Writing My Life

Now and Then

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Memoirs: Writing My “Boring” Life

You are BoringTwo of my brilliant writing friends, Ann Cannon and Louise Plummer, co-authored the book You Are Boring, but You Are Uniquely Boring: 21 Models for Writing your MemoirBecause I like and admire these two, and because I appreciate their approach to memoir writing, I plan to use their models to embark upon exposing my life via these models. The following is a table of contents for the topics I am covering in no particular order.


  • Chapter 1: A Most Recent Turning Point
  • Chapter 2: What Do I Believe and Why? (Under construction)

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Week 3 of G.E.’s Retirement

UNbeLIEVable! I have NEVER gone so long without posting! What happened to the summer? What happened to me? Summer flew by and I apparently flew the coop! And I have SO many happenings to share with those who drop by this site to see what’s up with RBS.

I need to describe  some great and some not-so-great occasions that occurred over the last 3 months, but right now, I think I’ll just let you know the biggest change in the lives of G.E. and me has happened. My husband of 43 years turned 65 on the last day of August – the very day he retired from his job. This is HUGE, I tell you. ALL kinds of implications here. But he is EXcitED, and so am I – even though I am still punching the clock for at least another year, and maybe longer.

When asked, “What’re you going to do?”, his answer is “Whatever I want!” Isn’t that cool?

NO MORE Suits and Ties!

Yesterday we celebrated G.E.’s retirement with most of our family at my favorite Wines Park in Lehi – it has LOTS of big, shady trees. Ahhh. Anyway, between eating and visiting, volleyball and lawn darts, swings and slides, I shared my husband’s work history. I had been thinking about it a lot, AND I realized there were lessons to be learned. So here it is – more or less.

  • 9 Years-Old: Fuller Brush PRE-salesman. Went door to door with is his older sister giving away Fuller Brush gifts – like potato scrubbers – in an attempt to line up appointments for his dad.
  • 11: Corn-Thinner on LDS Church Welfare Farm in Elberta. Now that was a blast! NOT!
  • 11 or 12: Sweeper at Fisher Drugstore. Job expanded from sweeping out a neighborhood drug store to caring for the owner’s yard
  • 14: Golf course grounds keeper at Willow Creek Golf Course. G.E. also claimed the maintenance shed for his home at one time when he ran away for a couple of days!
  • 15-going-on-16: Builder. Spent a summer building the Scout Camp up at Bear Lake. Woke up to rattle snakes, had to kill one, and so he skinned it and mounted the epidermis on a wooden plaque we had for years! Also, worked without a shirt next to the lake and suffered a 3rd degree SUN BURN. G.E. still has remains of that summer scarred on his left arm. Crazy kid!
  • 16: Bag-boy the new Albertson’s Grocer Store only to be laid off after the grand opening. Management kept his buddy Jim, but “pink-slipped” G.E. (That still ticks him off.)
  • 16-19: Part-time ware-houseman.  Unloaded boxcars where he froze in the winters and sweltered in the summers. Pretty good pay for a teenager during the 60s but it was hard and dirty work. Eventually became an order-picker, a step above unloading boxcars. Greatly disliked this job and swore NEVER to work there again.
  • 17: Horse-breaker. After being kicked out of the LDS Seminary (classes of religious study for secondary school students), his teacher agreed to pass him if he and his trouble-making buddy would help break his Appaloosa horses. Now THAT was fun!
  • 19-21: LDS missionary. Worked for the Lord in Virginia and North Carolina.
  • 21-22: Ware-houseman again. Back to the warehouse while attending college and providing for me, his new wife!
  • 22: Parts Manager at Telemation, a job that only lasted during the summer of 1969 because G.E. was DRAFTED! To reduce the chances of being sent to Vietnam, G.E. enlisted so he’d have a few more choices.
  • 22-24: Soldier – worked for Uncle Sam in the U.S. Army in Frankfurt, Germany. The gamble paid off. We felt so fortunate in being sent to Europe vs. Vietnam!
  • 22-23: Weapons-Cleaner. While serving as supply sergeant, G.E. cleaned M14s and M16s for GIs who didn’t want to care for their own weapons. For $4 a month from each participating soldier, he kept them “inspection-ready” – guaranteed!
  • 24:  Ware-houseman. Back again to supplement our income from G.I. Bill because now there was a wife AND baby to support.
  • 25-29: Army Reservist and member of the ROTC – Yep, G.E. decided to join the ROTC as a back-up plan in case he couldn’t find a job after graduation, but he was assigned a position in artillery; so said, “No thanks,” and resigned. Which he could do because he’d already served his time.
  • 25: Data Miner. The firm with no name. We can’t remember the company.. One day I called him at work to ask him something and was told my husband no longer worked there! He was laid off but didn’t want to tell me because I was expecting number 2, and he didn’t want to worry me. Guess where he found a job ….
  • 26-28: Ware-houseman. See a pattern here?
  • 28-29: Manager at Minit Mart, a  gas station and little grocery store owned by my cousin.
  • 29-31: Assistant, assistant, assistant manager-in-training. Recruited out of college for the management program at Sav-on Drug store which meant a move to San Jose, CA. LONG, LONG hours and LITTLE pay. Started at $11,000. And baby #3 was en-route.
  • 31-32: Area manager at Imperial Valet. Oversaw the maintenance of Mervyn’s Department Stores throughout northern California. A difficult job because if the cleaning crews didn’t show up in the middle of the night, G.E. had to find out why, arrange substitutes OR go clean the store himself!!!!
  • 32-42: General foreman, supervisor, trainer at National Semi-Conductor in CA and UT: Best job he’d had up until then. Opportunity to grow and eventually provided the experience in management that he needed to progress.
  • 42-46: Lawn caretaker, custodian at A&K Railroad, Yellow Pages deliveryman. WHAT HAPPENED? Laid off from National, and while looking for a job, G.E. started his own lawn service company and worked at any other job he could find. Our growing boys helped him, and also helped me. I had returned to college, and G.E. didn’t want me to quit. I applied for every grant, scholarship, and loan I could find and he and my sons helped me graduate! I still cry when I think about it. I LOVE YOU GUYS!
  • 42-44: Human Resource Manager and  then Sr. VP of Benefits at First Security Bank. After four and a half months, G.E. found this position. Grateful for the work, we had to stretch an income that was just over a third of what he’d been earning at National Semi-Conductor. So he and the boys kept up the lawn jobs, and I kept going to school.
  • 44-46: Human Resource Manager at RC Willey Furniture Store. Wells Fargo was in the process of taking over First Security, and G.E. was unemployed again until he was able to hire on at the largest chain of furniture stores in Utah.
  • 46-47: HR Manager at Health Rider. Seeing little future at RCW, G.E. took a chance and joined a new and upcoming company. Not a great decision. He was laid off once more when the “growing” company sold out to a “grown” company.
  • 47-65: HR Manager, HR Director, Business Analyst at LDS Church. The best career G.E. ever had. Even though this experience centered on the secular side of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he still felt a part of something important in helping the kingdom grow. His work in Human Resources enabled him to help others in a multitude of ways. He had opportunities to rub shoulders with so many fine men and women, to travel and work in areas of the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean. It was a tremendous blessing in our lives.

