Monday, December 31, 2012


When my Aunt Jody (pictured on left, and technically my dad's cousin, not my aunt) turned 50, she learned how to roller skate. I was just a teenager and thought it was amazing. Fifty seemed so old to take up roller skating.

Of course, it isn't. Is it? Because I'm turning 50 this year.

To celebrate and to pick up some momentum for the second half of my century, I am going to do 50 physical feats in 2013, and I will tell the story of each one here on my blog. I want to get in shape, test my stamina, face down fears, and have lots of fun along the way.

I'm looking for ideas and, more importantly, partners in crime. To friends and family (including those back east because I'll be coming this summer): let me know if there's something you've been wanting to do and you want some company doing it. I won't say yes to everything (Roger has yet to talk me into a jumping out of a plane for this project, the first thing he thought of when I told him about it). But I won't say no without serious consideration.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Act One

The summer of 1969, my mother, my father, my brother, and I headed west in our baby blue camper van. After driving across the plains, it struggled mightily to make it up high mountain passes. It took some coaxing and a little extra water for the radiator, but we did make it to our destination: an LDS temple in Logan, Utah, where we were sealed together as a family for eternity. I still hold in my mind an image of my mother, my father, my brother, and me kneeling around the altar together, hands clasped.

Act Two

The summer of 1990 in the Salt Lake City temple, Roger and I were married and sealed, kneeling across the altar from each other, hands clasped. There were a few glitches. Roger had underestimated the Tuesday morning rush hour traffic and was late. Everyone else was worried, but I wasn't. And then I was held hostage after the ceremony by a conscientious temple worker who insisted we had to leave the temple together even though I knew Roger had already left. There was no way he had taken as long as I had to freshen up for pictures. I was right; he'd slipped out the door unnoticed while the temple workers were changing shifts. The glitches just made our wedding day more perfect, though, because now we have stories to tell.

Act Three

The week of Thanksgiving 1999, we took Jack to the Provo temple to have him sealed to us. Roger and I knelt at the altar with Jack in our arms, hands clasped. I don't know whether the ritual has inherent power or if its power is derived from what is in our hearts and minds. I do know this: his adoption had been finalized a few days before in a court of law, but it was the sealing ceremony that clinched the feeling Jack would always be a part of our family. A true blessing.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Hard Lesson

When I was in the fourth grade, I won first place in floor exercises during a gymnastics meet at my elementary school.

But no one knew it.

The gym teacher handed out awards for the event, and then discovered that my score was higher than the person he'd given the first place award to. It was nice of him to make me a certificate, but the award ceremony was already over, and he made no mention of it to anyone.

It's not like I could go to school the next day and announce that I, in fact, had taken first place in floor exercises.

No one would ever know.

When I got home I cried and cried. My mom was very understanding as she consoled me. She told me that--whether I believed it or not--one day it would only matter that I had achieved something, not whether anyone knew.

She was right, but it took me a long time to believe her.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rush. Stop.

Running late, I hurried down the road past the high school to a local nursing home to speak at a midweek church service. And by hurried, I mean I was going 35 miles an hour. In a 25 mile an hour zone.

If it hadn't been raining, the police officer said, he would have let me off with a warning.

I rushed into the nursing home just as they were finishing the opening hymn, and after the prayer, I took my place at the front of the room to address the topic I'd been assigned: inner peace. My heart was still racing.

Everyone saw me come in late, so I figured I'd tell them about the irony of getting a speeding ticket on the way to giving a talk about inner peace. The moment they laughed, I regained my balance.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Indiana Jack

This is one of my favorite pictures of Jack. He's a guy who always knows how to dress the part. And often does.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A State of Emergency

Except for a trip to get our car inspected and registered this morning, I've been holed up indoors watching it snow, snow, snow. It's a cozy way to spend a bit of vacation time.

