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?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Continuing Ed

I spent a lovely Saturday morning holed up indoors at my first adjunct faculty conference at UVU. But it was well worth my time!

The main session I attended was on engaging students in ways that acknowledge multiple intelligences. I came away with at least three new specific ideas that I'm going to implement in classes this coming week, both at UVU and at the jail. Keeping it fresh!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A (Mormon) Open Bar

We hosted a fun party for tonight for Roger's boss, all of her direct reports and their families. In addition to a cookout--which got "rained in" so hotdogs and marshmallows had to be roasted over the gas stove--everyone brought the most unusual soft drinks they could find, many from far flung places like Peru and Australia and Flathead Lake. We broke out a box of 3 oz. Dixie bathroom cups and had a tasting.

I feel a (carb) hangover coming on.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Scoop

Jack worked on a photo essay for his photography merit badge today. Roger gets extra dad points for playing the starring role and for splurging on a new hobby for Jack. Here's the story as seen through the lens of our ace journalist.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting Oriented

I finally got a key to the bathroom at work. Now I've just got to figure out where the bathroom is in case I need to use it. That place is a maze.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Long View

I thought Roger and I had a perfect plan today, but we were thwarted by the crowds. I should have realized that it would be impossible to get a seat in the UVU ballroom to hear the Bill Nye speak without showing up very, very early when so many of my students were crazy happy that he was coming to campus. One of them even changed his work schedule so he could attend.

This is the the crowd milling around outside the entrance to the ballroom, which was absolutely packed.

This is a picture of the man himself taken with my amazing zoom. At least we got to see that bow tie in person.

Despite straining, we could barely hear a word. Sadly, we left. We took a detour on the way back to the car through the library, which was built just a few years ago. I don't think I'd ever been above the second floor. Looking out across the valley and Utah Lake to the west from the fifth floor was spectacular!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Drip, Drip

I launched part of my transitional skills program at the jail with a visit from a local non-profit that offers resources for personal and career development. We held five classes and met with more than 100 inmates. Life changing? No. A step in the right direction? For a handful of them, possibly a small one.

What encourages me is how engaged most of them were in the activities and discussions and how readily they asked questions. It helps me believe that if we put enough drops in the bucket, we will gather enough to quench their thirst when they choose to take a swig.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Opposite of Evil

Roger and Jack woke up extra early to help the scouts put up flags in all of the yards around the neighborhood, which they do about a half dozen times a year on civic holidays and important days of remembrance like today. Yet another new responsibility now that Jack is 12.

I remember waking up to flags in the neighborhood on the morning of September 12, 2001, and taking great comfort in the sense of community they represented. We were there for one another. The horrifying acts that resulted from the worst of human nature were bringing out the best in us. Over and over we heard stories of people putting others ahead of themselves, of doing good, even when it meant great sacrifice.

Late this afternoon, just after the boys got home from taking down flags, it started thundering and raining. I curled up under a blanket and watched the Frontline episode called Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero.

As the show grappled with the question of how the men who hijacked the planes could have done what they did, one line in particular rang true: "Maybe evil is when you lose your sense that a human being is a human being."

So how do we combat evil? We do the opposite. We see one another. We love one another. We pray for one another. Even, and perhaps most importantly, for our enemies.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rising Moon, Rising Star

I am especially excited to report that Roger and I had a completely out of the ordinary evening. We headed to the Castle Amphitheater on the grounds of the Utah State Hospital in Provo to see a new play written by our niece's husband, Mahonri Stewart called The Opposing Wheel.

I have lived in the Provo area for almost all of the last 30 years and have never been to the amphitheater. I'd heard of it, but had no idea it was so cool!

We got there just before the play started and it was getting dark, so it was tough to get any pictures of the place, which was built as a WPA project in the 1930s. Here's a shot of our view, with the lights in the valley below.

I wish I could have gotten a shot of the nearly full moon peeking out of the clouds behind us as it rose above the mountain top. It was magical, just like Mahonri's play. Literally. Magical spells and all. What a thought provoking, crazy mix of characters from Camelot, minions of the devil, a lovely pagan trapped in a tower, and a Mormon (who, in what may be an homage to the Book of Mormon musical on Broadway, went on his church mission to Ghana).