Reflecting upon my husband’s work history helped me appreciate him even more than I already do. I always realized that he would do whatever needed to take care of his family. We had decided that I would work at being a stay-at-home mom, especially when the boys were young. No matter how rough it was,  my sweet husband never pressured me to abandon that decision.

I remember when G.E. was out of work, a neighbor invited him to leave his lawn care service and janitorial work to sell Amway. When G.E. turned him down, the man was flabbergasted, and he said he would never do manual work like my husband did. It’s not that G.E. had anything against selling Amway, he just knew we needed the income that moment, and we couldn’t wait for him to build a clientele or depend upon the uncertainty of commissions.

At one point we realized that a lay-off was in National Semi-conductor’s future that would affect us. The boys were older and reaching mission and college ages. We knew it was time for me to finish my education so that I could help with these heavy expenses as a school teacher. I will forever appreciate the sacrifice he and our sons made to not only keep food on the table but to keep Mom in school. I love you, Gary Eugene. And I always will. 


Writing for Tweeners – another contest entry

I can’t remember which “Project Writeway” entry this was, but contest sponsors required that we write a 400-word snippet aimed for Middle Grade readers. The Middle Grade audience ranges  from 10 to 13 years-old or thereabout.  Brandon Mull’s FABLEHAVEN series,  for instance, serve as examples of books that resonate with this age group. 

The important factor for this phase of the contest was to sound like a kid – NOT an adult! That’s a huge key to success for appealing to “tweeners.” So, did I pull it off? 

Wilson  Spaulding

“What the crap?” I didn’t think I said that out loud, but I did, and my teacher sent me her worst crusty. That’s bad because her regular face would scare Darth Sidious.

“I said that you, Wilson Spaulding, will represent our class in the basketball sixth-grade shoot-out.”

