Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Chattering Crow

Follow me on my new blog

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Blog

Beginning September 1, I'm beginning a new blog: The Chattering Crow. This is an effort to get the Asian pornographers off my blog comments.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Auf Wiedersehen, Rian.

Dear Rian,

We found your note and the feelings are mutual. We loved having you come, hearing about the lazy-eye couple, hearing the list from your journal, listening to alternative music and beating you in Golf. Especially beating you in Golf.

All your photos are gorgeous, but this one taken at the historic Cafe Central the night before you left, may be my favorite. We are now bonded because of the Schokozauber, (the best chocolate dessert ever made). Thank your father for footing the bill for the most delicious meal of the summer.

Hope you had a great trip home. Kiss all the homies for me.


Grandma P.

P.S. May the power of the cane go with you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weekend update

We took the train to Halstaat with the students and Rian on Friday. It was supposed to be non-stop from Vienna but because of rail repairs we ended up getting off the train, on a bus, and back on a train. Old crippled women don't like this kind of lumping about. Grrrr.

But picturesque Halstaat always lowers my blood pressure especially when we're on the water. Rian is paddling with Jessica and Kayla in the first photo on Friday afternoon. Next morning, we rented our own boat and Rian drove us around a couple of hours. It was delicious. Tom is behind us taking a jillion photographs.

We have been following the World Cup games--when in Europe, do as the Europeans do--and last night was the final game between Spain and the Netherlands. We were whooped up for the Netherlands to win, even though everyone knew Spain would win. Perhaps even me. There was no score until they went into overtime when Spain got their single, winning point.

This morning the Austrian papers are full of sneers for the Dutch teams' mean spirited playing. They show a photo of the Dutch player kicking a Spanish player hard on his chest, a kung fu kind of move that flattened the Spanish guy.

I feel defensive and unreasonably uppity about the rivalry. I wish I had some orange to wear.

We ate at THE RUBENS CAFE at Palais Lichtenstein and this time, I was wise enough to order the Saffron Risotta and Prawns as did Rian. Tom ordered wienershnitzel and he got three huge pieces of it without vegetables (a pomme frite is not a vegetable). It could have eaten HIM. We ate inside because it is hot and humid outside.

We played Golf (the card game). We drank Cokes. Rian wore her new scarf on her head, my sunglasses and used my cane as a prop. She looked like the eunuchs in Duerenmatt's THE VISIT. That cane has power. Like in the power of the cane be with you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Rian is in Vienna

She's jet lagged and tired, but she made it. She's eaten and had a diet Coke and a shower, so she's recovering. Hurrah for Rian!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

I wish Murgatroyd had been here for our 4th of July party held after church in our apartment. The fifteen BYU females wore bright red lipstick to celebrate the day and sang and acted out songs from HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL.

Murgatroyd could have rocked it tonight.

They sang all the patriotic songs from that elementary school program that my boys sang years ago, ending with THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND; THIS LAND IS MY LAND, FROM CALIFORNIA TO THE NEW YORK ISLANDS.

We ate McDonald hamburgers (a half block away). What can be more American than that? Frankly, they tasted delicious. The kids brought treats. I made tons of ice over the last few days, because they miss ice. They miss air conditioning and clothes dryers.

We played Charades and that electronic game that you pass while the clock ticks and you have to describe the words that come up? My synapses aren't making connections I can't think of what that game is called. We've played it with family. Does it start with an "O"?

Tell me what the name of that game is!

Fireworks exploded from our our mouths and then we exclaimed at the ones we loved: AAAH and OOOH that was a good one, look up at the sky. It's been a lot of pretending today.

I asked Tom to find a flag store, but that didn't happen. So he called The American Embassy and they had them for us, paper ones, large enough to hang in the windows and little ones perfect for our Vienna travel journals. These are coming up as works of art. I'm keeping one too, and frankly find it difficult to keep a written journal and a blog at the same time. Have never been good at multi-tasking. The students are ALIVE and PASSIONATE and they make me happy.

We sang no American patriotic hymns at church, but I suspect that's because our English speaking ward members come from Ghana, the Phillipines , Nigeria, Australia and Korea. Americans are just a small part of the community

Tom and I ran into the Gay Pride Parade yesterday, and we without our cameras. The cross dressing was the most entertaining: guys in red high heels and black skivvies and capes pulling other guys in leather collars and leather shorts. I liked the ones who looked like women with huge wigs and purses and petticoats. The parade ended at the Ratshaus where the big Wien Fest is being held this month. Large screen productions of operas every night and lots of eating tents.

