Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Family Letter 2009

Christmas greetings from our house to yours!

It’s been a fairly peaceful year for us. All of our lives revolve around school these days. For a while there we were up to three different campus parking tags hanging from our rearview mirrors! Roger continued working as the communications manager for the library at BYU. Margy finished up her job at the local high school library, finished up a stint as PTA newsletter editor, and taught freshman writing at Utah Valley University both spring and fall semesters. Jack finished fourth grade with flying colors and is now thriving in fifth grade. We can’t quite believe he’s only got one more year in elementary school.

Roger and Margy got a new job at church teaching a great group of eight year olds (six boys and one girl, who holds her own quite nicely). We’ve had to dig deep into our bag of tricks to keep them engaged. Well, we aimed for keeping them engaged. Sometimes we just managed to keep them captive. Jack’s class is the complete opposite (nine girls and two boys, who both hold their own, too).

We took our apparently annual pilgrimage to Legoland and the Pacific Ocean in the spring, and then Jack and Margy took a huge, nearly six-week trip to Wisconsin and New England in the summer. Roger flew out to meet us half way through for a week. We had so much fun connecting with family and friends along the way, and only wish we could have seen everyone. Our goal was to swim every single day, regardless of weather. Jack only missed one day (thunderstorms were the one weather exception) and Margy only missed three. We swam in Lake Geneva (even when it rained and the temperature dropped into the sixties), in Nana and Gramp’s pool, in the Atlantic Ocean at four different beaches, out in the middle of Long Island Sound off a sailboat, at the Connecticut beach Margy enjoyed growing up, in Lake Sebago, and in Walden Pond. And I think we counted a dip or two in Uncle John’s hot tub. It felt very good to have our priorities straight! We also brought home all sorts of sand, rocks and shells, including two large horseshoe crabs. The whole lot of it sat baking in the sun on the front porch for a week before we dared to bring it inside to display.

Our biggest news of the year is not that we’ve all three been sucked into facebook (to varying degrees and we’d love to be your friends there if we aren’t already). No, the biggest news is the addition of two crazy kittens to our family. They are siblings, but Fluffy takes after her Siamese father and Doublestuff is mostly black like his mother with white markings, including a ring around his neck. They don’t train easily. Okay, they don’t train at all. But they are sure entertaining and they haven’t knocked down the Christmas tree yet.

We wish you the happiest of holidays and all the best this coming new year!


Roger, Margy and Jack


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Five Ways in Which Our Cats Are Opposite

I am taking inspiration from my friend Shelley's blog, in which she outlines several ways her nearly six-month old twin girls are opposite (I'd link to her post, but it's a private blog). While Shelley has been getting to know her two little ones, we've been getting to know our two little kittens: Fluffy on the right, Doublestuff on the left (Jack, by the way, is in the middle. We've known him for years.)

Here's how the kittens differ:
  • Fluffy is female and Doublestuff is male. It took a surprisingly long time (and multiple consultations with neighbors, an internet search and ultimately confirmation from the vet) for us to actually figure that out. Who knew it was so tough to identify a kitten's gender?
  • Fluffy has a light colored coat and blue eyes. She takes after the alleged father, who is Siamese. Doublestuff has a mostly black coat and green eyes. He takes after his mother, who is completely black.
  • Doublestuff is the one who is constantly underfoot. I have kicked the poor guy in the head and stepped on his tail more times than I can count. It's downright dangerous descending the stairs with an armful of laundry.
  • Fluffy is the one who runs to the food first and will eat anything. This may be due to the fact that she was the runt of the litter.
  • Doublestuff thinks he's the tough one, but Fluffy is actually tougher. Doublestuff is always the aggressor in their kitten battles, but Fluffy completely holds her own and often wins. Doublestuff is a good climber when he wants to sneak onto the kitchen counter (so against the rules and he knows it!) or when he's terrified of a dog at the vet and tries to get to safety on top of my head. Fluffy is the one who climbs for sheer adventure. My bedroom curtains have the scars to prove it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tagged! Seven Random Things About Me

1. If left to my own devices, I stay up later and later every night.
2. I feel better if I breathe in ocean air at least once a year.
3. In another life I’d be a songwriter or an architect. Or maybe it’s not too late?
4. I love going barefoot.
5. I dream about going to Spain.
6. The idea of getting a dog for Jack in the fall is growing on me.
7. My favorite reading genre: memoirs.

