Monday, April 20, 2015

A model citizen

Fashionistas all!
I've been bored a bit since Marc's play ("Guys and Dolls" at the SCERA until May 9) moved into final rehearsals and opening week.
One can only do so much cleaning and organizing and weed-pulling during the long evening and weekend hours.
So when I saw this little notice about a Style show at Christopher & Banks I was interested.
The ad said they wanted models. It didn't say anything about knowing what you're doing.
I called and got on the list and arranged a fitting.
On the catwalk
They said to just come in and pick out what I wanted to wear. I went in and sort of bumped my way around until I had a couple of outfits I liked with jewelry to match. I had the run of the store.
The clerks were friendly and helpful now and then.
No one seemed to be taking the whole thing very seriously.
They didn't worry about my crazy hair or lack of professional makeup or if I had the shoes to match the outfit.
Then when I came back for the big show, it was still pretty low-key.
Nobody was worrying much about the end result.
They didn't run us through the line-up or talk to us much about posture and hand placement.
I was both relieved and concerned.
Shouldn't they be more stressed?
Shouldn't there be some guidelines here?
As it turned out, it was all good.
A bunch of us came together on a Saturday morning and found our clothes all steamed and bagged for us.
We dressed. We lined up.
We walked through the store trying to look confident and casual and a lady took our pictures at the end.
It was a mild sort of fun and a different way to spend part of a Saturday.
Plus, speaking of spending, we all got 40 percent off our outfits.
I had a good time and I saved Marc about $200!

When you've got it...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The end of life as we know it

In our house, we're coming to a crossroads.
We are saying goodbye to TV as we know it.
Dish Network has finally pushed the price up beyond what we can pay and we don't trust DirectTV (our relationship with them is a whole 'nother story) so we're going to go without a safety net to a new plan.
We're trying to see if we can make it with Netflix and the local channels.
My daughter actually inspired us when they bought a Roku and dropped their cable.
My step-daughter has never had anything different and hasn't suffered.
It's going to be interesting considering Marc and I grew up in a time when TV was exciting and free.
We never thought we'd be paying for TV.
And we're slightly aghast to find ourselves paying a lot!
It's especially aggravating because the Dish salesman swooped in a while ago and promised to cut our bill in half.
He said we'd be happy and save money.
That lasted about a month or so and the bill's been climbing ever since their guys came and ripped out the old satellite to replace it with a new, mega-size, satellite.
We decided to break free and we've been just sailing along waiting for our contract to be up.
The problem is I've become used to the DVR feature.
I like not having to be in the house for a particular show because I know it's being recorded for later.
I'll have to get used to watching my favorites on delay.
We've been preparing ourselves psychologically for a few weeks now.
"Is this a channel we'll still get?" I ask Marc now and then.
"What will happen to Conference? Will I be able to find the news I like to watch?"
We started in one toe at a time.
We bought a DVD/Blu-Ray player for $45 because the old one was broken and we'd need it anyway.
We bought a flat, wall antenna for $70 with the provision that we could take it back.
We ordered Netflix.
We've alerted Dish Network.
Now we just got the convertor box our TV seems to need to do this. Another $40.
We're going to try it all out tonight and, if it works, we're on our way to saving money...any minute now, yep.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Eggsactly right

