Monday, July 30, 2012

A Hot Time in the Old Town and Other Random Thoughts

After having the coldest air conditioning known to mankind for the last 18 months, my van’s a/c decided to start having problems yesterday afternoon…in the middle of a 105 degree Kansas afternoon.  It didn’t give up the ghost altogether, for which I am grateful.  Instead it cycled every 60-90 minutes between frigid and not-working-at-all.  And since my range of comfort goes from about 76 degrees to 76.5 degrees, I was never comfortable.  We are hoping that my mechanic brother Sam is right and the addition of a bottle of refrigerant will be all we need to continue travelling in (cool) style.

My internet-less life continues, making it difficult to blog or keep up with my games of Words with Friends.  Last night we slept in our hot-wired Hilton in Kansas City, and as we learned on spring break, $$$ hotels rarely have free internet.  This morning I am sitting in the lobby so that I can use the free wifi to write a letter to my missionary boy.  And complain on my blog, of course.

I also wanted to mention how relieved I am that the beach volleyball teams aren’t being required to wear bikinis in the olympics this year.  (Brr…) I only know that because it was on a tv at Little America when we stopped for our 50 cent ice cream cones, which sadly were only available in vanilla this year.  We also watched a bit of the swimming and women’s gymnastics at a truck stop Wendy’s last night.  It was kind of cool—everyone in the restaurant facing the tv on the wall, mesmerized by the olympics.  Probably the first time I’ve ever felt solidarity in a crowd of strangers in a Wendys.

And finally, a picture for you before I hit the road for the long drive to Kentucky.  Cindy Lynn found this one for you, but I think I’ve lost the link…


Monday, July 23, 2012


I'm being held hostage by my siblings at Bear Lake in a house that has no Internet or cell service. Life is tough sometimes. See you in a couple of days...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What scripture study feels like, and other musings

I sat down to study my scriptures and a thought popped into my head:

“I wonder how my scripture study session will feel today.”

I’ve been thinking about that recently, noticing that while sometimes I have a scripture study session that is deeply & spiritually satisfying filled with insights, many other times I have a session that just feels, well, normal.  Like I read something and thought about it and wrote about it.  But nothing more.

As I was thinking about this (and perhaps grumbling a little in my mind) I realized something.  The truth is, my life goes better when I spend time with my scriptures, regardless of how it felt.  Maybe I learn something important sometimes and other times it’s a review of things I already know.  Maybe my spirit and heart are more receptive to new information sometimes and other times I’m just showing up.  But any way it happens, I’m better off for having done it.


And then I had another thought.  I thought that (like many things) it would be too easy if scripture study was a spiritual feast every time.  It would be so easy to keep making the decision to read my scriptures if there was a guaranteed payoff like that.  Perhaps part of spiritual maturity is reaching the place where I read consistently, no matter what.  Whether I’m feeling the spirit or not.  Whether I feel like it’s going to feel meaningful or not.


And then that thought continued on out…as my thoughts so frequently do.  Isn’t this part of really being an adult?  Doing what we should do, even when we’re not feeling it?  Reading from the scriptures every day.  Making dinner for the kids even when we’re not particularly hungry.  Going to work every day (thanks Russ!!) even when we want a day off.  Having Family Night even when what we really want is to have Family Go to Bed Early Night.  Going to church every Sunday, paying tithing when it feels like there’s not enough money in the bank.  Taking responsibility for our behavior and apologizing for what we’ve done even when no one calls us on it.  Figuring out how to extend the benefit of the doubt when someone does something hurtful.  Trying every day to feel charity in our heart towards others. 

I think that Heavenly Father knows that decisions that are easy, that have an instant payoff or that make us immediately feel good don’t tell much about who we are.  It’s the harder decisions, the ones we make only because we know we should, the choices that sometimes feel like we’re making them uphill, that show who we are and what is truly important to us. 

