Friday, July 19, 2019

Million Dollar Quartet impresses bigtime...

The four guys playing the parts of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins are not the only super impressive, extraordinarily talents actors on the stage at Hale Center Theater in Orem in the Million Dollar Quartet production.
The other two guys playing bass and drums and the recording company manager and Dyanne (played by Ashley Gardner Carlson on T/Th/S) are talented as well.
The whole show is thrilling and well done.
David Paul Smith absolutely rocks as Jerry Lee Lewis from his facial expression to his piano playing to his singing and his irrepressible sense of humor.
Michael D Potter makes a fine Elvis Presley and Colin Summers adds presence and depth in his role as Carl Perkins who never quite collected his due as performer although he wrote signature songs for Elvis and other greats.
Benjamin D. Hale is a marvelous Johnny Cash, sounding just like and looking like the famous man in black while maintaining a real man kind of character.
This is a production that gets a hold of an audience and flies away.
It's musically rich.
It's clever and funny and it tells the story of these iconic characters with heart and emotion.
Hale Center is fortunate to have gathered these performers together on one stage.
There's something magic about it.
(It plays through Aug. 3rd.)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

30 years and I have zucchini...

It's only been approximately 30 years (and what, how many complaints?) that we've been trying to grow a decent zucchini out back in the "garden along the fence" behind this house.
This year — drum roll please — Marc and I harvested the first zucchini big enough to eat.
We made Zucchini and Eggs with onion and garlic and oil.
It was delicious and represented years of moaning, groaning and cussing.
We kept planting zucchini seeds and plants from the nursery. We made hills. We used expensive soil. We watered.
Some years I let Marc water and the plants turned yellow and shriveled.
Other years we didn't know what happened.
One year I declared war on the earwigs as I watched them eat the leaves.
This year I told Marc to leave the zucchini alone, no watering it, no talking to it, no checking it daily to see if it was alive.
I rejoiced the day we found an actual vegetable where there had previously been a big yellow flower.
I worried when the one we were celebrating started to curl up.
I became angry with it and told it to shape up.
I pruned off the sickly.
I paced.
Then yesterday, two of the babies became full-grown fruit of the vine.
We plucked them, washed them and sauted them.
(I have a recipe from a friend who used to bring me some of her garden bounty along with the recipe.)
I dug it out and Marc chopped.
We still don't understand our garden. We kind of get whatever we are lucky enough to keep alive. We can always grow a few peas and our herbs do well.
Marc finally has a single peony plant.
We are still battling the water wars though we've sort of declared a truce.
(Marc thinks more water is always the answer. I'm convinced that drowning a plant that had been forgotten the day before is a mistake.)
We realize high heat is bad and so is poor soil.
We believe in weeding and feeding but even with the odd success, we'll never be on the list of gardens that people should come and see.
But for today, for now, we're pretty happy and surprised.
If you want the recipe, we'll share.
Just be aware, it may take 30 years to grow the main ingredient.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Zip it...

We wanted to do something different for Memorial Day.
We usually barbecue with some family or go for a bike ride.
This year we didn't have a fixed plan so I looked around for an adventure.
Sundance had a two-for-one Zip Line deal so I checked it out.
For the usual $120 for one, both of us could go.
It looked like fun. something new and out in nature.
There are five segments of zip and it promised to be good weather.
Marc and I have done zip lines before so it didn't scare me.
(In Mexico, it was only scary when the line shook and the workers shouted out "Grande!" when Marc came down.)
It didn't occur to me that maybe I would be asking too much of my recovering left shoulder.
My rotator cuff surgery was clear back in December and I'd been faithfully going to physical therapy for months. My manipulation surgery was much simpler and I felt pretty good about my range-of-motion.
We prepared for the day, anticipating cool temperatures at the top of the lift and wearing thermals, good shoes, jackets and helmets.
We paid our money, signed our waivers and boarded the ski-lift up to the top of the mountain.
The employees packed our backpacks with the equipment that would hook onto the line.
We headed up, up and more up.
When we reached the top, they told us we would do a short 100-foot demo ride to get us prepared.
The girl clipped me on.
There was kind of a wedge thing that I had to hold onto and pull down.
I tried it.
It didn't move.
I tried harder and with both arms.
It still didn't move.
Oh dear.
It seems my arm strength hasn't returned.
I couldn't make it go. I was literally in limbo.
"Sorry, you'll have to come back," said the girl. "This is why we do this first. If you can't hold it down, you don't go."
I realized later that it's a good thing to fail at the demo run because if I got going on the real zip line and got tired, I would stop and be stuck up there somewhere scary for who knows how long.
I told my 5-year-old grandson about it later.
His eyes got really big.
"Grandma!" he said, "You would have been hung up there!"
Sundance is now holding my ticket for a future attempt. If I work out a lot I can try again.
In the meantime, I'm safe on the ground and I'm just celebrating that I didn't get further than I did.
Marc had a great time. I saw him flash by and met him at the bottom after I rode the lift back down.
He says I ought to try it.
It'd be fun!!!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Psst! Don't tell Mia

