Monthly Archives: March 2013

March Madness 26: Latte art

Coffee_art_at_PendlsPendl’s is our favorite coffee place, and this week, Adley, one of the barristas, served Peter this lovely bird-bedecked mocha.

Balkan Ghosts is just one of a couple dozen books one or the other (or both of us) intends to read before we head to the Balkans in May!

26th in a series: stay tuned
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March Madness 25: Red and pink

Human_rights_red_n_pink_logoThis morning I changed my Facebook profile to this photo. It’s a symbol that stands for marriage equality, as promoted by the Human Rights Campaign. You may have seen it popping up all over other people’s FB profiles, too — to draw attention to and coincide with Supreme Court oral arguments yesterday and today.

I pulled this explanation from another friend’s post: “The equality symbol signifies that marriage equality really is all about love, the HRC says, adding that in addition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender supporters, heterosexuals are especially encouraged to do so as ‘straight allies.'” Well, this last is me.

I have no agenda here and haven’t been particularly politically active around this cause. But I do have friends of all stripes, as one might say…..

The post continues: “‘Together we will show the nation that we believe all Americans deserve to be treated fairly and equally under the law — no matter who they love,’ according to the HRC.”

Hear hear! And I was getting tired of that picture in my cowboy hat, anyway!

Twenty-fifth in a series: stay tuned for more March Madness.

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March Madness 24: On blogging

One thing about writing these posts is that I never know exactly what will hit a responsive chord in either my regular readers (i.e., those who have subscribed and receive them via email) or to those who happen to see the posting on my Facebook page.

Well, what I wrote last, on Saturday, “Ella at Eleven,” certainly did! Nearly 100 people read that piece, and the blog received a lot of hits both days over the weekend. (For those who like to track numbers, I’ve written 170 posts and have had nearly 5,000 hits over the three-plus years I’ve done the blog.)

Now every topic I consider seems a little pale and/or paltry. I must admit that since I’m still not feeling 100 percent, my judgment might be affected. So, rather than skip another day (which is tempting!) I’ll just go with this little cartoon I ran across somewhere.DogCartoonAlexGregory_On_BLOGGING

Hopefully, the remainder of the month’s writings won’t just seem like so much noise….

Twenty-fourth in a series:
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March Madness.

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March Madness 23: Ella at eleven

I’ve known Ella, the daughter of my friends Eva Dahlgren and Dan Hundere, her whole life — and before, since Eva was working for us at Dark Horse when she was born.

From the first day Eva brought her into the bookstore, Miss Ella Ruth seemed older than her age; pretty and smart, we used to joke, even as a toddler, that she would be a rocket scientist super-model.   It wasn’t an easy pregnancy for Eva, and I’ve always thought of Ella as some sort of miracle child. While that’s an unfair burden on any kid, so far she seems to be living up to it, amazingly.

In the gifted and talented program at the Middle School, Ella likes art and drama and hiking and books and skiing. Her eagerness to write a novel was at least part of why Eva and I worked so hard last November on the Young Writers afterschool program. Ella started out learning to play the fiddle a couple years ago, and now plays the clarinet. She looked terrifically cute as she concentrated on her sheet-music at the holiday concert in December, with her hair up and adorned with a big red flower.Ella

Although I have several photos of her from this winter, this is my favorite. We ran into them at Pendl’s in mid-January, the morning the SnowScape Sculptures were being judged. (Little brother Ollie was home sick, if I remember right.)

Ella seems remarkably comfortable in her own skin, confident in ways I’m sure I didn’t share at that age.  Eleven seems to suit her well.

Not having children means relationships with kids take on a certain patina. They’re probably more golden than they should be, but I must admit, I feel tremendously blessed to watch the children of the bookstore employees grow up. I don’t see them (or their parents) nearly as much as I’d like to, but that doesn’t matter.

Cumulatively, they and other young families I know and treasure, help me feel that the world’s moving in the right direction and to understand that education and parenting are still as highly valued as they were when I was growing up.

Here’s to you, Ella Ru!

Twenty-third in a month-long series:
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March Madness 22: Advice

IMG_0362One of our employees at Dark Horse Books — Danielia “Dee” Lamiach Kotler — ran into some wonderful products while she was traveling many years ago and suggested we carry them at the bookstore. We did, to our delight and that of our customers.

It was the best kind of impulse purchase, a perfect bit for those who have a special love for one of the many “advice-givers” — animals and all kinds of natural things (i.e., your advice may came from a moose, a butterfly, a fish, a river OR a mountain!)

