Annual Book Club Retreat 2023, Sundance

When we learned we’d be leaving on August 21st, I was really happy that I wouldn’t miss our annual book club retreat at our Sundance cabin.  When we bought this cabin about 25 years ago, one of my thoughts after walking through it for the first time was, “yes, this will be perfect for book club retreats!”  And for all these many years, it has been.  We go every year, the first week in August, Wednesday to Saturday.  We take projects, books, games, food and we do a lot of visiting.  We look forward to this week all year.

Over the years, the topics of our conversations have changed, from work and raising kids, to the challenges of aging and the heartache of some of those kids sidestepping away from us.  We’ve been through so many life lessons together, including death, divorce, serious illness and financial woes.  We’ve also rejoiced together in each success, in our faith, and in the goodness of friendship.

The cabin is a 20 min drive from our home, but when we’re there, it feels like we’ve stepped away into a distant beautiful heavenly world.  Add to that good food and good friends, and it makes for a perfect getaway.

Many in the group are serious game players.  I usually listen in and work on my quilting or family history projects.

We have a different food committee each year (the 3 members of the book selection committee that rotate), we all chip in to pay for the food, and everyone brings their favorite snacks.

This year Stephanie brought these cheery cups and sunflowers for each of us.

On Friday we went down the canyon to Timpanogos Park for our book discussion.  This time it was my turn to lead that discussion and the book was one of my very favorites, “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  I’ve read this book several  times, and I’m not done with it.  I don’t think I ever will be.  In fact, I am working on my own Encyclopedia of my not-so-ordinary life now, patterned after this book.

This book was a life changer for me.  I first read it about 10 years ago and wrote about it here:

Books and Words. “When it happens, you just know.”

I was excited to introduce this gem to my friends.  A few years ago I was heartbroken to learn that the author, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, died in 2017 of cancer at age 51.  I felt like I’d lost a dear friend.  I went into mourning and read her book again.  I’ve shared this book with my writing group gals and many others.  AKR has taught me how I want to approach writing my own memoir.  For me, her words are always just right.

This is the last entry in this book:

Perhaps you think I didn’t matter because I lived–years ago, and back then life wasn’t as lifelike as it is to you now; that I didn’t truly, fully, with all my senses, experience life as you are presently experiencing it, or think about–as you do, with such intensity and frequency.
But I was here.
And I did things.
I shopped for groceries. I stubbed my toe. I danced at a party in college and my dress spun around. I hugged my mother and father and hoped they would never die. I pulled change from my pocket. I wrote my name with my finger on a cold, fogged-up window. I used a dictionary. I had babies. I smelled someone barbecuing down the street. I cried to exhaustion. I got the hiccups. I grew breasts. I counted the tiles in my shower. I hoped something would happen. I had my blood pressure taken. I wrapped my leg around my husband’s leg in bed. I was rude when I shouldn’t have been. I watched the cellist’s bow go up and down, and adored the music he made. I picked at a scab. I wished I was older. I wished I was younger. I loved my children. I loved mayonnaise. I sucked my thumb. I chewed on a blade of grass.
I was here, you see. I was.

As I discussed this book with my friends, we talked about the importance of words, and capturing our stories so they are not lost.  I shared a few things I taught in my Family History classes about writing and how very important it is to leave ourselves behind.  I am  trying to encourage everyone to start writing or to write more so the essence of our lives is not lost, so we will not have lived in vain.  Oh, how I wish everyone realized how important our own words are!

Among other things, I shared these thoughts and writing instruction with my friends:

“As long as there are words, nobody need ever die”

Arthur Henry King on Journal Writing

At the end, I encouraged each to share one thing they wanted to work on recording for their posterity.  We wrote these goals down, and you can be sure I will haunt them until it’s done!

One of our favorite meals was Buddha Bowls.  Instructions are here:

Buddha Bowls

It’s always hard to leave this place, but it was especially hard this year, because I won’t be around for awhile.  These are dear friends.  I will miss them.

Here’s my bound and finished Stars in the Garden quilt:


From the Cabin Journal:

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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