The Wedge of the San Rafael

The Wedge of the San Rafael
Someone has to live here, in the middle of desert beauty. Might as well be the Kellys.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and all that

When I was a kid, Christmas Eve generally began with me flopped on the couch, reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I'm not totally sure why. Perhaps it had something to do with the book, which began on Christmas Day, with Marmee delivering food to the huddled masses, yearning to eat free. I would usually finish it by New Year's Eve, and call it good. It's still a favorite book of mine, although now I filter it more through the Civil War, since I studied that a good bit in grad school. I also wonder what it was like growing up in Bronson Alcott's disordered household. Sheez, but he was a piece of work.

Ah, but there is Jo, writing her heart out, and homebody Meg, and doomed Beth, and frivolous Amy, and lovestruck Laurie, and wise (read stodgy) Prof Bhaer. They became my lifelong friends a lotta years ago, and remain so. I am reminded that I have excellent sisters of my own: Karen and Wanda Lynn. I'd have liked them even if I hadn't been related to them. I'll be in Orlando next week, visiting them, so count me fortunate.

On New Year's Eve, Robert Utley, that dean of American Indian Wars history, and his wife Melody Webb, like to bring in the new year with oyster stew and Casablanca. I usually e-mail Bob and wish him a happy new year. I remind him that he may not always have Paris, but he will have a whole slew of wonderful histories, and some fine national historic sites that he brought into the Park Service, when he was chief historian. (I got to know Bob better when he was the subject of my master's thesis. Prince of a fellow)

When our five kids were of a worthy age, we started watching favorite videos on New Year's. (That's about as exciting as it gets around our house.) We generally watched The Sting, or sometimes Trading Places. I believe we'll watch both tonight, and I'll make popcorn.  Woo hoo!

I have a new - well, sort of new - guilty DVD pleasure: The More the Merrier. This high-larious movie was made in 1943, when Washington, D.C. was in the middle of a monster housing shortage. The lovely Jean Arthur - she of the little-girl voice and impeccable comic timing - sublets a room in her apartment to a kindly old gentleman, who in turn sublets part of his room to a GI briefly in town and bound for North Africa. The GI is played by Joal McCrea, and he is beyond marvelous in this movie.

One of the funniest scenes in all moviedom is the scene when Joel and Jean (her character is engaged to someone else), sit on the front step and he pitches wonderful woo. His hands are everywhere, and she tries to continue a rational conversation by politely fending him off. I swear there is one place where I am certain he has three hands in motion. It's a marvel.

I used to ocasionally catch the movie on TCM. Imagine my delight when I found a copy in the DVD bin at my local supermarket for $5. I did a little happy dance in the aisle, pleased to own that national treasure, and tickled to know that someone else (whoever authorized that DVD) appreciates great comedy.

I think I'll watch it tonight, because this year needs to go out with a laugh and a high kick.

You have a good one, too.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Goodbye for now

Funny how a day that starts so nice - water aerobics again  after Christmas off - can end so bad. After a day of volunteering at the Western Mining and Railroad Museum in Helper, I came home to the bad news that my longtime friend, Nick Karpov, was dead. Nick, a retired electrical engineer, was a bachelor, a Russian/American, and my good friend. In my top ten list of great good times, right up there was the day we spent at Disneyland when I was about to start my junior year at BYU, and Nick was a bit older. I'm not even sure how much older than I am, but maybe twenty years. No matter. He had a good time in Disneyland, too. I was thinking about that and him just this weekend, when my daughter Mary Ruth and I were talking about their Disneyland trip last summer.

How ironic that he should be dead. I doubt he was even sick a day in his life. Problem was, he ignored the signs of advancing pneumonia until it was too late, and even the best doctors in L.A. couldn't save him. Oh, Nick, why oh why didn't you go to the doctor sooner? If I could see you again, I would probably scold you first.

Nick looked like just what he was: a Russian from the Ukraine. He was built like a fireplug, and never lost his accent. He always looked a bit grizzled, so when he finally got old, he didn't look any older than he ever looked. He knew so much, and shared his knowledge in ways that educated, and never antagonized. He was a lifelong learner, always taking classes, learning yet another language (Spanish his latest), reading challenging books and keeping notes on them.

