Monday, December 14, 2009

Upper west side special of the week

If you know anything about me, you'll know that I'm on the internet every night looking for Manhattan real estate. The apartment above is one room, one closet and, as you can see a half-fridge and a cupboard badly nailed to the wall. The bathroom is out in the hall and is shared with several other people. This apartment is on West 88th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Ave. It's a thousand dollars a month.

West 88th and Central Park West is a fine address, but how much is one willing to sacrifice (if you're poor like me) to live at such a fine address? I have looked carefully at the photos and I figure this room is twice the width of the hallway that extends between my kitchen and the garage, and perhaps the same length. I'm guessing this room is six by ten. Barely six by ten.

I'm not sure a single bed fits across the width of this room like under that window, for example.
In fact, it looks like the room narrows down to the window, unless the window is much larger than it seems.

If I were renting this apartment, I would ask that they remove the fridge and the cupboard. They take up far too much space, and I would eat out and keep some fruit and crackers around.

That is if I could walk up and down the four stories of stairs. It's not an elevator building.

It IS sunny. If you stand in the window.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Festival of Trees

You should all attend the Salt Lake City Festival of Trees and make your way to Aisle A where Sam and Sarah's tree is displayed. The tree honors Lucy Gladys who lived for four months in Primary Children's Hospital in 2004. Sarah has designed a new tree every year for six years and they have all been fabulous. This year may be my favorite ever. Mark Eaton bought it for his restaurant "Tuscany," where it will be displayed after this weekend.

They are holding Elliot and Louis, Lucy's younger brothers.

All donations from food sales, tickets, tree and wreathe sales go to Primary Children's Hospital. It's a great outing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Murgatroyd and me

Murgatroyd was bored last Friday and wanted to go to Grandma's house. She is seven. I was on my way out to buy a comfortable pair of shoes, so I took her with me. "Now where do YOU want to go?" I asked her after I'd gotten my shoes.

"Justice," she said. It's a teeny-bopper store. We walked in and everything was 40% off so I bought her a skanky black dress with rhinestones and silver flats.

"I'm glad I came over when you wanted to go shopping," she told me.

We walked to the car. Murgatroyd gets into the back seat, which always surprises me. She seems old enough to be able to sit next to me in the front seat.

I get in the passenger seat in the front.

Murgatroyd says, "Grandma, who's going to drive the car? Your spirit?"


Later, Charles her father said, "I told her you're bored here and now you want to go over to Grandma's house to be bored there."

Murgatroyd heard this and said, "Grandma's never boring."

I'll use it for my epitaph.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Feeding ducks on Thanksgiving afternoon.

The only way the day could have been better was to have a sleep-over. Next year!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

I’m writing this from my kitchen island. I have boiled yams, made a pumpkin-chiffon pie and I’m about to cut up carrots for the Carrot Puffs that I hope will fool my youngest grandchildren into thinking they’re eating dessert. I will cut the ends off the string beans tonight. The table is set with china and silver and yellow flowers. (See the place tag above—Tom did his Photoshop magic with the one card I bought at Target). We bought a high chair for Louis, and a push button Elmo phone that talks back, and a yellow truck that also makes noise of some kind when you thump on it.

Most of my preparations have been for four-year old Elliot, who LOVES to watch movies, especially anything with Thomas the Train in it. So I made him a corner in the upstairs hall with colored pillows, one of them I embroidered with “Elliot’s Corner” on it. There’s a red IKEA table with a TV/VCR on it and a stool that I painted red and blue in case he doesn’t want to sit on the floor. There’s a yellow circle rug, and seven—count them—seven Thomas the Train DVDs.

Maybe, I’m over medicated.

Here’s a few things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving in no particular order:

1. The boys, their wives, their kids. Who knew it would be so good?

2. Hot hot water whenever I want it.

3. Thank you, Lord, for helping me lose those fifty pounds and keeping them off.

4. Tom

5. Two working cars.

6. Saturdays in the temple

7. Virtual friends on the blogosphere

8. Anne’s German “parents,” Herbert and Josa, who love her like we do.

9. My writers’ group.

10. The anticipation of 10-days in NYC over the holidays.

So what are you thankful for today? And if something went terribly wrong, I’d really like to hear about that too. I love to hear about things going askew, like Rebecca’s horrible cranberry pear pie. Thanksgiving 2009. Sublime or something else?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tom's Basil Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This morning, Tom awoke and said, “Do I have something on my head?”

I bent reluctantly over him to have a look. I have no stomach for odd skin growths. There was a small, slightly discolored, slightly raised circle on the top of his head.

“You probably ought to have it checked,” I said, not all that alarmed.

About an hour later, the dermatologist’s office calls to say that Dr. Parkinson has two openings in a couple of hours. Do we want them? I don’t, but Tom goes.

Tom hadn’t phoned them. They called out of the blessed blue. I love that kind of sychronicity.

Later, Tom calls me on the cell, which identifies him as Basilio Filbert—we don’t know why—and tells me it was squamous—rhymes with pus. It’s the second most common skin cancer but is very fast growing, and he found it early.

When he gets home, he looks at Squamous Cell Carconomas on the internet. One old man has about a fourth of his head chopped out. One has a huge one on his anus. A woman has a large one on her vulva. Tom wants me to see all of these photographs, but I won’t have it. He holds up his laptop, “You should see this!”

“Get away from me,” I said.

Years ago, my father wanted to show everyone an MRI of his blocked colon.

“No thanks,” I said.

“No thanks,” said my sister.

“Uhh, no,” said my brother.

“I’d like to see it,” Tom said.

The two of them walked out of the room like guys heading for a beer.

Please note that I spared you an image.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fiction writer at work--or not

I am cynical of fiction writers who say they LOVE writing. Give me a break.

I love having written. I love having a new book arrive in the post. It hasn't happened often enough.

What I love even more is finding ways to avoid writing: a door needs to be painted today, the shower door needs LimeAway today; I need to file five years worth of paper today. I have a cold. I'm aging. I'm demented. So many reasons not to write.

But today, Monday, the beginning of a new week, I said I would write and exercise. Bonanza goals. And I did both and read a great deal of a Pat Barker Trilogy, REGENERATION, about World War I and the British poets who died in it. I did not make my bed, though.