I’m going to try to remember that the next time I’m not feeling very motivated to do something because I’m not sure how it’s “going to feel”.  Instead I will try to tell myself that it’s not about how it feels, it’s about what I’m choosing.  And who I’m choosing.  It’s my chance to choose Him in hundreds of tiny ways, every single way.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Today’s Mystery

First of all, a picture from this morning.


The girls are making faces to show what normal people probably feel about the fact that today we got in the van to start our trip back to North Carolina.  Fortunately for us the trip will be broken up by things like a family reunion at Bear Lake, EFY, a couple of days with our Kentucky cousins, and approximated 73 books on cd. 

How could we not go back.  You all know how much we LOVE the beach.  And how much we LOVE our friends.  The combination is more than we can resist. 

So bring on the audiobooks!


Now for today’s mystery.  We pulled into a rest area in Eastern Oregon to, you know, rest.  And this is what we saw in the back part of the parking lot.

IMG_6389 I had Jenna stand beside it so that you could see just how huge the thing is.  Perhaps not so big in diameter, but in length it’s gynormous! 

What do you think it is?  I actually have my suspicions now because I have peeked inside and even taken a picture inside.  I will post the inside pictures in a couple of days—we’ll see if anyone can make a guess as to what it is between now and then!

Come on, guess!  Or if you know for a fact, tell us!

Totally Spoiled

Look what Russ made me for breakfast before we leave on our trip-back-across-the-country.


Scrambled eggs with onions, zucchini, and leftover roast beef (fabulous!) and fried potatoes.  I will drive east (do you know how strange that feels—to start my trip by driving east?) with a happy stomach.  It is no wonder that I love this man so much.  Do you know, the first time he ever made me fried potatoes was on our honeymoon in Litchfield, SC.  (Our first beach trip.)  He had me at potato…

PS—breakfast included a piece of toast topped with the marionberry jam I made the other night.  Spectacular!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Here’s a random sampling of some of the things that I’ve been up to lately.

1.  Decorating

I saw somewhere (probably pinterest, source of most of the cool ideas in the universe) a tutorial for making a lamp out of a big clear vase.  I was intrigued.  Then I remembered the navy vase I’d recently seen at Goodwill.  Then I went back and bought it so that one day I, too, could make a lamp.


You know, one day in the future when I have a house again.  But then one day I just had the random idea that in the meantime I could set my tiny touch lamp on top of the navy vase.  So I did.


And as I was standing and looking, I started wondering if I could put a big lampshade on top of the tiny touch lamp.  So I did.

IMG_4095 How’s that for a new lamp?  And it’s still a touch lamp.  I love it—it makes much more of a statement than the tiny touch lamp did.


2.  Gardening

First of all, lots of balconies around the apartment are sporting hanging baskets.  Lush beautiful hanging baskets of petunias or fuchsias.  (Fuchsias are big here.)  I couldn’t bring myself to buy a ready-made hanging basket because they were all $30+.  So I made my own.  Here it is, 6 weeks later.

 IMG_4109 Ummm….not exactly lush.  And if I add together the cost of the hanging basket and the flowers, it might have cost me $30.  I’ll probably try again next year to see if my theory (that my flowers just haven’t had long enough to grow) is right.  But after that I might have to just buy one.

I’m having to learn new things about gardening here.  For instance, mold.  In all of the dirt, all the time.  It’s better if I water them from the bottom, but they can still get mold when there’s not a lot of sun.  Now I have a spray of some (I’m sure nasty) stuff that I spray the dirt with from time to time.  (The white stuff on the dirt is the mold.  A light case of mold.)


Learning how to judge watering here has been tough too.  In North Carolina it was so hot all of the time that if it hadn’t rained I knew things needed to be watered.  Here it’s a different matter.  Originally I thought since it was so cool things didn’t need to be watered.  As it turns out I was wrong.


It also turns out that while the completely wilted leaves will revive, for some reason the flower stems do not revive and the poor flower is permanently damaged.  I lost quite a few gerbers figuring out that they do actually need to be watered, even when it’s cool out. 

