Writing My Life

Now and Then


Process of Elimination: My “Near-Jury” Experience

My Courtroom Hero

My Courtroom Hero

I find it a little ironic that soon after I publicly pledged to soften my judgments in 2013, I was summoned to appear in the 4th District Court in Provo for a jury selection process.

This may be hard to believe, but in my 64+ years, I’ve never been asked to perform this honor! And while many consider jury duty an inconvenience, I was excited to serve. I wanted to put years of watching courtroom dramas – including the classic Perry Mason – to use, but I was disappointed.

While the case concerning aspects of “eminent domain” wasn’t exciting like a murder trial would be, it was important. The jury was being asked to determine whether or not the Department of Transportation paid the landowner the “fair market value” of his property as described under the law. And I was eliminated; voted off the jury; sent packing.

For the rest of the afternoon, I tried to figure out why. Was it because …

  1. I looked too eager to serve? (I smiled a lot.)
  2. Because I only made 2 comments? While many jurors replied to many of the 25 questions directed to all of us, I only raised my hand twice to share these important responses:
    1. “Yes, I work for the state as I am an educator for Jordan School District.”
    2. “If we (meaning the jury) don’t smile and say hello to you attorneys, don’t YOU take it personally.” (That was in response to the prosecuting attorney’s explanation that no involved lawyers would respond to jury members outside of the courtroom. “But don’t take it personally,” he added.)
  3. Because I honestly thought I could set aside my biases to determine what was “fair market value” as described by the law? I noticed one of the “chosen ones” expressed beliefs that landowners should receive a bonus when forced to sell their land. I almost raised my hand to remind everyone that such a bonus would come from tax-payers’ pockets. If I had said that, I might have made the cut as the prosecution would have chosen me to counter-balance the “pro-bonus” juror. Right?
  4. Was I booted because I work in Salt Lake County – home to more liberal citizens than those of Utah County?
  5. Or because my phone vibrated too loudly?
  6. Perhaps because I brought Diet Coke into the courtroom where drinks were prohibited?
  7. Maybe it was because I wore jeans, and the judge thought that was disrespectful.

Who knows, and while I will never learn what excluded me from this educational experience, I think they will ask me again. Why? Because now they have my number, and besides, I’ve read a lot of John Grisham!!


2013: Only One Resolution – but it’s a dang hard one

Like so many, I offer up the same clichéd resolutions: lose weight, exercise more, spend less, etc. But these are NOT really NEW YEAR resolutions; they are UNending goals from years past and present.

I’ll continue the march towards good health and a balanced budget, but those are NOT 2013′s goals. Instead, I’ve pondered upon what resolve I should most pursue and zeroed in on “softening my judgments.” I’m realistic enough to know eliminating all judgments is beyond me, but I think with enough focus and fortitude, I can make course corrections.

This means I need to ward off gut reactions – they’re so often wrong –  to listen more, and to talk less.

Told you it’d be dang hard.

"Love One Another"

“Love One Another”

"Squash" Unkindness

“Squash” Unkindness

I know they are a stretch, but I’ve waited so long for a correlating topic to post these pix I snapped in 2010!

Leave a comment

100-Word Posts

I am sad that I haven’t posted in MONTHS! Sad because many ideas, reflections, and observations that caught my attention were not recorded, and now, just like time, they are gone, kaput, defunct.

I have shared a few on FaceBook, but those fly away, too. Even if my thoughts are not profound, they deserve to be recorded. Even in snippets. And so once again, I’ll go for brevity: 100 words or less.

And hope some of those lost gems return!

1 Comment

Just a Little Observation

With all the significant posts waiting to be written, I’m not sure why this silly idea worked its way up the priority ladder, but it has. Besides silly, it will be a short and sweet piece.

Yesterday, I found this addressed envelope sitting atop the shredder and couldn’t help but laugh at my type A husband.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched him pull out a ruler before addressing envelopes. Who does this? I mean his printing looks like it could be one of the word-processing font choices on a drop-down menu – you know like “Bradley Hand ITC”. Only this script would be christened “Gary Hand GE”. (I can’t add “ITC” because the International Typeface Corporation didn’t design it, but I can include G.E. because Gary Eugene created the script, complete with “serif” – the little feet attached to the S’s. Hope you’re impressed with my fount of font knowledge.)

Anyway, this careful scripting says a lot about my old school husband and his preciseness. In general, today’s men do not print neatly, but Gar always has. In his mind, however, that’s not good enough for the Postal Department as the lines need to be straight, Hence the ruler.

I’m not sure where this habit comes from. I don’t think he’s read the high cost of illegible handwriting in the medical field; if he had, his scribble signature would be decipherable. Of course, Gar is not a medical professional; so that is irrelevant. What I do think, however, is that he a perfectionist in some areas, plus he does not want to risk late delivery of bills – which brings us to the other revelation about him. He HATES online bill-pay, and wishes I would abandon the practice. (I told him I will as soon as he takes over all the household accounting duties, which he is in the process of doing. YaY!) At any rate, he continues to mail bills or hand deliver them. Sheesh!

If any of you have received a note or card from my husband, you may remember that the envelope was addressed just as carefully as any of our bills. Feel honored. =) As a result, I have been thinking about hiring him out to address wedding invitations. Any takers?