We went home and watched Law and Order on Channel without advertising. It was heavenly. And very American.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Healthy Feet

I now regret that I ever asked for information about the Healthy Feet Store, because I am receiving daily emails from them. I don't want or need to know about how to get rid of stinky feet. Foot odor has never been a problem.

Bone spurs, ankle replacement, nails holding this and that in place. I would be better off subscribing to an orthopedic journal.

My brother had ridiculously smelly feet and he was meticulous about caring for them with talcums, soda, sock deodorizers, showering several times a day. His feet still smelled.

I also receive daily emails from Kathleen Peddicord advising me on how I can live abroad on a thousand dollars a month. I receive emails from Bert somebody who is going to tell me the secret of happiness. Did I actually invite Bert into my life? I already know the secret of happiness: do your work and drink lots of water. Or is that the secret to a long life?

The secret of happiness: deciding to be happy. I wonder if I could sell that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Reading

If you can’t stomach graphic violence, this trilogy by the Swedish writer Stieg Larrson is not for you, but I couldn’t put it down.




In that order.

Two Harlan Coben novels:



Any mystery by P.D. James. I read THE LIGHTHOUSE this month.

Colin Dexter’s THE REMORSEFUL DAY. This is the last of the Inspector Morse novels. Exquisitely written. I’m going to read more Colin Dexter.

THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer. Enjoyable but not as good as Larrson, James or Dexter.

THE DARK TIDE by Andrew Gross and THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY by Edgar Wallace, because I got them free from Amazon Kindle. The last one is terribly old fashioned and not highly recommended, and I can’t remember anything about the other one.

PRIVATE JUSTICE by Terri Blackstock. Don’t remember. Could probably read it again.

Other books I read this summer, not mysteries:

THE LAKE SHORE LIMITED by Sue Miller (She never lets me down).

THE THREE WEISSMANNS OF WESTPORT by Cathleen Schine A contemporary comic novel. Well done.

SECOND HONEYMOON by Joanna Trollope and also by her, THE OTHER FAMILY

THE FORSYTE SAGA –complete (three books) by John Galsworthy. Loved it.

PASCAL’S PENSEES by Blaise Pascal Inspiring.

HOW TO RETIRE OVERSEAS by Kathleen Peddicord. Cuenca, Ecuador is it.

I have the same terrible reading habits that I’ve always had: once I get started, I can’t put it down. I try to space them a little, so that Tom sees the whites of my eyes occasionally.

P.S. I love love love my Kindle.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Fiat 500

I see this car everywhere and I want one. They are coming to the U.S. in early 2011. We owned a Fiat station wagon once. Picked it up at the factory in Milan, paid for it, and it wouldn't start. We called it The Citrona the four months we owned it. Our two toddlers slept in the back while Tom and I camped in a blue pup tent in gravelled campgrounds. The best camp was above Florence. At night, we walked around envying the Germans and their nifty trailers with the white bedding turned down at one corner. Then we would return to our pup tent, put on the Knorr soup, butter the brown bread and have dinner.

I read that Fiat has improved! (I'm a sucker for tiny cars.) I love the chrome line running through the logo.

I suppose it is human to want stuff. I was hoping I'd get over that. I have too much stuff as it is. Sometimes, I want to blow my stuff up.

And start with new stuff.

Pascal would say that was a distraction from having to think about our own deaths. Mostly, I've been reading mysteries, but I got Pascal's Pensees in there.

Reading mysteries is also a distraction from thinking about death. And watching The Black Adder on the BBC. And riding the tram through the second bezirk as we did today. Eating ice cream in Schwedenplatz. Dancing in your underwear.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sarah's happy place

Hallstatter See

We ask the waiter in the restaurant who owned the castle across the lake. It was Herr Handel.
"And what does Herr Handel do for a living?" Tom asked.

"He sells pork," the waiter said. "Lots of pork."


It's the first day of summer and it is raining in Vienna. After a few days of roaring heat, I like the rain better. Sam and Sarah have come and gone. I miss them.

Tom is off buying a Polaroid printer. It prints digital photos right from your camera , 2 x 3 inches. Perfect for little scrapbooks. I was going to go with him, but then just before we left, I said, "Now you know where this place is?"

"I think so, " he said.

I've been using a cane for a couple of weeks and "I think so" isn't good enough. Crippled people don't like "looking for a place" on foot. I'm not complaining. I'm just saying.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lazing around in the alps

This is my idea of a perfect vacation day: still in my pajamas late morning, reading a good novel, and glimpsing up at the alps when it suits me. Others are out earnestly hiking about. Not me. In another world I was a cat sitting in my own square of sunshine. Purrrr.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tom's yearly hat fiasco.