In other gardening news, I planted one tomato plant in a big pot on my balcony.  I am pleased to report that it has several (5?) tiny baby grape tomatoes on it, and one that is turning red.  Pretty exciting stuff.  I also decided that this year I wanted to try to grow a tomato upside down, but I am too cheap to buy the ugly $10 upside down tomato holders.  I did some reading online and decided to plant in an empty 2 liter soda bottle.  I finally got around to assembling it on the 4th of July.

037 For a while there I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get my arm out of there.  The yellow tape is to protect the roots from the sun so that they don’t burn, but I’m also hypothesizing that the warmer roots might help the plant grow more quickly.  Boy this plant needs to be watered a lot.  Here’s how it looks now—it’s grown quite a bit, and it’s interesting to see it growing upwards.



3.  Remodeling.

Last year sometime I bought a few pair of pants at Goodwill for the express purpose of making them into skirts.  Here’s the first pair—a very bright pair of capris—fabric that I loved, but that I didn’t want to wear as a pair of capris. 

Image07012012163829 And here is my almost finished product—I’m still going to take some of the fabric cut from the legs and use it to make a vent in the back instead of a plan slit.  Much nicer that way.

IMG_4115 Excuse the stuff all around me in the picture, please—we don’t have much space here for standing around taking pictures.  Don’t you like how tan my legs look?  Me too.  Too bad it’s just a trick of the lighting…  But I do love how the skirt turned out—I think it will be lots of fun to wear.   Now if I could figure out if I could wear this cool scarf I just found at Goodwill with it…what do you think?


4.  Constructing

When our house in North Carolina went on the market my nifty earring storage board went into storage and my earrings got piled into a too-small jewelry box.  Once we were here and kind of settled in I decided that I had to do something—I couldn’t stand having to search for and untangle every earring I wanted to wear.  This time I didn’t have an old bulletin board sitting around to use, but I did have an abundance of cardboard.  I picked up some fabric at Walmart to use for a base and a little ribbon just to spiff things up, and while the kids were on trek I finally put it all together.  So nice to have them all neat and tidy again.

044 046

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seize Each Moment

Many years ago my visiting teaching companion and I were called to visit a sister in our ward that I didn’t know very well.  From the very beginning I enjoyed my time with this sweet sister, and as the years rolled by my companion and I developed a deep love for her.  For the first couple of years her husband was rarely home when we came to visit, but then his schedule changed and he was often home and would sit in on part of our visit. 

I learned that her husband was a fascinating man.  He had been everywhere and seemed to know something about everything.  You may think I’m exaggerating, but here is a list of just some of the things that we have talked about over the last couple of years:

  • Mount Everest
  • the South Pole (and his time there)
  • hamsters
  • the new conference center organ
  • mountain climbing
  • water purification systems
  • emergency cooking setups
  • gardening
  • car problems
  • and probably Mount Everest again!

I always enjoyed my evenings in their home.  I think that I assumed that they would go on forever.

You all know how that story went—leaving this dear sister and her husband was one of the profound sorrows of leaving Durham.

I went to visit a few nights before I left town, and he was at a meeting.  She & I had a lovely conversation together and I told her to give him my love.  Later in the week I answered my cell phone and was surprised to hear him on the other end.  He had called me to say goodbye since he hadn’t been home when I visited.  I was so touched by his gesture. 

We talked that day for a few minutes and he told me how much my visits had meant, both to his wife and to him.  He told me that my companion and I had almost convinced him to join the Relief Society.  I don’t remember what else we chatted about, but I know that I cried and that I assured him that I would see him and talk with him in August.


My friend had a massive stroke last week.  He is in the hospital now, partially paralyzed and unable to speak. 

I keep reviewing his phone call in my mind, and over and over I think how grateful I am that he reached out to me, that we had this last conversation and said our goodbyes.  I am so grateful to have heard his cheerful voice one more time.


We think that there will always be more time; more time to do the things that matter and more time to say the things that matter even more.

I’ve learned this last week that there may not be.  Life is more fragile than we know. 

