I’m not in the habit of blogging my mail. I’ve already admitted I subscribe to People Magazine, and that’s about as interesting as our mail ever gets, though I was excited to receive an invitation to Taylor and Beth’s wedding last week.

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But these two postcards arrived in today’s mail. The one on the left is from my sister, who beat her postcard back from Malta. The other is from my friend Elizabeth, who lives and works in Ramallah. I thought it rather unusual that two such similar postcards would arrive in the same day.

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It might be more unusual that these lovely spring flowers would arrive in the mail. Friends from my past sent them out of the blue to celebrate friendship and Easter.

Of course what the postcards and the flowers represent is the best part.

Posted in blather, old friends | 1 Comment

where’d they all go?

Just hours ago there were 13 people around our table. The room was alive with stories of the previous days’ adventures. Cassidy spent two-plus days in the company of her beloved aunt Erin, who—aided by John and Sage and Brynn and Linsey and Pete and Will—found many wonderful ways to show her a great time.


This was only one day. (photo stolen from Erin’s Facebook)

Meanwhile, Bailey and his friend Tanner took part in George Fox University’s Bruin Preview. Quinn and Tanner’s mom, Julie, were invited to most of the same events, hoping to get a feel for the area and the school in case their sons wanted to consider Fox for their college. It was quite clear to them that it “was not a good fit.” But they had a good time anyway.

Everyone’s adventures ended at our place, making it possible to enjoy brunch around the table together (all but Linsey, who had work appointments all day). A house full of joyful hubbub! And then they all left. But I still have my pictures to ease the transition.




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She said, “You make me look so tan!” (She doesn’t know she’s tan.)






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Did I mention Oregon came through with absolutely gorgeous weather for their entire visit?

Posted in family matters, in the neighborhood, Uncategorized | 1 Comment


We caused no small amount of amusement ten years ago at our family reunion when we ordered a cake to celebrate my dad’s 100th birthday.


What’s so funny about that? Dad died at age 92. And that explains why you see only his three offspring and not a single candle to blow out. After all, all of his wishes had already come true. Three remarkable children [insert more laughter] and spending eternity with Jesus. Still, the very fact we were all together on what would have been his 100th birthday called for a celebration.

I bring this up because today would have been my mother’s 100th birthday. Doing the math, you’ve figured out she was ten years younger than my dad. But she died way too early at age 74. I’ve grieved the loss of those “expected” years, though not with regret. We had a close relationship that continues without her physical presence. She still influences my thinking. She left me nothing to overcome, and for that I will always be grateful.

Mother and Sharon at WL

I was her baby—a four-year gap from my sister and a six-year gap from my brother—most assuredly a bit spoiled, though not the damaging kind of spoiled. We were all well loved by our parents.


Looking through pictures (I have many, as you can imagine), I found this one of Mother at age 67, only one year behind my current age. I was surprised to see she was already wearing a wig!


Of course I have my favorite pictures, all of them candid shots, this one especially cherished as I think of my parents toward the end of their days together. I will never stop being thankful.


A year ago, I made a book for my sister to read to her grandchildren. I haven’t shared it here because of all the security issues (mother’s maiden name, etc). But all this thinking about my mother makes me want to share it…so I Xed out all the potential risks and linked Carol’s Winifred book here if you’d like to read about my roots.

Posted in family matters | 1 Comment

have a seat

We’re just like the rest of you. We all gravitate to one particular chair when we settle in for an evening at home. For years now Mauri’s go-to chair was one of those IKEA birch armchairs with matching ottoman. Looks like this:


My landing place was a red loveseat within arm’s reach of him.

And we could have lived happily ever after in our comfy spots. Except the loveseat took up a lot of room in our small space in front of the TV and Mauri’s chair was looking a little, well…used.

So we went chair shopping at Macy’s and bought matchy matchy chairs that recline! Oh dear. But we’d have to wait two months for the ones we wanted.

About halfway through the wait, the loveseat went to its new (and happier) home.

Red Loveseat Everlys

And about halfway through the wait I got this picture from Mauri:


and this note:

…it said something like, “Enough’s enough,” and…decided no longer to be supportive. There were a couple of last gasps as it slowly sank to where you see it…’took a little thinking/doing to crawl out of the rubble. I’ll disassemble, and take it to it’s final resting place….

Just gave up the ghost.

Timing is everything, right?


A whole blogpost about our new chairs. Must be a slow news week. But I like its happy ending.

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My recent travels to Arizona and Washington, DC, were mere puddle jumps compared to the many hours my two Carlson sons spent in the air last week. While sitting with Taylor at the Ambrose home in Virginia, he mentioned reading on Facebook that his brother Ben was in fact jetting to Shanghai, China, on a three-week business excursion. News to me too! Clearly we are not a family of communicators, as I had not told him of my travel plans either. Soon, T and Beth would themselves be long-distance jetting toward Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on their way back to Iraq for two months of work before returning for their nuptials.

I used my motherly powers to persuade this photo out of Ben.


Here he is enjoying some sunshine along The Bund, the Shanghai waterfront.


And here’s Taylor along the Dubai waterfront, posing in the traditional “Carlson men” manner [see below].


circa early 1990s — and

Ben pose

circa early Facebook

Posted in family matters, travels | Leave a comment

flat stanley goes to washington

Dear Gus,

My class is doing a project on Flat Stanley. Flat Stanley is a character in my book. He got squished by a bulletin board. As you can tell, he is a very flat dude.

Can you take Flat Stanley to a restaurant and everywhere you go? I know that you are good at taking pictures. After you are done, please send Flat Stanley some souvenirs as soon as you can.