Tom needed a hat to cover his balding skull now that the sun is shining in all its glory. I think he meant to copy Sam's British Pub-style hat, but he missed the mark slightly and instead bought a J.Lo hat. Or a Beyonce hat. Or Thomas the Train. Or one of those boys from newsies. It's surprising what a difference a couple of inches makes.

There is no photo. He refuses to be photographed. And I think he will not wear that hat again. It will go the way of the of the Jonas Brothers cap of last summer

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wecome to Salzburg

"Hello, my name is HORST, and I will be your guide in Salzburg for two and a half hours in the pouring rain. I will lead you through puddles the size of lakes and destroy any illusions you might have had about the story from The Sound of Music. Mozart was born here and grew up here. This restaurant has been here since 803. We have the largest, coolest music festival with the most talented musicians in the world. They play in this palace and here and here. This was built to accommodate a larger audience. Salzburg is the most cultured, hippest, oldest, goldest place in the wide world, you dumb little tourist turds."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The bull scores

Did you see this in the news? The bull's horn enters under the matador's chin and comes out of his mouth. The matador is in critical condition. The bull was killed.

It's not a Ferdinand story.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Monastery at Melk

I am walking across the ballroom at the Monastery at Melk. You can imagine all the monks waltzing with each other in their dark robes: "No I want to take the male position this time; I was the female last time." Monk spats.

Actually, the Monastery at Melk hosted the royalty of Europe. The Empress Maria Theresa had had her own room and rooms for all her entourage. The cathedral is one of my all time favorites. I wanted to fall to my knees and praise God. Not many places have that effect on me.

The last time we were here, Sue Howe married us at the alter. She faced us and said to me, "Do you?" and I said, "I do." Then she turned to Tom and said, "Do you?" and he said "I do." She then pronounced us husband and wife. A tasteful and short ceremony.

We are still married.

Friday, May 21, 2010

They're here!

Charles, Erica and Anne arrived this week. We hadn't seen Anne for nine months and she has become--what? A raving beauty? Highly competent in German? Independent? Grown up?

All of the above.

I feel like the soppy Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof." I may break into warbling "Sunrise, Sunset, quickly go the days . . ." at any moment and break into choking sobs at the quick passage of time. I may flail my limbs and weep.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock. You're dead!

Or I may enjoy watching her happen for as long as possible and count my blessings that I got to be a part of her life and she of mine.

Or I could eat a cookie.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Aging in Vienna

We needed a headshot for a Segullah interview and came up with this. As usual, we are dressed exactly alike, blue and khaki. I wish my collar covered my sagging, wrinkled neck as well as Tom's covers his, but "Oh vel."

This might be the time to mention that Tom and I are shrinking at the same rate, which means I'm shrinking faster, because I'm younger than he is. We have both lost an inch and a half over the last decade. My ankle surgery may have put me on speed shrink, since one leg is now an inch shorter than the other, but I try to stand on the tall leg when Dr. Westermann's nurse, Laura, measures me. Frankly, I think Laura is reading the measurement from her low height--she is shorter than we are--and is getting it WRONG. Or she might have height envy. Some people do.

Sam, my youngest son, said she miss measured him by inches. He claims to be six foot, two inches. She said he was five, eleven or something. See, I think Laura has issues. Not me. Not Tom. Not Sam. LAURA HAS ISSUES.

I haven't been five, eight since seventh grade.

I hope I'm not moving backwards. That would mean I'd have to eat at Chuckie Cheeses again.
And go to the Golden Green Ball at age 12 with Link Bailey and dance in one large circle with my elbow folded in awkwardly on his shoulder, mashing my corsage. Junior Gold and Green Ball for ages 12 and 13. We danced cheek to cheek in 1954.

I must be standing on my short leg in the photo. Look How much shorter than Tom I am. I should only be a half inch shorter than he.

My gosh, I'm melting. I'm melting!

Friday, May 14, 2010

This evening's walk

WE walked from our apartment down the Porzellangasse this evening to the Palais Liechtenstein, which has this lovely statue in the midst of a pond. The water runs from her jar at this angle, but in the back, the water comes out of a fish's mouth. The park surrounding the palace has giant old sycamore and blooming chestnut trees. There are two songbirds that hang out in the sycamores with the most musical, but distinct songs. I have no idea what they are. Not robins. I want one of them to be a lark. Remember, "Greet the day with a song"? I can't see them. I may have to get some binoculars.

A duck and six tiny ducklings swam by. Why are all babies so attractive?