Nick took me to plays in Los Angeles, and to the Brown Derby twice: the first time, just because, and the second time, a few days later, just because we'd had such a nice time the first time. He took me to a Russian restaurant where I had my first caviar. It was so good. I may have to buy a jar and eat some, just for Nick.

I met Nick through my brother-in-law, Narsingh Deo. When he was working at Jet Propulsion Lab in L.A., Narsingh moved into the same Monrovia apartment building where Nick lived, and they struck up an acquaintance that lasted until that awful phone call on Dec. 28. I got to know Nick a year later when the BYU orchestra was touring southern California, and Narsingh, Nick and my sister, Karen, came to a concert, then took me to dinner at the revolving restaurant at the LA airport.

The following Christmas, I stayed with Karen in LA in Narsingh's apartment, while he moved in with Nick, a few doors down. Remember when people were conservative about relationships? That was us. I had a good time, except that Narsingh and Karen were both vegetarians, and I was about to the stage where I would have killed for a piece of meat. Nick happened to drop by after work. I recall hauling him off to one side and begging him to take me to the nearest McDonald's for a burger. He didn't hesitate. Nick, you saved my life.

He shared his love of Russian literature with me, and we had marvelous conversations. He always made me feel smarter than I was. (A few weeks ago, he corrected my grammar on this blog - I think it was a typo - and I made the appropriate change. Thank you, Nick.) He shared Pushkin, which is every literate Russian's favorite. A few years ago, I agonized over Sholokhov's epic Quiet Flows the Don books. Images from the books still remain with me; I suppose they always will. What I learned about Russian literature, I learned from Nick first.

Nick was a private man; he would not like this blog about him. I'm a pretty good interviewer, but I could never get him to tell me anything - I mean anything - about how he and his parents came to the U.S. from Russia, after World War II. I have to wonder if perhaps the came into the country illegally, but who knows? He served in the U.S. Army in Germany, and he was educated in California, working for Burroughs Corp. for years.

He has every single thing I have ever written. I had sent him my most recent book, and I know he read it before he died. I have to smile about that. Here is this scientist, scholar - he read in at least four languages - and there is his collection of Carla Kelly ephemera. Ahem, I don't think I was on the same shelf with Pushkin.

We had a joke about that. A few years ago, someone rammed the back of his car and mashed his trunk. In it was, as he wrote me, "The opera of Pushkin." I e-mailed back and said I didn't realize that Pushkin himself wrote an opera. Whereupon, Nick promptly reminded me that opera is the plural of opus, which meant "the works of Pushkin."  Doh! I gave myself a dope slap, because I knew that. Just wasn't thinkin'. Since then, we teased each other about operas.

Nick came to see us in Wellington last summer. He was only planning to stay a day and a night. We hauled him to several dinosaur sites and museums, and out to the museum where I volunteer, and he decided to stay another day and night, because he was having a good time. I'm so glad he did.

When he got here, he presented me with a beautiful white maple end table that he had made for me in his woodworking class. At that time, we were in year two of remodeling. I assured him that when my office was done, I'd put the end table in there, in a place of honor. I did. It's really quite beautiful.

I look out my window right now and it's a Russian landscape: snow and more snow. Confirmed southern California that he is now, or was, Nick would like the snow today. Gee, I miss him. When the house was quiet, I cried and gave one of those all-purpose, one-size-fits-all primal screams. I'll always miss him. I have the last 7 or 8 actual letters he wrote to me, just before I got engaged to my husband, Martin. Some 35 years ago, I happened to come across them, and sat on the floor in my sons' bedroom in Wyoming, rereading them through a more adult perspective. I read them, and began to grasp how much he loved me. Since his death, both of my sisters have mentioned that to me. Sisters, I knew. I really did. That makes his death all the more painful. I hope he knows now how much I cared.

There's so much I want to tell him. My son Jeremy gave me a truly magnificent book for Christmas called The Tiger, by John Vaillant. It's about a man-eating Siberian tiger in Russia's outback. I remember thinking that I had to e-mail Nick and tell him to get the book. I can't now.

But I want to. This morning, I e-mailed him. I wrote, "I miss you, Nick. Love, Carla," and sent it into the ether. Who knows? Maybe it'll float around forever.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Famous Air Tree

In 1990 or 1991, when we were living in Louisiana, my husband lost his job. I was a grad school, and we were broke. I asked the kids still at home whether they would like to spend $20 on a Christmas tree, or use the money for a few more presents. They wanted both, of course.