Paul Anderson

This letter arrived in the mail as I packed for my second-in-two-weeks travel adventure, this one to the East Coast to experience a bit of life with the Ambrose family, Taylor’s soon-to-be in-laws. More specifically, to attend Beth’s bridal shower. So I invited Flat Stanley to come along, since he didn’t take up much space, being flat and all. And he turned out to be a delightful travel companion, eager to pose for my incessant photos ops.

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Stanley’s first flight, from Phoenix to Portland, wasn’t so very memorable, confined as he was to the inside of an envelope. That’s why he was so excited to arrive at Portland International Airport on Wednesday morning.

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He especially liked the shuttle to baggage claim at Dulles International in Washington, DC.

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That was nothing compared to the 5.5 million-dollar home we visited that evening for a Rodan + Fields skin care products party, a business venture for the bride-to-be.

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I noticed that FS likes to be right in the middle of things. He isn’t shy, as you can see.

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The next morning we joined Beth’s mom, Trish, and her friend Ginny at the twins’ music class. The twins are Beth’s nieces. Riley’s checking us out.

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Stanley thought this was a wildlife sanctuary, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise.

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The big event of the day was driving with Trish, Ginny, Beth, and her two sisters, Tara and Shannon, to West Virginia for Beth’s wedding gown fitting. Of course FS had to stay in the car; a bridal shop was no place for a (very flat) dude.

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For some reason, Stan insisted on posing by this armadillo at Texas Roadhouse. Just when you start to think you know someone….

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After a good sleep we were off again doing wedding stuff. Here’s the restaurant where Mauri and I will host the rehearsal dinner.

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I learned how dangerous shoe shopping can be with Stan; he thought I should buy every single pair I tried on.

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After shopping, we visited the wedding reception location to finalize details. The future bride and groom had only a few days left of their leave before returning to Iraq, and the clock was ticking.

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Stanley worried a little about posing here, since he’s quite flat already without having people step on him.

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So we moved inside to enjoy this view.

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The advantage of traveling with FS is he doesn’t eat much. So after posing for this picture, he was content to be refolded and stored safely away in my purse while the rest of us enjoyed a delicious meal to celebrate Trish’s birthday.

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Needless to say, Flat Stanley was not invited to Beth’s bridal shower. Even being around for the decorating made him uncomfortable.

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OK, one more pose, then he’s outa there.


Guests arrived, ate, talked—all the things women do—then watched Beth opened her gifts.


Can you guess why this was a favorite for me?


Naturally, the littles got in on the party. In fact, they might have been the life of it.

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March might be a focal point in the year for these Irish enthusiasts—Trish and Tim.


Did I mention I won the game — How Much Do You Know About Beth? — the win made possible only because her mom and sisters recused themselves. (The green scarf courtesy of Trish.)

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And then it was time to head home. FS posed with Taylor and Beth, who were catching a flight to Dubai, though, unfortunately, it got cancelled due to mechanical problems. (They’ll try again this afternoon.) But Stan and I were only slightly delayed due to some necessary de-icing because it had just begun to snow.

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Our time in Washington DC gave little breathing room, so I felt FS had earned his own seat for the return flight, a chance to regroup before his upcoming final flight back to Arizona.

Dear Paul,

Flat Stanley and I have lots of adventures to share with you and your class. He was a good travel buddy. He talked me into taking him to work with me this morning, even though he knew I’d be putting him in the mail this afternoon. It was nice while it lasted. I hope he will fully recover from his bulletin-board accident, though then he would no longer be flat. (Maybe even a little fat, but we’d never call him Fat Stanley because that wouldn’t be very nice.)

I love you.


2014-03-17 08.09.21

Posted in family matters | 2 Comments

i quit

FYI, I resigned from my long-held position on the grammar police force. All that angst and for no good purpose. Who am I helping when I edit your sentences in my head as we converse? Who gets hurt when a grammar or punctuation blunder assaults me when I read your writing? Well, unless I’m editing something you submitted for publication, I just don’t care anymore. Life is too short. I release all ownership of what you say and write. And while I’m spilling my guts, I have a confession: I don’t know everything; I make mistakes. So until I’ve memorized the Associated Press Style Book (not a goal in this lifetime) I will climb down from my high horse and trust the more gracious police to not come down too hard on me for my grammar faux pas.

My children can now relax too. From the day they spoke their first word to this present day, I’ve told them I will correct their English till my dying day. Wisely, I have not kept this promise. It doesn’t foster my otherwise healthy relationship with them. They all learned the language very well and don’t need a nit-picky mother to badger them any time they misspeak. They need a mother who will listen—only listen—to what they have to say, without fear of judgment or correction. And now that I think of it, maybe you and I can agree on the same arrangement. When you read an error here, you can just whisper in your own ear: Oh, I feel so much better about myself because I know more about grammar than Sherry knows. This allows me to save face, and I can keep on writing without worry that my ignorance will be exposed.

Twenty years ago my brother connected me to a major Christian bookseller who gave me a manuscript to edit as a test of my skills. Twenty years ago I hadn’t yet learned the rule for when to use which and when to use that in a sentence. The manuscript was literally packed with whiches and thats. I’m telling you, I fell flat on my face. I’d pay big bucks for a do-over, but that is water under the bridge, over the dam. But I’ve since learned how to correctly use which and that, which makes the editing part of my job much more fulfilling.

I want to keep learning. I don’t understand the proper use of the word literally. Can you help me with that?

[A whole post without a single picture. Bet you thought I couldn't do it.]

Posted in editing | 4 Comments