Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Stark Contrast

Last night I had to explain the word "executed" to Jack. As in, "We have a confirmed report that Saddam Hussein was executed fifteen minutes ago."

The news this week is filled with death. Saddam Hussein. President Ford. James Brown. The family from Cedar Hills, Utah, that was lopped in half by a drunk driver (the mother and two children were killed, the father and two other children survived).

While reporters are recounting the atrocities Saddam Hussein committed during his lifetime and interviewing people who are either celebrating or utterly indifferent to his death, they are recounting wonderful things about Gerald R. Ford, James Brown and the family from Cedar Hills, who has expressed an amazing spirit of forgiveness toward the man who shattered their lives.

In this new year (and forevermore), may we all strive to live our lives doing lots and lots and lots of good and very little harm.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dog + Breath

Ah, another proud parenting moment. We're sitting in church yesterday and Jack is busy writing on a yellow pad. I look over and read "dog + breath = dogbreath."

I choose to see three good things about Jack reflected in this: (1) he's becoming a very good speller, (2) he's been doing really well in math and clearly recognizes the elements of a sound equation, and (3) he values having a sense of humor.

I'll miss seven-year-old Jack when he turns eight.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Don't Call Me Sweetie

The other day Jack had a couple of friends over, and I happened to call him "sweetie" in front of everyone. He just glared at me and very firmly said in a low voice through clenched teeth, "Don't call me sweetie."

It's so fun to watch him grow up, but gosh darn it, moments like those are a kick in the gut.

For some random reason I was thinking recently about what it would be like to be in a witness protection program. What it would mean to give up so many things that our lives are built on, like family and friends. And what it would feel like to go by another name.

Roger has always said that he doesn't feel particularly attached to his first name. I don't think I'd have a problem calling him something else.

I've always had such an unusual name--Margy pronounced with a hard G. I never knew exactly what a "Margy" was supposed to be like. Growing up I sometimes wished I had a "normal" name. In second grade I tried turning in my homework with my then dream name, Kathy, but my teacher turned it back to me and said she would not give me credit until I put my proper name on it. I've grown into my name over the years, so it would be strange to go by something else. But I'd adapt.

Jack, however, is a different story. When we went to the hospital to meet him for the first time, we brought along two possible names: Jack if we thought he could live up to it and Stephen if we thought he'd appreciate us playing it on the conservative side. When we looked into his eyes for the first time (well, one eye, then the other, and then finally both at the same time), we knew he was Jack.

I cannot even begin to imagine what we'd call him if we couldn't call him Jack. Sweetie is apparently no longer an option.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Winter is most definitely upon us. We're covered with snow. We've got our Christmas tree up. We're stocked up on hot chocolate.

This morning on the way to school, Jack and I watched the digital thermometer in our Jeep drop from the twenties as we pulled out of our garage to 14 degrees.

After I dropped him off, I headed to the grocery store and the thermometer dropped to 11 degrees. As I made my way to the store across the windy parking lot, I realized that I was whining to myself. What a wimp I am!

I'm so lucky I can shop for milk and eggs in a heated grocery store and drive them home in a heated car. I'm lucky that I can buy plenty and store them in a refrigerator so I don't have to do this again for another week! I'm lucky I got to sleep in until nearly 8:00 this morning. I wasn't up at 5:00 a.m. milking cows and feeding chickens! I'm lucky that I've only ever read about people doing things like that, curled up under warm blankets with books like Little House in the Big Woods!

As I drove home through the farmland south of us watching gusts blow snow from the fields across the road, the thermometer dropped to 5 degrees. I thought about the pioneers who settled the west and how they're probably looking down at whiners like me and laughing so hard they can't breathe.

I think I'll go toast Laura Ingalls Wilder with a cozy mug of cocoa.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Time Lapse

I'm not exactly sure where the last week and a half went! I'm not complaining at all about not having a strict work schedule, but it sure makes time management harder. I think I have all of the time in the world to get things done and then *poof* the time disappears.

Apparently I can no longer get a book finished before book club. All of a sudden it's midnight the day before Thanksgiving and I'm scrambling to get the house clean in order to host 22 for dinner. Stacks (of what?!) are accumulating on my desk. And don't even get me started on how easily things slip my mind these days.

It's all starting to hit the fan. I've got to get organized!

With Roger working, it's up to me to step up and get more things done around the house. Like changing lightbulbs and learning how to use the snowblower. And out of respect for him (and for the fact that he is working full time and going to graduate school and I'm doing neither of those things), I find myself wanting to make sure the house isn't a total mess when he gets home.

As of last Sunday, I've got a new job at church. No more teaching one lesson a month in Relief Society (the women's organization). A job, by the way, that I loved! I am now the secretary for the Primary (for children 18 months to 11 years). That involves keeping track of things on a regular basis. Which I'm fully capable of doing if I put my mind to it. I've just got to actually put my mind to it.

And a few days ago I got a call from a well known international company that is based here in Utah to ask me to bid on an editing project. If I get the job, I'll be absorbed in it for the next couple of months. Who knows, it might lead to more exciting things!

Yeah, I've got to get on top of things!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


One of the things that I truly worried about when we closed the bookstore was that I would lose my friends. Not like being dropped in junior high school, but like I just wouldn't really see anyone much anymore.

I spent my days at the store having great conversations with so many interesting people, including our employees (who were all really friends first, employees second). Customers became friends. Friends from other parts of my life could drop in anytime, unannounced. And because the store created such a great social network for me (heck, we even had our own evening entertainment with our concerts!), I got terribly lazy about reaching out and planning ahead.

In the first couple of months after we closed the store, I really teetered on the edge of isolation. I did make a point of calling friends, making plans, doing lunch, sustaining at least some of the social momentum I had enjoyed through the store. But I also found myself not wanting to impose. You know, people are busy. And if I call any particular friend too often, she's going to start thinking I'm a little needy, or maybe a little nuts.

I think I have officially turned the corner on this whole issue the past few weeks. I suddenly feel well established in friendships that perhaps were based on the networks created by the bookstore, but now exist as entities in and of themselves. I have also found new and strengthened friendships in my neighborhood.

I am astounded by the opportunities I've had recently to connect on really meaningful levels with amazing women that I so enjoy. And this may sound a little corny, but it really reflects how I feel so I'm just going to say it. I have been reveling in this sisterhood. Absolutely reveling in it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Quality of the Pancakes

Just got back from a matinee with some friends (ah, the life of leisure, at least between 8:30 and 3:00). We saw Stranger Than Fiction and it was as fabulous as I hoped it would be. I'm even going to add it to my favorite movies in my blog profile.

Some of the best casting ever. A buttoned-up Will Ferrell as an IRS agent, Maggie Gyllenhaal as his leftist baker love interest, Dustin Hoffman as a literature professor/lifeguard, Emma Thompson as a writer with decade-long writer's block and Queen Latifah as the "assistant" sent to Emma by her publisher to help her finish up her latest manuscript.

Some of the best lines ever. Dustin Hoffman (loosely), "It depends on the quality of life versus the quality of the pancakes." Okay, so maybe the line isn't so funny without the context and delivery. You just have to see it for yourself.

You rarely meet a comedy like this. There are so many quirky details and layers and symbols that made me laugh out loud. It's another Joe vs. the Volcano for me. And just as with Joe vs. the Volcano, I think that all of the reviewers who are panning Stranger Than Fiction because they think it's trite or predictable or that the humor fell flat really just didn't get it. They didn't get it at all. Maybe they don't read enough.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Today is the first day of the first full week of our new "real" life. Roger went off to work this morning at 7:30. Jack to school by 8:30. Time for me to step up and start using my time more wisely.

Among other things, I have some happy errands planned today.

First, I am going to take a book to my friend Angel, who is starting back at her job as an elementary school librarian. She's really, really hoping it won't be too much for her because she really loves it. But she is struggling with cancer and recovering from a stunningly invasive surgery. We became friends through the book store, and I don't want to lose touch with her. She has always been an amazing example to me of good karma--instinctively generous and enthusiastic in a way that creates a sense of abundance everywhere she goes. And getting sick doesn't seem to be getting in the way of that, which I have to believe bodes well for her future health.

Then I am going to go over to help my dear right-brained friend Tina tackle a project. She went through her whole house and organized everything. The problem is that anytime she couldn't figure out how to handle something, she just put it in their extra room. And now she has to face that room. I'm going to go give her some moral support, maybe a few ideas, and then treat her to lunch if she'll let me.

After Tina, I'm going to take a book to my friend Linda. She recently joined one (yes, I belong to more than one) of my book clubs and I'm so excited she's going to be a part of it. Linda was one of our very first and also one of our very favorite customers at the Read Leaf. Over the years we've weaseled our way into her family. We hired her daughter Shelley to work at the store (we actually plotted to hire her from the time she was 14 or 15 and did when she graduated from high school!). We hire her son Andy to babysit our Jack (they're serious soul mates). I consider Linda a friend for life. We just might have to change our last name to theirs to make the adoption final!

