Thursday, June 30, 2011


I have spent the last couple of days immersed in research for my new job. I've been on the phone, on the internet, sending email messages, and this morning I hit the road to visit a variety of agencies that I'll be working with. Today's agenda included the Food and Care Coalition, United Way, Workforce Services, the Center for Women and Children in Crisis, and Mountainland Applied Technology College (MATC).

My head is very full at the moment.

And so is my heart. I've only just begun to scratch the surface of an amazing network of dedicated people and interagency cooperation. Every single person I've talked with so far is passionate about connecting people with resources and opportunities they may think are lost to them because of mistakes they've made, even the woman who spent many years investigating cases of welfare fraud. I'm inspired and a bit overwhelmed.

PS: And so is my belly. I passed one of my favorite bakeries on the way home and picked up a loaf of cinnamon burst bread to try. As buttery toast, it is irresistible.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Feeding the Addiction

Over the past dozen years I've belonged to more than half a dozen book clubs. So perhaps this post isn't about anything new or out of the ordinary. But it was different!

Tonight I attended a brand new book club hosted by the Springville Museum of Art called "unbound: a book club for art lovers."

I can't think of a more inspiring setting to spend time discussing interesting books with interesting people. Plus they served chocolate and strawberries.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Input Requested

No promises, but I just might be cooking up something new, and I want to know what you think about it. I'm in the very, very early stages of the project, gathering information, talking to key people, and trying to decide if it's even feasible, especially whether the city will go for it.

Here's the idea in a nutshell: The old Springville city building and library is slated to be torn down next spring. Before that happens, what if we invited a whole bunch of artists to stake out territory in the building, let them work their creative magic, then open it up as a temporary art exhibition. If we can pull it off, we might even be able to turn it into a fundraiser for projects like the new library and the Rivoli theater renovation. And we could make a documentary along the way, something that would last.

Today I met with Adam Price, the director of the Salt Lake Art Center. In 2007, he put together Project 337, which is the basic inspiration for my idea (though I imagine it would unfold quite differently in our community).

Adam gave me a good sense of what organizing it all involved (by the end, after this video of the project in process was filmed, 150 artists participated!), and even though it sounds exhausting, I think it would be amazing!

What do you think? (And would you want to help?!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Thousand Hours

It only took three months (click here to read the beginning of the story), but I made it through all of the background checking and started a new job today!

I'll be developing and teaching classes to help inmates at the jail transition back into the community after they've served their time, and part of my job will involve working with various non-profit and governmental organizations that can provide them with opportunities and support.

This may sound like a strange turn for me to take, but at its core this job is what I've been drawn to and doing all my adult life: connecting people with ideas or information or skills or other people or whatever, hoping they will take what I offer and run with it.

And I'm sort of going back to one of my earlier career aspirations. When I started college, I planned to major in forensic psychology. I have absolutely no idea why I was drawn to that field, and after taking a criminal justice class, I realized that I was too naive, too trusting, not street smart enough to head that direction. In a way I've come full circle, but this time around I won't have to make hard judgments about anyone. Instead I'll get to root for them.

According to the county personnel office, I am a "thousand-hour" employee, which means I can work a thousand hours a year. A thousand hours to make a difference.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stop, Hey, What's That Sound?

Completely on his own, Jack decided to sign up to take clarinet in band when he heads to junior high in the fall. A couple of weeks ago, his band teacher called with some recommended brands. Roger got right on the hunt and found a used Yamaha for a good price on Ebay. It arrived in the mail yesterday.

All of a sudden the house is filled with a whole new sound. Considering he's never played a clarinet before and has had basically zero instruction, he seems to be off to a pretty good start!

But I think it might take a while before everyone in the house is on board with it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Take Out

Thanks to a generous and great uncle benefactor, who was so excited for us when he heard we had a brand spankin' new Papa John's pizza here in Springville that he sent us a gift card, we ordered pizza tonight. A lot of pizza. We will happily be eating pizza for days and days.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A One-Two Punch

It took me years to get used to leaving voice mail messages for people. I still ramble too much even now. Also, I am not very comfortable having my picture taken or being videotaped. Needless to say, I routinely shy away from recording devices.

But today? I've been put on the record not just once, but twice.

The Once

This morning, Roger and I were interviewed for a new talk radio show called This'll Take a While. BYU Radio is being picked up by Sirius XM next month and they're working on developing programming for a more national audience. The host, who was one of our bookstore customers, invited us to talk about a broad range of things, including where we come from, how and why we decided to open a bookstore, and what it's led us to since.

