Category Archives: Words


[sahy-nuh-shoo r, sinuh-]
  1. something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance, interest, etc.

Where have we been?! I’m sorry, reader, we’ve been out frolicking through fields of wildflowers, popping Zyrtec, fishing with a handsome boy, and slinging a lot of prime rib. These are not sufficient reasons to stop writing; I’m happy to report that Pal and I are currently scripting a pitch for a local magazine. Stay tuned!

I ran across Mary Oliver’s poem called the Sweetness of Dogs again today and was so moved, I have to share it with you:

“What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. Full tonight.
So we go

and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit,

I thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! How rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up into
my face. As though I were
his perfect moon.”

Ah, to be our pup’s cynosure. That’ll make any cynicism from life fade away into the moonlight.


noun [af-ter-gloh] 
the pleasant remembrance of a past experience, glory, etc. 

I am so unbelievably thankful that I got a week off to meet my niece and see the rest of my family during the busiest time at the saloon (seriously, thank you, Marcia and Amy!) I couldn’t have enjoyed it any more than I did. Baby Hannah is as precious as she is tiny. Toddler Jack was so fun, repeating everything and going a mile a minute, sometimes stopping long enough for Auntie Bethie to kiss his sweet little cheeks while he giggled. 

I was not looking forward to the airport crowds on the 26th. Who does?? The fun is over. The cookies are gone. Work is looming. And you have to be surrounded by hundreds of people feeling the same way. 

But here I am, on the first flight of my trip, thinking back to multiple sweet stories from the Tampa airport. 

After a few Christmas greetings, the lady at the check-in desk told me about her dad being stationed in Idaho and loving it. We discussed the 17° weather compared to the current 77° and she laughed as she said, “You can have Idaho all to yourself, sweetheart.” 

A woman who looked to be in her nineties was greeted by a man who looked to be in his twenties before going through security. He lifted her bag up for her as he said, “Please let me know if I can help you in any way.”

My coffee and I sat down next to a ten-ish-year-old girl and her dad. She was writing a song for her uncle. “I have fourteen lines written! I’ll take this part here out,” she pointed to her notebook as her dad read and smiled. 

“I hope he likes it!” she beamed to her dad. 

“He’ll love it, honey.”  

I thought about three-week-old Hannah writing a song for her uncle Spanky one day and my heart grew three sizes.

The gate seemed to only have enough chairs for 30% of us, so we squished in, sat on the floor, and leaned against our luggage. A stunning blonde was on the phone with her mom, speaking about four decibels too loudly. Normally, I’d be thinking, ‘just go walk around and chat and don’t make us all listen to your conversation.’ But this sweet girl was in love. She was telling her mom every detail of Christmas with her boyfriend’s family. She could not possibly control her volume as she said, “AND MOM, WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR THIS PART!!!” I looked up from my phone and saw others smirking, listening along and perhaps remembering when they felt that much excitement about love. 

Maybe we are all basking in the afterglow of the holidays. Maybe as we wait to take off and are staring into space, we’re all thinking about eating BLT’s with our grandmothers, decorating sugar cookies with our fathers, losing in rummy with our brothers, shopping with our sisters, watching cheesy Hallmark movies with our mothers, losing track of time and closing down the bar with precious friends, or reminiscing about the ones we’ve loved so deeply and lost too soon.

Sometimes we don’t get to go home for Christmas and we have to muddle through somehow. This year, I’m so thankful I got to cuddle through somehow instead. It was a sweet, sweet trip, all the way through to the 26th.


[foo t-loos]


  1. free to go or travel about; not confined by responsibilities.

Sometimes it’s 18 degrees but you have to walk the dog anyway after a long night of waiting tables. Sometimes you try to rush it and jog a bit and fall on the ice. But then sometimes you see ten bright shooting stars within ten minutes. You run back inside, pour some wine, warm up the car, say to Pal, “Would you like to…” and he’s already up and prancing to the Kia. He doesn’t know the plan, he doesn’t have his own beverage, he doesn’t care; his answer is yes.

I love this about him. He’s footloose and fancy-free. We drive to a nearby  dark parking lot, blast the heat, and watch the sky in awe. No idea seems too quirky, and I’ve flirted with the line a bit.

Want to hike up this hill full of sagebrush to decorate the tiny pine tree on the tippity-top and have a snack and then undecorate it before hiking back down?

Want to pop some Jiffy Pop and drive sixty miles north to see what the sunset looks like over the Sawtooth Mountains?

Want to pull over on the side of the road when we see a bright yellow aspen grove and go sit amongst them and talk to ourselves about how lucky we are to have this one wild, precious, beautiful life?

He smiles like an oaf and plays along. He makes my life so much sweeter. A bit harder, too. But without him, I’d be in my warm bed sleeping instead of seeing the sky light up with wish after wish.












  1. a sweetheart; a truly loving or loved person.

And just like that, the world became more beautiful at 6:43 this morning. My twin brother became a dad to a teeny tiny sweetheart of a baby girl. 6 lbs 2 oz, 19 inches long– she’s perfect and soo beautiful just like her mama.

Being an aunt is my favorite thing to be. I got to video chat with John, Katie, and baby Hannah Adele and ever since, I keep spontaneously erupting in happy, uncontrollable tears. I can’t stop showing her photo to my friends and to strangers in the convenience store and on the trail. I just cannot go on with my day as if my whole world hasn’t changed with the birth of this truelove sweetie pie!