After visiting Linda, I'm going to go pay nearly $2,000 to get our Jeep, along with it's new transmission, out of the shop. Okay, maybe that errand isn't nearly so happy.

Here's to a brand new week bursting with plans!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Post Script

I realized that in my last post, I may not have made it clear that believing in God and practicing my religion has involved experiences that I can only describe as spiritual. And faith affirming.

Times when I have felt the part of me that yearns to connect to God. That the feeling is more than wishful thinking--it's deep and instinctual and I believe it is an integral part of my spirit.

Times when I have known that something more significant than coincidence or good fortune or anything I had control over was guiding events in my life. Adopting Jack--and I mean specifically Jack--was one of those times.

Times when I have been inspired to action and times when I have gained greater insight about something I haven't understood.

Times when I have been restless or angry or lost but chose to turn to God and as a result felt peace and comfort.

Believing in God can't be just an intellectual endeavor. It truly requires a leap of faith into the intangible realm of the spiritual.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Spiritual Journey So Far

This is going to be one of my longest posts ever, but if it interests you I hope you’ll keep reading. I debated about separating it into multiple posts, but decided that the benefits of including it all in one shot outweigh the drawbacks of being longwinded. You can always read it in bits and pieces if you’d like.

So here it goes.

I spend a good portion of my time and energy focused on spirituality and religion. Which is funny, because I don’t really consider myself to be particularly inclined toward religion. But I was born to parents who are and so it naturally became a part of my life too. Specifically the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the LDS or Mormon Church). My parents joined when I was five.

Some of you are vaguely familiar with the LDS church and will read this because you know me and are interested in knowing me better. Some of you are members of the LDS church and will hopefully be buoyed up by the thoughts that I share here. Some of you are probably wondering why a seemingly intelligent person even believes in God, never mind a religion as wacky as Mormonism.

Over the years I have really grappled with the idea of God and a life that extends beyond death. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to live in a world that was created by a loving God and to believe that we are all here on purpose rather than the alternative. This may sound paradoxical, but the world—especially all of the ugliness—makes a lot more sense to me that way. I know that a lot of scary and just plain irritating things have happened in the name of God and religion. But I absolutely reject that as a reason to not believe.

I don’t come by my faith easily. I have very deliberately chosen to believe in God and to exercise faith accordingly. And I have found that as I exercise my faith, I understand more about spiritual things. It gives me a great sense of peace and hope.

Why have I stuck with the LDS Church? Without meaning any disrespect, I find all religions “wacky” in the sense that they all require a suspension of disbelief. Burning bushes? Being raised from the dead? The devil? But the more I learn about core LDS doctrines in plain terms, the more I get it. And I recognize that the narratives and symbols and ceremonies that can seem wacky on the surface are elements that help people connect to a spiritual dimension that we can scarcely conceive through earthly eyes or describe with our limited language.

Here are some of the LDS doctrines that appeal to me:

  • Agency. No one can be compelled to believe in God and the gospel of Christ and follow its teachings. We must be able to choose our faith freely or it serves no meaningful purpose.
  • Christ’s atonement. The “radical” interpretation that the LDS church teaches makes more sense to me than other interpretations I’ve heard. Our eternal life is dependent upon both the grace of Christ’s atonement and the way we move through this life (our works).
  • A living, involved God. We believe in a living God and in living prophets and in a restored priesthood (the power to act with the authority of God through the inspiration of the spirit of God—a power used, by the way, to serve one another, not to exercise dominion over one another). We believe in personal revelation—we can ask God ourselves to help us find truth and direction. We can seek the companionship of his spirit.
  • A literal Heavenly Father. We are spiritual children of God and we existed before we were born. We have been given our bodies so we can become more like him (we were, after all, created in his image). We are here on earth to tap into that part of us which is divine. Our job is to learn how to use and, yes, enjoy our bodies in a way that is integral with our spirits, our divine nature.
  • The nature of sin and repentance. No matter how much we humans, including us Mormons, continually want to reduce it all to a list of objective and measurable dos and don’ts, we miss the point if that’s what we focus on. Commandments are there for our benefit, not God’s—they are designed to help us progress spiritually and to keep us from doing spiritual damage to ourselves and others. At the heart of it we need to understand on a very personal level what draws us closer to God and what puts space between us and God. We try to think and act in the ways that draw us closer to God, understanding that we will sometimes (often?) fail. And when we do, we choose to once again draw ourselves closer to God through repentance. It’s not about hellfire and damnation, rules for rules’ sake and God exercising stern judgment and power over us. It’s about our spirits growing up, gaining control over ourselves and fulfilling the measure of our creation.
  • Eternal progression. Growing closer to and becoming more like God is not just a life-long process, but continues after death. While we take the spiritual state we’re in with us when we die, we are not stuck there for eternity.
  • Opposition in all things. We must know darkness to know light. We must know sorrow to know joy. To progress we risk double-edge swords everywhere. For example, the agency that is fundamental to our progression can also be used to perpetrate great evil. You can’t have one side without the other.
  • Harmony between science and religion. We believe that God is subject to natural laws and that he didn’t create the world out of nothing; rather, he organized existing matter. We also believe that we are meant to learn as much about the world around us as we can. We humans have figured out how to observe with our senses and we’ve developed scientific method. I think God’s pretty proud of us for figuring out as much as we have so far, but I also think we’ll be amazed at what we can learn if we don’t limit ourselves to our five physical senses. For example, I personally don’t see a conflict between the theory of evolution and creationism. I just don’t think we see the whole picture yet.

While I’m open to learning truth anywhere it can be found, I refuse to get caught up in worrying about the “dark side” of the LDS church. I believe Mormons are human beings with all that entails for good or bad. I’m also pretty skeptical of anything I can’t judge for myself (either by witnessing it or being able to judge a witness). Think how often you read something in the newspaper these days that you know to be patently untrue or skewed to achieve a particular agenda.

Church founder Joseph Smith never professed to be perfect and said that he wouldn’t believe his story if he hadn’t lived it himself. None of our leaders past or present claim infallibility nor do they claim constant, crystal clear communication from God on every little matter. And any church, especially a new church with a completely lay ministry, is going to draw its share of incompetents and nutcases who may well work their way up the ranks before anyone realizes what they’re dealing with. Even then, God loves and wants to include people no matter how incompetent or nutty they are.

I choose instead to focus on my own personal spiritual journey and being actively involved in the LDS church helps me to do that. While I am not privy to the inner workings of, say, exactly where our tithing money is spent, I daily witness the rubber hitting the road—neighbors helping, loving and praying for one another and meeting together to worship and learn in a building that can only exist because we have paid our tithing. We certainly aren’t perfect. In fact, even our chapel with its random heating and cooling system isn’t perfect. But the more of us are striving to become better people and to draw closer to God.

Our idea of spiritual progression involves a lot of struggle and learning one thing at a time. If all of the church’s leaders and members and policies and procedures were immediately and permanently made perfect the instant the church was organized, that would defeat the whole reason we’re here on earth.

And if my spiritual experiences have been imagined and none of it’s true? I’ll never know—I’ll just be dead. But in the meantime, I’m living a life in a way that makes sense and really matters to me.

Friday, November 10, 2006

An Office with a Window

Jack and I went to see Roger in his new office today. He started his job at the BYU library yesterday and, except for the part where he has to wear a tie (!), we're all really excited for him. Everyone we met this afternoon is very happy he's on board.

His office--a true office, not a cubicle--is in the library administration office suite where the director's office is. He's across the way from the accountant and the guy who schmoozes with big donors. And he's got windows that look out into the atrium. Even though he's a floor down from ground level, he gets natural light and a view of the mountain tops.

And a related sidenote on why good parenting is so very, very important:

On the way to BYU, I explained to Jack that we needed to hurry a bit in order to meet Dad's boss because she was leaving at 4:00.

"She?" said Jack. "You mean Dad's boss is a girl?"

"Sure she is."

"But boys are supposed to be bosses, not girls."

I'm sorry, what??? How on earth did Jack get an idea like that? Especially since his very own mother (who happens to be a girl), has pretty much been a boss his entire life? (Though in his defense, we never actually used the word "boss" at the Read Leaf.)

Needless to say, we had a good little conversation at that point.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Maryann's Blog

My sister Maryann is currently living in Buenos Aires--writing, studying Spanish, drumming up a fair trade business with local artisans. Oh, and hanging out with her gorgeous guy Juan Pablo. Basically living the kind of dream few of us have the guts to live.

I've put a link to her blog over there on the right hand side of the screen so we can all live vicariously through her.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Day

I hope everyone enjoyed their right to vote yesterday!