The company, Your True Nature, has a whole line of advice items with the little sayings. From bookmarks and postcards to stationary, t-shirts, and posters….. you name it, they make it.

Each one has only five or six lines, and they’re quite clever, heartwarming puns. Even years after first seeing one, and all the variations thereof, I find them likely to bring a chuckle of appreciation as well as a roll of the eyes.

We rcently uncovered this one, a magnet, and I stuck it on our fridge.

It got me thinking about horses — horses? Really? YES!

Being a lifelong westerner, I have a soft spot for horses….  I never owned one growing up but plenty of my friends did.  I vividly remember the time I was carried across the prairie north of town on one of Alice Barrett’s horses, going so fast my cat-eye glasses blew backwards!  I was in 4-H and went to the Wyoming State Fair three memorable summers in high school.  In 1977, I rode in the Cheyenne Frontier Days parade (with the other “queens!”) I fell in love with the super-speedy racehorses when I worked at Frontier Park for two summers after that. Horses play and have played key roles in the lives of many friends and family; Peter’s mom still boards two horses from HAPI Trails.  You get the idea.

My favorite line of advice on this: “Gallop to greatness!”

Here’s to a great weekend, wherever you’re headed……

Twenty-second in a month-long series:
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March Madness 21: Poetry Out Loud

If you ever memorized a poem in high school, then you can relate to the students who participate in a national program called Poetry Out Loud. In Idaho, it’s sponsored by the Idaho Commission on the Arts; I’ve been involved with the local POL at Teton High School as a judge and volunteer consultant (usually suggesting other people who might be good judges….) It’s been a highlight of my service on the ICA over the years to follow the THS person and then the state representative (they compete in Washington in April for sizable scholarships).

In the spirit of that competition, I started learning some poems by heart, starting with Robecover_of_kids_bookrt Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.  Such a lovely bit of verse!

Then I was inspired to recite something fun for our neighbor Owen Roberts on his third birthday. I saw this wonderful book at Corner Drug (Sally and Aaron have created a terrific kids’ book department!) and found a some good ones I thought might work for Owen.

I re-remembered a few from my childhood (“I eat my peas with honey…”) and learned a couple more from the book.  When I acted out “I’m a Tiger” for him,  he couldn’t stop saying “Do it again! Do it again!” His mom Jenny says he’s even reciting it himself now.

Very inspired, I’ve since learned several more for Owen, and tried making a couple of videos for Owen. Here’s a version of the tiger poem; yes, it’s goofy but it’s only 16 seconds long, and I like that Peter suggested we record it in our library. And now Owen’s mom can replay it for him as often as he likes!

The others are even geekier (can you imagine?), so I’ll refrain from sharing them, at least for now.

I had a lot of trouble trying to post the video over the past week, but feel a true sense of accomplishment that it works now!  At one point, this blog post was going to be more about patience than poetry. But Owen’s had a hard winter healthwise and I really wanted to get something special up for him…. so score one for me vs. technology frustration.  (Won’t be visiting the Roberts family in person until I know we can laugh at the rhymes without worrying about germ-transmission, which is a concern from my side at the moment).

Perhaps this post will provide some inspiration to you to learn a poem and share a poem. They come in all lengths and ease of memorizing!  The Poetry Foundation’s website has something like 10,000 to choose from, organized by type, subject, poet, season, and other helpful categories.

Twenty-first in a month-long series:
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March Madness 20: Three years

Today’s one of those days in the West when you can’t wait for winter to be over. It’s not too cold, but gray, and  miserable.  On this date  in 2010, after a similar kind of afternoon, we headed out to drive from Driggs to Cheyenne; Peter and I were south of Pinedale when my sister Judy relayed the news that my mom had passed away.

It seems impossible that it’s been three years ago already. Then again, I think of everything that’s happened that I would have liked to share with her…

This week a friend alerted me to a New York Times essay (here’s the link) about families, and it seemed apropos to post this  thought-provoking piece about why personal narratives are so important. (As Susan put it: “If you only read one thing on Facebook this year, this should be it” — and I agree.)

I was lucky; early on I learned the value of sharing stories, recognizing that it’s critical to know about both the ups AND the downs that members of my family had experienced — going back a few generations, too. That’s something Peter and I both appreciate.

To honor the day and mark this passage, I offer a toast — to my parents: William Lawrence Uphoff (1914-1991) and Margaret Eileen Murphy Uphoff (1917-2010), shown here on their wedding day in 1942.

Mom_N_Dad_wedding_Not_cropped

Twentieth in a series of month-long posts:
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