Friday, August 31, 2012

The Way Back

Riding in the way back of our Cherokee tonight to make room for three of Jack's friends, I reminisced about the time I rode for more than 2,000 miles in the back of our Wrangler without a seat.

It was part of a grand adventure Roger and I went on before Jack was born. We left the seat at home to make room for all of the stuff we thought we might need along the way. Which was fine until we met up with my sister Maryann in Tucson to take her with us to Mexico and down the Baja Peninsula.

We kept our duffle bags and put the rest of our stuff into a storage unit, then picked Maryann up at the teepee she was living in. Here she is with Eddie Bear, our trip mascot.

Both Roger and Maryann are prone to car sickness--especially on some of the crazy roads we drove on--so I got to ride in the back the whole way. Here's Eddie Bear peeking out the window.

It wasn't really that bad. I got to make myself comfortable on our bags. The only real inconvenience was when we stopped and I had to wait for someone to let me out. That was a bit awkward with all of the military checkpoints along the way.

We also got out of the Jeep from time to time for some adventure. Here is Eddie Bear kayaking on the Sea of Cortez.

And hanging out on the beach. He didn't get to come with us in those teeny tiny boats you can see past the mudflats that we took whale watching. They were darn tiny boats for watching darn big whales.

On the way back across the border into the United States, we were stopped for an inspection. Roger and Maryann got out of the Jeep and opened the back door to let me out. The border patrol agent looked at our Utah license plate, looked at Roger, looked at Maryann, looked at me, looked back at our Utah license plate, then got a little grin on his face. We got through just fine.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I got home late, late from book club tonight. Stayed after chatting with friends I haven't seen enough of since spring.

The first book club I joined was a neighborhood club when we moved to Springville nearly 20 years ago. I remember hanging out with all of these women who, on the surface, seemed very homogenous. But as we discussed the books we read, I realized how different we were in so many ways.

I loved it.

I loved getting to know the women who laughed with abandon and the women who rewarded us with rare smiles. I loved getting to know the women who spent every spare minute with their noses in books and the women who never read anything but the book we were discussing that month. I loved the women who connected with many of the the ideas we explored and the women who couldn't care less about them but who enjoyed being there to bask in friendship.

Books. Talking about books. Talking.

Love. Love. Love.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


The one and only time I've ever been to an event where the punch was clandestinely spiked was in the dorms at BYU my freshman year.

Multiple people tested and retested the punch to make sure it was spiked before we dumped the bowl of it down the drain. Didn't want to waste it unnecessarily. So funny to watch a group of people who have never had alcohol try to decide if there was, indeed, alcohol present.

A few years later, I was talking to one of my friends, laughing about the incident.

"Did you really think it was funny?" she asked.

"Sure!" I said, "It was so ironic, after all."



"It was J. and me. We spiked the punch," she confessed. "We were ticked because no one asked us to the dance." Classic.

BYU may be voted the driest university every year, but that doesn't mean it never gets a little wet.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Matter of Perspective

As part of the "Research Rescue" fall campaign to encourage students to use the university library, Roger photographed a variety of dogs wearing little red research rescue vests. I went with him to Eagle Mountain last month to photograph this friendly St. Bernard, who was much larger in real life than he appears in this picture.

I don't have a lot of experience with dogs, but some of my earliest experience was hanging out with a St. Bernard at my friend Judy's house when we were kids. He always seemed like such a huge dog for such a not-so-big house.

Mostly he napped, but once in a while he paid attention to us. Because I didn't have much experience with dogs, he scared me a few times. Like when we were loudly practicing our tap dancing on the hardwood floor in the living room and he suddenly jumped at me, teeth bared.

It never occurred to me that I might have been the one who scared him.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Dollar

When my brother and I were in elementary school, my mom wanted him to be more independent in the kitchen. She focused on encouraging him to learn how to crack an egg, but he was scared. She offered him a dollar if he would do it.

Even though I was almost three years younger than him, I already knew how to crack an egg. But, oh no. No dollar for me. I'm quite sure I whined disproportionately to my perceived injustice.

