Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Blind spots

It's only taken us a year and a few months, about $500 and a generous visit from Marc's older brother and his wife to get our 26-year-old windows updated.
Still seems like only yesterday that we were happily hanging Wal-Mart vinyl blinds in all of our windows when we moved in here.
At that time, creme-colored slats were the thing.
And we've been pretty happy most of these years.
But the look was tired and when we rode around on our bikes in the evenings, I couldn't help but envy the look of wooden plantation blinds in the houses we passed.
When we were in Bear Lake last summer, we discovered Kerry's wife Lori had opened an interior design shop.
She could do plantation shutters and blinds. She would do ours if we wanted.
I came home and started thinking seriously about it.
The problem was they are in Montpelier, Idaho and we're here so it seemed like a pretty long road trip for them.
I called on a couple of ads I cut out of the paper.
The one guy said, "You'll want to spend the money for real wood blinds, not those composite things." Then he took a cursory look around and threw out a $1500 quote.
The next guy smelled of cigarette smoke from the cigarette he tossed on the sidewalk as he came to the door.
So when Lori said she would order them for us and arrange for installation I was thrilled.
I started giving her measurements and color requests.
We worked until I understood the difference between plantation shutters and plantation blinds. (One is way more expensive and impractical for someone whose windows can't open behind couches and an office desk.)
We kept at it until I was somewhat confident in getting accurate measurements.
We took down the old, melted, dusty blinds.
We placed an order and I started spackling and painting. Marc started making new screens. We ripped out the padded window seat in a bedroom and ordered a vinyl seat.
They Kerry and Lori went on a golf vacation and we started trying to find a working install date.
Yesterday they made it.
We grilled steaks and Kerry patiently hung blinds on three windows.
They look great, professional, smart and clean.
They cut the light, open to the sky if we want and provide both privacy and a touch of class to the three rooms where we've put them. In the back bedroom, they cut the heat dramatically.
Both Lori and Kerry took their work ultra seriously, making sure everything hung straight, was securely fastened and snapped into place. They made sure the babies wouldn't be able to get hold of the cords.
If you want Lori to help you, she has a website: and a store in Garden City at 65 W. Logan Road #7.
I recommend her.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Into the woods with Redford

The good-looking guy at 79

Marc knows I have a crush on Robert Redford.
He doesn't worry about it much because, A. I don't think the chances of there being a reciprocal crush are very great and B. I have never met the man.
So Marc indulges me by making sure I have a good DVD collection of Redford movies and get to see whatever comes out starring our local boy.
I own almost all of his films with my favorites being "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All is Lost" and "Up Close and Personal."
The latest is "A Walk in the Woods" with Redford and Nick Nolte.
We'd seen ads for this movie on TV and kidded each other about seeing it right away when it comes out.
So when Marc got an offer from the local AARP organization to see the movie for free at a Salt Lake theater before it is even released, he jumped for it and invited me along.
We toddled on down on Monday and joined a crowd full of old fogies (after waiting forever at a broken traffic light and standing in the 90-degree heat to cross the road).
How not to get eaten by a bear
We had all received offers from AARP with the common denominator being our age and ability, should I say dis-ability. Many came wielding their canes and in wheelchairs.
We climbed into our seats and sat back to enjoy, feeling fairly young comparatively.
(First of all, I'm not so much a Nick Nolte fan but the guy can actually act and he fits the part of an old, fat, barely functioning guy really well. Secondly, I just like to look at Redford even with his craggy, aged face.)
The story is simple. These two guys take off to hike the Appalachian Trail with barely a clue as to what they're getting into.
They revisit the past, ford a stream or two, meet a hyper know-it-all-drive-you-crazy girl, a pair of bears, camp in the snow and get into trouble here and there.
It's a low-key high adventure full of beautiful photography and a good deal of humor.
We laughed.
We fell right into the story.
We enjoyed it all the way through despite some bad language and a glimpse of Nolte's backside as he climbed into his tent.
Hiding from a scary creature
Sometimes it's a kick being a senior citizen.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The seating chart

