Saturday, December 31, 2011


Except for one day when blogger was down and I had to post two entries the next day, I met the goal I set for 2011! It seems fitting to announce a new writing goal on my last day, especially because the discipline of daily writing has been truly valuable for me.

My inspiration for the new project comes from a trip two friends and I took to San Francisco about five years ago to see an exhibition of quilts made by the women of Gees Bend, Alabama. This collection of images from the exhibition hangs in my home office to remind me of that adventure.

Many of the women who made the quilts spent the better part of the day working in the cotton fields, and while they worked they'd dream about how they'd piece together the scraps of fabrics they had waiting for them at home. They didn't follow patterns. They followed their own imaginations.

One woman told the story of how one day she decided to follow a traditional pattern. Following that pattern, she said, sucked the joy of quilting right out of her. It took her years to recover her own quilting "voice" again after that.

When I heard her tell the story, I understood deep down in my soul exactly what she meant. Whenever I try to follow a pattern of life thought up by someone else, it sucks the joy of living right out of me. At first subconsciously, but gradually more consciously, I've stopped trying to follow many of those patterns. As a result, I've got a life full of bits and scraps of experiences that aren't measured carefully or cut evenly, and don't fit into prescribed patterns.

Each day in 2012 (with some exciting exceptions that may involve actually leaving the continent), I plan to stitch together small colorful fragments of memories here on my blog and watch the patterns of my own imagination emerge.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ladies Who Lunch

Sadly, the last of five items on my Utah Valley Magazine list, Nellie's Diner on University Ave. in Provo, failed to open in time for me to try it this year. Apparently they've been trying to open since this time last year. I may or may not save the coupon I clipped from the magazine for a free cinnamon roll. Oh well.

But happily, my friend Jackie, a dear neighbor who is celebrating her 88th birthday tomorrow, came to my rescue and invited me along with a group of ladies (I was by far the youngest) to the Riverside Country Club for lunch today. They've got a beautiful new club house there, and we enjoyed views of the golf course which was surprisingly busy on this warm December day.

Thank you for a delicious lunch and a wonderful afternoon, Jackie. Happy birthday!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Picas and Pixels

This winter solstice bookmark is the very first thing I scanned on the new scanner I got for Christmas and finally opened up today.

We've been scanner impaired for a very long time, and I decided that I need a scanner for the new blogging project I've thought up for 2012. (I'm saving the details for the last posting of 2011.)

The bookmark was designed by Sally Gardner, one of my very favorite friends from college (we go all the way back to freshman year in the dorms). Her sister Joanna, whom I am also pleased to call a friend, wrote the lovely poem.

Sally and Joanna printed up the bookmarks on Sal's very own letterpress in her very own printshop in upstate New York.

You can bet that I'm dreaming up a project we can do there one day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Aunt Margie

Today we drove to Manti, Utah, to celebrate the life of Roger's Aunt Margie, his mom's oldest sister in a family full of girls. Of all of Roger's aunts, she is the one I knew best.

Aunt Margie loved her sisters, loved Uncle Don, loved her children, loved her small town, and loved God. All of that love always spilled over onto us whenever we stopped by to visit.

It was impossible not to love her back.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Downtown Rising

Checked the fourth item off of the last stretch list I compiled last month from Utah Valley Magazine by having lunch at the Blue Lemon.

Except that we actually ate at the Blue Lemon in Salt Lake, not Utah Valley. Oh, well.

Roger and I wanted to go see the progress on the house renovation his sister and her husband were enduring (extending the foundation under an add on back porch, gutting the kitchen, etc.). They live in the Avenues in Salt Lake City, and so we turned it into fun downtown outing with their family.

Lunch was fresh and fabulous. I will definitely be going back. I especially liked the sign that listed which local farm grew which vegetables the restaurant purchased. And because we were right downtown, we walked off a bit of our meal as we explored the new City Creek development, which is very near completion.

I feel like I had a tiny vacation. I love it when that happens!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Battle of the Deadly Sins

Sloth Loses

I was planning to write about hanging out all day in the new pajamas I got for Christmas. I made it until early evening. Then I got restless.

Gluttony Wins

Jack was at a friend's house, but Roger was accommodating. He'd been telling me about the tasty onion rings he discovered at--of all places!--the hospital cafeteria.

So, we went there. And had fries with them.

They were very, very tasty. And we washed them down with soda we got from the magical fountain. I tried a mixture of orange and vanilla Diet Coke. Mmmm.

The hospital isn't working on building its future customer base, is it?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Adventures Await

Behold my favorite surprise under the tree: a handmade basket for my bicycle!

Deliveries to neighbors, picnics up the canyon, fresh corn and tomatoes from the farm stand, library books. The possibilities are endless! (At least as soon as the weather warms up . . .)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Light in the Dark

We hosted the family Christmas Eve party tonight, but broke with tradition when it ended. Usually we get into pajamas when everyone leaves and settle in to take care of last minute preparations for Christmas morning. But tonight we piled in the car and headed to Grandma and Grandpa's house to wish them a happy Christmas Eve. They weren't able to come to the party.

On the way we drove by the cemetery in south Provo and noticed lots of cars and people there. What were they doing? They were lighting graveside lumières. The cemetery was full of them! I'm sure this has been a tradition for years, but since we're never out and about on Christmas Eve, we'd never seen it.

What a beautiful way to remember loved ones on a cold, dark night that marks the beginning of the season of light. Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Good Vibrations

We had a wonderful evening stopping by to visit friends to wish them a happy Christmas. At one home, Jack discovered a corner filled with intriguing musical instruments that our friends had collected over the years from their world travels.

One of the instruments was a Tibetan singing bowl, which I'd never heard of before. It vibrated with incredible sound as we held it in our hands and played it.

I found this endearing instruction video when I got home.

And then I found this. Awesome!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

So You Want To Read

From "The Latest at the Library" section of today's Springville Independent News:

It's been a long time since I posted this teaser about a new Springville library lecture series I've been working on. We'll be going on a grand adventure as we explore authors, genres and specific books.

A fun grand adventure. Which is why I've invited the amazing and clever writers Louise Plummer and Ann Cannon to kick off the series with a tag team presentation about books they've read over the years that have stretched them in unexpected ways. Expect to be enlightened and enlivened!

2012 presentations will include gems like So You Want to Read Shakespeare, So You Want to Read C.S. Lewis, So You Want to Read Poetry and So You Want to Read Moby Dick.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sounds Painful

Most of my day revolved around the jail, trying to get on top of things before we head into the holidays. I never, ever know what I might end up researching on any given day to help an inmate out. Today I learned about tattoo removal options in Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Other Side

Opened up the new wrapping paper we picked up at Costco a couple of weeks ago and discovered that it's double sided. So nifty! (Though who'd want to hide those adorable penguins away on the inside?)