“Are you kiddin’ me?” I almost screamed my piss-off. She walked – no, she charged at me like a rogue droid bent on destruction. I wanted to get the heck out of there. (I would say “hell,” but Mom might read this.) Instead, I crossed my arms, squinted my eyes, and stuck out my chin like looks could really kill – or at least stop – Mrs. Hutt, wife of Jabba.

The menace grabbed my T-shirt sleeve and dragged me to the hall. I thought of warning her about student abuse or becoming Bantha fodder, but the Force forced me to shut my mouth.

“Now listen here,” she said as she stood me against the lockers. “You will not act out in this class!”

“Your mind tricks will not work on me.”

Mrs. Hutt sighed, more ticked off than ever. Her breath – a coffee-cigarette combo – grossed me out, and I waved my hand like a fan to keep me from passing out.

She didn’t think it was funny. Instead she pushed me towards the gym where I saw London Beitia talking to the other sixth-grade teacher. (And  I didn’t think things could get freakin’ worse.)

I was going to lose to a girl. No argument there. London was a really awesome basketball player.

I was going to lose to the cutest and tallest girl in the whole school. There she was looking better than Princess Leia ever could in a pink basket ball jersey,  shorts, and sparkly basketball shoes!

I just stood there – all five-foot-two of me – wearing my favorite and holey Darth Maul t-shirt and Tough-skin jeans that stopped before they got to my ankles.

Obi-wan, where are you when I need you?

I barely heard the principal tell us that the game was HORSE before he flipped a coin to see who would go first. London called “heads,” but the quarter landed on “tails.”

This is good. Going for the impossible, I turned my back to the basket, threw up the ball … and heard a SWISH! Cheers erupted from the Ewoks who  filled the gym, and London flashed a big smile.


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… may be LOW-TECH, but homemade Mother’s Day cards are still the best … revisiting a 2011 post

Life being what it is, I decided to repost an entry from a year ago. I’ve also added a comment I entered on FaceBook this morning because I know many moms and non-moms don’t like this day that has been set aside for women. P.S. I revised a couple of phrases from the original FB post.

About Mother’s Day! I decided a LONG time ago that I’ll opt for being loved throughout the year rather than counting on ONE day of spoiling to make up for whatever I think I was short-changed. In other words, if I don’t get breakfast in bed or dawn to dusk attention, I’m just  fine. I am fortunate because I have a great family who loves me – warts and all – 365 days a year. And I love my darling mother 365 days a year! Have a great Mother’s Day – whatever it brings. Love to ALL WOMEN!

2011 ~ This past week I received an email from JibJab – the site where you grab some photos and lop off the heads of friends and family and stick them on the site’s videos or postcards for a hilarious effect. JibJab has all kinds of funny options customers could send their moms, and I will probably send one to my mom.

However, I couldn’t help but think about cards I used to make for her. Here are a couple I created for Mom in 1956 and 1957 or ’58. You will notice the “clip art” is either non-existent or lacking and Spellcheck failed to correct a few words, but the sentiments – strange as they might be came from my 7 and 8 year-old-heart.  Well, maybe I “copied and pasted” one or two lines for the first poem.

Connie and I probably created this poem in 1958 when I was in third grade. I was still writing “r’s” like Mrs. Quidor and the Palmer method taught me.

I went to a little more effort to create this card when I was in 4th grade in 1959. The front of the card is on the left and the inside verse is on the right. I even included a little Hallmark logo on the back to make it official! After all, didn’t card companies create Mother’s Day? (By the way, neither of these creations were school assignments!)

Because of the drawing, complete with halo AND horns, as well as the guilt-ridden verse, I have to guess that I must have gotten into some big trouble a day or two before Mother’s Day!

My mother NEVER hurt my EAR, but hey, it rhymed with DEAR!

Notice the “horns” on the anGLE’s head holding up her halo. Interesting.


… revise, Revise, REVISE …

Revision in Living Color! Foto by Flickr.com

Before posting the next “also ran,” I want to show you how I edited the opening paragraph of my earlier effort, as recommended by Ms. Alice, my blogging, writing friend. She said,

The way it begins, I assumed it was Cookie’s story, but then it switched to Azalea’s inner thoughts. Would a slight adjustment of the beginning make a difference, so that we know immediately this is Cookie’s story?

The original draft reads –

Cookie decided she better answer him even though the history teacher looked past her to me. My friend’s voice skipped an octave. “Uh, because women didn’t have the same opportunities to explore the world?”

“Possibly, Miss Abbott,” Mr. Theobold said, and then he turned and planted his size fifteen wingtips close to my desk. “Can you add any insights, Azalea Jones?”

