Monthly Archives: October 2013

Fall, falling — O/N it 7

The snow predicted for last night came, but only to the upper elevations. Table Mountain is already well-covered, what looks like its flat surface (but is actually a steep scree slope) lies buried.

Tphotohis view shows how socked in it was this morning to our East; what looks like the silhouetted mountains is actually cloud cover over their tips, and you can’t make out Table’s distinctive shape against the still gray crags of most of the Tetons, as you can when it’s clear.

I loved to see such a vivid condensation trail as well — one of my favorite indicators of the magic of our technological world and that someone, today, is traveling somewhere exciting….

Frankly, I was delighted to wake up to the still-green leftovers of our barely-there lawn.

We had plephoto(1)nty of wind overnight, though: this morning I am encouraged by these leaves on the aspen trees in front of our porch. They are so stubborn to take flight!

They can’t “know” the inevitability of their fate.  The kitty’s bowl is testament to just how litkitty bowl w leavestered our front porch was with them today.

We’ve also had many freezing nights over the last month, evidenced by the fact that we’ve already swapped out Sweeter’s regular bowl for the plug-in one with the heater.  I’m glad I was home today to empty it of its organic matter and refill it for her with fresh water.

She didn’t seem too worried about anything, though.

kitty on boxOn this, what might be our last day of Indian summer (judging by the clouds gathering to the west), our little black cat is perfectly content to sit on her towel and blanket atop her box in the somewhat-warmish sunshine.

“What?” it looks like she’s saying. “Let me enjoy this moment won’t you?”

Yes, I will.

This has always been one of my favorite times of year, and this autumn has been a particularly noteworthy one here in Teton Valley.  In what can be one of the  most divisive places (it seems) on earth, the local population joins together to appreciate the beauty of the colors, the absolutely brilliant days, and just how many of them we’ve had.

Peter and I went for a good long walk out in the fields to the east of our house yesterday afternoon — a great way to cap this about-to-end season.

I see on the national weather that my cousins in Kansas could be having trouble in the shape of tornadoes today.

Whatever conditions you find yourself in, on this final Monday in October in Monday, take good care.


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Making the case, brilliantly — O/N it 6

As a kid, on hot summer days I loved taking my bike down the hill behind our house to the little library tucked on one side of Cole Shopping Center. I had some sort of carrier for the books I’d check out; although I don’t remember its shape or color, a clear muscle memory remains, of carefully stacking my treasures so they’d all fit inside for the ride home. I’d be back in just a few days to find something new to absorb my long afternoons and open my world, far away from our house on Foxcroft Road.

It wasn’t long, however, before I started acquiring my own collection of books. A school vendor, Scholastic I think, offered some kind of deal where purchasing books from them would earn points that could be “spent” on free books. Just my kind of thing! That was the beginning of my own personal and lifelong desire to not just read books but to acquire them myself.

More nonfiction on the main floor, and my reading chair, where I also knit, watch TV, and occasionally do artwork.

Nonfiction and reference books on the main floor, and my reading chair, where I also knit, watch TV, and occasionally do artwork.

Luckily I found, fell in love with, and married someone who, as a young boy in Worland, Wyoming, devoured every Hardy Boys mystery (and much more) in *his* local library.

Our mutual appreciation of words eventually led to our bookstore business. More importantly, it is a hallmark of our relationship and indeed, our lives together.

So we have our very own library.  It sits 20 feet away from where I write this, one of the many additions to our original log cabin, on the flats north of Driggs, in an alfalfa field with a beautiful view of the Tetons.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by books.  But I’m often on the quest for something that’s not yet on our shelves.

In the last ten days, even in my small rural area, I’ve visited (and checked out books from) three public libraries. These institutions are in two states — Jackson and Alta in Wyoming, and Victor, Idaho, a mile from Rusty’s house. Speaking of miles, my cross-border literary consumption covers about 550 of them;  I just received a book via Wyoming’s inter-library loan system (from Laramie) of a title strongly recommended by a avid-reader friend (author Cort Conley, director of literature for the Idaho Commission on the Arts) in Boise.

My good friend Eva Dahlgren — former longtime Dark Horse employee who has been a fulltime librarian for something like eight years now — told me this week about a piece by author Neil Gaiman. The essay’s all about libraries and the importance of reading for kids, and adults, even in this techno age (here’s the link to it).

Wow, struck such a responsive chord in me! In seconds, it took me back to those childhood bike rides in Cheyenne.

The title pretty much says it all: Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming.

If  you don’t get the point from that, the subtitle goes even farther:  A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens.

We have three shelves like this one along both the north and south walls of the mezzanine. This is our collection of travel books of all types.

