Monday, September 11, 2017

Keep telling me a story...

The 2017 Timpanogos Storytelling Festival is over and I'm sad.
I've just started to expect to spend my days listening to stories about Esther Agra trying to wiggle out of a speeding ticket with an innocent grin and the excuse that she doesn't speak the English and about Bil Lepp trying to stay atop Diablo the devil horse.
My face hurts from laughing.
I find myself going around with images burned in my brain of Ed Stivender as a dancing man and Sam Payne trying to impress the girl in Camelot with his Lancelot song.
It's magical and real.
I've gone to some of the festival every year for nearly the last 30 years and usually written a section cover story about one or two of the storytellers.
I've seen the festival grow from an event held in Karen Ashton's backyard in Orem to an event attended by thousands.
Ed Stivender
I've become a serious fan of tellers like Carmen Agra Deedy (with the Cuban fast talking speeding mother) and Donald Davis who makes a trip down the Grand Canyon on a mule an unforgettable terror ride.
Donald Davis
My grandchildren all know the stories I have on tape.
They know Davis by sight and sound.
(This year when the teacher in his story caught and killed a mouse, they all gasped. He had them immersed in the story of Miss Daisy and their adventures as they traveled the world in her fourth grade class. They also knew not to cross a teacher who wasn't afraid of a mouse.)
There's no real way to tell non-believers about the storytelling festival.
I heard a guy trying to describe it to his friend over the phone.
"Yes, they tell stories but it's more than that," he said, clearly having trouble conveying what it means to hear stories that move you, make you laugh and make you cry.
I can listen to Carmen Deedy talk about babysitting her grandson and I know why she crawls up in the crib with him and then can't get out.
I hear the funny, small voice Catherine Conant uses when she tells the police officer she is the daughter of the guy who sold him his house and I travel back in time to when I sped in my father's Impala between Idaho Falls and Pocatello.
Their stories bond us.
We who are listening travel through time to when we were kids and when we were in trouble or in love or simply growing up.
We've all been there and it's sweet to go there again.
For a good one of Donald check You Tube.

Friday, September 1, 2017

A child can do this...

The little girl on the You Tube video makes the trick look easy.
She lights a match, drops it into a bottle, caps the bottle with a boiled egg and woosh! The egg is sucked into the bottle.
"It's working! It's working!" cries the child as the egg wiggles and starts to sink.
Looked doable to me.
So I boiled an egg, got a bottle and invited my granddaughter over to try to make some magic with me.
Adell was interested and since she had a magic birthday party coming up, it seemed like a good idea to try it out.
We were truly innocents.
Turns out it matters whether your egg is sufficiently boiled and peeled.
The bottle opening has to be just right, not too small and not too large.
The bottle had to be completely dry.
At first we tried a glass bottle (actually a vase) but it didn't provide the sufficient volume of displaced air.
We tried a larger plastic bottle which worked once but the next time, the bottle sank in on itself with the egg inside.
We learned to light paper to drop into the bottle with enough paper burning to suck up the oxygen in the bottle.
We learned to do this without burning our fingers.
We had two successful tries with one egg completely sucked in and another sucked halfway before we assumed it was done. Then with a whoop, the rest went in.
We think we've got it down now.
It's just a little hard to count on it and I've gone through more than a few eggs in our attempts.
I've also dug out a few destroyed eggs so I could reuse the bottle.
The magic party is tomorrow and I'm holding my breath.
Anybody know a spell that guarantees a success?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Probing questions

