Thursday, December 18, 2008


Those of you who know me, know that I'm an aspiring writer. What you might not know, is that I also dabble in poetry from time to time. Here's one I came up with just this morning:

Ah, oh. Spaghetti-0.
You just spit up all over your clothes.

Genius, I know. Don't worry. There are more where that came from. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Adult Table

Photographer Justin Hackworth sends out a photo of the day. (Sign up here to be added to the list). Yesterday there was a photo of the adult table at Thanksgiving. Oh, the adult table. As a kid, I really wanted to sit there. Over there they talked about business, and politics, and the neighbors. Why couldn’t the kids sit with the adults anyway?


Both of my grandmothers would set “kid” and “adult” tables when they hosted Thanksgiving. There was one Thanksgiving, however, when my grandma Webster didn’t just set a kid table, she served kid food. At Thanksgiving.


I love Thanksgiving. Always have. I love the turkey. I love the dressing. I love mashed potatoes and yams. I love everything about Thanksgiving, but I especially love the food. As a child, even, I loved the food. I looked forward to Thanksgiving all year.


That year, we went to Grandma Webster’s. We kids all sat down at the kid table. Grandma served us chicken nuggets. What???? Chicken nuggets. I hated chicken nuggets. She had to be kidding. She wasn’t. In fact, she was excited that she’d thought of it. Kids don’t like grown up food. They don’t want turkey. They want chicken nuggets. I didn’t. I wanted turkey. Can I have turkey? No. You can have chicken nuggets. That’s what kids like: chicken nuggets. No sense wasting a turkey on children who don’t even like it. But I like turkey. I do. But I made chicken nuggets for the kids. If you’re at the kid table, you eat chicken nuggets. So I did. And I really, really wanted to be sitting at the adult table. Not just for the gossip and politics, but for the turkey.


After our chicken nugget dinner we had mincemeat pie, because all kids love mincemeat pie.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Rollover

Three days ago, my baby rolled from his back to his tummy. He doesn't like being on his tummy, so I put him back on his back. He rolled over again. We repeated this several times. I don't want him rolling over. That means he's growing up. My husband and I always say that we wish we could freeze time. Freeze our kids just where they are and watch them be little and adorable forever. But we can't. I supposed, really, truly, we wouldn't do it even if we could. I don't think we're supposed to. That's why man invented the camera.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My baby boy cried the very first day he was born. It's taken eighty-five days for him to figure out how to laugh. I hope he never forgets.

May none of us forget how. To laugh. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Real Men Love Pink

I have a baby boy. He's just over two months now and what a blessing he is. My oldest, a girl, had colic and cried non-stop. When I say non-stop, I mean NON-STOP. It was horrible. I think I only survived because I didn't know any better. In comparison, my second (also a girl) was an angel. At least I thought so until now. Now I have this brand new baby and my, oh my. He's the happiest baby I ever did see. Of course he cries. Of course he had nights he doesn't sleep. Of course he had times when he's fussy and just won't settle down. Mostly though, I'm able to comfort him and meet his needs. 

He's been smiling for a while, but lately he coos too. It's my very favorite thing. The cooing, the smiles, the way his face lights  up. There is joy here, just all of us watching him. 

He takes a binky, which my girls never did. We have a couple blue ones, a green one, a yellow one. But the one he loves most is pink. Bright pink with a purple handle. It was one of his sister's before him; it was never used, until now. He, however, chomps away at it, his legs kicking and his arms flailing like he's leading a choir. Someday soon, the binky will wear out. I can't find any just like it in stores. Someday too, he'll look at a baby photo and be horrified, I'm sure, that I let him have a pink binky. Oh well. Someday when he has a colicky baby of his own he'll understand. In the meantime I'll tell him that real men love pink.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weird Thing

This is weird. Today I was thinking about Death of a Salesman, and how I love that play. It's been forever since I saw it or read it. "I should read that again sometime soon" I thought to myself. 

Then tonight I log onto Writer's Almanac. I don't check it much. Somehow the poetry is not the same in my head as it is when Garrison Keillor reads it on air, with a voice that is only his. I scroll to the bottom and read this:

It's the birthday of Arthur Miller, (books by this author) born in New York City in 1915. His family was wealthy, but they lost all their money during the stock market crash, so they moved to Brooklyn and lived with the whole extended family. Arthur's uncle was a storyteller and a big liar. He became an inspiration for Arthur, who said, "His unpredictable manipulations of fact freed my mind to lope and skip among fantasies of my own." While Arthur Miller was writing his playDeath of a Salesman (1949), he went to bed at night and realized that his face was wet from crying, and his throat was sore from speaking and shouting the lines of dialogue as he wrote. He said, "The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life."