I warned you this would be a silly post. I guess I could ask what writing about this says about me. But I won’t. And if a kind-hearted reader out there wants to take care of our car payment, you can send it to the clearly written address above.

Have a great day. R.


Christmas Banner Photo Made Possible by Luann C. ~ Decorator Extraordinaire!

Had some inquiries about the wonderful Ms. Luann. She works in our department and some of her unofficial duties include decking halls with holiday regalia.  

Be it Halloween or Independence Day, she makes EVERY day a joy with her happy disposition and creative energy.

Nearly all the candy in her display is NOT edible but decorative AND she made them all! Luann is NOT paid to do this; nor is she reimbursed for supplies.

She just does it for the fun of it.


I couldn’t resist honoring Luann by photographing her creation and using it as my banner this month.

Happy Holidays EVERYONE!


… 50-word NON-fiction: BETTER Than Fiction

He attended clown college, and she won All-American honors in gymnastics.

He twisted skinny balloons into flowers and giraffes.

She traded the uneven bars for a wheelchair – after the accident.

They met then married. Never easy, they make it work.

Two people who help each other laugh – even after 20-plus years.


… 50-word FlashFiction: Shirley and Cindy …

The two giggled as they struggled to slip pajamas onto uncooperative 18-inch dolls.  Joy reigned until both grabbed for the flannel mini-robe.

“It’s mine!”

“No! Gramma gave it to me.”


“They usually play well together.” The care-giver observed.

“Sisters?” asked her new assistant.

“Mother and daughter. Eighty-eight and sixty-nine.”


… HaPPy BiRtHDaY, dEAr ReLief SoCiEtY …

As a female member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I also belong to the largest women’s organization in the world, the Relief Society. Officially organized in March of 1842, Relief Society is “an auxiliary to the priesthood.” In its earlier beginnings, women of the church envisioned their society as a service organization, as suggested by Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball’s idea of establishing a constitution to formalize the community’s sewing circle.

Within the confines of the Mormon Church, the rest of the story is well known: Sarah’s friend Eliza R. Snow wrote the document and took it to Church President Joseph Smith who praised its contents but added that the Lord had something better in mind for the women of the church. It’s my understanding that the “better part” included organizing the women as an auxiliary to the Priesthood AND adding teaching to service; thus the sewing circle also became a learning circle.

While church leaders, including Joseph Smith and Newel K. Whitney, attended early meetings to teach “new things” to the women, the organization eventually turned to its own members to teach one another. And so it continues today.

Yesterday, March 19, 2011, the women of the Eagle Mountain Utah North Stake celebrated that occasion by meeting together at the nearby church. As women do, we adorned the “cultural hall” in springtime pastels; we sang, prayed, and lunched together, and we taught one another. As in  times gone by, a priesthood leader shared his thoughts, but it was women serving, teaching, and inspiring one another that lay at the heart of the occasion.

I know today’s Relief Society may not be my grandmother’s Relief Society – her social would have been the annual bazaar, complete with quilts and pot luck dishes instead of a celebration featuring balloons and a catered buffet – BUT it is still a most amazing organization whose past and present fascinate me.

NOW and THEN …



2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,600 times in 2010. That’s about 16 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 75 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 129 posts. There were 751 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 469mb. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was December 2nd with 95 views. The most popular post that day was … winter poems … just in time for SPRING ….

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, google.com, pjswainfamily.blogspot.com, wintersong.wordpress.com, and blogger.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for concrete poems, concrete poem, ducktail hairstyle, ducktail haircut, and da haircut.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


… winter poems … just in time for SPRING … February 2010
3 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,


… a time to ramble … around and through “safe” subjects June 2009


… welcome Janus ~ god of beginnings & endings … January 2010


… mothers and King Solomon … February 2010


… about me … May 2009

Leave a comment

… Christmas poems … just in time for New Years …

Unlike the East, we here in Utah missed out on a WHITE Christmas, but 2010 is exiting on the Polar Express! All this powder – “IT’S SO FLUFFY!” – reminded me that I did NOT post the Christmas poems I wrote with my 7th graders back in the mid-90s.

Because the “formula poems” from my Winterscape collection has been this blog’s most visited post, I decided to share the others that make up the 11-poem booklet. Remember, these are simplistic in nature AND written by an amateur poet!

  1. “Christmas Shopping” is a parody of a popular holiday song. I’ll bet you can guess what original lyrics inspired my version. Also note the “clip art” I cut out from the Deseret News. Some of those stores haven’t been around in a while!
  2. The next two are called “diamantes” because of the diamond shape the words create. Start with a word, add 2 adjectives, 3 participles, 4 synonymous nouns, 3 more participles, 2 more adjectives, and another word that can be substituted for the first one. 
  3. “Where is Christmas?” is a sensory poem that incorporates images evoked by the 5 senses: sight, audio, taste, smell, and touch. “Formula poets” can use this format for ANY subject. For instance, when I taught in Georgia, I assigned my students to write this kind of poem about the Peach State. And I’ve worked with other kids in creating sensory images about Halloween and autumn. Anyway, you get the point. It’s really quite fun.

    Well, Friends. That’s it. Hope you enjoyed your Christmas; have a GREAT New Year; and BE SAFE!


    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 41 other followers