Back to writing: I sat dutifully and comfortably on the sofa with my lap top and bled out a page of new writing. Then I looked up the definition of "besotted" on the Microsoft dictionary, and then in a moment of fiery self-destruction, I deleted the page I'd written instead of the dictionary page. I jumped up and flayed my limbs and repeated the s-word more times than you care to know.

I ate a Lindt dark chocolate ball.

I thought of that Hemingway novel, where a young writer and his wife travel through Europe staying in small hotels. The protagonist, unlike me, works at his novel every morning. The wife is lovely, young. He is "besotted" by her. It turns out she is also mentally ill and when the novel is almost finished she shreds up the manuscript in a fit of rage.

This is the good part. Hemingway has his writer-protagonist get up the next morning and start the same novel over again. That's what writers do, I remember thinking.

And that's what I did today. I sat down and rewrote the page. So I "have written" and I have "rewritten."

I'm feeling quite smug.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Break out the fireworks!

Congratulations, Erica, on passing your MFA exam. Gloria, gloria,gloria. Hallelujah.
Let's eat something fattening soon.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

After midnight

I am awake after midnight. Tom has long ago fallen asleep and I am sitting in the dark taking pictures of myself. My bedside table lamp is now in the living room and the two flashlights in the bedside table drawer do not work. They worked when I put them in there, but now they don't work. So if THE earthquake happens tonight, we'll be stumbling around in the dark wishing we had been prepared. There are two large flashlights down in the pantry. I wonder if they work. I have matches and candles, canned pears, a bag of chocolate chips, several warm coats and a 55-gallon drum of water. That should get me through the weekend. I am so hungry. I'd like to go down and nuke myself one of those chocolate cakes in a cup and eat it with a large glass of milk. But I don't want to be fat.

We did not win the chili bake-off, even though it was the best damned chili ever.

Will we sleep in heaven?

Not me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dede

Dede, I know this year's birthday cake isn't as fancy and complicated as last year's Cinderella cake, but those "busy bees" are hard to mold with arthritic fingers. It will arrive tomorrow. Happy Birthday, doll face.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


This weekend we sold the grand piano. The youngish couple who bought it live in Orem and they came up nine o' clock Saturday morning with the piano mover to pick it up. It left quite a hole in the living room. Even though Tom and I had to be in the temple ready to work at 11:10, I called Charles immediately, still wet from my bath, and told him to come over and help Tom move a sofa from the basement. We moved the demilune cabinet between the two windows, and the sofa where the cabinet had been. Now we have two white sofas facing each other.

I stole a second oriental carpet from Tom's study, a lamp from our bedroom, a small table from the upstairs hall, along with the old Remington typewriter. I bought a tree with huge elephant ear leaves, a new goldish brown barrel lamp shade from Pottery Barn and three pillows. I bought a white ottoman from Ikea and covered it with a red wool blanket and a crocheted tablecloth, so it doesn't look like like an Ikea ottoman.

I had a $500 budget to make changes and I did it with $400.

I am a damned genius.

Nothing, I mean nothing, gives me more energy than decorating a room.

Imperfect photos thanks to Photo Booth.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bravo Speedo

I’ve begun swimming again for exercise, for mental health. It’s hard to go when it’s cold outside. I hate the undressing, dressing, drying the hair, bundling up in a coat, stepping out into the parking lot. But I do like to move through water, feel my heart beating, hear the muffled pool noises, see the tiled blue line at the bottom of the pool, the iron rod of lane swimmers. I swim a mile: sixteen laps in a 50-meter pool.

I am still alive, I think. I am alive.

My bathing suit is an old black Speedo that is too big now and is pulling apart at the side seams. It’s the end of October, and I need a new bathing suit. I went shopping for one last week, and there were no swimsuits to be found. Winter coats had replaced them. So I went online to Lands End and looked through the dozens of suits they offer, all of them on sale now. I picked out a modest one-piece black and white number with a number 2-leg. I figure if you need a ruffle around the bottom of your swimming suit, you probably ought not to be wearing a swimming suit. Who is fooled by that ruffle?

The suit arrived today. It wasn’t quite what the online photo showed. It was black and white and GOLD. It was a modest gold line running through the pattern, but I don’t like gold threads running through my swimming suits. It smacks of tom-foolery, of Las Vegas costume. I’m sixty-seven. I’m no showgirl. Who is fooled by a gold thread?

I liked the rise of the number-2 leg. I liked the way it fit my behind.

I did not like the cleavage. I don’t like cleavage, period. Cleavage is pressed fat. Old women should not show cleavage. I tried pulling the suit up, but that didn’t work. The disgusting cleavage was still there.

I put the suit back in the box. I will return it. Actually, Tom will return it. There is something in my DNA that says “no return policy.”

Tonight, I looked up “Speedo for women” online. I want the “ultraback conservative" suit. It’s high in the front with the back cross straps. It’s a suit for serious swimmers. Thank you, Speedo.

Why didn’t I think to go there in the first place?

When I got out of the pool today, someone had taken my towel, and I had to dry myself with paper towels.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Like Wordsworth searching his "mind's eye," I'm returning to a sunny day of a few weeks back when Tom and I spontaneously decided on a car trip to Echo to view Utah's oldest standing church (1870). It's made of handmade bricks, built by Protestants, not Mormons. Tom took camera and tripod, of course.

While he set up, I walked to the small cemetary adjacent to the church and read the names of dead children: Gilchrist children, Keys children, their parents outliving them by decades. Behind the cemetery, red cliffs gleamed gaudy in the sun. I walked back to the car and pulled a cheap aluminum folding chair out of the trunk and took it back to a spot of gravel in front of the cemetary. I sat with my back to the grave markers and looked out over a green meadow with four large trees, black cows and a broken gate. In the distance, a train chugged on by and blew its whistle.

I sat in the sunlight for more than an hour melting into that calm landscape, content, wanting nothing but to be where I was at that moment.

When Tom was finished with his shoot, I carried my chair back to the car and surveyed the house next door to the church where a man and a woman sat on the lawn talking. Under a tree, by the road, four old bentwood chairs were arranged in a neat row. Was it sculpture to place indoor chairs like that under a tree, like museum pieces? I was mesmerized.

The man called to me. "Take them, if you want them."

I looked up, startled. "I thought they were sculpture."

He smiled. "No, they're from the old Echo Cafe. I have a whole garage full of them. You can have as many as you like."

I don't need any chairs. "I'd like these," I said. "Thank you."