Sorry, Mom.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Random and Slightly Creepy

I had a roommate in college who collected all of her brightly painted nail clippings in a jar. I didn't discover that fact until well into the school year.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Summer 1980, southern California, dancing in the middle of a pavilion at Magic Mountain.

Rock Lobster by the B-52s plays.

At one point in the song, every single person lays down on the floor wriggling like they are slices of bacon frying in a pan. Every single person, that is, except me.

I just stand there turning around and around staring at them all, realizing that I was culturally clueless.

Or maybe California is just ahead of Massachusetts with that kind of thing.

Or maybe I was just clueless.

Friday, August 24, 2012


There's another fire in the valley tonight. This has been a bad year for fires.

Photo taken this afternoon by Tina Calderwood

Over the years we've lived in our house in Springville (marked with a red arrow in the picture below, which can be enlarged by clicking on it), we've seen every single mountain surrounding our immediate area burn at least once.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Late night drive home from work tonight. Heart aching with the news that an inmate I'd met with ended up back in jail. He'd been so optimistic before he was released last month. Alcohol.

I drove on the overpass over I-15, recently widened as part of a huge interstate construction project. Flashed back a dozen or so years to another time I was driving home late, going over that overpass. It was slick with ice, and suddenly, before I knew it, I'd done a 180 in the Jeep. I ended up in the other lane, facing the opposite direction. Luckily I was the only one on the road.

I thought about the guy sitting in a cell in a place he hoped he'd never see again. I wished he could suddenly do a 180 and find himself headed in the opposite direction. Darn.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Memory Hole?

Time for a random excerpt from an old journal. From early 1983, my sophomore year in college.

January 13: "I went to a dance last Saturday with a good looking guy named Jerry. We had an excellent time. (Well, I did at least.)"

I have absolutely no memory of this good looking guy named Jerry or the excellent time we had at the dance.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teen Idols

Of all of my teen star crushes, I liked Shaun Cassidy the best.

And I wanted to be like Kristy McNichol the most.

Funny. They look an awful lot alike.

Update posted October 13, 2012: We were looking at family pictures yesterday and came across this one. Look closely at Roger as a teenager on the far right (enlargement below). I did marry Shaun Cassidy!

Monday, August 20, 2012


This morning I had to set an alarm so I'd wake up in time to get to some adjunct faculty and committee meetings at UVU, where classes start next week. My head is swirling with bits and pieces I need to incorporate as I update my syllabus.

When my meetings ended, I met up with Jack at the junior high open house. We found his locker, met all his teachers, and picked up a new gym uniform. (Where last year's ended up is a complete mystery.) Tonight we're setting an alarm so we'll wake up in time to get him to school for his first day of eighth grade.

We've basically gone from zero to sixty in one day as we transition from summertime.

I loved this time of year when I was growing up. (Of course, we didn't actually start school until September, after Labor Day, which is eminently more civilized than facing it the third week in August.) The first day of school was always exciting, and I reveled in the sense of having a fresh start with all sorts of unknown adventure ahead.

Jack mostly doesn't see it the same way. But I do think he's a teeny bit excited. At least about playing the saxaphone in band. That'll have to do.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Far Side

For a very long time this was one of my favorite cartoons. In fact, it still is. Not really sure what that says about me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Just One More and It Rocks

I was looking through our photos for inspiration tonight and came across this black and white shot of Jack that Roger took on a trip to Moab in 2005.

I love that I married a photographer.

This may or may not have been taken the same trip we hiked to Delicate Arch, which involves a moderately strenuous three-mile roundtrip trail.

Jack was a trooper at the start, but it wasn't quite enough. He was carrying a plastic sword with him (he always, always, always has something in his hand or in his pocket just in case). When the adventure became too much, he cradled the sword, knelt down on one knee, bowed his head and wearily said, "I can't go on much longer."

