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Every Life is a Story
    A place to share my own family stories

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Halloween Spirit

A friend once described the way I decorate for Halloween.  She said, “Julie decorates for Halloween the way most people decorate for Christmas.  And she decorates for Christmas the way nobody does.”  I love to transform my entire house into a Halloween haven.  Every room gets some treatment, even down to the hand soap in the guest bathroom.  Now that it’s just a few days until October, however, I find myself reluctant to open up those boxes.  I’m not ready to decorate.  

I think the biggest reason for this reluctance is that it’s 85 degrees outside.  This is summer weather.  It has been a beautiful September, and no, I am not complaining about the temperature at all, but it doesn’t FEEL like fall.  When I mentioned this to my husband, he reminded me that this is Utah.  It will be summer weather until there is a sudden cool down.  We will have fall for two weeks, and then it will be winter.  I don’t want winter.  If the weather wants to stay in the 80s through October, then I will not complain.  It just doesn’t feel like the time to decorate.  

Another reason is that it’s been a busy September!  We’ve had events and activities every week.  It has not been the settling down into a school routine that I expected it to be.  We just finished up a fun and frenzied weekend at Salt Lake Comic Con, and the idea of starting my month of spooky ghost story events in just a few short days seems very abrupt.  

Not to fear.  This morning as I drove to work I noticed there were trees who had leaves falling, even in the hot temperatures.  I made sure to crunch through them as I went walking with my friend this afternoon.  I’m going to put on my spooky music, and carefully open one or two of the many boxes of Halloween decor.  It’s still a few days away, but if I put up something here, and something there, I’ll be ready.  

It will be delightful.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Good day to ye, Maties!  It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

This is one of my favorite not a real holidays to celebrate because it's so much fun!  I'm bummed it's on a Saturday this year, because I work at a high school, and always dress up like a pirate.  I'll simply have to dress like a pirate for cleaning my house, I guess.

There are many stories of ghost ships, and phantom sailors, but my favorite ghost pirate is the pirate Jean Lafitte who sailed around the New Olreans area.  His stories take two different forms.  Some say that he still sails with his pirate fleet after he and his eight ships vanished.  Some say his fleet can be seen when the coast of Louisiana is in danger, and that his ships were sighted right before Hurricane Katrina.

Other stories talk about his hoard of pirate treasure.  The treasure is cursed, and haunted by Jean Lafitte's ghost who is not allowed to move to the beyond because of his treachery and greed.  It is usually a sad tale of warning to those who put gold above all else.

Remember Jean Lafitte as you talk like a pirate today!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Story Crossroads

The Story Crossroads has featured me recently in their blog, celebrating stories.  It's exciting and an honor to be a part of it!

Utah is one of the biggest supporters of storytelling as an art form in the nation.  It has the largest storytelling festival in the nation with the Timpanogos Storytelling festival, and it supports numerous local festivals all over the state. There are programs to teach storytelling in the schools, and guilds to support those who love stories and wish to learn more.

With so much support, it's exciting to see The Story Crossroads come to the Salt Lake area.  This storytelling festival is set to premiere in 2016, and the focus is on story as a way of bringing people and cultures together.  Check out the post, and plan on supporting this exciting event!


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Coming Soon: Beyond the Wail

Coming out in early October is the paranormal Anthology Beyond the Wail!

I am one of twelve authors (one of them is my husband!)  My story is a ghost story:

Margaret Murphy is a young musician who loses her boyfriend in a tragic motorcycle accident.  Mourning his death, she makes the chilling discovery that other people are dying on that same road in exactly the same location of her boyfriend’s death.  Suspecting something of supernatural origin, Maggie draws on some old family stories and an ancient gift to stop others from being lured to their deaths.  Alone at night on a remote mountain road, Maggie must overcome her own doubts, face the killer, and let go of her own feelings of grief and loss.  

As an added bonus, here's a video of the upcoming book!

Getting Ready

*blows the dust off of this blog*

It has been a long time since I've posted!  I've had many adventures since then, too many to catch up on in one small blog.