The biggest snow storm I remember was the blizzard of 1978. Most, if not all, of Massachusetts was declared to be in a state of emergency, and we were forbidden to drive. School was cancelled for at least a week.

One of my favorite memories of that storm was cross country skiing down the middle of Main Street.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


We drove up to Salt Lake City to enjoy Christmas dinner with Roger's sister and her family in the Avenues. On the way home, we passed the governor's mansion all lit up with Christmas lights.

Somehow I ended up attending several gubernatorial events in the 1980s. Studying political science helped, I'm sure. Back then, I hung out with all sorts of movers and shakers on campus and with leaders in the community. It seemed my future was bright!

I remember at least two events at the governor's mansion itself, a dinner with the governor and a small group of students at a hotel in Provo, and during spring my senior year, I had the opportunity to help with the annual Governor's Ball at the Hotel Utah. All we had to do was seat the dignitaries as they arrived, and then we were free to join the other 2,500 people attending the party.

One of my friends had the honor of seating Senator Jake Garn, who was to go into outer space a month later on the shuttle. We ate shrimp cocktail and filet mignon, got interviewed for the society column of one of the Salt Lake papers, and danced until they shut the place down.

I'm less well connected now. I think I'm going to work on that. Not so much to attend fancy parties, but because I've got real stuff I want to accomplish now. Real problems to solve. It may take a while, but stay tuned!

Christmas, with light and love all around, always gives me hope.


We enjoyed hosting our traditional pizza on Christmas Eve with Roger's family tonight. My Uncle John started the tradition in Connecticut many years ago, and we have faithfully carried it on here in Utah.

Only I wish we had Uncle John's fireplace. And I wish we didn't always miss the Christmas Eve service at the Presbyterian church here in town, which is held at 7:00 p.m., plunk in the middle of our pizza feast.

When I was growing up, my Grammie would sometimes take me to the midnight service at her Presbyterian church, which was all lit up by candles. We would dress in our Sunday best, listen to the angelic choir, hear the Christmas story, and sing our hearts out.

Maybe next year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Do You See What I See?

As a freshman in college, I took a Water Safety Instructor course. At the end of the semester, the professor called us one by one into his office to ask us what grade we thought we earned. I don't remember what I told him, but I definitely remember what he told me.

"If you came to me for a job teaching swimming, I would not hire you," he said. "You are unenthusiastic."

What did he see of me? I suppose I was unimpressive because I was a bit blind in class. We were constantly in and out of the water so I couldn't wear my contacts or glasses. I guess I don't interact very well with people when I can't see their faces.


A few years ago, our church girls camp director asked me to be in charge of a skit about Esther in the Old Testament, who risked her life to save her people.

"It's important that you take this seriously," she said. "I don't want you to make people laugh."

What did she see of me? I suppose I made her a little nervous because I do have a tendency to, um, try to lighten things up whenever I speak in church. Especially when I am in front of a congregation or class and can see their faces.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I lost count of how many dances I went to as a teenager and young adult that ended with Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." The quintessential last song.

Once in a while they played Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird," which I loved, even though it was a bit awkward when it shifted from a slow dance to a fast dance part way through.

But that was not anywhere near as awkward as the time a guy I didn't know and who was much shorter than me asked me to dance. I said yes, because I didn't want to be rude. In the middle of the dance, he wiped his nose with the back of his hand without letting go of mine.

When he asked me for another dance, I turned him down.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Good Moment

I rarely have good clothes moments. You know, when you are wearing just the right thing at the right moment and you feel good. And, well, cute.

One perfect fall day in college, a boy offered to help me write a paper for my French literature class. He met me after school to take me home on the back of his motorbike. I climbed on and we roared down the hill to the old neighborhood south of campus, where I lived in a red brick house with a wide front porch.

I was wearing my black watch plaid kilt, a turtleneck and a navy blue sweater, tights and loafers, so I had to sit side saddle, my arms wrapped around his waist. 

