Friday, December 26, 2008

Five Quirks


Our Jack is a blessed addition to our family. And we sure love his quirks.
  • He always has to have a toy in his pocket. This has been true since he was very, very young.
  • We ask him if he's hungry and he says "no." Then not two minutes later, when he's done working on whatever project he's been focused on he says, "I'm hungry."
  • He lives his life with a soundtrack. Literally. If he doesn't have music on (usually the Star Wars soundtrack), he makes his own. At this very moment I hear him playing Legos in the other room with a friend and loudly humming The Twelve Days of Christmas.
  • He often falls asleep just as the plane is landing.
  • He often falls asleep when we've got just two pages of the novel left. (This just happened last night. We'll be finishing Island of the Blue Dolphins tonight.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Brookside Christmas

Last Friday Roger and I enjoyed the PTA Christmas program at Brookside Elementary. Yep, we happily live in a school district that allows that sort of thing (purely secular though--Santa, reindeer, front teeth and all that). More than 700 kids, teachers and lots of parents packed into the gym. Jack is right in the middle in the green striped shirt. 

My very favorite part of the program is when the 12 Days of Christmas are divvied up among the grades (Jack and the other fourth graders sang four French hens and ten lords a-leaping). The kids sing faster and louder on each verse until they're practically shouting on top of each other by the end. Sort of like watching an ice hockey game. Good times.

Friday, December 05, 2008

It's Not in My Head (But It Is)

My doctor called with the results from my ct scan this morning. The past couple of months of dragging through my days may soon be over! Apparently there are multiple, highly evident problems with my sinuses. 

Not that this is something to brag about (and have I done something wrong to cause this mess?). But it means there's an actual problem that I can work on fixing (and that the $75 copayment I made for the ct scan this morning wasn't for naught). It's not all in my head

Here's hoping extra strong antibiotics will cure me and I won't have to have surgery.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Five Things I Am Thankful For

  • I am thankful for a husband who loves me and supports me despite my often selfish and erratic ways. And I love him.
  • I am thankful that I get to be Jack's mom. What a funny, smart, creative, tenderhearted boy he is! I sure don't want him to grow up too fast, but I am so curious about the man he will become.
  • I am thankful to know so many amazing people--family and friends--who teach me so much. I am so often truly inspired by you all!
  • I am thankful that the challenges in my life are rooted in abundance rather than scarcity. My prayer is to turn the temptation to eat too much, to revel too much in the comforts of my life and to feel overwhelmed by all of the stuff we own into fuel to feed a generous, giving spirit.
  • I am thankful that my parents set me on a spiritual path that keeps me committed to wrestling with faith, hope and charity.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Would a Sick Day Be Like without Star Wars?


So this is what we've been watching at our house today. Jack came home school early with a cold, no friends allowed. We had to fight a bit of boredom. I also had him build a space ship out of a pile of Legos and he had to use every piece. He had a two hour deadline, but completed it in just over an hour. Then he spent the rest of the afternoon embellishing it. We've got a long evening ahead of us.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Who Am I? Part One

Since blogging is substantially a narcissistic activity, I thought I'd indulge in a bit of self exploration. The reason? I never quite know how I fit into this world. 

I'm an easterner in the west. I'm the mother of an only child in community of larger than average families. I'm pretty sure I'm the only woman in my neighborhood who has never given birth. I'm a moderately left of center gal in one of the reddest counties in one of the reddest states in the union. I was one of the only Mormons in my school growing up. There are no Mormons in my extended family, but I married into a family with pioneer stock on both sides. I could go on.

Why do I always feel different? Is it just the human condition? Or is there something special about my situation?

Today's explanation: I am generation-less.

The baby boomer generation consists of people born between approximately 1945 and 1960. Generation X consists of people born between approximately 1965 and 1980. I was born in 1963.

What on earth does that make me?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Country First

A part of me longs to be in a place where people are celebrating Obama's election. It would be so much easier and so much more fun. But a deeper part of me senses that I need to be here in this place at this time.

I feel blessed that my first impression of Obama was his commitment to listening, thinking and finding common ground. I have viewed him for years through that lens. Of course he's not perfect and I don't agree with everything he says and does. But I think it's tragic that the first impression of Obama many people have had is that he is suspiciously foreign and possibly anti-American. Viewing him through that lens distorts him beyond my recognition.

In the past three days I have had conversations and heard comments that have absolutely dripped with anger and fear and all sorts of misconceptions. "I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that can only compare to 11 September 2001." "My mother says that Obama is the anti-Christ," "If Obama gets elected he's going to start killing all of the two year old children." "I'm going to move to Canada because Obama is a socialist and a Marxist [I had to laugh at the irony of that comment!]" "It's all over now." "I hope some nutcase assassinates him."

It makes my heart hurt.

But it also drives me to open my mouth. I can't sit idly by.

Today I was eating lunch with some of the faculty at Springville High. Like me they've been worried about all of the hateful and fearful remarks. I imagine most if not all of them voted for McCain and are disappointed he lost. But they are working hard to help the students understand the genius behind the way our government is set up--checks and balances, frequent elections, etc. They said they've been telling students that we've survived bad presidents before, that we can endure for four years, that there will be a mid-term election that will give us a chance to shift the balance in Congress.

I finally spoke up and said, "And we can tell them that Obama may just be a good president!"

For the sake of our nation, don't we need to give him that chance?

I call on all of my dear friends and family who supported McCain, who are devastated that he lost and who may actually fear an Obama presidency. If you truly believed in McCain's campaign for presidency, please continue to embrace his campaign mantra "Country First."

You may want Obama to fail mightily, but his failure would be our failure, and in these difficult times we can't afford that.

We can and should work together to make the next four years a success.

Of course we must all be vigilant in fighting for policies and political principles we believe in. Every president should be held accountable and should be watched and pushed to do what we feel is right. 

But when he is sworn in, please honor the presidency and remember that Obama is our democratically elected leader. 