I tag Shelley W., Luann H. and Ann C. (who I think check my blog from time to time and who have blogs of their own).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Missing the Exit but (Hopefully) Making the Point

Yesterday Jack and I drove about 30 minutes north on I-15 to pick up a good friend of his for a day of fun. There are several exits we can take to get to her house. 

I missed all of them.

Jack and I were too busy having a serious conversation about civil disobedience. The subject came up because he's been watching Whale Wars on the Animal Planet channel, in which the crew of the Sea Shepherd tries to thwart the efforts of whalers. Sometimes their techniques put people in danger.

While I tried to help him understand the fine line between fighting for something worth dying for and failing to use good judgment, I was walking a fine line myself--teaching Jack to understand the consequences of our actions without squelching the budding passions of a boy who will one day be a man who believes in something worth dying for.

So I balanced my "lecture" that maybe throwing stink bombs onto the deck of a Japanese whaling ship could be misconstrued and result in the firing of deadly weapons ("But the captain didn't actually die," said Jack) with stories of my grandmother, who went to Nicaragua on a peace mission the year she turned 80, and my sister Maryann, who once took a class on how to handle being arrested at demonstrations.

And we laughed at the irony that the exit where we made our u-turn was the exit for the state prison.

I hope it was worth being late for Jack's friend.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Who Am I? Part Two

So months and months ago I posted the first in what was to be a series of blog posts pondering the question of who I am (click here for the first post). 

I'm finally getting around to exploring another answer to the question: birth order. According to Wikipedia, "birth order is often believed to have a profound and lasting effect on psychological development."

Technically I'm the second of four children. 

But here's the thing: I believe I have played the role of oldest, middle and youngest child in my family. And if there is any credibility to the birth order theory, it's no wonder I'm a little screwy sometimes!

I am nearly three years younger than my brother, the oldest child. He was a bit of a societal dropout. I was the first one to get a driver's license, the first to get a job, the first to graduate from high school, the first to leave home. I have a distinct memory of hearing my mother--in an effort to expand his self-sufficiency--offer to pay him a dollar if he'd break an egg into a pan. It was hard for me to understand why I couldn't have a dollar because I already knew how to do that. (He eventually did get a license, left home and learned how to break an egg.)

I am nearly nine years older than my next younger sister. Which meant that I was the baby of the family for all of my formative years and beyond. I didn't have to be a responsible older sibling. I didn't have anyone getting into my stuff. I didn't have to compete for attention with someone cuter than me.

But as soon as my sister was born I became a middle child. With an older brother in the throes of puberty and a needy infant, I felt an unspoken responsibility to lay low and not cause any additional stress in the family (not that I was always successful!). 

Then to top it all off, my youngest sister was born when I was fourteen and I became a second mother! I'm not complaining--we had a lot of fun together! But I do remember lots of diaper changes and babysitting.