Full disclosure before I offer two observations: I'm a somewhat cynical (but not irreversibly so) independent who doesn't believe either the Republicans or the Democrats have the corner on right thinking or moral high ground. I think it's dangerous to reduce virtually all issues to the liberal-conservative continuum--we seem to lose our humanity in the process. I'm all for taking the best that both parties have to offer to create solutions that will be good both in the short term and the long term. But of course, that requires thoughtful consideration and genuine discourse. It's sure easier to argue in sound bites and become increasingly polarized.

First, I am energized by the fact that the Democrats handily won the house and possibly the senate. I'm not sure much will actually change with the new balance between our executive and legislative branches (although who knows? Rumsfeld is a pretty significant casualty). But what thrills me is that maybe we've made progress in breaking the cycle of voter apathy. It feels as though voters really exercised their power in this election, and it hasn't felt that way in a long time.

Second, I am once again dismayed by the nearly complete lack of opposition to the Republican party here in Utah County. A majority of the local "races" consisted of Republican candidates who were running unopposed. And some of those Republican candidates were selected by a few hundred people at convention rather than facing off in primaries. It's scary living in a place where the two-party system is essentially defunct. Ah well, in Utah people can vote straight party at the beginning of the ballot, so maybe most of us didn't even notice.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Jedi Jack

A little late, but here is Jack as Obi-Wan on Halloween. He was absolutely thrilled, if not a bit itchy, with this amazing Jedi robe with an amazing it-takes-a-village story behind it.

For weeks, it was a toss up between Darth Maul and Obi-Wan. Then Jack said he had decided, but I didn't know (or maybe hear or remember), which character he decided on. Every time I asked him, he was offended that I didn't know--"Mom, I already told you!"--and refused to tell me again.

The day before Halloween, I figured out a new tactic. "Jack, what do you need to have for your Halloween costume?"

"A brown robe." Ah, Obi-Wan. Yikes, a brown robe??

We checked a few stores. Not surprisingly, no luck. I called my sister-in-law Carol. She had a black robe. I called my friend Linda. She had a black robe, but if we had brown fabric she could easily make a brown robe (and I must say, easily is a very relative term!). I called Carol again. Yes, she had brown fabric. In fact, she had several brown fabrics Jack could pick from!

The instant Jack found out burlap was an option, he said that's exactly what he wanted. We took the burlap over to to Linda's house and spent the next couple of hours visiting with her while she fashioned a robe that totally hit the spot.

As we drove home to show the costume to Roger, Jack and I talked about how generous Carol and Linda were and how we'll need to look for opportunities to do good things for them. Or even better, for their children.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Turning Points

I've got a gazillion things to write about, but need to focus just now on a bit of good news for our family.

Roger was offered and accepted a job that he's really excited about. Starting Thursday, he'll be doing PR for the library at BYU, promoting special events and other projects the library is involved in. Basically his job is to celebrate all of the cool things the library does, especially for special collections. I think the library is very lucky to have him!

It will be an adjustment for our family after years of being our own boss, and Roger has a huge amount of work ahead of him with a masters program and a full-time job. It will be good for me to have a bit more pressure to step up and make sure that things are running smoothly here at home.

My trip to San Francisco--which included lots of good conversation with two friends (who I now consider to be two very dear friends), lots of good sea air and ocean views, lots of good food, and a good chance to connect with a cousin who lives there--represented an important turning point for me. I am choosing to make it the closing parenthesis on my post-Read-Leaf wallow.

I am now officially looking foward, not backward.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Off to San Francisco

I'm heading out for a long weekend to San Francisco and a dose of the Pacific Ocean with friends Linda and Lisa. And I'm feeling only a minor twinge of guilt about leaving the boys behind. They're all stashed up with Halloween candy, a case of microwave popcorn from Costco and all six Star Wars movies on dvd. They'll hardly know I'm gone :).

I'll post a picture of Jack in his Halloween costume when I get back. Right now, I've got to wrangle him to bed. Nothing like a sugar high on a school night!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Rush Theory

I don't follow Rush Limbaugh so I don't know how often he makes comments on the air that really cross a line, but I have a theory about his recent comment claiming that Michael J. Fox exaggerated his Parkinson symptoms to play on the emotions of voters in Missouri.

What if Rush is actually a closet supporter of stem cell research? To maintain his appeal to his audience, he can't exactly come out and say that. But in an absolutely brilliant move, he was able to throw a huge spotlight on the issue of stem cell research and specifically on Michael J. Fox, who rose to the occasion gracefully and articulately.

You go, Rush!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Sunday Ritual

Every Sunday morning while Jack's in the tub, I watch This Week with George Stephanopoulos--interesting political interviews, lively round table discussion about current affairs, all with an overall sense of trying to get to the core of things without being divisive.

One segment of the show--In Memorium--has become a ritual for me. Each week, In Memorium includes a list of the names of US service men and women who died in Iraq. Each week, I make a point of reading each of those names and thanking them in my heart for their sacrifice.

I have never been able to understand why we invaded Iraq. From the beginning I felt uncomfortable with the single-mindedness of our government, which seemed to lack an understanding of human nature. The only thing that gave me a glimmer of hope that we were on some sort of "correct" course was when Colin Powell-a man I would have gladly voted for if he had run for president--addressed the United Nations. I thought maybe the government really did have some substantial knowledge or insight the rest of us didn't have. Hmph.

It's not just lost lives that weigh on us. A couple of years ago, a man came into the bookstore with his daughter. His wife had asked him to pick up a book for a friend of hers. He was having trouble remembering what the book was, and I said he was welcome to use the phone to call his wife. He said that would be impossible because she was stationed in Iraq. I asked him how long she'd been there, and he said ten months. I looked at the little girl, who could not have been more than a year old, and my heart ached because she didn't know her mother and her mother didn't know her.

Regardless of whether invading Iraq was right or wrong or somewhere in between, what's done is done, and our job now is to find the best solution and move forward. I have to remain optimistic that it will all get sorted out, hopefully for the better. I have to remain optimistic because if all of these lives (American, Iraqi, British, etc) have been lost or changed forever in vain, what will that mean to us? To our humanity?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hark! A New Goal

I'm very, very good at setting goals and very, very bad at following through. Maybe I should really just refer to goal setting as dreaming dreams. Anyway, I've decided to set a new short-term goal that I believe I can and will accomplish.

I took piano lessons on and off while I was growing up, and never quite internalized the whole concept of practicing. I'm pretty sure I drove my mother nuts with my noodling. If and when I actually did play the music I was supposed to be practicing, I would play it fast when it was supposed to be slow or loud when it was supposed to be soft.

As a result, my repertoire is very spotty, and does not include any classic Christmas carols. So, by Christmas Day I intend to master the following Christmas carols: Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, Joy to the World, The First Noel, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Angels We Have Heard on High and Away in a Manger.

You all can check up on me if you'd like, but you might get roped into a sing-along!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Funny Jack Story

Roger: "It's time to go to school."

Jack: "One moment" (his current and consistent response to any request to change course or hurry up).

Roger: "No more moments. It's really time to go."

Jack: "Aaaghh! There are BILLIONS of moments. Why can't I have just one?!"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

IKEA Buddies

Ooh yeah, I saw the new IKEA store going up in Draper on a trip to Salt Lake City the other day. The company announced its plans nearly a year ago, and now it's finally happening!

Ever since I heard about the new store, I've been lining up "IKEA Buddies"--friends who I can call at a moment's notice to make an IKEA run. Let me know if you'd like to be on my list!

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Closed Door

Jeepers, it's been such a struggle to remember that it was the right decision to move on from the Read Leaf. It's so hard to get past it when there are daily reminders of what we gave up. And, frankly, even though I'm trying to do lots of other good things, I feel so adrift. I'm trying hard not to fall into a full-on depression.

Mom is visiting from Massachusetts, and I told her that pretty much every time I'm out and about, I run into someone who is sad that the Read Leaf is gone. Just to prove the point, we ran into one of our old customers at Deseret Book in Provo yesterday, who said she really missed us. I asked her what her book club was currently reading. She said they're reading Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman, the Springville Reads city wide book club selection this year. She hadn't gotten a copy of the book yet, and wondered if Deseret Book had it in stock. I said, "Oh, let me check the shelf for you. You know, for old time's sake." They didn't have it in stock. Sigh.

Last night Jack and I were finishing up one of the latest Magic Tree House books, Night of the New Magicians (which, by the way, is a fabulous series). The kids in the book end up in Paris during the 1889 World's Fair and meet Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Louis Pasteur and Gustave Eiffel. Each of them explain the "magic" behind their scientific and engineering breakthroughs.

I am taking the words of Alexander Graham Bell as a sign. Or maybe a kick in the pants.

"When one door closes another door opens. But we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Funny Jack Story

The other day Jack and I were reading scriptures together, and we came to a passage that talked about how God has always existed and will always exist. I told Jack that it's hard to get our brains around that concept because on earth everything has a beginning and an end.

