31 March 2009

family vacay

When I was a kid, between the ages of 7-18, I always thought that other families' vacations were way better than ours.  As the oldest of seven children, and the daughter of frugal parents, we never bought treats at the gas station, souvenirs at gift shops, or any of the other frivolous little tchotchkes that back then seemed so cool and exotic to me.  Who were these mysterious children (the ones from back East always looked pale and overprotected, the Europeans wore snug little shorts and sandals with socks) whose parents bought them Mickey Mouse ears, or giant snow cones?  I used to wish I was an only child, or at least from a family with only two children, so I could ride in a small tidy car eating verboten foods like twinkies and snickers, instead of a station wagon with the back seat folded down, rolling around with sticky, wind-blown younger siblings, stopping at rest stops to make sandwiches and eat yogurt.

Last week in Arizona, Auntie Brook rented a cabana by the pool at the Hilton Pointe Tapatio resort, which you can do without being a guest there.  Each cabana has a fridge, table, lounge chairs, a pack of cards, cable tv, and heavy drapes you can pull for shade and privacy.  The three pools feature water slides, palm trees, hot tubs, and a zero-depth area for toddlers.  I don't think you're supposed to bring in 8 adults and 20 children per cabana, but that's what we did anyway.  Auntie Brook is from a family of 10, and they have lots of tricks for having fun on a budget.  In comes Lindsay and Whitney with smuggled bags of contraband:  uncrustables, granola bars, grapes, oreos, etc., etc.  I thought I saw the pool attendants looking askance at our cabana before I pulled the curtains to unload the snacks into the mini-fridge, and I made the kids pull the curtains while eating our contraband snacks as well.  I watched the only children or the two children eating 15 dollar salads, nachos and chicken strips and had that feeling again:  these are the real people, paying full price for everything, spending unimaginable loads of cash on meals and activities and shopping.  Easterners in cowboy hats and boots, golf regalia, pale and over protected, while our Mormon clan ran around under supervised, already tan in mid-March, swimming like olympians.  

My therapist has been helping me to discipline my thoughts away from negative thinking, and I checked my thoughts:  look how happy the kids are running around with all of their cousins!  Those nachos don't look good at all.  And those forty-year old women in bikinis sparkling mules with tummy tucks and boob jobs?  Their husbands probably cheat on them.  Okay.  I check my thoughts again.  Disciplining them doesn't include ranking on others.  I love my belly.  It gave me Eva, Ingrid, Lula, Cecily and Moses.  And, now that I'm older, my best memories are of the camping trips we took as a family (and I marvel at my parents, packing seven children, tents, camp stoves, and food for a whole week into and on top of our station wagon.)  My favorite thing was watching my dad, who is an excellent outdoorsman (well, he's excellent at almost everything) put up the tent and then getting his militaristic orders:  police the perimeter and make sure we haven't left any garbage behind, damp the fire, dig a three inch deep trench around the tent.  My brother and I loved this, and all of the facts about the flora and fauna of our camp area he would impart.  

And the thing that I missed out on the most during that narcissistic and depressed time of my life was a strong relationship with my siblings.  I was too absorbed in my own existential spiral to notice what was going on with them.  Now that we're grown, they are the people I treasure most in this world.  When we were fighting as kids, my Mom would always tell us, "Be careful what you say.  Your brothers and sisters are going to be your best friends when you grow up."  She was right.  I have four incredible sisters and two hilarious, cool brothers.  All brilliant, all kind and dependable, all excellent people.  

So, Scottsdale fashion be damned.  I love the matching short and tank top outfits sewn by my mother that we wore and then handed down throughout the late seventies and early eighties, our cool "woody" station wagon, our cooler full of granola and yogurt for the road.

26 March 2009


I need to do a lot of posting of descriptions and pictures of our lovely week in Arizona, but for now I will abbreviate by saying that for me, the best part was bonding with brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, cousins, parents, in-laws, and our new family members, Tony, his daughter Alexa and son Jared, and his family.

Until I get the energy to post a more detailed account, I'll put up the poem I wrote for the wedding and read at the ceremony. It might be more sentimental than what I usually write, but sentiment was running high.