A possible explanation for thinking I need to be all things to all people? The kind of thinking that can make a person crazy?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Five Things I Can See

from where I'm sitting in our family room:

  • Muddy handprints on the door to the backyard.
  • A dining room table covered with Lego creations.
  • A coffee table covered with folded paper boats made from blue, pink and yellow scratch paper full of long division problems from fourth grade math class.
  • A toy chest overflowing with light sabers, foam swords, Jedi robes and Indiana Jones hats.
  • A ten-year-old boy at the computer desk in the kitchen. Can you believe he's ten?! We're sure glad he's part of our family. Happy (belated) birthday, Jack!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Five Things I Can See

from where I'm sitting in our living room:

  • The red leather couch that Roger and I bought on a whim one Valentine's Day from one of our favorite furniture stores, Copenhagen West. It was marked several hundred dollars off, which made the whim much easier to rationalize.
  • A small beautiful quilt that my friend Linda made in commemoration of a trip we took to San Francisco to see an exhibit of Gees Bend quilts. We keep it slung over the back of the rocking chair we used to feed Jack in the middle of the night when he was a baby. Linda put so much thought into the fabric selection and design, trying to capture her sense of who I am in pattern and color. It's a treasure on many levels.
  • Glass jars of rocks and shells gathered during various family trips, the most recent a collection of smooth speckled rocks from our trip to Carlsbad and the beach last weekend. (Disclaimer: we stole this idea from our good friends Brad and Virlie.)
  • A shelf full of books written by friends and family including a limited edition book written, illustrated, letterpress printed and hand bound by my friend Sally called True Turkey and Cat Stories. Warning: Some of the stories might turn your stomach. But the presentation is excellent.
  • A series of three black and white photographs taken by Roger, our resident and fabulous photographer, at Lake Geneva: Dad sailing the MC, Jack climbing up on the raft, and Dad's cousins Jean and Jody--two of the matriarchs of the family--chatting on the pier.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Five Fun Things about Our Neighborhood

Here's a list of five fun things to celebrate a beautiful day in the neighborhood. All of these are within easy walking distance of our house.
  • Diamond's Green House - a nursery two blocks away. Sometimes we walk there with our red wagon and fill it up with fun things to plant in pots on our front porch.
  • Otis and his friends - Otis is an ornery donkey who lives in a pasture by the greenhouse with a bunch of mules. The other day Jack and I biked over to feed Otis and his friends five pounds of carrots. Sometimes Otis brays loud and long in the middle of the night. We sit up in bed thinking someone might be getting murdered, and then we remember Otis.
  • Cul-de-sac of Fire - we live just next to a cul-de-sac where for many years neighbors gathered on the Fourth of July to pool fireworks. The past few years city ordinances haven't allowed us to set off fireworks in our neighborhood (drought). But we're hopeful we can do it again one day. In the meantime, we drag our lawn chairs down to the cul-de-sac for a perfect view of the firework display the city puts on every June for Art City Days.
  • The Arts Park - just down the hill from us there is a city park with an open air stage. The city hosts all sorts of events there throughout the summer. Our favorite so far? A They Might Be Giants concert. How cool is that! A Little Birdhouse in Your Soul and Particle Man practically in our yard!
  • A couple of blocks away we can pick up the bike trail that heads up Hobble Creek Canyon (which is just over a mile away). After church last Sunday, we drove up to see how fast the river is flowing with spring run-off (fast!) and how full the catch basin is (full!). I ended up walking home. Perfect.
In honor of Mother's Day, here's a They Might Be Giants video from last Mother's Day. It includes one of my favorite songs, The Alphabet of Nations. Because, really, I like to think the whole world is my neighborhood!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A Different Time

I've starting reading parts of my grandmother's memoir to Jack at night before bed. Grandma Jan had a most unusual childhood as the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary and his wife in Mexico.  

The memoir starts out with the story of how her parents met. Her father Will spent a month as a visiting minister at her mother Mary's congregation in Minnesota before leaving for Mexico. Mary had long dreamed of being a missionary herself. Will went off to Mexico, and Mary prepared for her missionary work in China. She got all the way to San Francisco and was ready to get on the boat to China when she got a telegram from Will asking her to come to Mexico and marry her instead.