Hmmmm. Weird. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Never get on Amazon late at night when you promised yourself you'd be writing your own masterpiece. It will only make you regret not buying a copy of The Underneath when you had a chance, even though it seemed like too much money at the time. Now it's been nominated for a national book award and you (meaning I) haven't read it. It's written by Kathi Appelt who was at the BYU Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop this past summer. When she read from her memoir My Father's Summers I gasped audibly because the writing was that good. Audible gasping good. It takes a lot for me to gasp audibly, believe me. Oh, I do love writing that makes me gasp. It's sort of like a cross between tasting the world's finest chocolate and having the wind knocked out of you. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Unintentional Mistakes

Growing up there were three apple trees in our backyard. I loved one tree the most. It's apples were red--not yellow and green like the others. The apples from that tree were crisp and tart, unlike any apples I've ever tasted. After a good frost they were cold and juicier than before. 

One day, as a child, I found a small knife. It was silver with a pearl handle. Unlike the pocket knives my father used to cut string from hay bales, this knife didn't fold up. I liked the way the knife felt in my hands. I liked using it. It was light and comfortable. I took that knife and began stripping the bark off the apple tree--my favorite tree. 

I stripped long strings of bark from the trunk and main branch. I watched the bark curl, exposing the fleshy wood underneath. I thought nothing of it, until my parents found me knife in hand, carving into the tree. They were not happy. What was I thinking? 

My parents explained that stripping the bark from the tree had made it vulnerable. I'd exposed it to disease, to insects, to the elements. The tree, they said, would probably die. I cried and cried. I loved that tree. I loved its apples. I hadn't meant it any harm. I hadn't understood that I was doing something wrong. 

It was the first time that I remember making a big mistake without realizing I was making one. Until that point I honestly thought that I'd have a clear understanding of my choices; that I'd always clearly know wrong from right. Instead I'd made an unintentional mistake.

The tree lived. For many, many years it bore the scar I gave it. It may still, although I think it's grown over. I still love the apples from that tree. I wonder how many unintentional mistakes I've made throughout my life, and I wonder when I'll realize that I've made them. I only hope it won't be too late. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bedtime Chats

My oldest daughter and I like to have bedtime chats. I snuggle down next to her in bed and we talk. Well, we did. About the time my tummy was too big with the baby and I was too uncomfortable to duck under the bunk bed our bedtime chats stopped. 

Tonight we had one again. She told me about her day: school, how she doesn't like computer class, and how she made a tote bag at enrichment tonight. (Someone took my girls to mother/daughter night--how nice). 

Since our new baby was asleep in his crib, I ducked down and we talked. It was nice. It really has been hard with a new baby to give my girls some one on one time. Tonight, though, at least I tried. When I said goodnight and left her room I had a full 30 seconds before the baby started crying. At least, though, there was time for a bedtime chat.  Sleep tight.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


 My husband and I know so little about computers that we shouldn't even own them. The same goes for cars, and probably houses. Our PC is currently AWOL. I have no idea how to fix it. I'm afraid trying will only make it worse. 

One of our cars needs to be fixed before winter. (Oh, winter, stay away). 

Then my father-in-law visits and says that I need to get my husband (his son) to fix something that is wrong with our front door. When I tell my husband he says, "How on earth do you fix that?" I shrug. I have no idea either. 

So just what are things we should own, given our areas of expertise?
Him?: Any and all camping / hiking equipment. Funny how he can take all that apart and put it back together. He also does OK with his bike and his trombone. He wants an electric piano just because it won't need tuning. 

For me: a pencil. I get a notebook, too. Maybe.

Other than that, we're pretty inept. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stephen King

I've not read a lot of Stephen King's books. They're not really my type of reading. But I have found lots of inspiration from his book "On Writing: a memoir of the craft". I try and read this book every couple of years. There's always something good I missed the time before. I do, however, love the back jacket and always have:

  "For years I dreamed of having the sort of massive oak slab that would dominate a room. . . In 1981 I got the one I wanted and placed it in the middle of a spacious, skylighted study in the rear of the house. For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind. . . 
A year or two later after I sobered up, I got rid of that monstrosity and put in a living-room suite where it had been. . . In the early nineties, before they moved on to their own lives, my kids sometimes came up in the evening to watch a basketball game or a movie and eat pizza. . . I got another desk--it's handmade, beautiful, and half the size of the T. rex desk. I put it at the far west end of the office, in a corner under the eave. . . I'm sitting under it now, a fifty-three-year-old man with bad eyes, a gimp leg, and no hangovers. I'm doing what I know how to do, and as well as I know how to do it. I came through all the stuff I told you about . . . and now I'm going to tell you as much as I can about the job. . . . 
It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lemonade Stand

There was only a single day in my childhood that I had a lemonade stand. My brother and I had thought it was a great idea. No one dissuaded us. Our Mom probably loved that we were out of her hair for almost the entire day. All it cost her was a single pitcher of lemonade. 