Tom put them into the back of the car. "What are you going to do with these?" he asked.

"I don't know. I just want them."

On the night we celebrated Tom's 70th birthday complete with crepe paper streamers, over a table set for twelve, I went out to the garage and carried back two of the bentwoods. "We're going to need these," I said.

He cleaned the chairs, murdering innocent spiders living beneath the padded seats. "These are pretty banged up," he said.

"I like that about them."

The party was a happy occasion. Grandchildren were delighted with the diversions of cheap gifts and each other. The food was delicious. Tom loved the lemon creme cake I made. The adults played CHRONOLOGY. Charles won.

Now the chairs are back in the garage where I see them when I pull out in my car. Four bentwood chairs to remind me of a satisfying, sun-filled, October afternoon in Echo. Four chairs to carry me through the winter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cleaning my study

It's taken four days to clean up my study. Ed came last summer looking for one snapshot and took all the boxes of photos and STUFF out of my closet and did not put them back. I really wanted to to dump them back into the closet and force the door shut with my butt. But Tom was all reasonable and supportive and suggested that we rebox everything into new smaller boxes, all the same size and label each box carefully.

The first night I sat and read letters I'd written forty years ago. Tom sat on the floor looking at photos of our boys when they were young and crying over them. I knew what he was thinking. Where did all that time go?

My favorite box is entitled, "Louise's memorabilia." Programs, snapshots, my drawings, an advertisement for summer school at the Sorbonne, the Life magazine cover of Earnest Hemingway (1961) that used to hang above my desk. I have a Utah Holiday Magazine from the same time period and I wondered why I had kept it. I looked through it and there was a long article about the coast of Maine with a huge picture of Monhegan Island, which I was obsessed with in my teens. I kept the Life magazines for the week of Kennedy's funeral and three with John Glenn on the cover. He was like a rock star back in the day.

I really liked that girl I used to be.

I threw some things out. Not the Life magazines, not my junior high school cartoons. In fact, not that much. I like to run into myself occasionally. That's why it took four days.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Since I made myself a job chart and reward myself with sparkly stars, my house is looking much better and I have kept up with the laundry, including folding and putting it away. Cleaning up after myself, or cleaning up at all has never come naturally, but I'm enjoying the process of doing it as well as the result.

I also pulled out my "new sewing machine," which is seven years old and has never been used, and decided to learn how to use it. I should know how to sew, but have been impatient about it. The horrid sewing machine I had before had a problem with the tension setting and so the thread was always breaking. Much cursing involved with that machine.

I have always associated domestic work as my mother's work. She was tidy to a fault, if there is such a thing. I considered myself an artist and above domestic work. That's a crock, of course. Artists can clean up after themselves as well as anyone else.

The needing to sew idea came to me again when I sat in the temple as a worker and looked down at Tom, who was a patron, and when he crossed his legs, I saw a bright blue band of painter's tape where he had hemmed his pants.

Or . . . I could teach him how to hem his pants.

My other obsession is my diet and exercise. I am liking the way I look and it's been a long time since I felt that way.

So things are good, except I'm not writing. I'm tired of writing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beware of round worms

All hell broke loose in our cottage communtity last weekend. Two people have contracted round worms, and both of those people swam in the lake. The lake was tested and sure enough there's animal feces in it. Whether the feces is human or not, I don't know. I suspect there's both human and dog, since I have seen people let their dogs swim in the lake as well as toddlers with saggy diapers.

Isn't feces the nastiest word? Pooh is better.

Anyway, the two beaches (yes, there's actual sand!) have been closed and my friend, Anne M. and her husband were forced off the lake by one of the security men when they were kayaking. "We're not going to drink the water for heaven's sake," Anne told him. He was not sympathetic. (I find security guards, on the whole, do not have a highly developed sense of humor. Least of all, the security guards at Temple Square. Where do they find those guys?)

But I digress. Round worms will die during the winter, but I have a feeling the beaches will disappear next summer and kids won't be allowed to cannon ball into the water from the wooden piers. It's a definite loss.

Round worms aside, Tom and I went to see some new modern condos built on the north side of the lake with gigantic windows. Get this: the second-floor apartments, the ones with the terrific view, have their entrance from the alley next to the garage! Up a dark stairwell to your beautiful condo.

The architect must be a cabbage.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Exquisite hairbands and hairclips for girls

Katy, whom I've never met, but who writes one of my favorite blogs (Word to Mi Madre on blogspot) said she would send me some of her hairclips. She thought Erica might like them.
Sorry, Erica but I think this girl likes them way too much to give away. I LOVE the headband with the red roses. Why can't an old lady wear this to the symphony with her cute red jacket and black skirt?

Why can't an old lady wear a black flower with rhinestones?

Why can't an old lady wear rhinestones, period?

I only had to take a hundred pictures to show these off. First of all, I smiled a wide toothy smile, but low and behold, the blueberries I had just eaten had turned my teeth blue. I looked like a deranged zombie with really pretty hairclips. And still, I have a crumb of a pretzel on my lip in the second photo, but who's looking that carefully?

Katy, I never would have thought of trying on hairclips in a thousand years. I love them. They make me feel femmie and happy. Thank you. You've made my week.

The rest of you may want to look at Katy's business website: Jean Kate: Exquisite hairbands and hairclips for girls.

"I feel pretty! I feel pretty! I feel pretty and happy and gay!"

Well, maybe not gay.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dutch windows

I met my new visiting teaching companion on Sunday, just returned from a Hong Kong temple mission with her husband and it turns out she is "one-hundred percent Dutch" (her words).
She was born in Amsterdam and emigrated with her parents to America in 1955 when she was ten.

I am one-hundred-percent Dutch as well, and in my excitement I may have tried to hug her, which is about the most anti-Dutch thing one can do. Emotion is an embarrassment to the Dutch. Fortunately, she was also a good humored woman and chatty, features I like about my
fellow countrymen and women.

But there are down sides to being Dutch: you think you know everything, even what people are thinking. You don't deserve a birthday party, unless you have it yourself and cook for all your guests. You don't deserve anything, actually. Especially success. And there is that Calvinist guilt that we generate so effortlessly.

My new friend told me something I didn't know. The old Calvinists had a rule that good people should not have window coverings. They had another rule: do not look into other people's windows.

Well, of course. Trust the Dutch to come up with impossible rules. Here I thought those windows with the potted plants in them and a tiny rim of lace at the top were so friendly, so inviting. I loved gawking through them.

