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 . . .