Five days before Christmas and except for two gifts for Roger that will be arriving shortly, I'm completely caught up on my wrapping! That actually sounds more impressive than it is. Roger has most of Jack's presents stashed away in some secret location, and I can't risk snooping even if I'm trying to be helpful. You know, it's that time of year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Gray Cat

The other day Jack asked if we could get another cat because, you see, we are allowed to have three cats here in Springville and we only have two.

Tonight we dragged Jack to a grownup activity, an art show put together by a friend. As usual there were consequences for our actions.

Jack fell in love with a piece, and I fell in love with the idea of Jack having an original piece of artwork. And so "The Gray Cat" by artist Rebecca Wagstaff (pictured here with Jack) is now the newest resident in our home.

This means we've met the cat limit, right?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scratch That Itch

I don't know why I don't indulge in books that scratch my travel itch more often. Maybe because scratching makes an itch worse? And I am SO itching for a far flung adventure!

Jack and I have been reading Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. While we read I scheme about how we can go around the world. Then Roger brought home a beautiful photography book called The Tropical Modern House from the library. I spent a bit of time reveling in it this evening.

Can you imagine waking up in the morning to this view? Ahhhh. Yeah. Right there.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jiggety Jig

We went to a white elephant party tonight and brought home a white pig.

Jack has never owned a piggy bank before, which may constitute a severe lapse in parenting. It may be too late to make much of a difference, but I still feel better now.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gurus (with and without an Apostrophe)

I'm making a bit of a stretch today because I want to write about something that brought me joy but wasn't a exactly a new experience. It's just been too long since I had lunch with my wise and wonderful friends Linda and Lisa.

I am blessed to know many wise and wonderful people, and Linda and Lisa are among my favorite. Hanging out with them is very good for my soul.

But I can make a small homage to the spirit of my 2011 blogging project: Even though we met up at our usual place (Guru's in Provo), I didn't order my usual (Asian chicken salad). It was far too wintry a day, so I tried the Thai peanut pasta instead. I think that was good for my soul, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


We are working on getting Jack in a better habit of studying for tests in school. Tomorrow he has a science test on taxonomy, and I quizzed him from the study guide he brought home.

I suggested he come up with a mnemonic to remember domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

Dumb kids play carelessly on fine grain sand.

I might actually remember the order now myself! (But please don't quiz me. Thank you.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

We Will, We Will Rock You

The event we've been waiting months for finally arrived. Jack's first band concert went very well. I can't believe these kids have only been playing since the beginning of the school year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Slop Your Dripper

Tonight Roger and I went to our first Utah County employee Christmas party. Ironically, it was held at the events center at UVU, my other employer. After dinner, we got to attend the Bar J Wranglers concert.

During the summer, they play every night at the Bar J Chuckwagon Western Music Show in Jackson Hole and during the winter they tour. I went to the Bar J Chuckwagon once 30 years ago, but it's a distant memory.

I'll tell you they are Entertaining. Yes, with a capital E. Fiddling, harmony, and standup comedy.

At one point one of them dressed up like his granny and told the story of Cinderella, but he mixed up all of the cows and then ate them backstage O.o

[Jack just hijacked my blog post. I'm back now.]

So he told the story of Cinderella, but he mixed up the first sounds of the words. For example, she went to the bancy fall and met the prandsome hince. Let's just say it got a little awkward when he reached the point in the story where the shoe fit.

Monday, December 12, 2011

That Is If Sentimental Jack Will Let Us

Today was one of those jam-packed days. All of a sudden I'm on my way home from my last evening class of the semester, and I realize I haven't a clue what I'm going to blog about. I also realize that I need to stop for gas.

While I'm filling the tank, I start paying attention to the video screen on the pump, which is advertising specials at the business that owns the gas station. And then I realize that they've set it up so we can actually print coupons at the pump. Brilliant!

We may abandon our traditional Christmas tree lot to get $10.00 off this year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bells Are Ringing

Checked off the third item on my Utah Valley Magazine list when Jack and I headed down to the art museum this afternoon to hear the Utah Valley Handbell Ringers play some Christmas music. A perfect way to enjoy the holidays!

Click here to listen to one of the carols we enjoyed today.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Our internet connection is down. Roger lent me his iPhone to write this. They can't stop me! But they can slow me down. I'm typing this with one finger.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Checking the List

Checked item #2 off the list I made from Utah Valley Magazine last month. While I was out running errands, I stopped by Cherry Lane Boutique in the old women's gym on University Avenue to check it out.

It was definitely boutique-y, and it turned out I wasn't really in a boutique-y shoppy mood.

But I did pick up local singer/songwriter Mindy Gledhill's new Christmas CD called Winter Moon, opened it up on the spot, and listened to it all the way home.

'Tis the season!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Queue

In addition to teaching transitional skills classes at the jail, I meet one-on-one with inmates at their request to go over their immediate and longer-term plans when they're released.

Depending on their situation, we may spend most of the time talking about how they can meet basic needs like food and shelter or we may spend most of the time talking about how to apply to college and what they can expect when they get there.

I ask them questions and I listen. I look them in the eyes and I see them, I hear them. And then I find specific answers for them. How to get a birth certificate from Nebraska. The address and phone number for a particular drug rehab program in southern Utah. The requirements for a degree in illustration. Anything I can do to help them hit the ground running and deal with obstacles in their path.

Sometimes I am hopeful for them. Sometimes I'm not too hopeful, but I find ways to give them honest encouragement.

Today I conducted my 50th one-on-one. I also got completely caught up on my request queue for the very first time since I started. Before I left for the afternoon, I checked the computer and discovered two more requests.

I'm glad. I'd rather not be caught up for very long. I really like what I do.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sinte Fugler

Once again I reveal how far behind the times I am. Jack taught me how to play Angry Birds tonight (not that it requires much skill). In my defense, we've only had an iPhone in the house for about a month (and the iPhone is not actually mine).

Here is a video about Angry Birds for people who may have no idea what I'm talking about (Mom).

PS: To figure out the blog post title, click here and follow the clue. Extra points if you can tell me what language it's written in.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Out of Context

I suppose it was inevitable. Today I ran into someone I know at the jail. He saw me first, and when he called out to me I was disoriented for a moment before I realized who he was.