Turns out that gawking is against the rules.

I've been butting up against other people's rules all my life. Perhaps the modern Dutch, with their ultra-progressive social programs, like me, are butting up against those Calvinist forefathers.

Am I on my high horse? Better get down before I hurt myself.

Thursday, I will go visiting teaching with my new friend and she will speak Dutch to me and I will be happy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The diet: Part II

The summer of 2008, I lost 40 lbs, which brought me back inside the proper weight grid for my age. I've kept it off a year and so this week I've begun part II, lose 20 lbs and get in the middle of the weight grid. My doctor approved.

My diet of choice is the OPTIFAST diet. Optifast is a protein drink (there are bars too) and is done under the supervision of a nutritionist (Nanette) who makes me write down what I eat and how much of it I eat and harasses me about exercising.

Oprah went on Optifast that first time she lost weight. Remember how she came out wearing those size 10 jeans, looking fabulous? When she stopped the diet, she gained it all back.

I drink two of my meals and eat real food for the third meal. (Oprah drank all of her meals). It works so well for me that I should do ads for them. I do not have to think and plan about what I eat. I just open the refrigerator, pull out a box of chocolate or strawberry Optifast, drink it and I'm done. Oh, and I drink lots of water.

I am not inclined to cheat, because Optifast is relatively expensive and I don't want to be throwing money down a hole.

For exercise, I ride the bike and have added these arm exercises holding cans of vegetables while I do them. Not very hip, but if beans work as well as weights, why spend the money?

At Christmas I will have dropped another dress size. Oh happy day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day 2009

When you're retired, holidays are fairly ho-hum. I forgot about Labor Day until Sunday night when Sarah asked me if we had plans.

No, did they have plans? No. I don't think the other Plummers had plans either. The New Jersey Plummers went to a Yankees game. That's what I call a great Labor Day outing.

I am not a planner. I like planners, but I am not one. I'm not the mother who gathers her chicks for a major cook-out on, say, Labor Day. I like it a lot better when one of the daughters-in-law plans something that includes Tom and me and we just get to sit around and eat their food and make smores and joke with the grandkids.

I miss my mother, who used to make jello salad mixed with whipping cream, potato salad and great sloppy joes for good-weather holidays. We would drive to Washington Park up Parley's Canyon and have a picnic. Very 1950's. I miss the 50's too.

My version of that is to go to Ruth's Diner in Emigration Canyon.

Anyway, Tom wanted to drive to the Cathedral of the Madeline to prepare for a class in architectural photography he's taking at BYU. They're photographing the cathedral on Thursday morning and he wanted to be prepared. We parked the car and walked up the steps, and lolled around, heads back, staring at gargoyles. The bells rang the hour, which is my favorite sound in the world. Twice, I've had an apartment in the Covey down the street where I could hear those bells. It's my favorite area of Salt Lake: South Temple between 2nd and 5th East (Backers' Bakery).

We walked up the street shaded by Sycamore trees. Then got back in our car and bought Dr. Peppers and Hershey bars at the K Street 7-Eleven for the trip home.

Later, we took Alice, our Yorkshire Terrier, for a walk by the lake. Lots of families out biking or pushing strollers. We met with a family who also had a Yorkshire Terrier (Sophie) and we chatted with them about what nasty little dogs they are. Meanwhile, little girls pass by saying "Oooh what a cute little dog!"

We sat on the porch until the sun went down.

Pretty good Labor Day, really.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sibling rivalry

Max (9) has learned to play the recorder in school. He played JINGLE BELLS for us with verve and musical insight. He's obviously a genius.

He has taught Mira (7) to play her own recorder: every note except the "d." She begs him to teach her the "d" note, but he refuses. She can't play JINGLE BELLS because it requires the "d" note.

"If you don't teach me today," she says, "then I'll ask Dad to teach me."

"Fine," says Max, "but I won't let you use the book.

"If you teach her all the notes, you can play duets. Duets are fun." I say. "Ensemble playing is satisfying."

His face crimps into a shudder. I've asked him to kiss his sister.

He's a genius. He's a also a pedagogical Marquis de Sade.

"He doesn't want me to play as well as him," Mira says.

I understand perfectly. Who wants Mira crawling up his backside playing JINGLE BELLS as if she were 9? Duh.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon

And I have to come in fasting. So I'm sitting here sipping cold water. I'd really like some of those mixed berries in the fridge and a bowl of Cheerios and maybe a small handful of chocolate chips for dessert. My kind of breakfast.

I will be tested for cholesterol and blood pressure and diabetes and thyroid. Maybe, he'll ask me if I can subtract sevens from one-hundred and who is president. Can I balance on one leg? Can I touch my nose with my eyes closed?

Today, I will pass all the tests.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ila's house

Tom and I were in Provo today to do a short spiel on study abroad in the Freshmen Honors meeting. When we were done, we drove up to Oak Hills where we lived for ten years. To our surprise Ila Wheelwright's house was for sale. I think her family has kept it since she died, but now it's up for grabs.

"I would like to live in Ila's house," I told Tom. "Not because I like the house--I always thought it was rather ugly (despite the gorgeous views), but because I'd like to live with Ila's ghost."

Ila was the old lady who wore purple. She also wore wigs. She owned a wardrobe of wigs including a red one and a blonde one. She wore lots of makeup with bright red lipstick and nail polish. She sang soprano with a vibrato that could knock you sideways. She spoke her mind. She was always herself. She was very tall for a short woman.

Once the Relief Society had all the older women bring clothes and aritifacts from when they were young to display in the cultural hall. Ila had a flapper dress, but even more interesting was a photograph in a baroque frame of her at nineteen in a mountain pool of water. "That's me," she said when I picked it up.

"What I want to know is what are you wearing?" I said.

"Nothing!" And she laughed her horsey laugh.

"Really?" I said. "Who took the picture?"

More laughing. "My boyfriend," she said. "I told him to take it."

That was Ila: the closest thing to a Mormon bohemian I can think of. I know that after she was widowed, she stayed up all hours of the night reading and looking through magazines and slept through the morning. Her yard was completely fenced in, but sometimes the gate was open and she'd be in a house dress smelling the roses in her chaotic garden. "Smell this one," she would say. "And this one." She always cut a rose or two for me to take home.

