Thursday, June 28, 2007


What's the typical summer day at htm?
Alarm at seven, get up at seven thirty or so. Eyes gritty because we sleep with the windows open. Eat. Make tea. Do a little writing and reading. Drink tea. Go somewhere--to my daughter's, to a social engagement, like lunch or tea with someone. Possibly go into some store or other for something more or less necessary. If I'm lucky, take a nap. Come home later than I thought I would, often in traffic. Make dinner and have surprisingly cordial conversation with running son and college daughter and the historian. Take Bruiser and Betty to the dog park. Do a little more writing or reading. Maybe watch a little tv. Make a sack lunch for running son.

Is Bruiser allowed to sleep on the couch? What about Betty?
Yes, both. Betty has to make more of an effort than Bruiser, though.

So, how's that couch doing?
It has a healthy soupcon of dog hair and also a dash of dog park dirt on it.

Is Bruiser allowed to get up on your bed?
Enough questions about Bruiser.

Do you really all sit down together and have dinner each evening?
This week? Yes.

What'd you buy at Costco today?
Bagels, turkey, tomatoes, a watermelon, Red Vines, a couple of books. Cheese.

What'd you have for dinner tonight?
Bagel sandwiches and watermelon.

Do you spend money every day?
Sadly, shockingly, pretty much, I do.

How's that paper you're writing going? Fantastic?
If I could turn this "blog post" into "an introduction," I'd be doing very well indeed.

Is this summer everything you'd hoped for and more?
It's definitely more. I'm still hoping for "everything I'd hoped for." I'm completely optimistic, though.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Working for a living.

I am not working for a living this summer, though I am still (how?) working--right now, on a paper with counterintuitive that we hope these people putting together a book on multimodality (what's that you ask? good question--we're not quite sure ourselves) will take. They took our abstract, and now, somehow, we're writing a draft on spec. Academic bastards. I hate them all and their footnoting kind.

The actual workers, as in, where you have to show up to a specific place mostly on time and get a paycheck, are: college daughter, running son, and the historian. Everyone except me, the dogs, and cat, in other words. (We're writing a paper. Also a poem a day for the rest of the summer.)

College daughter has settled in, for the most part, into her job managing a Subway that's located down the street from a Hooters, and hence is known as the Hooters store. She works like a dog for pay that's not quite as good as you think it should be. Also, fast food places hardly ever close, so she doesn't get many days off. (I'm complaining on her behalf, as she doesn't complain much, very impressive.)

Running son started his job as a laborer for a company of electricians. It's a union shop, so they get paid well even for unskilled labor, he gets a chance to be an apprentice electrician (he can carry on through all the steps if he wants to--mainly, he's working until he goes on an LDS mission in the fall sometime), he gets holidays, and he'll get a raise before long. The downside is he has to be at work at 6 a.m., and the job site is about 45 min. away. So he has to haul his butt out of bed at an hour when even God isn't awake. He hasn't quite adjusted--he comes home exhausted and it's very easy, in that case, to take a little nap, which takes the edge off his sleep. "I missed my window of sleeportunity," he told me tonight, which is hilarious but also sad. As a person for whom sleep is now occasionally elusive, I feel his pain.

The historian is his steady self. We both like to be up late and are always stunned by how, at seven a.m., it's already seven a.m. Time for the snooze button dance, after which he pulls on his dean suit and goes to work.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The party's over.

The last writer is on a plane back to where he or she came from. The last reading, the last reception, the last horrified parent walking out at an instance of the f-word. The last manuscript consultation, the last workshop, the last coffee run. Writers at Work is over, and I am a little sad, a lot exhausted, pretty over-stimulated, and I am probably feeling some other emotions in the mix, as well.

I had to have a brief cry about five or six times yesterday. I am a crier, but that's a lot even for me. Why, I really can't say. I slept in the afternoon. The historian made sure the swamp cooler was working (even though we really need to get a new one, which entails research about getting the right kind, etc., which takes time, time I didn't have because it was hot and I really needed a nap), a gesture of loving kindness that brought about one of the brief cries. When we went to the farmer's market in the morning, which usually is a big high for me, it just seemed like so. many. people. that we kind of had to move right on out of there.

Anyway, last night, after we came home from our movie (Once, which I highly, highly recommend--a straightforward music-based movie, and it is wonderful music, that is just the kind of thing we all need sometimes), I went straight to this laptop and started composing a poem. That's a good feeling at any time. I was listening to the new Feist (again, highly recommended) and then to Martina Topley-Bird and then to Massive Attack. Dear reader, I composed straight through three cds. That's how good it was to write a poem. I intend for this to be the beginning of a stretch of creativity the likes of which the megastore hasn't seen in quite some time. If it involves some random crying, so be it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Today is the penultimate day of the Writers @ Work conference--both exhilarating and exhausting. I have thus far attended four readings and will attend three more before it's over. I have an introduction of a poet to make tonight that's making me feel a tad on the sweaty side. Also, I'm in charge of the daily grocery run, where I have to see if any writers need to make a run to the store for, what, cigarettes or tampons.