I was living that life, at least for a moment. A good, good moment.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Margy Dreams of Sushi

The first time I tried sushi was in a restaurant full of Japanese people in New York City with a college friend who really knew his sushi.

That spoiled me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Gift of the Left Eye

A dozen or so years ago, I volunteered to come up with a story for a white elephant party. This is the game: participants each take a wrapped gift from the pile, sit in a circle, and as the story is read they pass the gifts to the left or the right each time they hear the words "left" or "right." When the story is finished, participants take turns opening or trading the gift they end up with.

Here's what I wrote. Special thanks to O. Henry and "The Gift of the Magi" for the plot. Feel free to use it if you need to liven up a white elephant party this year!

The Gift of the Left Eye

Harold rubbed his eyes with the heel of his right hand and sighed. He looked across the kitchen table at Agatha in despair. "We've managed to pay our bills, but there isn't any money left. This is downright depressing! Especially with Christmas right around the corner."

"Oh Hairy Bear." That was Agatha's pet name for her beloved Harold. "It's going to work out all right. It always does!"

"But Aggie, I wanted our first Christmas together to be truly special. At this rate, we're going to have to eat left-over macaroni and cheese for Christmas dinner."

Despondent, Harold got up, left the table, and headed outside to think things through. He found his baseball and glove right where he'd left them. He put on his glove and started tossing the ball. But it wasn't the comfort he'd expected. Harold lived for baseball. Every year he scraped together enough money to play in an amateur league. This year, he'd hidden his stash in a box in the tool shed.

Even though he lived for baseball, Harold had never had enough money left over to get the right kind of glove. You see, left-handed Harold had a glove designed for right-handed players (it was a hand-me-down from his older brother). That meant he had to wear his glove on his left hand and throw with his right, instead of wearing the glove on his right hand and throwing with his left. What he really needed was a left-handed glove that he could wear on his right hand. It may sound confusing, but Harold knew it was the key to improving his game.

As he tossed the ball, Harold had a sudden realization and headed right to the tool shed. He found the box, opened it, and stared down at the money that he'd carefully saved all year. "Tomorrow I'm going to take this money and buy just the right present for Aggie."

Meanwhile, Agatha was getting ready for bed. She always made a point of going to bed right at 9:45 every night and getting up right at 6:45 every morning. And she always went through the same exact routine. First she'd brush her teeth, then she'd wash her face, and so on. She always did things in the same order, and she never left out a step. She believed in living a very orderly life.

But tonight was different. A couple of days earlier, she'd lost the contact lens for her left eye. So she had to wear her glasses instead. She hated wearing her glasses. She supposed the only benefit was that she didn't have to take her contacts out to clean them, first the left one and then the right one. So she skipped that step and went straight to her moisturizer. First her left leg, then her right, and so on.

As she climbed into bed, Agatha thought about her contact lenses. It seemed she'd waited her whole life to get them. She'd finally saved up enough money to buy them in time for her wedding. And now she'd have to dip into their precious bank account to buy a replacement lens for her left eye. While they were paying bills, Harold had insisted on setting aside just the right amount of money for her to visit the eye doctor the next day.

"Of course," she murmured to herself as she drifted off to sleep. "I know how I can get a present for Hairy Bear."

The next day was Christmas Eve. Just before Harold and Agatha headed off to work, they promised each other that they'd come right home and have a candlelight dinner to start the holiday off right. Candlelight always made their peanut butter sandwiches seem more romantic.

Harold got home first and started getting things ready. He hummed Christmas carols to himself as he hung a string of lights on a potted plant, carefully wrapped his gift for Agatha with the comics from yesterday's paper, and left it under the plant. Just as he was lighting the candles, Agatha came through the door. He swept her into his arms and kissed her right on the mouth. He noticed that she was still wearing her glasses. Maybe she was just waiting to get home before putting her new left contact lens in.