In truth, it's time to change the blog completely!  The whole website needs to be changed!  I'm waiting on some artwork to help me do it, and then there will be a remodel.  Some new paint, new pictures, maybe a couch or two....you won't recognize the place.

I have always been a storyteller.  I am so lucky to perform and share stories to so many people.  I am excited to embark on my newest adventure and write my own stories!  Next month, I will be publishing my first short story in a paranormal anthology with Xchyler publishing.  It is something I never thought I would do.  I'm surprised to be here.  It's a great feeling.

Because of that, I'm changing the blog.  I'm going to start posting about my book, about things that are coming up with Xchyler, because they are a small publishing house run by wonderful people who deserve to have people discover their books!  But most importantly, I'm going to start sharing the stories that I love the most.  I love ghost stories.  It's why my first actual attempt at writing was a ghost story.  Ghost stories are the stories I most love to tell.  They have a place and a purpose in our culture, and I am happy to do my part to keep them alive.

So look for changes, starting later today when I share the title and cover of my new book.  The rest of the cosmetic remodeling will follow.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Adventures

It has been over a year since I posted on my blog! I have no idea how the time went by so fast, but it escaped, and now we are here. I think it's high time that I let the post about my grandmother go to the archives and let me cherish the memories of her! In the last year, I have had many new adventures! Let me share a few of them. Thanks to my grandmother, we got to travel back to Oregon, and see family and friends. We visited cherished events and places of my childhood, such as the Scandinavian Festival at Junction City, Oregon, and the beach at Florence, Oregon. I am so grateful for that chance! Another new adventure was that I got a job! Okay, yes, I've already had a job as a storyteller, but storytelling isn't exactly steady work. With both of my girls getting older, it was time for me to start looking at what I wanted to be when I grew up. Last March I started work as a High School Science Teacher! Kind of. My official title is Teacher's Assistant, and I work with Youth in Custody in a local school district. Part of my list of responsibilities is to teach their science class. This was not a job I expected or even wanted when it was offered to me. It turned out to be something that I loved doing! In a few weeks summer will be over, and I'll be going back for my first full school year. I'm looking forward to it! My last really big adventure was that my husband and I were able to go to France! My husband was sent out there for work, so I tagged along, and we took a few days in Paris before travelling out to his work site. Europe was a place I longed to see, but never imagined I would ever get there. It was magic, and I dearly hope that the opportunities come to visit again! The rest is a string of little adventures, some wonderful, some not so much. Isn't that pretty much how life works? While living the stories, I need to remember to come over here and write them down. For certain, the story isn't over!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Kathryn Partridge was the only girl surrounded by three brothers. Growing up, she spent time working with her mother who cooked for a logging camp. She loved music, and desperately wished that she could play the piano. There were no funds for a piano or for lessons, so she would pretend that the windowsill was a piano, and play that. She would also sneak down to the church and look through the windows at the piano keyboard and pretend to play it. She caught the eye of Milo Bernard Glenn one day as she was riding her bike. He thought she was beautiful and promised himself right then that they would be married. Years later, they were, and in time they became my grandmother and grandfather.

For many years, my grandmother worked at Ray’s Drugstore and Hallmark shop. Half of the store was your standard drug store- aisles of toiletries, and over the counter medicines with a few small areas for toys or candy. The other half of the store was the Hallmark shop- aisles of cards and gift items displayed attractively much like it is today. Because of her job, she began what became an important holiday tradition for my family. Every year, she purchased a Hallmark ornament for each of the grandkids. When I got married, my mother packaged up my ornaments and gave them to me. That first year of marriage they were the only things hanging on my tree. Now, I buy my girls Hallmark ornaments every Christmas just like my grandmother did.