Some of the good volunteers at BYU's 2015 Education Week were clearly becoming frustrated.
Some were even angry.
I'll explain.
Most of the classes in the auditoriums and classrooms I attended were filled to capacity and so people either had to leave to find another class, climb over you to a middle seat or stand in the hall hoping to catch a word or two.
When the chairs in a class you wanted to attend were all full, it was aggravating, especially if people in the class the hour before just didn't leave.
The overseers in each class tried to help.
They kindly suggested we all slide to the center of the row as we came in so those coming in late could easily find a seat — if there was one.
People weren't supposed to save a seat or take up more than one with their coat, backpack, etc. If we all slid over, the empties became visible.
It was a good plan in theory and one that I understand.'s always somewhat annoying to arrive 15-20 minutes early to get the seat you want and then have to move to one where you're flanked by humanity.
In my case, I always had another class across campus that I needed to attend and cover as a story so if I sat in the middle, it took forever to get out. (Then I'd be a latecomer hoping they'd move over!)
Plus, inevitably, the people taking seats on either side of me really liked wearing a lot of perfume or had just had onions for lunch.
It made it hard to focus and to breathe.
But, as the week wore on, I noticed the class bosses were losing patience.
They'd write on the chalkboard: "Sit In Center!"
They'd ask rather sternly, "Please move in! Now, please!"
And in a couple of instances, they said, "I'm noticing no one is moving! Hello?"
You'd think they were working with mobs of kids rather than with Gospel-fearing, mostly friendly adults.
But we all reacted pretty much the same.
We were comfortable.
We didn't want to move.
We prefer to make our own choices.
So we mostly stayed put and drove the volunteers crazy. It wasn't very mature of us.
Maybe if they'd offered mint brownies to anyone who followed their direction!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Party animals

What're you looking at?

Captive audience
We just had a party for the middle-younger grandkids.
(They are the ones between 4 and 10 who are willing to come bring their sleeping bags and "camp out" in the backyard with us. It works out to about 15 kids of various ages and gender.)
We cooked hot dogs. We made S'mores.
We painted T-shirts and we did little mosaic craft kits.We told stories and jokes and herded cats (well, maybe it just felt like it).
We pitched three tents and hid treasure.
Marc kept a campfire going.
We both kept kids from spearing one another with the hot dog sticks or from colliding in the dark.
But as hard as we worked, we couldn't really compete with the stars of this Grandma's Wild Animals event.
The skunk, the bearded lizard, the baby chinchillas, the hedgehog, the mini-pig, the cockatoo, the fox and the boa constrictor won out.
The kids loved them.
Some even petted and held them.
They asked about what the snake ate.
They giggled when the cockatoo showed off.
It was an interesting 90 minutes as Sarah Jacobsen from Wild Wonders brought in her cages and rescue animals.
She told us about each one, "Toothpick" is the hedgehog. "Tiny" is the boa constrictor who "just" ate three weeks ago and isn't hungry again yet. 
We watched her guide a blind pig around the blankets with a clicker.
We saw how she kept a firm hand on a Red fox with a white tail that really, really wanted to get down.
We laughed as the cocatoo flipped its feathers up and down and talked to us once she got safely back in her cage.
We ooed and ahhed over the fluffy little chinchillas. They were all soft and sweet.
Sarah's babies meet our babies
We slowly came to believe the skunk was not going to stink up the place or us.
Sarah came last year to my granddaughter's birthday party and so I borrowed the idea, asking her to come in all the way from Genola and bring everything but the hissing cockroaches.
It's a kind of magic all of its own.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Falling leaves...

I promised to post updates on how we're liking our new electric Leaf so here's the latest in my educational series.
We still like the car.
We enjoy being the owners of a Zero Emissions vehicle and we spar over whose turn it is to take it.
However, some of the realities are coming to light and I've made so much noise about the benefits of going all-electric that I need to share these things too.
First of all, our Nissan dealer who promised we could come by and get a Quick Charge any time we liked has a broken Quick Charger.
We stopped by the other day for a 15-minute boost and were dismayed to find only the Level 2 chargers working.
That meant we either could drive it back home on faith after our party in Provo OR come back and plug in for an hour or so.
That's not what the salesman promised us.
And we got an updated power bill which was about $40 more a month than it had been.
We'd been told to expect a higher bill "between $5-$20 higher" according to the salesman.
Rocky Mountain Power doesn't offer any cost breaks or perks for going electric. They seem to think we're funny to be asking.
It's OK because our gas bill has been cut almost in half.
And our car payment is half of what it was.
So we're motoring about quite contentedly and enjoying our purchase.
It feels groovy!
We are still getting used to the absolute quiet when we start it and we still find it funny to go out at night to "plug the car" in.
We have to honk to let people know we're coming up behind them.
And we haven't decided if we'll upgrade our outlet to a 220-volt or install our own Quick Charge unit.
The jury is still out on whether we made an overall good decision here or not.
But in the meantime, we're good, thanks.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Giddy up!