Or maybe I'm just not as good at hiding my sap as I think I am.


for Katherine Anne Candland and Marco Antonio Perez

21 march 2009

In the desert they thirsted: clouds high above the Arizona sky;
they found oasis: a tree, a well, love beneath the Arizona sky.

He strung a thousand lights for her, around saguaro, candles in jars,
a field of shimmer against black night sky--a dove of stars in the Arizona sky.

The house they built stands waiting: Jared, Alexa, Tony, Katie;
four hearts, one home, and four hands hold one brush: paint the Arizona sky.

The wrens build a nest inside cactus, peep out, is it safe?
Return with food for their chicks, babes of the Arizona sky.

After the tree comes desert, but Adam and Eve prepare;
clouds part: pink and gold, mountains rising past the infinity of the Arizona sky.


Just thought I'd stop in.
Got back from Cambridge Sunday night, which was wonderful. Cambridge, and getting back. I really love it here, and am starting to feel like it's my home. I think since I've moved so often I make that adjustment more quickly than most other people, which I'm grateful for. I pulled my first all-nighter of the semester writing a paper on Wordsworth's Prelude, and maybe it was all of his romantic bs or the lack of sleep, but when I watched the sun rise over college walk I got a little teary.
I hope the fam is doing well. I'm so jealous of your tans, tamales, and ... well, I can't think of anything else that starts with t, but the point is I am expecting Mom to Remember what I showed her long ago, or to enlist Dad's help, to post pictures from the trip/wedding for my viewing pleasure.
I forget what you all look like already! And I want to make sure the littles haven't gotten any bigger.
Love you guys!

18 March 2009

arizona slang

Moses and Cecily have come up with some new term whilst in Arizona:

*Chin Strawberries= Strawberries with dimpled chins

*Crabby Patties= McDonald's Hamburgers

Up Next:  Scottsdale resort wear

17 March 2009


Kinda lonely here with all green themed jazz tunes on Kuer. I just removed a couple of black garbage bags of food frozen in mid-rotting stage from our twin deep-freeps that kids turned off. For once I'm grateful we have to take the cans out to the middle of our ocd circle. Now to do something about the moths. I am killing about 30 a day and their numbers seem to be going down.

I'm getting less and less enamored with being in the house by myself. I used to enjoy it for about 3-4 days. Now it's about a day. I really miss Lara and the kids. Reading Lara's posts make me miss them more. Such remarkable writing and such remarkable people.

I had a really fun and interesting time in Seattle last weekend. I played with Jessica Lurie and Greg to Danijel Zezelj's live narrative painting. I even got to bring 4 of the 8 paintings home. Really amazing, white on black panels painted with tiny rollers. We also did a couple of little performances in schools where Danijel did really nice paintings of a long-legged elephant with a ballerina on top holding a parasol. Incredible economy of strokes. Maybe I go to Seattle too much, but it always restores my perspective, musically and artistically. Greg's playing is always surprising, creative, sonically and rhythmically tasty beyond description, and both thoughtful and visceral.

14 March 2009


Today I taught a poetry workshop for the Utah State Poetry Society, and, though I was dreading it just a little bit because I'm crazily trying to get ready for our trip to Arizona tomorrow, single-parenting, and trying to find the last thousand words of an essay I'm writing, and also because I swore off teaching for the year, I loved it.

There were about fifty people there, and probably 45 of them were sept- or octogenerians, and here's the deal:  I think that generation is the best generation living today for several reasons.
First of all, they were around during the depression, and I think this instilled proper, sensible values in them.  They are the last generation who didn't live in ginormous houses or have excessive spending habits.  They seem to value people more than things, with their societies and clubs, luncheons and dances.  They are always gracious and thoughtful, interested in the well-being of others, and really fun to be around in general.  My Grandma Beth is of this generation, and she exemplifies all of these traits.  Secondly, they are people who walked places, didn't have tv's, gardened and preserved, and made their food from scratch. 

BUT, this is also the generation who doesn't seem overly nostalgic, and who seems to appreciate things like antibiotics and the benefits of technology (remember Hinckley?), and progress in general.

I know I'm making huge generalizations, but I realized today how fun teaching is with such a great audience.  When I lived in Oklahoma seven years ago, I was the writer-in-residence at Oklahoma City University and one of my duties was to teach a community outreach workshop at a nearby retirement home.  Same deal there.  I taught a memoir writing workshop there and had the time of my life hearing all the stories and just hanging out, and at the end we had a tea and all wore fancy hats.