Jack thought about that and then said, "We're in the middle, aren't we?" Then he paused and said, "Well, you're more in the middle than I am."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The day started with a call from one of our book store customers trying to track down information for an upcoming project. I just feel this deep, deep sadness that I'm on the "outside" now.

Then I got a call from Jack with a request to pick him up from school. He was awake for hours during the night, which is highly unusual. He tried really hard to fall back asleep but it took him a long time. He's also been really snuffly. The call was not unexpected.

After we got Jack home, his PE teacher called. Jack and his good buddy have apparently been having trouble participating in the class. So the school has decided to switch Jack out of the class to separate the two of them. After I got off the phone, I started to get a little hot under the collar that the school decided to change Jack's class (he'll now be taking PE with older kids) without even telling us there had been a problem.

The next phone call was the school secretary, wondering if we knew where Jack was because he didn't sign out. His PE teacher was in the office, frustrated that he had spent his prep time looking for our son. He got on the phone. I asked him if he could hold off switching Jack out of the class for a couple of weeks to see if we could help him step up. Basically, he said it wasn't our choice and the school wasn't even going to tell us about the change but thought twice and that's why he had called earlier.

I'm sorry, but if our son is having trouble in a class, shouldn't we be kept in the loop? Apparently, I'm going to be one of "those" parents.

And the rest of the day has just been one thing after another. Like milk spilling in the car on the way home from the grocery store. And when I went to help in the school library, I saw a Barnes & Noble bag full of recent releases (again, I'm on the outside now). Nothing big, just par for the course.

At 7:30 Jack and I settled in to get his homework done. He brings home a book from the take-home library every night that he's required to read out loud. We both just laughed when we pulled today's book out of his bag and it was a copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


A few weeks ago we drove up to Cascade Springs and were surprised to see a moose! In the past 25 years I've only seen three other moose in Utah (and can I just say it is a bit scary to think that I came to Utah for my freshman year 25 years ago!).

The first moose I saw in Utah was on a drive on the Alpine Loop up above Sundance. We were entertaining a business associate visiting from Minnesota. Then, amazingly, the second moose I saw was the very next day up Hobble Creek Canyon entertaining the very same business associate.

Two moose in two days! I figured it had something to do with the fact that we were with a Minnesotan. Maybe Minnesotans attract moose.

Years later, Roger and I were invited to play golf at the Hobble Creek golf course. I'd never played golf before. Just as I swung back my club to tee off for the very first time in my life, Roger said, "Look, there's a moose!"

I thought he was trying to be funny. You know, to psyche me out. He said, "No really, look!" I looked up and sure enough, there was a moose taking a drink from the pond about a hundred yards away. Apparently he's a fixture at the golf course.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Being Good Stewards

As a liberal arts graduate, I have little hope of wrapping my brain around the science of global warming. I am not equipped to really evaluate complex and conflicting reports of how much, how quickly and why global warming is occurring.

I do, however, know one thing for sure: Human beings, including and especially Americans, are not very good stewards of the earth.

Regardless of whether we have any control over global warming, we've got to make changes. Governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals all need to pay more attention to long-term priorities (preserving our natural resources) instead of routinely succumbing to short-term priorities (ease, bottom line, re-election, etc.).

I just came across what I believe is one of the most important ideas Thomas Friedman puts forth in his book The World Is Flat. On page 368 (in the 2006 updated and expanded edition) he talks about how Kennedy's push to put an American on the moon was not just about a space race, but more importantly about a science race and ultimately an education race. Having the vision of a moon landing enabled our country to buckle down and achieve a large-scale push in science and engineering, which is something we need to do again if we hope to achieve continued economic success in a flattening world.

Friedman continues (and stick with me, this is worth it!), "If President Bush is looking for a similar legacy project, there is one just crying out--a national science initiative that would be our generation's moon shot: a crash program for alternative energy and conservation to make America energy-independent in ten years. If President Bush made energy independence his moon shot, in one fell swoop he would dry up revenue for terrorism, force Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia onto the path of reform--which they will never do with a $60-a-barrel oil--strengthen the dollar, and improve his standing in Europe by doing something huge to reduce global warming. He would also create a real magnet to inspire young people to contribute to both the war on terrorism and America's future by again becoming scientists, engineers and mathematicians. 'This is not just a win-win,' said Michael Mandelbaum [a John Hopkins foreign policy expert], 'This is a win-win-win-win-win.'"

And not only all that, Mr. Friedman, it's simply the right thing to do.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


The whole time we owned the bookstore, we didn't have an internet connection at home. Now we not only have an internet connection, we're wireless. Last night we hung out in bed with Roger's laptop surfing YouTube until 1:00 a.m. Yeah, we've got a life!

To see the video that made us laugh the most, click here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Singing in the Rain

Fall weather has hit us hard this past week. Lots of rain and much cooler temperatures. I'm mourning the fact that I've had to wear socks. I need more sandal weather before the snow flies!

Last Friday night Roger and I went to an outdoor concert at Sundance. One of our very favorite local musicians, Cherie Call, was opening for one of the big local musicians, Peter Breinholt, who we've never seen in concert. And another big local musician, Ryan Shupe, showed up to play a few songs and plug an upcoming concert. All in all, a very satisfying evening. We didn't even mind the fact that it rained the whole time because we brought a big umbrella and stayed cozy and dry!

These days we've got to make a point of paying attention and planning ahead to hear live music. No more bringing the music to us at The Read Leaf. All told, we hosted more than 100 concerts over the years!

Speaking of music, if you're not from my generation, you may be wondering where my new blog name came from. It's part of a line from one of my favorite songs, "What I Am" by Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians: "Shove me in the shallow water before I get too deep." You can listen to the whole song here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Parlez Vous Espanol?

Jack's principal recently told me that two families pulled their children from the school's new Spanish program. Their argument was that people who move here should learn English, and most of "them" shouldn't even be here anyway. So there's no reason for their children to learn Spanish. Period.


Politics aside, what kind of shortsighted message are these parents sending their children? It's so frustrating when people exhibit such ethnocentric attitudes, especially when they actively pass those attitudes on to the next generation.

It reminds me of a joke Dad told me last summer:

Q: What do you call someone who speaks two languages?
A: Bilingual
Q: What do you call someone who speaks more than two languages?
A: Multilingual
Q: What do you call someone who only speaks one language?
A: American

In my perfect world, children will grow up believing that anything they can do to reach out to other people is worth doing. And like it or not, in our little town and many, many towns across the country, learning even a little bit of conversational Spanish is a fabulous way to reach out to others. Period.

Here's a perfect example: A few months ago, a man named Oscar came into the bookstore. He really didn't speak any English. Guess what he was looking for? CDs that would help him learn English! I really struggled to help him, wishing I knew more Spanish. I showed him the Spanish computer course I'm working my way through. His eyes lit up, and he wished me well. It was a very good feeling, connecting with him as a fellow human being and sharing a mutual respect.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


All of the school libraries in our district are standardizing on a new computer system. Some of the schools, including Jack's school, have never had their libraries computerized at all. Shocking, I know. But at least we're moving forward now!

I'm going to be helping Jack's school librarian, Jean, get her books entered into the database, but her computer system isn't quite up and running. So I called my friend Angel, one of the other school librarians in town, to see if I could help her out. Her library has been computerized for a while now, but I know she has stacks of books to enter because she stopped by our bookstore clearance sale more than once!

It felt so good to get up and out of the house to meet Angel at her school and get started doing something useful. There are a few weird design flaws in the system, but overall it's fairly simple to use and I made a visible dent in her stacks.

And now when Jean calls to say she's ready for me, I'll already know the system!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Random 9/11 Memories

Watching the news unfold on one tv, while 2-year-old Jack innocently watched Sesame Street on another. I was overwhelmed by the feeling that he would be growing up in a very different world than I had.

Doing business over the phone with people all over the country in the days that followed was charged with this sort of electricity. We rarely talked about what happened, but the mutual grief and shock seemed palpable over the wire. The customer service rep at one small publisher headquartered just outside New York City was so thankful that I called to place an order a day or two after 9/11. They were terrified that their business would come to a grinding halt.

Waking up on 9/12 and seeing the flags that the local boy scout troop placed in each of our yards. My emotional reaction caught me off guard--I'd never really put much thought into what the flag meant to me. What it meant to me that day was that we were all in this together and that we would all pull through it together.

The flags are flying in our yards again today. Even though the veneer of our unity has cracked over the past five years, I still believe that at the core of it we'll all move forward together and triumph in the ways that truly matter.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


One of my favorite sounds I have heard lately is my neighbor Merlene talking from her front door to various friends. I can hear her through my open bedroom window.

Merlene has a solid reputation as a talker. When you say hi to her, it's just a given that you'll be engaged in conversation for at least half an hour. As far as I can tell, everyone in the neighborhood knows that she loves us all and she'd do anything for us. Over the years she's given us lots of great advice, especially about growing things in our garden. We've seen her more than once giving other neighbors tours of our garden, as proud of us as anything for producing a few tomatoes and squash.