I love the stories that made Jack laugh out loud. Like the story of Will and Mary's first breakfast together. Mary put bread in to toast while Will said grace, and Will thanked the Lord for so many things that the toast caught fire. Years later Will, dressed as Santa, leaned too close to the Christmas tree and his beard caught fire on a candle. My Grandma Jan, five years old at the time, remembers her mother shrieking, "Will! Your Beard!" as she yanked it off, revealing her father, not Santa. Grandma was sick with disappointment. 

(Apparently stories that end with things catching on fire are especially funny to a nine-year-old boy.)

We also laughed at the story of Mary waking up really early one morning while she and Will were traveling to take a bath in the lake before anyone else was awake. "How lovely to slip in the water stark naked, soap thoroughly, and then float on her back watching the sun come up over the hills! When she turned to swim ashore, there, in silent rows, were all of the people of the village watching her with intense curiosity."

Will actually followed in the footsteps of his father, who was a missionary in Colombia. When Will was in Minnesota, he shared Sunday dinners with Mary's family, and while they ate he shared stories about his family's adventures. Here's one of our favorites, which is, despite reflecting a conflict we continue to struggle with in our world today, definitely from a different time!

"Once, when we were resting overnight at the coffee plantation of a Colombian, the foreman came in to tell us that guerrillas were in the neighborhood and might try to steal some horses and food."

"What were they fighting about?" asked Mary's mother, who had steeped herself in the stories of the clan fights of her Scottish forebears, but knew nothing of South America's guerrillas.

"Oh, the same thing they've been fighting about for over the last forty years. The government and the Catholic Church are conservative, rich, and powerful and against any political reform movements that might upset the status quo. The Liberal Party is trying to get control in order to reform the whole system in the interest of the voiceless poor, to spread the wealth and power more evenly amongst all Colombians. No one ever wants to give up his privileges or wealth voluntarily, so the fighting grows fiercer and fiercer. Thousands have been killed over the years."

"Did the guerrillas attack you?" asked Sid [Mary's brother], not really interested in the politics of it all.

"Yes. At one of our plantation stops, they swept in on horseback, stole horses from the stable and food from the kitchen, but strangely returned our horses and baggage, very courteously begging our pardon, saying they had not known we were extranjeros (foreigners). We were not their political enemies. We were guests in their country, to be treated with customary hospitality."

Go figure! A civil war that was actually conducted with some measure of civility!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Before I Get Too Deep

Bear with me. There's a bright spot at the end of this blog entry.

My blog title, which comes from an Edie Brickell song, has turned out to reflect my relationship with my blog in a far deeper way than I realized. Subconscious rules!

The full line from the song is "Shove me in the shallow water before I get to deep." Every once in a while I feel compelled to write about more serious topics that I've been thinking about - you know, there's a lot going on in the world these days! - but when I do, I feel a bit uncomfortable and can't wait to get back into shallow water.

I haven't been blogging a lot lately because I've spent too much time wallowing in serious things, to the point of not being very healthy (read: must stop paying attention to comments people make in response to newspaper articles online, especially local papers). I'm sure I'll lighten up now that spring is here!

In the meantime . . .

I'm so frustrated with the divisive for-or-against, either-or spin so much of our media treats us to. Case in point: the ridiculous coverage of the tea parties by both the left and the right. People have legitimate concerns and a constitutionally guaranteed right to express those concerns. And they get laughed at relentlessly? Like that's going to move us forward? On the other hand, tea party organizers need to own the fact that while their tea parties turned out many thoughtful people who wanted to voice their concerns about government spending, they also turned out many people who just wanted to hate on Obama. Really, really hate.

Honestly, I think the way we reduce the complexity of the world to meaningless oversimplifications ("no matter what Obama does it's wrong and even if it isn't wrong we're going to spin it to make it look wrong" - and feel free to substitute Bush in that statement this time last year) is so counterproductive. It does not remotely resemble the healthy, productive debate we need to actually dig ourselves out of all of the holes we are in.

People keep shouting out their opinions (yes, I really must stop reading online comments) without having the full picture. Though in their defense, it's not so easy to get the full picture with all of the spin going on!