Six little ducklings swimming in a pond,
Five were brown and one was blonde.

Oh excuse me, for a second I thought I was Rick Walton.

If I WERE Rick Walton, I'd have that published by five in the afternoon tomorrow.

I may be eating a leetle too much chocolate.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shopping The Billa

I don't like grocery shopping at home, but I could hardly breathe at the BILLA down the street. First of all, mayonnaise comes in a tube like toothpaste. I pick up that tube and think, doesn't anyone here eat potato salad? Milk comes in one litre boxes and is whole milk. Butter comes in a square. What part of a pound is a square? Bread is uncut. I haven't really seen a classic loaf of bread. It is all rounded, covered with pumpkin seed or some other nut or seed. White bread is twisted into odd shapes. No packaged "grated" cheese. I bought some cheddar for a recipe. It must be like a fourth of a pounds. More leeks than onions.

"People shop every day. They don't store up for three weeks like Americans do," Tom tells me.

I like that, actually. I don't plan well for more than one day at a time, anyway. The store is just down the street, a three minute walk. I can adjust to the small packaging of flour, sugar, almost everything. Its like buying a cup at a time. It's like living in Miniature Land.

In America, they're always trying to sell you more than you need. Packaged hamburger, for example is always a little more than a pound, never less.

I can get used to this.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'm in Vienna

I look shorter in Vienna. I guess it's because the door is about ten feet high.To read about my first day, please go to where you will see this same photo but different text.

Where is the dog, Alice?

I held her head under water in the toilet for just a minute until the bup bup bup of her tiny heart stopped.

Just kidding. It's much easier to describe killing a dog than it actually is to kill one.

She's at my sister Judy's house until mid-June. Then the Bowmans from Oregon are staying in our house and will take care of her.

I forgot about the toilets here--like platters--on display. Very satisfying.

We are sitting in bed just as if we were home.

We will see the granddaughter--the vivacious Anne--in a couple of weeks. She will come with parents.

So you know how I bought a Kindle for the trip? Well, I discovered in the airport that it needed to be recharged. So I bought a P.D. James novel and read a REAL book.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I am cleaning. I know how.

Tom and I are leaving for Vienna on Monday, so now we're down to the last hours cleaning our house for the people who are coming to stay for two of those months. We take breaks with Ms. Pacman and get back to it. I like the smell of cleaning agents.

I'm wearing my back brace, because the last thing I need is for my back to go out. I think Alice knows something is up. She follows us around looking nervous.

And a nervous wind blows outside. Last night I thought the house might blow away with us in it.

I've always been afraid of being blown away, or being invisible to others. That's why I continue the chatter.

I wear red rubber gloves for the bathrooms. In a minute I will have some of the broccoli soup I made yesterday.

A week from today I'll be in Vienna. Yippee Skippy.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Phone Calls from offspring

How I know which of my four sons is calling me on the phone:

Jonathan: "Hi Mom, it's me, Jonathan." He always identifies himself as if I might not recognize him from the 5 million people I know.


Charles: "Helloooo." Very musical.

Sam: "Hi. What are you doing?" He speaks slowly. "Get on your computer to Utah Real Estate. I want you to see this house."

Friday, April 23, 2010

West of I-15. Like way west of I-15.

I miss the real estate bubble. Most of my married life we've made extra money by buying and selling houses. We've moved about like gypsies in the wind. I actually cleaned out cupboards last week, because I thought, I'm not moving anytime soon; guess I'd better do some spring cleaning.

If I have to be stuck in a house, then this is not a bad house to be stuck in. It's new construction and has granite and stainless steel in the kitchen, which I would not bother updating in another, older house. It has a usable front porch. The neighborhood has a lake and a pool and parks and other good stuff.

I like my ward. I like "my temple." I like being close to Charles and Erica and their kids. I like when Harrison brings Curtis by.

The downer is this: I almost vomit when I have to write on a form that I live in South Jordan. I like everything about my neighborhood except that it's in South Jordan. I've never in my life known anyone who lived in South Jordan. Now I know hundreds of people who live in South Jordan.

It's like a hair short of living in Bluffdale next to the penitentiary. Excuse me, people who live in Bluffdale.

And then there's this. I'm happy here. I'm happy HERE IN SOUTH JORDAN! How can this be? Am I working toward some kind of maturity?

I wouldn't get my hopes up.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Dear Lucy,

Where are you and what are you doing? Happy sixth Birthday! Does that even mean anything in your timeless world?