Well, for one, it led us to a recording studio! (Wish we'd taken a picture of us sitting in front of giant microphones with our headphones on.)

Our interview, which was recorded "as if live," will air on BYU Radio next Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. MDT. It's an hour-long show, and you can listen to it online by clicking here. Then it should go in the queue for rebroadcasting from time to time after that. I don't know if or when it will be available for listening on demand.

The Twice

This evening, Jack and I had the opportunity to dance with Matt for a new video that should come out later this year (Roger took pictures). Matt travels all over the world and dances his own little dance in front of all sorts of landmarks--some well known, some just typical of the place he's visiting. Over the years he's involved more and more people in his project.

Here is Matt's latest dancing video. If you haven't seen it before it's worth the few minutes it takes to watch.

Just thinking about Matt's adventures makes me smile. What a positive contribution he makes to the world. And we got to dance with him tonight!

Matt gave the group some last minute instructions before joining us in the Great Salt Lake to dance.

Here we are with Matt. I was trying not to act as star struck as I felt. Seriously, Matt's latest youtube video has been viewed more than 37 million times!

After the dancing, we really, really had to wash the mucky, smelly, buggy lake off of us. It was just our small sacrifice for art.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Switch

I was going to write about going to a wedding reception for one of Roger's cousins in Salt Lake this evening. It was in a beautiful location, the bride was a pleasure to meet, and it was fun to see the groom, whom we hadn't seen since he was an infant because his parents whisked him off to raise him in Germany.

But, you know, a wedding reception isn't something that out of the ordinary. Not as out of the ordinary as passing this on the way home:

Just in case you can't quite tell what it is from the photo, it's a Google maps street view camera car! I'm trying to decide if it's cooler than the time we saw the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile or not.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Slug's Reward

I slept in a bit too late this morning to go running before it got too hot (okay, a lot too late). So I decided to put it off until later. But later it was still too hot (over 85 degrees with the sun beating down on me is too hot for a run in my book).

So I decided to push my run as late as possible. And since we are on the other side of the summer solstice and it is still one of the longest days of the year, I was able to push it pretty late.

I didn't set out until nearly 8:30. The temperature had dropped to 84, and the sun was so low in the sky it was no longer beating down on me.

Ooh, and a breeze had started to come up.

I ran and ran as the sun went down and daylight faded. As I ran the last leg of my route, I had a nice strong evening wind from the canyon at my back.

And then just as it began to get too dark for me to be out there on my own, I reached my home all welcoming with the lights on and my family there waiting for me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

15 Hours and 6 Minutes of Sun

I've been waiting for over a month to write about the new backyard fire pit that Jack and I picked out for Roger's birthday. Our old one fell apart last summer, so we wanted to invest in something a bit hardier.

After much comparison shopping, we could not resist the Celestial Cauldron from Home Depot, circled with cutouts of stars and moons. It would be especially perfect for our annual Summer Solstice marshmallow roast.

Jack prepared a custom fire starter (note the match-tipped nose). Roger prepared the pit with last year's Christmas tree (yes, it is small – I love that our good hearted Jack always picks the Charlie Brown trees). It took a moment or two, but soon we had a raging bonfire that felt appropriately pagan.

Solstice greetings to all!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Different View

We're storing some things in our garage for a couple of weeks, so we've been parking one of our cars in our driveway. When I got home from running errands today, I parked on the far west side of the driveway to take advantage of the shade of our maple tree.

I got out of the car and happened to look up at the view through our side yard, a view I rarely pay attention to. I was so surprised at the size of the trees and the way they frame the peaks.

Looking at a picture like this, you'd never know we live in a square house on a flat square lot in a flat square suburban neighborhood!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Llamas and the Papas

On the way home from wishing Roger's dad a happy Father's Day, we passed this guy. Not something you see on 9th East in Provo every day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thanking Richard

This afternoon, I got to meet historian Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, at a symposium on Mormonism in Cultural Contexts held at the Springville Museum of Art. (Technically I might have met him before. When I was five, we attended the same church in Cambridge, Mass.)

Bushman's 2005 biography of Joseph Smith was groundbreaking, particularly because of the risks he took.

With a PhD from Harvard and as a faculty member at Columbia University, he took a significant risk within his academic community by presenting Smith's spiritual claims at face value, not working on the assumption that Joseph Smith was a fraud. Bushman was up front in the preface about his own beliefs, and then he maintained objectivity throughout the book by not positing Smith's claims were true or untrue, just that they were.