We drug the card table out on the lawn and set our two folding chairs around it. We had cups, and ice, and a hand-made sign drawn with markers on poster board. It was hot. Very hot. We were going to be rich. 

Our older sister was not interested in our business venture. She was old enough to know what we didn't. Well, maybe we knew, but we didn't want to admit it. Instead, we hoped that our proximity to the reservoir, a local boating and fishing hotspot would provide us with customers. The problem was, our house was about 3 miles further up the road than the loading dock and a full mile past where the reservoir ended.

As far as locations go, ours was not ideal. We sold lemonade 8.3 miles from the center of our small town, along a windy country road that (in those days) seldom saw traffic. After my brother and I exchanged quarters, we each took a glass of lemonade. We watched the cars: there were three of them that went by that entire day. Not one stopped. 

Still, we watched the road with hopefulness, swishing our bare feet just above the clipped grass. We sold (or failed to sell) lemonade for most of the day. It was a failed endeavor from the start, but I loved that no one told us we couldn't try. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Father's Wallet

My Dad kept two photos of my mother in his wallet. They were both black and white pictures of her in high school. She was beautiful. Really and truly, beautiful. Mom said he liked to keep them to remind him of how she used to look; I didn't like it when she said that. 

I thought it was sweet, though, that he kept those pictures; treasured them, really. He wasn't that great at birthdays or anniversaries, or Mother's Day, but the fact that he adored those photos always reminded me of his love for her.

I liked to look at them too. I don't know when it was but I looked in his wallet and noticed that one of the pictures had sort of decayed around the edges. I asked him about it. 

He laughed. "Didn't I ever tell you?" he asked. "It was the darnedest thing." It seems that he'd lost his wallet one fall, out on the tractor. We still had an old Allis Chambers open air tractor with a metal seat. That wallet, housed in his back pocket, had worked its way out and fallen somewhere in a field next to the pond he'd tried and failed to stock with fish. He'd looked for it when he noticed it was missing, but couldn't find it. "This biggest thing, was, that it has those photos, in it," he said. It wasn't the money in it he was going to miss, but he hated to lose those pictures of his young sweetheart. 

Fast forward to spring. Same field. "I stood there and remembered that that was where I'd lost my wallet," he told me. "I decided that before I did anything to it: turned the soil, or disced, or messed with it, that I'd walk over it one more time." And there is was. A season later, after the winter snow had melted: his wallet. The leather was decayed and falling apart in his hands, a $50 bill, partly disintegrated. But the photos, in their plastic sleeve where still there. His young love staring back at him, except some minor decay along the edges. 

He got a new wallet, a new plastic sleeve for the photos, and went to bank where they exchanged him for a crisp $50 bill. He smiled and looked at her picture. "I sure would have hated to lose those," he'd said. "Isn't she beautiful?"

He put the wallet back in his pocket and we went upstairs, where Mom was there, with dinner, waiting. 

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mother's Day. . . again

Tomorrow is Father's Day. So Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there. However, I'm going to write about Mother's Day. . . again. Why, you ask? Because tonight as I vacuumed out my car, I was still vacuuming out dried beans. Still. 

They were left from my preschooler who brought home a vase of paper flowers for me for Mother's Day with things like, "This is good for doing the dishes" and "This is for hugs & kisses" written on them. Cute. And I'm sure her teachers meant well. It's just that I didn't realize that the popsicle stick stems were stuck in a cup full of dried beans. My preschooler set it on the seat and we went merrily on our way. We even ran several errands. It wasn't until we were almost home that I took a corner a bit fast and the beans went flying everywhere. Everywhere. When I saw them fly across our minivan I said to myself, "And that, is a Happy Mother's Day to me." Beans all over the car, that I'm still vacuuming out a month later. What fun.

Oh well. Happy Mothers Day still and Happy Father's Day, too. May you get grills and tools and ties, instead of messy minivans. 

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Yesterday was the birthday of writer Nikki Giovanni who said:

"I resent people who say writers write from experience. Writers don't write from experience, though many are hesitant to admit that they don't. I want to be clear about this. If you wrote from experience, you'd get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy."

Now, mull that over. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cake & Dreams

In college I read the poem "Questions of Travel" by Elizabeth Bishop. There is a line in it that has haunted me ever since I read it:

"Oh, must we dream our dreams and have them too?"

I'm still trying to figure out what, for me, is the answer to that question. Is it like having your cake and eating it too?