My grandparents lived in a small country house out among the fields of Junction City, Oregon. They planted pine trees all around their yard to block off the view of miles of open field. It made the house cozy as the trees began to grow, but it wasn’t until I was grown that the trees were big enough to serve their purpose and to provide privacy and a great shelter from the wind. I have fond memories of their house. I stayed there many times as I was growing up. My favorite room in the house was the room we called the White Bedroom. It had a white carpet, a brass bed, with a quilt that was a white fabric surrounding pale calico pieces. It had white sheer curtains and one of those old fashioned windows that had to be pushed up to open. They had apple and cherry trees bordering their driveway, and beyond that a flower garden filled with every kind of Dahlia. When I got married, they decided to sell the house, get a trailer, and travel. I miss their house very much. I got their bedroom set when they moved. I still have it.

My grandmother always went to the beauty shop to have her hair done. For many years, she dyed it black- a very common look in the 1950’s, but one that got to be too strong a color for her as she got older. She started to lighten it to brown, then, as the years passed, her hair couldn’t hold the color anymore. Her color got lighter and lighter until for awhile it was nearly pink. She finally let it go white, but she still got it styled as often as she could. She was very generous, and always gave things when she visited. There was always a shirt that she had just never worn after she bought it, or shoes that didn’t fit just right after she got them home from the store. She once tried to give me a used pair of nylons. She loved writing cards and letters, and took great pride in her lovely handwriting.

My grandparents traveled the countryside for many years in their trailer. They loved RV campgrounds, and had joined RV communities. As they grew tired of travel, they settled for the winter months at an RV park in Southern California, then would take the pickup truck to visit family. When my grandmother fell and broke both wrists, it became apparent that both of them had deteriorating health. They lived with my parents, moving with them to Utah. My grandfather died after suffering from alzheimers and dementia. My grandmother lingered, suffering a series of mini strokes that left lasting damage. She died Saturday, June 18th. She was 90 years old.

My relationship with my grandmother grew strained when I was a teenager. I had a great relationship with my parents, and wasn’t rebellious with them. Instead, all of my moody emotional angst was directed toward my grandparents. I was angry and irritated with her because every time she came over she would criticize my hair, or my weight, or something else she didn’t like. She would do it in a roundabout way that wouldn’t directly insult. “Why don’t you go comb your hair before we leave?” meant that my hair looked terrible and she didn’t like it. “Have you lost weight?” meant that I was looking pudgy. She would do the same thing when she wanted something done. Rather than asking for something directly, she would hint and comment about it until somebody was annoyed enough to go and do it for her. Her passive aggressive behavior, and my teenage rebellion were not a good combination. I spent years trying to repair the damage. I never did reclaim the adoration that I had for her as a child, but I think I managed patience and polite respect.

It didn’t help that my family left the Methodist church to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My grandmother couldn’t accept our new religion, and would use her passive aggressive ways to make negative comments about our church. It was a big effort to stay polite, and it made us sad that we couldn’t share our faith with her. After my grandparents moved in with my parents, they decided that if they were going to move to Utah with them, they should join our church. I remember when my mother told me that they were getting baptized, my jaw hit the floor. I asked her, “What did you do with my REAL grandparents?” By the time my grandmother was baptized, she already had brain damage from several strokes. The church leaders determined that she was lucid enough to make the choice to be baptized, but I don’t know how much she really understood about the covenants she was making. I do know that it was a great joy to go through the temple with her, laying to rest one of the biggest sources of contention in our relationship.

I will miss my grandmother, the good and the bad. I hope to treasure the good memories, and to learn from her faults and make sure they never become MY faults. She loved her grandchildren, and did her best to show us how much she loved us in so many ways. I remember once when I was sick, and my mother was working full time. She had never left me home alone before, and worried that I would be afraid. My grandmother left the pharmacy and came to see me on my lunch break to make sure I was alright. She made me soup, and brought me comic books and treats from the drugstore so that I wouldn’t be bored. As her gifts got stranger, like the used nylons, I never forgot the generosity and the intention behind them. I look forward to the day when I can see her again, free of the damage caused by so many strokes. I want to hear her stories.

"To be a person
is to have a story to tell."

- Isak Dinesen  

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