I would like to have Ila as my guide into old age.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My consistent good taste

Elliot turned four today, and Sam and Sarah invited us to a barbecue/birthday party for him along with Sarah's parents and an assortment of friends with cute offspring. Earlier in the day I went to Target to buy him a Tonka truck. I bought him a Tonka truck last year and it was a huge hit. Could I be so bold as to say it was his favorite gift?

I have a Tonka fire truck at my house, which is also a popular item.

Anyway, I stood in front of the trucks to decide which was the BEST one, because I'm a competitive and self-absorbed, nasty person (or because I like to bring joy and pleasure to my grandchild--choose one). I found a red one that made noises and had moving parts but then I saw the garbage truck which also made noises and had moving parts plus two garbage men and it was BIGGER than the red truck. I chose the garbage truck. Then I remembered that I had not bought Louis a present for his first birthday in May, so I also bought the red truck for Louis.

Sam brings all the presents out to the back yard, and after the children beat up a pinata, Elliot opens his presents. He is stunned with the garbage truck. I read this as pleasure. Sam walks up to me, smirking: "You bought him that same truck last year." Crap.

"I'm so embarrassed," I say, but that might have been overstating things. Over medicated people don't get embarrassed, nor do we cry. "Go get the truck I bought for Louis," I tell him.

I think Elliot liked it. It's all a blur to me now. I know that Louis played with it for the rest of the evening, so I know he liked it.

Then Sam brings out the red two-wheeler with training wheels. I can state positively that it was the favorite gift this year. Remember your first bike?

Here's the thing: at this writing I cannot identify the truck I originally bought for Louis. I'm sure it was red. Other than that, I don't know. So, I can never again buy a Tonka truck for Elliot or Louis without making a phone call first. And I don't make phone calls.

Later, we stopped by Charles and Erica's where they were hosting a Lindsay open-house for Anne. There I learned that I had bought the same present two years in a row for Harrison, for Max and for Anne.

Why change when you've found the perfect gift?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What is the difference between me and Audrey Hepburn??

We both have bikes. We both have Yorkshire terriers in our basket. We both have pleasant smiles. One of us is about four dress sizes smaller than the other one. But one of us is also dead.

So I win.

I didn't intend to take a vacation from blogging. It just happened. Tom and I went on our vacation to New Jersey and spent some time in THE city as well, and I came home thinking I should be living in said city (and I don't mean Hoboken). So I've been whining and complaining and fault finding, spitting and kicking small animals. Who wants to read about such insufferable behavior?

I stole Audrey Hepburn's picture off Erica's blog. She is very much into bikes these days. Not the bikes that require latex costuming but bikes that allow you to wear regular clothes, even dresses.

Tom was the photographer and is lashing himself for cutting out my feet. I won't let him re-shoot. Besides, I have cankles.

It is August, the saddest month of summer. The anticipation is gone. It's here, now, today. Go do something fun. Go outside. Go. Go. Go.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Road Island Diner, Oakley UT

Today we got the idea to drive to Oakley and eat lunch at the Road Island Diner, which has been in existence since 1939 but has only been in Oakley since 2006.  It began as the Road Island diner in the actual state of Rhode Island but was moved to Fall Rivers, Massachusetts and then back to Rhode Island.  The Canadian fast food folks, Tim Horton's, bought it up and stuck a Tim Horton's there--I love Tim Horton's doughnuts by the way.

Okay, I don't remember the particulars because I have the brain of a sluggish sixty-six year old, but the diner was put on a flatbed and moved across country to Oakley UT, home of the Oakley Rodeo, which is the only rodeo I've ever been to that didn't bore me into catatonia.  It's a real rodeo, not one of those flashy, sequined affairs with bustier-wearing cowgirls.  When I attended the Oakley Rodeo, a man was chased by a bull, and while he was scrambling up the chain-link fence, the bull gored him and broke his leg.  Now THAT's entertainment.

Back to the diner:  way cool as only things from 1939 can be.  I had a BLT with avocado on wholewheat and a glass of milk.  Tom had the Smith-Morehouse burger.  Diner food.  The food wasn't really the point.  It was the drive up the canyon, green as Switzerland, the yellow daisies and Queen Anne's Lace, and Jordanelle and Rockport filled to the brim.  It was a tiny vacation. We oohed and aahed our way up and back.  It rained.  

Tom and I decided to date other people and not just each other.  This made us laugh for fifteen minutes.

We drove into Salt Lake to Tulie Bakery on 7th South just west of 9th east where we bought a brownie to share, a brownie made of real butter, a brownie worth a triple-bypass. Thanks for the tip, Erica.

Ann, I know I'm plagiarizing your format.  It won't be the last time either.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Living in Holland, not in the moment

I have found the mother of all websites for those who dream of living in Holland for a year like I do.  It is Pararius.Com.  Rental apartments and houses in all places, all prices, furnished and unfurnished, near water, near cows, near churches--whatever your heart desires.  The above photo is a one bedroom house in Volendam for about 1000 U.S. dollars a month.  It's one block from the Harbor, which may well be one of the kitchiest shopping streets in the world.  This house is near that street but not on it.  But hey, if you feel like having your photo taken wearing 19th century lace caps and klompen, it's only a short walk away.

Look up Breukelen, Giethoorn and Delft.  Be sure to pick a place in centrum.  Otherwise, you might just as well be on the Jordan River Parkway.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson

Even if I wasn't sixteen or even thirty when Michael Jackson was at his prime, I find myself mourning his demise.  I loved to watch him perform and I always wanted a red jacket with gold epaulettes.  I was born to wear such a jacket.  We gave Ed a sequined glove for one of his birthdays (it cost way too much).  One of the better gifts.  Everyone wore that glove at least once.  Later, I wrote a roadshow where I had a large group of seventy-somethings sing "Bad." They were hilarious.

I thought he was beautiful before he had himself cut into little pieces.  Someone didn't love that boy enough.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Go see "The Proposal."

Tom and I saw 'The Proposal" tonight and were thoroughly entertained.  Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock lead a wonderful ensemble cast including the always funny Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson and the hilarious Oscar Nunez from "The Office."  The writing is 
witty, well-paced and believable (with maybe one exception--the indian chanting scene).  It's a great night out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our 45th Wedding Anniversary

We were married on June 18, 1964, around nine in the morning, in the Salt Lake Temple by Howard Stevenson McDonald, the temple president (1964-68).  He was also the president of BYU preceding Earnest L. Wilkenson.  I didn’t know any of this, not even  the name, McDonald, but Tom remembered that much and found the rest on the internet.  We had a Howard Stevenson as a neighhor in Harvard student housing, 24A Shaler Lane.  They must be related.  The Howard we knew was later divorced from his wife, Sarah, so there you go:  not everyone makes it 45 years.