The Easter Bunny's sweat shop

Easter is always hard on my brain.
We try to host "Grandma's Easter Egg Hunt" every year and with the blending of two families and 33+ grandkids, the math is too difficult for me.
I start out thinking it'll be no biggie...Just make a list and check it twice. Buy candy and lots of little plastic egg-shaped containers and it'll be fine. Start early and it'll be fine. (Say "It'll be fine" over and over again.)
But it quickly involves multiplication and division.
We want the hunt to be worth attending so each child should be looking for a dozen or so candy-filled eggs, right?
So if we have 33 walking kids, minus those who'll be away on vacation and those who are too grown to participate or those who'll be at gymnastic meets, that leaves 20.
Twenty times 12 is...uh, let me get my calculator.
Add in the babies and the bigger kids who will be assisting the Easter Bunny in the hiding...divide by the ones who need their eggs early.
And how much candy will it take to fill approximately 200 eggs?
Every bag is maybe good for 20-30 eggs? How will I know when I have enough?
The bunnies are easy. One for each basket — but I need to remember to buy baskets and make sure I have enough pink ones for the girls who only want pink. Is yellow with flowers OK for the boys?
How do I make it fair candy-wise?
Hours of endless fun
Put the same amount into each egg so no matter what they all get similar bounties?
What about variety?
And what if they don't all like the same things?
Oh well, I end up putting about half a dozen things in each egg and slamming them shut...unless the marshmellow bunnies won't fit.
It always goes from a slam-dunk to a major assembly line operation.
I lay out little rows of eggs and count and count.
I make Marc come count too because somehow I end up at the hunt wondering if I miscounted when somebody can only find eight instead of 12.
It's not the world's biggest problem, I know.
And I'm aware that the point of Easter is to celebrate God's greatest gift to the world. That's what it's all about.
It's going to be fine. I know that.
But it sure would be nice to get this right.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Running water

Utah is known for voluntarism and for love of family and for selflessness.
So why would people walk by a disaster scene and not help?
I found the question nagging at me after I watched the film "The Evanescence of Hope" at the 2015 LDS Film Festival, shot and produced by Loren M. Lambert.
Seems Mansour Ariazand had gone hiking on Father's Day a couple of years ago and tried to jump across a swollen mountain stream. He missed and couldn't get a grip on the slick, wet other side and was swept into the icy, cold water in Bells Canyon, down and over three different waterfalls.
Why he wasn't killed outright was a miraculous thing in itself.
Then when Jill Caree Anderson and Brynn Mudliar, and a couple nearby noticed him stuck between a rock and a tree branch, that was more than fortunate. Not only did Suzanne Jansen have training in CPR but Anderson and Mudliar were former flight attendants trained to stay calm in dangerous situations.
They were also willing to risk their own lives for a stranger.
They waded in and grabbed his head, holding his face above water so he could breathe. They ripped apart the clothing he wore that bound him to a big log poised to tip over and on down to the next waterfall. They stood and knelt and shivered in the icy water for more than two hours.
Ultimately they kept Ariazand alive until more help could come for him and them. Alone, they couldn't pull him from where he was wedged in the fiercely flowing water.
(First a rescue helicopter couldn't help with the equipment rescue personnel had on board. Secondly, another helicopter couldn't land where Ariazand was but had to find a spot further away which required personnel to hike back to help.)
It took time. It took patience and faith.
Meanwhile, those first on the scene were hollering for more people to come help them hold on.
Able-bodied hikers were all around and near them.
Some watched from a ways off.
One or two filmed the scene with their phones.
Some called 9-1-1.
On the film, Anderson asked what was wrong with people...why did no one else help? What was going on?
I've tried to figure this riddle out.
Did they think the situation was under control?
Did they think it was a training exercise?
Did people figure they would only make matters worse?
Would I wade into freezing cold water to try and help even though I'm old and can't swim?
I hope so.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Making a new friend

I parted with an old friend this past weekend.
I handed over my cute, little, not-so-smart phone to the Verizon store so they could give it to a women's shelter.
It has been a good friend, reliable and kind.
My baby toy
I could count on my phone to accept and make phone calls. I had a little pull-out keyboard on which I learned to text and spell badly. (Never could get my fingers to hit the right keys.)
It wasn't very impressive as cell phones go but I loved it.
I had even bought a 25-cent flowery case to dress it up.
But my husband had better things in mind for me. He was convinced that I needed a smart phone and that I would love it once I had one.
Our contract was up with our carrier and Marc's phone was misbehaving so off we went to "look."
Now I have a jazzier, more modern iPhone 5s and I'm having to learn new skills, new ways to navigate to do what I want.
It isn't enough to find the phone when it's ringing inside my purse.
I have to "slide to unlock" it and start listening.
When I'm done, I hit the orange phone.
At least, I think that is what I do.
I'm having a hard time.
There are all sorts of buttons and apps that beckon to me, all kinds of things to deal with.
I sit down when I have a minute and try to get acquainted but I get lost or stuck pretty quickly. (So far I can play Jenga and the girl at Hobby Lobby helped me find my 40-percent-off coupon.)
The snazzier, jazzier
Marc keeps telling me it's easy and I'm going to love it once I get used to it.
I guess I really have no choice in the matter.
I can either adapt or pay for an expensive toy that I don't know how to play with properly.
In the meantime, I miss my familiar friend.
I miss the keyboard. I miss knowing what to do when someone leaves me a message or calls in while I'm already on the line.
I feel oddly alone.
I sometimes wish I could just hit speed dial and phone home.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Shake and shiver