I got clever. I bought a roll of transparent fishing line, and a box of push pins. We had a blank beige wall in one corner of the family room, so I hung my Christmas ornaments against that background, basically in the shape of a tree, or where a tree would be, if one were actually there. The ornaments were all of different heights, as though they hung on that imaginary tree. I called it the air tree, of course.

It was totally cool. Against that background, the ornaments appeared to be hangng in mid-air. The effect was truly stunning, and cost me about 5 dollars. As an added touch of whimsy, I put the tree stand - filled with water, of course - underneath the air tree.

The neighbors enjoyed the tree as much as we did. In fact, I think it was Denise Grayson who dubbed it "The Famous Air Tree." She even brought my tree some lightweight ornaments.

A few years later, when times were more plush, I suggested to the kids that we could afford a real tree again. Oh, the howls of protest! I continued the air tree for quite a few years. Time eventually takes its toll. I'm not wild about getting on a ladder to arrange my ornaments, so I downsized to a little artificial tree. It's fine, but we all remember the magic of the air tree, and the "can do" spirit that triumphed when it came about because of desperation.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We Are Seven

I've mentioned Vondell, who rides with me to water aerobics every morning. That's a fun group, by the way. We exercise, to be sure, but there's enough time to chat. We've all agreed that "what happens in the pool, stays in the pool," which might be a good thing. Price, Wellington and Helper are small towns close together in Carbon County. We discovered, when we moved here, that everyone knows everyone, and most of them are related to each other. I confess to listening, and squirreling away ideas for stories.

Vondell is a non-complaining lady, even though she is legally blind, and has had what most of us would consider a heaping portion of challenges. Her husband, a good man by all accounts, died a few years ago. Vondell's daughter died as a result of domestic violence. Her son died of a brain tumor. Vondell is in her late fifties, and raising her granddaughter, who is ten now. Vondell doesn't waste her time complaining. She's an excellent seamstress, a bookkeeper, and a "crafty" lady. I've been printing my manuscripts in 18-point type so she can read them. I feel lucky to have such a sweet friend.

She shared a poem with me that someone gave her after her son's death. It reminded me of a favorite Wordsworth poem, which I just copied out and gave to her. Mabe you'd like to see it, too. It fits my church's philosphy of life after death, and, I suspect, illustrates how most people feel. Wordsworth was definitely on to something.

We Are Seven

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
Her beauty made me glad.

'Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?'
'How many? Seven in all,' she said,
And wondering looked at me.

'And where are they? I pray you tell,'
She answered, 'Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.

'Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother.'

'You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet yet are seven! I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.'

Then did the little Maid reply,
'Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.'

'You run above, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.'

'Their graves are green, they may be seen,'
The little Maid replied,
'Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side.

'My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

'And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

'The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

'So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

'And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side.'

'How many are you, then,' said I,
'If they two are in heaven?'
Quick was the little Maid's reply,
'O Master! We are seven.'

'But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!'
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, 'Nay, we are seven!'