 My father said days before the wedding, “You think Tom is perfect, but he farts like everyone else.”  Maybe he meant, “He farts just like I do.”  Maybe it was a warning:  Tom isn’t perfect.  Duh.

 The picture above was taken at the end of the reception that 650 people attended in an all- night downpour and went way beyond closing time, which was supposed to be ten ‘o clock.  Tom and I were exhausted to our hair follicles.

 The next morning (as much as I like sexual tension, I’m skipping it), Tom let a loud fart.

“Oh my gosh,” I yelled.  “My father said you would do that and you did it the first morning.  The FIRST morning.”  Tom laughed.  My father would have cracked up if he’d been there.  The two of them together would have had one of those guy moments.

 Tom and I have mostly hung out today.  Neither one of us feels well.  We’ll go to Taco Bell and have three taco supremes each (unless he can talk me out of that).  Maybe we’ll sit on the porch awhile.  We’ve already looked at old photos and sighed.  He tells me every single day he loves me, so why should this day be any different?  I don’t want it to be different.  I’ve always liked hanging with Tom.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tarragon chicken salad

For those of you who simply stalk the postings, the recipe for the Tarragon chicken is imbedded in the comments of the last post.  Emily posted first and wins an all expense paid trip on a pirate ship to Sierra Leone--beach front.  Robin is going to Boise this weekend.  Who needs a prize when you have Boise?

I can't believe there are two recipes on this page.  Maybe I should write a cookbook.  It should be titled, "Where is Tarragon and How Can I get there?"

Attention Robin and Emily

One of you should cough up the tarragon chicken salad recipe.  I'm not one of those natural cooks who can just throw a bit of this and that together.  It turns out too this and that.

Isn't everything better with a "little cream"?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just say no to the Shiloh Inn in Nampa, Idaho

The whole Utah clan drove to Idaho this weekend to be with Jon and Julie when they had Liam blessed in sacrament meeting.  We wanted cheap.  We should raise our standards by about ten bucks.  The Shiloh Inn (not to be confused with the Shiloh Suites, which is newer and nicer) was
one of the top five rattiest places we have ever stayed.  Keep in mind that we have stayed in whore houses across Europe.  Just because it's a "pension" in the daytime doesn't mean it's a "pension" at night.  One of them had carpets on the BEDS.

Anyhoo, this particular Shiloh Inn's exterior was rotting.  We were greeted by four wranglers smoking at the entrance, each in varying states of decay.  They were there when we left for dinner, and they were there when we returned.  In the morning they were still there.  The room had a masking floral scent, but masking what?  Semen?  Armpit hair?  Pee? Ear wax? Sloughed off dead skin?  Ailing maggots? Blood? Boogers?

Yes.  All of the above.  One didn't want to walk barefoot on that carpet.   The above photo is exactly the way our room looked except for an added one hundred years of fading, body fluids, and a poof of aerosol.

Sunday morning we were ready to go forty minutes before church started at nine AM.  Tom was blessing the baby, an important role.  We were dressed like the respectable old folks that we are, raised in the fifties and early sixties: pantyhose and all.  Not Tom.  He only wears pantyhose on Wednesday nights.

Tom unlocks the deadbolt, but the door doesn't open.  He tries again.  No go.  I try.  No.  He tries.  No, no and no.

He calls the front desk and explains that we are locked into our room.  A woman comes with a key to get us out, but it doesn't work.  Tom calls the front desk again.  "I have an important appointment at nine.  We need to be out of here in ten minutes!"  

He calls back in ten minutes.  "Don't you have a screwdriver?"  His voice is menacing.

"Yes, it's in the maintenance room, but only the maintenance man can get in there, and he's on his way now."

I think Tom's head will explode, and I go to a zen place, which means staring at a dot and listening to my own breathing. 

At nine, the maintenance man arrives with a screwdriver, slips it under the door, and Tom unscrews the deadbolt.  We get there two minutes before the sacrament is over.

Tom gives a lovely blessing.  We have lunch at Jonathan's.  (I still want that chicken salad recipe)  and we all drive home in heavy rain.

Do not even THINK about bringing up the pioneers to me. 

Saturday, June 13, 2009

His Buttocks Ached from Flexing

I have just returned from a week of teaching at BYU's Writing for Children Conference.  I had a fabulous class and our last project together was to assemble a story from THE NEW YORKER magazine fictions.  We borrowed phrases and whole sentences to make an "original" short fiction.  Our only requirements were 1) it must contain the word "butter," and 2) it must have sexual tension.

This is what we came up with (title above) :

     I was in love with a man named Cuthbert, origin unknown.  And oh, that man could really eat.  He would go home and sculpt his butter.  On these nights of low moon, Cuthbert, of a more unstable temperment, began to do weird things:
 "I was thinking we could duct tape the child," he said.
 "The boy is hungry, I said.
   "Is it because of the cancer?" Cuthbert asked.
  "That was crap," I said.  "That was negative."
 "Do you want some dessert?"
  "Have you been drinking from the wine bowl again?"
 The boy was sleeping.  We had brought back the morphine for his pain.  He was rarely awake and not very happy when he was.
  Cuthbert ran around in his skivvies, to no avail. "Don't worry about it, Ignatia."  He held a hand against his ribs.
  It was a depressing sight.
 "You've let yourself go," Cuthbert said.
  I grew furious and plotted my revenge.  I decided to kill him.
 The whole thing happened almost too fast to be real.  I threw a butterfly net over his head.    Cuthbert tore at the net and clawed at his face.
  "So Daddy.  Isn't this cozy?" I whispered.
 "What are you talking about?" Cuthbert yelled.  "I'm miserable."
  He yanked the net off his head.  Frozen in the hard spotlight, he looked old, crazy and forlorn.    An intense discomfort settled on the room.  There was one false note, one shadow:  the moon.
  "I'm kicking you out of the house," I said.
  Just at that moment, the animals at the zoo next door began to growl.
  I reached beneath the boy's pillow and found the perfectly dreamed weapon:  an old lanyard.
 "What a terrible gift you have given me," I said to my husband.
 "I always knew you were a lesbian, you with your one boob."
   I should have said something cold.  Instead, I stretched the lanyard.
  Cuthbert knew I was in a position to injure him.  He let me do what I wanted.  Too old be aroused by pleasure, I sought pain.  I circled behind him and pulled the lanyard against his throat.  The winding required a huge effort.  The lanyard closed against his spine with a dry sound--crack!
  At the zoo, seals barked, large cats danced on their hind legs, and birds followed them by the dozen.
  Cuthbert slumped down to the bed, where the boy was sweating and sleeping--dreaming of something unpleasant.
  And for the first time, I thought of Cuthbert as a lover, possibly dying.
    Goodbye to the life I would never have.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The quick fix

My friend, Claudia, just sent me this recipe for a single-serving chocolate cake.  Brilliant!  


