Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Misty Snow

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I’ve never seen it before. Yesterday, I walked outside to go to my early morning appointment. When I looked out my window, it looked like it had snowed or rained, but it was all finished now. When I walked out into the weather, though, I realized that it was raining or snowing or something.

It reminded me of the misty rain that Mike and I had encountered on our first trip to San Fransisco. That February, we had left Salt Lake in three feet of snow and arrived in California to sixty degree weather. Cory and Kathleen kept apologizing for the rain, but we had left with snow chains in our trunk. We were happy for rain.

It was a kind of misty rain that seemed to float in the air instead of fall from the sky. It didn’t even feel like rain, but after a couple of minutes walking from their one bedroom apartment to the Ethiopian restaurant down the street, we were soaked. Cory and Kathleen apologized again, but we were happy to be out of the snow.

Yesterday, however, it was definitely NOT rain. When it hit the windshield, the snow was tiny frozen crystals that took a good three seconds to melt before the intermittent wipers brushed them away. It was snow, but it seemed to hang in the air like a mist. I’ve never seen it before in my life: misty snow.


Lunch at Pei Wei

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Lunch at Pei Wei by Laura Moncur 02-01-06

We were waiting for our food and my view out the window was beautiful. The blinds and the colors of the burger joint across the street all merged into one beautiful scene. Somehow, the camera wasn’t able to capture it in the same way as I experienced it. Maybe I was having a Zen moment.


Y2K Bug

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 6:32 am

The Beetle is at the dealership right now, undergoing surgery. It’s probably the eighth surgery for its airbags and the third surgery for its airline system. The airbag and check engine lights keep turning on. I am sick of it.

I love the Beetle. Even after six years of driving it, I still get stopped every once and a while because people want to talk about their Beetle experiences. I bought the 2000 model because I wanted to own a Y2K Bug. Unfortunately, this one has lived up to its name.

I can’t think of any car I would rather drive around town. There isn’t one out there that attracts me as much as the New Beetles do. Because they have been completely unable to fix my problems with my Beetle, all my faith in the dealerships in Salt Lake City is lost.

I hope they fix my car and get it back to me. I miss it…


5:45 am

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:45 am

It’s 5:45 am on a Saturday. I’m working in my pajamas. Being self-employed means that you never get to go home from work. It’s always there, waiting for you to come to it. You better enjoy what you are doing because you’ll find yourself doing it at 5:45 am on a Saturday in your pajamas when the rest of the city is blissfully asleep on their “day off.”

I spent 45 minutes last night buffing my fingernails to a shine before I realized that I was tired and I should probably go to bed. Without a task master to answer to in the morning, there is no reason to get to bed early. I could sleep in every day, but here I am at 5:45 am, writing. There is no one cracking a whip, except the dominatrix in my head who knows how many entries I wrote yesterday and has deemed them woefully inadequate.


Winter Sunshine

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 8:19 am

Winter Sunshine by Laura Moncur 02-06-06

The sun just came up and reminded me what it looked like. Last week was so rainy, snowy, cloudy that I had forgotten what sunshine on my face felt like. It’s blinding me right now and the sunbeams are interfering with the computer screen. I’m happy to feel its warmth on my face. I should take a walk in the cold.


Self Portrait Tuesday: Earrings

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Self Portrait Tuesday: Earrings

“I really like these little earrings with the ball, but I can’t get the stupid ball in. I’m going to go to Blue Boutique and ask them to put the earrings in for me.”

Stacey looked at me. I knew I had said something wrong. It made perfect sense to me, so I tried to justify myself.

“If they can pierce my belly button, they can put in my earrings. I’m already pierced. I just can’t get that stupid ball into the hoop.”

She shook her head, “You’re braver than I am.”

This from a girl with a tattoo around her upper arm.


Living Restaurants

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Rebecca left this comment on my entry, Recycled Buildings:

I thought it would be interesting to note that what ended up replacing the Piccadilly Fish & Chips was a tiny strip mall including a chain restaurant called the Original House of Pancakes (hence the “Say No To Pancakes” sign). Piccadilly has opened up a new location at 1450 South State Street, which I have yet to visit, but the building just can’t compare to the old tudor.

And I don’t know if you have been in Salt Lake long enough to have lamented the passing of Bill and Nada’s Cafe, but that was a truly tragic demise. Bill and Nada’s operated for several decades right by Trolley Square, with the slogan “We Never Close,” and served the popular dish (to their patrons at least) of brains and eggs, right up until they did close in 1999. The cafe was a Salt Lake institution and loved by people from all walks of life. I don’t think the old diner changed in any significant way, right down to the waitress’ uniforms, from the time they opened. The building was torn down not long after the cafe was closed, and the lot where it stood still lies vacant. It’s a sad reminder of what we lost.