I am full of hope. I believe all of us can be. Yes we can.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life Is Good

I'm feeling so much better after being under the weather for weeks. Monday morning I woke up without a fever, and I've got my brain back! I'm pacing myself, but I'm feeling optimistic.

Somehow we made it though Halloween without taking a single photograph of Jack dressed up as Indiana Jones! Above is a photo of Jack taken earlier this year (thus the green leaves on the trees and the roof off the jeep), wearing one (!) of his Indiana Jones hats and the shirt we custom tore for him. He is sans the questy map case with the leather strap that he wears across his chest, but you might be able to see the whip he's holding in his right hand.

I am so happy to report that I only have a handful of essays in my "to be graded" folder for my UVU classes (I'll be making quick work of those after I'm done posting here).

I am so happy to report that Jack woke up on his own for the past two days. And with the newly fallen snow on the ground, I didn't have to ask him twice to get dressed. He was out the door to check out the snow before the school bus came, so I didn't even have to drive him to school!

I am so happy to report that the bond election for a new library in Springville passed with flying colors. This will be so good for our community on so many levels!

Oh, and Obama will be the 44th president of the United States. I'm still pinching myself.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Access to Information For All

Here's the letter I sent to the paper this weekend:

Dear Editor,

I believe the economic downturn is actually a reason for—not an obstacle to—pulling together as a community to vote for a new library.

There is no question that we need to use our resources wisely, and making do with what we have is a practice we desperately need to return to as a society. My concern, though, is that we’ve been making do with an inadequate library facility for at least the fourteen years I’ve lived here, probably longer.

While not everyone uses the library, we all benefit from living in a literate society. A library is an important resource for people of all ages and from all walks of life, including people who are struggling financially and who look to libraries to help them get back on their feet. I’ve known people who have depended on library services to launch their businesses or to get information and training that have enabled them to transition to new, often better, jobs after being laid off.

Libraries empower us! A strong community is one that truly values literacy and access to information for all. But despite the best efforts of an amazing and creative library staff, our library is simply too small to provide services to everyone who seeks them—a problem that will only get worse if our economy continues to crumble.

I can’t think of a more important time than now to invest in our future and to foster a genuine sense of hope as we navigate the tough road that lies ahead. I will be voting for the library on November fourth. Please join me.

Margy Layton

Amen

From the mouth of a (Republican) man I so would have voted for had he run in 2000:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Five Sources

Before I get to my list, I just have to confess that I'm on a tuna salad sandwich jag. On squishy white bread. The tuna is a fine choice, but I've got to get back on the whole wheat wagon soon!

So, I've been talking a lot with my UVU students about understanding and evaluating sources, especially understanding a writer's point of view, expertise and agenda. Because I tend to lean left in a community where most people lean to the right, people may think that I'm just a victim of the liberal media.

Well, I don't believe I am. 

I try very hard to find news sources that present balanced views (of both fact and interpretation of fact). Of course, because I lean left, I have a higher tolerance for left leaning media (we all like to hear what we want to hear, don't we?), but I make a conscious choice not to swallow it whole. In fact, I actively counterbalance my tendencies by tuning in to Fox News from time to time.

So, here is my list of my five favorite regular news sources for national and international news (which, as you'll notice, does not include entertainment personalities posing as serious editorialists at either end of the political spectrum):
  • BBC News (both updates on the radio after I drop Jack off at school and as I drive home from UVU and a daily check of the website). It's especially interesting to get a less US-centric take on international news. 
  • Diane Rehm's weekly news roundup, one hour of in-depth discussion of national news followed by an hour of international. It is broadcast on Fridays, but I usually end up listening to the show as a podcast over the weekend. The whole show is a panel discussion format with guests with a range of political views. They often disagree with one another but they engage in civilized, meaningful discourse. Her other shows during the week are also very interesting and informative (and she regularly hosts authors of books!).
  • This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings. He'll push political guests from both parties, and the round table discussions include panelists with a broad range of views, including regular George Will, a classic conservative. Again, disagreements expressed, but the discourse is civil. (Note: I'm not sure why I started watching this Sunday morning pundit show regularly as opposed to any of the others, but I did. And was even happier that I did when I found out that George is married to one of my favorite funny people, Ali Wentworth.)
  • The New York Times online. I know, I know. Some think it has a liberal slant. But I love reading the editorial page, which presents a wide range of perspectives, including the opinions of several regular columnists who are quite conservative. Plus I've become addicted to reading the op-ed comments! Usually online media comments are completely inane, but NYT readers are particularly thoughtful and they express their ideas really articulately. Not surprisingly, the comments are more often on the liberal side, but I have read countless well considered conservative comments. 
  • The quick news update on Good Morning America or the Today Show every weekday at 8:00 a.m. No in-depth coverage, but at least I'm up on the major headlines. This is a habit I've had ever since 9-11. It's been years, though, since I held my breath before turning the television on. I pray that never changes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Swim Down

If there is ever a time we need to pull together, this is it. But instead it feels like we're spinning apart in mistrust and hate and fear and panic. 

I keep playing a scene from Finding Nemo in my head. Dory is caught in a fishing net, and Nemo saves her by telling all of the fish in the net to swim down together. They join forces and are able to pull the net free from the fishing boat, saving themselves as well as Dory.

Nemo for president!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Five Random Thoughts (or are they?)