I flinched when a bit of spittle squirted from his mouth to my forehead. Glaring at this pathetic excuse for an educator, I pulled a Kleenex from my backpack, blotted away the saliva, and then jammed the tissue into my pocket.

“No, not really, Mr. Theobold. But I’m pretty sure I know what mighty revelation you’re ready to share, thus confounding the simplicity of our feminine minds.”

Here’s the revision:

Mr. Theobold planted his size fifteen wingtips within inches of my desk and his bloodshot eyes burrowed into mine, but  his question was directed to my friend Cookie, not me.

I listened to her shaky voice attempt to answer, “Uh, because women didn’t have the same opportunities to explore the world?” 

The obnoxious teacher didn’t turn away from the stare-down. “Possibly, Cookie Abbott. Can you add any insights, Azalea Jones.”   (Theobold always called us by our first and last names, as if the class was filled with numerous “Cookies” and “Azaleas.” Behind his back, we called him Mr. TheoBALD.)

I flinched as a bit of spittle squirted from his mouth to my forehead. “No, not really, Mr. Theobold. But I’m pretty sure you’re ready to share a mighty revelation that will confound the simplicity of our feminine minds.” 

Then I pulled a Kleenex I had jammed into my backpack to wipe away all traces of his DNA. 

Now for the question: Whose story is this?

a. Cookie Abbott’s

b. Azalea Jones’

c. None of the above

“Anyone? Anyone?” 


Second in a Series of My Losing Entries

As promised, I am continuing my continued ongoing attempt to humble myself before my reading public – Alice and a few others – by publishing the entries that were relegated to the “thanks-but-no-thanks” bin. Because of the amount of work that goes into most any kind of writing, I wanted this little piece to enjoy being read by a few more folks. 

The rules were these: 

  • 200 words
  • must use the following words: bulldozer, plant, jam, simplicity, and cookie
  • somebody must get slapped

Got it? Just in case, the required words and action are in boldface. =) 


Cookie decided she better answer him even though the history teacher looked past her to me. My friend’s voice skipped an octave. “Uh, because women didn’t have the same opportunities to explore the world?”

“Possibly, Miss Abbott,” Mr. Theobold said, and then he turned and planted his size fifteen wingtips close to my desk. “Can you add any insights, Azalea Jones?”

I flinched when a bit of spittle squirted from his mouth to my forehead. Glaring at this pathetic excuse for an educator, I pulled a Kleenex from my backpack, blotted away the saliva, and then jammed the tissue into my pocket.

“No, not really, Mr. Theobold. But I’m pretty sure I know what mighty revelation you’re ready to share, thus confounding the simplicity of our feminine minds.” Dad always likened me to a bulldozer when backed into a corner, and now I wanted to level this jerk.

The smirk warped into a grimace and his voice smoldered. “What do you think of that, class? Miss Jones reads minds. Do you know what folks called women who demonstrated such skills hundreds of years ago?”

“Intuitive. But I bet you were going to say ‘witches,’ right?”

That’s when he slapped me. 


I’m B-a-a-a-a-a-a-c-k! Sort of …

I cannot believe I have gone so long without checking in. I have either been super busy or super tired, but I am repenting. I have so many topics I want to post – here are just a few:

  1. 5 more loser writing contest entries
  2. Birth stories – highlights from bringing 4 great sons into this world
  3. Tribute to G.E. – a man who knows how to show appreciation
  4. Part 2 of my Grandma’s story – part 1 was posted MONTHS ago
  5. Tonz of adorable grandchildren pix WITH captions

That will do for now. I realize posting this list is not all that exciting for readers, but hopefully, it will serve as a BIG reminder to me. Let’s see if it works! =)

Photo compliments of some AWESOME contributor to Flickr.com.


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“Also Ran:” My First Submission to Project WRITEway

Remember I told you about the creative writing contest the folks at Throwing Up Words sponsored? And remember that I told you I would share my losing efforts – even though I don’t really think I am a loser because I keep entering and losing and stuff. And I think as long as a person keeps trying, she isn’t losing  because no one has yet yelled, “STOP TRYING!” Until that happens, I’m in the running.

Anyhoo, as my friend Ann Cannon is fond of saying, here is that promised entry: 150 words that begin my untitled, Young Adult novel. Helpful feedback is always appreciated. It needs to be kind, but most importantly, HONEST.

Like many disasters in  life, the events started innocently enough. Conservative, if not traditional.

It’s hard to say who or what set things in motion, and I don’t know if that’s important anymore. Could be. All I care about is seeing an end before more women and girls disappear.

In the beginning, even Mom supported the public education “revolution” – separate schools for girls and boys. She constantly quoted research that test scores soar when the sexes don’t worry about meeting each other in front of lockers or making out in stairwells during lunch.