A few months ago she found out she had cancer. She's been going through treatments that haven't had much of an effect. A few weeks ago, she and her doctors decided they had to step up the treatments and be scare-the-wits-out-of-the-tumor aggressive.

Across the street from us lives Joe, father of three children all younger than our Jack. Over a year ago he was diagnosed with colon cancer and given exceptionally daunting odds. We've watched him lose far too much weight, and we've watched him walking in tremendous pain after multiple surgeries. Last week he announced that according to the results of a very sophisticated test, he is officially cancer free! He could barely speak he was so overcome by the relief from uncertainty.

I know that Joe's cancer has nothing to do with Merlene's cancer. But maybe Joe's triumph is giving Merlene hope. While I don't have any recent details about how Merlene's stepped up treatment has been going, I consider the sound of her voice through my bedroom window a very good sign.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Was It Real?

Today I drove by the building where our bookstore was. The new owners have been doing some renovations. We're especially excited to see what they do to replace the cottage cheese wall on the south exterior.

They've taken out the whole front of the store--windows, walls, front door, everything. All that was left was a big gaping hole! It was totally surreal.

Yesterday a friend asked me how I was doing with the whole thing, and I told her that I've entered this weird phase, not quite believing The Read Leaf ever really existed. Sort of like Bob Newhart waking up next to Suzanne Pleshette and telling her that he had this weird dream about being married to someone else and owning an inn in Vermont.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It's Not Like I Didn't Do Anything

I meant to start being truly productive today. For the past couple of weeks I've piddled about, getting projects done here and there, but mostly going easy on myself, regrouping from the last few months. I kept telling myself I'd kick into gear the day after Labor Day.

Well, apparently here's my definition of kicking into gear:

I had to yank myself out of a sleep that felt drug-induced when the alarm went off at 7:50. Helped Jack get off to school. Watched some US Open tennis. Fell back asleep. Woke up a bit later. Watched some more tennis.

Finally decided I needed to get something to eat. Watched Rosie O'Donnell's debut on The View while I ate breakfast.

Had a fit of productivity for a few hours, during which I primarily did paperwork and a teeny bit of housework.

Went to the bank and then picked Jack up at school at 3:00.

Decided I wasn't up to a tennis lesson. I'm not feeling really well--achy, scratchy throat, cloudy brain--maybe allergies kicking up? Maybe an excuse for the balance of the day?

Other than making sure Jack got his homework done, was fed, and was read to for about half an hour before he fell asleep, I didn't do a whole heckuva lot.

I did watch Katie Couric's debut on the CBS Evening News. And, despite the fact that I have no less than two dozen books in progress on my nightstand, I started reading the following:
  • The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman, who, by the way, was interviewed by Katie Couric tonight on the news. I need to read this book by the end of the month for a book club discussion. It's very readable, but also very long so I thought I'd better get a head start.
  • Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, which I've been wanting to read for a long time and Roger just finished it so it was sitting out and I picked it up. Love it, love it!
  • The Book That Changed My Life ("must-read books that transformed 71 remarkable authors") edited by Roxanne Coady and Joy Johannessen. This book comes out in October and I've got an advance reader copy--boy, am I going to miss advance copies!
I must say, it feels very good to read whatever I want and not be thinking in the back of my mind, "Is this a book I can recommend to customers? If not, should I be spending my time reading it even if I'm loving it?"

Maybe productivity is in the eye of the beholder? Well, at least I blogged today.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Orator

Disclaimer: The camera Roger took this picture with is so small that it fits in an Altoids tin and slips in his pocket. We're pretty sure that if the camera is that small it isn't too distracting to take pictures while church meetings are in progress. Of course there was the time Roger took a picture of his sister Carol giving a talk and he forgot to turn the flash off . . .

Despite the fact that Jack folded his talk into a paper airplane while he was sitting in the front waiting his turn, he did a fabulous job delivering it in Primary last Sunday (Primary is the name for our church's Sunday school program for children ages 3-12). Jack is very good at speaking clearly and pacing himself well when he's giving talks.

Jack's assigned topic was how we can learn from people who set good examples in scripture stories. While we were preparing his talk, I asked Jack what his favorite scripture stories are. He said he liked the battle stories the best. There are a lot of battle stories in The Book of Mormon, especially in the book of Alma which is where Jack and I are in our reading together.

Scriptures are sure full of gory, sordid stories. I've always wondered why, and am now convinced that they are there in part to suck people in. If you can suck people in with a sensational story, maybe you have a chance of teaching them important principles, like "love one another" or "it's all bigger than this life on earth and you can have hope that it'll all be good, even after the darkest days."

Anyway, I sort of pulled a fast one on Jack. One of my favorite scripture stories is about a group of people who, when they learned about God and Christ and began to believe, decided to bury all of their weapons and never wage war against anyone again. So, weapons were involved, but I slipped a sound message of peace into his talk.

A memorable Jack story from the past: A couple of years ago Jack's assigned topic was on choosing the right. When we wrote the talk we included examples from our lives about the consequences we face when we make choices that aren't so good. Like how we might be grounded from friends if we don't get a job done. When Jack was giving his talk and got to that part, he happened to look up and caught a glimpse of Roger sitting in the back row. Jack stopped, pointed an accusing finger at his dad and said, "You! You're the one who does that to me!" Every grownup in the room just lost it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Brand New Office

I'm blogging at this moment from my brand new office in our basement! For a basement office, it is exceptionally bright and happy and inspirational.

Lime green walls, crisp white trim and crisp white furniture, a few red accents here and there and a bit of black. Lots of bookshelves and file drawers to help get me organized. And a fabulously clear desk space to spread things out on.

I'm in heaven and starting to find some ground under my feet all at the same time. I hope I get lots of wonderful projects done in here!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Luncheons, Teas and Little Women

In between painting sessions, I've been living a very pretty life this week.

On Wednesday I went to book club at Virlie's house and she had put together a full-blown tea party in her backyard, complete with daintily arranged tarts and a collection of her mom's antique tea cups. Perfect weather, good friends, great discussion about books and about life.

On Thursday I went out to lunch with Linda, Shelley and Lisa. After lunch we stopped in at the Flower Basket, owned by Lisa's cousin, to check out their gift boutique. Lots of fun, eclectic, European things. Then we went to give Shelley a tour of Lisa's new house--craftsman style with lots of dormer windows and cozy nooks and pedestal sinks. They even have a secret staircase to the attic hidden behind a built-in bookshelf!

As a backdrop to it all, I've been re-reading one of my all-time favorite classics, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (which we discussed at book club along with March by Geraldine Brooks, one of my very favorite contemporary novels). It's actually the first time I've ever read Little Women as an adult and it's felt good to hang out with my spirited old friends.

I grew up a town away from Concord, where Louisa May Alcott lived the longest, in an old house that existed when she was alive. I must have read the biography we had of her a dozen times, imagining that she surely knew the people who lived in my house and called on them at least once or twice and breathed the air within our walls.

I know I'd have invited her over for tea! Can you imagine the conversation we'd have?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pigs Are Flying

The most amazing thing happened on Tuesday after my tennis lesson. You may not think much of this, but I was absolutely astounded.

I was the only person who showed up for the lesson on Tuesday so Jack joined me on the court. He's a brand new player, and he had a great time hitting balls with a borrowed racket. He asked me if we could go to Target to get him a tennis racket when we were done.

As we drove to Target I explained to him that he could check out the toy aisle, but because we were getting him a tennis racket, we wouldn't be buying any toys. He said that he had to check out the Lego. Can't go to Target without checking out the Lego.

When we got to Target we picked out a racket and a can of good tennis balls. Then we headed over to the toy aisle.

We were half way there when Jack stopped and said, "Oh, let's just go home so we can practice tennis." I asked him if he was sure he didn't want to check out the Lego and he said, "I'm sure. Let's go." So we went home and hit some balls.

I'm pretty sure pigs have started flying.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Finding the Right Color

I'm digging my way out of a few days of being grumpy--a horrible head cold, that time of the month, lack of sleep, and having to paint over a horrible flourescent yellow on my new office walls that really, truly looked like a lime green on the paint sample. Also, Roger didn't get the job he interviewed for (in fact, they didn't hire anyone and we suspect political in-fighting among the decision makers possibly due to a better qualified internal applicant that they didn't want to promote).

Well, my cold is almost gone, no more cramps (is that too much information for a blog?), I'm feeling better rested, and I think I've nailed the color on my office walls (Sweet Spring, A30-5 from Ace Hardware).

Things are starting to look up again.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Johnny and Benny

Johnny and Benny are Jack's good friends from the "old" Read Leaf days. Their parents run the China Cafe next door and they've basically grown up spending time with us. Even though they're all different ages, they have spent many happy hours hanging out together, making up games to play, hunting for bugs, trying to nail me with water balloons.