Today after the workshop, they took me out to Chuck-a-rama for lunch, and one of the members, a hilarious guy named Bob slipped me a poem he had written at the workshop about me.  Then he said, "I haven't been widely published, but probably 1,000 ladies have poems I've written for them, maybe in their lingerie drawer.  What could be better than that?"  And as we were all saying good-bye, he shook my hand with his two hands and said, "Lara, you're full of words, you're full of vitality, you're full of music, you're full of many things, but one thing you're not full of is yourself."  Then he turned and left, and I was charmed by this little poem that he has probably said upon leaving about a thousand other ladies.

If there was a faculty job that involved only teaching seniors, I'd reconsider my whole anti-teaching thing.  

If you really want to have a great day, spend it with the eighty-plus crowd.  It's enriching and inspiring.  

Do it before it's too late.


I've been thinking about her lately.

My first baby.  We named her Eva, but we called her Sneeva (and Diva or Bereava, as the occasion demanded), and Christian wrote a set of three jazz tunes for her called the Sneeva Suite during her first week of life.  Sneeva was for her little snuffling babyhood.  Diva was for her tiny legs walking at eight months, her little head bolt upright on my shoulder at one week, and her teeny fingers on the keyboard as an infant.  Bereava, well, all babies cry, but I didn't understand when she was a babe the weight she would carry on her shoulders of worry, anxiety and a certain kind of understanding way beyond her years.  So maybe that's what it means.  Or maybe it was just the hour between 10 and 11 pm, every night in our cute little Richmond District railroad flat in San Francisco when she would wail, wail, wail, and then finally droop into sleep.

So now my baby is a big girl off at college in the big city.  I'm awestruck by her.  She is one of the most fascinating people I know, and still wise beyond her years.  I love her sure touch with children, part stern and part tender, that makes them feel so safe.  She's always had that, always loved babies.  When Cecily was a sick newborn, Eva understood how her oxygen, oximeter, and nebulizer worked (she was 12) and was the person other then me or her father that I trusted the most with Cecily.  She seemed like, if Christian and I were suddenly struck dead, she could have easily stepped in and made everything work with aplomb.  

I love how attached she is to her two little nanny charges, and the concerned phone calls I got from her as she worried if they were on track developmentally.  

But that's not all.

This girl can cook up a storm, write a beautiful sonnet, short story, or essay, make these amazingly detailed paper cuts and drawings, play the bass, program "almost anything," teach herself physics and calculus, breeze through symbolic logic, write a stern letter to the sexist Columbia paper, and still retain a great sense of humor and a killer smile.

Sorry to brag, folks, but I just can't help it, so I'm giving in to the urge to splurge wholeheartedly. I'm so proud of my baby, one of my favorite companions, my first born, eva snow.

13 March 2009

family dining


i've been breaking all of my rules.

i bought lettuce wraps at costco for dinner tonight.

for heaven's sake.

it must be spring fever.

and real fever, as i was sick for a week.

i did manage to make over the last several weeks:

*chicken & dumplings

*pork chops with an apple cider-dijon pan sauce

*frozen grapes--my new addiction

*three cheese mac n'

* a really good arugula salad--yay arugula, yay spring!

so, i'm having a block about what to cook lately.  any ideas?

tell me about your menus, pleeeeeez.

xxoo in advance for any inspirations.

11 March 2009

heaven--a dialogue

Cecily:  What does heaven look like?

Mom:  I don't know.

Cecily:  Yes you do.

Mom:  No, I don't.  Nobody does.

Cecily:  (laughing) Yes they do.

Mom:  What do you think it looks like?

Cecily:  It's all yellow and bright.

Mom:  And what else?

Cecily:  With little bumps.  I'm seeing it right now in my brain.

Mom:  What are the people wearing?

Cecily:  Ummm.  Just their dancing clothes.

Mom:  How old are they.

Cecily:  I don't know.  Teenager.

Mom:  What are they standing on?

Cecily:  Their feet.

Mom:  What are their feet standing on?

Cecily:  Air.

Mom:  Are there plants and buildings and animals and mountains?