This year, I enrolled in a workshop, mainly because it was being taught by a poet whose work I love and I was thrilled about the chance to just meet her. It has been excellent, if slightly troubled by a sensitive new-age guy with not very much sense about how he was hogging the discourse space. Maybe that was just me.

I did better this year at schmoozing, aka networking. I went to the big party the night before the conference and hung out and talked with the poet. I picked up a poet/editor at the airport and I'm taking him back to the airport tomorrow. I had a manuscript consultation with him (he liked my work! he liked it!) and I'm sending him my manuscript at his invitation, which makes me feel like singing and dancing. I introduced the poet aforementioned, and he's the poetry editor of a literary magazine. A bunch of us took the poets, a fiction writer, and one of the fellowship winners to lunch yesterday at Trio. I helped them get tickets to the Lucinda Williams concert tomorrow night.

And--and this, my readers, is the best part--I am going tomorrow with the poet whose work I love to make a few returns at Anthropologie (her returns, not mine; her idea, not mine). I'm giving her my manuscript (at her invitation), but she said, and I quote, "this will be the best way for us to hang out, I think." How, how did she know? Shopping and poetry. Speak, o Muse!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Adventures in summer living--now, with pictures!

After my swell trip to CA, I went with my daughter to IKEA. The opening of this giant store (truly a megastore) was a big event around here, in that they reported on it in the papers, the governor showed up for the official opening (did I make that up? I'm pretty sure it's true), and my daughter declared that she wouldn't go until September. Things seemed to have slowed down after a few weeks, though, so she proposed that we go together. That seemed fine, despite the stories I'd heard from people who apparently barely made it out of there alive, albeit with affordable yet possibly not too durable furnishings. Whatever. I was game.

The thing about it is, there's a system for shopping there, and I don't mean a system as in "First, I always go check out the sale racks" kind of a system--I mean system as in "you have to follow the footprints on the floor" kind of a system. So we went upstairs, which is where you start with the showrooms. It's kind of impressive, although after about half of the upstairs, I felt worn out from spare Scandinavian style design. Exhausted, really. We ate at the cafe, where Swedish meatballs abounded.

But what I was there for was textiles, which in my case meant bedding. There's been a commercial, and it's been kind of seducing me. Colorful duvets! Pillow shams! Happy families rolling around in the colorful duvets! Etc. And I was not disappointed, although I did have to summon reserves of energy to actually select and locate the textiles I wanted.

I will spare you the details of the downstairs, which is where all the actual flatpacked furnishings are located, the ones you pick up and pay for. And then, there's the picking up and the paying. All in all, the trip to IKEA, which was rather restrained, since we didn't buy or even consider buying much, took us about 2 and a half hours, which is apparently par for the course according to my IKEA-frequenting contacts. The upside is, we have new curtains, a new duvet and cover, and matching pillow sham covers on our bed, and frankly, things have never looked better. You can see the results for yourselves.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I (heart) California, but I hate the U.S. 405/California 101 interchange.

I had a swell time in California, starting with making it, just barely, to my 6:45 a.m. flight, and still getting an aisle seat, to being rented a red P.T. Cruiser--hilarious!--as a compact car. And that was just the beginning.

I plotted my morning--arrive in L.A. at 7:30 a.m., find a place to have breakfast, go to an H&M store, then drive to Santa Barbara and meet up with my friend. All of that happened, pretty much according to clockwork, except that I didn't realize that the H&M on 8500 Beverly Blvd. was in the Beverly Center, pretty much a temple of shopping. Again, hilarious. I parked the Cruiser in the parking structure and cruised the mall, mulled over the inspired knock-off clothing at H&M, bought a shirt. Then up to Santa Barbara. At 11:30 a.m., the freeway was pretty much mine, so I sailed along and listened to the radio stations of my youth, KROQ and KLOS. What is sort of amazing is that they were spinning the same tunes they spun back then. I locked in with The Eagles, for instance--"Heartache Tonight." I know, someone else besides the stations does all the programming these days, but there was some radio kismet going on, I felt. "Burn Down the Mission," as another example.

My friend and I had a wonderful time. We ate nothing but delicious food, the mist burned off on the beach so we had some sun, we caught up with each other, shared insights about turning 50 (not to say we whined and moaned--not at all! don't even think it!). We took in the lovely little art museum in town. We took pictures.