  • I'm sitting here in my class at UVU while my students work on an in-class essay about fall. And by fall I mean autumn. Word choice is critical in this assignment--I've asked them to write in a very specific tone/style of their choosing and give it a great title that reflects where they're heading in their essay. I was inspired to have them write about this topic on a run up the canyon this morning. I'm still not ready to let go of the weather as we head into winter. I think I would title my essay "Living in Denial." For example, I'm going to wear sandals as late into the fall as I can bear it.
  • We have now officially joined the ranks of U.S. citizens who are personally affected by a fallen financial giant. Actually, I don't think it's going to make that much difference to us, but our mortgage was held by Washington Mutual and I assume it is now held by JPMorgan Chase. Just for the record, we pay our mortgage in full every month. But clearly that was not enough to save WaMu.
  • Twice in one day earlier this week in two completely separate conversations, two different friends brought up the book As I Lay Dying. Should I be concerned about that?
  • I've got to renew my UVU parking pass this afternoon. It expires on September 30. Why would they give me a pass that expires September 30? Should I be concerned about that?
  • Roger, if for some reason I'm not around on October 1 (like if I end up dying in the hospital because I'm not dressing warmly enough for the weather), will you be sure to make our mortgage payment? Though I'm not sure who we're supposed to pay now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Five Things That Have Made Me Very Happy in the Past Week

  • Spending time outside, especially running up the canyon and walking across campus, in this amazing fall weather. I wish we could have this weather forever.
  • Bowls of Archers Farm capellini with broccoli and parmesan cheese and bowls of Archers Farm muesli cereal. (Archers Farm brand is from Target, and we're going there tonight after a friend's piano recital to stock up on more!)
  • Scale readings that have been heading down despite my bowls of food (I do try to watch my portion sizes!).
  • Getting invited to a neighborhood girl's night out (dinner and a movie) next week.
  • Listening to Jack report that he got full credit for a poem recitation at school (10 points for memorization, 5 points for standing up straight and tall, 5 points for a loud and clear voice, total of 20 out of 20).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Biggest Loser

Note: This is not a political blog post despite what the title might lead you to believe. I'm taking a break from expressing my opinion for a while. 

I should be at the city council meeting supporting the library bond, or grading papers, or cleaning the house, or reading House of Mirth for book club tomorrow night, but what am I doing instead? I'm watching the season premiere of the Biggest Loser.

I didn't start watching the show until last season. Then I watched all of the reruns of the previous seasons. I'm a total addict now. 

But one thing is different as I sit down to watch it this fall. I'm actually feeling pretty committed to exercising and eating healthfully these days. I may not keep up with the contestants this season, but I plan to head the same direction. I'm even ready to blog about it!

When Roger came home from work today, I went for a run on the canyon trail. I've eaten whole grain cereal and breads, and fruit and vegetables today. I drank lots of water. I'm on my way!

P.S. I am folding laundry while I watch the show. Just want you to know I'm not a total slacker!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Unbound Blog Launched

Blog happy me has just launched a new blog for the art exhibit. Click here to access it.

The Opening

Save for a few signs I still have to get up and few books I still have to track down for the bookshelf, we made it! The opening yesterday was a great success.

More than 15 of the illustrators attended the opening reception, and with five exhibitions opening in conjunction with Celebrate Your Museum Day, more than 800 people came to the museum! Despite the fact that there was a BYU football game in the afternoon!

We started off the morning with two story times.


Then we had the opening reception at noon, complete with a chocolate fountain (many, many, many thanks to the Priest family!) in the adjacent gallery.


Relaxing with some of the museum staff at the end of a long day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You're All Invited

Everyone is inviting the opening of the exhibition I'm curating at the Springville Museum of Art (126 East 400 South, Springville, Utah) called Unbound: Original Picture Book Art by Utah Illustrators.

The reception will be held this Saturday, September 13 from noon to 3 p.m. Many of the 27 artists represented in the show will be attending. Hope to see you there!

I can't even begin to describe how exciting it's been to see the show come together. I've still got 48 hours that will be crammed full of things we need to do to pull it off, but it's nearly ready!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Bleeding Heart

A few random thoughts about the things that make my heart a bit heavy these days. And then I really have to get some sleep.
  • Sometimes it feels like people equate freedom with being free from having anyone tell them what to do with their money (and, I suppose, being able to vote for people who won't tell them what to do with their money). Sometimes it feels like money is the end, not the means to an end. Sometimes it feels like money is what we care most about and that it drives most of our decisions. I worry about what we're overlooking.
  • I don't really understand why the very loudest cries in our quest for energy independence aren't for conservation (which, incidently empowers everyone to work toward solutions). Of course we need to become more self-sufficient and develop energy sources (oil and all sorts of alternatives), but the loudest cries are "drill, drill, drill." It's like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors crying "feed me." Do we not hear how consumed we are with consuming?
  • I think it's a very good thing that the U.S. is a strong world leader. It's not about apologizing for our strength, but about being gracious and wise in that strength. It's about being an example and using our powers for good. It's about lifting people up, not steamrolling them. Sadly armed conflict is sometimes a part of that, but it should only be when we see no other way.
  • It worries me when people equate diplomacy with appeasement and, as a result, dismiss diplomacy. And that we barely blinked when we turned into a country that would initiate a preemptive strike.
  • Don't we, as Americans, believe that our constitutional rights are fundamentally derived from our rights as human beings? If, for example, it is unconscionable for an American to be detained for months, even years, on end without being told why, shouldn't that hold true for other human beings as well?
  • We absolutely need to be aware of threats and smart about how we handle them, but we seem to be operating from a place of fear, which makes us turn inward, and I think that will hurt us more in the long run than anything we're afraid of. We hold so tightly to the things we're afraid we're going to lose, that we risk losing them and so much more. Imagine how much more amazing our country would be if we were generous and open in spirit rather than fearful and protective. If we're smart about it, we wouldn't lose our way of life, we'd enlarge it.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

P.S.

I finally got caught up on the parts of the Democratic National Convention that I had recorded this week, including Obama's acceptance speech. 

One of the big reasons I hope he is elected our next president is that he believes in personal responsibility and that we can all be a part of the solution (in improving the economy, in achieving energy independence, in improving education, etc.). He believes parents should parent, that employers should treat employees with dignity and respect, and that we all as individuals can contribute meaningfully to the fabric of our society.