Cecily:  No, but there's a sky.

Mom:  What are they doing?

Cecily:   Just laying around relaxing.

Mom:  Do they ever get bored of relaxing?

Cecily:  (laughing) No!

buttery eggs

When Lula was a toddler, all she wanted to eat for breakfast were "eggys," so I would soft scramble two eggs in a tablespoon of butter which she would consume in seconds.  What a baby she was!  Cornflower eyes, raspberry lips, apricot curls--all wide-eyed summery perfection--I couldn't walk through the store with her without being stopped by customers wanting to comment on her beauty.  

Not to brag or anything. 

She is now 10 and a half, and has recently been ravenous, and growing out of her clothes and shoes every six weeks, and once again wants her soft scrambled eggs "the way you make them" every morning for breakfast.  

Why is it so flattering when your kids request food the way only you can make it?  Perhaps it is the last hold out, the last bit of control one can wield over one's child.  Even with Ingrid and Eva happily settled far from home at the moment, I still love to hear that they can't wait to come home for family dinner.

05 March 2009

clean air

Hey! The Daily Herald published a hastily written (telling you it was hasty because embarrassed by some awk sentences) letter to the editor I wrote last week. There are some interesting and/or amusing comments in the discussion section.


I've been meaning for years to join Utah Moms for Clean Air.

(If you're from out of state, you might not know that we have major air quality issues here.)

I'll become a mom for clean air eventually.

happy day

One day, approximately four years and nine months ago, I was sitting in a corner booth of the Brick Oven with two of my sisters, Valorie and Katie, and my parents, Wendy and Noel, all visiting from Mesa, Arizona.  I took a bite of my salad and experienced a stunning and surprising revelation.  I took another bite, just to be sure.  Something had changed about my mouth, and not just my mouth, my whole body:  after four pregnancies, the taste test was as reliable as an ept.  I was definitely pregnant.  I think I looked at Val and said, "I might be pregnant,"  even though I knew  I was pregnant.  Later we went to Target and tried on clothes.  "I don't think I should buy anything," I said, "I might be pregnant."  I think Katie and Val thought I just didn't want to buy anything in that size, the one I'd been in denial about for at least a year, so I finally just bought a pregnancy test and went into the Target restroom to pee on it.  But I didn't really need the confirmation.  I was definitely pregnant, and very surprised at that, especially after loading all of my baby stuff into a friend's pick-up truck a few days earlier for a D.I. drop-off.

I was also not, at that time, overjoyed.  My advanced maternal age (37), my already full plate (a sick toddler, a new-born teenager, a kid with ADD and a kid with learning disabilities, our tiny house, my ph.d program, Christian's third year review) compounded with intense nausea and vomiting, depression, and trauma left over from the difficult pregnancy, birth, and first two years of Cecily's life nearly pushed me over the edge.  I remember when things got really bad:  we were in Seattle visiting the Campbells and the England-Asplunds, and I could barely move because the nausea was so overwhelming.  I would spend hours lying on the futon in the Campbell's basement crying, unless I was in their downstairs bathroom barfing (fyi, it's a good bathroom for that--cool, quiet, a really good toilet, sink and bathtub) or on the phone crying to my midwives ("At least you know you have a healthy pregnancy, honey").  The vitamin b-12 and unisom combo that they love to recommend did nothing.  The lavander wand that Jennifer-Georgia gave me worked better, as did therapy with Betsy, Zofran, the anti-nausea drug for chemo patients, and Celexa.  A few months later I was all better, except for the exhaustion, which never left, and which I attributed to "advanced maternal age."

Perhaps it was all of the happy drugs I was taking, or Betsy's insistence that the best thing for my baby would  be my happiness, so I needed to pull myself together emotionally, but when Moses came out, my last baby and my only boy, he was an easy, fantastic, funny, happy lad who brought new life to our home and family.  It is perhaps a weird by-product of my patriarchal up-bringing, but I also harbored the secret thought that now Cecily would have someone to take care of her, a brother to watch out for her.  Perhaps I was thinking of my own brother David, a considerate and watchful brother, not quite two years younger than me, just like Moses and Cecily.  And Cecily's physical vulnerability at the time, which she has pretty much outgrown.