And I will always be grateful for that phone call.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Let it Burn


Cindy Lynn sent me a link to a fascinating article about wildfires in the west the other day.  The article explains that for many years small, low intensity fires have been prevented from spreading.  This has allowed dead wood to accumulate and super flammable shrubs and trees to grow. 

The consequence of the suppression of so many small fires has been enormous; now when fires do take hold, they reach historic size and temperature and have potentially catastrophic consequences.  I read with interest, and as I finished reading realized that I had learned about more than just wildfires.

I had not thought in the same way before about all of the “little” trials that we experience in our lives; trials of inconvenience, those that resolve quickly, regular frustrations, challenging situations, difficult relationships.  Suddenly I could see a higher purpose for these types of adversity in our lives—a clearing away of flammable material, so to speak. 

I’m sure that whoever decided to put out all of these smaller fires thought that they were doing a good thing—sparing the environment from the stresses and destruction of those fires.  How surprised they must be to see in retrospect the damage caused by their help.  In the same way I know that I would save myself or those I love from all of the frustrations of life if I could, never thinking of all of the ways that these little issues shape our characters and train our responses each day.  Fortunately I lack that power, so one day, when the big fire comes (and we know it will, even as we hope it won’t) the destruction it can cause will be tempered by the maintenance done on the landscape of our hearts by all of the little fires that have come before. 

A Book I Never Expected To See on the Audiobook Shelf


All I can say is, what’s the point??

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Pioneers

One of the first things we learned about the Hillsboro Stake was that they were having their first ever pioneer trek this summer, and that they were taking all of the YW/YM, not just those 14 and older.  And that they were taking the 11 year olds that would be 12 by the end of the summer. 

I was stunned at the thought that my babies could go on a pioneer trek.  Stunned.

When I came out to look at houses in February we happened to go to church with the man who was in charge of the whole trek and we talked to him for a while about these young kids going on the trek.  We were still not convinced that we were comfortable with the kids going, but after praying about it we decided that we would let the kids choose.

Much to our surprise (why was I surprised??) the kids immediately jumped at the chance to go on the trek.  They were enthusiastic from the first minute they heard about it.  We bought good tennis shoes and started taking long walks so that they would be ready to walk 18-20 miles over 4 days.

(I was also surprised at how much of my anxiety about my little kids going on the trek disappeared when we went to the information fireside and learned that the kids were allowed to take healthy snacks.  Apparently my biggest worry was that they would be hungry!)

Josh immediately told us that he would not go on the trek.  We told him that he didn’t have to; it was entirely up to him.  But that we were going to go ahead and register him so that he could go if he changed his mind.  Sometime in the first week or two he after he arrived in Oregon he decided to go and we were thrilled, but of course (because we are smart parents) we said nothing. 

We took several trips to local Goodwill stores to buy dresses to re-make as pioneer dresses, white scrubs to wear as pantaloons, a old sheet to make into bonnets and aprons, and pants & shirts for the boys. 

When we were buying the dresses a woman who was also looking at dresses turned to us and asked, “Are you guys going on a pioneer trek?”  When we said that we were, she said that she was too.  And when I told her that we were in the Hillsboro stake, she said that she was too.  It turned out that she lives in the ward next to us.  The girls were so excited when they saw “Sister Robyn” (it took us a while to track down her last name) at the pre-trek square dancing activity the next week, and Rachel saw her quite often on the trek. 

The day before the trek departure we had to bring everything to the church.  It was crazy to see the piles of bedding & buckets there.


After we dropped off all of their stuff we came back here and tried to get them into bed as fast as possible—they were supposed to be back at the church at 4:45 the next morning.

    013 So Russ & I started our 4th of July at 3:50 am—waking up each of our pioneers so that they could have one last shower before leaving.  030 031 032 033 034

And then they were off.  I didn’t have the camera with me (which was a shame, because the sunrise was actually very pretty, as well as very early) to take a picture of the 6 school busses that came and picked up the 250 trekkers and all of the adults that were going with them. 