I also suppose it's just a matter time before I run into someone I've met at the jail out and about around town. I'm guessing I'll be disoriented for a moment as I try to place how I know them.

Monday, December 05, 2011

If A and B, Then C

I picked up my new textbook for my class assignments next semester. I've been teaching English 1010 the last few semesters, but will be teaching English 2010 in January.

I didn't actually request a change, but now that I've got it I realize I need it. It's good to keep things fresh.

And I love the focus of the course on analyzing arguments and constructing effective arguments. Especially the part about making sure conclusions follow logically from the premises.

I think we need logic checks the way we have fact checks. We have a tendency to swallow opinions (interpretations of facts) when they are based on verifiable facts. But we really shouldn't do that when the logic is off.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


At the risk of being presumptuous, I'm going to wish my sister-in-law Carol a happy birthday today with a post about her piece currently on display in the Springville Museum of Art's 26th Annual Spiritual and Religious Art of Utah exhibition, which I enjoyed this afternoon.

Her artist statement reads: "This piece represents the simple joy that religion brings. I am grateful for the "Good News" in my life. I am also grateful to my lovely, joyful neighbor Daphne* who helped inspire this painting."

A couple of years ago, Carol spoke about marking the word "joy" whenever she came across it in her scripture reading, and she paid particular attention to the context in each instance. What an inspired and transformational idea, and perhaps the genesis for this piece.

I hope you've had a joyful birthday today, Carol!


*We love our lovely, joyful neighbor Daphne, too. She's a couple of years younger than Jack and sometimes takes care of our cats when we go out of town. Shortly after we brought them home as kittens we found a set of very carefully written and illustrated instructions for making kitty parachutes out of plastic grocery bags. (We've got a tempting balcony in our two-story entryway.) Turned out to be Daphne's brainchild.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

A La Mode

Last night the cake and pie. Tonight the ice cream. Spreading out the goodies we are.

We went to visit Grandma and Grandpa this evening and asked Jack if he'd like a treat afterward. He picked Baskin-Robbins.

Whenever I go to BR, I always order the chocolate chip. Ever since I was Jack's age.

In honor of this blogging project, I decided to order something different. So I picked their seasonal Winter White Chocolate (white chocolate ice cream with dark chocolate covered cherry pieces and cherry ribbon).

Okay, that wasn't a huge stretch. My favorite Ben & Jerry's flavor is Cherry Garcia. And I still got a bite of chocolate chip because that's what Roger ordered.

Hmm. I might hold off on returning the wrong trousers.

Friday, December 02, 2011


Jack went to a friend's house this evening, and Roger and I had a couple of things to drop off to friends around town. So we turned our adventure into a date. Instead of eating out at one of our rut--er, favorite--places, we decided on a lark to go to the Magleby's on Main Street in Springville.

I went to lunch there once with some friends more than a year ago. Roger had never been. Never got around to it. Our loss.

My chicken marsala with garlic mashed potatoes was divine. The slice of chocolate cake that Roger ordered for dessert was so large he boxed more than half of it to take home. And after watching the gentleman at the next table being served some amazing looking apple pie, I had to order a boxed up slice of it to take home for me.

Even though I've changed to my jammy pants with the elastic waistband, I might have to wait until breakfast to eat it.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

On a Roll

One of the best things about living in a town with a local paper is seeing your son's name in print under the headline "Springville Jr. High Honor Roll."

Good job earning those first term grades, Jack! You're off to a great start!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reincarnation Is True

Every semester I talk with my university students about using religious leaders and texts as sources in academic papers.

It's okay, for example, to cite religious leaders if they are talking about their religious beliefs. "We believe in reincarnation." That is a verifiable fact.

It can be okay to make religious beliefs the object of academic inquiry. "How does a person's belief in reincarnation affect the decisions he or she makes in life?" Studies can be constructed and, through measurement and observation, including observations made by religious leaders, hypotheses can be verified.

But it's not okay to argue in an academic paper that because your religious leader says it is so, reincarnation is a real phenomenon. At this point, we just don't have a way to verify it independently. (Maybe in another life we will.)

The new twist today? Usually I'm talking with LDS students about LDS leaders and scripture. Tonight I enjoyed talking with a Catholic student who had written in her research proposal that she was planning to consult her priest about her topic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Wrong Trousers

A week or so ago, I ordered a pair of pants online.

As soon as I hit send, I thought to myself, "I should have checked my closet first!" I have a pair of pants similar to the pair I had just ordered, and it turns out I remembered the size wrong.

The pants I'd ordered were going to be too big. (And how bizarre that I couldn't remember that I am actually wearing a smaller size now! That's the kind of thing I revel in! Seriously, what is happening to my brain? Reverse denial?)

I quickly called the 800 number, but the customer service operator had no way to stop the order. "You can order the right size," he said. "Then just return the pair that doesn't fit."

So I got back online and placed a second order. The pants were way on sale, and I had a code for free shipping.

The pants have arrived. The smaller pair fits very nicely. Wish I'd ordered two.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I went to one of the interagency meetings that I'll be attending in conjunction with my job at the jail for the first time today.

I was so hopeful going in. But after an hour of discussion, I realize the size and scope of the challenges we face. They seem insurmountable.

Will press forward anyway.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Every once in a while I learn something new from a student's research paper. This week's discovery: electronic cigarettes. I don't think I've ever heard of them before. If I have, it apparently didn't register.

According to Wikipedia (which I tell my students never to cite in an academic paper), the concept was first patented the year I was born.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Game

We taught Jack a card game handed down from Roger's grandparents. It's a variation of Rummy known only as "The Game."

Gotta go. It's my turn.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Centers of the Universe

We drove Roger's mom down to Manti to see her older sister today. After a very nice visit with Aunt Margie and her family, we headed north again and stopped in Spring City.

Spring City is home to Horseshoe Mountain Pottery, potter Joe Bennion, and his wife, painter Lee Bennion. We became acquainted with Joe years ago when he'd drop off copies of his Horseshoe Mountain Pottery newsletter at our bookstore.

Before today we'd never actually seen Joe in the center of his universe. He's only in his usually self-serve shop a couple of days a year. Lucky for us this includes the day after Thanksgiving.