I hated the new “separate-but-equal” idea because I wanted to meet a guy at my locker and make-out during lunch. I know my arguments were hormone-based, but in my darkest imaginings of how this change would affect my schooling and my life, I did not fathom the proverbial “worst-case-scenario:” I would be fighting for survival.

Cool photo by D. Clow from Flickr.com

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My UNsuccessful Experiences with the “Project WRITEway” Contest

Check it out! That's ME holding a copy of my future novel! The antennae help me channel my muse! 😉

In January some great Utah authors who host a blog – “Throwing Up Words” created a contest for wannabe writers like me. Inspired by “Project RUNway,” the rules for “Project WRITEway” are similar.

The first week everyone submitted the prescribed entries: A 150-word “first-page” of an original novel contestants were writing or wanted to write. Participants and other blog-readers voted for their top 6. Based upon popular vote AND judges’ evaluations, the 60+ entries were whittled down to 14. The “also-rans” were encouraged to continue writing and submitting their work from the “play-at-home” (PAH) venue.

Weekly challenges are open to both groups, and finalists who are eliminated from that group move in with the PAH peeps. Our group is swelling while the other is diminishing, but we folks still qualify for weekly drawings. AND there will also be one “play-at-homer” who wins a “big prize” – which I think is a writing critique from a literary agent. (I’m not really sure, and because that honor will likely go to the last finalist booted to our corner, I don’t think I’m in the running.)

BUT THAT IS OKAY because I AM HAVING FUN! Seriously! AND this is great practice.

Sooooooooo, with that LONG introduction, I want you to know I am posting my LOSING entries for the heck of it. And because these babies are already written, they will be quick posts!

Stay tuned! (Bet you’re holding your breath in great anticipation!)


Academy Awards: A Reflection or Two or Three or ….

Don’t know why, but I decided to watch the Grand-daddy of all award shows from beginning to end. Not an easy task because watching an award show with husband G.E. is like surviving a cross-country road trip with a 5-year-old: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Sheesh. Couldn’t wait for him to fall asleep! Which he did just before the best picture presentation.

I thought about tweeting my observations and even got started with some very snappy repartee when my KindleFire expired – forgot to “fire” up the battery. Duh!

I knew my many readers would be greatly disappointed in missing out on these clever quips, and so here is what I would have written:

  • Tom Hanks is the reason I DON’T want G.E. to grow a beard. Gray HAIR can make men look distinguished (Christopher Plummer), even sexy (George Clooney), but gray BEARDS only make you look like Nick Nolte – who has added facial hair and

    That COULDN'T be SAINT Nick???

    subtracted head hair, but actually looked better at the Oscars than he did in the drunk tank a few years ago.

    NN's Mugshot

  • Jennifer Lopez’s peek-a-boo dress made me nervous!
  • Billy Crystal – don’t EVER leave us again. We’ve missed your spot-on hosting. And, Eddie Murphy, thank you for stepping down.
  • Octavia’s Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech was as refreshing as Christopher Plummer’s was polished. Both were wonderful. And I have to say it again, her dress was PERFECT. Octavia was also with the “second” sexiest guy in the room – Christian Bale – for a couple of minutes.
  • Meryl Streep  –  I would have so wanted you to win IF Viola Davis hadn’t been nominated in the same category. But since I haven’t seen Iron Horse  Lady, I’ll reserve further comment. (I think Iron Horse is about an equestrienne who ruled Great Britain – oh, no – that was Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown. )
  • Speaking of nominations I haven’t seen  – well, it’s actually easier to list those nominated for best pic that I have seen: Moneyball, The Help, and Midnight in Paris. I enjoyed all of them, but they were so different from one another that I couldn’t determine which one was best because one was a great sports film; another was an incredible drama, and the last totally scored as the most intelligent comedy I’ve seen in a long time. I completely believe in the adage that it’s an honor to be nominated. 
  • BTW, I am excited to watch the rest of those picks who shared the honor of “just being nominated.” Netflix, I’ll be ordering those in a minute.
  • Big night’s big question – for me, at leas: What was with Melissa McCarthy’s (and that other actress I don’t know) guzzling the mini-bottles during their presentations? And were those little liquor bottle souvenirs from a trip to Utah? Oh, one more thing: M’s hair looked good, but the dress-not-so-hot. She should have gone shopping with Octavia.
I thought many more thoughts, but that 3-hour show kept me up past bedtime, and so I’m going to bid you and Jimmy Kimmel good night – even though he did land Oprah on his show.
Have a super week, and thank you, Academy!