We have three shelves like this one along both the north and south walls of the mezzanine. This is our collection of travel books of all types.

Just one of the quotes she called to my attention:  According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. That’s about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need. Libraries are places that people go to for information.

If that blip doesn’t make you want to read Gaiman’s whole essay — it takes ten minutes, max — here’s one that jumped off the page to me (and maybe explains, better than I ever could, why I still love to read a great novel): Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

The center section, fiction, on the west wall of the mezzanine. Peter built this giant shelving unit while I was traveling in Asia seven years ago.

The center section, fiction, on the west wall of the mezzanine. Peter built this giant shelving unit while I was traveling in Asia seven years ago.

That’s the bottom line for me.

I know that reading has made me better, made me different.

May today you encourage a child to read, pick up a book to inspire yourself, or maybe sit down to write a few lines of your own.


These three photos, for those who have wondered what our library looks like, provide some views of it. Trust me, it’s oh so much better in person!  And when we’re gone from this world, I’m guessing our books will end up — where else — in a library.


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Honoring Emory O/N it 5

My dear father-in-law, Emory J. Anderson, would have turned 89 a couple days ago, and I couldn’t let his birthday go unnoticed.

Emory_at_the_tillerDecided to share a favorite photo of him — at the tiller of some sailboat, of course. From the type of wheel and instrument configuration, this vessel is NOT Crystalship (the Cal-43 we owned and lived on in Seattle in the late ’80s), but Em loved that particular time of our lives and we shared some lovely times on the water in the Pacific Northwest.

He’s certainly in his element in this picture: without doubt, this is the epitome of an updated version of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, isn’t it?

As a very young man, he served in the Merchant Marines, right at the end of World War II, and passed on his affection for all things boat-y to Peter.

We also shared a love of words, a passion for history, and a good dose of wanderlust.

On land or on the sea, I know he cared, deeply, about just every living creature that ever came his way — not just Rusty or his sons, his true treasures, but also those of us who joined the family in one way or another. Even the four-legged types, rabbits, dogs, kitties, even a sheep and a cow (and these last two were in suburban Ohio!)  After 30-plus years as an Anderson, I still love hearing the family stories about the critters they adopted over the years.

Steadfast and stalwart, that’s how I remember Emory best. His wry grin was often hidden in whiskers, but I think often of how he always contributed to any conversation with his curiosity and vast life experience.

Em was a dear soul, and holds a special place in my heart. I hope he’s at peace, enjoying his cruise through heaven — and maybe even a slice of birthday cake.

FYI: I have other terrific photos of Emory, from our wedding, on a beach digging clams, and in Victor, in three “Oldies but Goodies” albums on my Facebook page.

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Yet another book list O/N it 4

map of the most famous books set in each state croppedBlaire Kribs, a bookstore customer friend who’s moved from Teton Valley, posted this on FB this week, and although I already shared it there, I think it’s worth a few more comments. After all, talking about books has always been a joy and one of my best ways to connect to others….!

The map and the accompanying list show “the most famous book set in each state,” (or at least in one person’s opinion) published by Business Insider.

What I find most interesting is the depth of literature written across the country’s history pulled together in this one list. It includes short books, epic tomes, stuff for kids, stuff for young adults, nonfiction, classics, fairly new titles, scary ones, tame ones — well, you get the idea. They run the gamut of tastes, subjects, length and genre.

Choose two randomly and you might be surprised at what turns up. Consider these pairings…..Twilight and Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Into Thin Air and My Antonia; Little House in the Big Woods and The Laramie Project; The Shining and The Jungle. Wow.

Some would certainly argue with the book selection state by state — even several of my local well-read friends were surprised to see Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson as the book chosen for Idaho. (She’s much better known for Gilead, which won the Pulitzer — but it wasn’t set here.)

But to me using a list like this is just a starting point, a little like standing in front of the racks at a bookstore or library and hunting up something new. The first one (or what was recommended) might not be your choice, but spend just a little more time and you’ll find just the right thing.

Haven’t read them all of course, but this collection *does* include some of my all-time favorites. Reading over this list inspires me to REREAD several — and to search out those I’m unfamiliar with. Not today, though; it’s too beautiful a day to spend buried in a book, and I have many other things to accomplish today. But winter’s coming, and there’s not much better than a good book by the woodstove. it’s always terrific to have something new to look forward to, isn’t it?

Happy reading!