Today I got a phone call from a high school friend. We haven't talked in a while. (It's amazing how much more interesting your life sounds when you're summing up two years worth of living.) She said the one thing she admires about me is that whenever she calls to catch up, I'm always pursuing my dreams. Hmmm. Am I? 
I hope so. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Who I am.

I loved this quote so much I put it on a bookmark.

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."  ~Emma Goldman

I'd change the word "roses" to simply "flowers," because I love more than just roses: tulips, daisies, lilies of the valley, lavender, well, I love all kinds of flowers. Then I was thinking this weird thing. I think if you knew just two things: a) that I love that quote and b) that I put it on a bookmark, well then you'd probably know almost all there is to know about who I am. 

Saturday, May 31, 2008


If I were rich I'd leave bigger tips.

Many years ago my husband and I went to dinner with Doug. Doug was married to my husband's cousin, Jill, before she died from a brain tumor. In his mid-twenties, Doug was adjusting to life as a young widower with a new baby. He'd been working for a while at his first job since graduating from college. For the first time in a long time, Doug seemed good. 

We went to Ruby River in downtown Salt Lake City and we arrived just minutes before closing time. Our waitress was very annoyed, especially after we ordered only an appetizer to share and dessert. Our bill was not large. When the bill came, Doug paid (for us, too, I think) and then left the waitress an extremely generous tip.  Her tip was over 5x what we'd paid for dinner. We left. We were still in the parking lot when she ran out to tell us there'd been a mistake with the tip.
"There was no mistake," Doug said. Then he smiled, "have a good evening." 
She was shocked, but she did mumble a genuine "Wow, thanks."
In the car, Doug smiled, "I've always wanted to do that," he said. 

We then drove to the hospital where Doug's good friend from high school was dying of pancreatic cancer. He and his wife asked Doug for advice on losing one's spouse while their two toddler boys climbed on the bed rails and pulled on IV lines. 

Sitting there, amid the heartbreak it was nice to know that the waitress, at least, had had a good night. 

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Shout Out

I'm giving a big shout-out to my sister-in-law, Kaylee, who won the Idaho 4A girl's state title in the 3200 meters. (That's the two-mile, for those of us like me, who can't remember). We're so excited for her. She's worked very hard. We're so proud of her, win or lose, but I'm sure she's just ecstatic to have won. Way to go Kaylee!! 

(After you follow the link you have to scroll down to Session 3, #3 Girls 3200 Meter Run 4A to see her name and time in print, but there it is!)

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Lynne says in her comments that I haven't been writing enough. Lynne is a dear, dear friend, who is also sometimes mother-like to me. She knows I need both a friend and a mother. Sometimes she is one and sometimes the other. She knows just what to be in the right moment. After my Mom died, there were several people who volunteered to sort of "be there" for me when I felt I needed my Mom. Most were women in my ward at church, or friends of my Mom. All meant well, and I love seeing them, but none are continually in my life enough to be that person for me. Very likely, there is no replacement for one's Mom. But I have cherished friends who are there for me. Lynne is one. My mother-in-law is wonderful. I have two great friends in my neighborhood: Lauren and Janet. And, of course, my sister, Jenny (Too bad, we live far away from each other). One thing about all these women: they all serve those around them in remarkable ways.

My own mother hated Mother's Day. She said it was a day that reminded her of all her inadequacies. She had few. My mother-in-law claims my Mom was a saint. She probably was. But my mother-in-law fails to see her own wonderfulness. I watch her serve her family, her neighbors, friends, and strangers. The same is true of my sister Jenny and my friends Lynne, Amy, Janet, and Lauren. They are all kind, and generous, and true (which according to Winston Churchill is all you need). I learn a lot from each of them, just as I learned a lot from my own mother. So Happy Mother's Day. All I ask is that you follow the link below and read this poem which I love, love, love. I can't copy it here because I don't have permission. But go read it and think about it and have a Happy Mother's Day.

The poem is by Julia Kasdorf and is called "What I Learned from My Mother."

And now Lynne can be happy that I at least wrote something. :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I regret one thing about Jr. High. OK, probably more than one thing, but there's one thing I still remember and I still wish I could change it.

I was on the yearbook staff in 7th grade. I liked it. It was fun. I liked learning about publishing, layout, and design. It was something I thought I was good at. I was very particular, a perfectionist, really. This was before the days of computer layouts. Instead, I drew everything that would go on my assigned yearbook pages on graph paper with a pencil and ruler. I was meticulous. My pages looked perfect. I checked and double checked them with the photos that would coordinate to the boxes I'd drawn in. I made sure everything was cropped perfectly and corresponded to it's assigned square.