I found a kind of nice tribute page to Bill and Nada’s at Bill and Nada’s Cafe.

I never did a followup to Recycled Buildings. I live right next to the “strip mall” so I really should have. I was just talking about Recycled Buildings, so I didn’t really feel like I needed to followup that story, but I guess I should have.

Yes, they did build a pancake house and a Maui Taco in the spot where Piccadilly used to be. We lost one restaurant and gained two. It’s actually a much better use of the space and in retrospect, I’m glad they tore down the old building and replaced it with a couple of good restaurants.

The best part is that we didn’t lose Piccadilly. They opened up on State Street. Mike and I have gone there a couple of times, since they’ve opened, which is all my stomach can handle in the year or so they’ve been there now. I like greasy fish and chips, but they can only fit into my diet rarely.

The Original Pancake House

The same goes for pancakes, actually. The Original Pancake House is the new trendy breakfast place to go for breakfast and it’s packed every morning. You pretty much have to go there in the afternoon to get a table because it is so busy. Quite frankly, if I’m going to splurge on pancakes, I want to go to IHOP because they have four flavors of pancake syrup. I have no idea why The Original Pancake House is so popular right now. Probably because they’re new.

Maui Taco - A Vacation You Can Eat

Maui Taco, on the other hand, is a blessing. We eat there about three times a month. It’s the closest place to our house to get an enchilada. We have walked over there in the snow, rain and heat. We love that place and I can always make room in my diet for a fish taco.

Bill and Nada's Cafe

Bill and Nada’s Cafe, however, will have to wait until tomorrow.


Bill & Nada’s Cafe

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Bill and Nada's Cafe

Bill and Nada’s Cafe sat right next to Trolley Square. They were a 24 hour restaurant, so they earned a strange cult following. When I was a teenager in the Eighties, Bill and Nada’s was the popular place to go after a drunken night at the local clubs. Everyone told me that I should go there, but when I asked why, all they could say was that it was open late and they served brains and eggs.

Brains and eggs… It wasn’t really a glowing review of the food. It was more like a dare. I could never get them to clarify any further, so I never went there.

I never ate at Bill and Nada’s Cafe. When I hear people lament the loss of Bill and Nada’s Cafe, I consciously control my face so that I don’t roll my eyes at their grief. I hold my tongue instead of saying, “It was just a restaurant, people, and from what I heard, the food wasn’t that good.”

No, when they start reminiscing about Bill and Nada’s I calmly go to my happy place and let them ramble on and on about it. They are ALWAYS shocked that I never ate there. I was so into the punk scene as a teen that they assume that I had enjoyed Bill and Nada’s as well. I smile at them and nod knowingly. I tell them, “It’s a shame they closed down,” even though I don’t really care.

Somehow that place got into the collective unconscious of the Salt Lake City resident. It became more than 2000 square feet of cinder block and neon. I don’t understand it because I never ate there, but I feel the same way about other establishments of my youth. I’m sure it had less to do with the food and more to do with the memories of what happened in that small diner. I just never experienced it, so I can’t wax philisophical about it.

They put a parking lot on the piece of land
Where the supermarket used to stand.
Before that they put up a bowling alley
On the site that used to be the local palais.
That’s where the big band used to come and play.
My sister went there on a Saturday.

The day they knocked down the palais
My sister stood and cried.
The day they knocked down the palais
Part of my childhood died, just died.

– The Kinks, Come Dancing, 1983


Understanding Frida

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Frida KahloMike and I went to the Utah Museum of Art a couple of weeks ago. We saw an exhibit about Frida Kahlo.

I’m bothered because I don’t understand Frida Kahlo. I don’t understand her life. I don’t understand how she was able to live her life. I don’t understand her art. She tried so hard to communicate herself to the world and I still don’t understand her. Mike and I were talking about it.

He said, “It’s absurd to think that you can understand a person’s entire life like you would understand a movie.”

He’s right. Biographies try to tie up the loose ends. Bio-pics go one step further ignoring the loose ends and only covering the points of a person’s life that agree with an interpretation. I have seen an art exhibit, watched a PBS biography, and watched a movie about Frida Kahlo. I have spent a sum total of maybe six or seven hours trying to understand a life of over 400,000 hours.

He’s right, it IS absurd.