Ellie and Adell, Spartacus and Captain
We were surprised and happy to unexpectedly have two of our granddaughters stay the last couple of days of our Bear Lake vacation with us.
They're both 9 and they get along great even though they seldom get the chance to hang out together as one lives in Lehi and the other in Smithfield.
So we asked them what they would like to do on the one day we had to do something spectacular.
"Do you guys want us to rent the Jet-ski again or would you like to go horseback riding?" we asked them.
"Yeah! We want to do that!" they shouted.
"Which one?"
"Jet-ski! Ride horses!" they said together.
Marc and I looked at each other.
OK, we could break the bank this one time. How often would this opportunity come around and it's only money, right?
We called to make reservations for the horse ride for early afternoon.
The girls were thrilled.
We changed into swimsuits and went down to the beach to Jet-ski.
The fearless foursome
I took one ride at a moderate speed on a very calm lake reminding myself that my doctor had told me NOT to go on bumpy rides unless I wanted to jar the discs in my back and cause myself great pain.
We had lunch and headed to the Beaver Creek horse ride arena. We were the only ones there so we actually got a private ride up into the forest and over the creek and up and down small, shaded hills.
Adell and Ellie had horses that were supposed to behave. (Ellie's kept hanging back to chomp at the weeds and then he would trot rather briskly to catch up. To her credit, Ellie hung on just fine.
Adell's did what he was told most of the ride until he smelled water. At that point, he ignored the ride boss and stepped right off into the stream for a nice drink, taking us all with him!)
Marc and I were on horses that seemed to realize they had old folks on their backs and they better not scare us.
Mine kept stealing flowers from the trailside but mostly, I kept him under control and he didn't run away with me or buck me off.
I was all proud of myself for a while until the horse started down the hill at a fair clip.
Then I bounced around rather vigorously while trying to look like I was a competent horsewoman. (I didn't succeed at it.)
The next day I was wondering why my back hurt? I hadn't ridden the Jet-ski hard. I had done what my doctor told me except for maybe the horse ride...
Don't eat the flowers!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Shaking my booty...

Let's see, for my 64th birthday I only got a few things from my loving husband: a trip to Maui with two visits to the best restaurant in the world, a new electric car, and a pair of paniers for my bike.
I believe I made out like a bandit.
The new car, the old bike, new paniers, old me
The paniers were a total surprise even after I started getting notices that part of a shipment was at Wal-mart and another part coming.
I couldn't figure out what he had in mind since I hadn't been hinting for anything in particular.
In fact, I thought we had a deal.
We would each pick a place we wanted to travel to and go there this summer.
I wanted to go to Maui since my daughter highly recommended it and I like sun and sand and water.
He wants to go to the east coast to Washington D.C. and to the Smithsonian and stuff. (We're working on it.)
I knew my Mazda needed changing out since I had somehow run up 120,000 miles on my little roadster.
We looked a little before we left the mainland and after we saw "Leafs" everywhere we went in Maui, we came back considerably more interested.
So we decided THIS was my birthday present.
I couldn't see what else I needed.
My grandchildren had made me this hand-printed, colorful T-shirt.
I was happy.
Then came this box with a cage-like apparatus.
Marc explained that it goes on my bike to hold packages and burdens when I go cruising.
Next came this kind of purse that lays over the cage and straps down.
I slowly realized these were paniers, bags designed to help one bring home the groceries from the market.
I have frequently mentioned and thought that my bike riding could be more beneficial if I could haul home a loaf of bread from Great Harvest or a quart of milk from Fresh Market.
They're really quite handy.
So here's my's Marc's birthday today (July 6) and I'm not at all sure how to match him.
We haven't figured out his trip yet. We're still regrouping from Maui and a visit to Bear Lake.
I bought him a set of expensive knives that I gave him for Father's Day and a tomato knife that completes his kitchen set.
I "let" him go buy a new outdoor grill with his own hard-earned money and this morning I gave him a jar of Bear Lake Raspberry Rhubard jam and a hug.
Why do I feel I need to do something more?
Shall I get the travel agency lady on the phone?