When we told Jack that we were selling the store, the worst part for him was that he wouldn't be seeing Johnny and Benny every day.

We asked their parents if they could come play at our house, and we've set up a regular Wednesday visit. Nowhere near the amount of time they've been together these past years, but hopefully enough for them to keep up their friendship. The boys are here now. They're all building Lego ships in preparation for a battle and they sure sound happy!

It's a little funny but really nice having our two worlds collide like this. Johnny and Benny have been to Jack's birthday parties here at the house the past few years, but other than that they've only played together at the bookstore and the restaurant.

We've enjoyed our association with their parents as business neighbors despite language being a bit of a barrier. Their dad doesn't really speak any English at all, but is very friendly. Their mom speaks more English and we talked with her pretty much every day, but not about anything very personal. Neighbors on Main Street, but our families are really a world apart in a lot of ways.

Maybe it's because there's a bit of a cultural divide between our families that I hope the boys' friendship will transcend geography. But mostly it's because Johnny and Benny have been like Jack's big brothers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

First Day of School

Jack's off at his first day of second grade!

This is a big year for him. The school he goes to starts subject rotation in the second grade. He'll have seven different teachers (language arts, math, science, social studies, PE/health, art/music, and Spanish) and he has to remember to go to a different classroom at the start of school every other day. Luckily they are right next door to each other!

School will also be a big adventure because they're going for one year to the old middle school while their building is being torn down and rebuilt. We went to the back-to-school open house yesterday and spent an hour just figuring out where to go and meeting all of his teachers!

Needless to say Jack isn't all that excited about going back to school ("Summer vacation was, like, only five days long!"). I'm sure he'll adjust, but I'm tired just thinking about how many more years he's got!

The other day I tried to appeal to his values in an effort to get him more excited about school. "Jack," I said, "Do you know that there's a direct relationship between how much education a person has and how much money they make? The more education, the more money."

"Well, I'd rather be uneducated and stupid and poor."

That about sums up a seven-year-old's capacity to envision the future!

Monday, August 21, 2006

One Loose End Tied Up (at least for now)

The past 36 hours have been quite a ride for me and Jack and his pet lizard.

Late Saturday afternoon after Jack's friend had to go home, we went out to run some errands and go out to dinner. When it came time for bed, I went into Jack's room to feed his fish and turn out the lights on lizard's tank. Hello! No lizard.

"Jack, did you and Brett have the lizard out this afternoon?"
"Did you put him back in before we went to run errands?"
"Uh, I don't think so."

I was about as tired as I've ever been and trying really hard not to be angry. I asked Jack to put on his pajamas and brush his teeth and then help me find the lizard. After a minute or two I realized he wasn't doing as I asked (which, by the way, has been our ongoing issue lately). He told me he just had one thing to do. I warned him that I was already angry and didn't want to get angrier.

Turns out the one thing he risked my wrath to do was to say a prayer, asking God for help in finding his lizard.

I immediately start praying in my mind, "If there's ever a time for a boy to learn that God wants us to turn to him in times of trouble, this is it. And p.s.: I really, really need a good night's sleep and I will definitely sleep better if I'm not worried a lizard will crawl across my face in the middle of the night."

Within five minutes we found the lizard. Coincidence? Maybe.

Fast forward to the next morning. Jack gets the lizard out of the tank and takes it downstairs to watch some tv. I go down a few minutes later to make him some breakfast.

"Um, Jack. Do you know where the lizard is?"
"I don't know."
"Then turn off the tv and start looking."

I look over at Jack and he is on his knees saying a prayer. Again, I immediately start praying in my mind, "If there's ever a time a boy needs to know that prayer is not a magical solution to fix the consequences of being irresponsible, this is it. Please help me to handle this situation wisely."

We looked for five or ten minutes without turning up the lizard. Jack started getting really worried. We talked about his responsibility for taking care of the lizard, how he'd made a mistake by not keeping an eye on him, and that there was a good possibility we might never find him.

I suggested that Jack think about how he made a mistake and what the consequences were. And then he might want to pray again, this time expressing that he was sorry he'd forgotten his responsibility. He went to his room for a while. I could hear him crying and wrestling with the whole situation. It was all I could do to let him work it out for himself.

We went to bed last night with no sign of the lizard. It was Jack's turn to say a prayer. He asked for forgiveness for making a mistake and then immediately asked that the lizard would be safe whether we ever found him or not. I was really proud of him for clearly realizing that his actions put his lizard in danger and that he was more concerned about the lizard than he was about his own feelings.

I held a prayer in my heart as I fell asleep last night and when I woke up this morning. "If there's ever a time for a boy to learn about the power of repentance and forgiveness, this is it. And p.s.: I'll feel a whole lot more comfortable knowing where that lizard is."

A few hours later I was emptying the dishwasher and saw the lizard crossing the kitchen floor out of the corner of my eye. I called for Jack and he got the lizard safely back into the tank, where he will stay untouched by human hands for at least a week!

Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe not.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

At Loose Ends

Day two without the store. I'm not even sure what to think or feel.

Yesterday I felt free, but I also had some plans so I wasn't completely at loose ends. A very good strategy. Today my plans to hook up with a friend fell through, and I had no backup plans so Jack and I have been hanging out. And I've been seriously at loose ends.

I went grocery shopping yesterday morning morning and bought all kinds of healthy, fresh stuff excited that I would actually be home to eat it. I've been living on takeout sandwiches and salads for about two months now.

Then in the afternoon I took Jack and his friend Rex swimming at the reservoir in Spanish Fork (the only place I know of here that actually has a sandy beach for them to play on). Except for a week at Lake Geneva, I have offered Jack very little summer and it felt good to have time to take him swimming.

I was insensitive enough to ask Roger yesterday morning if he felt the same freedom I was feeling. He just stared at me. Then he reminded me about a job interview he had at 1:00 and his pending trip to Alabama for an intensive four-day class kicking off his masters of library science program. No breaks for him at all!

His job interview, which was actually a call-back interview for a librarian position at a great library, went well he thinks. They want to have a decision made by Monday. It would be amazingly serendipitous if he gets the job. Starting salary is respectable, good benefits, fabulous experience. But of course, we really shouldn't count our chickens, eh? If he doesn't get the job, at least he knows he's a serious contender for a position at that level.

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I am actually writing this at home! We have totally wrapped up things at the store and have moved everything home, including my computer. And man, are we ever tired!

We've got a lot of work ahead of us to get everything organized here. Right now our living room and dining room and garage are stuffed full with bookshelves and books and office stuff and all sorts of odds and ends.

Our basement is nearly finished, but not quite ready for furniture. Last week we had carpet installed. I hadn't done all the painting I meant to get done, so I had to scramble and at least paint all the baseboards. Roger got the ceilings done, but I still need to paint the rest of the trim and all of the walls.

When Jack starts school next week (no, he is not thrilled about that), I will get to work painting. In the meantime I have absolutely no ambition to get anything done. If I do anything productive at all in the next few days, it will be not be deliberate.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Final Payroll

It's somehow very comforting that our final payroll came to $713 and some change.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Baby Update

We got a call from Jack's birth mom yesterday afternoon, and she delivered a healthy baby boy this past Monday. I'm sure it was really hard for her to call, and we're so glad she did!

She's still really conflicted about what to do about keeping the baby. She's trying to work it out with the baby's father but isn't sure she can. But she really wants to try.

She's planning a trip to Utah in about a month, and we're looking forward to meeting the baby and seeing her oldest daughter again. It wouldn't surprise us if planning a trip a month out is her way of giving herself a timeframe for making a final decision about the baby and his father.

She's also been toying with the idea of moving back to Utah. From our perspective that's a fabulous idea because Jack will be able to spend more time with his siblings. And if she decides in the end to place the baby with us, she and her daughters will be able to spend more time with him.

What we hope for more than anything is that she can make a decision she feels at peace with. We'll be fine either way, especially because she wants Jack to know her other children. And we trust the baby will be fine either way, because if she decides to keep him with her she will do everything she can for him.

We just let her know that we are there for her.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Last Day

No regrets.

Even though it's over, we are so glad we created something of value and shared it with our friends and family and community. The Read Leaf really was the friendly, magical place we hoped it would be.

Except for a few dozen power outages and the time a film company borrowed it for a movie set, our red leaf sign has been on continuously since we opened in January 1999. At closing time tonight we had a little impromptu ceremony and turned it off.

Then Jack turned it back on, and we turned it off. And then Jack turned it back on, and we turned it off again. So much for a sentimental moment!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Housekeeping Part II

So as I wrote a bit ago, we've been stacking things we're bringing home from the store in our dining room and not taking any time or energy to get Jack to pick up his toys. This time yesterday, except for the front room which we've made a point of keeping clean, the rest of the house was pretty much a disaster.