Your parents hosted a huge birthday party in your honor today. It was an indoor picnic in the 27th Ward building on P Street. It's the ward where your funeral was held. You wore a white dress that Grandma Sharon made, and your coffin was white, the size of a picnic basket. Are you still wearing that dress?

Many of your aunts, uncles and cousins, along with friends were there to remember you. I saw your youngest brother, Louis, his face smeared with frosting from eating one of the ladybug cupcakes. Elliot sat at the children's activity table where there were ladybug stickers and colored paper. We associate you with ladybugs. Lucy Ladybug. I think Pop-pop found that verse about Lucy Ladybug. We see ladybugs and we think of you.

The twelve-minute slide show of your life was mesmerizing and painful. Those short four months and your subsequent death, cracked our universe. You were courageous, Lucy. I think of you as determined--a fighter against all odds. Courageous.

After the slide show, your dad stood on the edge of the stage and held a ladybug pinata from the end of a rod while the kids swung at it with a bat until it split open and the candy fell onto the floor. One of your cousins used her skirt as a bag for the candy she picked up. In this world, we're all crazy about sugar. We ate sandwiches and potato salad and fruit too.

Later, we walked outside into the sunshine, crossed the street to the cemetery, to your grave site, which was decorated with flowers and little pots of pansies that your mother handed out as favors. Your parents opened up the packets of live ladybugs onto the marble bench with your name inscribed in it, and we gathered them onto our hands and let them crawl up and down our arms. One disappeared under my sleeve.

I'm missing you, Lucy. I'm missing you.


Grandma P.

P.S. Your Aunt Marcia stole ugly plastic salad spoons from the church.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Watching it yet again . . .

Tom and I watched AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER on the computer tonight in our beddy. We see it every year or so, although we hardly ever watch the whole movie. After Deborah Kerr's character, Terry McKay, is hit by a car on her way to meet Cary Grant's character, Nicky Ferranti, at the top of the Empire State Building, we fast forward to the first night she sees him again at the ballet, then to the end. We skip all the sentimental hospital and kid scenes. I mean, let's face it, the movie is completely neurotic after the accident. She doesn't want him to know that she can't walk? Puleeze. If she's not walking a year after the accident, she's not going to walk, period. Still, I enjoy watching the last scene as much as I did in junior high even though it's completely implausible.

The charm of the movie is it's two beautiful, graceful stars and the script's irony, despite the emotional manipulation. Then there's the song sung by Vic Damone. Love that song. Even better when it's sung by Nat King Cole. And that opening scene of Central Park in the snow! And the Empire State Building! Maybe it was this movie that made me a sucker for New York City.

No, it started with those Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies. I'm thinking of PILLOW TALK. NYC is one of the finest film characters ever.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt 2010

I began to write about Easter yesterday but got distracted with royalty, which reminds me, my oldest granddaughter had a boyfriend who looked exactly, I mean exactly, like Prince William.
Only cuter. Sigh. I miss her while she is off having her glam life in Europe, speaking Deutsch like a native.

Sam and Sarah organized the Easter egg hunt outside. They were hidden in trees, on top of cars and some were munificently lying atop the lawn as if they had just sprouted.

From top to bottom: Murgatroyd, Louis, Elliot and Louis, Max, and finally, Harrison, who is reading Ovid's Metamorphoses "for fun." Do I love that or do I love that? Ovid for fun. Yes!

He's a complete nerd just like his father and grandfather and pretty much all his relatives. I adore him. And guess what? Girls swarm him. Girls are smarter than they used to be.

I wish I knew how to make titles for each photograph but that is out of my tech range.

I finally made it to 20,000 in Ms. Pacman. I hope they have that game in heaven.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter 2010

Sarah brought hats and silk flowers on Saturday night, so while the men were at Priesthood meeting, we made Easter hats. A glue gun is a powerful tool. I wanted to look as much like Camilla Parker-Bowles as I could. Second to Mamie Eisenhower, she is my ideal fashion icon. Both Camilla and Mamie are such non-threatening couture queens. Mamie, because she's dead, and Camilla because she isn't very pretty with that scrunched up face and pointy teeth.
I understand she loved Prince Charles a long time before she married him. They spent some time making shameful phone calls with tawdry conversations and delighted in adulterating each other.

Is that anything like having your lawn aereated? I don't know.

I'm glad I have my hat; it makes me feel like royalty. So posh.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bird by Bird

"So today I read several chapters of Anne Lamott's book on "writing and life," (after I wrote me some more novel), because I am teaching an advanced writing class to our study abroad students this spring and summer in Vienna, and I ordered this book as one of the texts.

What is with the long sentence?