I turned them in. Everything went in without our names on them, because the pages were to appear exactly as they would in the yearbook. I had a partner in yearbook. She did half the pages in our section, I did the other half. She was not meticulous. She was always late. On the day our pages were due she asked me if I'd turn them in because she didn't have time. I took them to our teacher. On the way I noticed they looked terrible. Nothing was measured. She'd haphazardly drawn what looked like ovals (not boxes) to represent pictures. The frames were supposed to be numbered with the picture that belonged there. Hers weren't. Oh well. She'd done a terrible job. It wasn't my problem. I'd done a beautiful job on my pages. I turned hers in.

I'd applied to be on the yearbook staff again the next year. It wasn't until weeks and weeks later when the staff list was posted and I wasn't on it (and my partner was) that I realized the teacher had probably thought my pages had been her pages and that her pages had been the ones I'd done. I was sick, not only because I wanted to be on the yearbook staff again, I also felt bad that the teacher had thought those terrible pages were mine. Did I do anything about it, though? No. I did not. I was shy and timid and not at all assertive then. I'm not really sure I've changed a lot since that experience. I'm probably still shy and timid and not assertive. 

Maybe it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Maybe it would have. I'm currently wishing I'd taken some graphic design classes. I'm wishing I'd done a few things differently. I'm not sure how we overcome mistakes we've made or regrets we have. Right now, I'm not sure of anything. 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Writing Contest

I entered an essay contest at "Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative" in February. Winners are supposed to be announced today. I got on their website: no winners posted. Yet. But I did see that I am a finalist!!! Yeah. My entry falls into the "flash" category, which means the essays are all under 1,000 words. (Mine was about 500). They are giving away three prizes of $100 each. There are five finalists. I hope my chances are good. I could really use $100. And some validation that maybe, just maybe, I'm a real writer. Winners will be announced here sometime today. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Birds and Tulips

"Keep a green tree in your heart, and perhaps the singing bird will come." -- Chinese Proverb

I spent $3 on this little bird. No job, no prospects and I still bought it. So unlike me, who tends to be conservative in even the best of times. It makes me smile. It gives me hope. It helps me keep a green tree in my heart. It reminds me that spring will surely come. Surely? 

Even though my tulips are covered in snow, I dreamed last night that they were tall enough to pick. Tall enough to put in a vase. The day is coming. It's just not here yet. 

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Angels

I never believed in the Easter bunny. The concept seemed too weird, even for my overactive imagination. I knew the candy we found Easter morning came from my parents. Some years there was an Easter dress. Some years not. Most of the time their were things like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, or a new jump rope. 

I know that my own kids adore Easter. Isn't everything exciting when you're a kid? They've been looking forward to it. I, however, have not. With my husband out of work, we're trying to spend as little as possible. I had bought a couple bags of candy while he was still working and figured that would have to be it. 

Last week, however, my in-laws showed up. My mother and father-in-law brought candy, new dresses,  etc. (and etc. They do spoil their grandchildren). My sister-in-law, a college student, had spent some of her own money buying them stuff for Easter. I found that quite touching.  

Then yesterday (Saturday) we get a bunch of doorbell rings. I thought it was the kids. About ten minutes later we find a note on our door. Someone had a left an Easter basket for each of my kids in the yard. What fun! They spent the rest of the afternoon playing with the toys and eating the treats from their basket. I'm still sort of emotional about the whole thing. I've wondered who it could have been that did that for us. When I asked my kids who they thought it was they both answered, "It was the Easter Bunnny!" 

Of course. That's what the note said. I never believed in the Easter bunny. But this Easter, there are Easter angels. Thank you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Writing Exercise (Visualization)

Before the big breakdown and my husband lost his job, I was taking a writing class. That was back when I thought we could afford such things. I enjoyed the class. As part of the class, our teacher, Randall Wright, (author of Hunchback, A Hundred Days from Home, and The Silver Penny) gave us a writing exercise. It was a visualization. He had us close our eyes and walk into the woods. We came to a clearing. Then we were to write what we saw. Later, we added a smell and the emotion of sadness to the scene. Here's what I wrote.

A halo-shaped light shines through the trees into the clearing. The way the light filters and dances reminds me of what I’ve read of fairy rings and magic mushrooms. Walking through this forest, one can almost imagine that all the folktales are true: stories of little men and houses hidden in tree stumps. Fairies, maybe, woodland creatures that talk, and animals with magical powers. But then the light shifts and the magic is gone. I am old enough to know it was never there in the first place. There is only a part of me, tiny as a fleck of dust, that wants it to all be true.

            Those dreams of childhood that smell of strawberries and cream have dampened with age and cynicism. The air here smells both hearty and fruity, like rhubarb; tartness that all the sugar in the world won’t sweeten.