PS. Here’s the list only, for those who don’t want to use the link.

list only of the most famous books set in each state cropped


Filed under Journeys..., My Weekly Reader, O/N it, other finds, Scrapbook

More than paint: O/N it 3

From my very first days as a journalist, when I used to write the “St. Mary’s Report” for the high school page of the Wyoming Tribune (or was it the Eagle?), right through my days on Wingspan at Laramie County Community College, decades later at the Teton Valley News, in all the Powder Mountain Press publications, on the op-ed page of the Idaho Falls Post Register and as a guest columnist for the Valley Citizen,  I always thought it was just a little bit fun to see my “byline.”

It’s an ego thing, I know. But there’s something about writing something, putting it out there for people to read, and then rereading it yourself and saying YES, this is good work, recognizing that the words you’ve crafted together actually say what I want to say and in the way I wanted to say it….

I’m sure architects feel something of the same rush when a building they’ve designed is finally bricks and mortar and people are actually walking in and out of the doors — I’m sure theirs is a much bigger rush!

Oh well. it’s ll about scale and satisfaction.

I don’t see my byline in print as much as I once did, but it seems just as fun in cyberspace, especially when it’s NOT here on my blog.

Right now I especially like writing for my friends at CityPASS, the Victor company that offers combined prices for admissions to must-see attractions in about a dozen cities. Here’s a sample, a look at Philadelphia’s Murals, which was just posted on the CityPASS CityTraveler blog yesterday.

This photo is  somShelter_Mural_detaile of the cute-critter detail of the “Gimme Shelter” mural. You can almost hear that dog barking, can’t you?!

It’s just one of the many pix I have of these Philly treasures. It was tough to chose which of them to send to CityPASS. It’s never a bad thing to have more images than fewer, as selecting just the right ones becomes part of the communication challenge, a step on the journey.

Here’s to a great Sunday, whoever’s bylines you might be reading, whatever pet you might be caring for, and wherever your feet may wander today.

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Who cares? O/N it 2

Two perspectives, both about the crazy impact of social media in our lives, came to my attention this week. Both came to me via Facebook.

The first was from author Lance Olsen of Salt Lake City; Lance was Idaho’s Writer-in-Residence and came to Dark Horse Books way back when we were still on the eastern side of Main Street (i.e., 1996 or 1997):

  • :::: there’s SO much not right about Facebook’s structure & crypto-corporate ideology, but one of the things that’s SO gladdening is its daily ritual of the birthday-greeting exchange, an invitation to reach out & say, yep, we’re all still present, still moving forward, still part of various vibrant tribes: if not that, then what, you know?

The second is this post, “7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook,” a scathing look at people’s motivations for different kinds of status messages.

Thus I have been thinking a lot about why I write and what I write after reading the Wait but Why piece and taking it to heart. I started examining the benefits of the posts the blogger takes to task.

I hope what I post isn’t annoying to others; if it is, I hope they do what I do and JUST DON’T READ IT.

I must say I’m way more partial to Lance’s interpretation and it came at a timely moment. Relating to him, if not for Facebook, how else would we connect?  Sure, he’s only five hours away but FB brings him right back to Driggs in an instant.  And how could I have followed his year of teaching in Berlin and his trip to South Africa?

Beyond the experiences of vicarious travel (as Lance is certainly not the only adventurer I follow on FB), I found many more reasons for me to continue using this odd-ball method of staying in touch.

I love seeing photos of my friends and their kids, even those from our next door neighbors. It’s like having these families pop into the bookstore and give me a chance to complement them on a new haircut or to see their offspring’s latest missing tooth or to buy Girl Scout cookies or whatever.   And I’m of the age when nearly everyone has grandkids — so fun to share! And no toys to buy at Christmas!

I agree about depressing posts, and “what a good banana” types of things. Not for me! But for the wonderful cooks I know — well, please keep on sending that terrific recipe for kale soup and tips on how to grill a perfect fresh-venison steak and where to find that oh-so-special ingredient.

Fellow booklovers: I love to see what you’re reading at the moment (one of the things I miss most from our Dark Horse days.)

I know I use FB to learn stuff. Maybe it’s not rocket science, but so what?

Inspirational posts: well, honestly, I just eat those up. Sometimes I share them right away; other times, I store them away for when they’re needed to provide a bit of light to a dark day. As far as I’m concerned, they are something to save and to savor, the same way I would clip a New Yorker cartoon or write down a quote that someone mentioned at the bookstore or copy something funny I saw in a bar.

I also like that quotes come from such a wide assortment of people and sources. So for all those who share bits of enlightenment, from (uber-athlete) Lisa Smith-Batchen to (retired teacher) Janet Cain to (cousins) Kevin Kiger (in California) and Cathy Raymond (in Kansas) and everyone else, too — well, all I can say is THANK YOU.