The last time we were at the Space Center Marc launched an authorized probe.
I was in the control center watching the background action when the guys in charge noticed it.
They were curious about why he would launch one when the captain hadn't asked for it.
I've been teasing him since then.
He's always liked buttons and dials and knobs. He plays with whatever there is on the car dash.
I think it's one reason he likes computers and iPhones. There's always something to push or turn.
Put him in front of a panel with options and he can't help himself.
He fiddles.
So when I was assigned to be science officer in charge of probes and interior scans, I found it challenging but I figured I could behave myself.
I sat next to Marc.
He showed me the probes.
They were cool.
I could send out a scientific probe, a defensive probe or one that simply gathered general information from space.
I could collect chemical data, take a soil sample, blow up things.
I had no idea.
I tried to interest our captain in my probes.
"Not now," he said as he had his hands full with things that mattered more.
I bided my time as others on the bridge rushed around protecting the bridge, firing phasers and torpedoes, talking to aliens and the onboard computer.
"Would you like me to launch a probe?" I asked a couple times. "How about now?"
When I was waiting for permission, I tried launching one just so I would know how to do that when the time came.
(It takes time to put the proper probe together and I wanted to be ready.)
We were in the middle of a crisis when the computer said, "Someone has launched a probe that has damaged the station wall. The damage will need to be repaired.")
Then one of the crew came over to tell me I owed 10,000 kronar for the damages.
I was mortified.
Marc started laughing.
One granddaughter wrote in her log about grandma being the one who launched a probe. She thinks it's pretty funny. 
I think I understand things a little better now.

Monday, August 21, 2017

And then there were two...

We love the quail who live in and around our house.
I like the bobbing heads and the little flippy feathers on the male's heads.
I find them a fun kind of bird.
We do our best to protect them from roaming cats and dive bombing hawks.
Every year we delight when the baby quail hatch and we come upon a mother quail scrambling to get her little family back in under the bushes where they apparently roost.
We find them on the sidewalk in the mornings and out back in the herb plants in the evenings.
We try not to upset or harass them.
This year, however, we kept surprising them when we came out of our garage.
When the garage door would go up, they would panic.
One day, they scurried about and several of the nine chicks ran back into the garage, behind our garbage can.
I worried about them getting stuck inside and not being able to figure out how to get out.
So when I returned from an errand, I pulled the garage can out.
Sure enough, there was a frantic little chick back there trying to hide.
He went behind a piece of cardboard I had behind the can.
I moved the cardboard and he ran out, fortunately toward the open door and freedom.
I thought he was the only one.
But the next day, Marc found a lifeless baby bird on the cement, then another.
I guess they had hidden deeper inside and died for lack of food and water.
Then I found some fluff and tiny feathers on the walk.
We're assuming a hawk had a snack.
Now when I see the mother quail I can only count two chicks. Who knows what happened to the other four?
Life in our yard is obviously a dangerous life for a quail.
I'm not sure how to protect them, how to ensure they live long enough to grow up.
At this juncture, I can only cross my fingers and consider posting "No Trespassing" signs around our yard.
Maybe I should buy a BB gun and fence off the garage door.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The proper sun glasses

Marc called it.
I was reading about the line of people that snaked around the block from the Clark Planetarium. They bought 21,000 pairs of Eclipse glasses Wednesday.
The planetarium staff expected they would run out today.
I had heard about the recall on the glasses supplied to the grocery stores and how no one could trust any of the glasses unless they were from the planetarium.
I had checked around for some in Springville and Provo and had no luck.
I now really wanted a good pair.
I have stood in lines for less important things like Cabbage Patch dolls and Elsa dolls.
So why wouldn't I stand in line for proper eclipse glasses?
"You're going up to Salt Lake, aren't you?" Marc said.
It was only about 8:30.
I glanced at the clock, calculating my journey.
I could get up there easily by 9:30 and still have time for my other errands and plans for the day.
I went in and dressed.
Marc grinned and went off to work.
When I arrived at the planetarium it was 9:47. The doors were scheduled to open at 10:30 a.m.
There was already a line of people from the door back about 200 feet.
I joined them, realizing quickly that I should have planned a little better.
I needed an umbrella, water and sunscreen.
I also could have used a camp chair and a full bag of makeup to apply while waiting like the lady in front of me.
A guy came out and started warning the crowd. "We only have enough glasses for 700 transactions," he said. "And we're asking you to limit your purchase to five per family."
He went on to explain that he couldn't open the doors early as it wouldn't be fair to people arriving at 10:30.
(I didn't really get the logic behind that decision as the people who arrived at 10:30 would be out of luck anyway.)
As it was, by the time I was handed a ticket for purchase as buyer #82, the line went down the street and came back around and down the street toward the Gateway Mall.
The man handing out tickets was spending a lot of his time telling people where to go to get information on making pinhole cameras.
I eventually was allowed inside the building and allowed to buy my glasses.
People around me in line were offering to buy any glasses I might not need and I was gaining a new understanding of supply and demand dynamics.
As it is, I'm keeping my glasses out of sight until Monday at 11:30.
They are in the safe.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Four-footed BFF

Eight-year-old Hannah is in love.
Her new BFF has shiny red hair and a glossy mane.
She also has a gentle temperment.
She and Hannah get along great. They're already best buds after getting together once.
Unfortunately "Tess" lives in Bear Lake County at the Beaver Creek Lodge.
Hannah will only get to see her maybe once a year.
We took several granddaughters to ride into the forest on our last trip to Bear Lake.
We rode along calmly into the pine trees and the brush, trying in vain to keep the horses from nibbling on the weeds as we went.
Tess was a little lower to the ground which made Hannah more comfortable since Hannah is not very big or tall.
She walked along with an even gait so Hannah didn't bounce.
When the other horses trotted to catch up to the leader, Tess just kept a steady, even pace.
As it was Hannah's first time on a real horse ride (The ponies who go round and round at Thanksgiving Point don't count, apparently), she was very happy to have a peaceful ride.
My horse and the ones that Adell and Ellie were riding liked to change things up now and then by breaking into a trot.
Mine liked to walk up right up against the trees on the trail, forcing me to try and push him over and away or lose some skin on my leg.
All of the horses liked the mountain stream where they could plunge in and take a long, cool drink.
The ride is a good one.
The scenery is gorgeous and we enjoyed being out in the green and the sunshine.
However, it's a little hard on the legs when you only ride once a year.
I was happy to return to the starting point and climb down to the ground.
So was Marc.
We were feeling like bow-legged oldsters. We headed for the car and the air conditioning.
The girls, especially Hannah, lingered back with horses, patting their heads and rubbing their necks.
Hannah was telling Tess good-bye, not sure she'd ever see her again.
She had tears in her eyes on the way home.
I'm already thinking, can we get the same horses next year?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Casting call...

We both thought it was strange when Marc got a ballot in the mail inviting him to vote for the 3rd District Congressional candidate.
I got one but I'm a legitimate Republican born into a Republican family and taught by a Republican mother to only be righteously Republican, nothing else.
Marc is one of the few Democrats I know and love.
His dad was a Democrat and so he's a Democrat. Besides that Marc fits the mold. He likes to go against the flow and argue when it might be easier to agree.
He's dismayed with the Trump administration and never was impressed with Chaffetz.
When John Curtis decided to run for Chaffetz' seat, he was ready to vote for him. He didn't like the other two guys.
Marc worked with Curtis when he was covering Provo City for the Daily Herald and admires him, his philosophy and his abilities.
I have written for John Curtis and about him for Provo and I like him too.
He's a decent guy who thinks clearly and has good ideas when it comes to problem-solving. He's aware of the pitfalls and dangers he faces in the United States congress.
So when Marc looked at the ballot, he was initially excited and ready to cast a vote for Curtis.
Then he thought about it.
Why was he eligible to vote in this race anyway? Why did he get a ballot at all? What was going on?
Turns out Utah County officials made a mistake and sent a whole bunch of unaffiliated voters these ballots which were NOT for them.
The officials in charge discovered their error and retracted their offer but not before I had discarded the ballot.
Turns out people could still use their ballots but the votes for congressman just would not count.
Now Marc wanted his ballot.
He'd left it right on the counter two weeks ago.
I had thrown it away after I mailed mine in.
That meant Marc had to dumpster dive into our recycling bin to find his ballot which he did and now his vote is in the mail.
He was a touch irate with me for tossing it.
But who knew he cared that much?