But he responded to bribes persevered and we did--eventually--make it to the top.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Miracle Worker

Jack and I got our back to school haircuts today. We pretty much get the same cuts every time. Not very exciting, but it's efficient, at least.

For years I went back and forth between long and short hair, but I think I've pretty much settled on short for the foreseeable future. It makes driving in the Wrangler with the roof off so much easier.

The first time I went from long hair to short was in college after a perm went terribly wrong. I'd been swimming a lot, and apparently I had just enough chlorine buildup in my hair to keep the perm from taking evenly.

The only solution was to go short. Which was fine until I went to Washington, D.C. for an internship a few months later and had to find someone to cut my hair. One of my roommates went to a walk-in place near our apartment and came back with a cute cut, so I thought I'd try it out. Big mistake. And when hair is already short, there isn't much margin for error. It was so bad I couldn't bear the thought of waiting until it grew out.

I needed a miracle.

Luckily I found one: Christoph at Bubbles on Capitol Hill. He gasped a terrible gasp when he saw me, clucked with sympathy, then worked his magic. Oh, how my young vulnerable self-conscious self loved him. Thank you, dahling!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Walden Pond was our go-to swimming spot when I was growing up. I was even lucky enough to take swimming lessons there before our town built a swimming pool.

One summer my swimming instructor decided that I needed to improve my breaststroke kick and so she made me walk up the hill to the bus after every class with my knees together. I'm not sure it helped my breaststroke kick, but it was sure good for laughs.

Then a few summers ago, I discovered that the rules had changed and people were allowed to swim outside the buoy lines. I took advantage of my new found freedom to breaststroke all the way across the pond and back. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

And Even More

Feeling a bit better and will hopefully wake up tomorrow full of vigor! But now it's become a bit of a challenge to make a set of three memories involving rocks.

Actually, it wasn't hard at all. Apparently a good part of our little family's world revolves around rocks. Visiting them. Climbing on them. Collecting them.

Here is Jack on the beach in southern California in May 2009.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More Rocks

Not 100% these days. Just living vicariously through pictures of summers past as I continue to lay here like a lump breathing in VapoRub, sucking on cough drops.

So here's another picture on the rocks. This is Jack at one of our favorite picnic spots on the Upper Provo River on the way to the High Uintas (June 2007).

Maybe tomorrow I'll get back to summer in real life. That would be nice.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I knew I was coming down with something all day yesterday. My throat was scratchy and I ached. Today I can hardly talk, and I'm totally worn out. Roger reported that I snored last night. (Actually, Roger imitated the sound I made and he and Jack just laughed and laughed.) I stayed in bed pretty much all day and read.

The first year we were married, I got sick, and for a very long time I could never really get better. I was eventually diagnosed with chronic sinus infections and treated for that. Then after nearly a year, I finally started getting better, and that is when the doctor discovered that I'd also likely been suffering from mono or some related illness.

Since then, I've tried to be careful not to get too run down. For example, I've let go of any guilt about getting the sleep my body needs, which is more than eight hours a night if I can get it. It's nice that other people can survive perfectly well on less, but I know my body.

I will not be setting an alarm clock for tomorrow.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Touched down on the runway in Provo just a little bit late tonight. We started to land, but then went back up so the pilot could reset the landing speed. I guess things weren't quite right on the first attempt. Definitely better safe than sorry.

The craziest landing I ever experienced was a flight somewhere in Mexico when I was a teenager. San Cristobal de las Casas, I think. Anyway, we came down on the runway so hard that the fasten seat belt sign fell off the ceiling and hit me.

The craziest takeoff I ever experienced was in the Caribbean when I was a kid. We'd flown to a small volcanic island called Saba, and when we left we discovered the runway was a bit too short. The pilot warned us ahead of time, but it was still disconcerting to leave the runway and drop hundreds of feet before we gained enough speed to gain altitude.

Always good to make it home.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Talking the Walk

We had sun today, but it was still a bit chilly and, hoo boy, windy!