Today, Moses is still sunshine.  Cheerful, chipper, talkative, humourous, curious--I never tire of our lengthy discussions about fire alarms (i.e. what will happen if we pull them and there's no fire?) every single day on the way home from school, or fire extinguishers (what will happen if kids spray the fire extinguisher?  will the fireman be mad?)  or the fire hydrants (can we touch them?)  I'm not sure how he manages to make a half-hour conversation out of that topic every day, but it's always an intriguing window into his adorable, brilliant little mind.  Add that to all the times every day he hugs and kisses me, tells me I'm his best friend, that my cheeks and hair and dress are beautiful, and you've got the perfect little boy.  I'm trying not to create a little prince out of him, but Eva and Ingrid tell me it's too late.

I know the lore says you're not supposed to tell a kid they were an accident lest they feel unwanted, but to me this is a testament to an extra special kid--one who could bring so much joy into the world at such a difficult time for our family.  It's true, he was an "accident,"  though perhaps a karmic one, and definitely an accident of the happy, happy variety.

Happy, Happy boy.

Happy, Happy birthday.

hot chocolate

Here's Cecy's recipe, after William Carlos Williams:

choclit saf

03 March 2009

poem up

i have a new poem up at gloomcupboard.com called "ragged phoebes tremor."  check it out.


Another list, idea from cjane--my March to do list:

*Katie and Tony's wedding in Arizona! She's my twin sister separated by eight years, and finally met her perfect match.

*Start a vegetable garden.

*Make audition vid for Rachel Ray's "So You Think You Can Cook" competition.

*Walk around the block every day.

*Teach Utah Poetry Society workshop in Bountiful.

*Write article for Mormon Artist Group book on wards around the world--I'm writing the Provo chapter.

*Finish dinner book proposal and send out!!!!!

*Cut out second daily diet coke.

*Celebrate Momo, Bammy, and Christian's birthdays.

*Get a hot rock pedicure whilst in Mesa.

*Watch American Idol.

*Fix grade of former student for the second time (I did it last year and it didn't take). This requires going on campus, which requires significant emotional energy, thus its appearance on this list.

*Make a pie for Christian before his birthday (I promised to bake him a bunch of pies for his last birthday, but pies scare me!)

*Eat at Mi Amigos.

*See the desert.

*Practice piano more with Lula (we're in a bad practicing place right now.)

*Do taxes (I mean, get Christian to do them.)

*Attend Cecily's kindergarten program.

*Attend Chinese immersion program meeting for first grade parents.

*Submit poems to two journals a day M-F.

I could go on, but should try to limit it to that.

What are you doing in March?

02 March 2009

i heart

I'm stealing this idea from light refreshments, and wanting to hear what you all heart as well:

I heart:

*ice cream cones
*mystery novels, especially pd james, laurie king, george pellecanos
*super hot baths
*jean valentine's poems
*the new yorker, not their poems usually
*fall and spring
*vinyl records
*emily dickinson
*all shades of red
*green vegetables, especially salads
*eva's curly hair and heart shaped lips
*gertrude stein
*the mountains in provo
*grandma beth
*momo's extra strong hugs
*savory breakfasts
*thomas bernhardt
*jimmy stewart's interviews
*jon stewart
*on the media
*mom's dinner rolls
*williams and sonoma
*the provo farmer's market
*pizzaria 712
*the ladies in book club
*the ladies in my rs
*the ladies in primary
*ingrid's eyes and letters
*heirloom varieties
*clifford farms' eggs
*cecily's laugh and her stories
*the entire west coast
*christian's profile
*the autobiography of red
*michael moore
*archie mcphee's
*bombay house
*lula's angel face and her projects
*blow-outs at the salon
*family dinner
*heritage pork
*michael jackson
*the frick
*the marriage of figaro
*bedtime stories with the kids
*simon schama
*law and order, classic only
*olive oil
*john freida's brilliant brunette shampoo
*the dining room table where i write/the view out the dining room window
*diet coke
*tithing and food storage
*christian's profile and grey temples
*sea creatures

01 March 2009

Cecily Asplund.

Happy birthday! This girl is amazingly smart and feisty, and perhaps the youngest feminist I know. Her insights (especially about pop culture) always make me blink. Happy happy birthday my wonderful and cool sister!