And he has the ability to inspire people to rise to the call.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Five Fish(ish) Stories

  1. The very first time Roger and I tried fishing (up Diamond Fork Canyon), we were caught off guard when we actually caught a fish. The hook was stuck. I ran frantically up the bank of the river to get a pair of pliers out of the truck while Roger held the fish in the water. It all worked out, but I was marked by trauma.
  2. Last summer Jack and I were at Lake Geneva and we'd brought his fishing pole. I actually put worms on the hook for him (there is not another soul in this world I would do that for). He caught one fish. The hook stuck in its throat. The fish died. He caught a second fish. Same thing. Then I learned that you're just supposed to clip the line and throw the fish back and the hook will dissolve over time. Too late. I was marked by trauma again. This summer we did not fish.

  3. About 12 years ago, Roger and I picked up my sister Maryann in Tucson and we headed to Baja, Mexico, in our Jeep. We stopped for a couple of nights in San Ignacio, thinking we'd go whale watching nearby. Instead, I got very sick the first night, held my stomach all day the next day and into the next night. I ultimately survived, and we went whale watching the day after that, but, wow, I can still remember how sick I felt. I'm pretty sure it was the fish I'd had for dinner.
  4. When I was in college, my family took a trip to Akumal, Mexico. (Where, by the way, I ate fresh fish every single night without incident.) I took a scuba diving resort course and enjoyed several dives, including one to about 75 feet. It was on that dive that I suddenly found myself alone except for a huge sea turtle. I'm sure my diving buddy was just behind me, but I couldn't see a single human being. For a few seconds I swam behind it, but there was no way I could keep up with it. I was in awe.
  5. Again in college, I had a bowl with two goldfish. One day I decided to clean the bowl. I scooped the fish out of the bowl with a big spoon to transfer them to another container. I didn't really think about the fact that I was transferring them over a sink full of soapy water until one of them flopped off the spoon and disappeared in the bubbles. I threw the spoon down to try to rescue the fish in the sink, not realizing that the other fish had landed on the kitchen floor and was gawping for air. I couldn't let the sink drain because of the garbage disposer. So I started scooping handfuls of bubbles out of the sink until I could see the fish and grab it. Then I grabbed the other fish off the floor, put them both in the bowl and watched them survive!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Five Reasons to Be Stressed

  1. I'm starting a new job today at the Springville High School Library. I'm officially a "library technician." I'm not nervous about the work, but I am nervous about getting my hours in.
  2. I'm starting a new job tomorrow teaching classes at Utah Valley University. Actually, I don't start teaching until next Wednesday, but I've got training from 8 to 3 tomorrow and I'm supposed to turn in my syllabus. I haven't finished putting it together yet. But I will!
  3. I'm ordering several thousand dollars worth of point-of-sale system for the museum store with a donor's money, and they want me to order it fast. I keep building and rebuilding the system on the Dell website, trying to get all the features we need and still staying within the budget. Lucky for me I don't have the museum's credit card information yet, so I don't have to press enter on the order.
  4. We're hanging the children's picture book exhibition at the museum on September 4th, and I'm still waiting to find out what some of the pieces will be. 
  5. We got an offer on my brother's house. It is far below the asking price, but it is the only written offer we've ever gotten (including the year my brother had it on the market before I got involved in January). So over the next two days, I've got to get a counteroffer together, coordinating communications with a brother in Kenya and a real estate agent in Boston. But I can't have my cell phone on all the time because I'm starting two new jobs!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Nine Year Old's Olympic Dreams


The summer I turned nine, I watched Mark Spitz win seven gold medals in the pool and Olga Korbut win multiple medals in gymnastics. I loved to swim and I loved doing gymnastics. So I was in awe watching the Olympics for the very first time I can remember.

At one point I turned to my Dad and said that I'd like to be in the Olympics someday. He crushed my nine-year-old dreams (and heart) when he replied without hesitation, "It's too late." What?!

Last night Jack and I were talking about Michael Phelps and his record eight gold medals. We thought it was cool that I was nine when Mark Spitz set the record and Jack was nine when Michael Phelps broke it.

Then Jack announced that he'd like to be in the Olympics some day. I asked him what sport he'd like to compete in and he said, "Swimming." I told him I'd be happy to support him in that goal.

After all, Michael Phelps didn't officially start working toward his Olympic dreams until he was at the ripe old age of 11.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Unbound


Now that I am fully in the throes of pulling together the exhibition, I didn't quite realize how complicated working with 27 artists would be, especially keeping track of all of the details. But I am so excited about every single artist I'm working with and am so thrilled that they are all excited about the show!

Unbound: Original Picture Book Art by Utah Illustrators
September 13, 2008 to December 28, 2008

The opening reception, which is open to the public, will be held on Saturday, September 13 from noon to 3:00. Please come if you can, and spread the word to anyone you think might be interested. Many of the artists in the exhibition will be at the reception.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting tidbits about each of the artists. I think you will agree that the show will knock some socks off. Maybe even Martha Moth's.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Five Things I Should Do Today

  1. Call Gloria to thank her for the birthday card she left for me.
  2. Make an appointment to meet with artist Will Terry, who will be helping me with a special part of the children's picture book exhibit at the Springville Museum of Art.
  3. Do an extra good job flossing my teeth today because I have a dentist appointment tomorrow.
  4. Figure out when we can have a bridal shower for my niece Megan.
  5. Catch up on laundry.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Momentum

Back late last night (three and a half hours late due to mechanical problems with the plane) from two (mostly) glorious weeks at Lake Geneva, where my father's family has been summering for nearly a century.

I will post my micro diary entries within the next couple of days for anyone who would like to know whether the wind on any given day was good enough for a sail. Yeah, minutae.

But the one thing I want to write about here is hiking on the shore path everyday. While I was growing up, I had no idea how unique it is to have a public shore path around an entire lake, crossing the property of hundreds of private homes, including some owned by exceptionally wealthy people who try as they might can't get the courts to make the right of way go away. It's so satisfyingly egalitarian.