It was a strange experience, having all of my kids go away from me like that.  I realized that I’ve gone away from them before, but there’s only been one weekend that they’ve ever all gone away from me at the same time, and that was many years ago.  It was a really different feeling, and while I enjoyed my free time, I was so glad that I have many more years before these kids grow up and go off on their own.

It was also interesting to realize how uncomfortable I was not knowing anything about what was going on with my kids.  Even when Josh is at EFY, I usually get a few texts throughout the week complaining about something.  But the total lack of communication was disconcerting.


(A picture of Rachel & Jenna that someone sent me from the trek.)

We weren’t really sure what time we were supposed to pick them up on Saturday evening, but it ended up taking most of the evening.  One of the busses had broken down on the 4 hour drive back and so everyone was delayed almost 2 hours.  (I later heard someone say that the other reason that it took so long was because after they had dealt with the breakdown they had to stop at a rest stop for the kids to use the bathroom, and 250 kids just take a while at a rest stop!  Someone else said that at the rest area they were mistaken for an Amish group!)

The truck with the stuff arrived a lot earlier than the kids did and was laid out according to which company the kids had been in.  I was really surprised that in just a few minutes we were able to find all of their buckets and sleeping bags—even Josh’s, which wasn’t marked with lots of duct tape like the others.


Just before the buses got to the church one of the women went around and gave everyone a (clean) white tissue so that we could wave them as the busses drove into the parking lot, just like the settlers in Utah waved handkerchiefs to welcome the handcart pioneers as they entered the valley.  I was surprised at how emotional I felt, and happy that my sunglasses hid those emotions from the rest of the world.  I was emotional about my kids coming back, but also emotional as I thought about the incredible sacrifices that so many pioneers made to go to Utah, and how that has blessed my life.

Once the busses rolled into the parking lot and everyone got out it was a mass of dusty, suntanned, pioneer garbed people.  When we finally found Rachel she was much more intent on saying goodbye to the members of her “family” than she was interested in seeing us. 

The little kids were so excited to tell us what a great time they had had.  We got a detailed description of every meal, every pull, the square dance, the naps—all of it. 

Josh just told us about the stuff that annoyed him.  But he also said that he thought he was starting to be happy about living in Oregon.  So I’m assuming there was some not-annoying stuff in there as well.

IMG_4041 IMG_4045 I had each of the kids write a letter to Jason on Monday describing their trek experiences, and then for family night instead of having the lesson we (mostly I) asked them questions about their trek experience.  All three little kids are so excited that if they have another trek in 6 years (which is apparently the plan) they’ll be able to go again.  And Rachel is already planning that when she’s grown she’ll go as a Ma. 

The best part was when I asked them if they had learned anything spiritually on the trek.  They all talked about how much more they appreciate the sacrifices that the pioneers made in order to be able to come to Utah and be able to worship the way they wanted.  Jared said, “Mom, that was fun for 4 days but I don’t know if I could have done it for 3 months.”  They all agreed that it would have been unbearable if they hadn’t had plenty of food and cold water whenever they wanted. 


I told the kids that I grew up without any real feeling about the Mormon pioneers.  I don’t have walking-across-the-plains pioneer ancestors, so I always felt like it didn’t have much to do with me.  I told them about when I read the The Work & The Glory.  (First they were exited because one of their favorite books is by Gerald Lund.  Second they were excited because the man who had the idea for TW&TG books was from western NC.)  Then I told them about how much my feelings about the pioneers had changed as I read the books and really thought about the sacrifices these people had made because they really believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I could see that the kids understood what I was saying, because now they too understand and respect the pioneers in a new way. 

Don’t you just love it when something you’ve really worried about and prayed about works out so well???

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What’s for breakfast?

Figuring out what to feed my kids all day every day is something that often makes me a little crazy.  They would probably be happy to eat cold cereal every morning but I’m not impressed by the nutritional value of cold cereal, and I think it significantly impacts our grocery budget (because of the cereal and the extra milk) when they’re eating it frequently.  So I am always excited when I figure out something new to add to our breakfast rotation.