4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 egg

3 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons oil

3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)

A small splash of vanilla extract

1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)


Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.  Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..

Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world?

Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!


Monday, June 1, 2009

The 5th Sunday

I love fifth Sundays, because Tom and I have made a decision never to stay for combined R.S. and Priesthood meetings. After Sunday School, he said, "I'm going to surprise you," and he took me to brunch at the Grand America.  Nice surprise, indeed. We sat by a window overlooking the garden and I watched a large yellow butterfly hover on red flowers for a full five minutes. The interior, too, was filled with bouquets of fresh flowers.   Beauty, more than anything, lifts me out of myself.  It made me forget the headache I had.

Earlier I rolled pretend cigarettes out of the sacrament meeting program and offered Tom a smoke.

We watched AGE OF INNOCENCE at home and then called Sam and Sarah and asked if we could visit.  Elliot called back almost immediately to say that he wanted to come our way, because he wanted to see Mira.  Well yeah, who doesn't want to see Mira?  We told him Mira wasn't home, and so we were allowed to visit at HIS house.

I was full of caffeine and talked nonstop.  Sam and Sarah were gracious and sent us home with a vase of fresh cut pink roses from their bursting bush.  

Nice evening.  Louis flirted.  Elliot sang.  Sarah showed us her broken toe.  Sam and I mulled over Bear Lake real estate.

Thank you, Tom.  Thanks Sam and Sarah and boys.  Thanks Grand America.  I want to live in your hotel and have high tea every afternoon.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Who cares about the tooth fairy?

Why isn't there a face-lift fairy?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Roundup 2009

It was a sunny day.  The predicted thunder showers never materialized.  We met Sam and Sarah and boys at their house and rode up in tandem to Heber Cemetery where Tom's parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles are buried in a Plummer plot.  Elva, his mother, began this tradition many years ago.  She would fix all the flowers in coffee cans lined with aluminum foil. Flowers from her exuberant garden: iris, peonies, bridal wreath, and roses.  Her husband, Gail, got the largest bouquet but the others did pretty well, including Gail's sister, the unfortunate Lodema Plummer, who dropped dead at the age of 23 on the dance floor in 1927.  She had had the 1918 influenza and it had weakened her heart.  She died in the arms of Robert Bjorkman, who teared up whenever he talked about it.

I suggested to Sam and Sarah that they name their next daughter Lodema.  We could not come up with a pleasing nickname.  Lodi?  Dema?  Od?  But is a nickname even necessary?

We were  saying how all kinds of distant relatives would come by to talk to Elva--the Andersons and Bjorkmans are the two names we remembered--when suddenly lots of Plummer cousins appeared:  Susan, Scott, Pat and Anne.  There was much celebrating about this happy coincidence, and we all chattered in the sun and marvelled at the over decorated graves and had a generally good visit.

The children,  Elliot and Louis grew hungry so we went off for our "picnic."  Elva always made a large lunch of fried chicken, potato salad, jello salad, brownies, chips, punch and we would eat in back of the Heber tabernacle rain or shine, hot or cold.

We did our own version:  we went to the Homestead and ate lunch overlooking the pond and the geese and then went to the gift store for fudge and a carmeled apple.  Elliot made two trips up the volcano while the rest of us listened to birds and fed Louis bits of chocolate.

Tom and I napped and then drove the Miata with the top down around the neighborhood, past the lake where we noticed the new sections had been opened up.  This means longer kayak rides.  It was all rather blissful.  I think you should say it aloud when you know it's true:  it was blissful.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend update

Friday, I went to the doctor to have a uterine biopsy.  She told me to come back on Monday for a sonogram to look at my useless ovaries.  She said ovarian cancer is the worst.

Saturday morning I went kayaking.  Of my many hats, I have chosen the yellow one as my kayak hat.  Kayaking is spiritual

Saturday, I participated all of ten minutes in the Provo Children's Book Writers and Ilustrators' Conference, or whatever it's called.  It was the first time I had been in the library at Academy Square and it is lovely.  I used to have a class there when I went to BYU in the dark ages.  The best part of the conference was running into old students who were now published authors themselves.  And seeing old friends.

Saturday evening, Tom and I went to see STAR WARS and root for the good guys.  Or do we route for the good guys?   NPR had spoiled a good deal of it the day before.  Was it Ira Flato talking with the critics and blabbing all the surprises?  I hate when they do that.

Sunday morning, I did not go to church.  First I practiced lying like a dead woman, my arms crossed over my bosom trying not to breathe, trying not to think.  It's hard to be dead, if you're alive.  Then I read the New York Times.  Tom came home from church and broiled a steak on the barbecue.  I love gnashing a bloody steak.

Sunday afternoon, we went to Liberty Park with Carlos and Erica and the kids.  Max and Murgatroyd played on the playground while the adults and teens discussed life, love, dating, and Germany.  I wore my safari hat (as opposed to my yellow kayak hat).  We ate cream puffs from Costco.

Sunday night, we went to Sam and Sarah's to sing Happy Birthday to Louis who is one.  The Kameraths were also there (Sharon had excellent gossip).  Louis practically turned inside out when we sang.  He knew it was his party.  I could eat that child, he's so cute.  Sam made a train cake for him.

Monday morning, Tom drove me to the doctor.  I was pissy.  He didn't care.  My ovaries waved at me on the sonogram.  No cancer.  I turned into Miss America.  We celebrated by eating at Ruth's diner and I bought a bunch of clothes and smiled a lot at Tom, because he really likes it when I smile.