I've only gone completely around the lake (20+ miles) on the path once in my life, but in the past two weeks I figure I hiked about 40 miles on the stretch near our cottage. Usually I was on my own for a two or three-mile round trip, but sometimes I had company. Once I hiked down the shore about three miles and Dad picked me up with the sail boat. Just yesterday morning, my Dad's cousin and I hitched a motorboat ride with her son and he dropped us off three miles down the shore and we hiked back.

This morning we woke up early (7 am! Jack was eager to see his friends again). I decided I wanted to keep up the momentum of my daily hikes at the lake so I headed up to the Hobble Creek Parkway not far from our house, hiked a few miles and got my day off to a great start.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Any Ideas?

I finally hooked up with an acquaintance who manages a furniture store (part of a big chain, which shall remain nameless) to ask about the possibility of partnering to create a furnished reading area in the center of our picture book art exhibit in exchange for nearly four months of publicity. Wow, did he look dejected when he said the powers that be would never go for it. He didn't even want to try. Things are that bad. I think his soul has been sucked by corporate headquarters.

So . . . I've got to come up with a Plan B. I am putting a plea out there to any of you readers who may have contacts or ideas about how to do something really fun for the reading area. I'd so like to do something funky, comfortable and family friendly (no old plaid couches from rental apartments, please).

Do any of you know anyone who knows anyone in the furniture business? Or who has cool furniture they aren't using that they'd be willing to donate or to lend for a few months (art museum patrons shouldn't be too hard on it - especially because no food is allowed anywhere near it!). Or who has reupholstering experience so if we end up getting fun pieces that need a facelift we can call on their skills?

Anyone? Anyone?

4 a.m.

Every once in a while I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does it is almost always at 4 a.m. It happened this morning and here I am, trying to clear my mind so I can go back to sleep.

Here's a funny ted.com video essay about 4 a.m. It made me laugh.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tagged

Jack was tagged on my friend Teresa's blog and gave the following answers to these questions. Remember, he is a nine-year-old boy. But I'm pleased he instinctively knows how to develop a theme.
  1. What is something mom always says to you? Hi Jack.
  2. What makes mom happy? Me.
  3. What makes mom sad? Me being gone.
  4. How does mom make you laugh? When she bangs her head on the air conditioner on the way to SOS Drug. [An outside unit hanging at head level by one of the parking spaces in the back.]
  5. What was mom like as a child? A child.
  6. How old is your mom? 45, no 44.
  7. How tall is your mom? 4 feet? 5 feet?
  8. What is your mom's favorite thing to do? Drink Tab. [Then when prodded for something with more substance] Swim.
  9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Stuff. How should I know?
  10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Drinking Tab. Swimming.
  11. What is your mom really good at? Drinking Tab. Swimming.
  12. What is your mom not very good at? Jumping off cliffs.
  13. What does your mom do for her job? Nothing yet. [I guess that's sort of true.]
  14. What is your mom's favorite food? Tortellini. Ramen. [I think he's projecting his favorite foods that I eat when he eats them. But, yeah, pasta definitely rates.]
  15. What makes you proud of your mom? She's funny and she works hard.
  16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Edd. [Of Ed, Edd and Eddie. Apparently Edd is the one who always likes everything to be really organized. When a neighbor boy overheard us talking about it, he said "You let Jack watch that show?" Great.]
  17. What do you and your mom do together? Stuff. Read.
  18. How are you and your mom the same? We both eat ramen.
  19. How are you and your mom different? She drinks Tab. I drink root beer.
  20. How do you know your mom loves you? Because she likes me. If she didn't like me she wouldn't be with me.
I tag my sister Maryann (who I wish would blog more) and my friend Shelley (who I thought wasn't blogging anymore, but I just discovered she and her husband have a new blog). I know they aren't little kids, but they both have moms!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Five Paychecks

In honor of getting hired for the assistant librarian job at the high school (though tentatively pending school board approval per the letter) here is a list of five organizations that have put my name on a paycheck.
  • Great Road Pharmacy, where I was a cashier (the closest I will ever come to working in the field of medicine!). I worked for Bob the pharmacist, who also owned the pharmacy. Small independent pharmacies are rare these days (in fact, the Great Road Pharmacy no longer exists), but we are lucky enough to have two here in Springville. We get all of our prescriptions from the one our old neighbors own, and we get ice cream at the other one, which still has an old-fashioned soda counter.
  • Camp Arcadia in Casco, Maine, where I was a swimming counselor and a lifeguard. I believe there was only one paycheck at the end of the summer. Once, when the girls in my cabin were driving me crazy, I calculated how much I was earning per hour. If the girls went to sleep when they were supposed to and didn't get up early, I figured I made about ten cents an hour! But I had great job perks, including swimming in a pristine lake every day!
  • Novell, Inc., where I was a managing editor and then a marketing manager. My last stint after about a decade working in the computer industry (where I always managed to have the least technical jobs in the least technical departments, so don't ask me too much about how computers work on the inside - I only know how to use them).
  • Utah Valley State College, where I taught writing classes as an adjunct instructor. I loved, loved, loved being in the classroom. Hated, hated, hated the stacks of grading. But I think I've figured out a few ways to grade more efficiently and still give individual feedback, so I've decided to go back to teaching this fall. But this time (and officially as of the stroke of midnight tonight!), my paychecks will say Utah Valley University on them.
  • The U.S. Treasury. Yes, I've actually received paychecks from the U.S. Treasury, not just tax refunds. Two summers in a row I filled in for two different secretaries on maternity leave, both at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., where I interned in college. I worked for the staff attorneys one summer, and then for Judge Helen Nies the next. That was an amazing experience, not the least of which because I got to live in one of my very favorite cities!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Why We Suffer

I listened to an interesting interview yesterday in the KRCL Radio Active archives* with Bart Ehrman who wrote God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question, Why We Suffer.

He discussed all of the standard answers to the question and why they don't satisfy him. Because the radio program is produced in Salt Lake, I kept waiting to hear someone call in with one of the answers that I'd learned in church and that seems fairly clear in the scriptures.