This summer it’s definitely German Pancakes.  I first had german pancakes a million years ago when I was driving home to North Carolina from BYU.  The other people that I was driving with were all excited about them, but I was not impressed.  Then last summer my friend Katie offered to make german pancakes for us and I was so surprised that I like them.  And Rachel loved them.  Russ made them again for us several months later and once again I was unimpressed and couldn’t remember why I’d liked them before.  I was definitely confused by my on again, off again dislike of german pancakes. 

Katie made them again for us when we were in Utah and this time she told me the secret.  And believe me, this is the secret that makes all the difference.  While you’re mixing everything up, you preheat the glass baking dish and the butter—then you pour the hot batter into the heated dish and presto, your german pancakes is nice and crunchy on the outside instead of limp and eggy. 

I try not to eat a lot of syrup (read: sugar with flavor) so I’ve experimented and every way I’ve eaten these has been delicious.  My favorite was probably with my home canned peaches, but I am sad to say that Rachel ate all the rest of the peaches so that’s out for now.  They’ve also been great with strawberry freezer jam, my new raspberry freezer jam, or with fresh fruit. 

Sometimes i make them in 2 8x8 casseroles instead of 1 9x13 so that we have more edges.  This time I forgot to do that, but they were still terrific.

Rachel and I say YUM. 


German Pancake

6 T butter

6 eggs

1 c milk

1 c flour

1 t salt

1 t vanilla

Place 9x13 glass casserole dish in oven with butter in it.  Turn oven on to 425.  While dish is heating, mix ingredients in blender.  Once dish is hot pour batter in quickly.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Top with syrup, jam, fresh or bottled fruit. 


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Word Play

I can’t remember where I saw these books recommended recently, but I picked them up at the library and we all read through them.  I know I’m easily entertained, but I thought the word play was very clever. 


Here are some of my favorites:


and my favorite, the one that makes me laugh every time…


(I don’t know who these books are really for.  They’re certainly picture books, but I’m not sure how young of kids could appreciate them.)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Reading Report

We did it—we read “A Swiftly Tilting Planet” aloud.  At 320 pages this is definitely the longest book I’ve read to the kids.  It’s also by far the hardest—lots of different characters, travel through time, and a fair amount of heartbreak.  But we did it, and it was magnificent.  I was determined to be done before the kids left on the trek, and in a manner very foreign to me (much more like Russ, the worlds greatest read aloud parent) we read together for hours at a time and I was hoarse for days.  And it was so worth it.  Madeleine L’Engle is one of my favorite authors, and this is one of my favorite of her books.  (Right up there with “A Ring of Endless Light.”)  I love L’Engle’s descriptions of the music of the universe, of the old harmonies, and her explanations of how the littlest change can impact the entire world.  I hope my kids got some of that and were able to appreciate the beauty of her language as well.


Next up on our reading plate: “The Book of Three,” the first book in Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles that’s better known for the second book, “The Black Cauldron.” 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Things

#6 Seeing the giant bear in Costco,


#5 Watching Tiger decide to love her scratching post.


#4  Fabric in Walmart.


#3  Josh finding a gps (his birthday present) at Goodwill for $39.


#2  Freshly picked raspberry milkshakes.


And my #1 happy thing:
I picked up a Dick Francis book at the library and
realized I’ve never read this one before!!!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Book club

DSCN7358I haven’t had time yet to write a farewell tribute to my wonderful delightful awesome fun-loving book club gals in Durham, but it needs to be written.

I didn’t always go to this book club.  When I moved to Durham there was a book club made of women from both Durham wards that met one morning a month.  It was a slightly older group of women (compared to the D2 group where I was old enough to be the mother of most of the other members) and there was a lot of focus on hosting & fancy brunch preparation.  I enjoyed my time in this book club, but eventually it faded away and I was without a book club. 