I will get to hold her in two weeks. I will tell her how fortunate she is to have the parents and grandparents and the Uncle Spanky that she has. I will teach her how to climb trees and hula hoop and play sensational rummy. We will have coffee klatch like Grandma Doris while wearing matching pajamas. I will share all of my insight on dealing with big brothers. We can read Anne of Green Gables together. Oh my goodness gracious. Auntie Beth signing out, there’s something in my eye…


/ahr-key-dee-uh n/


1: rural, rustic, or pastoral, especially suggesting simple, innocent contentment.

“Foolishness? No, it’s not.

Sometimes I spend all day trying to count the leaves on a single tree. To do this I have to climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book. So I suppose, from their point of view, it’s reasonable that my friends say: what foolishness! She’s got her head in the clouds again.

But it’s not. Of course I have to give up, but by then I’m half crazy with the wonder of it — the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort. And I am in that delicious and important place, roaring with laughter, full of earth-praise.”

-Mary Oliver

Oh to be in that “delicious and important place”…laughter, wonder, innocent contentment–an Arcadian afternoon.

When I feel the lack of this rural contentment deep down in my chest, my heartbeat feels like it is in my throat. This is when I have to get out in the wilderness with the company of only my big polar bear. I drive until no houses are in sight and that doesn’t take long here in Central Idaho. I park wherever the leaves are the brightest, or the lupines are the most fragrant, or the snow is the fluffiest. I get Pal out of the car, his tail usually wagging like it’s the very best day of his life. We breathe deep, deep cool breaths. I say, “There. That’s better, isn’t it, Pally?”

He wags his tail and sniffs the trees while I pick up leaves or flowers or snowballs. Silence. Wonder. Beauty. I come back to town refreshed, my pockets full of leaves that I’ll find in a couple days all dried and crumbled.

The Arcadian life is the life for this small gal and her big Pal.



[razuh l-dazuh l]

noun, Informal.

  1. showiness, brilliance, or virtuosity in technique or effect, often without concomitant substance or worth; flashy theatricality.

Customer service. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to smile and to wait on people and to get one more side of sour cream. Sour moods are hard to sweeten.

I needed a night off. I needed a night to sit by the fire with Pal and Taylor Swift’s new CD and a bottle of dark dark dark red wine. But I had one more night of work to get through. I walked in with one goal in mind: to get out early.

Then I approached my first table. I couldn’t even get through my semi-robotic introduction before a ten-year-old blonde blonde blonde little girl spurted out, “It’s my BIRTHDAY! My dad let me pick where to go. I picked McDonald’s! Then he said ‘dream bigger!’ Please tell me you have trout because that’s why I chose to come here for my birthday.”

The sourness dissipated quickly. When I told her trout was our one special for the evening, she threw her hands in the air like she was doing a cheer. “I knew it. I just KNEW IT! Happy Birthday to me!!!”

After she thoroughly enjoyed her fresh Idaho rainbow trout, I brought a birthday mud pie. I uncomfortably sang the entire birthday song even though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Then when I was picking up another table’s food at the grill, she walked by to use the restroom. She said, “Thanks for the mud pie! I sure wish everyone else sang, too!”

I grabbed a new candle and the lighter and walked over to the other tables in the back room and asked them to help me sing to the precious gal. It was the most razzle-dazzle version of “Happy Birthday” you’ve ever heard. She beamed. She crawled under the table, hugged me so hard that I gasped and she breathlessly said, “Thank you for encouraging that! I’m tipping you $1,000,000 in air tip! I want you to be our server every year forever!”

Okay, customer service, tonight you win. I’m depositing that air tip first thing tomorrow.


[uhmeel-yuh-reyt, uhmee-lee-uh-]
1. to make or become better, more bearable, or more satisfactory; improve.
Sometimes I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. My bed is against the wall, so maybe I should pull it out a little so I have a better chance of choosing the right side.
Pal woke me up before I was ready and he was unusually energetic. I was usually unenergetic. The coffee creamer I bought the day before was already clumpy which is really enough to piss somebody off. I sat on the couch and stared off into space for way too long, thinking it might not end up being the best day of my life.
We started our walk to the bookstore and I don’t know if it was because Pal had a bath the day before or what, but every single person who walked or rode past us had a nice comment to make.
My day was becoming slightly ameliorated.
“Whoa! He’s beautiful. Really beautiful!”
“You’ve done such a great job with him, you know.”
“What is he? He’s amazing and so huge.”
But the best was a little girl around the age of eight or nine. She had a huge backpack on and a teal hat with her blonde braided hair sticking out all over the place.
“By the way…I LOVE your dog,” she said as she put her hands slightly in the air and let them slap down on her legs.
“Why thank you. By the way, he seems to love you, too,” I said. She beamed and then walked up to the bookstore and tried the locked door.
“Oh, I’m opening it up in just a second!”
She squealed. “I just knew that was the bookstore dog!!”
She was here before opening time because the owner told her a Zelda book was arriving on Wednesday. I’m sure her backpack was full of books and journals and I like this little girl so much. The book should be arriving later today and I asked if she wanted to leave her phone number and I could call when it comes in. She gave me a look like “I’m eight, I don’t have a phone” but politely said, “I’ll come back in!”
Her name is Ridley and she found a signed Ridley Pearson book and we gawked at it and now that I’m thinking about it, I wish I would have bought it for her. But she got out a beat up envelope full of money and happily paid.
Then she sat on the ground next to Pal and gave him loving for at least twenty minutes. I introduced her to other customers as my assistant and she giggled. I miss her and I know Pal does, too.