Maryann, her boyfriend Lars, and I were just about to set out on a walk down the shore path when we realized that it was Dad tipped over out in the middle of the lake, getting help from the water safety patrol and police. We decided to postpone our walk and make sure he got in safely. He did. And the boat, after bailing, is safe as well. The sail, however, is at the boat shop with a big tear in it.

After that adventure, we sent Dad up to the cottage with orders to take a hot shower and we set out again for a walk. It was nice and brisk.

Last year, Roger and I were interviewed on the radio--I wrote a bit about it here--and the hour-long interview is full of all sorts of memories, including some discussion about the very shore path we walked on today.

Click here to take a listen (we come on after the host reads an essay, about four minutes in).

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Change of Pace

Today was cold and rainy. I didn't even swim in the lake once. After spending most of the day reading, talking, playing speed scrabble, and doing a few household chores, I did get out of the cottage for a while, though. Dad and I drove over to Williams Bay and took a soggy walk through the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy.

I wish

(1) I'd brought my camera, which is waterproof so it would have been fine in the rain. Part of the trail was lined with hundreds and hundreds of black-eyed susans. Stunning.

(2) That we'd brought apples to eat. Hiking with Dad in chilly weather, tromping through fields and woods, reminded me of all the walks we took as a family when I was a kid growing up in New England. Especially in the fall, when we'd bring a stash of Macintosh apples to eat on the trail.

And hope

(3) We'll get back to sun and summer tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A Whack in the Head

Yesterday my sister Maryann and I swam out to the raft with my dad. Dad climbed on the raft and discovered a dead fish left by a seagull. Maryann and I were still in the water. Maryann thought, "I should tell Dad not to throw it at me." Then she thought, "Of course he won't throw it at me." So she said nothing.

Dad threw the fish at her.

She remembers it coming right toward her face. Her reflexes kicked in and she spun around in the water. It hit her smack dab on the back of her head.

It was hilarious, but--of course--not funny at all. Dad swears he didn't do it on purpose.

I just watched the whole event from a safe distance. Once, I threw a fish poorly, so I can't really judge Dad. Apparently fish are not easy to throw with any degree of accuracy.

The summer Jack started fishing here at the lake, I had to be his assistant. Putting worms on hooks, taking fish off them. Then he caught a fish that I couldn't get off the hook. I didn't know then that I was supposed to just cut the line and throw it back. No, I tried to get the hook out. I tried and tried until I thought the fish was dead.

I threw it into the bushes.

But instead of landing in the bushes, the fish hit the trunk of a tree and ricocheted onto the lawn. And I discovered it wasn't dead. The hook hadn't killed him; the tree hadn't killed him. There it lay on the grass flopping around, a fish out of water. Hilarious, but not funny at all. The episode actually led to my retirement from fishing.

After today, though, at least I can say I didn't chuck it at my sister's head.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Off for the Night

Take our friends to Chicago tonight. No time to write anything, but I've got a fabulous fish tale to tell tomorrow.

Monday, August 06, 2012


We have had impossibly perfect weather again today! Big on the agenda (besides a long walk on the shore path, a tour around Lake Geneva bay on the Lady of the Lake, and a boat ride to Williams Bay for a belated birthday dinner) was sinking the corner of the swimming raft.

We get as many willing people as we can to crowd onto one corner of the raft and see how far we can tip it before we lose our balance.

When I was about 16, a bunch of us were messing around on the raft, either trying to sink it or playing king of the raft or maybe even both. I got knocked over, but instead of falling straight into the water, I landed on the raft first. Hard.

For the rest of the summer, I had a bruise on the side of my leg that extended all the way from my hip to my knee. I've got a picture of it, but I think this picture of the raft in the glow of the sinking sun is much lovelier.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Trust Me, I'm the Captain

Today was a picture perfect day at the lake. Sadly, I didn't take a single picture. We had a blue, blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds, it wasn't too warm, and we had a fabulous sailing wind.