Sid Gets His Light Therapy

Filed under: Art and Photography,Our Pets,Sid — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Sid Gets His Light Therapy by Laura Moncur 02-06-06


Jim Hardcastle, Calvin’s Little Brother

Filed under: Calvin Hardcastle,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I got an email from Jim Hardcastle, Calvin’s little brother the other day and I thought I’d share it with you all.

Hi again,

I have been reading this for awhile now and I am positive that it is my big brother that affected you so much. First, you probably didn’t know Cal had a little brother, but he does. I was adopted by our dad about 15 years ago. I enjoy reading these stories about him. It makes me feel good to know that after all these years he is still in your memories. I would love to hear more if you could spare the time.

P.S. The purple and gold was for the Minnesota Vikings. He was a huge fan.

P.P.S. Calvin was moved shortly after his funeral to the cemetery on 7800 South and 1300 West


It’s so nice to hear from you. I didn’t know Calvin had a younger brother. I only knew about his sister because he lived with her. He was pretty tight lipped about his family. In fact, it was rare that he ever talked. I think I was only blessed with what I heard because I was the only one awake at all those parties.

I wish I had more than what I put on my weblog, but every one of my memories went down there. Since I’ve written about him, I feel so much better. It’s like he was able to leave me at peace when I finally told my piece of his life to the world. I wish he had lived longer. He was a funny guy.

Good Luck, Laura Moncur

P.S. Is it okay if I post your email on my weblog so that the rest of the world can hear the rest of the story? Is there anything you’d like to add?

Yes that would be just fine if you posted what I had to say and thank you for reminding me about just how great my big brother was and still is.

Receiving this email made me feel even better about posting my experiences with Calvin here. I am so glad I was able to make a human connection with my memories. Thanks for emailing me, Jim. Sorry you lost your brother when you were so young. We all lost a great friend when Calvin left us.

If you didn’t read the entries I wrote about my old friend, Calvin Hardcastle, you can see them here:


Valentines 1981

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

This was the first Valentines Day that I was able to celebrate. I had a great idea for a Valentine’s box. It was going to be a mailbox. I had already started making it and showed it to my friend. The next day at school, my friend showed up at school with a mailbox Valentine box. It was, by the way, much better than the one I had been working on. It was made out of a real mailbox with a slot cut in the top. It was shiny metal with hearts on it and far better than the one I had been making out of posterboard.

Everyone was oohing and aahing over her box, and I very quickly realized that if I showed up with my box, it would look like I was copying HER instead of the other way around. I was heartbroken. I held it as long as I could, but as soon as Mom and Carol came home from work, I burst into tears trying to tell them the story of the Purloined Valentine Idea.

Carol helped me make this box. We called it “Laura’s Love Bouquet.” I ended up winning first place for originality. My friend didn’t win a prize at all. I’m still smiling about that. I can’t believe that was twenty-five years ago. I remember the betrayal so vividly that you would think that it was yesterday.


Hawaiian Lei

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Lei brought to you from Virtual FloristBefore Mike and I went to Hawaii, I was under the impression that when you get off the plane, you automatically get a Hawaiian lei. I thought there were people at the airport that give you a lei when you get off the plane, just like on Fantasy Island. I guess I had seen that image so often on television that I believed it was true.

Mike tried to convince me that it wasn’t. I’m sure he was worried that I would be disappointed when I got off the plane and there wasn’t a Hawaiian ambassador to give me a necklace of flowers. I wasn’t worried about being disappointed and after analyzing where my view of Hawaii had come from (Fantasy Island?!) I realized that Mike was probably right and that there wouldn’t be a group of women and men in flowered sarongs placing leis on the necks of everyone who walked off the airplane.

We left for Hawaii on the opening day of the 2002 Olympics. There was a huge snow storm and extra security because of the fear of terrorists at the time. We ran to our plane, carrying our shoes and ended up sitting on the tarmack for two hours waiting for de-icing. As our plane landed in San Francisco, our connecting flight to Hawaii lifted off without us on it.

I wasn’t worried. I knew that they would get us on another flight, even though we might be a little late. Mike, however, was near tears. At one point it looked like we might have to wait twelve hours in San Francisco and Mike nearly lost it. I tried to console him, “It’s okay, we’ll call Cory and ask to crash at his place. We’ll take him out to dinner or something.” Nothing would calm him down. When they said, “We can get you on a plane, but they’re leaving NOW. RUN!” We grabbed our bags and ran as fast as we could. We didn’t even know which island we were heading to. All we knew is that they told us to run.