Bart Ehrman asks: If God is all powerful and loving, why doesn't he prevent all this overwhelming suffering? How can the two character traits co-exist?

I think that God wants us to step up and do what we can to prevent or alleviate suffering (whether caused by mistakes or malicious choices, or natural disaster, or whatever). If we're here on earth to learn anything, it's how to serve others and lift their burdens. Love our neighbors.

So sure, we're tested in our own suffering, but if God is actually testing us by design, I believe it's primarily about what we're doing to help others, not ourselves. (And I personally need to get to work on that.)

No one ever did call in with that take on things. Maybe I'll write him a letter.

* Warning: Radio Active is pretty left of center, sometimes downright hyper progressive. The fact that it's produced here in Utah makes me smile.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Restless

For the past week or two I have had many moments of serious restlessness. My favorite diversions are no longer satisfying. I need to be engaged in something more substantial. I'm ready to be engaged in something.

I'm taking this as a good sign. For so many, many months after we closed our book store I was unable to muster up much emotional energy for any significant endeavor. In fact, the idea of engaging in anything that required any kind of commitment was emotional and overwhelming.

Because of that, I've procrastinated. A lot.

I've ignored old household projects that needed to be done and let new ones build up. I've put off getting fully involved in the details of the art exhibition I'm curating. I've put off eating healthfully and getting into shape. I've put off dentist and doctor appointments. I've put off stacks of filing in my office. I've put off getting more involved with the museum store. I've put off entering boxes and boxes of books online to get them sold. And so on and so on.

I've also had to wait and wait for other things to fall in place. It's a long process getting hired on and scheduled for classes at UVU (I started a year ago and still don't know when or what I'll be teaching this fall). It's a long process applying for and getting a job with the school district.

I am bored, bored, bored to the bones.

It's time to get things done.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Five People

Five random people who have taught me lasting lessons without even knowing it:
  • The cute guy in my college skiing class (I don't even remember his name) who was on the swim team but who was a lousy, lousy skier. Everyone on the bus thought he was one of the instructors. He was a proven athlete who was confident enough to take a risk, putting himself out there to learn something he wanted to learn even if he looked funny doing it.
  • My cousin Joe's wife, Tammi, who is an amazing mom. Years ago I watched her helping her kids do tricks on a trampoline, and she always made sure that they ended their turn doing something she knew they'd do successfully.
  • My aunt Sigrid, who just takes care of business. I was baby sitting my younger cousins one night and when she came home, probably about midnight and probably pretty tired, she immediately set to work sewing on a button that had fallen off the coat she was wearing.
  • Todd and Jonathan, two writers I worked with years ago on a documentation team at an educational software company. They spent hours passionately discussing style guide controversies, like whether or not we should use commas in a series. And I do mean hours. Technically I never earned a degree in English, but I sure feel like I have!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Our Collective Choices

I have long thought that we don't even begin to recognize how our individual choices taken collectively define our society for good or bad. Yay for this artist in his attempt to help us better understand what we do in the aggregate.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Micro Diary

I used to be diligent about keeping a journal, but it's been a struggle to be consistent since I got married. Roger's not personally to blame - just his presence. I used to write at night before going to sleep, but that's when I slept alone.

Anyway, I've felt bad about losing track of the details of my life (and by extension the details of Jack's childhood).

So my latest scheme is to write a paragraph a day an post it in My Micro Diary. I'm hoping that doing it online will increase my sense of accountability so I'll actually follow through!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Snapshot

Time I usually go to bed: Quarter to twelve. Time I usually wake up: Quarter past eight. I have no idea why I seem to be so consistent with the quarter hours. But I sure love not having an alarm set now that Jack is out of school.

Current food jag: BLT sandwiches - the true taste of summer. Whole wheat toast, real mayonnaise, vine ripened tomatoes, crisp butter lettuce, two slices of bacon (the already cooked kind that you microwave for 20 seconds, and the package swears three slices are only 70 calories and a couple of grams of fat so it doesn't seem too sinful).

Last book I finished reading: Ambulance Girl by Jane Stern - A memoir about a woman in her fifties who suffers from depression and all sorts of phobias who becomes obsessed with becoming an EMT and actually does it!

The most important goal I really want to stick to this summer: Giving Jack a substantial job every day that will teach him something new and/or make a big difference around the house.

Favorite new blog: High Desert Home - a woman in Oregon who writes this and that about raising children, homemaking, being aware of how she moves in the world and creating a life that she loves living.

Last family party: Getting together at Roger's sister's house after hearing our nephew Eric speak at church. He just got home from a mission in Indiana.

Current favorite exercise: Biking around the neighborhood, especially with Jack and Roger. We do not have to go at little kid pace anymore. Jack is often out in front of us these days!

Plane tickets currently in my hot little hands: Roundtrip Salt Lake to Chicago for two fabulous weeks at Lake Geneva in Wisconsin.

Biggest thing hanging over my head: Trying to help my brother sell his house in Boston. He's been living in Kenya for more than two years and the market is crashing. No stress there!

What I'm going to do tonight soon after I finish writing this post: set the beach chairs out in front of the neighbor's house and watch the town fireworks (it's Art City Days here in Springville).

What I plan to do when I wake up in the morning: Read in bed until Jack wakes up.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Frozen in Grand Central Station

Trajectory

I like to think that every day could bring an unexpected twist or turn that will change the direction of something in my life. I like getting the mail, I like getting phone calls, I like running into people I known when I'm out and about. You never know what opportunities might come up.

A few months ago I had a couple of weeks in which doors seemed to be opening left and right. We'd like you to be on the library board. Okay. We'd like to you spruce up the museum store for an exhibit opening. Okay. We'd like you to think about managing the store on a long term basis. Okay. We'd like you to interview you about teaching writing classes at Utah Valley University. Okay. We'd like to you apply for a 10 hour a week job at the high school library. Okay.