In honor of earth day, here's another example of an oversimplified, politically charged and over spun issue: oil. I think we citizens are actually all pretty much in agreement that we want the U.S. to be energy independent. Where we differ is how to get there, and, with very few exceptions, we all have oversimplified ideas about that. How many of us really understand the energy economy? Especially in relation to the free market economy that we also universally value (to varying regulatory degrees)? Contrast, for example, cries for new drilling with the market reality that people are losing jobs because oil companies have been cutting back existing operations (between August and February, rig count in Utah dropped 50%!).

My contribution to combatting all of the sound bite ideology these past months has been made in the classroom. I teach writing. Sure we talk about comma placement, but more importantly we talk about critical thinking. Even if we know everything about sentence construction and spelling, we can't be good writers if we don't have anything to say (a result of superficial thinking). My mantra in class is to dig deeper, to work on understanding the complexity of issues before crafting theses.

Today it paid off. My students each spent a few minutes in class today sharing something interesting they discovered in their research process for their final paper.

The very last student shared this (in so many words): "Starting out I had very strong opinions about gun control. But I realized that I couldn't actually carry on a discussion about it because I really didn't know anything. Through my research I educated myself on the topic. And I realized that if more people were educated on the topic we wouldn't have people reacting so dramatically to unsubstantiated hearsay. We might even be able to come up with solutions that work."

Can't think of a better message as I send my students on their way.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A New Season

I took the background snow showers off my blog thinking that may be the reason we've continued to have snow here in Springville. And now the sun is shining here. Ah, it feels good to have so much power!

The birth of a new season.

Time to crawl out from under all of the bad habits I've cultivated over the winter. Back to getting outdoors and exercising! Back to eating more healthfully! Time to stop hunkering down and look outward again! Time to stop wearing tights and shave my legs!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Good for a Laugh

This is the kind of skit I fast forward through SNL for. Hang in through the ad at the start (consider it your contribution to helping the economy). Dwayne Johnson (aka "The Rock") does a great job!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Coming Out

Ha! Couldn't resist the title after my last post. 

But really, I'm just changing my blog name from Mel (my initials) to Margy, my real first name (pronounced with a hard "g" in case you don't know me personally). 

I suppose I originally came up with Mel to have just the slightest bit of anonymity. But then I call my husband, son and other people by their first names on my blog, so how fair is that?

Even though I've been blogging under the name Mel for several years, it's never really grown on me.

So hi, my name is Margy!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Digging Deep

[Cartoon by Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune. Buttars is one of our infamous state senators who has been thrust into the national spotlight more than once. Side note: I've been a Pat Bagley fan for many years. He also illustrates children's books and we included one of his pieces in the Springville Museum of Art exhibition I put together last fall.] 

I'm trying something new this semester in the Utah Valley University writing class I teach. We've selected a group topic that we will dig into as we explore various aspects of doing research, evaluating rhetoric, etc. 

My students came up with a dozen or so topics and ultimately voted on the separation of church and state. Gay marriage was a very close second, so from time to time we've gotten into the areas where the two topics overlap. 

This past Friday I had my students summarize and respond to an editorial in the New York Times proposing a possible compromise on the issue of same sex marriage that would address the key issues of civil rights for same sex couples on the one hand and protection of religious conscience and practice on the other. It's an intriguing idea that could buy us some time to dig deeper into the issue of "redefining" marriage.

It's been painfully interesting to be here in Utah and to be a member of the LDS church with all of the fallout from California's Proposition 8 and, most recently, with the limelight on Senator Buttars and his comments about gays being a bigger threat to the U.S. than Muslim terrorists.

I know where I personally stand on the issue of same sex marriage as a matter of public policy and civil law. I also know that at the end of the day my church leaders (at least the ones at the top) would support me and my conscience. 