For the seven hour flight, we sat apart. They were the only two seats left on the plane and no one was willing to trade. We passed notes to each other for about five minutes, but that became too cumbersome. We found out that our plane was landing in Maui instead of Kona. This seemed to devastate Mike, but I was just glad we didn’t have to spend twelve hours in San Francisco.

When we got to Maui, we changed flights to Kauai, finally able to sit together on the quick jaunt between the islands. That’s when Mike told me. He had arranged for a company to give me a Hawaiian lei when we landed in Kona. They would have been waiting for me to get off the plane when we had a layover there, but we missed that flight. He was so disappointed that I didn’t get my lei. I looked out the window and saw the emerald green island below us and felt a wave of love hit me. Mike had tried to make my fantasy of Hawaii come true and the rotten snow of Utah ruined it for him.

That was the most romantic thing Mike ever did for me and I will love him forever for it.


Another Beautiful Morning

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Another Beautiful Morning by Laura Moncur 02-09-06

It feels so good to peek out the blinds and see the start of another beautiful day. I am so grateful for the sun.


Felice Varini – Art of Perspective

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Click to see full size image

This website is very difficult for an English speaker to navigate, but if you do, you will find many interesting art projects that will blow your mind.

When viewed from the wrong angle, the art of Felice Varini just looks like random lines or, worse still, huge splotches of blue on the sides of buildings. When you are standing at the correct focal point, however, everything comes together and it appears that a series of circles are hovering over the room (or city landscape in one of his works).

I find his work amazing. Based on the pictures on his website, it looks like he uses a projector to guide where he puts the lines, but I have no idea how he did this on the city. The huge old buildings have large swatches of blue in strange angles, but when you view them from the right spot, there is a large bullseye on the building down the way.

Entre Ciel Et Terre by Felice Varini 2005

See this website for an easier to navigate vignette of his work:


Do One Nice Thing

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The idea is simple enough. We can add joy into our lives and the lives of others by doing one nice thing a day. Here are some ideas of nice things you can do.

Something about this idea just makes me a little happy inside. Just thinking about doing something nice is making me happy right now. I think this is a great idea!

Via: Happy News – The ‘Do One Nice Thing’ feature


Mount Olivet Cemetery

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I am already planning on Halloween, so I took a trip to the cemetery to take some pictures while the sun is still low on the horizon. It makes such good shadows this time of year. All of these photos are unmolested in Photoshop, just resized to fit here. I am planning on molesting these photographs for a spooky Halloween gallery in October. Watch for it.

Until then, enjoy the silence.


Fresh Grief

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I chose Mount Olivet cemetery because my grandma is buried there. Her gravestone looks good and the grass is neatly trimmed away from it. Some of the stones there are so old that the grass has nearly covered them. My grandma is buried in the newer section of the cemetery.

The grief there is still fresh.


Cheetos Dog

Filed under: Linda,Our Pets,Sid — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The dog smelled like Cheetos the other morning. I thought I was imagining it until I saw Linda, the cat, walk up to his sleeping form and smell him. He opened his eyes, but stayed still while she sniffed him. If I find out that Mike is feeding the dog Cheetos, I’m gonna…

Ok, I don’t care if Mike feeds the dog Cheetos, but I know for a fact that we don’t have any in the house.

Maybe Stinky Ghost is back with a new habit: eating junk food in the bedroom.


The Pick Me! Word Cloud

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Pick Me! Word Cloud

This is called a Word Cloud and it was created based on what I’ve written on Pick Me! Somehow it seems like a good collection of words for my weblog. You can make one for your website:

They want to sell you a t-shirt, but you don’t need to buy one if you just want to see your weblog in words.

Thanks to Rev. Sean for this:

Via: ministrare: “Word Cloud”


Give Me More Food

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I’m so glad Linda hasn’t learned this trick yet.


Pottery World Fountain

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

When Mike and I went to Pottery World back in January, I had a couple of videos that I took of the fountains, but I didn’t know how to include them on my website. I thought I’d give You Tube a try and see how it worked for uploading my videos.


Fall in Salt Lake City

Filed under: Art and Photography,Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Mike and I were seriously considering moving to San Diego last fall. As I was taking a walk through the neighborhood, I came across this tree, dropping leaves. It was Fall In Action and I thought that someday, when I lived in the Land of Eternal Spring, I might miss Autumn, so I took a video of it with my digital camera.

You can hear the wind blowing in the background and the leaves fall like huge, yellow snowflakes. When I took this video, I thought that I might watch it when I missed the season of Autumn. Now, it’s just a reminder of how long winter is in Salt Lake City.