He also took a significant risk within his Mormon community by presenting Smith as a fallible human being in the context of his time and place, including his family's openness to spiritual practices that were not particularly uncommon then, but would certainly raise eyebrows today, such as folk magic. An academically rigorous biography will necessarily find itself at odds with traditional, faith-promoting stories of a prophet, and this biography was no exception.

In my opinion, Bushman's risks paid off. I'm glad I had a chance to thank him in person for taking them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Quiet House

Roger has already gone to bed--poor guy was totally exhausted when he came home from work--and Jack is at an overnight.

It's so strange to be sitting here at only 10 p.m. on a Friday night, the only one awake. I don't even know where the cats are. Um, I guess since I'm the only one up, I'd better make sure they're in for the night.

Update at 11 p.m.: The cats just slinked in.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Afternoon Delight

In the middle of the day, Jack and I drove up to BYU, met Roger in his office at the library, and whisked him away with us on a mountain adventure.

Oh, wait. No.
We never actually left the university.

We had a picnic and a walk along the new creekside path on the south end of campus.

Well, Roger and I walked on the path. Jack took the creek.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A New Mission

The-one-who-knows-me-so-well, aka my husband, brought home a book from the library today and introduced me to a Japanese business I had never heard of before: MUJI.

Before I die, I must see a MUJI store in person.

Here is a quote from the first essay in the book: "MUJI's [design] concept of emphasizing the intrinsic appeal of an object through rationalization and meticulous elimination of excess is closely connected to the traditionally Japanese aesthetic of 'su'--meaning plain or unadorned--the idea that simplicity is not merely modest or frugal, but could possibly be more appealing than luxury. . . . Our products, which we think of as 'mature' or 'ripened,' are the fruits of exchanges with our customers over many years."

Not fancy, not cheap and shoddy, just well designed, well made and useful.

And the cherry on top? They've partnered with LEGO.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Got my retainers today. The clear kind. I have to wear them 24/7 for the first two weeks and then nightly for, I believe, the rest of my life. If I want my teeth to stay in place that is. You know, retained.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pure Space

I finished re-reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea this morning during Jack's swimming lesson. Yes, I have read it before, so it isn't new to me. But I have never read it as a middle-aged woman before, and it's the kind of book that reads differently when one reads it at various life stages.

Here is a passage that particularly struck me this time through. I want to remember this as I stick my toes into that pure space I already see opening up before me.

For is it not possible that middle age can be looked upon as a period of second flowering, second growth, even a kind of second adolescence? It is true that society in general does not accept this interpretation of the second half of life. And therefore this period of expanding is often tragically misunderstood. Many people never climb above the plateau of forty-to-fifty. The signs that presage growth, so similar, it seems to me, to those in early adolescence: discontent, restlessness, doubt, despair, longing, are interpreted falsely as signs of decay. In youth one does not as often misinterpret the signs; one accepts them, quite rightly as growing pains. One takes them seriously, listens to them, follows where they lead. One is afraid. Naturally. Who is not afraid of pure space--that breath-taking empty space of an open door? But despite fear, one goes through to the room beyond.

But in middle age, because of the false assumption that it is a period of decline, one interprets these life-signs, paradoxically, as signs of approaching death. Instead of facing them, one runs away; one escapes--into depressions, nervous breakdowns, drink, love affairs, or frantic, thoughtless, fruitless overwork. Anything, rather than face them. Anything, rather than stand still and learn from them. One tries to cure the signs of growth, to exorcise them, as if they were devils, when really they might be angels of annunciation.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On the Rock, Off the Needles

Our last day with Sarah and Sofia. We thought it would be appropriate to take the geologist and her field study assistant extraordinaire to Rock Canyon for a hike and a picnic lunch.

We were right. You can tell by the grins.

PS: Weeks and weeks ago, I finished knitting a skein of yarn I bought for learning and practice into a long, well, thing. When I got to the end of the yarn, I realized I had no idea how to finish. Today Sarah taught me how to cast off. Now on to knitting something real.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another Cousin and Lots of Fresh Mozzarella

Cousin Sarah, Sofia and I drove up to Salt Lake City to drop one of Sarah's colleagues at the airport, and then headed into town to look around. We met up with cousin Talia, who works with the Salt Lake Art Center. She was busy setting up their annual gala--a major affair--so we only had a short visit, but it was fun to see her in action.