The fashion place

The doll caddy grandpa
Marc and I have been keeping a secret from our soon-to-be 8-year-old granddaughter.
We've been playing with dolls or rather a dolly caddy for Mia's American Girl doll.
It seems Mia has realized her doll clothes are in a closet that's way too big for the clothes and they end up getting mashed at the floor of the closet.
The underlying structure
I keep making her more clothes and her sisters keep giving her outfits for every occasion so the wardrobe has grown.
Marc and I decided to help her out by finding or buying or (in this case) building her a closet of the right size.
Marc is a Pinterest guy so he found a perfect closet constructed of fabric and PVC pipe.
We just had to build it.
I can sew.
Marc had a hacksaw and a measuring tape.
We ordered a pattern for $5.
When it arrived few minutes later (on the Internet), we went to work.
We went fabric shopping. (Marc loves it among the bolts and thread!)
The pieces ready to go
He bought a length of PVC pipe and glue.
The Tinker Toys
I looked at the pattern and tried to decipher how big to cut the pieces. When I couldn't figure it out, I e-mailed "Tilda" for help. "How big is the main side piece?" I asked.
She wrote back. "I don't know. I can't see what you are looking at!"
We figured it out and went to work.
It was fun. I was cutting and stitching. Marc was sawing and playing with the pipes like so many Tinkertoys.
Finally came the day when we could put it all together.
Things fit.
We found little hangers we could cut to size.
I made dividers so the shoes could be kept separate from the tops and skirts.
It's exactly what we wanted to create.
It should delight Mia.
The only problem is her birthday is still weeks away and I literally can't wait.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Coming round the mountain....

The layout at the tracks

A pop-up village in the desert
The Jupiter and the 119 meet face-to-face May 10, 2019

We knew we were taking on history, crowds and some adventure when we bought parking tickets (for $20) at the Promontory Point Visitor's Site (now a park) for the 150 Golden Spike anniversary celebration.
We packed on paper for weeks, loaded the cooler with ice, drinks, sandwiches and snacks. We took our hats, our sunscreen, camp chairs, umbrellas and jackets.
We left at 7 a.m. to make the journey to Box Elder County and dutifully got in line with 16,000 other people when we came in sight of the site.
We became part of a convoy of cars that stretched for the last 20 miles from Highway U-83 to the stage where tents, RVs, displays, teepees and food carts were set up.
Officers were keeping track of the traffic. If you didn't have the little parking pass paper, you were sent back with no apology.
We made it, parked and found a place to park our chairs on the downside of the tracks.
It was bustling. People everywhere, many in period clothes, long coats, top hats, bonnets and bustles.
We settled in to hear the music and stories and tributes about the arduous, courageous effort it took to bring the two railroads together, effectively bringing the American states together at the same time.
It was fun to hear the story of the two rail companies competing to reach the ending point first. They worked so hard and furiously that the tracks for the Jupiter Train and the No. 119 actually passed one another for 250 miles before they agreed on a meeting point.
Irishman, freed slaves and about 15,000 Chinese did most of the backbreaking work on the Central Pacific tracks that came 1,085 miles from Sacramento, Calif., to the crews laying 690 miles of rail for Union Pacific from Omaha, Nebraska. (Mormon men did the grading).
They had to lay track in the hot sun, the cold rain, the frozen snow and heavy dust. They had to blast through solid rock and move enough dirt by hand to fill in the areas that dipped too far down for a train to run.
They had to find a way to get through solid granite.
Sometimes they had to build roofs over the tracks in order to work in the falling snow.
They laid an impressive average of 7 miles a day with the record set at 10 miles in one day toward the end!
At the celebratory event, high-ranking officials like the governor and legislators tried to drive the final spikes to commemorate the work: a gold spike for California, a copper spike from Utah, an iron spike from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The men trying to drive them in missed both times just like it happened in real history. (Apparently, the workers learned the art of hitting the spikes just right with the mallet.)
It was an incredible feat that marked a discernable change in American history and economy and accessibility.
It was moving and sobering.
It cost the Native Americans dearly as the railroad tracks crossed sacred lands and ate up beautiful, previously remote and barren areas.
Buffalo herds were harvested without conscience to clear the way for the trains.
The Chinese who worked tirelessly for the railroad were ultimately denied immigration rights to the United States.
May 10, 1869, is a date that clearly deserves remembering.
I thought my husband was a little obsessive to want to be a part of the party and drive all that way for it.
But it actually was invigorating and renewing.
I have a new appreciation for the price paid by peoples I've never met or heard of before.