Here's a little bonus clip from a film about Joe made by Steve Olpin, one of our old customers. And, small world, the music in the clip is by Tom Shults, who played a few Friday nights at our store. That was an awesome center of our universe.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful from A to Z

I'm stealing this idea from others on the interwebs. Here's my first (and probably only) Thanksgiving alphabet. I am thankful for:
  • Airline tickets and adventures whenever and wherever I can get them.
  • Mr. Booth, Jack's band teacher. He is the reason junior high is going to be okay.
  • Living in a community that believes in community. I am continually amazed by what people do for one another and what we achieve together.
  • Diet Coke with a twist of fresh lime.
  • Existential angst that keeps me moving forward on a spiritual path with faith and hope. Okay, maybe using the term existential angst is a bit over the top. On most days at least.
  • Friends and family. I know and love so many interesting and wonderful people!
  • Good conversation with all of those interesting and wonderful people.
  • Our home. I have a dysfunctional relationship with the house itself (clutter and dust are relentless!), but every night when we're all tucked in, I am so grateful we are comfortable and safe.
  • Ice cream from the old fashioned counter at SOS Drugs, a special tradition with Jack.
  • Jack, obviously. And not just because he's an excuse to get ice cream.
  • Our goofy kitties, Fluffy and Doublestuff.
  • Lake Geneva for summer fun, family, and renewal.
  • My MacBook Pro (and everything it enables me to do).
  • Natural curiosity, which drives me to think about, read about, and learn about all sorts of amazing things.
  • My orthodontist, who straightened out the crooked overbite I was developing.
  • My parents (and the fact that they're both okay after some medical scares this year).
  • Quick-witted political satirists who help me laugh in the face of insanity. (We will get through the insanity, right?)
  • Roger, obviously. And he also helps me laugh in the face of insanity, especially my own.
  • My students at Utah Valley University. They are the reason I love my job there.
  • Training for a 5k and my "triathalon" at the lake this summer. It felt very, very good.
  • My work at the Utah County Jail, which has stretched me in good and unexpected ways.
  • Our Dyson vacuum cleaner that we bought for a song from It is superior.
  • A wealth of opportunities. I am particularly blessed in this way, and I don't know why. I never want to lose sight of it.
  • Extra pillows on my bed, which are extra nice for reading.
  • A year of discovery and growth. Writing this blog has helped me see this in unique ways.
  • The zoom lens on the camera Roger bought me for Christmas last year. It's come in handy many, many times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Now, We Ride!"

We started a new tradition. Instead of waiting until Christmas to get the DVDs we want to add to our family library, we decided to buy one for Thanksgiving weekend.

Jack and I chose Rango. We'd never seen it, and we couldn't remember (or maybe we never knew) what to expect. But we'd heard it was funny. And, well, Johnny Depp.

So many, many great lines as we watched Rango "sinking deeper into the guacamole of his own deception" tonight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hot Dawg, Cool Dog

Crossed the first item off the list I made the other day.

Here I am about to order my very first (and very tasty) hot dog at the legendary J Dawgs, brainchild of BYU student entrepreneur Jayson Edwards. He opened his hot dog stand in 2004, moved to an actual storefront when he outgrew the stand, and now takes in a cool six figures a year!

Speaking of cool, check out this guy sporting the new BYU library 50th anniversary shirt! My mom commented on yesterday's post that she wanted to see a picture of me in the shirt. But Athens wears it so well, don't you think?

Monday, November 21, 2011


All year long Roger has been helping the library at BYU celebrate its 50th year in its current building. As the communications manager, he gets to be in charge of lots of creative stuff.

Today he brought home a cool purple t-shirt that one of his students designed. It's printed with gold. Yes, gold! And since purple isn't really his color, it's going to be mine. All mine!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


This is my good friend Carolyn's son, just returned from a two-year LDS mission in Germany. We went to see him this afternoon, but sadly he didn't model his lederhosen for us. I stole this picture from his mother's facebook page. Welcome home, Erik!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Every once in a while, we'll buy something from the produce section at the grocery store purely to satisfy Jack's curiosity. Interesting looking gourds, hot chili peppers, the leaf pad of a prickly pear cactus.

Today Roger brought home a coconut.

It's smart to know your way around a coconut. Just in case you ever find yourself stranded on a desert isle.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Inspired by the Best

We had a lovely family date tonight listening to visiting artist Caroline Hartig play the clarinet at BYU. She was amazing! Click here to listen to some of her audio samples.

After her performance we had a chance to thank her, and she was so gracious when Jack asked to have his picture taken with her.

Jack has really taken to the clarinet in the past few months. His band teacher at school has been very encouraging and even talked with him the other day about taking up the saxophone next year, then joining the jazz band in ninth grade. I am a proud mama.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

(Don't) Say Cheese

This story happened yesterday, but I was too tired to put it into words. I'm feeling better today. Must have been the donuts! Also, this post will make a bunch more sense if you actually know Jack. Though even then it might not make any sense. Depends on the Jack you know.

Working at the jail is educating me about all sorts of things, not the least of which is the drug culture. (By the way, you might be surprised at how often the discussions I have in class with inmates who have been caught up in dealing turn into discussions about specific transferable skills that can be real assets in more legitimate pursuits).

Anyway, yesterday I learned about a new iteration of heroin that might be headed our way. It's cut with Tylenol PM and ends up a brownish, orange-ish powder. It's called cheese. Law enforcement has been instructed to watch for the word cheese, along with variations on the term, in text messages, online posts, etc.

As Jack and I drove home from school, I thought we'd better have a chat about it.

"I know, Mom. Don't do drugs."

"Oh, yeah. That, too. Definitely. But what I'm actually warning you about is using the word "cheese" when you post online or text your friends. You might want to drop the 'I like cheese' bit."

"Noooooooooooooooo! People always ruin the good things!"

Wish it wasn't so, Jack. But you can still like pie. At least for now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Must. Write. Post.

I've been a bit under the weather today. Ended up asking Roger to take my place at UVU this evening. He collected the papers that were due today and gave my students an assignment to work on in lieu of listening to my scratchy voice and watching me sink to the floor in an exhausted puddle.

Feeling a bit sorry for myself. Thanks, Roger, for feeling sorry for me, too. And for picking up donuts on the way home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Last Stretch

I'm a month and a half away from finishing my 2011 goal of blogging every day about experiencing something new or out of the ordinary! My original plan was to seek local adventure in lieu of the far flung adventure I long for but don't have much access to at this stage in my life.

The project has turned out differently than I expected--partly because I realized early on that I don't need additional excuses to eat out or spend money (boring topics after the first few anyway) and partly because I started a new job and it's taken up a good deal of time and emotional energy. No question, though, that I have had some very unique experiences, learned a whole bunch of things I didn't expect to learn, and met a crazy wide range of people over the past year.

Today we got a complimentary issue of Utah Valley Magazine in the mail. I've been perusing it, looking for some local adventure to round out my year. I'm making note of five new things to do or places to visit by the end of December.