Here we are left to right: Talia, me, Sarah's daughter Sofia, Sarah

Talia wasn't able to break away to join us for lunch, but recommended the Caffe Molise, a fabulous Italian restaurant with a beautiful courtyard just a block or so away. The weather was perfect and the food was wonderful, especially the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. A very special occasion.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Knead to Know

My cousin Sarah and her crew wrapped up their geology field camp and are on their way back through this weekend. They brought us raspberry cream cheese pie from Kneaders. I did not need to know this pie existed. But now that I do, I think I might have more for breakfast.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Bonding while Debonding

My orthodontist schedules like procedures on the same days. So, for example, all of the patients they see on a particular day might be getting their braces put on. Or, they might be getting their braces off (known in the profession as debonding).

That would be me. Today. Yeah, baby!

It was a bit more painful than I expected, but as I was shuttled between the various steps in the process, including taking "after" x-rays and photographs, I enjoyed exchanging a bunch of giddy grins with all of my fellow debondees. They all had great looking teeth!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


One of my fondest dreams is to see as many corners of the earth and meet as many interesting people as I can before I die. But I also love reaching my roots deep into our own community. When we come together, we are truly greater than the sum of our parts.

Until this week, I had no idea that we had a special needs baseball league, and that we could volunteer to be buddies with the players. Our neighbor is working with the league for his Eagle Scout project and invited us to come help. What a joy to spend an hour celebrating every hit and run regardless of team.

After we got home, we walked to the Arts Park for the first day of the Art City Days carnival. Actually, we went specifically for the Kiwanis Club scone booth. Not a new treat, but an only-once-a-year treat. (And yes, perhaps eating out, but for a very good fundraising cause!)

Even though we walked to the park, we couldn't rationalize having homemade root beer with the scones. But while we stood in line, we enjoyed watching Jay Knight, Kiwanis Club president, making it.

Other booths we visited included the "will you support the pool and recreation center bond election in November" booth (yes!), the "will you help support the renovation of the old performing arts theater on Main Street" booth (yes!), and the "do you want to subscribe to the new town newspaper that has risen from the ashes of the old newspaper we are still mourning" booth (yes!).

Even though the town pool was already in desperately poor shape when we moved here 17 years ago, and even though the bond election to replace it could go either way (sadly my vote will only count once no matter how passionately I cast it), we made an extraordinarily good choice to put down roots in a community like this.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Down the Hobbit Path

Plans for Jack to sleepover with some favorite old friends later this week changed at the last minute, and to compensate we arranged an impromptu party at their house tonight.

After a feast of spaghetti and texas toast, the kids armed themselves for a nerf gun battle and the grownups headed out on a walk to make room for cake. We picked up the nearby Cedar Hills Parkway and spent a couple of miles enjoying perfect weather and the chance to catch up on everything.

It's a beautiful path that follows a canal as it winds through neighborhoods behind homes, cuts through the city park, and passes by one of the coolest tree forts ever.

We didn't catch a glimpse of any of the hobbits who must live there, though. Perhaps they were out walking to make room for cake, too.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Full Swing

When Jack was in first grade, his teacher told us about his amazing ability to turn anything into a toy, even scraps of paper left over from class projects. Summer is now in full swing, and so is Jack's imagination.

The other day I found Jack and his friend Brett hunched over an old National Geographic world map they'd spread out on the coffee table, plotting their global domination with pebbles and old foreign coins.

This morning Jack and his friend Josh repaired this ocean liner, which was scattered in a hundred pieces they salvaged from the ocean--er, entryway--floor.

Late this afternoon we discovered that the neighbors across the street had a truckload of sand delivered to their backyard. Jack helped Miles and Daphne build an entire city, including underground tunnels, highways, and pyramids. With only a break for dinner, they worked until the sun went down.

When Jack had trouble finding all of his cars in the fading daylight, he ran home to get an old metal detector that his friend Josh gave him when his family got a new one. It turned them up easily, and now the kids are meeting up tomorrow to play more games with the metal detector.

Speaking of people passing things on to Jack--something that inexplicably happens all of the time!--here's his latest treasure, acquired from our friends' new house: two old wooden military supply boxes that had been used by the previous owners as planters. Jack's eyes lit up when he discovered our friends didn't want them. He immediately saw all sorts of possibilities and jumped in straightaway to help empty out all of the dirt, which our friends will be using for the mud pie kitchen they're making in their backyard.

We loaded the boxes in the back of the Jeep, brought them home, and Roger and Jack spent an hour scrubbing them. Jack hopes I'll be convinced nothing is nesting in them so he can put them in his room. We'll see. We googled the information stamped on the boxes; they were made in 1947 to transport napalm bombs from Boston to Denver.