To Illustrate A Story

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I have been cleaning out the basement in my free time and I found some of my old books that I used to read when I was a kid. It’s strange to look at them. They were printed the year I was born in 1969, but the copyright goes back further than that. They are NOT politically correct and every white family has an “Auntie” that is African American and wears a ‘kerchief on her head.

It is only by the grace of Sesame Street that I am not a bigot.

Even then, I wonder at myself when I look at these books that I loved and cherished as a child. To my mother’s credit, we usually read the stories that had no “Aunties” in them, like the Velveteen Rabbit. It was such a sad story and I loved to have my mom read it to me.

This is the part of the story where the real rabbits make fun of the Velveteen Rabbit because he is not a “real” rabbit. Even today, the look on that stuffed bunny’s face makes me sad.

Human relations and sad stories aside, these books are a treasure trove of Sixties illustration. The simple lines of the first picture that make the girls look as if they are made of cardboard cutouts draw my eye. The fuzzy coloring of the bunnies makes me want to touch them. When I was a kid, I didn’t notice the illustration of my stories. I just took them for granted.

When I look at a current illustration for the same story, the artwork is much more realistic, but MUCH less emotional.

The real rabbit looks so authentic that I can’t see any of the mocking or teasing. The Velveteen Rabbit’s head is down, but it’s hard to see the shame that he is feeling.

I forget how much of storytelling is done with illustration. Would I have loved the Velveteen Rabbit so much if I had been introduced to the story with the “beautiful” illustrated version? I don’t know. All I know is that I can feel the shame from that crudely drawn stuffed animal so strongly that I actually HATE those real rabbits.

Update 05-02-12: I had a question about copyright on the first picture and I thought I’d go into WAY more detail than the answer really needed. These pictures are from Parade of Stories published by Child Horizons.

You can see Auntie Melaynay from Tag-Along No Longer right on the front cover.

The copyright for the book is 1967.

The book is a reprint from a large variety of other publications, so the copyright for Tag-Along No Longer is actually from 1941.

The thing that surprised me so much is how NORMAL this seemed to me when I was a kid and how RACIST it seems now. When I read this story as a child, I didn’t notice the bias. Here is an excerpt from the book.

They couldn’t go alone. Susan’s mother had gone shopping, and Emily’s mother was getting a permanent wave. Virginia’s mother was president of the Parent-Teacher Association, and had gone to a meeting. And Ann and Tooloo’s mother wasn’t even on Oleander Island; she had gone to visit Aunt Martha at Mule Shoe.

“Let’s ask Aunt Melaynay,” said Ann.

They went to the kitchen to find Aunt Melaynay. “Aunt Melaynay,” said Ann, “will you take us to the circus?”

“Sho’ I will,” said Aunt Melaynay. “But you chilluns will have to git yo’ own fo’ bits apiece, and wear yo’ hats, caze de sun’s hot.”

Not only is every available mother participating in a feminist’s nightmare, Aunt Melaynay, who is probably overworked and hasn’t had a chance to take her own children to the circus, is expected to fill in. Although I enjoy reading a good dialect, Aunt Melaynay’s accent is another stereotype.

As a child, I took all of this at face value. I wished that our family had an Aunt like Melaynay. I didn’t question the very whiteness of the children. I assumed that she was really their aunt. I never had an aunt who lived nearby. All our family was so far away that visits with aunts happened only once every other year. If I had an aunt who lived in Utah, then maybe my aunt would take me to the circus, just like Melaynay.

As an adult, I look at this cherished book and I cringe with the stereotypes and veiled references to slavery. It makes me question everything I learned as a child and embarrasses me to no end.


Waiting In The Beetle

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Waiting In The Beetle by Laura Moncur 02-18-06

“You can just drop me off at the door. I’ll just run in and check to see if they have it.”



A Walk Shoveled Clean

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

A Walk Shoveled Clean by Laura Moncur 02-16-06

We got a lot of snow a couple of weeks ago. I was so proud of my shoveling job that I took a picture. Actually, I took several pictures. It’s funny how little things can make me so happy. A walk shoveled clean of snow can give me more satisfaction than all the work I ever did for someone else.


Self Portrait Tuesday: In The Bathroom

Filed under: Art and Photography,I Love Makeup! — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Self Portrait Tuesday: In The Bathroom

No makeup and a brush hasn’t touched my hair. It’s time for a shower, but first I need to post an entry for Self Portrait Tuesday.

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