Lastly, the essay’s comment that only a small percentage of people who are your Facebook friends “love you….” well, that just may be the case. But that’s the case whether you use social media or not.

It really is about personality. People are different, and some folks take to this “chatter” and some don’t. And it’s likely similar to how we are in person.  At the grocery store, I want to spend time and visit with folks I haven’t seen for a long time, which can turn the expedition into a lengthy affair.  Peter — not so much. He loves markets and menu planning and the whole process of preparing and sharing meals, period. (That doesn’t mean he’s unfriendly, he just does his catching up in a different way.)

Does this sound defensive? Certainly not my intention.

I must admit: I *am* a person interested in connecting with the people who have so greatly enriched my life. I’m the one who’s blessed by them!

For me, it’s about balance; I’m the only one who knows what that scale should say for myself. I take that hard close look more often than some folks, perhaps.

At the moment, though, I won’t be swearing off FB too soon. In fact, time to post this! So I’ll finish with, as Jon Stewart would say, “today’s moment of zen….”


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Oct-Nov — “O/N it” 1

I have no single particular overall theme in mind for the blog post series I begin here — but recently I have been bothered by how quickly time flies, and how elusive it is to capture the brilliant moments of life. So that’s my goal, to share one “something” that’s completely relevant at the moment. Some of my more perceptive readers might catch on that that’s what I *always* try to do in these eclectic essays….

Today it centers on the numbers, and the symmetry that surrounds us if we only see it.

* The series will run for the next five weeks. Why? We leave on another trip about then, and it’s been almost five weeks since my last blog post — the former exciting, the latter not so. (Haven’t I had anything to say since early September? In a word: YES — so better get “on it!”)

* I’m shooting for 20 posts in the series.  This seems entirely reachable, an average of four per week.  Setting the target to write daily always strikes Peter as a “homework assignment,” and my intended-to-be-daily series tend to dribble off at the end.

* Eva Dahlgren is a special friend who never fails to inspire me — she and husband Dan have recently remodeled their house and wow, does it look great! Plus she’s heading back to grad school in a few months (at the same time as juggling full-time work and a busy household that also includes two kids, three dogs, and a cat.)  I admire her courage and willingness to jump into the unknown future. The timing doesn’t work for either Eva or I to lead the Young Writers After-School program this year, though. Recalling last November’s intense crunch with the kids during “National Novel Writing Month,”  it feels absolutely right to recommit to my own writing; this blog is just one part of it.

* We watched the Teton High School Homecoming parade standing on Eva’s front lawn on Friday morning. An “aha moment” of historical perspective as I saw the flatbed truck marked “Class of 2014” drive by: I was part of the Class of ’74 (forty years ago!), and if my mother had attended high school, she would have been part of the Class of ’34, forty years prior to that. Just think how much change the world has seen in just our two generations!

* Thus another bit of symmetry: I’m nearly exactly the same age that my mother was when she met our Up With People cast in San Sebastian, Spain in September 1973 — a memorable visit, for sure. One of the things I distinctly remember is turning to Cast Director Ken Ashby, who had driven me to the airport to pick her up, and saying “Oh my gosh, she has way more wrinkles than I remember.” A teenager’s comment, embarrassing in its bluntness even then. And humbling to recall: when I look in the mirror now, I see so many of her characteristics in my own face.  I now know how well-earned was every single one of those wrinkles!

* We have no fewer than a dozen books to read and refer to about our next destination and I’m doing the “sponge thing” to absorb as much as I can. Sometimes what sticks out isn’t sightseeing advice or a tidbit about history, but instead a line is applicable to other parts of life. So, these  two quotes, gleaned from some weekend perusing, bear repeating here:

  • “Failure was so often better than success: there was so much more to be learnt from it.” (~ Peter Stothard, referring to Roman historian Symmachus, in Spartacus Road)
  • “Great travelers always enjoy gazing upon rivers.” (~ Bruno Racine, in Living in Rome, regarding a couple with homes on both the Tiber and the Seine).

You may have figured it out — Trastavere, here we come!

*Lastly, we picked up a box of peppermint tea on Saturday at the grocery, and the box had an “inspirational commemorative tin” inside. On the back was this bit of wisdom:inspiration_moments_when


Hmmm. Golly, this seems to be one of these times for me.  I’m looking for work, and what an exercise it is to compress one’s life into a single-page resume, sorta like the history one carries on one’s face.  While I face the daunting task of finding a job, feeling concern about aging but yet as excited about the challenges of life and the opportunities of travel as ever I was when younger…. well, I might as well start a new blog series.

Have a great week, everyone!

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