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Getting into hot water

    In October, I took a two-week trip to a) make some connections for Borrowed Light booksignings  b) attend my Park Service boss's retirement party c) visit my son on the Montana/Canada border  d) attend an LDS meeting house dedication in Torrington, Wyoming e) just hit the open road.
    I did all the above and it was a great road trip. There's one part of the trip that just "happened," that I keep remembering, especially now that it is chilly out. On a wild hare, I visited the Wyoming State Bath House.
    Aha, I'll almost bet you didn't know the state of Wyoming had a bath house.  Even better, it's free, even if you don't happen to be a current resident of said state.
    Here's how it happened: On the last leg of my trip, I spent a night at Old Faithful, in Yellowtone National Park, visiting with another ranger-friend. Bob and I go way back to our Fort Union Trading Post NHS days, and he likes my chocolate chip cookies. After I left Yellowstone, I just naturally went to Cody, Wyoming, which is 53 miles from Yellowstone's east entrance. My dad was from Cody and I love the town.
    I did the museum thing there - five world-class museums, and tried to eat at the Irma Hotel. The next morning, I started toward home in Utah. When I was a kid, my Grandma Baier would talk about going to the hot springs in Thermopolis, a small town south of Cody. I remember wondering about that, so I decided to stop, some 55 years after I first remember her talking about it. It was on the way, so why not?
    There it was: Hot Springs State Park. There are two state-owned pools, each on the smallish size. The water comes out of the springs at 127 degrees, and it's reduced to 104 degrees for the pools. State health officials have designated 20 minutes as the limit per visit. It's free, but if you're stopping on a whim and don't have a towel in your possession, that'll cost you a dollar to rent one. Best buck I ever spent.
   I rented one, got out my swimsuit, and took the soak. Me oh my, heaven on earth. One pool is indoor, and the other isn't. Since it was early October and nippy but not prohibitive, I opted for the outdoor pool, which I had all to myself. I shared it with some falling leaves. The small pool is probably 3 feet deep (I'm not much of an estimator, though), with a stone bench lining the inside, so you can wade in and sit down. When I sat, the water was about chest-high on me.
    The heat was divine, and the smell of sulfur totally medicinal. I sat and thought, and felt those cares melt away. Yes, it was hot, but it was glorious. I thought about Grandma Baier, and her good farm cooking, and how she would laugh at me in later years when I tried to get her to give me cups and teaspoons on those recipes, so I could try to reproduce her glorious food in my kitchen. ("Oh, Carla, you just add a smidge of this and a handful of that!") I remembered the fun of visiting her and Grandpa in Cody, with its nightly summer rodeos and Indians dancing in the streets, and cowboys and silver dollars, because no one in Wyoming ever used paper dollars. Not for years and years, anyway, and these were the big silver dollars, not those genteel gold ones you can get now. You know, wimpy money.
    I got out of the free water after twenty minutes, dried off, got dressed, and immediately phoned my older sister to say, "OK, Karen, next year. Here. You, me and Wanda." We all have some old bones to soak, some memories to remind each other of, and a care or two to send to the hot springs gods.
   And I'm going to have my own towel, because I really want that soak to be free, courtesy of the great state of Wyoming (which has always had the coolest state flag and the coolest license plate, way before any states had cool plates).
   If you're anywhere near Thermopolis, stop and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

All that stuff in the middle

Vondell and I were driving to water aerobics this morning, and she had some questions about writing, one, in particular, I know many writers must get: Where do ideas come from?

That's never been a particularly interesting question for me, because it just happens - I get ideas. Other people are good with musical instruments, or maybe crafty stuff, or knitting, but I Get Ideas.

The more interesting issue for me is what makes a story believable. I told Vondell that's what I enjoy - getting from point A to point B in an efficient fashion that doesn't defy logic. Anything other than that is what I jokingly call that the After-Wonder-Boy-Escapes-from-the-Cave Syndrome. You know, or maybe you're waay too young, those desperate moments in the weekly Saturday matinee serial cliffhanger. Right at the end, Wonder Boy is left in a desperate situation, a true cliffhanger. All too often, the following week's Wonder Boy serial begins with Wonder Boy out of the desperate situation of last week and on to something else. The derring do becomes the derring did, and I don't know how it happened.

Even when I was little, I knew that was a crock. I mean, how did Wonder Boy escape from the cave? Inquiring minds want to know. Point being, if you're going to get Wonder Boy in a desperate spot, you'd better know how to logically get him out of it. If not, you don't have a credible story.

I learned more about this years ago, when Life magazine ran an article on the sequel to Tom Sawyer that Mark Twain never finished. I think it was called something like Becky Thatcher among the Indians. Twain had written several chapters, up to that point where Becky, older now, is captured by Indians out West.

And there it stopped. In the 19th century, white Americans were convinced that once white women were in the hands of Indians, that rape would always follow. Sometimes it did, and sometimes it didn't. Twain realized he couldn't take that next logical step, or he would lose the allegiance of a lot of his loyal, Victorian-era reading public. He put the manuscript away and never finished it. The sensibilities of the times wouldn't allow him to take the next logical writing step. Anything else he did wouldn't make the work credible, and Twain fully understood the matter of events following events in realistic, logical fashion.

To me, that's the challenge of writing: Does what I am writing make logical sense? It needs to be entertaining, but it also needs to be logical and credible, if readers are to give themselves wholly to the story.