            I look again at the light dissolving. The halo that welcomed me has left. The shadows play alone. I turn to leave. I will never come here again. Not because I can’t, but because, like me, it will never, ever be the same. 

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Swimming Lessons

My daughters are currently taking swimming lessons. They are loving it. Swimming lessons are at 4:30 p.m. twice a week. 4:30 p.m. Late afternoon. At 10:00 a.m. on swimming lesson day, my youngest comes up to us, (her parents). "Is is time to go get sissy (her sister) from school so we can go to swimming lessons?" Did I mention it was 10:00 a.m? I turned to my husband, "It's going to be a long day." And it was.

Strange behavior considering I hated swimming lessons as a kid. I think hate is perhaps not a strong enough word. I detested swimming lessons with every part of my body and soul. When I was very young, my mother would take us to her sister's house where we would stay and take swimming lessons during the week and she would come get us on the weekend. I think our small town, swimming pool-less as it was, did not offer lessons. 

My cousin Rich had the job of getting me ready for swimming lessons each morning. I remember having a brown swimming suit. I think it had owls on it (it was the '70s, mind you). I have distinct memories of running away from my poor cousin, Rich. I remember hiding in his closet and under the bed while he held out my swimming suit, hoping I'd get into it willingly. No chance. 

Funny too, that I eventually learned to swim and today it is one of my great enjoyments in life. I swim laps from time to time with my friends Lauren and Janet. The friendship is great. The swimming is wonderful. Go figure. 

Friday, February 29, 2008

Things fall apart

I say right there on my profile that sometimes things fall apart. I'm in one of those places, where everything is in pieces. I don't really feel like posting. And I hope you will all forgive me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I've been absent from my blog because my Dad got married on Thursday (Valentine's Day). The wedding ceremony itself was good but it was sandwiched by lots of stress. I'll have to write about it sometime, but not now. Not yet.

I think weddings in general must be stressful. When one of my best friends from high school (Melody) got married she asked me and our friend Syndee to be her bridesmaids. I went with my Mom to get fitted at a bridal store where Melody was renting dresses. The woman at the store took one look at me and declared me a size 5. (She was the expert. She fitted dresses for a living). My mother assured her that, being well-endowed, I would not fit in a size 5. Of course, I had to put on a size 5 to prove to her that while the rest of my body fit, my chest did not. The dress would not zip up. 

I put on the next larger size, a size 7. It fit perfectly. She made a note in her book and then "humphed." "I was so sure she was a size 5," she told my mother. "It's the bust," my mother explained. 

On the evening of the wedding reception Syndee and I showed up at Melody's house. The dresses were laid out on her bed. We picked them up. We looked at the sizes: size 5 and a size 3. "What size do you need?" I asked Syndee. "A 5," she answered. "But the lady swore I would fit in a 3." Hmmm. Go figure. Obviously she sent the sizes she thought we should fit in. 

My Mom came in. As an expert seamstress she removed the darts and unpicked just enough that I was able to squeeeeeeeze into a size 5 and Syndee was able to squeeeeeeze into a size 3. We took only shallow breaths and didn't eat a thing. It was an uncomfortable night. 

We were young and wanted to go immediately and tell Melody of our dress disaster, but my Mom stopped us. "Don't you dare tell her," she said. "It's her day, it's her wedding. As far as she's concerned everything is perfect." So we never told her, and it was a beautiful evening. She was happy. And as soon as the cake was cut, we were back in jeans and t-shirts. I hope she never wondered why. 

(disclaimer: maybe I fit in a 9 and she sent a size 7 and 5, I don't remember. All I know is that I'd love to fit in any of those sizes now :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Let us eat cake.

I have a friend named Lynne. She's actually the one who pestered me to start a blog. Lynne is extraordinarily funny, only I don't think she realizes that she is. I am not a funny person. At all. I love that I have Lynne in my sometimes lonely life. I treasure her friendship for a million reasons besides the laughs. But oh, how I love the laughs. If you need a laugh, you must go to her blog and read this entry. It's about cake. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Claim to Fame

Six months ago, if you googled my name, it would come up on the very first page. I think it still might but it's creeping further down the page. Soon it will be gone completely. The reason it even comes up is because of this essay:

I wrote it about my Mom and it was published last year in an LDS literary journal. I'm linking it to my blog as my claim to fame. OK, that, and I haven't written anything else lately. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Summer Girl

My daughter's friend wasn't allowed to play yesterday because "she didn't zip up her coat." 

On the other hand, there's my four-year-old daughter. A few days ago when it started snowing she pounded on the window; she was so angry. She told me she wants winter to be over because she wants to go to the pool. To get in the mood, she's been wearing her swimsuit in the bathtub. She's also been wearing sunglasses, even though the days are cloudy and overcast. 

