Write about a time you were pleasantly surprised

s and p notice how the focus and framing here are all about the ginger cookies because I fully expected those to be my favorite

When I bit into Josh Bingham’s Salt & Pepper cookies with strawberry balsamic fruit leather (because while I like pepper I’ve never had it in cookies–nor did I think I wanted to–and as rule I don’t generally like fruit leather) and. Well. There are no words. Except to say that is one darn good cookie.

And I ate three.

When my niece showed up at my house last Friday with a shake and onion rings from Burgers Supreme because she wanted to do something nice for me. (OK – and a whole lot of other nice things people have been and are doing for me while I’m laid up.)

When my aunt and uncle drove 3 hours from South Carolina my first time in the south to meet me in my hotel in Atlanta just so they could a) see me and b) make sure I had a proper introduction to both Southern hospitality and Southern food (perhaps those are somewhat synonymous). And then turned around afterwards and drove the three hours back home the same night. (Props also to my cousin who drove with small children 3 hours from Alabama two days later to show me even more Southern hospitality.)

Any time it rains when there was not rain in the forecast.

Ok. To be fair. Any time it rains. Period.

When the unending line of 100-degree days in the 10-day forecast miraculously disappeared into high 90-somethings.

Every time I get a card or a letter (that is actually to me and not to my bank account) or a present in the mailbox.

I would also add any time I get an email that is actually to me from someone I actually know instead of some entity to whom I had to give my very special (dalenerowley no numbers because I was the first) email address just so I could buy something from them. But let’s not get carried away.

When my friend Melissa showed up at my work with a big bag of fresh garden peas she had hand picked herself. (Because picking peas is a lot of work even for yourself. Extra sweet to put that kind of effort out for someone else.)

Surprise visits from friends and family. Which, let’s be honest, are beyond pleasantly surprising and downright make my day.

How writing about happy things can turn around a discouraging day right on its head.

Hold on to the happy and pleasantly surprising.

What flower reminds you of someone in your life and why?


Roses remind me of my mother. And of my mother-in-law. And of my–well, Shane’s, but therefore my–Aunt Verna. And also of Shane. Just to name a few.

It must have taken great courage for my mother to move to Oregon. Or perhaps greater courage to stay. Even after she found out she was deathly allergic to nearly every kind of pollen in the valley with (allegedly) the longest growing season in the country.

But how did she cope? She grew roses. Jackson Perkins were her favorite. I don’t really recall the roses she loved in our Junction City house, but I do recall the rose and flower beds right at the entrance to the house.

What I remember most are the roses she grew in every home she ever lived in after my father died and she moved the family back to Utah. And how at her Springville home she grew a particular rose tall enough it would peek over the fence. Simply because it was her next door neighbor’s favorite.

I remember Barbara’s 4 0′clocks more than I remember her roses, but I do remember how she loved flowers. And managed to make the desert of the Uintah Basin bloom. And I’m fairly certain that, as with my mother, nearly every single birthday card she ever sent me had roses on the front.

And Aunt Verna. When Shane and I were dating he used to drive me down to Verna’s during the summer to visit and also to send me home with a couple or three of her roses, stems usually wrapped in wet paper towels, covered in tinfoil to hold in the water. Verna had a long line of beautiful roses planted along her property line adjacent to the south end of 5th West, or state street.

While I one day home to return to the care and keeping of roses, for now Shane is the keeper of those we inherited when we bought this house 17 years ago. And those we transplanted from Aunt Verna’s. And those my mom gave us, or others gave us when we lost people we love. And those we purchased simply because they’re our favorite. And they smell good. And for some reason–whatever reason–the color or shape or fragrance reminds of us those people we lost and love.

And every now and then I find a couple of buds, barely opening, in a bud vase. Just for me. And they remind me of all the roses past. And those who grew them.

Every picture tells a story

One of my favorite writers is Ann Cannon. And apparently she knows Ann Dee Ellis. (Ann/Anne must be a good solid writing name, because Anne Lamott* is brilliant too.) And she (Ann Cannon) is going to start throwing down some writing prompts too, and well, I guess I’ll keep trying to record my stories here.

Today’s prompt is to find a photo and write about it. I’ll start in my library.

This photo was taken by me at the Provo Airport just a couple of months after I left a perfectly good job to work at something that scared me and that–as I have explained before–involved actual, literal rocket science. Primarily aviation science, but also a little rocket science. Among other things about which I as yet knew nothing. In that way I do where I embrace a job with my whole heart, I had volunteered already to help with social media and also to help at a huge event–our school’s 75th anniversary celebration. It was glamorous. I had spent a good deal of time prior to the event reaching out to various flight associations and media outlets, trying to get the word out about our anniversary and fly in. When the day finally arrived, I went around taking photos, noshed on simply fabulous food provided–not without some controversy–by the university’s catering students, schmoozed, and spent a good deal of time taking out the trash when it because clear that the catering people couldn’t stay on top of it.

But my favorite thing beside the people and the food (but not dragging out huge stinky black bags of trash in the insufferable heat), was the planes.

I was knew the job and was–and am mostly still–illiterate when it comes to plane identification (one of my initial “brilliant” but unfunded and therefore unfulfilled ideas in my new position was to have my team design and make an app for that). But I knew what I liked. And I saw this one well before she landed and could not take my eye nor my camera off her during her entire approach and landing.

Who is in this picture? I have no idea. Just that, as per usual, it isn’t me. Except that it is. And that is why I took this photo.

Look at the little girl. Notice the skip in her step? See her pure joy? She is absolutely delighted and taken with the man in his dull brown jumpsuit (as most brown jumpsuits are) and with the plane and with, just everything. She is simply happy to be there! And in the purest, most uninhibited way.

And that is how I have tried to approach all my tasks in my (at the time) new job. I embraced aviation, even though I was afraid of flying. I embraced elements of style and design I’d never had a lot of opportunity to explore before. I learned to write video scripts–simply by jumping in and starting writing. I embraced each new contract and project even though a lot of it was technical and foreign to me and even over my head.

The other day (since I’ve been laid up) I took some time to go back through some of the photos of the trips I took for work for the FAA in order to cull the excessive amount of photos I took. As I flipped through photo after photo and video after video of planes taking off, landing, or taxiing right past me on the various runways of the airports I visited, my heart skipped again–not in the bad way hearts can be wont to do–but in the happy way of that little girl so excited to be present. There. Then. Right next to that beautiful plane.

*If you haven’t watched or listened to this already, now’s your chance: