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?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Think pink

A lot of little girls were all dressed up in pink for the opening show for young audiences at the SCERA Monday night.
Everywhere you looked there were pink tights, pink hair ribbons, pink coats and tops and pink frilly skirts.
My own granddaughter was pink from head to toe and grinning at the prospect of seeing the "Pinkalicious" play.
"I love Pinkalicious 'cause she's always pink!" declared 6-year-old Hannah as she settled into her seat. "I hope she does a good job!"
Hannah has been to a few plays before and a couple of magic shows at the SCERA so she knew kind of what to expect: music, lights and action (and a movie meal).
In "Pinkalicious" she got the story of a little girl so focused on eating "one more" pink cupcake that she eventually discovers she's turning pink.
She is thrilled until she finds that she blends in with the big, pink flowers at the park and the bees and butterflies won't leave her alone.
She is dismayed to find she has to eat green foods now to counteract the "Pinkitis" she has.
Since she's a fairly indulged child, she resists the doctor's orders with a constant stream of "Nos!"
It's funny and lively.
Hannah thought Pinkalicious was going to get in trouble and Pinkalicious (played by Julie Nevin) does.
She also finds out that she needs to compromise if she's going to avoid turning from pink to red and worse. (What's worse than red?)
Meanwhile her brother is jealous of all the attention going to Pinkalicious. He likes pink too.
The father in the story has a fondness for pink as well, something he's hidden because it was not socially acceptable when this story was written and because he was among the first to get Pinkitis.
The mother just doesn't know what to do beyond fixing all kinds of green shakes and brussel sprout burgers.
Somehow the story moves to dealing with the fact that the family never does anything or goes anywhere which seems kind of random but that's all right. The moral to the story seems pretty clear: Vary your choices?
The whole show is fairly silly but colorful, fun and just right for a pink audience who have all read the books.
Hannah loved it.

The tiny pink cupcakes shared afterward were just icing on a pink treat.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I really need to give RC Willey its due.
Crafted by the Amish
They came through on the whole Chinese chest of drawers thing and they deserve some credit.
We now have a new dresser and nightstand made by Daniel the Amish carpenter. It doesn't smell bad. In fact, it has a nice woodsy aroma instead of a chemical stink.
I told the store salesman in Orem my story and he led me around and around the store until I found what I wanted for the price I wanted to pay. It took some time as my husband can testify to my picky nature.
The new pieces almost exactly match the credit the store gave me for the stinky pieces we had bought earlier.
Then they gave me $200 off and a set of king-size 600-count sheets.
A sweet stand
They came and took away the old pieces and hauled in the new ones.
The salesman also said they would probably be shipping the whole line of furniture back to China where it came from. (Good idea!)
I'm what one would call a satisfied customer.
They listened to me.
They took my concerns seriously.
They dealt with me straight on although it had to be confusing and frustrating for them since I bought the smelly stuff in one store and exchanged it in another and left two salespeople having to divide their commission.
I'm now busily washing everything that spent any time in the stinky drawers but that's OK.
It's just nice to know some businesses still take care of the customer.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


The offending furniture
The chest of drawers and the bureau in our bedroom has been with us forever.
It's probably been more than 40 years since they've been replaced.
I decided this was the year and Marc was relieved. Turns out he's always disliked them so when we had a free afternoon we went to the new RC Willey store in Draper.
We were "just looking" to see what was available and what we could expect in the way of cost.
Of course, the nice lady who helped us hung in there and after she showed us two floors of merchandise and chests with little hidden drawers and surprise secret lights, we bought a pair of matched Chateau pieces.
We ponied up for their "free" delivery and set a date.
Meanwhile we hustled to clean out the old stuff, rearrange and give them away.
Once they arrived, I was pretty pumped.
I could arrange all my earrings and such in the hidden, velvet-lined drawer and we had space for sweaters, shirts. It was great.
Until...I noticed that clothes from the new bureau drawers smelled funny, sort of musty and odd.
I assumed it was because they had been stored in our old furniture for too many decades so I washed everything, twice.
Then I tried on a sweater I'd forgotten I owned and tried to wear it out of the house. It itched and bugged me until I took it off.
Every time I opened the secret drawer for my jewelry I noticed the strange smell.
I was becoming concerned.
We'd spent a lot of money on this stuff and I wasn't liking it.
I couldn't quite decide how bothered I was.
I tried Febreze. I put soap chips in the drawer with sweaters. I brought up a plant to live nearby.
I opened windows and left the drawers open.
I looked online to see if this was common.
The littler one
Apparently there is a problem known as new furniture smell that can come from something being made in China with formaldehyde as a fixative. It's a major toxic component and is known to be carcinogenic.
According to some reports China is dumping a lot of this kind of furniture on the United States.
I contacted RC Willey. The guy there said he's never heard of this happening but he'll do a swap-out in a couple of days.
That seemed a little extreme as the answer but he said it's possible that the problem is real.The thing is, the small chest is fine. It's just the bigger one that stinks.
So today I'm emptying out the drawers and sniffing around to see if I'm crazy or what.
What do those of you who know me think?
Crazy wins, huh?
P.S. It turns out I'm not crazy. The guys loading the chest and nightstand to swap out called us and said they stank too. The store then called and offered a full refund. Now I just have to figure out how to NOT buy more furniture from China....