Anyway, I read the introduction, then chapter one and chapter two, when I remembered a rule I learned when I was still teaching but I have since forgotten: you should read the text BEFORE you have your students order the book. One f-word and a chapter named "Sh--ty First Drafts." Not that those descriptions aren't accurate, because certainly first drafts are sh--ty every single time. It's I forget the world and its writers aren't as squeaky clean as I imagine the religious school I represent would like it to be.

Most students know this, of course, but occasionally you'll get a student who is easily offended and will relay this private offense to you, but usually not. Usually they tell some all powerful clergyman. I don't need this in my life.

But I do need Vienna. So, on the first day of class I will apologize for not reading before ordering, although I've read several more chapters and haven't seen more foul words.

Really, Anne Lamott is funny, wise and experienced. And she believes in Jesus. There aren't that many writers you can say that about anymore.

I made a good choice.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Writing Day 1

Today, I had to clean up my study from an art project, so that I could write. I need two studies.
One for art projects, which are generally messy, and one for writing, which can be emotionally messy, but generally not messy messy.

I have not joined the writing marathons that have enjoyed popularity this month: the thousand words a day (4 pages) nor the weekend marathon. But I have decided to spend a few weeks writing every day for a couple of hours including weekends. I don't like to make page goals. It makes me anxious. It is good enough to sit at a clean desk every day doing something, anything, with a novel.

Today, I made notes on where I was going and started going there. I read what I had written aloud to Tom and it was like God said when he created the world: it was good. I am feeling more hopeful about writing, a feeling I haven't had in two and a half years. I felt so hopeful today, in fact, that I set a goal for finishing it. I never do that unless I'm sure I can make it. I don't like to set myself up for failure.

I hate failure.

Sometimes I'm not all that great with success either. So there you go.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Drey jar

This afternoon I drank my water from a Drey jar while eating chocolate chips straight from the bag. Perfect.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Since Tom got his new Nikon, he's been posting a picture a day and this one of our dog, Alice, is one of my favorites. See the rubber toy? We are supposed to throw that thing across the room ad infinitum, and if we don't, she whines like the annoying little dog that she is.

Don't tell anyone, but I feel most protective about Alice. More than any of the dogs we've had. It may be because my children despise her. It may be those perky ears and that perfectly proportioned four-pound body. It may be that she loves me and wants to French kiss me every moment of the day. Ech.

The only real tension in our house is between Tom and Alice. Alice yaps and Tom yaps back louder. "Why do you want a dog if you don't want the dog to be what she is?" This is my question. I would never go out and buy a dog. It wouldn't even occur to me. But when we are without canine, Tom begins shopping and then says the curdling, "Let's go have a look at these Yorkies," which is, yea verily, the same as "Let's go spend several hundred dollars on a Yorkie."

Then for the next fifteen years, he and the dog bark at each other.

I imagine I will miss this interaction some day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Plum House

Every once in awhile a house goes up in a color I love. This dark plum makes me happy. I think it would be great to be a Plummer and live in a plum-colored house. (It's like I'm still in third grade).

We had a grand time at the Cannon wedding last night which was like old home week at the 27th Ward. It was held in the Sky Room at BYU which looks out to mountains from every window, including the one with our old house on it. So it was old home week for Provo as well.
I felt nostalgic and grateful for beloved friends and places. (This prose is sounding like a bad Christmas letter).

I started a new P.D. James novel today. It's a rest from Dostoevsky who'll I'll take up again when I'm done with this one.

On the writing front, I'm outlining my book, because I'm lost, and I'm not writing another scene until I know where it's going. I did some drawing this week. I like playing with my colored pencils and ink. Really, I'm too happy to write. Happiness doesn't make for good writing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Oh, how I love you Fyodor. I'm thinking of framing your picture and hanging it above my desk. I haven't paraded an author above my desk since Earnest Hemingway in 1961. You know the one. You out write him, Fyodor. He's good, but you're a genius. The things you know about human character, religion, philosophy, history, demons--you had demons, didn't you? Demons and epilepsy. The Brothers Karamazov took three weeks to finish. It was like being my teenage self sopping up a long novel like toast and honey. I read Crime and Punishment last summer. I'm going to read every novel you've written. But first I'm taking a break with P.D. James. Then I'll return to you, my love.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Game up!

I haven't blogged since Ms Pacman entered our house a couple of weeks ago. My addictions take many forms, but Ms Pacman may be one of the more insidious ones.