When I told our neighbor she said, "Well, she's such a summer girl. She's always in skirts, even in the winter. I've even seen her barefoot in the snow." 

Yep, that's my girl. Today she was leaving the house in a pair of strappy sandals. It wasn't until she noticed the snow was about four inches deep that she returned inside for her boots. She still wore a short skirt. And a coat? Well, it wasn't "zipped." I carried it for her, just in case she'd need it. 

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I have had singing

“As long as we live, there is never enough singing.”  -- Martin Luther

 There is singing in our house again.

 My husband has a bachelor’s degree in music. You’d think, then, that there would always be music in our home. In many ways, I suppose, there has. But for many years, it was sort of the begrudging kind. At certain times of the year, my husband would spend hours on the computer listening to snatches of choral arrangements in an effort to select music for his choirs. At other times, if he found himself humming a tune at dinner, he’d seem annoyed at himself for bringing his work home. It was as if teaching music for a living stole away his love of music and turned it into a chore.

Two years ago, my husband quit teaching music to try something else. I’ve missed going to his concerts. I’ve missed the music; my husband doesn’t even sing in the shower.

 A few months ago he started teaching our daughter piano and voice lessons. In January, he started teaching voice lessons to a girl in our neighborhood. Ever since, there has been singing. Two weeks ago he spent $58.61 on three books of vocal music. He brought the books home and sang through all the arrangements. I really should thank them for asking him to teach their daughter. Because of it, he is excited about music again.

Because of it, he is singing. 

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Buttered Up

My youngest, who is four, did the funniest thing today. You know those things that you think you will always remember but then, if you don't write them down, you forget. It was one of those things.

She leaned over to my cheek and kissed me ten or fifteen times in rapid succession. When she was done she looked up into my eyes and said, "There. You are all buttered up." 

It was adorable. I wonder if it will still work when she's sixteen. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Santa Claus

This morning my seven-year-old daughter asked me where one might buy colored pencils like the ones she got for Christmas. They were in her stocking. They are short with lots of colors and come in a cardboard tube.

            “I don’t know,” I replied.

            “Can you buy them at a store near here?” she asked. 

            “How would I know?” I replied, “Didn’t Santa bring them?”

            She looked at me with a big sneaky grin on her face. I knew then that she knew.

            “Don’t you believe in Santa anymore?” I asked her.

I had thought maybe she’d figured it out. On Christmas morning, when she opened what she’d really wanted—a Barbie with a jumping horse—she came and gave me a big hug and said “Thanks.”

Santa had brought it.

            “Well,” she answered me, “On Christmas our presents had tags on them. ‘To: _________, From: Santa.”

            “Yes,” I acknowledged.

            “Well. . . before Christmas I found those same tags under your bed.”

Let’s just say, I’m not the world’s best hider of secret things. And she’s a fairly smart girl.

            Apparently, one of her friends at school loves her colored pencils and wants to go buy some for herself.            

            “So, where’d you get them?” my daughter persisted.

            “At a store in Boise, the same store I bought the pencil sharpener you wanted,” I replied, not even trying to convince her I was just “helping” Santa.

(The pencil sharpener, by the way, is the shape of a dog. To sharpen the pencil, you put a pencil in its mouth and turn its tail. It’s ears bob and the shavings go into a little drawer that you pull out and empty. It’s very cute).

            We don’t live close to Boise, Idaho, so I’m afraid her friend is out of luck.

            I still remember when I learned the truth about Santa. I was young. I must have been very young because we moved when I was five and in my memory we are still in the old house, the house before we moved. My sister, who was a year and a half older came into our room one night and said, “I know who Santa Clause is.” It was either just before, or just after, Christmas.

            “I know who he is, too. He is fat and wears red and lives at the North Pole,” I answered.

            “No. That’s not true. Mom and Dad told me,” she said.

            I don’t remember caring much, or maybe it was more than my brain could handle, but when I seemed not to be very interested in her new secret, she said:

            “I’ll give you a hint: it is someone you know.”

            How could Santa be someone I knew? He was fat and wore red and lived at the North Pole. Honestly, at this point in my life, no other option had occurred to me. I was, however, suddenly very interested in who Santa might be. I spent what seemed like a long time guessing everyone I knew. I didn’t know a lot of people at that age: I guessed all of our neighbors, the man at the grocery store, the postman, and people who went to church with us.

(Somehow I was still believing that someone in our neighborhood lived a life incognito: had reindeer, delivered gifts all over the world, and maintained a secret identity in our small Idaho town. After all, the North Pole was probably an awfully cold place to really live).

“Nope. . .no. . . not them,” was all I kept hearing from my sister every time I made a guess. Finally, I was down to the last person on earth: Alvero Jones. He had to be Santa Claus! He didn’t look like him, but he went to our church and, to me, he seemed like a cheerful, jolly, and kind man.