Since then, I've been slowly putting all of the pieces together.

I'm now on the library board, a three-year term. I spruced up the museum store. I'm still working out the details for a longer term arrangement, but will definitely be involved through the end of the year because I need the store to support the picture book art exhibition I'm working on. I got hired on at UVU but am waiting to find out my class assignments. I applied at the school district for the library job, but am a bit worried because the posting indicated it would be a 20 hour a week job. That would be too much to juggle.

One minute I'm crazy busy, then I'm hurrying up to wait. Slowly but surely the trajectory of my life, at least for the next year, is taking shape.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Idol Worship

I confess. I got sucked into watching American Idol for the first time this season.

It was fun having a top two contestant from Utah, and I'd have been happy if David Archuleta won.

But honestly? Throughout the competition, I only ever rewound one song to listen to it again. A David Cook song.

Rock on!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Spring Break

Jack and I left town over spring break and enjoyed a fabulous vacation on the east coast. Roger was home working and finishing up some final projects for school--his semester is just ending. By the way, he'll be completely done with his MLS degree in August!

We flew into Baltimore and spent a night at my brother-in-law Bill's house with his wife Lorraine, a 5-year old, a 3-year old, twin 1-year olds (who we met for the first time), and their big friendly dog. Their home is busy and happy!

Then we drove down to Washington, D.C. and spent a few days with good friends, Pat and Jack. Highlights included taking (my) Jack to visit the federal court where I used to work, having lunch with my cousin Julie (an honest-to-goodness lobbyist), visiting monuments after dark and taking the D.C. Duck tour. Jack especially enjoyed taking hundreds of photos at the air and space museum and the museum of natural history.

After that we headed south to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit my cousin Tracey and her family. But we didn't take a direct route. We drove 150 miles out of our way to the Outer Banks, visited the Wright Brothers memorial at Kitty Hawk and spent the night at a hotel on the beach! It was very, very good for our souls to see the ocean.

We had a fun visit in Charlotte, mostly just hanging out and catching up. We met Tracey's one-year old daughter for the first time, and Jack and their older daughter reconnected. A highlight of the trip was going to our first Passover Seder dinner. Tracey's husband Josh is Jewish (reformed), and she recently converted. It was cool learning about Seder traditions, which were fairly raucously but lovingly observed in Josh's family. One of the highlights was singing a song about the ten plagues set to the tune of This Old Man, and I actually tried gefilte fish.

Jack was thrilled to get a $5 bill for finding a piece of hidden matzah. I won't be surprised if that's the tradition he remembers most when his Primary class studies the Old Testament at church.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Before and After

Here are some before and after photos of the Springville Museum of Art store. The after photos were taken before it was completely done, but they show the transformation. In less than three weeks and with a next-to-nothing budget, we were ready for the opening of the Wayne Thiebaud exhibition last Saturday. Phew!

Before:


After:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Zero to 60

A few weeks ago, my life shifted into seriously high gear. Not permanently, but all of a sudden I've got a lot of balls in the air at once.

For example, at the moment I'm writing this at the Springville High School library circulation desk, where I have been substituting for the last few days. Oops, hang on. I have to go help a student find books about ancient Roman baths.

I'm back!

Besides substituting at the high school several times this month, I've been busy at Jack's school helping out in the classroom, writing the PTA newsletter and creating door decorations for teacher appreciation week.

I've been busy at the Springville City Library as a newly appointed member of the library board, which will be a big adventure. The first hour of my first board meeting was pretty intense as we listened to a couple contest several books in the young adult section. First amendment issues right out of the gate!

I've been busy helping out with publicity for the 42nd Annual Art Ball, which is held every year at the Springville Museum of Art to help celebrate the opening of the Spring Salon exhibit, a juried show for contemporary Utah artists. The Art Ball will be held on May 3. Light buffet and big band dancing. Contact me if you want to buy tickets (I think I might have a quota to sell).

I've also been getting back to pulling together the art exhibit I'm working on as a guest curator for the museum--original illustrations from children's books. I met with the Statewide Art Partnership committee to talk about the exhibit and get their creative juices flowing with ideas about how to get schools involved. Their enthusiasm was very encouraging. The exhibit is scheduled from mid-September to the end of December.

I've also been at the museum nearly every day for the past two weeks working on transforming the store for the opening of the Wayne Thiebaud exhibit. I've been painting walls and creating fabric panels for the backs of shelves to bring in color, organizing and figuring out how to display inventory, designing new signage, etc. It's been a wacky, wacky ride. The exhibit opens on Saturday, so I need to have everything done by Friday afternoon.

And on top of all that, I finally got Jack on the ice with skating lessons and I finally got around to getting a mammogram (results ok!).

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Speaker of the House

And since I've been feeling patriotic lately, here's Jack practicing his part for the third grade patriotic program at school. He recited the first lines of the Gettysburg Address in front of the entire 700 member student body and did a bang up job!

video

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Leap Year at the DMV

Jack and our red Jeep at the sand dunes, Fall 2003

I am thankful that February had an extra day this year. We missed the window for mailing in our registration renewal for our 1994 Wrangler so I had to do it in person. And of course I waited until the very last day of the month to do it!

I wasn't too worried. They've got a great system at the DMV in Provo. I had a nice conversation with the woman sitting next to me while I waited for them to call my number. It took less than 15 minutes even though the place was packed with people.

The DMV is a fabulous place to people watch--it draws in a cross section of the entire community. I heard at least three languages besides English.

Driving our Jeep in wide open spaces. Efficient government bureaucracy. Being surrounded by people from all over the world. This is the America I revel in.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Winter Fun

Every day there are dozens of things I think I'll blog about. But then I never seem to get down to it. So here are a few pictures of Jack enjoying the snow this winter to keep up the appearance of blogging.

Jack, Georgia and Gracie on a fabulous new sledding hill at Jolley's Ranch up Hobble Creek Canyon.