I first became addicted to Ms Pacman the week of a summer writing class in Quadna Resort and Conference Center in Minnesota under the tutelage of Marian Dane Bauer. We workshopped all day, but after dinner we gathered in the game room and played the newly developed Ms Pacman, our pockets loaded with quarters. This was 1982, the summer before I turned 40 and Magnum P.I had just finished its first season. I loved Ms Pacman and I loved Tom Selleck and I loved the idea of becoming a writer. Marian Dane Bauer took me out to lunch to tell me that I had what it took. One of the best days of my life.

We bought Ms Pacman for our Coleco set and I stayed up into the wee hours of the night trying to clear boards so I wouldn't be shamed in front of my sons.

Then all of it disappeared for a few decades and now I have a Wii and at Christmas I found out that one could still get Ms Pacman and so we bought one. But it took us months to get the other necessary accouterments to get the game up and running.

You may be interested to know that playing Ms Pacman is not like riding a bike. Don't use it and lose it. But it's coming back. I have a blister on my left thumb. I have cleared the second board. Right now it's hard to imagine ever seeing the third and fourth boards.

I do other things. Really I do. There's temple work, church, institute class, writer's group, cleaning up, finishing THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV.

I'm so busy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Max's piano recital

Max and his piano, teacher, Betsy, are two of my favorite people on earth. So it was wonderful to be invited to his piano recital last Friday night. Tom and I were early so we could sit on a sofa. Old people think about these things.

Betsy's twenty-one students played crisply and clearly and had been taught to bow before and after playing without breaking into sniggers. So not only has she taught them to play piano, she has taught them poise.

I kept a pleasant smile plastered on my face during the whole evening, realizing almost immediately that a recital is NOT a concert. A recital is full of glitches, second starts and sighing, and then continuing despite breakdowns. This creates a morbid tension in the listening audience who is invested in these children playing well.

Max played "The Gray Donkey" and "Splashing in the Brook."

A genius.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dark room stuff--gone

Our garage is stacked with "stuff" that we don't seem to be able to let go of. So yesterday was a big big day, because Tom gave away all of his dark room equipment to a student, a photographer.

Our "stuff" lies heavy on me. I picture our children cursing us when we're dead and gone and they have to do the clean up.

So I did a little lightness of being dance on my tippy toes when I saw it all disappear. I twirled.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's snowing

Tom has his new three million dollar camera. The good thing is that I can get him to take any picture anytime. Like it was after midnight when I noticed it was snowing, and I said, "You need to take a picture of that," and out he went. He took it without a flash. It is a pretty cool camera.

I was not going to stay up past midnight, but here I am again. Today was day one of organizing my pantry and listening to the Brothers Karamazov, which is fine entertainment. I figure I'll be done about when that book ends.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Everything is beautiful at the ballet

This afternoon, I saw Ballet West's production of Swan Lake. I went with high expectations and was not disappointed. I loved the prologue that shows how Odette was cursed. Her captured sister swan dancers rise out of the mist on stage, arms and hands fluttering like wings. I don't think I've ever seen the corps so precise and so bird-like.

I hate a stumbling corps of dancing swans. I needn't have worried.

There were other stumbles in the afternoon that had nothing to do with the production. I arrived at "Will Call" where they didn't have my ticket. I pulled out my internet copy that Tom had printed for me, and the woman in the booth, said, "Oh, your ticket is for this evening at 7:30."


The woman huffed and puffed with her superior who gave me a new ticket in box F, seat number 4 where I was cut off from one third of the left side of the stage and could see back stage on the right, including bare light bulbs. I could also see the heads of the orchestra members.

My original seat had a full view of the stage and was well above the orchestra pit.

Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. Really grumpy.

And yet the production was so beautiful, the two-thirds of it I could see. It took me twenty minutes to decide that two-thirds was better than not seeing it at all, and that I could ignore the action back stage and the orchestra pit.

It was a good decision.

Strangely, the one aspect of the production I didn't like was the circular projection on the back wall of the stage of Prince Siegfried and Odette united in heaven at the end. Please. They martyr themselves to save others. We cry. That's why we go to Swan Lake--to see beautiful lovers parted in death--so we can cry our eyes out at the loss.

A resurrection in Swan Lake? A happy ending? That's just wrong.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

For Ann

5 Things you can do with only a left hand:

1. Play Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major (Concerto pour la main gauche en re' majeur).
2. Practice toilet hygiene the way Muslim, Hindu and South East Asian People do.
3. Eat like the Europeans with the fork in the left hand.
4. Reach out with that one hand and pray that you can reach others for Jesus.
5. Take a road trip to Left Hand, West Virginia, just up the highway from Looney Road, and have your photo taken with the left hand shaped as West Virginia. Hold your left hand in front of you side ways, palm facing you, thumb pointed up and extend middle finger.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dreaming about art

I've been thinking of art projects. One I found on Apartment Therapy where the guy had made modern art with paint chips he had gathered from various paint stores. Very cool. And I have a hankering to buy different colors of India Ink and try some faces on squared paper.