My picks are a secret until I blog about them. But I can reveal that I'll be passing on the Princess Academy classes.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Got Jack dropped off at school by 8:00 a.m. and was off and running all day to meetings, work, classes until 9:00 p.m. I did spend a couple of hours at home after picking Jack up at school, but was mostly focused on getting papers graded.

I didn't even get the dishes done.

Then just before I ran off to teach my classes, I grabbed something from the fridge to drink in the car and realized that we'd need to replenish our milk supply before morning.

As I drove home from campus, I thought back on my day. Busy, but nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing blog worthy.

Then when I got home I got a wonderful surprise! We were picked up and vacuumed and swept. The dishes were done. The counter was scrubbed. The overflowing recycling bin was empty. And there was a fresh gallon of milk in the fridge.

I think I even heard birds singing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Random-Stuff-Aphone

Jack recently saved up some money and ordered a mouthpiece so he can try out his friend's baritone. He and Roger cooked this up to use in the meantime.

Jack is calling it his random-stuff-aphone. After I shot the video, they added a blue funnel to the end to pump up the volume. Does that make it a more-random-stuff-aphone?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Home Again

Dad should be home sleeping in his own bed tonight. The MRI revealed a small blood clot in the part of his brain that controls speech.

He's okay for now and speaking clearly. Hopefully his doctors will keep this from happening again. Dad's got a lot of things to do, a lot of people to serve, and a lot of mountains to climb.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'd Just as Soon Take a Pass

Except for a few outpatient procedures and a trip to the emergency room with a dislocated shoulder from a skiing accident a few years ago, I don't believe my 74-year-old father has ever been in the hospital.

And now he's spending his first night in one. My iron-man father, who at 74 can still heft an aluminum canoe up on his shoulders and carry it all by himself.

It's possible he's experienced a minor stroke, but we won't know for sure until he gets the test results. I talked with him a little while ago and he sounds upbeat, his speech only slightly slurred.

Please keep him in your prayers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Brush with Fam(ous Hair)

This has been a crazy week so far and today was no exception! Here is a sampling of five unusual things that happened since I woke up this morning:
  • After teaching a class, I spent time researching how people can get copies of their criminal records here in Utah and how and when they can have charges and convictions expunged.
  • While we were out running errands, we stopped at SOS Drugs to get Jack some ice cream. A boy I hadn't seen before dished it up for him. I'm quite sure it was Justin Beiber. At least it was Justin Beiber's hair.
  • I met with the city administrator to discuss our not-yet-okayed-but-hopefully-it's-just-a-matter-of-time project to turn the old city building/library into a temporary art exhibition next spring before it's torn down.
  • We locked each cat in the bathroom individually with the litter box to collect "samples" to take to the vet this afternoon. It took several tries, but we achieved success just in time!
  • Jack fell asleep before Roger and I even got in our pajamas! Usually we are so tired and have to beg him to settle in so we can all sleep. (Though I confess that once I'm tucked in, I often stay up too late reading . . .)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Homeostatic Imbalance

A go, go, go, go, go kind of day. Decided on the way to my classes at UVU tonight that I would stop and buy some Lifesavers for my students to help them get through a most exciting discussion about citing sources in a research paper. Saw a package of Swedish Fish and bought that as well. Ate them on the 20-minute drive to campus. Ate more on the 20-minute drive home. Totally out of character to eat so much sugar. Especially sugar that is not sweetening something chocolate. Seriously, a Swedish Fish binge? If I end up in a coma, you'll know why.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

My Turn

I've been lucky. We've had our cats for two years, and every time one of them has an--ahem--accident, Roger is the one who has found the evidence and cleaned it up.

Today was my first turn. I will spare the details, but I do believe this was the culprit:

Monday, November 07, 2011

In the Student's Chair

I spent four hours this morning sitting in the Adult Probation & Parole conference room in the basement of the state government building auditing a seminar for ex-offenders designed to help them find and keep jobs.

The good news is that the course I put together to teach inmates at the jail is consistent with what AP&P is teaching. The bad news is that I didn't learn any additional inside scoop on how help people with criminal records convince employers to take a chance on them.

A couple of hours later, I was sitting across the table from a man (a boy, really, only 18) who said he needed to get a job the day he gets out of jail. He says he has two weeks to come up with $350 to pay his rent so he doesn't lose his apartment. We talked about having realistic expectations and how he'd be smart to come up with a plan B. We brainstormed some plan B options.

A magic wand would sure be helpful. Or at least some inside scoop.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Too Early

I woke up an hour earlier than I wanted to this morning. Why? Why?!

I don't like this part of getting older. I hope that delicious extra hour of sleep I've always loved when we go off daylight savings time isn't a thing of the past for me.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

We've Come a Long Way, Sister

My friend Jenny asked if I was interested in attending the Mormon Women Project's Salon 2011 entitled "Crafting a Deliberate Life: Making Choices That Are Purposeful, Personal and Powerful" in Salt Lake tonight.

Because we rarely plan ahead in our family, I was happy to be free and spontaneous. (No irony there. Spontaneity is an important part of my deliberately crafted life. Well, okay. If my life was deliberately crafted it would be.)

The Mormon Women Project is creating a valuable space for us to explore ideas about how to use our individual gifts in the world, whether they are connected to motherhood or not.

Raging feminism, in the best sense of the word, on the ninth floor of the Joseph Smith Building, sponsored in part by the LDS church.

This is a new day.

Friday, November 04, 2011

No Going Back

We have crossed a line.

Jack has discovered both texting and video chatting with friends in the same week. I'm guessing that it all became so pronounced so quickly because one of his good buddies, who moved away when she was six, may have been grounded this week.

And yes. She. But I don't think we have crossed that line. Yet.

(P.S.: If you're reading this, Jack, I promise that when we--and by we, I mean you--do cross that line, it won't be my story to tell on my blog :)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Toast

Meet our new toaster.

I no longer have to toast our bread on one side, then flip it around and toast it on the other.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Al Rescate

I received a request in Spanish from one of the inmates at the jail on immigration hold. What to do with what amounts to first-year Spanish under my belt?

Google Translate to the rescue!

I just typed in his message to figure out what he was asking, then typed in my reply, and Google translated it into Spanish for me.

Lo siento. Yo no soy la persona a preguntar.