The repairman was shaking his head.
All around him were parts of our furnace, purchased and installed just eight years ago for a mighty sum.
For some reason it had stopped doing its thing, maybe because it's been so warm this winter it doesn't feel needed.
I noticed something off on Thursday night when we came in the house and it wasn't annoying me.
The last few weeks it seemed the furnace was running all the time, ever since we had it fixed the end of December.
I was actually glad not to have it working away during the night.
But I also noticed a funny, burning smell like a candle or a match had been lit.
I checked around and didn't find anything so I didn't worry unduly.
However, the next morning I noticed the temperature was down even though we keep our thermostat at a constant number.
I went upstairs to check the upper thermostat. Low.
I came back downstairs to check the lower one. Low also.
Marc said we'd get free service checks now that we'd signed up for yearly maintenance so I called the heating and cooling folks.
"$75 to come out and do a diagnostic," said the girl on the phone cheerfully. "Your plan only discounts the labor by 15 percent."
I agreed to a time.
The man came out.
I walked him in and said, kind of bashfully, "It doesn't seem to be coming on like it should. And it smells a little funny."
He shook his head and walked into the furnace room. I was pretty sure I was making this up.
He lifted off the panel and took a peek.
"Well, the blower is not working. That's a problem," he said.
"And, you're right, it's not giving you any heat."
He pulled out a little cradle thing and showed me a burnt area like when a light bulb burns out.
"Here's your problem..."
He explained that a module has burnt out. No reason it should. Nothing to be done to prevent it.
It would cost $450 plus labor.
"I don't suppose you have proof of warranty?" he said, dialing up the office at the same time.
I went to my files. I started searching.
Just as I returned, the office verified that indeed we had a warranty.
I had sent in the funny little paper that often comes with these things, the funny little paper that often seems like a waste of a stamp.
"Ah, ha!" We save the $450.
That's the good news. The bad news is we're without a working furnace until Monday afternoon.
What do you think the odds are that Utah will come out of this warm spell today or tomorrow?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Double trouble

Which is the crazy one?
In our family, we have a couple of really courageous parents.
Brian and Erin are not ones to let complicated circumstances slow them down.
Besides having a pair of Energizer Bunny boys, they have a year-old baby girl and a 9-year-old daughter.
Yet they go skiing every week at Beaver Mountain.
One takes the morning.
Then they switch off at lunchtime and the other one takes the afternoon. (The baby rides over from home and back in the car every Saturday and holiday.)
That means these little guys are skiing with abandon at 5 years of age.
They can race down the hills and even do the terrain hill. They don't jump but they go up and down.
They have no fear and plenty of enthusiasm.
They can get on and off the lift (with a little help) and they can travel through the trees at high speed without problem.
The problem is, grandpa can't.
Marc went with them on Monday and tried to keep up.
He was pretty much with them until one decided to cut through the trees where his skis fit just fine.
Marc's long skis didn't and it was icy.
He had a hard time. He fell. He hollered. He had to offer candy to keep them from doing that again.
Then one twin dropped a pole.
The other one slipped off the seat of the lift just as it was departing and the lady in the next chair had to take him up with her.
Another time, one took off his skis and left them behind without noting exactly where. It took a while to find them.
By the time Marc got home he was spent.
But he'd had the most glorious day and couldn't say enough about how fun it was to watch these small skiers go.
I listened to his stories and marveled.
Who's going to grow up with great self-esteem?