On the way back to L.A., I bought the new Wilco to listen to. I got to hear it about three times, because the 405/101 interchange was clogged like an old drain. The last twenty miles or so--that's all it was--took like an hour and a half. I made my flight just fine, but on the plane, the friendly young man I sat next to told me that this interchange is one of the worst in the world. (Maybe somewhere they keep a list, like the list of the most expensive cities to live in and the countries with the worst infant mortality rate?) It definitely felt world-class awful. But that was after a great trip, so it was only after the third replay of "On and on and on" that I began to lose patience. Not that losing it, or exercising it either, would have helped.

I realized during the driving parts of the trip that during the time I actually lived in the greater Los Angeles area, when I was in high school, I didn't do all that much driving around, so my felt map of L.A. is completely partial--full of holes. I love the chances I get to go there and do something I've never done before--find La Cienega, surprise myself by going to the Beverly Center, see a new town, pass road signs I'll probably never get a chance to follow. Eat breakfast at Jan's, which bills itself as "The Best Coffee Shop in L.A." The place where we ate breakfast--twice--in Santa Barbara, Pierre La Fond Bistro, was a lot better in terms of the breakfast. But it's a bistro, not a coffee shop. Also, not in L.A. So the comparison probably isn't fair.

Monday, June 11, 2007

At the butt-crack of dawn.

Going to see my best friend since forever in Santa Barbara. This is Santa Barbara redux, since the trip the historian and I took last February was sort of mixed--too short a time for such a long trip, mainly. Today, I finished about 97%--maybe even 98%--of the writing-for-hire project that has been the monkey on my back that has been simultaneously kicking my ass and also reminding me how very, very undisciplined I am.

However, despite my substantial character flaws, I'm going to see my best friend since forever in Santa Barbara! She knows the town and there's an actual agenda that seems guaranteed to produce a good time. There's a beach, for one thing. Good restaurants (the historian and I had a great dinner when we were there--mine was a plate of deconstructed fish tacos that looked like a fiesta and tasted sublime). A beautiful old library and movie theater.

Well, see you when I get back, suckers. I'm going to Cali. I will give you a full report and possibly I will mobile blog. We'll just have to see.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The market, week one.

So, yesterday was the first day of the farmer's market. Since our farmer farms up in Logan, the first week is always on the one hand thin, and on the other hand cool because often there are garlic scapes, which I and others have already rhapsodized about, so I'll just spare you, except to say that I have made a bunch of garlic scape pesto (you can read a perfectly lovely recipe for it here), I roasted a head of broccoli with some garlic scapes, and I used some of the garlic scape pesto to flavor the bechamel sauce for the baked penne and cheese I made. You would not want to be too close to me right now.

Other pleasurable happenings: we ran into some friends (the historian has known them since before we knew each other) who'd been married forever, who endured a rather lengthy and sometimes bitter separation, and now have decided to reconcile and looked suspiciously happy about it. We saw some friends from work and their adorable baby. We bought bread and a croissant (for me) from the excellent Crumb Bros. bakery people. We bought some arugula and some broccoli raab greens from Chad the vegetable impresario.

I am a little worried, because my herb people weren't there, and neither was the small-scale farmer the historian and I call Tremonton girl. I have already seen some of my favorite farmer vendors fall by the wayside, and I am not having any more of it. My herb people are important to me.

But on the plus side, there were the beautiful, tiny, super-fragrant and super-sweet strawberries from Weeks Berries of Paradise. Also, little new potatoes that are the color and size of a small Super Ball. And peas. So I am just going to cook those potatoes and peas right up, together, and maybe chop a little mint to go with them, and cross my fingers that Tremonton Girl and the herb people show up next week, or the week after.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Oh to live on Sugar Mountain.

The megastore is a veritable hive of industry. To wit:
  • some of us have graduated from high school

  • some of us have resigned our positions as sandwich artists and are applying for other, more highly remunerative jobs, while others of us have been promoted to the position of Manager of Sandwich Artists (I think that's the title of the job, anyway--)

  • some of us manage to play video games into the night in the party-shed and still get up by 11 a.m.!

  • some of us are working away on various writing projects while also doing laundry

  • some of us get up every morning to go to a job

In other news, the cat has become a mighty hunter of mice again. Death toll for the mice: 4 and rising. The worst part of this is the piles of guts we find (this is how we conduct the death toll).

Okay, back to work, but before I go, this sample photo to illustrate the fruits of our labors:

Son and friend pre-graduation

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Leaving Las Vegas.

The historian and I drove the British Invasion down to Las Vegas, whence they entered the U.S. and whence they would depart.

Historian and Evie

Asleep in the car

Historian, driving like the wind


Moon over St. George (the night before we left them)


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