Google Translate was very helpful. Me? Not so much.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sitting by the Phone

I spent the evening waiting for a call that never came from a company I've been tangling with for months. I've been trying to sort out where my brother's house is in the foreclosure process so that I can help facilitate a short sale. I'd love to help there be one less empty, deteriorating house in the world. Seems like it would be in everyone's best interest. It's crazy how difficult it's been.

Anyway, I needed to learn how to do a conference call on my phone so I could bring the buyer into the conversation. I practiced ahead of time and figured it out.

What shall I do with my new power?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mystery Guest

Halloween is pretty routine in our neighborhood, so we were all surprised to see the headless horseman ride through! One of my neighbors got this shot of him sneaking up behind her daughter. Watch out, Gracie!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

On the Bandwagon?

I checked out Pinterest for the first time today because so many of my friends love it. I pinned my first item to my board (a picture of a beautiful beach with palm trees), but I'm not sure about the whole thing. Do I want or need another diversion? We'll see.

Ooh, I already have one follower!

And so it begins . . .

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Chair with a View

Greetings from the chair by the window at the new Springville City library, which is now open!

I'm enjoying a lovely view of the creekside and the mountains while I hang out working on my laptop using the library's wifi.

Hundreds and hundreds of people have already come to the grand opening today to check out the new building (and to check out armfuls and armfuls of books).

This is a good day for Springville!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Green Around the Gills

Jack got Dad's permission to carve some of our pumpkins on his own while we were out. This was a first, but Mom decided she could be okay with it after he promised to use the special non-lethal pumpkin carving knife.

This is what we came home to. Poor thing!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Hit

Heading to the Junior High Halloween dance in his new fedora. My little mobster is growing up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Bribe

I keep trying to figure out ways to make grading papers more palatable. You know, so I will just sit down and focus and get it done.

Today I went the Art City Trolley, got a table for one in the corner of the trolley car, and ordered their fabulous Chef's Choice salad (a salad I have never had before). My goal was to hang out nursing that salad while I graded at least a dozen papers.

It didn't work out as well as I hoped. The salad was so big and complicated and distracting that it took me an hour just to comment on three papers.

But it sure was delicious!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Human Mics

Once again I relied on Jack to provide a new experience for me. Tonight was the first time he conducted a scout court of honor, and he did an excellent job. He handles a crowd pretty well, that boy!

My favorite part of the program (besides Jack being awarded his merit badges and First Class rank) was when one of the leaders led us in a rousing rendition of "I'm Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor" in which he said a line and we repeated it. We were just like the Occupy Wall Street human mics, complete with hand motions!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Right to Know

A friend posted the link to this database of public salaries in Utah on facebook today. Not totally up to date, but very interesting.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nom Nom Nom

I picked up some key lime pie flavored yogurt at the grocery store yesterday to break my typical rut of peach or cherry yogurt.

Had some for a snack today. I'd buy it again.

It would be even tastier in a nice flaky pie crust. But I suppose that would defeat the "light" part.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Delayed and Gratifying

Actually I saved this post from last Saturday, when Roger and I enjoyed our first visit to Red Butte Garden, the botanical garden at the University of Utah. We've been meaning to go for years and years. What a lovely treasure!

Friday, October 21, 2011

On a Lighter "Note"

I realize that my posts took a bit of a negative turn this week, but we've had lots of happy times as well. For example, we took the plunge today and ordered Roger a new iPhone 4S, taking us into smart phone territory for the first time, and adding a third line to our account for our almost teenager.

Jack took this picture with his new phone. He's been working on creating a Lego symphony orchestra. So far he's figured out how to make clarinets, flutes, French horns, baritones, saxophones, bassoons, and cellos.

I think his decision to sign up for band this year in school was brilliant. Hopefully our decision to sign him up for the phone is too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Too Young

One of my high school classmates passed away this week. She was diagnosed with advanced cancer only a few weeks ago. It was so swift and harsh. We're only in our 40s.

Some dear friends lost a family member without any warning earlier this month. She was only in her 20s.

Today I worked for the first time with a couple of inmates who are housed in a less secure facility at the jail known as the annex. They are among the select few who are able to work under supervision at local companies or at jobs on the grounds of the county complex.

While I was waiting to meet with them, I noticed a bulletin board near the entrance covered with photocopied obituaries of young men. I assume they had all passed through the jail at one time. It was overwhelming to see tragedy concentrated like that.

Life doesn't make a lot of sense some days. Time to go give Roger and Jack some hugs and kisses.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I crossed a line today I promised myself I wouldn't. I didn't finish grading the last batch of student papers before collecting a new batch. Sigh.

Technically the papers they turned in are just drafts that I'm reviewing before they turn in their final papers. So I'm not actually grading them. But still. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Long Odds

So, wow. Had my first conversation with a guy who talked openly about how easy it was for him to make a boatload of money dealing drugs.

I think he was really talking about how hard it's going to be for him to not deal drugs, especially when it's likely going to take him weeks and weeks and weeks to land a legitimate job that will earn him the tiniest fraction of a boatload.

He says he wants to do it right this time. I sure hope he makes it. But, boy, it's not going to be easy.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Most of my new adventures today were work related. Yawn. So today I'm going to post about someone else's new adventures for a change.

Uncle John got to meet my cousin Tracey's new puppies for the first time today. Lucky guy! And it looks like the pups are lucky, too!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Roger could not resist using his phone to snap this shot of Jack giving his first talk in front of the entire congregation at church this morning.

Jack did a fabulous job. He may have talked really fast, but several people said they could understand him anyway because he articulated so well. They did laugh at the one part they were meant to. A very good experience for our boy!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupying SLC

So, okay, Roger and I were actually a couple of blocks away from Pioneer Park and Occupy Salt Lake City in very cushy accommodations at the Sheraton.

But we did spend some time at the park this morning, taking in the farmer's market (my favorite line I overheard: "We've got to get moving! You're spending too much time with the goat cheese!") and chatting it up with the occupiers, who had been asked to consolidate their tents on the tennis court the night before to make room for the booths.

The occupiers were quite happy, by the way, to support this kind of free market, where people sell real things they've worked hard to produce and customers can be clear about what they are buying.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Exit Interviews

This week I started meeting one-on-one with inmates at the jail who are about to be released. We talk about their immediate plans--who's picking them up (if anyone), whether they have a place to live, how to get their birth certificate, where they can go to get help finding employment, or bus tokens, or food, or a haircut.

Their stories are all different and all the same.

I'm going to have to figure out how to do this job without crying (or carb loading) when I come home for lunch.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


So I was planning to write about how we used for the very first time today and got a good deal on a four-star hotel for an upcoming getaway. I know! What took us so long?!