Monday night, we went to D. R.'s viewing.  She looked dead.

But I am very much alive.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Anne and Max, grandchildren of mine, (not their real names), decided to take a walk and when they were a fair distance from home, Max had to pee.

"Go behind this bush," Anne said.

He wouldn't.

"We'll go to Grandma's house."

When they arrived at G'ma's, she and G'pa weren't there.  

But Anne knew the garage code and they let themselves in.

When they opened the back door of the house,  Holy Moly, Rocky, the security system began its anxious beeping.  Alarming!  Max couldn't pee with all that racket.

Anne danced nervously about, until she got an idea.  She called 911 and told them that she was at her grandparents' house and had set the alarm off.  

They already knew!  Police were on the way. Wow, we're getting our money's worth.

Anyway, the police were averted, the alarm was turned off.

And Max peed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This is against the rules

I think I may be getting boring.

Mother's Day 2009 receives maximum points

Mother's Day lasted two days this year, just the way I like it.  

Tom, who is not my child, but who is one smart husband, bought me an orange kayak and he couldn't wait until Sunday to give it to me, and so I received it on Saturday.  I was completely surprised, because last time I heard, we had 75 cents in our checking account.  I took her out for a spin on the lake.  It was a perfect day, sunny, maybe 75 degrees, and I paddled from one end of the lake to the other.   I'm never happier than when I'm on

The Kayak came with a two-wheel carrier and I can pull it the block and half from my house to the lake with ease, even though I am a total cripple.

Sam and Sarah gave me the book, LOUISE, THE ADVENTURES OF A CHICKEN, which would be a good title for my autobiography.   Louise the Chicken also likes water and adventure.  She leaves the henhouse three times and is kidnapped by pirates, joins the circus, and then is kidnapped and held prisoner in a cage with other chickens until she picks the lock.  Like me, her heart beats inside her feathered breast. (Tom claims this was the biggest surprise of marriage).

The best line in the book is "Good-bye my sweet COQ AU VIN," called Mitzi as Louise left the circus.

Sam and Sarah also had us over to dinner on Saturday night along with her parents, the Kamaraths.  There were flowers everywhere and dinner was fabulous.  Elliot dictated a card to me and the last thing he said was "X-Ray."   Thank you, Sam and Sarah,  Elliot and Louis.  X-Ray!

Dede and Ed sent two beautifully wrapped packages from the MOMA.  One was a red watch.  I was wearing my red jacket when I opened it.  Red has always been and always will be my favorite color.  The second box was a muslin bag of tiny wooden blocks representing New York City, including one shaped like the Statue of Liberty and several limos and cars. Fabulous. Thank you, Ed and Dede, Rian, Samantha and Hank.  X-Ray!

Erica and Charles had us all to dinner on Sunday including her parents, the Lindsays.  We played half a game of Clue and I won.  (It was Mother's Day!)  Lots of flowers, laughs.  Yummy dinner with hudspeth (Dutch mashed potatoes, onions and carrots) and a terrific coconut cake.
They gave me these sophisticated black and white kitchen towels that make my stove look too cool for words.  I also got a handmade note where all of them essentially say I'm terrific. Thank you, Erica and Charles, Anne, Harrison, Maxwell and Mira.  X-Ray!

And Jonathan and Julie called on Sunday night to wish me Happy Mother's Day.  They gave me a new grandchild, Liam.  Whoopty doo!  Thank you, Jon and Julie, Katelyn and Liam.  X-Ray.

Best damn Mother's Day ever.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Card night with the sisters

On the first Monday of every month, I play cards with my sisters.  The game is Golf, a nine-round game easy enough to be able to play and talk at the same time.  Talk and actually win is another story.

 This past Monday we took pictures.  From the left, Janie, Marilyn, Judy, me, and Toni.  I know, I look like their mother.  I AM the oldest. 

We play two rounds a night, add up the points and the sister with the least points wins.

We started out with one  medal for the winner, but ended up with lst, 2nd and 3rd place medals.  Last night, at Toni's, I said, "We should have booby prizes," and Toni turns, opens a drawer, and brings out two big black wooden Ls for losers. Her husband, Jesse, made them for us.  Thanks Jesse.  I'm pretty much a loser every month.  Of course, I can always say, that L stands for Louise.

I tell my sisters that lately I've been saying that I was raised by my parents in an orphanage.  "Like I never had a doll with hair," I say.  Now Toni jumps up to get the doll she got and still has--a doll with hair!  A bride.  Then she she says the real killer:  "I also had a Madame Alexander doll."

No, no no!  No one in the orphanage ever had a Madame Alexander doll.  That is not possible.  Our frugal mother did not run a thrifty  household by handing out Madame Alexander dolls.  Unless she got them with 500 books of green stamps or, bought it USED and had to have the head replaced.  I refuse to believe that Mother gave one of her daughters--not me--a Madame Alexander doll.  Maybe it was a fake Madam Aleksender doil.  I'll bet that's what it was:  a fake.

I don't have any of the toys of my childhood, because I didn't take care of my things.  Janie took care of HER things.  Why didn't she take care of my things as well?  It wouldn't have taken that much extra effort.

The only bike I ever had was a rebuilt Colgate.  Ever heard of it?

We tell stories.  In somebody's ward, the primary chorister is working the song to death by flailing her arms and bowing them into the shape of the sun and letting her fingers flutter down to show the rain coming down.  You know the gig.  These kids can't read, so you have to show them the words with your body.  When the song is over, a three-year-old in the first row says in a loud voice, "What the hell was that all about?"

When the phone rings, Janie says, "Oh that's Mother.  She calls me this time every night."  (She's been dead for five years).

Marilyn tells us her best time for sleeping is after five when Neil, her husband, gets up.  She can spread out in the bed and--and discover a half eaten peanut butter sandwich on his side of the bed.  It is smushed as if he has lain on it half the night.  Later that day, when he comes home and says he's hungry, she says, "Why don't you finish that peanut butter sandwich you started in bed last night?"  He doesn't even remember getting up and making it.

I love my sisters.  We laugh the same. We all sing alto. We're exceedingly anxious.  Not one of us would ride a ferris wheel.  We don't even ride the sky tram at lagoon.  I did once and hyperventilated through the entire ride.  Janie likes buttermilk and has a large, very large shoe size.  We don't hold it against her.