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A Star is Born...

We all knew Emma had tremendous talent.
She's been playing the violin since she could stand and she's been winning honors for years for her performances.
She could read when she was three and has no fear of appearing on stage or in public.
But when she opened the Alpine Community Theater's Lion King Jr. show Monday, I was stunned with her confidence, her ability, the notes and her command of the stage.
She had the role of Rafiki down cold.
This is a young girl who has only been in acting for a couple of years, first as a pirate and last year with a role where she sang a small solo (also a surprise).
None of us were prepared for this metamorphosis.
She owned the part, singing with heart and gusto.
We were all blown away.
This girl doesn't usually talk a lot when we go places.
She chooses her words carefully and smiles more than she chats.
Small talk isn't generally her thing.
So when she came out singing like she'd been in front of an audience for her whole life we all dropped our jaws.
It's marvelous.
It's wonderful.
And we are so very impressed.
It's great to be her grandmother!
(Lion King Jr. is on stage for a few more days at the Valentine Theater. Emma is in the Grassland cast.)

Saturday, April 6, 2019

An exciting night...

When we told Marc's oldest daughter we were traveling to the Great Basin National Park over Spring Break, she said, "Why would you want to go there? There's nothing there!"
We told her we wanted to visit the Lehman Caves, that we'd never seen it and wanted to visit more of America's national parks in our retirement years.
To do this, we had to plan a fairly lengthy road trip down through Delta and into a teeny tiny town called Baker.
On the internet, we found a roadside inn that charged a reasonable amount and booked it.
When we pulled up to the place, however, I was a bit taken aback.
It was literally four rooms on the side of the highway.
The manager gave us our key and showed us our room.
Double beds. That's good.
Fresh towels. Also good.
Not so good, the bathroom was a shower and comode with a sink and mirror outside the room. And the shower head leaked and sprayed all over. The hot water wouldn't get hot.
There was an ancient furnace unit in the wall, no thermostat anywhere, a closet cut into the wall.
We deposited our luggage and went to eat at one of the only places available.
When we came back Marc tried to encourage the furnace to heat up the room.
We asked for blankets and tried to settle in, watching TV on the tiny set provided. We shut the curtains.
It was about then we noticed a smell that I recognized as obnoxious, a smell that prompted me to return a bedroom set of furniture from China a couple of years ago.
I tried to ignore it and go to sleep — which worked well until about 4 a.m. when the carbon monoxide monitor went off with a shriek!
"Warning! Carbon Monoxide! Warning!" said the alarm.
We looked at the furnace. Could it be the problem? Were we in danger?
Marc finally disabled the alarm and pulled out the batteries which we figured were about dead. That would explain the malfunction.
Yeah, sure, that was the problem.
We tried to go back to sleep.
In the morning, we left a note and asked the owners to call us.
When they did, the guy apologized and then said, "Our propane guy told us it was clogged up and dusty. That may have been the problem."
What? So it could have been a real alarm? What?
"I'll refund half of the cost of staying with us," said the owner. "Then if you want to stay here again, we'll be friends."
I don't think so, thanks.