But then I went to our first library board meeting AT OUR NEW LIBRARY! (Yes, I'm shouting, but I'm just so darn excited!)

Saturday, October 29, from 9:30 to 4:00--THE BIG GRAND OPENING! Ribbon cutting! Puppet shows! Magic Shows! Orchestras! Face painting! Balloon animals! Storybook characters! Halloween candy! And Brandon Mull!

Sorry, You come in second.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Flying Dutchman

Yesterday, I ran into Akwasi Frimpong, an old student of mine, and he told me he was speaking today on campus as part of UVU's "Outcasts Speak" Week.

Jack and I headed up this afternoon to go to his presentation, which included a showing of an hour-long documentary (in Dutch with English subtitles) about his struggle to develop as an elite runner while living as an undocumented immigrant in the Netherlands for 13 years.

Akwasi was finally granted Dutch citizenship a few years ago, and hopes to represent the Netherlands at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. We'll be watching for him!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Could Only Manage One Bite of Chocolate Cake Afterward

Mom took us out to dinner for her last night here. Roger has been wanting to try the gnocchi at Gloria's Little Italy in downtown Provo so that's where we went.

Oh, my.

I had tortellini with rosata sauce (their classic pomarola sauce--vine-ripened fresh tomatoes and other fresh ingredients cooked together for 5-6 hours--blended with a touch of, mmmm, cream).

What we didn't know is that if you print out this page from their website and show it to them, you can get 20% off a meal for party of 4 or more.

Next time. Maybe tomorrow?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lifetime Pass

I finally remembered to get my new Utah Valley University parking tag to replace the one that expired at the end of September. I went to the brand spankin' new campus parking office to get it.

I am pleased to report that I now have UVU parking privileges through the end of the world (if those Mayans were actually on to something that is).

Sunday, October 09, 2011


My mother is a pusher. She introduced me today to Killer Sudoku.

Must. Resist. Addiction.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Guess Who Came to Dinner

This afternoon I drove up to Salt Lake City to meet my mom, who flew in yesterday for her annual meeting of the Fellows of the American Society of Genealogists. (Just to brag about my mom for a minute: the Fellows are an elite group of 50 who are selected based on their published genealogical scholarship. They are appointed for life, and the group only has an opening when one of them passes away.)

Mom invited me to join them for dinner, and we sat next to Alvy Ray Smith, one of the founders of . . . drumroll . . . Pixar. Yes, the Pixar. I think his eyes lit up a little when I told him that we are the kind of fans who stay through the closing credits to make sure we don't miss a thing.

He was very kind when I shook his hand and then immediately asked if I could shake his hand again.

He told me stories about the early days, about George Lucas coming along and then Steve Jobs. I asked him where the name came from, and he told me that he grew up in New Mexico speaking a bit of Spanish and he wanted to come up with a name that was reminiscent of making pictures and sounded like a Spanish verb. He wanted an action word.


Friday, October 07, 2011

Homecoming and Going

My alma mater's homecoming is this weekend. I'm not attending any of the official events, but I got to enjoy an unofficial one. One of my favorite friends from college decided on a whim to drive down from Idaho with her two daughters for the weekend, and we all had a long, lovely lunch together today.

Rebecca is the kind of friend that I can pick up with right where we left off no matter how many years pass between visits. It is a blessing to have friends like that.

Her oldest daughter Megan is a senior in high school, and she's thinking very seriously about going to college in Boston. As you can imagine, I think that is a fine idea. After spending some time talking with her today, I'm ready to write her a letter of recommendation. She's a sharp one!

I got to hold Megan the very day she was born. If she does go to Boston, I'd like to think it's a result of my early influence on her.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

October 6th?

Yes, October 6th. Our backyard. The Celestial Cauldron in the foreground looks sadly diminished. My longing for winter solstice begins.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Apple to Apple, Dust to Dust

Like so many others, I learned about the death of Steve Jobs on my Apple device. A MacBook Pro in my case. The news was all over my facebook feed. Apple to Apple.

Thank you for turning your vision into reality, Mr. Jobs! Thank you for your revolutionary ideas about form and function. The world is a better place because you were here.

Roger decided yesterday that he might take the plunge and get the new iPhone (the camera sold him on it). Now we'll do it in your memory.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


I was poking around doing some online research today for a project I'm working on and came across the upcoming fiscal year budget for the city we live in.

I'm a big fan of citizen awareness and government transparency, but I often fail to pay as much attention as I think I should. Even when I can find information like this so easily on the interwebs.

By the way, I'm generally happy with the way Springville City is managing our collective affairs. I've only just skimmed the budget report at this point, but I appreciate the straightforward, pragmatic tone.

I'm a big fan of pragmatism. And cinnamon toast.

Monday, October 03, 2011


For a day jam packed from beginning to end, I'm amazed I didn't really do anything out of the ordinary. I suppose there were little things, like getting my laptop set up so I can access the internet at work or experimenting with a new way to have my students peer review one another's papers. But I've been accessing the internet and having students do peer reviews for a long, long time.

What was out of the ordinary was hearing a new (to me) song on the car radio, from an artist I haven't really paid any attention to, and being totally caught up in it. It's unusual to have my spot hit like that. So I thought I'd share.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


Last night I arrived too late to meet the nun who was visiting my friend Ronda and giving a presentation about a school she works with in India. All of the guests were gone, but I did get to have a very nice visit with my friend.

And she sent me home with a delicious homemade loaf of chocolate banana bread, which we sure enjoyed today. I don't think I've ever had chocolate banana bread before. It was extra moist, just like my mom's fabulous zucchini chocolate cake. We're going to have to add it to our repertoire.

Mind, soul, and body fed. Thanks, Ronda!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

While the Boys Were Away

Roger took Jack to his very first priesthood session of the semi-annual LDS general conference tonight, and I headed out to spend the evening with the girls. Four generations of women (and one adorable grand nephew) gathered at my mother-in-law's house for a pleasant visit over a tasty dessert.

It was a very comforting way to ease into this new phase of our lives. Frankly, ever since Jack turned twelve it feels like he's been on a fast track to becoming a man. I think I'm going to need a lot of easing over the next few years.

Friday, September 30, 2011

As Good Luck Would Have It

Roger and I drove down to Cedar City, home of the internationally renowned Utah Shakespeare Festival, for some Utah Library Association meetings today.

As good luck would have it, we had the chance to hear Fred Adams, founder of the festival, speak during lunch. He was utterly engaging as he shared all sorts of tidbits about Shakespeare, including many words and phrases coined by Shakespeare. Like "as good luck would have it" (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1600).