Jolley's Ranch also has great trails for cross country skiing so Jack will get lots of practice with the skis Gramps gave him for Christmas.


Coming home to a cozy warm house at the end of the day.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Who Should You Vote For?

Went online to this site and confirmed my voting instinct. See my results after answering a series of questions below.

I do want to say for the record that I believe Mitt Romney is a good person. I just don't agree with him on many issues. On a gut level, if I had to choose between Mitt Romney and John McCain, I'd go against the results below and vote for Romney. McCain's views on national security, which seem to come from a place very deep inside him, make me a little nervous, and I think Romney would be more capable of turning the economy around.

I can't remember where I heard this, but the other day some pundit defined Democrats as people who want "to fall in love" with a candidate and Republicans as people who want "to fall in line" with a candidate. I'm registered as unaffiliated, but am coming to the realization that I may actually be a Democrat. However, I really don't like fitting into a box, so I think I'm going to remain unaffiliated.

I am happy to admit that I have fallen for the aura of Obama. Yes, I have been swept up in the emotion of his rhetoric and his ability to inspire. But I wouldn't have fallen if I didn't also think that he has skills and plenty of substance as well.

Who should you vote for? (my results)
Barack Obama

66
Mike Gravel

57
Hillary Clinton

36
Ron Paul-24

John McCain-24

Mitt Romney-63

Mike Huckabee-84


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Two and a Half Hours

Wow. A presidential primary with the chance to vote for a woman, an African-American or a Mormon. How cool is that?

I didn't choose my candidate because she was a woman, or he was an African-American, or he was a Mormon. I chose my candidate because I believe he is the best person for the job.

So I stood in line for two and a half long, long hours, asked for a Democratic ballot, and cast a vote for president that will actually make a difference here in Utah for once.

I haven't figured out why youtube won't accept my login, so I'll send you to this link for a video that captures the emotion of this vote for me today.

Monday, February 04, 2008

1963

I'm not sure why I seem to be obsessed with my birth (see here and here), but two stories I've been following in the news are linked to 1963, the year I was born.

The events unfolding in Kenya have been of personal concern to me because my brother has made his home in Nairobi. I've been following the news there mostly through BBC news. I learned today that Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963.

Also of personal concern, but closer to home, we've been waiting for an announcement about the new presidency of the LDS church. President Hinckley, who led the church since 1995, passed away last week. Today Thomas S. Monson was announced as the new president. President Monson was originally called to serve as an apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1963.

On a lighter note, I was browsing Wikipedia for other events that occurred in 1963 and discovered that 1963 was the year Tab, often my soft drink of choice, was introduced. According to Wikipedia, it seems I am a member of a cult after all (see halfway through the fourth paragraph).

Saturday, February 02, 2008

713 Revisited

I came across our birth certificates while sorting through some papers today. Considering this post, it was a bit startling to see that I weighed 7 pounds 13 ounces when I was born.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I Like Hillary

It's true. It's sure (as heck) not a popular opinion here in Utah, but I like Hillary Clinton. I think she has a good mind and a good heart. She reminds me of some of the strong, intelligent women I've known and admired through the years, especially growing up back east. I think it would be interesting to hang out with her.

When her autobiography came out a few years ago, we carried it in our bookstore and at least half a dozen times some offended customer would turn the books around so people couldn't see the cover. A few months ago I was at a book club meeting and someone called Hillary ugly. I was genuinely surprised at how many people in the group nodded their heads in agreement. Ugly? Really?

I can understand having a visceral reaction against someone. I fight that every time I hear President Bush speak (and am pleased to report that I have tried to be mature about putting my feelings aside to really listen to what he's saying, and I do actually agree with him sometimes).

I can understand why people don't agree with Hillary on the issues. I can understand why people don't want her to be elected because of all the Clinton baggage. I can even understand why people find Hillary a bit offputting.

But I just can't relate to the visceral hate people feel toward her. Because I like her.

That said, I'm going to vote for Obama on Tuesday. I think it is very significant that he didn't support the invasion of Iraq. I think he is our best hope for moving forward together and finding our way as a nation in this new world of ours.

P.S. Though I'm not voting for him, it sure ticks me off that the media is basically writing off Mitt Romney (especially when the economy is such a critical issue). If all delegate votes counted regardless of states, Romney would be actually be the "clear" front runner. Also, I'm offended on Wyoming's behalf that their primary results were totally marginalized. No wonder people in this part of the country are suspicious of the eastern establishment. What a truly bizarre system we have!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Year of the Rabbit

Everyonce in a while I think about the similarities between what the world was like when I was Jack's age and what it's like now.

Roger and I were born the year Kennedy was assassinated and spent our childhood against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, Watergate, the fight for civil rights and a growing energy crisis. And, like today, the economy wasn't so hot. Remember stagflation?

When Roger and I were toddlers, construction started on the World Trade Center. When Jack was a toddler, the towers came down.

The sixties were a defining decade for our country, and I believe we're again living in a defining decade. Sometimes it feels as though Roger, Jack and I are caught up in a cycle of history repeating itself.

Soon after Jack was born we went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant. While we were waiting for our food we read our placemats and discovered that all three of us were born in the year of the rabbit (1963, 1999), part of the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. Jack and Roger were even born on the same day.

Hmm.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Synchronicity

According to Wikipedia, synchronicity "is the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally unrelated."

The other day I was listening to a presentation given by author Carol Lynn Pearson about one of her books, Consider the Butterfly, in which she shares some of her experiences with the magic of coincidence and the lessons she's taken from them.

The next day I was watching an episode of Iconoclasts that Roger recorded for me more than a month ago with mind/body/spirit guru Deepak Chopra and comedian Mike Meyers. Several times their conversation turned to this idea of synchronicity. (By the way, this is a fabulously interesting series that, according to executive producer Robert Redford, "explores the intersection where two great talents meet.")

I believe I have had a synchronous event about synchronicity. Cool.