Then at 6:00 p.m. we get a call from our case worker at family services for our adoption approval. Can she come for a home visit at 9:00 in the morning?

After some scrambling it was all good, and we had a good visit with her this morning. The silver lining is that now our house (except for the dining room!) is all picked up and clean! At least for today.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Guilty by Association

One of the unexpected developments as we close down our business is that a few of the vendors with whom we have had good relations with for nearly eight years--and by good relations I do mean that we spent a lot of money with them and always paid our bill in full and on time--are treating us with suspicion.

They have made it very difficult to order from them in the past weeks, which is frustrating because we've been working on some large school orders that are independent of our physical closing date.

Now I totally understand that they want to limit their liability just in case we disappear off the face of earth, but we wouldn't and have never given them any cause to think that we would. They are suspicious of us because they have been burned by other businesses that have closed.

Guilty by association.

It makes me feel agitated and powerless and defensive. Going through this has given me just the tiniest taste of what it must be like to live with it all of the time, and it isn't pretty. I can only begin to imagine what it must be like to be, for example, an Hispanic in the U.S. with all of our immigration issues or a faithful Muslim in so many parts of the world. Wow.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Yesterday afternoon our electricity went out at the store for only a few seconds, but it happened while I was updating the sales file in our inventory database. And, well, you guessed it. The sales file fried. I've spent the better part of the last 24 hours working on (or thinking about how to work on) fixing it.

I am very pleased to report a victory!

But even as I struggled with something as frustrating as technology on the fritz, I once again tried hard to have perspective by thinking about others.

My niece Jenny was in the hospital having surgery today, all of us praying that the surgeon would find scar tissue, not another tumor. I'm happy to report a victory for Jenny!

My uncle John was scheduled to have some extra painful dental work done today. I hope he can report a victory as well, even if it is induced by pain medication!

Saturday, August 05, 2006


There's no question that ending a business that has been so fun and meaningful and satisfying is hard. Lots of work, lots of emotion, lots of uncertainty.

But it's really important to have perspective. Jack, for example, is really mad that we're closing the store, but I'd much rather have him learn about dealing with a hard change like this than with, say, a death in the family.

We're surrounded by stories about people going through really, really tough situations that I can't even begin to imagine dealing with. I'm not in Lebanon or Iraq or Darfour. I'm not a parent grieving for a murdered daughter or dealing with the aftermath of a fatal accident.

This past spring, my cousin's son Charlie was in a brutal skiing accident, and it will be a long road to recovery, including dealing with a serious brain injury. Last month I started reading the blog that his parents have been writing to keep family and friends updated on his progress.

What's amazing is that even through the worst moments and living with the highest degree of uncertainty about Charlie's future, my cousin and her family have drawn great strength from one another and are pushing forward.

Reading their story has helped me keep a bit of perspective in my life. Not that I don't do my share of whining, but I do spend more time keeping others, including Charlie and his family, in my thoughts and prayers.

We're rooting for you, Charlie!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Here Lies the Read Leaf

After a two month wake, we will be holding the burial on Saturday, August 12. That will be the last day The Read Leaf will be open at 164 South Main Street.

And you know what? I think I'm really, really ready for it. At least at this moment. I'm anticipating freedom and change. However, I reserve the right to lose it again.

Clearance is going well. People are spending lots of time browsing sections that have often been overlooked and are turning up lots of treasures. We've got great titles left, and we're dropping to 50% off lowest marked price (up to 75% for many titles) in the morning.

I've got specific plans for donating some of the books we'll end up with to causes we care about. BTW, I am not reacting well at the moment to vultures, er, I mean total strangers, asking for donations. And, yeah, I mean people who have never spent a dime or even set foot in our shop before!

Of course, many of the books will just end up on our shelves at home. The rest? I'm planning to sell them online at Alibris, which is a fabulous website for book lovers. So the spirit of The Read Leaf will live on!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Funny Jack Story

So here's a funny Jack story with a shout out to Nana.

Jack's cousin Jenny, who is in her twenties, was just here at the store and Jack asked, "Does Jenny study genealogy?"

Reaching Out

The power other people have to make us feel better never ceases to amaze me. So many times over the past weeks other people have come to my emotional rescue, often without even knowing it.

Roger has so often struck the perfect balance of level headedness and empathy when I take a moment to have a breakdown. He is exceptionally good at helping me focus on what's real or rational or important, while at the same time totally validating my feelings.

Jack gives the most satisfying, heartfelt hugs and he is very good company. I love ending every day laughing and reading with him.

Shelley has protected me from customer situations that on normal days would have been no big deal--and this whole transition hasn't been easy on her either! Virlie marched into my office on Tuesday when Roger and I were trying to figure out how we wanted to handle a particularly difficult decision, plopped a twenty on my desk and told us to go out for a long lunch on her and she'd handle everything at the store while were were gone. We were able to regroup and move forward because of that.

Carol brought me chocolate and listened to me. Linda has made all the right noises and adopted our whole family. She brought dinner over to the store the other night and our families had an impromptu party in the children's section. Carolyn let us crash a dinner party at her house (I swear they usually eat at 5:00 on Sundays and we didn't drop in until 7:30) and hang out with her fun friends from Denmark (which just fed my wanderlust). Diana and Rich took time out for us several times in the past week. We had lots of fun with them, and Jack was thrilled to hook up with their daughter Gracie, one of his best friends of all time.

Frankly, I could go on and on and I am so, so thankful for that.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Despite some valiant efforts on my part, I've had a hard time paying attention to anything that isn't a pressing need. Oh, say, like cleaning the house. We've turned our dining room into a dumping ground for things we're bringing home from the store, we have no energy to make Jack pick up after himself (and, believe me, that requires a lot of energy), and we're doing bare, bare minimum chores.

So imagine my surprise when we got home from work at 9:30 last night and instead of collapsing, I actually found myself dusting and vacuuming the front room! I think it was a major psychological turning point for me, being able to accomplish a task outside of the bookstore.

Hmm, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but maybe I'll clean a bathroom tonight . . .

Monday, July 31, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Rog!

On a much happier, more enduring note, Roger and I are celebrating our 16th anniversary today! There are many, many reasons why I'm glad I married him! We've been a good match through the years, and I think we're making a fine life for us and for Jack.

I sure love you, Rog. Happy anniversary!


I think the past two months of publicly dismantling our business has caught up with me. If I had to choose one word to describe the way I feel it's brittle. Like if someone bumps into me the wrong way I'm just going to break into a million pieces.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Yikes! 43 Years Old Today

A few years ago, I started a tradition on my birthday to help me feel like I was actually accomplishing something rather than just letting the years fly by. I started a list of unusual or particularly meaningful things that I had done over the years, and the number of items on the list has to match the number of years I've been alive. So every year I need to add one thing.

Things on the list include important milestones like graduating from college, marrying Roger, adopting Jack. I've also included things that make me seem more important than I actually am, like having dinner with the governor or having my picture in Business Week. I've included things that I loved doing, like becoming a certified scuba diver or going on study abroad to Paris.

I'm trying to decide what goes on the list this year. It might be going nuts and joining three book groups in addition to the book group here at The Read Leaf, but I'm not sure feeding an addiction qualifies as an actual achievement. It might be going to study Spanish with my sister in Mexico, but I don't really speak Spanish yet, so that one has to wait.

I think it might be starting this blog. It's a little thing in the whole scheme of things, but it's required follow through and that's something I can feel good about!

Friday, July 28, 2006


I'm beginning to get a sense of the weight that will be lifted from me when we no longer own the store. It's manifesting itself as I dream of traveling to far flung places nearly every night lately. I smell new adventures and freedom!

Here are just a few things I won't miss while I'm off exploring the world:
  • Enjoying an amazing book and then coming to a passage that means I can't freely handsell it in a market where the most often asked question is "Is there anything in this book that will offend me?"
  • Coming to work sick or reworking carefully laid plans because someone else can't work.
  • Telling Jack over and over and over and over that he has to wait because customers come first (not that it hasn't been good for him to learn patience on occasion!)
  • Cutting, pasting, typing, saying thousands and thousands of ISBN numbers. And I'm getting out of the business just in time--in January, ISBN numbers are changing from 10 digits to 13.
  • Serving customers who, for example, watch their child gnaw on a book and then leave without even offering to pay for it. By the way, I am exercising great retraint in providing only one example of the many varied joys of being open to the public.
I need a road trip!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

For Body and Soul

This morning I woke up early and decided to take a walk on the bike trail up Hobble Creek Canyon, which is about a mile from our house. Last summer I walked and ran on the trail nearly every day and felt fabulous! It wasn't just the exercise that made me feel so good--it was the sun and the fresh air and the connection to nature that did my soul a world of good.

This summer I've been on the trail quite a few times, but very sporadically. I plan to get back to making it a habit.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Jack Pics

Here's Jack with his two older half sisters, who came by with their grandparents on Sunday. So, so glad Roger's digital camera is working again!