Some wag once said that fiction was "one damned thing after another." This is so true. I think anyone can begin a novel, and anyone can end one. The ability of the writer lies in all that stuff in the middle: how it gets the reader from once upon a time to happy ending.

My newest novel, The Admiral's Penniless Bride, is a good example of the logic of fiction. What happens to Sally Paul throughout the novel, beginning with the Meet Cute in Chapter One, builds on something logical that inadvertantly happens in Chapter One. Her harmless introduction comes back to haunt her, and it's all perfectly credible. A far-more-skillful example is Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd, where Bathsheba Everdene's impulsive gift of a Valentine to Squire Boldwood sets up the eventual fraught consequences. What delicious fun.

That's one of the many things that makes writing fun. Years ago, when I worked in hospital public relations, my boss made an interesting observation about me.  June was a pretty good writer, but a much better photographer. She labored over her writing, and it wasn't much fun for her. She told me, "Carla, the difference between you and me is that you like to write, while I like to have written."

She was absolutely correct. The whole process intrigues me, even the tough parts.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

No bears, no bears at all

After that blog on bear troubles in Glacier, I thought I'd better redeem myself with another bear story. This one was a column I wrote for "Prairie Lite," when I worked as a reporter for the Valley City Times-Record. The North Dakota Newspaper Association awarded this humorous column first place for newspapers with less than 12,000 circulation. This column was published in 6 October 2005.

No bears, no bears at all

   Jeremy the Border Patrol guy called last week from Montana with a real story. He claims it's true. He heard it from a game warden on the Blackfeet Reservation, who says he saw the whole thing happen in Glacier National Park. Who am I to doubt?
    It seems a tourist from back East went into a store in the park and bought a can of bear repellent. He took the can and his family into the parking lot, lined them up, and sprayed them.
    Apparently he thought bear spray worked like insect repellant. Oops, no. His whole family went to the hospital. I only hope, when she recovered, that his wife got a good lawyer and lots of lovely alimony.
   Jeremy's been on the Montana-Canadian border for a year now. This summer, he decided to walk his area along that imaginary line. He hiked a little each day, and now he's done. He had bear sightings, but none were too close.
    The Border Patrol doesn't issue bear spray, and he's too cheap to buy it, so he checked out a shotgun and took that along. He called it bear spray.
    Because inquiring minds want to know, I had to look up bear spray on the Internet. I learned there are several varieties, and all claim to repell bears by spraying it on the bear and not, um, on oneself.
    One spray claimed it was "university-tested" at the University of Montana. Yikes. Maybe the best way to avoid bears is to stay away from the University of Montana, since they seem to be on campus. That's almost a no-brainer.
    Another spray, called "Guard Alaska," is manufactured in Maryland and New Jersey. New Jersey? Would you trust bear spray from a state with probably more Mafiosi than wildlife? The other brands were manufactured in Arizona and Missouri. I'm skeptical.
    Jeremy hasn't seen a bear up really close yet, and he'd like to keep it that way. We do have a common bear experience, though, through a book. It started when I was a little girl, and my mother read me Alice Dalgleish's story, "The Bears on Hemlock Mountain."
    It's about Jonathan, 8 years old, who is sent over Hemlock Mountain to borrow a big iron pot from his aunt. He's heard rumors about bears, but his mother tells him, "There are no bears, no bears at all, on Hemlock Mountain."
    Jonathan hurries over the mountain. What with one thing and another, he doesn't start back until dusk, lugging that iron pot. He keeps repeating, "No bears, no bears at all," over and over until (gulp) he sees a bear. Not one, but two.
    Because he is a resourceful pioneer boy, Jonathan tips the iron pot on top of himself and hides underneath. It's a great book for children, because it's a little bit scary, but everything turns out all right.
    My mom read it to me; I read it to my children, starting with Jeremy. When my first grandchild was old enough, I bought a copy, taped myself reading it, and mailed book and tape to him in San Diego. Maybe someday he'll read it to his children.
    That's as close as I want to get to a bear. No force on earth will drag me to that new documentary, "Grizzly Man." It's the sad saga of Timothy Treadwell, who cavorted (briefly) among Alaskan grizzlies. He and his friend, Annie Huguenard, were romping with the bears as usual when, uh oh, everything went south in a bad way.
    Treadwell had videotape and audiotape running during the whole thing. Luckily, nothing appears on the videotape. The audiotape recorded the attack from beginning to lunch.
    Treadwell was probably a nut to begin with, even though he managed to survive among the bears for several years. Funny thing about bears: When it goes bad with bears, there's no middle ground.
    So if you're out in bear country this fall, remember to make lots of noise as you walk those trails. If you happen to surprise a bear, back away slowly and don't make eye contact. Assume a non-threatening posture. If a bear attacks and you have bear spray, use it on the bear.
    And if you happen to be in Missoula, for heaven's sake, stay away from the University of Montana.