Don't you love the name India Ink?

And I still haven't dropped the idea of running a thick black line through the middle of my novel. It's not original, but I don't think it's been done with YA. As I write, I'm finding more justification for doing it. It would be meant to be read across the top for a chapter and then across the bottom. Near the end, when all actions and people come together at a wedding, the line would stop.

It would probably irritate readers, but I'm not your momma.

Colors and lines and print and head drawings and novels are all engaging me right now. Not bad for February.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

And as long as we're on the subject . . .

If there's a person with the longest fingernails, then it stands to reason that there is also a person with the longest toenails. I assume it is not the same person. Look at all those trophies in the background. What do you think they're for?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The visuals for Ann Cannon's blog:

Ann wrote about this woman who grew her nails out for the Guinness Book of World Records. The idea made my skin crawl. Tonight I googled the nail lady and here she is in all her micabre glory. Even if I did absolutely nothing, I don't think I could grow my nails like this. They look like horns protruding from her fingers. Finger horns.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Erica!

It's Erica's birthday; ring out wild bells! I have known her for twenty birthdays, and my life has been better for knowing her. She is an artist, musician, writer, runner, swimmer, camper, decorator, gardner--and oh yes--wife and mother, daughter and sister, and aunt.

Okay, I can't stop the listing. It's like counting for writers.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Erica. I hope your day is filled with cake and flowers, friends and family and everything else your heart desires.

Strike up the marching band!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lamb's Grill Cafe

This restaurant has stood on Main Street for 90 years now, but I've not gone there much. Always thought it was for old geezers. So we went last Friday with friends (old geezers) and I had their rice pudding with whipped cream and cinnamon. Holy cow is that good. On Monday, I said to Tom, "I think we need some of that rice pudding," and we drove in and had it again. I'm thinking I may need some tomorrow as well. Rice pudding. Who knew?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Buddy Holly look

The best part of seeing AVATAR last night was the cool 3D glasses that I brought home with me. They're so much better than the old folded plastic ones we used to get. These actually have frames. Of course, they charged us an extra $2.50 a piece. Believe me, these didn't cost anywhere near two and a half bucks to make, but hey, this is America, land of the 500% profit.

I'm not a big fantasy lover and didn't really care about seeing AVATAR, but I'm a fool for 3D movies. I'm a big kid in the theater, gawping and exclaiming, "ooh and aaah" while moving my head from side to side to miss those bullets zinging at me.

The movie was thoroughly entertaining and creative, and three hours zipped by. I had to pee the last hour, but didn't want to miss anything.

Change of subject: Tom just yelled at me, because I ate the remainder of his chocolate Rittersport with Hazelnut candy bar. It's 5:30 in the afternoon and I ate it first thing this morning. He hasn't missed it until now? Hasn't he been married to me long enough to know that he can't trust me to save his piece of chocolate when he leaves it sitting out in the open on the kitchen countertop? Hasn't he learned anything at all?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Playing Scrabble

A few months ago, Tom and I realized that we were living parallel lives in the same house, in the same living room, in the same bed, grunting to each other when necessary but not really connecting in any serious way. We'd taken the marriage for granted and plugged into our individual computers, watching our individual movies. Just two old people waiting for death to scrape us off the sidewalk and dump us in a can.

The good thing about The Tom and Louise Show is that we dislike boredom of any kind and we especially don't like boring marriages, especially if it's ours.

So we've taken up playing Scrabble again. It's not quite the same as deciding to move to Buenos Aires or Cuente, Ecuador, but believe me, there are downsides to picking up and taking off. We've done it more than once.

We are competitive Scrabble players and well-matched. Often the difference between winner and loser is a couple of points. This week, though, has been a week of extremes. He beat me big time, crushed me by almost a hundred points yesterday.

Today, I pushed back and won by the same amount. Victory. I like winning more than losing and so does he. We expect to do an even amount of each. We are lazy about looking up questionable words. We do it after the game is over. Jinn is a an islamic ghost or devil. (I learned this from reading Turkish novels). Jen has something to do with Confuscious. I put down jen thinking it was an islamic ghost, and was happy to find that I'd spelled it wrong but it was a viable word anyway.

Word games don't work for everyone, but Scrabble makes our day.