The painful part for me lies in the tangled web of misunderstanding, hurt, anger and fear and knowing that people I dearly love fall at opposite ends of the political spectrum on this issue. Ironically, I'm at risk of being labeled both a heretic and a mindless sheep, but in my mind I am neither. It's a surreal place to exist. Especially when my opinions are rooted in the ideas of freedom and love for my fellow beings, something that paradoxically we pretty much all value.

Seeing the issue through the lens of a college writing class has equipped me with some tools to at least begin to sort through the mess. For example, a few weeks ago we talked about the importance of understanding the assumptions we bring to the table. 

Here's just one example:

One of the assumptions many proponents of Prop 8 made was that same sex couples in California already have all of the rights and protections that married heterosexual couples have. This idea was reinforced by a widely circulated youtube video. Just over two minutes in the narrator says, "if this isn't about rights and equality, what is it about?"

But opponents of Prop 8 were pretty clear in their understanding that at best same sex couples only have some of the rights, protections and benefits afforded married couples, and that they have to jump through multiple legal hoops to ensure them. They were pretty clear that the debate was all about rights and equality.

If we fail to dig deep and see the complexity in issues like this, we are bound to reduce our views to sound bites like "hate" and "tyranny of the minority."

And what good does that do? We just end up digging ourselves into a hole.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Something New to Dream About

A cycle would be fun, but what I'm going to dream about tonight is the slider I ate for lunch today at Marley's, the restaurant at the new(ish) Harley-Davidson dealer just off I-15 in Lindon. Oh man, a burger with grilled onions, cheese and buffalo sauce on the most amazing bun ever.

It's a cool place to visit--not only because it's the biggest Harley-Davidson dealer in the world, but because the building is made from all sorts of cool metal work salvaged from Geneva Steel.

And my personal brush with fame: Guy Francis, the artist who created the image of Marley, was one of the artists in the children's book illustration exhibition last fall.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Remember how fun Valentine's Day always was in elementary school? Making post boxes, making valentines, distributing them to classmates? 

Roger and Jack cooked up this fabulous post box for Jack to take to school tomorrow.

Want a hug?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Random Things

I got tagged on facebook to write 25 random things about myself. I thought I'd post it here to, since Mom and Dad don't have facebook pages.

  1. Dark chocolate, hands down.
  2. I used to dream that I could swim underwater without needing to come up for air. I wish I still had that dream.
  3. One of my biggest regrets is not going out for the high school swim team.
  4. One thing I will never regret is taking a typing class in high school.
  5. I love to travel! I am very happy when I have an airline ticket and am anticipating a trip.
  6. I want to live in another country and immerse myself enough to really learn another language.
  7. I am not a morning person. But I so wish I was.
  8. Seeing the ocean at least once a year is a need, not a want. Seriously. It's a soul thing.
  9. I wish our house had a substantial, welcoming front porch.
  10. The summer after my freshmen year of college I walked the banks of the Seine in Paris, heartbroken because I missed my boyfriend who I wouldn't see for more than a year. Too bad my angst did not produce anything profound.
  11. After Roger finished his first grad program, I quit my computer industry job and we ran away from home for a year. In our little red Jeep Wrangler, we drove all over the country, up into Canada to Alaska and down into Mexico.
  12. I really, really, really miss our bookstore, which seemed to give me a hug every time I walked through the front door. It enabled us to meet so many interesting people and contribute to our community in so many fun ways . . . 
  13.  . . . Like hosting live music! We had more than a hundred concerts at our store and one of my favorite projects was producing a CD of some of the performances. 
  14. I was very relieved when Jack showed signs of developing a good sense of humor at an early age.
  15. I started reading novels to Jack when he was three (The Mouse and the Motorcyle), and we've read almost every single night since then. One of the best decisions I ever made!
  16. I took up yoga once and it did amazing things for me. So why don't I practice yoga these days?
  17. It never fails that when the movie Joe vs. the Volcano comes on tv, I get sucked in--even though we own the DVD and we can watch it any time.
  18. I love teaching my college class, but I don't love grading papers.
  19. Once I got a professional pedicure and I thought, "I actually have nice toes!" I need to get another pedicure one day.
  20. I play too much spider solitaire. But only when I'm listening to informative, thought-provoking podcasts.
  21. I have an irrational dislike of Indian food. I think it may somehow be connected to bad behavior in a previous life.
  22. I love seeing inside people's houses as I drive by at night. I don't want to see the people, but I do want to see their houses. I'm an architecture and design junky.
  23. One of my favorite times of day is when Roger, Jack and I are all hanging out in bed together in the evening--reading, talking, laughing, and surfing the internet. It's nice. I love those guys!
  24. Roger is watching a Flight of the Conchords video as I type this. They make me laugh.
  25. I have had so much fun connecting with old and new friends and far flung relatives on facebook!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This One Always Makes Me Cry Just a Little Bit (In a Good Way)