I enjoyed a long, wild sail this afternoon with Uncle Tom, who is pictured here with me. We were bailing out the sailboat last week after he tipped it over with my dad. Before they got the boat upright, it was swamped by motorboat waves, and it ended up turning turtle. The water safety patrol got involved. Then the police boat. It was quite an adventure for everyone involved.

Years ago we had a much larger sailboat, one that never tipped over. At least as far as I knew. Then one day I got up the nerve to sail it. Boom. Right over. In full view of my grandmother who was sitting on the pier.

"Laurie," she said to my dad when we finally made it back to shore. "I don't think I can trust that girl the way I trust you."

Thirty five years later, I still make a much better crew member than captain. Maybe one day, though, I'll put my mind to earning that trust.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

For the Win

When Jack and I went up to the cottage for lunch we discovered a huge swarm of wasps in my room. Like 50 of them. We had known about the nest in the outside wall under one of my windows. Dad had been working on getting rid of the wasps, including patching up the holes they made in the siding. Apparently, the wasps were then trapped in the wall, and the only way out was to bore a hole through the wall into my bedroom.


I sent Jack out of the room, closed the door, opened the screen a little and started shooing them out, but there were even more wasps outside and they started flying in. Jack found the duct tape so I could cover up the hole they'd made in the wall. Barb and the boys frantically searched everywhere for the wasp spray, and once they found it I was able to start killing the wasps off. I spent about 20 minutes in a full-on battle with them. Luckily I was only stung once.

Later on, I vacuumed up the bodies.

When we were kids, my brother was terrified of wasps. For some inexplicable reason, I wasn't. Whenever he found a wasp in his room, he'd scream and I'd come running to show him how superior I was. (As his younger sister I tried to show my superiority whenever possible.) I'd pick the wasp up by the wing and fling it out the window, sometimes in dramatic slow motion to make my brother squirm even more.


Friday, August 03, 2012

The More Things Change

The cottages are filling up. Cousin Betsy arrived last night from Omaha with long-time family friend Martha. Cousin Julie and her wife Sherri arrived tonight from Washington, DC. My sister Maryann and her boyfriend arrive tomorrow from Pittsburgh.

Our place here at the lake is beautiful, no question. But my very favorite part of being here is reconnecting with everyone I grew up with and watching our family change and grow. And yet still stay the same.

I love my people.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Once in a Blue Moon

We walked down to the pier late this evening to watch the first of two full moons this month rise above the trees.

The most specific memory I have of a full moon was one late September or early October evening in the mid-1990s. Roger and I were just a couple of days into what would be a year-long adventure traveling around the country, down into Mexico and up through Canada to Alaska in our little red Jeep Wrangler.

We were heading, actually, to spend the month of October at the cottage here at Lake Geneva before it got too cold and the water had to be turned off. As we drove on a highway that cut though miles and miles of Illinois corn fields, we watched a huge harvest moon rise.

An auspicious beginning to an extraordinarily rare and magical year.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Jack and I drove to O'Hare late this afternoon to pick up some friends from Springville who will be staying with us this next week. Barb and I have been neighbors and friends since before we had kids. Her son Cooper and Jack are good friends as well.

In the late 1990s, Barb and I used to go to the gym together three mornings a week for an aerobics class. I had a limited membership and could only go on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Turns out that kept me motivated because I could never say "I'll go tomorrow." I literally couldn't go "tomorrow"; skipping one class meant taking a three-day break. Plus, I enjoyed the class. It was better than the average aerobics class because it was choreographed and the instructors would rotate a new song and routine in at least once a week. There was always something we could already do well and something new to master.

At the end of my two-year gym contract, our favorite instructor moved away. I decided to let my membership lapse.

Barb and I both went through a lot of changes those two years. She and her husband had just adopted their oldest son. Roger and I opened our bookstore, then we adopted Jack. Then she and her husband adopted a daughter.

The gym was a 15-minute drive from our neighborhood, 30 minutes round-trip. We had lots of good conversations during those years. And we were in great shape. I miss that time.

All we have planned this week is good exercise and good conversation. Just like the old days.