Can life get any more exciting than that when you're a 12-year-old boy and school is out for the summer?

Oh, yeah! Now it's after 10:00 and I've got to go track Jack down somewhere in the neighborhood. He's out playing night games with Cooper, Zoe and the gang, and he has to get up really early for swimming lessons.

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Jack stepped up over and over today, passing the sacrament at church for the very first time and then spending more than an hour after church going from home to home in the neighborhood collecting fast offerings to help people in need, again a first for him.

Jack's drive to work hard doing good was rewarded with a relaxing Sunday afternoon drive all the way around Utah Lake. We could not have asked for better weather for an adventure in our roofless Jeep.

Here are a just a few of our unexpected pleasures along the way.

The dusty sagebrush hills all along the west side of the lake were sprinkled with bright orange blossoms.

The snowy mountaintops provided a stunning backdrop for acre after acre of orderly rows of fruit trees in Goshen.

Our inspiring picnic spot at the south end of the lake included a nice breeze to keep the bugs away.

It was a good day today for our little family.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Close Your Eyes and Tap Your Heels

We helped our good friends and their three little girls move into a new house that will be a magical place for their family. It wasn't as easy as tapping our heels, and they've got plenty of hard work ahead of them to get all settled in, but they're well on their way to creating a no place like home.

Friday, June 03, 2011

On the Roof

For our first Friday night under our new austerity rules, we headed to the free rooftop concert in Provo tonight. Inspiring venue (up on the roof it almost feels like a real city!) and very fun music.

It wasn't our first concert at the top of the Provo Town Square parking terrace, and it wasn't the first time we've heard Mindy Gledhill, a well known local singer/songwriter, perform. But it was the first time we heard Meaghan Smith, who is from Ontario, Canada.

Meaghan Smith recently won the 2011 Juno Award for New Artist of the Year. One of her big claims to fame is having a song on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack. Here's a video of her song from the movie, Here Comes Your Man:

Thursday, June 02, 2011


So our last two credit card bills were a bit painful to pay off. Trips east, major car repairs, birthdays, a visit to the vet that was twice what I thought it would be (I didn't realize I was being quoted a price per cat, not the total for the two of them!).

Austerity measures are now in force for the balance of the month of June: no purchases that are not very carefully considered, and particularly no eating out without a very special reason.

Luckily we've already paid for a few upcoming treats so we won't feel totally deprived. Jack will have his swimming lessons, his first at the Springville pool. Roger and I will have a Park City getaway thanks to my very first Groupon purchase. And I've got a plane ticket for Boston in July for my very first high school reunion (that I'll attend, that is).

I always feel better when I've got a plane ticket in my possession.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

At the Post Office

It's apparently in my nature to strike up conversations with people I don't know. I love meeting new people and learning about them--what they are interested in, projects they're involved in, ideas they have.

So when I overheard a conversation between a customer and the postal service worker about mail order chicks (as in chickens, not brides), I had to jump in. Even though I'm not thinking about owning chickens myself, I'm interested in the idea of urban chicken ownership and other ways people use their land to sustain themselves. And I'm interested in the politics of it all. Why, for example, was it okay to own chickens in Salt Lake City, but not more rural Salt Lake County for many years? (The ordinance was recently changed, by the way.)

Anyway, as we talked about chickens, the customer and I realized we already knew each other from the bookstore many years ago. She remembered specific books I had recommended to her, and I remembered a conversation we had about community gardening.

She told me about her business focused on nutrition and real food and a recipe book she'd published (she was at the post office mailing off copies to her customers). I told her that I'd just today read a Michael Pollan interview about debunking food myths and bookmarked it to share with my college writing students to teach them how easily scientific research can be oversimplified and distorted to support various agendas. (By the way, I teach that as a warning to students as they research--encouraging them to seek out the original studies--not as a technique for them to use in their own writing!)

She told me about her trips to Haiti and her interest in micro-financing. I told her about the book I was just reading last night called The Blue Sweater. She told me that the author, Jacqueline Novogratz, is one of her personal heroes. And then we bonded over Jacqueline's TED talks and, well, all TED talks.

As I write this it occurs to me that she actually does things while I just think and read about them. Hmmm. Well, I did tell her I'd help her lobby Springville City government to loosen up restrictions so people in any neighborhood can own chickens if they want to, not just in neighborhoods zoned for agriculture. If Salt Lake City lets people own chickens, why not Springville?

So fun to have a new (old) acquaintance!