After lunch, we visited special collections at the university library and feasted our eyes on their first edition folio of Shakespeare's work, printed at the request of Shakespeare himself when he discovered people were printing up (very badly) transcribed copies of his plays.

Days like today remind me that I really do live "a charmed life" (Macbeth, 1605). Not that I have a problem with "too much of a good thing" (As You Like It, 1600).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hitting the Gym

Wish I could say I've been diligent about working out lately, but no. Roger and I spent the afternoon standing in various lines to meet with Jack's teachers for our first round of parent teacher conferences in the junior high gymnasium. We entertained ourselves while we waited by talking with friends and neighbors, all of whom have to stand in a lot more lines than we do each term.

One small upside of parenting an only child.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cat Race

Today was a bit of a rat race, scrambling to keep up with everything. The best part? When I came home from book club night at the art museum to this:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


No deep reflection, though I have been thinking about my brother for a variety of reasons lately, and I realize that I'll be seeking closure for some time. He would have been 51 yesterday. It's an odd feeling to think that he'll stay 50 in my mind for the rest of my life.

No, this is a post about how we had to park a block away to accommodate street resurfacing today. It was fun to see more neighbors out and about as we walked back and forth to our cars!

Monday, September 26, 2011


I got my very first flu shot ever today. Free shots for all sheriff department employees. I figured I'd take advantage since I work with a lot of people in a lot of different situations every day.

So far so good.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Which My Crush Deepens

I started reading Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches for the first time this afternoon in preparation for a book discussion at the Springville Museum of Art on Wednesday (7 p.m., everyone is welcome!).

The experiences of Alcott's fictional Miss Periwinkle, who works as a nurse in a Washington, DC, hospital during the Civil War are based on her own. I'm about a third of the way in and love Alcott's humor and spirit, which shine through everything Miss Periwinkle faces along the way.

Here's one nugget, when at one point Miss Periwinkle second guesses her decision to volunteer for service (Tom is her brother, who suggested it when she said she wanted something to do):

"I never can do it," thought I. "Tom will hoot at you if you if you don't," whispered the inconvenient little voice that is always goading people to the performance of disagreeable duties, and always appeals to the most effective agent to produce the proper result.

And another after she boards a boat on her travels to DC:

Trying to look as if the greater portion of my life had been passed on board boats, but painfully conscious that I don't know the first thing; so sit bolt upright, and stare about me till I hear one lady say to another--"We must secure our berths at once;" whereupon I dart at one, and, while leisurely taking off my cloak, wait to discover what the second move may be.

And this as she recalls what she thought when she saw pictures of the Capitol growing up:

I was sure that Cinderella went to housekeeping in just such a place, after she married the inflammable Prince; though, even at that early period, I had my doubts as to the wisdom of a match whose foundation was of glass.

I suppose I'm not really saying anything new or unexpected when I say that I would have dearly loved knowing that Louisa May Alcott in person. We'd have done a good deal of laughing together, I'm sure!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Breakfast Club

One of my book clubs met for breakfast this morning instead of our usual Thursday night meeting. Great food, great friends, great weather for a long backyard conversation! And I confess, I only felt a tiny twinge of guilt as I left Roger and Jack working on the yard to revel in it all.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rebirth, Part Two

I know that I've already written about the death of our quirky town newspaper and the advent of a new town newspaper that has filled the void this year. But it's happened again!

When I was a student at BYU in the 1980s, a few adventurous souls started up an independent student newspaper called the Student Review. I ate up every issue. I loved that it existed! Students kept it going for at least a dozen years--surviving quite a bit of turbulence--before it folded.

Today, I sat down and browsed the very first issue of a new era of the Student Review. This, from the first letter from the editors, makes me smile:

"We at the Student Review believe that a true education can only occur through the interaction of different ideas and viewpoints, an interaction we have hoped to facilitate in the pages you are currently holding. We hope it will spur you to new thoughts, increased conversation both at home and in the classroom and if nothing else, a lot of laughter."

Amen and amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tour Guide

After I dropped Jack off at school in plenty of time for the 8:00 a.m. bell, I headed over to the Springville Museum of Art to meet with the AP art history class from the high school. I was invited to give them a bit of an introduction to Louisa May Alcott and the exhibition.

What a nice way to start my day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Another short and sweet. Totally exhausted. I think I might have run a marathon today.

While I waited for my class to show up in the classroom at the jail, I worked on grading papers for my UVU students. They'd written personal narratives about significant events in their lives. I opened up my folder and started reading the first paper in the stack. A student had written about spending time in jail, likely the very jail I was sitting in at that very moment.

One of the topics we're talking about in my class at the jail is how to go about getting more education, and UVU is a really good option. When the inmates arrived, I told them about the paper. "Here is a story about a woman who was once exactly where you are and is now one of my university students."

That's the kind of coincidence that doesn't totally feel like a coincidence.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Healing the People

I'm tempted to say nothing new today as I am swamped in a stack of papers that I need to have graded by tomorrow. That is nothing new, especially the procrastination that has led me to this point.

But I've got to write about something new. That is the whole point of my blog this year. So here goes. Short and sweet.

I learned today that the Indian Walk-In Center in Salt Lake City hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for the community each year. I think that speaks volumes about the organization's stated mission of "healing the people."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Something to Chew On

Every day that I work at the jail involves new and unexpected experiences. I don't feel like I can share very much because most of the stories are not mine to tell. I suppose, though, that I can share tidbits like learning that you can make hair gel (which is against the rules) out of Jolly Rancher candies and toothpaste.

At first I thought you'd have to chew up the candies and spit them out, but apparently you can just crush them and add a bit of water.

Today I learned a new paradigm. A woman I'd invited to discuss the services her non-profit offers talked about personal boundaries. Not in terms of how they protect us, but in terms of how they define us. And that we actually need to protect them.

Our emotions, our values, the standards we set for ourselves, etc. are all boundaries that we should be aware of as we develop relationships with people. If we allow people to ignore or trample our boundaries--for example, by dismissing something that is important to us or telling us we shouldn't feel a certain way--we're giving them power to define who we are. And that might not be so healthy.

Since I won't need to chew the Jolly Ranchers, I am going to chew on that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Jack wrenched his ankle yesterday and it's still bugging him. We broke out our brand new ACE bandage and wrapped it up, hoping it feels better by morning. Such an improvement over our ancient ACE bandage that had stretched to more than 12 feet long! Not very helpful when it's that stretched out.

I also learned from the packaging that ACE is meant to be in all caps. Who knew?