One of the young moms at church had started a book club in our ward, but I wasn’t interested in going because her book club was at night and I was just exhausted every night.  Finally my sweet visiting teaching companion and the book club creator ganged up on me and flattered me until I gave in and agreed to come.

And I loved it.

Loved it.

Loved it.

(Did I mention that I loved it?)

Since that ego driven decision all those years ago, book club has been one of the highlights of my month.  A couple of years after I started attending the organizer moved from our ward and eventually I picked up the organizational responsibilities of running the book club, helping to tally votes to pick books each fall, sending out reminder emails each month, and almost never missing a month.  For the last couple of years in September I hosted at my house and made chocolate fondue for the dessert.  We’d quickly discuss that month’s book and then move on to suggestions for the next year.  Each year I’ve been delighted to see the variety of books selected and thoroughly enjoyed reading them.

Some of the husbands joke that it’s really not a book club, but that’s not true.  We almost always had a great discussion, usually 45-60 minutes.  It was fascinating to hear everyone’s perspective, opinions, and insights each month.  And then when we were done with the book…well let’s just say that at that point the night was still young.  There was no predicting what the topics of conversation of would be on any particular night—sometimes the topics were spiritual, sometimes practical, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, always interesting.  I have probably never laughed as hard in my life as at book club.  You know the ugly cry?  Well in book club I often experienced the ugly laugh—the one where you’re laughing so hard you’re crying and you just know that your face is twisted into amazingly grotesque contortions and you just hope that everyone else is laughing so hard that they don’t notice. 

Almost every month I left my house for book club thinking that I was probably too tired for book club that night.  And every single month I left book club and drove home with a deep sense of satisfaction and happiness. 

When I realized that we were really and truly leaving Durham I knew that our book club was going to be one of the things that I would miss the most.  I asked if we could rearrange things so that I could host our last meeting before I left, and yes, I made chocolate fondue.

It was the perfect night.  A great group of gals, an interesting book to discuss, all that chocolate, and (as you will see) a never to be forgotten ending.

At some point during the evening they pulled out a surprise from everyone—Lindsay had bought the most beautiful book of photographs of North Carolina.  I was so excited, and even happier to read the sweet messages that all of my friends had written in it.  I would include a picture of it but I forgot to grab it before the packers came a few days later and now it’s in storage. I know I’m going to cherish it forever, though—so many splendid images of North Carolina, and so many expressions of love.

Around 11:30 half of the group left and those of us left just kept talking.  We talked and talked and talked.  About 1:30, someone noticed a spider run out from under the sofa.  Audrey tried to trap it in a plastic cup, but it was too fast for her.  Becky, being the only one with shoes on, offered to step on it.  Audrey mentioned that it sure was a fat spider.  Just as Becky walked over to step on it, Lindsay started talking about this one time when she was a kid and she stepped on a really fat spider on her driveway and it just exploded babies.  And then, in a moment we couldn’t have been any more hideously perfect if we had scripted it, Becky stepped on the fat spider and then shrieked, “It exploded babies!!!”

Pandemonium ensued.  Or at least that’s what it sounded like—I was too busy running for the Raid to be paying super close attention.  By the time the baby spiders were all sprayed, the mother spider had disappeared under the tv cabinet, and I had vacuumed back and forth about a million times, the party had pretty much broken up and everyone went home. 

But oh my, what a way to go out!

Ladies, I will always love you and cherish the memories of our time together.  Katie and Lindsay, thank you for convincing me to come!  And yes, I will always remember that what happened at book club (besides the exploding spider) stays at book club.  Thank you for sharing the very best parts of yourselves with me!


(and thank you Kim for bringing a camera!)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

On Little Cat Feet

Fog     by Carl Sandburg

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.



We walked
one evening
hand in hand,
watched the children run like playful puppies.

Cool air,
gray sky,
(but no rain)
flowers all around.

In that moment
I noticed
that I was happy.


Perhaps, like fog,
happiness comes
on little cat feet.
Silently padding across the floor
of my heart.