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.