            It wasn’t him either.

            Finally my sister just broke down and told me: “It’s Mom and Dad, silly. They buy the gifts. They set them out for us. They are Santa Claus.”


            It did make sense. It really did. But somehow I found myself disappointed. I hadn’t been ready to know the truth—not yet.           

            There was no one Santa Claus. There were millions of them. Every Mom and Dad. Of course the world worked that way. Of course there was no such thing as magic. I knew it in that moment, and in all my years since, I’ve never forgotten it.



Monday, January 14, 2008

Climbing Mountains

I am married to a man who loves to climb mountains. I imagine that thinking about climbing mountains occupies more of my husband’s time and mental capacities than he’d dare admit. I don’t understand why he loves climbing but I think he has his reasons.

Sir Edmund Hillary said, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” I think this is one reason my husband climbs, but there must be many, many more. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Mt. Everest, died on Friday. The sherpa that accompanied him, Tenzing Norgay, died many years ago. They both spent their lives giving back to the mountain people of Nepal, using their fame to raise money for roads, schools, etc.

I sometimes accompany my husband in climbing mountains, though I prefer mountains that require little or no technical skill. Even so, there is something to be learned from the ascension. I love this statement from Rene Daumal:

“You cannot stay on the summit forever, you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. On descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”



Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How long must we mourn?

My mother died five years ago. She was 52. I was 28. It was not enough time to learn all that I wanted to learn from her, but enough time to learn a lot of things. I still repeat her mantra of “sugar, shortening, dry ingredients” whenever I make cookies. I think of her every time I change my sheets because she taught me how to make a hospital corner. (Although I still can’t remember which way I’m supposed to tuck the sheet).


Our friends invited us over for Christmas Eve dinner. (They are always doing nice things for us). I volunteered to bring a jello salad. My husband wanted to know why I would volunteer for jello. He doesn’t like jello and I never make it. I volunteered because, growing up, my Mom used to make a jello salad for Christmas Eve dinner. It was red and green and had a layer of pineapple, cream cheese and whipped cream in the middle. It did look rather festive. My Mom would serve it on a bed of shredded lettuce and we’d always make fun of her for it. We aren’t a family that is into the art of presentation.


I bought all the things I thought I’d need but when I went to make it I couldn’t find the recipe. I called my sister in Georgia: she didn’t have it. I checked my files again: nothing. I searched online: nothing like what my Mom had made. I began to wonder if the recipe had died with my mother. It wouldn’t have mattered much: we only ever had it at Christmas and, even then, it was met with mixed enthusiasm. But, oh, must we mourn that loss, too? The loss of the recipe for Ribbon Jello Salad? Just when we thought we were done mourning?


I finally called my Dad. He looked through my Mom’s recipe file. It was a sweet thing for him to do. It was sort of like the night I called him at 3:00 am because my daughter had a high fever. Somehow I thought he could help. He couldn’t, but he’d wanted to. Maybe that’s all that mattered.


He did find the recipe, though. “It calls for marshmallows,” he said. “I remember her making it with marshmallows once,” he said, “but she didn’t like it with marshmallows. It’s better without them.” It sounded like he misses her. We all do, even if we don’t particularly miss her Ribbon Jello Salad.

Incidentally, mine didn't work out at all.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Skookies & Cream

Tonight is Monday night. In the LDS church, that means it's family home evening. Now don't get me wrong. While we are devout Mormons, family home evening is not something we're good at. At all. While it's a great concept, it's sort of like flossing: we know it's good for us, we just don't do it as often as we should.

Tonight, though, we actually had family home evening. We forgot the prayer and there was no lesson or singing of church hymns. Instead we played Operation. We got Operation for Christmas. As a child in the 70s, I loved Operation. I loved how Cavity Sam's nose would light up like Rudolph's and you could make tiny sparks by touching the metal edges. I was always best at removing the butterfly from the stomach. Even tonight, it gave me the least amount of trouble.  My seven-year-old loved Operation, though perhaps not quite as much as a co-worker of my husband's. (He has the Operation game pieces tattooed on his own corresponding body parts). My four-year-old didn't enjoy it as much. The buzzing noise and light-up nose scared her so much that she spent most of the time curled up next to me. She watched intently, but kept her distance and flinched every time the game buzzed. 

After the game, we ate Skookies. We received a Skookie set from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas. We love it. It's been so fun. Tonight we had a brownie skookie topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce. Delicious. I see that they even have heart-shaped skookie skillets. How fun would that be for Valentine's Day? 

Overall, our attempt at family home evening was a success. Skookies, ice cream, and Operation. Not bad, not bad.