From the director: "I'm going to be honest--the first time I read the script I thought 'What was Mahonri thinking?' . . . But nothing turns out the way you expect. It's pretty difficult to figure out who the real heroes are because everyone has goodness and everyone has flaws. It's a whole new reality that isn't so hard to believe if you allow yourself to consider the possibilities. And even if you don't, it's still an amusing, touching, modern fairy tale." With a nice feminist twist, I might add.

Keep your eyes on this Mahonri Stewart, people. He's got a fabulous start on a big, big life!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Constructive Avoidance Behavior

When I was in college, my bathroom was never cleaner than it was during finals week.

Today I graded every single one of the quizzes and essays my students turned in on Wednesday. A full three days before classes meet again! I'm not sure I have ever been this on top of grading.

Of course, I still haven't done the work I put off while getting the grading done . . .

Thursday, September 08, 2011


The new Springville library will hold its grand opening on Saturday, October 29th. Good times all day long, including a visit from author Brandon Mull! Mark your calendars, library lovers!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Ahead of Schedule

I found out yesterday that the museum was hoping to have all of the shows opening on Saturday up and ready to go by this evening for a special event. So we shifted into high gear and got it done. I still have a few details to attend to, but it looks good. (My thumb, however, doesn't look so good after I smacked it with a hammer.)

During class tonight, I decided to offer my UVU students a bit of extra credit if they visit the exhibition and write an essay about the experience. It made me a little sad that most of them had never really heard of Louisa May Alcott. I hope some of them take me up on it. She's worth hearing of!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Fed Body and Soul

I met my friend Ann in Salt Lake City for lunch today. She made three restaurant suggestions, and even though they all sounded fabulous, it was an easy choice. I picked the one I'd never been to before. You know, so I'd have something new to blog about today.

We met at the Oasis Cafe. Ann recommended the salmon lox crustini. Another easy choice. I didn't even bother to look at the rest of the menu, and I wasn't disappointed.

My favorite part of the meal, though? The conversation. Ann is interesting and wise and funny. At one point we talked about how to balance getting after our kids and giving them room to be responsible for themselves. Ann's clue that she might have been nagging her sons a bit too much? When their pet parrot started saying things like, "Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth."

Oh, Ann, thanks for the good food and the great laugh!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Input and Output

First, I have just uploaded this photo by sticking my camera's memory card directly into my new computer. I no longer need to track down the cable!

Second, the photo is of the large-format printer at the BYU library. Roger and I are using it to print the signage for the Alcott show. Very professional are we.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Lesson

Today I was the substitute teacher for Jack's class at church. We talked about Jesus' resurrection.

At one point, I asked the kids to tell me words that could describe how his disciples must have felt when Jesus died. As the request came out of my mouth, I wondered what one of Jack's classmates would think. She lost her mom in a car accident last winter.

"Sad," said one boy. "Hopeless," said someone else. I wrote the words on the chalkboard.

"Devastated," she said.

We read 1 Corinthians 15:22 and talked about what Jesus' resurrection means. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. And then we came up with a list of words to describe how his disciples must have felt when they realized Jesus was with them again.

Happy. Hopeful. Restored.

I am a disciple like Thomas. It's hard for me to believe things I haven't seen for myself. But today what I did see was this girl's eyes shining brightly as we talked. Happy. Hopeful. And they reminded me why I choose faith.

Saturday, September 03, 2011


We spent the evening with some college friends who shared both hard-earned bounty from their garden and hard-earned (slightly angst-ridden) wisdom they're gaining as they parent children who are now in their twenties.

I know our little family will change in the coming years, and all of the changes won't be easy. But for now, and for as long as Jack will let us, I'm holding on to the way it is.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Down Under

So fun to go where only authorized personnel can go! This afternoon we descended below campus to the library loading dock to pick up the display cases for the Alcott exhibit. We delivered them to the Springville Museum of Art without incident.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Fasten Your Seat Belts

Jack and his friends heading into their first junior high dance. Oh my. We're in the fast lane now.