This video has been around for a while, but for those of you who haven't seen it, it's so worth watching. Every once in a while, I watch it just to make me happy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


When we owned our bookstore, we thought it would be fun for the store to be in a movie. Loki, a musician who played several times at our store, wrote and directed a mockumentary called Believe (click here for more info). Lucky for us, he needed to shoot a scene in a bookstore. 

Loki and his crew were there for six or seven hours one evening to get the glorious eleven seconds that appears in this clip (spoiler alert!).

Monday, January 05, 2009

Five Interesting Conversations

I've had lots of conversations with people over the holidays, getting together with family and friends, working at the museum, etc. But I've chosen the five most unusual ones for this post.
  • I met a bookseller and his wife visiting from Norway. We had a fine time talking about finding treasures in the book world. I told them I was convinced of genetic memory when I went to Norway and felt completely, utterly connected to the land, the people, the aesthetics, the whole feeling there.
  • I met an elementary school art teacher who also teaches art classes at Utah Valley University. I told him about the new writing assignment sequence for English 1010 there (the course I've been teaching), and how it is designed primarily to develop critical thinking skills. One of the goals is to break students of the habit of deciding their thesis before doing any research and then simply finding quotes to support it. In fact, they don't write a full blown research paper. Instead their final paper is an exploratory research paper in which they write about their experience engaging with the content of their research. I was excited about it. He was excited about it. He even gave me his email address so I can send him more information (which I still need to do). Kindred geeks.
  • I went with five friends to see Doubt, a movie about a nun (Meryl Streep, amazing) who believes a priest is abusing boys in her school. We had an energetic conversation all the way home. How can you really be certain about anything? And yet we are. I felt bad that they dropped me off first. 
  • A sales rep at a store we visited recently shared wildly personal information with us. It started with a comment he made about his fifth grandchild being born, and when we expressed disbelief that he could have five at his age, he confessed that he became a grandfather at 36 because he became a father at 18. He then regaled us with stories of subsequent marriages to women and partnerships with men, some of whom had various troubles with various licit and illicit substances. But he seemed nice enough. We'd have bought something from him if we could have rationalized it.
  • The last one isn't technically a conversation, but I thought it was an interesting encounter. And talking was involved. Whenever I stop by the art museum, I'm never quite sure what I might end up doing. The other day Roger and I stopped by to check on a couple of things and the director turned up with a huge bronze moose statue on a cart. He needed our help getting it off the cart and onto a pedestal. Crazy!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Out with the Old

I am totally overwhelmed by how much "stuff" we have and how disorganized it all is. We are hardly big shoppers, but we haven't dealt with everything that came home with us when we closed the bookstore. And the other two members of my family are collectors (and I sure love them!).

My new year's resolution is to get rid of at least one thing every day (throw away, give away, return to proper owner, or sell). I promised Roger and Jack that I wouldn't get rid of anything they own (at least not without their permission).

So far I'm on track! Of course, we're only four days in . . .