures of myself from then, it's clear why I did.  I was all nose and glasses and pimples.  Also, we had to do squat thrusts in gym class every day while wearing green jumpsuits.  My jumpsuit didn't fit.  Whereas my nose was too big for my face, my jumpsuit was too small for my butt.  Can you say uncomfortable?

The good news was that I had a friend who was as geeky as I was.  Gigi Ballif.  I also had a friend who was not geeky--Becky Brown.  She was elected "Miss Hi" and her boyfriend, Rusty Boshard, was elected "Mr. Hi" the first week of school.   I'm not making that up.  The good news was that Becky said hi to geeks.

And that's how we became life-long friends.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chapter Seven: Wherein I discuss the Big Move

I will discuss how my parents built a house in Oak HIlls and also how I threw a hissy fit about that fact and so in order to entice me to move with them and not to finish out my life as a feral child in the foothills of Edgemont, they let me pick my own bedroom carpet.  So I did.  And it was a shocking pink shag.  And so my parents got it for their room, too, because it was cheaper that way.  Which led to my father once saying he was pretty sure he was the only defensive line coach in America who had carpet like that in the bedroom.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wherein I share my favorite thing I heard today

So you know how I go to a rest home the first Thursday of every month to read picture books, right?  Anyway.  We have an elderly Downs resident there who loves Jesus and loves to tell stories about Jesus, and today she told me that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

And also that he weighed 8 pounds and 6 ounces.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chapter Six: wherein I discuss the Edgemont Years (grades 2-5)

It's not that my childhood was totally blissful.  Childhood never is.  But I certainly knew happiness riding my bike and hiking in the foothills and cavorting around the nearby cemetery with friends.  Also, there were night games and sun and snow and dogs and cats giving birth to many kittens behind the freezer in our garage and sleepovers and Mad Magazine and Tales from the Crypt and the Sears Catalog at Christmas.  Also there was my first boyfriend, Kendell Kelly, who's pharmacist dad gave his kids drugs so they wouldn't wake up early on Christmas because Kendell's dad was NO FUN AT ALL.  Other Edgemont doings?  Kurt Apostle told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus (tragic!) and Kendell Kelly told me about "it"(really?  And also ew!) and how you had to do "it" for forty-five minutes (also tragic!) if you wanted to get a baby out of the whole process.  It was hard to look at the adults on our street for  a little while after that.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wherein I post another column

This was one of those weeks when I felt bone dry in the Creativity Department.  Hard to eek out a column when I'm feeling like that.  But you just keep at it.  Deadlines help.  I'm gonna stitch that on a pillow:  DEADLINES ARE OUR FRIENDS!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Chapter Five: wherein I am struck ill

In this chapter I will discuss the Epic Bike Accident when I was six years old which led to the Epic Infection that went systemic and attacked my Epic Kidneys, thus forcing me into the hospital and later into my bed for an Epic Seven Months--during which time I did not cavort much with other human beings.

Everything about me and my life changed after this illness.  It's probably why I grew up bookish and became a writer.

I know!  Turning Point!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wherein I remember to take some pictures at a family celebration

Hey!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey!  Ken Cannon wants to say Happy Thanksgiving, too!

That was so much fun, we're gonna do it again!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Busted!  No more turkey for you, Jacques-fu!

Thanks for a great day, you two.