The gloom they'd both felt in their hearts the night before had left. In its place the spirit of Christmas grew. They talked about how happy they were as they ate their sandwiches. When the last crumb was finished, Agatha spied the package Harold had left under the potted plant.

"What's that?" Agatha asked.

"What do you mean?" Harold said innocently.

"That package." She pointed. "Right there!"

Harold picked up the gift and looked at it. "It must be for you. It says so right here on the tag."

Before he could hand it to her, Agatha jumped up and ran into the next room where she'd left Harold's present when she sneaked home at lunch time. Breathless, she plopped it into his lap and said, "You go first!"

Harold grinned from his left ear to his right as he tore off the wrapping, and then stared at her with amazement. Gently he lifted the new glove out of the box and put it on his right hand. It fit perfectly. So what if he'd have to wait another year to test it out in a league game. She had given him just the right gift.

He thanked her, kissed her right on the mouth again, then said, "It's your turn!" He couldn't wait to see her face.

Agatha carefully opened her present. First she took off the bow. She undid the tape on the left side, and then on the right. Though Agatha's orderliness was something Harold loved about her the most, he got impatient. "Hurry up!" he cried.

She pulled the paper away and found a beautiful pair of new sunglasses. "You can wear them now that you have contact lenses," Harold explained, beaming. "By the way, why aren't you wearing them?"

A tear trickled down Agatha's left cheek as she looked into Harold's eyes. In an instant he knew where she had gotten the money for his baseball glove. As they kissed right on the mouth in the glow of the potted plant, they both knew in their hearts they had married just the right person.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Admission

When we were putting together our bookstore, I started doing research on children's books because I knew they'd be an important part of our inventory. The thing was, I hadn't paid any attention to children's books for probably 20 years. I was basically starting from scratch.

The research was engaging, so it wasn't hard to get up to a decent speed fairly quickly. One of my strategies was to ask everyone I knew who was paying attention to children's books to tell me about their favorites.

Years after we opened I came across an old scrap of paper with the name "Erik Carlisle" written on it in my handwriting along with a note that someone told me he'd be an important children's book author to stock. Ha! Eric Carle is only one of the illustrator/authors we needed to carry if we wanted to consider ourselves any kind of bookstore at all. Luckily we did, early on and always!

Thank you, Mr. Carle, for this message of hope and peace today.

"Some people are very good at finding calming words during unsettled times.
 I would like to add to the chorus with one of my pictures.
May there be peace for children everywhere.
May there be peace for all" - Eric Carle

Monday, December 17, 2012

All Done

One of my very favorite feelings in the whole world is being caught up on everything. Everything!

The only time I remember feeling that way was flying home for Christmas when I was in college. With the semester behind me, and if I had all of my bills paid and my Christmas shopping done, I was literally caught up on everything. Everything!

I know that I will probably never have that feeling again, not in its purest form. But I'll take whatever little snatches of it I can get.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Just Right

I've long since past the point of wanting very many things. In fact, I dream about the day that I can purge nearly everything I own and live a simple, uncluttered life.

When someone I love passes on, which has happened only a handful of times in my life, I'm not interested in taking on all sorts of possessions. But I love the idea of having a useful item that I associate with them and that I can continue to use in my own life.

Nearly every day we use a pair of my Great Aunt Fran's scissors. Quality scissors. Heavy duty. The kind that are worth sharpening and keeping forever. We keep them in the kitchen drawer. And we always call them Aunt Fran's scissors.

Nearly every day we use a set of glass salt and pepper shakers from my Grandpa and Grammie's house in Connecticut. They had maybe a dozen sets, some strategically located in various parts of the house just in case they were needed. When I picked a set to take home with me, one of my uncles confessed that some of them had been lifted from a favorite restaurant. I had no idea they had such a scandalous history!

This tradition is just right for me.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Almost every summer while I was growing up, we drove from Massachusetts to Wisconsin to spend two weeks with Grandma Jan at our family's cottage on Lake Geneva. Sometimes we drove part way and stayed overnight with cousins in Rochester. Sometimes we drove straight through the night, often arriving in the early morning hours before anyone was up.