As an addendum, in October, I visited a ranger friend at Old Faithful, in Yellowstone Park. Bob's a back country ranger, which means his crew walks the back trails, keeps them in repair, and arranges back trail hiking permits for visitors. Bob told me a few of his tourist stories, and assured me that the most dangerous entity in Yellowstone is an urban visitor. "They don't know enough to be cautious," is how Bob put it.

He was called out to difuse what park people call a "bear jam," and found a tourist trying to get his little daughter close to a bison for a photo op.  "You can't be subtle," Bob said. "These people are clueless. You have to get right in their faces."

Bob quickly got between the bison and the little girl, and motioned her to back away from the bison and her father. When Dad got huffy, Bob said this: "I'm doing this so when you are gored and tossed, your daughter will be safe."  Apparently Dad finally got the message.

Rangers stick up for each other; it's a hey-rube sixth sense.  I remember one calm and sleepy morning at Fort Union Trading Post NHS, where I worked. I was doing paperwork in the ranger office in the basement, when I started hearing a visitor talking in a too-loud voice to Loren Yellow Bird, the ranger on desk just upstairs. I dropped everything and went upstairs to stand next to Loren. Yeah, me the granny. It was nothing, and the guy finally left. Loren's great at calming down Those Who Should Be Medicated.

When the visitor took his rant elsewhere, Loren just laughed and said, "Guess he forgot to take his pills this morning." That's Loren. And I went back downstairs. It was a nothing experience, but I just want readers to know that we look out for each other in the Park Service, the Forest Service and for sure the Border Patrol.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Borrow Light book cover

I just looked at and the cover is finally up for Borrowed Light. It's a good one, and I'm delighted.

Black Friday wimp

I'm a bit slow in a random nattering. My editor had me do some revisions on Choosing Rob Inman, which should be out about this time next year. Boy howdy, I hope they leave that title alone...  Anyway, that tied me up. So here we go.

We were "over the mountain" in Lehi, Utah, for Thanksgiving, visiting my husband's relatives. I told my SIL that I was looking for two yards of canvas material to make some bookbags. All we have is Walmart on my side of the mountain, and that leaves something to be desired, at times.  She suggested I go to JoAnn's Fabric, and I thought, Yep, that's the place. Drive on. (Inside joke there for Mormons.)

I figured, how bad can a fabric store be on Black Friday? It's a huge store, and I thought everyone would be elsewhere. Gee, was I naive.

I fought my way into the store, and discovered that JoAnn's was having huge fabric sales. I kept going, thinking, how bad can it be?

Jeez Louise, it was awful. There were a lot of Really. Determined. Women. with their carts crammed with 12-15 bolts of fabric, waiting to get them cut. I took a number, and got in line with my pitiful bolt (all I wanted was two yards). I waited and waited, and kept seeing women in front of me with those 12-15 bolts in their carts, obviously ready to sew for the entire Chinese Army, or maybe that family in Arkansas now expecting child #27, or something like that.

It occurred to me after only about 15 minutes (I am a late bloomer) that if I stayed in that line, I would probably still be standing in that line the next day. I put away my now-pitiful one bolt and slunk away. Here's the joke: I actually did find the fabric I wanted at the Price, Utah, Walmart (my side of the mountain) the next day. It took me 5 minutes, tops, to get it and get outta the store.

And that's as close as I will ever come to ANYTHING on Black Friday. I'm 63 years old and I now have that grand mindset: "There are some things in life that I just don't have to do." Oops. I'm almost embarrassed to mention how long it took me to figure that out.