News Coverage

Both major Utah papers, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, published articles this week about The Read Leaf closing. Reporters from both papers came to the store to interview us, and we are exceptionally grateful that they wanted to cover our story.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Set Back

We found out yesterday that Jack's birthmom has reconciled with the father of the baby she's carrying. We also found out that she has health problems that might preclude any more pregnancies, which puts an entirely different emotional spin on this pregnancy for her.

According to her parents, who stopped by yesterday, the whole thing--their daughter's relationship and the possible placement of her baby--is still really up in the air. But I'm not sure how much of that is wishful thinking on their part coupled with sheer exhaustion from the emotional roller coaster they've been on with their daughter and her varied, generally unsuccessful relationships.

These are things I know for sure:
  • That we will continue to move forward on the adoption approval process so we are prepared for any contingency.
  • That if she calls either when the baby is born or even months from now wanting us to adopt her son, we will do it without hesitation.
  • That Jack is excited about having a baby brother whether he lives with our family or lives with hers, but, he says, "we'll be lucky if he comes to live with us."
  • That I want (need) her to make her decision to keep the baby or to place the baby freely, without feeling pressured into it by her parents, his parents or by us. (Actually, I feel pretty certain that she is immune to pressure like that!)
  • That if she keeps the baby, she will do everything in her power to do right by him, and that if she places the baby with us it will be because she wants to do right by him.
  • That if she keeps the baby, we will ask, for Jack's sake, to meet him and to see him from time to time as he grows up. And we hope we'll see more of Jack's two older half-sisters as well. I'm pretty confident that this is something Jack's birth mom wants too.
So there you have it.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

30% off

Today we're dropping prices at The Read Leaf to 30% off lowest marked price (please spread the word to anyone who may be in the market for books and who lives anywhere near the Springville, Utah, area!).

We've still got so many great titles left. That's the nice thing about small bookstores. None of us can afford to bring in everything so we have to be highly selective. As a bookstore owner from the west coast once said at a trade show, "We might not have every book on orchids, but we have the best books on orchids."

Not that we haven't ordered in books that haven't moved.

Every night I update our database, celebrating when we've sold one of the quirky ones--the single copy of an interesting title I ordered in for the one customer who would delight in finding it--or one of the downright tough ones, like a special order that was never claimed or a copy of Bad Dogs or Clinton's My Life--fine examples of books that swept the nation but that we can't sell to save our lives (and, by the way, that was not an intentional juxtaposition of titles!).

Now when I update the database, I'm also doing a bit of mourning. Oh, that was the last copy of Bel Canto we'll ever, ever sell. Or Stargirl or Pride and Prejudice or Animals Nobody Loves.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Here's a wacky confession and today is just the day to make it.

Most of the time I was growing up, I lived at 713 Main Street. My parents still live at that address.

Almost every day, and sometimes several times a day, I see the number 713 somewhere. I catch the digital clock at exactly 7:13. A purchase I make comes to $7.13. I see 713 on a license plate. Someone at the store pays with check number 713. I pay our cable bill and our account number ends with 713. Today's date is 7/13.

It's actually pretty amazing how often I see 713. And every single time I see it, I think of home and remember that my parents love me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

At the Mercy of the Medical Profession

So the three of us--me, Roger and Jack--all have to have medical checkups as part of the adoption process. Roger and I have to have a doctor sign off on the fact that neither one of us is about to die from some dreadful illness. I'm sure Jack has to have a doctor sign off on the fact that we are feeding and nurturing him properly.

Basically it's all good. Roger and I are both overdue for our annual exams so this is a good push to get that done. I went this morning, and Roger has an appointment on Monday. But the soonest we can get Jack in to see his doctor is July 28, and we made that appointment nearly two weeks ago! We're pretty sure that the baby will be arriving earlier than his August 12 due date. It's just cutting it awfully close.

We're meant to speak to Judy at Jack's doctor's office to see if there is any way the doctor can squeeze him in. Roger called five times while we were in Wisconsin and could not reach Judy. I called yesterday and actually spoke with Judy (Roger didn't really believe it). She said she would check with the doctor and that I should call back today at 1:00. So at precisely 1:00 I called and was told that Judy had just left for lunch.


But now that I have written all of the above, the story has a happy ending. Judy just called and the doctor can see him tomorrow at 11:50. Yay!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Back to Work

First day back at the store after a week of fun. I'm really doing okay! I think spending a week with lots of family, lots of sun, lots of water, lots of good sailing, lots of time with Jack, lots of sleep, lots of reading, lots of fireworks, lots of fireflies, no computer, no tv, no fast food, no car, no clock and no to do list did me a world of good. I can handle this transition. It's even starting to feel cathartic.

It's crazy, but I've spent the past five hours ordering thousands of dollars worth of books (special orders and school orders). And all the while, books are selling off our shelves never to be restocked (unless I really can't help myself, which happened this morning with Shannon Hale's books

I better get back to work!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Walking Away

I woke up the morning and realized that when Jack and I leave for the airport this afternoon, we're leaving The Read Leaf pretty much for good. "Storewide Liquidation" is now painted on our front window, and when we get back a week from now, it will just be a shell of its former self. The inventory is already noticeably depleted.

I had to come down here to the store to see it again one last time before we go and have a bit of a cry. I feel like I'm leaving a very good friend that I'll never really see again.

Okay. It's time for me to walk away.

Friday, June 30, 2006

One of My Favorite Places on Earth

This weekend, Jack and I will fly to Chicago and drive almost two hours north to one of my favorite places on earth: Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. I'm going to work myself into the ground for the next two days, and then we will leave it all behind for an entire week!

We are going to swim and sail and hang out with family and hike the shore path and read and jump on the trampoline and watch fireworks and sleep, sleep, sleep. One of the things I'm looking forward to the most is just being with Jack without having a huge to do list hanging over my head or having to tell him that I have to finish with a customer before I can pay attention to him.

I hope that I will come back from the lake restored and ready to face one last month of working at The Read Leaf. Which I will especially miss, by the way, for the random connections I make with people.

The other day one of our regular customers, Deb, was in with her daughter, who happened to be visiting from Chicago. I said, "Oh, I'm flying to Chicago next week. Well, actually we're heading to Lake Geneva." And they just lit up and exclaimed that Lake Geneva was one of their favorite places and that they often visit good friends there. It turns out their friends have a house 1 1/2 miles up the shore from our cottage. I know exactly how far it is because they live on the exact same street I turn around at when I hike the shore path for a 3-mile round trip.

The three of us took a moment to breathe deeply and smell the Lake Geneva air. Then Deb wrote a note for me to give to their friends next week. It will be so fun if they end up being our friends as well!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Who I Wanted to Be

Aack! I really, really hate it when the person I am falls so far short of the person I want to be. When I let things cloud my judgment and I just react instead of seeking understanding. When I fall into the trap of being angry and defensive.

So much has been building up over the past months and I know I should cut myself some slack, but I also know I need to work harder to keep emotions from getting the best of me. And I need to get things into perspective.

Here's what I've been dealing with lately (sympathy and understanding welcome):
  • An overwhelming, pretty much impossible, number of things to do in the coming weeks. Thankfully, though, the bishop just released me from my girls' camp responsibilities, so that's a relief even though I'll miss going.

  • A complete lack of sleep. I can't go to sleep at night, and I wake up really early in the morning. Both of which are highly unusual for me. I've been out on the front porch at 3 am noodling around on my guitar more than once lately.

  • Uncertainty about our financial future, even though we do have a plan and we are working it. Roger is going to start library school in August and has already started applying to jobs. I've got projects lined up that will lead to income eventually if not immediately. And we will come out of the business with at least part of our nest egg intact.

  • Uncertainty about whether we'll have a baby soon, and if we do, when he will be born. And do we need to hop in the car at a moment's notice and drive to New Mexico? And how long will we need to stay there? And how are we going to get all of the paperwork, including home visits and doctor appointments, together in such a short amount of time? Don't get me wrong--all of the work and uncertainty is worth it. But it sure adds a stressful element to our lives right now.

  • Lots and lots of wacky emotions about closing the store. Could we have tried harder to make it work? I'm trying not to feel a sense of failure because in the end we didn't make it work (although I am damn proud that we broke even in a business as tough as the book business in a town as small as Springville and that we really did make a difference in our community). I've got all kinds of guilt about letting people down (including Jack who is very mad about it) because we're making The Read Leaf go away--some of them have actually come in shaking with anger and some have even cried. I know I should focus on the fact that they're mad/sad because we meant something to them, but I'm totally wired for guilt. And I love our customers.

  • Anxiety about selling all of our inventory in time. If you're reading this and you're anywhere near Springville, please, please, please come shop at our store! And please, please, please spread the word. We've got some great deals!
I guess all I can do is to start this very moment to try to handle things better than I have. A fresh, new attitude!