Dad always made sure we owned a full-size station wagon so that we could put the back seat down, creating enough room for the off-duty driver to get some good sleep before taking another turn at the wheel. I usually slept all stretched out in the back, too, lulled into a sound sleep by the hum of the car on the highway.

I remember waking up whenever we pulled into gas stations, feeling all disoriented by the change in speed and the bright lights. It always felt like we were floating, sort of like we were in a plane about to land.

And then I'd remember where I was and what we were doing. Taking comfort in that, I was usually sound asleep again by the time we were back up to speed on the highway.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Life Affirming

Every year, Jack's kindergarten teacher (oh, we loved her!) organized an assembly for parents that culminated with Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World."

All of the kids painted big pictures of the images in the song, and whenever the lines played that matched their pictures, they held them up high over their heads. Trees of green, skies of blue and clouds of white, bright blessed days, dark sacred nights.

Jack painted a palm tree, he said, because it was my favorite.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Brushes with Fame

Inspired by last night's post . . .

I flew on a plane with actress Andie MacDowell. She was gorgeous even after our overnight flight across the Atlantic.

I walked right past John Denver in the lobby of a Hampton Inn while I was on a corporate retreat.

I rode in an airport shuttle with comedian Tom Dreesen. I recognized him from his many appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. We had a nice, long, entertaining chat.

I saw actor William Devane, who played JFK in The Missiles of October, buying toilet paper at Albertson's.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Do You Do With Something Like This?

I once had a roommate who adored Barry Manilow. I knew this because she hung a framed portrait of him on the wall across from her bed so his face would be the first thing she saw when she woke up each morning.

One night she went to hear Barry Manilow in concert. She smuggled a tape recorder in. When she got home she played a specific little bit of it over and over and over again.

"Can't you hear it?" she asked.

"Hear what?"

"This!" She played a bit, then rewound it, then played it for me again. "Can't you hear it?"

"All I hear is the song," I said.

"No, no!" she cried, "Can't you hear him looking right at me when he sang this part? He looked right at me!"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Entropy Redux

My entire journal entry dated 12 June 1986:
I'm trying so hard to be organized but I don't think I'm doing a very good job because it's almost 3:00 in the morning.
Yeah, well, I'm still working on that. If and when the mood strikes, I'm actually very good at getting organized, but I'm not very good at being organized. Not on an ongoing basis. It's that gradual decline into disorder that gets me every time.

Must get back to digging myself out of the current holes I am in. Yeah, that's plural.

Update: It turns out that I already wrote a post on this same topic and even gave it the same title. One day I am going to conquer this vicious cycle. One day.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Shingles and Pipes

Just today, I discovered that Roger's grandfather's roofing company once repaired the roof of the old tabernacle in Provo. I am so glad it is being restored after last year's fire, even though it won't be used for community events any more. It's an iconic part of downtown Provo.

I actually performed there once when I sang with a French choir in college. It was magical, especially with the pipe organ. Except for a distinct lack of frescoes, it almost felt like we were in a church somewhere in France.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Changing Course

Roger and I were exploring British Columbia in our red Jeep, and during a lunch stop in Pemberton, we overheard a couple of guys talking about how they were hitchhiking from Guatemala to Alaska.

Sometimes when I am on an adventure, I will see someone on a more adventurous adventure. I will say to Roger, "Look, now they are really living life!" as though we somehow aren't.

We'd been thinking about driving to Alaska and had talked ourselves out of it. After lunch that day, we changed our minds. We got back in our Jeep and drove to Alaska.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Joysticks? Meh.

I've never been very big on video games. When I was a kid, I couldn't bear to spend my hard earned quarters on them, and as the first home systems came out, I hardly knew anyone who had one.

Two early memories: (1) Splurging on an arcade driving game with an actual steering wheel and being sorely disappointed that it didn't feel like driving at all, and (2) playing some sort of racing game with a controller, thinking I was doing pretty well, and then realizing that, no, I was the car spinning around and around in the lower corner of the screen.

Then only one adult memory: Getting sucked into the Simpsons arcade game at the mall in the early 90s. Roger and I went back multiple times to get through all the levels. Once we beat the game, it was over. Zero desire to ever play it again.

About the only thing I can be talked into is a little Wii tennis or golf. It's a good thing Jack has his friends and his father.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

A Little Bathroom Humor

We hired our talented niece Bethany to paint this gem of a story on the bathroom wall at our bookstore. We believe it was because of her creative genius we were awarded Best Bathroom by Utah County Magazine one year. We even beat out Nordstrom!

the story of a tuna sandwich
a tuna sandwich 
and met a cat named George
the end

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Under the Influence

I had my wisdom teeth out while I was home from college on a holiday break. They knocked me out with some sort of intravenous anesthesia. I think the whole procedure only took about 15 minutes. I was hoping that I would be in bad shape for at least a day or two so that people would feel sorry for me and keep me supplied with milkshakes, but I didn't even experience any swelling. The only real pain I suffered was my sore jaw from having my mouth pried so wide open. I guess I was lucky. But I really did miss being pitied.

The most entertaining part of it all was the ride home, while I was still a bit under the influence of the anesthesia. For some reason I thought my mother would like to be regaled with any jokes I could remember. I'm not sure she laughed at them, but I do know I laughed. A lot. Too much.

Here's one of them.

A farmer in France took his pig to the fair and boasted that it could do arithmetic. A crowd gathered around as he shouted out equations. "Deux plus sept!" "Quatre plus cinq! "Douze moins trois!" Each time the pig muttered the correct answer, "Neuf, neuf, neuf."

Finally someone shouted out, "Hey, you keep giving the pig problems that equal nine!"

"Oh?" said the farmer. "Watch this!" He shouted "Cinq plus trois!" then pulled hard on the pig's tail. "Huit! Huit! Huit!" the pig squealed.

Heh heh. Still funny even without medication, non?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


I was thinking today that I needed to write a followup to yesterday's post. Jack said he thought about shoes and cows, and I only wrote about shoes. So now I must write about cows.

Taking a bit of literary license, I'm going to write about bulls instead.

Well, one bull in particular.

The bull that stopped us in the middle of a mountain road while we were taking my mother, who was in town for a visit, on a scenic drive. The bull that looked inclined to charge us if we made one false move.

We would not have been as intimidated by that bull if the hood of our car wasn't already crumpled up by the deer we hit a few days earlier on the way home from a family wedding in San Pete county. That crumpled hood made us feel a bit more vulnerable than usual as we watched the bull eyeing us suspiciously, pawing the ground with his front hoof.

Eventually he wandered off. Relieved and thankful that we would not have to explain a second incident to the insurance company, we pressed on.

Monday, December 03, 2012

The Sign

I was thinking of writing about a fabulous pair of bright blue flats I owned about 25 years ago, wishing I had a pair of shoes like them now.

Then I thought that would be a lame excuse of a post.

But then I read something Jack posted on Facebook tonight: "Some times i think about cows and at other times i think about shoes and then on a very rare occasion i think about cows in shoes -_-"

I'm taking that as a sign, and will hereby remember that fabulous pair of bright blue flats and wish I had a pair of shoes like them now.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Drizzly day today.

The first time I used intermittent windshield wipers was in 1984 when a friend and I drove her car from Boston to Binghamton, New York, to help a couple of college friends celebrate their wedding. Here we are with the happy bride, who is now a happy grandmother (!).

I swore the next car I bought would have intermittent wipers. It did. One of the best inventions ever. The perm I had that year, however, did not do as well on drizzly days. I'm very glad that era of my life didn't last very long.